Today is my 43rd birthday.
Today is also the 5 year anniversary of Stefan’s stroke.
I figured those two things are good reasons for me dust off the ol’ keyboard and give myself a birthday gift–the gift of writing something.
I love to write. I always have. I love it as much as I love good food and meaningful conversation. I love it a little more than boy bands and Swedish Fish, but not as much as Jesus. I feel alive when I write.
(Except for the punctuation part of it. I apologize in advance for it. I love commas, ellipses, dashes, and semi colons. I know my posts are over accessorized with them. I’m like the grandma who wears her gloves, hat, pearls, lipstick, clip on earrings, pantyhose, and wrist corsage to McDonald’s. I get it and I own it).
So why haven’t I been writing?
That’s a great question. I’m not sure if I have one specific answer to it.
An obvious answer is life is full right now. Our kids are 22, 17, 15, almost 12. We’re navigating college graduation, a wedding (!!), driving, relationships, friendships, social media, little league–all while trying to cultivate character, integrity, and a deep affection for Jesus. You know, nbd (That’s how the youngsters and I say “no big deal.” It ups my coolness, but the fact that I had to point out that it makes me cooler, actually makes me un-cooler. It’s like one step forward, 5 steps backwards with theses teens).
In all sincerity, I have no greater honor or privilege than being mom to these kids. I am trying to soak it all in and soak it all up because my heart is having a hard time catching up to how fast they are growing up on me.
Maybe the more accurate answer for my silence is that some seasons of life, while in the midst of them, are too sacred to share. I think I needed to put down my pen so that I could submit and allow God to write my story–as He sees fit.
Here’s what I mean:
On my 10th birthday in 1984, I received the mother of all presents—a Cabbage Patch Doll. His birth certificate read Rodney Frankie and I was immediately in love with a bald-headed, blue-eyed, overall-wearing fake baby. He was perfect, right down to the Xavier Roberts signature on his butt. It was exactly what I wanted for my birthday. EXACTLY.
Even if his name was Rodney Frankie.
Fast forward to my 38th birthday in 2012. I can’t remember what was on my birthday “list” that year, but the only thing I wanted was to take a nap. True story. I certainly did NOT want my husband to have a massive stroke right in front of me. It was the exact opposite of what I wanted for my birthday. EXACT OPPOSITE.
Yet, I count both–the doll and the stroke–as treasured gifts.
I found out years later that my mom went to great lengths to buy my Cabbage Patch Doll. She drove a couple hours ONE WAY in the snow, uphill both ways, to find that doll. I’m not certain about the uphill part considering we lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota (the GREAT PLAINS) at the time. “Hill” may be loosely defined, but there definitely was snow. Legend has it she threw a couple of elbows to secure my gift. No one came forward with a law suit so we cannot confirm or deny the story. And, she’ll never tell.
The point is this: she fought for me. She was working for my benefit, behind the scenes without my knowledge of any of it.
I’ve learned much these past 5 years— too much to begin to quantify or explicate. Mostly, I learned that what feels so incredibly cruel and unwanted at the time, can be a gift God uses as one of the greatest tools of transformation in our lives. Sometimes when it feels like He’s fighting WITH us, He’s actually fighting FOR us: working for our benefit, behind the scenes without our knowledge of any of it.
I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. I’m not the same person I was a year ago. My faith is stronger, my hope intact, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. That’s not due to a newly found inner strength or newly acquired intelligence; it is simply a testament to a God who fights for me. He was and is working for my benefit, behind the scenes without my knowledge of any of it.
Don’t get me wrong, plenty of days I felt (and feel) like 2007 Britney, or 2006 Mel Gibson, or 1996-98 Dennis Rodman.
You get the idea.
All of that to say, the stroke was the beginning of a long season of evaluation, contemplation, and reassessment. I found that in being quiet, it was easier for me to recognize the gifts God was giving me. It was easier to notice the changes (for the better) He was making in our lives. My inactivity was necessary to see His activity.
That’s probably the most authentic answer I can give you.
Here’s my gift to you on my birthiversary: sometimes the most unusual and unwanted circumstances prove to be cherished gifts that make you stronger and gentler, wiser and more compassionate, closer to God, less like you and more like Jesus. He is working for your good even as I type these words. He is fighting for you. He is for you. However, as with all parents, He won’t force you to accept the gifts.
