Perfect was never God’s plan for us.

This post was originally featured on REAL Woman Ministries

gods-design

 

I sat waiting for those all too familiar feelings of shame and regret to begin to flood over me; but this time was different, this time, those feelings never came. The choice I had just made to react to my son’s behavior instead of respond to it left me knowing that my decision was not one birthed of the spirit but out of the flesh, so why didn’t I feel the shame I had come to know so well? Where were those feelings of regret that left me begging God for forgiveness?

For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT

Shame and regret are two emotions the enemy uses in his attempt to condemn us. If we buy into this lie then we begin to believe that we are unworthy of God’s love. We start to ask ourselves “how can God possibly use me when I just …” We then question if we heard God right, did he really call me into this area of ministry when I can’t even keep it together in my own home. As you can see the seemingly innocent thoughts of shame and regret soon spiral into deep feelings of doubt that burrow into the core of who we are, leaving us questioning whether we are actually living out our calling.
Nineteen years ago I gave birth to a son I knew would have special needs. The extent of those needs was unknown and to this day we are still discovering more and more about the scope of care he requires. I can say with 100% certainty that God has used my experiences as a single mother of a special needs child to prepare me for the dreams he buried in my heart many years ago. Those are the same dreams that the enemy tries to attack every time I don’t perfectly walk out my Christianity. On this particular day when I reacted to my son’s meltdown by barking orders at him and demanding he pull himself together I expected shame and regret to be ushered in, but as I sat quietly before the Lord I felt Him ministering to my soul.
God began to bring to mind countless bible characters whose walk was less than perfect and whose Christianity could have been seen as flawed. Like when Sarai (Sarah) decided that if she couldn’t bore Abram (Abraham) a son surly Hagar (Sarah’s slave) could. Genesis 16:2-4 Or Martha who felt the pressure to please and perfect while her sister chose to sit at the feet of Jesus soaking up every ounce of His presence. Luke 10-38-42 Neither of these women was stripped of their calling because they made a decision that was birthed out of their emotions.
They both reacted to the situation that was presented to them instead of taking the time to pray it through and respond. Yet, God still kept His promise to Sarah and Isaac was born. (Genesis 21) Martha truly thought she was doing what she was called to do and I just love the way The Message translates Jesus’ response to Martha.

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it – it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.

While Jesus did deny Martha’s request to order her sister Mary to help her he also took the time to redirect his friend and help her step back onto the path God have paved.
I believe that while we may not be able to sit at the feet of Jesus in the physical sense we surely can do this in the spiritual sense. We can soak up every ounce of His presence and invite Him to fix us, mend us, heal us, and guide us down the path that was paved specifically for us. We can thank Him for the opportunity to learn such valuable lessons in faith and pray that the next time we are faced with an emotionally charged situation that we will cling to the one who holds all the answers – Jesus.

What the enemy meant for evil God will use for good. Every. Single. Time.

sifted-like-wheat

“Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.” As I read that verse God began to connect all the dots, drawing a line for one situation to another until I began to see the bigger picture behind these last few weeks. It all suddenly seemed so clear. What I was experiencing was spiritual warfare.

Back on April 25, 2016, I received a call that brought tears to my eyes and made me want to dance all at once. I had been awarded a full scholarship to attend the Christian Communicators Conference in Ashville, North Carolina where I would spend five days breathing in fresh mountain air while surrounded by thirty other Godly women who have been called to speak and write for the glory of God.

I was going to be prepared so I crafted my five-minute talk, committed it to memory and practiced it for months. One of the amazing perks of this conference is that we were going to be professionally videotaped and then given a link to these demo videos to upload on our blogs and or websites. Any speaker knows that you can have the most amazing website but if you don’t have a good demo video the chances of you being asked to speak are slim to none.  This was an opportunity for me to allow others to see the passion that God has planted within me. Passion for teaching His word and encouraging others to dig deeper so they too can discover the treasures that lie within the pages of the Bible.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016, just one week before I was due to leave for the conference God made if painfully clear that the talk I had built over the last few months was NOT was He was calling me to speak about. He gave me a scripture and I immediately knew in my heart that this was it. This was what he was calling me to talk about; Luke 13:10-13. To say that I was upset would be a gross understatement. There was no way I was going to be able to feel as confident and comfortable speaking on this topic as I was on the previous one, the one I had spent so many hours pouring into. But you see, that was the point. I was operating in my own strength and in my own confidence and God can’t work there. I needed to be stripped down to nothing and then recrafted by the hand of God if I truly desired to speak for the glory of His kingdom.

I left for the airport with no introduction, no conclusion and more fear than I had experienced in years. The conference that I had been looking forward to for months was now something I began to dread and the attacks only got worse with every step that led me closer to God’s calling on my life.

Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers. Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Wheat is sifted in order to separate what is useful from what is useless. When scripture tells us that Satan desires to sift us like wheat I can see why he would want to remove those parts of us that are useful (to the kingdom of God) and leave behind all the things that are useless (to the kingdom of God). For example, I know that God has not given me a spirit of fear, yet I was crippled by it (this became my introduction). God has given each of us a set of spiritual gifts that we are called to use to bless others, but during my five days in Ashville, I doubted my gifts more times than I can count. Every free moment I had I grabbed my bible and heading to a secluded place to seek His face and His will for my life but the attacks kept coming. At one point I walked a trail singing praise and worship songs out loud in an attempt to slay the enemy with the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. I was being sifted by Satan, all that was in me for God’s glory was being cast aside to make room for the lies that the enemy of my soul was poisoning me with.

“You’re not good enough”

“You’re not as good as…”

“No one will care about your message”

All those things are true, I’m not good enough (on my own). I’m not as good as…(because I was created to be me). No one wants to hear my message (but His message, spoken through me, is life changing.) The enemy told me pieces of what was true but then I coupled it with God’s truth and it became a game changer.

On Saturday, August 27, 2015, I stood and spoke the words God had laid on my heart. I used the fear, that Satan attempted to cripple me with, as my introduction and for the glory of God. I spoke His words instead of mine. I gave up my well-crafted talk for His wholly-anointed one. The truth is I don’t remember a lot of what I said but I do remember a powerful feeling of knowing that I had just stepped into my calling.

When the condemning screams of the enemy seem louder than the still small voice of God we need to take a step back and reconnect with the lover of our soul. I encourage each of you to spend five minutes basking in the presence of God, allow Him to show you who He has created you to be “and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (and sisters).

 

A daddy’s delight

a daddy's delight

Then I was beside him as a master craftsman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” Proverbs 8:30

I love people! I especially love watching people and over the years I have developed a skill in people watching. I notice the actions, interactions and emotions of others and typically these situations turn into inspiration much like the one I witnessed one morning on my drive to work.

A couple stood by their running car attempting to coax their toddler into the backseat. I could see her frown from the road and actually could sympathize with what I felt her frown was attempting to convey. “Why in the heck is it okay for you people to wake me up this darn early?” Her mom stood at the driver’s door while her dad did everything humanly possible to persuade her to get into her car seat. When his efforts failed he gathered her up in his arms, whispered something in her ear and then tossed her into the air which elicited an audible squeal from this little girl. Her frown quickly melted away and was replaced with roaring laughter and the sweet, sweet words “do it again daddy, do it again.”  The trust that this little girl had for her father was no accident, it had been earned. The first time he threw her up in the air I suspect that fear set in as she soared through the sky but as soon as her daddy caught her he gained her trust. Doesn’t that sound a little like our walk with God?

I couldn’t help but smile as I watched this daddy delight in his precious daughter and then I began to think of how God delights in us. I imagine that on that day when our faith becomes our sight that a scene, much like that one described above, might take place. Picture yourself being gathered up into the arms of the father, squealing with uncontrollable delight, as He whispers in your ear and prepares you for the amazing things that are about to happen.

I believe that initially our relationship with our heavenly father is a direct reflection of our relationship with our earthly father. Growing up my dad and I didn’t have a very good relationship. We are a lot alike and we fought often; both of us believing we were right and justified in our anger towards one another. His attempts to parent me always ended in my rebellion. Oh, how that sounds like my early walk with the Lord. When things were going well I read my bible, I prayed and I attempted to be a “good” Christian. When I failed to perform up to par in life I’d begin to feel feelings of shame and I’d hide from God. Now, I realize I wasn’t really hiding from God but at the time I felt like I was. I didn’t feel good enough to be in his presence so I’d stop praying, I felt unworthy of such an amazingly so I’d shame myself into believing that God couldn’t possibly love a broken vessel like me. When my eyes were suddenly opened I began to notice a pattern in my behavior, this was the same way I’d feel every time my dad and I would fight. I’d go to my room and shame myself into believing I was unloved, misunderstood and unwanted, so naturally when I began my walk with the Lord I entered into that relationship with the same false mindsets.

BUT GOD!

He was able to take me on a journey into self-discovery. One that uncovered all my hidden wounds which and left me vulnerable before Him. He exposed all that was buried deep within me, and through it all, he loved me and delighted in me in ways that helped shed those feelings of shame as I learned to run into the loving arms of my daddy instead of running away.

ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOUR SOUL

“For the lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” Zephaniah 3:17 (NLT)

When you think of the word rejoice what are the first things that come to mind? Spinning? Skipping? Dancing? Singing? Now imagine that this is how God rejoices over you. Not when you’re perfect and on point but when you are simply being you. You are favored in His sight and there is not a single person who could do a better job of being you. Learn to embrace all that God has created you to be, because no matter how hard you try you’ll always make a terrible someone else.

