Sometimes I forget to spit out the seeds…

Posts tagged ‘Jesus’

Jesus Had Our Back

My family has been very fortunate. In our immediate, nuclear family of mom, dad, and four sisters, we’ve experienced few truly difficult situations. And then last year, we entered what my mom at one point called “the darkest chapter.” The GRACE, looking back from this point, and the HOPE, looking forward, are almost indescribable. We’re now closing that dark chapter, and I want to tell you, unequivocally, that –

Jesus had our back.

My baby sister, Christina, is 18 years younger than I am. We didn’t grow up together, but as she approached adulthood, we grew infinitely closer. We started to really feel that sister-thing.

Christina met a man, and fell in love. We all loved that man, too. My children were drawn to him. My husband became fast friends with him. When that man was marrying my sister, and his friends bailed on him, my husband stood up with him at the altar as his best man. We were happy and excited to add that man to our family.

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One year later, that man decided to quit our family. In the most abrupt and shocking way possible, he ended his marriage to my sister. I had been praying for them for a couple of days, because Christina had asked me to. I knew they’d hit a rough patch, like every marriage does. But I never in my wildest dreams imagined I’d receive a text from Christina with the word “divorce” in it. I stared at my phone in disbelief, then turned it to my husband so he could read it. His face fell in shock and confusion.

At first, we all prayed fervently for reconciliation, but it quickly became apparent that the man had no interest in that. A group of that man’s friends, including my husband, tried to meet with him – to encourage him, to support him, to mentor him in this hard thing called marriage. He refused. He cut all ties…. ghosted himself…. dropped a bomb and walked away. He changed his status on social media to “single,” and deleted all photographic evidence to the contrary.

We had to tell our children that their uncle was leaving their aunt, and leaving our family. I sat, with my husband clutching my hand and tears running down his face, as we told our older children exactly what was happening. At first, we told our little ones just to pray for him, but later had to explain the full truth. A few months later, our then-five-year-old mentioned her uncle in the same breath as her great-grandpa who had died. She said she was sad about them both, and it took my breath away. She seemed confused, because she knew her uncle hadn’t died, but that’s what it felt like to her. He was there at every birthday, holiday, and family gathering as far back as she could remember; and then one day he was just gone. But children are resilient, more than I ever realized; they are, and will continue to be, absolutely ok.

As the days, weeks, and months went by, and more details were revealed, I became angrier than I’d ever been in my entire life. As a person who never cared much for swearing, I was surprised at the language circulating in my brain. Regular words seemed painfully insufficient. I asked God where He was in all this. Why hadn’t He warned us? Why did He allow my sister, who was always seeking Him for her future, to choose a man who would do this? Why hadn’t there been some colossal sign that none of us could ignore?

Most Christians I know have tried to rationalize the intricate web of free will, God’s will, and His omniscient nature. We eventually have to be willing to suspend our confusion and grab hold of faith, knowing that our human minds are just not capable of truly understanding the Almighty God or His ways. We know He’s intrinsically good, and that’s enough. But when we’re faced with tragedy or betrayal, we wonder “why?” all over again.

And then, I began to see God work in me, turning my consuming, blinding anger into compassion. I realized that what was missing in that man, what allowed him to walk out on his promise with seemingly no hesitation or remorse, was a confident knowledge of how much he is LOVED by Jesus. I was able to pray for him instead of curse him. I’m not saying I was instantly “over it,” because the anger, even now, creeps up on me again and again. There are times that I feel more anger than anything else, as more of his actions come to light. It feels like an endless cycle of choosing to forgive, being blindsided by some new piece of information, and giving in to the vengeful fantasies which can never be fulfilled. But my Jesus is always bigger than the anger, and He pulls me back around.

While I was struggling with how this affected my family and me, I was trying to be there for Christina, while not knowing exactly how to do that. She processed what was happening to her with grief, anger, courage, venting, faith, snarkiness (laugh so you don’t cry all the time!), prayer, patience, strength, and intelligence. Some things that she went through I saw right as they were happening. Other things she held close and then downloaded to me all at once, which was overwhelming at times. But I knew that Christina needed to be free to deal in her own way….there was no blueprint for her to follow.

I also began to realize that the stereotypical Christian response of “God hates divorce” is very simplistic, and even misleading. God created the covenant of marriage, and it is in His perfect design for it to be permanent during this life here on Earth. And so it grieves Him when that covenant is treated casually, violated, or destroyed. It also grieves and angers Him to see His children mistreated, abandoned, belittled, abused, and neglected. I think it’s so, so important to emphasize this point: while God does hate divorce, and in the perfect world He created no marriage would end that way, what grieves Him the most is the damage that is done to His children.

