The response to the Lenten Prayer challenge has taken my breath away. Seriously, it has caused me to pause, to question, to fret but ultimately to seek Him boldly. I am so over my head.
Motivated to serve you, while knowing I would benefit too, has been the winning formula. I’m relying on Him and asking His blessing over each of you and your experience. If you’re a blog subscriber, but are not yet a part of the Lenten Prayer challenge, you may still join us. It starts on Wed. March 6. Click this green link to add your name.
***The Lenten Prayer Challenge***
If you have joined the Lenten Prayer Challenge, but are not a blog subscriber, I have included you on this blog article because of it’s relevancy.
Being Ian’s mother has been the hardest assignment of my life.
(For those of you who don’t know our history…. Ian was born with a rare condition that resulted in 3 major brain surgeries. Then Aug 2017, 6 weeks after recovering from his third surgery, and five days after moving off campus for his junior year of college, he was hit by a car while crossing the street and has been recovering ever since.)
Even now, without being overly dramatic, there are times when I feel genuine relief to get through a day or a week and think… PHEW no one died. And then…without warning, I experience a new bottom. More trauma, more suffering.
Last Wednesday after being inundated with requests to join the prayer challenge, and feeling excited but scared, we hit a new bottom.
A Dark Afternoon
We met with Ian’s new insurance case manager. It was just a cross the t’s and dot the i’s meeting, but it required a rehash of all Ian hates facing. (His health history, his rare diagnosis from birth, his risks, his disabilities from the TBI.) While he laughed through the two hours, as soon as she left the shift in his mood was palpable. Reminded of his disabled reality, I was his punching bag.
I recognized the pattern and I saw it coming, but that didn’t matter. Emotions were negative; and words were both hurtful and explosive. And I got sucked into the fray.
That evening, still hiding in my shell and reeling from the afternoon bloodshed, Ian didn’t show up when expected. SunVan dispatch reported that he had cancelled his ride home. Frantically I called. I texted. Many times. No answer. Threats ignored. Doug tracked his phone to the art building and drove there. Locked doors. More ignored phone calls. As my stress mounted, the words in my head played on repeat. Ian was last seen in tears, barely able to walk into the UNM art building, wearing his favorite Marilyn Monroe tee shirt and carrying a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was a wreck.
To add fuel to my fear, the doctor called that afternoon with results from his EEG. Ian’s seizure medicine should not be discontinued. (Medicine he takes every evening)
About 11pm we did receive a text from Ian’s friend (3 hours after I had frantically called and texted him) “Ian is with me.” While we were grateful Ian wasn’t “on the street” the fear and panic turned to anger and hurt.
I tell you that story, because in the midst of all of that fear and panic and anger and hurt, I practiced the very prayer suggestion I had been writing about in preparation for the prayer challenge that kicks off Wednesday.
Coincidence? No chance! What is my suggestion?
Invite God into your prayer circle
Here is my hot off the press first hand account of my experience.
Unable to sleep, I got up in the middle of the night to check my phone. Nothing. I prayed. Lord, protect Ian from himself. Come Holy Spirit. I need you. I need sleep.
Please give me a picture to hold onto to silence my thoughts. On my knees now, a calm came over me. A strong mental image invaded my minds eye. As if I was ten years old sitting in the pew, there He was. On the stained glass window from my hometown church in Pennsylvania the vivid scene of Jesus surrounded by children on his lap, captured my attention. The picture made sense to me. Jesus was protecting Ian. And miraculously, restful sleep did come.
The picture changes
The next morning, I decided exercise would be a helpful distraction as I endured more waiting. After the warm up in my spinning class, I closed my eyes to climb the hill. Immediately I saw my picture again. With Lady Gaga blaring, my eyes closed, I felt the hot tears build up behind my eyes. The picture had changed slightly. Jesus was still seated with his arms out stretched, but my 57 year old self was nestled in His lap. With gentle loving kindness Jesus was holding me and speaking words of assurance.
After my workout, at 11:33am I received a text from Ian. “I apologize.”
In spite of a lack of sleep and an aggressive workout, I was calm and energized. Confident now that God was directing my steps. Our conversation when Ian did come home could not have gone any better. And I wasn’t even surprised.
In the end, God masterfully redeemed that horrible 36 hours. Beauty from ashes.
Invite the Lord into your circle. Be alert. Watch for Him. Listen for Him.
- Invite the Holy Spirit into your prayer circle
- Identify what you need, be as specific as possible… I needed sleep
- Know that satisfying comfort ultimately comes from the Lord (We can’t rely on other people to provide what only God can. Even though Doug tried to comfort me, he fell short.
- God’s presence can’t be explained. But you’ll know it when you experience it.
- Conditions do not have to be quiet and reverent for God to be heard. I easily heard God over Lady Gaga.
- You cannot muscle an encounter with God. You invite Him into your situation and remain alert to receive what He has for you. Comfort. Direction. Insight. Revelation.
- God delivers. Every. Single. Time. He is faithful.
My experience was not anything mystical. In fact, it seemed weirdly natural. Most importantly, it was nothing that I DID. It was what God did for me.
Psalm 116:1,2 I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.
John 14:26,27 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Glenda Demmie says
Debbie, What an encouragement from God through you. Yes! I invite God into my circle too. Thank you for the reminder that He is in every moment of my life.
Glenda, After all these years… I find it amazing that He still surprises me.
April Nolz says
Beautiful and such a good reminder that we are all invited to sit on His lap for love and comfort no matter our age!! ❤️❤️
Indeed! We are all His children. Thx April.
Toni Hulce says
Debbie, you are amazing and sharing your rock bottom days with us is an inspiration and I have invited God into my Circle. God bless you and Thank you.
For His Glory, Toni. 💕
Linda Bush says
I have been on the receiving end of an adult childs wrath many times! While I took it because I was “safe “ I also let the offender know what it felt like to be a punching bag. I labeled it what it was – emotional abuse. I took it because they needed me to but they also have to take responsibility for their actions even if they do have a disability. It is a good thing God carries us.
As we begin the prayer challenge keep in mind that the devil won’t like it and he will be attacking!
Excellent point Linda! The 👿 is lurking.
T. M. says
Thanks to our Heavenly Father for the loving way He showed you how much He loves ALL HIS CHILDREN. What a wonderful introduction and reminder of God’s love and His awesome ways to begin our prayer challenge. Thank you Deb for sharing this powerful story.
Amen T.M. For His Glory!
Susan Zimmerman says
When we are at our lowest and fully dependent upon him, that’s when I believe He answers.
Sometimes. I think that’s true. His grace is always sufficient.
Katherine Ott says
God gives us the tools we need every single time, every single minute. He will give you the tools you need to lead the Lenten Prayer Challenge. He will give me the tools I need to listen and trust His love. He will comfort all of us.
Thank goodness He is up to the task.
Randy Ott says
Katherine and I thought my back surgeries were the ultimate in suffering, for both of us. Reading your recent experience, the back problems are small in comparison. I was impressed how you were able to ask God for help. You and Doug are two very strong individuals!
I’ve found that you can’t really compare suffering. Pain is pain. Good thing He can use all of it.
“Nightmare” describes perfectly what a mother goes through when her child is in peril. Imagination runs wild and manifests in an emotional and physical way. I, too, have been on my knees and felt that calm and peace when that picture of Jesus holding me fills my mind and spirit. It’s like at that moment all His promises of comfort and grace and peace become real. Thank you for sharing this and describing it so well. We mothers can be convenient targets for the frustrations and anger our adult children go through as they live their daily disappointments and challenges. I think at those times we must put ourselves first and be the stronger of the two. Don’t engage. Ever. Demand that he or she leave our presence and if that doesn’t happen, leave. Get in the car and go if necessary. During a time when talk is possible, quietly make it abundantly clear that that abusive behavior will not be tolerated and explain the consequences, that one of you will definitely leave. Explain that you will discuss the issue when he can do so quietly. That has worked for me as it ends any escalation before it can even begin. It doesn’t reward inappropriate behavior. This really pretty simple mandate opened a whole new and brighter relationship for me and my son. I think it even built better trust between us and helps us to better work together.
Amen to relational progress!
