The Flaw in the Plan

This week I finished reading the entire Harry Potter series with my nine-year-old, Michael. It took us a year and a half. It had been a long time since I read its stunning conclusion, and this time it resonated with me in a new way.

When Harry was a baby, the evil Voldemort tried to kill him, knowing that somehow that child would be his downfall. But Harry’s mother stepped between him and Harry and took the blow instead, giving her life to save him.

In the final chapters of the seventh book, Harry finds out that because of his mother’s sacrificial love, the killing curse Voldemort aimed at Harry as a baby had bounced back and struck Voldemort instead, breaking off a tiny piece of his soul. That fragment of Voldemort had attached itself to Harry, so that the two became inextricably linked. As long as Harry lived, Voldemort could not die.

Harry now knows what he has to do to end Voldemort’s reign of terror once and for all. He has to let Voldemort kill him.

“I thought he would come,” said Voldemort in his high, clear voice. “I expected him to come.”

Nobody spoke. They seemed as scared as Harry, whose heart was throwing itself against his ribs as though determined to escape the body he was about to cast aside. His hands were sweating as he pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and stuffed it beneath his robes, with his wand. He did not want to be tempted to fight.

“I was, it seems, mistaken,” said Voldemort.

“You weren’t.”

Harry said it as loudly as he could, with all the force he could muster. He did not want to sound afraid….

Voldemort and Harry looked at each other, and now Voldemort tilted his head a little to the side, considering the boy standing before him, and a singularly mirthless smile curled the lipless mouth.

“Harry Potter,” he said very softly. His voice might have been part of the spitting fire. “The Boy Who Lived.”

Voldemort had raised his wand. His head was still tilted to one side, like a curious child, wondering what would happen if he proceeded. Harry looked back into the red eyes, and wanted it to happen now, quickly, while he could still stand, before he lost control, before he betrayed fear –

He saw the mouth move and a flash of green light, and everything was gone.

It looked like it was over, that Voldemort had won.

But Harry didn’t die.

Instead he woke up in a beautiful place full of light and peace. And there was his dear mentor and friend Dumbledore:

“But you’re dead!”

“Oh yes,” said Dumbledore matter-of-factly.

“Then . . . I’m dead too?”

“Ah,” said Dumbledore. smiling still more broadly. “That is the question, isn’t it? On the whole, dear boy, I think not.”

“Not?” repeated Harry.

“Not,” said Dumbledore.

“But I should have died – I didn’t defend myself! I meant to let him kill me!”

“And that,” said Dumbledore, “will, I think, have made all the difference.”

Because of Harry’s willingness to sacrifice himself, the part of Voldemort’s soul that was in Harry had been destroyed. Now there was nothing left to protect Voldemort himself from death. Harry chose to leave his place of rest with Dumbledore and in the battle that ensued, Voldemort was defeated forever.

“But I should have died – I didn’t defend myself! I meant to let him kill me!”

“And that,” said Dumbledore, “will, I think, have made all the difference.”

In October, 2014, I participated in a workshop to analyze the grammars of a dozen languages in Nigeria. The workshop was designed to help the participants, who were translating the Bible into their languages for the first time, discover the structure of their mother tongues.

From the beginning of the training it was clear that there was spiritual opposition to the work we were doing. Participants and their family members got into car accidents or came down with unexplained sicknesses. One day during a session, cell phones began ringing all over the room, bearing the grim news that some of the translators’ home villages had been attacked by Boko Haram. They scrambled to contact loved ones, but many completed the workshop having no idea where their family members were, or whether or not they were still alive. A few lost everything.

The day after the news of the attacks on their villages reached them, the translators gathered for their morning devotions, their emotions raw. Someone spontaneously stood and began to sing, “I Surrender All.” One by one all of them stood and defiantly, passionately released their lives and their families to God:

“All to Jesus I surrender, all to him I freely give. I will ever love and trust him, in his presence daily live. I surrender all, I surrender all. All to thee, my blessed savior, I surrender all.”

I can still hear the harmonies, and see their tears.

What does Harry Potter have to do with persecuted Christians in Nigeria?

