You are here, in this room.


This phrase has been giving me comfort recently; as I repeat it, I receive different gifts from it each time.

You are here, in this room.
You are God, Creator of everything, present everywhere at all times.

You are here, in this room.
You are here now. You have always been here. You will be here always.

You are here, in this room.
You love us and chose to have a relationship with us.

You are here, in this room.
You will live in us, if we will only allow you to. You will light a spark within us, from which we, in turn, can light others’.

You are here, in this room.
You are here because this is where I am, because You love me. I know You love me because Your word tells me so.

You are here, in this room.
Though You created the heavens, You are not just out there. Though we can see You in nature, You are not distant and abstract. You are always with us, where we live, because You love us.

“I have existed from all eternity and, behold, I am here; and I shall exist till the end of time, for my being has no end.” –Khalil Gibran



I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life this week: I came home, leaving my critically ill daughter three hours away in the hospital in ICU. I left her in good hands–her father’s–but, still, it was agonizing to leave.

Earlier in the week, a month after we raced to the hospital in the dead of night with the clothes on our backs, I had realized that my time was up. I was empty. Every small thing was getting to me, and big ones were still happening, too. I knew it was best for everyone for me to leave, especially my daughter.

As the week wore on and swap day approached, I broke down every time I thought of leaving. That last night sitting in the hospital garden, bargaining with myself and with God, I realized why it was so hard for me to leave when I knew it was best for her: in the back of my mind, I’d promised myself I wouldn’t leave her until she had turned the corner. But she hadn’t. I was having to leave her sicker than when I had brought her that dark night so long ago. I had failed her as her mother and her protector. As I sat there in the garden, it dawned on me that maybe my job had never been to fix it, though that’s what parents always want to do. Maybe it had been my job all along just to be there. That I had done and done well. Now it was her dad’s turn to have the great privilege of being there for her. My job this round was done. I turned it over to God, who I realized had had it all along.

I hung in there pretty well on the three hour drive home, partly because her kid sister was in the car, and partly because I had some measure of peace that I had done the right thing. An hour away from home my husband called: Megan had been sitting up, alert and talking since I left, a marked change. She stayed up late that night as well and passed a major medical milestone the next morning. Her pain was finally going away. She was turning the corner, just as I was leaving her. I cried as hard as I have in this whole ordeal, this time for joy. I did meet my promise, after all, to stay with her until she got better…I just had to have the faith to let go before I could see it. I did truly leave her in the best hands – her Father’s.



My daughter is simply the bravest person I have ever known. Her current health scare has only confirmed what I first saw in my earliest days with her; I have been in awe of her ever since.

I first met Megan Xiaomei (“Sh-ow-may”), now 15, when she was two. In an amazing 46 hour period, I went from the airport gate in Wichita, Kansas, to a dingy hotel room in remote northwest China, where the orphanage director had deposited my new toddler daughter and left. She didn’t cry. They had clearly prepared her as best they could, as she recognized me from photos we had sent them. She played happily with the toys we brought until bath time, when she finally broke down. We had been told to expect that, as Chinese children aren’t accustomed to immersion baths. She slept reasonably well that first night.

As I have watched her adjust to a new life, grow, and struggle with the challenges of childhood, I remain amazed at the quiet strength and resilience she displays. She has her own, unique view on the world…not distorted, but somehow protective of her strong sense of well-being. How I have wished for a piece of that for myself at times.

My daughter is thoughtful and kind, also traits we have seen since the day we met her. I have believed from the beginning that she has some special purpose here. I may never know what it is, but I am sure of it just the same. I only know that she has made me a better person for being her mother. As she has worked through this latest significant challenge, she has been the bravest of us all. I admire her in addition to loving her. My prayer to God in the middle of this is simply for the help and the strength to be the mother that this amazing person deserves; that is gift enough.

“We could never learn to be brave and patient, if there were only joy in the world.” –Helen Keller

How to choose joy

Kelly J. McCleary:

An important thing to remember is we choose our level of happiness.

Originally posted on Simply Faithful:

How to choose joyIt was a morning when I already had a case built against my husband.

There was a list at least three pages long of things he hadn’t done the way I wanted them – when I wanted them. Important things, like getting rid of that eyesore of an aquarium and taking millions of water bottles to the recycling bin.

So, I set off for work with this list running through my head and about the time I hit Lake Avenue I saw these three women out exercising. I probably wouldn’t have noticed them except that they were dancing as they walked.

