Monday, December 9, 2013

Thoughts Regarding Our Lizzy

Thoughts Regarding Elizabeth.

November 17, 2013 at 10:20pm

I didn’t get to go to church this morning. Nicky is sick again so another Sunday without church. But I told Nicholas I wanted to go to the coffee shop for a bit. It is my thinking place and especially comes in happy when I miss church because I can just sit in the quietness and read or write and take important time to reflect on the Lord’s goodness.

The past few days have been interesting. We have this very real “threat”… our doctor (who seems normally quite conservative) feels that there could be a serious problem with Lizzy. He wants us to go to Texas Children’s Hospital. We are giving it the weekend to see if it might just be rooting from breastmilk jaundice… so this “if at all possible do everything natural when it comes to childbirth and infants” momma is trying formula. Part of me feels it is silly to even worry. Breastmilk jaundice probably is all that it is. Yet the doctor’s words and concern haunt me. He feels it is a higher percent chance it is a serious problem than just breastmilk jaundice. Relatives this weekend keep saying they think her color has improved. “She is looking better I am sure of it.” So then I’m peaceful. But then Nicholas and I look at her again, in different lighting, five minutes later, and we wonder if we are just telling ourselves she is better.

The other day I looked up one of the diseases she might have. Bad choice. Right now God has not given me the grace for that issue. Nicholas and I both feel strongly that we can’t worry about outcomes that are not ours to carry yet or ever. So our official view these days is that we aren’t even mentally “going there” unless that’s what the tests show. In the past we have walked the road of panicky medical diagnoses. None of this is foreign to me. I have learned through this never to take on tomorrow’s concern because it could be nothing at all or it could be something entirely different and, either way, I don't have grace for it today. But it is one thing when it is me the doctors are talking at. It is another when its about my little (big little) baby. So I’m fighting to stay away from the fear that wants to draw me in.

In the past I’ve told Nicholas that one of the things that would be so hard for me would be for our children not to be able to mentally enjoy the Classics and philosophy and theology. We have worked so hard to weave a wonderful educational plan for Nicky and Lizzy and, although we don’t have strong feelings on what Nicky’s vocation should be (although right now we guess its engineering based on how many child locks he has triumphed over) what is really important to us is for him and Elizabeth to be equipped to think wisely and logically and engage society with Christ’s truth. What happens if our plans on that have to change for Lizzy?

Or what happens if also or instead she has a short life expectancy. And she dies not able to breath because her lungs don’t work. And its scary and sudden even though we have lived years knowing she could die at any time. And maybe she leaves behind a young husband and baby. Or maybe she never marries and never gets to know the wonder of marriage and the wonder of being a mommy. What if we find ourselves burying our child instead of vice versa. That’s worse.

Or maybe its diabetes. And maybe that seems better in some ways. But I don’t want her to walk that hard road.

In my mind I’m trying to decide which disease is worse… as if somehow it is up to me to decide this.

What if it is one of these things?

If it is… Then it changes everything and nothing.

If it is

we will continue trusting - hoping - finding joy - praying – rejoicing - knowing God is faithful – reading "Will Gets a Haircut" to Nicky for the 80th time.

I still will still hope Nana will buy Nicky a trapeze for Christmas.

I still am going to buy Elizabeth felt mice for Christmas.

I still will sing Elizabeth her special song I made up for her.

I will still sing Nicky his.

I will still read Nicky his fire engine book again and again and again.

Nicholas will still deal with water purification.

I will still struggle along with how to cook well and healthy.

A goal this year will still be to learn to run.

I still want to paint the beat-up nightstand I bargained down to 3 dollars at that one garage sale – which I see character to and Nicholas see as a wacky example of the oddness of why women love garage sales.

I will still know so much as just the same.

And a lot will change.

I will see the profound reality that when we are at the end of ourselves God will show us Himself in such a powerful way.

We will become more eternity minded.

We will be given a new ministry world of moms of children with special needs – they will minister to us and we will minister to them.

We will learn deeply and early about really really genuinely trusting God to care for our children.

I will know the awesome reality of God’s grace. I have seen that grace. I’ve watched my own parents bury a daughter. I know what it means to look back in my wheelchair as my dad stands alone at the grave as her body is lowered. And I have seen him and my mom continue on. They are marked by it but have not allowed it to destroy them.

A lot will be very hard change.

Loss. Sorrow. Exhaustion. Fear. Unknowns. A

nd I wonder about Nicky’s reaction and how it will affect him.

And my world becomes the hospital again. But I’ve done that before. Both Nicholas and I both have faced very hard before. But not with our children and I know that facing the very hard when it deals with a child is different and I’m not prepared for that. But at the same time I actually am indeed prepared for that because, as my mom says, the way you “prepare” for hardship is by daily spending time in the Word, daily growing in the Lord and knowing the reality of His attributes because it is only those to which you can cling when you face the dark valleys. That’s what prepared her for my sister’s shocking death. That’s what prepares me for every day of my own life.

