Tag Archive | attitude

Lord, Help Me Here

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This is a little tongue in cheek.
But make no mistake. I appreciate my Hospice angels deeply. And I do pray for them and to be a better patient.
No patient confidentiality was broken. My husband’s job requires his being on call often so I’m well acquainted with that end.

Lord, help me be a cooperative patient,
Not a crusty old crust,
Remind me most Lord, in difficult times,
In You I put my trust.
(Have to trust them, but You first, right?)

No tears, no poor pitiful me’s,
My caregivers don’t need the grief,
Eternity is still my gift,
This life here seemingly brief.
(Except when your thoughtless patients call or texts all night. And you crawl into work and folks ask, “What?” And you mumble a name and the whole room goes into hiding.)

Lord, work with me on bitterness,
My medical team does their best,
I’ll restrict whatever they ask,
(But REALLY Lord, even my ice?)
Through this grant us all rest.

Don’t let me be hostile and rude,
Let me show them all my gratitude,
(For I AM grateful.  Okay I’m trying to be about the ice.)
It works out for me I can get better care,
If I have and share a good attitude.
(They’re my angels whose wings I can’t see.)

One last little thing Lord, I’ll leave You alone,
Please help me to remember for all of them to pray.
I don’t know their personal lives,
(They do have them or we grumpy ole’ crusts have ensnared them alive. Which I don’t want to do, hence this prayer.)
Let me be a patient that doesn’t rattle their day.

Oh, and if You’d also help me,
Not scare them with my own radical cures,
(Although the wet/dry vac, duct tape and a big needle drain for my legs was a good one.)
Redirect my thoughts for everyone’s best,
(Which may not be becoming a human water sprinkler.)
They sure would appreciate less of my craziness to endure, I’m sure.
                  dfav 1/6/16
—Donna

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When Comes the Healing?

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Photo original to author, all rights reserved, not to be used without permission.

He was special, there could be no doubt of that, not to anyone.  Yes, this little guy who looked to be sleeping soundly had my heart wrapped around his tiny, puffy finger.  Since the day he came into the world all covered in wet gunk and wailing loudly, he was special.

At first they kept him because he might be sick, but after several days of negative tests his parents had been ready to get him home.  His big sister waited for him, it was time to make the family unit whole and under one roof.  That pretense lasted a few days.  His biological parents marriage was already shattered, the impact of his illness simply gave it breath to implode.

Back to the hospital and he would stay for 60 days, 45 of those in a coma.  The doctors gave him little hope to survive, gave us little hope to bond with our boy. But I made the trek daily, he shouldn’t be alone.

A few hours before work, then five hours at work and another five at his bedside, often going back to work or working beside his bed, sometimes spending the night if he had a bad day.  Those days are a blur in my memory now.  A long tiring, exhausting two months of staying with him as much as possible, whenever possible.

I remember the cocoon like room in Children’s Hospital, the never ceasing beeps and swirling sounds of equipment breathing for him, living for him.  And I remember the day they became quiet and he surprised everyone by living under his own steam.  I recall clearly the kindness of nurses who offered me food and drink, blankets and pillows as I stayed by his side.

I remember the quiet swish of the nurses scrubs as she laid him in my arms and he curled up on my chest and shoulder and slept on for the first time in over 45 days. I remember singing him every song I could recall; silly songs, hymns, praise songs, children’s songs and telling him every story I could remember and dozens and dozens I made up.  I told him about his family and all the possibilities for him in the world.  I told him about ice cream, baseball and Jesus.

He and I waited too.  The staff and I walked around his father’s dirty underwear on the floor and his near empty bag on the sink until I broke down and picked them up, embarrassed by their presence and their message.  It wasn’t my place to be there alone with this precious boy but I was, I was and I wanted to be. 

