The End of the Beginning

Recently, my church made a decision that means posting personal updates on a website is not permitted.

I have been asked to stop blogging, and so I will.

I no longer blog, but I continue to write. For those of you interested in reading the rest of our story, I am switching over to publishing by email. If you sign up in the box on the right, everything I write from here on out will go straight to your inbox. I will continue to write our epilepsy story and pieces similar to what I have already posted. The contents of the emails will not be available online.

Most of you who have already signed up for email updates don’t have to do anything. I have your email addresses and will be transferring them over to a program that allows me to send emails without posting online. However, if you signed up as a user, I do not have access to your email address. And if you signed up for updates by marking “Notify me of new posts by email” when you commented, I don’t think I have your email address either, although I’m not certain of that. You will need to sign up again if you wish to receive future emails. I apologize for the inconvenience.

If you’re not sure how you signed up, you may sign up again. The program will weed out duplicate email addresses. You may also leave a comment requesting to be added to the list. If you have any problems or any questions, you can contact me at

Thank you for your prayers and your interest throughout our story. It is a gift I will always treasure.

My Guilty Secret (and Great Struggle)

I have written little of seizures lately.

This is because I’ve been trying not to think of them.

Here’s what I’m trying not to think about: We’ve seen no seizures since Tarica came home from the hospital.

Before you break out the party hats, let me tell you this is the worst possible timing.

Back in November, Tarica was seizing three to seven times a day. The seizures swallowed her life and vitality with the same ravenous appetite displayed by the wolves that lived under my bed when I was six. Brain surgery is a drastic measure, but we agreed to move ahead, bolstered by the continual seizing. She could not live like this.

The seizures continued, and with each one, I felt reassured that we were doing the right thing. When the seizures slowed down around the beginning of the year, I began questioning the wisdom of brain surgery, the wisdom of our choice. Mid-January, Tarica had a severe seizure that felt like God’s answer to my questions.

Yes, brain surgery was better than this guarded half-life she lived.

In the weeks prior to her February hospital stay, the seizures quit. My struggle began again.

But she seized at the hospital as if she were on a schedule, and the tests went well, and God was right there in room EP4, and my heart did not fear. Underneath my surface questions, I had such brave, blind faith that Tarica would qualify for brain surgery. We would agree to do the surgery, it would be successful, and we would shut—no, slam!—the door on epilepsy and live seizure-free ever after. I had the story already half-written in my head.

We came home. Tarica was back on her meds, and we waited for the testing results, waited also for the seizures, for something to happen.

Nothing. She has not seized.

And God has never felt so far away.

I told you the doctor called a few weeks ago, and during that conversation I realized Tarica might not ever be healed. I didn’t tell you what she said that opened my eyes to this truth.

She said, “If Tarica isn’t seizing, I don’t recommend you do surgery. Brain surgery is not a preventive measure; it’s a curative measure when seizures cannot be otherwise controlled.”

But if her seizures are under control, shouldn’t I be rejoicing? Isn’t control what we want?

No, no, no. I want her cured. I want her healed. I want her to live without the fear of seizures hanging over her, because while the seizures are controlled right now, they could return at any moment. I want her off medication so she can be my sweet Tari again.

If her seizures can be controlled by medication, why then did God open the doors for Phase One to happen? Why did brain surgery seem like our destination if it wasn’t?

I had hoped and prayed for healing, but it’s worse, I tell you, to live with hope, because disappointment makes the heart sick. That’s not my thought; it’s God’s inspired words in Proverbs 13:12.

There are several possible reasons why she isn’t seizing:

1. She is mysteriously and miraculously healed.

2. The medication is working.

3. God is giving us a reprieve before the seizures return.

4. God is shutting the door on brain surgery.

I didn’t want to tell you about this, because it feels like I began telling a story and suddenly forgot the punchline. It feels like we began a journey and along the way forgot our destination.

Now what?

We have an appointment next month in which we will discuss at length the test results and their official recommendation on what to do. If she still isn’t seizing, I doubt they will recommend surgery. Perhaps God knows this to be a good thing, but to me it feels like a lost opportunity for healing. Perhaps God has something better for us, but it’s hard to see that through my tears.

I want her healed. I don’t know if I ever wanted something as badly as this. If I did, I can’t think of it.

We’ve been praying that God would make our decision clear. Maybe this is His answer.

It’s not the answer I wanted.

Whatever the answer is, I pray it will be the best one for our daughter.

Even if it hurts me.

