Aug 22

So…

I haven’t posted in a week.  I’ll be honest: I’ve had a lot on my mind (and my heart) and I really haven’t known what to say.  I still don’t.  It’s time, though.

I’ve been watching hummingbirds, for about the last week, battle over the territory that is our backyard.  I don’t know how familiar you are with the amazing little creatures.  I’m not overly so.  I know, though, that they are very territorial.  We’ve had one frequenting our yard all summer, drawn to the trumpet flowers and Rose of Sharon plants.  Lately, though, he’s been divebombing a fellow of his species, instead of devouring nectar.  We often focus, I think, on the delicacy of the tiny birds.  They are amazingly delicate.  In doing so, though, we tend to overlook their intensity and ferocity.  I’m always surprised by it, when it suddenly rears its head at me.  Like this week.

I’m always surprised, too, when something suddenly makes me think of Zoe. This week, the hummingbirds did.  Like the little zingers, she was beautiful, delicate, and tiny.  She was also fierce and intense.  What a temper!  And she was territorial, too.  She had a certain time of day, every day, that belonged to her, and she was not content with anything less than total, undivided attention.  So much personality in such a little package!

I think that delicacy and ferocity go together a lot more often than we realize.  There is an instinct, I think, that makes it so.  Just like we like to root for the underdog, we know, those of us who are small, delicate, vulnerable, that fierceness is necessary to our survival.  Part of the reason hummingbirds are so fiercely territorial is because they have such high physical demands and cannot afford to share food.  I think Zoe’s intensity was a gift from the Lord, so that we would be able to get to know her in the short time that she was with us.  And we loved her fiercely, because we knew our time with her was limited.

Ferocity has a direct connection with feeling threatened.  I see that in my backyard, in my children, in my relationship with my daughter.  I find myself a little concerned, though, at where I don’t see it.  Have I become so willing to be deceived that I don’t even see when I am being threatened?  Or am I just so comfortable and complacent that I don’t want to extend the effort that ferocity requires?

This is what I’m pondering today.  I’m praying through what I need to do in order to respond fiercely when I am threatened, or when my family or my values are.  I don’t want to be that delicate creature that was oblivious to its own demise.  There is value in meekness, but there is a time to stand and fight.  When Christ said that the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church, He wasn’t having a vision of us sitting still!

What about you?  Do you recognize ferocity in your life, when you are threatened, or has complacency mellowed you to the point of being innefective?  Maybe you’re somewhere in between.  Wherever you are, what will you do about it?

Aug 14

Being Still…

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Just a quick post today. Sometimes, when life is crazy busy, it’s easy to forget to “Be still and know that I am GOD.” (Ps 46:10) Here’s what the Lord has been laying on my heart today.

1 Kings 19:11-13a  “And He said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: (12) And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. (13) And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave.”

When was the last time you were still? Have you been quiet enough, lately, to be aware of the still small voice? Or are you so busy, trying to be heard over the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, that you’ve missed Him? Just something to think about. Blessings.

Aug 13

Entering In…

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So…First, I would just like to say that this is not my best artwork ever.  That being said, it is from the heart, and I wanted something, for this post, that would express where I am right now.  Which this does.

It all started at the beginning of the week, when I found myself in a very uncomfortable position.  It has to do with entering in to where someone else is and sharing it with them – whatever it is.  Sometimes, there are things that you can share alongside, but you cannot really enter in unless it is a place you have been before, on your own.  Other times we cannot truly enter in because the person is too vulnerable to really open the door to us.  Usually, though, the only thing that keeps us from entering is our own unwillingness.

As I am entering into a minstry that focuses on and reaches out to families who are hurting, I have spent a lot of time, over the last few months, in preparation for this kind of “entering in”.  The pain of losing a child is one of those things that you cannot, really, enter into if you have not already been there.  It is the kind of dark, frightening, intensely painful place that no one goes to voluntarily.  But it can also be a beautiful place.  A very intimate place.  A place where Jesus is.  A place where life is treasured and valued.  A place where every moment is worth more than words can say.  This, I know.  It is a place worth entering into again, if it is what God calls us to.  (Even as I write these words, I am entering into the sorrow of those who are there now. I long to show them around this place, help them adjust and cope, and show them the beauty I have found here.)

