A Perfect Imperfect Life

I celebrated another birthday last month. An odd thing about the years adding up, you realize how much you don’t know while also becoming wiser in the things you do know. Quite paradoxical, I’ve surmised. overflowSo on the wisdom theme; I’ve been thinking about clichés lately, both biblical and otherwise, those phrases we throw around as magic wand solutions to life. You know, stuff like “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” God won’t give you more than you can bear;” statements that help us feel better when we don’t know what else to say. I’ve been wondering where they came from and if they’re actually true.

Lately I’ve been contemplating this one: “Is your glass half full or half empty?” and have decided I don’t want my cup to be half anything. I want it filled to the brim and overflowing with thankfulness, grace, love, encouragement, joy, laughter and peace.

God has blessed me in many ways this past month, my glass is full and I want to acknowledge a few of these blessings with gratitude.

  • My husband took me out, brought me flowers and spoiled me. He spoils me all year actually and I’m awestruck that he has celebrated four decades of birthdays with me so far. I don’t deserve such love and loyalty.
  • We were able to visit our son, David, his wife, Clara and our cute, adorable, babbling, hug-able, my-heart-is-bursting-with-love, little grandson, Asa, for a long weekend. Someone please remove the stars from my eyes and forgive me for turning into the obnoxious grandmother I said I’d never be!
  • I have great friends! Three of them brought a surprise lunch to me on my birthday, cooked it in my kitchen and served me at my table. For someone who spends half her life in the kitchen (or so it seems) it doesn’t get much better than this. A few days ago, friends from Kissimmee drove up and stayed the day, brought gifts, food, laughter, a massage table (with essential oils! Ahhh!) and took me out for dinner before going home. And I had a night out with another beautiful friend this week who is rich in wisdom, overflows with love, makes me laugh way too much (if that’s possible), and challenges my heart and brain with stimulating conversation. God has surrounded me with the very best of His human creation.
  • I was able to get Jon to his dentist appointment on time (miracle!) and as he was waking up from sedation (our doesn’t want to be touched and doesn’t talk much son), held my hand and began quoting the 23rd Psalm and singing The Lord’s Prayer. God gives us deep glimpses into our Jon’s heart now and then, and reminds me that the heart of a person is more valuable than what is seen on the outside.
  • I’m not running marathons, but I’m more pain free and healthier than I’ve been since I was in my twenties, thanks to the knowledge I’ve gained in recent years about diet and nutrition. God has been faithful to lead me down a path of understanding my body as a temple of His Holy Spirit, and all this entails.

Life is far from perfect, there are constant obstacles and challenges but the longer I live, the more I’m aware of the perfection that exists in beautiful moments of time. Yet our selfish flesh loves to wallow in the mud of misery, negativity and pity. The enemy of our mind and soul delights in reminding us how hard our situation is, how difficult that person is, how we don’t have enough, how we aren’t enough and most of all that our God is too small! I can choose to remain mired in negatives and dwell on downers or allow Jesus to fill my cup to the brim with goodness, mercy and joy.

Remember, an overflowing cup is going to spill all over somebody. With every today, I want to live in a refreshing overflow of God’s presence, discovered in the richness of an imperfect life.

Perfection in imperfection, it’s the ultimate paradox lived in and through Christ.

John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

John 4:14 “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

Luke 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

Psalm 68″19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

 

On Whose Lives Matter

Jon SuaveThe topic of lives that matter has been at the forefront of news lately, so I might as well add another group to the fray, one that receives little to no headlines, attention or protests.

In 2013, Robert Saylor, a man with Down syndrome died of asphyxiation after three off duty policemen moonlighting as security guards, restrained him to the floor in handcuffs when he refused to leave a movie theater. His caregiver’s pleas for understanding were apparently disregarded when Robert wanted to see the movie again.

Last week, Arnaldo Rios Soto, a man with autism, watched police shoot his caregiver on a Miami street. Arnaldo had wandered from his group home carrying a favorite metal toy truck in his hand. Someone called the police when they saw Arnoldo, describing him as a man with a gun, acting erratically. His caregiver, Charles Kinsey, was trying to coax him out of the street to safety when police arrived. As Kinsey tried desperately to explain Arnaldo had autism and the object in his hand was a toy truck, an officer discharged his gun at Arnaldo shooting Kinsey instead.

