Tag Archive | Trust

Living Outside My Comfort Zone

The Five Minute Friday writing community, led by Kate Motaung and in which I routinely post, is writing on the prompt COMFORT this week. This is technically not a Five Minute Friday post – the two guidelines for Five Minute Friday posts are free writing for five minutes and no editing, and what I need to share today cannot be written in five minutes and is too personal and important to post without editing. But seeing Kate’s prompt for the week showed me the direction for this article which I’ve been sensing God directing me to write this week.

 

If I were in charge of my life, I would never step outside of my comfort zone, that place where I feel confident and comfortable and function with ease and familiarity. But many years ago, I turned the control of my life over to another, to Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. One big thing I’ve learned in the thirty-five plus years since then is that God is much more concerned with my character than my comfort.

From the automobile accident that took the life of our firstborn daughter Teresa and left me with crippling injuries, to the birth of our son with severe brain damage and profound mental retardation, to my later development of a long list of chronic  illnesses as a result of the injuries I received during the accident, comfort has not been a word I would choose to describe my life. Yes, in each situation, there has been a measure of comfort from God in the midst of heartache, but my Christian life has not been lived in my comfort zone.

In recent months, my husband and I have been walking through another dark valley, another season of life where in ourselves we can see no way out. It all started on a Saturday in May when we decided to take some much needed family time and have a meal out. My husband, daughter and I enjoyed our pizza and were on our way home when our car broke down on one of the busiest roads in southeast Houston. God protected us from injury and provided a way home, while our car was towed to a shop. Later, we learned that repairing our car – our only vehicle – would cost more than it was worth. We began praying, asking God to make a way for us to buy an affordable but dependable used car.

Fast forward a few weeks, and a series of letters, phone calls, and one visit to the court house opened our eyes to another major problem. We learned that the house and property we had inherited from my mother-in-law, which we thought the probate attorney who handled Mom’s estate had taken care of for us, was still in the name of the estate, and another plot of land on which she owed back taxes and which we had been advised by our attorney to just turn over to the county had been transferred to our name, apparently brecause of an error made by some level of local government. In addition, we learned that the senior homestead exemption we filed in January on our home had been lost by the county tax assessors’ office. Because of all this, we suddenly owed thousands of dollars in past due property taxes and penalties, on property that wasn’t even officially in our names.

It’s now the middle of July, and so far neither the need for a dependable car nor the property paperwork and tax issue has been resolved. We are still in a time of waiting to see what God is going to do.

Yet while our prayers have not yet been answered, this doesn’t mean that God hasn’t been at work behind the scenes. I can’t speak about how God is working in my husband’s life through these circumstances – that’s his story to tell. But God is doing a major work in my life during this season, first in teaching me about the power of prayer, and also in helping me to walk in faith in the midst of uncertainty.

Nothing prompts us to prayer better than a crisis! When circumstances feel over-whelming and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to change them, you learn how dependent upon God you really are. What began in my heart as a simple cry to God for help has become a major classroom on the discipline of effective, strategoc prayer. I’ve come to understand as never before the need to hear from God before I pray, and to be honest with Him in sharing the burdens of my heart. I’ve learned the effectiveness of praying God’s Word back to Him. And I’ve learned to keep praying and not give up until the answer comes.

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The last two months have also been a time of taking hold of the fact that I am loved and accepted by God, even when I’m struggling. It has been a season of having my trust in God stretched to the breaking point, but also of my trust becoming stronger as I spend time in His presence and Word daily. Daily prayer journaling has become a way of life, as it my weakness I recognize my need for God’s strength to make it through another day. My relationship with God is now stronger than it’s ever been in the past, and my morning quiet times have become the biggest blessing of my days.

We still don’t know what God is going to do in either of these situations. We have done everything we know to do, so now both problems are in His hands, awaiting His answer in His timing. I want to close with a verse God gave me about a week ago, from 2 Chronicles 20, the last portion of verse 12. It says, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on You.” That’s where we now are, as we wait on God to work on our behalf.

Where are you today? Is God asking you to live outside of your comfort zone and trust Him? If so, let my story encourage you to seek Him with your whole heart and hold nothing back. Even before your prayers are answered, you too may be amazed at the work He is doing in your life.

When the Answer is Delayed: Five Steps for Walking In Faith Through the Wilderness

“There is another side to my wilderness. I am only going through it. I am not camping in the wilderness permanently. I am not settling. I am prepared to keep moving because my God is with me.”  – Rachel Wojo

These words caught my attention immediately this morning, as I opened Rachel Wojo’s Bible study Never Alone to begin my devotional time. Why? Because once again our family is in a wilderness situation.