Best news? It doesn’t even have to be your birthday for Him to deliver.
(I spoke about all of this at a women’s event last September. Here’s a link if you’re interested in hearing more about God’s faithfulness on my journey.)
Let me wrap up by saying this, I haven’t forgotten y’all. So many of you have encouraged me to write and inquired about my writing and genuinely asked why I’m not. I am overwhelmed with emotion and gratitude thinking of all of you reaching out to me, nudging me, praying for me, encouraging me. I wish I could articulate how your care for me has been balm to my soul. Thank you.
I’m hoping to write more this year; however, I’ve also been hoping to lose 10 pounds the past year or so and that’s not gone well, so we’ll see.
Until we meet again here, I’m praying for you. I’m praying that you trust and know that He is writing your story. And, it’s better than anything you can ask for or imagine.
It’s way better than Rodney Frankie and that’s saying a lot.
And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.
Y’all know I’m not very good with small talk, right?
I ran into a couple of friends at Target yesterday and after we exchanged pleasantries, I blanked out. Seriously, I stood there smiling (I hope) and staring while my mind literally did not have one single thought except, “Do not ask them the deep questions of life. They are at Target–the Disney World for moms–they do not want to ponder all the thoughts and feelings about love, life, parenting, the Resurrection, or whether Justin and Selena will get back together and turn from their trying-to-be-rebellious-while-still-trying-to-be-innocent phase.”
So, I walked away, awkwardly, while desperately wanting to tell them everything that was going on in my head. They certainly didn’t want that, believe me. They wanted to go to Target and have the same experience that all women have, “I came in for 2 things, and spent $157.”
It’s a beautiful thing.
Now that leaves me with all these thoughts in my head that I need to get out. And, who better to share my feelings with than a captive audience.
(Notice that’s not really a question.)
Surprise! Hope you’re ready.
Let’s start with a confession. I don’t like Valentine’s Day. I never have. I definitely won’t judge you for liking it. I just don’t like the pressure of it, the idea of it, the “I have to love you today” part of it.
I never claimed to be a tender-hearted romantic. Sarcastic? Yes. Mushy-Gushy? No.
Stefan and I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Except last year we gave each other a gift. It wasn’t exactly on Valentine’s Day, but it was in February. Close enough.
We gave each other the gift of marriage counseling.
Let me try to explain a little about the last 4 years. In March 2012, at the age of 38, Stefan had a massive stroke. One that should have killed him, or left him permanently disabled. There is no handbook for how to walk that road. At the time, we had a Junior in high school, a 6th grader, a 4th grader, and a 1st grader. Their fears, understanding, and comprehension were vast and complex. They struggled to make sense of it all…as did we.
While in the hospital, we learned that “there was a spot on Stefan’s brain.” Everyone was confident that it wasn’t a factor in the stroke, but words like tumor, clot, and specialist, were thrown in the already confusing jargon.
We spent a year doing two things: trying to figure out what caused Stefan’s stroke and trying to determine what the spot on Stefan’s brain was and if it was dangerous.
We opted to not tell our kids or friends about the spot because it was already an emotional roller coaster that no one wanted to be on, so why put them on another one? Our families and closest friends knew. They didn’t get a choice in whether or not they got to ride.
Our life looked a lot like this:
We received all the best possible physical news for Stefan. The hemangioblastoma on his brain wasn’t growing or life-threatening and probably something Stefan was born with. He didn’t have Von Hippel-Lindau disease, A-Fib, cholesterol or plaque in his arteries. Nothing. He had a “spontaneous dissection of his carotid artery.”
After a year of going to cardiologists, neurologists, interventionists, and other ‘ists’ who far exceeding my intelligence and understanding, Stefan was released to resume life as normal. One of the best days was when our final stop on the hamster wheel ended in the office of an amazing Interventional Neuro-radiologist. He looked at me and said, “Stefan has no greater chance of having another stroke than you or I do.”
And all God’s people said…
Except we didn’t.
We spent more than a year considering and nurturing Stefan’s physical state that none of us regarded or evaluated our emotional or mental states.
The evaluations and assessments were discouraging.
Trauma changes people. It changed Stefan. It changed me. It changed our kids.
Maybe one day I’ll talk about all the changes, but some are still so tender and raw and too personal to share. Even for me.
See? I do have filter (praise hands emoji).
I found myself in a real season of loss. A season that lasted years.
