He’ll Meet You In The Storm

November 21, 2001, is a day I will never forget.

It was the day before Thanksgiving. It was also the day my husband of seventeen years pulled into our driveway after having been to a doctor’s appointment to receive a report on a biopsy taken a week earlier. We had not been nervous about the appointment; we had been told the lump he’d found on his neck was most likely just a cyst that would need surgery to remove. But the news was not good. Michael was told he had stage 4 cancer and was given only 30% chance of survival. As a stay-at-home mother of 4 children ranging from five to thirteen years of age, a sense of panic washed over me.

I vividly remember sitting on our bed that evening holding each other. As we did, my husband said, “You know, we’ve been given a sacred trust. Our lives have been so easy up to now.” I wanted to respond by reminding him of other  difficulties we’d encountered (hoping to convince the eavesdropping Almighty that we’d already suffered enough), but I knew Michael was right. And now, before us was a golden opportunity to teach our children how to suffer as Christians.

The next six months dragged our family through some dark places. We journeyed through the world of hospitals, radical surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and feeding tubes and watched Michael lose his ability to speak and eat, causing him to lose almost a third of his body weight. Frankly, it was terrifying.

We speak often in the Church of God’s sufficient grace, but it’s hard to wrap our minds around what that is. I can tell you firsthand, I have witnessed God’s grace. God gave us everything we needed and more. He provided financially beyond anything we could have ever imagined. I cannot recall one day during that time when we did not receive cards to encourage us, frequently from people we didn’t even know. Many times these included financial help. Our church provided a means for people to support us financially during that time. Folks were so generous, we eventually asked our pastor to send a letter asking folks to stop giving! Special friends provided for our children’s needs, too, taking them out to do fun activities and having them over. Even as I write this, I’m overcome to the point of tears at the incredible way God provided.

Not only did God provide for our physical needs, He also provided for our emotional needs. Before cancer invaded our lives, I’d look at people going through difficult situations and think, “Wow, they are so strong. I wonder how they’re doing it?” But as we walked through cancer, the following  verses became very real to me.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.

                                                                                                                ~ Hebrews 4:15, 16

Prior to my husband’s diagnosis, I didn’t have that strength, nor did I need it, but God provided it at the proper time.

By God’s grace my husband is alive and doing well today. We’ve watched three of our five children graduate from high school, two of them from college;  we adopted a child from Guatemala; my husband walked our oldest daughter down the aisle on her wedding day to a godly young man, and just last year we became grandparents. Each milestone bears witness to the fact that every day is a gift; a reminder of God’s undeserved grace.

As we think back to that year, we often say, “While we wouldn’t wish cancer on our worst enemy, we wouldn’t trade that experience and the lessons we learned for the world.” We feel like Job who after coming out of the storm of his life declared, “ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job 42:5)

If you’re facing some darkness, you do not need to fear. He is waiting for you with the grace you will need. Lean on Him, He’s more than enough!

Blessings,

Barb

Photo Credit:  http://trigger.photoshelter.com/image/I0000R94fjX9xInE

 

Blessed Dishes.

Dishes

The view from my side of the world...

I ring out the wash cloth after dipping in soapy water.  I sulk to the sticky kitchen table and start wiping.

“You know, I feel like a hampster in one of those plastic wheels.  All day I clean.  All day!  I clean, clean, clean.  I wash dishes, what?  Five times a day?  I organize dishes, I wash them, I dry them, I put them away, I take them out again… I make a meal and start all over.  Argh!”

Back to the sink, dip cloth, ring it out, and now the counter tops.  My husband just looks up, smiles slightly, and keeps scrubbing the pot in his hands.

“I mean, seriously!” I continue.  “It’s all I do.  It’s practically my unpaid occupation!  I clean half-done crafts, I pick up toys, books, games, play-doh… I scrub toilets, I vacuum – like 4 times a day now that we have Molly (our 85lbs Golden Retriever Pup).  I do dishes.  That’s what I do.  I should have gotten a degree in soap suds or something.”

He snorts and shakes his head.

I shake mine too, finally stopping myself from further outburst.  And then – I quit ranting long enough to allow my mind to wander in the silence of our little country home full of sleeping kids.  I start thinking about the Mamas out there who don’t have a kitchen. Mamas who don’t have warm walls around them and safe places to play with their sweet babies.  Mamas who can’t wash dishes in the sink because there is no running water.  Mamas who may not even have dishes to do because there was no food to cook.  And then I start clearing plates and looking at all the waste the kids had left behind.  Mashed potatoes, corn, carrots, half of a buttered tea biscuit, almost a full piece of chicken breast.  My eyes well-up as I realize the amount of food I scrape into the green bin could be enough to feed a starving child a bigger meal than he’ll get in a week.

The conviction hits me like a freight train and I hunch over the table, allowing the tears to flow – the emotions to hit me.  The way you smack someone on the cheek who’s passed out, that’s the way they hit me. “Wake up, Cass!” (Smack.)  “CASS!  WAKE UP!!!” (Smack, smack, smack!)

Once again I’m reminded of my own immaturity and where I’m truly standing on this journey of life.  Not even close to ‘there’.  I complain and grumble when I tidy up at the end of a busy day.  And I fail to realize what that means.  It means I say no to God’s blessing in my life.  That I choose to heave a juvenile “whatever” to all He has given me.  (And it’s then when I am brought to my knees for the grace over me and thankful for humble women who teach so freely.)  And thankful too that life is a journey and we get second chances.  And third, fourth, fifth…

I have so much more than I’ll ever need.  I can run warm water to wash our dishes.  I have a warm, clean kitchen filled with artwork from our kids, spices, teas, delicious goodies, and happy family memories.  I have electricity.  I have a fridge full of healthy, fresh food I can reach in and give my child when he is hungry.  I have clean drinking water to offer my daughter when she is thirsty.  I’ve never had to feel my heart burst and turn violently inside my chest while I watch my children cry in pain because they are starving and their Mama has no food to give them.

This may not sound like the kind of thoughts that would fill me with anything but extreme sorrow.  And I do feel sorrow – I weep for all the families who live in poverty and especially those Mothers who simply cannot provide the basic necessities for their children.  I pray for them and we help them, but not enough.  We could do more.  Always more.  And starting with this – having the humble respect to be THANKFUL for what I have.  Not greedily and ignorantly whining because I have chores to do.

I want this feeling to last – the wide-eyed dish-doing realization that I am so weak and so selfish and also so underservingly, richly given-to.  I want to live in light of all I have, not all I don’t have.  I want to grip for dear life at the whispered prayer for God to help me remember all the Mamas who are equal to me in every way, deserving all I’ve never deserved to have.  To give to them freely and openly.  To never ever take a simple task like ‘doing the dishes’ for granted.  The fact that I can and need to do the daily chore of ‘washing up’ makes me deeply and immeasurably blessed in so many ways.

So yes, these stacked up, mucked-up, caked-on plates are indeed, Blessed Dishes.

This post was shared at:
• Homestead Barn Hop
• Soli Deo Gloria
• Domestically Divine
• Gratituesdays
• Titus2sdays
• On Your Heart Tuesdays
Living Well Wednesdays
Homemaking Link-Up
• Works for Me Wednesday
• Welcome Wednesdays
Big Family Fridays

 

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