Tucked Away Promises

I woke up yesterday morning to the faint sound of thunder, so I went first thing to my favorite window and saw this:

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What a beautiful sight any time of day, but to me a special morning blessing!  It only got better a short time later when I went outside and saw a faint second rainbow in the sky.

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Before long, the lightning got brighter and the thunder was louder.  Then came the rain.

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And after the rain, our rainbows reappeared.

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The same scenario repeated itself as soon more rain fell.

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I was up and down, inside and outside, and enjoying the rain with Gary as we watched from inside the garage.  Some of the lightning was close and scary.  Some of the thunder was loud and unsettling.  But we were safe.  And we were thankful for the rain, which brings growth and nourishment to our yard and gardens.

I was especially touched as I read once again the verses from Psalms that I had just read the day before:

“But as for me, I will sing about Your power.  Each morning I will sing with joy about Your unfailing love.  For You have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.”  Psalm 59:16

The rainbow that I first saw reminded me of the fact that it’s vital for me to have a grasp of God’s promises before the storms hit.  It’s so important for me to have that knowledge of what God has to say to me, found in the Bible, tucked into my brain and my heart.

I need to be reading His Word, remembering His promises, and learning WHO God is…..and doing this every day.  Days add up to weeks, then months, then years.  Looking into His Word, listening to God, talking to Him……just like looking up every morning and seeing a beautiful rainbow that catches my eye and grabs my attention.  That’s what I need to be doing with God’s Word.

Then one day…..BAM!!!  The storm hits, in whatever form that takes, and even though the beauty of the rainbow may be hidden by clouds, I can still trust that it’s there.  I can still trust that God is there, with His promises that are highlighted in my Bible and hidden in my heart.  I don’t need to be afraid, distressing and exhausting though my situation may be.  That’s because I’ve gotten to know God intimately over those days and weeks and months and years.

Not it’s time to put into practice what I’ve put away.  It’s not the power of positive thinking.  It’s the power of God’s promises…..of God Himself!!  He will give me comfort and safety in the storms.  He will be my place of safety in my distress.

And I could also sing this old wonderful hymn this morning in church:

          Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,

          Sun, moon, and stars in their courses above.

          Join with all nature in manifold witness,

          To Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

          Great is Thy faithfulness!

          Great is Thy faithfulness!

          Morning by morning new mercies I see.

          All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.

          Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

At the end of the day, I can see God’s hand all over my life.

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The Yo-Yo Life

Aaron had some seizures last night.  We think he only had two.  At least that’s all we heard.  But boy, is he ever out of it today!  It’s amazing how sometimes he bounces back quickly after seizures, and at other times he’s totally wiped out for a day or two.  I can only imagine what they do to his brain……physically, mentally, emotionally.

Throw in a dash of autism, stir the pot, and BOOM!!

Poor Aaron! 

It’s amazing, too, when you look at it in pictures.  Here is Aaron on Friday when I picked him up from his day group.   

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He had seen Spiderman, but even more important to him at that moment were the Sycamore seed pods he had found and couldn’t wait to show me……and later to show Gary.  Leave it to Aaron to find what to him is most unusual, but to us is very usual, and then to make sure that we see that object through his eyes.  He’s pretty cool that way.  Just look at the delight on his face!

He makes us stop and see things his way.  Sometimes it’s great fun…..and other times, it’s greatly frustrating. 

Anyway, compare Friday to today.  He got up late this morning, dreary and slow from the seizures.  He seems to have pulled a muscle in his right arm, which was hurting him.  But he saw the Sunday morning coupons and so readied his usual coupon area for the job he always does, seizures or not.

Except this morning his body just wouldn’t cooperate.  This is how he ended up, coupons and coffee untouched.

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A couple hours later we heard him getting off the couch.  He decided to cut the coupons and drink his coffee.  I checked on him shortly and here is what I found.

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It wasn’t another seizure.  He’s just very tired today from the ones last night.

