Faith in the Rear View

[This entry was a guest post on abundancetribe.net]

“…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“God is with me; all will be well,” is one of the last things I remember my mother saying before she died last year. In the 14 years since her stroke at age 71, it had become a mantra of sorts. It was what she would say to banish anxiety. She would repeat it every time she was in the emergency room with an infection. Or when she was moved to a new nursing home. Especially when she was afraid to get into a car from her wheelchair for fear of falling.

Little did I know when she said, “God is with me; all will be well,” as she developed pneumonia in September, that within three weeks she would indeed be with God—and all would definitely be well.

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My mother didn’t know anything about a personal relationship with Jesus growing up. She was a German/Swedish Lutheran who unnerved her parents by converting to Catholicism to appease my Irish father. Even then, faith wasn’t really faith. It was exercise. My mother seemed to worship the sacraments more than Jesus. Faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit was never part of our home life, except for the standard grace my father sped through at dinner time.

After her stroke, she encountered Jesus as Savior through a pastor who visited her nursing home. She was born again and began daily devotions and attending on-site church services. She would fervently pray, especially in the bathroom while she waited for an aide. She would send me snippets of scripture she found in Guideposts to encourage me. It was heartwarming to witness.

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But then my mother started using her mantra inappropriately, in my opinion. She began to dole it out whenever she didn’t have another answer to a problem. One such problem was the fact that she and my father spent the money that was supposed to be saved in trust for my two developmentally-disabled sisters when my parents entered a nursing home together. My siblings and I knew that they never looked into long-term resources for my sisters, but spending that money? “God is with your sisters; all will be well,” was her response.

It angered me at the time. I panicked when I had to step in and file for disability payments my 50-something sisters were entitled to at age 22. I was stressed out when I didn’t know where they would live. My prayers were a litany of fears, rather than an exercise in trust of my Father. All seemed hopeless because I couldn’t make the right things happen for them.

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But in the last three years, God has removed the scales from my eyes and shown me His incredible power and majesty in the way He has provided for my sisters. In terms of finances, improved health, friendships, a safe place to live and the opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities, they’ve been truly blessed. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to me that He would be so concerned for these precious ones.

I realize now that the same God who has brought so many things to fruition in the last three years, is the same God who has been their sovereign Lord from the start. It is truly miraculous how He has carried them from the moment they were born. Decades of worry over their future was nothing but wasted energy, when right in front of my eyes were daily provisions like manna from heaven. I was looking to my own strength and ingenuity, and missing the fact that God was working all things together for good all along.

Watching Him accomplish what we never thought possible has humbled me and strengthened my faith. I know that His plan for their lives could never be thwarted by my parent’s indiscretion, or by my fears and frustrations.

God is with them and all will be well.

Copyright 2019 Mary Meyer.

 

Perfecting the Art of Laughing Through Tears

Laughing and Crying

When you’re recovering from a brain injury, everything can be really scary.

Or really funny.

You see, I have occasional blips of bad symptoms that make me think that God is never going to completely glue my grey matter back together.  The symptoms can range from feeling like I have dementia to raging adrenaline to blurry vision to disorientation of time, space and people.  Doesn’t last very long, but it keeps me wondering and waiting every day.

These symptoms are “normal” for someone in my situation, and I cry a lot.

But it’s also a big joke and I laugh a lot.

How Can You Laugh at a Time Like This?

Believe me, it sometimes feels that turning around the train of my thoughts is a Herculian effort.  Staying positive and believing that God is using all of this for my good and His glory is really, really difficult.

And yet, this verse keeps coming back to me.  And every time it makes me chuckle:

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 27,

“But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen.”

Man upside down

I think it’s absolutely hysterical that God can possibly take this lump of clay that is my brain and use it for His glory.  It’s funny that while I’m doing the “fake it until you make it” thing, most people don’t notice.  In fact, they tell me that they are blessed by me.

A Blessing?

I blessed YOU?  You’re the one who is healthy, normal, successful.  How can I, in my goofy state, have done anything for you?

I haven’t.  God has.  HE has used my weakness–my “foolishness”–to show me and the world that He is sovereign.  It makes no sense to me that my prayers, my encouragement of someone else, or my writing could possibly help someone.

In His hands, anything can be changed and used for good.

Look at all of the failures, knuckleheads, cheaters, liars, murderers, adulterers, etc. in the Bible.  From Abraham in Genesis to John in Revelation, we read about people who were so imperfect, and yet God had a plan to use the good and the bad for His ULTIMATE good.

The world, and Satan himself, thought that Jesus was the ultimate failure.  He came to earth to be king and He died a brutal death like a common criminal.

I Laugh Because I Think God Does

Smiling boy

If we are indeed made in God’s image, don’t you think He laughs?  I’m sure He does.  Best of all, He has the LAST laugh.

In every single situation in the Bible, God has turned impossible things around in ways people never would have expected.  Gideon led an army in triumph.  Joseph made it from prison to leadership in Egypt.  Daniel was saved from the mouths of lions.  Job lost everything and then gained back twice what he lost.

