Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Love Not Rejected, A Love Never Withheld

     Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me... Psalm 66:20
     I don’t want to be here, and that makes me angry. My selfishness makes me so angry.
     I am angry at the circumstances. It was supposed to be a simple surgery and now my little boy is in the hospital again.

     Infection. Swelling. Emergency surgery. And i find myself again sleeping within the four walls of a hospital bedroom.

     I feel guilty because I am angry. It’s not his fault, and the doctor said this could happen to anyone.
    I feel guilty because I just hate hospitals. I hate being the white girl in the hospital with the baby
     The only comforting thought is knowing that he probably hates being here even more than I do.

    It’s funny how open I am to assault and attacks when I am already beating myself up.

     “It’s your fault. You’ll never fit here. You’ll always keep failing. “

     And the comparisons add up… small enough, pretty enough, smart enough.

     I accept the attacks because in my anger and guilt, I feel like I deserve it. After all, no one can break me like I can break myself.

     Yet, this morning, he reaches for me when his nurses enter the room. He seeks my face for something familiar, comforting. As long as he is holding my hand, he’s ok.  We watch the tv and he points and says “car” in his sweet little voice. No smile yet, but he feels better. His little body is healing.

     And really, me, God? I get to be a part of this?  I who would have done anything to get out of it.  I am so bitter and angry. Surely there is someone more capable, more worthy of this moment. But His grace allowed me this time, this privilege.

     Gently, He urges me to let go. While he sleeps, I spill everything… my anger, my regrets, my pain, and hand it all over to Him.

     He doesn’t reject my prayers. He does not withhold His love from me.

     A love letter written by a five year old… words misspelled, mostly pictures, as my heart tries to speak what it doesn’t really understand. 

     I give it to him, my picture, my love letter of longings and dreams, trusting him with what is so precious in my eyes. To someone else, it will be the work of an amateur and would render a chuckle or an “Oh that’s cute”.

    He doesn’t reject it. He doesn’t patronize or belittle. He treasures, understanding my limited vocabulary, my human weakness.

     And he does not withhold his love… in spite of my anger, my pain, my refusal to accept what he is freely offering.

     In the face of such love, how do I turn away?

     He offers me this moment, snuggled next to my sweet little boy, holding him, watching him heal. Actually, I’m not really sure who’s healing… me or him. His body, my heart.

     And peace overwhelms.

     We are home. His open wound is smaller. His smile more frequent. He is eating everything, and he is just beautiful. There is a reason we gave him his name. It means “Happy”, which is what he is and has always been since he was a baby.

    He is a little miracle because really, in this country, his infection should have been much worse. It should have caused more problems. But He is healing beautifully, thanks to the work of an amazing and powerful God.

     He has accepted our prayers and answered with grace. His love is overwhelming. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good and Perfect Gifts

    Much-Afraid fell to her knees on the hilltop, bowed her head, and worshiped. It seemed to her in that moment that all the pain and postponement, all the sorrows and trials of the long journey she had made, were nothing compared to the glory which shone before her... Hinds Feet in High Places
     This time last year, I was in school, working on my thesis, trying to balance an education with discipleship, work, and extracurriculars. My Valentine's evening was spent with friends watching Audrey Hepburn movies and eating peanut butter M&M's (which if anyone would like to send me some, please feel free because I cannot for the life of me find them here).

     The past few years, Valentine's Day has been spent with friends, and then ended by an annual self analysis of why I am "alone".

     This year, by the grace of God, was different. I woke up at 4:30am because the dear little one in the crib beside my bed thought that would be a great time to wake up. But, to be honest, I didn't mind. I then dressed her in the cutest Valentine's Day outfit and was able to spend the morning with her until I took my favorite two year old little boy to the doctor.... where we spent the next seven hours.

     I keep staring at the clock, my mind wandering and wanting to go home. I am angry at the doctors who make me wait. I am angry because I have things to do. I am tired and my little boy is tired. The other parents and I look at each other with those exhausted smiles... and inwardly, I breathe a sigh of relief that my baby's problems are fixable as I am surrounded by those who are not.

     Finally, we come home, and i soon as I set foot in the door, I am greeted by my little ones... smiles, hugs, kisses.

     I am tired... exhausted really, and a little sick. But this has been the best Valentine's Day ever.

