“No rest for the weary, when you feel like it all rests on you.” (Tim Keller)
Posts from the ‘trusting God’ Category
A post I never published from last March. I’m sure many more of these moments are to come in motherhood. I can depend on Him for everything.
Today, I was at a loss for how to deal with Cub. I had too much of my own frustration and sin clouding my judgment, and perhaps he did, too. I searched Scripture and my memory for things I could say, wisdom I could impart — but I came up empty.
Finally, I just went to his room, clasped his hands in mine, and wept and prayed. For the both of us.
I didn’t know what to give my son in his rebellion and mine. I could only pour out our inadequacies to the only one who is adequate.
My prayers will not save him. My tears will not soften him.
But God can.
And I pray He will.
A few weeks ago, I saw an old friend at a first birthday party. We attended high school and college together but hadn’t really seen each other since college graduation. She mentioned that she read my article for Desiring God, where I wrote a little about my grandpa’s journey through Alzheimer’s and to salvation.
Then she lowered her voice a little, “I never told you this, but I had rotations at your grandpa’s skilled nursing facility during my nursing program.” She and another friend from our high school both worked a few months at the facility where my grandpa stayed, but because of privacy laws, she wasn’t sure if she could share that information with me at the time.
“I didn’t realize he was your grandpa until I saw your photo by his bed.” And she shared with me how agitated he was back then, how she tried to help translate for the other nurses since his English was limited, and how she prayed for him.
By then, we both had tears streaming down our cheeks.
She didn’t know until she read my article that he had come to know Christ about a year after she had cared for him. And I never realized God had provided for my grandpa in such an incredible way — a nurse who, unbeknownst to my family or me, joined us in petitioning God for his soul.
In how many more unseen ways did God work in my grandpa’s life back then? Stories I don’t even know about?
And in how many more unseen ways is He working now in the lives of those for whom I am praying but not seeing fruit for yet?
His ways are higher. Unsearchable. Perfect.
Adoniram Judson, one of the first American missionaries to Burma, after the death of his wife, writing to console a sister and colaborer in the faith who just lost her husband:
You are now drinking the bitter cup whose dregs I am somewhat acquainted with…I can assure you that months and months of heartrending anguish are before you…I can only advise you to take the cup with both hands, and sit down quietly to the bitter repast which God has appointed for your sanctification…Take the bitter cup with both hands, and sit down to your repast. You will soon learn a secret, that there is sweetness at the bottom.. You will find it the sweetest cup that you ever tasted in all your life. You will find heaven coming near to you…
(Sharon James, My Heart in His Hands: Ann Judson of Burma, p. 199)
In Christ, there is sweetness at the bottom of every bitter cup appointed to us.
My mama-in-law’s Alzheimer’s has been accelerating into the final stages lately. Her body has become more stiff, and she’s very hunched over while trying to walk or — as it gets later into the day — hunched over on the floor, unable to rise.
Last night, when JE was there with Cub, JE was trying to get her off the floor and into a more comfortable position. Cub bothered him in the process, and he told Cub, “I’m trying to help Halmuni, because she’s sick.”
And Cub stopped bothering him and thought for a bit. Then he said, “When Halmuni gets to heaven, she won’t be sick anymore.”
Hope from a little mouth in the face of Alzheimer’s.
“Mother says we ought to study God’s Providence more than we do, since He has a meaning and a purpose in everything He does. Sometimes I can do this and find it a source of great happiness. Then worldly cares seem mere worldly cares, and I forget that His wise, kind hand is in every one of them.”
(Elisabeth Prentiss, Stepping Heavenward, 274)
I’ve picked this book up again. The first time I read it, I was a depressed, bedridden sophomore in college. I was in bed for two days and read this book, missing all my classes. Then I read it again as a senior, nursing a broken heart and wondering what the future held. Then I read it again, maybe even twice, while teaching high school and/or in grad school. Then I read it again after marrying JE, finding him to be very much like Katy’s dear Ernest.
And now — I read it as a mother of two, feeling more pressed by worldly cares than ever before.
But to remember that God’s wise, kind hand is in all of my worldly cares. This brightens the dull task, the worry for so many loved ones, and the hidden service of being a wife, a mother, a daughter.
In the past month, certain conversations and events have triggered memories of abuse and violence in my childhood — abuse that I’ve witnessed, violence that has happened in and to my family, and the destructive force of sinful fury. And I never noticed it before, but when something triggers these memories, even though I feel mentally fine, my body begins to shake. And I can’t stop.
I remember the night when my mom was nearly killed by a family friend. She escaped and called us frantically to lock all the doors and turn off all the lights. She told us he was coming after us, too. She told us to hide. And when I had to go into our dark garage to lock the back door, not knowing if he would be around the corner or trying to break in to harm us, my legs almost buckled as I ran. But I made it. I locked the door and hid with the cordless phone in my hand.
I was 13.
That night, as the police sat in our dining room and asked me questions, I couldn’t stop shaking. My legs and arms and body shook uncontrollably, twitching, flailing, trembling apart from my will.
And to this day, when someone asks me about that night, when my brother and I talk about that night, when I hear someone scream in tones that remind me of my mom’s voice that night, my body shakes with similar intensity. My mind may be fine, I may not feel emotionally distressed, but my body shakes. And I can’t stop it.
I’m 32 now. But even my body doesn’t forget.
Similarly, I’ve read of others who have dealt with the abuse of trauma. Others who have suffered and deal with post traumatic stress disorder, many to a far greater degree than I have. And they deal with similar, unexpected triggers that paralyze them again in the midst of everyday life.
Where is God during those times?
