And I gave him sparklers for Christmas….

Yesterday evening my little brother Grayson Bohlender had an accident involving fire and is currently drugged up in the Burn Unit at KU.  You can read Randy’s brief post on the situation here.

Text messages started rolling in around 9pm last night, I did my best to mobilize prayer, made some phone calls, sent some text messages, got the word out and then….sat down to cry. Like a baby.

I made a whirlwind trip to KC last month to help with the family while Randy & Kels were in Florida adopting the new twins, and I think 14 year old Grayson was more excited to have me there than the 4 little girls., and he hacked my facebook account multiple times to prove it.

My move from KC was emotional for everyone to be sure, but Gray shocked me the most. It’s true that  at times you don’t see things clearly until they have changed, and I honestly had no idea how the lack of my presence in their home would affect him. But it did, and the mail began rolling in! He typed me letters, sent me post cards and I even received a manila envelope containing at least 100 loose leave sheets of paper each with a simple “HI” in large font.

We share lots of common interests, one being….. Sparklers. And at my suggestion Katrina, Annie & I gave him some in his Christmas present. Right now I’m kicking myself. Not because Sparklers got him into trouble yesterday but because fire did, and I wish I’d discouraged and not encouraged him.

Right now my 14 year old “lil brudder” (as he reminds me) is lying in a hospital bed, nauseous from pain, fighting a fever and gearing up for skin grafting surgery on Friday.  Each update & picture sends me into a storm of tears.

Please pray for peace over his body, for quick healing, and for grace to eat so that the doctors are not forced to give him a feeding tube. Pray for Randy, Kesley, Grandma B & the other 8 kiddos. And if you are able to help financially or to provide help with the children please let me know & I would be happy to help coordinate that.

 

 

In the Whirlwind, He still wants everything.

Last year was a whirlwind, start to finish. Each month seemed to bring it’s own fresh version of crazy, & December was no different. In fact, by the 1st of December I was suddenly facing two weeks to find new housing & either a new job or another cross-country move.  I’ll spare you the details & just say that in the beginning I threw up my hands in the air making a declaration in my heart to let the Lord lead my steps. And He did. He’s faithful like that.

The not so slow but dramatic demise of my beloved 97 Geo Metro, increased monthly bills & seriously needing of dental work forced my sudden need to stop working for Bound4Life International, a ministry that I have been honored to serve since my move to Virginia in January of 2010.  This decision was forced by unexpected changes & came with a flurry of job applications, long late-night conversations with my brother Jeremy about direction, & deep painful conversations with the Lord. Ultimately, it was good. Ultimately, it forged clarity in my soul. Ultimately, I am thankful. Oh but it was a rough, bumpy and painful transition.

One of those rough bumpy painful days found me sitting with a Pastor from Florida who had recently moved with his family to DC to help fuel JHOP-DC & serve with B4L.  His father has been battling against cancer  & he told me that his sister had made a large sacrifice to help lift the burden of the medical bills.

After this great act of love she was left with a small sum that she intended to put into savings. However, during a morning devotional time she heard the Lord say simply “Give it to me”. She responded with surprise, since she had freely given so much & replied “But……Lord, that is mine” to which He simply responded, “I know, & I want it.”

He told me, “Christina it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes God asks us for that tiny little bit that we’re holding onto for ourselves, just to see if we’re willing to give it to Him”. Oh how I cried when I heard those words. He’s right, it doesn’t make sense……. but do we trust Him? Do we love Him enough to give Him that last little bit that we’re reserving? That thing we think we HAVE to hold onto in order to make it?

And I felt that pull all through December, the Lord asking for my control, my self-preservation & the question lingered “Do you trust Me?” Even in the whirlwind, He still wants everything.

In a swirl out of my control, completely apart from anything I could have possibly tried to manage to pull together, He provided for me. Housing & a job. I would be moving into the home of an elderly Southern Lady in order to drive her to doctor’s appointments & serve part-time as her companion. Housing, & a job that enabled me to stay in the House of Prayer. This literally landed the day before I flew out of Virginia to spend 3 weeks with my family.

