Happy Birthday

I laid in her (Meagan’s) bed at bedtime and she asked me why we didn’t have a fun birthday party for me.  We did have cake, (thanks Aunt Denise!), but that was it.  No presents this year, no big hoopla… and for those of you who know me, I am all about birthdays.  She wanted to know why no one got me presents, why we didn’t even invite anyone over and have a fun time.  She just broke my heart.

The above paragraph was written by me, 7 years ago.  My son had just been diagnosed with brain cancer.  We had been in the hospital since April 21 and were discharged on April 29, for the first time.  This was one day before my birthday.  April 30 came and went that year.  I felt blessed to have my baby boy home with all of us, even if for just a short couple of days, but I was physically and emotionally spent from the roller coaster we were thrown on less than two weeks prior.  I didn’t have the energy to celebrate my birthday with all of the happenings surrounding us.  It seemed perfectly normal to me and my husband to just put it off for a while.  To my almost 4 year old, it was devastating.

I bring this up today because as I write this, my now almost 11 year old is in the kitchen baking me a birthday cake.  Why?  Because if she didn’t, I wouldn’t have one and to her this is still very important.  To me, it is extremely painful.  I try every year to be happy on my birthday and celebrate as best I can with my daughters and my husband, but I am drowning inside.  18 days after my birthday, my son died.  My birthday and Mother’s Day fell right in the middle of the storm.  These are not happy days for me.

I don’t want a party or presents.  I don’t want to go out to eat or have cake.  I just want to hold my baby again.  People say, “Time heals all wounds.”  People who say this have not lost their child.  People say, “It will get easier.”  People who say this have not lost their child.  People say I should celebrate my birthday.  People who say this do not realize that the memory etched into my mind and heart forever of my birthday is of my son with stitches across the back of his head.  It is of my son not being able to walk, talk or eat.  It is of my son confused and in pain on our first day home from the hospital.  This is my memory of my birthday.  Making a new memory is not possible.  This was my last birthday with my son and it is forever in my mind and heart.  It is a memory of me holding him and trying to console his pains.

My daughters will celebrate.  My husband will quietly treat me like a princess.  I will cry inside.  Happy birthday for me is anything but happy.  I will sit in my rocker and pray.  I will ask God once again Why?  Why did He take MY baby?  Why do I still feel the pain as raw as I did 7 years ago?  Why can’t I have a Happy Birthday?

I do not ask God these things out of anger.  No.  I ask because I am human and I hurt.  I ask because I don’t know and I feel pain.  I probably don’t want to know.  I know I don’t need to know, but I ask anyway.  I will turn to the good book and find some verses that will bring me comfort.  I will listen to God speak to me until I can clear my head and smile for my birthday cake.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

“Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”  Psalm 30:5

“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those that are crushed in spirit. ”  Psalm 34:18

Just typing these verses out lifts my heart.  God is so good, in all circumstances.  For my birthday this year, I ask for prayers.  That is all.

Advertisements

Blessed

I am blessed.  I am blessed every single day!  Despite the stress I put on myself, there are so many blessings each and everyday that I overlook.  I need to stop doing that!  I need to embrace these blessings and thank God for them every day.  As I thought about this topic for my blog, I thought of Matthew 5, The Beatitudes.  How absolutely appropriate for our study on stress and how God can bless us through our trials!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Oh Lord, thank you!  Sometimes my spirit is not what it should be.  Sometimes I am far from you although you are right beside me.  Sometimes I forget to depend on you and that is when I feel the stress and the discouragement.  Thank you for the promise of heaven.

“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” – This I know first hand to be true.  I mourn everyday for my son, who died of brain cancer almost 7 years ago.  The comfort that my husband and I have received from God through prayer, the Bible, and church is what has brought us to today.  Thank you Lord for your comfort in our times of grief and despair.

