Finding grace in the gaps

For 358 days of the year, I am a mostly responsible adult.  Then, day 359 sweeps in to hinder my momentum.

I wake up feeling a pit of anxiety in my tummy.  “Stay in bed”, it says.  “Nothing good is coming of this day.”

I get up anyway.

The kids, however.  Not so much.  They are still in summer break mode.  But band camp starts today. My teenager is in Mexico.  The youngest is spending her day with Grandma.  I have to leave town by eight.

But they sleep anyway.

And so goes the pace of my week.  I pull into work, send a poorly timed text to hubby which results in my son being late to his first day of band camp.  (They finally got up). My new regional made an appearance at work.  (Thank God I did my hair today). Yet I was unprepared for the visit.  Our ability to communicate is  hindered by the nerves of new relationship.  Instead of appearing competent and capable, I did my best impersonation of Ellie Mae from the cornfields.

Tuesday was spent in fast paced preparation for my half day Wednesday.  You know, school registration.

This mommy of the year registered her 2nd grader back into 1st. Might be why they couldn’t find her paperwork from last year. Please don’t judge. This is my reality.

Thursday closes the week with a big finish.  My well kept sales program is completely wiped clean from all past, present and future activities.

What am I doing today?  Only cyberspace knows.

So I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world.

Ecc. 2:20

Have you had this kind of week before?

Day 359 reminds me I need grace to fill my gaps.  I can’t control my world on my own.  It’s almost as if God allows everything to fall apart as a reminder that I need him to be the glue to hold everything together.

Daily, I need to ask for an eagerness for him instead of ________(money, recognition, pride, ego).  Depart from the mediocre and seek life through his word.  Seek assurance in his promise made to those who fear him.

My worth is not measured by the worst of my days.  Restoration only occurs when I return to my rescuer.  Jesus fills my gaps with grace and assures my footing for the rocky road ahead. He is my source of wisdom and strength when everything else seems to fail.

Lord, perfect your power in my weakness.

Position my eyes upon your face.

Point my heart to your truth.

Permit your promises to manifest in my life.

Redeem even the most rotten of my days.

Amen.

 

Memorial Day. A day to remember.

He’s leaving today.

I crack my eyes to let in the predawn light.   My stomach feels nauseous.  I should have gotten up earlier.  We won’t have much time left to spend as a family before he takes off.  Now, where is he going again?  How long will he be gone?

It really doesn’t matter.  The hard part is always saying goodbye as I transition my family into waiting well for his return home.  I hate saying goodbye.  It really should get easier as time goes on.  But it doesn’t.  Now, I find myself going through the stages of grief even when he is just going away for a weekend with his buds.  I don’t tell him though.  I don’t want him to feel guilty.  I don’t want him to carry the weight of a needy wife in the midst of all the other responsibility he faces.

I stretch my arms as the breeze from the window hits my face.  I look over to the alarm.  Shoot, my son has dojo in 45 minutes.  Wait.  Dojo?

“Ugh.  I just had a dream that you had to leave for guard today.” I say as I roll over to cuddle into him.

“I do.  Just don’t trip over the bags when you get outta bed.” He replies.

I poke him in the ribs.  Hard. He has it coming.  He has been out for nearly a year but the emotions are still very real.

It’s Memorial Day.

I take a moment to count my blessings that I have my husband to joke with today because this is not the story for so many.

Somewhere, a woman rolled over this morning to reach for her husband and he wasn’t there.  Or, he was, but emotionally, he is still fighting a battle in a land she will never know, nor never visit.  A place in the life of her soldier will that will remain detached from her reality.  He fights a darkness that she cannot begin to understand.  She is hopeless to intercede.  But she loves him anyway.

Through outbursts of unexplained anger.  Night terrors.  Paranoid and cynical behavior.  She knows he’s healing. She wonders if there are any other steps she should take.  She prays for a glimpse of the man her soldier was before war.

She wonders when he is going to stop taking chances with his life to drive the adrenaline he has become addicted too.

She wonders when she will be enough to fill the void his life is missing.

Days like today are hard. They drudge up memories long buried .  They revive emotions that are impossible to understand for those who have not gone and seen realities of war because we chose to stay at home.  But, we’re here now.

What can we do with all of this?

Pray.  For those whose soldier aren’t returning home.  For peace, protection and provision in their road ahead.  Pray for the soldier who is still trying to find his way, even in the safety of home.  For resolution. For peace.  For an encounter with the love, grace and mercy of a mighty God.

Be a willing listener, but don’t push for answers. Be available to listen without judgement.  I don’t know what you’ve seen and  I don’t know what you’ve done but I’m here and I care for you.  Nothing you can say will change that.

Keep it confidential.  It’s not your story to share.

Love unconditionally.  There is a price for freedom.  The number one goal of our soldiers is to bring everyone home alive.  Sometimes that happens at the expense of a soldiers moral code. Sometimes, lives are lost.  Regardless, the price is high.  Too high for some, even when they return home.  The number of soldiers taking their own lives after returning home is at an epidemic high. And unnecessary. It’s something we can no longer ignore.

Today, let’s not forget.  Let’s check in.  Let us shower those who have lost their soldier with love and support.  Let’s remind soldiers who are still fighting the battle that they are not alone.

 

If you know a military family in need of support, check out military one source .

 PTSD is taking our soldiers at an alarming rate. 1 military service member and 22 veterans per day.   Please consider joining my friend’s battle for awareness at  Valhalla can wait. You’re likes and shares will send the message to our troops that they are not alone.

