Of all the things I miss…

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Did I Google search Are Blogs still revelvent in 2021?

Absolutely I did because who even knows anymore if people read blogs. I had to wonder if somewhere between Instagram stories, Tik-Toc , and Podcast was there still space for written thoughts. According to Google there is so here I am, so randomly on Easter Sunday morning of 2021 about to just pour out my thoughts after a year or more of silence.

In my late teens early 20’s I attended a church that did sunrise services on Easter Sunday. The church would find an outside venue that would allow them to set up and lead a service at Sunrise (hence the name) on that Sunday, and it was magical for me. Even now as I type this I can feel the emotion in my heart as the memory of those times play back within me. There was something about that time of worship in the morning. Standing outside surrounded by creation as the immenseness of the sun slowly rose into the endless sky. I felt a connection there with the Lord that wasn’t something I experienced every church service, as if the closeness of him was magnified in that outside space. And I miss it.

Easter changed for me after Katie Grace was born. My understanding of what actually went into the death and resurrection of Christ was completely rearranged.

We were six months into that first year of her life. We were slowly…oh so slowly….learning her and her needs. Issac randomly had a date with his Grammie that morning, and Katie Grace decided to take in impromptu morning nap. The demand of always having to have a watchful eye on her due to breathing complications while she was awake, made nap times pure gold in our home. Apparently a different part of her brain functioned in sleep and her breathing wasn’t nearly has high risk. It had been a few days since I had had a moment or a shower so I decided to kill two birds with one stone. It took five minutes of standing in that shower with the hot water descending over my exhausted body before the dam of emotion broke. With my eyes closed, letting the tears blend into the water, I simply said:

“I can’t do this Lord. How am I going to do this? Do you even understand how hard this is? That sweet baby is going to die so much earlier then I will ever be ready for. I am going to have to love her unto death! Do you even know how hard that is? How hard it is to stand here and watch her struggle? She is going to spend her life with pain I can not ease and then die….do you even understand how hard this is?”

It seemed a lot longer then it probably actually was before through my sobs and the water I heard a still and quiet “Yes, I do.” Jesus’s life then played out before me, every story I ever read about his life and death became a picture in my mind, every sermon I heard preached about his suffering and his strength became the soundtrack, and the last line being:  “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” John 5:19.

And I understood in a way I had never understood before.

Easter has always been about Jesus, his suffering, his death, his resurrection yet in that moment… in that conversation I accepted a deeper understanding. It wasn’t only just about Jesus…. it was about the Father. Jesus’s path undo death, his journey with suffering and the faith in resurrection wasn’t paved by him, instead it was sacred ground that God the Father had laid way before Jesus was born and walked the earthly ground. I knew in that moment as I walked the suffering that was going to be my daughters life, there was no ground God the Father couldn’t meet me on. Yes he knew what it was like to suffer with your child, yes he knew what it was like to make hard choices that cost you everything, and yes he knew what walking them into death was going to be like. He knew because He already had done it.

I felt so little standing in that shower. The weight of the vastness of God was far beyond what my humanity could understand and I felt so little. My value for what Jesus did for us in joining with humanity grew because I understood what the Father did first. I wonder if the greatness of love isn’t connected deep into suffering. We can’t have one without the other. Maybe suffering is what give us the capacity to understand the depths to which love can go. I don’t know….I do know that God the Father suffered first in the all the things we thank Jesus for on Easter Sunday. And because of that, the wildness and hugeness of God’s love is beyond what we can understand.

That was the magic of Sunrise Service for me. We weren’t confined by the walls of a church or the rules of Christian etiquette. We were just a collection of people surrounded by the gigantic beauty of nature. We started singing in darkness and ended blinded by the sun, unable to deny the beauty of nature. Unable to deny how broad the shoulders of love God the Father has because we were standing on them, in that moment, in that sunrise. I didn’t know it then what it was. I didn’t understand how unbelievably deep, wide, and unrelenting love was. I had no idea in my youth where that love would go…how far it would take me… how trustworthy it was… how substantial and immense it was. I just knew standing there, arms raised high, it was magic.

