Just Trying to Care

Aaron has recently been fixated on planets and stars and space and seeing pictures of all the above.  And when I say fixated, I am not speaking of a casual interest on Aaron’s part.  Aaron latches on to his current fixation like a tick on a dog.  He does not let go easily, and nothing deters him from researching every little minute detail of said fixation. 

He loves to include us in his latest quest for information, which means two things.  First, we must often look up something on the internet with him that he just MUST share.  Google is our friend.

Second, we must listen to Aaron talk and talk and talk and talk some more about all the facts he has learned.  He just knows that we will be as dumbfounded as he is about his latest find.

He really, really wants us to care as much as he cares.

Yesterday evening, then, found Aaron and I sitting on the couch together listening to Louie Giglio’s famous video, Indescribable.  It wasn’t AS full of planets and stars as he wanted, but it did contain some sounds from outer space that Aaron loved.  Aaron was particularly interested in the sounds that planets and stars make, so he was very happy to hear that part of Giglio’s sermon. 

All in all, the video was a wonderful reminder of God’s astounding creation of the universe.  Aaron and I both loved all the breathtaking pictures of stars and galaxies. 

After we were finished, I was in the kitchen lowering the blinds when I hit my elbow on the back of a chair.  I didn’t just hit my elbow.  I whacked it good!  The pain shot down my arm as I grabbed my elbow and bent over.  Aaron, who was standing nearby talking, kept talking until he noticed my obvious pain.  Then he wanted to know what had happened, in detail.

I didn’t want to talk.  I wanted to be left alone until the pain stopped.  So I briefly answered Aaron’s question about my elbow and moved to another room. 

“Mom!!” Aaron exclaimed, “you act like you don’t want me to talk!  I’m just trying to care!”

Well, that stopped me in my tracks.  I removed the arrow from my heart as I walked back to Aaron and thanked him for caring.  I tried to explain how the pain made me not want to talk as I let him know that I appreciated his concern.

This morning I continued reading slowly through the Psalm I am studying…Psalm 8.    The verses I was to read today were these:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is man that You take thought of Him, and the son of man that You care for him?   (Psalm 8:3-4)

These verses fit perfectly with all our talk here lately about space and planets and stars.  Well, Aaron’s talk about space and planets and stars.  Gary and I primarily listen.

Anyway, I just sat and looked at verse 4.  Who am I, God, that you care for me? 

And I thought of Aaron’s comment from the night before as I got irritated because of my pain. 

“I’m just trying to care!”

In my pain, I didn’t want to listen to Aaron…but he was trying to care.

It hurt him for me to not recognize that.

And I also thought of God and how much He cares.  God…Who created all the vast universe…cares about me? 

Yes, He does. 

I love that thought on most days, but when life isn’t going as I want…when I am in pain because of situations that hurt…I sometimes don’t exactly want to listen to God.

But then I hear God speak in verses like I read this morning and I am stopped in my tracks.  Humbled.  And so very thankful.

Like David, when I compare myself to the vastness of the far reaches of our universe, I am insignificant…a mere tiny speck.  But God cares…for me?

I love what Dale Davis says: “Only the condescension of God can hold together astronomical vastness and individual concern.”

God condescends in order to hold together His vast universe, but He also condescends to me out of His care for me.  God loves me.  ME!  I don’t know and can’t explain why He loves me, but I know that He does. 

Who am I that God would love me?   Why does God care?

Davis again says: “Why should a mere speck of dust on the light years of God’s calendar matter to Him?  David at least has no doubt that he does matter; he’s just baffled to bits over why.  When he says, ‘What is man?’, he is not asking a question but making an exclamation – he is really saying, ‘What a God!’  He is not posing a mental teaser; he is engaging in breathless praise.”

I didn’t want to talk to Aaron when I was in pain.  Likewise, I often don’t want to hear from or talk to God when my heart hurts, when life isn’t fair, when my world crumbles.

But He doesn’t quit caring.  And I know that He has a purpose for my pain…a purpose that is for my good in the long run. 

So may I, even through pain, give breathless praise to God for His thoughts of me and His care for me. 

Looking Back

Twelve years ago, our daughter was getting ready to graduate from college with a health sciences degree.  She wasn’t sure of what she should do after graduation, so a friend who had already walked that path told her to get her EMT license and work in an emergency room in order to gain some experience and some insight into the medical field.  She got her EMT license during her senior year of college. 

Shortly before our daughter’s graduation, my friend and I were at Sam’s Club shopping for a big church dinner.  We were standing at the cooler choosing heads of lettuce when another shopper joined us.  This other shopper was a caterer, and soon the three of us were talking away.  We found out as we chatted that she had a grandson with autism.  I told her about our Aaron, and off we went sharing some similar concerns.  I had noticed that this woman was wearing a work shirt from one of our large local hospitals, and embroidered on the front were the words, “ER Services.” 

