Homesick

“I close my eyes and I see your face, if home’s where the heart is, then I’m out of place…I’ve never been more homesick than now.”

Marking time.  No real accomplishment but the recording of tally marks on the walls of our minds for the time spent.

Homesick is the perfect word for it.

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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.

 

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)

Plan A, Plan B

Yesterday, I set out to make breakfast for my husband before he left for work.  I had the sausage browned and crumbled, added the flour to make a roux, and reached for the milk from the fridge.  I didn’t realize until I had started to pour that the milk had soured.  My whole plan for eggs with sausage gravy and toast was ruined.

On to Plan B.  Steak that was to be used for supper later in the week with scrambled eggs and fried spuds.  My husband, who is very much a “meat and potatoes” kinda guy was much pleased with the change in plan, and commented that next time, we should just skip plan A and start with plan B.

Funny, but it made me think.  Plan A is often optimistic, and filled with good intentions.  Much like our plan A  to move to Canada and start a new life there.  We were filled with anticipation, and grand plans of getting to know husband’s side of the family, and be available to assist in the care of his aging father.  This plan also was handy for the purpose of removing our youngest daughter from dangerous surroundings and peers who were dragging her down.  We were led to believe that there was work for my husband there, only to find once we arrived that we had been misled, or at least misinformed.  The certification for the job that he had done for 25 years in the U.S. was not a valid certification in Canada.  To obtain valid certification would require $700 to take a test, that was graded and judged by the same individuals who would then sell modules to bring him up to standard in areas that he may have not been up to par with, in their biased opinion.  We simply did not have that kind of money to gamble away on a potential to have to pay more.  It was a clear conflict of interest, and so, the search for different work ensued.

Long story short, we never did find work sufficient to supporting the four of us there.  Our plan A had fallen flat.  Added to that humiliation and disappointment was unexpected and fractured family dynamics, homelessness, and total dependence on strangers.

Our Plan A was the soured milk on the anticipation and good intended breakfast.

Fast forward a year…our Plan B has landed us in the deep south.  With the help of some beautiful friends and family members, we are slowly but surely getting back on our feet.  We find ourselves in a situation that calls for the same heart desire we had when heading to Canada.  We are getting to know family members that had been distant, and are able to support them in their role of caring for a terminally ill family member.  Our Plan B, right now is steak and potatoes!  It’s not perfect, definitely not what we expected, but there are a lot of really good things coming out of our failed Plan A…things that require the same heart intentions we had when preparing for the move to Canada.

What if our Plan A was the means to bring about God’s Plan A in us?

What if God’s plans (being higher than our plans…his ways above our ways) are not labeled alphabetically or numbered according to importance.

What if the way we view “all things working together for good” is not about how pleasant and smooth the circumstances are, or how great we feel, or how we perceive “good” to be.

What if the good He’s bringing about is not about the tangible things at all…but in the hidden work He is doing in us, his workmanship.

What if it really is all about me!?  Me becoming less, so that He can become more…me being pressed into the mold of Jesus, being conformed to His image.

What if knowing God’s will…His Plan A, if you will…is as simple as Micah 6:8.

He has shown you, Oh man, what is good and what the Lord requires.  To do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with Your God.

If we were intent on fulfilling the most simply stated “will of God”, it wouldn’t matter if we were in Idaho, Canada, the deep south or Timbuktu.

If we are loving God with all of our heart soul and mind;

if we are behaving ourselves in a just, merciful, and humble way;

if we are loving our neighbor as ourselves, and doing all that we do for the glory of God; then we are accomplishing God’s Plan A for our lives, where ever we may find ourselves.

Of Suffering

The subject of suffering has come up multiple times this week.  I feel this is something the Lord wants me to process and what better place than here, on my blog?  Suffering.  What is it?  Is it necessary?  Why/Why not?  What good could possibly come from pain?  What do we do with our pain–specifically, how are we, as God’s treasured, redeemed children, to respond to suffering?  How do we bring glory to God through our trials?

According to dictionary.com “suffer” is defined as “to undergo or feel pain or distress”; “to sustain injury, disadvantage, or loss”; or “to endure pain, disability, death, etc., patiently or willingly”.

Defined from personal experience, suffering is any painful trial that brings me to the end of myself, my coping skills, and my own reserves.  My list of examples would include loss of home and property, cancer, death, financial stress, rebellious children, weight gain, physical, emotional, or spiritual injury, persecutions, unemployment…the list could go on and on.

People suffer for different reasons; we know that  we suffer the consequences of our own personal choices (i.e. if I choose to eat junk and not exercise, I’m going to gain weight and feel yucky), and sometimes, we suffer from the bad choices of others (i.e. rebellious children who know better, but choose to disregard wisdom, and embrace folly…this causes many a parent to suffer, sometimes to the point of suffering the loss of a wayward child), but often bad things happen to good people who have done nothing wrong (i.e. Job).  Why would a good person suffer, while the wicked prosper?  This is an age-old question, asked by the best of scholars, philosophers, and saints:  Job (Job 21), King David (Psalm 73), Solomon (Ecclesiastes 4, 7), to name a few, all wondered at the sovereignty of God that would allow the righteous to suffer, and the unrighteous to prosper.

And, don’t we all ask this question at one time or another?  We don’t know WHY we suffer.  We can’t wrap our heads around why God allows the things He does, and this is not a surprise to Him, because He tells us in Isaiah 55

8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When I was caring for my terminally ill parents, my Momma and I had some sweet, deep conversations about God’s will.  I told her at one point, “this is not the way I would have written this story“, to which she wisely replied “Well, honey, you are not the Author.”  Momma knew her Lord, and she knew His word, and I believe He gave her a special, personal glimpse into His perfect will that allowed such a profound word to be spoken in due season. 

As I look at the subject of suffering, it becomes clear to me that my thoughts are going to take up way more than just one blog post.  This looks like a good place to stop.  TBC…