Seeing the Light

I had a wonderful weekend. What made it so wonderful was the fact that we didn’t have to go anywhere. Minimal running around. Just doing chores around the house, homework. My husband worked on chopping wood in the yard. The younger kids did chores and then went outside to help their dad. Older kids buckled down to finish book reports that are due at the end of each month. I got my shopping done and put away. Got to practice some Christmas music with my husband. Just our family hanging around peacefully together. On Sunday we had a small potluck at our house and practiced more Christmas music with a group from our church. I got a phone call from my son who is in the army now. Sunday evening we sat around the fire and I read a big stack of books to my little kids. Just an all-round wonderful weekend. 

When I was a child and a teenager when I thought about adulthood, if I did at all, I thought about adventures. Travel. Movement. Now, as an adult, I still like travel and adventure, but those are more like fancy decorations on the cake. The cake itself is the main event. And I have found that the main event for me is the everyday living. Getting up in the morning, turning on the lamp and feeling warm and cozy in my bedroom. Rubbing my little boy’s head as I wake him up for school. Listening to the sweet chatter of my kids as they get ready for the day. Sitting in a quiet clean house and reading my Bible. Talking on the phone with my oldest daughter and laughing together over silliness. Going to the grocery store and recognizing the people that work there, having a friendly conversation in the checkout line. Exchanging text messages with my husband throughout the day.

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!

    People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. 

They feast on the abundance of your house;

    you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

    in your light we see light.

Psalm 36:7-9

In my younger days when I would hear things like, “The abundance of your house”, “river of delights”, “fountain of life”, I think my mind went to material things. Wealth. Abundance of stuff. Experiences that only money can buy. I never thought about it as peace in the everyday living. Contentment with the path you are walking. The ability to see beauty and wonder in the normal world around you.  I am learning that when we walk with Jesus we are given the ability to see things through a completely different filter. “In your light we see light.” 

This morning my kids were getting ready for school. My son had finished his book report project which included making a board game out of legos for the book, “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. His siblings were very impressed and he took the time to explain it to them. And I sat there and watched them and I felt overwhelmed with how wealthy and rich I am. My children are like treasure chests full of costly jewels. They are incredible! Beautiful! Wonderful! And I have the amazing wonder of getting to be their mom and spend regular Monday mornings with them, eating breakfast, getting ready for school. My life is so rich in blessing. I don’t think there are sufficient words to describe how blessed I am. 

This isn’t a brag fest. It’s encouragement to take a look at your own life. The treasures are there, surrounding you. Take some time to see them! Walk in Jesus’ light so you too can see light. 

Heaven On Earth

I am reading through C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” again. There is a section that really stood out to me. George Macdonald (as imagined by C.S. Lewis) is a citizen of Heaven, and he is speaking to the ghostly version of C.S. Lewis (not yet a citizen) (don’t read this book for doctrine, just for ideas) and he says, 

“And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say, ‘We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,’ and the Lost, ‘We were always in Hell.’ And both will speak truly.”

This really jumped out at me because lately I have been thinking about our time here on earth. I have been in awe of God’s artistry in nature. I feel like I am walking out into a majestic 3D painting every day and I just stop and stare and point out my favorite parts. The fall colors on that tree are amazing! Look at how the light is shining on our house! Look at that! And that! God’s handiwork, his own personal creation, surrounds us. And I am finding it a joy to see and notice and be thankful. And it does feel like heaven on earth. 

I’ve been taking pictures here and there, trying to capture the joy of the moment when you see beauty in the ordinary. 

I thought I’d share some of my pictures with you. 

My son had a leaf project for school. We had to gather some leaves and now he is making a book with an information page about each leaf. We walked through our neighborhood and he picked up any leaf he thought was pretty.

This summer I left some sweet potatoes in my kitchen for too long and they sprouted. I decided to plant them and just see what would happen. I didn’t pick the best place to plant them and my son accidentally weed-eated them once, so I wasn’t really hoping for much. When the cold weather was starting to move in this week, I went out with a shovel and dug in to see what was there. I got a tiny sweet potato harvest!! It made me happy.

Every morning I drive by a corner of the city that always hits me with how bright and cheerful and cozy it is. It makes me smile every day.

Last week I got to spend a couple days with my parents and actually got to grab a little alone time and lay in a hammock. This was my view.

So, those are a couple pictures of my heaven on earth moments. Hope you enjoyed. 

