Friday, March 14, 2014

Chocolate Milk Epiphany

It would seem that God can speak at any time and in any way.

Baalam's donkey.

Angelic wrestling match.

Burning bush.

Sound of silence.

Chocolate milk.

Yep. Even chocolate milk.
Love it.
I love how He can speak through anything, at anytime, to anyone who is listening.


It was snack time in our household. I was getting the Trio's snacks ready in the kitchen,and I was wrestling (yet again) with the fact that God's timing and ways were not lining up with my timing and my ways.

Accidentally, I had filled El's glass a bit too full of milk -- well, a bit too full if I was to fit in the chocolate syrup for his chocolate milk. But, fearlessly, I pressed on and squeezed as much chocolate into the glass as it would hold. Now I had a problem. How was I to stir the chocolate into the milk without spilling it all over the counter?


I pulled out a long-handled tea spoon and carefully began to flick the chocolate around in the bottom of the glass. The surface of the milk was not even moving (which was good, otherwise I would have had a milk-tastrophe to clean up.)

"This is gonna take a while," I thought.

"But is it mixing?" I heard the Lord ask me.

"Yes," I answered. I knew it was because I could feel the syrup stuck to the spoon. I knew it was mixing, even though I couldn't see through the opaque glass, even though the surface of the milk was not moving, even though I knew this would take a while.

"But you can't see it. You can't see anything happening," He pointed out.

"Uh-huuuuuuuuh . . ." I knew He was going somewhere with this one.

"Sweetheart, sometimes My work is so deep that the surface of life is not disturbed by it. Sometimes you cannot see that I am working at all. But I am. The work I am doing is deep. But it is true. It is lasting. And it can't be rushed."


I looked down at the glass that I was carefully stirring, and I began to see the faintest streaks of light-brown swirling to the surface of the glass.


"Babe, I AM working. I have heard your prayer, and I am working. You are praying. I am working -- whether you can see it or not. Trust me, sweetheart, I am working. And it is going to be awesome."


So, when I am praying, and I cannot see Him moving in anyway in the situation, I sit back. I remember the overly-full glass of chocolate milk. And I smile.

It's deep work.
It's lasting work.
And HE is doing it.
I can just patiently wait.

Chocolate milk, baby!

It speaks to me on so many levels . . .

Friday, March 7, 2014

His Other Hand

The Lord's hand did not move to answer my cry.

This phrase has been swirling around in my mind and heart since I posted yesterday.
It hasn't set well with my spirit.

The Lord's hand did not move to answer my cry.

I've been asking the Lord why this phrase doesn't feel right.
It was definitely how I perceived His activity during that season of my life.
Why isn't this phrase resting peacefully as such?


The truth is, I know better now.

Last night, as I was sitting with Him and that phrase, I had a picture pop into my mind. It was a picture of what I call His "hold right there" hand. (Very similar to the hand I put up when my kids see that I am on the phone and begin to clamor for sharpened pencils, a new toy, and the definition of the word "antidisestablishmentarianism" -- only His eyes weren't bugged out and His face was not flexed in perturbation.)

I could see His hold-right-there hand gently tarrying in front of my anxious and desperate heart. I was crying out to Him, but I heard no answer. I saw no movement of the hand. And that was all I could see. The hand. Not moving.

But in the picture that popped into my head, I saw His other hand, too. THIS hand was a blur of movement. It was working so quickly that I could not follow it with my eyes.

I looked back to the other hand. The stationary hand. The hand of waiting.

Ugh. Waiting.

That was the only hand I could see in my pain and disappointment and frustration.

I could only see the hand that was NOT moving. I was fixated on that hand. The one that wasn't doing things my way. The one that wasn't moving fast enough. The one that wasn't answering the prayers I wanted to have answered.

But what I didn't see through the haze of my disillusionment was the hand that was moving. There was His other hand -- opposite the hold-right-there hand -- that was working swiftly to bring beauty from ashes, to bring healing from pain, to bring life from death. That hand was moving.

I just couldn't see it.

I couldn't see because I couldn't get past the fact that He was allowing such a great amount of pain.


Lord, give me eyes to see both of your hands.
Give me a heart that can trust that while one hand is still, the other is working in ways I cannot see.
Remind me You are good, despite how I feel.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

His Hand

When in the darkness of life,
I cry out to Him.

I beg for wisdom,
for guidance,
for discernment.
I moan for relief,
for light,
for freedom.
I search for hope,
for purpose,
for meaning.

As we were in Corban's pediatrician's office for the ump-teenth time the summer of 2012, and Corban was wasting away and in terrible pain, I prayed for supernatural knowledge for the doctor so that we could help Corban. It didn't happen. God did not tell the doctor what was going on.

The Lord's hand did not move to answer my cry.

As I was holding Corban as he threw up blood, I pleaded with the Lord to heal him, to allow me to have Corban's pain. But no healing came. Corban was still in pain.