When I really began to see what God was doing for Christina, I was amazed. I knew He had been there even in that first, devastating moment, holding her in His arms, as she received the biggest blow of her life. I absolutely knew He’d be faithful to her. And yet….He did things in her that I never expected; that sometimes I didn’t even understand. He protected her in ways I couldn’t have imagined, preserving her precious heart for the future, when it easily could have been consumed with hardness and bitterness. As I watched Him work miraculously in her life, I was in awe of His GOODNESS, and MERCY. Wow! I can’t wait to see what’s next for this fabulous sister of mine!

God knows the plans He has for [Christina]. Plans to prosper [her], and not to harm [her]. Plans to give [her] HOPE and a FUTURE. ~Jeremiah 29:11

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When Hope Sinks

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I envisioned it being many things.  I had just begun to experience some health problems, for the first time in my life.  One of my purposes in writing was to both vent my frustration at not being “well,” and catalog my journey to wholeness. Because I was sure that “wholeness” was where I was headed.  I had confidence in the wisdom of doctors and the power of God to heal.

I haven’t published nearly as many posts as I’ve written, in my head, or uncompleted in my drafts folder.  I became weary of chronicling every dead end I encountered.  Trying to escape my tunnel vision, I wrote about other things that God laid on my heart.

Sometimes my brain is screaming with all the things I want to write about what I am going through, but I silence it.  Because it is redundant.  Because it is whiny.  Because the world doesn’t need one more pity-party.

The other day I was feeling so stuck, and stifled, and wondering why blogging about my “journey to wholeness” had become so stale.  I thought about my previous posts, and I suddenly saw a pattern.  They were all about hope, followed by hopes dashed.

I put hope in everything…..

Hope in a “miracle” supplement, supported by hope in a TV doctor.

Hope in a nutritionist-to-the-stars and her metabolism-healing plan.

Hope in coffee, which I had never drank before, to combat fatigue.

Hope in a new doctor, and then another new doctor, to not give up on me.

Hope in WebMD, or an online survey, or some other method of self-diagnosis.

Hope in natural remedies to treat my self-diagnosed conditions.

Hope in another blood test that will surely reveal the elusive cause of my misery.

So many times, I was sure that wholeness was just around the corner.  But it wasn’t.  It still isn’t.

As I thought about this pattern of hope, I heard in my head, softly and slowly:

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

Through every instance of building up my hope, putting it all on that one thing, I was still praying….still trusting God.  But He wasn’t my focus.  He wasn’t my source.  And when that one thing turned out to not be the thing, my hopes were shattered.  By losing focus on my Savior, I set myself up for devastation, again and again.

This realization comes on the cusp of new hope.  A new doctor.  A fresh view.  A different approach.  But I am very consciously fixing my hope on Jesus.  And turning it back to Him as often as I need to.

My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.                     I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.                     On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.                               When darkness veils His lovely face, I rest on His unchanging grace.                       In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.

We Can’t Be All

In my last post, I talked about embracing your place.  Seeing the eternal value of serving others in mundane, physical ways; specifically in the role of motherhood, but really, in so many others, as well.  Immediately after publishing that post, my mind was swirling with an addendum.  What if, along with embracing our place, we embrace each other?

Let’s call this Christianity 101.  In a way, it’s really Humanity 101, because the basic premise applies to us all, regardless of spiritual beliefs.  But bear with me as I stick to the Christian verbiage, because I’m not sure what the secular translation would be.

The Body of Christ.  Sunday School basics, right?  We all have our own part to play, based on our gifts, skills, and passions.  If we work cohesively, it’s a beautiful thing.  If we try to take over someone else’s role, it just doesn’t work.  If you’re familiar with Psalty the Singing Songbook, you might remember the song about the Body of Christ.

“I am the eye, I go blink-blink.  I am the eye, and I can wink.  I am the eye, but I can’t think.  That belongs to my friend the brain!”  And so on, each part declaring their strengths, while acknowledging that they can’t do it all.

Even worse than shoving our self in a position that belongs to someone else is if we devalue their role.  If we mock their passion as something unworthy of their efforts.  You may think you’d never do that, but it happens subtly.

What does that look like?

It is usually expressed with some version of, “there are more important things to do/fight for/promote”

If someone lobbies for the change of unjust laws, someone else will say that this is just our temporary home. Why bother?

If someone stands up for freedom of religious expression, someone else will say there is no persecution here; others are dying for their faith.

If someone fights for quality school lunches, because there are kids in our country who rely on that meal to sustain them, someone else will say that somewhere else in the world there are children actually starving to death.

If someone tries to defend children’s rights to genital integrity, someone else will say that children are being murdered in the womb.  Death is worse.

