It’s four in the morning and I’m wide awake and angry about it; tossing and turning has done little to fuel exhaustion back to sleep. Begrudgingly I receive my insomnia as an invitation to prayer.
It’s a sleepy intercession for the troublesome circumstances of others, an opportunity, also, to pray for my children. With two in college and my youngest a high school senior, they’re reason enough to pray without ceasing. My daughter presented an even stronger case when she accepted a 12-week internship in the Philippines this summer, her time to be divided between big city and rural village. We would have rare chance to be in touch–an occasional email or Skype call, a reality I accepted but didn’t like.
I thank God for His presence and place in the lives of my children and somewhere along pleas for protection I finally drift to sleep.
When your children are small, you begin praying for them to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, a good thing to pray throughout their lives.
What you might not anticipate is what that could look like when they grow up.
I’ve parented with an open hand, weaning my children from a dependence on me in age-appropriate measure. Sometimes I’ve wanted to take that all back. It’s a gift now when they need their mommy.
It’s lovely to discover, even when your children are older, sometimes it is only the touch of their mother that will cure their ill, comfort their heart, satisfy their need.
A receptive ear, a secure embrace, a home-cooked meal–the equivalent of kissing skinned knees and bandaging imaginary booboos.
Sometimes if your child loves the Lord with all her heart, soul, strength and mind, that means she’ll follow Him to the remotest ends of the earth. It’s your job to let her go.
I was on my second cup of coffee when I noticed a missed call from my husband, my phone still silenced from the night before. His subsequent text was just two words: Call me.
It’s not odd for that text to follow a missed call of his; he knows too often I forget to turn up my volume. What’s odd to me is there’s always a catch in my spirit when I see those words, as if he’s calling to discuss something more sinister than our dinner plans or his need to stay late. It’s silly that I’m relieved after we talk, that somewhere in the back of my mind I kinda/not really/but really worry think there might be something more.
“I doubt you know this already or you would have told me,” he begins, “but there was a pretty bad typhoon in the Philippines yesterday….”
My pulse races along with my mind.
I realize how long it’s been since we talked with our daughter.
Our morning was spent exhausting every avenue that could lead us to Rachel. With a 12-hour time difference, the office of the organization for whom she is interning was closed. We called or emailed everyone we could think of who might be able to tell us something. Anything.
But we can find nothing where she is concerned.
I tracked the path of the typhoon. I scoured the internet for updates. I scrolled images of the storm’s destruction.
Desperation does crazy, pointless things like that.
Intellect and reason tell me likely she is fine. The storm’s path was south of her, regardless of whether she was in Manila or north in the village. Still, there was loss of life and damage to homes and business, all painful and devastating.
Doubts begin to rain and I can’t help but believe it’s the prayers of a few friends that level my anxiety.
I’m holding my breath while this day lasts forever.
It’s 4:00 a.m. and I’m wide awake but not angry.
Prayer is my first instinct this time but there’s a constant interruption of What Ifs.
Even though 95 percent of me felt like she was in a safe place, it’s that 5 percent that demands attention. Not knowing is the worst.
So I finally get up to check email (again), with little hope and no expectation of hearing anything yet, since so many are still without power.
But I was wrong.
It’s the familiarity of my own subject line I see first, “When it’s hard to be a Mama….”
But it’s the first words of her reply that balm my uncertainties, “I’m totally fine!!!”
At four in the morning I’m a kitchen charismatic, dancing in my spirit and thanking God out loud that my daughter is not only okay but able to tell me so with three exclamation points.
I do not take it for granted that this story has a happy ending.
Scripture and song looped in my head while I waited to hear an update —
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials…” (James 1:2-4)
“I’ll praise you in this storm….” (Casting Crowns)
“He gives and takes away…” (Matt Redman’s Blessed Be Your Name, based on Job 1:21)
Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, maker of heaven and earth. (my rough translation of Psalm 121:1-2)
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials… (1 Peter 1:6-7)
I thought about the book we just completed for our Bloom summer study (Pursue the Intentional Life), the part where the author challenges readers to do the “advance work” of preparing for inevitable future events; little losses that can break your spirit, bigger losses that can break your heart or the biggest ones that can simply break you.
I began writing this in the dark, before I received my daughter’s email. I thought about those of you in the midst of your own life storms whose endings are hard or hurtful. For you, I wish I could step through your screen, sit by your side and hold your hand or loan my shoulder to catch your tears.
In the wake of tragedy, as mature believers, we know the “right” answers, the scriptures to “claim,” how we’re supposed to behave…
For just a moment can we allow space to be real and honest rather than me tie this up neatly with joy-filled bows and religious platitudes?
What if this had been one of those times when my faith was stretched so far it could snap?
This is a holy wrestle.
I think God can handle it.
