This is real.

Just over 2 weeks ago, I was out in the pasture taking care of the chickens in the middle of the scorching hot afternoon.  We’ve been having very dry conditions as well.  I  needed to make sure the chickens were getting enough water.  I was checking the connection between two hoses, when I saw a shadow fall over the valley.  “Clouds!” I thought.  “That’s unexpected, but nice.”  I looked up and instead of a nice puffy cloud blocking the sun, it was dark brown smoke.  It was rising just on the other side of the ridge of our mountain. It took only a few seconds to realize that this probably wasn’t someone burning their burn pile!  It was a fire and this was not good!  Within 15 minutes, that small column of smoke turned into a very dark billowing cloud.  I was scared!  This was real!  A real live wild fire extremely close to our property.  I literally didn’t know what I should do next.  My military husband had been away for 3 weeks on assignment and he was due to return the following day.  REALLY!?  (we always joke around that something ALWAYS happens when he is gone. haha…..I think a wild fire burning extremely close to our property is top on the list!  Next to our dog getting hit by a car… but that’s another story for another day) The next several hours brought lots of waiting.  Along with throwing those things that were most important into the car, in case of mandatory evacuation.  The wind was blowing that fire fairly close in our direction.  However, with the incredible firefighters dropping water and retardant on the flames, and the fact that once the fire reached the ridge, it does not burn down hill very well, AND with God’s protection, I went to bed that night, safe. The next morning, the wind was blowing in the complete opposite direction!  So, the fire literally was burning back upon itself.  And this second day brought lots of waiting again.  I could see the smoke rising throughout the day.  There was a constant sound of helicopters and planes reminding me of the battle going on just on the other side of the hill.  I was going about my daily routine as normal as possible, but always waiting to see if that fire would but us in real danger.  The waiting was the hard part.  I didn’t know if I was going to lose my home, my farm. I had to trust that God was going to care for us.  That’s all I could do. And he saved us and everyone else close to the fire!  And out of the charred mountain side will come new life and beauty. Many of you are following the story of my nephews, Titus and Ely and the fight against Batten disease.  Batten is an umbrella name for many neurodegenerative diseases where the body’s lysosomes in the cells are not working properly to get rid of cellular “waste.”  The build up damages cells, slowing bringing blindness and a degression in motor skills along with all body function.  There is a 1/280ish chance for someone in the general population to be a carrier of the mutated gene that causes this late infantile NCL disease.  Being a carrier, means that you carry only one copy of the mutated gene, and you are not effected.  However, if two people are carriers and they have a child, that child has a 25% chance of acquiring the disease. Both mutated genes have to be passed on to the child for them to have it. Therefore, we call the disease an autosomal recessive disease. This is what has happened with my nephews.  Both their parents carry the bad gene.  Now, we are talking about my brother and my husband’s sister. 🙂  Siblings married siblings.  (it’s a fun story, I should share sometime.  And yes, it’s legal.) During the course of us finding out what disease was plaguing Titus, we discover that Ely also has it, even though he has not shown signs yet (they onset after 2 years of age, typically).  My heart aches deeply for them and my prayers are fervent for healing and peace and understanding.  And surely, Brad and I don’t have to worry about this with our family.  But wait, we all have the same parents, so maybe we need to be tested.  Brad gets tested first and we wait….wait to see if he is a carrier.  Surely, not.  Us “kids” have a 50% chance of carrying the mutated gene.  We wait for his results and then I get the call….Brad is a carrier.  No!  Ok….so now, I get tested.  Surely, I don’t carry it too!  I get my blood drawn and wait….and wait….God, I’d love to NOT be a carrier so that Brad and I don’t have to get our son tested.  So that we can have another child without worry.  Surely, not all four of us parents will carry this thing.  Then I get the phone call a few days ago, “I got your results from the lab.  I’m sorry, Bekah, you are a carrier.”  No…..no….. This is real.  This is really getting real.  We are facing a situation just like Danny and Bekah.  Waiting to see if our son might have the disease.  My dreams of carrying another child are shattered and I feel a very deep sorrow.  Like I lost the child that I never had.  And my thoughts can easily go to picturing Colby declining in skill and speech and vision.  Thoughts of him losing his life.  And it scares me to the core.  But I can’t let my thoughts go there.  Fear is not of God.  God is love and perfect love drives out fear. “Do not be anxious about anything. But in everything, with prayer and THANKSGIVING, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Phil. 4:4-8 WOW!  There is that word “thanksgiving.”  Eucharisteo.  By thanking God for all of his blessings (and there are so many every day!) I’m able to see God for who he really is.  Giving thanks allows trust to be built.  And it is safe to trust God.  He will guard my heart and mind and cover me with a peace I can’t describe.  Eucharisteo comes before the miracle. The opposite of trust is fear.  Fear is not of God.  Fear says that God is powerless. That He doesn’t care.  Fear says that God will not take care of Titus and Ely and Colby. Fear says that He is not doing what is good.  Fear binds us and blinds us and leaves us falling out of control into the pit.  Fear says God is finite and weak.  These are all lies.  Lies that I will fight against! God’s love endures forever.  “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things.”  Romans 8:12.  Jesus felt as though God forsake him on the cross.  It was very dark, the earth began to shake, Jesus was crucified.  But God had not forsaken.  God was ever so close.  And he did a miracle that changed everything.  Christ rose from the dead, took all of our sin upon his shoulders, and conquered death!  Jesus conquered death and sin and fear.  Surely, it is safe to trust God!  He has NEVER left us.  He love endures forever.  This is real. I think that during the darkest times in our lives, God is so very very close.  He may be silent but he is protecting us with is hand.  We long to know what he is doing, but he doesn’t say.  He may be silent, but he is not absent.  God is with us in the darkest of times and the fullness of his glory is passing by.  It may take a long time, but we will be able to look back and see exactly the good that he was doing.  I think that if God was to reveal to us his mighty plan, we wouldn’t be able to grasp it with our fragile human minds.  Moses wanted to see God’s face and God told him that he would surely die if he did.  His glory is that great and powerful.  God isn’t leaving us alone, his love is lavished upon us.  Thank you God. Thank you. Romans 8:38- “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our LORD.” Thank you for reading. Bek

The same yesterday, today and forever.

Last night I was laying down next to my 2 year old son in his tiny toddler bed.  (I fit oh so perfectly in the tiny space) It was bedtime and we were doing our nightly routine.  I lay next to him until he falls asleep.  I suppose some may say that is a bad habit to get into.  And no matter how the “habit” originated, I don’t mind it so much.  And the time with our children at this age goes so fast, I think it’s worth it.  Anyway….back from my bunny trail….he promptly stuck in his thumb and snuggled in close to me.  He doesn’t seem to mind cuddling even when we start sweating because it is so warm!   He then reached out across my body with his non-thumb sucking hand to find my hand. He wanted to hold it while he fell asleep.  This was an amazing moment for me (I try and cherish these moments) as I realized, at that point in time, all he wanted was me.  To hold my hand and fall asleep.  To love me and let me love him.  He felt completely safe and sound saying goodbye to another day and drifting off to sleep.  He trusts me.

Yesterday started out with me contemplating all that was part of my life, the good and the bad.  As well as the possibility of things happening.  And immediately, and throughout the rest of the day, I know God was telling me that I can trust him.  Trust him completely and no matter what happens.  I heard songs about trust, verses about trust…it was everywhere.

“This is what the LORD says: ‘Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD . They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.'”  Jeremiah 17:5-8

Or how about this one….. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and he will make your paths straights.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Merriam-Webster defines “trust” as  a “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.”  Why do I have such a hard time completely trusting in God?  Why do I still have this hint of doubt when I think of the difficult circumstances I am facing or will face?  I go through times where I fully believe in my heart that I can trust God to work everything out for good.  Then it is like I forget, and I think, “yea, but maybe it won’t really all be good.” Why is it so hard for me to remember the very reliable, honest, true, loving, faithful, guiding Spirit of God?  Probably because nothing I experience on earth is or ever will be 100% trustworthy.  Think of those people who you really really trust.  Family members, close friends, your Pastor, etc.  And then think of the qualities they possess that allow you to trust them.  Faithfulness, reliability, integrity, LOVE, grace.  But, (and I say this carefully and with love and respect) somewhere along the line, we all fail and break that trust.  Because we are human and are subject to sin, we cannot be completely 100% trusted.  Now, that’s not to say we don’t work to gain someone’s trust back.  Not to mention the healing power of forgiveness and reconciliation (that could be another blog! :))  Anyway, I think you get the point. The only one who we can 100%, totally trust is God, our loving Father and creator.  So…….I think I can speak for a lot of us when I say that this is hard to do.

But let’s try something here.  Let’s (just for a moment) with all our might, let ourselves imagine what it would be like if God could be 100%, without a doubt, trusted.  Trusted to hold us through every single moment of the day.  To give us strength and wisdom through every single situation we encounter each day.  To work things out for good….not just ok, but absolutely, amazingly GOOD!  Are you imagining……..Wow…….how freeing in my spirit is this thought!  How indescribable to completely have someone to trust like that!  How incredible to believe that He loves me THAT much to take care of everything and to give me more than I could imagine.  Wow…..I can trust Him like that.  Because He is trustworthy like that.

