Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

- Rabindranath Tagore

Inspirational Music

Monday, March 25, 2013


I can't stop the tears right now, but they are tears of relief and joy and thankfulness! We got the pathology report back and there was no trace of cancer cells in the tissue removed from Hannah' face. She will not need chemotherapy, radiation, or any more surgery, only to have oncology check-ups as a precaution. Basically she is in the clear. To the extent that modern medicine can tell, she is free of this cancer. Thank you all for your prayers.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hannah's Surgery

Hannah's surgery went very well yesterday! She was able to go home afterward she did so well! In short, they removed the tissue surrounding the area where the tumor was originally. The lab will look at every micron of what was removed to detect any trace of the cancer cells by staining for them specifically. If there are no more then she will just need to recover and have oncology check-ups regularly for a few years. If they find more they will need to go back in and take more tissue, please pray that they simply find nothing but healthy tissue and that she is totally in the clear. We will find out early next week the lab results. Hannah has a lot of swelling in her face, but that is to be expected from the surgery. If this is the last surgery, she will have a hairline scar along the side of her nose and as she grows it will fade and be hardly noticeable. This was a close call, but I think she is going to be just fine. This is the truest :) I've ever typed.

When I first found out about Hannah's condition, I was overwhelmed. I thought/prayed "Geesh, I feel like my family could use a little less tragedy. God please give us a break." I am very hopeful right now that she will make a full recovery. It seems like God heard my prayer--and all of yours. I think we all found out how close we are to tragedy, but also found a gracious God. I am so thankful that Theresa found this as early as she did, if it had been only a few weeks or months later, we would be in a different game altogether. In my mind, God heard our prayers in the past few weeks and answered them in the moment that Theresa found the lump. But, as they say, He works in mysterious ways.

Thank you for your prayers.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

New Location

The weekend was quite busy and when I finally had a couple days off (Tuesday and Wednesday) I spent almost all my time painting at the new place. The pictures show the before (bright green) and the after (darker bluish gray). 15 hours of painting with just my right hand has made it a bit swollen, but mostly just sore. The whole arm, shoulder, wrist, and hand are sore actually. It was worth it.

Today, Hannah is going in for surgery at 1. Please pray that, once again, they find no trace of these cells in anything they examine. Please pray for Hannah too, needles seem to scare her. She apparently did well with the first surgery, but I imagine that experience didn't make her any more comfortable with the whole thing. I forget how foreign surgery is to most people. When I think of surgery, I think of a particularly restful nap with a little morphine when you wake up to take the edge off. Twenty or thirty surgeries will do that to you though. But, Hannah is very young and does not have that familiarity, so please pray for calmness for her.

Yesterday, I went to the Contemplative prayer thing at Gravity. I really enjoy the experience. When we are done, I have been incredibly surprised by how much calmer my mind is. The word I contemplated was Courage. I had read Joshua 1:9 that morning and it just stuck I guess.

Joshua 1:9
Have not I commanded you? Be strong, vigorous, and very courageous. Be not afraid, neither be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. - Amplified Bible

I honestly could hardly think about courage in that mindset. I almost immediately thought about my time in the hospital and the infections that have laid me up. I don't like to cry in front of people, especially when we are supposed to be silent and contemplative, so I tried to hurry my mind away from those things and that made it hard to really get back to courage. I did recite this verse in my head along with the sort of instigator verse: "Be still, and know that I am god" - Psalm 46:10. The craziest thing has been how quickly these things end. I feel like they last only a few minutes but they are twenty minutes of silence. All that to say, I think I want to make that practice a part of my daily life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Like a Freight Train

I just got home from Gravity which is a 20 minute centering prayer gathering. The point is to quiet your mind and the world and listen to God. The word that came to me and that I focused on was justice. I remembered the scripture in the Old Testament that said something about justice being like a mighty river. My mind danced around that idea for most of the time trying to form thoughts and a lot of them were great, but when I came back to the idea that God claims to be just, I tried to understand what that really means in light of all the terrible suffering inflicted on innocents worldwide. Needless to say I didn't get very far in this thinking. I did, however, think about what the comparison to a river meant. I thought about what a river is and how it follows a path with great force. What came to me next was just before we ended but I wish to explore it as a similar analogy. Is justice not unlike a freight train as well? It has the characteristics of a river that came to mind when I thought about the traits of a river.

