Just Do It

January 8, 2021 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

Remember when the Nike catch phrase—Just Do It–first came out?

Yes, that dates me, but the words have stuck. I think I still have the t-shirt buried in a box of high school memories somewhere.

A lot of life just needs to happen without forethought. Hence the motto—Just Do It. Here are a few things we can do without much pondering.

Send your friends an email telling them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Even if they didn’t come to your ten times removed second cousin’s piano recital.

Reach out to your daughter, love on her, tell her how beautiful she is. Even if she hasn’t combed her hair in a week and a giant ketchup stain mars her shirt—the brand new one you bought that wasn’t on sale.

Corner you son, even if he is now a foot taller than you, and love on him. And even if you can’t see it yet, tell him he’s going to be a great man.

Buy your sister a book on her wish list and mail it with a card that says, “I’m sorry I stole your boyfriend in the seventh grade.” Trust me, she still remembers.

Call your brother, say, “I love you,” then hang up. Because men don’t like to talk on the phone.

Mail your mother a card with a flower on it. Thank her for cooking your meals and making your bed and doing your laundry.

Text your father. Thank him for showing up for all those band and choir concerts. And your three-hour long high school graduation.

Thank your parents—even if they weren’t perfect. They tried. Parenting is hard. The hardest project I’ve ever undertaken—second to marriage.

Which brings me to—

Be grateful for your spouse. God is using your husband or wife to make you a better person. Don’t forget, iron sharpens iron, even if it hurts sometimes.

Hug your husband before he leaves for work. Even if he left his underwear at the foot of the bed and forgot to brush his teeth.

Kiss your wife just because you can—not because you want something else.

Encourage random people today. Even if they’re mean to you in the Starbucks line. It’s easy to be nice when others are nice—not so much when someone irritates the snot out of you. That takes real control.

“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13 NIV).

Your Name

December 3, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

Eighteen years ago, my husband and I each scribbled two names on ripped pieces of a receipt, and stuck them in a baseball cap. Pat shook them up and I drew one out.

I opened the folded paper and frowned. “Not the right one.”

“Best of three.” Pat suggested.

After two more draws, I changed it to the best of five.

He agreed even though his top choice had made best of three.

The wrinkled paper that turned out to be best out of five read Kyle.

With a smile, because my handwriting scrawled over that part of the receipt, I lifted our brand new son out of the bassinet and stared into his bright blue eyes. “Hi, Kyle.”

“Ahem,” a voice cleared across the room.

Oops. I’d forgotten we weren’t alone. I turned to the nurse waiting on the chair by the door holding a clipboard in her hand. “We’ve decided.”

“Finally.” She walked to my husband and handed him a pen. “Name this child so you can take him home.”

My husband quickly filled in the word it had taken us more than three days to agree on and our new addition became someone.

He became a Kyle. But not just any Kyle. Kyle Patrick Freeland. These three words would now identify him, walk before him, introduce him. And right there in the room, we prayed for him to grow up to be the fortress that his name called him to be.

Names are important. Jesus has many names. And he lives up to all of them. Each of them backed with power from the Father.

“For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe” (Psalm 61:3 NIV).

“ …and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence” (Revelation 7:15 NIV).

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

Paul Baloche shares my heart for the magnificent name of Jesus best in his song, Your Name. “Your name is a strong and mighty tower. Your name is a shelter like no other… Nothing has the power to save, but Your name.”
Have you ever called on the Name of Jesus? Out loud? Alone or in a group?

I have and every time I’m amazed at the power, the peace, the love that comes with speaking aloud the name of Jesus.

If you’ve read my post Be a Dork for Jesus, you aren’t surprised by this. Are you picturing me dancing around the kitchen in those pink footie pajamas?

I lift you up, Jesus. I call upon your name in my hour of need, in my moment of rest, in the trials of indecision.

The Miracle Manifested Part Two

October 8, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

Quick Recap of Where is the Miracle?
I ask myself, what happened to The Miracle? A question I mulled a lot while Kyle suffered. What sin kept The Miracle away? What treatment did his doctors leave out? What did I do wrong? What did I miss? What prayers did I leave out? Why did Kyle suffer for four years before we got our lives back? Why did the sweet little girl in the hospital room next to ours go through three years of agony and never get her life back? We all ask these hard questions—controversial faith altering questions and God tells us, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).

What if The Miracle did occur and I missed it?

What if The Miracle had nothing to do with the end result?

And everything to do with the journey?

In the middle of Kyle’s battle with leukemia, my friend Robin and I were having coffee and talking about our kids and the worst thing that could happen to them. At the time, caught up in Kyle’s cancer, I immediately said, “death.”

She shook her head to disagree. “Eternal separation from God.”

Wow.

All I could think about revolved around Kyle’s life now. Here. With me. And what it would be like to live without him.

But what if my earthly perspective on suffering and death didn’t fit with God’s perspective on eternity? Wrapping my head around The Miracle in the journey seemed as impossible as stretching out my hand in Plano, Texas to touch my mother in Madison, Wisconsin.

What if God saw suffering like this—the life of one small, vulnerable child or one broken-hearted mother could impact the eternal lives of two people? Or four? Or forty?

What if The Miracle in the journey gave me a glimpse of God in a way I never would have seen? I am a new person. A different person. A better person in so many ways. And so is Kyle. What if I learned that trust came in different forms and brought unique blessings—one of them being my son’s relationship with Jesus and his life goal. After high school graduation this May, his heart’s desire is to go to nursing school and then work in pediatric oncology.

