hitting the wall…

•March 14, 2015 • 3 Comments

I thought we had gotten pretty tough this past year. Pretty resilient, pretty much ready for anything. But this week, we hit the wall and we never saw it coming. I guess we probably should have, as we were here last year, but we are really struggling. IMG_1677Next week, our little fourteen month old boy, who is still our little baby, goes back into surgery for the third time in his short life. While we are excited that they will finally be able to look at what is going on in his pulmonary system, and hopefully find out why he is struggling so badly to breathe, it is still SO scary. The thoughts of what could go wrong easily overpower the good thoughts but we never acknowledge or even recognize that they exist. We tell others about the benefits of this “procedure” but silently our hearts beat a little harder. And quietly we carry the burdens and fears inside and it eats away. It wears us down and soon we are raw and exposed and exhausted. But we can’t let it show because somehow we believe that we either aren’t supposed to, or that no one will understand what we mean and we will seem ridiculous. So instead we find ourselves fighting more, as we both are living like two raw exposed nerves. We both are tired ALL of the time, catching naps whenever we can and get frustrated why we cannot seem to spend anytime together unless it is while we sleep at night. Our kids, who are easily the most amazing, incredible children walking the earth, get on our nerves and frustrate us to no end. Even our work, which we normally love and believe in, has become a constant source of pain and frustration. Everything seems to be upended and nothing is right. Even the joys in our lives are more like the striped gum we used to eat as kids that thrill for a moment, but soon fade out and are lifeless. We can’t keep going on like this, but will it improve after the surgery? Or is this normal?

Recently I had a good friend tell me that their family got to the point where they had to accept that their similar insanity was simply their “new normal” and the way things were going to be for them. While I completely understand, and even have experienced much of this same thing this past year, I also doubt I have it in me to keep going like this. I silently worrying every night about how my son is going to breathe through the night but cannot communicate this to my wife in fear of freaking her out as well. I wonder how much my precious boy is hampered by the simple fact that he cannot breathe consistently and spends his energies coughing and fighting against congestion, rather than putting those energies into growing and developing. I jump at every sniffle or cough in the other kids, worried that it might be the next cold or bug that Timmy will catch and will have to fight. Even tonight I went into our room to check on him and found him on his stomach for the first time and I almost panicked when I saw that his canula had partially fallen off and his breathing was shallow. I literally put my hand on his back timidly, praying that I would feel it moving and not touch a cold baby. I know I carried similar worries with the other three kids when they were babies, but I don’t remember it being so heavy.

So how do I react to these feelings, to this exhaustion, to this discouragement?

How do I continue to live when I feel like most of the time I am just putting one foot in front of the other?

How do I stay strong for my wife, who feels this burden as deeply, if not more, than I do?

How do I tell my children everything is going to be OK, and that God is going to protect their baby brother, when I am terrified that He won’t?

I wish I could end this by giving some deeply spiritual, moving explanation of how I know God will bring us through, and how He provides a grace bubble around those who need it, but right at this moment I feel pretty lonely. And pretty weak.

OK God, it is time for You to take over now. I really need You right now.

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perfect as a sunrise…

•February 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

A beautiful sunrise. What an awesome gift from the Lord and an incredible reminder of our God’s power and creativity. I never grow tired of them.

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This morning, I woke up, had my devotions and then as I finished, I looked out our back window and noticed an especially beautiful sunrise. The Lord has filled the sky with oranges, yellows and reds, streaked from the horizon up to the dark blue sky above. It was like He pulled out His most vibrant colors when He painted the sky this morning. It was breathtaking, literally. I opened the door and could only praise Him for his power and beauty.

“Oh Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder.
Consider all, the works Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy works throughout,
The universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee
How Great Thou Art
How Great Thou Art!!”

