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Are You There God?

Are You There God?

Have you ever felt like in the midst of your own personal hardship that God had taken an extended vacation? Have you cried so hard your knees hurt for God to reveal himself… 
“any small sign will do, Lord”.. yet.. nothing? Are you there, God?

It’s easy to feel God’s presence when life is clicking along, when your work, home, church life are synced in perfect harmony. It’s easy to see God in the success of your job, in the achievements of your children, when the world is spinning around without much conflict. But in the challenging times, heartbreak, loss, that unwanted diagnosis, riots, shootings, racial injustice, division, financial ruin, pandemic (the list can go on) we often struggle to see our Creator. Are you there, God?

Proverbs 20:12 says “Ears that hear and eyes that see— the Lord has made them both.” While I’m not certain I have heard the voice of the Lord, I have most definitely seen His presence, even in times when my eyes could not see.

In the Fall of 2002 my life was seemingly perfect. I was newly married, working at my “dream job” and in the process of building our “dream home.” Everything was moving along as planned. My biggest dilemma was deciding which restaurant to eat at on Saturday nights. My husband, Mark and I talked about expanding our family but we both agreed to wait a few years. It’s funny how we strategically write out our lives and God comes along and tosses our day planner into the wind. “You know I’m in charge here, right?” Soon after this conversation we found out we were expecting. Even though this wasn’t a part of my perfectly planned year, we were both ecstatic. I had visions. I knew we would have a boy. I just knew he would have white blonde hair and beautiful blue eyes. I had a seemingly perfect pregnancy. However, something in my gut told me to pray for my unborn son, specifically that he would not be born with a cleft palate. Now, I know this seems silly in the big scheme of things, but I felt the urge to pray every time I got in my car (which was a lot!) Boldly, I prayed, “Lord Jesus, I humbly ask that our baby boy is not born with a cleft palate.”

Fast forward to July 8, 2003, Mason John Weinberg came into our world three weeks early. He was a beautiful baby with a head full of white blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Just as I had planned. Ha! After many hours of concern from the medical staff, we learned our son was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Say what?! Down syndrome? I thought only older moms had babies with Down syndrome. I didn’t understand as we were healthy 27 year olds. Is he going to die? Why God, why would you do this? Is this punishment from my past sin? Are you there, God?

So many emotions raced through my mind. Heartbreak, grieving the child I thought I had, and anger towards God. This can’t be, this isn’t a part of my plan. I kept praying God would show up and take this diagnosis away. I was mad and felt betrayed. Why would God create a baby that was destined for ridicule in this cruel, broken world? Are you there God?

Weeks later, I realized that my eyes were as good as blind. It wasn’t until I took off my Holy blinders and saw in the midst of questioning God’s untimely vacation from my life that He was in our hospital room the entire time. The doctor that initially told us of Mason’s diagnosis asked if he could pray for us. This kind man just happened to be the doctor on call .. and was an active board member of our local Down Syndrome Association. Hmmm. The next day, we requested to see the hospital minister to bless our son. Who would have thought this young father had a two year old daughter with Down syndrome. God, how did I not see you? My lactation nurse, who became a staple in my life for months to come was a proud new Grandma to a baby boy.. can you guess what he was born with?

I know this was no coincidence. God strategically placed these people in our path to show us we were not alone, that He was with us. Ears to hear and eyes to see.

In 2007 Mason had a quick procedure to remove his adenoids. Afterwards, our ENT explained how fortunate we are that Mason didn’t need his tonsils removed. “You see, it seems he was forming a cleft palate in utero.” I’m not sure how, but it fused together,” he explained. Are you there, God? Why, Yes, I am.

To say I was blown away would be an understatement. It was as if God took me by the shoulders and said, “my child, do you see Me, do you hear Me? I’m here.. with you.. always.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, plans to give you hope and a future,” Jeremiah 29:11.

Friends, God is with us. Even when we feel like He’s checked out or too busy to hear our prayers. Even when our lives come to a screeching halt from the darkness of this broken world. Sometimes we need to escape the dense fog and the constant buzz in our minds. We should open our ears and our eyes. Only then can we fully experience God’s Holy presence.

I love the song “There Was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton. The chorus reminds us that he is with us always.

In the waiting, in the searching

In the healing, in the hurting

Like a blessing buried in the broken pieces

Even minute, every moment

Where I’ve been or where I’m going

Even when I didn’t know it

Or couldn’t see it

There was Jesus

Today, Mason is a thriving 17 year old that loves his family, friends, school and sports. He can tell you any statistic about most college and professional football and basketball teams. He is funny, smart, strong (he can beat most at arm wrestling) and loves Jesus. If we could only have unabashed faith like Mason, this world would no doubt be a more peaceful place. Mason doesn’t see race, disabilities or what society says is “normal” or perfect. He sees the heart of others. I am so thankful for the gift of being Mason’s mom. God has blessed our family.  He gave Mark and I the ability to see perspective, to not sweat the little stuff and to trust that God always has our back. He gave our other boys compassion.  I am not sure they would have without Mason as their brother. Mason is a light and brings joy into our lives and everyone he meets.

Friends, God loves you. Grab a hold of His hand. Will your path have bumps and turns that throw us to the ground? Yes. But God never promised us it wouldn’t. Open your eyes and listen closely, you will notice the beautiful presence of our Creator every step of the way.  Ears to hear, eyes to see.  God bless you.

Nov 29, 2020

So helpful to receive a reminder of such hope and love.

Bob Knapp
Nov 24, 2020

Your message helped me to see and hear what I have been missing. In the grand scheme of things, just give me Jesus!
Amen.
My late husband’s name is Jules

Linda
Nov 24, 2020

Thank you for sharing. God wanted me hear your story this morning.

Rowena
Nov 24, 2020

What an amazing testimony to the fact that God will never leave us or forsake us!!!

Hattie Miller-Warner
Nov 18, 2020

Thank you for sharing! Needed this today!

Ana VL
Nov 18, 2020

Julie, Thank you for sharing your testimony! I remember meeting you when Zoe and Mason were babies! Wow time has flown by and there already teenagers. Zoe keeps me humble and yes, glad to say she drives me into the arms of Jesus daily! So thankful that our beautifully created children brought us together.

Debbie Gelinas
Nov 18, 2020

Wow, what a beautiful story!!! A reminder to look for the creator in the mundane or even dark places. Interestingly I took my dog for a walk yesterday and there was a boy sitting in a car who said hello to me. I didn’t see him in the vehicle and would have kept walking. His name was Hunter and he had Down Syndrome. He was waiting to go to school. He was in High School and he was excited. He loved my dog and told us he loved us. ❤️ Who tells a perfect stranger that? His Mom came out and was smiling and said he’s not suppose to talk to strangers but she knew I was safe and she said he loves dogs. It made my day, I was actually grumbling about my life at the time when Hunter interrupted with a friendly hello!! ❤️ Yes, God is always with us!!!

Linda
Nov 18, 2020

This is beautiful and made me cry. There are blessings all around us if we pay attention. Interesting how we get that feeling. I have twins but had a feeling my boy would have health issues and used to pray for him to be ok. He struggled from birth with health issues, but has taught me so much about myself and my own struggles. Such a beautiful article. Xo

Susan FARINAS
Nov 18, 2020

Thank you…….hearing your story was so needed today, in this very moment. God is good all the time……

Olga
Nov 18, 2020

What a testimony to faith, Gods love and his miracles. Thank you for being so authentic and sharing your story.

Jen Bishop

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