Raw Thoughts

My heart feels sunburned today, as if it’s peeling and a bit dry. For 8 years, I have advocated for my daughter in her health struggles. I was largely dismissed, and diagnostic tests were not done despite multiple annual requests. We switched health care physician’s groups, and within months a scope was done. The scope confirms our hunches; that parts of her body are not communicating properly with each other. 

My emotions slosh back and forth like waves in a bathtub. I am angry, indignant, rage-filled, and overwhelmed with grief at the years she has lost. I am so angry about the injustice of our needing to be compliant with the health care protocols, so I dutifully took her to counseling to address the psychological aspect of her healing; while the physicians blindly prescribed the same medicine every visit; the medicine that probably contributed to this health issue! They failed to see her as a patient with emergent symptoms and instead blindly did what they always do, prescribe the medicine; get the kickbacks, keep her diagnostic costs down…while her health has faded. 

The worst part is the utter feeling of betrayal, knowing that I have spent countless hours and gas money to initiate change within the same health care provider; volunteering my time to ensure a smoother process for the next patients to enter the system behind me. 

As I held her yesterday and she sobbed, I thought back on the countless messes I have cleaned up for her; of the years of agonizing tears and questions of why she has to be the one to wrestle with this. 

Bitterness and rage would be so easy to embrace…but Christ stands in the way. 

I see Him.

I see His scars, the ones meant for me. 

I hear His agony when He asked why God had forsaken Him…and realize that God forsook Him for me. 

I sinned, I hated, I raged, I manipulated, I coveted, I wanted what I wanted…with no thought at all about anyone but myself. 

My mistakes and deliberate choices to serve myself have all nailed Christ to the cross…before I even was alive; before I sinned. 

I have been loved so deeply, so undeserved; how could I not  love others with the same depth of grace that has been lavished on me? 

I forgive them…every single Dr., Nurse, and Physician Assistant, all the bureaucrats that passed regulatory guidelines pressuring the medical providers to care more about seeing cost reduction and less about seeing the symptoms of their patients. I forgive myself for feeling trapped and tired, and failing to fight harder. 

The presence of forgiveness and grace doesn’t mean lack of accountability, however. I am more determined than ever to make things right for my daughter, who has lost 8 years of her life to an embarassing medical condition. I am tenacious in my dedication to be vocal on behalf of the voiceless. I refuse to sit idly by and allow other children to suffer through thinking that their Dr. has the only say in their health. Second opinions are an important part of discovery, and diagnostic tools are valuable tools to be utilized for the benefit of the PATIENT, not to be avoided for the benefit of the bottom line! 

I will be present and vocal at meetings, I will ask the toughest of questions, and I will not be bought. I will represent the voices of the poorest, the ones who don’t even realize that advocacy is their right. I will respectfully debate and persuade and hold accountable those in leadership. I will embrace the forgiveness of the one who forgave me, while still lovingly revealing areas where change is needed. 

My daughter deserves a legacy. Hers will be one that delicately embraces the passion of admitting the wrongs that were committed while gracefully offering forgiveness. It will be the most demanding and beautifully painful dance of my life. As I embrace my Father God, I trust that He will tenderly lead my steps to the music He sings over us. 

He is big enough and omnipresent enough to dance with you through your journey as well. Pour out your heart to Him, yell if necessary. Be breathless as He tenderly and strongly leads you into wholeness. Do you hear the music? I do. His song is your invitation. 

May our hearts have courage, may we leave our fears behind, may we boldly join Him on the dancefloor of life, and may we forgive as we have been forgiven.

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Love Reflections

How much do I cherish and seek after love? What am I willing to lay aside in order to receive love more fully? (What would possess a person to wear shoulder cut outs in a snow storm? Am I proud of how quickly I am distracted from focusing on Love? Nope…I am shameless; and in that lies my redemption.)

I am unflinching in my confession that I have no hope of ever being kind, unselfish, or loving on my own. Instead, I admit that there is not a shred of anything good in me, except by the Love of God.

Yesterday, I was very upset with my dear husband. I felt that I deserved an apology, I felt that it was delaying beyond what I wanted; so I prayed out my feelings (and my opinion) to God. I told Him that I wanted an apology. I prayed that God would “move his heart to see his error”. (This sounds absolutely awful as I type out the reality of yesterday, but, it’s what I did.)

Anyhow, as I am praying for my husband to be convicted in his spirit for offending me, I felt like I was being asked a personal question.

“Gracie, did you apologize before I died for you?”

Gulp.

Then I remembered the following:

I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.”

JOHN 13:34‭-‬35 AMP
http://bible.com/1588/jhn.13.34-35.AMP

Hmmm…

How have I been loved? Oh, that’s right, Jesus didn’t just forgive me before I apologized; He took the consequence that I had chosen, before I chose it.  Additionally, He prayed on my behalf, seeking forgiveness for me, before I apologized.

“Just as I have loved you…”

Before an apology.

Before repentance.

Before I even knew that I had sinned.