Police officers have protocols to follow and tough judgment calls to make based on their best assessment of a situation and the developmentally disabled rarely fit the cooperation profile. During one of Jon’s wandering episodes he was handcuffed and held in the back of a police car when he failed to answer an officer’s questions or supply his name. To the untrained, the developmentally challenged can be perceived as dangerous and they experience more misunderstandings with police than any other population.*

This week in Tokyo, Japan, Satoshi Uematsu a former employee of a residential facility for the disabled, broke in during the night and stabbed nineteen sleeping people to death and wounded twenty five more. Earlier he had written a letter that stated, “all disabled should cease to exist,” and “the disabled can only create misery.”

The first people exterminated during Hitler’s ‘purify the race’ campaign were not Jews, but the disabled or feeble minded, as he chose to label them. Our Jon would have been the first to die, had we been alive in that decade. It seems no population is exempt from injustice and violence in a world where human hearts trade fear for discernment or choose evil over righteousness.

A recently released movie, “Me Before You,” based on the novel by the same name, is a fictional story of a handsome, athletic young man from a wealthy family who is spine injured in an accident and becomes a paraplegic. It’s meant to be a tear jerker romance, but, of course, I found myself watching this story through the filter of disability and its connection to the value of a human life. The final message of the movie was disappointing, (spoiler alert!) the life of a disabled person is not worth living so the young man travels to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide.

Significance is defined as the quality of being important, large enough to be noticed or have effect or influence, to be worthwhile, valued. Everyone longs to matter. WH Auden, a poet from the 1930’s wrote, “..for who can bear to feel himself forgotten.”

We celebrate celebrity, worship achievement, want to be a ‘somebody’ and leave our mark on the world; a bigger than life personal graffiti wall that boldly states “I was here!” Our culture glorifies importance based on many factors: success, fame, wealth and influence, to name a few.

Disability that achieves the earmarks of worldly success is glorified, but not all disabled persons contribute in ways others consider worthwhile. Does this make their lives less valuable? I don’t have answers to all the tough questions about disability in the world, but our answer to the question of value usually depends on our worldview.

This is mine: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..” (Genesis 1:26) and “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

If we believe God is the creator, author and beginning of all human existence, there can never be any doubt all lives matter. When Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:3), He didn’t offer any exceptions, in fact He stated no other commandment was greater. He gave the example of two people groups embroiled in a cold racist war with one another in the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), to illustrate what this love looks like.

Violence is a heart issue and will never be resolved until these words of Jesus are understood in the heart of every person and become standard practice.

If we are breathing God’s air on this planet He made, His life is in us, regardless of race, color, gender, preference, ability and age; we are His precious treasure. What others see when they look at us, our outward appearance, is only the packaging for the treasure inside and the wrapping, as beautiful as it might be, is never valued over the gift it holds.

We are significant because God thought we were worth creating. He paid for our life with His, and extends nail scared hands to all humanity as proof of His investment in us and as a personal guarantee that we are top priority.

Jon matters. You matter. I matter. God said so.

And that should be good enough for all of us.

Psalm 139:14-16 “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them..”

Psalm 22:10 “ I was placed in your care from birth. From my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

*”Disabled people are four to ten times more likely to face violent crimes than the general population, including police violence, sexual assault, hate crime, bullying, robbery, and murder. According to the recent Ruderman report on media portrayal of police violence towards people with disabilities, at least one third to one half of all police violence cases covered by the media involves the disability community. ~ “#BlackDisabledLivesMatter vs #AllDisabledLivesMatter” by Pharaoh Inkabuss, blackautist.tumblr.com~

Swimming Through The Nevers

Our son, David, texted me from Wisconsin, where he, Clara and little grandson, Asa, were at Clara’s parents for the week with the rest of her siblings, their spouses and kids for a family gathering.

asa cousinsDavid’s text said Asa was meeting his many cousins for the first time.

Without much thought my reply was, “That’s fun, because he’ll never have any on this side.”

“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that.” He responded.

It hadn’t hit me until this moment; David’s children will never have cousins from our side of the family.

It was another ‘never’ moment in our life with Jon and I was suddenly saddened with a loss I fought for several days.

Loss always brings varying levels of grief and comes in many forms, through death, rejection, betrayal, disappointment, regret, hijacked hope, disabled dreams or what could have been.

