Thursday, May 01, 2014

God Speaks

This was not a good week.  It was a bad week.  Just bad.

Well, maybe I should back up.  Monday was bad.  Really bad.  And I had to dig deep late Monday night and early Tuesday morning to walk in victory in spite of defeat.  I still feel the sting of it, but there's peace, too.

Even though it was back to school on Monday morning after a week of spring break, I was excited.  Hannah Kate had only two weeks left (she graduates on May 12), and Mason had less than four weeks left, five days of which will be half days.  I was thinking we would pretty much coast along these last weeks of the school year and take it easy.  One look at Mason's progress report when I picked them up at school on Monday afternoon and those plans plummeted within a split second.  I knew he'd been struggling more-so lately in reading, but I wasn't too concerned about it.  I should've paid more attention.  There were less grades this time around due standardized testing.  So one bad grade pretty much did his grade in.  It's just so frustrating because he's maintained a B in reading all year until now, he has worked so hard and puts forth such a tremendous amount of effort, but his grade reflects NONE of that.  And it's probably too late to recover from that.

We've had so many good days with school this year.  This has been, hands down, Mason's best year of school since kindergarten.  I mean, he actually likes school this year!  He has made tremendous progress during this school year.  If you would've told me last year at this time that we'd be where we are now, I would've seriously doubted it.  I expected bad days this year.  I expected struggles and challenges.  I expected it to be hard.  But you know what?  I can't look back and say there have been "bad" days.  There have been struggles and challenges but not nearly as intense as I imagined it would be.  And hard?  Well, Mason has studied a lot and worked really hard, but I really can't say it's been "hard."  It seemed like we took steps forward everyday.  I kept waiting to take steps backwards, anticipated it (because that's really the reality of this thing knows as a learning disability), but it never came.  Dyslexia hasn't gone away or been "cured." But we were finally in a place of effectively managing it and even overcoming it.  So because it seemed "easy" compared to what we'd been through the previous years in school, I let my guard down.  I think that's why I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach  on Monday when I saw his report card.

Hannah Kate's kindle that we gave her for Christmas was stolen on Monday, too.  Because of the circumstances of where we were and who was there, we don't know exactly who took it, but there are less than five people who could've taken it, and I know who they are.  I know them.  That's been a really difficult, heartbreaking situation, too.  And that's all I'm going to say about that.

So that was my Monday.

When we got home Monday night, we ate supper, bathed and then spent an hour and a half on homework before crawling into bed.  Tuesday was more of the same.  Two hours on homework.  And again last night after we got home from therapy.  Tonight we spent "only" an hour on homework.  And that's pretty much how it's going to be these last weeks of the school year.  To say I want to vomit is an understatement.

Monday night I went to bed feeling so sad and so defeated.  I felt that way for both Mason and Hannah Kate.  That's hard.  You can mess with me all you want to, but when you mess with my children you have crossed the line, and I take that personal.  With a capital P.

I'm pretty good at giving advice to other people.  I'm pretty good at spouting Bible verses and grace and the goodness of God when other people are going through valleys and storms.  But I am horrible when it comes to taking my own advice.  And considering that the Lord had so graciously impressed HOPE upon my heart this season, I knew I needed to live in that hope in my present circumstances.  It wasn't easy.  Why in the world would I rather wallow in my own self-pity instead of rising up in hope?!  I have no idea.

Also this week I had a conversation with a sweet friend who is grieved for a dear friend of hers who told her she doesn't believe in God.  My friend has been trying to articulate to her that God is real, that He does exist and that He is at work in the lives of those who trust Him and love Him.  I'll be honest.  It's so easy for me to question, "How in the world can anyone doubt the existence of God?  How in the world can anyone not see Him, feel Him?"  Because God speaks.  He does!  So here's how He spoke to me this week.

Monday night before I went to bed, I sat down with my Bible and just poured out to God all the bad and ugly and mad and sad and disappointment and discouragement that was in my heart after the events of the day.  And then I opened my Bible.  I didn't have a specific passage in mind that I was looking for.  I just asked God to show me what He had for me.  This is where I opened my Bible to:

He sent from above, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
from those who hated me.
For they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the LORD was my support.
He also brought me out into a broad place;
He delivered me because He delighted in me.
~Psalm 18:16-19


Tuesday morning I woke up early and got ready for what I knew could potentially be a very emotional day.  It was my last day of Bible study with 35 of my nearest and dearest sisters in the Lord (until a new semester begins in September).  We finished our study of the book of Matthew, a journey that we took together for 29 weeks.  It was also Hannah Kate's last dance class before the upcoming recital.  Since it was parent observation and awards day, I would see her recital dances for the very first time.  I spent some more time in prayer and in Psalm 18:16-19 before I woke the children up for our morning routine.  I also looked over my Bible study lesson one last time.  

We spent our last week of Bible study in Matthew 28.  We also cross referenced many other Scriptures in both the New and Old Testaments regarding Jesus' resurrection and what that means for us.  One of those verses was Ephesians 1:19.

 . . . and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.  ~Ephesians 1:19

The last question on our Bible study outline each week always asks us what difference our study of God's Word has made in our life during the week and how our group can pray for us.  I'd already answered that question two days earlier, but I wrote another answer on Tuesday morning:  

Ephesians 1:19 . . . EXCEEDING GREATNESS of HIS POWER toward us who believe - The same power that raised Jesus from the dead (He IS alive!) is also available to me.  LIVE IN IT!

