Hope and a Pipe Stand

It was just a very full pipe stand. My first thought was how much they reminded me of my Dad…my second was, “Ewwww…that’s kinda gross…think of the mouths that have been on those!” (ever the mother) Recently I went antique shopping with a friend.  I love looking at all the beautiful things, the knick-knacks, and… Continue reading Hope and a Pipe Stand

Anybody Got The Trust Thing Down?

“You’re not my mom, Mom.” When my 6 year old said this we all chuckled a bit that while referring to me as Mom she declared me “not mom.” Lately my sweet daughter has discovered that she can wield a pretty hefty weapon against me. Unfortunately, I still haven’t figure out the proper defense. My… Continue reading Anybody Got The Trust Thing Down?

broken heart

 Broken.

One of those words that doesn’t bring a lot of joy.  Who wants to be broken? 

Broken things.

             Broken bones.

                            Broken relationships.

                                                  Broken vows.

                                                                        Broken homes.

                                                                                                Broken hearts.

I assume we are all on the same page and don’t want that word to describe much if anything in our lives.  In fact, the only phrase with broken in it that I can think of ever wanting to use is “broken fever”.

For a while I’ve tried to figure out a different word to describe my family other than broken.  Initially I thought it was just too negative. I started trying out different descriptive words.  Wounded.  Bruised.  Hurting.  Anything but broken.

I wanted to stand up and holler, “WE ARE NOT BROKEN!!!!” 

But you know what?  I believe we are.  And I’m realizing that that’s okay.

We are broken but healing.  God, the Great Physician, is fixing up all the broken parts.

A couple of things have brought me to this conclusion. 

The first was reading this verse:

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.  We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.  2 Corinthians 4:7-10

After reading that verse I looked up the meaning of “jars of clay.”  One of the definitions said that the jars of clay would have brought to mind a common household jar – probably inexpensive and fairly easy to break.  It would probably have cracks and chips from being well-used. 

There is so much to get from this verse, but the idea that struck me was that the brokenness of the jar of clay allows what’s inside to be seen – to flow out. 

The brokenness of our lives allows God to shine through us.  Oh my goodness, that sounds like some really syrupy sweet quote to post on Facebook.   Unfortunately for all of us I can’t think of a better way to say it.

I just know that when everything in my world went cablooey, God was the only explanation for why I didn’t personally go cablooey.    It was abundantly clear that the strength I had to move forward came from God and God alone – “the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.”

One of my first fears following the shattering of my marriage was that my testimony was toast.  I kept thinking of all the people that would think we were just absolute frauds.  I felt like a fraud.  Or maybe I should say I felt like I’d been defrauded.   Everyone, including me, thought we had a great marriage.  How could I speak about my relationship with God, if everyone thought I hadn’t been honest about my relationship with my husband?

But God showed me that my testimony wasn’t about what I could or couldn’t do…my testimony is what God has done and is still doing in my life.

 And He worked mightily in those days following the shattering.  He loved me and my children through our church, our homeschool community, our neighbors, and even the city where my husband had worked.  He provided for us in amazing ways.  He gave us peace and even joy in the midst of our pain and breaking.  It was HIM, all Him.

Just as light shows through or water pours out of cracks in a broken pot, Jesus shows through our brokenness.

He showed through broken vows when He gave me the strength, peace, and perspective to fight for my marriage in the face of my husband’s betrayal.  Believe me it wasn’t me.

He showed through the broken relationships caused by my husband’s actions when He gave our friends wisdom, kindness, compassion, and grace to pursue my husband and love him despite his response.

He showed through our broken home by strengthening the bond my children and I have, strengthening our faith, and gracing us with love and joy.

He showed through my broken heart when I was able to comfort with the comfort I’d been given (2 Corinthians 1:4).

I could probably think of a million more ways that God has shown through the brokenness of my life.  I’ve seen it in others too.  My friends who have or who are battling illness…the grace they have while suffering greatly.   The way my suffering friends reach out to others in their grief and pain.  The compassion I see in my children because they understand what it means to be loved by others while going through difficulties.  The love I see in those who have had their hearts broken, but are still willing to open up to love again.

So I’m thinking that maybe being broken isn’t such a bad thing. 

Especially if God is allowing the breaking…which I believe He does.  If God allows it He is going to use it.  If God allows it He is going to bring good out of it.  If God allows it He is going to bring us through it.  If God allows it He is going to be glorified! All those things are good…very good.

I really am okay being referred to as broken.  I’m not a broken woman…I’m a woman broken by the Lord so that I can be healed.  And I believe that I’m much better as a healed woman than I ever was before the breaking.  

I have a long way to go and there is a lot of brokenness that needs to be healed. 

I’m realizing this is a big topic.  One that I’m going to have to ponder more.  Because it’s one thing for me to be broken and to watch God work with me towards healing.  It is another thing all together to watch how the breaking of so much in our lives has affected my children.  That has been very very difficult for me.  I’m definitely going to have to pray about that before I share my thoughts.

I believe it’s going to be me again recognizing that I have to entrust my children to God.  I have to believe that He is working good for them in all of this too. 

A lot to pray and ponder to be sure.

Thank you so much for being willing to walk this path with me.  For being interested in my thoughts.

I pray that they have encouraged you that no matter what way we describe our families…whole, broken, wounded, healing, etc…God has us and it is good. 

final diagram verse

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  Romans 5:3-5

This morning my Bible study was on suffering.  I had a few thoughts as I realized what the day’s topic was:

Ugh.  Really? Suffering? 