We swim in this deep ocean of life, joyfully splashing, serenely floating or treading water, when loss washes over us like an unexpected wave. We’re swept under by its powerful force, breathless and fearful, struggling to find air and a way to resurface.

I don’t know, maybe other parents of special needs kids do this better than me, but I still experience blindsided takeovers in my life with Jon. I’m buzzing along in our daily thing, trusting God, thankful for the blessings we have when it hits again, another huge wave, reminding me of more ‘nevers’.

You’d think after all these years I’d see it coming but they still catch me off guard. My heart sinks, panic and desperation threaten. I spit and sputter and cry out to God, once again, asking to be pulled from the depths of despondency.

And He does. He always does. He reminds me He understands my mother’s heart. He assures me He is there to bring me through. And He keeps His promises. When the wave subsides I rise again and get back to the good in life, looking on the bright side with a completely full, instead of half empty cup, counting my blessings instead of my lack.

Asa won’t have cousins here it’s true, but he will have grandparents who love him. And because he has Uncle Jon in his life he will grow, as did his father, to be kinder, gentler, more compassionate and more accepting of other’s differences. Our grandson will be shaped and influenced by the unique dynamic of our family in ways others cannot offer.

Each of us have opportunities to dwell on the can’t, the won’t and the never. Yours are probably different than mine but we all have them. It’s human to be pulled under the waves of despair at times but it’s NEVER okay to stay there.  Drowning is certainly an option, but not a good one.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, says there’s a season for everything, so we do our grieving, kicking and flailing, then grasp the hand God extends beneath the turbulent waters of living, resurface, breathe and move on.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you..” Isaiah 43:1-2.

Here’s one ‘never’ I can rejoice in. There’s never a need to drown in despair! My God possesses perfect life guarding skills. He will always carry me back to solid ground.

 

Psalm 40:2 “He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”

Psalm 42:11 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven..”

A Fathers Influence

The prevailing statement in the biblical records of the kings of Israel and Judah in the books of Jon and Mick copy1st and 2nd Kings is this, “and ______ became king. He did evil/good in the sight of the Lord as did his father.”

A dad present, absent, involved, indifferent or even unknown will shape the emotional and spiritual health, values and character of his child well into adulthood.

Fathers matter. A great deal.

Though the reward for years of teaching, training, playing, listening, loving, providing and sacrifice, may not be obvious at this moment, plod on.

Sometimes you are weary, flawed, imperfect, but don’t give up. Be your kid’s dad to the best of your ability and in the grace and strength of your Heavenly Father.

Mick and Dave copyEventually the fruit of your influence will ripen to maturity and you will be blessed with a rich harvest. You will leave a legacy of good for the next generation.

Thanks Dads, for all you do for your children, for your commitment to your family.

You ARE making a difference.

Happy Father’s Day!

Asa FaceTime with Mick                                                         Grandson Asa talking to Grampa!

 

 

Will the Jon Moms Please Stand Up

This year, as the calendar would have it, I experience Jon’s birthday and Mother’s Day just a few days apart.

Jon’s birthday never goes as (we) planned. We wanted to take him out, he didn’t want to go. We had cake, balloons and gifts ready at 11am, he stayed in his room until 7:30 pm. He wouldn’t let us sing “Happy Birthday” to him, he wanted to play “Bad Moon Rising” on YouTube instead (??!!).Jon 36 birthday

The candles had to burn all the way down to wax craters inside the top of the cake before he’d blow them out. Mike waited up until 11:30 for gift opening to commence and couldn’t last any longer. He went to bed and gifts were finally completed at 12:45 am, with me falling asleep on the sofa. Jon was just getting started.

He’s thirty-six now. I’m not really ‘raising’ him anymore. Those days are over and he sorta’ does what he wants around here. But I’m not really done parenting him either or maybe it’s more of an advisory enforcer role, reminding him to shower, shave, take his meds, not wander away and to quit hijacking kitchen utensils he doesn’t use and bills from the desk drawer, he’ll never pay.

I drag him to doctor and dentist appointments and talk him into getting a haircut whenever he starts getting the caveman look.

We’re caught in a weird time warp somewhere between unreasonable toddler, love-able kid,  ornery teenager and grumpy old man. It all depends on the day or maybe the hour. There’s no category for that I suppose.

Then I went to an awesome mother’s lunch yesterday and it got me wondering what Mom category I fit into. The mom with the most kids, the most grandkids, the most great-grands, the oldest, the youngest, the newest, the singles and the all-done-empty-nesters were acknowledged and asked to stand.

