I’m on my way to an appointment in Manhattan so I’m on the ferry today. I’ve missed riding it to and from Manhattan. I’ve missed the people watching opportunities. I don’t really have that option at my current job not that it stops me from people watching anyway. Even if it’s mostly the same people everyday; they don’t act the same everyday.
I’ve been giving a lot of though about giving my concerns and anxiety over to God they way he tells us to in the Bible. 1Peter 5:7 (NIV) “7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” So easy to read; so difficult to do. It was difficult I should say. The more I put this verse into practice the easier it becomes. I have to say it out loud to The Lord, my worries and anxieties that is.
I’ve readily handed over to The Lord the issue of Thomas and his group home placement. I no longer worry about The when/how/why/etc… It’s in Gods hands. It’s always been in His hands. I finally chose to accept it and hand over my worry to Him. I no longer get upset at how long this process has been taking. It’s ok, Gods timing hasn’t occurred yet for Thomas to move on.
The same goes for my Dad and his cancer. I’ve recently handed over to The Lord my dad and his chemotherapy treatments to The Great Physician. Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. This was a tough one but made easier with repetition. I’m now at the point where I fully believe my Dad and his medical treatments are in the hands of the great I Am.
Thy will be done. His will is not always what you or I would want but what God’s will is and what He deems best. His ways are higher than ours and I know if I pray continuously and with passion I do feel his embrace and I’m able to lean on my Lord and Savior. He will not leave you and absolutely meets you where you are. Even on the ferry .
My dad is still in the hospital recovering from his surgery. From there he’ll go to a rehab facility to receive physical therapy as it’s been so long since he’s walked even a single step. But for now the concern is feeding him. He hasn’t eaten in 12 days according to my mom. Everything is in small steps and that’s ok. I wouldn’t expect things to suddenly be back on course so soon after such a surgery.
I feel as though someone took my world and turned it upside down. Like there we were going along just fine and there it is…cancer. And the worry that comes along with the word “cancer”. Because it’s not just a single word; it’s what “stage?”, are lymph nodes involved? and what does that mean? Google is not your friend. Pathology reports seem to take forever. And when the reports are ready do you really want to know what they say? Of course you do. But there’s that part of you that doesn’t.
This song by Casting Crowns sums up how I feel.
Thomas called last night. He’s super excited and nervous about moving to the group home. The progress of which is at a stand still while we wait for the State to make its next move. I’m ok with the wait. Thomas is in a great place with people who genuinely care for him. It’s not like we have to move him now or else…
While on the phone with him I couldn’t help but feel guilty. It’s the same guilt that has plagued me since he went to live at the residential school he’s at now. That I couldn’t serve all Thomas’ needs. I actually though this morning as I reminisced about his life, “Why did God give him to me knowing I couldn’t provide everything he needs?” As usual God’s ways are higher than ours and one day I’ll know His way regarding my son. Until then I wonder. I wonder if He gave me Thomas because He knew I’d try so hard to help him? Did He know I would go beyond our scope as a family to get Thomas what he needed even if it disrupted Tommy and my vision of what an intact family looked like? That we would allow Thomas to learn from people while living somewhere else? These are questions I ask rhetorically. I know with all my being that The Lord knows everything. As difficult as it was raising Thomas, God was there every step of the way. Orchestrating and overseeing it all. Nothing was a surprise to Him as it was to us.
I wish I didn’t feel the guilt. I supposed I’ll always feel some measure of guilt that Thomas’ needs go beyond what I can reasonably provide. I think back to all the doctors and specialists. Those who helped and those who were less than helpful (understatement). The Lord orchestrated every move; every appointment. He was faithful. And He’ll orchestrate my son’s future of this I am certain.
Earlier I said we are waiting for the State to make its next move but in reality God is in charge and it is His love and mercy that will decide what the next move is for Thomas. It always has been God.
I was driving and listening to one of the Christian radio stations we have here and the dj played an intro to a song. The intro was from one of the artists who’s song was about needing Jesus. And it hit me. I need Him. I really do. I was thinking of all the times in my life I thought I could do it on my own or thought I was doing things in my own strength and how very wrong I was/am.
