We will never reach the other side of our dreams without determination.
Micaela let out a gut wrenching scream. I dropped the soap sponge into the water and sprinted to the living room. I expected to see blood, maybe a wasp, something. Instead I found Micaela gripping her mega blocks and screaming.
Then began one of the longest weeks of my life began.
We are beginning to realize that Micaela’s mind is light years ahead of her body and speaking abilities. The battle of the mega blocks is a perfect example. She watched her older sister, Adela build towers for a few days and that morning she decided to give it a shot. She grabbed the blocks and slammed them together. They rolled away.
My mouth fell open.
Excited, I squatted beside Micaela and carefully showed her the holes in the blocks. I demonstrated how they fit together. Then I handed her one. She tried. The block fell on top the tower and rolled away. She screeched. I winced.
She knew what she wanted to accomplish, but coordinating wrist movement and depth perception was a monumental task.
For an entire week she played with those blocks. She would come crying, carrying the culprit plastic bricks, and I would show her over and over.
Finally, the crying stopped. She could do it. Our entire household let out a relieved sigh.
Oh, those mega blocks. We all have them. Mine are raising my children and becoming a successful writer. Watching Micaela that week was good for my heart. Her determination and following success was inspiring.
Proverbs 13:4, says: The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. (ESV)
Diligence. Hard work. Dreams.
Micaela’s pain and frustration was real, but so is the smile on her face when she shows off her new skill. If she had only craved to build a tower, but hadn’t forged through the hours of anger and mental exhaustion, she would never have done it. Our best dreams are our tallest mountains.
May our lives be blessed by the climb.
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
What keeps you going as you pursue your dreams?
The doctor looked over his mask and nodded to Micaela. “What do you think, mom, is this baseline? Is this Micaela?” She had experienced her very first seizure and recovery was slow.
I shook my head. “No. Its not. This isn’t baseline.”
Miceala sleepily babbled and banged a musical turtle. She threw her head back and gazed unfocused at the ceiling.
No. This was not Micaela.
Baseline. The word made my heart tremble. God, where is baseline? Where is baseline for my family? Is it this—hospitals and new meds and fear? Or, please, is baseline home where Micaela laughs and throws tantrums and Adela doesn’t wonder where her mother and sister went? Oh, God.
The doctors and nurses came. They left. The tests were done. Micaela’s brain showed no signs of bleeding, strokes, or epilepsy. There was only the old, extensive, damage. The kind that made the neurologists look at what was left of her brain and ask if the lethargic child in front of us was acting normal.
That night, when the hospital room dimmed, I listened to the monitors and questioned God. I questioned His plan. I knew He had one. I knew He had a purpose for my child, for me, for my family, before we were ever breathed into existence. But I wasn’t sure I liked it anymore. My prayers stopped. I wrapped myself in a blanket against the chill.
I thought over all the many twists in my 31 years of life. From one year to the next it has been full of the unexpected. I eloped at 21. I had my first child while living in Patagonia, Argentina. I said goodbye to a two-month old baby and brought home her twin sister. I lost my mother much too soon.
I relived a hundred memories and I saw it. Clear and beautiful--baseline.
We have no control over our lives. Even if we had the money and resources to create a perfect bubble, the unexpected would still worm its way into our existence. Baseline will never be something we can hold and touch. Baseline can be found in something altogether more powerful—our connection to God.
That is baseline. Baseline is being able to look at any circumstance and see our amazing Heavenly Father. Baseline is His joy in our hearts, His peace in our souls. Baseline stretches and weaves into our every moment because we chose not to walk out this life on our own strength, we chose Him.
Eventually, our Micaela woke, ate, played, laughed, and even threw a tantrum. God stays close to Her. That precious connection is an intimate part of her existence, and mine, my four-year-old Adela, and my husband’s lives. Our baseline cannot be measured, described, or limited.
But we have this treasure in clay jars to show that its extraordinary power comes from God and not from us.
What keeps you secured to your baseline?
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. (NIV)
I held my knees to my chest and stared at the rubble of my burned home. The removal of the ashes was the next day. My heart ached knowing the tangible evidence of my memories would soon settle in a dump.
Dance on the ashes. My quiet thought prompted me.
That’s crazy. No. I shook my head grasping a handful of slate colored dust, my beautiful house reduced to this. I’m not dancing on the ashes. People will laugh. I glanced around, people walking their dogs and cars going by.
I am not a singer or a painter, but a dancer, yes. Much had been taken from me, but the expression of my heart remained. Dance on the ashes, I told myself. Several times I stood and sat down, afraid someone would see me.
