Thursday, September 23, 2010

Why Won't God.....Heal Me?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Yesterday was a great day in some ways because we, what Olivia and I call "breaking out" of the hospital were able to come home. We give it a spy theme to make fun of finally getting out of that place. This last time we were in a room so small I called it the broom closet. So we were ready to be home to say the least.

On the way home we dropped Dean back off at work and headed to the house. You know how it is though, in the car the chit chatting starts. Firing off all those random thoughts so that she has someone to bounce it off of and see how it sounds. The conversation is pinging off the windows in rapid fire fashion until she gets to the one that she is trying to ask but not sure if she should.

Some of my best and worst conversations always happen in the car with Olivia. I guess there is safety in the car than any where else. No one can interrupt you, add their two cents, listen in, or over hear except the person who you are talking to. Olivia I think decides then is the time to throw out those hard questions. These are the times that usually I get the big questions. The ones I can't answer, the ones that have to do with random things from being a teenager, to friends , to God. As she throws out question after question I promise I always get that one question that throws me for a loop and I start begging God for the right answer. The praying starts when the question starts because I feel it coming out almost like turning the arm on a Jack in the box. You are not sure when "Jack" is going to pop out but you know it is coming. So I start praying right then as she turns that question into another until she gets to the root of what she really is wanting to know. Because it is always that question that will make the difference in how Olivia sees life. What lens she chooses to use to view her life and those moments are not in the parenting handbook. And can I just say that sometimes I want to throw that parenting book out because it never covers those life things that get really messy.

Yesterday I finally got the question that I truly was dreading. I knew one day she would get the courage up to ask it out loud but I was hoping it would be with her Dad, youth pastor, friend…okay I am reaching here…I want to be there in the big question moments but I just do not feel adequate to answer them all the time.

Here comes the question, firing out like a bullet because she is mad. No build up to the question. "Jack" just popped right out with no time. Her question is wrapped in the fact that she is going home not feeling well. She is mad and she needs someone to understand she is just mad at her life at the moment. I believe you can get mad with God, He can handle it. But it is more how we deal with our anger that sin really gets into our heart and creates bitterness. This would be a critical answer for her to help her from wrapping that anger in bitterness. So Venting with God can be a good thing so here comes it comes in the overflow of anger "I know God can do miracles, I know He can heal people so "Why Won't He …..Heal Me". Now I put in the "…" because I know everyone has that question from time to time and those "…" allow you to put in your crisis with God. When Olivia asked that question, at that moment she wanted a real answer. Not a christianese answer, not bible references, not a moment to stop and pray, she wanted me to answer her because she knows I know Him. She knows that I depend on God for everything. I know His character and His believe and trust Him. Not just for myself but for her as well.

In her mind if anyone might have a clue, it would be me. Now, every Mom, friend, wife, sister that is walking with God has had this question asked of you at some point. Because we should know, shouldn't we? But the reality is, there are questions that do not have answers yet. Some questions we may never have answers to this side of heaven. And that is where trust comes in. That is where knowing Him and His character helps us trace his miracle at each turn. Her pain, her hurting, her frustration of not being able to be a normal teenager slipping away, her dreams seem impossible to conquer and day to day she can help people, love, make a friend for a moment but in the big picture "Why don't He Heal Me?".

Over and over we discussed so many views of our life walk. We have talked about how it helps people, we have talked about life getting better a little further down the road, we have talked about God's glory being revealed but today…those were not the answers she wanted. Today she wanted it all over. She wanted to move on. We have been going to church, shopping, cooking, getting together with friends when we are out of the hospital and this taste for life has just been enough for her to want more. And when you know God can heal, well, you want to know why you are still not healed.

Today my answer had to be more honest and more real for her. Today, it just had to be the thing that she could hold on to for another minute. For today, she just needed to know "why me?". Because she was asking as well, why is He letting all this drag out and go on and on and on. Why do I have to be in pain? Why do I have to look at another horrible operation? Why do I have to be the one to go through all this? Yes, I know Mom, there are so many others worse and I am thankful but Mom! The only answer I had at that moment that was raw, real and honest was "I don't know why?"'

But in my desperate plea to the Lord to help me because these are life changing issues she is talking about. Huge spiritual issues, I start begging for help. In my mind I am desperate for the Holy Spirit to show up and audibly talk. For God to provide that "dang" burning bush in the car so I can point to it. Some huge miracle that will engage all her senses so that she would see how Big My God is.

