Monday, October 28, 2013

Our Provider

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17

My friend Anita Haines shared this testimony on her Facebook timeline yesterday. It spoke to me deeply, right where I'm at today and with her permission, I'm sharing it here with you. 

"I was reminded last night of the precious names of God as I traveled the prayer walk during our Relax & Reclaim Women's Event at Cypress. We were encouraged to prayerfully walk through stations around the sanctuary where posters were candlelit revealing a specific name of God along with a verse of scripture. I could have claimed any one of the names of God to fill a current need in my life right now.
Each one spoke softly to me.
Each one brought me comfort.
But as I slowly made my way around the sanctuary my heart started beating faster and stronger with each new candlelit station. I knew in my heart the specific name I was searching for more than any other. Today as I reflect, I smile to think it’s just like God to make me wait for it. I think He wanted to remind me first of all He is, does and has done for me.
As I approached the very last station my heart was racing and my emotions won over and the tears welled up in my eyes and quietly rolled down my cheeks. And of course, feeling like I have to appear to have it all together I caught the tears and tried to hide the affect it all had on me.

Why do we women feel like we have to be super heroes all the time?

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” ~ 1 Timothy 6:17 I stood there quietly in front of the name "Jehovah-Jireh" ~ God is my Provider.
Not a new name of God to me by any means. He has shown Himself over and over through his provisions for me, for my husband, for my children and for our family. The Lord has always provided and at times and in circumstances that seemed so dismal to us. As I stood there, thinking over our current reality I realized it's not about what we do, what we have, or at times not have. It's not the job that gives the paycheck or lack thereof. I found comfort last night with this reminder.
No matter what our circumstances are at any given time God is our Provider so I can take a deep breath and rest assured that He’s got us covered. Last night I left that holy place feeling comforted and assured, thankful that He led me there.
God always has a way of doing just that doesn’t He?

Today as I sorted through the mail my eyes fell upon something that caused my heart to begin to beat fast. As I opened and started to read the letter I got that sick in the gut feeling like the rug was just swept out from under me. You know that feeling… like the one that makes it hard to take a deep breath, the one that keeps you awake at night or makes you want to crawl into a ball and cry or maybe even scream at the top on your lungs? My thoughts quickly go back to last night and the reassurance I found in “Jehovah-Jireh”.
God knew I was going to open this letter today so He met me last night to prepare me. He reminds me that HE is my provider regardless of the words on a page and I know I truly do believe that. I’ve seen it before in much worse situations. But man oh man is it hard to take that deep breath at times and just let go of the fear and to just TRUST. “He's got this” is what I keep repeating in my head tonight. It's not my job to worry about it and I'm walking in total disobedience when I do so.
Anyone else know what I mean or been there?

Scripture tells me, "Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” ~ Matthew 6:26. So tonight I am choosing to trust.
I’m choosing to believe.
I’m really really really trying hard to choose to not worry.
I’m taking that deep breath and asking the Lord to show Himself and His goodness to me and to us in our reality in a really big way. I’m choosing to put my hope in Him and I’m choosing to enjoy His rich provisions for me.
I’m choosing to believe that He is MY God… MY Jehovah-Jireh… MY Provider"

~~With a Courageous Heart, 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The In-Between

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." - Matthew 11:28

"I am done. Done! I can't do this anymore. I can't take it any. more."
Those words had been crouched in my head waiting to spring for weeks. And today, they finally flew out of my mouth in one great heated rush. My poor husband was on the other end of the phone, and thankfully, he received my anger and frustration with the grace of someone who loves me deeply.

My weekly trip with Mom to the oncologist's office had gone anything but well and it was only compounded by the meeting the day before with another of her doctors.
Too much. Too much to process. Too much to comprehend. Too much to plan for. My tank was on empty and my brain just hurt from taking it all in.
I had stepped outside to breathe and call my husband. As he listened to the silence that followed my outburst, I looked around me at the gorgeous patches of blue sky peeking through a mostly overcast day. There were gorgeous colors in the turning leaves on the trees around me and the random thought that this would be Mom's last Autumn stepped right on my heart.

Selfish. You're being selfish Robin, stop it. I couldn't prevent those words from pushing into my thoughts and I immediately felt guilty for these emotions that were so unwelcome that day.
And in spite of the guilt I felt, I was still. just. so. angry.

Angry at the doctors.
Angry at the overcast sky.
Angry for the for the interruption of my life.
Angry at my Mom.
Angry for her diagnosis.
Angry at myself for being angry.
Angry at cancer.
Angry and frustrated and beyond tired and just overwhelmed.
And so weary that I just wanted to sit down on the bench there in front of the doctor's office and cry until I couldn't cry anymore.

I'd naively thought that losing my Dad two years ago would have prepared me emotionally for my Mom's diagnosis. But that was so different.
Dad was gone in just 19 days. Hardly any time to even think about what was coming.
And with the exception of the big hole he left in our lives, there were no major life altering changes for any of us. 
Everything about my Mom's illness and diagnosis has invaded the not-so-ordered days of our lives. It's taken over how we view everything and plan everything and live each day.
And I resent it.
There. I said it.
And that's why I feel guilty, and selfish and angry.