I told her how my daughter sure would love to work at that ER and that she planned to apply soon.  This woman took out some paper as she asked me what Andrea’s name was.  She then gave me a phone number for Andrea to call as well as the woman’s name that Andrea should speak to.  When Andrea was able to call some time later, this woman said, “Oh yes, Andrea.  I have your file here on my desk.”  Andrea was so surprised!  “What file?” she thought.  Seems the woman I had met talked to this person and they started a file before even talking to Andrea.  It was amazing!  Andrea interviewed and got the job right away.

As time went on and several years passed, Andrea had gained much experience at that job as well as two others before being accepted into grad school.  She was finally sure that molecular biology/genetics was where she wanted to focus.  But it was easy to wonder if all the time and energy devoted to the ER and a doctor’s office was a waste.  But since that time, she has seen over and over that her clinical experience gave her advantages and opened doors that she never realized would happen. 

As believers and followers of Christ, we know that if we are walking in obedience to the Lord then nothing is a waste.  We know in our head that “ALL things work together for good.”  But sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that promise when the steps we’re taking are uncertain and even painful.  What we know in our head often doesn’t reach our hearts very easily. 

I liken it to looking ahead as we walk but seeing no clear path.  It reminds me of our walkway in our back yard.  In one direction there is no path.

But when I look behind me, I see how the bricks were carefully laid to make a clear walkway.

 We put one foot in front of the other as we launch out into the unknown.  Really, each new day is unknown to us.  We have no idea what will happen to us in any given day.  What is important is to walk in obedience to God as we trust Him to open and shut doors.

As the days and the years pass by, we too can look behind us and see how all things fit together in our life to make a beautiful pattern.  Each piece fits just where God meant it to fit.

But sometimes the beauty comes as a result of great pain.  God’s purposes are often more fully accomplished through suffering. 

In Acts 23, the Apostle Paul was arrested for preaching the gospel.  Through a series of events he was transferred from Jerusalem to Caesarea, and from there to Rome.  All along the journey, Paul was able to preach the gospel to the highest levels of government.  A normal missionary journey would probably not have opened those doors, but Paul’s suffering and imprisonment did provide the opening for sharing the gospel in ways unthought of and unplanned by Paul. 

D.L. Bock writes about how this incident in Paul’s life was rooted in God’s providence.  But he adds that providence does not always mean physical rescue.  “It is one of the mysteries of providence that many times we cannot see why things are happening as they are.  Yet God is surely at work in ways that we could not have planned for ourselves.”

May each of us, as we find ourselves at the end of our known and seen path…as we get ready to walk into the uncharted areas of life…fully trust that God knows best.

            If we could push ajar the gates of life,

            And stand within, and all God’s working see,

            We might interpret all this doubt and strife,

            And for each mystery could find a key.

            But not today.  Then be content poor heart;

            God’s plans, like lilies pure and white, unfold.

            We must not tear the close-shut leaves, apart –

            Time will reveal the calyxes of gold.

            And when, through patient toil, we reach the land

            Where tired feet, with sandals loosed, may rest,

            There we shall truly know and understand,

            And there shall gladly say, ‘Our God knows best.’  (Anon.)

Hurricane Report

I wanted to give a quick update to my blogging friends about Hurricane Laura’s impact on our daughter and son-in-law in Texas.  Some of you have asked, and most of you don’t see my Facebook posts, so I realized I shouldn’t leave you wondering.  😊

Our son-in-law, Kyle, works on a fast responder ship out of Galveston.  He went to the ship on Tuesday and was told that he needed to go home to grab some essentials and then return immediately to the ship.  He thought he would have one more day at home but fast approaching weather changed all that. 

Gary (my husband) and I worked quickly to finish emptying Aaron’s bedroom since his remodeling was starting on Thursday.  And by early Tuesday  afternoon, Gary was on a plane bound for Houston.  That evening he was the star of the show for our three adorable grand-dogs. 

On Wednesday, Andrea and Gary worked hard to board up what windows they could on the house.  Kyle was, by that time, up in one of the shipping channels waiting to ride out the storm in a place much safer for a ship than the port.  We were just praying it was also a safe place for Kyle and the other crew members.

All of you know by now that the hurricane went to the east of Houston.  We are so thankful that Kyle and Andrea, Kyle’s parents and other family members, and friends in Houston are all safe.  Our hearts go out to those in northeast Texas, in Louisiana, and elsewhere that have been devastated by Hurricane Laura.  They are in our prayers.

