Maxey Memory #8 -When You Have a Son Who Will Try Anything!

Those of you who know my oldest son Andrew will not be surprised by this at all.  He lives his life on the edge of adventure.  He looks for opportunities to try unusual experiences and he makes sure as many family members as possible are participants.

This past week was no exception. Andrew found a place online to purchase a liquid nitrogen flask. He had it shipped from overseas and then found a place locally that would fill it.  He proceeded to gather all of us in the dining room for an experience we won’t forget.He poured the liquid nitrogen into a Styrofoam cooler and the fun began.  We had prepared a variety of food items to freeze, including marshmallows, gummy bears, Oreos,  blueberries, strawberries, and watermelon. He certainly had the kids’ attention!  Then came the best part.ICE CREAM!  If  you make a homemade ice cream recipe and pour it into squeeze bottles and then give them to Andrew and Randy, in a flash you have homemade Dippin’ Dots!  They were a little lumpy, not perfect spheres like the real thing but the kids didn’t seem to care.It was a fun treat and an experience I never expected to have.  Somebody else thought it was pretty sweet too!

I’m Thinking About Rain

My friends up north are tired of rain. They’ve had more than their share lately.  We, in Florida, are desperate for rain. In a place where summer storms come daily, dumping inches of rain in minutes, we can get pretty tired of rain too. But not right now.

Right now we’re experiencing the worst drought some areas have seen since recordkeeping began. Drier than it’s been for over a hundred years.  Most of the state is under an extreme fire danger warning with wildfires breaking out every day.

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you know  about the struggles we’ve been experiencing over the past few months.  When I stop and think about all the different challenges we’re dealing with all at the same time I can’t believe we’re still standing. But we are.

I thought about giving this a different title. Something like,” what do termites, migraines, cirrhosis, and broken A/C units have in common?”  The answer would be –what the Maxeys are up against.

In the past two months we’ve had to deal with a son needing an MRI for increased migraines, termites in our Iowa house, and my father being evaluated for heart surgery at 82. We also had our two-year-old granddaughter in the ER for a cut on her hand requiring about 8 stitches, and we had an encounter with bedbugs that sent us to the laundromat with 12 trash bags of clothing and bedding to wash. And of course, Randy’s diagnosis of cirrhosis, which was enough all by itself.  All of our boys still need testing for the 3 genetic disorders that they believe are playing a role in Randy’s illness.

Some of those things are overwhelming all by themselves and taken together it feels like a raging storm with no end.  There are times in life when we want to wave the white flag of surrender and say we’ve had enough. We didn’t sign up for this.

So what does that have to do with rain, you ask?  I think it is about perspective.  Sometimes in the rainy season in Florida we get rain every day. And if a hurricane comes through we can get 15 inches in just a day or two.  Too much all at once is as bad as not enough. Both bring problems but they are quite different.

A few days ago I was talking to a friend about the challenges we were working through.  We talked about storms and how it wouldn’t rain forever. We joked about building an ark.

But then I listened to a song that talked about the story of Elijah praying for rain. Listen here. The tiny cloud started to form and they knew it would rain. The rain was an answer to prayer, not the beginning of a devastating flood.  It’s all in how you look at rain.

In the rainy season, we don’t always welcome the rain but in the drought we are desperate for it.  The water is the same, it’s our perspective that’s changed.

In our lives lately, we have seen all these challenges as the storms that never end.  The deluge of rain that we fear will drown us. But what if we look past the obvious and focus our eyes on the rain that brings good things?  It’s the same water.  The same challenges that threaten to overwhelm us also have the potential to cause growth and fruit.

Instead of building an ark, or running for the umbrella, maybe we should go outside and stand in the rain with outstretched arms. Allowing it to soak us because the One who made us brings the rain.

