Tag Archives: trust

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..”

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~

Jon’s Octopus

Basic CMYKJon was fourteen years old when we visited Catalina Island off the coast of California. Our friends, Earl and Pat, had moved to the island from Maine when Earl took the job of maintenance overseer for a large girl scout camp located there.

Summers at the beachfront camp were noisy and chaotic, with hundreds of girls and camp counselors arriving constantly in one to two week shifts. But winters were long, quiet and lonely; a good time to visit, and since we were homeschooling, the boys and I planned a six week stay during the winter of 1994.

From the day he arrived, Jon decided Earl (or Pa, as the boys and every other ‘grandchild’, related or not, called him) was going to take him fishing in the ocean.

“And I’m going to catch an octopus,” he declared to all of us.

“It’s really hard to catch an octopus Jon,” Pa told him, “they live way, way down, too deep in the water to get on your hook.”

But every day Jon kept insisting and reminding us, as soon as Pa took him fishing, he was going to catch an octopus.

We were there several weeks before Earl finally had a free day for fishing. They packed a lunch and eagerly climbed into the boat along with Jon’s younger brother, David, and a neighbor, Ken, the caretaker of the yacht club located a few miles down the beach.

Jon told Pa and Ken as they left the shore, “I’m going to catch an octopus now.” Ken replied with the same explanation Pa had given.

Everyone was trying to lessen the disappointment that was coming, in spite of Jon’s insistence.

They left in the morning and in late afternoon I heard Jon running up the beach to the house shouting, “Mom, Mom, I caught an octopus! Mom! I caught an octopus!”

I went outside to meet him. He was grinning from ear to ear. Jon has always had a huge and slightly quirky imagination so I figured he was fantasizing in his head again, pretending he had caught one because it’s what he’d wanted so much.

Earl met me halfway to the dock with a giant smile on his face. “Well, you’re never going to believe it, I still can’t, but Jon caught an octopus today.”

“You’re kidding.” I was stunned and delighted all at the same time. “I thought you said it was impossible?”

“I’ve been fishing in the ocean for years and never have I or anyone I know, caught an octopus. “ Earl looked as amazed as I felt.

Turns out they were a few miles off shore when Jon felt a tug on his line. He reeled it in and to everyone’s (but his) surprise there was a baby octopus clinging to the string.

Jon got his octopus!

That was twenty one years ago.

And I’ve never forgotten it.

When I read, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7), or “Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4), I’m reminded of a God who cares enough about a fourteen year old special needs kid to send a baby octopus from the depths of the ocean to his fishing line.

In the hard times, circumstances and struggles of life, when you feel as if God isn’t listening and He doesn’t care about you or the details of your situation…

..remember Jon and his octopus.

God knows.

He sees.

He understands.

He cares.

Keep believing for the impossible.

Keep trusting.

You never know what could be surfacing from the depths of despair, just for you.

The Blame Game – My Special Education, Lesson #12

Jon Me IHOP 11-2015It’s no one’s fault,” the doctor in my hospital room said, the morning after our son was born. “These things just happen sometimes.”

Our newborn baby had Down syndrome and as the doctor began to explain the possible long term outcomes for him and our family, my heart raced in panic. My mind filled with a cloud of fear.

“NO! This can’t be happening! Not to my baby! Not to me! Not to us!”

Isn’t that how it goes when we’re faced with circumstances beyond our control? When our carefully thought out plans are suddenly ambushed?

We’re cruising through life, a few bumps and glitches here and there, but nothing we can’t handle. Then suddenly..Wham!!

We find, not just the proverbial rug pulled out from under us, but the floor too. The ground has just opened up and swallowed us whole!

And when we’re done free-falling, we have to find a reason. The ‘Why’ must be answered. It has to be SomeOne’s or SomeThing’s fault.

A friend sent me a card once that read, “Life is all about how you handle Plan B.”

Plan A is what you want. Plan B is what you get and I wasn’t dealing well at all, with what I got.

I fell into absolute despair trying to figure out what I did to cause my child’s disability. For months it filled every waking moment and many sleepless nights. Those pesky, “I should have” and “I shouldn’t have” scenarios, plagued my thoughts constantly.

There was plenty of help in the guilt department from well meaning folks. Everything from, “You should of eaten more potatoes while you were pregnant,” (no kidding) to “You must have bad sin hiding someplace in your life for God to punish you like this.”

Apparently there was a rash of babies born with Down syndrome at the time. In an attempt to find a common denominator (or something to blame) the Department of Health and Human Services for the State of New York called when Jon was about a month old to ask if they could survey me.

