Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ringing out and Ringing In - with Joy

This is the day when many reflect on the past 365 days...evaluating, recalling, even comparing them.  And I, like them, have done the same.

In church on Sunday, we were challenged with Psalm 90...a focus on time and the fact that at its best, life is brief. I was challenged by one particular verse...

"Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom." v. 12

So when I look back at 2013, as most years, it has been a mix.  I gained two incredible colleagues who have been kindred spirits, my daughter and her family moved back close by, Edster and I have found a home church, I have reunited with some great friends, I continued to do meaningful work at the hospital, and I have experienced growth spiritually and creatively this year.

But Caleb has also had his struggles and times when my advocacy has felt futile, my mother went on to heaven in August after her decade-plus with Alzheimers, a gallbladder surgery, and after Christmas, I was hit with a hurt I did not see coming. And the Lord gave me another quote:

"Those things that hurt, instruct." - Ben Franklin

And what I realize is, no matter what 2014 brings...there will be joy.  It may be mingled with other things, but if I view my life from God's perspective, I will be grateful...and gratitude is the gateway to joy.

Sometimes gaining that heart of wisdom comes from the instruction provided by pain...sometimes there is no other way.

My job is to focus on the things that God deems important.  So much in life that concerns us really does not matter in the long run.

I commit 2014 to you, Lord.  Continue to conform me to be more like you as I allow you to love on me the whole year through.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Taking a Moment...

Long lay the world...in sin...
'til He appeared
and the soul felt its worth...

Do you feel that thrill of hope?  Wishing you and yours the most blessed of Christmases.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Facebook Christmas Story

I have been giving this a lot of thought this year...having a lot of downtime to heal and perusing Facebook and Pinterest looking at all the Christmas photos and festivities.  But something's missing...

Where are the photos of the mother with her children celebrating Christmas in a homeless a shelter?

Where are the photos of the young man who made a grievous choice that has landed him in prison for Christmas this year?

Where are the photos of the lonely and aged who can no longer keep up with the pace of life and exist alone?

Where are the photos of those spending their last Christmas in a hospital or in hospice enduring a terminal illness?

Where are the photos of the spouse and children braced for violence after a parent's drinking binge that will surely come this Christmas?

Where are the photos of those with severe disabilities who seem invisible...forgotten...and their families providing intensive care even on Christmas?

Or those of parents holding their child at his end of life on Christmas Eve?

And many others...

And as I think of those whose photos are not going to make the Facebook Christmas Story...

Facebook is NOT life...it is NOT a true representation of life.  Life is messy and hurts and is to be embraced in the high notes and low notes until we experience eternal life.

Jesus came in the non-threatening form of a baby in a feeding trough for all of us...especially for those we will never see on the Facebook Christmas Story.


Let's enjoy and be grateful for all we have...celebrate the JOY of this season...

But let's also prayerfully remember and serve those this Christmas whose circumstances will go unnoticed.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

A Few Festive Photos

Well...I have been knocked into the slowest of slow lanes recovering from gallbladder surgery...but my pal, Kim, has been cheering me up with her recent brushes she offered in the Test Kitchen and other fun places.

In the corner of the eat-in kitchen...I set up a very simple branch in an oversized glass brandy snifter and some sand.  A simple decorative touch...

I made this little brush by combining the words with the sprigs Kim provided.

And made this with Kim's vine heart brush and text overlay.

And what's not to love about Kim's "jingle all the way" brush?

So, although I'm laid up...amazing how you can create with your feet up, letting your nail polish dry, and a laptop nearby.

Thank you to all who have encouraged me this week with your texts and prayers!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Astonished and Amazed - A Friday Find

A week ago I wrote this post...

A week ago I opted to rest and rely on a God who loved Caleb far beyond my capacity...

Whose wisdom is beyond my ability to comprehend...

And seek His solution...His way.

Monday I was humbled, by a voice on the end of the phone, to hear that the Lord had "turned the heart of the king"...

That, indeed, Caleb has a great God...

And all the barriers that were standing in the way of Caleb receiving the services he deserved and needed for a meaningful life crumbled by standing firm and trusting God.

There are no words that can express my awe of God's Divine intervention...

He is alive...He cares...He is involved!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Practicing Gratitude When You Don't Wanna

Hot, searing tears well up...pour out...sting...

No one warned me of the unrelenting power my children have over me...even as adults...

I hung up the phone.  Those who know me, know I've focused the past 22 years of my life on advocating for children and adults with severe disabilities AND their families...

Inspired by my courageous Caleb...

But today it all feels for naught as he is being terminated from his day program provider and the other options are not viable.  And barring a miracle (for which I still believe)...he will be at home, without structure and limited stimulation 24 hours a day.  It's complicated...a system that is to serve fails.

But my post is not about that...it was about giving you some context for what I write now.

Gratitude is easy in the nice warm fuzzies of life...it is practicing gratitude to God when the feeling is not there at all that it becomes a sacrifice...it is pure obedience.

Friday, Caleb, Edster and I went out for a drive in our mini-van.  I sat back with Caleb, helping him as he ate his lunch...only to have Caleb lay his head on my shoulder and lean up against me...for at least a half hour.

Caleb's autism tends to manifest itself like a pinball...pacing or moving to self-regulate.  Kodak moments don't come often.  But I am so grateful for those moments on Friday.

Yet...even without those moments...I will praise and express my thanksgiving to God...because He is worthy as I'm reminded in the Old Testament passage:
Though the fig tree should not blossom,    nor fruit be on the vines,the produce of the olive fail    and the fields yield no food,the flock be cut off from the fold    and there be no herd in the stalls,18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.  Habakkuk 3:17-18 (ESV)
 Caleb has a GREAT God...and I will take joy in Him.