My need to proclaim victory over devastation won the argument. I stood, blasted my music, and danced. My inhibitions melted with each step. This was not just a dance, but a release of pain and an infusion of strength at the same time. My inner being shouted, I will overcome. Even if it all burns, I will stand and declare my faith. “Great is my God!” The words of the music seared truth into my spirit. With every step, the broken glass and debris crunched beneath my feet. The sound echoed—a reminder that beauty will triumph, even when brokenness screams.
When circumstances turn our lives to rubble, sometimes the only thing to do is dance on the ashes.
Often, the action we need to take to move beyond our pain is the hardest step. When we praise God for who He is, in spite of our circumstances, we fall into his generous arms of love. God wants to meet us when our heart breaks, but sometimes we ignore Him. Worship is the dance which moves us from a crumpled ball of defeat to the capable arms of Jesus.
Shauna Hoey is the author of Fire of Hope: Finding Treasure in the Rubble. Her book delivers heart-felt practical wisdom from her voice of experience. Learn more about Shauna on her website:www.shaunahoey.com
Adapted from an excerpt in Fire of Hope: Finding Treasure in the Rubble and What’s-Your-Story-Waldo Canyon Fire Colorado by Johnny Wilson The Day I Danced on the Ashes by Shauna Hoey pages 24-25
My eyes scanned over this month's goals. Between chores, I wanted to work with Micaela. I touched the cognitive goal and nodded. I selected 5 familiar objects and placed them on the floor. Micaela came quickly. Her smile was infectious.
I grinned. "Okay Micaela, we have a cup, a cat, the drum, a ball, and a marker." Micaela patted the drum and grabbed the cat. I swallowed. "Micaela, where is the ball? Can you touch the ball?"
I made eye contact with her and repeated the question. Micaela's smiled faded. She set the cat down and looked at the toys. I held my breath and waited. Miceala looked at me again and her eyes lit up. She crawled over and climbed into my lap. She settled her head on my shoulder. I could feel her body relax. When she leaned back there was a smile once again on her face.
My eyebrows came together. My little two-year-old obviously needed a hug. Had I held her today? Had I simply enjoyed her company? What about yesterday? My mind filled with the activities we did together. I knew Micaela enjoyed all of them. But there was more to life than developmental progress.
I held Micaela for several minutes and pushed away my agenda. It was hard. My thoughts were of milestones and learning, but my heart was troubled.
When had Micaela become my project child instead of just my child?
The rest of the day my worried mind traveled the fear over and over. Before bed I poured out my doubts to God. I needed guidance. I need to fix whatever had become broken. I bit my lip and opened to the book of Mark in the Bible. The next chapter I needed to read was chapter 8 and a familiar story came with it.
Jesus fed four thousand men + women and children with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. The men themselves would have went hungry, but with God their resources were multiplied. There was more than enough.
I blinked back tears.
As a mom, I often feel my resources are stretched thin. There is so much that needs to be done. So much that must be fixed, cared for, provided for. My mind and heart feel inept, coming up short with everything my little family needs.
But, with God, there is more than enough.
I have enough love to see my daughter for more than her disabilities. My mind has more than enough space to care for the many needs of her learning and life. I have wisdom, joy, love, patience, and peace, because I’m on this journey with Him.
Like the four thousand that sat on the ground while Jesus broke the bread and gave thanks, I need to rest in His presence and let Him fill all those empty spaces.
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Have you ever doubted the affection of someone close to you?
When I was about fourteen, I went through a period where I greatly questioned my mom's love. It disturbed me how much she did for my younger brother. She paid attention to his grades, sat down with him to do his homework, and worked hard to help him succeed. Her treatment of me was very different. Of course, I had straight As and did not struggle in school, but I still felt she did not love me like she did my brother. Now, Mom did find things for us to do togethers and liked to give me little things. The hormonal teenager in me believed that she attempted to convince me of her love, but it was obvious that my brother was the one who truly held her heart.
A decade later a friend handed me the book The Five Love Languages. My world was rocked. I gobbled up the theology of the book and sighed with relief. I understood my husband better and became a better friend. I realized that Mom did love me. However, our love languages did not match up.
For those of you who haven't read this amazing book, let me give you a little idea of what it is about. AuthorGary Chapman wrote that we all express love using a primary and secondary love language. There are five different languages to choose from:
My primary language is acts of service and my secondary is physical touch. That means that if someone hugs me or does something to help me, I feel perfectly loved. My mother liked to receive (and give) gifts and spend quality time with others. I didn't realize that all those years she was actively demonstrating how much I meant to her in the way using her love languages.
