Tag Archive | faith

Rare Air

Last night I conversed with a woman who’s known me nearly 20 years.  You know you are really getting up there when your friendships last decades. 

You know you are blessed as well…

We have been running our spiritual race side by side since our early college days, where our competitive natures led us to some type of outside obstacle course for Freshman.  I will refrain from sharing the rest of that story as she tends to gloat at its ending (even though I did in fact, win) however looking back at it now I wonder if it was symbolic? We were learning how to finish our race even then.

Although she and I have stories that are unique, we have “The Call” that is in common.  The Call to live for Him, and we started it together, our sophomore year of college.

I remember those early days of fire, where we were so hungry and so thirsty that nothing could satisfy.  We laid down our greatest desires at the time.  We have been laying them down ever since, and leaning on each other for support during the very difficult moments.  As of late there have been many…

I think God is gracious in that He gives us these people to support us when we are faced with overwhelming obstacles.  I get so frustrated with the journey and what all it has entailed, but I look around and see that I am surrounded by many who are on the same path.  Many who are living extraordinary lives for Him. 

Even if they seem ordinary to us.

I told my friend last night, “We are breathing rare air.” That was the phrase that had come to me.  I don’t believe this phrase is reserved for Presidents and Nobel Peace Prize winners.  No.  I believe that when we are being counter cultural, when we are doing the opposite of what the world says to do, when we are holding on for dear life (and even give up, but He is still holding us), when we are being the standard in a generation that has none, well, we are rare.

And the air is thinner up here.

And yet we are still breathing.

I am reminded of those in Hebrews 11.  Those who are in the “Hall of Faith”.  The Word says that the world was not worthy of them.  Dare I say God feels the same about us?  Those of us who are here now, enduring, persevering, sacrificing, suffering long?  Dare I say He sees us and knows our sacrifice and the very depths of it?  Knows we have given our lives even if not physically but emotionally, mentally, intellectually, socially?  And yes, even some physically?

It is a rare thing to believe in something supernatural.  In something you cannot see.  And even rarer to demonstrate that belief by the actions you choose.  To follow Him, knowing that you may not get what you want.  But in the end, really, don’t we all just want Him?

In my younger days I would have thought since He is all I want then nothing else will matter.  But now I see, it is Him just wanting to be first.  It is Him just wanting me to want Him more than anything.  Of course He has good things for us.  Of course He wants us to enjoy this life.  But not if we enjoy it more than Him…

My friend shared last night that He was giving us grit.  Yes, I agreed, and went into a story about a prophetic word I received years ago.  He said he was giving me backbone then.  That word was about 9 years ago.  If I was getting backbone then I cannot imagine what other body parts he developed in the time since of this journey.

There are times I feel slain and I am reminded of Job’s cry.

“Though He slay me yet will I trust Him”.

It is not an easy posture for one’s heart.  But He never promised it would be easy.  He only promised He would be with us.

And the blessing is that He is in His people. 

And they are with us too.

Nearly 20 years later…

SHALOM

 

 

New Beginnings: Miracles In the Mundane

I was standing near her grave feeling a little awkward because he was standing there too.  Never could you have told me we would be in this position (on speaking terms, let alone at her grave).  I had come there a little early with a friend so I could have alone time to think about them; the women who had gone before me.  The ones who paved the way.

Years ago when my grandmother passed I never visited the cemetery.  I didn’t see a need to, she wasn’t there.  Instead she was with her Maker.  Now that both of them are gone I have found the grave to be a place of connection.  I connect with Him.

I connect with them.

So when he asked me if he could come too, well, I was understandably hesitant.  We hadn’t really spoken in two years, when everything happened.  When I shut the door to further communication.  So meeting with him in such a vulnerable place would be a risk.  But one I felt Holy Spirit was leading me to take.

My bestfriend was there with me.  And really she is my sister.  She’s been by my side since I was 14 years old.  We fell out in college (over what, neither of us can remember) but she was already grafted into my family by then.  My mom and gramma held on to her.  I think they were saving her for me for when I would be mature enough to value her.

And oh how I value her…

It was a rainy day, although it wasn’t currently raining, and I was fighting a fierce cold.  So inconvenient considering the world was dealing with a pandemic with the same symptoms.  We kept taking my temperature and I was assured I didn’t have this illness, this COVID-19.  But I did have a cold and it wasn’t letting up.  I was just going to have to push through.

He and I didn’t embrace when we met out of precaution because he’s older, but I felt his love just the same.  We stood there and talked and it was clear to me he finally had gotten it.

