Make the Most of Your Time (plus a book in the works)

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

The Greek word translated “your time” in this passage is kairos, which refers more to our whole time here on earth than it does to the minutes and hours in our days. We in the English-speaking world tend to view time like a lap pool at the YMCA — we’re standing at one end, and the thing we want is at the other end — so we simply have to cross the pool as quickly as we can in order to reach our goal (whatever that may be). We do everything we can to beat the hands of the clock. But to what end? If we’re honest with ourselves, most of the time we don’t think much farther beyond the next task. Much less beyond this life. 

Granted, making the most of our time here on earth does require us to live well-ordered lives rather than flying by the seat of our pants and ignoring the ever-ticking clock, but if we only use this portion of Scripture to advocate time management, we’re missing the point. The context surrounding this small passage of Scripture points to something far grander than keeping up with our day planners. Right before these two verses, after contrasting the darkness of sin with the light of Christ, Ephesians 5:13-14 say this: 

But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, 
“Awake, sleeper, 
And arise from the dead, 
And Christ will shine on you.”

That’s why the passage at the beginning of this post starts with the connecting word “Therefore”. In other words, since everything hidden will one day become exposed, we who are in Christ are to walk in wisdom and make the most of our time here on earth — our kairos. Does that include good time management? Absolutely. Is it limited to time management? No. 

Make the most of your life. I can’t say what that will look like for you. I hardly know what it looks like for myself. But here are a couple of thoughts. 

  1. The world has it backwards. Making the most of your life, within the overarching narrative of our culture, means eking out every drop of pleasure you can before you die. It’s all about you. You’re the center of the universe, so the most admirable thing you can do is to check everything off your bucket list before you kick the bucket. That’s a life well-lived. Or so they say. 
  2. Even if you don’t share the self-centered, hedonistic philosophy of our age, you may be struck, as I often am, with the question of “How can I make the most of my life without doing something big?” But as I search the Scriptures and experience life, I am less convinced that God wants us to do something “big” than to live lives of ordinary faithfulness. 

For years I was convinced that unless I was overseas on the front lines of bringing the good news of Jesus to the unreached, I was wasting my life. But while I am still convinced of and passionate about the great and urgent need to reach every people group with the gospel, I no longer consider other callings and other Christians as second class (as I wrongfully did for so long). While God does have “big” things planned for some of us, most of us are called to live lives of simple faithfulness to our Creator and Savior right where He’s planted us. 

If you know Emily and me personally, or have followed our story the past eleven years, you know of the great disappointment we experienced when God made it clear through my disability that He had something in mind for us other than overseas church planting. While I don’t pretend to know the details or reasons behind my great God’s redirection of our lives, I do know that He has called us to walk with wisdom and make the most of our kairos. 

For more than a decade, people have been asking, encouraging, begging and nagging me to write a book. At first, my lazy self could only see it as nagging. They were selfishly trying to read all about the details of my life, I thought. I had better, more important ways to spend my time, I thought. Me, me, me, I thought. But God has convinced me that in serving Him with the gifts, talents, and yes, time that He’s given me, my ordinary faithfulness may turn out to be something kind of “big” after all.  And as it turns out, a book about my story, just like my story itself, isn’t really about me. It’s about God, and the tools He’s using to display His glory and love through my bride and me. 

That said, the intimidation of writing a whole book is perhaps the biggest thing that has held me back all these years, so I’d like to ask two things. 

  1. Please pray for me. I want to write to the best of my ability, but that takes work. And work that’s not physical is something my sinful nature spurns. God has blessed Emily and me with an army of prayer warriors over the years, so I’m asking with confidence. Thank you. 
  2.  Please contact me at lanebargeron@gmail.com if you have any relevant experience with books — writing, publishing, or anything in between (sorry, reading doesn’t count) — and I’d love to pick your brain. 

If you’re in Christ and have been washed by His blood, take a look at your life. Not with shame that you haven’t done anything “big”. Not with arrogance that your accomplishments outnumber those of others. And not with fear that you’ll never be able to do something worthwhile. The world is obsessed with recognition and adulation. Jesus calls us to something higher, something greater than applause from our fellow humans. He calls us to unglamorous, ordinary faithfulness in the mundane of life, that will result in the highest praise imaginable: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

Make the most of your kairos

Eleven Years Later

12/26/12

12/26/12
Snow starts falling lightly in Jackson, MI as we load up our vehicle for the long drive to Charlotte, NC. Christmas was so special yesterday; our first as a married couple. We pass the small evergreen that Lane cut down for us as we walk back and forth from apartment to vehicle countless times. In the car and on the road, the snow picks up a bit. 

12/26/23

12/26/23
It’s been an unusually warm few days for this time of year in Saint Johns, MI. Yesterday’s Christmas was such a nice day that we even took all three kids for a walk around our subdivision. Last night the two older kids slept under the big Christmas tree that Emily’s dad cut down with all three kids “helping” earlier this month. Lane’s caregiver helps him get out of bed, then feeds him breakfast as Emily rounds the kids up for a trip to East Lansing for breakfast with her sister at a local pancake shop. 

12/26/12

12/26/12
The snow isn’t falling so lightly anymore. Here on the interstate it’s getting harder to see what’s in front of us. But Lane feels confident enough to keep driving until the storm passes. We both agree that it can’t last forever, so after a quick stop for gas and Starbucks, we’re back on the road. A pair of cinnamon dolce lattes can do wonders for a young couple’s apprehensions, however well-founded those apprehensions may be. The lines on the road aren’t visible anymore; we grow thankful for the taillights ahead of us. 

12/26/23

12/26/23
Emily comes home with all three kids, some leftovers from breakfast, and a Starbucks drink for Lane, in memory of the one on the road eleven years ago. After feeding Lane his lunch — forkful after tender, routine forkful — Emily puts our youngest down for nap time while our older two revel in yesterday’s Christmas gifts. Lane writes a long overdue blog post using an eye tracker on his laptop. 

