Hope After the Darkness

These two women hold a piece of our story and are a part of it too. It’s sometimes hard to remember we’re all a part of a bigger story together.

And the thing is although they’ve only known us for a short time they feel like family. Because that’s how it is when we walk through a valley, those who walk beside us  become kindred spirits.

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Yesterday afternoon we climbed up the 17 steps which lead up to the cancer clinic. Joe counted these steps daily during his treatments. He knew if he could walk up these steps, he could get through whatever waited for him.

The chairs lining the waiting room were filled again with weary people, fighting for their lives.
I wondered if we looked that way as we sat in those same seats day after day. . .

I suppose we did .

As we walked through the cold bleak corridor which lead to the clinic I told Joe how it felt strange to be there. I said it was as if we were returning to a bad dream. In which he replied, ” It’s more like a nightmare”. 

He was right, it’s the kind of thing that keeps you awake at night. 

All of the feelings we experienced there flooded us as we wondered how we even made it through it all . . . 

You know hope is an odd thing in a place like this and yet it’s exactly what gets these brave souls through it.

Hope . . .When things seem bleak and you’re fighting an unimaginable battle.
Hope . . . When something crashes into your life that you never expected to.
Hope , , , For all of the tomorrows and all the years you’re dreaming to come.

I felt a bit guilty coming here different.

Because it’s very strange to return to a place of such deep pain and to come back quite different; a lot had changed.

Although we didn’t even know we’d changed.
In fact it wasn’t until both of these nurses were surprised to see us that we even realized they didn’t recognize Joe.

And at first he didn’t know how to respond to their surprise, until they reassured him it was a good thing. 

You see, we hadn’t considered how sick and weary he looked back then.
We were suffering through long and sleepless nights and everyone who saw us just kept telling us how good Joe looked.


I get it, I really do.


Because people say these kinds of things when they don’t know what else to say.

They have no idea how you’re feeling like crud.
They have no idea the battles you’re fighting within.
They don’t know that standing is even a hard thing to do.
They don’t know you have no control over your body and the pain that you’re feeling.

And I get it how would they know, because we aren’t telling these things.
And i get it it’s hard to know what to say to someone who’s hurting.

So yesterday when they told us this, it actually felt good.
Because its good to be reminded how impactful empathy can be to those who are suffering.

And the thing I needed to remember was these nurses only knew Joe with cancer, they’d never known him before.
They didn’t know what his hair looked like.
They didn’t know what he like when he was healthy. 

But here we were, healed and standing taller, looking more like ourselves. 

And when the doctor told us Joe’s scans were clear and that he’s in ‘complete remission’ we both were stunned with joy. 
I threw my arms around Joe and with tear stained eyes I cried out tears of joy.

I had no idea what those words would mean to us.
I had no idea what those words would do for us.
I didn’t know how deep they would reach into our souls and heal us.
Because it’s not everyday you get to walk out of something being told you’re healed. 

And even though we know the cancer can come back and we know there’s percentages to factor in, for now we are choosing to celebrate and thank God for more time. 

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When this thing entered our lives I was scared. 
I didn’t want to be a widow, I didn’t want to lose the father of our children and the love of my life. 
I didn’t want to know this kind of valley. 
I didn’t know what life would look like and I honestly didn’t want to find out. 

So, you know what I did? 

I gave words to my fears and I shared them with Joe and some of our close friends, but most of all I told them to God. 
And God did something with all these fears, he hushed them.
He didn’t quiet them with the assurance of life or a promise of complete healing, he actually just calmed my soul with reminders of his provisions throughout my life. 
And this was enough to allow my soul to rest. 

We have so many great memories of God providing . . . like when he brought Joe to me over thirty years ago while I was in Southwest Philadelphia doing missions work, or the way he’s kept us growing closer together despite my jagged edges and my broken pain, or the time he filled our empty freezer full of meat or one of my favorite memories of his provision when he gave us our four sons even after losing four other children. 

You see, when God’s goodness is counted, it far outweighs the pain. 

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I think we can all play games with God. 

