Tuesday, February 17, 2015

To My Brother

This is a re-post from a few years back....but I am missing my little brother, and I hope you will indulge me.  I cannot think of newer words that could mean any more than these.  Andrew, I know your plate is extremely full, and it seems there will never be enough minutes in the day to fit in all the pieces.   You are doing a good work.  Keep the faith!  I am praying for God-proportioned energy for all the dreams He is building in your heart.  


                                                                
Dear Brother,

Sometimes, I laugh inside when I hear my little boys call you Uncle Andrew.  When did that happen?  When were we ever big enough to have titles and children of our own?  Somehow it seems we leaped right out of tree climbing and tumbled to the present grown-up life. 

I remember the day you came into my world.  I watched as mom went off to the hospital, and I waited anxiously to hear the news of boy or girl.  I was determined to see a baby blue blanket when we finally met.  Sure enough, screaming at me on the other side of the hospital glass was, in fact, a baby boy.  You were so strange and red.  I was a bit perplexed at your tininess.

I watched you grow.  You became this little devil of sorts in cowboy boots that packed a deadly blow to my shins.  I am sure most kicks were a direct result of my desire to dress you in doll clothes and force you to wear pink ribbons in your snowy, white hair. 





Not long after, I found myself spending hours of my life in the bleachers cheering as you would round the bases and crack the bat.  It was pretty fun watching you become a little athlete. First it was a ball on a T, then a whirling machine, and one day you became the pitcher.  Your uniforms got bigger, and your socks got really stinky.


Then, one day I left for college.  You started driving and called me when your car went over the hill and got stuck in the neighbor's yard.  Surely I could break the news to mom and dad better than you, or so you thought.  You teased me about my clothes, and I helped you pick out a present for your first girlfriend.  You went to prom and moved to Spain. 

I crossed an ocean to see you in that high school cap and gown, and yet somehow I still saw cowboy boots and diapers filled with rocks and toy pistols.  I hugged your neck and squeezed you tight the day you got married. I sang in the balcony, all the while holding back tears as reality hit. 

                                       

We shared a million ordinary moments together in life.  We shared a few exceptionally special moments along the way.  We argued over who's turn it was to do the dishes. We raced down the stairs together every Christmas.  We rode a million miles over the mountains to see our grandparents and cousins.  We battled for space in the station wagon, and wiggled with joy as the trip would sometimes bring more snow with each mile.

We loved, hated, fought, laughed, and screamed.  We celebrated each other and envied each other.  We shared a home and a family.  We shared one tiny bathroom.  You locked me out of it many, many times.  We played horse in the driveway, and fell in love with a dalmatian puppy we named Chance.  We made many golden memories. 

We grew up and went our separate ways.  I became a mother and you became a father.  We get bills every month and have to remember to change the oil in our cars.  Somehow, as I watch my own boys learn how to be siblings, I am reminded so much of you and those years at home we shared.  With each bowl of Cheerios poured and fights over toy tractors, I remember what little boys are like.  Every time I find another pair of blue jeans with knees completely gone, I am reminded what playing outside means to a little boy. 

I am a better mother to my wild, rambunctious boys because I had a little brother to teach me things.  I give them space to grow and learn.  I let them get messy, and I am very familiar with the pile of dirt that seems to exist in every small tennis shoe in my house.  You, my dear brother, have given me so many sweet, simple lessons on mothering boys. You didn't even know you were teaching me, but you were.

With every sweaty head and Lego under foot, I see glimpses of the past.  I love you more in those moments than I can put into words.  I am so happy that blanket was blue.  I am so thankful that I shared life with a brother.  I am so tickled to hear my little ones say, "When can we please go visit Uncle Andrew?".   We all love and miss you so.




Sunday, February 15, 2015

A New Thing

Isaiah 43:19 has been on rolling repeat here in my corner of the world.  Sometimes, a soul just needs to remember that there are no limits to the resources of our Creator.  Sometimes, a soul just needs to be retold the truths of scripture, the truths of God's work in a life, the truths of God's immeasurable power.  That soul, oftentimes, is me.
  
It gets a little soft over time as these truths are often overlooked.  Even as an avid reader of Scripture, I can lose sight of the power resting between every letter.  I can overlook the depths of the richness waiting for me in the space between the verses and the punctuation.  This text and this flow is the very speech of God.    

