real miracles

i wrote my last post when i was a little bit sad (just a bit? maybe a tad more than a bit?)

i don’t always feel that way. i’m pleasantly optimistic on some (like today).

but it got me wondering-

i know God is good.

i know God can do any sort of miracle He likes.

i know God is Sovereign and in control.

i know all of this, and i know that God could heal me so easily, if it was His will.

the hard part for me to swallow is He might not.

and i do my best to try and convince myself that it’s okay. 

i know that it would be this big, incredible miracle for God to heal my sight. that He could make it as big and miraculous and attention-getting as He wanted to. or He could make it small and mundane, and it would just be and no one would really know the difference except for me.

but maybe that’s not the point? maybe the bigger miracle – the real miracle – in all of this wouldn’t be for me to see with my eyes but for me to let it go. for me to surrender it all, including my bitterness and anger and fear and frustration and all those words a Christian girl like me shouldn’t be saying, let alone thinking. 

if you’ve ever tried to change something about yourself, like get rid of a bad habit, you’ll know exactly what i mean when i say it’s hard. which led me to thinking that maybe the real miracle here wouldn’t be if God healed my eyes, but if He healed my heart and brought me to a place of gratitude and joy because some days it seems more likely that  i’d go blind and God would heal me and Tim Tebow would hear about my miraculous recovery and we’d get married than it would for me to just be okay with it.

maybe that’s all it is – a small miracle to most, but one that would make the biggest difference to my life.

but i’ll still take Tim Tebow either way. 

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may the blind man see

it’s funny but a few days ago i was just thinking about how i used to cry a lot. a year ago i thought i was doing well because i only cried about once a month. (PMS, anyone?)

i was reflecting on the past year. all of its changes. all of them good. someone had mentioned to me that they had noticed how much i had changed in this past year. (praise the Lord for that.)

i realized that i never really cry now, because i just haven’t been heartbroken. i have been healed and made new, and i have been insecure and i have asked questions, but i have not felt shattered and broken. i have felt WHOLE. (God is so good, isn’t He?)

it’s funny because, silly me, i spoke far too soon. it’s funny that just days ago i was reflecting on this and now for 3 (going on 4) days i have done very little else but cry.

i feel the tears well up and i am heartbroken again but most of all i am angry, and remember that i mentioned earlier that when i am angry it’s because i’m afraid? i have never been more afraid in my life.

it’s the kind of bad news that hits you in a doctor’s office (the smell of which makes me nauseous) and i feel so silly because i know it is so small compared to others.

it’s the kind of heartbreak that comes with the confession that i would rather be dead than be blind, because right now i can’t possibly imagine what sort of life there might be for me if i can’t see.

it’ the kind of shame that comes with doubt because i tell God that i am angry, and haven’t i lost enough already? what is there left for a girl to love when she can’t see and experience the very things she loves so much?

how on EARTH does a woman be a lawyer if she doesn’t have the eyes to see the words on paper that she NEEDS TO KNOW so she can argue in court to help another person put their life back together?

i have read 140 books this year. i have read my Bible every day for months (the first time in my life). and now i am told that the surgery didn’t work and the medication isn’t helping, so i have to do it all over again in hopes that it might work this time, but if nothing works then i will lose my sight and i will never see words on a page.

goodbye 5 am sunrises.

and i am selfish, because that surgery hurts and the medication stings and did i mention that NONE OF IT IS WORKING.

i know that there are others hurting more than this, but my pain is raw and it is real.

i am ashamed of how much i have thought of myself these past few days.

in John 9, Jesus heals a blind man. interesting how many blind men Christ healed, isn’t it?

but at the end of that chapter, He talks about spiritual blindness.

i am still afraid. i am still hurt.

but i pray, Lord may i pray every hour of every day, that You will heal me of my spiritual blindness. that i may SEE through all of this.

forgotten children

during this past American election, i had a few people remark to me that they were surprised how little i seemed to care about it. and how little i had to say on it.

the truth? i adore politics. it fascinates me, frustrates me, and makes me dream and wonder. it makes my heart beat faster. but i do my best to ignore American politics simply because it typically just makes me angry.

