Life is always, all ways, good.


It was June 6th, 2012.

He was working as a teacher and we were in love.

But boy, was he annoying.  I mean.

Every.

Single.

Day.

Turned the living room into a raging sweat-box during workouts to the aptly named “Insanity” video.  Cursing and screaming at the television and quoting scripture. (Huh?!?!)

I swear this seemed to go on for hours.

That morning he woke up with a crick in his side.  It was nowhere near as bad as the time I woke up feeling like my second toe was broken.  Who does that? In their sleep? Like, did a night-elf wrestle with my foot… And win?  34 year-old bodies do things like that.  Especially when you’re working out like he was.  And it got worse.  Which is to be expected after walking around all day teaching.

That night I woke up late and wandered groggily toward the bathroom, noticing the golden sliver on the dark wood floor that meant the light was on in the dining room.  I opened the hallway door to see him sitting at the table, huddled in a quilt, a grimace on his face as he tried to sleep sitting up.  It had gotten much worse.

My spidey-senses sounded the alarm and adrenaline kicked in: He agreed to go to the hospital and get it checked out.  I dressed in moments and drove to the same ER I’ve used for years in the South Bay.

We filled out the paperwork and waited:

pain20scale201

Eight.

😦

Hours later he was admitted but they had no idea what was wrong and wanted to run tests.  He rested in a hospital gown on the ER bed while the nurse injected morphine.  Concerned but unafraid I happily filled the role of spirit-lifter, confident in the assurance of medicine and the promise of health experts nearby.  He was definitely exhausted from pain and insomnia but still in high spirits.  The nurse left and he lay there, eyes closed.  I sat in a nearby chair observing him calmly, knowing his pain had subsided.

Then machines started beeping.

Numbers started plummeting.

66…55…48…

The beeping quickened.

No one came.

32…24…20…

I cried out.

No one came.

Zero is flatline.

Beeping faster…

I ran to the hallway to get help.

In a flurry of light, fanning hands and yelling, three nurses and I struggled to revive him.

The beeping continued.

“Look at me!” I cried, over and over.

His eyes, rolled back in his head settled forward under hooded lids and battled for focus on mine.

With massive effort, he saw me and life flooded back into him, his arms and body no longer limp, his mind clearing, numbers rising.

The beeping stopped.

“That was close,”  said the nurse, laughing nervously.

I was afraid.  Helpless.  Untethered.  Holding his hand, the warmth of his skin promised life.  Love.  Our future.  Our children.  I prayed.

He smiled and cracked jokes while I tried not to let him see the tears that kept welling up.  The same nurse who administered the morphine returned with contrast fluid for a test.

“Don’t worry, this won’t kill you,” she joked.  He laughed.  I snapped.   Forty minutes later I stood next to him, alone in a long, quiet white hallway.  Nothing beeped anymore because there were no machines hooked up to him.  I wanted the warning.  Silence was insidious, withholding, secretive.

5 minutes passed.

10.

15.

20.

30.

Terrified, I wrote a desperate journal entry on my phone:

And they just left him in the hallway, no monitor on, no nurse.  I don’t know what’s going on and they’re not telling me anything.  I love him so much. 

So much.

I’m trying hard to be calm and am praying but now he’s asleep and it’s so quiet. 

