Greater Expectations

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In my quiet time this morning a thought kept rolling around in my head, round and round like a childhood top I used to play with.  “My expected life is quietly putting to death my actual life!”   I’m coming to grips with personal and deep longing for things I don’t have in this season of my life.  Things I have worked so hard to gain, things ashamedly I have to admit I thought were owed to me, a picture or a vision of the great goals I had for my life.  My great expectation for a perfected life with minimal pain, has been quietly whittling away at the joy of my actual life.

My expected life was full of imagined celebrations with a whole and complete family, Christmases and birthdays and sweet Sunday dinners.  I would sit back and appreciate the sacrifices made to ensure that three beautiful adult children would grace my table and “rise up and call me blessed.”   Trailing behind them would be a glorious parade of grandchildren, the ones I had hoped for since their parents birth.  They would be beautiful and bold and mighty testimonies of Gods Great Glory!  I would sit back and take in all the beauty of a legacy I got to affect and I would praise God for every beautiful moment.  My table would be filled with guests that stayed married, people who told truths and friends who loved deeply, “in spirit and in deed.”  Our cups would spill over, feasting would fill us and our mouths would sing songs of continuous praise.

But actual life has set for me a different table with an unusual bounty, a bounty of bitter and sweet, lies and the truth,  betrayal and births, divorces and death.  I would have never expected a life like the one I have and although this is not the life I hoped for it is the life that was designed for me. My actual life is filled with empty seats but empty seats leave room for the grace of strangers. My life has been touched by the bitter taste of death, but the bitter taste of death brings a  deep sweetness to all of my memories. The  Flaws wrestled out in myself have the power to make the  flaws of others seem small and unimportant.  Dreams and visions of a perfect celebration have given way to imperfect parties where soul-food is much more satisfying than the intended menu. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good at times when nothing taste good or seems good or is good.

C.S .Lewis wrote “if we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”  In conclusion I suppose my expectations are good, they show that I was created for something greater.  But when my expectations steal the joy from my earthy experience I lose sight of who God is, I start to think that my efforts must equal His actions and my hope is dashed. Dashed because my great expectations have placed me in His seat and I have forgotten my place at His table.  My hope is for GREATER EXPECTATIONS ones that I am not in charge of, ones more divine.

 

Birthed & Born & Bearing

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Birthed:

It was by  pure sacrifice on my mothers part that I was brought into this world, and clinging to the womb for 24 hours on one of the hottest days in August was my very first act of rebellion.  I was simply declining my invitation to the festivities. But the cold steel forceps placed upon my skull and the doctors firm grip put an end to the act of  my defiance.  And there I was a baby girl  5 lbs 13 oz 19 inches long with hair the color of coal.  My lungs worked just fine and I used them to state my disapproval to my mom and to all those present and responsible at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital. I have no possible idea of knowing if I had some kind of supernatural understanding of what I would face ahead, but if my birth was any kind of indication, it was gonna be a bumpy ride and my feet would end up being firmly planted, declining many invitations while being met with the cold steel forceps of life.

 

Born:

Although I came to a knowledge of Christ when I was 18 years old at a boarding school I enrolled into, to turn my life around, I didn’t really know him.  I was walking the walk and talking the talk but I honestly had no understanding of the whole rebirth, relationship thing.  I would say to myself, ” you are a religious person now, this is what religious people do!” I watched religious people and I copied them.  Fortunately God is faithful to draw those whom He calls and He isn’t really interested in Religious People Copy Cats.  In fact I think the Bible says these kinds of people become twice the sons of hell they were in the beginning!  I was 21 by the time I truly had my come to Jesus moment which is really more like Jesus came to me.  I was giving birth to my first born child and had been given the news that because I had been laboring for 32 hours they thought it prudent to take her by Cesarean  section.  I suppose rebellion runs in family’s.  I completely panicked, they made me sign the papers that said “Don’t sue us if we kill you”, then rolled me right into emergency surgery.  My heart started to quicken and then to tighten and tighten some more.  I grabbed the nurses arm that was hovering above me and said, ” um I am having a heart attack right now so lets not cut me open!”  And there we were two rebels laying upon one gurney.   My nurse was so kind she said “honey you are having a panic attack, your heart is just fine, you are going to be just fine, try to relax.”  And right there in that moment that will forever be etched upon my heart like forceps to my crown I met him, I cant say the voice was audible but the message was so clear,” you must surrender, you are mine, I am in control.” Its not really a fun thing to understand how big God is and how small you are and it certainly isn’t easy to understand but it is a very comforting knowledge. It feels like ones soul is remembering something it cant explain.  I had her by the way, my little rebel she looked like an angel with hair the color of coal born on the 31st day just like her mom, she left the surgery room a rebel and I left the surgery room born again.

