Today I’m writing at Not Alone about ways to survive those hair-pulling crisis times!
You can check it out here: Crisis Survival for Parents.
I’ve heard the body of Christ compared to an orchestra. Each person has a unique role, a different sound and function, plays for a different amount of times, swelling into one glorious song of praise to God as they use their gifts.
I’m thinking that I might be in the bass section. My writing “voice” always gravitates to the reality of pain and how to reconcile that with the hope we have in Jesus. How do suffering and joy intersect? How does the truth of the gospel change the way I respond to hard things? Acknowledging the reality of pain in a broken world makes words spill on the page. That and the solid rock hope we have in Jesus.
And since I don’t mince words when it comes to hard times, maybe I come off as the Edgar Allan Poe of the blogosphere. Need your daily dose of misery? A good cry? Head over to Kara’s blog.
In reality, our lives are rich with the goodness of God. And much of that goodness has come by the hands and feet of those around us in our family and church. In all the chaos of the last four years so many people have given of themselves. I want to write short stories about these everyday people who have been the hands and feet of God’s goodness to our family.
Maybe it will give you an idea of how to help someone you know.
Maybe you will find that although a thank you note never came in the mail (Really, this still haunts me. I wish I’d kept record! Forgive me?) you were a healing mercy and blessing!
God has woven so much blessing in with the sorrow. You see that in your life too, right? So I’m going to trade in this “writing voice” of a tuba for a piccolo and take time to the write about the joy that flows our way.
Maybe a piccolo is pushing it. Let’s go for the clarinet.Read More
There are brushes of providence that leave us shaken. Dark strokes that seem to consume and overwhelm the painting of this piece called Life.
And when the darkness is pushed below and the brighter strokes of providence begin again we look back, terrified at the yawning, groping darkness that almost swallowed us.
We look up, relieved that the Light of the World will never let the darkness overcome us. Because He has overcome the darkness for us.
And then we walk forward, humbly, realizing the weakness of our frame and the greatness of our God. And we rejoice in Emmanuel, the Light that shines through the thickest of nights. The one who dwells with us even while we grope through the darkness.
Have you felt those dark arrows of Satan that are shot at the believer’s hearts? Arrows that tell you there is no future for you. That sorrow will reign and chronic illness will have the last word. The flaming lie that whispers “Your Jesus is not enough for this,” and your heart chills with fear at the path before you. Faith seems foolish. Will we succumb?
I would. But Jesus. Fly to Him.
We don’t plan on dark arrows and sorrow when we begin life, do we? Postpartum depression and palliative care were not in my plans. I want to run from this sorrow. I want to bury my head under my pillow every time I hear him cough and empty his lungs just to fill again. I’m tempted to shrink back. To believe the lie that Jesus is not enough, that the sorrow of life surpasses the joy we have in Christ. And I would if not for the grace and preservation that God gives liberally to each one in Christ. He keeps me when I cannot keep myself.
Do you see? Even in these despairing places the cover of Life is all around us. He may let the darkness cover us, our souls may feel like they will never breathe again, but they will! This is but a slight covering of night that He will use to further awaken us to glory. Be patient in the nights of life; shout the words of truth into the them and know your night has already been conquered by Him who endured the darkest of all nights.
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
We held the glowing cake in his line of remaining vision, behind him and to the left. Four candles flickered as the air swept currents of “Happy Birthday” notes swirling around our living room. Calvin’s eyes danced with excitement at the candles, his grandpa’s arms and the siblings crowded around.
This fourth birthday was the first to see him alert and lively, not teetering on the brink of life. All night long he tried to talk loudly, waved his arms in short uncoordinated little punches and kicked his legs in jerky stiff movements. Nothing works the way it should but it was pure beauty to his family.
This daily care of Calvin, this daily entering his world and being satisfied with altered joys is giving us glimpses of the Father’s love that take our breath away. It’s not made up fancy, it’s real hard-core Bible truth, this Father-love and delight in His own. My eyes have read the words over and over but my heart and mind dismiss this grace when I think of my heavenly Father thinking of me. I forget what it means to be “in Christ” and the satisfaction accomplished for sinners.
An unspoken theology follows my footsteps and steals joy and isolates me from God (and I would bet a good number of you too). It tells me this perfect, awesome God rather reluctantly saved me. And once saved He now puts up with me with much frustration and disappointment as I fall often on the road of life. I live under the law and fail to grasp the grace there is for me in Jesus. I hardly dare whisper “He delights in me! He loves me!” I dishonor His love and Christ’s work when I fail to believe it.
What if Calvin were to respond to me that way? What if he stopped moving and responding to me because he was ashamed of his movements being uncoordinated, awkward and impaired? What if he limited his responses to me because of it? I look for and find delight in every expression he gives. I laugh and smile to see him filled with joy that comes from any exercise of his rigid body; I rejoice in him regardless of improper, uncoordinated and clumsy movement. It’s not a perfect example, this earthly relationship, but it gives me a glimpse into the immensity of the Father’s love and delight in us because of Christ.
