Posts Tagged furnace

Faith is a Funny Thing

Anyone who has read this blog much at all knows I am frank and honest about my questions and faith. I’ve explained before that I’ve felt like God broke a major trust. After all, I trusted Him with my children’s safety and He let me down. I’ve rethought my faith, redefined faith and scratched my head a lot. But the funny thing is that just about the time I’m ready to just give it up – something happens. Today it was one of my Chinese students that got me riled up.

He asked me a question about music I think it was, and I mentioned church somewhere. That threw us into a very exciting discussion about religion in general. I learned a few points about Buddhism, and he learned a lot about Christianity. I love these types of thought-provoking discussions. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to argue and try to convince the other party of anything – let’s just think it through.

When I am in my down spots I really battle with depression and being sick of late has not helped at all. I am taking care of Chris but forgot to give myself the same careful attention. Now I’m paying for it and it just makes the load more difficult. It takes me back to trying to figure out where I am with my faith. I know I don’t believe what I used to believe – but what do I believe?

So my student tells me he is not religious at all. He thinks God is just a convenience that we create when we don’t have anywhere else to run. I was rather surprised at some of my emotions as I began the whole creation argument. Needless to say it was a great conversation! And I really enjoyed it!

But it really got me to thinking again about faith and what it really means – better yet – what it means from here. My life is far from “normal” and lacking in many ways. There’s not a “fix” that can make any aspect of it any better. But even during those dark nights of the soul where I feel like He has abandoned me – there’s that thread of hope and faith that has been evident throughout my life that won’t let me just let go. During the times where I am at my lowest and I’m wondering where He went – I still find myself running to Him rather than away. Honestly, sometimes that is very frustrating.

He does not answer every prayer with the answers we want – and I really think He does not answer all of them period. Maybe He just listens. Maybe He wants us to work it all out on our own – I’ve heard that makes us strong – not that I have any particular interest in being considered strong – Personally, I’d really rather have my answer! (smile)

I guess it is always going to come back to  choosing whether or not to trust Him in every situation. Those words can simply roll out of my mouth but in actuality they are much more difficult. Can I trust Him and continue in faith when the furnace gets hotter? What about when I get sick too – the ultimate defeat for the caregiver; can I trust Him then?

My heart stays broken – but with every little piece I will cry I’m gonna figure out how to trust Him.

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Rethinking Faith and Grace

There has been a lot happening of late but I really do plan on continuing this blog. I think I need to do it more for me sometimes and if there are any readers you are welcome to read along. Chris’ 29th birthday is coming up this week, and it feels odd. I guess somehow 30 sounds so “old” and it feels like he’s missed so much “life.” I’m still sorting through those emotions.

This last week I came across his old video camera and watched all his videos. I really thought I would kind of fall apart and not be able to handle it. But it actually had the opposite effect. I did cry a little here and there but it was a positive experience that is best summed up by saying that I helped myself remember who he was….which did make me miss him more. But that is an everyday thing really. It’s called living grief and I have mentioned it here before. I lost my son November 8, 2008 but still have his body to care for. I cannot bury him and try to make something out of life. It’s sort of like being stuck in a prison cell with no future just a past to remember.

Overall though, things are going good. He is improving and it really helps a lot. I think he is actually starting to try which helps keep me keep pushing him every single day. He is definitely communicating in his own way and that really helps too. But I’m not going to lie – I’m tired. It’s been a very long journey with no end in sight. Honestly, I gave up on one of those instantaneous miracles long ago. Guess God ran out of them just before November 2008! lol

It does seem that I am finally kind of learning how to get it together though. I’m learning to live alone and function alone for the most part. I really don’t have a social life and quite honestly most of the time when I do get out now – I am on sensory overload and just want to come back to the safety of the cave. I’m very content with that. But I did have a great experience at the last race I ran. It was just fun. It was the first tiny piece of “social activity” that I’d had in a long time. I hung around for a few minutes with some other runners and we laughed and cut up…nearly refreshing! lol — Some of them will be at the half I’m doing this Sunday so that might actually be nice!

Over the last few years I think I have really changed in a lot of different ways. But recently I’ve realized how much my theology has undergone change. I think about faith and hope differently. I see God’s protection differently than most. There have been some times when I really wanted to shake my fist at God and “cash it all in.” (for what I don’t know *smile*) But I am beginning to realize that it really isn’t His fault that my religion was faulty! lol

I’ve gone back and read Job and meditated on it a lot. Religion told him that he must have sinned or God wouldn’t punish him with all that trouble. Of course he maintained his righteousness. I can’t say that I haven’t struggled with thoughts along those lines – if God was pleased with me…with Chris… why did all this happen? Don’t really have an answer…

I’m taking a real good look at faith and what I thought it meant. I think we may have seriously missed the mark with that one. We get really caught up on the materialistic side of things and try to measure our relationship with God through natural means. If we have things we are blessed and if we don’t we are not.

