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Thursday, September 29, 2011

What a Difference a Year Makes

I was standing behind my almost 5 year old daughter this morning, brushing her fine static-y hair, and looked up to glance in the mirror at us. There she was, this glowing shining picture of youthful beauty, and I looked . . . well, tired. Tired, and yet still beautiful. I didn’t condemn myself for looking my age; rather I saw it for what it was. The years have aged me. I am soon to be 32. 32 doesn’t seem so old to some I suppose, depending on where you are standing in this long line of numbers, but because of the last year of my life that 32 seems daunting.

When I was 31 I gave birth to my second child. When I was 31 my husband tragically died in my arms to pneumonia. When I was 31 I had to put a house on the market, in this economy, and sell it. When I was 31 I had to move to a new home. When I was 31I became a single mom.

Maybe I should be ready for 32. Maybe I should be excited. Instead of being ready or excited I’ve found my go to emotion lately is fear. This part of my internal struggle is my doubt in God, and I’m choosing to share it with you. Please . . . handle with care.

My twenties were traumatic; most of those even closest to me do not know the terrors that lay within those years. Most of those traumas were self-inflicted, at least to a point. And I had God through these years. Jesus was there, weeping with me, begging me to take a chance and step out towards Him. It took a while, but I finally did. I am now beginning to scratch the surface of healing those wounds internally through therapy, and I would not wish this on anyone. Reliving those traumas in order to understand the reality of what I did does not define my worth is the most petrifying and painful mental battle I have ever had to endure. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. I pray it will be worth it.

So . . . my twenties sucked, and when I turned thirty I had built a stronger relationship with God, one in which I trusted in Him. A relationship that meant turning to him for answers, and following those answers. I was excited to turn thirty; I was excited to see what He had in store. And then 30 happened, which looked different that 31, but it was also filled with pain, anguish, trauma, change, and anger. Then there was 31.

And now? 32.

I find myself driving in my car promising God I will endure anything for Him. I cry over my steering wheel, voice shaking, as I plead with him for mercy on my life. I fear God now more than I ever have before. His provisions have proven nothing short than miracles. He provides for us, and He loves us – there is no question there. And refinement through suffering is the most sure way to becoming more Christ-like, which is my ultimate desire. But I am tired. I am scared of what is next - not hopeless that he doesn’t have plans for me - but scared of the suffering that will go along with that. There will always be hard times, I know this. And I am still young, I know that as well. But, God, I just would like a little breather; a couple years to enjoy my kids, learn about you, grow in Christ, to reflect, to gain confidence . . . . to heal.

The most I can do in this season of life is rest in Hebrews 12:7. It will be painful, and I must submit. I must remember this is love for me. I can rest assured this endurance will produce in me what His will desires. And I can pray for my peaceful harvest to come soon.

“As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?

For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”

Thursday, September 22, 2011

I Am Convinced

It’s been almost a month since I’ve written a word. Nothing seems to go the way I think it will go; so it seems the smart thing to do would be to stop worrying about the way it will go. To place myself directly into the faithful hands I claim to stand upon, relax, and enjoy the world around me. So easy to type; not so easy to live.

Mostly, I’m busy. Mostly, I’m tired.

I’m also surrounded, overwhelmed, excited, confused, happy, and frustrated.

Surrounded by those who love me . . . my children, my parents, my friends, my church, Brad, and so many more. Overwhelmed by the to-do list, that didn’t even exist in life prior to Matt’s death, now haunting my desk with an endless array of menial tasks. Excited that I have decided to start school again; this time to finish with a degree. Confused, even still, as to how I got where I am, why it was my life it happened to, and what this means for where I am going. Happy the children and I are healthy and getting settled in our new home. Frustrated by, well, aren’t we all frustrated some of the time?

I’ve been listening to Romans 8 lately. Intently. Patiently. Waiting on it to explode in my soul. There are a million treasures God has stored amidst these 948 words. There are words like flesh, Spirit, God, suffering, heaven, hell, angels, and demons. These words are moving. They are exciting. They remind me that God is hyper-present in our lives. Not just for a widowed mom of two, but for all of us. We are all suffering with Christ, but the reward of that suffering is great, and not the reward we catch ourselves waiting on promised after this life. I'm talking about the reward we are living right now.

Romans 8 tells a story about a God who loves us. Who loves us so much he not only let us have His Son, but allowed us to crucify that Son for our own sake.

And after all that . . . after love . . . and sacrifice . . . . and death . . . and resurrection -- there was Sprit. Spirit left behind to live in us, to be in our flesh.

His Spirit . . . In our flesh. In our bones. In our blood.

The flesh that succumbs to the world. The bones that rattle in frustration over things far too small for such anger. In the blood that boils when we have to wait for things we want now. He is there. He is the one that goes before us and reminds us that we no longer our bound by the laws of this world, and so he will see to it we no longer succumb. He is the one that moves us away from frustration and into action for those who can not act on their own. He is the blood that warms us to the social injustices of those who can not afford healthcare, those who need food, and those who need clothes.

It is that moving, that warming, we should follow. When we follow Him who was sent to go before us we are living the reward now. We will find peace and grace and joy. You have the capability to make a difference. Ask for it. Look for it. And act on it.