NEXT STEPS

Think about a time when God was faithful even when you weren’t and then praise Him for his faithfulness, for His unending love, and for the songs He sings over you with joy. Spend a couple minutes marveling over just how amazing our God is.

Officer #49, me and God

peace

Slow. Down.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from Him

Psalm 62:5

That was the message that was coming through loud and clear as I took the time to actually evaluate my current situation. I had just left work and was sitting in a fully stopped line of traffic attempting to merge onto the freeway. It is not uncommon in my life as a single working mother to transition quickly from one thing to another and on this particular day I was heading from work to school when the lights began to flash behind me. I hadn’t even been moving so I was certain that those light must have been a warning for me to move out of his way so he could pull over the real culprit, those thoughts were quickly redirected when he began to motion for ME to pull over.
Me? I’m a rule follower how could he be pulling me over I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong I wasn’t even moving. As the officer approached my car I remembered that in my mad rush to get my house ready to be moved I had set my current insurance on my kitchen table with every intention of placing it in my car.

License, proof of insurance and registration please

Ugh!
“I don’t have it with me, I’m sorry. I actually left it on my kitchen table.”

Did I do something wrong?”
Now I know that at this moment he believed that I was lying to him as I’m sure he is lied to often. I am certain that when he answered my “did I do something wrong” question that he also believed I was lying when I appeared shocked at his disclosure, but God used that moment to speak a very important truth into my heart.
Officer #49 stated the following “your plates have been expired since April”
Now, I didn’t think he was lying to me I just knew that there had to be some mistake, I’d never drive for 3 months on expired plates. Surely there was a mix up at The Secretary of State the day I renewed my plates or maybe I had forgotten to put my new sticker on my plate. A list of excuses flooded my thoughts as I waited for him to return to my car, never once did I even entertain the thought of it being my fault. That I had in fact forgotten to renew my plates.
Through guidance on God’s part, I quickly realized that God had been preparing me for a message the past few weeks, maybe even months that I hadn’t quite received. The message was now clear as I realized that I am the only one to blame for this mix-up. There hadn’t been a faulty computer system, the officer’s computer hadn’t reported back false information and I hadn’t simply forgotten to put the new sticker on my plate. No, I had actually in all the crazy busyness of my brain forgotten to renew my license plate.
God’s message to slow down was now crystal clear to me. I take time every day to read my bible, pray and spend time in His presence. I even walk around looking for signs and wonders that display His fingerprints on everything I see. I thank Him for the trials in my life and I thank Him for the blessings. I find time to fill up so I can pour out on to others but God was asking me for more. He didn’t want the schedule I had set and penciled Him into, He wanted me to stop long enough to hear that still small voice that speaks to the depth of who I really am. God needed me to see that busyness is a sneaky tool the enemy uses to throw us off course and push us just outside of the will of God.

As I sat by the lake on Saturday morning admiring the amazing handiwork of God he spoke a truth to my heart that opened up a whole new perspective for me.

He has tucked many blessings in the moments we will live out today but when we rush through the day waiting for the next weekend, waiting to meet our mate, waiting until we graduate, have our dream job, become parents, or even become better parents, we miss what is laid out right in front of us. We have no promise of tomorrow, yet so many of us are living as if we have a million tomorrows.
My prayer is that God would fully open our eyes to see Him in everything. That we would take the time to stop and marvel at his masterpiece. That we would thank Him for where he has us today and if that is a hard place for you, that we could thank him for the blessings and gifts that will come from that hard place. We are not on this journey alone but often times we push aside the only one that can get us through it. Father, give us ears to hear you, eyes to see you and hearts that desire more of you. Guide us into a place of rest that only you can give us, quench our hearts of the thirst for more by filling our souls with your living water. Send the Holy Spirit to minister to each of us in ways we could never deny. And father, please forgive us for the busyness of life that places a wedge between our ability to have a relationship with you. Thy will be done!
The weight of all my responsibilities often sits heavy on my mind and heart. I make a list of all that needs to be accomplished when all the while my soul is longing for peace, simplicity and less. Father, create in me a desire for more of you and less of me. Help me hand over all that I am and all that I’m not. May I lay it down at the foot of the cross where I know you can and will pick it up. You then return it to me fresh, light and polished up with all your grace and mercy.

I am nobody.

worship
Yesterday was a rough day here at our house. It had all the makings of a situation that could have ruined our day but instead I made an intentional choice to push through and declare victory.
 
