Tuesday, November 20, 2012

an open email to the sisters (and brothers) in Christ

I have been so blessed to be leading a prayer group for moms at our school this year. When I was approached by our principal about it during the summer, I was fairly terrified of saying yes, however after prayer, nudging and confirmation from my Father, I did say yes. This email is one of several I have sent out to my Moms in Touch prayer group. We meet each Friday to pray for our school, our children, and so each Thursday I send out a reminder email and try to throw in some encouragement or something that the Lord has put on my heart to share with my praying momma sisters. This particular email came in response to a particular situation in my life that He compelled me to share a portion of, and as I heard back from a couple ladies, it's not a struggle that is mine alone. That being said, I feel the need to share this letter here as well, to encourage my sisters in Christ (and any brothers that may be reading). We are in this thing together, yet we each have different roles to play, as intended by God... I won't rewrite the email up here... just know it was written to a specific group of ladies, but the majority of it applies to the entire body of Christ:

Hello praying mommas!

I hope you are having a good week with the Lord. Even if the week has not been so good, my prayer is that you've felt His presence all the same, if not even more. I am sad to say that I will not be able to pray with you tomorrow, as I will be spending the day with my mom and my aunt, however I leave you in the sweet and capable hands of Melissa Khan. There will be a few others also I already know cannot attend, so those who are able please come. I'm sure the 3rd, 4th and 5th grades will be blessed by your prayers over them. Our attribute of God this month is that He is our strength.

If you were wondering why the whole "don't let anything steal your joy and therefore your strength" thing was so heavy on my heart last week, you weren't the only one. I knew there had been some frustrations in my week, some letting go of my joy, and therefore my strength. I've come to know that last week was preparing me for this one, involving a very discouraging Tuesday. I can say by that afternoon, my joy was gone without a trace - and so my strength went right along with it. I won't go into details here because they aren't for sharing, but I do want to share with you what has happened in my heart since praying with a wonderful, wise, loving mentor on Tuesday night. God is using this to change me.

"Comparison is the thief of joy." ~Theodore Roosevelt

I'm not talking about clothes, cars, jewelry, houses, waistlines or any of that, although we all know that these types of comparisons can and do diminish our contentment and cause us to focus on our lack. I'm talking about something much deeper, something lasting. I'm talking about our spiritual gifts, our ministries, what the Lord leads us to or calls us to do and about how hurtful it can be to have our's compared to another's. This kind of comparison can make you feel small, ineffective and worthless to the cause of Christ. I understand well the feeling of being passionate about something, and I know it's easy to want your passion to be contagious - so that others share the same passion. But when we read Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 12, starting in verse 4, we can see that God's plan is not for us all to have the exact same passions:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues,[a] and to still another the interpretation of tongues.[b] 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by[c] one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

When we compare what God has placed in our lives, on our hearts, what good deeds He has given us to do with what He is doing through others, it takes away from the overall goal we all do share which is making much of Jesus. What if instead of making comparisons we celebrated our different callings, leadings, gifts, passions and encouraged one another in using them for His glory, so that much may be done in His Name? What if, instead of attempting to impose our walks on others, we could simply say to one another, "I see what He's doing in you and through you. Isn't He amazing?" being free to celebrate that and then go about the perhaps very different purpose he has for us?

You know by now about me that I love to scour blogs for encouragement and wisdom. Now make no mistake, I realize no blog writers can impress into my heart wisdom like the Word does, but I can say that He has spoken to me through plenty of blog posts. Here's a bit of what I discovered last night on

"It doesn't matter how many people you lead or influence, if you ever see the fulfillment of your dreams, or if you measure up to some perfect standard. It matters most - and to the most important people - that you are faithful in the unseen, in the daily things. Those things matter because they add up to a God-filled life." {from a post titled Enough on 11-9-11}

"...Which is best? They're all best. There is no mold, no right way of showing Jesus for where the Spirit is, there is freedom. And He has made us all different, combining us to all make a collage, that when you step back and look you suddenly see: It's Jesus! {from a post titled Different Strokes on 4-1-2011 where she compares the body of Christ to the different mediums involved in art}

Again, this may only be something I'm currently dealing with, but I imagine that all of you will at one point or another if you haven't already.

