Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sowing Tears ~ Reaping Joy

One year ago today I came home after three months in intensive care following once-in-lifetime open-heart surgery.
God has showered his mercy upon us and brought us all home. 
His praise is on our lips.

We dream,
laughter fills our mouths,
shouts of joy are on our tongues,
we proclaim the great things God has done. 

We can look back on times of lament and recall how God pours out His mercy, and know that His mercy and steadfast love will follow us all the days of our lives. 

Lament is a song in our soul—
played in the hauntingly beautiful minor key;
the part in which we weep. 
Followed by the shouts of joy;
the dance when we rise up with praise and thanksgiving to the Lord.
The music of mercy and grace, tears and joy never ends;
keeping the rhythm of life steady, bringing us home. 

This day we pause,
sing a lament,
and praise the Lord:
we have sown in tears,
we shall reap shouts of joy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

A Light unto My Path

When you are not sure how to move forward, walk in the Light.

The Light leads to life.

Eighteen months ago, when trilliums carpeted forest floors, the heart doctor told me to stop taking hikes in the woods; my heart couldn't take the strenuous activity. It was hard news to digest. He really wasn't sure any surgeon could do what my heart needed.

By the time the trilliums had faded and children were jumping into lakes or running through splash pads, my cardiologist had put me in touch with Dr David. He was willing to take me onif tests proved my body may have a fighting chance. It was highly unlikely.

Weeks after we went through with the surgery, when the leaves had changed from green to gold and red, Dr David was making his daily rounds. He admitted, when he had me open on the operating table what he found proved that the tests did not reveal the true condition of my heart. If they had, he would not have been able to confidently proceed with surgery because of how grave my situation really was.

The Light was guiding my path all along.

For four months I was attached to oxygen and during those months I grieved that I was not able to hike in the woods.

When I arrived home after 80 days in ICU, I had strength enough to climb four stairs, one slow step after the other. The winter was so frigid, my oxygen line would freeze, but I had set a goal to get out into the great outdoors for I truly believed it would help my physical and emotional recovery. 

Putting one foot in front of the other is all you have to do to move forward. There are dips and set-back that feel like giants leap backward, but one step at a time is how you run in this race of life. 

Always looking unto Jesus; the Everlasting Light

Last week, the cardiologist said my heart should be able to handle small hikes once again. Slow and steady. One small step at a time. 

Who could have ever imagined all those many moons ago that I would take my first nature hike with my family on a first week of November—so warm that it may break records? The sun kissed our faces today and we breathed in the musty fallen leaves that now carpet the ground.

We looked high into the bare branches and low at the moss covering the rocks. We listened as the brook babbled. We slowed down and focused on the beauty all around us. We gratefully received the sheer grace of it all.

I came home weary and refreshed. Hushed. Exhilerated. Humbled.

God's mercy is ever new. His faithfulness never fails.

The Little One gives thanks at the dinner table today. She thanks God for the hike, for her family, all the things He has made—the flowers, the birds, all creation. And all these months have passed and she still mutters thanks for: "the Doctor who helped my beautiful Mom so she could take care of me. She loves me so much. Thank you for being with her in the hospital to save her life."

I whisper, Amen, humbled once again.

His Light leads me on. One step of faith at a time.

{Photography helps me stop and focus on the beauty surrounding me, to catch the light, pay attention. When I look at life through the lens, it stirs up the deeper, hidden parts of the bigger picture.
To be outdoors in a great wood, capturing my children running free under a canopy of trees, climbing old mills, and shaking trees to make leaves fall like rain was absolute grace that flows steady from the hand of God.}

Monday, November 2, 2015

Hope for Broken Hearts ~ Even When Faced with Death

My heart was broken last year and all we could do was hope and wait.

The best heart surgeon in the world broke my sternum, dug around hard cemented radiated-dead flesh to fix my heart that was ready to quit any day. He didn't know if my heart could heal from all that breaking. We could only hope and wait for the healing to come.

For weeks following surgery, I didn't have the strength to fight; I was merely existing as though buried deep already in all the dark. I would cry out: "to live is Christ and to die is gain." My desire was, "to be with Christ, for that is far better."

Then, I wanted to go back, if I could—like the Israelites had wanted to return to Egypt—and refuse the risky surgery; it was much easier to surrender to what had become familiar than to move forward. Quitting is the easy way out. In my complaining and muttering, I was giving in to easy.

Until I was pricked in my heart, convicted of how much I was grumbling about all this hard, dark life I was living in an intensive care unit, away from my children. When, all along, the Lord had provided this way through and would continue to lead me and would never leave me. I confessed, repented, and faced the dark, cold, lonely days of recovery with renewed hope, waiting on the Lord. Trusting and giving thanks in all circumstances, rejoicing that it would give others "ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again."

I was told it would all take time. But, the passing of time is slow when the days are hard and healing is long. Winter dragged on but hope never ran out. 

Spring did come as sure as new seasons always do, and I could have wept to stand helpless and watch the wild rabbits chew off all the young tulip shoots when the long winter finally gave up to warmer days. Only a few tulips had survived.

Flowers fade. Hearts break.

But, there in the darkness, through all the storms, hope is sure.

Even when life doesn't turn up the way we plan, our hope is secure in the One who died, was buried and rose again.

When the apples were red and ripe on the trees, I bought more bulbs to plant in the front garden. Time ticks on, steady. Some days now race by. I thought we were too late to put these bulbs into the ground—September marched past and October refused to stick around any longer than her set 31 days despite my longing for more.

My heart continues to heal the doctor says. The thing we waited for, hoped for, is happening.

Life is hard. Waiting, suffering, healing, yes they are all hard, but there is always hope.

So today, after we heard the results from my latest heart echo, we stirred up the soil in the front garden as the sun gently beat down on our backs like a warm embrace for early November, and we planted.

Her Daddy grabbed the tools and she took hold of the bag of tulip bulbs and buried them in the warm dirt. Fifty bright red blooms shall break through the cold dark earth when another winter melts into another spring.

My son tells me tonight during his second bedtime snack, between bites of apple, "Mom, you how I said last week that I didn't miss you that much last year when you were in the hospital? Well, I did, but I think I was able to go on because God calmed me. If every day I thought about how you could die, I don't think I could have handled it—I wouldn't have been able to eat, I would have been exhausted. But, God helped me."

There is no doubt that dark, uncertain days and hard, heart-breaking circumstances will come. Don't lose heart. Wait. Hope. 

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