Really, Only God.

Photo by Jami Dale.


For the past week my daughter Sara and I have connected because there has been a need...her car died. It's always stressful, annoying and just a total inconvenience when any hour of life has to be devoted to dealing with car issues. But needs have a way of drawing people together. It's a time to rally around and get the problem dealt with so life can be back to normal, especially in her case with 9 month old Wyatt. Babies need routine. Breaking that can be an added layer of stress. Sometimes the expectation is that this need has to be fixed or remedied by a certain method or by certain people. However, pulling everyone together allows for the best possible outcome. It allows the mixture of resources, energy, intelligence and prayer to come together in one unique opportunity to support and bless that individual who is in need. In this case, it was Sara and Wyatt.

I'm so thrilled that she called me to include me in that circle of contacts as she reached out for help. There were several options for assistance, but in my case only one bubbled to the surface that seemed plausible at this moment. And that was ok. Because realizing that I couldn't just do it all or fix it all, which is sometimes a Mom's curse, I took to the only other thing I could do - just pray. At a time like this our prayers are so specific, so exact, so intense. Any parent would go to bat with the God of the Universe for our children! That is what I did.
  
Realizing my inability to give in a way to supply a solution to all of her need, I went to God who has ALL resources at His disposal. I knew that in asking for Him to provide a miracle - that He would. I prayed that she would see His goodness and His provision in her life and that she could trust Him for the answer to this problem. I'm not the supplier of all her needs...God is. That is not my role anymore, hasn't been for a very long time. I wanted God to make Himself look bigger in her life and surprise her in a big way with the blessing she needed to move through this stressful time. And, without a doubt in my mind, knowing that He could and would, I left it with God to provide the solution. And He did.
   
Photo by Shawn Ray.

When we talked last night, she told me that she had her new car in her possession and it was a better car than she ever thought she could own. OMG...what??? already? I was shocked! As the story goes, a couple of very special friends stepped forward to offer what they had to help her. One person decided they could co-sign with her on the loan, two other people blessed her with the downpayment that was a gift and didn't need to be repaid. Wow! Is God good, or what??? Today, the paperwork will be signed and off she will go. Life back to normal. God didn't need me this time to provide the answer or solution, just support and prayer. He already knew who would be helping her, I just had to take a step back and let God work His magic. Her friends were acting on the impressions they received from God to help her in this time of need. And what a blessing they are to her. Does that mean that next time these are the ones who will provide her need? No, not exactly. They are wonderful people, but not necessarily the ones to continue stepping out in this particular way. No one needs to be that to another person. As long as we are open to the possibility that God will provide, then the blessings come from wherever He designates. Anyone can be used to bless another. I'm amazed and in awe, again, at His faithfulness to care for His precious children. Proof that He loves us indeed.

I believe that when we get that prompting, that impression, that voice telling us to move in a certain way, walk a certain direction, or talk to a certain person, it's always for a purpose. If these few friends had not listened to that, she would not be the recipient of a huge, unexpected blessing. But they did listen, they did respond and she is truly blessed by their generosity. Seeing how God works, makes me want to be one of those people chosen to help others, to give to others, to share and bless others. Not just once, but over and over and over, on a daily basis, if the need is there. I always have felt that God gave me the gift of giving. So, if that is true, then I had to trust that God will fund or resource that giving. He will also tell me when, where and for whom. It's happened so many times in the past and it will again in the future. I want to be so attentive to that small voice that directs me to help someone else. I want to be so sensitive that I see the needs of others and can't resist reaching out. I want to be so well resourced that helping seems like the right thing to do.

There is an amazing set of verses in the Bible that talk about generosity, 2 Corinthians 9.7-12:

"7-11 God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you're ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

12-15Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God. This relief offering is a prod to live at your very best, showing your gratitude to God by being openly obedient to the plain meaning of the Message of Christ. You show your gratitude through your generous offerings to your needy brothers and sisters, and really toward everyone. Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they'll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need. Thank God for this gift, his gift. No language can praise it enough!"

 

Amazing how God wants to set us up for being generous and it's a win-win for everyone. That seems like a better philosophy than struggling, having expectations that can't be met, or stressing about where it's all going to come from. God knows the need and has already blessed some to be able to give when the need in another arises. We just sit back and watch His goodness fall all around us. You can't writes stuff like this, only God can...and does. Today, I'm truly thankful for His goodness being extended to my daughter. I'm thankful she has friends who truly love her enough to be there when things get rough. I always want to be generous and giving to my children. Sometimes the best gift is praying for them and trusting that God will extravagently bless them in His own way.  I'm truly grateful that she and I have reconnected, if even in this small way and for this brief moment. I'm praying it leads to many others.

Motion IS Potion!