It was a glorious, restorative, joyful, healing three weeks. And getting on the plane to head back to the East coast was hard. It always is. Standing in line & swallowing the lump in my throat, refusing to look behind me at my mother watching until she can no longer see me with tears streaming down her face, tightly clinging to my little dog as if that will keep me there. It literally never gets easier. But I knew, I KNEW that He was worth it, that He had a plan & that I was walking in it.

I flew back to Virginia on January 8th. Exactly one year to the very date that I flew to Virginia in my original move. Tell me that’s not God! Only He would do that, just to catch my attention because He likes to talk to me in dates. I flew back to Virginia on January 8th, & as my plane hit the ground, the Southern Lady was being loaded up into an ambulance. I moved into her home on the very day that everything changed in her life, the day she began a rapid decline in health.

Two weeks in it was apparent to the family & myself that she was not going to pull up, & today, less than a month after my move-in, she began receiving Hospice services in her home.

I knew that the Lord was sending me back to Virginia to learn about Intercession. I thought that it had to do with America & the Presidential race, and somewhere along the line it probably does. I’m learning it’s much deeper than that though. Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah, John the Baptists, even Jesus. They made intercession on others behalf. They were in understanding, a level of compassion that moved them to feel the way that other’s felt in order for them to stand alongside & speak on behalf of. And I’ve realized, I’ve a thing or two learn of compassion.

It’s been almost a year since my dear grandfather Carroll stepped into wholeness & glory & the nearness of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn’t a part of his last days since I’d just moved to VA but here I am one year later, daily, intimately walking out this woman’s last days. I’m not a nurse or doctor, & even if I were there would be nothing to fix the problems. But I do other things. Rub her shoulders, wash her feet, clip her toenails, rearrange cushions, read the Psalms, sing Hymns. And sometimes I’m tired, & sometimes I’m frustrated, & sometimes I just don’t want to rub lotion on her itchy skin. But I’m learning to bend the knee, learning to cry out for grace & find it pouring on the inside of me. Learning to hold her hand & sometimes, like today, just cry with her because I can’t help her breathe, & I can’t make the itching stop, & I can’t make her kidney’s work. In the back of my mind all throughout the long days I am thinking of how I will stand before my Saviour & He will ask “Did you learn to love?” and my heart cries “Teach me!”

I’m learning that it’s easy to have compassion for the orphan baby. But what does the Lord feel for the elderly woman who kept me up late with her needs & woke me up early with her needs. Does my Lord bend the knee, receive the grace to do so, & gladly serve her? Can I enter into that kind of intercession? There are nights I step into my room & hit the floor in prayer, crying out for the sake of peace in her heart, opening the Psalms & with tears speaking loudly words of truth & life & comfort into the atmosphere of the home.

It carries over to my service in the House of Prayer. My tired tender heart is moved to feel, moved to enter in, moved to pray, moved to worship because there’s no other relief for the turmoil on the inside. Not when I’ve been convinced every step of the way that it was His will for me to walk through it with Him.

Psalm 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

We’ve been talking a lot of Grace & Glory, & I tell her that wherever we have to lean in & reach out hard to receive His grace He will make that very spot a place to reveal His glory. If we cry out for Grace, we’ll receive it & He will glorify it. We ask God to give her peace, & I’m learning to live out of un-moveable heart peace. We ask God to give her a vision of eternity so that she will have the grace to let go when the time comes, & I’m learning to reach for it in my own heart. We thank the Lord when the night is over, thanking Him for the mercies to live out the new day. And as I pray with her my heart receives, probably more than I will ever know on this side.

And in the whirlwind, He still wants everything. Each whirlwind, He’ll never stop asking if we trust Him but that’s not an angry question. It’s gentle, said with a smile. It’s promising. And it’s safe, because He gave & He gives, everything.

