Monday, February 22, 2016

What is Happening?

I said anything to God... and something pretty big is presenting.  What is this chaos of heart I am feeling?  I think, it is because I know the weight of it all.  I cannot look at it as wild adventure or living a daring life.  I see it as crisis of faith.  Will my faith meet my words?  Will the old "adventurous" me understand the difference between God calling, and adventure calling?

God, you tell me to ask for wisdom.  I am asking, pleading really.

I am in a grey haze of knowing that no matter what-- life is not the same.  It is not a bad haze, just thick and mysterious.  I don't want our life to be the same, but I am not sure how to process the days as they come.  Sameness does not equal a deep, heart change.  One moment my insides are fluttering with excitement and there is a twinkle in my eyes at this pending opportunity.  The next moment, I am feeling the heaviness of the reality of what could be and all that would completely change.

I see everything so differently. a woman of faith, an educator, a wife, a mother, and a daughter, it feels incredibly complicated.  Sometimes, all of these roles are so monumental they seem impossible to fulfill.  I feel pulled to serve Jesus in radical ways.  I love my life and roles with my husband and children.  I desire to honor my parents, especially in these days as they will soon be an ocean away.  My work life is overflowing.  God has blessed me with more students that I can even accommodate. But, I want to be faithful.  I know God's desire is my faithfulness.  I also know that serving Jesus radically doesn't always come off smoothly. 

Wisdom, Jesus....wisdom.

I wish I could share more dear readers, but for now I ask that you pray that God's power would illuminate my haze.  I ask that you pray that I would not be weighted by the world.  Pray that my vision would be laser-focused on Jesus.

I simply cannot get the words to this very familiar hymn out of my heart.  I keep singing them and longing for it to be undeniable truths in my life.

I'd rather have Jesus than silver or Gold.  I'd rather be His than have riches untold.  I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land.  I'd rather be led by His nail-pierced hand.
Than to be the king of a vast domain, or be held in sin's dread sway.  I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today.  
I'd rather have Jesus than worldly applause.  I'd rather be faithful to His dear cause.  I'd rather have Jesus than world-wide fame.  I'd rather be true to His holy name.
Than to be the king of a vast domain, or be held in sin's dread sway.  I'd rather have Jesus than anything this world affords today. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Purple Hearts


I spoke with some ladies from California today.  It was a casual conversation about landmarks and good malls.  Actually, it was a mother and daughter.  The daughter had just arrived on base here in town.  She was fully dressed in her uniform, hair tied back incredibly tight, and boots that nearly reached her knees.  She looked so intentional.  I felt a little odd, but I wanted to just gush to her about how grateful I was that people like her were willing to risk so much for people like me. I wanted to hug her momma's heart and tell her that our country is so privileged to have such honorable people like her daughter representing us all.  

She looked new.  She looked excited and "chomping" at the bit to do her part in the service.  I've been in this town long enough to notice the difference between the seasoned  officers and a new recruit.  It got me thinking so I did some reading about the base.  I read: 
Fort Jackson is the largest and most active Initial Entry Training Center in the U.S. Army, training 50 percent of all soldiers and 60 percent of the women entering the Army each year. Providing the Army with new soldiers is the post's primary mission. 35,000 potential soldiers attend basic training and 8,000 advanced individual training soldiers train at Fort Jackson annually. Soldiers who have trained or worked at Fort Jackson live by the base's motto, "Victory Starts Here."
Ok...that struck me.  I mean it really struck me.  I live in a town where half of all the soldiers entering the army come to train, and their motto is "Victory Starts Here"!  

I whisper the motto.  What a thing to say.  No wonder she looked polished and ready to take on the world.  She has bought in; her momma has handed her over, and she knows that Victory begins here.

I so well remember when my little world came crashing down, and all I could think about was how badly we needed to move.  We could not keep straddling our lives between two cities.  We had to be in or out. It was hard and exciting.  It was scary and daring, but we packed in a matter of days and bought into a new life right outside the gates of Fort Jackson.  We left the home we owned and moved into an apartment where I was convinced we were the only non-military family in residence.  I had really no idea how heavy the presence of Fort Jackson was in Columbia.  I had never lived here, and I really knew nothing of the military.  

Most of our first friends were soldiers and their families.  We did a Bible study at our apartment with several of them.  I never knew the facts of the base, and I certainly never knew the motto.  I just knew we had moved to do battle with our life that was starting to unravel.  We had to get closer to good medical care, we had to get closer to Kevin's job, and we had to rally ourselves because change was coming.  

