Tag Archive | family

The Beautiful Challenge

I’m in Arizona right now visiting friends. The same friend I was maid of honor to just last year. The same friend who has relentlessly pursued me in the course of my grief and devastation.

When I learned my mom passed away she flew in from Haiti within days. 1,633 miles. She was on a business trip and instead of returning home to be with her new husband she came to be with me.

I’ve known this woman for several years and knew that her heart was of a rare purity, one that those who have it, also have a promise to see the Father (Matt 5:8).

During a time of recovery and healing my emotions have been everywhere, my thoughts equally as such. Her understanding and loyalty have been a great comfort.

These last few days we lived. We went on a Gondola ride with her hubby. We climbed the bear willow canyon on a fierce Jeep excursion. We laid out by the pool they have in their own back yard.

In addition to that I was treated to deep pools of bubble baths, wine and delicious meals. I have been catered to. And all in the name of my birthday.

E told me a while ago that when he has a difficult day, instead of using the word difficult, he says, “It was beautifully challenging”. I can look at my life and see that same theme. So many unexpected difficult hard parts. So many amazingly beautiful ones.

Yesterday while we made our way up the mountains my breath was taken away with the deep red browns, sharp rich greens and picture perfect blue skies. If I didn’t know it before, I know it now.

God is an Artist.

I knew what I was experiencing was something my mother and grandmother never did and maybe only dreamed of. I knew that my life was touched with beauty and that beauty was connected with the people He had sent to me when I didn’t know that I would need them.

I previously asked a question, “Lord, why did you take away Your presence when I would need it most?” But now I see He provided me people when I didn’t know that I would need them. And that now is when I would need them the most.

The Father places the solitary in families. I remember reading that passage of scripture years ago. I remember back then appreciating it, but still my heart yearned for my own.

It still does.

I’m realizing this life is “both and”. It is both the highs and the lows. It is both the light and the darkness. It is both the cross and the resurrection.

I have been in a season of recovery and therefore am more sensitive than normal (who knew that was possible?). My heart is tender and I need to be handled with care. God is so good at that, handling us with care and putting us around people who get our journey. Even if they don’t understand it, they love us enough to try.

I can look back on my life and see His intent towards me. He made His call clear from day 1. The call was to die. He is intimately acquainted with all of our ways. He knows those things that are near and dear. He knows when we are truly sacrificing.

I haven’t experienced this amount of pain ever, at least not without His presence.

But even that isn’t true.

His presence is everywhere…

I am grateful for these people who call me family. I am grateful to be adopted into the Father’s household of faith.

To have Sunday dinner and eat birthday cake and hear loved ones celebrate me. Like family. That is the care and tenderness of Him.

My heart is still aching every moment of every day. But part of that I know is good. It means I’m feeling when for so long I wasn’t.

It means I’m closer to healing.

My counselor has been so great and my friends have been so great and even though I don’t know when my healing will come I know He is surrounding me with His care.

At 36 my life doesn’t look at all the way I anticipated. Still, there is beauty in the midst of brokenness.

There is love in the midst of pain.

There is hope.

SHALOM

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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

Heartfelt

This weekend I had a hot date. With my mom that is. We played pool and had drinks and had fun. She won 2 out of 3 games but the fact that I even won 1 and came really close to winning another is impressive. She’s a pretty good player and I, on the other hand, am not 🙄🙄. But even though I’m not the best pool player that did not keep her from rooting for her baby girl😊. I marveled at her heart for me. She wanted me to win even if it was at the sake of her losing. That is the heart of a parent. A good parent that is…

In my Healing the Father Wound class someone shared a word of wisdom I marinated on. She said that parents are just adults who do not have it together. So true. As children we want them to have it together. Even as adult children. But who can say that they have perfect parents? No one.

I was so blessed by my mom’s heart to be “for me” and the fact that she would want me to do better than she did. The Father looks at the heart.

I’m grateful to have a mother with a good heart.

And there are so many around me with good hearts. There are so many who are “for me”. In this difficult season of waiting many continue to reach out. I know it is really the Father’s hand reaching out through each one.

