Tears

You have kept count of my tossings;
    put my tears in your bottle.
    Are they not in your record?  ~Psalm 56:8

picture snagged from pinterest

Image snagged from Pinterest.

Rose-Lynn Fisher compiled a beautiful photographic collection of microscopic tears.  One can only imagine the sorrow and pain she endured before the question formed in her mind of whether all tears looked the same under a microscope.  What a beautiful answer she received when she went looking for the answers.  I can imagine it was emotionally cathartic for her, whatever trials she had been through.  Then she didn’t stop there, but collected tears of other people to continue her collection and research.

I love that they are diverse.  That “joy tears” and “grief tears” look different, because we know they feel different when we shed them.  

I love that she included “onion tears”, you know, tears without emotion have GOT to be different than those from deep sorrow, pain, or happiness.  But I’d have never thought to ask, I’m so glad she did.

I love the thought of God collecting our tears, and putting them in a bottle…I wonder if maybe he has different bottles for different tears, for the purpose of looking at the beauty in them all.  

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Be careful what you ask for

I feel bad for Thomas.  He has a forever negative reputation for being human like me.
So, he needed extra proof…so do I some days.
So, he was skeptical…nothing wrong with that, is there?  Aren’t we told to be wise as serpents..innocent as doves?  How can we be wise if we believe everything we’re told.

If you are like Thomas (and me), and won’t believe until you can see and feel  His wounds for yourself, don’t be surprised or dismayed when you are given the opportunity to do so, because, if you ask, there will be opportunity.

These thoughts have been rattling around my wee brain for several days.  While relating to Thomas’ request, it was as if I heard the Lord speak to my heart; You don’t even know what you’re asking, Lyn.  Do you really want to feel my wounds?

This is what my wounds feel like:

  • When the weight of your burden brings you to your knees;
    —Remember, I also fell under the weight of my own cross, and needed help bearing it.
  • When your body is wracked with chronic physical pain;
    —Join Me in My scourging.  I suffered similar physical pain from strikes, stripes, and blows.
  • When your ideas, and ideals are held in derision. Your very motives of your deepest thoughts and desires are suspect.
    —Experience the same pointed, piercing thorns that were forced into My brow.
  • When the work of your hands is belittled, or scoffed.
    —Feel the nail prints in My hands.
  • When the path that you walk is misunderstood or held in suspicion.
    —Remember the wounds in My feet.
  • When your support system crumbles.  There is no one you can trust, no one who understands, you feel forgotten or overlooked.
    —Participate in the loneliness and grief I felt when even My own Father turned His back on Me.
  • When your heart is pierced by reckless words or actions of those you love;
    —Plunge your hand into the wound in My side that had gushed forth blood and water for you.

Be careful what you ask for…but if you mean it…here I am.

 

Growing up in hard places

I have a new header, thanks to my niece, over at A New Hope Through Christ, who said that when saw the picture, she thought of New Things.  When she sent it to me (of course I begged her to let me use it for my blog, and she so graciously consented), we had a wonderful chat about how new things often spring forth in our lives from hard, broken places, and where we receive the strength that is needed to push through.

It’s true in my life.  Some of my greatest spiritual growth has happened in the middle of extremely difficult conditions.

I learned about and developed patience in the middle of very trying circumstances;

I learned true love and forgiveness through hateful, harsh, and excruciatingly painful verbal abuse and rejection;

I learned joy through sorrow, faithfulness through disappointment, and fortitude through those nights I just knew I was at the end of my rope, and still woke the next day to another chance to grow some more.

I learned about generosity through poverty;

I learned to walk in victory through intense spiritual warfare,
and I learned about peace that passes understanding through the midst of it all.

Like my banner picture, those good things developed in cold, dark, deep places and sprung forth out of harsh, dry, cracked conditions that you would never guess could produce wonderfully abundant, healthy, mature growth.

