Monthly Archives: December 2011

Enough

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In retrospect of 2011, I’m frankly just glad to have survived.  If I were an animal, I would probably be a turtle or an ostrich, you know, the hiding kind.  An animal that hides. That would adequately describe me.  I remember well entering 2011.  Justin had had a near brush with death  and Lydia had just been diagnosed with glaucoma and had her first, and I was certain LAST surgery.  I wasn’t stressed at all by her diagnosis, and I staunchly refused to read any of the glaucoma related material, because turtle that I am, we were not going to have to enter that realm.  My heart went out to those that had to teach their child Braille and caning, but fortunately, that wasn’t going to be me.  God knew what I could handle, and I had really been through it in 2010, so I was certain He wouldn’t ask me to go through more.

Here’s a little reality check, that saying, “God doesn’t give you more than you can handle”, is neither Biblical nor accurate.  And if you feel that it is, I beg you, transport me to your reality.  Check your Bible, it’s not there.  He doesn’t promise that we won’t have more than we can handle, nor does He promise that we will have a respite from heartache, or hospitals, or tradgedies.  He does promise that His grace is sufficient.  He does promise that He is ENOUGH.  Sufficient, enough, adequate, ample, SATISFIED, all adjectives of one another.  A beautiful word, from a beautiful Savior.  He is enough for me.

“And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

There are lots of moments this year that I am not proud of.  Moments that I hid in my shell, trying to figure out how to survive.  I have never taken a picture of Lydia in her hospital gown or going into, or coming out of surgery.  They were moments I never wanted to remember, and they would have been images, I wasn’t sure I would be able to gaze upon.  I wasn’t there for my boys like I should have been.  Many times this year, I have seen pieces of their heart that I was loosing.  I have spent countless nights praying over their sleeping forms, begging God to show me how to let them know they are just as important to me as she is.  Begging Him to give me back the pieces of them I was loosing.  Balancing is an art I’ve never mastered, and when you throw into the mix of running a business and homeschooling, a child with lots of therapies and special needs, to say that I’ve failed in just about every area would be an understatement of grotesque porportions.  My goals of organization and keeping up with the laundry and the house, are a distant memory, as I grappled to just survive.  Stepping tenatively outside of my shell, putting one foot in front of the other, and looking back on the year, I realize, that He was enough for me.  The pain was still there, the stress, and lonliness, but somehow, He blessed me with His grace, and carried me with His strength, and He was enough.

As I look forward to 2012, I wish I had the optimism I once carried, but to say that I do would be a lie.  I know it will bring more surgeries.  I know it will bring things that are too hard for me to bear.  I know I will struggle and cry and bury my head in the sand.  I will fail.  But, He is ENOUGH for me.  He will pour His grace into the cracks and crevices of my life.  He will be my strength in my darkest and weakest hours.  He has proven Himself again and again.  Yes, He is enough for me.

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Feliz Navidad

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This year Justin and I decided to do something different for Christmas.  Convicted by our own materialism, and full of the knowledge that we have been blessed beyond measure by others generosity to us, in lieu of giving to one another, we decided to find another family and give to them.  Now, before you start believing a lie that we are unselfish people, let me take a moment and dispel that myth.

It was love at first sight.  The moment I spotted it, I knew it would look awesome on me.  I envisioned myself in this coveted fur vest, and determined then and there that I would start heavily hinting to Justin about it.  Over the last few months, I would wait for the appropriate moment and start dropping my hints.  It sounded something like this.  “So, when I was Marshall’s the other day, I saw the COOLEST fur vest.”  Each time I mentioned it, he would set his face, in what I assumed was deep concentration, and say, “Fur, huh?”  I was unconcerned that he was only getting one word of the equation, after being married for 12 years, I learned long ago to start my coaching well in advance.  Each time I would go into Marshall’s, I would take note of the details, and drop more specifics for my sweetheart.  However, I noticed an alarming pattern was developing.  His response was always the same, “Fur, huh?”  So I began to respond with even more elaborations that went something like this, “Yes, and it has blue, almost feather looking fur, with a zipper that zips up the front (as if it would zip anywhere else in a vest, but I wasn’t taking any chances).”  Same response.  As Christmas drew nearer, I began to panic.  I swear the only word he was hearing was fur.  This could end badly for me.  Rather than my awesome fur vest, that I knew I would rock out, I could very well end up with a fur hat that looked like Davy Crockett.  And girls, you know if there is any hope of ever getting another gift, I would HAVE to wear the thing!  My glorious images of me on girl’s night in my awesome vest began to change to horrifying images of me wearing a Davy Crockett hat.  It was then that I knew it would take the Star of David and quite possibly a heavenly choir to lead the man to the correct aisle and vest in Marshall’s.  And so friends, you see, my decision to forgo Christmas gifts was hardly heroic or unselfish, but it was, absolutely, the best Christmas ever.