It wasn’t until weeks had passed that one of the nurses told me how remarkable she and the other staff thought I was for my dedication to my son and my ministry.  Awareness flew in my heart, and I apologized telling her I appreciated the kindness but I wasn’t the mother, I was the aunt. I knew his mother came two or three times a week for brief visits, spoke with doctor’s by phone and waited for her marriage to fail or survive, her son to live or die. The pressure was enormous and too much, it was overwhelming and she did what she had within her to do. Never giving up but watching as what seemed like a nightmare play out before her with her son center stage. That’s a difficult place to be in. I understood that and I willingly made sure our boy didn’t want for company.

Toward the end of 60 days I sat with my sister and heard the grim prognosis…blindness, brain damage, feeding tubes, never speaking or walking.  Their advice was to put him in a home and get on with living.  His mother bravely took him home where she and our family took care of him until he reached the age of 12 and it was impossible to continue. My sister’s life revolved around her son and his needs. She gave everything.

For a while we thought he would prove them totally wrong.  He learned to drink from a bottle, he reached for toys, he responded to sounds, he was behind in development but he was getting there.  But at his first year check-up the bottom fell out again.  That same scenario repeated itself until he was developmentally a two to six month old in a body aging and growing normally.  His brain was destroyed, he lives today, now 19, with less than 5% of his brain stem.  As I write this he is in a different Children’s Hospital, a very sick young man, beating the odds again.

His mom is front and center, caring for her son with deep love and compassion, fighting for him every step of the way.  His dad, his mom’s second husband, watches with pain in his heart as his son lays ill.  His biological father struggles to find his place in his son’s life.  His sisters cringe inside as they soothe and comfort him.  I sit and speak with him and it is me keeping tab by phone this time.

Healing.  We all want that for our precious boy.  Someday he’ll have it. 

Healing now though, ultimate, complete healing I see may be the healing of the wounds and scars of a long ago young marriage gone bad that remain like open and raw pieces of rotten meat. Like the bleeding pieces of two hearts who lost their way in that special first love and never to refind one another, or find some release from pent up anger and pain.

It may be the solidifying of his support system, all of us pulling in the same harness for him, all focused on his best well-being. 

It could be the healing of a heart within a man, more than a stepfather but a true dad in every sense of the word, who bonded with our special child. A heart who knows that this boy is the heart of his heart, soul of his soul just not flesh of his flesh nor bone of his bone but his son all the more. 

Or perhaps the healing of regrets in the heart of a biological father who allowed circumstances to keep a gap between he and his first born children for 17 years. Who struggles, it seems to me, to find a place in his biological sons life.

Only God knows what ultimate healings He has planned for and through this one very special life. Through and because of the life of our special boy…healing is just waiting to be invited in to stay.

Yes, our boy is so special and he still has my heart wrapped around his little finger.

–Faye

Into the World

Seems like all I have wrestled with the past week are the forced acknowledgements of how uncomfortable I am in the world. Frankly, it drives me nuts. There’s nothing to upset my apple cart more than a trip into the world, no matter how brief, how fun, or how refreshing in the moment for once I’m back home, I find a stale and bitter taste in my mouth.

I have, in my forced exile from the world, come to immensely crave the isolation. A danger I foresaw, for who knows me better than I except God? Herein lies the reason I never willingly sought the status of disabled, why I fought to keep focused on the goal of being in the daily workplace, because I knew I would come to choose to remain isolated and with my own thoughts for company once forced to acknowledge how ill fitted for the world I am.

Recently my husband, our daughter and our niece took a brief and whirlwind three day weekend to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg in Tennessee. Travel is hard for me since the amputation and the spread of the Lymphedema to other areas of my body. But for a few hours on the Saturday afternoon of our trip I enjoyed being part of the tourists crowding the streets of Pigeon Forge. My husband forces my wheelchair into areas the world forgot to allow me access to being capable of lifting me and the chair up over curbs and not timid about asking or just telling people to get out of the way when they block the sidewalk or store aisle. On this Saturday we parked in the Old Mill area of Pigeon Forge and went in and out of overcrowded shops, had our picture made in an old-time photography shop and ate a marvelous lunch at the Old Mill restaurant (even if we did have to wait nearly an hour for a handicap accessible table). I felt much like I imagine a kid set lose in a candy store does during those few hours.

