Hope amid hurts

Hope amid hurts

I read a beautiful post today, a reminder that I so desperately needed.

You see, most days are pretty good, normal. We go about the business of living. But some days are heavy. Hard. Full of hurt. And we’ve had a few of those recently. It’s hard to smile and pretend the simple tête-à-tête means anything when you have such a burden in your heart, such a heavy, heavy burden.

I have begun to wonder if we will ever truly heal from our loss. Not that I doubt the Lord’s work in us, but understanding that we continue to live in a broken world, it follows that we will continue to be broken people.

One thought in particular from the blog post I mentioned above struck me:

Every passing day that you wait in hope, whether you feel it or not, your faith is maturing.

And so I will continue to wait in hope. I will bolster my courage to go one more day in hope that the Lord can bring good out of tragedy. I will hope for one more day that He is working in us. And tomorrow, I will hope for one more day again. Because every day I wait in hope, I am growing.

Hope printable

free printable from Beautifully Rooted

My soul melts…

I found this verse today. Although I suppose I’ve heard it before, I’ve never seen this particular version, or else it never struck me as it did today.

My soul melts from heaviness;
Strengthen me according to Your word.
~ Psalm 119:28

This is me.

Somewhere deep inside I know I have hope for a better tomorrow, the freshness of a new beginning with the new year. I have delight in the experiences that are coming. And yet, so often these days, my soul melts from heaviness.

Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

Around this time last year I began contemplating what I would choose for my word for the year.

It didn’t take me long to settle on “slowing.” The year before I had gone with “stewardship,” and I felt that this would help me grow in the same vein.

I can’t say that I was perfect at following my word for the year, in fact so much of the time I was racing to keep up so I could find the time to figure out how to slow down. But even in the craziness (and this year has been crazy), I had that reminder deep within me–a little something nudging my heart and saying, remember to slow down. And I sincerely tried to.

It was so far from perfect though.

There are areas where I have improved. For instance, going to bed early is a must–it helps keep me sane and gets me through the work week. Husband and I are devoted to spending Sundays together–we rarely even make any plans beyond “oh, this would be fun” or “we could maybe do that.” It’s been a wonderful practice to focus on resting, being, slowing, instead of getting things done.

And there are areas that still need improvement–like the frantic race from work to home to barn back to home to small group to home and finally grabbing a bite at nearly midnight.

So this year, as 2012 came to a close, I was pondering what my word will be for 2013. I prayed the Lord would reveal to me what He would have me focus on, what He would have me learn and pursue.

Several possibilities were tucked away in my brain, but the one I have settled on was not one of them. It came as a surprise when we were sitting in the Christmas Eve service at our church preparing our hearts to celebrate Christ’s birth. Suddenly, as we read a prayer the words leaped from the page and the Lord nudged my heart. Those were my words, right there in front of me, in black and white.

The prayer goes like this:

Eternal God, heavenly Father,
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us the strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Did you catch that phrase? Did it leap at you out of the text as it did for me?

Singleness of Heart

It’s a bold phrase, a real one. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to mean stretching, growing. I’m not even sure I know what it means…but I know I need it.

There are other goals for this year, of course, more concrete ones that I’ll share with you soon. And I will focus on those as well, but this little phrase will be the mantra of my year, the definition of my year… Singleness of Heart

Yearning

Yearning

I cried myself to sleep the other night.

For the first time in my life I truly, honestly, gut-wrenchingly yearned for the return of Christ. And I told Him so. I begged Him to come.

I’m tired of the brokenness of our world. I’m tired of living in the brokenness, of being the brokenness. I’m ready for Him to make things right, to restore it all to the way it was intended to be.

I’m ready to be reunited with loved ones–with Michael. I’m ready.

For the first time in my life, I care more about that than about the chance to live my life, to see my own, petty dreams come true.

But I felt the hand of God gently remind me to be patient. It is for the sake of others that He waits to return. It is for the love of the lost that He waits.

That night I had no love for the lost. I cared not for their eternity. I cared only for my heart’s pain.

