Friday, September 27, 2013

Nothing But Grace

I still remember – 23 years and 27 days ago when the sweetest little blue-eyed, blond fuzzed baby was handed to me.  Minutes before, she had finally emerged after a ten month pregnancy and 16 hour labor, gray and still.  The midwife quietly said, “Rick, pray for your baby.”  He asked, “Why?”  My mother told me later she nearly screamed at that point.  My precious midwife simply stated that our little girl was not breathing.  While Donna worked to clear her airways and administer oxygen, my young husband prayed for God to breathe life into our little girl.  I watched, propped up on my elbows, curiously at peace.  In just a few minutes, she took her first breath and began to turn from ashen to rosy.  She didn’t cry, but I did.  Much later, after we shared a bath of healing herbs and made it through the strenuous ordeal of my first attempt at dressing her, we were tucked into bed together and I looked down at my daughter.  All those long months ago when I lay on this same bed terrified at the prospect of the labor I had just experienced, I had no idea how amazing it was going to be.  I felt so proud of what I had done.  I had never known grace like that – as strength to do something hard, something scary and do it well.  To know that no matter what, I could get through it because I wasn’t doing it alone. 

When Rick came to me later, a little worried that somehow our little daughter knew he thought she was a boy all this time and was somehow wounded by that, I was still marveling at the grace I had experienced.  He was able to dip into it himself and let go of his fears.  Together we decided to name our daughter Catherine Grace, which simply means pure grace.  She was the living embodiment of the grace we had been learning to receive from our Heavenly Father while she was being formed and delivered. 

Now, here I am 23 years and 27 days later, counting the few hours that remain until she leaves us.  Of course, she will be back, but not to stay.  This is her time to fly.  The nest is too small.  The community is too small.  The entire state of Texas is too small!  This woman has a heart for the nations and she won’t be held back!  She is still the living embodiment of pure grace.  She has an astonishing capacity for love and joy that I could never have given her.  She is a priceless treasure, mine and yet not mine anymore. 

And this mother is once again looking for the grace to do something hard, something scary and do it well.  


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Real Life Meets Real God

Yesterday was tough:  busy schedule, heart-bruising conversation with someone close, crowded roads, endless demands and finally headache and mind-numbing fatigue.  Nothing new here, sad to say.  It’s an age-old joke - the weariness of women and the headache that goes with it. 

In the quiet sunlight this morning, this thought came:  What if the weariness comes from taking up burdens and carrying them on my back all day as I try to go about my business.  Fear, self-reproach, disappointment, anger, shame – they are all like heavy rocks in my pack and not very conducive to leaping up to the high places! 

Then my heart cries out to my Father God.  I see my foolishness so clearly this morning as I never did as I staggered through yesterday.  Why didn’t I run to Him and lay all these rocks down at His feet?  Placed there, they could become an altar for my wounded pride, my self-sufficiency to die upon once more.  Once again, I know the truth – Apart from Him, I can do nothing. 

So why do I so often shrink back from drawing near? 

Because… I'm mad at Him.  For allowing all this pain.  For not fixing it all years ago.  I look around and everyone else looks so much closer to “done” in God’s oven.  They look golden brown and ready.  I feel like mush.  My soul screams, “Why?”  Why does it have to be like this?  Why this road?  Why these problems?  Why? 

And now, I need to go find a secret place and pour out the anguish of my soul.  Now, I’m on my knees and undone.  It is pain, but it is a good pain because instead of a pain that sits like a rock on soul, it is a pain that pours out and leaves behind the absence of heaviness, something that feels like peace.  In this place, He asks me a question.  Why is not important here.  The question is this:  “Will you trust Me?”

I weep on Jesus’ feet and know that He was here before me.  I look at the pain, poured out all around me, and I look at Him.  I know Him to be faithful.  I know Him to be good.  I look in my heart and I know that I believe He will keep His promises.  He will make it all right.  He will even make all the pain worth it. 

Of course I will trust Him.  In the fits and starts of my slow-to-learn heart, I will trust Him.  For me there is no choice.  He is Life and Light and though I do not understand His ways, I trust Him and His Love – for me, for the ones I love and for all the souls who cry out “Why?”.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spring Cleaning My Heart

Like dust bunnies under the bed that you don't think about until you have a reason to confront them, I've recently found some not so cute and fuzzy things hanging around in my heart.  Timidity, fear, apprehension, tentativeness - they all belong to the same family and I've only just been made aware of a whole other crop of them that have been hiding in the corners of my heart.  I've battled fears in many forms and really thought I was walking in freedom.  My first clue that I wasn't quite as victorious as I thought came from an unlikely source:  piano lessons.  I've been so blessed to begin taking piano lessons from a wonderful, gifted, amazing Russian woman who just happens to live across the street.  My Abba Father is so awesome!  She is unlike any teacher I ever had growing up.  She has a passion for music and life that inspires me.  She also intimidates the heck out of me!  As my lessons have progressed, we've both become aware of this timidity and fear of making a mistake that has a strangle hold on my mind and my hands.  I even battle it when I am practicing at home.  Weird, huh?   I've begun praying about it and asking my Abba to set me free from it.  As usual, it is not a microwave fix, but slowly and surely He is peeling back the layers of this mess.  I've come to see that the root is the lie I believed somewhere way down deep and long ago that says, "You must be perfect to be loved."  I can't make mistakes because I have to do it all right.  I've been tempted to quit playing the piano just because I make so many mistakes.  I thought if I really had any talent for it, I wouldn't make so many mistakes.  How silly!  If no one ever did anything unless they could do it well from the beginning, how very little would ever be accomplished.  I don't want to live this way anymore - afraid of trying and failing.  I want to be brave enough to try even if I fail the first twenty times.  I want to live my life in a brave stride instead of a cautious crawl.  As Miss Luda tells me, I must be courageous! 

So, this morning, the Holy Spirit and I took the broom of Truth (it can also be a sword!) and we swept out those lying spirits.  Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of mistakes, fear of being hurt - and all their friends were given their notice of eviction.  I told them they no longer had any permission to hang out in my heart and to take their junk and go in the name of Jesus.  Yes!  I am asking the Holy Spirit to clean that area up completely and bring love, power and a sound mind to live there instead!  Hallelujah!  Our God is so good!  He takes broken, imperfect, hopeless people and transforms them by His mighty power and love.  How can you not love a God like that? 

Just one more thing - when He transforms us - it isn't into perfection - it is into relationship with Himself.  I can't, but He can.  Apart from Him, I can do nothing, but I am not apart from Him anymore!  I'm in Him and He is in me.  That means anything is possible! 

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
                                                                                                               2 Timothy 1:7

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.                                                                                              Romans 5:8