Friday, June 12, 2015

pain AND gain

Yesterday she became a teenager.

Look at that smile.

It can light up any space.  She can look at you with eyes so clear that you would swear she knew your every thought.

So much of her face and features remind me of my side of the family....except her eyes.  Her eyes are the size of big almonds.  Just like her daddy. 

She really likes ice cream.

She likes to watch the Food Network with me.

She loves swaying on a porch swing.

Certain people can make her laugh uncontrollably just by the mere mention of their name.

We have figured out that purple is her favorite color.

This year we have seen some great progress.  She has done so well with her braces. 

She seems to be more motivated at times to do things that she has not done before.

We praise God for each and every little new thing we see....

Her birthday always conjures up tough memories.

It was the glorious day that I became a Mother.

I will never forget holding her for the first time. (It was actually 2 days after she was born and after I came out of a comatose state) All I could do was stare.  Each feature was so delicate and perfect and tiny.  She was gorgeous and smelled new.  Somehow the tubes and the fact that she was in the NICU seemed beyond me.  SHE was all I could see.

For the next 2 months I sat in that same NICU and drank her in. 

I learned about my "different" little girl.

We learned how to care for her and what the potential future might hold.

But here we sit 13 years later.....

There has been pain. There is still pain. Daily.

Shep and I are somewhat used to it now.  We go through the motions because what else is there to do?

G-tube feeds 4 times a day.....diaper changes every few hours....manual bathing....wiping drool....watching her flail when she can't express herself.....loading and unloading wheelchair/equipment when everyone else just walks on by...

All of that is painful. 

And today I am not even going to touch the emotional part of the pain.  But you can imagine.
Missed milestones.  Missed conversations.  Missed moments that you always imagine.

Thinking back to the beginning of this journey~ there was so much shock and a chronic feeling of being overwhelmed.  All the time. 

Doctors offices were the norm.  Weight issues, eye issues, brain injury issues, feeding issues....instead of enjoying a new baby girl it felt like we lived in a world of issues beyond our control.

I descended into such a deep pit of despair.  I stayed there for a while.

I nursed an offense toward God.  A serious offense.

I could not believe He (in His providential wisdom) had chosen this overwhelming all consuming and painful course for my life.

Anyway, like I said, life was just bigger than we could handle.  It seemed as though my senses could only see, hear, taste, touch, and feel PAIN. 

The slow process of allowing God access into the deep hurt places of my heart put me on the long road of healing.

His Word alone healed me.


His Word spoke hope into the hollow places that echoed with fear and uncertainty.

His Word helped my faith grow.

His Word gave me patience and perspective to persevere.

His Word forced light to shine on those that I needed to forgive.

His Word reminded me that He can do anything.

His Word began to abide within my very bones.

His Word changed me.

It is still changing me.

Only in recent years have I really begun to see that all of this pain has really been about the gain.

Oh goodness so much gain.

I can hardly contain it when I really think about all of the blessings that have showered down from heaven in the midst of pain.

The gain of faith.
The gain of courage.
The gain of compassion.
The gain of hope.
The gain of perspective.
The gain of people.
The gain of a testimony.
The gain of vulnerability.
The gain of experience.
The gain of joy.
The gain of growth.
The gain of depth.
The gain of genuine worship,
The gain of keeping on keeping on.

The gain...of pain.

Romans 8:31-39
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Fresh Bread

There is a dear friend in my life that puts me to shame with her cooking skills. 

She just goes for it.  She isn't afraid to cook anything too hard or too time consuming or with too many ingredients. 

Usually those sitting around her table are glad for it.

But she recently taught me how to use a bread machine and prepare fresh baked yeast rolls for my family.

I must say...without hesitation...that fresh baked bread is something quite special. 

It is warm and sweet and savory all at the same time.  

Recently I was reading through a devotion book.  The NLT bible pointed out that a priest offered David (a man on the run for his life) the only food he had...the holy bread. 

This would have been the Bread of Presence.  It was placed before the Lord once a week in the tabernacle.

We don't typically make big deals about certain foods being holy unto the Lord.  But this bread would have been just that.  Incredibly holy. 

This bread was laid before the Lord out of reverence and obedience.

And here....David (frenzied and probably freaking out because the king had a bounty on his head) was being offered THIS bread for sustenance.

I was thinking about my past month or so. 

Frenzied certainly fits.

We have ended our school year.  Finished off soccer season and ballet.  We have had chorus concerts and award ceremonies.  Birthdays have been celebrated and anniversaries cherished.

Honestly when my life gets this relationship with Jesus takes a serious hit.

The energy and zeal to get up and dig in God's Word for fresh truth just isn't there.  I would much rather snooze....

Staleness sets in and I find myself looking to rules instead of really enjoying my relationship with Jesus.

When I read this passage in 1 Samuel 21 I identified with David and my heart once again melted over my God. 

David...the man that will one day be known as the "man after God's own heart" is in a crisis.  He is on the run.  The king hates him and wants to see him dead.  He flees to the city of Nob.  He even lies to the priest about why he is there.

And still  God offered him bread.

The Bread of Presence.

Holy Bread unto the Lord.


My translation says it had just been replaced that day.

I wonder if he felt unworthy because he lied to the priest?
I wonder if he felt like a coward for running for his life? 
(this guy was known for being an insane warrior...songs were sung for his fame)
I wonder if hunger pangs took over?

Here is the bottom line: David was frenziedGod delivered freshness

When I still myself before Him...He does the same for me.

His love, although fresh to me each day.
His mercies, abundant...are new every morning.
His grace, amazing....never runs out.

Oh Father~ do a fresh work in my life.  Speak fresh words of hope and life into a frenzied and stale heart.  Fresh implies new.  I would love new zeal and new faith. Fresh.  Invigorated.  I cannot muster this as badly as I may want to.  But I can surrender.  Wake me up to new wonders in your blessed Word.  Meet me in new and unexpected places.  My heart is yours Jesus.