carpe diem

EDIT (9:52 a.m.): I forgot to mention a big prayer request. An old friend of ours, Barb Woodruff (she’s just a few years older than me, married a couple years ago–Gabe has known her forever, I met her at camp), has been having seizures and can’t drive, do a lot of things she used to do. She’s at the Cleveland Clinic now, and they’ll probably have to remove part of her brain. This could have a dramatic effect on her memory, motor skills, etc. What a tough, tough situation. Please pray for Barb, her husband, her parents and siblings, the doctors. Pray for a perfect surgery, no complications, no loss of skills or memory–a miracle! Thank you.

Seize the day, for those of you whose Latin is rusty. I’ve been thinking a lot about this the past few days. About making the most of every day, about not knowing whether we even have a tomorrow.

Some of you might be following the story of Nate, Tricia, and baby Gwyneth. Tricia has cystic fibrosis, was on the list for a double lung transplant to keep her alive, got pregnant, had to be taken off the list, and just gave birth last week (at 24 weeks) to 1 pound, 6 ounce Gwyneth Rose. Tricia’s in and out of consciousness, I believe. She hasn’t met her baby yet. And she’s back on the list for the transplant. Nate blogs multiple times a day about how Tricia and Gwyneth are doing. People are rallying all over the world to support them in prayer.

Cystic fibrosis affects about 30,000 people in the U.S. Back in the 50’s, if you had CF, you probably wouldn’t survive elementary school. Today, people with CF are living into their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. In 2006, the predicted median age of survival was 37.

Last year, a girl e-mailed me. She had read and liked Blushing. She told me about her own plans to publish a book about her experience with CF and a double lung transplant. Her name is Amber Metz, and she just sent me a copy of her book Breathtaking in the mail (you can buy it herself to read her story and support her ministry). I’m halfway through it, and it’s going to be hard to look at life the same way when I’m finished. And I’m glad–I don’t want to.

She fought a lung transplant for the longest time (finally got one at 19 or 20). Why would you fight something that could save your life? Well, maybe because a new set of lungs can be expected to last you a mere 8-10 years. And then what? I just can’t imagine being Tricia or Amber (or Dylan, the little boy of friends of ours) and knowing that unless a cure is found (and fast!), you’ll be lucky to live to see 35. Or even 30. I’m 32.

Of course, any one of us could die today. Hundreds of CFers will outlive their friends and family who die in car accidents and from cancer. My friend Tammy was diagnosed with breast cancer in February of 2004 and was in heaven in May. A few years ago, a former student of mine went in for routine knee surgery and died of complications a couple weeks later.

Seize the day isn’t a cliche. We’ve really got to do it. I think of Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses (the Hall of Faith in chapter 11, Trisha, Amber…), let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

How we seize the day will be different for all of us. Some days it sure won’t feel like we’re seizing it. I think we have to ask God each morning to show us how to live out carpe diem that day. Here’s what part of it looks like for me right now–getting rid of everything that entangles. Clearing out clutter–things that need managed and waste my valuable time trying to clean and organize it. Paring down to the bare essentials in clothes, dishes, books, etc.–eliminating hundreds of choices, saving time. Tasks completed (photos put in albums, etc) instead of hanging over me. I’m easily overwhelmed and can focus on important tasks at hand (mothering, writing, listening to people) when the mess around me is minimal.

Debts paid off. No worries each month, no monthly payments, no checks to write and mail. Freedom.

And I’m not just trying to be Thoreau. A huge part of that verse is about getting rid of sin. Clutter is easy. Sin’s a different story.

And it’s not all about getting rid of stuff. I also want to add things–more Bible reading, more prayer, more time with hubby and kids, more time sharing people’s burdens.

I want to find a way to live like I’ll only make it to 33 yet also live like I’ll be 103 someday and still breathing oxygen here on earth. It’s a great tension, a paradox.

I need to daily ask my Master Planner how each minute and hour of my life should go. I want to be free of sin and other entanglers, so I’ll be available for any surprises He brings into my day. I don’t want to fill it so full of my own plans that I can’t possibly squeeze His in.

I want to thank Him each day that I don’t suffer from a chronic illness. I’m not limited physically in what I can do. Just being sick for a couple weeks threw such a wrench into my plans.

I’m excited about this day. The writing is going well, and I really, truly feel His pleasure when I write. I love you guys and want to encourage you.

The sun is shining, and I need a shower. Happy Hump Day!

23 thoughts on “carpe diem

  1. kidzandK9z

    I have been following Nate and family as well. If you want to be further inspired, just know that as he goes through his situation he has been praying for me and my family too. He is truly amazing, and God is listening to him. M

  2. ClutzyButtercup

    I am so glad that our Marla is back…your post really made me think and confirmed so many of the things that God has been working in me.

