Friday, January 11, 2013

Looking Backwards To Go Forwards

Lord, I remember what you have done.
    I remember the amazing things you did long ago.
~Psalm 77:11, ESV~

One of the greatest blessings of my life is the habit I worked diligently to develop, rising just a bit before the family does each morning, in order to enjoy my "quiet time with Jesus."  I meet with the Lord around the same time, usually in the same place before the loud chaos of departing for school and work begin.  Over the years, I have chosen certain tools to compliment that sacred time.  For example, one year I set the goal of reading the entire Bible in 12 months, so I would spend my time each sunrise with The Message//Remix: Pause Bible to help with my daily reading.   For the past couple of years I have been moved each morning by Streams in the Desert by LB Cowman.  Some of my ventures have taken less than a year, like when I feasted on Praying the Names of God and Praying the Names of Jesus both by Ann Spangler.  Most of these journeys in growing closer to God have been incredibly transformative in my life.

Perhaps that is why this year I found myself drawn to look backwards in order to go forwards.  For me the past 19 months or so have been extremely tumultuous.  The day after Father's Day, June 20, 2011, I lost my beloved, sassy Irish father quite unexpectedly.  Losing Dad was anguishing, but we barely had time to grieve his loss as my mother's medical needs demanded our attention.  She and Dad were still in their home, and he had spent every day of his retirement as her caregiver.  Soon after Dad's death, emergency room visits and repeated hospitalizations began for Mom.  Ultimately, she was diagnosed with a contained, lesser form of kidney cancer that could be cured by removing the kidney.  Of course, she became less mobile by the minute, and the kidney removal finally caused her to accept that she must relocate into an assisted living facility.  Her cancer surgery was successful in January of 2012, and we were able to move her into her apartment by February 2012.

Once Mom was settled in her new living quarters, our son had a surprising medical crisis.  In mid-March, he expressed some sudden pain as I picked him up after school one day.  At the doctor's instructions we proceeded to the hospital, only to discover he  had a life-threatening bleed in his right hip.  This was the first bleed of this kind for our boy, and it changed life for us at home for a number of months.  After several days stay, he was released from the hospital with a central line in his arm.  We had a doctor visiting our house at least once a week for care.  After two weeks out of school, he was able to return in a wheelchair until late April.  The emotional toll it took on our immediate family was quite high.  Attempts by the doctor to move our son towards self-infusing stalled, and we prayed that a repeat of this bleed, which is not uncommon, would not revisit us over the summer months.

Eventually, our son had stabilized, and it was time to return to the care of my mother.  The clock of opportunity was ticking for her to repair and sell the family home before the warm weather months escaped us.  Delegated the responsibility of being her financial adviser, I found myself in the throws of getting my parents' property repaired, updated, cleaned out and put up for sale.  Of course, no such an event can be completed for a family with 6 adult children without much strife.  Amidst the long, scorching summer I struggled through this unenviable task.  With God's mercy, the house sold quickly with the closing set for late August.

Once the nightmare of the house sale was behind me, I faced the beginning of the school year once again.  And this school year would be a big transition for our "Little Miss" from grade school to intermediate school.  The grade school had done such terrific work with her that the decision was made, albeit somewhat reluctantly, to drop her from an IEP down to a 504 Plan.  I held my breath, expecting the worst, but we were off to a good start.  Unfortunately, with each passing month things deteriorated, mostly with social issues.  This required great amounts of energy, time and prayer, working with the school to help her through the challenges she faced.

With this being the least opportune time for our son to have additional health issues, he encountered another crisis.  More related to his global anxiety disorder, terrible traumas began to ensue with his hemophilia.  There was a great deal of missed school, a new psychologist 30 miles away, and a broken toe resulting in more school attendance in a wheelchair.  Somewhere in there I believe there were some holidays.  And that same broken toe, almost completely healed, was re-sprained just as the Christmas break came to an end.

Why do I tell you all of the sordid details of my deeply personal roller coaster ride?  I share the story of this past year to let you know that when your world has been so utterly rocked, shaken and turned upside down, God calls for you to cling to something foundational.  Along those lines, He drew me to dust off a devotional that I hadn't glimpsed at in a decade.  But that book was life-changing when I was in the early stages of my special needs parenting journey.  So now, I am again reading and studying Experiencing God Day By Day, written by Henry Blackaby & Richard Blackaby.  I find myself in awe, not only of how richly this devotional brings the heart into intimacy with God, but also at how beneficial it is to reflect on what I had written in the journal portion of each page.

Looking backwards at such a snapshot in time with the Lord allows me to reflect on where I once was, how far God has brought me, and what demons I still face.  Revisiting this volume has already been such refreshment in the first two weeks of the new year.  From all the pain, tumult and chaos has come a sudden hush of reverence, of holiness, of wonder once newly discovered.  My circumstances haven't changed.  In fact, we have encountered another medical crisis with my young daughter.  But revisiting what the Holy Spirit taught me so indelibly 10 years ago has drawn me into that peace that surpasses all understanding.  I suddenly carry within me this unshakable sense that He has seen me through the darkest valleys before, and He will again.  I feel empowered to go forward without that sense of dread that I left back in 2012.

I feel blessed to have heeded God's call to do some holy remembering, reexamining old lessons, so foundational, so rock solid, to help me move forward into a very uncertain future.  It is times like this that awaken the soul's awareness that He is indeed at our side, holding us up, walking right along with us through it all.

PRAY:  My Loving Lord, thank You for drawing me forward by making me take a glimpse backwards.  Sometimes we need to see how far we've come in order to trust where You are taking us.  I praise and thank You for that opportunity! 

No comments:

Post a Comment