Tag Archives: trust

Fragile!

I’m enjoying a plethora of blooms in my yard before the sweltering heat comes and takes hold of us here in the southeast. However, the slightest wind or harsh rains send petals all a flutter to the ground. As beautiful as the blooms are, their beauty fades quickly and doesn’t last.

Sometimes I feel just as fragile. I have the best of intentions. But sometimes my “to do” list just doesn’t get done. My mind sometimes swims through a list of things to do and should have done. Regret for lost time can intrude upon my progress and leave me feeling as helpless as my roses in the storm.

Or there are times when I’m okay but my children seem a bit battered and bruised. The struggle to meet or exceed expectations can wear them down.  Keeping them “up” and encouraged while trying to adhere to the same advice I give them is sometimes…hard.

We all go through times when we feel weak, weary and just need some relief. I’ve sometimes felt vulnerable and ready to wilt under changing demands and looming uncertainties

The picture posted above reminds me of the frailty of life.  We are often just as weak and helpless, susceptible to life’s storms.

Or are we?

The temporary highs in life are beautiful but they can’t last forever. Just like those frail blooms. It is the strong and pointed stems that support the fleeting beauty. The petals are soft but the thorns are sharp. Those painful thorns stems facilitate survival. Those stems support the blooms.

I think on this as I think back on how God has supported me through the years. It hasn’t always been pretty, but His love has never failed. Some situations were sticky. A few, quite painful. Yet through them all, God lifted us up and displayed His beauty often at times when I felt I was past done!

We don’t have to be strong all the time. We just have to be willing to be supported by Him. This will often leave us in a few prickly situations that can be painful. Some may even draw blood. But when we are supported by God, our strength then comes from Him!

When I feel fragile, it’s okay. I’m not dependent on my strength at all. God is supporting me, my trials, concerns and even my dreams. I don’t fear when one bloom fades. Trusting God eases my mind, pushes away my fears and reassures me that I don’t have to “feel” okay to be okay. There may be times when I look like I’m fading fast, but God holds me up!

Even when I’m spent, with Him lies the potential for future blooms.

“And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness…” 2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Camp Sunshine!

Last summer after depositing my oldest son on a college campus for a week-long camp, my youngest child who inspired this blog asked me, “When will I go away to camp?”
My reply was “we’ll see,” all the while on the inside I’m thinking to myself ain’t now waaaayy that’s happening.

Well, it happened.

That’s what I get for thinking in absolutes. God always has other plans.

Lan spent this weekend on his favorite college campus. Camp Sunshine is open for kids who may not be able to attend other camps. I had my reservations, or rather fears, that kept trying to creep into my mind. However, we are trying to foster more independence in Lan and he was more than eager to head off on his own!

For once, he wasn’t going somewhere under the shadow of and watchful eyes of his big brother. When they were younger the boys did most things as a pair. It was usually Cam and Lan. Now as they are older Cam often experiences things that Lan can not.

Lan is always asking when is it his turn?  

Lan’s turn came by the way of a beautiful campus with Lake Hartwell as a magnificent backdrop. He was free this weekend to laugh as loud as he wanted; there was no one around to temper his excitement. This kid was delightfully happy for the time to just be. He was free to be him, idiosyncrasies and all, under the warmth of the sun.

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There was no pressure to conform to the norm, no reason to curtail his excitement. There were no standards to measure him against others. If only he could have this luxury all the time?

But our society isn’t as forgiving as camp. It confines us to standards, norms and expectations. It pushes us ever toward goals and what it thinks we should be and how to behave.

I’m not advocating anarchy by any means but I wonder how much more the light inside my child could shine if he weren’t always under pressure to confine himself into someone else’s “box.” How much brilliance and creativity are snuffed out because society doesn’t always embrace creativity in others when it is packaged differently?

We should all be able to shine under the warmth of the sun free from expectations, scrutiny and the wayward glances of others. If only.

But with God we can shine and just be. He created us. There is no defect or deficiency under Him, only love. Love and acceptance of us just as we are.

There is an old hymn, Just As I Am, we used to sing in church when I was a child. I think my favorite stanza is as follows:

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt;
Fightings within, and fears without,
O Lamb of God, I come I come!

This weekend provided not only an opportunity for Lan to shine at Camp Sunshine but it was also a reminder that we all can “just be” in God’s presence if only we would dare step out of our confines and into His warmth.

Many of us, especially us Christians, are so preoccupied about what we do (or don’t do, or what others are doing!) we fail to simply “be.”

We fail to be content. We fail to be at peace. We fail to be still be in His presence and allow God to simply and amazingly love us.

We should be joyful. We should be grateful. We should be peaceful.

The Son shines on whosoever will dare to step into the light. His light can transform us into the people we want to become if we would pause long enough and simply be with Him!

In His presence, are the answers we seek, faith and hope that renew, and the peace that passes understanding.

Lan knows how to just be and receive love. He knows how to enjoy the present without worry about the future! Lan trusted that his father would provide the overnight camp he wanted. 

