Category Archives: God

Count It ALL

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I have had the distinct pleasure of being called to jury duty at least a half dozen times within the last 10 years…and yes, just got another summons a few weeks ago. I have served on several small jury’s and had an encounter just this past fall on the inner workings of a federal grand jury. I have sat in a courtroom countless times and yet regardless of the size case or the severity of the case at hand – there has always been a common thread in the reactions of those awaiting the news of whether or not they would be called to serve.

Screen Shot 2017-04-05 at 10.54.11 PMJury Duty. It’s funny how those two words stir such disgust in people. I was offered condolences. I was given a multitude of tips on how to get out of serving. And consistently across the board every single person made some kind of awful face at the news. My first time heading to a courthouse here in South Carolina – I put all of the warnings and advice aside, and went to fulfill my duty. And low and behold the attitudes of the people at the courthouse were even worse than those who had warned me not to go. It was a spectacle indeed. There were those overly dressed up and ready to demonstrate that they were just too important to be there. There were others who went to great pains to look awful; from their dress, to their facial expressions, to the way they sat in the chair – everything screamed – ‘you know you don’t want ME on this case’! There were those who appeared to be clueless…but didn’t seem to understand that there is a line between clueless and calculating. There were some who thought if they just looked out the window, they wouldn’t be called on as if this were high school (has that trick ever really worked even in school?). Even the lawyers and presiding judge made comments on the painfulness of this process and that it would all be over soon. I sat through that entire experience and came to one resounding conclusion…people hate trials.

It doesn’t matter whose trial it is…trials are inconvenient, stressful, painful, and hard. And yet… James, brother to Jesus, tells us to consider them pure joy. Specifically, he says Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’  (James 1:2-4) Surely, that is a typo right? No, after checking almost every translation available they all say to consider trials as pure ‘joy’ in each one. The only differing verbiage comes from The Message and it says that we should ‘consider it a sheer gift’ – what?! Trials, a gift? A joy?

lilypadsAbout 30 min from my house is a really unique place called Cypress Gardens. It is one of the area plantations – a sweet mix of history and beauty filled with random wildlife and scenic views. Sadly it bore the brunt of some major damage in a massive flooding we had this past fall and is currently closed to the public as they try to rebuild. When I was there a few years ago I loved so much about my experience, but was overcome by the massive swamp that encompassed a huge portion of this 170 acre plantation. The swamp was edge to edge lily pads. It was ridiculous. And in many cases there seemed no break – no glimpses of the water they floated in. It was amazing. The ‘water’ was about as disgusting as you could imagine; covered in a nice thick, green, slimy film; a perfect oasis for the many alligators that I knew lay hidden beneath. Why I found this to be so remarkable were the countless waterlilies laced throughout the entire swamp. Waterlilies that were pure white, unblemished, in full beautiful bloom – gorgeous – and all I could do was ask ‘how?’ How on earth could something so beautiful come out of something so disgusting?

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Intrigued by the beauty of the waterlilies I went home and ‘googled’ how they could grow in all of that yuck. Turns out – they were designed for the yuck. Rooted deep in the ground beneath the swamp waters – they rise tall and strong so that that their blossoms and their leaves come up tall above the swampy waters. For each lily pad you see on the water – a beautiful bloom was once attached.

James tells us to consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds’; ‘you will face trials of many kinds- when you do think of it as pure joy’; ‘my friends consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way’; and my favorite – ‘consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.’ I hear that, I read that, I clearly see it printed before me and all I can do is ask ‘how’? How on earth can something so hard be counted as pure joy?

In Romans, Paul echoes these same thoughts… Romans 5:3-5 – “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who he has given us.’

Peter later confirms…in 1 Peter 1:6-9 – “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

