What cha gonna wear? The art of dressing for lasting impact.

Magazines, pinterest and the fashion bloggers inform us about the latest trends. They’ll advise on appropriate attire for any occasion. They talk about pairings from a handbag selection to which sunglasses to wear and then a suggested nail polish color to complete “the look.”

The way a person adorns themselves reflects their personality and makes a statement. I like dressing and adornments. It is such an art form. I enjoy selecting outfits because garments have a setting, a reason and a purpose to fulfill. Hmm? What cha gonna wear?  Decorating myself, reflecting my mood and representing my personality is enjoyable. It does, however make packing for a trip difficult.

As I begin the packing process, an inner dialogue begins. Will I need this? Should I bring that? Oh, here’s my favorite jacket! Should I stick it in the bag too? Ugh! There’s not enough room for it. Go put that away. No! Rachel, you’ll only need a sweatshirt. True! Then I debate with myself…But what if that one smells like a bon-fire?

Weather conditions must also be considered. Well, what if it rains? Will it be cold? It might be. Oh, Boy! So I’ll include the long-sleeved shirt.  I better pack more suits, I don’t want to wear the same one everyday! After this mental gymnastics, half of my clothes lie on the bedroom floor in neat little hopeful stacks.

I hear them cry out, “Take me, take me!” 

“Over here! Hey, I want to go along!” they seem to beg me to pack them.

I gaze at the piles and touch each stack one more time to help determine the final cut. I feel badly, as I put viable options back in the closet. I wonder, Hmm? Is this the way a great coach feels as he decides, out of all these great players, which members get picked for the team.

We have a trip to a lake coming up soon. I’ve already packed. Otherwise, I’ll continue to add to the selection. As it is, my suitcase is FULL.

As I stuffed my bag I heard, remember to include clothes for:

  • sleeping.
  • lounging
  • walking
  • going into town
  • candy store outings
  • boating
  • riding the go cart
  • riding the jet ski
  • dining out
  • thrifting
  • biking
  • pontoon rides
  • toasting marshmallows by the campfire
  • bowling

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This shindig held in Minnesota’s northern woods, is such an intensely relational and rich week.  It’s a wonderful highlight of the summer! For over twenty years I have attended this gathering. So needless to say, I’ve selected clothing and packed a time or two. However, whenever I’ve spent time with these life-long friends, I cannot remember what anyone has worn. It’s like I have apparel and fashion amnesia, a complete memory wipe! (until I found these photos)

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What sticks in my mind… What I do remember, however, is the way they acted and treated each other. I do have a pretty clear recollection and an overall sense of how I feel while being around each person. I have vivid memories of compassion shown, support given, laughter shared and community tears flowing.

I’ve witnessed sweet kindnesses and been a grateful recipient of tender compassion and true empathy. We’ve played and prayed together. We’ve worshipped God and sung to Him with thankful hearts. These memories have made a lasting impact on how I remember these weeks. It’s probably why it’s a highlight of my summer.

Back to what to wear…Yes, there is a reason to wear semi-nice, lounging and athletic clothes. These things do make it into my suitcase. I am praying that I won’t be concerned about my clothes-what I bring or forget to bring. Instead, as I head to the cabin I’ll ask myself, will I be able to wear the “outfits” that Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God has instructed me to wear?

Why should I wear these things? I wear them because I am raised with Christ, seated with him in the heavens. I put them on because I’m hidden with Christ and one of God’s chosen people. I’m dearly loved and no longer an earthly creature.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:12-17
So let me ask you…“What cha gonna wear?” What was the person wearing who lately made an impact on you? Oh, no, just let me guess… They were probably clothed with:
  • compassion
  • kindness
  • humility
  • gentleness
  • patience
  • forgiveness
  • love
  • thankfulness
  • good instruction
  • calling others up
  • wisdom
  • gladness

When clothed in these things there is lasting impact. So let me ask you- “What cha gonna wear?”

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“Bye Bye ‘Milk Dud!'”

It was Friday and I was ready! The long-awaited day had come. I thought, Finally, I’ll get my “Milk Dud” removed.  I wasn’t concerned. My team of prayer warriors were on it and I had no anxiety.   (My last blog post gives some background if you need it.)

