Doesn’t Need Sleep

Let me start this by saying that I love my children. Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a passionate parent and bend over backwards to nurture and tend the hearts of my kids.

That being said, parenting gets exhausting. It truly does. And to be quite honest, I don’t always want to take care of my children, especially my youngest son. For anyone who has read my other blog, http://www.mamamarchauna.blogspot.com, the journey through the desert that started with my son’s birth has been incredibly difficult. And I am very tired.

Let me explain; my son arrived at the end of a very difficult labor, that came at the end of a very difficult pregnancy. I was so exhausted when he was born, I collapsed on the bed, physically unable to hold my son for almost thirty minutes after his arrival. Little did I know, as I gazed into the precious face of this (not so) little blessing (he weighed over ten pounds and was almost two feet long), what the next two years would hold.

My son has lots of health challenges. Diagnosed very early with Cerebral Palsy, anxiety, Sensory Processing Disorder, reflux, swallowing difficulties, and developmental delays, his life has been neither easy nor comfortable. He really struggles with sleeping. Basically, he can’t sleep on his own. The therapist understands why, but I can’t explain it well.

This morning, after a week of dealing with his additional needs following the removal of his tonsils, I really didn’t want to take care of him. I really didn’t want to. I just wanted to sleep. Honestly, I waited as long as I could to respond to his requests for help; I rolled over and tried to pretend like he wasn’t pulling on me. And in those few moments, as I cried out to God for help, confessing my lack of desire to care for my son, I was reminded of the character of my God, and how He will never leave me or forsake me (Hebrews 13:5).

Actually, God says, in Isaiah 49, that even though a nursing mother could forget the child at her breast , He will never forget us. Indeed, He has engraved His children on the palms of His hands. Isaiah 49:15, 16. In Psalm 121, the psalmist writes that “He who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Psalm 121:3, 4 NIV.

Psalm 86:15 says that God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 

Psalm 91 says that “he who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust.” Ps 91:1, 2 NKJV.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 is another example of God’s love and care, as is Psalm 23. The passages describing God’s faithfulness are woven through out Scripture. It paints an amazing picture of dedication. One that goes far beyond what I am capable of.

And that is very comforting. God never tires of caring for us, regardless of what messes we get ourselves into. He has infinite patience, and grace, as well as infinite wisdom. He always responds to us exactly the way we need to be responded to, always. I am not like that. In spite of my best efforts, I get impatient with my children. I lose my temper. I even yell at them, though I’m ashamed to admit it. I am selfish. Sometimes I just want to have a minute to myself, to do what I want to do because I want to do it, and not because I need to do or because it is good for my children or anything.  I am not like God. I grow weary.

Isaiah 40:28 says, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.”  NAS

What a blessing to know that the God of the universe isn’t like me. He never gets weary. He never gets tired. He doesn’t even need sleep. Wow. Knowing He is always there to catch me when I fall gives me the grace I need to keep going.

Can you relate? Do you get weary? Do you get tired? Have you seen God meet you in your desperation and give you the strength to go on? If so, I’d love to hear your story! And if not, please let me know so I can pray for you.

   
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Bringing Beauty Out of Ashes

Lately I’ve been contemplating the passage in Isaiah 61 where God describes bringing beauty out of ashes. Not sure how I got started reading that chapter, or what prompted the memory, but as I contemplate those precious words, God is helping me recognize how He is at work, fulfilling that promise, all around me.

The first example is my dad. He served in Vietnam in the 60s, before meeting my mother. His tour of duty included convoy escorts, MP duty, and sitting behind a machine gun on a helicopter. He saw hundreds of buddies die during his months in country, and came home with a ticking time bomb in his mind. Almost twenty years later, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder reared its ugly head. At the time, few people (including my father) understood what was going on. Over the next several years, he suffered the loss of a very successful job, my childhood home, most of his friends, and almost all of his self esteem. It was only by the grace of God that my dad didn’t end his life, an option he contemplated on multiple occasions. 

Fast forward many years, to 2010, when my father attended a Bridges-to-Healing conference in Washington State. Not only did he hear about a biblical response to PTSD, but his survival and defiance of the odds was celebrated by the Cru Military staff sponsoring the event. That experience changed my father’s life. And, when the traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall came to our city, my father not only visited (with all of us in tow), but he was able to do so in peace. Image

 

My father’s healing is complete, and God is bringing beauty out of the ashes of his suffering by giving him the opportunity to invest in the lives of other combat veterans who are still suffering the affects of their service to our country. He is actually a member of the Men’s Ministry team at his church, where they are launching a Bridges-to-Healing movement in November, just before Veteran’s Day.

God is also bringing beauty out of the ashes of my mother’s heartache. Not only has she stayed married to a combat veteran suffering with PTSD, but she has suffered the loss of a child; my sister died from complications related to Diabetes ten years ago. This spring, a woman who lost her daughter to pneumonia sought my mother out, for comfort and help in dealing with such a devastating loss. They’ve been meeting regularly to process the agony only a grieving parent can feel. God is bringing beauty out of ashes. Another mother may be joining them in coming weeks; her daughter was tragically killed in a car accident. She was only 15.

My eighteen year old daughter is struggling to trust God will bring beauty out of the ashes of her dashed hopes and dreams. Since childhood, my daughter has dreamed of entering the Main Reading Room of the Library of Congress. Thanks to some very generous gifts, we were able to book two flights to Washington D.C. We got home the day before the House caved in on the budget and debt ceiling. My daughter spent a week in the nation’s capitol while everything was shut down (we bought non-refundable tickets, and didn’t get insurance) and missed seeing the Library of Congress by one day. It was heartbreaking; she spent part of one whole day fighting tears. I was sick to my stomach.

Sometimes we don’t know what God will do with the ashes of our hopes and dreams. We can’t see how He will bring beauty out of something so ugly and broken. Yet, in His own way, He always does. Romans 8:28 says that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purpose. But we often forget to include Romans 8:29. That verse says that those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son (italics added). Ultimately, no matter what else happens, followers of Jesus can count on God bringing beauty out of ashes, and whatever happens being used to make us more like Jesus. That, all by itself, is beautiful.