Growing Pains

Lately I have been facing down one of the weak injured areas in my life. My inability to enter into conflict, even when not saying anything means that I or someone else is being harmed. I believe in living peacefully with everyone, but in order for relationships to be healthy or situations to be healthy, you have to be willing to communicate that something is not Ok and be willing to have awkward, hard conversations so that the relationship or the situation can be healthier. This is not easy for me. And that is an understatement. I found myself in a situation this past week where I had to address several people about a situation and we had a group message going on. Every time my phone notified me of a new message I had a physical response. My adrenaline was going full blast, I felt like I needed to go for a run to shake off how shaky I felt. I was agitated, I couldn’t think straight and I just wanted to run and hide. And I was kind of asking God why on earth I was having to go through this. I could have just kept my mouth shut, let the whole messy thing slide by. But I really felt like this was something God wanted me to do. For my own sake. 

This week, for my Bible reading, I have been reading through the book of Numbers. Not my favorite book. I’ve kind of just been plowing through. Lots of questions. Lots of things I don’t understand. Not really feeling like this was a book that was going to personally touch my life. So, I was sitting at my table, early in the morning, still feeling bowed down from the ongoing conflict. And I started reading about how God had spies from the Israelite camp go into Canaan and come back and give a report. And they came back saying the new land was amazing, wonderful…but full of giants and we can never take the land and we are all going to die.. And I suddenly felt overwhelmed with remorse. I am being just like them. God is trying to lead me into a new land, a place of health and wholeness, and all I can do is complain. I don’t like this. This is too hard. I don’t want to do this. 

The Israelites were facing a big enemy and they had a big battle ahead of them. But they also had a big God who had already proved he could slay any enemy, part the red sea, provide water from the rock, bread from heaven. God had alread proved himself capable and faithful to help them with any challenge. And on the other side of the battle was their new home. The promised land. And the thing that was keeping them from moving forward was lack of faith. 

And I found myself praying for forgiveness for my lack of faith. Increase my faith Lord! I believe you have goodness waiting for me on the other side and that you will help me as I grow in this area. I am not alone in my battles. 

Now, several days later, the angsty part of the conflict is over. Everyone’s voices were heard. Grievances were aired. I don’t feel like we came to any amazing conclusion, but we are once again moving peacefully forward and some stronger boundaries have been set. And we now have a precedent to look back at when new troubles arrive and more hard conversations need to happen. Shaky steps of growth happening. And my faith feels a little bit stronger. 

Georgette Heyer, Confrontation, and Warriors

I just read a new book recently, “The Foundling” by Georgette Heyer. Regency Romance fluff. Except it wasn’t a romance. It was about a young man, a Duke, who was orphaned at birth, raised by his doting uncle and his staff and now, as a young man is finding his very protected, cosseted position rather suffocating. He wants to go out in the world and prove that he can actually take care of himself without the help of all of his faithful retinue. A coming of age type book. With a lot of humor. The main character is Gilly and he is a slight, short, gentle type, not very remarkable in his looks, but very kind. He is raised with an older cousin Gideon who is tall, handsome, muscular, in the Life Guards, fought in the war, and very fond of his little cousin. Gideon helps his cousin take off on an adventure, but later discovers the adventure got a bit too dangerous so he sets off to save the day. But when he arrives he discovers that his little cousin has already saved himself and has jumped head first into a whole new set of mishaps that he handily manages on his own. Several times Gideon is ready to jump in and help, but learns along with everyone else that his little cousin is very capable of taking care of himself and does not need the level of protection he’s used to offering. 

Ok. Sorry, long summary. There is a point. In the story Gideon was my favorite character. He was a protector. Capable. Everyone is safe when he’s around. I’ll come back to this in a second. 

Lately my foster parent life has been fraught with conflict. I have had to stand my ground in conversations with lawyers and angry persons and people who are just trying to stir up conflict because that’s the only world they know. I have had to be confrontational about wrongs done and I’ve had to deal with some really difficult topics. Y’all, that is not me. In the dictionary there is a picture of me next to the word nonconfrontational. I hate conflict of any kind. I hate people being angry. I hate awkwardness. And in one sense, this is good. I do not jump into fights, I diffuse them. I need peace at all times. And if I don’t have peace, I feel like I have done something wrong. But God has been showing me that a lot of times I avoid conflict and end up with unresolved problems that just fester under the surface and get worse. I don’t confront people, but maybe there are some things that need to be confronted. So that justice can happen, or maybe simply growth of character. I am having to learn that conflict is not my enemy. I am just at the baby steps of learning this, but it seems like God is throwing all kinds of situations my way so that I can get some practice. 

Back to Gideon. I have been wanting a Gideon to just show up in my life and slay the enemy. Run interference. Fix the problem. I am obviously too small and slight and weak to have to be handling this. 

This morning during our worship service I was still a ball of nerves from the latest confrontation and I was crying out to God for help. Protection. Why are you letting all these things come my way, why aren’t you keeping all this craziness far away from me? And while I was praying and singing I got a brief vision. It was me and I was all dressed up in shiny armor with a big shiny sword and I was battling some unseen enemy. And the thought that came to me was, you don’t need a warrior to protect you, you are the warrior and you are one protecting others. And I was looking at this person and thinking, that’s not me, I’m just a weakling, but then I could see that everything I was doing was being powered by the Holy Spirit, like a lightning bolt just resting on me, feeding me power. 

A little later I suddenly remembered this book “The Foundling”  again and I realized that I had missed the whole point of the book. The whole point was that Gilly had been trained and taught by his Uncle and all his various tutors and teachers and he was ready to go out and face the world. And when he did, he slayed all his enemies and proved himself Capable and Resourceful, ready to be his own person. He didn’t need Gideon to be his protector any more. 

I admit, I do not like the idea of myself being the warrior. Safety and protection are a big deal to me, but Ephesians 6:10-17 talks about putting on the full armor of God. Paul seems to be talking to everyone. Not just the men. Not just the strong people. Not just the pastors. Everyone. Everyone needs to put on the full armor of God and be ready to stand. 

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12

I appreciate the leadership of my husband in our home and the protection he gives to our family. I appreciate the leadership and spiritual protection that our pastors give to our local church body. But I was called to join the struggle too. Walk in that Holy Spirit power and fight. Fight with prayer. Fight with truth. Fight with confronting wrong and standing up even when it makes me uncomfortable and awkward and longing for someone else to just come in and take over for me. 

Do I Have a Servant Heart?

I read a difficult Bible passage this past week that has been stuck in my mind. 

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’” Luke 17:7-10

In our culture, reading anything about slaves tends to put my hackles up. Slavery is wrong. All men are created equally. We should be kind and considerate to everyone! I find it rather offensive to think about someone owning a slave, making them work out in a field all day and then making them come inside and have no rest and continue to serve their master. Is Jesus saying I should be a slave? That I am unworthy? 

Other Bible verses come to mind.  

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15: 15-16 

Not a servant. Friends. Chosen. 1 John 3:1 says that God loves us so much that we are called sons of God. Reading these other verses I don’t feel like my status with God is that of a lowly slave. 

As I’ve thought about the passage in Luke I’ve realized that it is a good measure of how much of a servant heart I have. How firmly embedded my pride and sense of entitlement are in my very nature. 

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 43-45

Yes, we are sons of God, Friends of Jesus. Chosen. Loved. But we are called to be like Jesus, and Jesus, despite being King of Kings, God, Creator, Ruler of all, he was a servant. And we’ve been called to be like Jesus and serve others. 

The other night I came home exhausted. Right after school I had to take two of my children to a location out West, thirty minutes away, and then after being there an hour and half, had to drive to another part of town to pick up another child from sports practice. I didn’t get home till 6:30pm and I had been driving in horrible rush hour traffic for over an hour. I had expected that my other family at home would have already eaten the supper I had left prepared for them. I anticipated just grabbing a plate of food for myself and being able to relax for a couple minutes. Instead, I walked in the door and found out that everyone else was waiting for me to get home before they ate. Nothing was set out. The table was littered with homework and toys and papers. Mess. I lost it. Had a total hissy fit. Much to the horror of my poor family who were simply anticipating a family meal together whenever I got home. Later, all I could think about was the passage in Luke and how far I was from having a true servant heart. Cause I had been working hard all day, and I wanted to come home and be served. Have some rest. Get some appreciation for how hard I had been working. And yes, there is a time and a place for rest and appreciation. But sometimes, everyone in the family has been working hard, everyone is exhausted, and what the family needs is someone to come in and patiently continue to serve. 

That is the heart I want to have. And sometimes I fail miserably. But I have to realize, having a servant heart is something I need Jesus to do inside of me. It’s not something I can get on my own. I hold to the promise that says,

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

I’m trusting that God will continue to soften my heart and teach me how to serve like Jesus. 

The Road to Peace and Calm

My oldest son enlisted in the army. He leaves tomorrow for basic training. Someone asked me how I felt about that. Proud. Hopeful. Scared. Worried. My list of WHAT IFS are pretty long. In the end, I have to believe that God has his hand on my son. Every once in a while though, I forget. Have a little freak out. Then take a deep breath and believe again. 

I had a birthday this week and I’ve been trying to do a little looking back at the last year. A little looking forward. Reflecting. I’m middish forties now. You know, I really had this belief that as you hit your middle years things would kind of calm down. Not pregnant and changing diapers. Not in the buying-a-home stage any more. My husband’s work and career are stable. I’m fully immersed in raising my children. We’ve been at the same church for years and years and love it. Life should be pretty smooth by now, right? 

Instead I am finding that the role of spectator to my adult children’s lives is a lot more tumultuous than I was anticipating. My husband has learned to ask me, “Do you want me to fix this or just listen?” And I find myself now, as a mom, no longer in the fix-it role for my adult kids, and just in the listen and support role. And so I stand on the sidelines and cheer and pray and try really hard not to worry. (Let me add that they are great kids, making good choices, it’s just really easy to worry.)

I will also add that taking on the role of foster mom has done nothing to make our lives peaceful. Probably the hardest part is, again, the fact that as a foster mom you don’t have a lot of control over the situation. Your job is to love and care for the child, but the child’s future is in the hands of lawyers and judges and bio-families. And you really want to fix-it: I’m going to decide what’s best and that is what we will do. But instead you are only called to support from the sidelines while others make the big decisions. 

Maybe the word I’m looking for here is Control. I think maybe I had this perception that as I got older I would have a lot more control over things. Control means no nasty surprises. It means things go the way you planned.  Calm. Smooth. 

Of course, probably not a lot of personal growth when you control everything. Looking back this past year, I can see a lot of pain. But I also see a lot of change and healing. Growth. I was put in a lot of places I didn’t want to be. As a result, I learned a lot more about forgiveness. Patience. Kindness. Grace. Self Control.

So here I am, middish forties. My son is going off to be a soldier. I have no control over this situation at all. But I’m going to learn a lot more about faith and prayer. Fostering. I can’t control the outcome, but I’m learning a lot more about how to love hurt people. Raising children. You want everything to work out perfectly for them, and it doesn’t. But you learn to trust that God loves them even more than you do and he has a plan. 

I want control because that seems like the path to peace and calm. But really, the path to peace and calm is faith in Jesus. My middle years are full of craziness, but I can also testify that my inner life is a lot more peaceful than when I was in my twenties. My faith is stronger. And I guess that’s the kind of peace and calm that I need. 

Cross Country Race

My son, who is a freshman, joined cross country running this year. He’s never run before. Our highschool does not have many sports teams, just cross country, track, bowling… We don’t have any sports fields. It’s a magnet school with a big academic focus. No loss for our family as we are not particularly athletically minded. But, I am proud of my son for making an effort to try something new and get involved in his new school. His coach told me that he would do great. Our team is usually last place and the focus is for each student to make personal improvements. Perfect. 

I went to my son’s second race this morning. It was at Johnson University. I took two other kids with me. We found the parking, walked across a big field carrying camp chairs. We found a place to set up and I pulled out my book to read while we waited for things to start. My other kids explored the area. The girls ran their race first. After we all watched them take off, I moved our chairs over closer to the finish line so we could see the end and encourage the runners. They had to make three one-mile loops, and the last leg was straight up a big hill. 

I am finding that I really like cross country as a sport for kids. When all the runners took off, you could quickly see who was leading the pack. For both the girls and boys race there was one runner who was far ahead of their peers and you knew they were probably going to win. And every time they passed our part of the track we cheered them on. Super impressive. Wow. But after maybe the first ten runners went by, the shift of the cheering changed. Now we were just cheering each runner that went past because we wanted to see them succeed in this goal they had set, to run three miles. 

There was this one older guy, wearing his school’s colors, leaning over the line, yelling encouragement to all the runners, especially his team. He knew all of them by name and he yelled at each one, COME ON!! KEEP IT UP! YOU CAN DO IT! DON’T LET THEM PASS YOU! PICK IT UP! KEEP GOING!! His tone was kind of rough, someone you would almost expect to be rude or belligerant, but he wasn’t. Everything he said was encouraging. Even when kids, not from his team, lagging far behind the others would pass by, he’d call them out by their team jerseys. COME ON CMA, YOU CAN DO IT! ALMOST THERE!! 

