Year of Tears

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

I've officially decided. 2009 is going to be my Year of Tears.
Does that sound pessimistic of me? I don't mean it to, and I actually feel rather positive and hopeful about it at the moment. For one thing, I know I can succeed at crying alot this year...(chuckling now).
You see, I've spent this morning, this last day of 2008 trying to decide how best to face 2009. I somehow can't bring myself to do the whole, "it's a grand new beginning" thing. Not again. I don't have the heart to make hopeful goals about a year that is shrouded in more darkness and unknowns than I can ever remember facing before. I'd like to say it's going to be the Year of Hope, but i said that in 2007. I did learn to hope that year...still the same unfulfilled promises. In 2008 I believed God was going to teach me about Joy. The Year of Joy. Still hoping for that too :-) I'm beginning to learn, but Joy still eludes me all too often. So as I look ahead to 2009, I don't have any grand expectations about God's work in my life...except for this.

I cried again today at the feelings of hopelessness and joylessness and aloneness that I have to fight off everyday still. I get so frustrated that I have to fight so hard and the tears just come unbidden. But as I sat with my head in my hands, drops tumbling off the tip of my nose, a thought popped in my head. A verse actually. Psalm 126:6 "He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him." I've gotten good at weeping and it has occurred to me at other times that perhaps my tears are watering seed, somehow, somewhere. I remember that there is something in scripture about God storing up our tears...and I can't find it right this second so help me out if you know where it is, but it gives you the feeling that he values our tears somehow, saves them up. I must have an ocean somewhere. Maybe it's useful. Maybe.

So I realize that I do have plenty of sowing to do in the year to come. That's part of what I feel so discouraged about today. We'll be helping to start a new church plant in the weeks to come, having seen the final deeply painful demise of the beautiful work we put our hands, shoulders, hearts into a mere 5 years ago. It's hard today to feel energetic about doing it all over again from scratch...less than scratch, in many ways. But we do both believe this is where our dear Lord wants us, for better or worse and so...we have work to do. Sowing work. Hard work. I feel overwhelmed, and then I think, "but I am going out with seeds to sow, and golly...I am so good at crying!!!" And so I've decided. 2009 is going to be my Year of Tears. I will cry gladly, because I go out carrying seeds to sow and the promise says that if I sow them in tears, I reap them in joy. Everytime it gets hard and frustrating enough to turn the tears on, I'll remember the seeds that I'm sowing. Everytime I feel that rejection and loss so sharply that I weep all over again, I'll remember the seeds that I'm sowing and be glad for the tears.

That's how I'll spend my 2009. It feels nice to know I'll be good at it.
I'll be investing in some waterproof mascara. Anyone know of a good one?


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Often I don't know what it means when I hear the instruction to praise. I know that sounds ridiculous coming from someone who once dreamed of leading worship, who even went to college to study it... I suppose maybe now is the time to learn what it means to praise Him.
I do have this one piece. This song is the first thing that springs from my heart whenever I search it for the praise that should be lodged there by now. I know the things that are true of my God and saying them out loud...they are praise to me.

Unshakeable, Immovable
Faithful and true
Full of wisdom, grace and beauty
These things are true of You

Fearless, courageous

You stand up for Justice and truth
Yet you love mercy
You laid down your life
These things are true of you

Patient, compassionate
Love flows through you
You never give up
On the hopeless ones
These things are true of you

And as I turn my face to you
Oh Lord I ask and pray
By the power of your love and grace
Make these things true of me too
Make these things true of me too.

For those who know the song...I know I've mixed up the lyrics, not on purpose. It's the way they spring from my heart. They are so beautiful to me, these ideas of courage and fearlessness that bring Him to stand for justice and truth juxtaposed next to the Mercy that took him to the cross for those truths. What a dreadful thing to ask Him to make these things true of me too. I'm starting to see the weight of such a request in this ugly broken world. But I ask just the same. Make me courageous, compassionate, merciful to the point of death on the cross.
By the power of your love and grace
Make these things true of me too...
Make these things true of me too.

Snow Storm

Saturday, December 20, 2008

My facebook status said I was going to be baking Christmas cookies today, but it's almost 5pm now and I never got started. Some days are like that. More than I care to admit, I guess.
So instead, I think I'll pass a little time between things thinking about storms.

