His Feet > Christmas Cookies

It’s 8:30 pm three evenings before Christmas Eve and I’m just starting to mix my first batch of Christmas cookies.  I halved the recipe but the cookies still take up three cookie sheets.  Something must be wrong.  But that would be fitting, because that’s how this whole month has gone.  Everything about December has been wrong, wrong, and a little more wrong.

I can’t remember an evening or a weekend where I had nothing hanging over my head since long before Thanksgiving.  It wears me down.  My service to others becomes nothing of a joyful heart and everything of grumbling and grumpiness.  I run out of Christmas cards to send to my dear ones.  I still have a Christmas present left un-bought, and the ones I’ve wrapped seem pretty lame.  People at work start handing out goodies and cards and I have nothing to give in return.  I’ve been wanting to chat with my dearest roommate from college since before her birthday in October, and it still hasn’t happened.  When did I get so busy?  And when did the “stuff” take up more time than the people?  As my favorite singer states, “At the end of your life your relationships are all you’re got“.  At the rate I’m not making time for my loved ones, it’s looking like I’ll be all alone at the end.

I’m the girl who loves Christmas music and starts listening to it in October, with sometimes a summertime binge.  I don’t have a favorite Christmas song but each year there is usually one or two that are my temporary favorite.  This year I can’t get “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” off repeat.  Really?  A whole advent season to prepare for God becoming man and all my heart wants is Judy Garland?

I get a little teary this evening as my heart asks “Where is Jesus in all this frenetic doing?”  I know the answer before I have even finished putting the question into words.  He is here.  He is here as a baby.  He is here as a king on his throne.  He is here as a Wonderful Counselor and as the Son of God.  The Prince of Peace, the Alpha and Omega, the Everlasting Father, the Gentle Shepherd.  The greatest Gift.  It is not God that refuses to come into my Christmas.  It is I that prioritize other things before coming to His table.  I don’t know the last time I prayed.  Somehow spending time with my Sustainer got put on my list at about the same level as scrubbing the shower–in theory, very important.  But in practice, easily pushed down to the bottom of the list until you realize it’s been how many months since the shower was scrubbed?

That’s not what I want.  But if that’s really not what I want, I would do something to change it.

I find I’m incapable of changing my own heart.  I also can’t undo all my hours of Christmas parties and weddings and graduation dinner and shopping for gifts and so many good things added onto a full work week.  And then I hate myself for complaining.  I think how much easier it would be if I was a stay-at-home-mom and could have all day to bake cookies and find great gifts to buy, to pray and study my Bible, to be still.  Why do I always, always think that I will always find the best in a different stage of life?

My advent may end up being a month later than the rest of the world, but here’s to January being a month of saying “no.”  The decorations may be down and the presents unwrapped.  Stores may have their valentine supplies out.  But I will be anticipating the arrival of Jesus, and the day when all my time can be spent in His presence.  Because the fact remains that while I get distracted by errands and bills and my never-ending “to-do”s, He remains the same yesterday, today, and tomorrowMy lack of faithfulness does not nullify His faithfulness.

Lord, grant me faithfulness even in the small moments.  Give me grace to spend my moments on the one thing that really matters–sitting at Your feet.

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The State of Being

She holds a glass of water up to her lips every time she’s trying not to cry, as if that glass rim can hold tight a lip from trembling, which in turn can keep the tears from spilling.  Life is hard and she honors me by sharing the hardness of hers, especially when we both know I don’t have the answers.  Are there really ever answers to hardness?  And if there are, would they even help?

I forget that we need love more than we need a “this is what you need to do to get you out of this mess” list.  I’m quick to email her Bible verses, until the Holy Spirit tells me to stop.  Stop emailing Bible verses?!?!  Sometimes we can use the Truth (True as it is) to keep the mess of life at arm’s length and not have to enter into the trenches.  Because when people are in their darkest days, and already have a brain full of Bible verses, one more repeated is like a band-aid on a gunshot wound.  It’s easy and quick and covers up the horror but it doesn’t get to the root of the problem.

When people are in their dark days, they need to experience the love they know in their heads.  They need Christ alongside them, holding them, gathering their tears, keeping company, and giving the tenderest of smiles.  And He uses us–you and me–our human bodies and physical hands and real life minutes–to be His presence in tangible form.  I can’t yet touch Jesus, but I can touch you–you who let me weep, who have seen my sins upon sins, who hear my cursing–and yet who still loves me.

When there is no water-glass to hide behind, the dam breaks and the messy snot of pain comes.  And that is when the silence of my arms around her preach more than Romans 8:28 or Jeremiah 29:11 ever could in this moment.

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Why I Failed at 31 Days and Why That is Okay

A month ago I posted how I would be writing 31 straight days about the topic of kidney donation.  However, if you scroll back you will see that during the 31 days of October I actually only managed to write a dozen times.