What I have not prepared for, however, is the fear.  I have been anticipating being invited to share in the pain, but I never considered the fear.  I have spent a great deal of my life trying to deal with my own fear.  By the grace of God, that’s not where I live anymore.  And I’m so glad!  Which is probably why I’d never considered going back there.  Until now.

This past week, I was really struggling.  We were dealing with some really serious things in our family, and there was one, in particular, that was really taking a toll on me.  And I was praying for the other people who were involved, really feeling a burden for them, as well.  I was aware of others, consciously being mindful of their needs, and keeping them in prayer, but I was in my own little world.

Until Tuesday night.  I was sitting with my husband, relaxing, having put the children to bed.  And I got a text message.  It was a very simple message, just a family member asking for prayer.  But it turned into a conversation.  Someone was inviting me in.  It was not to pain; I was already there.  This is what happens in a family.  Especially one that is already familiar with sharing pain.  Instead, it was an invitation to enter into fear.  Oh, boy.

I cannot say how grateful I am that the Lord was with me.  By His grace, I did not – and never will – have to enter into that place on my own.  If I had tried, I know I would not have found beauty or peace, and I would not have been able to help someone else find them there.  Instead, there would have been nothing but the overwhelming fear.  But He was there with us.  It was still not a place I would have gone by choice.  But I’m glad that I was able to go, to be there for someone, when they were struggling, feeling alone.

I’m sure someone is wondering what, exactly, happened.  It wasn’t something I can describe.  I can’t even say, for sure, if the other person experienced it.  I just know that I did.  Whatever it was, I know He did it, and I know I was blessed by it.  So, I’m grateful.  And, even though it’s an overwhelming thing, I’m looking forward to having another opportunity.  I’m honored to be invited in, humbled by the experience, and excited at the prospect of doing it again.

Just for the record, anyone who thinks that a short life is not worthwhile knows nothing about my daughter, my life, or my God.  My Zoë-girl has been gone for over 2 1/2 years and the Lord is still using her life to open doors in mine.  I am humbled, in her honor, to enter in.

Aug 05

And then there was…

My husband says I’m “wordy” when I post, so this is for him.

I just wanted to toss out an update on my medical stuff, since I had asked for prayer.  So far, we still don’t know anything.  I have one doctor calling me an enigma and another saying I’m her little problem child.

I’m not really surprised.  I’ve thought, for some time now, that it’s mostly spiritual warfare, which doesn’t show up on diagnostic screenings.  At any rate, there’s still no diagnosis.

I do appreciate your continued prayers.  I have another diagnostic procedure scheduled for Friday.  If it’s inconclusive, we’ve already made the plan for what comes next.  So, I’ll keep you posted.  For now, nothing new to report.

On the other hand, things are moving ahead with the ministry.  I’ve been making arrangements with a local pregnancy center to begin supplying some materials for their clients facing pregnancy loss, difficult diagnosis, and infant death.  God’s opening some doors.  Praise the Lord!

Aug 02

Hurting…

Kelly, at Sufficient Grace Ministries, posted on her blog today about something that every baby loss parent can understand.  I highly recommend that you read it.  There’s a link to their website in my blogroll.  You can find my comment there.

Kelly is hurting today, asking “what if” questions.  A U.S. Senator recently made international headlines by giving birth to a baby, diagnosed prenatally with the same condition Kelly’s son had.  The reason for the headlines?  Due to extreme intervention, the Senator’s baby survived.  Kelly fought for the same measures, but was told they wouldn’t help.  Her son lived for six hours.

Kelly understands the grace of God – she named the ministry for His grace.  But, like all of us in the community of bereaved parents, her arms are empty.  Even though we look ahead hopefully, there is still hurting now.  Like Kelly, I know my Zoe-girl is safe in the arms of Jesus.  But MY arms are empty.  And that means that, for now, I miss her.  There is a balm in Gilead, but it only soothes.  We still have to deal with the pain of loss every day.

I really appreciate Kelly’s honesty today.  Like all of us, she’s having a bad day.  We all do.  God’s grace really is sufficient, and it helps to understand that we are loved by our Sovereign Father, who has a plan for every moment. Our children’s lives matter.  It’s good to know that.  But we have still lost.  And it’s okay to remember that, sometimes, and just hurt.

My heart is hurting with Kelly today.  And with so many others.  Just like I know their hearts hurt with me, when I am having a bad day.  We live in a fallen world – it’s okay to admit, sometimes, that life hurts.  Some days, more than others.

Aug 02

Coffee…

I love to have the kind of conversations that leave me thinking about things. I have this friend who I absolutely love to sit and chat with.  It doesn’t matter what we start talking about, we never end up having a shallow casual conversation.  And I love it!  This morning, I had the privelege of having coffee with her.

Like yesterday’s conversation, it prompted a lot of thoughts.  I’ve known my friend for about fifteen years.  She has a daughter my age.  In high school, she was closer to my mom than to me.  After I got married, my husband and I moved.  For about 4 1/2 years, we lived about 8 hours away.  After we had our sons, we moved back.  We started attending a new church.  Shortly after, she began attending.  We joined at the same time, about a year and a half ago.  I’ve known her for 15 years, but I’ve learned more about her in the last year and a half than I know about some people I’ve known for thirty.  And I learned more today.

One of the things my friend and I share is an appreciation for the music of Michael Card.  I’ve been listening to him for about twenty years, since my parents were still choosing what was on the radio.  I’m not positive, but I think my friend has been listening to him for about fifteen.  She is constantly passing on things that he’s shared at conferences and in lectures, even things she remembers from his radio program.  And I love it.  It just makes me like his work even more.

One of the things that he talks about (and, consequently, so do we) is the journey from formula to intimacy.  He demonstrates, from Scripture, the same thing that Paul teaches in Galatians: when we first begin to walk with the Lord, there is a necessity for rules, a list of do’s and don’ts.  As we continue toward intimacy with Him, though, the need for those rules decreases.  It isn’t that the rules become less important.  It’s the same kind of progression that happens in child-rearing: we start by giving our children guidelines, doling out consequences for bad choices; as they grow, however, we trust that they have learned the things that we meant for them to know, gaining understanding, and we expect them to do what we have taught them is right. In addition, we hope to develop a peer relationship, a different kind of intimacy, as they begin to share our values and make their own good decisions.  This is one of the goals of effective parenting.  And God is the ultimate “good parent”.  So it makes sense that He would “parent” us with the same goals that we have for our own children.  He wants us to learn to make our own good decisions and do the right thing, not because we’ve learned the rules, but because we share His values and know what the right things are.

The difficult thing about this journey, then, is the learning process.  How do we get from needing the rules and guidelines to being intimate with someone who shares our values, as we understand what the right things are?  That’s where it gets complicated.  And hard.  Because there is NO easy way to get there.  It has to start with something that makes us question the formula.  And the only way to get to intimacy, or even start moving toward it, is to get to a place where we understand that the formula is only a starting place, not the goal.

We were discussing, this morning, some of the books I have been reading, specifically whether I would recommend them.  There’s been one in particular that has made a mixed impression.  It’s a very popular book for bereaved parents, but it left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.  I don’t disagree with any of the things the author says, but I don’t think he makes his points very convincingly.  I agree with him, but even I wasn’t convinced by most of his arguments.  It feels like a bunch of fluff.

What it boils down to, for me, is not answers.  Like I said in my last post, there are a lot of things I don’t understand.  I’ve come to believe that there are a lot of things that there just aren’t any answers for.  Most of the things that people are genuinely searching for answers for aren’t things that you can write about in a book that people will buy and read.  So, people write books of fluff.  Which infuriates me.

In general, there are two kinds of people who read “answer” books.  The first are people who want to find consolaton in hearing someone else tell them that what they want to believe is true.  For them, fluff is fine.  The other is people who are truly struggling, searching for answers, and wanting to know why.  For these people, fluff is NOT helpful.  Instead, it leaves them resentful and bitter, feeling like no one understands the depth of their pain.  And it does NOT point them in the right direction on the journey to intimacy with God.  What’s the point, then?  Making desperate people angry and bitter doesn’t help anyone, does it?

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t have any desire to comfort people with cliches and trite remarks.  I don’t want to tell people what they want to hear, and fluff is useless.  If I’m going to speak, I want my words to make a difference.  I want to speak truth, something that’s going to be helpful to the people who are really looking for help, not just the people who are looking for confirmation.  I don’t want to be someone who isn’t pointing anyone in the right direction on the journey to intimacy with God.

In Ephesians, Paul says that “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus, unto good works, which He hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”  Christ said “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in Heaven.”  If I’m not doing that, then I’m not doing what I was created for.  If I’m not pointing people in His direction, I’m wasting space.  What about you?