But all too quickly my body started reminding me of how uncomfortable it was and how ill-suited to travel. Our ways of adapting in our home didn’t work in a suppose-to-be-but-isn’t wheelchair accessible hotel room where even the bed was an issue. (It was so tall it came to the top of my hip making “hopping” up on it an adventure and fear of falling off it a possibility.)

So we returned home and I was grateful to be back. Back to where I am more comfortable. Back to where we’ve ironed out far more of the wrinkles in the fabric of being disabled for me and my family.

Only I heard and saw and tasted the message of the world. “Look what you’re missing! Isn’t this fun? See? Feel? Come experience! Come play! Come be us!”

But I can’t. The same world reminds me I can’t.

“No! Keep your wheelchair away from here!”

“No! You can’t eat yet, there are only six tables where we can put your wheelchair and 51 others we can’t so wait.”

“No! We put up rails in the bathroom, wait for someone to help you if you can’t use the standard size accommodations!”

“No! You can’t swim here!”

“No! You can’t! No! No! No!”

So I wrestle with shutting the voice of the world out of my mind. I seek solace in scriptures ancient and true. I seek comfort in the arms of a Heavenly Father who doesn’t reject me. I seek a way to express myself that the world will welcome or at least accept. I turn to the modern world of technology seeking a connection and find a weird sense of being anything but connected. My mind whirls and sleep does not come.

Prayers ooze out of me with a desperate plea about them.

John wrote in I John 4:18, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

I fear.

I am always human here.

I sin here. I sin in my need to be accepted for superficial appearances and for superficial reasons. I sin and I do so in my inability to accept this twist of life.

But I am on my way home. Truly my home where my body won’t be ravaged by disease. Where the accommodations will be perfect. Where I won’t want to go anywhere or do anything that someone will say “No” to. Home. Home where the perfect love reigns and the message isn’t buried beneath layers of “stuff”. Home where expressing myself isn’t an issue at all because the selfishness that drives my ego of self is silenced by the much stronger need to worship and express my love for God.

If only I could get that down here I would be much more like Paul who wrote in Philippians 4:11-13, “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is like to be in need, and I know what it is like to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who give me strength.”

Meanwhile I am more in the mindset of David who wrote in Psalm 40:12, “For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.”

-Faye

Silence

The silence is welcome and it is comforting

Just the tick-tocking of the clock nearby

The soft glow of the laptop screen quieting

The buzzing of tasks and mind at ease.

No thoughts competing for one another

Just a soft comfort in silence woos the heart

Speak in this silence as You have to the others

Abba Father, Holy Spirit You are welcome here.

The pages of the Bible are soft to fingertips

Scripture passages underlined from times past

As reminders of Your presence previously sipped.

Of prayers prayed and answers sought.

Evidence of I Am speaking and revealing

Testimonies’ of Believers left for prosperity

Recorded evidence of God speaking

Of the insistence our lives be ones of true belief.

Into this silence comes the brush of Spirit wings

As welcome then as it is welcome now

For it is in here the Spirit speaks and sings

The whispers of Abba Father are surely heard.

Where heart is tune to gentle reprimand

Stern reminders of the price of sin

Hope is offered and takes my hand

Heart is opened to the Father’s love.

Silence yes from earthly things has fell

So can be heard what Heaven joyfully sings

With His touch heart and soul are well

Silence so sweet from earthly noise.

-Faye

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…a time to laugh…

Before reading this please know that if you are dealing with depression, anxiety, grief and any number of other difficulties in life that seeking professional help is not only advisable it is most likely necessary.  I do not advocate EVER using tools such as laughter, praise and prayer alone to help ease the burdens of depression and other such illnesses.  There is NO SHAME in allowing God to use all His resources to help you.

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“…a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes 3:4 (N.I.V.)

