“‘I thought I was supposed to figure out if I could forgive you or not, but now I’m thinking you didn’t do anything to me that I need to forgive…If we stay together, I’ll have to forgive you over and over again, and if you’re still in this, you’ll have to forgive me over and over again too,’ I say. ‘So forgiveness isn’t the point. What I really should have been trying to figure out is whether we’re still good for each other or not.’”
“‘You always insisted that I was…I don’t know, whole.’ I cover his hand with my own. ‘Well, you are.’ ‘No one has ever told me that before,’ he says softly. ‘It’s what you deserve to hear,’ I say firmly, my eyes going cloudy with tears. ‘That you’re whole, that you’re worth loving, that you’re the best person I’ve ever known.’”
“That is how it feels. Like everything between us is twisted together, friendship and love and family, so I can’t tell the difference between any of them.”
“I fell in love with him. But I don’t just stay with him by default as if there’s no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.”
Yesterday as I was getting ready to leave for the airport in Haiti to fly home, Derek took a sharpie and doodled a vine on my ankle and wrote “I am the branch”. I must have looked confused but he said “yes, that is a vine, but you are not the vine, you are the branch” (sometimes I’m a little slow). Last Monday, after a long (I would add “hot” to that description, but everyday in Haiti is hot, so I don’t want to be too redundant) day working in the mobile clinic room where we sorted and organized medicines and medical supplies, the medical team had a devotion time. One of the main verses in the devotion was John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.". I didn’t realize on Monday, or even on Saturday when Derek absentmindedly doodled on my leg, that this verse had been the theme of my whole trip. The first few days I spend at Mission of Hope I did things on my own, in my own strength and for my own reasons. On Wednesday I realized that I hadn’t invited the Holy Spirit to lead me. I was busy doing things - good things, exciting things, helpful things - but my heart felt an emptiness that I know all too well. My heart felt the emptiness of a Mary Alice centered life. I prayed over and over starting that night “fill me up God, fill me up God” I wanted my daily actions, even the smallest of them, to be out of the overflow of his Spirit pouring into me. And even though I doubt any of my actions looked any different, they sure felt different. On Wednesday when I fed malnourished children with red hair our left over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I felt a sense of pride for what I was doing. But on Thursday when I did the same exact thing, I felt a sense of humility and gratitude for being able to be the hands of God as he took care of his hungry little children. Thank you, Father, for speaking truth into my life through a time of devotion with the medical team and for a sharpie tattoo from Derek. Thank you for being the vine that pours its life and nutrients into this little branch.
1“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
I have a confession to make. With Derek gone to Haiti for the past almost 5 weeks, I have put zero real effort into my walk with God. Ive been mad. More correctly, I’ve been pouting. To show God that I am not happy that he took my boyfriend away for three months, I’ve been giving Him the silent treatment. Read my bible? No thanks. Really spend time in prayer? Eh, maybe tomorrow. Make an actual effort to get involved? I’d rather sit in my room and sew while I watch reruns of Boy Meets World, thank you very much! What’s worse is I haven’t felt bad about it. I’ve been doing my thing my way and that should show God that I need to go on the next trip too, right? Well it turns out that I serve a God who knows when I am in a funk and doesn’t let me stay there. Turns out, I serve a God who doesn’t give up on me just because I am pouting like a 5 year old. Turns out, I serve a God who loves my stubborn, immature little heart and continues to pursue me even when I ball up my fist and stomp my feet because I am unhappy with where I am at.
