This Little Light of Mine

I have fond childhood memories of singing the song This Little Light of Mine. My favorite part was, “Hide it under a Bushel,” and we all shouted at the top of our lungs, “NO!” A recent devotional brought back this memory and made me think of how the song relates to my faith journey in several ways.

When Katie was a baby she looked different from most children.image (2) I thought she was adorable, but I felt the stares as people tried to figure out what was wrong with my child. One time a sales clerk even said, “Your baby looks drunk,” referring to her eyes rolling up as she struggled to focus. I was devastated, so I “hid her under a bushel,” avoiding many public outings. Because of my weakness there were failed opportunities to let her light shine. Now I don’t just think she’s adorable, I know the true beauty of her soul and her power to change lives, so I love sharing her. My hope is that this blog illuminates her light to the world.

For so long, before I allowed Katie to teach me what is important, I lived behind a veil. I tried to only shine a light on my good qualities. I hid the things that weren’t so attractive and then felt guilt for them. But through Katie I’ve learned to accept everything about myself. She could care less if someone stares at her. In God’s eyes we are all lit up and He sees every part of us…the good, the bad and the ugly. And He loves us anyway. I decided when I started writing about my life with Katie I would do so with transparency because there is beauty in our weaknesses and this beauty can help others.

Notice the words of the song…I’m going to LET it shine, not I’m going to shine it bright or I’m going to replace the blub with a more efficient one so mine is brighter for longer. Not only would that be a terrible tune, but it’s always my problem. Instead of letting God have control, instead of just sitting back and relaxing in His grace, I try to guide my own way.IMG_6180 Katie exhibits this so well, she doesn’t interfere with God, she just allows Him to work through her. We have to let go, let God, and let it shine to the world.

And when that light is shining in us we have to use it for good. It’s extremely tough to share advice with someone who may not want to hear it. But as disciples of God it is our job to help each other. We have to plant those seeds that open hearts to God. We worry too much about minding our own business. The song goes, let it shine til Jesus comes. Just imagine that day, don’t you want to be prepared and wouldn’t you want someone to help you get there if you were headed down the wrong path.

photo (4)Katie illuminates joy wherever she goes. What I used to see as doom and gloom staring, is now light kindling in others because she sets them on fire. So I still love to shout NO to hiding our magnificent light that is Jesus Christ.

Changing My Desire

IMG_6555Over the last 12 years of parenting a child with severe special needs one might think I had mastered the art of prayer, but that would be false. In fact, it is an area in my life that I experience great struggle. When I pray I often second guess what I ask of God, if He knows the plans He has for me then who am I to ask for something different. But His plan can be tough and I have a long list of requests. So what words should form my daily prayers?

Way too often I ask God for changes that would make my life easier here on earth. “God, please help Katie learn to communicate!”, “Dear Lord, if you could stop Drew’s temper tantrum, right now, that would be great!” or “Please, make that annoying person in my life a little more bearable!” and my favorite, “I need help with this crazy chocolate addiction, make it go away.” The problem with these prayers are the desires behind them. I’m too focused on what God can change in the world around me, when I should concentrate on my own heart.

Brody-War-Room-690Andy and I recently watched the movie War Room (which I highly recommend)! In the movie Elizabeth’s marriage is on the brink of divorce, but when Miss Clara teaches her how to pray, her change of heart transforms their family. We can fight our battles every second of every day, and we can waste our time trying to change things that are out of our control or we can hit the floor and use the only weapon that really works.

“To win the fight, you’ve got to have the right strategy and the right resources, because victories don’t come by accident.” Miss Clara in War Room

We have to have the desires of Jesus. When my ego is at the center of my prayer I want others to change, I’m too proud to admit that I may need some fine tuning. But if our goal in prayer is asking for help to emulate Jesus’ qualities, then God is happy to oblige. God wants us to look beyond ourselves and love like Jesus does.

