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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pressing

There are little teeth that need brushing in our house again.  I dig under the sink for Makiah's toothbrush holder.  I pull it out to wash it and then look inside.  There on the bottom is that dried up toothpasty stuff that drips off of used toothbrushes.  And I stop still.  I stare with eyes wide.  I can't wash it away.  It is gross, but it is evidence of her here.  Of the realness of a little girl whose mermaid toothbrush dripped wet every morning and night.  Proof that she really lived with us and laughed with us and was tangibly here with us.  So I put it back.

Later I am looking through her hair bows to see if any will work with the twin's fine, baby hair.  I pull out a tiny, pink bow with a heart.  There is blonde hair still hanging from the clip.  What should I do with these traces?   I can't wipe them away.  Not now.  I put the clip in a special place and give up on my hair bow hunt.  It is too painful.

I read something by Jerry Sittser in "A Grace Disguised" recently that comes to mind in these moments.  "Forgiveness is a lifelong process, for victims of catastrophic wrong may spend a lifetime discovering the many dimensions of their loss.  I have no vain notions that I have finally and forever forgiven the one who was responsible for the accident.  I may have to forgive many times more... for these (future) events will remind me not only of gracious gifts given but also of precious people taken away.  Though forgiveness may not have an ending, it has a beginning."

And we have begun.  But each of these unpredictable moments when the breath is snatched from your body brings a fresh wash of grief.  And a fresh opportunity to forgive.  People talk about "walking in forgiveness," but we rarely think about the difficult pressing that comes with lifting heavy feet ever forward.  Maybe they feel lighter after miles of trudging? 

Pressing.  I heard a teacher this morning say that no one can choose to press for you.  They can pray for you and encourage you.  But only you can decide for yourself that you will press on... past the pain... to do what is right... to be who God wants you to be... to do what He has for you... to the eternal prize that Paul writes about.                   

The pressing is not unique to me.  We each must choose to press forward or else be squeezed out and away from the full life that can be ours.  And so today I call out for strength to press forward!  And also for grace to see that messes of toothpaste by the sink (our children's or our spouse's!) are not gross... but beautiful.  Markers of moments made precious by the ones who filled them... not to be passed by or wiped up too hastily. 


"Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth!"  Hosea 6:3

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Desert


I have been reading the story of how God brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and into the desert while they were en route to  the promised land.  I am not trying to make any great theological point or draw a particular parallel with my own life...  I am merely making observations.  What strikes me is that He took them to the desert on purpose.  The people had left behind all the structure of their normal lives (albeit many were slaves), but even the houses and land they had lived in for 400 years was gone.   It is uncomfortable for us to leave behind our personal routines, whether they brought pleasure or pain.  They wandered in the desert,  lived in tents,  and ate the same cakes of manna three meals a day every day.   All as a part of God’s plan.

Alone.  Their routines, food, houses, and neighbors were gone.  They had no knowing of where they were going.  And yet, they were not alone.  They had God himself.  He appeared in His manifest glory to them all several times.  He even guided them through the desert  with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.  He made a dread of these homeless ex-slaves fall on all the nations around them so they would be safe.  Basically, God’s plan was for them to trade in their normal life for a time of isolation where all they had was Him.  He wanted them to learn to focus on Him, solely, totally.

And if they had, the desert trip would have been relatively short.  But they didn’t know that.  All they could see was what was missing.  And it seemed it would last forever.   And they complained.  And they became afraid. 

Oh God, help us not to see only what is missing from our lives!  Help us not to give in to complaining and fear when the desert looks like it will swallow us up.  Show yourself strong in our weakness.  Help us to have eyes to see you and ears to hear you and not miss the opportunity for  deeper intimacy that only comes in the desert!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Surprised by Love

For more than a year before Makiah died, I would wake up near dawn most mornings and sense that God wanted to spend time with me.  This was a big deal for me because I would feel wide awake, heart beating, and I am NOT a morning person by any stretch.  I thought of it as "the love call."  I would sit on the back porch drinking my steamy mocha and reading "Jesus Calling" while pink and orange waves of sunlight peeked over the horizon.  Surrounded only by chirping birds and a silence that envelopes the soul with peace, I would sip and meditate on scriptures.  Occasionally, I would whisper a prayer, but mostly those morning minutes were just about "being" with the One who woke me up with the love call.  Maybe you have heard it, too...

I think now that the call was so clear because those mornings were building in me something vital to my survival.  I was on the verge of plunging into the deep darkness that is the shadow of death and the shredding of hearts and dreams.  But I was clueless.  He was not.

So many reached out to us in the darkness to tell us that God loves us still.  Even so, that very question has been the great wrestling of my soul these last 17 months.  I know in my mind that there is no greater love than dying for someone else, and He did that for me.  So if He never did another thing for me, that is really enough.  But the tentacles of pain have squeezed my heart so tightly that it has seemed numb and icey to me.  Barely beating and incapable of feeling much deeply beyond hurt or anger or fear.  And so my breath prayer (you know, the kind you whisper quickly in desperate moments) these last months has been that God would give me a heart revelation of His love for me again... not just head knowledge.  Well, I got a surprise.

Have you ever been really, truly surprised?  I have had a few surprise birthday parties, and of course Makiah's death was a terrible, shocking surprise.  But now I can say without a doubt that I have had the best surprise of my life so far.  Cameron and I met with the fertility specialist in January to make plans to start the process again this summer.  I had a secret, crazy desire to be pregnant now so I was inwardly disappointed to hear that we had to redo some testing and that would take some months.  A few weeks later I took a routine pregnancy test so I could start the new meds the good doctor had prescribed, and well, you can imagine how shocked I was when it was positive!!  Of course I ran to the store and bought the most expensive tests they had... the ones with the words "pregnant" or "not pregnant" because I was shaking too badly to figure out silly lines!  Three positive tests later, I knew it was true!

I had been surprised by love!  A little bundle that is now 11 weeks along and will be born in September!  After all those years of infertility and interventions and tests that tell me that this is medically impossible...  here we are!  Pregnant by surprise!  And I know in my heart that this is a love gift from the only One who could give this sort of present.  And I feel it is no accident that our new little one will be in our arms just a week before Makiah's second heaven day.  Another gift of comfort for this mommy and daddy on the anniversary of our emptiness.  And something  has come alive in me these last few weeks.  Maybe it is the inward knowing in my heart's secret chambers that once again I cannot deny He loves me still...


PS  We have had an ultrasound and it is just ONE beautiful, little baby with a perfect heartbeat! :)