Baby and Uncle Aaron Update

I realize that it’s way beyond time for a baby update.  Speaking of time…where has it gone?!

Andrea will probably be admitted to the hospital this evening for an induction.  She is on blood thinner because of an autoimmune disease so in order to change and manage that medicine, her delivery had to be scheduled.  We would value your prayers for her and for their baby…our grandson!…during this process.

Aaron is up and down about being Uncle Aaron.  He is so focused on the issue that he is making himself nervous about it.  He talks and talks about being an uncle, to absolutely anyone who will listen…or who can’t help but listen as a captive audience in a check-out line, at their job, neighbors…

“I don’t WANT to be an uncle!” he declares. 

Then he listens as he is told once again that being an uncle is a fun job.  And that he will do a great job of being Uncle Aaron. 

“But I might have to change his diaper!” Aaron says.

And that has been the biggest subject of conversation for Aaron.  Changing diapers!

The nurse and staff at his day group have been so wonderful to help ease him through his diaper fixation.  Look at these pictures from this past Friday as once again the nurse let Aaron practice changing a diaper.  He’s always so excited to tell us that he passed the diaper changing test!

Added to diaper duty…which we have assured Aaron will not be required of him…is the actual trip to Texas to meet his nephew.  Aaron is not a happy traveler.  Therefore, his angst is increasing more than his excited anticipation. 

All these matters tend to muddy our own joy.

I knew this from the very beginning, though.

I knew that I would struggle with being far from Andrea during her pregnancy and during her delivery and recovery.

And especially, being too far away to meet my grandson quickly and often.

That’s why, on the very night that Andrea and Kyle told us back in May that a baby was coming, I knew that a struggle for me was ahead.

I know me very well.

The next morning, as I continued my study in I Timothy, I asked the Lord to give me a verse or a part of a verse to claim during these months…actually, years…ahead. 

God does not disappoint!

There it was!

A phrase in I Timothy 4:10 jumped right out at me and settled in my heart.

“…we have fixed our hope on the living God…”

I was so thankful!

My memorial stone was quickly written beside that verse:  Baby Kester, May 22, 2022.

How many times, when I have started down that path of wishing for things that are not to be…or I have begun to compare myself to others…or I have questioned God’s ways…this phrase has calmed and assured me.

For if I can’t trust God in this area of my life, when CAN I trust Him?

Then just last week, as I was in the book of Hebrews and reading about Moses in chapter 11, there it was again.

Verse 27:  “…Moses endures, as seeing Him who is unseen.”

Guess what the words “seeing Him” mean?

They mean that Moses’ eyes were fixed.

As in, “…we have fixed our hope on the living God.”

I was so touched that at the beginning of this grandbaby journey…and now nearing the end of the pregnancy…God once again told me to fix my eyes on Him.

This verb used in Hebrews refers to an artist whose eyes are fixed on the subject he is painting.  He focuses solely on the subject, not on the distractions around him.

Raymond Brown also points out that this word indicates a determined choice.

“Westcott says that it is used by classical writers in the sense of ‘looking from one object to another.’  We fix our eyes on the ultimate, not the immediate, on the eternal reward rather than our temporal gain.”

What I really want to get across in all of this is this:  I may be tired of my circumstances in some ways, but I am not hopeless!

I have fixed my hope on the living God!

God understands my desires and He knows my heart.

He keeps saying, “Patty!  Focus!!” as my eyes begin to wander to the distractions around me and I start to be discouraged or sad.

God is so good to me.  He understands and He does not demand perfection from me. 

Just trust, and hope.

Hope in the living God Who has a reason and a plan for every part of my life, grandbaby included.

Hope in the living God Who sent His own Son as a baby so that I could have that hope.

I hope I have happy baby news very soon!

And Aaron hopes that he really doesn’t have to change diapers!

The Sudden Dark Clouds

The other morning, I looked out my favorite upstairs window and saw this very pretty sky.  The puffy clouds and the sunshine reminded me of summer.

Not long after, however, I noticed from another room that it seemed darker outside.  I went back to the window and was shocked at what I saw.

Whoa!  In such a short time the scene had totally changed.  We went from bright and happy to dark and foreboding very quickly as a cold front began blowing in.

I have had those sudden dark times in my life. 

