Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about..."  (Psalm 139:23, MSG)

Parenthood is full of demands.  Some days, I think if I hear one more "Mom" out of someones mouth, I will lose my mind.  Our time rarely seems to be our own as we set it aside for the sake of beautiful, yet-attention-seeking children we love.  And it becomes incredibly easy to lose our sense of identity when extra medical care, mental health care or other assorted efforts are required for us to properly support our offspring.

I've laid down the challenge to examine What Defines Your Family.   But an interesting interaction recently lead me to also raise the challenge to ponder, who do you think you are?  Ironically, I find too often that people who either have no clue how to answer that question or who are obsessed with their self-identity are not typically in a good place emotionally.  Regardless of your current situation, it is helpful to ponder what principles, activities, habits and values define you as a person.  In other words, when you die, what might people recall about you?  And what might they miss that lays in your heart of hearts?

Let me begin by giving you an example that prompted the writing of this entire entry.  Recently, someone in my family denied something to me when I gently brought it to their attention.  This person created an awkward situation because they were refuting something that two other family members directly heard them say.  In other words, they were lying to me.  My blood boils when someone lies to me.  This is one "hill to die on" that I would say defines my personal character.  You can buy tons of mercy from me if you are just truthful with me, but God rely stretches my character when a person is not telling me the truth.  When a person lies to me, I feel like they take me for a complete fool.  And many of the great hurts in my life have happened because someone kept the truth from me.  Honesty is one cornerstone of who I am.

Another example of who I think I am can be found rooted in my love of laughter.  I would describe myself as a gregarious person.  I have even been scolded for letting a loud guffaw loose in church, God forbid!  I truly feel that life would not be the same without the bond of laughter in my family.  And it feels like such a tremendous privilege to make someone laugh when their burdens are many.  Somehow, laughter just lightens the load of life's challenges.  Humor is another cornerstone of who I am.

Loud-mouthed, a lover of mighty pines and placid lakes, empathetic, but also sassy, a lousy yet always hopeful gardener, artistic when given the opportunity, and a lifelong bibliophile are all ways I would define myself.  But most importantly, I would describe myself as an ever-growing lover of Jesus, my Savior.  Incredibly unworthy, but even more incredibly loved.  Grateful beyond words for what my Maker has done for me.  All my true value lays in Him alone.  He IS the solid rock of who I am.

But enough about me!  Did this get you thinking?  Who do you think YOU are?  Whatever defines you, know that it also includes being the object of God's great affection!  Know that you have infinite value, beyond life's demands, because you are made by God and for God.  I pray that this little exercise in self-reflection not only blesses you, but keeps you firmly rooted and planted in what matters.


Pray:  Lord, help me to remember who I am in you.  Today, keep me from sweating the small stuff and keep my eyes focused on that which cannot perish.  Help me to be the best one-of-a-kind me that I can be!


Friday, February 24, 2012

What Defines Your Family?

"Your family will be a blessing to all people."  (Genesis 28:14b, CEV)

Dating back to the mid-12th century, a family coat of arms was used to identify soldiers in battle, so warriors could determine whether a man was friend or foe.  A full century later, even the most common citizens were using this symbol as a seal to identify their family.  Even colors upon them held significance.  Blue meaning loyalty.  Red meaning martyrdom or military strength.  Gold represented generosity, and so on.  Some pictures within the shield needed no explanation, such as crowns, crosses and the like. Others like the lion, which stands for bravery or power, and the fleur de lis, which stands for the Trinity, need some deeper exploration.

While it may serve as a curiosity in our modern world, this background begs the question, What would your family coat of arms look like if you had to design it today?  What defines your family?  What are the hallmarks that your family is known by?

No doubt a family with a special needs child could have things like wheelchairs, medications, the letters IEP or even tears on their family coat of arms.  Few of us would have symbols related to great wealth on our shields, as finances seem to be drained by all the therapies, hospitalizations and extras required to care for children we love.  In fact, our heads may be so foggy from all the extreme demands required just to get through each day that it would take us awhile to contemplate such a thing.

