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Archive for the ‘loss’ Category

I can still remember, like it was yesterday, the day I loaded up our suburban (with the help of my parents) said goodbye to a house we had just built, my best friends, and a town I had lived in for 17 years, the place I had spent the first 10 years of my marriage and had my first two babies… a place I never really thought I would leave.. and set off down the road on a “great adventure” to Utah, a place I had only driven through, where my husband had been for the last three months, and what would be my new home.  I never expected to like it here, but I knew that I was going to give it a good shot.  I had a chance to “reinvent” myself, a new start and I wanted to make the most of it, even though my heart felt like it was going to break and I couldn’t imagine ever feeling better.

We new that we were supossed to come here.  We needed to get away and to make it on our own as a family.  Utah has been a refuge for us. After an intense time of struggle with our church back home, it was been a safe haven for us. A place to rest, refresh, and transform.  I have learned so much being out here on “my own” away from family and all I had known for 17 years.  God has changed me, molded me and refined me into a person that is much more what I should have been and want to be.  I am so thankful for the people who have come along side me here.  Who have been my family for the last two years and who have allowed me to be who God wants me to be… so it is with much sadness (two years ago I never would have believed I would say this) I say good-bye.

Looking back on my time here, I can see how God has strategically placed people and events in my life that have radically changed who I am today.  I remember my friend Jenn told me when I left Shelton that in the first two weeks of being in Utah, I had to find a MOPs group and join.  So I did and there I met a wonderful girl named Heather (as well as lots of other great friends) who invited me to the Draper MOMS club and there I made some wonderful friends who invited me over, introduced me to fun places around the valley, had a wonderful baby shower for Eyob, brought us dinners when we got home from Ethiopia, and who continue to be a source of encouragement to me.

Who knew that that first visit would lead to me becoming one of the coordinators for our churches two MOPS groups and meeting some of my truly favorite people here in Utah.  Women who have walked beside me these last 6 months encouraging me and praying for me all while we served together. Thank you MOPS friends.  I am truly going to miss you this coming year and you will be in my prayers.

Through South Mountain Community Church, I have gone on a wonderful women’s “wild” weekend, participated in 4 life changing Bible studies and made some wonderful life long friends.  Friends who have challenged me.  Cassie and Susan I am so thankful that God brought us together that first study.  I am going to miss you sisters.

Driving away from Shelton two years ago, I never would have imagined that I would connect to a place and to the people so much in such a short amount of time, but I have and I will always be greatful for this stop in Utah along the path the Father has laid out before us.

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A must read!

I finished this book about a month ago and have been ruminating on it and wanting to blog on it since then. So here goes…

This is probably one of the most life impacting books I have ever read and I read a lot.  It is a modern allegory that brings the message of God’s love straight to the heart.  Before I read this book, God was already preparing me to hear His message and so when I finally did read it I was blessed beyond what I can put into words. 

I don’t want to ruin the story for you, but basically a man (Mack) who is struggling with the loss of a child has an encounter with God… really with the Trinity (Papa, Jesus, and Sarayu) that basically helps him shake off, what the author refers to as, his “Great Sadness.”  Let me just say this is no ordinary encounter.  God shows up in a form that will probably throw some of you off, but keep reading.  So much of what I read, I knew already, but it was communicated, through this story in such a way that I couldn’t help but be changed. While the main character is a man, I still identified with him in so many ways. Many of “his” questions were questions I have been asking lately and so much of what was revealed to him by this encounter with his Papa was revealed to me in a fresh way that penetrated my soul.  Mack was a broken man, a man struggling to make it through the day with his faith in tact and so often that is where I am at. 

 There is much in this book that will rock your stereotypical religious boat, which I think know was intended.  Don’t let that disuade you from reading it.

I spent much of the boys nap time yesterday making notes in my journal about what I read and what stood out to me….what changed me…. and I still have over a quarter of the book to write about.  Here are a couple of the things that I wrote down (much will need to be blogged about in seperate posts). some of the following words are mine, but most are a paraphrase from the book..

