Northwest Rain

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It is so very good to be home.

Don’t get me wrong.  I grew to appreciate Colorado in the five years I lived there.  I grew accustomed to the dry climate and consistent blue skies.  I loved going to the Rocky Mountains.  I found love and beauty in many things there.  Especially the people.

But I really missed the rain.  Northwest rain.  Cold.  Consistent.  Gray.  Drizzly.  I love it.  Really love it.

Just now, I sat outside on my parents’ front porch and soaked in the rain.  (Not literally because I was under the roof.)  I tuned everything out and listened to the rain.  I watched the dry ground soak it up, flowers and plants drink it in.  I took deep breaths and willed the rain to saturate my soul.

Life isn’t made up of sunshine alone.  Everyone’s life has rain.  Sometimes it comes in a thunderstorm.  Sometimes it comes with partly sunny skies and rainbows.  The common denominator for every single person regardless of how it comes is that it surely will come.  Sometimes when it rains, it pours.  And that’s when life gets especially interesting.  It’s one thing to deal with a little spring shower.  It’s a completely different experience to navigate through a downpour and a flash flood.

You know what I have discovered over the past few seasons of my life?  Instead of trying to avoid the downpour, it’s better to learn how to swim.  Suffering is part of life.  Might as well dive in.  I’m learning not to fear being in over my head but I confess that I’m not a strong swimmer.  Sometimes I grab onto something that I think will help me float, only to find that it drags me down instead.  I’m trying desperately to learn how to reach out and grab onto a true anchor.  Something that won’t cause me to drift or drown.  That something is called hope.

  • Hope for my marriage.
  • Hope for my son to learn how to care for himself and thrive in spite of Type 1 Diabetes.  And then look beyond himself and reach out to care for others someday.  Do I dare to hope for God to heal him?  Yes.  Yes I hope for that too.
  • Hope for my daughter’s compassionate nature to lead her to places and people who are on God’s heart.
  • Hope for us to daily (sometimes even minute by minute) turn to our God for help, shelter and safety in the deluge.

There is a fine line between accepting suffering and contending for it to come to an end.  I walk that fine line every day.  It helps to remember that suffering produces character and refines faith.  Suffering has purpose and rain brings beautiful results to the land.  That’s why I love rain!  Because it is a constant reminder to me of growth, new life, beauty.  Of hope.  Of the One True God, the giver of life.  A constant reminder that the rain is worth it.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.  James 1:12

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365 Days Later

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One year ago tonight as I put my son George to bed, I remember praying while he fell asleep. I knew something was wrong because he was excessively thirsty, hungry, fatigued and had severe mood swings. I was scared and unsure. When we got up the next morning, I weighed him and discovered that he was losing weight. We went to the doctor that afternoon and George was given a diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes. And our lives have never been the same.

One year ago today, I was blissfully unaware of how to count carbs for meals. Testing someone’s blood sugar was a mystery, and I definitely had never been trained on how to administer insulin through an injection. I didn’t know the purpose of insulin, or the function of a pancreas. Long-acting insulin, short-acting insulin, lancets, test strips, pens (a fancy way to give shots), blood glucose records, food records, carb to insulin ratios, sick days, pumps, insets, cartridges, syringes, ketones, glucagon, and of course hypo or hyper-glycemia. All foreign. Like a foreign language in a foreign land.

365 days later it is now my native tongue and the T1D community familiar ground.

Some people told me that it would get better. That our “new normal” with T1D would get easier. That has not happened. I’m not sure it is possible with a chronic disease in which 24 hours a day, 7 days a week I am my son’s pancreas. And nutritionist. And nurse. And teacher. And mother. And comforter, and pastor/shepherd (although there is ONE much better at those roles, and I point George to Him every time I can). However, the way I respond to our new normal is better. And because of technology we can treat diabetes in a more straightforward way. For this I am extremely grateful.

A year ago tonight, I would never have fathomed going through some of the experiences we have had to endure. But there is the key phrase: Going Through. I have learned that grief is a season, not a destination. My stage of grieving now is such that I look back over the past year with an ache in my heart but faith and hope in my spirit. I have had some dark times. Anxiety. Depression. Isolation. Fear. Deep deep grief and loss. Sometimes it seemed like there was no light at the end of the diabetes tunnel. But none of those places were destinations for me. Those are not destinations for any of us.

What am I destined for?

365 days after a life-changing diagnosis for my beloved son, I can truly say that I’m destined to give God glory. I’m destined to lay all my pain, weakness, fear, sin and doubt at His feet and just worship Him. Because I learned this year that most of the time, that is the one and only thing I am capable of.

I learned that I’m far weaker and more fragile than I ever imagined.
I learned that I am completely dependent on His faithfulness.
I learned that He takes care of my son in ways I never can.
I learned a new level of teamwork and partnership with my incredible husband Shane.
I learned that He has uniquely fashioned my beautiful daughter to be on this life journey with us.
I learned that some of His people are truly truly His hands and feet. And He sends them to me exactly when I need them.
I learned that prayer is everything.
I learned that He is always speaking to me. Sometimes I listen.
I learned that He gets to be God all by Himself. This is the true definition of sovereignty.
Where there is anxiety, I learned how to ask for peace.
Where there is depression, I learned how to lift my eyes and worship.
Where there is isolation, I learned to receive help from others.
Where there is fear, I asked for faith.
The chasms of grief and loss do not go on forever.