Both had to face an enemy bent on destroying them, who used fear and intimidation to try to control them. And both had discovered the secret weapon that would defeat him.

Revelation 12: 10-11 spells it out for us:

Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens,

“It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ.  For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night.  And they have defeated him by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony.  And they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

God’s people defeated the dragon, Satan, by trusting in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice, affirming their allegiance to him, and like Harry, “not loving their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Harry’s secret weapon against Voldemort is ours as well: We defeat Satan by relinquishing everything – our health, our loved ones, our security, our money, our future, and our work – to our loving heavenly Father.

Our Lord Jesus is our example in this. He relinquished his life to his heavenly Father out of obedience to Him.  He did not want to suffer.  He even asked his Father to take his cup of suffering away, but he submitted himself to God: “Not my will, but yours be done.” 

What was the result of Jesus relinquishing his life to the Father?  Satan killed him, and like Voldemort, he thought he’d won. But, also just like Voldemort, killing Jesus was the very thing that defeated him forever. He didn’t understand how Jesus could lay down his life willingly. He didn’t understand the mystery of God.

But the rulers of this world have not understood God’s hidden plan.  If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

1 Corinthians 2:7

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 2:6-7,

“I speak with words of wisdom, but it is not the kind of wisdom that belongs to this world or to the rulers of this world.  No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began. But the rulers of this world have not understood it.  If they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

The ruler of this world didn’t understand God’s wisdom then, and he does not understand it now.  The problem with Voldemort and Satan is that both had the same flaw in their plan. They failed to take into account the power of sacrificial love, willingly given.

Just ask Harry. And the Bible translators in Nigeria.

A Mother’s Day for All of Us

Mother’s Day looks like this on Facebook: happy memories recalled, the warm glow of a child’s love and a family successfully raised. Before I was a parent (and especially during the long years when it looked like it would never happen) that’s what I was sure motherhood would be like. And when we finally adopted Derek and Hannah, it didn’t disappoint. Nothing has been more fulfilling, challenging and wonderful as being mom to those two (now 28!) and now Michael, the current love of my life.

But on Mother’s Day, it’s also good to put the Facebook images aside, along with the lies we as a culture perpetuate with our idealization of motherhood. What follows is the best Mother’s Day post I have ever read. Thank you, Ann Lamott.

I did not raise my son, Sam, to celebrate Mother’s Day. I didn’t want him to feel some obligation to buy me pricey lunches or flowers, some obligatory annual display of gratitude. Perhaps Mother’s Day will come to mean something to me as I grow even dottier in my dotage, and I will find myself bitter and distressed when Sam dutifully ignores the holiday. Then he will feel ambushed by my expectations, and he will retaliate by putting me away even sooner than he was planning to — which, come to think of it, would be even more reason for me to resist Mother’s Day.

But Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path. Ha! Every woman’s path is difficult, and many mothers were as equipped to raise children as wire monkey mothers. I say that without judgment: It is true. An unhealthy mother’s love is withering.

Mother’s Day celebrates a huge lie about the value of women: that mothers are superior beings, that they have done more with their lives and chosen a more difficult path.

Ann Lamott

The illusion is that mothers are automatically more fulfilled and complete. But the craziest, grimmest people this Sunday will be many mothers themselves, stuck herding their own mothers and weeping or sullen children and husbands’ mothers into seats at restaurants or parkettes. These mothers do not want a box of chocolate. They may have announced for a month that they are trying not to eat sugar. Oh well, eat up.

I hate the way the holiday makes all non-mothers, and the daughters of dead mothers, and the mothers of dead or lost children, feel the deepest kind of grief and failure. The non-mothers must sit in their churches, temples, mosques, recovery rooms and pretend to feel good about the day while they are excluded from a holiday that benefits no one but Hallmark and See’s. There is no refuge — not at the horse races, movies, malls, museums. Even the turn-off-your-cellphone announcer is going to open by saying, “Happy Mother’s Day!”

Mothering perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents. Meanwhile, we know that many of the most evil people in the country are politicians who have weaponized parenthood.

Mothering perpetuates the dangerous idea that all parents are somehow superior to non-parents.

