Category Archives: Miscellaneous

No Where Else To Go

IMG_0234I’ve spent a lot of time home alone with Jon the last fifteen years. But this ‘home alone’ is entirely new territory. Mike’s physical presence missing in this house is tangible. Knowing he will never walk through the door again is haunting. It’s just me and Jon now.

I have no idea what our future looks like without Mike here. We depended on him greatly. He was fiercely loyal, responsible, a get it done kind of guy you could lean on. It’s hard getting up in the morning and going to bed at night without him. The days ahead seem long and dismal.

Everyone around me tells me I’m doing good. I don’t know what they are seeing. Nothing seems good or right in this. I don’t feel ‘good’. The initial shock and numbness of Mike’s sudden death is wearing off and the reality of doing life alone, without him in it, is settling in heavily. I wear it constantly, like a thick coat in a hot desert place.

Yet in my constant sorrow, there is no struggle to trust God. So much I don’t understand but I have not once blamed Him for any of it. There’s no where else to go but to Him, so why would I push Him away? Why would I turn my back on Him? And knowing Mike is with Him gives me hope.

I proclaim as did the disciple Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life” John 6:68.

All the hard places in my life have taught me God can be trusted. This one is the highest level of learning so far. Leaning. Reaching. Longing for my Heavenly Father to fill me up with more of Himself. There’s no where else to go. But to Him.

So here I am Lord. The sun has risen again and I’m living another day you’ve given without my husband at my side. I surrender it to you. I surrender me to you. I surrender Jon to you.

I have no answers. So much I don’t know.

But of this I am certain: TODAY we are Yours.

Oh No! Home Alone!

homealonemomJon’s all time favorite movie is “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”. Following close behind is “Home Alone”.

Our first adventure with “Home Alone” started in the mid-nineties when we rented a copy, sometime during Jon’s early teen years.  After watching the movie, with its many theft prevention traps, Jon took it upon himself to become our personal security system. We lived in a three story house in New Hampshire at the time and Mike had finished the basement as a playroom for the kids. In the back corner of the basement was a door we rarely used and it opened to stairs leading back up to ground level and into the garage.

I went to the basement to throw in a load of laundry one day and realized I needed to go out to the garage for something. Rather than go back upstairs and out the door off the kitchen, I opened the basement door and experienced a brief moment of horror as I watched the kid’s blue plastic snow sled, loaded with paint cans, come hurdling toward me. I screamed and slammed the door shut just in time to hear the thump, crash, bang of full and half-full gallon cans pile up against it on the other side.

Jon had placed the sled at the top of the stairs, lined it with the paint cans he’d found stored on shelves in the garage and tied the sled’s rope to the basement door knob. Although a great idea if an intruder was already in the basement, it wasn’t about to keep one out. But It was genius and imaginative really, with no thought of consequence to the people he lives with, which has always been one of Jon’s great deficits.

We went though a phase of trepidation and alertness, following this “Home Alone” viewing. We would find small toys lining the stairways, door knobs drenched in cooking oil, dish soap or shampoo, marbles and jacks on the floor in front of or behind closed doors, a half dozen eggs lined up on the garage door bracing; when the door went up eggs dropped to the floor or on the car. It was unnerving

We let Jon watch the movie again when he was in his late twenties thinking he may have matured enough to distinguish its fantasy from reality. The booby traps reappeared immediately.

The other night Jon’s caregiver told me Jon was reciting “Home Alone” movie lines to her. When I came out to the kitchen the following morning, all the Christmas balls had been removed from the mini-tree adorning the corner of the breakfast nook and were lined up under the window. There’s shampoo or something slippery coating his bathroom doorknob again, a curtain rod blocking the entrance to his room like a swinging railroad crossing gate on one end and dresser drawers blocking the door to his room on the other end.

Jon is not allowed to watch “Home Alone”. We don’t keep it in the house, but I’m thinking he’s found segments of it on YouTube and this is not good news. While the movie may be a classic family Christmas comedy, it’s off limits in our universe.