And just in case, we haven’t quite gotten the picture just yet…

1 Peter 4:12-13 – “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.”

There is not one of us that has escaped the experience of trials. Very rarely are they a once in a lifetime thing. For myself, trials have always been an underlying reality – in a way, like the waterlily, it seems as though I too was designed for the yuck. When I was little I lived in a home that had some pretty peculiar experiences. The youngest of three sisters we each had our own room – and we were each to stay in our own room. We had to ask permission to come downstairs – and that was usually only to ask a question, never to just hang out or play or watch TV.  I never learned to ride a bike, don’t remember ever playing on our swing set (though we did have one) and only once did I ever have a friend come over. We were not allowed to be in each other’s rooms. I often say it was like we were baby dolls placed on a shelf. When my mom wanted to play with us, she’d bring us off our shelf otherwise that is where we stayed. Now for me, as a mom of four very active children – in need of interaction and quality time and affection and conversation and fuel to their overactive dramatic minds and hearts – I am blown away by the reality that was my childhood. There were times of great sadness and loss, there were times of great fear and insecurity, and the details (too great and too numerous for any retelling) were anything but beautiful. That said, I can tell you that I absolutely look back and count it all joy. I found solace in the comfort of stuffed animals. I found creativity in the multitude of coloring books and stories that filled my shelves. I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone…as my sisters each endured and struggled. Oddly I look back on my childhood and it looks strikingly like the swamps of Cypress Gardens. Gross, disgusting, nothing you would want to swim in and yet out of it came something beautiful. I am not defined by my past or my upbringing. I have no disclaimers that say ‘because of these choices, because of these trials, Sarah is this …’

As an adult, the trials simply took on new form. I can easily think of financial trials and countless trials over failing cars. I can go back to multiple times of stress and busyness that placed a strain on my marriage. I can recall difficulties that arose in my pregnancy with Lacie and the hard questions and decisions regarding her health and life. I have vivid memories of enduring a miscarriage alone in the floor of my master bathroom. I can recall a few toxic friendships and poor choices in college. I can still instantly tear up as I recall the Lord allowing everything I loved – friends, work, church, and at the time…my purpose and heart – to be ripped from me with no clear explanation. I cringe a bit at the uncertainties of job changes and the unknowns of ‘what’s next’ that even face me right now. In John 16:33, John sums it up simply ‘in this world you will have trouble…but take heart (find joy, realize the gift) I (Jesus) have overcome the world.’

My sweet friend when it comes to the trials that we face in life – find comfort in the fact that we were designed to rise above the trials. We need to root ourselves into the deep soil that is Jesus Christ – and when we have, He will help us to rise tall and strong even in the most unlikely of scenarios. We have to stop looking angrily at the trials that come our way or that were our past. We have to look for how His hand held onto us…how His hand holds us still. A great pastor, Wayne Corderio explained it this way (and I’m merely paraphrasing) ‘sometimes we go through times of trial where instead of God lifting us over it he grabs us by the hand and drags us right through it. Sometimes that process of dragging us on the ground is repetitive. We are battered and beaten, but even in the dragging – he never let’s go of our hand.’ …even in the dragging – he never let’s go of our hand!

It is a fair question to ask…how on earth can something beautiful come from something so disgusting? Perseverance, character, hope, endurance, and a deepened faith in Christ – beautiful! Thank you Lord – if this is what brings me closer to you then keep on dragging me Lord – yes, I will count it ALL joy!

Caught Off Guard

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As a mom of four, a children’s director to 100’s and a Christ follower for over three decades – I am always looking for God in everything. I try to find the teachable moments that will resonate for my kids; those tangible moments where you can take a scripture or a truth from God’s word and watch it come alive through an illustration, an experience or even a story. Last week I was overwhelmed by such an encounter and sat down to capture it here so that I could remember. Now, normally when I write, I average a cool 15 or so folks reading it at best. So imagine my surprise when my simple retelling of a night at the movies hit numbers in the 6 digit range as it was shared all over the world.

I confess that the reaction has caught me somewhat off guard. I wasn’t writing it so much to illicit a response as I was hoping to just capture a moment. But as I am prone to do – I have spent the week trying to find God through this experience. What was the reason? What was the take away? What was He trying to teach me? It’s a funny thing, seeking after God – you will undoubtedly always find Him, but He will not always give you the answers you are after; a purposeful twist in having us continually looking for Him further. 😉

I can’t really say ‘and here is why the Lord allowed this,’ but here are a few take aways that it has brought to mind.

  • People are funny. I received an outpouring of thoughts and comments on the things that I wrote and among those were some pretty funny questions. Questions that I will not be answering, but found funny nonetheless.
    • Am I going to start doing movie reviews on all movies now?
    • Your kids don’t really talk that way do they?
    • (and my personal favorite) You are aware that you’re not a perfect mom, right? 😉
My only response to these and other questions posed: ‘For am I now trying to win the favor of people, or God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.’  Galatians 1:10 HSCB

 

