“God does miracles”

I was picking my kids up from VBS yesterday, and the song leader was up front reviewing the bible story the kids learned that day. It was from Luke 5 – the story of Jesus healing the Paralyzed man. And then the music started… and all the kids were standing, singing and doing hand motions to “God does Miracles… oh yeah, My God does Miracles!!!” And I became cynical.

Now let me stop and interject something. I have no right to be cynical. I have seen miracles. God saved Anne from the clutches of death, and now one year later, she’s learning bible verses at VBS. That’s a double dose of miracles. Hear me, I’m grateful. Oh so grateful…

But, the kids’ song raises a valid question. Why doesn’t God heal the way He healed when He walked the earth? Continue reading

I love words!

This past Sunday, I sang in our church’s ensemble. We sang a paraphrased version of Psalm 42 set to an Appalachian folk melody. It was beautiful. Way too high for me to sing well, but beautiful:-) One of the members of the ensemble noted that two words were flipped in the third verse. As I studied the text, I disagreed with him and we started a discussion that continued on and off throughout the morning (and that we both relished).

See what you think. Here’s the text… (emphasis mine)

As longs the hart for flowing streams
So longs my soul for You, O God;
My soul does thirst for the living God.
When shall I come to see Your face?

My tears have fed me day and night
While men have said, “Where is your God?”
But I recall as my soul pours dry
The days of praise within Your house.

Why do I mourn and toil within,
When is it mine to hope in God?

I shall again sing praise to Him,
He is my help, He is my God.

My friend thought the text should read: “Why do I mourn and toil within, when it is mine to hope in God?” In other words, “Why do I mourn when my hope is in this amazing God?” His view is theologically sound… But I agreed with the text as written. The Psalmist asks two questions… “Why do I mourn and toil within? When will I be able to hope in God again?” He encourages himself with the truth that he “shall again sing praise to Him, He is my help, He is my God.”

I fought back tears as I thought about this text. I know how it feels to mourn and toil and wonder if I will ever have hope again. I know how it feels to encourage myself with the truth that this season of grief will pass and I will again sing praise to Him, because He is my help and my God. I know (like so many others) all. too. well.

What’s interesting is the portion of Psalm 42 this text is based on… Check this out:

Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God (Psalm 42:11).

I would suggest that neither of our interpretations is correct! The Psalmist (David) is indeed mourning, but he doesn’t ask when he will be able to hope in God again, and he doesn’t claim to already have hope in God. No, he tells himself to hope in God because He is his salvation! A subtle difference, but so important.

My friend’s interpretation focused more on God’s character and failed to give adequate weight to the psalmist’s mourning. My interpretation was too focused on the toil within. David got it right. His soul is downcast. What is the answer? God (period).

I love words!

I love the body of Christ!

I was raised by a single mom who (inadvertantly) taught me the dangers of trust and the benefits of independence. Asking for help is not something in which I’ve had much practice. My tendency is to build a bunker, grit my teeth and ‘tough’ my way through. The bunker mentality leads to isolation which ultimately leads to despair… It’s impossible for me to be everything to Anne and to the rest of my family. In my weakness, my independence only leads to failure.

Because of the public nature of our tragedy, we’ve been surrounded and uplifted. But a year and a few months after the accident, we have slipped out of the forefront, and I find myself in the uncomfortable place of asking for help. Needing help is another paradox in God’s Kingdom. I am greatly blessed by the help of others…

One example – a teenager in our church who has suffered much loss in her own life has an extra dose of compassion for special needs children. She will be Anne’s ‘guide’ during VBS this week. I can’t help but think that God hand-picked her to help before the creation of the world. She is a blessing.

Another example… One of Anne’s Sunday school teachers just out of college has been struggling with joblessness and a sense of purpose. But in this season of uncertainty she has built a network of single girls in her same season, organized a babysitting club, and because of her connections – has found me help for the summer. She is a blessing.

