Not what it seems….

“How am I going to be able to grow up without a mom to tell secrets to?” ….this is just one of many quotes that have made me tear up today…. I’ve been put in a lot of tough situations recently, that are forcing me to make decisions that right now I feel I cannot make.  It’s like life is asking me to become a new person, one that I don’t know about, and one that I don’t necessarily want to be.  I guess it’s all part of growing up, but wow…growing pains have never burned so much.

To a large degree, our family & friends that we have relationships with make up a large part of our identity.  When we lose them, we lose a part of our identity too….I’ve recently heard this termed like an amputation of the familiar self.  Who we were with them, is not going to be who we are without them. It’s like….a normal life loss of something like…adolescence, or a job, or moving away…the loss is like a broken arm that takes a while to heal and the pain real but it will eventually heal.  However, catastrophic loss….death of a parent, sibling, friend, child, whoever…is like an amputation…not just a broken arm.  It will never come back or be completely healed, and you’ll always have phantom feelings of the limb that once was there but no longer remains.

I guess this is all part of growing up and growing into who I will be…though it feels different than I thought it would.  You never imagine these things to come, and you’d never imagine the consequences that would follow…everyone is different and we’re all trying to become a new different together, yet still individually.  Some people make choices for themselves that affect just them, and other make choices that lead to more and more choices for other people.  It’s all very difficult, and hard…..

Wishing that I had some verses right now to write about, but I’m too empty to seek them out today.  If you’re reading this…what are some verses that have helped you grow into who you are today?  I’m curious…..because I just feel like I have no idea where my life is going, and it’s hard to really go day to day when you don’t have a direction. 🙂

Walking into the Dark

This weekend, I received a new book in the mail.  If you’re like me, you’ll know that a delivery like this is like Christmas!  I love getting packages in the mail, even when they’re expected.  You might remember me writing about another book called “The Adventure” by Jerry Sittser….well, this book is also by him, but it is titled “A Grace Disguised–How the Soul Grows Through Loss“.   Because I’ve enjoyed reading “The Adventure” three times through, I figured this new book would also be a good read. Well so far….I’m hooked.  Here are some of my thoughts from the weekend….

Something that he says early on, is that the darkness of grief is inescapable & is something we must face alone.  We know as Christians that we do not have to do this completely alone, but the journey inside is personal and one that cannot be walked by any another human.  One struggle for many (as well as myself) is that we tend to walk away from the darkness and chase the fading light of our hope.  The joy we see disappearing beyond the horizon.  To that struggle, this quote struck me–“…the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise.”

Wow.  I think most of us “know” that we are supposed to face pain head on, to walk towards it despite the hurt that continues & sometimes grows worse over time….but too often I fill it with other things, or turn away, or put off until I’m “more ready” to face it, all the while staying in the dark, holding onto the last glimmer of light that has so recently seemed to vanish. Staying here though, holds the light at bay, and refuses to see that only through the darkness can you see light again.  

Sittser says, “The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us.” This really spoke to me….once again I am reminded that we ALL have trials, we ALL have situations that are overwhelming…that doesn’t make us unique, it doesn’t separate us from everyone else because it’s something we all go through.  But the choices we make in response to these difficult situations, are what define us & make us who we are….they define who we will become.  “We do not always have the freedom to choose the roles we must play in life, but we can choose how we are going to play the roles we have been given.”

Isaiah 41: 9-10, 18 says, “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand…..I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs.” This gives me hope…knowing that when I was in darkness, hidden in the furthest corners of the earth, Christ came to find me. He brought me out of that depth & into the light. If Christ has done this once, we can hold fast that He WILL do it again.  
I’ll leave off today with this last quote from Sittser, “In the valley of suffering, despair and bitterness are brewed. But there also character is made. The valley of suffering is the vale of soul-making.”

Let’s journey together through the darkness, alone & yet together, to run towards the light that we yet are waiting to see.  May we trust that God is with us to protect us & hold us though our hearts ache with pain & our limbs shutter with fear. He will give us wings as eagles and feet like deer, able to stand on rocky ground.

Eggs & Toast

Today is my birthday. I’m 26. I’m now over the hump on my way to 50. haha. This morning I woke up to an overcast sky….something I love in the morning. My dad made me scrambled eggs, toast with apple butter, fresh cherries & strong coffee. It was great.  As I took probably my third bite of eggs though…..he said, “If mom was here, she’d make this really special for you.” Obviously I lost it.