In any case, when I got home I looked up the scripture about the river and it is Amos 5:24:

But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!
    your assemblies are a stench to me.22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
    I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
    I will have no regard for them.23 Away with the noise of your songs!
    I will not listen to the music of your harps.24 But let justice roll on like a river,
    righteousness like a never-failing stream!"
An endless procession of righteous living, living"

New International Version

I then looked around it a little and realized that it was the same verses that Jon Foreman is referencing in his song "Instead of a Show:"

Amos 5:21-24 says:

“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;

English Standard Version

This is God speaking directly to His people. He gets to the root of His desire for His people, not pretense or a show but a powerful community bringing justice into this world like a freight train. Jesus died to free us from the things that oppressed us and kept us from being vessels that could not only hold this justice but continuously pour it out into this world. Jon Foreman translated these verses this way:

"Instead let there be a flood of justice

In seeking to live righteously, we are called to flood the world with an ocean of justice and hope. In being redeemed, we are being freed from the corruption in our natures that stifles the love we've been shown and stops up the river like a dam. So in a way, its all about personal righteousness, and in another, the purpose of seeking righteousness is to bear the image of God more brightly and be used by Him to bring His kingdom into this world with force.

I'm still, in the back of my mind, contemplating the river analogy and how it illuminates the nature of justice. Does it mean that it is flowing right now, certainly. Does it mean it's finished, hardly. I guess I think of a train on its way across a country. One of these days, it will arrive in the station and we will see God's justice manifested perfectly. Until then, like the prophet Micah made very clear and succinct:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8 Amplified Bible
In seeking to do these things together we are the river of His justice, shaping the land for His purposes and His kingdom.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

That stupid chair

First, I am ecstatic to tell you all that I will be moving by the end of this month. Things did not work out in time for me to get a roommate. She had to find a different place so she could start her job this past weekend. I decided to look for a different solution, and was able to get out of my lease to be housemates with ZACH DAVY. Sorry for the all caps. I'm kinda stoked out of my mind for this next stage of  my life. He lives in his brother's house up in Benson, and I will be moving in over the next few weeks. I remember the month of May in 2010 when I was considering transferring to UNL to live in the "A-street House" (where quite a few of my closest friends all lived together) and how much I realized I missed my friends. I've realized that living in Omaha and being friends is not the same as living in Norfolk and being friends. It is much harder to connect when you live in a city. I anticipate that changing if Zach and I are housemates. I mean when--when we are housemates. This is a blessing from God.


Some of you might be familiar with the analogy of faith being compared to the act of sitting in a chair. In case you are not: I remember being told multiple times in my youth from church group leaders and the like that acting in faith is the same thing as when you sit in a chair. When you sit in a chair, you trust that it is going to hold your weight and that you are not going to hit the floor instead. So sitting in the chair is an act of faith. I think that this analogy while strictly speaking is true, falls so far from the truth of reality that it should be changed.

I think that if we want to use a chair in our analogy we must first make it similar to our experience with living in faith. My experience is not one where every time I pray I am answered. My experience is one where I've done things in faith, but was dead wrong and fell flat on my face. God has never made his ways so clear to me that I can predict how things will turn out. The analogy of the chair in its original form fails to explain that sitting in a chair is not even something we think about. You and I have sat in so many chairs that it has moved from cognitive to instinctual. We have been conditioned to trust the stupid chair, because for thousands of "sits" it has done the exact same thing, no surprises, no unexpected falls. If you've ever missed a chair, or had it fold in on you, it is something that jolts you out of this instinctual thinking. But, not for long, your trust in the chair will move back into the conditioned state after a few thousand more "sits." So with that I would like to smash our chair, literally, in our figurative analogy. So take this chair whose structural integrity is now gone. Would you dare sit in it?  Now say I repair it to the best of my ability and succeed in making it look like the chair we are used to, would you throw your weight onto it on the first try? Could you know if I just used some glue and focused on the cosmetic aspects or if I put in time to brace it where it required such?