Even after grace our spiritual deformities leave us crippled with weakness and sin. But this does not make God dismissive or distant from us, ”As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” Ps. 103:14
My praise is too rusty, fickle and feeble. I fall, I fail, I’m slow to learn. But the Father tenderly comes and turns my eyes to Jesus again. He sees life springing in my heart, the seeds he planted and He longs for fullness.
These signs of life, responses to grace and love are joy to our Father’s heart. Why? Because we’re so wonderful? No, He delights in us because of the satisfaction of Christ on our behalf. As we hope in Christ, His reflective glory is written upon us and brings praise to the Father (Ephesians 1!). He sees the stirrings of life and the resemblance of His likeness in us as we respond to His grace. He delights in us as we delight in Him.
“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love.” Zeph. 3:17
The days are getting colder and dusk is licking up the lasts wisps of light by dinner. This means we are huddled more than ever around books! It continues to be one of our favorite times of day; if you’re looking for some suggestions these are some of the books we’ve enjoyed the last few months:
I’m partial to the 1964 first edition. The illustrations are timeless and the sketches give just enough enticement for little minds to wander into the imaginative world of chocolate rivers, mini-men and candy that lives only in dreams. The greatest benefit of this book is showing us our own flaws (pride, selfishness, arrogance) through the exaggerated characters of the golden-ticket winners. Little Charlie, poor yet resiliently happy, opens little one’s eyes to wonder, hope and the possibility of happy endings. Noah loved this one and upon opening any candy shouts, “I’ve got a golden ticket!”
We read this book as summer turned to fall. It was a great window for a bunch of city kids to peek into what it takes to survive in the wild. The story is about a young boy, Matt, who lives on his own in a cabin in the wilderness as he awaits his family’s return. He learns how to make fishing hooks and rabbit traps, how to leave a trail and discern Indian signs. We all felt the loneliness of the long days, the thrill of survival and the rewards of loyalty as we romped through these page of wilderness Maine. We did try out the movie after reading the book; it was a huge let-down after the book and I wish we wouldn’t have bothered.
This was a great fall-time read. Much of the story focuses on the great salmon run in Alaska which coincided with much smaller fall-time salmon runs in our region. The two most valuable features in this book are the descriptive writing about nature and the strong character development of the young boy, Mark Andersen. It gave us breathtaking views of the Alaskan wilderness, detailed information about the fishing industry and heart-moving glimpses of loyalty, determination and friendship between a boy and his magnificent friend, Ben.
I can’t tell you how much reading together benefits our family. Whether it’s Darryl and I reading to each other chapters from P.G. Wodehouse to G. Vos as the night closes, me reading kid’s books in the living room with kids piled everywhere, or gathered around the supper table making our way through the OT narratives–it always brings smiles, togetherness and earnest discussion. It creates a natural platform for really knowing one another and growing in understanding together. Quality family time really is about a shared simple togetherness.
I love these thoughts on reading together from Edith Schaeffer:
“Whether it is with small children, adults, or a group of varied ages, there are questions or thoughts that simply burst out at times as the book is shared together, and which open up opportunities for knowing each other and each other’s responses and attitudes in ways which no other “entertainment” could ever do. Attitudes and ideas come out which might never be brought out in ordinary conversation.
It gives the family a background for thinking and growing in their concepts and understanding, together, rather than always separately.”Read More
It seems like pride and self-righteousness are two things all of us pretend we don’t have. We like to appear humble but almost every one of us is tempted to make a big deal of “me” and a small deal of “Jesus.” We can even turn brokenness and suffering into a trophy for self instead of surrendering it to Jesus. The good news is that Jesus died for self-righteous and proud people. Sinners who often put themselves on a higher standing than God and others. His Spirit can transform our souls, giving us bigger eyes for Jesus and smaller eyes for self.
When people look at me do they see a person filled with Jesus? Or do they see just another person “full of self”?
I’m writing about this at Not Alone today, you can read it here: Does Suffering Make You a Better Person?Read More
Today I’m blogging over at Not Alone about the blessing of having biblical traditions a part of every day family life. I’d love to hear your traditions!
Life is moving quickly here at the Dedert range. Calvin has had a fantastic summer of good health. I think it was almost 8 weeks of no lung infections, glorious! Yesterday he became sick very suddenly with a lung infection; it’s astounding how much his condition can change in a few hours. Last night as we worked continuously with him, trying to ease his breathing, we breathed thanks for the wonderful weeks we have had with him.
Because he has been feeling so good for so long (8 weeks is some sort of record!), we were able to witness new things he was doing. We stood around with absolute joy watching him kick his legs and swing his arms vigorously while giggling when Darryl came home from work. His awareness of us was at an all time high and he tried so hard to participate in every way his little body allowed him. We have spent most of our summer evenings being beside him and soaking up the delight that he gives with every ounce of his being. I think we are beginning to understand the meaning of the word “cherish”. We’ve been remembering to take videos on the camera more often, catching many of these happy moments.
We had planned to send Calvin to school a few mornings a week, he loves it! All of it is contingent on his health, the Lord knows.
Most mornings Evie can be found here:
The other three littles have had a fantastic summer:
Darryl and I have been hard at work on a side business, the Common Table. His arms are having to stretch a little farther around me each month.Read More