I Believe

IMG_2390The other night I began another journal.  This one is just for scripture.  Words I want hidden in my heart and impressed on my mind.

The first scripture I wrote in there was Isaiah 43:1-2,4,7

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 shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you…Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

I love those words, but honestly at the time I wondered why God led me to them.  I didn’t feel like I was facing fear or walking through anymore fire than usually.  There are always a few burning coals at my feet, but I’m a bit of a ninja when it comes to walking on them.

Then the next day I got a call from the doctor’s office.  Have to go for additional tests. This is the second set of additional tests I’ve had.  The first set was for one thing…this is for another.  And honestly, the call kind of rocked my world.  Again.

It is a fear of mine (one of a few) that I will get sick and not be able to provide for my family…not be able to take care of my children.  Lose my job.  My house.  My life.  Sometimes it feels a bit irrational…well, a lot irrational.

But today, it feels a little too real for my tastes.  A little too in my face.  It still might be irrational.  It’s just additional tests.  Tests don’t always mean bad things.

Being a teacher, I know that giving a test is a lot easier than taking a test.  There is no dread with giving, but a fair amount with taking.

I know that the likelihood of my being seriously ill is not huge…well, maybe I shouldn’t say that.  I have no idea.   I know that I haven’t been the most diligent in caring for myself for the last few years.  Little exercise. Little sleep. Lotta stress.  And a few too many Coca-Colas.

I’m trying to get healthy.  I’ve stopped soda.  I’ve cut down sugar.  The sugar isn’t hard because I don’t have a sweet-tooth.  I have a salt and grease tooth.  Give me a 5-Guys burger and fries and I’m a very happy camper.  Add a Coke and I’m pretty much in heaven.  But the dessert afterwards…ehhhh, I can take it or leave it.

My kids tease me that if I was a super hero I’d be “Saltina” – I guess my nemesis would have to be giant slugs.  (Well, I do have teenagers…)

Anywho, I digress.  Getting healthy.  Need to do it.

The whole fear thing.

I found a journal a few days ago that had an entry from a while back.  I was expressing my fear of never being loved or being able to trust again.  God has shown me that that isn’t true.  He lavishes love on me through others often.  And trust?  God continually shows me that I can trust Him.  Learning to trust again by trusting Him. That’s the way I can start.

Do I trust God with my health?  He’s shown me often that I can trust Him with so much, why not this?

The beauty of Isaiah 43 is

Who He says I am – His.  Called by His name.  Created for His glory.  Precious in His eyes.  Honored.  Loved.

Where He says I am – with Him

What He says will happen – I will not be overwhelmed.  I will not be burned.  I will not be consumed.

I think of how I feel about my children…selfish, flawed, and tired me.  I love them completely.  I would do anything for them.  And God?  Selfless, perfect, ever diligent God.  He loves me completely – lavishly.  He would do anything for me.  But only the best anything.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.  Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone?  Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!  Matthew 7:7-11

Maybe this is just the kick in my rear that is going to make me take better care of myself.  Maybe this is the “Girly, do you truly trust me with everything?” thing.                     Maybe this is the “watch me walk you through it” thing.

I can’t say that I’m still not heading into all this with great trepidation, but I do trust.  It might be a trembling trust, but it is trust nonetheless.

Again I’m like that father in Mark 9, “I believe, help my unbelief!”

I love that interchange between the father and Jesus.  The father says, “But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.”  Jesus responds, “If you can! All things are possible for one who believes.”  Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

It sounds funny but the exclamation points jump out at me!  I hear Jesus saying, “If you can!?!?”  Not in an unkind way, but rather an encouraging way.  It’s as if He is saying to this devastated father, “Dear one, if you can!  There is no “if” when it comes to my ability.  There is no “if” when it comes to my power.  It is all possible for one who believes.   Believe.”

So what do I believe?  I believe that God is able.  I believe that God will never leave me.  I believe that I can trust Him.  I believe.

So bring on stupid additional tests.  Bring on whatever.

He and I…we got this.

Is Life Ever Gonna Be Normal?

cool cloud“Everything is going on around me as if nothing is happening…as if my world is not crashing…exploding…imploding…”

I remember thinking those words when my marriage began its shattering.

Nobody knew. And life continued.

I recall standing up before a class of 5th and 6th graders teaching them grammar and thinking, “How do I do this? How do I pretend that this is just a normal day? That I don’t just want to crawl into a corner and weep?”

It’s such a surreal thing…trying to be normal when everything isn’t.

I’m feeling that way again as I watch my father’s health decline dramatically.

The other day I sat next to him propping him up with my shoulder, holding his hand, and leaning in to hear his soft, mumbled words. I was struck again by life’s challenges.