  • IMGP6694You are watched even when you’re not paying attention. The first thing that came to mind through this experience was a game of hide-n-seek that I played with my first born when he was just three years old. He thought he was so perfectly hidden behind the curtains in his room – when as you can see from the picture – it was pretty evident where he stood. Very often we don’t pay attention to those around us – we don’t notice if they are watching us or if they hear the things we say. We throw a thought or comment on social media, we go about our daily routines, we carry on…normally with our own objectives and plans in mind and little else. We forget that people might be observing the things we say or do. We underestimate the example we are or the witness we could be. If we claim to be followers of Christ – people will be listening, people will be observing. Do the things you believe and claim match the life you live? Are you someone that draws others toward Christ or make them want to run the other direction?
‘For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.’ John 13:15 HSCB

 

  • Words are powerful. I am a lover of ‘words’. Words have the power to bring forth untapped emotions. They can bring healing and hope. They can tear down and destroy. They can be used to demonstrate unbelievable amounts of love or to inflict unspeakable levels of hurt. Words that have been written can be revisited over and over or used as walls to hide behind as we throw out anything and everything toward another. In the course of this last week I experienced both sides of that coin; powerful words of encouragement and gratefulness…biting words of disagreement and anger. While I did not feel the need to respond to either of these positions – how it resonated that it was because of my words that these strong emotions rose up. Our words are powerful. Are we building each other up? Are we tearing each other down? Are we driving anger or hate or are we seeking to bring moments of hope? The gift of words has been given to each of us – how are we yielding this powerful weapon?
‘I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.’ Matthew 12:36-37 HSCB

 

  • My God is far bigger than me. I don’t really need to elaborate much on this one. I am mess of a woman. I am flawed in many ways. I am terribly busy with the things of this life. I am hopelessly sarcastic. I am insecure. I have a long list of titles (mama, wife, best friend, sister, daughter, co-worker, boss, teacher, writer, enemy, Christ-follower…). I am just ‘me’. But God can and does do a lot with the ‘just me’s’ of this world. My plan was to capture a moment, God clearly had something else in mind.
‘Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ Proverbs 19:21 NIV

 

  • The rocks WILL cry out. At the end of the day I have absolutely no clue why that article spread to so many so quickly. I don’t know how the Lord fully used my words, and I am totally aware and fully confident that this time next week I will be resting comfortably again with my faithful 15. What I do know is that at every moment and in every opportunity I want to bring Him glory…in what I say, what I do…what I write. If I take nothing else away from this…if I can do nothing but encourage you – may it be in this…In the good moments – proclaim His glory. In the difficult times – praise His name. In the random, in the planned, in the unexpected, in the funny, in the serious…in all things at all times may we see Him, honor Him, praise Him, glorify Him and point others toward Him.
‘Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise…’ ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭96:2-4‬a NIV

 

An Unlikely View…a Different Review

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untitledAs I sit here this evening – I am overwhelmed with words and emotion and yet unsure how to express either. Days ago, I walked into a movie theater to view a movie I had been excited about since I had first heard it was in the works. Beauty and the Beast. I was 15 years old when the animated version came out. I remember watching it with my sister when she was home on break from college. I remember at the time feeling so moved by such a beautiful movie. The story hit me personally somehow; the music moved me; the characters impacted me. I remember even then thinking – how can this beautifully crafted cartoon have such an affect on me? So to say that I was both excited and nervous about the live action version is a bit understated. Excited to revisit a favorite in a new way and yet nervous because what if they totally destroyed the story I loved so much (it is after all Hollywood, where that is pretty par for the course).

Weeks before the movie was to be released – the world suddenly seemed turned on it’s side – as various reports about additional elements in the movie began to spin. I listened and observed an anger rise up in many; I heard the actual cries of ‘kill the beast’ at the hint of an ugliness that may be present in the film. Based on little information – I saw decisions made, lines drawn, and judgments locked in. I began to research sources that I trusted, and their reviews didn’t seem to align with the many angry voices I kept hearing. So four days ago, with girlfriends in tow, I went to see this newest version of my all time favorite animated movie. It was overwhelming. The cinematography, the music, the costumes, the littlest details, the story. It was far more beautiful than I was prepared for. The story so true to the original and the additional elements that were laced in – so perfectly placed and rich. For as much as I was swept away and entrenched into this poor provincial town – I did view certain moments and characters through the lens of the reviews I had heard before walking into the theater. Did I notice anything? Was there an agenda? Was there a moment? Those things couldn’t help but cross through my mind – as I watched from the perspective of ‘mama’, ‘minister’ and even just ‘friend’ for I knew I would be questioned from each of these vantage points. As I processed, I was so very moved by the character in question; watching a transformation of heart and conscience change him – I felt so proud. Then watching a hopeless ‘beast’ understand where his choices had lead him and yet he was able to hope again and an absolute jerk of a character, who swayed the masses and yet never learned a thing…I cannot say enough.