God is about relationship…..Only God can set us free, but freedom can never be forced. Freedom is a process that can only happen inside a relationship with the Trinity.

God is LOVE-

God is NOT who I thought He was… He is sooo much more.

God is not a punisher, He is a reedeemer.  Sin is its own punishment.  It is God’s purpose and joy to cure sin not punish it.  My choices (sin) cause hurt and suffering.  God is not evil. I am the one who embraces fear and pain and power. But my choices are not stronger than Gods purposes and He will use every choice I make for the ultimate good and most loving outcome.  When I realize, believe, and live in this, I am free to have a relationship with Him.  Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know you are loved. 

All the “bad” in the world is NOT justified by God, it is redeemed by God. 

I could go on and on, but I would rather you read the book yourself.  If you love a good story than you will enjoy this book.  If you want a fresh word from the Lord, you will want to read this book.  If you are struggling to feel the love of your Father in the midst of your pain, then read this book.  If you want to feel the loving arms of your Papa around you in a real, loving, and almost physical way, dive into this book head first, expecting Him to meet you on the pages.  I don’t think you will be dissapointed. 

If you have already read this book… please comment…. I would love to know what you think.  After you read it come back and comment as well.

The Shack by William P Young

 

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As many of you who have been reading my blog over the last few months know  it has been obvious I am sure how much I have struggled.  As I have walked through this desert time, this “mourning time” I have begun to see what, maybe, Christ had in mind for me. 

Shortly after returning home, in December, I was taking a little mommy break at Barnes and Noble. Perusing the Christian book section…… I came across this book by Henri Nouwen.  Ordinarily I would not have been familiar with him, but my dad had mentioned him quite a few times on his blog and had forwarded me some daily devotions from Nouwen’s website as well.  Anyway, Sunday morning, the boys were playing quietly downstairs, Brandon was trying to catch up on some sleep and I sat down and finally picked up, Turn My Mourning into Dancing (TMMID) and was blessed immeasurably just by the first chapter.  So much so that it has been ruminating in my brain for the last two days.  I even interupted Extreme Home Makeover last night to read everything I underlined to Brandon. 

I feel like I have experienced quite a bit of grief over my 33 years and through many of the experiences, I often felt isolated and alone….separated from people, as well as, God.  I tried as hard as I could to either change my circumstances, forget my pain, or stumble painfully along hoping that at some point it would go away and I would be able to move on.  I have spent many months at a time wishing away my uncomfortable circumstances, shaking my fist at God and or begging HIM to change my life. 

Even though I was raised in the church, I was not ever really taught how to deal with loss or hurt in a Biblical way.  In fact, if I am being totally honest… I think the church set me up for failure.  I think what I really learned from the church is that if you are a “good” christian you will not let your grief/loss/struggles get you down.  You will praise the Lord and move on.  You should ignore your pain because if you spend to much time in it you are sining.  I have heard every platitude possible, all well meaning I am sure, but useless none the less.  I think that the church places such an emphasis on being happy and that any sadness is not part of the Christian life.

Along the same lines… the world tells you that if life ain’t right get a new one.  If you’re not in love any more, move on.  If you don’t like your friends trade them in.  If you don’t like the body you have been given work harder.  If you aren’t happy, dig deep into your “inner” self and find your che(pretty sure I didn’t spell that right..oops).

Henri Nouwen points to another “way.” A way that resonates with me, oh how it resonates.  As I read the first chapter my tired heart (if we are honest aren’t most of us tired at heart?  After all this world is a hard place and offers up such challenges) was lifted up.  Don’t get me wrong I was deeply challenged, but also acutely blessed.  “Who is it that Jesus says will be blessed?” Nouwen asks, “Those who mourn (Mat. 5:4).”  Doesn’t just that very statement give you hope and peace? 