That Sunday years ago when our normal day turned into terror as Aaron lay on our kitchen floor, seizing violently.  The blur of a frantic call to the medical clinic…the ambulance…the German children’s hospital.  The stabs of deep fear mixed with the frustration of the language barrier and the culture that was in many ways unfamiliar. 

We went from worshipping God at church that morning to being blind-sided by a situation that we were totally unprepared for.

But let me tell you that Psalm 18:28 is true!

            “The Lord my God illumines my darkness.”

He was there with us in that foreign hospital room, during all the tests, and the diagnosis…and He has not stopped walking with us on this road of special needs.

My prayer list keeps getting longer with names of so many who are hurting and struggling through various sudden changes.

Gary’s cousin, now a much-too-young widower whose precious wife collapsed and was gone.

A friend’s daughter…a young wife and mother…fighting cancer.

A cousin and a friend recently widowed.

Jobs ended.

Marriages over.

Cancer returning.

Listen to what else David says in Psalm 27:1:

            “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”

God brightens the unknown!

His light shines brightest in the dark.

His character positively glows in our deepest hurts and with our tear-stained cheeks.

And we have no reason to fear because He is fighting for us.  Psalm 27:1 continues:

            “The Lord is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?”

I love the song, Blessings, by Laura Story.  Read the lyrics:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace

Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

We pray for healing, for prosperity

We pray for Your mighty hand

To ease our suffering

And all the while, You hear each spoken need

Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?

What if Your healing comes through tears?

What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear

And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near

We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love

As if every promise from Your word is not enough

And all the while, You hear each desperate plea

And long that we’d have faith to believe.

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops?

What if Your healing comes through tears?

And what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life

Are Your mercies in disguise?

I saw this beautiful scene a short time later, after the scary dark clouds had gone away, and I was reminded that God is still our light and our salvation.

Don’t fear, dear ones.  God is still there in the clouds, and He WILL illumine your darkness with His sweet presence.

To Tim and Alicia

Tim, our hearts are across the country with you and the family today as you celebrate Alicia’s life.  We are with you…with Bryson, Brayden, and Willow Grace…as you honor your amazing wife and mother.

I wish I had all the answers for you and the children about why God took Alicia so suddenly and so soon.  Of course, I don’t.  No one on this earth does. 

Only God.

I wish I could take away your pain and deep grief.  Of course, I can’t.

Only God.

What I do know is that God is with you.  I know you know that, too.  You may not always feel it right now, but you know it.

I thought of you this week as I read Genesis 46, about Jacob traveling down to Egypt to see the son whom he thought was long ago dead.

Jacob was settled in Israel, content there, and old.

Israel was the land God had promised to him and his descendants.

But now Jacob was faced with the inevitable…traveling down to Egypt to see Joseph. 

Egypt. 

Egypt was the enemy.  Egypt was a place of fear…unfamiliarity…full of danger and totally distasteful to Jacob.

But God told Jacob, “I am God, the God of your father; do not be afraid to go down to Egypt…”

And God continued, “I will go down with you to Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again…”

Tim, as the dust settles, and your life continues…but without Alicia…I pray that you and the children will know that God has gone down with you to this Egypt.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, You are there.  If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,

Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me.

If I say, surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,

Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day.

Darkness and light are alike to You.”   (Psalm 139: 7-12)

Tim, God is with you and the children in this Egypt.  And just like He promised Jacob, He will bring you up again. 

God will heal your hurt.

God will comfort your deepest sorrow.

God will walk with you each step of this very hard road.

God understands the question, “Why?!” 

Alicia, last week Tim messaged me and said that more than once you said you would love to have met me. 

Let me tell you, that I have always wished for that as well…and never more so than now after reading the multitude of posts about how many lives you touched.

Tim said you were the kindest lady he had ever known and that he was blessed to have been loved by you.

I have seen this week that this is the lifelong impact you have had on many lives as a wife, mother, sister, friend, and a brand new RN. 

And especially as a follower of Christ, your kindness and love will live on in the hearts and lives of so many people. 

Death has not…and will not…dull your testimony.

In fact, I do believe that God will use this as the means to show us all how very important it is to know Jesus personally…to shine brightly for Him…and to always be ready to meet Him.

Speaking of meeting, you and I WILL meet one day…of that I am very certain.  I look forward to that day in heaven when I do finally get to give you a big hug and to thank you for the impact you have had on my life even from afar.

Tim, Bryson, Brayden, and Willow Grace – you are covered in our prayers.

