Trusting God

When Things Don’t Go as You Planned

I wrote this a couple of years ago on another site, but I thought it would be fitting and a good reminder because I’ve lost count how many times I’ve looked longingly at the rosy path from a distance, while God has led the way to the far different, rocky trail in front of me.

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There’s a pile of papers waiting for me to look through. They’re not bills that need to be paid. They’re not my kids’ schoolwork that need to be put away. They’re not letters that need to be opened.

They are papers given to us by a doctor, a specialist in speech pathology and audiology. Why would I have papers like these on my desk? Because one of my children was diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder. So now, we have some decisions to make about therapy, education, and how all of that will affect our whole family. Honestly, it all gets overwhelming sometimes. Hence, the papers remain untouched on that desk.

When a woman first realizes there is this life growing and thriving inside her, there are no limits to her dreams. She dreams of rocking that baby to sleep. She dreams of holding his hand and never letting go. She dreams of showing him the beauty of this world and its Creator. Those were my dreams.

They still are, but the path to each looks far different from what I had imagined. I did not picture doctors, therapies, treatments, psychological assessments, and special needs consultants. But they are there, and I must accept that and believe that even though it’s hard to see sometimes, God will make something beautiful out of this.

I imagine that you probably have something like this in your life. Something that has not turned out exactly the way you planned. Something that you feel is out of your control. May I encourage you to receive it, embrace it, and make the most of it.

There are really only two choices: despair or hope. I have been in despair. It is a dark, dark place and a paralyzing state. But, hope in God is what enables me to keep moving forward and pressing on despite the obstacles before me.

What do you choose?

Trusting God

My Last Post

 

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I was looking through these files the other day. My husband and I had a consultation appointment with a doctor, who specializes in Speech-Language Pathology and Auditory Processing Disorders. The office asked us to bring any past evaluations and assessments that have been conducted on our son. As I sorted through all the paperwork, I came across a polaroid picture of Gabriel that was taken 5 years ago. He was 3 1/2 years old, attending his very first speech therapy session. There’s an obvious look of anxiety in his face. In the picture, you could see him tightly gripping someone’s hand … mine. I remember that day vividly. He was so scared.

Now, here we are. My son is almost 9. The road has been rough, and still, I wonder what is ahead for him and for us. My faith is shaken sometimes, as I share the same anxiety my son felt that day 5 years ago.

This doctor that my husband and I met was recommended to us by some friends, who have been on a similar path with their youngest son. At the end of the appointment, we scheduled Gabriel’s evaluation in June.

Perhaps we’ll get a real diagnosis. Or perhaps the doctor cannot pinpoint exactly what it is.
Perhaps our path will be clearer. Or perhaps it will become more muddled with decisions to be made.
Perhaps we’ll get our questions answered. Or perhaps we’ll find ourselves asking new ones.

I am thankful for the opportunity to have this evaluation done, but I realize that I can’t put my hope in it, its results, or the doctor who will conduct it. No matter the outcome of this evaluation, it is The Lord who will continue to lead us as He has been faithfully doing these past 5 years.

When I began writing here, I never could have imagined this is where it would take me. I want to extend my deepest thanks to you for reading what I have shared here about my journey. Thank you for encouraging me. Thank you for weeping with me. Thank you for praying for me and for my family.

But, I believe it is time. It is time to close this chapter. To look with eager anticipation at the road ahead … though it be rough, God is good. God is most definitely good.

Family Life, Savoring Simple Moments, Trusting God

The Day He Rode Without Training Wheels

“Mommy, I did it! I rode my bike!” Though I could not see his face, the enthusiasm in my son’s voice came through loud and clear over the phone. Doctors had told us early on that delays in Gabriel’s speech development could also mean delays in other areas, such as motor skills. Play dates at the park confirmed this, as I watched my son struggle to climb the jungle gym, while his younger sister whizzed passed him. Eventually, he improved, and he could climb as well as any 8-year-old. But, one thing that he was still not able to do was ride his bike without training wheels.

Even as a preschooler, he had a difficult time riding his tricycle, preferring to move that thing around with his feet, like the Flintstones. Graduating to a bicycle was another huge hurdle for Gabriel to overcome, but training wheels gave him confidence. He had the biggest bike with training wheels at the park, and I wondered if we would ever be able to remove them.

DSC_0010.JPGYesterday, my husband took him out to go bike riding. By God’s providence, one of the training wheels came off as he was riding. My husband decided to leave it off and encouraged our son to keep riding. When he could tell that Gabriel’s confidence was growing, my husband told him, “Son, I’m going to remove the other wheel. Just give it a try.” After a few minor falls, Gabriel was riding around the parking lot with no training wheels. A couple of bystanders watched and cheered on both father and son. One of them, an older gentleman, said to my husband, “Now that’s something to remember!” And after that parking lot ride, I received the phone call from Gabriel. I wish I could’ve recorded his voice and play it back for you all to hear. He was gushing with excitement. I could not contain the tears of joy, for Gabriel’s accomplishment reached deep into my heart.

