Archives for category: Hope

 

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His mom is beautiful.  And the beauty on the outside is only surpassed by the inside.  She’s compassionate. Fun. Artistic and creative. I remember her as one who loves well and laughs easily. She loves to dance. Actually teaches dance and is still in an adult community ballet as far as I know. She’s a woman who loves well and laughs easily. Years ago, as our trio sang, she danced during one of my favorite songs and did a beautiful job of bringing the words to life in a visual way.  The song and her dance made us all experience a sweet moment of understanding…of all being on the same page at the same time for that moment. 

His sisters are beautiful and spunky. That’s what I remember. My daughter and one of the sisters were church and school buddies. They were fun and active and funny and interactive. There was lots of laughter when my girl was with his sisters.

He was a little church buddy of one of my sons when they were young. Big brown eyes. Brown hair. Freckles. A lighthearted attitude with an easy smile. Intuitive. Funny.  That’s how I’ll remember him. Jake Meade.

Words spoken now of him are of grief and sadness and a huge void. Words spoken and photos shared are laced with grief that he was gone way too soon.  This 23-year-old left the world way before anyone was ready to let him go. Way before any 23-year-old should. Heroine overdose.

I couldn’t sleep the other night for thinking of the mom with a huge unspeakable void… Didn’t sleep till four and then woke up at 5:30 instantaneously thinking of the void that this sweet mom was feeling. And not just her…sisters, dad, friends, family members, teachers, coaches… The list goes on. And the circle of relationships of those who held him dear spirals outward and outward and outward.  Even reaches folks who haven’t seen him for years and years, but knew him. Who he was. Who he is. And the ache is one of those that will run deep and wide and linger on and on. In our story book, it should’ve never happened…

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Jake and his mom, Ashley

 

But Jesus came to heal the broken. To comfort the afflicted. To be in it all. ALL. That’s what the Bible says. Lots of people are needing to be comforted today. Because Jake mattered. His life matters to a lot of people. It matters to God.  Jesus came to redeem what’s unredeemable. To make whole the fragmented. Jesus came to save. You. Me. All. Not to condemn. To save. To make whole. To take what sin can eat alive, what sin can stain,  and then, make totally clean, free. To take what’s broken and redeem. In you. me. all.

There’s an epidemic in our community, in our state, in our nation…and it’s reaching our homes. It’s creeping in the dark and stealing young lives away from their families, their friends, their futures. And we need to shine a light on the darkness that is stealing away our loved ones. So, here i am, trying to hold up a little candle. Not just to shine a light on the darkness of the opioid epidemic, but to hopefully shed a little ray of light to comfort those who are left behind with a huge loss.

I want them to know that I’m remembering them…the parents, the families, the loved ones lost. I don’t know what to say. I really don’t. And I find myself as I’m writing saying, what right do I have to get in there and talk about this subject? What right do I have to write a post about a young life lost to addiction? And all I kept thinking was…it’s being human…a human right. Loss is loss. Loss effects us all. I’m so far removed from the families that have recently lost loved ones and even I have had restless nights praying for them. I’ve wept with them from miles away. I remember the fully-alive-ness of their wide-eyed boys. I remember the beauty of who their children are. I want them to know that I remember.

And I know that none of us are immune. I know that. Death doesn’t discriminate. Addiction doesn’t discriminate. We can try to safeguard ourselves, our families all we want, …and we should, yet in a weak moment, even the strong and well-insulated can fall prey to any demise.  I want to get in there and I don’t know what to do other than pray…and hit a “like” when they share their thoughts on Facebook. I “like” to let them know that their son should be remembered. I like that good, even little tiny bits of good, can come out of tragic loss. I love that an army of weeping moms and dads are coming together not just to remember those lost to the opioid epidemic, but to shine a light on it and rally and say, what next?  I love that good can come out of horrific things. Great even. But the pain, the grief walks hand in hand with it all.

Ashley…I remember you dancing…and the way that the heart of what was in you drew us all in as we watched.  I loved how we were all on the same page as you danced and your vulnerability was healing and good and encouraging.  And this dance that you’re dancing now is not one that  you would ever choose. But it’s one that’s drawing us all in…and making us all aware and feel things that need to be felt and see things that need to be seen. It’s shining a light on things that need to get out of the shadows, out of the darkness. Praying God comforts you in ways that only He can and that you sense His presence in the dance one step at a time. 

Here’s one of the songs (below) that you danced to way back when. To dance in the midst of adversity…to hope though there are no signs….to trust in a world of uncertainty when there seems to be more darkness than light….Praying you find the strength and will and that in the comfort of our Savior’s grace…you dance.

Love and Hugs and prayers and thoughts and memories and hopes,

heather

 

 

 

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After a quiet Sunday morning of taking my time to drink my coffee, read, pray, even take some photos of a few things on the deck and blog a bit, I went out to the car to leave for nursery duty at church and saw…not one, but TWO flat tires. And I’m not talking questionable or just a little low on air. I’m talking F  L  A  T.

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And I felt a bit deflated for sure. More than just a bit.