Ann Lamott

Don’t get me wrong: There were a million times I could have literally died of love for my son, and I’ve felt stoned on his rich, desperate love for me. I felt it yesterday when I was in despair. But I bristle at the whispered lie that you can know this level of love and self-sacrifice only if you are a parent. What a crock! We talk about “loving one’s child” as if a child were a mystical unicorn. A majority of American parents secretly feel that if you have not had and raised a child, your capacity for love is somehow diminished. They secretly believe that non-parents cannot possibly know what it is to love unconditionally, to be selfless, to put yourself at risk for the gravest loss. But in my experience, it’s parents who are prone to exhibit terrible self-satisfaction and selfishness, who can raise children as adjuncts, like rooms added on in a remodel. Often their children’s value and achievements in the world are reflected glory, necessary for these parents’ self-esteem, and sometimes for the family’s survival. This is how children’s souls are destroyed.

No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior.

Ann Lamott

But my main gripe with Mother’s Day is that it feels incomplete and imprecise. The main thing that ever helped mothers was other people mothering them, including aunties and brothers; a chain of mothering that keeps the whole shebang afloat. I am the woman I grew to be partly in spite of my mother, who unconsciously raised me to self-destruct; and partly because of the extraordinary love of her best friends, my own best friends’ mothers, and from surrogates, many of whom were not women at all but gay men. I have loved them my entire life, including my mom, even after their passing.

No one is more sentimentalized in America than mothers on Mother’s Day, but no one is more often blamed for the culture’s bad people and behavior. You want to give me chocolate and flowers? Great. I love them both. I just don’t want them out of guilt, and I don’t want them if you’re not going to give them to all the people who helped mother children. But if you are going to include everyone, then make mine something like M&M’s, and maybe flowers you picked yourself, even from my own garden, the cut stems wrapped in wet paper towels, then tin foil and a waxed-paper bag from my kitchen drawer. I don’t want something special. I want something beautifully plain. Like everything else, it can fill me only if it is ordinary and available to all.

photo by Kelly Sikkema courtesy of Unsplash

Barb here again. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you who have saved someone else with your genuine selflessness and unconditional love. You know who you are.

Do you belong to yourself?

“You are only free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place–no place at all. The price is high. The reward is great.” —Maya Angelou

In the first episode of the new season of Star Trek’s Picard, Jean-Luc Picard, now in retirement, finds himself in a personal crisis. He has spent his whole life constructing his identity as a starship captain and space explorer. Now that those adventures are over, he finds himself wondering what would have happened if he had ever allowed himself to put his own desires before his duty, and what would happen if he tried that now.  Who is he really under his Star Trek uniform?  For the first time in his life, Picard has to face the fear that drove him to the stars in the first place.  What was he running away from?

Richard Rohr, in Falling Upward, proposes that our lives can be divided into two parts. The first half of life is driven, albeit unconsciously, by fear.  Early on we learn what the rules are for safety and connection and we resolve to keep them. These rules have benefits – they keep us in check and help us build a successful life. But in the process of keeping our fears at bay, we construct a “false self,” a persona we present to the world.  During the first half of life, we may feel and appear very successful.  But we lose sight of the “true self” that we glimpsed in our early years.

Somewhere along the line we experience what Rohr calls a “necessary falling,” a failure or loss that shakes the false identity we had come to believe was real, and we enter the second half of life. When that happens, we, like Picard, are finally open to facing our fears and “coming home” to our true selves. In finding our true selves, we find a more authentic relationship with God as well.

Christopher Heuretz describes three stages of spiritual experience that correspond well with Richard Rohr’s:

“The pilgrimage home to God involves three phases: a construction phase of identity, followed by an earth-shattering deconstruction of who we thought we were, which finally brings us to the necessary reconstruction of something truer… where we find signposts to help us navigate the reordering of our identity into wholeness.”

“Reordering our identity into wholeness.” 

“Reconstruction of something truer.” 

All of us long for this wholeness and authenticity.

In a recent consultation, my counselor Tammy and I talked about my core fear that if I don’t do everything right, I will not belong.  About how I ran after approval with good grades and conformity. About how I abandoned my true self a long time ago reacting to the responses of others, ever seeking to avoid conflict and feel worthy of belonging. How even the days I consider to be successful ones are spent serving the false self I have constructed to deal with my fear of not belonging.