May you, as time goes on, be able to say with Jacob, “God answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 

We love you.

I Can’t Wait!

Waiting patiently for anything is not a strong suit of Aaron’s.  Whether he is waiting for me to get off the phone or waiting on a huge surprise, it doesn’t matter.  Patient waiting is a foreign concept to him.

This is why we often don’t tell Aaron of an upcoming event until shortly before it actually occurs.  Too bad he knows when his birthday is because he is in planning mode for months before the big day. 

Earlier this year, a big dinosaur exhibit was coming to town.  Gary and I decided to take Aaron and to make it a surprise, more for our sake than anything.  The big day came…tickets were bought…plans were in place…and finally I told Aaron that we were taking him on a surprise adventure. 

It wasn’t THAT long before we were leaving that I broke the exciting news to him, but oh my goodness!  I quickly realized that I should have waited until we were in the van and on our way before uttering a word about our surprise trip.

Aaron can hover better than any hummingbird or helicopter.  He hovered outside my door as I got ready.  He knocked and knocked on the door, asking if it was time to go yet.  He lingered outside the bathroom door as I dried my hair.  He stood right beside me as I brushed my teeth, asking questions and wanting me to answer even with a mouthful of toothpaste. 

“Aaron!!” I finally said, “quit being so impatient!!  Leave me alone and let me get ready.”

I enjoyed a few moments of blissful quiet…until he once again knocked loudly on my door.

“But MOM!!”  he exclaimed, “I don’t have anything to DO while I’m being impatient!!”

Let me say, I am so much like Aaron when God has me wait for something, especially something that I have prayed about for a long time.

Look at Isaac and Rebekah.  Isaac married Rebekah when he was 40 years old.  No children came, however, because Rebekah was barren.  In Genesis 25 we read that Isaac prayed on behalf of Rebekah and she conceived.

But guess how long it was before that happened?

20 years!

YEARS!!

Can you imagine the disappointment, over and over and over?

The sadness?

The comparing themselves to others who had HOW many children during the time that they waited…and waited…and waited on God to keep His promise.

As Dale Davis points out in God’s Rascal, The Jacob Narrative, Isaac’s non-chosen brother Ishmael had 12 sons.  What’s up with that?!

But Isaac didn’t just idly or impatiently wait.  We’re told that he prayed on behalf of his wife. 

The Hebrew term used there means that Isaac didn’t just pray FOR his wife.  It indicated that he prayed in front of her…in her presence.

I found Isaac’s action in prayer to not only be very encouraging but also very precious.  He led Rebekah and he joined her in her pain…in their pain…as they waited for God’s answer.

Sometimes things seem so hopeless.  We don’t see answers coming.  It’s so easy to lose heart, especially when we have prayed and prayed and prayed.

I love this verse.

Right now, Aaron is laying on our couch downstairs.  He had three seizures this morning.  He is almost 38 years old and has had seizures since he was 7 years old.

I look at him as he ages, and I see the effect of all these years of seizures…of the toll they have taken on his body and on his mental abilities. 

But I know that as much as I love Aaron, God loves him even more.  And God loves me. 

He loves us and He has a reason that I will probably never know on this earth for all that Aaron has suffered.

So, I cry out to God.

And I know that God’s inclination is to lean down and hear my cry. 

Isn’t that a precious picture?

He joins me in my pain and in my waiting.

Am I always patient as I wait on God?

No!

But unlike Aaron, there IS something I can do while I’m being impatient and that is to pray.

And to praise, as David continues in Psalm 40.  Sing a new song of praise, which will be a testimony to others.

After all, “How blessed is the man (or woman) who has made the Lord his trust.”  (Psalm 40:4)

Gotta run.  Aaron is awake now and is planning our evening already.  😊 

Under the Quilt

I heard Aaron’s first seizure at 12:38 this morning.  The second was at 2:37.  As I often say, Aaron would appreciate that I am using the precise time. 

Not long after 4:00 I heard him rustling.  It wasn’t a seizure.  I listened and knew that he was out of bed.  He went to the bathroom and then back to his room.  I heard his door close. 

I got up and went to his room, fairly sure of what I would find.  He had changed his pajamas and was getting ready to climb back into bed.

His sheets were wet.  Bed wetting seizures are common to Aaron. 

I had him sit in his desk chair as I changed his sheets.  He watched my every move, as he is not only bent on using precision with his time keeping but is also particular about his bedding being just right. 

