Why I’m Going to Stop “Comfortable Prayers” and Complacency in My Faith

I had a dream. One of those dreams that was so insightful that I willed myself to try to drop rocks in the waters of my haze to remember something concrete for when I awoke. As I held the hard porcelain mug of strong black coffee the next morning, and blinked the fuzziness from my vision, I tried to pull up any tangible memory of what I had dreamt the night before. Just one smooth stone of thought emerged, just one line from a poem by J.R.R Tolkien from The Lord or The RIngs: “Not all who wander are lost.”

The words swam through my head all that day and into the next night. Tossing and turning as I pondered an unanswered question, I finally felt compelled to get out of bed at 4:30 the next morning, to look up the verse that Paul spoke on “Mar’s Hill” (I’m a pastor’s wife, but I had to google where this was in the Bible, because I HAD NO CLUE.)

Here is a portion of what I read from Acts 17, where Paul is speaking to the people of Athens, who had many gods, and many, many altars to gods in their cities:
“Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands (…) because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. (…) God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” Acts 18:22-28

I know God. I know the touch of His presence. And yet, reading this I felt struck. How often do I keep him in the confines of the temples built by hands? How often do I not seek, or reach, or find him, but settle for the lukewarm knowledge that he is just there. I think God is challenging me to wander, to search, and pray, to reach with flexed fingers, and kneel on tired knees. Because if this God I believe in, and know, is all that I imagine him to be, then I want to spend my days searching for more of who He is, so that I can figure out who I am, in Him. Amen? Amen.

Did I mention that right before writing this I found a sign above my writing desk (I’m at an AirBnB in Chicago) it said: Never Stop Exploring.

TO AN UNKNOWN GOD
Wandering, waiting,
Listening, slowing,
“Be still and know,”
But knowledge is fading.

Altars and idols,
Something to satisfy,
Anything that fills,
Our hungering belly.

Flesh that itches,
Wandering minds,
Nothing that fixes,
Only confines.

But God in flesh,
Without an agenda,
Mercy unleashed,
Perfect surrender.

Dwelling in me,
Not God unknown,
Compelled to speak,
of THE GOD that I KNOW.
by Lindsay Hausch

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Your Text Messages Could Be Hurting Your Marriage

Honor your spouse with your text messages. It sounds straight forward, easy even. But as I scroll through the last few weeks of texts between my husband and I, I see ones that show respect, and love, and ones that don’t. Actually, far from it. These unflattering texts each have a story behind them, which I could tell you. Yes, I could paint a picture of exactly why I sent those snarky words. But when the burn of my anger fades, or the importance of the moment gets lost beneath more important things, all I have left are the words. Harsh words that I wish I’d never said, but are kept as a record on my phone.

Preparing for this piece, I went through and took screen shots of some of my texts. I had to wince a few times guys. Because I don’t know about you, but when I’m really angry at my spouse, the easiest thing to do is to shoot off an angry text with harsh words that wouldn’t roll off my tongue as easily. If its not clear, I’m the words highlighted in blue.

I asked my husband if I could share, and he agreed to go along, “if it helps other couples.” So, here I am, being a little vulnerable. I’m putting these angry texts in the light, because thats what God calls us to do with the shameful parts of us.

You Aren’t Alone When it Comes to Text Message Temptation

So am I alone in this? Or do you also send off messages to your loved ones that aren’t always so loving?

Too often I don’t think about how my texts can be ill timed, because I have access to my husband through my phone all the time.

But what if my husband is in the middle of counseling a bereaved wife after the loss of her husband, or scribbling down inspired thoughts for his next sermon? Since he’s a pastor, those are both plausible.

“I see why you need to be more thoughtful about what you text him,” you say, “but my spouse has an ‘ordinary’ job.” Okay, then imagine if she receives a snarky text from you while in the middle of showing a client a house, or in the midst of an exhausting day caring for your kids, already on the verge of tears? Or while he’s in the middle of a small lunch break trying to relax and regain energy, that you’ve now zapped with an angry text—that simply couldn’t wait for a face to face conversation?

Its so easy to share our anger or frustration, or ask our accusing questions, with the push of a button. But these easy words that cut through distance and circumstances, are still words—words that can cut, and damage, and steal our spouse’s focus and their joy, ours too. And I think God is challenging me to be more intentional with them.

