Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hurt and Happiness

Happy anniversary to my Mom and Dad who are both in Heaven now. After 9-11, I remember my Mom saying that she could never celebrate her anniversary again. I just thought, “how sad.” I knew her words were a result of deep hurt but we all hurt. Our entire nation was hurting. In light of 9-11, I will continue to pray for healing in the families of lost loved ones on that tragic day but I will not dwell in the sadness of the event. Do you believe God intends for us to dwell in sadness and not grow as a result of our experiences? Of course, He does not. There are lessons to be learned in life and there is growth as a result of every experience in our path.

Father, I ask that You bless and keep those who are hurting today. May You heal them as only You can do. May You bring them through their storm and into a clearer tomorrow. May You direct their eyes and thoughts to Jesus and the cross. Amen.

One of my former churches, First Baptist Church of Brazoria, Texas, celebrated their 75th Anniversary last month. I am sure there were so many memories to reflect upon. I know, because it was my church family at one time and it was also one of the many places God has used me. Shortly after I became a member on October 23, 1983, I got to meet some very sweet souls who were extraordinary to know. They were all smiles, out-going and loving and they all had one thing in common, they were mentally-challenged individuals. First I noticed J. Ray and Sandra attending and then Vickie and sometimes Mikel and Charles. I remember asking someone where they attended Sunday School. I was told that they did not go most of the time and when they did, they went to various classes; but sometimes they were simply sat down to busy themselves. The explanation I got was that they required one-on-one attention in the classroom to prevent disruption of the lesson. My heart was stirred. I knew that God had placed a burden on my heart and that He had also prepared me with a compelling awareness and an extra dose of patience where these were concerned, as well as a passion and love beyond measure. I also realized He was laying the vision before me for a Special Ed Sunday School class.

Why me? I know and understand now that our Father allows us to experience certain things in our lives because He is preparing us for His Kingdom work...yes, so we may minister to others in similar situations on His behalf…so that we are knowledgeable in His concerns…so that we may see others through His eyes and share His never-ending capacity to forgive and love them…so we are ready to serve.

"God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." ~II Corinthians 1:4

How did He prepare me? Prior to attending FBC Brazoria, my two sons, Nash and Neal, were raised alongside a best friend’s children, Hunter and Tasha, at La Belle Baptist Church. My friend, Pam, and I were expecting within eight months of each other…her first and my second child. When Pam gave birth to her son, Hunter, he was born with Down syndrome. I had shared all the joys and expectations throughout pregnancy with my dear friend and now I shared her first reactions of such extreme hurt and devastation. I witnessed her fight against depression and her agonizing questions to God. My friend was later told by her doctor that she would never be able to have what the world deems a "normal" child, so she and her husband also added a precious daughter, Tasha, a beautiful young girl who was adopted. These two children were like my own and I shared many of the trials my best friend encountered. I also shared, firsthand, in the outpouring of God's richest blessings on my friend…just in the gift of knowing and loving her dear children.

I never suspected at the time, that God was using my experiences with Pam’s initial pain and then her extreme joy, to grow me for His work. Yes, through the complexities of hurt and happiness, my Father was preparing me for a task later in life. In God’s own time, He placed me at such a place and showed me where He wanted me to serve Him…at FBC Brazoria. I approached the parents or closest family members first, where possible, and explained the vision of a Special Ed Sunday School class which God had laid on my heart. Sandra was so excited to attend her own class but one of the mothers, Janie, was hesitant and protective of her son, J. Ray, just as I had anticipated...so I invited her to accompany her son to the class until she felt comfortable leaving him. Once Janie felt comfortable, I then asked if she would like to be my helper...then my substitute. That was the beginning of a very close and meaningful relationship between Janie and me. Our class grew into a much larger class through the years. When I left FBC Brazoria, Janie became the teacher and was right where God had prepared her to be. I was merely a stepping stone in God’s pathway for Janie…just as Pam and Hunter were stepping stones for me and many others whose lives they have touched. I am so thankful and humbly honored to have served our Most High God in the capacity of Special Ed Sunday School Teacher.

J. Ray is a fine, healthy young man in Heaven now and his precious mom, Janie, still teaches the Special Ed Sunday School Class at FBC Brazoria. Pam, Janie and many others have been so richly blessed by God…to be chosen to love and care for a special-needs child. God simply allowed me to share their blessings. Thank You for the blessings, Father! And thank you, Hunter, for being the first to teach me God’s compassion. Now I simply stay in touch with Pam and Janie, but we will always share a very precious bond as close friends and dear sisters in Christ. We will also share a home in Heaven, where one day we will see J. Ray again, smiling his big smile and running into the arms of his sweet mom while telling her how much he loves her! Praise God! What a glorious day that will be! And Hunter…well he turned 37 yesterday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HUNTER!!! Knowing and loving you…my cup runneth over!!!

We do not have to know and understand ahead of time what God’s plan is, we just need to walk closely with Him daily, through the hurt and happiness, while having a willing and responsive heart. Through it all, simply keep our eyes and focus on Him and He will prepare us and show us His way in due time.

Captured in His reflection,

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