Nothing to erase

Blessed 2018 ~ That we may grow in Connection with our Heavenly Father. In all circumstances and in all feelings. Connection, like hope, like joy, like love, is possible at all times.

Last year’s crises year may not have been crises after all.  Did it not feed me in ways I want to be fed?

The way I tasted joy, a gift for life.  The way I surrendered, a stress reliever. The way I view brokenness, for God to heal, in His timing, not my work, I can rest.

Life, so much more valuable today then this day last year or, any day in 2017. I do not want to go back and erase any hardship, moment of pain or tear shed.  Maybe not even moments of anguish for did the anguish ultimately not lead to Joy?

There had to be more and so I went looking.

Looking through pain.

I reached high and deep.

It is not until now, many many many moments later, that I see what I found:

  • The knowledge of Surrender: No outcome is mine to control.  No person is my responsibility, not even our children.
  • No healing needing to take place by my account.
  • Finding Soul Rest in the midst of war: The absence of thoughts.  In nothingness is everything.
  • Joy: In Joy is strength.  Joy is Delighting in unfailing Love.

 

I am spending quite some time looking back.  And it’s quite marvelous that the things I wrote about longing in the
beginning of the year, God has all touched.  So looking back on last year gives hope for the next year: It reminds me God is always faithful. So I spend not only time on looking back, but also on looking forward.  In that I hold on to 2 things… what is my heart longing for now, and what is God‘s longing for my soul?

Next up: My Word for 2018…

 

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Never did I not belong

Then little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  Jesus said: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”  When He had placed His hand on them, He went on from there.                                              Matthew 19

There is a big crowd.  Adults and children, from crippled old people to weaned babies.  People are happy; Jesus is among us. He is in our presence.  The countryside is beautiful with the absence of buildings.  There is one big tree that stands out.

Children are invited to come to Jesus.  The adults tell us to go.  No one is paying attention to Jesus’ friends who want to keep us children away.  They feel the need to protect Jesus; He probably does not have time for this.  But the children run ahead, so happy to be with Jesus.  I don’t run.  I simply let the crowd push me up, unsure I am allowed there too.  The children are running around Jesus; playing and laughing as He interacts with them.  I keep my distance, I feel uncomfortable, still not sure of my place.

Jesus catches my eye and He smiles at me.  There’s comfort.  I watch everyone play and have fun.  Sometimes I laugh at what I see happening, it sure is a fun sight.  He catches my eye again.  No matter how busy, no matter how much is happening around Him, He spots me from afar.  I smile back at Him and I have a warm fuzzy feeling inside.  Yet, I am still not playing, still not sure where I belong.  I feel out of place, and scared.

Over the next little while this keeps happening, as if Jesus is playing a game with me, without anyone knowing it seems.  Joy inside my heart.  And then, then Jesus motions me to come.  Very naturally the children jump in, they hadn’t even noticed I was not with them.  “Maddy, come on” they go, “Maddy come…”

Still unsure I get closer and when I am at arms length Jesus pick me up and sets me on His lap.  He puts His hand on my head and pushes me gently against His chest.  He knows.  As He continues to play, laugh and talk with all these children I just sit on His lap, His chest and hand being my comfort.  I find Rest and I fall asleep.  After I stayed there for some time, Jesus carries me over to the tree.  Without waking me up He lays be down.  There’s more children there, lovely resting. Children play, children sleep.

I belong.  Never did I not belong.

The tree is a comfortable place.  I am not bothered by it’s stature.  When I wake up I know it a lot better, I belong.  Now I giggle too.  I join in!  I don’t feel out of place at all.  At times Jesus still plays the eye game with me.  He still happens to catch my eye at the right time.  And He winks.  Him and I know.  There is this sweet connection and it tells me I can trust. I can enjoy.  I can play, and cry, and sleep.  I can talk, or be quiet.  Whenever I look at Him, He notices as if He was waiting for it.

I have grown.  I still sit on Jesus’ lap, listening but also chattering a whole lot.  I am not that little girl anymore, still a girl, always His little girl, but now, I notice.  I notice the Maddy’s in the crowd.  And with Jesus I play the eye game with them.  I wink them in.

 

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It’s paying off

Some years ago I started to record things I was grateful for.  In the midst of hardship I longed to notice things around me that were good.  Apparently this was life changing for Ann Voskamp who struggled with pain from the past and depression.

I kept at it but there were seasons I put the practice down for it was not as revolutionary for me as it was for Ann.  Hardship and emotional roller coasters increased and I was really trying to notice for I did believe we always have things to be grateful for but, it did not change me.

At times it was hard to even come up with one thing but with the practice always in the back of my mind, my list got longer slowly.  And just a few weeks ago I realized out of nowhere… this practice was actually paying off.  Being in emotional pain daily, with God guiding me and Tim to embrace it for we are not the ones who will control changing the pain, all I have is little things.  And do you know how amazing it is to be so delighted, truly deeply delighted, over chirping birds, or over a warm wind touching your face, over lavender scent, over a sweet potato dish, or over dew on grass that glisters as if there were diamonds all around?  Or over noticing a whole group of birds dancing and playing right in front of your porch where you are sitting, and you have never seen birds there like that ever before?

