Lessons Learned

One of my new #write31 days friends asked this question on Facebook this morning, “Almost a week out from finishing the challenge. How did you see God grow you in the 31 days and do you find yourself with a new calling/purpose for your writing?”

(1) I have seen God use me for a greater purpose. As I have shared my story, I have seen how God has used me and my families story to bless others, to inspire others and to let others know that they are not alone.

(2) I was reminded how much I am truly a writer. My mom said I was a strange kid. Often times when I was little, I didn’t want a toy. She could give me a piece of paper and a pen and I was a happy camper. Throughout this challenge, I have realized how good it is for my soul to put pen to paper; much like a musician writing a song and putting notes to words. I get to write sermons once a month for my job and write newsletter articles etc. But I haven’t really taken the time to write for me! I have realized how much I missed writing!

(3) My hope is that I will continue to “find my tribe” and that others will find their tribe as well. It is so cool to find others who simply get me and understand who I am. Pure gift in knowing who and whose  I am. I hope that I can use this blog to help others see that as well and to know that gosh darnit, they are good enough; more than good enough!

(4) That being vulnerable can be a scary place to be. But by showing my own vulnerability, people see me for all of my experiences; for all of my hopes and dreams; for all of my griefs and losses. And by leading by example, others realize and see how being vulnerable and open can bless all of us!

(5) I learned a lot during these 31 days but I think my favorite has to be one a friend pointed out to me. She reminded me that I am truly living out the words to Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” When I flipped my Bible open and read those words, I realized how true that is. It took me a long time to get there but in sharing my story, I have found a way to fully trust in a God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. I honestly don’t know how I would have gotten through life and our struggles without my faith. I know that is not true for everyone but for me, there is such comfort in knowing that I am called and claimed as a precious child of God. Thanks be to God for that!

(6) I also think in many ways I have found my voice again. At seminary, I had a negative experience in a class by a classmate. (She later apologized and became one of my dearest friends) However that experience caused me to shut down and not think I had anything valuable to say. Throughout seminary and in my calls after, I was able to find my voice. And I continue to find that voice even more each and every day!

“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 pregnant 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.”–Romans 8:26-28 (The Message Translation)

A Whole New Perspective

This verse is a verse that I often turn to when someone passes away….especially when the death is unexpected. I turned to it when my friend Renee lost her husband Ben in the Haiti earthquake. I turned to it when people I love have left this earth. I even turned to it when Mom was laying in the intensive care unit my senior year of college.

In the last month, a dear seminary classmate and friend received the word that she has cancer. The cancer is progressing fast. Hospice has been called in and honestly, she is in the final days of her life. So very hard to utter those words or even type them on a screen especially when I spent time with Karen and her BFF Barb this summer at the Lutheran Academy of the Rockies. Karen’s daughters have been keeping everyone updated on their Caring Bridge website which is a beautiful reflection of their relationship with their Mom.

This morning’s post brought tears to my eyes as I read about Karen’s daughter Kris taking care of her. Kris mentioned how everything is coming full circle. As a baby, Karen cared for her infant daughter Kris and now Kris is caring for her Mom in the same way; bathing her, feeding her, etc. Life has a funny way of turning full circle on us, doesn’t it…life and death, life and death, life and death!

Kris’s words shed light on what it means to care for those we love; for life to come full circle and to grieve when we need to grieve.As a daughter of someone who daily lives and struggles with a mental illness, at times, I have found myself having a hard time holding onto the “rollercoaster” of life. The rollercoaster doesn’t give us any warnings and let us know when it is going up or coming down! It is very scary to hold on, be vulnerable and share our story with those near and dear to us. Yet sometimes that is exactly what we need to do….hold on for the ride as unpredictable as it can be.

Today I am thankful for Karen and her family; what she has taught them and what she continues to teach them; and for the love she has shown them and continues to show them. I am thankful for Karen’s friendship and all those who have been blessed by her friendship.  I am simply thankful for Karen…yet my heart is sad too!

And as I read and listen to Karen’s daughters words, I am reminding myself to continually show love to all those who are near and dear to me; especially my momma. In the midst of Mom’s illness, I will care for Mom in the ways she needs me to care for her even when I am tired and weary. I will sit on her bed when she needs me to and hold her hand. Because she cared for me…there are times when I will need to care for her as well!

The beauty is that God is with us in the midst of life and death especially when it is so very hard for us to cling to the promises God bestows upon each of us. As Karen lives her final weeks, days or hours of life, I can’t help but be reminded of the promise of the Resurrection. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes about Easter from Charles W. Hall “Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won’t stay there.”

“If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete.”-Philippians 2:1-2

Community in the Midst of Sorrow

Our faith community is hurting! And as we are hurting, we are also remembering our own losses! We cannot not remember the other losses: the losses in our own life!

Earlier this week a dad (a member of our church) passed away unexpectedly leaving behind his wife and three children: a 7th Grader, a 4th Grader and a 2nd Grader! My heart hurts for this family!

And yet in the midst of this tragedy, I have seen God in work through our family of faith! Things as simple as bringing them toilet paper and other paper products, bringing them food and simply wrapping them in love and prayer! (I hope they are feeling this love and prayer!)

I keep coming back to the Romans text where it says: “Whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lords!” So true but it is hard to trust in that promise when hurting so deeply!

More often than not, a hand on the shoulder or a shoulder to cry on is all we need to know that we are surrounded by love and community! There is something incredibly beautiful about a community founded on our own faith and God’s love for us! So for now, the best thing we can do is be community; holding each other in the midst of pain and sorrow!