Category Archives: Help! This was not in the book!

When God’s Compassions Are Extended Through Relationship

How do those “compassions” manifest themselves to us? In my last post, I wrote about God providing an endless supply of compassions.

“We were not completely wiped out.
        His compassion is never limited.
23 It is new every morning.
    His faithfulness is great.”
(Lam.3:22-23, God’s Word Version)
 

God’s compassions extend to us in many forms

In May, Scott, Seth and I traveled to Mayo Clinic.  This four day trip revealed not only medical answers but a reminder that God’s mercies are “new” every morning.  I always read that verse as meaning that there is an unending supply of God’s mercies.  While that is true, another truth emerges to me: God’s compassions are revealed in a multitude of forms.  New forms.  Forms that I didn’t expect. 

In this case-mercy was granted to our family through the body of Christ.  Prayers, meals, groceries, listening ears, financial support, and care for Lena and Eli during our week in Minnesota.The burden to seek out Mayo Clinic was simply a thought in October. 

When answers seemed to elude us, taking him to Mayo surfaced in my mind. However, lurking in my mind were the practical questions: How would we afford it? Our medical debt was piling up by the week.  Who would watch our other two kids?  For a whole week?   What about…….?  Yet, as it turned out, the finances came together and a group of amazing friends-some who didn’t know each other- merged into a second family for Lena and Eli. I still marvel at how God’s compassions came to us in that week. 

In April, Scott’s beloved grandmother passed away from a brief battle with cancer.  She was 97 years old. Yet, we were stunned.  I know that sounds surprising but……Granny lived independently, she drove, birthday and holiday meals were still made with love by her. And…..she still drove weekly to deliver Meals on Wheels to the elderly.  In fact, she was nominated by Meals on Wheels as national volunteer of the year in 2012!  Everyone who knew her, experienced a taste of Heaven. Providing meals, celebrating birthdays, sacrificing time, sharing her home with  family and friends of family in need of refuge,  and living in such a way as to provide financially for her family after her death- God’s compassions extended through her. 

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As I found out at her funeral,  her desire to show God’s mercy to others came from the examples of her own parents.  One story, in particular, struck me.  As a child, growing up in Delaware, she lived next door to a small boy born with Downs Syndrome.  As we all know, people have difficulty accepting those that are different.  Combine that truth with a lesser knowledge of how to care for children born with anamolies and the result usually involved sending the child “away” from society. 

However, Granny’s parents consciously communicated to her that all of us were created by God and share in His likeness.  Therefore, it was expected that she would treat this boy with the same respect as any other human being.  The same was expected in regards to race.  For individuals considered outcasts in society, Granny’s kindness toward them was countercultural.   God’s compassions were extended to others through her life.

In a poignant letter written by her son-in-law, he summed it up well: “she always greeted us with hugs and kisses, done with an enthusiasm which left no doubt we were home….and loved….  She made love real.” Her ability to extend God’s compassions to others overflowed out of the supply of compassions God had extended to her.

How do you make love real to others? How do the compassions of God physically work their way out of your supply and into the lives of those who you encounter?
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Embracing God’s Compassions for Life’s Wild Rides

I’ve heard many metaphors for life: seasons, ride, roller coaster. Each of those words gives a word picture to help us express and define how we experience day to day living.  Sometimes, only one metaphor aptly fits your given scenario.  As I reflect on the last nine or so months, riding a roller coaster best describes the sensation of breathtaking speed and long climbs of the events of daily life.  In a previous blog, I wrote about the image of riding a roller coaster and how it applied to  my life at the time.  I have always felt more comfortable in the front seat because that way I can see what’s ahead.

Not feeling in control is an area of challenge for me.  But sometimes, you  don’t get the front seat.  That fact was never more clear to me than this past year.
In October, my oldest son, Seth began having health concerns.  His symptoms did not seem worrisome at first.  As a mom, you always balance that “I don’t want to be paranoid” mentality with the “what if I’m ignoring something life-threatening” train of thought.  So we waited. 

Sometimes he seemed better.  Sometimes he didn’t.  Several visits to doctors resulted in more confusion as to the root cause of his symptoms.   We heard the names of illnesses we can’t pronounce as well as being told that it’s all “in his head.”  Remedy after remedy tried….and failed.  More doctors, more time and energy spent troubleshooting; no answers.  As fall ended, and more school was missed, frustration grew. It invaded family life.  Siblings were feeling left out.  My ability to home school became confined by doctor’s appointments and my diverted attention. Seth was growing sicker and I couldn’t help him. The ride was going fast, and I wanted off.


