Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.
Look straight ahead,
and fix your eyes on what lies before you.
Mark out a straight path for your feet;
stay on the safe path.
Don’t get sidetracked;
keep your feet from following evil.
… but the words I wrote there keep coming back at me.
Never thought about this passage before with these words substituted, as a “concerned” mom sending her son with autism to college in Aug:
“And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for Dan. Why do you have so little faith? So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will he eat? What will he drink? What will he wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all Dan’s needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give Dan everything he needs. So don’t worry about August, for August will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Jesus, in Matthew 6:30-34
We are now on the “other side” of high school graduation by just a few days, and I got through the ceremony without a meltdown! Our speaker (Peter Overby of NPR fame) said, “Be in the moment,” and I wanted to listen, tune in and absorb every speech. I wanted to enjoy the music and being surrounded by friends and family, instead of being preoccupied by my own emotions.
The personalization of the above scripture helped center me and distance me from my worries. I could savor the event, the milestone, the awe of his accomplishment, without a hint of angst. I’m keeping this one close to my heart. God knows I need it.
(Beacon College-bound) Danz proud mom, Peggy
And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
Jesus, in Matthew 6:30-34
Would you like to know why there are so many scriptures on waiting on the Lord? Because waiting is HARD!!
Those of us who live with hidden disabilities as part of our family life are familiar with waiting: waiting for a diagnosis, waiting for a change, waiting for employment, waiting to see how God will resolve a certain situation.
I have grown weary with waiting. Scripture tells us in Galatians 6:9 “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
I don’t know if I’ve given up. But I do know that I no longer expect God to act quickly or to act in my favor. I no longer expect for things to fit into neat little packages that resolve quickly and easily for God’s glory.
Below is a picture of my family after running a 5K this past weekend. The race was particularly significant because my husband walked it with our son. He had been incapacitated by a knee injury for almost a year, and it was such a blessing for him to be able to cross that finish line with our almost twelve year old son.
I am currently in a difficult season of waiting. Waiting used to be easy for me. Now…not so much. I am waiting for my husband to get an MRI scheduled (it’s been over 4 weeks) so that we can figure out why he has lesions on the right frontal lobe of his brain … not an area where we have ever seen seizure activity before. We are waiting to see whether we will prevail in arguing our case before insurance companies due to Ben’s accident last year. And I am waiting for a new job. My current job leaves me reduced to tears each day. I feel as though I am entering enemy territory each morning as I go to work; the environment is not hostile, but it is not conducive to spiritual or emotional growth, or even any kind of friendship. I am working far from home and have been begging God for a job closer to home for almost a year now.
Our season of waiting includes so many unknowns. But God knows.
The other day my thirteen year old came to me as she saw that I was struggling and she said, “Mom … I want you to know something I read this week.” “What, sweetie,” I asked, tears of unbelief and pain clinging to my eyes. “I read that God will never give us more than we can handle,” she said. Had any seasoned Christian said this to me, I might have responded in a way that was … well, less than kind. But it occurred to me that my daughter may have never heard this before. I suggested she read Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” And she prayed for me. My sweet, on-the-cusp-of adulthood daughter, prayed for me (!) that God would not give me more than I can handle.
My girls ran the 5k last weekend. With 3500 other students from Montgomery County, they ran. They ran fast. And they enjoyed it. They remind me of Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lord, please help me not grow weary with the waiting!!
Finally, for those single moms or moms whose husbands are disabled: How many of you are the sole wage earners in your family? Are you working in the field you studied in college? What type of extended family support do you have? I think I need more support than I’m getting, but I honestly don’t know how to find it. I could write an entire blog post titled, “On Rejection.” I am waiting on a diagnosis for my husband, a job for myself where I don’t cry every day, a new therapist in our insurance plan, and practical help with how to deal with rejection (or seeming rejection ) in any form, since I am being asked to do cold calling almost every day as a part of my job (though there is nothing at all about this in my job description). Any suggestions from those of you who have been there before would be greatly appreciated!
Journeying with you,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering (not my strong point),
for He who promised is faithful; (my unpredictable life needs His kind of steadiness )
and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, (the opposite of being rash)
not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some,
but encouraging one another; (I need it)
and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (“all the more” sounds good to me)
I know my journey has been isolating in significant and painful ways … but I have NOT been isolated from studying the Bible with other women.
That may sound like No Big Deal to you, but I’m here to tell you many times it’s been THE difference between spiritual life and even physical death for me. I was never made to live without God’s Word, and I am not cut out to be a Lone Ranger.
