Monday, June 24, 2013

Birthday Reflections - Arriving at Age 70!

Birthday Reflections - Arriving at Age 70!
There is a lot that could be posted when reflecting over 70 years. I have chosen a couple of entries for my blog today. 
The first is a devotional that I wrote on my birthday in 2009. It was posted on the Rest Ministries site the following month. It has been revised since then and is part of my manuscript, 
Seeking the Light of God’s Comforter, When Challenges Dim Our View. 

Looking at the Glass, Lightly
Now we see 
but a poor reflection as in a mirror; 
then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, 
even as I am fully known (1 Corinthians 13:12).

As I write, it is my birthday. I'm so grateful for the gift of life. Seven decades ago doctors pronounced I would not survive the delivery room. Today, happier words greet me. A former first grade student writes, "Miss Severance, thanks for learning me good.” Grammatical joy aimed at me! What’s not to love about such a greeting from one, among many, who graced my life for the years of my teaching career? 
Have I learned good, Lord? You have blessed my days in many ways. I am filled with gratitude. There have been tremendous challenges too, beginning with my fight to live beyond the delivery room. At that time you instilled within me a passion to choose life. I have not liked the trials that have surfaced during these years, but I appreciate the ways you help me through them. If I realistically look at this side of the glass, parts are smudged and splintered from the challenges that came unexpectedly and choices that have comprised my life.
I see these imprints because your light shines and shows them to me. I acknowledge and view the many generous beautiful moments as well. I recognize both. I choose to dwell in the buoyancy of your light that lifts me above a world that can clamor, wanting to pull me down. Someday I will understand the reasons for life’s events during these past decades. I am in no rush. Delivery into my eternal Home will come and all things will be made clear.
It could be that any whys that exist now will be unimportant then. I will abide in knowing and not in any asking. The learning good part is my trusting you and looking at the glass of my life lightly. I want to seek your wholeness in all of it -  even in what looks and is broken. In the midst of all of it, I am still a reflection of you. I want nothing to dim that view. 
Lord, every day I see glimpses of beauty amidst the more marred parts of your created world. Help me to recognize your touch in all of my life events, especially the ones that are hard to understand. Knowing that you understand and walk with me consistently, brings grateful comfort. 
Thank you for the gift of LIfe! 

What follows, for this birthday day of reflections, is a selection from a manuscript which is my current focus. These excerpts come at the end of a chapter titled:
Cell Power . . . Can You Hear the Call?

The chapter centers on the miracle of birth, our beginnings from one single cell, and the single place and purpose God has in his heart for each of us.

It is one of the book's foundational chapters. They are designed to bring understanding of the choice for reconciliation to God, the acceptance of His guidance, and the grace to walk with Him well during this life's journey.

Sole-Sisters: Walking the Same Road, Wearing Different Shoes
It is June 24, 1943. My mother is six months pregnant. For three days labor has escalated and then eased, a virtual see-saw. She is exhausted. The doctors can determine no reason to take intervening actions. Only God knows at this time that she is carrying twins! (Remember, this was years before ultra sounds and the means we now have for neonatal intervention and care.)

My twin brother is content in the womb, snuggled in for the nine month duration. I am bleeding internally, fighting for my life, flailing wildly. Talk about foot motion! A difficult delivery finally ensues. My brother greets the outside world four minutes before I do. The doctors feel confident he will live but hold out little hope for me. Three complete blood transfusions are required before I am taken from the delivery room; a fourth one follows later. We both are placed in incubators.

At 3lbs.12 oz, my tiny being is called upon to rest in isolation except for the caring nurses and doctors who watch and wait, doing all that they are trained to know and to do. Loved ones pray. Our mother brings in her breast milk to help nourish us but never sees us until we are released to her care two months later. 

Some years ago, I pondered what that time must have been like for me. In my mind’s eye, the Lord let me see my tiny self, lying still within the warmth of the incubator. I was lying still, content, letting him work to complete the growth and healing process that he had begun. Why and how could I be lying so still - one who had fought so violently only hours, weeks, months before? 

As the picture in my mind widened, I saw his hand, huge and steady covering the incubator, covering me. The Scripture that came to me was, 
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46: 10a). 

Even those days had been recorded just for me. Though invisible to all eyes but his  - my tiny feet wore booties fashioned of acceptance, patience, and perseverance.

Forty-four years later, almost to the date, I lie emotionally paralyzed in a hospital bed following surgery. The immobility comes from hearing the word, “cancer”, and then, “we won’t know for three to four days if the cancer has spread or what to determine about a prognosis.”

What is this weight that stuns my entire being into seeming motionlessness? Can I breathe with this pressure that is so foreign?  Some family members are present, welcome but blurred. They are somewhere out beyond the weight that I lie beneath in isolation. 

My breast has been removed. In spite of the tightly bound banded wrap encompassing my chest, the heaviness makes even that reality remote. Though medicated, sleep eludes me for twenty-four hours.  I merely exist in a reality.

God’s presence? Steady. Yes, he is here. Stunned, I cannot move beyond his presence being more than a belief. My first break through the weighty wall comes in tears, a tangible expression of a feeling.Then, the smallest of flickers draws me inward to my spirit.

journal entry for  August 8, 1987

“. . . and I got quiet and deeply alone with You, crying out in despair and knowing You were my only source of hope and insight - wanting to release myself and my shock to You but not knowing how but knowing where to turn.”

Gradually, God helped me to recognize the feelings of fear, confusion, and disbelief. He literally brought levels of understanding as he lifted them off and replaced them with faith, order, and a belief that he would fight this battle for me. It was not to be my battle. It was to be his battle. I was to be still and receive his victory on my behalf. 

I later found that this message he personally brought to me was in his Word. The whole chapter of 2 Chronicles 20 became the stance I took in the days that were set before me as I went out to meet a beaten foe.

In the hospital bed that day, I was not strong enough to search the Scriptures. The Word, himself, dwelling gently deep within me, revealed what I needed.

Then a strong, peaceful, unseen Presence filled the room and approached my bed. God, the Father, in authority and righteousness raised that same hand that had covered my incubator years before, swooped it across my entire body clutching up a mysterious force. In a voice that seemed so audible I will never forget it, I heard, “She is mine. You cannot have her.”

 That Presence left the room taking with it all heaviness. What remained was God’s spirit, peace, and calm. I snuggled down in comfort to sleep for the first time since waking from surgery.

I had no prognosis of my future. 
But the One who did know, 
had once again stayed his child. 

As a newborn infant, I did not have the conscious choice to turn to God. He was there to intervene, to touch the cells of life where his plans for my days lay embedded. It was a calm, nurturing, and healing touch.

Decades later, I had a choice. The journey, my steps during the years in between, had taught me where to turn when in crisis. Cells in my body had attacked it attempting to take what was not rightly theirs to have. 

My numbness in the experience did not numb the Spirit within. God knew I needed the touch of his authority. In faithfulness, he lifted the burden and gently slipped on stronger shoes of acceptance, patience and perseverance. 

Then He laced them up with trust.

Lynn’s First Pair of Shoes

Travel Accessories

 All Photos by Lynn