I would challenge you not to be defined as a family by your tragedies but by your triumphs.  As an example, my family could be defined by over 2,000 needles our son has been jabbed with, but we'd prefer to be recalled for our silly impressions of Sponge Bob characters.  People might know us by the rejection our youngest daughter has experienced due to her ADHD, SPD, severe allergies and social deficits.  But we hope instead that people remember us as a family who enjoys any sort of ski, and who has a youngest child that is an incredible athlete.  In fact, you couldn't accurately capture who our family is without including the cross of Christ, some sign of hysterical laughter, dogs, cats and lots of books.

My point is this -- God blessed each of us with our own little families.  They may not include all that we had hoped for or expected.  But there are many unique qualities that belong to that small group of people alone.  Common experience, likes and dislikes, memories, treasures abound for no other individuals but those in this small circle of love.  We need to take the time to pause and reflect on this gift.  Thinking on such things strengthens us as a family.  This is how God designed us to be.  And it is His gift to each of us as we face the challenges of the wider world.

Pray:  Lord, I know sometimes I wish there were a return receipt that came along with them, but I thank you for the gift of my family.  Open my eyes to the good in each member, and to treasure those things that uniquely define us.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Safe & Sound

"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([a]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
    For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
    He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation--he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.]" (John 3:16-18, AMP)

When I stop to think of it, I find myself disgusted at the fact that I have heard and read the passage from John 3:16 so many times that I've almost become a bit dispassionate about it.  That's truly shameful!  But God, in His infinite mercy and kindness still finds a way to break open His words of life to me, in spite of myself.

Recently, I purchased a parallel Bible to deepen my studies.  This time, when I found John 3:16 in my devotional reading for the day, I was able to view it through fresh eyes using the above translation.  The sense of awe that those words were meant to have once again washed over me.

Allow me to share with you how I saw this passage pulled apart.  "For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world..."  I am the object of His affection.  And so are you.  We are His prized possession.  "...That He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son..."  He values each of us so much, that He was willing to go to the expense of sacrificing His one-of-a-kind flesh and blood.  He held nothing back when it came to reaching us.  He spared no expense.  In Him we each have immense value. "...So that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him..."  Talk is cheap.  Even Satan believes Jesus is who He claimed to be.  But belief demonstrated through a behavioral change of trusting in, clinging to and relying on Him is one that, "shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life."

"For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him."  If salvation means that I am safe and sound in Him, then what do I need to be afraid of?  The words "safe and sound" bring to mind arriving to the shelter of our home.  Jesus is our shelter and the place we call our own -- home.

"He who believes in Him [who clings to, trusts in, relies on Him] is not judged [he who trusts in Him never comes up for judgment; for him there is no rejection, no condemnation--he incurs no damnation]; but he who does not believe (cleave to, rely on, trust in Him) is judged already [he has already been convicted and has already received his sentence] because he has not believed in and trusted in the name of the only begotten Son of God. [He is condemned for refusing to let his trust rest in Christ's name.]" We are not rejected by God.  It is we who reject Him.  Sadly, if we refuse to rely on and trust in Him, we've already sentenced ourselves to hell on earth.  Our hell starts here, because without Him, there is no hope.  The choice we make is between being safe and sound, and being without hope now or in eternity.

Boy, this revelation is a far cry from the aloofness that began to settle in as I returned to visit these verses!  And it causes me to wonder, Am I remembering that I'm the object of His affection?  If I am, then worrying that I will not receive what is best is fruitless.  Am I remembering that He gives me incredible value?  If I am, then I realize that all my meaning comes from and through Him.  Am I remembering what it cost Him to rescue me?  If I am, then I proceed through life with a baseline of gratitude rather than selfish entitlement.  And am I trusting him, clinging to him, relying on him for every concern big or small?  If I am, then I know at every doctor's visit, at every IEP, at every financial woe, He is with me, and He has it handled.

How frighteningly easy it is to charge headlong into the demands of each day when we should be pausing in awe at the God-proclaimed manifesto presented in these words!  I pray that my quiet time with Him will also be a blessing that edifies you.  Slow down and dig deeper into what the Lord has to share with you in His word.  In the consistent shelter and promise of the Bible, you will surely find yourself safe and sound!


Pray:  Oh, God!  You spared no expense to reach me!  Please open the eyes of my heart, so that I can understand and fully appreciate Your word.


Footnotes:
  1. John 3:16 James Moulton and George Milligan, The Vocabulary.

