Medical limitations

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Hello blogging world! I thought I would explain why I haven't posted anything in the last few days. After I wrote in my post "Thorns and Snares" that I would commit to writing every day, I seem to have fallen a bit short. However, I do have good reasons and thought I would share them with you....

About 10 days ago I had a small cyst on the top of my head drained. No big procedure, no big deal really; until I went in for my follow-up this past Monday and they told me it would have to be drained again, that there was still a little bit of fluid left. Okay, round 2. On Thursday, we repeated the process. Although there are no complications, I've had to go in every day since and have it cleaned and pushed on. The clinic isn't even open on the weekends, but the head nurse is coming in just to see me. This constant activity on my head usually leaves me with a headache, and an overall lack of desire to do anything! Thus, my lack of writing.

Add to the fact that on Thursday (yes, the same Thursday I started round 2) my daughter fell of the balance beam at gymnastics and hurt her elbow. We went immediately to the clinic for a look. They didn't think it was fractured, but by Friday morning they were a little concerned and ordered x-rays anyway. Nothing showed up on the x-rays but they think she might have some internal swelling. We'll both be back at the clinic on Monday. I'm wondering, can I qualify for frequent visitor points there?

I'm not sure if this is testing by God or a scheme of the enemy. Either way, I know God will deliver me through this. Thanks for your understanding and patience....I'm sure I'll have something to share when it's all over!

Learning to accept "No"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

If you have children, or even grandchildren, do you remember the first time you had to tell them "No"? Perhaps it was for their safety as you told them not to touch the hot stove. Maybe you spoke those words as you refused to let them have another piece of candy, knowing it was for their good. Or maybe you were simply teaching them obedience when you let them know they were not to walk on the newly mopped floor. This small yet powerful word is one of the first words that our children learn in this world. But what happens when they have to accept "No" in a new way?

Nothing has been harder for me this week than helping my 12 year old daughter, Kayley, learn to accept "No" from her Heavenly Father. Let me explain. Because cell phones are so cheap here in China we gave Kayley one as a Christmas gift. She loved it of course, and has been very responsible with it. Last Friday, however, it disappeared. We don't know if someone stole it or if it simply dropped out of her bag. Either way it has yet to be found. We have always taught our girls that they can pray to God about anything, so Kayley asked that we pray to find her phone. Several days have passed and the phone has yet to turn up. Driving home in the car Kayley started crying over the missing phone and asked why God wasn't answering her prayer. She couldn't understand why she didn't have her phone back, and began to question if God even heard her prayers. I reminded her that God always hears His children, but that sometimes God answers with a yes, a no, or a wait. In this case I'm afraid it may be a "No". This is such a new reality for Kayley, but one she was bound to encounter.

I just keep thinking how hard it is for me as an adult to accept that occassional "No" from God, and wonder how I can help her grasp this concept as well. I want her to know that God is not rejecting her just because He tells her no, nor do I want her to let this experience keep her from bringing her requests to Him again. I plan to share Scripture with her that explains how God even told Jesus "no", when Jesus asked "that this cup be taken from me" (Matthew 26:39,42), referring to His ultimate suffering. God's purpose of salvation was to be fulfilled in Jesus' suffering and for Him to have answered with anything other than "No" would have been a loss of hope for all of us. Obviously God has something bigger than a cell phone being returned in store for Kayley. Though I know it will work out for God's glory and Kayley's good, it's still hard to watch.

Learning to accept "No" from our earthly parents and our Heavenly One is not always an easy thing. However, it is necessary for us to grow and mature. Through this acceptance we learn obedience, gain blessing, and receive safety. May there be a lesson in this for all of us.

The beauty of mentoring

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I just finished reading the book, Tuesdays with Morrie. It was a really good read. Maybe you've heard about it or saw the TV movie. It's the true story about a guy named Mitch Albom, who rediscovers his old college professor in the last months of the older man's life. They begin spending every Tuesday together writing one "final thesis", truths the wise professor has learned in life and as he prepares for death. It is a wonderful story of the beauty of mentoring/teaching and the impact that type of relationship can have in someone's life.

Which brings me to the question, do you have a mentor in your life, someone like Morrie? Of my many prayer requests, that is one I am still waiting for an answer. I have been blessed with many wonderful Christian friends who encourage me and inspire me on a daily basis, but I long for that older, wiser woman who, like Morrie, can teach me things because they've already walked down that road and can offer sound, godly advice as I make my way down it (Before you say anything, I know -- mentors don't ALWAYS have to be older). The problem is I don't always have that "wiling, teachable" spirit that is needed to listen, to accept, and to try. It's that part of my pride God is still trying to get me to lay down. Reading this book has reminded me of the beautiful benefits that type of one-on-one relationship with another woman can have and has caused me to persist in prayer for that in my life. I pray that you have that in your life, and if you don't, that you will make it a priority of prayer!