 

Bearing:

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. ”  Bearing children is a life long event, it doesn’t happen at birth and then its over it begins at birth and continues and the pain of it never goes away and the joy of it is eternal.  It is the very essence of long suffering. Long suffering is an attribute of God. Its defined by Noah Webster as Bearing injuries or provocation for a long time being patient and not easily provoked.  Child bearing is a constant curse and constant soul care, if you trust the caregiver.  I find it completely amazing that God can take something caused to hurt you, allowed by himself, and use it to heal you because of who He is. Being born giving birth and bearing is a cycle we are always continuing on in. Hurting and being healed is a cycle we were intended for, and the heartache and happiness of it all is the greatest teacher. The birth of my second child was longer than the first, he was turned round in the womb and was half way engaged into the birthing canal when I  was rushed into emergency surgery again.  Funny how life has a way of repeating itself, funny how humans are just little rebel makers.  This time I was more calm  and yet still frightened, they took him from my body, that beautiful boy.   8 lbs 8 oz  21 inches long and a little old man comb over hairdoo!  He said nothing no loud cries of protest,  no screaming no nothing, no sound… I thought he might not have made it, and my heart started to tighten and tighten, then  he finally found his lungs and started the protest about his arrival, my heart was completely overwhelmed with thankfulness.  I wept and I rejoiced.  He was was birthed, my faith was again reborn and  my surrender was real.   We would bear with one another many challenges over the next 18 years and many blessings.  Then I would be left to bear him alone and he would bear with me no more.  My heart will continue to break and my surrender will continue to grow and I will gladly suffer long the life of my son and the love of my Savior.

 

Photo: me pregnant with Chile.

 

 

 

The Gift of Christmas is the Grave

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The process of writing is strange and wonderful and almost spiritual in a sense. I do not in any way shape or form consider myself a writer or a spiritual writer, I had to look up how to spell grammar for this very paragraph, and I am almost certain I abuse it every time I blog. I struggle with spelling, grammar and putting my thoughts in order and on page, but My mind  thinks deeply about the world at hand and I am constantly pondering the things of God.  By his grace he has given me  some kind of mystical gift in the way that I am always either writing, rehearsing or telling a story and the bigger gift is the ability to always trace his hand in it. And so of course during this beautiful Christmas season I have a gift to share by way of a story.

Palm Sunday 2019 I was driving by the Cemetery, there I saw a lady standing at a grave.  She was all alone and her head was bowed solemnly.  I immediately began to weep, only because the grave is so final and I knew maybe if not exactly, some of the kind of feelings she was having.  I said to myself , as if I was writing a story “you’ve got to leave the grave.”  I started mulling it over in my mind, “next title of story LEAVING THE GRAVE!”  I like most people I know  want the party and none of the pain.  So wouldn’t I be a prudent writer if I told a story about leaving the grave?  Maybe not, because the grave is the gift and the grave sight is where life must be lived.

The grave is a present no one would open if they had the chance to, yet it opens ones heart to the reality of heavenly things not understood by people not yet gifted.  Mornings after my sons death I would find my way to the back of the house and out the door to the patio, black coffee in hand and Bible on my lap, tears soaking into the thin paper pages of Job, Isaiah and the Psalms.  Every evening when I had hopelessly stumbled through the day, back to the patio I went, Bible open heart poured out and a big glass of dark purple wine warming my belly, sometimes the smoke of a clove cigarette in my lungs.  He met me there each day on the patio in my desperate longings for questions to why, longings for answers, longing to be able to see His plan. The plan that desperately wounded me.  I remember asking Him time after time  to transport me to Heaven just to see a glimpse of the Glory my faith knew of but heart couldn’t grasp. Prayers coming from somewhere supernatural drove deep into my heart and rose back up to the heavens never uttered from my lips but felt deeply to my soul.  “The Spirit longs to make intercession for us.” The grave had a hold of me but could not hold me. I would have never longed for or clung to God so deeply like this if I had not experienced death.

Dying daily and yet living!  Something very mysterious was starting to come into my view, or into my story. As I met God daily because of my afflictions He started showing me how much life there is in death. We die and are given over to death daily.  Our dreams die our bodies die our parents die our expectations die our marriages die, its the reality we live in.  We live to die!  Is the story of the gospel written into our souls? The gift of Christmas is that Christ also was born to die.  Our lives imitate that very story daily.  He overcame death once for all and we will overcome death if we are his. The beautiful birth of Jesus that we celebrate every Christmas Season only leads us to the grave unless we believe that death has offered us a new chance to live. Death on a cross and a grave overcome.