Stefan’s frontal lobe was damaged in the stroke so aspects of his personality were different. Kaden graduated and moved SEVEN hours away. One of my children was experiencing severe anxiety. Not to mention, life kept going on. I was experiencing feelings, emotions, and insecurities that I was usually able to laugh away, but couldn’t this time.
All of that landed us on a couch in a counselor’s office last February with one of the smartest, most genuine, kindest counselors in all the land, or at least, all of Waco.
I firmly believe God uses people to advance the gospel. Simply put, God uses people to help other people see that God takes brokenness and makes beauty. He takes dead things and breathes life into them. Sometimes we just need for someone to tell us that God restores the barren places. Rod did that for us, he told us all that.
Oh, and he also told me I have PTSD. Or I did. Maybe still do. I’m not sure how it works. That’s for another day.
What I’m trying to say is this–marriage counseling was not only the best Valentine’s Day gift I ever received, but one of the best gifts I ever received. Stefan and I have done a lot of messy, heavy, hard work on our marriage this year and we are better for it. Our marriage is better for it. Our kids are better for it (and, yes, our kids know that we go to counseling. I’m determined to raise kids who understand that going to counseling is courageous and brave, not a sign of weakness, fragility, or whatever reason you believe that has kept you from going).
Maybe you just need to know that God restores the barren places. He brings to life those things you think are dead. He is working for your good. Even when everything feels not good. He makes beauty out of ruin.
Maybe that’s what Justin and Selena need to hear. I know he’s moved on to Hailey, but I will forever be pro Jelena. I’m a pretty big fan of first loves, especially since I get to spend this Valentine’s Day not celebrating with my first love.
Happy Valentine’s Day for those who celebrate!
And for those who don’t, we can talk about it when we run into each other in Target some day; but just remember, I warned you that I’m not good at small talk.
Last week, I briefly mentioned on social media that it has been a difficult few weeks emotionally, physically, and spiritually. And, it has. For various reasons.
I joked (and I use that word loosely) with my girlfriends that I feel like we are all at such deep levels of need right now. We are all drowning in personal afflictions, family emergencies, spiritual attacks, and emotional mind games that our only encouragement to each other is a solidarity fist bump and head nod acknowledging, “I see you, sister! You are not alone. I’m trying to make it, too!”
Strangely, that’s been enough for me. Usually, in my group of girlfriends, one of us is experiencing a season of strength and is the voice of encouragement, courage, and war-cries; but, this new year has knocked a little wind out of all our sails. Not to mention the weight of personal circumstances and responsibilities has us drowning a little.
Oh my word, you’re still reading this uplifting, encouraging, and humorous post? Bless you.
My word for the year is PURSUE. I don’t know why I put that in all caps. As if yelling it will actually bring about the implementation of it.
I have screen shots that I keep on my phone to remind me what it means to pursue. Chase. Follow. Hound. Seek. Persist.
I started praying about my word for the year in November. Stefan and I took a long weekend to Colorado to set goals for our family, as a couple, and personally. I originally thought my word was AWAKEN, but God had other (bigger) ideas for that word. There’s no doubt, my pursuit of Jesus will lead to awakening. Jesus cannot do anything but awaken my soul, my resolve, my love.
So, I don’t know why I’m surprised that the year has started off with numerous (and I mean abundant) opportunities for me to lean into Christ. Pursue Him. Chase after Him. But, instead, the opportunities have me wanting to retreat, run away, and shrink back (did you see the antonyms of pursue?).
But, in every circumstance that has presented itself over the past few weeks, I have never once felt alone. I have doubted. I have questioned. I have worried. I have eaten my emotions wrapped up in Milk Duds and Swedish Fish.
My faith has been shaken, but I’ve never felt alone.
In a very healthy conversation, I had a family member tell me that I use “this Jesus thing as a crutch.” I regret not replying with, “please don’t reduce it to a crutch. That makes it sounds like Jesus is an addition to my life and I only need Him every once in a while. He is everything to me. And, I need something WAY stronger than a crutch to lean on.”
I need to follow Him, camp out with Him, seek Him, hound Him, chase Him. Pursue.
I need to know He will carry me at times when I don’t have the strength.
God’s allowed several opportunities already for me to push into pursuit of Him rather than retreat in fear. That doesn’t mean I’ve been absent of fear. OH MY GOODNESS…I would be liar, liar pants on fire if I said that.
