Sunday, March 21, 2010

is there hope beyond suffering?

All I could hear was heavy breathing; heavy breathing that told me that things were not as they should be. My mom repeated the petition of her heart that God would just take him, my uncle Eugene, and alleviate him from his suffering. But all we were left with was deep, heavy breathing.

It all happened so quickly. A routine appointment for back pains brought about the news that no one was expecting: you have cancer and it has spread rapidly. Two months was all it would take, the doctor said. Two months and it would all be over, and as we listened and watched the depths of these painful events unfold, we couldn't help but feel broken and in pain ourselves.

This morning may have been the last time that my uncle will ever hear my voice. The phone was lifted to his ear, and he waited to hear me... Hi uncle Eugene, this is Shelly, and I am here for you, I said. That's all I could say, because before I knew it, the tears began to pour out from my eyes, uncontrollably, and for the first time in months, I felt something other than simply 'numb' and 'indifferent.' I felt helpless, and weak, and in need of God's strength and love more than ever.

I listened to his heavy breathing, and to his deep moans of suffering and pain, and my heart broke into pieces. Perhaps this is what God meant when He said that we are to "rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn." No words would have had the power to remove his pain, and so there I remained... weeping and praying, each deep breath reminding me that life and death are out of my control. Pain and suffering are inevitable, and that sure is an easy thing to say, that is, until you are the one who has been engulfed by it.

I don't know why this is happening, but I do know this. God is a God of LOVE and PEACE and PURPOSE. I believe it breaks His heart to see suffering as much as it breaks ours. But the beauty and reconciliation that can arise from our trials, our tears, our heartache, and our pain... that is what God is after. He is after our hearts, above all else, and like a caterpillar must struggle its way out of a cocoon before she can become a butterfly, flying and free, so must we..... struggle, and weep, and endure the suffering of this life.

Join me in praying for God's hand in the life of my uncle and for the rest of my family who is struggling to see HOPE in this trial -- especially for his daughter, my grandmother, and my mother.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

someone "gets me"

Ever feel like you just want someone to "get you?" As in, you explain how you feel about something, or what you're passionate about, but no one else quite understands? They try to understand, and they may pretend like they understand, but deep down you know there's a disconnect?

In completing Day 4 of my "90 Days with the Beloved Disciple" study, I learned something that speaks to the many times in my own life that I have grumbled those very words that 'I feel like no one gets me.' Somewhere along the line, I began to internalize the idea that the pains and struggles that I had experienced were unique only to me. "Everyone else seems so happy," I would convince myself. And when I finally began to seek healing for some of those pains and figure out what I am truly passionate about, that disconnect became even greater. Unfortunately both inside and outside of the church, the idea of giving your life to love and serve the lowly seems a bit "extreme" and what many would deem "unnecessary." I have a dear friend who explains it best when she says, "I am in a Christian community, and I have chosen to give my life to serving these inner-city kids. Most people just look at me like I am crazy, and they tell me to get a 'real job' and help out on the side. I just wish someone got me."

This morning as I was praying through these thoughts, I realized for the first time that God gets me. Revolutionary, I know. The God of the universe knows what it's like to experience pain, loss, and separation because He experienced the death of His child. Makes my pain of being separated from those I love in West Palm Beach seem a lot smaller, I suppose. The God of the universe knows what it's like to feel misunderstood, because since creation, He has been trying to get the attention of His people and speak to them about who He is. Imagine what it feels like to spend thousands of years trying to convince people that you are good and that you can be trusted. I know I would have given up a long time ago.

But God never has. The pages of His Word are filled with stories of His relentless pursuit of you and me. Ask any follower of Christ and they will tell you that God's pursuit did not stop in the first century A.D. It is alive and active today, being manifested in both the spectacular and the ordinary places.

Even if no one else in the world does, God gets you. He is personal, and devoted, and a fighter. He fights for me every single day. I'm a bit stubborn, and selfish most days, but nonetheless He continues to fight. He fought for me as a child before I acknowledged Him, and through the many many times that I have rejected Him. And now, after years of striving to follow Christ, love God, and love others... I am reminded that I am not alone. God gets me. And even if no one else in the world ever does, that can be enough for me. And of course, for you, He will fight for you. You need only to be still (Exodus 14:14).

Monday, March 1, 2010

success!

For any and all who laughed at Chris and I when we opted out of a normal Sunday routine, and even a hockey game, to put together a book-shelf, you'll be happy to know that we did so successfully. No frustrations, or mishaps, or hair pulling (just kidding).... but really, look how excited Chris is [and please ignore all the move-in mess in the background!]:


He did an amazing job putting it together, and he even let me help.... a little :)


After about two hours, here is our finished product. Quite a steal for $30 at Target.


And of course, us, happy as can be to finally be finished. I love him :)