Tag Archives: Hope

A Post for Pip

From December, 2016

He had no name then–at least, no one had told me if he did or not.  He had no face, no mental picture, no name.  But I knew he had a soul, and I knew that every hard “situation” is made up of people–beautiful, hurting humans beings, made in the image of God.  I knew it must become personal, because he was a real person, back then too.

So I called him Pip. . .

~~~~~

They told me, and I was shocked.  I didn’t know how to cope with this.  But I knew I had to do something; even if I just had to care.

And care I did.  I prayed–hard.  I dreamed and imagined; and I hurt–with every inch of my heart.

And I called him Pip.

Then he had a face.  And then a name.  As a matter of fact, several names.  Pip wasn’t any of them.  But that was alright; all I ever wanted for him was them.  But a piece of him will always be mine too.

And in a corner of my heart, he’ll always be Pip.

I recently prayed a friend through a terrible illness, and felt the widening rings of the enthusiasm and joy that spread from her recovery, and I thanked God and let my full heart over flow.

And I bled my heart out in a dark basement, while we watched recovery fade out of sight and felt health slip through our fingers (but not hope).  I came face to face with death and felt the contact burn sear my heart.

And then I threw myself on my knees and pleaded for life.

The answer to that prayer was no.

I don’t understand why God would spark life, and then end it so soon.  I don’t understand, but I know God is good.  In the pain, in the mystery, in life, in death, in the tears, the blood, the sweat, the fire, the storms, the brokenness.  He’s good.

And I believe He loves him more than I do.  More than any of us could love Pip.

So I trust.  And I stay; and I care, and I pray.  And my mind reels and my heart bleeds, and I feel the brokenness become a part of me; like it became a part of Him as the nails drove into His skin.

I watched the funeral on the live stream, and I let the pain soak through their saturated hearts and drip onto mine.

And I loved Pip.

He opened my eyes to a new angle of the world I had always been blind to.  He touched me, and others; and broke our hearts for a crippled world.

I’ve learned to love my world, and I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong with that love: God created us in it for a reason, and He called it good.  But it’s not really my home, none of us really belong here.

Pip’s time was shorter here, but there’s still a reason for it, and God is still good.  He didn’t belong here any more than I do, and God took him home early.

This world was not his home.  There’s a reason God let us meet him, but there’s also a reason He took him back.  This was not the place for Pip.  But in heaven, there a place for him, that’s where God knew he had to go.  A place that’s perfect.

For the little boy called Pip.

Digging Potatoes ~ a true story

November 27, 2016

She was always in danger on carpeted steps, being particularly good at slipping on them, but she had forgotten how steep these were.  She braced her arms on the walls.  The unfamiliarity made her start.  Had she expected the basement to remain untouched, unchanged while the little girl who had played there grew into a young woman?  She stared into the room she remembered best.  She could not find the light-switch, but she did not really need it.  The white shelves showed dimly, and the pale carpet, and she knew it was full of flowers.  That had not changed–she could see their shadows in the dark.

She felt the carpet through her socks, and touched the shelf she had once found a dead snake under while she was playing hide-’n-seek.  She looked under it again instinctively, as if she expected the withered skin to still be there.

Had the flowers been real, they would be only wilted straw by now, but she knew they remained as bright and dewy as they had been all those years ago.  Yet still, the room felt dead.  Not thick with death and decay, but with a quiet peace; like a slumber so deep nothing could arouse from it.  She almost sensed the cobwebs in the dark corners, and she could feel the dust motes swirling peacefully in the air without any beam of light to illuminate them.

The house was haunted by a thousand phantoms to her.  Not ghosts to make your flesh crawl, but happy children playing and bright Christmas trees.  A rowdy group chased each other around the garden and the small house; a little boy good-naturedly scolded a little girl for stepping on an onion; the little girl groped through the unlighted basement and squeezed under a shelf full of silk blossoms.  She showed her siblings a dark blue snake skin.

There were things she would remember from the drive home, after she tore herself away from the sleeping room full of flowers.  Golden cornfields, rust-colored leaves, a gray pine tree, a red barn, a black horse, a hundred rows of leafless trees, the grief in her heart.  She had expected the pain to feel different.  Less–a dull ache; or greater–a deep, throbbing pain and a rush of tears.

Not this chill, peaceful worry that made her heart feel empty.  Something whispered in her mind, like an echo wandering in the emptiness.  The hole should feel dark, but it was full of color.  Crinkling red wrapping paper; navy blue sweaters; green gardens; dun, earthy potatoes; powdery, black soil.  A painting of an ocean wave, all indigo water, and dark rocks, and white foam.  Shiny-orange Cheeto-dust clinging to her sticky fingers; chocolate-minty candies; a hot, greasy cheeseburger.  A light warmth filled her empty heart; the sorrow cut deeply, but the past was filled with happiness.  Her aching heart held a single memory in that moment, and she would carry it with her forever.  She almost smiled–a quiet smile that is filled with tears in itself–through the pain.

The highway whipped past under her tires and the flowers slept in the dark, their veiled colors seared in her aching mind forever.

December 5, 2016

She had know it would happen, but somehow it still surprised her.  Somehow she had not expected it so soon.  She had guessed it for so long, she had been so sure; but not now, not like this.  She had thought she had felt the full weight alone in the dark room, inhaling the musty, lightless air.  But pain could cut deeper still.

~*~

And in that moment, I realized it could.

My senses were dominated by the taste and smell of salt, but the tears never fell.

The moment I came face to face with death, and felt pain wrench my heart until I thought I could hardly breathe.  I thought I could imagine wounds, describe pain, without ever really feeling it.

But I never truly imagined this–this quiet, tear-washed peace.

