Think of John the Baptist just before he was beheaded. Do you think he questioned whether his whole life’s work – preparing the way for the Messiah – was in vain? Even John the Baptist – who understood better than anyone who the Messiah would be… questioned Jesus. “And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another” Luke 7:19?

John knew the Jewish Scriptures. He knew the promises of a Messiah that would come and make all things right, and become King… but Jesus didn’t fit his preconceived mold.

Think of the other John. The gospel-writer John. He had aspirations of being the King’s right-hand man… Ruling the new Kingdom in glory! Imagine how he felt when Jesus – on the cross – commissioned him to care for Mary, His mother. Die? Surely He wouldn’t die. But He did.

And then the darkness came. The utter despair. All hope lost. Dreams were crushed. We’ve all been there, haven’t we? So hopeless that we scream with every cell clenched… “Why God? Where is the good in this?”

It helps knowing the end of the story doesn’t it? Both John’s – on either side of heaven – saw the good of the resurrection. But first, there was the darkness. To a lesser degree, it’s the same with all of our tragedies. We have the benefit of knowing there will be an end to the darkness – whether on earth or in heaven – the darkness will give way to light. The hard part is …the waiting.

It helps to ponder truth during the waiting times. Here’s some good, lyrical truth:-) Happy Easter, friends.

A lot of good, a bit of bad, and no ugly

I learned something from my meeting at Anne’s school today. Anne still saves her worst behavior for home. Everyone thinks Anne is sweet and loving. She just has a need for attention and lacks self-control. We came up with a positive reinforcement system that will hopefully give her more attention and rewards for good behavior.

Which leaves me to deal with the ugly stuff at home. Stuff like being mean to Kate and yelling at me. Whining and crying and calling me “stupid” when she doesn’t get her way. You know… all the deeper “character” stuff.

So, I’m pleased. I’m thankful for the individuals that surround and support Anne at school. They can work on behavior. And I’m thankful that Eric and I are the ones that get to pour God’s truth and love into her. We get to work on her heart. Thank you for your prayers!

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Standing in the swirling

Life swirls… Hence, the long break between posts ;-) But lately, I’ve experienced something extremely rare… at least for me. I see it – the whirling and swirling – but I’ve been able to stay calm and still. It’s very strange actually – to stand still while life moves fast. I’m trying to savor it :-)

Last week was crazy. C-R-A-Z-Y. But I managed to breath deep and just ‘be.’ Here’s a funny example :-) Anne had an important doctor’s appointment last Wednesday morning. I try to schedule her appointments right after carpool, so that (hopefully) no time is wasted, and everyone’s on time. We arrived (early, no less) to school, and Kate declares, “Uh-oh mommy, I don’t have my shoes.” WHAT? How do you leave the house without shoes? Seriously, HOW DO YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE WITHOUT SHOES? But I decided that a temper tantrum would help no one – so I sent Kate in without her shoes and took Anne to the doctor. They found Kate some shoes in the lost and found, and everyone was just. fine.

Life’s too short to worry over forgotten shoes. Life’s too short to stress over report cards and real estate agents (our house is on the market again).  This past weekend, my best friend and I took a road trip to a country music concert. We were surrounded by kids in plaid drinking beer. I felt very out of place. But we had FUN. And just like deciding not to freak out over Kate’s shoes, I had to make a decision to just relax and have fun. We laughed, danced, sang and laughed some more (especially at the plaid, drunk kids). It was good.

There was a moment during the concert when I experienced that rare sensation of standing still and watching the swirls. There were lights flashing and drums blaring and drunk boys screaming – and I just stood – and was grateful – for a life beyond the noise. Because in the middle of all the craziness… there is abundance of life. You just have to know where to look. Stand still, block out the swirling, and find the cross – rising above it all, singing its love song – and know peace.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress (Psalm 46:10-11).

