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Exchanging My Sackcloth for Gladness

Exchanging My Sackcloth for GladnessSometimes we think if our pain isn’t instantly taken away, God has somehow left us. God doesn’t abandon people. People abandon people.

And people walk away from God.

Despite my heart’s desire, I wasn’t able to see my father as he lay dying for about 10 days between Thanksgiving and the beginning of December. The choice was made for me.

The wreckage that has left in my heart and mind in the days since, just three and a half short months ago, cannot even be adequately described. Pain like this does not even have a name or definition. Grief doesn’t quite describe it. Trauma comes close. It’s like three elephants sit on my chest every day. Sometimes they get off to go get something to eat, but they usually wander back without warning and sit back on top of me again. It’s paralyzing.

Maybe you have made it through or are currently facing something similar.

I don’t know much right now, but I do claim this: I know more than I ever have how near God is to the brokenhearted because when the elephant sits on me, the panic that ensues only calms down when I remember Christ is holding my hand.

Please understand: I don’t stop hurting. It’s not a rescue.

It’s a presence, and it’s one I can fully trust.

Why? Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Hallway Smiles, Healed Hearts, and a Love That Always Covers

Do You Know the Love That Covers
I watched my young son walk by her on his way toward me at dismissal time. She waved a tiny wave at him, and he waved sheepishly back, giving a quick smile.

It had been a year since she was his teacher. They were both broken in their own ways that particular year. Nobody could have predicted it. Seeing them tentatively offer each other a quiet reassurance this week taught me something so profound. I’m not sure I’ll ever forget that scene: The one where my son had a stockpile of grace from somewhere deep within. The one where he got in the car and told me, when I asked: “I made sure to smile so she knew I was smiling at her.”

What? Oh, dear Jesus, please tell me. I want to know where that supply of grace is. Little Man seemed to tap right into it and out of the overflow, he worried about the feelings of someone who shared a sad year with him—someone who was just as stuck as he was that year. Don’t we all have moments, seasons, years like that?

Because I feel so protective of our beautiful school community and the teachers and other staff within those walls, the details of their sad year don’t really need to be told here. Suffice it to say that sadness was matched with unrelated sadness, and it made it hard for Little Man to climb out of his own lack of functioning and depression.

My mama heart was all over the map that year because Read the rest of this entry »

 

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When God Tucks Us In

HisGreatRest

Recently, I have been visiting my parents for a few days at a time in Amish Country. I wasn’t raised here. They moved here a few years ago. But I remember the days when Chester County, Pennsylvania, was similar in landscape: rolling hills of undisturbed cornfields and cows. My life in Boston is much more densely populated and busy. Horses and buggies are a welcomed sight after highways of minivans, Mercedes, and Land Rovers.

I have to admit: This started out as an idea of taking each child on a fun road trip, one at a time, to get some quality time with their grandparents, to make individual memories. But it also metamorphosed into more selfish reasons: Coming here is like a retreat, a respite. I could hole up here for weeks reading, writing, and conducting small amounts of business from an Adirondack chair facing farmland and Amish laundry hanging straight on a line. Peace and rest. Order. Clean air. Quiet countryside.

As I was trying to snuggle under some incredibly warm and enduring afghans from my childhood on my parents’ couch, my father came over and asked if I would like to be tucked in. He had seen that the afghans were slipping from the smooth leather couch onto the floor, and I clearly was in need of being wrapped like a bed burrito. He was happy to oblige.

Backing up a bit, Dad is recovering from bladder cancer. I guess a more accurate way of putting it is that he is recovering from bladder removal. Cancer has become his frequent, persistent, and most nagging companion over the course of 34 years. So not only is my recovering father tucking me in with his bladder bag saddled to the side, but he was caring for me, the one with fewer years and better health.

And it is a picture I simply cannot get out of my head.

Why?

Because God tucks us in that way. God is a Father Who loves this way. God offers protection under His wings, rest for our souls.

I’m 42, and my earthly father can still wrap me to sleep on the couch.

I’m 42, and I still desperately need my heavenly Father to wrap me in His shadow and under His wings.

I will never grow out of that need.

Neither will you.

And I love it.

The key is that we must remember that we are welcomed to be that child nestled under our Father’s strong arms and wings of protection. He loves having us there.

Mom actually made those afghans many years ago. In her own way, with those afghans, she comforted feverish children, covered chilly knees and feet on cold winter nights, brought warmth to a 44 year old man convalescing from radiation in 1981, kept the chill off the 95 year old matriarch of the family as she watched Lawrence Welk.

That afghan is family history from start to finish. It spans time and memories. It warms the soul and invites those needing the deepest of rest.

Like God, it knows our history and covers us in spite of it—when we trust Him and in Him.

Doesn’t that sound so inviting? So nourishing?

The verses that follow show the Truth of what God offers us, and it’s so much more than an aging, cozy afghan on a slippery couch.

It is ours just for crying out and being willing to submit to a Father in heaven Who wants to be our Loving Parent in the most significant and hope-filled of ways: forever.

May 2015 be the year these verses settle deeply into your hearts and minds—that you know how deep and wide and enduring the Father’s love is for you, and that you daily cry out for Him to tuck you into those promises when you come with the heart of a

trusting,

open,

eager

child.

Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus speaking, ESV
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Psalm 91:1-4, author unknown, possible Moses, ESV
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

————————————–

Dad’s story and tales of treks to Amish Country can also be found in “Waiting for the Telephone Call” and “Cows, Cornfields, and a Father Who Cares for It All.”

More stories of how tender a relationship God offers us through His Son Jesus can be found in the recently published Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day.

This blog has been shared at Christian Mommy Blogger and Pick Your Pin Tuesday.

 

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