The TRULY Beautiful People

I’ve spent the last three days with over a hundred bereaved parents.

And they are all beautiful.  

Beautiful in their bravery and their brokenness. 

It was probably the most diverse and HONEST “church service” I’ve ever been to-and it had nothing to do with the facility.  It had everything to do with hearts.  

These are hearts desperately longing to beat to the rhythm of the heart of God.  Hearts that are too shattered to pretend when there is an altar call.  Hearts that don’t care if sobs escape or tears stream down.

And hearts that receive other hearts with open arms no matter if the body that carries them looks familiar or proper or fashionable or is the same color as their own.

It was hard to be surrounded by so many hearts carrying so much pain. 

But it was also beautiful. 

I wrote this last year and was reminded of it yesterday:

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?

Read the rest here:  Beauty That Lasts

Repost: Beauty for Ashes

It crosses my mind sometimes.

And it’s a topic of conversation among bereaved mamas:

  • Why fight?
  • Why struggle on in this hard life without my beloved child?
  • Why keep on keeping on when I am so very tired?

Read the rest here:  Beauty for Ashes

Fake Flowers and Strong Winds

Don’t judge me but in an effort to add a bit of color to my entryway and make peace with the fact that goats eat EVERYTHING-I’ve created pots of colorful silk arrangements.  And if I do say so myself, they look pretty authentic as long as you don’t examine them too closely.

This morning I woke to find my carefully arranged fake flowers strewn across my front yard.  Strong winds during the night had lifted them out of the pots and carried them everywhere-betraying their true nature.

No pretending now.

As I stooped down to gather the remnants and reposition them I thought about how much of my own life is spent trying to look better than I really am.  How often am I arranging “fake flowers” in an effort to fool the eye of the beholder?

And who am I trying to impress anyway?

When the winds of life come blowing hard, all that “fake me” gets stripped away.  I’m not strong enough to withstand the wind and keep pretending.

It hardly seemed like a gift at the time, but when Dominic left us, I realized that I had been utterly exposed-every false thing was stripped away and I was standing, defenseless and naked-emotions everywhere, my ability to “keep up appearances” absolutely GONE.

For a time I no longer tried to curate my life so it met with others’ approval.

But old habits die hard and I find myself slipping back into the rut of trying to be something I’m not.  Pride clings to every pore and insists that if I don’t do the right thing, say the right thing and look the part, people will turn away.

Wouldn’t it just be better if I was real ALL the time?

Wouldn’t my relationships be stronger if they were built on honest sharing and authentic connections?

I have learned through the years that God does not want just our happy; He also really wants our sad. Everything is not fine, and God wants to hear about it. He is drawn to us when we’re mourning and blesses us in a special way. God is not up there minimizing our pain and comparing it to others who have it worse than we do. God wants all pain to be surrendered to Him, and He has the capacity to respond to it all with infinite compassion.

~Esther Fleece, No More Faking Fine, p. 35

So I’m taking back the gift of authenticity that was purchased at such high cost.

I’m re-embracing the honesty that being stripped of all pretense exposed.

I’m keeping my fake flowers but I’m ditching the fake me.

souls instead of bodies

Bluebirds and Hard Work

So, what keeps my heart tied to this weary world when what it really wants is to go Home and be free of pain and sorrow?  What anchors me to the sod when my soul longs to float away?  What compels me to stay?

Last week it was bluebirds and hard work.

Washing up dishes from a morning cooking frenzy, I raised my eyes to look out the window and there-looking down the chimney of our smoker-was a bluebird.

bluebird

Unconcerned with me he rested for some minutes where I could drink in the vibrant hue of his feathers. There’s just nothing like that blue anywhere but on the back of those beautiful birds-no matter how long I look at one, I always feel it’s not long enough.  Then off he flew to join another on a branch.

It was a gift.

And I tucked it in my heart to pull out later when I needed a reminder that there is still beauty and life in a world that also includes pain and death.

About an hour later I joined my youngest son at his house just a few miles from the farm. It’s an older home on main street in our little town and needs some work before he moves in.

It was carpet day.

So for the next few hours we worked together and by the end of the day we had done it! Carpet laid.  No major mistakes.

carpet-installers

Success was sweet!

I was really just a go-fer and cheerleader but it felt oh, so good to have something work out just as planned.

It felt absolutely victorious!

We sat in the finished room and drank it in.

Someone else may have just moved on to the next task in the long list of tasks needed to finish the house.  But when life has gone terribly wrong, you learn to relish those moments when it goes right.

THIS is what I hold on to.

These slices of beauty and victory are treasures I tuck inside.

collect beautiful moments

 

Hidden Blessings

I’ve always been this way-careful as I walk through the woods.  I don’t remember a time when I could crash unaware of what was underfoot.

So when springtime brings the violets, I find myself zig-zagging this way and that to avoid crushing them as I go about my daily chores.

Often obscured by last year’s leaves-I can make out the vibrant purple peeking from underneath-if I’m paying attention.  

But there are plenty of folks who make it all the way through March and April without ever seeing them.

And that makes me sad.

They are so beautiful.  

I consider them a gift.

It’s easy to race through life and never take note of God’s gifts.  We get busy and distracted and overwhelmed by the need to make a living and we ignore the Lord of life.

If I am going to SEE what He’s doing, how He’s providing, where He is blessing, I have to open my eyes.

But once I do, I find that blessings pop up everywhere.  

Just like springtime violets.

violets-in-wood-not-mine

 

 

Beauty for Ashes

It crosses my mind sometimes.

And it’s a topic of conversation among bereaved mamas:

  • Why fight?
  • Why struggle on in this hard life without my beloved child?
  • Why keep on keeping on when I am so very tired?

There are lots of answers.

Some of us remain in the fight because we still have people depending on us-other children, aging parents, a spouse who is also grieving.

Others persevere because they want to honor their missing child’s memory and life and they do some big thing to commemorate him or her-fight for a cause, promote awareness, create a foundation.

Me-I hold onto the promise that in all this pain, all this sorrow, all this struggle-God is doing a work in me and through me for His glory.  

Before Dominic left us I knew only  a handful of bereaved mothers.

But each of these women had a sweet, gracious, patient, kindness that flowed out of them like water from a spring.

I saw one of them yesterday.

We hugged and exchanged knowing looks filled with deep love born from deep sorrow. She didn’t ask me about trivial things-because she knows there is really only one question that matters:

Am I continuing to lean on Jesus?

Is He enough?

Do I trust that God will redeem and restore?

Because in the end, the only thing that makes this struggle meaningful is the promise that one day, a never-ending, eternal day, God will bring beauty from the ashes of burying my child.

shofar jubilee

He will fulfill the promise of the everlasting Jubilee:

He wants me to help those in Zion who are filled with sorrow. I will put beautiful crowns on their heads in place of ashes. I will anoint them with olive oil to give them joy instead of sorrow. I will give them a spirit of praise in place of a spirit of sadness. They will be like oak trees that are strong and straight. The Lord himself will plant them in the land. That will show how glorious he is.

Isaiah 61:3 NIRV

 And I believe that God’s going to have show and tell.  He’s going to parade His persevering children to a wondering world at the end of the age.

Pottery

Maybe He’ll say something like, “See!  There’s My masterpiece!  There’s My love on display! The devil thought he had won, but he is wrong.  Eternally and undeniably wrong!”

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

Ephesians 2:10 AMP

I want to be pliable under the hand of the Potter-even though it hurts.

I’ll stay in the fire-even though it’s hot.

I’ll trust the One Who made and is making me.

Because the story God is writing for me and my family doesn’t end with ashes.

Image result for doesn't end in ashes

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