Elephants Marching in the Distance

It started as a simple comment, but for Linford, a comment is a prelude to action.

“We need some more animals around here,” he said in the middle of an ordinary conversation.

And I said, “The dogs and the fish aren’t enough?”

He gave me his squelching look. “We have all this land. It would be a shame for our children to grow up without animals.”

“Well, we have deer and raccoons and skunks and bears and mice. We definitely have mice. They don’t count?”

Apparently, they didn’t.

A day or a few later, he brought it up again as we swapped places at the bathroom sink, the give-and-take bedtime ritual instinctive after nearly a decade together. “We need some more animals around here. You have any thoughts on it?”

And I said, “No?”

That thought didn’t count.

Another time, out of context, he said, “I thought you like animals.”

“I do,” I said. “But animals mean work. The children will be excited about them for a few weeks, and then it’s just another chore to enforce.”

“It will teach them responsibility.”

And I thought, Hope springs eternal.

Yes, I really am that sarcastic. And that much of a squelcher. I am a bad woman and a worse wife.

Then there was that time I caught him looking at chicks online.

“Are you sure about this?” I asked.

“Yes, I’m sure.”

“Well, don’t let the girls see you, or you’ll never hear the end of it.” I propped an arm on his shoulder.

“I found a kind that are supposed to be so friendly they’re more like family pets. Speckled Sussex.”

He made a few inquires over the next weeks, but none of the hatcheries had Speckled Sussex chicks available at the time. I thought that might be the end of it.

But he is as relentless as a glacier. He started collecting information on chicken coops.

“You are serious, aren’t you?” I asked, looking at the flyers he picked up at a home and garden show.

“I am,” he said. “The children need more animals, and we have all this space. It’s a shame to have only two dogs and a fish. I don’t know why you’re dragging your feet so much.”

It wasn’t chickens I objected to. It was the elephant that the chickens represented.

When I was a child, I loved a book called But No Elephants. It told the story of Grandma Tildy, who lived alone until a traveling pet salesman appeared at her door with a menagerie. Grandma Tildy allowed herself to be talked into a canary companion. As she took the bird, she eyed the largest pet in his collection and said, “But no elephants.”

(Of course there’s an elephant for sale. This is a children’s book. Every child wants a pet elephant.)

It was inevitable. Grandma Tildy, after acquiring numerous other pets, eventually owned that elephant, the salesman recognizing a softy when he sees one. But when all seems lost and Grandma Tildy and her pets are doomed to destruction because of the elephant, the elephant saves the day in a spectacular fashion. They all lived happily ever after.

But that is a storybook. In real life, the chickens lead to sheep, the sheep lead to goats, the goats lead to a donkey, the donkey leads to llamas, and the llamas lead to a cow that I have to get up and milk at 4:30 every morning. And the cow does not save the day. It kicks and balks and slaps a mucky tail at anyone brave enough to squat beside it.

So it wasn’t the chickens I had a problem with. It was the elephants I saw marching in the distance.

Linford found a hatchery out of state that would ship ten chicks to our door. He ordered them and then made a Family Announcement. The cheers deafened the neighbors, I’m sure.

And I said, “Where are you going to keep them? We don’t have a chicken coop.”

“In the garage,” he said. “We’ll put some sawdust in a box and set up a heat lamp.”

I could just see it. Our main entrance is through our garage. (We have a strange house. Someday, I might tell you about it, if I can get over my worry of repeating King Hezekiah’s mistake.) I had no trouble imagining the sawdust tracked into the house, the spilled water and feed, the trouble with keeping Micah from hugging the chicks to death, the—

“They’re going to make the garage stink,” I said. “All hens?”

“No, I got straight run.”

And I said, “We’ll probably have eight roosters. I hate roosters.”

Jenica asked, “Why do you hate roosters?”

“I hate what they do at 4:30 in the morning.”

Her eyes got big. “What do they do at 4:30 in the morning?”

“They crow. Loudly.” I looked at Linford. “What are we going to do with all the roosters?”

“If we have roosters, we’ll butcher them. You’d like some young chicken, wouldn’t you?”

My eyes got big. “You’d butcher their pets? Oh, that will go over well. And what’s this about “we” butchering?”

Excitement pulsated in the air. The box, the feeder, the waterer, the light—all was made ready for the babies’ arrival. My builder brother was appointed to build a chicken coop.

The chicks came when I was at the writers’ conference. The girls told me all about them on Friday evening while I drove to my lodgings.

