Tuesday, May 19, 2015

For Want of Wonder ~ Summer UnGoogled

The world will never starve for want of wonders; 
but only for want of wonder. 
~  G. K. Gesterton
Every spring I marvel at the earth's transition from the stark, bland, bareness of winter into a colorful, lush abundance.  It's as though the long months of short, dark days somehow drown out the most fond memories we have of warmth and green and bright, making spring's entrance all the more profound experience for the watchful, waiting soul.
The countryside's landscape of crops and pastureland is particularly fruitful right now, as we have experienced the blessing of plentiful rains. Last weekend, heaven's showers filled to the peak ponds and creeks all across the county.

First sightings of sunshine meant all of the kids, who had been patiently waiting out the storms, could wait not a second longer to charge out into the overflow that ran like a mini-river along the edge of town.
Our boys spent the entire day on Sunday, perched on whatever they could find to keep them afloat, which included snowboards, buckets and Dollar Store inner tubes.  For hours, they floated carefree in the shallow current, their joy-soaked souls beaming through bright smiles.

Charlie was especially fun to watch that day.  He is our little tender-heart, often timid and apprehensive when it comes to trying new things. But, as long as he is close to Andrew, his bravery soars.  I dearly love how brotherly love inspires courage in the little ones.
Watching the boys run wildly, tirelessly up and down the mini-river, splashing and spinning on the tubes, even scouring the creek bottom for crawdads really made me pine for an unplugged, unhurried, uneventful summer.  A summer of real wonder, exploration, discovery, appreciation, even boredom.
I have always felt that boys, much more than girls, need to have a time and space where they can be free.  Free to be themselves.  Free to live fully their wild, energetic nature without being told over and over again to settle down, be still and be quiet.

Don't underestimate the value in this, moms.  I believe that when our sons are allowed this time of freedom, the expectations we have of them to enter our homes in an orderly fashion is much more attainable for them, and for us.

Sunday's experience has left me longing for every opportunity for the boys to flee the confines of the school house and soak in all the unplanned, unstructured, unPinterested adventures that await them in the tops of trees, piles of dirt, cumulus cloud skies.  I long for them to seek out and discover all of the possibilities that lie hidden in the plethora of boardgames, water guns, sleeping bags, bicycles and junk piles strewn about their little world.

I long also for three months without Google.  Something a little more like the life I knew as a child. A life where wonder leads to questions and questions lead to contemplation and contemplation leads to answers, and if not answers then a deeper thirst for knowledge and understanding.  And, if knowledge and understanding are not the fruits that bloom of wonder and contemplation, but rather a soul content with mystery, then mystery it is.

Steve and I have spent hours upon hours discussing all the possible ways we can encourage and support wonder, curiosity and a sense of adventure in our boys.  We also talk about our failures as parents to keep them from, or at least limit those things that rob their sense of wonder, such as electronics, too many structured activities or trying to come up with solutions for their whining and boredom instead of allowing their personal discomfort and disenchantment to be motivation enough.

But, how do we get them to a place of wonder, you ask?  What do you guys think about kicking 'em outside with a bottle of sunscreen and a bucket of Kool-Aid? I think that's exactly what our parents did to us, and hey! We survived! (Don't forget to lock the doors.)

Give me some of that wonder and a cold beer to sip while I watch my boys ramble home hungry and happy, and it's going to be one fine summer y'all!

What are your hopes for the summer?...

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

To all the "Average" Kids Out There: You May Not Know It, But You Could Be the Best Big Toe Ever

Tomorrow night my son, Benedict, will be graduating from middle school.  Insert sobbing here.  

{Sorry, still sobbing.}

I'm not going to with the typical laments like, "Where did the time go?" or "Why did he have to grow up so fast?," because those questions torture my brain.  They have no answers.  However, if I should find the answers after blowing through a box of tissues and consuming bottle of wine, I'll be sure to come back and edit this post. 