“Thank you for calling me out on my sh$t,” he said.  I appreciated his frankness.  He was finally demonstrating those qualities I had desired for so long: humility, ownership of wrongdoing, maturity.  These were qualities I had wanted in a male counterpart.  In the past I had wanted these men to see that me walking out of their lives was the worse thing to have happened and they needed to get it together to get me back.  But they wouldn’t.  Now standing here in front of this man, my own father, I realized he was the one who really needed to get it.  And he did.

He finally did.

I was guarded but he still made me laugh and even tear up.  “You are mine,” he said.  “You will always be mine.  You can hate me but that will never change.”  And I was immediately reminded of the Father’s love, and of my mother’s (both are the same really).  It was evident that was the love that was in his heart.

He and I are closer in physical distance than we have been my whole life.  I told him God was giving him a new beginning.  Now I can see that He is giving us a new beginning.

I feel the Father has said the warfare that has come against our relationship these 30+ years is finally over.  He is giving us time.  Just as He did with my own mother.

The Father has been so merciful with me.  I have experienced great pain and heartache within the area of relationships and family, yet He has chosen to move and bring restoration and redemption.

It has not been easy, nor will it be.  But He has still been working, bringing about His promises in His own time.  And for that I am grateful.

He is still producing miracles.

Even in the mundane.

P.S, Here is a pic from my 37th b day!  Fierce and Fabulous 😊😉

 

SHALOM

Thoughts of An Introvert

I am sitting in my living room on an overstuffed cream chair with a cup of green tea and a book on grief. The crackle of the candle on the window sill is almost drowned out by the ocean wave sounds coming from my speaker. I can smell the scent of pumpkin roll coming from said candle and wish once again that it would never run out. It’s the perfect setting to wind down to.

I had a networking event today of which another introvert called me out on being introverted. She voiced my inner thoughts on being grateful that I had made it out and yet I was simultaneously looking forward to when I would leave.

I did get involved in a few good conversations on travel and such and was encouraged enough that I only left a half hour early. But then, so also did the host…

I am becoming very aware of my introverted ways particularly when I compare myself to my more extroverted friends. When I receive lengthy texts flooding my phone with information I get overwhelmed. When I am invited to several events at once I feel the same. I even do not scroll often on social media because taking in so much information on a variety of people (most of which I never talk to in person) is too much for me. Normally I post. I post about me and the people in my direct sphere. I can handle that. But anything more, feels too much.

Still I love connecting. Usually it happens in small groups like this past weekend when I hosted a friend to share on Mary Kay products. I was able to offer appetizers and a warm and cozy space. I love hosting. Especially in this house which perfectly fits me.

This house has been such a comfort. It is cozy and warm and I feel like I am being hugged at all times. I finally got my bookcase up and tomorrow my loveseat will be delivered. The living room will be complete and all the furniture is now purchased. It is just a matter of wall decor…

I never dreamed I would so enjoy interior decorating or have such a knack for it. But God knew. I stand in awe that He had a place for me. I think about all the places I wanted before I found this house and they were not for me. But it was not because there wasn’t a home for me, there was. It was because they were not the right fit. There was one particular home I really really wanted. I had fallen in love with that house. It hurt me when it did not work out but there was a lesson in that. He was teaching me something even in it falling through.

He has purpose in all things.

Tomorrow I have a long day ahead and I know I will need to get as much rest as I can. I know myself. I know my energy levels. I know when I will reach my end and when I have the capacity for certain engagements.

There are so many joyous times in this season and still sad times. A friend said that watching my life is like reading a good book. I concur. I feel that way sometimes. Like when I go on amazing trips with friends or shopping and catch a good deal or meet with a new client for my business. It is a fabulous life indeed. But still not without its difficulties.

I realize the difficulties have made me more compassionate. I have such a heart for those who experience tragedy or loss or suffering in a way that I did not before.

Again, He has purpose in all things.

Even in the hard things.

Especially in those…

SHALOM

A Rocky Christmas

It is Christmas morning. I’m sitting on a comfy couch near a cozy fire drinking a cup of coffee. The tree is small but welcoming and although there are only two presents under it they are wrapped in love. I’m visiting with a woman who goes back to my childhood. She’s the only one I was able to bring with me from that time and for that I hold on to her fiercely. She is mine. And she, like me, did not want to face the holidays alone, so we are facing them together.

I have to admit this life the Father has painted is full of marvelous things. Like yesterday when we drove up the Rocky Mountains and let them take our breath away. Their voluminous size were terrifyingly exhilarating. At once I was reminded at how great the Father is and yet at the same time, so intimate.