Jon Me IHOP 11-2015I was confused. I’m sorta’ that one, but not really. I’m half the other one but not sure if half counts. So I stayed seated. Not that it matters much. Standing or sitting, I’m still two guy’s mom and happy for it.

I realize Mother’s Day isn’t perfect for some of us. Some have loss, rebellion, prison, prodigal, estrangement, medically fragile and unusual when it comes to kids and some who want children never have them. Life throws reality at us and we mourn, cry, kick and scream for a while then get up and keep going.

God keeps us strong in all of it. We are HIS daughters, whether we have twenty kids or none, typical kids or not. He doesn’t categorize or compare. We are just loved, valued and precious to Him.

So here’s a shout out to all God’s daughters. Whatever earth bound category you fall into (or not) may you know He delights in YOU today.

YOU are the blessed of the Lord.

YOU are the Apple of His Eye.

And YOU are His favorite (after me of course :).

Happy Mother’s Day!

Psalm 115:14-15 “May the Lord continue to bless you and your children. You will be blessed by the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.”

Psalm 17:8 “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.”

Zephaniah 3:17 “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you..”

 

Thanks For Loving Me

Jon was in his room, Mike had gone to bed and the house was quiet. I was in the family room reading a book when my phone’s text notification sounded.

I finished the paragraph I was reading, swiped the lock screen off and hit the message icon.

This text popped up:

??????????

I read it, re-read it. And read it again.

I don’t know what prompted my son to send this or what he was doing when he wrote it.  He’s a new father who is discovering how much a parent loves a child and what that entails.

I also don’t remember reading anything that touches my heart the way this simple, random text does.

The years of pouring into, providing for, caring, loving, hugging, teaching, disciplining, laughing with, crying over, worrying about, not giving in or up; all those hours invested in David, summed up in one eight word sentence.

There are no words to describe the fulfillment and joy it brings.

Those raised in dysfunction, abuse, conflict, abandonment, addiction, fear, neglect, anger or the myriad of other human frailties that cause physical and emotional scars, can change the trajectory for your children.

As imperfect parents we can still decide That stops here, whatever the That is, we can choose to not pass it on to another generation. By God’s power and strength we can be the parent our child needs us to be.

We can change. Be different. Make a difference. Forge a new family legacy constructed of grace, mercy, endurance, and forgiveness.

God set the example. He too says, “Thank you for loving Me like I love my Son.” He passed His love on by sending Jesus as the perfect sacrifice for us, and now “We love Him because He first loved us” (John 4:19).

dave asaDavid, now you understand how much you are loved by us and as a father, I hope you have a greater awareness of how much you are unconditionally loved by your Heavenly Dad. It’s your turn to pay that love forward. All the accolades, money and material goods in the world will never take the place of a love heritage passed to a new generation.

I pray, some quiet evening, years from now, when your season of parenting is over and your children are grown and gone, you receive a text like this one.

This one line text message is what parenting is all about.

This is a no regrets moment.

“Thanks for loving me so I can love!” This is the ultimate reward.

Psalm 127:3-5. “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.”

Isaiah 54:13 “All your children will be taught by the Lord and great will be the peace of your children.”

Proverbs 17:6 “Grandchildren are the crown of grandparents and parents are the glory of their children.”

Parent Guilt

I rarely remember my dreams, but the one I have of my son, Jon, is always the same. He is lost.

He might be any age and in different surroundings but he is always lost. And I am always looking for him. And I can never find him. And no one around me cares enough to help me look.

I hate this dream. I hate the panic and the helplessness of it. I hate that after thirty six years I still have it.

I’ve come to believe this dream says a lot more about me than it does my son. Even though I have come to accept and love Jon for who he is, I think there is still a deep inside part of me that struggles with how this turned out. I had expectations. I wanted different. I wanted more.

chaos and peaceI saw the same guilt-panic in my son and daughter-in-law while visiting them recently. Their newborn son cries, a lot. Better described, he screams. He balls up his little fists, kicks his legs, flails his cute little arms, turns deep shades of red and wails himself inconsolable.

And they feel guilty. Why isn’t he happy? What are we doing wrong? This isn’t supposed to be like this.

Parenting is indescribably wonderful and can also be overwhelmingly scary. Kids don’t come with a step one, step two, step three, instruction manual like those for assembling a boxed set piece of furniture. Don’t we wish it was that easy?