One of the year-end projects Benedict was required to complete before graduating was a scrapbook of his life, primarily of his school days, from preschool through eighth grade. (Do you want to see a few glimpses from the early years?? Of course you do...)
{Left: Drooling on the Sears Portrait Studio bear, circa 2001.
Right: I'm smiling 'cause there's a wedgie under these Wranglers, throwback to 2005.}

Anyway, back to the scrapbook.  I must confess, my boys are not crafters. Boys in general don't typically spend their free time browsing Hobby Lobby for coordinating paper and stickers because they prefer to spend their precious free time capturing the epic moments of their middle school years (do they??). So, my boy, he be needin' some serious help with this project.  I'm no helicopter mom, but sometimes certain situations in life call for some hovering.

Anyway, like the professional procrastinator that I am, I was "helping" him cut and paste the last few pictures into the book, while he wolfed down breakfast, the morning the scrapbook was due. Let me just tell you what scrappin' it up at 6 a.m. does for mother-son bonding: Not a damn thing

I blame the last minute cut and paste panic on the thief who stole my laptop a few weeks ago, the laptop which contained a grande file of photos that I had been collecting for the project since last fall. That whole situation temporarily deflated my carpe scrapbook enthusiasm, but whatever Mr. McThief. Karma (or all the saints I've been prayin' to for your conversion's) gon gitcha.  

Moving on....

During the hourrrrrzzz, that I spent with Benedict sorting through endless pre-pimple photos and trying to come up with clever captions to summarize each magic moment, I realized something unexpected.  Every glossy photo-filled page he created tells the story of the life of a boy who the world will probably always categorize as average, but who is oh, so very far from just that.

While we were working together, once in a while I would catch a disappointed expression on Ben's face.  It was an expression that made me wonder if Ben agrees with the world's estimations of him. 

The lack of photos filled with trophies, ribbons, and perfect scores can understandably make a young man wonder why his mother would ever be content to just capture his infectious smile, his strong arms reaching out to hold a sibling, his honoring heart working beside his father all day long in the heat of the summer until the job was done.  

Those are the best things that a mother sees through her lens.  Things the world won't see, but things she'll spend her life trying to convince her son are the most valuable of all.
More than anything in this world, I think that Ben would truly love to be a stellar athlete. I watch in admiration at all of the effort and hard work he puts into every sport he plays.  I just wish I could have gifted him with even a few supreme athletic genes.  I mean, I pretty much knew in elementary school, while all the other girls were doing back handsprings across the playground, and I was just trying to avoid getting chucked with dodge balls by the boys, that I was never going to be any sort of sporty phenomenon. 

Now my husband, on the other hand, is the exact opposite.  He contributes about 90% of every family gene associated with visually appealing coordination, strength and grace.  He's pretty much the total skillz package. Thank the Lord for him, thank. the. Lord.

But, you are young, I say to Benedict. Don't give up! Some of the best athletes started out being far from the best, or great, or even good.  Talent sometimes takes time to develop.  Keep practicing! Your father and I believe in you!.... 

He nods, always nods affirmative, eyes drifting down toward the ground far away from my words, and I know that he cannot find, in his teenage will, the strength to trust what I have said.

I recognize, in our oldest son, that he doesn't need for us to sign him up for more summer camps or music lessons or private tutoring.  He doesn't really even need more encouragement. He just needs a different kind of it.  The real-life unsugar-coated kind.  And, I'm right at home giving him just that, because I know from experience that there's a lot more substance behind being "average" than what the world can see, than what Benedict can see in himself. 

So, I reach down deep into some personal experience, grab my bible, and proceed with the "Big Toe" talk.  

{That is not a typo.} 

For the body does not consist of one member but of many.  
If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body." 
And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body, that would not make it any less a part of the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? 
If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But, as it is, God arranged the organs in the body, each one of them, as He chose
~ 1 Corinthians 12:14-18

As a child I remember wanting to be able to do those back handsprings, too. In middle school and even high school it was volleyball, basketball, academics, music, friendships, you name it, I went for it, but I was never great, just good enough to hang in there with the rest.  I wasn't a heart or brain or spine.  I was a big toe.  

The big toe is a worker, a try-and-try-harder member of the body.  The big toe isn't admirable or attractive, and it stays hidden in a shoe most of it's life.  But, without the big toe, the body struggles to remain balanced, strong, composed.  The big toe holds the body up.  It pushes off the pavement, propels movement, gains ground for the good of the entire body step, by step, by step.