As I stood there and praised the Lord, I felt like He whispered in my ear. “You know, that’s not the anything like the beauty I created in your son Timothy.” And that’s when it hit me that while I have tried to keep up the good Christian persona of telling everyone that my son is ‘perfect’ the way he is, in reality I have silently felt differently. Not that I see my son as ugly or horrible, but that the idea of him being perfectly designed has grown distant and faded. Lately, as Timothy has grown and developed, he has begun to show more clear signs of his Down Syndrome. I want to be clear that I have not begun to love him any less, or am any less proud of him than when he fought and struggled so bravely in the NICU. But in a quiet, slow way, I think I began to see his DS as an imperfection in my son. The floppy tongue, the delayed development, the feeding issues, the continued need for oxygen….all tiny little imperfections in my son. Or if I am honest, mistakes in my son. Mistakes made by God. Not that I would ever admit that in public, as that would be sacrilegious in some way, but I think that is how I began to see them. My amazing, beautiful boy, who lives and fights through God’s mistakes. Pretty brutal, eh?

But this morning, God’s whisper hit me like a truck and brought tears to my eyes. I have begun to silently question God’s design and plan. But seeing the incredible sunrise, it was like God showed me that is my precious Timmy. He is amazing, beautiful and breathtaking, but in his own way. He is unlike anyone else, and may be different than what I had planned or even hoped for, but he is PERFECTLY created. Like the sunrise that was created perfectly for THIS morning, my son is perfectly created for his time and purpose. He may not be able to do everything like his sister or brothers, but that isn’t a sign of brokenness or imperfection, but a sign that he was created for something different. And just like I could not know how amazing the sunrise would be last night, I cannot know how my boy will shine in the future. But just like I can trust that the sun WILL rise the next morning, I can trust that my son WILL be perfect for the role that God has him to play. And in that way, he is more perfect than the most amazing sunrise.

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)

balancing the impossible…

•February 14, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Balancing the Impossible

Recently, I had someone remark about how crazy our lives are right now and how we keep it all from going crazy. I had not stopped to think about it before, so I stopped and spent some time looking at our family. Since our fourth child, Timothy, was born in January, our family has had to readjust and redefine what is “normal” for us. Since he was born two months premature and with Down Syndrome, Timmy has faced a long, tough struggle to grow as a baby and that has really impacted all of the rest of us in the family. But as I have looked back on the last year, I really see that our “family balancing” has been possible thanks to three major things: patience, participation, and planning.

Patience
With our son Timothy, all of the rules have changed in terms of how he will progress and how our family will operate, especially as compared to how his sister and brothers developed. His prematurity continues to have an impact on how he develops because he simply is smaller and weaker than other babies his age. But is Down Syndrome has completely rewritten the rule book because it affects his physical and mental development but it also has no rules to follow. Each DS child is different, so each has their own path to follow and timelines to meet. As a result, we have had to throw away “what the other kids did” and have to be patient and let things come, sometimes literally one day at a time. This has been really hard for me because Abbie, Zach & JT all progressed really well, so it was easy to compare them to other kids their age and see how we were doing. But with Timmy, comparing him to other 12 month olds only leads to discouragement and frustration. And if I look ahead, most likely that will be the reality for his entire life. Timothy will have some areas that he will thrive and excel in, while he will struggle and fail in others. So I need to take him for who he is, where he is and however he progresses. But isn’t that what we need to do for ALL of our kiddos?

Participation
Timothy has at least two appointments every week, for things like learning how to eat to physical therapy to help him build up strength to sit up and eventually walk someday. Our family has had to adjust to the fact that either Mom or Dad will need to take him to those appointments and that means the other parent is flying solo with the remaining family members. As a result, the “solo” parent has their hands full, and sometimes it is too much for one person to handle. So, our other children have had to get involved in our daily family operations and “carry some weight.” No, we are not into child labor and do not work them to death, but we have started asking more from Abbie, Zach & JT, and the results have been awesome. One, we have been able to distribute some of the smaller tasks that come up daily (setting and cleaning dinner table, picking up living room, etc) or weekly (cleaning, organizing, etc). Two, we have been thrilled to see our kids (especially the oldest two) step up and become more responsible. At first, it was a real fight because we had allowed our kids to coast through without helping much. But now they are asking us how they can help, and are jumping into help in other areas. For example, Abbie now accompanies me on our weekly grocery shopping trips and is helping to figure out the best deals and keep track of how much we are spending and what we will be making for meals that week. Meanwhile, Zach has been jumping in to help me with more of the house tasks, like fixing things and scheduling maintenance on vehicles. And having their help everyday has made a huge difference, not only in taking some work off Treshia & my hands, but also by helping them to become more responsible and mature. In hindsight, I wish we had gotten them this involved before Timmy was born.