Gary flew safely home yesterday.  He was off immediately to Med Express to have a possible bug bite and infection checked on his leg.  An antibiotic will hopefully help clear it up in no time. 

Aaron is glad that Dad is home but not glad that he must now share talking time with someone else, and that Dad and Mom want to talk about Kyle and Andrea more than we do about Aaron. 

Same song…and I totally lost count of what verse we are on at the moment!

 I walked into the kitchen when Gary returned from seeing the doctor and look what was on the table.

I am so blessed to have a husband who shows me that he loves me. 

And doubly blessed that he is still a loving Dad to our grown children, doing whatever it takes to help them when it’s needed.

Thank you, all of you, who prayed for us during the hurricane – especially praying for Kyle and Andrea, Gary, and all the others in the hurricane’s path.  Your care and friendship, even if we have never met, is another gift for which I am deeply grateful. 

Waiting On…?

Aaron is a very impatient “waiter.”  Not a “waiter” as in serving us but waiting as in wanting me to do something…NOW!  We often see this attitude in the evenings. That’s because every evening he and I watch a show.  Lately, it’s Little House on the Prairie.  Anyway, here is how the evening may very well go:

Aaron:  Mom, what time are we watching Little House on the Prairie?

Me:  Let’s watch it at 8:45.

Aaron:  8:45?

Me:  Yes.

Aaron:  OK!

But before long he will more than likely come back downstairs to find me.

Aaron:  Mom, let’s just watch it now!

Me:  No.  We’ll watch it at 8:45.

Aaron:  WHY??!!

Me:  Because I have some things to do and 8:45 is a good time for us to watch it.

Aaron:  But I want to watch it NOW!!

Sometimes Aaron can be appeased and convinced that 8:45 will come before he knows it.  Other times, however, he becomes frustrated and angry.  The waiting game is anything BUT a game at that point, for either of us. 

Sigh.

When we do sit down to the opening music of our program, Aaron is content.  He has his snacks beside him, his blanket over him, and all is well.  But it’s only well because he was waiting on an event that finally happened.

How I wish that he would transfer his waiting focus on me.  I wish he would trust ME to do what I said I would do and then rest in that fact instead of resting on actually beginning his show, with his snacks and his routine in place.

In my spiritual life, this is a lesson I am forever needing to refine. 

I find myself waiting on a “what” instead of waiting on “Who.”

Waiting on some prayed-for event instead of waiting on the One Who will bring the events in my life to pass as He sees best.

Do you ever pray for something to the point that the “something” you’re praying for becomes your focus?  I sure do. 

And that “something” is probably a very good thing.  But here’s the thing…I don’t know God’s mind about my “something” so I need to stop focusing on the event…the request…and focus instead on the One to Whom I am asking to fulfill that event.

Last night my focus became blurry, so I got out of bed and went quietly into the bedroom where I have my quiet-time desk. 

The word “wait” was on my mind.  I ended up in Psalm 25:4-5:

“Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths.  Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day.”

God’s ways and His paths in this verse actually refer to God’s providence and to how God operates…how He deals with His people.  God doesn’t just want us to know His commands and requirements, but He wants us to know HIM. 

Dale Davis points out in his book In the Presence of My Enemies that God wants us to know more than His demands of us.  God wants us to know how He deals with us. 

And how does God deal with us, His children?  He leads us in His truth, which is better translated “in your faithfulness.” 

“So he seems to be praying that Yahweh will teach him how He is working in his case (v. 4) and to let him experience His faithfulness (v.5) as he goes on.”  (Davis)

Another nugget?  The Hebrew word for “wait” carries with it the idea of being entwined.  As I thought about this, I imagined myself knowing and trusting God so much that I, in a sense, am entwined with Him.  I am so wrapped up in God’s kind character and in His love that I rest in Him, not in my desires being fulfilled. 

The end of that passage says, “…for You I wait all the day.” 

Yes, our petitions are important.  Yes, God wants us to ask things of Him. 

But he also so often wants us to wait…patiently…while He works and while He shows us in that working His faithfulness and His love. 

God wants us to get to know Him better and in that knowing, to trust Him more.

May I not base my happiness on things to be as I want them to be.   

May I not wait for the event to occur before I am satisfied.    

May I instead wait on God..focus on God…and in that waiting, learn to trust Him and enjoy HIM more than the thing for which I am praying. 

Who Did Gary Ask to Dinner?!

I was a senior at Piedmont Bible College in January of 1978 when this tall, handsome student came walking across the parking lot on a Wednesday evening.  We had a tradition at PBC on Wednesday evenings.  The guys would wear suits and it was a night for asking a girl to dinner.  Girls would sit in the windows watching to see who would walk over to Lee Hall, and if the guy didn’t usually accompany a girl to dinner then the tongues would fly as the girls tried to guess each new young man’s date.

