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

 

Jordan River Remembering

I’m adding new rocks to our Jordan River Stones today…

Is that why the Israelites keep recounting their past–
to trust God for their future?
Remembering is an act of thanksgiving,
this turn of the heart over time’s shoulder to see
all the long way His arms have carried.

~Ann Voskamp

This is not a new idea… (it’s actually quite old).

Nor is it my idea… (it’s actually one that God thought up).

But we’ve piled up “Jordan River Stones” for many years now.

The idea comes from Joshua 4 where God told the Israelites to:

“Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone…that this may be a sign among you.  When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord…so these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever…so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.”
~Joshua 4: 5,6,7&24

So whenever something happens that reminds us of God’s love or provision or power, we write it down on a stone to help us remember to– not forget.

Because it’s so easy to forget–
His goodness.
His faithfulness.
His power.
His love.

And the kiddos do ask–  “What do those stones mean to you?”

Some rocks remind of big things–  healing, financial provision, a new birth…

Some seem small– like the time our Laura prayed we would find an American Girl doll at a garage sale.  Even after I made several, faithless attempts to fill her with doubt.  God answered her prayer that day because He knew it would show her 7-year-old-heart something special about who He is and His love for her.

I see that rock and remember our young daughter dumping her small bag of change into the lady’s money box and I think, “His lovingkindness is great toward us…” ~Psalm 117:2.

I look back over these rocks of rememberance as I add a new one today…

 

…praising Him for the way He gives us concrete evidence of His love.

I want to remember.

“But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is (His) faithfulness.”
~Lam. 3:21

 

 

Teaching Our Kids to Have a Heavenly Perspective and Better Mom Mondays Link-up!

I don’t want our kids to feel at home here…

Because–

This is not their home.

Yes–I want them to enjoy life.
And be healthy.
And feel comfort.
And know safety.
And taste success.

But not if it means that they–
Feel too much at home.

And that’s why over here–
We talk a lot about Heaven.
And that’s why over here–
We also talk about death.

And yes–I get it.
There’s a balance.
We’re not trying to load them down with more than their little hearts and minds can handle, but if anything–  the see-saw is weighted too heavily on the other end.

We live in a mirage of security.
Where we think there is a medicine or method or mystic or mantra that can keep us from being
Mortal.
But it’s a dangerous illusion to uphold–
Creating myopic vision.
Eternal fervor dampened under the delusion of the here and now.
But those redeemed by Christ are not citizens of this here and now.
No–

“our citizenship is in Heaven, 

and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

~Philippians 3:20

So, we do talk about death.  We don’t shy away from it.
Because for most people, in most places, in most times throughout history–
Death is a common foe.
And in the midst of the grief, something healthy comes from that heartache.
No one has to convince us that–
“…we are but dust.
And a man comes to know that–

“his days are like grass;
he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it,
and it is gone; and its place knows it no more.”
~Psalm 103:14-16

When I fail as a parent.
When I fall into worry.
When I sense our child hurting.
When I see tragedy strike.
It all makes me long for Heaven.

Because Heaven changes everything.
It shifts our dreams, our goals, our direction.
It affects our pain, our sorrow, our fears.
Heaven gives us hope.

“We want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died
so you will not grieve like people who have no hope…
Then we will be with the Lord forever. 
So encourage each other with these words.”
~1 Thessalonians 4:13, 16-18

Heaven moves us to invest in what will endure–
Forever.
Heaven gives us courage to sacrifice for what will last–
Forever.

