Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Worthy

Her aunt looked at her in exasperation and said,

“Don't you know you are worth so much more than to be treated like that? You deserve someone who loves you.”

In her brokenhearted state the words filtered in slowly. She lifted her gaze and through the tears she replied,
“Do you really think so? Do you really think I am?”

The older woman shook her head, incredulous at such a reply.

“Yes, I do. I really do.” Her voice firm and resolute, trying desperately to convince this beautiful young woman, young mother, that she was a person of value - a life worth saving, worth treasuring and cherishing.


When I heard that story it shook me. In my cocoon of Jesus and Church and Words of Comfort I was jolted into reality by this young woman's cry for assurance. Do they really feel that way?  I assumed only a few did. I was wrong. How can a girl know her priceless worth? How can a woman be confident in herself and her place in this world? It seems overwhelming. How to begin?

Begin at the beginning.

God created.

I opened my Bible. His Word plainly says,
For You created my inmost being;
You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139: 13-14 NIV

As I read these verses I felt them saying to her,

He made you - sweet girl, young mama - He made you just like the precious little ones that grew under your own heart. They were made of what you thought was love between you and their dad. Just like them, God made you. They were no accident and you are no accident. No chance “hook up” made you or them. There really is no “chance”. God is the Giver of Life. People have sex all the time and do not conceive a child: every life is planned by God.

You are no mere happenstance, you were planned and wanted by your Father God.

Look at those words of His again,
You created me...I am wonderfully made...Your works are wonderful.

Wonderfully Made.
Full of wonder.
Unexplained joy.

We love wonderful. It is a word that says this thing is superior and great. But the Hebrew (the language of the Jews and the first writings of the Bible) here shines a little more light on this word, it says to be wonderful is to be set apart. I am wonderful because I am set apart, distinct from all others. God has created me for a distinct life; I am set apart for a specific plan and His plan is wonderful.

Do you see what value there is when someone is set apart? They are not interchangeable with another. If someone discards you in a relationship; a parent abandons you, or a lover dismisses you they are saying you are not special enough to be of value to them.
They are showing you that you are replaceable.

You are not unique, treasured or wanted.

The beautiful thing is that God has a Word that is more powerful than theirs. He has actions that outweigh the hurt of any human relationship. His words can heal every single rejection and pain.

If you believe Him.

God says,
You are Wonderful in My Eyes.
Set apart from all others.

Your Heavenly Father loves you in a deeply personal way because you are irreplaceable to Him. There is no one else He would rather have. No one else to be His daughter, His own. He wants no one else to live your life, to love your family, to learn and grow in your purpose.

You are worthy because you are you.
Think about that one long and hard. And let it push out the words of rejection that have labeled you for so long.


The next part says His works are wonderfully made. But the Living Bible says it a little differently:

Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it.
Psalm 139:14 NLT

On further study that word conveys the meaning that you are something that was made in a way that was:
difficult to do,
extraordinary,
beyond one's own power to do.

So when the doubts about your own worth creep in and you feel as if you failed God over and over you can remember that your failings in no way cancel out His view of you as marvelous because HE makes you so.
 It is beyond your own power to be marvelous.
 It is when you rely on Him that you are something to marvel over, something extraordinary. And the cherry on top is that He calls you marvelous before you really are. He called you extraordinary when you were growing in your mother's womb. Before you could do or be anything to anyone
you
were
marvelous.

What would I say if I could to that tender girl, so vulnerable in a life where she has never rested securely in her worth? That beautiful young woman who craves love so much she's willing to lay down her own needs to gain a counterfeit love to fill her emptiness. That precious Daughter of the King who is lost in a culture that tells her the only way to be respected is to fight everyone who tries to love her purely and selflessly. She believes she is of worth only for her pretty face and her body. She is a trophy to be held overhead and put on a shelf when the next one is brought home in her place.

I would say, Daughter, there is more.

Hidden in the soft places of your heart you know this to be true: there is a Father who has stored up for you all the love you will ever need. There is nothing you need give in exchange for it, except your faith and trust in Him who made you.
And He will bind your wounds,
bring healing to your soul.

Simply surrender to the one who is the lover of your soul,
the anchor in your storm,
 the Protector of your heart.

And you will know your worth.  

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Lost and Found

I am back.
Returned.

