What’s Ahead?

Here in Kansas over the past ten days we have had some extreme winter weather, as have many of you around the nation.  We knew it was coming thanks to modern weather forecasting.  We were able to prepare as best we could for sub-zero temperatures and even worse wind chills and snow.  What a blessing it is to be able to look ahead and to be ready when the storm hits! 

Some of you know that I have been reading and studying through the book of Numbers.  This book isn’t exactly known for super passages full of encouragement, but I have discovered, with the help of Raymond Brown’s book The Message of Numbers, that there are indeed many blessings and promises in this often-neglected book.

I finished Numbers yesterday.  The last verse was amazing, and I wanted to share it with you today.

“These are the commandments and the ordinances which the Lord commanded to the sons of Israel through Moses in the plains of Moab by the Jordan opposite Jericho.”  (Numbers 36:13)

I believe I know what you’re thinking.  Nothing in that verse reaches out and grabs you, does it? 

But don’t be so quick to assume that this is just another dry verse from a rather dry book.

All throughout the book of Numbers, God had given His people commands to obey in order to survive the trip through the desert – but more importantly, in order to live victorious lives.  Their lives would only be successful if they obeyed God.  It was a lesson they learned over and over as they left Egypt and entered the desert. 

Obedience brought victory and blessing.

Disobedience brought defeat and curses.

Now at the end of this book, after taking care of matters concerning land distribution and inheritances, there stood the nation of Israel on the east side of Canaan. 

They stood in the plains of Moab, and what was ahead?

God had confirmed his commandments “…by the Jordan opposite Jericho.”

God had given them so many victories over their desert wanderings…so many lessons learned…so many providences. 

Then He confirmed all His final commands to His people whom he loved when there, just ahead, were two HUGE difficulties. 

The Jordan River, in flood stage and impassable.

Jericho, a well-fortified city that far outweighed any hope of defeat by a nation that had no real army.

God had given Israel the land upon which they now stood, but up ahead were seemingly impossible situations.

What was the key to victory? 

Obedience.  God’s presence was with them and His power was theirs if they but simply obeyed Him. 

The Jordan River parted.  Jericho fell.  The stories are so fascinating in the book of Joshua.  But the key, always, was for Israel to obey God.

“How could anybody possibly convey this huge contingent of nomadic people across that fast-flowing river, and how could an untrained army capture a well-fortified city like Jericho?  The secret was in total obedience.  Neither barrier was to be overcome by intellectual skills, geographical proficiency, crowd manipulation, army intelligence or military strategy.  Two doctrinal factors prompted their obedience:  God’s presence and God’s power.”  (Raymond Brown)

What is ahead of you today? 

Have you been walking in life, doing the best you can to obey God and live right?

But are you now looking ahead to a forecast that is anything but encouraging?

What huge thing in your life is looming ahead, causing you to lose sleep and to feel fear? 

Whether our issues are national in scope, or personal in nature, each of us has plenty to keep us anxiously glancing at what is ahead on our horizons.

Please know that God’s presence and His power are fully yours if you know Him, and if you are obeying Him step by step, day by day.

God has not brought you to an impassable river to watch you drown.

And He has not brought you to a strongly walled city to watch you die.

You may be standing near…or in…some very tough situations.  But like Israel as they stared at Jordan and Jericho, listen to what God says to you:

“Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous!  Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  (Joshua 1:9) 

Look in God’s eyes as you listen to Him, not over His shoulder at your Jordan and Jericho that are looming large. 

Be strong in God’s strength and rest in His presence. 

Let God do the fighting and trust Him for the finish!   

Too Much Love!

I guess the best way I could describe Aaron and the subject of love is this: 

Aaron holds love at a distance, admiring the concept but not wanting or able to become too involved in the process.

Welcome to how autism colors every single aspect of Aaron’s life, and therefore ours as well…or anyone who is associated with Aaron.

Valentine’s Day has been on Aaron’s mind since soon after Christmas when all the red hearts and cute stuffed animals and boxes of candy appeared on store shelves.  Aaron flits from one shelf to the next, holding up items and laughing as he very loudly says, “MOM!!  Look at this!!  Can I have it??!!”

