It is a frightening ugly thing to watch your small child have a seizure. Her little body jerks uncontrollably reminding me of a mechanical toy that is running out of batteries. The last couple episodes confirmed undeniably that the seizures come when she sleeps and my own rest has become disturbed.
Sanity can only be mine when I trust God. I spent 2017 battling fears and worries, but through it have more faith and strength than ever before. Micaela’s epilepsy has become my very own version of spiritual super glue, keeping my heart and mind fixed on the Savior.
A friend asked me if I have ever been angry about Micaela’s difficult journey. The honest answer is, “YES.” It isn’t fair that her sweet soul must fight for everything that comes easy to a “normal” child. She has spent the past year working, with endurance, on walking, talking, eating, and a hundred other developmental feats. To throw seizures into the mix feels like a punch below the belt.
But, at the end of the day, epilepsy is simply part of our family’s story and I can either be angry and resentful, or I can go to God, my Father, and find the peace and joy that will carry me through each and every day.
For many years, the story of the storm that Jesus calmed, has been one that I’ve turned to often in the Bible. You can find it in Matthew 8:23-7 and Mark 4:35-41. I can imagine the terrified sailors and panicked disciples. How long did they tug sails, tie ropes, and toss freight overboard before they ran to God? How very human of them, attempting to create their own safety. But true peace can only be found in God. With a single word He can calm the wind and waves.
We all face terrifying storms in our life that threaten to tear apart our world. God waits for us to come to Him. Any situation could become the spiritual super glue that will fix us to our Lord and build us into ever more beautiful souls.
What catalyst in your own world has become spiritual super glue, fixing you close to God?
Adela’s brown eyes were full of exultation and horror. She held out the tiny little tooth to me, her tongue moving over the excavation site slightly filled with blood and said, “It’s gone, Mommy.”
Poor baby. I had a hard time masking my own pain. My little baby was gone and had left to be replaced with this growing daughter. She held in her hand the very first tooth God had ever given her. It was gone, no longer a part of her little body.
I spent many hours talking to her over the next few days about the process of losing teeth. I told her she had new ones, adult ones, pushing their way upward. I told her they would be strong, wonderful teeth that she would use (Lord willing) the rest of her life. It was okay that little pieces of herself would fall away, for they would be replaced by something even better.
What an entirely human experience. It is a lifelong adventure. Little pieces of ourselves are being hacked away or changed so that new, better, more useful parts can be given a place in our life. We often cling to familiarity. We fear the pain that change forces on us, but it must happen. Life is in constant motion.
My mind remembers the passage from 1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV, when Paul said, "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." We are called to put things behind us that aren’t necessarily bad, but are no longer fitting for our stage or season.
I admired Adela for the easy way she placed that tooth under her pillow, knowing that in the morning it would be gone. Gone for good. I pray that I know how to do that each time God shows me the things that must be left behind.
What parts of yourself have you let go of as you moved through different seasons of your life?
I loved doing a Facebook live video about setting goals. Enjoy. :) Note: The first 20 minutes are solid but then we had some audio/visual issues. We figured out what happened and thankfully will have a fantastic video this week. If you want to join us, it is at 7:40 pm Thursday, January 11, MST.
Buying presents for the holidays can be a huge source of stress for me. Though I have come a long way in my healing from Approval Addiction, I tend to over-think everything when it comes time to give someone something. It doesn’t help that gift-giving isn’t my love language and that makes me have a large lack of intuition when it comes to trying to bless others with a tangible blessing.
When going through the story of Jesus birth in Matthew 2:1-12 I lingered on the account of the wise men who came from the East to give the blessed baby gifts. The men traveled a long distance, coming from a far land, to bow down before the Christ and give him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
If you know me, you won’t be surprised to learn that rules and guidelines make me feel secure. When I read the story of the wise men my heart found a little peace. I had a Biblical example of how to give presents.
If you want to make gifts special for the season, perhaps one of these tips will help you as well.
As you go out to do shopping and open your computers to browse, I hope some of these thoughts give you peace. I love how Christmas gives us the opportunity to bless so many around us.