Clinton has been refusing to take his meds for weeks and it is evident in his behavior. He became angry, aggressive and verbally abusive which left me no choice but to call for back up…the police. I am both proud and a little ashamed to admit that the Warren police department knows us by name. I am proud because they know that I am a single mom raising a child with special needs and they have no problem coming over and helping to smooth out a situation that is out of control. Ashamed because this lets you all know how often I’ve had to utilize this tool and how many more times I’ve had to threaten it.
 
God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called 
I, in no way feel qualified to walk out this mission of being a single mom raising a child with special needs, but neither did Moses as he stood talking to the burning bush. Shoes off, face covered and intently listening as the voice of God told him that he had been hand selected to lead God’s chosen people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. Moses’ response to God is eerily similar to my own pleas to God.
Moses  -“I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Me -” I am nobody. How can I go through this season with humility, joy, and patience.
I’ve actually been known to give God a list of women I feel would be better suited for this sensitive mission and believe me, my name is no where on that list.
God tells Moses that He will be with him and that is how he will accomplish all that he is being called to accomplish. It is not through his own knowledge,  fearlessness or his charismatic character that these things will be done.
It is only through God that we can accomplish the things that seem impossible because with God all things are possible.
I am certain that on those days that I stand before God with my face buried in my hands praying for help He is saying to me “I will be with you”
In the flesh I am a single parent but in the spiritual realm of things I am never alone. God is with me, guiding me, encouraging me, strengthening me, and equipping me for the work He has called me to accomplish.
How is God equipping you to do the work set before you? How are you responding to His call?

When the dream doesn’t match the diagnosis

Jesus healed her

This past weekend I had the incredible blessing of serving at an event that is very dear to my heart. This amazing event pampered 140 moms and wives whose lives have been transformed by either a special needs child or a special needs husband. These women were served an eloquent lunch, and then offered services such as massages, makeup, hair and nails, all in an attempt to celebrate these incredible women by giving them a day where they were the ones being served, pampered and loved on.

When a friend suggested that I attend this event I immediately knew God was calling me to serve at it instead. It’s true I do have a son with special needs and it would have been nice to be on the receiving end of a little pampering but I don’t think I could have made the amazing connections with these spectacular women had I been on the other end of it. When I inquired about serving I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing or how I’d be able to give of my time. I’m not very good at doing makeup so I surely wouldn’t want to send these woman home looking like they just left clown class. I am way better at doing my own hair than I am at doing other people’s hair. In fact, My daughter actually says she feels like she’s going to throw up every time I do her hair. I didn’t want to put that to the test to see if this is an isolated incident or if I could possibly make others feel the urge to hurl by simply touching their hair. I am no masseuse so that was out of the questions. However, I have always enjoyed doing my own nails and felt I could offer this service so I packed up all my nail accessories and prayed God would shower me with His favor as I decorated the nails of His precious daughters.

As these women walked up and we began to talk they seemed eager to share their stories, show their pictures and welcome me into their lives. I talked about my own son who has special needs and that seemed to somehow relax them as they realized I understood their struggles, fears, and doubts. As I did life with these women for the next few hours a theme began to emerge. One that I knew very well. One that I had struggled with just years prior. One that still tries to creep its way into my thoughts every now and then.  Each woman in her own way expressed her deep sorrow over broken dreams.

Luke 13:10-13 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11 And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not fully straighten herself. 12 When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, Woman, you are freed from your disability.” 13 And he laid his hands on her, and immediately she was made straight, and she glorified God.

The gospel according to Luke tells us the parable about a crippled woman in the synagogue who was healed by Jesus on the Sabbath. There are a few things about this text that I find very interesting and strikingly similar to the emotions that these women were expressing to me on Saturday. First, it says that this crippled woman was bent over and unable to straighten up and had been this way for 18 years. Can you imagine walking around every day seeing nothing but the dirt? Not being able to see the faces of those you so badly desire to connect with. While the text doesn’t specifically talk about the hopelessness of this woman one can only assume it was there. Not being able to lift your eyes up to the heavens surely must have ushered a ton of negative thoughts into her mind. After all, all she could see was dirt. Secondly, Jesus desired to free this woman from all that held her down. He didn’t ask for anything in return or tell her she needed to do this or that in order to receive His healing. His love for her is what drove him to heal her.

When we allow ourselves to focus on the dirt in our lives, our eyes become fixated on the battle instead of on the blessing. We see all that is wrong and broken but struggle to see what is standing right before us inviting us to straighten up and offer praise unto the Lord. Each of the women that I spoke to in one way or another mentioned that one of the hardest things for them was letting go of their dreams. The dream of having a perfect family, the perfect husband and perfect kids. The one that says 2.5 kids is “the norm” and if you have a white picket fence to go along with that handsome husband and beautiful healthy babies then you’ve somehow accomplished success in your life. But then you hear those unexpected words. That ugly diagnosis that just doesn’t fit into your dream.