My story will never stop being just stupid crazy. And that’s part of how I know I can trust, because He’s never stopped being FAITHFUL in every step of every crazy whirlwind. And every-time I think He’s asked me to do something I’m fully not capable of doing, He places the ability inside of me through His spirit. The more I lean, cry out for help, the more I find the help inside. The more His word becomes meat & bread & water & wine.

I listen to “Measure of a Man” on repeat. And Johnny Cash’s album “My mother’s Hymnbook”. I listen to Leonard Ravenhill speak with zeal & tears of the worth of Christ. I rise early to jog & pray. And I’m eating a lot of chocolate these days 🙂 I’ve filled up her room with primroses & when all attempts to relieve & comfort & bring joy fail, I just sing until peace comes to her. It reminds me of mid-morning nap time at the Bohlender’s. Singing a nursery of little girls to sleep & the crazy thing is that Amazing Grace never fails to bring the presence of God, to those little girls, to this dying woman, to my own weary soul.

Bob Falkner text me the other morning saying “You were made for hard things. You can do this.” And I’ll say to you friends, God made you to do hard things, & He will enable you to do them. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. One bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. And tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus.

 

Twinnies

This morning on the train ride into DC I received this picture from Grandma B:

Talk about killer. How I love those little faces! Nothing makes me miss home quite as much as pictures of the twinnies. Ok that’s not true, pretty much everything makes me miss home but ESPECIALLY pictures of the twinnies!

The day was productive, we made the walk from the metro to the JHOP and spent the morning in the payer room before walking to the Court for the Noon siege.  As the school year draws to a close more and more schools are visiting on field trips and we’re having so many opportunities to speak to young hearts about God’s dream that He knits together in the womb. I’m mostly content to pray while Matt speaks, and it hits my heart in a powerful way every time I hear him say “And God has a dream for your lives to. Did you all know that? God has a dream and a plan for every single one of you, none of you are without purpose.”

After an important errand (I’ll go there another time) and more prayer room time I found myself back on the train receiving a text from Kelsey that read, ” Questions of the day: ‘Where’s Christina?” “Does Christina love me?” “Does Jesus love me?” wow! You rank up there with Jesus!”

I couldn’t love these girls more if they actually were my little sisters. That’s the power of adoption I guess. If I didn’t love my name so much I’d probably starting going by ‘Bohlender’. Maybe I should change that. If I didn’t love my name so much & if Randy & Kelsey were significantly older, I’d probably start going by ‘Bohlender’. *Now I can rest easy knowing Randy won’t beat me for saying he’s old enough to actually be my dad*

After the drive home I headed out for a jog to enjoy the quickly fading yet still beautiful weather. I dislike jogging so much more without Honey. Last August when I first tried to get her to run with me she would lay down in the middle of the road in complete refusal. By October she’d be begging to go again as soon as we’d get back from an hour run. Crazy dog.

So much missing. Oh but Jesus you’re worth it all.

The gladness of his heart

That’s what Josh tweeted this morning.

This is the day of the gladness of the gladness of my heart

It was crazy, it was crazy.

And it was beautiful. Having a hand to play in the creation of the decorations I was dang proud.

She was beautiful. Having a hand to play in the choosing of the wedding dress I was glad and satisfied.

The bridesmaids were beautiful, the groomsmen looked great, and I was so thankful for the love shown by so many who slaved and helped to make this day so magical.

Today my sister was a beautiful princess. She held my hand, frantically txted me over hair & makeup & missing car keys, I did my best to alleviate her stress & solve the numerous emergencies which would have been an impossibility without the Bohlenders, Annie, Joanna Eitel, my dad & aunt.

Today I gave my princess away, to a man who was stunned by her beauty and upon kissing her for the first time at the end of the ceremony declared ‘I think I’m going to faint.’

The day of the gladness of his heart.