And even while the pain twists my heart inside out and my eyes ache to cry, I’m holding on.  I’m believing.  I’m believing that there is hope.  And hope makes all the difference.

I believe he loved me.  I hope he knew how much I admired him.  I hope he knows.  I know how much he loved me, and I know where he is; and I believe.  And I hope.

I cannot say death is the end, or that reality is bitter, while I believe in what He did.

I believe Death need not be proud, for it is “only the beginning” (Counted Worthy, page 228); I believe in the cross, but I believe in the empty tomb and nail-scarred hands that are warm with life.  “It is a bitter adventure if it must end so” (The Hobbit, page 243), but I will not believe this is the end.  I will keep believing.  I will hold hope in both hands, and I will believe.  I will praise the Giver of life and the Author of salvation, when my throat is too choked for words.

God, You are good.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Romans 15:13

 

Light and Beauty

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while.  The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him.  For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.  His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself.  Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him. (901)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien

Who I am

My journal, September 2nd, 2015.  Things have gotten better since then, but I thought I would post it still.  It’s the best way I’ve been able to express myself.

~*~

If you had asked me two months ago what my least favorite thing in the world was, I would have said getting the stomach flu or nosebleeds.  Now, one of the things I hate most is the orthodontist.  There has so far been one appointment that I didn’t cry about; before we went, or after we left–or, more likely, both.

The latest thing they put in my mouth is the palate widener, which restricts talking, chewing, and swallowing.  I can’t eat popcorn, eating anything else takes forever, my voice is different, swallowing is hard.  I don’t feel like myself–at all!  I feel like my mouth is worthless.

I wish I didn’t have to finish eating last.  I wish this lisp would go away.  I wish people could understand me.  I wish I could talk without feeling like a three-year-old.  I wish I could sing.  I wish I could eat popcorn and apples, and pasta.  I wish I could eat Mom’s spicy Chinese noodles.  I wish I could sit through a prayer with my head bowed without tipping it back to swallow.  I wish I could blow the pencil shavings off my drawing paper without being afraid I’ll accidentally spit.

I wish I felt like myself.  I wish I didn’t feel like this hunk of metal demolished my identity.

Not being able to sing without hating how it sounds has made me think differently about playing the piano and just listening to music.  One of my new favorite albums is “Loved” by J.J. Heller.  I love all ten songs on it, but “Better Things” is the only one that I felt applied to me personally.

There are far, far better things ahead,
Than what I leave behind.
Will you help me find my way?

There are ‘far, far better things’ in the future.  I don’t feel like it right now, but I believe it.  There is  a promise land beyond this desert, if I can only learn to stop looking back to Egypt.

I’m on a journey,
I’m losing who I used to be.
I am learning how to die,
It’s changing every part of me.

There are far, far, better things ahead,
Than what I leave behind.
Will you help me find my way?

Maybe I think too much about ‘myself’.  Who I am.  Because I am “losing who I used to be. . .”

One of the worship songs we sing at church has the chorus:

You’re a good, good Father.
It’s who You are, it’s who You are.

And I’m loved by You,
It’s who I am, it’s who I am.

I am loved.  It’s who I am.  I am the daughter of a good, good Father.  That’s all the identity I need.  And no hunk of metal can ever, ever change that.

“I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:13

The New Jerusalem

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them.  They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes.  There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said said, “I am making everything new!”  Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  He said to me: “It is done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.  To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.  He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son.”

-Revelation 21:3-7

Spring!

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The waste-land and the dry land will be glad.
The desert will be full of joy and become like a rose.

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Many flowers will grow in it, and it will be filled with joy and singing.

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The greatness of Lebanon will be given to it, and the  beauty of Carmel and Sharon.

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They will see the shining-greatness of the Lord, the wonderful power of our God.

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Give strength to weak hands and to weak knees.
Say to those whose heart is afraid,
“Have strength of heart, and do not be afraid.”

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-Isaiah 35:1-4 NLV

 

 

Victory

Easter.

The Resurrection.

We ignore what came first as best we can.  I tried not to this year, but I don’t want to undermine this!

It’s just too wonderful.

Our God conquered death.  He defeated the grave.

We serve a God of love.  A comforter.  A Father.

But we serve a Victor.  A Defender.  A God who is fearless.  Reckless.  Uncontainable.  We serve an awesome God.

O Death, where is your victory?  O Grave, where is your sting?

“That you will. . . and no mistake. . . if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”  “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.  “Safe? . . . Who said anything about safe?  ‘Course he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  he’s the King, I tell you.” (80)

The Chronicles of NarniaThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Above all shadows…

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.

Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars forever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell. (888)

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, by J.R.R. Tolkien

2 Samuel 22:34-37

He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights.  He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.  You give me your shield of victory; you stoop down to make me great.  You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.

 

 

Emphasis mine, naturally. 🙂