Sunday, May 20, 2012

Streams in the Desert

Isaiah 35:4-7 is a familiar passage. I have heard it before, probably many times. But for some reason it leapt off the page at me when I read it a few days ago. In the English Standard Version, it reads "Say to those who have an anxious heart, "Be strong; fear not! Your God will come...He will come and save you...For waters break forth in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the burning sand shall become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water..."

It is kind of funny; I don't usually picture streams in deserts. They are dry, dusty places, without much rain (the qualification as a "desert" is based on rainfall, or the lack of it) and long distances between pools. Oases exist, but they are not common. And God is speaking to a people who understand deserts. The picture He paints is very clear, and powerful; God will save His people, and the desert in which they find themselves will be transformed. Wow; what an amazing picture!!

For me, the even more amazing part is that I've been experiencing it lately. God has not left me alone in this desert sojourn. Many wonderful people have come alongside me, through prayer, and other more practical methods (thank you Erica and Cynde). A dear friend, who does prayer counseling, spent an afternoon with me recently, and it was incredibly powerful. Since that time, my experience has been more like walking by the streams of living water than stumbling through a dry, dusty desert.

The funny part is, my life hasn't really changed. In addition to my two special-needs kids, one of my girls recently broke her ankle, for the second time in six months ( just weeks after corrective surgery!) and has some serious dietary deficiencies (she may also need major surgery on both her ankles), I spent the night (literally) in the ER with my five year old, and my oldest daughter apparently needs surgery to correct hip dysplasia. The saga with our youngest continues; a possible immune deficiency and allergies to common foods (dairy and eggs) have further complicated an already challenging situation. Yet, God is providing me with streams in this desert!

Don't get me wrong; my days are not full of beautiful scenes fit to inspire Norman Rockwell paintings. Laundry still piles up along the streams in my desert, and I get so tired of kids crying. Dinner still has to be set on the table (which requires making it, ahead of time), toilets still need to be cleaned, and mildew still grows in my shower. But, God is caring for me in the midst of this crazy time. He is tending my heart, bringing encouragement, and helping me see that I'm not alone, even when it feels like I am. This journey is still lonely, but I realize that the trail God has set before me parallels a stream, His stream, and from it I can draw refreshment, take courage, and journey for another day.

Yes, They Are All Mine

For years, I've admired the little stick figure stickers you see on the backs of vehicles. You know, the little sandals, or sea turtles; those kind of cute little stick figure drawings that tell you how many people are in the family. They are so cute and fun, proudly proclaiming to the world how many blessings you have in your family.

And, for years, I've wanted those cute stickers.

But, they are quite frivolous, and (to someone who is very practical) completely unnecessary. So, I have admired those stickers, but haven't been willing to invest in them. My girls noticed my interest, and conspired to bless me for Mother's Day.

Applying the stickers, of course, was a family affair.

First, we started with Mom and Dad...

Then we had to decide what order the rest of the family should go in. Since we had five girls before we had any boys, I didn't want people to be confused about multiples. So, we settled on alternating young kids with big kids, like this...

Finally, everyone was in their rightful place, with a little room to spare, prompting one of the girls to proclaim, "Look, Mom. We have room for more kids."

If you look closely, you'll notice the cat's tail is short and the dog is missing one leg; the girls wanted to be as authentic as possible.

Oh my goodness, you should see the looks we've gotten on the interstate! People starring as they go by, craning their necks around to get a clear view of the person driving, as though perhaps they would see something other than a human being. One woman, so I've been told, mouthed the words, "Wow" as she drove by. It has been quite entertaining, actually. We have enjoyed quite a bit of comic relief, laughing out loud on more than one occasion, thoroughly enjoying the "notoriety" our little stick figure stickers are bringing.

Now, to answer the obvious question; a sticker that says, "Yes, they are all mine."