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Taking on A Bold Identity

Today I’m sharing my story over at the lovely Rachel Britton’s blog. If you’ve never read my story before, I encourage you to check it out. It’s short, but sweet.

Here’s the thing – low self esteem can sometimes rob self worth. When people stare or make rude comments, it leaves me feeling like I amount to nothing. It temporarily strips me of my confidence in my identity – a daughter of the King.

Read more here: https://rachelbritton.com/taking-bold-identity/

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The What-Ifs

Sometimes the night can be cruel. As I write this, I am laying in bed and everything is silent. Silence can be exhausting sometimes. The steady drone of the heater running as fast as my thoughts in this darkened room. My husband snoring beside me, the steady rhythm of his breathing usually brings me comfort. But not tonight.

Tonight the what-ifs have consumed me.

Do you ever struggle with those pesky what-ifs? They creep up on you sometimes. The what-ifs that come and steal your contentment. The what-ifs that rob you of your peace.

Tonight I’m flooded with these what-ifs. Generally, I try to sail through life with a positive attitude, even though things are hard in my life. But the what-ifs tamper with that and taunt me as I toss and turn, restless and without sleep.

What if I die before my kids are grown?

What if my kids will never be able to be independent?

What if I end up in a wheelchair before I’m 40?

What if my kids never get married and find happiness?

Again, what if I die before my kids are grown?

And then the hardest what-if, the one that prematurely breaks my heart and causes me the most stress…

What if my husband dies and we have no one to love and care for us? 

That is the worst of all the what-ifs because my husband is rock solid. I understand he is not THE rock. But he is a rock. Or maybe a rock star. The truth of it is, we all depend on him. God knew how great our needs would be and all those years ago he sent me Stephen. And I can’t even begin to comprehend what life would be like without him. It’s my greatest what-if.

My heart is burdened by all these what-ifs. And in the dark of night I often forget that He is faithful. Didn’t I just say He provided me with a gracious, gentle and providing husband? He knew my needs before I did. And He arranged for them to be taken care of by giving me a husband whose love covers even helping me put on my socks and shave my legs. How much more will He provide when I ask?

Do not worry about anything, instead pray about everything. Ask God for what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

There’s a reason why this is my life verse. Because I need this constant reminder. I need to remember to be truly thankful for His blessings. I need to remember to worry less and ask Him more often. I don’t know why this is so hard for me to do. After all, He loves to take care of me.

Matt 6:25-34

That is why I tell you not to worry about every day life  – whether you have enough food and drink, or clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Any why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown in the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?So don’t worry about these things, saying, “What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?” These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers , but your heavenly Father already knows your needs. Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.  Matthew 6:25-34

This afternoon as I walked past the park on my way to pick up my son from school, I was distracted by two ducks. They were splashing and swimming in a pool of melted snow. Melted snow that just so happened to have collected in the kids wading pool. The ducks were happily bathing and playing in this water like it was there just for them. But then, maybe it was. God provides food for the birds, but He also provides a place for them to rest and play. If he cares about these little ducks enough to give them a special place to play in the spring melt, how much more does He care about me?

He cares about the things that worry me. But here’s the thing. He provides for my needs, no matter what they may be. As I was watching the ducks in the pond, a peace settled over my heart. At the time, I wasn’t sure why but now I know. As the what-ifs creep in during the night, I can claim that peace and let it settle over my heart again. Because if He tends to the ducks in the spring, He will tend to my needs if the what-ifs become reality. God has a plan for my what-ifs. And He has a plan for yours, too.

Quote ImageIt is hard to wrap our minds around the truth that we don’t need to worry. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a worrier. I worry about the small every day things. I worry about the big, scary and important things. Sometimes I worry so much I make myself sick. I’m constantly forgetting this passage of scripture. But He lovingly reminds me by sending me ducks in a wading pool.

So even when the what-ifs become a reality, my loving God will carry me through. He is the One who can transform the what-ifs to when-it’s. Instead of worrying what-if this happens, I can rest in knowing when it’s happening He will be guiding my steps, caring for my needs and holding my heart in His loving hands. And He will be doing that for you too.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received has brought about your adoption into sonship. Romans 8:15 .

We have a loving Father. He loves to care for us and provide for our needs. Just like we may have trusted our earthly father or father figures to care for our needs, we can trust our heavenly Father even more.