And, if the big to doesn't do what it was created to do, the body is weakened, it's direction is compromised.  Perhaps, at least for now, Ben is being asked to fulfill the role of the big toe.  I want him to know that there is no shame whatsoever in that. In fact it is my life-long prayer for him that he will be able to recognize and embrace with confidence all the ways that God is shaping him as a young man through the gifts He has chosen uniquely for him, and that he will have the courage to live a life of virtue through the offering of those gifts to the world.

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, 
so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members, one of another.  
Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.  
~ Romans 12:4-6

It took me a very long time to figure out that being the toe wasn't so bad.  It took me even longer to realize that what good the toe brings to the world is not for it's own personal gain or glory but for God and God alone (whether we attribute it to Him or not).

Helping a 14 year old understand this truth - that he is created, gifted, and loved for a purpose beyond the self-seeking admiration that the world can give isn't easy.  I'm not sure it ever gets easy for any of us. 

What reward, what praise, what admiration or accolades does the world give to the mother who paces the floor through the night, comforting a fussy baby, who makes sure there is food on the table, clean clothes on backs, who says yes to others a thousand times a day, and just as many times no to herself? 

For you, Benedict, what reward will the world ever give to you for the decision you make every single day to study with perseverance subjects that the smarter kids already have mastered, to shoot free throws until the sun goes down, or to practice your high jump form over and over again knowing that there will always be others who find the height you're trying to reach supremely easy?  

Nothing. The world will give you nothing.  But, the Lord will give you everything, every grace, every mercy, every blessing, because you give HIM everything when you keep trying, keep giving your best every single day, doing what you're meant to do, being who you are meant to be for the Body of Christ.  And the reward for that, which is heaven, cannot even begin to compare to any prize you could ever claim here on this earth.

I'll always believe that there is greatness in our children. What mother doesn't have such faith?! Benedict may surprise us all one day and become a stellar hoop star.  He may graduate at the top of his class, or even earn a scholarship for college (please, God, let it be that!).

But, if he doesn't experience any of those things, if he was indeed created to be the toe that gives balance, support and a quiet strength to the body, then I can only hope that Ben discovers along the path of life just as much joy and fulfillment in living the great purpose of his calling as he would if the world had ever considered him to be above average.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Support, Encourage, Pray ~ May is Lyme Awareness Month

Before we head into the weekend, I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU to each one of you who have so lovingly been praying for my husband, Steve, since he received his Lyme diagnosis over a year ago.  I cannot express just how much your support has encouraged us to keep going each and every day that we press on toward a cure for this terrible disease! Prayer warriors - keep 'em coming!!
Lyme disease is much more prevalent in this country than you might think.  Perhaps today you will encounter someone suffering from the disease and not even realize it.  Did you know that:

*Lyme disease is not a new illness. 
The first infection was described over 5,300 years ago.

* Lyme disease infects 300,000 people per year. 
That's 5,770 cases per week, and 822 cases per day!

* It is the FASTEST growing disease in the U.S.
(with more NEW cases each year than HIV, Colon Cancer or Breast Cancer)

On the outside, to most people, Steve looks like a normal, healthy father.  But, what you don't see is how Lyme is attacking his body on the inside, how his joints ache, his muscles twitch, his memory is failing, his head pulsates with vibrating frequencies and his entire being is completely exhausted from an inability to sleep soundly at night.
We've all seen pictures of the bulls-eye rash, that tell-tale sign that indicates one has been bitten by a tick. For those who discover the rash on their body, antibiotics can be immediately administered and the chance for healing is very positive. Unfortunately, not everyone who experiences a tick bite will develop the typical bulls-eye rash. In fact, fewer than 50% of those diagnosed with Lyme, develop the rash or even recall being bitten by a tick.

Because the Lyme bacteria can lie dormant in the body for long periods of time before becoming active, victims may not develop symptoms immediately after being bitten.  This was the case with Steve.

Lyme disease can be difficult to diagnose, and finding a doctor who acknowledges the presence of Lyme in your state and is willing to help patients seek treatment for it can be even more difficult.  We have visited with dozens of doctors, some of whom believe Lyme is prevalent in our state and others who don't even believe it exists, which is crazy! (We personally know 5 different people in our little community who are suffering from chronic Lyme Disease!)