12/26/12


12/26/12
The taillights we use to keep track of the road become dim blotches in the whirling snow surrounding us on all sides. Maybe we should take the next exit and see if we can wait out the worst of the storm. The exit signs are even less visible than the fading taillights ahead of us. The last view of our able-bodied marriage is a deadly white storm as our car spins into the path of the semi truck in the right lane behind us. Smash into the rear passenger door. Spin across three lanes and crunch into the concrete median wall. Slam back into the semi truck, this time with the driver’s side front door, only about a foot of material (none of it airbags) between Lane and the Mack truck’s massive grille. 

12/26/23

12/26/23
“Do you know what today is, kids?” They don’t. 
“Today is Life Day!” 
“Life Day? Oh cool, why isn’t it on the calendar?”
 “Life Day is what we call the anniversary of our accident. Eleven years ago today, only God knew if your Mommy and Daddy would be alive.” 
“Oh now I see why it isn’t on the calendar” she responds with an understanding chuckle. 
Our kids have never experienced life without a disabled dad and a caregiving mom. Stories of what we’ve lost and what we’ve gained are fairly commonplace in our home. Our kids hear about God’s faithfulness to us all the time, and we pray they will see Christ for themselves someday soon. 

12/26/12

12/26/12
First responders have to cut us both out of our mangled car using emergency equipment. Emily wakes up with staples in the back of her head and shards of glass in her hair. Thankfully she can still walk, talk, and function normally, but her life is turned upside-down when she hears what happened. Lane wakes up a week later from an induced coma, unable to do anything but panic. As our individual lives and future plans collide with a new and harsh reality, our marriage and trust in Jehovah begin developing roots that extend ever deeper, far beyond the realm of tangible circumstances. Never before has it been more difficult than this, yet the difficulty is what draws us into His arms. 

12/26/23

12/26/23
This has not been a roller coaster ride. Roller coasters start at the highest point and, though they introduce myriad twists, turns, corkscrews and loops, the whole ride is powered by the momentum from that first apex. These past eleven years have had countless twists, turns, corkscrews, loops and all the rest, but we started in a deep valley rather than a momentum-creating peak. In the days, months, weeks and years that have followed, we’ve experienced exhilarating highs and crippling lows, but our heavenly Father is drawing us ever higher and ever closer to His glorious face. Because of our magnificent King Jesus, we victoriously assert that, whether in this life or the next, the best is yet to come. 

What is yet to come for you? At the end of your life, whether tomorrow or fifty years from now, what will you stand to gain or to lose?

Mark 8:36
What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

A Father’s Prayer

Lord, You put me in charge of this family
Help me to lead them humbly and manfully

Thank You for a wife who makes me a better man 
Use me to love her and help me to understand 

As for the three little souls You’ve given to us 
I ask these next things so that in You they’ll trust 

Give me thick skin to weather their childish outbursts 
And a tender heart that comforts all their hurts 

Fill my arms with love that understands how they feel 
And my spine with holy battle-hardened steel

Keep my eyes fixed ahead and free from distraction 
Keep my hands open and ready for action 

Let me be first to confess my own sin
Last to point out any faults in them

Teach me to discipline with a steady, measured hand 
Righteousness comes not through the wrath of man 

Show me when I should step in to protect and intervene 
And when I should step back so as not to be seen 

Don’t let me wound them with things I’ll regret 
Or things I don’t say or do — the wounds of neglect 

They don’t always listen but they never stop watching 
So help me to follow You wherever I’m walking 

I’m just a candle and You are the blazing Sun
So use my dim light to point them to the Shining One 

Save them, Lord. Give them a passion for You 
Use my brokenness to show Your mercies are new 

When the day comes for me to leave them for Glory
Please let my life tell none but Your story 

Healthy Tension

A physical therapist and I were talking goals a few years ago during one of my sessions. I had just finished a butt-kicking round of assisted walking, and the two of us were tuckered out but excited. I had made some big physical gains in the several months he and I had been working together. 

“Lane, if you keep this up I can have you using a walker within the year.” My ears perked up at the suggestion, but I also had reality to face. The presence of a brain that makes my body do the opposite of what I tell it, tethered to the certain hope of a new and perfect body awaiting me in Glory. 

We continued talking as we worked together on more exercises to progress my physical recovery. He told me he couldn’t wait to walk beside me instead of helping me fight to take steps. I told him I was excited for that day too, whether it happens in this body or in my resurrected one when I see Jesus. There was an awkward silence after that, and I’ve experienced that tension in beliefs ever since. 

I still believe that Day will come when Christ makes my body new and fit for eternity, but in the meantime I keep fighting hard in rehab to make as much physical progress as I can on this side of Heaven. Is that contradictory thinking?

A man named Cecil Lotchaway Wasdin (“Lotch”) would say no. He lived a full life that quietly displayed both hard work and simple trust. With him, the two went hand in hand. 

Quiet contentment, trust and tobacco 

I had the great privilege of knowing my great grandfather when I was a child. I didn’t see him very often — he lived in small-town Georgia and we in Charlotte, NC — but even as a young boy, I sensed the great respect with which he was regarded. 

Lotch Wasdin was far from an imposing figure — not particularly tall, muscular or commanding in demeanor. He was as calm and quiet as a tobacco field in the Georgia sun, but as steady as the single caution light in his tiny hometown of Screven. 

One of my chief delights was trying to beat him at checkers (an impossible feat, but I considered it my rite of passage to the world of men). He had a certain way of slowly raising a tin cup to his mouth, sneaking his lips inside and silently depositing a hunk of slimy tobacco. He was a man set in his ways — and while some of those ways left him with stained teeth and an ever-present spit cup, the ways that outlived him became the legacy he passed all the way down to his great grandkids. 