It’s been a week since my husband, adult daughter and I decided to take some much needed family time and go out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Since they have handicapped parking right next to the door, I decided to use my walker instead of my wheelchair that usually goes with me on all outings. We enjoyed the meal and the time together, but by the time we left the restaurant I was struggling with shortness of breath and wishing we hadn’t left the wheelchair at home.

I made it to the car, and we started on our way to one final stop before heading home. Suddenly, on one of the busiest streets on our end of Houston, the car abruptly stopped and we were stuck in heavy traffic. After one attempt to get the car into neutral so it could be pushed off the street into a nearby parking lot failed, my husband was finally able to get the gear to shift and some strangers pushed us to safety. Then we waited for a wrecker and a friend we had called to arrive so we would have a way home.

We had been having trouble with our car since having some transmission work done several months earlier, so my husband suspected the problem was transmission related and had the car towed to the transmission shop. But once the mechanics looked at the car, they concluded there was no way to prove the problem was related to their work and therefore they would not cover the repairs under the warranty on their work. So we now had a dead vehicle, our only means of transportation, a budget stretched so thin we were barely covering it monthly, and no way we could come up with to either repair or replace our car. 

What do you do when you face a situation like this? My first reaction was to give place to thoughts of fear and anxiety, but I knew this wasn’t the right response. So my husband and I prayed, turning this situation we saw no way out of over to the Lord. And as of today, that’s where it still is, with no understanding of how God is going to solve this problem.

Many years of walking with the Lord have taught me several things concerning how to walk through a wilderness situation such as this one, when in our own understanding we feel trapped and see no way out. 

  1. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Acknowledging we don’t have an answer but He does is the first necessary step, as we commit the situation to the Lord through prayer.
  2. Recognize our emotions will not always line up immediately with our decision to entrust our situation to the Lord. Therefore, we must make a commitment not to allow our emotions to effect our decision.
  3. Spend time meditating on Scripture. This renews our minds with the truth of God’s Word, which we need to stand upon when fear and doubts come in like a flood.
  4. Keep a grateful heart in the midst of the trial. A graphic of one of my favorite quotes on being thankful hangs in my bedroom, where I see it every morning. It is from Ann Voskamp and says, “There’s always, always, always, something to be thankful for.”  This is a daily reminder for me to look for the evidence of God’s goodness in the midst of every trial and to give him thanks.
  5. Remember what God has done in the past, when He has come through for us in similar situations. This builds our faith that He will meet our current need also.

The last time we were in a similar situation, receiving an answer to our prayers took a lot longer than we expected. God is faithful, but He seldom works on our time table. I’ve walked out these steps during the past week, and I’ll probably need to walk them out many more times in the future, both in this trial and in future ones.  

For now, I’m holding onto God’s promise that this wilderness is not our permanent residence. We are passing through, and with His strength and provision we will make it to the other side. I don’t know what you are facing right now, but these principles provide the keys for each of us to make it to the other side. 

Sometimes He Calms the Storm!


Coping with Chronic Illness

In Coping with Chronic Illness, by H. Norman Wright and Lynn Ellis, chronic illness is compared to having a career. “You can do poorly or well at it. Doing well doesn’t mean being cured; instead, it refers to your ability to cope and make needed adjustments.”

Until about ten months ago, I considered myself somewhat of an expert at coping with chronic illness. I had accepted my limitations, found ways to fulfill most of my goals, and was basically content with my life. And I’d walked this way for nearly forty years.

Then suddenly, things changed. My pain management doctor did an epidural steroid injection in my cervical spine, which was supposed to reduce my neck and shoulder pain.  But instead of the pain improving, it became worse. And for some reason that none of my doctors have identified, my overall condition was also much worse. I was left dealing with constant pain and a whole new set of limitations.

This is my personal story, but I suspect many of you have similar stories.  Chronic illnesses are seldom static. Once we learn to live with one level of debilitation, things often change and there are new problems to deal with. Knowing how to cope with today’s problems is essential.


What exactly is chronic illness?

According to the definition of the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, a chronic disease is one the lasts for 3 months or more, that generally cannot be prevented by vaccines or cured by medication. Having a chronic illness often means living with “invisible” symptoms that no one but you sees, feels, or is aware of.

