Friday, September 27, 2013

Faithful Friday: No Words

I posted a sentence yesterday on social media that came to me, after talking to someone who is (and has been) going through an extremely difficult year. 

"The true test of our faith isn't when life is good, 
it's when life is falling apart and we're on our knees."  

Little did I know that moments later I would be on my own knees.  
A crumpled mess on the floor, praying incomprehensibly.

"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should,  but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words."  Romans 8:26

On my lunch hour, and reading my Bible, I see a call come in from Tim.  We often check in on each other's day, so no other thought came to mind when I answered hello. Knowing my impending reaction, he did an amazing job staying calm while talking to me.  I don't remember much about the conversation other than the scary bits which stood out, shook me to the core, and brought uncontrollable sobs from within me.

"on my way to pick up Noah"
                                                      "with school nurse"
                                                                                            "lost consciousness"

Tim tried to console me, assuring me Noah was alert and ok, and that he'd call me back.  All I know is that in those moments I was pulled straight to five years ago.  Flashbacks that haven't attacked me for some time came flooding through.  

This season is all too familiar with painful memories.  Though I love fall, the changing trees are a signal that November is around the corner.  Of reliving the unimaginable.  Of life spiraling.

Noah's looks have changed as he's grown, matured.  He is one year from the age Austin was when we lost him.  So many similarities just in the physical sense.  

In other ways too, like how even as teenagers they'd both flock to babies.  

Austin with Allen - Oct 2008
Noah with Rae - Aug 2013
Walking beside Noah and holding his arm to stabilize him at the doctor, more flashes and glimpses.  Noah's face was flushed, his cheek with streaks of red.  ...that face, heart wrenching memories.

His body language spoke volumes, hands shaking from the unknown, heart racing, timid steps.  Noah was scared and I was reminded to push all my pain and nightmares to the side, to help calm him.  Mom couldn't crumple.  Mom could only comfort and pray.  And dispatch prayers from loyal warriors on the ready with the sending of a text.  

For what seemed an eternity later, the answer was somewhat consoling, though full details are still uncertain.  What we think happened, is that Noah hit his knee in the booth at lunch, sending a pain signal so severe that caused him to faint.  We've had some conflicting stories from students who witnessed his fall, which only causes this momma to worry more, but I'm trying to give it to God.

There's no real explanation for why these things happen, and to most it would probably be just an interesting story to share.  For this family, who has lived the unimaginable, it hit a little too close to home.  It was yet another reminder of our longing for the Home in which pain will no longer be a factor.  Where fear is no more.

"In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at his reflection in a poor mirror; but someday we are going to see him in his completeness, face-to-face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now." 1 Corinthians 13:12(TLB)
And that's the only comfort I can share with a handful of families who've been in my constant prayers this year.  There's no explanation for why they are going through the tumultuous season they are.  I can't say why bad things happen to good people.  I only know that in those moments when you feel God is turning against you, when you're angry, when you can't make sense of life, He is never closer.  He has never stopped loving you.  And He ultimately wants only the best for you.  His timing just sometimes can't be explained in this world.  

Whatever you're facing, it is temporary, difficult as it may be.  
It may feel like never-ending pain.
Yearn for the eternal.  Lean on Him.  He will hold you through this storm...


Friday, September 20, 2013

Faithful Friday: Loving Others

God's timing often amuses me.  In his infinite wisdom, He set in motion a project for me that would need a lot of time, focus, and commitment at the end of the year.  From now through December, I'll be deep into the planning and execution of three major events at our church, all the while also recruiting a team of volunteers for 2014.

Ironic that I'll also be jobless around the same time?

I think not. 

Rewind many months ago, to me sitting in the office with my pastor.  After having the extreme honor of being asked to lead a new ministry at the church, I was there to say yes and discover the next steps. 

Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?            Then said I, Here am I; send me.”  Isaiah 6:8

With his help, I would begin building a mission-focused group of volunteers to be known as the Loving team.  This group will oversee all of the outreach from our church.  It will combine several of our current projects, but we'll also be in prayer about God's plan for our future.

Amid the chaos of the summer, this is what has kept me grounded.  This is where I've counted my blessings.  The Loving team allows my spiritual giftedness, as well as experience and background, to be used by and for God. 

I stepped away from missions the year we lost Austin.  Actually, about two months before, when something told me to decline coming back.  While we've helped in certain projects and events at the church, I yearned to do more.  I'm beyond thrilled to lead missions as a whole for our church.  There's no better feeling that to be on task for God and feel him leading you.

"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

And what better way to keep me from dwelling on a temporary glitch in my life
 than to stay busy helping others.  Something we should do daily anyway, 
but what JOY it brings me to have a purposeful project this season -as well as the year to come!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Grandma's Table

Growing up, the dining room table was the gathering place at my Grandma's house.

It didn't matter that there normally was delicious food of some kind she wanted to feed you, it's just where we lingered.  Where family was.  Sometimes the room would be so full, there'd be two to a chair, elbows rubbing, laughter overflowing.

Often, as young kids we'd get booted from the chairs to sit under the strong oak table and play amongst the legs of adults, or we'd crawl to the nearby hall. At times we would "spy" on their conversations, as if swapping fishing stories or the ribbings during a Rook game were anything for us to hear.

As an adult, I treasured visits with my grandparents and savored their undivided attention.  We'd chat about everything and sit in silence watching the birds over a glass of sweet tea.  As they aged and health problems grew, I'd bring them treats and even meals to keep Grandma from having to cook.  And they'd enjoy them with me at the table.

But in her better days, could she ever cook.  Home-grown, fried with love, good Grandma cooking.  The kind I've never been able to duplicate, even with the help of her hand written recipes.  How I long to sit at Grandma's table and savor fresh bass dipped in ketchup, her famous wine chicken, or ooey-gooey eggplant Parmesan.  The only dish I've somewhat mastered is Grandpa stew and this cooler weather certainly has me longing for a steamy bowl!

All these memories are stirring within my stomach - and my soul - after lunch with family today.  Grandma's sister, Mary, and Grandpa's sister's children, whom we rarely see, along with my mom and her siblings took up the back half of a local diner.  Plates of meat and three passed around, with room saved for a homemade Italian cream cake, brought with permission.  Watching these familiar but aged faces, comfort of family falling so easily into place, I was reminded of days gone by. 

More than the meals of my childhood, I miss the familiar.  I miss the regular gathering of that side of the family, as our grandparents were the central magnet that brought and kept us all together.  I miss Grandma and Grandpa and all that they were.  But I'm thankful for the moments and memories I can now hold dear.

And I'll joyfully await our next family gathering, already planned before we parted. Until October...

Friday, September 13, 2013

faithful friday: leaving a legacy

I read a beautiful obituary this morning of a woman's 85 years on this earth about her lessons learned and taught in this life.

She was an example of how to make the most of our days here and to leave a lasting legacy.  Shouldn't we all live each moment with the hope that we're making an impact in the here and now that will be remembered fondly.  But, most importantly, we should strive to make an eternal difference.

The only obituary I've ever penned, yet never imagined doing, was of my son and his beautiful but short life here.

Timothy Austin Blair, a beloved son and brother, died on Saturday night, November 29, 2008, near his home.

Austin left a legacy in his 14 short years on this earth. He will always be remembered for his compassion for others, his loving spirit, and for having the heart of a volunteer. Austin was a freshman at Ohio County High School, where he loved to be with his friends, to learn new things, and to volunteer.

He was a member of OCHS Band, OC Drug Free, Youth Advisory Council, and donated his time at the animal shelter, the library, and was selected to shadow in ER at Ohio County Hospital.

He followed the passions of his parents, raising money for Relay For Life and by becoming a Jr Firefighter for Beaver Dam Fire & Rescue. Austin was a member of Beaver Dam Baptist church and proud to be a Christian. He loved all sports, especially baseball, starting at the early age of 3. He was currently in training for MMA Wrestling.

Austin is survived by his loving parents, Tim and Heather Blair of Beaver Dam and by his little brother, Noah.

Austin, too, was an example of how we should live each day.  He lived his life with purpose and accomplished so much in such little time.  His passion was helping others.  And what hugs my heart is that he continues to make a difference.  Austin's story and his legacy has continued to touch others, to heal broken hearts, and to restore families.  Most proudly, his story has brought others closer to God. I'll gladly live the rest of my days following his footsteps and striving for a fraction of his legacy. 

I would imagine our Heavenly Father's wish for any obituary to be simply...

"They told others about Jesus and loved them like He does."

Friday, September 6, 2013

Faithful Friday: New Attitude

When life is less than lovely and then a peace comes, do we ever see it in the moment?  From the point where you can't breathe to normal, can we notice the switch?

I don't know that I ever recognize the transformation as it happens, but I do try to gratefully appreciate the change once I realize it.  In the peace, I look back and am thankful for the relief. 

Perhaps peace comes with the passing of time.  Reflection, prayer, processing.

  Maybe...the long, holiday weekend on the water. 
Rest for the body, as well as the soul.

Or, it could be the chopping off of my hair.  A physical symbolism of starting this next phase of my life anew.  Doubtful, but I did leave the salon with a new attitude!

All those things may help ease stress, but I know where my peace comes from.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. 
Not as the world gives do I give to you. 
Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." John 14:27

But beyond just surviving the storm, I work to learn from it.  What was God showing me in those moments when I was weak, incapable, and frustrated?  Who did I turn to or lean on when life was swirling out of control?

Summer 13' was anything but what I imagined or dreamed it to be.  Yet, as the end of the season came, the only pressing upon me was the sweltering heat.  All summer long the weather has been beautiful and bearable, life had been anything but.  In the end, the weather was miserably hot and oppressive but life was going to be ok.  Whatever outcome the future held, I was at peace.  Despite a week or two of weakness, I'd finally given it God.  Whatever will be, will be...

So the question now is, "What do I want to be when I grow up?"
Or rather, what does God want me to be?

Prayers appreciated for direction, discernment, and devotion to God as I navigate through this new chapter.  With each step, I'll continue to see the JOY in the journey.

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