So this weekend as I help Nicky with his catechisms, at the same time in the back of my mind I’m wondering “what if or what if or what if” and in the process I’m risking missing the silly beauty of Nicky’s smile as he yells “mo mo” (more) as we practice head stands while reciting what the chief end of man is. And, you see, the answer to that question happens to be, “To glorify God and enjoy Him forever” which I think is actually the answer to “what if”… if what if happens we will still seek to glorify God and will enjoy Him forever.

So today I’m not going to dwell on percents. And I’m not going to dwell on this as a threat.

This threat... although it is an earthly threat, is not a spiritual threat.

It does not threaten that Lizzy will be separated from God’s love. It does not threaten that His faithfulness will not be there for her. I, her own mother, know what it is like to lie in the dark in the trauma hospital in pain and with the unanswered questions of if I will walk again, etc. I have felt God’s powerful presence during my own personal “what if” moments about my own physical life. There was no threat to me then that God was not near and sovereign and good. And there is no threat of that for my little daughter, either.

Tonight before he went to night night, I held Nicky upside down one more time - partially for his sake and partially for mine - as he laughed and said "mo mo!" while walking across the floor with his hands. “What is our chief end in life? To glorify God and enjoy Him forever!”



Since writing this article, Elizabeth's tests have shown that she is doing well and that, at this time, no further testing is needed as there is no longer concern that she has a serious medical condition.  The Lord has been very gentle toward us!  We are so grateful!

Thanksgiving & Being Single

Thanksgiving & Being Single.

October 30, 2013 at 5:19pm

Well it turns out I re-wrote the devotional because it was supposed to apply to be specifically for single women (oops! and my examples in that were about wanting to go see what was on sale at Brooks Brothers and about diaper poop. oops!) Since I was near 30 when I got married my friend thought I might have some thoughts. Here is what I sent her...

There is something almost haunting about the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving painting. Almost haunting because it beckons to a picture perfect earthly ideal that seems written into so many of our hearts. The happy family all together. Generations of couples and children all celebrating God’s goodness as, from the kitchen, floats the scent of warm pumpkin pies.

And that’s wonderful and beautiful and great. But for those of us who have known, or are currently walking, life’s road alone, it can fill us with a twinge of emptiness, of not fitting-in-ed-ness, of sadness, of loss, of loneliness.

I think we’d all say that, in many ways, we have accepted and even embraced God’s choosing in allowing singleness. Often we handle it quite well. But at times, particularly at holidays, there can be moments where the loneliness is deafening. We see the couples walking hand in hand at the mall, the man with his arm around his wife as they sit at the Messiah together, and the TV commercials of the family all together. But when we walk through the mall there is no man holding our hand and we don’t get to buy a man a special Christmas gift (be honest with me, haven’t you wondered what it would be like to be the woman shopping for a new shirt for her guy instead of the woman just walking through the men’s section to get to your car?) And even if we sit with our girl friends at the Messiah, at the end of the night we get into our cars alone and drive to our homes where we are alone. And we have no one to laugh with at a good TV show or a hilarious commercial because we are sitting on our sofa alone. Yes, sometimes the silent loneliness is indeed deafening.

And at Thanksgiving we are often invited into other families’ homes or maybe we host our own Thanksgiving for other women. But at times its just not the same. Its just lonely and it hurts. And so that picture haunts us.

I could go a lot of places with this devotional at this point. I could tie in how we are in the family of God and so all of us at that Thanksgiving table are family no matter what our marital status. Or I could say to be grateful for your circumstances – afterall, there are children in China that are hungry right now. But that’s not for today. Today I just want to be honest that sometimes being single is very, very hard. And very lonely even though we know and have embraced the fact that the Lord is our spiritual husband. We indeed are physical beings and its hard not to have a physical husband fighting for us, opening the door for us, buying us a beautiful something from Kays jewelers that’s wrapped in a little golden box and placed under the Christmas tree. And its OK to acknowledge that its lonely at times and Thanksgiving won’t be quite everything that part of your heart wishes it could be. Its OK, and its good, to be honest with the Lord about this.

And with being honest to the Lord, we find a freedom to picture sitting at His feet or being held in His arms, asking Him for His grace to help us, in a special way this year, grasp hold of the reality of His lovingkindness and of all that it means for a daughter of the King and specifically someone single.

In asking God to help me understand His lovingkindness, I am realizing a key is looking farther than the good things He has placed in our lives. So many people tell single women to concentrate on the good things God has given them. But I think that’s missing so much. Don’t end your focus on the good gifts! That’s dangerous (what happens when you lose a good gift or you see everyone else having something “good” that you aren’t given at all and it just doesn’t seem fair?) And, more importantly, if you make that your end focus, it actually cheats you from a deeply rooted joy. You see, if you focus only on what God has done for you, you miss taking joy in discovering the depths and riches of who He is. And especially as a single woman there is such power and such a grand victory in glorying in your Redeemer and the wonder of His character. There is a tremendous testimony and confidence we can have in knowing Him to be our Keeper, in Him being our Provider, and in Him being our Worth. Delight in His who He is! You and I may not always understand His acts and the way He gives or does not give certain gifts, but we can have such security in knowing His ways – His attributes, His character.