Then I see her face in the rearview mirror, but not just her face, her ng tube and it all comes together, for me anyway. Because that is only one of the many battle scars that child has on her. If you were to see her stomach, it could make you cringe the amount of scars on her body from surgeries, stents, and g-tube placements. But they all have on thing in common. A walking, breathing testimony of God's grace, mercy and healing. I choke up and can only talk in a whisper as I tell her my story. My truth. My raw honest truth as I pray it pricks her heart and shows her something about God that she may have not seen before. Because we are always looking for the big miracle but really the small miracles are what cling us to the cross and draw us closer and closer to Him. The big miracles we eventually forget…but the small ones…well, they seem to change our perspective, longer.

We started talking at first about why God is allowing this all to drag out. Would this next surgery be the end or just the beginning to another long path of surgery and another transplant? The only thing I told her that I was sure about is that God was in the middle of it all. I started talking about how if God healed her right away that maybe, like so many others, she would forget what God had done. That each step we walk we have those small miracles that remind of God's hand in our life. This way we all would have that moment we will never forget….when Olivia starts to run again. …that God had been with us the whole way. That each step was designed by Him as long as we press in to hear where the next step is supposed to be. I am not sure why some people are miraculously healed and some of us walk this path of bruises and heart ache. That I was not sure if that was a reflection of how stubborn we are or not, but at least God loved us enough to allow us to keep going.

At fourteen she may not feel healed but this Mom knows her path of healing. I have walked this path so long with Olivia that I had really forgotten during the battle the miracles that God has done. So I explained to Olivia something that I just realized myself. All of those scars etched in her body are my miracles. All of these days are a miracle of His healing. No, it does not seem that way but in reality it is almost like the Israelites building an altar when God did something for them. That stone altar always represented God's might and His answer. And there is a Olivia. The traces of God's hand all over her body. His protection and mercy on her very life represented by each day that she has made it through. Her entire life is an answer to "Why Won't He…." because those scars represent when He did. No, we did not have that miraculous healing but we have something more. Something precious. We can see the Hand of God in our life daily. And I told her that when I look at her, I see more love of the Father for me than anyone in the world. Because she means so much to me and His Hand has held her through it all. That she is one of the strongest, bravest, stubborn people I know and that every trait she has, has been etched by His Hand and her scars are there to prove it. His answers don't come easy for us but His provision, His love, His comfort is evident throughout her life. "That might not mean as much to you" I tell her but to me, it has changed my life. You are my walking miracle and so I can keep believing for the next one, the next one and so on.

Praying for your miracles today. Praying for the answer "Why won't He…?" for you.

In His Grip, always,


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Routine? What is that?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

First I am going to apologize to my dear friend and Pastor, Chuck. You see, last night Dean and I had the privilege of being in his class at church titled "Chasing the Wild Goose". The study is good but I have to tell you that the teaching from Pastor Chuck is phenomenal. It is not so much the rich text of the bible, though we have that, it is not so much years of expertise in teaching, he has that already, it is the incredible transparency that he uses from his own life experience that transform the outline to a living, breathing, life changing word. God is using his testimony to challenge, enrich and spur us on to finish this race we call life, well. Not well I in our own eyes, not well in the world's eyes, but in the one that matters more than anyone, God's.

So the apology is this….I am taking all that he said way out of context into my own world, rearranging it and seeing a different view of my world because of his teaching. So, sorry Chuck if you read this and it misses the mark. It was not your lack of ability at all to convey the word for us, LOL, it was my crazy head going in all directions.

The teaching last night was breaking out of your routine to see the divine appointments that God has for you, if you just did it one day. That our routines in life keep us from seeing the divine. Even the mundane routines in life of taking the dog out…really, have we stopped to see what God might have for us in just that moment. Great thoughts. And we all can relate to that at some point, and really at anytime.

But what if routine never exists? What if you are constantly in some form of chaotic state and you are doing your best to manage your chaos? I know some of my friends here that have chronically, life threatening illnesses or children with those illnesses, or financial stresses, or lost friends or family, we yearn for routine. We desire to have normal days like everyone else.

Why? Because the chaos keeps you in survival and protection mode a lot of the time. In the last ten years, since Olivia became ill and had her first transplant, I think we have been through it all. Our small family has seen our baby almost die, have to raise a gazillion dollars for her first transplant because it all was so new, went into bankruptcy because of all the medical bills, had to move from our home in Nashville to Atlanta to be closer to Liv's Doctors and get back on our feet. Dean has gone through several job changes and went back to college, has had two heart attacks, Iost his parents and a sister in fatal car accident. I lost my Mom to cancer about a year after I moved back home, we both have suffered through the financial burden of all of Olivia's stuff not even considering and talking about the frustration with medicaid, insurance, etc, etc etc…the list just goes on and on. We haven't even touched Olivia's health that has been just pure torture trying to get her well.