So let me say to each of you, I may not know a specific good deed that any of you have done for the Lord lately, and I may not know what He's led you to accomplish with Him, or what He has caused to be a passion in your life. But I have seen glimpses of each of your hearts as we pray together for our children, and my dear sisters, I know full well that He's working through you. And I celebrate that with you right now! Let's support and encourage one another, for we are each a part of His plan, a part of His story. Let's use what makes us different to make much of Jesus...

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. {Hebrews 10:19-25}

And borrowing from Christine Hoover at
www.gracecoversme.com again, "You there, with your unique talents, passions, and gifts. Go in grace and freedom. Tell them about Jesus with your life."

Choosing His joy and strength,

PS A few things on strength:

"Really - if nothing can separate me from the Love of the Lord - can anything separate me from the Joy of the Lord?
If the joy of the Lord is my strength, then why let anything steal my strength?" -Ann Voskamp

Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Philippians 4:13 {MSG}

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. 2 Samuel 22:33 {NIV}

let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. 1 Chronicles 16:10-11

Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. 1 Chronicles 16:27

Saturday, October 20, 2012

it's not my story, it's His

the Lord is compelling me to share this story - one of His many stories - although a part of me doesn't really want to. Maybe it's the private side of me or the prideful part of me, as there is some shame on myself in the story. Either way, He wants it told, wants it read, so I will write it.

For several months now we've been visited each week, once and sometimes more, by an older man who lives near our house. A little north and a little west of our house, on a street that ends up on the local news sometimes and for not good reasons. The first time he came was when Jonathan still worked from home at our dining table. The man simply stood out on the sidewalk looking in the dining room window until he caught Jonathan's attention. He said he needed food or money or both. Neither of us had a bit of cash, a problem with debit cards I suppose, so Jonathan fixed him a meal. Before we knew it Miles came back from his room with a few dollars to give to the stranger.

Soon he came back and kept coming. He wanted to work for us in exchange for money. He wanted us to call him Shorty and after a while he told us he hoped he could depend on us for regular work. We don't know much about his life, how he got to this point. All we know is that he rents one side of a duplex from someone who seems to change the rules all the time and take advantage of his tenants. And we know that God sent him to our door. So the deal is this: he comes once a week to work outside and we pay him for that work with a bit of money and some groceries and a meal before he leaves with a "cold drink" which he'd rather not be water.

Shorty usually comes on a set day each week when Jonathan is here and can handle things with him. Sometimes he shows up unexpectedly when the kids and I are alone and although I try to fight it, it can still make me feel uncomfortable when he does, maybe more accurately I feel frustrated. Yes, that's it. Frustration. See the shame?

So now for the story the Lord wants you to read. That's right, all that you've read so far is just leading up to the real good part. Back in early September {yes, I've kept this story to myself that long - for several reasons}, Jonathan was in Nashville for his work for a few days. It was a rough week for me with trying to get the kids to school {on time would be nice} and homework and sibling struggles and dinner and Wednesday night church and my nursery work and one of my own throws up behind the nursery counter during check-in and I'm just a little tired and a lot overwhelmed by Thursday afternoon. I put Milla down for a nap, made sure Miles and Ella were occupied and I had Elijah bring his math homework to do next to me as I tried to rest on my bed for a while. After a little while I slept between questions on circumference and the rest was so nice for this weary mom. Then Ella ran in with, "Mom! Mr. Shorty's at the door!" And I was frustrated and tired and I did not want to deal with him right then, did not want to go to the door.

But I did go to the door, though not without a heavy sigh as I approached it. The kids heard the sigh. I opened the door and said, "You're supposed to be here tomorrow" and he says, "Oh, well what is today?" and I say "Thursday." He said he was confused about the day and I believed him because really, when you wake up each day "when the Lord wakes you," as he says, and you set out in search of work and food for that day, I imagine the days do sort of blend together. I explained that Jonathan would be home late that night and that he should come back tomorrow for work. He said ok and then asked, "You got anything good?" I did not have any cash but I told him I'd get him some dinner. And I closed the door and I sighed again because I was tired of the needs of the children in my house and I felt overwhelmed by the needs on my doorstep. Milla was still sleeping and there was hope for my nap to continue...

