Tuesday, February 21, 2017

On Finding Joy When Your Heart is Broken

Sometimes when I think, it becomes lyrical, almost like a musical undertone, the emotion of the words playing along and carrying it all together in the symphony of my thoughts, my life... I'm not a musician, I'm a writer... But if these words and thoughts of mine were to music right now, it would be soft piano, strains of violin, soft and so quiet that at times it's barely heard and then swelling into the faithfulness of God with notes of heartbreak and redemption coming together into the kind of music that shakes your soul and brings you to tears... I don't know if you can hear it too. But that's what I hear as I write this...

And as my heart continues to beat in it's very broken and devastated place right now, I feel the pieces held together by my loving and faithful God. The refiner's fire doesn't destroy, it strengthens. And I know my God to be who He says He is, even when things don't feel right or happy... When the pain is so deep it feels hard to breathe... He is joy, He is love, He is good, He is truth, He is hope. He is faithful. He is the light. The only light sometimes. And when I feel like I don't know if I'll be ok again, when a smile feels fake, when people casually ask how I am and I'm not sure how to answer.... I know that He is still the author of joy. And actually, it's ok to smile in the midst of heartbreak. To laugh even. That amidst the deep pain there are still pieces of joy, of happiness, of life still going on. Of the innocence of my children. Of the love of my husband. Of the goodness of God. And I can grab hold of those. They are tiny pearls of beauty, of light, of joy... and as each tiny pearl sits softly in my hand, it's up to me what to do with it. I don't need to rush it. I can let it roll gently back and forth there in my palm... I can sit there a little while and soak it in. And I can softly string those tiny pearls of joy together into a strand.... a string of God's faithfulness. A necklace of God's goodness in the midst of pain. Reminders that joy surely does come in the morning. And I can clasp that beautiful reminder gently around my neck, and press it to my heart even as the tears fall... And I can hold fast to God's promises and His steadfast character. That He brings beauty from ashes. And even though it doesn't feel like it, someday I'll be okay again. And I can find joy even when my heart is broken.

If you're not sure if you'll be ok either, go listen to this:
You're Gonna Be Okay

Friday, February 17, 2017

Looking in a Mirror

James 1: 23-24 

"Anyone who listens to the Word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at His face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what He looks like." 

As always there are about a million things I want to write about. But after logging onto my blog for the first time in awhile and re-reading my last post I thought it was appropriate to start with this. In my last post I was in a place of searching... I wanted to know how to help others and still take care of the people God has given me in my family without letting myself fall by the wayside either. I was looking into God's Word, begging to hear His voice, and looking into a mirror at myself, if you will.. Searching through my fears and motivations and what healthy boundaries looked like and asking Him to show me who He has called me to be. Well God answered me, and it was crystal clear and revolutionary to the way I think. And as usual, His answer was so, so simple. 

Basically, Shaun had pneumonia from mid October through November and then the post-pneumonia  recovery was very difficult as well. I felt run-down and exhausted (although that season compared to where I'm at now was actually mild looking back). But in the midst of trying to parent alone and take care of Shaun and keep up on all our responsibilities by myself I was asking God if I was still supposed to try to take care of other people too. At the time our neighbors had their electricity shut off for not paying the bill. They were into some rough stuff, but there were two little girls living there as well and it was freezing cold outside and I felt like God asked me to take them a hot meal. I was mad at first. I thought, "God! I could use some help here myself!! I feel like I'm drowning and can hardly keep up with my own life, let alone help take care of them right now... " But I knew what He was asking me to do and I knew I would ultimately miss out if I didn't respond to it. So I went and rang the neighbors doorbell and asked if I could bring them dinner the next night. He was so appreciative and said that would be great. So I went to bed that night planning to make a big pot of chicken and dumplings to take them some hot food the next day. When I woke up the next morning I had a text from a friend I wasn't expecting at all. She said "Hey don't make dinner today! I'll be dropping some off by 5:30!" I literally felt the tears come into my eyes immediately. That evening I was ringing the doorbell and taking a container of hot soup to our neighbors just as my friend pulled into our driveway with a dinner of roasted chicken and veggies and salad and dessert for us. I cried as she carried it into our kitchen and put it on my counter. It was far more than I had even given to our neighbors.
And this is what God said to me: 
"You take care of the people I ask you to take care of, and I will take care of you. 

So simple. So pure. So uncomplicated. I don't need to take care of the whole world. I don't need to feel guilt or shame because I can't rescue every hurting person. But what I can do is help the person who God places right in front of me and asks me to care for. Because He won't overload me. His burden is light and His yoke is easy. He calls us to rest, afterall... So when I am faithful to what He has called me to do, He will not leave me spent and exhausted and without care for myself. He will send someone to care for me when I need it, too. And I can trust Him with that, even when I don't see how it will work out right away. 
What would this world look like if we all just helped the one person in front of us we knew we were supposed to help?