Tuesday, August 31, 2010

So many thoughts have been flitting through my mind; thoughts that I have wanted to share here. The problem is they kept going.
Usually I can hold onto the thoughts or, on occasion, jot down a few words to jog my memory later on. Not now. No time.
It seems that everything is flitting by. Time is flying by. I feel like every moment is filled with something that needs tending. I am on call and I do get called; called by my honey, called by doctors' offices, called by workers' compensation, etc. I have never enjoyed the phone and now I like it even less!

Have I mentioned that I like to ease into my day and not have to rush into anything. I do not think Papa designed me to be busy all the time. Actually, I don't think any of us were made that way. However, I, moreso than some, need lots of room to breath. I like to think all kinds of thoughts, give them time to grow and have the time to reflect.

Right now that isn't happening.

It is what it is. This I know and do remind myself often. Accept what you cannot change girl!
Everything is temporary. This is good to remember also. Change will come!
It never hurts to keep these facts in focus, but there are richer truths to hang onto.

As I continued my study in First Corinthians the fifteenth chapter I was reminded that a life lived for God is never lived in vain. Even though this place I find myself in is not very comfortable, it is worthwhile! Anything done under the tuteluge of His Holy Spirit is worth doing!
I was also encouraged and comforted by the truth that death does not have, nor is, the final word. Something I need to hang onto as the reality of Sara's death sinks into my heart and mind.
Finally, in my reading, I was stirred by the thought to live under the influence of love with gusto and determination. He is my influence and by His power I can and will live as fully as possible, for His Glory!

Why? Well, as the thirty-second chapter, the fortieth verse of Jeremiah proclaims; He loves me!
Oh my Jesus, You love me so much! May I embrace that love and offer it back to You!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Thursday morning in response to second Corinthians, chapter four, verses sixteen through eighteen, I wrote the following in my journal:
"In light of eternity, which holds the "weight of glory" these trials are brief and light. If both the trials and the glory were put on scales the trials would hold no weight at all."
Three days later, do I feel the same way? I do.
Oh, my heart is broken and throughout my day tears come suddenly. Pictures appear in my mind's eye. Pictures I will never forget; pictures that wrench my heart.

Sara's cousins, which included three of my sons, looking so solemn, lifting Sara's coffin; each with one hand across their chest, carrying it to the hearse.
Sara at three months old laying on our bed that was covered with numerous baby blankets, being posed for the camera that Uncle Ray held.
The line of family and friends at the gravesite placing a flower on top of the coffin, with the last one being my sister, Sara's mother, Chris. She placed her flower and then she bowed forward with both her hands on her precious daughter's casket. Bowed down with grief, a sob escaping her lips.
Sara's garden filled with black-eyed Susan's. Did I ever tell her that they are not only my favorite flower, but also my grandmother's, her great-grandmother's?

If I did not believe and know that my God keeps His promises and that He is loving, the grief would be too much to bear. The greatest comfort is that it is not up to me to find the strength, but just to look to Him. He is all I or anyone else needs and He waits for us to turn to Him. He promises never to leave or forsake His own.

Friday night I had the opportunity to share my thoughts. I had anticipated saying something on Saturday and planned to write my thoughts down that night, but the way opened and Papa sent me forth. What a joy to be able to rely upon Him for the words.
I do not know all I said, but do know it was from my heart and Papa's.

My beautiful niece is an amazing woman. I speak in the present because she has not ceased to exist, but has just changed her residency. I do know that I told those in attendance that I was there to celebrate her life.
Our cherished family members and friends are around us day in and day out. We rarely stop to truly reflect on all they are. Certainly we have cause to pause at particular moments, but not often enough!
As I reflect on Sara, I realize that one of her gifts was that she envisioned a future for everyone who crossed her path. Whether it was one of her students, a friend or a family member she was always encouraging them and us to stretch and be all we could be. She saw everyone as individuals. I believe that her husband, Tim, would agree. She has been his cheerleader since day one.

A number of others spoke also, including a teacher whose class was one where Sara student taught. She is a gifted teacher and demonstrated that on her third day with him!

I have this thought of Sara as the mother hen of our family. She was always brooding over one or another, concerned that each one would be making the right choices. Over the years she had expressed concern or approval over whoever her cousins were dating. She had recently told our son Jonathan that his girlfriend was a keeper and he'd have to answer to her if he messed the relationship up!
Even a few days before she left us, as she laid in her hospital bed, she expressed concern for one of her cousins to his mother. She wanted her aunt to just check things out to make sure he was making good choices!

Yes, there is a big hole in my heart. Not only over the loss of such a vibrant, talented, caring, young woman, but for my sister. It is my heart's longing that she come to experience Papa not only as her Redeemer and Comforter, but as her friend. Papa give my beloved sister a glimpse of the "weight of glory" and I know that this terrible trial will be lightened in time.

On the Reynolds' home front we face a week of doctor appointments and setting up of outpatient physical therapy. We go to a doctor tomorrow armed with a list of questions. We need to decide which PT facility will benefit Ray the most. It is between Gaylord, which we know is wonderful and ACCESS. The latter is located next to Kaynor Tech and would certainly be more convenient.

My honey is a bit worn out after this weekend, but still is gaining strength. I cannot remember if I reported that he moved all his fingers on his left hand! We have many quesitons for the doctor regarding this hand and arm.

