I don’t cry easily. Really, I don’t. But this week, I have. The overwhelming sadness that sits right outside our doors is hard to fathom. Every morning I get pulled from a deep sleep into a waking up, and my thoughts go like this, “It’s light. It’s morning…. oh, we are still in the middle […]
When you leave a church and have been in that church’s active ministry, it’s hard. It’s hard, because so many people misunderstand. It’s hard because people tell people what they heard, leaving a long and confused string of thoughts and ideas about why the leavers left. It’s hard because it is a loss-both to the leaver and to the stay-er. The sense of loss on either end no doubt can be measured by the investment of time in the place, and the people of the church.
The Sunset Tree, in all its brilliance, has held so many rainbows high on the horizon, so many sunsets in the forever stretching western Kansas sky. The weight of that glory from a million sunsets and a few hundred rainbows was too heavy, as the trees arms grew tired with wind whistling at her back […]
I’m in a quandary this Christmas season. We’ve been through the most difficult transition year of our married lives, our girls have said goodbye to all of their childhood friends, we sat in a room with a dozen friends we raised our babies with and sobbed. Gut wrenching, heart aching, sobs. I’ve never cried harder in my life than that evening, saying goodbye to lifelong friends.
In May we made the move from Granger, In. to Shawnee, Ks. The best, but most difficult family decision we’ve ever made. I’ve felt like an ocean has been moving under my feet since we landed, trying to get acclimated myself, get my girls acclimated, figuring out how to fix a new bathtub with new problems, how to keep the hot sun from killing my plants, and all that normal stuff.
And then in September, my precious Uncle died. How do I tell my aunt, who spent years of her life dedicated to him, to Jesus, to their children…translating the bible into unwritten languages, whom she loved…how do I tell her to be merry this christmas?
In November, my cousin died. He was too young. Only 5 years older than me. The thought of losing him does not ring true with “Merry and Bright” or a cup of Christmas cheer.
A mamma lost not one, but three babies, triplets, born too early this week. They suffered through the trauma of the funeral of the first two, held out hope for the third. He died. Now another funeral.
The news…the news. I cannot even bare to watch it with my children asking questions about atrocities committed against children their own ages. I cannot even watch the news alone.
But I can walk in the darkness of this Advent hour. I can walk in peace, with lots and lots of tears, but with peace. Knowing my Savior was born. He came to save a fool like me. He came to abolish slavery, to set the prisoners free. He came to love. He came to forgive. To teach us to love and forgive by what He did for us. Born humbly. Walked through His ordinary days like an ordinary guy, but holy. Perfect. Full of love. Never casting the poor or needy aside if they did not match up with His holy critera for those worthy of His time. He walked slowly. He touched. He held. He healed. He lifted heads. He gave new names. He brought joy. He brought mystery. He brought laughter. He brought light. He embraced the unembraceable.
He was the light. And He is. He is the lifter of our heads, the light in our darkness. Forever.
“Look at your glass as half full, not half empty. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, When one door closes, another will open…”
You’ve heard these lame excuses for encouragement. We all have said them, hoped to believe them. Hoped they might help someone look on the brighter side of things. We were trying to help because we didn’t know what else to say or what hope there really was to offer a really dismal and bleak situation.
But deep down, we all know that sometimes the dumb glass is just half empty. We hate lemonade, have no time to make it anyway, and the door was just slammed in our face. Sometimes life is just painful and hard and we just want everyone and their trite sayings to go away and let us sulk the day away.
In times like these, I am encouraged by those who encourage me to move beyond what is trite, and on to what is holy. I’m encouraged by those who encourage me to THRIVE despite my circumstances. In the matter of a few months time, our whole lives have been shaken and stirred. Just to name a few of the more obvious tough circumstances:
Rob resigned his job with Granger Community Church, after serving with them for 21 years.
Two days later, I fell down one step, yes. ONE step. I tore my calf muscle, sprained my knee and ankle, and tore my ankle tendon 90%. I had surgery, a cast, have been almost completely immobile for 4 months.
A few weeks after I fell, Rob’s dad passed away. His death devastated our family. Our girls have never known real grief. Walking them through this new grief was one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done as parents.
