Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hurt and Hope

“It is OK to have hope and to be in deep pain.  In fact, hope is the only thing that will overcome the hurt.” Hope Heals

Hope is something with which many of us wrestle.  On the surface, hope sounds like a pure, simple, and wonderful thing.  Positive in every way, a perfect word for decorative plaques and kind sentiments.  However, those of you who have held onto hope for that particular, precious something for a very long time know that hope is complicated.  Hope can be flat-out exhausting.  Hope can test you.  And maintaining hope for the long haul can be outright discouraging.  Days have a way of turning into years and hope can transform from bright and light to dim and heavy.  Another burden for the weary to carry.

This post is prompted by a dream I recently had, a dream in which John was working with the director of his new school while I was in the room.  He was put in the quad position (on hands and knees) and miraculously began to take off crawling around the room!  I was filled with joy, unbelief and happy tears.  Even in my dream, I wanted to make certain this was NOT a dream and even pinched both of my arms to make sure.  I was convinced; it was real!!  A dream full of hope, right?  A vision perhaps?  Yes, I think so; however, I woke up quite depressed when I realized this dream was not yet a reality.  And the fear and worry set in… what if this never becomes a reality?  Dreams such as these that once gave life and cherished hope can now pour salt in the wound… highlighting the years of unwavering but draining hope.

Fortunately, I find hope is yet another thing that is redeemed in the Lord’s economy even when the world and our experiences want to corrupt it.  Hope is something worth fighting for, but with the Lord’s perspective, it does not actually require a fight or maintenance of your stance on the front lines of combat.  Who can keep that up day after day, week after week?  Every soldier needs a break from the front lines… The ability to move beyond the hope prompted by crisis and into the hope prompted by peace in our ultimate outcome.  

How do we disallow hope, then, from becoming a burden warring against our very souls?  I think we pray and ask God for help.  And then we choose His peaceful hope over a warring hope that originates in fear and worry.  Confident rest versus flailing desperation.

For a long time, my hope has been a warring one.  I imagine this will continue to crop up as worry seizes me and drives me to frenetic research, additional opportunities for John, new magic bullets to try.  These things in and of themselves are not negative, but my approach certainly can be.  A warring hope makes living so very difficult as you go about each day worried sick.  But a peaceful hope points to our ultimate hope in Jesus and allows ourselves to be carried as we witness the Lord at work.

So how is this fleshed out in practical terms?  For me, it means giving John the very best yet holding daily change loosely so that burden and worry do not weigh me down and rob my joy.  In discussing all of this with my counselor yesterday, she called this a “quiet hope.”  I love that image.  To carry my hope with a quiet, secure heart and to simply serve as a witness to God’s healing work in John’s life… celebrating each moment and change that comes his way while receiving the gift of loving him exactly where he is.   

Yes, we will hold onto our hope for John’s continued and full healing.  But I am praying (and ask you to pray as well) that we will release the striving, warring, anxious energy that merely masquerades as hope and, instead, choose the hope that brings life and peace. 

“It is good that one should have hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.”
-Lamentations 3:26, AMP

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.”
-Hebrews 6:19-20, NIV

Happy Reformation Day

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stewarding the Story

John came home from his preschool Sunday School class last week with the following memory verse:

“Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.”
-Psalm 107:2a

Trying to clean out the car, I almost tossed the verse in the trash with the rest of the junk that had accumulated in my minivan throughout the previous week.  But as I took a second glance, the verse came alive. 

Stories are immensely powerful.  Furthermore, we each have a story to share; we each know people who need to hear them.  Stories connect us, making our differences fade, our empathy grow, and our eyes widen.  Exchanging stories can give both comfort when it is most needed and also hope that new possibilities are just around the corner.

I have recently had the privilege of attending two coffee gatherings with other parents from John’s new school.  And what have we done?  We have gabbed and gabbed, sharing our stories and those of our children.  Yes, some useful info on doctors, therapists, or resource groups was traded, but what we really came away with were heart-felt stories of love, fears, devotion, and exhaustion.  Knowing we are not alone as parents of children with special needs…  Knowing our love and strength for our children will continue to carry us…  Feeling united in the struggles but also fortified in the gifts this life brings.  We came together as strangers but left with a body of support, an email address for those questions that keep you up at night, a friendly face to recognize in carpool line. 

My friends, Jay and Katherine Wolf, put it this way on their blog:
All of us who have journeyed the road of suffering, are forever, inextricably connected through our pain.  In a strange way, the commiseration of pain gives us a gift, one that is desperately sought after by all human beings—the gift of being known by another person.  When you go through tragedy, perhaps especially if you are younger and maybe even more if you are a person of faith, you gravitate towards others who are unwitting members of that same club.  And even if you aren’t known by these friends in the more traditional sense of friendship, you are known in deeper places—in those places where hope has been deferred and the desire for healing of the soul aches within.”

Your story may be different as well as your support networks.  But as God’s redeemed people, we are called to tell our stories and, more importantly, to proclaim HIS story.  This is where stewardship comes in (the Wolfs also shared this concept of stewarding our stories in a recent sermon they gave).  I find that as we employ our redeemed vision that the Lord enables, we begin to see our own stories through His lens, as part of the Gospel narrative of brokenness, restoration, and hope.  And to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).  We have been given forgiveness, healing, and hope in order to share it!

After re-reading the memory verse, I turned to John (Daniel wasn’t with me at the time) and exclaimed, “John, you have an incredible story!  And you are telling your story and impacting so many for the Kingdom!”

Let’s encourage each other, God’s beloved and redeemed people, to courageously steward our stories, knowing that as we do we find we are not alone.  We give and receive hope.  We are deeply known while giving this same gift to others.  We allow Christ to shine His light on our broken places and invite His cleansing touch.  The Incarnation is real in and through each one of us.  His Kingdom is advancing.  
John got glasses yesterday!!  Hoping they will be a big help!

Some of you may remember from the Caringbridge days when John got glasses as an 8 month old!  Well, their use didn't last long as we felt the priority was focusing on strengthening his cortical vision (how the eyes communicate and receive information from the brain rather than working on the problems with the eyeballs themselves).  Fortunately, his cortical issues have much improved over the years and now it is time once again to address those beautiful blue eyes! 

-Please pray for John’s adjustment to his new glasses and that they will help his overall development along with his vision.
-Pray for John as he works toward sitting independently.
-We are so grateful for his new school/neurodevelopmental center and praise God for His provision!  We are also thankful for all the nurturing adults (and children) God has placed in John’s life.