“Do you live near power lines? How long have you lived there?”
“Have you ever taken drugs? Did you take drugs while pregnant?”
“How often do you drink alcohol? Never? Occasionally? Once a week? Everyday?”
“What kind of make up do you wear? What brand of laundry detergent do you use?”

After an hour long barrage of questions, I hung up the phone more convinced than ever I was the cause of my son’s diagnosis.

When I finally gave up blaming myself I turned my angst on God. He could have prevented this but didn’t. It was His fault and I was mad. What kind of God did I believe in anyway? An overwhelmingly devastating question for me, since we were fresh out of Bible college and my husband was just beginning a lifetime of pastoral ministry.

Though it seemed artificial to be so angry at God when my husband was a pastor, and I, the pastor’s wife, anger was all that made sense at the time. It was the easiest life raft to cling to.

We see it in the daily news continuously. A crisis occurs, a shooting, tornado, flood, fire, mudslide, plane crash, death, violence or destruction. The talking heads start in, opinion-ating, analyzing, philosophizing and finally conclude with, “Something must be done to make sure this never happens again.”

Either people want to believe they have this much power, this much control, or placing blame is just a coping mechanism for the unanswerable and unexplained.

Sometimes there is someone to blame but more often not. Sometimes stuff just happens because we live on a fallen, broken and sin cursed planet.

Finding possible solutions is useful but the blame game often goes around in a monotonous circle until we are divided and estranged, from each other and from our only source of hope. God.

It seems God is blamed for most everything that goes wrong, by people who barely acknowledge His existence the rest of the time or bother to thank Him for any of the good and right in life.

In his book, Reframe. From the God We’ve Made to the God With Us, Brian Hardin said it this way: “We don’t usually start with God, but if we can’t find an answer we often end up there. God has become the cosmic trash heap for all humankind’s unexplainable suffering. He’s apparently got His hands in everything from tornadoes to human trafficking. From cancer to the reason the car wouldn’t start this morning. And this is the God we’re supposed to be in a relationship with?”

If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: I can’t control everything that happens to me, to those I care about or to the world at large. And I don’t have to figure everything out, don’t have to know all the answers.

I only have to admit and own what I’m responsible for and trust my Heavenly Daddy has a greater plan and purpose than I can see.

He will bring justice in His time. He will make everything right in His way and acceptance of this truth, deep in my heart and soul, not just my head, brings peace in a frenzied world.

And for all my initial distress, despair, crying, sighing, shouting and blaming, my son turned out to be a blessing, a unique treasure God values and loves. Someone who is always teaching me the art of selflessness, drawing me closer to the heart of my Father.

I eventually laid it down, the miserable scrutinizing, finger pointing and fretting over who or what was at fault. It was exhausting and served no purpose. Blaming drained life from me and returned nothing.

The blame game was over and I lost.

But I’m no longer a sore looser, just a grateful one.

 
Job 40:1-5 The Lord said to Job: “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” Then Job answered the Lord: “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.”

Romans 9:20 “Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?”

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Acceptance – My Special Education, Lesson #11

SanJuan from the fortI was packing for a week long cruise, the first real vacation Mike and I have had together in fifteen years. It was a celebration of forty years of marriage and a long overdue get away.

Our good friends had made time in their busy schedule to stay with Jon and our youngest son and his wife were joining us. Though we were excitedly looking forward to this time together, it was another family event Jon would miss and I was, again, contending with guilt attacks and assaults of sadness.

I sent my conflicting emotions to the back room of my mind and updated the long list of Jon care instructions, made sure his prescriptions were filled, printed out a medical authorization letter and remembered to leave his insurance and ID card and keys to all the places we keep Jon-locked.

After boarding the ship I knew bringing him would have been a disaster. Too many people, long lines, moments of hurrying then waiting, decks that didn’t go all the way through the length of the ship causing creative strategies to find our way around, debarking for ports and making spontaneous plans and last minute decisions for the day then hurrying back to the ship on time so it didn’t leave without us.

Transitions. Transitions. More transitions. Something Jon never does well.

There were other moments when we thought of him. “Jon would love this,” we said. The never ending buffet, the puffer fish shaped cup wheeled by on a drink cart, the magician at our dinner table doing coin tricks, the casino and it’s never ending spread of pricey “video games”, a giant floating hotel to wander through and him curiously and slowly poking in every corner, nook and cranny.

As we sat together at dinner each evening there was contentment in this extraordinary setting. Even our little grandson was along, growing inside the swelling womb of my daughter-in-law. But one of us was missing. My family was incomplete.

There are random moments in life that trigger twinges of loss, a mourning for what should, but never will be. We are forever fighting enemies of guilt, regret and loss and constantly rising to new levels of acceptance.

