Freeze-Frame

     Yesterday was one of those rare days you just want to freeze-frame in your memory to remember and to savor.  I am not a Black Friday shopper, but I did indulge in the sales at Bass Pro Shop on the day before Thanksgiving.  It’s one of our children’s favorite stores, so it was like one stop shopping complete with a gift card in hand and accumulated points for money off of our final bill.  Originally, it was going to be just Rebekah and me doing the shopping because Clif had a haircut appointment and Daniel has just felt flat-out awful lately.  To our surprise, Daniel decided at the last minute he wanted to go with us.  His decision to ride with us was a miracle in itself, since he’s been bedridden for all of October and most of November as well.

      One wrong turn and 45 minutes later, but we finally got to the packed Bass Pro parking lot.  The parking lot was full so I dropped them off at the door and went on the hunt to find a parking space.  Finally, I made it inside the store and saw them smiling and waiting for me. I know that sounds really sappy, but when I see my son smiling and actually enjoying being somewhere besides his bed, it takes every bit of self-control I have not to burst out into grateful tears.  Maybe it was because it was the beginning of the holiday season, or maybe everyone was just in a great mood, but the customer service was superb and hospitable.  Rebekah took him to another part of the store so I could find a possible Christmas gift for him.  She sent me texts in the store of things he was looking at and trying on in the store.  Makes you wonder how we survived without cell phones!

      After about 30 minutes in the store, we caught up with each other and just piddled around looking at everything together.  Yes, I took my coat and covered up everything in the cart so they couldn’t see anything!  Right before I was going to check out, Daniel stated he was really tired and needed to go sit down.  Rebekah took him to the car while I stood in line to check-out.  In line, I was silently praising God, “Thank you LORD, I had him for one whole hour today. I praise YOU for this glorious blessing.” 

     As we were leaving the parking lot, in the rain and sleet, Daniel stated that he would really like to the Green Top Store since we were so close.  I hadn’t planned on stopping there, but if he wanted to go, then we would go.  Off we went to another packed parking lot!  In the store, I headed toward the cooking products and they went to check out the ammo and the newest guns in the cases.  It was just so heartwarming to see their two heads together bent down and looking together.  After they had their fill of looking around, we headed back to the car to head to my sister’s house to visit for a little while.  She only lives a few minutes from Bass Pro shop.

    At her house. I watched Daniel engage in conversation with everyone, play with their dogs and heard him laugh along with all of us. Simple, ordinary tasks we take for granted on a daily basis, and I just want to freeze-frame every single moment of being ordinary.  His illness has taught me to be thankful for ordinary moments that are so often overlooked. Often, parents don’t even think about the blessing of their child waking up in the morning, getting dressed and going about their day.  Now, I cling to these moments when we briefly have our son back in an ordinary day. 

    Freeze-frame the moment, remember the goodness, cling to the promise that God WILL turn all to His good.  I’m waiting and praising in the hallway until the windows and doors open like floodgates pouring out HIS love and goodness.

    

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God’s Plans

     In Jeremiah 29:11 God promises us He has plans for us, plans to prosper us, not to harm us and for our future.  This verse is a favorite, and has been put in frames in the house, prayed over my children and whispered silently for reassurance.  God’s plans…far too creative and mighty for me to even begin to understand, but also a wonder to my heavy soul tonight.  Tears are blurring any reasoning I may have at the moment, and I am clinging to His ways, His thoughts and ultimately, His plans.    
Within a thirty minute time span today, our son Daniel’s education plan was radically changed.  Unfortunately, he has not responded positively or consistently to any medication attempted to keep him awake and alert while he battles the throes of Klein-Levin Syndrome. We have hoped, we have desperately prayed, but God has chosen to be silent in this time in our lives and the medical journey with sweet seventeen year old Daniel rages on and on.  Daniel, a bright child, was chosen as one of 52 county students out of hundreds of applicants to be in the Governor’s Academy for Engineering Studies.  The first two grading periods, he thrived and performed well, then this maddening syndrome entered his life and all spiraled downward at an accelerating speed.  Now, because of medical issues way beyond his control, he will no longer be in the engineering program and will probably have to be on homebound instruction if the county can secure a certified teacher for him. Not exactly the plans we had in mind for him, not what we envisioned for our youngest son and certainly not at all what we wanted for him.  I wish I could be a perfect Christian woman, totally submit and feel peace in God’s promises and His presence.  Sorry to disappoint those reading this right now, but all I want to do is scream, “WHY?” Why do his dreams have to be shattered? Why do we have to constantly have to battle with the insurance company for his medications?  Why won’t the medications WORK?  Why can’t he have a normal teen-age high school life?  Oh yes…it’s a believer having a hissy fit!    
Realistically and logically, I know it will eventually work out, but at this moment I just want to smack the next person who says to me,”He’ll be fine, he’s bright, he’s smart, he’s a great kid.” I know the comments are well-intended, but he’s not your child. We don’t need pie in sky positive comments, we need a hug, we need prayers and we need time with our family to heal and to appreciate one another.
God really is good and I know He’ll show His glory. I’m also glad He uses ordinary people to do His work. There’s nothing pretty about a fifty-something believer having a hissy fit, but somehow, someway, God will use this broken vessel for His kingdom. He does have plans for us and I will keep believing even though it hurts right now. God is in control.