Note that wrapping the present and making it look pretty wasn’t listed? However, I like lovely things and I will still be curling ribbons while I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
What do you think about when shopping for those you hold close in your heart?
I bit my lip and carefully rolled the frozen bit of fudge into the hot coating. I dumped it on the wax paper. Adela dutifully dusted the top with sprinkles. We grinned at each other. One down and about 200 more to go.
There are about 20 people on my list this year to receive a little box of bon bons. They are for our neighbors and mailman and friends. Obviously, I am not helping anyone get through the holidays in a healthy manner, but I don’t do this only to give someone precious to me a smile. I do it because for a few hours I relive memories of my mother.
I can’t remember the first year she made them, but I remember the soft chocolate gleam against wax paper. I remember sneaking little bits of fudge until my stomach felt raw. I remember mom’s concentration and how enthusiastic she was to visit those neighbors and drop off those little packages.
Goodness, I miss her. I am not the only one for whom the holidays beckon back a thousand memories that make our heart sting. No matter how many Thanksgivings, Christmases, birthdays we make it through, it always feels strange and a little empty without our lost loved ones.
I turned and dumped another bit of fudge onto Micaela’s tray. She chuckled and smashed it between her chubby fingers. The sound of her laughter soothed that pain. One after another the bon bons were dipped and decorated. Adela snitched sprinkles. I shook my head and pretended not to see.
God, how thankful I am for movement. Movement helps me remember to breath. Movement helps life keep going forward despite the pain. Movement brings new memories and moments of love.
If I couldn’t move and do something, I might be lost in the pain instead of going forward into the love and memories.
It took a few days but the bon bons were made and packaged. They are meant to bless others, but they have already blessed me and mine more.
Do you find the holidays hard? If so, are there traditions you hold on to that help you move beyond the pain and relive good memories?
I remember holding Adela when she was first born. That overwhelming love I had for her awed me. I kept thinking that I couldn’t believe that she had been inside me, that she had grown, developed, and been “knit together” the past nine months.
Have you ever read through the story of Jesus’ birth and saw it through the perspective of a mother? Mary was an imperfect human, too. But God chose her to give birth to His son. After Jesus was born I am sure Mary looked down at His perfect body and sweet face and held all that love for Him as a mother does. Yet, there would have been another note of awe, for she knew she held the King of Kings.
Sometimes, when my mind ponders that momentous event of the birth of my savior, it occurs to me that my own children were born with God’s special plans in mind. Unlike Mary, I have no idea what my daughters will do someday. I might be holding in my arms a future doctor, president, child therapist, or dog trainer. But, whoever they will become, they are part of God’s plan and the assignment of mothering them is a precious, awe-inspiring thought.
I would love to know more about how Mary parented her eldest son. What I do know is this: She carried him and gave birth to him. She nursed him. She with Joseph kept Jesus safe. She became worried and went to find Him when He stayed behind at the temples. She scolded Him when she felt she had reason. She tried to keep Him close. She was faithfully near him during the crucifixion. She also gave birth to and raised other children, Jesus’ siblings. (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John).
Though Jesus came to her as the Prince of Peace, her life was busy and full without fail.
Motherhood. I have no idea what my kids will become. But, I do know that in this moment they need me and that I am here for them. I will never stop being their mother. I will never stop loving them and looking at them in awe, the little souls that are my daughters.
What is it that awes you most about the birth of our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ?
There is a precious and good work being done as we raise children and be help-mates to our spouses. And, if there is something that the Devil attacks on a regular basis, it is our hearts and homes. It feels like there is little we can do to protect our family from the evil of the world, sometimes, even the evil in our own heads.
Our Christian world is under attack and the intensity of the war increases each day.
This is my challenge to you: Each morning, for a week, I want you to concentrate on prayerfully clothing yourself in the armor of God.
Belt of Truth: God’s truths will negate the lies that attack your heart and head.
Breastplate of Righteousness: Carry out your day with the power of righteous living. When temptations knock, we are protected as God strengthens us to do what is right.
Sandals of Peace: Purposefully choose peace as you interact with family, friends, and strangers. We can choose not to pick fights or finish them. We can choose to cultivate goodwill with and between others.
Shield of Faith: Faith in God’s love, goodness, and power will “extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.” So when the devil tries to make you feel unloved, unappreciated, overworked, or misplaced we can thwart those attacks by our belief in the care and promises of our awesome God.
Helmet of Salvation: Rejoice as you place this helmet on your head. You are God’s chosen one, His child. Your helmet not only protects, it also marks you as one of His own. And the Enemy must respect to Whom you belong.
Sword of the Spirit: Let the power of God’s word, both in the Bible, and spoken through the Holy Spirit, be what you use to fight back in today’s battle. This means you need to invest time in both studying the Bible and praying with God.
Living in this world is never going to be easy, but it can be full of victory claimed daily as we put on the Armor of God. Let it strengthen and guide You as you fight for the good works done in your home and heart today.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Have you experienced a way in which the armor of God powerfully protected your family or marriage?
I was putting on makeup when I looked over and saw Micaela doing a downward facing dog in the hallway and giggling at herself. I chuckled and turned back to the mirror. When I did, the smile on my face revealed the fine wrinkles around my eyes, mouth, and forehead.
I swallowed. I’m getting older and it is visible. For a moment I didn’t like it. I started to fret over the years I have wasted not investing in anti-wrinkle cream and the days I did chores without sunscreen. Disturbed, I continued to put on makeup, but all I saw in the mirror were the beginning lines around my face.
It occurred to me, though, that, Lord willing, I might have several decades still in this body of mine. The wrinkles are going to deepen and lengthen. Other signs of aging will claim their positions. I am not going to stay young. And, God designed us this way. God gives good and perfect things. I truly need to find a better way of looking at these signs of aging. I will not allow the natural course of getting older to steal my peace or alter my confidence.
Perhaps I need to simply accept them as the blessings they are. When I thought about it, I realized that wrinkles are blessings in two big ways.
Wrinkles show that I have lived. I love it that God gave us blatant signs of having made it through a good chunk of living. The lines on my face tell others that I have experience and most-likely the wisdom to go with it. I’ve weathered storms, stood in the sun, and faced the music. It isn’t until we have lived through some of life that we have a lot of personal experience to help others through their own trials. The lines on our face tell others that we have something to share.
Wrinkles show that I have engaged emotionally with life. From frowns to smiles to scowls to chuckles, facial expression go along with keeping those wall down around my heart so that I can love and let others in. If we were to go around not reacting to things in any emotional way, we wouldn’t get many wrinkles. But the movement of laughing and crying countless times will definitely leave their mark. There is nothing more beautiful than a living soul who has let their heart be deeply and often touched by others.
In the end, when considering our wrinkles, we could always ask ourselves a tried and true question, “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus do about His wrinkles? Would he buy expensive creams or try and hide his face? No. Jesus was the Son of God who did His fair share of living here on Earth. He wept, smiled, and was angry from time to time. Looking into a mirror, if He had spotted growing wrinkles around his eyes, mouth, and forehead, I bet He would have shrugged and thanked His Heavenly Father for each blessed moment under the sun.
Even to your old age and gray hairs
What about you? As you age, have you found a peaceful frame of mind to accept changes as God’s blessings?
The bus pulled up and my heart flipped. I laughed at myself. Adela has been in school for months now, but her arrival still feels exciting and joyful each day. Her pigtails danced in the brisk fall wind as she ran to the front door.
She bolted into my arms with one great big hug, her mouth already spewing out her chatter about the day. I tightened my hug and thanked God for her happiness.
The next hour was filled with activity. The girls fought because Micaela wanted to play and Adela wanted to eat her snack. Adela groaned and complained as we started homework. There were tears when I made Adela erase some of her work and a tantrum from Micaela when I had to take away a toy too loud for her sister to concentrate.
By the time I started dinner I was already exhausted, but my heart was full. There is nothing easy about this mothering-job, but it is seriously the best thing ever. Every day I get to devote my life to my family. I don’t have to struggle with many other demands of the world. I get to 24/7 bring my mind, body, and emotions to work for the people that hold the most real-estate in my heart.
I am thankful for this attitude. I haven’t always felt this way. There have definitely been seasons when I would have loved to take the girls to a daycare and be able to wear a different hat. There are days when I have deeply envied mothers who got to work part-time or even full-time and get out of the house regularly. However, God never lets me settle into pity parties. He constantly reminds me of my blessings, that I get to be this person for my girls and my husband. Most of all, God reminds me that I get to be this person, do this job, for my own heart.
I am so blessed to be proud and thankful for how I spend each and every day.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Do you look back on your day, fulfilling God’s calling for you, and feel His blessings?
I gripped the steering wheel. My stomach felt full of angry worms and my foot itched to slam on the brakes.
What was I doing? I should never have accepted her help. It is too big of a burden for her. Something will go wrong, and it will be my fault.
Every mile forward meant I was farther from control of my girls. My mind filled with the possibilities of Micaela having a seizure or falling off a tall object. My heart worried that Adela hadn’t got much love and attention from me that week while she was at school.
But what could I do? Turn around? What would my poor mother-in-law say if I showed up and guiltily try to convince her I had made a mistake? She had been so pleased to have her granddaughters for the weekend. She loves them so much.
My eyebrows pushed together. She loves them so much. I thought of the ice cream she had stashed in the freezer, all the tall kitchen chairs she had locked in the back bedroom, so Micaela wouldn’t climb, and the toys she had carefully arranged and stored that sat waiting for the girls.
Like a little piece of hurt was chipped away, a single thought melted my heart.
They are her girls, too.
It has been hard since the last seizure Micaela had. I have tightened my vigilant efforts to keep Micaela safe. Plus, with school in session for both the girls, I worry about providing them with all the support they need at home. However, when my loving Mother-in-law offered to take the girls for the weekend my tired mind immediately said, “Yes.”
They are her girls, too.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our responsibilities as a parent that we start to build walls around our children, protecting and controlling until we can no longer let anyone else in. I hadn’t realized I had been building that wall until that moment on the lonely ranch road leaving the girls behind.
My eyes filled with tears. I thanked God for the woman who with deep love and intuition would be caring for my children. I thanked God for her strength and caring. I asked God to bless the weekend for them and for me. I asked Him to move my heart to accept the blessings He brings into my life, especially when they seem to threaten my control.
They are her girls, too. How wonderful that I get to share this journey with her, with all my family, with my church, my community, my friends.
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
It is hard to let others share in our responsibilities, but such a huge blessing as well. Out of fear, have you ever found yourself refusing to let others help you?
I remember Adela’s first week of school. It was like dejavu. She came home after a full day of school and opened up a folder full of homework. I remembered those days. It was school that made me develop the habit of waiting.
Perhaps you were like me too. School was like a long-term job that would get you somewhere else. I lived for the day I would have more control over my life. I waited for things and life to change.
A habit of waiting is a dangerous, toxic, thing. You see, there is always going to be something about the season of life we are in that makes us feel like we living in wait for tomorrow. We wait for a time where we have more job security, my financial stability, more free time, children who are more mature or independent, more friends…the list goes on and on and on.
I stared at Adela’s homework folder and struggled. It took me a long time to realize how important it was to break the habit of waiting and start drawing on the joy and blessing of the moment. How can I help Adela realized this a couple decades sooner than I did?
Adela finished her snack and asked me if she could go play. I shook my head.
“First, we are going to do your homework.”
That first week was hard. However, by the second week Adela had accepted the rhythm of the school day. She didn’t always want to do the school work, but we both enjoyed sharing what she was doing at school. And, as we settled into the third week I realized that Adela was doing something that I had always found difficult to do: she was finding joy in the moment.
If we can learn to do this, we can get through life with a beautiful attitude and cultivate a deep relationship with God. Finding joy in every moment fuels our faith in the deep and endless love of our Heavenly Father.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in a habit of waiting?
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