i can’t stand the misinformation (which always exists, but just seems worse when it comes to American politics). i can’t stand the hate (see above). it breaks my heart a little to see something so beautiful and blessed misused again and again.

but this year, i also did a good amount of personal soul-searching. i questioned myself and my beliefs, determined to stretch them even further. my values didn’t change, much. but it did help me to reflect on other issues.

i can’t tell you how many times i heard abortion brought up in a conversation these past few months. and ask those closest to me, who have patiently sat through my rants, but i’m truly about as pro-life as you get. please don’t confuse this with “anti-choice” or anti-women’s rights. it’s not the same. there’s a hierarchy of priorities and i’m also extremely passionate about women’s rights but life just wins out for me.

i’m not ashamed of what i believe. i’m not afraid to be open about it and share.

and i am so glad to see others willing to do the same- i think open discussion is good and beneficial. (i really don’t believe in censorship, but that’s another matter altogether.)

but lately i’ve been wondering how lost we are. how lost i am.

we cry out (loudly) against abortion. we weep and become bitter when we lose and worry about our future. (again, another matter here.)

and do not doubt for a minute that my heart isn’t breaking for those unborn babies who seem so forgotten in times like these.

but oh Church – beautiful bride of Christ – how often do we forget those OTHER forgotten children?

thousands of orphans in the world and we buy coffee daily. we spend too much on Christmas and must have a house and must have a pet to love and must have some nice clothes and must have some good food and must have books (oh, i’m so ashamed of my excess here). we must have lovely buildings to attend church services in, and we must have new boots for fall and we must have hair dye. and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

all of this in a world of hungry orphans. children, hungry for food. hungry for a home. hungry for parents and hungry for love. we fill a shoebox once a year and send it off, patting ourselves on the back for a job well done.

we bemoan spending more than $5 on said shoebox. because don’t we need that $5 for ourselves?

we cry out for the oppressed unborn children. we turn out backs on those born children, living worlds away from us because we’re too comfortable.

how can anyone in the world expect to see Jesus in us when this is how we act? we don’t set ourselves apart. we are selfish and proud and willfully ignorant. we don’t do our part. no wonder we aren’t listened to in the political arena. we fail to live it out in our day-to-day lives. we think all we have to give is a vote for a man who says he doesn’t support abortion. but we can’t sacrifice anything for those children living and breathing every day with less in their entire lives than we have in a single day.

in this way, i’m guilty as charged my friends. i’ve been a hypocrite for too long.

because words hurt

the knowledge of how deeply another’s words to me can sting is a truth i often forget until it hits me all over again.

have you ever felt anything more painful and shattering? years may have passed but i can still vividly remember, in painful detail, things that were said to me YEARS AGO.

oh sure. we learn to forgive. and some times we even successfully let go. but some times 4 tiny, little words come back to haunt us at the most inconvenient times.

i felt that this past weekend. my heart felt like it was crumbling into dust.

and the thing about me? when i am hurt, i lash out in bitter anger. my darkest, most shameful moments are those when i am deeply hurting myself. the truth is i am very rarely angry – you can typically tell when i am, because i’ve become much better at channelling those emotions. i run farther and faster than i ever have before when i’m angry.

but when i’m hurt? when i feel like every inch of my 5″4 height has been torn down to the ground? THAT is when i look like i’m angry. but i’m not.

i have never really figured out how to express sadness and heartbreak. it’s something i have struggled with my entire life.

and in moments when i yell things that should never be said, to the one person i love most, and her door is slamming in my face and her eyes are glossy with tears – that’s when i know i’ve gone too far.

and i feel smaller than ever.

because i know how she feels. i know what it’s like to have someone you love interrupt you mid-story to tell you that they really don’t care about what you have to say, that they’re not interested in the least. blunt. sharp and straight to my heart.

i know what it’s like to have those people pick apart your words and actions and leave you wondering if there’s anything good left in you at all or whether it’s all just the ugliness they see.

to be so proud of something and have it left in shreds and tattered pieces because it just wasn’t enough for them.

i say i really know all of this, but if it’s true that i do, why on earth would i ever act the same way? how is it that i can be on the other end of a sharp tongue and use my own like a sword against those i love?

and the Bible shares so much with us on this subject.

this is a fantastic lock screen/background from the She Reads Truth community – it is such a blessing to be a part of a group of women reading through God’s Word together and i really appreciate the free images for Bible memory they share!