What I saw in the window today

God’s Kingdom. I love to think about it. Anne’s accident has stirred this new interest in me. Most of the time… I feel like a child – lost in a snowy forest… crunch, crunch, crunching through the snow – searching and hoping. But when I read my bible – and I mean really sit and read and think about what I’m reading – it’s like I see a warm, welcoming cabin but with all the curtains drawn – and I get excited and curious – and then a small corner of the curtain opens – and there’s a figure… motioning for me to peek. And I do.

Have you ever thought of what the Jews expected of their “Messiah?” One of the first words Mary hears from the angel about her son, “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (emphasis mine). Her son would grow up and become a King. The word, king, represented something to Mary – and to all the Jews. Ruler, power, freedom from tyranny. They all hoped for it. Many still do.

Nathanael, one of the twelve, when he first meets Jesus, says to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” He expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and make Israel the most powerful nation on earth. All of the disciples expected this.

John 2-4 are fascinating chapters because these events happened before Jesus officially asked any of his disciples to be “disciples.” He hadn’t asked them to leave their nets, or homes or other jobs. A few men – we know of 5 for sure- just traveled with Jesus and watched. And John, being one of those 5 – gave us details that none of the other gospel writers did… like Jesus’ first miracle (John 2:1-12). It was AMAZINGLY… ordinary. He made wine from water to save the host from embarrassment, and nobody saw the miracle except Jesus’ ragged companions and the servants. …Doesn’t sound very king-like to me.

Then John takes us to Jerusalem for the Passover (John 2:12-22). Jesus seems to act like a mad-man, making a whip out of chords, driving all the animals from the temple and overturning tables. Money was literally scattered everywhere. Why? Even the Jews asked Him why; “Give us a miracle to show us you have the authority to do this,” they cried. And he speaks spiritually; “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it in three days.” The Jews take him literally, and they scoff, “It has taken 46 years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in 3 days?”

Why did he make such a public spectacle in the temple? I’ll tell you why – He. is. the. King. He’s not aiming to be King of just the land of Israel. That’s way too small for Him. His is a spiritual Kingdom – one that has no end, no limits. He comes into His place, and we watch as He overturns the spiritual leadership of the day.

John writes that later his disciples remembered what He had said and they believed. Later refers to… after the crucifixion, after the three agonizing days of despair, after the ressurection and after the ascension to when the Spirit came – and gave understanding. When we believe, His Spirit comes down and gives us understanding and makes our heart a temple – and Jesus comes in… and becomes King, overturning and scattering. Why? The answer lies in John’s next paragraph…

Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man (John 2:23-25).

He knows what is in me. It’s not always pretty. But He came anyway, while we were still sinners, and destroyed the old temple – and built a new one in three days. Jesus is building His Kingdom…

one lowly sinner,

one weak vessel, and

one sacrifice at a time.

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

How God prepared 7-year-old Canon

My fellow blogger and friend, Shelly, recently wrote, “If you want to make God laugh, just tell Him all about your plans for your life.”  HA! Isn’t that so true?

Eric is a big planner. Ever so often he’ll try to get me to sit down and think through short-term and long-term goals for our family. I think I’d rather have a stomach bug… seriously. But I can guarantee that neither one of us ever planned to be parenting a brain-injured child. Never. But mysteriously, God had it planned for us all along.

Looking back, I can see very specific ways God led our family to prepare us both financially and spiritually before that fatal April day.

A few months before the accident, I remember being struck with a deep gratitude by how extraordinarily good our lives were. Eric’s job was going exceptionally well. I was serving in our church in a deeply satisfying way. Anne had turned a corner on all her hyper-sensitivity issues and for the first time EVER – all three kids were thriving (at the same time ;-). We were surrounded by a tight community of friends from both church and the community. Every aspect of our lives… was good. I remember praying with Canon one night – thanking God for all the goodness in our lives and then asking God to give us the strength to persevere when hard times would come. Canon stopped my prayer to ask about these “hard times.” And so began a series of conversations we had over the next several weeks about hardship – and how it was inevitable for every believer. We talked about how God is glorified through hardship – how God builds our character through suffering. Canon was extremely interested in the topic. I just remember marveling at how thoughtful he seemed to be at only 7 years old.

