Sunday, November 22, 2009

Beauty and Peace

I went for a jog early this morning. It was a really gorgeous morning in the country. There was a light mist that barely touched my skin as I moved through it but, which left the world in a beautiful silence that I was in just the right state of mind to appreciate. Still, I guided my headphone into one of my ears and pushed play. There was something about being surrounded by the silence of creation that enhanced the music. At once I could hear the beauty of the music and the stillness of the world and it was powerful. The song that popped up on my ipod is one that has held special meaning for me before, but this morning it was new again and spoke so sweetly to my heart.


Be still my soul the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide.
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still my soul. Thy best, thy heavenly Friend.
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still my soul thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake.
All now mysterious will be bright at last.

(Delight yourselves in the Lord,
Yes, and find your joy in Him.
Be known for your gentleness
And never forget the nearness of our God.
And don’t worry,
Whatever’s gonna come.
Just tell God every detail.
And the peace of God that no one understands
Will come to you.
No, don’t worry,
Just tell Him every detail
And His peace will come to you.)

I began my jog with some heavy thoughts on my mind. Thoughts that come into my mind that I really don’t like to share with anyone else. Thoughts that are born of things I know I can’t expect or try to make anyone else understand. I find myself in that place every once in a while. I often end up frustrated by it and trying so hard to push that frustration away. But this song came on and I found myself before the throne of God, knowing that He was, as always, big enough to handle “every detail.” I spoke to Him there and told Him that I didn’t know if I really had the energy to tell it all today. I’m pretty sure that was okay with Him. After all He knew the details even before I did. I laid it at His feet and I left it there, for Him to “order and provide”. And then I really did experience a measure of His promised peace. It wasn’t an assurance that the markets won’t continue to plummet or that my teenagers won’t make bad choices or even an assurance that faith shaking situations won’t come into my life again. It wasn’t a feeling of wellbeing, or even a sense that I could get through anything with God by my side (though I do know that’s true). It was simply a moment in which I knew beauty. And knowing beauty, for me, is knowing the Creator of beauty. And knowing the Creator of a world like the one I jogged in this morning was for that moment at least, just enough peace to pass my understanding.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Beuaty Will Rise

Warning...long and gratutitouse post follows. Come back another time if you're not up for it. I'll understand. Really!

My personal devotion time today was extremely personal and beautifully intimate. I always hesitate to try to share those kinds of things because God is so specific with us as His children when He draws near and pulls us close. He’s often so specific that I wonder if we can really ever fully understand the things He teaches someone else. Having said that though, my time with Him this morning was profound for me and I can’t help but try to share something of what it meant.

Okay, so I’m a mildly obsessed Steven Curtis Chapman (and family) fan. You really can’t blame me if you know my story. His music has literally been playing in the background and often even the foreground of most of my adult life’s biggest moments. God has used his music to minister to my heart in ways only God and I will ever really understand. But will you bear with me if I try to share just some of what He’s done?
I didn’t realize at my wedding what the words “I will be here when the laughter turns to crying through the winning, losing and trying” would mean to me now that “the mirror tells us we’re (17 years) older ” instead of just 17 years old. But I loved the song and it was powerful even before it was understood.

Later when my cousin and lifelong friend passed away leaving behind a beautifully fragile wife and two incredible children I questioned God at length. I couldn’t begin to understand how this could possibly be meant for anyone’s good. He quieted my heart with the title track of Steven’s Speechless cd. Words like “ I say so many things. Trying to figure you out. But as mercy opens my eyes… my words are stolen away by this breath taking view of your grace.” And “His strength is perfect when our strength is gone” assured me that Maria and the kids would be given what they needed in their sorrow.

Just a year later we lost our precious son, Tristan and the words of With Hope reminded us of the theme God was weaving through our lives and making so real to us that day. “And never have I known anything so hard to understand. Never have I questioned more the wisdom of God’s plan. But through the veil of tears I hear the Father smile and say “Well done.” We know our goodbye is not the end. We can grieve with Hope ‘cuz we believe with Hope. There’s a place where we’ll see your face again.” Just a few months later Declaration came out and every single song on that album seemed as though God had written the words just for me and imprinted their meaning deep within my heart. Those songs and I journeyed for years together and still do today as I process still what it meant to lose my son.

A few years passed and we found ourselves in the throws of adoption. We were looking forward to baptizing our daughters when Steven sang in person, what seemed like a concert made just for them at Life Light that year. When he introduced “When Love Takes you In”, the very song I’d wanted sung at their baptism later that month the tears began to fall so quickly. “When Love takes you in and says you belong here. The loneliness ends and a new life begins. And this love. It will not let you go. Cuz there’s nothing that could ever cause this love to lose it’s hold.” My daughters were in my arms and whatever we were struggling through in that moment slipped away as I was reminded of the way God’s adoptive love was circling us all.

I went through a major surgery not long after that. As I sat through tests and procedures I often had them play my Declaration cd for me. “God is God” became my anthem during the surgery and lengthy recovery time that followed. “I can only see a part of the picture He’s painting.” What a wonderful reminder on those days when my little part was looking pretty dark.