I remember attending a women’s Bible study right after I married. I had no idea why my marriage was so hard and draining (I didn’t know what “bipolar” or “manic” really was) but I felt literally infused with hope and strength after every meeting. That fellowship around God’s Word did not change my husband or his diagnosis, but it strengthened me. In fact (it’s no secret) I know without a doubt I would’ve bailed out of my marriage, my faith, or my life itself if it had not been for godly women pouring God’s truth into my life each week – and I say this after being born in a pastor’s home, and attending a Christian college!
On the short list, studying God’s word with other women anchors me (in an inconsistent, unpredictable life), transforms me (from naïve to more discerning), convicts me (gently), and sustains me (or I’d die of discouragement). When my kids were little, I could’ve climbed Mt. Everest with less effort than it took to get us out the door every week to Bible study (and I was usually late) but I was going to get there, or die trying!
It would be years before I understood enough of what was happening at home to explain it to anyone else – but that was OK at the time. The time for disclosure and education would come later. Those women were not equipped to “fix” my life. They just gave me healthy love and God’s Word. Every week.
This year I had an epiphany of sorts: women’s Bible study is literally THE single constant of my 28 years of marriage. That’s saying something. If you have bipolar family members, you know what I mean. I’ve been in and out of every other activity… children choir helper, nursing, dance recitals, home schooler, public school and sports mom, caring for aging parents, college mom … everything except women’s Bible study.
It doesn’t mean I am devout. It means Bible study and fellowship are critical.
Are you in a good Bible study? If not, will you consider joining one? It doesn’t matter if you’ve never done it, or used to teach it! Just make sure they believe God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He gave up His only begotten unique Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. (John 3:16 Ampified) If you find one like that, then “get thee hence to it, pronto”- some way, some where, some how!
Wouldn’t it be amazing if we were all in the same place and could study the Word together?? …heaven must be like that….
I don’t know where this first weekend in April finds you. It finds me with a headache from squinting, a furrowed brow being the sign I’m thinking too hard. It finds me feeling pressured to equip my girl to face an uncertain world that doesn’t understand her. It finds me feeling inadequate for the tasks at hand. When I make a list, I think, “No wonder I’m out of breath!”
This first weekend in April finds me tired, overwhelmed, and struggling to find an end to the seemingly-endless work before the end of the never-long-enough day. Today I keep hearing God’s word deep in my heart, a verse I memorized years ago because it was a song we sang in church:
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end.
They are new every morning, new every morning.
Great is Thy faithfulness, O Lord! Great is Thy faithfulness!”
That’s what the Spirit has been whispering to me all afternoon and evening. I was curious as to the context of this scripture. I thought I remembered it being in Psalms. It’s not. It’s from Lamentations 3. Granted, Jeremiah, as God’s prophet in Israel, wrote these words from horror and loss after witnessing Yahweh’s people exiled from their lands. He suffered in ways we can’t even imagine. Still, I pray God’s Word from Lamentations comforts you and help you know when to call it a day. Whatever is left over and undone from today, there will be more mercy from Jesus to continue the work tomorrow. He promised.
from Lamentations 3 in The Message:
God Locked Me Up in Deep Darkness
1I’m the man who has seen trouble, trouble coming from the lash of GOD’s anger.
2He took me by the hand and walked me
into pitch-black darkness.
3Yes, he’s given me the back of his hand
over and over and over again.
4He turned me into a scarecrow
of skin and bones, then broke the bones.
5He hemmed me in, ganged up on me,
poured on the trouble and hard times.
6He locked me up in deep darkness,
like a corpse nailed inside a coffin.
7He shuts me in so I’ll never get out,
manacles my hands, shackles my feet.
8Even when I cry out and plead for help,
he locks up my prayers and throws away the key.
9He sets up blockades with quarried limestone.
He’s got me cornered.
10He’s a prowling bear tracking me down,
a lion in hiding ready to pounce.
11He knocked me from the path and ripped me to pieces.
When he finished, there was nothing left of me.
12He took out his bow and arrows
and used me for target practice.
13He shot me in the stomach
with arrows from his quiver.
14Everyone took me for a joke,
made me the butt of their mocking ballads.
15He forced rotten, stinking food down my throat,
bloated me with vile drinks.
16He ground my face into the gravel.
He pounded me into the mud.
17I gave up on life altogether.
I’ve forgotten what the good life is like.
18I said to myself, “This is it. I’m finished.
GOD is a lost cause.”
It’s a Good Thing to Hope for Help from God
19I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
20I remember it all–oh, how well I remember–
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
21But there’s one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
22GOD’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
23They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
24I’m sticking with GOD (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left.
25GOD proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,
to the woman who diligently seeks.
26It’s a good thing to quietly hope,
quietly hope for help from GOD.