Acceptance is defined as an assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a situation without attempting to protest or change it. It is derived from a Latin word meaning “to find rest in.”

Some things we can’t control or change, we can only accept, but it’s often difficult to find a place of rest in circumstances beyond us. Living out of the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if onlys’ is pure misery and leaning into the, “Are you kidding me? I’m supposed ‘to find rest in’ this!” is hard work, but peace can only come with relaxing into the ‘what is’.

Even when life is great, it’s still not perfect. On this cruise, we had to circumvent a hurricane and miss the most anticipated stop of the trip. While sailing on the far reaching edge of the storm, walking turned into a balancing act and we were woken in the night by rocking, rattling and clicking sounds and drawers, in our room, sliding open then thumping shut as soon as sleep came again. I was nearly attacked by a banana loving iguana on a Saint Thomas beach and every day was a bad hair day.

But it was easy to overlook these uncontrollable situations in the anticipation and excitement of another sunrise and new adventures.

Life sails on like a cruise. We board at birth and debark when taking our final breath. There are stops along the way, new places to explore, ports to experience. Some we appreciate, others not so much. Some we never wish to see again and others we hope for, but never experience when an unexpected storm changes the direction of our journey.

There are long days at sea, as we’re carried along, waiting, and trusting the Captain of our ship knows where we’re headed and how to safely reach our destination. With God at the helm we are offered guilt free, acceptance-based cruising and a place to find rest in the storm.

It’s the best way to travel and it’s never too late to book a lifelong trip.

So don’t wait. Start now.

Guaranteed, you’ll love the adventure.
“Jesus Savior, pilot me
Over life’s tempestuous sea
Unknown waves before me roll
Hiding rock and treacherous shoal
Chart and compass come from thee
Jesus, Savior, pilot me.” ~ Edward Hopper, 1871

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“Come unto me..and I will give you rest.” ~Jesus, Matthew 11:28~

The Best ‘Accident’ We Ever Had

birthdayTwenty five years ago today our second son, David, arrived.

Our firstborn, Jonathan, came to us with developmental disabilities and before the end of his first year, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness and told it would worsen with any subsequent pregnancies.

In light of all the odds stacked against us, we decided one child should be enough. I lived with daily pain and exhaustion and it was difficult taking care of our son; one who needed so much extra care and attention. Adding more children seemed overwhelming and reckless.

That decision, though sensible, saddened me. But the alternative seemed too much of a risk and quite honestly whenever I thought about it; fear overpowered sadness. So I settled into an unplanned life of doctors, therapists, prescription drugs and special education.

It was an enormous shock when we discovered, ten years later, we had another child on the way. Jon was in school, developing slowly but doing fairly well, and I was still dealing with multiple health issues. I was older now, and because I’d already had a special needs child when I was young and healthy, my first response to the news was overwhelming fear and tears.

As time moved forward excitement and expectation emerged and then love for the child growing inside me. He may have been unplanned but he was never unwanted. And though the fear never left, I knew I would face, by God’s grace and strength, whatever the future offered us and this baby.

The night he was born, I fought my fear battle with each contraction, but when the mid-wife checked him over, looked me in the eyes and said, “It’s a boy and he’s perfect,” such relief and joy flooded through me I could barely contain it.

God knew what I needed, even when I didn’t. David’s arrival did something for me that I’ve never quite been able to express. He was the piece of my heart puzzle I wasn’t even aware had been missing, until I held him. His arrival in our lives filled a gaping hole; an empty place inside my mother heart that I didn’t know I had until he was here.

As predicted, my health problems became much worse after David’s birth but I didn’t care and I still don’t. I am thankful everyday for the gift of this son. His life has been worth every bit of pain and damage that has ravaged this fragile suit of flesh I reside in.

Today, on David’s twenty-fifth birthday, he is distant from us in miles, but never in heart. He is fiercely loved and celebrated. And not just by us, but also by his wife, her family and many friends; so many others he has already impacted and touched for what is good and right in the world.

David Micah Connis, is the best and happiest ‘accident’ we’ve ever had and we are unspeakably grateful to God who blessed us with such a wonderful surprise.

Happy Birthday Son!

 

 

Hope for a New Year

Since I was a child, I’ve always felt the shift of the clock from 11:59 p.m. on December 31, to 12:00 a.m. on new year2January 1, should be magical, fantastical, miraculous; as if something incredible should happen at the very second a year flips over.

Shouldn’t the problem I’ve struggled over all year suddenly have resolution, or money fall from the sky like confetti in New York’s Times Square, or people desperately seeking restored health be instantly healed?