If you like us even a little bit, please don’t give him a copy for Christmas. And if you stop by, be vigilant. You could very well be Jon’s next “Home Alone” victim.

Why Walk When You Can Fly?

I was driving back up to Duvall Opportunity program yesterday to pick up Jon when a large flock of turkeys began crossing the road in front of me. As I slammed on my brakes, I very loudly reacted,
“You dumb birds! You could fly over the road instead of endangering your life and mine by walking across it. Why walk when you can fly?!”

Immediately Isaiah 40:31 came to me, They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they will mount up with wings like eagles…and then the thought, ‘Yes, Diane why walk when you can fly? You do it too you know.’


OK, Lord I get it! I need to wait on You to get the strength I need to soar over all the hard and dangerous places along life’s road. Thanks for the reminder. But I really don’t appreciate being called a turkey!! Just sayin’…

The Heart of God


What is God’s view of our fallen, messy world? 

I can answer this by telling you about Lisa, a woman with developmental delays who attends Joyful Noise, a local, weekly church service for adults with disabilities.Most of the time  Lisa is happy and smiling. She laughs hard and loud when something strikes her funny and she sings, claps and whoops it up without reservation during the worship portion of the gathering. I can’t help but smile whenever I’m around Lisa. 

During prayer time however, she takes on a whole new demeanor. As prayer requests are given for a host of needs, illness, death, injury, family problems and job loss, Lisa cries. She is deeply and genuinely touched by the suffering of others and as each prayer need is vocalized her tears flow harder and faster until someone else in the group is moved to bring her tissues and a comforting pat on the shoulder or back 
As I sat a few rows back and observed Lisa this past week, I have to admit my initial thought was a nonchalant,Lisa is crying again.

Immediately I had a God thought interrupt the deepest part of my being. 

“Lisa is My heart. Look at her and see Me. My heart also breaks as I cry for the suffering of My children and My creation.” 
These questions have been asked over and over throughout generations of humanity; is God interested in the condition of the world? Where is He when devastation, hunger, tragedy and evil overwhelm us? Does He even notice the pain, suffering, loss and evil we see and hear about every day? And if He does, why doesn’t He do something about it? 
He already did. He came as one of us, wrapped in a body of flesh, walked and lived among us, revealed the Father’s loving heart and then willingly died for every sad and sorry condition known to mankind. Jesus revealed this brokenness of heart when he looked out over Jerusalem and lamented. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were not willing!’ (Luke 13:34). 
Tragedy and suffering was not in God’s original plan. He created a perfect earth and a perfect human but left the door of free will open, fully understanding the risk that man could slip through that portal of choice and mess it all up. But He did it anyway, even with the knowledge we would break His heart, because He wanted someone to love and someone to love Him back. 
As we move into the Christmas season remember why Jesus came. He has a ‘Lisa’ heart and He cries for and cares about you.

Luke 4:18 (NKJV) “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,a]”>to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

Duck Outside the Box


From an early age we learn to associate, categorize and label, this is one of the ways we make sense of our world. A few of us become so fixated on organizing every nuance of life we become the obsessive Type A personality. I used to be one of those, more like a type A-plus. Everything had to be perfectly ordered in my world or I was seriously miserable, which meant I was miserable quite often. I liked things categorized and neatly put away in their place, not only  material objects but also beliefs, doctrines,  opinions, rules,  regulations and people. I was very proficient at labeling people, placing mental descriptions on them and filing them away in a preconceived category in my mind. 

I also became very accomplished at putting my ideas about the God I had learned of since childhood, in a box and nailing down the lid. Placing God in a box didn’t mean He was actually restricted to one or ever has been. My notions of Him were all in my mind.  But time and circumstances have a way of changing us and I have come to understand that God doesn’t do boxes and neither should I. 

During a day visiting our nearby Sea World, I was reminded how much God likes messing with me, popping the lid off my ‘boxes’ and stirring up my perfectly categorized little world. Just about the time I think I have Him figured out, He shows me that it is impossible for me to fully comprehend His ways. He doesn’t see like I do or think as I do. His ways are higher, wider and deeper…unlimited. While there is order in His creation, He left enough mystery to illustrate His divine sovereignty and mixed it all with a bit of humor. I picture Him chuckling as He presents a new clue just to keep me wondering.