 

Transition

Sometimes I wonder if I will be forever in transition of some sort or another.  The past three years has been one change after the next, with barely enough time to relax and enjoy the view.  I have watched family relations on both sides of my family be tested and tried.  I have seen frustration take its toll, leading to the disintegration of relationships, and I have watched the same test/trial be used to strengthen and build up relationships.  Both cases involving my husband, myself, and one or more family members from both sides and even our own children.  I’ve watched marriages be tried and fail, and other marriages be tried and succeed, strengthened.  I’ve watched kids grieve their losses, doing their best by trial and error to learn healthy coping skills, and I’ve watched kids successfully balance a load that to anyone looking on appears to be too heavy…and yet, they continue carrying it, and with grace.

In each instance, the defining attitude determined the success rate:

Those who let bitterness and anger reign, reaped strife and loss.

The harder one works to be in control and call the shots, the harder they fall when God reclaims His rightful place on that throne.

Discontent breeds worry and angst…which give birth to depression and strife.

Total dependence and whole-hearted trust in God and His will give birth to peace that passes all human understanding, even when the money has run out…and the gas tank reads empty…even when the job didn’t come through, and we haven’t a clue what to do next.

Serving trumps being served…big time…but being served builds humility that can’t be found anywhere else.  Both are essential, in their own time for the building of a person.

Pride is an ugly bag to carry around.  Best nailed to the cross and buried in the deepest ocean.

I am a tool in the hands of the Master.  What He does with me, according to His will, is His business.  I just have to remain in His hand, and not be shy of contact with others.

While I love the freedom to participate or not, now I am learning that my choices affect others besides myself…and that same free will is offered to my family and friends who may or may not realize this truth yet, and that has an effect on me.

While the above is true, I also know that it’s not all about me.  The beautiful truth of Romans 8:28 is that God works in several dimensions all at the same time.  While he’s using my own past, present and future circumstances in His work for my good, He is using me in the lives of those around me as He is working all their “things” for their good as well.  Often your “things” will bump into and overlap one with mine; this is beautiful and good from heaven’s viewpoint, though from this earthly perspective, it can be uncomfortable and humbling.  I continue to pray to be able to see with heaven’s perspective, even though right now, I know I’m looking at the back of the quilt.

We are transitioning again…across state lines, from parenting to empty house, living with adult children en route, from employment to unemployment, and seeking gainful employment again…and while we are transitioning, there is more waiting, and leaning, and learning.

So much change.

So many opportunities to trust, and draw near.

Hopefully there is healthy growth in these dark, quiet places.

As my dear friend Kelly pointed out to me today, “living in the shadow” (Psalm 91) can be a dark place, or a place of refuge, depending on our perspective, and how we choose to view it.

In the Meantime

The meantime.

A dear friend of mine passed on a phrase to me that I have remembered and used often these past three years.  She said, “you know, it’s called the “meantime” for a reason.  It’s not called the “nice time” or the “easy time”, it’s called the “meantime”, because it’s mean.”

And, I concur.

While we wait in hope for what God has promised, life continues.  It’s never “fair” (if fair means nice and generous, and full of only good things for sincere-hearted people).  It can be dark, and lonely, and stressful.  It is often full of misunderstanding and angst, while void of the comforts we have enjoyed in the past.  For me, it’s been a painful pruning time, where relationships and material things that are not helping us to bear fruit are cut away, and we are brought to our knees, seeking the only One who can fill the longing in our heart.

No, the meantime is not always a nice time, but my son pitched a question to me yesterday that I can’t shake.

“Mom, have you ever stopped to think that the “meantime” is exactly where you are supposed to be?”

What?

The meantime can have meaning?

This waiting…this meantime…is not the passageway to get to a destination of blessing, but is the blessing in itself?

I have to re-think this some more.

Edited to add:  My first click after publishing this post was today’s entry in my favorite devotional.  It’s like an exclamation point to the thoughts I have shared here.  Check it out.

Reckon it nothing but joy… whenever you find yourself hedged in by the various trials, be assured that the testing of your faith leads to power of endurance (James 1:2-3) Weymouth

God hedges in His own that He may preserve them, but oftentimes they only see the wrong side of the hedge, and so misunderstand His dealings. It was so with Job (Job 3:23). Ah, but Satan knew the value of that hedge! See his testimony in Job 1:10.