You know, it's not always the "big" things that get me.  It's the "little" things.  It's the day-to-day, day in and day out little piddly stuff that has me living in defeat instead of in the power of the One who raised His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, from the dead and makes that same power available to me!  That's what God impressed upon my heart that morning as He took me back to that verse in Ephesians.


As our teaching leader was speaking to us during the final minutes of our time together later that morning, she said, "The LIVING Lord Jesus goes with us wherever He sends us."


Wherever he sends us.

He sends us.

He SENDS me.

That was a reminder that He knows where I am.  He knows where Mason is.  He KNOWS.  He sent us here.  He sent us to where we are.  This was NOT my plan.  I DO NOT want my child to be dyslexic.  I DO NOT want my child to struggle so with reading.  I DID NOT want Hannah Kate's kindle to be stolen.  But it's not about what I want.  Hardly.  God is using this to bring me to a place of accepting HIS plan even though it is not what I wanted.  He is good and faithful and always acts in the best interests of His beloved.  I know this because I know God.  I know Him through His Word. I know Him through the testimony of others.  I know Him through the ways He has worked in my own life over and over, year after year.  That's what God impressed upon my heart through my teaching leader.


Wednesday morning dawned bright and early.  Ellie and I headed off to our very last Bible study class.  It was my last morning teaching my sweet 2s, the children I've grown to love over these last 29 weeks, the children in whom I've had the pleasure of planting seeds of truth from the Gospel of Matthew over these last 29 weeks, the children I've had amazing conversations with, the children who came to my class in diapers in September and now are potty trained, the children who used to cry nearly every Wednesday when they arrived and now cry instead when it's time to go home.  I had the privilege of teaching the resurrection of Jesus to 15 of the most precious 2 year olds I've ever met.  And to hear those little voices articulate that, "He is not here.  He is risen, just like He said" . . . 


After Bible study we went to lunch with some of my fellow children's leaders.  It was a very sweet, fun time of fellowship.  And then we went to school to get Mason and Hannah Kate so we could go to therapy.  On the way home, Mason quickly piped up from the backseat, "Mom?  You're the BEST mom!"  So, of course, I smiled and laughed and felt all mushy on the inside.  And then I asked him why I was the best mom.  I should've just stopped with a "thank you."  That's when he responded, "Miss K told me to tell you that."  Miss K is his Occupational Therapist.  After Mason's report card came home on Monday, I emailed his teacher and the reading specialist at school, and I also emailed his therapy team.  She knew I was discouraged.  And how sweet of her to encourage Mason to encourage me.  I really did appreciate that (although I'm sure it was not her intention that Mason tell me that she told him to say that!).  God has surrounded me with such an amazing group of people who continue to encourage me, especially in mothering.


Last night (still Wednesday) I checked Facebook before I went to bed.  I had unknowingly been tagged in a status post by a dear friend and pastor.  This is what he posted:  Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.  ~Ephesians 3:20.  That's one of MY verses.  In one of my old Bibles I have written in the margin, "I have a SURPASSING God!  Thankful for the MUCH MORE of God."  My friend had NO IDEA about my week, and yet he tagged me in his post, and it showed up on my wall.


This morning I took the children to school and spent some time in Mason's classroom working on a project for Teacher Appreciation week.  I think I was a little rough on those 3rd graders at the Christmas party.  Today they were a pure delight.  I laughed, and they laughed, and we had a good time.  I really wanted to hang out with them all day!  Afterwards I had an impromptu conversation with Mason's teacher about his reading grade and recent assessments.  While I'd been feeling all week that progress had halted and that we still had a monstrous mountain to climb, she showed me some things and put it all back into perspective again.  I wasn't expecting that.  Not today.  But I left feeling much better about that "bad" reading grade than I have all week!

And, of course, I did share my usual, "It just stinks because his effort is through the roof, but his grade doesn't reflect that, and he has nothing to show for it" argument.  But she helped me look at that differently, too.  I wish I could articulate her exact words, but I can't.  She was talking to me about how Mason is going to be someone who excels in college and ultimately excels in his life's work (from an occupational standpoint) because things haven't come easy to him and because he already knows how to work hard.  She reminded me that all this stuff about grades and test scores isn't going to matter in "the real adult world," but Mason's perseverance and spirit and work ethic will.  As much as I am so ready for summertime, it's bittersweet.  I can't imagine starting a new school year with a different teacher.  Mrs. B has been one of our biggest blessings this year, and she has done amazing things with Mason.  She's also taken good care of me!  God's provision of a 3rd grade teacher for Mason has been PERFECT.


Last week during her lecture, my teaching leader shared the following (She was talking about Jesus' death on the cross, the intense physical and emotional suffering He endured):

Everything God allows into our lives is for our good and His glory.  We went to avoid pain and suffering.  But then we would miss out on the blessings God has for us through that experience.  What are you trying to escape?  God will give you the strength to endure.

When she asked that question, I knew exactly what I was trying to escape.  Dyslexia.  And then God, in His sovereignty, gave me the opportunity this very week to live and to experience what He was trying to teach my prideful, selfish heart.  That doesn't mean I've arrived or I've even stopped trying to escape.  It just means God is "drawing me out of the waters and bringing me into a broad place!"



Mama said...

Oh, how you shine for our Lord! Thankful for His loving hand upon your life as He polishes His Julie jewel! Thankful to Him for you, dear one. You are loved beyond what I can express in words.

Kori Page said...

Julie, I so admire your love and humility! I find this blog so meaningful! I so often tend to get stuck in the rut of life and feel sorry for myself instead of embracing the power I have in Jesus. Thank you for sharing your life with us through this blog.