It’s all great fun as he zooms around finding lots of treasures.  This idea of love is safe as Aaron, ever hopeful about his quest for “things,” attempts to score a bag of candy or a cute trinket to tuck away in his room.

Aaron does love showing love, but on his terms.  Aaron’s terms are dictated by his inner workings and thoughts, deeply affected by the effects of autism. 

At our local Dillon’s just down the road, we have come to know Jody.  She is a joy with a warm and loving heart.  Jody has personal family connections to special needs.  She has come to know Aaron and loves to interact with him.  Jody knows that sometimes Aaron enjoys buying flowers there that he gives to certain people, often ones in his day group, Paradigm.

One recent day, when I was in Dillon’s without Aaron, Jody asked me if I thought that Aaron would like to give flowers to his friends at Paradigm for Valentine’s Day.  Dillon’s donates flowers to all sorts of local places like hospitals, nursing homes, etc. 

I thought that was a wonderful idea, so we made our plan.  Barb, Paradigm supervisor and second mom to Aaron (though she’s too young to be his mom!), gave me numbers, and Jody did the ordering, and Aaron and I did the picking up. 

Perfect, right?

Wrong.

Aaron and I were eating lunch after our Meals on Wheels delivery the day before the flower pick-up and delivery.  The day before the big Valentine party at Paradigm.

Aaron does not handle parties and celebrations well…at all. 

Aaron does not handle expectations well…at all.

“Mom?” he began as we ate our lunch, “you make me feel like you think I need to be in love with the clients.”

I knew we were in trouble with all this business of flowers and parties and LOVE.

I explained, much more than once, over the remainder of that day about the purpose of the flowers.  I knew I was fighting an uphill battle, though.

I especially knew this when yesterday morning, Valentine party and flower delivery day, Aaron stood by my desk early…eyes droopy with sleep…and spoke his first words of the morning:

“Mom, I feel embarrassed by this love thing.”

Sigh.

Over the course of the morning, I told him that I would take the flowers…that he didn’t need to go…that it was fine for him to stay home from all the party stress…and so forth and so on.

But no, Aaron felt compelled to go…to give this difficult day a try.

Later, as we picked up the big box of beautiful roses from the Dillon’s florist, one of the ladies there very happily looked at us and said:

“You’re delivering some LOVE!!!”

Bless her heart, she had no idea.  I don’t think she heard Aaron’s reply.

“No!!” he simply said.

But that simple reply told SO much!

I made it to Paradigm with grouchy overloaded Aaron.  He was showing anything but love, except to Barb when he gave her a gift he had made.  He managed a smile for a picture.

He fell on the floor when he backed up into a friend in a wheelchair (neither were hurt).  But that certainly didn’t help his love feelings.  The party atmosphere was loud and just too much for Aaron, but it always is, so we left and headed home…with Aaron feeling terrible about the fall and the unmet expectations.

The flowers were beautiful and made the clients, especially the girls, feel loved and happy.

Aaron enjoyed seeing a picture of his happy friends that Barb sent.  But again, seeing it from a distance was best for him.

Gary and I took Aaron to lunch at a small local Asian restaurant nearby.  This made Aaron happy.  He processed the morning as he talked about it with us. 

He also made us laugh and laugh at his reaction to only having ONE fork.  To Aaron, one eating utensil is never enough!  This is Aaron’s norm:

But he handled that one fork very well, which was an accomplishment worthy of note to me and Gary. 

Small victories are pretty big to us. 

Aaron’s happiness is big, too. 

A trip to Wal-Mart after lunch.  Some Red Hots and a new game for Valentine’s Day.  All these things made Aaron very content and happy.

We know to do life Aaron’s way when we can.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. 

Seeing Aaron’s reaction to his one fork held a world of meaning to me and Gary. 

I’ll hold that in my heart on this Valentine’s weekend.

We love you, Aaron! 

Up close or from a distance, depending on Aaron – of course! 

HALT!!

Walking into Wal-Mart with Aaron is like opening a box of Cracker Jacks.  You never know what the surprise inside will be. 

