Friday, May 31, 2013

Weary and Worn

Today, I feel weary and worn.

I slept well, ate breakfast, had my usual cup (or three) of coffee and spent some time with the Lord, but I am still weary and worn..

At this very moment, I am studying for a series I am teaching on in the fall, on the Book of Esther, looking at the Providence of God. I am working hard, praying hard, to get a grasp on something that seems ungraspable. 

I have my books laid out on my counter and my heart spread out alongside of them.  As I page through pages, I turn thoughts of the reality of life over and over in my mind.  I am looking through His story and my story, together. I am thinking about the circumstances of today and yesterday and a thousand days before.

Truth is, it’s not the studying that has me weary and worn, it’s the brokenness of life, made even more intense as I try and understand who God is and how He is at work and what my part is, in it all.

How can I understand God’s care and direction in my life along with the reality of the brokenness of my life?

For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to have more questions than answers, and today, I am no different. 

I'm asking myself, and the Lord -- Why does God allow some things to happen and not others? Why do the wicked prosper?  Why is He often times silent?  How does He work all things for His glory and for our good?  Couldn’t He do it differently?  Why doesn’t He do it differently? What does His care look like?  How is He directing me, and am I hearing His voice clearly? Am I hearing Him at all? 

Sometimes, I'm not sure if I just wear myself out asking so many questions or if life does! 

Either way, I am weary and worn, and bringing that to the Lord today. 

Three friends sent me this song over the past three weeks. They know my heart well.

Sharing it with you all, as a prayer.   May the Lord deliver hope to you through it.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Two Simple but Powerful Words -- But Jesus

From Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ"

Recently, I spoke at our women’s bible study on The Woman Caught in the Act of Adultery in John 8 (click here, if you’d like to listen to it), and two words keep coming back to me, as the weeks have passed. I have been reciting them to myself, asking the Lord to show me how to trust these words and Him, as I live and love.

But Jesus

The woman caught in the act of adultery stood condemned. She was outwardly condemned as others looked down on her for what she did, with plans to stone her, and I’m pretty sure inwardly condemned, as she looked in at her choices.

The word condemnation has a critical overtone. A harsh, humiliating, demeaning, feel that says, “you’re wrong. You’re bad. You’ve failed.”

When I stand in the sand with this woman, I can relate.  Maybe you can, too. Different circumstances, different choices, different stories, but similar experiences of condemnation with resulting shame.

Condemnation will come in this life. I don't like it, but it will.

Sometimes others judge us, belittle us, tell us verbally or non-verbally, that we are worthless. We may have been treated harshly, been humiliated and been hurt because of the judging actions of others.

Sometimes we condemn ourselves. Filled with shame and guilt over choices that we’ve made, we hold ourselves captive to condemnation.

And sometimes we experience condemnation from the evil one. He tries to put us down and tempt us to hopelessness. He wants us to think that we are too much, too late, and too far gone.

Condemnation will come in this life -- but Jesus ...

The woman in this story is dragged in to the presence of Jesus, and a crowd of onlookers.  The religious leaders are using her as bait to trap Jesus; they don’t care about her.  Jesus knows that, and he does the unexpected. He turns things upside down.  He is radically different, extremely different!

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with His finger.”  (John 8:6b).

In an amazing act of compassion and care, all eyes went to Jesus and off of her. 

Why does He do that? I can’t be sure, maybe that just how Jesus is; He gave her the gift of relief.  Shortly after that in the story, He would give her an even greater relief, the gift of freedom and forgiveness, when he said to her, “… neither do I condemn you. Go now, and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11).

He does the same for us.  Outwardly, others may put us down. Inwardly, we may put ourselves down, but Jesus

Two simple but profound words that we can remember and rehearse when the world closes in -- but Jesus.

I would like to share with you what I read at the end of the lesson that day.  I don’t know where you are today, but maybe you are in need of a reminder that you are seen by the Lover of your Soul,  and that He is here for you, willing to give you relief and freedom.

Others may put you down for what you’ve done or not done, but Jesus … He stands for you, and is here to help you.
You may put yourself down, but Jesus … He loves you.
Others may treat you like trash, but Jesus … He sees you as a treasure.
Others may use you like an object, but Jesus … to Him you are a person, with great value.
You may feel poorly about yourself, but Jesus … You matter to Him.
You may feel abandoned and rejected,  but Jesus … He will never leave you nor forsake you.
You may feel alone, but Jesus … He is present and embraces you.
You may feel like you are mistake rather than made a mistake, but Jesus … He does not shame you, making you feel like you are a mistake. He created you and made you for a purpose.
You may feel humiliated, but Jesus … He does not humiliate you, He holds you.
You may be unjustly judged, but Jesus ... He sees and knows all.
You may have lost your way, and are scared that you’ll never find your way, but Jesus … despite our problems and our mistakes, He shows us the way to walk with Him. 
You may feel hopeless, but Jesus ... He gives us hope. He is our hope!
You may feel like a ‘nobody,’ but Jesus …  He thinks your somebody, somebody important enough to die for.
But Jesus -- But Jesus --But Jesus

Friday, May 17, 2013

My P.S. to Another Mother's Post (She wrote: A Message to Manhattan Moms Who See my Special Needs Child as a Disney Fast Pass)

Here's a picture of my gang, years ago.  So proud of them!

I wasn’t going to post today. Truth is, I’ve been feeling a little bit down-on-the-dumps (as my littlest one, would say).  I won’t get in to the details, but suffice it to say, being a mom of a child with special needs can be heart wrenching sometimes, and today was one of those times.

