What Do You Do When You’re Put On the Spot?

I was recently asked an interview question that was intended to test my prioritizing and organizing prowess, but when I first heard the question it felt needlessly random and diabolically complex. It was like: “You’ve got a pizza in the oven, a one-eyed bandit is at the door and three bears are on the roof. So which raccoon gets a cookie?”

Well, that’s not really what they asked, but for a second, it felt like it. I sort of froze for a moment. I’m sure I looked calm, but inside I was like, “Whaaa?!?”

I did manage to pull myself together pretty quickly and answered the question.

The questions in this interview were actually really good ones. And they didn’t ask odd questions just to watch me squirm, I just felt put on the spot.

It reminded me of how I’ve felt so many times when my faith is being tested. Someone asks me a difficult question about God, or I have to make a decision for my family where the outcome is uncertain, or maybe I just am not sure what my response to something should be because there isn’t a commandment or clear scripture to tell me what to do.

Faith has this now-or-never kind of feel. It’s like when you were a kid getting ready to jump on the merry-go-round at the park. You’re giddy and nervous hoping that you’ve timed the moment and the trajectory perfectly to hurl your body onto the whirling platform.

When you do, it’s exhilarating. I remember loving the feeling of spinning until the lines between nausea and delirious laughter were as blurry as my view.

But you have to stick the landing. Because if you don’t, then you are in for a collision that will most certainly result in an ungraceful splat.

In my experience, faith in God often feels the same way. You see what looks like a hurricane of questions, obstacles and emotions spinning before you. And even though your mind and body are telling you to wait for something safe, your heart is telling you to run towards it.

It’s that on-the-spot moment. Do you freeze or do you jump? Faith in God makes that leap trusting that in the middle of the chaos He has provided a place to land. It trusts that he has the right words, a good answer, and a perfect plan for you. Yes, it’s frightening. No, you don’t know how banged up your knees might get.

But in the end it’ll be worth it and you’ll be that friend on the twirling merry-go-round that is happily shouting, reaching out your hand for others to make the leap and join you.

Angie Derrick 9/21/12 ©

How to Love Wild and Crazy

My son was screaming at the top of the stairs this morning, his shock of straight black hair in horn-like tufts, dark eyes pinched in a scowl. He was crouched down and naked, shouting at me to help get his jammies back on. Only six thirty in the morning and already “Mowgli” had his undies in a bunch….figuratively speaking, of course.

This boy is something else. He wrestles with his dinosaurs while singing Disney songs. He gives his animals names like “Dangerous” and “Jesus”. He is temperamental and intense. He loves horses and loathes green peppers. There is nothing middle-of-the-road or easy-going about my four-year-old son.

We’re still working on thinking before screaming and “using his words”. For instance, some children simply tell their mommies that they don’t like their dinner. My son, however, will throw his head back and yell, “I HATE THIS MEATBALL! I’m never EVER going to eat it!!”

To him, unpleasant dinners are a personal affront.

Things have improved and there have been fewer “Give me liberty or give me death” type rants at the dinner table, but change has crawled along at a glacial pace.

He is nothing like my daughter. His older sister was a compliant and sweet little girl. She made me look like Mom of the Year.

My son does not. In fact, I’m pretty sure that when people see him in the grocery store shouting at larger ladies that they have big butts or pitching a fit about donuts, I’m guessing people assume I left him to be raised by wolves.

This child has bruised my pride, makes me laugh, loves me fiercely and overwhelms my soul. He forces me to rethink everything: parenting, relationships, myself. I’ve had to ask myself a lot of tough questions. I have been challenged by this little boy whose grenade-like personality keeps me wondering what will be left of me when I pull the pin.

But I want to know him and understand him. With my daughter, I knew I could take her anywhere, she would eat anything and she always did what she was told. With my son, I’m constantly considering a myriad of factors that could make or break his day.

