Sunday, July 31, 2011

Absurd Grace

Jim comes home today! What more do I need to say? We are all giddy with excitement around here.

He's been away 3 weeks now. He will be home for 8 days. 8 glorious days!

The refrigerator is stocked with his favorite foods. My house is cleaned and organized - mostly. And we wait for his arrival -the sound of that distinct diesel engine rounding the corner that after 23 years, when I hear it, I confess -still makes my heart skip a bit.

I have been a partaker of unexpected blessings these past 3 weeks; touching expressions of kindness from friends who have moved in during this time to love our family. Many blessings have come from unexpected people and places - they have truly been absurd grace -blessings to me.

Thank you. You are all ministering angels-

you took my son's motorbike in for repairs;
another picked up my son's bike and delivered it to our home so he could work cherry harvest; you made time for me over a glass of wine even when you could have used your time for things more pressing;
you asked me to go for a walk and the fellowship of you - sister - was a balm to me;
you sent a message letting me know I can call on you anytime we have need;
you invited me to the lake to get me out of the house;
you encouraged my son as he fills some large shoes;
you commented;
you picked up the phone and called to say you heard... and are praying;
you checked up on us and on Jim even though you have too much on your own plate;
you understood and acknowledged our struggle and didn't just put a happy face on it.

Thank you for demonstrating Christ's love to us. Love is not silent, although many like to think it is enough to feel something deeply. But love is not a sham - it knows it only counts when it is spent. Thank you for loving us a hundred different ways.

Which brings me to my picture. If you look closely you'll see a crayon sign that reads, "Depart to Serve." This sign was placed over our mudroom door on the way to the garage; a door we use many times everyday. It was made and displayed by my husband, Jim, who wanted everyone of us in our family to remember our job - to serve.

If I could say one thing about my dear hubby it would be that he is a man who knows how to serve.

I just love him.

And in this way, we have been loved - by so many who know us and who are the beloved. Thank you for serving - because in order to really love it must cost something. When we serve others in Christ, our hearts expand.

We are only filled when we are most emptied.

It is a gloriously absurd exchange.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Long Road Home

It was still dark when we awoke, neither of us wanting to move. I grabbed his hand and he whispered for me to go back to sleep, but of course, I wouldn't.

On very rare occasions (and I stress very rare) I have been blessed with being able to see "defining" moments beforehand. Usually I see them after they've past and realized I've screwed them up. More often though, I see them, recognize them for what they are, and still screw them up.

Today I recognized the moment as we walked it together.

We poured strong coffee and sat on the couch and prayed.

We've talked about this for several weeks- months, really. But when it happened it happened quickly.

Our year has been a year of hard things. Hard things to receive because in order to receive we must first be emptied.

Being emptied is never a fun process.

The truck, loaded with tools, maps for three states, and some personal items will carry this man I love to a place where there is work. It is mid-summer; our last summer with our oldest daughter before she leaves for college in England. We imagined our last summer with her differently.

The weeks building up to this have been harder on Jim than I imagined they would be. For him, leaving is harder than for others, of that I am certain. I know it rips his heart out because I see it on his face.

I cannot meet his eyes.

God is good to make sure only one of us is discouraged at a time.

I have been strong, until today. Today I am not, but I do not let him know because it is hard enough. And he already knows me well enough to know what I do not need to say.

There is good work in North Dakota. We have talked about this for over a year; not seriously though - until recently. The last 2 weeks required us to look seriously at this option. We prayed for work, and this arrived, when nothing else did.

There is much to be thankful for. This is work, after all, I remind myself. I hold back because I know my heart is tempted to not be thankful. This - giving thanks for this - is our defining moment.

Giving thanks for where this may lead is harder.

We both know there is work - long term work- in North Dakota. Jim will be gone a few weeks, but we know this is a precursor to something that would require him to live there and to make a commitment to stay on for a year, or more.

When I look down that road - I am not strong. The words hiss in my head - I know deep down I am only good with him and I am afraid of this road. I am afraid of raising our kids while he is not here. I am afraid of living needy, without any family here to depend on. I worry - what if I must face another year like I had and have no one with skin on to love me at the end of the day? What if my car engine light comes on, or a sprinkler breaks or what if we have mice and I have to deal with that???

I confess, today it is hard for me to see the blessing, although I know it is here.

Then I remember, there is grace for today. I remember to unclench my fist, to breathe and I give thanks for this manna. This, literally translated, "what is it?" I do not easily recognize this bread.

Oh, but I do know the Giver.

If this is His gift, how can it be bad?

I am a firestorm today, wrestling for this grace and clinging to it for all I've got. I feel the serpent's stranglehold release;


the only anti-venom for hard graces, spurts through my veins and I know I have struggled to learn this.

One day it will course,

but today it spurts.