Swirling gone Bad.

Remember that last post I wrote… All about life swirling but how I’ve found a way to stay calm in spite of the chaos. Yeah. Well. That lasted almost two whole days. And then I messed up my van.

Yes, there was swirling, much swirling – like my head when it spun so fast ’cause I was so mad at myself. Lesson learned – never write about inner peace again. Never.

I was getting gas. Just an ordinary day at QT – until some truck pulled up with a huge trailer – which blocked my quick exit. So when I finished filling up, I thought… no problem – I can get around this big trailer – I’ll just turn a bit and then SCREECH, SCRATCH – and…

I.
was.
stuck.

My van was wedged on a big, yellow, metal post. I had to have two guys coach me on how to get out of the mess I created. And when I was finally free – I just took off without even saying, “thank you.”

Ugh. I was so mad and humiliated and mad. Did I mention I was mad? Here’s proof of my stupidity…

You might be thinking… “Oh that’s not so bad.” Well, check out the close-up view.

Beautiful isn’t it? I even have yellow paint details to highlight the damage. Great.

Eric wasn’t mad at all, but was so gracious to me; “It’s just a van, Kathryn.” But I loved my van. Eric worked so hard to find the best deal on this exact van in this exact color. And now I’ve messed it up, and I get to drive around town with evidence of my bad driving skills on display. Sigh.

I shared my sob story at bible study this morning. Everyone tried to cheer me up by sharing their stories…

“Well, I hit a fence at my kids’ school one time”

“Oh, I can top you. I side swiped my husband’s car.”

“Well, I left the gas station with the hose still attached. Beat that.”

That did make me feel better, actually :-) But seriously, why did I get so mad at myself? I make mistakes. I’m not perfect. Why does that surprise me? Anger is usually a sign of an idol. I did something stupid, and I got mad. I need to let go of this facade of being a “smart girl who has it together.” It’s just not true. So driving around with a messed up van is going to be good for me. It’s a reflection of who I am. I’m a scratch and dent model… and I’m (almost) okay with that ;-)

Advertisements

The Falcons and Tim Tebow – What do they have in common?

As a life-long Falcons’ fan… I’ve been dealt a hard lot. The Falcons layed a big goose-egg yesterday against the Giants. It was painful to watch. But then Tim Tebow led the the Bronco’s to a long-shot (nothing short of miraculous) win over the Steelers in overtime. It was AWESOME!!! (sorry Steelers’ fans…)

Last night, I sat on the sofa – with my arms crossed – and despite the amazing Tebow-show, I was in a bad mood. The Falcons’ loss just helped all of my angst come to the surface. I complained to Eric… “I’m tired. I look ahead and see the same monotonous routines. There’s nothing to look forward to. Theoretically, I know God can give me joy – but I don’t want to pray, I don’t want to read my bible… I don’t want anything to do with ‘seeking God.’  I’m tired of Him too.”

Poor Eric – he just sat and listened as I scowled and acted like a spoiled-two-year-old brat. And he, always gracious and patient with me,  just empathized and didn’t judge.

And later, as I pried open my bible, I read about how God loves us – even though we are still sinners. And God made the familiar words fresh… I’m a sinner – and you know what… I’m okay with that. I can own that label. I’m rebellious and down-right bad… unfaithful and whiny – and it’s an afront to the living God – and he actually died because of it.

But I’m not defiled by that label. God has given me a new name… My value comes – not from my performance – but because He made me and died for me. I’m part of His family, and He’s consumed with gathering His family close. I’m okay with that too.

So back to the Falcons and Tim Tebow :-) As Eric and I were going to bed, I said (tongue in cheek), “God poured His blessings DOWN on Tebow tonight!” And Eric had the audacity to say… “Well, He also poured His blessing down on the Falcons.”

What, Eric? I wasn’t in the mood to hear truth… But Eric can’t help himself – he was born to speak the truth. And he continued…. “Great blessing can be found in pain and suffering – if you choose to look for it.”

If you choose to look for it. Am I choosing to look for good? Eric rambled on about all the good that has come from our accident. He’s good at speaking truth, and it was good for me to listen :-)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Congratulations, you can’t do it!

My friend and I were talking yesterday about how we put so much energy into being comfortable. Don’t ask me to take risks or make sacrifices – that’s not comfortable. We try to avoid pain at all costs… emotional, physical, spiritual – you name it… we want to avoid it. But I think about the richest times in my life – or the times when I’ve learned or grown the most – and it’s always when I’ve felt the weakest. How can we truly know that God is sufficient and will meet all of our needs – if we put all of our energy into creating bubbles in which we feel competent and secure?? Thankfully, God loves us enough to burst open those bubbles…

I remember my first “hard” decision as a young Christian. I was in college, and my relationship with my mother was… uncomfortable and painful – so trying to avoid Continue reading

Dragon’s skin

I’ve been struggling with the amount of time and energy it takes me to care for Anne. It’s just so demanding and exhausting. But I think what I’ve really been struggling with is that caring for Anne reveals the sinfulness in my heart. It’s hard to care for Anne because I’m selfish and don’t want to sacrifice my time and energy to do for Anne what she can no longer do for herself. I struggle with self-pity, self-absorption and a lust for freedom to do what I WANT TO DO. But. If I can surrender – if I can dive deep into the life God has called me – a life of sacrifice and service – then my life will be full. I know this in my head…

“Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Matthew 10:39.