It is a wonder.

We laughed and drank and skated and cooked. We did what people talk about doing with their families. Visiting historic landmarks, taking car trips to the mountains, basking in being a family…

Our sisterhood is something I will always be grateful for. This woman walked me down the aisle not on the happiest day of my life but on a day when I needed to do what was most difficult. She stayed two weeks longer when everyone left to make sure I would be ok for my birthday. She has been my rock when I couldn’t see Him anymore…

I could still see Him through her.

And of course she is not the only one. But I want to honor her in this moment in time because she is worthy of being honored. I don’t know what my plans would be if she had not extended her love. If she had not extended her time…

As I get older I hear about others who spend the holidays alone. I have yet to have that experience but I finally realize it is not something I am exempt from. Life is never what we think it will be.

But for now I see the Father’s provision. My dear friend came over and took Christmas pictures of me in my new home, stayed over for hours of fellowship and then came back the next day to drop me off at the airport. I had been visiting with her family previously and was the recipient of more fellowship, more community, more love.

I have known their family for quite some time. They have seen me transform into the woman I am today. They too were there that day I walked down the aisle. They have been there every step of the way.

As life moves along and friends date, get married and have babies, I deal with the weight of my circumstances. I have none of those things. And that is the “rocky” part. The pain, the loss, the trauma…

But this is what I do have…I have snow tubing near the Rocky Mountains Christmas Day. I have waking up to a fire, a cup of coffee and a dear friend who loves me unconditionally. I have a woman who is lavishing a mother’s love upon me in a way that is desperately needed. A new home that came when I least expected and is perfectly tailored for me. Women who have been on this journey with me for more then a decade and even though their life circumstances have changed, they include me in them. They invite me into their family traditions for the holidays. We play spades and bake cookies and enjoy each other. I have provision and style and love. The love is not in the form I thought it would be in. It does not negate the grief and trauma I am still recovering from. It does not fulfill the deep longings of my heart I experience every day and have experienced since that faithful day I submitted to Him at age 19. Giving up the man I wanted to marry at age 22. But it does give me HOPE.

Everyday I wake up, I look at the home He provided and I have hope. He does give us the desires of our hearts. He does manifest His eternal promises in the natural. He does want us to have good things in this life.

He does give His children good gifts…

And that is the reminder of this season. The true meaning of Christmas. A celebration of God sending Yeshua to offer hope for the world. I am always in aww that somehow He chose me to be His. I know I couldn’t have “earned” that right by any great efforts of my own. Believe me I tried. But still somehow I got adopted. I got engrafted into His family. For that I am eternally grateful.

He is my ABBA and I know out of all the gifts He has given me, I am most grateful for that one.

To be His daughter. To be His Love.

To be His.

Merry Christmas from The Rockys☺️☺️☺️.

SHALOM

Moving By Faith

Yesterday I made the move.  And it was right after I spent the holiday out of town with dear friends. 

I had packed everything ahead of time because I didn’t want to be stressed the night before trying to get things together (after my flight got in).  I am a great planner and I knew planning was going to be key to getting ready for the new season.  Still, there are some things you simply cannot plan for…

The night before the move, my good friend picked me up from the airport and we enjoyed our fleeting moments together.  She will be entering her own new season soon which also involves moving so I am savoring all of my time with her.  She agreed to spend the night and we started the next day at 7 am.  I needed to pick up the U-haul truck and make it to my house by 9am.  We were making good time and decided to stop for coffee and breakfast.  Little did we know we were going to need the sustenance!  I had a few other friends coming to help but I was relying on the movers I had hired to be the real muscle.  In the past my mom and I always hired movers.  We did this because we did not have family, or men, to help.  We were always doing things on our own and independence was ingrained in me at a young age.  I had friends who had large families and men in their families that would help them relocate.  I always envied that about them…

Well about 30 minutes after my friends and I started moving I realized the movers I had hired were MIA.  I called them and was initially told they had the wrong time down (even though they were the ones who had chosen the time).  Then I was told they were stuck in traffic (which I knew was a bold face lie because we had been out and there was no one traveling the day after Black Friday).  So I cancelled the movers and my friends picked up the slack.  They were amazing.  For 2 and a half hours we created assembly lines, passed boxes to and fro and took trips back and forth between houses.  We even stuffed ourselves in the front of a U-Haul truck due to lack of space!  (Shout out to Lo for being a real G) LOL.  And the crazy part about it all is, WE HAD FUN.  We laughed and sang to the music and talked.  It was a great time of fellowship and comraderie and I knew it was the Father.  He was giving me people.  He was giving me a longtime desire of my heart.