If someone decides they are going to stop wearing leggings, or bikinis, or low-cut tops, and encourages others to consider doing the same, someone else will say that it only matters what’s in their heart. Only salvation matters.

We end up tearing each other down, belittling causes and ministries that are not only dear to someone’s heart, but also God-ordained.

If you don’t feel passion for another person’s cause or ministry, that’s fine.  We are not all required to be a part of all things.  Remember that Body of Christ thing?  Do what you are designed, or called, or gifted to do.

Jesus is…. Loving.  Compassionate.  Blunt.  Serving.  Forgiving.  Confrontational.  Patient.  Humble.  Cunning.  Strong.

He is all those things, and we’re supposed to represent Him to the world.  To be those things as we do His work, whatever that is for us, personally.  To live so that others will see Him.  In us.  How can we be all of those things?

We can’t.  Jesus is all.  We can’t be all, and we can’t do all.  Embrace each other, and trust Him to use each of us to cover all the bases.

Children are the Best Medicine

There’s a lot of darkness in this world.  Depression.  Illness.  Lack.  Anxiety.  Crime.  Loss.  Sorrow.  Sometimes it all comes at once, closing in on us.  We reach out in desperation for something to hold on to, to keep us from swirling away in that darkness.  I reach out to Jesus.

I reach out for comfort and clarity.  The comfort usually comes immediately, as soon as I say His name, because I know He is there.  But clarity.  That one can evade my grasp indefinitely.  And the harder I strive for it, the more elusive it becomes.  I think Jesus wants us to have clarity, for sure.  He wants us to step forward in life with confidence in His plan.  But He also wants us to trust Him.  If we had the whole picture, we’d have to push really hard against the temptation to let that trust shift to ourselves.  So He only gives us a glimpse.

Instead of trusting “the plan,” I’m forced to simply trust in Him.  Trust in what I know for sure.  That He created me in His image.  That He loves me more than I can grasp.  That He wants only good for me.  That I am righteous through His sacrifice.  As I circle around, clinging to those truths and waiting for what comes next, I’m still in the midst of my hectic life, keeping it together for the sake of my family.

It occurred to me, the other day, that the Lord has orchestrated my life for such a time as this.  He has given me the medicine I need to bring back my joy, and then bring it back again and again when I lose it.  He has given me children.

I am in a somewhat unique position.  While I do not have a baby right now, nor do I have any adult children, I’ve got pretty much everything in between.  The joy in parenting is different for each stage of childhood, and right now, I feel like I’ve got it all!  God has blessed me with eight amazing little (and not-so-little) people.  Not just for a lifetime; not just for eternity; but for this day.   I want to bring you an ode to my children….the tools through which God is the “lifter of my head.”

Fourteen-year-old boy.  It is surreal and almost giddy to see him, so tall, strong, and handsome.  I see that when he gently roughhouses with his tiniest sister, he’s not just avoiding his school work….he actually enjoys it.  He rolls his eyes and runs away when his sisters try to tackle him, but I can see that it pleases him, and he lets them catch him.  We are still working on respect, but he is getting it.  He’s working hard.  He’s still a kid, and would rather be playing, but when we call on him to help out, he does it diligently and with 100% effort.  Joy number one.

Thirteen-year-old boy.  He recently offered a greeting and a goodbye to family members, unsolicited, and unprompted.  That is huge for this boy.  My heart swells to see him engaging in conversations, looking others in the face, and smiling when he does it.  With a memory like a steel trap and a voracious appetite for reading anything and everything, I can see that God has equipped him to overcome those blind spots in his mind.  While his stories and his LEGO creations are intricate, he finds pleasure in simple things, and the whole world knows when he is amused.  Joy number two.

Eleven-year-old boy.  I see him seeking out the little boys at church, letting them hang on and pummel him.  He begs for a baby brother;  but while he is waiting for God to give him that, he embraces his role as big brother to five sisters.  In school, he struggles only against his desire for perfection.  Learning comes easily to him, and I am glad.  He loves to hear, “I love you,” and always says it back.  He might even let me hug him.  Joy number three.

Nine-year-old girl.  This beauty is a fascinating blend of her father’s athleticism and her mother’s introverted mind.  His singing voice, my book addiction.  Her insanely thick hair gives me vain pride, and her nurturing attitude makes me smile.  She still climbs into my short lap, with her long legs, for a snuggle.  On the brink of adolescence, tears come more easily to her now; and while I know that the coming years may be filled with emotional upheaval, I’m excited for what we’ll get to share.  Joy number four.

Seven-year-old girl.  I see her big smile – teeth overcrowding her little mouth – and freckled nose, and can’t help but smile back.  Her laugh is at times a guffaw, and so contagious.  She’s usually included in the “big kid” activities, but she’ll also take the lead with the younger kids, engaging them in a tea party or block-building marathon.  When doing chores, she does more than is required of her, without complaining.  Her servant heart is emerging.  Joy number five.