Ray's presence at the funeral encouraged many. One after another came up to him to express their joy at how well he is recovering.
It is our desire to encourage all we meet along the way.
Today, as I read the first thirty-four verses in the fifteenth chapter of First Corinthinians, I prayed that my LORD would make sure that no one in my life would be able to say that they "had no knowledge of Christ."
Many told me that they were given hope through my words on Friday night. I hope so, as I desire to be His fragrance bearer wherever I go and His fragrance is exquisite!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Two days, two very full days, down...one to go...and then....
Papa alone knows.
He has carried us thus far and isn't about to drop us now.
Yes, carrying everyone of us, without any fanfare, simply with grace.
He has such style.
I, for one, am so very privileged to have been given the gift to be able to see His Hand.
There has been so much evidence.

Wednesday was a day of planning; so many details. Who could I ask to stay with Ray all day Thursday so I could be with my sisters?
An offer came via the phone before I could ask the question! Papa had it in hand.
Surprisingly, Matthew had no work for Friday, so he was available to stay home with his dad. Matt commented that Papa is obviously handling his schedule. :)

Two big details taken care of with no effort on my part. So I could relax, right?
Not so easy when one discovers on Thursday morning that a couple of prescriptions needed renewing and refilling immediately. How'd I miss these important details? Easily, unfortunately.
The challenge was to find someone who would write them. Our appointment is Monday. No doctor is willing to write anything without seeing the patient first. The medication had been prescribed by the doctor at Glendale. It took a couple of calls to the facility to get someone to agree to issue these necessary scripts.

As I was trying to tie up all the loose ends, my husband needed attention too. For the first time I felt a little annoyed with all the attention he was needing.

I was scheduled to take the 12:30 ferry and my departure time was nearing.
My stress level was high. I think the underlying problem was that I felt like I was doing a poor job of taking care of my sweetie's needs.

The ride to the ferry with a dear friend helped me decompress and then a little talk with Papa settled me back down.

Since disembarking the ferry it has felt surreal at times. What were we doing at a funeral home? Where was Sara? That can't be her in that coffin!
That night we spent at the funeral home; it was the first night of the wake. About seven hundred people came through.
Papa, of course, was in attendance.
So much love. Such a gift. Family. Friends, many just like family. Sara's colleagues, former students and their parents, all had been impacted by her.
So many memories, good memories. Numerous poster boards covered with pictures.
Relationships renewed; healing and forgiveness were in evidence.
At one point I realized that Papa had lifted a very old hurt from my heart, something that I hadn't thought of in a long time, and replaced it with love for the individual. A love that stirs a desire to have this person in my life.
Believe me, this is a very big deal!

Tomorrow is the funeral. It will be a long and difficult day. There will be many long and difficult days to follow for all whose lives were interwoven with Sara's. My sister has lost her only child and best friend. She will need to be held close.
Sara's husband, Tim, has not come to anything, but instead has isolated himself. He has cheated himself out of the love and strength that was waiting for him. I believe he thinks he is not worthy to receive any of it. Though no one has been able to reach him, I know Papa can. He alone knows how to reach this hurting man.

Tonight Matt packed his father into the car, picked his older brother, Eric, up at the airport, drove to the Bridgeport ferry and has now arrived at his brother Jonathan's place. Jon's apartment is amazingly equipped with a stair chair!! This makes it the most logical place for Ray to stay. He had to come, Sara was the apple of his eye.

Papa has blessed Ray and I with wonderful sons. We regularly thank Him!

Though tomorrow will deepen our grief in some ways, I know that the God of all comfort will carry us through. May all avail themselves of all He offers!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This pilgrimage deeper into the Kingdom is like no other!
I love to read and a favorite book of mine is "Pilgrim's Progress." One of the messages of the book is that everything we encounter on our journey to the Holy City can be used to strengthen and bless us.
According to Brennan Manning this journey is one that is filled with promise, possiblities and discovery. I concur!
The promise of Heaven! No matter what valleys or mountains this adventure leads me to, I can be certain of the final outcome. Now that is the best promise we could ever receive! Praise God!
The possiblities are vast. How much do I want to experience of what He would like to show me? There lies the limits - I get as much as I really want.
Oh, and the discoveries! It is Papa that I get to discover more about along the way.
If I so choose.
His Word is one place to make discoveries. I am constantly amazed as I come across something "new." I have been studying this book for over thirty years, cover to cover, and still am making discoveries. Papa loves to use His Word to speak to my heart.
This morning I was reading a section of the first epistle to the Corinthians. I had to stop when I came to verse twenty-six in the twelfth chapter. "And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it."
My life has been an interesting one. There have been many challenges throughout. Papa has always had people in my life to come alongside me. Being part of the "body" has been such a good thing.
Never have I experienced such a time where so many have come alongside in such a heartfelt way. I know that I and my family are carried daily in many hearts and prayers. The God of all comfort has been evident in so many dear ones. I am humbled by such tenderness, such love. All I can do is bow before my Savior and worship. If I were to stop short of giving Him the glory, I would be cheating my God out of what He deserves and cheating myself out of the joy of more of Him. For He inhabits the praises of His people. Such grace!!

I will be heading to NY tomorrow morning to be with my sisters and their families. We bury Sara on Saturday. That sounds so odd to say.
My sons will be pallbearers. That sounds very odd too.
It is a great comfort to know that we will be held closely in heart and in prayer.
To Him be all the glory!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Peace like a river attendeth my way...