We don’t need to fear for our future. We don’t need to worry about the looming what-ifs that creep up in the night. We can rest in knowing that we are perfectly loved by a God who knows our needs before we do and who has a plan for our lives, no matter what painful what-ifs we may live through.

Sleep comes easier when you rest in Jesus. The next time those what-ifs creep up and steal your peace, remember the when-it’s. And sleep well, knowing that you are loved and cared for. Because even if the worst happens, He can resurrect the good from every situation.

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We are Winners 

A great discontent rolled in and settled over my heart tonight. My heart tossed like white capped waves on the sea. A friend of mine is dying.

I can close my eyes and remember a happier time where the sun shone as brightly as our future. Where happy hearts, free and unbounded reigned. I can smell the fresh grass and hear the birds singing. I can hear our laughter as we ran through open fields while being chased by her family’s donkey. Memories hold such power. Emotions do too.

My heart is heavy and my tears flow. These memories feel emptier somehow. These memories were from when we were carefree teens with a twinkle in our eyes and dreams as big as the clouds passing through that glorious blue sky. We didn’t know what was yet to come.

The next year she was diagnosed with MD. She dealt with it with such grace it made me proud to call her friend. That summer I moved away, but we kept in touch through the years as she she met and married her shy guy and I met and married mine. And then children were born and we rejoiced.

It was a few years later when we realized how much our lives mirrored each other’s. I had two sons with autism. Her second born is autistic. We supported each other through the distance, united in our cause. A bit later, she lived out my future as she built a ramp outside her house for her wheelchair. Two very different diseases. Two very different friends. Two very different lives. Yet so similar.

We each have loving, gentle husbands who support us daily. Both physically and emotionally. Practical hands on help, while still believing we are beautiful. As she loses her hair with cancer treatments, her husband tells her to look into his eyes to see her beauty instead of looking in a mirror. As I struggle to walk on my large, deformed legs my husband tells me my eyes are so beautiful it’s all he sees. Heaven sent husbands by a God who knew our needs before we could imagine what was coming.

And now we know. Cancer, on top of everything else she’s suffered. It’s so painful to think of a world without my friend. I was thinking about it tonight as I tucked in my oldest son. He could see the grief on my face, something he has worked hard to be able to understand. He asked me why I was sad, and I told him. I explained how desperately hard it was to be so far away and not be able to spend time with her before she goes. He took my hand and said, “you’ll see her again. You know you will, Mom. And Great Grandma and Wendy and all the people you loved who went home. And you might not even have to wait too long.” Such wise words from my sweet son, and fresh tears for his perception of my own condition which I almost wish he didn’t understand. I turned off his light, and before I shut the door, he called out again. “Mom? When your friend dies she will be perfect. She won’t be sick anymore. And neither will you. You can take her hand and both run together again.”

And just like I saw a picture of  us, like we were teenagers, in a grassy meadow on a summer day. Running hand in hand. Except we weren’t teenagers anymore.

And it brought me back to something my friend said about being winners. She said if God healed us, it would be a win. But if we died, we would be with Him. Either way, we’d be winners.

And so we win. And I’m thankful to have her in my life, even though it’s breaking my heart that she has to go. Because as a teenager had an influence on my life. And her influence coupled with the influence of others made me understand my deep need for salvation that only Christ can bring. My heart was restless until it found rest in Him. And that’s where I find my rest even now, when we hope and wait for His hand to intervene.

But even if He doesn’t this time, we’re still winners.

I love you my friend. Rest well, now. You are a winner.

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Beyond Measure

I have never really been one for measurements. I don’t like measuring anything, to be honest with you. I am most definitely the kind of girl who eyeballs everything – when cooking, creating, hanging pictures – measuring tapes aren’t used. To be completely honest with you, I don’t even know what those laser thingies that people use to hang pictures are even called. And you know what? I am not ashamed to admit it. 
Over the years, I have dabbled in different crafts. There’s just something about crafting that soothes my soul. That being said, I always tell people not to look too closely at anything I make, because if you do you will see there are a lot of imperfections. When I crochet things, I may have missed a stitch or two. When I make cards, my papers are crooked – all the time. I know you might suggest I get a stitch counter, or a ruler to solve those issues, but that would suck the enjoyment right out of things for me. I have a creative brain, not a mathematical one!
 