Finally, after mass amounts of blood work, and tests, there was a possible diagnosis: Reflux  At least there was a name.  And a bit of calm. But then in December, on an ordinary December evening, following dinner, my husband called me into the living room as we watched in horror as Seth began seizing.  Not knowing what was happening,  my reality of not having complete control hit me hard.  What if he is dying?


Fortunately, he came out of the seizure after what seemed to be the longest 4 minutes of my life.  After being admitted to the hospital, all  tests came back normal.  What??  Apparently, it isn’t unheard of to have a seizure with no answers.
But one month later, he had another seizure. And two weeks later, one more.

Now, I felt like I was clearly in the back car.

I couldn’t see where this ride was going. And neither could my family-my fellow passengers.  As it would turn out, Seth would have two more seizures.  We now added a Neurologist to his list of doctors.  And more questions…with no answers.

With Seth getting sicker, his ability to attend school was nearly impossible.  I was attempting to home school Lena, communicate with Seth’s school, return homework, carve out time for my husband and other child.  My body longed for rest. fatigue prevailed. Congnitive functioning became difficult. Maintaining control over the situation gradually morphed into grasping for answers….and help. The mom in me wanted to fix it. But I couldn’t. I found myself in the most uncomfortable place for me on a roller coaster: in the back seat.

The backseat on the coaster does not allow the rider to see clearly what hill is coming up next. The ride may inch by for a while if the climb is lengthy. Or the climb is barely noticeable because the hill was so small. Therefore, preventing worked up fear for the drop on the other side.
In either case, being in the back seat position means I lose a sense of control.  There may be unexpected climbs or stomach churning drops ahead. I can’t see them.  But God, who is sovereign can. God, my Creator, who knows my fears, sees what’s ahead. And that is to whom I must look to rather than my own devices of resolution.


In the midst of the ride I was taking, new turns were around the corner: a family friend and my kids’ piano teacher died suddenly: young and full of life-leaving us all stunned. My husband’s beloved grandmother, an independent,  97 year old woman and light of the family and her community developed cancer and passed away within a month. One month later, Scott’s beloved aunt left this earth. And did I mention that somewhere in the midst of these twists, his company was bought out?  What would that mean for us? And him?
I clung to  Lamentations 3:22-24:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”
 
 
Every. Single. Day. God’s compassions (or mercies) are new.
 
Those compassions breathe life into me when my physical being crumbles in exhaustion; when my mind feels that one more day of trying to stay emotionally stable seems impossible.
 
What scriptural truths get you through your wild rides?

 

a sovereign creation

7816330042_e3fd4937e0_zLately I have been reflecting on what it means that God “knits us together in our mother’s womb.” as is written in Psalm 139. When reading these words previously, I thought about the sanctity of life. That we are all created by the hand of God and reflect His image. That even in the midst of unexpected pregnancy, God’s sovereign and redemptive hand is at work.
While that understanding arises out of this verse, I’ve found another question to ponder. How does Psalm 139 speak to the features of human creation that we on earth view as flawed? My daughter is incredibly creative, sees the potential in the mundane, and has a witty sense of humor. She also struggles with manic modes, feeling “outside of the box”, and struggles with cognitive and emotional processing. Everyday moments become exhausting struggles.
What if she did not fight this disorder? What if it had never been in her DNA? What would she look like? How would she view life?
I am challenged by her “quirks.” As much as it can bother me at times, her distractibility teaches me to “stop and smell the roses.” I’m usually so focused on my agenda, that I miss the small things that enhance our lives: flowers, nature, sunshine. Maybe because she often feels out of control, she notices things that bring simple enjoyment.
She also can become very focused to the point of obsession in finishing a project. These are her most creative moments. Research shows that many people with Bipolar are incredibly creative and accomplished.
We joke about the many items that I have thrown out but are rescued by her and put to use: a gift bag; sprayed gold, stamped and ribbon attached is made from a bandaid box, a yogurt container becomes a planter, a sock becomes a cell phone holder.
While I do not believe that in God’s goodness, her life would be willed to struggle, could the affected parts of her brain actually enhance her being? Do these areas actually work to achieve God’s purposes for her and her ability draw people to her Creator?
What are the implications of accepting God knitting us together;quirks and all?
Doesn’t a knit item have a unique characteristic even if there’s a bum stitch or hole?
And doesn’t the fact that the item is still valued tell us something?
 
 
Photo taken from Flickr: Lisa Risager