I have had to put myself in his little shoes quite often and try my best to imagine how truly odd, frustrating, exciting and new his life must be. How surreal it must be to live in a place where nearly everyone is twice your size, new experiences and change happen daily and your tiny body is always too small for your oversized zest for life. I don’t want to simply chalk up his bad behavior to being a brat because as untamed as his temper seems at times, he also loves just as wildly. Yes, kids are sometimes just naughty and often they just want what they want. But I want to understand what makes my boy tick so I can empathize and delight in his little world with him.

I’m glad to report that he is more often than not, a fun, well-behaved kid. But his stubbornness and reckless emotions have most definitely pushed me to my limits. I have to admit, there have been days that I’ve relished evil daydreams about leaving him at home with the Disney channel on, a giant bowl of goldfish crackers, a case of juice boxes and then madly peeling out of the driveway in my sensible gray sedan leaving stress in a cloud of smoke far behind me. Honestly, the only thing that has kept me from strangling or completely ignoring him during chaotic seasons is being prepared.

I prepare myself with prayer and bible time. I read articles and books about parenting little boys. I ask questions, share my frustrations with people I trust, I lean on my husband and don’t try to figure everything out on my own. I don’t just hope that my son will be loved and turn out well, I plan for it. And even though  I’ve done all my homework, and listened to every guru, I place it all in God’s capable hands and trust that He will inspire me, lead me and fill in every gap I’ve unwittingly left open.

My son isn’t the first and he isn’t going to be the last person that will challenge me. There will always be a relationship that requires more energy and preparation than others. Some people are hard to understand, many fail us habitually and some are just difficult to love.

Choosing to pursue and fully love my crazy boy has opened a new door for me. I find myself more sympathetic, more patient and generally more ready to delve into the work that loving people can be. If we just ignore or punish people for being more complicated or needy than we’re used to then we’re writing a lot of people off, including ourselves.

It’s not easy and I have a lot to learn, but I trust that God will bless my efforts and give me exactly enough joy, strength and energy to get through. When my son places his soft dimpled hand into mine and he tells me with warm brown eyes that he loves me, it reminds me that these moments are the reason I press on.

Angie Derrick 9/20/2012 ©

Give Me the Dirt

Like a lot of people, I have often wondered what Jesus wrote in the dirt the day that religious leaders brought an adulterous woman before him to be stoned. No one knows what he wrote, it looks like no one in the story reacted to what he wrote and Jesus didn’t call attention to what he wrote. As the scene escalated before him, Jesus calm and in command, wrote; dragging lines in the dirt that could soon bury a woman and her sins.

We all love the part where Jesus tells the self-righteous accusers that the one without sin should throw the first stone. But what really intrigues me is the dirt.

Dirt is malleable, easily washed away and fragile enough to crumble between one’s fingers. In the right hands, dirt can be a source of live-giving beauty and joy. Otherwise it’s just grit to be cleaned.

From the dust of the ground the first man was created. Dirt that coated Jesus’ feet was gently washed away by the tears and hair of a sinful woman. With dirt and saliva a blind man was healed when Jesus covered the man’s eyes with the mud. On a dirt floor Jesus wrote a message.

Who would have ever guessed a handful of mud would change a man’s life? To what glorious end did scrawling in the dirt lead?

Like that dirt canvas Jesus can wipe clean and rewrite our lives, unruffled and in control in the face of our accusers. From the dust that was once our mess, God can mold a new person. Though sins seek to trample us into the ground he steps in to offer hope and a new beginning smoothed by his own hand.

Angie D 6/18/2012 ©

50 Shades of Red

I’m not as easily embarrassed as I used to be. I’m not exactly a devil-may-care type either, but I’ve come a long way. When I was a little kid, I didn’t learn to swim because I was so self-conscious of my portly figure, I refused to go to lessons. I cried and cried until my parents gave up because it was too stressful and frankly too difficult to heft my chunky body into the car without my consent. Now that I’m an adult, I will wear a tankini and boy shorts even though my legs still have that puffy, stuck together look that cookies get when you greedily scoop bigger spoonfuls of dough than you’re supposed to because one inch balls sound like woefully undersized cookies.

My mother, on the other hand is an open book – well, maybe more like an open library where no subject is declined or off limits. She feels no shame or inhibitions about sharing anything about herself. Whether it’s announcing to the worship team at church that she may or may not feel up to being at the next practice because she is scheduled for a colonoscopy that day, or laughing at herself uproariously while telling everyone that she accidentally walked into the men’s room last Sunday, she doesn’t hesitate to bare all. My mother is not afraid that people will shun her. She doesn’t fear rejection because she believes she is lovable and truly liked.

The love that God, friends and family have invested in my mother have erased any self-doubt and compels her to live out loud and as herself. I too have the support and love of God, friends and family. But if I am honest, any hesitation on my part is my refusal at times to believe in the love that’s been offered.

It’s not without reason that I’ve been reluctant: kids made fun of my chubbiness, people that said they’d be there for me when my dad died weren’t, people that promised to keep my secrets when my first husband was cheating on me didn’t. I have felt many times in my life that my personal garbage was set on the roadside with a “free” sign.

People failed me and caused a lot of distrust, made me guarded. I know I’m not the only one. Who knows your oldest, deepest secrets? Who do you share your happy moments and vulnerable feelings with? Don’t be the friend that no one really knows. Don’t let your favorite color, coffee drink and benign little tidbits of your life be the only parts of your life you’ll share.

When you hold back your true self from people, you will get the same in return. It makes for very shallow, brief relationships. Be yourself, share your heart.  I can’t guarantee that it won’t include some heartache; even Jesus was betrayed by a friend in his inner circle and other friends and family failed him as well. But I don’t see any evidence in the bible to support allowing past hurts to justify cynicism and holding people at arm’s length.

Quite the contrary, the bible holds nothing back. There is no detail too personal or too gritty. The scandals that stain the pages of God’s Word have been penned in the blackest, most permanent ink. Yet the miracles and hope that leap from the words will live on for eternity. Everything we want to know about the character and personality of the God who is our father, friend and Lord is laid out without apology or hesitation – He wants to be known and know us in return.

If you want to know how to befriend and love purely and willingly, be His friend. If you want to live honestly and unmasked, follow His example. If you need faith to accept that it will all turn out ok, read His Word. God is not easily shocked or embarrassed by anything we do and he’s seen it all. Don’t let your hang-ups and past hold you back from enjoying your life, relationships or who God created you to be.

Angie D 6/15/12 ©

Confessions of a Party-Pooper: Why There Needs to Be More of Us

I am often amazed by people that can just walk up to a stranger, introduce themselves and start chatting away like long lost friends; the effortlessness in making friends, their winning smile and the ease with which they navigate spontaneous conversation.

I am terrible at this. To me, plucking an engaging conversation out of thin air is an elusive and exotic art, like sleight of hand or contortionism. As long as the new person I’m talking to is a “talker”, I’m ok. But as soon as the first wave of uncomfortable silence freezes the air, I’m ruined. I start asking too many questions (none of them interesting), and filling in the gaps with words I don’t mean like feigning enthusiasm for Pinterest when I really don’t care about the versatile and noteworthy qualities of a Mason jar.

This is why I love to write. I can think about what I’m going to say. I can edit, delete and rephrase as needed and proofread over and over.

When talking to people, I am not afforded these adjustments. As soon as words stumble out of my mouth, I can’t reclaim inane statements, can’t redeem awkward silence that snuffs out any potential sparks of conversation once it stifles the air.

Then there’s this: I’ve been told many times throughout my life that I’m intimidating. When I was a little kid, it was due to the angrily arched brows that streaked my face like furry black exclamation points.

Now that my eyebrows are under control, I’m pretty sure my “thinking face” and reserved body language are to blame. But my disapproving brows and pursed lips are not in fact saying, “You’re an idiot”, but rather “I don’t know what to say.”

I am not like the previously mentioned super humans that can forge a friendship within two minutes of being introduced. These social athletes are Olympic caliber, they are cool. They wear skinny jeans and bowties, they know all the latest hash tags and slang – they leave smiles and rainbows in their wake. I think in even the most glowing appraisals of my personality, the word “cool” is never used. But that’s okay with me, because honestly, I think there are more people like me than cool people.

I think so many of us want what the cool people have and try to be what is not naturally within us because we think it’s the only way to make friends, the only way to make a difference. It’s often true in the natural world – to catch fish you need something shiny. But some of us aren’t sparkly and our personalities don’t glitter like others do.

But just think about those moments when you found someone as awkward, unpolished and complicated as yourself. It was a delicious moment and you couldn’t believe that there were people that felt and acted like you. That kind of bond doesn’t come through acting, it comes by being true.

It took a long time for me to get this, but this is why I don’t need anyone to think I’m put together. I prefer persistent, unhindered, open honesty. About what we’re really like, what we’re really thinking and what’s really important to us.

Authenticity is so important. It’s more than just a corny afterschool special to “be true to yourself”. It is about believing God created you with specific traits and allowed certain experiences so that you can befriend and help someone else in a way that no one else can.

To try to emulate someone else is to reject what God created you to be and to dismiss your calling. You have been created specifically and intentionally. You were made with strengths that make you suited to a certain type of friend, spouse, job, ministry and influence.

I may never be a sought-after leader with people clamoring to be my friend, and people may never think I’m cool, but I don’t want anyone to ever doubt I’m real.

Angie D 6/11/12 ©

Goody-Two-Shoes Got Pregnant: Portrait of a Christian Girl

I was nineteen and unmarried when I got pregnant with my daughter. As people in church began to find out that I was pregnant, there was one reaction in particular that I’ll never forget.

“Wow! Goody-two-shoes got pregnant! I never thought you had it in you,” was the almost impressed reply.

I really think this response summarized what a lot of people were thinking: I may have been self-controlled and pious on the outside, but based on this recent news, I was probably just a wild child waiting to be loosed. They probably assumed I was one of those “still waters run deep” cases where no one really ought to be surprised if they were paying any attention.

But nothing could have been further from the truth. I wasn’t attention-seeking, wild, promiscuous, or even in love. Nothing that was the typical titillating fodder of church gossip could explain why a nice christian girl like me with apparently sincere beliefs would end up falling so hard and so publically.

When I look back at what took me to that point of throwing caution and my convictions to the wind, I remember some growing feelings:

I was exhausted. My dad died halfway through my sophomore year in high school. Only one week after my dad’s funeral I dove into thirty grueling months of zero hour, after school classes, summer school, some evening classes at the community college and even piano lessons. I had to complete four years of school in just two and a half because I was homeschooled while dad was sick. I needed to help take care of my baby sisters. And I needed to spend every possible minute that I had left with my dad. I had a lot to catch up on and very little sleep to keep me going.

I was alone. I had friends and family, but I was alone with my feelings. I didn’t have anyone I could share my sadness, frustrations, fears or secrets with that understood or had the maturity to support me through what I was experiencing. Not willing to be the party-pooper or a “burden” to anyone, I kept most of my feelings to myself.

I was numb. Three and a half years of watching your father writhe in pain and lose his mind will do that to you. Seeing my mother lose weight, sleep and the love of her life to the soundtrack of crying babies that ached for her but had to settle for me will wring tears dry. Then there were all my own fears and hurts that scraped across my heart so many times that any feeling was lost to survival.

No one just throws away their life, their beliefs, their dreams and goals freely with both hands. It’s wrenched from them. Wrestled away, not in one instance, but over time by insecurity, betrayal, pain, confusion, fear, loss; and then one day you just can’t fight back anymore and you give it all away.

Then you’re left with nothing and you want something. You want to feel alive even if it’s all wrong. It’s in that vulnerable state that you do and accept things you wouldn’t have before.

And indeed, a lot of things went wrong, not all of them my fault. I let myself get buried in my pain when I should have been reaching out for help. I chose to be led by my needs and not my God. I made bad decisions. But I also really needed people to surround me with persistent friendship, support and prayer; to remind me when I was too tired to think that I was loved and my God was able to meet all my needs.

We are not meant to live or struggle alone. God created family, friendship, love. Jesus had disciples, and even God is a triune being. Never miss an opportunity to feed, comfort, support, love, listen, protect or befriend. Your presence can make a difference in someone’s life. Your kindness could be the strength someone needs to claw out of the rubble and clasp God’s hand.

Angie D 6/7/12 ©

Strong Like Samson

Dinnertime at my house growing up was always the best time of day. Mom would make some sinfully delicious meal oozing comfort and butter, but my dad’s stories were always the showcase of the evening. I remember my dad telling my siblings and me stories about his childhood and somehow he could share the most disturbing incidents from his life with humor and without a trace of anger or resentment.

He told us about how he ran through his neighborhood as a little kid and tripped and fell on jagged shards of glass and slashed his soft belly. He had a smooth, raised scar like melted plastic right beside his navel to prove it. It was about six inches long and as wide as one inch at the thickest point. His parents were dirt poor and rather than take him to a clinic, they poured gasoline on the wound to cleanse it.

I remember hearing this as a child absolutely horrified that anyone would do such a thing. It was barbaric and nonsensical – didn’t everyone know you’re supposed to go to the doctor for things like that? Didn’t they know they were hurting him?

But my dad’s parents did all kinds of things with little regard for his life. With no thought to the kind of person they were developing. They beat him, they emotionally tormented him. Things like locking him up on Christmas day for some insignificant offense and turning a deaf ear to his screams to be let out, his desperate promises to be a good little boy and his day-long sobbing.

Yet somehow, my dad always had us laughing. His retelling of his life was animated and full of hilarious impersonations and audacious details, but his suffering was merely a footnote. The way he recounted these tales, you almost forgot that a tender young child was being broken as the story unfolded.

I understand that now that I’m older. I also realize more and more that my dad’s resilience was extraordinary. Many who survive a childhood as painful as my father’s end up drug addicts, victims of chronic depression or turn into abusers themselves. My father was nowhere near perfect, but you would have never guessed that he lived through so much hurt.

He was so strong, so confident despite all the things that threatened to finish him. He was born that way, just naturally solid, even before he knew Jesus. But rather than rely on the inherent strength that sustained him for so long, he readily gave that all up for the love, power and effectiveness that he gained through Jesus.

I struggle with that….a lot. I’ve never suffered quite like my dad, though I’ve had my share of ugliness and misery. But I don’t give up my power as easily as he did. Instead I find myself being a lot like Samson in the bible, living off of God-given strength, using it as I please and congratulating myself on my cleverness.

I know that it will not bode well for me if I leave this pride unchecked. Samson reminds me of this.

One of the saddest verses in the bible comes from Samson’s story. He had long taken his strength for granted and began to believe it was all his. Then in his most foolish move, he allowed himself to be manipulated into sharing his most sacred secret and was shaved, betrayed and overpowered.  Samson, however, didn’t know this and woke up to attackers thinking he would shake free and come out strong as he always did.

Not so. The bible says in Judges 16:20, “But he did not know that the Lord had left him.”

What a tragedy. To be so deluded and calloused by your own power that you no longer seek or sense God’s presence.

How many times have I done something by my own might and just assumed God was going to come along and help me fulfill my agenda? How many times will I trade in his presence for my plans?

There is much to learn from Samson’s story. But what has sprung from the pages is that there is hope for even the most out of control pride, person and circumstances. God is not stumped by our recklessness.

Just as it started to look like Samson was useless and ruined, God used him in a final dramatic blow to the Philistines. Humbled and blind, Samson with one faith-filled heave pushed down the columns that supported the temple of a pagan god. Surrounded by drunken revelry, his last words were, “Let me die with the Philistines,” (Judges 16:30).