I’m just like Gabriel. Timid, anxious, and afraid to fall. I want my training wheels because they keep me steady, but God knows when to remove them. He will keep me steady. And as I entrust myself to Him, I will discover that all along, He has always been holding me up.

 

(Photo credit 1: Lotus Carroll)
(Photo credit 2: billjank)

Trusting God

On Cliff’s Edge

edge of cliff aheadIn your pilgrim’s journey, do you sometimes sense you are constantly walking on a path that will lead to your end? Do you feel helpless, hopeless, and alone? And you wonder, why is God leading me here?

I read some encouraging verses the other day, and God comforted my heart. It is too good not to share. We are all going through something, aren’t we? A difficult marriage, rebellious children, a friend’s betrayal, failing health, financial problems, and the list goes on.

On the Edge of a Tafoni Cliff

Whatever your circumstances may be, do you feel like your toes are hanging over the edge of the cliff that even the slightest breeze can bring you down? What is holding you up? Or rather, who is holding you up?

“When I thought, ‘My foot slips,’
your steadfast love, O LORD, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many,
your consolations cheer my soul.”
(Psalm 94:18-19)

 

Photo credit 1: tbone_sandwich
Photo credit 2: Orin Zebest

Coping with the Challenges, Trusting God

The Fight to Worship

SooMee and AndyWe sat down during worship service, and Gabriel was fidgety as usual. With a song sheet in hand, his dad tried to get him to focus on something by inviting him to follow along the lyrics during the congregational singing. This worked last week. This Sunday was a different story. He didn’t want to sing, but he sat there quietly enough that we let him be. When the sermon began, he decided he wanted to sing after all. This didn’t surprise us. Often, Gabriel will do this. He will want to go back to something he had originally turned down long after the activity had already passed. Do-over’s aren’t always possible, as in this situation, and it can sometimes be extremely difficult to help Gabriel move on.

So, for the first 15 minutes of the sermon, my husband tried to explain to Gabriel that he needed to proceed to the next thing. I bowed my head in prayer, painfully aware that my son’s anxiety was beginning to rise to a level that could very well explode. I tried not think of the people sitting around us, who I’m sure could tell of the conflict that was taking place. My mind was spinning, and try as I may, I could not understand a word my pastor was saying. Why did this have to happen now? I thought. Spiritual battles don’t necessarily happen in the dark, secret corners of your house. For me, it was happening right in the middle of a worship service.

Then, all of a sudden, as if The Lord flicked a switch in my son’s mind, he stopped completely, opened his notebook and started doodling as if the quiet argument never happened. Eventually, The Lord calmed my heart and began draw me into His Word.

Before the service ended, we sang one last song.

And right now
In the good times and bad
You are on Your throne
You are God alone

Drowning in an ocean of despair, God displayed a bright ray of hope to me. He is there sitting on His throne. He is still in control. I cannot begin to go the depths of all of God’s purposes for allowing that small battle to occur. Could He not keep Gabriel’s mind from going back and forth? Why did He not give us complete, undistracted time from the beginning? We were, after all, there to worship. I can’t tell you all the reasons why God presented us with this obstacle. But, I will tell you this … in the end, He brought me to worship. And, when I closed my eyes to sing that last song, my heart wrapped around every word.

“You are on Your throne.”

 

(Photo credit: quinn.anya)

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Prayer & Devotion, Trusting God

Don’t Just Pray … Pray Believing

cold prayerThis past Sunday, my pastor exhorted us to trust God to provide for our needs and to pray in faith. Sometimes, my prayers are weak and feeble, filled with doubt. Do I pray, believing that God can truly answer, even when my circumstances seem bleak and hopeless?

A year and a half ago, my husband and I were given an opportunity to trust God more and pray in faith. He accepted a job, where he worked from home, which seemed to be a good thing at first. But, we soon came to realize that this job required him to be at his computer 20 hours a day, and the remaining 4 hours was spent getting some needed sleep. Time with family and ministry suffered. And, we knew something had to be done. In faith, my husband quit his job. During those months without any income, we still ate and paid all our bills. The numbers didn’t add up, of course, and at the end of the day, our stomachs and hearts were fully satisfied. The Lord still miraculously multiplies loaves and fish today.

So, why is it still hard for me sometimes to pray big when I have a big God who will answer beyond what I can even ask or think? He has done it before for my family during our time of unemployment. He has not changed. He is still faithful.

20140304-215019.jpgSunday’s sermon was exactly what I needed to hear. My pastor shared a story of faithful, courageous prayer … a story that is worth hearing over and over again. It is of George Müller. He had been entrusted by The Lord to run an orphanage in England in the 1800s. During his lifetime, he cared for over 10,000 children.