I’ll never forget sitting in an uncomfortable wooden pew listening to his son — my great uncle — deliver his funeral sermon. Not much of that sermon found its way into my fidgety eight-year-old head, but I’ve never forgotten the single adjective my great uncle used to describe his father: content. 

My dad often shares an anecdote that describes Lotch Wasdin’s outlook on life well. He was a farmer, so his fields of cotton and tobacco were his livelihood. But when all the other farmers in town would get together and gripe about how dry the weather was, Lotch would just lean back, cross his legs, (probably spit some tobacco in his tin cup) and say, “It’ll rain when the good Lord wants it to rain.”

Lotch with his wife Lucille

He was content. But he wasn’t lazy. He worked hard in the Savannah shipyards during the Second World War to help supply ships for the war effort. Growing up in the rural South in the early twentieth century, it’s hard to imagine many days he didn’t work hard. 

That’s what you call a healthy tension: remaining content with your circumstances as they are (as Paul modeled in Philippians 4:11-13), while not being afraid to take advantage of better circumstances should they arise (as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 7:20-22).

This healthy tension is one of the things that separates joyful contentment from resigned fatalism

True contentment is active 

It’s easy to rob contentment of its true meaning, and instead use it as a cover for complacence. 

“I’m content with inactivity, why bother trying to find work?”
“I’m content not knowing much about God, isn’t that what pastors are for?”
“I’m content to let others take care of my responsibility, why should I get off the couch?”
“I’m content being physically disabled, what’s the point of therapy?”

And on it goes. We humans have a tendency to glamorize and justify our faults. And we live in a culture that encourages us to celebrate them. Yes, God uses the weak to shame the strong and the foolish to shame the wise (boy am I ever glad about that!), but He didn’t tell us to stay there. He uses us in our weakness and worldly folly to display His greatness, not to give us an excuse for laziness. 

I’m writing this more to myself than anyone else — because passivity is my default mode — but I have a feeling that this will resonate with a lot of my fellow men. Ever since Adam failed to protect Eve from the fatal lie of the Enemy, we men have been particularly prone to make excuses for our passivity. But no, men, don’t point your finger at Adam like he pointed his at Eve. That passive discontentment is what started us all down this spiraling road. 

When I say “contentment is active”, I’m talking about the same basic principle Paul was communicating in 1 Corinthians 7:20-22. Verse 21 in particular explains the rightness and goodness of being content with your life station, while at the same time taking advantage of better circumstances if they come. The point is that Jesus is Lord, so you can rejoice in Him regardless of your situation. But He gives you the freedom to better your circumstances if you can. Either way, the reward is Jesus, not better circumstances. 

Contentment is active, and contentment is joy. But only if your end goal is the Source of all joy. Otherwise you’re chasing the wind. 

Lotch Wasdin embodied a calm joy, an unflappable active contentment. After thousands of conscious daily decisions, it became part of his character. Sitting outside in his folding chair, when it got too hot and everyone else complained of the sun and the skeeters, he’d quietly fold his chair up and sit in the shade. When the rain finally came and the farmers shifted their ire from the dryness to the soggy soil, he’d chuckle and work on something else until the sun did its work. 

My great grandpa Wasdin wasn’t complacent. He was content with what the Lord gave him, and who the Lord is. But when the chance came to better his crops and his life, he took it. 

I’m learning to be the same way with my life. I want to be content with where the Lord has placed me, and rejoice in who He is. But as long as I have the strength to work like a madman in therapy, I’m going to take it. 

Now somebody find me a spit cup. 

1907-2000

TBI Ten Years Later: A Survivor’s Story

I never thought I’d be sitting here writing about the ten year anniversary of my traumatic brain injury. Matter of fact, I distinctly remember seeing an article several years ago entitled TBI Ten Years Later: A Mother’s Story and thinking to myself, “My ten-year story will be about how I used to have a disability.” 

Mine was a different case. I was more determined to get better than the next guy with a brain injury. My wheelchair and my disability were just a couple-year sidetrack to make me stronger, to teach me greater dependence and (ironically) humility. 

Or so I thought. 

When I read that very same article a few days ago to prep for this post, I was struck by the many similarities between my injury and that of the gentleman in the article. I encourage you to read it as well — it will help you understand how earth-shattering an unexpected lifelong disability can be for a person and their family. 

I’m ashamed to say that when I first read that post seven or eight years ago, I foolishly looked down on the difficulty and genuine hardship this man’s long-term disability brought on his loving family. You see, my own pride skewed my view of the world around me and my fellow humans so much that I assumed anybody in my sort of situation with cognitive deficits simply wasn’t working hard enough. It was their own fault. I was better than them.

Years later, it pains me to see those horrible words written out. Who am I to determine whether or not somebody works hard based on their condition? If another disabled person told me I wasn’t working hard enough back then, I would have used some words I’d rather not write for the world to see. Yet this is how I viewed nearly every person with a TBI who wasn’t as “advanced” as I was (which really wasn’t, and still isn’t, all that advanced). The trouble was that I had made myself the standard by which I measured everyone else. As a class act narcissist, this meant that everyone was less than me — disabled or fully able. The Apostle Paul speaks directly to this sort of tomfoolery in Romans 12:3 — 

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

Do you see the contrast there? Inflated view of self OR sound judgment. You can’t have both; they’re opposites. I’ve experienced that dichotomy firsthand. Maybe you have, too. A big head is hard to see around. 

So for my own tenth anniversary of a TBI post, I thought I’d use the same outline (with some minor changes to fit my own story) as the article that revealed my own big-headed narcissism. Here we go. 

Reintegrating Home 

In the early days of the injury I was fond of saying home was wherever Emily happened to be. After all, the only home we had known together as a married couple was an apartment in the Bible school we lived in for the seven months between our wedding and the accident. 

