Monday, January 28, 2013

If only you had been here...

As I got ready to head to Arizona to be with my mom I tried to process what I would be walking into. Lacking focus, and with a heavy heart I cracked my Bible open again. I was reading in John chapter 11 - but my eyes could really only focus on a few words in verse 21 "Lord if you had been here..."  Man do I understand that statement. Where were you God? And so, this was my fervent prayer "God, please let me see your hand in all this. Please help me to be your hands and feet. Bring beauty from ashes."

I made the choice to look for God. I asked Him to speak clearly and let my eyes clearly see. I didn't hope for it, I expected it. I this is what I discovered.

When the fire broke out and the smoke alarm and the carbon monoxide detector both failed to sound, and my step dad woke up and saw the fire - God was there.

When my mom was trapped in the smoke and my step dad was able to crawl around, find her and drag her out of the burning house - God was there.

When 3 fire departments showed up at a FIRE without water, and when the first emergency response vehicle showed up without oxygen - God was there.

When someone had the good since to call the life flight helicopter - God was there.

When my mom arrived at University Medical Center - one of the best ICU/Burn centers around - God was there.

As the staff began to treat my mom for severe smoke inhalation, severe burns on more than 25% of her body and hypothermia (from being left in the 7 degree night air, uncovered for more than 45 minutes while the ambulance staff waited for the helicopter to arrive) - God was there.

As the best ICU nurses and most skilled doctors I have ever seen work to heal my mom - God is there.

Every day since, with the fevers, the pneumonia, the surgeries, the set backs and the small steps forward...every day God was there, God is there, God will be there.

God's presence is not dependant on my awareness. God's work is not dependant on my presence. God's power is not dependant on me at all.  I do not know what tomorrow holds, but I do know that God holds tomorrow in His hand.  Even while I don't understand, and even while it still hurts really bad, I will trust you God.

The day life came calling...

It was a typical Tuesday morning.

Kids off to school. Matt's working. I head out the door at 8:10am, coffee in one hand, cell phone and car keys in the other. It's a 45 minute drive to the Pregnancy Center - my mind's already running thru the list of 10 things I'd like to get done in the next 5 hours. Gonna call my friend, we will chit chat, catch up and invest in each other for a few minutes while the miles (45 of them) tick by. I was just about to work when my phone chirped - my brother in Flagstaff - calling at 7:40am his time - hey friend I will have to call ya back.

And that was when life came calling. Those things in life you don't expect. Those things in life you can't get ready for in advance. Those things in life that suck.

There had been a house fire at my mom's place.
She was airlifted to Tucson.
Not sure what hospital.
No information on her condition.

The world fell silent. At least for me.
I can remember the details, but in many ways the next few days are nothing more to me than a blur. I can't think straight. I'm not sure I can breathe. I have only 2 responses ~ either I am completely calm and collected, discussing the facts as I know them to be at that moment, OR  I am so emotional I can barely speak at all. I have no balance. I'm not sure I have much of a filter either. I am not mad, or frightened, angry or scared. I am numb. And then I am overwhelmed. I feel no emotion or I feel all of them. I cannot think logically, but don't want to be emotional or irrational.

When I finally get a moment alone, I turn to my "go to" source of comfort...the most bi-polar book of the Bible...Psalms.

When I said my foot is slipping, your love O Lord supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.  Psalms 94:18-19

This hurts, this stinks and this really isn't fair. I don't understand. I can't breathe. My heart is breaking. I know that your heart is breaking too. I know You wont let me slip. I know that whatever comes next, You are big enough.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


So it started out as a not normal day. Tuesday, Jan 8 2013. Kids are on day 2 of the new school year. Matt is headed to the forest for a morning of late season hunting, and I am up at 5:45am to get ready for my first day of work. Work??? YIKES!!!

I may have mentioned that a few ago I received a surprise phone call from the EO of the local PRC (Pregnancy Resource Center) where I have volunteered for the last few years. Long story short, I am going back to work part time to begin to administrate and continue to facilitate the No Regrets Sexual Integrity program that is offered to Jr and Sr Highs in my local area.

First day and there is a scheduled staff meeting at 7:30am. Takes 45 minutes to get there. Matt's up at 5am. Kids need to be up by 6:15am and I need to be dressed, prepped and rolling down the road by 6:45am. No Problem...right? Things actually went pretty well. I even had a few minutes with God, got all of the lunches packed for the day, kissed the babies goodbye and was backing out of the driveway by 6:50. Tuned in to a local Christian radio station and jumped onto the interstate - 5 minutes is easy to make up when most of the trip is highway and the roads are clear. Music is blaring, I am singing, smiling and praying. Not going too fast, but also not going 65mph ~ but it's only speeding if you get caught right? And most officers will give you...what...5,6,7, 9 miles over without much thought? Here's hoping. I don't say praying, because I don't think God much cares for prayers offered up concerning the disregarding of rules, like "Lord please help me not to get caught as I speed and break the rules."