You heavens above, rain down my righteousness; let the clouds shower it down. Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness flourish with it; I, the LORD, have created it. – Isaiah 45:8 (NIV)

From the west, people will fear the name of the LORD, and from the rising of the sun, they will revere his glory. For he will come like a pent-up flood that the breath of the LORD drives along – Isaiah 59:19 (NIV)

Why a Christ Follower Should Heed a High Surf Warning

If you live near the water, as I do, weather advisories like this one  are not uncommon. As I read through this information I was struck by how many parallels with life we can find in these simple words.

HIGH SURF ADVISORY – A HIGH SURF ADVISORY MEANS THAT HIGH SURF WILL AFFECT BEACHES IN THE ADVISORY AREA…PRODUCING LOCALIZED BEACH EROSION AND
DANGEROUS SWIMMING CONDITIONS. SWIM NEAR A LIFEGUARD. IF CAUGHT IN A RIP CURRENT, RELAX AND FLOAT. DON`T SWIM AGAINST THE CURRENT. IF ABLE, SWIM IN A DIRECTION FOLLOWING THE SHORELINE. IF UNABLE TO ESCAPE, FACE THE SHORE AND CALL OR WAVE FOR HELP.”

The first thing I saw was how high surf affects the beach.  Beach erosion happens gradually but during a storm or high surf it can happen much more quickly. Have you even stood with your toes in the sand and had the water wash over them? The sand under your feet quickly erodes away and you sink further and further into the sand with each wave.  Such a good picture of a life that is not build on a firm foundation.

Next we see that swimming is dangerous. Riptides are a  hidden danger. The pull of the current is not visible from the shore. The energy produced under these conditions can pull even the strongest swimmer into a life threatening situation.  The advisory recommends swimming close to a lifeguard.  In life, who is our lifeguard?  Jesus, who  promises to keep us safe in every circumstance.

And what should we do if we get caught in a riptide?  The advisory says we should relax and float, not try to swim against it. In life, we face the threat of undercurrents  of sin and temptation every day. Sometimes we heed the warnings and stay clear but other times we think we are strong enough that we won’t be in any danger we can’t get out of on our own. And when we find ourselves in deep water with no strength to get back to shore we look to the Lifeguard. We rest in His strength and float knowing He will rescue us.  We face the shore and call for help.

It all reminds me of an old hymn that sums it up nicely.

My Hope Is Built

My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. 

Refrain:
On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand. 

When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
(Refrain) 

His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.
(Refrain) 

Jesus tells us clearly that our lives need  stability that only He can provide.

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” – Matthew 7:24-27 (ESV)

Are You Carrying More Than You Are Meant To?

We’ve had three weeks to get used to this new lifestyle.  When Randy first got home from the hospital I suddenly had so many new responsibilities.  I felt overwhelmed with all the details that I needed to keep track of.  The weight of responsibility was so heavy and it was someone else’s life I was responsible for so I had to get it right. I was physically exhausted  from the stress of the weeks in the hospital but more challenging was the mental fatigue.  I felt like I already had more on my plate than I could manage and I still had so much to learn.

I’ve spent many hours reading cookbooks and going to health food stores reading nutrition labels to find foods Randy can eat on a low carb, low sodium, low vitamin K diet. And how do you begin to make foods that he can eat and still meet the expectations of the rest of the household?  I found myself becoming stuck.  Too much to think about. No one to help me adjust to all of it.

I couldn’t expect Randy to help me. It wasn’t supposed to be about me. This was about helping HIM regain his strength and learn to live with all the new rules. It was so important to get this right.  So much heaviness threatened to crush me.

But then something happened to remind me that God is never far from those who are struggling.  A friend who has been following our story wrote that she had been prompted to pray for Randy in the middle of the night and she shared a passage of scripture that was just what I needed.

“I relieved his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from carrying the basket. You called out in distress, and I rescued you; I answered you from the thundercloud.” – Psalm 81:6-7 (HCSB)

I don’t have to carry this by myself! God has promised to take the weight off my shoulders. A weight He didn’t design me to carry in the first place. I can place all my cares into the basket and then hold that basket out to the Lord. He will take it from me and I can rest.

And when I am able to rest, I can also begin to focus on the good things that are happening.   As I see Randy regaining his strength, I am thankful. When I see him returning to his woodworking, I am overjoyed. When we find a place we can go on date night that has foods he can eat, I am grateful!

What challenges are you facing today?  Perhaps you can mentally place them all into the basket and watch the Lord lovingly take the basket out of your hands. He will be glad to do it!

Can We Be Done Now?

I’m sure you’ve noticed that nothing ever happens in a vacuum.  When something big happens in our lives we can’t just focus on that one thing. There are still a zillion other things to attend to.

This week we were reminded of the saying, “when it rains, it pours.”  You have a picture of that already, don’t you?  You can immediately think of a time when it seemed so many things were going wrong at the same time and you wanted to say, “can we be done now?”

I’ve said that to God several times in the past month. And, yes, it’s okay to say that to Him. He can handle our frustration.

So our focus for the past week or two has been to get a handle on the new routine we must keep. Medications schedules, giving shots, and logging information to keep track of blood sugars, blood pressure, and weight. It sort of feels like I’ve become the nurse at the hospital taking vitals at shift change. My mother would be proud that I’ve finally followed in her footsteps and become a nurse.

But even though we are trying hard to focus on these details, we can’t just ignore everything else. While we were in the midst of this life crisis, something else happened.  Tax day.  Yep, we missed it.  And we had bills to pay and other deadlines to  meet for the new business.  None of those things went away just because we were facing this difficult situation with Randy’s health.

And then there had to be just one more thing.

Our son in Iowa called to see how his dad was doing. And, oh-by-the-way…the cats we left in his care when we moved are both in their final days. One can barely move now and the other one is in congestive heart failure. Granted, they are both 14 years old, but did this have to happen NOW?  “And,” said this long distance son, “I just found termites in the house.”  Our house. In Iowa. Termites can be expensive. And did I mention? My husband hasn’t worked in over a month. Translate that to no paycheck.  And, termites can be expensive.

Can we be done now?

This is the time when a person must choose to fight despair. It’s the human response to allow hopelessness to start moving in. But our response as Christ Followers must be a different one.

To be in despair can also be called “downcast,” which means just what it sounds like. To look down, to be depressed and discouraged.

Instead of becoming downcast, the scriptures tell us to look up. God is still watching over every detail. Now is the time to look up and set our eyes on the One who holds it all together.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5) NIV

Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, he calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, not one of them is missing. ( Isaiah40:26) NASB

I Found a Rock

We are slowly getting back to normal. Or perhaps it’s really a new normal. At any rate, today, since Randy isn’t driving yet, I took him to a client’s office. It was his first attempt at getting back to work and his plan was to work 4 hours which left me with a large chunk of time to fill while I waited for him. My plan was to go to a nearby library, one of my favorite places to spend time. But since it was such a beautiful morning, I chose to go to a park on the water for a while first.

I walked toward one of four benches facing the water and as I prepared to sit down I spotted a brightly painted rock on the bench. This was a meaningful find for two reasons.

First, there is a pay-it-forward sort of movement becoming very popular in Florida. It may have started on the Space Coast and has now made it’s way to the Gulf Coast. People paint small rocks and then place them in public places to be found by others. The idea is to brighten someone’s day in just a small way. If you find a rock you can move it to another location or keep it and then replace it with a rock you have painted or found elsewhere. A pretty simple but fun activity. I was excited this morning to find my first rock! I envision painting rocks with the grandkids and putting them in places around Clearwater.

The second reason finding this rock was meaningful to me is that it triggered a string of word pictures and if you know me at all… well, let’s just say that word pictures are my native language.

So, this rock I held in my hand immediately spoke to me about Who my rock is.