After that, “home” was the ICU in Cleveland, Ohio for a few weeks. Then, “home” was the Sparrow LTACH in Lansing, MI. Our next home was Mary Free Bed rehab hospital in Grand Rapids for eight months (and a week). It was at Mary Free Bed that I first started saying “Home is wherever Emily is.” Our final home away from home was Hope Network in Grand Rapids, a transitional neuro rehab facility where therapy was integrated into most aspects of life. Four months at Hope completed our full year-and-a-half of living in hospitals and facilities. 

From there it was on to… 

Outpatient Therapy 

The first place we lived for more than a year was a wheelchair accessible first floor apartment in East Lansing. From February 28th, 2014 to July 22nd, 2017 we lived happily in a place we didn’t have to share with other people for the first time in our marriage. It was a three-year period that saw our first daughter arrive, marital highs and lows, adapting to life with caregivers in and out of the house, and outpatient therapy at three different facilities. 

Unlike my experience with inpatient rehab, making progress with outpatient therapy required me to take ownership of my own recovery and work on therapy at home as well. Our time in East Lansing was a time of growing up for me (I was only 22 when we moved in) and some hard spiritual lessons. Turns out having a disability didn’t excuse me from being a husband, father and productive member of society. Who knew? 

Getting a Job

One of the big goals of outpatient therapy is community integration, including the workforce. My first two outpatient rehab facilities had vocational therapy, which essentially evaluates the skills and physical abilities of patients to help them find work. 

I quickly grew frustrated with the lack of available options for people like me with no accredited degree and no physical abilities worth paying for. It didn’t take long for me to give up altogether on work. My loving wife had encouraged me since day one of inpatient rehab that therapy was my full time job. While that might have held true at Mary Free Bed, where therapy was 5-6 hours a day and 6 days a week, I began to excuse my lack of productivity at home with the same reasoning. 

So here was my beautiful wife, working full-time as my caregiver and Nyra’s mother, in addition to multiple twelve-hour shifts per month as a nurse at the hospital, and here was I, going to therapy a few days a week for a couple hours each, and spending the rest of my time tooling around on my computer. 

Social media, Youtube, Netflix, pleasure reading on my Kindle app. Though I’d never been one to crave productivity, my bent toward selfish laziness reached a new low in those days. Emily strongly hinted to me more than once that since a “regular” job wasn’t in the cards for me, I might spend my time better by finding ways to get paid to write (the one productive thing I actually could do). After several disheartening dead ends, and realizing that becoming a good writer actually takes (cringe) work, I typed up a desperate blog post asking for help. 

A friend of my wife’s family reached out not long after with an opportunity to write blog posts for his business. That opened the door to the world of freelancing. As the years have progressed, I’ve gained some fun experience and have ended up writing about subjects I would never have predicted. From farm security systems to coconut flavored teeth whiteners, from laser engraving to ozone therapy, freelance writing and editing has taken me all over the place. 

And yet, neither my income nor Emily’s have alone sustained us financially these past ten years. I’m writing this in the fully accessible house in Saint Johns that God miraculously provided for us through the countless donations of money, time, expertise and elbow grease from friends, family, acquaintances and total strangers. Moving to this house in 2017 did not change God’s often surprising financial provision either. 

Friends and Family Relationships 

We would be nowhere without the friends and family God has blessed us with these past ten years. Our parents, siblings and extended families have sacrificially loved us in ways immeasurable since December 26, 2012. I personally have never been as close and open with my parents and siblings as I have been the past ten years. The same goes for my in-laws. I couldn’t have found a better family to marry into. 

As far as friendships go, the accident happened at a unique stage of life for me. I had just gotten married after living in a different state for nearly a year, so some friendships had already begun to naturally die away (as they do for all of us with the passing of time and circumstance). But some stuck. Those have grown stronger, thanks to technology like email, texting and Whatsapp. I can only imagine how different it would have looked twenty years ago. 

I went several years without any deep friendships here in my community — not for lack of opportunity, but because of my own self-pity and excuses. But in 2016 I became involved with a small group of men in our church digging into the Word of God and growing in friendship with each other. Just as that first blog writing opportunity opened the door to a freelancing career, this first group of men opened my eyes to the fact that I was not alone in my confusion, insecurity and desire to lead my family to Christ in a world that doesn’t understand. Since then, God has been faithfully teaching me that even though my situation may look different than others, I’m not the only one going through hard things. And I share a common bond in Jesus Christ with these men. That group in 2016 was the first of many to come. A few of those men and I still share a level of friendship that is uncommon in today’s America. 

Although I’m still not always clear or loud when I speak, it’s encouraging how many people are willing to stop and listen. After ten years, persistence starts to replace insecurity. 

In case you haven’t been able to pick it up from this post or my other posts on our blog, my dear and precious bride has been the human I’ve cared about the most on this road full of steep inclines, declines, switchbacks and unexpected stops. She’s so much more than a beautiful and kind woman in love with her Creator; she is my love and my rock. 

Honorable mention to the three awesome kids she’s brought into the world with me. This little family God created is anything but typical, but I wouldn’t have us any other way. I would die for any member of my little family any day. 

Higher Education 

Here’s another area where my story diverges from that of the man in the article. He was able to return to school and then college, a truly remarkable feat that took an insane amount of hard work and faithful support. I commend him and his family for it. 

Unless you know me well, you probably don’t know that I was planning on going to Moody Bible Institute to get a degree in teaching English as a second language once Emily graduated from New Tribes Bible Institute where we were living. After I got my TESL degree, she and I would go through another year or two of missionary training and move to a closed country to live and die proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Emily already had her nursing degree and was set to graduate from New Tribes in May of 2013. 

But December 26th, 2012 changed all those high hopes and life plans, displaying the truth of Proverbs 16:9

The mind of a person plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.