I was thankful for waterproof mattress pads, and that we keep an extra one on hand.  Thankful for extra sheets and blankets, and for our washing machine and dryer.

There sat Aaron.  He was flicking his fingers together as he so often does now, more and more.  There was some dried blood on the corner of his mouth where he had bitten his tongue during his first seizure. 

He kept telling me that his head hurt.  He wondered if he would have to go to his day group. 

It always breaks my heart to see him like this.  Broke my heart, too, as I asked him if he would have slept on wet sheets if I hadn’t come in there.  He said yes because he didn’t want to wake us up. 

I told him he never ever had to sleep on wet sheets.

I was finally done with his bed.  It’s a stretch for Aaron to lay down under different covers than his usual ones.

“I want my Mario blanket,” he said as he looked at his bed all covered in a blanket not his own.

“But it’s wet,” I told him.  “Here, I’ll get you another blanket to use.”

I walked out into the hall and opened the linen cabinet.  I saw the quilt that we have had for many years and knew that the weight of it would be a comfort to Aaron.

As I carried it to his room and arranged it on his bed, I was thinking about the sweet memories of this quilt.  It was a wedding gift to me and Gary, made 44 years ago by the dear ladies at Needham’s Grove Baptist Church in Needham’s Grove, North Carolina.  My brother pastored there. The women in the church had gotten to know me while I was in Bible college not far away and would often visit on weekends.  

Finally, I was finished with Aaron’s bed.  He surveyed it as he stood up from his chair.  I smiled as he immediately pulled out some wrinkles in the quilt before he walked around to get back in bed.  He snuggled under the covers, and I pulled them up around his face, a soft smile of contentment visible on his lips. 

It wasn’t even 30 minutes later that I heard another seizure.  As I stood beside his bed, I looked at that special quilt again.  Each stitch was sewn by hand…hands of women who loved the Lord and loved to give. 

All those years ago, I had no idea what our life would hold.  We were dreamy-eyed newlyweds with our whole life before us. 

And now, under the quilt that we used to lay under, lay our special Aaron.  Never would I have imagined that we would still be caring for our 37-year-old son…that the quilt that covered us now covered Aaron.

I don’t know or understand the reason for any of it. 

But I do know my heavenly Father.

And I do know that He has stitched every little piece of my life and of Gary’s life and of Aaron’s life. 

God has stitched it in order to create a beautiful work.

Not an easy work.  And not the one I would have chosen if He had let me. 

But do I trust Him?

And if I do, at what point do I stop trusting?

I either fully trust God, or I don’t.

That means, that even through tears and disappointments and frustrations and exhaustion, I trust the God Who has promised to direct my steps.

Who has promised that “underneath are His everlasting arms.”

I am never lower than His arms that are always under me to hold me up.

And neither are you, my friend, if you know and trust this God Who loves you so much.

Who gave His own Son, Jesus, to die for you.

And Who is meticulously stitching the fabric of your life…of my life…of Aaron’s…into a work of art.

I want to rest under that quilt, handmade by God.

Impossibilities

We had some very pretty clouds one recent morning that I enjoyed as I looked out my favorite upstairs window.  I sat at my desk having my quiet time as my eyes kept glancing out at the ever-changing sky.  Suddenly there was brightness as the sun began to shine.  I quickly snapped this picture before the moment passed.

One fact that I have observed over my years of sky watching is that when the sun shines on storm clouds, the clouds become more beautiful.  The sun sharpens the contrasts between the clouds and the rest of the sky, and between the clouds and the ground.  The true beauty of those storm clouds is fully shown when the sun shines.

I have just finished studying the book of Ruth.  This familiar story is one that we love to tell.  It’s a favorite for children’s Sunday school classes.  It’s so familiar to us and so easily compressed into a 30 minute lesson that we often don’t stop to really consider what God did with Naomi and Ruth.

What especially spoke to me this morning was how Naomi found herself in an impossibly difficult and hopeless situation in a foreign land.  She was an Israelite in Moab.  Her husband and two sons had died.  She was left destitute with no means of support.

We all know the story.  Her daughter-in-law, Ruth, stayed with her and together they traveled back to the land of Israel.  Ruth asked permission to go gather grain and by God’s providence she ended up in the field of Boaz.  He was the kinsman-redeemer, unknown to Ruth, and they ended up getting married.  To that union God gave them baby Obed, grandfather of King David and ancestor of Jesus Himself.