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The day before my surgery, I went to a friend’s house.  She prayed for me. “God would you cut those hard places away? Would you remove them from Rachel? May they no longer cause her pain.” She said, “Please remove anything that has been plaguing her, take it out along with this ‘Milk Dud.'”

During the day of surgery, I saw so many “winks” from God:

  • Michael was able to come with me and drove both ways.IMG_3979
  • From the moment we walked into the hospital we were treated well by everyone.
  • We saw this on the wall while checking in. God was letting me know He was on it. He was with me, He would even refresh me.img_1271.jpg
  • The nurses who prepped me for surgery were delightful. They were both kind and attentive. “Let’s have you hop up on this bed here. Let me lift your head. Now I’ll take your blood pressure. I wish mine were that low. Wow! Have you got big plans for the weekend?” she asked. I told her my 4th of July holiday plans.

Then in walked the surgeon who sweetly greeted me. He brushed my feet and patted one on his way around my bed. “I’m going to make an incision along the hair-line. You won’t be able to tell where this thing even was. First let me numb you up here. Just a tiny prick now. Rachel, how is your pain tolerance?” He inquired.

“Well, I had my son Andrew in the front seat of our car, so I think I can handle this!” I replied.

“REALLY?” he said. “Boy, that’s a story, I’m sure! Okay, can you feel me pinching you at all now?”

“Nope!” I answered.

We talked during most of the procedure. I was so glad I was awake. He asked again, “Do you remember ever being hit in the head or experiencing some trauma to this area?” I told him I may vaguely remember a time when I hit my head on a car door. I hollered, “OUCH!” and had to ice it, but it was so long ago I wasn’t even sure it was my head I had injured.

He continued to cut and we talked. Even now as I write, I remember the sound of the scraping and cutting of his skillful hands. I think the sound may be the freaky part, ugh! I asked.”Does this ‘Milk Dud’ have any branches or a root system coming out of it or is it self-contained? Will you be able to get it all?” I inquired.

“It’s really very deep and the muscle tissues have wrapped themselves around it. I have to get it freed from them and…”

Then i felt the push as he tried to leverage the thing loose.  It was as if he were a gardener, unearthing a bulb from the ground. That is the only time when I considered asking, “Perhaps you should just sew me up and we”ll call it good.”

He whispered,”We are almost there. Boy it is deep!” His volume increased. “I’ve just about got it! Here it comes!”

My eyes may have been closed when he asked, “Would you like to see it?”

“Absolutely!” I exclaimed.

“Well I didn’t see your brains, but it was really deep inside,” the surgeon commented.  Then he presented it to me inside a clear, plastic lab cup. I sat up on the bed a bit straighter and peered inside.

“Wow!” I said. “Now I think I’m going to have to refer to it as my red peanut M&M instead.” (It was red and looked just like a peanut M&M.)

  • The procedure took approximately 30 minutes. When I returned, Michael sat in the waiting area. Gladly occupied, he was reading about two of his favorite things, flying and motorcycles.

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  • This too was a way of God showing me, I really have you both covered. I took this photo with my phone and chuckled as we walked out.IMG_3979
  • I was instructed to ice it. So during the afternoon, I was able to just sit! Without anything urgent to do. (you know that rarely happens.
  • I received a text from a sweet friend. We’ve experienced a relational shift, somewhat painful on both ends. Here’s the neat thing. We texted back and forth a bit and then we had a FACETIME conversation
  • We had the most beautiful conversation and talked through some of the pain points  we had felt. This happened on my surgery and recovery day! It was so healing for my heart.  It was confirmation that God had actually cut away very difficult and hard things. Not just the lump.  I smiled and thought, Rachel do you remember your friend’s prayer yesterday? Think about it…remember she asked God to remove any hard thing along with your milk dud. Some pain I had experienced was gone. Our conversation proved to me that we got rid of it!

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31,32

SO… How’d it go? What did you find out?  Within the next week, I found myself back at the surgeon’s office. He reported my pathology results by saying this, “You had just a hunk a bone inside your head.” He smiled as he shared the good report with me. Yes! . Phew! I’m grateful it was nothing alarming, especially since it was growing.

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I had him locate and feel for a tiny lump that still remains near the site. It’s the size of a BB, but I’m not concerned about it either. Yet I’m praying it does not grow to the size of my peanut M&M. For those of you who pray, please pray it dissolves. The doctor removed the stitches, instructed me to massage the area over the next three months. “This will help it heal completely flat,” he said.

