More Than I Can Handle


more than i can handleSo I know this isn’t any kind of newsflash for you, but life is hard.

When we’re growing up, we imagine how our lives might be.  I was one of those realistic kids.  I’d seen my mom, in particular, overcome some tremendous hardships in her life.  I knew that life would have its ups and downs.

I knew that chances were high that we might struggle with jobs or finances or kids or our health.

I guess even with all my realism, I didn’t really expect to struggle with all of them.  At the same time. We are very blessed in many ways.  I know that and I’m very grateful for each and every one. But so many times, even with all our blessings, it can all seem completely overwhelming.

“Oh honey. Bless your heart. Remember God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.”

We’ve all heard that, right?

Well guess what?

It’s crap.

God gives us more than we can handle all the time.

One day a few years ago, when both of our cars were falling apart and the bank account was in the red and my RA was flaring and we seemed to run out of everything at once and autism had me out behind the woodshed again and Jake was gone 24/7 for school, I found myself sobbing on the floor in the kitchen.

Overwhelmed.

Broken.

It was more than I could handle.

And I sat on the kitchen floor and I cried out to God for help. For mercy. For comfort. For peace.

And that’s when I (eventually) realized that, of course, this is more than I can handle. I was never meant to handle it alone. It was time for me to humble myself and admit that I couldn’t do this on my own.

I hope you’re not thinking that this story ends here with my admission suddenly causing things to magically fall into place and bring about a sudden reward for having learned my lesson. Maybe it happens that way in the movies. Not in real life.

I begged God for some kind of encouragement or special word that would show me that He heard my desperate appeal.

It didn’t happen that way. Instead? Different Bible verses popped into my head. Scripture that talked about God’s promises of peace, hope and His plan for our lives. But still…Instead of me suddenly feeling all better with the warm fuzzies, it was more like if I repeated them enough, they would eventually take root.

I realized this was one of those times when my faith is shown by choosing to believe it. Even when I don’t necessarily feel it. And I was reminded that one of the reasons I need to study the Word is so those promises and reassurances are somewhere in my stressed-out brain when I find myself overwhelmed and broken.

I love this song by BarlowGirl that says, “I cry out with no reply and I can’t feel you by my side so I’ll hold tight to what I know…You’re here and I’m never alone.”

Faith isn’t always about feelings. It’s about choosing to believe even when (especially when?) those feelings aren’t there.

I don’t have it all figured out. One thing I’ve learned for sure is that we’re never done learning.

“I don’t know how you do it.”

That’s another one that I’ve heard quite a bit. And the truth is that I don’t do it. I couldn’t possibly. Not by myself.

I hope this post hasn’t come across as preachy because that’s not how it’s meant and I’m definitely in no position to preach. I just hope it might possibly be a small encouragement to someone else who might find herself sobbing on the kitchen floor.

If that’s you today, take a few minutes to listen to this song and breathe. Because no matter how strong we are, we’ll never be strong enough to do this whole life thing on our own.  And we don’t have to be.

 

Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Refined and Renewed

Many families facing various challenges will hear things like: “I don’t know how you do it” or “I could never handle it so well” or “You guys are superheroes.”

While I’m not saying there aren’t days when I feel like someone should hand over a cape, the truth is?  We don’t do it.  We can’t handle it.  We aren’t the superheroes in our stories.

God does.  God can.  God is.

I’m frequently reminded of our utter dependence on God and that no one said life would be easy.  I always think of this post from New Year’s Day 2011 and remember that, three years later, I’m still learning to be grateful for the refining process.

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(The following post was originally published at my previous blog, Stinker Babies.)

Is it possible to sum up 365 days with just one word? Or to wrap up all your hopes, dreams and desires for an entire year into a neat and tiny one-word package? We’ll see. I’m going to try my best!

I’ve already posted about my lack of tears over seeing 2010 finally draw to a close. It was not an easy year to get through.

Jake hit the ground running with nursing school. Between studying, class, working, clinicals, and more studying, he was gone pretty much all the time. Sometimes, I would wake up at 3:30 am just to make sure he had come home. At one point, we found ourselves explaining Caleb’s statement, “My daddy is not at my house anymore.” Ouch.

