Face Down

I’d like to say I am still standing, but it wouldn’t be true. I will be tomorrow, but tonight I am on the floor. A leader, a friend, our pastor received word that the tumor removed from his brain, that two weeks ago no one even knew was there, hasn’t had the last word yet.

The fight is just beginning, and the warriors are spreading the news that its time to get in position. But the position many are finding tonight is prostrate. Maybe this isn’t the worst position to begin in. To be prostrate is to cast (oneself) face down on the ground in humility, submission, or adoration. I feel humbled as I lay here knowing there is nothing I can do to make this better for our friend, his wife, his daughter, or his other daughter. I feel submitted to God, who will determine what is next. I adore the one whose feet I lay at, for he is the one to restore peace, confidence, healing, and that which we don’t even know to ask.

Tomorrow I will stand back up. We must stand back up. We are waging a battle and the truth is, victory is already ours. Tonight, rest if you are down, because tomorrow we are going to get up ~ and we will stand strong. Our leader is living for God’s glory – and we will join him in that.

Then David said to the whole assembly, “Praise the Lord your God.” So they all praised the Lord, the God of their fathers; they bowed down, prostrating themselves before the Lord and the king. 1 Chronicles 29:20.

A Few Days Later

“Today” (below) could not have been titled Moment. I knew the anxiety and despair I was feeling was running fairly deep. That is why I chose to write about it here, because this is where I share my tale. Like the real world, sometimes you will come to visit and my house is in order and we will talk about the funny and good stuff going on, but sometimes you will come over and my house is cluttered and there are piles on literally every surface. (Where does all this paper & clutter come from?!)

I didn’t expect anything from that post, I just wanted to be real with you. There is some good stuff going on in this journey and there are also some really hard times ~ such is each of our lives. What I received from sharing this hard part was some great encouragement. Some of you posted prayers, encouragement or even your story in comments here, some on Facebook and others via private message or email. I have read them all. Thank you.

The last few days haven’t been easy, the anxiety hasn’t disappeared (although it is more moments than complete days right now). I have been reading the Bible and praying daily. Its been interesting to see that as I pray one day, I will read verses the next day that echo my prayers from the previous day. My daughter said she believes this is God affirming that He is hearing my prayers.

Friends have been praying for us, and have shared verses and devotions with me (which has been great, God’s word is the best word right now). On Monday I was reading and Proverbs 24:16 stood out …for though the righteous fall seven times, they will rise again… I shared this with a friend and she wrote back, that she believes I will rise again, but that until I do, she will lay with me where I have fallen and pray over me. This image has been a powerful one.

My point in sharing this today is that I believe on some level its easier to not let others in when we are buried in clutter, have fallen or feel overwhelmed. We can feel embarrassed or ashamed about what that looks like. We try to protect ourselves from the judgment of others. But what I have found over the last few days is that though the situation hasn’t resolved,  (and I am seeing the therapist tomorrow and I did go to the gym today…doing what I can to be healthy in mind, body and soul) the despair is beginning to dissipate and the anxiety is more moments than days. God has been able to reach me in multiple ways using people because I let you see the mess.

If you are in a tough spot today, consider opening the door and letting someone in. Know that all of us have clutter on the counters sometimes (and the table, and dresser and washing machine). Know that when you allow others to wade through the mess with you, in turn they may allow you to lay down and pray over them when they fall.We learn we can trust each other for each other.

God Places Another Soldier in the Prayer Box

Three flights, that’s what it took to get from my home in Indiana to Bismarck, North Dakota for an American Mothers engagement. As I sat in Minneapolis waiting for my next flight, I noticed a soldier standing near talking to another passenger. Oh, there he is. I thought to myself. I had forgotten about the soldier that I was likely to meet, but when I saw him I was not surprised. (If you don’t know what I am talking about check out the links below.) I was sure when we boarded that he would be seated next or near to me, but he wasn’t, and to be perfectly honest, I forgot about him.

As I waited and waited for my luggage in Bismarck, it became clear that it wasn’t going to arrive on the carousel. I wasn’t the only one, there were two of us without luggage; me and the soldier. Of course.

