Being held

I haven’t always felt it, but I’m starting to today. Plates are falling…the one’s I’ve been trying to balance, and it’s making me quite nervous & irritated. The loud commotion that I can’t quite seem to calm, stirs my insides in a way that can’t be silenced. But today, I was given a gift of being held. In prayer, in though & in loving touch.

Something I’ve noticed this year, is how much touch is a form of love for me. Just having someone put their hand on my shoulder, or to bump knees with someone, or to just be held in a longer than normal embrace. It does something to that back & forth feeling within me, that I can’t quite explain. Today, someone reminded me of us resting in God’s hand…with His touch, holding us. Gently. Tenderly. Firmly. Not letting go. I loved that. Some days I just wish that someone would just come along & hold me. I can’t always ask for it, I just want it to happen. And today, I remembered that when I don’t get that in human form, I’ll always get it and AM having that from my heavenly Father.

He’s holding me, giving me a kind of rest that is not human, that is not the same as sleep, but more closely resembles peace within my soul. A gentle caressing of the spirit that will settle my deep restlessness. To rest, open & unafraid in His large hands is beautiful. A song I played this week gave me this peace too…

I am tired and weary, but I must toil on
Till the Lord comes to call me away,
Where the morning is bright and the Lamb is the light,
And the night is as fair as the day.

There’ll be peace in the valley for me someway,
There’ll be peace in the valley for me.
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be,
There’ll be peace in the valley for me.

There the flow’rs will be blooming,
the grass will be green,
And the skies will be clear and serene,
The sun ever shines, giving one endless beam
And no clouds there will ever be seen.

There the bear will be gentle, the wolf will be tame,
And the lion will lay down by the lamb,
The host from the wild will be lead by a Child,
I’ll be changed from the creature I am.

No headaches or heartaches or misunderstands,
No confusion or troubles won’t be
No frowns to defile, just a big endless smile
There’ll be peace and contentment for me.

There’ll be peace in the valley for me someway,
There’ll be peace in the valley for me.
I pray no more sorrow and sadness or trouble will be,
There’ll be peace in the valley for me. —Thomas Dorsey, “Peace in the Valley”

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How is it that people can make you cry so much? Songs conjure up so many sorrows & truths, breath & life….Ah, I just can’t stand it. Today was a “great” day, on many counts. I sifted through 2 month old mail, read another few chapters in my current book, briefed myself on the news, cleaned my apartment & was in my pj’s until 3pm. Although, it was just a lonely day. There was something hitting me today, that just wouldn’t shrug off. Even though the thought of actually seeing or being with another person made me shudder, all I really wanted to do was just sit with someone. Feel their arm around my shoulder & know that I could cry & cry without judgment. Then there in the car tonight, listening to deafening music, one of my past favorite songs came on and as I’m singing the lyrics, the chorus came on & I burst into tears, realizing what I was singing…..”not alone, no we’re not alone now, honey. we’ll make it home ’cause we’re not alone.” As I cried out the words, I realized that was God’s little reminder that as lonely as I felt today, He was there with me…the whole day, not just then, but I didn’t realize it until I was in the car.

How long o’Lord, must we wait, how long until you calm our spirits, until we meet you face to face & you dry our every tear? Why can it not be today? Why can it not be right now? I long for you, search for you & hold fast to your promise. ….

I know…

“I do not know what lies ahead, the way I cannot see; Yet One stands near to be my guide, He’ll show the way to me. I do not know how many days of life are mine to spend; But One who knows and cares for me will keep me to the end. I do not know the course ahead, what joys and griefs are there; But One is near who fully knows, I’ll trust his loving care.

“I know who holds the future and I know He holds my hand. With God things don’t just happen, everything by Him is planned; So as I face tomorrow with it’s problems large and small, I’ll trust the God of miracles, give to Him my all.”

This is a song by Alfred B. Smith and E. C. titled “I Know Who Holds the Future,” which I just found tonight while playing old old “Singspiration” music on the piano. The words & truth behind those words brought me comfort & I thought I might share that with you.

“This week has brought me down a path of darkness & decay. But lately I’ve been feeling that it might just go away. This evening I laughed, I cried & I prayed, all for different things. And then I thought a simple minded joyful heart also prays & sings! The joy tonight I feel inside, deep deep within. And laughter fills my every thought, knowing I’m cleansed of sin.” —me.