To me this second contemplative approach to the "sitting" is so much more like my experience with faith. I hope that I have built my understanding and faith on a solid foundation, but the way it plays out in my life shows that I often miss the truth at certain points and apparently focus more on a cosmetic aspect than a structural one. I do not think that we should stop sitting in the chair and finding the weaknesses, sometimes by crashing through it to the floor. I think this verse might apply here:

Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. - James 1:2-4 English Standard Version

So with that, imagine you are given a bunch of pieces of wood and are charged with building a chair. You are the one who tests it, you are the one who hits the floor when its not got the proper steadfastness. When you have finished and you know its solid, do you think you will ever doubt that it will hold your weight?

The problem I think we've come to is that many, many Christians are living not in faith, but on knowledge alone. We are not willing to sit in any chair that is not given to us from a trustworthy source--we don't actually step out in faith, we do the sure things. We don't embrace the falls, we fear them.

For a righteous man falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked are overthrown by calamity.
- Proverbs 24:16 Amplified Bible

A little more contemporary reference, Thomas Wayne, the father of Bruce Wayne (Batman), told him this: "And why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up." - Batman Begins

May you see faith being more about picking yourself up, or sometimes letting God pick you up, than about not falling. And, may you build true strength of faith.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. - 2 Timothy 1:7 Amplified Bible

Monday, March 11, 2013

Best Possible News

Today we went to the consult with the oncologist for Hannah. We got the CT scan results back and they found no trace of cancer anywhere in her body! This is the best possible news we could have received. It means that Theresa caught it as early as was possible. The next step will be to perform surgery to remove the tissues that surrounded the original tumor and to check for microscopic cancer cell clusters that would be so small the CT scan could not pick them up. They will use staining and microscopy to ensure that there is no minute traces in the local area. The doctor was confident that she will not need any kind of chemotherapy or radiation therapy unless something major and unexpected appears in the tissue that they will remove. I still cannot believe that we were blessed so extraordinarily! Thank you for your prayers.

Destiny, Grammar, and Gandhi

A wise man once said:

"Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they have become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny."

His name was Mohandas K. Gandhi. He lived a life that I believe was in the very least honorable. These words seem very acute and applicable. They are precise, which is why the copy I have on my wall has the verbs highlighted. He used the words "watch," "manage," "consider," "judge," "acknowledge," "understand," and "embrace." These apply very differently to their subjects, which is why he changed each as he went along. He also repeated the word "watch" several times. I think you could just as easily use the word "listen to" because it requires the same thing from the actor--passive observation. This is something we, as content consuming Americans, do well in some respects, but so poorly in some of the more important respects. We passively observe incredibly meaningless crap on the television to the extent that the number of hours of tv watching is a huge indicator of certain aspects of health. We don't seem to contemplate more weighty things like "Will sitting on a couch for 2 hours a day negatively effect my mobility when I am 70 years old." You may be wondering where I am going which all of this. I want to focus on a slightly different aspect of this quotation.

In my Iife, I've learned that words matter. Which words you use determines what you are trying to say, and much more, what you are trying to think. It is vital in thinking clearly to have accurate words to fit your abstract thought into useable information that you act upon. Many people find grammar and using correct diction to be arduous and a waste of time. Humbly, I think they are dead wrong. If the definition of integrity is simply some amorphous "being good" idea to you then you miss out on what it really means--to have all of the aspects of your life in line with the same values and principles. You can be a person of integrity and be a very bad person. In the same line of thinking, if you understand the word "socialist" to mean Soviet Communist, then you probably don't realize how many institutions here in our country are socialist: Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, National Parks, and most if not all public works departments. The effects of labeling one side or the other with these words in a hyperbolic way only decreases the clarity of the discussion. So in that light I submit a new take on the original quotation:

Clarify your thoughts with clear language, for if you don't your words will be muddled. Clarify and scrutinize your words, for if you don't your actions will not mean what you wish them to. Compare the effects of your actions to your original thoughts, for they will reveal gaps in clarity and misconceptions. Examine your habits created by your actions, for they will reveal more fundamental and wide ranging assumptions you have about life. Accept your habits for what they are, but realize that as solid as they seem you are still responsible to change them. Your habits reveal your fundamental values and as you shape them, you shape your destiny.