Then Tammy asked me a key question:  Do I belong to myself?

Brene Brown, in her book, Braving the Wilderness, describes the day she finally understood what Maya Angelou was saying in the cryptic quote at the top of this post. She had just stood up in front of a bunch of dressed-to-the-teeth scientists in her jeans and clogs and spoken about her work from a place of authenticity. To her surprise, she had been enthusiastically received, and talked to her husband Steve about it. His response was,

“You will always belong anywhere you show up as yourself and talk about yourself in a real way.”

She went back to read the full transcript of the interview between Maya Angelou and Bill Moyers the quote had come from:

MOYERS: Do you belong anywhere?

ANGELOU: I haven’t yet.

MOYERS: Do you belong to anyone?

ANGELOU: More and more. I mean, I belong to myself. I’m very proud of that. I am very concerned about how I look at Maya. I like Maya very much. I like the humor and courage very much. And when I find myself acting in a way that isn’t… that doesn’t please me — then I have to deal with that.

Brene recalls,

“I looked up from reading that exchange and thought, Maya belongs to Maya. I belong to myself. I get it. I don’t have it completely, but at least I’m getting it.

Spoiler alert: Picard does end up uncovering the trauma in his childhood that led to the construction of his false self and begins the process of reconstructing his identity into something truer. It takes courage to “brave the wilderness” of authenticity and truly belong to ourselves. But the reward — freedom — is incredibly great.

You will never see my face again.

One day, about a month ago, John was in a Zoom meeting with a roomful of Calon translators in Brazil, checking the translation of Acts 20:38 in their Chibi language. It’s the passage where Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian believers on the beach:

What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship. (NIV)

The team had translated it like this: 

Os prás simava tristuncho, purquisana Paulo silava pendado que ois nun jalava se diquĩá butê.  
The brothers were sad because Paul said that they would not see him again.

Dropping the idiom “his face” is a fine translation strategy, but since the Greek text includes it and leaving it in might make their translation more colorful, John asked them what would happen if they used it. The reaction was strong and immediate: “We could never do that, because it would mean that Paul was about to kill them!” (That’s a colorful idiom, all right!) They decided that using “they would never see him again” was just fine.

Today is Good Friday, the day Jesus, like Paul, left his friends behind out of obedience to God. The night before, he had gathered them together to say farewell, but unlike Paul, there was no finality in his words:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. You heard me say, ‘I am going away and I am coming back to you….’  I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe.” (John 14:27-29)

This world gives us no end of farewells, and many of these losses will not be recovered in our lifetimes.  But Easter is coming, when our resurrected Savior will gather all of our sorrows tenderly into his scarred hands and infuse them with his peace. 

He has told us now before it happens: peace is on the way. This Good Friday, don’t let your heart be weighed down by the troubles of this world.  And whatever is going on in your life, do not be afraid.  

Failure is an option.

Seeing differently means dropping the self-defeating paradigms we came up with in childhood to fend off the fear of rejection: I need to be perfect; I need to be good; I’d better not mess up. My strategy was a simple one: be good, be compliant, and keep everyone happy with me.

The first cracks in my strategy showed up when I became a Christian in my teens. I was mystified by Jesus’ warning, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you!”  After all, making sure everyone spoke well of me pretty much summed up my goal in life.

Still, the challenge had been placed before me. God had invaded my world with a new paradigm that stood in stark opposition to my go-to approach to life.  As I got to know Him, I began to imagine what it would look like to take off the mask and let others see the messy, terrified person behind the good girl I let everyone see.  But I wasn’t really interested in taking the risk.  I continued to make sure I got all A’s in school, right through grad school, and my worldview remained, mostly, intact. I still believed, deep down, that failure was not an option.

Then marriage came along.  And children.  These happy predicaments resulted in cracks in my worldview that eventually became gaping chasms. You can’t admit your faults in marriage if you have to hold onto the lie of your own perfection.  You can’t hold lines with children if being the perfect, beloved mom is important to you.  I failed.  They failed.  And then came another predicament:  People stopped speaking well of me.  Other people could see the destructiveness of my codependent ways.  Everyone except me.

