I’m so thankful that I spent the first 5 1/2 years of Anne’s life in blissful ignorance. She was a precious child. She still is… just different.
I’ve learned so much in the months following the accident. We must lose our life to gain it… in other words, self-sacrifice is the key to living life to its full. Because of God’s great love for us, he removes the idols of our hearts and gives us great suffering to force our gaze to Him alone. And in return, we find Him all that is good and satisfying… but at Great. Cost.
I look forward to heaven when all the loss and sacrifice will be turned upside down and there will only be fullness and joy. Yes, I look forward to that day!
Yesterday, I wrote about Zechariah and how God brought good from his unbelief when his new son, John, was baptized.
Because of all the miracles surrounding John’s birth and baptism, the people wandered about John. “What then will this child be?” John the Baptist lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. His dress and diet were typical of a poor desert dweller. His fiery words wouldn’t score him any popularity points. John was not rich in the things of this earth, but he was “strong in SPIRIT” (Luke 1:80).
John the Baptist was no earthly good, yet God used John… MIGHTILY to prepare the people for repentance and faith in Jesus.
This is so typical of God’s Kingdom. The economy is different. Money, power and fame don’t get you very far in God’s Kingdom. His currency is humility, compassion and obedience. Whenever I think about the “upside-down-ness” of God’s Kingdom, I think about Anne…
Anne’s brain injury has stripped her of all earthly good. But she is STRONG… in Spirit! I take great comfort in this truth. It makes me wonder, “What then will this child be?” I don’t expect her to be the next John the Baptist! But I do hope that God has big plans for my simple little girl :-)
I’ve been reading through the gospels lately. I was tempted to skim through the birth account in Luke, but something made me slow down… Zechariah. You know the priest who went to the temple and an angel appeared to him and said he was going to have a son, and to name him John – and then Zechariah didn’t believe him, so the angel made him mute. Remember him? :-)
It just kinda hit me that maybe Zechariah was made mute to develop his character. God just wasn’t being mean – it was actually a loving act of discipline. When the baby was born, Zechariah obeyed God by ensuring his name was “John,” and his speech was returned in the presence of many witnesses, thus God received GLORY.
God is also glorified through the private goings-on in Zechariah’s heart during those 9 long months. I imagine Zechariah’s heart was changed from unbelief to repentance to grumbling to surrender to contentment to anticipation to praise. Whatever happened in Zechariah, it was good! God’s glory was also revealed not only in the miraculous return of Zechariah’s voice – but that his first words were not cursing God for the hardship but blessing and prophesy…
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David (Luke 1:68-69).
God took Zechariah’s unbelief, pressed it down and multiplied it into more good than Zechariah could muster in his muteness. God’s good at that. And I love the people’s response!
And a fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him (Luke 1:65-66).
What then will this child be???? I’ll write about that tomorrow :-)
Last weekend, I attended our church’s women’s retreat. It was AWESOME! The weather was gorgeous. I got to canoe and hike. We didn’t have any fancy-schmancy speaker… just women from our church teaching and sharing. That’s the best kind of retreat (in my humble opinion ;-)
Anwhitney Culpepper talked about the power of God’s presence. Her testimony was powerful as she shared how hardship had driven her into the presence of God. Interestingly, she compared herself with Jonah – and how he ran from God’s presence when given a difficult lot. And I thought, “yeah, I do that.”
I’ve been living life on the surface lately… Avoiding going down into self-sacrifice and grief.
But Anwhitney said something that was like a knife to my gut… She said, “Don’t be afraid of that hardship… For that is the fast-train to the heart of God.” She’s so right. So I’m trying to enter in – to feel again.
I rest on Job 23:10…
But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
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.
Canon is studying medieval times at school. Friday’s assignment was to create his own family crest. The students were given lots of options… including colors, animals and objects all listed with its respective symbolic meaning. Canon put a lot of thought into his shield and chose symbols that had special meaning to him and to our family. Here’s his shield:
And here is Canon’s explanation…
Here is a list of the things I chose and their meaning:
- Black: grief (I chose black because of all the grief we’ve had since my sister, Anne’s, car accident)
- Gold: generosity (I chose gold because of all the generosity people have shown us since the car accident.)
- Lion: courage (I chose the lion because we have to have courage to get over what happened to Anne.)
- Wolf: perseverance (I chose the wolf because we have to have perseverance to keep hoping that Anne will continue to heal.)
- Horse: duty (I chose the horse because if you want to be a believer of Christ you have to be ready to do his bidding.)
- Fox: wisdom ( I chose the fox because we need God’s wisdom to make good decisions for Anne and the rest of our family.)
I think all of these things are characteristics of our family.
I’m so thankful that Canon thinks deeply about the spiritual implications of Anne’s accident. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him!!!!
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!!
I found myself doing normal tasks this morning. And then I thought, “What is normal, anyway?” Dictionary.com has something to say about this…
Normal: conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural
“not abnormal” Gotta love that! So not helpful. Anyway… Normal depends on a standard. Again, not very helpful – since they’re tons of standards and they’re all really different!
I was listening to the radio as I was doing my “normal” tasks. Laura Story’s Blessings was sailing through the upstairs bedrooms… “We pray for blessings.” I make the bed. “We pray for peace.” I unload the dryer. “We doubt your goodness.” I start paying attention. “We doubt your love.” Yeah. I do that. “As if every promise from your word is not enough.” Ouch.
As followers of Jesus, our standard is the Bible. We define normal from God’s Word. I’m still struggling a bit with this new normal – Is it normal for families to suffer. More specifically, is it normal for children to suffer? Unfortunately, yes.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world. John 16:33
What’s the promise? He has overcome! This is our temporary home. There will be a day…
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away. Revelation 21:4
In short, Anne wrestles with God …and it’s good.
She is constantly asking questions about God…
When we get to heaven, will we still need God?
What does God’s face look like?
What is mercy?
What is the lamb of God?
She reminds me of a curious four year old, but all of her questions center around Jesus. I’m so thankful. She still struggles with God’s goodness. She often says that God doesn’t love her or help her. Or she’ll say, “I’m done with God – because he let the car crash happen.” But then she’ll look up at me and say, “But I do love Him, mommy.”
She’s wrestling. We all wrestle with God’s goodness, we just don’t have the courage to admit it :-) Anne doesn’t have the luxury of hiding. She can’t inhibit herself from talking… you always know what she’s thinking. Thankfully, she has a safe place to wrestle. There is no condemnation in this home – we do not blindly accept God’s goodness. No, my prayer is that God will bring her out on the other side, stronger and more convinced of His goodness and love for her – able to face more of this life’s hardships. And yes Anne… we will still need God when we get to heaven :-)
This past Sunday was my week to sing in the worship ensemble at church. It’s rare that I love all the songs we sing on a given morning. There might be one song that really resonates with me …on a good Sunday, maybe two or three – but never all of them :-) But this past Sunday was different. It’s like Greg (our worship director) handpicked my favorite songs – interspersed them with my favorite scripture – and then asked the Holy Spirit to give me a supernatural ability to hear all the harmonies so I could sing without thinking too hard. It was amazing :-)
Here’s a recap of my morning… Continue reading