Several weeks ago, I finally called my OB/Gyn regarding a lump I found in my breast back in May. LISTEN, GIRLFRANDS, DO NOT HESITATE TO CALL ABOUT THESE MATTERS. AND, IF YOU AREN’T DOING SELF-EXAMS, START DOING THEM. I’m sorry to yell at you, but you are important to me and the other people who love you. Don’t do like I did, do like I say (which also seems to be the mantra for my parenting).
For 48 long hours, I went through ALL THE FEELS. The whole nasty spectrum of feelings. Despair, fear, hope, wonder, doubt, resolve, more fear, and peace.
I went to my doctor, she felt the lump (plus a second one) and sent me to radiology for a mammogram and an ultrasound/sonogram (I get these confused. But, to be fair, I get my kids’ names confused too, so…).
As I waited in the women’s only dressing room, I looked at the other 4 women sitting there. Again, like with my dear friends, I silently offered up a nod and fist bump as if to say, “I see you. I don’t know your fear or your hope, but we are in this together.”
(This is probably totally inappropriate. You would think that I would not say it if my initial reaction is, “don’t say that.” But, I don’t like being told what to do. And, y’all know I am SO bad at small talk and awkward situations. So I’ll tell you. The day I went in for my lump was a Wednesday. It took a spiritual act of God for me not to look at the other ladies and say, in my best camel voice, “Lump Ddaaayyy.”)!
Anyway, then I got a text from my dear friend that read, “You may be all alone in the waiting room, but I know He is with you. He is ever present in this.”
And, then I was whisked away to go to second base with several strangers.
But, I was never alone.
And, neither are you.
I received the best news possible (or, “breast news possible” as my friend said. I know. I’ll stop now).
Benign fibroid cyst.
I don’t know if you’re in a season of great need or brokenness, but I know this, and I believe it to my core:
You are not alone.
You are not forgotten.
You are seen.
You are known.
You are loved completely, wholly, without condition.
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting,
God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don’t know how or what to pray,
it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us,
making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.
He knows us far better than we know ourselves,
knows our condition, and keeps us present before God.
That’s why we can be so sure that every detail
in our lives of love for God
is worked into something good.
I’m absolutely convinced that nothing…
can get between us and God’s love
because of the way that Jesus, our Master,
has embraced us.
Romans 8:26-28,39 the Message
While we are in the waiting room, trying to stay afloat, know that I see you. I love you. And, I am, in solidarity, fist bumping and head nodding you all the way home. We are in this together.
Well, would’ya look at this?!
This thing still works. Who knew.
I figured since I’ve had several close friends ask me, “Do you still blog?” and “Is everything okay? You haven’t blogged in a while,” I should probably dust off the ol’ keyboard and address the issue at hand.
It’s not you.
I’ve sat down to write dozens of times, but sometimes it feels frivolous, while other times it feels disingenuous.
Clearly I’m out of practice because I’ve been sitting here for over 30 minutes staring at blank space; and, I’ve already googled, “how to punctuate quotes mid-sentence,” and “synonyms for inauthentic,” which I quickly learned is not a word. It’s unauthentic. Which still doesn’t look right to me. Less than 10 sentences written and google has essentially mocked me.
Obviously, these are good times.
This is usually where I insert some attempt at sassy, witty banter and explain what I’ve been doing the past 3 months.
What’s the synonym for “I got nuthin’?”
Except the truth. And, sometimes the truth is boring. I do not want to be boring.
But, that’s all I have to offer so I’m going with it.
The time I used for blogging is now (mostly) spent on a long-held dream of mine (I wrote about it in this post). I witnessed and participated in the launching of a ministry called Echo (here’s a link if you want to check it out). It’s such a huge part of my life currently, that if I didn’t write about it, I would feel like I should change the name of my website to the Sometimes Real V, or the Real V when she wants to be, or my favorite, the Real V #orNah.
So, I wrote some pieces for the Echo blog, taught at some of the meetings, invited women of all ages and stages to participate, and prayed for a movement.
There hasn’t been a movement. There isn’t a spiritual awakening. No revival. Not even a lot of women at our gatherings.
In fact, Echo, doesn’t really look like the dream and vision God’s written on my heart.
I am convinced He is moving in His people. I am confident He will awaken our apathetic and bored souls. I am certain He will rouse a deaf world.
But, I’ve been disappointed.
