Monday, August 1, 2016

Loved by God While Doing Hard Things

Anders, me, and Matthias...I could not have loved them more
I am pooped. I am writing this after spending hours Sunday in the dark, dusty bowels of my walk-in closet. I looked at it with utter despair three days ago, before I started cleaning it. How could I possibly begin to wade through this...this...hoarder's heaven!!!!!??? I have at least fifty blazers and sweaters. At least 30 pairs of shoes. Two DUCT TAPE dresses. Yes, you heard me right.

  At least eight pairs of jeans. I had ten black work-out pants! The shelves above the clothes racks were stacked to the ceiling with more clothes. The three walls under the clothes racks were stacked three feet high with boxes.

Even if I were NOT just one month post-breast reconstruction surgery, or about to start radiation, with strict lifting could anyone tackle this impossible mess? Perhaps downsizing at this stage in life was not the best idea, but there is never an easy time to do hard things. Maybe stacking hard upon hard is not a terrible idea. Or is it?

First, I sat down and cried. Then, I began at one end, and slowly (very slowly) began working my way inch by inch across this vast accumulation of decades of STUFF. Several hours later, I had ten large garbage can bags filled with clothes and STUFF to go to Goodwill. The shelves above the hanging clothes are now clear. The hanging clothes hardly looked culled at all, but those ten bags had to have come from somewhere. Round two will begin Tuesday.

The boxes on the floor will take more time. I did go through several boxes labeled 'memorabilia'.  There were several photographs, paintings the kids had done, my first son Anders' umbilical cord (ick...I threw it out), my hospital bracelet from the birth of Anders with my social security number right on it! I found Asherel's early sewing projects, and an adorable horse she made from a toilet paper roll and Popsicle sticks when she was five.

I found several precious pictures of my ever-smiling second son Matt...(we called him Matty then until he informed us politely he would not longer respond to Matty but henceforth would be known only as Matt...)

... as well as a drawing he did at age 12 that was really nice.

I even found my REAL horsehair horse that my Dad bought me when I was around ten years old. That horse is a half century old! It is a little gruesome, now that I know it was made from the skin of a real horse, but I did love it then. I will have to keep it. It will not meet the fate of Anders' umbilical cord.

The least expected find was a picture of my husband as a 3-day-old baby! When I showed it to him, he was shocked. He did not remember ever having seen that picture. I have no idea how I ended up with it!

It struck me that this is what kids do when parents die. They go through boxes and boxes of old stuff and they smile in the midst of their grief. Are we robbing our children of smiles by going through this before we are dead???? Even more frightening...will they not be grieving?

While wading through the morass of memories, I got a text from one of the mamas I work with.
"HOME!" it said. A picture of her sweet new baby accompanied the text. I remembered the rocky start of her journey and of so many of the moms I work with who choose life over abortion. Most feel their life is a mess and they cannot possibly wade through the chaos with a baby on top of it all. They don't know how to take the first step. I looked at my cluttered, impossible closet. Sometimes stacking hard upon hard is worth it. (And call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me. Psalm 50:15)

What a wonderful adventure she is about to embark on, I thought as I continued sorting through old pictures.

Matthias (I think...)

Anders, Matthias and an astronaut

Mama kissing Anders

Anders and me at space shuttle

Asherel and me in some period costume...what period...I forget.
My doctor had warned me "no lifting!" However, I had lifted a lot of boxes. Soon, my thighs and arm ached and looked a little swollen. It is very hard not to overdo it when there is so much to do. I sat down, weary and exhausted. I am only one month post surgery, after two major surgeries in two months. In less than two weeks, I will be six decades old. Six decades. When did that happen?

In church, I grew teary-eyed through the songs. Not with grief but with joy. The songs were about recognizing who we are in Christ, and looking ahead to a future and a hope. He WILL give us the desires of our heart, but it will be in His time. The pastor reminded us to be careful in understanding where our identity lies. It is not in our possessions (timely!), or in our past, or in our talents, or in how we measure up to others.

Our identity lies in what God says about us. At the core of who we are is what God tells us in His Word: we are loved, exactly as we are, imperfections and all. God, the creator of the universe, loves us. Our identity is in Him. We are made in His image, and inexplicably but completely, unconditionally loved. That makes me happy.

 This morning, I will take a break from cleaning my closet. Instead, I will go to the sidewalks of the abortion mill as I do every Monday, and plead with the women to choose life instead of death. I feel like I have a new symbol of what it means to enter overwhelming situations and choose to tackle hard things with the purpose, provision, and joy one has in Christ.


Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

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