Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Joy in the Unstaining

Today I've been staring at the first chapter of James, praying the words will sear into my heart and make themselves part of it, permanently tattooed deep in the muscle.

Because this is not how I want to feel.

I want to lay my body that aches, that visibly carries the bruises from this month's events, down on the ground and let the toddler inside take lead. I want to ask WHY things had to change, WHY things had to flip, whirl, jolt just like the tornado that caused this. But James says it is joyous to be in my shoes. Joyous to stand on the bare slab that was our home. Joyous to remember while making carrot cake that I no longer have a food processor to help shredding the carrots go quicker. Joyous as I wait in the emergency room for stitches to be sewn. Joyous as I nurse my body from its second big fall in less than two weeks.

The rain keeps falling. So thank goodness our umbrella is big.

It's been a fairly difficult month. It has been exactly one month since I sat under the giant Maple in front of our house, writing in my prayer journal for what I had no way of knowing would be the last time. It feels like an eternity ago that I watched as the cone danced its death march toward our home, barreled down our street and took precious people and sentiments with it. But in the same breath, it seems impossible that the weeks passed so quickly. I am still living in May. My world stopped half way through, and I don't know why all these people around me are living in June! My homeschool friends are buzzing about the upcoming year, and my exhausted brain says, "Shouldn't we finish this year first?"

And I'm so glad I have James (and all the precious family and friends God has surrounded me with) to remind me that it is joyous to be where we are. To think that God considers us worthy of such trials is overwhelming.

I am not sure if the enemy is in a back-lash out of fear that God will truly receive glory from these hard places, but we feel attacked--like the rain just won't let up. James ends chapter one with instructions to keep ourselves "unstained from the world." I don't know about you, but I had a recent run-in with blood stains on my husband's clothes. I didn't win. No matter how much peroxide I poured on each drop, the stain kept staring back at me.

Some stains just don't come out.

Not by our own scrubbing anyway. So how hard to cleanse what we can so easily let this world mark us with.

I pray that our family will be stained with things of the Father, not things of the Earth. And that is what I had just prayed the day before He allowed the rain to fall on us. But all the while, He has held the umbrella for us, sheltering us gently from ultimate ruin. He knew as I wrote those words one month ago under the Maple tree in the front yard, that the next day would begin our journey of becoming unstained.

I'm posting this picture again so you can see how cozy our Maple tree was. And I try to count it joy as I miss its branches.




Peace of Christ to you,

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Pain After the Praise

I decided that our family needs some counseling, so I made a call that I was hesitant to make but am so glad now that I did.

Our counselor is a very nice lady who very quickly recognized some signs of distress in the kids (and even in me) while we talked and played in her office. I'm feeling positive about her plan of treatment for us, which will involve weekly counseling indefinitely--until we're all better, until I can hopefully stop mistaking normal everyday sounds for tornado sirens.

I really hesitate to post that I am not doing so great emotionally because I feel like I'm supposed to be strong and--I guess--walking around quoting scripture constantly! I'm not. In fact, I only found my Bible two days ago. So the reality right now is that this is very hard. And even more honestly is that it seems to be getting harder--not easier.

Right after it happened, I was so overwhelmed at all the material needs being met, and I was in shock that it happened at all, and that we walked away from this event without one scratch.

I wasn't sure what would befall us emotionally and mentally. It is a battle each and every day to focus on the positive things, and I am really trying so hard to do that. (I don't want this post in any way to sound like a whine session.) However, I do want to be real. I walk around worrying that everyone thinks I'm this faith giant, and all I really am is a regular girl from Oklahoma who just had a tornado blow her house away along with every precious memory and sentimental piece of her life therein. It's not really the Cornbread and Hosta walls themselves that make me sob; it's what we did within those painted walls that we'll never do there again. It's the times we danced together in front of that fireplace. The blinding hot day when I took each door off the cabinets and painted them Picket Fence White under the towering shade tree in the backyard. The Fescue grass where we'd throw open our picnic quilt and weigh it down with library books, pillows, homemade smoothies, and our bare toes. It's the sidewalk out front where I drew lines for the "road" and Keagan and Kate would whiz up and down on their bikes, careful to stay on their side of the road. It's the Maple tree out front where I sat just the day before writing in my journal, praising God for this very life He had been so generous to give us, for our Life Group who met in our home every Wednesday night. The stove where I baked Snicker doodles for those Wednesday nights. It's where Kate learned to ride a bike for the first time, where I was working on a ballet barre wall for her bedroom. It's where Keagan learned to carry over two digit addition and borrow for subtraction. It's where Kate learned to read her first word.

I could go on, but I'm sure you see that it really wouldn't end. Even in just the length of time it takes to grow a baby in the womb, we made a home there. We laid our foundation and grew together more than we have anywhere else.