October was a bad time to think I was able to write every day.  Last weekend was the culmination of months of planning for an event at my church benefiting the homeless and refugees.  The week before, I and others on the planning team spent every evening at the church preparing for the event.  The weeks before were spent with emails and meetings and advertising.  I couldn’t change the fact that I just wasn’t home.  Thus blogging became very low on the priority list.

At first it really stressed me out that I wasn’t “following the rules” of posting 31 straight days.  Then I just accepted it.  Now I’m maybe even thankful for it.  I tend to not do things if I know I won’t be able to do them well or if there is a high chance of failure.  I like having things together.  But life doesn’t happen according to our plans and it’s good for me to come up short sometimes.  And if I’m going to fail at something, blogging about a topic that doesn’t interest many people to begin with seems like a good place to start.

Maybe I’ll do my own 31 days in a different, less exciting, month.  Or maybe 31 days is just not meant for me!  Either way, I hope you learned a tidbit or two about kidney donation or my personal experience, and don’t hold it too much against me that I didn’t post even half as many times as I was supposed to!

So here’s my final “non” 31 Days of kidney donation.  Thanks for sticking with me!

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Sacrifice is Counter-Cultural

Why would I give something so precious to someone I’ve never met?

Why would I go through such risk when there is no tangible benefit to myself?

Why sacrifice when it is not required?

Why…?

Jesus sacrificed when he didn’t have to.  He healed people who had been diseased their whole lives–they could have stayed that way and known no different.  He preached to people who didn’t listen.  He spent large amounts of time with a man he knew would betray him in the end.  There was no benefit to Himself.

Our culture says, “life is about ME!” and Jesus says, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”  As Christians, we can laugh in the face of a culture focused on self-preservation, because we know that it is those who lose their lives that will gain eternal life.

Instead of feeling sacrifice is a burden, I can breakdance with joy–because I’m consciously breaking free from the grip western culture has on me.

This post is part of a series of 31 days of kidney donation.

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Scars

This is a picture of my incisions about 3 weeks after surgery.  Eventually the two small ones will fade and be hardly noticeable.

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Here is an excerpt from what I wrote for a testimony I gave at church:

The thing I love about having donated is what a reminder of the Gospel it is every time I see my scars.  I, along with the rest of you, was dead in my sin.  I was destined for eternity apart from God, and needed a rescuer to come and save me.  My kidney recipient was destined for years of painful dialysis and possibly an early death, and needed a rescuer to provide him with a healthy kidney.  Christ, in His goodness and mercy, saved me from my diseased self and gave me His perfect righteousness, though I had done nothing to earn or deserve it.  This recipient had done nothing to earn or deserve my kidney, but it was a free gift given to him.

At some point, all analogies of the Gospel break down, because the Gospel is a uniquely good and perfect story of redemption that cannot be replicated.  When I was given Christ’s perfect life, He took my sin and diseased nature upon Himself.  It was a complete switch.  I, however, did not take my recipient’s failing kidney.  In this way, the good news of Christ’s work is so much bigger and better than what could ever be imitated here on earth.  The story of my kidney donation is just a small glimmer of the utter goodness of what was accomplished on the cross of Christ.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

This post is part of a series of 31 days of kidney donation.  See October 1st’s post for details!

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Long-term Risks?

So, obviously I’m pretty bad at this whole “31 Days” thing, seeing as how I’ve completely missed the past 4 days!  The perfectionist I am, missing so many days tempts me to just throw in the towel and call it quits since I’ve already broken the rules.  On the other hand, I have to keep writing because I don’t want to be a quitter half-way through something!

But back to talking about kidney donation!  Many people wonder about the long-term risks associated with having donated a kidney.  Here’s a great concise answer from a Mayo Clinic urologist, Erik P. Castle, MD.

Research has shown that there’s little long-term risk for kidney donation, provided you’re carefully screened before becoming a donor. As a potential kidney donor, you’ll receive a thorough medical exam to determine whether you’re a good match for the potential recipient. And you’ll be carefully checked to make sure you don’t have any health problems that might be made worse by donating a kidney.Kidney donation involves major surgery, and there are risks including bleeding and infection. After your kidney is removed (nephrectomy), you’ll spend time recovering in the hospital and at home. With time, your remaining kidney will enlarge as it takes on additional blood flow and filtration of wastes.

Your long-term survival rate, quality of life, general health status and risk of kidney failure are about the same as that for people in the general population who aren’t kidney donors. Regular checkups, including monitoring of your kidney function and blood pressure, generally are recommended to evaluate your health after kidney donation.

So there you have it!  Beside the risk of undergoing surgery, the risks are fairly minimal!  Yet another reason to consider donating!

This post is part of my series “31 Days of Kidney Donation”

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What is Excess?

