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.
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.
I 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.’”
Nineteen 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.
I 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!
So 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.
It 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!
Lately I find myself bristling almost constantly, there is so much misinformation floating out there and my critical spirit is having a field day.
For instance the misinformation that the media puts out there that semi automatic guns need to be banned and that no one needs to have that kind of gun. Well here is the problem, almost every gun out there, pistol or rifle is semi automatic if it loads the bullet into the chamber for you. It still takes a trigger pull to expel the bullet, not like the images that the media tries to portray that has the average Joe with little firearm knowledge thinking that people have machine guns in their possession.
Another piece of misinformation that is floating out there that raises red flags for me, is that essential oils are toxic to animals. The reality is that we use air fresheners and oils that have alcohol and other things in our homes without a thought and yet essential oils becomes the boogie man. Responsible humans don’t take medication with knowing the dosage of the medication and know that if they use too much it is toxic to their system. That is why there are dilution ratios on essential oils for people, children, babies and pets.
I have a critical spirit and I know I need to keep a tight reign on my thoughts and opinions. However, it has served me well when I come across something that does not sound right or sends up a red flag to my conscience, I then set out to prove the idea wrong. Not with opinion pieces or media claptrap, but with real research. Do I like when my original thought is proven wrong? Heck no, that just feels icky and I try not to have that happen often (smile).
This brings me to the misinformation out there about the Bible. The one thing that really makes my skin crawl other than the name it claim it, prosperity gospel and baptismal regeneration is the idea that the Old Testament is not relevant and you need to focus only on the New Testament (ok there are a lot of philosophies that bother me…so sue me). How can you possibly understand the New Testament without the Old? The NT quotes the OT on a pretty consistent basis. In fact Jesus Himself does it when he confronts the Pharisees and Sadducees because the OT text is what they are supposed to be knowledgeable about. The OT contains The Law and explains the reasons for The Law. It opens the door to understanding how some can draw conclusions about eating certain foods, obeying certain church dogma, the lineage of Jesus, how we can still totally mess it all up and God still loves us like Abraham and David and even Lot. It’s hard to ignore and even harder to explain why someone would want to.
We are called to be disciples of The Word as Jesus tells us in Mark 16:15, “And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” But how can we do that if we have the wrong information? Don’t we just become a noisy gong or clanging cymbal? The Bible is meant to be a WHOLE book. Not taken in pieces to drive a point home. Not taken out of context to satisfy church dogma, but most certainly used as one instruction manual on how to live our lives and why to live it that way.
I have been a bit distressed this past week or so. I live in Eagles country. No not the flying type, the football type. I admittedly am not a football fan and I refused to even watch one game this year the moment that some players “took a knee”. I don’t know many other people who get to protest or show blatant disrespect while on the clock, but that is a whole other kettle of fish.
My distress this week has been many Christians trying to justify the Super Bowl win simply because first Wentz and then Foles were recorded giving glory to God. Do not misunderstand, I think that is wonderful and even more encouraging is that their coach is giving glory to The Creator, but what is distressing to me is the articles and memes that say that they won simply because there are Christians in their midst.
Quoting verses like Isaiah 40:31, “Yet those who wait for the Lord Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” To mount up like eagles is the measure of the strength the Lord gives us and to run and not grow tired and walk and not grow weary is the purpose of the strength. It has NOTHING to do with the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl!
I am ecstatic that players and coaches are being bold and proclaiming the Lord on television and in interviews. That is as it should be in a world where debauchery and idol worship is encouraged. However, what would have happened if the Eagles had lost? Would there still be memes and articles justifying the loss? Would the quote from Isaiah still be used? I don’t think the noise would be so deafening proclaiming their spiritual life had they lost.
It reminds me a bit of the “name it claim it” churches. If you pray hard enough then you will get “it”. If you don’t get “it” then you didn’t pray hard enough, your faith isn’t strong enough or someone wasn’t in agreement with your prayers. So would the Eagles not have been Christian enough if they had lost?
As Christians we have a responsibility to not pass along the wrong kind of message. It is awesome that Wentz became a positive influence in the locker room and on the field and that Foles and the Quarterback coach could proclaim the name of Jesus boldly and give glory to God on National television and in interviews. But let’s not use Isaiah as proof that they were destined to win, because they could have just as easily have lost, and yet God would’ve still used it for His glory.
My uncle died two days ago. He was my father’s brother and only 4 month older than my mom. That really isn’t what has me so sad, I know it should and my heart breaks for my dad because now he is the only one left.
I guess I am really lying when I say he is the only one left. There is extended family and my cousins are still living, but we don’t have contact with them. Part of it stems from me letting my mouth run away with me. I said something that I shouldn’t have to my cousins. It’s not a moment I am proud of and I did sincerely apologize, but the damage was done and apparently grudges are a part of life for this side of the family. That should be quite clear since my mouth got me in trouble mainly because my father’s family essentially cut him off once he decided not to return to Texas and then really cut him off once he married my mom. My grandmother’s side of the family were a bit mean and would like to pretend that we don’t exist. I made it known that fact was noticed and got called a few choice names and was kicked off the family Facebook page.
There were things that my grandmother and my uncle did to my parents and I that were uncalled for, rude and even tried to cheat us, but I point out bias and I am the bad person (insert shrug of the shoulders here). I have forgiven them, but it makes me wonder how hardened their hearts are/were to have behaved that way. When my second oldest cousin called to tell my dad that his brother had passed away she couldn’t even remember my mom’s name when my mom answered the phone. Does that tell you anything?
My dad and I just by being his daughter were always the bad seeds and I had the additional black mark of being raised Catholic and a Yankee. It hurt and I know that it hurt my dad more than he ever admitted. Yet there have been shot gun weddings, divorces and children who have been MIA for one reason or another and in our family no matter the trial we manage to hold it together, and we are the ones who are shunned.
The lesson in all of this has been even if you have forgiven those who hurt you it doesn’t always mean they are repentant for their misdeeds and even if you apologize for your own stupidity it doesn’t stop the other party from holding a grudge to the grave.
“You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”–Leviticus 19:17-18
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”–Ephesians 4:32