Abel vs Cain.

IT WAS A FORESHADOWING!!!

How did I miss it????

Today’s blog might be brief, might be nothing, might be everything.

Abel was the brother of Cain. They were birthed by Adam and Eve.

Abel offered up a pure lamb, a sacrifice which God accepted and was pleased by.

Cain offered up the first of his vegetables, the best he had, but God was not pleased. God said it wasn’t enough.

So Cain looked at Abel, and instead of asking Abel to help him, to share a lamb with him, and to learn from him how to please God, Cain decided to kill Abel out of anger, jealousy and spite. He was determined that his offering should be just as good as Abel’s, but it was not.

If Cain couldn’t have God’s favour, then no one could.

Guess what?

Jesus was born of Adam’s line. So were we all. He was called a lamb. He offered up Himself, as the Son (representing Abel), as the child of God to be a pleasing sacrifice, and He was accepted. He and He alone was a pleasing sacrifice. And we, like Cain, killed Him.

Nothing we (as represented by Cain) could offer would ever be good enough. Even if we were like the Pharisees- perfect in every single one of the laws that God has given. All of it would be tainted by our hearts motives, our imperfections, our violence and greed, and God saw through it all.

We didn’t offer ourselves to Him so that we could be made pure.

We offered so we could get more. (Let’s get rich because He’ll like us more if we sacrifice and will bless us.)

We offered so we could be more. (Let’s have more power, because He’ll give us more influence if we establish that we are the perfect ones who know the ways of God best.)

We offered to feel good. (Let’s have God reward us and make us feel good about us being so good, so obedient, addicted to positive feedback, not goodness itself.)

We failed to see that He could see through us like a parent sees through a child who is trying to manipulate them.

We have determined that we are good enough. If we do the laws of religion, we are good enough. If we help others and live with good karma, we are good enough. If we spend life looking at love and kindness and empty out ourselves and become nothing, we will be erased, and good enough. If we just live decent and don’t kill everyone around us, we are probably good enough, right?

WE ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH. We have vegetables.

We need a lamb. How can we get one?

Jesus did not manipulate God. His offering was simple. Pure. Serving others, not Himself.
Cain (Us) needed to imitate Able, but couldn’t, because his heart had no other way to follow. All he knew was burning envy, lust for power, intense guilt and frustration, and thwarted curiosity.

How GREAT is the love of God to offer on our behalf?! To accept Jesus’s offering as pleasing, and to welcome us (because of Him) into that pleasure and goodwill?

When we believe in Jesus, it’s like saying: “I don’t have anything but vegetables, but Jesus said I could share his lamb- I am offering with Him, because of Him, and by Him. He provided for me. It was better than my vegetables.”

He is the lamb we needed. We are in, God is pleased, because Jesus offered.

Whoa.

Give Thanks!

Just a simple reminder for everyone today:

We CAN give thanks TO God, no MATTER the circumstance.We don’t have to thank God FOR the circumstance, but we can find Him as a source of thankfulness.

I am practicing this everyday, and it is slowly changing my heart, my outlook, my life.

So, give thanks IN EVERYTHING, for this is the will of God through Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Why?
God transforms us and those around us through our thankful attitudes.

Can’t give thanks? Ask, and you will receive. (John 16:24)

How do you know that you will receive a thankful heart if you ask?

Because, it is God’s WILL for YOU! Of course He’ll help you. Of course He’ll journey with you to this place. Of course He’ll give you eyes to see.

Our family is learning to practice thanks! No matter the season. No matter what.

Right now, Hudson is well, and we are thankful!

His MRI came back stable in February! Thanks be to God who sustains and holds us!

His ENT said no surgery! Thanks be to God, who didn’t have us walk that road!

His Respirologist agreed with no surgery because anaesthetic can come with some neurological risks that they are just publishing with reasonable certainty now. Thanks be to God who has kept Hudson from being under for all of his MRI’s! What a blessing!

His school is working on a plan to help him overcome his anxiety and manage the massive leap he needs to make to be a full time student. Thanks be to God for an SK teacher who will tutor him on his own twice a week to see him excel!

Thanks be to God for a church to celebrate with!

Thanks be to God for a country to declare His name in!
Thanks be to God for friends!
Thanks be to God for rubber, which keeps our feet dry on wet days!

Thanks be to God!

There is an infinite list….

I wonder what’s on yours???

Walk on Water.

A family friend just called and I thought this was a timely word for all of us who are struggling.

You know who you are. Limping along, wondering along, inching along.

Jesus saw Peter as he was.
Peter saw Jesus as He was.

Peter hopped out of the boat and walked on water- eyes on Jesus.

Jesus ensured the impossible happened for Peter, so long as Peter looked at Him.

You might be called to impossible- like we are.

Impossible to keep faith when everyone around you says it can’t and won’t happen.

Impossible to hurdle obstacles, because the people involved won’t change.

Impossible to endure, because your health or stamina don’t allow you.

Impossible to hope, because you’ve been beaten down too many times.

