Sunday, February 24, 2013

Wait Training 101 by Karen Ehman

Isaiah 40:31, "... but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (ESV)

Psalm 40:1, "I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry." (ESV)

Psalm 100:1-3, "Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture." (ESV)

I've been lax on keeping up with my devotions lately. I don't know why. I just have been. Today, I took the time to read through 3 of my MANY skipped over devotions. The one titled, "Wait Training 101" really caught my attention.

Karen Ehman's devotion is modeled after a Bible study of the same name she has written. She spoke of spiritual challenges much like I experience:

"You pray. You ask. You anticipate God's must wait.

And wait.

And wait some more."

She compares spiritual "wait training" to physical weight training. Physical weight training builds strength, and so does spiritual "wait training." Isaiah 40:31 is the key verse she uses as the foundation for this Bible study.

For years, Isaiah 40:31 has been an oft repeated one in my house. It was used in Keith's funeral. I have it on a plaque somewhere in my house. What strikes me as this time being different is the how Karen brings up the "what if" questions.

Y'all know I struggle with the "what ifs" ALL the time!

No wonder this got my attention.

Here's what Karen has to say about it: "How can waiting renew our strength? After all, doesn't waiting seem to sap our strength as we worry and fret and drum our fingers impatiently? It's exhausting to play the "What if?" game in our minds: What if this doesn't work? What if God's answer is "No"? What if the thing I fear the most actually happens...what then?"

As I read these questions, I was astounded to realize that even though I thought I have been working diligently to overcome my own "what if" syndrome...I have not overcome it. I've only been ignoring it. The "what ifs" are constantly running as background noise in my mind and heart.

I'm not going to berate myself for it. I am actually thankful that I'm finally aware of it. I have lived with a spirit of fear for so long. No, not the kind of fear associated with phobias. Mine is a fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of not being in control of my emotions, fear of what the answer to my prayers will be, and maybe even a fear of succeeding.'s a good thing I'm still going to MLC (My Lovely Counselor). It looks like we've got more work to do.

The realization of these fears of mine explains SO much about myself that I have been wondering about for awhile. Why do I let myself quit something before I reach the end? Fear of failure and fear of succeeding. The "what ifs" kick in without me fully realizing it. They take over, overwhelm me, work against me, and I just stop. I stop the task. At that point, the task seems too big to overcome. Too much for one person to handle. Too heavy of a burden to carry out. So, I place the task into one of my mental packing crates and shove it into my mental closet for safe keeping...until the day the shelf in the closet gets too full and comes crashing down, or until the day when I finally listen to what God has been trying to get me to see for who knows exactly how long.

That is what is going on today. I finally see it. I've encountered Isaiah 40:31 over and over again so many times in different devotional contexts, in different sermons, in different life situations. Until today, I have not encountered the verse THIS way.

Karen Ehman says that the way to keep the worry-laden "what ifs" and waiting from draining us, is to shift the perspective. The way of doing this that works for her is to stop thinking of God's seemingly endless silence in the sense of sitting and anxiously waiting on an answer or response. Instead, shift the waiting to that of a butler, maid, or restaurant server.

This is how she breaks it down.

"Those who 'wait on the Lord'- as in serve Him, cater to Him, help Him accomplish His work; those who take His order and bring Him what He wants- they are the ones who renew their strength.

They mount up with wings as eagles. They walk and do not faint.

As we serve, we become more aware of what the One we are waiting on desires. We become more alert, attentive, and in tune with His wishes. We begin to take our eye off of our problems and fix them on the Lord instead. As we do, we get a glimpse into His heart.

Then, instead of the wait sapping our spiritual strength, it is renewed as we seek to do the Lord's make Him give Him glory. Even in those long, hard times of waiting for an answer, we continue to serve Him."

In studying this devotion this morning, I also realized something else. While there are other areas of my life that I have not shifted my perspective, there are areas where I have. The main one being Nick's health and the daily struggles we encounter with it. I have not put that one in my mental closet. I have laid it at the foot of the cross and left it there. I do not try to pick that one back up and carry it. I do not let myself entertain the "what ifs". That doesn't mean that they don't stand up and try to draw my focus to them. Of course they do! I have been in the practice of shifting my perspective for so long that I'm no longer distracted by that. I still have to make the decision to leave it all at the foot of the cross though.