Autism.

Downs.

Spina bifida.

To name just a few. Suddenly all the dreams you had for your child have shifted and your biggest concerns are now wrapped around getting through the next medical procedure, introducing new medications, or worrying about how you’ll be able to afford to properly care for a child with special needs. I have been there my sweet, sweet friend. I had to mourn all the dreams I had for my son. I had big dreams for him but that’s just it, they were my dreams for him. He doesn’t care about any of the things that I once thought he’d accomplish. Being a doctor, a lawyer or the next captain of the Detroit Red Wings. He actually doesn’t like doctors very much, and the first and only time I took him to a Red Wings game he cried because it was too loud and begged me to leave the game with a tied score in the 3rd period. Insert pity here!

I spent the first 13 years of my son’s life trying to get him to fit the mold of what society said he should be. I parented him according to how I thought he should be and not according to who he actually was. The most beautiful thing happened when I buried my dreams for him; suddenly I began to see his dreams shine through. I had unintentionally and unknowingly been smothering his dreams by trying to get him to be the son I thought he should be. There was love behind my motives but it gave way to disastrous results. I saw more meltdowns, we had more arguments, and I began to avoid certain social situations because I felt judged and embarrassed. While other parents were reporting the milestones of their children I was struggling to understand daily meltdowns, temper tantrums and his socially awkward behavior.

Years ago I took my kids to a work picnic where a bike was being raffled off. Boy did my son want that bike. He had no concept of how many other boys wanted that same bike so when the ticket was pulled and the number read and it wasn’t his, he threw himself down on the ground began crying uncontrollably and kicking anything or anyone that came within reach. I was mortified as I watched my co-workers stare. I knew what they were thinking. Because they were thinking the same things I used to think when I saw an “out of control” child in public.

“Control you child”

“My child would NEVER behavior like that and get away with it”

“Isn’t he too old to be having temper tantrums?”

“What a spoiled brat”

“you just need to give him one good A@@ whipping, that would straighten him out”

What I didn’t know at the time was that my son had trouble processing information and that all I needed to do was walk him through the situation in detail which would usually prevent a meltdown. He needed to know what to expect, he needed to know that there was a possibility he might not win this bike he so desperately wanted. I also had no idea that being at a picnic with a hundred other people over stimulated him in ways he couldn’t manage on his own. I didn’t know that getting to know my son would teach me how to be a better parent. Because regardless of what I may have thought standing over him while he is  having a “stimulation overload” saying “get up and stop misbehaving” is never going to bring about the results I was hoping for.

I don’t have it all figured out. I still see meltdowns and as a matter of fact my son had one yesterday that was so severe I had to skip church. But through all of this the one thing I can say is that I am no longer standing with my eyes fixed on the dirt. Jesus called me forward and said, “Woman, your are freed from your disability.” By the way, that boy who melted down yesterday told me something this morning that made my heart dance. Last night he prayed that he’d wake up in time to wish me a happy birthday before I left for work. I am blessed to have two of the greatest kids ever made and to think of what I would have missed out on if I would have continued to force them into molds they were never meant to fit into.

To all of you, amazing women and men who have been blessed to raise these extraordinary children keep your eyes on fixed on Him the only one who can see things as they should be, not as they are. Hand your precious child over to Him whose love is all encompassing, transcending, and everlasting and allow His hand to guide you, His light to guide your steps and His truth to free you from whatever keeps your eyes fixed on the dirt.

Your turn

Are you a parent of a child with special needs? If so, I’d love to hear your story. Have you been fixing your eyes on the dirt instead of the designer? I invite you to pull up a chair at my table so we can dance through the storm together.

