Why God? …. When God? …. Fireflies ….

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<catching fireflies & playing T-Ball>

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 … 8:00 AM … Our car merged onto Interstate 85 from Piedmont Road … Atlanta.  The big day had finally arrived … Plan A and Plan B of our lives … intersecting each other, perhaps, more accurately, crashing into one another.

Plan A:  Wednesday, February 3, 2010 … National Signing Day … Clemson’s Recruiting Class of 2010 … such a proud moment <pride … beware!>.  Our son … Linebacker … 6’2″ 240 lbs … Anderson, SC … a time of celebration.  I had envisioned the day in detail … perhaps the signing taking place at TL Hanna High School, surrounded by family, friends, and coaches.  That was our Plan A.

Plan B:  Wednesday, February 3, 2010 … 8:00 AM … Moments earlier Craig and I hoisted Jake into the car from our apartment at Shepherd Rehab Center, placing his wheel chair into the trunk.  We drove 25 minutes toward Shepherd Pathways for outpatient recovery.  For the next 3 months we would make the daily commute.  Jake had completed acute inpatient rehab and now had advanced to outpatient recovery.  Plan B … a day of celebration.

The song Fireflies played on the radio, B98.5 …  it played every morning around 8:03 AM.  I know this because as I sat in the back seat … day after day in early 2010 … like clockwork, Fireflies would play. Almost in a catatonic state, I stared at the backs of Craig’s head and Jake’s helmet.  What happened to our Plan A world we once knew?

On this particular morning, I held tightly onto the signed paperwork … Jake’s NCAA acceptance letter for his football scholarship.  Our dream had come true … in a nightmarish/Plan B sort of way.

Craig quickly pulled into Office Depot … Jake’s rehab started promptly at 9:00 AM.  I ran inside faxing his Letter of Intent to Clemson.  Our Plan A in life was verified by one piece of paper, confirming the Fax had been sent.

At that moment I realized our dreams and plans were slipping away.  I didn’t understand … I thought God was on board with our plans.  Life had been unfolding the way we had planned.  What happened?  Why God?

What was your Plan A  fill in the blank  moment in life?  The event where you understood that control was nothing more than an illusion.  When, as a believer, you choke on the words struggling to say,  ‘…not my will but Your will be done.’

Returning to the car, the song Fireflies still played! I commented on the length of the song. Craig and Jake laughed as they had changed the station.  So, Fireflies played on.  From my backseat in the car, I became transfixed by the helmet Jake wore.  It was no longer the Plan A helmet …

It was the Plan B helmet ... the one Jake wore in order to protect his brain while his skull was safely stored in his abdomen.

February 3, 2010 … Note to self and to God … ‘I’ve got this.  I’m strong, armed … ready for the battle and for this journey … God, it’s You and me together!  FYI God, I’m planning 18 months maybe 2 years for the duration of this trial … that should be long enough;)

‘For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’  Jeremiah 29:11

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 8:01 AM … cruising down a California freeway … more like bumper to bumper traffic.  My son and I are headed to Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto … The Breeze 98.5 radio station is playing oldies, with one song quite familiar to me … Fireflies

Why God?  When God?  Fireflies is still playing … almost 7 years later … and Fireflies is still playing.  Do I need to remind You that I scheduled the completion of this trial 18 months to 2 years?  Do You remember?

“For still the vision awaits its appointed time;  it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it;  it will surely come; it will not delay.”  Habakkuk 2:3

Today … this is what I know.   As a Believer, His Truth speaks clearly and directly to my life … and to your life.  It’s absolute and irrefutable … God is Sovereign.  His plan is perfect.  He is in control.  There are no exceptions.  We must rest in that Truth.

The battle and attacks from Satan are real … doubt, fear, anxiety, and worry.  They must be extinguished by placing our Hope into a powerful, in control God who defeated death.

Therein lies my hope and my joy … even when life is not pretty in a circumstantial/Plan A sort of way.

Yes … Fireflies plays on.   It’s a fun and funky song:     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psuRGfAaju4

<Pressing Toward Joy thought:   God is sovereign.  His Plan is perfect.  He is control.>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Happily Ever After … A Myth … Or Is It?

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<Me and Craig … no selfie sticks back in the day>

<Please read to the end … a very heartfelt prayer request … I want to insert “desperate” but I know who is in control.>

The majority of you know our story … 18 year old suffers debilitating stroke … months and years of recovery … and ‘they’ lived happily after …

A good Lifetime movie would be unable to wrap it up any better … right?  After all, everyone loves a good ending.

