Struck Down But Not Destroyed

'Twas a dark and stormy night... well, it was the night that Hurricane Irene blew threw New England.  As lightening struck randomly outside, it seemed to have struck very specifically inside. Right through to my joints, introducing a whole new texture to the dust in our lives.

I woke up in the middle of the night to feed Polkadot, and when I tried to move, I realized I'd been struck by lightening.  At least, that's how it felt.  My joints were on fire.  The next day I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with bursitis in my right shoulder, and the other achy joints were kind of dismissed as tendonitis due to repetitive motion from dealing with a new baby...basically, it was a coincidence that they were all hurting at once.

Over the next few days, the "achy" joints became excruciatingly painful as well.  I was unable to do anything without the electrocuting pain bringing me to tears. It seemed like I was crippled over night.  It was clear, that this was more than it initially seemed.  Over the next few weeks, after many calls to the doctor, and much labwork, I have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis.  RA is a life-long autoimmune condition that has devastating potential as it damages the joints and possibly internal organs as well.

So here we are, a brand new baby (now 8 weeks old!) and 3 other kids, 2 with Autism/Adhd, posssibly Tourettes not to mention the food allergies of anaphylactic proportions!  If it didn't hurt so much, it would almost be humorous.  At some point, enough is enough.  At some point, the options are to give up completely, or to rely on the God who holds all things together...especially my joints!

It's funny what people think at times like this.  Said aloud or thought silently, they are there non-the-less... Questions.

"How could this happen?  You did not need this!  What are you going to do? How are you managing with your family? How could God let this happen?  You have enough on your plate already!"

The questions have run through my head as well, which is probably why that "look" is all I need to hear it in someone else.

It's ok though. To ask the questions, that is.  They need to be asked, after all!  Better to wonder where God is in this than to NOT wonder where he is!

And the questions don't scare me. As I said, I've thought them, and God has supplied the answers, the comfort. He's sung the songs over me at night, whispering to me in the morning.

I remember one day specifically when the lyrics of 2 songs collided beautifully in my mind.

One was Tommy Walkers, "I Have a Hope" (lyrics are listed below).  We'd sung it in church right after the pain had started. The song is one of the most uplifting songs out there, reminding me that God has a plan for me that is good (despite my circumstances) and that He can turn this darkness into light.  He is giving me a new beginning, not a painful end!

The other song was "The Voice of Truth" by Casting Crowns.  I woke up one morning to that song playing in my mind, loudly in my ears as if God were placing headphones on me!  The chorus says:

"But the Voice of truth tells me a different story
the Voice of truth says "do not be afraid!"
and the Voice of truth says "this is for My glory"
Out of all the voices calling out to me
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of truth"

The lyrics to those two songs intermixed in my mind for the next few days. As I would be thinking of how scary this is, not knowing what was happening to me, and if it would ever end, "Do not be afraid!" would remind me that "I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me.  My life's not over, a new beginning's just begun".  And then the chorus would come "I will yet praise Him, my great Redeemer. I will yet stand up and give Him glory with my Life. He takes my darkness and He turns it into light I will yet praise Him, my Lord my God."  And that would remind me that "This is for my glory" and I WILL choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth!  "Though trials may come, I have this hope!"

How's that for cool?  The God of the universe is entering my world through music, strengthening my faith, encouraging me to believe Him.  To believe that His promises are still true, regardless of my circumstances and as a matter of fact, because trials do come in this life, they are there to encourage me!  Why would God bother with promises if we never had need of them?

And finally, the big question looming out there that no one wants to ask is:  Why did He give us a surprise baby to care for  and then allow this?

That one is easy.  Polkadot is such a Joy to have here with me, and amidst the worst pain, when she smiles at me, that smile strikes straight through that pain, into my heart and reminds me that God has been so good to me!

So it has been not of my own strength, but because of His presence, His words, His body, even... that I have not been destroyed in this.

The body, our local church, has been wonderful in all this. Encouraging me, praying fervently, helping with things that I can no longer do. And the part of the body closest to me, My wonderful Mr. Incredible, has used his super-strength now for 3 weeks, being my arms to reach and lift things, my hands to open packages and containers. He's been my fingers, tying my shoes, and basically he has been my whole body, doing most everything for the kids.

