Starting with gratitude this week...
Giving thanks for these blessings...
~ Grace that reigns down on my spirit just when I'm feeling such despair
~ Greening grass everywhere, promising more color soon
~ Spending my days with four sweet, imaginative children
~ Freshly baked wheat bread with honey
~ Sweet strawberries
~ Soothing words, promising words, glorious words from the Bible
~ Friends who love the Lord
~ Excited kids coming home from AWANA
~ Children growing in the Lord
~ Family prayer that binds hearts in Him
~ Excited children floating boats in the flood left by dreary spring rain
~ Listening with my daughter Mary to an excellent American Girl audiobook about Josefina
~ Kid creations all around me
Tuesday we were back at the hospital for Beth's fourth infusion of Orencia, a juvenile rheumatoid arthritis drug. She dreads the IV experience slightly less now, but she still cried. The nurses are very nice and one of them is talkative, who also has a six-year-old daughter. Maybe I'll be able to share the reason for my Hope with her one of these months.
What I'm Learning About Life and Our Comfort
I do the best as a mom, and as a daughter of the King, when I remember it isn't about whether life feels easy or hard or exhausting, or whether a day holds hope or despair. Transcending today's difficulties and rejoicing in the Lord always means stepping above the earth emotionally and spiritually, remembering that the Lord's concern is for souls, not for my daily ease of living.
He can allow my daughter to have an aggressive arthritis and my son to have a debilitating OCD, and my other daughter to have crippling anxiety over thunder and lightening and tornadoes...he can allow it all knowing His grace is sufficient for me, for his power is made perfect in weakness. And me? I have to remember to boast all the more loudly about my weaknesses, so God's power can rest on me.
2 Corinthians 4:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.
Boasting About Our Weaknesses
So here's my boast: This week was hard and Mary cried over thunder and kept her fingers in her ears for hours so she wouldn't hear more of it. She couldn't concentrate on school and I ran out of ideas to help her. So, exhausted, I held her in my arms and we listened to an American Girl audiobook for a few hours straight. I seriously didn't know what else to do. We loved the Josefina stories and I found myself crying several times. We both felt sorry when the stories ended.
No, we didn't get through her regular subjects, but she learned a lot about Hispanic culture in 1824, before New Mexico became a US territory. She learned about how hard children had to work to help with daily living chores on a ranchero, and she learned that many couldn't read or write. It was a day of immersion into another culture, and afterwards, the sky looking better, Mary perked up and she and Beth pretended to do chores like knitting and baking and sweeping on a ranchero.
God Orders Our Days
I had been feeling so discouraged by the amount of time the children's anxiety disorders and health issues were stealing from us, and then I remembered that each day unfolds as God wants it to, and that my daily concerns are not the same as His. Does he care if we don't finish our curriculum on time? He has secured my children's futures and I'm a mere instrument of His.
Armed with new faith, I told my son Peter that I was absolutely sure God would take him down a path of healing and that his OCD would not be this debilitating forever. Several hours later he told me that I'd encouraged him so much, and that it had been easier to resist his rituals because of what I said. Yes, Christ's power is made perfect in weakness.
Paul's AWANA Homework
Paul had to write a salvation message for his AWANA homework, using four different verses. I loved what he wrote. He read it to me on the way to AWANA and I immediately started crying, remembering how lost I was at his same age, and giving thanks to God that my children know Him intimately and are armed to change the world for Christ, anxiety disorders and all.
The Good News by Paul
Everybody sins and the punishment is eternal suffering. That is why Jesus was born here. Jesus is the Son of God, and was born here as a baby. Even though Jesus never did anything wrong, he died on a cross. Luke 23:46 Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
And three days later, Jesus rose from the dead! Jesus' death on the cross is the way to heaven. This is in Titus 3:5-7 He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
Now to become a Christian you must do three things:
1. Admit that you've sinned. Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.
2. Believe in the Lord Jesus. Acts 16:31 They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved--you and your household."
3. Confess your sins. 1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
That is how to become a Christian.