Information is powerful. As we gear up to extra loving next week, wouldn’t it be nice to know about the love languages of those close to you? Anyone can sign on to the Love Languages website and take a quiz for free. We can also find out the love language of our children (if they are above age 9). http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/
God made us unique and special in our ways. Let us honor that by finding the best way to show our love to the special people in our lives.
January was an overwhelming month for me. That is probably not much of a shocker when I consider how much I carelessly heaped on my plate. I dove into a new world of marketing a book, I have been furiously editing a novel that a publishing company has shown interest in, I started a new diet & exercise regime, and I continued mothering & housekeeping to the best of my ability.
When my spleen swelled up at the end of the month I felt like the universe was giving me a nice little thunk on the forehead. I felt God lovingly place a hand on my shoulder and say, "You are glutton for punishment, My daughter. Ready to step back into My pace and plan for you?"
As I write this post my side feels like it is on fire and I battle frustration. I want my energy back. I want to be able to sleep in my right side again and chase the girls around the house. And, I'm a little scared. I don't exactly have answers for what is going on. Worst of all, I feel like I'm failing.
Failing at motherhood. Failing at maintaining a home. Failing at writing, publishing, and marketing. Failing at maintaining peace. Failing at improving my health.
I really didn't know if things would be okay again.
As I sat and moped, my mind turned to all the stories in the Bible about the Kings of Judea and Isreal. Their lives fascinate me. They were men with great power. Some of them had hearts for the Lord and their lives were full of happiness and success. Others never turned their eyes to the true God, and they brought distruction on themselves and their kingdom. The most heartbreaking histories of all, are about the kings who began their reign following the Lord, but turned away as time moved on. God never allowed them to move too far from Him before bringing them into account.
I have been busy. In so many of my goals this past month, I have relied heavily on my own knowledge and strength. I have forgotten to turn to Him in all the little worries and the grand problems. I am no king, but God's love for me is strong enough to refuse me to wander too far from His protection.
Yesterday, Jovani took a break between chores to give Adela a roping lesson. Though the skill is a hard one for Adela to learn, her father had patience with her, instructed her carefully, and encouraged her. Back and forth they went. Jovani showed her, did it with her, and then let her take a shot by herself. Little by little she got just a tiny bit better, but she has a long way to go.
I smiled. I'm just like her. God keeps showing me His power, His protection. He keeps walking along side me. He gives me a little room to see if I will keep to His training. And then He has to come back and show me all over. I shouldn't feel upset at the cycle. It is a beautiful example of love.
My frustration eased. It's going to be okay. God has brought me back close to Him and is intimately showing how His kingdom works. It might mean that for now I have less control over my world, but how beautiful that He cares so much that He brought me close to Him once again.
I give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.
My eyes longingly gazed at a bag full of early Valentine candies. Nobody would know if I ate half-a-dozen as long as there was still some left. In fact, if I didn't exercise, no one would notice either. None of that really affected my loved ones as long as I kept functioning at normal levels.
Accountability is more important than we could ever imagine. None of us are perfectly motivated. Situations will come at and against us to make even the best intentions fall through. Without an outside force it becomes extremely difficult to implement change.
I'm a woman of will-power, but a bag of chocolates has a louder voice than the silence of a quiet house. As I set up plans for changing my physical health, I saw the road before me long and lonely.
A couple weeks into the hard work of eating right and becoming more active, a friend sent me a message asking if I might like an accountability partner. She is a mother of young children who wanted to make a change in her life, too. Like me, she can't make it to a gym or join a club. She was trying to wing-it as she re-wired her life with some healthier habits.
Hesitant at first, I accepted the offer. It took a few weeks to sort out how we would encourage and support each other's goals, but now, I look forward to opening up Facebook and chatting with her about my day. Somebody knows. Somebody cares. Somebody is keeping me close.
The past couple weeks on this journey have been amazing with a friend coming along side me. We share our successes and our downfalls. We encourage each other and sometimes even do a bit of admonishing to help each other stay on track. I'm a very self-disciplined person, but even I don't have enough personal motivation to make these total life-changes.
It takes courage to let someone in like this. To let them see your cracks. But there is deep power in a relationship that exists to bring about change. A hard-working mommy like me is so blessed to have this kind of friendship. It is a daily reminder of God's love and support that He provided for me.
We all need someone who cares. Someone who knows what we are doing and striving for. We need someone keeping us close.
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"...and God was already there with me."