Barren Path {I AM}

I walk along this barren path with bitter, heavy steps.

My skin feels parched from this dry walk.  My tongue lay thick in my mouth.

“Where, oh where, are you my Lord?” my voice screams without a sound.  “You are not here.  You do not care.  You are nowhere to be found.”

This painful walk.  This mournful way.  This path does not seem right.

I am forgotten, misunderstood, and full of dread for the night.

With each step, my bones crack, and my heart lays deep in my chest.

I am weary, tired, and painfully torn.  I desperately long for some rest.

“Where, oh where, are you my Lord?” my voice screams without a sound.  “You are not here.  You do not care.  You are nowhere to be found.”

The ground beneath laughs at me.  It scorches me to the bone.

This barren ground.  This painful walk.  I am completely alone.

 “Where, oh where, are you my Lord?” my voice screams without a sound.  “You are not here.  You do not care.  You are nowhere to be found.”

And then, at once, I look up. The light is far too bright.

I squint my eyes, cover myself, and wonder.  “Where is the night?”

“Where is the night that envelopes me?  Where is the darkness that won’t leave?”

This barren path.  This mournful walk.  It clings to me so tight.

“I AM.”  I hear you say.  “I AM.”  

You say again.

This is the sound that chased after me; the one that would not leave.

This voice.  This gentle, but intense one, that stirred my heart to believe.

“I AM in the sunrise, wind, and rain.  I AM in the sunset, joy, and pain.”

“I AM the One who first knew you, and the One who wrote your days.”

“I AM the Weaver, Storm Creator, and Calmer of the Seas.”

“I AM the One who set your feet upon this barren path.  Yet, I AM the One who will avenge you, my child, with great wrath.”

This barren path.  This parched, dry walk.  This journey of which I’ve known.

It does not feel dry anymore. I no longer feel alone.

For my Father,the Great I AM, walks me through the days.  He fills the air, and colors my view with songs of joy and praise.

My steps are light.  My heart leaps up.  I dance on this fruitful land.

For my Father, the Great I AM, holds me in His Heavenly Hand.

“I AM.”  I hear you say.  “I AM.”  

You say again.

Thank you Lord, for guiding me, and setting my soul upon this terrain.

Thank you, Father, the Great I AM, for capturing my  heart once more.  Thank you, Father, the Great I AM, for things that are in store.

You set my feet upon this walk.  This barren path is long.  Yet, You quench each thirst. You pad each step. You caress me with a new song. 

You breathe hope into my lungs.  My heart leaps at Your Great Name.  

Yahweh.  Father.  Loving God.

For You are the Great I AM.

 

The Other Side of Sadness

There you are, sitting on a side of sadness where….

 the air is sucked out of your lungs;

your mind is forced to enter a dark place;

sorrows are whispered;

another day is wished for;

results seem to not come;

regrets are mulled over;

anger is justified;

what could have been is fantasized about;

your spirit is bored down;

pleadings go unanswered;

miracles do not seem to happen;

loneliness and despair sit side by side;

things don’t make sense;

our bodies break down;

and, you are compelled to let go; even though it is the life-changing, heart-breaking, and most pain-inducing moment of your life.

Are you sitting there, my friend?  I have been there myself.  Many others have too. Sometimes, we choose this side through our actions or lack there of.  Most of the time though, we are swept away from the other side of sadness we once lived in. Like a stranger in a foreign land, we enter into a place where we do not find comfort, and wish to leave.  This side of sadness may feel as though it will last forever.

I want you to know that there is another side of sadness, though.  It is one where….

hope dwells;

the resilience of the human spirit is witnessed over again;

beauty comes out of messes;

love is not silent;

laughter resonates;

stars are wished upon;

new life is born;

miracles are witnessed;

wind is felt;

purpose is found;

friendships are formed;

faith is grounded;

prayers are answered;

restoration happens;

and, meaning leads you to the peace that once evaded you.

The hard part of life is that we often find ourselves sitting on one side of sadness or the other.  We have not been promised a life of glorious moments, painless relationships, or perfect condition.  No….life seems, at times, to be just the opposite.

I have found, though, that memories I will choose to walk through life with are not the ones that caused strife, or physical pain.  The memories I want to hold dear towards the end of my life, whenever that will be, are moments where my senses felt alive, my mind was stirred, and my heart was over-flowing.  Yes, these are the moments that exist on the other side of sadness.

There is another side of sadness, another side of pain, and another side of having no control over some of the tragedies in our lives.  The human spirit is capable of capturing grace and joy in the darkest times; even when life is depleting.

The other side of sadness is one where love collides with life.  It is one that cannot be taken away.  It is where memories remain.  It is the side that doesn’t deteriorate or go silent, even when circumstances seem to be challenging it.  

