Mercy and Grace in the Midst of the Storm
I have been pondering for weeks now what to write about for a follow-up to the session Claire and I lead on Mercy and Grace. Shortly after that SHE event, our family was delivered some life changing news. Henry, the four year old nephew of my brother in law, Joe, and my sister, Michelle, was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He underwent surgery almost immediately, and surgeons were able to remove 50% of the tumor. No more treatment will be done at this time, and Henry is currently under hospice care. When you hear news like this your mind begins to buzz with millions of questions and emotions. Whatever emotions or questions you may be asking as you read this; I have already felt or asked over the last month. On Halloween, the local news station in Georgia did a story on Henry. I will link it for you to watch, but be prepared, you WILL need tissues.
As I watched the video, I was overcome once again with a deluge of emotions. Yet, as I reflected back on it today, I see lessons that Father can teach all of us. When Claire and I lead our session, we never said that extending grace and mercy to yourself and others would ever be easy. It is a struggle and a battle. He wants us to lean on Him and His strength for EVERY NEED. The Kelley family is doing that right now. They are in the midst of leaning on Father to meet their every need right now. They are not only doing that, but they are proclaiming the HOPE that can only be found in Jesus during this time. The fact that the news station did not edit Jessie’s words about her faith shows that Henry does have a story to tell. Is this the story Ian and Jessie dreamed their son would tell?? Of course not, but they are just following Father’s hand as He leads them through their story. "We believe that Jesus's heart is for us, and for Henry, and for healing and restoration," Jessica said. "We may not see that on this side of glory. We'll still be with him in a short amount of time, forever."
In one of the most poignant parts of the video, Jessie described a recent experience with Henry.
"We were throwing pennies in the pond and I said 'You're supposed to make a wish before you throw the penny in the pond. What do you wish for? If you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?' And he said, 'This.' And it was the most amazing lesson to me to just enjoy the moment with him, that there is joy and peace because right now, my little boy is throwing pennies in the pond and we can smile and we can cherish that to a new level."
Children can teach us so much. They see the world in such a different way than we do. Sometimes, we just need to sit back and take a look around us and be thankful for the situation we are in right at that moment. I did that recently as I sat with some friends and thought back to when I first got involved with Total Woman U. It was amazing to sit back and see how Father’s hand had guided me and lead me to where He has me today. That road was not smooth and straight…it was bumpy and rough and lead me through some tough times, but without them, I would not be where I am today.
Henry’s situation is not fun nor is it something any of us would want our children to go through. I just know that when these kinds of tragedies rock our world, there is someone who can keep us from falling. Father holds us up in such an amazing way and makes Himself known to all those around us. Jessie, Ian, Henry, and Miri Kelley are allowing Jesus to shine through them wherever they go. Do they have rough days?? YOU BET THEY DO!! Please pray for them over these next few months. Continue to pray for a miracle. Our Father can do amazing things. Pray for peace in the midst of this storm and for comfort.
I am praying for all of you that Father can give you His perspective in the midst of your circumstances. Know that ALL of the ladies on the TWU team love you and pray for you. Next time, I will be reflecting on a song by Matthew West on our perspective.
I love you!
While preparing for the last SHE event, I was also typing my application for Teacher of the Year. I struggled tremendously with that application because I did not want to brag on myself or my abilities. That obviously got me into some trouble many years ago. Father had taken me through an extreme time of brokenness, so it was interesting to find myself in that situation after all these years. As I began typing the essay for the application, it was so amazing to see how Father had arranged my steps over the years as stated in Proverbs 3:5,6 (NASB) “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.”
Let me share an abbreviated version of this journey:
He led me into teaching a long time ago. During my first semester at Florida State University, I started attending a Bible Study with Campus Crusade for Christ. One crisp and cool Tallahassee morning, I attended a Mug and Muffin sponsored by the CCC staff women. That morning, they were sharing from the book, Building Your Self Esteem
by Josh McDowell. They began to talk about people who influence our lives and shape our beliefs early in life. Of course, our parents were on the list, but then they began to list pastors, coaches, and teachers. As soon as the word, “teacher” was said, my heart began to beat rapidly in my chest. At this moment, I heard Father whisper in my ear, “Love the children.” I knew He was telling me to change my major. On Monday morning, I marched into the Stone Building to change my major from psychology to education.
Flash forward to March 14, 2012, the day of my interview for Teacher of the Year (TOY) for the parish. I found out the day before SHE that the committee wanted to interview me for TOY for the parish. I was humbled and prayed that Father would speak through me and that they would see Him as I spoke. On that morning, Kalon and I prayed that He would be glorified regardless of the outcome. During the interview, I was asked how my community work helps me as a teacher. I almost giggled with glee when I heard it. I began to tell them about the SHE event from four days before. I told them that I had spoken on exchanging lies for the truth during my session. I went on to say that this is what I do in my classroom every day. Because I teach in the gifted program, I deal with students who are VERY hard on themselves. They say things like “I am so stupid” on almost a daily basis. This is just one snippet of what we discussed that day.
Later on that afternoon, I began to ponder whether or not I had been chosen. I found myself focusing on that and it was making me anxious. Right at that moment, one of my precious students walked into my classroom crying. She asked if we could talk, and of course I said yes. She told me she had received a white slip over a poor choice she had made. She was devastated and could not bear thinking about facing her mom. I sat with her and reminded her that she was not a bad kid; she just made a poor choice that day. I told her that this can happen to anyone, it's just what you decide to do afterwards that makes the difference. I said you need to forgive yourself, pick your head up, and walk forward. I told her that we were going to call her mom and tell her about it. I got her mom on the phone and stayed with her while they talked. When she got off the phone, I could see the pressure release from her shoulders. Her mom had repeated truth to her as well. I walked this precious young lady back to her homeroom class. While walking back to my classroom, I said to Father, “I do not need that award….You just allowed me to experience what I talked about this morning and that is the only award I need.” I released receiving the award, smiled and walked back to my classroom. Two minutes later, my principal walked into my room and told me I had been chosen. I was completely shocked. She said that during my interview that they could see my heart. I was so flabbergasted. Father answered my prayers…they had seen Him. I pray that my interactions with everyone in that room will draw them into a closer relationship with Him.
You ask why I might share this story with you….I share it because Father used this to show me how intimately involved He is with my life. He cares about every detail. I doubted why He wanted me in this job for many years, but lately, I have seen why He has me there. I pray He will reveal the truth of why He has you where He does. For many years, everything was bleak and meaningless to me. I had no idea why I was doing what I was doing. I am thankful that He gives me the privilege of allowing Him to live through me at school and in the community.
I love you my sisters!!