Give Thanks in All Things

Are you ready to give up? I’m not sure if I can take any more.  The violence, the hatred, the chaos, the greed, the pain and sickness penetrating every crevis of this nation is about to cause us to implode on ourselves. There are moments when I want to throw my hands in the air, wave my white flag of surrender, then crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head.

And yet in those dark moments, there is always a sliver of light. 

In the 11 hours of driving I did this past week, I listened to a lot of music. One of my favorite CDs (yes I’m old school. I buy CDs.) is NeedtoBreathe’s Rivers in the Wasteland.  The first tract is Wasteland and the chorus goes “In this wasteland where I’m livin’, there’s a crack in the door filled with light, and that’s all I need to get by. In this wasteland where I’m livin’, there’s a rack in the door filled with light, and that’s all I need to shine.” These words give me hope. This light is the love of Christ. My hope is in God’s purpose, God’s strength and His love for me. 

This kid is not going to be able to have his sixth birthday party because he’s in the hospital yet one more time. His little body is fighting another infection. Clostridium difficile (C. difficile, or C. diff) is a specific kind of bacterial infection that causes mild to life-threatening forms of diarrhea and colitis. A child with very low immune system, this life threatening. 

This sick, sick little boy has so many life threatening problems. Each day is lived moment to moment. But yet in this darkness, there is light. Brayden has lived six years beyond the expectations of the doctors who delivered him. The special equipment, skills, information that doctors and nurses have to research or learn in able to treat this special child, not only helps Brayden, but will increase the care for other children in the future. Through all of the suffering and pain, B only shows love, smiles and thankfulness. After every poke, prod, stick, reaction, fear, this brave little guy says thank you. He has every right to be an angry, hateful, difficult boy, but he isn’t. His love for Jesus radiates from him. One time while waiting to see another doctor, he saw a teenager in the waiting room with him who was fighting cancer and looking sad and ill. So Brayden gave his stuffed animal to the teen telling him it will be ok. Doctors, nurses, orderlies, teachers, therapists, small business owners, communities of people are affected by the joy this boy brings into each of our lives. We are better people knowing him.

God is using this terrible situation for His glory and I give thanks.

As I shared with you before, my mom broke her hip. In the moments after the accident, I scoured the Internet to get more information about what we all should expect. The majority of sites commented on the likelihood of infection and pneumonia setting in. Especially at her age, the prognosis didn’t look good. My siblings and I were worried. Yet, in that unsure time, there was the goodness of doctors, nurses and therapists. My family did whatever we could do to be there for her. We came together as one loving unit to care for our mom. When the fall happened at the beginning of May, we were unsure of mom’s future. When she gets out of rehab, where will she live? Just because the doctors release you, doesn’t mean you are healthy enough to live on your own. 

Then my sister announced that she was retiring after 27 years of teaching and that mom could live with her and her husband. What a blessing! Her home sits on the Georgia coast overlooking the beautiful marsh. The house is a single story with one step to get inside. My mom is able to have that personal in-home care with the love of Susan.

I believe each of my siblings and I have grown in love and appreciation for eachother. For me, I have learned the importance of letting people help me. My mother taught me to be strong and independent, but these positive attributes can also become a sin of pridefulness. During the times in my life where I am determined to do it all myself and am completely frustrated and failing, I am reminded that I am not all I’m cracked up to be. I need Jesus. He will send sweet friends and family to help me. And what a gift they are! Thank you God for providing. You are so good. 

After 29 years of satisfied customers, who respect him, trust him explicitly and not one complaint, his career has had a nuclear bomb dropped on it. What no man in the business thought could happen to a guy like this, happened. In the weeks preceding the nuclear event, every conceivable situation was thought through. The fear, anxiety and stress that hung in the room could be cut with a knife. Satan and his minions planted seeds of doom. But what the evil one underestimated was the love of God. People prayed. Men made appointments with him to pray with him. When the bomb landed grown men wept.

Now a few weeks into the aftermath, I see where God has had a hand in this. I see his fingerprints all over the place. In that dark, suffocating room was a crack in the door. That crack was the pastor who got on his knees with this man and prayed. This man prayed, read the bible and wrote pieces of scripture to remind him of who is ultimately in control. 

Within hours of his entire business being shut down, he joined forces with a God believing company, where old friends welcomed him in. A command center was organized and the battle began. He goes into the office at 7:30 and sometimes gets home at 11:30 at night. Seven days a week he is on the front lines fighting for not only his livelihood, but the job security of his staff and partners. When a letter of battle goes out from the enemy, his army of ten answer the phones and reassure that this guy is still here. Every. Single. Client asks where they can sign up.

What does the future look like? We don’t know. What we do know is that in this man, my childre have a real man to look up to. He has shown the kids the value of honesty, trustworthiness, and hard work. They are not watching a man wallow in his pity with bitterness and thoughts of revenge. No, they are seeing a strong, smart, man of value working hard to do what’s right. I hate seeing someone I love be criminalized, stressed, and hurt, but I love seeing what God is doing in this situation. 

Friends we all grieve for what is happening in this country with everyone fighting, killing and hating. This is not the work of God. I know that I can not change a nation, but I can change me. I believe that Satan is using tv news, social media, radio and print to poison us against eachother. 

What if we believed less about what others say and live for what is right and true? What if we were thankful for everything in all circumstances? What if we showed a little more love? What if we spent a little more time with the one who loved us before creation?

Friends I give thanks for you! Hope you have a fantastic weekend!

1Thessalonians 5:16-18.  Rejoice always;  pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Brayden, God’s Little Angel

This is Brayden. In his 2year old life, he’s had 37 operations with 10 more at least planned in the future. As you can see he has a trache tube to help him breathe.

I met Brayden at the homeless shelter, where I volunteer twice a week. He and his mom moved from NY state to try to start a new life. They have no family or friends here, just the two of them.

Brayden and I play together while his mom and the other ladies have bible study. The doctors told his mom that he wouldn’t live, walk or learn. Well, he’s shown the doctors wrong. He runs and plays like any other little boy. I think he’s smarter than most children his age doing puzzles, stacking cups, and building with Legos. And his greatest gift is just making everyone around him smile.

This is one of his first days in the hospital, looking pretty good and being a wiggly 2year old,(thus why the picture is blurry. He was “cutting” his, his mom’s, the teddy bear’s, and my hair with the oxygen moniter).
Unfortunately, he developed pneumonia and an infection around his trache tube which landed him in the hospital. He has been there for two and a half weeks. Things have gone down hill. This past Monday the surgeon operated on his trachea in hopes of repairing it so Brayden could breathe unassisted. The doctor decided it was beyond his capabilities and Brayden needed to be transferred down to the medical university. While the doctor was there, the baby had a feeding tube put in to give him the nutrition he needs. Sadly, though, he has vomited everything back up. Nothing will stay down. This is putting off the transfer.

With a feeding tube, vomiting, trache tube, iv’s, all the poking and prodding done every 4 hours, this baby still has a smile and a kiss for you.

God has great plans for this little boy. Please pray with me for Brayden and his mom, Nina. She hasn’t left his side. She’s scared, tired, frustrated and loves her little funny monkey so much.