“Oh, Mom.” Even through the phone, Jenica’s voice held the softness and wonder of new love. “They are so adorable. They are brown and black and yellow. They look so funny when they take a drink.”

“They are so tiny,” Tarica said, her voice high and sweet. “They say peep, peep, peep when we hold them.” She stopped and giggled. “One of them pooped on Jenica’s school dress, but she washed it off.”

I had forgotten to complain about that detail in advance.


On Saturday morning, I talked to Linford. He said, his voice a little weary, “The girls were up at quarter after seven to see the chicks. One of them died during the night. Jenica didn’t take it well.”

This is what comes of loving animals. Unless it’s a Aldabra Giant Tortoise, it dies before you do. My softhearted daughter would be shedding more tears before this was over.

I arrived home late Saturday afternoon. I walked into the garage, arms laden, and stopped beside the box of chicks. They darted about the box, startled by my arrival. I lowered my bags to the floor and crouched down.

The fuzzy fluffball nearest me cocked its head and studied me with a bright eye.

And it said, “Peep?”

And I said—oh, this is embarrassing—I said, “Hey, there, little peep. Aren’t you the cutest little thing?” I scooped it up, felt its sharp feet pushing against my fingers, its heartbeat against my thumb. “Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you.”

“Peep, peep?”

Just call me Grandma Tildy.



On Introverts and Extroverts

Linford’s family visited us on the weekend of Jenica’s birthday. As everyone was packing up to leave on Sunday evening, I collapsed on the sofa and said, “That was fun, but I’m exhausted.”

My sister-in-law smiled. “All the people.” It was not a question; she knows how it is.

Belatedly, I realized I should have saved my comment for after their departure. “I’m glad you came. It’s been so long since everyone was here, and Jenica won’t forget this birthday for a long time. I wish all the planning and the people wouldn’t wear me out, but it does.”

From across the room, my brother-in-law said, “That’s what I don’t get. The way you portray yourself in your writing—that’s not the Stephanie I know.”

“You mean because I say I’m an introvert, but I’m not shy and quiet?”

Shy and quiet? Far from it. The meek will inherit the earth, but my unconverted self could barely lay claim to a small, well-rounded pebble of it since I’ve spent my life with big, square-shouldered opinions. Redeemed, I have acquired a little meekness, but only a little and it is not my native land.

Am I an introvert or an extrovert? I struggled with this in the years prior to my marriage.

When the occasion called for it, I could be (still am) outspoken and opinionated. I loved teaching fifth grade for three years at our local Christian school. I could hold my own in any conversation I cared about and did far too frequently.

But I would come home, and in my quiet room, alone, I felt like I could finally breathe. During the school year, I would often go to bed on Sunday afternoon and sleep until Monday morning, exhausted by the teaching I loved. My best friends were books.

And my deepest, darkest secret: I hated slumber parties and hated hating them because it felt so abnormal. I just wanted to be light and vivacious and not care so much about whether I looked silly in my pajamas. Instead, I brooded in a sofa corner, conflicted because if just one of these girls would sit down and initiate a deep conversation with me, I would have no trouble finding the words I couldn’t scrape together in the crowd.

I felt like a bone yanked between Introvert and Extrovert. Which one was I?

I settled on introvert because I preferred books, learning, and one good friend over parties, hanging out, and many friends. But sometimes I would get these blank looks from people like the one my brother-in-law was wearing. What do you mean, you’re an introvert? You just got done hotly debating the state of Mennonite publishing.

I said to my brother-in-law, “Not long ago, I read Quiet by Susan Cain, and she had the best definition for introverts and extroverts that I’ve found. Extroverts draw energy from people. Being alone drains them. Introverts draw energy from solitude and quiet. Being with people drains them. Introverts aren’t necessarily shy, and extroverts aren’t necessarily loud. The difference is in how we are energized.”

The look on his face. “You mean I might be an introvert? When I’m in a large crowd, I go home with a tension headache.”

I looked him, outspoken, opinionated, a voracious reader who wasn’t above publicly disappearing into a book. “You might be. If people wear you out.”

Opinionated introverts often appear to be extroverts. This past weekend, I attended a writers’ conference. Although I can’t see myself from another’s perspective, I’m guessing I appeared to be neither shy nor reserved and definitely not unopinionated. But out of what felt like 376 conversations, I initiated maybe 4 of them.

And I came home exhausted.

To be greeted by a small man in red rubber fire-engine boots who hurled himself into my arms and squeezed.