There have been several things that have happened in this moving process that has shown me His love and one of them is His use of people.  There were some things I simply could not plan for and He has shown me He is the ultimate planner.  People would pop up at just the right time.  My neighbors who I needed to borrow plyers from.  My pastor who’s time is already limited and yet has made it a point to fix anything at my house and breakdown the large items I need to get rid of.  His sister who has been so much like a mom to me in this season has been present to look at houses and rejoice with me when I found the right one.  My friends, who cleaned the house and helped me physically move.  My realtor who took some appliances I needed to dispose of last minute (not to mention the one who actually found this house when I had given up).  Even my personal trainer who was squeezed in front of the U-Haul who I’ve only known for 2 months.  People, people, people.  God has given me people.

God will fill up the lack.  He will provide and meet the need however He so chooses.  And this is how He has chosen in this season with me.

There were some hard times this week emotionally.  The holidays usually are hard for me and now even more so.  I am still working through my grief and disappointments.  There are changes in my relationships due to the new seasons.  There are changes in my relationship with God.  But every morning I wake up in this new house and I feel His peace.  I walk upstairs and my breath is taken away all of over again.  This house is symbolic of hope for the future.

My friends and I are walking out a different path then those who are not chosen.  We struggle with how different it is.  We so want to be “normal”.

“Singleness is getting awkward,” she said.  I laughed but I knew it was true.  It has been awkward, I thought.  I am a little older and so I knew that that played into my perception.  It is also painful, I thought, but didn’t share.  I didn’t want to project my pain onto her although, I have so appreciated that I have been able to be completely honest with her in my journey.  I have so appreciated that while others transition into building families and focusing on their loved ones, I have people around me who are still in it.  They are still walking out this path of waiting.  It is comforting to have others who understand and empathize with the journey.

I am grateful for how the Father has moved in my life.  He has been very intentional with what He has blessed me with and the opportunities He has given.  He has also been intentional with what He has not allowed.  Only He knows how we are wired.  The intimate desires of our hearts and what will bring about His best in us.

I have changed a lot in this season.  Life does that.  While some may think it is not for the good, I disagree.  I think we need to be balanced out in our perception of life.  I think we need to understand the sufferings of humanity to understand the compassion of Christ.  If we don’t go through dark times we will never be relatable.  I have had to learn how to be relatable.

Thank You Father for how You have moved in my life.  Thank You for showing Your Hand and making it known that I am Yours.  Even when I feel alone.  You are always there.

SHALOM

 

Finding Value In The Process

These days I find myself looking for a new home. The journey (as always) has been interesting. About a month ago I fell in love with a house. It had all of the stuff I wanted and then some. It checked off my check boxes and created a few new ones. The seller was an investor and had remodeled, it seemed, with me in mind. I was initially disappointed to learn that the taxes were significant. I’m a first time buyer and have been coached and supported by others around me who are more experienced. This tax situation, I thought, is going to be a problem. But when I ran the details by my closest and dearest who are more experienced on the matter, instead of being deterred, I was encouraged. Apparently the issue of taxes was minimal compared to what I would be receiving in return. Well I was surprised and pleased by this response. I had let go of the home and laid it down. I have been trained to do so and I think that is my first line of thinking because of this training. But even after revisiting the idea and then getting excited at the prospect, I still held it loosely.

“Is this my home Father?” I asked. In response all I received was peace. I didn’t feel like He was saying it was. I feel like He was saying “Regardless, I’m with you.”

That house didn’t work out. Though it had been on the market for months and the seller kept dropping the price (probably from desperation) a day before I would have made an offer it was taken off the market. Someone got to it first. I told my realtor it wasn’t mine or else nothing could have stopped me from getting it. I have wavered back and forth in that thinking as we have looked at one house after another after another. I can’t seem to find one comparable in my price range.

Now God has confirmed the character and trust worthiness of my realtor. And He has made a way for me to take the first time homeownership classes that initially fell through. And He has not stifled this desire for me to have my own. So the promise must be there.

But so is the process.

When I shared my exasperation with my realtor her response was, “Welcome to home ownership. This is the process.”

A couple of weeks ago I needed to get my fingerprints done for the upcoming tax season for my business. It seemed like a simple feat until I got the run around and ended up going through a few hoops to get it done. In the midst of the chaos I said to myself, “Why is this such a process?!”

