catastrophe

For those of you who don’t know me well, one of my part time jobs is as the Volunteer Coordinator for our kids’ program at church. Sunday mornings are a busy day for the whole family as we each scurry to our posts, and I make sure everyone shows up where they need to be in order for our classrooms to open. Recently, late on a Saturday night, I found myself needing to fill multiple positions.

Much to my joyous surprise, they were all filled by the time I went to bed.

The next morning, however, I was greeted by two more texts from lead positions assigned to first service, stating they were ill and unable to come in. Panic! Again, however, God miraculously helped me fill those positions, as well as the one that needed filling right after we were done with sound check that morning (I was with the worship team that weekend).

WOW!!

It was very unusual to have so many changes, and even crazier for all of those spots to get filled in time, not to mention the sheer ludicrousness of finding people to help who don’t normally serve on our team.

It was nothing short of miraculous, made even more so after a conversation I had today…

Evidently, there were some very timely and dare I say, divine, appointments that happened between people that would not have happened had so many changes not taken place. More than one conversation/connection was made possible ONLY by the fact that these particular amazing friends jumped into an unfamiliar space to help make church happen for our kids that day.

Sometimes, catastrophe forces necessary change.

Can you think of a time when tragedy was really the catalyst for triumph?? I am sincerely hoping that we all can, if we look at the big picture. Even the most benign of situations can in time evolve into the most glorious of breakthroughs.

I pray you would find such a connection today. That God would reveal His handiwork in your life in a way you may have never been able to see before. May even the greatest of catastrophes prove to bring you proof of His great plan for you…today.

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leaving the body…

“Pain is just weakness leaving the body.”

As I have shared before, the past several years have been a series of challenging days, strung together into one of the longest and driest desert seasons I have ever experienced. The alternating pain and emptiness has at times become unbearable, and I found myself experiencing emotions and shifts in my belief system that before that time had never been part of my experience.

Unaware of how to pray.

Doubting my faith.

My worth.

Believing God only blessed others but not me.

Hatred.

Constant, nagging, anger.

Cynicism and negativity.

Oh, I tried to fight it. Faith my way out of it. Counseling. Medicine. Fasting. Choosing joy. For all that I tried to do “right,” the results lasted short spurts of time, only to raise their ugly head yet again.

Two Sundays ago, I was on call at church and so was sitting in the very back, up against the wall. There are only a handful of chairs back there, and usually they are empty with the exception of those who are also working that day and are in and out, or ushers in between duties. For whatever reason, after I sat down, I found myself flanked on both sides by dear ladies in the house. As the pastor began to talk about communion, I could feel the tears welling up inside my chest.

I tried to be quiet.

As if on cue, both women began to gently pray over me. I began to cry harder and before I knew what was happening, sobs wracked my body so aggressively I was certain the front row was privy to my breakdown. Pain from the very depths of my soul rose up and began to flow down my cheeks – wiped away forever.

I am not delusional enough to believe that in any way life will be different from that point on (I have had breakthroughs before and I am certain there will be occasion for such in the future), but I do believe it IS different now. Peace, release, complete forgiveness…they gently flowed into the recesses created with my release. My load is lighter.

Or, I am stronger.

I’m so glad I didn’t give up. And, glad that I did. We as humans are so very complicated – more so when we actively pursue doing life well, and with purpose. But, God is not complicated. He is who He is. His promises are true, His healing complete, and His timing, albeit not mine, is perfect.

Let Him be your strength today. And every day.

Shalom.

today

Working through my bible study this morning, I was challenged to remember a time, and give an example of a situation from my past that would be similar to what she was talking about. I do know that I understand the principle, and that I have experienced it, but I simply could not drudge up any sort of specific memory.

It struck me how often seasons and situations of life, that in the moment seem so crucial and life-altering, can fade with time. As we go through life, our brain seems to have its own, and distinctly individualistic, approach to determining what it deems important to retrieve. The strength of the emotions related to the memory, and sometimes their absence, can greatly take over, and only a clear reminder will stir it up again.

Whether we want it to, or not.

If we are the sum total of our experiences, perhaps we do not always need to recall specifics. Our minds are designed to protect us. Sometimes it is the work of the Holy Spirit, and sometimes, truly, I think we forget because we learned the needed lesson, and don’t need to revisit old haunts that may redefine things now, that don’t require, or would be damaged by, redefining.