One particular morning, the children gathered together in the dining room as usual for breakfast, and George Müller thanked God for the food that He will provide. You see, on that morning, when he prayed, the children stared at empty plates. There was no food. But George Müller prayed, believing in God, his Provider.

Only minutes after he finished praying, there was a knock on the door. It was the baker. “Mr. Müller,” he said, “last night I could not sleep. Somehow I knew that you would need bread this morning. I got up and baked three batches for you. I will bring it in.”

Soon after, another knock on the door, and this time, it was the milkman with a broken cart right in front of the orphanage. Unable to fix his cart and not wanting all the milk to spoil, he asked George Müller if he could use some free milk.

That day, about 300 children were fed. That day, God answered prayer. And He still does it today.

“Faith does not operate in the realm of the possible. There is no glory for God in that which is humanly possible. Faith begins where man’s power ends.” –George Müller

 

(Photo credit 1: Keith Riley-Whittingham)
(Photo credit 2: Wikimedia Commons)

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Trusting God

Found: Joy

Some time last year, I was chatting with a woman from my church. She had said to me, “I don’t know you well. And, forgive me if I’m wrong, but I saw you the other day, and it seemed by your face that there’s just something heavy on your heart.” She really took a risk by saying that. Like she said, we didn’t know each other well, and I could’ve just given her a canned “Everything is fine” answer and avoided crossing her path in the future. But, in her words, she was attempting to reach out when my facial expression that she had noticed before probably said, “Please leave me alone.” I praise God that this sister in The Lord was willing to step out of her comfort zone in order to be used by Him.

Thank you, Target.This conversation got me thinking. What do I look like when I’m out and about, doing what I usually do? Do I look sad? Mad? Distressed? What does my countenance say to the outside world? Moreover, what does my countenance say about the state of my heart? Is the external an accurate reflection of the internal?

I have to admit that at the time that this woman approached me, I was going through a great deal of inner turmoil. In other words, I had no joy.

What is joy? It is not merely a giggly, happy, smiley demeanor. Although true joy can result in these outward manifestations, it must be rooted in something far deeper.

“You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

(Psalm 16:11)

According to this verse, complete and perfect joy is found in The Lord. There was my answer. Joy had seemed out of my reach because I was not spending time with my Lord.

Even though I was reading the Word and teaching the Bible to my kids, serving in my church and praying for others, meeting with other women and offering biblical counsel . . . even though I was doing all these spiritual activities, I know I was not in the presence of my God. I know because when trials came, I was in despair. I know because when conflicts arose, I responded in my flesh. I know because I had no joy.

Do you have true joy today? Are you busy with “church” but feel far from the Head of the church? He has invited you. He has torn the veil in two so that you may boldly enter in. Come and approach the throne of grace, where joy and pleasures have no end.

 

(Photo credit: Jennifer Gaillard)

Trusting God

The Bigger Picture

Make a Grocery List Before You Go (192/365)After a couple of very challenging days with the kids last week, my husband called me while on the way home from work one day and said, “I’ll stay with the kids tonight. Why don’t you go out and have some time for yourself?” I wish I could tell you how spiritual I am and that I eagerly put my Bible next to my purse, anticipating my undistracted quiet time with The Lord. Instead, I whipped up a quick-fix dinner, grabbed my shopping list, printed some coupons, and waited for my husband to walk through the door. When I told him what stores I would be going to, he very sweetly said, “Try to make some time to be with The Lord too.” Proudly, I replied, “I already had my Bible devotions this morning.” Still in the same sweet voice, he said to me, “I think you need this.”

As an aside, I told my friend about this conversation, and she said, “It’s like when someone offers you some gum, and you tell them, ‘No thank you.’ But they really want to say to you, ‘Please take the gum. You really need it.'” Yes, I really needed it. I was creating quite a stink in my home.

That night, The Lord spoke to me through Exodus, the account of the plagues on Egypt. A very familiar story. But I observed something I had never noticed before.

“Seven full days passed after the LORD had struck the Nile.” (Exodus 7:25)

This was after the first plague when God turned the waters of the Nile into blood. The people of Israel had been crying out to The Lord for deliverance from the Egyptians. Their answer would come, but not right away.  They saw seven days after the death of the Nile, and nine more plagues would follow.

Why didn’t The Lord just deliver them after the first request to Pharaoh? Why did God continue to harden Pharaoh’s heart? Why so many plagues? But this was about more than just the deliverance of the Israelites. For the glory of His name, God accomplished so much more.

parting the red seaSeven days passed after the first plague, but the Bible doesn’t specify how much more time passed from then until the final plague. In that unknown window of time, God demonstrated His power over the waters, over the animals, over the weather, over light and darkness, and over life and death. He displayed His wrath towards an unrepentant king and his country. He raised up a timid man to lead a multitude. He taught His people how to wait on Him. He gave them favor with the very ones who had despised them. He granted them salvation.