As I gathered food for him {four Sister Schubert sausage rolls, chips, two packages of cheese on club crackers, two granola bars and an oatmeal cream pie} along with a plastic cup of root beer on ice, I wondered about his t-shirt because I had not seen him wear it before. I became strangely curious about it as I took his dinner out to him, handed him the drink. I told him to come back the next day at the usual time {between 10 and 11:00}. As he walked off I saw that the back of his black shirt read SERVANT in a white box and above that it said www.iamsecond.org. It might as well have been the hand writing on the wall and I knew it was a message for me from my Father.

I shut the door and I texted my man of my shame and about the shirt. I got online at the website, because I needed to know what the front said. I found the shirt and it's words went right through me as the front read "I choose to serve.."

Keep in mind that Shorty can't read. At all. He had no clue what that shirt said, unless he had asked someone. He had no idea he was a messenger of the Lord for me with that shirt. I was quickly and keenly made aware that I am also to choose to serve. I am to serve because He tells me to and I am to serve when He tells me to and I am to serve who He tells me to. For now I am to serve my husband and children, I am to serve my congregation as co-director of the nursery {which is not a position I had in mind to go after, He compelled me to take it}, and He also handed me the lead role in the Moms In Touch prayer group at school {which was frightening to me, really}, and we are to serve our little, old-ish Shorty... even if he shows up when I'd rather he not and even though he never says thank you.

The Lord also impressed on my heart that day that as He uses us to bless Shorty, he also uses Shorty to be a blessing for us. My very busy, working-all-hours-to-build-a-business husband has not once this year had to take the time to mow the yard. The jasmine has been kept cut back, the sidewalk swept, the weeds kept out of the monkey grass and the whatever it is we have beside the cars, and the cars have been washed. I have come to find out that Shorty also has one other family that he works for regularly - an elderly couple. So his shirt was absolutely right, he is a servant. He told me recently, as he pointed heavenward, "I just do what He gives me to do." Yes.

It's interesting that since I accepted the nursery position God has been bringing words about service to me. He knew full well {of course} the encouragement I'd need to obey Him in this way. I've actually been told that it's not at act of service since it comes with a {small} paycheck. I'd challenge anyone to try it and see if they agree it's not done to serve others. He brought Romans 12:11 to me just as I accepted the role, "Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically." He brought 1 Corinthians 13:12 to my heart in a different way, "Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am known" because I am to trust that there is more going on than I can see, that what He gives me to do, however small it seems, makes a difference for Him.

On Tuesday mornings we are studying James by Beth Moore and on last week's video she said that we don't have to go out in search for something to do for Him, but that He will bring it to us and she cited John 15:16, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last..." and I have seen how true this is as He puts things on my heart and compells me to take on roles for Him and as He brings needs right to my doorstep. And so I will kept listening to Him alone to know how He desires that I serve Him, and I will do what Shorty does and "just do what He gives me to do," and I will remember the shirt that reminded me to serve...

the shirt I have not seen him wear again...

Thank You, my Father for speaking to me through Your Word and through Your Spirit in me and with a t-shirt on a man who cannot read what it says. You are amazing.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dear me at sixteen.

Dear me,

 You are so young, so tiny, so new still to the world, to this life. Oh, and the world? It will attempt, many times with great success, to beat you up and drag you down. Please, please find this scripture and cling to it with all that you are:

 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2

 Seriously. Get. This. In. Your. Soul - wanting to be like others, have what they have, do what they do- it's not only a waste of time, it's a sinful struggle you will deal with for many years. Sometimes others will not understand why you believe the way you do. Follow Him anyway and pray for them. He's worth whatever they may think of you. His paths are clear to those who truly care to follow them. Remember that.

 More than that even, write this Word on your heart because when you do what it says, you'll find peace and purpose and you'll know what you MUST fight for each day:

 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

 And for good measure, add in this one, because your understanding lacks so, so much:

 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

 Oh, please little me, LEAN NOT upon yourself. Learn now, soon, letting it sink into your very bones - there's so little you understand, so little you can control. This will be hard for you and you will learn it time and again the hard way. When that happens, remember to trust Him anyway.

