daily graces, endurance, family, hope, joy, suffering, trials

Bits and Pieces

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I have this blank canvas to scribble my thoughts, but lately I have let them recycle, tumbling unsorted in the confines of my mind, timid of what people will think if I speak out loud.  Someone told me not long ago that I should try writing about something else.  I took it to mean people do not want to hear the confessions and wonderings of my soul; they are probably rolling their eyes and turning off their screens.

After talking with a close friend about what else to write about, I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to write about something “else,” and I don’t know how to.  The reason I write about what I do is that it flows quite easily when I need to release and process difficult things.  It’s therapeutic for me to free up some space in my thoughts by unleashing the tangle of words and emotion that sometimes becomes difficult to find space for.  Part of me also supposed, in the beginning of this place, that someone else would find hope and strength in the raw processing of the journey of my life.

I have been learning more lately that it is okay to let every experience, good or bad, shape who I am and how I view things.  Let’s be real; life is never going to be all rainbows and bubblegum, so if we are going to become something other than tainted and bitter, we are going to have to figure out how to filter through our ups and downs and pick out the important growth-inducing bits, and let the rest hit the shredder.  That’s what I’m trying to do here; sift through the daily barrage of twists and turns and cling to the slivers of truth that will deepen my character and make me a softer, wiser human for the other people on this expedition with me.

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Think back to the last hard, life-changing thing you went through.  It might have been the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, a difficult diagnosis, a traumatic world-event… you know how you had that numb feeling for awhile afterwards?  Thankfully we all have this mechanism that only lets us take in what we are capable of at the time.  Our simple minds and hearts would simply explode if the full force of things hit us all at once.  So we take it in little by little, in easily digestible chunks that we can begin to process and break down.  That movement happens in the telling of the story.  Each time you share your story, your mind is able to handle a little bit more and apply a greater understanding than it could the last time, until eventually you can boldly tell your story, maybe still with some tears, but with a confident and understanding boldness that has replaced the initial shock and bewilderment.  That is my place here.  I will keep on sharing the plot twists of my life as I continue to find deeper meaning and healing in the new details I understand every time I brave it.  And if in doing that some of you are able to pull out the important truths, the pieces that make you bold and brave and inspired, then even the more reason to keep shouting it loud.  My story.  My unbelievable, true, heart-breaking, beautiful, hope-giving story.

Will you share yours too?

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faith, grief, suffering, trials

Look Up

It was 4:00 in the morning when I left the hospital, and as I hit the first traffic light, the dam that had been holding back all of my fear, anger, and desperation crumbled into a million broken pieces. Tears coming from a depth beyond understanding carved slick rivers down my neck and pooled in my shirt.  I was aware my car was drifting between the painted lanes of the empty interstate, and I glanced for blue lights that would assume I was drunk.  My voice scraped raw as I screamed my questions to a moonlit sky, daring His promises to be kept.

Knowing my other little ones were tucked sleeping in a quiet house, and needing to do something tangible that felt productive, I pulled off into the only store open at this desperate time of morning.  Despite trying to slow my heaving sobs in the parking lot, hot drips still occasionally seeped from my stinging eyes as I wandered the empty aisles.  I chose a few items mindlessly, that I thought at the time would bring comfort, and I trudged my way to the lone check out stand with a flickering light.  A slight embarrassment prickled over me as I became aware of the frightening sight I must be with my blotchy face and swollen eyes.

The checker grabbed my things and began swiping them across the counter without looking up.   “How are you today?” he beamed. “I’m ok.” “That’s good,” he replied.  He continued to ring up my things and take my payment without ever making eye contact. As I grabbed my bag and turned to leave, he swung the hammer one last time.  “Have a great rest of your day!” 

If you have spent much time around me, you may have noticed that often when someone asks me how I’m doing, I don’t ask the same question back.  It may come across rude.  It is not because I don’t care though, it is the exact opposite.  I don’t ask because I either know that that person was just asking to be polite, and they don’t really want the true answer from me, or because I know that I am not at a time or place I can truly give thought and caring to their answer.  I ask how someone is doing because I sincerely want to hear their heart, and not just the glossed over “I’m fine, how are you” that we all are guilty of giving sometimes.  I’ve learned to pick out the people who honestly want to hear how the real me is doing, and the people who would be completely uncomfortable if you let them see beyond the surface.

When I am standing in line at the grocery, I know that there may not be the time for me to be a listening ear to someone’s bad day, but on the other hand I do not want to ignore the person in need of some encouragement. If I notice a rude or grumpy employee, I will leave them with an “I hope your day gets better.”  They didn’t have to share what is weighing on their mind that day, but they will know they are seen and given validation.  I will not ask you how you are doing or how your day has been unless I authentically have the heart to hear the good with the bad.  I’m ok with you taking the time to tell me what you are struggling with, and will not make you feel ashamed for not finding the good in a new day of life.  The truth is that life is hard, and we should stop conditioning each other to put on a brave face and pretend everything is fine. 

I challenge you to stop your robotic motion and your scripted lines, and look up.  There is a world out there of hurting people.  People who in the sticky messes of their daily lives may not need you to spend an hour listening to their problems, but need to know that they are not invisible, that their pain is not ignored, and that we are all in this together.



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faith, hope, trials

Rolling With the Punches

Be still, there is a healer
His love is deeper than the sea
His mercy, it is unfailing
His arms are a fortress for the weak.”

~Chris Tomlin
I love this song.  Words that remind us of One who is greater than our troubles, a refuge we can run to.  I have to admit though, some doubt has made me challenge these words the last few weeks.
In the midst of keeping up with busy schedules, work, school, and travels and holidays on the horizon, we were thrown for a loop.  I started having some health problems.  Exams and test results came back concerning, and after seeing a specialist I was told I could be having a blood clotting problem, or it could be cancer. 
What?!?  Even as much as I have been learning about having faith, I was shouting at Heaven.  Surely, I thought, God would not do this to us right now.  We are still picking up the pieces from losing our daughter.  My husband and kids need me to be there for them right now.  He wouldn’t let us get kicked when we’re down, right?!  He promises not to give us more than we can handle.  I’m not sure I believed that right then. 
As the day neared for a procedure to take biopsies, I was wrestling.  I could see the fear in Mark’s eyes, and all I could do was avoid talking about it, trying to ignore what we might need to face.  I was washed with guilt… surely my friend who lost her daughter didn’t think she would also have to say goodbye to her husband and raise her remaining children in the thick of so much grief… and here I am complaining.  God never said we would go through something hard and then get a free pass from any more heartache.  In fact, He said in this world we WILL have trouble… but the promise in that is He has overcome the world.  That is a powerful promise, but still difficult for me to cling to when I felt so much fear.
As I felt myself begin to doze under the anesthesia, my only prayer was “God, please.”
The news is outstanding…. NO cancer, NO clotting.  It is so much easier for me to praise right now than it was for me to trust.  But God promises to use even a LITTLE faith, so I guess He’s not done with me yet:) 
We are breathing a huge sigh of relief and trying to teach ourselves that no matter what comes our way, we are more than conquerors.  We will continue to forge a path through the wreckage, one step at a time.
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