Thursday, December 23, 2010

Listening for sleighbells and something else...


This Christmas we are without a church home, and we're okay.

It does seem bizarre to me that not wanting to participate in the church babysitting exchange (aka nursery and Sunday school) after over a decade of doing so would make me ineligible for participation in any of the other ministries of the church, but that's the fact where i am right now, and as a result my husband and I and our seven children are at home on Sundays instead of church.

God has provided a ton of beautiful activities with friends or as a family or at different churches in the weeks leading up to  Christmas, and now that it's almost Christmas, it's like the snow is falling thickly and we're here in our cozy home.

This is what i suspect - and what i have suspected for months before this weird turn of events.  That God doesn't want *me in particular*, to be relying on a church or its programming for my spiritual priorities.  And as the example above shows, priorities are definitely pushed when you are part of a "community of believers" .  But what does God want from me?

That's what i am listening for, in this season of snow, the quiet and the beautiful skies, the advent candles and the drawer full of stockings that is opened and plundered every day and then packed up again.  While i  have time and leisure to be at home with my husband and our seven little ones - where is He  pulling my heart?  Am i willing to go there?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Welcome back to the world...

Good news is, i'm back.

Bad news is, i had closed this blog down to invited members only while i tried to work through something with someone, and it didn't quite happen.

God knows.  Sometimes it feels like an avalanche, all at once, like Job's daughters and sons and crops and houses, and boils and his wife on top of it all, telling him to curse God and die.

Lately it's been relationship troubles (in a big way) with the outside world, allergies with the littles including a costly 911 ambulance ride, a rotator cuff irritation that's taking a long time to heal, arthritis? already?, a flooded basement and the resultant insurance fixing up that is taking months, and giving us a lot less room for nine people in a regular sized house. Plus a hundred smaller things that make up the fabric of light and dark in a life, including six sick children right now, a sick mom and dad (that's me and T), and a conference three hours away that he has to be away for (again?  so soon?)...

And yet.

When these things pile on, it looks and seems so deliberate.  Like someone would like to break me down, as Kanye West likes to put it... and yet ... Jesus walks with me.

Something so profound.  Does He fix it all, magically, using His God powers?  He could!   He could... or - He can walk with me, hold my hand, speak to me through His word, encourage me day by day to turn my face to Him, to choose to walk in the fruit of the spirit, to let Him animate my responses, my hands, my heart.

It's late, i'm lonely for my man, and i'm still waiting for all my little chicks to be, finally, asleep and hopefully getting better from this cold that's making the rounds.  But underneath it all, i have such a contentment.  He has blessed us with so much, He has been with us through all the bad stuff, and still loved us.  He knows my heart and my own immediate responses, but He doesn't get tired of teaching, reminding me, calling me back to His heart.

I'm feeling a little fumbly lately.  I like to have a path set out before me, and walk the path - and i like a map that shows me where i'm going.  But i serve a God who says "walk with me in the wilderness" and see where i'm going to bring you.  I want the faith of Abraham, to walk with him, not knowing where i'm going.

Listened to Jason Upton today - Come Up Here...

I was dreaming of the holy city 
I was wearing my wings 
Then I looked up and saw a doorway to heaven 
And I heard you calling me 
Come up here, come up now 
My beloved, my beloved 
Come up here, come up now 
My beloved, my beloved, come 
I want to fly 
Like an eagle in the sky 
I want to fly 
Through that doorway in the sky 
And Come

I want to go when He is calling...

Another song running through my head today
Jonathan David Helser - 

Likeness of Jesus

I want the cry of Moses
I want the ears of samuel
I want the heart of mary
Most of all
I want the likeness of Jesus

I want the prayers of Daniel
I want the voice of John
I want the walk of Enoch
Most of all
I want the likeness of Jesus

From glory to glory,
I am transformed,
Nothing between us,
The veil has been torn

I want to be holy as he is holy
I want to be righteous as
He is righteous
I want to be loving as
He is loving
Most of all i want to
Be like Jesus

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thoughts about death and mourning

Yeah, nobody is dying here...