I smiled and thought it was nice that someone was having a good morning. And then, I had the little thought: Maybe they’ve just decided to dance anyway.

I pushed the thought aside. I had a lot to figure out before I made it to work, and I was…

View original 251 more words

Aunt Janis


Two days ago would have been my Aunt Janis’ 73rd birthday. Unbelievably, she’s been gone for over 20 years now, leaving us far too early. She was a big part of my childhood; I have missed having her as part of my adulthood.

Janis was one of two children, both girls, of Howard and Bernice Kaufman. She was smart and curious and thoughtful. She majored in biology and became a lab technician; she never married or had children. Janis loved to learn and travel–I lost track of how many countries she visited, places exceedingly exotic to a young girl living in a small farm town in central Kansas. She even went to the Soviet Union in the mid-80’s, when that was unusual, before the fall of the Iron Curtain. My most memorable anecdote of that trip was her need to take along toilet paper. But my favorite of her trips was when she took my grandparents to Hawaii for their 40th anniversary. By their 50th, their health wouldn’t have allowed it.

Janis was a kind, gentle, and generous spirit. I remember well a number of the gifts she gave me over the years, as they were unique and unbelievably thoughtful. I doubt any of the gifts I’ve given over the years have been as memorable. It was terribly unfair to lose her so early. In the years since, I have often thought of her at family events which she would have enjoyed. She would have taken great delight in her great nieces and nephews. I have missed visiting with her; she always had an interesting and informed opinion. At the end, the hospital nurses told my mother that she was their favorite patient. She was special. Happy birthday Janis, you are missed.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” –Dr. Seuss


I’m in one of those periods I’ve thankfully only had a couple of times in my life, where your world is suddenly turned so upside down that no aspect of daily life is normal. Perversely, I find these times intellectually interesting, noting what becomes important when I suddenly have to narrow my focus to only that which is critical. I always learn something through these observations.

I’ve learned these last couple of times that sleep is more important than hygiene. When you’ve been awake for more than 30 hours, even food becomes secondary. Vanity falls away quickly: makeup, jewelry, and matching clothes are luxuries. Working out and listening to music–normally considered daily requirements–are as distant a dream as a beachfront hut in Tahiti. It’s also interesting what I add back first, as things slowly normalize. Toothpaste and underwear made it into the first Walmart run this time, a sleep mask in the second, dental floss in the fourth.

It’s amazing how quickly you settle into a new normal. Wearing the same shirt and jeans for two, maybe three days is fine. I know where the hospital stashes their towels, tiny and scratchy and thin as they are. My trip to the refrigerator now includes a 30 yard walk and a monkey key chain hanging from a hook at the nurse’s station. After five days, I finally broke down and spent $16 on a hair dryer that I don’t need at home so that I don’t have to go to sleep at night on the hospital fold out chair with wet hair and chattering teeth.

Yet there’s just no way to feel sorry for myself for long. Scared, yes, worried for my daughter, yes, but not sorry for myself. We can hear the hospital’s helicopter coming in for a landing from our room. It comes with sad regularity, at least half a dozen times a day. Too many kids in wheelchairs in the hallways are bald. Others have the expression of a child who has never had the normal routine of my children’s lives. We are blessed.

We will continue to cope our way through this period, putting one foot in front of the other day by day, sometimes even hour by hour. We will focus on what matters. We will allow those who care for us to surround us with love. And we will work hard to remember that the God who created the universe placed our special daughter here with us for His plan, and remind ourselves that He loves her far more than we ever can.

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?” –T.S. Eliot



I was driving too fast on the interstate in the middle of the night to race my daughter the three hours to Children’s Hospital in Little Rock. (Unbelievably, they were out of ambulances in the tri-county area.) About ten minutes after turning east on I-40, I saw a light in the sky ahead, high enough that it clearly was not on the ground, but still right there in front of me. The light quickly took the shape of a cross, an unexpected but pleasant surprise.

For several minutes, the cross shone in the sky in front of us, guiding our way on our frightening errand. The lighted symbol gave me instant peace as I drove through the dark night, long after we passed the hill on which it was perched. I wondered who constructed it: did they know how much it would mean one day to at least one traveler in need of comforting? That power has always been the beauty of this holy symbol, instead of the horror which it should have been. The cross saves and comforts those who are willing to turn toward it; it has always required us to make the first move. But that night, it gave without expecting anything in return except to appreciate the gift it represents.

“The Christian religion, though scattered and abroad, will, in the end, gather itself together at the foot of the cross.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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