OK.  It’s a wrap.  We’ll have a new story next week, children.

But wait!  Stop!

Just think of how the providence of God is all over this story.

When we let God’s light shine on this story then we can see the deep storms surrounding Naomi and Ruth.  Their situation was truly hopeless.

But God’s light also reveals the beauty of those storms because it was in those hopeless moments that God’s plan was so amazingly revealed. 

Do you find yourself in a scary and desperate place? 

Do your walls seem impossible to climb?

Do your clouds look dark and foreboding?

Do you think of your future needs…or your needs today…and wonder how on earth things will work out?

All I know is that God wants to shine.  He wants to show me how He works in the darkness of the storm.

But it’s how HE works that I need to stop and see.

And God doesn’t need my help.

He needs me to trust.

The God of Naomi and Ruth is my God, too.  He has a plan for me that He will accomplish every bit as much as He did for them. 

Hopelessness is the best venue in which we can see God shine. 

And as God shines, that storm will prove to be a place of beauty…the beauty of knowing my heavenly Father better and seeing that His plan in this place is truly full of His providence and purpose. 

The Next Step

Aaron loves walking in nearby Swanson Park.  The weather finally cooled down enough a few days ago for us to enjoy a nice stroll on the paved trails.

Aaron is familiar enough with the park to know when we are nearing the small bridge that goes over Cowskin Creek.  There it is, barely visible ahead of us as we walk the winding trail. 

I know as we get nearer to the bridge that Aaron will tell me he doesn’t like that bridge.  On this particular day, I offered for us to turn around and walk back the way we had come and not go over the bridge.  But he did not want to do that, so we kept walking.

Each step brought us nearer to the scary bridge.  Yet Aaron knew, through prior experience, that I would stay with him and that the walk across the bridge would end up just fine.

Sometimes I’m very much like Aaron as I walk with the Lord.  I’ve walked with Him a long time, in many places and many varied experiences.  God has proven Himself faithful over and over.

Yet still, when I know that up ahead is a situation that I may not like, I get unnerved. 

It’s easy to focus on the scary bridge and not on the One Who is walking beside me.

Easy as well to want to plan and strategize.

If I do this, then maybe that will happen. 

But I don’t see how it’s even possible to do this.  So maybe I could try this other thing to make it all work out.

Hmmmmm.

Well, maybe this…..

No.  I know!  I could do……

Finally…I just don’t know how ANY of this can work out!!

All my planning falls in a heap of frustration.

You know what God really wants?

He really wants me to walk one step at a time, one moment at a time, one day at a time.

He wants me to take the next step.  Period.

And to quit stewing over what might be or could be or will it be?!

That’s what Ruth did when she and Naomi left Moab.  There they were, two destitute widows with no plan and no certain future.

But Ruth just did the next thing…took the next step by asking Naomi if she could go glean the grain that the reapers left behind.  She and Naomi needed food, and Ruth had learned that God had told His people to leave grain in the fields for those like her and Naomi.

Ruth couldn’t see what would happen tomorrow or the next day or the following week or next month or next year.

But she knew that today she could go and glean grain.

You and I know the rest of the story, but she certainly didn’t.

And more importantly, God knew all the twists and turns of Ruth’s life and of her future.  He wanted her to each day take the next step of obedience, and to do so without knowing her future.

This is exactly what God wants of me…to walk one step at a time today without trying to leap ahead into tomorrow with all my plans.

All of us have a bridge up ahead in our lives.  We have good things and scary things and hard things up ahead.

But we don’t have to walk across that bridge alone.  If we know God, then He will be right there beside us, guiding us to take that next step.

“Trust the providence of God for tomorrow, and do the next thing in quiet faith today.”  (David Strain)

Yesterday’s Leading

Aaron doesn’t always like to be awakened from his sleep, either in the morning or after an afternoon nap.  Yet when it’s time to get out of bed, it’s time to get out of bed!  And I am often met with his anger during those times. 

One day not long ago he wanted to take a nap.  I asked him if he would get out of bed when I told him it was time.  He promised that he would.  I know Aaron, so I gave him the mom look as we stood there. 

“Mom!” he asked, “do you trust my promise?”

I was honest with him and told him that sometimes he had a hard time keeping his promises when it came to getting out of bed. 