As with many hobbies, the crafting “community” is huge. I know there are a lot of talented crafters out there and occasionally I’ll check out different blogs and Pinterest to see what their latest and greatest creations are. One day, out of the blue, I stumbled upon an absolutely gorgeous card someone had made. I started to compare it to my own. Next to this particular card, mine were the most imperfect, crooked and ridiculous cards on the blogosphere.
 
Why is it so easy to compare ourselves to others? For a girl who doesn’t like measuring, I sure try to measure myself against others a lot. I wish I wouldn’t do it, because it steals my joy and robs me of seeing how I fit into His kingdom.
Not many moments later after that card catastrophe, I received a text from a friend who had received a card that I had made and sent her in the mail. She wrote about how she had been going through a difficult time and my card was just what she needed to lift her spirits. A few hours later, I received a Facebook message from a friend of mine who was fighting cancer who said that the cards and gifts I had sent her throughout her journey had always come at the perfect time.
And here’s what I sometimes miss when I busy myself with trying to measure up to the accomplishments of others. God knew what these two women needed, and He used me to reach out to them to fulfil it. I was part of His plan for their lives. My story was to intertwine with theirs. God loves those two women immeasurably more than I do, and He used my crooked, imperfect cards to deliver them a message of hope and encouragement. And that’s when the joy of making cards started to creep back in my heart. If God used my cards to uplift others, who cares if they are not as beautiful and perfect as the next person’s?
But there’s something even more important to learn here aside from crooked cards or crocheted blankets that are missing a few stitches. Like this truth in Ephesians 3:17-19:
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
His love for us is immeasurable – it’s difficult to comprehend how deep, how high and how wide his love is for us. I don’t think any of us could ever measure God’s love for us. Stop and think about that for a moment – something you actually, physically CAN NOT MEASURE. 
 
He knows every little detail of our story, and what we are going through right now that may restrict us or conflict us is all part of His plan. (1)I will be the first to admit it, my creative heart kind of loves that. I can’t even measure His love. Neither can Albert Einstein, or my eleven year old son who can out-math me any day of the week. Nor can the most mathematically minded person on the planet. It just is not possible. Isn’t that amazing?
His love is so incredibly full, it will never end. It is so long and wide, you can never stretch far enough to reach the end, because there isn’t one. His love is so deep, you can’t reach the bottom. His love is so high, you’ll never get to the top.
How perfectly beautiful. 
 
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Autism is Everywhere 

Every year in April I like to reflect on autism and our journey.April is Autism Awareness month, and with two boys on the spectrum, it’s nice to look back on where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

One of the things I’ve discovered as an autism parent is this: autism is everywhere. Before our first son was diagnosed our pediatrician said he may just be “quirky” and now whenever I see someone who is quirky I wonder. Like the seventy something that walked past me at the grocery store smiled and said beep beep beep. Like the teenager who can’t stop touching the crayons in the doctor’s office. Like the toddler at the library reciting the countries on a map.

I see it now.

The quirks aren’t terrible. In fact, sometimes they’re incredible. Sometimes they are gifts. When Aiden was a year old, my Mom bought him a set of toddler flash cards and laminated them. At the time, I thought it was a bit silly. But he brought them over to me one day and I went along with it. I’d show him the card and tell him the colour, shape, or number. I didn’t think much of it until a few days later I heard him rummaging through a box and chattering to himself in his cute little baby voice. I glanced over and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He pulled out the three cards and laid them on the floor. He picked up the first card and said, green, oh green!” He looked at me and smiled. Realizing I was watching  him, he brought the cards over and laid them beside me. He repeated what he’d just said. Then picked up the second card. “Pear. Pear is green.” Then the third card. “One. I see one pear.” I picked up all the cards then and showed him each card. He recited every single one.

It’s one of my favourite Aiden memories. While other parents had playdates and dress up, I had a little smarty pants. Sure, he wasn’t great at playing with other kids. And when he did okay with toys, he didn’t always play with them as others would. But right then, as he chattered about his flash cards, I didn’t even care. In fact, I never really noticed.

Before we knew, he was just Aiden. He did some goody things, but we didn’t ask questions. When he wore shorts with rubber boots because that’s what he felt was comfortable, we didn’t think it was important. When he cried in October as I packed away his beloved shorts, it didn’t register for me as a problem area. I just sat him down and explained why we couldn’t wear shorts in Canada with winter on the horizon. He still cried uncontrollably at the injustice of it all, until we settled on having his beloved bear he named Bob wear the shorts. In that moment, I didn’t even realize I was using an autism strategy. In that moment, I was just being a Mom.

