Math is easier without numbers.

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I don’t have a beautiful mind like the guy in the movie by that title who is a brilliant mathematician. In fact, when it comes to math, my mind is anything but beautiful. Equations go into my mind to scoff and mock.

“Larry, get a load of this mind! She’ll never get us. We’re safe here!” (Yes, math equations are sometimes named Larry.)

I’d say instead of a beautiful mind, I have a busy mind. It sometimes serves me well. Minds need to be busy, right? We have places to go, people to see, things to do.

But there are times my busy mind is not a good addition to life, but a subtraction. (Wait, did I almost make a math problem? Larry, is that you?)

When my mind is busy with the wrong things, things like worry, irrational thoughts, fears, imaginary scenarios, I suffer.

But I have a little equation that helps me pull out of it. (Okay, maybe I really CAN do math- just not with actual numbers.)

Truth + Trust = Peace

When I find my busy mind is focused on questions like,

“What did my friend mean by that comment? Does she hate me now? What did I do to offend her?”

“What if my daughter doesn’t know how to navigate this difficult situation at school today? What if I’ve completely failed as her mom?”

“Is this health symptom weird? Am I dying of some rare disease?”

When those questions haunt me, I go back to my equation.

Truth + Trust = Peace

Truth. What do I KNOW to be true.

Trust. Who do I KNOW to be in control, no matter the circumstance (spoiler alert: it’s God).

Peace. Ahhh. There is it. The wonderful resulting exhale of relief and hope filled inhale of comfort.

When I go back this equation, this simple formula without numbers, my busy mind becomes more beautiful after all.

That’s right, Larry. Deal with it.

 

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This post is part of the Five Minute Friday community where bloggers are challenged to write for 5 minutes based on a one-word prompt. This week’s word: TRUTH

One of those days.

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Yesterday, before the sunrise, my oldest child stood in front of his middle school peers and shared his story. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) group meets once a week in the cafeteria before the first bell of the school day. One Wednesday each month they combine with another middle school FCA in town. They join their groups together for fellowship, fun, and free breakfast.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Karson was asked to share about his cancer. How he fought leukemia from the age of two to the age of five and-a-half. How before his peers met him in their Kindergarten classrooms and the elementary playground, he’d spent most of his days too sick to play with other kids.

How he’d received over three years of chemotherapy. How he was given steroids that made him crazy with hunger and then how he was required to fast for spinal tap procedures. How he ate more in one day as a toddler than most teenage boys do in two. How his medicine made him feel itchy, and yucky, and isolated. How he not only survived it all, but now is tall, and happy, and healthy.

He’s here.

And he’s willing to share at an FCA meeting on a cold, dark, Wednesday morning.

And my husband, who helps lead FCA and heard our son share, told me later that Karson’s message had two main points.

1- God loves you no matter what you’re going through – even if you don’t have it figured out.

2- We can have hope and joy because Jesus made it possible to spend eternity in Heaven.

And I can’t see straight as I type this because of the tears in my eyes.

Because I remember the days of being up before the crack of dawn too. Not for FCA groups, but for loading into the car with a very sick little bald boy who needed to go the hospital to get chemo to help keep him alive. How some days my knees could barely hold my own weight as I watched those spinal tap procedures and blood transfusions. How we didn’t know if he would live. How we didn’t know what the long term effects of his treatment would be even if he did. How we were told he would likely have stunted growth, learning disabilities, and coordination issues. And how we fought, and loved, and prayed.

And now I hear of him standing there; tall, and smart, and smiling. Telling his peers of the true hope they can cling to in this life.

And the tears run down my cheeks as I take it all in.

He’s here.

Yesterday was one of those days.

One of those days when you feel like you see the light pierce through the darkness.

When you remember that the sun will rise again.

Nothing to Lose.

I’ll never forget what she said. She stood behind the simple podium telling a room full of young moms the heartbreaking story of her infant daughter’s death. My throat felt tight and many eyes twinkled with tears as she told our MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group the details of her unimaginable loss. But it was one statement in particular that hit me. And it stuck. Though it has been years since that morning, I have replayed her words in my head often, as if she said them just last week.