So what did I do?  Change course?  Of course not.  I just tried harder to win back the approval of the ones who turned their backs on me. Surprise – it didn’t work.

In the meantime, God continued to relentlessly challenge me to change my ways. He used writers like Henri Nouwen, pastors like Jonathan Martin, and His own Holy Spirit to call me to embrace my true identity: a flawed, beautiful human being. To believe that I am lovable whether or not I succeed, and whether or not all men speak well of me.

That “woe to you when all men speak well of you” thing? I get it now.  A person who never stands up to or disappoints others is not free.  Believing deep down, “I am a failure unless you approve of me,” is the worst kind of slavery.  Not to mention how exhausting it is.

Which brings me to this morning as I write this post. Will I live another day in fear, futilely striving to avoid failure and the criticism of others? Or will I live in such freedom that those I love will see a pathway to freedom as well?

Today let’s choose together to ditch the fear. We are loved. We can love ourselves. And failure is definitely an option.

Kicking Fear to the Curb

“You call it ‘greatness,’ what you have been doing, do you?” asked Dumbledore delicately.

“Certainly,” said Voldemort, and his eyes seemed to burn red. “I have experimented; I have pushed the boundaries of magic further, perhaps, than they have ever been pushed -“

“Of some kinds of magic,” Dumbledore corrected him quietly. “Of some. Of others, you remain … forgive me … woefully ignorant.”

For the first time, Voldemort smiled.  It was a taut leer, an evil thing, more threatening than a look of rage.

“The old argument,” he said softly. “But nothing I have seen in the world has supported your famous pronouncements that love is more powerful than my kind of magic, Dumbledore.”

“Perhaps you have been looking in the wrong places,” suggested Dumbledore.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Young Tom Riddle/Voldemort had discovered a powerful kind of magic, but its power was based entirely on fear. With it he could control people and make them fear him, and at the root of it was his own fear of meeting someone with more powerful magic than his – the fear that he himself was unworthy.

But Dumbledore knew that the magic of love is always more powerful than the dark magic of fear. As God says, perfect love drives out all fear.

In my recent post “They Told Me…” I listed a number of things that people assume to be true that really need to be re-examined. I am currently rethinking a number of assumptions that drive my behaviors and emotions, and one of these has been the prevalent notion that children must be made to behave, and that to make them do so they have to be made to feel bad for their actions (the corollary being that if I fail to make them behave, there is something wrong with me, so I am made to feel bad as well). I am working through a book by Becky Bailey (Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline) that takes befuddled parents on a journey from fear to love in their interactions with children (and with themselves). She draws the following contrasts between fear and love:

  1. Fear separates, love unites. Love increases security and provides safety.
  2. Fear judges, love enjoys. Love travels from the worthy to the worthy. When we feel good about ourselves, we tend to focus on the beauty in our own lives and the goodness of others.  When we feel bad about ourselves, we tend to criticize and judge others. If you want to teach your child, rather than blame him, for problems that arise, you must first rediscover and accept your own worth. To extend love to others, you must first love yourself. 
  3. Fear focuses on what is missing; love sees the best of what is. Love looks for the highest and best in people and situations.  
  4. Fear looks for blame, love seeks solutions. Love accepts what is.

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, page 10

Moving from fear to love is crucial in my parenting, but it goes far beyond the scope of disciplining children. How much of my behavior is driven by the fear of my own unworthiness, much like young Voldemort? And how much harm do I do to others in the process? As Becky Bailey points out, to overcome fear we must first rediscover and accept our own worth.

As the Bible says, there is no fear in love. Remember today how loved you are, and let’s kick fear to the curb for good, in every area of our lives.

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

On St. Patrick’s Day, 1973, I found myself on a retreat with Young Life at muddy Mt. Sunapee, New Hampshire. I’d been attending Young Life for a few months and was just waiting for someone to invite me to join the ranks of those who claimed Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Someone did that day, and I went forward into a new life. I was 15.

Fast forward 49 years, and I still find walking with Christ to be an adventure. I may not be getting on planes to scary, wonderful places anymore, but God is doing transformative inner work in me that no less scary and certainly just as wonderful.