How can I cope with my chronic illness or illnesses?

It is possible to be realistic about the losses in our lives, and still live in joy, peace, hope, and awareness of the many ways the Lord is blessing us. We are His creation, made with a purpose we are called and empowered to fulfill. I believe this understanding is the key to coping with whatever chronic illness or illnesses God has allowed in your life.

Specific ideas for coping with chronic illness:

  1. Don’t try to bear the weight of chronic illness on your own. Find someone you can confide in. Participating in a support group such as God-Living Girls is a great way to do this.
  2. Seek medical help, and be willing to listen to your doctors. If you question a diagnosis, get a second opinion. Learn enough about your diagnoses to ask questions.
  3. Spend time daily talking with God in prayer and reading and meditating on His Word.
  4. Work to develop a positive attitude and a grateful heart, in spite of how you’re feeling.  Open your eyes to all the blessings in your life, and thank God daily for them.
  5. Hold onto the truth that God has not abandoned you. He is at your side, ready to strengthen you to successfully face anything that happens today.  Allow His perfect love to drive out your fear.
  6. Set realistic goals, taking your current physical and mental limitations in mind. Don’t expect to do everything you did prior to becoming ill. Don’t expect perfection. Be alert to times when you need to rest.
  7. Be willing to ask for help, when it’s truly needed.
  8. Look for new creative outlets that give you pleasure, such as writing, art, crafts, and music.
  9. Develop an eternal perspective. Remember, your years on the current earth are few when compared with eternity, so focus on living to please God.
  10. Finally, remember that YOU ARE MORE THAN YOUR DISEASE OR DIAGNOSIS. You are God’s beloved daughter, created to fulfill His purpose for your life.


Chronic illness has changed our lives. We cannot do many of the things we used to be able to do. But this doesn’t have to keep us from walking in joy, being at rest in our current circumstances, or reaching out in love to others who are in need. We each are still a whole person, a person of value, unique and greatly loved by God. Our daily symptoms and physical limitations do not change this.  The above items aren’t rules to follow, in order to gain God’s approval. You already have that. And these aren’t the only things that will help you cope with chronic illness.  Perhaps you have your own word of advice on how to cope with chronic illness that has really helped you. If so, we’d love for you to share it with us in the comments.

Memorable Monday: Trusting God in the Hard Places

It’s Memorable Monday again, and this week’s book review and memorable quotes come from When God Doesn’t Fix It, by recording artist and worship leader Laura Story.

When they married in 2004, Martin and Laura (Story) Elvington had plans for a perfect life. Their intention was to move to Savannah, Georgia, where Martin would finish his degree at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). He would also continue as campus director and Bible study leader for a college ministry and do graphic design and web development for Wofford College, while Laura toured with a traveling band and wrote music for their concerts. When Martin completed his training, their hope was that he would find a well-paying job in the graphic arts field and move back to Spartanburg, South Carolina, to be near their parents. Laura would then become a stay-at-home mom and raise the children they both wanted to have someday.

The first detour in their plans came in 2005, when Laura was offered a job as worship leader at Perimeter Church in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. At first, Laura was hesitant to accept the job since she had no experience leading worship. But when a friend of their’s from the church kept encouraging them, and they learned the church was offering a steady income and health insurance, and that SCAD had just opened an Atlanta campus where Martin could complete his schooling, they decided to make this move.

But as they prepared to move, Laura became aware of some things that concerned her. Martin was more forgetful than usual. And some days, he wanted to do nothing but sleep. He was also having symptoms of panic attacks, but none of his doctors had been able to pinpoint the cause of all of this. Laura spoke by phone with her boss-to-be, Randy Schlichting, telling him something was wrong with her husband and she was having second thoughts about taking the job. Randy encouraged them to load up their belongings and come to Atlanta as soon as possible, promising that the church would take care of whatever was wrong with Martin once they got there. So in August of 2oo5, Martin and Laura moved to Atlanta and she began learning how to be a worship leader.

To not give away the rest of the story, in a nutshell Martin required major surgery. It was scheduled, but things didn’t go as hoped. Martin and Laura’s story was forever changed. Instead of God performing a miracle and fixing Martin’s problems, God was more interested in building his and Laura’s relationship with Him. This is a “not to be missed” book, especially if you’re going through a hard time yourself or are a fan of Laura Story’s music.

