Reminding Myself…God is in Control

The other night I dreamed that Anne could walk. I woke up that morning overwhelmed with joy which was quickly replaced with disappointment, but in the end, I decided to land on “hopeful.” In my half-awake state, I heard Anne calling from her bedroom, “Mommmm! I need to go to the bathroom!!!” Bleary eyed, I walked to Anne’s room, only to find her – not in her bed – but in the hall, right outside the bathroom. She can scoot to the bathroom, but she has never done it in such a purposeful way before.

I’m a firm believer in the sovereignty of God. If I look at the seemingly random events of my life through the lens of God’s sovereignty, sometimes I see patterns. That morning, Anne’s purposeful scooting to the bathroom immediately after my dreaming of her walking – seemed like a pattern. I would never go so far as to think it was a promise that Anne would walk! (The Bible doesn’t promise that!!) But…I do think it was a loving reminder that God sees the longing of my heart and cares. I was encouraged as I reflected on God’s sovereignty and could feel myself relax as I thought…God is in control.

I’ve also been encouraged by Anne’s progress in therapy. Her walking has dramatically improved. She is standing much straighter and crouching much less. Her endurance has also improved. The first day, she was able to stand for only 2-3 minutes. Today, she stood for 15 minutes. She also walked for 20 minutes (with support) on the treadmill. Her step size has increased as well as the speed of her walking. Also, she is propelling and steering her new walker independently. We typically see these kinds of dramatic improvements a few months after therapy. To see so much drastic improvement during therapy is very encouraging! See…God is in control!

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Anne with her new walker

Anne’s last day of intensive therapy is Friday. This session has flown by and seemed much easier to manage than in years past. That’s due in part to good friends who have offered to drive Anne for me a few times each week. I have been lifted and sustained by the body of Christ. Another reminder that God is in control!!

Looking forward, Anne will start three months of therapy in CHOA’s multi-million dollar robotics lab in February. She responded very well to their Physical Therapy program 1 1/2 years ago. So, I’m excited to see Anne continue to gain strength and stability this spring. I’m thankful that I can trust God to provide all that Anne will need exactly when she will need it. Afterall, He is in control ;)

From the Intense to the Mundane

Anne finished Intensive TheraSuit therapy this week…fifteen sessions spread out over four weeks. She worked on strengthening her left side….

and in the process, gained confidence to aid her in balance and walking.

Anne LOVED the therapy saying, “I’m sad it’s over, Mamma.”

In some ways, I am too. The past two months I’ve been hyper-focused – first on planning for suit therapy (lots of logistics involved in caring for Canon and Kate while I’m in therapy with Anne) – and second on pushing through the crazy schedule.

We’ve had lots of help…co-workers provided meals, family and friends provided rides for Canon and Kate…we were even blessed with anonymous Christmas gifts for our entire family! God has provided through the love and care of His people.

But now that the hustle is over, I find myself looking forward…there are no intense schedules to coordinate or complicated logistic puzzles to solve. Only the normal grind of everyday life.

I wonder what extraordinary things God will do in the midst of my ordinary schedule? He loves to surprise me with unexpected gifts – sweet joys in the middle of gray, winter days. In the middle of the mundane, I will watch for His blessings :)

We wait in hope for the Lord,

he is our help and our shield.

In him our hearts rejoice,

for we trust in his holy name.

Psalm 33: 20-21

Happy 2016!

A hope deferred

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life (Proverbs 13:12).

Lately my heart has felt sick. Not necessarily sad or mad…just “sick.” It hit me today that I’ve been placing my hope in the wrong things…

Now before I continue, I need to clarify the word “hope.” Hope means to expect with confidence. It’s not just wishful thinking – or dreaming of what you want to come true. It’s expecting it to happen. The book of Hebrews calls hope, “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Heb. 6:19).

So… when I place my hope in things that aren’t sure and steadfast, my heart becomes sick…

I’ve been hoping for Anne to improve. I’ve been hoping for Anne to break through that invisible barrier and start reading. I’ve been hoping for Anne to walk. Now those are wonderful desires and worthy goals to work toward, but I can’t place my hope in Anne walking! Anne walking is not a sure and steadfast anchor of my soul!!! And when I make it so, my heart gets pulled under by the counterfeit anchor.