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

“The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.”   Psalm 23

The Bible doesn’t suggest that we  can, maybe, kind of, every once in awhile trust God.  It’s absolute truth that we can trust God.

Why don’t we trust our Savior, who defeated death and sin for us, simply because he loves us so.

Forever by Kari Jobe

Thanks for reading- Bek

Where’s the joy?

This blogging thing has become pretty popular over the years, and I think it can be used in such a unique way to share what is going on in life.  Sometimes it is just easier to write thoughts out.  First of all, so you don’t forget.  And secondly, so that others can take the time to read and (hopefully!) join in with you through the excitement, joy, pain, or whatever. 🙂 Many of you have been following along in our family’s adventure…of learning that both of my nephews have a very rare genetic disease that does not have a cure at this point (except the powerful healing hand of God!) And my lovely sister-in-law, Bekers (as I affectionately call her…and she, me) has written God inspired blogs to share that journey that they are on as a family.  And it is amazing the response that she has had through her blogs. They stir up powerful emotions when we read them.  (if you haven’t read them, please do!  www.youcantstealmyjoy.wordpress.com) I think so many of us are drawn emotionally to this story of Titus and Ely because we all want something.  And I think that something is joy.  (ok…maybe we want a couple other things too, like hope and peace)  We want to know how to have joy (and hope and peace) in the midst of life and all of the incredibly difficult things that come our way.   I want my blogs to be inspired by God.  And I want them to be written out of the many truths that God has been revealing to me as our family perseveres through trial and as He continues to love me and show himself to me.  Will you eucharisteo with me? This word “eucharisteo” probably seems like greek to you.  Oh, that’s because it is. 🙂  So, not to bore you too much…I’ll just tell you that if you break the word up into it’s parts, the definition we come up with for “eucharisteo” means “grace, joy, and thanksgiving.” (there, see. that’s not too boring).   Jesus gave thanks A LOT and as he gave thanks to God for everything, miracles happened.  God’s presence was seen and felt. I have asthma right now that is really bothersome.  So, I’m taking an inhaler. The temperature outside is very hot, so I’m doing my best to keep the chickens and the garden (and my family) alive! My nephews have a disease that has no cure….Titus is blind and can’t walk or talk.  I wish so much that he could see me and I hope he knows that his Aunty Bekah loves him. I wish he could see his cousin Colby and play with him. 😦 My husband and I are waiting on test results to see if we may carry this bad gene…..to make sure that our son Colby is safe. We are tight financially so we keep working away, trusting God to provide. My favorite chicken was carried off and killed by something. My son keeps getting constipated so I give him more fiber, water, milk of magnesia. There are so many things in my everyday happenings that I don’t really have any control of.  I’ve come to the realization that my life is not my own.  It really isn’t.  Every aspect of my life is God’s.  At first thought, this makes me feel kinda alone.  And out of control.  I don’t control what happens to me.  Is God sitting back halfheartedly watching me? Does he really care?  Am I left alone to try and fight through and have happy thoughts and fix things on my own power? Goodness NO!  🙂   This idea that God abandons us when “bad” things happen is far (times 1000) from the truth!  God is present. God is good.  God is giving comfort.  God is in control.  God works ALL things out for good.  Good, as in better then what we could come up with!  So…..the number one question is….why do bad things happen?  Why do I not feel God with me when darkness surrounds me? Where is the joy?  Maybe it’s because I’m not looking for him.  This world is broken, but why am I always focused on the broken?  Why do I let the broken become bigger then the good, bigger then the whole, bigger then the blessings?  How do I set my eyes on seeing God’s face?  Well, you know what Jesus did right before he was going to be hung on a cross to bear all of the emotional and physical weight of sin upon him?  He gave thanks.  He broke the bread and drank the wine.  And gave thanks!  Then the miracle happened.  Sin and death was defeated when Christ rose from the grave and forgave our sins! Woo!!!  (ok…that is mind blowing to me!)  So….if I give thanks for all things at all times, I can’t help but see God’s face in everything.  Eucharisteo.  Because he is there….I just have to want to see him and seek him and long to be with him. He is caring. He is present. He is powerful. He is NOT leaving us to face life on our own.  We can’t believe this for an instant. He loves us.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s preace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.  -Philippians 4:6-7

Thanks for reading. – Bek