I need to be here I thought, as rejoice – rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee... breathed through my lips. I need to be here, in this moment. Feeling this music.
This was the first time in a long time that I sang songs to Him. It felt foreign and comfortable at the same time.
And for a few brief moments my pain, heavy heart and confusion rested somewhere other than my chest.
To be there…caught between Heaven and Earth. Lifting songs of Noel and joy and praise.
I wanted to hold onto this moment longer than the constraints of time would allow. To leave this burden that weighs me, in that secret place it was tucked away.
As I sit here reflecting on the energy that fell upon us and swelled up in us, I’m reminded that He came to take our burdens. He didn’t come just to save us from destruction and to save us to Himself. He came to walk with us as we traverse though this difficult journey called life and all the pain and brokenness that burrows deep within us.
As we continue to travel through this Advent and as Christmas morning dawns in a few days and as I continue to learn to re-trust, I’ll once again commit my heart to Him and continue to ask Him to heal it.
I partially feel that I’m experiencing Christmas in a new way this year.
Though I have worked my self into a tizzy over wrapping gifts in a fancy, creative way & getting the gift for my sister-in-law that I know she’ll love & the book for my nephew that I imagine him belly laughing at as his mom reads it to him.
I’ve had little time in the last week (plus) to just sit. To just be. I’m reminded of this post by my dear friend Mandie.
If I allow all the hustle and the dry fingers from wrapping paper and the cookie dough that I forgot to put baking soda in — if I allow all of this to take my focus, I’m going to miss out.
Not only on the blessed celebration we’re experiencing, but on quiet moments on the couch with a cup of tea. Of smiles from Shawn and his I’m so proud of yous and thank yous.
So, I’m encouraging you to take a half hour (preferably longer) and just be. Grab a cup of tea or coffee or cocoa piled high with marshmallows or whipped cream. Watch your child as the play in the wonderment that is Christmas. Grab your spouse & kiss some place other than under the mistletoe.
Here’s a couple songs from a band (Future of Forestry) we hope to wake up in time to go see Sunday morning. This first song I first heard last year and it’s one of those that reaches to my depths. The second, is O’ Holy Night. Last year this song hit me in a way it never has. They lyrics tell not only of Christ’s birth, but the freedom from slavery we are in before we come to Him.
The Earth Stood Still
O’ Holy Night
It was a week and a half ago and I was still fighting blinding anger. I wasn’t at the indifferent stage yet in this cycle I’d been running, and consideration was the furthest thing from my mind.
I’d made accusations against God based on feelings that have been ravaging me. Accusations of abandonment, of the lack of caring.
We were scheduled to volunteer at an event for Compassion and honestly I didn’t want to go. I wanted to be home, warm, cozied on my couch with my book. I didn’t want to have to put on a “happy, Jesus is awesome & compassionate” face. [just being honest here]
I was finishing up my day at work when I got a text from Shawn. We had a message from our sponsored child.
If you don’t sponsor, or even if you do – these letters have the ability to make a bad day good, and even bring joy when all you feel is anger.
When I got home we opened the letter. Inside was an anniversary card from our sponsor daughter Nikita for our tenth anniversary. My eyes brimmed with salty tears and quickly overflowed.
The card was accompanied by a letter. With my eyelashes still damp from tears I read that she loves math, and I think how smart this beautiful young lady is. She sends kisses and hugs and I think how loved we are.
And she closes her letter with a verse. This is the first time in two and a half years. I read the illuminated text written by a 11 year old girl half a world away, and an overflow of sloppy tears inundate my cheeks again.
I wonder at how a young girl who wrote this letter about two months prior (a month or so before this all started happening in our lives) would choose this verse for a letter that would arrive at this season in our lives.
My mind floats to God, and I believe that it was at this point that my shell first started to crack.
It still amazes me that God reached from the other side of the globe, that months prior to this season even starting He moved upon the heart of a little Indian girl to minister to us.
I’ve been hard pressed to have the desire to do anything Christmasy this year.
In my feelings of abandonment by God, it is difficult to celebrate this time of Immanuel.