Here are a couple of quotes from the intro that touched me………. “By greeting life’s pains with something other than denial we may find something unexpected.  By inviting God into our difficulties we ground life-even its sad moments- in joy and hope. “

“Many of us are tempted to think that if we suffer, the only important thing is to be relieved of our pain.  We want to flee it at all costs.  But when we learn to move through suffering, rather than avoid it, then we greet it differently.  We become willing to let it teach us.”

Nouwen says that learning the above will not be easy and he suggests 5 “movements” through hard times.  These movements make up the 5 chapters of the book.

#1- Chpt. 1-  From Our Little Selves to a Larger World-  I am just going to pull out some quotes that I found impacting and then comment when I feel compelled.

“How do we,” Nouwen asks, “make this shift from evading our pain to asking GOd to redeem  and make good use of it.”  Good question…. the key word for me was “asking”  … it is my choice to let HIM redeem. 

“We are called to grieve our losses.”  Amen!  Often I feel like I am the only one doing this and often I feel ashamed and like I am not “loving” or “trusting” God enough and that I am being a big baby.

 “Our efforts to disconnect ourselves from our own suffering end up disconnecting our suffering from God’s suffering for us.  The way out of our loss and hurt is in and through.”  I had never before made the connection that grieving my own losses helps me identify or connect with the loss that God suffered in sending HIS Son for me. See also…2Corinthians 4:7-10

“Facing our losses also means avoiding a temptation to see life as an exercise in having needs met.”  “We also like easy victories: growth without crisis, healing without pains, the resurrection without the coss.”  – This is me in so many ways.  How many times have I gone to God and said, “Lord, remove this suffering from me.”  Not that we can’t ask Him but letting that be the only thing I do is wrong.

“The way from Palm Sunday to Easter is the patient way, the suffering way.  Indeed, our word patience comes from the ancient root patior, “to suffer.”  To learn patience is not to rebel against every hardship.  For if we insist on continueing to cover our pains with easy “Hosannas,” we run the risk of losing our patience.  We are likely to bcome bitter and cynical or violent and aggressive when the shallowness of the easy way wears through.” Again, WOW!-  All you in the middle of adoptions and feeling the pull towards impatience… this is for you and me…..

“Instead, Christ invites us to remain in touch with the many sufferings of every day and to taste the beginning of hope and new life right there, where we live amid our hurts and pains and brokeness.”

“I am less likely to deny my suffering when I learn how God uses it to mold me and draw me closer to him.  I will be less likely to see my pains as interruptions to my plans and more to see them as a means for GOd to make me ready to receive Him.  I let God live near my pains and distractions”  I want this don’t you?

“The small and even overpowering pains of our lives are intimately connected with the greater pains of Christ.  Our daily sorrows are anchored in a greater sorrow and therefore a larger hope.”

“Our choice, then, often relvoves around not what has happened or will happen to us, but how we will relate to life’s turns and circumstances. ”

“A key to understanding suffering has to do with our not rebelling at the inconveniences and pains life presents to us.”  I am so guilty of seeing all suffering as an inconvenience to me and more often then not mad about them.

Ok…. I promise only two more quotes…. I actually have to stop myself…. and by the way I haven’t even quoted all the things I underlined.

“But then we let our hurt remind us of our need for healing.  As we dance and walk forward, grace provides the ground on which our steps fall.  Prayer puts us in touch with the God of the dance.  We look beyond our experience of sadness or loss by learning to receive an all-embracing love, a love that meets us in everyday moments.”    

“Our glory is hidden in our pain, if we allow God to bring the gift of himself in our experience of it.  If we turn to GOd, not rebelling against our hurt, we let GOd transform it into greater good.  We let others join us and discover it with us.”

I have always seen suffering and loss as something to be avoided.  Most often I have responded with anger, avoidance, pity parties, and the like.  What I am hearing through this book is, that while it is ok and even good and right to grieve, we must also make the choice to see our pain as a means for GOd to work in us.  Doing this connects us more to Him and in turn to the larger suffering world around us. 

I am not a scholar nor do I have any real amazing insights, I just wanted to share with you these amazing, freeing thoughts.  Please let me know what you think.

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