I was challenged a few weeks ago to remember a situation that I was witness to. After nearly 20 years, it was so foggy I wasn’t certain if it was my memory, or merely a reflection of the shared stories of others present at the time. Whatever purpose it may have served in my own journey, it was no longer useful to my brain, perhaps never to be retrieved. However, to the person wanting to discuss it, there was clearly a great deal of value to them and their own personal journey.

We are all working out our own stuff in our own way, in our own season, and in God’s perfect timing.

The beauty of a life with God is that no matter where we are, or what we do or do not remember…what we do or do not experience or share in, we can be confident that it is all in His plan, His timing, and for OUR benefit. While I may have 44-some odd years of experiences, only that which brings value, healing or clarity, will remain in the forefront of my mind until it is resolved. Or until I am.

I think what I am saying is – trust the process. In everything. Don’t be frustrated when you can’t remember something, if you keep reliving something, or if you simply can’t make sense of where you are today. Wherever you are, give it up to God and remember that His Word promises to work ALL things to good for those who love Him. Walk in TODAY and know that for right now, everything is as it should be.

Today.

cornrows and rat’s nests

My 10-year-old walked into the bathroom this morning with a huge ratted mass on the back of her head. While she has insisted that her hair must be long, she is not always the most diligent in ensuring that said tresses be sufficiently brushed and groomed. There are days I long to cut it all off…

This morning as I was working my way through the matted mess, I began to remember the hours I would spend combing out my ex-husband’s ratted braids before he would go in to get them done again. Cornrows that extended down to the middle of his back created a two day job for me – sometimes 6 hours of combing, while my back ached and fingers cramped.

Sometimes, labors of love have more to do with the choices of others. I think over the years, my desire to care for and love on those I value, has sometimes led to an unhealthy pattern of absorbing negative consequences of decisions I never personally made. When I take away the down side of someone’s choice, I am really enabling. Just as I need to let my daughter face the massive undertaking of untangling her desire for luxurious hair, so should I have given my husband the opportunity to do the same.

While giving and helping are innately beautiful things, the challenge is in finding the balance and creating healthy boundaries around our gifts of time an energy. Being generous to our loved ones is valuable – helping them to take ownership of their own choices, even more so.

I did end up brushing out Kenda’s hair this morning, as we have somewhere to be, but she is clear in understanding that the next time she lets things go too long, she will spend the extra time to sit down and work it out. Or, I cut it off.

What do you need to cut off today? Where can you help someone you love to help themselves? One of the greatest gifts you can give to another is to set them free to work out their own tangled mess…

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stripped

I posted on Facebook yesterday how terrifying it is to truly start over. Not in life, per se, but inside. After countless losses, deep wounds and the transitioning out of who I have always known myself to be, there are days I can barely recognize the woman in the mirror. She looks familiar, and yet so foreign.

Stripped.

It feels as though God has allowed my entire puzzle to be shaken out on the floor. He occasionally puts a piece or two together,  but there is no box with an image to keep in mind, so I wait anxiously to see where the pieces will all fall. Only God knows now who He is crafting me to be. The old me has lost long-held-to-dreams, vision, dreams, relationships, expectations and beliefs. Physical manifestations of stress plague my health and sleep. The very core of who I have been, and who I thought God was designing me to be, has been radically altered and I am left with more questions than answers.

Tired. Disenchanted. Clinging to a wee bit of hope that normalcy will return…I long to feel whole again.

I think of David. Of Job. Mary. Jonah…those in the bible who were brought to their end, only to be rebuilt again by the love and grace of our God. My heart longs for restoration.

Where I lack vision, He has a plan. In my weakness, He sends fellow prayer warriors and His Holy Spirit. When I am tired, refreshing comes in quiet moments. When faith wanes, He patiently waits.

For years I longed for the waves to stop crashing against my “house,” and now that they have stopped, the damage is beyond what I had initially believed. BUT, the great architect is at work – in the drawing room He pours over every detail, starting with rebuilding the foundation. What has been stripped away will be replaced, of this I have great hope. Like an old dresser, I am being sanded, smoothed and primed, with the fresh paint not yet seen, there is promise in His new vision.

Wherever you are today, know that you are not alone. None of us ever is. Hand over the reigns and let the builder, build. Stripped and all…