I drove the rest of the way to AWANA in joy, knowing the Lord is doing a good work in my children. It hadn't been an easy day, but this was the grace, this little essay, that reminded me of God's love and faithfulness. I had so many concerns regarding my children, but all my concerns were needless. Right in front of me, the Lord is blessing them with a spiritual knowledge and hope. So often I feel responsible for their futures, but needlessly. God is raising them up, not me. I just need to stay out of the way!
I gave the girls an egg carton and they have caterpillars in the works, waiting to be painted.
Mary, who doesn't really play with Barbies, but only dresses them occasionally, made this pink dress for one of them.
Beth makes dolls all the live long day, outside of her school assignments. We see fabric and shapes and figures, and looking at the same things, she sees a doll or stuffy waiting to be made.
Computer Programming with Khan Academy
Paul, along with the usual subjects, has spent a lot of time on Khan Academy this week doing computer programming. He's over the moon excited about it, which puzzles me because as I look at it, I can't imagine anything more boring or tedious. My mind just doesn't work like Paul's, but I'm so pleased that he's excited and he excels at it. He's interested in writing homeschool curriculum some day, so now when he does a Teaching Textbooks math lesson, he's thinking about the computer programming the two brothers had to do to design such a complicated math curriculum. The Teaching Textbooks brothers are most likely Christian, judging by many of the math questions, but I'm not sure. They were homeschooled.
Planning a Garden
Peter, along with the usual school, has busied himself continuing to plan his garden and agonize about what date our last frost will be. He's researched and considered and changed his mind four times about when he will first plant cold weather crops outside. OCD is primarily a disorder characterized by a preoccupation with certainty. The brain glitch makes the person pursue certainty to a ridiculous extent--to an impossible extent that keeps them on a hamster wheel going no where fast. It's maddening for all involved. The key to getting better is learning to live with uncertainty.
What I'm Learning About OCD
I read a good deal in an OCD book this week and learned about a mother who, from the time her daughter was born, worried constantly for her daughter's safety. She never let her out of her sight and took great pains to keep her from harm. This severe OCD preoccupation with her daughter's safety continued into the daughter's adulthood, after which the daughter continued to live with her mother because to be out of her mother's sight for long was too stressful, due to her mother's OCD rituals to "ensure" her safety. The mother called the daughter constantly when she was at school or at work to check on her safety, and if the daughter didn't answer, the mother would drive to the workplace or school and check on her. It was awful and it was ruining their relationship. The mother had lost years of precious time with her daughter, all because of OCD, which wouldn't allow her to relax and just enjoy being a mother, proudly watching a daughter grow.
The mother finally ended up at the right counselor's office. He told her that to get well she had to accept uncertainty regarding her daughter's well being--that someday we all die and we don't know when that will be. She couldn't ever be sure her daughter would be alive the next day. At first the mother said no, she couldn't accept that kind of uncertainty. But bravely, she stayed in treatment and got well, and her relationship with her daughter repaired. It was a happy, healthy one.
OCD is a torturous, horrible disorder that belongs in the pit of hell.
My son Peter goes over and over in his mind about whether God wants him to go to Uganda to help the farmers there, or own a nursery and greenhouse and somehow serve the Lord in America. He wants to serve the Lord, but he just can't be exactly sure which path God wants him to take. Never mind that he doesn't need to have this figured out at 13 years old. It doesn't matter. He ruminates all day and drives everyone crazy, asking my opinion about what God wants for his life (we can't get involved with reassuring him because it makes the OCD worse).
It's like a hamster wheel he can't seem to get off of, and regarding his salvation, it's the same thing. He ruminates about whether he really is a Christian and really is going to heaven. These are very common OCD obsessions and they'll drive even the sanest person in the sufferer's life absolutely batty. No amount of counseling will help until the sufferer says...yes, I'm ready to accept and embrace uncertainty. That is step one and it's not a decision Peter has made in the affirmative yet, despite his agitated state.
So, I keep reading and I keep informing him about the way out of his conundrums. And I wait on the Lord, because I just know my gracious Heavenly Father will take Peter down a healing path, for His glory. One thing is for sure: My son loves the Lord. His answers in his AWANA book this week, which for Trek Club is more like a Bible study book, brought me to tears (yes, I'm teary a lot these days). He's a boy after the Lord's own heart, who just needs courage and a healing touch.
How was your week, friends? Thank you for reading here!