Planning
This is probably the single most important aspect of our family balance and how we have made it through this year with JOY. If I am honest, in the past, Treshia & I tended to let things just happen and would react to them. Our finances were taken on a daily basis and money crisis’ were a very common occurrence. We would not plan times away as a couple or a family, but then would panic when we got to the point where we were completely spent and had nothing left in the emotional or physical tanks. And our house was a complete disaster, with things strewn everywhere without a place or rhyme or reason. And as a result, we lost things a lot and lived in an almost constant state of discouragement with our messy home. But with the arrival of Timothy, and all of the extra roles and details he brought with him, all of this has begun to change. About six months ago, as Treshia & I were almost in tears over feelings of discouragement and failure, we realized that we HAD TO make a change and start planning more. The first step was the most basic one, but one that I fear a lot of couples like us miss….couple communication. Treshia & I started talking openly and honestly about what we loved doing in the home, what we hated, what energized us about our family & home and what drained us. And as we started talking, we realized that we had assumed some roles that were better for the other person. For example, I love to shop for groceries and planning on weekly meals. It is a role that is commonly seen as “the woman’s role” in the world today, but was also a role that drained Treshia and led to discouragement. So, I took on the role and have loved it. We also realized that we needed to remove some things from our crazy lives, which meant spending less time with some people, cutting a lot of outside actitivites and becoming much more intentional with where we spend our time. We were forced to look at all of our relationships and cut those that were negative or draining. We had to cut some outside activities that were good, but not great for our family. And we have become much more intentional about reaching out to those who we want closest and who were are called to bless and minister. Those decisions can come with some difficulty too, as it is easy to feel guilty when you intentionally cut someone, or something, from your life. But they are critical to save your family reserves and keep you focused on what is most important.

We also realized that we had to become MUCH more organized, especially living in a 1100 sq foot home. So, we started investing our time and money into making our home much better planned and organized. Now everything has its place and goes back there when it is finished. It is amazing how much more energy we have now that we are not constantly walking through a minefield of toys, clothes and stuff! We also took a much more active role in planning our family time together every week. We did this by PLANNING to spend breakfasts and dinners together as a family and having at least two nights a week where the TV and technology is off and we sit and read together. This can be hard sometimes, because many evenings all I want to do is vegetate in front of the TV and turn my brain off, but instead I have to engage my children. But when I do, I find that they are more obedient and engaged in our week. But all of these things took very intentional planning on Treshia & my part. Again, in hindsight, I wish I could have learned this lesson early in my marriage because it would have saved us many years of frustration and heartache.

Has it been easy? Heavens no! 2014 was easily THE most difficult and exhausting year of my life. But, I can also say with complete honesty that it has been the most amazing and thrilling year of our marriage and my life. I have grown personally in ways that I NEVER would have without the trials. Our family has become a very different one that is more united and focused than ever before. In so many ways, it may have been “easier” to simply keep going the way we were, reacting to life as it came and living in a state of panic or emergency. But by very intentionally slowing things down, planning things out and changing the direction of our family, I truly can say that I believe we are a sweet aroma to our Lord. And I cannot ask anything more.

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)

sneaking into the middle school years…

•February 1, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Middle school.

