Monthly Archives: January 2016

Take Heart!

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” {John 16:33}

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His Heart.

As a parent, I’ve realized that I can’t keep my kids from getting hurt.  Sixth grade has had some rocky moments for my girl.  Her friends running from her.  That moment she realizes it’s her they are running from.  That moment she replays what happens to me and I well up big alligator tears for her.  As a parent, you want to protect your babies. But, at the end of the day, it’s not my fault she’s been hurt.

It is, however, my response, as a mom, to love and comfort and hold my daughter close and make sure that home is the best, softest place it can be for her.  Last week, my daughter, this week, my mother.

It is my response, as a daughter, to make my mom’s life as easy as I can, with what I have right now.  It is God’s response, as a Father, to send His people reaching out to hold, love, comfort, and soften the sharp edges of the world for my mama.   It is not God’s fault my mom has cancer.

Cancer.

Tumors vivid on the MRI.  First, just four, but then more, and a few more. And, something that looks like “rind” on the liver.  Bad cancer.  Between the chest wall and her liver, very difficult to remove.  Even if we do surgery, chemotherapy, the doctor assures us, repeatedly, the cancer is coming back.  “The cancer is not going to stop.  We will never get rid of the cancer.  By ‘rid’ I mean, “cure.””  Over and over.

God might take my mama home to heaven this time.  It is sad.  And, I am selfish.  And, I want more time.  I want her to have a good life before she goes, because surely, this can’t be it.  I haven’t given her everything I want to give her yet.  What about the girls?  Will Tripp remember her now?  Will D’Ann be okay?  Surely, I can’t do this without my mom.  My brain can’t process this.  I pray and I sleep and wake up too early.

New peace from the Spirit.  Jesus doesn’t ask me to understand it.  He’d actually cry with me if he were here (John 11:35).  But, scripture says, “TAKE HEART!”  Heart.  His heart.  Can I trust this guy?  Do I?  I want to.  I cannot trust a lot in this world.  But, if I choose to believe the scriptures, I must also trust His heart.  I must believe that despite the pain, despite the struggle, despite the trouble, I can hold on and lean into Him, taking in the full measure of the love that is in His heart.

God is too wise to be mistaken
God is too good to be unkind
So when you don’t understand
When don’t see His plan
When you can’t trace His hand
Trust His Heart.

 

 

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From One Mistake Maker to Another

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As I was thinking on scripture this morning, captivated by Jesus’ grace in Peter, my mind traveled here and there.  Peter had denied Jesus three times during Jesus’ arrest and Jesus came back with pure grace.  He had told Peter it would happen before it all happened, you know how it went, ‘before the rooster crowed…’  Despite the warning, here it is, Peter’s epic failure captivated in black and white for all mankind.

White.  That is the color of our little Idaho town right now. “Frozen White Weiser” should be a paint color at the hardware store.  I went to start the old suburban the other morning before work, early.   There was a hazy “it is well below the standard of hot Dana enjoys” sense to the fog above me.  My mind really went nuts.  What temperature is it?  How do I find that weather app on my phone?  Where is my phone?  Does anything really matter below 10 degrees?  Like, when it gets to the point that my snot flash freezes, does it really matter if it is 3 degrees or 4 degrees?  Does something in nature thrive at 6 degrees that cannot make it at 5?  Things like this danced in my mind and I shifted back to real life.

There are hard numbers to look at at the flower shop that morning.  End of the year, taking it all in.  Big sighs.  Trying to figure out strategy, marketing, finances.  Which portion of which bill do you pay?  What can wait?  It’s hard to believe you’ve done something right when you’re saturated in this mess.

Saturated.  That was my word this last year. I made this deliberate attempt to saturate myself with Jesus.  A little over a year ago, I made Bible study, Sunday school, Bible reading at home, and my ministries a priority.  I often chose them over and before and through work.  When it came time to layoff dear friends, and my work load went up and up, I stayed obedient to this process of saturation.

I am somewhat saturated.  I am also tired.

I let out a laugh as I think about my end of the year ministry gig.  The last event of the year and four other women and my husband show up.  Thank you, Toby.  Lord, why didn’t they come?  What did I do wrong?  What does this even mean?

Stupid numbers. Lots of prayers:  Lord, let me hear YOUR voice.  Show me what to do, God.  I don’t know what to do.  Please, fix this mess.  Help me fix this mess.  Am I even doing what I am supposed to be doing?  Why am I doing it?  Is it for me or You?  Where do I spend my time this next year?  Please, reveal to me how to get through all of this – the flower shop, women’s ministry, youth group, on top of the pain, fatigue, and everyday stress of raising a family.  I’m feeling like I’ve screwed up.  Help.  Me. God.

I cannot imagine how much guilt and shame Peter felt when he screwed up.  And, he just didn’t screw up paperwork or a flower shop, either.  He denied the Messiah!  Yet, Jesus came back to Peter and just as Peter rejected knowing Jesus three times, Jesus restored Peter three times.  I think it’s at the end of John.  I’m remembering past lessons, the play at church over Easter.  Reading in Acts right now.  Reading how Peter’s restoration was critical to the beginning of the early church and if Peter had chosen to believe in his mistakes, instead of in the redemption of Jesus…  God, He’d be fine.  But, Peter, what would have come of him?

My mind connects the dots.  I see what you’re doing here, God, very clever.  If I choose to believe in the past, instead of in the redeeming blood of Christ Jesus, I’m going to withdraw in defeat.  Humility, pain, suffering.  A cold, dark place.  Cold.  The illustrations He uses around me make me grin.  Does one degree matter?  Yes.  One soul matters.  Jesus would have done everything all over again just for Peter.  Just for one mistake maker.

I pray deeper.

The storm of ideas keep rolling into my mind as the Holy Spirit falls fresh on me.  At five degrees, though it be cold, you see each other closely, intimately.  You have something so very special at five degrees that you can’t have at 50.  You see each other and Him anew.  You see what you need to see, instead of what you hope to see.  And, it is good and perfect and pleasing.  You realize you had it all wrong and you see Him fresh and His grace pours out and you realize that you can keep going.  Because, if He did it for Peter, He could do it for you, too.

There is reason for this cold season.  It is only when it is cold that we can remember how good it feels to be in His warmth.  It is only through these cold experiences that I can explore my heart and bring dreams brand new because I know I can have right-hearted hope again.  God will lead me to my place in His plan if I continue to be obedient to Him.  The past is not my future.  Like a blanket of fresh, intricately made snowflakes, God wipes our hearts clean and brings us visions brand new.  His design is greater than anything I could comprehend.

His grace really is sufficient.

Lord, thank you for sustaining me through this season.  Thank you for the hope of warmer times ahead.  Amen.