I’m not sure yet of all the gifts of the grave and I embrace the fact that God’s ways are not my ways.  I can say with much certainty that I would have never written into my own story the loss of my child, but I can say I wouldn’t for one second change it.  God will be glorified even through death in my life and one day I will remember the grave no more and the gift will no longer be mingled with death and every day will be like Christmas.

 

The Perm

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I have been a student of beauty for as long as I can remember, from the time I was a tiny little girl I  recall having a deep appreciation for the majesty of beauty.  My very first memory, I can recall, finds me riding a shiny red bicycle with a silver bell, wearing a blue and white gingham jump suit, cotton of course.  Feeling a sense of freedom and smelling the warm California air.  My hair which normally looked brown and drab was ablaze with auburn colors painted by the suns rays. My senses were almost overloaded with what they were feasting on. Air, Light, Smell, Sight and four year old wonder of all that delights.

Out of all that God has created for me to appreciate with my sight like the sky, birds and nature.  Homes, churches and monuments, art, words and poetry,  I have found nothing as beautiful as a woman. The gentleness of a woman’s curves, the delicate bones of her face, the plumpness of her body and the tenderness of her touch all captivate my senses.  The way her voice sings instead of commands and the way her presence can calm you.  She has been divinely created to encourage to love and to help. She is the essence of beauty.  I am glad to be one.

My Grandma Ella was the picture of elegance and also my first teacher on the subject of beauty.  She stood tall and slender with a regal shape. A blond and silver “Bee Hive” hairdo topped her head, like a crown.  She said helpful things to my heart like ladies do this and ladies don’t do that, they sit up straight and never leave the house without there face on. My grandma made me feel as though it was a  privilege to be considered a lady and she drove a Cadillac!

My Aunt Cleo in her appearance was much different than my Grandma Ella, she was more round and full figured. When I met her she was a redhead. She had a sweet sideways grin and a wink that always accompanied it. I could here the Arkansas in her voice. Lordy, Lordy  what I would learn form my Aunt Cleo!  Words like a lady should know how to dance and always wear red lipstick.  Aunt Cleo taught me how to shave my legs when I was ten years old, even after my mom had said “no way.” She understood me, she listened to me, she loved me.  She was fearless, she was gritty and she was GORGEOUS!

My Mama Judy L. Walker was more beautiful than them both.  She was kind and funny and the tiniest thing you ever saw.  When she smiled her little cheekbones would turn into two perfect circles rising up to meet her eyes.  She had a sensitive spirit one that would not bid her well in her  future but when I was little she was the picture of everything lovely to me and I wanted to be just like her.  She was a lounge singer, she got dressed up every night, and every night I would take my perch on the closed toilet seat in the hall bathroom and watch her put on her makeup at the sink.  She smelled like Charlie Cologne and she always double did her eyelashes with Maybeline Mascara.  She never forgot to rouge her cheeks.
Everyone told me that I was the spitting image of my mother, this was a huge compliment to me and I was tickled to be it!  One night while watching her make up routine I asked her why she had curly hair and I had straight hair, I mean I was her spitting image you know.  She replied with a giggle, “honey this is a permanent in my hair.”  I was shocked and dismayed and decided that I must have one too!  I asked my mom if I could get a permanent also, she said that I had to ask CARLOS….

Entering the scene is Beauty’s arch enemy…..Shame Also known as Carlos.

I hated Carlos and in some strange way I loved him too and I wanted him to love me.  He was abused and he was abusive and he abused me.   He was my stepdad and I was terrified of him.  He was the ugliest person I have ever known he stole beauty right from your sight and replaced it with rotten, ruined  self loathing shame, but I had a goal named permanent and I wanted that beauty.  And as terrified as I was, I set out to plan how I would ask Carlos for one.

Mustering up courage is hard for a ten year old girl. The first day went by and I couldn’t ask, the second day went by and I still couldn’t ask.  All the time Carlos loving every minute of my torment.  He would look at me with his greasy grin and yellow eyes, and taunt me with his chuckling smirk.  The third day was my day, I couldn’t handle the not knowing anymore.  I remember walking straight up to him, he was sitting  in his recliner. Belting out my rehearsed lines ” its almost my birthday and instead of a present could I please get a perm?”  I waited…. .