I do know it was a structure made of two by fours, sheet rock, shingles, carpet. And I do know we will find another one to call ours, where we can dance in front of the fireplace and drink smoothies in the backyard. Is it okay to say that I ache to have what we loved back, though? For us, that represented our lives, where we could be ourselves, where we could weave our hearts together over a Mexican fiesta night. It's just going to take a little while to grieve this, to name our heartaches and then to allow our God to mend them as only He can do. I know He knows why this happened, and that we are blessed with how it turned out (because it could have been so devastatingly worse). I know this so deeply and it is what knocks the breath out of me, that we are all together. Even Wendy! I thank Jesus for this. I hope He is also all right with me climbing up into His lap and weeping because I've lost things I loved.

It's so easy to say things like "This world is not my home" or "I can't get attached to stuff because I can't take it with me"...until you actually are staring down the gaping loss of those things. I don't believe God is punishing me for getting a little too attached to a home. I do think He wants to teach me something during this time of blatant vulnerability. Pray for me that I will continue to let Him speak to my heart. Today I have at last dealt with a bit of anger. Not at Him, but at something, though I'm not certain what. It, I guess. That this world is fallen and we must endure such violences of nature that rip from under our feet the securities we thought were stalwart.

They are not. Only Jesus is. I never wanted to understand this truth as fully as I am now,  to have it sewn onto my heart. I thought I did, but the wanting and the sewing are so different.

I am hopeful. I know we will heal and one day be even better than we were. If you didn't gouge your eye out from reading this far, thank you! Putting my heart on paper (or screen) seems to help a lot.



Peace of Christ to you,

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Preserved


Remember my Eleven post? Well, it gets better. :)

So I received a package on Thursday, the 6th from our recently overworked mail carrier (poor guy is probably going to hate us for the daily door step drop offs)! It was one of my crazier days where I had exactly 4,213 things to do and time to do only 200.

So, I didn't open it that day.

The next day, on our actual anniversary, I had a spare moment, so I fetched the one pair of scissors to be found in our house and carefully cut the edges of the package. The weight of this parcel was surprising, and I had no indicator of what could possibly weigh so much. Knowing the sender should have given me a heads up, but truly I was not ready for what I peeled that flap back to find.

There, snuggly slid into the cardboard was a photo album.

And right then, I knew.



I shook the album out of the sleeve and instantly the tears fell. It was from our wedding photographer. She had mailed us a huge album of every single picture she had taken that day.

Pristine condition. Every moment preserved. And in my hands.

Just like us. Pristine condition because of His protection. Every part of us preserved. And in His hands.

I didn't even have to ask. She knew it was what she was supposed to do. I honestly figured she wouldn't have them any longer, so I was not going to track her down and beg for some miracle. (Eleven years is a while to keep random pictures lying around your house.)






I want to share her letter tucked inside the album (now that I have her permission--thank you, Vickie!) because it represents to me how God knows our every little desire, our every heartache--even when we dare not utter it. He knows and He cares, and He causes others to care, to act on our behalf. And wasn't it just like Him to weave my Thursday just so that I would not open it until Friday, on our actual anniversary?




I sure do hope you get to experience this God whom I know, who loves us each with this very same passion. He truly cares for us.

Do you know that? 


Peace of Christ to you,

Friday, June 7, 2013

Eleven



We made it. :)

Today is 11 years for us, and (once I even remembered that it IS our anniversary today) I have never been more thankful to own this:




It's a little worn, isn't it? But isn't that oh so fitting? I believe God had His hand on this album because I needed to visually see, to tangibly feel His protection over our marriage. In the last 11 years, there were times when we wanted to quit. There were times when other avenues seemed more appealing than working through whatever the mess at the moment was.

I'm so grateful that we pushed through the hard places to find the beauty beneath the surface. I'm glad we hung on when we thought it was hard for the time when it really was hard.

Can I share something neat that my God did pertaining to this on that day? That morning as I was getting ready to leave with the kids for a meeting out of town, I so clearly remember putting my wedding rings on. If you are around me much, you may have noticed that I usually only wear the delicate gold band alone, not the whole diamond set. It scratches my kids, so I just go without it unless I'm dressing up.

I wouldn't have normally worn it all that day. But I can still live that moment where I put the entire set on, even consciously making note of it and asking myself why I would be doing that. Seconds later, I brushed the thought away and turned off my bathroom light for the final time--my precious token of our marriage on my hand.

I hope that made you smile, because it still has me grinning. Isn't God incredible to love us in even the small things? So, today Matt and I will celebrate 11 years of valleys and peaks by purchasing a bed finally for our room! I'm so excited. We've been sleeping on an air mattress, and my body has ached more than I expected. So here's to the next 11 years--may it be tornado free, but may we hold close these treasures from our time in the valley.

Peace of Christ to you,