In every single situation, Satan thought he won.  He thought he won when David was tempted to murder and adultery.  And the world thought so too when David’s son Absalom sought to kill him (well didn’t he deserve it for all that he did?).  And yet David was called “a man after God’s own heart” and through his lineage, the Son of Man would be born.

And the ultimate laugh of all:  when Jesus rose from the dead and defeated our greatest enemy–death.  While the angels were singing on that Easter morning, I imagine God having the biggest belly laugh of all time.  I don’t think it’s irreverent to say that.  I think it’s awesome.

He is the ultimate victor.  Nothing can stop what He plans to do.  Not even a brain injury.  Let Him use it in my life if it will shut up the enemy of my soul as people are blessed by whatever He can do through me for His glory and my good.

So I will laugh about how God is using my “foolishness” now–even through tears.  And I will be laughing through eternally grateful tears on that wonderful day when He and I will sing, shout and snicker together.

It’s A Small Silly World After All

“Barbara Manatee…you are the one for me…”

I grew up in a cool time.  From the early ’70s on, my siblings and I lived like suburban Huckleberry Finns.  We would fly in and out of the front door, off on adventures that our parents didn’t ask about, or show any concern toward.

We were free to run around the neighborhood with about 40 kids we knew.  Just between our family and the one across the street there were 13 kids!  We had no problem coming up with games, pranks, construction projects, ways to light things on fire.  Typical kid stuff.

It was also a time of fabulous Saturdays.  We would hunker down in front of the TV with a bowl of Cap’n Crunch, Quisp or King Vitamin and watch the morning kid’s show lineup.  When I was young, it included Warner Brothers cartoons and Hanna Barbera live-action nonsense (HR Puffinstuff, The Bugaloos, Sigmund and the Sea Monsters) and Schoolhouse Rock.  The best of all was American Bandstand at noon.  We felt so cool seeing our favorite artists live on television and “voting” during the annual couples dance contest.

Then we’d be out the door until the streetlights came on and we had to go home for the Saturday night bath for church the next day.  Like I said, it was cool, especially because we had Mr. Bubble to look forward to every week.

Mr. Bubble

Fast Forward

Even though I raised my daughter like a total helicopter mom spazz, and every playtime and sport was organized, I still think she had a better childhood than I did. And I don’t regret being really involved in everything.  It was a blast to be her coach, recess mom, field trip mom and Brownie leader (did I mention that I was a helicopter mom?) because life is too short not to act like a big kid.

One of the things that stands out about the difference between her childhood and mine was Veggie Tales.  In case you aren’t familiar, Veggie Tales was an animated series of Bible stories placed in different times and settings, complete with vegetable characters like Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato.  The first time I saw one, I thought, “Why in the world wasn’t someone clever enough to tell Bible stories in a hip and hysterical way when I was a kid?”  I felt cheated.

Written by Phil Vischer and Mike Nawrocki (who ended up setting up shop in Wheaton), these shows were so incredibly funny.  Like Bugs Bunny cartoons, they worked for both adults and kids.  My daughter and I watched a handful of them on video on rainy afternoons and were hooked. We especially loved their silly song interludes in between scenes that were so obscure as to be hilarious.  One of their songs “Barbara Manatee”–a love song written to a manatee–became a nickname of sorts for my daughter.  Over a decade later we still call her Anna Manatee.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago.  I use doTERRA essential oils and saw a Facebook listing that caught my eye.  As I looked closer, the seller’s name was Lisa Vischer.  Vischer.  Vischer.  Where do I know that name from?

Junior asparagus

WAIT A MINUTE!  Could she be related to PHIL Vischer?  Like a stalker I clicked on her FB profile and sure enough, she was Phil’s wife!  SHE WAS JUNIOR ASPARAGUS!  For the uninitiated, Junior Asparagus spoke in a little kid’s voice and played part in many of their stories and vignettes and was so adorable. In one of the videos, Junior sings a song, “God is bigger than the boogeyman; He’s bigger than Godzilla or the monsters on TV…” that we would sing when my daughter was frightened.  Junior and all of her vegetable compadres helped me parent my child!

So again, like a stalker, I sent a PM to Lisa Vischer telling her the above story (without as much drama–I didn’t want her to report me to some local authority).  She sent me the cutest response back, saying that she was happy that their videos were a blessing to our family.  Then she said the cutest thing that I could just hear in her little Junior Asparagus voice:  “Please pass along Jr’s greetings to Anna Manatee”.

I’m such a dork that it was like getting a phone call from the president.  I immediately messaged my daughter at college who thought it was very sweet, but wasn’t as effusive in her excitement as me.  How could she not be excited that I got a message from Junior Asparagus???

I think we clearly know who the more mature adult in this mother/daughter relationship is. That’s okay.  I’m going to go put on a Veggie Tales video this afternoon and listen to french peas speaking in a french accent, and laugh until I cry.