She said something like;

“This may sound strange, but now that we have other children and I try every day to protect them from this world and to raise them right, there are times when I’m thankful that the daughter that we lost is already safe. Nothing can harm her now. She’s with the Heavenly Father, and she’s safe.”

Her transparency is capable of encouraging many others to live with such a perspective. Her worldview is an eternal one. Her hope is not rooted on Earth, but in Heaven. Her trust is in an invisible and loving God.

Though she has lost the most precious thing, she has nothing to lose.

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I know for a fact that this woman would have rather not faced her horrific pain in order to gain such a mature and godly perspective. But we don’t always have a choice in our life lesson plan. We do however have a choice in how we’ll accept it.

And her words remind me to accept an eternal perspective.

That with our Heavenly Father’s love and the gift of hope He offers, we have everything to gain.

And when we rest in the Truth, we have nothing to lose.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Jim Elliot 


This post of a part of the Five Minute Friday community where a group of bloggers write for about 5 minutes about a topic based on a one-word prompt. To see other posts from this week you can click here: http://katemotaung.com/2016/06/16/five-minute-friday-lose/ 

This week’s prompt: LOSE

Jeremiah 29:11- The Rest of the Story

FullSizeRenderPerched on the top bunk of my third story dorm room I had a good view of my fellow college students on the sidewalk below. I watched them pass as if staring at the second hand of a clock, absentmindedly watching the rhythm of the afternoon. I adjusted the pillow behind my back and leaned against the painted cinder block wall. My legs were folded under me, and my Bible lay open on my lap to Jeremiah chapter 29.

I wanted to know more about the plans God had for me.

As a Sophomore on a Christian college campus, I had heard the words of Jeremiah 29:11 many times in reference to God’s will for my future.

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.”

Those words robotically came from the mouths of professors, chapel speakers, and friends as if someone had pulled a string on their backs that triggered a preloaded response whenever a question about the future arose.

I did not doubt that God loved me or had good plans for me, but as I struggled through worry about the unknowns of my future;

What degree should I work toward?

Who will hire me after graduation?

What type of job do I want?

Who will I marry?

Where will we live?

What type of job will my husband have?

I was looking for more than a pat answer. I was looking for peace in the midst of uncertainty. And Jeremiah 29:11 seemed to be the go-to verse.

I wanted to know more about this apparent feel-good promise, so I read the context of the verse in its chapter, Jeremiah 29.

I felt confused.

The good feelings associated with plans for prosperity and hope were put aside. The verses leading up to verse 11 were not filled with smiles and sunshine. Jeremiah was speaking to Israelites who had been carried off, essentially as prisoners of war, to the country of Babylon.

The first verse of the chapter reads,

This is the text of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the surviving elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets and all the other people Nebuchadnezzar had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon.”

The fact that the word “surviving” is in this sentence tips me off that this was sent during a difficult time of war and death.

Jeremiah goes on to tell the people that they will one day be brought back to their homeland, Israel. God does have good things in store for them. He has plans to rescue them… in 70 years. He knows His plans to help them.

Jeremiah 29:10-11 says;

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. 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.”

I realized right then and there that verse 11 had been grossly taken out of context.

Not that God doesn’t have plans for us…. not that God isn’t a good God… but God doesn’t promise ME anything in this passage. He was talking to Israelite POWs in Babylon!

What does this mean for my future? Does God still have plans and hope for me?

I squirmed on my plaid comforter and readjusted both my physical and spiritual position.

If Jeremiah 29:11 wasn’t written to me, then why do we have it in our Bibles? Why read it at all? How can I know what is true for me and not just a message to its original audience?

To answer my complicated questions I go back to the simplest basics.

I believe God is who He says He is. I believe He is all-knowing and sovereign over all. I believe He never changes. Therefore, I can trust that any principle that I can glean about God from any passage of Scripture is still true today.

The specific promise of Jeremiah 29:11 wasn’t written for me, but the principle that God was teaching the Israelites in that passage has not changed.

So what was the principle God was teaching His people?