 

On that night the new male student who walked into the sight of all those wondering girls was Gary Moore.  And walking back across the parking lot with Gary was me!  I would say lucky me, but I don’t believe in luck so in keeping with this being Bible college I’ll say that I was blessed!  HaHa!  But I was and I still am today, blessed to be walking with this wonderful man, Gary Moore.

 

My eye had been on Gary ever since I walked into the student center on our small North Carolina campus in January a year earlier and had instantly noticed this new second semester student.  He fit several of my very serious future husband requirements.  He was tall, and he was handsome.  Very spiritual, huh?

 

It was also convenient that I was the student council secretary/treasurer and that I had access to the student mail boxes…in which I inserted special announcements…and in which I also took a look at Gary’s mail to see if he was getting letters from girls.  Yes, I did that.  And yes, he was getting such letters.  So I gave up hope on ever attracting Gary’s attention.  I decided that it would be friendship that we would share.  But I sure did still notice him.

 

Things happened…I dated another guy during the fall of my senior year.  And Gary kept going home to Bryson City on the weekends…to see girls, I thought, but he was actually helping out in his home church.  He attended a mission’s retreat that Piedmont held at Groundhog Mountain that fall because I encouraged him to come.  I didn’t know that he thought I was wanting him to come so I could spend time with him, so when I drove up with the other guy that I was starting to date, Gary nearly decided that he had already had enough of me.

 

My boyfriend and I broke up before Christmas.  And just before I left to go home for the holidays, Gary came in the dining hall and gave me a Christmas stocking!  Except he also gave one to my best friend Janet!!  Now I was confused!  But when I returned from Christmas break, Gary finally asked me to dinner on that Wednesday night…and all the girls sitting in the windows were surprised that it was me walking to dinner with Gary.

 

We never looked back from that point forward.  Love was blossoming for both of us.  But soon there was a big bump in the road.   A huge bump for me, and could have been for us…except for the integrity of this man I was getting to know so well.

 

I noticed that something weird was going on with my neck.  I couldn’t quite define it but things weren’t feeling right in there at all.  Before long I noticed that my neck was wanting to pull uncontrollably to the right.  I tried to hide it but eventually it became noticeable to everyone.  And the pain became severe.  My dear friend Janet talked to my parents, and I ended up going to different doctors in order to find out what was going on with my muscles.  It was a challenge to finish my last semester of college, especially writing my senior thesis, with my neck pulling and the pain being so bad.  Plus the drugs the doctors put me on were strong…things like valium and other calming drugs in an effort to quieten those muscle spasms.

 

Doctors didn’t have any idea about what was happening to me.  Several blamed stress, so they put me on some pretty strong drugs for that.  Nothing was helping at all.  I walked around most of the time with my right hand raised up to my neck.  Holding the back of my neck helped relieve the spasms a little.  I hung on for as long as I could, finishing my course work and knowing that I could graduate.  But the pain was so strong and the pulling so severe that just before I was to march in our graduation ceremonies I ended up in the hospital.

 

That was a tough time for me, but it was also a relief to be able to rest.  It was so sad that I didn’t get to march with my class.  I’ll never forget Dr. Drake, Piedmont’s president, coming to my hospital room along with Dean Reinert to present my diploma to me as I lay there in bed.  I think that was a first for them!

 

 

Mom and Dad were there as well, worried about me and wondering what was wrong with their girl.  And also there by my side was the man that had come to pick me up for dinner on that Wednesday night four months earlier.  He wore a suit on my graduation day, much like the suit he had worn on our first date, except now he sat on the side of my bed and we both smiled broadly, just as if I was standing in that auditorium along with the rest of my graduating class to receive my degree.

 

 

On a fairly superficial level, my illness was exceptionally hard for me as a young woman.  It changed my appearance, making me look weird as my neck pulled and as I held my right hand around my neck a large part of the time.  I didn’t feel pretty at all.  And pain took a huge toll as well.  It’s hard to be your best or look your best when you’re absorbed in pain.  So, on that level alone, I wondered if Gary would stick by me or if he would be turned off.

 

And what about the future?  We didn’t even have a diagnosis and had no idea what the long term would hold for me, for my body and my health.  What man would want to venture into that arena?  Gary and I were not engaged.  He wasn’t bound to me in any way like that.  Yet there he was, faithful to me with his support and his love and his attention.  He never made me feel weird or ugly or a risk too great to take.

