Posts Tagged ‘fear’

19

Nineteen days,  who knew that nineteen days would ever come to be so meaningful to me. I am not going to digress to the back story that builds the significance of these days.  You can get a sense of the whole journey here.  It represents the realization of on incredible Miracle in our lives and the beginnings of another.  Day 1 will forever be a joyous day.  We will celebrate the birth of Nisa Faith year after year.  Day 1 is the culmination of nine months of a melange of concern, faith, fear, trust and surrender.  It was a day of arrival, of life, of completion.  It was a day of overt blessing.  December 16th of 2012 was a joyous day.  What Allana and I did not know, what we could not have known was that it was a day of provision, a day of strength given.  I would be lying if I said that I sat at this computer with a solid thesis or a planned allegory.  The reality is that when I wrote this it was my first opportunity to truly experience and embrace the nineteen days.  When they occurred they were simply another nineteen days in the Christmas season and in 2013 we were still too deeply embroiled the Allana’s battle against Leukemia and the recovery from the Bone Marrow Transplant for me to experience them the way that I did as I was writing.  Now, five years out we sit at a new crossroads.  We have moved from sickness to health and out of the ashes of cancer God is teaching truths of life and ministry that are new every day.

Day 1 was not without its difficulties, ask any mother and she will tell you that this particular joy comes with its own brand of pain.  Two dear friends who were expecting when I originally posted these thoughts, engaged in a tongue-in-cheek argument on Facebook concerning any man’s ability to truly conceive of the trials and eventual pains of pregnancy and birth.  I do not even pretend (or desire) to really understand, preferring to stand by Allana’s side than in her place for this particular event.  Chayla’s birth was a stroll in the park, Nisa’s was more like a kick in the gut and then a short sprint to the finish line (a race in which Nisa beat our doctor and surprised our nurse).  Still, there she was, perfect, beautiful, a miracle from the hand of God.  We basked in the joy of the now.  We knew it was day one, but not that there were only 18 days left to this paragraph of our lives.

The frenzy of the night (Nisa was born at 9:40 pm) and the flush of the first day gives way to a wash of relief. The tensions of the past nine months; the fear at each ultrasound appointment; the waiting for the pronouncement that a new cycle of loss and grief would begin; they all fall away.Nisa Day 2

We joyfully prepare to bring Nisa home.  I am not sure that my words can express Day 2 any better than the twinkle in Allana’s eyes.  This Christmas gift is probably the best that we have ever received.  The whole family rejoices at the absence of that fateful “talk” with Robert, Sami and Chayla.  Each of us in our own way process the losses of the past in the joyous light of Nisa’s arrival.  We cannot help think of the siblings in heaven, from the Crashing resonation of Josiah’s passing to the unheralded passing of Ezra Matthew.   Day 2 becomes about rest, enjoyment and blessing.  The gathering storm is still beyond the horizon.  There is no sense of the deadly changes perhaps just beginning to take place.  Still what would come does not erase the joy and peace of Day 2.  It only serves to highlight it and to make me more thankful for God’s grace than ever.

NisaHome

 

 

The frenzied posting, calling and emailing is over.  Nisa Faith has been announced to the world.  As we approached the day that we celebrate our Saviors birth, we finally get to truly celebrate Nisa’s coming.

D. A. Precious: And those cheeks! I’m so happy for you!
December 19, 2012 at 1:48am · Like

Allana Belrose Guidry: I know. They are getting lots of kisses
December 19, 2012 at 1:54am · Like · 2

Nisa’s cheeks are getting a lot of kisses.  Allana is feeling a little more tired than usual….but then she just had a baby and she is not as young as she used to be.

We were prepared for all of the life changes that a newborn brings.  Bassinet, Pack n Play, bottles, formula, car seat, diapers etc….  What we did not know was that God had also prepared us for the changes that most likely even on this day six years ago were beginning to take place in the depths of Allana’s bones (weird to type that and not mean it metaphorically).  Eleven years of growth through struggle as a family, as individuals and as children of the Living God was about to be tested in a way that we had not imagined even in our wildest nightmares.  Still even as we were prepared for Nisa’s arrival, God had prepared us for that which we could not have even begun to be ready for.  So many crossroads where God directed what seemed the long and windy path.  It seemed so foolish, as foolish as buying diapers and preparing a nursery for a baby that would never come.