He woke up again awhile later, ready once more to try clipping coupons.  I heated his very cold coffee, which he drank while he read the Sunday comics.  Then he asked for his fuzzy blanket and his fuzzy pillow, and wondered if he could lay on the big couch.  He was only down for a few minutes before realizing that he just wasn’t sleepy anymore, so he got up and began the coupons that had been waiting all this time. 

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I tell you all of this so you can catch a glimpse into how seizures affect both Aaron and us.  Our day revolves around Aaron’s needs when things are normal, but when he is having a rough day physically then we must stop what we have planned and be here for him.  Gary and I can tag team on a weekend like this, but when it happens during the week then I must often change my plans in order to be with Aaron.  And sometimes Aaron has missed fun days, like movie days at Paradigm or other events, because of his seizures.

These days and these pictures are also an example of how Aaron’s life is full of ups and of downs, as all of us have, but which he cannot control, be it from seizures or from behaviors.  We saw it very clearly while on vacation last week, which I hope to write more about later. 

Happy moments…..angry moments……sad moments……fun moments, are all wrapped up in Aaron.  This is why I think of myself, and so many others with similar issues, as Yo-Yo Parents.  We get jerked around a lot, that’s for sure, but must always remember that God is the one in control even when we feel like things are out of control.  He orders our steps, including the ups and even the downs. 

And God comforts our hearts when we see the child we love having so many issues to overcome. 

I have so many reasons for which to be thankful, but none more than the fact that the God I know and love also knows and loves me, and Gary, and most definitely our Aaron. 

 

The Plans I Have For You

I think most of the nation has had a milder than usual winter.  Here in Kansas, we really haven’t had a winter to speak of.  Trees were budding, bushes were bearing leaves, and perennials were poking out of the ground in February!

I shouldn’t have been surprised…..but I was surprised……to walk past my front flower bed one day in February and look down to see that my Salvia had made an appearance.  There were fresh little green leaves sticking up through the ground, unaware that the month was only February.  Salvia don’t look at calendars.  They only respond to the warmth of the sun and the mildness of the nights.

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Something occurs deep underground, in their roots, that awakens them and urges them to respond.  It’s God’s miracle of growth, not tied to the month of the year but to the environment around them.  And even though that environment can at times be harsh still at this time of year……at any time of year, really……their roots stir under the right conditions and so they grow.

I was tempted on that February day to lean over and clear off all the dead leaves that looked like a hindrance to the Salvia’s growth.  But I left the leaves for insulation against the cold nights, and the snow that I knew could still come.

I’ve watched the progress of my Salvia over the past few weeks.  The picture from this morning shows how much growth has occurred.  The dead leaves, old mulch, and other clutter hasn’t prohibited my Salvia’s growth at all.  The perennial nature of this flower is alive and well as those new leaves push through all the mess around them.  It just faithfully grows and grows, quietly but strongly flourishing.

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This morning in my quiet time with the Lord I read some verses that are very familiar to many of us.  They are words spoken by God to the nation of Israel, recorded by the prophet Jeremiah.

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”   Jeremiah 29:11-13

These are verses of such encouragement and hope for all believers, not just for the nation of Israel during the time of Jeremiah.  But do you know where Israel was when God spoke these words to them?  They were being held captive in Babylon.  They were not in their home country, living freely, but were held as captive slaves in a harsh land far from all they knew and loved.

In the ten verses preceding these verses above, God had given some instructions to His chosen people through a letter written by Jeremiah and delivered to the exiles in Babylon.  God told the people to settle in to their new life in Babylon.  He told them to build houses and live in them; to plant gardens and eat their produce; to take wives and bear children; to increase and not decrease; and even to seek the welfare of their new city, praying to the Lord on its behalf.

You know how long God told them to be faithful in their captivity?  Seventy years.  SEVENTY years.

So when God then said that He knew the plans that He had for them……plans to give them a future and a hope……He also knew that this promise wasn’t coming to pass tomorrow.  He laid it out there for them.   He told them to live as He commanded and to be obedient to Him, even in their dire situation, for seventy long years.

