Declare His Works With Rejoicing
The words, "Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness..." are repeated over and over again in Psalms 107, one of my favorite chapters in Psalms. Verse 22b says, "Declare His works with rejoicing." Today I want to share the goodness of God in my life, particularly the works of His hands concerning miracles that I have witnessed in my family and loved ones all around me. This is to encourage me, to remind myself that God is still the same yesterday, today, and forever will be the same. If it encourages you, then it is a double blessing. Psalms 77:11, "I will remember the works of the LORD: surely I will remember thy wonders of old." So, sit back and remember with me the works of my Lord.
I met my husband in 1997. Up to that point my family had never had a major emergency of broken bones or anything of the sort. God had pretty much kept us safe and healthy overall, though I do remember a few major answers to prayer that are another story for another day. The day I drove down to Connecticut for the first time to meet Joe's family, something terrible happened at my house. This was before cell phones were around so there was no way for my family to contact me in my travels and had to wait until I arrived at Joe's home. I was only there for about an hour when the phone rang and they handed it to me. It was my brother Nathan.
"Uh, Cara, I hate to have to bother you right now, but Becky had an accident today."
My heart began to pound like crazy. All these images flashed through my mind and I could only imagine the worst. "What happened?" I asked.
"Becky was in the pool and she dove in and broke her neck. She can't move her legs and is at the hospital right now."
Could not move her legs? My sister was paralyzed? I could not believe my ears! Immediately sensing my anxiety Nate encouraged me to stay down in Connecticut for the weekend as planned. There was nothing I could do anyway, except pray, which I could do down there too, so I sadly listened to his advice and stayed. Joe's sister and her husband took me aside after I hung up and they prayed for my family, and for me, to have peace and for God to work in this matter.
The next day we had a singles group activity, which was the main reason I had chosen that weekend to go down, and we passed the word along to everyone there to pray for my sister Rebecca. As far as I knew the prayer chain was passed along to friends and family and hundreds of people were praying across the country. What a neat way to see God's family come together as one!
I was finally able to see her Monday morning. I worked at the Employee Health department of the hospital, so it was convenient for me to stop in her room on my way to work. I poked my head in and saw her crying as she laid in bed. With tears pouring down my cheeks, I ran over to her and gave her a gentle hug.
"I wanted you here so bad!" she exclaimed to me. "I missed you so much!"
It was extremely hard for me to see her in bed like that. I did not want to think about the possibility of her being laid up for the rest of her life. God had to work a miracle!
Over the course of the week, she had some surgeries to repair the broken piece of her neck. The doctors gave her a 5% chance of ever walking again, seeing that 95% accidents of that sort end up never getting better. By the middle of the week, she was moving her legs and getting up with help. By the end of the week she was walking by herself and was released to go home. She had a summer's worth of wearing a brace on her neck, but it was truly a miracle from the Lord. My sister was walking again! His mercy endureth forever!
Nine months later, I was at my grandmother's house on the Cape. My grandfather was in the hospital, very sick and on his deathbed. Once again I had a hard time seeing a loved one in a hospital bed all hooked up to tubes. My dad had the opportunity to sit with him and share the Gospel, and miracles of miracles, my grandfather got saved that day! He had been so hard hearted all his life! Do not ever give up hope on your loved ones!
I remember that morning so well - I was lying on the couch where I had slept and the phone rang. I heard talking and sobbing in the kitchen and I knew my grandfather had passed away. After a few tears of my own, I went out to see how my grandmother was doing. Not so good. She was on the couch having an anxiety/heart attack. I knelt down, took her hand, and began praying with her. She went to the hospital and once again the unknowns were dancing around my head. She was okay over time, but we all missed my grandpa.
Three months after Joe and I were married, we were living at his parent's house while we waited for our apartment to be ready. His grandmother passed away and that same week his mother knocked on our door and informed us she was having a heart attack. Joe called 911 and I took her to the living room, where I sat her down, held her hand, and prayed with her. I talked quietly to her while we waited for the ambulance, encouraging her while my heart did its own dance of fear. I believe the Lord had used the time with my grandmother to prepare me for this moment. He saw us through another tough time and was merciful through it all. For His mercy endureth forever.