Although many people are put off by the idea of mentoring or being mentored, we can't deny that this type of relationship is threaded and rooted in the pages of the Bible. For example, Moses had his father-in-law, Jethro; Joshua had Moses; the disciples had Jesus; and Timothy had Paul. All of these mentors drastically influenced and shaped the lives of those they taught. In turn, these students grew from the wisdom that was poured into them and impacted their worlds greatly. Just think how differently the pages of the Bible would have read if these mentoring relationships never existed. And these relationships were not just casual acquaintances, but rather they were deep, meaningful, and close. In the book Morrie told Mitch that if he could have another son, he would have liked it to be him. Paul felt the same way about Timothy when he referred to Timothy as "my true son in the faith" (1 Tim. 1:2) and as his "dear son" (2 Tim. 1:2). We are blessed with many special relationships in our lives, but a mentoring one is truly unique.

I doubt we can ever underestimate the treasure of a mentor. Mitch Albom knew the blessing of that gift. He summarized it beautifully on the last page of his book. I'll leave you with his well-written words:

"Have you ever really had a teacher? One who saw you as a raw but precious thing, a jewel that, with wisdom, could be polished to a proud shine? If you are lucky enough to find your way to such teachers, you will always find your way back.

The last class of my old professor's life took place, once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers. The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was life. It was taught from experience. The teaching goes on."

Far From Home

Sunday, March 18, 2007

"To live is Christ, to die is gain." These words penned by Paul in the first chapter of Philippians always seemed to get to me. I could never really grasp why Paul would want to die when he had so much going for him here on this earth. He was fulfilling his God-given purposes, he was fruitful reaching people for the Kingdom, what more could there be? It wasn't until my perspective and my understanding changed that I realized his true heart's desire. I couldn't relate to Paul's words because heaven and eternity with Christ were not my ultimate heart's desire. Yes, I had accepted Christ and walked with Him for quite awhile, however, my eyes and heart were still focused on and attached to this world in which we live. I had yet to comprehend my misplaced priorities. But as only God can do, He showed me what my longing for home should be.

Far From Home

The orange blinking light at the immigration desk confirmed what my heart and brain hadn't fully realized. I was not home anymore. The word "foreigner" in bold letters now summoned me and this would be the title I would wear in China for the next 2 to 3 years. I was a person far from home in a strange land.

At first the impact and the significance of it all did not bother me. I was starting an exciting new adventure! However, it did not take long for me to fully understand that this new place was different and not at all what I was used to. The sights, the smells, and the sounds did not register in my brain as familiar. Day by day my lack of comfort with the unfamiliar unsettled me. As the realization of my situation began to sink in, my heart cried out for home!

But as quickly as my longing for home swelled within my heart, God revealed a new understanding to my spirit. This new insight cut through me, "Just as this new place is not your real home, neither is this earth your real home. Just as you long for "home" (aka the States), you should long for heaven in the same way." My heart sank because I knew the words God had spoken to me were true. I was saddened that I longed more for my earthly home than my heavenly one. At the same, however, joy overwhelmed me. I realized that although God had gently rebuked me, He also allowed me this experience so that I could truly understand what the longing for our true home should feel like! My heart now cries out for my heavenly home with much more meaning and desire.

Time is passing quickly here in this distant land and with each new day my surroundings are becoming more familiar to me. I know that I will never fully fit in here, never speak the language, nor wear any other title other than "foreigner". That is fine by me. No matter where I am on this earth, that is how it will always be. I know that one day, when God decides to call me to my true home in heaven with Him, I will go right to the "resident" line to get in!

Heavenly sneak peek

Saturday, March 17, 2007

My daughter, Kayley, celebrated her 12th birthday this weekend with a sleepover. It was a great time with memories that we will always remember. However, I think the thing that I will carry with me for the longest time was not the fun activities, but the people. We invited 5 delightful girls who came from a wide range of backgrounds. One was from New Zealand, one from Korea (South, of course), one from Germany, one from Austria, and one Chinese who was born in Germany. Throw in the American birthday girl and it was like having our own mini United Nations Council!

Living in China in an expatriate community we are surrounded by a variety of nationalities. That is what makes living here so exciting -- getting to meet people from around the world! Seven months ago I had never lived outside the U.S. and a year ago I had never resided outside the great state of Texas! I have to admit that I lived quite a sheltered life and never really gave much thought about people on the other side of the world. Basically I never really lived beyond myself. Now my view has changed and I am in awe of how diverse God's people are. There are days when I feel like I have been transported back to the time of the tower of Babel (Genesis 11) and can vividly see that day when God confounded the people's language so no one could understand each other. Just standing at the bus stop with all the other moms easily re-creates that scenario! But even amongst all the "chaos" of sound, I see the beauty of it too because I understand now what Heaven will look like and sound like one day. Zephaniah 3:9-10 states it beautifully, "...I have decided to assemble the nations, to gather the kingdoms....that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him shoulder to shoulder." Can you imagine?? All the scattered people of the world reunited and showering Him with praise in their native tongue, singing "Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come". What a glorious day that will be!