But my sister is writing a novel about losing  a baby, and i just read the sample Wisdom Booklet online, whose theme is "Mourning Requires Visualization", and i guess i'm just thinking...

When we lost our little baby, i drove around, and wished i had someone who would understand.  My husband was distressed, partly just for me, i know.

Much later, when his grandfather died, it gave me comfort to picture my little one, safe in her great-Opa's arms.  It seemed unthinkable to me that Opa could be there and not find her and love her.

and i felt God laugh and me and say "what about Me?"

Of course, God is there, and she is safe with Him.

But this is what I think was behind my thoughts.  the saints in the book of Revelation, who are beneath His throne.  Begging to be revenged and given justice and satisfaction, and God is telling them... wait.

That doesn't jibe with what i want to believe about Heaven, which is that once we die, there is a timelapse moment, and it's all over for everyone else, and only good things happen.  Time passes for those martyrs in Heaven, and even they, up there, are waiting....  That makes me catch my breath.  Because what of my tiny one, my never held treasure?  Is she waiting, too?

Mourning does require visualization.  I agree with Mr. Gothard.  It gave me comfort to visualize my little one in her Opa's arms, and also in the arms of Jesus.  But those other visual pictures that come from the Bible, and therefore must be true, are less comforting.

I wrote a song when i was away at music college, confident in His love and leading.  It was a watershed year for me and for my faith - where i really experienced God's hand and presence, felt His breath, and was changed for the rest of my life.  In that song i wrote "when in times of honest need, have i ever felt deceived? God is wisdom, God is good.  I can trust my Father's love'

And i know it's true, i know He is all of those things - and i know i can trust Him.  But I also know that what looks like need to me He doesn't always see that way - so many times it's been my attitude, rather than my situation that He's adjusted.  I have not found in God a comfortable theology to lay back and grow fat in - rather, it is something alive and active, something challenging and iconoclastic, as He breaks the idols i didn't know i held, and makes me think in a different way.

I am so much less likely to have an immediate judgment than i was, and open to learning.  But sometimes i long for the simple visual.  And when it comes to my sin, He is very able to give me that visual so that i can mourn with Godly mourning over my own shortcomings.  In withholding a simple picture of my child, i wonder if that's His way of standing in the way, so that instead of sorrow, i see only Him.

Jasper hike-0046

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recalculating... recalculating...

My sister lent me her GPS when i had a specialist appointment in the Big City.  Usually my husband drives when we are there, but this time the appointment was during the day so my hero (pregnant) sister took all seven of my children, plugged the GPS in my supervan and explained how to use it.

Of course, i got  hopelessly lost and had to ask for advice three times from real people (once in a psychiatric clinic - oops!) - Anyway, i finally got there...

but what was neat about the GPS was, when i took the wrong turn it didn't punch me in the shoulder and say "you dummy!" - it just said in a really calm voice "recalculating, recalculating" and then resumed trying to get me to the place i was supposed to be at...

That's where i am right now.  Not with God - although i know after we lost baby Charis, that is *exactly* how i felt - just kind of numb, and recalculating, and desperately trying to keep driving.  But things have changed for us in the whole outward/Body of Christ set up - and we're... recalculating.

pray for us?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Being transformed, and patient

i'm having a talk lately about sunday school with our pastor (although you're not allowed to say Sunday school anymore - it's called Transformers, and if you say the S word, you have to pay?)

anyway, i wrote a long email about my hopes for my children, the books we've used, what i think works (basically, organized thought and theology and care by the community of believers for all the children in the church and out of it)...

and then T sent them all to Transformers anyway while i was on the stage, helping lead worship - which is fine, i guess...  I talked to the organizer and she told me they had a great devotional planned, but none of my children could remember any devotional - just the games and candy - if you go, you get candy - they set up a little table in the foyer and you only get it if you went to Sunday School, i mean... Transformers.  It is very hard for a family with a lot of little people, to just opt out. Very very hard.

