Monthly Archives: September 2020

A Walk in the Dark

 

Have you ever lost something extremely important or valuable? Misplaced items is one of my husband’s pet peeves. It makes him crazy! I can’t say it’s a good feeling in my mind, either. I realize my limits when something is lost, because I can’t find it. No amount of wanting to find it will make it appear to me. I feel powerless to locate the item, no matter if it’s important or insignificant. I am limited, because I don’t know where it is.

 

One of the items that seems to often go missing in our house is our three-year-old Hannah’s lovey, “Nini.” And she’s always lost at bedtime. There have been numerous times that Andrew and I have torn the house apart searching for Nini, sometimes for hours, while a distraught Hannah waits in her bed for her beloved blankie to be found.

Last week Nini was lost at bedtime, and as we retraced our steps through the day to try and remember the last time we saw her, I recalled seeing Hannah take her outside. Into the darkness I went in search of Nini, even though Andrew had already looked there. We had searched the house high and low for nearly an hour, so I figured a second look outside was permissible, and the urgency to locate her was quite real in my heart.

 

 

Out there in the quiet darkness of the night as I walked my yard, God’s presence felt so much more tangible than in the hustle and bustle of the day full of many distractions. As I searched, God called to mind several passages and parables of lost items from the Bible. But the one that stood out boldest in my mind was this:

 

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jer 29:13)

 

I was searching for Nini with all my heart, with an urgency that I rarely feel when seeking the Lord. Yet, how much more valuable is his kingdom and his wisdom? Jesus teaches several parables on the worth of his kingdom in the gospels.

 

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.” (Matt 13:45-46)

 

All he had, friends! He sold all he had. His whole life didn’t compare to that pearl! We should be seeking Jesus and his kingdom with all that we have, because nothing on this earth compares with him.

 

How many worthless pursuits are we on in this life? What are we spending energy searching for and seeking that amounts to chasing the wind (Ecc 3)? Solomon calls those pursuits meaningless. Yet we chase them as if life depends on us obtaining them.

 

Isaiah also speaks of our earthly ambitions in a similar way:

 

“Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” (55:2)

 

As I walked over every step of my backyard looking for Hannah’s beloved Nini, I felt my priorities re-orient mentally. My faith and my pursuit of Jesus need to be first.

 

What in your life is taking time and energy that should be given to seeking Jesus? I know that we can’t just clear our schedules every day, call off work, sit in the woods and bask in his Spirit all day every day. We are called to our families, our jobs, our ministries. We need to do these things. But what are we doing to be filled with Jesus, to seek his kingdom, “and search for it as for hidden treasure” (Prov 2:4)?

 

I think it is as much a posture or attitude of our hearts as it is a time issue. First, we need to make time to seek Jesus. But, we can also orient our hearts towards him through all those things that we need to do, so that we are seeking him throughout our whole day. And when we do spend time alone in his word, our hearts and minds should be seeking him like precious treasure, rather that a casual exchange, as if scrolling through social media. I want my time with Jesus to be life-giving, active, and engaging, not just a mind-numbing scroll-through of my passage of the day.

 

At long last, Nini was found, hiding under the spare blanket at the foot of my bed. (Did I mention that Hannah is also a stasher? She likes to hide things… It’s SO fun, guys.) I was so relieved when we found Hannah’s precious lovey. But I was thankful that God took me outside to walk in the quiet and the darkness, to meet with him in an unexpected place and unexpected way. He’s there, in the middle of your ordinary, if you look for him, seek him out, search for him like a precious pearl. You will never be disappointed at the energy you spend seeking him with all your heart! And the good thing about searching for Jesus is that you won’t feel limited and powerless, because He always shows up to meet you!

 

 

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Memories of Daddy: Perspective

My favorite picture of daddy, in his heyday, tending his garden

 

This week I was lamenting to the owner of our local fruit farm after I learned that our late frost this spring stole nearly 80% of their fruit crop. “I’m so sorry you lost so much of your crop,” I commented. “I knew this spring would be hard on your trees.”

 

Her response shocked me: “At least we got some. We are pretty happy about that!”

 

Wow. 80% of their livelihood stolen by the frost, and she audaciously claims happiness.

 

This got me thinking about perspective and something my Daddy always used to say: “We’ll take what the Lord gives us.” He said this most often in the context of his garden, but he also said it about a host of other circumstances that life dealt us.