I’m going to trust that my Father provides as generously for me as well!

 

My Brother’s Keeper?

 While I was away this weekend, my oldest son had an epiphany of sorts. I’m not sure exactly what sparked his revelation, but according to my husband he was very suddenly and emotionally distraught about his little brother’s future. 

Now, my oldest has always been mature for his age. I tell you he has more sense than most adults. The only common denominator between both boys academically is their band instructor. The band room is where students often hang out or practice no matter their grade level or academic rank. Music is a great equalizer. Lan, the youngest, does very well in this area despite other academic challenges.

Nevertheless, something occurred to upset my oldest. Both boys were heavily involved in a band festival held at the school last week. I suspect something was said to Cam about his younger brother. Lan could have easily wandered away from an assigned task, said something not quite age appropriate or any number of things. I’ll probably never know. All Lan knows is that he had a great time participating in the music festival. However, per Cam’s suggestion, Lan won’t be hanging out in the band room without his supervision.

I have always told the boys to love one another and be kind to each other because mom and dad won’t always be around. I suspect the oldest has now grasped the reality that his brother may not become as self-sufficient as he is. Cam has readily embraced the role of “third parent” when neither my husband or I are around.   My hunch is Cam’s worry for little brother won’t necessarily end when he leaves home for college.

It has been quite the balancing act juggling the demands of two children who have totally opposite needs. Cam has often been in the background when Lan’s diagnosis has forced us to spend more time and attention addressing it. Lan has often been in the shadow of big brother’s achievements and academic accolades which he has never matched.

My husband and I made a deliberate choice to become parents. My oldest son did not. He shouldn’t be preoccupied with what the future holds for his sibling. Instead, Cam should have the liberty to focus on pursuing his own dreams and aspirations. Cam is a very loving child and through he get’s annoyed with little brother from time to time, he has always shown a love and concern for Lan that I pray will continue long after I’m gone.

We have no way of knowing what the future brings. I am hopeful and trusting that God will just “work it out” as He has done so many things in my life. Still, I am grateful that my oldest son is mature enough and concerned that Lan is well cared for now and hopefully into the future. It is my hope that Cam can spread his wings without the worry of looking back.

I don’t know if Lan will gain the maturity and skills to live independently. I don’t know if I will have the resources to provide for his care years after I’m gone. I don’t know how God is going to resolve this issue. I…just…don’t…know.

So I must trust.  

Such a simple sentence but so often very hard to do. Yet, I will manage by focusing on the present and allow God to order my steps for the future. I don’t have to see the solution, though I admit it pains me greatly. However, we will continue along prayerfully, grateful for miracles yet to come. 

I expect great things for both my boys. Maybe Cam’s experiences with his brother will mold him into the man God intends him to be. Maybe, just maybe, Lan in his own way is looking after him.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Photosynthesis….lets get into this!

Lan has done a pretty good job holding his own this first year of high school. However, biology has taken a bit more time and mental energy than he ever imagined.

I try to help him as best I can to study for exams and review material. His older brother (only by 15 months) is taking Advanced Placement biology and does his best to help him also. Lan’s enthusiasm for our efforts has been lukewarm at best.

However, this past weekend, He was very enthusiastic about his biology homework. I thought that was odd but decided to be grateful instead. A couple of hours later he bounces down the stairs and wants me to hear his new song. I’m befuddled but go along with it anyway.

Pho-to-synthesis…lets get into this!

Plants take water, sun and CO2…to make the sugar that they use for food!

Now his little song continues on explaining some not so simple chemical reactions. I was first impressed that he actually grasped the concepts in his lyrics but then secondly disappointed that I hadn’t come up with the idea to help him learn these lessons!

My mind then begins to wander. I begin thinking how much better he would be if he were in one of those private (and very expensive!) schools that cater to kids with ASD or learning disorders. I begin thinking about how farther along he would be academically if I were a stay at home mom and had the time to supplement the material he’s getting at school. My mind spins off in a hundred different directions of I’m not doing enough, I’m not providing enough, what kind of sad parent am I?

I only engaged in my pity party for a few minutes until I remembered that “I can do all things, through Christ who strengthens me,” Philippians 4:11 NKJV. I can raise this child to reach his greatest potential while I work more than full time, meet the needs of other family members and not go crazy in the process! I don’t have to be the strong one, through Christ’s strength I am able. It may not be easy, but I am able to do what is necessary.

I had to remind myself “my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:19 NKJV. God supplies my needs not necessarily my wants! And truth be told, I probably don’t know what I want anyway. I have thought that I wanted to not work and stay home to meet every need of my child but I don’t want to be unemployed either! I surely don’t want God to meet one desire and in the midst of doing so I have to undertake a larger problem! Besides, I like the people I work with and the patients we serve. Staying at home full-time might be good for Landon (or not) yet it might be terrible for me! 

God knows what I need and what I really want even when I don’t. I remember that I am indeed blessed and the trials I feel I may have to work through are for my development and so minimal compared to what others are facing! I have since redirected my thoughts to “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer,” Romans 12:12 NKJV and turned the “what if” button in my head to OFF.