 As Mike and I wandered leisurely through Sea World enjoying the beautiful landscape and many creatures, we stopped by a small water feature, a waterfall and pond built for ducks and other water loving birds. We leaned against the railing for a long time, absorbing the tranquility of the scene. The many varieties of ducks were happily swimming, quacking, wagging their tail feathers and preening themselves and other than differing feather colors and configurations they had much in common.

Now everyone knows all ducks quack. It’s one of the things we learn as a toddler playing with our first alphabet toy, ‘D is for duck, the duck says quack.’ Then there’s the idiom we hear, ‘If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it’s probably a duck’. But none of these labels applied to one duck that we didn’t see at first, only heard. 

“Who keeps whistling?” Mike asked, as he looked around. 

I visually swept the area around us. No one was in sight at the moment and I realized the sound was coming from behind a shrub next to the water’s edge. “It’s something over there,” and pointed toward the bush. Just as I did a bird walked into the open. He looked like a duck in some respects, web feet, beautiful feathers and a wide, rounded bill but had a long giraffe type neck and when he opened his mouth to quack, out came a loud sound similar to a person whistling to get someone’s attention.  We stared at him then looked at each other and laughed.  

“Can you believe that?” Mike said. “God makes all ducks to quack then He has to throw in one that whistles… amazing!”  

We found out that this species is called the (surprise!) Whistling Duck and comes from South America. Since then I’ve discovered the Barking Tree Frog. This guy doesn’t croak like other frogs, but makes the sound of a Pomeranian puppy high up in a tree in my Florida backyard, or how about the Upside Down Jellyfish who sits on its’ head on the ocean floor with tentacles in the air waiting for food to float by or the several varieties of Walking Fish whose fins act more like legs than rudders. Some people attribute these oddities to evolution; I prefer to accredit them to a divine Creator who enjoys throwing in a bit of surprise now and then just for fun. 

We have a need for God to be humanized, to fit into what we can understand, but by an act of faith, dismantling the limits we have constructed for Him allows us to be receptive to the unusual and the impossible.  The Spirit of God continually comes in many ways, even through nature (Romans 1:20), and attempts to take apart the confines of our heart so that all that is not truth and all that restricts us can be swept away.

I’m not a Type A-plus personality anymore. Over the years, I’ve been systematically and happily demoted to possibly a B-minus and what freedom comes in discovering it is God’s job to keep all my ducks in a row, not mine.  Whether they quack or whistle, I can trust Him to keep my world ordered, even when I don’t fully understand!

Romans 11:33 (NLT) Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!


Lessons From My Garden – Abiding

To my delight, my beans are still on the vine and are now bearing much fruit that we are enjoying everyday. I should learn a lesson from my beans, stay on the vine, stay stuck to Jesus and I will have everything I need for a life of fruitfulness.

We have a tendency to wander, searching everywhere else for the abundant life He promises. My beans aren’t looking in the garden box next door where the kale and lettuce is growing and saying, “It looks better over there, wish we were over there instead.” They are happy where they’re planted and growing toward the sun (Son :).

So help me Jesus, to abide in you always, no matter how tempting it looks elsewhere or what my current situation is, I want my life to be a fruitful branch in You.

John 15:5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

Thinking of You


Today I am thankful that the election madness is FINALLY over. Whether you are disappointed with the outcome or not, here’s some good news–God is thinking about you and me today. Can you believe that? The Creator and King of the Universe thinks about you — constantly!
The president of my country doesn’t even know my name and once I have cast my vote, I am just a ballot in a sea of humanity. But God knows my name and every little detail about me. He even knows how many hairs I swept from my bathroom floor this morning and cares to calculate what is left on my head (Matthew 10:30).
 Psalm 139:17-18. “How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand”
 Isaiah 49:14 “But (replace your name here) Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, and my Lord has forgotten me.’  Can a woman forget her nursing child, and not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, yet I will not forget you.  See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls (your dwelling, your life) are continually before Me.”
It is not possible for God to forget about you. The nail scars in Jesus’ hands are the permanent inscription of your name in His heart and mind. He can no more stop thinking about you than I can stop thinking about my son Jonathan, who needs me so much (even when he thinks he doesn’t :).
It would be good then for us to spend some time today thinking about Our Lord and Savior too. It could bring the peace of mind we so desperately need because “You [God] will keep him [me] in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” Isaiah 26:3

