Friday, April 29, 2011
Life is Beautiful!
You know what I am doing? I am sitting bawling my eyes out over a movie. One of the saddest movies I have seen in a while and it caught me by surprise. I thought it was this nice sweet movie and then the turn happened and I thought it would never end.
As I was watched the story unfold, I felt I was getting hit with a shotgun full of memories. Those memories I try to ignore. Memories of pain that I never want to see again. I know you have seen those movies that bring memories flooding back and you want to run out but for some reason you are transfixed to endure it all to the end. Well, that was the moment I was having.
At first, this poor guy…this very perfect guy falls in love with a deaf girl that has never found love because her Mom has suffocated her trying to protect her. He helps her find her place in the world and to stand on her own feet. As the story unfolds you find out her Dad has died and his Mom died of cancer. Sad, right! But then, she goes back to her Mom out of duty and has to give him up because her Mom does not see past that fact he is a waiter. She finally stands up for him and they are getting back together and well, he ends up in the hospital with advanced brain cancer. Yep…the rest of the movie is all about him dying. But throughout the movie he is the most positive, hopeful, guy that only sees the beauty around him. What a statement.
Why did all this affect me so much? Because, at first all I could see was "how could all this happen to one guy?". Such a nice guy, loved with all he had and lost it all. My mind obviously went to losing my Mom, so many times almost losing Olivia, times Dean and I just were not connecting and it almost spiraled for me into this horrible pity party. Then the worst of it is that sometimes I feel horribly guilty. Guilty because my girl lived. Is that not awful. But so many Moms I know, did not get that opportunity to have their kids and see them get better, not here anyway.
And somewhere in the middle of it all. The pity party, the reflection, the story in the movie I pulled from who I know best, God, and knew that the part of the movie that was crucial was not the sadness but the beauty. The beauty of the relationships that have held together through these horrible ordeals in my life. So many have held my heart, my prayers and my strength by standing with me. What a blessing that will never be forgotten.
The beauty of my marriage that has been rocked with all kinds of trials and tribulations. The amazing truth is that when you put two people together, God has to be the third person in your marriage. Sometimes, though not theologically sound, I think that is why we have the trinity. It is a picture that it does take three strands to stand strong. Just two of us would never have made it this far. But through love, friendship, forgiveness and God we have held on stronger and stronger through the years. I never thought that would be possible. But only beauty can come from the ashes of dying to yourself. The beauty of love as it unfolds, not in moments, not in the honeymoon, not in falling in love but from selfless acts over the years that transform us to be better people and better friends. To me, that is the beauty of love.
Then of course Olivia. The beauty of her personality. The kindness of her heart. The fact that she is a spontaneous giver. The morals that have already been established in her heart that she owns. These are traits that are unfolding like a rose. Slowly, her personality is starting to blossom again and I was not sure what it would look like. She had been so angry and upset for so long. But now, she embraces life. She soaks up every moment with as much enthusiasm as she can. She still gets mad because she gets sick so easily but nothing like before. The rose is slowly opening as her heart is starting to embrace life again and I love being there for each moment. That is the beauty of love. Seeing through someone to their heart and loving them unconditionally. So, that when it is a season for the rose in their heart to blossom you can see those velvety, beautiful petals.
The most important part of beauty is seeing life through His eyes, His ears, His heart. We can never even come close to being able to fully do that but we can try. We can look into someone's eyes and ask God to help us see them as He does. When words are spoken in anger, ask God to allow us to hear what they are really saying. When someone is hurting and wounded we can ask God to allow us to see their heart so that we know how to comfort them. When we start looking around life is beautiful.
So for me, my pity party turned into a celebration of sorts. Thankful for the beauty that is all around me. Special friends, wonderful family, wonderful husband and daughter. I lost my Mom but I still have my Step Mom. She has given me so much love and support that I needed. And if by chance my sister ever gets this far in reading my blog she might see how much I appreciate who she is in my life as well. My friends has sustained me through so much and loved me unconditionally. My husband, well, words cannot express all that he has endured personally and endured with me and still stood. That is beautiful love that makes us all very rich people. I may not have two pennies to rub together, like my Grandfather would say but I have more love than can fill the Mississippi river. And if you have ever seen the Mississippi river you would know how beautiful that is too.