Impossible to pray, because you have nothing in you that even believes God is real.

But I wonder this: if you are called to be in a boat in the storm, and you see Hope walking towards you, could you leap out of your doubts, fears and trials and let it all go into Jesus’s hands?

It’s not you that has to walk on the water.

It’s Him who has to hold you up and do the impossible.

Maybe today is reminder to just get on your knees and surrender those people, those circumstances, those doubts to Jesus, who will keep you walking through the storm, filled with faith, doing the impossible- a journey with God when others are watching on the sidelines.

Psalm 119:1-2

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
doing your best to find him.

A New Year.

Yesterday the snow fell softly. It was the stillest, most silent day.

All the trees were bearing the weight of the feathery soft flakes that made the whole forest look Narnian.

And I got to walk in it. I got to lift my eyes and feel snow on my eyelashes.

It was magical. White. Cold. Still.

And very, very sleepy. Everything was tucked in under a blanket of brilliant white.

It made me think of gratitude-audacious thankfulness despite the cold.

There was a warm home waiting with a roaring woodstove. There were family inside, bursting with life in them. There was food to be shared.

Winter is a time of rest. A time for the soul to be still. A time to reflect.

And I love the juxtaposition of the summer and winter.

Hudson health journey has thrown us as parents into the seasons of the soul.

Lately, it’s been a growth season for Hudson.

We purposed this year to explore all avenues of health and see if we could uncover what was keeping him chronically ill.

He saw an ENT who found enlarged tonsils and adnoids, and suspected sleep apnea. This brings us sleep tests and tonsil-adnoid surgery in the spring sometime.

He saw a psychiatrist at the hospital to help him with managing his emotions and fears around his health. This has brought him a wonderful art therapist and child life specialist who meet and entertain him everytime we are in London.

He saw an oncological naturopath who preventatively has been assisting in building his immune system and nutritionally fortifying him. This has lead to 8 straight weeks of health for Hudson-even when his sister brought home the flu.

He was given an IEP for his SK year at school. This has given him the time he needs to build his stamina, adjust to being away from mom, and reduce his exposure to illnesses.

He was given a mom and dad who care about his health and spiritual welfare, and have tried to help him understand Jesus. This has led him to asking Jesus to forgive him, live with him, and be his friend forever on Dec 6.

Finally, he met with his neurosurgeon in November and it was decided that his tumour looks stable and he doesn’t need another MRI until April.

And Hudson is loving this time of year. He is conquering his fears, he is learning to live life even when life is complicated with doctors.

He even went to the nursing home with to visit great grandma and let the little old ladies kiss and touch him! Unheard of!

We welcome this time of growth and rest-rest for our parent souls, and growth for our son.

And we urge you, that no matter where you find yourself-under the weight of accumulated sorrows, out in the cold, staring at a frosty life, or in the home, surrounded by goodness-find Jesus. He is with you. He goes before you. He is behind you. Or He is like Aslan-waiting for you to find for Him in a world that is new and uncertain to you.

 

Parenting a Special Kid.

john

I have been sitting and meditating on Luke 1-2 for the last few weeks.

Ah-maz-ing.

I think that almost every mom or dad looks at their own newborn baby and believes, hopes, and wonders if their child is special.

Special-change-the-world-kind-of-special.

I think we chose things that reflect how much we believe and hope that they are special.

We buy them special outfits, look carefully at the ingredients in their food, worry about their car-seat safety, think through breast or formula and write letters full of hopes, dreams and prayers for them.

We believe our kids are one-of-a-kind, unique beings that we will have the joy of raising. (Except when they won’t sleep at night…but we won’t get into that here…)

And they are.

But think about John the Baptist.

His mom and dad were picked from all the people ever to be born to birth and parent  the greatest prophet that would ever live.

They were old people. Way past having a baby old. They had their affairs in order, lives settled, routines set. Hopes for children had LONG past left them. I’m wonder that when an angel showed up and told Zacharias he was going to have a baby he may have internally freaked out and thought “no thanks!” (Imagine! They would need a crib, a nursery, a birth plan, a new will, a bigger house, time off work, money out of the retirement fund and into the RESP’s…)

However, God chose them. He timed it perfectly. He arranged to have John born to a senior citizen couple, whose dreams were likely set on dying peacefully and meeting God with clear conscience’s.  (Much harder to do when you are disciplining a toddler..trust me!)

And when John is born, everyone who comes to meet him says (vs 66) “What will THIS child turn out to be??”

Obviously, he was special.

Obviously, he was intriguing. Even as a baby.

And he was kinda a rock star baby. It says that everyone living around them were talking about them. (I imagine raising John was like raising a Jolie-Pitt child- paparazzi everywhere…) Talk about living in a glass box! How many times do you think Elizabeth got told “Put a hat on that child!!”

So–how then does it make sense that in verse 80 it says: “and he lived in the deserts until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”

Why would an older couple whose dreams have finally been fulfilled let their kid go play and live in the desert?
Have you ever watched Wild Kratts? There’s scorpions out there! And coyotes, Robbers, Zealots, Romans, hungry wild beasts and rocks and sand.

