Category Archives: faith
my personal relationship with Him
“the most destructive tornado in the history of the world.” thousands upon thousands of families displaced. death toll rising. two elementary schools demolished. TWO! heartbreaking doesn’t even begin to describe it.
as our state cries, prays, pitches in (because that’s what we do), and mourns together, it’s hard not to ask the impossible questions. WHY would God allow this?! HOW is this part of His perfect plan?! WHERE is God when schoolchildren are clinging to each other while the building is torn apart around them?
even after decades of trusting and believing in God, my reflex is to cry out in frustration, sorrow, and anger. because while i can see God in the instinctive, selfless, generous relief efforts of the oklahoma family… it’s hard to reconcile the devastation and grief that destruction of this magnitude brings.
if there’s anything i’ve learned from enduring senseless, life-changing loss, it’s that God is still God, He is still Good, and He is still near. i’ve felt the pain and defeat of losing a battle despite our most earnest prayers, valiant efforts, and steadfast faith. i’ve questioned my convictions and struggled to find purpose in tragedy.
and i unreservedly choose — day by day, through each new trial — to glorify God and seek His divine comfort through the healing and rebuilding. He is close to the brokenhearted, and He’s not leaving.
“a date on the calendar only has power over you if you let it.“
my husband’s gentle but emphatic encouragement shows his characteristic wisdom. i’m not sure exactly why another anniversary of life without my mother has me so out of sorts, because it’s really no different than any other day, but for some reason the milestone can effectively cast a cloud over my entire week. i think it is because the date is not just another reminder of her; this day–this week–two years ago is practically the only unhappy memory i have of her.
because almost all reminders of my mom evoke wistful smiles or all-out grins.
even the ones that reduce me to a blubbering mess. i went to see the movie Brave a few weeks ago, by myself. it’s a good thing the theater was nearly empty, because i would have certainly disturbed any moviegoers nearby. the story centers around the relationship between a mother and daughter, and theirs was so similar to the closeness i shared with my mom that i was overwhelmed by the intensity of my emotions and cried through most of it. sobbed, really.
but the tears were intermingled with laughs and warm feelings as i recognized myself reflected in the heroine every time she said “mo-om!”
when the mother character found herself in a position of needing to rely on her daughter for knowledge crucial to her survival, the familiar mother-daughter dynamic that was portrayed on the screen was a bittersweet reminder my last of our last years together.
while the movie wrecked me and temporarily sharpened the “missing her” pangs, it did so in a way that brought to mind sweet memories and filled me with gratitude for the amazing relationship i had with my mother. in the movie, the girl had to be brave, but in my life, it was my mother who exemplified this trait.
“Trust in ultimate victory gives ultimate courage…Real courage embraces twin realities of current difficulty and ultimate
triumph.” – Max Lucado, Fearless, Ch. 13
my mom displayed unfaltering courage in the face of difficulty, and it inspires me to do the same. her awe of Jesus fueled her courage and positively impacted so many people. i know i have a long way to go before i can truly emulate her like i want to. to truly be brave.
*the image above was created by the talented traci martin (charcoal drawing from a photo) for a project of the Visual Arts Ministry at CCC. my mother wrote Exodus 15:26 on a beam in the unfinished new site of her church and traci’s mom captured the photo. traci titled the piece “As Awe of Jesus Expands, Fears of Life Diminsh.“
you are a selfish, selfish person. i hear my thoughts as if they are being hissed in my ears. how can you let your frustrations rob the joy from beautiful new beginnings?
i stare at myself in the mirror and play the mind-game again. what if? suppose it happens tomorrow? what then? i squeeze my eyes shut in imagination and try to decipher my swirling emotions. fear? not quite. nervousness? only a little. excitement? dread? joy? sorrow? perhaps all of the above.
the part of my heart that throbs with the chronic dull pain wants no part it—the inevitable wringer of heart-wrenching grief traps that would surely lie in wait if we were to take that step. that piece of me would much rather decline the invitation for constant glaring reminders that someone is missing. woefully, unjustly absent.
then the sensible side of my spirit speaks up again in that unkind, berating tone. you can’t allow your disappointment over a trashed first draft to prevent you from writing an awesome second one. this is about building your family with your husband, not your lost moments with your mom.