And the thought hit me that I better walk around the side to see if the other two were flat as well. Relief. Phew. They were both good. Am guessing I ran over some glass or something on the left side. Anyway, moving on…

So, I asked my husband if I could use his truck, (he said, ‘yes’…and I was proud of him because he didn’t say a lot of the other words I thought I might hear…) and I left, and only showed up a few minutes late for nursery duty. I got to care for some sweet little ones and then went to the worship service, and sang songs and heard lots of words of truth and encouragement.

And I’m home now and I’m trying to focus on the good things to be thankful for. I mean, I  had a truck to drive home right? Or, I could’ve been in the car when we got two flat tires. Or…even worse, Tanner could’ve been driving. And having gratitude for things can be easy to list, but sometimes, sometimes it’s tough to feel.  And honestly, that’s where I am…

I’m still feeling deflated…And it’s so not about the tires.

Flat tires are a teeny-tiny inconvenience…a small thing. But it’s a teeny small thing on top of lots of other small things and a few really big things. One on top of another pushing the air out of yours truly. And I’m just being honest that I just feel like that so very flat tire.  And my husband kept saying, I’ve never seen “two flat tires” like that…and it felt as though he was implying that someone had intended to give me flat tires, like I was on someone’s hit list or something. And that didn’t help me either… Neither did “discussing” some of the other challenges we’re facing. And the deflated part of me started filling up with hot angry fumes that were so not helping.  Then I said words that I wished I could take back and it would’ve been better if I had used the words I thought my husband might say this morning, because mine hurt a lot more than a few cuss words would. Yep.  Deflated is a pretty appropriate word. And two deflated tires were pretty symbolic of two not so encouraged people.

BUT….BUT I love that there’s a place I can go with all of that. One that I can turn to. Yes, Triple A will get a call today (soon), but aside from some short conversations and niceties, all they can do is help me get those tires fixed or drop it off somewhere that can help. But they can’t fill up that void when life kind of sucks the air out of us, or just ‘sucks’ period. We all go through times like that.  No matter what our walk of life, there are times when we just need to be lifted up a bit, filled up a bit.  The irony for me is that often the ‘lifting up’ of my heart, emotions, is determined by what or who I’m ‘lifting up’ in action. Yep. That’s the truth.

Because life does get hard. In waves. And some of the hard is just life and some of the hard is our consequences. And some of the hard is in our control and some of it is  so not, but is in the hands of those we’re doing life with. For the good or the bad, for better or for worse. And so many people say “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”  Well…I can’t find that anywhere in my Bible. I read, “Because he has set his love upon Me, I will deliver him; I will set him on high because he has known my name. He shall call upon me and I will answer him in trouble.” Psalm 92:14,-15  It says “IN TROUBLE.”  I read about how the Lord is our help THROUGH struggles, WITH Him. And I know with certainty that God HAS allowed so much in my life that was WAY more than I could handle. I mean, case in point, we had a 2 year span when we had 6 teenagers in the house at the same time. These six teenagers were not visitors, mind you… they were living there because they are mine 🙂  It was way more than I could handle at times, but was God with us THROUGH it? YES. And another thing. My husband would be the first to say that a lot of his choices have brought a lot of heartache…aches that were way more than I could ‘handle’.  Nope, I’m not a “God-won’t-give-you-more-than-you-can-handle person. I”m a “What-God-allows-He-uses-and-walks-with-us through-it-ALL” kind of gal.

And He does. And He has.

So that. That is what I will focus on. He is who I will lift up…and guess what?  It helped to lift me up for sure to focus on what’s true rather than what I feel. I sat on the deck and read… and was happy to see that the coffee cup that I chose this morning pre-flat tire awareness, was this one.  Hope.  Good thing to focus on.

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And do you know what else is cool? This morning, the verses I read were from James 1.  If you’re familiar with James 1 you might smile a bit right about now.  Yep, I read about ‘counting it ALL joy’… and persevering when things aren’t so great. Funny. I had even taken a photo of the Bible reading this morning.  I loved the way the light was shining on the page and me and my so analogy-driven self was thinking how that Light was shining on the words on the outside, but were so lighting me up on the inside. (Yep. My grandfather called me ‘sappy’ for  a reason.)

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And here’s another PRE-flat tire awareness photo that I took this morning…

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And do you know why I took this one?  Because it’s such a visual of needing supports. The Mandevilla plant my mother-in-law gave me would be flapping and flying in the wind or grounded on the cement if it didn’t have supports to cling to. Kind of like me. Triple A, the Word, friends and family, my church, and my God…boy do I need supports in my life. Maybe that’s a flip side of days like today… I’m so aware of my needs for supports and am not quite as Ms. Independent as I may seem. I need people. I need God. I need Triple A. A lot.

And here’s another photo I took PRE-Flat Tire. DSCN5248

This cute little chickadee actually was still for a bit which is not a small thing. Because these little birds usually flit about like crazy. Birds have been a constant reminder to me lately of how there’s provision for today…this moment. (Matthew 6:26). And I’ve needed that reminder.

So, I guess I’ve needed a lot of reminders today. And that’s the cool thing…they were right in front of me even before I realized I needed them.

And I sat on the deck and got my eyes of me and my little pity-party and saw some cool things…DSCN5255

Some vincas from a sweet neighbor…

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DSCN5256…and here’s my absolute favorite tea cup bird feeder. The wind had gotten a hold of our umbrella and actually turned over the table with the pot that held this. But it’s a reminder that even our favorite material things don’t last. Tires. Cars. Tea Cups. They are the stuff, the temporal stuff. They don’t last. Gotta focus on what does. Yep, another good reminder for me.

