Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Beauty of Brokenness

I have a friend who is struggling with infertility right now.  I have many friends who have been sexually assaulted.  Friends who have husbands who don't love them...or wives that won't respect them.  I have friends who have gone to the dark places of depression, and those who have been financially devastated to the point of bankruptcy.  I have seen the heartbreak of the parent whose child has gone astray...or has exited this life.  I have shared in those journeys and have walked my own.

And in each case, we ask--at some point--why?  And while God's purposes are myriad and only partly fathomable, I think we can answer for certain this painful question with this one word:


We come to Christ seeking life.  He says, to live you must die.  

We come to Christ seeking wholeness.  He says, to be whole, you must be broken.

And He, our example and High Priest, isn't asking us 'to go where no one has gone before.'  He Himself has has faced every temptation and tasted every sorrow.  He Himself was broken.  We sing, "I have decided to follow Jesus," but will we follow Him here?

We start proud; it is our very nature.  But it is in brokenness that we find healing and hope.  It is in brokenness that we truly worship.  It is in brokenness that we find God.  David understood this:  "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart,  O God, you will not despise."

So the sorrows come not for our destruction, but for our healing.  We will not naturally or of our own accord struggle and suffer to the depths necessary to become the people we need to be.  But God, in his great grace, walks us through the struggles to the place of our redemption.  And in that place, we are healed and God is glorified.

It's a beautiful story, but it is one only written in sorrow.  In suffering.  In blood.  This is where we bear our cross.  This is how we die to self.  And in the end, the story is declared in Glory...and is to the praise of His glorious grace.

So ask the question, but know now that at least part of the answer is this:  The pain is producing beauty, and the path to beauty is brokenness.  

Longing for beauty,


"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."  -Jesus, Matthew 5

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.  Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 

We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 

By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  And who can speak of his descendants?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.

He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. 

Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer...
 --Isaiah, prophesying of Jesus

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Day for Emotions

Wow. What a day! My best friend swore into the U.S. Coast Guard Reserves! She will be 'always ready' to "protect the maritime economy and the environment, defend our maritime borders, and save those in peril!" This is the conclusion of a several year process, and it is beautiful. I was so honored to be there.

THEN, my baby sister gave birth to my newest nephew! Such joy! Another conclusion to a long process, and in both cases, God made Himself beautiful.

More later, but a great day. :-)


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Coffee-Induced Revelations

I slugged down my first cup of coffee this morning. Zip! Gone! And as I looked up from the bottom of that now empty cup, I looked out into the room.

And then...three, two, vision cleared! I hadn't even know that it was blurred. The steam from my coffee had fogged my glassed just a bit, and I didn't notice, until it evaporated.

And I thought:

This is what heaven will be like.

Paul said, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."

Things **aren't** clear from this earthly perspective. This is why Jesus asks us to come to Him for perspective-adjustments (aka, prayer).

But someday...*POOF*...clarity will come! And oh the joy of that moment!

And so, I remind myself of this: Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

I must be purifying myself in the now. But someday--when He appears--no more coffee-fog! That's worth looking forward to!

And even, preparing for.

Working on the purifying,

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. --I John 3:2

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Chagrined, but then again...

The immodest torrent of emotion I expressed here on Mother's Day has left me feeling chagrined, ashamed.

I truly did, as I said I would, ..."[put] today to bed, and I will not enter this week burdened by these emotions."  It's just that you couldn't know that since I was too embarrassed to show my face 'round these here parts.

But I'm back, and for good reasons. {smile}

A friend of mine who understand this journey has set me onto a writer called Leigh McLeroy.  I finally ordered her book, The Beautiful Ache, have read one chapter, and am already thoroughly engaged.

Here's one reason why.  This is the *fourth* sentence in chapter *one*:

"The best of all journeys may be a hard road to a good place; perhaps fully experiencing the hard, unpredictable road helps us to recognize the good place when we arrive."

See what I mean?  Sentence FOUR is a humdinger, a good thought-provoker.  I like this gal.

In a comparative mood, she spends time paralleling her journey out of Houston as a hurricane (I can only assume Rita) was baring down on the city with the Israelite's journey out of Egypt.  And in the midst of her comparison, I caught this:

Three times in Exodus, God declares that His actions were designed to provoke the Egyptians to know Him as the one true God.  For He says, "...the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it. (Ex. 7:5)"  And again in chapter 14, twice He says, "The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen."

God's actions were for the Israelites.  They were for the Canaanites (who, 40 years later, would STILL be trembling over what God did in Egypt).  But they were also for the Egyptians.  And, I believe, both in judgment and in grace.

In my Western Civilization I class in college, I learned that Egypt--at this time in history, she was THE most powerful & advanced nation on earth--had a sudden shift at this point in time.  History records that there was a dramatic change for at least one generation, from pluralism (many gods, including Pharoah himself) to monotheism.  

God's actions brought to Egypt both judgment and grace, and they heard His call!

I serve a pretty amazing God.  Grace to the slaves, the sons of Abraham.  Grace to the enslavers, the Egyptians.  So much grace.

Back to The Beautiful Ache.  McLeroy writes this, too, which expresses my heart so well:

"Today I am painfully aware that I belong to another world--one I haven't seen and can only imagine.  I live en route, in between.  And as much as I dream of heaven, I love this life on earth. ... Because I believe that more exists, this life is my exodus, not my end. ... But thankfully, on the way to The Good, The True, and The Beautiful, we encounter the good, the true, and the beautiful. ...  The challenge is to live in the 'now,' fully engaged by its conflicts--and to long just as expectantly for that non-yet arrived day when we will finally, breathlessly, completely arrive."

Truly, our hearts know what our minds forget: We are not home yet.

En route,


Since you call on a Father who judges each man's work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.  For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. --I Peter 1:17-19, NIV

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Weeping for a Night (Psalm 30)

Today has been hard.

I hate that today has been hard.

Today has been REALLY hard.

I really hate that.

I feel weak and wussie (sp?) and lame.

But it doesn't change the fact the today--Mother's Day, the day after my dear friend got married--has been hard.

Sometimes it is for me, and sometimes it isn't. And was filled with ache and tears and regret.

And wishing that none of these things were true of me.

Every conversation, by phone or in person, every Facebook post, every email has required great emotional preparation and stamina.

I hate that, too.

I want to apologize. To you. To God. But I'm not sure I've done wrong, nor that I could do differently.

I'm not ungrateful. I'm VERY grateful. And I'm generally full of hope and joie de vivre.

But somehow, today, I'm just overwhelmed with emotion. Longing. Longing not to long. Wondering what I'm actually longing for. Truly unclear on what I would actually want. Wishing it would all go away.

So many tears. So many stupid tears.

I'm putting today to bed, and I will not enter this week burdened by these emotions. But, O God, could you sort out/clear out my heart? I'm ready to be done. My heart is yours...for whatever is to the praise of your glorious grace.

Tears and all.


I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. O Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with Him is full redemption. --Psalm 130:5-7, NIV

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. --Psalm 27:13, NIV