Posts filed under Suffering

Bless the Storm

Bless the storm

Another Texan storm swept in last night. 

Our house is located in a flat area with plateaus in the distance which means the view of a storm rolling in is something fierce and spectacular. 

The lights flickered, hail pelted our house, and for a few hours our home was eerily silent as children lie awake in their beds, anxious from the rolls of thunder and angry winds. 

Every so often I would stand in the backyard and watch the lightning flash across the sky, only to run back in to the whimper of one our kids. 

A few weeks ago we went to Target and purchased two planters pots for the twins to paint. We picked out flower seeds, purchased the soil, and ever since we've been waiting for these tiny flowers to grow. Every afternoon the girls and I walk outside, water the plants and check to see if any life exists. Thus far, the girls have been disappointed.

Last night while watching the storm, I looked at their little plants drowning in water and thought to myself, "Well, another one bites the dust." I didn't even have the heart to take them out of the rain because I just knew they were goners. 

In the morning, the girls sleepily woke up and after breakfast we walked outside to assess the damage. The mulch that surrounds our back patio was spread all over the place, pillows from the furniture were all disheveled, and their plants they've been diligently nurturing were knocked over. I felt a pang of guilt for not having sheltered them better the night prior. 

One of the girls ran over to the plants to pick them up and I expected tears to start pouring down her face, but instead she ecstatically yelled, "Mommy look! Our plant is growing!!" Low and behold, the storm had given birth to a tiny green sprout in both pots. The pots were laying on their sides and a little dirt had fallen out, but the storm had quite literally knocked some life out of it. 

I swept the patio, making clean lines where mulch had previously covered. There’s something therapeutic about sweeping up the mulch and seeing the stark lines between what was and what will be. The girls fawned over their new plants for a brief moment and then quickly lost interest as they weren't quite flowers yet. They ran off to the swings and the Lord was ever present in that ordinary yet holy moment. 

The sun was shining, the grass smelled of rain, and although my yard was a mess, signs of life were everywhere.

The storm had given birth to life. 

Isn’t that true of life in general? 

I continued to sweep as I looked at my kids playing in my yard, reflecting on the last few years of our family’s life. We had been through some storms. In fact, it seemed like a few years ago a storm cloud had made a permanent home in our family’s sky. Bolts of lightning flashed, thunder boomed, and as soon as the flood levels seemed to be shrinking, another storm would roll in. 

There were days when I didn’t think I could keep my head above water, but God was faithful. During my life’s greatest storm, God called me under his wings and was an ever present fortress from the wind and rain. The storm didn’t go away for some time, but the God who ordained the clouds also ordained my daily sustenance during that rainy season. He never abandoned me. 

And now that the clouds have passed and the sun is shining brightly, I see His good hand in it all. The storms in our family had given birth to life. I might have been tossed about, knocked over, and a little cracked, but the storm produced something in me that years of sunny skies couldn’t produce.

I finished sweeping. The mulch was back in its proper place. Two of my children were swinging, one was toddling around my feet wanting to be held, and I took it all in. This moment, this is why I can never curse the storm. Sure, the devastation and wreckage that comes in the storm’s wake is hard and messy and the fear can be suffocating. But the morning after you not only assess its the collateral damage and start picking up the pieces, but you also experience its collateral beauty. 

And there is nothing quite like the collateral beauty from the wreckage of life's storms. It is redemption at its finest hour. 

Charles Spurgeon said it this way, “I have learned to kiss the wave that throws me against the rock of ages.” 

For me, it’s that I have learned to bless the storm that both took away and gave me life. 

Much love,

Hope is Hard :: Joy Comes

 

Yesterday I experienced my first big West Texas storm. Winds reaching 60-65 mph, rain, and hail rolled through our yards, neighborhoods, and little town. Our home is situated south of our city in the flatlands between two plateaus. Evidently, it’s not that uncommon in the spring for tornadoes and high winds to gust through.

As day turned to night, I stood in our backyard surrounded by a beautiful sky full of lightening, swooning over its grandness before the rain and winds came. My family thought I had lost my mind, standing in the darkness waiting for the storm. But I stood amazed with windblown hair and eyes on the sky.

Isn’t it crazy how something so beautiful can also be so damaging? 

The clouds rolled closer and as a gust of wind came and the rain started pelting, I took shelter inside.

Just as quickly as the storms came, they left.

This morning we woke up to a beautiful blue sky full of the fluffiest white clouds. The grass and newly budding trees appeared extra green. No damage was done to our home, but I’m hearing scuttle about a few cars damaged from hail and a few trampolines escaping yards and landing in others.

Isn’t that a lot like life?

Storms come, storms go. Sometimes they leave their mark, sometimes we go unscathed. But when the morning comes, the grass usually appears greener, the sky bluer, the air extra crisp. 

As I sit here reflecting on the storm and the beauty of a spring day, I am reminded of Lamentations 3. If you know me well, you know this passage is never far from my heart or mind. I love how the beginning of the chapter starts with a storm, with affliction, but we see a man who proclaims God’s faithfulness in the storm. 

Talking about affliction the writer says:

“My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.’” 