Still, often He has seemed so distant, like an onlooker objectively observing. But then I think of my mom and feel His love for me. The kind of love that causes you to want your child to do better than you did. And whatever the sacrifice, whatever the cost, is worth it.

That is the love of the cross.

That is agape.

From this weekend…

SHALOM

Healing Fast

I remember years ago a dream I had. The details are fuzzy but what stands out to me is that I was in trouble and a dear family member came out of nowhere to rescue me. The interesting thing about it was that she was in a wheelchair when she did it! She literally flew out of the air in a wheelchair and came to save me! The message to me was that this person deeply cared for me and would allow no obstacle to hinder her from getting to me in my time of need.

The issue with the dream is that I felt the exact opposite in real life about our relationship and there always seemed to be a battle between us. Isn’t it interesting how God sees one thing and it looks totally opposite in real life? He sees the end from the beginning and as an intercessor, I have been taught that His heart is to manifest heaven in the earth.

I believe in heaven everything is perfect and that includes our relationships. There is no offense or hurt or sorrow. We have perfect relationships with everyone.

At the turn of the year the Father started moving rapidly in the area of this relationship. I had given up. I was so deeply hurt and wounded I did not believe it could be repaired. I was wrong. Not only did He repair it but He did it quickly! Decades of pain were healed in one conversation!

I accredit my loved one with her heart of repentance. Sometimes we have hurtful tendencies but that does not mean we intend to hurt. It just means we are broken.

It is beautiful to watch so many years of intercession being rewarded. To see the unfolding of a flower that has withstood so many wars.

It is a new season between us and I do not take this experience for granted. The weight has been lifted from my heart and I am grateful for it. Sometimes we can carry pain for so long that we do not even know it is there until it is removed.

Thank You Father for removing my pain and giving me a deep desire of my heart.

SHALOM

Back To The Beginning

In just 2 months I’ll be moving back in with my mom.  Whew.  To say that I am shocked by this prospect is an understatement.  The shock is probably only slightly overshadowed by my pushing my mid 30s and life looking exactly the opposite of what I pictured.  But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.  My roomie has the same shock and she is 6 years my junior.  My besties have the same shock and we are all the same age.

This weekend I drove around the new neighborhood which is not too far from the old one.  I talked to old friends I have reconnected with in this season.  So much of the new resembles the old.  It’s weird.

I am reminded of a revelation God gave me a few years ago after a big test.  He said my life was like a helix.  It wasn’t that I was walking in circles over and over the way I felt I was.  Instead, I was moving forward in a circular motion.  It seems living with my mom again is a part of that same pattern.  No matter how hard I tried to make choices that would position me in a certain place at this point in my life (husband, 2.5 kids and dog), I still ended up here.  Back to the beginning. 

We went to church for Easter (mom and I).  I know this is a new beginning for her and I’m blessed to be a part of it, I just wish it hadn’t cost me so much. 

On Easter I was reminded of why it costs.  It costs us because it cost Him.  We are not above the teacher.  We are not above our Master.  If He sacrificed, we too shall sacrifice.

My roommate gave me a card on Easter which read, “Nicole, just as Christ died and resurrected, I look forward to seeing the resurrection in your life”.  That is what I too am desiring.  To see the resurrection from all the death.  To see the fruit from all the pruning.  To see if the wait was really worth it…

SHALOM

Writing, Family & Time


The mother and daughter sat across from each other in the small diner.  Both adults but as with every child-parent relationship the child is still the child to the parent–no matter how old they get.  The daughter took a sip of her latte and typed feverishly at her keyboard.  She had brought her laptop so both could handle some unfinished business.  The mother took her turn typing (although a little more slowly and a little less confidently) and was pleased with the outcome.  They discussed their future plans to move in together.  They compared the properties they had looked at; some good, some not.  The deadline for moving was drawing to a close and both were walking by faith.  The daughter had been down this path many times so panic had not yet kicked in.  It would take a little longer for that to happen, if it did at all.  Though their meeting was about the future they reflected on the now.