One of the highlights of the book, in my opinion, is a summary at the end of most chapters, presenting a myth we often believe, contrasted to the corresponding truth from Scripture. These are red also presented in a chart at the end of the book. I see this as a helpful tool for me personally, and for anyone who is facing difficult circumstances. One of these in particular stool out to me:

  • MYTH: The plan I have for my life is much better than the place where God has me right now.
  • TRUTH: Where God has me right now is the best place for me.

The book is filled with MEMORABLE quotes, making it difficult to choose just one.  I choose a rather long one from the same chapter as the above myth and truth, and then I’ll close with a graphic of a shorter quote.

“If you find yourself struggling in a situation you didn’t see coming, consider it an opportunity to trust God. When we trust God is for us and not against us, we can see our future as he sees it. It is a future filled with plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. And plans that will ultimately draw you closer to him.”  

Trust In the Lord

Today, I am linking up with Tuesday at Ten, the weekly blog link-up where you have six days to use the prompt word of phrase as a part of your writing. This week’s prompt word is TRUST.

Twenty-first birthdays are usually a time for celebration. Our child is now an adult. Our job of training our son or daughter in the fear and admonition of the Lord is basically over. And our young adult is now ready to spread his wings and set out into the future. But with our son David, none of this was true. David would never be ready to live on his own because of his extensive medical needs.

David had massive infantile spasms as an newborn, resulting in severe brain damage. And his condition had deteriorated to the point where he was now totally dependent upon others to meet all of his needs. He had a long list of medical diagnoses, and was tube fed and bed bound.

Prior to his twenty-first birthday, David had received services through the Texas Medicaid children’s health program (CCP), and through it he received 112 hours per week of private duty nursing care in our home. But in Texas, Medicaid recipients lose their eligibility for CCP services when they turn twenty-one. His other Medicaid program, Home and Community Services (HCS), had a cost ceiling that would only allow him to receive four and a half hours of nursing services a day. The Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS), the regulatory agency over David’s Medicaid programs, decided that the HCS program was no longer a safe placement for David. In essence, the only options they were giving us were to take care of David’s extensive needs (both medical and financial needs) on our own, or put him in a state school.‬

After talking with David’s neurologist and pulmonologist, and also visiting the state school closest to Houston, we knew this wasn’t an acceptable choice. David’s doctors said that he probably wouldn’t survive six months with the level of care he would receive at the state school, and even the nurses at the state school said they would not be able to meet his needs. Because of my own disabilities, there was no way I could meet David’s needs on my own, and my husband was at work during the daytime hours. So we began sharing our situation with our church and asking for prayer. We were facing an impossible situation, and we desperately needed God to intervene. And I was facing one of the biggest tests of my decision to trust God, not only for salvation but for every detail of my life. I felt overwhelmed, but to the best of my ability tried to hold onto hope that God would move on our behalf.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”  Trust in God is confidence that what the Bible says about God’s character, ability and strength is true. Was God really in control of this situation? Would He be faithful to make a way for us to continue to care for our precious son in our home? Could God really be trusted,  even in this situation?  We chose to believe God was who He said He was and would do exactly what He said He would do, even if at the time I felt like I was shaking in my boots. We committed the entire situation to the Lord in prayer, then asked Him to show us what steps He wanted us to take.

The first thing I sensed God telling me to do was to send out prayer updates to our friends.  This was before most people were on Facebook, so every couple weeks I send an update by email. Then one day when I was praying, God brought the name “Advocacy Inc.” to mind. We had never used this advocacy agency for people in Texas with disabilities, but I had repeatedly heard about it during the yearly planning meetings while David was in a home bound school program. So I contacted the Houston office of Advocacy, Inc., now called Disability Rights Texas, to see if they would be willing to take David’s case.
This was the beginning of the solution to our “impossible” situation.  Because of the precedent-setting nature of David’s case, the two head attorneys from the Austin office decided to take our case.  Then through a series of hearings and court filings, we finally had the settlement we needed. David would continue to receive the same essential homecare services that he had received prior to turning twenty-one. As we obeyed the steps God gave us, God had turned around a situation we in our own strength saw no way out of. And in the process, a legal precedent was set that has helped other families in Texas who were facing situations similar to ours.

David is now thirty-one years old, and we know that this battle was worth the pain involved. We saw that God really could make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way, and our trust in our Lord and Savior grew. We had learned not to lean on our own understanding – which showed us no way out of this situation, submitted to the Lord by taking the steps He led us to take, and watched in amazement as He straightened a path that in my eyes looked impossible before our eyes.