Sounds like the perfect playground right?

What were they thinking?????????

I have 3 options:

First: they were old. So they laid on the couch and didn’t fuss too much when John ran out the door in the morning to play, because it was just way too tiring to chase that kid around.
(I doubt it, but maybe?)

Second: they had died.

Third: they had been firmly grounded since the day of his miraculous conception in the knowledge that his destiny was not theirs to own, but God’s to direct, and that their parenting choices weren’t going to move the plan God had for John.

Both Elizabeth and Zacharias had been given words from God about their son and the part he would play in ushering in the Messiah (whom EVERY devout Jewish person longed for.) so I think they likely hung on to those words as the days drifted onwards.

I think they didn’t worry or care about what people thought about their raising of John. I think they just decided to hold him loosely, knowing he was a gift that had been entrusted to them to raise for the benefit of an entire nation.

Maybe that knowledge made it easier when they had to sacrifice the dreams that come with having a baby.
Seriously.

Think about it.

Knowing that you are old and you likely won’t have and will never see your son fully grown up. Knowing you might die when’s he’s little and worrying about the trauma you might cause him. Knowing you’ll never know if there was a continuation of your family tree, because God has not given him your family name to carry on. Knowing that you’ll likely never have grandkids. Knowing that he’s not likely going to be like the other kids that are all around you.  (and I wonder this: did they know that he might prematurely die because of destiny God had for him?).

All these sacrifices are what parents who have kids that have special needs or chronic/terminal illnesses have to process through. They know that their children won’t ever be like the “rest of the kids”and that can be painful.

But every parent has to deal with some worries, some apprehensions, some knowledge that we will never be enough. Or some disappointment with how our kid is turning out.

But maybe facing these things and giving them to God is ever so freeing.

God spared Elizabeth and Zacharias and was so very faithful.

(He even gave them great names: Zacharias means: God remembers. And Elizabeth means: God promised and God is plentiful.)

Think about this: they were barren (so had some shame locked up in their heart-closets) that God freed them of when He gave them John.

They were old, but were re-gifted new hope, new wonder, new mysteries to dream on instead of dull waiting-for-the-end-kind-of-living.

They were seasoned and wise and had had the chance to watch everyone around them raise kids and had probably banked tons of “if we ever had a child this is what we will do” tidbits within them.

They were elderly, and were therefore likely spared (because they would have already died of old age) the terrible pain of watching your son be put in jail and beheaded by your king.

They were old enough to have lots of perspective and likely didn’t stress out about the little things (like desert scorpions, sheesh!) and instead kept their eyes and hearts focused on the fact that they KNEW God had said: “And YOU child, will be called the prophet of the Most High: For you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways.”

They were able to let John’s spirit go and get strong (vs 80) as he met with God in the desert because Zacharias had everything that John needed. (He was a priest and could train John in the scriptures and ways of God without even leaving home.)

They were given the life of awesomeness. (Side thought:but God did promise good things to those who were righteous and faithful- and they were both. (Luke 1:6))

So where does this leave me?

Personally- I want to raise my kids with the assurance of God’s PERFECT timing (it was super perfect for Elizabeth and Zacharias)  so that I’m not fretting over the “what was or what will be’s?”

I want to raise my kids knowing that God has a plan for them. That it’s His plan, not my plan, so I can relax a little.

I want to raise my kids knowing that whatever they need to face whatever God’s got planned, He has likely provided it to me already. (Think Zacharias having priestly training for John’s career as a preacher…)

I want to raise my kids not worrying about legacy-leaving the way that the world does. I want to launch them with God’s dreams in their hearts, not my own grand-baby kind of dreams.

I want to be reminded that each child is special. Every last one has been perfectly timed, perfectly choreographed for the part and role they are playing in God’s amazing story.

And I want to not stress out about the small details as much. Haircuts and skinny jeans aren’t predictors of success. (I know, I know.)

I want to give them the freedom to meet God and be strengthened in their spirits- and that part might look unconventional.  But it is important.

Most importantly- I want to ask God each day to remind me that these babies I am raising are actually His children, and to hold them tightly and loosely as they grow in being a blessing to the people around them.

(P.S. I soooooooo want to meet Elizabeth and Zacharias when I get to heaven. Seriously. They are my new hero parents!)

 

 

Clarified. (Again.)

Kids. What wouldn’t we do for our kids? How many dreams would we fill for them if we could?

Hudson got a letter in the mail about 2 months ago letting us know that he is eligible for the “Make a Wish” program, which is available to any child battling a life-threatening illness.

A couple nights ago, he and the big kids sat down with me to google “Make a Wish” and we watched Youtube video after video of all the fun wishes that kids had received. Some went to Disney, some got new rooms, some had a favourite person come and meet with them, and they were all very sweet.

The thing is: when you get a “Make a Wish” letter in the mail, you have this terrible realization as a parent that if the hardness of the journey isn’t real yet, it suddenly becomes terrifyingly real.