The rest may fall. Jobs come and go…material things can go away but love and beauty will always last. I lost my job, life isn't that easy right now but I can do what I know how to do and that is live like God would have me live and trust Him with the rest by focusing on the beauty around me and not the worries that the world would try to put on my shoulders. Not that we should not do our very best to do all we can do but when we have truly done our best….letting God carry the rest. Focusing on the beauty allows us to be grateful for all that we do have and not want what we don't really need.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Monday, April 18, 2011
This weekend was such a joy. I spent Saturday at the Extraordinary Women's conference with some dear friends and then church on Sunday. It was a completely joy filled weekend. What a fresh breath of air for me. I am finally rolling into real life. Life that does not have that horrible dark shadow that is always hanging on. A life of normalcy and expectation. What a precious gift.
My friend Barbara always seems to have the fresh breath of air around her. I love that. I love her joy, her expectancy of life. It is contagious so I long for the days that we can spend time together so I can breath in her air. At many points in my walk it reminded me of life.
God, this weekend, took a moment and reminded me of my gift of Joy. That it was back and overflowing. The gift was bigger than I ever thought possible. I realized on Saturday, as I listened to these women of immense strength and faith talk, how truly blessed I am. I heard them speak about where they had walked. I listened to their testimonies intently. I wanted to shout out Amen several times. Because I had been there, walked there, hurt there but now, I am free. Free to soar . Free to run and not get weary. I just wanted to celebrate the moment. That moment of Joy. That joy that comes in the morning from the long night.
Before my friend Donna was to speak at the conference on Saturday, we took a moment and prayed together. At first I was thinking how many times she had asked me to come, and now I could finally be here, as a friend with no worries, nothing hanging in the back of my mind, just a friend able to pray and be a support to someone else. What a joy that brought to my heart. Just to be!
Donna and I have been prayer partners for a little more than a year now and God has done some amazing things but we both live in different states so this was the first time we were able to pray together, in one place. Just the two of us. I could finally pray for her and it not at all be about me. I stood backstage and was prepared to call a host of angels down for my friend. But before we started she looked me right in the eye and asked me "how are you doing?" and without hesitation, I said "Great!". Then, I started to cry…crying because of the joy that overflowed. Crying because I could be there with my friend and crying because, well, because God is so good. But that moment was not about me. It was for Donna and you know what? It made it even more special. That I did not have to be in the moment of tragedy but I could be in the moment of hope, joy, support, and life. God breathed life.
As Moms we all take joy in our children. We can't help it. They are amazing. We all take joy in the love of our husbands. But, for me, that joy has so much depth that it just overflows. I can’t even talk about it without tears. Because for me, I was not sure if any of these days would ever be here. I have spent the last two years looking God right in the eye and saying "where ever you have me walk, I will walk, I am not sure I am going to like all your answers but I promise to keep walking". I kept to that scripture that says "do not turn to the right or the left" and Proverbs 3:4-5 "in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path". I have clung to them, I have screamed at them, I have begged God to release me and my family from this path and can we at least start a new one. But I can now, for the first time look back. Though that path was full of rough terrain, I would never want to walk another one. This path seemed to be the perfect one for my family and I. Rough terrain and all. We are healing but in such a better place. Our hearts are different. We look at life differently. We look at people differently. We have more compassion. We have more grace. We have more love to give because we have been filled with so much. We laugh more, we walk a bit slower in some ways so we can see life. Feel life. We are running without weariness and we are soaring with the Eagles. Spiritually.
I know, you are thinking it must be a great place to be, it is. Are there still mountains in our life. Oh yes. I lost my job a few weeks ago. We have a mountain of bills that I just look at and then look up. We have to prepare Olivia to finally be a teenager and get back into her social life which will not be an easy task. She has been sheltered and grown up in an adult world. You see, we still have issues but when I see who God is, how He has brought me through each and every valley, each and every heartache, each and every stumble….well, those are not problems. As my dear Donna would say, they are inconveniences. God will work those out, I just walk through the doors that I see Him open and continue to be obedient and it will all work out.