St. Patrick used the shamrock to explain the Trinity to Irish chieftains and high priests who were making sacrifices on a sacred hill to their gods. Talk about a scary adventure. What is even more amazing is the fact that those religious leaders chose to give their lives, as I did, to an unknown God.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Wherever you are in life, may the road rise up to meet you as you follow Jesus into your next adventure.

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

“They told me….”

Thinking about the labels people give us. And the things we’ve been told — about ourselves, God, the church, parenting, our bodies, and a million other things — that simply are not true.

I started making a list of lies I used to believe, and the list has grown to four journal pages and counting. Here’s a few of them:

Putting other people first is a sign of spirituality.

If I just try harder, I can get people (and God) to love me more.

I’m not pretty unless I have a flat stomach.

I have to make my children obey me.

Children who are strong-willed or not neurotypical are bad.

Poverty is a sign of God’s displeasure.

Affluence is a sin.

What I believe is more important than what I do.

My body gets in the way of my spirituality.

And on and on….

I wonder — what are some of the lies you’ve bought into? What bill of goods has our culture sold to you? If you identify as a Christian, what are some of the misrepresentations of Christian faith that you were taught and have since rejected?

Let me know in the comments — I’m going to address these in coming posts. Let’s see if we can’t shed some of the rules we’ve been living by and find the freedom Christ intended for us all along.

The Rest of My Life

It’s official — my kidney transplant is set for September 15!  Please be praying for Greg and for me around 7:00 am as we go into surgery. Thanks to him, I will wake up a few hours later with a fully functioning kidney, and a very grateful heart.

In the weeks that follow, both of us will need to slow down and let our bodies recover from surgery. I will have to let other people do “my” jobs —  even though I’ll be feeling more energy than I have in years!  I won’t be able to do cat-sitting for at least two months either, so I’ll have to trust God to provide that extra income. I guess providing for the family isn’t “my” job, either!

And so begins the rest of my life. God miraculously providing this kidney through his servant Greg will always remind me that none of us were meant to do it all, or live this crazy life on our own. Putting up our feet with a good book is an act of defiance against the anxiety this world tells us is normal. We are not alone. Our Lord’s burden is easy, and He gives us rest.

COVID 19 is surging here in North Carolina, and after just one week back in school, Michael is home again for yet another season of remote learning. Life will not slow down any time in the foreseeable future, but even after I’ve recovered I want to live the extra years I’ve been given with a trusting, restful spirit.  

May you experience the same, for the rest of your life.

The Secrets God Keeps

Two nights ago I was driving away from the home of one of my cat-sitting clients when I saw this incredibly beautiful cloud formation. I had just been asking God what he was going to do about my kidney problem, as my last remaining potential donor had just been disqualified. I smiled at this kind reminder of his presence, and took a picture of it through the windshield. 

Just a few minutes later, my phone rang and the name of an old friend came up on the screen.  “Hi, Cathie!” I responded.  She asked how I was and I replied, “Happy and surprised to hear from you!”  She recommended I pull the car over, because, she said, “You’re about to be even more happy and surprised!” 

She told me to hold on a moment and another voice came on the line.  It was another old friend, Greg. He told me that he had been secretly going through the evaluation process to be a kidney donor, and that not only had he made it through the process, he was a perfect match for me! Cathie, Greg, his wife Paula, and many others at College Church in Massachusetts had been sitting on this information for months, dying to let me know this was happening, but choosing to wait for just the right time to reveal this gift to me.

There are as many reasons as there are humans why God doesn’t answer our prayers right away.  But that evening I caught a glimpse of one of them – sometimes God keeps his work a secret just because he loves a good surprise!  

The kidney transplant will probably be scheduled for September sometime, when Greg and Paula will travel to Charlotte to give me a new lease on life. I can’t express how grateful I am to them, and to the other dear friends and family members who wanted to give me a kidney and couldn’t, and to you who just keep praying for John and me and blessing us every day with your partnership and care.

So, if God seems silent about something you think he really should be doing something about, maybe he’s just keeping his secrets. You never know when the clouds will part and the answer will come in a way you could never have predicted.

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