This reminds me of one of my favorite little bits from the film _The Last Samurai_. Before the last battle Katsumoto, the samurai warlord, asks the American, "You believe a man can change his destiny?" To which Algren replies, "I think a man does what he can, until his destiny is revealed." I hope that these thoughts help each of you to understand more clearly what it is that you can do and how it affects your destiny. There are aspects of our destiny that only God can know. You will encounter things that you will never see coming. But, there are things within the realm of your control that most certainly affect the person you are becoming and, therefore, your destiny.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Golden Sessions

I have realized recently that I have been blessed with some of the most amazing friends. So many people have come along side me at different times and somehow just stayed. Space and time seem to have lost meaning and the moment we are in communication or in the same place we comfortably continue moving forward together. I still remember thinking in 7th grade that all I needed to find was one friend. One friend who felt the same way I did about Christ being the real deal. The guy I found a friend in was Eric Seevers. I don't know if I've ever told him this, but I know I've told many others. Seeking out friends might be part of why I have ended up with some good ones, maybe it was just destiny, I don't really know. In any case, I want to share one of my favorite quotations by C. S. "Jack" Lewis:

“In a perfect Friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member of the circle feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out all that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others. Those are the golden sessions; when four or five of us after a hard day's walking have come to our inn; when our slippers are on, our feet spread out towards the blaze and our drinks at our elbows; when the whole world, and something beyond the world, opens itself to our minds as we talk; and no one has any claim on or any responsibility for another, but all are freemen and equals as if we had first met an hour ago, while at the same time an Affection mellowed by the years enfolds us. Life natural life has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?”- The Four Loves

More than any individual friend, I've been blessed with an amazing group of friends with whom I've shared quite a few Golden Sessions as Jack calls them. One of my favorites was in fact not in a warm place at all. We decided that being manly men and all we should camp out by a pond without tents. The catch is it was in December and the pond was frozen over and the ground was covered in snow. We still built a fire, many in fact. We still laughed hard, talked about crazy ideas for the future, and brought out the best in each other.

I have had a very difficult time writing this because I have so much to say and so much to be thankful for. Its like having a traffic jam in my head or something. I do want to focus on one more point though. It centers around this verse:

A friend loves at all times, and is born, as is a brother, for adversity.
- Proverbs 17:17 Amplified Bible

With that said, I want to talk about two of my best friends. They are the kind of friends that when I bring them up around my Grandma Baber, she always, always reminds me that "they are such good friends, honey." When I was critically injured on a Saturday in late September 2008, these two crazy cats dropped every aspect of their lives got into a car and drove hundreds of miles to support me. That first visit they didn't even get to see me, but they stayed for days on end in the waiting room and brought encouragement to my beleaguered family. I remember the first time they got to come into my room, they brought in a guitar and sang hymns with me. I knew that last sentence would choke me up, dangit. These two men, Charlie Nixon and Zach Davy, not only loved at all times, but they loved even stronger when adversity hit. They are two guys who I refer to as "bru," (the term we stole from Blood Diamond) which has come to mean my friend who is closer than a brother. I will forever be thankful that God brought them into my life and that we still get to walk together in our journeys.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I saw what I saw in India

"your pain has changed me,
your dream inspires,
your face a memory,
your hope a fire,
your courage asks me,
what I'm afraid of...
your courage asks me,
what I'm made of...
and what I know of love"
- Sara Groves 'I Saw What I Saw'

I spoke with a new friend who had the privilege to visit Uddamarry for the first graduation from "our" school there. When I think of the faces of the students there, I always think of this song. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what I'm talking about I have quite the story, but I'll try to keep it as brief as possible.

