Monday, April 11, 2016

Press On

This morning I woke up with a heavy heart, missing my mom. I hadn't picked up Jesus Calling since January. My sister would read it to us & my mom during those last 3 weeks. It and My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers were the 2 devotionals my mom read everyday.

I decided to pick mine up this morning instead of my usual study. I also decided that instead of using homework & bible study homework as my quiet time, I would start reading through Philippians. Today's Jesus Calling spoke about not looking back or forward, but how to enjoy abundant life in His presence today & the best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Him for them. Yes. Thank Him. Even when it hurts. Ouch. To rejoice for today.

But then the scripture reference...was the exact scripture I read at my mom's service. Phil 3:13-14. I snapped this picture & realized later that it had green in it. I wore green (her favorite color) at my mom's service. I have no idea where the green came from.  

A year ago today, I had just arrived in Costa Rica for my first mission trip which is the coffee cup I grabbed this morning. Getting on the plane to CR was a huge test for me. My mom was in the hospital with a very serious infection and I heard Him clearly tell me, "you get on that plane." I had waffled back & forth if I would actually go on the trip. My mom insisted I go, but I feared if something would happen while I was gone. My friend/pastor assured me that we'd be close to the airport & if I needed to fly back, they'd get me on a plane asap.

It was a last minute decision if I would meet the rest of the group at the airport. My mom never wanted our lives to stop because of her illness, but let's get real- it's hard living "normal life" (whatever that is) when you think your mom could die. She said one of the things she always wanted to do was go on an international mission trip & she didn't want me to miss out. She wanted to live the experience through me...but yet I thought about what if something happens & I'm in another country.

I knew it was a test. A test, that I trusted God enough to get on that plane. That He had it handled. I'll never forget when I came into Houston Friday evening and went to MD Anderson to see my mom. She had just taken a shower, hair still wet. She loved & almost always showered before she went to bed. She had a light blue nightgown on that went to her ankles. She was sitting in a chair with her laptop in her lap. My brother on the couch next to her. She had the biggest smile. She looked like nothing was wrong. Like she was well. Healthy. She had just spent 5 days in the hospital. I'll never forget her sweet smile & face beaming when we walked into her room.

The best part was my friend/pastor told the rest of our group how well my mom doing, even after having Ebola. Hahaha! She had e.coli. but it gave us all a good laugh!

The next morning, my dad and Allen drove us all to the airport and saw us off. While waiting to board the plane, I got a text saying they were discharging my mom that day. Home.

I boarded that plane and looked out the window in awe of Him. The trip to Costa Rica was unforgettable experience. One I'll never forget and one that stirred my heart in so many ways.

Actually last April was an unbelievable month for me. So many good things. I spent less than 10 days at home. I went to Costa Rica then Galveston then Marble Falls/Fredricksburg and spent lots of time in Houston for Easter & my mom's birthday.

When they say so much can change in a year, they aren't kidding. This April doesn't have fun, exciting trips. And it will be first time I physically won't be able to celebrate with my mom on her birthday.

I want to be sad and I am but what better place to have a birthday than Heaven? I am certain calories don't count there.

While I am incredibly sad and at times the grief feels so heavy, I am so thankful for glimpses of His glory like this morning. For His faithfulness. For how He takes every detail into account. For how He loves us- even when I question or doubt His sovereignty and goodness. For the promise of Heaven because of His sacrifice on the Cross.

Took this picture at the base of La Paz waterfalls in Costa Rica

That this world is only temporary. Praise the Lord. We are only here for a short time, a vapor, a mist.

Learning to live after a loss is like learning to walk again. One of the last conversations my mom had with me was about how to go on after she goes home. Homeward to Christ Jesus. I often play over in my head her telling me, "Nancy, it's time to stand on your own two feet." She told me how I can and I will go on. That my faith is strong & it would only get stronger through this. That she's carried me for 33 years and given me the tools to carry on the rest of the way.

I told her well that's all easy & good for you to say...

Over Easter, I told my dad I was going to get him an "easy button" - do you remember those from the Staples commercial? Ha! Sadly, there's no such thing but what we do have is the hope of heaven. That we can press on towards the goal/prize. Which as believers, heaven is our goal/prize.

There's nothing that should and can compare to that. No more pain, no more suffering. No bad hair days.

Most days I feel like my thoughts are so jumbled and escaping the world is the greatest idea ever. I'm an introvert by default anyway so closing myself off to others is a-okay with me. And I just thought the whole dealing with the cancer part was hard.

But I know it won't be hard forever. This is a season. This is where God uses the broken parts of my life and restores them. Where God refines me.

Where God shows up on a Monday morning. The overflow of His presence. His presence is where He gives strength for the journey.

In the beginning of Philippians 3, Paul is explaining how there is no confidence in the flesh. He also says that he considers all things a loss, compared to surpassing worth of knowing Christ. All things. That he wants to know Christ in such a way- even participating in his suffering, "becoming like him in his death." He hasn't attained the prize yet but he will press onto it because he knows the greatest prize is to be in the presence or heavenward with Christ Jesus.

Paul wrote this from a prison cell. I'm writing this from my couch.

I want to understand. I want to be bitter. I want to crawl into a hole most days.

I also want to do this season well. I want to grieve well. I want to love well. And I want to serve Him well. Because I know He waste nothing and I don't want to miss out on Him while I'm attending my own posh pity-party...from my couch.

Paul said ALL things. It's in the dark places where we see God meet us like never before. And from the looks of my track record, He sure knows how to turn a test into a testimony. 

Understanding is putting my confidence in the flesh, but trusting is putting my confidence in Him. Trusting that He has it handled. He handled it over 2000 years ago.

I don't have to understand to trust. I probably don't even need to understand for His ways are higher.

Whatever prison cell you're sitting in, know He is faithful. There's not a place He'll take you that He hasn't already stood.

That He will finish what He started.

It's just up to me if I want to press on towards the goal to win the prize regardless of the weight I carry...when I know His burden is light.

And when His goodness is like heaven to me on a weary Monday morning, I stand on my own two feet and press on, rejoicing for great is thy faithfulness.

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
-Philippians 3:7-14