I’d spent the day with my children playing at the park – running, laughing, and sweating. Now I was sitting still, crying a bit, and well…sweating  …my Dad’s room is pretty stuffy.

It’s weird to walk through all these emotions. I remember that walk when my husband left. I remember trying to make life normal and fun with my children. I’d laugh with them during the day and cry when I was alone at night. It was a truly terrible walk for a season, but I haven’t walked there in a while…until now.

Anyone who has suffered a loss or tragedy or challenge of any kind can understand…life goes on.
We still need to set alarms, pack lunches, get kids to school, do school with children, go to work, make dinner, drive to soccer games, smile at people, listen to other’s share their stories, and just plain live life.

I’m finding it difficult to figure out how to be normal anymore…I mean not that I’ve ever been completely normal (LOL!)…but how do I find normal when things keep getting wonky on me?

My prayer partner and I pray each year that this will be the year without trauma or drama….so far we are 0-6. Not a great record. BUT I will say that God continues to work in me and around me despite the decidedly difficult times.
He continues to show me He is faithful before, during, and after the troubling times.

Somehow or another, even when I can’t necessarily see it or really understand it, He makes it all bearable. At the end of the day, I realize I’ve survived. And so have all my children.

And it isn’t just survival…I’ve learned so much about myself and about Him through each heartbreak and sorrow.
God loves me and my children (and you and yours) so very much.

Lately God has been showing me how very very much He loves me and my children…and you and yours. There is no limit to His love…the amount doesn’t diminish on a bad day or even increase on a good day. He loves us perfectly and completely because He is love.

I read a quote years ago by A.W. Tozer from his book Knowledge of the Holy

“Love, for instance, is not something God has and which may grow or diminish or cease to be. His love is the way God is, and when He loves He is simply being Himself.”

I’m so blessed by that…so thankful that God loves me regardless of me or my circumstances or my fears or my challenges or my difficulties or my emotions or my failures…God loves me because He made me to love.

There is hope for me in that…there is hope that even when everything seems completely out of sorts and daily life must continue on, I can trust that God has it because He loves me. I can trust that I am secure in His unfailing love.

Even when life shatters, God’s love keeps me together.

hospice, hope and healing

Daisies on white

“Momma, I don’t want grandpa to die, but I know he will feel so much better in heaven.”

My sweet 12 year old son uttered those words as we sat in an Urgent Care waiting to see the doctor for the two of us, and while my father lay in a hospital bed waiting for word from his doctor.

Today we found out that those words were not the ones we hoped to hear.  Those words included “hospice.”  Earlier in the week I had said that word, but it was in a hopeful sentence, “At least they haven’t mentioned hospice.” 

Now they have and I don’t know what to do with that word.  It strikes a pain in my chest I can hardly bear.  It brings me to tears just thinking of my dear father facing death so imminently. 

My daddy accepted the Lord about 10 years ago, but has not truly grasped what it means to him.  Oh that he could grasp grace and not let go of it.  It breaks my heart in more pieces than I can say that he hasn’t.  I can see the fear and anxiety etched on his beloved gaunt face.  I can hear it in his frustrated, angry words. 

We have all talked with my dad.  Friends have too.  We’ve tried to encourage him in his faith, but it’s hard when death is staring back so relentlessly.  I long for my Dad to see life instead of death…Life!!! 

I’ve dealt with a lot of pain and sorrow since my family fell apart 4 years ago.  There is a large part of my heart that is already in heaven.  I want to be there so badly I can taste it sometimes.  I understand Paul’s statement, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”  (Philippians 1:21)  But I am not faced with my death coming soon…at least that I know of.  I pray that my hope would not waver in the end. 

My Daddy’s hope is wavering…it’s wobbling all over the place.  I wish I knew exactly the right words so he could really grasp that peace which passes all understanding to guard his heart and his mind in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7), but once again, God is reminding me that I’m not the one in charge.

God loves my dad so very much.  He doesn’t want this man to die hopelessly, but rather with hope of eternal glory…of all the wonder that is heaven blissfully beckoning. 

We all selfishly want healing or even partial healing so that my dad will be around longer.  But like my little boy said, why would I want to have my dad suffer another day when he could know true and complete healing in heaven?  I know the answer but I can’t bring myself to write it because I want my dad around.  I want my children to know their grandpa even better…I want him to tell stories we haven’t heard or even ones we have. I want more time with him.

Tomorrow I will head back down to see my dad…to spend the day with him while things beep and swish around us and nurses come in and out and in and out and in out, and he tries to rest amid it all.  I will pray for the opportunity to encourage and bless my dad…and I will pray for peace for him and for all of us…and I will hope in the Lord for my dad’s eternal inheritance and mine as well.