  You are so sad that you are turning "sweet sixteen" having never been kissed. Hold tight, you'll soon have that first kiss. One day he'll give you a ring, ask you a question, you'll say yes. You'll marry that first kiss, enter into covenant with him, and he will be the father of your children. It will be a gift to you that you never kissed another - I promise.

Go easy on your mom. One day you will learn just how wonderful and beautiful and ugly and terrifying and sin-revealing motherhood is. I can't adequately prepare you for it, it's just so hard and so worth it. Having your heart walk around in four different people, other than in yourself, is pretty tough. Your heart will break many, many times. But other times it will swell so full you'll think it may pop. You'll see. Ask God to teach you how to really love. But for now, go hug your mom and say thank you.

Give your dad a chance. I know he's a goofy goober. I know he likes hugging you too much and you like an extreme amount of personal space. But please, please - just hug him and hold on tight. Ask him to take you on dates, surprise him by showing up at his office for lunch. Let him give suggestions. Ask him questions. Trust in his love for you - it's bigger than you realize. Hear me on this - because one day you'll take care of him in his last, very sick days. You'll be taking turns with your brother all through his last night putting drops of morphine in his mouth, to usher him Home with love as your heart breaks. You'll watch him leave this life. It will hurt so bad you'll feel unable to breathe. You'll find out you needed him more than you knew, so much more. You will miss him so much it hurts. So, please, go give him a hug. You'll miss those hugs all too soon. Talk to him and listen and remember what he says. You'll miss his voice, too.

Love the Word now and more with each day. One day you'll find it can put your broken pieces back together, time and again. Find Psalm 119:105 and see that it says, "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." Twenty years from now this will be your favorite Psalm (after you hear Beth Moore teach from it!). The light of the word lights the next few steps - it's not a strobe light. He wants you to put your total trust in Him, so He won't light the path too far in the future. He wants to be the one you depend on.

Learn to pray. Really pray. One day you will see a prayer answered so beautifully, so faithfully, so perfectly after three years of waiting, wondering. Before your eyes, God will move a spiritual mountain and you will cry tears of joy and thankfulness. So, go hug your brother, because your prayers for him will matter one day. Let God show Himself faithful as He answers your prayers. Then be grateful, whatever the answer and however long the wait. The Lord is always right and He is always on time.

Be full of joy and be full of gratitude in all things. Hard times will come and there will be joy overflowing and sorrow so large it will feel overwhelming. Keep trusting Him, keep following Him. He makes paths straight, He allows you to enter the Most Holy Place, He loves you more than you know (and more than you'll know in twenty years still). But the Lord Who redeemed you can be fully trusted to complete His good work in you. And one sweet day, He'll come for you to take you Home. Keep your eyes on Him and love Him back through obedience, gratitude, praise and living for Him and not for the world. His grace is amazing and was purchased at a high price by your biggest Brother and the way you live reveals your true love for Him and gives Him glory. Love Him well then with your life. He is so worth it.

All is grace (one day you'll believe that it is. ALL is grace.),

Me at just under thirty-six

*This dear me letter was inspired by Emily at www.chattingatthesky.com as part of the release of her new book Graceful aimed at teenaged girls. Visit the link for other dear me letters and to learn more about the book.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

once again...

I have welcomed a friend into the horrible, awful Cancer is Terrible and My Parent Died Because of It club. Not a club anyone is clammoring to join, but a growing group nonetheless. I have a heavy heart for my friend Jon and his family in the passing of Mr. Bud, who I likely never spoke with, but have been blessed by watching how he handled his illness coupled with his faith in our good and gracious Father.

Each time I see a friend go through this, I am taken back to those days over six years ago. The days of grieving for the just-gone. Those days when you wake up, and you think "ok, it's ok...oh, wait..." because it takes time for it to sink in, really sink in. And then one day you wake up and it's just there, it doesn't hit you again like a ton of bricks. It's just always there, and that is both a good and a hard day.

I recently watched the movie Rabbit Hole, about a couple bereaving the death of their son. I don't recommend that you watch this movie, as the language in it is a bit much, however I keep coming back to this one part that really resonates with me. Becca's brother had died earlier, and she's asking her mother about grief:

Becca: Does it ever go away?
Nat: No, I don't think it does. Not for me, it hasn't, and that's goin' on eleven years. It changes, though.
Becca: How?
Nat: I don't know... the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and... carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you... you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and - there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful - But not all the time. It's kinda... not that you like it exactly, but it's what you have instead of your son, so you don't wanna let go of it either. So you carry it around. And it doesn't go away, which is...
Becca: What.
Nat: Fine... actually.