The devil is no match for my Jesus

sparkle

Psalm 46:1-3 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging

Learning to accept God’s love, I mean really accept it was probably the most difficult thing I’ve done thus far. I know in all my intellect that God’s love is immeasurable, never-ending, and all-encompassing but how do you teach someone to receive love, especially a love so divine. There isn’t just one simple answer, it actually took years for me to be able to stop running away from God in all my shame.  To learn to face Him instead of covering my face from Him. I needed to stand before Him in all my brokenness, head hung, teary eyed, and open-hearted and allow Him to do the work that needed to be done. No matter how painful, how uncomfortable or how much I desired to stay in the safety of my deceits.
I had been in a dance with the devil for so long believing in the lies he had whisper into my life. “No one could ever love you, you can’t even love you.”
“You’ll never be anything more than a screw-up.”  “How can you possibly think that God could use a broken mess like you?”
I’m wiser now and those lies no longer poison my thoughts but to say I am free from the torment of the devil would be to say I am no longer growing spiritually. With every step, stride, and sprint I take towards God I am up against the one who hates my soul. The one who will lie, scheme and deceive in order to knock me off course. But I have my eye on the prize. I can see the finish line.  And I know that my reward is waiting for me on the other side.
It’s true that this life will bring pain. We will cry both tears of joy and tears of sorrow. We will lose people we love, relationships will fall apart and disappointments will threaten to weaken us. Broken dreams and broken hearts will walk hand and hand but as gloomy as that all sounds we have hope. We have a savior. We have Jesus fighting and interceding on our behalf. We have God’s word to guide our steps, mend our hearts, and heal our wounds. We’ve been given the greatest gift ever given…salvation. All we need to do is accept it.  Open it up and put on the cloak of righteousness, adorn ourselves in His glory, and allow His light to shine through us. I have seen the light of Jesus make a single tear sparkle brighter than a diamond.

 I was a rough weekend at my house, every little thing sent Clinton into a rapidly descending spiral. Words were thrown from his mouth like daggers to my soul. Tears soaked the front of his shirt as he sat outside hiding his head in his hands. I stood in the kitchen continuing to wash the dishes, I think I probably washed the same glass for 10 minutes as I broke my heart open before God.

Help me, father! Give me the words to speak life into this situation, grace me with enough mercy to walk into the battlefield and end this war.

 God in all His faithfulness will always answer a plea for help. I knew in that moment if I reacted to my son’s behavior I’d soon be in my own downward spiral. I needed divine guidance, the Holy Spirit needed to take over because my flesh was raging with ugliness.  God allowed me just a momentary glimpse into the despair my son was feeling and gave me the exact words to speak to him in that moment.

21 days closer to God

 A few months ago I felt led to fast for 21 days. In the days leading up to this fast I was given 21 words by God; one word that I was to focus on each day. During this time of fasting God brought a cleansing to my home. Peace suddenly replaced chaos as I purged things from my life that didn’t glorify God. One of the many amazing testimonies that came out of this was is the deliverance of my son. A spirit of anger had attached itself to him for many years. At a moment’s notice, he could become so enraged that on more than one occasion the police were called to calm him down. He would shout obscenities against me and God. I’d begin praying and quoting scripture over the situation and a peace would grab a hold of him as he’d beg for forgiveness. This was a cycle that has been playing out in our home for many years, and I knew it was time to put an end to it once and for all.

Suddenly we were are able to discuss God’s word without him being thrown into a tantrum and Clinton has even been to church with me a handful of times. For those of you who are unaware, prior to this, my son would have seizures every time he came to church with me, they would typically last the entire duration of the service and would leave him feeling very weak and nauseous. My son does not have epilepsy but doctors were never able to give us a definitive reason for the seizures my son was enduring. We tried medication, therapy, we even tried changing his diet and eliminating stressors in his life, always with little or no success.

BUT GOD!!!!

As I stood pretending to wash the dishes the Lord spoke to me and said
“Go tell Clinton that making one mistake does not undo the progress he has made”
I knew this was from God because as I was scrubbing the glass and gazing out the window I caught myself thinking how all the progress he had made over the past few months had suddenly just evaporated right before my eyes. I did as I was instructed and stepped outside.

one mistake does not undo the process you have made, it’s just one mistake. I make mistakes every day and I’d still loved, and treasured by God. Don’t allow the lies of the enemy to tell you anything other than that. God may be placing a conviction upon your heart, one that he wants you to heed to, and one that will lead down the road to repentance but He is not condemning you. Seek forgiveness and then forgive yourself.

When he lifted his head from his hands and looked at me I knew without words being spoken that Clinton and I along with the Lord, had just been able to put a stop to the nasty devil and his attempt to make Clinton believe that all of his hard work had just been undone in a matter of seconds. I am so thankful that on this day I was able to push hard into the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps. So often I react instead of responding to a situation at hand. When I react I speak and behave using my emotions, however, when I take the time to respond I am able to respond in a way that is spirit led.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” John 10:10 (ESV)

While I know that we will most likely still endure our share of meltdowns, I also know that it is no accident that I was chosen to be Clinton’s mom. I was selected for this mission, and it is one that I cherish with my whole heart. I have learned more from being his mom than I could have ever learned in a classroom. So when I walk across that stage in just a few short months and receive my degree in Social Work I know that all of those battles we so painfully endured way have been transformed into beautiful blessings.

Joy comes in the morning

myjoycomesfromjesus

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 (NIV)

Today my heart is captured in an astounding dance of worship. Nothing amazingly fantastic happened today. In fact, I woke up late and missed my morning workout. My son was not happy this morning and a mini meltdown began to ensue, (I still can’t understand why he insists on getting up at 5:45 am). My daughter’s door slammed shut in an attempt of letting us all know how displeased she was with her brother’s attitude.