You see, over the past 5 week s I have made zero effort to seek out opportunities. I have, however, simply started saying "yes" these past 5 weeks (mainly because just sitting at my house with my dog got a little boring, I might add). So when tragedy struck the family of a dear friend of mine and someone asked if I would attend the funeral that 9 month old precious baby girl, I said yes. I went, and though we all grieved, I was blessed beyond measure by the celebration of the short life of Baby Bella. When another friend was exhausted by newborn twins and my mother said “are you going to see them?” I said yes and by going I learned how to give baths to tiny babies and was able to watch them while my friend was able to shower and get some homework for gradschool completed. When my next door neighbor knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to ride horses with her, I once again said yes and learned I love the smell of saddles and felt at ease in a barn and out riding. I said “yes” to painting faces for close to 4 hours, I said yes to attending a Mary Kay party, I said yes to meeting with the Mary Kay sales director and for some crazy reason I also said yes to selling Mary Kay products. I said yes to movies, I said yes to cookouts, I said yes to new foods, I said yes to trivia nights, I said yes to going to the opening of a friend’s new coffee shop and I said yes to taking Jazzercise classes. I have been blessed beyond measure by simply saying yes to to opportunities, new experiences and relationships God has put in front of me. God knows my heart and He knows how to bring me back. Even when I think I am so far from Him, He knows exactly where I am what what I need. I laugh to think that for weeks I have been proud of myself saying “I’ll show Him!” while all along He has been saying “I can not wait to show her what I have in store”. So I finally opened my bible and this is what I found:
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Today is the first time I’ve really cried. Big ugly tears, shoulder and chest racked with sobs, even dry heaving from my everything within my body feeling such raw emotion. Yes I miss Derek, but that was not the emotion I was feeling. Anger. Anger is what I was feeling. You see, the sermon series at church is on “BIG faith”. Every week they talk about “leaping”. And it infuriates me because I want to leap. I’ve been begging God for months (if not years) to show me where to leap. To give me even the slightest Okay and I would be gone. I’ve watched my best friend go off on a journey of 11 countries and almost a year’s worth of time to serve wherever possible. I’ve watched as Derek has headed to Haiti for 3 months. I’ve watched as they have sold vehicles, possessions and quit their jobs to follow where the Lord leads. And I’ve been begging. Father, please give me even the slightest inkling and I will sell my car. I will quit my job. I will go. Please let me go. And he says to me over and over again stay. Stay where I have put you. Stay at your job. Honor your contract. Keep your car because I picked it especially for you. It hurts to stay. I want to leap. But I will obey. And I will trust. I will stretch and grow my faith so that it will be big enough to believe that God is good and what he says is true. I will trust that things will be okay here as I stay, and that it won’t always hurt so bad. I will have big faith, even if God hasn’t asked me to leap.
[“Where are we going?” She asked.
“Follow me and you will see” He replied.
She closed her eyes as she placed her hand in His and felt the warmth of the sunlight on her face. After all, He had never led her astray before, so what better time to trust than now?]
I wrote this back in 2008 when God was leading me to leave Florida after 16 years to move to Kentucky. And now I am reminded of it as He asks me to trust again. Only this time He is holding my hand as I have to trust where he is leading Derek. God has been more clear than I have ever heard in the fact that Derek needs to go to Haiti for 3 months to do medical mission work. He has Also been clear in the fact that I need to remain here and not be a part of this adventure. The only way to see where this path leads is to trust and to follow, so just like 5 years ago, I find myself saying “what better time to trust than now?
"you are not the light of my life. making you happy isn’t my greatest dream. your smile isn’t all i live for. I’ve got my own stuff going on. But you’re strange and fascinating and I’ve never met anyone like you. I want to give you everything. Just to see what you would do with it”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13
Rest, Lord, I need your rest. How beautiful and tantalizing is the thought of being filled with all joy and peace? Of overflowing with hope as I trust in you? I don’t want to be weary any longer. Please bring your renewed sunshine and hope into my life.
It’s been almost three weeks since Buttons passed away and I miss him so much. Life just isn’t the same without my little Wiener Pig always underfoot and snuggling in my lap.
"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." -Revelation 21:4
I know there is a lot of debate about animals in heaven, but I find it hard to believe my Father would prepare a place for me that didn’t have my Buttons Boy.
"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24
Some days are absolutely perfect. For me, today was one of those days. I just wanted to dance and sing (actually, I did dance and sing) as I remembered this verse and thanked the Lord as I rejoiced in this perfect day that he made. But then I wondered about tomorrow. Would tomorrow be another perfect day? Or would it feel more like yesterday (which was not bad but not what I would consider “perfect”) did? And if tomorrow is more like yesterday than today (are you confused yet?) will I still dance and sing and praise the Lord for it? And if tomorrow is horrible, what will I do then? Probably whine, cry and wallow - no rejoicing there. But from this day onward, I want to rejoice and be glad no matter what the circumstances, because every day is a perfect gift from the Lord.
Page 1 of 7