Papa has given me His peace. All the turmoil washed away as His peace flooded my soul.

My precious niece is gone from this life.
Shortly before Sara died, my sister Patti encouraged her to look to Jesus and go into His arms.
She went.

"Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away."
That's from the thirty-fifth chapter of Isaiah, the tenth verse.

I am glad because I know who my God is. He is the supplier of joy.
Do I and will I grieve? Oh yes.
We were not designed to experience death; this separation is an unnatural one.
But I do not grieve as one without hope.
He is my hope. A sure hope.

Oh Papa may all my family look to You and receive this hope, the gladness and joy, that only comes from You!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

"Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning."
That's what David says in the thirtieth Psalm.

I believe it.
I know it is true and have experienced it.
It is just very hard at the moment.
The night is dark.
The weeping has turned to groaning at the moment.

My husband is so limited. There are so many consequences from that wretched accident that he is having to endure.
I woke this morning to the steady sound of rain fall. Lovely.
Ray couldn't hear it.
I sat and read the Sunday paper.
Ray's vision is so impaired that it is a chore to try reading anything.
Enough said.

My niece is failing quickly. Her mother is falling apart. The family is a mess. There is no one to speak of spiritual things; no one to proclaim hope.
It is breaking my heart that I cannot be there. Oh Papa!! I know Your heart is breaking too. Please help them to sense Your Presense! May they know You as the God of all Comfort that You are!

I do not want to struggle against these restraints that my God has allowed. Yet, I do. I am ever grateful that He loves me just as well, even as I wrestle within these confines.
All Praise to His Name!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Homecoming

I get by with a little help from my friends....

Over the years the question has often been asked of me as to how I continue to keep going no matter what challenge comes my way. My answer has always been, "the LORD"; He has carried me through one adventure after another.
That is the truth. He is faithful. His love is constant. As I, or anyone else, looks to Him for strength and help, we are never met with disappointment.
Now how is it that I, or anyone else, can keep looking to Him?
I do believe that faith is a gift from Him.
But there is more to it.
He has called us to be a community; His body.

Unlike those who penned my opening line the help I get from my friends comes in words; words of encouragement and understanding and more importantly words directed to the Father on my behalf.

Take today. Please! Oh right, it is almost over, too late to do anything with the day, but put it to bed. What a relief.
I am emotionally and physically exhausted.

Shortly after ten this morning I arrived at Glendale to bring my honey home. I had already done a number of tasks at home and errands around town before I ever pulled up to the facility. I was feeling good; in control.

Ray was just about ready to go out the door. He still needed to get his leg brace on, so I proceeded to help him with it. I discovered that it was coming apart. There was no stability for Ray's ankle and foot.
Actually two days ago I had found a metal piece on his floor and put it on the dresser, as I had no idea where it belonged.
Now I knew.
The PT came in and was surprised by this discovery. Hadn't they been putting it on him each morning?
Oh well, I would contact the supplier once we arrived home. This contact would reveal that they do not make house calls, so Monday I need to get it to them!

Check out entailed many instructions. This included a long list of medications and when to administer them, along with instructions to have blood work done weekly. Then there were the appointments to make and the people who would be calling to set up appointments to see us at home.

The feeling of control was wavering.

It would be alright. We just needed to get home.

Our friend James was meeting us there to help Ray into the house, but hadn't arrived by the time we pulled in. My beloved did not understand why I wanted to wait for James.
I encouraged him to stay put while I opened the door to the house.
Oh sure.
When I returned to the car he was getting out and trying to stand up. Ray insisted on heading to the house. However, he was not steady on his feet and the gravel did not help!
We finally reached the first step to the sidewalk and discovered that apart from my husband being wobbling we also had to deal with his left foot's inability to lift up and over the step thanks to the malfunctioning brace!
I thought we were going to tumble into the bushes and if we had continued our course, I am sure that we would have done just that!
Just then James pulled up. He nearly had to carry Ray to the front door, up the stairs and into the living room. Poor guy! I hope his back is alright!

After a short visit James departed and we were alone.
Ray was sitting comfortably, so I headed down the hall for a moment. At that point, it seems that he decided he needed to go see our porch. That is when I heard the crash!
He didn't make it. Not only that but he cut his nose and mangled his glasses. He is on coumadin, so I had to make sure that the bleeding stopped.

I cannot get him up by myself, but did bring a stepstool over to him to use as he tried to get up on his own. It has rubber feet and is very stable.
Well, he did it! Bravo!! It took some manuevering, but in time he was, indeed, up.
I was...I have no idea what I was, besides wanting to run away.

There were no more falls for the rest of the day, of which I am very grateful! In part that is due to the delivery of a wheelchair, which meant he could be comfortably mobile.
The facility hadn't ordered one until I questioned them yesterday.
He has been in a chair, apart from walking during PT this whole time. Was it realistic to expect him to be able to handle walking everywhere from now on? They hadn't thought of that!
Our experience simply underscored how right I was. Not very satisfying.

I certainly understand his need to be independent, however, I wish he understood my concerns as well.

There were a couple of other challenges to this day, but I will forego giving any details. Let's just say, that the fact that I am not a nurse on purpose does not seem to matter!!

So what does this have to do with the help I get from my friends and, of course, my gracious God?
A whole lot!