I am called to be a bearer of God’s light to the world around me, but I’m realizing there’s a hole in my boat. It seems small and innocent, but if it continues, I believe it could continue to
undermine the love, trust, and loyalty that my husband and I work so hard to build. It not only impacts my ability to be a light to others, but it also slowly drains my husband of his joy and light in his world too.

Use Your Texts for Good

But good news guys! The story doesn’t end here. I also got to go through and see the loving exchanges. The tender words we shared over text that I remember savoring all day. Sweet little words that were kindling for a brighter light of love between us that we can pass on to the people around us.

Think about how words like these could rejuvenate, inspire, and encourage your spouse as they go about the duties and to do’s of every day life. What if I could gently offer him words of love, life, and reconciliation that could bring hope to the dry places of his life and soul?

What Would Jesus Text?

Because sometimes, I wait to share the tenderness and romance with my husband. I wait for the
special occasions instead of threading them through the fabric of every day life as a married couple. But as I look at Jesus’ life, I see how He transformed the plain and ordinary into the sacred and miraculous. He used spit and mud to make a man see, and some loaves of bread and a few fish to fill the bellies and souls of hungry people. I think if Jesus lived in a time where texting was common place, he would have found a way to use text messages to share love and light too.

In marriage we spur one another on. My goal this Fall is to use texting to uplift my husband and to funnel my love and God’s love for him, into his ordinary every day.

What do you think? I’d love to see your most loving, inspiring, or silly texts to the ones you love!

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What to Do When You’re a Grown Up and You Still Have Anxiety

Once upon a time I thought I had my life all figured out. Things seemed to be falling into the right places. I was leading a group of moms, that made me feel like I had a voice and that I was doing “my part.” I was working towards writing a book, and pursuing public speaking. From the outside, it looked like I was living out my dreams.

But for a while, there have been small cracks webbing over the glossy surface of my life, reminding me that I can’t continue to sustain this image for long. And then the girl who seems to have it all together had a panic attack in the middle of leading a women’s study.

 It shouldn’t be a surprise. I’ve carried a lot of stress for a long time. A blend of my daughter’s restlessness and my own insomnia have meant I haven’t been sleeping. For the past couple of months I’ve been having trouble being in settings with a lot of people again, reverting to struggles of my old self. Yes, that anxiety that I’d filed away in the drawer of my past is creeping out and making itself known in my present. Shaking sweating hands, racing thoughts, trouble catching my breath, inability to slow down or process the situation normally, all these symptoms that I share about as things I’ve learned to overcome, are overcoming me.

Its embarrassing and inconvenient. I worry what others are really thinking. I start to feel uncomfortable in my own skin, which is an odd feeling as a 30-something woman– like I’m an awkward teenager again.

To cope, I could resort to old unhealthy habits of my past. But then, I should be older and wiser now right? But the truth is, when I try to think about a long term plan, even when I think about the prospect of finding a counselor, or how I’m going to cope with things that feel stressful and anxiety provoking in the next few weeks, I freeze up. It was this overwhelm that led me to being curled up and immovable on my couch, unable to cope when I was younger.

So this 30-something woman hasn’t learned much, but I’ve learned one simple trick to keep plotting through this familiar maze called anxiety. Its taking the next step.

The next step during my book club was admitting my weakness and getting support to get through the hour. The next step was to leave there with my head held high, to get my daughter, and pick her up and smell her hair, to drive us home and make lunch. The next step was to not give into the thoughts of shame and self doubt, to put her down for a nap, and sit and cry, and listen to good music and pray. Yesterday, all I could do was do the next right thing, and then the next. Today it was waking up, and drinking coffee that tasted like grace, a half of a Pilates workout, and then to cancel my social plans and give myself the time and space I need.

These panic attacks aren’t convenient when it comes to my passion for public speaking and leading. Its not convenient with my husband’s job that is also in the public eye. But I can’t think about the big life implications. I can’t redirect my whole course or make any life changing decisions right now. I just have to trust that God will help me find my way, and the the next right thing will guide me back to who He’s created me to be.