 

Silver Anniversary

Fast forward a year or so and kindergarten arrived. He was so excited. On the first day of school he woke up at 5 a.m. and got dressed and woke me up for breakfast. He was devastated to learn he still had to wait several hours before it was time. When we walked the twenty minutes to school I could barely keep up. His little red backpack was hung on his hook and his shoes tucked away in his cubby. One last squeeze before he started. And that’s where the good memories of kindergarten stopped. And where autism became a real, living thing in our lives.

I could go on about the negative things that autism brings. But today, I want to focus on the positive. So I’ll shift my focus to another little boy…

Eternal Sunshine. That is how I would describe my Micah. Ever since he was a tiny little baby he would wake up happy. He still does. Granted, he wakes up way before anyone else in the house. And if I am being honest, it’s sometimes hard to be happy with him when he wakes up at the crack of dawn – but his happiness has brought me joy for almost a decade. He gets excited about every little thing. Each day is full of possibilities. He is imaginative, he is creative, he is a beautiful soul – and he’s also autistic.

His story is so different from his brother’s. Autism is everywhere, but no two autistic people are the same. It is a very diverse spectrum. What is evident for one is not for another. We didn’t notice any similarities between the two, so it was a bit unexpected when Micah was diagnosed.  I struggled with it at first, but then I realized something – it doesn’t define who he is.

When he was younger, he used to be the first one to be able to bring Aiden back from a meltdown. I remember one day, Aiden was in his room wrapped up in the curtains sobbing. I don’t remember what the meltdown was about. I don’t remember how Micah came to be there with us. But he walked up to his brother, wrapped his arms around him and squeezed him as hard as a little four year old boy could squeeze. Aiden stopped crying and came out of the curtain and a few minutes later, they were noisily playing with their trains in the playroom.

One afternoon, a little boy was walking home from school when he fell off his bike in front of our house and scraped his knee and hurt his arm. Micah was the first to run over to him and sit beside him. Putting his little arms around him, he comforted him. In his powerful voice, he called out for help until several adults came running. Someone whipped out their phone and the boys parents were called. Arriving quickly, they carried him off to the hospital for a suspected broken arm. Micah waved until he couldn’t see their car anymore.

Last year, the morning after my grandmother passed away, I was rushing to get the boys ready for school. It is always a bit crazy in our house in the mornings. After they had eaten, lunches were packed, ball caps were found and sunscreen was applied, I sat down on the couch to get my bearings. There was a school picnic that day and I didn’t really feel like going. A little hand slipped into mine as Micah laid his head on my arm and said, “it’s okay if we need to be sad today. Great Grandma was special to us and now she’s gone.” Wise words from a little eight year old boy. He sat there with me for a few minutes and calmed my soul. When it was time to leave, the boys pulled on their shoes and back packs and Micah said, “but she’d still want us to be happy enough to go to the picnic, right?” We went to the picnic.

Aiden is smart, helpful and a hard worker. Micah is compassionate, kind and creative. Two very different boys from the same family. Two very different boys with the same diagnosis.

In our house, signs of autism are everywhere. In the kitchen, we have a this/then chart and rewards system. In the bedrooms we have routine task reminders. The living room sports television shows that are more appropriate for preschoolers. The playroom is filled with toys other 9 and 11 year old boys wouldn’t be caught playing with. The cupboards full of medication they need to take to survive the world outside these walls.

As I walk through our home, I am content. Yes, being an autism parent is often difficult. I am aware of the long, hard hours it takes. I know the heartbreak and stress intimately. But I also know the joy. It is in Aiden’s hard work and helpful attitude. It is in Micah’s creativity and compassion. Autism is real and live in our lives. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

 

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Preparing for Battle 

Once upon a time I dreamed of being a figure skater. I imagined gliding over the ice on perfectly white skates, twirling and jumping in perfection. During the winter months I was glued to the television, watching athletes masterfully dance across the ice. It looked so glamorous. And don’t even get me started on the outfits. Glitter? Yes, please.

Sometimes dreams die. My figure skating dream died the day I was skating on a canal behind my elementary school and I twisted my ankle. I fell flat on my face and when I hit the ice, I realized I didn’t have the skills or the grace to make that dream a reality.

While I wasn’t to broken up over the death of that dream, I have had others die that have been harder to process. Little did I know not being able to figure skate was going to be the least of my worries – and that not being able to walk was going to be one of the worst.