Friday, February 17, 2012

The Issue of Pride

"If you put yourself above others, you will be put down. But if you humble yourself, you will be honored." (Matthew 23:12, CEV)

I have been "taking it in the pants" lately.  Unwittingly, I have repeatedly managed to offend others, evoking strong, painful responses over the past couple of months.  In every case, it was something that completely blindsided me, an action taken or statement made totally devoid of malice on my part.  Clumsy thoughtlessness is how I would label my offenses.  The less-than-kind way people in these various situations treated me turned my occasion of sin against them into a reciprocal sin against me.  Threats, unkind words and willful ending of a friendship were all heaped upon me.

Injustice, I cried!  Tears mixed with my prayers as I felt misunderstood, demeaned and undermined.  Where is El Roi, the God who sees me?  I need some vindication.

In a brief period of time, my Comforter reminded me that the sin of pride, which it seems we will all be fighting until death, is only diminished through humility.  And that humility comes in responding to a harsh word or an unkindness with gentility.  (see Proverbs 15:1)  So rather than return hurt for hurt, my response in each of these situations was with humble love.  Knowing God has his best for me when I obey, I did things His way instead of my own.  Some of these situations immediately improved.  Some did not.  Much depended on the heart of who I was responding to.  Nevertheless, I had the peace of knowing I had done what was right in the sight of the Lord.  I received Divine forgiveness, and my sinful pride shrunk by at least one full size in each situation.

I couldn't help but reflect on each of these situations and instantly think of the many times we are wronged as families who have members with special needs.  How many times our kids are excluded.  How often a doctor thinks they know our child better than we do.  How often schools fail to cooperate with the plans mandated by the federal government.

These times enrage us.  Like Shylock in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, we want that pound of flesh to vindicate the injustice done to us.  We have our pride, and it's been wounded.  We must win at all costs.  We tell ourselves we have every right to be nasty to the doctor or snippy with the ignorant little classmate or even scream at the school staff.  We go through much, and the world owes us better!

But what if we took a deep breath and realized that these are just fallible human beings like us.  Life is messy, and we humans tend to bump into each other often.  Difficult people are, as I often joke, merely the sandpaper of life to smooth off our rough edges.  When we respond to these individuals with grace rather than proud indignation, that gentle humility surprisingly changes those around us.  As we let go of that pride, we both shrink our sinful attitude and actually become exalted, both with God and our fellow man.  In this way, the ordinary trials of this life become our unique opportunity to reflect God's glory to the world. 


Pray:  Lord, being separated from my sinful pride is so painful.  Help me to do the right thing despite that strong desire I have to protect my own pride.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Respecting Relationships

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (Colossians 3:12-14, NIV)

This June my husband, Steve, and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage.  Considering the strong, outgoing personalities we both have, this is nothing short of miraculous.  We have had many odds against us.  This was a second marriage for each of us.  And neither of our parents cared for the partner we had chosen as a mate.  Add to that miscarriage, infertility treatment, 5 stretches of joblessness over a 7 year period and 2 out of 3 children having serious special needs, and you know we have surely beaten the odds!

The question naturally arises, "How have you two managed to stay together all of these years?"  Anyone who has spent any amount of time with us knows that we are as imperfect as any other couple out there.  He's inconsiderate.  I'm cranky.  But there are threads of gold that hold us together in spite of that:
  • God is the third person in our marriage forever and always!
  • We apologize to each other daily...  Often multiple times a day.
  • We chose the above verses from Colossians for our wedding, and we try to live them out every day.
  • I joke, "We're lucky we found one another because nobody would put up with either one of us!"  That humor always helps me to remember for every time he gets on my nerves, I'm getting on his nerves too.  It humbles me.  And humility is KEY in a marriage that lasts.
  • Along those same lines, when there are times when we really don't like one another (and admit it, we all have them) we remember "God loves my spouse just as much as He loves me."  That certainly brings about a shift in perspective and an immediate attitude adjustment.
  • We each have peers of the same gender that support us in our role as a spouse.  When I want to act nasty like the world, I have Christian girlfriends who will challenge me to behave in biblical ways.  He meets every-other week for an early morning Bible study breakfast with the guys.
The bottom line is that we don't have the keys to the perfect marriage, but we seek first God's kingdom, and everything else falls into place. (See Matthew 6:33)  We're respectful of the value of this relationship.  And the love and respect we exchange is enough to cover over all of our imperfections.  (see 1 Peter 4:8)  That's enough to make any relationship, marriage or otherwise, endure.