I know that Paul had a thorn in his flesh that God used to empower him. I’m not Paul, and my thorn is probably not as great as his was, but it reminds me that this anxiety thing is a piece of my life that will continue to make itself known on and off. Its something that even as a mom, a wife, a professional, and a “mature and capable grown up,”  I’ll never fully be rid of. While its annoying, and frustrating, its also a gift. Its God’s way of directing me back to Him, so that in this weakness, His power can be made perfect in me. After all, the secret that we grown ups keep, is that we all have so much more growing to do.

 

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Finding Your Way

(the verse above was written and given to me in a collection of verses from the teachers at St. John’s)

FINDING YOUR WAY

If you don’t know which way is up or is down,
When emotions are whirly twirly around
and you can’t choose your left or your right.
Let love be your compass
Let love be your light.

Take a deep breath,
You don’t have to hurry,
Just think loving thoughts,
It untangles the worries.

People will fill up your ears with bad news
Sometimes they’ll tell you that life is a bother,
They’ll try to convince you that your way’s not right,
But fill up your chest with a breath and a sigh,
And talk to God, Let Him lead, not your pride.

God made you to be who he made you to be,
Not Cooper, or Eva, not Hannah, not me,
Your heart knows the way, cuz God’s voice is inside,
Keep moving forward, one step at a time.

Do the next right thing, and the next, and the next,
When you go bit by bit, you don’t have to be vexed.

Your heart knows the way,
You’re never alone,
Close your eyes tight, and pray ,
Let love guide you home.

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How to Heal a Broken Heart

People disappoint us. We give them our time, our trust, and maybe even our secrets, and sometimes, they don’t protect it like it deserves to be protected.

People are true too. They are loving and devoted, generous and tender. But the ugly and beautiful aren’t always distinguishable on the outside. Or maybe its that each of us are a mosaic blend of ugly and beautiful fragments..

When we entrust the beautiful parts of ourselves to people who are careless, our hearts can feel beat up, broken, or even hardened.

God thinks out hearts are pretty important. So important that, “from (them) flows the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Rejection has a way of bruising my heart. Intentional or unintentional hurtful words burrow in like thorns that cause sharp and unexpected pain. Sometimes I know why my heart is hurting, but I’ve let the pain grow so deep, that I have trouble figuring out exactly where it started, like finding a splinter in a callused foot. My heart can start to get callused from wear and tear, pain forming a barrier that makes me feel less and less.

A once fleshy hearts can become so solid and impervious that it repels instead of absorbs. It can build layer after layer of self protection that shields from feeling any emotion. It fortresses itself against life, instead of being a pipeline of love to the surrounding world.

God knows the condition of our hearts. He knows that we need His grace poured into our heart cups—that we pour that grace into each others heart cups to be whole again.  His grace is the antidote to a hardened heart. It is the elixir we need to be able to love.

“I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26)

I use to admire the people who let tragedy, disappointment, and rejection ping off them like the flat rocks that skid across smooth water. My life would be so much less complicated if I cared less; if I felt less.

But God calls us to experience the world through loving hearts that feel, and hurt. He wants our hearts to beat and break for the community around us. A heart too tough to absorb the pain, may mean we need a heart transplant. We need God to remove the hearts that have curled in on themselves and hardened. Because tender hearts that hurt and feel, are sensitive to God’s molding and shaping, refining and defining as we engage our worlds with vulnerable hearts, willing to be known.

As a kid, I always felt ashamed when an unkind word or mean glance caused me to cry in front of my peers. At some point, we learn that being tender hearted is a bad thing.

My four year old is starting Pre-K. I’m feeling typical mommy nerves over what this year holds in store for her. But I think my biggest fear is that my daughter will begin to learn that she can’t wear her heart entirely on her sleeve. Her heart is so visible, pulsing through every inch of her little body and pouring out of her intensely blue eyes. Her heart is open and tender, and untouched by the world’s wounds. I love that her heart is like a vibrant paint, that spills and colors every part of her life with intensity and feeling. When she cries, it is with earth shaking sobs and big gliding tears. Her anger curls with a hook in her brow over great betrayal and injustices. Her joy, is so intense that it beams from her face like sunlight that brightens a dark room and helps you to see. When she loves, it is a passionate, kisses all over my face, look me deeply in my eyes, kind of love, that I know she feels with every fiber of her being.