Shouldn’t broken hearts be renewed and shattered relationships repaired, mobile phones ringing and buzzing with offers of love and forgiveness?

Shouldn’t Jon come out of his room with a huge hug and Happy New Year wishes, and loved ones who’ve passed on, walk smiling through my door, shouting, “Hey! I’m back!”?

You know…amazing stuff like…answers. Reversals. Miracles.

I wait for it every year. Deep inside I admit to expecting it. But another new year seems to come and go as ordinary as most days. We celebrate it for a few hours, the fireworks fade and we wake up the next morning to another sunrise. Another start. Another chance. Another twenty four hours.

What is it about a new year that makes us yearn for more?

I think it’s hope. Hope is defined as desire accompanied by anticipation, expectation and confident belief. Hope is central to our very existence.

1 Corinthians 13:13, combines “faith, hope and love,” with love being the greatest. But how is love even possible without faith and hope? When hope walks out, all other longing goes with it. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

The human heart has an incredible capacity to keep hope alive, even in the darkest times; to keep wishing for perfection, beauty, solutions, joy, and love. It shouldn’t surprise us, for we are made in God’s image, and He is all these and more.

There is a spark of hope in us that ignites new promise for a new year.

Maybe this year I’ll get that raise or promotion. Maybe this year I’ll meet that special someone. Maybe this year my situation will turn. Maybe this year my health will improve. Maybe this year my sorrow will turn to joy. Maybe this year will be my break through.

Last year was hard, but it’s over. This year will be better.

I hope.

We can’t know what a year will bring, but of this we can be certain: God will be in this New Year with us, just as He always has been. He has not forsaken us, even though we may not feel Him near. His mercy is new and available every morning and His love for us is endless. He can be trusted with our future.

As the year before us unfolds, my hope and prayer is, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit,” Romans 15:13.

The best of blessings to you and yours in the days ahead. May your year be abundant with hopes fulfilled.

image credit: http://www.freshpickedwhimsy.typepad.com/

My New “I Don’t Get It” Box

box copyI now own a virtual “I Don’t Get It” Box. It was delivered to me over the weekend after a conversation I had with a good friend. She’s had a tough year and great loss.  We talked about  faith, and how it processes us through life circumstances that are more than difficult.

Sometimes stuff happens that doesn’t fit into our neat and tidy theological boxes. We can’t check them off our doctrinal lists. Things happen that we can’t explain and we have no idea which  (thought-I-had-this-all-figured-out-already!) category to file them under.

After this conversation with my friend, I woke up the next morning with a picture in my head. Some people call them visions or awake dreams. Call it whatever you want, but I saw me with a long line of people stretched out endlessly behind me, standing in front of a huge box inscribed with a large glowing font that said,

“I Don’t Get It.”

Everyone in line, including me, had a piece of paper in hand. I had written on the paper, parts of my life I question, things I don’t understand and circumstances I have faced or still face that are confusing and seem to have no answers.

I stepped up to the box and threw my paper in. When it hit the bottom the font on the front of the box changed and began to flash in bright neon over and over again,

“Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST Me. Just TRUST ME….”

I may not ‘get’ many things but I get this message loud and clear. I don’t need to analyze, understand, explain and figure everything out.

I can’t know everything because knowing ALL would make me God. Wasn’t that we could be like God by eating the only off limits fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the original lie of the serpent?

Man fell for the deception. He believed it. Do we still?

God wants our trust. He wants us to believe Him. It’s all He’s ever wanted. So I lay aside my need to know and simply trust..

Because God,

I believe You are good.

I believe You are love.

I believe You are faithful.

I believe You are merciful.

I believe You desire only the best for me,

Today, no matter what happens, how I feel, whether I understand or not, I throw it all into my “I Don’t Get It” box and…

Just Trust You!

 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

 “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10

 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. John 14:1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ultimate Caregiver

Caregiving is selfless work. Problem is, I’m not selfless. Not yet.FB_Jesus_Washes_Feet_PDF-1

I’ve grown through the years I’ve been doing this overtime parenting/caregiving thing, but honestly, I still have a long way to go. There are times when I still struggle and it seems too hard, too frustrating, too confining, too self sacrificing, too…much.

But love moves me forward another day. I love my son and he needs me, whether he realizes it or not. So I rise in the morning with new mercies, new grace and make the most of both the imperfect and fantastic days we are blessed to have.

Comparison is a luxury I can’t afford. Neither can you. When we start comparing our life to others our thoughts can travel into dangerous territory.

Some comparisons that might spiral me into dark places:

They go on vacation. We can’t.

They get in their car and go whenever/wherever they want. I can’t.