I sure do have some Wal-Mart stories.  Like the Valentine nightie story.  Maybe I should share that one yet again since we’re in that time of the year.  And yes, Aaron has seen some sexy little lingerie hanging in our local Wal-Mart, but I gave him THE look and walked briskly away with him trailing behind before he could say more than:

“MOM!!  LOOK!!  BRAS!!”

I made a mad dash for the electronics section then since I knew Aaron would follow me there…because as much as he was fascinated with those BRAS, he does love those shelves full of games and movies. 

I almost always give Aaron a few instructions as we walk into Wal-Mart, especially if he wants to branch off on his own…heading to electronics, of course.  Or the snack aisle.

Aaron, don’t run.

Aaron, don’t make funny noises…and yes, that includes farting noises.

Aaron, don’t ask the Wal-Mart associate for help a dozen times.

Aaron, if you do ask the Wal-Mart associate for help, don’t begin by saying, “HEY!!!”

Aaron, not everyone wearing blue is a Wal-Mart associate.  Please don’t ask multiple random people for help.

There are a few other guidelines that I wish I had given Aaron in the past, but the past is in the past, right? 

Aaron, please don’t pull a box of cereal out of the lower row of that huge cereal display at the end of the aisle. 

Aaron, please don’t make the fox whistle, especially when there are multiple couples nearby…including men with big muscles, you know.

Aaron, please don’t keep flashing the peace sign at every security camera you see.

And this one especially:

Aaron, please don’t sing the last line of the last song you heard in the van.   Repeating “Man!!  I feel like a woman!!” over and over was a bit much for me. 

This past Friday, Aaron and I made our weekly Wal-Mart excursion and of course Aaron wanted to venture off in his own direction.  Soon, I saw him up ahead in the snack aisle.  He saw me coming and immediately he did this:

He just held his arm out there for the world to see…and they did. 

He did NOT want to be interrupted in his private quest for the best and the most snacks he could round up without Mom’s interference and unwanted input. 

Oh Aaron, you do make me laugh!

And at least you weren’t singing or whistling!!

Is God Gone?

The heaviness in my soul these past few weeks has been palpable.  As a Christian it’s been very difficult to see Biblical principles pushed aside in our country while rank sin is legislated with the stroke of a powerful pen.  Then if we don’t jump on board with this agenda, we are haters and racists and out of touch.  The changes just in two weeks are almost too much to comprehend. 

As I continue reading through the book of Numbers, I came to chapter 20.  Moses, Aaron, and Eleazar climbed Mount Hor while the children of Israel, full of foreboding, waited down below.  On the mountain, Aaron’s priestly garments were removed and given to his son, Eleazar.  Then Aaron died there on the mountain. 

The people’s priest was gone.  Yet God had provided His man, Eleazar, to continue His work.  God’s pledge to stay with His people and to accomplish His plan was being perpetuated. 

God did not forget His promise.  His sovereign purpose for His people would be carried out, even though Aaron had now died.

This simple phrase written by Raymond Brown jumped off the page to me in the early morning as I read this story in Numbers: 

“ONLY AARON HAD LEFT THEM, NOT GOD.”

What an amazingly simple yet profound comfort this truth has been to me during these sad and hard days.  We feel bereft and abandoned, scared of what the future holds for us as believers in this culture, and angry at the sin that we see being promoted by our leaders. 

There were many true followers of Christ in the past administration.  Open Bibles were commonly seen on their desks.  Prayer, hymn singing, and Bible studies were routine in the White House.  Now that is all gone, and our spirits are stirred within us at the open endorsement of sin that we are witnessing every day…some of which we will be paying for with our tax dollars.  Open sin instead of open Bibles.

BUT…God is NOT gone.  God is still accomplishing His perfect plan.  He is with His people, each of us, as we wake up each day and seek to live godly lives in a most ungodly culture. 

Let’s take each day and each moment with that thought in our minds and hearts.  God is not gone!  He is here with His people just like always, in our homes and our work and with His Church. 

God is not gone!  He is with us in our disappointments and our pain, our sickness and our fear, our good news and our bad news.

God continues His work, no matter our circumstances. 