 

I moved home to West Virginia to live with my parents, and tried to get well.  Doctors still didn’t know what was wrong.  Gary still wanted to be with me when he could travel from college to visit.  He saw the pain and the awful reactions to drugs and the huge unknown, but he stayed by my side.  And one day he even asked me to marry him!!  I didn’t waste a second before saying yes.  Time and rest helped me get better, but the effects of my illness were still somewhat visible, and I could definitely feel them.

 

We had a beautiful wedding, where I even sang a surprise song to Gary.

 

“God has given you to me, as my loving friend.

From beginnings love has grown, may its growing never end.

From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.

God is joining here today, families and friends.

Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!

Yours are mine and mine are yours, how the richness blends!

You are handsome in my eyes, I treasure and adore.

But my heart determines this, I must love God more.

Though I love you oh so well, I must love God more.

I love you where you’re stongest, your strength can help me stand.

I love you where you’re weakest.

There I’ll care, I’ll help you there, and give your heart a helping hand.

God has given you to me, as my loving friend.

From beginnings love has grown, may it never end.”

 

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So we began our life together.  Today we celebrate 41 years of sharing this journey together and with God.  We have three beautiful children, and a wonderful son-in-law.  We have tons of memories.  We have each other still.

 

Doctors know now that I have something called Dystonia.  I will always feel the effects of this muscle disease in my neck, but I am so much better than I was back in 1978.  Gary didn’t know this would be the outcome, though.  Yet he loved me regardless, and he showed his strength and integrity when I needed it most.  He’s still doing that today, and I am forever grateful.

 

42 years ago, I walked across that parking lot with that tall, handsome man.  41 years ago, I walked down the aisle to say, “I do.”  And I am so thankful that I did!

Our Wedding - 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biscuits and Blessings

Aaron was very happy last Thursday when I asked him if he wanted to come with me to Aldi.  I needed a few things, which with Aaron involved would turn into more than just a few things.  Shopping, even for groceries, is Aaron’s second favorite thing to do.  First on the list, most definitely, is eating out.

But shopping ranks a close second.  Aaron sees a store as a huge area of nearly limitless possibilities.  When we enter, he is instantly on the prowl for his catch.  Will it be gum?  A canister of peanuts?  Pringles?  Croissants?  Thick grated cheese…not that thin stuff!!  Or will he find an unusual item that he holds up for me…and all within earshot…to see?  Like an artichoke or an eggplant or a star fruit!

Stores are just awesome!!

When we exited Aldi, Aaron had captured a large container of mixed nuts and THREE cans of biscuits!!

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The biscuit discussion ensued.  When would we eat them?  For which meal?  How many would we fix?  Would I eat any?  Would Dad eat any?  And even when the questions were answered, they must be asked again…and again…and again.

Expected with Aaron, but exhausting.

I told Aaron that we would eat some biscuits on the next day, Friday.  Then he plotted and planned at which meal we would eat them, and how many cans would we fix.

“Can we have TWO ?” he asked.

But I assured him that the three of us did not need more than 8 biscuits, so he resigned himself to that reality as Thursday ended and the promise of Biscuit Friday lay ahead.

Before he finally decided to stay IN bed and go to sleep, he had to verify it one more time.

“Mom? Did you say that tomorrow you’re only fixing ONE barrel of biscuits?”

How I love his phrasing of common names!  Only Aaron can make a can of biscuits take on a whole new meaning.

“Yes, Aaron,” I answered with a smile.  “We only need one barrel of biscuits.”

During that night, Aaron had two seizures while he slept.  But he really perked up when he got out of the bed later that morning.  In fact, he talked and talked and talked as he followed me around the house.  I was so saturated with his chatter and endless questions that I was in need of some relief.

I agreed when he asked if we could have some biscuits for lunch instead of waiting for supper.  He put three biscuits on his plate when they were ready.

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He was SO happy! Look at his face as we settled in to watch a Little House on The Prairie episode, and he had his plate full of biscuits.  Pure delight!

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Later, I was very thankful for that moment. Aaron had another seizure that evening around the time we would have been eating supper. After awhile, when he was alert, he didn’t feel like eating any more biscuits. His appetite is usually ruined right after seizures. It always makes me sad when his seizures mess up his happy moments. But it was like God gave me that sweet gift of watching the joy of Aaron and his barrel of biscuits earlier in the day, knowing that if we had waited until supper then he would have been sad about missing his biscuits…and so would I.

God’s gifts may seem small sometimes but they’re really not at all. They sure do fill my heart and make me happy. ❤️❤️

And God’s gifts are all around us, every day, if we take the time to look.

Who would have thought that our barrels of biscuits would turn into barrels of blessings?

 

Stashed Away

Remember Y2K?  How lots of people were afraid that the world as we know it would be so greatly disrupted that civilization would be in chaos?  People were storing up supplies of all sorts out of fear that at 12:01 a.m. on January 1, 2000 we would see the beginning of the end.

