Thursday, January 28, 2016

When Mama Can't

There is this moment when you first look upon the fresh, new face of your newborn and you instantly know that you would do absolutely anything to protect them, to keep them well and happy. Honestly, in that moment it is hard to believe anything bad could happen to them.

When Jacob was a toddler, he was very sick.  We were young first time parents sitting in the children's hospital in a city far from home, watching the sunken eyes of parents shuffling in and out with fragile, bald children, and we were terrified.  As we checked off each appointment and treatment though, we grew confident in what could be done for our son.  We knew that the hours spent watching him be poked dozens of times, and the flow of medicine that left him cranky and sick was serving a bigger purpose.  We knew that the pain he was going through was helping him, and so we pushed through it to get to healing.

I never imagined there coming a day when we wouldn't know what to do for him, or that there might not be an option to help him get better.  Parenting is a scary venture, but I think to some extent we always believe that with God's grace there will never be anything we can't find hope in.  We believe there will always be some kind of answer, something we can do to protect our children and help them heal. Until there isn't.

I am standing in this hard place, wondering what it is that God wants me to understand through what seems an endless season of uphill battles.  I'm looking at myself and wondering if I will still see Him as good if we don't get the answers we are asking for. It's a painful thing as a parent to offer empty hands, to stand knowing that there is nothing you can do to fix this, that this pain they are enduring might be a path to healing, but this time, it might not be.  We might endure this agony and still not get  the outcome we pray for.

I can keep praying for the situation to change, and I may be crushed by the answer. Or I can pray for God's nearness, whatever the answer may be.

Please add your prayers to ours; we will never stop praying for healing, but most importantly let's pray that pain would not be wasted, that the story of grace would triumph in our hard, and we would be gentle and gracious as we are changed.


Friday, January 15, 2016

The Bottom

"When you think you've hit the bottom, then the bottom gives way... when you fall into a darkness no words can explain... you don't know how you'll make it out alive... Jesus will meet you there."

The words to this song by Steven Curtis Chapman are the groanings of my heart right now.  I fight, claw my way to the light to grasp hope, and still sometimes in the struggle I let my ear be bent that it is hopeless, that the shuddering gape of pain is stronger than the will I have to fight for more.  It is rare that I don't have words to illustrate my soul, but somehow, that's where I'm finding myself right now;  speechless, burning, afloat in a sea that renders me flailing, gasping, waiting for rescue.

We are facing things I never dared to imagine.  We get like that, don't we?  Confident in ourselves that certain things will never touch us.  Thanks for the dose of reality...

How would our hearts even know what to pray?  Mine doesn't, and people don't want to hear that.  I am in one day at a time mode; focusing on the next thing, and then the next thing.  There are promises I am clinging to; I know I won't be left here in this valley alone. I know He will meet me there, but the waiting is tough.   

Please, dear community, pray us through this.  We know in our hearts that beauty comes from ashes, but we have a hard fire to battle first. 

                 Steven Curtis Chapman~ "Jesus Will Meet You There"


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sitting in the Middle

This morning we sat in the plastic folding chairs of our Life Group, which felt suddenly hard and uncomfortable in the ear-splitting silence that had come over the packed room of people.  I tucked my chin to disguise my tears, and the entire frame of my eyesight grew crowded with the feet of the people surrounding our two chairs. In that moment, my emotions were confusing.  Frustration, embarrassment, and because no other word could describe it, resentment.  Not at the people around me, but I felt so discouraged at being the chair in the middle.  Once again, hands were laid upon us as we stood in the middle of tragedy; broken, weary, with the arms of our community holding us up.  I am tired of being the one that needs holding up.  It feels like season after season after season of hard has kept us on the defensive, treading deep waters and relying on the people around us to carry us.  I am ready to be the one who gets to give instead of always being on the receiving end.  It feels selfish, uncomfortable, and humbling.

Humbling...maybe that's the buzzword.  It's not comfortable to be vulnerable, no one likes to be needy.  On the flip-side, isn't that what we are created for?  Community?  Yes, I'm sure of it; we weren't intended to carry our burdens with our own strength.

Perhaps in this long season, God is waiting for me to learn to surrender to being vulnerable, to gracefully accept the help that He provides.  One would think that sitting back and letting others tend to your needs would be the easy part, but we groom ourselves to be independent, self-sufficient, mighty in what we can handle.  It takes grace and humility to learn to receive with open hands.  This is something I first learned from Kara... she implored us all to work at letting people help, at tending to their hearts by letting them do something for us.  Still, it's easier said than done.

We are immeasurably blessed to be surrounded by all the feet in that room.  Right from barely knowing us, this body of believers has jumped in with both feet to love us, pray for us, and fill the gaps that we have needed filled.  They are the gospel in human form, who am I to let my stubbornness stand in the way of letting community be exactly what it is created to be?

For now, my seat is in the middle. I am weak and struggling and needing the strength and prayers of my people to carry me through. I am confident that one day I will get to stand in that outer circle.  I will get to be part of the army that reaches out to link arms with a wounded soul and helps to carry them out of the valley.  While I'm waiting, I'm learning to sit, to breathe deep in the compassion that is poured over us, to accept with a humble and thankful heart the many blessings that have been extended, undeserving, to see us to the other side of this dark storm.

How does it make you feel to be the one needing help?  Who are the people that are there for you when you're going through something hard?  What stands in the way of you opening your hands to the help of those who offer?

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you're listening!!!