There was one boy there who was running with an older gentleman as his escort. I don’t know what his circumstances were, he came in next to last, but oh, how everybody cheered! He did it! He finished! Whatever his back story was, we had all just witnessed him achieve his goal. 

In the girls race about half the runners had crossed the finish line and this one girl came tearing up the hill, full out sprinting, giving it everything she got. Y’all, I got teary eyed. It was so inspiring. Was she going to win any recognition for crossing the line? Not really. She wasn’t even in the top twenty. But she was doing her best and putting all her effort into it. And that, to me, is just as much or more than any medals or ribbons.

I came away inspired. I’m running my race too. It doesn’t matter if I’m in the top ten or if I get any recognition for what I’m doing. It’s just giving it my best, pacing myself, knowing when to sprint and when to slow down. And knowing that the ultimate finish line is waiting for me one day and I plan on finishing strong. And I’m so thankful for my cheering squad that yells encouragement from the sidelines. And I hope I can be that cheering squad for others too. 

Onion Zucchini Blueberry Muffins

The other day I made blueberry muffins for breakfast. Not really as a treat, but more because I was out of cereal and bagels and I didn’t feel like making oatmeal. I started getting everything out and was almost instantly surrounded by children all wanting to “help”.

Ok.

Fine.

My three youngest hovered around me, fetching milk and eggs, holding the measuring cup while I poured stuff into it. Everyone wanted to stir. An argument broke out on who was going to lick the spoon. Usually, I dump a can of pumpkin into my muffins, but I suddenly remembered that I had a ziploc bag of shredded zucchini in the fridge that would go great in muffins. I grabbed the ziploc bag out of the fridge and started dumping it into the batter. 

There was an instant outcry.

What are you doing??? What is that?? Why are you putting it into the muffins!

And then a cry went out to all the other kids, MOM’S PUTTING WEIRD STUFF IN THE MUFFINS!! And then more kids gathered around to see what on earth mom was doing. 

Relax guys. It’s like zucchini bread. Remember zucchini bread?? It’s good. You like it. You won’t even taste it in the muffins.

Good grief. 

Ok, so that is what was coming out of my mouth. But in my head I was having a freak-out meltdown. Because, as I was dumping that zucchini in the batter I had got a strong whiff of onions. And I suddenly remembered that when I had been grating that zucchini in my food processor, the night before, I had been grating it in order to add it to soup. And I had also been processing onions. And I hadn’t bothered scraping out the food processor in between veggies, cause it was all going into the soup. Except I ended up with too much zucchini, so I just stuck the leftover into a ziploc, all mixed up with onions. And now I had just dumped zucchini/onions into my blueberry muffin batter. And I was now having to defend my choice loudly to my children. 

I always put some cinnamon sugar on top of the muffin batter before I bake it. 

Let me tell you, I heaped on the sugar this time. (Maybe if it’s super sweet, no one will taste onions??). 

I stuck those things in the oven and then went and collapsed in my room. Away from children. Feeling depressed. What a way to start the day. 

Mess up breakfast. 

Cause let me tell you, these kids were already feeling suspicious about the zucchini. They were already on hard-alert, ready to find anything wrong that they could. And now there was actually something wrong to find. 

The timer finally went off and I pulled my beautiful onion zucchini blueberry muffins out of the oven. They looked delicious. I sent off a heartfelt prayer. Lord, you are a miracle worker and your miracles don’t have to be big and extravagant. Could you please, just let these muffins taste fine and not taste like onions??? 

And prayers were answered. They tasted great. The kids loved them. They went back for thirds. 

And now you are probably feeling very hesitant to eat anything I make. And all I can say about that is, you’re probably right to be cautious. 

Follow me for more creative ways to mess up when cooking. 

Sleeping on the Boat

I have a problem with worrying. I latch onto something. Worry it to death, until finally enough time has passed that it is no longer an issue. I take a deep breath of relief. Then I look around and pick up another problem that I can worry about. It has occurred to me that unless something changes, I will be doing this the rest of my life. I can’t relax until this problem is solved. I can’t relax until I know that this is going to be ok. I’ll feel better once I know this problem has been fixed. 

I will never run out of problems to worry about. There will always be another problem waiting patiently for me. There will never be a time when I can just sigh and say, finally, all my problems have disappeared.

