Running on Empty

EmptyGas

“Don’t let your gas tank get below a quarter of a tank!”

My dad still gives this life wisdom each time I leave for a long road trip. And he has for the last 25 years or so that I’ve been driving. I am reminded of it each time the indicator light comes back on in my minivan indicating that my gas level has once again gone below a quarter of a tank. The stress level in me quickly rises as I hope I can make it in to a nearby gas station, distraught because I don’t have the time to stop and fill up right then, and frustrated because it seems like I just filled up three days ago! Why don’t I listen to my dad on this?

Mothers of children with special needs do a lot of running. From school to doctors to activities to church and family functions, we are on the go. And with all the kids and carseats and cargo we tote around, most of us drive vehicles that don’t get very good gas mileage. So by necessity, we have to return to the nearest gas station frequently, often pushing our luck with a gas level far below a quarter of a tank.

As we need frequent fill ups in our vehicles, even more so do we need frequent fill ups in our lives. As we need our cars to keep going strong for us, our families need us to keep our hearts, souls, minds and strength going strong for them.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  Mark 12:30

Here Jesus tells us the most important command is to love God, and to love Him in four ways. I see these as four ways we need to be filled in order to faithfully serve Him. Emotions, spirit, thoughts and physical health. If we don’t stop and refuel in each of these areas, we run on empty in a constant state of stress and frustration.

1. When we are filled emotionally, our emotions are in check, balanced by self-control and a healthy perspective on the people and situations in our lives. When we are running on empty emotionally, every fleeting feeling we have comes pouring out of our mouths and we are left to pick up the pieces of all that we have damaged along the way.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Proverbs 5:23

 Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. Matthew 12:34

2. When we are filled spiritually, we run on the wisdom and peace and power of the Holy Spirit. We are filled with a lasting joy that goes beyond our circumstances. We live by God’s Word. But when we are running on empty spiritually, we are running in our own sinful flesh and old self-centered ways, which leaves us, as an empty gas tank, broken down.

The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Galatians 5:22-23

3. When we are filled mentally, our thoughts become like Christ’s. We think on things that are honoring to God (Philippian 4:8), and we take control of thoughts that would dishonor him if left to become words and actions (2 Corinthians 10:5). But when we are running on empty mentally, we lose creativity and the ability to rationally solve the problems that life brings.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Romans 12:2

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 2:3

4. Finally, we need to be filled physically. We need to fill up with those habits which allow our physical bodies to best serve where God has placed us. We need balanced nutrition, regular exercise and, perhaps most important to exhausted moms, adequate rest. When we run on empty physically, we are exhausted in all areas- heart, soul, mind and strength.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own, you were bought at a price, therefore honor God with your body.  I Corinthians 6:19-20

 I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.  Psalm 4:8

There is some mechanical difference between newer cars and older cars related to gas tanks. I’m sure my mechanical father has told me before- some kind of converter something-or-other that one had or has and the other doesn’t. What I do remember is that it was less damaging to older cars to run out of gas, and that with today’s newer cars, running the gas tank all the way empty can be catastrophic to the engine.

So with today’s moms, running our tanks all the way to empty can be catastrophic. Irreparable damage to our families, our jobs, our bank account and our bodies can leave us completely stranded, broken down, alone on the side of the road of life.

Maybe you’ve been there. Maybe you’re there right now. I know I’ve been there several times.

Thankfully, our Redeemer is already on the way. He seeks us out and brings the filling of His Spirit. He fills up our hearts, souls, minds and bodies, restores us to wholeness, and get us back running safely again.

Will we learn from the breakdowns to fill up sooner? Will we watch and not go below a quarter of a tank? Will we come in for a “fill up” from the One who promises “He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35)?

He is waiting. Will we listen to our Father on this?

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.  Mark 6:31

Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.  Psalm 81:10

 

 

 

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Hope Trusts God’s Character

beautiful woman catches little girl jumping in pool against sea

My husband and I and our first born baby had just come home to our little apartment after her birth when she began to get very sick. The doctor told us she needed to get back to the hospital right away. There she was diagnosed with a blocked intestine. In all our fear and uncertainty, with really no idea of what to do, all we could do was what the doctors and nurses told us to do. That involved a lot of invasive testing, an ambulance ride to the specialty hospital downtown, and an 8-hour wait in the emergency room on Thanksgiving Night to be admitted for surgery.  Finally we met the surgeon who would be repairing the blockage. For me, that was when our hope was restored. This very tall, extremely kind and gentle man was known to be one of the top pediatric surgeons in the world. He knew exactly what needed to be done to “fix” our baby girl, and he had the reputation to prove he could do it. Once we knew who he was, we could trust him.

We can place our hope in God once we know who He is. We have to know His character before we can transfer our confidence to Him. The beautiful thing is that God is a God who makes Himself known.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities- His eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly seen.  Romans 1:20

A second beautiful thing is that He has made us to know Him.

You are my witnesses, declares the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am He.   Isaiah 43:10

There are so many incredible attributes of the great “I AM,” that we could spend a year studying them. But there are several that have been anchors for my soul along this parenting journey. As you read through them, think of how He has shown Himself to you in these ways along your journey.

God is holy. “As for God, His way is perfect.”  (Psalm 18:30) The holiness of God should always drive us to humility. An awareness of His utter perfection, infinitely above His creation, should bring us to a reverence that leads to great trust.

God is good. “Give thanks to the LORD for He is good.” (Psalm 136:1). As children we learn that “God is great, God is good,” but it is through years of experiencing the sweetness of His tender grace in our lives that we come to a much deeper understanding of His goodness. God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good. All that He does is for our good and His glory. Even in the very hard, His goodness is at work.