I'm so worried about church wrecking my children for God.  Telling them that "it's enough" to do what they, the church does.  

I don't have any answers, but my heart says to share my own journey with my children as i walk it, to confess sin and share epiphanies and worship whole heartedly - and hope that they seek out truth and ignore the fluff and pap and commercialism.  

i think we are afraid to say we don't know when it comes to God - and yet, how can we know?  He is so big - we are so small - we need to leave room for mystery, for faith.

And it's hard to judge fruit when it's still summer.  And trust that harvest is on its way.  I just keep praying, and being who i feel God calling me to be - and i don't want to substitute something inauthentic for something natural and organic that God may do through the structure He's instituted of a family, teaching their own little ones.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Depression and God, Part II

And all of the sudden it was gone.

I feel like Christian, at the cross, in Pilgrim's Progress...

Up this way, therefore, did burdened CHRISTIAN run; but not without great difficulty, because of the load on his back.

He ran thus till he came at a place somewhat ascending; and upon that place stood a Cross, and a little below, in the bottom, a sepulchre. So I saw in my dream, that just as CHRISTIAN came up to the cross, his burden loosed from off his shoulders, and fell from off his back, and began to tumble; and so continued to do till it came to the mouth of the sepulchre, where it fell in, and I saw it no more.

Then was CHRISTIAN glad and lightsome, and said, with a merry heart,

"He hath given me rest by his sorrow,
And life by his death."

Then he stood still awhile to look and wonder; for it was very surprising to him, that the sight of the cross should thus ease him of his burden. He looked therefore, and looked again, even till the springs that were in his head sent the waters down his cheeks.

 - Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress

I wrote in to my friends, commenting that i had way too much energy.  I have not felt like this since i can remember.

Why now?  I don't know.  I do know I've been doing everything i could think of - eating healthy, working out a lot, choosing to do things that bring me joy.  I've had a lot more time to just worship, too - as i run through the beautiful trails around my home, i play worship music and have time to talk to God.

He could have left me as i was.  I am already so blessed - living at this time, in this country, with a husband who loves me, a healthy body, seven healthy smart little children, warm and cold running water, time saving "servants" who wash my dishes and cook my food with little effort from me.  A computer, and friends around the world who encourage me...

And now this.  I almost don't know what to say, but i couldn't leave it the way i did in my last post about depression.

I honestly do not remember a time when i wasn't carrying this around with me - It shaded my joy often, and felt insurmountable sometimes.  

I have often claimed the verses about joy - He is my Joy and my Salvation - but the word i hear now so often is *FREEDOM* - He has set me free, and i am dancing in this freedom and joy....

Monday, June 14, 2010


The weird thing about living in a pluralistic society, as we do here in North America, is that out of the melting pot of religions and ideas, some concepts seem to have more staying power than others...

like the idea of Karma...

I was running today, in a light rain, listening to praise music (Jesus Culture Music - LOVE It!) - and my thoughts went to Jacob, working for his father in law, Laban, for seven years, to earn his wife, Rachel.  When the wedding day finally came, Laban veiled up her older sister, Leah, instead, and Jacob never realized he's been had until the next morning.  Which was too late.

So Laban told him "this is our culture - we always marry off the older, first.  But you can have Rachel if you work another seven years for me."

and Jacob did.  Fourteen years of labour for his desired wife - but it says in the Bible about the first seven  years that

" they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her." (Genesis 29:19)

That's what it feels like running downhill 3k to meet T after work...

But while i was pondering this, i realized that Jacob, the trickster, who had cheated his twin brother out of his birthright, and his father's blessing (see Genesis 25 and 27) was now the one being played by his father in law.  Not only that, but he ended up with four wives, when all he really wanted was one.  

David, too, had a fatal flaw.  He wasn't a trickster - but a moment of weakness revealed his sexual temptation, and his murderous capability.  First he stole Uriah's wife, had sex with her and made her pregnant - and then he conspired to kill Uriah, who was his loyal soldier.