When the supervisor saw my distress he asked the lab tech what was taking so long.  I listened silently as she lied to the supervisor.
“It’s only been five minutes, maybe ten.”
Still, he laid there in silence.  I prayed he slept peacefully.
He returned to his cubicle in the ER and slept longer while we waited for news.  Helpless and alone, I touched his arm, his face, buoyed by the warmth of his skin.  I prayed because there was nothing else I could do.  It was Wednesday morning now.  I let folks at our respective jobs know we wouldn’t be coming to work that day.  Let my church know I wouldn’t be at rehearsal for the worship team and asked them to pray for us.
Still high on adrenaline and anxious to know what had happened, I wasn’t hungry and no one offered me food.
He remained asleep and I wanted his strength, his joy, his peace.
All I had was God.
I prayed.
Finally a cheerful doctor with an Eastern European accent came and sat on a stool at the foot of his bed, looking at his chart.
“Wow,” he remarked and asked the nurse if he had the right chart.  He asked a lot of questions about his lifestyle, whether he runs and exercises, had traveled recently, was on any medication.
“So we found out what’s going on.  You have pulmonary embolism.  Which, people usually just drop dead.  And you’re still here so that’s good.  We don’t know why, but that’s good.”
(Laughter).
“Those are blood clots in your lungs, both lungs and it looks like you have quite a few.  Usually what can happen is the clot form in the thigh, or other part of the body and it breaks loose and travels like a bullet, upwards.  If it goes to your heart, brain or lungs, boom.  Sudden death.”
(Smiles).
“But you don’t have them in the thighs it doesn’t look like, so we just don’t know.  But we are going to transfer you to your hospital.  The ambulance will be here shortly.  So good news!”
The doctor left the room.
He looked at me, a look of amused shock on his face.  I sat next to him again and we held hands in silence.  Eventually we talked, he slept again and I went to buy lunch as we hadn’t eaten in nearly 24 hours.
Hours later the ambulance came and they took him away, with my agreement to follow them to the hospital.
The car radio was being repaired and as I drove in silence, waves of tears flowed.  Crying out in prayer I began to sing, softly at first, then in a lioness roar.
“You hold my every moment.
You calm my raging seas.
You walk with me through fire, and heal all my disease.
I trust in you.
I trust in you…
I believe, you’re my healer.
I believe, you are all I need…”
We got to the hospital.  His room had a view.
IMG_20120607_101024
After the new doctor and nurses had checked in night had fallen.
I drove home to pack an overnight bag, snacks and shower.  The rushing water washed every last sob from me and I cried out for the truth: That we have peace, health, sound body and mind, victory, strength, love, joy, provision and power.
Damnit.
I drove back to the hospital and setup all our sleepover goodies.  It was hard to sleep that night.  Someone in the hospital was howling in agony.  As screams filled the darkness we prayed together.
Peace settled again.
We rested.
In the days that followed doctors expressed confusion and surprise at his diagnosis and lifestyle.  He was readmitted once and released the same day.  Other than a little facial scruff and an unflattering, asexual hospital gown, he looked no different.
For a while I had to give him shots in his decidedly limited stomach fat to thin his blood.
Then he took pills, getting blood work done regularly.
In December of 2012, they said he was fine and would never need to take more blood thinners.
And he has been ever since.
In December of 2013 he proposed.
In October we’ll be married.
It took me a long time to realize this wasn’t only his testimony.  With everything stripped away, I found power,  Overcame attachment and fear, released the need to control.
More than anything, I learned to forgive.
Completely.
In the midst of all of it, mundane annoyances, offenses promises didn’t matter.  Nothing mattered, except that there was breath in his body.
In the looming shadow of death, the indomitable light of life shone, priceless.  It washed out everything that wasn’t love and left only joy, peace and God in its wake.
So if nothing else, when we’re married and I’m pissed off about stinky socks and pushing out babies…
Maybe I’ll always remember how valuable the warmth of his skin is, full of life.
And I won’t fuss quite as much.
He’s a writer.
Every day he sends devotionals to an ever-growing group of family, friends and strangers.
This is what he wrote after the ambulance ride 6/6/2012:
On Wednesday, June 62012, Ebenezer Quaye wrote:

Psalm 37:24 NKJV

Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

The phrase “It’s in God’s hands” is, at times, mistakenly used to denote helplessness. There is nothing helpless about being in the hand of God, in fact it is the position of greatest strength. It takes strength and faith to rest in His hand and resist the temptation to move in our own strength. Let’s allow God’s hand to be our true strength at all times. It is better to fall and find the hand of God than to never fall and only know standing on our own two feet. It’s all about faith…

Peace and Blessings,

This is what he wrote the third day of his hospital stay:
Friday June 8, 2012
Psalm 39:4, 5 NLT
“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be.
Remind me that my days are numbered—
how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand.
My entire lifetime is just a moment to you;
at best, each of us is but a breath.”
God works in order, there is no chaos in who He is. The fact that there is a number to our days is not by accident. Along with that number there is a purpose He has placed in us we are specifically designed to fulfill. Being aware that our days are numbered is not designed to frighten or depress us, only to impress upon us the significance of searching out and fulfilling His purpose for us. The danger in procrastination is that it perverts what little we know and comprehend of God’s divine timing. It falsely convinces us we can get around to whatever God has put in our hearts to do in our own time. Let’s do whatever we need to do to fulfill His purpose for us in its due time. The fulfillment of His purpose for us is one of the most amazing feelings we will ever know. It’s all about faith…

Peace and Blessings,

Ebenezer
This is what he wrote 6/5/2014 before we went to our tasting for the wedding:

Matthew 26:7-16  NLT

While he was eating,[b] a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”

10 But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? 11 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. 12 She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests 15 and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

We never actually find out the woman’s name or the exact worth of the perfume. All we know is how right Jesus was when he said “I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

When the woman was finished what the disciples called “a waste” Jesus saw differently. He and the woman knew the value of the anointing that took place. When Judas did what he thought brought value (30 pieces of silver) the regret of his deed ended up killing him.