While everyone else cheerfully decorated their tree and home, my newly purchased tree sat in its box on the dining room table, and the stockings & nativity on the work bench in the garage where they’ve been for the last 11 months.
I didn’t – and I think in some regards still don’t – feel it.
I’ve noticed my anger is cyclical. A constant cycle of anger, indifference, & finally consideration – and then start the whole cycle all over again before consideration takes root and grace is exchanged between He and I. While anger and indifference are interwoven through the whole time.
Last night I was talking with Shawn. He was asking how I was feeling/doing in regards to the catalyst that has propelled me the this cycle. My response was that I don’t tend to think about it, because when I do I get blindingly angry.
And I believe his response was what I needed to hear, he said you have to think about it, you have to get over it. And I’m transported back to my question of if I want to heal.
This morning………this morning, I find myself back at consideration. However, in a different aspect that what has been over the last month and a half. Yes, I still feel angry. As I’ve mentioned it takes time.
Last night while Shawn was at a meeting I set up our tiny tree and wrapped extra lights around, as it seemed only half the tree came with lights. I draped around it red velour and as always strategically placed the cast members who remind us of that night, when Immanuel took place.
I feel this time, in this position of consideration – it will be different. I breathe in deep and hold on as I take a step towards Immanuel.
Life feels kinda like this right now. A hazy, swirly, complicated.
In part, it feels like the farther I get from ground zero of what catapulted me to state the harder it feels to go back to faith and trusting.
And of course all I hear about is faith.
My heart automatically puts up its thick walls of defense.
It’s hard to trust when you feel like God hasn’t held up His end of a bargain — which of course is a ridiculous concept.
But that’s how it feels.
A friend, who speaks in wisdom to us, says that God is exercising our faith in such a way that it’s in our face. And I feel like this is the case – that He’s standing with His arms woven together across His chest asking me now what, what are you going to do now?
In reality — this same question I’m posing to Him, with my arms knotted.
I wonder if I want to heal. If I want to trust again. Or if this anger it’s just easier, so I build my defense and push away every time I feel wooed.
This is – honestly – harder than I was expecting. I knew it would be hard……but this, this feels excruciating.
I want to take the short road to wholeness, while at the same time exercinging my interpreted right to the way I feel.
Really, I don’t know how to get back to good.
I sat there as she delicately drew lines and swirls on my hand and arm with henna. I was amazed at the intricacy that flowed from her brown hands.
Beauty…sitting across from me and on my left arm.
How quickly these feelings faded as insomnia ripped through my body that night, and quickly drudged up all the anger that had possibly, slowly begun to fade.
I laid on our couch. The glow of the street light out behind, and the nightlights in the kitchen illuminating the anger seething from my heart.
Where had it gone? That happiness I’d felt just a dozen hours earlier.
Where as I had begun the process of re-trusting, and of re-experiencing the grace between Creator and creation, I now screamed.
I fear that if you could see this anger, this distrust that swells my chest and juts out my chin – you would shake your head at me in contempt.
………….or, maybe you wouldn’t.
I wonder at how hard we fall sometimes.
Why we distrust One who is so magnificently in control.
In these handful of days that have past since that sleepless night I still wrestle with the accusations I placed. And I fear them.
They hold power if I allow them to.
But I want to get that place I was at with the beautiful Indian woman creating filigree on my hand. To the place of joy I experienced as we were swamped by the culture of a land our hearts cries for.
I need to remember and believe that He is not looking at me with contempt but with eyes full of tears and a broken heart.
I know I’m gonna have to do this on my own.
……and i know it’s going to take some time.
The healing and the trusting.
Because even re-trusting the One who hand-crafted you can take time.
This space may be a dark a little more often while I wrestle through this season I’ve
found thrown myself in. I shared with a friend that I know healing needs to take place but it isn’t something I want to rush. I want need it to be intentional and deliberate.
If I don’t heal and learn to trust again, I know it will affect future seasons and future breaths.
The words that I can wrestle out that can be shared I will do so. I know that we learn from one another, and while your story won’t be the same as mine, one day…….it may help.
I’m also making some breathing space on twitter. I find myself leaning in too much to social media to find my value and at times it hurts my heart.
Thank you for your patience with me. And humbly I ask for prayer.
Last night I finished reading the Bible.
From the Levitical Law to the the drippings of grace that left an empty tomb.
From in the beginning God spoke creation to the the indwelling of the new heaven and the new earth.
Over the last nine months, I noticed a thread, or perhaps a beautifully woven ribbon throughout the stories of creation, the repeated rise & fall of Israel, the Messiah, the church, and the last days.
Throughout the whole Word, God wove grace. In times where you would expect ungrace you experience grace flavoring the circumstances as salt flavors food.
Father forgiving the son who attempted his murder. Brother forgiving jealous, conniving brothers. Savior forgiving executioners.
Oddly enough, I even find grace in the Law. I see that it was God’s grace to give us the law in order that we would know that we could never stand in His holiness without the grace of the cross.
In grace, God repeatedly sent prophets to the Israelites. Calling for their repentance. And even when He allowed them to be taken into captivity, exiled, warred upon, He – in His grace – rescued them.
I loved that God took the time to show me how grace is not only woven into my life, but into the very existence of all since the creation.
My plan for the remainder of the year is to read Psalms; and at the beginning of the year start reading through chronologically. I trust that as He whispered my OneWord of grace throughout these last several months, He’ll do the same with my word for 2012.
Saturday morning I did not want to get up. We’d spent nearly 12 hours the previous day at the Together For Adoption Conference, but it wasn’t exhaustion (mental or physical) that weighed down my body.
I’d been awake since probably 4am and as the imminent melodious sounds of One eskimO, that would soon sound the alarm to rise & shine, I felt every ounce of my body repel against the second day of the conference.
I rationalized ways we could leave the conference early, as it felt that all my nerve endings were hyperactive and stretched their fingers prickling my skin.
Friday had been amazing. I walked away overwhelmed not only by the amount of information I received, but God’s heart for the orphan and God’s heart for me.
I reached over and turned my alarm off and laid there for a few more minutes. I felt heavy. And I realized the weight of opposition that did not want me to attend the conference.
I knew I needed to tuck some truth and encouragement in my heart and in my mind.
I’d been reading in 2 Kings for a couple of days and I realized I hadn’t come across the story of Elisha and his servant being surrounded by the enemy. I silently prayed, “Lord, if only I could read that story today. If only I could be reminded of your faithfulness in protecting me.”
And I drowsily began to read, and this is what God did:
“It’s not us, my lord the king,” one of the officers replied. “Elisha, the prophet in Israel, tells the king of Israel even the words you speak in the privacy of your bedroom!”
“Go and find out where he is,” the king commanded, “so I can send troops to seize him.” And the report came back: “Elisha is at Dothan.” So one night the king of Aram sent a great army with many chariots and horses to surround the city.
When the servant of the man of God got up early the next morning and went outside, there were troops, horses, and chariots everywhere. “Oh, sir, what will we do now?” the young man cried to Elisha.
God more than met me where I was at. He knew what I needed. I was bowled over that He had ordained this passage, for this day in my scripture readings.
I honestly can’t recall another time, when He showed up this explicitly.
The second day of the conference was wonderful. We learned a lot. And had we left early like I’d been conniving to do in bed, I would have missed out on an incredible encouragement from a very unexpected source, and I would not have met a beautiful woman from India.
On our way home that night Shawn and I were discussing how much God had ordained us being there. We’d planned to attend the conference last year in Austin, but we weren’t able to. And if we had, we probably wouldn’t have attended this year.
And today….five days later I’m still moved to tears at His faithfulness. Even a year ago He had this past weekend in mind and all the at would happen.
Prudence is a 30-something writer who lives in Arizona with her husband Shawn and their chihuahuas Lengua and Zeus. She writes her life, her experiences and her crawl back to hope. Eventually, she hopes to visit India – a place that’s captured her heart without ever stepping foot on the soil.