Pray:  Lord, in this troubled world that changes like the wind, I want solid relationships that last.  Help me to love like You!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Getting to Know You

"For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding." 
(Proverbs 2:6, NIV)

While this blog is typically given over to devotional posts, an online conversation one week ago has spawned some terrific sharing by mothers in Christian community.  During our Special Needs Ministry TweetChat (#SpnMin) we were discussing whether Individual Education Plans (IEPs) are or should be shared with the Children's Ministry at church. (Click here to see the transcript.)  In the course of that conversation, I had mentioned that we have historically used our own little care summary of our son's diagnosis and treatment for schools, churches, extra-curricular activities and even babysitters.  This gives them a brief, understandable way of quickly gaining just what they need for day-to-day life with our son's rare disorder.  Sharing this suggestion inspired mother and homeschooler, Amy Dunaway to share her wonderful version "Dear Caregiver".   Katie Wetherbee, who is also a mother as well as an educational consultant and Key Ministry team member shared her "Meet My Child - Proactive Partnering in One Page" too.  Their insights and strategies are definitely worth your time and review.

Since we can learn and glean specific pieces that we like from various versions of the same type of document, I thought now was the time to share the edition that our family has used for almost 12 years now.  Besides, since I was the instigator with this entire avenue of discussion, I felt I owed people as least that much!  You will find that my care summary for our son puts more focus on the physical than the other two I've linked-up on this post, due to the fact that his chronic disease creates more concerns with its medical nature.  So here goes...
                                                                                                                                                                   

Getting to know
Li'l Mister (name changed to protect the innocent)
Prepared for Smart School
Updated 2/1/12

Li'l Mr's Diagnosis
Li'l Mr has Severe Hemophilia A, a blood clotting disorder and related anxiety disorder.  See attached sheet for further details on hemophilia.  (We attach a brief, plain language sheet that can be found on the internet.)

Li'l Mr does NOT have HIV, hepatitis or any other blood-borne disease.

What his illness looks like in him
Li'l Mr's main problems with hemophilia tend to be joint bleeds in his ankles and in his knees, hematomas (raised, hard bruises) from bumping his head or body, and recurrent nosebleeds.  External cuts are not usually an issue.

When he gets a joint bleed, he may limp, express pain, and the joint will be swollen and hot.  For example, his ankle may look like an old lady with bad water-retention problems.

When Li'l Mr bumps his head hard enough to cry, you will typically feel a large, swollen "goose egg" on his head.  A rule of thumb to follow is that if the object he hits (with any part of his body) does not move, you have need for some concern.

He may often look bruised.  This is just part of his disorder.

Li'l Mr's Limitations
He can play sports and games like most other children.  However, there are some he should avoid.  Football, wrestling, gymnastics and other high-impact sports are not activities that he is medically able to participate in.  If he has any sort of physical accident, although it may not be an emergency, his parents need to be notified.  We recommend that another student helps him to the health room if there is a nosebleed.  You will need to call one of his parents to bring a special medication to help aid the cessation of either mouth or nose bleeding in the health room.  Whenever you are in doubt about anything, please feel free to call his parents any time!  We really don't mind!  Most days, you will not even remember that there is anything different about Li'l Mr.

If our son tells you that he is in physical pain or thinks he is having a bleed, please take him seriously.  The most serious, life-threatening bleeds you cannot see externally with your eyes.  Please allow us or the doctor to make the determination if he is "faking it".

PLEASE TREAT LI'L MR LIKE EVERY OTHER CHILD.  We have gone out of our way to avoid babying him or being overprotective.  He really is just like other kids in most ways.  We are happy that you are willing to work with us and learn about our child's disorder.

Li'l Mr's Emergency Protocol
In the event of emergency, first call his mother.  If unable to reach his mother, call his father.  If the emergency consists of severe injury or a head trauma, call 911 first then his parent(s).  In the event of an ambulance transport, please be sure to give the EMT his medication on hand (ie his Factor bag).