So let’s be encouraged to be about His work…to be strong and courageous…to be voices of love and conviction…to share the gospel…and to be bright lights in this dark world.

Set It Aside

One morning shortly before Christmas, Gary and I sat down to eat breakfast with Aaron.  We were enjoying our eggs, sausage, and biscuits while listening to Aaron talk…always Aaron is talking! 

Aaron pushed back his chair and got up to get something from the kitchen – probably more napkins or silverware since one napkin and one set of silverware is never adequate in Aaron’s book.  I looked up then to see that Aaron had put his biscuit off his plate.  He had set it aside in order to keep his plate from being crowded and to keep the food from touching. 

We just left it there, choosing not to make that action an issue on this pleasant morning.  Aaron has his particular ways.  And Gary and I have learned to choose our battles carefully because disrupting Aaron’s ways can leave a trail of anger and frustration for all of us…and many times, it’s just not worth it.

Such is our life with autism, this matter of what to set aside and what to put back on the plate.

I had a full plate of Aaron issues last week.  We had unaccounted money gone from Aaron’s wallet, which means he probably gave some away at his day group.  He knows better, but he has a very hard time resisting the urge to share his money with his friends.  Therefore, he has become quite adept at not telling the truth, which was another issue we had to handle with Aaron.

Aaron became so frustrated that on Wednesday, he erupted in anger and tears at his day group.  He called me on the phone several times…he threw his shoe and his glasses…he yelled…and all in all was just extremely unhappy. 

His coat also got torn on both sides.  Aaron said that was done in fun as he and another client chased each other.  Either way, Wednesday was a rough day in more ways than one.

On Friday night, shortly after midnight, Aaron had the first of four seizures…the last one being at 6:40 Saturday morning.  I was fixing his favorite salad that morning, hoping he could enjoy it for supper as I hauled his wet bedding down the stairs and then helped him get settled on the couch for more sleep…and hopefully no more seizures. 

Bless his heart.  He can’t help his behaviors any more than he can help his seizures.  Yet while his seizures touch my heart, sometimes his behaviors do quite the opposite.

I thought about his biscuit as I was processing all that happened last week.  What do I set aside, and what do I keep on my plate?

I need to set aside resentment and anger, which is not always easily done.  Living full time with Aaron can take a toll on me and on Gary.  But God has led us to this life, and we know that He will keep us where we need to be if we just focus our eyes on Him and not on our circumstances. 

I must set aside selfishness.  Mending Aaron’s coat…taking him to have his bent glasses adjusted…washing his bedding and clothes…listening to his explanations over and over and over…  All these are actions that take my time and energy.  As any caregiver knows…as any parent knows…selfishness and service do not mix.  One must go off the plate.

Fear is another thing that needs to go.  Aaron’s seizures make my heart leap with fright for an instant.  I don’t think one ever gets used to them.  His future, too, can cause my heart to fear.  But again, I know that this path we walk is not alone.  God is with us each step and He has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind. 

Now what do I keep on my plate?  I keep the reminder of God’s great faithfulness.  I keep His Word in my heart.  I am mindful of His grace for each day and each moment.

I keep humor nearby, always.  A cheerful heart is the best medicine, like God said, for me and for Aaron, even when Aaron gives me a blank look when I think I’m very funny.  😊 

 I also count my blessings!  My plate overflows with blessings if I but look around me.  For instance, on Saturday I was very thankful for the blessing of a washer and dryer instead of a bucket and a clothesline.  Thankful for a warm house, food to eat and to fix for Aaron, and thankful that Aaron could eat some bacon and eggs later that morning.   And Aaron, who loves using multiple napkins, decided that the grease on his fingers could not wait for his napkin.  His eyes shot over to me as he wondered if I saw what he just did. 

“I was wiping a grease of bacon on my pants,” he seriously informed me.”

There’s the humor!!  😊 

Thankfulness, too, for Aaron’s amazing way with words.  After all, that’s a big reason I started writing this blog and named it He Said WHAT?!

And there is yet another blessing!  All my readers mean more to me than I can express. 

See how it goes?  My plate is filling up with good stuff, none of which I want to set aside. 