Children are people, too.

I used to think I was a terrible mom because my children wore me out. Surely, if I loved them like I should, I would not crave an hour of solitude even more than my morning cup of coffee. A good mom does not plot seven different ways to escape the house without being seen.

But now, I understand. The constant stimulation of people, large and small, wears me out. I don’t choose to be this way, any more than my husband, the unopinionated extrovert, chose to be stimulated by people, and the more the merrier. Let’s invite the whole church while we’re at it.

I didn’t choose to be this way, but I can choose how I allow it to affect my relationships.

So I’m working on saying “Sure, sounds good” when my husband suggests last-minute company. This one is hard; I prefer at least twenty-four hours to prepare myself.

I’m working at finding five intentional minutes throughout the day and exalting in that wee bit of solitude, before returning to my children, who are ransacking the house for me, with a smile instead of a snap.

I’m learning that if I want enough energy to be a wife and mom, I can’t have a full social schedule. I stay home as much as possible.

I try to meet my children’s eyes and smile when they come to me, so they feel welcome and accepted.

In friendships, I’m learning that quality beats quantity for me every time. It used to be bother me that some people had 279 best friends and I had only one. Now I realize that I have only a few close friends not because I’m weird (well, not only because I’m weird) but because I’m wired that way.

Why am I telling you this?

Because I want to write about a topic that is tied closely to my introversion.

Because if you know me in real life and are as baffled as my brother-in-law, I’d like to you know even introverts can be loud and obnoxious. Introverts just wear out faster, so it’s over sooner.

Because if you see me in a public place somewhere, I want you to come over and introduce yourself. I am not a snob; I just initiate few conversations. I’d be thrilled to talk if you want to. You might regret it; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Because once I understood the why, I could deal with the how. Being an introverted mom is hard. I can’t escape my people. I’m on call 24/7. Linford drives around all day by himself and comes home ready for Family Time. I’m thinking he looks like a pretty good babysitter, and he says, “What do you mean? We want to spend time with YOU, too.” That has been a recipe for a lot of frustration, but understanding why I feel overwhelmed goes a long way toward dealing with it. If this post helps just one introverted mom blow out a breath of relief, then it was worth writing.

What we really need is an Introverted Moms support group, but who am I kidding?

No one would attend the meetings.

Please Don’t Call Me a Blogger

Since we are on the subject of blogging, I thought it time to write the post I’ve wanted to write since the blog’s beginning.

In this post, I want to ask one thing of you.

Please. Don’t call me a blogger.

This is denial at its worst. If one publishes posts on an online platform called a blog, it’s only a matter of time before readers and the English language label that person a blogger. I am silly and naive to insist otherwise.

But I have no desire to be a blogger.

In my circle of friends, the offline friends I have because we share childhood history or church connections, I’m one of the few with a blog. This makes me uncomfortable. I do not like appearing technologically edgy and progressive. I have never, ever established a fad in my life, and I don’t wish to start now.

I’ve also made a habit of avoiding fads. About twenty years ago, a new fabric manufacturer called Tropical Breeze swept into the Mennonite world with a dizzying array of new choices. From my young perspective, it seemed like Mennonite women collectively pounced, and before long, my friends waltzed into school in lovely Tropical Breeze dresses, many of them wearing the same print in one of the various colors offered.

I sniffed and declared I would not wear a Tropical Breeze dress, because everybody wore them. If there ever was a case of reverse snobbery, I had it. It took over a decade before I willingly bought Tropical Breeze material, and then only because it was cheaper and easier to care for than other fabrics—and I was a busy mother on a budget.

What Tropical Breeze is among Mennonites, blogging is on the world wide web. In February 2014, there were 75.8 million WordPress blogs, and that was only for WordPress. The world doesn’t need another blog, and when I signed up with WordPress in May 2014, I became (approximately) blog # 75,800,001. Exhilarating to someone who would rather be different than fit in.

It took me four months to publish my first post. And during those four months, I told only one person what I was up to.

I found the whole situation mortifying. I still do.

Why then do I blog?

The Mennonite world has limited publishing options. While I do submit pieces to several magazines and periodicals, I write much more than I can sell. Some of what I write does not comfortably fit the criteria of those publications. I write to communicate, not to stick it in a drawer. Blogging allows me to share the words I cobble together.