Confidentiality
As a family, we are very open about talking to people regarding his diagnosis.  However, it is up to Li'l Mr as to whether or not he wishes to share his health status.  Sadly, it is not uncommon to have him be excluded by parents or other students out of ignorance or fear.  Please encourage anyone with questions or concerns to contact us directly.

Thank You,
Li'l Mr's Parents
866-555-1212 (Home)
999-555-1212 (Mom's Cell Phone)
899-555-1212 (Dad's Cell Phone)
                                                                                                                                                                   

Some points to note with this format:


  • It can be easily adapted for an overview of any chronic illness like diabetes, juvenile arthritis or the like.
  • You are giving personnel information that they need to know rather than bogging them down with details and labels that may not be necessary.
  • Additionally, you are giving a practical look at what daily life with this diagnosis will look like for the recipient of this page.  The psycho-social component can be especially helpful with a physical diagnosis.
  • Making those caring for your child aware that you don't mind them getting in touch with you is a BIG deal!  Often caregivers worry that they may be bothering you if they make contact.
  • In a school, it is STRONGLY suggested that you do both an inservice and/or have a 504 plan or IEP meeting around this information.  This page will merely be a brief leave-behind to help jar people's memory or for convenient use.
  • This is a terrific format to use with a babysitter or in a Sunday school setting with a child who has this type of special need.
My prayer is that this blesses you.  Many of the difficulties or challenges we can face as parents of these terrific kids can be the direct result of poor flow of information.  Be a wise advocate for your child and communicate with people in a way that will make it easy for them to grasp the essential things you are trying to convey.  This will result in you being found to be a wise steward of the precious gift God has entrusted to your care! 

Pray:  Lord, grant me Your wisdom as I put easily accessible information down on paper for my child.  Help me to include only what You advise me is necessary and good for others to help him.  Make me a faithful steward of this irreplaceable gift!

*For further reading:  See Sharon Fuentes' insights on the "One Pager" in her outstanding book THE DON'T FREAK OUT GUIDE TO PARENTING KIDS WITH ASPERGER'S

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Holy Ground

When Joshua was near the town of Jericho, he looked up and saw a man standing in front of him with sword in hand. Joshua went up to him and demanded, “Are you friend or foe?”
  “Neither one,” he replied. “I am the commander of the LORD’s army.”
   At this, Joshua fell with his face to the ground in reverence. “I am at your command,” Joshua said. “What do you want your servant to do?”
  The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did as he was told. (Joshua 5:13-15, NLT)

Joshua recorded these things in the Book of God’s Instructions. As a reminder of their agreement, he took a huge stone and rolled it beneath the terebinth tree beside the Tabernacle of the LORD. (Joshua 24:26, NLT)

The aerial photo in this post is what is commonly known as "Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex".  On this property stands Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, Froedert Hospital, The Blood Center of Wisconsin, Curative Rehabilitation, The Eye Institute, and the Medical College of Wisconsin just to name a few.  I live with my family 28.34 miles away from this medical complex, which we visit more frequently than I care to admit.

Yesterday, I sat visiting with my mother in her hospital room at Froedert Hospital as she recovered from having a cancerous kidney removed.  As she was being attended to by her nurse, I took a long, pensive gaze out her window and suddenly realized that I was on holy ground.  You see, there are parts of this hospital that are in a bit of a U-shape.  My mother's room looked down on the epicenter of so many of my life's crises.  From her window, you could see the Children's emergency room we have visited countless times with our son's serious hemophilia bleeds and our youngest daughter's life-threatening allergic reactions.  Adjacent to that is the Froedert Emergency room where I last heard my father's voice.  Across the surface parking lot and up a few floors I saw the reflective, darkened windows of Froedert's palliative care department where my dad made his glorious departure for heaven.  And right beneath us I looked down on the roof of the lab that has helped us find so many answers to our concerns.

Never before had I viewed this venue as sacred space, but taking it all in at once caused me to pause.  While it has been hard for me in the midst of trauma to think of this place as holy, this complex certainly meets the criteria of the standing stones of old.  Searching the Scriptures reveals the memorials left standing where man had encountered God in a very profound and personal way.  Jacob anointed the stone he had rested his head upon and named it "Bethel" after he had met God the night before through ascending and descending angels.  Joshua and the Israelites memorialized the place where God parted the waters of the Jordan so that they could cross over to their final destination in the Holy Land.  Even Peter wished to construct shrines on the mount of transfiguration where they had witnessed the Holy Savior appear in glory with Moses and Elijah.