I understand that many people will not be either willing or able to donate their spare kidney.  (However, if you are both willing and able–DO IT!).  I’ll venture to say that most people can’t relate to donating a kidney.  But most people can relate to having extra of something.

Whether it be clothes or money or spare bedrooms or time or cookies, most people in the Western World have excess of something.  The question to keep in mind is, what will I do with my excess?  We can be hoarders “just in case” a need for the extra something arises years down the road.  Or we can be generous and cheerful givers, blessing others out of our bounty.

Maybe it’s not your kidney, but look around and see what extra you have that might be of good use to someone else.

For some thought-provoking reads on this subject, I recommend 7 by Jen Hatmaker, Radical by David Platt, and More or Less by Jeff Shinabarger.

This post is part of a series during the month of October on 31 days of kidney donation.

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Giving and Receiving

It is more blessed to give than to receive,” said our Lord Jesus.

 

Some people can hide behind giving.  Giving requires physical sacrifice for sure, whether it be time, money, or muscle, but it can happen without emotional attachment.

Lots of us, we don’t like being needy.  We’d rather be doing the giving.  We like our independence.  We like being in control.

The hardest part of donating a kidney?  My weeks afterward when I couldn’t drive or lift anything over 10 lbs.  I needed help, and I didn’t want it.  I’d rather go to the grocery store and lift items one-by-one in my car than to bring someone with me to load up the bags.  I’d rather eat microwave popcorn for dinner than have someone cook me a meal or drive me to get something.  It is HARD to be needy.

But when I’m the giver?  For the most part, I love it!  I love being needed, being helpful, making someone’s life a little easier.

Maybe for those of us used to being on the giving end of things we need to realize that sharing our need with others and allowing them to meet that need is another form of giving.  We are giving others a chance to feel useful, to act out their theology, to give something back for all the times they have been needy.

Let us independent types not hide behind the illusion that giving-giving-giving is more spiritual than receiving.  Even Christ himself received comfort from His friends when He was experiencing a deep heaviness in His soul.

Next time we have a need, let’s allow the body of Christ to put faith in action, and welcome their help with open arms.

This post is part of a series of 31 days of kidney donation.

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When Donating a Kidney Means Everything and Nothing

Somewhere inside me a little girl who just wants to help people.  Helping people is fulfilling, heart-warming, and gives a sense of purpose.

On the other hand, I’m one girl, who doesn’t even do one good deed each day.  What goodness I show will be forgotten soon after I’m gone.

There’s a dichotomy in my mind of thinking I’ve done something awesome and thinking I’m done something very inconsequential.  I’ve changed one person’s life, and done nothing in the lives of 6 billion others.

I get confused.  Should I boast or should I whine?  I never know, so mostly I just cry.  Cry with happiness, cry with sadness, cry with relief, cry with confusion.

I want a playbook telling my exactly how my life should go, how it should affect others, and what moments are really going to matter.  Instead, God asks me to trust His voice and subtle promptings.  Did donating a kidney change the world?  No.  Did donating a kidney make God like me better?  No.  But donating a kidney was an act of obedience, and through that I can trust that God was glorified and my life was benefited.

May we all listen to His voice through the clamoring of the world around us.  May we all act in obedience, and leave whether that act means everything or means nothing up to Him.  Maybe our lives be lived for an audience of One.

 

This post is part of a series of 31 days of kidney donation

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Kidney Chains

An exciting thing about being a non-directed donor (meaning you are not donating to a specific person) is that your donation affects more than just one person!  An amazing thing that the National Kidney Registry does is create a “chain” of donations, so the maximum number of people can benefit.

Here’s how it works:  Bob needs a kidney, so his wife Sally tries to donate, but they aren’t a match.  Steve needs a kidney and his sister Matilda is willing to give up hers, but they aren’t a match either.  Chester needs a kidney and his grown daughter Linda wants to donate, but they don’t match.  Then I come in to the picture.  I’m a match for Bob!

I donate to Bob.  In return, Sally (who didn’t match Bob) still donates her kidney to someone who she does match–Steve.  When Steve gets his kidney, Matilda donates, and hers goes to Chester.  Chester’s daughter Linda donates to someone who is a match with her, and so on and so forth.

Me -> Bob

Sally -> Steve

Matilda -> Chester

Linda -> . . .

So one non-directed donation can let several people receive kidneys!  The NKR actually organized a chain where 30 people received kidneys in 2011!  It really makes you realize how your one small act of kindness can be life-changing for so many people.  If your giving up of one kidney could give 5 or 10 people a new lease on life, why WOULDN’T you donate?

It’s like a modern-day Loaves and Fishes story.  Jesus takes the small offering of one kidney, and uses it to heal several!  What small gift might you have that, when offered to Jesus, can be turned into great things?

 

 

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