Be Thankful


“Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” Psalm 107:8,15,21. Did you know this exact same verse appears three times in the same chapter? I think someone is trying to tell us something.

We are full swing into November, the month we focus on thankfulness, so I am making an attempt to voice something I am thankful for everyday until Thanksgiving Day (on my Facebook status). Care to join me? Most of us have more to be thankful for than not.

Today I am thankful for hot, running water. As I think of our struggling neighbors in the northeast, I remember Florida’s hurricane summer of 2004 and being without power for two weeks in the middle of August. We had a well, so no electricity meant no power to the pump which resulted in no water to our house. It was 96 degrees every day with matching humidity and we were disgustingly hot and sweaty with no way to shower or bathe. I told my hubby, I can forgo many things but I never want to be without running water again.

Thank you Lord that I can turn on a faucet in my home and water flows, hot or cold, my choice. Such a blessing that I never want to take for granted!

Are We There Yet?

A while ago I traveled from Florida to the northeast and back and in doing so came to a conclusion about myself, I love going places but I hate getting there. This is something I’ve known for a while but was reluctant to admit. I am not a good traveler by plane or car. Airports and planes annoy me and long car trips bore me. Ironically, I find it almost impossible to sleep in a plane but after driving for more than an hour I’m nodding off. Because I’m prone to motion sickness, there isn’t much I can do in a car that requires having my focus off the horizon for more than a few minutes at a time.
 
As I sat in the airport, waiting to board the plane and contemplating this introspection, I questioned whether this fault could also apply to my life. Am I headed for the destination without enjoying the journey? Sometimes I feel like the little kid in the backseat, asking in continuous five minute intervals, “Are we there yet?” 
As a member of the Baby Boomer generation, I’ve lived in an era where we have fast and easy access to most anything we want, even if we can’t afford it. Discontent and impatience run deep through our core. We want ‘it’ now and when ‘it’ finally comes we are soon bored or unhappy again and move on to the next big event or thing we think will bring happiness and satisfaction. When we are five we can’t wait to be 6. When we’re 13 we can’t wait to be 18. When we’re 18 we can’t wait to be 21. When we’re 50 we want to be 21 again.  We can’t wait for: the weekend, vacation, graduation, freedom from our parents, the new car, the next paycheck, that promotion, the next bonus, a new house, time off, the kids to grow up, grandchildren, retirement, or to: find our soul mate, get married, have a baby, get that awesome job, have more money and on and on….We waste so much time thinking, hoping and longing for what hasn’t happen yet that we miss whole blocks of enjoyment in the now.  “If only….then things would be good.”  When life becomes a fast forward video flashing from highlight to highlight, we miss out on much of what gives it meaning today.
Philippians 3:12-14 tells me that Paul ‘wasn’t there yet’. He was still in travel mode, pressing on toward the destination. There is a race, a journey, an adventure, we are all on and according to Mr. Paul the goal is this: I want to know Him [Jesus]. I want to have the same power in my life that raised Jesus from the dead. I want to understand and have a share in His sufferings and be like Christ in His death (verse 10 NLV). I agree. I want the power, the understanding, the answers, the miracles, goose bumps and fun stuff of life… but… the suffering?! The word ‘press’ in this passage comes from two Greek verbs that mean to pursue and to persecute or suffer. Either Paul is crazy or he knows something I’m still in the process of figuring out.
 I ‘m convinced, since Paul writes a good portion of the New Testament from prison, he understands that we don’t arrive at our destination quickly or easily. It involves a lifetime of travel with many potholes and detours along the way. He tells the church in verse sixteen, so let us keep on obeying the same truth we have already been following. In other words just keep doing what you’ve been doing. Not very exciting is it? Continue on, plod on, one step at a time, one day at a time, pressing on and on and on…. 
I remember as a young wife and new mom, reading Proverbs 31, the one that lists the endless virtues of a Biblical superwoman. Incompetency and inadequacy overwhelmed me when comparing my efforts to hers. I mentioned my feelings to an older and wiser friend and her reply put me at ease. “Diane,” she said,” the Proverbs 31 woman didn’t do all those things in a day; she did them over a lifetime.” 

