Monday, August 27, 2012

He Remembers Me

Out of a whole bush of shasta daisies, one lone flower was somehow spared from the carnage of drought.  I happened to notice it out beside the carport one day because daisies are my favorite flower.  Here, everything is burned up.  Consumed by the sun's merciless, scorching summer rays.  I wondered how one still managed to thrive despite everything around it withering and dying.  There's a message in everything though, if you think about it.  Even in the flowers by the driveway.  There are metaphorical lessons to be learned just by looking a little closer at things you normally wouldn't give a second glance.

I can identify with the flowers obliterated by searing heat.  Wilted.  Dry.  Unwatered.  Forgotten.  A series of painful and unfortunate events in my life have turned everything upside down and left me stinging.  I've been reading the book "Captivated" by John and Staci Eldredge.  Interestingly enough, I came across a passage today that was like an arrow to the heart... the scene above a living picture of the words on that page.  It reads...

"A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she's loved.  We've seen this many times- you probably have too.  Cut off from love, rejected, no one pursuing her, something in a woman wilts like a flower no one waters anymore.  She withers into resignation, duty, and shame.  The radiance of her countenance goes out, as if a light has been turned off.  But this same woman, whom everyone thought was rather plain and unengaging, becomes lovely and inviting when she is pursued.  Her heart begins to come alive, come to the surface, and her countenance becomes radiant.  We wonder, 'where has she been all these years?'  Why, she is really captivating..."

This is where I've been.  I'll spare you the ugly details, but suffice it to say, there has been one setback after another, both inside and out.  I have honestly never felt more lonely in my life.  The desert has dried me up; my heart is bone dry and needing... something.  I went on to read about how the authors both experienced a personal love note from God by way of a few fantastic and breathtaking nature sightings... something they KNEW were meant just for them.

I wanted that.  I wanted to know He saw me.  That I wasn't invisible.  That all the things I've done, and the way I've secretly plugged away when I really wanted to quit and felt it didn't matter had been SEEN by Him.  Does He love me?  I mean, REALLY?  Because for the last several months, it sure hasn't felt like it.  He has been distant.  Quiet.  I needed to KNOW He was there.  I needed one of those signs.  The author did too.  And all she did, was simply ASK.  It was all I had to do too.

Maybe it was pride.  Or maybe it was anger or that tendency to revert back to survival mode (I don't need anything or anybody, I'll do it myself!) when things get to be too much that prevented me from asking.  Or maybe I didn't know how bad I wanted or needed it.  In any case, I never asked.  Well, scratch that- I have asked for things, but not from that place of deep pain and being so close to my breaking point.  But today, I realized how bad I needed that sign.  Sitting in my car on my lunch break, I teared up while reading what was really MY story.  I knew I had to ask for my OWN sign.

There is something that right now, my heart desires more than anything.  And that has simply been to find a home big enough for my kids and I.  I had in mind what the perfect place would be like.  I needed four bedrooms.  I wanted some land with it.  Few neighbors.  Out in the country.  I found such a place a few months ago, but it was for sale.  I just kept going back to that page, scrolling through the pictures, thinking how great it would be to have THIS house.  I'm not in any position to buy.  There's no way that'll happen.  I saw that it had been on the market for a good long time, so I sent a message to the realtor asking if the owner might be open to possibly renting it.  I knew it probably wouldn't happen.  That door was closed tight.  I really, REALLY wanted it.  I didn't get a reply, so I shrugged it off and moved on. 

I knew I couldn't be picky; still, I had a sense that I needed to look for that perfect place.  That I should hold out for it and not settle for less because God could definitely move the mountain and bring it.  But, would He?  I wanted that to be my sign.   There, in the parking lot, I looked up at a mess of billowing puffy white clouds.  And I squeaked...

"God, are you there?  And... do you really love me?  If you do, I really need to SEE it..." 