Since then I’ve been privileged to see two of my own siblings graduate from college, my brother-in-law complete med school and my sister-in-law graduate from two colleges with two different degrees. I’m insanely proud of each of them, and glad I didn’t put all my eggs in the basket of an accredited college degree. 

I consider the past ten years to be a much “higher education” than any I could pay for with dollars and cents. 

Ten Years Later 

Emily and I make it a point to go on a date every December 26th to celebrate and remember all the things God has accomplished in and through us with this disability. Every year I am humbled to look back and see the impact God has made on others through us. This year I was simply blown away. After we ate dinner, Emily pulled out a bag chock full of letters, cards and emails from friends, family and others affected by our story. Come to find out she’d put something up on Facebook about doing this for me. This woman never ceases to surprise me. We’re still getting emails and snail mail from that post. 

Thank you all! It truly is amazing to see the magnificent ways God shows His kind strength and wisdom through our weakness and foolishness. 

Many things have changed since that life-altering day ten years ago, and I can only imagine what the next ten years will hold — whether I live them here in this fallen world or in glory with my Savior. All praise to Him! 
—————

Our greatest supporters & prayer warriors the past 10 years

TEN

Ten

Ten years of an abiding covenant made by a couple of weak (oh, how little we understood just how weak we were when we said I do) sinners madly in love.

 Ten years of God sustaining those weak sinners and holding fast their covenant when everything in and around them threatened to break it. 

Ten years of a love growing into something deeper than either of us could fathom when we wed.

Nine

Nine years of a lifelong disability that redirected our lives and thrust our navel-gazing eyes up to our Creator, Owner and Lover

Eight

Eight brain surgeries that forced us to our knees in prayer and shaky trust in our heavenly Father. 

Seven 

Seven years of being parents — a role full of responsibility, self-sacrifice, laughter, tears, joy, frustration, and just about every other descriptive noun in the English language. It’s the gift that keeps on giving (diaper joke, get it?) 

Six

Six months of official dates before the only six full months of able-bodied marriage we may ever know. 

Were they great months? Absolutely.

 Do I miss able-bodied marriage? Nearly every day.



Would I trade the past 114 months of wheelchair-bound marriage for the ease of those six? Never

Five 

Five Bargerons in Michigan. One import plus one Michigander born with a different last name that God brought together and made into one, plus…
                                                                     one
                                                                                  two
                                                                                                three
                                                                                                           … little natural-born Michigander Bargerons.



Four 

Four parents who sat, cried and prayed with us the day of our accident and have been behind us every day since. Gary and Beth Bargeron, Jim and Debi Davis.
Without these two couples who raised us to be who we are, there would scarcely be two ones. We owe our five, three, two, and health of our ten largely to these precious four.  

Three 

Three amazing and beautiful kids that God has blessed us with and charged us to raise well

Two 

Two weak sinners God has graciously led through the tempest to catch us in His arms of tender love every time we stumble and fall. We spent a little over twenty years of our lives as simply two individuals. But the evening of May 4th, 2012, we became…


One 

One love, one Lord, one marriage, we are one. Anyone familiar with the novel Jane Eyre will recognize one of my favorite quotes —
 “God pardon me!” he subjoined ere long; “and man meddle not with me: I have her, and will hold her.”



What God has joined together, let not man separate

Surprise, Surprise – He Provides

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Matthew 6:25-33 

A Scripture passage like this one is often taken out of context and twisted to mean something other than what was originally intended. 

As a matter of fact, this very passage has been quoted many times to advance the false narrative that God will always give you everything you want as long as you “do your Christian duties”.

The Apostle Paul’s list of sufferings in 2 Corinthians 11 (particularly verse 27) indicates that seeking God’s kingdom above and before all else — and Paul is a prime example of someone who did just that — doesn’t obligate God to give you the easy life. Christ followers are actually promised suffering

As you read the whole chapter of Matthew 6, you’ll notice that Jesus was (and is) primarily concerned with our motives, which is the main thrust of the passage at the top of this page. Don’t be anxious. It’s not doing you any good. God loves you. Your life is in His hands. Seek Him and let Him take care of your needs.

The entire sermon that Jesus delivered on a mountain in Galilee flew in the face of everyone listening, piercing the deepest parts of their hearts (instead of the behavior-based teaching they were comfortable with) — and continues to do so to all who listen today.

 Jesus didn’t speak those words only for the benefit of the crowds thronging around Him. He planned from eternity past that you and I would read them someday. And the funny thing about truth is that it’s not affected by time, distance, language or culture. 

What was true about God and humanity 2,000 years ago on a mountain in Galilee is just as true today wherever it is you happen to be. 


Over the years of my injury, Emily and I have found ourselves constantly worrying, being anxious, and doing anything but seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness. Scroll back up to the words of Jesus at the top of this page. 

What common sense (yet so counterintuitive)! Don’t be anxious, God knows what you need. If He feeds the birds and clothes the ground, He can take care of you who are worth so much more. 

And yet, even though God’s tender daddy care is so glaringly obvious on paper, when the rubber meets the road it’s easy to forget. 

When Michigan passed the law last summer that slashed in half the auto insurance reimbursement rates we rely on for my caregivers, medical expenses, Emily’s income and many other things, worry and anxiety settled in like unwelcome houseguests. 

In the months since that law was passed, God has been drawing us closer to Himself as we’ve been learning to come to Him in faith with our worries and fears. Sometimes we simply cling to the truth as we fight to believe what we can’t always see. It’s not a bad place, however difficult it may be at times. 

But only God has the ability to simultaneously bless and rebuke with a gift. We had just encountered some surprise medical bills last month and were starting to stress about how we would pay them — along with everything else that won’t be covered by auto insurance now — when a friend unexpectedly sent us a significant amount of money. Then another friend did. And another. And another. 

We have been overwhelmed by God’s provision through you who have so graciously given to us when you didn’t even know we needed it. Some of you have said you’re giving us your auto insurance refund from the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, others of you mentioned having more than you need. Still others haven’t said anything at all. But every single one of you has blown us away with your generosity. 