We live in a world filled with misunderstanding, hatred, and war, so it was nice to have a night like we had at our house. Different people from different nations speaking different languages all together laughing and enjoying each other's company. Yes, it was heavenly.

Thorns and snares

Thursday, March 15, 2007


It's hard to believe I haven't posted anything since the end of January! Please forgive me for my lack of commitment! Granted, we did have Chinese New Year Holiday which was a 2 week vacation for my family. And when you add in the week before to prepare to leave and the week after to recover, I can say at least a month of my "hiatus" had a valid excuse. But what can I say about the rest of the time? Proverbs 15:19 supplies the answer to that question.

During my quiet time, I came across this verse in Proverbs: "The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway." Although I had read it many times, and didn't consider myself a "sluggard", something about it touched me. My rational thinking said, of course the sluggard's path is covered with thorns, he's too lazy to get up and move them! But something within me wouldn't let me settle for that line of reasoning alone. So I decided to read it in the Amplified version as well to see if I could gain more insight. Here's how it read there, "The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns [it pricks, lacerates, and entangles him], but the way of the righteous is plain and raised like a highway." Entangles him? I knew thorns pricked, but could they entangle too? And how? Now I was curious and began to pull out my commentaries. What I found helped me to see why God wanted this verse to impact me the way it did. According to my commentary, "Thorns in the path depict problems that keep a person from getting what he wants; his life has obstructions." I had to meditate on that for awhile and ask myself what it was that I needed to gain from all this.

Obviously I had some "entanglements" and some "obstructions" that needed clearing. With that understanding, the larger question loomed, what exactly were they? In order to get that answer though, I realized I was going to have to work backwards. First I had to ask myself a few things: what is it that I want? What do I feel like God has placed within me as a burning desire to do with my life? What is it that I always think about, play over in my head, and can't stop doing? Immediately, I knew the answer: writing and speaking. Just the night before as I was falling off to sleep, something popped into my head (sadly, I can't even remember what it was) and I began to compose the words that I would say and share with others. I do that with everything! So with that knowledge in hand, I was ready to unearth those "entanglements" and "obstructions" that were blocking my path.

Soul-searching is never an easy or a pretty thing to do, but in this case it was necessary. I really had to ask myself, "Liana, what are the problems that are keeping you from getting what you want, that is, to be a writer and a speaker? What is entangling you?" Not easy to answer at all, but I knew that if I truly wanted to overcome and not be that sluggard, I would have to face the realities of my issues. By doing so, I would know where the battles were being waged and how to fight or seek help to fight them. After much prayer and thought, these are the conclusions I came to: I am still afraid....afraid of not writing well, not having the right words to say, or not making "sense". I still seek approval of others.....I worry that people will ridicule my writing, that they will compare it to others and judge me, or that they will expect something from me that I cannot give. I still expect perfection in my writing...I want the words to be just right, to convey beautifully what I am trying to say so that others "feel" or "see" it, and to impact the reader in such a way that the words linger with them long after they finish reading. If I can't do that in my writing, I get paralyzed and don't write at all. I still don't have anything to share...although I refuse to believe the lie that I don't have anything to offer, I wonder what can I share that would help others? How can the events in my life impact and encourage someone else? Are the things God is teaching me for others or for me alone, and how do I know the difference? I still allow myself to be distracted from my goal...Satan knows exactly where to pinpoint his target with me - keep me busy or get me distracted. The enemy knows that I have a tendency to choose good over best and he plays that card over and over again. It would be easy to point the blame at him, but I know the game is being played and still actively participate -- losing every time. These are the things God has shown me that are obstructing my path, entangling me, and keeping me from that desire He has placed within me.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE understand that this is not a self-pity party! I am not looking for sympathy here. These are the things that I am honestly dealing with and that I know I will victoriously overcome! I am encouraged by Hebrews 12:1 -2, "..Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...". I pray that as I share, it will help you in whatever you may be dealing with as well. Ask yourself those same questions: what do you want and what entanglements or obstructions are blocking your path? After prayerful thought and consideration, begin making a list of goals that will help you remove those thorns and snares so that your path is plain and straight. That is what I am doing.

Knowing that I am paralyzed by fear, insecurity, and doubt (as listed above), I've come to the conclusion that doing it afraid is the only way I can begin to overcome. So my first goal is to commit to writing DAILY on this blog. I don't care if I don't have anything to say, I'm still going to write (prayerfully, God will give me something!!). I may not write it beautifully, but I'm still going to write. I may make you laugh, cry, think, or choose never to return to this site, but I'm still going to write. And I may have to get up at 5:30 every morning to get it done, but I'm still going to write. This is only the first of my goals and once I feel like I'm ready to move on then I'll work on the other goals I've set for myself in this area. I'll let you know how I'm progressing....

For now I will I finally put this very long post to an end, and leave you with this one last, summarizing thought: refuse to be a sluggard.