The years, the months, the days of recording are truly touching the depths of me.  This is what Ann talked about.  In the midst of deep deep suffering, God is still showing Himself and thus we can endure.  I still am, because of this.  And even though the joy may last a second, joy was there.  These small moments make me live on, they give me energy, they encourage and show me life IS good in the bad.  It makes me small, who am I to know such gifts? I want to shout out… friends… this is such a MIRACULOUS something.  If you are in pain, no matter what kind, God transforms through the little, the truly important.

 

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I want my name back and Love is not free

Hard and painful it’s been. Tim and I have not been spoken to for over a month.  The boys seem to take turns (unplanned) and as of right now, neither one is talking to us.  The home is being terrorized, things get broken and calling 911 is on the table.  We no longer have a life.

It’s very sad the boys can’t see what they’ve been given.  They have been given family, they have been given future, they have been given love.  But love is never free, someone is paying a price. It’s costing someone something.  And to the boys… it’s still a blaming game, they are not seeing fault in themselves, and things are getting worse.  And we realize (with the help of a team) that it’s being abused, we are being abused.  And so we need to change things around here.

We can’t love more, and we can’t do anything different.

As sad as it is, Tim and I need to withdraw emotionally.  We’ve been battling this for a long time.  We don’t want to withdraw; we took in children who needed a home and safety to love, not withdraw.  So I am broken.  Broken over needing to let go. Broken over not being able to love more or do something different.  And so sadly, I need my name back. Today the boys will hear (in a therapy session) that I am considering asking them to call me Maddy again.  For how can I let go when, when I hear ‘mom’, everything in me wants to rise up and love.  I need distance.  They need distance.  There were times Boy 1 stopped calling me mom and started calling me Maddy, out of anger. My name switch is done out of self-preservation and, love.

We dont know where we’re headed.  The future is unknown.  We still know all children from hard places can heal.  It’s just not something we can control or make happen on our own.  So we surrender and embrace our circumstances no matter how it goes against nature, or our will.

 

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In His eyes

The lady who touched Jesus’ cloak and was instantly healed.  Jesus stopped in His tracks and asked: “Who was the one who touched me?” This woman had to confess it was her, in front of all the crowd.  Rising shame.  Would He be mad? Would the people laugh?  Would they make fun of her?

I am watching, I’m part of the crowd.  I want to choose the woman’s side and stand by her but I am too worried about the crowd singling me out with her. So I don’t.  But I know what it is like to stand alone.  Surely she shouldn’t have to.  But I am too scared to be made fun of.  I won’t risk it!  So either way I don’t feel good. It’s either pain and quilt or shame and fear.

But there is a good I can choose.

Good.

There is good.  What is it?  Surely walking up to this woman laying in the dust, feeling so alone… afraid… ashamed… not knowing what she did was allowed.  Shame weakening her.  I reach out, one arm reaching underneath hers, one hand reaching for her hand.  She gets up in the steadiness of my body.  I let her lean into mine.  She’s no longer alone.  If there is to be any shaming, we’ll be shamed together.

We’re deadly afraid, not knowing what’s to come.  Both trembling on our feet, our hands shaking.  And then… there He is. We face the Lord.  And even though the crowd is loud and rowdy, mocking us, we see it in His eyes.  The woman, now my friend, has done what is good.  And I have chosen what is best.  We no longer hear the crowd.  The crowd has no meaning to us.  Because… it is in His eyes.  Her and I are one.  I’m grateful for what she did, her courage.  Without her I would not know His eyes.  I did not lose out.  I guess I was courageous too.

~ For I know the plan I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you hope and a future. ~

 

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Being like Him

We are there again… exhausted deep into our soul.  Sad, angry, hopeless, living in a stressful environment 24/7.

It’s been a week since Boy 1 spoke to me.  Blow ups are happening constintently and like never before do I see his manipulation and the fact that it is hard to trust him.  I am sad about him walking this path of not talking again, angry about the fact I feel he’s not pulling his weight. He could be going to therapy once a week, he could be showing us he’s all in by going to group therapy, and he certainly could put in every effort in school rather than ignoring all the help that is there for him.

I am that tired that I know it is okay to not pursue him right now.  I can take a break and make sure I stay well in it all.  So my schedule is emptier and the ‘only’ things I do is take care of the home chores, work just a little, drive them places, go on daily walks, sleep when I can, visit the boys’ soccer games, focus on my marriage, focus on the other 2 kiddos, sit with my Father on a very regular basis and meet only with people that understand or energize me. That is all I can take.

Still the anger and stress is getting to me.

Then my husband joins me on the front porch this morning, sharing his thoughts with me.  I am blessed with a husband who always strives to be better, who has the ability to SEE and always desires to be Compassionate and have Love.  He reminds me that we don’t want to become indifferent to our boy.  That we do not want to loose our compassion for him.  That our disappointment or anger can not take over.  We have to remember where he comes from, his reasons for his rollercoasters and getting out of control.  We have to keep working with his brokenness and let God fill us with Hope.  I start shaking my head as if to say yes yes yes. And even though my anger is trying to hold me back, I know Tim is right!  I realize it is okay that I am not fully pursuing this boy, that it’ll come back to me… I can take space for me, at the same time I can foster compassion and love.

So I get still even more… just trying to sit in God’s presence who in mysterious ways fills me up and changes me. Compassion will come back, love will overtake once again, I don’t have to worry about it.  We will always strive to be better!

 

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Art by Jean Keaton

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