Day 23: Ladders and Life

I had dinner in a tree house tonight, which was both exhilarating and slightly unnerving.

While the boys conquered the ladder with no trouble, the two ladies stood on the ground looking up, trying to decide if this was a good idea.

Fortunately my aunt shared her expertise, “As long as you keep your eyes on where you’re going instead of where you’ve come from, you’ll be okay.”

Then her eyes sparkled as the thought occurred to her, and she smiled and said, “Hey! That’s a good metaphor for you for life right now isn’t it?”

Indeed. Lately, healing feels almost as scary as the climb looks from the ground.

The only way to get through it is to look up… and take the next step.

Right now that’s about all I can manage while I’m hanging on with a death grip to the support God has made available to me: His Word, and His people.

“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting in you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing,” Psalm 143:8,10.

Lord, light the next step with your unfailing love. Help us. Support us.

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Day 22: From A Distance

When you don’t see life coming, it can knock the wind out of you.

A phone call. A meeting. An accident.

What do we do with that kind of pain?

When healing seems like a fairytale, how do we move towards it?

I’ve been pushing against the idea of healing with the how question lately. How do I deal with this? How does this work?

And the truth is, I don’t really know. Healing is something of a mystery, at least to me.

I may be able to look back and see how the broken bones are beginning to heal and grow stronger.

But when you’re in the middle of the pain, it’s almost impossible to see how God is going to make something beautiful out of this.

When I’m in the middle, all I can do is welcome the promise from a distance, and be honest with God in this moment.

Welcoming this promise from a distance tonight. Hope mixed with tears. Asking Him to fill in the the blank for the how.

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation,” 1 Peter 5:10.

Day 21: A Safe Place

This is Snapshot. He leads a charmed life. Can you tell?

Every few weeks he claims a new chair as his throne.

Right now, it’s the rocking chair in my room.

Somehow it’s comforting when I find him curled up like this. Here is a creature that knows how to rest.

He’s found a safe place, and he knows it.

This weekend I’ve been reading about another safe place.

“The one thing I ask of the Lord—
    the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
    delighting in the Lord’s perfections
    and meditating in his Temple.
 For he will conceal me there when troubles come;
    he will hide me in his sanctuary.
    He will place me out of reach on a high rock.” Psalm 27:4-5

 Sometimes when the wounds are too fresh, and the healing too painful, all I want to do is hide.

And I think that’s okay. As long as we’re hiding in the right place.

Not behind a mask, or behind a fake “fine,” but behind the Lord’s perfections. Not mine.

Help us rest in this place of safety, Lord. Cover us. Protect us. You are our place of healing.

Day 20: What Does Christmas Music Have to Do With Healing?

A few years ago I heard a bit of trivia on the radio about which genre of music was most soothing. Listeners called in eager to share their opinions, “Classical of course!” This went on for some time until the results of this particular study were revealed. The answer? Christmas music.

Some of you who work in retail are gagging just thinking about listening to hours of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” starting the day after Halloween. But I’m one of those strange people who loves Christmas music, so I heartily agree with this study. It makes complete sense to me that beautiful music that slows us down long enough to stare at Jesus should be soothing, healing even. To allow ourselves to be blown away by the reality of God With Us.

It’s been a long week, full of late nights, long days, and some hard providence. There was also an abundance of undeserved grace poured out hourly on this sinner. But honestly? I’m exhausted.

So I have on my best pair of headphones (the awkward big kind you don’t wear in public) and I’m soaking tonight. Soaking my soul with some of my favorite Christmas songs. Right now I’m listening to Sarah McLauchlan’s version of Greensleeves (What Child is This.) One of the most beautiful renditions I’ve ever heard. Ever. (See link below if you’re curious yet.) So far I’ve listened to it three times tonight.

This. This is Christ the King. Whom Shepherds watch and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring Him praise.

Can we ever hear it enough? Here He is. Look at Him. Isn’t He beautiful?
This… this is the one we’ve been waiting for. And now He’s here, and nothing will ever be the same.

Do I believe Christmas music is healing? Yes, and any other music that lights up our face with the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Oh… and I’m up to four now. Just sayin’.

“For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ,” 2 Corinthians 4:7.

(And since we’re talking about staring at Jesus, not Sarah, please feel free to dissapear your internet browser while you listen.)

Day 19: Fresh Wounds, Fresh Grace

Hot tears burned my eyes as I closed the bathroom door and tried to pull myself together. This was most definitely not a convenient time for a meltdown.

Words leave scars, not bruises, but the bleeding comes first.

I took a deep breath and said the words out loud, “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus… Lord help me.”

After a few failed attempts to stop the overflow, I finally gave up and asked for help.

Several tissues, two pieces of chocolate, and a gifted tube of mascara later, I was able to complete the tasks in front of me.

Was I healed? No. But I look back on the day and see specific provisions of grace at the exact moment I needed them.
(And yes, I do believe a tube of mascara was a gift of grace.)

It’s interesting how fresh wounding can sometimes reveal healing that has already happened.