27It’s a good thing when you’re young
to stick it out through the hard times.
28When life is heavy and hard to take,
go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
29Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions:
Wait for hope to appear.
30Don’t run from trouble. Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
31Why? Because the Master won’t ever
walk out and fail to return.
32If he works severely, he also works tenderly.
His stockpiles of loyal love are immense.
33He takes no pleasure in making life hard,
in throwing roadblocks in the way:
34Stomping down hard
on luckless prisoners,
35Refusing justice to victims
in the court of High God,
36Tampering with evidence–
the Master does not approve of such things.
God Speaks Both Good Things and Hard Things into Being
37Who do you think “spoke and it happened”?
It’s the Master who gives such orders.
38Doesn’t the High God speak everything,
good things and hard things alike, into being?
39And why would anyone gifted with life
complain when punished for sin?
40Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living
and reorder our lives under GOD.
41Let’s lift our hearts and hands at one and the same time,
praying to God in heaven:
42“We’ve been contrary and willful,
and you haven’t forgiven.
43“You lost your temper with us, holding nothing back.
You chased us and cut us down without mercy.
44You wrapped yourself in thick blankets of clouds
so no prayers could get through.
45You treated us like dirty dishwater,
threw us out in the backyard of the nations.
46“Our enemies shout abuse,
their mouths full of derision, spitting invective.
47We’ve been to hell and back.
We’ve nowhere to turn, nowhere to go.
48Rivers of tears pour from my eyes
at the smashup of my dear people.
49“The tears stream from my eyes,
an artesian well of tears,
50Until you, GOD, look down from on high,
look and see my tears.
51When I see what’s happened to the young women in the city,
the pain breaks my heart.
52“Enemies with no reason to be enemies
hunted me down like a bird.
53They threw me into a pit,
then pelted me with stones.
54Then the rains came and filled the pit.
The water rose over my head. I said, “It’s all over.’
55“I called out your name, O GOD,
called from the bottom of the pit.
56You listened when I called out, “Don’t shut your ears!
Get me out of here! Save me!’
57You came close when I called out.
You said, “It’s going to be all right.’
58“You took my side, Master;
you brought me back alive!
Moving the laundry piles off of my bed so that I can lie down,
“Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not fear God….” Deuteronomy 25:17-18
For me, there is a place, between Egypt (bondage) and The Promised Land (Heaven), and it is the Here and Now. (Don’t put too fine a point on my theology here). In the Here and Now, I often feel we should be able to do our marriage and family with LESS support than we seem to require … but what can I say? More times than I care to admit, we’re straggling along at the rear, faint and weary, not seeing victory – even WITH others pouring into our lives and keeping us on our feet, our family relationships intact.
Lately, God is using this particular storyline in Israel’s journey to help me resist shame and discouragement for needing so much help just to “do” our particular Journey of Life…
“Then Amalek came and fought against Israel.” In fact, God’s rage at Amalek is because they chose to fight by attacking all the stragglers at Israel’s rear when Israelites were faint and weary (Deut 25) – a pretty sadistic way to fight. Exactly how Satan fights every home with hidden disabilities.
“So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek.” Moses put the men/warriors into the equation, like they SHOULD’VE been to begin with. I am SO thankful for the godly men in our lives who have chosen to stand in the gap, take the heat, fight for our home.
“Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” Moses was top-of-the-mountain obvious: Israel fights under GOD’s flag. Not their own. It’s always been, always will be about pointing men to the LORD. Men fought, but the LORD (of hosts) empowered them.
Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought against Amalek; and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. If Moses did not go up alone … why do I think I could or should??
So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands were heavy. Don’t think for a second it was because age was getting to Moses. He didn’t die for 40 more years, and when he did, the Bible says, “Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.” Deut. 34:7 No man, young or old could’ve done what he needed to do that day … nor can I do what I need to, without help. These days, I am (usually) not too proud to admit it.
Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; Here’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: in my life, the ONLY thing that has been strong and stable enough to bear my whole sit-down-so-I-don’t-fall-down weight is the Word of God.
… and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. Bilateral support. All day. Been there, needed that.
SO Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword. Ex. 17:8-14
Nobody could possibly mistake anybody in our home for a national leader, like Moses was. Nevertheless WE need stones to sit down on – rock solid truths. For me, these are God’s truths – forever sturdy, stable. In addition, we have stronger souls than ours, supporting our “hands” which get HEAVY. And in this way, Jesus is keeping our hands steady until victory comes, and the sun sets on our lives (which is getting closer and closer with each birthday…).
I’m tired, but I want ALL the victory possible from the battle for our marriage, our family … but I’d be lying if I said I weren’t watching the sky, praying for sunset….