A Positive Memory

Okay, so here’s something that is good! Some of you know that I work with an 8th grade class at my church, teaching them & questioning them about what they believe about Christianity & the theology in their hearts. Basically, here’s what our church believes, and why….and then asking them to look into the Bible & to discover for themselves what they believe. So two Wednesdays ago, my friend Ellen & I took this group to a memory loss home. We paired off each of the kids with a resident to do a “thanksgiving” craft. For each pair, we had a sketch of a bare tree…then we had the kids ask the residents what they were thankful for & write it on printed colored leaves & paste them on the tree. It was so cool. Afterwards, we took the kids to culvers to talk about the experience. It was interesting to have them open up about how they were intimidated right away & nervous because they didn’t know what to expect. They noted how many of the residents kept repeating questions “like 50 times!” The kids thought it was neat to meet people who others sometimes think is less important or worthy. And they were excited at the possibility to go back again! Then last week, due to outside circumstances, we only had 1/2 hour to brief the kids on the lesson for next week on how we are created in God’s image. I took 8 of them out for pizza and discussion…we talked about which was more important between a puppy, baby, horse or old person. They almost all chose the baby, but then I gave them other questions like…if you were a pregnant teen & your fiance wasn’t the dad of the baby & your parents might disown you, would you have an abortion? Then I asked what if you had twins, one was disabled & the other born somewhat “normal” and you could only keep one alive….which would you choose? And then again, if there was an old person who couldn’t remember anything, and didn’t know any family anymore, would it be so bad if someone helped them to die? The whole point in asking these questions was to get the kids to wonder what it is about us as humans, that makes us special. Is it who we are physically? Mentally? Socially? or is it more than that? If we’re created in the image of God, what does that mean? Why does that make us special & worth something? And if we’re ALL created in the image of God, is it fair or right to judge one person worth more than another? We got into a good discussion, and I think they really “got it” that the Bible is clear about our value in life. At the end of the night, I had each of the kids write their name on the top of a red note card. Then they passed them around the table, and everyone wrote one thing that they thought was unique and special about that person. Then we read Psalm 139. (which when i told them psalm 139, they all wrote psalm 1:39…..thought that was funny!) “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.”

What comfort, to know that God knows us inside & out, upside & down, good & bad, our worth & our sinfulness. He knows us & yet loves us. He chose us. He chose to die for us, to bring Glory to Himself. He alone is worth more than anything we can think of…He is.

Finding–

So today, I being “thoughtful.” No, I don’t mean to be praising myself for being so nice to people around me, I’m probably being really bad at that today. But I mean I’m thinking about a lot of things. And when that happens, the smallest of those things can send me into a thought clear across the universe, with emotions that can feel out of this world. I was writing on Julie’s wall today, and I saw on “wall-to-wall” that I had laughed about how we knew each other. I couldn’t find where that information was, and so I thought….maybe if I search for her like a random friend search, it’ll say that! Well, when I tried to do that, it said there was no Julie Steiskal. I tried again, spelled it different, it wouldn’t let me find her. Even in MY friends, I couldn’t pull up her name! I got a little panicked….and yes, i still can’t find her that way, but I’m not panicked anymore.

So it got me thinking about searching for God. I really need Him now more than ever. Particularly today. Something is working in me, and I feel so close to the edge. You know when you’re driving on a road where the tar is about 6″ higher than the gravel curb, and when you get close to the edge you can feel your car being pulled over. You struggle to keep it on, and when you’re right on the edge it’s like “come on, come on…don’t go over.” Well, I feel like that. I feel like I’m right on the edge & I could go over, but I’m still holding on…by God’s grace, I’m still holding on.

God says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) I am trying to seek with my heart, but some days I don’t know how. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26) This is what I’m trusting in….that the Spirit will take my unconscious prayers to the throne of God. “You said, ‘Woe to me! The LORD has added sorrow to my pain; I am worn out with groaning and find no rest.’ ” (Jeremiah 45:3) Sometimes this is how I think, and I don’t want to think this way, so I pray “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” (Psalm 33:22)

Just a few things to search for…a renewed strength, a fresh mind, a conscious faith & passionate soul.