Monthly Archives: March 2016

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Family Planning

Life doesn’t always go as planned.

Christ found me when life was playing out just the way I wanted. I was 24, married to my college sweetie with a good job in a new city. I was grateful. Being raised by a single parent, life before college was a tale of humble beginnings. The first truth that the Lord showed me was that He loved me and had much better plans.

Our pregnancy was going well in Denver, but back in Chicago, my mother’s health was rapidly declining due to complications from Parkinson’s Disease. She was no longer able to work or care for herself, and she lost her health insurance coverage and her home at age 55.  

This is where we scrapped our plans and relied on the first truth the Father revealed – that He loves us and has already taken care of Mom’s needs, and ours. We moved her in with us with no precedent or blueprint of what to do. It soon became clear that Mom would always be with us, so our family portrait started looking a little different than we had planned. We didn’t know what we were doing, but only knew that Jesus was ahead of us, and that He would sort out the details.

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Taking care of Mom was the hardest but also the most rewarding responsibility to date, but I felt we were in full favor with God. Our mother-daughter bond grew because we spent so much time together. I witnessed my husband act selflessly and lovingly on her behalf, and grew deeper in love with him because of it. My children got to know Mom and love her unconditionally. This happened during the time that we found our first church home, Eastern Hills, which we’ve been members of for nearly two decades. The Lord covered our needs, provided Mom with full health care coverage, and blessed us with a caring community of people in a town where we previously knew no one.

Any time spent with Mom was a gift, even the hard times. God’s presence was there at every doctor’s appointment, every car ride, in every waiting room. We received help from strangers, changing our view of humanity and the power of service. It was during this time that Mom professed her faith in Christ as Lord and Savior, and spread the gospel to others in the nursing home, many of whom were dying. I witnessed Mom’s courage, strength and her deep faith in the Lord Jesus – a side of her that I did not know existed.

We were granted 13 more years of Mom’s company than her original prognosis. Even her passing was not what we had anticipated. When she passed peacefully in her sleep, with no suffering or pain, we knew that Jesus was with her, as He had been all along.  

Caring for Mom helped us appreciate each moment we are given, and ask for strength and favor as they are needed. We witnessed God’s sovereignty in Mom’s life when she was no longer in control. We received His daily provisions and tried not to worry about what lay ahead. Most of all, this time showed us how us to rely on a God who loves us individually and powerfully. Today, I still hope and make plans for my family, which always now includes others, but with the understanding that God has a bigger picture and has laid better plans than I could ever imagine.  

 By Marjii Middleton

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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A Word

By Marianne H.
Homeschooling Mom in Colorado

Sometimes I get ahead of myself and of God. I am a forward thinker, envisioning the future. Several years ago, the Lord, in His attempt to slow my mind down to the present, asked me to focus on One Word for the entire year—to name my year with the intention of growing in that one area. I like words, so I thought that one at a time would be great. I was in. Of course, I asked if my word could be Love. Love seemed easy. He said Courage. Courage would be my word and that year I practiced bringing His Courage to six specific areas of my life.

The next year I was sure my word from Him would be Love. Still seemed easy. He said Entrust. I have always resonated with the picture from 1 Peter 2:23 of Jesus on the cross entrusting Himself to the Father. But I wondered about this word for me. I soon found out. In October of 2013 my husband was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes (an autoimmune disease), and that began my year of entrusting myself to my Father as we walked through grief, change, shifts in our marriage, parenting issues, insurance and medical problems. Days of attempting to dig out from under the overwhelming piles of all the things I couldn’t control and didn’t ask for, I would—and could—only mutter “Entrust.” I held on to this one word and the hope that He would get my family and I through.

The Hojnowski Family

Marianne and Her Family

He grew my faith and moved me into a new year and I began to pray about a new word. But before He moved entrust into the fabric of my life, He had to show me how much I needed to surrender and entrust my future to Him because how I had envisioned, dreamed and imagined it might not be so. He asked me to entrust this unknown future into His hands without any idea of how tangled relationships would be brought to reconciliation, or without glimpses of how the issues with our kids would unfold. My dreams, desires and destiny were all laid at His feet. Easy to say, but in order for me to do it and to walk through it practically and authentically, the Lord had to remind me that the circumstances don’t and won’t look neat and pretty, but that He IS Lord over all my circumstances. His Spirit is at work in all the unseen places, all the ones I can’t wrap my brain around. He is supreme and in Him I entrust my life.

How about you? In what area of your life do you need the Lord to shift your focus and remind you who He is?