Like the one I played for years. It was rooted deep within that if I did enough good for God, he would keep suffering from me. I believed my suffering was somehow connected to my performance. And when you play with this equation, nothing makes sense.
But it wasn’t God who didn’t make sense – it was my system that was off.

There’s something deep within our brains which wires us to believe these kinds of things. That tells us these kinds of lies so easy to believe.
And when it something awful happens, it hits a very deep place within us and it challenges what we’ve let ourselves believe.

But the truth is no one is exempt from pain and suffering, it comes in one way or another to all of us.
It’s part of being human.
And it’s honestly the part of human that scares us the most. 

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The very thing I’m learning these days from all of this. . . is even in the darkest of times, hidden in them is a beautiful gift from God.

You see, had we not known this disease we would never be able to fully appreciate Joe’s ‘complete remission’. 
We wouldn’t know
the miracle of his healing.
And healing friend, isn’t exempt from pain.
Sometimes healing comes after a season of deep suffering.

In the days before Joe’s cancer we didn’t live with a heart full of gratitude like we live now. Out of this holy season God has given us co-sufferers, those who are walking through a valley of their own.
And because of all of this we’re invited into their story.
They’ve let us see their ugly wounds even when they’re bleeding out.

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I suppose those steps leading up to that clinic will forever be hard to climb, because every step retells a painful story.

But something big in which I was reminded of yesterday is – nobody remains in suffering forever. 
And this is the sacred place I’m choosing to rest my soul today.

All wounds will one day be healed and until then it’s by our scars we tell our stories.  

 

Finding Joy in this Hol-y-day

I absolutely love the days we’re in.
I love the holidays, because I love everything about them.
I love the creative surges which burst full of decorations and all the simple details given inside these days.
I love the memories they hold and I love the food . . .
Oh, how I love the food!

And yet no matter how much I love these days, they can come with some anxiety too.
Because with all of the wonderful feelings of this season, there’s so many desires we wrestle with.
Hopes and expectations, which can honestly get tangled up in the midst of the excitement of the season.

Because what we deeply hope to happen in these days is sometimes the farthest thing from what really does and we can ache in these times.

You see for some there’s a lot of pain inside the holidays.
And although we dream up a perfect picture of what we’re hoping they’ll be and we set our tables to adorn the beauty we’re anticipating for some there’s who isn’t coming to dinner today or reminders of broken relationships sitting in their midst.

For several years I fought this battle between what I wanted everything to be like and how it actually turned out.

You see, in the very midst of what we dream for these days to look like, we somehow lose sight of the beauty we already possess.

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I know because I lived like this for years.

I thought in order for me to be the best at what I was, these days needed to look something like a Norman Rockwell painting, with all of their corkiness they needed to hold an emblem of perfection.
And in some strange way I thought they should reflect all I’d ever read and seen surrounding them . . . as if there was a certain expectation which could be packaged up and lived out.

But what I found in the middle of this kind of thinking is a lot of disappointment.
It wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own for keeping hold of something that never really existed.
And I realized what happens when we live like this is we end up losing a lot of what we’ve spent years hoping for.
Because I honestly often felt as if I was failing at bringing all of this to life.
But then I realized I was wrapping unattainable dreams around our family and hoping for joy to be found inside this.

And here is where I fell short the most . . .
Because when we make the mistake of placing joy inside of unrealistic hopes and dreams our peace hinges on our circumstances rather than the posture of our heart.

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I learned this back then and I’ve been learning it a lot more lately.

Right here in the middle of the greatest struggle we’ve ever had to walk through, I’ve come face to face with this reality once again.

You see, I somehow used to believe the lie that when our heart is the heaviest, it has the greatest risk of breaking and joy couldn’t be found.
Because when we make the mistake of connecting joy to this idea of what our days are supposed to look like, we live in the midst of make-believe, rather than in the beauty of these present.

Yet when we exchange what isn’t real for our real lives,  it’s here we find a lasting joy in the beautiful things of greater worth.
We realize just simply gathering together and breaking bread even while our hearts break wide open, these are the days God intended for us to live.

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This past year, although there’s been a pile of hard lived out I must tell you our richest blessings are found here. 
Because as I woke up this morning the first words I spoke was ‘thank you God that we get to celebrate this day together’. 

