March 25, 2014

LOVE IN THE BROKENNESS







There is an undeniable brokenness in each one of us.
We all struggle for wholeness, some sense of completeness.
Yet in the rawness of our stuff, there are shadows of fear.
Fear that our brokenness will be seen...
Fear that our brokenness will repel...
Fear that our kind of brokenness has no hope for healing...
Any revelation of self carries risk.

Our own lack of perfection terrifies us.
We sometimes go to unbelievable lengths to protect it and mask it.
Do we think that if no one else sees it that it is not really there?
Do we believe that if someone were to see it, they would really withdraw their love?
Or could we possibly become more endearing, more real, more human - even more lovable?

Oh, to be seen fully and loved fully anyways!
That is really our deepest longing...to be loved in our brokenness.

Some keep a façade with God, living their ¨perfectness¨ before Him.
As if the One who made you can´t see everything anyway!

Some keep a façade with themselves, unaware of their artful masking.
They´ve lived so long with it, they don´t even know it´s there!

To not be fully seen & yet be loved is not really love.
What value is there in loving an illusion? 
To be fully seen & not fully loved is not really love.
Who wants conditional love?
To be fully seen and fully loved anyways - now that is love.
This is how God loves -
And He has created in us a yearning for this kind of genuine love with others, too.

Are we not all on a lifetime journey of learning to receive and give love?
To receive His perfect love in our own imperfection and give it away with the same generosity?
Do we not all yearn for transparency & true intimacy with those we care about?

Then let us love in the brokenness.

Yes, it is scary business.
We are painfully aware that our very own ability to love is marred because of our own brokenness.
How can we, therefore, trust others whose love is marred?
This daring to love in brokenness takes great courage.

In family, there is the double-edged sword capacity for both 
the deepest kind of love and the deepest kind of hurt.  
In the very terrain where we know each other best - good, bad & ugly - 
is birthed an amazing potential for unconditional love - or incredible hurt.

Will we not dare to love & be loved because of fear of the potential hurt?
In brokenness, there is always that risk, because no, we do not love perfectly.
But what if we dare to self-reveal and discover a tender, unconditional love returned...
Will we not be transformed?

So therein is our dilemma.

Can we stand to reveal our own brokenness?  Will we choose to?
Will we let Him into those dark places to bring healing?
Will we let family into those dark places to bring healing?

Being fully known and fully loved is the most profound experience on earth.

Let us love in the brokenness...

...together.



Photo by:  TyGrr Babii



¨BROKEN TOGETHER¨
 by
Casting Crowns



March 12, 2014

DEAR GRANDMA, HAVE I TOLD YOU?





Dear Grandma,

Have I told you lately that I love your smile and your little laugh?  Did I remember to tell you last time we spoke that I love how you treasure friendship and have kept up in remarkable ways with many girlfriends throughout the years?  Did I tell you how cool it is that you still call your closest group of friends ¨the girls¨?  Did I mention I love how you´re always available to talk to someone & that you always would prefer company or that you can beat most anyone in a board game?  

Have I told you lately that I love your piles of books by your chair and the old Bible in the kitchen?  Did I remember to tell you that all your fragile collectibles around the house whisper stories to me of special people & moments in your life?  Did I say last time we spoke that it always touches me when it´s your turn to pray and you choke up?  

Have I told you, Grandma, that your teacups and quilts and pillows and pictures mean so much because you have shared them generously over the years with others in your home?  Did I remember to mention that I love your yard full of produce and flowers and the care and attention you have given them over the years alongside your husband?  Did I say last time I saw you that I hold onto the legacy of family & history because of your tireless protectiveness of it?

Have I told you recently that I am so blessed that you have received our family as weary travelers throughout 25 years?  That I am blessed by your daily sacrifice to Jesus to let us fulfill our call without complaint? Did I say lately that your loving commitment to your own children has not been lost on me?  And that your daily labor to lead them to God was not in vain?  Have I said, Grandma, that the son you raised has changed my life and given me adventure & love beyond words?

How could I have not told you, Grandma, that your steady commitment to your husband and his roles in the community, in addition to your own profession, took you into lives untouched by others?  Did I tell you how proud I am of your work as a nurse all these years and the tireless dedication to helping others with wisdom & excellence? Did I say to you that I so admire your hard work ethic, your commitment to remaining active through so many years while many alongside you retired?  Did I ever tell you that you are the oldest volunteer at a hospital I know?

Have I said of late that the church has been held together by people like you and Harold over the years, both the good and the turbulent ones? That your commitment to faith, people´s needs and the family of God is part of our legacy?  Did I mention that you are sorely missed in this tender time of physical decline, not just your husband?  You, Grandma.

Have I told you that I really admire the many road trips and hikes and camping trips you made as a family?  That perhaps secretly you may have sometimes preferred something else but you were always a good sport?  Have I said to you recently that your strong spirit has had a lot to do with holding the family together?  Did I tell you last time that we chuckle when we see glimpses of that in our kids?

Grandma, have I told you how eternally grateful I am for all you have given your three grandchildren?  And how no matter how crazy their overseas life was they could always count on 644 Vallejo Way?  Have I told you how much we enjoyed taking care of you in these last few years in the small ways that we could?  Did I tell you last summer that the kids will always be grateful that you let them climb on the roof and look at the stars at night?

Oh, Grandma, there are so many things to tell you that I am afraid I will run out of time and space!  Mostly, I want to remember to tell you as your daughter-in-law that I will always be grateful that you let me into your heart, your life, your home, your family.  That you let me capture your only son´s heart and yet still loved me!  

I hope I´ve told you that I love how your tender side has emerged in these last couple years.  That there is a sweetness, a new perfume in your life.  And I pray I have told you that as we have watched you bravely care for your husband, grieve for him when he passed into eternity and speak of him daily in this last year, we see your undying love for him.  But this letter, Grandma, is not about him, it´s for and about and to you.

Have I whispered to you, Grandma, that we have been witnesses of your eagerness for heaven?  That we have seen you read about it, think about it, speak of it for years?  Have I spoken to you that we have seen that tear in your eye that speaks of a longing - the longing for home - your real, final, eternal home?  Yes, we have seen it, dear Grandma.

Grandma, have I told you how much I envy that you know all the hymns by heart and that I have seen with my own eyes that hardly anything gives you more joy than singing them to the One who first loved you?   I don´t want to forget to say I love you, I will miss you when you go home and that you will forever have a special place in my heart.  I want to remind you, Grandma, that your legacy lives on in two proud children, a daughter-in-law and 3 grandchildren.  You are most dear to us.   

Have I told you lately, Grandma, that I release you to go home?  Go home, Grandma, go home.

Love you always & see you there!

Pam

March 9, 2014

2014: BOUNTY OR BUST?


Have you looked forward to 2014 as I have with a deep sense of expectancy?  My husband and I are moving into a new role in our organization of greater responsibility and we have seen God confirm through His Word, through our children, our co-workers and other leaders around us that it is the right time for this new season.  We have been sensing for a while that the Lord is drawing us towards a convergence in this season of life between our gifting, life experience and this new role.  While we are trembling a bit in light of all the heavy responsibilities, we are also charged up about this new challenge and direction which will give us wider and deeper influence in much admired cross-cultural workers in our region - a region we love and have given our lives to.

The Lord gave me this verse towards the end of 2013 and I had recorded it in my journal:

¨You crown the year with your bounty,
Your carts overflow with abundance.¨
Psalm 65:11

But 2014 seemed to start with anything BUT bounty or abundance...

I was mystified when 2014 started off in the hospital accompanying my daughter in test after test to find out where some ¨bad cells¨ were coming from.  Our kids have always been so healthy!  It was a shock to even consider that she could be seriously ill.  Most of you know by now that she was finally diagnosed with stomach cancer.  Our beautiful, 22 year-old firstborn about to graduate from university in Global  Studies and Leadership!  This news still doesn´t seem real - except that as I write this I´m sitting in a hospital room where she recovers from a total gastrectomy (removal of the stomach). In this room it has become very real - there has been real pain and a very real struggle to learn to eat again.  It is real that she is here in Spain and not on campus in Southern California. It is real that there is still chemo ahead...still a long road...and that it has completely altered everything about this year and will be a huge part of the ¨realness¨ of 2014 for our whole family.

On the 2nd of February, my brother died in an accidental death.  I didn´t find out about it for almost a week as it took a few days to identify the body, notify my Dad and then he was miserable not knowing if he should tell me or not as those were the days Jenna was in Intensive Care and we were completely absorbed with our own crisis.  In that initial wave of sadness, I asked God to ¨encapsulate¨ my grief for my brother because I absolutely couldn´t deal with it.  In His mercy He did that and as time passes, and only a little bit at a time, we go away together and talk, remember and cry.  I will write more about him & that process later.  I can´t travel to the US right now and so it looks like my grieving will be done here in Spain.  I wish I could be with my Dad...

In mid-February, my dear mother-in-law fell and broke her other hip.  She had broken the first one last summer and we went to care for her and eventually had to place her in a residential home with care.  Her husband of more than 50 years had died in March and her daily desire is to ¨go to heaven and be with the Lord and Harold¨.  To say that she has much less will to live and go through the difficult efforts of rehab this time is an understatement.  Thankfully, Bruce´s sister is there.  Unfortunately, the rest of us are committed to being here with Jenna´s situation and I am filled with uncertainty as to what this may mean for her, for my dear husband, for all of us who love her.

It is trivial next to these life issues but it doesn´t escape me that a change of cell phone company in February put me without my phone at a time when communication was at a premium!  Hundreds of hours have been spent trying to resolve this and unlock my phone - unsuccessfully.  I still don´t have it resolved; perhaps on the 31st of this month.  There could not have been a more stressful time for this to have happened.

I won´t bore you with more details but life has been far from easy this year.  It has been challenging to see ¨the bounty¨ as promised to me for 2014, but I have determined to look each day for His goodness, His movings, even though it hasn´t looked anything like what I thought it would!  Somehow, there will be fruit, abundance and bounty in our experiences of cancer, of death, of accidents, of sorrow.  He is in it, has permitted it and plans to work through it.  A promise is not annulled because of pain.

I am waiting and watching to see the carts overflow...because He doesn´t stop being good in any calendar year...because He will make good on Psalm 65:11...because ¨all the promises of God find their Yes in Him. ¨ (II Cor.1:20)  But mostly?  Mostly it´s because ¨God is my King from long ago...¨ (Ps. 74:12) - and I know these things to be true about Him.

2014 promises to be unforgettable.



Note:  If you would like to read about our journey with our daughter´s cancer or if you know of another parent who could benefit, please see our blog:   Thru A Mom´s Eyes.

www.thruamomseyes.com.




Photo by:  PhanMemGiaoDuc

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