So, as I said…
I don’t want our kids to feel at home here.
I want them to know–
To really know that:

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more…”
~Revelation 21:4

I want them to believe–
To really believe that:

Jesus said,
And if I go and prepare a place for you,
I will come again and will take you to myself,
that where I am you may also be.”
~John 14:3

And I want them to live–

To really live in such a way that when they reach Heaven they will say:

“I have come home at last!  This is my real country!  I belong here.”
~C.S. Lewis The Last Battle

Practical ideas for renewing an eternal perspective:

–Read Randy Alcorn’s Heaven for Kids or any of the other excellent resources offered byEternal Perspectives Ministries.
–Subscribe toThe Voice of Martyrs magazine.  Reading about Believers around the world who are facing persecution always shifts my perspective.
–Develop relationships with some of the older, faithful Christians in your church family who can communicate an assurance of Heaven.
–Read or listen to missionary biographies.  We highly recommend those offered by Desiring God.  For younger children, we also recommend YWAM’s Hero Biographies, Dave & Neta Jackson’s entire series of Hero Tales, Catherine Mackenzie’s Little Lights series, and The Torchlighter’s Heroes of the Faith movies.
–Read Krista Horning’s book Just the Way I Am and Heaven by Joni Eareckson Tada.
–Talk about real life.  Our oldest son became a Christian on January 22, 2008.  I know the exact date because it was the day Heath Ledger died.  We were talking about his death at dinner and how much changes the moment a person dies, which led to a longer discussion that God used to transform our son’s heart.  Everyday Talk is an excellent book about incorporating biblical conversations in everyday life.
–Begin every morning thanking God that–“We are looking forward to a new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” ~2 Peter 3:13

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Sharing with thanks over at:

Growing Home, Raising Arrows

Titus2sdays, Women in the Word,

Raising Homemakers,Women Living Well, We are THAT Family

On the Altar

Photographer: Vanessa Myers Collins

 

From the moment I became a mother 27 years ago, I began to experience an overwhelming fear of losing a child to death.

Soon after my first baby was born, she began showing signs of apnea; Amanda literally stopped breathing and would turn blue! As this always seemed to happen when I was alone with her, it was hard to get anyone to understand how serious it was until after one particularly bad episode when we were at her grandmother’s house. She was hospitalized and tests revealed that she experienced apnea an average of 18-20 times during every four hour sleeping period! We were trained in CPR and our ten week old baby was sent home on an apnea monitor. Scary stuff for a new mom of nineteen.

It seemed that apnea monitor went off constantly and I became a nervous wreck! We moved in with my husband’s parents, mainly because I was afraid to be left alone with my baby for fear she would die.

Our second child was screened at birth and failed the test. In fact, our first six children were all prescribed apnea monitors for the first six to eighteen months of their lives.

My fears though, went beyond the threat of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome; I was terrified every time I heard “THE SCREAM” (the cry that lets you know “I’m really hurt!”). And each time one of my little ones became ill I was sure of two things: 1) They had contracted some rare, fatal illness and 2) It was my fault.

The Lord began dealing with me on this issue soon after I became His child in 1997. What I discovered is that fear originates from Satan and is a result of lack of trust. Jesus wants me to walk in victory, not cower to the enemy. As I studied the story of Abraham and Isaac, I felt prompted to place each of my precious children on the altar.

I prayed something like this:

Father in heaven, these are Your children; You have only loaned them to me. You know what’s best for them better than I do. I thank You for these eternal souls that You’ve entrusted to me. Now Father I desire to place (child’s name) on the altar. I am giving (him/her) back to You and pray that Your will be done in his/her life. I pray also that You give me the necessary grace to accept Your plan for this child’s life and the wisdom to guide him/her. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.

As I prayed this prayer for each child, my fears abated. Of course there have been times the Lord has seen fit to remind me of the vows I made. Like when MacKenzie ate berries that I was sure were poisonous. And when Isaac fell as a toddler and broke his arm. And especially when Stephanie was nearly run over by a speeding car. Then there was Amanda’s car accident…

Of course, I do all that I can to keep my children safe and healthy (although after reading this, it could make a person wonder!), but if I’m not trusting the Lord with them, I will pull my children right off the altar and all those old fears come back with a vengeance.

Are you a fearful mom? Perhaps the Lord is asking you to place your babes on the altar…

This post was shared at:
• Homestead Barn Hop
• Soli Deo Gloria
• Domestically Divine
• Titus 2sdays
• On Your Heart Tuesdays
• Gratituesdays
• Living Well Wednesdays
• Homemaking Link-Up
• Works for Me Wednesdays
• Welcome Wednesdays
Big Family Friday

 

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