I assumed from the way Christians had been quoting Jeremiah 29:11 that God was telling His people He was ready to swoop in and drop good things on those who loved and obeyed Him. That He was basically our Santa Claus with prosperity and hope in his sleigh. But the truth was, God wasn’t going to deliver good things to His people the day that Jeremiah’s letter was read to them, or even once a year under the tree, for that matter.

He was not planning to rescue them for 70 years.

And what really struck me were God’s instructions for His people during those seven decades of waiting.

God told them to get on with life.

Jeremiah 29:4-8 reads:

“This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

The principle I learn here is that God DOES know the plans He has for us. He DOES have good things in store for our future. But while we are waiting, we are to live life and seek peace and prosperity, even if we’re in enemy territory.

Wow.

The principles of Jeremiah 29 are jumping off the page. I now see how I can relate and what I can learn from God’s Word to His people. I’m not so different from the exiled Israelites after all.

I live in enemy territory because I live in this world. One day I know God will rescue me and will take me back to my homeland to dwell with Him. But the principle I learn from Jeremiah 29 is that while I’m here, I need to live. I need to seek the peace and prosperity of this place I call home for now.

I need to get to work because if the work of my hands prospers, God will prosper me too.

It sounds like this principle in Jeremiah 29 isn’t all about what God has in store for me, but also how I can live for Him.

Jeremiah 29:11 is still a great verse to read for encouragement and hope. God hasn’t changed since the days of Jeremiah. He knows the plans He has for me, and when they include bringing me home to be with Him, I know for a fact they are good.

But there’s more to the story. God asks me to seek prosperity and peace in this territory while I wait for His rescue.

It looks like I had better get to work.

Safety Pin Surgeon

My daughter had been watching me and was disappointed in my reaction. She had been hoping to witness a little drama and excitement… and possibly tears. But there were no tears involved. Instead I was quite stoic and the emotions of my face were of self-pride and relief. I had just performed a minor surgery on myself and had been successful.DSC_0624

The term “surgery” may be a little excessive. Maybe what I did was called a “procedure” when I dropped the safety pin into a pot of boiling water and then later pried it open to expose its cooled-off needle tip. I had taken that makeshift medical instrument and had dug it into the palm of my hand to free the splinter that had been wedged inside my skin for five days.

When the splinter was finally released from its fleshy prison I held it out on the tip of my finger and stared at it.

It was microscopic.

I could barely even see the tiny piece of rose bush that had been figuratively and literally a thorn in my flesh.

Five days earlier I had been trimming our rose bushes and the result had been better looking landscaping, but forearms that looked like I had been in a fight with a cat. And lost.

I knew I had gotten a few thorns stuck in my skin and I spent a minute or two extracting them. It wasn’t a big deal except for one stubborn thorn in my palm that just wouldn’t budge. I really didn’t give it much thought after a few attempts. I figured it would work its way out eventually and at least my rosebushes were free of its burden.

The days passed and I half-heartedly and periodically would try in vain to remove the little thorn. By day five I realized that my entire hand was beginning to hurt. I was having trouble grabbling onto things and since I’m right-handed I was constantly being reminded that it was painful to touch anything against my palm. The skin around the splinter was red and puffy and actually beginning to look infected.

It was time for this safety pin physician to heal thyself.

And so it had come to this post-op moment, my daughter walking away shrugging and bored and me holding a tiny thorn on my fingertip in the sunlight coming in from the kitchen window.

How could something so small have caused such pain?

The pus that oozed from my palm indicated that my body had been fighting this miniature enemy. It was a foreign object. It had not belonged in my skin and my body had rejected it.

I disposed of my surgical instrument and carefully washed my hands and squeezed some antibacterial goo onto my palm. A couple of Band-Aids were soon in place and I released myself to go back to all normal activity.

The tiny perpetrator was long gone and could do no more harm.

But I have other thorns.

They’re not literal, but they cause just as much pain, if not more. They stem not from a bush, but from fear. They cling to my flesh as worry and anxiety.

I hate what they do to me.

The worry often starts so small and I label it is “concern” or “wise discernment” rather than seeing it for what it truly is.

“This worry is microscopic,” I think to myself, “What harm could it cause me to carry it around for awhile?”