Aaron’s question is one that I feel God is often asking me.

Sometimes the prayers I prayed in the past and the way that God answered leads to a place that is far from perfect.

If my trust is on my circumstances instead of on my heavenly Father, then I will most certainly begin to doubt His leading.

I know better than to live that way.  I know the verses and I know the principles, but life’s realities sure can cloud that knowledge and turn it quickly into doubt and defeat.

God’s promises are not negated because of my feelings.

But my peace can be destroyed because of my feelings.

The trust I had in His leading yesterday is the same trust I need to have in Him when the path He led me to is not necessarily fun and joyful all the time.

Job felt abandoned by God as he endured horrific testing…testing that took place even as Job lived faithfully for God. 

Job expressed his thoughts very honestly in Job 23.  He said that he went forward, and God was not there.  He went backward and did not perceive God.  God did not seem to reveal Himself to Job on the right or on the left. 

BUT!!!

        “BUT He knows the way I take,” Job said.  (Job 23:10)

Ah!  The important thing for me to know is that GOD knows the way I take.  Job was walking God’s path, treasuring God’s words, keeping God’s ways…and still lived with very hard situations in his life.

God knows my path, too…and yours.  As you follow Him and ask for His guidance, then trust Him to do the best in your life.

Yet sometimes the best is tough.

“I’m living my BEST life!” we hear people say.

But then the pictures are usually beautiful and fun and happy.

Mine don’t always look like that.

“Patty?” God says, “do you trust My promise?”

“Yes,” I answer, “but why did You lead me here and now look at how it’s turned out?”

“Because I love you,” God answers.  “I know what’s best for you.”

“I do believe that, of course,” I reply, “but…

“But DO you trust Me?” God asks again.

And I come full circle once again, forced to make a conscious decision about God…to firmly believe that He performs what is appointed for me, as Job said.

“Do you trust my promise?” God repeats.

“I do,” I reply, sometimes through tears, “because I trust YOU.”

Yesterday’s leading is still today’s place for me. 

And that’s because of God…only God.

Feeding on Faithfulness

One of Aaron’s favorite things to do in all the world is to eat out at a restaurant.  The promise of eating out makes every doctor visit or dental procedure totally worth his time. 

Aaron might vary a little in what he will eat at the different restaurants that we visit, but always…if possible…he will order a side salad with “no croutons and two ranches.” 

And often he will order another of his favorites…French fries!

Not long ago, while he munched on his fries at lunch, he had an idea.

“Mom?” he asked, “can we make French fries?”

“I kind of made them last night in the air fryer,” I answered as I reminded him of the potato wedges that we had eaten.

“I didn’t see them that way,” he responded.

I smiled at Aaron’s response. 

He has, yet again, given me something to ponder.

A couple blogging friends mentioned Psalm 37 last week.  I decided to read slowly through that wonderful Psalm in the mornings after my regular Bible study.

Verse 3 jumped out at me.

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”

Guess what the word ‘cultivate’ means?  It means to ‘feed on.’

Dwell in the land and feed on faithfulness.

‘Dwell’ can also mean ‘rest.’

The land is wherever God has put me. 

So, I am to rest where God has put me and feed on faithfulness.

That sounds pleasant at first glance.  But what if the place God has put me is less than ideal? 

What if it’s just downright hard?

Fact is, God didn’t say that I am to be faithful when my pasture is lush and green…when my place in life is fun and easy and fulfilling.

He just said to dwell there in the pasture where He has placed me…stay…rest.

And while there, feed on faithfulness.

Here I am, approaching the age that I used to think was REALLY old, and I am still in a large sense raising a child.  This time of my life was what I used to hear being referred to as having the time of my life. 

Empty nest and all that.

Hasn’t quite worked out that way for us.

But I can’t deny the fact that God didn’t qualify the type of land He would ordain for me.  He just told me to rest there.

And to feed on faithfulness.

You see, we can all be faithful where we are.  The form it takes is what sometimes trips us up.

Caring for Aaron, in all the shapes that caring takes, is me feeding on faithfulness.

But many times, I’m like Aaron as he compared the air fryer potato wedges to French fries.

I don’t see it that way.

I don’t see managing Aaron’s medicines, doctor visits, tons of paperwork, or driving him everywhere as having a lot to do with my faithfulness to God.

I most definitely get tangled up in tiredness and complaining as I work to keep him fed, active, happy, encouraged, and clean.