So, I sooo hope that you could not relate to any of this…that your life is going awesome with very few blips in the road and that you’re thinking that my flat-tire-catalyst for a confession of deep need is totally foreign to you. But for those of you who may feel a bit ‘deflated’ today…am hoping that me reminding myself of some things might encourage you a bit as well.  Remember the mandevilla (we need supports, like each other), Remember the chickadee (there’s provision for today), and remember the broken tea cup and flat tires (the temporal is just that- short-lived…let’s hold on to the eternal, let go of the stuff…)  And, when we feel ‘deflated’, there’s one we can go to to fill us up. Remember the God of all hope. Paul said it bestin Romans 15:13…”May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”    Yes.  That. That is like air in the tires…like breath to my lungs, like hope to my heart.

Keep Pressing On ~

Heather

p.s. Will probably be blogging about the analogy of keys and locksmiths tomorrow because guess who (me) forgot to tell the Triple A guy that we can’t lock the car… cause the key doesn’t work externally…and so I’ll probably be getting a call from the tire place at around 8 a.m. or so saying they can’t get in the car.  Yep. There are lots of analogies for a blog on keys and locksmiths. Stay tuned 🙂

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“Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would have settled in silence. If I say, “My foot slips”, Your mercy O’ Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, Your comforts delight my soul.”

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Nothing like coming back into your classroom after a long day of teaching and wondering if anything you did, said, or taught made a difference…and then, then… seeing this. It encouraged me to the core, especially when it came as a sweet message from a little guy whom I have heard say, “too hard”, “I can’t”, and “I won’t” so many times. (And the one whom I have had to ‘redirect’ quite sternly and emphatically so very many times.) Yep.  Made me smile just about like the drawing.

Holding on to the truth that even when we wonder if anything is making a difference (as parents, spouses, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, ….people…), well, we gotta follow the same advice we give….to try, to press on, to make an effort, to do what we can, to take one step at a time, to be patient with ourselves, to….Hope.  Yep. Gotta hold onto hope even when we feel like saying “I can’t”, “I won’t” or “too hard”…  We never know who may be listening and taking it to heart. (Maybe sometimes who we may least expect…) Yes, holding onto hope is  a good thing.

Blessings ~

H

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Hebrews 10:23-25

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…:

Philippians 4:13

autumnrainIn a little over a week, Autumn will officially become Winter. The leaves are leaving…a few are still hanging on, but most seem to be ending up in places like my sidewalk and yard and deck.  December has come and even though yesterday I was wearing flip flops, now I feel like I should be wearing a parka.  Seasons change, sometimes so quickly.

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Yes, things can change so quickly. I learned tonight that a woman who we used to go to church with has passed.  She was 69. I didn’t know her well at all, but what I did know was that every single time that I saw her, she made a point to smile  a welcoming smile and make my family and I feel invited.  She loved well. That was obvious.  And I’m sure that those who knew her will have a void, an empty space in their lives as the reality of her passing takes hold.  Her love and inviting spirit just filled people up to the brim.  She has left a legacy behind that is so real, but her passing definitely does leave a void.

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Sometimes voids are noticed right away and we can directly attach them to a specific occurrence or event, rather than one that has gradually been built over time.   These voids are the ones that cause our stomachs to rumble, hearts to beat a little faster, voices to scream, and tears to fall. These are the voids that emerge so quickly that we feel as though or worlds have immediately changed. Death. Divorce. Financial Loss. The list goes on and on.  Like a violent wind that sends  leaves flying and branches crashing down, these voids come in like a storm.

But sometimes voids go unnoticed and grow over time. Sometimes voids, those gut-level voids, go unnoticed. Like a slow seep, they gradually become bigger and bigger until we turn around one day and wonder why we’re feeling such a huge sense of emptiness.  The gradual voids of little disappointments, loss, and struggles, add up and chip away at our core, leaving space.  They are kind of like the hollow spaces and gaps underneath the ground that become sink holes later on. Often the source of enormous sink holes that swallow up everything in their path go unnoticed under the surface for a long time, and no one even knows they are there. Sometimes voids are like that.

Either way, voids are voids.  They just are.  And here’s a thought.  Better to have a void, than to have a filler that temporarily fills the space, but ends up creating a bigger void in the long run.

As the Fall turns to winter, the spaces between the trees becomes more visible.

silentsunday2  The voids created by leaves fallen are easily seen.  We know that the leaves were  once there, and that they will come again. We can remember the beauty of the emerging lime shades of Spring, deep greens of Summer, and the multicolored hues of Autumn.  But in this season, they are but a memory, or visible only in the browns that crunch under our feet.

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That gradual process  of beautiful colors which began in the Fall comes to an end until the trees are bare,with naked branches in the cold of winter.journey

It would be a ridiculous thought for someone to try to somehow dress up the barren branches with leaves.  I mean, we know that Spring will come, right?  And with Spring, will come the little teeny, tiny lime green sprouts. grow.jpg

And we know with totally certainty that the naked, bare and grey trees of winter are just in the natural order of things, right?  They are just one season of many. So of course, we wouldn’t try to fill those gaps, those voids, those spaces and empty places with something that was just a mere filler, a counterfeit, artificial filler that wouldn’t last, would we?