This post is a thank you note. We love you. Keep seeking first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. You’ll never be dissatisfied. 

Bored in the Battle

Think back to when you were a kid. Some of us may have to think farther back than others, but regardless of how long ago we were kids, each of our childhoods probably shared the same drive to flee boredom. That’s what kids do: play, fight, get into trouble, work tirelessly the job of avoiding boredom. 

So when did a child’s job become our society’s obsession? 

We’ve reached a unique point in history in which the principal thing to be avoided is boredom. Here’s the dictionary definition of boredom, so you and I are on the same page before we move on. 

It’s worth taking note of two things in that definition: 

  1. Boredom is a state that’s achieved through lack of interest. That’s probably the most obvious definition, one with which we can all agree. “I’m bored” rarely comes out of the mouth of a kid at the top of a water slide or an adult hurtling to the ground in a skydiving suit. 
  1. What surprised me the most when I read this definition was the first half: boredom is a state of being weary and restless. It’s no wonder we want to avoid boredom. Weariness and restlessness, though they seem to be opposites, both stem from the same source. And I’m about to argue that source goes deeper than lack of interest. 

The quest for happiness 

We humans want to be happy. God created us for it. 

I know some Christians will take that sentence and run in the direction I used to — “God doesn’t want us to be happy, He wants us to love and glorify Him!”

Others will run in the opposite direction — “Yes! Happiness is what life is all about, so a good God would never let us be unhappy.”

Hold on, you two extremes, you. I might write a special blog someday just to show how the two of you can get along — granted you lay aside some of your extrabiblical preconceptions. 

For now let’s sum it up by saying God does want us to be happy, but true and lasting happiness is found in Him alone. 

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word אֶשֶׁר (pronounced “eh-sher”) is translated into English interchangeably as “happy” and “blessed”. And do you know what? Rarely in the Old Testament (or in the Greek of the New Testament), is the word for “happy” or “blessed” ever used in regards to wealth, possessions or occupation. The vast majority of the time, happiness is described as a result of knowing God and being known by Him. More on that in a future post (hopefully). 

Boredom buster

But what does all this happiness talk have to do with boredom? My friends at Merriam-Webster confidently assert that boredom is “the state of being weary and restless through lack of interest”. 

I contest that boredom is the state of being weary and restless through misplaced interest. Augustine of Hippo (a bishop in North Africa in the 4th century) is often quoted for telling God “our hearts are restless until they find rest in You.”

This is true for every human across the board. I don’t care what you do or don’t believe — if you’re searching for happiness, meaning or purpose in anything less than God Himself, you’re aiming too low. 

Until you find Him, you’ll be weary and restless through misplaced interest (Lane’s/Augustine’s definition of boredom). There’s no shortage of things that can interest you for a while, but eventually you’ll find yourself weary and restless through lack of interest (Merriam-Webster’s definition of boredom) in your pursuits.

Just ask King Solomon. When Solomon asked God for wisdom, God gave it to him along with riches, honor and fame. But after chasing every avenue of pleasure and enjoyment that such a life could offer, he penned the brooding book of Ecclesiastes. Ecclesiastes is filled with Solomon’s musings on the futility of a life lived without God at the forefront. In the second chapter he describes how everything — and he tried everything there was to try — is futility without God.

Wannabe kings 

I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark here and guess that most of our readers aren’t wealthy royalty able to test every form of pleasure. Consider yourself fortunate. Solomon would

But as I said, we live in a day and age in which boredom (at least the Merriam-Webster version)  is considered intolerable. I won’t even get into the existential “be true to yourself” worldviews — at least not in this post, maybe that would be better for that happiness post I need to write… 

Philosophies and subliminal Disney worldview messaging aside, the biggest boredom “solution” our culture provides is entertainment. I actually agree wholeheartedly with Merriam-Webster on this definition… 

Take particular note of the words “diversion” and “diverting”. You know another way to say diversion?

 Distraction. And here’s where it all comes together — entertainment, futile pleasures, weary restlessness, the whole lot. Anything less than God (aka everything), when elevated above Him, can only serve to distract us from what we’re missing out on. 

I know all about distracting myself from ultimate reality. I gave into it hard several years ago. And the pull towards mindless distraction still feels irresistible at times. Because it’s easy. Because it’s tangible. 

But distraction only works for so long before reality smacks you in the face

A word to Christians 

God has you and me in this world, wherever we happen to be on it, for a purpose. You don’t have to wonder what that purpose is — He hasn’t exactly kept it a secret. Your purpose and mine is to love God (the more you dive into the ocean of who He is, the more preposterous the idea becomes of Him being boring), and reflect His goodness to the world around us

That’s why I countered boredom with happiness at the beginning of this post. If you don’t fully understand and embrace your purpose in this world, happiness is impossible and you’re left with two-bit distractions. 

Netflix, social media, sports, video games and entertainment in general — while not objectively wrong — make a sorry substitute for the King of the universe. 

Brother, sister, you and I are in the middle of a raging battle we can’t see. Don’t assume your boredom is innocuous. 

A word to those without Christ 

Your life is not meaningless. Nor is it without purpose. But, just like Christians, you do not determine either one. 

Truth is not dependent on experience. Nevertheless, take it from a man who’s suffered nearly ten years of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual turmoil: the “meaning” and “purpose” touted by our society is like a 2-D picture of a Taco Bell sauce packet compared to the shining royal feast of Jesus Christ. 

I wanted to test a hypothesis I had just now, so I Googled “what is the purpose of life”. I wasn’t surprised to discover the entire first page was full of articles with the depressing news that we each have to decide our own purpose in life.

 It’s not that independence and autonomy are inherently depressing, but if I’m the one who determines my own meaning and purpose, that implies I determine my own worth as well. 