Now I know that I should have been marveling at God… not Canon :-) It was God that was bending his heart and mind to thirst after such hard truths at so young an age. Just think about the kindness and gentleness of God to prepare little 7-year-old Canon for what only He knew was about to happen. Those conversations laid the foundation for all the painful talks after the accident about suffering and grief.

Our God is sovereign, and I am. so. grateful :-)

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11.

Inner disability

Disability… I never thought I would spend so much time thinking about this word.  Our modern world of tolerance likes to color-coat disability and say… “there’s nothing wrong with them… they are just different.” Hmphf. I totally disagree. There is something very wrong with Anne – and there is something very wrong with all the other children that we know that struggle with disability. Their bodies are broken. How can you look at a disabled CHILD and not think… “This is wrong!!! It’s not supposed to be this way!!!!!”

Well, it’s not supposed to be this way. Disability is just one symptom of our fallen world. Hunger, disease, poverty, apathy – they are all symptoms of the brokenness in our world… and in our hearts.

Anne just wears her brokenness on the outside… The rest of us can hide it deep-down on the inside. There is something wrong with Anne. And with me.

Bottomline… we are all spiritually disabled. Remember the story of Jesus healing the paralytic (from Matthew 9 and Mark 2)? He heals the man’s inner and outer disability. First, He forgives the man’s sins – and then He heals him physically. I’m thankful that Jesus does both!

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” 2 Corinthians 4:16.

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.

Still… Relentless

For Thanksgiving, I wanted to bring back a post I wrote a year ago…  about the relentlessness of disability. Out of all I’ve written in these last 19+ months… this is one of my favorites. Thankfully, Anne has improved in the last year, but the heart of this post – both my own desperate heart and God’s ever-faithful heart – are still the same. Thank you for praying for us so faithfully! And Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

November 23, 2010
I’ve been a bit discouraged lately about something (that will probably sound strange) …Anne’s feet. I’ve always taken feet for granted. I find myself watching people’s feet now – how without even thinking about it, people can place their feet flat on the floor – without their ankles rolling or without going up on their tiptoes. I watch Kate jump – and I’m just amazed at the complexity of the brain – working the muscles and controlling the balance just so – to actually jump and land – solidly on flat feet.

Anne’s feet are always pointed in and down. She can’t stand without braces to hold her feet at a 90 degree angle and to keep her ankles from rolling. It takes a minimum of 10 minutes for me to stretch her feet to fit in her braces. I can’t just get Anne out of bed and stand her up – no, I have to carry her everywhere until I have the space in my day to stretch her feet out.

Why do I mention this? Well… Anne’s feet represent to me the relentlessness* of disability. It never ends. It’s constant and always with you.

As I was complaining about Anne’s feet to her (awesome) PT this morning, she gently reminded me to be thankful for Anne’s feet… “They’ve improved, Kathryn.” She’s right. I should be thankful :-)

But here’s what I’m really thankful for. I’m thankful that I have to care for a child with a disability. I’m thankful for the relentlessness of it – because it is a physical manifestation* of who I am and who I have always been – completely dependent on God.

Before the accident, I could deceive myself and live as though I didn’t need God – live as if I were not broken and completely dependent on God. We are ALL broken and in need of a saviour, but it’s so easy to live independently of God.

Grieving and caring for Anne is so challenging that rarely am I not aware of my need for Him. And you know what is amazing? Yes, Anne’s needs are relentless – they are always there, but God is more relentless. He pursues me. He comforts me. He comforts Anne. He gives us strength, joy and perseverance. He helps us stay in the moment and not be overwhelmed by the future. HE IS OUR EVERPRESENT HELP IN THIS TIME OF TROUBLE. He is near. He is my God. That is what I am thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving :-) -kathryn

*A few thoughts from this post came from Stephanie Hubach’s book on disability called, Same Lake, Different Boat . I borrowed the word ‘relentless’ from Stephanie’s book. I really resonated with that word… Also the idea of disability being an outward representation of our inner brokenness came from Same Lake, Different Boat . Thanks Stephanie!