I want to whoop and sigh and dance and weep. I have been through a Valley. With a capital V. It has honestly felt like a journey of Tolkian ilk; certainly not a vacation. Not a respite but a workout of body mind and spirit.

And it has taken years.
Years of screaming in the darkness,
I. Still. Need. You. God.
Dont leave me, here. Alone

A long time ago when the heaviness was just beginning I was walking down a isolated lane. Surrounded by green trembling leaves and arched cathedral trees. When gently but sorrowfully a Voice said,
It is going to get worse before it gets better.

What?
What does that mean? I am daily seeking your Face, Lord, daily asking for intervention and your mercy. I feel the darkness coming. I need assurance and love.
I need you to Fix. This.
I cant take much more. And all you can say is buckle up, buttercup?
I was petrified.
And boy did it get worse.

The attack began on what I could see and touch. I came a hair's breadth away from loosing all my material things; house, car, income. My lifestyle of staying home, volunteering at church, homeschooling my kids, chauffeuring them around was very likely going to crumble to pieces.
I was beyond terrified and I clung to God.

No. That's a lie. I really began to walk away from Him.

Not that anyone would have been able to see it. I still was very active in church. I still prayed with my children and diligently taught them God's Word. I still worshiped and went on retreats. But in my spirit I was mad and hurt.
God did get my family out of a pickle. But it was not a long term fix. I knew that in my core; that there was a malignancy that was hiding away just under the surface. I was able to keep my house and the income did rebound. For a while I was able to stay home with my kids.
Itt slowly began to unravel again.
And my anger and bitterness prospered more than anything else.
It was righteous anger in my mind. I had been wronged and hurt by those I loved and trusted the most. I was justified in my cancerous thoughts and flailing rage.
To those who knew me then, you might be surprised. Maybe you wont be. I thought I hid it very well. I hid it from my self quite successfully. I was the victim, hurt by family friends and God. And I could easily show you with Scripture how I was right and they were wrong.

Then it all really went crazy.
This time the attack wasn't on my finances, my house, my car, my lifestyle. It was an outright personal attack against me, my husband, my children. When I say attack I don't mean like an eagle seizing a trout. I mean like a terrorist flying a plane into my soul.
Suddenly I was alone. Just me and the Lord. My husband was slipping away. My family thinning and weak. And I knew what I had to do this time. I jumped into God like a swimmer leaping from a burning boat into the ocean. I served Him with my whole heart. Bitterness was gone. Anger was gone. I abandoned everything to follow where He would lead. I wanted only God's healing, I would obey whatever He said.
Then it got better.

No. Then it got worse.
My husband was completely gone and life as I knew it was never going to be the same again.
The ocean I had plunged into had become a crashing sea of boiling waves. I was very certainly going to go down and not make it up again. My whole adult life was dedicated to being a Christian, a Wife and a Mother. And now that reality had disappeared in a vapor, my core identity was being blown to pieces. So in this tumultuous sea of turmoil I did what any child of God would do. I began to learn how to turn over on my back and float. I saw what it was like to realize how to give up the struggle. I had spent the last year repairing my heart before the Lord and I was ready to turn it all over to Him. At the absolute critical moment.
Don't be fooled. That choice to float rather than struggle was a minute by minute struggle to keep going. A whole year of repair work. A year of reconstructive surgeries. Graft after graft. Stitch after stitch.

New life began to open up. But anyone who knows anything about recovery knows every single hiccup can put you right back in the ER. My husband, in humility before the Lord, took my hand and we began to see what God had in mind all along. We tried to pick up every piece that the tornado had scattered. But you cant pick up every one and somethings just cant be glued back together. A new thing had to begin.
But I wasn't me.
I had lost myself in the chaos. I had entered this millennium as a mother of a preschooler and a two rapidly growing boys. A SAHM who was more often than not in church. I was now an empty nester who needed to find a job. I had no idea who I was. I tried to find the edge pieces. You know, the beginning pieces to the 5,000 piece puzzle. The flat edges of Truth. The Corners of God, Faith, Trust, Peace.

Just when I had begun to punch the destination in the GPS that would lead me to my new career, my mother fell ill. Just three months after my dad had died my mom went for surgery and never left the hospital.
That is a journey I am still processing a year later.

But today.
Today, I went for a long walk. I saw brilliant May skies and liquid lavender wild flowers. I wanted to speak kindly. I was excited to hear from Jesus and to follow His next adventure. I thought with schoolgirl love of my husband at work. I opened my hand and cast my grown children to God's care. I felt purposeful. And maybe even happy. Certainly peaceful and suddenly, there I was.

I was back. The vulnerable girl of 8
the gawky 18
the unteachable 25
the tender 33
the chaotic angry 48
suddenly all merged into me again.
I am back. Whole. And I'm finally able to live again.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Damascus


The sun crushes my vision. I duck my head and squint, Saul like, and grimace at the irony of my prayer, 
Speak Lord. 
My heart snatches back at the prayer. Perhaps too reckless, too bold. But as I keep moving down the city street, obediently, mechanically walking to the hospital I know I need- beyond the word itself- beyond any previous meaning of need that I have ever known- I need to hear from Him.

Inside the giant bully of a building a small frail 72 year old woman helplessly waits. Unable to speak for the trach in her neck, unable to lift depleted limbs, unable to calm a fluttering heart, at the mercy of man, medicine, and my signatures of consent- she waits.

So I need answers.
The Mind of God. All knowing- past yesterday and beyond tomorrow.
Answers to the implications of an unknown future. Answers that die in certainty and do not live in my doubts, my dreams, my daytime business. When only one name fits on the line to sign away misgivings it is a very lonely thing. Even consulting doesn't add another place for a signature on a surgical consent, blood consent, procedure consent... Life and death by my name like the Queen of Hearts.

And the weariness. I know I must exude weariness like a perfume cloud. I am so saturated with it- it must leak out of me, through my porous bones into my thinning skin. I cover it with oils that mean to revive and calm but I know; I reek of tired.

My mind snatches at words, trying to hold the clarity and purpose of
Vasopressor, Dialysis, Tube-feeds, Epinephrine, PEEPS, Atrial Fibrillation,
Med Line, Tidal Volumes, TPN, A Lines, OT, PT, Creatinine, Transfusion,
Palliative Care,
DNR.
I must know them all. And know what to say when the doctor's monologue ends with the inevitable...

“Do you have any questions?”

Questions?
My, oh, my do I have questions.
Questions that would make you back away from the sheer raw pain.
Why is first.
Why?
It is a rare complication. Why her? Why now? Why are you so kind, Doctor, and so compassionate, so smart, so able to save and heal others but not my mother?
Why.

and How.
How do we know this is what “Needs to be done” ? How can she ever get out of this hospital that has held her here these 4 months? How does she who has been silent for 17 weeks speak again? How do I see beyond this bed that has become her ship in stormy seas. How do I remember health? How do I keep on making pictures of recovery and normal everyday life to distract her vision away from the endless tubes and needles?
How.

When will hope return?
Who will she be when we reach the end. A sinner saved by grace- welcomed in peace and freedom from pain. Or will she be broken and forever walled in by machines. Life outside the window forever removed and out of reach. Alive enough to live, sick enough to die.


My feet ache from the walk, the long walk to go from me to my mother. And I selfishly gather the pain and rub my sadness into it. But larger than my inconveniences is her need.
So I walk I to the hospital,
elevator,
floor,
hallway,
and her room.

I walk into her need.
Larger than life- than my life- larger than everything
and pray God speaks.

Damascus words. Of love

and life.  

Tryst



It is light outside my closed eyes
It is light mid the midnight
She sings a siren song
louder still now against the snow
not absorbed by the flat white
but reflected
bounced
and pounced
like a self absorbed cat
heedless of my need for sleep
she calls
my sister moon
my lunar daughter
begs me awake
to admire her
lumosity
her sensuous embrace
her winter kiss

I have never in the day
loved and known such lure
as the blue sylvian
glide that draws
me in this deep night
as the curved silver
lunar girl
my sister moon
My fragile soul was born from her light
my thin heart
a paper copy
crumpled reflection

Some nights she seeks
me on my pillow
her eye cast on my dark head
her smooth hand brushes
my slumbering cheek
and curls inside my flesh

I cannot sleep
we must speak
the silence of the night
she brings me
with no fear
she shows me only now
only breathe
and my interlaced stacked up
mess of life and obligation
untwists in the shadows
of winter twigs on azure pillows of frost and ice
Untwist
Uncurl

My breath craves the
enchanted allure of wet damp air
the healing of breathing
moon drenched
midnight breaths
fill my lungs with trust
to
catch and hold aloft my dreams