Monday, March 26, 2012

Exploring the thin places...

Today I read a blog entitled "Thin Places-Faith, Family and Disability" by Amy Julie Becker. Amy Julie wrote, "This blog is about discovering and remembering thin places, places where heaven and earth touch, where God seems more readily present, more easily accessed. It is meant to uncover ideas, relationships, points of connection, and moments of deep beauty that draw us towards one another and towards the Holy One."

Where I have known I have experienced God's presence most fully have been in times of either deep grief, depression, loneliness, or in moments of unparallelled joy and wonder...all moments where I was overwhelmed, exhausted, completely at my end and in need of my Savior. Moments where I have felt completely enveloped by the presence of God and His miraculous ways...where I have felt carried by Him.

My mind and my heart lept back to December 31, 2003 and the death of our 18 year old nephew Justin. The world our extended family had enjoyed was shattered with his unexpected loss.  It was my first encounter with a place of deep grief, fear, and questioning...why Lord? Why Justin? In January 2005 our daughter Jill married the love of her life Matt - enlarging our family and our hearts in a fresh sense of God's joyful presence - even while our family was still in the midst of grief. Fast-forward to September 20, 2009 and the discovery that the grandson whose birth we had longed for the past 9 months had died in Jill's womb just days before his delivery. September 21, 2009 was both Parker's birth day and the day we gave him back to Jesus. Grief overwhelmed me again, yet God's presence was thick. I truly felt the boundary between my grief in this world and God's presence in Heaven was broken... He held me close. I was held by God, His precious child, holding my daughter, my precious child, while she held her son, her precious child. Grief upon grief, upon grief. Joy came into my life again (in abundance) on June 4, 2010 as we welcomed another daughter into our family when Laura married our son Seth. Her presence in our family has encouraged me to count my joys along with my sorrows as gifts from God. And then on March 29, 2011, I was once again brought to another thin place when I was with my daughter Jill as she brought my first granddaughter, Kahlan Grace into this world...moments of sadness that Parker was not with us to welcome his baby sister were certainly present, but absolute joy in snuggling with a beautiful, healthy, special granddaughter brought fresh tears of joy as well. Grief and joy mingling again surrounded with the wonder of being fully held by my God in both.

I know there have been many other times when I have experienced thin places in my life, when I married my husband, the births of Jill, Seth, Hillary, and Sam Jr to name the most significant, however, I don't think before experiencing my deepest grief in the loss of Parker, that I truly understood the holy ground/the thin places, that I was experiencing. Perhaps it is as simple as the stage of life I am in, but I believe that God has called me, walked along side me, prodded me, pushed me, and carried me through so much in life to open my heart, my mind, my soul, to His presence in every moment.

Where have your "thin places" been? Where have you known God's presence so fully, so intimately?

My heart bears the scars of many places of grief, but these scars testify to the beauty of God's eternal gifts to me of His presence, and for that I will forever be grateful...

That's it for now...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Celebrating the New Year 2011

Last night was a great night. I spent the evening with Seth, Laura, Hillary, Sammy and Jen at Grace Church in Eden Prairie. Jen made homemade soup, we brought bread, and we shared a meal before joining the praise and worship evening put on by the youth ministries team. It was such a beautiful way to bring the last year to a close and welcome the new year. The evening was set up so that we went back and forth between singing worship songs, reading scripture, spending time in individual, group and corporate prayer, and then as we shared in communion just after the new year was rung in ... it was just what I needed.

Instead of the usual playing games and eating far too much, we spent the evening reflecting on God's faithfulness to us and contemplating His promises to us.

With Sam's move to Egypt this week our family has entered into a huge time of transition and the reminder of God's faithfulness was an important foundation stone laid for us to build upon this year.

Thursday, December 30, 2010


The idea of echoes intrigue me ... as I consider how God has spoken to me through the years I hear echoes of lessons learned and forgotten in the busyness of the days and the exhaustion of the nights ... and I wonder at my own faithlessness in the shadow of God's amazing faithfulness in my life. As an echo decreases the further it moves away from the source of the original sound, so God's voice has diminished in my life as I have built up the walls around my heart and in essence moved further away from His voice. Since this space is for me (and anyone else who would care to share the journey) to listen to what God is saying to my heart ... I must purposefully  dismantle my defenses against God and in humility, trusting in His grace, allow myself to sit with Him again daily. I must choose to trust Him again with everything. Everything. So, here are my thoughts this morning ...

Today dawned warm (for Minnesota in December anyway!) and as I sit here listening to the drip of snow and ice melting off the eves of the house I think that somehow the sound reflects the melting of the ice dam that has been surrounding my heart. As I lean into that thought I am rediscovering  a truth I verbalized over and over to my children throughout their growing up years ... the one thing in this world that I truly have control over is my response/attitude to what comes into my life.  So today, I choose to embrace where I am right now. I choose to lean into God and open my heart to him to teach me what I need to learn and to remind me of what I used to know but have forgotten somehow. 

As I was reading John Kirvan's Silent Hope: Living With the Mystery of God again this morning I began reading about the power of wonderment and radical amazement. Kirvan wrote:

 It is wonder and radical amazement that allow God to rise from the ashes, and our soul from half-life. Wonder sees what might be, what could be, despite what has been, what apparently is. Amazement is our willingness, our capacity to be surprised, to be caught off guard by the commonplace circumstances and events of our lives. (p. 43)

I am reminded through my reading in the section entitled Amazement, about Abraham Joshua Heschel that no matter what I have encountered ... others have seen worse. Not diminishing my own pain and suffering, but instead acknowledging that I am not alone soothes my soul. How long has it been since I thoughtfully considered and gave praise to God for all that He has created for my pleasure - the commonplace circumstances and events of my life. How long since I thanked Him for the fingerprints on my walls, the dog hair collecting along the baseboards, and the dishes left unattended in the sink ... these are the signs of life in my home and instead of rejoicing that I am surrounded by those I love, I complain. I allow this evidence of life to control my emotions and leave despair instead of praise.  Today, I choose to start looking at this "evidence of life" in a new light! I choose to thank God (while I clean!) for each person in my life and the joy they bring simply by being. 

I have a great life. I have a husband who cherishes me, children who honor me, a dog who encourages me to come exercise with him, friends who encourage and uplift me, and a God who loves me and is faithful to me even when I am totally unlovable and unfaithful to Him. I am choosing today to start back on the path of discovering wonder again, purposefully looking for "what might be, what could be, despite what has been, what apparently is" (Kirvan, 2001, p. 43).

Life is good ... hard sometimes ... but good all the time.

Simply me ...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Have you ever experienced a time when God seems silent? The past 15 months have been the most difficult of my life. I have walked with God as my Savior for 30 years ... and during that time God's love for me and his faithfulness to me has overwhelmed me many times.  These past months, however, I have felt the deepest pain and heartache of my life wrapped up in several difficult packages. I know I would not have survived without God carrying me, however, I am discovering I have changed in significant ways that I believe I may never understand fully. I've wondered ... is the silence I feel from God of my own doing? Have I walked away from him? Or has He become silent that I may learn to seek Him in different, deeper ways?  I have struggled with all my old fears rising to the surface and with the exception of a few days, I have heard only silence.

John Kirvan's book entitled Silent Hope: Living With the Mystery of God (2001) begins with these words:

"In the beginning there is a hunger for God. Then in time there comes a realization that the God for whom we hunger is unknowable, that this God escapes our every attempt to confine him to the limits of our mind and soul. This God is accessible only to raw faith. But there is still another discovery to come. The God for whom we hunger, the God in whom we believe is a silent God and there is no escape from her silence. There is only hope."

I'd be lying if I said my hope had not been damaged ... but I would also be lying if I said it had been destroyed.  All of this (and more) has led to to Sam and I stepping into the next chapter of our lives together. Today Sam and I took what feels like our first real steps down this new path. Seth, Laura, Hillary, Sammy & of course Blade, Finnegan & Mikeo, drove down together to the airport to see Sam off to Egypt (with 3 checked bags close to 70 pounds each, and 2 carry on bags). This journey for Sam is the culmination of years of God working on his heart through the research he has been doing combined with an amazing opportunity for him in Egypt. As the afternoon settles into evening I sit wondering when it will sink in that my husband will be making his "home" in Egypt. Settling in, buying towels, a chair, a blanket or two, a lamp...feels surreal. Meanwhile I am here typing with Hillary sitting beside me watching a show on T.V. and eating leftover Chinese food while Blade "talks" in the background.

I found Kirvan's book in the midst of some books that were brought home from Sam's office ... and its title caught my attention. As I read the opening lines I thought to myself  that Kirvan understands where I find myself. In the midst of our daughter and her husband losing their sweet baby Parker literally days before we were to meet him was ... well, there are no words to describe the fullness of a loss like that. It alters your DNA. Nothing in life is the same. God seemed so real to me in the days and weeks after. But the hits have kept coming the last 15 months ... leaving me numb to most things and a bit off-kilter if I'm honest. What does it mean to have hope in my life? Kirvan said it well on p. 20 when he wrote, "What we seek on our journey is not a solution to a problem, not the answer to a question, but an encounter with the mystery of hope that will by very definition far exceed the best efforts of our mind, the utmost limits of our imagination." I will never understand the small flicker of hope that has somehow survived within my soul. But it's there, and for now, it's enough.

It seems so counter-intuitive that when I feel more than ever that family should be close in proximity to love and support one another we decide Sam should take advantage of this remarkable opportunity that places him on the other side of the world ... it seems God does have a sense of humor.

Well, I will write more later, but for now I want to sign off with yet one more quote if you will so indulge me from a prayer on page 31 that reads ....

"Let me fall asleep as who I am,
and awake
one small, unclutterd step
closer to you,
one small step closer to
the person I want to be.
It will be enough."

Enough strength and hope for one day ... that's all I need Lord for tomorrow ...

Just me ...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The First Echo ...

The idea of echoes intrigues me ... as I consider how God has spoken to me through the years I hear echoes of lessons learned and quickly forgotten in the busyness of the days and the exhaustion of the nights ... this space is for me (and anyone else who would care to share the journey) to listen to what God is saying to my heart ...