You see we aren’t always promised another day like today and so the one’s we are graciously given must be listed in our giving of thanks. 
Because when life is threatened, it becomes one of the greatest gifts we possess. 

And I know isn’t the easiest to always do.

Because honestly we struggle to let go of what’s breaking us in order to receive the blessings we already have . . .
Inside the unexpected details of these days I pray we can look past our circumstances and embrace what we’ve been given.

And its in our giving of thanks within these hol-y-days when our worship is louder than our cries, that we truly find God right beside us in our midst.

When we exchange our expectations of the way life should be for a humble expectation of what God’s about to do
– we come face-to-face with his grace.

And friend this is honestly the one thing we can count on and expect
is – – his overwhelming goodness and grace.

And it’s here we decide to not be overwhelmed with all the worry, but instead we choose to worship.

We choose to worry less and worship more in his holy presence

And so today we take a vow to no longer be driven by perfection . . .
I will not allow stress to steal my joy.
Instead, we’re choosing to rest in singing praises to God.

Because no matter how our season unfolds
— God has us and he’s healing us too.
And no matter what today holds or even the rest of this week, He will never leave us nor forsake us.

So, today no matter how hard this day might be, let’s make a promise to inhale & exhale all the blessings God’s given us.
Let’s set our tables with his grace recounting our blessings one by one . . . all the ways he loves us and has never forgotten us, let’s join with all of heaven in worshiping him.

We will take ever drowning thought and bring it captive to God.

And that place you feel like giving up, look around at all he’s doing for you.
Because the places that tear us apart the most are often the ones God’s using to put us back together again.

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And this Thanks-giving day may we know huddle around our tables even if our family tree is as torn apart as Job’s and trace God’s love, which has surrounded us through it all.

Because even out of a messy lineage, Christ himself connects us to our loving Father, God.
And God always brings good, even out of the hardest of days.

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I dedicate this post to all of my friends whose hearts are feeling a bit busted up and torn apart right now . . . may you know the precious love of God as you bring him your worship.

Hope for our Anxious Days

I was told recently to listen to life as it’s writing a story on us . . .
In those hard days it’s speaking to us if we’ll just listen to it.
{Thank you Gary Morland}

These words feel like they were engraved for me right now and I wonder how many of you need to hear them too . . .

Because sometimes friends life is screaming for our attention and our grace.
And what I’ve been realizing lately is
— even though this season feels awfully hard, the next one will be hard too.

You see, inside the seconds we breathe and exhale – life is happening in these moments of time calling for our attention.

But how many of us are rushing to get through, wanting this season to hurry up and end?


Yet, what is life trying to tell us in the here and now?


You know the depth of our best stories are written in the familiarity of life and the intimacy of pain.

This past week my exposure to suffering brushed up against people’s pain and my heart sat with them in their heartache and pain.
But sometimes we don’t really want to hear someone speak of what’s hurting. We want them to live a pain-free life, yet the reality is this isn’t really living when we ignore what’s happening to others, even if that means suffering days. 

As I’ve leaned in close to a dear friend this week, who’s been like a mom to me ever since we moved here, she’s been teaching me. As she’s weakening from a brutal disease which has overtaken her body, I asked her what I could pray for her and she told me I wouldn’t want to hear the prayer of her heart. 
I quickly responded with the answer  she wanted to hear. 
She wanted to be given a place to speak the words and the truth is I had to be ready to hear them. 
Her desperate plea was permission to leave.

She asked me to pray her on home as she’s ready to go. 
She’s suffered a lot and is wanting to be healed in the arms of God. 
I don’t blame her and even understand the longing within her heart. 

Because sometimes we hang on so tightly to what’s here instead of leading others on home. Yet God says he puts this longing within our hearts.

Another good friend who’s been fighting his own brave battle said it well as he spoke of facing the unknown, he wins in life and he wins in death as well. 
These words reminded me of Paul’s words in Philippians,
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain”.

These two courageous souls reminded me life is about listening to the story it’s writing upon us. 
And although its full of changes and what sometimes seems unbearable, there’s so much to be paid attention to. 