IMG_3599I knew that I wanted to take my two oldest children – my 12 year old – who is wired just like his mama with a deep heart and an overall love for theater and musicals; and my 9 year old, who has struggled thus far in life in often living out the role of Gaston more times than not. As we made our way to the theater, I had a little heart-to-heart with the kids. I asked them to do me a favor as they watched the movie tonight…I asked them to watch it with God in mind. I challenged them both to see if they could find any ‘God moments’ in the film. The opening monologue that spoke of there being no good in the beast – immediately had my 12 year old leaning over – saying ‘right there…that’s a God moment. Without God – there is no good in any of us’. The movie carried on and it soon got to the scene where the beast saves Belle from the wolves. My 9 year old leaned over and asked ‘why would he do that mama? why would he save her?’ – My simple answer in the moment was ‘because he is not evil’ – Her response ‘It’s God in us that would cause us to make decisions like that, isn’t it?’ Needless to say, I laid a challenge down to my kids and they both quickly affirmed they were up for that challenge. I soon began to look at the movie through this lens as well. Can I tell you how even more remarkably beautiful this movie became with God in mind?

free in christAs we walked out of the theater – my oldest was choked up. ‘Mom…the scene where the beast changes back to a man. That’s what happens when we give our hearts to Christ. The bad choices we made, the ugliness that may have been all over us – is cleared away. We are made new in Him.’ My Lacie chimed in ‘Mama, he had no hope. He thought he would be a beast forever – but with love he found that hope. That’s God, right? If God is love, we can find our hope in him, right?’ Back to my oldest…’The character of Gaston was a lot like Satan. Satan often makes himself look ‘beautiful’ but there is no good in him. There was no good in Gaston – none – and yet everyone (except a few) were swayed by his appearance. What a scary realization that so many can be so easily swayed by the enemy.’ The conversation continued the entire way home.

This movie was not created to be a catalyst for the gospel. It was not designed with an agenda to lead people to the cross or challenge them in their walk with the Lord…and yet that is exactly what our family took away. Was there sin in the movie – yes. There was a hateful man that treated women and men like the dirt beneath his feet, who lied, who abused, who lifted himself above everyone else. There was the inclusion of magic, of prejudice, the belittling of women, the hint of homosexuality, the abuse of the elderly, the worship of idols to name just a few. Not a one of these sins greater than the next; not a one less ungodly than the the other. None of them so blatant – all just a piece of the tapestry of the film. As a mama, I had a choice. I could have pointed out all of these things to my children before going into the theater.I could have painted a picture of hating all of these things and they would have watched the movie through that lens – absolutely. Instead, I asked them to view with God in mind. They did observe those same things, these sinful moments, but with the perspective of God in mind they viewed them with a broken heart, from a place of understanding our need for Jesus in this world. My little girl hopeful that she too would come to a place where she trusted the hope that is in Jesus – that she doesn’t have to be a ‘beast ‘ forever. My oldest challenged in his faith, strengthened in his walk. Their mama moved beyond what she can adequately express.

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The lessons I gleaned with God in mind tonight…are too many to elaborate on in an already long message. However, in one of the new songs written for this version of Beauty and the Beast – the words read ‘Love is beauty, love is pure. Love pays no mind to desolation. It flows like a river through the soul. Protects, proceeds, and perseveres and makes us whole.’ How can we not see God in those words?

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

I will simply say … when we look for evil, we will find it – every time. It won’t be hard to find and we won’t even have to look too deep…if humans are a part…sin will be present. When we look for God – He can and will be found. Every time. Put that lens of ‘looking for Him’ on – it is amazing what He will allow you to see.