“No!” Carlos laughed out loud in his wicked way,” a perm aint gonna help you.”

I felt as if he had been waiting  and waiting to land this beauty mocking punch to my soul.  If I had been a smarter child I would have said fine and walked away… but all in one blow I was crushed and defeated.  My desire for beauty and my ten year old courage had afforded me nothing but a disgusting, stomach sickened shame.

The Bible says in Ephesians 6:4  “Fathers do not make your children bitter about life, instead bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.”  Another translation says “Fathers do not provoke your children to anger.”  As a child of Christ now for almost 30 years I can see the wisdom of this scripture.  Almost all my  life I carried around deep in my soul the scar of my rejected beauty at the hands of a rebellious step father.  You could say that I was embittered from that exchange.  Even more serious baggage came when I started trying to comprehend God as Father.  I couldn’t help but think, maybe God is sly and just waiting to pull the rug out from under me.  Maybe God thinks I am ugly maybe there is no beautiful mystery and maybe I will be found wanting.

We know we are deeply flawed and yet we long to be deeply loved. Our own hearts deceive us, the enemy of our soul deceives us and the world tells us we are not yet beautiful.  The memory of our scars tell us to see with our eyes what is inherently wrong with us how ugly we can be, how ugly we have been treated.

But the underlying current of our spirit tell us something else, it beckons us to search for beauty through eyes of faith and the words of God.  To trust what we know not what we see.  To trust the price paid for us. To trust the one who created us to behold beauty. The one who is beauty the one in whom we are image bearers of beauty.  The one who died that we might beautifully live.

I knew as a little girl standing before Carlos that I was beautiful, I knew I was loved by God, though I hadn’t yet met him.  I knew I had value I knew I had worth, I knew I was a woman created to encourage, what I didn’t know yet was how to take a punch without getting knocked out….

I know that now.  In my weakness Christ, the true beauty, is strong and in Him I have Victory!

The Farmer and The Pharisee

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It didn’t come in the mail, it hadn’t been sealed or stamped or even post-marked, this was a custom created invitation and hand delivered to boot. Its edges were trimmed with silver tears and it felt weighty in my hand, heavy, like it had been written on fine linen from the hand of God. It was worn soft like an newbirth kiss and it seemed like it had been traveling to me for a long time.  I knew once I opened it I would forever be changed and it would beckon me to make a decision,  the way that any good invitation does.   I wouldn’t be in charge of what the invitation said, or how it came or what would be required of me, I would only be in charge of how I  R.S.V.P.’d

Once in hand the invitation unfolded on its own and instantly my soul took to reading it.

YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED

To The

DEAD SON CLUB

What. no! This couldnt be an invitation for me my heart cried, this is an invitation that others get.  Mighty people recieve such news, strong people, people who fight wars and write books and go on missions, people who change the world.  People worthy and strong and full of selflessness and character, those are the people who deseve such a tradgedy and such an honor.  I was sure that this wasn’t intended for me.  This was anothers invitation.  Checking the front of the envelope needing desperatly to make sure this was really addressed to me…..  And yes it was…. And yes I began to howl in agony, “I WILL NOT ATTEND!”

The sadly tragic thing was that there was no phone number to send my resounding no to.  No return address.  No meet me here date.  Once I had opened the invitation I was accepted into the club and I would start to learn it’s ways and it’s rituals. There would be no returning to before the invitation came. There would only be the revelation of how undeserving of it I was and I would start my new life with a dead son, invitation in heart.

The book of James says “So be patient brethren, [as you wait] till the coming of the Lord.  See how the farmer waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the land.  [See how] he keeps up his patient [vigil] over it until it recieves the early and late rains.  So you also must be patient.  Establish your hearts[strengthen and confirm them in the final certainty], for the coming of the Lord is very near.

With one invitation my life was transformed from early rain season to harvest rain season and God was drawing me near.  The coming of the Lord was very near.  Time for me would forever be in those two seasons.  And if it wasnt for the invitation I would have never known how miss spent my early rain season was.  As I toiled and tilled my own soil in the early rains  I stumbled over every rocky stone of sin, teeth in the dirt and grit on my tongue I would get up spit out and try again.  With all my might I would try to just grow something good, something pleasent.  I was certain that if I just applied certain principals of growth and a little elbow grease I would have a beautiful garden.  My garden  would contain a beautiful marriage where beautiful children would thrive, children that turned out okay and served God ones that certainly didn’t stray or embarress me or wind up dead. My garden would be built on the idealistic Christian Family .  The Bible was my gardening manual and Ill be damned if I wasnt going to be the best damned farmer there ever was!  But I wasn’t and for all my trying I was never going to be a great farmer with a great garden at this rate.  Gardening solely relies on the GRACE OF GOD something pharisaical farmers know nothing about….  Thankfully Farmers get invitations too….