“But to you who are listening I say: LOVE your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28

And that my friend takes the right kind of prayer, because our earthly egos default to the exact opposite of these words. We all need a War Room like Miss Clara’s, a place where we can adjust the desires of our heart, a place where we can talk to God and listen to His precious guidance for our daily lives.

image2 (9)But what about all those BIG miracles I ask of God? The ones for Katie to be physically spared from the disorder that takes so much from her, or those prayer requests I encounter every week asking for miraculous healings for a one year old with cancer or for God’s saving grace for a dying mother of three. I do believe in modern day miracles. Like saints who have died, but their bodies stay incorrupt. Or the two miracles in which communion hosts physically turned into bloody flesh and when they were analyzed they were scientifically linked to the heart tissue of a man from the Middle East who had been beaten in the chest…Jesus. These miracles like the ones occurring in Biblical times serve a purpose, they are gifts from God to say, “I am here even though you can’t physically see me.” So when we pray for miracles our intention has to be focused only on God’s glory, not the easing of suffering in our own life here on earth.

“It happened that there was a man full of leprosy in one of the towns where he was; and when he saw Jesus, he fell prostrate, pleaded with him, and said, ‘Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.’ Jesus stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, ‘I do will it. Be made clean.’” Luke 5:12-13

The words “Lord, if you wish” are key. My Regnum Christi devotional says those words portray the lepers true desire…he wants God more than he wants his cure. When I pray for a miracle for Katie, no matter how hard I try, my primary desire is for her to have a normal life, to eliminate her suffering and to ease the extra workload that our family experiences. I have promised God that I would claim His miracle every day for the rest of my life if He healed Katie, but God knows in my selfish flesh that I want it for us more than I want it for Him. My prayer now is that my spiritual life will mature in a way that all I want is His glory, not my own escape.

“Being self-absorbed and not accepting problems and defects is, in itself, an obstacle to being cured of them. Some lose patients in the fight because they want the cure more than they want the one who cures. … Openness to God’s time, detachment from an easy life, and total abandonment into Our Lords hands permits illness to cure the soul.” Regnum Christi

IMG_0113I believe the pain can sometimes be our miracle, it can be our healing. Katie’s suffering has changed my soul, as well as the souls of many others. It may not be the miracle I was asking for, but it’s pretty amazing. I think miracles like the healing of the leper happen to people who have soaked up every ounce of good that comes with the bad, those who seek Him above ALL else, those who want only what God wants, those willing to suffer for His glory. So as I enter my War Room and alter my desires, I pray… “Dear Lord, may my desires be your desires, may I want what you want, and may I accept what you give me with strength and dignity. Please humble me to love others the way you love me always forgiving and always looking for the good!”

My Love Hate Relationship with Christmas Photo Cards

One of my favorite things about the weeks leading up to Christmas is going to the mailbox. I love the anticipation of seeing which beautiful family photo awaits my eyes. I feel blessed by these Christmas cards filled with love and peace. But my family Christmas greeting has a bit of a secret to it…and the secret lies behind the camera. This is not a revelation to my husband and most family members, but I am an absolute crazy, mad woman when it comes to taking the photos featured on those beautiful matte finished cards. I’m talking Mommy Dearest wire hanger scene, CRAZY!image3 (9)

This past Saturday was D Day…time to take the picture, you could see the dread in Andy’s eyes. We were a little late this year so it HAD TO BE DONE THIS WEEKEND, that was the first element of pressure. The second was the sun, it was too bright in the area I had previously scouted, so I was then on a mission to find a shady spot that fit my vision. Luckily, there was still shade across the street, so we headed to my neighbors backyard. Here comes my family…three kids in outfits they hate, a special chair for Katie, bag of tricks and all. “Get out of my way, I have to beat the sun!”

Lexi, my 7 year old, is a true professional she knows to just sit and smile or mommy will start yelling, she doesn’t want to be the instigator of that, but no worries Drew, in his 4th year of life, fills that role. He isn’t old enough to understand that photo sessions are all about capturing the best shot of Katie. Bless her soul, she has no idea what I want from her, it’s as if she is saying, “Mommy I am trying, I don’t know what you want me to do.” She is just being herself, chewing on the new texture of her sweater, rocking back in forth creating a blurr on my camera screen or her eyes are rolled up. ”Andy, those eyes have to be down for the photo, put a light up toy in front of her, but pull it out quick so I can snap the shot.” And the orders are barked. “Pull her legs down, I can’t see her face, wipe the drool and it will be perfect.” But it’s not, her mouth is hanging open. “Andy, make her smile! Drew, look at the camera, Lexi, sit up straight!!!” Oh my poor family, this goes on and on for at least 30 minutes.

Throughout the photo shoot I experience so many emotions.

Katie, 1 year old, our second attempt went much better.

Katie, 1 year old, our second attempt went much better.

I think back to Katie’s first Portrait Innovations visit. It would be our first Christmas card and I wanted it to be adorable, but she didn’t get the memo. The experience was awful, we left with no photo and I sat in the car bawling afterwards. Thankfully my awesome husband encouraged me to go back and we got this gem. Now that Katie is 12 years old I think, if she were typical she would be the one getting the other two to sit still, why does it have to be so difficult?

It’s difficult because I make it that way. What is my goal? A photo that captures my children looking the exact opposite of how they do on most days? What am I trying to hide? This year’s card doesn’t show Katie’s G-tube button, her wheelchair or her communication device. It features my ego trying to live up to the, “You’ve got it all together!” comments I get because people don’t see me behind the scenes. I’m trying to cover all that up and portray my June Clever side.

WHY??? Because I want more than what God gave me. I’m too busy trying to keep up with the Jones’, my card has to be fancy, my outdoor light display must stop traffic, and my gifts need to be the best ever given. And I must RSVP yes to every holiday event, it’s all just too much. Who am I trying to impress? It’s certainly not my family because they see the wrath of all this yearning for perfection. The wrath that is the complete opposite of what God wants for me right now.

Advent is a time to reflect on Jesus’ coming again at the end of times, it’s a period of preparing so we can be ready when He comes. “Be on alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” 1 Corinthians 16:13

If He comes tomorrow will He be impressed with my beautiful lighted garland lining my stair railing? Probably not! He would likely ask me if I felt good about the way I acted during the photo shoot, was I acting like He would act? NO!! I so often put the wrong type of pressure on myself. The pressure should be focused on following God’s will not achieving some level of perfect Christmas mom status.

A friend told me the other day, that instead of going to several holiday events on Saturday she said no and her family just stayed home to decorate the tree, and it was so amazing.image2 (10) We all need a little more of this. Time to just be with the ones we love, time to focus on all the gifts we already have. In this slowing down we lessen the pressure for more and more and more. We accept that what is around us in enough…that my children are beautiful no matter what the photo shows. So maybe one day I’ll get up the nerve to send the Christmas card with the real picture, the one that shows my family how we truly are, perfectly imperfect.

The Plan

IMG_9710Both Katie and I celebrated birthdays this past week, I turned 42 and Katie 12. These ages make me feel old and bring questions about my purpose in life. Can we say midlife crisis? I’m not currently working outside the home contributing to society or to our household piggy bank, so there are days that I wonder if God wants more from me. Surely He has bigger plans than grocery lists and family meal planning.

Last year, when I started my blog I finally felt I was doing something meaningful, after all these years I was listening to what God wanted for my life. Writing has been an absolute life changer for me, I have opened old wounds and worked to reheal them in a more God centered way. But lately I just feel lost when I try to write. I worry that my words have no direction and that my posts are more like groundhog day simply repeating the same thing over and over. I criticize what I type and think if it were better I would have a million subscribers by now. Then yesterday I was reading my daily devotional Regnum Christi.

“Christ singles out each one of us for a particular mission in life. We might think of many people around us- educated, wise, learned people- who would surely be better suited for the calling at hand, who could do a far better job than we could. However, Christ isn’t looking for the cleverest person, the one with the quickest wit, or the one with the best education. Many times He scrutinizes the corners of the globe for the soul that is innocent, open to His plan,, and willing to carry it out.”                   Regnum Christi 12/1/15

Ok, I hear you God, loud and clear! I so often get confused about God’s plan for me, I think it should be big…huge…some cure cancer mission, but that’s just my ego. I want something outrageous so I can pat myself on the back, with my million subscribers cheering me on.

“Simplicity and humility are the key words when it comes to being chosen by God to participate more actively in his plan of redemption.” Regnum Christi 12/1/15

While I’m worrying about saving the world God says simplify…work locally for now. But so often it’s difficult to know if we are on the right track. I know He knows the plans He has for me, but I haven’t received the nicely typed letter outlining my instructions.

“True Knowledge of Christ and of God is revealed to those who learn to quiet their souls in prayer.” Regnum Christi 12/1/15

So my big fat mouth gets in the way? Who knew? I talk to God alot about my plan and how I want Him to help me, but I don’t listen enough. When I look past myself and stop questioning the words God gives me to type, when I forget about me and listen to God, He always shows me a better plan.IMG_9759 (1) Just like in my struggles to be the best mommy to Katie. Acceptance of her disabilities was not easy because it wasn’t a part of MY plan. But once I stepped out of my small mindedness I saw her for who she was, God’s precious messenger.

“God asks us to be like the Old Testament Prophets, planting seeds of redemption that may not sprout for years. We, like the prophets, aren’t always given the grace to see the entire picture.”             Regnum Christi 12/1/15

Less is more, simple is better. I think God is telling me to keep doing what I’m doing because if just one person is touched by Katie’s story, it matters. He doesn’t call each of us to fame and noterity for our contributions, but He does call each of to do our part and to me that means using my gifts and my struggles to share His great love.

To the Neonatologist that shattered my world

She was still so frail at 20 days old. She weighed only 3 pounds, wires lined her face and she slept most of the time. nicuI had my concerns, but I still had so much hope for a normal life. When the neonatologist made his rounds I said, “Katie is not taking a bottle like the other babies, I’m beginning to worry”. I fully expected him to say, “Don’t worry, your baby is perfectly healthy.” But the words that fell from his mouth shattered my world.

“I think your daughter has a neurological condition, she will likely go home on a feeding tube and oxygen. But you are a smart lady, YOU WILL BE FINE.” He was so matter of fact, as if his words weren’t cutting through me like a knife. I couldn’t speak, I could barley breathe, I was in complete shock. During the following weeks it was my mission to prove him wrong, as if his words determined the future. I would interrogate every nurse wanting to know their opinion, some agreed with the doctor others did not, but they all said SHE IS GOING TO BE FINE.

Those words again. What did FINE mean? Back then it meant playing hide and seek, the pitter patter of tiny feet running through my house, cheerios thrown by the handful to the floor…it meant things would be the way I had always imagined they would be. His words destroyed that because I was not FINE with oxygen or a feeding tube or whatever else came with the neurological condition he so willingly threw our way.

nicuThe unknown nearly drove me crazy. All the genetic testing results were FINE. For at least 8 months we lived that FINE roller coaster. The words “She is going to be FINE” came at me like bullets from a gun…EVERYONE said it because truly they didn’t know what else to say. But guess what? Katie is FINE, I am FINE, and my perfect little family is FINE.

So to the Neonatologist I would say, “Thank you! Thank you for your honesty and for respecting me enough to tell me I was going to be FINE. You didn’t know her prognosis for sure, you could have beat around he bush and ordered more tests or told me to wait and see, but you simply said what had to be said.” And to the “brand-spanking-new-first-time-mommy-me” I would define the word FINE.

20141019-DSC_0416Today FINE means loving my daughter for exactly who she is.  FINE means really bad seizures, tube feedings, IEP’s, and fear. But it also means success with a new communication device, bright smiles and happy days. You see, FINE is knowing that no matter what happens in life God has you in the palm of His hand. FINE means Katie is exactly who God wanted her to be, a pure and sinless soul who brings people closer to Him. In this world our plan is not always the plan God has for us. His FINE is so much better, so much richer…His FINE is perfect.

 

Her Contagious Smile

I find it very ironic, I prayed for so many years for Katie to be healed, but now I find myself praying to be more like her. IMG_6710 - Copy Her smile says it all, I long for that simple, pure joy. Happiness that comes from just being alive, a mind that it not clouded with the things of this world. She teaches me every day about true happiness.

My favorite moments in life come from the smile on my children’s faces. At a young age, Lexi and Drew have lost a bit of that innocence, smiles don’t come as easily from simple actions. But for Katie all it takes sometimes is my face. When she gets off the bus after school I kiss her and look closely into her eyes, then the corners of her mouth shoot straight up to her ears. So simple!

My mind is filled with too many things of this world…all the ways I could be better, the activities that would be more fun than what I’m doing right now, the vacation spot that would be perfectly relaxing, or just the fear I get from watching a newscast. Katie doesn’t know about all of that, and while I try to protect my other two children, there is no sheltering them from wanting more. Since moving my family to a remote island with no TV or outside influence isn’t an option, how do I get more of that innocence and better yet, how do I instill it in my two youngest children?

“Joy is a consistent attitude of peace, confidence, and satisfaction within you because you know a loving God is at work, we don’t produce it, GOD does.” The Power of a Positive Mom by Karol Ladd

image3 (6)Katie is so lucky because her heart remains so pure and under Gods complete control. I have to remind myself every day, hand it over to God…let Him lead the way. It is a constant battle for each and every one of us to keep our eyes on God and to turn away from the things of this world. I think it has to start with simple things, like what we fill our free time with, the more we inundate our minds with God the more control He has over our hearts. It’s so easy to look around and see all the things we don’t have, all the material things that we think will make us happy. But God says it so plain and simple.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieve do not break in and steal. For where treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21

IMG_6180When we die the stuff we have will not be coming with us, none of it will matter at all. The things of this world can only bring us temporary happiness because at any moment it can all be gone. Even the people in our lives cannot be the source of our happiness, because we all die. But when our joy is rooted in just being a child of God, happiness is automatic because that cannot be taken away. That is what is so special about Katie…she brings joy, she brings peace, she brings love because worldly things don’t filter God, He shines through so brightly.

You Need To Sit Down

These words of advice have been calling out to me for days now. Last week, they came from my priest when I finally went to talk to him. IMG_9146 I grumbled, “I just don’t get it, my youngest went to five day a week preschool this year, there is no one home but me for several hours every day. I thought I would have so much time, but instead I am just running in circles trying to accomplish a million tasks never giving anything the full attention it needs. I can’t even write my blog! When I try to string thoughts together too many things flood my mind… I type, delete and then just stare at a blank screen.”

He looked me square in the eye and said, “Girl, you need to sit down! Take time for yourself, take time to listen to God! You’re role as a mommy has been redefined a bit, you need time to figure it out.” But how? There is too much to do to sit down. The dishwasher has to be unloaded, and reloaded from the morning disaster, Katie’s prescriptions need to be renewed, doctor’s appointments have to be scheduled, research needs to be done for several issues Katie is having, and then there is that daily trip to the grocery store…the next thing you know it is 12:30, time to shove lunch in my mouth and head to carpool.

But he was right, I had to find time to refocus myself, what is my new role in the quietness of my home. I was so used to the constant movement of three kids this summer that I got lost in silence. Not what I was expecting! But unfortunately my mind doesn’t know how to stop, it constantly races with all that needs to be done. That’s it!! An Ah Ha moment…what really needs to be done? Does the house really need to be perfect, does my to-do list have to be filled with check marks or is life much simpler? IMG_9213 (1) I sometimes miss the beautiful moments, the moments of interacting with others. I’m in too big of a rush to actually listen to what my child needs, “Sorry honey we will talk later, we can’t be late for school.” Or I just look right through the nice lady in the grocery store who may have needed my help, I’m too focused on my list…always the list, that darn list!!

When I stop, take time to “sit down” and clear my mind I can hear God and He often says, “Just Love!” Everyday life presents opportunities to either show God’s love or not. IMG_9216 To stop and listen to Lexi or rush her along as if her words don’t matter. I can hook Katie up to her tube feeding with a thankful heart because she gets the nutrition she needs or I can gripe because it’s just not fair. I can yell at Drew to stop jumping on the couch or I can sit him down, patiently explain the dangers of his actions and thank God for his ability to jump. When I make my choices based on God’s will my life is way more peaceful.

God’s expectations are so much different than our own. Like in the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus visited the sisters and while Martha rushed to get a meal ready and make everything perfect, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and just listened. This angered Martha, but Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” HELLO!!! My name should have been Martha!

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So as my role as mommy changes a bit I have a choice…I can strive for an earthy perfection that will never be enough or I can “sit down” and listen to what God has planned for me. It’s a daily struggle, but on more days I am making the right choices. The choices that lead to more love, more beauty and more peace.

“For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.” Psalm 37:7

 

Silent Messenger

Some memories are fuzzy like, “What did I have for breakfast today?”, while others are etched in my brain as if they happened yesterday. image2 (9)One of the latter occurred just days after a doctor told us Katie had neurological impairment and would go home on a feeding tube and oxygen. I was on the phone with my sister and I said, “I can handle a lot of things, but I don’t think I can do this if she can’t talk.”

The thought of Katie never talking was more than I could handle because I couldn’t imagine a real relationship with someone who couldn’t talk…how would I know what she needed?, how would we “get” each other?, how would I know her favorite color or what she liked to do? And what about all the dreams I had for her?, how would she make her mark on this earth? I think the reason this memory is so etched in my brain is because I now know how very wrong I was to second guess God’s perfect plan for Katie’s life.

Katie has said so much in her silent 11 years. She changes lives every day and two of the most beautiful examples are developing before my eyes. Our precious nieces Allie and Jodie are both examples of Katie’s “mark”. At a very young age both Allie and Jodie saw the value in Katie’s life, they didn’t see her as disabled, Katie was just their awesome cousin.

Jodie started volunteering in the Special Education classroom in elementary school and continued through middle school. She says she wants to be a Special Ed teacher. On Jodie’s 11th birthday instead of receiving gifts from her friends she asked for donations to an Early Intervention center Katie attended. And this summer I was brought to tears when she spent two weeks volunteering at a Special Needs camp.IMG_0604 Instead of lying by the pool at home, she was tube feeding kids, taking them on inner tube rides and giving them an amazing experience. Focusing on other people and putting your own needs second is one of the most valuable lessons in life, I think Jodie learned this from Katie.

I will never forget the day Allie held Katie for the first time, her eyes and smile were so wide. They have always had a deep love for each other. Katie adores Allie and smiles whenever she is around. Allie wrote papers in elementary and high school about how her cousin had changed her life. She is now entering her senior year of college where she is studying to be a Speech Therapist.image5 Allie has a way of seeing past what makes someone different, she knows that who a person is makes them important, I think Katie helped teach her that important life lesson.

These two precious examples are just a few I get to witness being Katie’s mom. So when I look back on that day 11 ½ years ago I smile and actually giggle a bit at how naive I was. How could I have been so blind, so blind to the fact that God has got this?

“For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

image3 (8)His plan is so much greater than anything we can imagine. I am reminded daily that when life just doesn’t make sense and we can’t imagine something good coming from such tragedy, we have to trust in the Lord. What may appear broken to our human eyes is actually God’s silent messenger bringing lessons that words just can’t teach.

This Too Shall Pass

The sky turns a shade of dark grey, the wind begins to blow. I can hear the deep sounds of thunder rolling in the distance. The large drops of rain start slowly and a bolt of lightning flashes in the sky. Boom…the thunder is now on top of me and by now the rain is pouring, dime size hail is pounding while leaves and debris swirl in the air.

Photo courtesy playbizz.com

Photo courtesy playbizz.com

After a short time, the rain stops and the clouds open to a beautiful sun which leads to a perfect rainbow.

We often refer to Katie’s “tough” days as mini storms. One minute all is well with the world and the next, not so much. Days when she cries uncontrollably all day and we have no idea why, or when she absolutely refuses to take one step, when her stomach is just too unsettled to keep anything down, or when she goes weeks without eating a bite of food by mouth. You see, the problem is she can’t tell me what is wrong, it is a complete guessing game. These days overwhelm me, because she is enduring pain and I don’t know how to fix it, it is my job to fix it…these days make me want to crawl into a storm shelter. But the thought that gets me through is…This Too Shall Pass.

“The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:2

Just as those summer storms come and go her bad days always end. IMG_6090I know they are only temporary because for 11 ½ years we have endured every storm and on the other side is always a rainbow. When the problem she has been enduring ends I literally feel the weight lifted off my shoulders. The relief is so intense and the thanksgiving to God is abundant.

This past weekend we decided to take the kids to a nearby waterpark. I instantly started worrying about how Katie would do for an entire day out in the sun. Would she get too hot? Would she be able to go down a waterslide? How will her tube feedings go? I decided it would all work out just fine, but then my precious mother offered to watch Katie and after thinking it through we decided to leave her with Nonna. Then I felt guilty going on a fun family day without her. I felt sad that she has to miss so many fun things in life. But then I realized…This Life Too Shall Pass.

This life is only temporary and it pales in comparison to the next. The most amazing, most incredible day we can imagine here on earth is nothing like the Glory of God in heaven. So what if she misses a day at the waterpark! One day she will have so much more than all the waterparks in the world. I was brought to tears picturing the day I will see her in heaven. She will be dancing with two perfect legs to her favorite song Tooty Ta, using her beautiful voice to sing at the top of her lungs and when she sees me she will stop, smile ear to ear and run to me with open arms and she will say “I love you Mommy”. I absolutely cannot wait for that moment.

image (12)“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

In the storms of life we have to stay focused on the light at the end of the tunnel, the light that is God. If we rely on Him and Him alone He will be our storm shelter.

It Can Always Be Worse

A long time ago someone very wise told me that if I sat in a huge circle with all the people I knew and put everyone’s problems in the middle I would gladly take my own from the pile. Very early in Katie’s life that theory rang loud and clear.nicu She was only 4 days old and I was released from the hospital, we had to leave our tiny baby hooked to a million wires and go home. I couldn’t think of anything worse. How can I leave my baby here, I’m supposed to be rocking her in her bedroom tonight. And then as we went to visit Katie before leaving, the NICU was closed…one of the precious babies, half Katie’s size, had died. In comparison to what this poor family had to endure my troubles were nothing.

This has become a coping mechanism of mine. When life seems to be knocking me down before I can even stand up, it helps to know I am not alone. Everyone has problems and it may seem cruel to cling to the thought that someone else has got it worse, but I think this is how God helps me put my life into perspective. When we stay focused on our own situation we can drown in self-pity, but when we look outside, our sympathy can be put to better use.

“Bear one another’s burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

Another example occurred just last week, I was upset because Katie has just not been feeling great this summer. We were in the middle of a mini storm…she was sleeping a lot more than usual, very agitated all the time, refusing to eat anything by mouth and that day she had hurled buckets in the car. There was vomit in every crevasse of her car seat. Yes, so gross! I was in a very ill mood, to say the least. Then Andy told me his story of the day, he had called 911! What? As he was leaving a hospital for work an older couple was trying to walk to their car, the man fell and hit his head really hard, and the wife was so upset because he had just had hip surgery. In that moment, it hit me, that poor couple was probably feeling 10 times the hopelessness that I was. It snapped me out of my pity party and I asked God to bless them. My problems were not so bad anymore.

God equips each of us for our own trials not our neighbor’s trial. When you think about someone else’s problems they can seem impossible, “That poor older lady, I can’t imagine not being able to take care of my husband, and after the months it probably took for him to heal from surgery and he may be right back in the hospital, she must feel hopeless!”. But God has given her what she needs to deal with this trial in her life, and it is so for each and every one of us.

“Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

FullSizeRenderHis love is ALWAYS enough. The trials in life are not fair, so we think. But when we look at it from God’s perspective maybe they are blessings. God wants us to turn to Him during our trials, not to rely on the things of this earth. He doesn’t want us to take the easy way out just to escape our pain, instead He wants us to bring that pain to Him and rely on His love to get us through. And when we do this our relationship becomes stronger and He pours grace over us. There is no doubt that my life with Katie has brought me closer to God, I could not take care of her without His constant power.

We often see people who go through tragedies turn their pain into a way to help others. John Walsh comes to mind, his son Adam was kidnapped and he dedicated the rest of his life to searching for missing children. On a much smaller scale this is what I hope to do with my blog, if I can use some of our trials to show others they are not alone, I feel better.

God always turns pain into good if we follow His will. When we look back on our lives we can see the times He was preparing us for our trials. He was teaching us to endure pain, but also image1 (9)training us to transform it into His good. So when things get tough I try to look outside and count the many blessings on the inside. With His guidance I have turned my biggest struggle into my amazing purpose in life.