I may have been struck down, but they are here to help me up.  I may have been struck down, but I have not been destroyed. As a matter of fact, in my weakness, God is making my faith strong...

2 Corinthians 12:9-10: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I HAVE A HOPE by Tommy Walker

I have a hope, I have a future
I have a destiny that is yet awaiting me
My life’s not over, a new beginning’s just begun
I have a hope, I have this hope

God has a plan, it’s not to harm me
But it’s to prosper me and to hear me when I call
He intercedes for me, working all things for my good
Though trials may come I have this hope

Chorus
I will yet praise Him, my great Redeemer
I will yet stand up and give Him glory with my life
He takes my darkness and He turns it into light
I will yet praise Him, my Lord my God

My God is for me, He’s not against me
So tell me whom then, tell me whom then shall I fear
He has prepared for me
Great works He’ll help me to complete
I have a hope, I have this hope

Goodness and mercy, they’re gonna follow me
And I’ll forever dwell in the house of my great King
No eye has ever seen all He’s preparing there for me
Though trials may come, I have this hope

Bridge
There’s still hope for me today
‘Cause the God heaven loves me

Conquering the Rain!

A few weeks ago, I watched one of the most beautiful sights unfold before my eyes.

It was a dark and stormy night.  Well, not really, but it was a rainy afternoon, which in our house can turn into a dark and stormy night pretty quick!  If you are new to my blog, you can catch up on the rain posts here and here.

On this rainy afternoon though, Sketch blew me away... and it wasn't even windy!  I had to meet him at the bus at the end of our long driveway.  So he had much farther to travel to get into the house, than when I was homeschooling him.  Plus, now I am expecting our fourth child (a surprise treasure from God, for sure!), and I simply am not able to carry him all the way in, as I had before.

So I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out how to make this work.  I decided to walk up to the bus with Sketch's frog umbrella.  He loves that frog umbrella when it is dry, and he's inside!  Not once has he used it in the rain. He always rejects it and while terrified of getting wet, he asks, "Carry?".  So I thought if he saw me use it in the rain, he'd understand that it will keep him dry too.

When he stepped off the bus, he looked at the umbrella with a smile.  I handed it to him but he didn't reach for it so I took his two hands and had him hold it.  When he seemed steady with it, I slowly released my hands.

Bigger Smile!

And he was soooo proud of himself!  He held it very tightly, and just seemed amazed at how it was keeping him dry.  He didn't go in the house when we got to our door, he kept walking around in the backyard, cute as can be...soaking up his victory!

From our back window, this is what I saw:

Isn't it beautiful?  There he is holding that umbrella as if it were the Flag, as if he were marching!  Maybe it was his victory march for conquering his rain fears :)  When I saw him walking around like that, tears came to my eyes...and granted, I am pregnant so maybe it was just the horrormones (as my friend, Kay, would call them), but really, what I was thinking about that made this picture so beautiful to me is what has happened to to get him to this place.

After the post Short, Sweet, and Silly was written, I had to take Sketch in the rain to OT.  He surprisingly didn't object to leaving the house!  He didn't want to get wet or deal with rain, but he didn't let his fears stop him! (Lesson #1) and he asked to "Carry?" which I did.  He didn't just have me simply carry him though.  When I picked him up, he wrapped his little long legs all around my waist and his little long arms all the way around my neck (almost twice!) and he clinged to me so tightly that I didn't even have to hold him!  If I let go, he was just there, unbudged!  (Lesson #2)

The next time it rained, he did the same thing. Just accepted the rain and clung to me as if his life depended on it.

And the next time, it was a Sunday and we were at church.  Mr. Incredible got to carry him this time and I got to watch Sketch cling to him in the same adorable way.

It's just intensely beautiful...because this is just what God wants us to do with our fears.  He does not want us to be held back by them, but to cling to Him through them!

Isaiah 41:10 says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Joshua 1:9 says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."

God must have been holding up Sketch under that umbrella, making the safety of His presence known to him.

And he'll do it for you too!  Do not be afraid!  And as my favorite potty training card says, "You go girl!"

Merry Christmas everyone!