Apparently, when an injury occurs a cyst may form afterward and become calcified. Reflecting now I realize each doctor I have seen regarding my “milk dud” asked me. “Do you remember getting hit in the head? Did you experience any injury or do you remember some sort of trauma?

Those are insightful questions. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out whether I was hit by a car’s door or something else. Both Michael and I vaguely remember me putting ice on my head once. But it was so long ago. Because the “Milk Dud” was with me for years we aren’t certain.

Let me ask you along the emotional and spiritual lines these same questions. Is there some trauma or injury that you’ve experienced? Has it caused a hard thing to form in you?  Was it a long time ago? Has something “hard” formed in you over time?

Let me encourage you, don’t let it get larger. Even right now, consider getting it removed by Jesus, the great physician. He can surgically remove the hard thing with His skillful hands. He is able to make it so the trauma has no distinct scar. He is amazing at healing and restoring us.

Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise. Jeremiah 17:14

For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD,  Hebrews 11:6a

God, it is my prayer that you do a healing work in every life that needs your touch. I pray in Jesus name for you to heal the broken-hearted and bind up the wounded. Please touch our physical bodies as well. I speak a blessing over our bodies in Jesus name. Cut out anything that displeases you and help us understand that you’ve already removed sin’s stain and curse. Help us to release to you anything we are holding onto now. You’ve paid for it Jesus, so we give it back. You’ve died for it, it is removed from us. We say thank you! Thank you! Thank you!  In Jesus name, Amen

 

 

 

 

“Do you feel it? Has it grown?”

I don’t really remember how it formed or when I first noticed it, but it definitely was there! A lump on the side of my head, on my hairline. My “MILK DUD” is what I’ve called it.  It lay slightly beside my ear, yet below my temple and directly above the spot where a man’s sideburns grow. Barely noticeable, it first grew to the size of a pea, so I had a doctor take a look. Because I was experiencing some headaches, a scan was performed. The scan came back “normal” with no real concern about the lump either. Over time, however, it grew. While getting a strep test one winter morning at urgent care, I asked the doctor, “May I ask you about a random thing?”

“Sure!” She replied.

“I’ve got this lump on the side of my head. I think it’s getting harder and bigger. Will you please feel it? You may be grossed out!”  DuhRachel she’s a doctor, she can probably handle it! 

She gently searched behind my temple area a bit, with circular motions in my hairline, until I guided her hand to its location. She felt it and stepped quickly away, “Oh! Yeah, I can feel it!” She asked a few more questions then pulled up my records to compare its size to the original scan. She measured it and quoted the centimeters to me.

“Yes, it has grown,” She said. “So I suggest you contact your primary care doctor.”

Because I knew the scan said it was some sort of calcification and really nothing, I didn’t make an appointment right away. Then I forgot and I didn’t seek to have it removed either. No one can see it! Only at certain times did I even think about it. Okay, well, when I went to the salon, I would be self-conscious about it then. Each appointment would begin with oil rubbed into my scalp. I’d be so relaxed at first then I’d become more alarmed remembering.

I’m sure she can feel the lump right now. Oh, she’s getting close to the spot where the “milk dud” is.  I wonder, is she grossed out?  I should tell her about this lump. It’s really nothing, but it’s kind of something. I don’t really like it, yet it really isn’t anything to be concerned about. Does she want to ask me about it? Should I just tell her?  My ping-ponging thoughts were interrupted, “Okay, Rachel follow me to the shampoo bowl and we will get going on your cut!” So then I’d forget about the hard lump again, at least for a while.

My “Milk Dud” was smack dab where the glasses bows must pass before they slide behind the ears. So putting my sunglasses or readers on is another time when I’d be aware, I think this “Milk Dud” is growing.  Yes! It had grown large enough that I’d have to make sure the glasses bow was above or below my “milk dud” or my glasses would be noticeably crooked. img_4113.jpg
Above the “Milk Dud”

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Below the “Milk Dud”

Okay, well maybe my sunglasses and glasses were NOT this crooked, but they weren’t truly straight either. I did seek its removal. The next blog post will probably be about that whole ordeal and the Spiritual lessons and parallels I’ve learned from my surgery. (there are many)

But let me turn a corner and ask you a quick few questions on a Spiritual level. Is there something in your life that you should be attending to today? Perhaps you feel it is no big deal because it isn’t “seen” by anyone. Is it growing larger? Do you have a “rock hard anything” and is it getting bigger?