Two words that bring more fear into my heart than any, except for maybe “oncoming puberty.” This last year, with all of the craziness and chaos involved with Timmy’s birth, disability and our family adjusting to a new normal, one thing that has slipped through the cracks is my little girl moving into the middle school years. As most parents, I look at her and find myself thinking, “How could she grow up so quickly? What happened to that little baby girl that I held in my arms just yesterday??” 11025113_10206489200853892_7091371226460962277_nMy little princess just turned 11 years old and is already dealing with a lot of the struggles and pains of middle school, even though she is not officially there yet. She has begun to question whether she is beautiful, and why she gets along so well with the boys but wrestles with how to relate to her girlfriends. And while my first reaction is to put anyone who hurts my girl in a cardboard box and bury them somewhere remote, the reality is that I am really struggling with how she is changing and how it feels like I am losing my little girl.

When I look back at the time when I was Abbie’s age, I struggle to remember what it was like and how I felt. The year before, my family moved from Michigan to Colorado and everything changed for me. The friends I had created the first ten years of my life were gone and I moved into a new school with new rules, a new environment and most importantly, new classmates. I struggled almost daily with whether anyone liked me, and where I fit in, and whether I would have any friends. Sound slightly familiar? Everyday my brother & I would ride the city bus downtown to my mother’s workplace, where my brother & I would sit in the employee lounge and wait for mom to get out of work, all while I wondered inside whether I would ever fit in and be one of the “cool kids.” Then as I transitioned into the middle school years, I found two friends who became my best friends and made me feel like I was somebody. We spent free times at school together, and hung out after school a lot, and soon I felt like I could have good friends. No, I never was in the “cool crowd”, but I was learning how to have friends and most importantly, how to BE a good friend.

The other thing that hits me when I look back is how much worse I saw things than what they were in reality. At times, I honestly saw myself as having no friends, and being the most disliked kid in the school, all while the reality was that I was friends with most of my classmates and got along pretty well. No, I was not the most popular, but I also was not the most disliked. And the funny thing is that when I talk to others about their middle school years, many of them relay the same story. At the time, they felt much worse about themselves and their place in their world than what they should have, based on reality. And maybe that is where I can help my precious angel the most? Maybe I cannot be her protector every moment of the day, but maybe I can help her process through her reality right now, and help her see how amazing she really is? Maybe the most important thing I can do for her is to be her biggest cheerleader, screaming out her praises when her heart & hormones scream just the opposite?

Like I said earlier, I am really struggling with this and am worried that I will not be able to be the father and friend that my princess needs me to be these next few years. Do you feel the same? Are you in the same boat that I am, wanting to be everything for your kids but knowing how faulty and weak you are? If so, I would urge you to join me in listening to Focus’ broadcasts on navigating the middle school years. (http://www.focusonthefamily.com/media/daily-broadcast#?curPage=1) And if you have already made it through and know the fears I am facing, I would love to hear how you did it. This clueless dad could use any suggestions you may have!

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)

5 pieces of advice from a year with down syndrome…

•January 10, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The other day, someone asked me a question that took me by surprise and has stuck with me since. The question?

“What would you tell someone else who is expecting a child of their own that has Down Syndrome?”

At first, my instinct was to respond with something along a cheesy cliche about how “awesome the journey is” or something like that. But I stopped myself because I wanted to give an honest, authentic answer to that person who is just starting to walk on the path I started a year ago. I know that there are men (and women) on this blog who are in that exact same position, so after looking back over the past year, here is what I would tell that person…

First, I know you are scared, confused and desperate. You probably have almost overwhelming fears of what your little baby will be like and how disabled he or she might be. For me, I knew so little about Down Syndrome that I didn’t know what it would mean for my baby boy. Would he ever be able to walk? Or talk? And I know you are probably confused about this could happen and whether it is your fault. Why did this happen to you? Did you fail somehow? Was it a lack of faith, or prayer, or obedience to God? And if you are anything like me, you are desperate to know about this “thing” that has turned your life upside down. What does it mean? What can you expect? What can you do to prepare?