Now, in my defense, some of these problems are big whoppers. Giant problems. Anyone else faced with these problems would be just as down and worried as I am. They’re not things I can just shrug off as inconsequential. They are huge. In fact, I’ve got one of those giant worries facing me right now. 

My brain works really hard to fix these things. It plays out every single scenario it can think of. What if it turns out like this? What about that? What about if this happens instead? And I guess that’s probably a form of trying to have control over the situation. If I fully understand every single nuance and variation of the problem, maybe it won’t be so scary and overwhelming? 

I woke up at 5am this morning. My brain instantly focusing onto my problem and worrying it to death. And I could feel myself panicking. And I suddenly remembered a picture my daughter painted.

She called it, sleeping on the boat with Jesus. And I was reminded again. Keep my eyes on Jesus, not the storm. He’s in control. He’s got this. Just focus on him. 

I was thinking about that more this morning and I also remembered the scene from the movie, The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies where the bowman shoots the dragon, using his son’s shoulder as support for his arrow. His son is freaking out and he calms him by reminding him to look at his father, not the dragon or the destruction around him. Look at me. 

I was reminded again how much I and my family are loved by God. He’s got this. He’s in control. Just focus on him. The storm rages around us, but we are safe. 

I know I’ve written about worry before. I learn how to let it go. And then I forget and get right back into the habit again. So, this is my timely reminder. Again. Worry does nothing. Doesn’t fix it. Doesn’t make me feel better. And I’m never going to run out of things to worry about. So, might as well enjoy my day, choose peace. Keep my eyes focused on the only one who has the power to fix the problems that surround me. Trust him. And take a little nap on the boat.

The Sufferings of Christ

It’s been a long, painful week. Stuff happened. As it seems want to do. 

I live in my imagination a lot, and what I imagined at the beginning of the week was myself, a gunshot wound to my chest, bleeding all over, entering into the throne room of God and just collapsing on the floor in front of him. No words to say. Just, here I am. Here’s what shape I’m in.  And while I was laying there imagining this, the phrase that came to my mind was, “Enter into the sufferings of Christ”. 

I’ve been thinking about that phrase all week. My imaginary hole in my chest has been bound, wrapped up in bandages. Healing medicine poured over it. I’m still walking slowly and carefully, feeling very fragile, but I’m whole. And I keep circling back. What does that mean? Why do I have to enter into the sufferings of Christ? What is the point? 

My prayer over the years has been, make me more like you Jesus. More of you, less of me. I admit, when I say that, what I mean is, I want to be more loving, more patient, more kind, more selfless, etc. I was not thinking of these verses from Isaiah 53, verse 3 and 4:

He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Familiar with pain. Took up our pain. Bore our suffering. 

No, I was definitely not thinking about that when I said I wanted to be more like Jesus. 

My husband and I have done some soul searching this week. Questioning some of our choices. If a choice leads to pain and suffering then it has to be wrong, right? But I keep coming back to the fact that we made these choices because we felt it was an obedience to God and what the Bible teaches. And it still led to suffering. And that kind of hurts the brain.  

Enter into the sufferings of Christ. In doing this, does this mean that I am becoming more like Jesus? Not only sharing in his joy and love but in his pain and suffering?

When I hit my crisis it wasn’t long before I turned to one of my friends for help and comfort. And yes, she’s a close friend so I would have turned to her first anyway, but it was so much more meaningful because I knew she had been in a similar situation to mine. She could empathize and give good counsel. She had already suffered through this and could meet me exactly where I was at. And she was kind of a physical Jesus to me in my sufferings. Only possible because she had suffered herself. Does suffering make us more able to be the hands and feet of Jesus? 

Through all of this, I can testify. God is faithful. He heals the brokenhearted. He breathes hope on my soul. When I am at my lowest, I find his presence the strongest. The Holy Spirit has been faithful to whisper scripture in my ear that has kept me from falling into anger or judgement. 

Funnily enough, God was gracious enough to allow me to get Covid this week. Yeah, who needs covid? But, because of that I have been able to cancel a multitude of appointments, completely clear my schedule and just have time to rest and process. I’m still getting better, but my husband only had to take one day off to take care of the kids and household before I had enough energy to cover the basics again. 

Enter into the sufferings of Christ. I’m still figuring out what this means, but what I do know is that it is a journey that makes me more like Him. And that is what I want.