: : : : : : :
love always ~ robin
[linebreak]Leave a Comment
Melanie Vanlaningham says
Been doing the same of kind of sleepless wrestling, in fact it was 3:30 yesterday morning. So thankful for your words, truths, reminders once again this morning. I have several situations in my life right now that have uncertain yet probable outcomes that will be hard. Your words bring His strength to these situations today and for that, I am thankful.
I am very glad to hear your daughter is okay. I really understand the statement about not taking that for granted. Truth is there are un-happy endings but God is enough in it all. I MUST stay grounded in that truth.
I am so thankful for you and your heart, Robin. Wish I could sit with you awhile and really share this crazy thing called LIFE.
Blessings to you, Sister!
P.S. I was on the shore of Lake Michigan a week ago collecting rocks. I had to think of you!
Robin Dance says
First is it okay your p.s. blessed me something fierce? It’s those little ties that bind, the quirky, encouraging life reminders that we really aren’t that different from one another.
Though I don’t know your circumstances, I’m praying for you this morning. While I’d take every hard trial away from the people in my life, I realize even more so that I’d rob them of something important. I’ve lived through a few of those “if it doesn’t kill you’ll, you’ll be stronger” seasons…and I don’t want to repeat them! But, I’m beyond thankful that I can see the Lord’s hand in it, and one day I’ll understand so much more.
Anne Marie Lingle says
I too am awake today @ 3:00am. I did go to sleep early last evening.
I was looking through the sales for my youngest grandson. I ran across your story. I do have problems sleeping almost nightly. I am a night person for the most part. I usually wake up thinking of my grandchildren & when I will be able to see them again.
I have a daughter that is 28 yrs., old. She was diagnosed with bipolar, oppositional definentcy & explosive behavior when she was very young. She had went through years of therapy/psychatric treatment & several medications. To no avail she has stopped her meds when she turned 17.
Live has been very much a rollercoaster even as she is a mother & soon to be married for the second time.
I am so blessed to have my 3 beautiful grandchildren but almost monthly she has an explosive behavior attack & refuses to let me see my Grandchildren. This is the most hurtful thing I have ever gone through in my life.
I have been a Christian for many years & continually pray to the Lord for healing for her & more love & patience for me.
Please, feel free to comment on my story, it would be uplifting to hear from you.
Robin Dance says
My heart breaks for you, Anne Marie; I cannot imagine your situation or that of your grand babies. I wish I had answers but none come to mind. But I trust the Lord’s goodness and pray for his purposes to be accomplished that will bring glory to himself and advance the sake of the gospel. This morning I pray for grace and wisdom for you, and for love to fill you to the overflow as you minister to your family.
Beth Williams says
Prayers for healing for your daughter. May God give her a heart change & make her realize she needs the meds. Prayers that you can see more of your grandchildren.
Help Anne & her daughter. Give her daughter a softer heart to see that she needs the medication. Help her to realize that mom deserves to see the grandchildren often. May her second marriage go well and be blessed!!
My prayers surround you Anne, your daughter, and grandchildren and future son-in-law. I know how hard it is for all who love an individual with this diagnosis. I see ever more clearly how much a miracle it is for the medication that is now readily available BUT more so that the individual understands this. Thankfully my mother has and is now, at age 74 on the best combination that she has EVER been on. So I know the anger, and outbursts, and the irrational behavior that hurts. My prayers to you are for understanding and patience and a holding on to first our Loving Father who has this all in His hands (and you), I pray for your daughter that she comes to understand that the medication is indeed her miracle to a normal life, I pray for your grandchildren that they have hearts that know God and to protect them from the hurt that can fly from their mama’s mouth, and for your future son-in-law to have strength to lead the family in a Godly way, to be able to hold the family together when their mama can’t. I was blessed with a Father, though not a Godly man, who loved my mom enough to do “anything it took to bring mom home to us.” Through this simple prayer of my father (though he never knew it as that) God worked his miracles. And works His miracles still. These prayers and more Anne that I know God will give me, will surround you and your beautiful family. I am fond of now saying, as Ann Voscamp does, “All is grace.” And I join you sister in prayer. Lisa
Anne Marie, I pray an outpouring of of God’s strength, love, peace, comfort, and provision over your situation. I pray for your daughter’s healing in Jesus’ name for by His stripes we are healed. I pray Lord, You will hold Anne Marie close and that she would feel Your presence so strongly as You move in her life and the lives of her daughter and grandchildren. I pray all this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Beautiful sharing here, Robin. I came right into this story…and so many of us (all of us?) know the a.m. wrestling well. I think all the time about what will come of my prayers for my kids to serve Him with a mighty passion. And when it gets real, our real personal faith goes to the line. Great morning encouragement here. Thank you.
Robin Dance says
Sometimes that line flat out scares me; which pushes me toward God, because only with Him do I not flounder in fear. Left to myself? Well, that thought is the scariest!