“Can you believe I’m this old?” the daughter said.  The mother responded in equal amazement, “No.  It’s crazy!  I remember when you were in the womb…” and then as was their custom she reminisced about that time of pregnancy 30+ years ago.  Her eyes glazed over and she held a far off daze.  There were family members who had passed and many who were distant.  “I never thought I would lose my whole immediate family”, the mother said.  “Well, you have me” I replied.  We sat in silence for a moment.  It was just us.  I never wanted it to be that way.  I always wanted a family.  I told her just as much that day.  I told her how grateful I was for a spiritual family, these spiritual sisters that keep multiplying, but how I still desired blood relatives.  “I wanted that for you too” she said.

I ran into a brother that day and teased him about being alone.  He explained his wife and children were at a party and he had just gotten off his 2nd job.  I was reminded of how different our lives were–his full with mouths to feed–my mouth sipping a latte.  It’s easy to covet what one doesn’t have, to see the gift each season holds.  Still, some seasons last too long…I told him about a writer’s class that I’m enjoying.  “It’s finishing up soon but I’ll keep you in mind for the next one!”  “Please do!” he said.  Then I teased him about not having room in his schedule.  He assured me he will make room.  Funny, even with all the things I have going on in this season, I always seem to have room…

For the first time in my life I literally feel “older”.  I’ve been thinking about the past and wondering about the future.  I don’t have any goals set or big ticket items to check off my checklist.  There are responsibilities to carry out and finances to build.  There are a few trips I want to take and people I want to see.  But no goals.

I think reality is setting in.  Maybe that’s what happens in your mid 30’s.  You realize though you have much ahead you have a good chunk that is behind and for the first time I have found myself second guessing past choices.  My dad assured me on my birthday I had made the right choices.  Then why do I not have what I want? I thought to myself.  I wrestled with that question for a while.

I’m still wrestling.

The past cannot be changed, only our present.  Our now choices will create our future.  And as I told my friend last night, all we can do is walk in the light and understanding that we have today.  I believe we are only held accountable for that much.

SHALOM

 

 

Keep Living

This week was full of both rest and fun.  Rest because I had 5 days off work (3 of those PTO) and fun because many days were spent with really good people.  For Thanksgiving my mom and I went out to eat.  Normally one of us cooks (usually her) but this time she wanted something different.  After dinner we treated ourselves to a movie and then met her friends for bowling.  It was a full day and I was thoroughly stuffed.  Then Friday I had some alone time.  I went shopping on Black Friday at my favorite mall and marveled at the crowds.  Still, it was nice to be around so many yet be “alone”.  What can I say, it is the introvert in me that appreciates such an occurrence…Later on I relaxed with a 90s flick, only to meet up with a good friend for a latte at Starbucks.  I enjoyed a grande and even a chocolate chip muffin.  Then Sunday my friend and I made our way to the Browns’ game.  I will admit I have lived here over 10 years and have never been to a game!  Lucky me the tickets were free, the weather was nice and our seats were phenomenal.  It hardly mattered we didn’t win.  We had fun anyway…


But even in the midst of all these blessings I would be dishonest to say this holiday was not without its own difficulties.  The lack of family was evident for me while watching my mom’s friend’s daughter and her fiancé interact.  I glanced at her ring once or twice and stuffed down the never-ending longings…There were moments I was home alone when I really didn’t want to be.  Instead I wanted people, I wanted companionship, I wanted love.  But as I told my friend last night on the phone, even with all the people who do love me, they will still choose family over friendship.  It is natural.  God does set the lonely in families, but I often wonder, when will He not need to?  When will I have my own?…

The holidays are here and they are festive.  They are a mixture of fun and rest.  They are a mixture of enjoyment and lonelineness.  That is life.  The movie my mom and I saw had a character who was facing a divorce.  She was freaking out and said “What will I do now?”  My mom replied at the large screen in front of us, “Keep living”.  She was right.

One thing I have learned in this season is the importance of resilience and the ability to keep moving forward.  Someone near you dies?  You keep living.  You lose your job?  Keep living.  Depression hits?  Keep living.

It has been a year where I have practiced this concept to “keep living”.  It has been the fastest year of my life.  There were nights I didn’t think I would get through, but I am here.  And you are too.  And that means there is a hope for the future.

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

 

And what a lovely future it must be…

SHALOM