Friday, April 10, 2015

Wear It On Your Sleeve

It's one of those days when I have a lot to say. A lot to get off my chest.  That's why I write. I have this NEED to  get things out, and until I write them out, I still carry them around, like burdens.

I want to write a break-up letter to Facebook. You know, the kind you write, but never send, cause you're just not ready to do the damage yet.

I want to address all the frustrations of postpartum dressing.   Nothing fits, on top or on bottom.

Goodness, I want to address all the frustrations of the postpartum period... period!  Hot flashes, night sweats, leaking, birth control, calories, sleepless nights, emotional roller coaster rides.

Weariness. Physically and emotionally.

I'm not quite sure what this post will become, but this is what is mainly on my heart:

We need to be real.

I don't believe in covering up the truth with made-up happiness and plastered on smiles.

Why is it that we feel the need to do that? To pretend everything is okay when it isn't? Even if it's a small thing that isn't right (like pants that are too tight?), why are we so afraid to confess it?

For my own part, it's because I don't want to be a complainer.  The last thing I want to do, in the precious days following the birth of a sweet child, is to be complaining about all that goes along with it.  I didn't want to complain my way through the discomforts of pregnancy, either.

But isn't it okay to talk about the realities of these things? Like varicose veins, leaky breasts, and the worst part of having a newborn, which is worrying about getting pregnant again.

Words have a spirit in which they are said.  And therefore, they are received according to their spirit, not so much the words.  I'm no fan of complainers. Lord knows part of my reason for wanting to break up with Facebook has to do with the complainers. I want to start a campaign called "Can't We Just Keep Facebook Fun?"  But at the same time, there is a spirit in which we can speak the hard things and be real, without being a complainer.

We just had Easter Sunday at church, and part of my role is making sure our children's ministry is staffed and running smoothly.  Easter Sunday can be a hard time to serve, for many reasons, but often because it is THE Christian Holy Day and we all want to be in the service, partaking with others in the celebration of the resurrection of Christ.  Serving in children's ministry can feel isolated and lonely and maybe even anti-climatic for such a special day. And I fully understand this.  A sweet mom, who was scheduled to serve, confessed these things to me. And later wrote me an apology for complaining.

Her words were not in the complaining spirit at all. They were just real, flowing from a heart that was weary and a little sad and lots of other real things. But not complaining.

There are those whose default is negativity and complaining.  They don't even realize it, I think. But then there are those who will never admit their struggles, pains, sorrows, and daily realities because they are afraid it will drive people away or that they will be judged.

I have made no secret about the difficulties I have experienced since we moved over three and a half years ago.  I don't pretend, nor will I, that I am perfectly happy where we are and with what is on our plate right now.  Yet, I don't dwell on these things continually and I try to check my heart to make sure I'm not complaining.

I am extremely uncomfortable with people who are always positive, whose lives are always wonderful, who will never tell you the hard things they are going through, or ask for prayer.  I can't live up to that.  Frankly, I am desperate. Every. Single. Day.

I don't want to dwell on the difficulties, but I don't want to dismiss them either.

I have many incredible joys in my life right now. And many struggles too.  I want to write about them all, and I probably will, but some of those will be the things that don't get published.  Not everything needs to be shared.

But the things I do share, even if if they seem wrong to you or you disagree (no comments on birth control, k?  I've told you nothing.) just be gentle. Just listen.  Just realize I am a REAL person who is not perfect and not a clone of you.  Or stop reading my blog (smile).

And please feel free to be real with me.  No, I don't want to listen to your laundry list of complaints and injustices, but I do want to listen to your heart.  Wear it on your sleeve.

You're prettier when you do.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Story Isn't Over Yet

"It's Friday... But Sunday's coming!"

The message of the past two years of my life has been "The story isn't over yet."

Maybe this has been the message for *all* of my life.  Because how many times have I thought I'd come to the end?

Thinking nothing good was ever going to happen again.

The present so dismal and dark that the light of the of the future just couldn't penetrate.

I'm so serious, that way.  I always have been this way.  I don't see the world with rose-colored glasses and I sure wish I could.

It's been job losses and baby losses.  It's been Wall Street failing and the outcome of elections.  It's been having babies and raising babies.  It's been standing still and it's been moving.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote about the depression (and I hate to admit that's what it was) that I had been in since we moved three and half years ago.  I was at the place of dreading each day, waking up to the same discouraging circumstances, the same loneliness, the same old story.  And I wrote about how I decided it was time to live again.

And the Lord was whispering "The story isn't over yet, girl." (And HE is the only one who can call me "girl". Cause he says it with such love and sweetness.)

And my story wasn't over yet. It isn't over yet. Why, we've just had a baby, so hasn't it, in some ways, just begun again?

But this week, as I have sat on my bed pondering, and as I have sat on my nursing couch, mulling, again, this voice, that lying voice, whispers, "This is it.  There is no more.  Things will never change."

And I wanted to cry.  Such a heaviness on my heart when I listened to that voice.  But thank God, I've got HIS voice.  It straightens things out, it makes all things new.

In my heart, maybe not even in my head, I think I asked God for the truth.  And this is what He said. And, oh, He is the sweetest.

"Remember not the former things;
nor consider the things of old.
BEHOLD, I am doing a NEW thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert."
Isaiah 43:18 and 19

I came bounding down the stairs, thinking these words, this promise, over, and He said it again.

"The story isn't over yet."

And isn't that the message of Easter?

Think of it.  The disciples, they have lost their Teacher, Master, the one they dared to believe was Messiah.  The women, they have lost their Hero, their tender Rabboni.  All they had dared to hope in Him, and believe about Him, all the love in their hearts for Him, and He was now dead. In the tomb.  No doubt about it, cause they watched him beaten and literally torn apart. They watched him dragged off the cross and tossed into the cave haphazardly,  They saw the stone no one could move rolled into its place, sealing the grave.

It was over.

The two men on the way to Emmaus from Jerusalem, they just trudged along despondently.  Along came another traveller who asked why they were so sad.  "We had hoped he was the one..." they said.

And Peter and Andrew, James and John, what else was there to do but go back to their fishing gig?  The one they had given the last three years of their lives too, he was gone.  Dead.

 It was over.

No hope for tomorrow.

But the traveller on the road to Emmaus was Jesus, come back from the dead.

The one calling to the fishermen from the shore was Jesus,  risen from the grave.

He showed his hands and his feet.  Yes, that part of the story had been real,  But so was this.  He was alive!  Death could not hold him down.  There was no power stronger than him.

And there is much more to the story.  The book of Acts, the story of the disciples afterward, that is only the beginning!

What it is I long for in the pages of my life, I cannot even say.  All I know is, my heart cries for "More!" and it has pleaded for this for so long, and the promises seem so far off at times, that I despair.  But then Jesus appears to me and renews my hope.

"The story isn't over yet, girl."

There is this old hymn I used to love to sing in my growing-up days.

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future.
Life is worth the living just because He lives.

This is the Easter story. HE LIVES!

And because HE LIVES, though there is death and sorrow, there is also life and joy.  And so long as I live, there is a story unfolding.  It is not over, nor will it be, until my own glorious resurrection, from earth to heaven.

And even then, my story just begins.

"May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope." Romans 15:13

Happy Easter!