And, I’ve been frustrated.
And, I’m sorry.
It’s not you.
(Although, I really wanted to blame you.)
While it’s so much easier to get frustrated with anyone other than myself, God is graciously and undoubtedly teaching me that if I want to be a part of His movement and an awakening of His people, I must move and I must be awake.
I’m not talking about a works based salvation. Although, let’s be honest. Wouldn’t that be easier sometimes? A linear, logical, tidy checklist? A formula or a recipe?
Because awakening my soul to compassion and love demands movement toward the brokenness, the illogical, and the messy.
A movement requires action of my faith.
An awakening requires inconvenience and sacrifice.
To offer the hope of Jesus to a broken, lonely world means I must move past being friendly to the broken and the lonely to being a friend of the broken and the lonely.
So that’s the journey I’ve been on the past few months.
To get out from behind the comfort of my keyboard and move towards whoever God puts right in my path.
That’s how movements of God start. That’s how spiritual awakenings occur–people who were once lost become friends with those who are lost and love them the way Jesus loves all of us.
Isn’t that the model Jesus gave us?
For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.
I have an expectancy and anticipation for God’s movement in and through Echo. Echo’s future is not dependent on the leadership team’s strengths or weaknesses; it’s dependent on the One who is Faithful to finish the work He’s started.
And, the work He’ll finish may not ever look like the dream, I believe, He’s given me. But, I am learning that it’s for my good to hold loosely to dreams while He hones my obedience.
Maybe there’s a dream He’s given you that doesn’t quite look like you thought, or maybe it’s not even close to being realized.
Here’s my encouragement:
God, in His grace and mercy, will finish the work He’s started.
Sometimes that means He’ll finish the work He’s started IN you.
Sometimes that means He’ll finish the work He’s started THROUGH you.
Our dreams may never look like we thought they would. They may never even be realized.
No matter what, we will be better for it. He will be Faithful to transform and change us.
We will be moved. We will be awakened.
Kinda sounds like we’ll get to experience a movement and spiritual awakening after all.
I struggled yesterday coming up with Friday Favorites. In light of all that’s acting out in front of us on the world’s stage, I couldn’t come up with a kitschy, consumeristic, head-in-the-sand post about what products I love or what favorite item I recommend you buying all while I watch mothers in Iraq throw their babies on a helicopter believing that the unknown destination of the helicopter is far better than the reality that awaits on the side of a mountain.
Don’t misunderstand, I want to stick my head in the sand. I want to look away. I want to change the channel. Oh, hey look, it’s a rerun of Friends. I want to buy all the things in an attempt to emotionally numb myself. I want to meet up here and discuss mom jeans, favorite mascaras, whether or not Justin and Selena will get back together, and how we feel about Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin being a “hot new couple.”
The blinders would have to be extremely large, though, if I really want to turn a blind eye to the chaos, the brokenness, the prejudice, and the pain unfolding on the world’s stage.
Because it’s not only Iraq. It seems to be everywhere.
It’s mental illness and suicide.
It’s racism and prejudice.
It’s sickness and viruses.
It’s persecution and suffering.
It’s injustice and oppression.
And, that’s the macro, global picture.
From my micro,infinitesimal vantage point, I’ve recently been bombarded with stories of abortion, immorality, sexual impurity, abuse, neglect, and depression. I’m not immune to these stories (or even being these stories), by no means; however, these stories are the rule lately and not the exception.
It’s too much. It’s. Too. Much.
Stefan asked me this morning what’s been wrong with me lately. I initially dodged the question and told Stefan that I always admired people who prayed, “Break my heart for what breaks Yours, Lord.” These reverent words carry much weight and responsibility with them so I often refrain from whispering them. I know a prayer like that is costly. A prayer like that takes courage. A prayer like that may even be crushing. Even to the one of the most impenetrable hearts like mine.
I’m not a cruel or dispassionate person. I’m really not. But, I’m also not the girl you want to go to if you want someone to cry with you. I want to be that girl. I’ll try to be that girl. Believe me, I’ll try. On more than one occasion, I’ve bit the inside of my cheek hoping for a tear, just one tear, to form in my eye and roll down my cheek so that the person across the table pouring her heart out could feel my empathy. I can never muster a tear, but the inside of my mouth is bleeding. Counts for something, right?