Their manual is more like the one I recently received with a new small appliance I purchased, “Caution! Do not….,” a list of warnings; I had to figure out how to actually use the thing on my own. Is it this button or this one? Does it take a battery or not? Hmmm….

All parents deal with some level of guilt. It comes with the job. Most of us don’t know what we’re doing when we start and those who think they do soon find out it’s SO different when the kid is yours. It sounds good in the parenting book we read and the advice of a zillion experts we’ve heard, but now that you’re up to your eyebrows in parenting, it’s not that simple.

All of us feel, at some time in the process, “I don’t know what to do. I could have done more. I could have tried harder. I could have been better at that. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have realized. I am failing/have failed my child.”

Parent guilt can worry about the infant who won’t stop crying, worry about the teen who won’t listen anymore and worry about the adult who is making wrong choices.

Parent guilt can exhaust itself on extra activities, buys kids stuff they don’t need and avoid disciplining a child who is desperate for it.

Parent guilt sees failure rather than success. It sees the problem instead of solutions. It keeps our mind in a state of unrest rather than peace.

I believe parents of children with special needs battle the guilt demon more than most. I hear it in the Facebook posts, read it in their blogs and see it in their eyes. We never feel we do/did enough. Maybe the next treatment, medication, behavior plan, professional or therapy will make a difference. We are a driven, guilt-laden bunch, always looking for another help, another hope, and another solution.

The guilt twinge is real when I read about the person with Down syndrome who is getting married, or the one modeling on New York runways, or the one who owns a restaurant, or how about the guy with autism working for Microsoft? I have to remind myself that these are often the exception not the rule.

On our best day we have no guarantee how our kids will turn out but they basically need what all of us long for: love, acceptance, boundaries, food, shelter and most of all, God. The greatest thing we can ever do for our child is help them understand the God shaped hole inside them, only their Creator’s love can fill.

The other best thing we can do is say I’m sorry when we mess up and forgive ourselves for being less than perfect.

In spite of us, and maybe because of us, our children are quite resilient and they don’t need perfect parents. What they need is forgiving and forgiven parents.

Loose the guilt. It’s a parenting accessory neither we nor our kids need.

Love and forgiveness always win and inevitably chase the guilt demons far away.

 
1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love but perfect love drives out fear..”

Romans 8:1 “So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free..”

Psalm 127:3 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.”

The Reward of Staying

I know someone who never stayed – for anything – marriages, children, jobs, family, friends.

Offended? Leave. Conflict? Forget it. Difficulty? Run.

Everytime.

As soon as the next bump in the road arose (small, medium, large, mountains, molehills, anthills) it was time to run again.

And again. And again. Burning every bridge until nothing was left.

Then the Golden Years arrived. A time to reap the benefits of staying: Children. Grandchildren. Retirement. Relationships. Friendships. Money saved. Home owned. Travel. Wisdom. Influence. Respect.

But there was nothing. Absolutely nothing but sad alone-ness, with barely enough to sustain an existence. Life’s garden had become a barren weed patch with no harvest in sight.barren

Though it’s never too late to start over, the rewards of staying aren’t instant. They build slowly and mundanely over time, growing with consistency, routine, responsibility, trust, effort, plodding, endurance, work, sacrifice, discipline, selflessness.

Days turn into seasons. Seasons into years. Years into decades. Decades into a lifetime.

Of course, there are certain circumstances where staying isn’t wise and it’s beneficial to move on, but staying can never be based on feelings. It’s a choice and often an act of love, paying great dividends, offering stability and bringing reward. Eventually.

Jesus, on the night of His arrest, told His friend Peter, “I could call on my Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to help me now. But how would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say this must happen?” (Matthew 26:53-54)

He stayed all the way to brutal death on a cross, all the way to, “It is finished.”

He chose to endure the cross “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). What was that joy? I believe it was restoring relationship with Me and You! He stayed for Us!

In the short term, cut and run may look easier, but as a habit, it perpetuates an accumulation of poor decisions. The decisions of today become tomorrow’s reality.

Before quitting, be honest about the possible long term consequences. Take time to think and pray about the influence of this decision on tomorrow and all the tomorrows after.

Never underestimate the power of staying.

Plod on.

Don’t give in.

Don’t give up.

Stick it out.

Keep the faith.

