Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wounded Soldier

He lays on the ground, paralyzed by pain. He tries to rise, but is instantly grounded. The battle continues around him, yet he hears nothing. It hurts to breathe. It hurts to move. It hurts to feel anything other than the piercing stabs of his wounds.

A few weeks back I was reminded of a saying I once heard: "There are no sidelines on a battlefield." That image has always stuck in my head because I felt is was a perfect depiction of the spiritual war that goes on around us every day. I often forget how very REAL that is. Oh, it's clear what team I'm on. I will sport the Jesus jersey on my side of the field, paint some faces, even make up my own chants, but I would definitely say I've never been an aggressive warrior on that battlefield. In all honesty I'm probably more of the All-Star Cheerleader.....a part of the team, cheering them on, trying to make a sideline while I let to tough ones do the real fighting, only getting in the game when the ball is thrown my direction.

The only problem with that scenario.....you have to get in the battle sometime. It's true. There are NO sidelines. No one sits around in their camping chairs, eating the popcorn, socializing with the friends and family, taking score. Fighting is not optional.

I was talking to my husband about this the other night. I was telling him how I have felt like a wounded soldier on that battlefield for so many months now, letting the battle continue on around me. (And let's face it right....the world/battle does continue on. No one calls a "Game Off" just because you've fallen. That would be nice though, wouldn't it?) Being wounded....is not fun. Whether it is a minor scrape or one so deep you can still feel it long after it has healed, being wounded affects us. For so long I feel like I have focused on only the pain....until I decided to change my perspective. Maybe, just maybe, God let's us stay broken in ways we may not expect....like that of a shattered vessel....so that His light can beam through us.

"In life, falling is expected, but getting up is optional."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Laura Story

The other day I was driving in the car with the kids....excuse being to get lunch, reason being a needed sanity break. Sometimes it takes me getting out of the mess, the closed in walls, the constant destruction the new house takes daily, to catch my breath. So I drove, rolled the windows down, turned the music up, and let my soul breathe. As this particular song (which musically is not quite my taste) came on the radio, I began to reach down and change the station. Something, however, caught my attention.....I did that "thing" I do....and really started listening to the lyrics. That was all it took.

After getting home, eating lunch, and putting my two boys down, I decided to go to the computer to look up the song and really read the lyrics. Before I knew it, I was the only one awake, sitting infront of a computer screen, with tears rolling down my cheeks. Blessings by Laura Story. Laura Story. This song could not have been more "Laura's" story if I had written the words myself. Every line, every word, spoke directly into the place I seem to find myself so often in this season of my life.

Some days I have given all that is in me to give and yet life still demands more. Some days I feel defeated before my feet ever hit the floor. Some days.....I simply wake up and hit the automatic "survival mode" button that I truly believe is programmed into me somewhere.

But "what if?"

"What if?" Those words to me imply a sense of hope. It's not just saying that there will be rain, tears, sleepless nights, trials....it's saying "what if" God is there in the midst of them? "What if" there is a greater reason behind what only we can see?

What if your blessings come through raindrops
What if your healing comes through tears?
And what if a 1000 sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know you're near?
What if my greatest disappointments
or the aching of this life
is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can't satisfy?
And what if the trials of this life
Are your mercies in disguise?

"What if"......the trials of this life really are HIS mercies in disguise?

Monday, May 16, 2011

Grumbling

For several months I have been following the blog of a 33 year old mother of three (the third which is now in Heaven) who has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer. Her story is unbelievable....truly heartbreaking, yet her faith is amazing....intoxicating. I encourage you to read her story and follow her blog.

Her post today, however, is one that has left me in much reflection.
Sara brings up the subject of grumbling and wonders if God ever gets angry with all of our "grumbling?" She talks about how she grumbles a lot about how terrible she feels after chemo rather than simply being thankful that God has provided medicine to treat the disease. I think we would all agree that a little grumbling there should be considered ok, right? If you keep reading, however, Sara then reveals the true depths of her heart. As she reads about the Israelites hard journey to the promise land, she compares her grumbling to that of the people complaining over only having mana to eat verses meat. Grumbling over chemo verses grumbling for better food???
God was present, was providing for their daily needs, and yet they prayed for more, for better, for different.
Each time I read her blog I am taken back by not only her grasp of our God and all of His uniqueness, but also her complete humility.....that she dares to feel guilty for grumbling over the effects the chemo is having on her body when we (I) so often "grumble" over far more miniscule things.

This past weekend I was able to go to New York City. I walked the streets of Soho, admiring the endless boutiques, feeling a little too inadequate and a little too poor to go into the shops. In less than 3 weeks, I will be going to Haiti, a country where I will be viewed as rich beyond measure, surrounded by people who eat "mana" (so to speak) with every meal, where the word "boutique" has no meaning nor worth. I don't think it is by coincidence that God allowed both of these trips to fall so closely together. I was able to venture to a city that has everything....and soon will be going to a city that has nothing. I pray that as I travel my eyes are opened to the real need in this world, the real hardships that surround the daily lives of others, and to the blessings I so richly and undeservingly have. I pray this so that I can train my heart to one that no longer lives in GRUMBLING.....but in overflowing GRATITUDE.

And I pray for Sara....daily.....for strength, for healing, and for her continued example to others!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Everest

There is a Thanksgiving episode of Friends where Joey convinces Monica to make a turkey even though no one else is eating it that year. Joey swears that if she will cook it, he will eat the whole thing. You see a shot of Joey, looking stuffed, sitting behind a turkey that looks completely eaten...until he turns it around and reveals the other side had not been touched. His famous quote (at least in our household)....."You are my Everest."

While I have been able to jokingly use that line in many different circumstances, it proves itself most true when it comes to running. I am NOT a runner by nature. I can remember walking all of my miles in gym class with the teacher yelling for me to hurry up. I am admittedly not an athlete (I mean, come on, who has time for that? I was too busy being social!). And honestly, I just can't do it! I have never had the lungs, never had the strength, and piled behind all of those excuses, I have never had the desire.

In the past two years I have begun a slow path to running. See, when I run, I get horrible, overwhelming cramps that usually stop me dead in my tracks. I have heard all my life....push through, run through them, hold your arms up, eat more of this, etc, etc. More often than not, none of those things have been successful, and the only thing that helps is to completely stop, let it pass, and try to continue on. I remember the day I was able to run 1/2 a mile without stopping. I swear I think a little party went on in my head! Then I made it to a mile! One mile, something so small and miniscule to someone else was a great victory to me.....one that had never happened in 30 years.

So if I don't really desire to run, I'm not good at it, and let's face it....what's the point....a piece of bling at the end or pat on the back???....then why do I do it? Truthfully, I've run for many reasons: for sanity, needed Laura-time, to push away pain, to find common ground with others, to see people at my finish line. All of those reasons, however, just never seem to be enough. They allow me to get through whatever I'm needing, and then just like those reasons fade, so does that desire for running.

After a long battle with a thrown out back, a broken tailbone, and a 4 month case of strep throat, I am ready to try again with a different attitude. God says, "Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10) Sure, he may be referring to our possessions but I choose to see a deeper meaning behind it. God tells us that whatever we give of ourselves, whatever we bring to the table, whatever blessings we possess.....test him....give it to Him....and see if he doesn't provide it back to you tenfold. Running is not my "test" to God, but rather my obedience to Him. I am trying daily to be obedient in running, patient as I wait to see what all He can do within me, and faithful by believing that He will....not because He has to, but because I have asked Him to. I know that just like life, running on my own will only get me so far....it HAS only gotten me so far. Wherever I go from here is because HE (NOT MYSELF) is allowing me to flourish. "Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established. The mind of a man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps." (Prov. 16: 3, 9)

Running....is MY EVEREST!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Goodbyes

For as long as I can remember, I have never been "good" with goodbyes, and anyone that knows me well can completely agree to that statement. Maybe it is change that I'm really not good at, because after all, a goodbye guarantees change. Maybe it is that my natural tendency is too reflect on the loss rather than gratitude for the time given. But the truth of it is that I just have a very tender heart. I'm probably not the easiest person to get to know, maybe even love (yikes, I'm going to hope that isn't true). While I am very outgoing and can pretty much talk to anyone, it takes a lot for me to open up the door of who I am in complete transparency.......knowing everything about me. And honestly, there are very few people that have come into my life who have reflected that depth of relationship with me. So when they are gone, for whatever reason, my heart grieves probably more than it should. My best friend Jessie moved back to Maryland almost 7 years ago and I still hurt (out of joy and sadness) when I drive by our old stomping grounds. I miss her so much because I know that if she were here, we'd spend every day together....throwing our kids in a van running errands, having a glass of wine at the end of it because we're exhausted, probably even teaching together. She took a piece of my heart, and I still feel that void with her being so far away! That's just ONE of the many examples of a goodbye that still affects me. It's not as much the people that are the loss, but the impact they have on my life. When they are gone, a piece of me goes with them.

I spent a lot of time this weekend reflecting on "goodbye" and trying to find peace, thankfulness, and even grace for the moments that have been difficult. Whether goodbyes come easy to me or not, I know it's all a part of our journey, what makes us us, what shapes our lives. And even though "I KNOW" all that, I still think Jim Halpert says it best.....

"Sometimes.....Goodbyes are a B*T@H!"