Monthly Archives: February 2012

Winter

I am a gardener. 

When I first started gardening, my mother talked to me about “winter interest”.  Yuck, I thought.  I want to plant for action all the time!  Over many seasons, though, I’ve matured into appreciating the subtle change that happens in the winter garden.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that winter is when all the important stuff happens.  Without winter’s changes, no other season would exist!

When I first became a Christian, everything was new and exciting; I was seeing the world through the lens of freedom!  I was looking for the big things: God, what should I major in?  What should I do for a job?  Who should I marry?  And those are all good things and God gave me good direction.  But then there was a deeper stirring in my heart – a desire to not just order my life, but to grow and change from within.  I started learning who God wanted me to be and what it might look like to love the Lord with my whole heart.  I prayed God would bring about these changes in my heart.

He was faithful.  He allowed infertility.  He allowed miscarriage.   He allowed our sons’ deaths.  He allowed my brain tumor.  He allowed winter.

Just like winter in a garden, it’s through winter in our lives that God brings about the biggest changes in our hearts.  In our suffering, in our lack, in the absence of…that is when God can grow us the most.  While the above suffering may seem nothing but horrible and awful to the untrained heart, the heart trained in God’s ways knows what to look for, knows how to see God’s gentle, loving embrace.  The heart trained in God’s ways knows how to listen for His whispers of encouragement and reassurance.  The heart trained in God’s ways knows winter is paramount to eternity.  It’s when all else is stripped away that we see the “winter interest” – what we’re most made of…what there is for God to do, and what He has already done.

I’ll admit that this particular winter of continued infertility since my sons’ deaths has seemed to be a long one.  At times, I’ve felt it dragging on.  As always, though, when I cry out to God to make it be over, to prove He’s still around and, by the way, does He even still care, He sends provision and warmth that make me snuggle deeper in His embrace.

I pray whatever winter God may be graciously allowing in your life, that you will know indescribable intimacy with the Father that prepares you excitedly for the spring that is yet to come.

27 Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God”?
28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

-Isaiah 40: 27-31

 

 

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Say ya wanna dance, Don’t ya wanna dance?

Today, U.S. pop star Whitney Houston passed away.  I’m sad for her family and her struggles, but she grew up singing in the church, so I’m hoping she gave her heart to Jesus at some point and is rejoicing with her savior now.

Who I immediately thought of was my radiation therapist, Jason.  He and I had a good conversation about Whitney Houston one day because he’d had one of her CDs on for the previous patient.  I told him I was sure he loved Whitney, and, come on, Jason, you know you were jumpin on the bed to Dance With Me when you are 5!

Nope, nope he wasn’t.  (So he says.)

I miss the people I got to intersect with for a brief time.  Jason, Barb, Stella, Dr. Timmerman, the receptionists, the valet guys, the other patients.  I wonder how Shirley is doing.  And Patch Man.  And MJ.  I know the Lord has taken care of them for sure because He does something with our prayers!  I think prayers for giving others peace and comfort are prayers the Lord doesn’t resist.

I pray they are filled with His peace.  And, once again, I stand in awe of how something like an ugly, rare brain tumor could be turned into one of the best, most peaceful, and exciting times of my life.  Only Jesus can do that.  Only Jesus.

Wonder what He wants to do in your heart?  Go ahead.  Ask Him.  You can be sure He will respond.

 

 

The 4th

On February 3, a really long time ago, my dad died.  On February 5, we buried him, and that was that.  I was a kid and it pushed me into a downward spiral I stayed on for a lot of years.  But then Jesus came and pulled me up and changed my heart and I was still sad, but not on the downward spiral.  And each year on February 3, I remember a lonely, vulnerable little girl and her world shattering, and I am sad for her and her dad.

But then came my husband.  For months he knew he wanted to propose, but he waited.  And waited.  He was waiting for February 3 to pass.  He knelt on February 5 to ask me forever so that I’d always have a day to say goodbye to my dad, but a follow-up day to say hello to my husband.  Mission accomplished: I don’t think I’ve recounted that funeral in all these years because instead I’ve relished in my proposal.

But what of the day in between –the 4th?  It can go back to the 3rd and recount sorrow, or it can look forward to the 5th and anticipate joy.  I remember the day after my dad died going all over the mall finding funeral clothes and each saleslady asked just a little too chipper how I was.  Terrible, Lady.

But how am I now all these years later on the 4th?

I think a lot of grieving mothers live in the 4th for a long time.  There’s a part of us that never wants to leave the rawness of losing our babies.  We are that much closer to them in time, we remember more vividly.  There was an eye in the storm because after all what choice did we have.  But now it’s the 4th and that day is over.

There may be babies after the storm and slowly our hearts start to consider this, desire this, fear this.  Sometimes we stick a toe in and swirl around the water a bit just to see the ripples.  But it’s still the 4th, so we quickly jerk back to dry ground.

And then there’s the choice.  Unlike time marching on without our consent, grieving mothers have to make the choice to go to the next joy.  They can sit contentedly in some romantically distressful fashion forever in the 4th ‘s limbo or they can bid a whistful ‘see you around’ to the rawness and plunge fully into the 5th.  Only then we find we’re still tethered to the 3rd and we never can really say adieu.  And it’s kindof comforting actually.

What 4ths have you sat in?  What have you stared back at with grief thinking you’d never leave?  What have you dared to taste for just a moment before you ran back for cover?  How did you finally leave the 4th?  Or are you still there?

For me, it is Jesus.  I know that my sorrows are real and wearisome.  My burden is heavy and I’m tired.  But I know that in crying out to Him, He takes it all and strengthens me in the sabbatical of the 4th and prepares me for the future.  He’s done this over and over, never failing me, never forsaking me.  Even when I’m scared, I trust His heart and follow His leading because He loves me so.

I can’t keep from realising that Jesus rose after the “4th”.  But it took going through it to get there.

Enjoy the 4th.  Make it count.  Give it to Jesus and follow Him.