It could be a hard lump of:

  • bitterness
  • worry
  • anxiety
  • anger
  • unforgiveness
  • negativity
  • complaining
  • judgement
  • arrogance
  • pride
  • shame

Consider this, is it really yours to remove?

Let’s remember Jesus already died for all of these things. We mistakenly think we can’t shake them. Or they linger around growing and getting harder and larger but they have all been paid for by Jesus blood shed on the cross. We don’t have to carry them any longer. Let’s give them back to Jesus, he paid for them and they no longer belong with us, on us, or in us. We died to sin and are alive to righteousness. The old has gone and the new has come. (See Corinthians 5:17) This is the truth and this is good news!

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the un-circumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of the debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.  Colossians 2:13-15

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  Romans 8: 1,2

“Bye, bye ‘Milk Dud’!” Next time I may write about the surgery that removed my hard “Milk Dud” which I now refer to as my peanut M&M… So you’ll have to stay tuned!

 

 

Is Your Hope Deferred? Is Your Heart Sick?

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12 

Most of us have a “one thing” in our lives. You know, the thing that is our trial or struggle or test. Do you have one? The thing weighs us down at times, but we know we should remain hopeful. I say ‘should’ remain hopeful because we are believers and believers, believe. Otherwise we’d be called doubters, right? I hope, no pun intended, to stir up our hope today.

One Bible verse has been an anchor for me: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13. God is the God of hope and he fills me with hope. I don’t have to do the filling because his Holy Spirit’s power gives this hope. I don’t have to fake it. I don’t have to be the source of the hope. I just have to trust God.

I always thought I trusted God. But my “one thing” has caused me to trust in a whole new way and at a whole new level. I mean sometimes the pain is too much and I  become discouraged. That usually happens when I’m looking at my circumstances rather than at God. The uncertainty of how something will work out feels like I’m in a dark room blindfolded and the way out is completely unclear.

Right now, I have one of those forget it, seems dead, nothing is happening, impossible, how could this ever turn around… circumstances in my life. I’ve been praying for something for 1,161.91 days, but who’s counting? ( ME! I tried to do the math for 3 years 5 months and a number of days) There are days when my hope is deferred and my heart feels sick, but I know God has it and the longing fulfilled will be SUCH a tree of life! I’m not certain of the status of my situation, but I do know that I’m not at the end of the story. I’m in the place where God is still doing his best work and much of that work is in me.

Is there a thing in your life that seems to be impossible? Is it a place where something really seems dead or insurmountable? Maybe its a long time prayer that you have been praying and asking God to move the mountain in your life. God says we are to speak to the mountain and it will be moved.

One thing I know to do during the trial of carrying the weight of my “one thing”  is to look to God and his word. So, let me invite you…let’s both remember his character, his nature and what he is like. This will help us regain our stability on the days in which we  feel like we are spinning.

His word and nature say:

  • He is for us not against us
  • He works all things together for our good
  • He is always present
  • He is a refuge in a time of trouble
  • His name is a strong tower the righteous run in and are saved
  • His grace is sufficient and his power is made perfect in our weakness
  • He is doing things behind the scenes (blog post: When Uncertainty Creeps in- Trust)
  • He is a good father
  • He is faithful to all of his promises
  • He is the light in the darkness
  • He rises to show us compassion
  • We will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living
  • Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see.

Here’s another verse that I love regarding our “one thing” that seems too hard for God.  “Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you. Jeremiah 32:17

Let me leave you with a thought… Go ahead and get your hopes up, reset your TRUST button along with me because “GOD’s got this and he has us!”  May the God of hope fill you with joy and peace as you trust in him.  I pray for you that the longing fulfilled will be a tree of LIFE.

Here are a few songs that have helped me immensely with my “one thing.”

Take Courage – Kristine DiMarco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36L4FCGv-I0

Get Your Hopes Up – Josh Baldwin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6FZzIy6VjA

It Is Well – Kristine DiMarco: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNqo4Un2uZI

Come to Me – Jenn Johnson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sY0Vz8fvIhE