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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Wrestling with God

We saw her in Venice...just happened upon her as we wandered the crooked streets and alleys of this anciet floating city...

 
Her broom kept time with her limp as she nodded shyly... crazy American tourists getting lost in her quiet alley...
 
We smiled and nodded back, universal language world over... Good morning, we love your city, thank you for sharing it with us!
 
Her eyes twinkled as we carefully stepped around her pile of the day's dirt and as I looked back to see her hard at work in her corner of the city, I wondered about her story... 
 
What memories has she stored up under her crown of white,
what joy has she treasured deep in her heart,
what troubles have her work-worn hands smoothed,
and what heartaches hid beneath that limp...
 
A momentary glimpse and then we were gone.  But she stays in my mind...
 
I will never know her story.  But I still see the limp.
 
And I know that the limp can't be easy.  There was another man who walked with a limp til the end of his days.  And it wasn't easy.  He lived years and years ago, but I find his story lingers on my heart...
 
His name was Jacob.  And he had a twin brother.  He was the younger of the two, and as most brothers do, they fought like cats and dogs from the minute they were born.  And like many younger brothers, Jacob found ways to aggravate his older sibling...to the point that he eventually found himself running for his life.  He had finally pushed all the wrong buttons and this time he truly thought his brother might kill him with his bare hands...
 
So Jacob ran off into the world, found a job, got married and had babies (lots of babies... 12 sons and 1 daughter!) and after many years he had finally settled down enough to realize he missed his family.  And his brother...
 
Jacob made the decision to go home and reconcile with his brother.  But... would it really be that easy?  What if his brother was still out for revenge?  What if he hadn't mellowed with age, nor had forgotten all of Jacob's "crimes"? 
 
As Jacob traveled the road toward home he worried and stewed over his transgressions.  He had lied.  He had cheated.  His brother had reason to be angry.  Perhaps angry enough to kill him, even now.
 
Jacob was scared and as he sat there that evening on the road home he was tempted to turn back.  To run far far away...and yet he knew amends must be made.  He was so confused.  So unsure.  So afraid... He never saw the stranger approaching until it was too late.
 
And they wrestled.  Jacob fighting for his life.  Wrestled hard they did.   All night long... And some where in the dark, the wrestling changed.  The desperation and confusion boiling over, Jacob must have realized he was wrestling with God himself.  Now instead of trying to throw off the man, he found himself clinging tight, refusing to let go. 
 
Perhaps Jacob didn't even understand that his cry for help had been answered.  The fear, the questions...God understood the agony of his heart and met him there...in the dark...willing to wrestle as long as Jacob needed...
 
And Jacob, he just refused to let go of God.
 
The sun came up and still he refused to loose his grip, saying, "I will not let you go until you bless me."
 
And God touched the socket of Jacob's hip and put it out of joint.  And still Jacob clung to Him.
 
Then God said, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have wrestled with God and have overcome."  And He blessed him there, with Jacob's hip out of joint, sweaty and weary from the long, dark night of wrestling.
 
And as the sun rose, Jacob turned his face toward home and his brother, and took his first step on torn hip... limping, dragging, forever marked by his struggle with God, but now covered in Grace and Peace.  (Genesis 25-33)
 
The dark of the night seems to be always the worst.  Whether it is a cancer diagnosis, or a disintegrating marriage, or a child ripped from your arms...
 
In the dark we wrestle.  There is no sleep for the troubles that just won't be solved.  We want His help.  But we don't know how to understand His plan.  For cancer or divorce or a lost child are surely not His plan... and we wrestle.  Hard.  We are Wounded.  And in pain.  Desperate.  Confused.  And Afraid.
 
And sometimes we don't even know we are wrestling with God. 
 
How long do we wrestle before we realize and begin to cling to Him.  Praying for that Blessing.
 
I will not let you go until you bless me...
 
God will always meet us where we are.  In cancer nightmare.  Or heartache overwhelming.  He is strong enough for our flailings and thrashings.  Our fears and our pains. 
 
And He will hold us long thru the dark night...waiting, just waiting for our prayers to turn to Him.  Asking for the Blessing.  Out of this darkness... Out of this nightmare, Lord bring Blessing.
 
He will cover us always in His Grace and Peace.  He will give strength to walk the journey before us, but we will forever be marked by our struggles.  The limp is a daily reminder that we have wrestled with God.  And have survived.  And begged the blessing...
 
"The Lord bless you
and keep you;
The Lord make his face shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you Peace."
                              ~ Numbers 6:24-26
 
And that Jacob?  Yes, he met his brother on the road toward home.  Limping and fearful still, but now sure of His plan.  And somehow completely at peace.  Until the moment he saw Esau, he didn't know if his life would be demanded of him that day for justice of sins past...
 
But the Blessing came in a Big Bear Hug from that brother long-lost, but now forgiving.  Joyous reunion.  A family restored.
 
God is so into Grace.  And Blessing.  No matter how long we wrestle over His plan.  He simply longs to hold us close and give us Peace.
 
