Surprise!

Every month, there are special recognition days for most any cause or human condition.  Last week included a day specially dedicated as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. As a bereaved mother of an infant daughter and having had two miscarriages as well, I’ve come to recognize this day, even promote it to others.

Ironically, or not, two special things happened to me that day.  And I give God thanks.

I challenged others to join me in doing random acts of kindness to honor a mom or remember a child on that day.  Unexpectedly, I was the recipient of such an act.  A distant relative, who knew nothing of my challenge or the date, sent me a blanket she’d crafted with squares made to symbolize each of my children, including my deceased daughter Ashlynn.   It arrived on the very day – the day of remembrance. The gift was a complete surprise and I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

There were also a series of unexpected events that resulted in the opportunity for me share Ashlynn’s life with a group of ladies in Bible study on the very same day.  And it wasn’t just a chance to talk about my daughter, it was a time for me to share ways that God has taught me about His love through her life and the value that each life holds, no matter how long or short.  Again, I was overwhelmed with joy and gratitude.

I’m not sure why God chose to encourage me on that specific day in two touching ways, but I’m convinced that it was His doing and timing.  I’m thankful for the reminder that He sees us each day and always knows what’s going on in our lives, down to the very day and moment.  I pray that you sense God’s presence and love today. Blessings!

Sue’s Story

Sue grew up with a common generational belief that conditions such as depression and anxiety were a sign of weakness. They carried a huge stigma, as did seeking psychological help.  Recently, her perspective changed.

Sue began having problems with extreme anxiety and panic attacks.  It took a while for the doctors to determine exactly what the problem was, but they finally determined it was uncontrollable anxiety.  She took some meds and eventually the problems subsided.  But, nearly one year later the symptoms returned with a vengeance.  She was having a full-blown panic attack practically every day, and it was interfering with everything she tried to do.  She started going to a counselor who was able to help her manage the symptoms, but they weren’t really able to determine what was causing them.  She started on some new medication with much success and is doing better.  Now if a panic attack starts to develop she can intervene before it totally engulfs her.

Shortly after the anxiety started again, she began a Bible study at work – Beth Moore’s study of Daniel.  One of the things she learned is that through every “trial” there are 3 ways that they could be resolved:  (1) God will totally deliver us from the trial – we won’t have to endure it; (2) we will become closer to God by having gone through it; or (3) we will be delivered into God’s arms as a result of it. She pondered these thoughts in context of her current trial, uncertain what the result would be.

While she didn’t have immediate clarity, she would soon sense God’s perspective in her circumstances.

The woman who cleans her house had been injured in a car accident.  Upon her recovery and return, Sue asked how she was doing.  The woman burst into tears while she explained how anxious she had become and how she felt like it was showing weakness. She felt she needed to just get over it, but she was just floundering at what to do.  Through the counseling Sue had received and from the books she’d read, she was able to share with her that anxiety is a real illness and needs to be treated just like any other illness.  Sue encouraged her and pointed her in the right direction.

As she reflected on the sequence of events, she experienced a “light bulb” moment. The thought occured that maybe the reason she’s had to endure this problem is so she can be a help to others who might be experiencing the same thing.  Her thoughts about anxiety have certainly changed and she realizes from experience that it is beyond her control. 

Instead of looking at her issues as a burden, she’s decided to look at them from the standpoint of how God will use her circumstances and draw her closer to Him in the process. She’s learning to depend on Him more and has gained understanding and empathy for others who have similar problems.

May the following verse ring true in each of our lives.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Cor 1:3-4

Special thanks to Sue for sharing her story.  My prayer is that others are encouraged and that we always remember to pray for those around us, as we never know what they may be experiencing.

See for Yourself

My daughter recently submitted five photos in a competition at the State Fair.  We left town the day before the fair started and my daughter was anxious to hear the results of the judging.  A family member texted a few days later sharing that they’d spotted one of her photos and she’d won 2nd place.  They even sent a picture of her photo with the red ribbon attached. My daughter was very pleased but she really wanted to go to the fair so she could see.

When we returned home, we visited the fair as promised. And the search for the photo competition began.  We found the building. We found the general viewing area.  We then found that the photos didn’t seem to be arranged in any particular order.  So, we began searching walls and walls of photos for her five.

With great delight, she discovered that all five had placed in various categories.  She won three 1st place ribbons and two 2nd place ribbons.  She was ecstatic and beamed with delight. The day at the fair was far more than she’d imagined and she skipped and smiled her way through the remainder of the day.

This scene describes my walk with Christ and maybe yours.  In the beginning, I accepted and loved Jesus but most of my knowledge was based on what others told me.  I was taught on Sunday mornings or in mission programs. I’d hear someone share their testimony and think, “Wow, I wish I knew God in that kind of way.” The things others reported seemed remarkable, yet, I hadn’t had those experiences.

Eventually, I started reading my Bible, engaged in Bible study and actively pursued Him. And, not surprisingly, I came to know Him in a whole new way.  Be seeing for myself, instead of relying on the report of others, I’ve had amazing opportunities for my faith to grow and come to trust Jesus in a deeper, more personal way. 

My prayer for each of us is that we see for ourselves.  God is real and relevant and wants a relationship with each of us, personally. And, the journey with Him is better than anything we can imagine.