Thursday, February 21, 2013

Feeding Lambs... the answer to life's questions?

My heart has been battling some things lately. Things I can't even put to words because they are evasive and all muddled together.  I try to sort them out so that I can figure them out but there they stay.  Tucked away in my heart because I don't know what to do with them.

But in the midst of this I have heard my Saviour speaking.  Through His own words as found in scripture, which is how I believe He almost always chooses to speak to us.  Words He spoke so long ago to another struggler named Peter. 

When I am wrestling I hear Him...

Stacey, do you love Me more than these?

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!  I mean, haven't I left people I love to follow you?  Haven't I sacrificed time and money, and sometimes my family, to serve you?  Didn't I trust you even when my own little girl was suffering and when I held her lifeless body in my arms?  How can you question my love for you, Lord? Haven't I proved it over and over?

Then feed my lambs.

   But Lord, don't you see how I've denied you?  How I've let fear and anxiety keep me from doing things I know you've called me to do?  How I've denied the power I have in you and focused on my own weakness?  Lord, I'm not worthy to feed your sheep.  I'm so prone to wandering and losing my way.  How can I lead your sheep when I can get so lost?

Stacey, do you love me?

  Yes, Lord, you know that I love you!  Haven't I endured misunderstandings and conflict for your name?  Don't you see how I teach my children to love you?  Didn't I keep silent and turn the other cheek like you asked of me?  Why in the world would you ask me if I love you?

Then take care of my sheep.

     Jesus, I think you have the wrong person for that job.  I deny you all the time in the way I live my life. I can be such a mess. I struggle with pride and insecurity all at the same time.  You don't want someone like me to be in charge of caring for your sheep!  Most of the time, I can't even take care of myself!

Stacey, Do you love me?

    Lord, you know everything.  You know that I love you.  Even when it hurts, I still love you.  Even when I don't understand, I still love you.  Even when it really makes me angry, I STILL love you!  You know that I love you.  Don't you?

Feed my sheep.

   Really, Lord?  Really??  Is it that simple?  All of these things I struggle with and the questions that I have... are the answers really found in serving others?  Or is it that the questions suddenly don't matter when you are reaching out in love?  I don't know, God.  I don't know what you are teaching me.  Except maybe that all of the time spent in trying to figure things out should be spent loving your sheep.  And from an eternal perspective, feeding your sheep is the only thing that matters. 

Lord, I've still got issues.  I probably always will.  But, for today, I lay them at your feet.  I will show you that I love you, not by figuring everything out, but by loving your lambs.  Today, Lord, I will feed your sheep.  And trust the rest to you.  Because I know that you love me too.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Facing Change and Letting Go

This new year has snuck up on me and I've been living in a bit of denial that it's here.  Not that 2012 was so awesome that I want to stay there or anything, but because 2013 brings with it big changes in our family.  They aren't bad changes.  Just changes.  And who really likes change? 

As I sit here in a coffee shop with my daughter, Allison, I look across the table and see the evidence of the biggest and hardest and most exciting change to come.  She will soon be leaving our little nest to fly with her own wings on the path that God has been preparing for her.  I am excited for her, really I am, but it it hard to imagine our day to day life without her in it.  With her, she will take a joy and light that makes our home so bright.  She will take her strength and resolve that inspires me.  She will take her compassion and servant's heart that makes those around her see the world differently.  So many things she will take with her and make her own way in this world. 

I am learning through this process of letting go that it is futile to dwell on the things she will take.  Instead, I am trying to appreciate the things she will leave behind.  So many memories and lessons she has taught us in these eighteen years.  As I have watched her walk through the hard times she has had to face in her short life I have leaned on her strength and faith and I have been changed by it.  With her bubbly spirit, she drew the goofy and silly parts out of her serious mama and taught me to laugh more, sometimes out loud even.  Her passion to do the right thing and her sadness when she messed up reminded me that Godly sorrow is necessary to live a holy life.  Her grace and forgiveness gave me permission and freedom to grow and learn and fail as a Christian mother.  Watching her openness to new experiences is guiding me through this season of change.  She is leaving our home a better place and she will always be a part of us.