And that was that.  I didn't really expect an answer.  Break was over.  I collected myself and went back inside to work.  An hour and a half later, my phone rings.  It's a realtor who had been trying to help me find a place.  She calls to tell me that the four bedroom, two bath, almost 2600 square foot home she had told me about the other day that might be a possibility was now a definite YES.  She had talked the owner into renting it out because they were not able to sell it.  She told me where it was... and the blood drained from my face.

It was my dream house.  The one I didn't get a response on two months ago.

The answer was YES!  Yes, you get the home you've wanted so desperately.  And YES, Jen... I love you.

And it only seems appropriate that this gift, from the King of Kings, sits on a gravel road in the country named, of all things, KING Rd.

Yes, there is a bushel of dead flowers in that picture up there.  But sprouting up out of the ashes next to it is new life.  It came up long after the rest of the bush had died.  It was a picture of redemption... a sign that even when hope is long gone and it seems nothing is left and nothing will change, there is still life happening.  God is still doing something.  It's not over yet.   


Thursday, January 19, 2012


This morning, I watched Trent hurriedly gather his things for his trip to Little Rock.  He had overslept, and was due to be at football practice in ten minutes.  The morning was a blur; I dropped him off, came home and answered some emails, and started to tidy up around the house.  I noticed that he left his football behind.  I stopped and stared at it for a minute.  He wants to be a football star.  He wants to be the boy that runs in the game winning touchdown.  I smile when I think about his aspirations.  Then reality sinks in.

When he tears down the field and makes that score... there will be no daddy in the stands cheering.  When Justin walks across the stage to collect his high school diploma, there will be no daddy in the audience applauding.  Lauren looks for the shining example of what a husband should be... she doesn't find it here.  Brendan searches for what it means and looks like to be a man, and for guidance and encouragement that only another male can provide... and it isn't here.  What they did have, is now living a whole state away, having traded the sacred for the profane.  Chasing other loves, leaving an empty seat in the stands, and holes in many bewildered little hearts.

I weep bitter, painful tears over this.  My heart is in pieces, and adding insult to injury, he calls me from her phone, unapologetic for the pain he's caused and the mess he left behind.  The devil uses these opportunities to point out all the places I failed, and all the wrong avenues that brought me to this place.  He beats me mercilessly with my own inadequacy and inferiority.  Abandonment leaves a cruel and wretched scar.  It threatens to skew my perception of all men.  I have never had a healthy relationship with one.  There has always been neglect, abuse, infidelity, absence, plenty of opportunities to be devalued, and... pain.

It's unbearable at times to watch happy couples in action.  It's hard to watch fathers lovingly scoop up their children and faithfully honor and serve their mothers.  Why God, do so many others get to live this way while we remain on the outside looking in on it?  We carry on, happy for others who are blessed and cherished but oh, the ache over our own lack is so great.  There is a constant reckoning with conflicting emotions; a desire to rejoice for those who are happy and secure, yet a sorrow for our own missing piece.  I look back and wonder how things could have gotten so out of control.  I wrestle.  I cry.  I try to stand ten feet tall when I only feel about two inches tall.  I wonder if anyone can see through me.  I'm not a great pretender.

Life goes on.  It doesn't stop for pain or mourning.  There are still bills to pay, kids to drive, and clothes to be washed.  Sometimes, I want to stop and just grieve for a moment.  Something has been lost here.  And occasionally, the reality of it hits me.  Today is just one of those days.

But there is a comfort.  Even in the midst of pain and abandonment, there is a hope, and a peace.  Because I know that seat in the stands isn't really empty.  I'm reminded that there is a perfect Father sitting in it, watching and cheering as Trent scores the game winning touchdown.  Applauding Justin as he walks across the stage to receive his diploma.  Showing Lauren what a true and proper husband is.  Leading and encouraging Brendan to seek his destiny, and be the man He created him to be.  Though we tarry here in suffering for a time, living from blessing to blessing, it's only for a moment; redemption is coming.  We cling to this truth rather than despair.  We are living without an earthly father, though not a Heavenly one.  And He is anticipating Trent's first touchdown just as much as I am.

Sorrow may last for a time, but joy comes in the morning... -Psalm 30:5