Because many of the disease's most debilitating symptoms mimic those of other illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis, ALS, Parkinson's, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue and other serious auto-immune disorders, patients are often misdiagnosed.
May is Lyme awareness month.  If you or someone you know has been suffering form any of the symptoms listed above and have been unable to find a successful diagnosis and treatment for those symptoms, PLEASE consider sharing with them about Lyme Disease.  We have spent countless hours researching Lyme disease online. As you know, the internet is a melting pot of good and bad information, and sorting through all of it has been quite a process. A few of the more reliable sources of information that we depend upon are listed below.

If you or someone you know is fighting the good fight against Lyme, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you.

Don't give up!! We can beat this!!

You Can Get Better - Dr. Richard Horowitz

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Breakfast Time With Mr. Blue Eyes - My Morning Cup of Sunshine!

Today I'm blogging from Disaster Zone 5, also known as the guest bedroom/office/school supply overflow room/"if you don't know where it goes, just throw it in there" room.  (Do you have one of those?) Our house is a battle field. Total wreckage every day.  And I know it will all get better just as soon as I grow a third arm and no longer require sleep. So, basically never.  

Okay, super.

How am I handling my opposite of Pinterest life? Welp, first there's wine (of course), but also I'm really just striving to embrace *says between grit teeth* the chaos, to soak in all the laughter and joy that raising six robust boys brings.

Really, how can you even worry about the six inch crack in the wall or bacterial formations taking shape in the bathroom when you've got Mr. Blue Eyes gazing at you from across the room??
Joey has made the early morning hours a much less painful time of day for all of us night owls. His rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes have a way of making the weight of the world light as a feather.  
Check out my pearly whites. They're new. Cute, huh?
Every day the boys and I look forward to breakfast time with Fofalicious, because he really loves to eat, as you can see by the adorable addition of the second chin. (More to smooch!)
Shhh...I'm contemplating making a move for mom's bacon.
Joseph has completely fallen out of love with baby food, and prefers instead to play "I spy with my little eye" everyone else's munchies. Thankfully, his wittle tummy impedes the the extent of his grasp by a good six inches, giving us all just enough reaction time to move any choking hazards or allergy-inducing succulents away from his quick little grasp.

Feeding our babies has always brought me so much joy.  I love to cook, and even though filling eight hungry tummies three times a day can sometimes be tedious, for the most part, I really do enjoy nourishing not just the bodies but the souls of everyone who sits around our table.
Currently on the 10 month old's breakfast menu is Rice Krispies and bananas.  
I love to watch him focus in on the exact piece of cereal he wants and try over and over to pick it up with his chubby little pinchers. 

After about five minutes, feeding himself with the "chopsticks" is obviously not getting the hungry job done.  That's when he throws all cuteness out the window and takes the shove it in by the fist full approach.
Do not try this at home.  Or, on a date.
Oopsie daisy.  Too much, too much.  I think I might gag.  Keep it in, keep it in.
Whoa.  Boys.  That was a close one.
Yeah, baby! Two more months and I'll be ready for cake!

You might think that the baby feeding routine surely gets a little old after having six children, but I can't tell you with enough virtual emphasis that it truly never does.  I love it.  Every time our babies reach a milestone it's special.  To be able to spend my life with our children, watching them grow and develop is a privilege.  Within the sometimes overwhelming challenges that come with raising a big family, thanks to an outpouring of grace, my heart swells with joy and thanksgiving each and every day for these little moments.  They really are the two scoops in the feast of life.

Friday, April 17, 2015

The Restoration of the Summer Lounge Room, Also Known as the Deck

Oh, blessed Friday!!

I've been waking up these past few days to the sound of the birds chattering outside my window. They get cranked up about fifteen minutes before my alarm goes off (grrrrr). My son, George, has offered to apply his bb gun skills to the "problem," but I don't think the neighbors would appreciate the carnage being strung all over the yard.

Anyway, since the tweeting fowl aren't loud enough to break any of the other seven members of the household out of a snore, I'm getting in some good quiet time before the troops arise in hunger. I was thinking this morning about the post I wrote yesterday on suffering and the deep gratitude Steve and I have for those who have helped us out in so many ways throughout the past year.