I was in labor for nine hours with my second child, Caleb. Terrible back pain wracked my body and we tried different ways to ease the pain. Having previously chosen to have a home birth, we were at home in the comfort of my own surroundings. We had two midwives there to help and finally, I gave birth to my smallest baby (of all five), an eight pound baby boy. I was so exhausted at that point that I did not realize how serious it was that he was not making a sound, or breathing for that matter. In a bustle of activity, the midwives prepared to use oxygen on him, but God impressed on Joe to pray for the baby. Joe touched his little head and said, "I command you to breath in the name of Jesus!"
With a gasp, Caleb suddenly breathed and let out a little mew sound, and then opened up and began crying loudly. He cried for three months after that, but praise God, he spared the life of our precious son! God's mercy endureth forever!
When JJ was a baby, my sister Joanna developed a cyst on her hip that grew rather large and weakened her leg. With one slip and fall on the wet bathroom floor, she went down and broke her leg. She ended up in traction and once again I was traveling to see one of my siblings in the hospital. We celebrated JJ's first birthday in that room, so she could join in the festivities. She spent the entire summer in traction and I can still remember the day when she was supposed to have surgery on her hip. It was fifteen minutes before it was scheduled and the doctor walked in and showed her the x-ray.
"Look at this," he told her. "Your cyst is healing. See? It is closing up! We don't need to perform surgery!"
That was truly an answer to prayer! Her leg continued to heal and she never needed surgery. Praise be to God! His mercy endureth forever!
A year after we moved into our house, JJ went through a strange trial with his hip. He was hurting so bad that he could not climb up the stairs to get to the table for dinner. We called the ambulance and they carried him out and Joe rode to the hospital with him. I went later after getting Joe's mom to watch the girls. For hours we waited in the ER, waiting for someone to come look at him. I prayed the entire time, praying it would not be serious, that we could go home soon. After a doctor came, he looked serious and told us we would have to go to the children's hospital. I rode along with him in the ambulance. It looked serious. The informed us they would have to drill a hole in his hip and drain the fluid out. It sounded awful. "Oh, God," I prayed. "Please don't let them have to do that!"
JJ fell asleep and the doctor pressed on his hip. JJ did not move. That was a good sign. If it was what they thought, he would have jumped off the bed in pain. They sent us home and the whole thing seemed like a dream. He never had the problem again. Whatever it was, God healed him while we waited and allowed us to be spared any surgeries. Praise the Lord! His mercy endureth forever!
Years later, it was my little brother Nate's turn. He was working on a roof with his boss and the scaffolding gave way under them and they both fell 22 feet to the ground. His boss walked away with a broken collar bone and arm, but Nate landed on a pile of wood and was knocked cold. He had fractured bones and a major head injury - it did not look good at all.
Once again I was headed to the hospital in Vermont. I cried when I saw my strong, big (little) brother lying there. All he could say to me was, "I will help you fix your computer. I know the password. I will fix it in a few days." Over and over again he assured me my computer would be okay. I grew worried. This really did not look good. I felt like I was talking to a broken record. My three year old son Caleb could understand him though. They carried on a conversation like only two little children could. It was scary!
It was said Nate might never drive again, that it would be years before he regained the full use of his brain. Yet, it was barely a month before he was up, walking around, and returning to his normal self again. Within a year he was completely healed, married, and it was like nothing had happened. To God be the glory! His mercy endureth forever!
I could continue on with stories of God's hand protecting us, (like the time Caleb was pushed down the stairs: he was in a full fall position, but an invisible hand pushed him back upright again and set his feet on the top step! I truly believe God has a special mission for Caleb after all he has been through!) watching over us, delivering us from the hand of the destroyer. People we love in our church have endured tremendous trials, but we have seen God work and spare them from further pain, our dear Pastor Bish included. I believe God is using these miracles as a witness to my family - I am excited to say my older brother finally stopped running from God this year and gave his life over to Jesus. I saw him baptized and have seen a major change in his life. Tears of joy ran down my face as I witnessed this miracle! Yes, God is a God of miracles and we must never forget that He is still working today, as He did 10, or2000 years ago. I will remain steadfast in His loving care, trusting Him to once again do great things in my family now. His mercy endureth forever!