I know the Lord understands. Christ felt the same things that I am feeling now. He wept for his friends, He yearned to be past the pain of this world onto the glory of paradise.

And I yearn for paradise as well.

Sunset

Ironically, on Sunday, our pastor preached about this exact thing–about the second coming. When was the last time you thought about Christ’s second coming? he asked. Last night, I thought.

It is a knowing that I wasn’t familiar with before, but one that I identify with now. Everything I do, say, see–it’s all tinged with the intimate knowing that there is more, deeper, beyond. I used to marvel at the great writers and thinkers of Christianity’s history–the ones who strove and yearned and prayed for Christ’s coming. I wondered at their boldness, and I questioned their seeming lack of love for those in this world who had yet to live. I wanted that chance to live. But now I know. I know that the living we do here is but an echo of the life we were made to live. And I yearn for that life.

I desire in my uttermost being the restoration of this world, of this people. I want to be what we were supposed to be. I want the brokenness banished. I want the pain to leave this world. I want Christ here now. And I want Michael back.

But the Lord counsels me to be patient, to put the needs of the lost before the desires of my own heart. The Lord is patient that more may come to know His saving grace. And so I too must be patient.

Mary, Martha, Migraines and more

Mary, Martha, Migraines and more

Coffee Dates with God

I was recently having a gmail chat with a dear friend that I don’t see nearly often enough. I was horribly missing her companionship and perspective in my life and began completely unloading all the thoughts that have been rolling around in my head.

In the middle of the conversation, this came out:

I’m trying to find the balance between being uncomfortable where I am (stretching) and yet still having peace…working hard and adhering to all those proverbs about sowing/plowing/working/being like ants, and also adhering to Scripture that says “be still” and Jesus’ example of leaving the crowds to be in the garden or the boat to rest and pray…balance is hard

If I take the time to sit down, I feel lazy… if I exhaust myself running around, I feel like Martha…

This is the crux of my life right now. And its a tough one to figure out.

I know the story of Mary and Martha, and every so often it makes its way back to the forefront of my mind. I don’t want to be a Martha…but how do I become a Mary?

So much of Scripture also commands diligent, hard work: One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys. (Prov. 18:9) And perhaps most applicably this summer, the comparison to the ant: Ants are creatures of little strength, yet they store up their food in the summer (Proverbs 30:25).

And one of the most compelling to me–Proverbs 31. Most of this Scripture passage refers to business, work, and responsibilities. It says things such as “She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family” and “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks” and “She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” How does one live up to that example and yet still be a “Mary”?

How do I become this diligent, hard working, providing wife without losing the ability to sit at the feet of my Lord?

Scripture said that Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Boy does that describe me sometimes (especially during the holiday season…which isn’t too far away).

Shortly after my conversation that sparked these thoughts, a migraine hit me from out of nowhere…I’m talking serious vision disturbance, distorted equilibrium, severe pain, nausea… Bad.

I left work early and went home to rest. The severe pain eventually subsided, but the residual pain and fogginess remained. It’s what I call “migraine hangover.” For two more days I was forced to slow down, take my time, not expend so much energy, not get distracted by my long to-do list.

Perhaps it was my body forcing me to give it what it needs…even to my own detriment and pain. I needed to slow down. To take things one little step at a time, approaching my responsibilities with care. To not get “distracted” by preparations and responsibilities.

It was a reminder that I need balance.

Perhaps the best answer to my quandary is simply to counsel myself with the words of my Lord: “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.”

Rythms

Rythms

Coffee Dates with God - Rhythm

There are so many encouraging verses in the Bible. Ones that tell us to be strong and courageous, ones that exhort us to have faith and move mountains, ones that tell us we can do everything through Christ. But while I love the strength I can gain from meditating on these, there is a different part of Scripture that brings me more comfort and peace.

Ecclesiastes 3 starts out like this:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What do workers gain from their toil? I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it.”

