People have been accrediting me with all sorts of things lately. Most of which I do not deserve.
They say I've been the catalyst for life-changing stuff. That I've been responsible for altering their perspective on things, allowing them to appreciate life more, enjoy their kids more, and love God more. But I honestly do not deserve such praise.
Friends, if you have seen anything good in me, it is not me. It is the Lord.
And I'm not just trying to be humble here. It is the truth.
When I was very very young, I gave my life to Christ. I told Him that He could do with me what He wanted. That I would try and be sensitive to His words and do my best to live in a way that He would be pleased. In exchange, He offered me life that would never end. A joy-filled life filled with hope. Promise. And a good future. Not a bad exchange, if you ask me.
When each of our kids were born, we chose to dedicate them to the Lord. It was a visible way for us to show others that we acknowledged our kids' true Owner. And that together, we would raise them in a way that God would be pleased. To point them to Him. So that someday, they might begin their journey with the only One that could ever give them a meaningful life.
And that, my friends, is exactly what you've been seeing. It is not us, but rather, it is God working inside of us. He is simply taking us up on our offer. He seems to have chosen us - for whatever reason - to remind people that He is still God. He is still on the throne. And that He can be trusted.
As a kid, people would have always classified me as an introvert. Quiet. Shy. Ask anyone I went to school with and they would use the same exact words. As I got older, I grew more confident and found myself in leadership positions. Not because I particularly liked being in charge, but because I found great joy in seeing things done well. Eventually, that meant leading my own classroom and now, being the CEO of my household. As much as someone might try and classify me as an extrovert at times, that quiet little Mindy is still inside of me. And I never feel far away from her. That's also why I prefer to write than speak, whenever I am given the choice. Because I need additional time to process my thoughts. To work them out in front of me. I rarely say what I would have wanted to say if I was just shooting from the hip. I need time. That's just how my mind works.
I say all of this to point out the fact that it is, in fact, GOD inside of me that is making any positive change. People themselves can't change other people. Only God can do that. If you do see any good in me, it is the Lord.
Lately, I've been thinking about the fact that adversity is oftentimes the thing that makes someone who they are. A firefighter isn't a hero until he or she has gone through the fire and survived. A lawyer isn't deemed successful until they've worked hard to win their first big case. A doctor cannot be recommended to others until he or she has successfully helped another person. We need to walk through the fire at times in order to know how much more we could handle. Because that's just a part of life.
Each of those positions are jobs you train for. A police officer knows ahead of time what they are training for, what possibilities to expect. Because that's part of the job, they need to accept and expect it before they begin training. What about a position that doesn't require a license? A notable occupation for which there aren't required classes, degrees or awards?
How about that of a parent?
God didn't send down A Complete Book of Answers for Parenting Your Specific Child the moment we conceived. We pray for wisdom, we seek guidance, we ask for counsel from trusted friends along the way. But there are no real rules. No instructions. No "one right way" to do things.
It's as if we signed a blank check when our kids were born, when we adopted them or when God brought them into our family through another means. We promised to do whatever we could to assist our children to grow into mature, contributing members of society. Of God's kingdom. But one of the risks is the fact that we have no control over how that check will be cashed. Perhaps we would be asked to parent a child with special needs, a birth defect or the one that would grow up and discover the cure for cancer. We are given no guarantees that we won't suffer heartache, difficulty or vast amounts of success. As a parent, we agree to take on whatever challenges our particular child may be blessed with. And we promise that we will love them unconditionally, as long as God entrusts them to us.
Unlike professions like law enforcement or medicine, parents don't always know what they're walking into. That's why it is so important to trust God with our lives. Our kids' lives. Because only He can equip us with exactly what we will need for the road ahead. And to give us the grace - each day - to not only get through each day, but enjoy it to the fullest.
I am nothing special. Just quiet, little Mindy. But let me tell you about my God, who has changed every single aspect of my life for the better. Now He is something to brag about.
This truth feels especially relevant tonight.
We were walking into Carrabba's tonight for Ben's latest pizza/pasta appetite when Ben stumbled. At first, I thought he had tripped over Jack's feet. But holding his hand as we walked through the double doors, I realized that he was leading with his left foot and the right foot was kinda dragging for a few steps behind him. He asked to be picked up because his "legs felt funny." I carried him to a seat and just sat there with Andy and the kids. Stunned. Oh, no. Ben said his eyes were feeling like they wanted to close and that he was beginning to get a headache.
Our hearts sank. Please, God. No.
He recovered quickly and said the headache was gone. I asked if he would stand and walk again. He proved that he could. Initially, we turned around to leave, but when all three kids started crying that they wouldn't get their fill of bread and pasta, we decided to stay and see what happened. We put a call into the doctor and enjoyed a wonderful meal with no other episodes of discomfort.
But let me tell you, I'll be sleeping with one eye open tonight.
It has been such a great few weeks. Up until tonight, Ben has shown no signs of deterioration. No loss of coordination, speech, or memory. But tonight we were reminded - once again - how precious our time is and not to take anything for granted.
I do not feel comfortable operating in my own strength. I need God to walk beside me. To hold my hand. And to carry me when I am no longer strong enough to walk on my own.
Because if it weren't for God's strength, I would have crumbled weeks ago.