I go to bed, as always, too late. Grateful, satisfied, joyful for them. Tomorrow I take my princess to the airport & send her & her new husband off for two weeks in Spain. Considering the last few vaca’s Kat & I have had together she’ll probably spend the whole first week sleeping.

Somehow we’d developed quite the reputation. The Styles girls. And I go to bed, mourning. Grieving the separation that comes with cleaving. Grieving my life forever changed along with her name.

But this morning I woke early enough to grab coffee with Bob Falkner before the madness began. He stared deep into my eyes and told me like he has hundreds of times, to work hard, accomplish much, cry freely and do hard things.

Getting in the car on Saturday morning to head back to VA will be a hard thing. The last two crazy weeks have been wonderful none the less due the presence of my tribe. Annie, The B’s, Jacob & Kyle, Kat. My constants, my faithful ones. But by the grace of God I go back to the un-known, unsettled, unfamiliar and press on for the grace of knowing Christ and loving Him as He loves.  All unto a day, the gladness of His heart.

There’s gonna be a wedding. It’s the sole reason why we live, to love like Him, to love Him like He loves. Fill us up Jesus, with the gladness of your heart.

Secret Wedding Weekend

No no no, I did not secretly get married over the weekend.

However I DID “secretly” spend a weekend in Kansas City recently with the sole purpose of helping my sister plan her wedding. And also to cry on my mom’s shoulder. And squeeze my dad’s neck. And hold my puppy…..and……

It was a painful 2 days. Not due to wedding planning, we actually accomplished a lot which is good since that was the goal. But painful for my little homesick heart that so dearly loves my family and friends. It’s not as if Virginia is torturing me, (then again this random snowstorm at the end of March is definitely a form of torture) it’s just that I really love my family & KC community. The passing of my Grandfather was monumental, and so terrible to walk out while being so far away and so far from the comfort of  familiarity. Even now as Spring is coming (as soon as the snow melts….) I ache every time I think of my flowerbeds, fruit trees, and tree swing. And I’ve definitely cried more than once in missing my many rose bushes.

But life is what it is and the journey does not have me walking on a road where comfort is found in familiarity or normalcy for that matter. This stretch of road is throwing me in searching for the heart of the Father, my Shepherd, my cover to lead me and love me and keep me. I was homesick before, but after a week in Colorado  helping the Bohlenders and a weekend with family…. ok I’m still homesick. It’s ok, it is natural, and it’s not going to kill me. These days are packed with adventure and acceleration in the plans that brought me so far away. Every morning comes too early, every evening ends too late, and just as before the fight is to keep my heart in the place of prayer whether I’m in the office or prayer room. I’m thankful for the door that the Lord invited me to step through and glad that I accepted. I’m thankful for the family that I am living with and the small band I am serving. I’m thankful for skype and txt messaging which keeps me connected to my family. I miss my sister so deeply but am thankful for the random nights (like tonight) when I can stay up till 2.45 in the morning laughing with my beloved brother Jeremy and his sweet wife, all the while wishing for Nathan and Kat to join us. I’m thankful for the road I’m on, though I can’t see where it leads. And I’m thankful that I am going home in 4 weeks for Kat’s wedding.

Ok enough being emotional! If you want to read Kat’s post about the Secret Wedding Weekend click here.

Rustling Leaves

  • This morning I’m chilling with the Bohlender kids & my sister while Randy & Kelsey are out and I’m not going to try to compile my thoughts related to Houston.
  • I AM reading all over the internet about Barefoot running/walking and Vibram Five Fingers shoes. Yup, I’m a nerd. I want a pair and I think that this may be really helpful to strengthen my legs after the last 2 years of madness! I’ve been to the Backwoods and Dynamic Earth 3 times this week looking at shoes and specialty outdoor gear, nerding out talking to the workers and compiling a list of supplies I want to purchase.
  • Also I’ve been eating up WB Yeats poetry, current fave: He wishes for the Cloths of Heaven
HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with the golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams beneath your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams