Monday, September 18, 2017

God sent me a team of amazing women and men on Saturday.  I was leaking hope until they arrived to divide and conquer. The men from my church tore out cabinets, sheet rock, appliances and some nasty gypsum board from my home's exterior walls. The women washed and packed fragile items that no longer have homes. Then, a sweet couple came and rescued my carload of books, saving me a trip to donate my large collection. That's after they had already washed all of my clothes.
After everyone had left, I stood in awe of the work they had completed, blown away by the sacrifice of their weekend with their families. I can't even describe the outpouring of love. Overcome with gratitude, I just wept and thanked God for this gift I could never repay. And I felt hope rise once again.

Later, I ventured off my street, surveying the rest of my neighborhood. I am overwhelmed by the magnitude of destruction. The further I drove, the greater the stench and heartbreak.  The piles look just like mine, but something about seeing it all run together helped me drop my self-pity and encouraged me to care beyond my own tragedy. 
So today was  a day to process and worship. The loss of Rob's things are taking its toll and I will need to seek counsel on how to trudge forward in my journey of grief...once again. I took some time to reflect on how I'm going to allow something beautiful to come from the rubble. As I've said before, I don't want to waste this tragedy.
Sunday night is quickly coming to a close. I'm thankful for a day off to rest my weary legs and soul, yet I feel a sense of dread.  I don't want to face  another work week of decisions, piles to pack and discard, and that ever-present and necessary MASK! But I know who will see me through the rubble.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

My new Lug bag arrived today. I'd ordered just the right one for my trip next week. I had planned a fun trip to the Northwest and possibly a surprise visit to  see my sister for her birthday.  That trip was cancelled a few days ago to concentrate on my flooded home. No whales, no little grand-nephews, no much needed fellowship with family. Harvey rained out a lot of our plans, didn't he?
 As I see photos of friends' trips and special occasions,  I wonder if I'll ever just get out of my debris-filled neighborhood.  
Life doesn't seem to have any "normal" in it.  It's packing, demolishing, pushing sheet rock dust from one destroyed room to yet another.  Right now it  seems like there are three groups of people in our city: the displaced, the exhausted volunteers, and the ones going on with their everyday lives. I must be honest; sometimes I resent the latter one,  wondering  if the reservoir casualties will ever return to their former lives.  But then my heart floods with gratitude for the beautiful army of volunteers. They have not forgotten us! They sacrifice their weekends, quietly serving in the stench,  laboring in our houses that look as if they've been bombed. They don their masks and gloves and spread much needed hope to the displaced.   
I hate being in the first group, because I desperately want to serve alongside my church family. Instead, I, like many, have no choice but to receive. That's really hard for me, but I quickly realize that stubborn pride hinders my recovery.  
The new turquoise bag's back in its original box; instead of packing this weekend for a wonderful fall trip, I'm unpacking the lessons learned by cruel Harvey: endurance, patience, gratitude and humility.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I was on the verge of shutting down my little corner of the world here at Larksong. I'd moved far enough along in my grief of losing Rob that I thought there wasn't anything else to write.
Then Hurricane Harvey devastated the city of Houston. 
In the midst of this great loss, God has given me a new story. It's not one I would have chosen to tell.  Just a few hours after evacuating in waist-high water in the pitch black with a bag and computer raised over my head, a life-long friend asked me to tell my story of loss and restoration.  Any purpose of doing so alluded me until God whispered: Tell my story, make Me known throughout all of this. Make Me believable.
I doubt my writing will be pretty; my brain can hardly string a simple sentence together, but obedience is greater than grammar.
Fresh grief for Rob has rushed over me once again, just like this horrific release of flood waters.
I am "smack dab" at the beginning. As I sort through debris, I suddenly find a remembrance of him too contaminated to restore.  Discarding them makes me weep all over again, but then I'm reminded that nothing can erase the beautiful memories of our sweet life. And more importantly NOTHING can separate us from our great God's love for us.  Not swollen bayous, rising waters or even death of any kind.  
Nathan sang it so beautifully this morning...
I need Thee ever hour, most gracious Lord.
We need You every hour! You are the God of this city.
Chris Tomlin says it much better than I could ever.
You're the God of this city

You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are
You're the Light in this darkness

You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
You are
There is no one like our God

There is no one like our God
For greater things have yet to come

And greater things are still to be done in this city
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city

Sunday, August 20, 2017

I carry your heart with me
I carry it in my heart.
Anywhere I go you go, my dear...
I want no world
for beautiful you are my world, my true.

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart.)
                                                            e.e. cummings

Thursday, July 20, 2017

I'm dressed for the pool when out of nowhere, one of our summer afternoon thunderstorms hits, delaying  my lap session. So I wait, determined to work in my mid-week exercise. I later realize, exercise is not the priority, Jesus is! I finally slip into the water an hour before closing, as a young substitute lifeguard from a distant pool arrives and takes the stand.  Just Qaazi and me... It's clear to me that he wants to tell his story and because I'm the only one in the pool, I'm the obvious audience. I swim a few laps and while resting, he shares details. Qaazi, a bright  Pakistani teen, tells me about his school, his college plans, his secret girlfriend. More laps and rest. He shares about his whole family and BOOM, announces that he's an atheist! And for a second punch, is all for abortion. (But rejects the Big Bang ???) Perhaps, he is testing me for a reaction,  which he does not receive.
I swim a few more laps, praying for an opportunity to share my faith. Qaazi softens. He pours his complicated relationship with his family and religious leaders; He hates the rules, he hates the hypocrisy. There's my opening. So I agree that I too would have to reject his parents'  Allah and the burden of earning my after-life. I speak tenderly about my Jesus who also detested the hypocrisy of Pharisees and who lovingly came from Heaven because following the rules could not get us one inch closer to life with our Creator. Relationship not only message. Qaazi listens without debate. There are no more laps on this day, just love for a young seeker.
Lessons learned:
God ordains our days. An earlier trip to the pool? No conversation!
A new appreciation for immigrant students making sense of two cultures
One must cast off false gods in order to fully embrace the love of the One and Only.
Like my pastor always says, the world has come to our city. We are "foreign" missionaries on our own soil.
I probably will never see Qaazi again on this planet, but I'm praying I'll see him in Paradise. I ask God to reach him whether by ordinary or miraculous. Qaazi is on a journey and I want him to know my wonderful God
Perhaps you will join me in asking.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Credit: Steve Schroeder
      I'm surrounded by growing paper piles this rainy Monday afternoon. New policies need to be compared, supplemental ones concentration wanes. All I can think about is life before cancer, the sweet, easy time when we compared restaurant options and travel destinations...together! 
I took care of my duties and Rob tackled his. Now that I'm responsible for both, I'm deeply grateful for all that he shouldered, especially the business decisions. Rob was a selfless provider who made life better for his family.  I added to our income, but without Rob we would have starved.  Because he fought the Katy Freeway traffic and accumulated frequent flyer miles most every day of his adult life, I was able to enjoy my children's lives without the added exhaustion of another full-time job. It's only now that I realize the length of his list. It was very long and he completed it without a word of complaint. (I can't say the same for myself.) I'm forever thankful for his devotion to his family's needs. Not one child left college with a debt burden, when the economy declined, he worked wherever there was opportunity, and he made sure we would live comfortably if "in the event."  Rob laid down his life for us.  On this rainy day, I'm reminded that his kind of love is rare; I shall not forget.  
Rob, I'm so proud of you!  I love that you are resting from the hard things of life. Thank you for caring so much about us.

Steve's original photo is stunning. My attempt to scan it does not do it justice. Thank you, friend, for this beautiful treasure. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Larksong has been quiet lately. I've never written regularly; it seems silly to write when there's  nothing worthy to record. I'm still keeping a journal of lessons learned, just refraining from making them public.
Four years ago our cancer nightmare began. Ever since I've been fighting to keep going, even as the losses continue to mount. (There's a lot of collateral loss with the death of a dear one.) Currently I find myself flat on my spiritual back; one too many losses.
I hurt...I hurt deeply.
I keep trying to pick myself up, but it's always a futile, temporary fix.
I found myself sitting in an old Catholic Church in the country the other day, staring at a plaster statue of Jesus, asking for this crazy pain to STOP!  Imagine, pleading with a statue. Well, my eyes were opened. Sitting in the silence, I realized  I've been running to the temporary for a very long time.
I've been ashamed, too proud to bare my weakness, my growing grief.  I've wanted others, including Jesus, to see a brave, strong survivor; I've tried to shield myself from pity. But it's been a lie; I've been wearing a huge, crumbling mask. I'm not brave or strong. Not at all!
 There is only one place to really run with my pain. Straight to Jesus, the real Jesus, not a substitute icon or activity or dream.  Is there anyone else out there, struggling with a heap of hurt? If so, I gladly risk embarrassment or disapproval. Join me in disowning it; let's hand it over!
So the real lesson I'm learning this season...
Pain is real.
It might last a lot longer than we want.
Leave it in the hands of Jesus.
We may find ourselves continuously releasing our hurt; it's not a one time thing.
I am not really sure what giving over looks like at this point. I just know that my arms can't hold all of this loss.
But I know the One who wants to carry my pain.
I'll be sitting in the quiet a lot in the days to come, letting this hurt leak, trusting Him as He wipes away every tear.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30