In my life … in your life, God is accomplishing so much more than we can see. We may be waiting for deliverance, like the Israelites. We may struggle with a timid spirit, like Moses. We may be facing a seemingly impenetrable obstacle, like the Red Sea. Perhaps there seems to be an easier way for God to answer our prayers, but He doesn’t seem to be leading us in that direction.

We may have to wait seven full days. Maybe more. Let us cease striving. Our God is an awesome God, and He is doing more than we are able to comprehend.

 

(Photo credit 1: trenttsd)
(Photo credit 2: amboo who?)

Community, Trusting God

The Nearness of God

Two Friends, One Beach

I have a friend, who is going through the most difficult trial of her life. A little over a year ago, her husband abandoned her, their marriage covenant, and The Lord. God has given me the privilege of being with her throughout this trial, listening to her, encouraging her, and praying with her. Recently, she said to me, “I’ve never been as close to God as I am now.”

Another sister in Christ shared with me a different kind of trial. This sister is just beginning her marriage, but she has been facing hostility from her husband’s family. They slander her when she is not present and refuse to acknowledge her when she is. With all this mistreatment, she has no idea why they hate her so much. In an email she sent to me, she wrote, “Although it hurts and I wish they wouldn’t be so cruel, a part of me feels closer to God …”

These two women are living examples of James 1:2.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds”

I am sure what they are having to endure is difficult. I am sure they desire a resolution to their trial soon. I am sure they hope and pray for a happy ending: that the husband who left would come to his senses and return to The Lord and his wife, and that the strained family relationships would be reconciled for this newly married woman.

Though they would wish to be under different circumstances, I am sure they would want one thing to remain: their nearness to their God.

The Lord has crafted the trial in each woman’s life in such a way that would give Him the most glory. As they draw close to Him and proclaim His steadfast love, His empowering strength, His abundant goodness, and His sufficient grace, He is glorified!

One coffee?So, here I am, trying to be a good friend to these sisters and help them in their time of need. But I am the one who has been encouraged in my own trial. The Lord has shown me by these women’s lives what true joy in the midst of a storm looks like.

I wish that I knew what exactly is going on with my son, Gabriel. I wish that we didn’t clash so much when we try to communicate with one another. I wish he got along better with his siblings. I wish he would stop all the repetition that masters him. I wish my circumstances were different.

But if, through this trial, God is drawing me closer to Himself, then I will wish no more. Instead, I will hope … I will hope in Him.

From this tangled mess of sin, frustration, doubt, and fear, God is weaving a beautiful tapestry. I can’t see it yet; I must wait … and when He has completed His work, people will behold His masterpiece and say, “To God be the glory!”

 

(Photo credit 1: Damian Gadal)
(Photo credit 2: Sheilasan)

Trusting God

Comforting Light

LightWhen our son Gabriel was younger and began expressing fears of the dark, we bought a night light. It was fine for a few days, but then, he began to notice that the night light would cast some ominous-looking shadows on the walls and ceiling. So, we got rid of the night light. Then, the tiny red light from the smoke detector above the doorway began to scare him. So, we had to put a few layers of masking tape over the red light. We decided to leave the bedroom door slightly ajar and left the hallway light on. This allowed just enough light into the room without producing any strange shadows.

One very memorable night, I woke up with a sudden jolt by a chorus of screaming. In the midst of the panic, I could hear my daughter shouting at the top of her lungs, “I can’t see! I can’t see!” With no time to battle with sleepiness, I jumped out of bed, and upon opening my door, I saw what my children saw: complete darkness. It was a blackout. Usually, I could still make out things in the dark, but this night was different. It was an eerie darkness that could be felt. I literally could not see my hand in front of my face, and it was strange, trying to make my way in a pitch black room to where my children were crying out for comfort. What horror they must’ve felt to awaken and only see darkness!

What is desirable about the darkness? Yet, the Bible says that people love the darkness.

“And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)

Steep TrailBut for those of us who have seen and received the light, who no longer grope about or try to hide in the shadows … for those of us whose path has been illuminated by Jesus Christ, there is no longer any fear. We take each step confidently because we see clearly. Even when we are walking on a treacherous path, where one wrong step could mean our ultimate ruin, He is the lamp to show us the way.

Do you still have fears of some dark shadows in your heart? Perhaps some unconfessed sin. Or maybe a situation that you need to surrender to Him. The Lord wants us to cast them on Him. He is light, and He dispels all darkness. Will you find rest and peace in the comfort of His light?

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
(Psalm 139: 11-12)

 

(Photo credit 1: Aidan O’Sullivan)
(Photo credit 2: herzogbr)