As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11
The carnage of a life well-intended lies around me. Dead hopes. Dead relationships. Dead dreams. It looks like a wasteland as far as I can see. I am battle weary, tired of trying to defend what is already gone. Why fight on for what isn't...what won't be? Time to accept the loss. Time to let the dead rest in peace...to let me rest in peace...
My swagger is gone. My heart and spirit sag. I am ready to call time of death on these carcasses, but before the words tumble from my tongue, my comrade in arms slaps her hand over my mouth and says, "NO! I still see it breathing...I still see God breathing into it."
She is not looking at the bones littering the landscape. She is looking at me. She sees God still breathing into ME.
The dry bones in the desert are not the issue. How they look is not the issue. It isn’t how old or breathless they are. They are just bones, lifeless bones. Their condition doesn’t matter. It is the breath in the one speaking that matters. The willingness to be breathed into so breath can go forth is what matters. God still has something for me to breath into. It may not be what I used to breath into, but He always puts in breath so I can breath it into something else.
The question is not the lifelessness of the bones but whether I am still breathing?
The medicine has run its course through my system, and now the aching muscles groan when I turn over. Each swallow brings an explosion of pain in my throat, and my sinuses feel heavy with the weight of congestion.
However, in the darkness of my bedroom, my thoughts do not focus on the pain in my body but rather the music that fills the quiet around me. The words of the song are clear in my ears, and my groggy mind understands. They are not of earthly source but a heavenly one.
Words of answer to the pleading of my soul thoughts as I fell asleep. Questions too painful to ask aloud answered in the lyrics that fill my head, wrap around my heart. He is speaking. His words unmistakable, the message clear. My heart, broken and grieved, settles. Peace slips in through harmonies in the music...in the Spirit...and let them settle over me like a blanket.
In the early hour darkness, He lies with me, quiet except for the song He sings, healing, answering, soothing. I feel Him...hear Him...rest in Him.
My eyes drift closed, but the words continue. Answers to hard questions and painful regrets...I listen...and I hear...Him.
Lori Freeland is a wonderful writer with a gift for putting God's healing power into words. This week she shares how God took her broken relationship with her dad and healed not only their relationship, but their broken hearts. It is powerful and beautiful.
I encourage you to stop by, read the two-part piece, and take hope for yourself or pass it on to someone you know who is praying for their own miracle.
"God is amazing in that when I feel like He is ripping things out and leaving huge gaping holes, they tend to turn into obvious doors for me to walk through so I can receive or do something new from or in Him." -- Jerri Phillips, June 12, 2010
Tomorrow my dad--my stepdad--is having heart surgery. The angioplasty they tried yesterday didn't work, so they have scheduled a triple bypass.
This is not new territory. My dad--the one my mom was married to my whole life and then some--had heart issues. I have spent many hours in surgery waiting rooms, ICU waiting rooms, and hospital cafeterias. For fifteen years we lived under the shadow of severe heart damage and an aneurysm on the aorta in Dad's heart. I learned well the verse, "Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil."
Except I did fear.
I feared the gaping hole in my life if Dad passed on. I feared the pain. I feared trips to the farm to see an empty chair, and I feared drinking coffee alone on chilly spring mornings. I feared that it would never be better...and I feared it would.
And it is.
And today, despite the reality of tomorrow's possible outcome, I don't fear.
I have lived through the gaping hole that felt like it would suck me in forever. I have grieved deeply and hurt more wholly than I ever thought I could, and sometimes chilly spring mornings still sting more than my skin. The chair is empty, but sometimes I would swear I hear his laugh come from that part of the room. Always, I seem aware of his absence.
But it is better.
"...For You are with."
I did not live through the gaping hole alone, and friends, no matter how great their love, can only go so far into that pit with me. Even in the darkest, most empty time, God was speaking life. Time did not heal my heart. The hand of God did. When the morning feels too empty, the Lord fills it with His presence--a bird's song, an iris' bloom, His calm. When I hear that laugh, I know Dad is okay, and in his absence, I am made more aware than ever of God's love and faithfulness, and the gift of life...here and eternal...tells me how greatly He understands the void caused from loss.
I am not in this alone.
Tomorrow my stepdad will not be alone when he goes into that operating room...for You are with him...
We will not be alone in the waiting room...for You are with us...
And in the recovery...whatever that looks like...we will heal...for You are with us.
My Father's Daughter -- The hole left gaping in a daughter's heart when a father chooses to abandon his post can feel too huge to heal, but God is not too small, and sometimes He fills a father-sized hole with a dad-like answer.
It isn't an easy day for her today, not because the calendar turns another year older but because this is the first birthday her dad did not give her a call first thing. He went to be with Jesus last fall, and today, the hole in her heart gapes big, and the tears fall hot. And today, I want to put my arms around her and hold her and somehow make it better, but really, there is nothing I can do but hand tissues...
...Except to honor the man who is gone by celebrating the daughter he left behind...
In counting the gift that is Rae...
901. She laughs deep, and it echoes...in rooms, in hearts.
902. Her door is open...to the homeless, to the hopeless, to anyone needing refuge.
903. There is always a cup of coffee
904. Whole body hugs...that hold on until you are okay to let go
905. Her words of honor and love for her husband
906. Her fierce devotion to friends
907. The odd things she finds funny...the same ones as me
908. If she has it and you need it, it's yours
909. The way she rolls with things
910. The mom she chose to be
Did I mention her laughter? :-)
911. Her phone that is on all hours, even when she is tired
912. Potato Salad
913. Learning to swim together at a lake in the country...I'd be terrified if my children did what we did
914. Faith talks
915. Her deep love, which hurts her now, but blesses those blessed to receive it.
The greatest gift is not in who she is...or what she has...but in how easily she gives herself away...
Somewhere in my life I learned that being alone meant being a failure. If a person was alone, it meant he or she had not been sufficient for others to desire their company. It was more than being an outcast. It was its own scarlet letter, defining a person as having nothing to be desired by others.
Interestingly, I have spent a large part of my life feeling--and being--very alone.
To avoid this fate, I have often compromised and sacrificed greatly, sometimes my morals, more often myself. Each time I have lost far more than I ever hoped to gain, and I have come to realize that to be alone is not great shame. Sometimes it is a defining act of courage. It is not just the refusal to be what one is not, but the determination to be what one is. Honor and integrity are not most often found in large gathering. Instead, they are found in the choice not to gather.
It is simple to pick up a drink, a drug, a porn flick, or a grudge, and be part of the crowd. Anyone can do that. The fact is people will take anyone who entertains their follies. However, to go home to a spouse, to endure the pain till the other side, to honor one's vows even in the dark moments, or to let a matter go requires valour beyond the measure of most men. It requires a conviction of right and wrong, and a determination to accept responsibility for that conviction, a responsibility to act in accordance with the wisdom and knowledge of what is righteous, just, and holy.
This is not a light-weighted identity to carry, but it is one that allows a person to look in the mirror and be content with what she sees, one that allows a person to lie her head down at night and sleep deeply without torment of mind or spirit.
To be alone in such a manner is a choice of character, not a result of rejection. It is not determined by what a person is not, but by what she is.
Knowing what I truly desire to be, I choose to be worthy of being alone.
Marriage Fully Decorated--Subtle comments and selfish attitudes can have a big impact, especially on marriage. In a non-condemning way, Christine encourages wives to look at the everyday interchanges that can either bless a marriage or make it a battlefield.
My friend Sharilyn is a very talented woman. She is an amazing photographer. Her heart is pure gold, and she has the ability to make anyone feel incredibly special. She puts together lovely gift boxes that are so personalized that it is breathtaking. Some day I'll show you pictures of mine. When people who know her talk about how she blesses them, people wonder what beautiful gift she bestowed this time.
Last week I mentioned Sharilyn on my 1000 Gifts list, and people who know her asked what she had done. I really didn't know what to say because it sounds so small to them, but to me, it was like suddenly having air to breathe.
So what was this great thing she did?
She heard me. That simple.
Instead of simply reading the words I wrote, she heard what I couldn't say. She didn't see a writer with eloquent words. She saw someone hurting with no words at all. Instead of a quick response, she gave a quiet reach in...to where I sat with hopes unbreathing scattered around me.
It wasn't her profound solutions that blessed me. In fact, she offered no answer at all. It was simply her willingness to see me. Sometimes being seen holds the deepest healing of all. Then she sat down with me, put her heart's arm around my shoulders, and understood. Oh, the comfort of being understood. Oh, the refuge it affords!
We sat there. She in my email basket. I in her prayers.
And even though she is half a country away, I wasn't alone.