Truly Truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit.

Death had given me access to the  late harvest rains and with my invitation I was now seeing and sensing in my spirit what God intends for the spirit.  It is death of self and a life of trusting in God.  He is the Supreme Farmer I am to be patient I am to establish my heart in strength, and plant my will in him.  He does the work, He tills the soil He removes the stony sin.  He is the Lord of the harvest and He harvests how when and what he wants.

I would be liar and a fool if I told you that the gaining of this seed of wisdom keeps me from longing for the days when it did not grow.  For I am as insensible as the Isrealites wandering in the desert.  I desire and long for cucumbers and melon when I am feasting on manna from heaven, but God in his mercy still tends to the garden of my soul and does not begrudge me for missing my beloved.  Cucumbers and melons are delicious foods but they could never replace THE BREAD OF HEAVEN.  As it is with my story my son and I had a beautiful relationship but it pales in comparisson to my relationship with Christ, and when at last I am back in that heavenly garden oh how my soul will rejoice in trusting the farmer who saved a wretched pharisee just to watch her grow.

Continue reading “The Farmer and The Pharisee”

Praying Home The Prodigal

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It is almost impossible for my mind to communicate to my heart that it has been three years since I lost my beloved son.  It seems in the measurement of pain that it has been 30, and when I think of the specific heart wrenching, take your breath away kicked in the gut feeling, it seems like it was only yesterday. It seems as if only yesterday my life was changed in a heartbeat, my life became my old life with that one thump-thump and I started a new life with the next thump-thump.  Locked away as if behind steel bars was the life I had, the life I had planned and the idea of the path my life was supposed to take.

“Man makes his plans but God directs his path”

Two weeks before Chile died I was in my room praying and my soul was very troubled for my children, each one of them were doing something in their lives that I thought didn’t line up with how they were raised.  Being an amateur parent I truly thought that if you did everything to the best of your ability to raise your kids, they would turn out good, follow God and make Godly decisions.  But young adult children do what they want, kind of like Gods grown up children,” and all we like sheep have gone astray. ” So there I sat on my knees forehead on my bed weeping hot humble tears.  ” God I am and have been so wrong I want my children to do right, to look right because of my own foolish pride. I can’t imagine walking  with them through the sin that they are entangled in.” As sure as the word were rolling off my lips in heartfelt sobs a supernatural shifting began to take place, suddenly I realized how ugly my thinking had been, how years of my parenting had been in vain, how I just wanted to raise Christian Kids so that I could look successful and prove that I was.  I knew that if I tried hard enough I wouldn’t be one of those sad Christian Parents who said “I don’t know where I went wrong!”  The kind of Christian Parent who was the object of my judgement.  I was there in a heap head now on the floor, the two-edged sword had been thrust into my spirit and I was found wanting.

Suddenly the true prayer started to emerge from my soul as if it had been there buried, hiding for a long time.  The prayer was one of the most authentic prayers that had ever happened to me, it was happening, I was a part of the prayer but I wasnt the author of it. My forehead was resting on holy ground and the utterance of my mouth was this…”Lord forgive me from the depths of my soul for being so prideful, Lord I have only wanted to please you but in that desire to have gotten lost and started to please others and myself.  Heavenly Father I am so afraid that eternity planted in my children hearts will somehow be stolen from them. Lord I am afraid of being destroyed by my enemy, Lord I do not trust you I am afraid you are a harsh master and I am lost.”  I was unaware of the pig pit I had walked myself into and now with the light of Gods Holiness I could see my muddy mess.  The Spirit had spoken to my heart or through my heart and I had seen with the eyes of my hearts understanding that I was a sinner saved by grace safe in the arms of my Father, He was in charge, I was not.  He would be the Author and Perfecter of my faith and my children, and all my striving couldn’t help.  He would keep me. He would do the work.   He would shed blood.  He would pay the penalty.  He would Judge.  Suddenly I understood that I was the prodigal and I needed to find the path home.   I didn’t know from that crazy prayer  what the journey on the path would entail I never thought I would bury a son. I never though I could feel such deep compassion.  I knew I  had no control over the path.  I couldn’t say for sure even if I were to behave on the path that it would be safe, I didn’t know if I could behave.  I didn’t know if I might start heading in the wrong direction back to the pig pit, but what I did know was that the path led home. The path was the way of surrender. On the path I was held by the Spirit, off the path I was still held by the Spirit.  And at the end of that path was my Father.