And immediately I heard, “Why are you surprised?”

I knew the Father was speaking to me that I have been through other processes before and I have seen how they have prepared me for the promise. Specifically with my business and where He is taking me with it. I can look back and see His intentionality with using waiting to cultivate trust in Him and humility. He worked on my character when I would have been ruled by self and pride.

Often we do not like the process. It can be painful and difficult. In this season I have been shocked at the depths of the process.

However I know there is value in it.

A while ago when talking to a friend about waiting she said, “Nicole the promise does not negate the process.” So true. And to that I would add, “The process prepares you for the promise.”

Looking at the life of Joseph, he went through so much. More then I would ever want to go through in all honesty. Yet eventually his circumstances changed and he was promoted for the final time.

What Joseph was given to steward was greater then he could have possibly imagined.

Looking back on my journey I see that I thought I could do the works. I could check off my checklist and fulfill my call and make my Father proud. But I overestimated myself and underestimated the path I would walk. Thankfully, even in my naïveté I was guaranteed that He would walk with me. It was Him that would complete the work, not me.

And the body, the cloud of witnesses, the ecclesia, well, they would be there too.

“You are not alone”, someone said today in the midst of the prophetic flowing. It was the first time I felt His presence in that way in 4 years. I was in awe.

“The new is here”, came another word.

It is a new day. My hope is that the process is ending and the promise is coming. My good friend Lianna Mueller did an amazing blog on this topic. We are learning to hope without expectations.

I know that God will do it. I just don’t know how. And that is faith. If He said it, He will do it. And if He doesn’t then it wasn’t what is best for me. But regardless, we must believe that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

SHALOM

Thoughts on Suffering

Today I got to spend the day with a woman who has been used greatly in my family.  Decades ago she became one of my grandmother’s very best friends.  When my grandmother passed away, she was there, standing in the gap.  She and my own mother grew closer and I knew she was like a surrogate mom for my mother.  A godmother.  Since my mom passed away, she has been faithful in sending me cards and pictures and other tokens of her affections.  Always reverencing their love for me (my mother and grandmother), reminding me of what I struggle so often to remember.

That I am loved.

me and linda

Today she spoke about her battle with breast cancer.  She has in fact battled this disease three times.  She was honest in her speech, sharing that yes, emotionally she struggled with this 3rd diagnosis.

“Lord, again?  Haven’t I already been through this?  Haven’t I already passed the test?”

This resonated with me greatly, as I thought about my own journey in waiting, and relationships, and surrender.

“Lord, haven’t I already passed this test?” I’ve wondered so often.

But His answer to her may not be the answer you hear in the pulpit, or online, or at a popular mega church, because it’s not a popular message.

It’s a message of the cross.

“Yes daughter,” He says to her.  “But I got you!  I got you!” 

I am discovering that one can experience and overcome various tests, trials and tribulations.  Even in the same area.  They can have those experiences and keep going through them.  Again, and again, and even again.

We see this in the Bible.  What does God say to Paul when he asks to have the thorn removed from him three times?

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”  (2 Cor 12:8)

And even with Christ in the garden of Gethsemane, crying out to the Father to remove His cup.

“Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, ‘Sit here while I go and pray over there.’ And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.  He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’ (Matt 26:36-39).

I can’t imagine the depth of sorrow Christ felt to ask to be removed from this experience of physical suffering.  I can only imagine it must have been so great because He also knew all the world would be saved through it, and yet it was so painful that He  still did not want to experience it.

And in both cases (Paul and Christ’s) God basically said, “My will is for you to suffer.”

We do not like suffering.  Our flesh hates it.  Whether it is physical, emotional or mental.  When we are hungry we want food.  When we are tired we want sleep.  When we have to use the restroom we find the nearest toilet.  We do not like being uncomfortable.  And suffering is, in my opinion, the worst kind of uncomfortable.

But suffering in the kingdom, is highly regarded.  We cannot get away from that fact, and any gospel that is preached without the teaching of suffering is erroneous.

2 Timothy 2: “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…

One of my struggles in this season is not the teaching of suffering.  I think I understood that early on in my faith, that I would need to do hard things for Him.  That I would need to lay down my life.  But I didn’t know about long suffering.  I didn’t know about the lengths and depths that He could call one to.  I didn’t know that He could call you over and over (and even over) again to experience difficult circumstances.  And I didn’t know He could give you power to sustain you through it.