The Lord's hand did not move to answer my cry.

As they were trying for the second, excruciating time to get Corban's IV inserted, I prayed that it would be a quick success. I asked the Lord why He could possibly need to allow more pain for Corban. The IV didn't work.

The Lord's hand did not move to answer my cry.

After Corban got his NG tube and they were doing an x-ray of his belly to make sure it was placed correctly, I prayed that it would be in the right place so that they would not need to mess with it anymore and cause even more pain and trauma. It was not. They had to move it.

The Lord's hand did not move to answer my cry.

With David in the Psalms, I cried out, "How long, O Lord, how long?"

I did not receive an answer.


Obviously, God's ways are beyond me.

In those moments of disappointment I felt betrayed. I felt abandoned. I felt like He was being cruel.
I felt lost. I felt like I had no idea who my God was.

And that was the crux of it.
I did not know the God I was interacting with, and I did not understand His ways.


But over these last months and years, I have learned something.

I have learned that while He does not always remove or prevent pain, He does use the pain and guide us on the paths of His incredible best for us.

And those paths often include pain.

In the middle of excruciating pain of spirit or body or mind, it is difficult to reconcile that this is being allowed by Him and that somehow He is working it for our best.

But He is.

And every so often He gives me a glimpse of "the best" that He is working.
And that gives me just enough hope to weather the next painful season.

My God is not capricious. My God is not cruel. My God does not rejoice in evil. My God is not a god of darkness. My God is not far-off. My God is not frivolous. My God does not tease.

He is kind.
He is loving.
He is good.
He is light.
He is here.
He is involved.
He is in control.
He is sincere.
He is restoring.
He is redeeming.

This is my God.

When He does not move the way I had hoped, I lift my eyes. I ask for the eyes to see the beauty and redemption of the plan He is unfolding. And I ask for the grace and strength to embrace His ways over my own.

I ask for the grace and strength to embrace His ways over my own.

And I ask again and again until I can walk with a submissive spirit the path He has laid out.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Beauty of the Darkness of Grief

These days I'm finding that I can't breathe.
I feel like there is a giant pressure on my chest making each inhale painful and incomplete.
I feel heavy.
I feel slow and confused.
Everything seems to take too much effort.
I feel anxious, fidgety, nervous, racing internally.

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. . . And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. ”  - C.S.Lewis, A Grief Observed

It took me by surprise, this grief. But I guess grief is like that. It can surprise you. Sometimes it shoots out of me in hot, ugly sobs. But most of the time it is just a suffocating blanket wrapped about me.

It feels dark.

But in this season of Advent, I find peace in the fact that darkness and light are the same to Him. The night is as bright as day (Psalm 139:12). He sees just as clearly in the dark as He does in the light.

It is never pleasant to be in the place of grief, to be buried under the weight of loss.

But somehow, to sit in that place with Him, the darkness loses its coldness. It becomes warm and alive, though no less painful.

In the end, it is not about escaping this place. It is about inviting Him into it.

Nothing buried, skirted, or circumvented can heal.

Grief is a cup that must be drunk to the dregs.

So, I drink. Fully. The sweetness and the bitterness. I drink with gratitude for what I had, for the light that will come.

But, for now, it is dark.

"For the darkness of waiting
of not knowing what is to come
of staying ready and quite and attentive,
we praise you, O God:
For the darkness and the light
are both alike to you." -- Ruth Haley Barton


I wait for you, here, Lord.

"The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them."
Isaiah 9:2

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Softness of Jesus Body

Last night was darker than I could have imagined.

Twice, I had to hold my son while he screamed and shook in terror and pain at the procedures being done to him.

After the first one, he was angry with me and would not receive my comfort, feeling betrayed by the one who was to protect him.

I curled up next to him in his bed and sobbed with him. Somehow, my tears for him soothed him to sleep.

But when dawn came, there was no dawn in my heart.

My heart cried out for the Lord to relent, to come and save now, to rescue, to restore.


I heard a knock at the door of the room. Fearing who I would see and what they might say, I looked up through the haze of my heart's pain.

But the face I saw was one filled with love, wreathed in compassion, and anchored by eyes of concern.

It was Jesus.
He was wearing a middle-aged woman's body, but it was Jesus.
He sported a red t-shirt and shorts and sandy-blond hair.
And His arms, His chest, His hands encompassed me as I sobbed in the hallway of the hospital. His t-shirt caught my tears. His lips kissed my cheeks. His voiced prayed for me.

He came.

But it took me a while to recognize Him.


I have long believed that God gives each of us the specific body that He needs for us to have in order to receive His love into our inner selves and in order to give that love to the people that He brings across our paths.

He gave me eyes that delight in beauty -- and then He spoke to me through color and pattern and texture.
He gave me a body that feels Him in creation -- and then He spoke to me in the wind.
He gave me a soft tummy -- and then He gave me kids to rest on it.
He gave me a loud laugh -- and then He sent people that needed to hear joy from afar.

And today He gave Jesus a body that is not what Hollywood would call glamorous or ready for the Red Carpet. But it was beautiful. It was soft and warm and comforting. The bearer of this body offered it up to Him, and He used it powerfully in the midst of the darkest moments of this journey thus far.

Oh, how society has confused what is important in the body.

But today is was brought into sharp focus:
what is important about our bodies is that they are His to use.

Their shape, their size, their weight, their height, their color, their smell, their attractiveness, their mobility, their muscularity -- none of this matters. Our bodies' sole purpose is His love - to give and receive it. On the altar of His love, each body fulfills its purpose, each body becomes what it was intended to be.

That's it.

Today, I got to meet Jesus. And she was beautiful.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Flexible Faith

During this dark night, I have found that my greatest fear is not the loss of my son's life.

My greatest fear is that this dark night will cause someone's faith to fail -- that somehow, watching this from the inside or the outside, someone will find God too inscrutable, too unknowable and walk away.

"Someone" -- including myself.


The other day, I was reading the portrait of Jesus preparing His disciples for the coming darkness that His death will bring upon them. (Luke 22)

Sweet Peter is all bravado and bluster making statements he knows nothing about, making promises he can never keep, being "strong" as best he can in the face of some very confusing things that Jesus is saying. And Jesus turns and speaks to Peter:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;  but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

These words have stuck like a pin in my heart . . . "I have prayed that your faith may not fail." Jesus, Himself, prayed this for Peter. Jesus knew what was coming for Peter, and HE was praying for him, for his faith, for life beyond the darkness.

At a time like this, I want Jesus praying for me, for my husband, for all three of my children. Yes, I would love healing and answers, but what I want more than anything for all five of us -- and for all those watching this from the outside -- is a faith that will not fail. A faith that grows under this intense pressure.

I need you to pray this for us, Jesus.

I know that Hebrews 7:25 (therefore He is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through Him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf) is referring to the perpetual intercession You make on our behalf for salvation, and I need you to intercede on our behalf.

Pray, Jesus, that our faith does not fail.
Refine it.
Make it flexible and not rigid so that it may bear this strain without breaking.

Pray for us, Jesus.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A Voice in the Breeze

Six years ago, I was in the middle of a very dark season of life.

One sweltering, summer day I  was at Costco filling my car's tank with gas. My kids were in the car, and I was standing there praying for God to reveal Himself to me, praying for a sign of His Presence.

Out of nowhere, a strong, cool breeze washed over my body, cooling my spirit and soothing my heart.


Many times, as I've filled my car's tank at Costco, I've remember how He met me that day, and how on that day He began to speak to my heart through the wind.

Today, I remembered again.


Today, I find myself amidst the darkest season I've yet to walk in this life -- watching my oldest son waste away in agonizing pain as the doctors scratch their heads in confusion.

I stood beside my van, the gas guzzling into the tank, and I remembered. I remembered how You met me here so long ago.

My heart wanted to ask if You were there . . . but the air was hot and was not moving.
This was not an easy question to allow my heart to breathe. It was certainly not a "gimme."
I was scared.
I was scared You would not show Yourself, that I would be more alone, somehow, after my heart released this query to You.

But I couldn't suppress the question,
though I was terrified of the answer,
afraid that the air would not move,
that the warm blanket of still air would remain around me, move in on me and suffocate me.

But I asked.

"Are You there?"

I waited in silence, aching.
Holding my breath.
Feeling the heat move in on me.
Scared that my God is not Who I thought He was.

But the faintest tickle of air brushed against my arms -- as if a guy smoking a cigar has released a puff of a smoke ring from his mouth onto my forearm. It was so faint that I stood there for a second wondering if I'd imagined it.

I looked down.

I felt it again. A tickle of air on my forearms.

The little feather sweeps of air kept coming, not strong, but Present.

"Okay. You're here."
My heart sighed a bit of relief but then choked out,

"But I need You stronger. I want You stronger."
"Here" doesn't seem to be cutting it right now. "Here" still means that my son is wasting away and in great pain, and You're not doing anything to make it stop. "Here" doesn't change the fact that my second son is carrying the weight of the possible death of his brother with him. "Here" doesn't cut the darkness with blinding light. "Here" doesn't take away the nauseating ache from my heart.

And then the tickle of air turned into a flutter of air.
And then a brush of air.
And then a gentle breeze came and caressed my whole body, and as it did, I very clearly heard, "I am coming."

The breeze kept cooling me, sweeping some of the heat from my spirit and body. "I am coming," You kept whispering.

"I am coming."

"I am coming."


To be honest, I don't know what His coming will look like.
I just don't know.
But I will know when He comes.

And right now, I just need to know that He's coming.