“A cheerful look brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.”  Proverbs 15:30 (N.I.V.)

The dearest friend I could ever have and I have been separated by hundreds of miles since 1998.  During the times we have those “catch up conversations” it is a time of sharing the troubles of our lives but also the joys.  Those reunions are seasoned with love, enduring friendship, caring, understanding, compassion and a healthy sprinkling of laughter.  We giggle (yes, grown women can giggle) and that compassionate laughter of recognizing the challenges of our own growing up (yes, we are all still maturing) and our surviving.

We laugh at our reactions to the events that have occurred in our families.  (Oh the stories our families give us to share!) We laugh at what we were thinking at the time and how it seemed perfectly acceptable then, but which we have to acknowledge now, were impractical or way off base.

Yesterday as we hung up from just such a conversation I realized that one of the things I value and love most about Pattie and the friendship we share, is that we can be so honest with one another and laugh at ourselves through the eyes of the other.  We are both “serious” people (well, most of the time) but together we always manage to find reasons to laugh!

The laughter we shared yesterday was much-needed by me and I don’t have a doubt Pattie as well.  We are both in stages of our lives where our children are rapidly growing up, our husbands are knee-deep in their careers and we are transitioning ourselves into new stages of life, aging (oh the horror of that realization) and new self-realizations.

Laughter sometimes has to be sought in life.  If I allowed myself I could sit and drown in the tears I shed in mourning the loss of the woman I was…mourn the loss of my left leg, my job, my independence…and I confess there are days, sometimes stretches of days, that I do.  I sob.  I hide away.  I MOURN, I grieve and I wrestle with God over the losses, the changes, what I want, who I was and who I am becoming.  But, no matter how hard, I do try to find something positive, I try to allow Abba Father to nurture the flame of hope that my relationship with Him fuels.  Laughter is often a huge part of that.

My challenge to you today dear reader, no matter what you’re going through is to find some reason to laugh!

MC900434743If you need help rediscovering joy then –

  • Spend some time with young children as they play.
  • Call an old friend and catch-up, share your sorrows but try to find some joy to share as well.
  • Put on a CD you love with some upbeat music and dance!
  • Crank up the stereo in the house or car and sing to an audience of one!
  • Entice your child to share some karaoke minutes with you and laugh at both of you as you sing and dance together!
  • Look at some humorous stuff on the internet.
  • Pop in a funny DVD and lose yourself in the comedy.
  • Watch puppies play.
  • Pull out your child’s joke book, the one they read to you and you moan at the bad puns and weak punch lines and read it with the mindset of your child.
  • Sit down with someone for coffee who has a cheerful outlook on life and just bask in their being who they are for they are people we need in this world for just this purpose among others.

Yes, I know it’s hard!  Yes, for some of you I know what I’m asking seems impossible!  Believe me I KNOW!

  • I KNOW life can bring you to a place that you feel as if you are down for the count and just can’t get up again!
  • I KNOW depression, anxiety, fear and a multitude of other feelings and things can immobilize us!  I KNOW my friend, I know.
  • I KNOW depression’s heavy blanket can suffocate!
  • I KNOW addictions, any addiction, erodes your energy, it takes all of you to fight it.
  • I KNOW grief is overwhelming your soul!
  • I KNOW you hear that countdown and giving up would be easier, it would be a relief but DON’T GIVE UP!  Do this, it won’t make all the ugly go away, I know, but it will help your heart, your spirit to survive.
  • Trust me, I KNOW!  It’s not a magical phrase or giggle that will erase whatever it is you’re surviving but IT CAN HELP you cope!

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“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.”  Proverbs 15:13 (N.I.V.)

-Faye

P.S. I know one more thing, someone is reading this today and tears are pooling in your eyes, grief is tearing at your soul and I want you to know, I pray for you even as I finish up typing this last sentence.  God bless!

