I picked her up at 4 PM sharp, that precious daughter of ours. Through all these past tough weeks of trying to stabilize thoughts and emotions, she went to work cleaning up others’ messes and just the plain old dirt that accumulates in life. At least the messes she cleans CAN be cleaned up. Some last a lifetime. Like bipolar illness.
I’m not complaining. I’m being realistic.
Though some good-willed people would like to believe that prayer changes—that prayer heals—that positive thinking will WILL something good into being—I know better, this side of heaven. Because this side of heaven, some things DON’T get better—at least not in the way we think or want.
People stay sick. People get sicker. People die. Lives are broken. Because we are broken people living in a broken world.
Yes, I write about brokenness over and over because I need to hear the truth. I need to TELL the truth. And we all need HOPE to carry on in the midst of loss.
I’m no pessimist. Actually, I’m quite full of hope. But I’m a realist. And as a realist, I know there are pain and tears in this broken world. There is deep, deep sorrow this side of heaven that so often stays with a soul so long we think we might just break—straight—through.
And we do.
Question is . . .
Will we break for good?
Or will we break for bad?
Will we break like bread so greater good will be absorbed and shared with others to sustain us all?
Or will we break like spliced bitter pills—smaller, lesser versions of what we were created to be?
Simply put—what do we DO with the inevitable brokenness and pain in our lives? How can it all be redeemed for good, THIS side of heaven?
We all have choices . . .
I choose to see and accept reality, to feel my feelings, to thank God for all because all is gifting, even when the gift is something we don’t like or want. C.S. Lewis said, “Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want.” I have learned my current wants are often not what I really want. God has something so much better in mind that my mind can’t even conceive. I just trust and receive . . .
As she clicked herself into her seat, I saw it.
Oh God, I thank you!
I saw her smile.
Like Lazarus rising from the dead and coming forth from the tomb, her smile told me—we’re on the right track. She’s coming back to life—HER life—where she had a ready smile before medication. She’s not the same as before and I miss the giddy laughter of mania—the nutty way she babbled on about anything and everything. But she SMILED! I never thought seeing a smile would mean so much to me.
She said she missed her mania, like saying goodbye to a good friend forever. She’s struggling to find her new normal—who she is without the extreme highs and the extreme lows that manifested more in irritability and stubborn refusal than in crying and hopelessness. She thinks she won’t be liked if she’s not “hyper” anymore, even when I try to explain that her “hyper” can get out-of-control and cause problems like her recent hospitalization. Sometimes we have to trust other’s minds instead of our own, when those people are trustworthy—when they are worthy of trust by track record. She trusts us. She trusts her doctor.
She wasn’t surprised when I grabbed my camera and snuck a candid photo of her smile. I carry that camera with me everywhere because you never know when you might need to capture a miracle. You never know when a miracle might just cause you to pause and give thanks and collect the evidence for later times when memories fail, right along with faith.
God says it over and over in His word . . .
Even in the midst of our darkest storm, our deepest flood, our greatest loss, our wondering if we will survive one—more—day?
Remember all the ways we’ve been guided through and provided for and delivered from. Remember God has never, ever broken one—single—promise to us! His promises are right there in black and white and red! Right there on paper bound, written through hands He guided. Right there for all to read. If only we will . . .
If only we will read and absorb and believe and REMEMBER!
“Want to go for a drive down this country road?”
I ask her, afraid she’ll say “no” because, like the hammer on the knee in the doctor’s office, the word “no” is her reflexive response to most invitations.
So I was surprised when, without any coaxing, she said . . .
And she smiled at me.
Yes, YES, YES!!
“Let’s go for a drive of discovery!”
I said it bold, excited.
“Let’s go together down this road we’ve never traveled!”
I said it expecting God as our travel guide.
So we did.
And I prayed for God to thrill us with Himself.
We started down that road heading west out of town—a road neither of us has ever traveled. And I chronicled truth in pictures–mother and daughter—truth to hold onto when you’re weary and wondering and you’ve spent too little time being thrilled with daily wonder all around . . .
“Do you think that corn will survive?”
I ask her as we stop and witness flooded fields with young corn, some covered completely in water.
“Yes, it will survive.”
There was no hint of doubt in her voice. There was no “I think . . .” in her words. She pounded the words like a gavel in court. Done deal. Decision made. “It will survive.”
“Why do you think?” I wanted to know her thoughts.
“Because God will make it grow.”
“Because God will make it grow.”
Remember: God makes all grow—no matter how it looks to us—no matter how hopeless and flooded we feel.
How gifted I am to have such a simple daughter with so many complex challenges who simply loves her Lord and trusts like a child.
Keep your intellect, whatever degree(s) you have—whatever education and professional success you have had. But let your faith stay like a child’s—ALWAYS.
Because faith like a child’s breeds peace and holds hope.
So I snapped some evidence of new life flooded that we trust will grow up unto harvest . . .
A little further down the road, the dog spots it first and starts whining and fidgeting, Labrador tail whipping back-and-forth. I had to roll up that rear window to her from jumping out.
A solitary sand hill crane stood in the old corn field from last year’s crop, hunting up kernels among cut and dried stalks.
Remember: God provides what we need.
I absorbed her words once again. “God will make it grow.” And God will provide, even for the sand hill cranes. Through the ebbs and flows, they still survive. And that dog in the back seat? I frustrated her by rolling up that window—by saying “no” you can’t go—by denying what she wanted most in that moment, every part of her.
Remember: Sometimes our Owner frustrates our desires and says “no” to what we think we NEED, what we WANT in the moment. It’s all for good. We will forget about that “sand hill crane” in no time. There are thrills yet to come and she knows there will be plenty of treats when we finally get home . . .
We drive just a bit further west, then head north.
We turn on Lone Elm Lane.
Remember: Sometimes being alone is good. Because when we’re alone is when we most realize we are never alone.
So we start driving north on Lone Elm and she says . . .
“Mom, look! A deer in the road!”
And before I have a chance to say a thing, the little fawn with white-flag tail appears right behind her mama on the road!
It’s one of the OMG moments!
Both the doe and the fawn stop, center of the road in front of our car, not more than 15 feet away, and look us squarely in the eyes. They just STAND there!
I’m practically panting, trying to shift the car into park and grabbing my Nikon simultaneously.
As I do, the doe runs west. The fawn freezes. She looks at her mama, then turns and runs east. My thoughts?
Oh no! Mother and daughter are separated!
There’s distance between the two!
Will they ever get back together?
Remember: There’s always a chance for reunion with Love. It’s up to us. Which direction will we go? Toward or away from the One who has paved the Way?
Quickly, I roll up the rear window—AGAIN—because the whining dog wants a good romp and a chance of catching a deer (to play with, of course!).
Camera in hands, shaking from excitement and wonder too marvelous for words, I start the repetitive shutter shots—maybe a dozen or so within seconds.
“I had no time to focus manually! I was on automatic! I hope ONE of these turns out!” I tell it to her practically breathless.
Remember: When you’re prepared with an automatic focus, you can catch some pretty awesome wonder, even when you’re shaking.
“Did you see the spots?!” I ask her, remembering some Russian from long ago.
“Yes, I see the spots!” She is as enthralled as I.
And, in my mind, I thought of the Russian phrase I used to speak over an anxious, no-longer orphan . . .
“Eee dee spots. Ya loo blue taybia!” (Written phonetically in English)
I spoke it over her after tucking her into bed as a six-year old, new to our country—our home—HER forever HOME. She didn’t understand English back then. So I stroked her hair while she lay in her antique brass bed with Peter Rabbit characters bordering her walls. I smiled over her and whispered . . .
“Eee dee spots. Ya loo blue taybia!” (Go to sleep. I love you!)
All is OK. You are safe. You are loved. You can rest. I am here for you. ALWAYS.
Remember: God is here for us. ALWAYS. We can rest. Often He shows up in the most unexpected ways, through the most unexpected people. We need to open our eyes as well as our hearts—and receive the abundance of His love. That’s all.
OPEN and RECEIVE.
Up ahead, she notices out loud the straight rows of corn . . .
Remember: In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6
He has. He does. He always will straighten things out, in His way, in His time. I am thrilled that our God creates order and good out of chaos WHEN WE CAN’T.
And then we see a barn tucked back behind some trees. She notes the window—the one and only window—the one and only opening.
Remember: Our God provided the One and Only WAY back to Him. Jesus. And all God requires for our return is one little opening. Only one whispered invitation to come in. And He will come in and fill full. He will FULL-fill with Himself.
Lone Elm Road comes to an end, finally.
Isn’t that true?
Sometimes when we stand so alone, we think the “lone” will never stand. We think the Lone Elm with never end. But it does. And we turn the corner. And we head home. Finally.
And then the greatest thrill of all comes as we start heading home. We’re not even anticipating—not even expecting. The thrill just takes us and embraces us and we hardly have words. You know that feeling?
I look in my driver’s side mirror. And I see her. Eyes open. Ears flapping. Nose sniffing.
Rose, our Rose, is in full-bloomed THRILL!
And how can my heart not jump for joy to see a dog—a simple creature—experiencing FULL BLOWN JOY?
Remember: On this road less traveled, God ALWAYS goes above and beyond our wildest expectations. Thing is, we’re so blind. Most of time, we don’t ask and we don’t notice. If only we were more open to asking and seeing and following. How THRILLING our lives might become! If only we would look in the rear view mirror of our life, we would see the ever-present LOVE looking straight back at us, giving us full-blow joy. And we didn’t even have to go far for joy. She was right there, all along.
Remember: Our God is right here with us, all along, and Jesus paved our way.
Will we let Him take the wheel?
Will we ask Him to steer us through the field trip of a lifetime?