Life is a process and it is important to be fully aware and present in all of it, the highlights, the victories, the mundane and difficult; all of it matters. All of it is opportunity for change, growth and forward motion. Instead of rushing from one mountain top experience to the next I’m slowly discovering the value of the valley. 

When I travel now, I practice being patient and tolerant, mostly out of necessity and in spite of my dislike of security lines, airplanes or long, boring car rides. Being frustrated and miserable has no value for me or anyone around me and subtracts from the eventual pleasure and purpose of my destination. The same is true for this journey through life. With Jesus as my travel companion, I don’t need to keep asking, ‘’Are we there yet?’’ If I take His hand and keep pressing forward, He will see to it that I arrive at my proper destination, both on time and greatly improved over where our trip began.
Philippians 1:6 … being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.


Believe


 
A few days ago, Jonathan and I visited a group home in the area and talked for some time with the remarkable woman who started it for her own son who is developmentally disabled.  Jon was ready to move in. He had brought a bagful of personal items from home and found the only empty bedroom in the house, immediately claiming it by putting his things on the bed and shutting himself inside. 
These homes are costly to operate, about the price of private college tuition per person, per year. Florida, like most of our United States, is broke and budgets are frozen for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities. Jon has had eight cuts to his funding in the last two years and we’ve heard another big one is on the way next year. Presently, not one extra dollar of funding is available unless families are in crisis, which is defined by the state as parents or caregivers who are too sick or too dead to care for their loved one anymore.

The question that haunts every parent of a disabled child-what will happen to Jon when we are no longer here? The state will step in and place him, but we of course, won’t be here to have a say in where he is put.  Not all residential facilities are created equal and some are places you wouldn’t put your dog in, never mind your child. Some families have the means to private pay for long term care but for those of us who don’t; this is a problem that doesn’t go away and one that isn’t discussed at presidential debates or anyplace else. This dilemma sticks to the back of our mind like old gum underneath a table, especially as we and our child age.

So what to do?  We pray and trust that our God who created and gave us this person to love and care for will see to Jon’s every need, while we actively turn over each rock and knock on every hopeful door. It seems that we have hit one dead end after another and these situations severely test our faith. If we truly believe that as God’s people, our provision ultimately comes from Him, then we know He is able to fulfill the purpose and plan He has for Jonathan. God loves him far more than we do and has not forgotten about him or us, though at times my feelings and what I see with my earthly eyes try to convince me otherwise.
 Christ’s disciples once asked Him, “What are the works God requires of us?”Jesus told them that the work God requires is simply this – to believe (John 6:28-29). The practice of walking by faith rather than by what is seen (2 Corinthians 5:7) in front of us at the moment isn’t easy but it ultimately brings us to a place of peace and rest that nothing in this world can offer.
In the Gospel of Mark, chapter nine, a desperate Dad came to Jesus pleading,”Teacher…if You can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  
Jesus replied, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.”
Then the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
I identify with this guy. I am him. He is me. He is all of us. But the good news is this; Jesus is greater than my unbelief and He is greater than my problem!  As I wait for the impossible, my faith continues to grow in this difficult place. I’m learning how to wait, trust and believe.
I know from past experience that my faithful God will come through for Jon, for us. It may not happen exactly like I imagine or at the time I think is right but it will happen in His time, in  His way and you will hear me shouting from here when it finally does :)
Psalm 37:7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him…