The problem:  there is ALWAYS more to the story … the rest of the story … the unpublished part …

Our story is not a movie.  Neither is yours.  There was a beginning to this journey but the ending has been elusive … in other words, not on ‘our’ schedule.

How many days, months, years have been ticking on the burden you carry?

‘For still the vision awaits its appointed time;  it hastens to the end—it will not lie.  If it seems slow, wait for it;  it will surely come; it will not delay.’  Habakkuk 2:3

Yet … while waiting for the happily ever after part, I longingly gaze at the rest of the world, as they seemingly transition thru the expected timetable of life.

Some may say,  ‘stop looking around and start looking up.’  I do look up.  Perhaps my vision needs corrective lenses.

Although we are told to look up … remember … God is actually all around us!  Therefore, the corrective lenses may be revealing more about the condition of our hearts.  Ouch!

Bottom line … As God’s children, we are supposed to view life through the heart and the eyes of God.

Corrective lenses to fix a heart condition?  Absolutely!  But first we must know what His Word says about envy, fear, self ambition, worry, doubt … And, to know it, one must read it …

A fairytale or good Lifetime movie?  Stories don’t end happily ever after, or do they?

His  Word says,  ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’  Revelation 21:4

I just answered my question … there is the Promise of the happily ever after … the heavenly version …

<Pressing toward Joy thought of the day:  it’s okay to look up and down and all around, when looking through the eyes of God.>

<PRAYER REQUEST>

The purpose of my blog has not been about the personal recovery of my family as I have tried to respect their privacy while pressing to move forward, not focusing on the past.  However, since October, there have been significant health setbacks with Jake.  Is he tough?  Yep!  Is he completely frustrated with life?  Yep!!  Are we at our wit’s end?  Pretty close!

On Monday, June 6, approximately 12:00 noon EST, Jake will be having major back surgery at Stanford Hospital.  Please pray that when the issue is repaired, his 24/7 debilitating pain will be alleviated.   And that he can then return, after recovery, to his job that he liked, and the ‘new’ life he was trying to create. Continuous setbacks are challenging and affect everyone in our family.

Jake is immensely private about this area in his life.  Yet, for those who will sincerely pray for him, I had to reach out … as I believe in the power of prayer.

Thank you.

 

 

 

One Breath Away … My Wake Up Call In Life …

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<Craig … he’s always run toward the fire, not away>

My wake up call …

I’m not sure how close Jake was from his last breath.   His eyes had started dilating.  Immediate family had been assembled informing us ‘his chance of survival didn’t look good.’

I’m Happy … I’m Happy If … But I Always Want More …

Name the one thing that would stamp your happy card.  For me, if Jake regained use of his right hand, talked with fluidity and walked with no right sided weakness, as well as the restoration of one-third of his brain’s left hemisphere … if … if … if …

My one ‘happy’ event has now turned into four things … that’s usually the way it goes.  We always want more.

Let me try again.  The one thing that would secure my happiness would be if Jake could communicate normally … then his world would no longer be isolating and lonely.

And I could live happily ever after … as evidenced by my ‘Happy’ shirt.  That is until the next thing I want more than anything in the world to secure my happiness.  We always want more.

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<photo by Craig … I’m just a ray of sunshine in my Happy shirt … Not!>

 Your turn … what is the one  fill in the blank , if received today, would qualify you to wear a forever ‘Happy’ shirt?

For six years I have prayed, pleaded, bargained, and begged for healing.  So why hasn’t Jake been healed?   Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you.”  But my son still suffers significant effects from the stroke.

Are you still waiting for your prayers to be answered?   Moreover, what about the petition for healing that you prayed for repeatedly …. yet, your loved one did not survive.

“Oh, Lord, did you hear us?’   Yes, He heard our cries.

But do we ever listen to Him?  Or are we always so busy talking at Him and telling Him what we want, thus missing what He is trying to tell us?

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content, whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want …”  Philippians 4:11-12

If I equate happiness with my son being healed … happiness may be an illusion for me.  If your happiness depends on waiting for fill in the blank to happen, frustration will often prevail.

What do we do while waiting?  Maybe we need to stop pushing so hard against the reality of our lives while in this particular season.  We constantly resist and try to control what is often beyond our control.  And the results are misery and anxiety.