You have a heart-sinking-like-a-rock realization that you are now the parent of a child who is battling for their life. This is not how you typically imagine your parenting journey will be when you are planning your coming babies nursery. Not how you would imagine your parenting journey when you are thinking about RESP’s and planning which schools they should attend. Not what you think about when you prepare to return to work after your mat leave.

It’s a weird, weird place to be. To be confronted with your child’s mortality every day. Those of us who are younger suppose that it is a normal place for some people to be- after all, the aged in their retirement homes are supposed to be grateful for each day they have and try to “live life to the fullest” because they don’t know how much longer they will have.

But it’s not typically how you start your parenting journey.

And so a slow slide has happened for me in my soul. I’m just realizing it now.

After we got the letter, a friend of mine reminded me of what a beautiful AWESOME gift it is that we’ve been provided with- imagine! Any wish Hudson’s wants will come true when he’s ready! He can even take the whole immediate family to Disney World if he wants. Crazy!

But the only wish I’ve really wanted isn’t on the list. I’ve wanted Hudson’s health so badly. I’ve wanted for this exhausting circle of doctors, specialists, needles, coughing, medicines and supplements to be over. I’ve wanted to see Hudson strong, growing, running, going to school like a “normal” kid. I’ve believed my goals were noble, right, good and I’ve spent most of my time petitioning God for Hudson’s healing. It’s what I think about day and night, and it’s what I want more than anything.

Luke 14:25-35

” A large crowd was following Jesus. 

He turned around and said to them,  “If you want to be my disciple (my follower), you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. 

 And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?  Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (

“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.

“Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again?  Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

With chronic illness, our hearts can wander into dangerous territory:

Coveting- because we wish we had the health of others.

Greed-because even if we are well for a time, it’s never enough.

Selfishness/Self-pity- because we are the ones who need more than others. It’s not fair.

Pride- because we don’t want to ask for help, we are tired of always being the one to ask for help.

Deception-if God really loved us, He would take this “cross” of illness off our shoulders and let us skip and run in the meadows…. therefore, does He love us?

Fear- looking into the future and feeling like there won’t be enough. Enough time, enough resources, enough patience or enough hope.

My heart has stayed into all these places at times, because the desire I have for Hudson’s healing burns within me so intensely everyday. But it has become a distraction. It has become a goal that has had me following Hudson, instead of Jesus.

I have made living life the goal. Staying alive and being well while being alive have become the goal.

And you know what? It feels hollow. Empty. Like something is missing.  That’s because it’s missing something more important- Jesus.

Jesus wanted us to make our relationship with Him the priority- and THEN He would provide life, even life that was overflowing.

Why? Because how hard would it be to keep a marriage alive with all the best bits of love (the mystery, romance, surprises, conversations) if you only married for the things that the other person offered you? What would you do if they could no longer offer you those things? Couldn’t it eventually destroy your relationship?

So following Jesus around these days, looking for a “healing-hand-out” so that I can get on with my normal life, and be a normal family again is exactly why I had to read this scripture this morning.

Following Jesus is about being with Him. Nothing held back. No secret manipulative, negotiating motives. Just being with Him because.

Because He made us. Because He will be the ultimate prize when we die. Not the stuff, the health, the experiences, the travel, the family, not even the very awesome heavenly home or rewards He promised us…. Just Him.

And the real catch? When I peel back the layers of what I really want, more than anything, I want peace and happiness in my home. I have allowed Hudson’s illness to rob me of peace and happiness in my heart, because I set my eyes on his health above all. (Hard not to, when you see your kids struggling to breathe- so don’t think I’m over here self-condemning– I get that this is strange and so tough.)

But I’m brought back– peace and happiness always are a place that is hidden inside our hearts, and are not given to us by our external circumstances. Because even when everything is perfect, we can be freaking out inside that the perfection will end someday and we don’t want it to.

So the inner bit of us matters more than the outer bits do. And the only One who has ever lastingly affected my inner-bits has been Jesus.  When I am with Him in my heart, I do have peace. I do have joy. I do have a face like steel that can face an uncertain circumstances and know that they do not dictate my present state of being.

Hear Jesus’s words: If I make Him first, I will finish the tower (accomplish the goals I set out), win the war (we will have peace and victory), be the salty salt (be a desirable and good mom, friend and pastor.)

If He is first, I will get to walk with Him as He walks with me carrying our crosses together. For I do not serve a God who is unwilling to experience pain, heart ache, and sorrow with me.

In fact, He suffered more than I will ever suffer. And He trusted His Father to the very end.

Oh, how He loves us!

Why shouldn’t I trust Him? And why shouldn’t I pray with, model and train my children that a relationship with Jesus is the lasting prize- (oh! how their faces light up when they get to hang out with Nana or Grandma or Papa- they prefer the people over gifts every time…)

So, walking with Him allows me to sink fully into the place of thankfulness, excitement and gratitude I want to be in when I consider “Make a Wish.” How cool, how insanely awesome it is to be in a world where people care about kids like Hudson! We are blessed, blessed, blessed! But it’s nice to know deep down that the “Wish” isn’t the goal, being with Jesus each day is. No one can take that, and that wish never ends….