This Easter, I don’t have a Sunrise Service but I have the vastness of love. I have the remembrance of what love does, what it gives. In our world today, with all the questioning, all the fighting, all the madness really… I have what I know to be the truest and most trustworthy guide. I have love and the suffering that it took to receive it.

Brittle Whispers

Charles and I attended church this morning. We have found this church that is literally 5 minutes from our house, and it’s wonderful. We were worshipping and the worship crew was leading us in “One Thing Remains,” by Jesus Culture. The room was filled with voices singing out:

Your love never fails, it never gives up
It never runs out on me

As my voice sang out blending in with the ones around me, something switched in my heart. It was as if my heartbeat pounded so hard that it awoke a revelation within; and I realized I wasn’t singing out of belief of who God is. I was singing out of a knowing of who God is. My words were no longer simple beliefs that I hoped He would prove true instead they were steadfast facts birthed out of experiences where He proved himself to be true.

My memory quickly took me back to the days when Katie Grace was born and my heart was reeling with the understanding of what life was going to be, and how painful it quite possibly was going to be. I remembered the word curse spoke over Charles and I. The one that said if we ever left this family we served, we would have children of unsound minds and unsound bodies. I remember how lost I felt. How hopeless it all seemed. How confused my heart was as to how we were in the place we were in. I also remember the decision we made to not be mad at God. Bill Johnson, our church’s pastor at the time,  would commonly say while teaching, God is in a good mood. Charles and I decided we were going to believe that. Despite our circumstance, God is a good mood, and those who are in a good mood, they don’t do mean things. Such a simple decision we made. My heart was not leaning on facts or a huge list of experiences. It was a decision I made with my mind, and I would whisper to my heart, “God is in a good mood”, “He doesn’t do mean things to his kids”. “I am not being punished”. “My daughter and whatever life she has is not a punishment”. That was all I had, those whispers. They were not your normal I don’t want anybody to hear because they seem ridiculous whispers. Instead they were those I don’t want anyone to hear because I can barely believe myself and this belief is so brittle that I have to guard it with my whispers. Everyday was a decision about what I would believe. What I didn’t know at that time was that God was taking me up on my belief. He was holding my whispers with all the tenderness that his love carries, and stepping into my belief. The stories of where He proved himself on my journey with Katie Grace are countless. I guess if you read through my blog, you will find the stories there. Stories about the moments when heaven touched earth through my daughter and life was better. Those moments came because I offered the Lord a brittle belief and He proved himself. Luke 17:6 says:

“He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”

This is also true for the matters of our hearts. My frail and shatterable belief that God is in a good mood was my mustard seed. Through my quiet whispers and his tender hands, it was planted deep in my heart and as we journeyed together, He showed up. He showed up in her smile, in her laugh, in her pain, and in the opportunity to love her until death. I also showed up. I invited him into the pain, because believing He is good meant that I could trust him with the hurt. It was true, I could. He loved me, showed me where I had faulty beliefs, lead me to truth, and it matured me in him. My heart is a garden of words that I use to help shape life around me, and together he and I planted a fragile belief and together we grew a sustainable knowledge fertilized in the soil of experience where His goodness and his unfailing love proved true.

Today as I stood in that church joining with fellow believers, my words were changed. They were no long quiet brittle whispers, they were instead healthy shouts of praise, strong in their declaration, proven in experience and isn’t that point of this all. This journey with the Lord, to become more than when we started. That as we walk with him, and allow Him deeper and deeper into our hearts and life, that our beliefs about who he is change. That we open ourselves up so much, even with brittle mustard seed like belief, that He is allowed to prove himself. To give us experiences that flips that switch in our heart so our words were no longer beliefs we hope He would prove true but instead they are facts birthed out of experiences where He proved himself to be true.

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