So, I say to Jon and his family, it does turn bearable at some point, and getting to that point looks different for each person. But there is that place where you gladly hold on to your missing them, because it's what you have left of them. I never want to stop missing my dad, as painful as it {still} can be at times, it's like a golden thread that keeps him here with me, in the smallest possible way. And with it is the happy hope I have of being with him again One Day. Oh, Happy Day!

As for your sweet dad, you know he is Home - the very place he was made for:

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”
C.S. Lewis

"I was made for more than this world could offer me. My heart to hold true mystery. My voice was made to fall on holy ears. My life to collide with majesty... I was made me for rest, in a world that’s striving. To lie down in the fields of green. To set my feet upon this holy ground. To build my life on the things unseen." from Christy Nockles "Into the Glorious"

Things unseen - though our dads are not "things," I think we can take great comfort that they are now among those things unseen, and add to that upon which we now continue to build our lives. You said in a twitter post that your dad was your biggest fan. I've said the same thing about my dad many times... now as a way to honor them, we can each live our lives in ways that will make them prouder still.

The Lord's grace is in this place, too. And never forget that One Day "all sad things will come untrue." Tim Keller

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

to mom

I remember you there. Just that - simply that you were always there. And I remember just wanting to be with you. And now that I have two littles out of four that just always want to be with me {like how I can't even use the restroom in solitude}, I can see it all so differently...

And so, I want to thank you for so much. Not only for all that you've done, but for who you've been for us. I know now that mothering is hard and endless and usually thankless work. It's not something you can leave at your desk, it will not wait for tomorrow. Even after the kids are in bed, a mother's mind keeps turning. At times her heart keeps aching. Tears fall. The little people that you work so hard to bring forth, to raise up, to nurture, teach and love - their needs can be too much, their hurts become your very own, they can all at once fill you with more love and more fear than you've ever known.

And what is there, then, for a mother to do? As Ann wrote in her post, "A mother cups her brood not with leftovers - but with her own sacrifice." A mother loves wide, hard, deep, offering so much of herself along the way. And she struggles with the did I give enoughs and the did I do enoughs and the am I enoughs? And at the end of a hard day, she faces knowing that she will get up and do it all again tomorrow. And all along, there is much joy and much hard, and the combination of it all and the knowing how to handle it all is... well, it's just hard.

But you showed me what it looks like to give of yourself until almost nothing is left. And the next day you would get back up and do it all again for us. Some days it was easier than others, and some days were happier than others, but each day you did it just the same. The endless work, the encouragement, the care, the daily plodding along - you were always there. You still are. You still give more of yourself than you likely want to at times, and now it's not to two (or three including Dad), but to eleven all counted - children and children-in-law and grandchildren. You give to us of yourself, of your heart and all for joy. Again and again.

How do I thank you?

Ann shared that "mother ducks pick feathers from their chests to line their nests." From there, close to the heart? "She lines the nest with bits of herself - the best of herself." Do you know this describes you? Our childhood home, though not perfect, was made with bits of you. It was made with the best of you. I only hope one day my little ones, when they are no longer little, will feel I did the same for them.

Thank you for giving yourself for us. And here's a really amazing thing... because of your gift to me, the giving of yourself, a mother and child in need in Haiti will be blessed. By giving of yourself, to your own {then and now}, you are also giving to someone far away who you've never met.

Isn't it amazing how love can grow wings and fly?...

This post is part of The 1000 Moms Project:

1000 Moms Project

Saturday, April 21, 2012

For where two or three gather

 in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:20

We are supposed to be women of joy this weekend, loving on each other and worshiping Him together at Women of Joy in Sevierville, Tennessee. Five of us, high school friends, moms to fifteen among us all, reaching out to each other again through facebook, renewing friendships. The hotel booked, the fees all paid. Things changed, our plans canceled. One still came up from south Florida, one down from north Alabama, and me here, already in the right place, believing what He said about where two or three gather... to gather around our friend and sister, Tamara, whose precious momma is very soon going Home. 