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. ~ Ephesians 4:29 (this one became my new background on my iPod last night – a perfect reminder)

Some people make cutting remarks,
    but the words of the wise bring healing. ~ Proverbs 12:18

Take control of what I say, O Lord,
    and guard my lips. ~ Psalm 141:3

Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.

3 We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. 4 And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. 5 In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.

But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. 6 And the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.

7 People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, 8 but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. 9 Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. 10 And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! ~ James 3:2-10

at times, i convince myself that i’m a victim but i think the truth is that i’m much of the problem.

how much more could i give if i learned to listen instead, and learn to recognize if those with the sharpest words are those with the deepest hurts?

a note to a stranger

(if you haven’t realized before how creepy i can be at times, this will prove it.)

i’m a people-watcher. you can blame my gramma for that one. i completely blame her for this habit.

just know this, if we’re sitting across from each other on the subway, i am FASCINATED by you.

dear stranger,

i am forever wondering what sort of day you’re having today;

i hope it’s a good one. i worry that you look a little sad.

i’m nosy and want to know what book it is you’re reading.

do you like it? would you rather you were doing something else right now?

i wonder if you know each and every little way you’re beautiful; try this out some time, and just take a look at all the different ways people are uniquely beautiful.

because your lashes are long and gorgeous, and you have shy eyes but i think it’s sweet and you have hands that look strong enough to lift someone else up when they’ve fallen down.

and your hair is perpetually a little bit messy at the back, like it’s always going to be a bit mussed up.

not like i pay too much attention or anything.

i wonder if people are busy; where are they rushing off to? are they as late as i am right now?

but you- you’re never in a hurry. you walk slow and steady and you look around, and the only time your eyes aren’t shy are when they’re on the other side of the room meeting mine.

you know, it’s kinda funny but you can learn a lot about a person just from watching. and not even in an odd way, because sometimes you show a lot more in public than you think you do.

did you know you kind of snore a little bit? just a tad. normally snoring drives me crazy, but you’re very quiet and it’s only if i’m sitting right by you that i can hear it and you look so peaceful and vulnerable at the time.

sincerely,

me (that creepy girl who is always staring at someone)

a bitter heart

you know those deep, dark little secrets you hide away buried deep within your heart?
you can admit it. i have them, too.

they’re a burden we force ourselves to carry, all alone. ashamed & lonely, if you are like this then know that i am too. but i’ll tell you mine.

because this, friends, is a lie and i need to confront it and call it exactly what it is.

at an age just shy of 22, i am by no means ancient or past my prime. please, do not try to share perspective with me by assuring me there are plenty of women older than me in the same position. i believe you mean well, and i know that i’m not alone in this. but i don’t want my confusion or pain to be shoved aside with a quick reply to solve all my problems.

(and for what it’s worth, neither does telling me i’m still a “baby” sit right with me. i’m younger than you, yes, but what difference does 3 or 4 years make right now?)

i should preface this with the reassurance that most days, i am fine. honest. it is becoming more and more rare these days that i am restless and utterly impatient. but i have my days weeks moments.

i believe God desires for me to be married… some day. why? i believe the desire to be married can be a godly one (Genesis 2:18), like many others i long for that sort of companionship and to learn now what it means for me to be a helper and to life another up in love, and i have a strong, strong conviction to adopt. i believe God is good and faithful and that He cares for me at all times.

but doubt, such a faithless friend, sets in again.

i see many others who share this godly desire and are waiting upon the Lord to answer their prayers… and they wait. for years. i would be lying if i said that my heart doesn’t wince at the thought.

oh, that You would give me a patient heart overflowing with joy.

and though i desire to be a wife who can encourage and love her husband, i sometimes wonder if i even have anything to offer. God transforms, yes, and i am shattered at the knowledge of the ways He has changed me. but i am petrified that there is nothing left of me to give to someone. and for all i believe godly men are out there, i can’t fathom that any could see me as anything but settling.

how is it that i so often fail to see how my fears are an exact portrait of Your unconditional love for us? that the Almight God would claim Israel as His people, long after they had wandered so far and returned scarred, empty, with no guarantee of permanent change.

this is the heart of it; my dirty little secret. that i forever feel like i am nowhere near good enough to deserve any of it –

have i even heard of the word grace? have i begun to understand what it means for my life?

i regularly picture love as something i deserve or earn –

but nothing could be further from the Truth.

i’m petrified that i have wandered too far, and that it’s already too late for me.

and then i read Hosea.

my heart breaks. but now when it is breaking, i don’t let it stiffen and harden into bitter remnants. i carry it to my Saviour’s cross and bring myself before my Father.

may God give me…

blessed am i among women.

i am blessed beyond all measure – but has that ever stopped me from wanting more? from wanting what i do not have?

i used to some times wonder if there was something wrong with me, something desperately broken inside of me. (two parents diagnosed with bipolar disorder will do that to you.)

i have always felt things so intensely, and as i got older and it never quite went away my fear only grew. i finally had to ask if there was something wrong with me.

praise God for two people in my life who at that point recognized my fear and drew me closer and reassured me that i was fine. i had convinced myself that feeling anything at all was a symptom of sickness, that i had to be numb to be strong, that i had to be at ease to be normal.

my heart beats and with every pound i feel blood flooding my veins and i ache and i break inside- and if you’re anything at all like me, you’ll relate and know exactly what i mean.

i am torn up for people hurting, i am longing to do something more my past, and i have pushed that aside for so long because i was sure it wasn’t right. these two lovely people then told me when passion means, and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of if i just seem to feel things more intensely than those around me (or at least, than they let on).

i am convinced that God has touched my heart lately, as my Father lays a burden on my chest and i wait for answers to my prayers as to what it means.

lead me, Lord. may my feet only pursue you.

but if i am being completely honest, my heart is longing.

i long for lives to pour myself into. to literally empty myself until i am devoid of my me-ness, and i have filled up those around me.

prayers that they are not lonely, that they are not falling apart without You, that i would be sensitive to their needs, that my God would bless me and that i would be so fortunate as to have my own to care for, to nurture.

Tiny Hands

there are times when life gets busy. i feel overwhelmed by the piles of laundry i have to do (because i’m out of socks, and don’t feel like running without sucks. i like my feet blister-free, thank you very much). the amount of reading in my textbooks is daunting. i should go for a run – and do some yoga – i NEED this. and don’t forget to read from Philippians this morning.

and if i’m lucky, i’ll squeeze some food in there.

i have a close friend who has chosen this year to make Sunday her day of rest. no work. just living. can you even imagine that? i spent Sunday at church, at a potluck, at Costco, doing homework for hours, and laundry. where is the time for rest?

my God is good, He always provides for me. i may not have spent the whole day resting in God’s peace, but He did deliver.

instead, i found rest in tiny hands gripping mine at church, and toothy smiles as laughter bubbles forth. at lunch i found myself surrounded by friends and children, and i have to confess that there is very little i love more than children. they are such a blessing and a breath of fresh air.

i love the way they smile at silliness and play along, begging for more. their big, expectant eyes and long lashes and tiny hands to hold yours. they talk quickly and babble and half the time i have no idea what they’re saying but i can’t help but laugh.

you know how it feels when your stomach hurts from laughing so hard with good friends? my SOUL hurt like that yesterday. every inch of me felt joyful and free. for a few moments spent without burdening thoughts of what needs to be done.

i firmly believe that small blessings are the best.

The Blessing of Weakness

This week has been hard.

It has left me wondering who & where to turn to. Scrambling for some sort of life preserver to hold me up just a little bit longer.

And while I’m still struggling, and I’m sure I will be for a while longer… my eyes have been opened to something beautiful in all of this.