And then it festers.

I half-heartedly and periodically tell myself that I should stop worrying. I should let it go and trust God. I should pray about it and remember that the Bible says “Do not worry.” But often my attempts at removing it are in vain.

Finally, I come to a point where I must make a decision. Will I leave the thorn of worry in my flesh and allow the infection to win? Or will I put some water on the stove and bring it to a boil in preparation for some surgery?

Either way it hurts. That’s the nature of a thorn in one’s flesh. But when I take the time and make the effort to get rid of the worry—that nasty enemy to my soul, then the healing process begins. When the perpetrator is gone, it can do no more harm.

And I know my Father who watches over me will be pleased with my reaction, because I have replaced a thorn in my flesh with not a Band-Aid, but with trust in The Great Physician.

I’d Lost That Loving Feeling

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Dear Reader,

Each month I blog for my church’s women’s ministry about a topic that is assigned for that month. This month the topic was INFERTILITY and MISCARRIAGE. It was a tough one! I have experienced three miscarriages, one just this past October. I was unsure if I should share such a personal story, but I decided to start writing and see what happened. As I typed… and deleted… and cried and typed some more I felt the healing process begin. Through writing and sharing my story with other ladies at my church I have actually been the one who has been blessed. I guess that’s how it often works!

I hope you too are encouraged and that you will seek to find joy and peace today — no matter your circumstances!

Thanks for reading!
Christy

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I knew it from the first moment I looked at the screen. The ultrasound technician was silent, but I didn’t need her to tell me what was so obvious in front of my own eyes. As she desperately tried to find signs of life on what should have been a wiggly, busy, tiny baby with a rapidly beating heart, my heart was breaking into a million little pieces.

And for the third time, my husband and I tasted the bitter loss of miscarriage.

The tears flowed heavy and often over the next several days. I was so very sad and my heart continued to break as I watched my three children grieve in their own little way. They had wanted this little baby to join our family too. We all missed this little person that we didn’t even have a chance to meet. It wasn’t fair.

Yes, of course I took great comfort in the hugs and kisses of my children. Their presence was a balm to my wounded soul. As they wiped my tears or cried along with me at the dinner table when my hormones were raging and my efforts to conceal my pain were useless, I felt extreme love and gratitude for them. But even surrounded by our three precious children, I knew I had lost another one. A life was gone and off-handed comments of, “Oh, maybe you’ll still have another one!” felt empty, as if this life was so easily replaced.

And I got angry. I was angry with almost everyone and everything, but most of all, I was mad at God.

How could He allow this? Was He trying to teach me something? Had I done something wrong? Was I to learn from this?

I wanted a baby, not a lesson.

The anger and frustration from this loss built in me, and my tears were hot on my cheeks. It didn’t seem fair that I had spent weeks dealing with morning sickness and had worked hard to hide the fact that I was always on the edge of queasiness. I had fought the super-fatigue of the first trimester and dealt with the guilt of needing to nap during the day while I allowed my preschool-aged daughters to watch too much TV. My body had already started physically changing and, as if I needed another reminder of what had been, it held on to the weight that I had gained.

Emotionally, I had allowed my anticipation and excitement to grow along with that little baby in my womb. I had been constantly daydreaming about its arrival and wondering if it would be a boy or a girl and what name we would give it.

And even though I was only 10 1/2 weeks along when I had that shocking and awful ultrasound, I was 100% in love with that child.

It hurt to the core and my anger toward God came to the forefront.

Intellectually, nothing had changed for me. I knew God was sovereign. I knew God was good. I knew God loved me. I knew all of those “right things.” But I didn’t feel them. Emotionally I felt empty and alone.

If God loved me, then I felt like this was a rotten way of showing it.

Through the long days of physical healing that followed I had a lot of time to think. And feel. It seemed that my emotions were winning every battle and though my rational thoughts of what I knew was true were trying to come to the forefront, my anger and bitterness were pushing them back down.

I realized after a day or two that I couldn’t trust my emotions. I was a wreck. I wasn’t in control of my feelings and though I was trying to rally them to help me feel what I desperately wanted to feel… God’s love… it wasn’t working. I was going to have to call upon what I knew was true instead.