If I remember right, Mrs. Pat was diagnosed with cancer originally at the same time my dad was, November of 2005. As we celebrated Dad's life and healing at Home, we soon celebrated Mrs. Pat's healing here, as she enjoyed some cancer-free time. She has fought the good fight, including a long fight against cancer again, she has almost finished the race. Soon she will see Him face to face, she will beat cancer {once and for all}, receiving ultimate healing and all that He has promised. 

Last night, on the back porch of Tamara's parents' house, the four of us laughed a little, cried a little, prayed a lot: 

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands... therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.  For we live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." 2 Corinthians 5:1, 6-8

We prayed these scriptures, asking for mercy, for peace, for new mercies every day and the strength to receive them, for ministering angels, for Jesus to do what He said He'd do:  

"In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:2-3 

See, I take that literally. He is preparing a place. He will come back and take her to be with Him. He will. So we wait, we pray, we love from here. 

We are not particularly women of Joy this weekend like we had planned, though I fully believe we will be women of joy again. I expect it. I know it will happen, because I believe Him Who says:

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.  Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”  Psalm 126:5-6

My friends, this I believe, and if any of you can't believe it just now, I'll believe it for you... we WILL return with songs of joy. We will. It's a promise. And our Father keeps His promises. Some He grants us here on earth, while others He grants us at Home. We will be women of joy again, and He will receive the glory.

So, to our enemy, who likely thinks he's had victory in this situation, I say two things:

"When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”" 1 Corinthians 15:54

and "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the LORD will be my light."

The Lord will be our Light. Love always wins.

Friday, March 23, 2012

So I stood there asking him,

trying to hold back the tears, to steady the voice, just when he thought I'd be able to approach March 23rd without so much sadness. It's now been six years of missing him every day, so when can this particular day become more normal? My man is so smart, he asked shouldn't it make me sad? Why was I putting unrealistic constraints on my grief? I suppose it was my way of trying to handle it on my own, which maybe one day I'll remember I can't do anything on my own.

As I was reading a favorite blog last night, God showed me what I needed to do with these words:

When we practice giving thanks, we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see it.

Ann Voskamp from One Thousand Gifts
 And so I found my 1000+ gifts journal. The one I haven't written in since last July. A stalled listing of His gifts at no. 105. But there are so, so many more and I want to count again, to focus the eyes, the heart. I felt a nudge to count gifts last night regarding Dad. And though there is still an extra heaviness of heart today, six years later, this counting makes me smile.

(106) I can still remember the sound of his voice.
(107) I can still picture his big cheeked grin.
(108) Imagining one of his swallow-me-up-in-big-arms hugs.
(109) Still having his handwriting tucked away here and there.
(110) How he believed in me.
(111) Those funny sayings of his and {see no. 106}, how I can still hear him say them. "Whatcha       waitin' on? Sundown and payday?"
(112) He loved to sing.
(113) He loved being Poppa.
(114) A hard though precious memory: crying with him, sharing one big chair, the night before we'd receive a sure diagnosis.
(115) Saying what needed to be said to each other, the time to say it.
(116) The privilege of helping to care for him in those days.
(117) The amazing peace that came over him when he chose to go home so he could go Home.
(118) How once he checked with me before taking medicine that our {amazing} nurse handed him. I was in charge of his meds when we got him home, apparently even when the nurse was in the house.
(119) How the Father has drawn me closer and closer in the absence of my dad.
(120) For 29 years he was mine.

And I could go on and on, but I need to get ready to meet with my mom. Share some of this day together. Take new flowers to the cemetery. Go watch Miles give his first presentation about his favorite trip. For six years, the sun has still risen and set. The world has still turned. And I was so sure it would stop when dad left. But when the eyes learn to change the way they see things, there have been tremendous blessings come from this great sadness. He truly brings beauty from ashes, turns mourning into dancing, sorrow into joy.

And so, I will go about this March 23, allowing myself to feel whatever I feel. Extra sadness, a heavier heart with smiles because of the gifts I can count. How could I not miss him, really? And that's ok.

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
    he rescues those whose spirits are crushed."   Psalm 34:18 NLT