Andrew's birthday is always filled with deep emotions for me. I think back to his 3rd birthday, when he was so fragile, and hope seemed to be lost....I thought it was his last birthday, that he would never see 4 or 5..but would always be 3. I tried to make the day special, but he was so sick and his lack of an immune system prevented him from being with friends. At the last minute, we made a Roly Poly Ollie cake and had a couple neighbors meet us at the park. And we thanked God for each day that we had with our son.
Life, is precious. And each year we have with Andrew fills my heart with overflowing gratitude....so thankful for all of God's miracles in his life, so grateful for each new year we get to celebrate.
Today, as we set out to Disneyland for Andrew's 12th birthday, I was reminded anew about the preciousness of life. I learned that a dear friend and neighbor passed away, taking his own life.
This was not your ordinary neighbor...he was a talented man that gave so much to our community. Jeff had won many Telly awards as a producer, most recently he worked on Disney's Dance Party and Shake It Up. He shared his gifts with our neighborhood by putting together amazing 4th of July fireworks shows and hosting many of our events...the list goes on, but this was a guy who was known and liked by all. And now he is gone.
Walking around Disney all day, thinking of Jeff's connection to Disney....heart filled with joy for my son, heart breaking for Jeff's wife and teen daughter.
Just yesterday, I was talking to one of my teen clients.....a girl whose past has been filled with brokeness. She asked me why God would give her such a painful life. Im so thankful that I work for an agency that allows me to share Jesus, that encourages me to share my faith.....and I told her, that God would never bring her pain, in fact He grieves over her hurts.
She looked at me puzzled...and I continued......I believe what the Bible says, that God only wants good for us, not harm. He has an amazing plan for us...but there is someone else that wants to take that good away and harm us. Do you know who that is? She answered....the devil?
Yes. God is clear that we live in a fallen world, where satan prowls around seeking to destroy us...through disease, through lies, whatever he can do to cause us pain and keep us from Jesus, he will do it.
But Jesus died for us, so that death would be powerless. This curious girl listened intently.....how could death be powerless?
I explained that all this pain....the abandonment, the rejection, the abuse....it was only temporary....God had better things in store.
Nobody wants to endure hardships in this life.....but whatever the enemy throws at us; cancer, foreclosures, loss of job, broken relationships, failing bodies....it's all just temporary.
If we set our minds on heavenly things, on the promises of eternal joy with God....then all the rubbish that we endure on this earth fades.
Friends, keep your eyes out for those hurting around you. They may look like a teen in the foster care system, or a very successful neighbor that was the epitome of popularity.....the outside doesnt always show us the hurting on the inside.
Share with people that their hope is not in this world. This world is full of good times and bad.....ups and downs...the only constant we have is trusting Jesus. Hold on to His Word, His promises, and look for his blessings in the valleys....He is faithful to bring joy, even in the storms, if we would only look to Him.