Time to taste and see that the Lord is good!

Aaron’s Talking Points #12

It’s high time I shared more of Aaron’s fun (or sometimes not!) way of viewing his world. Enjoy!

I took my bracelet off in the van on our way to Aaron’s day group this morning because I didn’t think it matched the red in my blouse. Within three seconds of taking it off, Aaron had it on. When we pulled up to Paradigm, he jumped out of the van faster than greased lightning! He didn’t want me to make him take the bracelet off. Here’s the picture that Barb sent me. HaHa!

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Aaron was excited to tell me what he did today at Paradigm. It involved a Spangles hamburger, but he was also glad to help buy things for group homes at Sam’s.

Aaron: Mom!! Today I went to Sam’s with Amy!

Me: You did? What did you buy?

Aaron: Things for group homes. And we stayed a LONG time! Like til 1:09!!

Me: Really? It wasn’t 1:10?

Aaron: No!! It was 1:09!!

Me: Not 1:10?

Aaron: No! We stayed til 1:09.

This conversation never gets old and never ceases to make me laugh. 😁

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Aaron was talking about the drive home from his group today. “Mom, our driver missed the first two road spaces to our house!” Well, I guess turning off on the third road space was a charm because he made it home.

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Aaron was talking again yesterday about the girl in his group who likes him, so I told him to tell her that they could be friends without her having to be his girlfriend. Later he said, “Mom, I’m going to keep those words inside of me.” In other words, he doesn’t want to tell her that because he likes this situation! Oh boy!

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There was one piece of pizza left so I offered it to Aaron, although I asked him if he minded that I had taken a bite out of it. His reply: “Well, just so I don’t get your germs. I don’t want to become bossy!” Now I’m wondering who I caught MY bossiness from!

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Aaron was a little sad when I picked him up one day last week. It seems that his good friend was having a bad day…as many of the clients sometimes do, including Aaron…and she had hit Aaron. He talked and talked about it over the weekend.

He and I were in Dillon’s on Saturday, and we passed through the beautiful flowers in the florist area.

“MOM!!” Aaron blurted. “Can I get N some flowers because she hit me??”

At first, I laughed, but as I thought about it I realized what he was really saying. He wanted N to feel better, so he thought flowers should help. He was willing to give his friend something sweet even though she had been mean to him.

This sure has given me something to think about the last few days, and it’s not just that maybe if I hit Gary then he’ll bring me flowers. 😉 Aaron has focused my thinking far deeper than that, as he often does. 💕

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We got Aaron a new bed. It’s bigger than his old bed so we’ve cautioned him about bumping his legs on the end of it. He’s done very well with all the changes, including putting his night stand with all his “stuff” on it on the OTHER side of his new bed.

Tonight at supper, Gary asked Aaron how he slept last night.

“Good,” Aaron answered. “But the edge of that bed keeps hitting the edge of my leg!”

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Aaron: Mom, Jackson gassed. Can you smell it?

Me: No, I can’t smell it.

Aaron: I think you can smell nothing. I think something’s wrong with your nasals.

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Aaron’s EEG went well. I don’t know when we’ll get results. As we left on the elevator we wondered what time it was & so I quickly looked at Aaron’s wristwatch. I said, “Oh, it’s 10:45.” You know what’s coming, don’t you? Aaron then looked at his watch & said, “No. It’s 10:46.” I wonder if people could hear the laughter coming out of the elevator. And Aaron can’t figure out why on earth I think that’s funny!

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Aaron: “It’s cold! Does that mean it’s half-winter?” A new season has begun!

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Gary and I returned home after being away this weekend. Aaron was doing his usual talking, then paused as he remembered something important.

“MOM!! WAIT!! I got you something!!”

He ran up to his room and came back with a beautiful pouch that our friend Terri had helped him buy for me. Aaron was super excited as he handed it to me and said:

“MOM!! This is for you, but if you don’t want it then I can keep it!!!” 😁😁

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Aaron has been very happy that Gary and I were planning a trip to Topeka. “No parents!” he says. Yesterday he asked what time we were leaving, and I told him we were leaving at 3:00. “Can’t you leave early?” he asked. “Like 2:59?” 🙂

By the way, we left at 2:52. We showed him!