Nisa was here, and the long and windy path would soon be clear.

 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

The frenzy of birth fades in the light of our celebration of our Saviors arrival on the scene.  These days are filled with wonderful preparation and quiet enjoyment (with little sleep).  We are blessed by the generosity of so many of you who will read this, as we were suddenly and unexpectedly blessed this year.  Then as now I don’t know why I am surprised when I pray for provision and it comes in abundance.  Presents are wrapped as Nisa is loved and coddled by so many.  The preparations made over the previous month are in full use now.  Allana is enjoying her Christmas blessing, drinking in Nisa’s presence having desired this particular beverage for so very long.

She wakes on Day 7, a little sore, her throat a bit raspy and maybe just a touch of fever.  Not to worry, she did just give birth and the crazy weather is enough to make anyone a bit….

The preparations made over a lifetime by an all knowing God are about to be tested.  Quiet joy and praises rise from home and ministry wrapped in one.  So much has been put on hold as we waited for Nisa.  We are already making plans for the Spring and Summer, mapping out what our lives and ministry will look like.  We did not know that in less than two weeks everything would change, but God had been molding us into “change managers” for some time.  Early in our journey to full-time ministry when I had left the Hospitality industry God had given me a word that I would only know what I would be doing and how we would be living 30 days at a time.  It was frustrating and difficult but it prepared me for the runaway train ride that was coming.

The fevers worsened.  We moved through Christmas and towards the New Year.  Sore throat spread to body aches and stomach pain.  These days so close to the day that everything changed are barely a blur in my memory.  I can remember little of what happened outside of the progression of the illness that we didn’t even know was there.  Even with the fevers and discomfort there was a blissful ignorance as to the journey that we were being called to embark on.  Just to put the whole piece into perspective, Nisa was born at 9:40 pm on December 16th.  The 17th is day one and we move on from there.  So we are looking at December 25th through January 1st.  As I review the various posts on Facebook I see faces of joy and innocence.  The fevers are a footnote to the joy of the season made even more joyful by the arrival of our miracle baby.  Allana even downplays the intensity of the fevers putting them at 102. By the night of the 31st they are spiking between 104 and 106, or maybe not wanting to worry her too much I fudge the numbers a little, I do not really remember..  A trip to the ER is only forestalled by the fact that the Ibuprofen is knocking them down into safer territory.  Still by New Years Day it was enough.  We called Allana’s OB office.  The doctor on call prescribes a heavy duty antibiotic and some anti nausea medicine to mitigate the side effects.  We start it right away, but of course she does not get better.  By January 2nd Allana is very sick.  The pain in her belly has gotten much worse.  We suspect a postpartum infection but don’t understand why the antibiotics do not help.  January 3rd is a Thursday.  We arrive at the OB office at 10:00 am and are ushered in to the examining room.  Our Nurse Practitioner listens patiently to the story, but as the physical exam progresses her demeanor changes.  There is an urgency to her motions as she feels the abnormal swelling in Allana’s belly, the tenderness and lumps at her joints.  I can feel my apprehension risings, but still there are so many pills, shots, treatments…a quick fix is in order…

“I have called the Flower Hospital, they are expecting her.”  What…we need to get some tests… “No we are admitting her.”  We have plans can it wait until Monday… “No, I want you there within 2 hours, go home settle the children and pick up what you need.  Once you are there they will begin running tests to see what is going on.”

FlowerJan3Well if you have to be in a hospital you might as well have a beautiful view and a beautiful woman to share it with.

It was only shortly after this picture was taken that I would hear the word “Leukemia” for the first time, mixed in with a couple of other potential causes for Allana’s test results.  If the fevers were the relentless clacking as the rollercoaster climbs the first rise, then this was the ominous pause before the first drop.  The ride would not stop for almost a year.  However while the emotions and physical aspects rode the speeding rails, God remained rock solid and faithful.  The outpouring of love from God’s people was incredible.  Even in the midst of the myriad of “spiritual” advisers who decried our lack of faith for continuing treatment or saw this as a sign of trouble in our walk with God; His love overwhelmed us. “Traveling deeper and deeper.  Closer closer to God”  Allana’s words would ring with truth in a way that neither of us could ever imagine.  Deeper and Deeper. Closer, closer to God…there was no where else to go.