We were living on Fort Huachuca, Arizona during the time that people were prepping for the possible end.  We lived in military quarters.  Just inside our back door, the door the kids always used to run in and out, was a pantry/laundry room area.  There were multiple shelves there on which I would put canned and boxed food.

You have to understand that I was – and still am to a smaller degree – an avid couponer.  I enjoyed finding items that we needed on sale AND with a coupon.  My kids can still fill in this blank:  “It was on sale and you had a coupon.”  As they roll their eyes, I might add.

In fact, one day Andrew told me that he bet I’d feed them rat poison if it was on sale and I had a coupon.  I told him it depended on what size box it was.  That’s important to know if you want to get the best deal.  😊

Back to our military quarters in Arizona.  I had quite a few boxes of cereal that I had bought at the commissary…on sale and I had a coupon.  OK.  I had LOTS of boxes of cereal on my shelves that were on sale…never mind.

One day, in ran the kids with some friends.  One little boy stopped suddenly in the pantry as his eyes focused on ALL those boxes of cereal.

“Mrs. Moore?” he asked.  “Are you getting ready for Y2K?”

I laughed and laughed.

“No,” I explained.  “Cereal was on sale and….”

You know the rest.

Now here we are, 20 years later, with images of shopping carts overflowing with toilet paper and Lysol wipes and detergent as people were panicked over the Coranavirus.  People weren’t just stocking up, and it had nothing to do with a great sale and good coupons.

It was fear.  So many people reacted out of fear, for various reasons, and hoarded all the supplies they could find.

It’s certainly understandable, to some degree, that human nature wants to stash away all we might need in case things get really bad.

Did you know that God does some “stashing away?”

Yes, He does!

“How massive Your goodness which You have stashed away for those who fear You, which You have worked out for those taking refuge in You before the sons of men.   (Psalm 31:19)

I just LOVED reading that verse this morning!

For those who reverence God and who follow him in trust, God has stored up blessings and goodness.

It’s “…as if God squirrels away stockpiles of His goodness in hidden storage sites.  But the goodness doesn’t remain there – God ‘works it out’ for those who take refuge in Him.  So it is ‘stashed away’ in reserve but then ‘worked out’ in our experience where it becomes visible.”  (Dale Ralph Davis)

I can just imagine God’s shelves stocked full of goodness for each of His children, ready for the time that we need it the most.  He is prepped and prepared for every contingency in our lives.

“The overall impression we should have is that we are not left impoverished even in our worst troubles.  Provisions are in place.”  (Davis)

During this unprecedented time, when literally the entire world has been brought to a stop, I know there are thousands of stories of God’s goodness being poured upon those who fear and trust Him.  Sometimes His goodness doesn’t even take the pleasant shape that we would choose.  But His goodness is like that – coming in all shapes and sizes and ways that we might not like, but that are always for our growth and our good.

Just soak up the amazing promises in this Psalm:

“Blessed be God!  For He has marvelously demonstrated His faithful love to me in a city under siege.  But I, I said in my panic, ‘I have been cut off from before Your eyes.’  But in fact you heard the voice of my pleas for grace when I cried to You for help.”  (Psalm 31 21-22)

We certainly do feel like we live in cities and towns under siege from an enemy we can’t even see.  We may feel cut off from God’s eyes.

BUT!!

God does, in fact, hear our pleas for His grace and for His help.  He has plenty of grace, help, peace, promises, and miracles stashed away – ready to be brought out for us when He chooses and when we ask.

On Saturday evening, a pop-up thunderstorm quickly formed over our house.  Soon we had a short downpour of rain with a little hail mixed in.

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And then, in our front yard and in the street, there appeared a rainbow.  It was just beautiful…so near to us and so amazing!

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God’s goodness to us is like that rainbow.  We had to have the storm and the hail, the lightning and the thunder, in order to see such a rare display of a rainbow right in front of us.

May each of us know that in this storm of COVID-19 and all its effects on our lives, we will also see God’s visible goodness displayed right before us.

Let’s not miss what God wants us to see!

 

Remember When?

Last summer, Aaron had a dentist appointment…and in his usual fashion, he plotted and planned where we could hopefully eat afterwards.

“Mom?” he asked.  “Tomorrow after my dentist appointment, can we eat at Jimmy’s Eggs?”

Yes, he calls Jimmy’s Egg – Jimmy’s Eggs.  I mean, who just eats one egg, right?!

The next day found us sitting at Jimmy’s Eggs enjoying a delicious lunch/breakfast.  And yes, Aaron did happily eat every bite of all this food!