Not sure who originated this quote, but my friend Angie told me a few months ago when we were discussing the affect getting older has on our bodies...."motion is potion." Some people say "use it or lose it." Either way, those of you in my age bracket probably understand. You know, when you sit for a while at the computer desk, or on the couch, or even in the drivers seat, that first second standing...ouch! It's a constant reminder that we aren't getting younger. It sort of makes you crazy though to realize that even simple things aren't as easy as they once were. And if there's been any sort of trauma to the body, then it's even harder. In my case, after several car accidents, my body's telling me...you better be careful, one more and we're through. Well, not permanently, just through trying to recover in a timely fashion. Once injury or trauma happens, it takes much longer for the muscles, nerves and tissues to heal. In spite of others saying, it's all in your head....its NOT all in your head. It is very real. I'm putting this quote of "motion is potion" to the test. I'm tired of my body hurting, aching, rejecting even the slightest move I want to make. I'm getting into some serious motion.






First, I've been trying yoga. It's really amazing the healing on the body that takes place from just 60 minutes in a class. It's hard at first, but the stretching and the relaxation of the muscles really does help. Yoga in a heated room is even better. It's as if you are wrapped in a heating pad but you're sweating as if in a sauna. It's actually refreshing. Plenty of water is vital.



The first class I took was a Restorative Yoga. Michael came with me. Surprisingly, there were several other guys as well. This restorative yoga worked every muscle in the body, but not to the point of stressing the muscle like weight lifting. It was stretching, stretching, relaxing, and more stretching. The results were amazing. It's also about breathing, being in control of your motions and being intentional about pushing random, wandering thoughts out of your mind. This calming helped me focus on the task at hand, which was dealing with assisting my body to heal.


Other classes have been traditional yoga, very intense and rigorous workouts. Any yoga experts or advanced participants make it look so easy. In the class, it's not about competition, it's about you centering yourself and working through your own issues, physically and emotionally. In one class, as is typical, the instructor was playing background music. A song came on that had many memories attached to it. Right in the middle of class tears came gushing out. There was no stopping them. Apparently this can happen so easily as our muscles release all the tension and stress that they have been holding. Attached to that stress and tension...is emotions. So as one goes, it all goes. Interesting process. Motion is potion, and this is really powerful stuff.




Second, I'm walking/running again. I don't care if it hurts. I'm hoping the long term results and benefits will outweigh the initial onset of pain and agony after which something stronger than Advil is usually required. I'm hoping that the motion of moving rhymically to the tunes like Lady Gaga's Dance or Katy Perry's California Girls will become something that my body becomes addicted to again. My iphone is full of music and it makes the time and distance go by very quickly. Once I stepped outside, I realized how much I needed to be there, it was absolutely perfect weather, so the fresh air was so refreshing, both physically and mentally. Today, I took Maxxie out with me, but that won't happen again. He's just too small to go the distance! I know that running a marathon is out of the question, but training to just do the most and the best I can will be enough for me right now. Motion is potion, so I think it will make getting up from the computer desk much easier in the long run.




Third, one of the things that Michael and I love to do is dance. It's not been as much fun here in the apartment as it was in the log cabin in the woods in Maine. Boy, could we turn up the music out there! Here, not so easy. We're looking forward to moving into our home and having that space for dancing and making a joyful noise. There's something about moving to the music, singing the songs and being with someone you love. It makes you feel like a little kid again, totally uninhibited and free. Many times our songs are worship songs, and that is very meaningful, very special time we share. I just learned that the yoga studio has Tango lessons once a week...that's our next endeavor. We just have to remember that motion is potion. Our bodies will thank us later.


Life is too short to always be thinking that we're sick and tired of being sick and tired. A lot of those feelings come from stress, so moving will help get us out of that cycle. I am so looking forward to the high you get from being in the groove of moving, whether it's running, walking, yoga, or dancing. There is always a point where your body slowly slides into the zone of feeling really good, when everything is warmed up and moving actually feels great. It happens after about 5-10 minutes or about a half mile walking, depending on how fast you are moving. Once you're there, you feel the aches and pains dissolve away. Your body can move better, easier, more fluidly. It feels really good. I love that part, when all things work together for good! Motion is potion seems like a good theory. I'm testing it, and I already know it works. That in itself is enough motivation for me to get back out there tomorrow.

Another August Another Birthday

For the past few years I have written and resubmitted the birthday blog about my two children, Sara and Chris, their birthdays are at the end of this month. Here's a link in case you missed it.

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=695155067&v=box_3#!/note.php?note_id=123210038433


It was written in a moment of happiness, joy, love and hope. Hope that if they knew how I felt they would be blessed by knowing my deepest thoughts. Hope that somehow it might create a movement towards mending the broken hearts, chipped ego's and stretched-out-of-shape emotions. Hope that the possibility would exist for every part of our family to recover from the events of the past four years and we would emerge stronger, more resilient, more intertwined knowing that relationships are the only thing that we will take into eternity.

I look at pictures like the one above and remember the time when I got them dressed in cute clothes, set up the little rocking chair in the living room, helped Sara hold her little brother so he didn't wiggle away, and tried to make a memory by snapping my camera to capture the moment. Before and after the picture we were laughing, happy, excited and having a great time. Back then my picture taking skills were lacking for sure, but I managed to grab a few that were cute. These days, my picture taking ability has grown so that capturing a memory is so much more powerful. I really look through the lens and try to capture the feeling of the moment, not just the subject. When I look back on this picture, I still feel the moment. I look into their little faces and see the beauty and innocence of childhood that made me feel so tender towards them. I see two children who captured my heart and my life and made me feel loved as a Mom. I see sweetness and gentleness which made me feel warmth and joy at knowing these two God-given children. This and hundreds of other photos that I have really move me and take me back to that time and I grieve that it went so quickly.