“There is none holy like the Lord; there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” – 1 Samuel 2:2

“For who is God, but the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God? ” – 2 Samuel 22:32

In the tumultuous season we have been in, I have felt pretty battered by the waves of life. But for the rock on which I stand, I would have surely drowned.

And the painting on this lovely stone shows the colors of the rainbow. In spite of the fact that the rainbow symbol has been hijacked to serve a different meaning, the original rainbow was a sign of God’s promise to never destroy the earth by flooding again.

So as I sat by the water, with this smooth colorful rock in my hand, I was reminded that God is my Rock. He is a promise keeper and He will never let me drown no matter how it looks from where I stand.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”  – Hebrews 10:23

 

 

Life’s Uncertainties Are…Certain

Some days my mind tries to return to our life 4 weeks ago. Working on projects in the backyard with the family. Going to the beach on date night. Just doing “normal.”

In just 4 weeks, too many changes. So many uncertainties.

But even when so many things happen at once, and you get the feeling things are spiraling out of control, there is one simple truth to consider.

No matter what has happened since yesterday, or last week, or last month, there are really no more uncertainties than there were before. You may have just thought of some new ones, or perhaps you are just suddenly more aware of them. Those uncertainties of life were always there even if you hadn’t seen them before.

Sometimes it’s hard to find the balance between believing that “ignorance is bliss“, and being so “informed” that you struggle all the more with worry.

Faith comes somewhere in between being ignorant and being informed. It’s the place where you realize that you cannot know the future (and that’s a good thing), but you know enough to want answers.

And the only real answer is…God knows.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you.” – Isaiah 43:2

When the Future Looks Nothing Like What You Expected

We’ve had a couple of rough weeks. While it seems the initial crisis is over, the truth is, our lives took a ninety degree turn from the direction we thought we were going. We can never get back on that old road.

I have been reminded frequently in these two weeks that God’s plan is definitely NOT the same as my plan.  My plan seemed to make sense.  This new plan uses a completely different set of rules. Or maybe it uses no  recognizable rules at all.

Just the weekend before all of this started we were happily working as a family on a book project with a fast approaching deadline. Randy hadn’t been feeling quite right physically but we didn’t see anything that would have been a red flag.  He was tired at the end of the weekend, but then we all were.

Randy had just started his own business two weeks earlier. It has been the plan since we moved to Florida 15 months ago.  The pieces were coming together and we were excited to finally see this dream taking shape.

Then the bottom fell out.  Or so we thought.

What we thought was just some quirky health issues turned into a 12 day hospital stay and a diagnosis of cirrhosis that shattered our carefully laid plans.

One of the things we do as humans is that we project our present into our future without really knowing anything. We think we have an idea where we are going but we really don’t.  And what we think the future looks like actually puts us in a box.  It makes us stop looking for other avenues and possibilities. It makes us get comfortable with our little picture and how it’s supposed to look.

As the days in the hospital began to stack up, I had a lot of time to just sit and think while I watched my very sick husband sleep.  One of the things I realized is that what we thought was an illness that threatened to shut down the business before it even got started is really opening the door to new possibilities that we hadn’t even thought of before.  God keeps showing us things from a completely different angle than we had been looking before.

It has made me think of the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis(Chapters 37-50).  All the terrible things that happened to Joseph, God used for good. And God knew ahead of time that all of it would happen. He had a plan that no one else could see.

So at this point in our new journey, we are holding on to that scripture that everyone likes to quote.

For I know the plans I have for you”–this is the LORD’s declaration–“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (HCSB)

It has new meaning for us now. We can look to the future and remember that God is already there. He has already made provision to get US there too.

Is God up to something in your life that doesn’t look like you expected it to?  Take a deep breath and just trust Him. He knows exactly what He’s doing.

 

Navigating in a Strong Current? Better Let God Steer

A week ago I wrote this on my Facebook timeline:

I came to the beach this morning to walk and pray. Now as I sit on the rocks listening to the rhythm of the waves, I am reminded that our lives are in a rhythm of their own. The ebbs and flows, the ups and downs. I can look to the East across the channel from where I am sitting and see the hospital where Randy is and I can look to the West and see nothing but water. I am reminded that the God who could create the vastness of the ocean can handle whatever is going on in the building behind me. God is good.”