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Aaron and I are watching Rocketeer. When the girl hit the bad guy over the head with a vase, Aaron said, “She bonked him into sleep, right?” HaHa!

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Aaron saw a bowl of whole, uncapped strawberries on the kitchen counter and so he grabbed one to eat. He carried it over to me and said, “Mom, can you cut the flower off the top?”

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Aaron, watching Laura Ingalls at the fair on Little House on the Prairie as she tried unsuccessfully to find the coin under the shell: “She has UNLUCK!!” 😆😆

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Aaron pulled a muscle in his leg a few days ago. He’s been limping around but is better today. Still, it’s bothering him that this mysterious thing happened.

Aaron: Mom, I feel like I’m getting old!

Me: You’re not old!

Aaron: I’m 34!!!

Me: 35. You’re 35.

I’ve always had the gift of encouragement. 🤪😁😁

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Today our dear friend, Terri, spent some time with Aaron while Gary and I were out. They went to lunch, walked around a lake and saw ducks and geese and a snake, went to see Terri’s bird, and just had fun. Aaron totally enjoyed it. But as usual, Aaron has his own take on things.

Aaron: Mom, I don’t think Terri looks like the kind of woman who should be watching over me.

Me: What on earth do you mean?

Aaron: Well, she looks like a Grandma! 😅😅🤷‍♀‍

Terri, you meant it when you said you think Aaron’s funny, right?

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Aaron: “Mom, are cashews normal nuts?”

 Me: “What’s a normal nut?”

Aaron: “Nuts that aren’t cashews.”

 I need to sit awhile and think about this.

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Just awhile ago Aaron said, “Mom, someone in my group told me that eating pears will put hair on your chest. Is that true?”

Me: “Well, Aaron, I’ve eaten plenty of pears.”

Aaron: “But girls aren’t ALLOWED to have hair on their chests!”

I cannot tell you how relieved I am right now!

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Aaron and I are sitting on the front porch enjoying this beautiful evening. A neighbor that we don’t know real well came walking by with her dog. She spoke and I spoke, which Aaron saw as his wide-open door.

“HEY!!” he loudly yelled. “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE VOLCANO??!!”

She was a trooper and answered him. while he vigorously rubbed his hands together, totally delighted.

He’s just hilarious!!! So random!! 🤣🤣

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I’ll be back with more another day, of that I am certain! 🙂 🙂

Giants, Grasshoppers, and Grapes

I sat in stunned disbelief last Friday evening as the latest news was being broadcast.  As if the whole week wasn’t bad enough, now there were reports of big tech wrapping their tentacles around people whom they deemed unworthy of using their services.  Deleting accounts…removing followers…attempting to destroy a new social network…silencing thousands who didn’t tow the line that they have declared to be the only sanctioned “truth.”

Clearly, the stage is being set for followers of Christ to be “lawfully” declared as enemies of society and enemies of the government. 

Scary times, for sure.  Full of uncertainty and fear.  Pandora’s box seems to have been opened and evil is spewing out unchecked.

And that evil is being celebrated, legislated, and expected to be accepted by all…or else.

Else what?

Therein lies the question.

We’re not sure of the answer, but current events don’t bode well for conservatives and Christians.

I read something last week, though…an old story that gives me and every Christ follower great comfort and hope.

That story is in the Bible book of Numbers, which I am studying.  The children of Israel had been delivered from Egypt by God.  They had seen His protection in their deliverance and the working of so many amazing miracles.  Now He affirmed to them His promise to give them the land He had marked for them.  God told Moses to select 12 men to spy out the land and come back with a report to the people.

The 12 spies did just that.  They returned to the camp carrying a huge cluster of grapes along with other fruit, evidence of God’s promises to be true.  The land WAS flowing with milk and honey.  The land was very fruitful.  What God said was true!

BUT…there was a problem.  There were fortified cities, for one thing.  And giants!  Huge strong men who terrified the spies.

Ten of the spies focused on the giants. 

“We became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight!” they declared.

