Knocked down

My mother loved to describe my learning to walk, out on the grass behind our house on Oxmead Road, in Burlington, NJ. We had a nanny goat named Minerva. I’d attempt to stand, in typical toddler fashion with my diaper-padded derriere rising first, thus providing an irresistible target for our well-horned goat. Before I could straighten and get my balance, she would come running and butt me flat on my face.

Mom holding Janie w grandfather in background

For some reason, this was hysterical to my parents as they watched from the porch. I never got why it was funny.

But it did explain how I learned to get back up, again.

Janie in backyard
On back porch

And, obviously I did learn to walk (in spite of Minerva, who suddenly disappeared from our lives when she ate the sheets off the line, then went for mom’s roses).

I would have never walked if I’d stayed on my tummy, wailing into the grass.

We all get knocked down. Whether by cruelty, abuse, neglect, maliciousness, sickness, or a broken relationship, the death of a dream or a loved one, accidental injury or targeting by evil intent, we have all been sucker-punched at least once.
For most of us, way more than once.

So it isn’t about asking if we’ve been knocked down.

It’s about our determination to get back up, no matter how long or what it takes to get there.

(A note here about down time: YD gave me a wall plaque that I love. It reads:

Prayer: It’s hard to stumble when you’re on your knees.

A lot of wisdom there.)

I think much of our adult behavior is shaped by how we initially cope with face-plants. We form habits when we are too young to evaluate their effectiveness or cost to us, but we survive, so we figure it works.

We often continue responding the same way well into our adult lives, sabotaging our present circumstances.

It’s as if that take-down when we were one takes us down again at 14, 30, or 70, unless we are aware, and work to change our response.

Work is the operative word.

No habit goes without a fight. And I’m beginning to think emotional habits are the hardest of all to change. A knock-down can easily launch a temporary crippling pity party in me, and unmanageable frustration or rage in others.

My emotional journey would have started better if my mother had come off the porch, picked me up and comforted me, and restrained Minerva so I could learn to walk with nothing more than my own weakness or lack of coordination to trip me up.

She didn’t. (I know, now, she had her own take-downs that impeded her living and mothering, no matter how much she wanted to be a good mother. Forgiveness and healing have been huge here.)

There must have been more events like that, because I grew up thinking my feelings and pain didn’t matter, that speaking up wouldn’t bring assistance, and that I was helpless in the face of strength.

I’ve been knocked down a lot.

Like Minerva, the strong ones know a target when they see it.

But I have gotten back up.

Little Mac in Johnny’s arms
LIttle Mac on blanket, Virginia Beach, VA

When my precious little brother, Mac, drowned in Lake Oswego, through the love of my aunt and uncle in Philly, and the prayers and guidance of my grandmother in Ocean City, NJ, my aching heart came back to life in the hands of Jesus.

After we moved from Oswego, NY, I learned that my first boyfriend there had been killed, hit by a careless driver.

I cried all night.WalterThen I got back up, again.

 

Every time the Navy moved us, every three or four years, just when I’d left my introverted corner and made friends, I was thrust into a new situation. I didn’t think I could survive.

But I did.

My list goes on, as yours probably does, too.

What matters is I discovered I am not, in fact, ever alone. I never have been, even in my mother’s womb.

The Spirit of the One who loves me perfectly gives me strength to rise when I think I cannot go on.

At my age, the struggles are less about other people and relationships and more about my body not putting up a good fight. I have spent much of the last 2 1/2  years working to heal.

I’m doing everything in my power to get back up,

and kick fear behind me, no matter what my body does.

To live fully

To love more

Always looking forward to an eternal life with no knock-downs!

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I Peter 1:3-5 MSG

How have you learned to get back up?

 

Seeking small graces

My health finally stabilized. And after a long recovery from hip repair surgery in November, I was walking further with my dog and playing with my grand-kids. Then something painful “popped” in my hip, and I’ve spent the last months in varying degrees of pain — walking, sitting or standing. For weeks I’ve battled an infection that made me a semi-invalid last year. My body clearly wasn’t up to the fight and I’ve had to start antibiotics. (Not simple, since I’m allergic to way too many, as well as still trying to heal my gut from last year’s antibiotic siege.) I’ve worked hard to get healthy and whole, free to engage with others, join in the lives of my family, return to teaching Bible classes, finish editing my books and complete another, to live a vibrant, meaningful life. As things seemed to be spinning out again, I’ve wondered, even prayed, “What am I doing wrong?”