Sadness at seizures and frustration during behaviors jerk my emotions in all directions.

And as the days turn into weeks and the weeks into months and the months into years, it sure is easy to lose the sense of living in faithfulness to God.

Seems like I often compare my grass to others, and usually theirs is so much greener than mine.

Their feeding on faithfulness seems exciting and fun.

Mine?  Pretty dull and daily.

And often dirty. 

But something I’m learning…ever so slowly…is to look up to God when I feel like looking over to someone else’s land.  Keep my focus on my Shepherd and on the land He has given to me.

To see every tiring moment as an opportunity to trust Him, to do good, to rest in this place, and to feed on faithfulness.

To remind myself, at the end of another tiring day, that God smiles on my faithfulness. 

“I didn’t see it that way, God,” I often think.

“Oh, but I did, my dear,” God whispers. 

And I rest.

Remind Me That I Love You

Mornings for Aaron are definitely the time of day that he struggles the most.  It can really be hard for him to get out of his warm bed and face the day.  Not every morning is difficult, but let’s just say that for Aaron the majority of mornings do not have a right side of the bed.  Both sides are wrong!

Aaron realizes this about himself.  Therefore, sometimes he will tell me to give him a morning reminder that will hopefully help him to be cheerful.  The reminders are about something that the day will hold…something that he is looking forward to and so will encourage him to get up happily. 

For instance, he loves going to Meals on Wheels on Thursday mornings but sometimes he knows on Wednesday night that he may be grouchy the next day.

“Mom,” he says, “tomorrow morning if I don’t want to get out of bed just say Buster.’’

Buster is the little dog at one of our homes that Aaron loves to see and to pet.  And Buster loves seeing Aaron. 

Or on Valentine’s Day, when we were going to pick up roses to take to his day group friends, he knew the night before that he might be irritated about getting up.

“Mom,” he told me, “if I start getting mad in the morning just say roses.”

I love Aaron’s plan of action.  I know he truly does want to be nice in the mornings.  Sometimes his plan works, and well, other times it doesn’t.

One recent evening we were watching a favorite show.  Aaron was all comfy and relaxed on the couch, legs covered in his ever-present blanket, and enjoying a yummy snack.  He was the picture of contentment.

Such was not the case hours earlier as we worked to get Aaron out of bed and on his way for the day.  That morning he was the picture of frustration and anger.

As we sat on the couch enjoying our program, Aaron was filled with happiness.  He finally looked over at me.

“I love you, Mom,” he said.

The moment was genuine and so sweet.

“I love you too, Aaron,” I replied. 

Then he seemed to remember our unhappy morning.

“Tell me I said that in the morning when you’re getting me up,” he added.

His words were a stop-me-in-my-tracks moment.

How many times in my life have I been filled with contentment as things are going well?  Then it’s easy to tell God that I love Him.  And I mean it when I say those words to Him. 

But sometimes the bottom falls out. 

Gary and I had been married for five years before Aaron was born.  That positive pregnancy test was SO huge to us!  How thankful we were!  How full of love for God and His sweet blessing in our lives!

Now here we are, 37 years later, in a place we never dreamed we would be with Aaron. 

Seizures.  Autism.  Behaviors. 

Can I still lift my eyes to God and tell Him that I love Him?

Those warm fuzzy ecstatic moments of my first pregnancy are long gone. 

In their place are many moments of worry, sadness, frustration, and bone-wearying exhaustion.

But here’s the thing.  I know God in a deeply personal way. 

And I know that often His ways in my life are filled with heartache and pain so that I will grow to be more like Jesus.

God hasn’t changed one little bit.

But He calls me to change, and His word tells me that this change toward likeness in Christ will involve the hard things. 

Sometimes I have to will myself to remember all the reasons I have told God that I love Him.

And those reasons cannot be based on my circumstances that are happy and fun.

The reasons I love God are based on WHO He is…His character and His attributes.

I cannot base my love for God on how comfortable I am.

So, like Aaron, there are times in my life when I need to look at God and ask Him to remind me that I said I love Him.

Through my tears, fears, anger, hurt…through all the questions I have about God’s reasons and logic in my life…I must not lose my love for God.

Oh God, tomorrow…when things aren’t going too well, and I feel upset…remind me that I said I love You. 

Remind me that You are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

And remind me of how very much You love me, too.