But the story doesn't end there.  The sin that David had, blossomed in his children.  His horrible son Amnon raped his own half sister, and was killed by his half brother.   David's own son rose up to try to kill and depose his own father.

What sins are lurking in my heart that might bear fruition?  We don't call it karma in Christianity, but the idea that what you do has an impact on your life beyond that one incident sure is there, in the Old as well as the New Testament.

But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

It is time to pull up the weeds in the gardens of our souls, and let the Holy Spirit sow in us those things we would most like to see growing in our children's lives as well as our own...

Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.

Monday, May 17, 2010


This has been a great week, and i was hoping to get past my birthday without the usual tears, but today was the day.

Birthdays have always been a time i felt especially rejected, unloved. In the way, a bother. I don't think anyone meant to make me feel that way, but it was consistently the way i experienced birthdays. As an adult, i haven't made my childrens' birthdays a big deal - generally just a cake and presents with the family - and i feel bad about not taking the time to make parties, but birthdays just fill me with dread and sadness.

This Sunday, before we left for church, i just felt kind of despondent. I was talking with God and said maybe i'll look up rejection in my Strong's concordance before church once we get there, and see what HE has to say about it...

But we were late, and sidled into a row of empty chairs.

The sermon was really good, about being converted - and then the pastor asked a man up to share his testimony. The man was a mill worker from here in town, and i hadn't talked to him before, but he was incredibly comfortable up on the platform talking, and one thing he said stuck out to me - it was about how he had been brought up with three brothers, but his mom wasn't around much, and he felt that rejection so keenly. He grew up thinking that whatever he wanted, he would take by force. He grew up into a man who was unpleasant, full of anger, and afraid of tenderness and love, as he saw those emotions as leaving him vulnerable.

I cried.

In so many ways, i think he speaks for most of us. Maybe not every week or every day or even every year, but i think loneliness is one of the emotions we've all felt, and to feel rejected, at least for me, means i keep away from people even more. Which leads to more loneliness, sometimes when you need to be in community most of all.

I went home and looked up the word rejection on, and this is what i found:

Romans 11:13
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry 14in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

Do you see what God is saying there? I'm looking up rejection and He is reaching down and saying "no, Stephanie, you are accepted."

Then i looked up "reject" and what i found made my heart ache.

118 entries, and these are phrases from some of the first ones:

and if you reject my decrees...
they rejected my laws...
I will not reject them or abhor them...
you have rejected the LORD...
I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected...
He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior...
it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king...

What i felt was God telling me that *He* knows rejection. He's been rejected, over and over. He knows, He sees, He cares. And He's enough. His heart for me, for you, is to bless us, to lead us to the promised land, and over and over we reject Him.

Watching the face of the man giving his testimony this morning, i cried a little. It was just a little overwhelming, and to be honest, there was a little jealousy there - i've been a Christian for a long time, and there doesn't seem to be a way out of my situation other than just to continue eating it.

But i did go and tell him at the end that his testimony had been part of an answer to prayer for me. God telling me He sees, He knows. I needed to know i am not alone.

And now i know that i'm not only not alone, but He does know, understand, intimately, what it is to be rejected.

Hebrews 4:14-16
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Christian community

Henri Nouwen: "Christian community is a community of people who remind each other who they truly are - the beloved of God."

I have been looking for Christian community the wrong way. The logical, "right", culturally appropriate way. But i don't think God's way.

I've been looking for Christians who look like me, who are doing what i'm doing, who are who i am. But how can i tell who is "the beloved of God"?

I've seen some older women, married for fifty years, beaming at their aged husbands when they're called our for anniversary congratulations, and the look in their eyes as they find those of their man, and connect, move me. The beauty is there only for the reason that they are so well and completely loved.

And in the same way, will people only look like His beloved if they are mine, first?

It is so easy to see the ways we are different, the things we do not have in common. So hard to reach beyond and connect as well loved, satisfied and contented in His grace and peace, beloved children...