One act of generosity that truly touched our hearts came from Steve's family.  They gave up two entire Saturdays to help us rebuild our deck.  In the past year, due severe weather, our home has taken quite a beating. Last spring a massive hail storm tore up our roof, garage doors and the screen that wraps around our deck.  Then, just a few weeks ago, a wind storm came through and blew a huge portion of our fence down.

I am convinced that Lyme disease's BFF is Mother Nature, and they are camping out with all of their drama and hostility in our back yard. But we are fighting back, and we've got an army of family and friends who are marching right beside us to help!
Last summer, the floor to our deck began to crumble, and was no longer safe for us to use.  Steve insisted that he do the work himself, but good golly, just Google "neurological Lyme Disease symptoms" and tell me if you think he be a little cray-cray.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn't convince Steve to hire someone to rebuild the deck (the mounting medical bills sitting on the desk, didn't exactly help my cause). Well, when Mr. Fix It's family heard about his plans to rebuild the summer lounge room, they jumped right in and helped him get the job done.

And, get it done they did!
Steve's sister, Jennifer, and her husband, Doug, helped us with the construction and painting, and their kiddos jumped in to lend a hand, too!
Joseph is right at home in Brianna's arms.  She's a natural with the babies, that girl!

The boys were right in the middle of the action and were amazingly helpful.  Any time they are able to work along side their dad, I am so thankful.  Steve taught them how to use the table saw to cut some of the lumber, and each of them took a turn with the drill.
I was so proud of Benedict.  Sometimes I can't believe how capable he is when he's working with Steve.  He can take on a lot of the work that adults do on the farm, including running the equipment and wrenching in the shop.  He handled the variety of tools needed to build the deck with confidence and ease.  He is really going to bless his own family and community one day with all of the skills he has learned from his father.
Of course it wasn't all nose-to-the-grindstone all day long. There was time in between tasks for a few creative projects to be built on the side...
In addition to the deck, I also gained some lovely home accessories including a hat rack, a coat rack, and a gun rack (which is funny, because our boys NEVER hang up ANYTHING, which means they won't get used, and are purely decorative).  
Charlie was quality control master.  For those two days, he ran around the yard and the deck making sure that everything was working properly, the ladder, the tool belts, the saw-horses, the paint brushes.  No one needed to give him a job, because he just put himself in charge of everything and everyone.  

Cutest foreman ever!
I think the paint fumes started getting to George.  Little did he know that doing multiple flips on the trampoline would only make him more dizzy. Or did he know....

Oh, Jorge!!

Now that the work is over, it's time to thank our family properly with some good times on the beautiful deck that they helped us build.  I hope, hope, hope that one of those "good times" is a celebratory toast of Steve being healed from Lyme.  Please keep up the prayers, they are working!!

Pictures of the finished product to come....

Until then, have a great weekend, my friends!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Just When You Think You Can't Handle Any More...Being Robbed Reminds You That You Can

Last week Steve and I traveled to Kansas City so that he could see a neurologist and hopefully receive some answers to the many questions we have about some of his Lyme-related symptoms. By noon, the appointment was over and we were prepared to head home when Steve suggested that we stay for the rest of the day and enjoy some one-on-one time together.

No one had to twist my arm to get me to say Y.E.S. and Amen! The day before we left, I had truly reached a point where I rolled my eyes so hard at life's trials that I swear I could see the sad crusty pony tail that hadn't felt a good shampoo in days sticking out of the back of my stressed out head.

We both needed a break.  Even if it was only for a few hours.

One thing I've always treasured about our relationship is that Steve and I can literally be up to our armpits in the crapstorms of life, and the very second we shake loose from all of the stress and worries, we are able to really let go, to laugh and have so much fun together.

After a blissful lunch at our favorite BBQ joint, we worked off the slab of ribs and fries with a nice long run and some CrossFit.  To top the afternoon off, the NCAA tournament finals were on.  Right next to Jesus, the second two pillars of strength in our marriage are a mutual love for sports and good beer. (Okay, maybe not right next to Jesus, but pretty close.)

We bellied right up to the bar with our favorite snacks and a couple of pints to enjoy the game. It was heavenly.  But, as soon as the game was over, so was our good-time.  As we approached the suburban, happiness was torn from my heart, and I felt it slowly sinking back into the deep.

