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. ❤
Have to admit, I can’t sleep and here I am up on my own and I don’t know what to do with myself. lol Yep, the boys actually went down for me a couple hours ago. Had to keep putting them back in bed over and over and over… (you get the idea lol ) but I got them down. And here I am… still wide awake! Go figure right? haha
Life has really been changing a LOT for me lately. So many new things, so many mind blowing blessings. I have my struggles still too of course, but they truly seem like nothing when held up against all the blessings that have been coming through for me and my family in these last few months.
A compassionate and knowledgeable doctor and medical team that is able to help us with all our health needs.
A local community of Autism families, where the boys and I can go and just be ourselves, quirks and all, without judgement.
The local library even welcomed my kids with open arms. Even with David getting into the books on hold section, running off repeatedly, and repeatedly forgetting to keep quiet. THAT’s something pretty special right there. lol
And now we even have a church that welcomes us. I have longed for that for so very long. And the children’s minister proved yesterday that my boys really were welcome, wanted, and understood. She had asked me if there was anything David really liked so I mentioned his obsession with trains. When we showed up for church, she showed up with a box of trains and tracks, brought in specifically for David to play with. And she didn’t even bat an eye when he lost control with excitement and started flapping and spinning and shouting his happiness. ^_^
There is so much more than even what I’ve listed here, and I couldn’t be more grateful to the One behind it all. As my sons learned in church yesterday, “Being rich is not about money or possessions. To be truly rich is to be rich in the blessings that are less tangible: love, family, friendship, and most of all Jesus.” I wholeheartedly agree with that. To the world I may look poor and broken, but in His eyes I am precious and priceless and my life is truly richly blessed. ❤
A friend of mine recently pointed me to a site where I could listen and watch church services on-line from a trusted church. With my memory and distractibility and everything going on, I ended up putting it off at first and then accidentally forgetting about it until I came across my note last night. I’ve watched a couple of the sermons through the night, and they both resonated deeply with me. One was simply encouraging. Powerful encouragement paired with helpful and wise advice. The second was encouraging and helpful too, but in a way that I feel requires more of a committed response out of me than just a prayer of thanks and a simple share telling others to watch. It really hit home on an issue that is so broad yet so personal at the same time; and so important for me and all of us.
One of my favorite parts comes towards the end. To get the full weight of it, you need the whole talk, but it really hit home for me when he chose to wrap it up by talking about Christ on the cross. Especially when he started talking about looking at Christ on the cross and remembering it was our sins that put him there. Not so we would feel guilty or ashamed, but so that we would be reminded that Christ was on that cross, with all our sins, so that He could pay the price for them and offer us freedom and forgiveness. But in order to see, remember, and embrace that message… we first have to admit it applies to us because we’ve screwed up. We have to admit we’re not perfect, that we don’t have it all under control, that we have messed up and have done so often.
We are fence breakers. We have poison in our life from all the snake bites. We even have poison from snake bites that were caused by someone else breaking a fence. But we also have hope and forgiveness. We have grace and healing and a fresh start in Christ. Let us never forget that part. Let us also never take advantage of it.
Please take the time to watch and listen to this sermon, “Snakes and Fences”. It’s pretty powerful truth. ❤
Although a few years back, it still can seem like just yesterday that I started this journey. A journey of trying to reach out and make a difference not only for my son, but also for others like him. As the years passed my vision and passion grew, but sadly my health weakened. I couldn’t take the physical strain of running what DogForDavid was becoming, but I also didn’t have the heart to let go of it and the impact it was making. As I have frequently said since the beginning, if all my effort amounted to was one person with a change of heart and new eyes to see past the labels and disabilities, than it was worth it.
By God’s sweet grace and provision, I have been blessed to be able to do much more than that over the years and reach much farther than I could have ever dreamed possible when I started out. Still, my dreams always seemed to be held back… they always had that ceiling to them that I couldn’t penetrate no matter how hard I tried. And the harder I tried, the worse my health plummeted until it got to the point where I had to give up. The beautiful part though is that when I finally found the strength to let go, to let my dreams seemingly fall flat and lie motionless in the dirt as life forced me to turn my focus to other things, those very same dreams started to come alive. It was slow at first, and felt quite dormant for a while even, but it was in my willingness to finally lay them down and accept that the door was closed that I discovered the key I had been searching for all this time.
After having taken the needed time to deal with my health issues and regain some stability, I started timidly reaching for those dreams again. Slowly picking them up, sorting out the pieces, brushing away the sand and dirt… Upon discovering my health was still too weak to put them back together myself, I decided to reach out just one more time. One more attempt to light a fire that would catch in others’ hearts and minds as well. One more extension of voice and heart asking for help in keeping it alive.
DogForDavid has now become Stripes and Puzzle Pieces and is seeing a growth spurt that I could only imagine about before. I stuck my foot out on the ledge, reached out my hands, and closed my eyes in earnest and heartfelt prayer and the result has been both exciting and humbling for me. A lot of things have changed and yes, some of the changes were hard for me to accept at first (namely having to put the dream of David’s service dog on hold indefinitely), but overall I stand in awe of what God is doing with the dream He planted firmly in my heart around David’s 4th birthday. A dream to make a difference. A dream to help others see what I could see… a child first and foremost. A child who struggles with a disability or condition, but who is not defined by it. A human being with hopes, dreams, joys, and fears just like the rest of us. Someone who both needs and deserves just as much love, acceptance, compassion, and respect as the rest of us.
Starting with David, and branching out from there as the DogForDavid world allowed more and more lives to touch mine and stake their claim in my heart, I wanted to make a difference for them. A difference that would truly mean something, one that would truly help them and their families. Just as a fire in nature can be as beautiful as it is devastating, so can it promote new beginnings and fresh starts after it has run it’s course. I have found the same to be true when dealing with a fire in the heart. My passion and fire shown brightly for a while before my health turned the tide. But under all these ashes and soot, new life is springing up through faithful volunteers and fresh new faces and opportunities and those precious dreams are finally starting to come to fruition. I may not be leading the charge anymore, but my heart couldn’t be more grateful or more at peace with what’s happening.
After a near emergency with my health last night, our personal Easter celebratiions are going to be delayed a day or two. We still have the baskets that the boys were given and packages from their aunt, but I don’t have enough health to spare today to play games with them, hide eggs and help them hunt, or cook a special meal for them.
Times like this make me struggle with having to face the reality of having such real and sometimes serious health problems. But today, even though things are not going as planned, I still rejoice because the meaning behind this holiday for my family at least is one that calls for celebration even if all I can do is sit on the couch with the boys and cuddle while reading stories or watching movies.
I pray and hope that this day finds you all blessed and happy, no matter how you celebrate it. ❤