In the midst of overwhelming failure, I was able to remember words from Matt Chandler that resonated in my car in the dark of the early morning, before I knew I would need them, “You’ve got to get out of your head that God’s love for you is predicated upon your goodness. His great love, His abundance of mercy was present even when you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”

The echos of Romans 5 came back to me at just the right time. Fresh grace.

Now I to plead for grace to forgive.

Lord, please give me grace. Let my heart be filled with this Gospel that is so big it sets me free from fighting shame with anger. Thank you that you are not like us. Make us more like you through our wounding, and our healing.

(I apologize for the silence yesterday friends. I’m discovering listening and quiet is also a part of healing at times. Thank you for understanding.)

Day 17: I See the Light

Infinitely creative. That’s the God we serve.

The one who thought of snowflakes.  No two alike! Even in Siberia, where there is no shortage of the fluffy white stuff.

How about color? If you know me very well, you know about my slight obsession with color. On the walls, in my closet, in vases around the house. LOVE it.

It’s a great comfort to me to remember, God didn’t have to make this world colorful. But He did.

His beauty and creativity saturate His creation.

This One who calls into being that which does not exist? He is the One responsible for our healing.

The more we see Him for who He is, the more the darkness begins to fade in His light.

 

“For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light.” Psalm 36:9

(Confession: I love this movie and this song. I think there are some beautiful Gospel metaphors in here… plus the whole scene is just pretty. If this is just a little too much silliness for you, please feel free to skip this part. For the rest of you just as silly as me, enjoy!)

Day 16: The Healing Begins

I download the message because it says it’s about a heart at peace, and who doesn’t want that?

On the way to work I listen and almost laugh. God knows what I need to hear, even when I don’t.

The pastor talks about angry hearts, and my own is pierced.

He talks about how we wound people’s souls with our words, and I’m asking forgiveness, pleading for mercy right there in my car.

I am in the middle of his stories, reliving my own as I listen.  Just when I’m starting to feel it’s grip, he says the word. Shame.

When we feel we’re not where we should be, when we feel that we’re failing as a wife/mother/Christian/worker, that shame comes out as anger.

And as he reminds his audience just to breathe, to remember that God delights in us where we are right now in the process of sanctification, I remember why this good news is so good.

When He shines his light on all our ugly, and we bring it to Him with broken hearts and ask Him to make us clean, we can rest in His work. We can be free.

Because it’s not about us. We’re not the Rescuer. He is.

 

More music for you tonight. A song that reminds me sometimes healing starts with exposing the ugly, the uncomfortable.

All the better to see the surpassing brightness of His grace.

Day 15: Let’s Talk About Love… again

Flipping back through dog-eared pages again today. Still thinking about love. I know I’ve shared these healing words with you before, but I thought they were worth repeating.

“O Love of God how strong and true,
Eternal, and yet ever new,
Uncomprehended and unbought,
Beyond all knowledge and all thought!

O Heavenly love, how precious still,
In days of weariness and ill,
In nights of pain and helplessness,
To heal, to comfort, and to bless!

O wide-embracing, wondrous love
We read thee in the sky above;
We read thee in the earth below,
In seas that swell and streams that flow.

We read thee in the flowers, the trees,
The freshness of the fragrant breeze,
The songs of birds upon the wing,
The joy of summer and of spring.

We read thee best in him who came
And bore for us the cross of shame,
Sent by the Father from on high,
Our life to live, our death to die.

O love of God, our shield and stay
Through all the perils of our way;
Eternal love, in thee we rest,
For ever safe, forever blest.”

Horatius Bonar

Forever safe. I think I will spend the rest of my life trying to grasp this love.

 

Day 14: The Knowing

Yes, I skipped a day. I’ll make it up to you at the end of the month.

In the meantime, here’s a tiny glimpse of that magical skipped day.

The healing shows up in unexpected places sometimes.

This time, I found it in the face of a woman who knew she was gloriously loved.

The knowing soaked up every part of her being and spilled out of her.

She reminded me that am hungry for that kind of knowing.

Because I too have been gloriously loved.

“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish,” Ephesians 5:25-27.

Our heavenly bridegroom leaves no doubt. (And neither did this one, by the way.)

But for those of us who still struggle, He has given us an early wedding gift.

Not only did he promise to hear our prayers,

He gave us words to ask for the knowing.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;

and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God,”

Ephesians 3:14-19.

Gloriously loved.

Thanks to Ethan and Hannah for letting us share their beautiful day,

and for leaving such a vivid picture in our minds of the glorious love of Christ.

Day 12: Who knew?

First glimpses of the festivities tonight. I’m already in love with the wedding, the couple… everything.

So beautiful.

I won’t share too much, because I need to get enough beauty rest tonight that I can be a beauty-hunter tomorrow.

But at the end of the day, as I look over the snapshots I’m struck by the beauty of unlikely harmony.

 Burlap and lace. Who knew? It’s lovely.

The rough and the refined.

The natural and the elegant.

It’s the contrast that brings out the unexpected beauty.

And so it is with our endlessly creative God.

Bringing beauty from ashes.

Perfect strength from weakness.

Healing from wounds.

And this is all just a taste. The wedding is still coming.