Okay, now we can all breathe. I made the list. If you look at the list, or even your own list, breathing can be hard. Do you see any place routine has been allowed to creep in. Really? Even in our marriage, Dean and I are always working on communicating, challenging each other, loving each other because as the days get long, the stress gets insurmountable we know we have to stay in the right place with each other or we will lose the other so easily in the chaos. Those are the physical, immediate things you can see with your eyes. My relationship with God becomes even more critical to keep all the other balls in the air without falling and sometimes that relationship is tenuous depending on the day.

It is so obvious at times that routine can blind us to the obvious but I dare to say that sometimes chaos can do the same. Sometimes the moment God has designed to drive us to the edge of his throne is missed. We all have a moment when we first start walking through the fire where we recognize that God has pulled us through but, I loved the point Chuck brought home last night, if when Moses met the burning bush, said "yes" to God ,went to Egypt and God had not harden Pharoh's heart and he let the Israelites go….we may have never heard the story. Because Moses could have easily credited himself with the victory. Yes, he listened to God but he (Moses) orchestrated everything else. So it got me to thinking about the chaos that surrounds my life. That the point God is trying to make with me is that life is about me. Not me to be a super hero, not me to leap tall buildings, not me that is able to do anything without him, but about me that my life be all about Him. Because when my life is all about Him, all those chaotic things seem to come back in order. That the blindness I had to see the miracle He was doing could be seen through the refiner's fire of gold and that the dross has been pulled away to reflect Him.

When I look through those glasses I see something completely different. You see, I stopped asking "why?" a long time ago. There are no answers to the questions I have this side of heaven. What I do know is that this life is not without purpose. That each day is a gift that is given freely for us to do whatever we want to do with it. It is our choice to see God in it all or choose to see the circumstances of it all. You know, when the electrical company is at your door for payment and you have no where to turn to pay it…well, it is hard not to see the circumstances. I have been there. You are working three jobs just to make the ends meet. I have been there. When you have no idea how you are going to get to work that you need to pay the bills because you have no money for gas…I have been there. When you have seen all hope drain from your child's face, I have been there. When you see cancer eat up your Mom's body unto death, I have been there. You see your husband scared and helpless after a heart attack. I have been there.

I have been in so many places where there seemed to be no way out but through those moments, through those heart wrenching circumstances I witnessed more miracles than anyone should have bestowed on them in a lifetime. I realized sitting in that room last night, listening to my Pastor that I am so blessed. Not because I have no routine, not because I live a chaotic life but because God chose to not leave me to my own devices. That, like Moses, when He called and I said "yes" he hardened Pharoh's heart so that when the Israelites walked out of Egypt they never questioned "who" set them free. They knew without a shadow of a doubt that God walked them out. Yes, he did use Moses. But stripped, broken, and feeling so helpless Moses obeyed as the Father told him what to do and say and he gave all the glory, all the credit to God because he loved Him. Moses was called God's friend. What an honor.

I chose a long time ago to love God but I pray that I always remember that my life here is all about me. It is about how I lay it down daily to know Him more, love Him more, and allow Him to use me so that others know how much He loves them too. Because really, that is our purpose. For people to see real people having a real relationship with a God that has more love than they can imagine just for them.

I know I have been stripped of most of the things that have hindered me in my past through all I have been through. These days I don't look back in horror at those moments, I see moments on my knee's and seeing my Heavenly Father do things for me that in the natural never will make sense. His blessings have overflowed. It wasn't easy walking through each day but it has become a blessing. A chance for me to see my heart. My real heart and make a change that I needed to make.

My scars, a lot of them are healed and I am proud of them because they represent a day that I finally died to myself and allowed God to come in and truly heal and set me free. Not everyone needs to walk through such a hard place but for me…I guess I did. But I appreciate it. I pray each day to be real and transparent so that my life can be a true reflection of the best Dad ever. That I make Him proud and that I honor Him because He loved me this much. He loved me enough not to leave me. He loved me enough to show me my heart and He loved me enough to walk me through those dark places and hold my hand without condemnation. He loved me, more than I can even imagine.

So, today I am praying for those divine moments so that my life can be something that gives someone else strength…that maybe their path will be just a little easier because I walked before them and cleared out some of the rocks. But I have to tell you, if you say "yes" to God…well, you will have to pick up a lot of your own rocks and deal with them along the way….but I urge you to say "yes" to just one day….just one…and your life will never be the same.