If we stopped pushing against our present circumstances and really lived and believed what God has promised to us, contentment would follow.  Do we remember what He has told us?  I do know His promises but I don’t always live them …

FOR I KNOW THE PLANS I HAVE FOR YOU,” declares the Lord, “PLANS TO PROSPER YOU, AND NOT TO HARM YOU, PLANS TO GIVE YOU HOPE AND A FUTURE.”   Jeremiah 29:11

God knows our desires … He knows our pain.  Sometimes we are waiting longer than planned.  Perhaps we need to learn how to wait better.

How do we wait better?  Try each day to thank Him in advance for His answer. Trust that He is working behind the scenes on our behalf.  Don’t give up. Look forward in hope and expectancy for Him to respond.

Additionally, instead of obsessing over what we want, begin focusing on what God wants to do through us and within us during the waiting period … by listening to Him instead of us always talking at Him.  This is a purposeful and disciplined action on our part, daily.

Pressing toward Joy thought for the day … Instead of focusing on what we need to be happy, learn to trust Him more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Want What ‘They’ Have … Pressing Toward It!

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<tired of the see saw mentality … photo by Hand>

Sometimes we fall into a dark season for an indefinite period.  Hours … days … weeks … months … years.   Falling suggests going into a dark place versus looking toward the light.

Why do many of my writings reflect this issue?  The answer is I write from my heart … and flirting with darkness is my current condition.  I do trust Him.  But my struggle is completely trusting Him … placing every detail of my life into His hands … and laying it all at the foot of the cross.

I am not there, yet.

Is choosing darkness a choice?  Absolutely.   On the other hand, there are many issues in life we have no choice or control over.  Would you have ever chosen your fill in the blank life changing event?  Probably not.

It’s ironic that the one thing we are able to control during tough times is often the one we allow to spiral completely out of control.

And that is … our minds … and how we respond to challenging times.   Oftentimes, the circumstance itself takes over our minds.

Hence, the battle begins.

My mind is like a rocking chair or perhaps a see saw .  Back and forth, up and down, back and forth, up and down  … ‘I’ve got this.  I don’t have it.  Here God, you take it.  I want it back now because You aren’t working fast enough. Actually I didn’t have it after all.  God please take this from me.’

It is an exhausting way to live.

Yet … there are a few people (a very few) who share a common thread during tough times … they live in peace and in rest.  ‘Maybe there difficulty is not as bad as mine …’  <Yes it is.  I could write a book on devastating events I have seen over the past six years.>

The conquerors versus the conquered … the victors versus the victims …

“The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”  Habakkuk 4:19

These few people … have been strengthened and developed, with a character firmly in place during turbulent times … while the rest of us often crumble over the same or lesser load.

The difference?  What is the difference?

The answer is they are cloaked in a mature, wise, unshakable faith … filled with abundant Grace.    They have learned to walk, breathe, and soak in the continuing awareness of God’s presence and power. They focus on the One who is sovereign, author of life, our Deliverer, King of Kings, our Salvation, the Resurrection and the Life, the Vine, the Way, the Wisdom of God, Counselor, true Light, our Hope … their Alpha and Omega.

Isaiah 40:31 says “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

How could we not all have that same peace when we serve such a mighty God, no matter the depth of our trial?

I strive for their level of Wisdom.   But, today I am still … back and forth … up and down.  “I know I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”  I am pressing toward surrendering everything to Him, so that I can live in complete peace and rest, no matter the circumstance.  I want what they have.

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<pressing toward the Light>

Where are you today in your walk?

On our journeys, we must speak and focus on His character and His word, over and over and over … which then starts to replace the up and down, and back and forth mindset. It takes perseverance and purposeful action, daily.

Pressing toward Joy thought of the day:  be aware of His presence, His power and just how mighty He is.

<Next blog … pretty soon … traveling to San Fran tomorrow … prayers requested for Wisdom over upcoming medical decisions … placing it in His hands>

 

 

 

When Life Blindsides You …

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<photo by the waiter + selfie stick>

Has life ever blindsided you?  This is a <fill in the blank> type of question.

When you think back on that time, do you take a deep gasp of breath, followed by a spasmodic shiver throughout your entire body?  I do.

Blindsidedpunched in the gut, slapped in the face, knocked out without warning.  

I spent a day at Shepherd in Atlanta this week meeting with new friends.  Being blindsided in life was the recurring theme.

I listened to their stories … the play-by-play events leading up to their blindsiding hits.   Yet, these stories were not a game … neither is yours.  There was no warning.