The other side of sadness awaits for you.  It has reserved a spot with your name on it.  It will be waiting for you when you are ready.  I hope to find you on the other side of sadness soon.

 ….Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:5

My Response to the Response

The past few days I’ve been overwhelmed with the response to a blog post I wrote back in June of this year.  From what I can tell, the post titled Dear Parent of a Sick Child, was found via a Google search.  It was shared on Facebook, then shared again, and again. Since Wednesday, my blog has received over 34,000 views.  In particular, the post has been shared on Facebook over 10,000 times.

I’m completely overwhelmed and humbled by this response.  Some bloggers get this high of numbers of views on a constant basis, but not me.  I’m a pretty simple blogger who enjoys writing and sharing about my struggle with barrenness, my joy of being an adoptive parent, and my walk in the Lord.

I’ve been moved to tears by the messages from parents sitting by their terminally ill children, parents who have lost children to illness, or ones celebrating their children’s recovery.  I don’t even know what to say in response, and at times, I can barely find the words.

The funny thing is that I do not believe it is my most well-written post.  I have read it many times since, and still see flaws, and areas I would like to tweak a bit.  When discussing this with a friend, she pointed out that perhaps it is even more evident that God is moving on this one.  I cannot help but agree with her.

Back in June, I was moved to write the open letter partly in honor of my mom and dad, and the love they showed me during my illness.  I also wrote it to give voice to things I wished I would have been able to say during that fateful time in my life.  My hope was to encourage parents caring for sick children.

Ultimately though, I wanted to give a glimpse of what it is like to be cared for as an ill child.  I wanted people to know that when I think about the time spent in the hospital, I remember some moments of sadness during it all, but mostly, I remember the presence of my mom and dad.  Sure, I sensed the heaviness of what was going on, but I still felt the never-ceasing support, and genuine love given to me.

I remember the presence of love over my pain.

With all of this being said, I feel the need to share what has been on my heart this week.  Here is my response to the response thus far:

  • Nothing we do is insignificant.  Nothing.
  • Moments in time, regardless of how long ago, have the potential to come back full circle, and in ways we could not ever comprehend.
  • There are many hurting people in the world.  Tell your life story.  You never know the kind of impact it will have on someone who needs to hear it.
  • There are a tremendous amount of seriously ill children, and exhausted parents.  Please pray for those families who have read my post, and the many more who have not.
  • Please do not take your life and your little ones for granted.
  • When the Lord prompts you to do something, then do it.
  • The Lord, through His mercy of sparing my life back in 1983 and through current events in my life, has proved Himself time and again.

I especially want to thank the parents who have read my post, or commented on it by sharing a little bit about their struggle.  You all have thanked me over and over again, but I say, “Thank you.”  Thank you for sharing your stories with me.  Thank you for fighting for your babies.  Thank you for not giving up hope.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  You have touched my heart more than you will ever know.

Throughout my early years, I often wondered why I dealt with illnesses that were difficult.  I especially anguished over having a hysterectomy at such a young age.  I cannot tell you enough how truly remarkable it is to be able to share my story with the hope that it comforts others.

This was my path that the Lord laid out for me, and for that, I give thanks.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

-1 Thessalonians 5:18

the One Thing you can Trust

Discouragement is a thug.  It creeps up on you, punches you in the gut, and then slithers away laughing.  Discouragement breaks your heart, and leaves you in that painful place where sadness dwells.

Disappointment is a thief.  It robs you of the things you were hopeful would come to pass.  It steals, if only for a moment, your sense of the world, and where you belong in it.

Anger, oh anger.  It is a hard one to figure out.  On the one hand, anger can be your best friend, your self-defense, and your motivator to get out and do what needs to be done.  On the other, it can be your worst enemy.  It blindfolds, spins you around until you are dizzily confused, then spits you out.

Rejection.  Rejection is fear.  Rejection is walking onto a path, and losing your footing.  Rejection pulls the rug out from you, knocks the wind out of your lungs, and revisits all of your self-prescribed deficiencies.  Rejection also educates you…even if in the most unfortunate of ways.

The past few days, discouragement, disappointment, anger, and rejection have all been sitting side-by-side with me.  I’ve been able to displace them for a bit, but the moment I’m alone, they come tip-toeing back to me.

Last night, I had the responsibility of training future foster parents.  I knew I had to fake it through the night.  I had to pretend that my heart wasn’t in pain, my mind wasn’t a thousand miles away, and anger was not my friend.  I had to put on a good show, and never give away the fact that I was reliving the day over and over again in my head.

