Its been a little crazy the last few weeks. However, I feel like I now substitute the word “crazy” for “busy” these days. In just a few short weeks, my third child will graduate from high school. That means for the past 3 years I have hugged my grown children and threw a party to celebrate their accomplishments and send them on their way to college, to adult decision making, to the freedom of being.
Life spins on… Summer is coming… family decisions to make, and life to live. The thing about time spinning on, is that some days the spinning seems to fast and the moments go to quickly. This week, I was with a family, and unless a miracle occurs, one of them will lose the battle to cancer. There were tears, hugs, laughter, questions, prayers, more tears. Life has a way of catching us off guard. We can’t control the number of breathes we take, but we can control how we handle the moments we have. We can enjoy each day, no matter what it brings.
I was just telling a couple of my kids that we have a choice to make. We can be vulture or a humming bird. One flies around all day looking for the dead, the decay, the bad laying around, while the other flies around all day looking or the beauty and the sweet. We can choose to see the good around us. That doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge that there are bad things going on, we just choose how we want to live and what our focus will be.
And some days I am the hummingbird. I can see the good, smell the sweet… and other days the vulture… the dead and decay seem to be all around me. And I want to give up. I want to retreat. But something brings me back…
I ask Jason this week why is it with all that has happened to us in our 21 years of marriage, why do we cling to each other instead of leave like so many others. What made us…us? It was a rough day, followed by several rough days in a row. Our hearts were broken for situations we have no control over. Life is messy and spinning and I found myself asking questions and writing it out. ( Jason gets all the blogs that never make it to public view)
On that day my feelings were stuck in my throat. I kept choking back the big tears that threaten to spill down my cheeks. And yet there were a few that escaped and cascaded down my face.
Failure seems so terminal. You know? Its like it has a death sentence. And yet I know that isn’t true. I look around and I see failures, my own, those of people I love, those the media makes news… Failures happen. It is the lessons learned in them. My own failures are still teaching me lessons, sometimes I wonder why I haven’t learned the lesson yet, and other times I see that I am learning and growing because of them.
I listen to a man for cry out this week, that he didn’t want to die, I still hear his cries. I see his face. I feel his hand grasping mine.
I do believe in grace and grace that is never ending. I believe that God forgives…always. And I believe that he loves us. I believe that he is faithful to forgive us and welcome us when we breathe our last if we confess our sins and honor him. My faith has questions just like everyone else. I don’t always understand His yes’s , His no’s and His wait… But I don’t have to understand… I just have to trust. (which goes back to my word for the year!)
Then there are days that I fear if most people could see inside I would be exposed as a fraud. That inside is messy, fearful, doubtful, a little girl looking for the safety of her Abba Father.
I seek God, and I know he isn’t hiding, and yet some days it feels like he is. Friends are not a few minutes away to go and vent, cry and seek together. What is familiar is gone, and vacations seem like a dream.
And 20 years of ministry with all of its stories, the good, the bad, the heartbreaking, the hurtful adds up in my heart and I wonder why would anyone sign up for this? Its heavy and overwhelming.
And here in the midst of it all, I feel like I am drowning… slowing at first and faster sinking deeper and deeper, not being able to catch my breathe. I see brighter days but only through the lens of my failure and will I ever be able to overcome. So here I am… at desk…filled with more questions and doubts than I have had in a long time and I surrender… again!
And maybe that is where it is at… the surrender over and over. The laying it all down when I pick it up. When I try to fix when I should just be trusting. Maybe its in the tears that trickle and some time stream down my face that shows God is still working on me, and that my heart isn’t hard towards him, and he is still molding me.
Maybe its in the worship song, that brings me to my knees with no spoken prayer…just tears being collected by the heavenly father who promised to never leave us or forsake us.
Maybe its in the clinging to my husband, when everyone else leaves. Maybe that is it, I conclude to Jason… that we know that deep down God has us… and we cling to us out of our desperation for more. More of Him, less of us! More of what he can do, less of what we can do. More of his grace…because we need it! More of his wisdom…
SO maybe at the end of the day that’s it… its the good the bad the ugly and the beautiful that makes us equipped to do this thing…
In the middle of our mess….
Let me tell you a little bit about a place located in Allentown, PA. It actually sits in Upper Macungie Township. One of the fastest growing townships in PA. Allentown is the fastest growing city in PA. This place has been doing ministry for 102 years in Allentown. (more…)
For all those mom’s and dads that find themselves this time of year looking over the past 18 years and asking themselves “where did time go?” “how did my little boy/girl grow up so fast?” This year is the second year in a row I find myself reviewing 18 years of one of my children’s life. We are on the home stretch of writing the final chapter of Jordan’s childhood…high school is days away from being done. Middle school has long since been left and grade school seems like a lifetime ago.
