What Am I Worth

gold-1369453I can’t seem to get my act together. I know there are people that write every day. I know there are people that sit down and do nothing but write so that they have content for days or weeks. I guess I just don’t think that what I have to say is that important or maybe I feel I am complaining too much if I talk about the trials I am walking through.

Some days I just don’t think that I can keep all the balls in the air and make it look effortless. I was talking to a young mother the other day and I was trying to encourage her that if she and her three children were still alive at the end of the day and there were no missing pieces-winning! I think I was also talking to myself in a way. If I got up, got dressed and at least managed to cross off one thing on my to do list then-winning!

I  put so much pressure on myself to “get it all done”. I think I need to learn to be more gentle with myself and remember that God does not measure my worth by what I got done today; why should I. If I have prayed, if I have asked for His guidance, if I have asked for Him to help those who are hurting in my life, if I have cried out because my body aches all the time, if I have asked why, if I have told Him I don’t understand, if I have asked for help staying in His will, I have done a lot.

The second half of the definition for the word worth is; the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated. I know that too many times I measure my worth by the world’s standards. How wrong is that? The world expects far more than I can ever accomplish in the manner which they want to see. God expects me to sit with Him and obey Him. He will meet me where I am and I am worth so much more to Him than I ever will be to this world, even if I don’t get it all together. Even if I don’t write every day, even if I don’t think anyone cares what I have to say.

“6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God?
7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7 KJV

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Make It Count

memory-4111092_1920I don’t know if it’s a wives tale or not but yesterday it was proven to be true for my mom; it is said that if you take a dementia patient out of their normal patterns the disease shows up in all its glory. Well, it did.


My mom had fallen a few days ago and apparently was still complaining about the pain from the bruises she sustained, so my father took her to the ER on Sunday. The doctors decided to keep her overnight for observation. My illogical resentment reared its ugly head over this development. When I was growing up, I was never allowed to really be sick. I was always told that it wasn’t that bad, or that I needed to stop complaining so much. So, when my dad called to tell us he had taken her to the ER I had flashbacks to all those times, and I was not very nice about it.


My dad had to have a dental procedure and not too subtly asked me to go sit with my mom at the hospital till he could get back there. I got there early and they occupational therapist was helping her to move to the chair instead of sitting in the bed. The therapist was asking all kinds of questions that my mother was answering as if it were 15 years ago and she was not in the world she has been transported to lately. If I tried to correct the answer, I was told that she (my mom) did not want to be called a liar and I was to be seen and not heard (yeah like I hadn’t heard that growing up).


My mom’s attitude wasn’t bad, she was cranky and a bit snappy at times, but overall it wasn’t horrible. Yet, I could see that my dad at 84 and with a fib could no longer take care of him by himself. However, my parents have been stonewalling me at every turn when we discuss any next steps to be taken. As an example, I don’t even know where their paperwork is for the cremation they paid for ahead of time.


The physical therapist showed up and started asking me questions in front of my mom and she was becoming more adjugated, so I asked to speak with the therapist in the hallway. I let her know the situation at home with my parents. I also let her know that they don’t listen to anything I say.

The physician’s assistant then came in and we essentially repeated the same process. She said they would be having a meeting about the patients in a little while and maybe if they spoke to my dad, things would change. I felt horrible going behind his back, but to them I am still very much the child to them. 


When my dad got there, it was like a switch had been flipped in my mom. She became combative and belligerent. She was rude and outright nasty to the people that were trying to help her. I spoke to her much like you do a child that is misbehaving telling her that she was being rude and that was not appropriate. I tried to negotiate her making a choice so that the nastiness would stop, but my dad looked at me and said, “Cool it right now!” I picked up my stuff and I left.


On the way home I realized I still had my mom’s cell phone in my purse, so my husband (who has been my rock in all of this) called my dad to let him know we would get it back to them this evening, since I did not want to speak with him just then. We found out that at least the hospital heard me and refused to release my mother unless my dad signed a paper stating that a home health care nurse would come to the house every day. My dad told my husband that he supposed he needed to apologize (haven’t heard from him yet).


All I can say is that my prayer is that this trial counts…..just make it count.

It’s Been A Long Week

It’s been a long week! I am an alumni of Columbine and it has been 20 years, Saturday April 20th since the shooting occurred on campus. It’s been a week of remembrance, not of mourning, for we remember the lost.

It’s been a long week as my mother slowly evaporates before us and I see and hear my father struggling to deal with the hand he has been dealt.

It’s been a long week as the gentle soul that is my husband lost a good friend. This friend was someone who helped him on his path to a saving relationship with Jesus and he lost his battle here on earth and went home to be with his Savior.

It’s been a long week as my bipolar has gotten a stronger hold on me than usual and trying to quiet my head has been a struggle. It’s like listening to the world around you while a TV on constant static plays in the background.

I have the windows open and I can hear the birds chirping, the dog is softly snoring in the corner and I know it was a long week, but maybe this week will not be so long.


“11 For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV


I Am Struggling

The title says it all……I am struggling. I am struggling to keep my sanity as my mother’s declines, I am struggling to keep my head in the game, I am struggling with the fiery darts that are coming our way since we sent in our applications to teach spoken English in China this summer, I am struggling not to be ugly to others because I am a swirling mess inside and I am struggling to not rail at a loving God for allowing all these things to go on.

I know that my mother’s situation is not going to change other than to get worse, but I know that I can respond differently. This morning I failed miserably with that task. My father is retiring at the end of this month. Something that I never thought would happen, but at almost 84 years old and having worked for 55 years he deserves to retire. I wish it was because he really wanted to and not because he has to. Anyway, he asked if my son would come over to help my mom for the day. I told my mom when I would be dropping him off three times in a phone call yesterday and I told me father again when he called last night. My mother called again this morning asking when I was bringing my son and I was not patient, nor was I particularly kind. I did not respond differently.

My husband and I put in our applications to teach spoken English in China this summer. I went last year and through the changes in my heart and my descriptions my husband worked really hard to be able to take the time off required. Last year fund raising went so well and this year it’s moving inordinately slow. Others who were with us last year will not be, one family has had a significant emergency which may prevent them from going and others from the outside have been questioning my decision.

I am admittedly not handling the swirling emotions that are vying for time in my head. I am so tempted to push Jesus off the throne of my heart and sit there myself because “I can do a much better job.” I am struggling to find my place and purpose in a time and space that feels so foreign and uncomfortable, and I so want to throw my hands up in the air and give up. Not so I can lay it down at the foot of the cross….just give up. I know I could easily sit in a corner and do nothing while the world passes me by; ok maybe not but it feels like it. <shoulder shrug> I am struggling.

Where Are You Going?

I haven’t been able to write in a long time. I thought that when I got back from teaching English as a Second Language in China that the writing would come easy; it didn’t. It took me awhile to settle into life again after that experience. I don’t think I even wanted to because life has thrown a curve ball as it is want to do at times.

My mother has dementia. At first it wasn’t too bad, she would make me repeat things several times that I had told her or remind her constantly of dates and times of things. Then at Easter it became apparent that it was progressing. Details about family stories were twisted in her mind and she would say to my father, “Isn’t that right?” to clarify her position. My dad would not verbalize and agreement, but by not disagreeing he is, at least to me, avoiding the issue.

I am an only child and most of the rest of our family is either gone or feels no need to interact. Not having that interactions are not what makes this a lonely experience, it’s trying to help my parents when they balk at anything that has to do with what comes next.

There are days that are harder than others because they are a glimpse into the future without my parents. My childhood was not all rosy, but it wasn’t horrible by any means so this new road we are traveling is one of the most difficult I have been on.

I am watching a woman vanish before my eyes, who raised me primarily on her own for the first 5 years of my life without being able to drive. My mom also had 4 heart attacks before I was 16 years old, so many of these years she was raising me from a hospital bed in the living room.  She is leaving us in increments. Sometimes I think this is crueler than if she were taken home.

I am learning the hard way to dig deep and find patience I never knew existed inside of me. Our pastor jokingly tells us that if we ask God for patience that He will allow a trial to teach you patience.  This is one trila I would have been very happy if He had stopped.

So be patient with me because there are days that are much harder than others and I am not sure why I snip and snarl at the ones I love. But there are days that God is my refuge and strength and a very present help in my troubles.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

quotes-933816_1920I haven’t had any time to sit down and write at all really, as evidenced by this blog. Life seems to be swirling at an unimaginable pace and I am having a hard time keeping up.

My mother is disappearing at a rapid pace. The dementia is evident most days. She is always looking for confirmation from my father when telling a story or relating information. She also asks the same questions many times even in one conversation. It’s hard to watch and difficult to not lose my patience.

My father went in for his third cardio version. I DO NOT like his cardiologist, but he does and refuses to listen to any of our concerns about the treatment he is receiving.  This particular doctor does not like women much, so when my husband asked a question, she began speaking solely to him forgetting that my mother and I were in the room. She also discussed my father’s condition in a waiting room with others present (a clear violation of HIPPA) and then proceeded to tell us she missed the window to see my father’s heart back in sinus rhythm after his last cardio version. Really lady? It was 6 months ago, how big of a window do you need?