 

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<Selfie pic …  simply enjoying the city park .. didn’t see this ‘guy’ photo bombing me,  BLINDSIDED>

Most people will encounter a life changing event.  Initially falling into darkness is expected; however, staying there is harmful not only to ourselves but for those around us.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens … a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance …”  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

After allowing the necessary space and time to stand back up and regroup, the question to ask ourselves is …  ‘Have we started to move out of the darkness and into the light?’

Reality is life moves on, with or without us.  There are times that I still fall into darkness.  Careful … it is easy to settle there, becoming comfortable, almost relaxing within its unhealthy grip.  The battle then is in our minds … Satan injecting hopelessness and doubt.

On Tuesday morning, I listened intently to my new friends from Shepherd … their openness and transparency … their struggles and fears of the unknown.

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<photo by waiter … people need people … new friends>

Yet, their recurring message and Gift for me was their Hope and Joy moving forward in their lives … lives that have been forever changed.  <Wait a minute!  I’m the senior member here, 6 years postI was blessed, once again.

They had Wisdom and Faith … yet both had been hard fought and tested in the battle.

I am not an expert on anything in life … perhaps coffee and chocolate.  I am simply sharing with you how I have seen people moving successfully out of darkness and into light … including:

-Standing firmly on the Promises, the Hope, and the Word of Jesus Christ.

Purposely reaching out to others while realizing life is not meant to be ‘done’ alone.  Everyone is in different stages of their journeys … the people ahead of you provide hope and wisdom … and those behind you are often grasping for you to take their hand to offer encouragement.

Pressing Toward Joy thought of the day … Be willing to reach out and ask someone to take your hand.  Be willing to take the hand of someone who may need your strength.

“But now, Lord, what do I look for?  My hope is in you.”  Psalm 39:7

<<Next blog …  maybe Monday … here and there … still on the road>>

Party Time … Please Don’t Come

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<photo by Ria … the type of party I am pressing toward >

There are some parties we don’t need to have.  They are usually unplanned, always drawing us into a negative mindset.

Welcome to a Pity Party …

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<Pity Party Invite … Don’t come!>

During a pity party, those attending commiserate on how life used to be … what life might have been … could have been or should have been …

Triggers … what are the triggers that ‘bring on’ the party?  It is important to recognize and be able to identify them, so you can cancel the party before it starts.  Be aware of the mind … How we choose to think becomes the authority over our lives.

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<look familiar?>

Proverbs 23:7 says, “… For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” 

Driving by the high school my children attended this past weekend,  I looked toward the football stadium.  Immediately there was a flood of sadness for the world I once knew, for ‘our’ plans cut short, and the shattered dreams.

‘Why?  Why did Jake suffer a stroke?  All of those great times … it was all going so good!’   <Do you ever fall into the ‘what ifs’ of life?  Where does it take you?>

‘If only  <fill in the blank>  had never happened, if, if, if …,’  now, the party has begun.   Beware!  Before you realize it, this party is out of control.

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<As I sing, ‘It’s my party … and I’ll cry if I want to …’>

My reaction to dark moments used to be more dramatic and emotional than they are now.   How melodramatic!  Transparency time!  I’m not embarrassed because I’m human … and so are you.

One evening a few years ago, life felt particularly overwhelming and suffocating.  After a dramatic exit from the family room, I curled into a perceived ‘safe place’ … a fetal position on my bathroom floor and laid there.  The cold tile against my body almost anesthetized the pain.   <What is your safe place?  How do you choose to anesthetize your pain?  Be Careful!  Be wise, and know when to seek help.>

As Craig stood over me with his always practical delivery, he asked, ‘how long are you going to stay on the floor?’  Looking up at him, I said, ‘I don’t know, but I will get up, eventually.  As for now, the cold tile feels good.  And I put my head back down … on the floor.’

I did get up.  Yet, over time, I recognized that my behavior was unhealthy for me and my family.  It was an attention seeking act to show others how badly I hurt.  Selfish?  Absolutely, as they were hurting as well.

Thankfully, I can now claim, “I’m not where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”  It has been an ongoing spiritual battle to avoid overreacting, while not allowing circumstances to determine my joy and happiness.

Purposeful actions, words, and thoughts … we must stop thinking about our losses and praising God and thanking HIM for what we do have.  <Really?  Yes, Really!>  These two acts have been a game changer in my life.  Plus eating cake!

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<cake is good for the soul>

Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

Pressing Toward Joy reminder of the day:  Think about what you are thinking about because how we choose to think becomes the authority over our lives.

<<Next blog … I’m travelling … in a few days>>

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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