My family and close friends know this about me. My book club calls me Ole Icy Heart. My kids pretty much think Jesus is coming back on the rare occasions they see me cry. I simply cannot cry when it’s appropriate.
So, imagine my surprise when I started crying in the middle of Marshall’s Thursday afternoon.
I don’t know what was so significant about Thursday. Or Marshall’s. I mean, I don’t like the fashions out there: the high-waisted pants, or crop tops, or dresses that look like shirts, but it was definitely not a reason for Ole Icy Heart to cry like a baby or lose my mind. (up in hur. up in hur.)
Here’s the deal. Here’s what’s wrong with me. I started whispering that prayer a few months ago. You know the one I previously mentioned in the above paragraphs. It’s like the prayer-which-must-not-be-named. And, it’s crushing me.
It’s crushing me in the middle of Marshall’s. It’s crushing me in the middle of vacation. It’s crushing me when I take communion. It’s crushing me drinking coffee with my husband on a lazy Saturday morning.
The faces of desperation.
The faces of fear.
The faces of insecurity.
The faces of anger.
The faces of racism.
The faces of hunger.
The faces of grief.
The faces of mental illness.
They are all crushing me! They are devastating me. They are breaking my heart.
I knew this would happen, too! I knew if I asked God to break my heart for what breaks His, He would answer my prayer. My heart would be broken. Over and over and over again. See, people like me resolve to feel only some of the feels because if we feel all the feels we will not recover. And, I’m not. I’m not “getting over it.” I am not recovering from my broken heart.
Here’s the crazy thing: I don’t think I’m supposed to recover. I don’t think we are supposed to recover. What would that say about us–as people who follow Jesus–if we recovered quickly from our brothers’ and sisters’ persecution, desperation, grief, helplessness, or fear? What if we said, “Oh, we’ll just get over it.”
No one would ever say that, right?
But, we change the channel. Oh, hey look it’s a rerun of Friends.
We spend our money on the current fashions all while feeling “blessed” and “grateful” God has provided.
We eat too much (or drink too much) because we cannot handle the emotions as we look the other way.
We numb ourselves with cursory activities and passive escapism.
We convince ourselves that since we can’t do everything to help, we’ll do nothing.
Or maybe that’s just me.
There’s a verse in Proverbs 4 that says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” I think maybe I’ve misinterpreted this verse. Or, maybe I never understood it in the first place.
I’ve spent too much of my life “guarding my heart” by protecting it. Protecting it from all the feels. Protecting it like a fortress-I say what goes in, and what comes out. I am in ultimate control.
But, what God is teaching me is that maybe “guarding my heart” doesn’t mean guard as in protect, but as in look after my heart and wisely give my heart away. If my heart is a guarded fortress, it’s motionless and stationary. It’s protected, but it’s lifeless. And, the second part of the verse says that my heart determines the course of my life. Do I want my life to be motionless, stationary, lifeless?
Rather, what if I look after my heart? I guard my heart by protecting it from lifeless, superficial idols which will lead me astray; and, I guard my heart by wisely giving it away to the only One capable of bringing life and wholeness to it.
I want my heart, in the hands of Jesus, to determine the course of my life. I want my heart to be broken for what breaks His because the brokenness ushers in action which determines the course of my life. And, I want the course of my life to proclaim wholeness only found in Jesus, freedom for the captive, restoration for desperate and desolate, and hope for the mom who throws her baby on the helicopter trusting the destination is better than the reality.
Here’s where it gets messy. I don’t know what all this means. I don’t have three action steps for us to work through to determine how our broken hearts translate into practical help for all the peoples, in all the places, in all the problematic situations in the world.
But, I know there are needs right in front of me that I can do something about.
And, I know Jesus, Who carefully shepherds my heart, will lead me to practical, tangible ways I can help. He will lead you too. He will guard our hearts from being lifeless fortresses, but rather shepherd our hearts to be well springs of life. But, our hearts will break.
And, through that brokenness, I trust He will prompt us to act, to love in tangible ways, and to speak the hope that we are not home yet.
Because I am convinced that our destination is far better than the reality of this world.
We also believe, and that belief leads us to acknowledge that the same God who resurrected the Lord Jesus will raise us with Jesus and will usher us all together into His presence. All of this is happening for your good. As grace is spread to the multitudes, there is a growing sound of thanks being uttered by those relishing in the glory of God.
So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day. You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting;it will eventually fade away. Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on.