While on this note – I get really upset sometimes at facebook posts. I really do understand these kinds of posts – they say things like “we were in a bad wreck to day thank God he loves us because we could have been hurt bad.” Am I to interpret that into God doesn’t love Chris? Or they will say, “God’s grace was with us today in the wreck or we could have been seriously injured.” Was God’s grace NOT with Chris that day? I always give thanks with them and keep the questions to myself – but maybe we really need to rethink the ways we use to measure God’s grace and love in our lives. It goes way past eternity you guys.

His grace is what keeps us from spending eternity as well as the present separated from Him – His love is what compels us to come to Him – it’s what held Jesus to the cross. Just like I cannot leave my son – Jesus could not leave the cross to find a more comfortable way because love held Him in that moment. He chose to stay there and yet I am guilty of trying to squirm out of anything remotely uncomfortable…rethinking grace and mercy!

Overall, I really cannot complain. Sure I miss my son deeply everyday. But there are lots of pluses from the furnace too. My daughter has become a wonderful Christian lady and mother, I have two beautiful grandchildren (want to see pictures? lol), I’m watching her and her husband take pursuing God seriously. God has provided me so much work I can barely keep up, and I am learning to keep my eyes on Him more of the time – and staying focused…even in the furnace.

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Like the Air I Breathe…

I think I am ready to write again…too many times my life seems to be a roller coaster and I avoid writing when I am on the down side. I never want to be a negative person so when the struggle gets too difficult to handle or express I just get quiet; at least on the outside. My insides are usually going a thousand miles an hour with thoughts and emotions that I am too afraid to express. But I think I have leveled out a little bit and can again begin to share my journey of faith.

Over the last few weeks I have really drawn away from everyone and everything…not that there are many people or things around to actually draw away from! lol. I even quite posting on Facebook as much. I figured if anyone wanted to know how I was they could find out without having to dig through all the trash that litters our Facebook wall. Anyway – I think a lot of that is the loneliness that chips away at my social sanity. Other than racing I really have no social life. And yet I am able to get Chris out a little more of late – when he is doing well…I was able to take him to my granddaughter’s dedication a couple of weeks ago. That was nice.

But even when I take him out there are all these emotions that go crazy. I wonder how he will react to what ever is going on around, will he sleep? Will he keep his head down or interact with others? Will he sit and drool on himself? And deep inside is the painful realization that those who meet him now – have no idea who he really is…or was. They are meeting a crippled man who has the gift of music inside – full of insightful questions and philosophical thoughts…who cannot think them or express them now. I think I sort of fear their response too…guess it’s just normal from here; but I so wish they knew the Chris I know…

And then there’s the uncertainty of how he will work with me. Here’s what I mean – he’s getting better which is good but means that as he is regaining his muscle control he decides whether he wants to help or fight me! lol. It’s a good problem to have – but I have had people walk right past me while I am trying to get him out of a vehicle with no success – and never offer to help. BUT at the same time – I have a cool neighbor who will come out if he sees us there and always help me get him out of the car. I guess there’s some of everything huh? But it makes it hard for me to get myself together to take him out.

It’s funny how we can get invites to go places. I always think they have no idea of what that looks like. They have no idea that we cannot just get in the car and go  like everyone else. I have to wrestle him in the car – which is rough by myself – but doable! Then break down the chair into smaller pieces so that I can get it all in the car. Then there is the drive – and then I have to get the pieces of the chair back out of the car and put it all back together and then hope Chris helps me when I go to get him out of the car. And of course that’s all repeated to get back home. I am always pretty glad I went – but tired when I get home. It’s difficult for me to not want to draw completely away and let everyone come to me.

So anyway – the last few weeks I have been on the down swing and drawn away. I really wanted to give up on faith. Now you understand I look at faith differently than other people. Adversity has a way of helping us understand many things in a different light. I go through times when I get angry with God – I guess for letting all this happen and for allowing my son to be taken away like this. When the struggle gets too intense I tend to shut off…I really wanted to find an “off” button so the constant pain would stop. In my frustration I wanted to give up – completely. But I have found that trying to live a life without God is like trying to breathe without air. It’s natural – and necessary for life.

So here I go once again trying to make one more day with my sanity and faith intact. Right now I feel so far away from both…and from the rest of the world. It’s like I live in a different world than everybody else. For the most part I can endure the days. But then little things happen like when I take out the trash and see someone taking an evening run through the park; and I miss the freedom that I used to take for granted. Memories of just deciding to go grab a burger (when I used to eat meat! lol), deciding to head out on a hike, or spontaneously going to see what’s on at the movie.. are only memories now. There is no spontaneity every day is mostly the same. I think it is complicated somewhat when aides do not show up as scheduled and I needed to run to the store or go for a run. These are not complaints – I’m mostly ok with the way life is right now – not like I could change it anyway I just as well be content. Unless you have been a captive of  life – you will not understand the perceived loss of freedom.