I look into the picture and see what I had hoped for when they were small. I hoped for their happiness, their success, their joy, that they would have children of their own so they could feel what I felt and especially for their love, that they would feel deeply loved. It was my daily goal to be as loving as I could be, to play with them, to rest with them, to enjoy the outside with them, to bond with them, hoping it would last a lifetime. I wanted to enjoy these same feelings forever. I wanted them to know and feel loved by me for their entire lifetime.  I wanted to remain deeply connected to them, and for them to love, respect, appreciate our relationship as they got older.

Somehow, that all fell apart. Somewhere along the way, I realized that if I wasn't truly happy, at peace with myself and felt truly loved, that they would not feel this either. Through many years of praying and working through problems and issues with myself, and issues others had with me (as if that was my fault) it was crucial that I make changes in order to get to the true center of who I was intended to be. They saw me as their Mom, but as they grew older and more mature, they saw me as Mom with problems or Mom with issues, or Mom who wasn't completely present. Truthfully, their assessment was accurate.

So sad to say, but external factors were interrupting that precious relationship I thought I had with them. External factors like my relationship with their dad, the fundamental changes at a core level in the church I attended for over 35 years, the shaking up of my self-confidence in discovering that my frustration wasn't all about me. While it was no excuse to be emotionally distant from them, it was the reality. Not to mention they were growing through their own stuff as well, high school, just into college, not so perfect relationships and all the rest. But our home environment was toxic. It had to be fixed. I prayed incessently that God would heal whatever was broken. And with no one else taking responsibility or leading the recovery, I felt the burden and felt as though all of it was my fault for the failure. That somehow I let everyone down, that I wasn't strong enough to hold it all together. But never, ever, did I expect God to work the way He did in our lives. You just don't plan like that. You always plan from the perspective that positive results will be what everyone experiences. Looking back, after zooming out to gain a better perspective, I realize this was toxic thinking. I was wrong. I was not fully to blame, and I'm still not.

For me that hope still exists that our relationships can heal. The path to obtaining it is dimmed. I know it's possible, I know it's hard work, I know it's worth it. But the path is so dim on some days that it seems non-existent. So, maneuvering through the darkness is mind numbing, disorienting, scary and tiring. As I look in on these two precious individuals, who are God's children more than mine, I still see brokenness. As much as Sara's relationship with me is broken, Chris's with his Dad is broken. This tells me that something was fundamentally wrong with our family structure. It wasn't because Mom wasn't perfect, it was because our family wasn't perfect. It wasn't because Mom wasn't fully emotionally available, it was because a true leader wasn't available. I'm learning the amazing impact the role a father has in the home. When the father figure takes a passive role and doesn't lead the family, addressing what current issues are, moving towards peace, joy and love, it does have a greater chance of dying as a unit. The pressure is then on the mother who wasn't designed to be employed in this role. The children see the brokeness coming from the one who's role is to nurture but seems to be allowing this dysfunction. But the reality is, the father is the leader of the family. Taking a passive role, then deciding that it's not your responsibilty to lead the family, is irresponsible and irreparably harms each person in the family. Without significant intervention, it's doomed to failure. Our family did not have that significant intervention. We failed as a family.

That said, it doesn't have to remain so. What God has done in beginning the healing process, He will finish. Many aspects of our lives have been healed, but there are obvious areas that are more broken than before.

For this particular birthday weekend, as always, I wish the best for my two, Sara and Chris. I wish and pray for them blessings so full they are overwhelmed by them and are unable to even measure them. I wish and pray for them happiness and love that will last the rest of their lifetime. I wish and pray for God's favor to be on them and they would have opportunities to fulfill their dreams and passions. I wish and pray for them miracles in their life and that God would seem very real, close and personal. I wish and pray they would be continuously strong enough to keep taking a second, third or fourth look at what is not functioning at 100% in their life and be willing to resolve the difference. I wish and pray for their safety and comfort. I wish and pray they would reconnect with those feelings they knew when they were younger, when they felt loved, they felt special, they felt close to those nurturers in their life. No one can replace those individuals, ever. Even the scriptures talk of "turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and the children to the fathers." I'm certain God meant mothers, too. I wish and pray that wherever forgiveness is due they will take the steps to get that done. God is in the business of restoration, and it feels right for us to walk in His example.

While birthdays are to be happy, joy-filled times, I wish for Sara and Chris nothing but the most enjoyable 24 hours, celebrating their arrival into this world. If my role was only to bring them here, then so be it. I am blessed to be their Mom. My heart would be filled if they allowed my role to expand into the love, joy, happiness and successes of their life. The human heart wasn't built to withstand exclusion and I pray this is the year when all that changes.