Winter Weeping Christmas Joy

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As Summer stumbles out of season and Autumn chills begin to nip, my soul begins to stir.  I know what lies ahead, sheets will be changed to flannel, fires will be built, thermostats will be raised and warmth will only be found inside my  home. My family will start to come in.  Days will become much shorter and a reflective darkness will lay hold.  I will dress the Winter table placing each piece with care but one seat will remain empty one dish will not be filled and an ache will begin to beat in my heart like the rhythm of a familiar tune.  Christmas will soon be upon us and Joy will be thick in the air, we will sing of Christ come from Heaven and I will long to be there.

 

After loss Joy is always mingled with pain, like sour bitter gall intertwined with the delight of knowing an unquenchable thirst.  Weeping and gladness start to wrestle in my spirit and I am found holding on for dear life on waiting to be blessed.  We will open gifts and gladness will be felt but it will be fleeting and will only remind me of a treasure gifted in heaven, one I cannot open yet, one I can only dimly see.  “Heal me Lord and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved for you are my praise.” Jeremiah 17:14

 

Praise sweet praise will only be uttered at first from my lips almost like a melodious  grumbling, “Lord I thank you for your gracious love for the promise of Heaven for the generous forgiveness of my sins.” ” I thank you for memories made and now remembered making the ache of earth and its bittersweet agony more bearable”.  “Lord I thank you for only one chair empty, and the full winter table, for the bounty of harvest for the flannel wrapped rest.” “Lord thank you that you do not forget one of your children and me, being like my father cannot forget.” ” Lord thank you that I am slowly being healed of the chasm of heartache, slowly being filled by you.”  The rhythm sets in now like a slow-moving train like a little toy drum like a soft Christmas carol.  My gratitude starts to minister Heavens truth to my heart.  “Heal me and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved for you are my praise.” Proudly singing now like the Summer sparrow, “Lord you are my praise, Lord you are the Gift, Lord you are my healing.”

 

And now I see  that I have been gifted with emptiness?  Gifted with pain?  Gifted with loss?  Gifted with grief?  I was opened and received much grace through pain, receiving Kingdom Mindfulness like a gift I never knew I needed. I long for heaven like a child longs for Christmas morning on Christmas eve. I have been poured out only to be filled again, filled again with the warm winter wine.  Broken to be healed, empty to be gifted, made poor to see treasure, having a child in heaven so I will long to go home.  I am healed and at the same time longing to be healed, singing the praises of redemption waiting ever so patiently to be redeemed.  Accepting the unmerited gift of Christ yet longing to open it, it and the fullness it contains.

 

“But as for me, I would seek God and I would place my cause before God; Who does great and unsearchable things, Wonders without number. Job 5:8-9.  So that He sets on high those that are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. Job 5:11. “Behold, how happy is the man whom God reproves, so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.  Job:5 17.  “For He inflicts pain, and gives relief; He wounds and His hand also Heals, Job 5:18. “You will know that your tent is secure, “You will know that your descendants will be many, and your offspring as the grass of the earth.  “You will come to the grave in full vigor, Like the stacking of the grain in its season. Job 5:24-26.

 

 

 

 

 

The Giving Away

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There I stood at the closed front door of the church on Nixon Street awaiting my que to walk down aisle.  My feet were swelling against the ivory colored granny-boots my mom thought looked so good with my dress.  My dress was a beautiful blush color complete with tiny pastel ribbon flowers adorning the lapel.  The wearing of pink in those days meant something, it meant the absence of purity.  Although I didn’t need the help of the dress to alert anyone to my impure state, for I was standing and waiting to walk down the aisle 9 months pregnant.

 

Standing and awaiting the opening of the church doors at my father’s side, admiring how dapper he looked with his pink rose boutonniere and his sharp Italian suit,  I felt loved and safe.  Every strand of my hair hand been curled into ringlets and a wreath of baby’s breath crowned my head and a golden locket from the groom graced my neck.  I knew that I should have felt like the most beautiful girl in the world on that day but I also knew that obedience and purity is the invisible attribute that gives a bride her glow and her radiance.  The blush color of my dress matched the blushing embarrassment of my spirit and the reality of my current situation could not be overcome with romanticism.