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Of course not.

But then again, maybe, just maybe, that’s exactly what we do when we rush the order of things.  Maybe sometimes the voids in our lives are there for a reason….for a season. And if we try to cover them up or fill them in or pretend that somehow they are not supposed to be there and rush to fill the empty space, maybe we’re really missing out on the true beauty of the space between.  Maybe the space between can sometimes tell us a little something.  Maybe the ache, the longing can help us take some steps to change things up a bit in our lives.  Maybe voids kind of help us get us back to basics of what needs to be in that space in the first place.  They are an indicator of sorts.

Life is full, full, full of so much beauty.  But on the flip side, life is filled with so much loss. What we do to fill the aches, the voids in our lives during those times of life is like the rudder of the ship of our lives…it leads us. Forward?  In Circles?  Backward?  All of the above?  Yeah, our responses to voids leads us. Somewhere.the-ride-home

Jesus had 4o days in the desert.  Void of food. Void of interactions. Void of any benefits. It was  a time of prayer, resolve. He knew that His ministry was about to begin and that much would be required of Him.  Everything.  He was tempted at that time but would not give in to any counterfeit.  Satan tried.  Here’s bread.  Nope.  Here’s kingdoms. Nope.  Jesus was fully aware that anything filling up the empty space that was not of God would merely be a temporary fix that would only leave much greater voids later on. Jesus knew the value of letting God  use the void to draw Him in a closer relationship to Him.

So, no, we would never attempt to attach leaves to a barren tree. Never. That’s stupid. We know that Spring will come.  But how often in my life I’ve tried to put temporary fillers and fixes in that only make the void more apparent.   Voids that might just last for a season can become a way  of life, when filled with things that only create bigger vacuums. Diversions can all be a temporary fix to a need, but like the rudder on a ship, they lead me.  How often I’ve forgotten that sometimes things happen for a reason,…for a season.  Even if I don’t understand reasons why, I can know that things last for a time.

And another thought.  During those seasons of need, of void, …I’ve been learning in recent years, that a lot of things that happen just can’t or won’t be explained.  Oh people can try to say this and that and offer explanations, but sometimes questions of “Why?” just go unanswered. They just do.  And a whole lot of wasted time and energy can be wrapped up in trying to find an answer to the question why, when on this side of Heaven, a lot of answers just won’t be found or understood.  Lots of things are beyond our comprehension for sure, so like Elisabeth Elliot so often said, “In acceptance lies peace.”

Acceptance of seasons…that there are some things we can’t control, and acceptance of seasons…that some things just take time…is freeing. It’s saying that we don’t have to be it all. We don’t have to be the blooming tree in the season of winter because it’s a season. We can be right where we are and not have to look to the left or right feeling as though we gotta be in a different season. And we don’t have to put in fillers because we know the real deal is so much more valuable and fillers only create more voids.  And when there’s acceptance of where we are, maybe we have the eyes to see the beauty that IS, rather than the voids and what ISN’T.

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There’s beauty in every season when we have the eyes to see it.  Just a matter of accepting where we are and allowing God to fill the voids in His time.  Funny how needs can draw us to Him.  “His strength is made perfect in my weakness…”  Love that. Because it is.  And here’s an awesome visual.  Light.  Light that fills the spaces, gaps and voids.  FLOODS them, warms them, fills them.  I think that’s what the Lord wants to do in our lives. Fill us up to be poured out.  With light.  With Life.  With Love. With Truth. With Him. Maybe the ache, the season where there are voids and empty spaces are just merely opportunities to be filled to the brim with the power that only comes from Him.

I don’t know what ‘season’ you’re in. Maybe it’s Spring and things are full and awesome and beautiful. Or maybe  it’s summer and steady and fun and sweet.  Maybe it’s winter of Fall or a combination of all of it. But whatever the season, am hoping we can encourage each other with hope, accepting where we are, encouraging us to trust God with where He has us, and have faith to keep pressing on to know Him more no matter what lies behind, or what lies ahead.  Just a few thoughts as the season turns to Winter here and I choose to be thankful for what is…photo 4

…and trust that …Spring…Spring is coming.

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Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  (You knew it was coming ,didn’t ya?So long winded…)  Just a little reminder that there are people walking through all sorts of seasons around us.  Maybe you have a ‘winter’ who needs a reminder that’s Spring is coming. Or maybe you’re in winter and need to give grace and vicariously enjoy the beauty experienced by the friend who’s in the midst of a ‘spring’.  Whatever the season, am thinking there’s grace that can connect us regardless and only add depth to the season we’re in as we remember past seasons, look forward to future seasons, and accept and make the most of the minute that we’re in… ❤

” So, let us know. Let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn. And He will come, He will come to us like the rain. Like the Spring Rain, watering the earth.”

Hosea 6:3

“Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the LORD.”Psalm 27:14

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“For behold, the winter is past. The flowers have already appeared in the land; The time has arrived for pruning the vines, And the voice of the turtledove has been heard in our land.…”

Song of Solomon 2:11

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Every October, I remember.  Of course, I remember throughout the year, but when leaves start to turn and there’s a chill in the air, I often find myself having to fight off some fears and steady my heart as my memories turn to two days, two sons, and two events in October of 2012.