Defined in the Last Row

1000318841Happily settled in the first desk of the first row in front of the teacher’s desk, with her permission, on the first day of school I was alive with excitement.  I could barely contain my joy.  That all changed when Cheryl Samson* walked in with her mother and stopped in front of me announcing she wanted my desk.  Mama not only forced me to move to the last desk in the last row in the corner but also to apologize for having taking Cheryl’s seat.  I was defined in this moment as being unworthy to sit up front, I belonged in the far corner. 

A spark of joy returned soon when I was called to the teacher’s desk for her to see how many words or letters of the alphabet I could recognize.  Happily I told her that I already knew how to read, my mother had taught me!  I rattled off the titles of the books I had read already, the majority of the Bobbsey Twin and Donna Parker series as well as Huckleberry Finn.  Not believing me she handed me the Dick and Jane reader and told me to read out loud.  After I read several pages my teacher stopped me. 

“Your mother,” she told me, “has obviously taught you not to read but to memorize books.  You’ll have to learn again.”  Cheryl snickered MC900439405behind me.  “Memorizing the words on the pages doesn’t mean you can actually read!” the teacher said as I quickly went back to my seat.  I had never known Dick and Jane existed until a few minutes ago.  I was defined in these moments as unintelligent, misinformed and as a liar. 

At home, annoyed by my why questions about Cheryl and the desk and having to relearn to read, my mother mumbled as she peeled potatoes. Finally she sent me to my room saying, “People like us aren’t like people like her.”

“People like us”?  Why were we “people like us”?  What did Mama mean?   I was defined now as less important, belonging to some “people like us” that I didn’t understand.

Homecoming at school brought the opportunity to be the First Grade Homecoming Princess.  All I had to do was enter, sell baked goods and juice during recess for three days and collect as much money as possible from my family.  If I collected and earned the most money I could be the Princess.  I earned myself first runner-up.  Cheryl won the Princess title.

MC900432659I was pleased somewhat to be the runner-up.  I would still get to be part of the Homecoming Court and walk out onto the field at the football game half-time.  Only I blew that by trying to mimic Cheryl and failed miserably, embarrassed my family, received a spanking, lecture and hearing the story repeated through the years, the humiliation fresh every time.  I was defined as foolish and bringing shame to my family.  I was defined as a “runner-up” not a winner.

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To make everyone happy I learned to pretend.  I pretended not to know how to read and pretended to let the teacher teach me all over again.  I pretended to be less intelligent.  That I didn’t want the very things I wanted the most.  That my home life was just as normal as anyone else’s home life was.  That I deserved to be last in everything, that runner-up was the best I’d ever be.  Through the years I learned to settle for less because I had pretended so long to only want and deserve the least that I didn’t even try.  I was wearing the assigned masks given to me and defined by them regardless of their truth.

MP900382637These three events, all too quickly defined me to myself as what I was given the message I was to be.  I recognized all too soon that what made Cheryl one of “those people” instead of one of the “people like us” were the following things:  Beauty, money, expensive clothes, intelligence, importance, lineage, and social status.  Money, I acknowledged as the years passed, could buy it all.  Or at least buy you the ability to fake it.

Reality was that there were a lot of things that set me apart from other kids.  None of those were any of the reasons my mother had cited, or my teacher insisted upon or that my childish mind connected to.  All that these false definitions of me did were to enable me to hide away.

Redefining who I was would take years.  Slowly it happened. 

I learned I did have the ability to earn A’s by earning them in master level classes.  I learned I could do, at least someMP900432927 algebra, by teaching myself from my daughter’s textbook and the online tutorial lessons to help her.  I learned to be a parent that gives her child wings to fly and roots to let her know she is always loved and always has a home, instead of clipping her wings and binding her with her roots.  It has taken years of on and off therapy to peel away layers of pretense, hurt, shame, wrong definitions and forbidden anger and I’m still redefining myself as one of God’s creations.