 

With my arm wrapped anxiously around my fathers strong arm I looked into his eyes and began to cry.  “Dad, I’m really sorry!”  “Sorry for what Aim?”  “I am sorry for how I look, for what I have done, that you have to walk me down the aisle this way.”  My dad started to cry ” Oh Aim you are beautiful, don’t cry honey, I am honored to be your dad and walk you down the aisle.”  I knew he wasn’t lying my dad had made the choice to be my dad just eight years earlier.  And I had tested every boundary of his fatherhood since then. He had  searched for me when I ran away.  He had picked me up from jail.  He had rescued me from abusive situations.  He paid for me to go away to school so I could graduate.  He adopted me and certainly paid the price for all of my mistakes and now he was walking his wayward daughter, dressed in pink, down the aisle and paying the price for the wedding. I still don’t know how he could  feel honored when I had not honored him?

 

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly for love covers a multitude of sin. 1 Peter 4:8

My father had considered the cost and paid my debt with grace.  He was giving grace to me always and in abundance.  He was covering my shame with the healing balm of grace. He was covering a multitude of my mistakes with his love. My father was honored because of who he was not because of who I was or what I had done. I was my fathers beloved child, I was simply loved by him.

 

I can’t tell you what happened in that moment when our eyes tearfully met, but it was most likely a miracle.  The church bell rang and the doors opened and as we walked down that aisle, my countenance was changed.  The strength of my father was beside me, guiding me and shoring me up as we walked.  My dress was still blush my ankles were still swelling and that six pound baby was still taxing my tired body but I was radiant, I was glowing, I was a beautiful bride.  All mistakes had been forgiven and I was adorned in LOVE!  I would go forth and try to do better because I had been changed by GRACE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grieving With Your Heart

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If I am going to be honest, I’ve had a bad week, a sad week, a week that makes you want to climb back in bed, draw the shades and forget the world exists.  And you would think that my state of sadness would come from my own grief but it hasn’t, it has come from my very best friend.  He is missing his son.  He spoke it to me a couple of nights ago in our daily after work conversation.  The speaking of it brings me to my knees in pain for him, not because I don’t have my own deep missing but because he is suffering with something I am so well acquainted with.  His heart is breaking and I know how every fractured piece feels.  Emotionally, I am on the floor in a puddle when he says it and rendered useless to help him except to say “I am so sorry, I know how you feel, I miss him too.”

I love my husband, I respect him and he is the love of my life but before we get to crazy here this is a hard-fought for love! No princess fairy tale stuff went on during the making of this marriage.  My marriage has been a death sentence, death to self mostly.  I am a strong-headed woman and Jason is an even stronger leader.  I have hated him at times with a complete abandon and loved him more times the same, but I have never loved him they way I love him now.

Laying  to rest our son together and sharing in that heartbreak has truly made us friends.  There is no person on the face of the earth that knows how I feel more than him.  He needs no explanation for a bad day or instant tears he already knows.  Harsh or foolish words are easily forgotten between us now because everything suffered is held up to the light of what we have endured and it blesses me.  I know that takes a lot of guts or something else to say but I am truly blessed with this gift of grief and I am truly blessed to grieve with him.

Being blessed does not diminish the tragic torture of it all.  When people say to me ” I can’t even imagine what you’re going through.”  I kind of have to agree with them, I mean I can’t imagine what I am going through, its brutal!  Grief is a club we don’t want to belong to, nobody signs up for a course on suffering.  “Um, Hi Yes I am interested in having my heart smashed into a thousand pieces, do you have any idea where I sign up?” Said no one ever!!! But to the child of God who suffers rightly, oh the Glory and faith that abounds.  I praise God that I have not had to endure any of this alone, but I especially thank God that I haven’t had to do it with out Jason.

My heart is overwhelmed with sadness when I think about possibly having to be without him someday,  who will know of my very distinct pain and who will comfort me…..and then I am reminded of my faith,  of my God and his promises.  I have a Savior well acquainted with grief and every heartache I have ever felt even the ones he has caused.  I have a Savior who is near to the brokenhearted and a Savior that has been broken.  He calls me beloved even when I am foul and he will never leave me, his suffering with me is long.  I have a Spirit who is a heavenly comforter and I am never alone.

Does my gift of faith diminish the pain of my great loss?  No and I wouldn’t want it to but it reminds me that I am eternal, the longing for joy is constant and God is good!

 

Bearing The Breathless Birth

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July 24th 2015 is a day that I will never forget, it was a smoky hot evening and the sky was starting to share glimpses of that spectacular orange color it displays during wild-fire season.  I was happy with a full belly and merry heart after being on a dinner date with my husband and although everything in my life was not perfect,  I had this overwhelming amount of Joy!  Walking home from down town as we often do my phone began to ring as I looked to see who was calling I was sort of alarmed, one of my oldest and dearest friends was calling, except she is the kind of person who texts and doesn’t call.  I answered the call and my heart was soon draining of every ounce of Joy it had been filled up with that evening.  “I think I am losing my baby!”  “There is no heartbeat!”  “I am on My Way to the hospital!”  “I need you to come!”