Hello friends and family! I have not forgotten you nor have I given up on writing my blogs. I have been extra busy these last few weeks working on a couple different writing projects, as well as preparing my room where I will be teaching kindergarten starting this Monday. It is hard to believe that summer is over, but with this cooler weather, it already feels like September. I love listening to the crickets and frogs out my window at night, and the fresh, cooler air makes for great sleeping weather. I only hope and pray it does not heat up in September and fry us to the bone when we are in school!
I am very excited to once again be a part of the Heritage Baptist Academy team this year, and I looking forward to an awesome year. All week I worked really hard to get the classroom set up and I am very pleased with how it came out. I will take a picture of it and post it later so you can see what I have done. After much cleaning and painting, it looks like a cozy, calming classroom and not some harsh, empty room that it was when we started.
Last night we had parent/teacher orientation and I got to meet most of my students and their parents. It really struck me hard that this is reality...there is no going back now. All these parents are entrusting me to teach their children (six to be exact) and I do not feel worthy of this calling. I pray the Lord gives me great wisdom, strength, and patience to instruct these little ones, including my Benny. It is amazing how God orchestrates circumstances in our lives, molding and bending us to be able to perform something for Him later on down the road. There is so much happening in our family right now: new jobs, friends and family moving, trials and hardships of unspoken burdens...the list goes on, but like I mentioned in the last blog, the trials of yesterday give us hope for today.
I had the privilege to sit with one of my friends the other night (one who told me they plan on moving far away some day, though it seems to be put off for the time being) in the rare quiet of not having any children around. I got to listen to her share her testimony with me, one of healing and the amazing grace of God. As a sat and listened, I once again realized that my simple, plain life seemed so, well, so plain after all she said. I do not have a story of having to be pulled out of deep pit of sin so murky that all hope seemed to be lost. I did not go through a time where I felt like I just wanted to die and be rid of this life on earth. Yet, in God's eyes, I was no different to Him than she was; I was not any better. Even as a little girl of seven or eight years old, I still needed salvation just as much as she did, caught in the midst of what seemed like hell to her. Yet, after all is said and done, I am really a nobody, with no story to tell, other than, "God saved me when I was a child." I cannot go out and help others in the way that she can. She can whisper hope to ones who are in the same place she once was, and share with them that God loves them no matter what they did or are doing. He wants them to allow Him to take their hand and pull them out of the muck and mire, and clean them up to white and shining. But what can I do? I feel like a nobody. A naïve, simple, plain Jane kind of person...what do I have to offer?
The more I thought about this, the more I realized that God has a plan for nobodies in this life. He took many nobodies in the Bible and used them to do His work. Some of them let the power and position get to their heads, but many of them stayed humble and were mightly used of God. It is interesting how God always brings the latest thoughts that are going through my head to the pulpit and the preacher brings up the same topic, confirming what God has been speaking to me. Why, just the other night at church, the preacher talked about Hur, holding up Moses's arms as Joshua fought the Amalekites. Every time Moses held his arms up the Israelites would be victorious, but when he let his arms down, they began to lose. Aaron and Hur came up beside Moses and helped him keep his arms up the entire day, until the Israelites won the battle. We know a lot about Aaron, but we hardly know anything about Hur. He was a nobody. Yet, he was not afraid to get in and help where it was needed. I want to have that spirit. I want that willing spirit all the days of my life and never let it get to my head. It makes me think of the song:
Make me a servant,
Humble and meek,
Lord, help me lift up
those who are weak.
And may the prayer of my heart always be,
Make me a servant,
Make me a servant,
Make me a servant today.
So, as I begin this new school year, I pray that my heart remains soft and moldable for what may lie ahead, and that I am a willing servant to do what God has given me to do. Let the new school year begin!