Why should a medical complex be any less holy than these?  This is where my tender Lord put his arms around me as I wept countless times in fear for my children.  This is the entry to the mission field that has tugged at my heart as I arrive thinking, "How do families do this without Jesus?"  Here is where I closely identified with the Father as my son screamed out for my help in the terror of being jabbed with his twelfth large-gauge needle in only 24 hours of hospitalization.  And how gloriously I watched my father's home-going as he wriggled free of his earthly shell here on these premises.  Indeed, this is sacred space!

The next time you find yourself in those medical facilities that you dread visiting, remember that the Lord is your very present help in times of trouble.  He is with you.  And that makes the place where you are set apart in a very special way.

Pray:  Father, I may not have the presence of mind to remember, but when the time is right, bring to mind the comfort that you call me to a holy place.  You meet with me right there in the midst of my trials.  Thank You, Lord!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Our Quiet Example

"But if he remains silent, who can condemn him? If he hides his face, who can see him?  Yet he is over individual and nation alike..." (Job 34:29, NIV)

The other morning, as so often happens in my quiet time with the Lord, God opened His word to me in a fresh way.  For quite some time, I have been enjoying a devotional that a friend gave me as a gift, STREAMS IN THE DESERT.  In many of the entries in this wonderful book there are very short quotes of Scripture.  I often try looking up these passages in context, so I can get a broader understanding of what is being said.

The above passage from Job was quoted along with inspiring thoughts on how God provides quiet in the midst of life's raging storms.  But as I dug beyond the abbreviated King James Version quoted, I saw that, on the surface at least, this verse spoke more to God's silence than it did to His calming.

Suddenly, I found myself reflecting on all the times I, like so many of us, experienced the Lord's silence when I felt like I needed to hear from Him the most.  In fact, I can distinctly remember a time that yielded tremendous spiritual growth when I suffered through a high risk pregnancy with my youngest where I had to be off my feet the last 4 months.  I declared to many with desperation, "When is God going to show up?"  Although I was a believer, I heard not a word from my Savior when I felt so in need of His touch.  It was awful.

As the memories of that dark period of time in my faith walk percolated, I felt a special connection to this verse from Job.  And then God whispered to me, "Perhaps I'm silent in the storm because I'm trying to be a good example to you, my child."  Wow!  What a revelation!  Suddenly, the story of Jesus being asleep at the front of the boat with the disciples when a squall swiftly overtook them entered my mind as well.  In Mark 4:35-39, Jesus uncovers the lack of faith in His core group of trainees.  Never, prior to this reading of Job 34:29 had it occurred to me that His sleep in the front of that boat was more than mere human exhaustion.  Perhaps it was also a holy example of complete trust in the Father's care.

After this epiphany, I can't help but ask myself, and you, how often have we felt abandoned by the Lord rather than thinking to follow His example of quiet in times of trauma?  When life reels out of control, we feel we need to do something to manage the crisis.  We need to subdue the chaos, make order of disorder, pull in the reins, steer things towards a better outcome.  Seldom, does it occur to us to "Be still and know that (He) is God." (Psalm 46:10)  And yet, He gives us that holy example, if only we will keep our eyes fixed on Him rather than on the problem at hand.

As God matures us as believers, it is His desire for us to see that there is nothing that worries Him.  He is not overwrought or frazzled by life's crises.  There is nothing that happens in this world that shocks Him.  In fact, in His infinite wisdom, He knows each trauma is just another opportunity to grow us and put His glory on display.  And if He's got it handled, why should we, who are infinitely loved by Him, be concerned?  Rather we should follow our quiet example, rest in His awesome Sovereignty and trust.

My prayer for you today is that this little peek God allowed me into His character will bless you in a powerful way.  What an awesome Maker, that we should be welcomed into this growing, tender relationship with Him!

Pray:  Father, life swirls around me like a cold wind, sometimes like a wild tornado.  Help me to remember that nothing is beyond Your control and Your grace.  Help me, by the power of Your Spirit, to have a peace inside of me that cannot be moved by any outside force.