I bought another Jason Upton album today (ain't technology grand?) and he is one who is constantly washing me in the Word, reminding me of who I am, and where i'm going. That there is a point beyond what our culture has made the goal, which is basically to look good, and spend money.

How can i be that for someone else?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Petulant child...

So, on a list i'm on, we were discussing church/babies/nurseries. And i wrote this:

Yeah- it's just been such a long stretch of always having to leave in the middle of worship/the sermon. Fourteen years solid.
I don't really like nurseries, either - i'm not comfortable nursing in front of strange men who might come in whenever they want, the change station is always kinda gross - other people's children have licked all the toys (and then mine do!) - and you can't hear anything in there...

T does most of the nursery duty, since he hurt his back and can't sit still that long either :) -

it's not that my littles are bad - it's just that the situation has been hard for a long time. they are all taking their turns being babies. But Anaia at 5 should be able to be a little better. And not, for example, pull up my skirt in the middle of worship ... just for instance :)... Now i only wear pants to church!

One thing i like is the "family feast" the last Sunday of the month - at first it was a pain to get a big meal made and brought to church, and then try to corral the children, but the more we do it, the more people know who we are, and the children are more comfortable and we kind of know where they are if they're not with us...

But the whole sit down shut up part is kind of lost on me most Sundays... Someone always has to go potty, or starts to cry, or wants to nurse, or is doing something naughty. It's not the end of the world, but it is the end of my concentration, and i'm one of those people that if i miss one point, i feel like there was no point listening to any of it...

So anyway, my friend told me i should adjust my attitude. And probably she's right.
What for?

What is the point of church? Is everyone there hating it as much as me? IF so, is there a way to do things differently? Or is this just one more case of grin and bear it and soon you'll be out of those pesky child bearing years?

Because that's what modern medicine tells me - i pretty much avoid all prescriptions, because nothing is safe for "pregnant or breastfeeding women" - which is what i've been for fifteen years solid. and i feel like the same can be said of church... Maybe most women don't care, because it's a two or three year span and then they are done?

Another friend wrote it was much easier when she let go the hope of being "spiritually fed" in church. Well, it's been decades since i have been - if i were going for spiritual food, i'd be dead by now.

But again, what is the point?

Is the family feast enough of a reason to go? Maybe it is.

If it's not the worship, it's not the message, maybe just the communal eating is the whole point of going. To get to know others? Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes it's really not.

I don't find most people hugely encouraging in my strange-to-them calling in life. Christians are either repelled or scared if you have more than 2 children, and tend to judge your motives before you ever open your mouth. If you have a large brood, you are expected to have them all perfect and quiet all the time. Some people tell you that the children are good even when they're not - others glare at you the whole time. And the whole prolife issue - when i was a child, every Christian was pro life. Now, they would prefer not to talk about it, and i would venture a guess that if the majority is prolife, the biggest part of that majority is the silent type...

I'm sorry if it makes people uncomfortable, but i can't figure out what church is for.

sometimes i worry that it's sin, since i'm obviously just going because of the "fear of man" and "whatever is not of faith, is sin"

I'm not trying to kick at the church i'm going to, which i am getting used to... just trying to figure out why i hate this so much and everyone else loves it so much...

Friday, April 2, 2010

We too live in a fallen world and must participate in its sufferings

Just so you know - most of this post below is from my notes at the Good Friday service this morning. We were late, i'm getting fat from being sick and had trouble finding something to wear - but i was glad we went.

These are my notes:


Mark 8:34

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life[c] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

We succumb to the crush of the urgent.

We misunderstand Romans 8:28.

In misery we are assured that God is working on our behalf.

Taking up your cross doesn't mean minor irritants.

When we suffer, we are following Jesus, and if we follow Jesus, we will suffer.

No fence sitting during suffering.

Our Christian witness is crucial.

Your suffering is not in vain.