It wasn’t easy. My feelings of loss and hurt and pain were so strong that my efforts to see glimpses of God’s love were strained and difficult. But little evidences were there. I decided to take mental note of them and store them in my mind as ammunition against my anger. Perhaps over time I’d have enough to once again feel God’s love, though for now I’d have to be content without the feelings, and take what I could get from the knowledge alone.

And God didn’t disappoint.

Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t feel all warm and fuzzy or enveloped in His love. On the contrary, I felt like He was distant and even harsh. But I kept looking with my eyes since my heart wasn’t playing along.

And I saw.

At first my teeth were gritted and my arms were crossed. They stayed that way for several days. I took a lot of deep breaths and used a lot of tissues as the days ticked by and the list began to lengthen.

I still didn’t feel God’s love the way I wanted to feel it. But I was seeing it.

In fact, the evidence of God’s presence and His love was obvious to me in a way I’ve never known before. His love did not feel gentle, but oh it was there! It seemed undeniable. It wasn’t the easy, sing-songy “Jesus Loves Me” kind of love, but the love of an all-knowing, Almighty whom I knew with my mind that I could trust.

I felt as if He’d taken me through a dark place of brokenness, emptiness, anger and desperation so that His love and His truths… HE would stand out in stark contrast. And He did. He was so obvious in the darkness that at one point I actually wondered if He was enjoying showing off!

I had to make a choice. Would I surrender to what my eyes had seen, His love and His presence in the midst of the darkness, or would I continue to wait for my emotions to shape up and start feeling the way I wanted them to feel.

And so I leaned on what I knew to be true.

For days my emotions continued to lay in shambles. I was still angry and I said and thought things that I didn’t mean. But God was okay. He could handle it.

For days my heart was hard and stubborn. But as I saw God’s love so evident around me, eventually my heart started to warm and I began to desire a contrite heart. The softening of my heart wasn’t immediate, but I could tell that the thawing and molding was happening in God’s hands.

To this moment, my mind cannot figure out what the point of this loss was in my life and where it leaves my family’s plans for the future. But my biggest desire now is for peace and joy in the midst of the unknown. I want to be ok with simply trusting God completely for the future, though there is nothing that feels simple about the process.

And in my surrender I knew this truth from 1 John 3:1,

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!

I’m a child of God. I am His precious little one that He loves and delights in as I love my own children. No, His love is even more powerful than that. His love has been lavished on me and He calls me His child.

This loss was difficult. It hurt. It still hurts. But when my heart is broken and my emotions are all over the map, I can rest in this truth.

No matter what I am feeling, I am His child, and His love is there.

Socks…Really?!

DSC_0744This is the time of year when children rip into presents with eager joy and anticipation.

It’s also the time of year when we see a particular phenomenon occur during these times of gift opening.

You’ve seen it.

The child, with tongue pressed to their upper lip and eyes wide open, lifts the lid of a box and pulls out… socks. Then the child, whose valuable time has clearly been wasted, swiftly lifts the socks and drops them onto the floor in one smooth and rapid motion while already reaching for another wrapped box, which they hope contains something they actually want.

I mean seriously, what kid is thrilled to get socks for Christmas?

But goodness knows they need them.

Take my son for example. I’m not sure how he does it, but he can wear a pair of new socks a few times and suddenly they have holes on the bottom of them so large that at that point they are really more a pair of leg warmers instead of actual socks. How does this happen so quickly? I don’t understand. But after cleaning out Karson’s sock drawer recently and throwing away enough holey socks to poorly cloth half his elementary school’s feet, I decided we’re buying him socks for Christmas.

A lot of socks.

I’m the parent here and I know what my kid needs. But, I’m embarrassed to tell you that the sock situation around here has gotten so ugly that Karson actually asked for socks for Christmas. Yeah, it’s that bad.

But regardless, I do know what my kids need. And sometimes my husband and I give them things that they don’t want. Take punishment, chores and non-flavored children’s Tylenol for example. But, we know what’s good for them and we do it all out of love. Even the socks.