What should be the only sure and steadfast anchor of my soul??? (I shouldn’t even have to write this, but I will) … Jesus. His life, His death, His resurrection, His promises, His forgiveness, His grace, His mercy, His, His, His!

Anne is in His hands. And He has His purposes for her life. I need to hope in Him, not in Anne’s improvement.

Not that we won’t keep working toward the goals of reading and walking!! We will most definitely persevere!!! But it’s much easier to work toward those goals when I take my hope off of the 9-year-old-disabled-girl and put my hope on The God of the Universe!

Yes, I think God is the safer bet. Don’t you? ;)

Silly musings about flying

Sometimes I just want to fly – but I’m grounded. I’m grounded by responsibility. I’m grounded by disability. I’m grounded by lack of vision, purpose. I’m grounded by a small heart closed up in my small world of caring for my small children.

But Anne’s not small. Her heart is large. She loves. She laughs. And she longs. She’s grounded too. Yet she flies. How does she do that?

In my years of being a Christian, all I’ve ever wanted is for my life to count for something larger than myself. To multiply my small efforts and make a difference in this world. I’ve longed for purpose. I want to matter.

I look back at my life – and I’ve tried to fly. I’ve pursued things that seemed to matter. But God always pushes me back down to earth – back to my home – back to my family – back to sitting with Anne. The Anne who can’t walk – who is absolutely dependent for every significant movement. This Anne. This life. Does it matter? I think God wants to show me that it does. I think He’s trying to teach me. I think I’m a slow learner.

Somehow, I need to learn to fly while grounded. For now, I’ll ask for help to obey in the moment. And maybe one day, I’ll look back and see that each step of obedience was a slow ascent to flight. And I’ll laugh. And so will Anne. And we will fly together.

In the middle

Mommy, why did God let that stupid car crash happen? How could God really love me?

How do you answer your little girl when she asks these types of questions? Complicating matters is the fact that Kate, who is now 6 years old, is beginning to ask the same questions. Kate was only 3 when it all happened. I’ve spent much time praying for direction on how to lead such a young child through the grief of losing her sister. Kate is finally able to process it all.

The other night as I was putting the girls to bed, Kate was saying her prayers. Kate always prays for Anne. She asks God to help Anne get “all better,” for Anne to walk again, for God to heal her left arm, for Anne to dance and run again. Every night it’s the same, except this time, Kate stopped and asked, “If Anne does walk again, will Anne’s head be better too?” In other words, if Anne gets better physically, will she get better mentally? Kate was essentially asking, “Will Anne ever be ‘normal’ again?”.

How do you answer your little girl when she asks these types of questions?

I tell both girls the truth. “I don’t know.” And then I tell them about the idea of story.

“Kate, think about the story of Cinderella, and how hard her life was. Her evil step mother made her work like a slave. Cinderella didn’t know the end of the story. She didn’t know that she would marry the prince and live happily ever-after. When you are living in the middle of a story, you don’t know the end, and that is hard.

But, who is writing Anne’s story? God is writing Anne’s story, and he knows the end. God’s word assures us that the end is a good one, a ‘happily ever after’ one, but while we are living in the middle of this story, it is hard. We just have to trust that God has a good plan for Anne, and a good plan for you, and then we do the best we can while we wait for the end of the story.”

Anne and Kate’s beds are very close to each other. There is barely enough room for me to kneel down between them. But when I squeeze in to kneel beside one bed, I can reach behind and touch the other. As I was kneeling with Kate, telling her how God is weaving Anne’s story, I was rubbing Anne’s back with my other hand. And Anne was still. She was listening… taking in the truth that God is writing her story, and that her story is good.

Staying in the story

A book I’ve been reading, A Praying Life, uses the concept of story to paint how God chooses to answer or not answer our prayers.

Many times we get discouraged by unanswered prayer – but if we take a wide angle view, we begin to understand that God is weaving His story into our lives… if we let Him. Each day we have the choice to join the BIG story of God saving the world and us along with it – or to put blinders on and just survive the day. If you’re anything like me (and let’s hope you’re not) I jump in and out of the story throughout the day.

