Tuesday, June 30, 2009

What if...

I don't wanna go through the motions
I don't wanna go one more day
without Your all consuming passion inside of me
I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,
"What if I had given everything,
instead of going through the motions?"
Matthew West, The Motions

I don't know everything. I don't have all the answers. I can't predict the future outcome of my choices. I really don't have much control over what happens to me or my family.

What if I came to the conclusion that I do not have the right perspective to be making the big decisions and leaned instead on the infinite wisdom of the Creator?

Sounds kinda crazy, by the world's standards.

But really, what else is there to put my trust in? Myself? Hardly. Other people? There just as beautifully flawed as I am. Society? Umm, no. The "experts"? Hey, I'm at the age where I've realized the experts are people like me who have read a few more books than I have. (ok, maybe not quite, but... )

I like the question posed in the song lyric above. What if I could give everything, instead of just living my life, "safe" in the small world of what I know? I was watching some Michael Jackson clips recently, and pondering what it was about him that generated such an emotional response when he performed. It was because he gave everything he had to his fans. He held nothing back. There's something about people who live their lives like that, that bring out a longing in our spirits, a yearning for being able to shed those fears that hold us back and live. Really live.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Unforced Rhythms of Grace

I was thinking about how my life feels more complicated than it probably is, and as I was lifting it up (again, for what must be the millionth time) to the Lord the phrase "unforced rhythms of grace" came to mind.

That's the title of my good friend Misty's blog, and if I was able to post to it, I would have written a post to her blog today about how great that phrase is. This is the introduction to her blog, and I love how it's written:

Have you ever met someone for whom kindness and faith seem natural? I know it may not actually be effortless for them, in fact I know it isn’t. But there is a difference between moving forward and pushing forward. I want to be the kind of woman who lives in unforced rhythms of grace. I am not there yet. Perhaps I never will be. My intent is to invite you along for that journey. Be forewarned that it will be a road with lots of bends and perhaps a little bit of traveling in reverse.

That phrase, "unforced rhythms of grace", is from the Message paraphrase of Jesus' words in Matthew 11:28:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.

Why do I walk through life overly burdened, feeling squeezed on all sides, when I know my Redeemer lives? I know all this stuff already. Why does it not translate from my head to my heart? I, too, want to be a woman who moves forward instead of pushes forward. I want to live in the unforced rhythms of grace.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day 2009

Two peas in a pod.

Nicholas & Olivia, you would have had so much fun with your dad! He's the kind of dad that will always take you for a Slurpee if you want one, the kind of dad that loves to be piled on, the kind of dad that plays the music really loud in the car for you, the kind of dad that lays down in bed with you at night and listens to you talk about whatever you want. The kind of dad who would do anything for his family.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I started this post with the intention of making assurances that all is well. That after I got everything off my chest that I was OK. Well, maybe I am OK, but maybe what "OK" means isn't necessarily that I am not free from feeling depression, or spending time contemplating where I'm at right now in my life.

What I have been thinking about is about the refining process. How turning up the heat, just to the right temperature, will purify molten metal and bring impurities to the surface. One degree hotter and the metal is ruined. One degree lower and the purification will not happen. I think that what I am experiencing right now is exactly what I am supposed to be experiencing. The things hidden deep within me that I didn't realize were there are rising to the surface, where they can be identified, dealt with, and discarded.

I was talking with a friend tonight about how I mentioned experiencing depression in my previous post (against my better judgment - I would rather only share my high points) and her only comment was, "well, it's probably time, isn't it." And she may be right. The low points are not to be avoided, but accepted for what they are. I want to thank you all for your encouraging words over the last few days. They are part of the refining, too.

King Solomon, the wisest man in history, said it best:
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bedtime Prayers

Tonight Sabrina wanted to pray together during our bedtime snuggles. She prayed for her dad's back, and then she asked me if I was sick too. I asked her to pray for my heart.

She prayed that God "would fill my heart with great things."

I'm so glad He listens to her prayers.

Unlikely Gift

My observation of Christendom is that most of us tend to base our relationship with God on our performance instead of on His grace. If we’ve performed well–whatever “well” is on our opinion–then we expect God to bless us. If we haven’t done so well, our expectations are reduced accordingly. In this sense, we live by works rather than by grace. We are saved by grace, but we are living by the “sweat” of our own performance.