As adults we learn to stuff, swallow, or hide emotions. We don’t want to feel too sad, so we numb it with pleasant distractions. Nor do we want to feel too happy, it could lead to disappointment. So we are divided by happiness, and anticipation, as we wait for the other shoe to drop. We don’t give ourselves over to the throws of anger, even at injustice, because adults are suppose to stay even tempered. And love, well love seems okay as long as it is returned to us in equal amounts. If we love more than we’re loved in return, then the imbalance can pose a risk—and rational adults don’t like to gamble with their hearts.

But then there is God. A God that whose heart is pure, passionate, and pursuing. He rages over injustice, cries out and weeps, He loves and longs for us like His bride.

God takes risks in relationships. He meets us more than halfway. He gives more than we can ever repay. He loves and forgives when we don’t deserve it.

Callused hearts are rendered useless by unforgiven hurts, dark and unmet longings, and deep seeded pains that can’t ever be completely unrooted or explained.

A world without God makes our hearts harder and less feeling. But God makes our hearts beat like new again. He replaces the heart that is twisted and scarred and knows too much, with a new heart of flesh that beats supernaturally for a world that needs more of us—a world that needs more of Him–a world that needs love.

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My First Book Launch Team: More Than Just Making It

About 6 weeks ago I signed up to be a part of my first ever book launch team. I didn’t know what this was exactly, but I knew I was 100% behind the author Erin Odom. You see, I’m in a writing support and encouragement group called Hope*Writers. Us Hope*Writers, we like to stick together, to pray for one another, to give positive feedback, and to promote each others work. But in HW, Erin is a shining star. Not just because her blog, Humbled Homemaker, is an amazing resource for moms (it is!), and not just because she is a great writer (she is), but because she is a person that is always answering questions, lifting others up, and offering encouragement and useful advice to other aspiring writers. This is an author I want to get behind.

To my surprise, her book More Than Just Making It wasn’t about mindful living or deeper spiritual awareness like I initially thought. Those are threads woven into it too, but when my book arrived in the mail, I laughed out loud. The full title was: More Than Just Making It: Hope for the Heart of the Financially Frustrated. While I’d love to read another book on living in the moment, receiving this book was a God wink, or as Erin calls it, “a kiss from Jesus.”

Yes God had been listening to my prayers. A burst pipe and a flooded house have displaced us from our home all summer. Dealing with insurance and the onslaught of expenses was not the easy process we’d imagined. In March my youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare auto-immune disease that meant a week long hospital stay, prescriptions, and a monthly visit to the hospital’s infusion center. As a LCMS pastor, my husband is blessed with a generous paycheck, but all these circumstances on top of each other, meant God was challenging us to make every dollar count.

 Money is an uncomfortable topic that most of us would rather avoid. But Erin cuts through the tension with personal stories that pull you in. Her useful advice feels like its coming more from a friend over coffee, rather than just a book of how to’s. More than that, her engaging stories and compelling honesty help me think about other friends that may be in need. Friends that beneath the smiling facade, might be struggling to buy enough food to feed their family. Her book has helped me become more clued in to the difficult reality that exists within my own community and church.

I recommend Erin’s book if you’re looking for ideas on how to make your budget stretch, or even looking for supplemental income. I also recommend her book for those that are financially secure, to go along with Erin on her journey as an educated woman from a “good Christian home,” living in poverty. She upends our comfortable categories, and challenges readers to see that anyone could find themselves barely making it.

More than Making It shares a message of hope, offering practical advice, along with the hope that comes from faith and God’s redemption.

After all, Erin Odom is an example of how God can walk with us through difficult circumstances, that shape us into Hope*Writers; she is a walking testament to how our sad songs become love songs, and how our struggles transform into stories of His goodness.

Pre-order your copy of More Than Just Making It before September 5th to receive $220 of free bonus gifts. 

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Wide Open Spaces- The Summer We Gave Up on Having Plans

I’ve joked that this is the summer of “Wide Open Spaces.” Yes, “Wide Open Spaces,” like the 1998 song by the Dixie Chicks that I shouted along to while driving my baby yellow Jeep Wagoneer, windows down, hair flying, pink rhinestoned sunglasses sitting defiantly below my over-plucked eyebrows. While the song hummed of independence as a teenager, its become our summer theme song because it sings of our calendar- lots of wide open spaces, to fill,with two young girls in a small apartment. Wide open spaces because we’ve cancelled our summer plans and vacations in order to focus on getting our house back together after it flooded from a burst pipe on Mother’s Day.