I did not run away.
The thought kept surfacing, as a reminder, that Ray was not doing any of this on purpose. He was not trying to be difficult.
Another thought, as I hurried from room to room, I could. Yes, I was free to move about and do as I pleased. Sure I am restricted, but it does not compare to what my poor guy is facing.
Yet another thought, this is not the end. He will improve. And even if there are hindrances the rest of our lives, so what? We have eternity!!

Now if those aren't answers to prayer, I do not know what is.
So, thank you, dear friends. Your help is more than getting me by!
And Papa, thank you for designing Your body in such an amazing way!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Many have asked, "Aren't you excited to have your honey coming home on Friday??!!"
They are excited for us.
Very sweet, however, excited is not exactly the word I would use. Conflicted would be more accurate.
Guilt has been lurking on the edges of my conscience. It gives me the opportunity to "do the work" that I am always encouraging others to do. We often need to work at holding on to what is true. Guilt is not always true, but false. Feeling guilty for a feeling I am experiencing is a waste of time!

I am so grateful that he is alive and has come so far in his recovery that he can come home.
As far as the actually homecoming; only Papa knows what that will look like, expecially the day by day stuff.

A few people have expressed understanding of what I must be feeling. They, too, used the word "conflicted." To them I say, "Thank you!"

Ray and I had gotten to the place in our relationship and life that we were really enjoying each other and looking forward to being "free." Less obligations and responsibilites; more options.
Will we get to that place again? Maybe.

The man who is coming home tomorrow is different than the man who left this house the evening of April fourteenth. The difference goes beyond the physical.
He is quieter, more subdued. My husband loved a good challenge. He loved to tinker and often said that he enjoyed a level of frustration (!). I always wondered at such thinking.

A few people contributed toward a purchase of an iPad. Matt brought it to him, as he is most receptive to any suggestions from our son.
No interest. We have tried numerous times to spark some, but to no avail. He told me he can't see the screen.
The screen is very clear and definitely easier to view than the small television that he watches in his room!

His emotions are obviously subdued. As I have shared about our precious niece, Sara, who has always been the apple of his eye, he listens and nods, and even asks about her from time to time, yet, no emotion.

I know he will continue to recover and that medications may play a part in his responses, etc. I just don't like!!

Papa is ever reminding me to "take every thought captive to Christ." I dare not do otherwise. The "what ifs" would become too large.
I choose to keep my eyes on the One who is "the Rock that is higher than I" to quote a Psalm. He is bigger than anything I have faced or ever will.

He is so gracious. This morning me Papa gave reminded me that this journey I am on is what He has ordained for me and that He will be the One doing what needs doing. It is a familiar verse that I have claimed over and over through the years. "Faithful is He who calls you, He also will bring it to pass." The address for this in found at first Thessalonians five, the twenty-fourth verse.

Whatever I am called to do in life; whether it be a wife, a mother, an aunt, a sister, a friend, a teacher, even a care giver; they are callings from Him. All I need to do show up. He has never and will never leave me hanging.

I am His vessel, hopefully, to quote the Apostle Paul, "for honor, sanctified, useful to Him, prepared for every good work."

To Him be the glory!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Part of an A. W. Tozer quote was the reading on a calendar this morning.

"If we truly want to follow God, we must seek to be other-worldly.
Every man must choose his world....
We who follow Christ.....
deliberately choose the Kingdom of God as our sphere of interest."

It resonated with me. "Amen!" I said.
The enemy and the flesh responded with an "Oh yeah? We'll see about that!"

There were just a few simple matters to attend to today. The first was to call the cable company, as the bill makes no sense to me. It is quite a bit higher than it should be.

You cannot hit "0" and get around their automated system.
I tried.
After jumping through all their little hoops I finally was connected with a real person. (Actual, if you mumble and the system can't understand you, they have to send you to a person!:)
Of course, one must give quite a bit of the information again before they can help you. This was followed by the person asking me to call back in an hour or two, as their system was down.
Wasn't there a recording to tell me this beforehand??

I waited and called back and found myself retracing all the steps once more to get to someone less automated. Again I needed to give all the information to them, so they could decide how to help me. This representative asked to speak with Ray, as he is the only authorized name on the account. I explained why he wasn't available and their response was that they could not help me. I explained that last month I had changed the service with no problem. Ah, it seems the person who allowed this ignored policy.
It is only the cable bill, for heaven's sake!! It isn't his life savings or something!
I asked for a supervisor and was put on hold. After five minutes on hold I gave up!
I wonder if they would have been willing to speak with me if the bill had been too low??

The rest of my efforts this morning seemed to follow suit. (Sigh.)

I usually take Route 8 to get to Glendale to visit Ray. Today was no different.
I forgot that there was a good section of highway that was down to one lane. (Sigh.)

While creeping along I had the opportunity to demonstrate a little grace to a fellow traveler.
I didn't do it. (Sigh.)

I was cranky.

And anyway, I am tired of people zipping past on the shoulder or the lane that is closing and then trying to move into the open lane in front of those of us who chose to be polite and wait! Hey, why do they think that they deserve to get there any sooner than the rest of us??!!
As I was entertaining these thoughts with relish another thought intruded.

"It's all about grace isn't it? You know, unmerited favor?

Yes, I choose His Kingdom.
Yes, I want to demonstrate His love and grace.
And in those moments when I don't, I do not want it to be easy to continue down that path. It is not a place I am comfortable staying in anymore.

The amazing thing is that His love for me does not lessen in the least bit no matter how cranky I get.

His Kingdom is the place to live and explore and most especially, love!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Meditation is the word for the day. In came from Papa.
I opened a devotional by David Jeremiah and meditation was the topic. It was a reminder to me that when I meditate on the faithfulness of my God, it never fails to encourage me.
He has been and will continue to be faithful, even when I am not.
A little while later I opened "Reflections for Ragamuffins" by Brennan Manning and can you guess what the theme was about?? Yes, more on the same topic and it drew me into deeper reflection.
More encouragement.
Focusing my full attention on my Gracious God refreshes my spirit and my memory. I am reminded that, as Brennan said it, "there is only one thing essential to life and that is to be in harmony with God and ourselves."
When this is true, everything else falls into place.
Oh, that doesn't mean that everything and everyone cooperates. Not by a long shot!!!!
What it does mean is that all of it is put into perspective. He truly does keep you in perfect peace if your mind (and heart) are fixed on Him!

All of this causes me to more deeply appreciate the evidences of His grace throughout my day.
One such evidence occurred while visiting with Ray.
He moved his left pointer finger! It was a very small movement, but it was a very big deal for us!!
Papa is listening and answering; all in His way and in His time, both of which are far above our understanding.
Whether Ray regains full use of his hand and arm is not the issue here. What matters is that our God is with us and at work to accomplish His purposes.

My purpose, I know, is to not only meditate upon Him, but reflect Him is all of my life.
May He get all the glory!!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A young woman was speaking about her short-term missions trip today. She shared that there had been anxiety over going to a country to minister where she didn't speak the language. However, after being there for a short time ministering to the children she discovered that there really wasn't a language barrier, as "everyone speaks the language of love."
My attention was drawn to her comment, as love has been the subject bouncing around in my head and heart as of late.

Here and there people have made comments about how amazed they are by my love for my husband. They are not alone in feeling amazed. I am too! It is something of a wonder, isn't it?
Everything God has a hand in is a wonder, is amazing, and is all Him.
Believe me it is Him, not me. If my flesh had its own way, I wouldn't be sitting in a rehab keeping my husband company.
All of this is working because He keeps me close. I am yoked to Him and His yoke is so comfortable that it is easy to let Him do the leading. Discomfort only comes when I try to go my own way.
This Friday Ray comes home and I will need to be kept very close to my Papa's side. Many changes in routines will begin and priorities will be shifting for all of us!

As far as love itself goes, He is love. Everything else is a cheap imitation! Without Him my love has ulterior motives. They are there even when I can't find them. Those motives are most often the desire to be accepted and to receive love in return.
Once we realize how much He loves us, nothing else satisfies, nothing else comes close.
When I encountered the Love of God through Jesus I couldn't help but love Him back, just like the apostle John says in one of His letters; "We love Him, because He first loved us."
It is never the other way around. God's love is the motivator.
He's the One who demonstrated His love by allowing His Son to take the consequences of our sins upon Himself. He did this while we were far from Him, not even wanting to know Him.
Discovering this just blew me away!!
Then I found out that He says that I am "accepted in the Beloved!"
So my flesh's two biggest motivators are satisfied in Him! I am accepted and I am loved!!
As we grow in this love relationship with God His love becomes the motivating factor in our lives; in all our relationships.

Regarding all of us speaking the language of love, I would say it a little differently. I believe that we all crave to be loved and no love we receive apart from God's love truly satisfies. When we settle for less than the genuine we cheat ourselves. Sadly we often have erected walls of protection that end up hindering us from what we truly long to receive. I know I did and only by His grace did those walls come down so I was able to enjoy His love.
Children are generally freer to recognize and receive His love.
So let's all become like little children. After all in Matthew eighteen, verse three, Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven."
Love is the Rule and Ruler of that Kingdom!!

Friday, August 13, 2010

I want to share a few thoughts here. It won't take long...

The most amazing thing has been happening. I feel freer than I have felt in a long while. Not only that, but I feel enveloped in peace. More than enveloped-the air is thick with it! I am carried by it.

It makes me think of the chorus from one of my favorite hymns; "Like a River Glorious."
"Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blessed, finding as He promised, Perfect Peace and Rest."

Yes, perfect peace and rest.
Just in time for my honey's homecoming! (August twentieth is a definite!)
Papa knows I need it!

So many unknowns; so many questions. It is so good to rest in the One who does know and has the answers.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever, I will sing...."
Oh yes, I definitely will sing!
I was carried by grace to Long Island today. It was pure grace; His favor unearned and undeserved.
On my way to visit my niece I dropped off my beloved daughter-in-law, Mindy, at Westchester County airport. That went smoothly though I hated to see her leave!

I was eager to see my niece. I had something to share with her. I hoped to be there as soon as possible.

The trouble began as I left the airport and proceeded on my way; with the help (?) of my GPS. It was my turn to encounter as many bad drivers as possible in just a few minutes.
Well, there must have been a whole lot going on in the old subconscious, because a burst of impatience surfaced and took it upon itself to lean on the horn! How long does one need to stop and look before turning right on red, when they have a green arrow anyway??!!
I was so eager to get away from that driver that I turned onto the highway to head in the opposite direction of where I should have been going. I proceeded to get off the next exit, contrary to what the Lady in the Box was urging me to do! She was right and it took a number of zigs and zags to finally get me headed in the right direction.
Papa and I had a talk. I apologized. Here I was with the Living God in residence, yet acting like a crazed, stressed person!
I am grateful that He is so forgiving.
Just then I saw a sign cautioning that there were traffic delays on the Whitestone bridge, which I was intending to cross. As I passed the exit for the Throg's Neck bridge it occurred to me that I probably should take it instead.
No problem I'll simply take the next exit and head back one exit and take that route.
Did I really think that it would be that simple?
To get back on the highway took a number of twists and turns; then to find out that you cannot get directly to the Throgsneck from the north bound highway!
Three or four highways later I found myself on the sought after bridge. Hallelujah!!
Traffic wasn't too bad for Long Island. We actually kept moving, even if it was below the speed limit for the most part! Why do they bother with speed limits down there anyway??
Last challenge: the parking garage. Fifteen minutes of circling finally yielded a spot.

Okay Papa, I got the message.
It is all about Him. If I thought I was going to bless anyone, forget it! I am powerless; I am weak; I am foolish. He is all-powerful; He is strong; He is wise.
The amazing fact is that He is in me!! All I needed to do was rest in Him, wait on Him, trust Him.
Once I made it to Sara's room I learned that she just came back from radiation. So if I had arrived earlier I would have just been waiting around.
Is there another lesson here?

The rest of my day totally made up for all the delays and craziness.

In all my years of walking with my Jesus I have never felt that any of my extended family really got what I was talking about. Until today.
Today there was a receptivity. The walls are down. Hearts are open.
Oh Papa!!
My sister and I had a good conversation. She is very aware of her need for Him. She is seeking Him!
My precious niece and I had time alone. We, also, had a wonderful talk. She held onto my hand and listened and gave brief, but focused answers.
Sara is aware of His presence. She has recognized that He is her source of comfort, rest and peace, and of life, both here and hereafter.
At the end of our conversation I prayed and felt His peace rest on us. When I open my eyes and looked at my niece it struck me that she looked especially peaceful.
At this point the nurse came into the room. As she looked at Sara, she stopped and exclaimed, "Oh, how beautiful she looks!" I told her that is because we had just been praying. She nodded and smiled.

The burden that I have had has lifted. I knew that what Papa had desired to do for Sara through me has been accomplished. It was time for me to go.
Sara opened her eyes; eyes that held a different light. Earlier I had seen fear and anxiety. Not now. We held hands, I kissed her, she thanked me, I kissed her some more and then let go. Her eyes followed me to the door, then they closed. She rested.

During prayer a thought came to me for Sara's husband, Tim. He is hurting so badly. He cannot accept that he is powerless. He cannot protect his wife. He cannot heal his wife.

He avoids close contact with me. He runs from God.
Before I left the floor I came across him in the waiting room. Papa sent me to him. I asked him for a hug goodbye. He thought it was safe, as there were others in the room, but as he hugged me I shared with him what had come to me for him. He was amazed and, for a moment, open. Then, as he sat down, he became aware of the others and was embarassed by his openness, so he told me, "Hey, stop with that spiritual stuff!"
Our eyes met and I said, "Never!"
He smiled and looked relieved!

Me thinks that grace isn't just carrying me anymore!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is;
Not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
That I might be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Author: Reinhold Niebuhr

Good prayer, huh?
The first three lines are the most often quoted part of this prayer.
It is good advice.
How often I have struggled to change that which is beyond my control while too afraid to tackle that which I could and should. I wonder if it simply feels safer to focus on the unchangeable than have to face the real battle?
Before I can expect to be able to affect any change anywhere I need Him to work a change in me.
The enemy would rather not see that happen. He knows that as long as I spend my time battling windmills change will not be possible.
Trusting Jesus; yoked to Jesus; yielded to Jesus is the only way to that peace the writer speaks of; it is the only way to true change.
Change means "Letting go and letting God," as they say. "Let go of all those things you want to see changed, let go of all the baggage that has dragged you down." That's what I have heard at different times in my life.
You know just when I think there is nothing else to deal with something else is brought to my attention!
That's okay. I know the One who is behind it all and I also know that He will definitely make all things right, eventually.
There is a Rich Mullins song about Jesus being his "One Thing". When He is our one thing it is much easier to let go of all the rest.
So Papa God, Holy One, You are my One thing!!
"One thing I have asked from the LORD, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the LORD,
And to meditate in His temple."
This is found in the twenty-seventh chapter of Psalms, the fourth verse.
As my eyes and heart are turned toward Him and as they are fixed on Him, all the rest fades.
Oh, it is all still there, but put into perspective.

When we let go and trust Him He is free to move more fully. I would much rather that the Mighty, Living, Creator God be the One directing the outcomes!
It is so good to remember that He is in control and all wise.
I also need to reflect on all the evidence of His touch and care through all of my life and particularly the past four months.

Ray is getting stronger every day! Today I noticed that his left leg is becoming stronger and more stable in spite of how weak his hip flexer still is! His knee does not buckle so often or so easily! Praise God!!
His mind is clearer too; the real weakness is in the short term memory.
To help this we have been playing cards. I have been winning, which was not the case before his accident! We figured out a way for him to stick the cards in the armrest of his wheelchair, as it really isn't very easy to play one-handed!
Through all this journey my honey has put his trust in the LORD and is confident that He has a good plan. Ray knows Papa is the One thing that matters!
Every day there is a little more progress! Keep praying!!

Tomorrow I head back to New York to visit my niece in the hospital. Papa has put something on my heart to share with her. I am trusting Him to give me time with her while she is able to absorb what is said.
May she encounter my Precious LORD and choose Him as her One thing!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

How is Ray? How is your niece?? How are you??? I and my sons get asked these questions whenever we cross paths with anyone who is aware of what has been going on in the world of the Reynolds family.
It makes me cranky. Actually, it makes all of us cranky. At first I felt badly when I became aware I was feeling this way. After all, the questions are motivated by love and genuine concern, for the most part.
My sons and I discussed this and came to the conclusion that we are just tired and find it exhausting to be constantly reminded that all is not right in our little world. Our lives have been altered dramatically. Daily patterns are different, responsibilities and priorities have experienced major shifts for each of us. We seek normalcy; a new version, of course, but still....
Does this mean that people should stop asking? No, of course not.
That is, if they haven't been able to follow this blog and/or do not get my prayer updates. When there is a change I will be sure to broadcast the news!
My dear husband's new discharge date is August twentieth. It continues to be an insurance game. The rehab requests two or three weeks at a time.
He needs to stay as long as possible to gain the quickest, fullest recovery. The hard part for all of us is the separation.
Last night the family attended a wedding. Ray couldn't join us and it bothered him. As we sat together yesterday morning, he was quiet and thoughtful. I asked what his thoughts were and he said, "I'm thinking not being able to go the wedding tonight with my family."
My poor honey!
It was odd for me too. Being there with three of our four sons, along with daughter-in-law Mindy and girlfriend Katie was a joy, but still a little lonely without him! Slow dancing without my man just isn't the same!!
My niece is being kept as comfortable as possible. The family is looking into alternative treatment. I find it very difficult to be at a distance.
My granddaughter, Jasmine, whom I have not mentioned before, is making some very poor choices! I would so love to spend a little time with her!!
I usually head to West Virginia during the summer for a visit. Not this year.
Papa has been using this season to show me just how much more He longs for me to rest in Him.
I know the best thing I can do for Ray and Sara is give them to the Almighty God.
Lately I have felt bogged down. It's like I am in some dense gel that hinders my movements. Only it is mostly in my head, affecting my thinking, which then in turn affects my actions. It causes confusion. Too many details, so much I want and need to do. I have gotten good advice from a number of dear people, yet, it is overwhelming just thinking about all the details!
It is only as I sit before my LORD and give over every detail that clarity comes to me.
Sometimes I am so concerned over so many things that all of it becomes the focus of my prayers to the exclusion of simply enjoying time with Him.
Prayer truly is enjoying Him and, as in any relationship, a sharing of thoughts, concerns, needs, joys and TIME. The pressures of this crazy world, on a good day, will try to crowd out the truly important. He is the main thing, the one thing that is essential for life. After all, He is life!
What has He been saying to me this week?
I am His and He offers me joy, freedom, peace, security; to name a few blessings. When I rest in Him I experience all of these and more. They are always mine, but I must receive them. Yes, He has bestowed so many blessings, but just like a gift, a person must unwrap them and make them theirs!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A friend loves at all times....Proverbs 17:17a
True friends are a gift from Papa.
My first and foremost friend is Jesus, Himself.
He truly loves at all times.
It is humbling when one realizes just how much He loves you. The Holy Omnipotent God loves us! He offers His friendship!!
How amazing!
A true friend "sticks closer than a brother." That's Him.
There is never a moment, not a breath of time when He abandons me. Such a comfort.
And I need that comfort.
As the road of life takes all its crazy turns and dips with a few loop-de-loops thrown in for good measure, to know that I am not on this ride alone brings immeasurable comfort.
Though I can't control anything or anyone I have the One who is in control by my side!
A true friend cares about what you care about. That's my Friend!
A true friend listens with compassion and reads between the lines. Yes, that describes my Friend!
You know what else a true friend does? They delight when you have more friends! That is how my Friend, Jesus, is!
Not only does He delight in seeing that I have these friends, but He brings them my way!!
Recently, I have realized that I have friends I didn't even knew about. Friends who love me and whose love moves them to minister to me. Wonderful friends who are willing to be His vessels so He can touch and bless through them.
These are all gifts from Papa.
I have lost count of how many times someone has demonstrated their friendship through a kind word or deed. Some I have known as dear friends or just passing acquaintances and some are virtual strangers. Most have little or no idea just how significant their actions are.
For quite a while we wondered who was "stealing" our garbage. We learned that it is a neighbor who just moved into the neighborhood this past November!
I am overwhelmed by His great love!
Yes, whenever love shows itself you know it is Him. He is love.
This friendship with the Living God is such a treasure. I feel so privileged. It is a privilege available to all who would come to Him. Yet, I am beyond amazed that He would have chosen me with who to be friends. I do not know how I could live without His friendship.
Having Him as my friend means I can get through whatever life hands me. As I embrace His friendship I ache to share this great gift with others.
So many are hurting, so many are in turmoil, and feel they have no where to turn. I want to shout, "Turn to Him!! He is the friend that sticks closer than a brother! He is the friend that loves at all times! You will not be disappointed!!"