There are things that I hope she takes with her and holds in her heart through the years to come.  I hope she takes with her the assurance that she is loved unconditionally and that wherever we are will always be her home.  I hope she takes the confidence of knowing that we are so proud of her and the person she is now and that pride will only grow as we watch her in the years to come.  I hope she takes the lessons she has learned from watching her flawed and imperfect parents fall down and get up again... and again... and again.  I hope she takes the faith and hope we have tried to plant in her that you can make the world a better place when you serve and love those God places in your path.  Most of all, I hope she takes the promise that she has watched me try so hard to live that no matter what this world and the people around us try to tell us- we are daughters of the King, dearly loved and beautiful, and created to bring Him glory with our lives.

 So, 2013, bring it on!  Bring the change.  Bring the good times and the hard times.  Bring me through it all a different and better person because I have loved and been loved by those around me and I have lived each moment in the very best way I know how.  And with God's help and strength, I will keep letting go and facing the changes with grace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Breath of Heaven

Christmas... a beloved season for so many, including me.  I love the way life stops and we have permission to just be... to be with our families, to be quiet, to be merry, to be like a child, to be a believer of miracles, to be in awe of the gift of our Savior once again.

But sometimes Christmas is hard.  And instead of being, we are bent. We can't find peace because we are in pieces.  There is no wonder, but only wondering.

I know because I've been there.  I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday.  I can feel the ache of disappointment, the weight of worry, and the despair of hopelessness.

It was supposed to be a happy time.  Not just because it was Christmas but because a baby had come into the world.  My baby.  My Emma.  But her birth didn't bring the joy we had expected.  Oh, we loved her.  We were so overwhelmed by love for her but also fear and confusion and shock.   There was no warning, no time to prepare for all that we would face.  The days after her birth were filled with tests and procedures and an awful diagnosis and prognosis.

Finally, after many weeks in a hospital, they sent us home with our baby.  Just in time for the Christmas season.  Our directions were to make her comfortable.  The underlying message was that she wouldn't be with us for long.  But we were so happy to just be home.  For Christmas.

It was so hard that year.  Days were filled with appointments and nurses and setbacks and ER visits.  It was overwhelming and I remember just sitting in the dark living room holding my little 5 pound girl with the oxygen tube and the feeding tube, feeling lost and forsaken.  But just holding her while listening to Christmas music as the tears rolled down my cheeks and onto hers and I would just be.  Be scared, be thankful, be angry, be so tired.

And then came Christmas Sunday.  It was going to be an exciting day.  It was Emma's first time in Church and my first Sunday back since her birth.  We were having her dedicated.  But it was such a terrible morning.  She was so sick.  She was throwing up blood and I was losing it.  I just couldn't take care of such a sick child.  God had chosen the wrong mother.  I just knew it.  I wasn't strong enough to do this.

We somehow managed to get to church that morning.  I was pretty angry with God.  Instead of placing my baby in His arms I wanted to walk away that day.  How could He have done this to her?  To me?  Where was He?  Did He know how scared I was?  How much we needed a miracle?

And then I had to get up on the stage and sing a song that had already been scheduled into the service.  I remember singing these words...

I am frightened by the load I bear.
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now.
Be with me now.

Breath of heaven,
Hold me together,
Be forever near me,
Breath of heaven.

Breath of heaven,
Lighten my darkness,
Pour over me your holiness,
For you are holy.
Breath of heaven.

Do you wonder as you watch my face,
If a wiser one should have had my place,
But I offer all I am
For the mercy of your plan.
Help me be strong.
Help me be.
Help me.

I was just trying to get through that service and that song.  But as I sang this song, Mary's Song, I realized for the first time what it must have been like for Mary.  Did she wonder, as I did, if God had chosen the right one?  Was she so scared she couldn't breathe?  Did she feel as if she could just fall apart at the seams?  Did she feel alone and abandoned?

I don't know but those words became my words.  As I sang them I could feel my heart pleading with God... Breath of Heaven, hold me together.  Lighten my darkness.  Help me be strong.  Help me be.  And in that moment I felt some healing.  I could feel Him breathing life back into my wounded spirit.  I knew I wasn't alone.  I knew He had a plan for this baby and that I was a part of it.  And I was the right one.

As we dedicated her to Him that morning I also dedicated myself to His plan.  I offered all I had to be used to complete His work in this little girl's life.  And beyond.  He was my breath that morning and every morning since.  Through the days of grief when I couldn't catch my breath, He was my breath.  The breath of Heaven.

There have been many Christmases since that one.  Many are still hard.  But I can know for sure that I am not alone.  That the miracle of Christmas is that the Savior of the world came down to be born in a lowly stable and He also chooses to breathe Himself into me.  Not because I am worthy but because I am loved.

So even when Christmas is hard it can still be wonderful.