And lastly, a dear friend who is experiencing a season of freedom after years of financial hardship was sharing her wisdom with me. I lamented to her, “I want wings, but I feel God’s hand pressing me down.” And she reminded me… even though her newfound freedom is a gift, it is also a temptation to fly away from the nearness of God. “Slow down, Kathryn. Cherish His nearness.”

Where would I be without the body of Christ? Thankfully, I do not have to live in isolation. God has a better way!

Goodness of the Lord …in the land of the living

Eric has been very encouraged with Anne’s progress lately. He’s posted two very uplifting journal entries on CaringBridge. I’m thankful that he’s so positive because I’m struggling. I’m struggling to see God’s goodness, and I’m struggling with hope.

Caring for Anne at home is so emotionally draining, so physically demanding… I’m tired, and it’s only been two weeks! So I pray from Psalm 27…

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!

8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”

9 Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!

11Teach me your way, O Lord,
and lead me on a level path
because of my enemies.

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!

14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!

All who are thirsty…

Is God enough?

A friend of a friend is wrestling with this question… I don’t even know her, but I wrestle too. Her marriage is excruciatingly disappointing. She has a child with a chronic, possibly fatal disease. I don’t share her circumstances, but i do share her question.

I can’t wrestle for her. I’ve done enough wrestling myself. But I can wrestle with her.

I’ve been running lately – straight away from God. I’ve been seeking solace in other things… not bad things – just busy things. And you know what? I’m spent. I can’t run anymore. But I’m also too tired to seek the only One who is enough.

A friend of mine came over today to help me plant a flower bed. We worked hard as the sun rose high in the sky. We finished, and she took the water hose and watered. And watered. And watered. She’s older than I am, and therefore more patient. I watched in wonder as she found peace in the water spray hitting the newly planted flowers. Drink… Drink. Stay awhile and drink, my child.

Oh Living Water. I am thirsty, oh so thirsty. I want to drink – it’s the staying awhile that I have difficulty with…

I went out at dusk to water. I tried to linger. And I received… a drop of peace. One drop to this parched soul is more satisfying than all of my busy substitutes. The one drop gives me the answer. No more running. Only God is enough.

That place

As I was leaving the driveway this morning, my mind was churning and autopilot kicked in and I found myself at that place. It had been a long time since I’d been there – what used to be automatic has now turned into avoidance – except for now… I looked left – into the huge 4-lane and found it empty (thank God) – but against my will all the images come rushing back. The truck, the impact, the blood and the lifeless heap of Anne in the back seat. The still, small voice whispering amidst the urgent movement of emergency workers, “Rest, Kathryn. Rest.” And my mind comes back to the present… This place. I hate this place. Will I ever be able to accept what God’s given with submission and gratitude? Will grief always take me by surprise and leave me broken and raw? This place… The road is empty – both left and right. I turn left across the lanes. Thank you Jesus. Thank you.

I’m doing better…

This week has been a good week for all of us. The more relaxed pace of spring break has been rejuvenating. Thank you for praying for me. I’ve been more aware of God’s mercy and faithfulness, and I’ve been encouraged by several friends this week. I’ve received uplifting text messages, fresh tulips delivered to my door, and one friend even came over to clean my toilets and fold my laundry. That’s love!

I think most encouraging is that lots of people are remembering April 13th. From close friends to casual acquaintances, I’ve had several encounters this week of people telling me that they are praying as the 13th approaches.

God has lifted the weight of grief (at least for now) and given me a single focus for the good He’s accomplished in Anne this year. We have so much to be thankful for! So when our pastor asked how they could best minister to us on the one year mark of the accident, I decided I wanted a celebration service to thank God for the blessing of Anne’s life and miraculous recovery. The details are still being worked out, but my prayer is that the service will be an encouragement to Anne and to those who have prayed so faithfully for Anne. I pray God is glorified as we acknowledge the work He has done in our midst!

