Monthly Archives: July 2015

Treading Water

stormy seaSo often life has felt, to me, like a lengthy exercise in treading water. Treading water is tiring. It’s about surviving, keeping your head above the water. You’re not trying to go anywhere when you’re treading; you’re just trying to maintain your position. Sometimes that’s how I feel like I’m moving through life, just keeping my head above the waters. When I was a working mommy this was oh-so much more true. Now juggling two busy kiddos, one with special needs, the pace is slower, different, but I still feel everyday the need to persevere, often tired from treading water.

As I was studying the story in which Peter walks on water, I had some realizations about the way we do this life, this “treading exercise,” if you will.

Jesus has sent his disciples ahead of him, perhaps knowingly into stormy waters. We are foolish if we think that Jesus has not foreseen the storm we are in. He is fully aware of where we are, even before we got there. And in this instance for the disciples, Jesus is not physically present with them to save their bacon like he was a few chapters ago when he told the wind and waves, “Quiet. Be still.” They are sent out on their own, to be buffeted about by the waves. And it’s terrifying to them. Our storms are terrifying aren’t they? Why did Jesus send us here? Where is he in the midst of this crazy wind, these wild waves?

But Jesus comes. Oh yes, he comes, because he sees exactly where we are. Exactly. And he’s walking on top of that water. If you’ve seen a stormy sea, you know it’s not the sparkling, pristine, calm, flat sea that is often in illustrations of this story. No, the wind, Scripture says, was wild. But Jesus is walking on that water. Of course, he’s Jesus. He can do that.

But then Jesus tells Peter, in the midst of the stormy winds, “come out of that boat and walk on the water to me.”

“Woah, Jesus! Do what? I couldn’t even safely swim through this water, let alone walk on top of it!” Oh, no, wait, Peter doesn’t say that. He gets out of the boat. A brave soul. That’s what I want to say when Jesus calls me into the storm…

Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel like you are nearly drowning in the storms of your life. Maybe your trial is so difficult, your sorrow is so deep, your anger is so severe that you can barely keep yourself going. Walking on the water seems beyond unattainable. Treading is just all you can muster.

I want you to think with me about what Jesus asks of Peter here. He tells him to get on out of that boat and walk on the water, on top of it. Jesus doesn’t say, you can swim through this. He doesn’t say, just tread water till I get there. He doesn’t say, just keep your nose above the surface. He says walk on that water, Peter. Whatever your storm may be, Jesus can empower you in the midst of it. Life, these storms, it’s not about just treading water, just maintaining, being safe, staying alive, surviving. No, it’s about finding the power of Jesus to walk on top of that storm.

I want to do more than tread water. I want to stare straight at Jesus and walk on top of that water, stormy sea or not. Because I trust him. And I know he’s there with me in that storm. I’m done treading; I’m ready to walk.

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Favor

mary-jesusI find it very interesting that as we meet Mary the mother of Jesus in each of the gospels, the writers explain that Mary found favor in God’s eyes which is why she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus, God’s son. But when I think about the difficulties that Mary’s life surely contained because of her chosen role, I wonder if favor maybe doesn’t look just like what I have always thought it looked like.

When I think of favor, I think of something good, happy, successful, the desirable outcome, pleasant feelings, being liked or admired. I’m sure that Mary did experience many of those things. Even just from the perspective of a mother, I’m sure she did because of the joy of motherhood. There’s my idea of favor in her story to be sure.

But there are some other things that don’t seem to fit this idea of favor. For instance, the whole “conceived of the Holy Spirit” part of the story — this was surely rejected by some in Mary’s community as an excuse for improper conduct. Mary’s reputation must have suffered because of this “favor” that God bestowed upon her. In addition, she had to watch her own son be killed brutally at the young age of 33. I’m losing sight of the “favor” here. (Yes, I know there was a resurrection. But as she watched her son die, she didn’t know that for certain.)

I guess what I’m realizing is that when you find favor in God’s eyes, he chooses you for a special task, not an easy task, not a task that is always pleasant, but one that has eternal significance, one that is very dear to his heart. Maybe the path of favor does include pain and suffering. But maybe that’s an indicator of just how much favor you have in God’s eyes.