And so it came to be that our Christmas gifts this year are under the tree in a small room of a terminally ill 14-year-old girl in the Ronald McDonald House in Philadelphia.  We had felt the Lord tugging at our heart to give to others, but we weren’t sure who.  We tossed around some ideas, all good, but none seemed the right fit.  And then, seemingly by chance, I met her.  We were waiting for breakfast to be served, and her parents were asking about Lyddie girl.  With tear filled eyes they listened as I shared bits and pieces of our story.  Then, in broken English, they told me theirs.  They are from Puerto Rico, and are here for several months.  They showed pictures of their ‘baby’ with a shaved head full of staples.  The tumor wrapped itself around her optic nerve and she lost complete vision in one of her eyes.

She came over and was trying to cheer me up about Lydia, by telling me that she lost her vision as well.  In an attempt at bravery for both of us, I decided to list all of the awesome amazing blind people I knew of.  I think I came up with a couple, and she mentioned some singer from her country.  I did not know his name, but she insisted I would know his song, and proceeded in the middle of the dining hall to burst into “Feliz Navidad”.  I didn’t want her to have to sing by herself, so I attempted to join in and proceeded to absolutely butcher every single Spanish word in the song.  And then, there I was, in the middle of a moment I didn’t know how I would ever smile again, LAUGHING.  I knew then, at that moment, that God was pointing to her, and to her sweet family.  This was the family we could give to.  She is special this one.

It was with great gusto that I threw myself back into the mind of a 14-year-old girl.  Body glitter, lotions, gaudy jewelry, big purse, games, and sweets were purchased with delight.  I giggled the whole time Justin and I and the boys wrapped the gifts.  All of us got into the excitement.  By far the best gift ever, was watching their faces when we delivered them.  It’s not Christmas yet, so we insisted they wait to open the packages.  My little friend was very literally dancing in delight.  Hugs and kisses were given and lots of pictures were taken.

Sometimes there are days when I want to ask the Lord why He allows things like diseases to ravage and ruin the bodies of these little children.  And then there are days like today, when I want to ask Him, why He would be so good to allow me to be a part of such beauty.  A few days ago, I didn’t know this family existed, and now, I was spending the most beautiful Christmas with the most beautiful family.  Oh, HE has blessed me.

After hugs and thanks were given, my little friend burst into “Feliz Navidad”. If I concentrate, I can still hear her, so full of life, singing the chorus.  “I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!”…

He is Nigh

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The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart… Ps. 34:18

The Ronald McDonald House is full of them.  Broken hearts, burdens too heavy to bear, and fears that are too awful to be uttered, are all in abundance at this place.  Parents of precious bundles that are broken themselves in one way or another.  We are strangers turned friends.  Ours is a friendship entered by the initiation of the broken hearted.  Each one of us has cried enough to fill a river with our tears, and we could fill two more with the tears we’ve refused to allow ourselves to shed.  Each one of us has bargained, begged, and pleaded with the Almighty.  We have had our fill of worries, and not a one of us has failed to ask God why in heaven’s name couldn’t He have chosen me instead of my child.  Denial, anger, blame, depression – the cycles of grief, we’ve all been through them all several times over.  Here we are, sharing a house, and we who know of sorrow so well, can easily read it in one another’s eyes.  There is no need for happy masks in this place.  It is full of understanding.  And so the masks come off, and we share.