My sons are facing challenges in the adult world that I as a mother would like to make go away, but they are grown and I can’t. We always thought that the hardest challenges came while they were in school with their learning difference, but I think this season is much more difficult.

Then there is my mission trip to China on the horizon. I feel totally ill equipped to do what I am being called to do. Wrapping my head and my focus around what is needed to reflect Jesus in my words and deeds and still be able to help teach spoken English at camp is a daunting task to me. Praise God for friends and family that are helping, but I really need the help of the Holy Spirit and divine intervention to get me through.

Isaiah 41:10 
“‘Do not fear, for I am with you;
Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you, surely I will help you,
Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’”

Lost Innocence

Columbine1.jpgNineteen years ago today I was 2,000 physical miles away and what I thought was a lifetime from my graduation in 1984. I was raising two little boys who weren’t quite 4 yet and trying to navigate married with a hefty dose of motherhood. Cell phones were not the huge thing that they are now, but my oh so elegant flip phone rang and my mom was on the other end. I was a bit panicked hearing her voice because we usually only used cell phones for emergencies. She asked me where I was and I said I had been shopping for clothes for the boys as they were growing so fast. She told me to turn on the radio because a shooting had happened at Columbine. That was the day that 13 souls were lost and as an alumni I lost a piece of my innocence.

Yes, I went to Columbine. I graduated in 1984 almost 15 years before two young men went on a rampage and killed 13 people, wounded 20 others and eventually killed themselves. I had only lived in Colorado for 5 years and moved back to Pennsylvania, where I was originally from, two years after graduating. My high school years had a huge impact on my life and I treasured my time at Columbine. In the time it took for those two young men to slaughter those 13, a piece of what I had thought was a safe and comforting place had been taken and as I said my naiveté had been stripped away.

It’s still hard when people talk about what high school they graduated from and they turn to you and you say, “Columbine” and the gasps and the, “THAT Columbine?” is what comes next. Yes, THAT Columbine. The place is not evil. The principle Mr. Frank DeAngelis, the community and the alumni worked diligently to help remove the stain that colored responses when the name was mentioned. April 20th became a day of service, where we were steadfast in stretching out our hands to those who needed to heal and it helped us all in the process.

However, today I am angry. I, like the many other alumni, are angered at the March for Lives movement that have co-opted a day when the Columbine community comes together to heal just a little bit more, for their political and fame garnering agenda.  Parkland Florida students who admittedly were bullies themselves are protesting on the anniversary of Columbine. Let’s be honest it has NOTHING to do with healing or change and everything to do with a political agenda and what will get them the most publicity.

I have to work not to let my anger become vengeful and move from righteous indignation. Go march on Washington DC where any change you want to affect will have to come from, check your true motivations and take a hard look at your heart if you really want things to be different, but don’t take away the modicum of peace that a community has worked for to further your agenda.

 

His Timing

pocket-watch-1637396_1920I am not very good about waiting on God’s timing. I tend towards feeling like it needs to be my timing not His. This is proving to be especially difficult raising support for my mission trip to China.

I prayed hard about this one. The first time I went on a mission trip with my son was 4 years ago and it was to Swaziland. I had felt the pull for missions back then, but told God that I didn’t want to go to Africa. Yeah you guessed it, I went to a little country in Africa. It was an experience I will never forget, but I really needed to rely on God and His timing as we had to raise enough support for TWO people that time.

I felt a call again to the short term mission field last year and my husband and I thought it was for us to go to Swaziland together, but God shut that door pretty definitively early on in the process. The trip to China kept coming up even after the Swaziland door was shut, but in typical fashion for me I ignored it. Then one day at our church the forms to start the process for China were on a table with people answering questions there. My husband picked up a set of forms for himself, so being the dutiful wife that I am, I grabbed a set too. My husband found out that missions would be incredibly difficult for him to get time off for, but he was willing to keep trying, just China this year would not be his trip. I don’t know why really, but I filled out the forms. Then I said to my husband I was going to have to come up with $100 to send it all in. He looked at me with this funny look on his face and said “I still have a $100 from the money your parents gave us for Christmas. I haven’t been able to spend it, now I know why!” So the forms got sent in. I believed that I wasn’t going to be accepted to go on the trip and I was ok with that. Low and behold I got an email shortly after that if I could raise the funds I was going to China to teach English to the Chinese students in their summer camp.

I will be partnering with Bridging the World,  so they set up me support page and I had to move out of my comfort zone and send out support letters. That is one of the worst parts for me (aside from waiting on His timing). I am an introvert at heart who has been forced to be an extrovert. I sent out a bunch of letters and I waited. I would check my page periodically, but not much happening other than the first donation from my other son to help me start off. Then one morning I was praying and I said, “God if I am not supposed to go, can you please shut the door now, because I am really discouraged.” I went down and checked my page and friends of ours had given a substantial amount of money. I was floored! It was almost as if I had said, “Can you do it, God?” and He said, “Watch this!”

I am now down to the wire. I have 75% of my support raised, but I need another $800 before the end of May. There are only about 15 1/2 more weeks before we leave for China. I know that if I am to go the money will come in, but waiting on His timing is not my strong suit as I have said so me catching myself worrying is not unusual lately. My husband has always said, “Worry is a poor excuse for prayer.” I think I am going to be praying A LOT!

Is It All About Me?

ball-and-chain-2624325_1920So many things have been conspiring to keep me from the things that I know I should do and the things that I want to do. Wind storms and snow storms and just life in general in our family. However, there has been one thing that keeps coming up for me, rattling around in my brain and just being a general nuisance.

My husband, not too long ago, said that he felt a calling to be a pastor, that he had been studying as if that was the path he was to take. My first thought was, “No way!” I don’t feel that I am pastor’s wife material. I am not soft-spoken, and I usually plow through things like a bull in a china shop, I am very blunt and I don’t suffer fools gladly. Plus if you hurt my husband I will come at you like a hurricane.

I am still resistant. My husband and I will be married 25 years in May. We have raised two children with special needs and for at least 8 years of our marriage my husband was an alcoholic. He has been sober for 10 years, Praise God, but for most of that 10 years we have worked to repair what the devil took from us. I just really got my husband back in the last three years or so, and I don’t want to give him up. We can now leave our children for a short time and know that the house will still be standing and the dog will still be alive. We have intense discussions about scripture that I never anticipated would be our traveling conversations. We can even be in the same room doing different things and be content to be in each other’s presence. I don’t want to give that up, and right now I can’t see what I might gain if I do give it up.

But then the guilt washes over me. Who am I to stifle his calling? I am reminded of Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this—not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.” Am I a stumbling block? I know I am an obstacle. That is when I become conflicted. Is it truly that I don’t feel the same calling on our lives, or is it all about me?

The conflict becomes worse when I consider the fact that he has been completely supportive of the mission trips I have made and am working towards. He has never stepped in my way unless he knew that it would cause harm to me in any way. Then I reason that these are short-term mission trips, not the rest of our lives. The verses that keep popping into my head, but still have not sunk in are Philippians 2:3-5, ” 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, ” yeah I have a lot of work to do and some serious self-examination. Wish me luck and pray for me.

 

I Am Called Where?

china letter headingIt never occurred to me that the Lord would have me on this path ever again, yet here I am, and I want to share with you the plans that He has for me this summer.

I am going to be participating in a short-term mission trip to China to teach English to Chinese students! The trip is planned for July 26th to August 12th, and to be able to participate I will have to raise $2900. This money will cover all my costs which include air transportation to and from China and all costs for room, board, travel and fees while in China.

This adventure will provide me, Lord willing, with opportunities to share my faith and make friends with the Chinese students so that they will see the Love of Christ through me. We will be teaching each morning and then participating in various activities in the afternoon and evening, which I pray, will open doors and that I, through the strength of the Holy Spirit, will walk boldly through.

Just as this will be a team effort in China, it will also be a team effort here, back home. Myself and the team will most assuredly need prayer as we prepare to travel to China and while we are there. Prayer for opportunities, both spoken and unspoken to share our faith, that we hide ourselves behind the cross and that the Chinese students see Him and not us, that connections will be made to further His cause and that everyone stays healthy and safe. In addition, I will need financial support to walk this path that God has placed me on. You can mail a check made out to my church, Calvary Chapel Chester Springs (217 Dowlin Forge Rd, Exton, PA 19341) with my name, “Elaine Babcock” and “China Missions Trip” in the memo line. There is also an online option at Bridging the World via Paypal. Just look for my name on the left-hand side of the page.

I am so excited to see what the Lord has in store for me and the whole team this summer! In the book of Romans 8:28 it is said, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Thank you for helping me fulfill His purpose as I embark on this journey. I will keep you updated on the status of the trip and how the Lord uses this in my life. God Bless!

Yours in Christ,
Elaine Babcock