It’s now 10 o’clock & I’ve been crying off & on since 7. What is it about those little things, simply having a little breakfast of eggs & toast that gives you thoughts of your mom?  He was right, and suddenly those eggs & toast didn’t taste as good…they weren’t something I really wanted because all I really wanted was to have my mom here.  This is the first birthday I’ve ever spent without her.  Even when I celebrated my 20th birthday in NYC, my family flew out to visit me.  When I had a birthday on tour in Missouri, my sweet 16, my parents drove down to celebrate with me.

Birthdays are always big days. I like to make them special for other people, and I always want to do something big for my own simply because it’s a great excuse to do something extraordinary.  Here are some extraordinary things I’ve learned this year……You can always expect the unexpected, People mean much more than possessions, Miracles do still happen, Spur of the moment is usually more fun than something long awaited, When all doors seem closed look up because there might be a skylight, Sunsets over the ocean are meant to be enjoyed on land, Don’t think things are always too good to be true, Dare to love and have courage to hurt, Do not settle, and Appreciate any opportunity that comes your way.

This is just my morning birthday thought. I’ve other more “spiritual” things that I’ll write about later.  Enjoy the day!

No Parking or Stopping

This afternoon, I found myself hidden, in a small patch of grass, mesmerized by the trees, the breeze, the heat & the deep hurt of a friend….of their deep hurt, and how I hurt because I know they hurt.  As I sat, I looked towards the road, and saw this common sign “No Parking or Stopping.”

I see these signs all the time, we all do & are often frustrated with the thoughts of “why not,” or “it’ll just be a second,” or “someone else is parked there….maybe I can get away with it too.”  But today, as I looked at the sign, and thought about this woman, friend, co-worker…..I thought of how God often tells us that earth itself is a “No Parking or Stopping” zone.

Stay with me….it says in Philippians 3:20 that “…our citizenship is in heaven.” Does this mean we’re not made for this earth?  We’re made for something else, right?  Heaven? To glorify God ultimately…but that earth, where our God has placed us, is just temporary, right?  We’re not supposed to just stay here.  This isn’t our end point.  We can’t just stop, or park here on earth….we need to keep moving…especially when times get bad.  

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  SO we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
  
I do not appreciate the knowledge that the troubles we endure here, is “achieving an eternal glory”….I want the beauty now…I want to stop, enjoy the roses, whatever. Yet the truth is, that God is and will use these times to make His glory seem even more beautiful to us once we are united with Him.  What we experience here, is temporary….it’s something that will pass away, that we need to not stop at. We cannot allow these things to stop us….though we may want to…we need to remember the “No Parking” sign.  This is not the end.  There is more….Philippians 3:20 goes on to say “And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables Him to bring everything under His control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like His glorious body.”

These bodies, the ones we are wasting away in….the old, the fat, the frail, the weak, the worn down bodies that we are in…are only traveling clothes.  There is more to hope for, though right now it is hard to see.  It is painful to look for. But don’t stop….keep going.


A little shift.

I think something has changed. Temporarily? It’s possible. But changed? Definitely.  A friend asked me very cautiously, if since my mother’s death I looked at dying differently. To that I had an emphatic response of “yes…I’m not afraid of it at all.” I realize that as a believer, there’s no reason to fear death, but sometimes it’s not death you fear, but the unknown that surrounds it.  The unanswerable questions that after the fact won’t matter anyway.

I remember that when my friend Julie passed away, I was soon after on a trip to Mexico.  There we visited Copper Canyon in Chihuahua.  There was one cliff that we saw, that had a large rock at the very tip.  My friends discovered that the rock–rocked. You could stand on the rock & it would sway on the tip of the cliff.  I wanted a picture out there, but decided I wasn’t brave enough to stand on the edge, so I stayed on the “sturdy” rock in front.  Immediately after they took my picture though, I changed my mind & decided I couldn’t be that close & not stand at the edge. I quickly turned around, walked right out onto the rock & posed for a picture. Yes, I was probably about 200+ feet above the bottom of the canyon, with not much below me…not ANYTHING below me…but I realized that death didn’t frighten me. Why not live life & be a little daring?

This is not nearly as near to the story I just told, but last night as I drove away from my home, I spied a beautiful antique settee on the curb. I wondered, pondered & decided to drive on. Then I had a little twinge…why not turn around & see.  I turned a right and went around the block, pulled up in front of a quaint little house, walked up to the door & knocked. After a few minutes of curious knocking, a girl my age welcomed me with a big smile. I asked about the couch & she vibrantly answered “You like it? It’s yours. Think it’ll fit in your car?” Huh. See how easy that I was I thought? What did that hurt to ask?

That part of me …that is sometimes timid & nervous, is changing. I’m growing bolder, braver….little by little. It’s a good change, a welcomed change. I’m finding joy in this, and can’t wait to see what else awaits!