I want to finish my life well– and as I run this marathon, it’s nice to have the goal re-clarified– it’s not what I can get from God, it is  being with God Himself.

 

 

Discovery.

jesus-with-a-child.jpgOn Friday, Hudson had another MRI. This makes four scans for him- and he has rocked every single one of them.

As parents, we couldn’t be more proud, more relieved and more thankful to have a four-year old who seems to have the grace to knuckle down and do whatever the doctors are asking him to do with a minimal amount of tears and drama.

It makes the difficult bits for all of us just a little easier.

This time, Andrew took Hudson to the London Children’s hospital to have his scan at the bright and sunny hour of 7:30 am. (Which meant a wake-up and go of 5:30am…)

I got up with my two boys, and spent the time they were driving in prayer before my big kids needed to get to school.

I started by praying the same old things… “God, keep them safe… God give them peace…. God help Hudson to be brave…. God help him to stay still and to be patient…”

And two minutes later, I was in full blown tears-and-kleenex-laying-on-the-floor- kind of praying.

I realized that even though it’s Hudson’s body that is in pain and suffering, it is Andrew and I who are being broken and remoulded in this time too.

There are so many kinds of brokenness, and countless blogs, devotionals and self-help books on the topic. Many have been incredibly helpful to us as we face the future.

But for me, on that day, I saw the layers we were walking through and finally a way forward began to surface.

Hudson’s asthma is our immediate, life-threatening concern. He struggles nearly every week to keep his lungs filled with the air he needs to live. It means countless trips to the family doctor and ER, and consistent daily monitoring with lots of puffers and medications. It can be exhausting, draining and is just one foot-after-the-other healing.

Some of us have brokenness that is like asthma- the kind that threatens our very breath. It robs us of life. It becomes a top priority to find help to manage- because with out help, there will be no further life.

Hudson’s tumour isn’t as urgent- it’s stable, (annoying) and unwelcome. But it’s not an immediate-life-threatening issue right now. (It has potential to be, but it isn’t.)

Some of our brokenness is like that tumour– annoying, but manageable. It can be damaging if we “pretend” that it isn’t there, that our hearts aren’t wounded or that our lives don’t need some attention from time to time. But it’s not the kind of broken that needs to consume us. We can live, we can fight, we can keep reaching for our goals (like making it to Kindergarten class each day for Hudson.)

Hudson’s stamina and overall health isn’t even on most doctor’s radars- but it is on my mom radar. I’m the one that keeps pushing the health care providers, and they keep surfacing new mystery’s each time I press– such as, why have his iron-levels dropped dramatically again? And why does he keep getting ear infections? And why can’t he make it through a whole day at week at school without getting really sick?

This level of broken is the kind that only God knows we have- the sort of deep level soul-sickness that we can’t see and need a Father to help us unravel. The kind that only the Holy Spirit can reveal to us, and send us the help we need to solve the mystery. This is when that awesome daily connection we have with Him makes our lives infinity more hopeful- He keeps pressing us to wholeness, health and stamina….but we can’t even see what needs fixing even though He is monitoring us moment by moment.

When I sat up with my kleenex and reflected on the depth of my thoughts, an old song wriggled into my conscience. “Put in me, a clean heart, put in me O God…” (Enter the Worship Circle by Waterdeep.)

He moved me past broken thoughts, and made my mind flood with images of the past.

There was a time when my mom was in a desperate, urgent need of healing- and it seemed like that time would never end, that she would never be made whole. We prayed and prayed, but nothing was swift or immediate.

That was over 20 years ago– and when her face was in my mind, I only saw the joy and beauty of a life slowly transforming and still healing- she is not who she was. She is INFINITELY better, INFINITELY more beautiful and compassionate.

There was the time when I was in distress of what I should become when I grew up. I sought in anguish (and was so worried I would disappoint God)  and wondered every day if I had made the right choices. And  then my heart was filled with gratitude, because today I am living and loving the woman He is growing me up to become.

Looking behind and seeing the marks of God on my life and the lives I’ve journeyed with was like getting to a resting ledge on a rock-climbing trip. I sat, rested, looked down at the climb and breathed deeply.

And then I looked up and I saw only Faith, Hope and Love calling me forward.

Faith- because He was with me, He never left any of us, and He had woven all those things below me together for good.

Hope, because why WOULDN’T He keep that pattern? He must have a purpose, because He definitely invested in us.

Love- why would He do this for me? For my family? How great must His love be if He picked us out of the 7 billion people (and counting) on the planet?

Yesterday we heard from the family doctor that Hudson’s tumour scans are as we expected- stable, no growth or change and still there. (Phew.)

So, we have to buckle up and get comfortable in the waiting period again (which can be about as easy as trying to relax while you are going up the giant hill of a roller coaster ride you didn’t want to go on in the first place).