Many people (bless them) remind me often that God has chosen me and my husband specifically to be Sophie’s parents. My pastor likes to say, “special child, special parents.” Yet, I’ve often grieved the road that we have set before us, when the stress and frustration are through the roof, when the disappointment and the fear are real, when the questions are large and the progress is at a standstill. Oh, to be “normal” to have a “favorable” time with our young children. But maybe this difficult road is a sign of God’s favor. I’ve certainly never thought it was a sign of punishment; I know my Bible better than that. I have often viewed this as an opportunity for God to show his glory. But I’ve never looked at it as a sign of his favor.

Yet when I was reading about Mary finding favor in God’s eyes, knowing all the suffering that she walked through as the mother of Jesus, it was as if God whispered to my heart that he has found favor with me. I don’t share this to be boastful. I share it to encourage you. God has chosen you for the path set before you because of his favor for you. Favor doesn’t always mean success or happiness or ease as defined by this world. But it does mean that you and I are chosen. We caught God’s eye, and he decided, I’m going to use this one. Yes, she can do great things for my kingdom. There is eternal significance here in what I have for her to do.

It can be hard to see our significance from our vantage point here on earth. It’s like trying to see a movie on the big screen from the front row, looking through a straw. We catch glimpses of what’s going on, but the bigger picture can be hard to understand. I’m sure Mary must have felt that way at times in her life. Likewise, I can’t see yet how my story, how Sophie’s story, amounts to God’s favor or what he is going to accomplish in our family for his kingdom. But, even so, I choose the same response as Mary, whose eternal significance is now so evident, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

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Hope

serving-hands
The return for my prayer of thanksgiving has been a deep welling up of hope in my heart. It’s deeper than a hope that this speech disorder will someday be a distant memory and that Sophie will speak with the eloquence of a great orator. Of course my heart hopes for those things. But this hope is different. This hope is not marked by instant happiness, or even by lightness, necessarily. But it is marked by perspective, and it is marked by peace — an abiding peace which moves with me through each day, giving me the grace and compassion to be okay with our “right now.” It doesn’t remove my sadness. It doesn’t always ease the pain, but even in the midst of the pain and sadness, I feel this deep current of hope, of peace, in my soul. This hope extends beyond this world and into the next — the one we were truly created for.

I believe that one day Sophie will stand before her creator and bless his name, out loud, in perfect eloquence. I believe until that day he will hold every one of her tears and every one of mine in the palms of his nail-scarred hands. Because of what Jesus has done for you and for me, we can all have this hope that extends beyond and through and deeper than the heaviness, the pain, the sadness, the brokenness of this world.

This is my hope. All others will disappoint. If I hope for speech, I may be disappointed on this earth. But when God created Sophie, he created an eternal soul, a sweet girl who can live forever, in perfection, because of Jesus’ sacrifice. Although she is bound for a time in this life by a speech disorder, that says nothing of her eternal self. Oh to have the eyes to see this truth in all human beings around me. Thirsty souls, meant for something so much more than what’s here.

If I just focus on what is seen, the here and now of this life on earth, well, it’s a bit of a downer. But when I feel this hope, when I know with all that I am that there is another reason entirely for our creation than this earth alone, then life makes much more sense, and I have every reason to be okay with apraxia. It is a “light and momentary trouble” that  is “achieving for us an eternal glory” (2 Cor 4:17).

No matter what you are facing today, I pray you know in the deepest places in your heart that there is hope. Hope that extends beyond this earthly existence. Philippians 4:6&7 promise that when we present our requests to God, with thanksgiving, that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard [our] hearts and [our] minds in Christ Jesus.” This hope, this peace, is the fruit of my prayer of thankfulness.

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In Obedience, A Prayer of Thanksgiving

I Thess 5As I have been processing Sophie’s diagnosis of CAS (Childhood Apraxia of Speech), God brought to mind this Scripture: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess 5:18). In all circumstances — not the ones that we like, the ones that are comfortable, the “good” circumstances — all of them. Why? Because this is God’s will for you. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be happening.