1001224892Paul’s words in Romans 8:28 have reminded me “…we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   And again in I Corinthians 15:10 Paul’s words have given me courage, “But by the grace I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” 

King Solomon’s words from Ecclesiastes 3:1 “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:” repeatedly whisper to me that the bad times will pass and the good will come, all in God’s time.  While Jeremiah in 29:11 has told me, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jesus’ has instructed me of my mission for him in this life in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” 

We all have defining moments in our lives…defining scriptures that have awakened us to who we are in Christ…what moments have defined you…what scriptures have awakened you?

Faye

*Name changed for privacy.                                                                                                         All scripture from the N.I.V. translation of the Bible.

Ironic is it not?

  • That courageous has “rage” at its heart?
  • That therapist is spelt “the rapist”?
  • That two wrongs don’t make a right unless it’s a multiple choice test with only three answer choices and you can keep answering until you get it right?
  • That rarely do you get to take a test and keep guessing at the answers until you get them right, even in the above possible situation?
  • That you may be alone or lonely but it can’t be done without one?
  • That together needs “to” but not “two”?
  • That subway is an underground train, a type of sandwich and a restaurant?
  • That popcorn chicken, popcorn shrimp, lollipops, soda pop and popovers don’t have corn in them?
  • That Washington D.C. needs a good washing and a ton of soap probably wouldn’t be enough for the job?
  • That angels were created by God to worship Him and yet many humans worship them and not Him?
  • That Satan masquerades as an Angel of Light but swallows a soul with darkness?
  • That scented markers smell like fruit but can’t be eaten, while fruit can be eaten but doesn’t make a good crayon?
  • That love and hate are four letter words, the first is often spelt T-I-M-E and the latter takes love and time away?
  • That your conscience isn’t a little cricket but both can keep you awake all night?
  • That billions and billions are spent to create new movies and television series but it’s the same ones over and over again?
  • That silence is golden, old friends gold and new friends silver but you can’t deposit either in your checking account?
  • That upon breaking up with a special person you hear “Don’t worry there are plenty of fish in the sea!” but no one talks about all the trash in their too?
  • That insomnia will cause your mind to focus on ironic tidbits like this?

Who Am I? (A Guest Post Story by My Daughter)

This story was written by my daughter.  On her own initiative she decided to make her writing project for her 6th grade Language Arts a story about adoption.

She graciously agreed to allow me to post it on fvbf (Faith View by Faye) to help bring awareness to the need for adoptive parents.

…FROM CHAPTER 4

“Three years later and Bella was seven years old now.  Butterscotch had given birth to one perfect kitten, that looked just like her mom, but Butterscotch died soon after.  Bella kept the new kitten and named her Buttercup.  She and her parents buried Butterscotch in the backyard the next day and had a funeral.”

CHAPTER 5

While putting Butterscotch in her grave it reminded Bella that she was very lucky to be living with Mom and Dad. Bella still remembered her birth mom who yelled at her grandma a lot and that her birth mom couldn’t take care of her.  Her birth mom couldn’t feed her because she never had any money.  Sometimes they ate at a friend’s house.  Once her birth mom had even left her alone and she was only two months old. 

Thinking of her life then made Bella feel mad and sad.  Then Bella would become happy because although her life started out yucky it became lucky when the Chase’s adopted her.

Not all kids get adopted, Bella knew that from her time as a foster child. As she walked inside with her parents she wondered why there were so many kids who needed Forever Families and so few adults to adopt.

Bella felt proud that her family was going to adopt another child, a boy named Justin who was six. Still, there are lots of kids needing adopting, who would do that for them?

THE END

“Am I Messing Up My Kids” by Lysa TerKeurst

Note from Faye:  This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst.  Copies of that book are readily available from many sources.  While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.

Every mother alive who loves her children has at one point or another asked herself, “Am I messing up my kids?”  Motherhood is tough.  It isn’t for the weak hearted.  It can fill you with love and pride in one moment and panic and uncertainty the next.