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There was, though, another big reason why Aaron loved Jimmy’s Eggs.  Well, it was actually a very little reason that was quite big to Aaron.

Can you see it?

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An ant!

Aaron wasn’t alarmed at all by having an ant join us for lunch.  In fact, Aaron put a little piece of carrot from his salad on the table so the ant wouldn’t feel left out about not being allowed to order lunch.  Next, he added a piece of bacon.

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The server was embarrassed by the ant, but I told her not to worry.  Aaron loved having the ant company, and it made me happy to watch him trying to care for the little guy.

We haven’t been back to Jimmy’s Egg(s) since then.  It just hasn’t been on our dining list, but not because of the ant.

One day not long ago, when the closure of restaurants during this virus was hitting home with Aaron, he thought about Jimmy’s Egg(s).

“Mom?” he asked, “remember Jimmy’s Eggs and how we used to eat there before the virus?”

He said it so wistfully that it made me sad.  Like now he measures time as Before Virus (BV) and After Virus (AV).

All of us, though, are having similar thoughts.

Remember when?

Remember when I had a job…was planning that trip I had to cancel…was going to march in graduation…could be with my mother in her nursing home or hospital…was having a huge Easter celebration…could go to church…didn’t fear for my family’s life?

I certainly don’t understand everything that’s going on around us and why certain decisions are being made, but here we are.

What I CAN do is pray, a lot, for God’s wisdom and protection for all involved in this mess.  That’s basically the whole world, and for our nation in particular.

When I zoom down to my own life, or the lives of so many that I love, I do find myself at times remembering when…and if I’m not careful, fear and sadness can rule my thoughts.

That’s why yesterday morning, when I read these verses, I was so tremendously encouraged.

“But as for me, I trust in You, Oh Lord.  I say, ‘You are my God.’   My times are in Your hand.”  (Psalm 31:14-15a)

The word “times” here doesn’t just mean that my lifespan is in God’s hands.  David also meant “…all the kaleidoscope of circumstances that meet him left and right.  Calvin rightly draws attention to the plural form – ‘times’, and says that David uses it to ‘mark the variety of casualties by which the life of man is usually harassed.’  (Dale Ralph Davis, In the Presence of My Enemies)

Beside verses in my Bible, I often write a date and sometimes a note to remind me of when and how God especially spoke to me through that verse.  I call them my memorial stones.

Beside those two verses above, I had written “Nov., 1994.” I was going through a stressful time concerning a possible health issue and the death of my Grandma.  We lived in Leavenworth, Gary was deployed for training in the military, I had three little ones, Aaron’s special needs were getting more difficult, and I was far from home and family.  But God reached down in that chaos and stress, and He told me very sweetly and clearly that those times…MY times…were in His loving hand.

Now here I was yesterday, with COVID-19 and all its issues swirling around us and those we love, and I was remembering when…

Remembering when God spoke to me all those years ago in another stress.

Remembering when God filled me with peace.

Remembering when God proved His promise to be my God, then, and is doing the same now.

“How often the truth of this text has proven a bastion and bulwark for God’s servants.  Ulrich Zwingli, a reformer in Zurich, was visiting his people, trying to console sick and dying.  The plague had some to Zurich in August 1519.  By autumn Zwingli himself had succumbed to the disease.  Confined to bed and staring death in the face, Zwingli prayed:  ‘Do as you will, for I lack nothing.  I am your vessel to be restored or destroyed.’ Different words, to be sure, but actually just a paraphrase of ‘My times are in your hand.’  One can rest there even in the plague.”  (Dale Ralph Davis)

We can rest in God’s hands and in His times for us individually…for our families…for our friends…for our nation…for our world.

Now, beside these verses, I have added a new memorial note: “ COVID-19, April, 2020.”

May God’s promises and His faithfulness be what I remember when I’m “remembering when!”

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Stay-At-Home With Aaron

This Friday will mark one month that I have kept Aaron home due to COVID-19.  To borrow Aaron’s words while I was still able to take him shopping:  “You’re getting that because of the Coronavirus, aren’t you?”  Said with frustration, I might add, as he has seen this virus as a great deal of unnecessary drama in his life.  I think many are feeling that way right now!

The other night he got to video message with two of his friends from his day group.  It made him realize how much he misses them and his other friends.  I was glad to hear him say that, for getting Aaron to re-enter his former routine may take some doing.

He does love being at home, although some days he is at loose ends.  When this first started, I thought of something to do every day that would keep him occupied and happy.  Watching some shows during the day, for instance, was a treat for him since it’s something we never do.  So many activities we would normally do – eating out, movies, the zoo, shopping – are off limits now, so giving happy moments every day was…and is…vital to Aaron and to ME.