It does my heart good to be an encouragement to you; you’ve done the same for me today. 🙂
We’ve been waking up early lately as we are jet-lagged. But it’s getting better. Sleeping at the wrong times.
How dreadful the typhoon. My sons are in the Philippines but I don’t worry. They always What’s App me when they can.
Trails. Dreadful state of affairs, trails. But, JESUS carries us through it all.
Jeniffer Smith says
I can’t help but love David’s wrestling in the Psalms and Jacob’s refusal to let the Angel of the LORD go until He blessed him. I have found such a deeper relationship with God since allowing the hard questions to surface instead of silencing them. Sometimes it does lead to Scripture or spiritual songs, but sometimes it just leads to the place where I can truly rest under His wings and admit that I will never know all of the answers. <3
Mary T says
Robin, I often read my email blog posts at night or in the night, but this morning, after a long quiet time, here I am. I am a mom of three. My oldest daughter is mother to my miracle grandson. Andrew is 6 years old, medically fragile, trached and vented, needing round the clock care. We have nurses for days at school and some overnights during the week. I knew my daughter had worked many hours this week and was entertaining friends last night. I also knew the nurse left at 6:30 a.m. we have no nursing on weekends…our time with him! I woke this morning with some anxiety about her exhaustion and rising to care for him…I almost jumped in my car to make the trek down to see for myself, but turned to God in my quiet time instead. My answer came with much less of a wait than yours, but there are many sleepless nights when I must wait til morning for God to answer me! I know He is in control and taking care of all! My faith and trust are in Him and Him alone, but sometimes it is still hard to wait….After the loss of two of my students, Andrew’s classmates, I am always aware that God’s Divine thoughts and plans, His Will is always for the good of those who love Him! Amen to happy answered prayers! God bless!
Beth W says
I haven’t slept well much of this year. It has been a tough one for me and my family. We’ve dealt with issues of my aging father. Some of those landed him in hospital and rehab. He is now back at assisted living and content to be there.
Through all that I am working a job I can’t stand and dread going to. I am on the look out for a better/different job in a different field.
Also in late June my hubby got iffy job news. He is now back working at the E/R. He hasn’t worked in E/R for over 10 years and for last 2 years he was away from hospital completely. He is struggling with the hectic pace of his work.
We know that God will see us through these trials. Going through this will make us stronger people and more dependent on God!
I loved this post. Thank you for the lack of bows and ribbons. Wrestling. Hurts. Thank you for this, Robin. I’m praying for your family.
I prayed for each of you this morning ^^. I am thankful for this blog site. It let’s me know I am not alone in my journey, encourages me and always points me to Jesus and to the scripture where I always find Him.
Kathy @ In Quiet Places says
You have just pulled back the curtain on many a mother’s heart. I pray we will learn to trust God in all the life phases of the children/grown children He has given us.
Thank you Robin for this post. It was a salve to my soul!
Julie Sunne says
“Holy wrestling”–yep two of mine off to college this year, and likely to move beyond the nice “safe” boundaries I like to draw in my mind. “I think God can handle it.” Good ending.
Frances Wood says
Ladies, GOD IS ABLE!! My oldest son & his wife were missionaries for 15 years in Africa so I am very familiar with worry about our loved ones so far away. They had several “miracles” happen during the years that was nothing but GOD. One I will share is they were in the bush trying to get home before dark when they ran out of gas. David always prays over his days before going out. He told God :I know how you multiplied the loaves & fish so I am asking you to get enough gas to the carburator, so he turned the moto over, turned it upright again & it cranked. He said he knew he was going on fumes when he saw a man in the woods with a table & what looked like coke bottles, so he stopped. It was gas in the bottles!!!! After this miracle, I knew Jesus was looking out for him in ways I couldn’t. I guarantee after experiencing this, I know that God can give you your miracle. God bless.
…thank you robin. thank you!
Robin, thank you for being real. Having lived through the loss I feared most – the loss of my adored brother a few years ago – those brutal times in life are not times for Christian platitudes. Those are times when you do wonder if your faith will snap. And if it’s strong enough, it doesn’t. God is gracious not to let go of you. But those are the times when a pat on the head and a few appropriate verses are not enough. Thank you for your honesty in this and all your posts.