Stay the course.

Sow the harvest.

Enjoy the journey.

And EVENTUALLY..

..reap the rewards.

 

 

“Success is measured, not by how we start, but by how we finish.” ~ Mike Connis

“Let us not get tired of doing good, because in time we’ll have a harvest if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

“And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom.” Luke 9:62

“I press on toward the goal..” Philippians 3:14

“The path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full light of day.” Proverbs 4:18

“Matthew 7:24-25 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”

Grandmother Faith

Asa 2-12-2016 One week ago our grandson, Asa Connis, pushed his way into the world and added a brand new dimension to life. After sixty years, I’ve finally joined the Grandmother Club and I’m still trying to understand the overwhelming love I feel for this tiny guy when I haven’t met him yet.

According to Google maps he is five hundred and seventy two miles away from me, but the evidence of his awaited arrival, streams daily onto my iPhone screen, giving me faith to believe he finally exists and hope for the day I will soon meet him.

I’ve received a sound clip of his first cries and a picture of him in his first hour. I can scroll through my phone for more pictures; him bundled up in his car seat, sleeping in little footie pajamas, wearing the little hat we bought him, curled up in a classic fetal position in his newborn diaper, and a heart melting video of him sporting hiccups on his dad’s lap.

We are accumulating a massive amount of evidence Asa has arrived, in texts, updates and FaceTime calls. Though I have not felt the weight of him in my arms or seen his adorable little face with my own eyes, I know my grandson is here.

Because we live in a physical reality, we often have trouble believing something not yet seen or experienced. Faith is defined as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 1:6). Some believe if God can’t be seen He doesn’t exist, yet place great faith in what can be physically seen, but not fully trusted.

We trust the driver coming toward us in the other lane will stay there, the airplane will remain in the sky and take us safely to our destination, the grocery store will have needed food when we pull in the parking lot, and our paycheck will arrive at the end of the week.

We trust the pill the doctor gave us will make us better, the water coming out of our faucet is safe to drink, the repairman will show up to fix our hot water tank and the roof overhead will remain intact during the next storm.

We trust in so many temporary things, but fail to trust our Creator and Eternal God.

There are those who sincerely set out to disprove the existence of God but found it impossible to do so. Lee Strobel, in his book, “The Case For Christ,” and Josh McDowell, in his book, “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” both explain how extensive research to disprove the reality of God led to their transformation from atheist to believer. Unlike these men, though I’ve never seen God with my own eyes, I’ve believed in Him most of life.

There is overwhelming historical proof He came to Earth through His son Jesus, and for those with open hearts, evidence He exists is all around us. For me, He shows up in numerous ways everyday; in the intricate designs of nature, in the laughter of a friend, in the quiet thoughts and impressions downloaded into my heart and mind, in His written Word gifted to us as a life manual, and in the miracle of my precious new grandson.

Jesus said to His disciple Thomas, “Because you have seen me, you believe. Blessed are those who have not seen and still believe” (John 20:29). If seeing is the only way to believe, then true faith is absent and without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). If you love someone you want to make them happy and steadfast faith makes God happy.

 
In this life I see in part, the things of Heaven and Eternity are obscured, as if I’m looking through a distorted mirror. This often creates a faith crisis. 1 Corinthians 13:12 tells me, “for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”

Bottom line, God simply desires a life of total trust from me, even and especially when, I can’t see clearly. My trust demonstrates I understand how much He loves me and how He has my best interest in mind. Always.

God has set a date (Psalm 139:16) when I’ll leave the boundaries of this earth and go home to Him. I will finally see my Savior face to face (John 3:2) and the faith, I’ve struggled to hold onto through all the storms of life, will finally become sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

For now, I’m seeing my grandson through a glass screen, but a trip is planned and soon I will see him face to face. I’m excited.

So I press on, looking forward to the time I see little Asa and eventually, one day, my Heavenly Father..

..with unwavering Grandmother faith.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5
“We shall behold Him
O yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face in all of His glory
We shall behold Him
Yes, we shall behold Him
Face to face
Our Savior and Lord..”
~”We Shall Behold Him,” Dottie Rambo~

“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ;
One look at his dear face, all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.”
~ Hymn, “When We See Christ,” Esther Kerr Rusthoi, 1941~

The Post No One Wants To Read

For years, after a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at the ripe old age of twenty six, I asked, begged, pleaded and tried to brownie-point my way into God’s good graces for a healing miracle. I doubt there’s ever been a call for healing or an offer of prayer in my life I haven’t responded to.

