Thursday, September 22, 2011

Another H-less Sara, My Joyful Teacher

I can't remember how I found her, another Sara who spells her name right and is the same age as me. It was probably following some link on the (in)courage site. But something she said caught my attention and I hopped over to her blog and began reading. Pretty soon, I found myself coming back every day, eager to learn from a Sara who can see joy even in the midst of pain. When I am stuck in my melancholy and can't seem to find any light, simply going over to her blog and reading what God has been growing in her heart serves to help me take a deep breath and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

The irony of that doesn't escape me. My teacher can't walk anymore. She can't take a deep breath. And yet, that is exactly what her words helped me do each and every time I visited and soaked up her thoughts. And she's flying Home sometime very soon. This past year I noticed changes, like how she moved her bedroom out to her living room. But she explained it all with such joy, such gratitude, such hope, that I ignored the fact that it might mean my teacher was getting sicker. But she was. And all of her words are now written. Until I get to meet her in person on the other side of eternity, her words chronicled on a beautiful blog are my textbook left to guide me.

One of the ways she is still teaching me is illustrated in one of her blog posts from this past January. Since losing our home group leader and admitting that the death of someone other than a grandparent has entered my life, I've been wrestling with a lot of fears. The biggest fear being losing my husband. The idea of living life without him is too much for me, and the fear escalates until the thoughts spiral through my head full of what-ifs. I forget what it feels like to trust that God really plans to keep His promise to never leave me or forsake me. I wonder if I ever have really trusted Him before, if I can trust Him with this most precious part of my life. Then I read what Sara writes.....

"That's when I had to stop and remember something very important.

God gives us what we need when we need it.

Not before. Not after. But during.

Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
~Hebrews 4:16

There are so many "what if" scenarios that could realistically happen to me. But I can't plan ahead and expect there to be solutions to problems I'm not currently facing. Because God gives us what we need when we need it.

In our time of need.

There has never once been a time in my life when I was faced with a problem that an answer didn't present itself in some form or another. And if God hasn't abandoned me in 37 years, I don't know why I think He would abandon me in the 37 yet to come.

So I'm quitting my chess game before I even learn how to play. I'm going to trust Him. And praise him. And go along for the ride.

I will not let fear have the power.

How about you? Do you trust Him more than your fears?"

Sara has taught me so much. God has used her to begin growing some pretty amazing things inside of me. She speaks and I can listen. I want to hear her heart, knowing that she knows what she's talking about, that she lives it for real each day and doesn't just speak it because it sounds good or wise. I want to be able to come to the end of my life and be able to say like Sara that I trust God with it all too, even my most precious part, even my biggest fears. I'm not there yet. But she's given me a good start and a clear example to follow. And as I make my list of 1,000 Gifts, Sara who can see joy even in the midst of pain is one of my gifts for whom I thank God and find a smile growing alongside the gratitude. I'm going to miss my teacher, but I sure am grateful she has left a beautiful legacy for so many of us.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Our Tears Are Precious To Him

"Whether it’s walking through a door…
or climbing over a fence…
or simply staying right where you are and taking one long moment
to pause
and gaze on the wonder of what was —
with no plan at all but to praise –
may all your wanderings this weekend, kindest friends, be one refreshing adventure of faith." ~ Ann Voskamp

Somehow I knew that little post in my email inbox had a message for me. The title, Weekends are for new seasons, beckoned to me, asking me to open it up and read. So I did. And the part about gazing on the wonder of what was with no plan at all but to praise struck my heart with enough force to burst open a dam of tears that have been waiting, longing to fall if only the right invitation would come to release them.

I could try to write a long post about what is going on in my head and heart, but the simple truth is that I miss the life I knew before December 28, 2010 when we lost a precious friend and leader in our lives. Wonder is exactly the right word. I can look back with a sense of wonder at his life and his family and our little community. They were such good gifts in that season.

In the early weeks that followed and all that happened beyond my understanding, others told me and I told myself to just wait until September to sort things out. September is here and things aren't sorted out. And really? I realize now that I hoped the "sorting out" would include having everything miraculously right itself. The dead would live. The lame would be made whole. The broken would be healed without scar. And all pain would be utterly forgotten. But that's not how it works this side of Heaven for the most part.

September is here and so is the ache in my heart. The respite of summer and the business of planting seeds and tending them was a gift. And that gift has brought me here. To September. Somehow I must find the gift in it, and have no plan at all but to praise. And even if tears come, and they are, it's okay. Because I have a Maker who catches each one and promises to one day wipe all of them forever from our eyes.