Do You See What I See?

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This week has been a rough few days for me emotionally. It has been a “I do not like paralysis” kind of week. There have been three days in a row that I have been smacked in the face with something I really would have loved to do, but just absolutely could not do. I can typically handle the single episodes but when they stack up on me, it can get to me. Well, this week was just one of those weeks. I have felt a combination of emotions that ranged from feeling completely useless to just plain mad. I am afraid my poor husband has caught much of the brunt of it but I tell him to be proud because he doesn’t realize how much I DON’T say! I don’t think I have convinced him yet that he should be proud of that. I am afraid a negative attitude is still a negative attitude – even when you keep some of it inside.

During times like this, which thankfully are not very often, I always decide that I need counseling! So, I get my preachy tone going on in my head and I start chewing myself out and telling me to straighten up. I remind myself of the many wonderful things God has granted in my life. I tell me that my children are watching me so I need to be an example. I start thinking of all the things I am thankful for. This formula helps me every single time, but this time the thing that helped me the most was a line from a Christmas song.

“Do you see what I see…” made me stop and think about that question. I know what I saw. I saw two awesome boats that I would have loved to have toured with my friends and family but were completely inaccessible. I saw a downstairs basement that needs several handyman projects that I know how to do and want to do, but can’t do them very effectively because I can’t reach them! I saw my husband trying to catch up a mountain of laundry that should be my job. I saw an awesome door-to-door outreach going on at our church but know the reality of me getting to most doors is out of the question. I saw all these “problems” with paralysis that really frustrated me. I even looked in the mirror and saw a paraplegic with a rotten attitude and I don’t like her at all!

Through that song, it hit me how very self-centered I was. Do I see what I see? Yes, I do. Way too clearly! That is my problem. Then, I could hear the Lord asking me that question. “Alicia, do you see what I see?” No, I don’t and that is also my problem. My vision gets so nearsighted sometimes! I wonder what God sees. I have asked God to let me view this world the way that He does and to please use me to be a vessel to reach others. When He heard me pray and ask for those things from Him, did He see that it would involve the very things that have me frustrated this week?

When we ask God for these spiritual things, I am afraid we have visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads. Successful ministries, a perfectly ordered house, children who get tucked in every single night with a Bible story, high heels and aprons and the Martha Stewart award, and no miscarriages….or sickness….or death….or bankruptcy….or cheating spouses….or rebellious children…or paralyzed bodies. But God sees something different.

God sees His creation that is tormented with the effects of sin. God sees that Satan cannot have the victory in the life of His children. God sees that when we trust Him, He can take that torment and bring about a glorious victory in our lives. God sees that Satan’s vision of us will be blinded and He will turn our ashes into something beautiful. God sees His struggling child and He has pity on us and reaches out in compassion and mercy. God sees abundant grace that He loves to bestow on us when we need it the most. God sees a gal in a wheelchair down here struggling with a bad attitude and He lets the words of a little Christmas song touch her heart just when she needs it.

I am so thankful that God does not see me the way I see me. I am so thankful that He sees me through His vision for me. I am so thankful that He doesn’t respond to me the way I respond to myself sometimes. I am so thankful that He does not ride my emotional roller coaster. I am so thankful that when I am having a bad day week, He is not. And I am so thankful for a little Christmas song to remind me to keep my eyes on Christ and to focus on what He sees in my life.

Do you see what I have seen? I hope so.

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When We Pray For Our Children

I have an overwhelming desire as a mother, to see my children develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I don’t mean when they ask Jesus to save them. I mean an intentional walk with God. I do not want them to have a relationship with Mommy’s God. I want Him to be their own. The one they love and serve because He is their God. I pray passionately for this.

I remember the Bible story of when God asked Abraham to take and sacrifice his son Isaac. God had no intention of asking one human to sacrifice another but he was testing Abraham to see how far he would trust him. I guess, if you are about to make a man the father of a great nation, then the test of obedience and faithfulness might be a little greater than the average guy. Side note: Abraham did not know that so he was truly a man of faith! However, I don’t think Abraham was the only life that a work was being done in that day. I think God was working in Isaac.

Isaac followed his earthly father in complete trust up the side of that mountain. He did not struggle when he was being bound and laid on the altar. We have no record that he cried out in fear as Abraham raised the knife above his head and was going to follow in obedience the whole way. When God spoke and told Abraham to stop, and then revealed that this was a test of faith, Abraham was not the only one who learned something. I think the transition was made that day in Isaac’s life. God became very personal to Isaac that day. You see, God had rescued Isaac. God made a difference in Isaac’s life and Isaac had a new view of God. He was his Redeemer now – not just his father’s.

This leads me back to my children and praying that God will be their God. I desire that. I pray for that. But do I really want it? Do I really understand and accept what this may mean? I think to my own childhood. I remember my mother passionately praying for my siblings and I that we would also serve our God. Would you like to know something? All of my siblings are in church and serving God. My sister, Niki, is married to a pastor. I am married to a pastor. My brother, Nathan, is a faithful and strong leader in his local church. My brother, Nevin, pastors a church he started in the far northwest. My brother, Asher, has surrendered his life to serving God in ministry and is faithfully involved in his church. My two younger siblings, Cierra and John, still live at home with my parents and they love their church also.

Now allow me to share something else. My sister, Niki, and her husband went through 11 painful years of barrenness. The Lord did not give them children the way they thought He would. I became paralyzed and face the rest of my life in a wheelchair. My brother, Nathan, went through a divorce. My brother, Nevin, has faced loneliness and financial hardship as they have stepped out to live a life of faith far away from all their family. My three younger siblings are all adopted and have their own issues they will still face in life.

I am telling you that the awful things that have happened in our lives are in answer to our mother’s prayers. Did she pray that my sister would not bear children? Did she pray that I would become paralyzed? Did she pray that my brother’s marriage would not make it? Did she pray for my brother and her grandchildren to live far away from her? No. But she prayed that we would have a real relationship with God. These things have made each of us to seek for our God – not the God of our mother. We needed His help. We needed His redemption. We needed Him to be real and to show Himself to us. We all faced a place where we were at the end of ourselves and that is where we found Him.

When we pray for our children, we must realize that God will also write their story. They may face some terribly hard times and as a mother, it will be very hard to watch our children go through these things. We must keep our focus right where it needs to be though. We must keep praying for them and be encouraged! God is working in their lives to bring them to the very place we prayed they would be!

As the child of a praying mother, I am very thankful for God’s work in my own life. God keeps me in a place where I cling to Him and I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that He is my God!!

As a praying mother for my children, I am preparing myself. Because God desires them even more than I do, He will work in there lives to draw them to the place where He is their God. I am already praying for them that they will respond in running to the Lord and not away from Him.

May God bless all praying Momma’s and give us the courage to face the days when God makes Himself real to our children in answer to our prayers.

Stand!

I have been sitting for a little over 19 months now. One thing that has never ceased to catch my attention, is when I see or hear the word “stand”. There are many hymns that talk about standing, verses that talk about standing (373 to be exact), and the word is used many times in the church service – “Let’s all stand and sing…”, “Remain standing for a word of prayer”, “Let’s all stand in honor of the reading of God’s Word”. This word always catches my attention. At the beginning of my wheelchair journey, a lump in my throat was always present with that word. I have long gotten past the lump in my throat, by I have not gotten beyond noticing the word “stand”.

As I have been progressing in therapy, they ask what my goals are. Yesterday, it was time for another assessment and they asked me again. Of course, my goals have evolved as I have, and I have never said “Duh, to walk”, although I have been tempted! Instead, I have tried to keep my goals realistic but a little out of reach to keep giving me focus and the drive to keep working hard in therapy. But yesterday, I took a chance and proclaimed “I want to stand!” Not with braces and hunks of metal holding me up, not with holding up all my weight in my arms, but to stand on my own legs and let them hold the weight of my body. I could list a zillion ways that would make life so much easier but I will spare you. My therapist became very quiet so I timidly said “Is that too high of a goal?” He said, “Well, we will certainly work hard to try won’t we?”

Things like this in life really grab my attention. The Lord uses these kind of things in my life to make an impression on my mind. This morning, as I woke up and tried to move, I was stiff and full of pain. Even the knuckles on my hands hurt! My therapist had taken me seriously yesterday and we worked very hard. I lay here in the bed this morning and tried to get this crazy body of mine to start moving and started thinking. “Why would anyone in their right mind continue to go back and be put through this again? Why do I continue to try and try and try? Would it be easier to just stop and be done with all of this?” Then, I start trying to wiggle my toes and I watch them move up and down. I remember when they wouldn’t do that. I roll over and remember when I couldn’t do that without help. I start doing my exercises and watch my muscles jumping and spasming like crazy as they are trying there hardest to remember what to do. I sit up on the side of the bed and reach over and get something. I remember when I fell out a few times doing that because of horrible balance. I transfer out of my bed and into my chair with ease and remember how very hard that used to be. By the time I made it to the shower, where the hot water will relax my stiff and painful body, I am renewed in my commitment that I will be in my place at therapy on Monday morning. I have gained too much to give up now.

You may be wondering where I am going with this. I will tell you. Many times we get so very weary in life. We go through painful experiences and we are tempted to quit. It is just too hard. It is not worth the grief it is causing me. You may feel like this in your marriage, your home, your job, your ministry, or maybe even to God Himself. Before you quit, my dear friends, look back. Look at where the Lord has brought you from. Look at how He has worked in your life. Look at the influence you have had on people’s lives. Look at the opportunities you have been given. Don’t quit.

Join me in my goal – one that I desire physically, but more than that, I desire it spiritually. Let’s stand! 

I Pity The Puppets

At therapy, I have been using a harness system that dangles you from a large metal frame and they crank a percentage of your body weight off. Every time they crank me up, I think that I know what if feels like to be a puppet! You are kind of just hanging there and waiting to “perform” whatever tasks the therapists tell me to do.

There is quite a helpless feeling as a puppet. You can’t get up by yourself, your tied to all of these “ropes”, you cannot move about freely, and you can’t get down by yourself. Oh sure, while you are “performing” you look pretty good and amazing! But just wait until the ropes are gone – the puppet lies crumpled in a heap. At least I have my chair to land in!

My husband and I have been talking lately in regards to raising our children. How we want our children to be students of the Word of God. We want them to know not only what they believe but why they believe it. We were challenged by some friend’s of ours who play devil’s advocate with their children. They ask them Bible questions and then have them prove their answer with Scripture only – not opinion. It has really made us think.

I see such a deficit in this – not just among children (mine included), but among our grown-ups, our spiritual leaders, our pastor’s and teachers. Many times we just parrot what we have always been told but if someone were to really put our feet to the fire about certain things we hold so fast to, we end up stuttering with some lame answer to get us off the very uncomfortable hook we have managed to get caught on.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am not advocating a reversal of everything we have been taught. Quite the opposite! What I am challenged to do is to really figure out what I believe and why. If I can’t give a biblical reason for the why’s, then I have completely weakened my belief to others. They will view it as just opinion and no different than the right to their own. Except they will probably just keep their own opinion by not being compelled by any greater authority which should be the Word of God. This is important to others but is is of upmost importance to our children.

I wonder how Pinocchio felt when he changed from a puppet into a human. How freeing! How liberating! How wonderful to not be controlled by other people!

As a Christian, I am not to be controlled by external “ropes” but by the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. That is an internal work and is extremely liberating because I am not jerked about by everyone who desires to “pull my chain.”

The Lesson:
Simple. I pity the puppets.