God’s promise was given to them in the middle of less than ideal circumstances.   It wasn’t to be fulfilled immediately.  But while they waited, God wanted them to live their lives fully and faithfully to Him.

In fact, many of those Israelites would never see the promise come to pass.  They would die in Babylon.  Yet God still commanded them to be obedient and live the way He wanted.

How about us?  How does God want us to live every day?

He wants us to follow the example that He continually sets out there in His Word for us to see.  He wants us to be faithful to Him, to obey Him, and to grow no matter what is going on in our lives.

We may be going through awful times so full of grief and stress that we wonder how we can get out of bed every day.  God knows.  He understands.  He loves us.  He provides what we need.  He promises us a future and a hope.

But relief may not come today.  It may not come tomorrow.  Or the next day, or the next.  But like He told His people in Babylon, He says to you and to me today.  “Call upon Me.  Pray to Me, and I will listen.  For you will seek Me and you will find Me when you search for me with all your heart.”

It’s simple, really, but so difficult to do sometimes when our surroundings are bitter and hard and scary.  Call upon Him.  Pray.  Seek Him with all your heart.

Read His Word with an open heart to hear what He has to say to you.  Ask Him to lead your steps.  Obey what you know He tells you to do in His Word.

God will speak to you.  He will lead you to Himself.

And in the middle of your pain and your stress, you will grow.  Just like my Salvia in the middle of deadness all around it and the coldness of some nights…..still pushing through and growing, as God intended.

God loves you.  He truly does have a future and a hope for you as you follow Him, but not always…..in fact, seldom……without the suffering and sadness of this life.

But what a beautiful work He is doing in you and in me as we faithfully respond to His love and to His word in our lives!

So grow!  Grow where God has put you!

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New Year, Old Ways

A new year is upon us!!  Welcome, 2017!

A fresh start can be so nice.  New everything.  Out with the old, right?  Well, not always, as I have seen on the past two days.  We all know that to be true.

I ended my old year on a most familiar note…..playing SkipBo with Aaron right before bed.  I guess that’s our version of a party, which suits Aaron perfectly as he really does NOT like parties.  Parties have too much noise and emotion for him, thank you very much.  But SkipBo with Mom is orderly, predictable, with nice piles of sequential numbers, and plenty of opportunity to cheat.  Yes, cheat, of which Aaron is a master if not watched closely.

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The next morning, our New Year morning, saw Aaron blandly staring at me as I very happily wished him a Happy New Year!!  His lack of expression at these moments is often hilarious, but I can’t always laugh because he finds that emotional expression irritating or he thinks I am laughing at him.  Which at times I am, but in a good way that he just wouldn’t understand.

Anyway, Aaron’s main concerns on our New Year morning were:

1)      Can I have FOUR cups of coffee?  (Don’t worry.  The cups are half full).

2)      Are there coupons in the newspaper for me to cut?

3)      What time are we going to Chili’s for lunch?

Aaron had opened a gift during our family Christmas Bingo game.  The gift was a Chili’s gift card that was burning a hole in…..well, in my wallet because I don’t dare give Aaron gift cards to keep.  They won’t keep with him.  They will be lost or given away.

I told Aaron that we would go to Chili’s after church.  He wanted to know the exact time, so I gave him my usual ball park figure and he was happy.  He was not so happy with the coupons in the paper for some reason.  Still slow from his cluster of seizures on Friday night, the coupons did not make him show his usual sense of purpose.  However, he settled in on the floor with his coupon trash cans as he sat on his coupon pillow with his coupon scissors…..and his FOUR cups of coffee on the bench nearby…..and he began to clip the coupons, very slowly.

I was in the bathroom later when Aaron came to the door.  “Mom,” he slowly began.  “I was cutting coupons but there were too much.”

Pause.

“OK,” I responded.

Pause.

“There were too much,” he repeated.

“Yes, there were a lot today,” I replied.

Pause.

“There were too much coupons,” he said again.