Jesus’ assessment of value brought fulfillment, while Judas’ assessment of value led to to him, in effect, wasting his life.

When it was time to do her great deed there was no price that could keep her from accomplishing her feat. She knew that the greatest thing she could do in that moment was to anoint Jesus with the oil. The woman didn’t allow the worldly value of what she had to blind her to the spiritual value of honoring Jesus with her life.

Her deed far outweighed her name, position or the cost of the oil in her alabaster jar.

The contrast between the woman with the alabaster jar and Judas could not be any greater.

One deed served God, the other served man.

Judas’ deed is remembered and discussed as well. He took 30 silver pieces and committed a betrayal so great to this day his name has become synonymous with betrayal. His greed blinded him to believe that currency was worth his allegiance to his Lord and Savior.

Our names, our position, what we looked like and/or the price we pay all become irrelevant when the time comes to honor God with our deeds. We must always remain aware of the value of the moment(s) God calls us to sacrifice to honor Him, so much so that there is nothing we could be offered to let that moment pass.

 

When faced with choosing what deeds to accomplish in our lives let’s choose the deed that serves God and know that whatever the cost it is worth it. The great moments when we are given the opportunity to honor God in our lives are priceless. Our deeds will far outweigh our name. In fact our deeds are the foundation for the value of our name when we are gone. Living a life where we consistently honor God with what we do gives the greatest, most established and lasting value our name and story can ever have.

 

It’s all about faith…

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

 

Ebenezer


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Ebenezer

You can do it.


Watts Towers

One of the hardest things to grapple with in life is the feeling of helplessness.  Futility rears its ugly head when you go to vote and wonder whether it will matter.  When you’re exhausted after a long day and at the end of it, discover one more thing it seems no one else can do.  When you hear about death and destruction, pain and suffering.  When you just can’t and nothing about it is funny.

But here’s the truth:

YOU CAN DO IT.

Breathe.

No  literally, take in a breath.   Let it out.  You just did that.

Blink.

Smile.

Fart.

Laugh.

Every moment of every day you have control over endless choices-no matter how small- and you can exercise the same will wherever you choose to apply it.

We’re not born knowing how to breathe. Babies have everything needed to take in air but simply aren’t accustomed to it.  But with the right environment and stimulation it happens and soon, we no longer think about it.

You have everything you need to act, to decide, but maybe are not accustomed to it.  Start with what you have and you’ll be surprised at what you find.  Astounded by the results.

This photo is of the tallest tower of the Watts Towers, built over decades by one tiny (5 ‘1″) Italian immigrant with a huge spirit: He used whatever he found.

Astound yourself. 

High-yield, no risk investment.


We’ve all been hurt in the past. We’ve all built up defensive walls.  We’ve all thought we’d torn them down, finally investing fully in healthy, loving relationships.

Then, it turns out the habits that came with the walls hadn’t really gone anywhere.  Even though the relationships were right, there was no full investment:  The habit of holding back had settled in.

Why on earth would anyone refuse to invest in a high-yield, no-risk scenario?  I said that right. Yes, high-yield no-risk investments are pretty much non-existent.

But love is absolutely that.

When we’ve been hurt and habitually build up walls we somehow think we’re defending our most precious capital: Love.

Unfortunately, just like with money, love tucked away safely where it can’t offer any return does not work for you.

We convince ourselves, “Let me hold on to my love because I know I can care for it, and I would never hurt me like someone else would.”

The reality is, that is hurting.

Hiding is self-hurt.

When it matters most, those same defense mechanisms that covered your vulnerability and soothed your aching heart will keep you from loving fully, no matter how healthy the relationship is.

In healthy relationships between two whole people, the more you put in, the more you get back… And nothing actually can go wrong as a result of you loving more.

So here we are.  Sitting on our love when we know if we give it freely (that is, invest in a unique opportunity) we are guaranteed to receive way more with absolutely no risk of losing.

Picture this: You’re a millionaire with a time machine, and you’ve traveled back a decade with all the 2014 information you know.  When the opportunity presents itself you say to Mark Zuckerberg (founder of facebook), “Nope, nope.  I’m not going to invest my millions in Facebook before it goes live.  I simply do not want more money, I’ll just keep it safe in my mattress.”  (MZ is a billionaire today because of that business.)

Maybe you’d rather hang on to money than gamble with it. But when there are healthy relationships at stake, the only risk is holding back: Withholding breeds mediocrity.

Hidden love spoils.  We were made to care for one another, uplift one another, spread joy. Withholding love is the stuff of bitterness and unforgiveness.  When we pretend that isn’t important and revel in grumpiness we only hurt ourselves.

