“For the Lord your God is with you, He is Mighty to save. He takes great delight in you; He rejoices over you with singing, and He will quiet you with HIS love” (Zephaniah 3:17,NIV).
This year has been a vast ocean tossing me to and fro in the sea of life. There has been tears, SO many tears, and hardships, quiet ones that echo from within. They are reminders that I am not perfect, and with all of my strengths and gifting’s, I am still human, and I am not bullet proof.
This year 2014, began with a grim diagnosis, my mother who had been battling carcinoma since 2012 was not going to make it. She had months left to live. I sat in the Oncology office with her and my brother as we listened to the doctor speak, the words “MONTHS LEFT TO LIVE.” They were the first and last thing I remember him saying, it was as if the air was suddenly sucked out of room…Life was suddenly a vacuum and we were left gasping, in want of air. I sat in that office, with my mother and my brother Sean, I looked at him. Head down, nonresponsive, staring at the floor only to blink his eyes quickly as if the answers to the hard questions would not compute. He cared for her, he had been caring for her for a year now. My mother seemed oblivious of her fate, complaining to the doctor about the smell of bacon. The radiation to the brain had done that to her, she was not herself for some time now. My thoughts were on the months that were left…what would those be like? How would this impact MY heart? My children? I was about to find out…
Fast forward to May 5th, a phone call. It was Sean, “Nichol, come quick. She’s dying.” I arranged for sitters, and raced to her home to see an ambulance about to take her away, peeking through the rear window I could see her head down strapped in, on her way to Hospice. I let her go, conversed with Sean, contacted all that needed to know and headed home to meet my husband. We loaded our children into the car, for what would seem to be the longest and the shortest car ride of my life. It was as if time had stopped, and sped up all at the same time. The dread and anticipation of what we were about to see a sense of foreboding lingered along with how my children would react ,hung solidly in the forefront of my mind.
It’s time to say goodbye. With that I had mixed feelings, for my mother had been a source of frustration and disappointment to me my whole life. I was always the black sheep to her, we NEVER saw eye to eye. It seemed that confliction heralded our relationship all of our natural days together. And though we conflicted, I loved her still, and though I left her home at 15 my desire was to still have a mother who loved me completely. The truth is she loved me the best she could, the truth is her capacity to love was there but injury from her past and childhood hindered it, and marred her ability. She was a broken person, but who isn’t? The truth is she wore her heart on the sleeve where some people are good at hiding it she was not.
So we were at odds, but in the end it was me she called when she could not feel Jesus in her heart. A day after brain surgery she called me panicked. “Colie, I pray. But my prayers are not getting through, would you please come and pray with me?” I left my home immediately to be with her and held her hand. I sat by her side and watched the tears stream down her face as she re-familiarized herself with an old acquaintance. She held onto Jesus’ hem once more, but even more beautiful was He held onto her.
So we arrived at the Hospice home. Welcomed in by a nurse, steve held onto me, his arm was so strong and encompassing. His other arm wrapped around our youngest, with the other two at our hips. We walk in the room, there sits my brother head down alone with her. My mom lay in bed, breathing so shallow, so ragged, and unresponsive to the people around her. It WAS time…Sean steps out, my girls bury their faces into my body, they are scared. That’s not Papa (their nickname for her), at least that’s not how they wanted her to look, but I assured them it was her. Brenna steps forward, to face her with my arms around her. “Papa.”, her soft voice called out to her. “It’s Brenna.” A single tear fell from my mother’s eye. It was my mother’s way of telling us she knew it was her. Brenna reached out to her and held her hand. Brenna closed her eyes and started to sing, my heart broke as this child’s heart poured out the love that was in it into the form of a song. “…How to be brave, how do I love when I am afraid?…I’ll love you for a thousand years, I’ll love you for a thousand more.” I was undone by a child’s rendition of Christina Perri’s pop song. When she finished she whispered things so low I could not hear, into her Papa’s ear. Brenna kissed her goodbye and stood at my side, allowing my other girls a chance to say bye. Hours later at 6:02 to be exact my mother took her last breathe.
Days and weeks raced by, her memorial came and went. Life sped up, we were starting a business, ducks were being neatly placed in a row. We are expecting number 4, And then in a span of two weeks the steady pace of life went tilt, and more shaking began, my youngest about lost her two front teeth in an gnarly accident. Our SUV the day BEFORE we were to go on vacation to Arizona blew up. My grandfather stepped down from a curb and cracked his head open almost losing his life because he lost his footing, having to have emergency surgery (he still is not the same). School started for the girls, one smooth day followed by stubborn wills and defiance. My two year old decided that in all of this chaos, now was a good time to try out tantrums to see if they worked. Our business didn’t just grow it took off! My husband hardly home working 15+ hours a day. Then a phone call, my body is rejecting my thyroid medication (the ONLY ONE I have felt good on). Then a doctor’s visit, your baby’s breech let’s talk C-section…I buckled, absolutely. I was suddenly a puddle on the floor, there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. It was all so real, so in my face. I leaned on my husband and his strength sustained me for a moment. But then I called out to HIM, and there He met with me.
I was walking through a parking lot and it was there that the Holy Spirit drew near. He spoke such truth to me that it resounded, echoed, and then sank solidly and firmly into my heart. “Nichol, if you can relish in your husband’s strength then how much more can you rest in MINE? Give me your cares, lay them at MY feet, and see if I AM enough”…Tears flowed, followed by a song I loved as a young girl…”Say to those that are broken hearted, do not lose your faith…The Lord your God is strong with His loving arms when you call on HIS name…He will come and save you! He will come and save you, oh He will come to save you…Say to the weary one your God will surely come! He will come and save you…Say to those that are fearful hearted, do not be afraid, for the Lord your God is strong with His Mighty arms He will come and save…(Joshua Mills) such TRUTH and so many tears!
HE is enough, He knows my future, HE sees my outcome. He is guiding me through this storm. I think of the old German proverb, “Fear makes the wolf seem bigger.” And how true that is. When we focus on the what-if they illuminate. True, this IS indeed a time of shaking for me, SO many good things are at hand and so many unknowns. But there is one thing I can stand on, and that is the Word of God, His truth can reign and rule if I CHOOSE to let it. But see that is the truth I must CHOOSE to accept HIS STRENGTH, I must operate in HIS AUTHORITY, and choose to walk in HIS peace. For the Bible says that, “That the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective” (James 5:17b). But if we fail to pray and to take HIM at his word, how effective are we? If we lose our focus, then we fail to rest in HIS strength and let the ocean’s waves pound against us until we are reduced to sand. How then are we abiding? How then are we resting? How are we allowing HIM to pour into us? We are reduced, we are ineffective, we are shell shocked by life and seeking refuge ANYWHERE… by forgetting just how strong HE is. But it is time to refocus, for HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE, HE IS OUR REFUGE and our FORTRESS, HE is indeed a STRONGHOLD IN TIMES OF TROUBLE. HE is all we need.
Now, this dear reader this is where I leave you, at the feet of the one who sits in the mercy seat. The one who invites you to climb into the lap of God and to hide in the fold of HIS garment. THIS my dear reader is where I leave you with a question? Where are you abiding? Are you abiding in the Ocean of life or are you ABIDING in HIM and HIS strength? Remember to lean into the promise of Zephaniah 3:17, For He will come to save you.