When I was a little girl and first learning to write my name, something (don’t ask me WHAT) inspired me to practice my penmanship on my mama’s BIBLE. Yes, her B-I-B-L-E! Nice LARGE letters, too … in INK, no less. Not only that, I did it inside the front jacket – right where I am sure she could see it every single time she opened her Bible.
And this is the thing – I don’t think it even crossed my mind I was practicing my autograph on the wrong practice pad. I’m here to tell you that’s amazing because my parents served on a church staff, and were very reverent towards all things of God (which I appreciate to this day) so you can believe I was schooled in all the do’s and don’ts of church life, proper Bible etiquette included. Somehow this particular little issue had not been covered … probably because it never crossed THEIR mind it would cross MY mind.
But this is the sweet thing: I have no recollection of ever being scolded for doing such an audacious thing.
One of my favorite women of the last generation was Ruth Bell Graham, wife of Bill Graham. She wrote in a Bible too, only it was much more profound. Her daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, shares this:
“This poem was one Mother wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible when I was a girl. Amazing how the words have come back to mind.
Trusting Him when dark doubts assail us
Trusting Him when our strength is small
Trusting Him when to simply trust Him
is the hardest thing of all.
Trust Him then through tears or sunshine
All our cares upon Him cast.
Till the storms of life are over
And the trusting days are past.
Well said, well written.
“I’m sorry I freaked out a little earlier,” I said to Cami.
“You freaked out earlier?” She sounded puzzled.
“A little,” I said.
The only reason she had no idea I had a major meltdown today was because of my husband. Her daddy. My best friend.
Earlier, stresses had escalated in my head to where I was weeping and texting my heart out to Michael, who I thought was in the basement, but who came upstairs to where I was and texted with me from the other side of the locked bathroom door, two floors away from where my daughter sat reading her library book. She never saw or heard my ugly-cry.
I reached my limit, y’all. I’d put on a smile and looked for the humor and tried to feel thankful just one time too many today. Instead of feeling snug and comforted in a garment of praise, today I’ve felt so angry—that way-down-deep angry, the angry that rises up when things just aren’t fair and God lets them stay that way.
I’ll spare you the details of why my heart’s all stirred up because those details aren’t really the point of this post.
The point of this post? My feelings don’t change who I am:
I’m still accepted by God,
saved and seated with Jesus in the heavenly realms,
alive and one with Him (Ephesians 2:6).
I’m still forgiven by God because
He canceled the record of charges against me.
God destroyed the record of my wrong-doing
by nailing it to Jesus’ cross
(Colossians 2: 13-14).
I’m still God’s friend (Romans 5:11).
I’m still a child of the light and a child of the day.
My dark feelings do not make me a child of the night
or a child of the darkness
(1 Thessalonians 5:5).
I am still standing firm in Christ because God makes it happen.
I’m still anointed by Him.
I’m still sealed with His Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).
I’m still a new creation.
All the old is still gone (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I’m still held securely by Jesus, and
the evil one still cannot touch me (1 John 5:18).
I still have everything I need for life and godliness
through my knowledge of Jesus and
His divine power at work in my life (2 Peter 1:3).
I’m still the object of God Almighty’s lavish love,
still His child, still His little girl (1 John 3:1).
I’m still angry this evening. And oh, so weary. I’m also still loved and known by my husband. I’m still entrusted with the care and raising of my precious girl.
I’m so grateful that God’s Word is still God’s Word, even as my emotions change from hour to hour. He remains faithful.
That’s what I know.
It’s the last Church Day of 2012.
I feel like I should have some profound ruminations to share with you. Or, at the very least, a thoughtful recap of our year recounting all the ways God has showered His grace on this Chosen Family.
All I have to offer you on this day?
This is what the LORD Almighty says:
“All this may seem impossible to you now…
But do you think this is impossible for Me, the LORD Almighty?…
Take heart and finish the task.”
(Zechariah 8:6,9, NLT)
A quote from the Hobbit:
“Go back?” [Bilbo] thought. “No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!” So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.
(from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, Chapter 5, paragraph 7)
And a prayer:
LORD Almighty, You choose these Chosen Families. You anoint us and empower us. Your divine power gives us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Jesus, Your Son (2 Peter 1:3). Everything we need, Lord. Sometimes, it sure doesn’t feel like enough. But You’ve promised to sustain us, even to our old age and gray hairs (Isaiah 46:4). You’ve promised, and we believe You. Lord, please help our unbelief. Give us courage to follow You wherever You lead us in the coming year. As we keep stepping after You, we give You all the credit for anything good that comes from our lives. Our praises are for You alone. Because of Jesus…
On we go!