I couldn't believe my eyes.  Standing in a sea of broken glass, I stared in shock through shattered windows into the empty darkness of our car.

I knew immediately that my purse had been stolen, but I felt somewhat relieved knowing that there were no valuables or cash inside, just a couple of credit cards which could easily be cancelled. But, what I didn't realize, until I returned to our hotel room hours later, was that the thieves had also stolen my laptop.  Steve thought that I had carried into the hotel room earlier in the day, I thought that he had.

That was when I lost it. Really, really lost it.

The sudden rush of anger that flooded my emotions was driven by grief over the loss of hundreds of photos that I would never get back, and also supreme frustration at myself for not taking the time to back them up.

I didn't realize it, but all of the struggles and challenges that life has thrown our way over the past year had been building pressure inside my heart, and being robbed was the final force that broke open the flood gates.

I buried my face in the pillow that night and wept for what felt like hours. I would be lying if I said I didn't wish with all my might for the hammer of justice to slam down upon the person responsible for my misery, because I felt just that.

But one can only be disgusted at another person's sin for so long. I was empty, and when you're empty and completely at the end of your rope, there is nothing that can fill you back up but Christ. (I've tried a variety of substitutes.  Trust me, no es bueno.)

After tossing back and forth in the discomfort of anger and self-pity, I finally submitted my pathetic little heart to the Healer. I begged the Lord over and over again for the grace to forgive the person who had hurt us. I begged him more for the grace to carry with deeper courage and trust all of the burdens and concerns for our family that weighed so heavily on my shoulders.

The next day, we were blessed by a very generous and kind business that was able to fix our windows in a timely fashion so that we could return home to our boys.  While I was on the phone with the bank, credit card companies, and police, trying to take care of serious business, Steve was avoiding chaos by trying his best to get me to laugh at the ridiculousness of our predicament.

Of course he succeeded.
Even though we were only gone for about 24 hours, those hours felt like an eternity.  When we finally arrived home, seeing the boys' beautiful faces and reaching out to hold them tightly in my arms was such a comfort.  Over and over I said to myself, this right here, this is what matters.

That night, unable to sleep, I sat up on the edge of the bed contemplating what Netflix episode and snack was going to help take my mind off of the former days' events.  Exhaling, I stared up at the crucifix on the wall, looking to the Lord for one tiny consolation, anything that would guide my weary, calloused heart, back to a place of trust and confidence.
I felt Him press these words upon my heart:
"Can you not see that it is only in your poorest, weakest moments that the depths of My love and generosity can truly be known?"

At that very moment, I was able to recall every single act of generosity that had been bestowed upon our family, particularly over the past few months....
Holy hours in the middle of the night offered up,
Meals lovingly prepared for our family,
Offers to shuttle our children to and from music lessons and sports practices,
Countless texts, phone calls and e-mails from family and friends who are praying, fasting, or making sacrifices for Steve,  
Hours upon hours of assistance with household chores and child care from family which has made it possible for me to accompany Steve at his doctor appointments.

At that middle-of-the-night hour, my heart was filled with deep thanksgiving, and I was blessed with a fresh perspective on life.  For months I had been so blinded by the anxiety I carried over the problems and challenges that life had dealt our family, that I could not see the Lord loving us all in spite of them.

I understood, more clearly than ever, that the trials of this world will indeed pass, and soon be forgotten. But, what will live on from now into eternity is the way we respond to those trials, and the way that others love us through them.

We are the living, breathing, mystical body of Christ, you and I.  I can barely begin to understand what that means, but I know that I want to be a part of it.

We are His love, His mercy, His generosity in the flesh, and when we give, when we love, when we serve and even humbly receive, His presence here on Earth is not only felt, it is made known to the world, and that is something that cannot be taken from us

Every single hardship, setback, disappointment, loss, grief, injustice and brokenness that we experience is, in a way, a gift.  A gift wrapped up in the opportunity for others to LOVE us, for Christ to love us through others.  

No one wishes for hard times.  It is not in our nature to run toward the cross, toward suffering. Yet, if we can, but for a moment embrace those sufferings, no matter how big or how small they may be, then truly in those terrible moments of poverty, God's GREAT mercy and generosity can be known, if only we will place our trust in Him and allow Him to love us in this way.