If God would just tell me, I’d do it!

There must be a key.

Is there something important I’m not doing? Leaving out?

Every time this song, Thy Will by Hillary Scott, comes on the radio, my mind and emotions downshift.

When I’m working so hard to do it right, am I actually exhibiting lack of faith? After all, it’s not all about me, and I’m not God.

It’s hard to find a balance between accepting life as it comes from the hand of God, and fighting the good fight as we are called to do.

Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I Timothy 6:12

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. Exodus 14:14 AMPC

How do you thread that needle?

All I can do is recall what I know is true.

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jr
https://www.bible.com/bible/97/psa.56

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jrhttps://www.bible.com/bible/97/jas.1

Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let’s not let it slip through our fingers. We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.                                               Hebrews 4:14-16 MSG

photo by Jack H Thompson Jr

photo by Jack H Thompson Jr https://www.bible.com/bible/97/pro.19

In place of the questions, I begin a new search.

Seeking small graces.

Focusing.

Naming what comes into my life today as a gift.

Trusting the giver.

Trusting the hands that gave them.

And, in the end, remembering this life is brief.

And there’s more to each day than we can ever see or understand.

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever. 2 Cor 4:16-18 MSG

That is enough.

You may be facing far greater challenges now, or will in the future.
Do you struggle with chronic pain or illness or disappointment? How do you handle it, react to it?

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For the Hurting, Fresh Air

Pain arrives on our doorstep, pain we cannot control, no matter how hard we wish, try, or work. I’ve heard from many in the last couple of weeks who are hurting, some from physical ailments or limitations, some from the sickness or deterioration of a loved one, some from unloving and selfish acts on the part of someone close, or who should be close. Some from their own weaknesses or errors. The good news is, there is hope. There is one who loves us, who knows what it is to be betrayed, hurt, in pain and anguish, even to death.

bird in morning light by Jack H Thompson, Jr

Keep your eyes open for God, watch for his works;

be alert for signs of his presence. 

Remember the world of wonders he has made,

photo by Jack H Thompson, Jr

God spread a cloud to keep them cool through the day

and a fire to light their way through the night;

He opened the rock and water poured out;

it flowed like a river through that desertPsalm 105: 5,40-41 MSG

waterfall in Africa by T.L. Bollier

Would you believe that thousands of years ago a prophet predicted what God would do for us in times like these?

Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole.Through his bruises we get healed.

We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.

We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.

And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong, on him, on him. 

Is 53:1a-2-6 MSG 

sheep near Otavalo, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, Jr
sheep in Ecuador

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!   

God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole.

I Peter 3-5 MSG

Cross on dunes on Pensacola Beach
Pensacola Beach
flower in Maui by Jack H Thompson, Jr
flower in Maui

water birds in Isabella, Galapagos by Jack H Thompson, Jr

birds in Isabella, Galapagos Islands

God’s glory is on tour in the skies, God-craft on exhibit across the horizon. Madame Day holds classes every morning, Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren’t heard, their voices aren’t recorded, But their silence fills the earth:unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome for the sun—a superdome!

The morning sun’s a new husband leaping from his honeymoon bed, The daybreaking sun an athlete racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset,

Melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together.

Ps 19:1-9 MSG

sunrise in the Abacos, Bahamas, by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Sunrise in the Abacos, Bahamas
Morning light, Santiago, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Morning light, Santiago
sunrise by Jack H Thompson, Jr
sunrise
Sunset in Bartholomew, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, Jr
Sunset in Bartholomew, Galapagos
View of snow-topped volcano from Quito, Ecuador by Jack H Thompson, JR
View of snow-topped volcano from Quito, Ecuador
blossom in the dew by Jack H Thompson, Jr
blossom in the dew

Have you felt your life being pulled together?