Like Samson, I have some pillars in my own life that need a good shove. I need my old self to die and those ugly qualities to be crushed along with it. I need to be humbled and blind to everything but God’s will and grace to let it all go.

I thank God that his mercy and goodness never run out. I thank God that I have my dad’s example and my Heavenly Father’s grace to help me turn my failings into a story where God’s life-giving joy is the highlight and my negativity is an afterthought.

Angie D 6/1/12 ©

Who Are You Fighting For?

I have no idea what it’s like to send a husband, boyfriend, mother, sister, cousin, friend, or anyone off to war.

My family doesn’t have much of a history of military involvement; almost none, actually. My brother was in the coast guard and only one of my five uncles was in the army but neither experienced any portion of any war. Other than that, between my mother and father’s side, that’s it.

I can’t imagine what it’s like to spend those last few minutes with your loved one, trying to make every second count, hoping you did and said everything to preserve the brightest memory of home for your soldier to carry with them into the frenzy of war.

I’m sure there’s no pat answer for why people choose to go to war. Maybe it’s the adventure, a sense of purpose or fulfilling a duty that compels these men and women to act. Whatever the reason, the risks and the cost are high.

My guess is that many who join the armed forces believe that something needs to change, that too many lives are at stake and they can help.

Whether you believe in the reasons for war, or feel there is never a just cause, I’m sure you’ll agree with me on this: there will always be a reason to fight.

So let’s fight hunger. Fight abuse. Fight hate and discrimination. Fight family brokenness, bullying, poverty and disease.

Fight apathy.

When was the last time that injustice caused your blood to boil? How many times have you read a headline about the vicious torture of animals, a cold and calculated murder, the heartless neglect of a child, or even the suicide of a celebrity that we believed had it all, only to discover too late that they had nothing to live for? How many times have we gleaned through the news and just thought, man that sucks, and then went on with our day?

As Christians, we are called to act, serve and sacrifice our lives for others. We aren’t supposed to just handpick the people we help based on their use to us. On the contrary, the bible tells us we are to love our enemies, feed the poor, care for widows and children – in biblical terms that means giving to those that may never have the means to give back.

I respect the conviction, even if I don’t agree with the motivation, of people that are willing to fight for others.

Those of us that follow Jesus have much reason to fight: this world is hungry, hurting and aching for unconditional, perfect Love. With Jesus as our strength and guide, nothing should stop us from aiding and loving the world we live in. Many will never agree with us that Jesus is the only way to heaven, but they will not be able to deny the presence of his love if we have the courage to share it.

Angie D 5/28/12 ©

The Problem With Perfect Children

Have you ever met parents that think everything their kids do is brilliant? That they are the most beautiful, most talented and most flawlessly created specimens of humankind?

I guess you could argue that all parents should feel that way – about their own kids. These aforementioned parents seem convinced that their feelings are in fact common knowledge and that everyone should agree.

Parents like this brag about their child’s prodigious potty training debut and carry on their wild applause of every plunk into the bucket junior makes forever after, even into adulthood.

While I think being proud and head-over-heels in love with your kids is wonderful, sometimes I think parents are blindly devoted and only believe in the superiority of their kids. But does it really do your kids any good to believe they are perfect and always the best?

Maybe my children just aren’t as well-behaved as some, but it doesn’t take very long before they do something to disrupt any fantasies of so-called “perfection”.

My preschool son is not very easy to be around sometimes. He is cautious and slow to make transitions so in many instances when there isn’t time for a warning or countdown to the next item on the agenda, he freaks out to varying degrees. Sometimes it’s just a few minutes of whining and other times it is a full-on meltdown with deep, hiccupping sobs. The escalation from mild disappointment to crumpling on the floor, crying and rolling around inconsolably happens in the blink of an eye. One moment I’m telling him that we won’t be buying corndogs when we go to the grocery store and the next moment I am practically talking him down from a ledge and reminding him that he has the rest of his life ahead of him with plenty of chances to eat corndogs.