The love you pour out will come back exponentially greater.

So share.  With your husband, wife, children, friends, family, and if you believe, especially in God.  You’ll get so much more back.

 

Choose Joy: Never let circumstance dim your light.


For the last couple days I’ve been recuperating from a mean sinus infection (apparently wheat is just as bad for the sinuses -and waistline- as cheese.  Who knew?) I started the year with a juice fast, then a vegan fast and was feeling great.   So great I decided to cut my major vice- cheese- from my diet.  What I didn’t realize was whole wheat bread had become my new over-indulgence.

Which means I didn’t see this coming.  While I was initially frustrated and a little disappointed by my body’s refusal to get up and go when I commanded, I realized pretty quickly that my body could be stuck but my mind and spirit didn’t have to be.  So I grabbed a good book, stocked up on home remedy ingredients and tissue, snuggled up in my PJ’s with my dog and got busy resting.

Yes, I could have taken a bunch of medicine and struggled through all the day’s earlier commitments.  But as I prayed and reflected, that drive- To show I could soldier through, to prove I could always be depended on no matter what it cost me, wasn’t healthy.  I realized this was a chance to put me first, something too few of us are willing to do sometimes.  Ultimately, everything suffers because of that.

Eventually the same approval-seeking behavior that drives unhealthy ambition will also lead to an emptiness nothing can fill.

At the end of the day, there are infinite reasons to convince yourself to push harder, go farther, do more, be more.  But really, there is only ever one reason to do any of those things: When you’re compelled by a God-given sense of purpose, which will never feel like martyrdom.

When you look at it from that perspective, maybe a day or two on bed rest is exactly what the doctor ordered.

So here are a few things that stood out during this time:

1- You can always choose joy.  Yes, you may have to stop focusing on all the things distracting you from choosing it, but you can.  And as soon as you do, peace fills your world instead of emotional chaos. Being at peace is where you can be the most powerful:  Whenever your emotions take control, you’re literally no longer thinking straight.  A sound mind, a peaceful mind is powerful, and getting there is a matter of saying nothing will stop your joy.

You can start by grinning.  Like a really big, crazy grin.  You might cry a little.  Or laugh.

But eventually the smile in your spirit will stay.

2-  We all need comfort. My dog Sputnik helped remind me of this fact.  When I got sick he glued himself to me, following my every step, modeling what it means to just be there for someone.  It’s hard to remember sometimes but just your presence, whether you say or do the right thing or not, can strengthen and encourage others.  Whenever you can, be there.  Lots of things may get in the way but don’t ever let a misunderstanding of how important your presence is be one of them.

Sometimes, holding a hand, holding the space, holding your silence is really holding a loved one’s heart.  Comfort others.  Everyone needs to feel comforted, and when they need it most will probably never ask.

3- Every moment is available for you to use.  I totally fell for the temptation to wallow in my illness, grumpy and fussy and shut off from the world (in my state that was a good thing).  But when I remembered I can choose to be joyful no matter how my body feels, all of a sudden the depressing mist that was trying to settle over me lifted.  I could see clearly above the fog of sickness that my sense of humor was intact, I could still read, write and even sing a little bit.  Use whatever you can at any given moment to make an impact, no matter how big or small.

Just because certain faculties or tools aren’t available to you, doesn’t mean your life is any less meaningful.  Find the meaning in what is going on and move forward in it.  Never let circumstance dim your light.

I also learned that, well… Occasionally, and only occasionally, not being able to smell is a good thing. Sometimes.  Rarely.  But sometimes.  I’ll just leave it at that.

Anyway, the book I curled up with was Purpose Awakening Discovering the Epic Idea That Motivated Your Birth by Touré Roberts.  

A quote: ” The hardest thing for us to do is to see ourselves truthfully.  Each of us has an idea of the type of person we are, but there is a difference between who we think we are and what our life is truly speaking to those around us. That’s why it’s important to always have truth-tellers around you.  Truth-tellers are people who love you enough to tell you the truth about yourself.  They have nothing to gain from you and only desire to see you do well in life. They have no risk in  telling youthe truth, and because you both know this, you trust what they say and take it to heart.

But the greatest truth-teller about who we really are is the environment God places us in when we leave our father’s house.”

You will not be disappointed.

Humility


Holding back, playing small, or hiding a talent is not an act of humility but one of pride.  Be humble enough to be your best for other’s sake.  Your life isn’t about you and your courage might just be the encouragement someone else needs. 

Be humble enough to stop serving yourself in hiding and begin serving others by being the best you, you can be.