Morning Confession

I woke up today tired and poured out. I just wanted to climb back into bed with my blanket and let someone else be the mom for awhile. It has been such a difficult week and I just didn’t think I could bear up anymore. Alas, such thoughts are only a fantasy because responsibilities are waiting and I must bear up and press on, so I went to the computer to turn on a song which speaks to my heart and pour out my troubles in song to the Lord. When I did, this picture was waiting for me on the desktop.10712722_892717707405914_1318212237148835834_n It was God the Father, waiting to meet me at my point of need. He sees me. He knows. He loves me and is for me. He is waiting for me and we will face this day together.

From time to time, people will say to me, “You are _______________. I don’t know how you do it,” and I recoil because I am not, I really am not. Can I get a witness? I AM NOT. But God…. The Great I AM, HE IS.

I don’t like being this raw, this exposed; but 2 Cor. 1: 3-4 says

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

No matter how alone I feel, and trust me there are days when I feel utterly alone, I know I am not alone. There are many others struggling to find the strength to face this day and I say to you, we are not alone. God sees you. He knows. He loves you and is for you. He is waiting and you can face this day together. And you know what? I am rooting for you too.

 

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Open Mouth, Insert Foot

I was running late for my hair appointment today.  I had everything planned to work out just fine, but my execution was off due to two girls who decided to play with friends without checking in with me, so when it was time to leave homeschool coop today, I had to go looking for them, and I was running late.

I blew into the salon, sat down at the sprayer sink, and started chattering away with a pent up fury of a woman who has gone way too long without getting away by herself and feeling  just a bit stressy.

When I paused to catch my breath, the sweet woman who has cut my hair for the past several years began to speak.  She spoke with pent up anguish which needed release.

Her best friend had been recently diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer and would be starting treatments soon.  She had been asked to shave her friend’s head and didn’t know how she would be able to bring herself to do it.  She was struggling with pain and fear and guilt for feeling these things.

My “problems” suddenly seemed really small.  Sure, we live with uncertainty, and a constant level of chaos, I mean madness, I mean stress; but it is not life and death.  It is not.

She attacked my hair with all the pent up pain and fear and guilt and anger at cancer that she had been carrying.  When she finished, my hair was a little bit shorter than I was planning on and a little bit more layered than I like, but I do not have cancer.  My hair is not going to fall out.  It will grow back and life will go on.  I asked her if I could pray with her and so there, in the salon, as her next customer came in, we prayed.  I was able to share my experiences with the cancer center she was working with and how much respect I had for them.  It is the same center, the same doctor who took care of Edmund.

3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)

Because we walked the cancer road with John’s father, I had some idea of how the chemotherapy would affect her friend and we talked about some practical things her daughters could shop for to make a care basket. (Boost, peppermints, fiber-con, books/dvds,etc.)

People are hurting everywhere.  Oh Father, please open my eyes and take them off of myself.  I cannot be an instrument of Your healing if all I am concerned with is my own comfort.  I cannot be an instrument of Your healing if I talk more than I listen.  Thank You for putting Your hand over my mouth and giving me a brief window into someone else’s life today.

Order my days, O Lord…

These are not the days I had planned on having.  With two weeks left in my pregnancy, I had planned on staying at home as much as possible and working hard as a family to get as much of our homeschooling done as possible so we could all enjoy a well-deserved rest.  In an uncharacteristic-for-me move I had even arranged for others to take Mavis to both of her doctor appointments this week so that I could concentrate as much as possible on my kids.

And then yesterday hit. Continue reading

Press On

I’ve been feeling rather tired lately.  It’s not surprising…physically my body craves rest as it is getting ready for the birth of our child.  Emotionally, I’m still very much a hormone soup.  Unfortunately, as I’ve become aware of the problem of complaining in our home, I can pretty much guess who the kids are modeling after (guilty!) and in times of “honest communication” with my dh, I’m none too pleased with what has been coming out of my mouth at times.  Something, no Someone has got to change and that change has got to start with me. 

As I was perusing some of my favorite blogs this afternoon, I came across the following at the Rebelution:

“It is a lot like the popular illustration in which a speaker will invite a member of the audience onto the stage, usually a guy who thinks he is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and ask him whether or not he can lift some small object, such as a canned food item. Once the participant confidently asserts his ability to do so the speaker requests that he hold the item straight out from his body and continue to do so until the speaker tells him to stop.

While the participant might initially feel confident he quickly begins to realize that it requires more and more effort with every passing second to keep the object in the air. The test of strength is not to ask him to lift some extraordinary amount of weight, but instead to hold a small amount of weight for an extended period of time.

This is the way it sometimes works with small things. As we are faithful in small things God will always ask more of us, but not always by giving us bigger things to do. Instead He might do so by asking us to remain faithful in the small things we are already doing.

As impressive as bigger (i.e. heavier) things may be, the greatest test of strength is to endure with whatever weight you’ve been given. God can be just as glorified by someone who endures to the end with five pounds than He can by someone who lifts 500 pounds once. That’s the kind of God we serve.”

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.  But one thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which god has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Phil. 3:12-14, emphasis mine)

Thank you Father, with Your help I will press on.