I am not a mother, but your story, is what my mother did\does for me. She prayed for me so much from the time that I was young, that the Lord would draw me close to Himself, and to a saving knowledge of Him, in her wildest dreams, she never thought He’d accomplish that through illness. I have a grocery list of serious health issues, that are very debilitating. And without the support and prayers of my Mother, I truly believe I wouldn’t be here today. She is one of God’s greatest gifts to me…..I’ve been an adult for 2 years, but yet I’ve never had a job, and have not been able to attend college due to illness… I’ve received much condemnation and judgement from other believers, as many view not having a job at my age, or attending college, as being a failure. So many cruel things have been said to me…. that I suffer in silence instead. For those of you who have been judged when you’re already struggling, know I hurt for you, and I pray for you.. And I thank God that I have a mother like you, who has never ceased to pray for me, and continues to support me and fight for me as I still have all the illnesses, Mothers that pray for their children truly make a difference!!!!! <3
I am very happy your daughter is OK. Your words are so comforting to me. You are blessed with a gift for finding a way to touch hearts. I know from experience that it’s easy to trust the Lord and to be faithful when things are going well, but it’s the hard times that really test our faith. I recently told my daughter( who was complaining about some of our older appliances) that we should be happy that we have all we have. But then I visited a friend who just moved into a beautiful, large home with everything new. That green-eyed monster started to stir in me! I had to put my mind into a place where I realized I was being a hypocrite and say a prayer of thanks that I had a roof over my head, food on my table a a healthy family. That storm has calmed now and I am happy to have come through it.
Diana Trautwein says
Well told, Robin. I so relate to that anxiety – it’s always there somewhere when our children are far from us. Learning to trust in the midst of it is tough stuff and gratitude for safety a necessary and joyful response to good news. I’m so glad she’s okay.
Oh my gosh, do I EVER know about the 95% & 5% thing. The anxiety, the worry, the wondering. I’m -so- there right now. I’m so happy that your daughter is just fine with 3 exclamation points! 🙂 Many blessings.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
Oh have I done some Holy Wrestling! I think of the story of Jacob wrestling with God and thus being given the name Israel. I am encouraged that people of faith have been wrestling with God for a long time and that God is big enough to handle it.
My daughter has served on mission trips to Haiti and to Kenya and I remember having some sleepless nights and worrying. It’s hard when they are little, but I believe even harder still when you have to let them go and pursue life on their own and really all you can do is pray, and pray some more.
I love when you write and can so relate to you and to what you write about. Thank you for sharing from your heart!!
Blessings and ((Hugs)),
Thank you for sharing. Thank God for the timing.
You just saved my life!
I will be forever grateful!
Robin, As you know my own phone call didn’t end with the neatly tied bow. And though it didn’t seem like God answered our prayers in that ER to save even one of 3 bodies lying on those gurneys – in actuality He did answer with a “no”. But God…. Has been faithful and His grace has carried us in ways I could have never imagined. I will tell you this has been the hardest three months of my life!! I have handle some things well and some things very terribly (I wish that wasn’t so). Traumatic grief does things to your body, soul and mind that most people wouldn’t understand unless they have lived it. But God… Has not left me yet and has allowed me to see Him in so many tiny, loving, personal ways that I continue to praise Him. And I CHOOSE to thank Him for the unimaginable because my emotions don’t feel it yet. And in all God is still good! Love you, friend!
Bonnie Jean says
I love how you so openly express the reality of living the Christian faith in the trenches of everyday life… full of beauty… wonder… tragedy… and moments of fear. We all want to trust in God totally and sometimes perhaps we do… or do better than other times. I have a son who has walked away from his faith… which seemed strong as a child and young teen. He is away at a college where God does not exist and you have to search for a true group or church where you are fed God’s truth. He is not looking. Like you praying for the safety of your daughter in the typhoon (for which I am thankful that she is okay)… I am praying for the safety of my son in the world tainted by sin. He has gone through different phases over the last couple of years… some bad… some promising… but he is at a point where if he does not get the funding he needs… he will have to leave. If he cannot continue where he is, I fear that he might go into a deep depression or drink himself into oblivion. His father was/is and alcoholic and drug addict and has not been a good example. I am no longer with him, but he always seems to turn to the worst things without a thought to … Okay… what can I do now Lord ? I thought you led me here. Also, he does nothing to help himself… he does not seem to be motivated by anything. I fear for his life and his future… he has a great deal of anger against me, his birth-father, himself… and God. There are so many options… he feels he has to do things a certain way… he fails to see that life does not always go according to plan. I tried to teach him that if he would look to God for guidance… God would show him the way. Maybe another school… a smaller school… a Christian school… counseling… talking to someone. He seems shut up in his own world, as if he needs no one. We all need love and friends. We all need God most of all. I spend many nights just crying instead of sleeping because I do not even know what to say to God. Parenting is the hardest job you will ever love…
Thank You Robin!! Always wonderful how you share your heart and faith in God alongside your humanness and frailty. It touches me to the core. Our youngest daughter lives four hours away now and since the oldest one (& her family) is just down the hall it has been an interesting ride…. I have always worried more about my youngest anyway. Thank you for sharing.
Glad everything is fine with Rachel. =)
Lisa H. says
Robin, thank you for sharing! I’m doing some wrestling of my own right now, and I needed the encouragement.
I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this
post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed
avout my trouble. You’re wonderful! Thanks!