Bam - out of no where I see him. I lovely little state trooper HIDING in the median between two huge piles of snow. Too late to slow down. Bam - the word that flew from my mouth...Not pretty. Not Nice. Not at all pleasing to my Lord.

This same mouth that kisses my babies and sings words of praise to God almighty, now being used in a less than lovely way. My mouth failed me yet again. Where did that word even come from?
Deflated. Defeated. Embarrassed. Human. We have been working on this God. You and me together. Transforming my heart, my mind and my mouth. I thought we'd been getting some good work done, and now look where I am. I thought I was past this once and for all.

Psalm 103

1 Let all that I am praise the Lordwith my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
2 Let all that I am praise the Lordmay I never forget the good things he does for me.
3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

God is good. I am not perfect. I am not going to be. What's next for this simple girl?
I did the only thing I could. No excuses, no explanation, just straight up honest, heartfelt and in the moment confession to my Savior. HE FORGIVES. HE REDEEMS. HE FILLS.

Now, when Satan tries to use that morning compute experience to discourage me or taunt me I can boldly say "Yep, God knows about, He forgave it, and we are moving ahead together - so shut up Satan and go away."  It's really a fun thing to say. You should try it sometime :-)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Day 2 - Fresh Start

It's a no rush kind of morning. Matt is already off to work, the boys are still in bed, the coffee is hot and the fire is glowing. So I snuggle into my favorite corner of the couch in the den, open the window to see the rising and sun and start day 2 of 2013 with my Savior and my friend. I am still hanging out in Psalms and I have come across the 90th chapter as I sit, sip my coffee and spend some time with God in the "while it was still dark" hour of the morning.

 It was pretty cool, and some of what was written by Moses long ago seemed very timely in my postmodern world. It's January 2nd, the birth of a new year. Endless possibilities for what is to come in 2013; still lots of time to set new goals, reflect and bring in to sharper focus my hopes and God's vision for the new year. My study Bible is a KJV/NIV split, and so I went to a favored Bible website and looked up a few other translations and versions. Then I thought I'd give some of the critiques and commentaries a glance - these tools can provide helpful background information and often provide greater insight and understanding. 

And then I smiled at God. Most of the experts agree that this is a great passage to use ... at a funeral. Huh - not exactly what I was thinking. But then again, isn't that just how God works some times. Speaking to my heart, just what it needs to hear in the moment I need to hear it and in a way I can understand. So here goes - hang with me now. It's good stuff. After reading it about a dozen times, I can see the funeral tie in, but the following is what stood out to me the most:

Psalm 90

Lord, you have been our help, generation after generation. Before the mountains were born, before you birthed the earth and the inhabited world—from forever in the past to forever in the future, you are God.
  • What a great reminder - God has been God from forever until forever. It started with Him, it ends with Him, and He has faithfully been there for His people!
 You return people to dust, saying, “Go back, humans,” because in your perspective a thousand years are like yesterday past, like a short period during the night watch. You sweep humans away like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning. True, in the morning it thrives, renewed, but come evening it withers, all dried up. Yes, we are wasting away because of your wrath; we are paralyzed with fear on account of your rage. You put our sins right in front of you, set our hidden faults in the light from your face. Yes, all our days slip away because of your fury; we finish up our years with a whimper. We live at best to be seventy years old, maybe eighty, if we’re strong. But their duration brings hard work and trouble because they go by so quickly. And then we fly off. Who can comprehend the power of your anger? The honor that is due you corresponds to your wrath.
  • Ok - so God understands time from an eternal perspective and I have a very limited understanding. God controls time, and my number of days here on earth. From an eternal perspective my life is just a quick moment in the vastness of eternity. Everything I do is seen and will be judged by God, I can't hide anything (good or bad) from Him. I can't comprehend the extent of the judgement I deserve or the the vastness of His Lordship.
Teach us to number our days so we can have a wise heart.
  • This is it. Probably my favorite part of this Psalm. Help me to understand how limited my time is God, and give me the wisdom to spend my days doing what is honoring to you. With your discernment God, I want to know what is good and what is best. I want to live each day looking for what you have in store and not what is on my list. Don't let me miss the "regular moments" that hold deep within a sliver of eternal significance.
Come back to us, Lord! Please, quick! Have some compassion for your servants! Fill us full every morning with your faithful love so we can rejoice and celebrate our whole life long. Make us happy for the same amount of time that you afflicted us— for the same number of years that we saw only trouble. Let your acts be seen by your servants; let your glory be seen by their children. Let the kindness of the Lord our God be over us. Make the work of our hands last. Make the work of our hands last!
  • Fill me every morning - yep I get it God. Starting my day with you gets my heart ready for what come next. Starting together helps me keep in step with you the rest of the day. It may not change the day, but it changes me and how we will do the day together.
  • Make the work of my hands last - let what I do be the stuff that matters to you. My life is bigger, than laundry, loading the dishwasher, and lugging the kids around town. I can honor you in all things. Acts of love. Acts of kindness and mercy. Your physical hands and feet. Help me to shift out the fluff and invest better in the stuff that matters.
Teach me to number my days so that I can have a wise heart. AMEN