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This is going to be brief, but I just had to share the blessings I received this morning!
For the month of August Papa and I are working our way through the first letter to the Corinthians. Today we focused on verses eighteen through thirty-one in the first chapter. Here I was reminded of my powerlessness; on my own I am weak and foolish.
However, it doesn't end there!
He is wise and powerful and with Him I, too, can share in this wisdom and strength! What good news!! My weakness is replaced by His strength and power and my foolishness gives over to His wisdom!
What grace!! What good gifts!!
Yet, that is not all!!
The passage goes on to tell us that Jesus not only became "to us wisdom from God," BUT also: Righteousness - Through Him we are made right with God!!
Sanctification - Through Him we can now grow in holiness!!
Redemption - He paid the price for our sins and now we face eternity, not separated from God, but with Him!!
So often I forget that He has done it all. There is nothing I need or can do.
You see, it is all about HIM!!
A message arrived in my email today that put the cherry on top of this great feast.
It was a reminder that I am a fragrance bearer - He is the fragrance!
Yes, indeed, it is all about Him!!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

When I was a child it was not unusual to witness my mother suddenly jumping up and shouting, "Stop the world, I want to get off!" I just figured that she was being overly dramatic, which she often was, but now I get it.
My version is, "Come, LORD Jesus!!" Yes, LORD, come back and set everything right! It is too much! He alone can make it all come out right.
I sought out the social worker at Glendale today. There were a number of questions that needed answers. Often I have no idea who to ask, but she seemed like a logical choice.
Is Ray definitely coming home on August 13th?
What if he falls at home? How do I get him up? He is so unsteady on his feet!
How will he navigate the stairs?
I am concerned about his left arm. When he moves from chair to bed, etc. it is left to hang, which does not seem wise. The muscles, tendons, etc. are distended enough!
How do I find out what help is available to us?
It was a challenge to graciously receive her responses. There was a touch of impatience in her tone as she spoke with me, as if the questions I had were foolish ones.
I was told that there is a question mark after the thirteenth. It could even be sooner, who knows? Maybe the insurance will send him home early?
Well, that certainly answered my question!
As far as falling down; the suggestion was to call an ambulance to help get him up. Lovely!
He will most likely fall at some point, as he is not the most compliant patient. You probably should get an alarm to warn you when he is trying to get up on his own.
This is the first I have heard about any lack of cooperation! I will be speaking with the therapists to confirm this one!
Furthermore, he is going to be unsteady for a good long time, so I need to adjust to that fact. Thanks.
Have I thought of how I would get my husband out of the house in an emergency?
Hey, I haven't even figured out how to get him INTO the house yet!!
She thought the doctor who took his neck brace off had also recommended removing the arm sling. First I have heard of this!
As far as help, the nurse will give you that information. Which nurse? The one who will visit the day after he gets home. Something else I didn't know.
This path that we find ourselves on is a new one for us, yet, at times, I feel like we are expected to just know how it works.
The little girl in me showed up today to say, "I don't want to play anymore!!" I think she just stamped her feet too!!!
I am so grateful that my God became man and walked this earth! He experienced the full range of emotions too and knows, first hand, how I am feeling.
And I am gaining a deeper understand of His struggles too. This morning I was reflecting on Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. He prayed to the Father and asked for the cup of suffering to be taken from Him, but more than relief He desired the Father's will to be done. He knew His Father was good.
Knowing that Papa is good carries me through these rough waters too.
Tomorrow Matthew and I intend to drive down to New York to visit my niece. We go in full confidence that our God is good and loving. May this confidence be contagious!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

You know how Papa is so faithful to speak His word to my heart every day? Well, today is no different and I have been eager to share what He said to me! For the past hour or so I have been attempting to sit down to compose this post, but one call after another has interrupted.
The last call has left me grieved in heart and spirit.
My precious niece is dying and is facing this fact alone.
Completely alone.
At least from her perspective.
She isn't really alone because God is there. He is there with His arms out, ready to embrace her at the first utterance.
The family is in denial. Thus they cannot be there for her.
Her doctors want the husband to sign an order that moves her to hospice. He refuses because her mother wants to see the treatment continued and she will hate him if he signs it.
Both he, Tim, and my sister, Chris, vow to kill themselves if they lose her. I believe this is a very real possiblility.
Another sister is so angry at God and cannot imagine what He thinks He is doing. She refused my urging to remind Sara that she should look to the LORD and climb up into His lap.
All of these reactions are very human responses to such a tragedy. They in themselves are tragedies.
This life is simply the place where we prepare for the real thing. Here we have the opportunity to get to know the Living God and get ready for an eternity with Him.
If this life is all there is, let's hang it up now!! It is too hard, too scary, too painful at times to be worthwhile, if this is all we get.
Though my heart is so heavy with grief and so broken over all the sorrow; sorrow that seems to just keep being heaped on one layer after another, there is peace and confidence. Peace and confidence in the only One who is trustworthy; the One who is my peace and confidence.
My heart longs for all my precious ones to find their way to this One.
He is my hope and my future.
The word He gave me was in John chapter fifteen, the second verse. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit."
The pruning has a purpose - a good purpose. He says that He knows the plans He has for me, for welfare and not for calamity. They are to give me a future and a hope.
I have Him, so I have my future and my hope.
These plans are not for me alone. They are available to all who come.
Oh Papa, how lovely You are!! How I pray that all find You irresistable!!