Mostly he is sweet and thoughtful; he loves to sing, make up dances, races his cars and plastic horses. But when he is in a foul mood, it feels like I’m being punished.

Right now he’s thirty-eight pounds of fiery emotion and still manageable. But what the future holds, I have no idea. Will loving him be a difficult task?

I think of how even God deals with badly behaved children. Even when presented with the greatest gifts and most extravagant affection his children still act out and fight his love tooth and nail. All throughout the bible you’ll see that he never seems to mince words about their behavior or the consequences. Yet you’ll also see that he looks at his children’s imperfections full in the face and chooses to offer love, forgiveness and direction.

I don’t want to lie to my children and make them believe they are better than everyone else. I don’t want to inflate them with pride and make extending grace a chore. I want to follow God’s example and lovingly guide them through their weaknesses and use them as opportunities to foster empathy and patience within them. I’d rather let my children feel imperfect once in a while so that they look up to a gracious God for help than to set them atop a pedestal, only to look down.

 

Angie D 5/25/12 ©

Learning From My Deeply Flawed Mother

My mom would be the first to tell you that she’s made a lot of mistakes as a mother.

There have been many times in my life I wondered why she didn’t protect me, encourage me, comfort me or know me. I think we all ask our moms those pointed questions, whether it’s whispered in the back of our minds or voiced aloud in strained tones.

I fully expect that my kids will have lots of hard questions for me and try as I may to be the perfect mom, I will fail them many times.

But while imperfection is the lot of all humans, letting God’s light shine through the cracks in our character is an opportunity we all share.

When my dad was sick with cancer, I watched my mother transform. Normally indecisive, light-hearted and a most bubbly extrovert, my mother became our rock.

Strength doesn’t come naturally to my mom. That was my dad’s job; he was the firm one, he was the decision-maker, the unwavering one. His confidence made my siblings and I believe that no villain, disease or calamity would ever dare to darken our doorstep.

But then dad got sick and it became mom’s turn to make us feel safe, and honestly, she didn’t have it in her. Ask her and she will tell you that the strength she had to care for five kids and a sick husband for three and a half years took supernatural power from God.

It took supernatural energy to bathe and dress my father, to administer his round-the-clock doses of medication and still be a mother to four kids and a newborn.

It took incredible strength to watch my dad suffer excruciating pain and keep praying.

It took profound reliance on God to be her source of love and security. Cancer didn’t just destroy my father’s body, it stole his spirit. I can’t imagine how especially difficult that must have been for my mom.

You see, my dad absolutely adored my mother. He showered her with gifts every occasion that called for it and was extravagant with his compliments, always telling us that we had the most beautiful mother in the world. I can’t fathom how heart-wrenching it must have been to care for a man that could no longer give that kind of love to her and often forgot who she was.

Despite her painful and lonely circumstances, I remember my mother’s joy. She wasn’t falling apart or filling the gaping holes in her life with quick fixes. She let God be her everything: father, husband, friend and savior – and in Him she lacked nothing.

I’ve known people in similar situations that felt so tired and alone that they had affairs or turned to drugs and destructive behavior to find relief from their misery. But mom never did that, even though she could have done all those things and my dad would have never known because his mind and body were so helpless and deteriorated.

While I could easily make a list of my mom’s faults, nothing compares to her example of whole-hearted faith and explicit trust in God. When I think of my mother, I think of how God took a deeply flawed woman, riddled with holes and cracks from the blows life has dealt, and shined his light through her. She didn’t patch those holes or seal any visible cracks, she gave it all to God and he made her a beacon.

I am so thankful for my mother’s example. My prayer is that I too would have that kind of faith in my savior so that when my kids see brokenness in my life, they will just watch for God’s light to burst through.

 

Angie D 5/21/12 ©


  • I believe in Jesus, loving people, living fully and creating good things. Whether it's art, food or finding solutions, I am always in "creative mode". With this blog I hope to encourage and help others to live in whatever "mode" God has called them to.

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