In the fall of 2003, a bunch of young people and the adults involved with their group called Sud.Z (Sunday night 'Zoey' greek for life) in Norfolk, NE decided they wanted to put their money where their mouth was. They raised over $23,000 dollars to fund the building project for a school on the other side of the planet in a village called Uddamarry outside the city of Hyderabad, India. This crazy idea turned into a relationship that is still strong today, almost 10 YEARS LATER (I put that in caps because once that hit me I kinda freaked out a little). This group from rural Nebraska sent their first "team" to visit what was to become "their" school in rural India the next summer in 2004. I use the quotation marks around the ownership words because its not an ownership but certainly a commitment. Every summer there has been a team from Norfolk making the trek to Uddamarry. It was not until the trip in 2006 that the building project had been started. I had the pleasure of being part of this team and documented a lot of the work I saw on the new building with photos and videos. I felt like I lucked out because we spent our time with the children in the old school "building" which was nothing more than a converted barn and cattle stalls, and we got to see the new building our efforts helped to build. Teams have continued to go each year and this year many of the "veterans" and some new people had the privilege to visit for the first class to graduate (equivalent of high school) from our school.

My story with this little village school is a little more intertwined. But, I will try to tell that story later on. Suffice to say that I will forever have the images of these students' faces when they were children in my mind. Each time I remember where they would be if not for the school and the promise of education--in poverty, in slavery, or worse. This song captures how these memories inspire me along with many others. I saw what I saw in India, and it changed my life forever.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hannah and Grandma Judy

I mentioned in an earlier post that my extended family is going through hard things right now. I posted on my facey page (my goofy uncle's nickname for Facebook) a status earlier this week about my cousin Hannah. Around the beginning of the year her mom, my Aunt Theresa, was blowing her nose and found a lump in her cheek. They were able to remove it surgically and test it. The results came back last week when I was visiting Norfolk. The mass was an Alveolar soft part sarcoma--cancer. (I guess I'm still not quite over the initial shock, tears still hit me when I start thinking about it--let alone trying to write about it) It is an incredibly rare form of cancer about which I cannot find a whole lot of information. Her parents let me go with them to the oncology consult on Monday with them. Her parents are Theresa and Scott (my mom's little brother), and her older sister is Brianna. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, as well as Hannah. Hannah will not really be able to understand most of what's going on outside of the fear, pain, and tumultuousness of it all. Her family, though, will face the facts at each step knowing the weight of them. We were able to get Hannah in to a CT scan on Monday afternoon. This was to check the rest of her body for any other signs of its progression thus far. I have been pleading with God to just let there be no other masses at all in any part of her body. We are still waiting on the results of the CT scan. The oncologist was going to consult with his colleagues after the scans have been analyzed to decide on treatment options (or lack there of potentially). We are going to the next consult Monday morning to hopefully start the plan of action the oncologists have made. There is a good chance that no matter what the CT results are Hannah will have to undergo chemotherapy, but we just don't know yet. For everything I've been through, this is new and hard in many ways and I have to just take each day as it comes. So in that light, please keep me in prayer as well.

The other heavy issue that is also on my mom's side of the family is that my mom's mother, Judy, is now digressing rapidly. She has been dealing with bipolar disorder for over 10 years, but she was diagnosed with dementia a few months ago. This has brought with it a finality of sorts in that we know we can't simply "get the medications right" any longer. She will continue to lose mental function, eventually losing her ability to speak and towards the end become bed ridden. The hardest part is that this finality is also delayed. We have and will continue to watch her personality fade away. This is very heavy on my grandfather, Dale, and their three children Tami, Scott, and Suzi. I hope that I can support my own mom as she continues to support her parents in this hard time. I cannot even begin to imagine this situation if it were my own mom; I do not know how my mom is holding it together as her mom goes through this terrible experience. So please pray for my family in this as well. My uncle Scott has it the worst it seems to me. His mom and his baby girl are both going through hell right now. So, if you would pray  for him; pray that his heart has enough strength and wisdom to not be crushed under this weight.