But Caleb and Joshua chose to focus on God and on His promises, many of which had already been fulfilled. 

“We should by all means go up and take possession of the land,” they told the people, “for we shall surely overcome it.”

The people listened to the ten spies, though, as they fixated on the giants.  Caleb and Joshua urged them to listen to God…to obey…to not fear…to not rebel against God.

But fear overruled the day and therefore God caused them to wander in the wilderness for forty years instead of taking the land right then that He had promised to give them.

I think Christians today are feeling a bit like grasshoppers as we look around us at those who hate our beliefs and hate our God.

There sure are lots of giants today. 

Tech giants…political giants…media giants – to name a few.

How far will they go in this new administration to enforce their new world system? 

What will that mean for those of us who can’t Biblically agree with that system?

We’re not sure yet, but it’s not looking very rosy.

Everyone I talk to is concerned and burdened and feeling great heaviness after the events of this past week…and even longer, actually.

So, we have a choice to make.  Are we going to look at the giants or at the grapes?

Are we going to feel like grasshoppers? 

Or are we going to remember and claim the fact that all of us who know Christ have all of God’s promises…and God Himself?

            “…God has given us His very great and precious promises…”  (II Peter 1:4)

God is here to help us in our uncertain future.  He hasn’t brought us here just to strand us all alone.  The God of our past is the God of our present, and the God of our unseen future.

“The God Who is meeting our present needs will not deny us His future provision.”  (Raymond Brown)

We have only to look in our own lives to see the fruit of God’s presence with us.  His peace and joy in our hearts is ours as we focus on Him and not on the giants of this crazy, sinful world.

No matter what may be ahead for us, God has promised to be with us every step of the way.  He will give us grace and strength for whatever is in our future.

So even if we feel like little grasshoppers, let us remember that we serve a giant of a God!

From Bliss to Brokenness

Today’s answers to prayers don’t guarantee a carefree tomorrow.

He Said What?!

On Monday, November 6, of last year…..yes, 2017 is – as of today – LAST year!!  Anyway, on that day last year our washing machine loudly died.  I mean, the noises coming from the bathroom/laundry room were downright scary.  I remember that date because two days later, November 8, was Aaron’s birthday.  Gary and I met at Lowe’s after he got off work on Tuesday night, where we found our dream machine, got it ordered, and were told that delivery would be on Thursday.

Thursday was the day we were having two of Aaron’s favorite friends over for a birthday supper, so I knew I would be home most of the day as I got things ready.  It was also the day that Aaron woke up in a very wet bed, so it became the day of a huge mound of wet bedding piled near our dead washing machine, waiting…

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Don’t You Remember?

One of the many side effects of Aaron’s seizures and even of some of his seizure meds is memory loss.  It makes me sad to see it sometimes. 

Gary and I took Aaron out to eat the other day.  While eating, I got a text saying that his day group would be re-opening on Monday.  I was sharing with Aaron the names of some of his friends that he would get to see again.  At the mention of one of his friends, Aaron’s face was blank. 

I was surprised because just last week Aaron had facetimed with her.  Yet his forgetfulness was genuine just a short time later. 

As I get older (and older and older 😊), I find myself often saying, “Remember when…?”  Gary and I do this at times, remembering events and situations of the past, sometimes with joy and at other times with regret.

There is an incident recorded in the book of Numbers…the book I am now studying…that has impacted me this week and which I want to, well, remember. 

The children of Israel had traveled for a year in the wilderness.  In chapter 11, we find them complaining about their lack of good food.  They remembered all the variety of foods in Egypt, forgetting their horrible life they lived there as they ate that food.

They begged for meat, so God told Moses that He would give them meat.  Then Moses seemed to have memory loss as he questioned just how on earth God would be able to supply so much meat for so many people.

Are you kidding me?!

Moses had seen miracle after miracle, and he dared wonder how God could manage to find meat in the desert?

Actually, Moses asked God how he…Moses…was to get the meat.  Moses left God out of the picture.

Moses was run down, discouraged, tired, burdened. 

Pretty much like we feel today. 

Here we are, on the first day of a new year, trying to summon hope in the middle of our burdens.

2021 must be better than 2020, right?!

