Summer has kicked off with sizzling 100+ temperatures. When asked what my plans are for the summer, my first thought is enjoy the A/C!!! This is the first summer since childhood that I get to enjoy adequate cooling for my house. I am SOOO enjoying my new home--for many other reasons than just the A/C. But I have to admit, the A/C makes the summer heat stretching before us much less intimidating!...
My summer is filled primarily with writing and helping to organize our annual Stop the Violence event. My work doesn't really seem like "work" in that dreaded sense--I'm looking forward to every moment! Writing is cathartic for me and helps me to face and think through the issues of life that I would otherwise avoid. And though I sometimes struggle through the process, I am changed by it.
"Stop the Violence" is so much more than just an event for me. It's inhabits hope, possibility, and healing for myself and for so many others. I love seeing the entire community and even beyond--individuals, businesses, churches, and non-profit organizations--come together to take a stand against violence. I love hearing the stories and meeting people who are overcoming the paralyzing and traumatic effects of violence and witnessing their growth and healing. And if I ever wonder if we are spitting against the wind in this effort, I meet one after another of those inspiring people who move from being victims to being survivors but don't stop there. They march that next mile as they turn their tragic past circumstances around by stepping up and speaking out to end violence and to make a difference for themselves, for others, and even for future generations. That's the greatest reward in letting my work be my passion.
Although these two great passions consume much of my summer, I still plan on taking time to rejuvenate and take life with joy. It's odd that what I look forward to the most is watching my children stretch their wings and fly...even though it means they get further and further from my nest. I will watch with anticipation as my daughter blossoms in her pregnancy--I am excited and overjoyed at becoming a G-MOM!!! As this little one grows inside her, I can also see Brittany making a life with the man that I know God placed in her life at just the right moment to step in shoes left vacant too soon as they turn the page and begin this next chapter of life. Her dad would have no reservations placing the reins in Larry's hands. Brittany is growing from the inside out--heart-wise, not just belly-wise!
Andy and Megan are already busy making their March wedding plans (what a wedding that will be!) But even more exciting, they are making their life plans. Andy will be seeking a teaching position in the Waco area as Megan prepares for law school. Although a part of me dreads seeing him leave, my heart knows that Andy has been preparing for this next chapter of his life for a very long time. I can't wait to see what God will do in him and through him.
Mikey and Kaci are already beginning to make his childhood home their very own. And I look forward to the changes and growth that will take place in the process. Their new chapter reads like a faithful novel of endurance. Zachary will be coming to Texas to visit and making plans for life outside the Marines next fall. I love to hear his excitement as he anticipates this brand new chapter with all it's challenges and expectations. And finally, though I won't see him, I look forward to those rare precious phonecalls and facebook messages from Elias as he lives his present purpose in Afghanistan. I love watching the man he is becoming.
But life isn't all about being just a spectator. As my children make their own lives, I have to make mine as well. To be more comfortable in my own skin and enjoy life as it is rather than wish for what I think it should be or regret what it hasn't been. And I can't just be so busy that life just passes by without my noticing. I have to be actively involved in my "today" and be content in it. So I already have several gallons and colors of paint waiting to brighten my life as I make my home my own and more personal. In the process, I am going to try my hand at some Chinese painting techniques--with a couple of my own unique touches of course. I also want to take some time away from the "norm"--somewhere out of my element. I'm not quite certain how or where but I want to to be wowed by life and nature and God in extraordinary ways...
The summer stretches before us. Colors of love, laughter, contentment, creativity, rejuvenation, expectation, and "neverbefores"--seeing the magnificence of life and being touched by it.... All in a single summer! It's gonna be great!
My life has been a journey full of twists & turns, highs & lows. Honestly, I'm not sure I could really define where I'm headed. But one thing I'm learning, the journey isn't all about the final destination but more about how we travel. And fulfillment is found in all that we learn & experience as we journey, not just getting to the end of it. I can't even imagine making mine without Christ before me, behind me, and beside me...
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Habakkuk by name means "wrestle or embrace." He lived up to his name and how he wrestled! He asked all those questions we are often too afraid to ask. Why is there so much evil in the world? Why does violence always seem to win? Why cancer? Why do good people suffer and die and evil men live and prosper? Why doesn't the pain go away? Why? Why? WHY? But no answers come...not such that mends broken hearts and restores what has been stolen...it seems.
This wrestling doesn't even come close to an embrace. To "wrestle or embrace"? It doesn't make sense--one doesn't seem to line up with the other. I can't embrace someone or something I'm fighting against--especially when so often I don't even know what that is. But then I think of my children when they were small--when, as Mom, I had to persist in those dreaded tasks a mother has to do for the sake of her children...you know, pull out a sticker, give bitter medicine, hold frightened and wriggling child still while Doctor gives stitches or sets an arm, discipline when child doesn't understand, and grasp angry flailing fists to keep him from hurting self or someone else. In turn, each one of my children wrestled against me--against what was best because,in the moment, that which they fought against--the medicine,the cure, the discipline--was too painful, too distasteful, or too confining. How many times did I hear those words that almost every parent hears? The same words Habakkuk cried out to God, "WHY? IT'S NOT FAIR!"
Even though they couldn't see or understand that I was doing what was best for them, they would fight me with all they had. Being Mom and just as stubborn, I had to persevere till the task was finished. Medicine down, stitches sewn, sticker removed, even anger and vengeance abated while we wrestled and in so doing, I kept them safe. Finally, all energy spent, my little beloved one would cease his or her struggle and cling to me in need of comfort and solace. Why? Because when all was said and done, they knew that I loved them--loved them so much that I wouldn't let them go. So much that I would do whatever it takes to protect and care for them--no matter how much they fought. And in that moment, time stood still for the sweetest parent-child embrace--love endured through the wrestling.
How often I am that child wrestling against my Father and all that is-- even against the good He has for me. Why? Because in the pain and confusion of the moment, it seems that evil wins..that the odds are stacked against me and all that should be good loses. Divorce, estrangement, violence, death, loneliness, confusion, endless pain, bone-crushing weariness, and downright rebellion... Why fight the inevitable? The bigger question: Who or what am I fighting against? The world, God, evil, or myself?
Sometimes I think I fight and wrestle because I'm simply afraid to live the life I've been given. I avoid or put off what I can do because I'm even afraid of success...of what comes next. So I fill up empty time and space with empty-minded efforts and wasted energy rather than wholeheartedly pursuing God's perfect will and purpose. Not because I want to be disobedient but because I'm afraid to fail...Maybe you can relate?
But then there are those moments in the middle of all the questions. In the darkest of night, I remember what He has brought me through.
"I have heard all about You, Lord. I am filled with awe by Your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as You did in years gone by. And in Your anger, remember Your mercy." - Habakkuk 3:2
Even though I don't yet know who I am, I remember who HE is. Even though my world crumbles and I lose all that this life offers, I will endure... Even though I can't hear Him, see Him, feel Him, or touch Him, I remember what He has already done and somehow I know that He is still here. I can't see what He is doing or even imagine what He WILL do, but I know that God is--simply that He IS. And like Habakkuk, I cry out to God and I know that His "presence silences every lie." My wrestling soon fades into this Abba-Child embrace as I am wrapped in the arms of my Father... I am amazed.
"I will wait quietly for the coming day. . . Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty,
YET I WILL REJOICE IN THE LORD!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign Lord is my Strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights." - Habakkuk 3:17-19