Pause.

“There were too much,” he once again asserted when he got no Mom reply.

Pause.  Sigh from me.

“Aaron, just take a break.  You can finish them later,” foolish Mom said.

Pause.

“I ripped them,” Aaron flatly replied.

Pause.  Another sigh from me.

I was following Aaron’s train of thought, one all too familiar.  He didn’t want me to cut those coupons.

“Because you don’t do them right,” he continued.  “You don’t cut them straight on the line like I do.”

He made his exit on that note.  No surprise from me.  It might be a New Year, but we are still living in our old ways…..always, always.

And sure enough, there on the family room floor lay his unfinished little stack of coupons……ripped, just like he said.  Aaron’s thinking has always been this…..that if he can’t cut the coupons, NO ONE will cut the coupons.  Especially Mom, who is a dismal failure at coupon cutting.

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Those ripped coupons were a stark reminder to me that just under the surface with Aaron there is always that issue of how he handles stress in his life.  He reacts, and often his reactions are very inappropriate.  His behaviors are a huge concern to us.  So I stood there being reminded that we were on our first day of a brand New Year, brand new beginnings, brand new opportunities……and here we were, being slapped into our old reality of life with Aaron.

Some things just never change.  We know that.

But there were other reminders of wonderful things that never change, either.  Gary and I finally got to church on time.  Yes, we were one of THOSE people who totally didn’t see the memo on the changed time for church……one of THOSE people who didn’t give New Year’s Day a second thought…..and so on this New Year’s morning we drove to church TWICE.  And we laughed at ourselves.  We’re HOW old?!

Anyway, we walked into church to the hugs and handshakes of sweet friends.  And there was Joyce, who handed me a bag containing a huge bag full of Tootsie Rolls…..for Aaron, because of my recent Tootsie Roll blog.  How unexpected and sweet, in more ways than one!  Later, Aaron was also surprised and full of smiles at this kind gift.

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The care of friends is unchanging in our lives.  Such a blessing!

The worship and the message on our New Year’s morning was encouraging and challenging.  And we sang one of my most favorite songs – Great is Thy Faithfulness.  What a wonderful reminder of God’s unchanging faithfulness in our lives!

And later, as we sat with Aaron at Chili’s, Gary and I watched him ever so slowly eat his enchilada lunch and his salad.  His joy at eating out was very evident.  Never changing, his love of restaurant food!  And seeing that joy is always fun for us, despite our constant reminders to him that he doesn’t need to take 17 toothpicks…..don’t stare at the other people and their food……don’t make noises…..don’t clap…..please don’t loudly stretch when you get out of the booth.

Never changing.

I was able to salvage a few coupons later from the ripped pages.  I didn’t let Aaron see me as I quickly cut them out behind his back.  And I know that we will continue to try to salvage good out of the bad days that Aaron will surely have this year.  It’s our reality with Aaron, New Year or not.

But through it all I know, like that favorite old hymn says, that God will remain the same, too.  Faithful to us, as always.

 

            Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

            There is no shadow of turning with Thee;

            Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;

            As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

 

            Great is Thy faithfulness!  Great is Thy faithfulness!

            Morning by morning new mercies I see.

            All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.

            Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me.

 

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Dad’s Bible

Eight years ago today we got the news that my Dad had stepped into heaven.  And for eight years before that, Dad had fought a hard fight against the cancer that eventually took his life.  So many stories of that time in our family…..so many memories of the month I spent with him and Mom before he died.  I’ve written much about it in the past.

This past Thanksgiving our family gathered in West Virginia, in our hometown.  Some still live there in Princeton.  Others had far to travel.  It was an epic gathering, really, and the first time many of us had seen each other in years.  Mom and Dad would have loved it, we all found ourselves saying over and over.  Wouldn’t they have been so happy that we did this?!

And look how we have grown.  This picture was taken in the mid-90’s.

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The below picture was taken this Thanksgiving.  Yes, we have multiplied!  And we were missing a few who weren’t able to come!