In the middle of all these life-changes, I have discovered a few things to be true:
We are family. And that is enough. Who we are when no one is looking has turned out to be my favorite “us” there is. I’m a housebound wife. A shut-in, a person who can’t walk in the park to rejuvenate my soul. My husband, a temporarily unemployed pastor. We are just us. Just Rob and Michelle and Madeline and Whitney and Isabelle. They are not pastorskids and I am not a pastorswife.
Who we are when no one else is around is what counts. We are discovering our inner uniqueness, apart from the blaring lights and noise, the applause of men and women–Good, kind, true men and women. There’s nothing wrong with being a pastor or a pastor’s wife or a pastors kid, but these things do not bring us value or worth or importance. Who we are is who we are being made to be, day by day.
I can make my life better just by sitting here. I started practicing Zentangle doodles and have found myself and my soul a new creative outlet. I spent several of the hours laying in my bed recovering from my surgery praying for every tween and teen girl that had been to our house to visit our girls that signed my cast. Their names blared up at me in bold neon letters, praying for them by name was a gift.
I’ve realized more than ever that every minute I have with my family counts. Losing a family member so dear has caused us all to hold each other closer–Every day. Every minute is special. In the chaos of our day to day, I have found myself hugging my husband more, speaking words of light and light into each of my girls, making our time together matter by taking the time to notice them, really, really notice.
Many times during these past few months, I have asked Jesus to end this what feels like to be never-ending series of trials. I’ve asked Him To make everything better, to take away the pain, both the physical aspect and the heartache.
However, I am starting to see the deeper lessons of deeper living, of what it means to THRIVE through trials and hard times.…I think it’s been worth it for all of us–Actually, I know it has been.
We are as a family learning to linger over love longer, to talk deeper, to live fuller…
They way God has orchestrated our circumstances is certainly not how I would have, but He has taught me to THRIVE despite anything that comes my way:
That in anything,
He has the power to give me strength.
That HE is all about me living life abundantly. He said that’s what He came for.
Jesus is teaching me how to live– In anything, for anything, through anything.
Wherever you are, whatever your mess is, your sadness, your grief, or just your ordinary day to day living. Thrive from where you are. Ask God. Ask yourself. “How can I live better? How can my life be richer? How can I feel stronger?”
I can promise you He will show you. He promised us in the Bible, John 10:10 to be exact: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “
Trust Him. Ask Him. Wait and see and THRIVE.
“This post was inspired by Casting Crowns new album “Thrive” available
In case you didn’t know, I really like to take pictures. One thing I like to do every year is sort through my own photos on my camera roll and pick out the top 100, 30, then the top 10, then my top 3, just for fun. Since I am immobile until I get my cast off next week, it’s a good time to do my “Year in Review” stuff. Right now I have 900 or so from the past year to sort through. One of the secret reasons I take so many photos is because it causes me to reflect deeply on all the beautiful moments we shared as a family. As I’ve sorted through them in the past few days, I was struck by a few things I thought I’d share.
I’m proud of my family for sticking together and pulling closer to one another than we’ve ever been. I’m proud of my girls for loving each other well, sticking up for each other, cheering for each other and making our lives better by becoming the beautiful young ladies they are inside and out.
I’m proud of my husband for pulling through the most difficult year he’s ever had-for loving me when I’m unloveable, for supporting his mom through the death of her husband, for driving the girls to a hundred practices, and being the dad who is all up in their face at every lacrosse game taking their pictures, watching them shine, making them glow with the joy of being deeply loved.
I’m humbled by the grace I’ve come to know through brokenness. My physical body and my heart have been broken this year, but I’ve come to see God and His ways a little more clearly. I’m humbled by the love of many people poured out to our family through meals, gifts, calls, cards, and a thousand acts of kindness.
My extreme independent self is humbled to have to send my husband twenty texts a day, asking for things I cannot get for myself because of not being able to walk for the past two months.
Looking back I see with blazing clarity that Grace and Love and Light and Joy are mine. I’m grateful for the ways God is showing me sides of Himself I would never see if it weren’t for the circumstances of this year-the high’s, the low’s and the in-betweens.
God is Good. He is love. He is light. These things are true. These things I know. And I’m grateful. Though everything around me is changing, He never changes. And that, my friends, is good news.
I’d love to hear what you’re reflecting on as this year draws to a close. I have nothing but time as I will be immobile for at least another week or so. Drop me a message. Send me an email. Write me on Facebook. I sincerely would love to hear from you. If not, have a very Merry Christmas!