Ouch.

Instead of simply praying, “Father, forgive him for he knows not what he is doing”, I was also praying;  ” Father, forgive me, for I know not what I am doing. ”

Yesterday I was reminded that I was not reflecting the Father’s love.

What does my story have to do with you?

Are you reflecting His love?

Are you, like Him, praying that the Father forgives them, for they know not what they are doing?

If not, may the Father forgive you, for you know not what you are doing.

<3,

Gracie K.

Lightbreak in the Burrow 2

Lightbreak in the Burrow

Infection, glitches and forgiveness

“All that you have for me today I joyfully receive”

-Amy Grant in her book “Mosaic”

That prayer has become my game changer. The simple faith that is embodied in one short sentence has redirected my gaze back to Christ; usually in the moments that seem the farthest removed from my own definition of good.

I hesitated to share the following, because I don’t want it to sound boastful, trite, or superficial. Originally I had determined to write this as a third person narrative in order to conceal intimate details of my own life.

Instead, I have been convicted that it’s my story, my struggle; and   it’s time to tell it.

My beautiful family is blended. Some of our children spend part of their time with us, some of our children spend all of their time with us, and one of our children is a young adult. In our family like everyone else’s, germs happen. Infection spreads. Sickness occurs.

Life is interrupted.

As in, exposure happened.

Red throats happened. Plural throats.

In the moment that I received that text apologizing for a child’s positive result; I stood at a crossroads. I could have exploded a venomous sarcastic spew of hurt.

Amy Grant’s prayer lilted through my mind like a lyrical melody of hope and grace. I was reminded of another conversation in the past month; one where teary eyes were seen, gracious yet true confrontation happened, and I humbly accepted full responsibility for an horrendously painful mistake. I was recently gifted with the forgiveness that I did not deserve, and the genuine friendship that I had done nothing to earn.

Who am I to refuse forgiveness when I have been forgiven so fully, and embraced into friendship so completely?

So, I responded with a text that simply said, “It’s forgiven”.

That was NOT where it ended.

In my volunteer work, there is a year-end celebration that James and I look forward to every December. We put on our nice clothes and enjoy a date night, complete with prime rib, fun socializing, a recap of the year’s accomplishments, and my personal favorite: a whipped sweet potato bar, with bacon bits for toppings!

Can you guess where this is going?

First, Marissa had it. Next, Ruby had the symptoms. I was starting to feel feverish on the morning of the celebration. I left work in a hurry to rush Ruby and I to our consecutive appointments. I ran into the house to wake her, and the dog thought it was a game. I opened my eyes as I hit the fridge on my way to the floor. I laid on my back, staring at the ceiling.

I peeled myself up, rushed Ruby to the car; and everything else went downhill from there. I missed the exit. I missed the driveway. The self check-in kiosk wouldn’t let me past, so we were even later.

I had the same choice to make again and again: either I choose to remember that I already forgave this, or I stay bitter…and make myself into a liar.

I prayed that I would receive everything today with JOY, right?

I gave my word that would receive EVERYTHING with JOY, right?

So, I yielded my right to be angry. I gave up my indignation. In that Holy Spirit-filled moment of supernatural grace, I had joy as I trusted that my Daddy God would somehow take it and turn this situation into a beautiful gift.

Ruby also had a positive test result. My test may have been too early in the incubation stage, as my fever had just begun to rise. We picked up James from work, and set out to pick up our medicine. While at the doctor’s office, they had discovered a different underlying infection in me, aside from the potential throat infection.

On the way, I called to say that I wouldn’t be at the year-end celebration. I couldn’t potentially infect so many people just because of my selfish desire to enjoy my friends while consuming large quantities of whipped sweet potatoes out of a margarita glass.

At the pharmacy, my prescription coverage wouldn’t run. I’ve recently been assigned to 2 coverage plans, one as the primary insurance and one as secondary insurance.

Enter the computer glitch.

Forty minutes later, the pharmacist and I had both made phone calls, and we had each spoken with multiple people.

Representatives from my insurance company all patiently attacked the computer glitch to rectify the situation. The pharmacist patiently walked them through the process.

Again, another choice to keep my word and choose joy in everything.

In my heart, I quietly prayed and asked, “God, what are you doing here? I trust you… I just don’t understand.”

He reminded me of the $8.00 difference that was adjusted…and also of the more than 100,000 other subscribers; some of whom also have two coverages, and who need that extra money as much or more than we do.

I was reminded of how when we lift our eyes off of our comfort, and fix them in joyful trust onto our faithful creator, He makes one big mess into a beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption… Infections, germs and all.

Intentional Forgiveness & Racial Wrongs

I have been gifted with a heart that sees no difference in a person based on their skin color or nationality or even their economic status.

The first thing that I notice about a person is whether they are happy or sad, and whether or not their smile reaches their eyes.

Growing up, I was told that I had a “huge, tender heart” and a passion for justice.

The only things that I have ever seen as “black and white” are things that can be categorized as “right and wrong”.

