Today was Luke’s birthday party. In the past, I have experienced much anxiety over gatherings that involved more than, say, the four of us. But this year I am changing. This year I am learning to relax and enjoy the moment. Enjoy the people. And today I had a great opportunity to put that new lesson into practice. Luke was joined by wonderful friends and they played games (thanks Sarah!) and opened presents (Luke’s favorite), and even ate some ice cream and cake (thanks Daddy). The celebration didn’t look at all like what I had expected a few weeks ago, but I let go of those expectations and it all worked out. Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time, and no one left crying. I think I might even have the courage to do it again when the next birthday rolls around!
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 says “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed. Perplexed, but not despairing. Persecuted, but not forsaken. Struck down, but not destroyed.”
Verse 16 goes on to say, “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”
It’s true, I feel pretty crummy on the outside. I feel like a decaying clay jar. Cracked and dirty, beyond repair. We all have our ailments. Just today I found out a friend of mine is mostly deaf in one ear. I have many friends with MS. I have another dear friend who is dying of ALS. But let’s be real. We’re all getting older, we are all headed for the grave sooner or later. And yet, this is just temporary. Life on this physical earth is so short compared to the eternity in heaven promised to those who believe. And if that gift wasn’t good enough, God assures us that while our physical bodies decay here on earth, our spirits – our inner bodies – are being continually renewed and storing up glory for future redemption. As my spirit is being renewed, I am storing up treasures in heaven. It’s an investment with a guaranteed return.
I think most of all, these verses remind me that while I feel stuck in a crummy, helpless situation, God can still use me for good. And certainly, if any good comes from me, I can take no credit. I’m just a clay pot, remember? If the wine tastes good, you know who made it.
The Lord says, “Today I declare that I will restore to you double.”
– Zechariah 9:12 (NRSV)
This was the verse in today’s devotional from The Upper Room. As we often experience loss in life, God’s desire is for restoration. He wants to give us more than we have lost. My husband and I struggled with infertility for seven years. But now we have an amazing son (turned 7 today) AND a daughter. They are both amazing, and miraculous. A double blessing, when we thought for years we couldn’t have any.
I lost my hearing last August, and some vision a month later in September. I just received my first cochlear implant last week, and in June it will be activated. In June, I will be hearing again! Becoming deaf was a huge loss, but the lessons I have learned through it and the life it has brought me to are huge blessings. Blessings I wouldn’t trade for anything.
My vision has improved slightly, but not enough to allow me to drive again. This has been quite a loss, one I’m not too proud to admit I am angered over. (Just now, as I read this, it occurs to me that perhaps God is angry over it too. Angry that He had to let it happen. Food for thought, but I know there is a divine purpose in here somewhere.) God knows how I feel. Yet God knows that even in my anger, I still praise Him and serve Him with all that I am. And I am holding to the promise He gave, that He is fighting for me, and that I will be healed.
Life comes with all sorts of heartaches and disappointments, but it also comes with great blessings and JOY. I have come to learn the beauty and joy in focusing on the positive, on the gifts we are given each day. Carpe Diem!!
Yesterday was post-surgery day 6. I did get a bath earlier this week, but haven’t washed my hair since the morning of the surgery. I’m not supposed to get the incision area wet, so it’s quite a challenge, and nearly impossible to do on my own. I had not expected to be able to wash it until next Monday after I see the surgeon for follow-up (note that is one day after my son’s birthday party).
So when my dear husband offered to wash it for me, I jumped at the chance (not literally of course, given my restrictions). So I washed myself up in the bathtub and then Mike came in and very carefully, yet thoroughly, washed my hair. When your spouse is willing to help you bathe yourself, it makes it crystal clear why your marriage has lasted as long as it has.
I’m still in surgery recovery mode, and still doing well. I’m not in much pain at all, with the exception of the sharp pain that keeps repeating in my ear. The pain meds keep it tolerable, and the nurse said it sounds normal, so I’m not too worried about it. Someone told me the other day that the pain means it’s healing. That doesn’t make any sense to me, but I’ll take it.
My son is turning 7 on Saturday. He is so stinkin’ excited. He’s been counting down the days for at least a week. Probably secretly even longer. We are having a simple party here at home. Since next weekend is Memorial Day weekend, and Saturday the kids have soccer games, Sunday is the day. And yes, I know that’s a tad ambitious given my recent surgery and the fact that I can’t really do much to help, but we wanted to give him a party, and we wanted it to be near the actual day of his birthday. So there it is. Someone called me a daredevil for having a party at home so soon after surgery, but the thing is, I’m not really doing any of the work! Mike is outsourcing the cake (which made me horribly sad at first when I realized I could not make what Luke wanted), and a friend of mine has insisted that she is coming over tomorrow to clean our house, and another friend volunteered to come up with games and keep the kids entertained at the party. Mike set the time of the party for 3 pm, so we don’t even need to feed anyone dinner. Just cake and ice cream. And if it doesn’t rain, the kids can all play outside, so we’re delegating the weather to God. Delegation! What a beautiful word. It’s a strategy I’ve used plenty in the past when I did a lot of volunteering, but don’t get much chance to use it now.