I started thinking of how many times I didn’t thank God for his goodness and mercy. I repented for transgressions that happened a long time ago. He knows. I’m sitting here at the ferry terminal waiting to go to work and I realize He is here. Right here in this building full of people waiting to get to work, school, tourists… Our Lord and Savior is alive and well and He is with us wherever we go even in times or trial, especially in times of trial. I never before thought of The Lord as being so… so tangible. His love is amazing and all anyone has to do to receive it is accept Him as your Savior; the Lord of your life.
I also thought of The Gospel. The truth that God sent his only son who lived a sinless life to die a horrible death for us all of us. It’s so very humbling and unreal and so very real at the same time. The Gospel is indeed good news!
I thought of all this while driving home from bringing my daughter to my Mom’s for a sleepover. It’s amazing how God will meet you where you are when you’re least expecting it. He meets you where you are… You don’t need to be “perfect” or cleaned up or have your act together to meet Him. The Lord takes you as you are and loves you as you are.
I’ve been thinking a lot about surrendering to God. Giving over to him my worries and anxieties. It’s wonderful in theory but difficult in real life. I correct myself, it’s sometimes difficult in real life. I had no problem handing over Thomas’ situation with the group home. Handing that over to The Lord was a relief. I no longer fretted over whether or not he would get in to that particular group home; my view was that if he did not get in then it wasn’t in God’s plan for Thomas and there would be another group home on the horizon.
I’ve recently handed over my new job search to The Lord. I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be right now. If another job does not present itself well then I guess I’m supposed to stay where I am for a little longer. And that’s okay. I do like where I am and enjoy what I’m doing for the most part. More hours would be nice… So we shall see.
I do have one area of my life that I have a difficult time surrendering to God. It’s part of my duties/job description as a nurse at my job. I keep praying about it and I do surrender but then I take it back. Pretty typical. My friend Louise would say, “We put it on the table and then we take it back…” I want to be able to lay my anxieties on the table to The Lord and leave them there and not look back. I know it’s possible I’ve done it before. Surrendering and submission are the hardest things to do. But they are the best actions to take before God. To acknowledge that He is in charge, He holds all the cards and He is above all. I remind myself over and over that His ways are higher than ours and He does indeed have a plan.
I’ll keep praying and surrendering and worshiping the one true God. There is none higher and I’m honored to serve him.
Last night I had the privilege of seeing Worship Night in America presented by Chris Tomlin at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Oh. My. Gosh. It was amazing. Truly amazing. I get goose bumps talking about it and reliving it all over again. All the artist he had lined up were so, so talented and so very dedicated to serving our great God. The special guests were Louie Giglio who preached a very moving session on traveling “the 20 inches” between our knees and the floor to pray for our nation. This man had all of Madison Square Garden on our knees and praying, very moving and oh so powerful. Max Lucado was another speaker he was so wonderful reinforcing how much we are loved by our God that we should let Him love us; we can call our Heavenly Father just that “Father, Abba, Papa” because He loves us so.
The musical artists were, Matt Redman, Matt Maher, Phil Wickham, Kim Walker-Smith (whose voice was incredible with all the jumping and dancing she did and never once faltered), Bryan and Katie Torwalk, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Tasha Cobbs and the very talented DJ Promote. When Tasha Cobbs took the stage to sing “There is Power in the Name of Jesus” she had the whole Garden mesmerized and singing and worshiping with her, I wish I could describe the feelings she provoked in her performance. The only thing I can do is link her performance of the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pD2zIuiC2g She sings from her soul.
Chris Tomlin performed his hit “Good Good Father” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CqybaIesbuA. He had everyone singing and worshiping. Honestly all the performers had us worshiping the one true God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I haven’t been this moved at a concert since I can’t tell you when. I felt filled with the love of Christ, something I feel is desperately needed in our country. To feel that love and to know it is finished, we’ve been ransomed and paid for by the blood of our beloved Savior.Another song was “How Great is Our God” also by Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBD18rsVJHk. Matt Redman did not dissapoint with “10,000 Reasons” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM
I can’t recall every song that was sung last night but they all prompted you to jump up from your seat, raise your hands in worship and surrender your heart to our great God. f anyone reading this has the chance to see this awesome concert I urge you to go and be prepared to be moved by the power of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This past Sunday I attended the church my sister belongs to. It’s an Episcopalian church much like the one we grew up in. The building was absolutely gorgeous with beautiful stone and wood structure and the most amazing stained glass windows especially those at the altar. The altar itself was lovely. I really enjoyed the priest, he wasn’t so serious he that he would be unapproachable, yet serious enough that you knew he meant what he said especially during his sermon.