All of these feelings are authentic and it is OK to feel them. Even the doubts! The evening after we found out was THE scariest, most confusing, desperate time in my life. I still remember pacing in our living room, feeling so helpless and out of control. I needed to know more but the uncertainty was tearing me up inside. I wanted to scream, yell, cry, hit something, and fall apart, all at the same time. And my wife Treshia felt the same way. And that was the most critical key to that first day after the news….my bride. My instincts were to isolate myself from her, and everyone else, and to process through this news by myself and to not come out until I had it all figured and planned out. But instead, Treshia & I turned to each other and struggled together. We wept desperately, we prayed honestly to God together and we learned together. I cannot tell you how important it is for you to be honest about what you are going through, in your mind and in your heart, and to do it with your spouse. While “going it alone” might be safer (you don’t have to share feelings, etc), it only isolates you and makes things worse. Lean on each other. Weep together, learn together, and struggle together….because someday soon, you will celebrate together.

Two, DON’T let the enemy turn your struggles into condemnations or judgments against you. One of the toughest spots in my struggles was when I had thoughts of whether we should get rid of the problem. Yes, I honestly had thoughts of aborting our baby. They did not last long, but those thoughts DID enter my mind for a brief time. The idea of “getting rid” of the problem quietly, before anyone else knew, was tempting, but in my heart, I knew it was not the answer. While I was so scared of what changes and difficulties Timmy’s birth would bring, I also knew HE WAS MY BOY and I had to protect him, even before he was born. Yes, pain and struggles would inevitably come along with his life, but he was MY precious boy and his life was too precious for me to get rid of, just to make my life easier. And Satan used those brief thoughts to work against me, to make me wonder “What kind of horrible father would even consider killing his child?!? You are a terrible person!” But don’t let that brief moment of doubt and honest struggle bring you down! It is a real thought that is not wrong, it is life! Fight for him/her by celebrating the fact that you are going to keep that life, and that that little one is YOUR baby!

Three, I would recommend you learn as much as you can, both about Down Syndrome and about the journey ahead of you. While no one can tell you exactly what you will face, or what our baby will be like, it helped me SO much to read about others who also had faced the DS journey. For learning about Down Syndrome, I would strongly recommend the book “Babies with Down Syndrome: A New Parents’ Guide” by Susan Skallerup. This book was one that we got early on that really helped us understand both the disorder and our little unborn boy. It gave us a real look at what was ahead, but also gave us so much hope. The second book that I cannot recommend highly enough is “Good and Perfect Gift” by Amy Julia Becker. This is an amazing book written by a mother about her first two years with her daughter Penny, who has DS. It helped us so much to read about someone who had walked where we were headed and was willing to share both the difficulties and the delights of the journey. For me, learning about the disorder was the first step I needed, while my wife needed to hear from someone who had been there before. But we both needed to read both and it brought us closer together too, knowing we would face this together. Finally, I would urge you to contact your location Down Syndrome Association and let them know about your news and when your little one is due. While it feels strange to reach out to a community you do not know, it has been a HUGE blessing to us to have a community of people who know our pains, our doubts and our joys and are willing to be there for us.

Four, if you have other children, be honest and brave with them and share the news with them as soon as you can. They might surprise you. In our case, our two oldest children actually led the way for us into turning our struggles into joy for the journey ahead. After showing them an amazing video called “Just Like You”, we sat down with them and talked about Down Syndrome and about their brother Timmy. We expected confusion and fear from them, but instead we found them excited about their baby brother and about his Down Syndrome. They both said, “He is going to be AWESOME!!” And that joy continued….even to the point that it infected us. We found ourselves taking our emotional cues from them and soon we were celebrating as a family. For us, it meant finding ways to express our family pride (stickers, t-shirts, etc) and planning to participate in the DS Buddy Walk, which happens every year. I was shocked by how well my kids took the news and was so proud of them. God brought such healing through Abbie & Zach, and He will do the same through your kids.