And so I pray:

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ASL for “thank you”



Lord, Thank you for apraxia of speech. Thank you for choosing this for us. I admit, my heart does not feel particularly thankful, but I choose it out of obedience to Your Word. I know you are a good God. You do all things well. As you crafted each part of Sophie in your powerful hands, you allowed this to be part of her makeup. So we receive it from you, with thanksgiving, knowing that whatever you design, whatever you allow, you will use to glorify yourself. You are an all-powerful God of miraculous deeds, and I trust that we will see your glory in this road we walk with Sophie.

I can’t see where this road will lead, what pitfalls we will encounter, how long the road is, where there might be hills or valleys. But I know my Father is leading me. His word is a light unto my path, and I will choose to walk in obedience. I can’t think about “down the road,” but I can be ok with where we are today. Down the road is too much. But today, I can handle in his grace. And I know that when we get to “down the road” he’ll be there too, with grace for that day as well. So for today, in obedience, I will choose thankfulness.

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Fearful

apraxiakids2

Tomorrow Sophie and I will go to Columbus for her official speech evaluation. I anticipate that she will be diagnosed with Childhood Apraxia of Speech, something I have written about before. This diagnosis, in a way, looms over me, and in another, means nothing at all. Our struggle is unchanged; my child is unchanged. But it is a reality check. We have a long road ahead. Sophie’s “speech delay” will now be a “speech disorder.” Her childhood will be different. And I am fearful.

There’s a story from the book of Mark, early in Jesus’ ministry, of a man named Jairus who was a ruler in the synagogue. His daughter was very sick, on her deathbed. This is one of those stories that I don’t think came alive to me until I became a mother. The thought of my child on her deathbed is overwhelming. (It’s not something I think that I should dwell on. But any mother knows, those fears dart in and out of our minds more often than we’d like to admit.) So Jairus comes to Jesus and asks him to come touch his daughter and heal her. Jesus is on his way to heal her when the woman subject to bleeding for 12 years crosses his path. He takes just enough time with this woman, who desperately wants to touch his robes to be healed of her ailment, that the young girl dies. One of Jairus’ servants meets them on their way and says that his daughter is dead. I can only imagine the agony that Jairus must have felt in that moment. He just wasn’t fast enough. He was her daddy, and it was his job to protect her, but he couldn’t get Jesus there fast enough. This is surely and intense moment of crisis for Jairus. His heart is must be in a thousand pieces at this moment. He is, no doubt, immobilized by fear and grief.

There is much in this world that I want to protect my children from. As Sophie faces a CAS diagnosis, I do have fears about the struggles she will endure. I fear that she won’t have any friends. I fear other children will make fun of her. I fear that her little heart will be broken. I fear that I won’t be able to connect with her, to understand and help her through these things because she can’t even tell me what she feels. I fear that the enemy will try to damage her heart through this fallen aspect of her physical being. And I feel so helpless, because I know that there’s so much I won’t be able to protect her from.

I think if we are honest, we all have fears about what the future holds. No matter what our stage in life may be, there are always fears. Our enemy always tries to immobilize our hearts by locking them up in our fears. As I was reading this story of Jairus a few days ago, I was just blown away by Jesus’ response to the news of Jairus’ daughter’s death.

He says: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

Every part of my fearful heart loves these words. All those fears that plague me, all the what-ifs of life, all of them still when I hear Jesus’ words to Jairus. Because I know that he would say the same thing to me even now in the midst of my circumstances. Maybe I don’t have to protect Sophie from everything. Maybe I can just believe in Jesus and place her in his loving hands. Whatever our moment of crisis is, I believe that Jesus is there, telling us not to be afraid, asking us to just believe in him.

Child can’t talk? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Facing an illness? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Left without a spouse? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
In financial ruin? Don’t be afraid; just believe.
Lost a loved one? Don’t be afraid; just believe.

Jesus has power beyond anything we can understand. And his scope of sight extends so much further than ours. What looks bad to me just now, I can believe that Jesus sees in the grand scheme. He has the eternal perspective that we are so quick to lose here on this earth. Because Jairus’ daughter was allowed to die, Jesus had the opportunity to raise her back to life, displaying exponentially more glory in her healing. In the same way, if our fears become reality, Jesus is there, ready to display his power and glory if we seek him. And we will see it in ways we never would have expected, ways we never would have been privileged to experience without our struggles. Even in the midst of all the uncertainty we now face in sweet Sophie’s life, I hear Jesus whisper, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”

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