These years in Columbia have been so different.  We have battled hard for our family, and God has fought right alongside us.  We used to have these little "pie-in-the-sky" dreams about what we might could do for God.  But when the days got quiet, and it was just Kevin and I in the hospital for so many weeks, that picture started changing.  

-Jesus, you completely changed our perspective.  You know, when I really think hard about it, I believe we both died in that hospital.  We died a good, needed death.  When the day came to go home, we were not the same people that entered.  Not. Even. Close.  I think of Jacob wrestling with God and the lifelong limp as a result. But what a thing to wrestle.  Who gets to do that?  Who lives to tell of it?  What an honor. We might not limp, but we have the battle scars.  But suddenly, they seem like badges of honor.  Purple hearts.  We have purple hearts.

I am in tears.  Jesus, what a gift.  I mean really, how could I see it any other way?

It is a peculiar thing.  I don't have the uniform or the boots.  But I can see the gates, and I can hear the battle cry!  VICTORY STARTS HERE.  It is easy to see that it begins where we end.  

I do not know just how it all happens to be, how God sees these little details and crafts them Divinely into a sculpted soul for Him. My brain shutters to understand it.   But I can't look at anything the same.  I never will.  Our town, our home, our life has all changed.  I can put the flag in the ground and declare, "Victory began here".  

I want to run into the streets.  I want to run across the world.  I want to hug every orphaned child, cook a hot meal for every wandering soul, and kiss the faces of every saint that has showed me the way.  This is Jesus.  This is Him.  This is His love.  This is what He died and powerfully rose again for...for my tiny, little purple heart.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

No More Babies

Me and my Jackson

2/10/16---Honestly ( From my journal)

I can't seem to put this thought too far away.  I don't think  I 've ever really talked about it much except  with my mother. My news feed is full of new babies and growing families.  It is beautiful and so precious.  I am full of joy at the sight of each one.  Then, I think about our family.  We are so blessed.  We have two full-of-life red headed boys.  My days are stuffed to capacity with the doings of little boys.  I love it.  I would have never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would have two sons that look so much like me.  

Our family will probably just be us four.  There will probably never be a little redheaded girl to torture her big brothers.  There is a bit of grief in that knowing.  Four is a beautiful number.  Four- when not long ago could have easily been only three.  How can I be sad for that?

But, I am a bit sad about that.  I am sad that disease is cruel.  I am sad that we get old.  I am sad that I can't eat everlasting gobstoppers and blame it on the baby that isn't coming.  Sometimes, it is really sad.

Sometimes, I am not sad.  Sometimes, it is beautiful knowing that my boys are now both school-aged, and there is a bit more time to invest my heart in things I have had to put aside for awhile.  Sometimes, I am glad that I don't have to worry about morning sickness and losing baby weight.  Sometimes, I am so thrilled that everybody in my house is healthy, and that I can sleep through the night.  

But...I still miss the idea of more babies.  I still don't know what to say beside a grin and chuckle when people unknowingly ask if we are "done".  I want to say, "no, not really...but we were not given that option."  

But who says that?  

Sometimes, I even think about miracles and surprises...women in the Bible and the friend that adopted just before the surprise of a lifetime.  I smile... there is always the hope.

But, I am content.  I don't pine.  I don't feel sad when I get the call of big news from a friend.  I don't cry, and I don't care how many people ask me if I am done.  That truly doesn't hurt me.  I am beautifully blessed with my sons, and I have hundreds of other people's babies that I get to love on every week. And..boy do I love them! Who can really be sad with all that?

Not me.

God knows what He is doing.  Of this, I am sure.

I sometimes even know that it was on purpose.   There is a bigger picture.  The bigger picture of God's story compels me to not linger in the sadness, but to look ahead with expectancy towards the purpose.  There is much, much joy in that truth.  

God, you know my heart.  You know that I have arms to love many more babies.  You created my heart.  So, I know I can trust you with it...even if there are no more babies.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dear Diary...

The flavor of the blog is changing for a bit.  I feel most pressed to share my heart in all of its rawness.  God is working in my life, and He keeps whispering..."write it, Leah." I do not really even know how it should look -or what it should say.  The only thing I know to do is to write it out as if in my personal journal.  It feels a little scary, a little too close.  But, it seems this is the risk of faith God is asking me to do.  When He presses...I write.

Coffee and Dirty Pants  ~ Feb. 9, 2016

I sat in the back corner of a coffee shop today because I had thirty extra minutes of a babysitter watching my children after I taught this afternoon.  I wanted to enjoy a strong espresso and a book I have been devouring.  While I waited for my name to be called, a man walked in wearing very dirty pants.  His unbrushed silver hair and clinking keys got my attention right away.  He looked quite out of place.  He stood somewhat in line reading a paper.  He wasn't exactly in line.  He was at the pickup counter, but he had not ordered.  He stood there for so long.  I took my drink and my book and went to the warmest corner in the shop.  I jumped right into the paragraphs, but I couldn't keep from peeking up at Mr. Dirty Pants.  Was he homeless?  Was he just getting warm?  Was he going to order coffee?  Does he not know where to get in line? Is he safe?  Why does nobody seem to even notice him but  me?  Why am I so concerned about this stranger?