Suspended between two worlds….

World #1:  Since Edmund’s passing this summer, my dear mother-in-law has become increasingly dependent on our family in general and me in particular.  My role as caretaker has definately been kicked up a notch or two.  I’m not complaining…this is what I expected and what I willingly signed on for.  Mavis is a much-loved extension of our own family, being effortlessly absorbed into whatever we happen to be doing that evening.  Fortunately for us, she is easy to please, just enjoying being a part of normal family life.

World #2:  I am in the throes of 1st trimester pregnancy symptoms.  The “morning” sickness which comes and goes all day long and the never-ending fatigue are my constant companions.  Physically, I’m not up to keeping everything running the way it should.  By the time Mavis comes over in the afternoon after the homemaker has gone home, I am pretty well wrung out.  Being the person she is, she delights in doing whatever her hands find to do, whether it is washing a sinkful of dishes or folding a basket or two of laundry.  Without her help on a daily basis, I’m afraid the house would get out of control pretty quickly.

I have been struggling with this suspension between two worlds for a couple of weeks now…I am supposed to be taking care of her, she is not supposed to be taking care of me.  I have felt like I am taking advantage of her somehow.  In reality it is God who is  taking care of both of us.  How creative of our God to take her strengths and use them to meet my need and give her a sense of usefulness and purpose at the same time.  How creative of our God to take what strengths I offer to give back in some small way to a woman who has given so much to our family over the years.

Turn the Corner, A Sad Goodbye

hospital.jpegTomorrow will mark two weeks since my very much loved father-in-law passed away.  The new chemotherapy medication he was on combined with the myeloma already in his bone marrow suppressed his production of white blood cells until he developed pneumonia.  The doctors did everything within human ability and medical science, but the Lord started shutting down his body, giving us all fair warning He was calling Edmund Home.  All of John’s brothers and sisters were home his final week in the hospital and my mother and sisters selflessly took care of my children any time I asked them to so that I could be at the hospital the entire time.  The picture above was taken on Thursday of his final week (with a cell phone hence the poor quality) when he rallied for a brief time.  His organ systems quickly began shutting down the following day.

The Sunday before he passed, John’s brother James (a pastor) conducted a very brief church service in the ICU.  We sang “Blessed Assurance”, Nathan read some selected scriptures, and James gave us all communion with a bagel from the hospital cafeteria and some leftover Sangria smuggled in from the previous evening’s dinner.  (The wine was served in medication cups and the children were given water).  It was simultaneously exceedingly funny and exceedingly holy.  We later commented that our family had broken all of the hospital’s rules in one morning. 

In the week that followed I was surprised by the depth of my grief, the all-suffieciency of God’s grace, and the generosity of friends and neighbors.

God has begun to show us Mavis’ new needs in a life without Edmund and has begun to unfold His plan for meeting those needs.  It is not by the way, what I had envisioned nor what John’s siblings had envisioned, but something entirely different, reminding me that our ways are not His and that His thoughts are infinitely higher than ours.

Thank me not…

There have been several posts dancing around in my head over the past couple of weeks but I have been short on the time to put them coherently into a thought, much less a complete post.  Hopefully I can combine them here.

Whenever I do a service for my in-laws (like deliver medicine or take them to an appointment) because they are such wonderful people, they thank me proficiently.  They take nothing for granted–ever.  Similarly, I have had conversations with nurses at the Cancer Care center who remark how lucky they are to have me..that what I do is really unusual.  Both of these things make me really uncomfortable.  I do not want to be thanked because what I do seems as natural as breathing; I could not imagine anything else.  I do not want others to see me as really wonderful, because I’m not–I’m just a sinner and fellow struggler like everyone else.

Recently, God has begun to bring light and clarity to how things really are.  Indeed, I am not really wonderful or worthy of profound thanks; because it is not me but God who has been at work all this time.  My love isn’t any deeper or my heart any purer than anyone else’s facing the issue of elder care…indeed I echo the Apostle Paul and say less so!  But God has been at work all this time.  He was the One who situated us uniquely to live in separate houses but within feet of each other; so that each family may keep their autonomy while allowing me to be involved in their daily care on a level I can only describe as fluid. He was the One at work, instilling in John and my hearts a desire for me to be an at-home mom long before we even met one another.  He was the One who called us as a family to a life of homeschooling, bringing our last child home from public school just before we learned of his parents’ health conditions. Without the freedom that homeschooling allows, I know that Gabe and Nathan could not have taken such good care of their grandparents, shoveling snow covered sidewalks or doing odd jobs.  I know that being confined by the public school’s schedule would have limited my care (and severely added to my stress level) needing to be home by a certain time to meet the bus.

And the grace! the grace!  God in His mercy has abundantly lavished His grace on me.  There is no way I could manage all the responsibilities I have unless it was through His daily, sustaining, all-sufficient grace.  There are days when God’s grace is so palpable, that I feel like I’m just along for the ride (and that’s just fine by me!) 

So thank me not; it is not me who has been at work, but God working in our lives on their behalf.  It is He who deserves the thanks.