Just a glimpse of me...

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Do you ever feel STUCK? In 2000, I began looking for answers to some tough questions in my life. I'd searched high & low and finally conceded to search the promises found in the Bible. Those promises have sustained & guided me through the loss of a parent, the struggle with anxiety & depression, the loss of a valued relationship and so much more! I've found joy amid the pain. And, I want to share it with you!

30 March 2012

Another's Treasure

5:47am seems like a good time to begin a blog post after having spent 20 minutes out in the cold rain BEHIND the porch swing on the patio rescuing plants... not my own plants... but someone else's plants... someone who's not around to help. 

What's that scripture?  "Greater love has no MOM than to climb behind a porch swing in the 40 degree rain to rescue potted plants of a loved one nowhere to be found..." 

I admit, I really love plants.  However, I'm not a fan of giving them extra-special care.  I don't DO "high maintenance potted plants."  I do the kind that can either survive outside pretty much on their own or the kind that you can water once or twice a week & throw some extra fertilizer in twice a year. I love fresh garden vegetables but, I loathe gardening. When God provided me with 3 "volunteer" tomato plants (coming up on their own each summer) at our country home, I was thrilled.  That's about the extent of my "gardening". 

I tried to ignore the little voice inside me that in the darkness of the early morning said: "That cold soft rain is going to wash those new plants right out of their new homes."  I tried to forget the words of the one who planted them: "Those pieces of pottery don't have holes in the bottom. So we'll have to spray them with water - not pour water in them."  But alas, at 5:15am my heart couldn't stop hearing the words of the one I love.  And, at 5:16am, I donned a pair of sweats & a rain jacket to climb behind the porch swing in the far corner of the patio and crouch down to rescue another's treasure...

What kind of sacrifice was it really... in light of the words spoken by Jesus in John 15:12 (NKJV)  - those were words of TRUE love... "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." That is REAL love - much more than just getting wet in a cool rain & to return to the comfort of a a warm home and write about the harrowing experience.

He told us how to love... "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." 

And, He let us know what we would experience when we unselfishly gave love... "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."   

I'm cold, I'm wet... but, I am full of joy.  

24 March 2012

And I sat... and wept...

Today, I wept as I read words that "I" had written in an older post -- when I had opened my heart for all to see. That blog post exposes so much raw emotion within me. Will it touch someone else's soul?  Will the words I wrote open and begin to clean wounds in preparation for healing in another?  I don't know. I can only write from the heart. 

The intensity of emotion shook me... and, through the tears, I posted the following: 
"For those of you who write... or blog... are there things you've written that bring tears to your eyes? What joy to feel so deeply."  
Within moments one of my followers responded with:
"The blog I wrote last night brought tears to my eyes, but it wasn't joy."
My immediate response:
"I'll say this before i read your post... the fact that we can FEEL deeply... isn't that, in a way, JOY?"
With rain comes the rainbow.With tears come the promises.
It's said that one of the hardest things in life is "not knowing".  Well, I'd like to submit "not feeling" to the list.  There've been times in my life when I have not "felt" - insulating myself in a cocoon to protect me from the "real" of life. And, in those times, I've felt anything but alive. Feeling the pain allows me to know that I am alive - a living being, dealing with whatever life throws in my path. And, choosing JOY in those times makes all the difference.  Nothing will come my way that I cannot handle. But, I don't handle it on my own.  The only way that I'm able to handle anything is through my relationship with God, the Father; Jesus, His Son; and the Holy Spirit. I believe promises... and claim them... even when I don't feel it...

"The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy.
I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing." 

There's so much pain in the story of the untimely death of Trayvon Martin.  There are so many unanswered questions.
How do we deal with it? 
We feel!
Please read the blog which was shared with me by Beyond Normal Limits - Raising Boys In A Dangerous World  She felt the pain & she responded.

Dear God,
Thank you for feeling -- both the good & the bad.
Let me continue to look for Your promises with expectation.
Awake my feelings.
Bring reassurance & joy in the midst of pain. 

"I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth." Genesis 9:13 NLT

23 March 2012

Unfinished Business/Letting Go

From the very beginning, I've been drawn to water... to the sea... to a babbling brook in the Carolina mountains... to the Great Lakes...  

With family visits to the ocean or our dilapidated family cabin on a small Indiana lake or to the massive Great Lakes, my love for the water deepened.  In the waters I sat by, I sensed the awe-inspiring presence of the Creator of the Universe. In the early years I rode my father's shoulders down Sleeping Bear Dunes State Park wondering if there was an end to that huge Great Lake ahead of us. In elementary years I hiked along brooks & streams in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. I visited the Outer Banks of North Carolina only a few hours away from my mountain home - hearing the whale cry in the night hours as we camped on the beach & visiting lighthouses dreaming of pirates gold.

We were collectors in those days -- grabbing up bits of driftwood left behind, shells abandoned by sea creatures, broken shells, pieces of glass worn smooth by the ocean's tide.  Each trip resulted in a cache of treasure for my collection at home.  My mom's plant beds became the home of sand & shells that could no longer be held inside.  Large pieces of driftwood decorated our walkways and garden paths.  What I couldn't seem to part with though was the sea glass. It was my most treasured find when we visited the shore.  Small bottles of collected sea glass decorated my nightstand, window sills & shelves.  They spilled into the bathroom counters & window sills in the kitchen. 

My life has taken me away from the sea - to cornfields & cow pastures & the whistling of the wind in the old shag bark hickory tree outside my home. I miss the sea. I need the sea. And today, I walked beside the sea greeting the rising sun when a glimmer caught my eye. My heart leapt - filled with that joy I'd felt as a little girl when I spotted a piece of sea glass.   And seeing the reflection of that sea glass delivered by the tide brought me back to the complete joy of a 6 year old. I bent down & picked it up. I was holding a piece of the sea.

Turning it over & over in my hand, I noticed it was too smooth & shiny and that there were some sharp edges. Only a part of it had been polished by the sand & surf - but, not enough to make it "done". The thought of dropping it back into the sea made my hand grasp it more tightly. This was the only piece I'd found in my brief visit to the sea. And, this was my last day to walk the shore. Again, I looked at it, knowing that it was unfinished.  But, I just couldn't let go.  A third time, my mind cried out the truth - it would never be finished if I didn't let it go.  My hand opened & the glass washed back into the sea. It needed more abrasion from the sand & surf to soften the sharp edges - to frost the outer appearance - to allow it to become the best it could be. Only when I let go, did I feel peace.  Holding on to things (and people) too tightly and protecting them from the friction of sand & surf (life) - prevents them from being "finished".  Only in the letting go, can we allow God to finish & perfect. 
"Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places made smooth... "  Isaiah 40:4

(written 16March2012)

22 March 2012

Life in a Puddle

Today I am beyond... beyond, beyond.  It's one of those days where the struggle has devoured so much of my strength that I lie in a puddle at the feet of the One who created all life. The One who gives the strength we need for the day, a peace that passes all understanding & unconditional love beyond measure. I lie there lifeless & still with eyes wide opened awaiting the miracle. It's one of those days when I'm so worn out from the struggle that I just moan & let the Holy Spirit put words to my sounds for the Father - who hears all, knows all, understands all. Today I question the words I felt led to pray a few weeks ago on a very similar day. Yet, I mouth those words in obedience.

It's always perspective...
sometimes the smoke get in the way!
I blindly, yet boldly, claim the "miracle" to come of this rubble. It's more of an obedience to what I know & believe than a response to how I feel. Isn't that what we're asked to do as Christ followers? Haven't we seen it over & over again in the "rear view mirror" of our lives?  The burning rubble makes way for new growth.  The burning rubble warns others of what could be. The burning rubble creates a cloud blocking the light of the sun -- the light of the Son.  But, the Son is ever present amidst the burning rubble.

In expecting a miracle from this mess, there's a moment of peace from the struggle.  There's a soft breeze of fresh air. There's a flicker of hope. There's a hint of a better day to come. There's a reminder that all my planning, fretting, questioning -- will add nothing to what God is working on behind the scenes.

So, I lie here in a puddle at the feet of the One who wastes nothing of life's experiences but, makes all things new.  If you have to lie somewhere - in a puddle - I can't think of a better place.

"... the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don't know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words." Romans 8:26