But I think this next season of waiting will be easier- because I will look behind, and sing the praises of what has happened as I wait for the what will be.

Anxious? No, not me!

Presently, life is a bit raw.

As in, nothing seems to quite line up with the ways that I have figured it should.

Take, for example, the situation I have found myself in with my youngest son, Hudson.

Last June, Hudson was diagnosed with a brain tumour. A type I glioma, (non-cancerous at this moment) and seemingly inactive.

We found out about this tumour because I’d been on a pit-bull adventure of wrestling some answers out of the health care system for his chronic, uncontrollable asthma.

And today, our family has lived for just over a year with the terrible knowledge of that tumour just sitting there. It hasn’t changed this year. And he is still symptom-free, but he is always getting sick with every cold, flu, pneumonia  and virus you can find.

Tough.

How do I reconcile the possibility and dread of an upcoming, pending evil event (say, surgery?) with a profound gratitude, deeply felt on all levels for the time to let him grow up, to search and see if he might be healed, and steady his system with loads of good things?

I fear, this dichotomy, of dread and gratitude has made me feel disingenuous, inauthentic, and ridiculously tossed about.
(Reminds me of a verse…how about the person anchored in doubt? Tossed much?)

I have shrunk from saying what I really feel, how I’m really processing, because I’ve been afraid of this torn-ness.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I know that one moment I will be praising- filled with faith and gratitude, and the next moment I’ll be so deeply aware of the unsteady ground I’m on– can ANY one really imagine what a parent must go through when their children’s brain is being opened up and surgically repaired?
(Just that thought still makes my eyes well up in tears…)

But I’ve learned something. Something that is slowly transforming me.

This place that I’ve found myself in- tossed and torn- has shown me a hidden enemy.

Anxiety.

Ah yes! You’ve heard of him? You have perhaps experienced him for yourself?
Truly, Anxiety is the plague of our modern society… you can meet him on Facebook, on the people’s faces as they watch the news, on the roads as we rage against each other in our rush to get where we need to be. You especially find in him the hospital…

And I almost allowed him to rule over me. To own my life.

Almost.

One day while I was contemplating this situation that I’m in, I saw a little picture of my feet all bound up in those iron shackles. I saw my hands similarly bound. And I was stuck.

I was a prisoner.

It took a good six months or more for me to realize that I was even captured. I told everyone that I was fine. That I didn’t worry or feel like anything was out of God’s control. (Which was true–because I was able to admit that I believed God could heal, would heal and was good no matter what… but I never took the next step.)

I was too scared to admit that I was anxious (the next step) because I was full of pride. I wanted to be a model for my church, a model for the blog world, a perfectly perfect model for my family (who all knew that I was struggling, so who am I kidding?)

I worried about worry. And was anxious about being labelled anxious.

And the whisper of a song – a song written thousands of years ago called me out to deal with this denial…

David sang to God (who didn’t smite him with a lightening bolt for his feelings) and he said this:

Psalm 3

1 O Lord, I have so many enemies;
so many are against me.
2 So many are saying,
“God will never rescue him!”
3 But you, O Lord, are a shield around me;
you are my glory, the one who holds my head high.
4 I cried out to the Lord,
and he answered me…..
5 I lay down and slept…
(You) watch over me.
6 I am not afraid of (my) enemies
(when I am)surrounded on every side.
7 Arise, O Lord!
Rescue me, my God!
8 Victory comes from you, O Lord.
May you bless your people.

I have enemies. They are called worry, sickness, dread, death, ambition, selfishness…. so many plotting to snag me and keep me mired in this pit of anxiety.

And sickness taunts me: “God will not rescue Hudson. He hasn’t yet…”

And dread whispers: ” You are on your own. God will not be there when you need Him most.”

And worry shouts: “WHAT WILL YOU DO??? YOU ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH! YOU DON’T HAVE THE RESOURCES! YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH FAMILY AROUND! WHO WILL CARE FOR YOU AS YOU CARE FOR HUDSON? WHO WILL TAKE CARE OF OLIVIA AND ALEX? YOU ARE ABANDONING THEM! YOU ARE ALL THEY HAVE AND THIS IS THE BEST YOU CAN BRING?? THIS IS TOO MUCH! ”

These are loud, ever-present voices, and I’ve come to see I need rescuing from them more than from my actual daily circumstances.

But then David gives me fighting words– words to gingerly, then confidently speak back to Anxiety.

“I cried out to the Lord and He answered me.”

He has heard.

He has not forgotten.

He is God. And He is good.

He watched over me. He makes me lie down in sleep (merciful!) because He is standing guard.

He rescues His people. Where is one time in the bible when He doesn’t save His people?
And He ends the battle in my mind with His decided Victory- which comes from Him and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Anxiety will always be here to dodge our steps. Especially if we are called to lead others. (As a parent, as a business leader, as teacher, as a small group leader…)

If we all quit leading or doing what God called us to do each time we faced our enemy Anxiety, where would that take us? Would I let Anxiety win over my life? Is that where I might end up if I don’t face him?