I got to speak with some women today who are related to my grandmother’s friend.  They too are in seasons of recovery from loss, grief and trauma.  They too are overcoming things they never imagined they would go through.  And I can see the changes.  I can see there is more humility, there is more kindness.  Our hearts are tender now…

Suffering changes you.  But if you know Him, it can change you for the good.  He can work it for the good…

When Paul cries out to have his thorn removed, we find out why God said ‘no’.

“And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure (2 Cor 12:7).

He was humbled through this thorn.  He was sustained by His grace.

I realize the Father has been after something in me in this season.  Something that I didn’t know was there.  It was distrust.

I have known that the way I have related to the Father has always been intimate and passionate, zealous and possessive  (on both sides).  Yes, I have loved Him.  But I have consistently struggled with trusting Him.

Looking back on my journey, I would trust Him to a certain extent.  And with my singleness I would only trust Him up until a certain number of years (we have passed that number of years by the way).  Of course, consciously I was not aware I was doing this.  But He knew.

At the service today my friend Linda testified about her “thorn”.  She testified that the Father would not remove it, but that He would keep her through it.  She also testified that she would worship anyway.

Wow.  To worship Him anyway.  Even after the third time.  That is the faith He is after.  That is the call for His chosen.

I am grateful that even in my pain and grief and anger, He has never changed.  His love and loyalty are steady and even though I don’t experience the high feelings of emotions I did all those years in my journey, I sense His love as strongly as I used to.

And for the first time, in such a long time, I trust Him.

I trust Him like I used to.  I trust Him like I did as a babe.  I trust Him like before the tests and trials.  Before the losses and setbacks.  Before the confusion over my identity.  I trust Him.  Because now I can see (as I have in the past but forgot) that He really is for me.  That His choices really are in my best interest.  Especially when it comes to relationships.

He protects me.  Like a good father does His child.

I am His.

What I know now, that I didn’t know earlier in my faith, was that His way somehow feels/is harder and at the same time protects.  I also did not know that His way does not negate (long) suffering.  That though He is for me, pain is inevitable.  And in life pain is inevitable. But at-least with Him it can be used for our good.

Because in order to reign with Him we must suffer.

That is the cross.  That is being a disciple.  That is being His.

SHALOM

 

Walking Together

ECCLESIASTES‬ ‭4:9-10‬ ‭AMP‬‬

“Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor; for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up.”

Over a year ago I watched my friend minister to her mother.  She hovered over her hospital bed, fed her with spoonfulls and played sermons from her favorite preacher online.  They prayed together and she tended to her every want and need.  I watched from my side of the hospital room in awe, knowing their history, knowing God was teaching me something.

He was teaching me forgiveness.

I knew in my heart that at that point in my life, I could not do what she was doing.  I could not tend to my own mother with such care and intimacy.  I had too much pain in my heart.  Little did I know, I would actually experience the loss of my mother before she would lose her own.  While my friend was in a long-term care situation, my experience was sudden and unexpected.  Yes, my mother had been sick for a long time, but that was nothing new.  She had been around for the last 20 years with her illness, why would I expect her not to be around for 20 more?

This weekend was my friend’s first Mother’s Day without her mom.  It was on my heart to spend the weekend with her.  I really only had 8 months under my belt of walking this unique path before her, but that seemed to be enough for Holy Spirit.  Indeed He had used me to walk with her last year through this experience, while I myself was still grieving.

I myself am still grieving.

But we made it through.  We attended a women’s event that talked about friendship and sisterhood and God’s intent for both.  We dialogued about our mothers and how we were continuing their legacies.  I was in awe to see how many similarities we had with our journeys.  In so many ways we were experiencing the exact same path.

She had a list of what she wanted to do and I strived to make those things happen.  Good food, good movies, good company.  I only had one thing on my heart and that was a 90’s R&B throwback concert from a group I grew up enjoying.  I knew that if my mom were here, that’s what we would have done.

So that’s what we did.

I’ll be honest and say I cringed every time I heard those words, “Happy Mother’s Day!”.  I was annoyed every time I saw others posting their pictures of their happy families that were so full and overflowing.

There was no way around it, their cups were overflowing in an area where mine ran dry.

We made the best of what we had.  While at the concert the group we saw talked about family and having your family here with you.  Well, my friend and I had unique situations with our families.  I placed my hands on the women beside me.  They were now my family.

This season has been eye opening on many levels.  I have learned not to be presumptuous with God (a continuous lesson).  I have learned that the borders to His way are much farther out then I would have dreamed.  He does things in the way He chooses.  Especially with His chosen.