Here’s what I mean. I had a good friend who decided that his purpose in life was to make other people happy. A noble purpose, it would seem to all. After all, he was generous, kind and friendly to nearly everyone who knew him. But whenever he failed in his self-made purpose and let someone down (or was let down by someone), he was shaken to the core. He told me this himself.

Meaning, purpose and worth are all inextricably linked. My friend tied them all up in the happiness and approval of others. There’s no shortage of things you can find to “be your purpose in life”, no shortage of ways you can “find meaning”. 

But if you are the sole determiner of your meaning, purpose and worth, just a light breeze is enough to topple you to the ground. We humans are awfully fickle. 

For you to truly matter, your worth must lie outside yourself. For your worth to withstand changing opinions and changing times, your worth must lie outside your fellow fickle humans. There must be an objective standard of worth beyond human capacity. 

There is. He’s the One who made you in His image, put a conscience in your heart, a law in His Word. And He’s the One who took the punishment you earned for breaking that law (as we all have). 

You don’t have to stay weary and restless through misplaced interest. Jesus will give you rest. Come to Him.

Healed.

“God wants you healed.”

“I know God doesn’t want you in that wheelchair.”

“God told me you’re going to walk again.”

It’s a common refrain, variations of which Emily and I have heard countless times from dozens of people over the course of my disability. I’m fully convinced that every person offering to pray or prophesy physical restoration for me these past nine years has done so from the best intentions and deep convictions.

From the stranger at Aldi “praying healing” over me, to the Oral Roberts disciple earnestly laying a prayer cloth on me in the park with the simple explanation of “Acts 19:11-12”, to the loving friends and family determined to get me able-bodied again (with a little of God’s help), there has never been a shortage of people concerned about my recovery.

And before I go any further with this post, let me honestly, earnestly, humbly thank the hundreds of people (many of whom we may never know on this side of eternity) who have and do pray for my physical recovery. Without your appeals to our Father, only He knows if I would even be writing this right now. Your care for us is humbling.

A boomerang goal

The first two years of my injury were the years when my prayers mirrored those of many so-called “faith healers” and prophesiers. My highest goal in life back then was simply to regain what I had lost — like throwing a boomerang.

To my mind in those days, the greatest reward and blessing God could possibly bestow on me was to bring me full-circle right back into my comfort zone — a boomerang blessing landing me in the same spot I’d been for the first twenty-one years of my life.

I was going to get better, I was going to get everything back to the way it was pre-accident, and by golly nobody was going to tell me otherwise!

But when I told my therapists and doctors that I was going to walk out of the hospital in six months, they all gave me a polite nod and smile, and all — with no exceptions — said the same deflating phrase: “That’s a good goal, Lane. Keep up that determination.” Nine years later I can see now that there was nothing better to be said. What do you tell a kid in a fresh wheelchair who says he’s going to get out of it before the year’s up?

Acceptance is risky

It took me years to accept the fact that a traumatic brain injury is much bigger than a short health detour; it’s a full-on life redirection. Matter of fact, it wasn’t until I stumbled across this blog post by Vaneetha Risner in 2016 that I first began to actually acknowledge instead of ignore what was staring me in the face: a lifelong disability.

Acceptance of a hard fact — like a lifelong disability, a terminal illness, a loved one’s death, a broken relationship, or any number of things we wish we could change but can’t — presents the opportunity for one of two opposite paths:
  1. Hopeless fatalism
  2. Determined contentment

Take note of the first words in each of those path options, they make all the difference.

Hopeless or determined

The first, hopeless fatalism, is the path of least resistance. When I first accepted the fact that my “boomerang” would probably never come back, I gave in hard to hopeless fatalism — “If my lot in life is to be in a wheelchair with no way to help myself,” I reasoned, “why bother trying?”

My progress in therapy, my interactions with therapists, caregivers, family and friends all greatly suffered. I began to “cope” with mind-numbing entertainment and constant inward bitterness. Relationships, special events, even the days themselves simply became things I had to endure in order to get back to my favorite pastime of nursing bitter hopelessness. It became remarkably easy to slide into numbness.

The second path, determined contentment, does not come naturally (hence the word “determined”). It’s a daily, an hourly, a moment-by-moment conscious decision. The Apostle Paul spoke directly about contentment in Philippians 4:11-13

Not that I speak from need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with little, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.


Quick side note on a soapbox here. You’re probably familiar with that last sentence, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Contrary to what televised sports players and Hobby Lobby wall hangings would have you believe, this verse does not mean that Jesus will help you do anything you put your mind to. No, the true meaning of this verse in its context is far more beautiful, meaty and meaningful than a spiritual psych-me-up. A cursory look at Paul’s life in the New Testament will show you he was the farthest thing one can be from a motivational speaker or athletic marvel.

Paul himself was first to acknowledge his own weakness and suffering. In 2 Corinthians 11:24-30, he lists just some of the ways he had suffered in his life as a follower of Christ. It’s a long list, and full of things you and I can only pray we’ll never have to endure.

So how could Paul be content, I mean truly content, in the midst of such awful circumstances that would reduce me to a puddle of hopeless fatalism? In Philippians 4:12 (right before my soapbox verse), Paul said “I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.”

The secret of contentment (hint: it’s no secret)

Before Paul mentioned learning “the secret” of how to live both with too much and with too little, before he even started talking about circumstances at all, he says this in Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all people. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

In an email exchange with a friend going through her own physical suffering a couple of years ago, I asked for her thoughts on the difference between acceptance, contentment and fatalism: a conundrum I’d been trying to wrestle through for years. She said this — “I’ve found there is great contentment in acceptance, but it’s easy to slip into fatalism save one thing–gratitude.”

That aligns perfectly with Paul’s exhortation in verse 6 to reject anxiety by making your requests known to God with thanksgiving. Even before that, Paul sets this whole section up with the words “rejoice in the Lord always [aka in every circumstance, easy or hard]” in verse 4. How and why can we rejoice in the Lord always? Read on, Christian. Verse 5 says “The Lord is near.