I do not just simply ask the questions that I listed above but I also ask “if I did enough,” and “is he ready,” or “what did I forget” to name a few… The reality is this chapter is closing. Our family dynamics change again. We send another child away but not away from our hearts or our thoughts. It’s like you know the day is coming but then it gets here… and your heart is so proud that it wants to burst, but it is also so sad that you cry tears from a deep, deep place. You drive away and you realize this is where faith comes into place. Maybe that does not make sense to you…but it’s where you have to trust Jesus to hold them on a different level than what the last 18 years were like. Now it is them making decisions, wrestling with their faith and my Jesus. So that it will be their faith and their Jesus. The safety net of your home and boundaries are now removed. Their freedom is unleashed.
The thing about writing final chapters is this… God is the author and perfecter of our faith. As one more child leaves my nest I can rest in the fact that God is writing their story. It will be their story…filled with lots of good things, sprinkled with heartaches, and faith building experiences. Proverbs 22: 6 (MSG) Point your kids in the right direction—when they’re old they won’t be lost. That’s a promise…so I write it on my heart, and pray it over their lives and trust the One who is writing our story as an ongoing story of His story.
I will allow myself to slip down memory lane, remember the fist time I knew I was going to be their mommy. The first time I looked at their face and called them by name. I will remember first words, first smiles, first days of school and everything in between. I will count my blessings of each day spent with them. I will look forward to the future they are moving into. Their location may change but their lives are imprinted on my heart, I will continue to lift them to my Jesus as they make Jesus their own and seek Him for their career path, their spouse, their place to worship and to serve.
As April gives way to May and graduation looms… I will celebrate the amazing young man I get to call son!
I wrote about Margin in my last post. It’s my word for the year. Since then I have been walking the tight rope of scrambling and resting in finding my normal. I was recently speaking to some people who are allowing God to transform their lives in BIG, HUGE ways about how sometimes we hold on to things because it has become our normal…our comfort zone so to speak…and I thought back to my word: margin. I really think that I have held on to things that I should have moved away from because holding on to them was normal. I had become so used to being known as busy that I felt like I had to live up to it…its what I knew…its what had become…comfortable. Except it really was not comfortable – it was exhausting. Since I wrote the blog, lots of life has happened. It was like I was declaring I must put margin in place and Satan stepped up his game. The journey of finding the new normal became unexpected, unscripted, exciting, terrifying and left me a little empty.
Empty is an interesting concept, because I believe empty is how God really wants us. When we empty ourselves of “us,” we let loose of all that we have been holding on to so tightly and we simply come to God, it is then that He can truly fill us with Himself. When He talks about us being jars of clay to be filled with the Holy Spirit, he can only fill empty things.
I found myself empty and sick. Physically sick. Emotionally drained. Spiritually empty. It was during this time that I found some truths that I needed to be able to move forward. I know this was confirmed in those days…I have to have margins. I have to create space in my life so that I can sing and say and declare “it is well with my soul.”
No one can make my soul well except the Author and Perfector of my faith, and for Him to be able to make my soul well, I must pay attention to the soul. To pay attention to my soul I have to control my schedule, my time, my commitments…I have to be intentional about spending time in the presence of the King. I do not want to sleep through the wonder of His holiness!
“Those who live at the ends of the Earth stand in awe of your wonders. From where the sun rises to where it sets, you inspire shouts of joy.” Psalm 65:8 NLT
I wish I could write that I have this all figured out…that I have achieved margin. I cannot! What I can write is that I am on a journey with the my Abba Father. He is writing my story. He is directing my journey, He is so faithful to correct, to encourage, to pursue, forgive, offer grace and mercy and hold me when it all seems too much to bear. He is filling me with things I didn’t know I needed and subtracting things I thought I couldn’t ever let go of. He is showing me that this journey is unexpected and unscripted only to me… He has not been surprised by one single step.
I am learning that whatever I face I can cling to Jesus, as so many who have gone before me have done. In the midst of whatever it is – saying goodbye to loved ones, letting go of hurts and anger, fighting unimaginable battles – we can cling to Jesus and sing it is well with my soul. It is not about the unscripted and unexpected. It is about trusting Jesus to see you through it…no matter what.
Challenging as it is…my soul has become my focus. My soul-care is vital to me being the daughter of the King He has called me to be. I choose to focus on Jesus and the full life he has for me…and when I say full I do not meet full of busy. I mean full of Him.
So this wonderful, messy, unexpected, unscripted journey continues…