I am going to follow this up with more posts around The Nineteen Days.  I too often forget to lead with the fact that Allana came through treatment well and has been cancer free for over 5 years now.  While we have weathered short forays into ministry together through the past years,  we are again engaged together in His service.  Grandchildren have come.  Children have grown, married, prepared for High School and College.  Nisa turned 6 today.  We walk the Hupomone road following His guidance and blessing.  We are so thankful for all of those who have held us when we were weak and walked with us as we have traveled.

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police dog

 

I was driving down a local road on my way home recently when I passed a car that had been pulled over by the Toledo Police Department.  Just as I passed them the officer opened the back door of his cruiser and led out a police dog.  My view then turned to the young lady in the driver’s seat.  I caught her just as she became aware of the impending visit of the police dog.  Her face was a melange of fear, guilt, regret and despair.  In that moment it captured a whole series of decisions that led her to this moment.  I couldn’t help think that she personified in that moment the plight of humanity before a righteous God.  She was Adam and Eve hiding in the garden from the voice of God (Genesis 3:8); the mass of humanity pounding on the door of the Ark (Genesis 7:21); David standing before Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12:1); Ananias and Sapphira standing before Peter (Acts 5).  Granted the implications of her plight do not approach the consequences in each of these biblical examples, yet I can only imagine that her heart was very much in the same place.  I cannot speak to her knowledge of God or to the potential relationships  that have spoken truth to her.  I will probably never know the final consequences of this moment in her life.

This is a moment that we have all experienced.  We have all had those “sniffed out” moments.  We look in the mirror and see the dog that will “sniff out” our dishonesty, our greed, our anger, our sin making its way toward the vehicle of our life. Our hearts experience the same mix of emotion that I saw on our unnamed young lady’s face.  What I could not see, and what makes all the difference is what her soul (and ours) does with the emotions of being “sniffed out”.  Sin is universal and an unavoidable result of the human condition. (Romans 3:23)  The Holy Spirit is the ultimate “police dog”, perfect in His ability to sniff out and expose sin. (John 16:7-10) However the big difference is the Holy Spirit desperately loves the sinner. (John 3:16) When the Holy Spirit sniffs out sin, he wraps us in His arms and does His best to lead us to repentance and redemption.  God sacrificed His son Jesus Christ to ensure that this could happen.  We only have to reach out to Him and “take the deal”.  When we take it, the sentence is an eternity of praising God in perfect relationship with Him.  It is a deal that cannot be scammed, tricked or manipulated.  There is no negotiation.  It is the ultimate deal, offered by the one true God with only one alternative, death. (Romans 6:23)

God calls us to focus on the Gospel, the good news when the Holy Spirit convicts.  Hopelessness and terror are the message of the Devil.  He works to turn the work of the Holy Spirit into condemnation and despair.  Paul recognized this when he penned one of my favorite chapter in the Bible, Romans 8:

“Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you from from the law of sin and of death.”  Romans 8:1-2

It is Satan’s greatest desire that we suffer the fear, the despair of the Law, twisting the loving act of conviction into the hateful act of condemnation. Paul goes on to speak of this very Holy Spirit that sniffs out our sin, “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba Father!'” Romans 8:15  

Imagine with me for a moment that even as that police dog sniffs out her sin, the young woman throws her arms around his neck and confessing her own blindness lets him lead her out of despair into the light of adoption, a light brighter and more full of hope than the lights of a thousand police cars.

 

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fear

I did not sleep well last night.  I find that as we approach the time of returning home and as the visits to the hospital and to our doctors become fewer and far between, there is not a sense of relief but a sense of fear.  Throw into the mix the new healthcare laws going into effect in a matter of days and not really knowing how that will impact Allana’s ongoing care and I find myself doing just a little bit of internal churning.  Friday enhanced for me the precariousness of her situation.  This is not to say that this sense of fear came on suddenly, it has been building.  It just kind of peaked last night and early this morning.  But as I finally gave in to the hopelessness of getting back to sleep, again…I heard buzz of an incoming email and this is what I found:

Sep 29, 2013

Facing Your Fears

By Charles F. Stanley

http://www.intouch.org/you/article-archive/content?topic=facing_your_fears_article

I wanted to smile and cry at the same time.   At that point the content of the devotional didn’t really matter.  God was just reminding me the He knows where I am at every minute of every day.  I am a little disappointed in myself that after all of His miraculous interventions in my life I am so easily sidetracked but it is great to KNOW that I have the God who is ready to coddle me when my human weaknesses show through.  I did of course read the piece and the first major point highlighted what had really happened.