Miss Debbie was over tonight watching our kids. Anne loves Miss Debbie! She made me a care package for wednesday… Lots of chocolate, diet cokes, candles, etc. But the coolest thing is a cd she made for me. On it is Laura Story’s new song Blessings. Miss Debbie says that every word reminds her of Anne. I agree. Listen to it if you have a chance:-)  And here’s the story behind the song if you’re interested…

I’ll post more about Anne’s service when I know details. It will be this Wednesday evening at our church, ChristChurch Presbyterian. Anne will be there, and I hope it will be a blessing for everyone :-)

Miracle of music

I’m thankful for music and Anne’s ability to sing along.

In the days after the accident, a new song by Josh Wilson entitled, Before the Morning, was released on the radio. This song ministered the most deeply to me in those early days. After one of my most discouraging days, I was driving home from the hospital just crying and praying. After much talking with God, I meekly asked, “God, would you just let me hear that Josh Wilson song…” So I turned on the radio, and his song was playing…

Would you dare, would you dare to believe,
That you still have a reason to sing,
That the pain that you’ve been feeling
Can’t compare to the joy that’s coming.

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light.
Press on and just fight the good fight,
Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling,
Is just the dark before the morning.

Now Anne knows all the lyrics and sings along in the car. That’s a stark contrast to the dark days in the hospital, and a poignant gift from God…

One year ago…

3-13-10

…Anne was practicing cheerleading moves in our living room. We had battled through food sensitivity issues, anger and behavior issues and hyper-sensitivity issues. Everyone outside our family could not believe that Anne was anything but the quiet, perfect little angel she showed to the outside world. But Anne had turned the corner on all of her “issues.” She was becoming that perfect little angel at home too. She would obey with a good attitude. She loved to help me with all of the household chores – especially cleaning and cooking. She was intelligent, artistic and sensitive – and a bit bossy. But hey, nobody’s perfect :-)

Now, I am dealing with all of those old issues. Her seizure medication is making her tired and irritable. She gets so angry when she doesn’t get her way – especially at me. She bites, hits, pulls my hair and likes to call me “stupid mommy” for the sole reason that we don’t allow the “s” word in our house. She is making progress, but it’s oh so slow. At night, my mind races through strategy after strategy to help Anne. Be it nutrition, or therapy goals or reading strategies, I have tons of ideas, but not enough time to implement them. It all leads me to feel overwhelmed and discouraged.

And God just seems hidden. It’s scriptural for God to be hidden sometimes. He’s hidden through most of Job. And when He reveals himself, Job is left shaken and repentant. Even though He’s hidden, that doesn’t mean He’s absent or aloof. I choose to believe that He has a plan for Anne and our family. We might be in a dark part of the journey, but it won’t be dark forever. He’ll give us light, just when we need it the most. In the interim, we must wait and take each step by faith. Faith in God’s good character. Faith in God’s sovereign hand. Faith in God’s tender mercies. Faith in His love for each one of us, and for Anne.

The days leading up to 4/13 will be difficult for me. One side of me hates that day. I hate what it’s done to Anne and our family. But the other side of me knows that God intends good to come out of it. God’s word demonstrates repetitively how He brings good out of the broken. I pray He does that for Anne  …and for me.

Please pray:

  1. That we will find the right medication to control Anne’s seizures – without negative side effects;
  2. That we would not feel overwhelmed or discouraged and find comfort in God despite our circumstances, and
  3. That God would help Anne to make progress in her walking, reading & writing.

Thank you! -kathryn

Upside-down-ness…

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the upside-down-ness of the Kingdom of God.

I remember back when I was a very young Christian and working in a Christian bookstore. The owner of the store was a grandfather and had been walking with Jesus for a very long time. He was so learned and wise that most of his conversations involved answering questions about the bible from customers, friends or fellow church members. I would stand at the door of his office and listen to these conversations – hoping to glean wisdom or understanding. A lot of his answers to others centered on the Kingdom of God. This concept was so new, and so abstract that I understood very little of what he said.

Now, I find myself thinking more and more about the Kingdom. Everything about it is upside down… Death brings life; the humble are exalted; the weak are strong. I could go on and on. Continue reading