I am loving that His Grace covers my limp, for my struggles and my wrestling over mom's pancreatic cancer have forever changed the way I journey through this life.  I will never be the same and I'm learning that that's okay in His book. 
 
Sinking into the Peace Granted,  Blessing Sweet,
                                                                 Love Always,
                                                                                      Jane

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekends are made for this...

Weddings and Kayaks and Grandbabies and Smiles and Spicy Salsa!

What a blissful mix... Mom would have been in the middle of it all!  So, we just went out and lived life joyful in her honor...

She would have turned 73 this very day!

Winging Birthday Love heavenward to you Mom.  Not a day goes by that you don't cross my mind and heart in a thousand ways.  Missing your voice and your laugh... and you would have laughed much over the tumbling chaos of this happy weekend.

Wedding of friends, traditional and sweet...

 
 
Kayaking adventures on our favorite Lake...
 
 
 
Artful designs of wood and wing...
 
 
 
And the weekend would not be complete without the ever-lovin' antics of Aubree Claire...
 
 
Determined to try the salsa... On. Her. Own!!!
 
 
"Are you sure you want to eat that?" her mom questions politely...
 
"Yes, I do." Emphatic reply...
 
 
"Whoa...who put the spicy in that there salsa?!!!!"
 
 
Mom to the rescue instantly!
 
What would we ever do without the tender love and watchful care from our moms?
 
... and our big sisters and daddies???
 
 
Weekends are made for this!
 
Happy Birthday Mom!
We felt your presence as sweetly as an embrace.
You are Missed sorely, you are Remembered always,
You are Loved forever.
 
Can't wait to Hug you again and tell you face to face...
Love you so very much,
                                  Jane
 
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Babies of Summer...

Sweet Baby Faces!  They're everywhere!


First peachick of the spring, growing into his fluffy peeps!
 
 
And purring fuzzballs charming everyone...
 
 
 
And then there's the baby goat kids...
 
 
Impossible to hold still, leaping and bounding their joy.
 
 
Oops, wrong end... let's try that again.
 
 
And again...
 
 
Almost had it.
 
 
Too close...
 
 
Ahhh....just right!  Sweet little goat babies!
 
 
Mama Dove, what are you hiding under your downy fluff?
 
 
 
 
Precious, little ones...
 
And our most favorite baby face of all???
 
 
Sweet Aubree Claire, bathing beauty extraordinaire!
 
 
 
Sometimes the smallest are simply the sweetest!
 
May your summer days be gracing you with the most adorable of joys...
          Love and Hugs,
                              Jane
 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Freedom Day

Celebrating on the farm...

 
 
 
 
 
 
The 4th of July... Independence Day... Freedom Celebration
 
We can't help but celebrate these gifts with gratitude for the men and women, past and present, who guard our freedoms with their very lives.  For some these freedoms were not free...they have given their cherished tomorrows for our todays.  Bless you each one...
 
These thoughts temper the day of festivity with a solemnness.  My mind wanders to the many freedoms lost around the world.  The fight for independence still rages on, this I know.  And my heart remembers a battle not so distant, a personal struggle, our journey with the beast of cancer.  The fight was ultimately for her freedom...

Caught in the grip of cancer tight, anguish fed the fear... hearts ached as we watched mom's world shrink, enslaved to a disease that battled furious for her very life. 

Such a vicious disease.  Pancreatic cancer binds freedom from a soul in so many ways...

* diets change

* pain closes in

* treatment choices map the days

* fatigue and nausea obscure the joy

* weakness ties the body to bed

Hearts grow sore.  Freedoms diminish.  Life revolves around the sickness that won't let go.

And we struggle with the chains.  We fight the ever-tightening noose.   How to live a life free.

Unfettered.

Unhindered.

Free...

As our nation celebrates the gift of Freedom, our Independence Day, I struggle anew with the journey.   Soul cries unfair.  Our Freedoms were taken the day mom was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.

 

Firecrackers explode with noise and beauty, lighting the heavens and my gaze shifts up...

the Heart follows.

There is a Freedom, this my soul knows.  He speaks quiet to shattered dreams.  Lifts up the fallen countenance and reminds again... and again...

There is only Freedom in the One who surrendered Himself to our chains, to our fetters. 

A True Freedom in the Grace and Blessed Mercy of the Cross.  In the Unfailing Love of God.

"Lift up your eyes to the heavens,
look at the earth beneath:
the heavens will vanish like smoke,
the earth will wear out like a garment...
But my Salvation will last forever,
my righteousness will never fail."
                             ~  Isaiah 51:6
 
In this life, freedom is such a transient thing.  There are no perfect answers for our struggles, for the paths our journeys take.  
 
Mom's Freedom came, whole and complete, the moment she closed her eyes here in our presence and opened them to the glorious wonders of Life Eternal with the One who loves her tender and will never fail her.  Or us.
 
I don't know how this works.  This Freedom.  But I know it does.  always.  work.

We can celebrate our Independence no matter the circumstances that bind.  It is a glorious gift born of sacrifice great.  And it is balm to hearts sore this day.

Graced by Freedom to Celebrate with Joy,
                                                      Always,  Jane