Blogging also creates mini deadlines. I process life through writing; without it, I’m not sure I could cope. But writing does not quite have the urgency of eating or sleeping or do-I-have-clean-underwear, and sometimes I would procrastinate writing certain pieces because I had nowhere to publish them. What was the point of committing time to something I would put in a virtual drawer? But now, I have a place to publish and a few readers, so those pieces get written.

Because of the mini deadlines, I write consistently. A writer improves only when she writes. This accomplishes another goal of mine.

Blogging is connecting me with readers. Without readers, online or offline, I do not exist as a published writer, online or offline.

Not that this blog is solely for self-expression. When I sit down to write, I aim to serve you, the reader. C. S. Lewis said, “We read to know we are not alone.” I want to share stories here that offer hope and healing, even if it means showing you my wounds. I write for someone like me who struggles to find God in the hard stuff (except when I’m producing navel-gazing expositions on why you shouldn’t call me a blogger even though I am). In His Word, God used story to reveal His greatness and power; I hope I am able to do the same with my much less inspired words.

If I did not believe my writing here is doing some good, I would quit today. If my writing does any good at all, it is because Christ has first done a good work in me. Without Him, I am nothing. With Him, I am still nothing; His life in me is the only good I can claim.

If I could find another way to accomplish what this blog does—sustaining a regular writing habit, building reader-writer relationships, serving with honest story—I would choose that over blogging. In the future, I hope to write more than blog posts, but for now, blogging works.

So please, don’t call me a blogger.

Call me a writer who publishes on a blog.

It may be denial, it may be splitting hairs, it may be ridiculous to care, but it matters to me.

Why I Am Not a Food Blogger

Ever since Tarica came home from the hospital on February 10, Jenica has been talking about her birthday. She managed to work it into most conversations, on topic or not, and all our family plans were divided into Before, On, and After.

Whenever I was tempted to roll my eyes, I reminded myself that her anticipation was likely an epilepsy side effect. Tarica’s seizures had made her the Center of Attention for the last year, and Jenica had complained about this much less than she could have. That tempered my exasperation, although I feared she was anticipating a much bigger birthday than we could afford to create.

Last year, before Tarica started seizing, I had promised Jenica I would take a birthday lunch to school for her class. Although I managed to keep that promise in the aftermath of Tarica’s diagnosis, I felt as if I were doing it on auto-pilot. My heart wasn’t celebrating even as we sang “Happy Birthday” at a family birthday party and presented presents and a cake (beautifully decorated by someone else).

This year, I had decided, would be different. I would be present in heart as well as body. I nixed the school lunch early on, in hopes of being realistic. However, I still wanted to do something special for a school birthday treat. Perhaps Jenica and I could make something together.

“Marshmallow peeps,” she said. “Let’s make something with marshmallow peeps.”

Gag, I thought. “Sure,” I said.

I consulted the world’s biggest cookbook, AKA the world wide web. It didn’t take me long to find something that looked cute but easy.

Since I was doing this anyway and since I was taking pictures anyway and since bloggers posted recipes and pictures all the time, I figured I might as well turn this into a post. Why not?

We planned to assemble the treat on Thursday evening so Jenica could take it to school on Friday. I then hit the first bump. My parents were butchering their last steer on Thursday evening, and one quarter of the beast was ours. I had to go over and package our meat for the freezer.

Well, we’d just have to make the treat after Jenica came home from school and then head over to the butchering. A little tight, but we’d manage.

Thursday morning, I bought fast-to-fix ingredients—and here I hit the second bump. In a culture that had begun to count carbs and promote protein, I was committing what amounted to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Here are the ingredients:


I could have made my own cake mix. I could have made my own pudding. I could have whipped heavy cream into topping. I could have made my own frosting. I could have bought my own cow so I had fresh milk instead of pasteurized junk stored in white plastic. Instead I bought shortcuts full of sugar and preservatives and unpronounceable names.

Because I didn’t have all evening.

It wasn’t hard to imagine the blogosphere horror.

Did I have enough nerve to do this?

Jenica bounced beside me. “What can I do what can I do?”

I squared my shoulders and put down the camera.

“You can crush the graham crackers,” I said.



After she was done, she asked, “Now what?”

“Dump the pudding mix into the milk. I’ll measure a cup of cake mix. You can whisk the pudding and cake mix and milk together. When you’re done, I’ll fold in the Cool Whip.”


The recipe I was following declared that with the addition of the cake mix, the pudding tasted like cake batter, minus the evil eggs. This had sold Jenica on it instantly.