    Concerning your friend with seizures…Tina spent quite a bit of time at Miami Children’s Hospital’s seizure unit when she was little and they have some of the best pediatric neurosurgeons who do brain removal for seizures.  I learned alot about this because we eventually removed Tina’s right frontal lobe to try and reduce her seizure activity.  Yes, there are some very serious possible side effects but the doctors really work hard to try and remove only what they absolutely have to.  They usually place a template right on the brain for 3-7 days and monitor the seizure activity that way before deciding what to do.  It is a “scary” process but quality of life and safety often make it the only option.  I will continue to pray for Barb and her family!

  3. angntug

    wow..thanks for that blog, its such an encouragement, and a new way of looking at STUFF. and stuff is all it is. why save something if all its doing is getting in the way? i may de-clutter my entire house tomorrow with this blog in mind. i really think you could title a new book on “how to de-clutter and live a life God intended for us”….and the ideas of how that you listed  on my xanga are the very things i am trying to do…dedicating at least the next 6 months to not buying anything (unless out of pure need) for myself….i have everything i need….getting rid of the sin of thinking i need stuff to be happy and joyful when in reality its fixing my eyes on the eternal…i am praying we both can  be free of debt and clutter to be free to do whatever it is that God calls us to 🙂

  4. beccajanern


    Your blog and the stories of those two young ladies affecting by CF have brought me to tears and prayer.  Here I am getting upset with my little girl for glaring at me and those people are fighting for their very lives.  I praise God for using you to speak to my heart today!

  5. Nixter77

    WOW – I loved this post. Thanks for the encouragement and the challenge to think through what God may want us to do each second, minute, hour, week, month, year…. Every moment, word, deed, thought all belong to him for his glory. Man, I wish I thought about Him every second, minute, week, month and year and what he wants for me. I am going to try starting right now, with the help of that master planner of course. Thanks for putting things into perspective my beautiful gifted and encouraging friend.

    Nixie = loves those verses in Hebrews 12, they were one of the memory verses I did when I first became a Christian.

    Love you!

  6. faithchick

    you should write books or something.

    seriously, though.  I am so with you.  My thoughts aren’t nearly as deep–but, you put into words what has been swirling in my mind for a few weeks now.  I’m over all of my stuff==materials and meaningless things that don’t make any kind of difference.  and i definitely want to change NOW before i teach my kids the wrong things.  I’m thankful for you. 🙂

  7. amber_nicole86

    It’s all for Jesus, my friend. Thank you for your support and sweet words. May we ALL walk by faith and not by sight! Beauty certainly does come from ashes, if we only allow our Savior to take our hand and put us through the refining fire.

    Everyone please continue to pray for Tricia and baby Gwen!


  8. terriwright

    CF is a largely-ignored disease. My OB-GYN has a new grandbaby with it. He spoke to me at length my last visit about how hard it is to see mothers complain because they’re disappointed in the sex of their unborn child, when his grandbaby fights to breathe.

    Not only must we ask God what He wants us to do, but WE MUST LISTEN FOR HIS ANSWER!!!!! And He doesn’t always call right back. We must wait with expectation and confidence for His answer. THAT’S hard. No one wants to wait…..

    Amen, Sweetie. Amen.

  9. Marketer319

    Encouraging, inspiring post, my friend!  Thanks, I really enjoyed it.  And I’m a big fan of the simplify ideas – I find myself doing the same when things start to feel so much.  Eliminate the excess, clear my line of vision to my Savior.

  10. ladymiss3739

    Thanks Marla…I appreciate what you shared and it’s making me think.  It’s always so refreshing to have reminders of what we take for granted and what God wants to do in our lives! 

  11. jennikim

    it so encourages me to know im not alone! your post yesterday could have been written from my heart and quite a bit of what you posted today was right here also! i just keep reminding myself, God put me here on earth in order to bring glory to Him! that needs to be my focus, and my thoughts and actions need to prove that! thanks for sharing.

  12. luvmynoah

    Awesome challenge Marla by you and from Amber.  I can’t wait to read her book!!  I know she’s let God lead her all the way in writing it and waiting on Him to publish it.  I appreciate all your thoughts and comments.  I seriously need some decluttering of life and heart as well!


  13. gsowell

    God laid an interest in CF on me at an early age…I’ll need to buy that book! Prayed for them now.

    I know sin and clutter are not the same thing, but they are. Clutter messes up my home, causing me to be unable to function correctly. Sin messes up God’s home in me, causing me to be unable to function correctly. I think I better go clean house. In all senses of the word.

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