While at the church service we went to yesterday a young mother and wife shared her heart about what God was teaching her in this season of motherhood.  She had devastating events happen with her children and was wrestling with fears and insecurities and hurt.  But in the midst of those circumstances she was learning joy in the journey.  That was exactly what He has been teaching me.

Joy in the journey.

I realize He can teach His children the same lesson while walking through extremely different circumstances.  We can feel the same pain, the same loss, even though we do not have the same journey.  We are individually made and need different things to grow.  My heart is now tender towards those who experience suffering and pain from whatever source of devastation in this world.  Indeed, there seem to be so many sources.

While standing there yesterday at the church service, I marveled at God.  He walked me to this place in my journey I never thought He would allow.  My friend felt the same.  He walked us to this place and we were in shock.  Had we not been faithful?  Had we not been promised to reap?  But instead we were called to continue being pruned.  To experience what some will never experience.  At least in this area.

I worshipped at the service.  My friend did too.  We worshipped our way through the service celebrating mothers.  And when the worship leader asked only the mothers to sing, I listened for my own.  I know she is in the eternals, cheering me on.  I know she is more alive than I am at this time, and I know she is singing over me, joining all the mothers, singing over their daughters.  I had to believe that in that moment, because I did not have her to experience it in the natural.

I realize I am healing now.  There is no way I could have raised my hands the way I did at the service a year ago or even a month ago.  I would have been too afraid.  How could I open my heart to surrender all when now I know more of what the cost entails?  But I was able to.  And it is because I am healing.

He did not do things at all the way I expected.  He did things His way.  He provided family His way.  He gave provision His way.

My heart still longs for those promises He gave years ago.  It still desires what I see so many around me receiving.  But I am realizing what I have been being taught for so many years now.

I am an eternal being.

I am a citizen of heaven.

This is not my home.

But one day I will be home.  One day I will experience the fulfillment of all I desire, all that He promised.

And that has to be enough.

He has to be enough.

SHALOM

 

I Wish That God Would (Just) Say Yes

There are memories now. They catch me off guard when they make their way from subconscious to consciousness. From the recesses and dark crevices of my mind. From back then to now as if now were  just minutes from then, instead of years.

The memories consist of her and I, always alone. And though the situations and circumstances change, the thing that stays the same is my longing for more.

I remember we were at someone’s wedding reception. It was one of her friend’s kid’s. We had been to so many it’s hard for me to remember who’s what we went to. But I do remember we were there, and how much I wanted my own.

I was 27 then, around the age where elders told me I was an old maid, but when the average of my generation were just pairing up. Marrying off and settling down to have their children. Apparently millennials were waiting longer to get married.

Still, I’m pretty sure they didn’t wait this long.

At this particular gathering we had a good time. We put on those silly costumes and masks and dressed up for the photo booths so many people have at these parties. We were mother and daughter and this was a moment of bonding. It wasn’t easy back then, celebrating for others when my own desire nawed relentlessly from the inside, but I did it. Because I had hope.

I remember sitting by her side, at the park, discussing our future. Or rather my future. It was unsaid that mine was really hers and that she would be there when our dreams were fulfilled. My dreams were her dreams so I think it’s safe to say they were ours. We sat there and talked about my grandma and I felt the pain of there just being us 2. I thought nothing could be worse then there just being us 2.

I was wrong.

I read C.S Lewis’, “A Grief Observed” recently. I read it within 2 days. I highlighted every other page, text messaged my friends the parts that resonated and then gifted my pastor her own copy.  She is grieving too.

I was so in awe of Lewis’ transparency. I couldn’t believe a theologian scholar could be so in touch with his emotions, and that he could adequately express exactly how I feel in this season. (To me) It’s like he’s swinging at God, taking punches. The religious mind would be horrified at such a picture but I think once a level of suffering is experienced, one understands that God Himself gets it, allows it, and just dodges the swings.

A flood of questions have come to my mind since I stopped running. They take turns pouring out like the memories that push themselves to the front of my mind. Mostly they start with, “Why”.

Why did You do it this way?

Why did you take Your presence away when I would need it most?

Why could you not have just said ‘yes’?

I’ve been on this journey long enough to know He is not entitled to us.  He does not have to answer to us. But sometimes, He wants to. Sometimes (and in my case, most times) He responds because we are in relationship together. So I keep asking the questions even though I don’t have many answers. Still, I think apart of Him (and maybe all of Him) is happy I have made this step.

Now atleast we are talking and I am not running.

At least not as fast.