I’ve been prayed for, in the past thirty plus years, more times then I’ll ever remember and I still believe and know that I know that I know, God can and does miraculously heal! He can heal me right now while I’m typing this with two crooked fingers. No one knows how to make the crooked straight like my Heavenly Father.

But He hasn’t. Not yet anyway.

One day, I asked Him if he was tired of me asking for healing – again! I was tired of begging and told Him so. Seems as if most of my prayers were all about me and honestly, I was tired of me.

The thought immediately downloaded into my heart and mind. “Don’t you know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit?”

For several days, I went to bed and got up in the morning with this question stalking me. I couldn’t shake it.

“OK, God. Yeah, I know that. I’ve read it a zillion times. So what are you trying to say?”

I went and looked up 1Corinthians 6:19. “Do you not know that YOUR BODY is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who LIVES IN YOU and was GIVEN BY GOD? You do not belong to yourself.”

“You do not belong to yourself.” The answer came in the gentlest way. “I could heal you today but you will be sick again in six months. You are not giving your body what I designed for optimal health. You are not fueling it properly.”

I was stunned. After years of expecting an instant fix, this was not what I had in mind. After all I had cut my teeth on living a faith-filled, easy believe-ism, ‘God said it and He’ll do it’, name it and claim it, speak it and see it Christianity, which included the doctrine of healing.

In the meantime, my ‘temple’ was systematically falling apart and in a severe state of disrepair.

I had a big decision to make; keep doing what I’d been doing and stay sick or make a drastic change and get better. I was set on a path of discovering what God’s Health Plan is and has always been for the human body, the temple He resides in, and I had a lot of work to do.

I could write a book about my health journey from that day until now but I will just say, life has changed for this gal. I’ve learned and am still learning much; reading, researching, praying and asking for discernment and wisdom.books

In this internet age there’s plenty of information out there, some of it misleading, but I’m encouraged to ask for wisdom from my Father (James 1:5). Who else knows better what my body needs to operate optimally but the one who made it? I don’t examine anything without first asking God to show me what I should accept or disregard. He’s been my best teacher.

Though still limited by severe joint damage, I’ve been off all medications for over ten years. Four years ago when I started having reoccurring outbreaks of urticaria hives, I kicked it up a few notches and went for a ninety percent plant based plate. The hives return only when I stray too far from this plan.

I’m now convinced many of the chronic diseases we deal with come from our SAD (Standard American Diet) way of eating. If I know I can’t fuel my car on anything but what it was designed for, gas and oil, why do I think I can continue to pack my body full of non-nutrient, processed, chemically laden, hormone and antibiotic induced meat, packaged food and obsessive sugars, stuff it doesn’t recognize as food or fuel, without eventually suffering a breakdown.

We are well fed, but not well nourished. We are stuffed, but not full of life giving, cell restoring nutrients. Yep, it’s certainly easier to microwave a hot dog and grab a cupcake then cut up veggies. It’s more fun to suck down a couple Diet Cokes then drink a glass of water with a lemon wedge floating in it.

But I am living proof that a lifetime of hot dogs, soda and their nutrient deficient relatives don’t make a body happy in the long term. I’m also living proof that reversing this trend keeps every cell inside me smiling and thankful. As my eating choices improve, I can almost hear them screaming to each other in pure exhilaration, “Hallelujah! She’s finally figuring it out!!”

Eating well is mostly common sense and I find many people instinctively know what they should and shouldn’t be swallowing. Following a healthy lifestyle is difficult, when tantalizing junk food constantly surrounds and entices us, but as my always wise husband says, “Everything that is worth it will probably be hard.”

Since my body ultimately belongs to God, I believe He wants my temple, the place where He resides, to be full of health and vitality more than I do. He says I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-16). He says this body He made for me is a miracle. I need to be a good manager of this miracle, which includes what I put in my mouth.

Healing can come in ways we don’t expect and good health starts with me. It begins in my grocery cart, in my kitchen, on my plate, with my fork and with grace and strength for every new day.

God and I will do this.

Together.

Genesis 1: 29-30 “ Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.”

“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food” ~ Hippocrates
”The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~ Thomas A Edison

“Sickness is the vengeance of nature for the violation of her laws.” ~ Charles Simmons