I remember nothing about getting to the hospital and nothing about finding the room I only remember coming into the room and enveloping my husband her husband and her in a huddled tearful prayer.  Prayers are so different, honest and heavy when you are truly  at the end of yourself, when you see just how small and powerless you are. When your life goes from joyful to tragic in one swift moment..  Praying heartily for God to change His mind, for Him to grant live birth, for Him to change every second of these awful moment with tears and petition and broken hearts we wept and prayed and embraced.  There we were four complete individuals unified by our hearts desire for life.  We knew the knowledge of good and evil and we were crying out for the good while slugging it through the evil.

Sonya would labor throughout the night and we would cry throughout the night.  We would laugh some and remember old stories trying to pass the time and oh how  I wish I could paint a picture of the silent prayers traveling upwards toward heaven on behalf of mother and her child.

The early morning came and the baby was coming Sonya was ready to deliver and I was still hopeful, hopeful that every doctor sonograms and gut feeling was wrong.  Sonya began to push and I held her hand I wanted desperately to make this better so I began to tell Sonya of all the heart breaks that her sweet baby would not have to endure on this earth, my wise and kind friend asked me if I could tell her later of these things.  She wasn’t ready for the hope before the heartbreak.  I would soon understand how important it is to grieve before we rejoice.  And since we are His children we are His heirs,  In Fact together with Christ we are heirs of Gods Glory.  But if we are to share his glory, we must also share in his suffering. Grief before Grace, Heartbreak before Hope Repentance before Redemption.  This is the pattern of heaven,  the pains of labor will come before the joys of new birth. The pain of labor came and Emmie was born with a bountiful amount of heartbreak.  I can think of nothing more devastating than to hope for and labor for a baby only to have that hope completely snatched from the heart.  When she entered the world without her breath it’s as if we all were punched hard in the stomach and the wind was knocked out of us, especially her sweet mama and daddy.

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There she was lifeless,motionless and breathless and there I was hopeless.  I knew that we served a God of miracles and that we had a tremendous amount of faith and yet there we all were beholding a breathless baby.  She was fragile and so tiny and parts of her skin was not fully covering her flesh.  A fresh dose of hell had been hurled at my oldest friend and faith laid shattered in a plastic bassinet with a pink beanie on her head. When tragedy befalls a christian so does darkness you feel like God has abandon you. You feel like He has put you out on the back porch in the black of night and left you there.  You feel like you can’t trust Him, like you knew all along he was holding a grudge, like He was waiting till that perfect moment when you had complete peace and joy in Him to snatch that rug right out from under you.  And isn’t that the way of the enemy, the way of our untrusting flesh, to swoop down on us while we feel entirely alone grasping for breath and our hearts are spilled out in broken pieces. “Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”  “You Certainly will not die”!  “For God knows that when you eat from the tree you will be like Him, Knowing good and evil”.  Genesis 3.  Our flesh says, ” You can’t trust God in this!” And our flesh is right we have no ability to trust God with out The Spirits help  and this is the time of battle in which we must set the eyes of our understanding on things we cannot see.  This is where because of help from the Holy Spirit and the Love Of The Body we take our shattered pink beanie faith and say I still trust in a God I cannot see.

Why would a loving God allow this to happen?  Our Loving God knows that this place is not the end of existence, that death can not hold us and that Emmie is alive with Him.  This world and all its heartaches are nothing in comparison to the Glory and Joy awaiting us.  Our God knows that a still birth is not the end of life, it is the beginning of life in heaven.

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Sonya asked to hold her and we took pictures and cried some more.  About an hour went by and it was time to let Emmie go and I cannot begin to put into words what it felt like to have to watch Emmies mom say goodbye to her.  Beholding the death of a child, the death of the hope for its life while all along God is holding your child, it is a game of endless Tug of War.  It is a game of Tug of War that wakes you at night, that makes you cry tears until your forehead burns and that bruises your heart every day of your life. It is a game that Sonya myself and countless others will play until we are also buried.  Our hearts are in heaven while our flesh lives here. Life is eternal and the evidence of this is no clearer demonstrated than in a mothers heart and memories and longing for her child. Children are a gift from God beautiful bundles of sorrow and Joy!