Their thirty something year old kid is self sufficient. Mine isn’t.

They don’t have to worry about what will happen to their grown child when they’re no longer here. I do.

There’s plenty more of these, but you get the idea. I can’t allow my mind to dwell on what they are doing. Such thinking has to be ‘taken captive’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) and serves no purpose but a downward spiral into self absorbed misery.

What I can think on is God’s goodness; His provision, grace, strength and blessing.

I have a roof over my head. I’m not hungry. I’m in functioning health. I have support from a good husband, caregivers, church and friends; a decent car to drive when I can get away, a yard full of awesome plants to enjoy and a son who only needs constant reminders to attend to his own basic physical needs. And some times, even while being grumpy and stubborn, Jon’s quirky, humor makes me smile.

Things to be thankful for outnumber the they comparisons and inconveniences, two to one.

Jesus modeled selfless caregiving when He loved me enough to lay aside His Heavenly crown, take on flesh and come to an Earth originally created in perfection by Him and utterly broken by the degradation of His greatest creation – man.

The Ultimate Caregiver came to serve and give His life away. He came to provide solutions for the desperation of humanity and offers the grace and strength I need to serve and care as He does.

Faithfully

Patiently

Cheerfully

Lovingly

Sacrificially

Selflessly

I pray everyday, as I struggle to set ‘me’ aside again, for the benefit of my son and for others, that I will emulate Christ’s love in some small way.

Because true love lives to serve.

John 13:4…he [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (NIV)

Matthew 20:26-28 “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

1 Peter 5:7 ESV Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Isaiah 41:10 ESV Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

My Hands His Hands

We celebrated another wedding anniversary recently and as I dusted off our wedding album to reminisce, I smiled, flipping through the photos.

Until I came to this one on the last page, this close up of our hands showing off our new wedding rings.hands

‘Oh My Gosh!’ I thought, ‘My hands were so pretty and so straight once.’

Six years after that photo was taken I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. A crippling auto immune disease  triggered at the birth of our first son and ten years later, ravaging through me like an eighteen wheeler squashing a bug, following the birth of our second.

As much as I wanted to, I didn’t have time to stay in bed and it really didn’t matter, staying in bed hurt just as much as being up. Painful nights without sleep and miserable exhausting days were measured on a pain scale of bad and horrible, making the bad days seem good.

My family needed me and with two active growing boys to care for, prayer and pills became my constant companion. Pain pills, steroids, low dose cancer drugs and weekly injections all kept me in function mode. My continuous prayers went from begging God for healing to demanding my body stop its destructive storm, and everything in between.

As the disease progressed the cartilage and fluid cushion between joints eroded. Fingers and toes began to drift, tendons shifted and bones fused. Slowly I was forced to give up activities I enjoyed; skating, tennis, playing guitar, clarinet and keyboards, hiking, wearing sexy shoes, doing my nails and many more.

The day I went to have my wedding ring cut in half to remove it from my swollen, misshapen finger was the culmination of how much rheumatoid arthritis had stolen. I cried tears of bitter resignation.

Since then, I have made drastic changes which positively affected my health: our family moved to a warm climate, I renovated my eating habits, began light daily exercise and the practice of stress release through prayer, meditative scripture reading and writing, laughing often, letting go of offense, forgiving, listening to my body, pacing myself instead of pushing, saying ‘No’ when necessary, asking for help when needed and giving myself permission to have fun.

Over the span of several years, I gradually reduced the amount of medications and have been off all drugs for a decade. But until God heals me completely, the joint damage remains.

As I looked at that picture of my normal hands, a stark reminder of what once was, I realized I rarely think of it now. I’ve adjusted, adapted and moved on.

My hands aren’t pretty. I know that. They are crooked and disfigured. But they still function, awkwardly managing to do what needs to be done.

They can still plant a seed or cut a flower in the garden, sew a stray button back on, slice an onion in the kitchen, butter toast, throw a load of laundry in the machine, reach for another person needing prayer, comfort or hugs, type this blog (two fingers at a time) and perform so many necessary tasks.

I’m far from the young girl in that picture now. I can’t go back there nor do I want to. Those days are gone and as the years roll by I am learning to be thankful for what is. Today. Right now.

I am learning to trust God in all things – understood or not, healed or not – big or small.

I’m grateful I still have hands. Crooked as they are, they belong to God.  I will use them to bring help, blessing and hope to others as long as I can. And I will raise them in worship and surrender to Him as long as He gives me breath.

Whether I’m healed on this side of eternity and in spite of the affliction and problems of this life, I choose to proclaim with Job of old:

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that as the last He will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will behold, and not another.” Job 19:25-27