passover, prodigal parenting, and temporal lobes



Tomorrow, March 30, 2018, is the beginning of the Jewish Passover. Passover is a celebration of freedom commemorating when God liberated the Jewish people from slavery. You can read all about the Passover in scripture HERE, but the gist of why it’s called “Passover” is that the Jewish people were to put the blood of a male goat or sheep around their door frames so that their homes would be “passed over” on the night that God delivered judgment on Egypt by killing the first-born child of each home. The homes covered by blood were protected from judgment.

I’m not so great at Bible timelines, but around thirteen hundred years after the Jewish people were freed from slavery, on the first day of Passover, Jesus had dinner with his disciples, washed their feet, and told them that one of them was about to betray him. On the Christian calendar, that last supper is commemorated today. So yeah, it’s a good day to wash someone’s feet. 😉 In the three days following that last meal, Jesus was betrayed, tortured, beaten, crucified, and on the third day arose from the dead. For those who believe that Jesus was crucified and resurrected so that we may have eternal life, our passover looks like a cross and an empty tomb. The blood of Jesus spares us from judgment.

I sat today and read the story of the crucifixion and I was brought to tears.  I just kept thinking about God the Father witnessing his son being tortured and killed. He allowed the horrors of the crucifixion so that every human thereafter could live in the freedom of the resurrection. He watched and waited because he had complete faith in His ability to fulfill His promises. As a parent, I can’t even imagine.

At the moment, I have one prodigal child and one that has recently developed epilepsy. In both situations I’m having to make daily (sometimes minute by minute) choices. I get to choose fear, or I get to choose faith.  In all the choosing I’m also doing a whole lot of seeking wisdom.

Parenting is hard, y’all. I firmly believe that the Bible is meant to be the guide book for everything in life. But guess what? Other than dishing out discipline and leaving them an inheritance, it doesn’t give many specifics when it comes to bringing up little humans. Wouldn’t you just love to know how Noah convinced his kids to get on the ark? We know they were there. But seriously… just getting my kids in the car for church is like herding cats. Or how God, knowing the pain and suffering Jesus would endure, didn’t interfere?

Because I already know that someone is going to comment with, “What about Proverbs 22:6?” I’d like to point out a few things about that verse. 1) It says, “Raise a child in the way they should go and WHEN THEY ARE OLD they will not depart from it. It doesn’t say a dang thing about when they’re young and stupid, and have an underdeveloped frontal lobe, and the inability to make rational decisions. 2) It’s REALLY vague. The writer makes the assumption that every reader actually knows “the way they should go”. Hello?? Have you met the human race? NONE of us have “the way” all figured out. 3) The very next verse says, “The rich rule over the poor and the borrower is slave to the lender.” So maybe, just maybe, that verse is actually referring to teaching our kids to work hard and stay out of debt.

Although it’s hard to find many intimate conversations or outtakes between parents and children in scripture,  I have found one thing that is always consistent: when children are sick, struggling, or even dead, moms and dads always seek and cling to God on their children’s behalf. Biblical parents had crazy faith, y’all.

I believe that the only two tools our enemy needs to keep us from being in intimate relationship with God are isolation and distraction. Unfortunately, I think we’re living in a time when everyone is more isolated and distracted than at any other time in history.  I’m pretty sure that my need for my laptop and phone have made my faith look ridiculous when compared to the mom in 2 Kings who literally held onto the feet of the prophet Elisha until he came back to her house to raise her son from the dead. I want that kind of faith.

Hebrews 11:1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

Possibly the most detailed account of parenting in scripture isn’t something that actually happened. It’s a parable (a simple story used by Jesus to illustrate a spiritual lesson) about a prodigal son. I love the story for many reasons. First off, I’ve been a prodigal child. I’ve run from God, made some pretty awful choices, squandered things He’s given me, and come crawling back begging for grace. Every. Single. Time… God has wrapped his arms around me, celebrated me, and given me waaaaay more love and grace than I could ever possibly deserve. I also love it because the father in the story was there waiting and prepared to celebrate the son upon his return. He had a ring and a robe and new shoes and a fattened calf just waiting for the celebration of his son’s return. He had faith that his son WOULD return.

In 2010 our baby girl had an MRI that showed she had scarring in her temporal lobe. To be specific, she had extra tissue on her right hippocampus and right temporal horn. In that first year that she was ours she would frequently freeze. We, along with her pediatrician, had suspected that she was having seizures so we saw a neurologist that ordered the MRI and two EEGs. The first EEG showed some abnormal activity, but nothing significant. The second EEG also showed some slow/abnormal activity, but nothing significant. The freezing stopped and we just assumed it had been caused by her brain trying to process a whole new world of information.

Fast forward to two weeks ago… she climbed in bed next to me one morning and in the middle of rubbing my face and asking if she could have cake, she got a look of terror on her face, screamed, began smacking her lips and swallowing, and then couldn’t form words. It took two or three minutes for her to be able to speak. A few hours later, it happened again. The next day we saw it happen two  more times. The day after that, it happened four times in three hours. On the third day I started recording what we were witnessing and sent it to her doctor. While waiting to hear from her doctor, Dr. Google quickly told me what is happening looks like temporal lobe seizures. Last week an EEG showed bilateral seizure activity in her temporal lobe. We’re still waiting to get in with a pediatric neurologist for an MRI to see if there is any change from what the 2010 MRI showed, which means she is not yet on anti-seizure medication. She’s still having several seizures every day and her mental and verbal processing is definitely “off”.

Let me tell you something. Watching your child go from doing complicated math to not being able to form words in a matter of seconds is NOT fun.  It’s realllly hard to choose faith in those few minutes when I can’t reach her. It’s also realllly hard to choose faith in the moments when I can’t reach my prodigal.

But then I remember…. we’ve been passed over. This house and this family are covered by the blood and God ALWAYS fulfills His promises!

When she is old she will NOT depart from the way she was brought up

Jesus was wounded so that she IS healed

It only takes faith as small as a mustard seed to move mountains…

I hope you experience all that Resurrection Sunday has to offer. May your dreams be resurrected. May your faith be resurrected. May your joy. and hope, and relationships, and all the goodness that this world tries to steal be RESURRECTED. And may all the yuck pass you over.

If you’ve actually read all the way to the bottom, thank you. I forget that I even have this blog and I do appreciate those who haven’t given up on me as a writer.

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“That’s enough.”

Lining Up On Beach

This week I took all my boys to see the movie Dunkirk. I think you have to see way more movies than I do in order to be a movie blogger, but this movie inspired me. It’s a movie written by men, for men. There is no character development and little to no relational details. Through the entire film I just kept wondering what everyone’s names were, what their background stories were, and who was waiting for them at home. The constant action and fighting completely stressed out my war-traumatized husband. It is honestly not a movie that I’d recommend to my girlfriends and I probably won’t watch it again. But… there is an exchange near the end that brought me to tears.

It’s a historical drama so I’m not spoiling anything by saying that there were survivors. When the survivors make it back to England, they go through a line where people are giving them necessities. An old man is handing out blankets (I think) as they board the train that will take them home. He says to each of them, “Thanks, lad.” One of them responds in a questioning tone with, “All we did was survive?” To which the old man responds, “That’s enough.”

Far too often we humans have a habit of expecting more of ourselves and our fellow human beings, than simply surviving. And often, survival is our greatest accomplishment.

I do believe with all that I am that we were created to THRIVE. But I don’t know a single person that escapes this life without seasons (some short and some very long) of struggle. We all spend seasons in the fire.

James 1:2-4 …when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

Notice it says, “when” and not “if”. Troubles in this life are a guarantee. Notice also that it says, “… your endurance has a chance to grow.” Do you know what endurance means?

endurance

noun
1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
2. the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other
adverse conditions; stamina:
Endurance = Surviving
One short interaction between an old man and a young soldier in Dunkirk broke me. During the years that our family sat in a furnace I beat myself up for how little I accomplished. Getting out of bed, breathing, caring for my family; took every single ounce of my energy and endurance. Relationships fell by the wayside. Career, education, and ministry goals were shelved. Anything other than keeping our family together and alive, fell to the very bottom of my priority list. My singular focus was on survival.
As we’ve walked out of the furnace into a season of thriving, I’ve continued to struggle with how little I accomplished in those four years. I’ve always set the bar high for myself and given myself little grace when I don’t reach that bar. My guess is that many of you fight that same battle. Here’s the thing, God did create us to thrive and there is no thriving without grace.
Let’s give ourselves some grace.
I invite you to embrace a bit of freedom with me. If you’ve survived your hardest days, well done.
That’s enough.

#thriveyear

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The sun set on 2016 just as I crossed the drawbridge to the island we now live on. I pulled over, took a couple of pictures with my phone, and wept. You would think by now, after 45 years of living fully and nearly 23 years as a military wife, I would have grown accustomed to the rollercoaster ride of life’s high-highs and low-lows. But no…

That last sunset of 2016 brought tears because it brought closure to a year that left me spent. I know I’m not alone. I read your Facebook posts over the last several days, I’ve seen your almost-bitter memes all over social media. 2016 wrung us all out and left us thirsting for renewal and redemption.

Hebrews 11:1 Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.

hope
noun
  1. a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.
    “he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information”

As 2015 drew to a close I knew the word I had to choose as the theme for 2016 would be “hope”. I needed hope. I longed for hope. Everywhere I turned the word kept popping up. So I chose it, or it chose me, and for 366 days we wrestled. The funny thing about hope is that even when it chooses you, you must accept it before it has the power to give you a “feeling of expectation”. For many of those 366 days I fought hard. For more than five years the majority of my expectations were met with disappointment. It is incredibly hard to be hope-full when you’ve been well-trained to be hopeless. As I watched the sun set on 2016 I wept because the fight is over and hope has won. I have faith that the things I still hope for will someday be.

In the last two weeks, as I resolved to let hope win, I had no clue what my word would be for 2017. And then it started showing up everywhere I looked. A tag on the side of a building in downtown Saint Petersburg… “Thrive”. A sign on a church near Tampa General Hospital… “Thrive”. Reading through the Psalms… “…my people will THRIVE…”, “…their children’s children will THRIVE…” and in Isaiah “They will THRIVE like watered grass…”.

And then, my Switchfoot loving daughter found this song on YouTube and played it repeatedly….

I’ll be honest. I have no clue what thriving will look like when I’ve spent such a very long time just surviving. My guess is that many of you are in the same boat. We’ve survived a hard year. Or two. Or five. But the hard is where the big, soul-cleansing, character-refining stuff happens. Me, you, us; we should be better versions of ourselves as we welcome this fresh, blank slate of a year. My best guess is this word that has chosen me isn’t just for me. In fact, I’m quite certain it isn’t. During the 366 days of wrestling with hope, I looked back through my journals and blog posts from the years leading up to these last few years of furnace dwelling and I remembered…

I thrive when I help others thrive. So, here’s your invitation…

Let’s thrive together. If you need encouragement, if you need inspiration, if you need brutal honesty, if you need hope… reach out. We’re all on this big messy, beautiful, soul-cleansing, character-refining road together. And, I have a child who requires 2-1 care around the clock. So I’m pretty much a shut-in. Seriously… message me or email me or call me if you have my number.

#thriveyear

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Cheers to thriving in 2017!

 

 

It is well.

itiswell

When Horatio Spafford wrote the classic hymn It Is Well With My Soul, his life was anything but well. He had lost his wealth, his only son, and his four daughters. As he looked out over the place in the Atlantic Ocean that had taken the lives of his daughters, he penned the words…

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

In the last week, as our family has continued with the waiting and expecting of God’s goodness in the situation with my husband’s career, countless people around us have walked through their own storms. A young neighbor had a heart attack. A friend with special needs children of her own lost her husband after a VERY short battle with cancer. A precious two-year-old girl in our Church family drowned Saturday and went fifteen minutes without oxygen. A cousin who is living here temporarily as a travel nurse spent the day in the hospital with heart issues. Another friend was forced to leave behind her one-year-old daughter to honor her military orders.

So much waiting. So much expecting. So much sorrow.

When sorrows like sea billows roll…

It is well, it is well with my soul.

2 Corinthians 4:17-18NLT  For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.