My dad died a few years ago and there was just a lot of personal processing that needed to take place. I was starting to feel a little picked on by a God I knew held only love for me. I was little bit edgy in how I approached Him but Bring it On helped me find my voice. “Bring it on. Let the trouble come. Let the Hard Rain fall. Bring it on. Cuz I’m not gonna run from the very thing that will drive me closer to you.”

Our newest trial is in dealing with the plummets of the livestock markets. Financial strain seems to threaten more than just our pocket books, but this new cd reminds me that “Jesus Will Meet me There.”

See.. I have a reason to be mildly obsessed. I told you so.

Anyway all of this background to bring you to my moment alone with God this morning. I had purchased the new SCC cd and decided to spend my time with God reading the words and the lengthy explanations Steven gave as background to the music on the cd jacket. My heart broke for the Chapman family when they lost they’re precious Maria last year. I wasn’t prepared for how powerfully God would work through this latest cd, even though I knew the newest work would be deeply moving. Songs like “Just Have to Wait” and “Spring is Coming” not to mention “Heaven is the Face” and “I will Trust You” brought me back to my own loss and laid me open before the throne of heaven today. I was reminded in the rawness of this mornings encounter with Christ of the depth of grief. But this music was so INCREDIBLY laced with Hope that it brought me to a new level of healing. To identify with such loss and such Hope all at once was almost too much to bear. The kind of emotion a new realization of God’s truth brings with it can be overwhelming. There’s a line that haunts me still as even now I listen to the music play softly in the background, “ Well I can’t wait to hear your mama laugh the way that only you can make her laugh when you get silly. And I can’t wait to SEE you in her arms and know the wound so deep inside her heart is healed for good.” And “I can’t wait to watch your brother’s face when he can finally SEE with his own eyes that everything’s okay”... Loss and guilt…and Hope.

I sat in the stillness this morning realizing again and anew how powerfully personal and specific God has been in His dealings with me. I’m thankful for the beautiful Biblically based music SCC churns out with each new album. It’s no wonder those words bring such depth and healing. They come straight from the heart of God. Only He could offer those kinds of promises.

I’m so sorry that the Chapman’s have had so much to suffer, but I’m praying it reaches many hearts the way it has mine. I think God wants little Maria to have lots of company up there in her “Big, big house with lots and lots of rooms.” And I’m hoping she’s met a little boy named Tristan. It seems they might have a connection only heaven would understand.

Okay, I warned you. Thanks for letting me spill on and on today. I appreciate your being here.

Now, I'd love to hear about how God's been highly specific for you.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Silent Breakfast of the Empty Handed Hunter

Yesterday afternoon my oldest son, the passionate hunter, set out to spend some time in his deer stand. Armed with a bow and a fistful of arrows contentment seemed to beam from his face. This is a kid who loves to be outdoors, at peace whenever he’s surrounded by nature.

The call came an hour or so later. “Mom, I need to talk to Dad right now.” I recognized the shaky but controlled calm in his voice. It was something I could easily recall from all these years as a hunter’s wife. It was the exact voice his father used when a deer had been hit.

Steve and Taylor exchanged a few excited words. Plans were made to retrieve the deer. The testosterone driven inhabitants of our home were giddy with excitement. Taylor told and retold the story of how in his shock of having his first real shot at a buck he had been unable to even pull back his string. Miraculously the buck had turned and given him another chance. All four manboys quickly donned camouflage gear, flashlights and one more round of arrows. Even uncle Shawn came out to join the crew. They searched late into the night. They rose early and searched all morning. The blood trail had run thin. Hope of finding the deer has now run out. A weary hunter and his son sit at the breakfast table even now exchanging only looks of dismay and disappointment as the morning sun spills across their sad faces.

I offer words like; “There will be other deer.” And “ You still have more time left before the shot gun season starts.” I fill their plates with bacon, eggs and pancakes hoping it will nourish more than their growling stomachs. But my efforts fall on deaf ears. This is a place only men are allowed. My son tells me by the look on his face to please find somewhere else to be right now.

It’s hard to be a mom of a man child. I know how little he wants to need me. I understand that this is a necessary process. But it’s hard. It’s hard to love him so much and have my efforts to be a part of his life go more than unnoticed, also unwanted.

I know it will all turn around again one day. I know he’ll get older and realize I’m not holding on anymore and he’ll be happy to spend time with me again. But for now I miss the kid who would so casually say “I love you” and call me “Mamma.” It was just last year that his arms would circle around me in a quick hug most mornings before he left for school as I stood at the sink washing away the remains of his breakfast. “Have a good day Mom.” Trailing behind him as he shoved one more piece of toast in his mouth and hoisted his backpack over his shoulder.

He’ll be seventeen in a few weeks and at 6 foot 3 he is every inch the man he so desperately wants to be. I’m not trying to hold on. Really, I’m not. It’s just that this morning as he walked up to the house, an empty handed hunter, shoulders slouched, head hung low, he was once again a little boy.

He doesn’t like the thought of that deer suffering. He can’t stand knowing it’s still out there. Somehow in the silence the men have this conversation. I can’t hear it. It’s not meant for my ears. And words… words are like shattering a glass with a rock this morning. So I slink away. I sit at my computer and I fill a blinking cursor with words they can’t hear. There’s still that sound of something shattering though. I think it’s just my mom heart…breaking. Phew… parenting can be tough!