You see, while we sometimes need our courage and faith bolstered by grand, empowering verses, I have found that my biggest struggle is simply with daily life. The ups and downs, ins and outs. These verses bring so much hope and comfort that the Lord understands our need for rhythm. That life has rhythm and life is rhythm.

I used to think that I needed a routine to be productive, rested and content. So I tried taking my usual patterns and forcing them into a strict routine carved in stone. But all that did was add more stress to my life as I tried to perform this routine in vain.

That’s when I realized that it isn’t routine I crave, but rhythm.

wave

I eventually came to realize that God doesn’t just understand our need for rhythm, but He created it. Morning and evening. Work and rest. Planting and harvesting. Ebb and flow. Rhythm is apparent throughout all of creation. Why would we be any different? Because our fancy alarm clocks can wake us up long before the sun rises? Because energy drinks can keep us going long after our minds should be resting?

I am trying to grasp more of the concept of rhythm and apply a new vision to my life–with hot tea, more rest, a little yoga, leisurely mornings…

The bane of my existence

The bane of my existence

Coffee Dates with God - Mornings

I have identified the bane of my existence.

Mornings.

There is very little that I hate as much as getting up in the morning. You would think that after 25 years (20 of which I have had to rise early for school, work, or barn chores…sometimes very early) I would be used to it. But no. Every morning, I dread having to pull back the covers, wipe the sleep from my eyes and step out into the cold air.

Of course, my hatred of mornings usually eases with the increase in temperature as spring and summer arrive…but easing doesn’t necessarily mean that it becomes easy. I have struggled in vain to make myself a morning person. I have formulated motivations, challenges, rewards, and more to rise early. And yet, every morning, I groan and hit the snooze button a few too many times.

I’m beginning to wonder if I should just give up…give up on trying to be someone I’m not.

I do believe in being myself.

Although I also believe in dying to self.

So do I continue to try to be a morning person? To rise with joy and enthusiasm for the day? Or do I drag myself from under the covers with a “cute frowny face” as Husband says. I drag myself through my morning routine, and as minimal as it is, I still manage to forget things, like putting on a belt, or eating breakfast, or opening the windows on the pleasant day.

It seems like life would be so much better if mornings were a delight instead of a disaster. But how do I create that? Because nothing I’ve tried seems to work.

I have come to the realization that I cannot do this on my own. Nothing I am doing has worked, and that isn’t likely to change. So today I want to start a new approach.

I want to learn what the Lord has to say about mornings. Then I’ll go from there. I don’t know where this journey will take me, but at least it will be more fulfilling than my futile attempts to change myself. BibleGateway.com reports 210 instances of the word “morning” in the NIV translation of the Bible. I’m going to make it my mission to read and learn from each and every reference. Starting here…

“God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.” – Gen. 1:5

Inexpressible charm

Inexpressible charm

Inexpressible charm

This morning I was reading Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest, a book of incredible revelations from the preachings of Chambers throughout his life.

And this one part truly struck me: “Let the attitude of your life be a continual willingness to ‘go out’ in dependence upon God, and your life will have a sacred and inexpressible charm about it that is very satisfying to Jesus.”

I want to have a sacred and inexpressible charm about my life today and always.

Faithful

Faithful

Coffee Dates with God

It’s time for a coffee date with God. It’s time to sit back and consider my week, my life, the things that He has been teaching me. And you know what? I’m at a complete loss.

The past week was a hard one. Just plain hard.

What did I learn? That God is faithful.

What do I need to keep learning? That God is faithful.

What can I look back on and know with absolute certainty? That God is faithful.

I keep telling myself I won’t forget. But I do. So, so often.

Does that break His heart? It breaks mine a little.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites built an Ebenezer: Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” – 1 Samuel 7:12

I have a dream of one day constructing my own Ebenezer, a reminder of the faithfulness of God. But why do I have to wait for someday? Why is this the least important thing on my to-do list? Why don’t I build one now? Because you know what? I need one now.

Maybe I will spend this week meditating on this verse and planning my own Ebenezer…I think it’s past time I had one.