In His Grip


Monday, September 06, 2010

Learn To Dance

"I have learned not to spend your life waiting for your storms to pass... instead, learn to dance in the rain."

Monday, September 06, 2010

Can you picture that summer rain. It's falling on your face as you twirl around and around. Not too cold and not too wet. Just right to make you feel alive, happy and carefree. In real life, these are really just moments. Not even moments, just seconds that we get to enjoy something spontaneous. Our minds work in the future, now that we are adults, seeing the next meeting we have to get to or the next dance lesson, soccer practice, ballgame…well, you get the idea. So we rarely take that moment that we jumped at in our twenties. But, boy do we need to. My Mom taught me this valuable lesson. Live, laugh and love with all your heart and always, always dance.

My life was very hard growing up. But no matter where we were financially, or emotionally, or even physically, Mom always made the best of it. At Christmas you would think she had a million dollars. The Holidays were always her favorite. I saw her struggle through so much and yet, she always laughed, she always loved with all she had, and she never held back. What a great lesson to learn. God obviously knew that I would need that picture for my life.

When I read that line this morning I thought about all I have gone through and grown through. I had forgotten the other day what life is about. It is not about the struggle, it is how you deal with the struggle.

You know, I was frustrated the other day. I was tired of going through all of this. I wanted an end to my poor little girl's suffering. I told Dean last night, I just wanted the storybook ending. And yet, that is not what my life has been about, really ever. I have weathered so many storms in my life. Not just Olivia's issues. I have faced hard times growing up, Dean and I have faced hard marriage issues, we have faced financial growth and death, we suffered through three miscarriages, we suffered through Olivia's premature birth, then three years later…this story began. But even after ten years of Olivia's suffering, Dean and I have lost parents to cancer and car accidents, we have had to move to Atlanta, Dean has had two heart attacks, but yet we press on. And what I hear from all of you is how I never give up. I always make the best of it. Well, I do. Because this life is not about our circumstances. I don't always like it. I am not always laughing and loving with Dean because he is my safe place and well, he has to take it, he said I do. But, I am always looking for the glass to be half full.

You can get overwhelmed with those circumstances. I bet if you listed the things in your life that have been hard, you would have to take a minute to breathe. It is not just my life, but everyone I know has struggled and lost. Sometimes we win, but always, in everything we give God Praise because He is and that is all there is. My life has become less about my circumstances and more about God. And the view through His eyes is so different from our earthly eyes.

When things are really tough, I really want to worship. I want to sing His praises and walk through His hallways. In worship, a lot of times I will envision walking down this long hallway. That walk allows me to free myself of all the earthly worries, the to do lists, shutting out those around me, and getting to the door. That hallway can be really long…then some days it takes no time at all. But when I get to the end of the hallway, I see this tall door that leads to His throne room. I guess I could be reverent but if you knew me, well, I am a rebel at heart. So I fling open the door into what I view as the throne room. When the doors opens there is just a wave of love, anticipation of expectation. In that room there is only unconditional love. You feel it, you see it and if you could…you could taste it. That room is made just for me and my Father in Heaven. You know, I never envision anyone in that room but Him. No angels on high, not even Jesus, just a Dad that has been waiting on me to show up. He always has such expectancy on His face.

And really, according to my day, I usually run right up to His chair and hop in his lap. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I smile and laugh. Sometimes I just sit. Just to be near Him. Just to let Him know how much I love Him. To feel His love surround me and to know that this will pass, this hurt will only last a moment, and that He holds all the answers in His hand and knows what is best. And then, I dance. Not really outside, but on the inside. In my heart. It takes a leap of hope. It grabs hold of love and relies on faith. I begin to see things in a different light. Because He holds the truth and so light can shine on the truth and open up a whole new way of looking at your circumstance. Then, I see the joy of the moment and I can dance in the rain.

Now, I know this may sound so crazy to you. I have no idea why I have shared such an intimate moment I have with God. And truly, you may think I just took the time to write this picture but you would be wrong. Every time I am in worship of any kind, this is truly what I do in my mind. So, when you see me with my hands held high, or you see my tears, or you see me smile in service, you will know I have just walked into His room and been loved.

So, I am going to dance, sing, love and laugh as much as I can. Life is short. Storms Pass but attitudes can last a lifetime. I want to be full of life and not full of bitterness. Full of fun and laughter not sorrow and mourning. Because new mercies I see :)

In His Grip, always