So I chuckled inside and walked over to him. “We don’t know each other, but I have a thirteen year old daughter who has a heart  to pray for soldiers. Each time I travel, there is a soldier on my plane, it’s my job to get his name so she can add him to her prayer box and pray for him.” I discovered his name is G. Cave and that he is leaving in August for one year in Afghanistan. He has a wife and six children and he said he would greatly appreciate prayers. Mission accomplished.

I wondered out loud if my bag had arrived earlier because of a missed flight I had due to a delay. He said that wouldn’t be his case but walked with me anyway as I went to the counter to ask. Both of our bags were brought to us right away and off we went on our separate ways.
Believe what you want, but I believe his name is supposed to be in the prayer box, and God did what He did to make sure that happened. I am amazed as God continues to put soldiers in my path, and that He has placed this ministry of prayer upon the heart of my child. Be safe G. Cave, you and your family are being prayed for in our home.

A Daughter, a Prayer Box & Soldiers (April 2009) & Soldiers in the Prayer Box (February 2011)

Be Not Afraid of the Red Kettles

Its Red Kettle season, love it or be annoyed by it, but the bells are ringing ~ all the time and everywhere (at least that’s what it seems when you don’t have even $1 in your pocket!)

In December of 2008, our pastor, Stan Buck challenged us to put something in the kettle every time we passed one; to not walk in the other door to avoid it.

He tossed that challenge out again on Sunday. Be generous. Every time. He reminded us that even if we pass 50 kettles this season, if we give $1 per kettle, well…you can do the math…none of us will go hungry if we do this. So, if you can, than do. (Even if it means fewer lattes or one less gift)

This past Sunday he was teaching on God’s Provision. He reminded us that last year we took our first ever Christmas Eve offering. In December, as a church, we took the Advent Conspiracy challenge which was to Spend Less and Give More. We then collected over $35,000 on Christmas Eve…to give away. The entire amount was not for us – it was to bless others. (It was also a special Christmas for our family as we gave less presenTs and gave more presenCe)

Then the earthquake hit in Haiti. And we did it again, on the Sunday after the earthquake we split our offering with our ministry partners in Haiti. In a short two month period we gave away approximately $70,000. Keeping in mind that the economy was at an incredible low point, this was not only an act of generosity – but a deep trust in God’s provision. Would our own church needs be met with all this money flowing out of our doors?

On Sunday, Stan reported that even as we were more generous to others, our offerings remained strong and God provided beyond what was needed this past year! We didn’t know this would happen when we gave those large amounts away in January, we had to trust. I wonder if that felt a little uncomfortable.

My point in telling you this? Although you read this blog from all over the country, (and the world, there are readers here from 10 different countries!) we all hear the same bells this time of year. The message is simple ~ be generous and trust God for your own provision. Go to the bank today, get $1 bills and listen for the bells.

(Read The $1 Difference here)

The Name We Bear

We had an interesting discussion at dinner the other night. We took a few minutes to allow Erin & Zach to tell Kyler what they were feeling about his latest shenanigan at school. (see previous post) It was interesting to hear their hearts, they both talked about our family name. He was told that since he is the last one to come through the school with our name, the impression he left would potentially be the impression people may end up with when our family name is spoken.

There is also concern that if the only exposure others have of our family is his inappropriate words and behavior than the impression of our family has the potential to be an inaccurate one.

OK…so I have a few things on my mind on this topic.

1. Return with honor. This is on our front door. I hope these parting words mean something to each of us. I believe every time we leave this house we are entering a world where losing honor is tempting and easy. I want each of us to care about our family name. I was touched to hear our family name and reputation mean something to our kids. No matter where you come in the line-up, you will leave behind impressions for others to walk into. Be kind. Be nice. Be wise.

2. We all bear names. Our family name, our company name, our church name, even titles. I remember when my friend Barb heard I was nominated as Indiana’s Young Mother of the Year; she said (lovingly of course) the first time someone recognizes me will be at Target with my hand gripped so tightly around Kyler’s wrist that my finger tips are white! So after we laughed, I thought, Well, that wouldn’t represent the title so well now would it? Caring about the name we bear matters.

3. I have written about this name bearing before. It stinks; I still misrepresent the one whose name I bear. If the only exposure you ever have of Jesus is through me, then it it quite possible that I may not leave you with the most accurate impression of who he is. Through the lens of Christianity, sometimes my words and behavior are inappropriate.

4. May I remember the name of the one who bore it all for me and leave an impression that is pleasant for others to walk into.

