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27th of August

When Life Hits Hard and You Wonder How to Hold On


A blur hangs over our farm.  I think the sky is crying.

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Teardrops hang from pastures wired.

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Webbed strands dangle from spruce looking fragile.  I know better.

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Appearances often deceive . . .

What looks most fragile is most strong.  Yet, I wonder.

I think of myself—my whole life—especially these past twelve months.

How can storms not stop?

They just keep coming.  The winds just keep gusting, threatening to tear you apart.

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Here’s our year-long storm in quick review . . .

Our daughter’s move back home when independent living didn’t work. Our oldest son’s move out because he though he could manage.  His lost job due to addictive behaviors.  His move back home.  Her move back out to a supported apartment.  Her anger.  Her tears.  Her fears.  Her crash and burn resulting in a 12-day stay in a locked hospital unit and yet another diagnosis—Bipolar Disorder with psychosis.  Yet more medications, costing a whopping $1,300 out-of-pocket per 30 pills.  All these permanent disabilities of all three kids growing up, getting more complicated, all because of exposure to alcohol in utero.  Weeks and months of psychiatric appointments starting, stopping, changing, adjusting medication doses to manage symptoms and alleviate side effects.  Making our oldest son move out due to on-going issues.  He’s a great person, really.  They all are.  Being in a blur of my own and dealing with my own depressive symptoms, not seeing beyond my next step.  Being plowed over by the dog, injuring my left knee.  Falling through a hay loft, injuring my right knee.  Running into a wall, leaving me with a purple right foot and two crutches.  A direct lightning strike to our home, frying appliances, computer, even blasting drywall off.  An ATV flipping over and injuring a kid going 40 MPH and bending the axle.  Another kid’s broken finger from a dirt bike accident.  Cats nearly killed by coyote in the barn.  One of my best friends, a few years older than I, just diagnosed with dementia and her heart-breaking letter telling me she may not remember who I am much longer.

Those winds!  They keep gusting, pelting, taunting you to curse God and die, just like Job’s wife.

Still, you keep giving thanks because the good book says.

But those winds!

They threaten to blow you straight over and break you full through.  They toss you like tumbleweed and you end up a dizzied mess.

But remember, my soul, when you fear you can’t hold even your sanity, you find He’s still holding you.  Give thanks!  And there’s nothing—no people on earth, no power of Hell—that can break you away.  Give thanks!  When you’re held like that, you discover the meaning of strong—that divine, upside-down definition.  Give thanks!

And those webs that once tangled you, scaring you to death, feeling you’d be downright consumed?

They’re diamond strands He drapes ‘round your neck, made just for you—your prize—His prize.  Because you are an overcomer.  Just like Jesus.

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Because you’ve been broken.  Like Jesus.  Broken for you.

And just like Jesus . . .

Resurrection comes after death.

Peace comes after turbulence.

Winds may blow and waters may rise but . . .

With Jesus, we never end up drowned.  We end up transformed . . .

Sure, I’ve wondered if God cares sometimes—if Jesus really sees or is fast asleep in my boat, just like the disciples . .

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion.  The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”  He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet!  Be still!”  Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.  He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid?  Do you still have no faith?”  Mark 4:37-40

We’re all in the same boat, aren’t we?

Jesus knows our souls shake with fear.  He knows our little faith.  But it’s experiencing Him at work in our storms that builds our faith and calms our fears.  He’s in our boat.

Whatever storms threaten to tear us apart, exposing our innards, we are in a place of holy healing because Jesus is in our boat.  There, in our most vulnerable, He sees and stretches us with love.  And the only One who can calm winds and waters is the same One who calms fears and comforts cries you would never dare speak to yourself or another.

So I hope and keep on hoping.

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And I still have joy, even in the midst of the ache.  Because that’s how Jesus lived.  That’s how Jesus is.

He ached for the broken and became broken for the aching.

But He still held joy, because He looked beyond the broken in the midst of the broken.  And we can join Him in His joy-vision, no matter what the present presents, no matter the blur in our mist.

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:2

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Pain is always tolerable when you have hope for the future.  And joy is always possible when faith sees beyond cross—when you trust someone more powerful than you—more powerful than all.

For who is more powerful than the One who died—who was buried—who rose from the grave—who ascended to heaven—who is coming again as promised?  Who is more powerful than mental illness and physical disease and broken bones and wounded hearts?  Who is more powerful than men dressed in black, shaking knives and slicing off heads in a faraway desert?  Who is more powerful than earthquakes and volcanoes and hurricanes?  Who is more powerful than super-power nations?  Who is more powerful than chemical weapons and nuclear warheads?  Who is more powerful than death?

I AM.  The Prince of Peace.  The Lamb of God.  The Lion of Judah.  The King of kings.  The Lord of lords.

Emmanuel.

God with us.

What is more powerful than God—with—us?

So ache.  Grieve.  Wrestle.  Even fear.

But hold on.  And let Him hold you when you can’t.

Have faith.  Hold joy.  Be blessing.

Emmanuel.

He was with us then.  He is with us now.  He is with us forever.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells.  God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.  Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.  The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth.  He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire.  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted in the earth.”  The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.  Psalm 46

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Welcome to True Life With God!

Come stroll the trails with me on our 44 acre Midwest horse farm where I seek God in the ordinary and always find Him--the Extraordinary--wooing, teaching, wowing me with Himself. Thanks for visiting. I hope you will be blessed!

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