Saturday, November 29, 2014

Life Through a Different Lens

 Every now and then I am given the opportunity to see life through a different lens. I have experienced some difficult and even scary circumstances that have compelled me to view life differently. These times challenge my faith, present me with a different perspective and allow me to draw closer to God. There have been tragedies among family members and dear friends, my own miscarriage, and health scares with my children, just to name a few. I think the scariest time of waiting as a mom, was four years ago. We were told that our newborn had a hole in her heart. (This actually was rivaled by some scares with our first daughter years ago, when we had a lymph node removed to see what it was. Thankfully it was nothing, but that waiting was hard.) Back to four years ago when we needed to wait to follow up with a cardiologist when the baby was two weeks old. The hospital could tell us nothing else. We left with complete uncertainty and had no choice but to wait and pray. My husband had to leave the day after we came home from the hospital for training for a new job. For those two weeks I was forced to choose faith in God or complete despair. It literally hurt to breathe thinking there was something horrific going on with my baby’s heart. I needed to choose the faith part, if for no other reason than to be strong for my other kids. The short version of that story is that she thankfully was fine, and the hole closed on its own. I was praising God for His goodness, that our baby was OK. Would I have felt that He was so good if she didn’t end up being OK? Honestly, I am not sure I would have felt that back then. I hope that I would have though, because He is good always. Those two weeks gave me a different lens in which to view my life through. The lens in which your life could look completely different than what you had hoped for. To view what is truly precious and important in life, and to pause and really embrace those gifts. 

 In October of this year I was blessed to have another lens change with a health scare of my own. Yes, I did say blessed! I went for a routine mammogram and ended up needing a biopsy. The entire process from the mammogram to the clear results took only a short five days. But in those five days I felt so many things. Each time I was tempted toward fear, God faithfully showed up with a Scripture verse, a song on the radio, the Sunday Mass readings, and even the images that filled my Facebook news-feed, to remind me that He was with me; there was nothing to fear. Why do I say it was a blessing to have faced the possibility that I may have had cancer? It was a blessing because I was surrounded by love of family and friends. I was completely covered in prayer and carried through that scary week by those prayers. I was able to see what is genuinely important in my life. And guess what? The “To-Do” list that rules my days, and the messy house that I am usually upset over, did NOT show up on the radar of importance. Not even once. What did show up was my family, love, and spending time together, remembering how much we love each other, holding each other a little closer, smiling a little longer…you get the idea! But most of all, the constant (and I do mean constant!) conversation with God, Mother Mary and the saints. Mary and the saints were faithful in their prayers for me, as always. I am sure my grandma was up there praying too! I needed to decide to live in the moment, not worrying about tomorrow. This was a chance to draw closer to God and trust Him with my life and my future. The morning of the biopsy, as I walked through the hospital doors I felt panic and I prayed. I felt God give me a sense of comfort as the words, “All will be well” came to mind. It wasn’t an audible voice but I know it was God. I didn’t feel like the message necessarily meant I would be cancer free, but more of a sense that all would be well no matter what. I was assured that God is in my future whatever the circumstance. While I was waiting in the hospital I was able to gaze upon the cross in the waiting room. What a blessing to see it there. It brought great comfort.

  After I received my results that everything was fine I heard things like God is so good, He is so merciful. Of course I agree 100%, but wouldn’t He have been those things if I had cancer? Yes He would, because He is good all the time. Would I have so easily been able to proclaim it if my results were different? I hope and pray I would have. I know a few brave fighters who still believe God is good even though they are fighting a horrible battle. I hope if I am ever truly faced with it I will still cling to that truth.

 What if we could be thankful in the uncertain times knowing God has a perfect plan? What about being thankful for the lessons, even though they are hard. I did ask God for a deeper trust in Him years ago, and remembered that request as I was going through this. I also surrendered my will to His a long time ago. I can’t take it back. He will give what we ask for. We can’t choose how He gives us the answers. But if we lean into Him in those times we will receive His grace and strength to see it through. He is refining us. 

~Ann Voskamp says it well here~

 As I reflect on the things I am thankful for, this year the biggest blessings seem to be those that come out of the scary times; the chance to view life through the lens of what is essential, and embracing the opportunity to have a closer walk with God, to trust Him and love Him more. Of course I am thankful for my health, that I am OK. I am also thankful for the chance to realize and remember all those who did not get the same result as me, and the honor to pray for those who suffer.

Praying we can all thank Him no matter what and remember He is good all the time!
Trusting in His grace,

Some songs that have inspired me in the unsure times,
How Great is Our God The line that really struck me here was, “And time is in His hands”

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

God is Good Always

 During the season of Thanksgiving we naturally tend to focus on the blessings that surround us. In addition to being thankful for the many, many blessings in my life (too many to list here!), I am also thankful for the moments where God reels me in and helps me to see things in myself that need work.  Not too long ago I was having a moment of absolute frustration and disappointment in the way some of my kids were acting. I noticed a very stark difference in their behavior when things weren’t going their way and when things were looking up for them. When they are upset about something they grumble and pout and treat me like their worst enemy. But this attitude quickly dissolves into a simple, “I love you so much” when things start going their way. I have always found this to be so disheartening. It always makes me want to say, “Wow, you love me so easily when you get what you want?”

 My recent awakening was in regard to why this bothers me. It bothers me because this is how I have acted toward God at times. YIKES! It is so easy to love God when He blesses me and when I feel like things are just great, when life is going well, and everything is manageable, but so much harder to trust and love Him fully in the tough times. The truth of the matter is God is good ALWAYS! God knows what is best for me. Even while I wonder what He will reveal in the times of waiting for answers, or when I wonder why things may be the way they are in any given circumstance, I can trust that He is in control, He knows what’s best, He sees the whole picture and He will use it for good. He is my God, His plan is perfect and He is trustworthy. He is worthy and all deserving of our praise no matter what is going on in our world.  So today I am thankful for the gentle reminder that God is good all the time.

Wishing you a happy and blessed Thanksgiving~