Where is He when we are shaking with the intensity of unerasable memory, incredible trauma?
This is my conclusion and growing conviction after all these years —
He is holding us.
Based on Scripture, experience, and the marriage of the two, this is what I am convinced of: His sovereign, gentle hands are holding us during the times when we tremble with the memory of trauma.
The answer is simple, but the healing process is not. The answer is simple, but our belief in it is not.
But thank God — He isn’t done with us yet. And until He is finished, and even then, He is holding us.
Moving up and down California (born north, moved south for college, moved back home post-college, moved south post-marriage and two kids), I feel like I leave bits of my story every place I go and every place I leave.
San Jose is full of babyhood, childhood, high school. San Diego and parts of the OC have slices of college tucked away in them. Santa Clara and Campbell echo with both the sweet and painful memories of my single years — teaching, finishing grad school, church planting, and falling in love as my family was falling apart. Oakland and Castro Valley have all the first scenes of marriage and motherhood.
But a line from a hymn comes to mind and drowns out all the sounds of transition and struggle: Redeeming love has been my theme and shall be ’til I die.
God’s redeeming love has been the chorus of every bit of my story.
We aren’t settled yet. The narrative of OC life is just starting. I have no idea what to expect. But I have no doubt that God’s redeeming love — His ongoing gospel work in our hearts and lives, and pouring out to those around us — will continue to be the theme … to His glory.
This is a rather rambling post, just some things I want to write down before I forget —
It’s felt non-stop since we moved down to SoCal a little less than a month ago. I’m realizing that my ability to actually care for Mama and Papa Kim is limited by my need to care for my own littles. And since Mama Kim has been going through an aggressive period in her disease, part of my care for my kids has meant keeping them home and out of the path of danger. Very sad about this. So most of my participation has been in the way of researching, making phone calls, putting options before Papa Kim, helping with meals as I can, and — probably the hardest of all — freeing JE to serve them without complaining, without adding to his burden. The many phone calls throughout the day, the afternoons and evenings and weekends when his dad needs him. We’ve agreed this is a transitional period. We’re trying to find a new normal not only for us but for his parents. God give us strength during this period.
Some evidences of His strength-giving grace lately:
Last week, I was at cracking point, but we were able to visit my parents and our church in NorCal for a whirlwind trip (less than two days). We almost canceled the trip because of the complications with Mama Kim, but JE delayed the trip only by a day so we could help his parents figure out a solution while we were gone and said, “Let’s go.” We packed in an hour and went. It was worth it to go, even if just to see the reunion between my parents and the kids. They missed each other so much. And seeing dear friends at church, friends I could cry to and share with and be encouraged by … God knew.
I also developed a stress-related infection shortly before leaving for NorCal. I didn’t realize how severe it was until we came back. So I went to urgent care and had some medicine prescribed to me. I worried about the cost since I’d be paying sans insurance (insurance for JE’s new job doesn’t kick in ’til March 1), but the pharmacist at Vons was extraordinarily kind to me. She noticed my driver’s license had a different address than my medical records, so that launched us into a conversation about my move to SoCal. She signed me up for a discount program for my medication. So my total for the medication was $7. She also gave me a $25 Vons gift card as a welcome to SoCal/urgent care referral bonus. And then — this was the part that tipped me over the edge and made me want to cry — she spent about five minutes tenderly telling me to take care of myself. This sounds so silly, but being in a season where it feels like we are helping everyone but have no one to ask for help (I’m sure this is an exaggeration, but it’s one that my wavering emotions tempt me to believe sometimes), having a complete stranger see my burden and care for me was so moving. It was clearly God using this woman to remind me that He sees, He hears, He knows. And His arms never fail to hold us up.
I’m so grateful.
“The eternal God is a dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27a)
Spent the morning with a dear sister at our home, eating simple food but conversing and hearing words that were like morsels of manna to my soul.
I’ve been so anxious about housing and living situation for our move down south this past week. But I realize that much of my anxiety came from wanting everything and nothing at the same time. I wanted to find a situation that would allow us to serve our parents well, yet I didn’t want any of the inconvenience or sacrifice that came with it. I wanted to be a bondservant without having to do anything bondservant-like. Even with looking for a home, I was chasing more after worldly goods and standards.
And particularly as my friend shared about her time with a missionary couple in Kenya, my heart was stirred again for God’s work of rescue as His servants lay down their lives — their preferences, their goods, their comfortable plans, even the makeup of home life.
It expanded my view again on what really matters. Because it makes no sense to look for the kind of housing we’re looking for, makes no sense to leave an illustrious and promising job for one in a different field, makes no sense to uproot our family from our tight-knit community, makes no sense to leave the advantages of having my parents nearby … but God is calling us south. We have no doubt about that.
Granted, moving to SoCal can hardly be called sacrifice. It’s not like uprooting to go overseas, though we want to do that some day. But we give up little dreams and conveniences along the way. And if these small things can be laid down to further God’s kingdom, even in our tiny family and with our parents, then what can we say to these things? Only that we’ve considered them, along with everything else, as loss compared to the surpassing joy of knowing Christ. Only that they’re as nothing if we can fellowship with Him in His sufferings, even if it’s in the tiniest of ways.
And when I forget this, when I’m in the daily humdrum of cooking for my in-laws or cleaning house or doing things that make me really die to myself, let me do all things joyfully as unto my King, knowing my reward rests with Him. Because what can I give to Him? Nothing but these small offerings of love. So let me do it with all joy, with all perseverance, fixing my eyes on my lasting city.
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in Heaven
Things I don’t want to forget as we move down.