In Chapter One of the book written by Lysa TerKeurst above she relates how she has taken her 14-month old daughter to a local store for a little shopping.  Mom is prepared.  Bottles.  Snacks.  Toys.  What she didn’t plan on and couldn’t foresee is her daughter’s fascination with manuals behind the cash register that could not be shaken.  Mom ended up leaving the store and later crying in a bathtub.  “I am so completely spent.  I have nothing left to give.  What’s wrong with me?  I am so afraid I am going to be a complete failure as a mother.  Lord, am I going to mess up my kids?”

Two things stood out for me here.  One, sometimes no matter how well prepared we are our kids are going to be focused on anything but what we have as plan A, B, C or Z.   Part of being a child is the inability to yet control their emotions, their wants, and their will power.  That’s why they need parents, to teach them these things.  Two, we’ve all had that “Am I messing up my kids?” moment.

Our now eleven then four year old daughter (who we adopted) came to live with us full time just after her fourth birthday.  My first “Am I messing up my child” meltdown occurred following another frustrating and fruitless custody hearing.  By then the biological mother had moved out of our home.  The biological father could not be located.  Who held legal custody of Kiana was unclear as no one had complete paperwork and the Tennessee courts and Department of Human Services were not cooperative.  We had been unsuccessful in enrolling Kiana in Medicaid or AllKids and without legal custody couldn’t add her to our health insurance coverage at work.  As my husband and I were petitioning the court here for custody the red tape, legal hoops and what often seemed ridiculous demands upon us were frustrating.  We left the court that day no further along than what we had been when we went in.  Kiana was tired and hungry and she was whiny.  “Mama,” she asked from her car seat properly installed in our car, “I thought you were going to take care of me!”

Only a few weeks after Kiana had moved in she’d climbed into my lap and asked me if I would promise to always take care of her.  I’d promised to always do my best to.   Her four year old heart heard, “Yes I will.”  That day’s court appearance didn’t make it seem to be something I could do.  So as we pulled through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Happy Meal with chocolate milk tears were streaming down my face.  Was I going to be a failure as a mother?  Were we going to mess up this precious child’s life even more than it already was?

The author recovered from her doubt ridden moment.  I recovered from mine.  Though both events were radically different in their reasons for occurring they held one thing in common.  Both the author and I turned to God with our fears and learned to keep our Bibles handy and our hearts open.

Kiana’s adoption has been settled since 2006 and as a woefully incomplete and totally imperfect Mom I love motherhood nonetheless.  Like the author, I do consider motherhood a calling and I do recognize that decisions Kiana’s dad and I are making now will shape her morally, ethically, emotionally and physically long past Kiana to her great-great-grandchildren.

Refresh Your Soul:

On pages 14-15 are devotional activities and commentary based on Psalm 23:3 and I Peter 1:5-7.  As you complete these open your heart to what God is encouraging you to obtain from this Bible study.  Share with the group as you feel lead.

And anyone wishing to share their “am I messing up my kid” meltdown story please feel free to do so knowing WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE!

Music to help enrich you suggestion:  “Generations” by Sara Groves from her CD Conversations released in 2001.  “Remind me of this with every decision generations will reap what I sow I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I may never know…”

Purpose or Gunk?

Hospitals are sometimes cheerless places.  People learn news that alters their lives forever.  Sometimes for some people hospitals become safe zones where they feel safe.  For others they are restrictive places where personal freedoms are severely curtailed.  For others still they are almost second homes.  For Claire, who had been in the hospital 11 times in 8 years and who had finally agreed to have her leg amputated in order to cut back on her hospital visits and life threatening events from severe infections there were mixed emotions on her 12th visit.  Claire knew all the warning signs and could tell when she’d be a patient in a local hospital again, but this time came as a surprise.

Because it was a surprise Claire was angry and resentful.  She was also depressed.  Meg, one of the hospital Chaplains came to talk to Claire.  Claire, who takes her faith seriously, welcomed the opportunity.  Claire was again facing a potentially life threatening situation and after several episodes of these situations she was faith weary.   She was angry that she was hospitalized again.  Her heart kept rejecting the news.  She’d scarified a leg to help insure episodes like this didn’t happen again.  What else would be required of her?  She had a lot of questions.  She hoped the Chaplain would have some answers.