A Stroll Through Hell

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photoIt was the week of fourth of July, Caleb was about seven weeks old and my in-laws had come to visit. It was exciting to show off our baby, and even more fun for my then 2-1/2 and 5 year old to play with their grandparents. We decided to venture out to the beach to soak in some rays and allow the grandparents from Kentucky a little time to dip their toes into the ocean. We loaded up the car and were on our way…that’s when I noticed it. The diamond in my engagement ring was gone. I sat shocked for a moment, and continually rubbed my fingers over the sharp claws that once held that small gem. I looked throughout the car, shook out my clothes, shook out the kids clothes and once at the beach went all through the beach bag. No diamond. I sat on the beach heartbroken. I had worn this ring for almost half my life and what it symbolized, and who it meant I belonged to were extremely valuable to me. Losing a part of that was simply put…sad. We went home that evening and I searched everywhere – even vacuumed just to search through the dust collector – no diamond showed up. The sharp prongs kept cutting into my finger and I slowly realized the ring had to come off. Heartbroken. For those who do not talk to themselves this will sound odd, but I sat myself down and had a ‘what is your problem girl’ conversation. Why was I so sad by the loss of this gem? Was I any less married to Chris because it was gone? Was I less of a woman? Outside of the amount of jewelry I was now wearing – had anything changed? No. I took a few deep breaths, tightened up my big girl britches and low-and-behold carried on with life.  😉

Not all moments of sadness and disappointment can be handled quite that well. Some moments are much more difficult to maneuver. My most difficult, without question, has been going through a miscarriage. I have never journeyed through something so horrific. First, there is the loss of the dream of a precious little one. After finding out we were pregnant, I would sit down and think of our little one, and would do so by continually looking at our other kids. Would this one be as dramatic as the others? Will he or she have Lacie’s smile or Caleb’s laugh? Would Isaac’s tender heart reside in this one as well? The bits and pieces of who our newest dream might be, lay in front of us – and my mind continually wondered how the pieces would come together. But that was lost. I am ridiculously in love with my Christopher – experiencing the joy of a little of him and little of me and a whole lot of God coming together to form these treasures that we call our children is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. But this new treasure, this new part of the two of us was lost. There’s no sweet way to express it – miscarriage breaks your heart. Hell.

That is the loss that my heart and mind went through, and then there was the loss of the pregnancy itself. As gently as I can express it – the actual miscarriage was hell. A hell on earth that I didn’t understand before this moment. There were weeks of exhaustion, pain and bleeding that wore my body down. There were so many unknowns – Will it be today? Will it happen on it’s own? What will it entail? The questions, the number of unknowns weighed heavy on my heart and mind. Then the actual miscarriage took place. It began on a Thursday evening – for several hours, I cried as my body began to sort through what needed to be done. Friday morning I woke up feeling okay, and for much of the morning wondered ‘was that it? did it happen?’ And then my body very graphically made sure I knew it had not yet taken place. There are no words to express what I went through, no horror movie that can compare to what I experienced, and no delicate way to explain. Nearly blacking out twice, I laid quiet that evening, numb in my heart, exhausted in my body, and desperately finding ways to block the experience from my brain. Hell.

I went to the doctor today – hoping to close the chapter – only to hear that more blood tests and another visit are still ahead just to ensure that I’m now not anemic or secretly housing some sort of infection. Sigh. I was doing well as I sat and listened to him talk until he began to talk about how strong I am. He admitted that he was surprised that not only did I go through the experience on my own, but that I did not cave in and go to the hospital. He fully expected that though I was hoping to avoid the hospital that I was going to end up there regardless. And he looked at me and commented on my strength. In that moment, I inwardly fell apart. He soon walked out and Chris even wondered why (having received good news that I would not need surgery) I was crying. I couldn’t verbalize in that moment, but suddenly the weeks of being strong hit the wall. Having to be physically strong to get through the ordeal; having to be mentally strong to get through the conversations that surrounded the subject; having to be strong for my kids so as not to scare or concern them; having to be strong for my Christopher so he could stay focused on work and church; having to be strong for myself so as not to cower in a corner somewhere. In one moment of a doctor acknowledging that strength – the rope broke. In a matter of seconds, strength turned to instant weakness. My body suddenly felt the pain and exhaustion. My heart felt 100 pounds heavier. My mind was suddenly fried. Strong? Me? No where even close. Hell.

Last night while the kids were eating their dinner, I took advantage of their having to be captive audiences to their dinner and decided to clean their rooms up. The normal routine of removing hidden toys from under beds, straightening up shelves, and clearing the floor. Halfway through cleaning up Isaac’s room I saw something out of the corner of my eye laying in the middle of his floor. I leaned down to pick it up and my feet collapsed under me. There laying in the fibers of the carpet sat a small tiny gem. My breath caught in my throat and my mind continually repeated – there is NO way! Picking it up I headed downstairs to the secret resting place of my engagement ring. Slowly I placed the sparkling gem into the broken setting and wouldn’t you know…a perfect fit. Three years have passed. Numerous adventures have been held in that room, countless runs of the vacuum…and yet there it lay. Impossible.