And then Psalms 30 says this,

 “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

You see, I think I’m drawn to watching storms roll in and out for a reason. Like the man in Lamentations 3, I too have seen affliction. I have walked (more like limped) through life’s storms. I know what it is to be damaged by winds, by the hail that life throws at us. But when the morning came, the damage was still there, but so was our God’s faithfulness. So even in the face of oncoming storms I stand in darkness proclaiming, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him.” Let come what may, but my feet are rooted, arms raised in praise, ready to boast in a faithful God amidst the storm.

Today, you might be in the middle of a storm. Wind and hail might be pelting your soul. My friend, hold fast to hope. His mercies are new every morning. Storms come and they go, but the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.

Your morning will come.

This storm will pass.

And in the light of a new day, even if trees are uprooted and trampolines are moved, the grass will appear a bit greener and the sky a bit bluer.

Cheering you on,
Brittany

Posted on April 9, 2017 and filed under Hope is Hard, Suffering.

Hope is Hard :: Hope Heals

hopeheals

Preface :: Just a reminder to those hitting up this post first... This post is a part of a series over at www.HopeIsHard.com. If you want to hear the WHY behind why I'm posting over there (& then reposting over here) check out this post and it'll all make sense. ;) 

This is my second post for Hope is Hard and it was an especially hard one for me to write. I pray that if nothing else, those who have experienced the physical effects of trauma will rest in knowing (a) You are not alone, and (b) You aren't broken beyond repair. Our God is healer.

Read more below...

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“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” – Nelson Mandela

 Fear can be paralyzing.

There was a season when big life altering decisions were around the corner and I was stuck. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t make a decision.  A very-bad-no-good-ugly-thing had happened to me and I was afraid of taking a risk on hope. I felt broken, with no hope of repair.

So at night, I would lay awake with my mind racing. I couldn’t stop making a list of all the pro’s and con’s, the potential hurts, the what-if’s. I was so driven by fear that eventually due to lack of sleep, I started getting heart palpitations and had to go visit my doctor. Physically, my body was experiencing a surge in stress driven by hurt and fear, and it started to alter how I responded to the world. The typically laid back Brittany became anxious. I had irrational fears. My ability to accurately assess a situation went out the door. And as for hope, it wasn’t dead, but there wasn’t much room for it to breath around my suffocating anxiety.

Praise the Lord for godly counselors and doctors! Because of their wisdom, my body started sleeping again. And after we got that sorted out, I was able to start processing life through a healthier filter, not a fear-based one.

Hope finally had room to grow, but fear had to die in order for hope to breathe again. So how did I get there? It wasn’t a quick fix, but here are my 3 tips to anyone wrestling with the physical effects of hopelessness.

1. Talk to a Biblical counselor and potentially medical doctor. I remember sitting in my counselor’s office talking about the tightening of my chest and the rapid beating of my heart. My hands fiddled with a tissue, while I confessed my body’s shortcomings. I was so embarrassed that my body couldn’t handle the stress I was under. With kind eyes, he looked at me and gave me the best advice I could have ever received. His wisdom was God’s grace to me in a very dark season. He helped me see that I wasn’t “less-than” for asking for help, that it was ok to go see a doctor to address my lack of sleep. Perhaps if we focused on me getting physically healthy, we could deal with the emotional trauma later.

I saw a counselor for almost two years, and it was in the hard work done in those sessions and at home that lead me to hope again. If you have experienced trauma or brokenness and are trapped by fear, let me plead with you to ask people into those broken spaces. There is no shame in getting help from licensed professionals. They are God’s gift to a broken world; please utilize them.

2. Take care of your physical needs. Sometimes, triage is necessary. It doesn’t mean we ignore the broken leg, rather it simply means we take a moment to fix the gaping wound in our hearts before we address the other hurts. If you aren’t sleeping, eating, drinking lots of water, or exercising, may I suggest you start there. If your body is physically drained by a lack of hope or the physical drain of trauma, start with making sure you are taking care of your body. Go for a walk, stay away from alcohol and caffeine, get some rest, and choose foods that fuel and heal.

3. Hope, even when the world tells you not to. As believers, we have access to a holy God who is in the business of redeeming. It literally is his name. Jehovah-Rapha, Our God is healer. There will always be brokenness this side of glory, but our hope isn’t in a pain-free existence. Our hope is in a God who is big and loving enough to offer redemption to a broken world. And if He’s big enough to offer salvation to all of mankind, there’s nothing in your life so royally screwed up that He is unable to redeem it. There is nothing too broken, no person too far gone, no wound too ugly. Never stop hoping. And if you do, look to Jesus and remember what He has done for you and let it be enough for that day, that moment.

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3

My dear friend, never lose hope. He shines brightly on our darkest nights.

You should know that not all stories have happy endings, but mine does. When I physically got healthy, I was able to make a decision rooted in hope instead of fear. I tossed “What-if’s” to the side and chose to love and forgive BIG. God restored some broken places in my life that the world would tell me could never be whole again. And it all started by choosing to hope again, choosing that my life decisions wouldn’t be rooted in fear, but in love.

And I feel propelled to tell you this, even if I get hurt again, even if my worst “what-if’s” come true, I’m so glad I chose hope. There are no regrets when you choose to fight fear and live basking in light of redeeming love.

Cheering you on,

Posted on March 27, 2017 and filed under Hope is Hard, Suffering.