What a minute…isn’t this Bible study on the book of Philippians – shouldn’t it be mostly about joy!?

Oh no!  I don’t want to study suffering…whenever I study something my life seems to mirror the topic. 

Can I opt out?

I don’t want any more character…

But I diligently went through all the verses on suffering.  They were familiar verses like Romans 8:28-30 “…for those who love God, all things work together for good…” and 2 Corinthians 4:11-18 “…this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” and 1 Peter 1:6-9 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith – more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire – may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

I really like the verses in 1 Peter.  Being a past grammar teacher (please don’t judge my grammar now…many many brain cells have died since then), I had the fleeting thought of diagramming the verses to see what modified what and all that English major geeky stuff.  Instead I decided to diagram 1 Peter 1:6-9 my own way.

It was interesting to see it all laid out visually.  I’m a consummate visual learning.  Big pictures are good for me.

So often I need big pictures, hand-written notes, and some serious concentration to understand.  Sometimes a friend will say that I’m a deep thinker…really I’m not.  Occasionally I’ll have a profound thought but if I don’t write it down immediately it’s gone…forever.

So as I’m studying today I thought I’d write down what God is showing me about suffering.

I’m in an interesting place right now.  There is no big thing causing me to suffer great amounts of pain or sorrow.  I’m living a life that is just simply challenging.  I don’t believe it’s more difficult than most nor is it easier than most.  It’s just my life.

I used be a judgmental kinda gal…in my head. I recall sitting at a Bible study listening to ladies share their prayer requests thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding?  Really, THAT’s your prayer request?!  Just wait til I share mine!”

Oh my goodness! I’m so ashamed of those thoughts.

I distinctly remember the last time I thought that.  It was during the second year of my single parenting adventure.  I was working full-time, trying to raise two toddlers, two teenagers and a middle child J and I was fried.  A sweet, sweet lady shared a prayer request that seemed so ridiculous to me…and those thoughts started.  Almost immediately I thought, “Who am I to judge how this dear friend feels about things in her life.  Just because they seem minor to me does not in any way discount how major they seem to her.”

I’m not sure what was different at that point except that God was softening my heart with all the love and grace He was pouring into my life.  I’d received so much of it that I was able to offer it…not out of the goodness of my heart but out of the overflow of His.

The suffering in my life has produced something good.  Something wonderful.  I believe that I’m becoming a more compassionate, kinder, more grace-filled woman.  It doesn’t always show but God’s working with me.  Becoming more and more that godly woman has become the desire of my heart.  I have a vision for it…for her…that woman, mother, friend, daughter, Christian I want to be.

It sounds an awful lot like the character thing that Paul mentions in Romans 5:3-5! Maybe I was wrong about wanting more character…well, I think I should probably take the word maybe out of this sentence.  I can always use more character.

Suffering = Endurance = Character = Hope

And hope.  Who doesn’t want more hope!?  I most certainly do.  Each day I’m beginning to understand more and more the hope that is mine in Christ.

In the days, months, years since my family shattered, I’ve been particularly blessed by many of the Psalms.  I especially love how they pour out their anguish, anger, and anxieties to God and then will often say things like this:

Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?  Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.  Psalm 42:5

How beautiful that God continues to bring us back to Him.  What a blessing to know that in the midst of great suffering there is hope.  Not only can we bring all the difficulties of our suffering to God, but we can trust Him to bring us through it all.

It brings to mind another verse I read this morning:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.  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.  Romans 8:26-28

Those Psalmists probably were groaning to the Lord and the Spirit was interceding for them…searching their hearts.  He interceded for them just as He does for us.  And the confidence of that intercession brought them to the same place those verses in Romans can bring us…a place of understanding that God will always work things together for good.  Thank you Father!

It isn’t just in our suffering that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us though.  I have always loved this verse:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.  Hebrews 7:25

Jesus LIVES to make intercession for us!  Lives to do it!  What!?!

Dictionary.com defines intercession like this:  “an interposing or pleading on behalf of another person; a prayer to God on behalf of another.”

Jesus lives to plead on my behalf.

Doesn’t that just blow your mind?  Not only did He live the sinless life I couldn’t, die the death I should’ve, and be raised to life again with power I can’t comprehend…He NOW lives for me!

Jesus is so all about me!

Why can’t I be all about Him?  (Argh.)

A lot of the verses I read this morning were about sharing in the sufferings of Christ, having a desire to know Christ better through His sufferings, following the example He set while suffering, and glorifying Him through our suffering.

I think being all about Christ means that I’m willing to suffer for Him, with Him, like Him.  I don’t think it means that I have a desire to suffer but rather a willingness to because it is a “gracious thing in the sight of God” (1 Peter 2:18-25) and it brings Him glory and me growth in my faith.

I write about suffering with great trepidation.  It’s not based on anything Biblical, just a fear of more suffering.  I wish I was braver.

I trust God and I know He uses it all for good, I just hate going through it.

I understand though and, like the Psalmist, I do believe that God is worthy of praise and trust even in the trials.

Studying suffering is going to be good for me.  Reminding me again that God is good even when life is bad.  That I can indeed rejoice in my suffering because I have Jesus.

Time to put the proverbial big girl pants on and get busy in the Word!

Be sober-minded; be watchful.  Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.  And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.  1 Peter 5:8-10


 

Blissfully Aware

Someone shared with me recently that if a fire fighter trips and hurts himself while trying to save you from your burning house, you can be sued…for a lot of money. I’m not sure why my friend shared that with me…well, maybe it was a subtle encouragement regarding the clutter in my home. Golly, I… Continue reading Blissfully Aware