Here I raise my Ebenezer…

-Written by Anna-

This week marks one year since we brought Mom home from rehab. It was a day of celebration! However when I think back on it I remember very clearly the frustrations and the fears.

Frustration – Our departure ended up being weeks earlier than anticipated. The day of our departure though found us waiting all day for the paperwork for her release. Finally it came around dinnertime. God bless the sweet therapist that came after her shift to help us order the equipment we needed at the house, our local pharmacy that stayed open late just to fill Mom’s prescriptions and the nurses that walked us through her medications.

Fear – I clearly remember the fear! It took three trained aides to get Mom in our car. Could Dad and I manage to get her safely out? She was only a week out of surgery and still so weak and fragile! Would her wheelchair fit through our doorways? Could we care for her safely at home? How were we going to navigate this new reality?

Joy – And yet in the midst of frustrations and fears, there was a deep sense of joy and gratitude! We were bringing Mom home! Something we could not have imagined three months earlier! Truly a miracle!

Three months had passed since Mom had walked out of the house for lung surgery. So much had changed. We were all different people. For Mom, many of the changes were obvious. She was now being wheeled into the house that she had walked out of three months earlier, now dependent on others for everything. Yet some of the changes were not as obvious. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death changes you. And it should.

The type of change though is a choice.  As our family seeks to adjust to our new normal my prayer has and continues to be that we would all be changed and changed for the better! In recent months we have each faced moments of overwhelming gratitude and overwhelming grief as we look at the losses and gains of this past year. I don’t pretend to have any answers but I do believe that by walking through the valley we have come to know in deeper ways the One who chose the path of suffering for us! What an amazing gift to serve and follow a God who understands suffering and loss! Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Today in my Bible 7 class we acted out the book of I Samuel. Yes, you read that right. It was either a brilliant move or a moment of insanity that led me to try and act out thirty-one chapters of Old Testament history with sixteen 7th graders! I don’t know how much they got out of it (aside from the great fun of acting out battle scenes with your classmates of course!) But as I poured over the book in preparation I was moved by seeing HIS story unfold in the midst of personal and national struggles. I was inspired by the heroes of the faith who turned to God in their moments of suffering and joy and I was grieved by the tragedy of those who let their fears and insecurities keep them from obeying Him! I was struck by the fact that the real victories and losses seemed to occur before and/or after the battle/crisis not during. But the part that really stood out to me this morning was a passage from a very familiar story. After an Israelite victory over the Philistines, Samuel raised a stone and called it Ebenezer. “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” (I Samuel 7:12) Samuel knew that their victory was from the Lord and the stone served as a physical reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness to His people. 

As we mark another milestone in this journey, a year of Mom being back at home, I would like to raise our Ebenezer and testify to the fact that “Thus far has the Lord helped us.” And just like Samuel we know that there will be more battles to come, but this Ebenezer stone is a reminder to the people of the faithfulness of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob!

Much has changed in our lives in the last year but we serve the same God as Samuel and His loving kindness and faithfulness have not changed. Hallelujah! What a Savior!