School alone might have been enough to make this year interesting. But we were really on our toes when it came to figuring out Caleb.

For the last nine months, we suspected, denied, suspected again, advocated, waited, learned, and waited some more. Eventually, just before Christmas, we received a diagnosis of autism for our sweet boy.

Add Mama’s fatigue due to a dying thyroid, Grace entering the Terrible Twos, and learning that Daddy will be in school an entire year longer than we anticipated. I am not going to lie. It was entirely overwhelming at times.

So what word would I use to sum up the craziness that was 2010?

Refine.

According to ehow.com, refining silver is necessary in order to separate the pure silver from the dross. The process includes such pleasantries as nitric acid and being heated to 1200 degrees Celsius. Ouch.



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God never promised that following him would be easy.

We all go through times in our lives when we are pruned and refined. I’m learning to be thankful for those times. It means that God still finds me worth improving. It means that I still have a role to play, small as it may be, in His plan. That’s very humbling.

So after a year like 2010, what word would sum up my hope for 2011?

Renew.



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This is our prayer. We pray with confidence because we choose to believe His promises.

“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.” – Titus 3:4-6

Amen.

 

Flight Lessons

The unmistakable smell of jet fuel hit my nose and I immediately felt the cold sweat break out across my forehead.  There was something stuck to the wheel of my suitcase that created a rhythmic whirring as I rolled across the dark parking lot.  I tried to match my breathing to the sound, but my pulse wasn’t as cooperative.  It seemed to speed up with each step.  Despite the predawn hour, our little regional airport was already bustling with activity.  By the time I made it through the sliding doors, my head was spinning.

This was happening.

I waited in the security line, trying to keep up the appearance of being an active listener to my new friend.  What was actually going on in my mind – about a thousand and one things that could go wrong in the next 20 minutes.  What if my bag was too big?  What if I was wrong about the allowed liquids?  What if I didn’t make it through security?  What if I didn’t have a seat?  What if had a complete and total breakdown in front of all these strangers?

There was no backing out.  I was getting on this plane and I was flying to Kansas City for the weekend of a lifetime.  And I was going to do it no matter how terrified I was to fly.

From my seat near Gate B7, I stared at this seemingly tiny jet and watched the pilot through the window as he checked gauges and turned dials and did whatever pilots do before they take off.  He gulped some coffee from a cup.  “Yes sir,” I thought.  “Drink up!”

As we began to board the plane, I walked down the tunnel with all the enthusiasm of a death march.  Just before I walked through the little door, I placed my right hand on the cold surface of the plane and whispered a desperate prayer.

In the blink of an eye, the flight attendants were in their seats and we were zooming down the runway.  I felt my body sink into my seat as we defied gravity and left the ground.  My eyes shut tight as my lips moved over the words of Romans 15:13.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

When my ears popped for the last time and the plane leveled out, I managed to squint my left eye open a tiny bit.  And this is what I saw…

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Seeing the sunrise from 30,000 feet just took my breath away.  For the rest of the flight, I was completely fascinated by my view from the tiny window.  When I had my moments of wishing my husband was there with me to hold my hand, I felt God whisper to my spirit, “Not this time.  This time is just for you and me.  We’re going to do this together.”

I had no choice but to rely on God.  I went to him with my fear.  I went to him for comfort.  His words calmed my spirit.

How many times in my life have I seen this?  When all is stripped away, when there are no other options offered by this world, when I just can’t do it on my own.  Those are the times when I am closest to him.  When I’m desperate to grab hold of him.

And he is always there.  Again.  And again.  And again.

He is faithful.

When the jobs are lost.  When the bank account is in the red.  When the diagnoses come.  When I am feeling lost and alone.

He is with me.

Now.  Did I still jump two feet when the landing gear popped open?  Of course, I did.  Much to the amusement of my neighbors.  But I am holding tight to those lessons I learned and I’m taking them with me.  Now when I see that streak of white against the blue sky, I smile and remember that sweet time I was able to spend one-on-one with my Father.

Glory.
Glory.