I have thought about it all day. There are a million things that could have (and should have, given the residents of this house) happened to that diamond. It should have been lost forever. Everything said to me that finding it again was impossible and yet there it was. Through this miscarriage, and even today as the bottom seems to have fallen out a bit – I am reminded that this isn’t forever. It has been hell, yes, but it’s a not a hell I have to live in. It does not have to continue. It is hell, but merely a stroll through it not a residency in it. Hopeful.

There are times that God feels distant, quiet, unseen and just not there. A considerable amount of time can go by where I can walk right by him and just not notice…but he is there; has always been there, will always be there. He is who gives me strength when I am weak (2 Corinthians 12:9). He makes himself known at just the right time and in just the right moment. He is the beautiful gem that fits perfectly into my broken heart. He himself has ‘strolled’ through hell – knows the walk, the pain, the inexpressible experience of it all – who better to lead me out of it? I am not strong, but I am gripping to him with all that I have and repeatedly saying ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD (my) God goes with (me); he will never leave (me) nor forsake (me).’ (Deuteronomy 31:6). And I wait, with great anticipation, for him to help me through. What is broken can be made whole again. Thankful!

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Holding Strong…

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This weekend a beautiful friend from my past drove over 5 hours just to come see me and spend the day with me. She wanted to be a shoulder to lean on, have an opportunity to look me in the face and tell me she loved me – and truth be told I think just wanted to physically see that I was okay. I knew that I needed to take her somewhere where we could get lost in the atmosphere while we talked about anything and everything- cuz that’s how they do it in cheesy chick flicks, right – so of course we headed to the beach. After a delicious meal we walked up and down the beach, and while the conversation was encouraging…I kept getting lost in the scenery. The ocean was extremely rocky…crashing waves repeatedly hitting the sand…and the clouds…amazing. One moment dark, the next white, gone then too many to see the sky. I couldn’t stop watching them move and change. Then out of nowhere I looked up – the sky a beautiful shade of blue laced with clouds and there in the middle a beautifully full moon. Needless to say this completely distracted me for much of the night (I think if I pointed out the moon even once more she would have chucked me into the ocean.)

Several days later…I’m still struck by the images from our walk primarily because they remind me so much of where I am right now. I will be honest – and if it makes me look stupid, well it’s a look I wear well – but in all my years of being in the church, in my time serving in a women’s ministry, in my time having friend after friend get pregnant, in my lifetime of being a woman – I don’t think I have ever fully understood what it meant to have a miscarriage. I’ve heard the term countless times and my ignorance had the experience of it so wrong. I think I thought it was similar to the idea that comes to mind when you hear ‘she had her baby’ – when someone has a baby, they endure hours of labor (and a barrage of other things) and then ‘ta da’ the baby is here. For some reason I thought ‘she’s having a miscarriage’ operated the same way…that you struggle for a hours (a barrage of other things would happen) and that was the end. How completely stupid am I? We found out almost two weeks ago that there were problems, about a week ago that the baby was gone, and then Thursday last week I thought that was going to be the day…but it wasn’t. Friday came, my body began to show signs (some not worth detail), pain…that was going to be the day…nope. Saturday…wrong again. Sunday…tears ran down my face, my body contracting and pain that caused my breathing to be labored…this would be the day…no. Call me stupid…but this is just NOT what my head thought to prepare for…and suddenly I want to go to every woman who I know has walked this road and gently hug them for their unknown, unspoken strength.

photo 2Many have asked how I am…how do I answer? I feel very much like this picture…rocky waves that keep crashing down, a cloud just hanging right over my head. When will the rain in that cloud let loose? How much more rocky and turbulent will the waters become? I have no clue. My body has not given into the inevitable…and the clock is ticking…ten more days and the risk of infection will be too great and doctors, hospitals and procedures will have to come into play. How am I doing? In truth…I’m worn, weary.

photo 4But then…as is the way God has always dealt with me…in the unknown, in the weak moment, in my tiredness, in my sadness…He comes unexpected…much like that ridiculous moon in the middle of my sunny ocean view. Yes, the waves are crashing…yes, the storm will break loose – how, when, in what way – I don’t know. But there He is…there He will be…that unexpected beautiful image to focus my attentions on. David said it so much better than I ever could…’I lift my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. (Psalm 121, NIV)’  In other words…He’s got me. How am I? Thankful for the reminder that He has me…thankful to try to focus on that and not the storms and waves of weariness and fear of the unknown that surround me. Encouraged and humbled by the love we’ve experienced from others…holding strong.

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