Blessed. Beyond Blessed. This exact term was resonating through my head this spring. I was asking myself, “Do I feel beyond blessed only when everything comes together?”
Because what happens when things fall apart? Can you still look up to the Lord your God and say you are beyond blessed?
This spring, I was reminded in the tinier plans that if things go according to what I really want or the contrary what I fear, God IS. God is good.
I realize I did not go through any major crisis moments this spring so my heart is humbled when I look to my friends who did. But we are reminded in the minor inconveniences as well as the intense struggles that God IS.
We had four trips in two months (three to the Midwest) which seems just plain crazy. One was unexpected–my sweet grandmother passed away on April 1st.
One thing I feared in all this…I am talking about an anxious reaction…is people getting sick. Stomach bugs and bad colds always thwart plans. Yet we have no control over them. It has been a horrible year for sickness. Our kids have all been sick multiple times. It started the last week of September and was off and on until the second to the last week of school. It has not just been us–many of our friends have dealt with it too and some much worse.
We went to St. Louis in mid May for my husband’s graduation ceremony. He earned his Doctorate of Ministry from Covenant Seminary. Before we left we had plans to leave our kids with Friend #1’s house (btw–for the sake of this blog post I am referring to friends with numbers but it does not imply their ranking as friends). Only days before we left, Friends #1 lost a loved one and had to travel to the Midwest for the funeral. Thankfully Friends #2 offered to take our kids. The day we were supposed to leave Friend #2 came down with a stomach bug and we had to leave our kids with Friends #3 who graciously offered to take our kids last minute. I remember through the whole ordeal God saying to me, “OK do you trust me?”
We have no family remotely close to where we live. We have to rely on our friends in these situations. I am extremely grateful for “our village” who came through for us last minute and reassured us our kids would be fine. I cannot imagine how lonely and frustrating life would be if we did not have “a village.”
My fear is I would be sick in St. Louis since I was exposed to all this crud. That became reality as I went to bed the first night in our hotel feeling a little queasy and an hour later sick in the bathroom. I was frustrated, angry, and anxious. I felt like God was saying, “OK but do you trust me?”
I recovered quickly. I did not miss his graduation lunch or the ceremony or the Cardinal games the next day.
I did miss some things, but overall I made it to all the important things. It was a tremendous honor to see my husband earn his D Min after hours and hours of work on his dissertation, multiple trips to St. Louis, and countless amount of time interviewing and reading.
We came home from St. Louis exhausted on a Sunday afternoon. The youngest child was going to a birthday party which Friends #4 who graciously agreed to pick her. The middle child was going to a different party about a half hour away. I made plans in advance to have him ride with Friends #5 since I knew we would be exhausted from our flight. We had to get up at 3 AM central time. As we arrived home Friend #5 texted me and said their daughter got the dreaded stomach bug and they weren’t going. How do you tell your son you are not going to take him to a birthday party a half hour away because you are functioning off three hours of sleep especially when you have not seen him in four days? My plan was to take him and set up a sleeping bag in the van. I would sleep while he was at the party. I was grumpy about the whole thing but again I felt like God said, “OK do you trust me?”
I texted Friend #6 last minute who was on her way to the party and agreed to pick up my son and take him along. With our younger two gone all afternoon we could take long naps and get caught up on the sleep we lost.
That was Sunday. On Friday we got ready for our annual church retreat at a camp about 1 hour away. We left Saturday morning and had a full day of activities that first day. Sunday morning the husband woke up and said, “I don’t feel great. Kind of yucky. But I don’t think I am sick.” Anxiety began to run rampant again. I knew he was getting sick. My kids don’t need to be constantly watched anymore, but I cannot let them run off alone. Especially when there is a lake, a large woods, and unfamiliar parts of the camp. My kids were excited to be at camp but a little out of control the first night. I felt like I NEEDED my husband’s help. Again I felt like God said, “OK do you trust me?”
The husband got sicker as I feared and had to go home. However, the kids were amazing. I don’t think I had to break up a single fight the rest of the weekend. They always told me where they were going. They stayed out of trouble. They had a wonderful time! So did I!
I had a great hike around the lake with them at the conclusion of the weekend and we saw a bald eagle perched in a tree. Another reminder of God as we see the handiwork of his creation.
Coming home on Monday, my youngest got the dreaded stomach bug. The following day my oldest woke up with it. My anxiety escalated because I knew I was running the Minneapolis Marathon the following weekend. I had invested months of training, bought a plane ticket, motel room & rental car. Plus it was the first time I would run a marathon with my sister. I did NOT want to be sick. I hoped my husband and daughters caught what I already had, but I had no way of knowing. Our symptoms were all a little different.
Again I felt like God was saying, “OK do you trust me?” I was so paranoid about getting sick I hardly had time to be nervous about the actual marathon. The end of this story was I did travel to Minneapolis, I did run in the marathon 100% healthy, my sister ran it too, and it was an amazing weekend.
I know had I got sick and missed it, that I would STILL be beyond blessed. Because whatever happens God IS.
It’s a bit harder to wrap my finger around this idea of “beyond blessed” when I think about some old friends God put on my heart recently. During our time in St. Louis old friends of ours lost a child. On my way to Minneapolis to run a marathon with my sister, an old friend lost her sister unexpectedly. While I was talking to my mom about her trip recently to visit old friends she mentioned her friend’s son is dying of cancer. I’ve seen evidence in all three of these situations via Facebook and social networking that all three of these people are clinging to the hope that God IS. Despite all the feelings of anger, frustration, depression, pain, despair, and loss–God IS. Because they know if we don’t have the hope of God’s love through Christ, then what we do have?
Will you stand on the hope of God promises? And will you pray for those in your life today who may not “feel beyond blessed” for whatever reason?