Love: No Talent Required

So many times I choose to designate those who are doing great things for the Kingdom of God as having special talent, or a special calling or extraordinary grace.

In doing so I try to excuse myself from my obligations as a Christ follower.

I set those “super Christians” aside as “holy” and “other” to make it easier to trudge blindly on, ignoring the people God places in MY path as MY assignment.

And that is sin.

If my life is too busy to bend down,

if my calendar is too full to make room for helping my neighbor,

if my heart is too hard to break over the pain and suffering and hopelessness that is splattered across headlines and newsfeeds,

then I am not listening to my Savior.

When my heart is turned toward Christ, it is filled with His love, His compassion, His mercy and grace.

Loving others is not a special calling or talent or gift.

It is a command.

[Jesus said] So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.

John 13:34-35 VOICE

 

small things with great love

 

 

 

Loving the Wounded

God bless the inventor of Band Aids!

That little tacky plaster has soothed more fears and tears than almost any other invention in the world.

Skinned knee?  Put a BandAid on it.

Bee sting?  BandAid.

Tiny bump that no one can even see?  Oh, sweetie, let me give you a BandAid.

Simply acknowledging pain and woundedness is so often all that is needed to encourage a heart and point it toward healing.

It’s the same in the world of emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds.

But we have yet to invent the BandAid for those.

band aid and heart

Instead, frequently we ignore, refute, minimize and pass over the one in our midst who holds out a hand or a heart saying, “I have a boo boo.”

Believe me, I understand-so many of these wounds are incurable, they are uncomfortable to think about, hard to look at.compassion and stay with you

But often the only thing the hurting heart wants is acknowledgement, a moment of time, a face turned full into theirs, eye-to-eye and unafraid to remain alongside through the pain.

Just as a BandAid bears witness to the wound underneath, our compassionate presence can bear witness to the deeper wounds no one can see.

When we choose to lean in and love, to listen and learn, to walk with the wounded we give a great gift.

compassion is a choice

 

Beauty That Lasts

We spend so much time, money and effort trying to make our decaying frame look less like the temporary shelter it’s intended to be and more like an eternal monument to beauty.

But try as we might, we are impotent against the forces that will eventually drag us to the grave.

What if, instead, I worked as diligently to exercise my inner woman as I do my too-generous bottom?

 What if I poured truth and strength into my soul through the Word of God like I force-feed my tummy with smoothies and vitamins?

What if I decided that these brief moments left to me were too precious to waste on things that are destined for dust and I used them to invest in things of eternal value?

I’m not advocating gluttony or lazy living, but I am arguing that most of my time should be spent cultivating a beautiful soul rather than a beautiful body.

I’m looking forward to my new, perfect body-the one Jesus will give me when He restores and redeems everything this broken world has taken from me.  Until then, I’ll put up with this one, and work on my soul.  

 

 

charm

 

Ask Away!

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard or read bereaved parents second-guessing themselves.  They say or write:  “I know you’re not supposed to ask ‘why?'”

Baloney!  The Psalms are FILLED with “Why God?”

Questions are where the rubber meets the road in the Christian life.  

Questions are where I learn to submit my heart to the lordship of a God Who loves me and Who has a perfect plan even when all I can see is pain.  

Questions are the way I weed my garden of faith-they force me to choose between trust and doubt.

“There are those who say faith means you never doubt.  Those who live by the creed, ‘Don’t ask questions!’

But I say faith is exactly what you cling to in the margins of doubt–when you have exhausted all the possibilities that exist in the physical, you-can-touch-it world and yet you KNOW there is MORE”

Read the rest of this post here:Debate and Faith

Words Matter

“Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” ~Jesus

Have you ever had a moment when words “slipped out” before you could stop them?  

I have.  

Standing amidst the wreckage of hasty speech I would do almost anything to stuff them back inside.

I like to pretend that I didn’t mean what I said.  I like to imagine that the words don’t reflect what I really feel.

And in the wake of burying a child, I find that I am ill-prepared to keep my mouth shut. Words tumble out because my emotions are almost always close to the surface.

The truth is, a glass only spills what’s already inside and my mouth only spews what’s hiding in my heart.

I am trying hard to fill my heart with grace, love and mercy so that what comes out heals rather than hurts.

I’m not always successful-the heart is deep and my wound is great.

But being wounded myself, I long to be an instrument of healing and peace in this broken world.  

st francis prayer

 

Broken Hearts, Beating Still

The events of this past week have thrown my body into a tailspin-like muscle memory acquired through repetitive action-I feel the terror of parents hearing the awful news that their child is gone.

It’s as if I am the one hearing the knock on the door.

As if I am the one absorbing the terrible blow.  

And I know what they don’t yet understand-there is no wonder drug or magic pill that can erase the pain.

There is no miraculous cure for a broken heart.  

I wrote this months ago, but this week has made it fresh again: 

When Dominic was born by c-section, they placed the epidural too high and I was unable to feel my chest rise and fall even though I continued to breathe.

It was a frightening experience. I WANTED to keep breathing-because I wanted to touch this new life coming into the world and into our family.

But when the deputy brought the news that Dominic had been killed, it felt like I stopped breathing and my heart stopped beating-and I would have welcomed both.

I wanted to escape the pain that filled my heart, my soul, my bones.

I think most bereaved mothers will tell you they have absolutely NO IDEA how their bodies continue to live and carry this heavy burden.

I do it for those still here and, having felt the pain of being left behind, my mama heart wants to spare the ones I love as long as I can.

But rest assured, it is a daily struggle to decide to go on.

heart_640

“Broken Hearts Still Beat”

BIRTH

I’m not breathing.
They assure me that I am.
My heartbeat thumps the truth for all to hear.
A welcome wail ushers his life into the spotlight of this wide world.

DEATH
I’m not breathing.
They assure me that I am.
My lungs draw air against my will and my better judgment.
An anguished cry marks the end of his earthly life.
I am breathing.
My body refusing to keep pace with my broken heart.

melanie desimone, november 7, 2014

Heart Wide Open

Grief and loss broke my heart and life wide open-no more hidden corners, no more walled-off spaces.

And the vast expanse left by Dominic’s absence will be filled.

Nature hates a vacuum.

What I pour into my heart or allow God to pour into it determines whether I am changed in a way that blesses me and others or not.

I don’t have a choice in being broken.

But I have a choice in being filled.  I can position my heart to hear from God and to dwell on His promises and Person or invite bitterness to move in.

I pray that you will have greater understanding in your heart. Then you will know the hope that God has chosen to give us. I pray that you will know that the blessings God has promised his holy people are rich and glorious.

Ephesians 1:18 ICB

Make-Me-a-Blessing-1024x791.png

 

Changed

Advertising works on a simple principle:  exposure.

The more exposure a person has to the product, the more likely that person will want to buy it.

My eyes lead my heart.

I go where my gaze rests.

What I stare at changes me.  

In the first moments, days, weeks after Dominic’s accident, it was very hard to lift my eyes from the reality of pain and sorrow that began like a hard kernel in my heart and grew to a mushroom cloud of destruction that took over my whole body.

But even then, God broke through to remind me all was not dark, all was not lost, and, in the end, all would be well.

See that I am God. See that I am in everything. See that I do everything. See that I have never stopped ordering my works, nor ever shall, eternally. See that I lead everything on to the conclusion I ordained for it before time began, by the same power, wisdom and love with which I made it. How can anything be amiss?

Julian of Norwich

As the cloud began to lift, I was able, by degrees, to choose where to turn my eyes.  I could read and write and focus on truth, or I could fill my gaze with deception, darkness and lies.

aslan

I am going to stare at SOMETHING-I have to decide what or Who will fill the horizon of my days.

In my sorrow, I can stare down the black hole of death or I can lift my eyes to the Hope of Heaven.

I can linger long at the grave or I can point my face to the sky and look for His return.

 

My gaze can rest on the emptiness of today or it can rest secure in the promise of tomorrow.

I can sit at the feet of Jesus and let His Presence fill my eyes and guide my heart or I can turn away and let despair overtake my soul.

I’m asking God for one thing, only one thing: To live with him in his house my whole life long. I’ll contemplate his beauty; I’ll study at his feet.

Psalm 27:4 MSG

When Moses came from God’s Presence, he glowed.

His face was transformed because he beheld the glory of the Lord.

He was sustained in the dry season of leading the Israelites through the wilderness by the abundant life he received in communion with God.

This season of grief is hard.  

It is DRY, and if I focus on the sorrow, it will suck the life right out of me.

I feel the sorrow.  I feel the pain.  There is no escaping reality.

But I can fix my eyes on the truth that this world is not all there is.  

I can focus my gaze on the finished work of Christ and the promise of reunion made possible by His blood.

Wearing Michael Jordan’s shoes won’t make me a basketball star.

But spending time in the Presence of Jesus will make me more like Him.

As I expose myself repeatedly to His grace, mercy and  beauty , I am transformed.

Our faces, then, are not covered. We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings more and more glory. And it comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 3:18 ICB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hard Choice

I usually refrain from commenting on current headlines.  

I’m not a fan of inflammatory social network back-and-forth.

And I’m pretty sure that if this post is circulated outside my typical readership, someone will react badly to what I say.

But I believe I can offer some perspective that might be missing from the voices yelling at each other over the recent sad incident at the Cincinatti Zoo.

So here it is:  I have buried a child.  

I know exactly what that mother and father would have faced if their child had been the one taken out of the enclosure lifeless.

And while I am deeply saddened by the loss of a beautiful, majestic and endangered gorilla, my heart cannot make peace with the idea that there was any other option than to secure the safety of that child.

Before I go further let me say this:  I am an animal lover.  I have always been an animal lover.  

I rescue spiders and moths and take them outside.  I step over worms and beetles.  I grow flowers for butterflies and feed the hummingbirds.  I don’t use pesticides on my yard.  I don’t kill snakes.

I respect life in all its forms.

But I think that we need to go beyond blaming/not blaming the parents and blaming/not blaming the zoo personnel to a root issue.

Sometimes we are left with hard choices that have to be made in a very short time.

Animals, especially endangered animals, get a lot of press these days.

Internet websites, videos on Youtube, traditional news outlets and glossy print magazines splash beautiful and moving pictures across our computers, phones and television screens.  I’m thankful that the hearts of humans are turning from exploitation to conservation.

And I’m glad there are programs like the one at the Cincinnatti Zoo working to save species that are otherwise headed for extinction.

The death of a child rarely gets the same attention.

Unless the death is the result of a sensational act of violence or a media-worthy accident, children die every day with only an obituary mention in a local newspaper.

So I understand the outrage generated by Harambe’s death.

And I understand how even parents of young children who have never buried a child could entertain the notion there was “some other option”.

But if we covered the stories of families who have lost children with the same zeal and creative journalism as we do the lives and deaths of endangered animals, that would change.

If the despair, heartbreak, brokenness and utter horror of bereaved parents’ lives were on display like the sickening piles of poached elephants and rhinos then at least we could have a discussion that was more informed and even-tempered.

Because it doesn’t matter whether or not that child’s parents looked the other way or should have known-once the child was in the enclosure and at the mercy of a gorilla, a choice had to be made.  

We can all second guess whether this or that could have been done.  

But if it were your child, I don’t think you would be guessing.  

And from the heart of a mother who can only visit her son at the cemetery, I’m not guessing either.  

grieving mother at grave

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