A Day in This Life

Where is the pot? A question I never thought I’d ask a child of mine. But with this life I lead as the newish mother to this almost 13 year old boy, I find myself in situations and saying things I never thought I would, more frequently than I could have ever imagined.

I remember aching for this child while he was apart from us, and feeling full and whole when he was placed back with us. I was overwhelmed with emotion as we sat in the courtroom and claimed him as ours. I was full of joy as over one hundred people celebrated his official new last name with us.

I knew much of what he had been through (too much). I knew it would be hard at times; I had lived through that the first time he was here, when it had become unbearable. I also knew God had brought him back. Someday I will write that story, it is an amazing story that I need to reflect on in days like today, because sometimes I wonder what did we do? And I am instantly reminded it was not we who did it.

I have written about neutral before. As a mom, this is an uncomfortable gear. I don’t feel like a good mom in that place, to some who live in community with me, I may not even appear to be a good mom. (Yep, I struggle with that, but it may be more perceived than real judgment because I don’t even feel good about myself during these times, so how could I think others feel good about me. Again, if I can be “National Young Mother of the Year”, well….just sayin’)

But by the grace of God, in moments when it seems impossible, powerful feelings of love wash over me. In God’s mercy, grace reigns down and floods my heart when it is parched. In God’s sovereignty, peace captivates my heart when peace makes no sense.

Last week we had prescription pills go missing. Today a teacher overheard him talk about smoking pot with a kid at school. This is on top of other behaviors that have restricted his already restricted environment at school even more in the last few weeks.

I feel like I know the darkest parts of this child, parts that most people do not see (or sometime even believe are there) and even I am utterly perplexed by the things he says and does at times. Today is one of those times. (He is way too supervised to actually be smoking pot, but since those are his words, we will play this out and they will search his locker tomorrow. Maybe he will be impacted by the power of his words.)

Last week was good. The previous week was not good. The weekend was good. Sunday night was awful. Yesterday was really good. Even after all that unfolded Sunday evening, (he was full of rage due to some consequences he doesn’t like) I felt so much love for him yesterday and thanked God again for showing up. And then today this happens.

I understand most of the psychology involved, I am even beginning to understand the brain science behind much of it. I read what the therapists give me. I attend therapy with him (and sometimes solo for me). I get it. But I am saying that living it out in this house, in this heart is tough sometimes.

Life is good. I have an amazing sister who helps me process his behaviors because she works with kids like him 500miles away. We have friends who pray for us constantly, friends who pour into him when we cannot, and friends who display love even with all they know. I love our life. I am blessed beyond what I could have hoped for.

We all have trials, we all have struggles; mine are not special. But as I write this blog, as I walk through this year as National Young Mother of the Year, and as I share some inspiring, funny and encouraging thoughts and moments, I also want to be authentic in some of the stuff that isn’t so shiny and pretty.

God is good. All the time. He is Love. He is Grace. He is sovereign. He knows the way. I trust Him still.

Baptized – Entering the Water to Walk on the Path

Erin came to us this summer and said that she had been thinking of getting baptized. She acknowledged her infant baptism but said she wanted to make her own public confession of faith and in addition, she felt God was calling her to come forward in baptism.

Each year our church has a Baptism Celebration ~ the entire church is invited to gather at our pond, celebrate both dedications and baptisms and enjoy dinner together.

Kevin asked Erin if she wanted us to walk into the water with her. I could tell she was considering how to answer him. Finally she said because she felt she was being called to be baptized, and because it was her decision to be obedient, she felt she was to enter the water solo.

What a great moment. We’ve walked this road of faith as a family in the hopes, and with the intention, that each of our kids will at some point reach out on their own and grab the hand of Jesus.

Here is the thing, our kids are going to let go of our hands. They are going to walk in their own direction. If they have made a decision to follow Jesus, then its easier to let them go. She’s 13, I’m still holding her hand. . .and she has a grip on the one who really holds her all the way through this life. This feels encouraging as a mom. I cannot always be with her, she won’t always want to listen to me, I don’t always know what she’s up against, and I don’t always have the right words, attitude, or timing. He does.

(Picture by Chad Orlikowski)

Our local paper published an article on Baptism and they ended their article with some quotes from Erin. You can read the article, Tradition Reborn, here.