That was Paul’s “secret”: Jesus. But as simple as that sounds — and as simple as it is — rejoicing in the Lord, trusting Him and choosing contentment are not natural (or easy at first). It’s a learned lifestyle that begins with a single choice and leads to a thousand daily choices. Paul learned this the hard way, over a lifetime full of unspeakable suffering. Emily and I have been in the throes of learning it for the past nine years, and we hope at the end of our lives to look back and also say, “I have learned,” as Paul did.

Healed, yet craving wholeness

The desire for physical and mental wholeness is something that I believe God planted in all of our hearts for a purpose. Every time you or I get sick, we long to get better. Every time we lose something, we yearn for the days before it was gone. Every scar from past wounds, every illness, every physical imperfection, every forgotten memory, every lost ability, points to our incompleteness.

It wasn’t always so. God designed humanity to live in perfect harmony with His perfect presence. But when we chose fleeting pleasure over lasting treasure, we became incompatible with perfection. Enter insecurity, greed, envy, strife and everything that goes along with trying to attain for ourselves what is impossible to reach on our own. We tried to reach God by becoming our own version of Him, sparked by the lie in the Garden. But human history will show how unsuccessful we’ve been.

For humanity to reacquire the state for which we were designed, God Himself had to become one of us. He took each one of our slaps in His face, each one of our sorrows, each one of our “secret” sins, on His shoulders and died at our hands.

But then. He defeated death and burst forth victorious from the grave, becoming the first of us to receive a glorified — as it was created to be in the beginning —body.

Because God became one of us, we no longer have to try being Him.
And the glorious body in which He was raised is just a foretaste of what’s in store for us who trust in Him when He returns and makes all things new. It took a traumatic brain injury for me to truly start craving the wholeness of the new body He has waiting for me on that glorious day.

But in that craving, in that learning of contentment, in that shaky but growing trust In Him, I am healed.
How about you?

Lael Joy Bargeron

I’ve got sunshine
On a cloudy day
When it’s cold outside
I’ve got the month of May
I guess you’d say
What can make me feel this way

 

My girls. Wow, we have two now! 

 

Sunday – October 24th, 2021

“Any prayer requests before we get started?” Our small group leader asked as he looked around the circle of chairs. 

“Emily could have our baby as soon as this week or next,” I offered. 

Oh, that’s right! I thought so! She looks so good! — Came the happy whispers. Everyone smiled. They all knew we were expecting. It’s hard to hide the fact that  a human is living within the confines of your wife’s abdominal region. 

Our whole Sunday school class joined together in prayer for Emily and our baby. 

Monday – October 25th, 2021 

Stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp.  “Good job Ny, let’s do it two more times.”

Jackson ran into my room and said “Daddy, let’s get on the excavator!” To a three-year-old the very different concepts of elevator, excavator and alligator become a little muddled when one of them tries to pass from brain to tongue. 

“Why do you want to go on the elevator, buddy?” I rolled out to see Emily and Nyra stomping up the stairs. They reached the top slightly breathless, and Emily caught my eye.  “Exercise helps naturally induce labor,” she grinned as she and Nyra headed back down the stairs. 

“Come on, Daddy! Excavator!” I did my best to assure Jackson we didn’t need to go downstairs with them. 

Later when we were all gathered together for prayer time, we decided to pray just for Mommy and Baby. Nyra prayed specifically, as she had been for months, that Mommy wouldn’t need another C-section.

Tuesday – October 26th, 2021 

3am is mighty early to wake up, but the words “my water just broke” are like two pots of coffee injected directly into the bloodstream. Emily got out of bed to clean up, get dressed, call her sister, and let my caregiver know the time had come. 

Within a couple hours, Emily’s sister drove her to the hospital, Emily’s mom came to watch the kids, and I tried to catch a few precious winks until my caregiver arrived. 

I recognize there’s a small section of society (namely every single mother in existence) that enjoys labor stories, but I’m going to skip that part and get to the good stuff. Sorry moms. 

My wife is amazing. You may recall from seven lines ago that stuff started happening at 3 in the morning. It wasn’t until 13 hours later that our beautiful third child was born. 

We didn’t find out what this one was going to be, but we were all 90% convinced it would be a boy. So when tiny Lael (Lay-EL, not Lahl or Lail) Joy appeared, we were over the moon and instantly in love. 

One night in the hospital, two cafeteria meals and lots of medical tests later, we finally got to take our precious little girl home to meet her big brother and sister. 

I was a little nervous at first that Nyra would be jealous of another girl in the house, or that Jackson would be upset about no longer being the baby. But God continued to show His faithfulness to us even in small ways. Both of Lael’s older siblings immediately took on their roles like they were born for her. 

 

It’s really something else to have a newborn in the house again, especially with two other littles. But we’ve been astounded watching how being a big sibling can change a kid in the best ways. 

While we do anticipate many fights, arguments and disagreements to take place in the years to come between these three, we’re also encouraged and excited to watch them grow together in friendship and love that only siblings can understand. Bring on the inside jokes, kids. Mom and Dad are ready to “not get it”. 

Our sweet little Lael Joy, we’ve been praying for you like we’ve been praying for your brother and sister. Praying that your heart will grow bigger every day and that God will fill it with a longing that won’t be satisfied by anything but Him

And we won’t stop. Friends, family, casual blog readers, would you join us in this? 

P.S. We’re so grateful for the ways many of you are surrounding us with love and encouragement right now. With not being able to cook myself, the meal train is more of a blessing than words can adequately describe. A load off my & Emily’s back as she is able to spend more time with the kiddos and focus on recovering/transitioning to Mama of 3. Emily wouldn’t share this directly but I will, for those of you that would like the link. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you.