So today here is where I am – I am breathing. But with every breath I am realizing that as much as I need the air – I need Him to help me walk through this furnace. It does not matter how different I must live than others – it does not matter how long this journey lasts; I need Him.

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Discarding the Dream

I’m not even sure where to begin. For one thing, Chris has been sick with what I call the real flu! It lasted almost exactly two weeks and it was tough getting him on through it. He still is not sleeping through the nights yet. I am hoping that this will change soon! Today he emerged wonderfully. There is always the concern when he is sick that it will be a major set back – especially for the TBI patient. But he seemed to pick right up where he left off.. which wasveryencouraging for me. I’m going to start pushing him a little tomorrow – changing up our schedule a little bit. So we’ll see how we both do with it! lol…

Many times I just can’t write. I don’t know how many readers I had to begin with – or how many – if any I have left. But it seems like I am also emerging. On one hand I am so very comfortable right here in my cave. I have learned how to do virtually everything on-line and so now I have to do very little actual shopping. I like this arrangement anyway as I never have been a big fan of shopping. Occasionally I like to head out just looking around. But as a general rule – I don’t get the point. Just go to the store, get what you need and go home! (now if I could figure out how that works online I could save myself some money!  Ha!)

I started asking family and friends to watch Chris so that I could get out a little more. There is so much that a caregiver has to deal with on any given day – but one thing we do not do well is take care of ourselves. Well after more than a year and a half of having Chris home I am finally figuring out that to take care of him properly means I must take care of my needs as well. But defining my own needs is very difficult. I think as a general rule I have never been a selfish person – always thinking about the other guy. Actually I do this to a fault but I won’t go into the deep caverns of all my erroneous ways! Suffice it to say that I am just not good at finding out my own needs. And then I am even worse at asking for help! Not a good situation – but I am in the process of changing it. And I think it is helping me in two ways. One I get out more and two my soul benefits from being taken care of – even when I have to initiate it and do it myself… still working on that one though.

So many things have happened just this month. I put together an actual book of the devotions I do for caregivers. It was really done only for a project. My friend’s ministry group in Indianapolis is putting baskets in a unit of the hospital there. The baskets are to be filled with goodies for families whose children have organ transplants. So I made the book for them to put in the baskets. I have been pretty surprised at the response I have been getting. I already need to order more books…I think that’s good…just sort of mind-boggling.

I think a lot about this journey we’ve been on now for over 3 years. I think about how God has provided each step of the way. I would prefer he just healed Chris – but since He hasn’t at least I can be so thankful for His constant provision. He has been faithful even though things do not look like I want them to yet. I am working on a leadership training course and this morning in preparation I was reading about Joseph. He is someone who had to question the dreams God gave him all those years before. As he sat in slavery and then in a prison – he had to think about how the picture wasn’t quite matching the dream. I have thought a lot about Joseph during this furnace we live in…but this morning – I thought about his dad.

Joseph had shared his dreams with his family – part of what got him in trouble with his brothers – and his dad had even interpreted it for him (through gritted teeth) — What is this dream that you have had? Shall I and your mother and your brothers actually come to bow ourselves down before you to the ground? (Genesis 37:10) Jakob had to think often about that dream after he thought Joseph was dead and gone forever…but he could never just throw it away. Perhaps we throw too many dreams away because the dream doesn’t match our circumstances. The dream didn’t even match what Jakob came to think as possible. He thought it was pretty impossible just that they would bow down before Joseph – but once he thought of him as dead – it was really impossible...but not really…only in his limited mind.

I did a paper on Dwight L Moody one time when I was at Southwestern. One of his famous statements was the world has yet to see what God can do with one man who will totally yield himself to HIm. I think that fits in here because as the situation becomes more possible in our own minds and more constricting and more limiting…we end up taking our hands off of it. We discard it – and then God can work!

So for now – I’m working on getting my hands off of what God has said…waiting on Him to do His work. I wait for Him to fulfil His promises in me, about me – in Chris, about Chris  – In Ronella, about Ronella…and so on. He is faithful no matter what I see. He is working no matter how angry I get at the situation or the picture life hands me. I really cannot do anything but trust Him; partly because none of it makes any sense any more! lol! I really have no clue – and you know I hate that. I like everything in order. I like to know where the next step is leading and how long I’ll be there. Now it may be old age – or faith – or neither…but I am just learning to wait. Period….just waiting on Him. It’s a little bit uncomfortable still — but I think it’s a good place to be.

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