 

Smile and shake it off, or embrace it and offer it up

wpid-IMG_20131206_133926.jpgWas visiting with my daughter #2 today, and she quoted my favorite mantra:  Use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without.  “It” being what I already have, what has been provided, or what’s on hand at the time.  I’ve heard that necessity is the mother of invention…I say that necessity is a mother, for sure…but I major in flexibility, and I think I do a great job at making do.

There are times, however, that I haven’t been able to make it do…and have had to do without.  It’s a little harder to be flexible when doing without.  No one is immune to suffering…whether it is illness, loss, or financial  difficulties.

My granddaughters have a sweet little ritual when they suffer a fall, or a hangnail, or any other myriad of “owies”.  They take it to Momma (or Grammie if I’m lucky 😉 ) for acknowledgment, kisses and encouragement.  When they’ve been affirmed, Momma (or I) will urge them “now, shake it off”, at which point, they will do a sweet little shimmy, smile and run off and play.  I have seriously taken this advice to heart.  I wish I could say it was my own wonderful idea, or even one that has been passed down for generations, but…that would be untrue.  Even though I can’t claim it as my own family secret to happiness, I have adopted it as my own, and pass it on to others now, with an added piece of advice that almost rhymes, my new favorite mantra is:  “If you can’t smile and shake it off, then embrace it and offer it up.”

A strange thing happens when I welcome and embrace opportunities to suffer.  I feel empowered somehow, I feel strengthened, even in the knowledge of my weakness;  Acceptance comes with a deep sense of purpose when I see myself as part of that mystical body of Christ, and envision myself carrying that cross, willing myself to share in His sufferings for his sake…for the purpose of participating with Him in His passion.  I can relate to Paul when he said this:

“Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:7-11)

…and this:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.  (Colossians 1:24-27)

The scourging…

Yesterday, I posted the following on New Things’ fb page.

Having my morning cuppa coffee and meditating on a passage in this morning’s prayer at http://www.universalis.com/.

Come, let us worship and bow down,
bend the knee before the Lord who made us;
for he himself is our God and we are his flock,
the sheep that follow his hand.

One thing I have learned in this journey into the Catholic Church, is the practice of bowing/kneeling before the altar/tabernacle. We do this before we seat ourselves at Mass, as a sign of reverence and respect to the the Lord, who is present with us. Since He is always with us, it is a beautiful reminder of my place before Him. The Word of God says that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that He is Lord. I’m just practicing up for the big event. 🙂

It does make me wonder though, why is it easy for us to confess that He is Lord, and so difficult to bow before Him?

After posting this, I prayed the Rosary while puttering around in my kitchen, doing dishes, scrubbing the floor, etc.  I love to be able to follow along with a recorded production, it helps my brain stay on track.

This particular rosary has little meditations before each Hail Mary, and when it got to the part about the scourging of Jesus, there was a phrase spoken, that though I’ve heard many times before, hit me in a whole new way:  “Then they genuflected before Him and pretended to pay Him homage”

Immediately, in my mind’s eye, I saw people walking into Mass.  Kneeling to the Tabernacle where Jesus is, bowing to His altar before being seated.  Making the sign of His cross over their bodies.   I saw the hypocrisy and pretension of one who comes in, kneels, and participates in the Mass, all the while holding a viewpoint or belief contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church, continuing in the sin that He came to die for.  While Jesus is present, offering His broken body for us, there are those who kneel and pretend.  And He stands there, receiving the mocking and scourging of the world, in the same way He did 2000 years ago.

While there are those who struggle to bend their knee to Christ, there is another extreme that will “go through the motions” while having their heart far from Him.  May it never be said of me, Lord.  Have mercy.  Make me genuine in my faith and love for you.  Keep my heart clean and sensitive to obedience of what You call me to do.  In Jesus’ Name.