but it’s about both. because a large part of me is convinced that as soon as i start preparing for kids of my own without being able to share it with my mother, that this shaky daily survival that i’ve established will be rocked again. i worry that i won’t be able to maintain the normal-ish, mostly happy existence that i’ve settled into over the past eighteen months. the very thought is enough to make me want to avoid the possibility altogether.
i thought the bliss from the birth of my precious, precious niece would help prove my pessimistic side wrong. and it did. kinda. but the thought of walking through that experience personally, and not just alongside my sister, still leaves me a little broken inside.
i still hope for new beginnings. i still dream of building a legacy with lee, and passing down the legacy handed to me. and i still believe my God will sustain me with the inexplicable joy amidst the sorrow that only He is capable of—in the same way he has always delivered before.
His whispers are louder than my hissing thoughts: “there is no way your hurt or dismay can rob the joy from the beautiful new beginnings I bring.”
this post is a response to a challenge by jeff goins to write something dangerous, to share something scary. just write.
photo by haleigh russell
since it is valentine’s week, i thought i’d share my thoughts about a book on love. and because many have had their fill of sappy romance for awhile after v-day, i chose a book with a decidedly un-sentimental approach to love. this week’s bookworm wednesday review looks at a book that was a life- and truth-saver for me after suffering emotional and spiritual wounds: Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J.P. Moreland. (4.5 of 5 stars).
sometimes, when life happens, and you begin to question all you’ve always held true…sometimes you just need to approach your area of uncertainty in a new way. my relationship with God has always been more emotional, more a matter of the heart. my relationship with His Word was surely intellectual, but i always based my faith and convictions more on what i had known since childhood to be true in my heart. i didn’t even realize where i had built my foundation until my heart was torn and my faith had to find new footing.
moreland presents a methodical, logical case for the role of the mind in spiritual transformation, challenging us to develop a Christian mind and to use our intellect to explore theology, doctrine, and spiritual growth. the analytical, academic style in which moreland presents the information was just what i needed when i read his book, and reminded me of nancy pearcy’s total truth (another life-changing book that i read a few years ago and hold as one of my top five favorite books).
i read this book while taking a theology course at the credo house, and between the two resources i gratefully found a more solid foundation for my beliefs and a new home for my love for God. if you need some traction in your faith, check out this book as a starting point, and fill in the gaps with a course or two in the theology program—they offer online options.
have you ever needed to change your angle in order to gain some spiritual perspective? what helped you re-focus?
dread is often—i would even venture to say usually—much worse than the actual cringe-worthy event. i should know that by now. but it doesn’t stop me from letting apprehension build with the approach of something i would rather avoid, deny, ignore.
i don’t know what was most offensive about this unwelcome milestone – the fact that time has had the audacity to keep marching on, or that i now have a marker to make me feel woefully lagging on where i’m “supposed to be” emotionally by this point. the pain is still fresh, the shock still wearing off, yet my excuse for emotional episodes can no longer be an acceptable “my mom died last year.”
although unintentional, i’d established a self-imposed statute of limitations on my grief. in my mind, once we were on the other side of the year mark, the expectations on my feelings, actions, and reactions would be different…even though i honestly don’t feel much different.
while i’m certain not one of my family or friends would ever place a time constraint on my healing process, i feared that people wouldn’t understand. as if the general consensus after a certain period of time is “the sorry window is closed on that.”
but when i woke this morning (the day after The Day), i felt considerably lighter. as i read God’s word, i felt Him reminding me that He has been, is, and will be my strength, comfort, and joy amidst the sorrow. i realized that while the longing for my mother is still just as strong as the first day without her, she would be proud of the way her family has spent this last year honoring her memory, glorifying The Healer, rejoicing in new beginnings, enjoying fun times, and leaning on each other.
missing my mom desperately is not a sign of weakness, because healing is not a matter of moving on from someone who will eternally be an intimate part of my life. it’s about moving forward, on purpose, fearlessly.
it’s amazing how surviving one of your worst fears, and and experiencing God’s provision though it, renders all other threats innocuous.