Three chapters later, he was still in the exact same spot.  My heart raced a little.  God, are you trying to tell me something?  Am I supposed to talk to him?  What in the world am I supposed to say?  Should I buy him coffee?  A pastry?  Unsure, I went back to reading.  The next glance, he had put the paper back in the paper bin, but was standing back in the same location.  I was mesmerized by this peculiar man.  Why?  Why do I always notice people that others are either totally ignoring, or simply do not see?  I went back to my book and whispered prayers asking God if I should speak to this man.  Yes... get up and buy the man a coffee.  

I put the book down and was about to walk to the counter and he was instantly gone.  I looked everywhere.  He was gone.  As unnoticed as his appearance was to everyone, so was his departure. Only this time, even I didn't see him.  

I felt hollow.  Disappointed that I might have missed an opportunity to share coffee and hear his story, I suddenly couldn't read anymore.  What good is seeing the unseen if I don't do anything about it? What good is being moved by God's grace if I don't move on it?  

Jesus, you have tendered my heart to those around me.  Can you give me bravery, too?  Hesitation is disobedience.  I know my deepest soul moment, I know this.  I think of you and the encounters you sought out and left for me to read about in your word.  People that were more peculiar than a dirty man in a shiny coffee shop fill the pages of your gospel teaching us that your ways are not our own.  I am sorry.  I am sorry I missed a moment to see you.  I am sorry I missed a moment to know this stranger.  I am sorry I missed an opportunity to have a little faith.  Please, keep sending me encounters.  Don't allow me to become like so many others that choose to look away.  I did today.  I looked away.  For three chapters, I looked away.  I know I have nothing to offer anyone.  Coffee is nothing.  But I have your love, and that is everything.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

When He Calls

If you follow Jesus, you know when He is stirring in your heart.  You feel it, see it, experience it in ways that you alone are confident of His working.

He's been working here. I wish I could put words to the whispers in my soul.  I will try to share.  God at work is a beautiful thing.

My husband and I had our lives turned upside down during his illness.  Hours of quiet time in the hospital brought hours of sharing our hearts with each other.  We found ourselves peeling back all the layers of how we saw life, God, our family, and our purpose.  Since those delicate months, we have mulled over and over so many things.  As time has brought healing, it has also brought clearer vision to life.

It has to matter.  This life has to count, not for ourselves so much, but for the purpose of our very creation.  When God allows you to see Himself more clearly, you cannot waste that.  If Kevin's years of illness opened our eyes to see God in more profound ways, it will forever be worth it to us both.  Because of that, we cannot idly live.  So we are flinging our arms out open looking for God to take whatever He wants of us to make Him known.  We have no idea what that might look like, where it might lead, what we will gain or lose, but that doesn't matter.  We are searching.  We are praying. We are open.

It is an exciting and scary way to live--open to whatever God has.  It seems like it should be the way of all believers, and it should.  However, we all have a tendency to cling tightly to certain "rights" that we are confident  are ours to  hold tightly.  Facing those and letting go are tricky things- unless you've seen the God of all creation.

You see, I have seen Him.  He is fierce, yet full of love.  He is powerful, yet tender.  He loves in a most jealous way, and He will not share our hearts with another master.  He humbles and He elevates.  He punishes and binds our hearts.  He works in the wee hours of the night, displays His glory in the bursting sunrise, and He wraps us in blankets of stars.  I've seen Him.  He has showed up in my darkest, most shameful moments.  He has plucked me from deep pits. He has disciplined my soul.  He has healed my most broken heart, calmed racing fears, and sustained in desperation.  This for me.  This, for my weak, willful, woesome soul.  He loves me in ways that are so delicate and powerful simultaneously.  He tolerates my failures. He gives beautiful gifts that I cannot repay.  I see Him everyday.  He is there in the garden protecting the wintered seed.   He is there in my classroom providing patience as I cup a small child's face and smile.  He is the mystery that calls me to write these very words.  And, when He calls..

My heart leaps.  Whatever it may be, the call is precious and Divine.

Oh fling out your arms, open your heart, take away all reserves!  The King calls!  He calls us to find Him, abide in Him, trust Him.  His assignments are unrivaled, and His reward is eternal. Don't miss His call.

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