I couldn’t help but compare “my” church to this one. We don’t have a fancy altar nor do we have stained glass windows. I wouldn’t even say we have a traditional altar per se, it’s more of a stage where the musicians and singers are set up and the Pastor speaks. High on the end wall hangs a simple cross. When I first started attending my church I was taken aback by all the musicians and singers on the “altar”. But I quickly got over it once the music and singing started. We sing contemporary Christian songs with older hymns thrown in here and there such as “That Rugged Cross” and “Amazing Grace” there are more (I am a friend of God) but I’m not so familiar with them to name them so quickly. I love our music worship time. To sing and worship our Lord in language that comes so easily to the tongue…it’s something that is wonderful and heartfelt.
The Episcopalian church has a formality to it. Stand, sing, sit, kneel, stand, sing again, sit, communion, etc…I’m sure there’s a particular order I’m just not used to it anymore. In my church we stand to sing and worship the Lord, we also stand in respect to reading a passage of the bible. It’s usually the passage the Pastor is going to preach on. Then we sit and our Pastor will preach for about 45 minutes to an hour, I’m guesstimating that time frame, I’ve never officially timed our Pastor. I really enjoy listening to and taking notes on our Pastor’s sermon. I like to go back and read what I’ve written and reminisce on the sermon and how it made me feel and how close to the Lord I felt. How much I felt in my heart that the Lord was speaking to me.
It was interesting to go back and attend an Episcopal church after attending my church for the past 8 years. I do prefer my church and our style of worship. To me it seems more heartfelt. I remember I tried to return to the Episcopal church I grew up in. But I left feeling empty, spiritually unfed. And they offered nothing for my children, barely a Sunday school and no youth groups or activities. My church has “kids church” every Sunday that my 9 year old attends and youth groups for middle and high schools. I love it. My older girls attended youth group and grew so much in their walk with the Lord because of those groups and their leaders.
I’m not bashing the Episcopal church I simply can’t help but compare what I have now to other worship styles. Especially after attending service so recently. I realize every church has their own style and customs, some dating back years and years. This post is not to disrespect any church that does things differently than mine does.
I haven’t been to church in about 4 weeks. And I won’t be able to attend my church this Sunday due to a family obligation. I miss my church. I miss hearing the preaching of the Gospel. It’s funny because years ago I never gave it a second thought that I didn’t go to church. I used to look at people sideways who made church a priority in their lives. Now I am one of “those” people.
I’ve been enjoying the small group I’m co-leading. Although I have to admit the way the bible study book we’ve been using “Unlocking the Treasure: A Bible Study for Moms Entrusted With Special Needs Children” by Bev Rooseboom, sometimes brings me back to a time in my life with Thomas that wasn’t all that rosy. When I was looked at like there was something wrong with me and not him. Not that I wanted anything wrong with Thomas I just wanted someone to see what I saw and get him and us the help we so desperately needed. The book also makes me realize just how loved I am by God and how awesome that love is.
The women in the group have truly blessed me with their presence and experiences. We have one woman who attends accompanied by her neighbor. The neighbor is an active member of my church. She doesn’t have a special needs child but her perspective of the Lord and surrendering to Him and trusting Him is something that I thoroughly enjoy. We are blessed to have her attend the study even though she doesn’t have experience with special needs children, she has valuable experience walking with the Lord and we’re fortunate that she loves to share that part of her life with us and she does so with such joy that it’s infectious. Everyone should have a “Jan” in their life or at least in their bible study group.