Before you feel too bad for me, know that I don’t regret the house flood of Mother’s Day 2017, because it has given us an opportunity to make repairs on the house that we wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. Its given us a nice pool to use all summer, and a smaller living space to have to clean. Its taught me that I can survive an entire summer with only four pairs of pants, five shirts, and two pairs of shoes, and its shown me that our family is whole because of the way we love each other, wherever we live.

I’m feeling nostalgic because our apartment living is coming to an end in two weeks when the lease is up, house- ready or not (praying for ready).

But this summer of Wide Open Spaces in a small apartment has taught me a thing or two about how to live life well, that I’d like to remember when we’re back home with a full Fall calendar.

  1. I can busy myself with mindless stuff even when my calendar is wide open–Mindless TV, social media, email, etc. Stuff that keeps my mind busy, and hands moving, but leaves my heart with an ache of empty.
  2. There’s something valuable about lingering with other people. Being present, without an agenda, to just let the minutes, hours, and days unfold together with meandering conversation, tender moments between our children, and memories that will write our life stories and our kid’s identity. Thank you Erin, Patria, Danielle, and CeCe. I love you so.
  3. My kids like to just be with me. No screens, No nifty gadgets or toys. Laying together in a big king bed will do. Our bodies tangle together as we tell each other silly stories, ask and answer outrageous questions, and dream out loud.
  4. I always found the John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans,” insightful but incredibly cliche. Its amazing though, the amount of time and life there is to live when you aren’t busy cleaning, preparing, and planning. It has given me time to ponder, to write, and to just breathe. I want to create more margin to just live in the present, rather than always preparing, and making other plans.
  5. I lost my bible somewhere with all the rest of my important stuff in storage. Since my brother in law is in the “used books reselling biz” I got my hands on Albert Liao’s Bible. It was sitting on the top of a box of discarded books. Albert’s Bible is filled with a lifetime of highlights and notes of a man that was searching for God in his own life story. This summer of “Wide Open Spaces,” I read Albert’s Bible and remember again and again that we all have our own stories, stories that ebb and flow with restlessness and contentedness, heart-splitting pain and heart splitting joy, but His truth always brings sense to it all.
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An Editor- A Blog

I was thrilled when Erika said I could publish her first post here on the blog.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! xo L (a Christian mom 😉 )

By Erika Ayn Finch

I’m writing this blog because of a Christian mom. And I’m not a Christian. Not a mom, either.
     L came into my life around 2010. We met on a fashion photoshoot — I as the editor and she as the hair stylist. We realized we were neighbors. Like right-across-the-street-I-see-you-get-the-newspaper-in-your-pajamas neighbors. When she and her husband moved in, I thought they were polygamists, a theory I devised after observing numerous young girls unload boxes and multiple refrigerators into the garage. As it turned out, they were not polygamists, but her husband was the pastor of the local Lutheran church, and the congregation helped them move. The refrigerators? He was also a home brewer (just like my husband).
     The four of us became fast friends, despite numerous differences that never seemed to bother any of us. We bonded over beer, wine, food, books, beauty and Costco. I co-hosted L’s baby shower. Then my husband and I moved out of the neighborhood, and not long after, L and her husband moved to California. There were tears when we said goodbye. But I wondered whether or not we’d keep in touch aside from the random Facebook likes every now and again. As it turned out, our friendship was deeper than I realized. We visited them in California, and they came back to Sedona with their young family. We drank beers in our garage one Sunday afternoon just like they had never left.
     But above all, L encouraged me to write for myself like no one has ever encouraged me. She started blogging when she moved to California. She blogs about God and about being a mom, and though these aren’t normally topics I would follow, I follow L. When I got the idea to blog my way through Europe last June, she was my biggest cheerleader, reading and commenting on my posts. As it turned out, I absolutely loved blogging. I loved being honest as opposed to putting on a diplomatic face. I loved writing about something other than northern Arizona, where I’m based. I loved the immediacy of it, the brevity, the ability to experiment with words, to be sexy, to be sarcastic.
     The blog ended when I returned to the red rocks and resumed my editor-in-chief duties. A couple of readers mentioned that they missed my voice, but L was more insistent. Persistent. She introduced me to Medium.com. She texted to ask when I was going to get back into it. I’ve never been goaded before. Turns out, I found it flattering. And I was flattered by the fact that someone cared enough about my voice that they weren’t going to give up on me. Who finds that level of encouragement when they are 40 years old?
     Thank you, L. This first one’s for you.

Erika Ayn Finch is a Northern Arizona based editor-in-chief, author of An Editor A-Blog, crazy cat lady, world traveler, foodie, francophile and all-around smartass.
Follow her on Medium at: @ErikaAyn

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Bless the Lord O My Soul -Through Depression

I crept outside into the quiet buzz of night. I lay my head on the cool grass of our front yard and stared at the stars. I remember thinking, one day, one day when my life makes sense, I will write about this. 

The memory creeps up on me now after reading Psalm 103, “The life of the mortals is like grass.”

I remember the haze of depression and anxiety  I was walking through that night almost two years ago, right after giving birth to my second daughter Elyse. I went outside to stare at the stars, to remind myself that there was a world outside my own spinning head. I needed to remember that no matter how chaotic my mind was, there were still stars that shone, and grass that grew, and a cool night breeze that could kiss the tears that ran down my cheeks.

Sometimes we need to remember that we are cherished and loved. We need to be reminded that we matter.

But when my thoughts are so loud and noisy that its hard to escape my own mind, I need to remember how small I am. I need to remember that my problems, and my fears are like a blade of grass in a thick sea of green.

The world looks different in the deep night, from the ground looking up. As hard as this disease of mental illness is, I’m so grateful that it forces me to pause and look outside myself. To look for angels on the hillside when it seems like I’m fighting a losing battle. I’m grateful that the deep longing in my soul reminds me to look for “He that is in me,” rather “than he who is in the world.” (1John 4:4 (emphasis added)

When my body feels heavy and ill fitting, and my mind doesn’t seem to tick the way it should, I can call to Him from “my inmost being.” I can be flawed and broken, because “He heals all my diseases,” Yes He satisfies me with good things, He renews my youth, He redeems my life. (Psalm103)

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Infusion Day

I’m sitting here with a faint smile across my lips. My daughter is laying across my lap, her hand cupping the perfect point of her chin. We’re resting and waiting as the medicine drip, drip, drips into her veins.

Once a month we come to the hospital’s infusion center for her to get a steroid drip and IVIG blood infusion.

We get up with sleep still in our eyes and quickly fill our bellies. We load into the car in our comfy clothes and bags of books and blankets and stickers, to camp out at the hospital. The day starts early and wraps around dinnertime, sometimes later.

The day after, she’s lethargic and cranky, suffering a hangover from the infusion that her body so desperately needs.

I dread these long days of being tied to an IV pole, but a part of me craves the comfort of them. The comfort that comes in knowing that these are days of healing.

God speaks to me more loudly as I sit in the hospital and watch the smiling children with their sunken eyes and patchy hair. We’re lucky here, because Elyse gets an IV in her arm instead of needing a port in her chest like most of the kids.

A doctor from Elyse’s hospital stay came in to do her check up. Tears collected in the bottoms of her eyes as she took in how much she’d grown—How Elyse’s once angry red skin now looks smooth and creamy.

Today a nurse gave us a Joy Jar. A jar with a rubber ducky, and a soft square blanket, a light up ball, and thick, bright crayons. A tall, clown-like man came in with polka dot tennis shoes and oversized glasses. He bent down over his long slender legs and played a ukalele, singing a slow folk song.

This isn’t like an amusement park where children come for their fill of happiness. But this jar of joy, and this awkwardly sweet clown are brave and beautiful reminders that this place is full of life and hope. As the kids hum along to a melancholy tune, wearing hats embroidered with the letters NEGU (never ever give up), I see happy that is fought for—like striking a match in a dark and unfamiliar room.

I want to sit and listen to every family’s story. Stories like the three sisters that come along every two days to hold their baby sister’s hand during chemo; or the grandma that brings her three year old, Eva, once a week. Her sparse short hair is always decorated with a large pink bow. I want to light a candle for each of them like a birthday cake. I want to hold onto their wishes and blow them like dandelions.

As I sit now and see the brave stories unfold, I long to be the kind of person that sings their sad songs with them, and offers jars full of joy. They teach me that joy is fought for, and hope is holding the candle of faith during a long, hard wait.

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