However, Aaron has now become a professional Event Coordinator.  😊  He finds it quite fun to plan our days!  But today, after going through the car wash and grabbing a to-go pizza for lunch, I had to say no to driving to a nearby lake.  My days are still full of necessary home life, so when added to these fun activities with Aaron, I’m finding myself getting behind.  I’m realizing that these are the days I used to wish I had…days at home when I could get so much done…but the “getting so much done” just isn’t happening!

One thing I really wanted to do today…and have wanted to do for many days…is to give a quick update on my stay-at-home life with Aaron.  What have we been doing to occupy our time?  Let’s see:

 

Playing Go Fish:

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Taking drives and seeing fun wildlife like these turkeys:

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Cutting coupons:

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Watching favorite programs:

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Dairy Queen Blizzards at Lake Afton:

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Donuts at Lake Afton (this pattern must stop!):

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Walks at Swanson Park:

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Practicing with selfies:

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Cooking:

 

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Getting a new PC game:

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Eating by lantern when the electricity went out:

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Pulling Weeds:

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And relaxing as only Aaron does, crunching mulch:

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We’ve had some moments, for sure, but I can honestly say that Aaron has mostly handled our stay-at-home much better than we thought he would.  I know that’s because of prayer, and I am so thankful for God’s mercies and strength and wisdom.

We are truly blessed to have so many options of places to go and activities to do that keep us safely distanced from others, yet able to leave the house and get some fresh air and sunshine, hear the birds, and enjoy this new pause in our lives.

How are each of you and your families doing?  I pray that God is strengthening you and that you are being encouraged in unexpected ways during these days.

Let’s keep praying for one another, and for our great country.  May God keep us safe and wise, and may we continue loving Him and each other in these unprecedented times.

 

Love For Us

I’m sure that many of you would agree with me when I say that I feel like I’m on a runaway train.  The past month has been unbelievable for the whole world.

COVID-19 has dropped the bottom out of our lives.

Just outside the comfort and safety of my home there lies fear.  Uncertainty.  Danger.

I don’t understand or know what’s really happening behind the scenes.  I know that I need to be wise and to be wary, but I can’t control any of this situation that is swirling around us.

What I can do is pray.  Pray for my family scattered here and there.  Pray for friends.  Pray for our nation and for our world.  Pray for our leaders.

I can read my Bible.  With my mind on overload it seems that I can only absorb a few verses at a time, but that’s all it takes for me to hear God’s voice so strong and reassuring.

If there’s ever been a time for people to assess their relationship with God, it’s now.  I heard a doctor in New York say that this situation is Biblical…epic.  The God of the universe has stopped our world and I do believe it’s time for us to stop and to listen to Him for a change.

I’ve been spending tons of time with Aaron for the past three weeks while being mostly home-bound.  Every day I try to get him out for a walk or a drive, which he totally loves.

A couple days ago we went to nearby Swanson Park, one of our favorite places to walk and to enjoy a splash of nature in the middle of civilization.  Social distancing is not a problem there.  Aaron even obeyed me and didn’t stop to pet every dog he saw like he usually does.

There were flowering trees:

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Impressive thorns:

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Historical plaques that we enjoy reading:

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And our favorite little bridge:

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As we walked, Aaron talked…a lot!  One of his main topics of conversation involved the fact that he was waiting very anxiously for a PC game that Gary had ordered for him Sunday evening.  Aaron had earned and saved enough money to buy The Incredible Hulk PC game!!!

That night as Aaron and I were in the kitchen, he was still (of course!) talking about that greatly anticipated game.

“So, Dad ordered the Incredible Hulk out of love for me?” he quietly asked.

And as so often happens, Aaron’s words stopped me in my tracks.

“Yes, Aaron,” I answered.  “Dad ordered you the game out of love for you.”

I have thought and thought about that exchange…about the deep waters of Aaron’s heart.

And this picture I had just taken that day in Swanson Park came to my mind.

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How God leads our steps!  How He directs the paths of His children!

We live in this world and we’re caught up in what He is doing, but we can know beyond any doubt that He is fully aware of our situations during this frightening time.

 

“It’s from God that the steps of a man have been settled, and He delights over his way.  When he falls, he will not be flattened, for God keeps supporting his hand.  I have been young; yes, I have become old, but I have not seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed asking for bread.”  (Psalm 37:23-25)

 

As the old hymn says, “This world is not my home.  I’m just a-passin’ through.”

God is surely at work in this old world, as He has always been since the beginning of time.  But I know, beyond any doubt, that God is very aware of me and my little family.

He knows our path and He is holding our hands.

Therefore, I can say with great confidence, “Yes, Aaron, our Heavenly Father also ordered this time out of love for us.”

We who know Him are not forsaken!