I logged in to Facebook for a moment to check on some friends.  Scrolling through, I read a post from my friend Jennie, who commented about a blog posting.

The blogger wrote a post titled A Message to Manhattan Moms Who See My Special Needs Child as a Disney Fast Pass  (click here) . In her post, she refers to an article, (click here)  titled Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World. 

People with disabilities are given special passes at Disney, that allow them to go to the front of the line, at different rides. Apparently, wealthy moms in Manhattan are hiring disabled people to escort them through Disney, so that the moms don't have to wait in line with their own kids, and the kids get to go right to the front.  

I know, sad. Actually more than sad.

Pathetic.  Rude. Disgusting.  Maddening. Sick. Incomprehensible. 

I had to scrape myself off the ceiling before putting my fingers to the keys, to write this post.  

I’m almost left speechless, but not totally.

The author of the blog post wrote an admirable response, (click here, again. If you didn’t read it up top … you really should), and I’d just like to add a post script to it:

P.S. Dear Entitled Manhattan Moms:

This may come as a surprise to you, but I feel sorry for you. 

Waiting is hard, isn't it? I can relate. Waiting in a line is hard work. Standing around, wondering when you're going to get to the front, getting tired, thirsty, maybe even hungry.  I mean, we've got things to do, places to go, people to see.  

I can relate to the strain of waiting.  I don’t like to wait in a line, but even more so, I don’t like to wait in life.

I didn’t like waiting in the waiting room, when I brought my son at the age of 8 months old to the ‘pre-mature baby clinic’ to see if he was developing appropriately. He wasn’t. I was told he had Cerebral Palsy.

I didn’t like waiting in too many to count doctor’s offices to see if he needed more surgeries. He did. Often.

I didn’t like waiting in therapy sessions (for 18 years total), while trying to entertain my other children, teaching them how to wait.

I didn’t like waiting in long educational meetings to see if my son would qualify for assistance. He did.

I didn’t like waiting for a phone call from his preschool, wondering if he made it through the day, without crying.

I didn’t like waiting to hear if he made a friend or fell again.

I didn’t always like waiting for him to put on his braces and shoes, eat his meal, work on his schoolwork, walk with his cane through a store, or wheel his wheelchair through the zoo.  But I did, encouraging him every step of the way.

Let’s put it this way, I’ve done a lot of waiting and some of that waiting, I’d rather not.

Honey, waiting in a line is nothing compared to the waiting I’ve done, or the waiting that other parents of children with special needs/illnesses or people with special needs/illnesses, have endured.

I’d wait in a line any day.

And as I stand here, with a son who is 19 years old, I’m still waiting. I’m waiting to see what this afternoon holds, what tomorrow holds, what the rest of his life holds.  And I’m waiting, patiently, to see what the Lord is going to continue to do in his life.

It’s not always easy to wait. Actually, it’s hard.

I feel sorry for you. I have compassion for you, because the day will come, I’m almost sure of it, when you won’t be able to buy your way to the front of the line or use someone else who is weaker than you to get your way.

I don’t know when or how, but you will find yourself in the ‘waiting room’ of life, and you just may be sorry that you didn’t use the opportunity to wait in line, to practice patience and perseverance. You may be sorry that you didn’t care for those who needed help, rather than using them to help you. Someday, you may be the one who needs help.

Yes, I feel sorry for you.  But truthfully, I feel even more sorry for your kids. They are watching their mother use others and get what she wants. I hope they learn ‘what not to do,’ by watching you. 

So, the next time you pull out your checkbook or your credit card in order to use someone for the fulfillment of your pleasure, think again.

Some day, and believe me, this day is coming, the Lord will stand in front of you and ask you to give account for your actions.

And I’ll give you a tip -- in His eyes, the first will be last, and the last will be first, and He honors those who honor the least of these. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Thankfully, He is Not Making It Up As He Goes Along

“Would you like me to read you the story I’m writing, Mom?” my youngest daughter asked me, with a smile on her face.

“I’d love to!” I answered, eager to hear what she had to share, and thrilled that she loved to write.

She read aloud her story about a bear named Snuggliciousness who lived in “Smiles and Giggles” toy store.

(Makes me smile and giggle just thinking about it).

Shortly (very shortly) in to her introduction, she stopped reading and exclaimed, “That’s all I have so far, Mom! What do you think?”

“That’s great,” I cheered.  “Do you know what else you’re going to write?  Have you decided what is going to happen to your big ole’ bear?”

“Nah.  I just make it up as I go along. I have no idea!”

Her words are a ‘pause point’ for me that I’ve been pondering for days.

I am so relieved (and grateful) that the Lord does not make it up as He goes along.

That gives me hope on a day when the story looks unwritten, when the tension is mounting and the ending does not look so great, from my perspective.

I need to remember that He knows every villain and every hero (and every heroine)!  He knows every detail of every moment, every interwoven plot and sub-plot. He knows every lull in the action and every disturbing drama. He knows all the lows and all the highs and every twist and turn.

He knows it all. He’s writing it all. No rough drafts with God. He gets it right, the first time. He doesn’t erase errors. He doesn’t make errors. And He has more than an idea, He has a plan. He has a perfect plan, and allows us to be are part of it.

How many chapters? How many volumes? What’s the Word Count?  I have no idea, but He knows.

And all I know is that I am counting and resting on the truth that He is not making it up as He goes along. 

I may not always understand what the Lord is doing, and I may not even like what He’s writing, but in The End, I know it will be the best story ever.
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