Mary Johnstone says
Deb, I have been struggling what to put in my circle. What do I want from this Lenten Challenge? Your post just helped me see that I have that worry thing too that keeps me from sleep. It is usually job related worry. So I am pasting this very blog at the front of my journal and this will be in my circle. To work on not worrying and let go and let God. I want to hear his voice above Lady Gaga.
Love that Mary. “God speak. Help me to hear you over lady Gaga!”
Wyatt Young says
Debbie that was an amazing gift from god. Been through that with my oldest daughter when she was younger. God does test us all the time.
His grace is sufficient. Thank goodness there is purpose in the struggle.
Dawn Johnston says
Debbie, it is hard to keep enduring “storms” in this life, especially when they come one after another after another. Turning it all over to God is an amazing experience, and yet I always struggle with it, but am getting better at it! We are all at different points in our journey but God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit are always with us. We just have to realize it and take comfort in it and continually have faith. Thank you for sharing your experiences so honestly. I am so looking forward to the prayer circle! It’s going to be an awesome Lent! Xoxo
Amen dawn! Love having my favorite Catholic pray alongside us.
Your blog tied in beautifully with my Bible Studies’ study on Daniel. God hears us no matter where we are and what we are doing. He uses these difficult moments to focus on Him and praise Him! I took notes on your Lenten introduction. I am listing all those things I pray for and asking for a specific focus to allow the Holy Spirit to request on my behalf. I know I often pray and then later think, well I could do this, I could do that, maybe if I only…I will definitely crave stopping myself in those moments to truly let go. To be less self sufficient in figuring it all out and doing it myself but truly using God’s gift of the Holy Spirit and God’s grace to work for me together. You are not alone experiencing difficult times with a child. I think you handled it beautifully. There’s always a learning curve, but, it only strengthens us and our relationships. God’s got this and I think Lady Gaga would agree!!
Ha! Another coincidence no doubt. I’m hoping 40 days will help our learning curve. 🙏
Anne Kole says
Debbie, praise God that he gave you that beautiful vision of being safe on Jesus’ lap as his child! He always knows what we need, doesn’t he? I think we are most vulnerable and weak when our children are in trouble! I remember a time when I was flooded with God’s presence as I lay prostrate in prayer for one of my kids. I think we become parents for many of God’s reasons; one of them being that it reveals our need to trust him, especially in seemingly impossible situations. Thank you for sharing your personal trials and suffering honestly. Love and grace to you this week from our Lord Jesus!
Thank you. I would welcome a low drama week!
Paula McPherson-Koy says
What an awesome lesson to learn! Your words were so profound! God will be in my circle with the prayer challenge. I look forward to it. Blessings…Paula
PS: I, too, have a picture of Jesus holding me. What a peace to know He loves me!
Sharon Powell says
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to join you in your focused prayer effort Debbie.
I look forward to waiting, recognizing God’s presents, and what He has for us/me.
Wonderful Sharon. I pray he blesses your obedience!
Nom Johnson says
Beautiful. I so appreciate this.
Lots of ‘yeps’ and ‘I identify’. . . being someone’s favorite dumping or punching bag. Often because you’ve stood by them long, and hard, and were with them when no-one else could or cared to.
Thanks for getting our eyes ON GOD while being real and truthful with the pain or injustices we sometimes have to bear.
SO glad your son apologized! YEAH for self-awareness and GOD-awareness.
Bless you all! 🙂
Thank you Nom! There is some comfort in knowing I’m not the only one!
Christy A says
Thank you Debbie for so beautifully articulating how God shows up in your life.
Giving me little glimpses like this of how deeply your world has been and is rocked has been an inspiration to me, an inspiration to look to Jesus for everything and give him everything as honestly as I possibly can.
Love you dear friend and heatedly for a way to connect.
Yes… world rocking is an understatement. But I am finding my way and credit His faithfulness. Thanks Christy. I am humbled to know my broken pieces can be used.
Jane Meginnes says
I have prayed that prayer, come Holy Spirit and bring rest. You are wise to think about and take care of yourself. Self care is important as we help bear the burdens of others. Love is HARD! What Jesus did fir us was HARD! Thank you for all the love and effort you are pouring out for others. God Bless and breathe. God controls all the outcomes in every situation.
Thanks Jane. Yes… you do get it. Thank God for His sovereignty!