Monday, July 19, 2010

Allow for the possibilities

If you have known me long you know my love affair with real estate, home decorating and fine furnishings. This began as a child. I was blessed to work in the industry and also decorate many homes before we ended up selling literally all of our things and moving here after Danica was born. Our little hodge podge collection of furniture now makes me perhaps the happiest I have ever been, but I still love to look at and touch my former world sometimes. This past spring I had been saving for a bird pillow at Arhaus, and when the 30% coupon came Delaney and I set out to buy it. While we were there Delaney saw a beautiful shell used as a prop in one of their set designs. She asked me how much it would cost. The manager heard me explain to her there were many things in the store that were used to decorate and not for sale. Delaney said to me, "Well, we could at least ask!" This kind lady took that shell, wrapped it up in tissue and a ribbon, tucked in in the beautiful bag and gave it to my sweet girl.

I have thought of that day many times over the last months as we have witnessed God providing for us through people. I am not great at asking for anything and maybe deep down inside before all this began it's because I think most people will say no or be annoyed or are just too wrapped up in their own stuff, understandably, to be sucked into the "drama" we are in. Delaney reminded me how easy it should be to ask, even for impossible things.

As Danica's benefit tonight approached I felt a measure of guilt watching these amazing book club ladies who are so busy in their own lives spending time and energy to plan this event. Although it wasn't something I asked them to do, it was still hard to humble myself for some reason and accept the gift they were giving. In typical Monica spirit I wanted to give them a gift back. It couldn't be stationary or a candle or a picture frame. I wanted it to somehow speak to how truly overwhelmed I have been by their love and the privilege of knowing them the past year. I wanted to find a way to say to them how they have changed something inside me and literally given me the strength to move through these days. This club began about a year ago when things were really ramping up with Danica's diagnosis and so many times I have felt guilty when the conversation turns to our family or Danica's Chiari. I wanted to know their stories too. I know they have tough stuff and hard days and sleepless nights just like I do. Over the months we have let one another in through the sharing. I have never been part of a group like this before.

You may remember one of my first posts "Blessings and Curses" I quoted from one of my favorite books written by Shauna Niequist. Her long awaited second book, "Bittersweet" is being released this week. We had chatted about her new book coming out at our last book club meeting. Everyone agreed how awesome it would be to somehow get Shauna to come to Canton for an event and how much we couldn't wait to read her new book. I had an idea that night to ask Shauna if I could buy copies of her book a little early to gift to these women. Then I stuffed it in my, "Don't be so crazy" file drawer in my head and went back to trying to think of something I could buy at Hallmark that might suffice.

Last week I was reminded about the shell and Arhaus, so I sent Shauna a message. I titled it "Believing impossible things before breakfast." I told her about these women and our book club and how this little band of hearts has come together in such amazing way. I asked her if I could buy copies of her new book early. I didn't hear back right away, but then her message came. She was mailing books for each of the ladies helping tonight. When they arrived Saturday I could not believe she had taken the time to inscribe each book with their name and sign. I was reminded that sometimes asking is all it takes to receive.

If the story ended here it would be amazing, but it doesn't. This book, which I will write more about later, has a chapter in the middle titled, "Join the Club." Shauna's words are as if she was writing about our group. I will just quote a little here,

" . . . The books and the time we spent in each other's homes connected us over time and made my life in that season feel richer. I think that's how it happens, most of the time, kind of by accident when you are doing something you love, and only when you're lonely enough to take a risk . . . I know so many people who are just done with the official small group thing, and I understand why. This is what I would say to them: find connection and community wherever it already is, even in tiny ways, in your life. Take a risk and cultivate the tiniest possible connection, even in the unlikeliest of places. Sometimes it does work to set out together for intimacy, honesty, truthtelling. But more often, in my experience, you find those things by going through the back door--serving together, cooking together, reading together. . . In a world that's wracked by loneliness and ravaged by divisions, those connections are no small thing. If they make you better, more honest, more loving. If the presence of Christ is apparent because of the way that you love each other, because of the good thing you bring out in each other, then what else is it? When you walk with someone, listen to their story, carry their burden, play with their kids, that's community. When you pray for them in the middle of the night because their face popped into your mind, when you find yourself learning from them and iviting them more often into the family places in your life, that's community, and wherever you find it, it's always a gift."

Ask and you shall receive and always allow for the possibilities! God's grace is wrapped up in gifts everywhere.


  1. Sobbing through this, friend, and so thankful for your book club, your friendships, and your eyes to see His grace and beauty everywhere.

  2. My name is Melinda. I have a daughter, brooke, with Chiari. She is having surgery on August 10. Would love to learn more about your journey. we belong to Chiarians unite. We just started a blog for Brooke.

  3. I came to this blog through a post on Shauna Niequist's fb page. But, I was touched by little Danica's story, since I also have Chiari malformation. I am 23 years old, and I was diagnosed with it only 3 years ago. Sweet Danica seems to have a more severe case, but I want you to know that she is in my prayers and I can empathize a little with what she is going through. Her story is inspirational, and I know God will be glorified through her life.