If happiness was what I was seeking, circumstances would have made this pursuit impossible. I would have begun barking orders at my children insisting that they pull themselves together as I was quickly becoming unraveled. I may have gone into my office and slammed the door getting the attention of both my kids because nothing says “moms mad” like a slamming office door. Isn’t it silly to base our emotions on the behaviors of others? Yet, we do that so often. We say things like “he made me so mad” or “I was happy until she…” When we look to others to make us happy, to validate us, or to define us we always end up disappointed. Maybe instead of going on a pursuit for happiness we should embark on a journey into joy.

Joy isn’t dependent on your circumstances. Joy will never be found in the opinions of others. Joy is found when we allow Jesus to shake us to the core. When we invite our savior to come in and break down walls, loosen chains, and release us from strongholds, it is there that we find Joy.

Today I’m in an astounding dance of worship because I woke up and I chose JOY.

It wasn’t easy, my flesh and my spirit began a tug-of-war one declaring defeat and the other triumph. My flesh wanted to sulk in a pity party about how hard it is to be me, but my spirit wanted to praise the Lord and declare peace, and unity in my home. So I walked into my office but instead of slamming the door, I hit my knees.

I began thanking God for the peace I wasn’t yet experiencing. I praised Him for the words of wisdom He was going to give me and then I suited up in the armor of God and headed for the battlefield.

Moments later my son was calm and my daughter was apologizing and asking me to braid her hair before she left for school. Peace was flowing through my house and the praise and prayers that had just left my lips were now sinking deep into the walls that surrounded us. Almost as if a protective shield had been placed on my family.

Happiness is a temporary sensation to an immediate situation, but JOY can be experienced wherever you stand today.

Love is…not how I responded

humility

Love is patient, love is kind. it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (NIV)

My alarm goes off every morning at 5am; on most mornings I am coherent enough to jump out of bed, lace up my sneakers and start the day with some kickboxing. That was not the case this morning. In fact that hasn’t been the case all week. So when my son came running into my room this morning to tell me his exciting news (what could be that exciting at 5:15 in the morning and why on earth is he even up and so chipper?) I greeted him with a short temper and explosive anger. I had 30 more minutes before I needed to get up and make sure my daughter was up and moving around and I had planned to savor each tiny morsel of those minutes.

As I began to speak to him in less than hushed tones, I listened as the excitement in his voice and enthusiasm of his actions quickly faded. He left the room and I began to think about how selfish his actions had been and the more I fed that thought the more I attempted to justify my actions.

I decided to take my complaints to God, maybe I was looking for a “you go girl” response. Maybe I was looking for a “what was he thinking barging in your room in the wee hours of the morning” but what I got was far more humbling.

Picking up my bible I sat down and began pouring out my heart to God. I told him how weary I had felt lately and how this was just the last straw. I asked how I could make my son understand how “self-seeking” his action had been. Before I got out another word God reminded me of the many times I had woken up in the middle of the night this past week asking him to bless my dreams. He reminded me that as I sat there seeking him it was only 5:30 in the morning. The point he was making was crystal clear and I suddenly felt a huge “God sized” conviction on my heart.

God was showing me that as my Father He is available to me at all times. He delights with me even over the small things. He has sat with me for days straight as I cried uncontrollably. He carried me when the demands of parenting a special needs child were too much to bear. He has been there for me whenever I needed him and he gave me exactly what I needed in that moment.

I on the other hand had done the exact opposite. My reasons for seeking God in that moment, and most of my previous moments, were “self-seeking”. As His words began to crystalize in mind so did my desire to seek my son’s forgiveness.

therefore, if you are offering your gift at the alter and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the alter. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5-23-24 (NIV)

I explained to my son how selfish I had been and how I was sorry that I didn’t choose to share in his excitement. I thanked him for wanting to share his news with me and told him I would be delighted to hear what he had to say. He perked up and began rattling off his news in warp speed.

My son may have a multitude of special needs that keep him from doing certain things. He isn’t always able to contain his bubbling excitement and he has some disabilities that bring about judgment and ridicule from others but the one thing my son does unlike anyone I have ever met is…FORGIVE!

Is there anything in your life that God may be asking you to resolve with another? If so don’t wait a single second more, write that letter, make that phone call, or send that email but make the effort to ask for forgiveness and then sit back and watch God move mightily in your situation.

Peace saved my son’s life ~ part three

glory road

With the sweet melody “IT’S A MIRACLE” still playing in my heart and (in utero) fetal surgery still in its beginning phase, we scheduled my son’s first operation. I had never even had as much as a stitch in my life and now I was heading into the hospital to be prepped for surgery the next morning. I was nervous yet hopefully.