Because when our lives are on the brink of falling apart, it gives us the most.

I truly get it, this part of being human can feel all too heavy. 
In fact the sheer fear of loss can cause us to miss out on truly living. 

I lived this way for a long time, protecting and avoiding the pain it could bring. 

But I recently noticed when we live life afraid, we miss out in finding pure joy and we miss God himself. 
God, the author of each of us, is writing his story on us to carry into a busted and broken world. 

The way to joy is in singing out our gratitude.

Friend, even in the midst of the hard & holy moments 
-Our worship becomes the antidote for our anxious hearts.

Because singing our thanks is a cure for our stress-filled lives. 

David, known as a man after God’s own heart eloquently pens this in the Psalms,
how our worship overcomes even our deepest anguish.
Scientists are even saying worship boosts our immune system and improve the overall health of our heart . . . 
Worship is a gift to us as much as it is to God. 

And we know this because there’s really nothing more healing than pressing our broken heart up against God’s. 

A rhythm of worship overcomes our anxiety and fills us with peace. 
In the midst of all life is penning on us, if we will allow the words of our worship to fill in our fears, we will experience the life God has written for us. 
And it’s here, we align our heart with all of heaven as well.

As I sat with my friend’s husband yesterday, the one who will be left to grieve, he was dreading the impending loss of her always sitting beside him.
My heart ached with his pain. 
Because sometimes it’s the empty chair and the hole in our heart that reminds us of what we’re losing. 

I listened and ached for his loss. 
Because I can’t imagine losing the one I’ve found love with. 
I can’t imagine the lonely nights and the long days. 
I can’t imagine how one finds their way when the one they’ve held the hand of is no longer there. 
Because I haven’t experienced that loss yet. 

But this past year has caused me to think of these things a lot lately and have reminded me to count them as blessings each day.

So, as I sat there beside his broken heart I reminded him that in worship he’s in the presence of all of heaven and in worship his heart will find it’s healing. 

I’m not sure my words meant anything to him or if they even were heard.  

Because honestly sometimes a heart that is grieving can only bear to carry what is in the present day. 
And I know each person has to walk through it with God alone. 

So, today I lift up my worship for those who are carrying an aching heart around with them and need someone to know their pain. 

I wish I could make another way for you, but I can’t. 

But what I can give you is my presence. 
Because what might feel like it’s killing you now, will heal and it will get better and you will find beauty one day; not only once you’re past it, but in the midst of it as well. 

And until the healing begins, my heart will be lifting you up to God, who loves you more deeply and more fully than any of us humans possibly can . . . ♥️

 

 

 

The God of all Comfort

I’m sure you’ve been there before, a nurse asks you to lay out your arm so she can draw some blood from your veins.
And if you’re anything like me this means – “look the other way!”

You see, blood freaks me out. Not just a drip, but there’s something that twists my gut when I see it flowing out of me.

Most often when this is happening a doctor has ordered a test to make sure our levels are normal or sometimes he’s looking for something hidden inside of us.

Because within blood there’s a lot which can be seen . . .

I recently learned that cancer cells are the only cells which only care about themselves.
In our body, which contains all sorts of supporting organs and cells, a rogue cell can lodge itself and wreak complete havoc on us and even kill us.

It’s in moments of threat, we come face to face with being real.
As cells reorganize themselves we begin seeing life in view of death and come face to face with God, himself.

And it’s in seasons like this, grace causes us to make u-turns and fight for our lives.
We crave another chance for do-overs, to love a bit better, to get rid of our critical spirit and see souls a little deeper. A little more time to listen when our kids are spilling out their wounded heart rather than rushing on past them.
Another chance to make God a whole lot more present in our lives, even when it costs all we have.

You see, the sudden rush of a faltering test result, the unexpected loss of someone we love can wreck our life, if we let it.
But it can also make us real . . .
And being real, sometimes requires that something must die.

We sat face-to-face with Joe’s doctor that day as he described the vigilant chemotherapy he would undergo. For three hours a pharmacist described what would happen to Joe’s body as they killed the cancer cells, to rid his body of their violent raging.

As the doctor repeated their intention of killing Joe’s cells, Joe leaned in closer and asked . . .

“Doctor if you’re killing all of my cells, what’s going to bring me back to life?”
A valid question when you hear the words ‘death’ spoken multiple times over you. 

The doctor replied, “Your blood will . . .”

It’s a broken thing to want to be real, but there’s something in all of us that wants to know we’re safe too. And perhaps there’s something truly okay to recognize our brokenness and yet yearn to be whole again–to trust God loves us enough to sustain our life.

Perhaps it’s here we meet Jesus most in our brokenness, as we’re feeling all busted up and like we’re falling apart.
Because Jesus is attracted to brokenness, he always was and he still is.
He sees our broken spirit as a sacred meeting place to draw into our pain and render healing.

Because for far too long we’ve covered up our wounds, pretended we’re okay. But when life calls us to be brave, we abandon holding it all together and let our brokenness come rushing out.

It’s in these hard & holy moments we embrace our suffering.

Isn’t this all we can really do when life is killing us?

Persevere through the pain and the breaking of our lives to get ourselves the healing we’re begging God for, to the place where Jesus’ blood will bring us back to life?

We often don’t know how these times of hard will all turn out.
I think that’s the hard thing of walking ourselves through them.
We don’t know if they will get better.
We don’t know if our broken marriage will be restored.
We don’t know if our prodigal child will return to God’s side.
We don’t know if our broken relationship will be healed.
We don’t know if our wounds will really heal.
We hold the shattered pieces within our souls and we offer them up to God and ask him what will bring us back to life again?

And this friend is where our hope is found.
Because although every brokenness may not find healing on this side of heaven, it can be found in the presence of our God of all comfort.
And this is what must stop the voices speaking lies over our busted up lives and it’s here we know our God who loves us deeply is healing our suffering and making us more real.

Because sometimes these things that happen in life aren’t our fault. It’s just life breaking all around us, the cost of becoming whole and even being real.
And in these moments we adjoin ourselves with the brokenness of Christ himself, the real- living son of God.

It’s here we experience our God of all comfort and peace . . . and it’s also here we fully understand his costly price of being real, the price of love.

 

Healing Wounds

The words ‘you’ll heal’ are powerful.

But…

How do we prepare for re-entry following a hard season?

Because we’ve all had a scab fall off a wound and break open again. And the fear of this can sometimes shake us up more than we’d ever admit.

We don’t always know the way upwards when we’re climbing out of valley….this my friend, is where we practice climbing without a harness and free fall our trust into God’s arms. Because we don’t know if on our way out of this valley-if something else is going to take our breath away.

And if we let it our unspoken mess can break us in two just wondering these things.

This friend, is where worry is birthed, it cracks our hearts wide open until we cringe at the steps forward.

I know because this is exactly where I am today.

As I sit here on a flight heading to a conference- it’s the first time Joe and I’ve been apart since his cancer scare. And if you’ve ever experienced trauma you know just little steps forward can be hard. Because we finally figured out how to keep in rhythm through the past year and walking a different path for a few days can feel a bit awful. It can make you want to huddle together and never be apart.

But sometimes the very things, which break us truly make us into who God needs us to be.

And maybe the most healing and courageous thing we can do is admit our brokenness when we feel like this…when we’re safe enough to be blatantly honest.

I could feel the ache inside of both of as I was getting ready to leave. Because there’s comfort in continuing on and not ushering in any changes.

When we went on a trip together recently, we both noticed how life had changed us. We couldn’t take some of the more rigorous paths and our unsteady feet prevented us from climbing trails but there’s something quite sacred with this.

You see, sometimes the cross we carry is enduring the pain and discomfort we’ve been living through. Because it’s here that others see us making it through the valley. And they open up and share their own scary scars with us right there.

Because none of our brokenness is the same, it’s all unique to who we are.

Last night I saw this standing right in front of me…

As a young mom chased me down to tell me she’s been carrying a piece of her story all wadded up. So as we stood there and she bravely unfolded her story -I was in tears. Because when you see a survivor living and breathing a story of loss and she tells you the way you’ve been walking through this valley has been softening her heart, it makes what happened matter in Heaven.