I typically start the day in a stupor – feebly asking for help to get through the day – and then carpool begins, and then my real challenge begins… Kate. I’m homeschooling Kate this year because she’s been neglected since Anne’s accident – and it shows. Every day is different – except for the tears. I think one of us has cried every day since school started… except for last Thursday – and that’s just because she was gone on a field trip all day.

Kate’s stubborn and angry heart is like hitting a wall – which leads me to pray. There is no way I can change her heart – that can only be done by God. And then other times, the same wall that causes me to pray – makes me frustrated and angry, and I feel like screaming (which I have done a few times). So, I’m jumping in and out of the story – I jump in – and admit my helplessness and beg God to give me wisdom.. and patience. I need lots of patience… and then I jump out and fail miserably – which leads me to jump back in and ask God for forgiveness and help.

The good news is that God is gracious – and during this time of wrestling with both Kate’s and my own heart, He is patient and waiting for me to turn to Him. I find when I start the day admitting my desperate need to shepherd Kate and begging Him to give her a soft, teachable heart – well sometimes, Kate is her old, sweet self again, delightful, joyful and fun. And other times, she is hard, but we are able to work through the stubbornness and find submission. God is there, waiting to help me.

A little consistency would be nice. I need help staying in the story.

Resting in the moment

Life is made up of moments. In the midst of suffering, the only way to live is-

moment.
to.
moment.

Thinking of getting through the day or even through the next hour can be overwhelming. Living at the hospital following Anne’s accident taught me to live in the present, with my eyes fixed on the moment at hand.

Now that we have settled into our new normal, most of my moments tend to revolve around Anne. So in the middle of the relentless job of caring for a disabled child, if I happen to have a lighthearted, fun moment – well, I sit up and notice. It’s a gift. And I don’t take those rare, oh-so-good moments for granted.

I just had one with Kate. She’s fascinated with Olympic swimming. Have you seen the Swim Team’s “Call Me Maybe” video? We just watched it :-)

Another good moment from the summer… Playing in the pool with Kate and looking over to see Canon sitting under an umbrella with Anne, blowing bubbles – everyone had smiles. That was a good moment.

And I guess this is where I struggle, it’s hard to have those idyllic moments with the whole family. Anne rarely contends with being anything other than the center of everything. And as much as I love her, my moments with her require enormous amounts of patience. She’s been especially rotten and demanding today. And I’m out of patience. It’s gone, and I’m spent.

She’s up in her bed, hollering for me…  “Mama!!!!! Mamaaaaaaaa!!!!!” I wish I could just sit here and watch the Olympics with my family and ignore her. But it’s hard. And I’m tired.

So that’s my moment. Tired mama, trying to ignore the cries of her little girl and longing to just sit and watch some Olympics. Where is God in moments like this? Right smack in the center – loving us and molding us into the people He wants us to be. In every moment, I have a choice… ignore God or acknowledge Him. Acknowledging Him- and His loving hand in every aspect of my life – lifts my eyes past my circumstances, past my tiredness and helps me to rest… even as I get up to see what in the world Anne is hollering about now ;-)

Waiting

Imagine…

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.

Conference Time!

I get a small break this weekend! I am attending our denomination’s national women’s conference, and it just happens to be 10 minutes from my home! Woo Hoo!

I’m excited because the main speaker is Nancy Guthrie. Her book, Hearing Jesus Speak into Your Sorrow, has been extremely helpful for me as I’ve wrestled with all of my “why” questions. Losing two infants to a rare genetic disorder, she is well acquainted with loss and sorrow. Her answers were deeply satisfying.

I enjoy her writing because she has the unique ability to couple lofty theological truths with her own personal story. She covers several hard questions… Why did God let this happen? Why doesn’t God heal? Does God even care? – but every answer reveals that God cares more about our eternity than our immediate comfort. If you’re a mom, you are familiar with impatience (in our children). And really, if you’re a person you can relate to impatience – because our culture and “delayed gratification” do not mix! So the bible’s timeless message of persevering through difficulty and waiting to attain a greater reward is a much needed reminder for me :-)

So I’ll let you know how it goes!

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!!