Rather, day by day, I sing with the Psalmist- I acknowledge my Enemy. I stare him in the eye and I remind him Who rescues me. I remind Him that though there may be days when I’m tossed around and crying under my bedcovers, he is not the boss. He doesn’t own me. He doesn’t get to be the winner.

God does.

And you know what? I’ve been feeling a lot better.

(My spiritual muscles are getting beefed up… it’s getting easier to tell Aniexty where to go…)
In fact, this is me: Away for the day from my son (because the crazy thing that happens with anxiety is that you can worry that only you are equipped to care for a certain person or people group…) and I am HAPPY. I’m in a cafe, with a chai-non-dairy-latte in a totally gorgeous town ALL BY MYSELF. Happy. Not worried. Happy.IMG_20160927_134229.jpg

Baby steps.

Here is my favourite musical version of Psalm 3 if you need to sing it daily like I do:

Fork in the Road.

psalm 23

This blog is for everyone who is standing at a place in life where they need to make a decision.

Big ones?

Small ones?

The challenge on the roads of life is sometimes not the road itself, but which one to travel along.

There have been times in my life when I am traveling a good path- a beautiful green, lush road, filled with hope, life and laughter.
I have come to “forks” in those roads with optimism, knowing that whatever decision I make could take me into even greener, more beautiful pathways.

There have been times (like now) when I am wandering in circles in the desert- wondering when I come to forks in the barren landscape if they will actually take me anywhere, or just lead me back in circles again.

Those choices can be filled with dread, and sometimes discouragement. When will I ever find those green paths again? Did I just dream them up? Will this desert bloom for me? Or will it always be this way?

All week I’ve been staring at the proverbial “fork” in my road, trying to know which path to take. I wish they would interweave together or even travel along in the same direction, but I know that at some point they diverge.

We have been seeing a homeopathic doctor and at times a naturopath for Hudson’s health.  We have also been seeing several specialists (neurosurgeon, cardiologist, respirologist, paediatrician, dietician, and family doctor).

This week when he was diagnosed with strep throat, which morphed into a terrible asthma exacerbation, I saw the fork.

Do I chose the conventional medicine- go with the antibiotics, puffers and steroids?
Or do I listen to the homeopath– and just use natural remedies, and hope that his body is strong enough to fight?

East or West? Big company or small company?

Could there be a way to use them together like I’ve been trying all year?

I don’t know.

Looking at the choice I had to make for Hudson in the space of an afternoon made me realize that I deeply, desperately wanted a specialist to walk with me- someone who knew everything about western medicine and all the natural medicines and could marry them together in a perfect dance to help Hudson heal completely.

Who could do such a thing? I’ve never heard of anyone that knowledgable—except one.

His name is the Holy Spirit.

Comforter yes. Counsellor. Thank God.

Guide. Oh. Right.

There is a choice to make- and there is a voice crying out to me in this desert- telling me which way to go this time. There is only my need to remember that I can hear His voice. I can know His voice. I can follow His voice.

If I want.

And then this: there are times when like the Israelites wandering around in the desert for 40 years, He might lead me down roads that just don’t feel lush, green or safe.

(Psalm 23- anyone remember the valley of the shadow of death? Sound fun?)

I might, like a chosen child of God traveling to the Promised Land, released from my slavery, need to spend a little time getting to know God in the desert. No distractions, only opportunities to trust Him. No complaining, only watching and waiting for Him to provide. No arguing, only knowing that He who called me out of there will lead me into the fullness of life that He promised. (and really, He is the only one who knows the way in the desert anyhow.)

So Mama’s and Daddies with sick babies and big choices…

So Mama’s and Daddies with big burdens and exhausted shoulders…

So Mama’s and Daddies traveling free and easy and enjoying a rest…

When we come to these forks in our paths, we only have two things in our backpacks.

One- we have the habits and practices that we’ve used to help us chose before- the songs that move us, the books that motivate us, the people who inspire us, the silence that calms us, the foods that fill us, the shopping that distracts us, the movies that numb us….

Look carefully at the habits you have relied on before to make those tough choices. Are they enough to carry you along this road? Will they lead you to the second thing in your back pack, or leave you empty, complaining and wondering where God is?

Two. The Holy Spirit. He IS WITH you. Literally. Seek and you will find. Do not grow weary of asking. Do not trust your habits. Push past your “I just need to veg with this tv show, because it’s too hard to make a choice right now” moments and make a change. Take 5 minutes in the silence and listen for His voice. Fill the air with His words- sing them, speak them, listen to someone else speak them.

We are going to the Promised Land- and He has begun that Promise here in the Kingdom that God is building right now.  It is one of Hope. One of Love. One of Trust. And it has begun in our hearts as we chose Him over our radios, Tim Hortons, Facebook scrolls and Netflix marathons.

(Caviat: I’m not saying never be a Facebook geek or Netflix marathoner- just be mindful: is that where you turn when facing challenges? Are they the distraction to take your eyes off the prize- the prize of KNOWING what God is actually doing and where He is actually taking you and yours?)