You may know I was recently diagnosed with an untreatable disease called Lipedema. While this disease comes with a significant amount of pain, it also comes with disfigurement and loss of mobility. Essentially, Lipedema is a fat disorder that allows excess fat on your limbs, excluding your extremities. In short, it is just all around ugly. Living with the pain that goes along with this disease is not easy, but far worse is living life in our world as a “super sized” woman.

The good news? I never had dreams of being a super model. I could handle not being able to wear the latest fashions, but I still had to let go of some dreams I didn’t want to have to abandon. One of the hardest dreams I have had to let go of is being just like everyone else. To let go of my independence in my 30s instead of my 80s. Can I be honest here? I needed to let go of the ability to do the little things like putting on my own socks. And the harder things, like going on family hikes. (I am not sure that was ever a “dream” of mine, but I do want to spend time with my kids – and if it that means going on hikes, I wanted to be the kind of Mom that could lace up her boots and join in). Instead, I have had to sit out on a lot of activities with my family, because I can’t walk well, and when I do walk I am painfully slow.

But let’s just pause for a minute – because we need to remember this – we are in a spiritual battle. My battle and your battle might look very different, but they are the same. We are never guaranteed an easy life, so when troubles come like the inevitably will, we need to choose to fight. The devil will try to take a foothold in our lives and cause us to stumble.

I would be wrong if I led you to believe I do this well. I am so far from a perfect warrior. I struggle to fight sometimes, and when I struggle to fight there are casualites. My worst wounds come when I choose to let the comments of people who do not know me slice deep into my heart. People who see my body but do not see my heart. I may have physical imperfections, but far worse are the battle scars my heart has endured.

But here’s the thing – we don’t need to fight this fight alone. Yes, sometimes we have to let go of our dreams, but only because God’s plans are bigger. Surrendering our dreams to live out God’s plan for our lives can be difficult because sometimes we are walking in blind. We don’t know what He has in store for us. We don’t know that plan is. So we just wait.

God allowed Naomi's suffering to give birth to her greatest joy. (1)And while we wait, we fight our battles. When the blows strike, as they often do, I remember God is good to me. I remember I am His. It isn’t always easy to let the words fall around me without injuring me, but you and I have the greatest armour ever.

The Helmet of Salvation – When we believe Christ died for our sins and are part of God’s family, we all wear this.

The Breastplate of Righteousness – This is basically the breastplate of grace. When others hurt us, it means being honest, and good and fair. When others are hurting, it means standing with them and standing up for them.

The Shield of Faith – Our protection for when we are tempted to doubt. Remembering that God WILL keep His promises.

The Belt of Truth – This helps us to keep our hearts and lives in line with God’s will and plan for our lives, even when it means going against everything that makes sense to the world.

The Sword of the Spirit – Our biggest, and our strongest weapon against anything the battle throws at us. The Bible, God’s truth. Read it. Memorize it. Use it, friends.

Feet prepared with the Gospel of Peace – Ahh, here it is. This is what is means to be content in all circumstances and to have peace regardless of what the battle brings.

Oh, that I could be more prepared. Instead, it is when I am at my worst that I remember my armour. After the words have wounded me. After my heart has been broken. After I feel hopeless, when I feel like I am worthless because the world tells me I am. That’s when I hear that gentle whisper telling me to put my armour on.

See, I already told you I am a lousy warrior – most soldiers put their battle armour on BEFORE the fight. But when I remember, when I hear that quiet voice, that is when I rise. That is when my spirit soars with the truth that I am His.

That is when I remember that the battle we are fighting has already been won.

And while I am here, surviving this disease and saying goodbye to dreams, that is when I remember my worth. That is when I the Gospel of Peace slides on to my feet and propels me to keep going. Because the world can’t tell me how and when I matter. Only God can. The world can’t tell me I am ugly, because God tells me I am beautiful.

So put your armour on with me.  Fight with me. The battle is His.

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Learning from Lazarus

I love the story of Lazarus. I grew up going to church, so this is a story that has been passed down from Sunday school class to Sunday school class. In fact, I even remember teaching about Lazarus to a class full of girls I taught in my early twenties. But sometimes when you are familiar with the story you overlook things. Sometimes you miss details that change the story.

