GRATEFUL

IMG_9910.JPGI am so grateful for life.  Life is hard – so very hard – but I am thankful for life.  Little things can make it so worth the pain…

a little smile when the day has been long
or a soft but definite ‘hello’ when you’re feeling alone

a helpful hand when you’re tired
a glass of water when you’re thirsty

a drop of rain on a very hot day
or a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day

a plate of cookies when you think you’ve been forgotten
a bouquet of flowers left on your doorstep

a remembrance of your favorite verse at just the right time
and the sound of a child’s innocent giggle

the sound of a river rushing to the ocean
or a creek as it finds its way through the hills

the feeling inside when you finally finish
and the excitement of finally beginning

the shapes and colors of each different rose
and the thorns that protect each one

the way a caterpillar waddles up a stem
curls up tight and comes out a beautiful butterfly

a father playing with his children
and enjoying it more than his children

Isn’t it funny how life seems so hard and yet, when you dwell on the good things, life is still hard but it isn’t so overwhelming, after all?

Running Into His Arms

IMG_7318.JPGWhen my son was born, until the age of almost three, he had constant ear infections. After the third or fourth time, it became easier to identify that another was coming on and I could get him to the doctor before it became too painful. Most of the time.

I do recall one experience, having that motherly instinct of knowing he was getting another and taking him in to the doctor. His regular doctor was out and another doctor saw him. He assured me after checking him briefly that there was no cause for worry. I wanted to assure him that I was most certain he was wrong.

At twelve o’clock that night, my son woke up screaming, his ear filled with pain. I did everything I could to help him. I gave him Tylenol. I held him. I rocked him. I cried with him. He screamed in pain until morning.

A few weeks ago, I had an ear infection. It began with a gradual achiness followed by intense pain and pressure for about five days, at which time I felt it was going to burst and to be quite honest, I almost wanted it to just to relieve the pain and the pressure.

No one ever gave me Tylenol. No one held or rocked me or saw me crying in the dark when I could not sleep because the pain was so intense, but then, they did not know because I was not crying out in agony.

This is what I learned…

When my son, at the age of two, was in pain, he writhed in discomfort and screamed for release from the grip of his ear infection. Oh how I wanted to comfort him and hold him tight so that he knew he was not alone. I rocked him to try to soothe him and as I held him closely, I cried with him, wanting badly to be able to take his pain away.

When I was in pain a few weeks ago, for the most part, I kept it inside. No one else needed to hear how much it really hurt. No one could rock me and comfort me and it made me think… Isn’t that what God wants us to do with him? Yet, we try to keep the pain in our lives and the heartache we experience hidden deep inside, when all the while He is waiting for us to cry out to Him for help.

A friend was saying that another of her friends was not going to be able to do an event that they had planned for this year. She said the other person had been having some recent struggles and had to cancel. Then she withdrew and ‘disappeared’ (not literally) from her network of friends. My friend made a comment that went something like this: “I’ve told her there’s still a spot for her on the team, but she’s got to walk through the door.”

I liked that.

Do I sit and suffer, failing to run through the door crying out to God for relief? The only One who can truly subside the pain? Do I writhe in pain when it hurts so bad inside that I think I cannot tolerate it for another minute or do I run quickly, first, to the One whose arms are always open wide and waiting? The pain of life can come in a foreclosure on the only home you have known. A divorce. An illness. The loss of a loved one. You lose your job. The list goes on.

Sometimes that is the only thing we can and should do. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. To become like a child and run into the arms God and just let Him hold you and rock you. Let Him soothe you and wipe the tears as He wraps you safely in His arms.

He is waiting to love you. Are you ready to be loved as only He can do? Then… Run!

Why I Wear A Cross

  
I went into the Fast-Fix jewelry store and had the chain for my gold cross necklace fixed the other day. It’s only taken me a mere 25 years to do it but alas, it is finished. Those were Christ’s words as he hung from the cross, giving up mortality for immortality, death for life, a sin scarred body for the sins of man. Before they tested the color of his blood by the piercing of his flesh, he uttered, “It is finished.”

His work on earth accomplished.

His body removed from the cross and laid to rest.

The sins of man soon to be silenced by his descent into darkness.

His ressurection made known by the glory His return.

Finished.

Everything’s completed. All we had to do was praise Him for his promise kept and to come and yet, instead, we left Him on the cross.

Looking at my necklace as the clerk ran my debit card, I smiled at how it sparkled. Even others, within the first couple days of wearing it again after 25 years, made comments about how pretty and shiny it was. Within days I was back to rubbing it between my fingers every now and again. Not out of habit or unintentionally, as you see some women do, but with intention. Because every now and again throughout the day, I am reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for me by hanging on a cross. A rugged, splintery, dirty cross that didn’t sparkle and no one called it pretty. 

But it was a cross. And as he prepared to hang there, he suffered more than we can ever comprehend… 

He suffered the betrayal from those who called him friend and found healing through his hands no less than 24 hours before.

He suffered mocking from those who were serving Rome by persecuting him.

He suffered embarrassment and shame when asked to disrobe prior to his ill-imposed punishment.

He suffered bullying when the soldiers made a crown out of thorns and abrasively shoved it onto his head, causing stinging pain when that crown pierced through his flesh, their laughter echoing up to the halls of heaven.

He suffered searing pain being flogged — struck on his flesh with a whip that tore and peeled his flesh by the sharp metal or bone pieces inserted  into its leather strap — at least forty times.

He suffered exhaustion carrying his cross.

He suffered an agony known of throughout history but suffered by few, as nails were pounded through the dusty and bloodstained flesh of his hands and feet.

He suffered traumatic discomfort as his body, lying upon two weighty lengths of timber, was raised from the ground and with a jolt, causing every scratch, every scrape, every open wound to throb anew.

 As the sun beat upon him, He suffered a ‘chronic’ pain as the clothes given back to him, (which would later be gambled upon for ownership), rubbed against his backside.

He suffered abandonment as he cried out, “God, why have you forsaken me?

He suffered ridicule when the guards taunted him with vinegar for water.

He suffered the heat of the day as he took one last breath and uttered, “It is finished.”
It is finished

No more pain. No more suffering. Then taken down from the cross off suffering, he was laid in a tomb.

It is finished. 

Some have argued that Jesus is no longer on the cross so why not “take that cross off from around your neck.” “It’s an idol.'” “It’s superstitious.” 

I don’t agree. Yes, He’s gone. To the grave and back and beyond.  But, I don’t idolize the cross and  I’m not superstitious. But I will wear it. Proudly.  I will take it in my hand throughout the day and remember…

He suffered for me.  It was an ill-imposed  punishment because it should have been me on that cross. He was sinless. I am not. He made a way to bring me back into fellowhsip with my heavenly Father. And a wear  agold cross to remind me of just that.

Blooming Where I've Been Planted