This is the in-between.
The time between life and death.
The time that we plan and wait and plan and wait some more.
The time that passes by at an agonizing crawl and with lightning speed at the same time.
Too much and not nearly enough.
It's the 'too much' that drives my resentment. Too much time to think about it, to deal with it, to have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not being able to see the place I can rest. 

This no-man's land of waiting is testing me like nothing else ever.
I cling to my faith and cry out to Jesus and pour out my heart in my journal and to my husband and a few select friends who I don't think will judge me but just love me in spite of my weakness.
And I hate where I am because I know that at the end of it, my Mom will be gone and I will be alone.
Alone on this earth with no one who shares my whole history anymore.
She is the only one left who has been there since the beginning and it hurts so much to know that she will be removed from me, if even for a little while.  
This is the 'not nearly enough'.
And it's entirely selfish and raw.
But it's the truth of my right here and now.

And even though I know the other truth, the truth of her outcome, that she will be pain free and cancer free and healed and whole in Heaven, waiting for me, it still hurts.
And I fight this pain with all the faith I can muster.

Thankfully, Jesus is holding on tight to me right now. Because there is no way - NO Way - that I could be taking this journey without Him. Without the hope we have in Him.
He gives me courage and permission to feel and cry and pray and scream at the sky and into the phone because He has been there and has felt it too.
He took it all on Himself when He hung on that cross for me.

Who does that? 

The God of the universe who loves me and tells me to come to him for rest.
To lay my burdens at His feet in exchange for His strength and grace and peace.

So as I see the patches of blue sky and the rainbow of Autumn all around me, I breathe.
I see the evidence of Him in all of His creation and know that He is greater than my anger.
Greater than my frustration, my resentment, my hurt, my despair and my loneliness.
And He is carrying me through the in-between.

With a Courageous Heart,

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Last Wednesday night, I sat in our car and held my not so baby girl as she wept on my shoulder.
What had started out as a fun ride home from skating practice turned into a melt-down of epic proportions by the time we pulled into our home.

All the pressures of the past few months were finally catching up with her and even her way more mature than almost 16 composure couldn't hold back the tsunami that crashed in on her that night.

You see, my Mother is dying.
Her Grandmother is dying.
She has Leukemia. And Congestive Heart Failure. And Diabetes. And a host of other issues, but it hit our family in the face like a harsh Winter wind earlier this year. Now, as we face the end, my girl is learning just how much life can hurt. It's not easy having to draw on adult emotions that at almost 16 are so difficult to understand. 

And my precious girl is a 'stuffer'.
Of the true Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about that tomorrow" breed.
She pushes any negative, any stress down deep in her soul to deal with 'later'.
Then tomorrow becomes tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow, until it all catches up with her, in an explosion that Mt. Vesuvius could envy.
Sometimes anger.
Sometimes self-righteousness.
Sometimes horrible grief, in great gasping sobs that take her so by surprise that she cries all the harder because of them.

All I can do is just hold her tight and love her and let the storm pass.

Last Wednesday night, my Mom's illness hit close to home for her as we were talking with excitement about her upcoming Homecoming Dance and her special date.
In an awful window of reality, she's realized that Mom most likely will not be around to see her in her prom dress, pass her Senior Moves test, or graduate high-school or college. She will not witness her wedding day, will not hold her babies and love them the way she loves my girl. And she will miss all the little moments of her life that mean so much to her.

What hurts me the most is that all I can do is just hold her and let her cry it out.
I have no answers for her. No words of wisdom that can make this better.
Because it's the truth.

Some people say they wish they knew the future, but I disagree.
It's times like this when we can mentally fast forward to events that are likely part of the plan for our lives and see the missing pieces, that I'm sure I don't want more of a birds-eye view of tomorrow.
What's known always hurts more than the unknown. 

With one bright exception.

The one thing we do have to hold on to when life hurts us so bad is the bedrock of our faith in Jesus Christ and the future glory we have to look forward to.

Romans 5:1-5 says this:
"Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith
we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. 
Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege 
where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,  
for we know that they help us develop endurance.  
And endurance develops strength of character, 
and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  
And this hope will not lead to disappointment
For we know how dearly God loves us, 
because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love."

God's word is so full of amazing promises, but none so rich as these which promise that even in our trials, we have hope. 


A confident hope. 
A hope that will not lead to disappointment. 

Because in Christ, we are sure that our tomorrow has been claimed for us. 
Bought by Him with the price of His life in exchange for ours. 
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners." 
- Romans 5:8

He sent His only son to die to claim the future that we can't earn on our own. 

So even though I have nothing but a Mother's love to offer my daughter, the One who loves her more than I ever could hope or imagine offers her everything. 
The knowledge that even though the hours lost here on earth will hurt her deeply, that pain is nothing in comparison to the beautiful eternity she is promised with Christ Jesus and her loved ones who go before her. 

That's the tomorrow that I long for. 

With a Courageous Heart,