365 days later it is no small miracle that I can lift my head toward my Savior and my God and declare, “My help comes from the LORD…He who keeps me will not slumber…The LORD is my keeper; the LORD is my shade on my right hand.” Ps. 121

Tonight when I put Georgie to bed, my heart ached. But my spirit was singing. He is healthy. He is learning how to walk with His Lord. He is a normal 6 year old boy. Who happens to have T1D. And we are all impacted by his little life, and his great courage.

“Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.”
Dr. Robert Anthony

Difficult yet Effective

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This year has held some changes for me (and my hubbie), one of which is our journey to physical health and fitness.  We have not “arrived” at the fitness destination by any means, but we have both lost weight and established healthy eating and exercise habits.  For me, it has been about 11 months since I fully committed to this emotionally, physically and mentally.  It has been absolutely life changing.  I will write more about all that in a different blog.

What worked best for me this year was to do a DVD at home while my little girl napped every morning.  I chose one by Jillian Michaels, and after 11 months I completely have that thing memorized.  Sometimes I get frustrated because I can hear Jillian in my head…and I don’t know if I can ever get her out!  At one point, she starts off an exercise for abs by saying, “Now this is NOT easy.  But it IS effective, and that’s why you’re GOING to DO IT!!”  And so I do it.  Because I’m kind of scared that somehow she will know if I don’t.  And she’s not joking.  It’s very difficult.  Very.

Tonight, out of the blue, I thought of that quote while putting my children to bed.  I was wishing it wasn’t Jillian’s voice echoing through my mind, when all of a sudden I realized it’s not just a Jillian-motivational-thing.  It’s truly a Christian-walk kind of thing.  Being a Christ-Follower is not supposed to be easy.  What’s easy about Jesus saying in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me”?  Or in Matt. 10:22 Christ promises “…you will be hated by all for My name’s sake”.  Um, that is not easy any way you try to look at it.

I’m learning that effectiveness is equal to difficulty.  It is that way in the exercise world.  A few jumping jacks here and there doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. But running uphill pushing two children in a stroller over a grass field for an hour in the summer heat at over 5000 feet….now that is difficult and effective.  The weight falls off and the muscles build up.  And man oh man do you sleep well at night!!  Not to mention the amount of buttered popcorn you can enjoy guilt-free!!

That principle of difficulty = effectiveness applies to our Christian life as well.  Big time.  In fact, Mark 8:35 states, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  Talk about difficult.  Talk about effective.

I want to be effective.  I want to give God glory.  I want to live a lifestyle that communicates the gospel, the good news of His incredible love and grace, that I totally don’t deserve, but willingly receive.  Obviously this is something I will never “arrive” at, just like I will never  “arrive” at being completely fit and in shape.  However, here are a few ways we can embrace something extremely difficult, knowing it will be unbelievably effective:

  • Humility and Meekness.  Our hearts can be, and should be, in a posture of humility and meekness.  So many definitions to these words…but in simple terms:  Let’s realize the immense loving miracle of a Holy God providing a way for sinful people to be in relationship with Him for all eternity…by humbling Himself.  Not something we deserve.  At all.  So let’s follow His lead.  NOT EASY to let go of pride.  NOT EASY to retrain our worldview of entitlements and rights.  NOT EASY to give up self-preservation and selfishness.  NOT EASY to get over ourselves.  But oh if we do….the things we can do without because we realize our treasure is in Heaven, not on earth.  The places we can go and the people we can love because our heart is full of others instead of full of ourselves.
  • Serving.  This is another posture of the heart.  It’s not busy-ness.  Or religiosity.  Or always saying yes if asked to do something for someone.  Those things aren’t especially difficult.  The kind of serving I’m referring to is found in Matt. 5:44.  Jesus taught in this passage that we are to love our enemies, bless folks who curse us, do good to people who hate us, and to pray for ones who use and persecute us.  I would put that kind of serving in the extreme difficulty levels.  These are things we cannot do without the Holy Spirit’s enabling.  I do not run 6 miles unless I know I’m properly hydrated…and I would not attempt this kind of service unless I had spent time in prayer asking for living water to flow from my life to the life of the one who hates me…as I serve them.  Practically.  Consistently.  With humility and meekness.  It is a good thing to seek the Lord about this, and actively pursue serving and loving those who hate us.  I think even Jillian would agree that this is quite effective when done right.

I was going to come up with a few more, but seriously.  Isn’t that enough?  Those two have me so convicted and yet motivated…I’m not sure I could handle more.

I’m asking the Lord to change my heart daily, and help me to be in this posture of humility, meekness and serving.  Will you join me??  I’d love to hear your feedback if you’d like to comment about how you are choosing humility and meekness, or who you are serving and how you are doing it.  We can walk this difficult, yet effective road together.  It’s not easy, but it is effective. And that’s why we’re going to do it!!  Let’s live effective lives that give God the glory He deserves.