Two days:  October 25th, 2012 and October 26th, 2012

Two Sons:  Josh and Tanner

Two Life Changing Events:

Major Car Accident (Josh- October 25th, 2012)

and Cardiac Arrest (Tanner – October 26th, 2012)

October 25th, 2012.   Josh’s car accident in South Carolina.

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Josh’s car.  Flipped multiple times and topped a tree 15 feet up.  Yep, 15 feet up with the metal still hanging in the tree.  And there’s Josh to the left…standing.  He’s there STANDING with only scrapes and cuts on his arms and hands. I couldn’t wait to travel down to South Carolina to see him the next day, but then….image

…then came Event Number Two. Next Day, October 26th, 2012. Tanner’s Cardiac arrest at middle school.  He was “out” for 5 minutes.  Revived by school nurse, Amber Payne, and parent, Edna Farrington, with use of AED. The good news was he was revived and breathing. The bad news was that the medical team couldn’t stop the seizures. A principal from the school had rushed me to the hospital and I was there to hear the sirens as the ambulance neared the hospital. Nothing could’ve prepared me for seeing Tanner in the condition he was in.  He was soon airlifted to Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, put in a polar suit to stop seizures, and was in an induced coma for three days.  We weren’t sure how things would turn out when he woke up.

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Two Days. Two sons. Two events….felt like a bit too much. And well, it was.

Time kind of has a way of feeling like a blur at times like these. But the amazing thing is, we only have to live one minute at a time. Thank goodness for that. We live one phone call at a time.  One fast car drive at a time.  One hug, one kiss, one cry, one itty bitty moment at a time. One doctor’s prognosis at a time. And the cool thing is, there’s grace for the moment, for the minute that we’re in, when we’re in it.  Grace lives right there in the now, not in the past, not in the future.  It lives in the minute that we’re in right here, right now. And that’s what I saw in those days and the days to come…grace that covers the needs of the moment.

Every family has their stories…the spoken and the unspoken, the beautiful and the incredibly hard. We all have our own takes on what these stories do to define us, refine us, shape us, and change us. I so believe that what God allows, He uses, but I don’t pretend to understand the ‘reasons’ for why or why things did or didn’t happen. I can see it from different angles for sure, but my sights are so limited. (Of course when I was 20 I saw things perfectly, knew it all, but  50 years have  helped me to see what I don’t see more than what I do.)

Yes, we all have our stories, and how we respond becomes part of the narrative. I could grieve that it happened, that two sons came so close to losing their lives.I could grieve that not only did Josh endure the accident, but also that when he needed us to be there for him, we all had to rush to another tragedy.  I can’t even imagine how hard it all was for him. Or I could be so incredibly thankful that he survived a car wreck that no one seeing the car believed he could have survived. I could grieve that Tanner has a heart condition or I could be so filled with gratitude over the grace that allowed the school nurse and a mom who “just happened” to be a nurse had “just happened” to be stopping by the school at the same time that Tanner’s heart gave out.  Or I could be so incredibly thankful for the grace of the miracle that these two sons were still breathing, living, and right there.  I could grieve or I could be thankful. I did both.

I’ve told the stories so many times…because, well, it’s therapeutic. Those days changed me.  They changed my family.  As hard as the day was, what I remember most is the grace that held us all together and provided just what we needed at just the right time. Our family and friends and community supported us in amazing ways and came to be there in those first moments, hours, and days. My family was in 5 different cities in the Carolinas and we all got to the hospital at the time when the doctor called us into “the room” to share the gravity of the situation. We were all there, including Josh, who was still bruised and scraped and reeling from his own trauma the day before. The news from the doctor wasn’t good.  Wasn’t good at all. But we were together in that moment, and that’s what mattered.

Sometimes it’s easy to jump ahead…to fear what that prognosis might be.  To fear what might come, what might not come. There was definitely a battle going on in my mind about not fearing the unknown of what the future might hold. It’s also easy to regret what’s behind.  So easy to lose so much time and energy and heart over what we can’t control in the future or in the past. It’s one thing to learn from mistakes. It’s another thing to dredge them up and keep living in them.  It’s one thing to prepare for the future. It’s another thing to fear it. We don’t know what the future holds. Worrying only steals our present, and we have no idea how long we have this gift of our present. Trust me on that one…

Tanner and me on the roof

But here’s the thing.What’s my takeaway from all of this?  Sometimes the very things that are just too much for me, point me to the grace that is so much bigger and so much greater than I can even conceive. Where there are gaps of feeling “too much”, the voids point me to my needs that I can’t fill on my own, or those of my kids.  What I want to guard my kids from might be the very things that grow them up in amazing ways. Voids make room for more grace.  Voids recognize the need for grace.  Grace to endure. Grace to be thankful for what is rather than what isn’t. Grace to recognize but not fear what could have been,but be thankful for what is.

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Tanner, Hope, and Josh in July 2016

Grace that Josh survived a crash that no one believed anyone could survive.  I mean, look at the car.  And he came out with only scratches and gashes on his arms and hands. The scars today are a reminder of his survival, of grace that said that there was more, so much more of his story left to come.