SHALOM

Filling Her Shoes

I was raised in a 2-parent household.  But not in the traditional sense.  Instead of a mom and dad I had a mom and grandmother, whom I fondly referred to as “gramma”.

1927723_531526294958_3256_n (1)

When I think back on my childhood, it consisted of these two women.  We moved away from extended family when I was young so they were all I had.

Things weren’t easy, but I never went without.  Birthdays and Christmas were always a big deal.  I woke up early, excited to open the things I had written down on my Christmas list.  And things that I hadn’t.  Meals were always provided for, even if I qualified for “free lunch” at school because of our income.  Good night’s sleep were had, even if my mom and I shared a bunk bed and a room.  They made sure to keep me out of inner city schools even if I had to catch a few city buses to get to the suburban school, or lie about my address.  We did what we had to do.

My mom and I had our ups and downs and my grandmother prayed vehemently for us to stay in the ups.  Sometime around her own passing, I can see, God started answering her prayers.  He filled the gaps.  He started a plan of restoration and healing and love.  There was always love there but sometimes it was hard for me to see it in the midst of the brokenness.

My most fondest memories are towards the end.  The three months He gave us when the brokenness was healed.  The humility and redemption and love.  Now I could see the love from her shining so brightly.  Every time I came home and she greeted me at the door, wanting to hear about my day.  The grief she held when I was being persecuted by my employer.  It was like they were persecuting her too.  Her presence at the hospital when I had surgery, never leaving my side.  The safety I felt, sitting next to her in Bible study, learning the Word together, sharing the gospel.  Sitting between her legs as she braided my hair, like she did when I was a kid.  Playing pool together and her rooting for me to win.

Her, always rooting for me to win.

43025503_10104919424241258_7060733046995025920_n (1)

Those are the things I didn’t know I would miss.  I only thought about the things I wouldn’t.  You can never anticipate the loss.

My one friend asked, “How can anyone fill her shoes?  How can anyone, when she was your biggest supporter?  Your most faithful ride or die?”  I understood what she was saying, but I thought about it and knew the answer.  “You are right, there is no one person who can fill them.  But that is why the Father gave me so many people to fill them.  He gave me one to sew my clothes like she did because I can’t sew for the life of me (and have no desire to learn).  He gave me another whom I have viewed as a mother figure for the last 12 years.  He gave me sisters while my own refused to speak to me.  And of course He became Father, when my own abandoned me at 2 years old.

29541213_10104572623487748_6355332046294045696_n (1)

But the truth is her shoes have been so great to fill and I have battled this last year with that fact.  I didn’t know how her passing would affect me.  I thought I could bounce back or be strong or pull myself up by the bootstraps like I had so many times before with different hard things.

Instead I have ran from the pain.  I have self medicated.  I have retreated in isolation instead of choosing to trust the One who has never let me down. 

I have felt let down.

Anger has been a constant companion, but I know that is only a mask for the pain.

There have been so many days I have felt alone.  Not just because I am single with no immediate family, but because His presence has been so far away.

I remember standing at the grave site, before they buried her.  I stood at my grandmother’s grave for the first time since her passing.  I never had a desire to go because I knew her spirit wasn’t there, but now, there is where I needed to remember.  I stood there and wept and so many women stood over me.  They held me and wept too.  My loss was there loss.  This was how He was now manifesting His presence.  Through them.

It is now one year later and I didn’t grieve the way I would have liked to.  I wanted to check off my checklist with my healing process. But some things are too great to be neatly categorized onto a list.

Today I will meet with the women who have been family to me.  Being with them is life and love and comfort.  We will have French-pressed coffee and share our hearts.  I will have my first counseling appointment for the first time this year and I will take a road trip with a woman who has been relentlessly by my side these past 18 months.

We will meet other women, one blood related, one not, but both who love me dearly.

As difficult as this last season has been, I am grateful for the people.  They avail themselves and restructure their lives just to be what I need.

They are love with skin on.

And even though the nature of our relationship has changed, E is there too.  Being what I need him to be in this season.  Rooting me on to heal.

I have to remind myself my mother chose to leave.  She was sick and she didn’t want to put me through the experience of longsuffering as a caregiver that she went through.  She also knew the people that I had in my life.  That I would be ok because of them.

There are times that I am alone and that is apart of my story.  But there are so many times where I don’t have to be.  For that I am grateful.

And I know, that even though I can’t sense Him, feel Him, the way I used to, He is there.

Always there.

Rooting me on.

And so is she.

 

SHALOM