I love the entire prose of chapter 43."But now" is the beginning of this lovely chapter.  Not just a simple now, rather an emphatic but now!  Right now, right here we are to take notice.  God is about to reveal Himself, and we don't want to miss it.  Right now He immediately reminds us that as believers we were created, formed, and redeemed.  We are not to fear regardless of any overtaking river in life.  We are not to be anxious when we are faced with fiery troubles.  He even goes beautifully deeper with the promise that we will not be consumed even in the raging fire.  I don't know about you, but that is one perfect promise to a weary, earthbound human!  

The promises continue to drip from the page.  Each one beautifully wrapped in hope from the Creator of my soul.  I am declared precious, honored, and loved.  And just like that He is pulling me deeper into His presence.  He has a heart-grasp on my life.  It is as if God and I are there together in that garden of perfect, and He is breathing life back into the deflated creature I have become.  I am precious because He declared it.  He created this soul and He treasures it.  I cannot forget this.  Believers cannot grow soft on the very truth that we are His handiwork.

He saves!  He speaks to the North and South, and He alters anything necessary in this created world to those He cherishes.  He divides the murky seas and creates passable ground.  He swallows armies with the same dark water  to ransom the hearts of those who trust Him.  He is mighty and fierce and altogether gentle and protective.  Under His wings, all of Earth can be summoned to His word!  God forbid that I should take this truth and alter it to a fairy-tale of long ago.  This was, is, and forever will be the rock-solid truth of the very One that knit my life together!  And even still, as if it could not get any better, like a jewel in the midst of this love letter to His own the truth expands: 
"Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. (Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV)
Oh my friend, look at these words!  Forget what has already been done.  That is old news.  He is still in the business of creating new.  This same Savior has not reached the end of His abilities to rescue, redeem, and re-purpose.  Do you not perceive it? Do you not see that this is not the end of His outstretched hand?  These perfect displays of love are not the sum of His creativity to ransom the hearts of those that put their trust in Him.  Leave it to His almighty hand to bring life in a desert and escape in the wilderness.  Oh dear soul, if this does not cause a hallelujah to swell from the depths of your being, perhaps you have never tasted of the truth of a saving God!  

There is no consumable flame, no barren wasteland, no hopeless wilderness beyond His reach.   I know, often it is so difficult to discern His hand.  Our earthly lenses get cloudy and the heart gets weary.  Each day is full of things pulling and tugging.  Each day requires fresh resolve to push forward.  The body breaks down, the soul wrinkles, and the fire seems consumable.  We are weakened in the imperfect and the truth begins to soften.  Sometimes, it even becomes unrecognizable.  

But now, but NOW... wake to see these steadfast and full of glory promises!  A NEW thing, this Creator God is doing even now to display the grandeur of His love to the created souls He longs to rescue. The same God that brought the life of a giant to the hands of child is here waiting to do so for you and me.  The same Conqueror that displayed the reach of His power to a hardened Egyptian ruler through a simple, weak man is here to display His glory through all believers.  The One that gave sight to the blind and brought the very dead back to the living is offering life to weariest of modern souls.  Right now, right here He is doing a new thing.

Don't go any further a thirsty, weary traveler.  Don't wander any longer in the barren wasteland.  For just there, in this dry and empty place, flows a new river that can never run dry.  Oh that we all would just step into the water.





Friday, February 6, 2015

Overturned

Oh my, this new year.  So much happens this time naturally for our family. Of course we celebrate the New Year with all the usual hopes and dreams. Once the fireworks have all erupted, we then pack in an anniversary and my birthday.  A lot takes place right away in our average new year.

But this has not been average.

When the Christmas season was rolling in, we were still trying to find balance under our feet from the heavy days of Kevin's extensive surgery and battle with infection.  There are a million things I could write (and probably should write)  for my own soul about those days.  To even put words to a piece of it is somewhat difficult.  The journey of our lives these years of his illness is one paved with tears, fears, love, faith, hope, disappointment, and many other emotions.  People from all corners of our lives reached out to us in those darkest hours and demonstrated a love to us that can only come from God.  Oh, how tender He was with us.  Boy, did we ever need it. I am learning that we will probably always need it.

Even still, in the early moments of the new year I felt a deep sense of change.  Maybe I was so tired of the heaviness of the year behind us, maybe I was desperate for something fresh and hopeful, but I felt so empowered to usher in a sense of newness and renewing.  I made some personal deals with myself.  I took care of things long-neglected that once were very important to me.  I leaped forward with a spring in my step and hope in my heart that this year, this year, would be momentous. I scoured scripture, took walks alone, and breathed deeply the hope.

Then, I received news that a distanced but deep connection in my life was slipping away very unexpectedly.  "Cancer", they said.  Sudden, sweeping, and swift were the moments of knowledge and then goodbye.  I hardly had a moment to absorb the news before I found myself driving to the funeral. Overturned.  That is the best word I know.  Overturned.

Maybe, I felt the connection because we were dangling so close to the edge ourselves just days before at the hospital.  Maybe the memories of a past life with her and her family were too much in my heart, maybe the ache of understanding how delicate this dance of life really is... and maybe a million things I could utter. But really I was overturned.  Buckets of tears and miles in the car I cried trying to put words to understanding the pain this world can yield.

How is it one family limps away with life and another never gets a chance?  How is it that one family suffers years and one suffers days?  Why does a human body one moment seem like a miracle of a million mystery parts all working on their own, and then another day it seems like a heap of sand slipping rapidly through the cracks? There are rarely any lasting answers this side of eternity.

I battle my own private wars of personal grief.  Knowing that life for my husband and I will never be what it once was is a grief of its own. Understanding that our present and future will forever be altered is difficult.  Coming to grips with the life that is presented takes a daily perseverance.  Some days, I make peace with my own heart on the matter and other days peace is elusive.

But now this...this dagger of a loss changes so much.  How am I to view this all?  How do I process my heart?  How do I hug my sweet friend's neck and weep together over this tragic loss of his wife?  How do I speak a single encouraging word to her mother I love dearly without cracking from the weight of it all?  This is too much, too weighty, too difficult.  Those children... how do we bare this pain for them?  How do I grieve for all that is wrong in this life? How do I grieve my own losses when compared to other's deeper losses?  How do I put two feet forward with what is left when my friend must take his children and go on alone?

I am overturned. I know only to do what I can barely accomplish.  I show up...really that is all.  I go one more time before the throne of God's grace and I just sit.  There are no adequate words for expressing what this God of the Universe already understands.  I imagine that those darkest moments of Jesus suffering unanswered fills every gap of every question I could conceive.  He knows the pain of the perfect being destroyed.  He sees the world as it should have been, yet suffers for what it has become.  He knows I am merely sand slipping.  He knows that all that separates me from eternity is a single breath or one last beat of heart.  He already knows, and I sit.  I sit like Job's silent friends -yet  all along aching as Job for a whirlwind of the Glorious.

One breath, one beat at a time this Creator God of perfection takes my silence and rubs a balm of hope in my soul; hope that knows there is more.  There is more, we are not finished, and He can be trusted.  This present grief, this desperate ache of heart, is only a drop in the vastness of the more that awaits.  I must trust Him. He knows...even when I am overturned.

When I am renewed in His strength I begin to see glimpses of that whirlwind of Glory.  It comes calmly. The hug of friends near and far, the card in the mail, the generosity of the body of Christ. Tears shared, songs sung, and strength in numbers of believers.  I see the photos of this family going forward.  They are irrevocably changed, but God's grace is plastered over every inch of their resolve.  I even see it in my own home.  The deeper love, the gratitude, and the beauty of Jesus all around our aches and disappointments.  I cannot help but be drawn to the lyric, "What if my greatest disappointments or the aching of this life is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy? What if trials of this life, the rain, the storms, the hardest nights are your mercies in disguise?"

What if the pain of being overturned is the gateway to the whirlwind of Glory?  The book of James reminds us to count it joy when trials come.  The Refiner's fire is working to the good of them in the melting fury.  After all, Jesus said that blessed were those that mourn, for they shall be comforted.  He also assured us that blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall see God.

Can I take this fiery-melting-dripping heart and hold it out to the Creator and trust that it is for the good of my soul?  Can I go a little deeper in my faith and open my clutching fingers and release this same heart to the Refiner?  Can I walk willingly into the whirlwind of Glory?  Can I trust that overturned is really the grasp of God's Divine Hand drawing me nearer to the image He has in mind for me?

I sit in silence.  I long to be a soul on fire.  I ache to drip with this molten grace that I hope He is working into my soul fibers.  I do not want to take myself out of the flame if the flame is burning His glory on my heart.  It is painful often and full of tears.  It is revealing so many imperfections and failures.  It is uncomfortable and leaves me heart-searching.  But I know...I know it is for my good.

I am overturned, and I will wait.  There is more, and He is not finished.



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