It was discovered that my son had an obstruction in his urethra that was hindering his ability to pass urine. Maybe you all already know this but I had no idea, that the amount of amniotic fluid depended on the baby’s ability to urinate. The baby drinks in the amniotic fluid and then recycles it back out. The problem was that my son was not able to void, so each week leading up to the surgery they would manually drain his bladder with a huge syringe like needle and then they would fill my womb with artificial amniotic fluid. It appeared that he was very appreciative of this because every time they’d fill my womb with the fluid he’d kick, squirm and stretch in ways he hadn’t done before.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18 NIV)

The surgery would be done through a tiny incision in my stomach, a scar I wear proudly today. A laser would then be used to remove the obstruction in my son’s urethra. Only, my son had other plans. Apparently he didn’t like the laser and although we were both put under anesthesia during this operation, he seemed to move in the opposite direction of the laser each time. Making it impossible for them to stick to their plan A. After several attempts and a scar in the shape of a lightning bolt that we’d discover at his birth, plan B was put into play. They inserted a shunt into my son’s bladder that would allow the bladder to be emptied through this tiny coiled object that was sticking out of his side. There was a risk that he would pull this out and then a re-implantation would be necessary to replace it. There was also an increased risk of my water breaking prematurely due to the invasiveness and frequency of these pokes. Risks worth taking.

Finding treasure in each trial

My pregnancy would be monitored very closely which resulted in an ongoing weekly appointment for an ultrasound. This appointment soon became the highlight of my weeks as I was able to get a sneak peak into the personality of my son. On a number of occasions he’d be relaxing with his little hand resting on his head; a pose you can see he would continue to strike even after birth

clinton-1revised

Other times he’d be doing back flips like a well trained acrobat. He’d push back every time the ultrasound tech would push too hard. I laughed at the thought of how strong willed he was.

Then there where those moments when he’d need immediate care, so another needle would be pushed through my stomach into the womb to drain a pocket of fluid that collected in his left kidney. This kidney was no longer functioning and was most likely related to another condition he had been diagnosed with called  Prune Belly Syndrome .

According to WebMD Prune-Belly syndrome, also known as Eagle-Barrett syndrome, is a rare disorder characterized by partial or complete absence of the stomach (abdominal) muscles, failure of both testes to descend into the scrotum (bilateral cryptorchidism), and/or urinary tract malformations.

My son had already been through so much and he hadn’t even taken his first breathe outside of the womb. He had proven to be an overcomer, a fighter and a warrior and he didn’t even have a name.

The finish line

In October of 1996 I was placed on bed rest in the hospital for the remainder of my pregnancy. My son would be born on November 19, 1996 after 28 straight days of being in the hospital. He was born on a Tuesday night at 10:11pm and weighted in at 5lbs 90z. He was small, wrinkled and had a full head of thick dark hair. Hours after he was born he was transported to Children’s Hospital in Detroit Michigan where he would spend the first month of his life winning the hearts of the staff in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

clinton-2revised

He would hit some pretty rough patches during his first month. The shunt was removed and a procedure would bring his bladder to the surface of his stomach and a hole would be made in his stomach to allow the urine to be easily drained using a catheter.

I spent every day in the NICU cuddling, feeding and loving this precious baby. When I couldn’t be there he had a team of nurses and doctors who knew his story and had fallen in love with him. They promised to take good care of him when I couldn’t.

God’s promise

God’s promise had been brought to fruition. My baby was born and while he still had a long way to go and a number of surgeries to overcome he was stable enough to come home just in time to celebrate Christmas 1996.

Later Christmas night a fever would spike in my son and an emergency trip to the hospital would reveal an infection in his bladder.

When my son was 18 months old his kidney would be removed along with the massive amount of loose skin on his abdomen due to his lack of muscularity. Doctors suspected that, due to the severity of this operation, my son would need to learn to sit, crawl and walk all over again.

Again the strong willed nature of this child left the doctors amazed when he walked just 10 days after the operation that left a scar from his sternum to his pelvis. He ran a few days after that and has been running full force ever since.

The chronic conditions my son was born with would pale in comparison to what would be revealed years later. I would soon discover that the disabilities not seen by the naked eye would form the broken road that led me into the arms of my heavenly father.

 

Take away

God doesn’t always wrap our gifts with a bow. Sometimes the gift that he is giving us comes to us through grieving. Many times the blessing is hidden within the battle. All too often it is through a trial that the true treasure is revealed.

I am just an ordinary mom but I have been entrusted with an extraordinary mission.

Go deeper

Romans 8:18 states “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

What is the glory that Paul is referring to in this verse?

Why must we suffer in this life and what does it mean to suffer well?