Friday, April 20, 2012

Words of strength and power and might

I arrived home in North Carolina late Wednesday night, with the classically romantic idea that all my cares would melt away in the familiar surroundings of my childhood. Home is wonderful, real food is great, and short visits and phone calls cheer me on, but I haven't really been able to enjoy it all yet... My brain weighs down heavily under lingering medication, steroids and treatments do little but make me hungry all the time, but I can't so much as lift a fork to my own mouth, and my balance is completely off, and I can't seem to stay awake for more than a few hours at a time. On top of that, my kids are so far away and I miss them... and I miss my gospel community and my sisterhood and my students who love me with a firehose.

I know the hope I need is found in Scripture and in time with my Jesus, but even that is a challenge. I sat for a long time with my Bible open the past couple days, fishing around in familiar territory for refreshment... James, 2 Corinthians, the Psalms, Romans, Philippians... trying to remind myself of truths that always lift me, but the words just swam before my eyes, and wouldn't sink in and take hold. So I turned to friends - brothers, sisters, partners in the gospel - for help. I let them know of my need, my weakness, my vulnerability right now. I couldn't pretend to be strong - I can't feed myself physically or spiritually - and I know God delights in using his family to lift each other up in times like this. So today I was truly blessed by some spoon-fed encouragement, words of truth and power, that have strengthened my heart in the best way:

"My prayer for you is that the strength of the Lord will sustain you and that the stripes that Jesus bore will heal you. I pray that your lungs will feel the might of the Lord and be able to breath as deeply as ever before, that your breath will rebuild your blood cells that need strength and you will be filled with the power that is needed to restore you to better than your previous full strength! I pray you return to the Fort ready to fight the good fight, but you have already shown that it is not by might and not by power but by His Spirit."

 "I might be able to walk around, and breathe without difficulty..... but I don't live up the standards that I should have for myself, and the standards that God has for me.  We both have a vision for something that we cannot possibly do.... but God can, and that is exciting news!  Be encouraged, you have been used powerfully in the past, and the same will happen again...  You must trust God, that He knows best, that His Will is beautiful, and His love is powerful."

"Oh How I praise our Lord Jesus who placed in her little frail body a strong heart for Himself. In so, He has promised us that for those with that kind of heart He will show Himself strong in her life."

"'I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you I always pray with joy because of your parternship in the gospel from the first day until now...and this is my prayer (for you): that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.' Know that I'm praying this over you. I love you!"

 "I don't know why God has put you in the position that you are in.    But I do know that He has put you in this position for a reason.   We are but jars of clay that God molds into the perfect vessels for His perfect work...   God has used your 'weaknesses' for such strength...   This is a remarkable thing.  Praise God.  So be at peace."

"Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." - 1 Corinthians 1:26-30

This last is the Scripture God finally was able to make stick in my heart tonight. It reminds me that He is drawn to weakness, because in it he is shown most powerful. He has created me the way he did and then chosen me for his purpose. He did not make a mistake or mix up my destiny with someone who would be stronger or more capable. He's known all along what his plan is for me, and he is not finished yet. And if I must lose more strength - if I must become weaker for his power to be evident - then there is nothing I would rather do. Let me use the energy You give me to feed others and breathe Your life into them. Let me not waste a single moment - having nothing to boast in except Christ Jesus, my righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Grafted Sisterhood

I'm guessing those of you out there who read my blog pretty regularly are pretty much family... those who have known me a while and find this the easiest way to keep up with my comings and goings. And so I am also guessing that it may come as a bit of surprise to you to meet my sisters today. How many of you knew that I come from an extensive family of two brothers and five sisters? Yes, eight of us in all. Andrew, Pam, me, Brie, the twins Kelsey and Kevan, Tall Hannah, and the baby, Small Hannah. Of course, I've had lots of adopted siblings over the years, and still the running joke is: "...And how are we related to so-and-so again?" And I love that. I love that the family of God is so much more than blood types and gene pools and that it just grows and grows without borders, like so much Southern kudzu.

In the past couple weeks, this very special family has congealed in my heart, beyond good friends and faithful companions. It started by explaining to the nursing staff why the 2-guest limit was not going to jive in my hospital room, because we come as a unit what cannot be seperated. The only real trick was to explain our red-headed Kevan, who showed up not looking anything like the rest of us. It was just a fun game, to pretend I had sisters and be a part of a big big family for a while.

But as we allowed the nurses to believe we really were sisters... as my mom treated each girl like a real daughter and part of her real family... I realized it wasn't just individual relationships with me that tied us together. The girls were treating each other like sisters too. They all fell into their roles so naturally, looking out for me and each other, playing and planning and working together. They all have their own unique personalities and specialties - calming, bossing, and complimenting each other, bringing out the best in each other, and the best in me.

We aren't adopted... we're grafted. We've got the same Father, and his love and joy and peace flows through all of us. When we are apart, we are about as different as six girls can be, but when we are together our focus, perspective and hope is the same. These days of bonding and loving and selfless living for each other and for Him I will always cherish. I love you, my grafted sisterhood.