Refinement

        I am being refined.  God is squeezing, pounding, pulling and molding me and I am squirming away like a child scared of discipline.  My trust level is being stretched to its limits and my faith is clinging to God’s promises.   God is using this time in my life of one trial after another to change me, to transform me and to prepare me for something better.  He is in charge and I need to let go and allow Him to be totally sovereign. 

      Lord Jesus, pry my fingers away from routine security and allow me to hold your mighty hand.  May my steps follow you and not wander off on a path of my own.  Take this wrenched mother’s heart and open my eyes me to see healing for my son.  Give me your wisdom to make the best decisions possible for him to finish high school.  I can’t and won’t do this alone, dear LORD, I so desperately need You. 

     Remove any negative thoughts that enter in my head and replace them with your memorized Word.  Squelch any self-critical thoughts and destroy my tendency to compare my trials and situation to others around me.  My confidence comes from you alone and in you I am complete.  Surround me in Your Word, and Your glorious creation to prevent me from sinking into darkness.

    Lord, I submit, I surrender to your holy refining process.  Refine me to the perfection you expect in my life.  Transform me and prepare me for the next season in my life. You know me better than I know myself.  You alone know what is best for me.  Illuminate your waysl so I may obediently walk in your path.  I am being refined as silver in the scorching fires and I submit.

       

I Am Called

        This morning I read my devotional in Jesus Today by Sarah Young and the words jumped off the page and settled in my soul.  “I call you to lead the life that I have assigned to you and to be content.”  Lately, I have to honestly admit that my life has been anything but content.  Stress at school, with one more task always being added to my already overflowing plate totally unnerves me. Always juggling the checkbook and taking yet another hit with another unexpected payroll deduction leaves me even more frustrated.  Dealing with the constant strain of Daniel’s chronic illness has taken a heavy toll on our family.  So, to hear Jesus tell me in this devotional that this is the life He has assigned to me and to be content totally riveted my attitude.

     I am called to be a mother.  It was so easy when they were babies.  Yes, I was sleep deprived, but I could kiss them anytime I wanted to and snuggle up close to listen to them breathe.  Coordinated outfits adorned those sweet pudgy little bodies and diapers were in the house, in the car, in my purse and in the “carry everything but the kitchen sink” diaper bag.  As the babies grew into beautiful children I was the blessed called one to teach them right from wrong, instill God’s Word into their hearts, and kiss their scraped knees.  Middle school hormones rocked my world, but we all survived and didn’t choke each other in the process of growing up, letting go, and becoming respectful young adults.  Now, my children are adults and I am the called one to be their mom, their support, and their encourager. 

     I am called to be a teacher.  My profession is not my life, but it is a calling.  In teaching, it’s not about a test score, or planning a lesson.  It’s the delicate balance of knowing when to push a child a little further or just to step back and encourage the effort shown.  Teaching special needs children for all these years has been not just a job, but a ministry.  Academics are only a small portion of teaching; life skills to build character have to be intertwined delicately and deliberately. I am called to mold their precious lives into a love of learning and a love for life itself.

     I am called to be a believer.  Being a believer means I don’t wear rose-colored glasses and pretend everything is fine just because I love Jesus.  Perhaps, this is the toughest calling of all.  It’s being real when life circumstances have sucked the life out of you and there’s no energy left.  Being a believer means you hang on, keep working, and keep trusting when it’s so dark you can’t see your hand in front of your face.  Waiting for a healing, waiting for a miracle, waiting for a break-through is all part of the divine calling. 

    I am called to this life I lead.  Pay the bills, buy the groceries, clean the house, walk the dogs and I will be content.  Love my children, teach my students, keep praying for healing for Daniel and I will be content.  Hug my friends, cook in my kitchen, love my husband more now than I ever have and I will be content.  Laugh a lot, read my Bible, listen to my “Jesus music” and I will be content.  I am called to this life I lead and I will be content forevermore.