As Christians, sometimes we give our “wish list” to God through prayer. We have specific wants and needs and with wide eyes and eager hands we wait for Him to come through granting each of our requests.

But sometimes we get socks.

Sometimes the circumstances of my life are not what I had in mind. I think, “Lord, I think you misunderstood. This isn’t what I wanted. Did you check my list twice?”

But He knows. He’s the parent here. He’s my Heavenly Father and he knows exactly what I need.

Matthew 6:25-34 talks about this. Jesus is telling us to stop worrying about what we will eat, drink and wear because our Father will take of us. He says,

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Our end of this deal is pretty simple. Not easy, but simple. We are to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. Our focus is to be on Christ and honoring Him with our life. And we should trust Him for the rest. He says, “and all these things (meaning the things we need) will be added to us as well.”

We can trust God to take care of us and to give us what we need. And He delights in often giving us what we want as well. He’s such a loving and trustworthy Father.

So as I watch my son open his socks this year I’m going to smile inside thinking about how my Heavenly Father knows what I need too.

Socks may not be very thrilling, but sometimes it’s necessary to give and receive them.

Don’t even get me started on underwear.

One of my Worst Moments

It is one of the worst moments of my life.

I was six days shy of my eleventh birthday and, as my six-year-old brother would say later, though the day was called Good Friday, it wasn’t a very good day for us.

Instead, there we stood in a sterile hospital room with our dad. We had just taken an awful ride in a police car as we followed an ambulance carrying our mother to the Emergency Room. Our mom had collapsed suddenly and shockingly at the kitchen table that evening and we had just been told by the doctor that she had died of a heart arrhythmia.

The pain I felt was indescribable.

Now the four of us were in a room alone together for the last time. My dad, even in the deepest grief of his life, had the wisdom to ask the doctor if we could see our mom’s body and so there we stood around her. And though it may sound morbid or scary, it was actually just the opposite. It was helpful.

My dad, my little brother and I were able to say goodbye, although my dad reminded us that what we saw was just my mom’s body and not really Mom. We held hands and prayed together, and my dad told us that even though we were heartbroken and we didn’t understand this, he believed God was still in control.

To say that the evening of March 24th, 1989 impacted my life is a gross understatement. The loss of a mom to a preteen girl is full of impact. I was so very sad.

Yet, I had hope.

The conversation with my dad in that horrible room where my mom’s body lay changed me as well. I was taught a deeply profound lesson in a few minutes’ time, and it has helped me in the days, months, and years since that night.

By pointing me to a God who is unchanging in a moment when my entire world had just been completely thrown off its axis, my dad gave me hope that God could not only handle the change, but was in control of it.

By reminding me that God is sovereign in a moment where everything seemed so utterly unfair, my dad gave me hope that I can trust that God not only knew about my mom’s death, but that He was still in perfect control of her death and my life.

By leading me in prayer around the bed where my dead mother lay, my dad reminded me that I can always turn to my Heavenly Father for comfort, hope and love.

It has been 24 years since that night. I’ve grown in stature, maturity and faith. I’m now a wife and a mom and have now lived longer on this earth than my own mother did. I’ve had other hard moments since that night too, and I know I’ll have more to come.

Yet, I have hope.

When I graduated from college and was in a season of life where everything was changing and there was so much unknown…

When I desperately prayed for a godly husband and didn’t know where I would meet this guy or when…

I was able to trust in an unchanging God who knew my desires and needs and was able to faithfully provide for me what He knew I needed and when.

When I miscarried two babies and struggled with surgeries and issues that caused me to not get pregnant…

When I was told by a doctor that because of these issues I would most likely have a small family…

I was able to turn to my God who I believe is sovereign and I cried out to Him for his comfort, love, hope and mercy. He was faithful. …and He not only blessed us with hope and peace, but has blessed us with children.

When our two-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia and we struggled through three-and-a-half years of chemotherapy and treatment…

When my days were full of dark moments of seeing my son suffer…

I was able to turn in prayer to a God whom I believe is real and not only knows my pain but also cares deeply for both my son, and me. And just like his Word says, He gave me a peace that passes all understanding.