This would be a time I go back to words of wise people like Rabindranath Tagore:

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
but for the heart to conquer it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Blessing of a Sound Mind

I have started writing about my experiences in the hospital! I have waited to start this project until I felt like I knew what I wanted to say. I have told the different parts of the story to friends for years, and have gotten the same reaction from almost every person "you should write a book!" I finally realize that mostly what I am doing is telling a story. I intend to talk about what I've learned through the experience, but at its core this book with be the story of how God stepped into my broken life and showed me that He is in the middle of what we call Redemption in the Christian faith. He is not waiting until the end to destroy this whole creation experiment and redeem those left over. I believe very strongly that Christ died not so I can have "fire insurance," but so that He can conform His people to the Image of Christ, so that He can bring His love into this world in all its broken godforsakenness, so that He can move in our lives through His Spirit. I have a lot of the outline tentatively finished and started writing first drafts of certain stories. The hardest one to write so far was the very first days in the hospital when things were not particularly clear. I posted on Facebook a status:

"It is quite hard to write about a time where you weren't completely lucid but still have vivid memories. Especially, when these memories are of a nightmare reality that only you knew. I now think about my first few weeks in the hospital as something of a dance with insanity. I do not pretend to know what a person with schizophrenia lives with, but I remember believing that my entire world was dominated by an evil man with almost supernatural powers who loved to torture me."

I looked up Schizophrenia and realized that certain aspects of that disease describe my memories and how different they were from what was actually happening. I actually fit the category of Paranoid Schizophrenia in a few aspects.

Some things I found from PubMed that I experienced:

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to: Tell the difference between what is real and not real; Think clearly. And, specific symptoms include: Irritable or tense feeling; Trouble sleeping; Bizarre behaviors; Hearing or seeing things that are not there (hallucinations); Strongly held beliefs that are not real (delusions). Specific symptoms of Paranoid Schizophrenia: Anxiety; False beliefs that others are trying to harm you or your loved ones.

I only lived with these things for a week or two, but they were the heaviest burden I've had. There is no way to explain it to a "sane" person without sounding "crazy." But, that's just it, I more or less was. My actions and perceptions were in line with this disease. Now, I know that they were caused by the drugs they had me on and that it would be very different to live them out in the world where there aren't nurses to rescue you from yourself.

At one point in my writing I began to cry because I realized how blessed I am that those things were only temporary. I do not know if the electrical shock could have reorganized my mind in a way that left me with them permanently, but I am glad that it didn't. When I started to cry, I began to walk around my home and touch the walls and furniture just to experience them as real. The blessing of a sound mind connected to reality is something I hope I never take for granted again.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Cry of David

My extended family on my mom's side is going through some very, very hard things. I do not have the freedom to go into them, but they are the kind of things that bring tears up just by mentioning them. My heart feel like its being broken several times each day.

I discovered a verse in Psalms months into my recovery, but before I was able to walk on two legs or snowboard etc. It was like having someone else put into words what your heart was expressing. That verse is Psalm 27:13-14. This is the King James version:

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord."

This is my expanded version based heavily on the Amplified Bible version:

"What! What would I have become (embittered, scared and cornered, oppressed by fear) had I not believed that I would see with my own eyes the goodness of the Lord before I die.

Wait on Yahweh-yireh, our Lord who provides, rest your hope in Him. Expect to see and feel His presence. 

Be boldly brave and dare to be courageous in the face of fear. May your heart be a fortress of strength, taking every bombardment head on. When, after every assault (for their may be too many to count), you find your heart has been reduced to rubble pile--renew and rebuild it in the Christ!

Wait on Yahweh-rapha, our Lord who heals, rest your hope in Him. Expect to see and feel His presence."

These are not just words to me, they are life--my life. I don't get the luxury of rose tinted glasses anymore. I see the pain, I feel the pain. Our world is hurting, our people--the human race--are hurting. Pretending that saying "I'll pray for you" does a *expletive* thing is buying into a lie. We cannot leave each other out in the cold, facing the brokenness alone. We cannot sit in our "city on a hill" anymore, we must light a candle and defy the darkness. That darkness starts inside first, really. We must face "our demons." But, it cannot end when we are "enlightened" and free.

I echo once more, MARCH IN, taking hope with you!