Missing church makes me realize how grounded I feel when I’m there. How I’m reminded of what my Savior has done for me and every sinner in the world. How good our God is, how perfect and just He is. How He is a part of every single moment in our lives. And there isn’t anything that happens, “good” or “bad” without His finger prints all over it. I remember when I was going though a bad time depression wise and a woman I consider my Mentor put her hand on my shoulder and said she sees God’s fingerprints all over me. I can’t tell you the comfort that statement gave me. I wasn’t in control at that time but God was. He was there every step of the way even when I convinced myself he wasn’t. God is so good.
Things are moving along albeit slowly but that’s okay. Slow and steady is fine for both Tommy and me. I’ve learned that an agency here had requested Thomas’ “packet” from his current school and it was quickly emailed off. I still have phone calls to make, Thomas is in need of a “Medicaid service coordinator” or MSC for short. This person will help greatly in setting up services for him when he comes to live in a group home. Thomas has had MSC’s in the past when he lived at home. So we’re familiar with their role. Tommy and I are also meeting with the group home’s nurse and psychologist this week. I’m looking forward to this meeting.
I have something amusing to write about. The person from the state who was previously pressuring me to accept group home placement in other boroughs *except* for the one we live on is now totally on board for Thomas to live here. On this borough. Really? The other day this person said to me, “You’ve been away from your son long enough, you need him to live near you now…” It was all I could do to not reply in a sarcastic manner but I knew I just couldn’t. Instead I exclaimed my agreement with them, “Oh yes, exactly!”
I’m so grateful to my church family for praying with us for the group home placement to happen. People I didn’t even realize were praying for us are doing so. The power of prayer is real and I’m honored with this wonderful group of people. It’s amazing how the Lord works, He is worthy to be praised! When I look back at my journey with Thomas it’s the times I know that God was with me that mean the most. He is always with me but the distinct times I know God was blatantly, no argument, hands down, definitely answering my prayers mean so much; how do you put it into words or explain it to someone? You can’t. You have to believe.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10) is one of my favorite Bible verses. In looking up this verse I learned that “Be still” is to stop frantic activity, to cease and to look to the Lord for help.In this life I lead now, I can see no other way to face a problem. Acknowledging that God is all knowing, everywhere and all powerful; trusting Him and His plan; that we understand who He is. When I am still and surrender to God I know I can find peace.
Bunnies, chocolate, jelly beans, those darn delicious Cabury mini eggs…all things that spark recognition of the Easter holiday. But what about the “real” meaning of Easter? By real I mean seriously the real reason we celebrate. Jesus Christ was risen from the dead that Sunday morning and what a glorious day that must have been. I can only imagine how the apostles felt to see their Jesus again after a crucifixion fit for a criminal. How He was stripped of his clothing and beaten, given a literal crown of thorns. Jesus then took upon himself all the sins of the world. I love Romans 5:8, “You are loved more than you will ever know by someone who died to know you” So powerful.
It wasn’t too long ago that I brushed off the real meaning of Easter. It was just another “holiday” to get through. We (meaning my husband and kids and I) didn’t go to church. We didn’t really have a home church. I tried to go back to the Episcopalian church I grew up in but they offered nothing for my kids, no Sunday school, no bible study, no kids activities. And to be honest I finally left “the church” I was feeling frustrated and empty. I went back when I was pregnant with Samantha to the Episcopalian church but I felt empty when I arrived home afterwards. So after Samantha was baptized as a baby I stopped going. I did what I felt I had to do to ensure she would be “safe” if God forbid something happened to her, that she would go to heaven because she was baptized. I didn’t know that that was so far from enough.
I didn’t know we had to accept Christ as our Savior to be saved. I know all about Jesus I thought. Yes I knew of him but I didn’t have a relationship with Him I didn’t truly know him and wasn’t thankful for what He did for me. My kids didn’t know enough about Jesus to accept him as their Savior. It was only when we started going to our now home church about 8 years ago did my kids become exposed to the wonderful Gospel. The good news. That Jesus died for our sins and we were saved once we opened our hearts to Him and accepted the free gift of grace. I was baptized again this time by my choice on June 27, 2011. In front of the whole congregation I publicly let it be known that I am now a follower of Jesus Christ. It was wonderful and something I wholeheartedly recommend to any Christian; be baptized (again).
So Easter has come and gone. We celebrated our Lord’s resurrection with joy. And what a joyous reason to celebrate.