We're due for another winter storm tonight, this one is supposed to last until Monday. I have a friend in town from Seattle and I'm hoping for a miracle...a miracle that looks like she's stranded here for Christmas and we have to send for her husband to fly down and they celebrate here...with the snow...with Chai and Smoked Prime Rib! I'm hoping. Could happen :-)

We had a storm on Thursday and that's what got me thinking about it. When I think of storms, I think of noise and rain and wind and fear. And when you talk about "the storms of this life", don't you think of really hard and painful times and sorrow and stuff? Really tough times...? That's why it struck me as so odd when I was standing at my window on Thursday watching the beautiful huge flakes falling and listening to the "storm warnings" on the radio. The dichotomy of it struck and intrigued me. I mean, I guess it was a storm, that's what the reports were calling it and they were advising us to stay home if we could. This is what a winter storm looks like. Snow on snow. But the thing is... it was so silent, so beautiful...and honestly...such a treat. Because I was standing inside my upstairs window snuggled up to a giant cup of Sumatra. I was safe and warm and loving the way this storm was about to change my world, wash it in white perfection.

And then I realized, the only difference between a storm that tears my life apart and a storm like today's, a wonder and a rare gift... the only difference is in the shelter where I stand. There are people outside today, I'm painfully aware of that. And for them today's storm is a dread and horror. Some of them will lose fingers and toes from the cold, some will lose their lives. It happened last year, it will happen again. Bend is cold in the winter. The wind and ice will blow through their makeshift tents; this storm will wrench through their lives like a cruel thief, because the shelter they are relying on is lacking. For me though, (and I hope this doesn't sound self-centerd. I do believe we have to do what we can to help the ones without adequate shelter...) this storm will bring me some much coveted family time and more of that dark roasted Sumatra, laughter and cheer. There's even a chance it could bring me a miracle gift of time with my friends from Seattle! All this in a very real storm, fully loaded with storm warnings and road advisories, but only because my shelter is adequate...that's an understatement. My shelter is glorious on a day like today, 5 days before Christmas.

I remember a friend once commenting about the idea in the Psalms of God being a "shelter" and how he had never known God as his shelter, didn't really understand what that meant. I remember that I didn't understand it back then either. I suppose I'd never had life storms heavy enough to demonstrate my true need for a shelter, but I have now. I've faced a few storms standing out in them, a few storms trying to make a shelter out of my own sorry excuse for a raincoat. But now I'm learning to face my storms with a cup of coffee and a joyful hope. My God is a shelter. He made this storm too...even the one brewing this very day. Today's particular life storm will blow and rage just like the others, maybe worse, maybe better. Some will lose much in it. I will lose nothing that I wasn't meant to lose, because my shelter, my Jesus, stands firm. I am safe in his protection. Even if I have to brave the cold for a while, he will be a warm fire for me when I come in to Him. The severity of our storms are completely dependant on the stability of our shelter.

Now I know what the Psalmist meant, and I think it's beautiful
Psalm 27:5
For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.

Psalm 31:20
In the shelter of your presence you hide them from the intrigues of men; in your dwelling you keep them safe from accusing tongues. (What a gift this one is to me today!)

Psalm 55:8
I would hurry to my place of shelter, far from the tempest and storm.

Psalm 91:1
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

And when this storm is over... another gift awaits me. Some sort of blanket of white perfection, a gift of water, susetenance, beauty. I'm truly learning to love storms, even the ones that really rage.


Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's been reminding me often lately to praise Him. I don't do it enough. Singing is such a sharp reminder to me of just how broken I am, and I avoid it. But when I do, His truth crashes in on me like an avalanche and I realize why he keeps telling me to praise him.

He has been faithful. He will be faithful. He does not change. And I do. What a lovely truth.

This road is steep. This way is narrow. But I have not been forgotten here.

Faithful One
by Selah
I find no hope within to call my own
For I am frail of heart, my strength is gone
But deep within my soul is rising up a song
Here in the comfort of the faithful one

I walk a narrow road through valleys deep
In search of higher ground, on mountains steep
And though with feet unsure, I still keep pressing on.
For I am guided by the faithful one.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious friend,
You have been faithful, Faithful,
so faithful to me

I see your wounded hands,
I touch your side With thorns upon your brow you bled and died
But there’s an empty tomb, a love for all who come
And give their hearts to you, the faithful one.

Faithful, faithful to the end,
My true and precious friend,
You have been faithful, Faithful,
so faithful to me

And when the day is dawned and when the race is run
I will bow down before God’s only Son
And I will lift my hands in praise for all you’ve done
And I will worship you, my faithful one.

Another year

Monday, December 01, 2008

come and gone.
I pray it was a happy one.

"Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad"
~C. Rosetti.

I smile sometimes in remembering, but if in forgetting you smile, I pray you forget. I remember.
And wish for you happiness on your day.