"Pain is God's megaphone" (Don Larson) (I thought i had heard that before - and it was C.S. Lewis i was thinking of : C.S. Lewis once wrote "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” - The Problem of Pain)

His Word is a wellspring of life.

Suffering deepens our walk
Suffering creates compassion
and our ability to help others

Look to the one who suffered for you.


Those are all the notes i took - redolent of CS Lewis and Madame Guyon, reminding me of who He is, washing me in the Word...

One of my favourite Good Friday hymns is "Go To Dark Gethsemane" - it has two different melodies, and powerful lyrics for today and for the coming Sunday...

Go to dark Gethsemane, ye that feel the tempter’s power;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see, watch with Him one bitter hour,
Turn not from His griefs away; learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

See Him at the judgment hall, beaten, bound, reviled, arraigned;
O the wormwood and the gall! O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suffering, shame, or loss; learn of Christ to bear the cross.

Calvary’s mournful mountain climb; there, adoring at His feet,
Mark that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete.
“It is finished!” hear Him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die.

Early hasten to the tomb where they laid His breathless clay;
All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken Him away?
Christ is risen! He meets our eyes; Savior, teach us so to rise.

I know it sounds like all is pain and suffering here, and i can assure you that's not true! We are enjoying my husband's week off of work, enjoying the sun as spring tries to peek into our town, enjoying being together, and even enjoying the forced lassitude of sickness in the house. Sickness slows us down, we do less, and we connect more the slower we are going... It's been a slow week, but one filled with pleasure, and i know God is doing a deep work in me this week, and through this hard time. I've changed my signature at the bottom of each email to a Bible verse that encourages me every time i send out a message :

Job 23:10 But he knoweth my way, and trieth me, and I shall come forth like gold

What we are going through is so little compared to so many of my brothers and sisters all over the world. I've been reading "Scared" by Tom Davis on my ipod, and it made me cry, in the GM station, to think of all that some beautiful young believers have to go through - that they have to live in faith only to die still without seeing a realization on earth of God' hand upon them, of His good intentions toward them. They die like Abraham, not seeing the end of their faith on the earth. And i am so blessed. So blessed. But even the little pains that we endure will not be "for nothing". He sees, He hears, and all things He works for my good and for His glory both now and in the world to come...

Spring is coming!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Being Friends With God.

I've been thinking/praying a lot lately.

If you are my real life friend, or on any lists with me, you'll know a little bit, but just to recap - since Christmas day, we've been sick - i've had pneumonia, the little ones have had human meta pneumovirus (and still not over it), at least two different kinds of stomach flu, pinkeye... head colds, flu...

Our dryer broke down, then our washer. Then our laptop, and our stove is not behaving either. Plus we need a new tranny.

None of these things were surprises to me, because i did have advance warning - you know, how God just kind of lets you know "there's more to come... just be prepared"... In my case, that helps. And just so you know the ending - God is faithful - we are all down but not out, beautiful friends happened to be replacing their washer and dryer - and the tranny still has some use in it, for now... We have everything we need.

BUT it does lead to thoughts like these.

I've been focussing on "being a friend of God" and you know how some friends it's just sooooo easy - you show up, hang out, laugh, and it's all good? And other friends you have to work at it more - you have to be more careful with your words, or maybe you don't enjoy the same things, so you'll do the things you don't like so much, just because you do value their friendship - but it's not as easy? Well, God is like the ultimate hard friend, i think.

This is what i know. He wants to be my friend. He wants me to know Him. He wants me to run to Him when i have troubles, and to share my joy. But my "skin on" friends - if i ask them for help that is easily within their power to do - and they say no - i will quit asking them. That's just normal. So why does God want me to come to Him, even though He knows He will say no? I've been asking for a reprieve from the sickness for months now - and it's been pretty bad. I've been pretty despondent - especially when baby decided she didn't like taking her asthma medication four times a day nor the eye ointment four times a day. Eight times a day i was holding that tiny little girl on my lap, or on the floor, holding the air chamber up to her face, while she cried and tried to get away, or while she screamed "My eyes! my eyes!"...

