New Woman, New Wardrobe

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Gentle Reader,

December 12.

Nineteen days

Skolops will be evicted in 19 days.

I can’t wait to break up. It’s not me. It’s him.

Getting a surgery date is a huge load off of my mind. It’s surprising how much clarity knowing when you’re going to be sliced open can bring. I have a plan now. I know what I need to do over the next three weeks to get ready. The Christmas tree goes up this weekend. Shopping will get done and presents wrapped. I’ll be scoping out sales on chocolate pudding and cranapple juice.

I’m ready.

This clear-headedness has brought me smashing into the reality of how distracted I’ve been for the last month or so. There’s a way in which this is justified; major medical issues will draw anyone’s attention. But in a bigger way, this distraction hasn’t been understandable at all. There’s no defending it. And it’s all because of this:

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.  But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – Colossians 3:12-17 (NKJV)

My pastor preached on this passage yesterday. These words follow hard after Paul’s admonition in 3:1-11 to kill the old nature. We are to “put off” things like anger, blasphemy, filthy language and lying. We who know Christ are no longer to live the way we always have. Our lives are “hidden in Christ” (vs. 3). Totally swallowed up by Him.

We “put off” the old and “put on” the new. We live according to our true identity as beloved sons and daughters of the King. Our old wardrobe of selfishness and immorality is replaced by the garments of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, peace, thankfulness, praise and love.

So when my pastor asked us if we’re “wearing” the appropriate “clothes,” I felt the stab of conviction.

More often than not these weeks past, I’ve been living like my old self. No, nothing extreme. Nothing than anyone other than me would point out as an obvious sin. But my attitude, my thoughts…

Yikes.

I haven’t been engaged in the process of killing the old nature at all. I’ve been letting her come out to play.

My eyes are drawn to another verse in this chapter:

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.” – 2

I love how God makes things so decidedly simple. When I let my mind go astray, I don’t see that I’m picking up old, stinking, filthy rags and wearing them like I’m strutting down the runway at a Ralph Lauren show. The ridiculousness doesn’t register. If I respond to His command and submit to Him so that my mind is disciplined, I see the nasty things for what they are. I want to throw them in the trash. I delight in trying on the new outfits He has for me. Clean. Fresh. Never out-of-style.

Colossians 3:2 is my verse for the next 19 days. When I’m tempted to lace up the duct-taped, putrid tennis-shoes of contention, I’ll set my mind on things above. When I’m ready to slip into the moth-eaten, stained coat of jealousy, I’ll set my mind on things above. When I’m about to pull the holey, two-sizes-too-small jeans of fear off the shelf, I’ll set my mind on things above.

I’m a new woman.

I get a new wardrobe.

Grace and peace along the way.

* Note: I’m not sure where the image featured in this post comes from. I took it from my Pinterest style board. If you have a link for it, let me know.

Five Minute (Missed it Again) Friday: Notice

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Gentle Reader,

Arriving at the FMF party late again. Thankfully, these ladies ooze grace. Linking up with them and with Kate. We: notice.

Go.

I rush through my life. To-do lists, chores, places to go, people to see. Minutes blend into hours blend into days blend into weeks, months, years. I marvel at time’s fleeting steps and how, despite my hurry, I always seem to be behind.

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. My mom will cook the turkey. My brother’s making pies. Nobody is foolish enough to assign me anything other than vegetables. We’ll gather ’round the table, share stories and grow groggy from the tryptophan. We’ll talk about the things we’re grateful for.

I wonder if I stop long enough to be truly grateful for anything. Do I notice the daily blessings that flow from God’s hand? Or do I take them for granted? More often than not, it’s the latter.

Today I’m choosing stillness.

I’m choosing to notice.

Stop.

Grace and peace along the way.

When Nothing Else Could Help

Gentle Reader,

My mind can’t make anything compute right now. It’s totally, completely bizarre to me that normal life continues on when I’ve got this major thing happening. I wake up, I go to work, I spend time with friends and family. On Saturday, I got to go shopping with my mom and I got to see a play. I plan menus and make grocery lists. (Well, okay, I assist Chris in those tasks). I empty the dishwasher and fold laundry.

And all the while I’m thinking about the thing.

My surgeon called Friday afternoon and told me that no biopsy is necessary. He is confident that the tumor is benign and wants to proceed with removal. One of the schedulers from his office is supposed to call me this afternoon or tomorrow. I’ll have dates and timelines. It’ll be 3-5 days in December. Days of pain pumps and refusing to eat Jell-O.

The tumor – a dear friend and her daughters helped me name it: Skolops (the Greek for “thorn in the flesh” as found in 2 Corinthians 12:7) “Boobies” McFartstein; we were feeling silly that day – is hanging out way up high, near my right lung, so it’s a challenging procedure. They’ll slice me open and use this spatula-like thing to hoist my ribs out of the way. They’ll take out some healthy liver along with Skolops and the area he’s affected. Then they’ll sew me back together, wrap me up tightly and send me off to a room reeking of disinfectant.

The freaking out began Saturday night.

I started dwelling. This is rarely a good thing, especially in the wee, dark hours. Everything seems bleak and hopeless.

What if it turns out to be cancer after all? What if I have to have a second surgery? What if something goes wrong and I die on the operating table? What if I can’t handle the pain? What if I’m in the hospital longer than expected? What if we can’t pay our bills? What if we lose the house? What if I’m not up to going back to work when I’m supposed to? What if I fall when I’m at home by myself and can’t get to the phone?

Even after examining all the questions rationally, I still feel scared. And sad. Being scared makes sense to me because we’re all scared of the unknown and of things we can’t control. But I don’t understand the sad. I don’t understand why I want to cry. Why I am crying as I write this.

So when we sang these words at church yesterday, my conviction that God is intimately involved in our lives deepened, because they were words I desperately needed to hear. He soothes us in our wailing before we even know to ask for it:

“Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!
Love lifted me! Love lifted me!
When nothing else could help
Love lifted me!” – James Rowe & Howard Smith

The hymn is centered on salvation, how it is Jesus alone who can make us right. That is so beautifully true, but, right now, the words bring something else to my mind:

“…the Master of the sea, heard my despairing cry,
From the waters lifted me, now safe am I.”

Like Peter, I chose to step out of the boat. I chose to trust rather than fear those long six months ago. I have struggled to keep my eyes on Christ. The waves have grown higher and the sky darker. The lightning flashes and the thunder rolls. Everything is amplified and so frightening. I take in the surroundings and lose sight of His face.

I slip beneath the water.

He is there immediately. He lifts me with complete ease.

He asks me the same question He asked the apostle: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31)

There is no anger in His voice. The question is not meant to push me toward self-loathing. It is a reminder. Jesus has never failed me. Not once. He is with me now. He will be with me in the operating room. He will hold my head in His lap and speak peace into the secret places of my heart, the places only He and I know about. He will be there when the anesthesia wears off and I’m hit with the first, intense, vomit-inducing wave of pain. As the lines of the children’s prayer affirm, He will “watch and keep me.”

Whatever comes, Love will lift me.

Grace and peace along the way.