Monday, June 30, 2008

The Stars Are His Handy Work

"Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked
off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure,
and weighed the mountains in scales and hills in a balance?"
Isaiah 40:12 (ESV)

This verse could not have come at a better time.

Just when things seem impossible, and we are growing weary, God always seems to give me a diamond in the rough. This is my diamond.

We at Fuel are in a season of stretching and growing and pruning and shaping. You guessed it: We did not sign up for a day at the spa, it appears, but rather, the gym. (Did I mention I'm not fond of gyms?)

I love to close my eyes and actually TRY to picture the IMPOSSIBILITY of what Isaiah is saying here: that someone can scoop up all the water on this planet and hold it in the depths of his hands, and that it would only be enough to whet his appetite for a drink. And someone can rake up all the dust and the dirt and the gravel and the clay of this earth, and it would only be enough to fill his measuring cup. And someone has a scale much like an old grocery store's scales that can hold not just produce, but mountains.

That someone is our God! And HE IS MIGHTY! I love to serve a God this big. As I read this verse, my musical mind immediately began dancing to a song I sang as a child:

"My God is so big, so strong and so mighty!
There's nothing my God cannot do! (for you!)
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty!
There's nothing my God cannot do! (for you!)

The mountains are His, the valleys are His.
The stars are His handy work, too!
My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty!
There's nothing my God cannot do! (for you!)"

My prayer is that you will rest today in knowing that our God is SO BIG, SO STRONG, and SO MIGHTY. And whatever it is that seems impossible to you right now, that you will see His strength and capability in your weakness and incapability.


Monday, June 23, 2008

The Beauty of the Withered Hand

Here's the thing: I'm going to be transparent here because I'm hoping it may speak to someone who may presently be dealing with a similar type of inner battle.

I teach 3 and 4 year olds at our church. I truly love having this great privilege. I used to work with 3, 4, and 5 year olds as a teenager in VBS and some in Sunday School at the church I grew up in. These children are not ashamed or afraid to say just about anything. I will never forget one year at VBS, I was playing “kitchen” with a little girl, and I noticed her curious little eyes periodically wandering toward my hand (I have a very large scar covering my entire right hand because of slight birth complications.) Being forever self conscious about it, I made a point to use only my left hand while playing with her, and I think I even was trying to sit on my right hand! She did not take the hint. She finally fixed her sparkly eyes on my own and asked something like: “What's wrong with your hand?”

What's wrong with your hand?

This was always the question I got. It did more to me than just annoy me; it chiseled away at my self importance, my self worth. But only because I let it.

Instead of realizing that this piercing question was birthed from a tiny 4 year old, I let myself sink into offense. I think I told her I was born that way. That generally is my cop out when I don't feel like exposing my whole life story (which happens to be a great one!) If I were to say, “I had surgery when I was a baby,” then that would only lead to another question, which would lead to another, and another.

Fast forward about 10 years. Here I am teaching them again. But I've learned something.

Children this age are curious, inquisitive, easily amazed, trying to figure this whole thing out, and best of all—they are formative. Almost anything I say to them, they believe, wide eyed and full of awe. They ask those “hard” questions that no one else asks, but secretly wants to know.

What's wrong with your hand?

Why do you walk like that?

Did you know that you say you'll do something, but you never do it?

Why do you say “you know” in every sentence?

Did you know you're being selfish?

Jump back to the little girl's first question for a moment. I notice now as I replay this scenario in my mind, that the simple context of the question is HUGE.

What's wrong with your hand?

She was taking what her 4 years of wisdom concerning what people “should” look like told her, and comparing it with what she presently saw: something very different—something wrong. This did not make it anything but a hand, did it? Of course not. It just looked different. To her, it was not “perfect.” To me, it is not “perfect.” But simply put, it is still a hand. And it is my hand, nonetheless. It is my hand that happens to work quite well, I might add.

It has proven quite convenient with many activities I've engaged in throughout my life thus far: perfectly sinking a basketball through the net, clutching a bat and swinging it to whack that softball toward the outfield, moving its fingers to cover the holes on a clarinet and make some pretty good music (if I do say so myself), twirling a flag and sending it rocketing into the air only to be caught by that same hand. I could go on from writing to holding my get the point.

I treasure my hand simply because it is my hand. I don't need any other reason.

Now, take what I've just said and try to view it in respect to the body of Christ. There's the head, the neck, the shoulders, the arms, the HANDS, etc. These are all parts that work together to perform one purpose, whatever it may be.

Having one of these parts with a scar is better than not having it at all, right? I'd say so. For the first time, I am seeing the dilemma of the [ugly] hand as something beautiful. It is beautiful because:

1.God doesn't amputate. He mends and physically restores.
2.God sees fit to bring the low up high, and even the high down low.
3.We “imperfect” people can now be a part of something “perfect.”

I love to look through the Bible and see these imperfect people God chose to use to bring about His Will. Jesus' genealogy is bursting at the seams with losers, with the lame. These people give me hope. Just as my hand is a little less than perfect, so am I a LOT less than perfect. But that doesn't mean I must be cut off and thrown in the trash!

I can still use my hand.

God can still use me.

God can still use you.

Just because one part of the body doesn't look like we think it should look, doesn't mean it is not fulfilling its purpose. I've spent too much time asking, "What's wrong with _____" and not enough time asking, "How can I bring it to its greatest potential?"


<>< Cara

Friday, June 20, 2008

For My Super Husband

This is a little late for Father's Day, but I wanted to share how thankful I am for my amazing husband, who also happens to be the BEST daddy in the world!

*He gets up early and hopes one or both of the kids wakes up so he can see them before he goes to work.

*When he could be resting and doing something just for himself at lunch time, he calls me instead to see how my day is going and how the kids are.

*Even though he is tired from his total hour--plus commute to work every day on top of his actual work day, he walks in the door with a smile and enough energy for wrestling his rambunctious little boy.

*If dinner is not ready, much less decided upon, when he arrives home, he never complains. He just says, "It's okay. We'll just have something quick."

*Even though he knows he has to wake up early and leave, where I get to stay home the next day, he still feeds Kate her night cap bottle before heading to bed.

Happy (LATE) Father's Day, Matt! I love you so much, and I am truly blessed to be your wife!
I love watching you with our children. Thank you for all you do for our family.



Love, Cara

A Photo Tribute to Kate...

I hope you enjoy these photos of our Kate. We call her Kate-a-roo, and you can probably see why: she is so bouncy!
P.S. I'm not sure why, but this is cutting off part of the right side of the pics.













<>< Cara

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Keagan’s First E.R. Visit

I write today with a heart of thanksgiving for how God protected my son. Sunday night Matt and I took the kids out bike riding. The weather was nice with a cool breeze, and it just seemed perfect. We were on our street, just a few hundred feet down from our house. We were actually headed back home, just talking and enjoying the time. Suddenly (and I do mean SUDDENLY), Matt's bike just started wobbling this way and that, and in an instant, they crashed. The bike shoved Matt to the left, and Keagan (being strapped in the infant seat on the bike) went to the right. I cannot erase the image of his head meeting the pavement from my mind. Everything slowed down at that moment. I nearly forgot I had Kate on the back of my own bike; Matt had to remind me of this so I didn't jump off and run over to them. All I could do immediately was scream and yell at someone...who happened to be Matt. I wasn't very kind, which I regret. Luckily, he loves me and forgives me easily.

Matt frantically got Keagan out of the seat and stood him up on the street. Keagan immediately began vomitting, and of course that scared me to death! I grabbed Kate out of her seat, and we ran up to the house, leaving the bikes in the road of course. I had forgotten my wallet in my bike pouch, and only remembered it right before we left, so I had to run back to get it. I was SO tired on that run. My mind would not function properly, either, in those moments. I could not get my brain to comprehend how to fasten Kate's car seat belt. Matt kept having to tell me to breathe and that he needed me. All I could do was wail (very loudly) and shallowly breathe. At that moment, I truly didn't know if Keagan would be okay or not. He was really out of it, and his eyes looked weird to me. He kept trying to slip off into sleep, so the entire drive to the hospital, I kept shaking his little legs and talking to him to keep him alert.

We were there no more than 2 or 3 minutes when some of our friends showed up to help us out. They took care of Kate, which was an enormous help. I could barely talk to the admit lady because I still had not fully caught my breath. She was very patient with us, though. They got us in very quickly, I suppose because it was a head trauma, which tends to be more cause for concern than some injuries. Before I knew it, they were already taking him back for a CT scan. I still cannot believe what a good boy he was through the whole thing. He cooperated so well in the scan. The thing that made him the most angry was the neck brace that he had to wear. He doesn't like to be restrained in any way. His Papaw got there and helped calm him down and make him laugh, though. Our good friend Matt is a nurse at the hospital, so his presence helped our case out tremendously. They looked over the CT scan and thought it looked pretty good. They couldn't send it off to the professional because of some power or technical difficulty, so we actually got to leave fairly quickly. We just had to monitor him for a while.

When we got home, we let him eat grape Popsicles. He watched a Veggietale and then climbed in his bed. He was sheerly exhausted. And so were we.

We are just so thankful that he is okay. It wasn't looking good at first, but the timing of when our friends were called and started praying and the rate of his improvement shows how powerful prayer is. So, thank you to everyone who prayed for us and those who came and helped us out.

Keagan is much better now. He was tired and sore on Monday, but now is fully back to being Keagan, if you know what I mean!