Finally, I would urge you to be as open and honest as you can with your family, your friends and those around you. I cannot even express in words how much our communities (work, church, friends) have meant to us and how much they have lifted us up when we were at the end of our abilities. We received months of meals from friends when we struggled with Timmy in the NICU. We truly FELT the prayers of thousands of people praying for us and our family through the first few difficult months. And we found people around us that came alongside of us, serving us in such beautiful ways like babysitting, financial support and words of encouragement right when they were needed most. It is so hard to open yourself up to those around you, especially when the world encourages us to protect ourselves and to “go it alone.” And it is dangerous. To be open and honest, you have to be vulnerable, and that is scary and dangerous. I will be honest with you that we have had some people hurt us with their insensitive or uneducated comments, but I try to remember that they simply do not know what they are doing. But for every negative or hurtful comment, we have received ten positive, uplifting comments….and those have carried us through some hard times.

It has been really hard, I won’t lie to you. It has been one of the hardest times of my life and there are guaranteed to be difficult times ahead. But, I will honestly tell you that there is no way that I would change it or avoid it if I could. NO WAY, period. In the midst of the storms this last year, I have grown closer to my wife than I have ever known. I have experienced God’s grace, His love and His provision in a real tangible way that I cannot fully explain, but in a way that is way beyond the nauseating Christian cliches that we easily throw around. My children have been changed by having a brother who has Down Syndrome. They are more sensitive to others who are different and they are more loving than ever before. I am more understanding and less judgmental towards those who may not be like me, or may not do things the way I do. I have found myself more understanding of those who are struggling and am more loving towards my family, my friends, coworkers and even those who randomly come in-and-out of my life. So hang in there! Acknowledge and embrace the pain, the doubts, the anger and the joy. Your little one will change you and your family in such amazing, incredible ways that make the struggles OK. It is hard, but it is so worth it. It really is. I promise. And so does God.

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)

a christmas father…

•December 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment

christmas father

With only two more days until Christmas, my heart and mind turn towards “the reason for the season”, my Lord Jesus Christ, and for good reason. It is a celebration of our Savior, who left heaven, became human like us, all to bring His Father glory and eventually die for all of us. I can think of no better reason to celebrate! But, as I think about Christmas this year, I have been thinking about things from a different perspective, that of the Heavenly Father. Being a father myself, it brings a very different and deep meaning to this season.

As a father, my first thought is about what the Father sacrificed. He sent His one and only Son to the earth and in some way removing Him from His presence. And He didn’t just send Him to earth, to hang out with the lowly humans for a while, but to eventually become the very thing the Father was not. I tend to belittle this point, thinking about it in the same light as if my son were to become a Raiders fan (I shudder at the thought). But the reality is that the Father knew His Son would eventually be tortured by the very people He came to save and would BECOME their sins, not just take them on Himself like a coat. Jesus became the exact opposite of what He had been and what His Father was….pure sin. And He did all of this to save me?!? I don’t know about you, but when I think about the idea of me giving up one of my precious boys for someone else, I can be honest that it is not a long thought process. No offense, but NO WAY. But then to give up my boy for someone who would torture and kill him, rather than accept His gift to them? I cannot imagine how the Father was filled with anything but rage, not compassion and love.

But, another perspective came to me recently. The Heavenly Father gave up His one and only Son for me, true. But who am I? His son. That’s right, the Father gave up His Son for me, His child. This idea tends to put my mind into knots when I think and process through it, but in essence, He sacrificed His beloved to save His beloved, me. Unfortunately, when I insert myself into this situation, I come up horribly short of our Heavenly Father. At first, my mind tries to rationalize it by making it a mathematical equation: sacrificing His one Son for millions or billions of His children. Sounds pretty rational and understandable, right? Again, my honest response would be short and sweet….NO WAY. That’s MY son! NO way I could give him up for someone else, or even lots of someone else’s. And I cannot even think about sacrificing one of my boys to save his sister or other brothers. Sacrifice myself for one of them? In a heartbeat. But give up one of them? I just couldn’t do it.

I don’t know about you, but this reality brings a whole new personal impact to me and the Christmas season. It is a celebration of the arrival of my Lord and Savior, but also a deep and truly unbelievable, inconceivable love from the Heavenly Father. And when I try to apply this to myself and my role as a father, all I can do is be more humbled and deeply grateful. Grateful to a Son who chose to give up His Heavenly position to come to an earth filled with sinful, angry, lost people and to voluntarily die for each and every one of them, including the worst of them, me. But, I am also grateful to Father who loves like me and hurts like me but was still willing to do what I could never do.