God is faithful. “Your faithfulness continues for all generations.”  (Psalm 119:90). God keeps all of His promises. Though we may fail to keep the covenant He has made with us, He will not. He cannot be unfaithful to His promises.  “Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)

God is unchanging. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) The same God we read of in the scriptures is the same God we love and serve and depend on today. His character does not change, no matter how much the circumstances around us do. Because He has always been holy, good and faithful, we can know He will always be. He is an unwavering anchor that holds through the even the fiercest storms of life.

God is omnipotent- having all power. “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power.”  (Daniel 7:14). God is all-powerful. He has power over all because He created all things. He is the Almighty- strong and reigning over all things. We see His power ultimately displayed when He conquered death and rose again. We trust that He will be mighty to save His children. He will be mighty to help us raise our children.

God is omniscient- having all knowledge. “You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely.” (Psalm 139:1-2, 4). God is all-knowing. His knowledge goes to the ends of the earth, and to the depths of my inmost being. He knows my every hurt, disappointment, and fear. There is no subject He is uninformed of, no question He cannot answer, no problem He cannot solve.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower. The righteous run to it and they are saved. Proverbs 18:10

God’s name is who He is, His character, His reputation. The “I AM” is a strong tower, and when we run to it, we are saved. Meditate on the fullness of who God is and raise your hope to Him. He is worthy of all our trust.

In your name I will hope, for your name is good. Psalm 52:9

 

 

 

Hope Trusts

rockclimber

To trust is to transfer confidence from myself to someone or something else. Trust begins with a belief that the someone or something else is worthy of being trusted. Hope begins with a trust that the anchor it holds on to will hold.  When we place our hope in the Lord, we trust that He will hold faithful and strong.

A horse is a vain hope for deliverance, despite all its great strength, it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD, He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.  Psalm 33:17-22

When our hope is in the Lord, we have His unfailing love, His deliverance from death, His provision in famine, His help, and His protection to hold on to. Ultimately we have His holy name. If we can even just taste His faithfulness in all these things, we can begin to transfer our confidence fully to Him. He has held firm and secure from generation to generation. He is worthy of our trust.

Guard my life and rescue me, let me not be put to shame for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in you.   Psalm 25:21

The world around us offers many things to put our hope in. We can hope in our health, our money, our jobs, our perfect children or our popularity. While these all may hold for a while, we know they can fail in an instant.  If we have transferred our confidence to one of these, we are left hopeless when they are gone.

The greater risk to me has been the temptation to place confidence in myself, to trust that I can take care of myself and meet all the needs of my family with my own intellect and strength.

Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD… But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.  Jeremiah 17:5-8

Thankfully, The Lord has provided times of extreme heat and severe drought to bring me to the end of myself and transfer my confidence to Him.  Certainly the challenges of diagnosing, accepting and beginning to move forward with a child with special needs have served to break me of me- and have forced me to cry out for God’s help. And He has been faithful.

We can trust God because God is trustworthy. When our souls place our hope in Him, and our confidence is in Him, we find peace and security like the “tree planted by water.” We are provided for. We are protected.

Where are you placing your trust? Is it on someone or something that will eventually fail? Maybe you’re experiencing or have experienced the hopelessness of a hold that has broken for you.  Can you place your trust on the Someone who has held and will hold for all of eternity?

Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who hope in me will not be disappointed.  Isaiah 49:23

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness

I dare not trust the sweetest frame

But wholly lean on Jesus name

When darkness veils His lovely face

I rest on His unchanging grace

In every high and stormy gale

My anchor holds within the veil

His oath, His covenant His blood

Support me in the whelming flood

When all around my soul gives way

He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ the solid Rock I stand

All other ground is sinking sand

All other ground is sinking sand.

Special Hope

MotheronDock

Maybe you knew before your child was born. Maybe you knew in the early months when development seemed delayed. Maybe it wasn’t until your child came into puberty that the difference became clear. Nevertheless, you discovered your child was different. And whether that difference is mild or severe, we as mothers of “different” children face unique challenges on our parenting journey.

I have learned from sharing with other mothers of children with special needs, and from my own parenting experience, that though each child’s diagnosis may be very different, our challenges are very similar. We all face grief and disappointment, isolation and fear, discouragement and uncertainty. We have all had those moments of complete despair, crying out face down, begging for God’s salvation. We have all felt the loneliness and exhaustion that can settle in at the end of a hard day.

For those of us who know Christ as our Savior and Lord, we have also experienced God’s faithful hand holding true through those desperate moments. The Comforter has come near with His presence and power. We have glimpsed His glory in moments of peace and love, victory and joy. In spite of all the hard, God has been good.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. Hebrews 6:19

Sailors cast out anchors to hold their boats secure through storms. So too must we learn to cast out an anchor to hold firm and secure through the storms we face.  Hope is that anchor.  Hope is faith in knowing the storm will pass, an expectation that God will bring us through.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12

God’s Word is rich in encouragement for mothers of a child (or children) with special needs. This simple verse gives a theme for our lives on this journey. May we find the joy in holding on to hope.  May we find patience resting deep in our soul as we walk through affliction.  May we be faithful to stay down on our knees in prayer.

The purpose of “Special Hope” is to give biblical encouragement to mothers of children with special needs, applying God’s Word and practical experience, bringing special hope in the unique challenges we face. When our souls are anchored to hope, we find peace even in the hardest of trials. We move onward with the strength, wisdom and joy Christ is faithful to give.

This blog is focused on encouraging moms who faithfully care for their children. As in an airplane we are told to put our own oxygen masks on first, then on our children, so too must we feed our hearts, souls and minds first so we can best serve our children. May God use His Holy Word and the words offered here to greater fill your cup.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23