Monday, July 3, 2017

I'M TIRED OF CARING FOR MILES


“I’m tired of caring for Miles.”

I actually spoke those words out loud yesterday to our Small Group.  Keith and I have the privilege of teaching a group of Young Married couples every Sunday morning and yesterday we knew God wanted us to share with them what was going on in our lives.  And I didn’t want to.  Sharing our life and struggles with them has never been hard, but we are tired and our lives feel extra messy.  I don’t mind sharing my messy life with people, but I prefer to do it after God works.  After God restores.  After God redeems.  But God was asking us to share our hearts in the midst of being weary and that just felt like a big ask.

“Eight years.”

These two words have been running through my head all month.  We just celebrated Miles' 8th birthday and his birthdays always throw me into a funk.  I celebrate knowing someone is remembering.  I celebrate a physical age, but developmentally, emotionally, and mentally, we are nowhere near that number.  And it’s just hard.  Every year that goes by, I find myself grieving where I thought we’d be.  I read posts from years past and realize we haven’t come as far as I thought we had or hoped we would.  But this year, it seemed heavier.  I couldn’t help but wonder if I can do this for eight more years?  And then eight more?  And eight more after that? 

“We’re caregivers.”

Keith spoke those words to me last week as I stood in the ocean washing sand off of me.  I had just finished playing in the sand with our friends’ children and I told Keith I forgot how fun it is to play with kids that can play back.  Playing with Miles is work.  Keeping Miles safe is work.  Keeping others safe from Miles is work.  And because he has no self-care skills and is not potty trained, caring for his physical needs is a lot of work.  The role of caregiver can be exhausting.  And lonely.

“Let us not grow weary of doing good…”

God has been speaking these words over me the last month.  He has been whispering them to my heart because He knows I am tired.  And weary.  He has been reminding me that “…in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart.”  But that is so hard when you are walking through something that could last the rest of your life on this earth.  

“And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh…”

God is using this verse found in Galatians 5 to bring clarity to my weariness.  When I say I am tired of caring for Miles, what I actually mean is I am tired of what caring for Miles requires of me.  It requires a daily dying to self.  A daily crucifying of flesh.  A daily decision to lay my life down so Jesus can shine.  Crucifixion was a slow and painful way to die.  So when we are told to be crucified with Christ, when we are told to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, we need to be prepared for that death to be slow and painful.

"I never want to be the me before Miles."

Those words are just as true today as the day I first spoke them.  Caring for Miles is the hardest thing I've ever done and it is the greatest privilege of my life.  Nothing has ever challenged me to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and Eternity more than the gift of Miles who has the gift of Autism.

"So, how are you doing?"

I wish I could sit with you over a cup of coffee and ask you that question.  I wonder today what has you feeling tired and weary?  What has you feeling defeated?  What "gift" has God given you that feels too big and too heavy?  Don't give up.  Don't give in.  Don't lose heart.  Keep your eyes and heart fixed on Jesus.

"Don't you know? Haven't you heard? The Eternal, the Everlasting God, the Creator of the whole world never gets weary or tired. His wisdom is beyond understanding. God strengthens the weary. Even young people get tired, then stumble and fall. But those who trust in the Lord will regain their strength. They will soar on wings as eagles. They will run - never winded, never weary. They will walk - never tired, never faint."
{Isaiah 40:28-31}

Monday, February 27, 2017

LIVE A LIFE THAT OUTLIVES YOU

 

There is a story in Eric Metaxas’ book, Seven Women: And the Secret of Their Greatness, about a teenage girl named Joan.  Most of us know her as Joan of Arc, but most of us don’t actually know her story.  I recently sat around with some new friends talking about different bios from the book and I couldn’t help but share my takeaway from the life of this teenage farm girl.

God spoke very specifically to Joan and she was brave enough to obey.  As God spoke, she took a step of obedience, and God did what He said He was going to do.  As I read her story of meeting with royalty, leading the French army, and often going against the advise of her family, I couldn’t help but think of my teenager.

Ever since Alex gave his life to Jesus, I have wrestled.

The Holy Spirit dwells in Alex.
The Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in Alex.
The Holy Spirit has the ability to speak to, in, and through Alex.

How will Alex Harmon ever learn to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit if my Mom voice is the loudest voice in his life?

The Holy Spirit gives Alex access to God the Father.
The Holy Spirit dispenses God’s love into Alex’s heart.
The Holy Spirit reveals the mystery of God to Alex.

Even when my Mom voice is pointing Alex to Jesus, I often need to quiet down because through the Holy Spirit, he has direct access to God!

Like Joan of Arc, I want Alex to hear the still, small voice of God and I want him to be brave enough to obey it!  Which is why I wrestle.  I have to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s voice in my life so I can partner with Him in parenting Alex Harmon.  I want to help point him to Jesus, not be an obstacle for him to trip over as the Holy Spirit tries to lead him.

If you follow Joan’s life to the very end, you find a young woman who dedicated her life to obeying the voice of God.  It cost her everything.  She was burned at the stake, only later to be recognized as innocent.  While reading the end of her story, my mind raced to a story in the Bible about a man named John.  He was often referred to as John the Baptist or John the Baptizer.  He spent his life preparing for the coming of Jesus.  He spoke truth about who Jesus was and baptized believers in the Jordan River.  John committed his whole life to pointing people to Jesus.  In Matthew 11, we find John in prison, about to be beheaded.

John sends word to Jesus saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

Basically, John is asking Jesus…
Do you know where I am?
Do you know what is about to happen to me?
Are you coming for me?

And Jesus sends word back to John, “…the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them.  And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

When I read that this past year as I was studying John the Baptist, that reply made me weep.  And I had the same reaction reading the end of Joan of Arc’s life.

Basically, Jesus said…
“John, I know exactly where you are.  I know exactly what’s about to happen to you.  Yes I am the One you have paved the way for.   I heal the sick and the lame, make the deaf hear and the dead alive, but I am not coming for you.  I am the rescuer and yet I am not going to rescue you.  But don’t lose faith.”

John the Baptist.
I can’t wait to meet him one day.

I want to know what it was like always being the one to go before Jesus, but never be with Jesus.  I want to know what it was like to send his closest friends to follow Jesus, knowing he would be alone.  He knew Jesus from his mother’s womb, so when he sent word asking if He was the one, I wonder what he was feeling.  I wonder why Jesus sent word back with John’s disciples before he told the crowd “among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.”  Why didn’t John get to know that’s how Jesus felt before he died?

The reason I feel so connected to John and the reason Jesus’ reply hits me so hard is because I feel like Jesus is speaking those exact same words to my heart.

“Jackie, I know what your life looks like.  I know that adding Miles to your family was hard.  I know that caring for him is difficult.  I know that changing diapers the rest of your life isn’t something you want to do.  But I am not coming for you.  I am not changing your circumstances.  I am the rescuer and yet I’m not going to rescue you.   But don’t lose faith.”

Hearing Jesus speak those words to my heart hurts every single time.
But it has changed me.
My prayers are forever different.

I no longer pray that Miles emotionally progresses out of the terrible two’s/three’s.
I no longer pray that Miles gets fully potty-trained.
My prayer is that, no matter what, that I will not lose faith because of Jesus.


When you live your life for Jesus, your life outlives you.

What circumstances are you walking through that makes you question the goodness of God?  What situation in your life are you asking God to change?  What do you need Him to rescue you from?

What if it never happens?
What if He doesn’t come through the way you think He should?
Will you still trust Him?  Will you still obey?
  
“And blessed is he who takes no offense at Me and finds no cause for stumbling in or through Me and is not hindered from seeing the Truth.”
{Matthew 11:6} 

Monday, January 16, 2017

I HAD A DREAM...


I had a dream…
and it didn’t involve losing babies.
I had a dream…
and it didn’t involve special needs.
I had a dream…
and it didn’t involve pain and grieving.
I had a dream…
but it wasn’t God’s best for me.

I grieved lost dreams…
and begged God to give me new ones.
I grieved lost dreams…
and was left to wait and see.
I grieved lost dreams…
and the pain was suffocating.
I grieved lost dreams…
and I wondered if God had forgotten me.

I have new dreams…
and my children helped to shape them.
I have new dreams…
because special needs changed me.
I have new dreams…
because the pain and hard finally broke me.
I have new dreams…
and it’s because of God’s love and pursuit of me.

I don’t know what you are walking through today but please know that God loves and adores you.  He is absolutely crazy about you!  If your life and circumstances have forced you to grieve lost dreams, I am so very sorry.  But God.  He is so good and He is so faithful.  Ask Him to breathe new dreams into your heart and you will be amazed at what He can do with your broken dreams and your fragile heart.  

"I say to you today, my friends,
that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment,
I still have a dream."
-Martin Luther King Jr

Saturday, December 24, 2016

CHRISTMAS IS JESUS

Tomorrow morning, people all over will gather, open their Bibles, and turn to Luke chapter 2.  Most of our Christmas mornings begin with these words…
“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered… And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”
I spent the month of December anticipating the Coming, the birth of our rescuer, Jesus Christ.  Christmas is all about His birth.  Easter is all about His death.  But I find that reflecting on His death, His sacrifice, and His life, heightens my anticipation of His birth.  It actually changes Christmas.


The birth of Jesus was the start of a 33 year journey
that ended on a Friday that we call Good.

A baby, placed in a wooden box.
A man, nailed to a wooden cross.

I've spent the last couple of weeks in this non-traditional Christmas passage...

Jesus stood before Pilate, the governor, who asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”  Jesus answered, “Yes, that’s right.”  Then, when the leading priests and the older Jewish leaders made their accusations against Jesus, he said nothing.  So Pilate said to him, “Don’t you hear all these charges they are making against you? Why don’t you answer?”  But Jesus did not say anything, and this really surprised the governor.  Every year at Passover time the governor would free one prisoner—whichever one the people wanted him to free.  At that time there was a man in prison who was known to be very bad. His name was Barabbas.  When a crowd gathered, Pilate said to them, “I will free one man for you.  Which one do you want me to free: Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?”  Pilate knew that they had handed Jesus over to him because they were jealous of him.  While Pilate was sitting there in the place for judging, his wife sent a message to him.  It said, “Don’t do anything with that man.  He is not guilty.  Last night I had a dream about him, and it troubled me very much.”  But the leading priests and older Jewish leaders told the people to ask for Barabbas to be set free and for Jesus to be killed. Pilate said, “I have Barabbas and Jesus.  Which one do you want me to set free for you?”  The people answered, “Barabbas!”  Pilate asked, “So what should I do with Jesus, the one called the Messiah?”  All the people said, “Kill him on a cross!”  Pilate asked, “Why do you want me to kill him? What wrong has he done?”  But they shouted louder, “Kill him on a cross!”  Pilate saw that there was nothing he could do to make the people change.  In fact, it looked as if there would be a riot.  So he took some water and washed his hands in front of them all.  He said, “I am not guilty of this man’s death.  You are the ones who are doing it!”  The people answered, “We will take full responsibility for his death.  You can blame us and even our children!”  Then Pilate set Barabbas free.  And he told some soldiers to beat Jesus with whips. Then he handed him over to the soldiers to be killed on a cross.  {Matthew 27:11-26}
This Christmas, my thoughts keep going to the one who lived.
The one who was set free.

Barabbas.
A thief.  A murder.
An all around bad guy.

The murderer lived.
The Messiah died.

I find myself dreaming of what became of Barabbas.
How did this guilty man feel when he was set free?
Did that moment change him?  Give him purpose?
I so want to know that Barabbas didn’t, for one second, waste his pardon.
I so want to hear that Barabbas spent the rest of his life preaching the Gospel of grace.  But I don't think that's what happened.

And as I'm feeling frustrated and disappointed in a man I don't even know,
God quietly whispered to my heart...
Did that moment change you?  Did it give you purpose?
My cross was your cross, Jackie.  Are you wasting your pardon?
I took your place so you could live.  Who are you living for?

And that has messed up my Christmas.

We spend so much time making Christmas into something that it was never meant to be.  The world wants Christmas to be about a baby, and presents, and Santa, and an elf.  The world wants us to make Christmas about us.  But when you remove the distractions and set time aside to focus on the Coming, it messes you up.  When you take time to remember the humble birth ended in a violent death because of my sins and your sins, it changes you.  When I picture myself as Barabbas, standing next to Jesus, and guilty me gets to go free, it's just too much.

Christmas is love.
Christmas is grace.
Christmas is Jesus.

His birth, His life, His death.

They are all connected.
They are all important.
And they were all motivated my love.



Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.
{Philippians 2:5-8}

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

WHAT IF THE STATES OF AMERICA ACTUALLY UNITED?

Photo Credit
Today is the day.

Today I will detour from my normal, I will exercise my freedom and my rights, and I will stand and speak without saying a word.

Today I will cast my vote.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016, I will vote for the person I would like to see step into the position that only 44 other people in the history of America have held.  I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like to be THAT person.  To be the President of the States that only Unite in the midst of tragedy, then turn on each other again.

The top candidates names and faces are on every street corner and sprinkled in yards all over the country.  We are divided into red states and blue states and the media is working hard to provide info and sound bites that help us make the decision THEY think is best.  The one thing we seem to be united on is our overall disappointment in our choices.

Living in America is an honor and privilege.
The freedom to have a voice and a vote is a gift.

But my hope and salvation is not found in an election, but they are found in the person of Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross.

We are a broken humanity choosing broken people to run a broken country.

But God.
He specializes in taking broken people and making them whole.
He often uses our brokenness as a vessel for His glory to shine.

What if we allowed our brokenness and our differences to be the things that actually connect us to each other?  We can’t be diverse if we aren’t different and if we aren’t different there would be no reason to unite.  So today, my vote might not be the same as yours and my voice might not speak the same message, but I pray that these States will unite behind the person elected to be number 45.  I pray that our own brokenness opens the door for us to extend grace to each other this year and it brings healing to our hearts, our hurts, and our land.  

“Every kingdom that is divided against itself will be destroyed. And any city or family that is divided against itself will not survive.”
[Matthew 12:25]