Meg was very kind, and she wanted to know Claire’s medical past.  So as simple and short as she could make it Claire condensed things to a nutshell and her pain, and that of her family were uncovered.  Claire admitted she was struggling with the purpose behind God choosing to allow this episode that threatened her life.  She admitted she couldn’t help wondering how much sacrifice God would require of her family and herself.

The Chaplain mused aloud, “You say you know God doesn’t cause you to suffer but that He does allow it and you believe He does so for a purpose.  Perhaps a purpose you can’t understand this side of Heaven but a purpose, nonetheless.  Correct?”

Claire nodded in agreement.  Meg continued, “So I wonder what if instead of believing God has a purpose in your suffering you consider instead that gunk happens in all our lives and Jesus helps us through it.  So maybe there is no purpose in your suffering, maybe it’s just Jesus helping you through the gunk.  Maybe if you shifted to thinking of your suffering as not having a purpose it would be easier to accept, it’s just something that happens.”

Meg prayed with Claire and her husband and during the long hours in the hospital Claire thought about the Chaplain’s words.  Claire had a lot of time to think when confined to a bed in the intensive care unit.  On one hand thinking that all the trials and tribulations and sufferings of the last eight years were simply “gunk” getting thrown at her and Jesus was helping her get through it seemed wrong.  Yes, Jesus was helping her through the gunk, but no that it was without purpose.

Job came to mind.  Job was allowed to have his belief in God to be tested by Satan to prove his faith would hold up to the challenge.  And in his suffering he said, “But those who suffer he delivers to their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.”  (Job 36:15 N.IV.)  God communicated to Job during Job’s suffering and used the suffering of Job to show His glory and His might.  So, yes, Job’s suffering (physical, loss of children, loss all he owned, and the loss of the respect of his friends) had a purpose.  God proved Satan wrong.  God proved He was faithful to the one who loved Him with all their heart and soul.

Still Claire wondered, since she was no Job, what purpose could God have in her suffering?  She often cringed when people referred to her as an inspiration or called her courageous.  She didn’t want the pressure that came from those labels.  So she dug deeper into scripture, who was right?  Meg’s belief that all of what Claire had gone through was simply life’s gunk Jesus helped her through or Claire’s belief God had a purpose for all of it; a reason for her suffering and her families suffering which was right?  Peter, she found, had something to say about the subject.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I Peter 1:3-9

There were comfort in Peter’s words for Claire, there was assurance.  If the only reason for the sometimes ceaseless pain, the repeated life threatening events, the suffering was to refine their faith then it was worth it.  That was purpose enough.  James too had words of assurance for Claire to read.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

Lastly Claire ended her search with words from Paul.  Paul who surely suffered persecution for the deliverance of the Gospel but who also knew physical suffering from some “thorn in his side” from which he prayed for deliverance and did not receive it.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. ” Romans 5:3-5

The Chaplain was right that “life is messy” and sometimes “gunk” does just get thrown our way and as believers in Christ He does help us through those messy, gunky times.  But Claire knew she was right too and for her it confirmed a foundation of her faith in God.  God allows things in our lives that are messy and painful “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Claire realized that God doesn’t call us to go through hard times for no reason.  Sometimes we bring upon ourselves a consequence from our sin that is painful.  Sometimes other people act and the consequences from their actions (sins) cause us pain.  Yes, sometimes life just gets all gunked up.  But God does allow suffering in our lives for a purpose.  Maybe to strengthen our own faith or someone else’s; maybe it is to build our character or to teach us perseverance or maybe we won’t know the reason until we are in Heaven and somehow then, Claire doesn’t think it will matter then at all.

However, for now, Claire knows to think that her suffering is just life’s gunk Jesus gets her through diminishes her hope.  So with all due respect to Meg, Claire will continue to believe God has a purpose for all things in her life, even the suffering.