This Thanksgiving I am asking God for the gift of a genuinely grateful heart focused on His attributes, particularly His lovingkindness toward me. I’m asking Him to remind me of my tremendous worth to Him. I’m asking Him for hope and joy and peacefulness. I’m asking Him for this knowing I don’t have it in me but God can pour it into my heart as I cling to Him.

And so, I pray…

Lord, this Thanksgiving may I take hold of the grace and victory you have given me to find great delight in knowing my worth to You, plumbing the depths of Your character, and seeking to glorify You forever. This Thanksgiving help me to particularly be mindful of the attribute of Your unfailing love toward me. And as I do this, the times then when loneliness does comes creeping in threatening to undue my joy, may You uphold me, whispering your love deep into my soul. May my life continually reflect all You are to me as I glory in You, My Redeemer and the Song of my heart.

As Thanksgiving Approaches

As Thanksgiving Approaches....

October 28, 2013 at 9:23pm

A devotional I wrote the other day on request from a friend for something she is putting together.

I told my husband that being in labor gives me a sliver of insight into why a prisoner of war might finally crack and tell the secrets. Just those few hours of labor about did me in. I can’t imagine being in excruciating pain with no end in sight!

After my daughter was born I just held her there in the birthing tub and thanked God out loud for His goodness – in getting me through a natural labor, in giving me this child, in the incredible lovingkindness He had poured into my life, so undeserving as I am.

After great trials are over it can feel quite natural to thank God – confidently, out loud, no matter who can hear. We praise God because the trial is so fresh in our mind and we so vividly saw God fight for us, carry us, be our Helper, and be our triumphant victory.

But then things slowly shift back to normal. A little while ago my son had the largest diaper explosion I have ever witnessed – probably the largest ever known to mankind. That happened the same time my daughter was wailing. My brother-in-law by mistake shredded my credit card (long story of how that happened… and it takes 10 days to get in a new one). Last night my husband and I had been planning a date night and, as we were walking out the door, there was a work emergency that took so long it caused us to miss going to Brooks Brothers before it closed.

Its not always the large things that so subtly steal our joy, putting our once praising hearts back into the captivity ungratefulness. Its often the small things… hardly even worth mentioning to another, yet significant time zapping frustrations about which I’m going throughout the day fretting. I really don’t want to be an ungrateful woman, but at times that characterizes my heart. Didn’t Paul talk about this… oh dreadful soul I am, doing the things I don’t want to do, not doing the things I do want to do?

There seems to be two major reasons my heart loses its gratefulness. First, when I turn my eyes onto my circumstances instead of God. That’s when the dirty diapers seem so out of control. That’s when missing going to Brooks Brothers seems so irritating (even though that meant we went to the mall instead and now I’m typing while wearing a pretty new pearl ring). But we all have heard that many times… don’t focus on the circumstances… and we all try to catch ourselves from dwelling too long on that negative road.

Here is the second reason and it’s this that we so often miss. Don’t end your focus on the good gifts! That’s dangerous (what happens when you lose a good gift or you see everyone else having something good that you aren’t given at all?) and causes you to miss out on deep joy as a Christian. Don’t get so caught up in the new pearl rings in your life that you miss glorying in your Redeemer. Don’t focus only on what God has done for you, missing taking joy in who He is. You may not always understand His acts, but you can take joy and security in knowing His ways – His attributes, His character. Train your mind and heart to delight in who God is – His faithfulness, His lovingkindness, His goodness, His justice. Meditate on these things and watch how God will mold your heart to live in gratefulness.

This Thanksgiving I am asking God for the gift of a genuine grateful heart focused on His attributes, particularly His lovingkindness. I’m asking Him for this knowing I don’t have it in me. In my own strength I waver away so quickly – seemingly ever so godly and grateful as I held my newborn a few weeks ago, and then sliding right back into normal ungrateful mode.

And so, I pray… Lord, this Thanksgiving may I take hold of the grace and victory you've given me to be able to delight in You, particularly being mindful of the attribute of Your unfailing love. As I do this may You fill my heart with joy. May my heart continually sing Your praises as I glory in You, My Redeemer, My Everything.

And a bit of homework for us…

Perhaps make a list, posting it on the refrigerator, on a mirror, or in your Bible. Daily write out several things for which you are grateful… the people in your life, physical abilities (being able to hear, talk, see), items (just think what life would be like without light bulbs, cement, and refrigerators?) Or, as you are driving, rehearse out loud the material and physical gifts God has given you. But most of all thank God for who He is. It is as we focus on the Creator that we gain a heart of thanksgiving. And it is then, as we turn our eyes to creation – to what He has given His people – our hearts can find joy in praising Him for these gifts as well.