I know it could be so much worse, but those days i was just shaking, broken, by the time T came home from work. And if He did listen, and healed us all, i know deep inside i'd be thinking "then why didn't you save my little baby?"...Because I've been more desperate than this before...

Thing is, it is NOTHING to Him to fix this... And i know, i know, i know... He has a plan for us. I know this deep inside. And what is almost worse - i know that every time we go through something like this - something that has "the whiff of brimstone" about it - that i come out changed, and with a deeper knowledge of who He is, a deeper faith, a renewed heart.

But while it's going on, all i can see is that my own strength is totally gone, i have no human refuge, and my one Friend that i know could fix it, won't...

I've talked before about my two best friends - my husband's deep, calm love. And my God's crazy, wild, reckless love... And somedays i'm thankful most that God did give me the man He did, to be that comfort in my life.

I wonder sometimes if "friends" is an appropriate paradigm to use with God. Sometimes, yes, it seems perfect - when i'm in constant prayer, and He's there, and showing me new things in His Word - and sometimes it seems like trying to be friends, like the Little Prince by St. Exupery - with a wild thing, a fox, an alien, something just so utterly *different* and *beyond* and *trans-everything-i-know*.

But friend is what i know, and some days i hang on to that.

Jesus loves me, this i know
for the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
they are weak
but He
is strong.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Cannot Do This Alone

I Cannot Do This Alone

O God, early in the morning I cry to you.
Help me to pray
And to concentrate my thoughts on you:
I cannot do this alone.

In me there is darkness,
But with you there is light;
I am lonely, but you do not leave me;
I am feeble in heart, but with you there is help;
I am restless, but with you there is peace.
In me there is bitterness, but with you there is patience;
I do not understand your ways,
But you know the way for me…

Restore me to liberty,
And enable me to live now
That I may answer before you and before me.
Lord, whatever this day may bring,
Your name be praised

- a poem included in Devotions for Lent, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

No. I'm not really observing Lent this year. Tentatively, i told God I'd try to read His Word every night. For a long time it was my tradition not to miss a night or morning with Him. After i lost my little baby, i just withdrew from His severe love that held me but let my little one fall.

maybe i was wrong to feel that way about Him, but we're working through it. He knows my heart, and this is where i'm at.

And i've missed a couple of days, so i hate even saying i'm observing Lent. Because it has to be perfect, doesn't it?

I cannot do it alone.

He knows how true that is for me.

Ordinary Miracle

maybe it's just me getting older. maybe it's me feeling tender tonight.
we've had sickness in the house for so long and finally we were feeling better, only to be pushed down and beaten up again.

and yet in the busyness of cleaning up and nursing fevered brows, i am so acutely aware of the things i do take for granted.

i prayed that we would not have any lingering germs when we went to visit my baby sister and her new baby - we did. Disappointing. In one sense, it's a prayer that God said no to.

But how many times does He answer the prayers we don't pray, does He supply what we lack before we even know to ask?

Tonight i've been at Kara Faith's blog and read about Nancy Jean's polyhydramnios. My sister had that, and we all prayed, and her baby was born whole and well. That was a pretty dramatic answer to prayer - but the next time the doctor told her there was polyhydramnios, it didn't seem like such an emergency, nor such a miracle when that baby, too, was beautiful and whole.

My little baby has been sick with a cough on and off since Christmas. Meanwhile, i got her cough, and kicked it up a level to pneumonia. But it could have been my little sweet one with pneumonia, instead of me - and i'm so grateful to God that He let that ordinary miracle happen.

So many threats, strangers, dangers abound - and yet so often we are spared. We (and here i mean "i") - I have my feelings hurt when i feel that God hasn't protected me enough, and yet when I am fine, when all is status quo, do I thank Him for the lack of drama? For His protection from unknown, unsuspected harms that He has taken care of, without my knowledge or asking?

Tonight i am grateful for those ordinary miracles, and for His grace, as steady as my heart is unsteady...