It’s my youngest son’s gear all ready for a few days out in the woods.
He’s packed and ready.
He’s spent the past few months prepping for this trip.
Sometimes the anticipation for a trip is just as good as the trip itself.
That’s what we told Dad when Mom died.
If he could plan some trips to visit family, he would be encouraged and life without Mom wouldn’t feel so lonely.
So that’s just what he did!
We had the pleasure of having him accompany us on trips to our son’s graduation from Combat Dive School, Ranger School and his College graduation. He came with us on vacations, went to our two sons’ weddings and even spent time at our home. It was great to see Dad enjoying life again. Mom had been sick for quite some time and Dad had cared for her so sacrificially, even giving up planned vacations and time with family to care for her.
But that’s what love does….it has a way of grabbing hold of hearts and moving them to suffer alongside others.
So, when Dad became sick, love stepped in from his 10 kids.
Ann Voskamp beautifully says…
‘Passion embraces suffering because there’s no other way to embrace love.’
Dad quickly began to need someone with him as he went through chemo appointments and the various side affects that were hitting him left and right.
It took all 10 of us to care for him at times.
It was November 27th and I was headed on a flight to Portland, Maine to take care of my Dad who had ended up in the hospital from low blood pressure resulting from his cancer and treatments.
I was reading The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite writers. She has a crazy way of speaking the words in my heart aloud. As I placed my seatbelt on,
I read these words….
‘The wounds that never heal are always the ones mourned alone….you can go ahead and strap into a plane heading east, leaving the safety and comfort of home, because you’re doing whatever it takes to move higher up and deeper into trusting God, what it takes to be in a different place by your next birthday…’
Yes that’s it!
I wanted what I was doing to not only be a kind act towards my Dad I wanted it to reach deeper within and change me. Sometimes you don’t know what you’re living until you step aside from your everyday life and you read it on the pages laying upon your lap…until your life has slowed down some and you have time to impress your back up against an airplane chair and look outside the window to see all the clouds that are hanging above. You search for the imprints of God on them wondering what it’s like to walk beside Him and then you realize that’s what you’re doing….You’re walking with Him alongside another weary soul!
All the things taking shape through my altered schedule were breaking and shaping me into who Jesus needed me to be not only for this season but in the ones to come. I was relearning compassion…A deep need within every heart, to be heard and matter…the unseen relief we all crave. I was seeing beyond my own brokenness and yet being healed by Jesus’ compassion at the very same time.
That day on the plane I was compelled to write a note and leave it in the back of the seat in front of me for the next passenger but in all of my scattered feelings I must have tucked it back into my book that day never to be thought of until last night when I discovered it.
It was a note I wrote intending for someone who needed to be reminded of our Father’s love…last night when I found it stuffed inside the pages of my book I wondered if God really had me write the note that day for someone else or was it written by God for me?
I had torn out one of the pages of the book I was reading as it was the only paper I had with me on the plane that day.
Because when I feel led to write I’ll write on anything just to release the words.
Etched on the front of the note it read…
‘Just for you!’
and inside it the words said….
‘To the one who follows me…today I prayed for you.
You need to know someone cares.
I know you might be feeling a little worn out and broken but rest your weary soul as you lean back in your seat because God truly cares for you.
He sees all that is going on in your life and knows your pain.
Dear one- you are NOT alone.
Though your life may feel like it’s shredding by the seams know He is here with you and goes beside you every step.
So today as your heart beats in anxiety, exhale all your cares to Him..for He truly cares for YOU!
Look for Him today because if you seek Him, you will find Him!
Blessings from Heaven today!
Live like you are loved!
I am baffled by the compassion of God.
Tucking this note inside a book for me to uncover one month after my Dad laid eternally asleep within the walls of our home. And as if my Father in Heaven Himself penned these words for me to find, to heal my wounded heart and usher in His sweet compassion.
Oh to understand the depth of His love is healing!
It’s just like Jesus to come after the ONE and leave the ninety-nine…as I contemplate being 9th out of 10 children, I see His great compassion. And yet He sees each of us with such love.
Compassion is never general in it’s giving, it’s always specific to the need…it’s God coming into our heart and hurting inside it with us.
And this same compassion compels us to dive inside of another’s heart and hurt with them…
the dive within will be painful, but it heals wounds.
I never thought of having four sons, it didn’t even cross my mind.
Yet, now I can’t imagine my life any other way.
Being a boy Mom you would think I’d be used to all of their wild risk taking adventures, but I’m not!
I still hide my eyes and plug my ears when they start sharing what they’ve done or are planning to do.
The more they feel like they’ve ‘lived’ through an adventure the more they love it!
And…you’d think with the fourth I’d be used to their departures, numb to their leaving…but I’m not.
As our youngest dips his feet a little deeper into his days of leaving for college, I realize the loss that will come will too be met with God’s great compassion.
Our hearts can endure far greater pain than we can sometimes ever imagine because of their ability to store love!
With more brokenness we receive more of God’s love and it’s in suffering we are able to let ourselves bleed out love to others.
It’s here I have to be split wide open not only for myself to find healing but for the rooms full of people searching for relief from their brokenness.
Without this intimacy in Christ’s suffering people lose sight of His gracious love for them.
The fellowship found in our vulnerability intertwines us to another pounding heart looking for Him.
The way of the Cross is through His suffering.
We can’t control our brokenness we can only surrender our hearts to the One who is committed to come inside and make them whole.
I wonder if all along as I’ve tried to keep it together, to keep my heart bound from being broken, God’s intent has been to unbind it, unravel the twine I’ve wrapped intensely around it. As each broken moment arrives in my life He loosens it a little more letting it fall until it’s split in half, so He can heal me for real.
Maybe it’s here in our brokenness we find the compassion for ourselves that Jesus has for us. We give ourselves the grace to be healed and experience brokenness again and again, knowing His grace will always suffice our soul’s need for Him.
As I sit this morning upon the exact spot my Father’s hospital bed laid and inches away from where my son’s backpacking gear was piled, I can breathe a little easier knowing He gives me what I need.
We are never alone, never abandoned for He goes with us every step of the way.
He comforts our fears every time, returning time and time again restoring us through every brokenness we experience.
God is a God of all comfort, a God who is for us and who heals us!
The pain we sometimes endure is only a greater moment for Him to sit beside us, more time for Him to pour out His love upon us and it’s in His great compassion we are able to do the same for others. It’s through our wounds, we are able to risk everything for those who sit outside our walls and who need the radical love of God.
My heart is finding a new way of beating these days,
the way of beating with those around me….