That’s what happened for me with Lazarus. From the time I first saw Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha as flannel board figures, it was a great story. Even as a child, it was amazing to hear Lazarus was dead, but then he suddenly wasn’t. It continued to hold my attention as an excellent story until I discovered the details. Then suddenly, Jesus didn’t just raise Lazarus, He transformed me as well.

Let’s look at the details a little closer. In John 11: 2, we can see that Jesus heard Lazarus was ill. We don’t know what was wrong with him, but his sisters were concerned and sent word to Jesus. He was their friend, and He cared about them.

But here’s the first, and one of the most important details for people who struggle with any sickness, illness, disease or situation – Jesus made a statement we can all cling to.

But when Jesus heard about it He said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No it happened for the glory of God, so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” (John 11:4)

This is so important for us to grab hold of and understand. This is a golden nugget of hope for when you are struggling through a period of why me? Lazarus was sick because God’s glory would be revealed through his sickness and death. How would our hearts and attitudes change if we soaked up this truth? What if we proclaimed it boldly over our lives? 

My cancer happened for the glory of God. 

My mental disorder is present in my life so God can receive glory from this.

My MS happened so God can show His glory through how I live my life. 

Yes, Lazarus was ill for the glory of God. Perhaps it is easier for us to understand because we can see the other side of his story. We know what happens next, but we don’t know what will happen in our own lives. 

Here is another detail that we can look at in the story. Verse 6 tells us that while Jesus knew that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was for two whole days. When Mary and Martha send word to Jesus, they might have been expecting that He would come right away. But He didn’t. As always, He had a purpose for that too.

Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go to him.” (John 11:14-15)

Here’s the plan we can see in Lazarus’s story that we can’t see in our own. (At least,not while we are going through the valley and storms of life.) While Jesus had disciples and followers, He was constantly teaching them. At this point, the disciples were not the bold, wise men we recognize in later parts of the New Testament. Here Jesus was dealing with disciples who didn’t quite understand His power. Here Jesus was teaching those who were confused about what He could do and why He had come. This is why Jesus waited, and why Lazarus died. 

Let’s pause for a moment and look at Lazarus’s sisters. We can learn so much from them, too. When Martha heard Jesus was coming, she ran out to meet him. Martha was grieving for her brother, and might have been feeling abandoned by Jesus. After all, He hadn’t come when they sent word for him. So when she met him she said, “Lord if you had only have been here, my brother might not have died.”  It was then Jesus spoke some powerful words. 

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this, Martha?” (John 11:25,26)

If you grew up in the church like me, you may have heard these words many times before. But for Martha, it was new. She told Jesus that she did believe. But she may still have struggled with feeling that Jesus was too late. Shortly after their conversation, she went to find her sister.

Mary and Martha are so different. Where Martha had to process her grief and talk things out, Mary ran to Jesus and threw herself at His feet. While she asked Him the same question as Martha, she sobbed her sorrows out at the feet of Jesus.

How many of us act more like Martha when we should be more like Mary? How many of us struggle to process what is happening to us, wishing we could have a solution or a plan, and feeling broken and destitute when our plans don’t work out? Sometimes it’s difficult to surrender every grief about our situation at his feet like Mary did.

Jesus, ready to work a miracle, asks to be taken to Lazarus’s tomb and asks for the stone to be removed. A horrified Martha intervenes, warning Jesus that since Lazarus had been dead for several days, and it would smell. Only Jesus could be the one to show her what could happen when she abandoned her fears and believed.

Jesus responded, “didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so they will believe You sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a head cloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!” (John 11:40-44)

Here we see Lazarus come alive. It must have been amazing to stand in the crowds of people who had followed the grieving sisters, the disciples, and Jesus there that day. Many people believed in Him after witnessing such a powerful event.

The amazing truth about the power of God is that it didn’t stop when Jesus ascended to heaven. The same power that He used to raise Lazarus (and Himself!) from the grave lives in us if we belong to Him.

God allowed Naomi's suffering to give birth to her greatest joy. (3)We can learn so much from this short story. Martha, the practical thinker – the one who worked hard and who might have liked to be able to control her circumstances. Mary, the same one who wiped Jesus’ feet with expensive oils, who just liked to be hear him – throwing herself at his feet in grief. Are we like Mary or like Martha? Do we feel the need to control or do we feel the need to surrender it all at his feet?

Jesus knew what Mary and Martha needed. He knew what the people needed to see to believe. He knows what you and I need in our lives as we navigate through our storms. His resurrection power is always at work. What does Jesus need to resurrect in your life?