The truth is I’ve gotten pretty good at putting on shows.  Last night was no different. As the class ended and I made my way to my car, I began to exhale the vile thoughts I had kept in.  I turned on the ignition, put the car in gear, and pulled away from the church that I had been teaching in.  In that moment, I looked up and saw this:

Trust Image

There He was.  There, right in front of me, was the visual reminder of the only truth that matters.  The One Thing that I can trust.

Perhaps fear is what overtook me throughout the day.  Fear of rejection, fear of inadequacy, fear of not being good enough, fear of distrust, fear of the unknown, fear of feeling useless, and fear of no longer being significant.  

The future is not known.  Dreams and plans are not always fulfilled.  Even the notion of what appears to be fair and right are not always followed through on.  It should not come as a surprise that man disappoints, discourages, stirs up anger, and rejects time and time again.

The Lord though, He does not reject.  He does not disappoint.  He does not discourage.  Instead, He says, “You, my child, you are significant.  Your work does not go unnoticed.  You are not a disappointment.  Your anger will only visit you for a short time.  You are not a reject.  You are not inadequate.  You are not useless.  You are better than good enough.  You are MY child.”

I woke up this morning still feeling the left-overs of emotions from the day before. Still yet, my thoughts kept returning to the sign that caught my eye.

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” -Corrie Ten Boom

Dear friends, the next time you feel the sadness of discouragement, the victimization of disappointment, the vision-stealing darkness of anger, and the overwhelming fear of rejection, remember Who holds your future.

Remember Who appoints your successes, and comforts your failures.  Remember Who finds you worthy.  Remember Who values your work, cherishes your talents, and Who you have nothing to prove.

Remember, your future may be unknown to you, but to your Father in Heaven it is mightily known.  Now, that is One Thing you can Trust.

Momma-in-Waiting (Part 2)

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you…. You look in the mirror and do not recognize the girl staring back at you.  That girl, the one who radiantly wore your skin, now looks worn, tired, and plagued by a silent war.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….You are surrounded by a crowd of many, and yet, you feel alone, isolated, and slightly misunderstood.  You hear the squeals of delights when others announce their impending motherhood, and all you hear is, “It’s not me.”  

All you think is, “It may never be me.”

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….At one time, you believed in happy endings.  Oh, you were not naive to the hardships of this world.  You knew that not all of life’s wishes are granted.  You understand that the Lord doesn’t give you more than you can handle, but this….this battle….is one you never imagined facing.

Instead, you thought, “One of these days, I will be this kind of mommy.”  Or, “I cannot wait to see my child for the first time.”  Here you are now, waiting to be the kind of mommy you promised yourself you would be.  Here you are now, waiting to see your child for the first time.

And yet, that first time has not happened.  You are a momma-in-waiting.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….You have felt as though the Lord is not listening to you.  You have pleaded, begged, and cried out, but all you get is silence in return, and doors closed, and negative tests, and doctors giving bad news.  You nod your head, close your eyes, stare in the mirror at the girl you no longer recognize, and weep.

You feel lost in the midst of a million prayers.  You might just be questioning your faith, or perhaps, your faith in His plan for your life.  You do not know which one is worse – to doubt the Lord’s plan, or to doubt your faith in Him.  Both cut like a knife.  Both break your heart.  Both do not resolve your struggle.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….I was once like you.  I knew I could not get pregnant, but I wondered, and waited.  I stared at the mirror, and did not recognize the girl staring back at me.  I felt forced into a war that I did not start.  I felt like the loneliest person on Earth; even though, I was surrounded by many.

I too felt lost in the midst of a million prayers.  I questioned my faith, doubted His plan, and wondered if either really mattered at all.  I did not want to raise my white flag to surrender and give up, but I was sick of fighting.  I was tired from carrying the burden of it all.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….Do you want to know something? Sometimes, I still do not recognize that girl standing in front of the mirror.  That girl, the one whose scars seemed more powerful than life, does not even see her scars anymore.

That girl, the one who doubted her faith in a redemptive and loving Lord, feels Him in the slightest of breezes, sees Him in the wonders of her children, and hears Him in the quiet moments of reflection.  The girl, the one who used to believe that being a mommy was not in her plans, understands that her plans were so very small and narrow compared to the promises of God.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….tell that girl in the mirror who you are. Remind her of who you once were.  Tell her that she is not going to give up so easily.  Tell her to be brave, to seek answers, to keep trying, and to take risks.  Tell her to listen to the Lord….

….listen to Him.

Pssst….Hey Momma-in-Waiting.  Yes, you….greater things are coming.  Soon, your skin, the one once worn with radiance, will be radiant again.  Soon, you will not recognize that war-torn girl staring back at you in the mirror.

Soon…yes, soon….you will no longer be a Momma-in-Waiting.

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