 

As I have taken on my first larger garden this year, this perspective has shaped my outlook, too. Gardening is really an act of faith. I put a seed in the ground. I tend it. I water it. I keep the weeds away. And I hope that God makes it grow to give us plenty of fruit. It’s not terribly difficult to look on my smallish garden this way, but I was pretty astonished that my local fruit farmer could maintain such a positive perspective about 80% of her livelihood!

 

We’ll take what the Lord gives us. It’s a posture that acknowledges his ultimate control over every detail of our lives. And it postures us correctly for gratitude, that what he has chosen to give us is, ultimately, for the greatest good.

 

Not everything that we are dealt in life is easy to be grateful for. I confess I am not often grateful for my father’s dementia. I am not grateful for a pandemic that has stolen what little time in his memory I maintain. I have seen him only once since the outbreak began in March. I’m so grateful for that visit though because it gave me glimpse of God’s continued goodness, even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Because although dementia has taken him from my life and from the lives of my children in the way that I wish he could be there, it has also placed him somewhere else, somewhere that God knew he needed to be. As we visited with him and his nurse aid back in July, I realized that even though his mind his dimming, his light for Jesus is not. His nurse knows about the day he met Jesus and his journey with the Lord ever since. He has shared Jesus (on repeat, I’m sure) with many of the people who now care for him. I have to trust that this, too, is part of God’s good plan to redeem every circumstance in our lives. It doesn’t mean I don’t grieve our losses, but I can rejoice and be happy in what God is still doing.

 

We’ll take what the Lord gives us. We trust that he is good. We can choose a grateful perspective. What circumstances are you struggling with right now? Where is it hard to see God’s goodness? Instead of looking at the losses you’re experiencing, where can you see God’s loving hand still forming goodness? God cannot NOT be good, and he is always actively working to redeem every situation in your life and mine for the greatest good. I encourage you to choose a grateful perspective today. To audaciously claim joy in the midst of all your difficulties. To take what the Lord has given you and to say thank you.

 

 

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Sophie’s Story: Never Alone

As many parents faced the difficult decision this summer about how to choose schooling for their children, I made the choice to jump headfirst into the deep end. I chose homeschooling. I chose this not because we’ve been unhappy with our local school. On the contrary, they have been some of the sweetest, most supportive and encouraging people I could ever ask to have on my team as I raise my autistic daughter. I knew that homeschooling her would be difficult, but I felt that in making this choice, I could provide the one thing for her that the school could not promise this year, because it, too, was beyond their control. I could provide her with consistency. No switching between school formats. No blended learning, with this day being one format, and that format another day. No potential for weeks of virtual learning. (Can I tell you how much my kids LOVED virtually learning?! They did not.) I chose consistency and control over what my children would be learning this year when I chose homeschooling.

 

It has not been without much grief over the loss of such a wonderful team who has helped Sophie grow the past two years. (And Micah, too!)

 

Today as we headed out for a walk, we heard a car slow and pull near. As I looked over, I heard a familiar voice, “Hi Sophie-Girl!” And there in her black SUV sat one of Sophie’s special ed helpers. I was surprised by the onslaught of emotion I felt as we talked for a brief moment about how much we miss school and how the school team misses Sophie. I told her, “We may be back. It has been really difficult working with Sophie with no support.” I fought the tears as she pulled away. I felt alone. I felt the loss of a great team.

 

As we resumed our walk, Hannah (three) called out to her big sister, “Hey Sophie! Wanna hold my hand?!” They walked along, hand in hand. This made the tears come faster as I felt God’s whisper – “You are never alone.” The support looks different this year, but I am not alone in this journey. God placed the exact people in our family who were meant to be Sophie’s teammates and mine. He has also brought numerous friends with years of experience in homeschooling alongside me, as well as a few who are new to the adventure. I am not alone in this. Yes, we need to get some therapies in place to support her growth, and we are working to do that. But God knew what he was doing when he chose us to be her family, her team, her cheerleaders, and led us to choose homeschooling.

 

Micah recently told me he thought I was the “perfect mommy” (which of course touched my heart), but I reminded him that I’m not perfect, though I try really hard to be a good mommy. He said, “Well, then maybe I should say you’re the perfect mommy for this family.” I don’t often feel like I am measuring up, but I am doing my best to be faithful. My word for the year: “faithful.” I’m thankful for the reminder that God did choose me for this task, and I’m thankful for reminders like our walk today that I’m never alone.

 

Do you feel alone in your journey right now? So many of us are walking paths that we would never have chosen for ourselves. But God did choose them for us. And he is good. Praying today that you feel a sweet reminder that you are not alone in your journey either.

 

 

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