The evening of March 24th, 1989 was one of my worst moments. And yet, through the pain and darkness I was reminded of a sovereign, loving God who offers hope and peace.

And even out of one of my worst moments of my life, God was able to bring good.

And I trust He’ll be faithful to do the same in every moment of my future.

I Don’t Want To Let Go!

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Hi. My name is Christy and I struggle with letting go.

Hi, Christy.

I mean, I get excited about new things, but I don’t like having to let go of what is familiar and comfortable and safe. Change can be scary, particularly if there are unknowns ahead. Like, if I can’t picture what my routine will look like in the next stage or what my purpose will be in a new season of life, I start to fret.

Please… tell us more.

 I guess, well, I mean… I feel like I don’t want to let go of what is certain because what if I don’t like the next step as much as I like this one. How can I be sure it’s safe to let go? But yet, as time marches on, I’m simply forced to let go of some things.

(Christy starts biting her nails.)

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All right, I don’t actually have a support group. But, I do have a husband, whom I asked one day why he thinks I feel sad during times of change, like on my kids’ birthdays or last days of school. He said it’s because I have issues. Maybe I should get a support group. They’d probably be nicer.

But although my husband is somewhat right to so kindly point out that I have issues with change, I don’t think I’m the only one who feels this way. Women tend to agree with me. At least I think they do. Please, someone tell me (or at least tell my husband) that I’m not alone.

We ladies can sometimes struggle with change… and in particular, the changes that force us to let go. The act of letting go of a season of life, comfortable routine, or familiar territory is hard. We’d prefer to keep a white-knuckled grip on our children, dreams, schedules, plans, hopes and security. Trading the familiar for the unknown can be a bit unnerving.

This time of year always makes me feel sentimental too. Another school year has come to an end and I’ve seen kids that I used to babysit wear caps and gowns. I am feeling nostalgic as my own son reaches a grade I can clearly remember being in myself (and not that long ago, either)! I am once again slapped with the reminder that time marches on more quickly than I’d like it to. I’m forced to let go of this stage and phase and usher in the new.

And that kind of scares me.

But, wouldn’t you know, I’ve found comfort and reassurance. Not from my husband or my imaginary support group, but from my Heavenly Father through a wonderful hymn reminding me of His truth.

As I stood with a group of ladies in a Bible study that I attend, we recently sang the hymn, Praise to the Lord, the Almighty*, and one of the lines struck a deep chord in me.

Hast thou not seen how thy desires e’er have been

Granted in what He ordaineth

I’ve thought about those lyrics countless times in the last few weeks. It’s two short lines with a lot of meaning. In other words, it’s saying:

“Hey! Haven’t you noticed that God has provided peace and joy for you in every stage of your life, good and bad, up until this moment? He has basically made your desires fit with his will. What makes you think He won’t be faithful to guide you and give you peace and joy in the next stage of life? Let go and move on, dummy!”

(You can see why my translation hasn’t made it into the hymnal just yet.)

And so, as I continue to replay that wonderful hymn and it’s truth in my mind I’ve found comfort and been reminded of God’s faithfulness. It’s hard to let go and to take steps into the unknown, but I trust that my God will go before me. He will lead me with His loving hand.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

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So, let me ask you something, Christy.

(Imaginary Support Group leader leans back in their chair and crosses their legs. The rest of the imaginary group members lean in close to listen…)

 Christy, hast thou not seen how they desires e’er have been granted in what He ordaineth?!

 Yes.

Yes, I have seen. And with that in mind, may I look forward to the days ahead with joy and anticipation, as I trust in Him who leads me.

*Words: Jo­ach­im Ne­an­der (Stras­lund: 1680); trans­lat­ed from Ger­man to Eng­lish by Cath­er­ine Wink­worth, 1863. Music: Lobe den Her­ren, An­der Theil des Er­neu­er­ten Ge­sang­buch, se­cond edi­tion (Bre­men, Ger­ma­ny: 1665)

Daddy Loves You

IMG_4051 2My memory of the moment is both crystal clear and fuzzy at the same time. It’s hard to explain, but yet if you’ve ever been in shock, you’ll understand.

