It Either Is, or It Isn’t

I have always had a hard time with my prayer life. Prayer has been a very easy way for the enemy to swiftly attack me. I remember a conversation with my mom years ago where I asked her, “Why do we have to pray? If God is all-knowing, then why waste our time praying when He already knows what we’re going to ask for?” This thought pattern has culminated into not only a lousy prayer life, but also a real doubt of whether it’s prayers that are being answered verses coincidences randomly happening. 

I’ve become very pessimistic, and I rarely see the point to spending real quality time in prayer. I see good things happen, and I push the thought off, “well, that makes sense that this would happen because of this or that.” Or, “well, we just happened to be in the same place at the same time. That happens.” This has led to a deep confusion: what is of the Lord and what is coincidence? Naturally, this gives me an out while I watch other people prosper and my mother decline. I think, “Some people simply were dealt better hand than we were; it happens. Life is just hard for us right now and we have to make the best of it.” I seem to be stuck, stubborn and reluctant to believe that the Lord provides good things. Over the past week, I’ve battled with these thoughts, and I can’t shake them. I want to believe the Lord answers prayers, but how can we know if it’s an answered prayer or if it’s just being in the right place at the right time?

Then yesterday, I ran to Food Lion for one specific thing and also grabbed some produce. I did the self-checkout thing and a lady bagged the groceries for me. When I paid I grabbed the bag and left. I got into my car and was pulling out of my space and the grocery-bagger lady was running straight for me with a small bag in her hand. The one item I had gone in there for, I had left behind; she had put it in a separate bag. She came running straight to me as if she knew exactly which car was mine.

In that instant I made a decision. It is either a blessing from the Lord, or it isn’t. I don’t get to pick and choose which good things come from the Lord. All good things are either from Him, or all good things are not from Him. This is where my faith, all my beliefs, everything I’ve been taught gets tested. Rubber meets the road.

So I decided, I have to believe that when the Bibles says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17), that it’s the truth. 

Playing tag in the two wheelchairs with Morgan around the house is a blessing of grace over us during this time. Mom finishing all her chicken minis from Chick-Fil-A, is a perfect gift from the Lord. The lady racing out to my car wasn’t just because she was a nice person, it was a good gift from the Father. Laughing and playing trivia with my friends is a gift, it’s not just a coincidence that we all wanted to get together and play; it’s a blessing.

If I can really believe this, if I can really trust that the Lord is providing these things, then maybe my faith will grow and I can start to work on some of my trust issues I’ve wrestling through with Him. I have to believe He’s at work. Maybe I don’t like the way He’s working, but He is working. And while more things pile up, pressure continues to build and projects need to get done, He provides blessings. 

So I’m changing my thought process. If something good happens, I’m gonna try to not dismiss it as a coincidence, but view it as a gift from the Lord. 

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It’s September?

August is a blur. I have a few memories of August. Morgan had a birthday, Susie got engaged, my grandpa passed away, I bought Chinese for family dinner on my way into RVA, there was food on my shelf in my refrigerator that I didn’t put there, and I did a lot of driving. A lot of driving. I’m getting Midlothian Turnpike confused with 29 North. It’s odd living in two cities. I spend the night in Richmond on Sunday nights and make it into work in Cville on Monday at 1. Then I go back to RVA Wednesday night and back to Cville for work at 1 on Thursday. That’s a lot of I-64. And gas. And coffee. Not only is August long gone, but we’re almost halfway through September. Oh brother.

To say that I have questions is a far cry from reality. I feel like I wander this earth with only questions. This idea of taking every thought captive is almost a joke. How do I fight against the thoughts of death? A friend asked if mom was saved. Thank God she is. He said, “well I know it feels like it doesn’t help, yet, it kinda helps. Ya know?” He’s right. It doesn’t help take away the pain when I watch, helplessly, as she chokes on the yogurt she’s eating. It doesn’t help when she looks at me and begs me to not force her to eat anymore even though she’s lost 20 pounds in a month. But it does help. It softens the blow. But there’s still a blow.

Mom reserves her words these days. She communicates with pointing, with her eyes and with breathless words. But when it’s time to say good night, she looks me in the eye, and as if it’s the most important thing in the world she says, “I love you”. I tell her the same, kiss her on the cheek and head to bed. There’s a piece of me that seems to die a little bit every day.

I look at other believers and think, “How did they do it? How did they go through this type of pain and make it through still so in love with the Lord?” I think of how easy it should be for me to sit back, trust the Lord, acknowledge that He really is in control, He has a plan, He’s using this for His good. I should have grief, it’s normal to be sad, it would be unnatural for me to not be! But why can’t I just rest in knowing the Lord is in control? Why am I so angry? Why am I fighting so hard against the One person who has promised to be with me through thick and thin? Why can’t I talk to Him like mom can? I went to Bible school for goodness sake! I should be better than this. But I’m not.

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The family at OBX last weekend. But missing Phoebe 😦

Maybe this is what wrestling looks like. I thought it was just a figure of speech. I never knew that I would get to the point where I would have to wrestle with the Lord. You see, I think very highly of myself. I think that I will not make bad decisions or want something the Lord won’t give me, or that I will be totally fine with how He leads in my life. I’m so very naive. But there I was, driving home from Cville, or from Richmond, or, wherever, I can’t even keep up with where home is, but there I was thinking. I saw me standing before this huge giant, this beautifully huge giant. He had His arms open. He just wanted to hold me. It seemed so easy to just let Him, but I couldn’t. I turned around and walked away. Why? I don’t know. I simply can’t believe what’s happening all around me. I want to rest assured that He has my back, I’ve been trained that He does. I’ve been told and I believe that He cares. I’m told He’s trustworthy. At so many points in my life I’ve rested in this assurance, I’ve known a peace while resting in Him, trusting His ways for my life. So why can’t I lean back on those times? Have I forgotten them? Am I just another Israelite who forgets how good God is? Maybe I am. Maybe this is what wrestling feels like. I’m holding the map in front of me, but then there’s the road I’m standing on and I’m getting mixed messages.

Day by Day

Don’t be anxious about tomorrow, today has enough troubles of it’s own. Right? I’ve always taken for granted this idea that I can make plans months, weeks and days in advance. Who promised me days? Who knows what will happen in the next hour? 

I’ve had to learn to tell people, “I want to be there, and I will plan on being there, but I might not make it.” I hate that. I want to be able to make commitments, but that’s not a right we have. Every minute is a gift. 

Yesterday we lost grandpa. He was living at home with mom and dad for the past month or so; dad was trying to get grandpas’s strength up so he could maybe get an apartment, or if needed assisted living. He went into the hospital last week with congestive heart failure and that was that. There’s a deep sadness knowing that he’s most likely not with the Lord. I don’t know his heart, only the Lord does, so I guess one day we’ll know.

There is so much going on physically, and then there’s the emotional side. Mom got a picture of Susie and her boyfriend reuniting after a summer apart and mom started to cry. I haven’t seen her cry since Morgan graduated. Even since the diagnosis I hadn’t seen her cry. I asked her why she was crying. She just looked at me and said, “I don’t want to miss this. There are so many things I don’t want to miss.” We sat and cried together and then we talked about the things we would do to live life to the fullest while she was able and to do whatever we can to fight for her life.

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Right before Josh’s graduation from Marine Corp Boot Camp

I heard this is called the “war zone”. Mom isn’t well and living life like normal, but she’s not gone yet. She’s sick and it’s going downhill. Every day is the best day of the rest of her life. ALS is a horrible disease. I don’t know how people make it through this without the Lord. I don’t know how people make it through without the prayers of the saints.

I will never be able to repay those who have helped our family and mother during this time and the help they will give in the time to come. People have send me flowers, gift cards for gas and Starbucks, groceries and meals. There are no words thank can express my gratitude for what’s been done for me or my family. We feel so lifted from your prayers and meeting our physical needs. 

I’ve started a blessing jar to remind me that even though it seems like the Lord is distant and has forgotten about us, He is still working and showing love. I hope to become more like mom, who continues to mimic Daniel and give thanks to the Lord even more so under trials.

Please continue to pray for healing for mom’s body, peace over the family, grace towards one another under these stressful times.

Your Love Never Fails

Everything seems to be moving so quickly. I received a call from dad this afternoon saying that he had to call 911 for grandpa. Grandpa has been living at our home for a little over a month. Dad was hoping he could help strengthen grandpa by making sure he was getting fed three times a day and moving around a bit. Since grandma went Home in February of last year, grandpa hasn’t taken good care of himself. He’s weak and grumpy. Well, grumpy is actually putting it quite nicely.

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Missing Susie and Phoebe 😦 And Mom basically couldn’t stop crying; she is so proud of Morgan! And rightfully so, he’s the man!

For a while, we (the kids) have been trying to find a way for dad to feel free about letting grandpa go to a home where they can care for him allowing dad to focus his attention on mom. Yesterday he talked to an adult care provider and they said that the quickest way to get grandpa into a home is if he was checked into a hospital and discharged into a nursing home. Since dad has taken good care of grandpa, getting him fed and such, we thought this would take some time. But this morning grandpa wasn’t able to get out of bed, so dad called 911. Of course it’s emotional for dad to see his father moving into the hospital; but, what isn’t hard right now? We are all thankful that the Lord has provided a way for grandpa to leave our home and be with nurses who can provide him with the care he will need, and dad will be able to focus his attention on his wife.

Mom’s sister, Diana, came over last night to spend time with mom. Uncle Mike, mom’s older brother, was scheduled to come over today, but mom was feeling under the weather and requested he not come. She was also feeling too weak to make it to her swallow therapy session. Granted, if it was me, I wouldn’t necessarily be signing up for electroshock therapy on my throat either.

We are pursuing the Deanna Protocol therapy. I actually just found all of the supplements needed, and Lord willing will have them arriving at mom’s home on Monday. A lot of these supplements are used by body builders because the provide energy to muscles. Then of course, there’s the extra-virgin coconut oil massage we will have to give her. But don’t get me wrong, I would feed her mouth-to-mouth bird-style if it would save her life.

Prayer requests:

Healing is not off the table. We know that the Lord is able no matter how far along this disease is. 

Pray against infections in mom and for low stress, even though this is a highly stressful time.

Our family would continue to experience supernatural peace and sweet times with our mother and family.

We are moving ‘extra’ stuff from our house into a storage unit this Saturday so our home will be staged. Pray for organization over the process and for safety.

Pray for strength/peace as we have to continue going to work and doing our daily responsibilities.

But Even If He Does Not

As a kid I would read all these Bible stories and think of how silly the characters were for not believing in Jesus. Not believing He would provide a son, provide protection from the lion’s mouth, provide deliverance for His people from the enemy, provide food and water, raise the dead to life or even provide safety from the scorching fire. I would think, ‘Don’t they know that God is awesome and will save them?’ ‘Why can’t they remember that He fed them yesterday?’ I would almost laugh at the thought that God wouldn’t protect His children. Continue reading