Tuesday, February 22, 2011

They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped That Sucker Flat

That is how I felt today.

I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t comprehend how overwhelming it would be. 

This morning, our oldest daughter Beth, her husband Gary, and our grandbaby Maggie, strapped in her carseat and waving like crazy, backed down our driveway to move to Cleveland.   The reality of it hit us like a cold, icy, February Chicago snowball and we cried-- a lot.  Their absence is not yet ten hours old, and I haven’t even touched the bottom of it yet.  “Turn around,” I wanted to text them this afternoon.   I won’t ever again see a bird at the feeder or a squirrel in our yard without thinking about Maggie.  Tomorrow is Wednesday.  Beth is not going to Bible study, and Maggie won’t be coming over to play.  Everything in me says don’t be such a baby about this, but I can’t help it.  There have been too many goodbyes.  

We rejoiced fifteen months ago when God engineered our move here to live just three miles from them.  When  Beth and Gary announced that they were moving out-of-state, it was not what we had in mind.  It was another one of those times when God kept asking me, “Can you trust Me in this?”  I know that just because it doesn’t make sense to me doesn’t mean that there isn’t an amazing divine reason for what is happening.  But oh, there were moments today when I thought that I couldn’t breathe.

Last Friday morning before the packing frenzy began, Beth came over at 7 am with Maggie to have breakfast.  Beth brought some donuts, I made the coffee, and Maggie supplied the laughter.  And while we were eating and talking, I was reminded of an experience 24 years ago when Beth started kindergarten.  As I stood on the sidewalk outside the school with tears streaming down my face, my very wise husband told me, “The letting go starts right now.”

Well, today we reached the Super Bowl of letting go.  And in the midst of my tears while I was picking up the all-too-silent playroom, God reminded me again that there is no better place for them to be than the center of His Will. 

“Trust Me,” God tells me in His Word.   He is the God who heals and redeems and restores beyond all that we can ask or even imagine.

LORD, all my longing is known to You,

my sighing is not hidden from You.

My heart throbs, my strength fails me,

and the light of my eyes – it has also gone from me.

…But for You, O LORD, do I wait;

it is You, O LORD my God, who will answer.

                                  Psalm 38. 9-10, 15

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Get a Grip


Chicago was hit by a blizzard of historic proportions last week.  And in its wake, the storm left behind literal mountains of snow.  Our village requires residents to shovel their sidewalks, which provided me a maze of icy paths, 16 inches wide with walls on each side thigh-high.  I know now how the Israelites felt in crossing the Red Sea, like traveling through a canyon. But running in these conditions is a lot harder than it looks.  Running in snow replicates trying to gain traction on loose deep sand.  At other times, layers of ice hiding underneath produce a lethal combination.  When I was a little girl back a hundred years ago, people installed chains on their car tires to help them maneuver through the wintry mess.  I now attach to the bottom of my running shoes, a type of tire chains.  They don’t guarantee a slip-free run, but they really help me “get a grip” when the way is icy and treacherous.

On a sunny day when life is wonderful, reading my Bible and praying keep me glued together.  When the way gets a bit harder, I reach out and shout “help” to a few trusted women who don’t ask for details or try to fix my problem, but pray for me.  Also, as I run, I quote Scriptures that I have memorized to plug me into the power of God’s Word. 

And indeed, in the same week Chicago was hit by a blizzard, I was hit by another blizzard of sorts, a difficult situation with strong emotional winds.  I struggled with how to navigate the turmoil.  It was not the first time I have had to face an enormous task that made me want to hide in the closet until the tempest passes.  This was yet another time when the only way that I could face the enormity of the crisis was to trust God through it.  That is the only way to “get a grip.”  Put pride aside and strap on the trust.  As God reminded me this week, “Can you trust Me in this?”  I know I can.  The path may not be obvious to me, but God will guide me through it and keep me from falling.  “Trust Me.”  Those words are the “tire-chains” that keep you going when the way is treacherous and not what you had in mind.  And you may find, as I did last Sunday morning running through three inches of new powder and snowflakes dancing around me, that trusting God brings you to a beautiful place you never knew before.

You gave a wide place for my steps under me,

and my feet did not slip.

                     Psalm 18.36

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Gospel According to Jimmy Choo

On this morning’s TODAY show on NBC, hidden somewhere between the exciting news of wind chill in Chicago and the traffic update, was a small feature entitled “Why We Are Obsessed with Shoes.”  A group of four experts came to the conclusion, and I quote:  “Shoes have the ability to transform your life.”  Whoa, I almost fell off the treadmill. 

As a shoe-challenged kind of woman who 99.8 percent of the time wears either running shoes, Chaco sandals or Birkenstock clogs (yes, in that order),  it is probably illegal for me to even type the words “Jimmy Choo” in a blog.   The panel of experts included Stacy London who weekly scours the United States for women like me who don’t have a fashion clue, a fashion editor for Glamour magazine who said that a poor economy actually stimulates the sale of shoes, and another woman who had on a pair of boots that probably cost more than my car is worth.

How many pairs of shoes are enough?  One more pair, I am sure these women would conclude.  It is an elusive pursuit.  There is something in us that wants something more, something dramatically different, something new.  We KNOW there is more to this life.  That is why advertising is so successful:  it promises you the world for the price of a  new pair of shoes.  It will make things right.   It will save your life.  While a pair of shoes can have many positive qualities, salvation is not one of them.  Why do we seek these things with such displaced desperation?  Because there is a longing in our hearts…a longing that only God can satisfy, no matter how many shoes you can stuff in your closet.  That longing is there, because God put it there, to lead us to a relationship with Him.   

The right pair of shoes, yea, they can make an outfit work.  But transforming your life?  Sorry, Stacy, it has nothing at all to do with what you strap on your feet…and everything to do with what God’s love can do in your heart. 

…and you shall be called by a new name,

which the mouth of the LORD will give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,

and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,

but you shall be called My delight is in her…

and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,

            so shall your God rejoice over you.

                                          Isaiah 62. 2-5