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We had a wonderful time, all too short, of hugs and laughter and lots of talking as we tried to catch up with each other.  The day was over all too quickly.  As nice as it was, though, I felt like something was missing.  It just didn’t feel the same.  I realized, as I thought about it, that the something missing was actually someone who was missing……Mom and Dad.

In the past they were the center of everything.  Stories…..laughter……teasing……singing.  So much of that revolved around them, and now for the first time this very important part of all our lives was gone.  That was the huge difference that I felt.  It just wasn’t the same, and I guess it just couldn’t be without Mom and Dad there as our focus.

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I’ve been thinking today about Dad on this anniversary of his death.  And remembering the very poignant part of our recent Thanksgiving meal when my brother, John, read to us out of Dad’s Bible.  He told us this story before he read Psalm 145.  In John’s own words:

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Regarding Dad’s Bible, it started on Thanksgiving of ’15, when I reached up to a shelf at home to get a Bible to read Psa 145 for our family.  I knew it was Dad’s Bible, but didn’t remember that he had carefully marked his daily readings with the dates on which he read each section (including the introductory notes and the 500 pages or so of study notes at the end).  When I looked at Psa 145, I noticed he had read it on Nov 26, 2000, exactly 15 years to the day before I was set to read it to my family.  There was something about that divine intervention that touched me very deeply.  When I got ready to read the same chapter to our family this year, the thought hit me to check his detailed medical journals to see what he was experiencing at the same time he was reading those passages of praise in Psalms.  He was right in the middle of his radiation treatments from his first bout with cancer.  He had already had the surgery to remove two-thirds of his right lung, and had already finished the grueling chemo treatments.  Now as he took radiation, he was circling verses like Psa 116:6, 116:15, 121:7, 126:3, 127:3-5, 131:2a. 138:8, and 139:16.  What a window into his soul to see the verses that God was using to comfort him, giving him hope and trust in the greatest challenge of his life.  And so characteristic of Dad, he was not talking with everyone about this.  It was a very intimate journey with his Lord that bolstered his soul as his body suffered.  I found myself thanking God for the man he was, and wishing I could talk with him about that journey.  I probably missed him more then than at any time since he had died.  What a treasure, though, to have that record of his triumphant faith in the midst of adversity.

 

Isn’t that amazing?  I’m so glad John shared that with us.  Dad’s “triumphant faith in the midst of adversity” never wavered as his body wavered and finally succumbed to this disease that we all hate.  Dad remained true to the Lord, to Mom, and to his family.

And now today we five children carry with us his heritage of faith, as do many of our children and grandchildren.  I’m so very thankful for that!  Of all the many things to be thankful for this past Thanksgiving Day, that would be one of the biggest.

We miss you, Dad, but we know we’ll see you and Mom again.  Thanks for showing us the importance of following Christ, and for living out your own faith so beautifully and consistently.

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Be A Ladybug!

Every year, Gary and I enjoy our little garden.  No two years are exactly the same.  Last year, for instance, I was hauling buckets of summer squash out of there every few days.  This year, so far, we have had four squash.  Not four buckets.  Just four squash.  Pathetic, I know.

But we have had buckets of cucumbers this year, so that makes me happy.  A couple tomatoes here and there as they slowly ripen; one lone spaghetti squash that has survived so far; some peppers; and always, thankfully, lots of okra.  Okra seems to do very well in our hot Kansas summers, no matter where in the garden we place it or how hot our weather is.  Okra is certainly a hardy crop for the conditions in which we live. 

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There are other reasons that I could say our okra does so well.  One is the tilling that Gary does, such as you see in this picture I took one Saturday after he had worked hard tilling the garden.  I also hand weeded the areas where the tiller couldn’t go, so the garden looked all clean and beautiful for awhile.

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Then there’s the ingenious sprinkler system that Gary designed.  There are three sprinkler heads placed on poles in the front of the garden, and three in the back.  Gary measured for all the pipes that were needed, glued, dug trenches, rigged up the hose and the timer…..it’s really pretty amazing, if you ask me.  And I love it because it turns on twice a day and I don’t have to lift a finger! 