So- this week, I came in gratitude to the Lord for Hudson’s tumour. (Weird I know.) But I saw what’s happening in me, and realized He has led me every crazy step of the way.
I was dry. Cracked. Crying. I didn’t know what or how to chose for Hudson. All I had was the deepest ache for him to be whole and healed.

And that’s when I turned to my backpack, and found that over this year, it’s been filled with scripture, songs and advice that all turn me to Jesus.

It was EASY to sit, and rest in silence with Him as I listened for His voice to guide me.

And after I heard Him, I knew that whatever comes next, whatever forks I find myself facing, I can see that He is with me.

We are building together something that can never be taken away (like health or wealth).

He and I are building together in this beautiful relationship a character of the most exquisite beauty that will last all of eternity.

So glad I’m not trying to do this alone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a thought on Girls…

lifetouch_20151123131718So- I don’t often write about my experiences with a gorgeous, vivacious, possibly dramatic 9 year old girl that I call my precious daughter.

But today, I’ve been wondering…

Last night I drove home from church pretty late (as I was sorting clothes for our community clothing exchange- honestly, so fun!) and my mind turned to praying for my daughter.

9 has not been the easiest of times for her. She alternates from insane giddiness (with giggle fits late at night as she reads in her bed) to seriously feisty, “none-of-my-brothers-listen-to-me-and-do-exactly-as-I-say” outbursts.

Last night she collapsed after school in her bed, bawling because her brother and his friend wanted to play with her and her friend on the school bus– but the girls wanted “alone girl time” and the boys “just wouldn’t leave us alone.”  (Can we say Classic?)

(The funny thing was, just the week before, she had collapsed and cried because “my brother wouldn’t play with me, he only wants to play with his friends…why is he so cruel?”)

(Can we say Tension?)

Living with that angst isn’t new to me. I’m a first born girl, born of a first born girl… so I get it.  (Maybe I struggled with bossiness?)

I see her total desire to be right, to be responsible, to be grown-up and live her dreams running parallel with her need to be a child, to be cuddled, to be forgiven and carefree.

She hasn’t learned yet how to live with the tension in her heart of all the things she could be, wants to be, and will be living beside her limitations, immaturity and steep learning curve.
(Not to mention the “puberty” word that is just around the corner…)

It made me think of myself as a grown woman- and of tensions I feel as  a mom.

We have moments where we know that we were divinely given our children, because they are perfect for us. We feel inspired, loving, and like total goddesses of our homes. We teach them, nurture them and guide them with wisdom and feel like we can handle what we’ve been given.

But then there are moments (or seasons) when we struggle intensely- didn’t we know what to do before? Where did all our skills go? How was it that 5 seconds ago we were ROCKIN’ parenthood, and now we are blowing it? We must be completely under-qualified- who thought we would be good at this mothering thing anyway? Obviously we aren’t ready and will never be ready- O God! Please rescue us from ourselves!

Don’t we often hold this tension so tightly to our hearts and become discouraged?

Our limitations will collide with our expectations and it can cause a little 9 year old meltdown in our hearts.  (Maybe this only happens to other first-born moms…I bet you last-born moms are so much more chill than I am…:)

What are we supposed to do? How do we navigate these seasons, the growth curves? We can say all the right things, and remind ourselves to be patient, but let’s be honest- we live in a world of  tensions- “be free to be yourself, express who you are, pursue your dreams, but don’t put your kid in the backyard with out being an arm length away because some major disaster could occur…” These collisions seem to hit hard each day- making living life way trickier than it should be.

When Olivia doesn’t know what to do, she talks to her mom. (Or waits for me to come and talk with her- or I wait for her to talk with me because I know she needs me…)

Ephesians 4 in the NLV sounds a lot like the way I talk as a mother with Olivia…and makes me think that this is the way our Heavenly Father is speaking with us…

He holds us tightly and lightly because He is growing us up in the responsibility He has desire to release us to, but He knows that growing up is hard to do, so He lavished His love on us as we trip along.

He speaks the truth to us in scripture, and He comforts us when we have trouble digesting the truth. He know our lives are riddled with collisions of ideals vs. realities and He gives us the gift of faith to see us through.

He has been where we are, He is where we are going. Jesus grew up too. He knows how hard it is for us to journey to maturity as moms. He doesn’t take that journey from us and give us an easier one, rather- He comes with us. He helps us. And He cheers us on. (Just like we do with our little ones.)

Ephesians 4:23 Let your minds and hearts be made new. You must become a new person and be God-like. Then you will be made right with God and have a true holy life.

So my sweet daughter- I will grow up with you. I will not let you feel like you are alone in this maturing process, for as you grow and struggle, so do I.

Together we will find that we are being made new people– just as you will no longer be my sweet baby, but my lovely woman daughter, I will no longer be a baby in Christ- I will be a grown up woman who can navigate the tensions of life and seek help from the One who always has what I need.