The Blessing in Lonliness

Completely surrounded by people, friends, family members, loved ones… yet completely alone.  That is how I can describe my life on several occasions.  It can be a miserable place to stand in.

I recently went through a few experiences that left me feeling this way again.  One really amazing experience, shared by only a few, propelled me into a season of experiences ranging from downright weird to totally refreshing.  In each case, I found myself without someone to process these with.  My husband kept probing, wanting to be my support, yet there were pieces that I just couldn’t put into words, key pieces that I couldn’t even grasp. I was alone in my altered perceptions after each experience. He couldn’t be my answer guy, and I felt both lonely and disappointed.

In the same way, my daughter will ask me a question over and over again. Something regarding a point of attitude, something within her heart – something I can’t answer for her.  It frustrates her a ton, and I see in her eyes that same loneliness that I experience when there is no one around who can answer my questions and help me make sense of what I am going through.

The only advice I can give her, and myself, is to ask her Heavenly Father and to wait for His response.

So much easier said than done!  However, enough time spent being lonely and without human ability to help, recently drove me to seek an answer from Him. To truly press in, pleading for understanding and relief, through a veil of tears.

I didn’t get my full answers, but what I did gain was worth every minute of loneliness.  In that quiet voice that forms through thought beyond my ability to think, I heard this;

It is in the midst of loneliness that you learn to turn to Me.  It is through the pressures of being kept alone that you begin to understand a desire to see My face.  It is in being held apart that you learn the feeling of being held by My hand.  For I alone AM the One who will set your heart at peace and your mind at rest, and I AM the One who provides everything you need. When you learn who I AM, you will never long for another.  I will fulfill all you require.  When I am in My rightful place, disappointment and loneliness will fade to nothingness and you will be a steadfast and abundant blessing.  

Though I still lack understanding of all that is going on in me and around me, I now consider these seasons of loneliness to be seasons of discovering blessing.  Learning to press in and desire the presence of His hand around me, an audience before His face, so that I learn even better who He is.  Discovering exactly how not alone I am.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6&7

A Measure Of Their Hearts

Saturday woke us up with brilliant sunshine.  It was the end of a long week.  A week we had struggled through, dealing with behavioral issues between children.  The constant bickering and arguing revealed how tired they were, and one event left me in complete shock at how sinful the human heart is, even in children.  The week had left me weary and drained and feeling defeated.  Truth be told, their behavior was an accurate reflection of the sate my heart was in. Fighting off whispers of how much of a failure I am, I cried out to God in desperation.

“I am no good at this! I am completely failing here,” I whispered through tears. His gentle response was so kind it broke my heart. “Child, parenting isn’t about how good you are at it, it is about what I am doing in and through you.

We had a birthday party to attend Saturday afternoon, a brother and sister who were born on the same day 3 years apart.  I keep a bin of new toys in my closet, things that I find on clearance when I have a little extra cash.  I intended to have the kids pick an item from this collection later in the morning.  But, as I still lay in bed my son came bounding in, all energy, waving a folded piece of paper in the air.  In the other hand he had a few items from his toy box.

“Mom! Look, read this!”  As I read the card he had written and drawn out in detail he excitedly chatted about the items he spread out on my covers, explaining that these were things he was sure Caelyb, the birthday boy, would love.

I was barely done reading and listening to my son’s excitement when my daughter came in, carying her little bundle.  “Mom, will you read my card and look at my spelling?  Do you think Ellawyn will like this?” She held up a beaded creation she had worked hard at making. She laid out the rest of her items, things she had been treasuring for years, and explained that she felt it was time to share them with the birthday girl.  Her card told Ellawyn that God loves her and that she is His little princess.

In awe, I complimented the kids creations and asked them, “would you rather pick a present from the toy bin in my closet, instead of giving away your things?”

“No!” they responded together. “Mom, I think giving her my things is more special and I want her to know that she is very special,” continued my daughter.  “And, I know Caelyb really likes these things.  I want him to have them,” finished my son.

That moment revealed to me just how God is at work, despite my flaws and failures.  His grace covering over my sinful nature, flowing into the lives of these precious little people and displaying itself in generosity, kindness, and a desire for their friends to know they are loved.

It was a glimpse, as if taking a measure of His work in their hearts, of just how faithful He is to fulfill His promises, regardless of our abilities or lacking.

When I am unable, He is more than able.  In my weakness His strength radiates in power, His grace covering over my feeble strivings, completely surrounding my awkward attempts, gently humbling my proud desire to offer what I will never possess.  It is not what I have that pleases Him, it is not how I live that brings Him glory.  It is His will and His work in me which accomplishes His purposes and brings Him pleasure.  It is in full surrender to His compassionate love that I discover complete acceptance in His embrace.  Not by my might, nor by my strength, but only in His Spirit will anything of value ever be displayed.  “And only by His grace will the fruit of His Spirit be revealed when He takes a measure of their hearts.”

Declaration: Just the Beginning

July 4th 1776 men put words into writing, singed their names to it, and got busy laying down life as they knew it in order to have a way of life then knew they could not live without.

If they did not succeed, then July 4th would be the day they signed their death sentence. 

To them, the dream of independence was a goal worth that risk. Declaring it publicly meant there was no return to life as it was.  They sealed the course of their lives by publishing their declaration, an act of treason and the beginning of the fight of a lifetime; a fight to the death for a dream.

These men risked everything they knew to claim a vision, the promise of a nation born.  Declaring  independence was just the beginning.  Had they stopped at the declaration, they’d have died.  They’d have lost everything.

But they didn’t just declare their intention; they willingly sacrificed everything to see their declaration through. Setting a course that plunged them into 7 years of painful defeat, blow after blow.  Following a man who made mistake after mistake – mistakes that cost others their lives; cost families their fathers and sons, husbands and brothers.

Yet what they had declared they continued to fight for.  Regardless of the cost, oblivious to the penalty.  Defeat wasn’t enough to deter them from the course they had set; death wasn’t enough to  convince them to stop declaring freedom.  Independence for their families and grandchildren.  They stuck to what they had declared on July 4th, determined that one day celebrating freedom was worth the price they were in the midst of paying.

September 3, 1783 they discovered the fullness of their vision, their dream dropping into reality with bloodied limbs and aching hearts, it’s price extracted in the extreme.

We have no real understanding of what they gave us.  A legacy.  A home.  Their lives in utter chaos so ours would have the hope of peace.  They declared our Independence, and then they went out and sacrificed all shreds of comfort, ease and normalcy, winning it for us.  Not stopping when it got hard, became more then some could bare.

July 4th celebrates a dream worth dying for, set down in written declaration.  A dream worth uprooting what they knew and plunging down into depths beyond imagining.  July 4th declared our Independence, but did not allow us it’s benefits.  July 4th declared something that took seven years of gut-wrenching labor to see born into the reality we live today…

Today, what is it you dream of? It is worth putting down in writing?  It is worth years of labor and sacrifice, of turning life as you know it upside down until you claim it?   Is what you dream of costly enough to change not only your life, but possibly set the course of a nation?

Are we the kind of men and women who will willingly sacrifice everything for a declaration of a dream that millions after us will continue to celebrate?

“Many men declare a thing, but few have the courage to follow what they declare until it become what is true.  But, what kind of men does this make you?”  ~Anonymous 

The Word{s}

Have you ever stopped to think about the power of words?  

In the Bible God simply speaks (sometimes just breathes!) and it happens.  Life as we know it, people healed, people raised from the dead, trees withering… all with the breath of a word.

The Holy Spirit woke me up this morning for an amazing time of ministering to my son and husband through words.  And it struck me during this time, how incredibly meaningful each and every word is.  How each word has the power to bring life, to put to death, to cause emotion and to put into effect whatever it’s meaning is.

I heard a sermon recently sharing that God takes complaining very seriously.  When the Israelites complained in the desert, what was a 2 week journey ended up becoming 40 years, until the complainers died out. God waited until those who did not keep watch over their words were dead.  And with each person noted in the Bible, He interacted with them according to the words they spoke, or didn’t speak.

Words impart a reflection of what is within.  If you find you aren’t where you want to be, or feel like life is miserable, unfair, or just simply tough, I suggest listening to the words you speak.  Chances are, you are speaking your circumstances into being, and more likely, what you are speaking out is what is going on inside you.  If you take head to the words you speak and pay attention to where they are coming from, you may find your circumstances change dramatically.