Grace that Tan survived. Grace that people rallied. Grace that not only did he survive, but that after not breathing for 5 minutes, that he still had the capacity to do all that he had done before the ‘event’.  Grace of having so many people who were there for us in countless ways.  Grace for nurses who were incredibly passionate, professional, and blessed us in ways that I can’t even explain.  I’ve tried.  But words just don’t suffice.

And maybe, bottom line, that’s the heart of this story for me. It’s not the story, it’s what the circumstance, the story brought about.  Between the lines of any story are gaps…gaps that are filled in by the writer, by the reader, by the teller, by the listener. And maybe sometimes it’s not as much the “what” of the words of the story that impact us as much as the “HOW” it is lived out and responded to .  I’m thinking that I never would’ve chosen to write in a 13 year old son’s cardiac arrest and a serious car accident of a 21 year old into my family’s story, not in a million years. I especially wouldn’t have written them in two days apart. No, I would’ve never chosen that “what”.  But the “how” of how it grew our family, changed us, knit us together…I’m more thankful for that than I can even describe. Yes, the two days four years ago helped me see  and feel in tangible ways that where there are lots of twists and turns in my story, that the gaps are filled in by the grace of God that carries, protects, and keeps.  Grace keeps.

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So, as the leaves start to turn and the winds start to change, I’m going to remember.  I’m going to remember the grace that carried me and my family through a dark time.  When fear starts to grip me, and at times it really does, I’ll choose to remember that I’ve faced some of my worst fears and seen God’s Hand in the midst of it all, leading, protecting, and loving…..filling the space with grace. Like mortar on a stained glass window, His love fills in the gaps of the broken pieces of our lives, and makes something absolutely beautiful. It is mine to keep offering the pieces of my life to Him, ALL of them, one by one. It is His to fill in the gaps and make something beautiful. I love that. “He makes all things beautiful in His time.”  His time. His moment. It is mine to live in the moment, it is His to show up. And when He shows up, everything changes, because grace…grace changes everything.

By His Grace~

Heather

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

Ecclesiastes 3:11

Church window

soletusknow1

…am singing from Psalm 42 these days ❤ …

If I fall, let me fall on my knees

If I call, will you draw near to me

If I wade into waters too deep

Will your grasp reach…

 

If the dark of night lingers long

Will you be with me, be my song

Will the gift of your Presence renew

As I call out to You

 

If I seek, Oh, Lord help me find

More of you, may my heart be resigned

to rest in Your goodness and truth

of Your mercies new, always new

 

And when life gets out of hand

May I cling to the Great I Am

Who resides in the here and now

Who presides come what may, some how

 

Let the bones thou has broken rejoice

May the praise that resounds be a choice

choosing hope that will never let me go

Am holding on to hope

 

And when deep waters call to deep

You alone will my soul safely keep

Granting rest where none else can go

Granting freedom of being fully known

 

If I thirst may it lead me to You

as a deer pants and water renews

If a void grows within me so deep

May the hunger be satisfied by Thee (only Thee)

If I pour out my soul unto you

May what’s poured out of me come from You

May my weakness be my strength

As I  just give thanks…in every thing give thanks..

 

If I hunger, let it be for You

For Your Presence, Your guidance, Your truth

If I thirst, let my longing lead

me to wells of your eternal spring

where thirst’s quench is satisfied

Where the longings change

Where love abides

 

As a deer pants for waters that flow

Let me press on to seek, to know

You who leads the weary and the lame

You who feed the hungry and ashamed

You who give grace and set captives free

Speak to me, Lord draw me

 

If I fall, let me fall on my knees

When I’ve called, how you’ve drawn near to me

Oh the peace that will never let me go

Oh the reach that grasps and says “Be still and know….”

I know

 

When I rise, let it be in your strength

Knowing You, You alone are to thank

For the grace that reaches far and wide

For the place that leads me to abide in You.

 

Psalm 42, Lamentations 3, James 4, etc…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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So, the problems today are rampant.  Watch the news for 5 minutes and it can be so  overwhelming if you let yourself really take in what’s being reported.  And the political climate?  Honestly, I don’t even want to go there.  There’s so much distrust, disrespect, and disarray…and the games being played are so obvious to the average citizen. I’ve never felt quite so disconcerted with it all and have always taken the privilege to vote as a gift and responsibility.  But now?  I find myself rolling my eyes when the candidates start their little rhetorical games as the problems in our state, in our nation, in our world, just seem to be grow so incredibly big. Giant. Astronomically Huge.

And what can one person do?  That’s the thing that concerns me about all of this. The problems are so embedded and intertwined and “solutions” go so far to the left or right we never find common ground,  we never find viable solutions.  Give. Take. Never Share.  All. Nothing. Very little compromise and reason from all sides.  I am not going to get into my religious or political views now because I just wanted to share something that was a light bulb of sorts for me this week.  And I’m thinking it can apply to every one of us no matter where we stand on the spectrum of political and religious views.

I was driving past the mall and saw a very skinny, long-haired, bearded man who looked like he hadn’t showered in quite a while.  He was holding up a sign that said “Homeless”. I had a lot of thoughts rush through my mind.  You know the kind.  “I can’t give him money because he’ll probably use it on drugs.” or “Me stopping wouldn’t make a difference anyway.”  or “It’ll take 15 minutes to go get him something and come back and I’m in a rush…”  But I took the 15 minutes.   Just got him some bottles of water, peanuts and granola bars. But do you know what the pervading thoughts and feelings were as I drove back to give him the little offering?  Embarrassment that the gift was so small and that maybe I should just turn around because it’s so small.  But I trudged on and continued to  feel this very real sense of feeling that it’s almost humiliating to give him something so small when the problem is so big.

As I turned into the mall, a person in the car  in front of me  was giving him some money.  He said thank you and walked back to the curb.  And then it was my turn. I hoped that the person in front of me was able to give him more than I was about to give.  I pulled up and handed him the bag as I started to say, “I’m sorry it’s not…” but I didn’t finish my sentence because he said, “OHHH!  Thank you so much!! THANK You!”  It was a 90 degree day where the sticky hot air must’ve been exhausting him and the feel of the cold water bottle in his hand was what he needed at that moment.  At that moment.  And at that moment I felt a flood of relief and a different kind of emotion.  Thankful.  A new sense of Hope.  An understanding like that of a dim lightbulb being turned up to illuminate more…

Because yes, yes,yes, the problems are so big.  But then again, some of the needs are also so small.  And in that moment, some needs…some very temporary, very small needs were met. I almost didn’t bring him water. I mean, I couldn’t solve the homelessness, the poverty, the isolation …and so I almost turned around.  Would he be thirsty and hungry again in a short period of time?  Yes.    But for this moment, something was done.  So this is why I felt hopeful—even though the problems are so incredibly big, that doesn’t mean that our little cups of water can’t make a difference for one person, in one moment.  And I want to have the courage to bring my small offering rather than no offering at all. 

I’m so concerned about our nation, our world.  There’s a growing sense of such disdain for politics and being involved because the problems are glaringly apparent and the solutions are not. I’m concerned for young people as they throw up their hands and say that they aren’t going to vote because they don’t have any respect for the candidates and ‘it won’t make any difference anyway’.  But for me, today, I felt a glimmer of hope that maybe differences can be made in a small way, and I got a very real visual of what that can look like. I heard the joy and saw the look in the man’s eyes that said it made a teeny tiny difference at that time.

I’ve joked (but I’m serious) that my kids can put “She did what she could” as an epitaph on my tombstone. There are countless things that I will absolutely never be able to do or accomplish, for them, for me, for the world around me.  But I have to daily ask the question, am I doing what I can in the here and now?  And if I am, maybe it will make a teeny tiny small difference in the lives of those around me.  I am so incredibly thankful for the reminder that even little things can make a difference. Even if it’s a little difference, it’s a difference. Thankful for that.  Just some thoughts to continue to ponder…

Blessings ~

Heather

P.S.  There are those who will speak loudly with messages much like that which I was telling myself as I drove back to the mall.  The “it won’t make a difference-” sayers.   The there’s “no solution” -tellers, and “might-as-well-nots”.  They can be very loud. Very very loud.  And deeply discouraging.  Am thinking we need to turn down the volume on those messages, whether they are own internal voices, or external, because, bottom-line, in order to make any kind of difference, there’s gotta be HOPE that the difference can be made in the first place.  That’s what the homeless man’s smile and “OHHH!” did for me. It turned up the volume to the ‘might as well’ thoughts  and ignited hope in making a little difference. Hope is a key ingredient for any change for sure.

P.P.S.  There are also those who will tell us exactly when and how we should give the cold cup of water.  This can be well-meaning. It can be offering wisdom.  But it can lead to a lack of doing anything and cause paralysis as well.  I am all for wisdom, but advice will often vary  with the giver  and it can lead to apathy for fear of never doing it “just right.”  When this is the case, maybe we need to take that with a grain of salt. Just a thought.

P.P.P.S.  Oh brother.  Sorry.  But just gotta share one more thing.  I just got back from running a lot of errands. Last stop was the gas station.  For some reason, when I tried to run my card through it said “See attendant”.  So I went in and immediately there was a man following  very closely behind me who told me I was beautiful, asked if I was married, etc. (No taking this as a compliment -it was obvious that he was intoxicated.) He started asking a lot of questions. He knew I was a teacher, and although I don’t know  him, I recognized him as a parent from school. He was pretty aggressive with his words.  Of course, it was taking a long time for my card to work.  I didn’t feel threatened, but was feeling uncomfortable.  When  the card finally worked and I walked out to pump gas, a man was waiting outside the door.  He smiled and said, “I just wanted to make sure that you made it out okay.”  I said thank you.  Probably looked awkward and then went to pump my gas.  He pulled around as I was pumping gas and said, “I don’t usually get involved, but I was really uncomfortable with how he was talking to you.” I thanked him and thought, he probably went through the same little battle of the will that I had gone through with the homeless man.  He listened to his gut and probably heard the same, “don’t get involved” thoughts that can easily prevail.  But because he did get involved, I felt encouraged a bit safer. I really did.  I don’t think anything would’ve happened, but it felt so good to feel that someone was watching out for things at that moment.  At that moment, a need was met. I guess I didn’t realize how uncomfortable I was feeling until I felt the relief wash over me, and that was only because the man was willing to step up when he saw a need. Collectively, we have so many needs.   And yet, collectively, we have so many ways to help meet those needs.

I’ll probably have a lot more p.p.p.p.s- es through the day, but will leave it at that.  This is not comprehensive by any means…just a few thoughts on big problems, little solutions and the hope that bridges the gap between the two.  Here’s to choosing hope.

 

“For I know the things I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12

 

 

 

 

 

quiet hope

So this one?  She’s at that place where there are lots of “life-changing” decisions.  There are lots of pressures to make the right choices.  There are lots of responsibilities and voices and people saying this and that, this and that and expressing their views.  And that’s all well and good for a time. I mean, it’s true.  But there are some things that we need to remember amidst all the voices and the noise of a world that often screams of what we are supposed to or not supposed to be, do, and think.

Yes…in a world of lots of opinions, and thoughts, and ideas and truths and options and activities and noise to fill our worlds from morning till night, well…it’s always good to have a little solitude.  To enjoy the view.  To see things from your own lens, your own perspective, your own place and space.  It’s always good to breathe a little fresh air and know that in the end, you’re the one sitting in your space.  You’re the one walking in your own shoes.  You’re the one who gets to or has to live with the choices and all that comes with them.  In the end, we find our way by taking time to stop, think, pray, see, and just take it all in.

Cause, bottom-line, there’s a lot of beauty.  There’s a lot of beauty around us.  There’s a lot of beauty within us.  There’s a lot of beauty in how the world around us and the world within us can connect.  And it’s good to find a little time and space away from the noise to be intentional about making that connection occur.  A little solitude is a good, good thing.

I love the verse that says, “In quietness and trust is your strength.” It’s Isaiah 30:15.I’ve quoted that verse to myself so many times.  I’ve written it on reminders on my mirror. I’ve underlined and starred it in my Bible.   But there’s more to the verse.  It says, “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel says, ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength. But you would have none of it.'”   Yikes.  I so don’t like that last part.  That doesn’t pertain to me, does it?  Of course not.  Or maybe, yes, it does.  Interesting how the strength, the quietness, the trust comes after the repentance and the rest.  There’s a turning from and a turning to.  There’s a turning from the way that’s counter to the way that God would have us live, and there’s a turning to the Sovereign God who  is worthy of our trust.  One leads to the other.

And this Sovereign God?  He knows my girl right there.  He knows her better than I do. And He knows her gifts even better than I do.  And He loves her and knows what’s before her and behind.  And He loves her right where she sits. He sees where she will be and what she will do.  My prayer is that she always takes the time to “Be still and know that He is God” and that she’ll know that no matter what the decisions ahead, there’s grace that fills in the gaps, and the love of God that can fill, direct, redeem and renew and restore. Oh, and all of the pressure regarding “life changing” decisions?  Yes, I know they are important, but all is well for those who cling to the God who doesn’t change.  There’s strength in trusting the God who truly Has us in His hand and can use all things for the good for those who love Him and seek Him. Yes, in quietness and trust is our strength. Thankful for that Truth today.

Blessings ~
Heather

 

 

 

 

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resurrection

To resurrect is to rise up.  It is to bring back to life, to revive.  From what?

From darkness to light

From despair to hope

From bondage to freedom

From defeat to victory

From disease to vitality

From lost to found

From death…physical, spiritual, emotional…death to LIFE (physical, spiritual, emotional).

Love that.

There a story in scripture of when Jesus healed a paralytic. He said, “which is easier to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven’ or to say ‘Get up and walk’?  But so that many of you will know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, I say to you, ‘Get up, pick up your bed, and go home.’  And he got up and went home. But when the crowds saw this, they were awestruck and glorified God…”  Matthew 9:5-8

See, we’re awestruck when we see things in the physical. Seeing is believing. And we’re awestruck by the beauty of the resurrection, the truth that Jesus went from death to life, a physical death to life. I mean, it’s , well,…un believable!!  But it happened.

But here’s the thing… the resurrected life doesn’t begin with physical death.  It begins when we’re brought from death to life, spiritually. The physical manifestation is merely an outer manifestation of what happens internally when we ask Jesus to forgive us for our sins, to redeem us. Like a life-saving remedy that kills disease and restores vitality and health, the resurrection power of Christ attacks the sin that numbs and steals and invades.  Sin always takes a toll, sometimes in silence, sometimes not.  It invades and changes people.  It steals the joy, numbs the life, dulls the senses, robs us of the missions, the passions, the journeys we were created to take in our lives.  Sin blocks the relationship with God that we were created for.  Jesus paying that penalty restores it.

So, when I hear the word ‘resurrected’, I think not only of Heaven for those who have gone before us.  I think of me.  I think of the hope He daily restores in my life, the way God’s grace has so resurrected and revived this heart of mine a thousand times and more.  I think of the very personal way that He rolls away the stones in my life and helps me to walk in the freedom of being loved and chosen and whole.  He doesn’t call us to tombs of darkness, death, and endings.  He calls us to Light, and freedom, and life….and beginnings.  The resurrected life isn’t all about Heaven and the future and us. It’s about being ALIVE right here, right now, free from chains that bind and hindrances that cling.  A few thoughts on the Resurrection.  May your Easter be blessed, and may the days ahead be full of the risen hope that comes through knowing the love of the Savior.

Blessings,

Heather

“Now this is (not was or will be…IS) eternal life that they know You, the Only True God, and Jesus Christ whom  you have sent.”  John 17:3

 

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