Pudding finished, I said, “Dump two spoonfuls of graham cracker crumbs into each cup. I’ll spoon pudding on top, and then you can put more graham crackers on top of that.”


And here we ran into what I call the chip-and-dip conundrum. I’m sure you’ve done it, too. You help yourself to chips and dip, but you don’t have quite enough chips, so you take a few more, and then you don’t have enough dip, so you have yourself some more dip. But then you need more chips. It’s a delightful and self-sustained cycle.

Except when the chip-and-dip conundrum pops up in other areas.

We ran out of graham crackers. Jenica crushed more.

We ran out of pudding. I whisked together another batch.

And then we had too much pudding.


I broke the cycle by dumping the rest of the pudding into an empty Cool Whip and stuffing it into the fridge before anyone got any ideas about how many more pudding cups we could make. We would eat cake-batter pudding by itself tomorrow, or—gag—not.

And then I opened the store-bought frosting, warmed it in the microwave, and poured a little on top of each cup.



We then ran into our next problem. The pudding cups, or rather, the warmed frosting needed to cool before we dabbed Cool Whip on top. But it was time to leave.

Unfinished food projects make me jumpy. Particularly ones that have to be finished in the morning before school.

We boxed up the cups, put them into the fridge, and left to wrap meat.

The next morning, in between breakfast and hair-combing, I plopped Cool Whip on top of the cups, and Jenica nested blue Peeps on each one.




What a relief.

You want the recipe?

I very much doubt you do, but if you Google “eclair pudding marshmallow peeps,” you’ll find an example of how a food blogger does it.

Do it her way, not mine.

* * *

P.S. I did one more experiment over the weekend, and that one turned out—surprisingly—better than I expected.


But if you want the recipe, Google “kit kat birthday cake” and let the experts tell you how to do it.


How to Become Real

As a child, I disliked The Velveteen Rabbit. Even though the beloved stuffed rabbit was rescued and turned into a real rabbit, it grieved me that the Boy did not grieve his loss. I would not have so easily relinquished my stuffed friends, I said to myself, indignant.

Now I am no longer a child, and I know that we outgrow things we once could not imagine living without. What fondness I feel for the treasures of my childhood is rooted in nostalgia, no longer in love or need. So now I can read The Velveteen Rabbit with calm rationality, as I did the other day.

I was electrified by a particular passage:

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

There is an Easter message here.

God’s love makes us Real.

And being loved, becoming Real, hurts.

I want to be Real. To God. With others.

When I am Real, I am not stuffed and sitting on a shelf.

When I am Real, I am full of life and love and pain and my joints are loose and I am shabby and disheveled, but it does not matter, because I am Real.

Outside nursery magic, the only way for me to become Real is to accept the life-giving love of my Creator and love Him deeply in return. Obey Him, serve Him, follow Him. And sometimes it hurts.

Real is risky; stuffed looks safe—but I choose to be Real, because then I am loved and can love in return.

What It Means to Choose Heaven

In my last post, I wrote “I choose heaven over healing.”

Later, I thought maybe that statement could be misunderstand. I want to be sure I am clear.

In the phone call, the doctor didn’t give me any new information. She spoke frankly of the risks and likely odds we are facing and gave her opinion on a few things. She took the facts we know now and explained what it means from her perspective. It opened my eyes to reality.

But we have not yet made the decision on brain surgery. That will most likely happen sometime in May, after we receive more specific details on the testing.

It won’t be an easy choice to make, and my last post was an outpouring of my floundering heart. All this time, I’ve been convinced that surely God will heal Tarica. He still might. We may go ahead with surgery, and she may become seizure-free.

But we might feel God’s leading to decline surgery, or surgery may not heal her—and I finally realized this. Yes, it will hurt deeply (hence the shattered-heart line—forgive my drama), but it’s not as tragic as I think it is. God can redeem our pain and turn it into good.

Ultimately, heaven is more important than a seizure-free life. Eternity is more important than time. Our destiny is more important than our children having perfect lives.

This is an unavoidable truth, but it hurts me, because I want the best for my children.

But so does God.

And heaven is the ultimate best.

Heaven is guaranteed healing, but healing doesn’t guarantee heaven.

I’m still praying for healing, but I’m also praying that if healing is not for Tarica, God will help us accept it and even grow from it. I’m praying that no matter the medical outcome, all of our family would find and follow God, although it may mean facing pain now to gain bliss later.

That’s why I choose heaven over healing.

P.S. But if God does heal her, you will have to search the world over to find a more thankful family.