“How many surgeries has she had?”  I dared to ask another mother with a little one with eyes so like my own girls.  “I lost count.”  She mumbled in reply.  “And yours?”  “I can’t remember anymore either.”  I barely breathed back.  “I think this was ten, but I’m not sure.”  As our eyes met, understanding registered with each of us.  We knew.  Friendships were made, and bonds were formed.  Stories were told and laughter was shared.  This is a good place.  It is a safe place for the broken to gather and share.  Somehow, in the midst of it all, I knew, He must be very, very near.  In this place that houses only the broken hearted, He must be so close.

In the midst of those moments that overwhelm me to the point that I don’t even know what pray, are the moments that I need Him most.  And He had the grace to leave me a promise that tells me He is nigh.  Sometimes we get so caught up in praying for the healing we so deeply desire, that we miss the grace that He has given now.  He is nigh.  Truthfully, not one of us parents knows if God will heal our littles here on earth.  Oh we pray for it, and we long for it, and we sometimes try to force His words into things He did not mean to manipulate Him to do what we want, and like a petulant child we say, “But you promised…”  The truth is, God is God, and we do not know, no matter how much we trust, cry, beg and pray what He will ultimately decide.  The truth is, His own Son begged Him to let this cup pass from Him as well.  He was brokenhearted.  He was carrying a load that was too heavy to bear, and He begged His Father to take it from Him.  And God didn’t.  Not because He didn’t love His Son more than His own life, or because He was mean, or because He didn’t care.  He didn’t because there was a greater purpose that He wanted to fulfill, and that purpose had to come through Jesus’ pain.

The truth is, I don’t know if God will heal my daughter.  The truth is, there may be a greater purpose at work that I cannot see.  The truth is, He understands, and even more beautifully, HE IS NIGH.  The truth is, I am going to chose faith over doubt.  I am going to trust in this God that is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart.  Because tonight, I am that one that is of a broken heart, and tonight, He IS NIGH unto me.

Good Eyes

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I often ponder how to talk to my children about others with disabilities.  I pray for their hearts to be tender and loving, and their eyes to see the beauty beneath the surface.  Tonight, I had a chance to witness their responses to these precious ones, and my heart is still reeling from the moment.

One friend in church is wheelchair bound.  He came over to speak with us, and one of my boys looked at him and said, “Boy do I wish I could have a wheelchair like yours.”  My heart stopped.  This particular boy of mine tends to be a bit of a loose cannon when he opens his mouth.  As I was thinking of how to do damage control, he continues, “My brothers and I would have so much fun on that thing!  I bet it goes really fast!”  I dared peer at the man’s reaction, and he was beaming!  Someone (nevermind that it was a precocious 5 year old) was actually jealous of him!  He started telling us all of the awesome ‘specs’ of his chair as my boy listened in awe.  No longer was he a disabled man, suddenly, he was transformed into an object of desire and envy.  My son has good eyes.

Another friend who has been given autism, was bending down wanting Lydia to shake his hand.  This friend is special to me.  His love for Jesus puts me to shame.  Every single Sunday, he gets up earlier than maybe anyone else in our 2,000 plus congregation.  He walks miles to the grocery store to pick up our order of donuts and chocolate milk for the ones who work on the bus ministry.  Then, he carries the boxes of donuts and milk across 4 lanes of traffic and walks it to church.  Why?  Because he wants to be a blessing.  Because he loves the bus ministry.  Because he loves Jesus.

So when this boy/man stretched out his hand to my little one, I waited with baited breath to see what she would do.  I saw her hesitate, and before I had a chance to encourage her, I saw my sweet, quiet son nod and whisper to her, and slip his small hand into that of our friends, to show her he is a friend.  He then took her hand in his and slipped it into our friend’s hand.  The smile on our friend’s face could have lit up the room, but it undoubtedly lit up my heart.  My son has good eyes.

We chatted a bit after that.  We chatted about how much he loves Jesus.  From what I can ascertain, his family has very little to do with him, but he has found the love in a Father that will never leave him nor forsake him.  He is a good son to that Father.  He inspires me to love Him more.  I want to have eyes that see the beauty in these dear ones, beauty that was given to them by a Father that loves them, beauty that is worth beholding.  I want to have good eyes.