And when she decided to let it all come out- I heard her say the words, ‘it’s all because of you’.

You see, Joe shared a prayer about this when he was first diagnosed. He told God if he had to have cancer for someone to come to Him..’then I’ll do it’. I remember when he first uttered these battle-strong words. But hearing him repeat them last night struck me and had me all torn up in tears. Because he was saying, even after all of the horrible chemo pumped into his veins, even with all of the spinal chemo and even through all of the surgeries and pain, even now it was all worth it-

What was it worth?

One life coming back to God?

As I watch Joe still daily live with aches & pains, even then he dared to speak these words- ‘If that’s what I had to go through to get you back to God- so be it, it was worth it-you are worth it’.

What are you going through and who could you speak words like this over?

What kind of broken mess could you say is worth a life coming back to Jesus?

As we’re making our way back to health and mending our wounds-God’s been busy mending souls of those who’ve drifted away. Those who are watching us carry our wounds up to God.

And this reminds me so much about how love truly heals wounds -God’s love for us powerfully mends our one broken heart and that same love mends all of the busted hearts beside us too!

Where Empathy and Brokenness Meet

So many of us are walking through life limping and protecting ourselves from an injury we’ve recently encountered.

I was thinking about this recently as my own heart’s been aching within…
I recounted all of you who are just trying to make it through the week.

Those who’ve recently lost a loved one…or are nursing a family member in their last hours…women who deeply long to be valued and loved…young mommas who’ve had their children taken from them far too soon…shattered marriages broken into pieces…young men and women longing to know they matter…and so many friends who are carrying around arm-fulls of fresh wounds from their own version of brokenness and pain.

You see, we can’t live our lives trying not to break…
Because honestly we’ll all make our way through brokenness and how we choose to walk through it
–is what matters.

I used to think if I controlled enough things in my life, I could avoid being wounded.
But what I found is it’s humanly impossible to avoid brokenness.

And instead of trying to avoid it, I’ve been giving my wounds the healing they’re needing…
When we experience brokenness there’s some time needed for us to figure out who we truly are…because when we lose someone we love or when something dear gets taken from us, we lose a piece of ourselves and it takes awhile to be ourselves again.

I know because this is what we are living with right now…and most of us are walking through our own identity crisis every day, desiring to become whole again.

As I reassure Joe often that we will all be okay, I honestly think I’m telling him this in hopes I’ll believe it too.
I wonder if we will really be okay if life doesn’t fully turn out the way we’re hoping it will?
Can we deal with the loss and feel it without losing hope for the change to one day come?

Because the question people keep asking us is if all the things Joe’s lost will come back.
And this is the mystery of life we all are living in each day.

Because the things we lose in this busted up world, are never promised to come back.

Can I live in the twisted up tension that I can’t fix it all?

Because I don’t have to fix it and yet I also don’t have to deny what I’m feeling. I don’t have to pretend either…but can I sit in the brokenness of it all and  be okay?
The true question here is can I remain here in the brokenness and trust God in it all, regardless of how this thing plays out?

There’s a symphony of voices playing in our heads telling us how we should feel and how we should respond.
They tell us how we are supposed to act and whether we have enough to make it through.
And sometimes they can be all too suffocating like a cobra who is squeezing the air from our lungs…

Yet, I’ve been learning that when I’m feeling like this I must chase the sacred and go to God’s holy word, which ushers in his healing.
Because his word clearly speaks; my identity to the very core was created in his likeness.
It reminds me Jesus himself is our example of how to live broken.
The One, who came to show us brokenness was made whole.

And honestly what we won’t allow God to break within us can’t be made whole.
Because until we all fall apart, we won’t really know just how much we need God.

And lately as Joe has been feeling so beaten up and broken, I’m struggling for the words to speak over his wounds.

Because what do you say to someone who’s lost so much?

But I honestly believe its in our grasping for words and reaching for something to ease the pain, we realize our coming up empty is for us to surrender our brokenness before God…emptying ourselves at his feet.
It’s here friends, we speak some of our most broken unspoken words.
Every time we fall down at the cross, God’s grace meets us and it heals us here…
As we press our heart into God’s he massages our wounded soul and heals it from the inside out.

