Thursday, August 23, 2012

When You Can't Feel God...

Life's trials can pile up on us sometimes and be overwhelming.  When they collect like this life feels like quick sand sucking you into a dark pit with no way out.  Sometimes it doesn't even feel like God's hand is there ready to pull you out.  I have found myself in the quick sand quite a bit recently.

We are still without a full time job and benefits.  My husband had one interview this summer and he did not get that job.  Jobs are scarce. Then my girl ended up in the emergency room with dangerously low blood counts in need of a blood transfusion. That's when I began to wonder where God was and why He was allowing this.  I despise the why questions.  They never get me anywhere but frustrated! Yet somehow I can't help but ask them. 

The next few days at the hospital brought more uncertainty as to what was causing her low blood counts.  The concern was that her marrow was not producing red blood cells.  The question was why.  In the middle of trying to be strong for my girl and not let my fears play across my face, my mind raced.  What if she has some terrible blood disorder?  Are they consulting an oncologist because they think it's cancer or just to be safe? What if it is cancer?  What will we do? How will we care for her if it is? Our insurance ends in two weeks and we don't have another job lined up. Doesn't God know how tired we all are? Why can't I feel Him present when I know He is there?

On one day in particular I had to leave my husband at the hospital with her so I could be alone with those questions and fears.  I didn't taste my food when I ate, my stomach hurt constantly, tums were my new best friend, my back and neck ached from the tension.  Worse than that I could not sense God's presence in our circumstances and I felt abandoned.  My heart knew He had not abandoned me.  My heart knew that just because I couldn't feel His presence didn't mean He wasn't there.  Yet my mind and my emotions battled with the overwhelming feeling of being alone.  So I did what I knew to do.  I spent the hour long car ride from the hospital to my home crying out to God and letting Him know my fears, my hurt, and my feelings of abandonment. I  still couldn't sense that He was there.  Then I remembered reading about a woman who chose to sing praises in the midst of her most difficult times and how worship is sometimes an act of will.  So I tried.  I sang and I sobbed.  I didn't feel like worshiping Him because it felt like He wasn't there.  I chose to worship Him as an act of faith that He was there.  Soon the crushing weight of it all lifted and I felt peace.

As I sit here writing this, my girl is home and recovering.  It was a virus that attacked her bone marrow and caused all of this.  She is expected to make a full recovery.  I sit here on the other side of that part of my trial looking back .  As I look back I can't help but think that there was some battle going on that made worship an act of will and an act of faith.  I know I was consumed with fear that day in the car and faith is the opposite of fear.  I believe that worship was the break through.  I needed to praise God in one of my darkest times whether I felt Him there or not.  I needed to choose to continue loving Him, acknowledging who He is, and following Him regardless of what my daughter's diagnosis would be.  This sent a message to the author of those fears and lies of abandonment that I was choosing to trust God whether I felt Him or not because I don't need to feel Him to know He is there. That is when the peace of God was able to break through and the weight of it all was lifted.

Someone reading this is facing the same feelings and fears that I did.  I want you to know that God has not abandoned you.  Just because you can't feel Him or see the purpose in your trial, doesn't mean He isn't there.  He never left.  We choose to sink in the quick sand when we let fear consume us.  We choose the strength of His hand gripping ours to lift us out when we have faith that He is there even when we can't feel Him.  Grab a hold of His hand today and let Him lift you out.  Choose to trust Him no matter how much you feel like you are sinking in the quick sands of life.  Let go of fear and choose to have faith in the only One whose grip is strong enough to lift you out!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Open Heart, Open Home...

 If someone had told me four years ago that I would be sitting here today with an ache in my heart because in two weeks I have to say goodbye to my neighbor's daughter I wouldn't have believed them! Yet it's true.  We have enjoyed her summer visit very much and every time she walks through our back door my husband says, "There's my third daughter"! We now begin to feel that ache that comes from knowing she's not technically ours and we must say goodbye soon.  So how is it that one comes to feel so much love for a child that isn't technically hers?  I will tell you.

Four years ago I was content with my little slice of life.  I didn't mind that I didn't know my neighbors.  I enjoyed the quiet and I was happy to keep to myself.  God had other plans.  He brought the neighbors to me.  He sent them directly across my back yard. 

Our friendship began hesitantly on my part because I didn't want to get involved.  Before I knew it I had no choice.  She kept showing up on my doorstep.  Her mom kept stopping in for coffee.  Casual conversation turned into caring.  Caring about them turned into prayers for them.  Prayers turned into opportunities to share Christ.  Our friendship grew and the little girl was here so often we affectionately called her our third daughter.  I soon became her mom's only close friend.   We went through exhausting and dark times together.  I sowed the seeds God gave me to plant in their lives with tears. Then mother and daughter moved to Florida .

The girl is home for the summer with her dad.  He is trying to sell the house and find a job where she  and her mom live.  She has shown up on my back doorstep pretty regularly this summer and often stays overnight while her dad works night shift.  God is using her to speak truth into my oldest daughter's life.  She is able to say things that I have already said.  The difference is she gets away with it and God is using her words to change my oldest girl's heart.  This is the joy I am reaping so many years later...

God brought this child and her family into our lives.  What choice did we have but to love them, open our hearts to them, and open our home?  By doing this they felt safe and comfortable with us.  That security is what allows this child to fearlessly speak what needs to be spoken into my daughter's life.  She knows that at the end of the day she is loved no matter what, welcome always, and wanted.  My only regret is that God had to literally bring them to my doorstep because I didn't want to be bothered.  I thought my little slice of life was just fine, enjoyable, hassle free, neat and boxed up.  In a way it was.  It was somewhat risk free. If I didn't get involved then I wasn't taking a risk.  After all relationships with anyone can be messy and if you do grow to genuinely love them you risk hurt at some point. Yet I know it's worth it.

 I sit here on the couch thinking about how much I would have missed if God had left me be and not sent that little girl across my back yard.  Even though my heart aches with our visit drawing to a close, I welcome it. I welcome the ache because it is God's doing.  It's His handiwork. The ache is a product of the love and friendship He built between us as we shared life together.  I am no longer content to stay in my own little bubble.  I believe that we miss so much when we keep to ourselves.  We waste the blessings and the lessons learned that God wants us to share with others.  We were made to share life with others not to isolate ourselves from getting involved!

So who is God sending into your back yard?  What is your excuse for not opening your heart and home to them?  What do you have to lose?  Privacy? Peace?   Better yet, what do you have to gain?  Friendship? Love?  Take the risk.  Open your heart and your home to that person God keeps bringing your way.  You may find that a few years later you're sitting where I am... in awe of what God has done and how much you can love someone whose not technically your own! The ache is nothing compared to the joy of sharing life.