“The first and best move you can make to build up your faith is to get your eyes off your problem and off yourself and onto Jesus. He is the Source of all your supply. He is utterly reliable and possesses all knowledge and all authority. Speak aloud the words of Hebrews 13:6 until they sink deep within your spirit: “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”

People may criticize, reject, ridicule and persecute, but they can’t take away your salvation, your relationship with Jesus Christ, your eternal home in heaven, or the joy, contentment, and inner strength the Lord imparts to you.”

It is part of the incredible human disconnect that is at the heart of our faith.  For the Children of God successfully facing fear means not looking at the problem, or problems that bring the fear, it means looking right into the face of Jesus.  It is from this place that Paul tells the Philippians that he has learned to be content no matter what his circumstances are because no matter what is going on around him or what is happening to him, the face of Christ never changes.  I would encourage you to go and read the rest of Stanley’s devotional for today but here are the basic points

Second, ask the Lord to give you the help you need.

Third, encourage yourself by memorizing the Word of God and quoting it as often as you need a fear-buster of inner strength.

And, finally, ask others to pray for you.

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During that night the LORD said to Gideon, “Get up, go down against the camp, because I am going to give it into your hands.  If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah …”  Judges 7:9-10

So back to Gideon for a minute.  Let’s run it down real quick…

winepress hiding…Great Warrior…Who me?…offering…fire…wow….Altar of Baal…Asherah pole….Broken down…burnt offering to the Lord…..who did it….let Baal defend himself….Midianites….Amelakites….Spirit of the Lord…fleeces…32,000…10,000…300 and here we are. 

God wants Gideon go after more than 100,000 with 300 and IF he is afraid God has an even better plan.  Walk into the enemy camp, just two of you.  I have no idea how difficult it would be for the Midianites to recognize two Jews among them.  Regardless it doesn’t seem like a great plan to me.  But often God calls us to walk into and through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  It is there in that valley that we can receive the greatest encouragement.  It is there in the valley that our faith is affirmed.  I think of David and Saul, Daniel and the lion’s den, three young men and a fiery furnace

 The Midianites, the Amalekites and all the other eastern peoples had settled in the valley, thick as locusts. Their camels could no more be counted than the sand on the seashore.  Judges 7:12

“As thick as locust”, most of us have not had a opportunity to see a locust swarm utterly destroy an entire agricultural area.  I have seen videos but I am sure it cannot compare to feeling of the locusts beating against your body as you desperately try to salvage the crop that is your life.  This would have been a very pointed picture to the people of the day.  It alludes to more than just the number.  Locusts are incredibly destructive and in this time period the people had no defense.  I can almost hear Gideon describing the Midianite army to his grandchildren and their squeals as he describes them as a huge swarm of locusts.

   Gideon arrived just as a man was telling a friend his dream. “I had a dream,” he was saying. “A round loaf of barley bread came tumbling into the Midianite camp. It struck the tent with such force that the tent overturned and collapsed.”  His friend responded, “This can be nothing other than the sword of Gideon son of Joash, the Israelite. God has given the Midianites and the whole camp into his hands.”  When Gideon heard the dream and its interpretation, he worshiped God. He returned to the camp of Israel and called out, “Get up! The LORD has given the Midianite camp into your hands.”  Judges 7:12-15

God supplied exactly the encouragement that Gideon needed and he supplied it from the mouth of the enemy.  God has it ALL under control.  Trust Him and he will demonstrate it over and over.  Gideon’s encouragement came from the object of his discouragement.  God recognized Gideon’s fear, drew him to it and then blew it away.  If we trust Him with the object of our fear and discouragement, He will blow it away. 

 

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