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” – Help me Lord to be meek.  This is an area I have been working on over the past few years.  Help me be submissive and obedient and respectful, even when it is difficult.  I have faults, but with your grace, I am thankful that I am forgiven.

“Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” – Oh Lord, how I want to take the path of righteousness.  I try each day to do your will.  Sometimes I think I am successful and sometimes I fail.  I try to teach my children to take the path of righteousness.  I hope that they will embrace what I am teaching them and follow you as they grow.  Thank you Lord for your Word in the Bible to help us find our way.

“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” – Help me God to be merciful to others and not cynical.  Help me to give without question.  Help me to not let the politics of our culture influence my heart in being merciful.  Thank you God for always showing mercy and forgiveness to me.  May I extend that to others that I meet.

“Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.” – Oh Lord, to be like a child again.  To accept and have faith just because.  To pray with confidence and to believe in your heart without a doubt.  Help me to be like a child once again in my faith.  Take away the jaded thoughts and the discouraging words that creep into my mind.  Replace them with innocent prayer and a heart of love.  Thank you God for reminding me of a child’s faith through my own daughters.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” – Help me Lord to be a peacemaker wherever I go.  As a teacher in my classroom and as a mother and wife in my home.  Help me to teach others how to make good choices that reflect your love.  Thank you for guiding me in this role.  As a mother, wife and teacher, I encounter these opportunities daily.

“Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Help me God to not be afraid to speak of you.  Help me to share your Word with others so they too may know you.  Thank you for the opportunity to live in a country where I am not persecuted because of you.  Help me not to forget and to pray for those who are persecuted each day for speaking your Word.

“Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” –  Lord, if I ever find myself in a situation where I am persecuted or falsely accused for knowing you, give me the strength I need to endure and carry on for you.  Again, thank you for the country I live in and I pray for those who live this persecution each day.

Wow!  Reading and reflecting on these Beatitudes really helped me get into the mind frame for this topic.  You see, being blessed does not mean you have everything you ever wanted.  It doesn’t even mean your life is good.  It means that even when life is difficult, even in times of despair, even when you hit rock bottom, you are blessed if you have God with you.  And, isn’t that what we are all striving for?  Isn’t that where we will find peace?  The only place to find peace is in Jesus, no matter our circumstances!

When I am feeling frustrated, which is my top feeling according to my Stress Evaluation Chart, I am going to come back to The Beatitudes and read them again.  I am blessed everyday.  I am blessed because I know Jesus and he has my back!

The Great I Am

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with My victorious right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

Wow!  Doesn’t that verse just make you feel so warm inside?  When I read Isaiah 41:10, my worries just melt away!  Those few words from God just wrap around me like a giant hug from a parent after you take a big fall!  There is no better feeling in the world!

Let’s break this verse down and really examine it.

“Don’t be afraid” – God is commanding us.  Don’t is a command.  He isn’t saying, try not to be afraid.  He is saying DON’T have fear!  Just don’t even go there!  Yet, so many times we find ourselves in worry, fear, anxiety, stress, etc.  Even though God has commanded us not to.  When we fear something, we are lacking in our faith.  God will take care of us and all situations.  The situation may not turn out the way we want, but He will and He does take care of us.  However, being human, we all feel this from time to time.  Grace from God is extended and we are forgiven!

“for I am with you.”  – God is with you.  God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  He is with you, together.  You are not alone, ever!  You!  Every one of you!  Thank you God for this reminder!

“I will hold you up” – Again, God, three persons in one.  He WILL support, carry and comfort us.  Will – intention if we allow it.  God wants to hold us up.  We need to allow Him to do this. He will release our worries when He lifts us up!  Don’t you want someone to hold you?  carry you?  comfort you?  support you?  My heart is overflowing as I type these words!

“with my victorious right hand.” – God has overcome everything.  He has beaten sin.  He cannot be defeated by anyone or anything.  This is person I want next to me!  He is the one that can pull me through anything!