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We also had our soil tested last year, and it showed that our soil is healthy.  That was nice to hear.  I bought bedding plants at a nursery that I trust, and we added some fertilizer into the holes as we planted each one.  With all of these things that we did, our okra have thrived and we’re enjoying every bite of fresh okra from our garden.

But I left out one part of their success……..a very important part, though it comes in a very tiny form.  These:

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Yes, ladybugs.  Every time I cut okra off the plants that are getting taller and taller all the time, I see my little miniature friends.  I call them friends because they work very hard as they help insure the success of our okra.  Ladybugs eat aphids, and so without the help of these little spotted bugs, our okra just might not live.  And if they did live, they might not thrive.  I can’t really see aphids, but I know they are there, sucking the life out of the healthy plants.  So our ladybugs quietly go about their business, eating the dangerous aphids and tremendously helping to insure that we have lots of delicious okra to enjoy. 

Ladybugs are cute, but they’re not really visible from far away.  We see the sprinkler system doing its watering.

We see and hear the tiller digging up weeds, giving us the results of almost weedless soil.

 But ladybugs?  They’re unobtrusive and very little and hardly seen at all, unless you get right down there in the midst of the leaves and really look.

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I had a sweet little Grandma that I think of when I see these ladybugs doing their quiet but valuable work.  She was little in stature…..I definitely get my shortness from her!  Grandma Hollandsworth….whom we later affectionately called Grandma Holly, or just Holly…..lived with my parents for 14 years.  Therefore, I spent lots of time with her and knew her very well.

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One of the most precious memories that all of us have of Grandma, I know, is the picture in our minds of what we sometimes saw when we passed by her bedroom in the mornings.  She would be sitting at the long built-in desk that lined her bedroom windows, her Bible open before her.  Her head covered in beautiful white hair would be bowed, and she would be praying.  She told us that she prayed for all of her six children every day……their spouses…..their children…..their children’s children…..and on it went.  It was quite a long list, believe me!  She would also pray for many others who were not family, faithfully and persistently.

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When Grandma would be taken to see the doctor, she would sometimes have to wait to be seen.  The doctor would come into the exam room, apologizing for making her wait, and Grandma would just smile and tell him that it was all right.  She told him that she used that time to pray for her family.  She had such a sweet testimony of being a praying Grandma.

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Grandma died when she was 99 years old.  She was actually praying when she died.  She was, at that point, in a care home. Her roommate heard Grandma asking the Lord to take her home.  Then there was a sharp breath and Grandma Holly was gone to heaven, just like that……while she prayed.  How perfect! 

We have always said that the thing we would miss the most about Grandma was her prayers for all of us.  We won’t know this side of heaven just how impacting her prayers were in our lives, nor the impact that her prayers are still having in our lives and the lives of family members that she never even knew. 

Grandma didn’t make a big show about her faithful prayer life.  She definitely never bragged about it or tried to draw attention to herself through her prayers.  She just quietly went about doing what she knew God wanted her to do.  And she prayed because she loved Him and she loved all of us. 

Scan0005Grandma was like my little garden ladybugs, just daily doing what she knew was right.  I wonder what difference her prayers have made in so many lives……what fruit her faithfulness is still producing today.

The prophet Zechariah, whose name means ‘Yahweh remembers,’ was one of the prophets who encouraged the returning exiles in Jerusalem to complete the temple.  The people were discouraged as they compared the smaller, simpler temple they built to the grandeur of the former temple.  But Zechariah told the people in Zechariah 4:10 to not “despise the day of small things.”

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit,” God said in verse 6. 

We tend to notice and value the big and the bright and the noisy.  But let’s not despise the small things……things like little ladybugs doing their work……things like a Grandma’s quiet but fervent prayers.

The smallest acts can produce the most beautiful fruit.

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God, Are You Listening?

Gary and I are far beyond the baby years, and we have no grandchildren yet, but we still sleep with a baby monitor beside us every night.  It sits on my nightstand as we listen for Aaron’s nocturnal seizures.  It sure is a handy tool to have!  Most of Aaron’s seizures are at night, in his sleep, so the monitor enables us to hear him and to go help him. 

Aaron never remembers his seizures, which is a blessing.  But he has seen others have seizures at his day group, so he has seen what they can be like.  And he is well aware of how he feels afterward, with a terrible headache or nausea or waking up in a wet bed.  Sometimes he loses his sense of taste for a day or two.    It’s a reality of his life that he accepts remarkably well……probably much better than I do.

In the last couple years, though, Aaron has shown a degree of fear concerning his seizures.  He’s not one to sit down with me or Gary and verbally express his fears.  But every single night as we go through his bedtime routine, he asks me two questions.

First:  “Mom, is it going to rain tonight?”  He just must know if it’s going to rain.

Second:  “Mom, are you turning the monitor on?” 

Sometimes I beat him to it and after our goodnight hug I answer those two questions before he can ask them. 

“Good night, Aaron.  Sleep good.  I’ll see you in the morning.  Love you!  And it’s not going to rain, and I will turn the monitor on.”

But if I’m going downstairs to fix the coffee pot or whatever, Aaron always says, “Do you want me to bring the monitor down to you?”

And on many nights, just for extra measure, we will hear Aaron walking up the hall and barging into our bedroom if the door isn’t locked.

“Mom, is the monitor on?  Is it on right now?” he asks.

Sometimes when I’m extra tired I get impatient with this routine, and then I feel guilty about it.  That’s because I know why Aaron is so concerned about that monitor.  I asked him about it once, knowing that my questions can put thoughts into his head, but still wanting to hear what he had to say.  So I asked him if he was scared of having a seizure, and he told me that he was.  We didn’t talk deeply about it, but his answer was enough to pull at my heart and make me think as I often do about how I would feel if I was in his shoes.  Seizures are definitely scary, and Aaron most definitely wants me or Gary there with him if he has one.  Of course he does.  I would feel the same way.

So every single night, and also for every single nap on days that he is home, I make sure he knows that the monitor is on and that I am listening.

The monitor did its job last night…..three times, actually.  Aaron’s first seizure was a little after 11:30, and then two more followed during the early morning hours.  He’s sleeping on the couch now – has been for a few hours since he woke up before 6:30 to discover his condition, change pajamas, and make his way downstairs.  He took his morning meds and went right back to sleep, waking up awhile ago to ask for his cups of coffee, and then back to sleep again.  Seizures take such a toll on his body.  They take a toll on my heart.

But this morning…….as God always, always does…….my heart was comforted by reading from the book of Psalms. 

“He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.”

I can hear me now. 

“God, do You have your monitor on?  Are you listening in case I need you?”

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And God, Who is always patient with me, tells me once again that He doesn’t slumber or sleep.  Did you know that “slumber” means “nodding off?”  Like I do sometimes while Aaron and I are watching Wheel of Fortune…….and then Aaron yells, “MOM!!!  You’re not watching!!!” 

But I don’t have to do that with God…..and neither does Aaron.  God won’t sleep deeply and He also won’t even nod off.  He’s standing by Aaron’s bed with me during every seizure.  Then He stands by my bed when I lay back down and try to go back to sleep, which is often hard to do.  He knows my fears for Aaron and He understands my hurt for him, but He also reminds me that His plan is sovereign……His plan is best……even if His plan isn’t understandable to me. 

It’s just really comforting to me to know that God never sleeps, even at night, and that He is beside me as I stand beside Aaron.  And when I feel uncertain and ask Him once again if He’s really there……if He’s really listening…….He just gently reminds me that He is always there and He is always listening.  

God’s just a very good Father to me and to Aaron, and to each of us who know Him.  Even if our view of Him is through our tears and our fears, we know that God is right there with us through it all.