I love diversity and thoroughly enjoy learning from others about their culture and life experiences.  I have intentionally read books which were written by authors that have different life experiences from my own.

I immerse myself in many different genres of music that I might glean even a glimmer of truth about the perspectives of others.

In the Fall of 1997, i was given an opportunity to hate.

In 1998, that opportunity was expanded and it festered to a staggeringly hard force to resist.

Some of you will read this and misuse it as a warped and crooked way to relay more hatred and dissension. May you be rebuked, rebuffed, and changed.

If you read this story and twist it into a weapon of hatred, then your heart is the one that needs change and redemption.

The following is where my story of racial reconciliation and redemption took root so that I could be liberated.

In October of 1997, I was attending a Christian University.  I sang in the (African American) Gospel Choir.  I joined it because it was the first musical experience that I ever had where my heart felt at home and my soul soared with the music.

Originally, when I joined years earlier, I was teased good-naturedly because of how pale my skin is…seriously, I am pale.

I had also served on the Diversity Council during a semester in college.

I had wept my way through the elevated train ride that wound through the projects that were then in existence in Chicago.  I literally wept to see the condition that people were living in after I had just seen the magnificence of the Miracle Mile.

There is no eloquent transition to cushion the harshness of my next paragraphs. I am sorry in advance for my bluntness.

I was raped at a Christian College by a minority man that I trusted and went to church alongside of.  Over the years, he held me when I cried at chapel services.  He went on group dates with me and my friends.

The betrayal of his rape was masked at first by the medication that I was on following a fall and subsequent dislocation of my collarbone.  The medication has since been banned by the FDA for causing blackouts, birth defects, and miscarriage.

My flashbacks about the rape started a few days before i miscarried the daughter that I had no idea I was carrying.

I had recently started working out and running, and I had been on and off of antibiotics, so I just assumed that my body fluctuations were from sickness, exercise and lack of sleep.

Because I had a history of ovarian cysts, I was on birth control; and when I confided in a counselor that I thought I may have miscarried, she reacted with adamant claims that I couldn’t be pregnant while on birth control.

I spun into denial…until that summer when I had a doctor appointment that asked, “Number of pregnancies? Number of miscarriages?”

I had a panic attack in the Dr’s office as everything came crashing back like a flood.

Grief engulfed me like a hurricane.

Guilt burdened me like a pair of concrete shoulder pads.

My heart was ravaged, my innocence was taken, and the child I had longed for yet waited for until marriage had fallen from my womb and I never had a chance to hold her.

I was working at a Christian Camp for the summer when the floodgates of my grief burst open in a deluge.

I was comforted to find a ring that had a Lily on top of a beautiful stone. I had named my daughter Lilly Cherie as part of my journey through grief.

Grief and mourning often cloud our mind and we are held back from wisdom and perception. I confided in a fellow worker about why my ring was so important to me.

They misunderstood me when I said that I didn’t remember all the details, and thought I said that I couldn’t remember who the father of my baby was.

I was the butt of jokes for the rest of the summer.

I would walk into a room and hear a chorus of, “Who’s the daddy?” with laughter mocking me as I went on my way through…often to cry and regain my composure.

Instead of promoting healing by embracing me with grace, certain co-workers added to my heart rending pain and agony.

I took a week away from camp and spent time with my mentors at their Lakeshore home. I was overcome with grief and anger.  They walked me through the beginning stages of intentional forgiveness.

I say intentional forgiveness because everything in me desired at the very least to punch the ones who were mocking my grief and pain.

My mentors challenged me instead to intentionally choose to honestly tell Daddy God how I hurt, who hurt me, and then to fully surrender the pain and desire for revenge to HIM.

It sucked. It just did.

I don’t wish that journey on anyone.

The searing pain of indignation, the agony of their mockery, the gnawing beast of loss and grief that threatened to overtake me, all of it I chronicled in my prayer journals.

My intentional forgiveness came in steps, in seasons, and in moments.

It was and still is a journey.

It was the most deliberate and intentional time of my life.

My heart was raw with grief, until I discovered that His Grace was the renegade of healing that I craved.

I deliberately chose to step into relationships with others of the same minority group that had a member rape me, and then some members mock me and attempt to humiliate me.

I sought friendships anyway, remembering that those who had endured slavery’s atrocities had chosen to trust the Northerners who fought for their freedom.  I remembered stories of Prisoners of War who chose to forgive their captors.

I heard Anne Lamont’s quote that “Not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die”.

It was horrific and humbling all at once.

Intentional forgiveness is the most painful and liberating journey that one can ever embark on.

It takes courage from stores of reserve that you won’t know you possess, that you can’t possess until you look to Him.

You cannot do it alone.

You need a savior to cling to. You need a Daddy God that will receive your honesty, grief and candor as a heartfelt and vulnerable act of worship.

He’s waiting.

Fall on your face if need be. He is the Strong One who sees you, and He will pick you up.

Be real with Him.

He can take it.