Do you know how many times these words of Jesus are quoted in the gospels?? Six times. Twice in Matthew and Luke – and once in Mark and John. That’s a lot. Jesus expended much energy in teaching the disciples the lesson of self sacrifice. He knew it was the key to eternal fulfillment. He knows the end of the story… when this world will be turned up-side down and the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He knows. He knows.

I’m reminded of a scene from a novel written by Randy Alcorn. Randy has spent years studying eternal perspective, and back in the ’90’s he published, Deadline, a novel that weaved together much of his research and study. It is the story of three good friends who share different beliefs… an atheist, an agnostic and a believer -and they are in a serious automobile accident at the beginning of the story. The agnostic is the only survivor – but the novel continues to track all three men. As we follow the believer into heaven, the images are breathtaking. One scene in particular deeply impacted me…  The believer who died left behind a son with Down Syndrome. And as we see the dad in heaven, he notices the most amazing music – coming from the largest and most beautiful orchestra and choir he had ever seen. It was HUGE – with countless numbers of people making music for Jesus – and he looked to the podium and saw the choir director – and he was surprised to see – a man – with Down Syndrome.

The last shall be first and the first shall be last. I consider it my greatest calling and honor on this earth to serve Jesus by serving my disabled daughter …But I struggle with self-sacrifice. I feel like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – as Aslan tears deep into his flesh to pull away the dragon’s skin. Just as Eustace was unable to peel the skin off himself, so Jesus has to help scrape away all of my selfishness… He does it because he loves me… and He knows the end of the story… and it’s good.

My striving is not working.

I’ve been struggling lately to keep the pace. Sometimes I wonder if I just have unrealistic expectations of myself. On paper, my schedule seems very manageable… but then again, I’ve always struggled with discipline and consistency. sigh.

I think one of the issues is that everything feels relentless. Anne’s schedule is relentless. The morning routine of getting all the kids to school (on time) is relentless. Anne’s needs are relentless – and the afternoons filled with therapy and carpool and dinner preparation and homework and. and. and…

One of the reasons we chose to send Canon and Kate to school (instead of homeschooling them) was to give me more margin in my life. I’m supposed to have more time now. Hmm. It doesn’t feel like it.

I don’t think I’m alone in this struggle. Our culture is so “full” that most people I know are constantly trying to fight against filling their schedules. Maybe it’s just the emotional baggage of Anne’s disabilities that make me feel. so. heavy. Or maybe it’s my inability to think past today – which makes weekly meal planning challenging ;-) Or maybe I need to have a few more glasses of wine – but I don’t really like wine.

Actually, the only real answer is Jesus. He’s the simple Sunday School answer for everything – but in Him are depths of knowledge and wisdom and… joy. Joy. I think I just need an extra dose of joy. I sure ain’t finding it in all of my striving.  Jesus, will you give me joy? 

The River

There’s a place near my home that everyone calls “The River.” I’ve been to this place so many times over my life. What’s funny is that it’s not literally a river – it’s a trail – and a portion of it happens to be by a river.

I can almost define the stages of my life by that trail. I remember running with an old college friend – telling her all about Eric and his mom’s cancer, how brave and strong he was to care for her – thinking the whole time how thankful I was …to be the girl he had chosen to love. And I remember running at the river by myself after Eric’s mom died – wrestling and hoping… And then later my hope was realized – and we were married.

I remember mountain biking on the smaller trails with Eric and standing with my bike at the bottom of a hill, watching, amazed – at how easily Eric could climb the hill with his bike. And then I would go – and struggle – and end up walking my bike to the top. And then we would attack the rest of the trail together.

I remember walking by the river with a jogger stroller – Canon in tow – thinking, it’s hard to run by myself. I need a friend. And years have past, and God has given me many friends.

Which brings me to this morning. A group of moms from Canon and Kate’s school run on Tuesday mornings. So after carpool, I found myself in a Suburban with three other moms and their toddlers. I had no idea where we were going. But I wasn’t all too surprised where we ended up… the river. And so we ran… and talked (and I struggled to keep the pace) and I thought… life is so… the same. In every phase, I’ve struggled and wrestled and looked to God for answers. My companions have been different – but the river is the same. It meanders and bubbles and people run past it day after day, year after year. And so it is with God. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. My alpha and omega, my beginning and end.