Stress takes on many different forms.  Work stress, parenting stress, illness, new house, new babies, new schools, new jobs, broken relationships, etc, etc.  The list can truly go on forever.  In every situation, you CAN rely on God to see you through.  Some of you reading may say, “She doesn’t know what she is talking about.  She hasn’t walked in my shoes.  She hasn’t felt my pain.”  You are right, I haven’t.  But, I have felt pain.  I have experienced the unthinkable.  And God walked beside me, carried me and brought me through to where I am today.

My family has experienced all of things mentioned above and then some.  However, we hit rock bottom when we lost our son.  Our baby boy was just 16 months old.  He was a handful of a kid.  Always getting into everything!  He was walking at 7 1/2 months and running by 10 months!  That should give you an indication that he had plans and was always on the move.  At 16 months, he came down with what we thought was stomach virus.  After a day of watching him lose his ability to walk, not eat and go into a seizure, we found out that he had brain cancer.  30 days later, at just 17 months old, my baby boy was gone.

My relationship with God at that time was superficial.  I believed in God.  I believed in Jesus.  I knew all the right answers.  But, I did not feel Him.  I did not try to feed this relationship or work at it.  I was so lost.

This loss took me and my husband on a spiritual journey.  We had no place to go but up.  We were literally drowning in grief.  We hung onto God’s outstretched hand with all the strength we had, and it wasn’t much!  We prayed together for the first time.  We questioned, we read the bible, we prayed more, we leaned on our pastor and our new church family.  We allowed God to walk beside us one step at a time.  We didn’t know where he was taking us.  We didn’t even wonder.  We just needed Him with us so that we could take our next breath, our next step, our next day.

Because of the faith we developed out of sheer desperation, we have come so far!  We have learned so much and we have started to look at life through Isaiah 41:10.  God is ALWAYS with us.  We can reach for Him anytime and He will pull us through whatever it is we are struggling with.

We have leaned on God many times since we lost our son.  And, of course, God has seen us through.  We have moved, changed jobs, had another baby, experienced illness and loss, and most recently, my husband lost part of his finger in an accident.  Through all of these struggles and stresses, we have found our blessings within them with God’s help.

We moved to a beautiful area in the valley.  Everyday, we see God in the mountains and we feel him in the breeze.  It is breathtaking!  We found a new church for our family that has welcomed us as part of the family.  We are blessed!

My youngest was born almost 5 years ago now.  There were so many emotions during my pregnancy and even the first 2 years of life.  I felt guilty having another baby after losing my son.  I felt worried if she was going to get sick also.  The feelings went on and on.  However, I turned them over to God and my almost 5 year old is a rambunctious delight!  What a blessing!

My husband’s sister experienced a life of eating disorders and many complications that went along with her condition.  She lost her battle with life last year.  Through this difficult loss and not understanding how it could all happen, I turned to God and the bible.  I may not have my answers now, but I have peace knowing that God does take care of our struggles and He supports the ones left behind while rejoicing with the ones who have gone before us.  We are blessed.

This past December, my husband lost part of his finger in a lawn mower accident.  I was terrified and he was devastated.  He is a piano player.  They were able to re-attach it and see how the healing process would work.  It has been 4 months.  It has healed well and he has had no infections at all, a miracle in itself!  However, he is not out of the woods.  He was just told that he should schedule a surgery to shorten the finger.  There is nerve damage and it did not heal aesthetically the way the doctor had hoped.  He can eliminate the pain, numbness and tingles and reshape the finger if my husband has the surgery. He is having a hard time coming to terms with this.  However, he is alive.  He has learned to play the piano with 9 fingers!  AMAZING!  And, he healed without infections.  We are truly blessed!

I guess what I am trying to say here is that regardless of your circumstance, God is with you.  He will see you through.  You just have to trust in Him and depend on Him.  Although our wishful outcomes might not be what God has planned, He is still in control and He is not letting go of us!

 

Here is how I diagram my weekly verses to help me break them down and apply them to my life.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA