Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Extra Bowl of Ice Cream

 20130208_FebruaryFood_058.jpg
Original image via Flickr Creative Commons via Nathan Cooke
Some rights reserved.


Last spring, I wrote this scene in which Declan (a healer) entices Mara (an ex-prostitute and recovering alcoholic) to eat by making ice cream, a rare treat in my medieval-esque world. The ice cream is shared six ways among the three women and the three men of the household, so everyone gets just enough. But when Mara finishes her portion, Declan quietly takes her empty bowl and replaces it with his full one.

After I wrote this, I asked the Lord, bold as brass, "Will you give me an extra bowl of ice cream?"

It wasn't that I didn't have enough. I had Him. But in the midst of sickness, injustice, grief, and loneliness, I wanted assurance that God was kind.

Now, I know "kind" doesn't always mean "nice." God isn't nice. Or safe.



But as Mr. Beaver will tell you, He is good, and that's sort of the same thing.



Rather than immediately serve up my request, God opened my eyes to the ice cream I already had--
a healthy marriage
two sweet ginger kids
toys on the floor
enough to eat
a warm house
hot detox baths
joy in writing
daily grappling matches with an almighty Sovereign
long naps and angel's food in the shade of a broom tree

But just because God didn't immediately answer my prayer the way I wanted Him to doesn't mean He said, "No."

Fast forward seven months...

He places lonely little me in a family of believers, the kind of Christian fellowship I've craved all my life. This family accepts me. God burdens their hearts for my sake, and they, in turn, plead my case before Him. I learn about their personal prayer ministry. I apply. I become their first recipient, and God uses that experience to free me from spiritual bondage I thought I'd never be rid of, to heal me of the emotional damage of the past, and to unravel this crazy illness one symptom at a time. 

I've written about how God healed my hands. Only two weeks later, there's more to report!

On December 3, it was 37 degrees. I experimented with my tolerance to outdoor temps. Here's a summary of how that went:


The video I took this morning...mainly for the entertainment of Madonna Gil and Torey Pop Morgan. You're welcome. ;)
Posted by Melissa Chapman Keaster on Thursday, December 3, 2015
(Hope you enjoyed the up close shot of my nostrils...*face palm*)

Now, 37 degrees is a far cry from 20 degrees, which was the temp the day I first reacted to the cold, but I fully expect to be fine when it gets that cold again. It seems to be what God is doing.

Last week, I woke up at 6am (or earlier) four days in a row and saw Micah off to school each day. Last year, that wouldn't have been physically possible. Even with naps. 

I also ate half a cookie *gasp* from a package. Granted, it was gluten-free and processed in a peanut-free facility, but I'm still calling it a win because my tongue didn't swell, I didn't cough, and my mouth didn't immediately fill with tiny sores. That being said, my original chocolate chip cookie recipe tastes better for anyone who wants to know.

Even with all this momentum, I didn't expect what happened this past Saturday. God's faithfulness was on full display. 

Some of you may know Stan and Stacey Thomason. Brandon and I met them not long after we began going to Crossroads in January 2008. Stacey and I bonded over our love for Jesus and real food, and though circumstances have kept us apart for the past several years, we've stayed in touch. One of the reasons for this is that back in 2009 the Lord gave me a word for her at a Beth Moore conference. 

During worship, God impressed upon my heart that Stacey would one day be a mother and that I needed to tell her. I did not want to do this. For several reasons. 

A) It was the first time God had ever given me a word to tell someone. New territory=lots of doubt and fear.
B) I was unworthy. Back then, I was in the early stages of recovery from a 5 year rebellion against God. Who was I to deliver any kind of message from Him?
C) I knew Stacey's deep desire for a child. I also knew her difficulties in having one. God in heaven, what if I was wrong? 

But somehow, I knew I must speak, as terrified as I was. I turned to her, touched her shoulder, and swallowed. "Stacey, I don't know how or when, but you will be a mother. God wanted me to tell you that."

(For the record: If I'd known then what I know now, I probably would've stated that differently. But there's grace for the young and stupid.)

We waited almost six years. Each time hope glimmered, I rejoiced. With each hope deferred, I grieved. I prayed. And, of course, I wondered if I'd spoken out of turn. What if my words had been for harm?

And then last year about this time, Stacey texted me a photo of an ultrasound. There she was--Miss Rinnah Nalon--growing in her brave birth mother's belly, awaiting the arms of a woman who would love her more than life.

Saturday was the celebration of Rinnah's official adoption.

And as if that wasn't good enough...

We arrived at the start of things. On the way inside, I noticed it was just us and one other family. I looked at the mask in my hand, then up at Brandon. "Mind if I try to go without it?"

He agreed after I promised to put it on the moment I felt myself getting sick. 

That moment never came.

I don't understand. There were candles burning. The scent of perfume wafted to my nose now and again. Two weeks ago, candles and perfume still bothered me. Even when the place began to fill up, I was fine

Before we left, I stole Stacey away into a corner where she and I marveled over God's incredible faithfulness. Brandon captured the moment for me.


How's that for an extra bowl of ice cream?

On the way home from the celebration, I asked Brandon, "Can I try church tomorrow?"

His hand went straight for his heart. 

"Please?"

He agreed. 

The next day, I enjoyed an entire church service MASK-FREE. Nearly three years have passed since the last time that happened. I alternated between tears of joy and ecstatic squeals in Brandon's ear--"I'm doing greeeaat!"

At the end of the service, we took a selfie to commemorate the extra extra bowl of ice cream: 

Superman,
You are so brave and awesome to put up with my experiments after the horrors you've lived. Thank you, thank you for believing with me. Most men would've left long ago, but you've stayed. Enjoy God's reward, my love, as He restores to us the years the locusts have eaten.

Brandon and I agree. I won't experiment with triggers that have caused shock reactions. That means no pesticides, no peanuts, and no latex. If I'm accidentally exposed to one of these triggers and I'm fine, PRAISE THE LORD, but I won't go looking for trouble.

I'm not completely mask-free yet. I dropped off Sara at dance yesterday without my mask and regretted it. Something (Lysol maybe?) had been recently sprayed in the area. Not fun, but I didn't react as I once would have. Also, freshly mowed grass and gasoline are apparently still problematic. 

But dude! I can go to church without wearing a mask!!!! And I'm going to try Christmas gatherings this year!
"Trust in the Lord and do good. Dwell in the land and feed on His faithfulness." (Psalm 37:3)
I hope you'll feast with me this Christmas. There's plenty of "ice cream" to go around, even in the darkness of this world. Turn off the news for half a second. Leave the fate of humanity in the hands of our able and almighty God.

Here's a spoon. Dig in!




3 comments:

Len said...

Great news...great news...Thrilled for you! Cindi & I continue to pray.

Talena Winters said...

Love this. Thanks for sharing, friend.

MelissaKeaster said...

Thank you!