There was a time in my life that I would not have been able to sleep at night with just the bill problems. I would hold on to that issue until it was a not just a problem but a mountain in my heart. I have been so amazed at the view point I have today. I am not ignoring them. I am walking through and doing what I can but the burden is gone. Just being truthful and giving God my best. I still am amazed at the lack of stress it causes me now. Because I have way too much joy to see it any other way than God has it under control.
So, today I am blogging about the joy. Real, freeing, beautiful joy. It creates a new heart in me for sure. Maybe it will be contagious, like my friend Barbara is to me, and you will find yourself with a song in your heart today.
Bless you and keep you today.
In His Grip
(Just a side note, Donna was phenomenal. She is an amazing speaker and such a strong message for today. So if you want to check out what God has and is doing in this Extraordinary Woman's life go to www.donnavanliere.com .)
Thursday, April 07, 2011
The Pure In Heart
"Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God". I have read that scripture many, many times as I am sure you have as well. I have heard it preached more times than I can remember. My picture of what that verse meant and what it means to me today is two completely different places.
Before, I think I saw that verse as an individual. You know, that person that is contrite and humble. They are soft spoken and when they speak all listen. Some of those things that I will never be able to do. One of them is being quiet. For some reason being quiet is not my strong suit. But that is how I viewed that verse.
I love word of God. You can read it over and over and over. The words seem to be ever living, ever breathing, always a word of life to my soul. I can read a book and never pick it up again because I know what happens, I know the plot and the outcome. But the Bible, I know the stories, I know a lot of the outcomes but it is like water to a thirsty soul. I want to read it again and again. Each time I turn the pages and breath in I see a whole new depth to the words that have been written. My perspective changes, my heart changes and I have new strength to carry me.
A couple of mornings ago is when I saw this verse again. I had opened an old journal of mine. I do that sometimes to remind myself of the things God has done for me and how He has answered His promises to me. The very first page is worn and the binding is quite broken on the journal. I start reading through those pages of years ago and I see a picture of myself. I hear myself talking through the prayers and outpouring of my heart to God. As I read I can even overlay the changes that have come about in my heart since that time.
On one of the pages I had written "God you keep speaking to me about your outpouring of love but all I see is that I am on this earth to suffer. I am trying to see you in all that is happening but the suffering is so hard to walk through" I wrote this, not in the last two years but in 2005. Before so much else was going to happen.
Why is that so important? Because you know how I started out with "for the pure in heart will see God". I finally got it this morning. Suffering is a part of the world but it is also a purification process. I say all the time that trials are like pressure to put your heart in a fired up crucible and allowing the dross to come up so you can clean out the "junk" that resides there. Crucibles are used to heat gold and silver and such. The heat purifies the mineral so that only the pure form remains. The trash and other items that have melded together with the mineral are taken out as dross as it gets hotter and hotter. They float to the top and is cleared off. This process happens over and over until only the pure mineral remains.
Sometimes we don't see the "junk" in our heart. Sometimes our friends or family don't see the "junk". But God sees the junk and wants to get rid of it in our lives. For me, it has been so many trials I can't list them all. Olivia's issues being a major part. But as I read that verse today I see those trials not as suffering anymore. I see them as a place to conquer. Because that purification process allows me to get a glimpse of God. Each trial fires up that crucible. I decide if I am going to see the "junk" and clean it out. But if I face myself and look into that crucible the Holy Spirit will help me clean it out. When I get it cleaned out I can see a glimpse of God and what He is doing in my life. If only just a glimpse. Then instead of "suffering" I can praise Him. Because He does know my heart and He knows what I need and His purposes are higher than mine. I can see those things that truly are more important than my pity party. I only have to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to help me become pure in heart. What a revelation. That verse is not set aside just for someone else. That verse is not unattainable. That verse is just about something we do as naturally as breathing. We put our life in God's Hands and we get to know Him. In knowing Him it happens to be a natural process of love.
I am not totally "pure in my heart" but I am working each and every day to get there because just that small glimpse of Him is worth whatever I have to face in myself to get there.