Wow.

Talk about Amazing Grace…

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)

God weeps with me…

•December 9, 2014 • Leave a Comment

god weeps with me

“Jesus wept.”
John 11:35

Growing up in the church, this was always my favorite verse to turn to when one of my Bible teachers or Sunday school teachers would ask us to memorize a verse. Everyone knows this verse because it is the shortest verse in the Bible. I always wondered about this verse and why they didn’t just tack it onto the preceding verse or the following one. Why have a verse that is only two words long? I wondered, but never came up with an answer….until today. And that answer has brought me to tears. Let me explain…

In this passage, Jesus is going from town to town, healing the sick and the lame, and is approached by his disciples who let him know that his friend Lazarus was sick and dying. After waiting two days in his current location, Jesus then turns his eyes to Bethany but tells his disciples that He knows that Lazarus has already died. When he gets to Bethany, he is met by Martha and Mary, who are grieving the death of their brother. When He sees the grief and pain of these two beloved women, as well as their friends and family, Jesus is deeply moved and weeps. He then goes to Larazus’ grave and calls out for him to arise and Lazarus is brought back from the dead and joins his Lord. An amazing passage of healing but also a confusing one. While many people focus on the reason why Jesus waited two extra days before going to Bethany, I have always wondered why the God of the universe wept when He got there. Being omniscient, He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead in just a few minutes, so why did He cry? Why didn’t He speak to Mary and Martha and tell them to not be sad because He was going to bring their brother back? I don’t know about you, but I don’t worry or grieve over a situation that I know I am going to solve. But Jesus wept. This has alway confused me until I listened to a sermon by Judah Smith. In his sermon, he proposes that the reason our Lord wept was because He is a “now God.” He is a God who knows the future and the past, but who lives and loves in the present, in the very moment that we are experiencing. His love is not affected by my past and His love is not affected by my future. His love is with me at this very moment, experiencing and sharing my current pains, joys and trials. He literally is walking with me in my daily life, celebrating with me in my triumphs and weeping with me in my struggles. This is a MUCH more personal God that I have ever thought of before.

For me, this reality has brought me to tears because I now see that He is literally WITH ME, not only physically but also emotionally. As most know by now, this has been a very difficult year for our family and I have shed more tears of grief, frustration and fear than ever before. But I have always seen God hearing my prayers, and of course loving me through it all, but unemotional because He knows how He will move and how things will work out. He has it all planned and in His control, so why would He share my emotions? He knows it will all work out, so why worry or grieve? Wasted emotion, right? But instead, I have a God who literally walks with me through my moment-by-moment pains and who deeply grieves with me when I hit the wall and sob in exhaustion and worry. He KNOWS my pain because He experiences it with me, at that very moment. He has my life, and the life of my precious little Timmy, all in His control, but He loves me SO much that He is a “right now” God.

I don’t know about you, but that reality has changed the way I see my God. When I hit the wall and fall apart, I now see Him sitting with me, crying with me and sharing my pain. I no longer see Him dismissing or ignoring my pain, because He knows how it will end. Instead, I have someone who understands the wide variety of deep emotions that I am feeling, even when I cannot put words to them. I do not see a God who gets frustrated with me when I worry, but who feels and truly understands my pain. And I have a God who will dance and celebrate with me when we have triumphs in the future. Just knowing this gives me so much more freedom to experience the range of emotions that come in waves right now. I no longer have to feel guilty for somehow not trusting God enough, or for feeling doubt and worry when He tells me not to. Instead, I can embrace my day-to-day, moment-by-moment journey and live it fully. Feeling deeply, loving deeply, hurting deeply….knowing that my Savior is feeling it all with me.

Wow, free indeed.

(This post was originally posted on the Dad Matters blog page)