I need to re-examine my journey. The moments. The day by day. I need to stop looking for The Miracle at the end and open my eyes to search for it in the midst—the midst of pain, fear, frustration, and hopelessness.

That takes a special pair of eyes.

Eyes that I don’t have.

But I know where I can get them. God’s Word spills over with His perspective. His ways. His miracles. I believe the Bible when I am encouraged to, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 NIV). I hang onto to the promise that, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding” (Proverbs 3:13 NIV).

What could it hurt to ponder The Miracle being in the journey rather than at the end of it? We’re going to walk the walk no matter what. If suffering, pain, and death must be part of that journey, anger and denial won’t change a thing.

But looking for The Miracle in the midst just might.

Where Is The Miracle? Part One

October 5, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

I follow a lot of CaringBridge sites.

If you are unfamiliar with this amazing cyber vision, check it out at www.CaringBridge.org. CaringBridge allows a family in medical crisis to post updates, prayer requests, and needs to a page that friends and family can access.

The sites I follow have catchwords like “children” and “oncology.” My rooting in the pediatric cancer community comes out of the four years our family spent battling leukemia with our oldest son, Kyle. Because we’ve tread our own rough journey, people send me CaringBridge links, ask me to write encouraging emails, and pray for their friends and family that are dealing with similar struggles. I consider their requests a privilege. The way I see it, if I can’t take something away from my stay in a very dark pit, what good are my experiences? Not letting Jesus use me would be a waste. I staggered through the journey for a reason. So did Kyle. And I wouldn’t give back the empathy, wisdom, or perspective that came out of that trek.

Here’s how this works for me. I go to the link and sign up to receive updates to my email. I read the journal entries and the family’s story. I pray for these anonymous kids until I know them and their parents—intimately. I join them on their journey—sometimes from a thousand miles away.

As I go about my own life—kids, homeschool, cleaning, laundry, activities—various updates load into my Inbox. I click on the updates and scan the latest news.

My heart breaks every single time.

These kids struggle with school and friend issues, unsuccessful and painful chemo treatments and surgeries, hair loss and mouth and skin sores, intense bone and muscle pain, and the desperate desire to just be “normal.” I’ve walked in those shoes. Fallen under the weight of Kyle’s agony. Lived the desperation to save my child—at any cost.

I’ve begged and pleaded for The Miracle in hopes of sparing the journey in favor of healing my child.

Many stories do not have a “happy” ending. Families dive into a dark pit where they breakdown, fall apart, and suffer right along with their child. Sometimes they get their lives back. Sometimes they don’t.

When the decline begins and the updates grow more desperate, my fingers hover over the Enter Key that will activate the link and I hesitate, knowing one day soon I will receive The News.

I relive the desperate hope, the deep need to believe in The Miracle. The pleas for The Miracle to come quickly. The anger when The Miracle fails to manifest.

I slump in my chair at the appearance of that last post listing interment arrangements. In lieu of a gift, please send a donation to the…

I ask myself, what happened to The Miracle? A question I mulled a lot while Kyle suffered. What sin kept The Miracle away? What treatment did his doctors leave out? What did I do wrong? What did I miss? What prayers did I leave out? Why did Kyle suffer through four years of hell before we got our lives back? Why did the sweet little girl in the hospital room next to ours go through three years of hell and never get her life back? We all ask these hard questions—controversial faith altering questions.

Here’s a new question: What if The Miracle did occur and I missed it?

God tells us, “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways” (Isaiah 55:8 NIV).

Coming Next: The Miracle Manifested Part Two

The God Hole

August 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Lori Freeland –

Barring basic physical needs, what one thing can people not live without? The answer is love.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope, love. And the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13 NIV). We come into the world craving love, spend our lives chasing after love, and die wanting more love.

Love pushes me through prickly patches in my marriage. Love prompts me to put my arms around my kids when my frustration peaks and all I want to do is walk away. Love paves the way to forgiveness when my anger rides high.

I find love at the center of every close relationship I have. Why?

My humanity. God’s humanity. “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:27 NIV). God fashioned us in His image to love and to be loved. He gave Eve to Adam for this very reason. Out of His deep love for us, He sent His only Son to pay the price for our insufficiency.

God fashioned us with a giant-sized “God Hole” in our hearts—an abyss He put there for Himself. Everyone has a God Hole. Not everyone knows how to define that space—especially if they lack an intimate relationship with Him. This empty cavern goes by many different names. I call that place restlessness, emptiness, longing, rawness, sadness, frustration, depression, neediness. What do you call it?

When that space remains vacant, it hurts. So why am I surprised then when I ignore the cavern, the emptiness screams to be filled? The vacuum turns into a great restless pit of need. Why haven’t I learned that I can’t just shove any old thing in that hole to ease the ache?

God owns that space and He’s not renting it out to anyone else. It’s set apart. For Him and Him alone. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV).

When will I learn that once He fills my heart, my restlessness will melt away and the ache will fade?

Do you have a hollow space? Like me are you trying to fill it with family, friends, food, jobs, multiple non-stop activities? Do you think if you do more, be more, want more, the restless ache will disappear? I’ve learned the hard way over the years that it won’t. God made that hole for Himself. And He’s a jealous God. “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14 NIV).

See if I’m right. Let Him fill the space. What have you got to lose?

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