I am so thankful for a best friend who listens, who hears me out, who knows my secrets, and gets my fears.

And I am so thankful for a cousin I call friend, who is grounded in the Word and willing to phone me at 1 a.m. to pray with me, or at least just send me a verse from Scripture.

I told him I needed prayer; I told him this was my weak area and I needed help.

He sent me this:

Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

This verse is from the passage where Paul is talking about the thorn in his flesh. Do you know what verse 8 says?

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.

I’ve asked God that 3 times this week.

Oh Lord, you know how weak I am. I am tired and I am worn out and I am on my knees in tears; I am BEGGING you, please do not make me deal with this. This is the last thing in the WORLD I want to go through, and I just don’t know what to do.

God, I don’t want to feel this way. I can’t handle this. Would You take this away from me?

Exactly three times. I’ve been an emotional wreck, and I am literally feeling sick over it. And then I read 2 Corinthians 12.

I read how Paul begged the same of the Lord (and oh, how my desperation and weakness feels so trivial now). I do more than just sympathize, I empathize with Paul and suddenly the Word is real. It is incarnate within my life, within my heart.

I understand this struggle. I’m living it. I’m about an inch away from walking away from that community I praised last week. I’m one breath away from yelling out, HOLD UP GUYS. I was totally wrong about this one. This is NOT where I’m supposed to be clearly, because this is suddenly HARD.

All of this at the very moment I am excited and I am passionate and I am growing. Convenient, no? That I would be distracted at such a time as this.

And then I read how God is glorified in this. That God takes glory in my weakness, that He is the power in my life. My God doesn’t rescue me so that I am comfortable, but He is with me while I grow. Won’t that be amazing when I have come through this battle?

Guess what? It gets better.

Because two weeks ago I had a different struggle. I couldn’t imagine ever moving on. I thought I was stuck for life, and I prayed for healing in my life. God heard that, I see that now, and the irony is that my struggle now is the answer to my previous prayer taking flight. Funny how that works isn’t it?

How amazing, how glorious that God is the One who shines in my weaknesses.

Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul
I’ll worship Your holy name

Community isn’t about me

I read this post on community this morning.

I’ve loved all of the posts from this series, but this one was so perfectly timed.

There’s no way around it, this was God-timing.

I needed to read this today.

I haven’t wanted to admit it, but I have felt so terribly alone and isolated within a community I thought was mine. I have been angry and bitter towards people, and haven’t spoken a word. I’ve let it build up, for fear of stepping out of line and regretting the next words out of my mouth. So instead of dealing with it, I let it simmer and then I fled. I ran away from it all. I distanced myself, and convinced myself I was better off.

Only to feel even more alone. Here’s a newsflash that has taken me nearly 22 years to figure out (I’ll share for those of you who are slow learners like me): if you’re first inclination is to push people away for fear of being hurt, you really won’t solve anything. People will let you down and disappoint you, but living in emotional isolation isn’t any better.

And this past summer I learned how freeing vulnerability can be too. We had a small group of get together for a Bible study, and while it was terrifying it ended up being amazing. For me, at least. I guess I can’t really speak for anyone else who came.

Just this week I decided to take a chance on this again, and rejoin a group I used to go to that was starting up again. I talked it over with my gramma, and she expressed her enthusiasm and agreed I should go (much to my surprise- it was one of those moments where you’re like, hello, why haven’t you said anything about this earlier to me?)

So I went. I came back. She asked how it was.

It wasn’t perfect. I still felt some of the same things I had felt before.

But. (Yes, there’s a “but” coming.)

But I’m not perfect either. But maybe the problem has been just as much in my heart as it has been external. But I need this.

Some times community can hurt, and it can hurt deeply. But maybe I view community and relationships in all the wrong ways.

Maybe it’s time to step back and realize that it’s not about me or what I get out of it. Maybe it’s time to consider what it is that I can do for others. Ask myself what I have to give, what I have to offer, and recognize that it is about Jesus and it is about fellowship with a group of people who have come together for His glory.

Not my satisfaction. Not my pleasure.

But for His glory and the needs of those around me.