I hope my body is able to run at the river for many more years. I look forward to the wrestling… and to the hoping.

Back in the saddle…

Well, I’m teaching bible study tomorrow morning. It’s been a while since I’ve taught… so we’ll see how things go tomorrow.

I’m giving an overview of Biblical World View, Covenant Theology, the Church AND Biblical Womanhood. I told the gal who asked me to do this… “Yeah, all of that should take me about 10 minutes, and then I can teach everyone how to line dance the last hour or so.” I was kidding. I think it’s nuts to try to cover all of that in one lesson, but hey, I’m just doing what I was asked to do ;-)

There was one interesting point I stumbled upon while studying… Have you ever noticed that in the very beginning – when God created man and woman – and gave them jobs to do… (man – go work and keep the garden – and woman, you be a helper suitable for him) – that after they sinned, God cursed them with the exact opposite of their original good design. Woman will have desire for man (or desire to be over or control the man). And man will have toil all the days of his life – and in the end, he will return to dust. And what do women struggle with? Submission. And what do men struggle with? Toil-filled work and and a sense of purposelessness. No wonder life is hard. The curse of sin put in our hearts is the very opposite of what we were created and called to be! …And when did Jesus say He was coming back??? Oh yeah. He didn’t :-)

Thank you Jesus for reversing the power of sin and providing a way for us to draw near to you. Thank you for giving us the strength to persevere until that glorious day when you will come again!!

Ragamuffins

I went to my bible study at church for the first time in over a year this morning. The study has changed a lot since the time of Anne’s accident – all for good…

I was struck by the diversity of the women sitting around the table – and also by the openness… One widow who has a broken relationship with her son. A newlywed realizing that life is not a fairytale. Another newlywed – who is also a widow – experiencing a season of respite after many years of suffering. A woman celebrating her anniversary and the miracle of three adopted children. Another woman thankful for her 46 years of marriage. One expecting her first child. Another celebrating the marriage of her stepson, but still remembering the tragic death of her step daughter. And then there’s me… Absentminded mom to three – and one of those three happens to have a brain injury.

For all our differences, we have one interesting trait in common. We are all ragamuffins, broken vessels, tarnished daughters – but daughters, none the less! I’m more comfortable with others’ brokenness and scars than before the accident.

I think about the kind of people with whom Jesus spent time… Those tax collectors and sinners – the scandalous sort that religious folk avoided. This morning, as I listened to the stories of the women around the table, I thought, “we’re the kind of scandalous folk Jesus would like to hang out with.” Not pretentious. No walls of religious superiority. Just our broken selves, around a table, sharing a meal. It felt good to be at bible study again :-)

Train Ticket

I remember reading The Hiding Place (the story of Corrie Ten Boom) when I was in my late twenties. That book was powerful. I remember thinking, “This woman spent the first half of her life – just normal, and then her life turned upside down.” And then I thought, “I wonder if that will be my story – 40 or so years of a normal, uneventful life and then tragedy strikes.” Your life gets sliced in two. In my case, it’s “before the accident” and “after the accident.”

My next thought was, “She had no idea. All of that time spent with her family in everyday life, and she had no idea that she would watch her sister die in a concentration camp, live to tell the tale, and encourage the world with her story. She had no idea…” Which leads me to the second powerful lesson I learned from this book…

When Corrie was a young girl, she feared her dad dying. As she voiced her fear to her father, he said, (and I’m paraphrasing from memory…) “Corrie, when we travel together on the train, when do I give you your train ticket?” And Corrie replied, “Right before I get on the train.” And her dad said, “Exactly Corrie. And so it will be with your Heavenly Father. He will give you the strength you need to face life’s trials just when you need it – not before…  Do not fear the future Corrie.”

And so here I am… needing another train ticket from God. He’s given me so many over these last months. And tomorrow when I wake up, I’ll ask for another. Because, I’m in the other half of my life…  the “after the accident” part. And I pray that our story brings encouragement to a small portion of the world. For His glory. Goodnight :-)

Source of strength

As I was climbing the stairs to bed, my mind twisted its way to worry… “O Lord, how long will I have to care for a disabled child? Her whole life? My whole life? Will there ever be a day when I can trust her to be alone – will the impulsivity ever improve… and her feet? What about her feet?” I stopped myself. And looked for comfort in truth… From Streams in the Desert (June 27):

“The Lord is my strength” (Ex 15:2) to go on. He gives me the power to walk the long, straight, and level path, even when the monotonous way has no turns or curves offering pleasant surprises and when my spirit is depressed with the terrible drudgery.

“The Lord is my strength” to sit still. And what a difficult accomplishment this is! …I feel like the mother who stands by her sick child but is powerless to heal. What a severe test! Yet to do nothing except to sit still and wait requires tremendous strength.

How many times do I turn to God and He speaks directly to my circumstance? So many times. He will supply what I need for today (period). He alone is my strength.

Goodnight.