We are all tempted to second guess ourselves and even God from time to time. His timing has never been my timing and by now I should be okay with that (should be but still working on it). I am however confident His plans for our lives are better than anything I could ever put together.

I will continue to let God be…God. I will do what I can and trust Him to do the rest!

 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope,” Jeremiah 29:11

Progress Report!

“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things [are] noble, whatever things [are] just, whatever things [are] pure, whatever things [are] love, whatever things [are] of good report, if [there is] any virtue and if [there is] anything praiseworthymediate on these things,” Philippians 4:8 NKJV

Last week both boys brought home their mid-term progress reports from school. Lan called me while I was at work with a slight tremor in his voice. His report wasn’t awful but it wasn’t great either. His grade in two major classes dropped and he was well aware I would not be pleased.

He rattled off his grades tentatively and I succinctly told him I knew he could do better and would do better. He wasn’t grounded. I reminded him that as long as he did his very best I would always be pleased with his work.

Now, that is a huge change from the “old me” of just a couple of years ago. Both boys could definitely put a little more effort into their schoolwork but it isn’t a matter of life and death. Having received a bad report in matters of life and death has definitely put things in perspective.

It is two years ago now that my oldest son, the one without an ASD diagnosis, went to the doctor. He had a funky skin rash that began in October. It gradually spread. Nothing would cure it.

In November, my husband took him to the dermatologist, the earliest appointment he could get. The doctor very matter of fact admitted she didn’t know what it was. I appreciated her honesty, but I thought that was rather odd. I got a funny feeling in my gut, the kind you want to dismiss, but just won’t quite go away.

I was expecting them to leave the appointment with prescriptions for antibiotics and a topical cream. Instead, my oldest left with a small plug of skin taken out of his arm. The biopsy was sent off for analysis.

It wasn’t until two days after Christmas I found myself on the phone with the physician who sat with my son and husband in her office as she explained the diagnosis, a diagnosis that affects one in five million people. My husband was wise enough to have her call me as his head was reeling. After the dermatologist ran through the possible scenarios (including chemotherapy) I vividly remember standing dumbfounded in my kitchen trying to decipher the boatload of information that had been dumped on me. I remember crying and walking around in circles but I also remember very vividly screaming as loud as I could “I will not receive a bad report!”

I heard the dermatologist. I respected her opinion. But I wasn’t going to receive that finality in my spirit in regard to my son. And God heard me.

I prayed. I solicited the prayers of family and friends who had their entire churches and Sunday school classes praying for my child. I knew that whatever we had to endure, we would get through it.

Thankfully, we had only to endure a battery of tests. His skin was affected but not his internal organs. His brain was fine. We didn’t get the final “all clear” until February. It was a harrowing ordeal for any parent. I was forced to examine if I’d put so much energy into one child to the neglect and detriment of the other.

So many questions, but God is faithful. We learned some things through our experience. We endured. Matured.

That experience allows me to put my “bad reports” whatever they are in perspective. Two years later and that time is still so fresh in my mind. I don’t want to ever forget it. I learned things aren’t always as they seem. God doesn’t want us to have faith in what we see or hear but instead in His power.

During that trying time I thought about all the miracles God had done for my family. I thought about the positives, the joys and undeserved blessings. I meditated on God’s grace toward us every time a negative thought would try to break me. It wasn’t easy, but a very deliberate decision on my part. God is pleased when we look at Him instead of our obstacles.

Numbers 13-14 teaches of how eight of the ten spies Moses sent out brought back a “bad report.” They could not see the potential in the land promised to them by God, only the enemies who possessed it. Furthermore, they gave a bad report to the other Israelites causing them to long for Egypt, the very place they had been in bondage.

How often do we look back to the familiar, even when it is to our detriment, because our present obstacles look insurmountable?

Only Caleb and Joshua, the spies who gave the “good report,” made it into the Promised Land with the descendants of those who died. God was so displeased with the Israelites’ lack of faith; He caused them to die in the wilderness. These are the same people who witnessed miracles that freed them and walked through the Red Sea! These were the same people who ate manna from Heaven! These same people would not allow the miracles of their past to fuel the faith for their future.

I don’t want to make that same mistake.

So, we may have hit a bump in the road with grades but I’m by no means accepting it as the “end all” for either child. I have faith in what God can do with them and in them. I have witnessed miracles with both my children. I may not have all the answers but I am confident that I don’t have to.

I look at the neatly typed papers from the county office and see them for what they are…merely progress reports. Not a definition of my parenting skills or a proclamation of my children’s future. I once would have been infuriated with less than the best. I am now… patiently waiting. We are all progressing toward God’s plans for us.

I am not going to analyze, criticize, and run all of us ragged as I used to.  Instead, I think about the great gains Lan has made thus far this year, successes I didn’t anticipate so soon. I’m proud of how Cam has been able to handle his classes along with the rigors of marching band. I focus on the good.

God’s got it, whatever my “it” is at any given moment.  Only His report truly matters!