Six-year-old girl.  We call her “Brutus.”  Since she was a baby, she has come at life with a great force and boundless energy, sometimes trampling those in her way.   She stubbornly refuses help when she’s reading, often books that are beyond her ability, and just makes up words when she is stumped.  The results are pretty hilarious.  She is fearless, and thinks she can do it all.  Even her rascally escapades exude creativity and ingenuity.  Joy number six.

Four-year-old girl.  Her fake-looking eyelashes are ridiculously beautiful on a child, and her eyes captivate me.  Four is a fun age, filled with curiosity, drama, and rapid learning.  She speaks with a bit of a lisp.  She admires the older boys in her life….brothers, cousins, and friends of theirs.  They can usually tolerate her hanging on their arm or putting their name in a song, because she is so adorable.  I think she forgot how to walk, because she seems to leap or skip wherever she goes.  Joy number seven.

Three-year-old girl.  She will be three in one week, but it seems like she’s already been three for months.  I’m not one to rush through life’s stages, but she has been a very articulate two-year-old.  We crack up daily at her observations and explanations of  life.  Her snuggles lift my spirit immediately.  If you’ve never had a toddler bury their face in your neck while patting your back as you embrace, I highly recommend it.  Even her fake tantrums (“fake” because she’s not really upset), with her arms folded and an exaggerated pout on her face, fill my heart to the brim.  Joy number eight.

I could write for days about both the trials and the joys of motherhood.  But the Lord has brought these joyful moments to the forefront for me….like one of those trippy hidden pictures that were all the rage in the ’90’s.  You’re looking at a crazy, swirling, confusing, and frustrating mess.  Then all of a sudden, you see it.  The picture seems to magically rise to the surface.  And I realize……children are the best medicine.

Aside

Drama, Jesus, and Peace

Snarky.  The last two blog posts I attempted to write were incredibly snarky, and probably inflammatory.  They both were inspired by real-life, snark-inducing events.  While I doubt that the subjects of those posts would ever read my blog, if they DID happen upon it, they surely would recognize themselves in my words.  I don’t want to be that blogger who uses my posts as a virtual diary, so raw and transparent that they serve no purpose but to vomit out the angry contents of my brain with no attempt at finding any redemptive lesson in the thing.

As I’ve contemplated these two blog-inspiring events, I did see a common thread, and perhaps even that redemptive lesson.

I have a sister who is nearing the end of her teenage years, eagerly anticipating the end of her drama-filled high school days.  I wish I could assure her that the drama does, indeed, vanish when you hit adulthood.  I wish.  These two recent events in my life, one of which is actually a long-term situation rather than a single event, are full-on adults-causing-drama events.

1)  Adult person hates myself and all of my adult immediate family members for no apparent reason, with no explanation.  “Hates” is my word, not theirs.  But they have cut off all contact with us, defriended us on facebook (and we know that facebook friendships can be merely perfunctory, with no real value….even that was intolerable to this person), avoided being in the same place as us.

2)  Man-boy (technically an adult, but barely) verbally abuses someone I love (among other unmentionable offenses), and makes disparaging remarks about my children.  Man-boy is a product of his environment, but as he is an adult, that excuse doesn’t fly with me.  Time to suck it up and act like a decent human being.

Both of these situations can be attributed to the offenders being jerks ignorant petty  <—ok, truthfully, those things, too, but mostly they are….

Broken.  They are sad, and miserable, and broken.  That is the only reason I can think of that a grown person would participate in such drivel.  There may be a small percentage of adults that actually like drama, and even thrive on it, in the same way that many teenagers do (you know, the ones who are always simultaneously posting about how much they hate drama and giving a play-by-play of the intimate details of their lives).  But I do not believe that the majority of adults fall into this category.  (For the sake of humanity, let me be right about that!)

No, the ones who continue to lash out in hateful and hurtful ways….they are broken.  And guess what?  Bottom line is, they need Jesus.  They need Him just like I need Him, to make them whole.  I have to remind myself of that, when these things resurface, as they always do, and threaten to disrupt my happy world with nastiness and hurt.  I need to see them as Jesus sees them.  And even (gasp) love them.

I’m not in a position to love either of these people in an active sort of way.  They are not directly part of my life, nor do I wish them to be, for the time being.  But I can dial down the reciprocating animosity in favor of compassion.  I can dismiss the ranting in my brain in favor of a quick prayer for them.  In fact, whenever I feel my anger rising again, I can combat it by praying for them.  There is peace available from my Savior.  For them, and for me.  Thank you, Jesus.