It HAS to be!!

We can’t handle anymore stress in our world and in our homes!

But I think that deep down we all know that we are entering this new year staring ahead at huge problems that still loom large. 

That’s why God’s answer to Moses is a HUGE promise to each of us who know and follow God.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s power limited?  Now you shall see whether My word will come true for you or not.’  (Numbers 11:23)

Another version of what God said was this: “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”

That phrase brought to mind the fact that Pharaoh was said to be the possessor of a strong arm.  Yet God defeated Pharaoh with His much stronger arm.

Remember, Israel?

Remember all the plagues and the miracles?

Remember the exodus from Egypt?

Remember the parting of the Red Sea?

How could they forget?!

Yet I am no different.  How can I so often forget what God has done and what He has promised, to ME?

I have been challenged by others to have a word for this year.  And so my word is:

REMEMBER

Primarily, to remember just who God is and that His arm is strong and is long enough to carry me and help me and protect me.

To REMEMBER God’s past answers to prayer.

To REMEMBER His promises to me in His Word.

To REMEMBER Who He is, and how He never changes.

God’s arm is never shortened, and His power is never limited.

So may I…and all of us…remember.

This new year here in our neck of the woods has begun beautifully.

May I allow God’s beauty to permeate my heart every day in the uncertain times ahead as I…

REMEMBER!

This Gift Has My Name on It!

Gary and I were sitting beside our decorated tree one night before Christmas.  We were not alone for long, as is so often the case.  Aaron soon joined us.  He was, of course, drawn to the presents under the tree.  His observant eyes had seen his name on a gift!

“Look!!” he exclaimed, “this gift has my name on it!” 

His childish delight made us smile.

His childish delight is, in fact, a gift to us.

Yet there are other aspects of who Aaron is that we would not describe as a gift.  Maybe more as a burden?  An annoyance? 

We know that God gave us Aaron, and he is indeed the whole package.  It’s just that some of the contents of that package are not what we would have hand-picked. 

Am I being too blunt here?

This reality of God’s gifts to me carries over into every area of my life.  Gary and I had been married for five years before we had a baby…Aaron.  We prayed for a baby.  God gave us Aaron.

Do I really trust God in this answer to our prayers?

So many times in my life I have prayed over some matter…some decision…some issue.  But sometimes God’s answers are not what I would have chosen.

Oh, they may seem wonderful at the time but later the gift might turn sour. 

What happened?

How easy it is, then, to play the guessing game.

Maybe if we had moved there instead of here.

Maybe if we had joined that church instead of this church.

Maybe if we had raised our children in this way instead of that way.

Maybe…maybe…maybe.

Yet if I am walking with God in obedience, and I am praying for direction, I must trust that the way He leads is best and for a reason.

Good reasons, always.

But not always easy.

I must reach out and take God’s gifts to me with trust.

The children of Israel knew that God led them miraculously out of Egypt.  No one could doubt that.  But then it wasn’t long before they disobeyed God.  Even the manna God provided to them became a source of discontentment and complaint. 

Soon the Israelites were comparing their present lot with the life they used to have in Egypt, creating more unhappiness and grumbling.

I do that, too.  I pray…I take God’s gift of an answer…and then when things get hard, I fight the tendency to complain and to compare.

If only I had what they have…lived where they live…got to go where they go…blah, blah, blah.

Such a trap!

This morning, I read the answer to this dilemma in my life:

“Let all who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; and let those who love Your salvation say continually, ‘Let God by magnified.’  (Psalm 70:4)

I must keep my eyes on God in every area of my life. 

My gladness and contentment is in God alone, not in the events of my life – good or not so good.

So, when I reach out and take God’s gifts to me, may I not focus on the gift so much but instead may my eyes stay on the Giver of the gifts. 

That’s easy to do when the gift is fun and happy.

But I must understand that some gifts are not fun and happy.  Some are hard and sad. 

Yet on each gift, I see the tag.

To:  Patty

From:  God

Thank you, God, that every gift from You is good and perfect.  You didn’t say they were easy and fun. 

Help me to trust You.

“Look!  This gift has my name on it!!”