At the time, I was only seeing the building in the distance.  Later as I looked at the picture I took, I could see something I had missed.  The sign said:  “WARNING  deep holes and strong current.”  Rather ironic in light of the week I’ve had.  It has certainly felt like we’ve been in danger of drowning from the deep holes and strong current that have tried to pull us under each time another doctor came to give us another round of bad news.

As the week passed, day after day, I tried to keep my perspective positive. At one point I was sitting in a waiting room alone, watching the patient update screen to see when Randy would be done with another test.  I was restless and feeling more anxious the longer I waited.  Finally I changed seats and looked out the window.

From where I sat I could see the same bridge from the other side.  If I looked closely,  I could see the rocks where I took the photo just a few days before. As I looked across the water I remembered what God had said to me that day. I remembered that He has it all under control.

Now as I look at both photos I can see an even greater truth. Though I didn’t actually have to find my way through the dangerous waters to get from one place to the other, God did take me through the difficult challenges that these days have brought.

I sense God whispering to my heart, “I have brought you through rough waters before. Look back and remember My faithfulness and trust me with the future.”

Psalm 42:5 “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.”

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

When Trusting is All You Can Do

We say we trust God. And we do. We trust him that the paycheck will arrive next week. We trust Him that even if it doesn’t He will take care of us.  We trust Him with our kids’ bazillion issues. We know that somehow God will come through.

It may seem easy to trust God with those things because in our minds we can see the path to a solution if it doesn’t go exactly the way we are trusting it will. We can visualize a way that God will provide when the paycheck doesn’t arrive.  We can believe the details will all work out for all those day to day things where we tell ourselves that we can trust God.

But then something happens that jerks you off your feet and you are desperately grasping for something tangible to hold on to but there is nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Last week my family was collectively jerked off our feet and in some ways it still feels like we are flying through the air. But the fact is, we have landed solidly in the very hand of God and have decided to take up residence right there.  We aren’t going anywhere.

After a long week of gradually deteriorating health, my husband was taken to the hospital on Friday, admitted to ICU and began undergoing a multitude of tests looking for internal bleeding. They found no bleeding but did find that he has cirrhosis.  His liver is failing and nobody knew it.

With words like fatal and transplant  dropped into conversations by doctors, we began to get discouraged. As we sat in the ER that first day and heard those words for the first time, Randy and I just looked at each other in shock. We had no idea what to do with this information.  We felt ourselves flying through the air as the rug was definitely jerked from beneath us.

Now it’s been 3 days and we have made a decision.  We are no longer flying. We know that we can do nothing to change our circumstances. We know that there is only One who is able to help us. Yes, He can choose to use medical professionals. Or He can choose to do a miracle, or not.  But the fact is, He will do the choosing, not us.  The only thing we can do is trust. Simply trust.

Yesterday’s sermon was on Moses being called to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. When he complained to God that he didn’t have what it would take to get through that challenge, God told him that Aaron was already on the way to help him. God had begun to send a solution even before Moses needed one.

Even though this difficult news for our family has caught us off guard, it was no surprise to God. He isn’t wringing His hands saying, “what are we going to do now.”  He knew this day would come when Randy was formed in his mother’s womb.

Psalm 139:16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;
And in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. (NASB)

And He already has a plan to help us walk through this.  So we will stay firmly planted, in the palm of His hand and let Him carry us. Because trusting Him is all we can do.

Is there something in your life that you need to trust God with?  Throw yourself into the palm of His hand. It’s big enough for all of us. It’s a place of safety and comfort.  Do it today. Just do it.

Psalm 34:4-7

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces will never be ashamed.
This [c]poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him,
And rescues them.

%d bloggers like this: