You’ve been greatly missed ❤
You’ve been greatly missed ❤
Yesterday I turned 35. The day mostly went by as just another day with just a few tweaks here and there as I attempted to make it something special. My boys were confused and largely oblivious to what day it was even though they had others who were helping them prepare for it for over a week. They were also struggling with disconnect and excessive pent up energy from us having been snowed in for the last few days. I have to admit, the way they finally figured out it was my birthday was because I had a meltdown of my own about their behavior and shouted out “and even on my birthday!”. Not my proudest moment by any means, but a real one.
In a last ditch effort to salvage what was left of the day, I sent the boys off to play by themselves so I could cool down and started making myself my favorite dinner. That’s when my mom called. She helped me vent my frustrations as well as helped me remember to relax and look for the little things. She then talked to the boys to try and help them calm down a bit and focus. The day still didn’t end perfectly, but eventually the boys did finally click and they sang me “Happy Birthday” and gave me two precious birthday cards, complete with their signatures and a little message each. ❤ Then, after waiting for them to settle down again from their excitement, we settled in to play some card games and watch some Netflix together.
There was no cake, there weren’t any presents wrapped up in shiny paper and bows, and the birthday song didn’t even happen until after 11 pm… When I look back at it all though, I see what mattered most did indeed happen. My boys remembered me and I got to spend some special moments with them. It was a good birthday. ❤
The snow outside is getting deep and yet it just keeps on falling down. I haven’t seen the ground underneath it for over a month now. Definitely not something I am used to dealing with having come from a place that normally is lucky to even get a trace now and then. Thankfully though, the snow has not been the only thing piling up around here.
As a single mom with two kids (all three of us disabled or with special needs) I have had quite a bit of experience bearing a load that was never really meant to borne by one lone person. Many are the nights I have prayed quietly, sometimes with tears on my cheeks, for the comfort and help of someone to walk this journey along side me; to share the joys as well as the tears, the triumphs as well as the struggles, to simply cuddle with on a cold winter’s night while watching a movie. That blessing has not been one I’ve been granted yet, but in it’s place I see encouragement and reminders that God cares and He hears delivered to me through the kindness of strangers that come in and out of our lives. This winter, the deeper the snow gets, the more the kind strangers seem to show up.
Our first blessing came when the boys were struggling to shovel out the sidewalk at least enough to get to the mailbox safely. The snow was deep, they were struggling with focus (it’s kids in the snow… focus issues are to be expected haha ^_^ ), and their shovels were necessarily small to make them useable for the kids. Across the street from our home is a small community church. As the boys were digging their shovels in for another round after a brief snow ball fight, two young teens and their dad pulled up in front of the church with huge shovels. Long story short, I asked the teens if they would be willing to let me pay them to help shovel us out and they not only refused the money, but they have come back every single morning the snow needed to be removed again and without even knocking to alert me to their presence. I still don’t know who they are, and they still won’t accept anything in return the few times we’ve managed to catch them in action.
Another blessing was when I found out the doctor team here decided to pick up our family for Christmas. They bought both boys some really meaningful and fun gifts for under the tree and they gifted me with both necessities like the specialty laundry soap and bath soap I need due to Joshua’s allergies and simply little things to make me smile like new coffee mugs and a replacement of a beloved movie I had lost when moving to Idaho. A very moving experience to have someone care so much about my family.
Today, the stranger we encountered was a store clerk where I was attempting to trade in snow boots. Someone (from the team of doctors) saw my shoes full of holes and decided to gift me with a way to keep my feet warm and dry this winter. ❤ The gift made me cry from the gratefulness that flowed out of my heart for them. Unfortunately, the boots were not able to fit though so I went to see if they came in a bigger size. Upon getting to the store it was discovered that the only ones big enough to fit were more than I could afford, even with the trade in. The worker that was helping me look for a replacement had chatter me and my kids up about the boots so knew about them being a gift. She also caught sight of my holey shoes as well and couldn’t hide her reaction. All I could do was shrug and say that they were old. I didn’t know much else I could say in response. When she went to help ring up the bigger size and found that the difference in price was too large for me, she pretended to be accessing store coupons to help lower the price only to turn around and hand me a receipt. She paid in full for the new boots and wouldn’t even take the gift card I received for turning the smaller ones in! I admit I thanked her, but other than that I was too shocked to think so just stood there stuttering in amazement.
Then on the way home, while turning the corner where my home sits, our car got stuck in the piled up snow. As I stood there struggling to push it forward while fighting back the anxiety of being stuck in the middle of an intersection, 3 other cars pulled up and got out to help. Digging out my tires, pushing from the back, helping steer from the front… and all with smiles and words of encouragement the whole time. It took 3 adults, 3 kids (David included because he just had to be part of the action lol) and a lot of muscle power to get the car moving forward again, but they did it. They didn’t leave me stranded to figure it out by myself. A blessing that touched me deep as it was also an answer to the silent prayers I was praying on that normally quiet and lonely street while pushing against a car that refused to budge.
Being a person who values kindness in action to the point that I set up and manage a group to promote it and used to set up special events just to spread it to those who rarely see it, having the kindness come back to me like this has been overwhelming but so beautiful at the same time. So, all things considered… if the deepening snow brings out the kindest of strangers, let it snow! ❤
Our devotions started with a classic hymn entitled, “It Is Well With My Soul” by Horatio Spafford. (click here to hear it sung by Chris Rice).
When peace like a river attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
“It is well, it is well with my soul.”
Though Satan should buffet,
tho’ trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
that Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
and hath shed His own blood for my soul.
Those are the first two (of a total of four) verses written by a man who truly understood grief as well as the Lord’s ability to bring peace in the midst of suffering. Horatio, an American lawyer and Presbyterian church elder in the mid to late 1800’s, wrote these words when the boat he was traveling on, in a trip to meet up with his wife Anna, reached the spot where his daughters lost their lives in the boat trip before him. Two years after having lost their son, Horatio Jr, to scarlet fever at the tender age of 4 years, Horatio and Anna decided to take a trip to Great Britain with their 4 daughters; Annie (11 ), Maggie (9), Bessie (5), and Tanetta (2). At the last minute, Horatio was called away to deal with business that couldn’t wait so he sent his family on ahead of him.
The trip was going well for his family until the boat carrying his wife and children collided with another boat off the coast of Ireland. As the waters started to rise and the boat started to sink, his wife took their daughters to the deck, offered a prayer of trust to God, and then loaded the four precious girls onto a lifeboat. The mom eventually made it back to land safely only to learn that the lifeboat her daughters were on ran into trouble and sank… She sent word to Horatio who still hadn’t been able to take the trip by way of a simple telegram that read, “Saved alone.” Overwhelmed with grief he took the next boat available to go meet up with his wife and it was on that trip he penned the words to what would become such a classic and moving hymn.
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
– Matthew 5:4
After the tragedy, Horatio and Anna lived to have more children, another loss, more travel, and what turned into a life mission to help others in Jerusalem resulting in a God honoring legacy for the family. (Go here and here to learn more about his story). God didn’t leave Horatio and his wife drowning in grief; He didn’t let their story end in tragedy. The beautiful part? He will do the same for you as well. God has promised that in all things He will work for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28) and that he will fill us with a peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
No matter what you may be struggling with, whether it be stress, loss, heartache, failed dreams, feeling stuck in a rut, death of a cherished family member, death of a friend, painful memories of a loved one lost in the past… God invites us through His son Jesus to rest in Him (Matthew 11:28), and to cast all our cares on His strong and loving shoulders (1 Peter 5:7). Jesus’s promise to us in John 14:27 states, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” When we claim that peace and let Christ fill our hearts to overflowing, we then are able to find the courage to join Paul in saying,
“…we also rejoice in our sufferings,
because we know that suffering produces
perseverance; perseverance character; and
character, hope. And hope does not disappoint
us, because God has poured out his love into
our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Whom He has given us.”
Let us move forward into this new year with the strength, confidence, and hope that comes from knowing and trusting in Christ. Let us not allow the pain and trials we have endured to chain us to state of perpetual sadness but instead cling to Christ as we move forward, trusting Him Who can do “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20,21) and keep our eyes and hearts open to how God will bless us as we use the comfort we have received to bless and comfort others (2 Corinthians 1:3,4).
Wow, so much has happened since I last let my fingers run free on the keyboard for this blog. There have been both struggles and joys, trials and triumphs. It has definitely been chaotic, but still good overall. I let my writing take a back seat during all this and I have found that I miss it so I am back. My goal is to pick back up my writing and to try and share something new everyday on at least one of my blogs. Health may interfere with that goal but I am going to still do my best to reach it.
For the latest on my boys, check out my post on our sister blog here. That is where I will most likely post updates on them, especially if it involves updates that reference their Autism. There may be a few (or more) posts of them on here though; time will tell. 🙂
Since my faith is such a huge part of me and my life, one of the things I am going to be starting too is sharing some of my thoughts and lessons from my devotions time. That may or may not be everyday, as sometimes it’s a bit too personal for me to write out. The family devotion I shared with my kids today turned into a personal devotion as I continued to dig deeper. I found it to be especially fitting and encouraging with all that has happened in the last year both personally and in the lives of those around me. My hope is that sharing today’s devotion (found here) will help us all step forward into this new year with refreshed strength and hope. ❤