Sometimes the best and most bravest thing we can do for someone who is feeling a bit broken up, is to meet them at the foot of the cross and let God give them what they’re needing.

Healing happens…where empathy and brokenness meet our Savior, Jesus the One who walked through brokenness to show us we will be whole again.

 

 

 

Finding Wholeness Back Home

I’m reminded of a time I wandered these streets.
I was a very different person back then.
I longed to be seen and valued and to be fully known.

And when I left this town I was hoping to find all of this.

But what I found is…these things should never be our quest.
Instead they’re the beauty we find when our soul’s healing and it’s finding it’s rightful place in this world.

Last week as I walked these same steps as so many times before, I found something surprisingly new and powerful about its path.

I found strength and confidence as I walked its pavement.

We’re always cautioned not to hold on too tightly to our past.
To forgive ourselves….to not live in its footsteps…to let go of the bitterness or pain.

But there’s something scary about letting go of it all.

Yet when you get on the other side of all of this, there’s something beautiful which happens.

You realize what the enemy intended to kill you with, God used to shape your life.

I remember for several years after I moved away, I would return back home and I secretly hoped I wouldn’t find even a hint of my past.
I was ashamed of how I’d lived back then and I didn’t want even a reminder of who I was.
I made choices driven by insecurity and unmet needs… and I hated who I was.

But last week, it felt so freeing to walk those same sidewalks knowing my identity is drenched in Christ.
Knowing I no longer am ‘known’ for who I was because who Jesus is shaping me into today is… a new creation, a new person.

And honestly this is what drives me to reach out to brokenness when I see it…
It’s what leads me to check in on friends and family when God lays them on my heart…

You see, it takes compassion to look into one’s own soul and hand out grace.

Joe picked New England as his finale trip following all of his treatments.
He loves my hometown and loves my family who live there.

And honestly its because of him and God working side by side, that place has found redemption.
You see, for years he always made a point of getting me back home.
He saved paychecks and shifted his desires to make new memories with me there. He knew that place was worth redeeming and he knew it would restore me at the same time.
So year after year he got us back there, whether this meant driving thousands of miles through the night, staying in sketchy hotels or hours upon hours of boys getting stir crazy in the back seat…his pursuit remained the same.

It was always to heal brokenness and re-make memories with family…

And although this trip was quieter and a bit slower this time, it represented so many of the same intentions.

Except this time it was for him as well…

You see, this time Joe was the one we went there to restore.
And even though, rest does some funny things which we aren’t always ready to uncover, there’s something healing in setting aside sacred time to heal.

As we returned to all of our ‘favorite’ places, although they each were just as beautiful as we’d left them…there was something harder about them.

Because this is what happens when we’re still healing…

Just because the hardest of days are behind you, doesn’t mean there aren’t more ahead.
They’re just a new kind of hard.
And as I pressed in harder to God, every time I caught glimpses of the work which is left to do…

I was reminded to not forget…

To not forget the miracle which has already taken place.

To not forget to choose worship over worry.

To not forget how far we’ve come and that healing doesn’t happen over night.

And most of all that it’s okay to not be okay all of the time…

This is why we have places like this to go to…
Because inside these spaces we carve out time to rest and to heal.

So many times we are pleading to God for the healing, wanting this thing to go away.
But what if this THING is what God is shaping us with?

What if it is what God uses to remind us he’s got a plan for our healing…a time to for it all to transpire…because none of this is a surprise for him or something he can’t deal with…

And in the depths of our sweetest of worship, it’s here we find we were never alone, but in it all, he’s been with us every.step. of the way.

And this morning in the darkness of the early morning hours, my eyes fell upon this familiar passage…
Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

The word for ‘Almighty’ in this verse can be interpreted as the Hebrew word ‘enough‘.

Isn’t that a beautiful picture of God?

Our God is enough for us….enough healing…enough strength…enough for us to need no-thing else…enough to be content and enough for us to truly embrace rest…

In our days when we search endlessly for more….God is truly enough!