 

 

Despite all evidence surrounding you; you’re not alone.

How pathetic am I?

It’s my only thought as I sit on an acute care bed with a nebulizer treatment hard at work and a throbbing pain in my right lower back, courtesy of the steroid shot I had just received for an exacerbated asthma condition.

Apparently, I am more allergic to Tennessee than my home state of Illinois.

After fighting a nagging cough for most of the night, I navigated a confusing stretch of roads through the pouring rain to find an urgent care in Nashville.

Here I sit.

Alone.

Fighting back tears.

Wanting someone to come along side me and say, “It’s okay. We’ll get this squared away and you’ll be good to go.”  I full well knew I just needed to pull up my big girl pants and deal with it.  I mean, this is just a glorified Doctor visit.

Yet, in midst of my pity party, I  just wanted the familiarity of home.  Someone to text.  Someone just to talk to in that moment.  I’m in Nashville for 12 hours and I already have the lyrics for my first country song.

In that bright blue room, on that hard uncomfortable bed, I prayed for God to enlighten me with peace and wisdom in that moment.  For the strength not to break down in tears.  My P.A. and Nurse were both men.  I didn’t want to add embarrassment and awkwardness to my list of pathetic.

I prayed for his word to come alive in my heart.  I prayed for God to reveal his presence.  Despite the circumstances, I am not alone.  I know that with my head yet in that moment I cannot make it resonate with my heart.

Loneliness is a common emotion believers often experience.  You don’t have to think very hard to recall stories of God’s people facing isolation and grief.  For me it comes in the most mundane situations:

In daily household chores and never-ending responsibilities.

At a table of virtual strangers in which you have little to nothing in common with.

In the midst of a long, sleepless night.

Walking through the process of pursuing a calling that God has placed on your heart.

How about you?  Can you relate?

As I prayed, Hagar came to my mind.  She was Sarai’s maid given the task of procreating with Abram in order to provide an heir.  (Did she get hazard pay for that?)  When Hagar found out she was expecting and the plan had succeeded, Hagar began to treat Sarai with disrespect.  Abram gave Sarai permission to deal with Hagar in whatever manner she chose.  Sarai chose to mistreat Hagar and Hagar fled from Sarai.

She finds herself sitting at a spring in the desert.  Can you imagine how she is feeling as the hot sun beats down? Lost.  Lonely.  Dejected.  Just needing wisdom for the next step.

In those moments, an angel appears to her at that very spring.  He tells her to go back to her mistress and submit to her.  He gives her a glimpse of the man she bears within her.  He blesses her with future children.

“You are the God who see’s me,” for she said, “I have seen the one who see’s me.”

God. See’s. Me.

God. See’s. You.

Whether sitting at a spring in the desert, a carpool line or an acute care room in Nashville, Tennessee.  God see’s me. God see’s you.

It’s in those moments of abandon that:

God reveals his presence.

He bears the wisdom and resources you need for the moment.

He blesses you when you walk in obedience to the command he has laid on your heart.

“Be strong and courageous”, became the mantra of my heart that day. “For the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.”

Do not be afraid.

Do not be discouraged.

Despite the evidence surrounding you, You are not alone.

 

The Prayer Tree

Pause.  A unique and wonderful evening of prayer that is hosted by our Aspire women’s ministry at my home church.  A chance to sit quietly, remove yourself from reality and seek the voice of God.  My week has been so chaotic that it took a while to quiet myself and connect with the leading of the holy spirit.  I went station to station.  I confessed harsh feelings I held toward others.  I prayed for those persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs.  I wrote a sin that I have been harboring guilt over in a little tub of sand and wiped it away, just as Jesus promises to do when I repent of my sin to him.  After spending considerable time with my worry rope, I wondered over to the prayer tree.  The station assignment was to write a prayer in my heart on a leaf and hang it.  Then, spend some time reading the prayers of the other women left behind.  I was overwhelmed by the weight of the requests:

Restore my family

Help me to be a better mom

Help me find relief from my finances. I’m doing everything I can.

Obedience

Pray for my sister who is fighting cancer

My daily relationship with God

Heroine addiction recovery

I received news of a life threatening illness- healing

Lord, have mercy.  This all sounds so familiar, doesn’t it?  No request was named, but God knows every face.  He knows every name.  He knows every intimate detail of the life represented by each and every leaf.  I prayed over several but the need was so great, I just looked up to God and appealed to him on behalf of each and every one of my sisters.  The energy of the request flowed through me.  It was as if I could feel God charging toward each need, ready to respond in his own unique way. It was a humbling way to apply the teaching James gives us:

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.   (James 5:16)

It takes courage to admit where we are struggling.  Even just writing the words admitting our deepest fears, shame and weakness on an anonymous piece of paper at a prayer event can be overwhelming.  But in that moment of confession, each woman received a prayer warrior to come along side of her.  We are instructed in Hebrews 4:16 to come boldly to the throne of grace. When I think of boldness, I picture confidence and assurance.  Expectation of results.  And what should we expect at the throne?   There, we will receive mercy.  There we will find the grace to help us when we need it most.

Is there something we can pray for you? Please leave your request. And, if you don’t mind, leave a word of hope and encouragement behind to another sister who might need to hear it. As evidenced by the prayer tree, we all have something we need to boldly approach the throne with. Let’s make this a safe place to do that.

 

Let us come boldy to the throne of our

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