Thursday, October 25, 2012

Warning: Heavy Hearted Words Below

I was never really "Daddy's little girl", but my Dad was a presence of peace, stability, and love to me.   He had large hands and broad shoulders that could hold the world up off of our heads if he needed to. 

 One day my mother called me to say that my Dad had cancer; terminal and fierce....One year later, he passed away quietly surrounded by a group of family and friends, my Mom laboring with him as if she could help him continue to breath.   The process of his illness and death was one of the most excruciating events of all of my experiences.  I grieved  the change from having a well parent to an ill parent, and for our past together ( my childhood).  I grieved at his decline, and grieved again with finality over his death.   I touched his massive hands that last day a dozen times and tried to soak in the lines of his face.  How could I live now, a happy life with this...this tragedy It felt so wrong. I cried for a long time.  But, I rarely cry any more
Why don't I cry anymore?

I know it may be obvious, but I try not to remember, or look at his pictures except on a glance, and when I speak of him, I don't think deeply.  I leave the tapes of his voice in the drawer and the videos in their cases.  And maybe I have sort of compartmentalized my feelings about this and tucked them away-- don't we all? It is a great arrangement that probably most people have going on who have lost in life deeply, and it is a way to carry on.  Without it, I would still be crying.  I hide from my grief.  I hide.

These days are for letting some grief in.

Over the weekend my mom-in-law had a garage sale.  She picked up one of the books on her sale table that someone had donated   and handed it to me.  It was called "Saving Zimbabwe".  She said, "You like Africa, why don't you keep this one for yourself?" 337 pages later, the shadows of grief came and lingered.  For a couple of days I peered into the lives of people who were just like me; living out the story that God had given them, regular folks hoping to follow God's will. They were Zimbabweans mostly, both black and white living in a community that loved and cared for one another in the purest ways.  They extended their love into their community and to their country.  The essence of the story was just like yours and mine, but in their story was great opposition to their love and faith and in the end, a terrible, ugly, tragedy occurred......they were each martyred together men, women, children, and infants, for their acts of love and service.  On a day that I was probably headed off to classes or to work as a 19 year old, they were laying down their lives to men who hated them and all that HE, the Almighty, had put in their hearts to give.

Unexpected reality check. 

Out of summer emerges autumn and from autumn creeps the cold of winter, and this is a season to let some grief in and to allow some tears to flow, pausing from assuring myself of how safe I am, how good my life can be, how bright my future is, and how sure the love around me remains.  It is simplistic but true to say that "not everyone enjoys this reality", and it is also a grievous reality that I haven't always seen this, or cared.  

Reality is that for all of the happy and safe people on earth, there are also people that hurt because of family disputes,  job losses, sickness, old age, old wounds, failures, loneliness---- people starving, loosing hope and homes, loosing parents, dignity, loosing lives. And I may just need to cry for a long while and soak in the comfort of forgiveness for my closed eyes.........because these realities are not's only my "seeing" with compassion that is.

 After the martyrs were taken it was told that a great light shown down from the night sky and illuminated the scene, infuriating and frightening the murderers, lost and full hate.  HIS love will always light up the darkness and in HIS presence is fullness of joy (Psalms 16:11).   And grief is not the end...maybe it is the beginning of something more beautiful.  

(please overlook the bold and light letters in the post.  I didn't seem to have control as to this function as something seemed a bit haywire in that way with my blog server)




Friday, October 19, 2012


Donald Miller said that the seasons remind that we must keep changing; that that is God's way.

 I immersed in a few of his books in 2010.......I remember always sighing as I read,  feeling  a longing to soak fully in the words on the pages and the ideas. 
 He says that life is a living cast with a billion beautiful characters and it's almost over for you and for me.  He continues saying that it doesn't matter how old you are; it is coming to a close quickly....your roll in this script. Soon the credits will roll and all of your friends will fold out of your funeral and drive to their homes in cold and still silence.  That sounds a bit morose, but when I read it the first time, it was sort of riveting because I, of course, was and am still living, playing my part and the words lead me to think about my life and the limited lines that are mine to give.

I have a limited amount of lines.

  I have a limited amount of, "I love you's" and "How can I help you's" and "I'm sorry's".  I can only smile a limited amount of smiles and bandage a few boo-boos, help resolve a few more disputes, pray prayers, fall to sleep a few more times.  It is all limited by the amount of already decided days that I will occupy within my human frame and it is yet moving along all around me, even  as I type the play moves on.

 It's moving along like a slow moving stream........

 We were on a short vacation just before school was to begin that year in 2010 and as I sat near a slow moving creek where our boys were fishing, I read Donald Miller and I wrote a note to myself.  I encouraged myself to try and live "present" try and live engaged and present and on purpose for all of my days.  "Keep trying, Rhonda......keep working to be more patient, more supportive, more helpful, more nurturing....more alive and more here.....try, try.  And try not to take for granted; try to be present in your precious moments." 

It is two years since and now summer has changed to autumn and I felt it so clearly, maybe because I was changing too.....  like the seasons; by the hand of the King, falling backwards into the languid stream of  amazing grace, only being carried by it, not by my mad rowing....not my trying at all.
 Changing not by trying, but by yielding like the season, to the author's hand of change.  Not growing up, taking hold, figuring it all out, and working so hard, but by letting loose, becoming more like a child, more dependent, more willing.  

The seasons remind that we must keep changing, he says.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Expectations vs. Expecting His Goodness

Life’s biggest kill joy is expectations.”-- Ann Voskamp

I wrote to my friend today lamenting my inability to do anything to move forward with plans and dreams around here.  Not my own plans, not my own dreams, but dreams I attribute to the Dream Maker, that perfect Dream Giver.  I told of how vulnerable I feel, how crazy I will seem to me if my dreams sit in limbo, only sharing the space in my heart with my doubts  and never making their sweet appearance into light.

I told her I was "adjusting my expectations".  And now a few hours later I'm still wrestling with my  heart, wrestling  like some giant crock slid in, grabbed hold and started a death spinning round his twisting.  I suppose it's o.k. to let them die; the expectations that is, those that say that  my journey should look like your journey, hers, or so many others that I see.  It is so very easy to set my eyes on others- to derive my expectations out of  the way that their story goes and of their God-tales, forgetting that the most awesome,  joyous life  that we each can live is the one that is uniquely ours.

I must wrestle out this truth from the rest and hang on to it;  I can expect that all of His plans for me and you are good no matter how long you wait, no matter how unsure you become.   And trials are not the equal of failure and even failures are used for our good in His great kingdom. 

 There is just so much of "me" still living inside this human frame. So much spiritual muscle that needs developing.

Many times life’s biggest kill joy is expectations---true, true
Until we turn our expectations toward His good heart and always believe in it....even if we must wrestle through to believe.  

These verses came my way  yesterday and then again this morning on a facebook post.  This is real life business.  How to stand your ground.

13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.