My body felt numb and weak and apparently that was obvious to those around me because a nurse pushed a stool underneath my legs and helped me sit down beside my son’s hospital bed. I hadn’t even realized until I sat just how much I needed that support.

My two-year-old son, Karson, was laying on the bed along with Lyle the Lamb, his stuffed companion. My husband, Kraig, stood on the opposite side of the bed and rubbed Karson’s little back. Our heads were reeling with the news we’d received just mere hours before. Doctors were telling us that our toddler had cancer. Now we were crammed in a small procedure room at a children’s hospital watching them prep our son for a bone marrow biopsy.

I was experiencing feelings of denial and shock. Our son had been limping for a week and he presented only mild cold symptoms. Why were they suddenly throwing around words like, “leukemia,” and “chemotherapy?” Wasn’t this just a virus that would pass on its own? Do we really need to do this procedure?

But deep down I reasoned that if these trained medical professionals thought there was enough evidence of cancer from a small bit of blood work, then I must allow them to proceed with further testing of Karson’s bone marrow. They had explained that leukemia starts in the marrow and they must take a look to find out what type of leukemia we were fighting.

And so, in what was literally half a day, we went from a normal morning routine to that dreaded procedure room in a hospital two hours from our house. I can still smell that moment and feel the sterility and darkness of that room. It was awful.

To be completely honest, I’m not even sure I want to draw up those memories or that emotion ever again. I wrestle sometimes with the watershed moments that were burned into my mind in the coming three-and-a-half years of my son’s chemotherapy and treatment. Some memories can bring the sting of tears in a matter of seconds. I used to see them often when I closed my eyes at night. Now it’s much less frequent, but the pain is just as raw. It hurts. So you may ask why I write about it or even bother to relive it at all?

I guess I don’t want to waste it.

As awful as Karson’s cancer was, there was so much good that came from it as well. Most of that good came in the form of God’s gentle presence in the midst of the rough storm. Kraig and I learned so much and felt like we were matured in our faith in a way that would otherwise not have been possible.

And on February 9th, 2007, as we took the first shaky steps into that journey, my husband… my son’s father, told me of how he now understood the love of our Heavenly Father in a deeper way. It was the first of many things we would learn along the way.

Kraig recounted the horrible moments of having to physically pin Karson down on that hospital bed as doctors used a large and painful needle and tools to extract bone marrow from our little boy’s hip. Karson was awake and acutely aware of the intense pain. As he lay there on his stomach, his face was turned toward his daddy who was firmly holding him still and talking to him. Karson was screaming and crying for the pain to stop and looking at Kraig with questioning eyes as if saying,

“Why, Daddy?”

“Why are you letting them hurt me?”

“Please make it stop!”

And oh, how we wanted to!

Kraig and I would have crawled onto that bed in a heartbeat and taken that pain instead of watching our son have to experience it. But we couldn’t. We knew that we had to allow to the doctors to proceed. We had to allow them to extract bone marrow so that they could determine what course of treatment would be most effective for fighting this cancer. But we couldn’t explain all of that to a two-year-old. Even if we had, he wouldn’t have understood.

And so as Karson screamed and pleaded with his Daddy, all that Kraig could say in response was,

“I love you, Karson.”

“I love you, buddy.”

“Oh, Karson! Daddy loves you so much!”

It was heartbreaking and profound.

And as Kraig shared with me later, he thought about how many times in life our Heavenly Father has had to hold us down through pain, trial, sin and ugliness. And we don’t understand it. And perhaps even if He told us, it wouldn’t matter. All we need to do is look into his eyes and hear His words.

Daddy loves you.

1 John 3:1 says,
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”

I don’t get it. I can’t mentally grasp it or figure it out. I don’t know why my Heavenly Father has allowed pain in my life or my child’s life. I simply don’t know.

Yet the lesson Kraig learned in that moment, I continue to learn as well. I submit to my Father’s hands holding me firmly through the pains of this life, and listen to his almighty and loving voice reminding me of His unconditional love.

I know my Father’s love. And that’s all I really need to know.