Moreover, we are always challenging ourselves and one another to “try harder.” We seem to believe success in the Christian life (however we define success) is basically up to us: our commitment, our discipline, and our zeal, with some help from God along the way. We give lip service to the attitude of the Apostle Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Corinthians 15:10), but our unspoken motto is, “God helps those who help themselves.”

The realization that my daily relationship with God is based on the infinite merit of Christ instead of my own performance is a very freeing and joyous experience.
-excerpt from Jerry Bridges' book Transforming Grace

Yeah. That's me. The part that's "living by the 'sweat' of my own performance." With all that I've learned about God's grace over the last 2 years, I'm still trying to white-knuckle this life on my own. Lord, I choose to thank you for this unlikely gift of grief that you have given me. I trust You to lead me deeper into your grace.

Just Believe

I've been knocked flat on my ass. (I know, that's not the best choice of words, but frankly, it says exactly what I mean.)

I've been rapidly overtaken by a spirit of heaviness, even depression. I've been tired, dull, irritable, eating erratically, and well, depressed. I've been crying out to God to show me what's wrong with me. I'm astonished at how quickly you can be overwhelmed by depression, and once it has settled in, how powerless you feel that you can do anything about it.

Well, if you didn't already guess, nothing's wrong with me. In this quiet time God so graciously provided for me, He has been speaking into the expectations I've been carrying over my life. It's been just over a year since I went back to work full-time after losing my twins. I went back at this time of year because it's our busiest season and I didn't want to let anyone down. After all, I was doing really well, right?

I'm back to full circle. A year later, another busy season past, and nothing has changed. We're still struggling with the same debts. We still have the same accumulated clutter in our basement that I haven't dealt with. We still haven't decided what to do about having more children. We still haven't landscaped our yard. We still haven't done anything with the twins' room.

And when it felt like everything that could go wrong did in the past week, I was undone. Two years ago we proudly moved into this house with twins expected to arrive any time. Two years later, what has changed?

My heart, for one. My perspective? My relationship with Corrie and Sabrina. My friendships. My families.

I looked at Corrie last night and by the grace of God was able to say, "Right now, at this very moment, things are OK." And they were. And they still were the moment after that, too. I have put myself under so much pressure to change, to show the world that Nicholas & Olivia's brief time here mattered, that I've only really been looking at what has not been done. It's overwhelming to stare into the face of everything you're not and try to figure out how you're fix it.

God hasn't asked me to do that at all. He just asks me to believe, just believe, and He will take care of the rest. Yes, I'm still learning that, and will keep on learning it until I get it. God, give me the patience to walk this walk one step at a time.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Too Busy to Grieve

I'm coming off of a very, very busy time at work and my energy, strength, and defenses are low. I've been following a few grieving mother blogs lately that have left me racked with guilt because they're getting petitions signed and planting trees and taking family pictures by gravesites, and what have I been doing?

I've been too busy to grieve. There. I've said it. Grieving takes a lot of energy. Remembering takes a lot of initiative and creativity. Looking deeply into the hole in your heart is painful. Forgive me, but I still feel a lot of "mommy guilt" even if Nicholas & Olivia aren't here. You know, the guilt you experience when you read articles and talk to other moms and hear about the stuff you're not doing? My mommy guilt is eased with Sabrina, because even though I haven't parented her well, by the grace of God, she's an amazing little person. However, I don't have such visible results with my twins. It's so much easier to pour into Sabrina all that I would have poured into the three of them.

I need a grieving mom mentor. Someone wise and caring who has gone before me and can tell me that it's OK to not know what to do to remember my babies. Someone who will tell me I'm not a failure because I can hardly recall anything about their life at home, before their time in hospital. Someone who will gently remind me that time has carried us forward and that it is good and acceptable and right to live well. Someone who knows that grieving doesn't ever stop, that it ebbs and flows with the rhythms of your life. Someone who will call me on holding myself under perpetual judgment when no one else does.

I am surprised that I still struggle with not wanting to grieve, a year and a half later. With how well I can compartmentalize that time in my life and focus on what's in front of me, in the here and now. With how impatient I am with myself and the process.

As hard as it is, I am so thankful to God for putting me in a place that's too big for me to handle on my own. When I allow it in, His grace makes life flow in a way that I never could. Being too busy to grieve also means being too busy to allow Him to fully heal my broken places. Just as a physical injury needs to be treated gently and with respect, so does my heart.