My question now is why am I able to do that with Nick's illness, Keith's illness and death, yet I don't seem to be able to do it with some other areas of my life? Hmmm....definitely food for thought.

Obviously God has brought me to this place for a reason. I am choosing to throw open the closet door and open these dusty boxes. MLC and I will be discussing this for some time I imagine.

If you would like to follow Karen Ehman, she has a website and blog at

As always y'all...

continue to remain

In HIS Grip,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Just don't know

Have you ever been at a place in life where you just don't know what to do?

It seems like as soon as I get one path figured out, another one...or five...becomes unclear.

I'm at this place of uncertainty once again. This time, it's with matters similar to ones I've dealt with before, yet entirely different at the same time.

Different because the last time I dealt with such matters, I had a lot of wise counsel at my disposal. This time...not so much.

I am hesitant to go into detail about the matter, because I don't want to do anything that could make the situation worse. I am asking you to pray for me though.

I know there are a faithful few that have been such prayer warriors on my family's behalf for so many years. It is you I am asking to intercede on my behalf. God knows what is weighing so heavily on me. I believe that He will hear your prayers and know exactly what they're about.

I am very emotionally "clouded" right now. I can't seem to separate myself from the human hurts and feelings to be able to hear that still small voice. The matter I am asking you to pray about has been building for months and now it seems to be reaching a point where something MUST give. I just don't know what is best. I don't know what God wants me to do or how he wants me to respond.

I am in desperate need for Godly wisdom, discernment, and direction. I do not like this feeling of uncertainty. I am not comfortable knowing that something is keeping me from hearing God.

Thank you in advance!

In HIS Grip,

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Just an thoughts really

This is just an update. I don't have anything really profound to share. There isn't any new information to share about Nick's health yet. We are scheduled to go back to clinic in the next couple of weeks. 

Nick is cruising along just like usual. He does seem to tire out more quickly on a more consistent basis than he has in a REALLY long time. I think that is due to several factors: 1. He's staying up later at night and still getting up early. 2. The chemo is taking a toll on him. 3. He is a teenager. I think any one of these three is enough to make someone tired. He is dealing with all three at once, and he is living a pretty normal daily life. 

I don't want that to change either. I want Nick to live as much of a normal life as he is able to. He has dreams he wants to pursue. Goals that he wants to meet. I've been thinking a lot about the different ramifications of having the surgery vs not having the surgery. I'm afraid that if he has the surgery, Nick won't be able to pursue his goals and dreams. I am concerned about Nick's ability to heal and recover from such invasive surgery. 

The flip side of my concerns are what it means for him not to have the surgery. If he doesn't have the surgery, the cancer could go crazy and there won't be anything we can do about it. Then he won't even have the chance to pursue his dreams and goals. He'll get sicker and eventually die without a miracle.

Can I do that to him? What do I say to him? How do I express my concerns in a way that won't scare him? So many questions that just don't have answers right now. I wonder if I should suggest palliative care. 

It is so difficult to know what is the best thing for Nick right now. I honestly never really believed that we would be at a place where medical science has nothing for us. Nick's doctors have always seemed to be able to pull the proverbial rabbit out of their hats. It's difficult for me to grasp that it's actually different this time. There is a huge part of me that just simply refuses to believe that we are at the end of what modern medicine has to offer. I just can not seem to wrap my brain around that piece of knowledge. 

There's no foundation for continued treatment. It simply boggles my mind that there isn't anyone else "out there" who has the same combination of health mess that Nick has. Surely we are not alone. Surely Nick isn't the only one out there. 

That's just a glimpse into my thoughts when I let myself think about things. I don't let my thoughts run rampant very much though. That's one reason I haven't posted here very much. I'm not even writing in my private journal much right now either. That wound is just too painful right now. I can't get through the days and nights, my college classes, and being a single mom if my mind and heart are focused on this heavy burden. 

I cast my cares upon the Lord. He alone can set me, Nick, Kacie, and you free. I do know that no matter what happens with Nick, God will see us through this storm...just as He has all the times before. I have no doubts about that. 

As always, we remain...

In HIS Grip,