The praise of yes

Summer has settled in with its muggy mornings and lazier days. This summer does not feel typical, because we are playing catch-up with school and living in the mess of several home projects.

Oh, and grieving. That consumes a bit of energy, a bit of time. We are all navigating the twisting path of it. All trying to get to the other side of it.

The best days begin and end with being outside. I find my soul somehow strengthened by being out-of-doors and seeing God’s creative work. I can imagine the Garden of Eden and how it must have been to walk and talk with God in the cool of the day. I know that I am not in reality closer to Him but my heart perceives more of Him, and I am drawn to think and to pray.

I feel His peace. I see His glory.

Marissa loved being outside, and we walked often. In the last months, I pushed her wheelchair around the block many times a day. In the evenings there were often 6 or 7 of us walking together in the gathering dark. Doing our best to cherish the moment and push fear away. Doing our best to remember God and the goodness of His ways.

Longing for peace and glory.

My husband and I find that walking yields some of our best moments. We talk and we share–the deep things of our hearts spilling out over pavement and alongside neighbors’ gardens. There is plenty of shallow, everyday speech, but it seems to always make its way to deep–the jagged edges giving way each time to the crater hiding just beneath.

I remember the walk after we learned that Marissa’s cancer had spread to her liver, when the hard truth of terminal cancer slowed our steps. I remember my husband telling me we needed to say yes to God. I remember walking faster and trying not to think about what saying yes would mean.

That was a hard and painful yes.

The truth is that saying yes doesn’t change the circumstance. It changes you. It changes your relationship with God. It makes it possible to praise Him in the middle of boring or hard or sad. It makes it possible to praise Him in the middle of unthinkable sorrow.

To praise Him with your yes.

I have had to say yes many times. I know you have, too. I find myself even now saying it when the “no” rises in my heart. When I don’t want to be content with what God has done or what He has given me to do. When this isn’t what I would have chosen for me.

When we say yes we are released from our fear and our heartache. The yes of submission, the yes of sacrifice, the yes of contentment–it reconnects our heart with God’s. It enables us to draw near, to rest, to trust.

Our yes becomes our deepest praise.

Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. Hebrews 13:5

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1

 

 

Renovation

A little bit of happy surged in my heart this morning.

I don’t know why my heart has been so heavy the last few days or why the slightest smell or smallest gesture has triggered floods of memory. I don’t know why the memories hurt so much some days.

And then one day it is simply better. A softer light and a lifted burden. Relief and warmth. Grace.

So grateful for grace.

I’m learning to be gentle in my expectation of myself and my family. Just because there is a smile on the face does not mean there is no pain in the heart. And there is no easy way to predict when the sadness will hit. It’s like riding a wave. You are certain another is coming, but will it be a gentle wave that you can ride to shore or a violent, sudden lurching into the cold? No way to tell.

You can hold your mind captive, but the emotions come and go as they will. You just try not to fear the waves.

We started a summer project of replacing our countertops. And somehow that has snowballed into painting our cabinets and tiling the backsplash and removing the bar–so much more mess and trouble and work than I had planned on.

Life sometimes snowballs like that, doesn’t it? You don’t realize what you are getting into until you are right in the middle. You wake up one morning with a simple plan and no idea of how God is going to change your life with an unexpected event or a change of direction. A car accident or a doctor’s appointment or a meeting with someone. All of a sudden, life is much more complicated than you planned on, and you’re not sure the mess or trouble is worth it.

Sometimes you just want your old, green countertop back.

God is doing this new work in me, I know. I am trying not to resist the labor of it. I am trying not to be discouraged in the process. The renovation reveals all sorts of weakness, all sorts of ugliness. Sometimes it is overwhelming, and it is hard to look ahead. Harder still to believe that the finished product will resemble anything good, anything beautiful.

But I do believe in beauty and the God who creates it. I believe that ultimately this messy, hard work of living will reveal the forethought of a master builder who holds the blueprint in His hand.

I do believe when the project is finished, it will be worth it all. It will be beautiful.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, “What are you making?” Isaiah 45:9