     Because it wasn't about me. I never received flowers, a card, candy, or jewelry. I didn't watch any romantic (or violent) movies. I was even too exhausted to do my traditional self analysis.

     And it didn't matter...

     Because my new little brother is experiencing genuine love and compassion for the first time, and he is thriving.

     Because I am watching the incredible faith of a dying man and his family who are believing in a big God and so very grateful for the present.

     Because, as I write this, a sweet baby girl is united with a mommy and daddy who have been waiting anxiously for this day... the day they become a family.

     Because I sent a day with my favorite little boy, and it was beautiful.

     Because my sweet baby girl is healing... slowly, yet surely, she is healing.

     For some reason, the God of the universe loved me enough to seek me in my brokenness, restore me, bring my cold heart to life, and gave me the chance to be here. As tired or frustrated as I may be, I can say with certainty that my God is strong, loving, and good.

     Today was a gift... a beautiful and perfect gift.

     I am loved. I made the choice today to love. I love because He first showed me what love really means.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Choosing Beauty

     I love this...

     Waking up at 4am, the fights over nap time, eating, bath time, not being able to do certain things I once could do alone... all because of a certain little someone.

     She is work. A lot of work. And due to her background and current problems that are not easily fixed, she will continue to be a lot of work.

     But that's ok.

     I went to bed last night genuinely excited because I would be able to hold her in a few hours when she wakes up the next (and hopefully not sooner) morning. I stare at her face and memorize her features. In just a few days, I know that she loves juice and fruit, and especially yogurt. She fusses at bath time, but loves when I pour the water over her head. She is afraid, and so she must learn to try new things. There is life inside of her... I know it.

     I call her a  name that means "beautiful" because that is what He spoke to my heart. "Speak beauty over her". Beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit... beauty of tenderness, kindness, a grace that reveals the glory of God. The beauty of restoration, wholeness, life.

     Someday I will tell you the story of how God has been preparing my heart for her. but for now, just know that the creator of the universe is that kind, that good, that He will prepare us before He bestows His gifts.

     And this love is not a feeling. Sure, I get warm fuzzes and feel excited when i see her, but after three hours of crying, those feelings fade. i choose to love her. He gave her to me, for however long He allows, but I can choose to say yes or no.

     And I chose yes. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Clinging to Him...

     It was 3 am when we finally locked eyes. She touched my face... really more like hit it the way babies do, and rolled over and went back to sleep.

     "Come and hear all you who fear God; let me tell you what He has done for me..." (Psalm 66:16)

      I remember being at church camp the summer after I graduated, and during small group time, a dear friend shared about a song she had sung the day before in the talent show. That song spoke to her even as she was singing it, because it was like God was showing her who she would be in the future. For some reason, I've never forgotten that.

       Maybe because now, as I read through Psalm 66, clinging to it like a lifeline, I feel like the future me is speaking to the present me. I want to share how God has answered all my prayers and relieved my burdens. I want to tell you the people I love are whole and restored.

        But right now, I am angry. God, I am so angry. I am angry because my new little brother is fighting for his life against a disease I don't understand.

       I am angry because his doctors treat him like a squatter child, and they treat me like a stupid idiot. "Ma'am, street children usually come from dysfunctional families and have a history of substance abuse". Really? Well, no-duh Sherlock. It took every ounce of grace I had to keep from ripping her Tiffany &Co. necklace off her throat.

       I am angry because they scared him when they had to take him aside for "counseling". And really, what in the world does school attendance have to do with the fact that he is possibly going to die?

       I am angry because the little girl sleeping in my bed is broken, so very broken. Because someone decided she was not worth protecting and would serve a better purpose used. Her eyes are like those of the women I encountered in the RLDs. Dead, barricaded, trying to survive by shear force of will.

      She has been through hell.

     And my heart breaks for her... because no one spoke for her. Her siblings were too afraid to be her voice. In the rush of politics and that ridiculous sin called pride, she has been forgotten.

      There are other little ones here, other broken hearts, other stories, but these two are the heaviest on my heart. They are the two I must give more attention. I must be a big sister to my little brother, reminding him that he will not walk through this alone. He can trust me. And ultimately, He can trust Jesus. And then I step into role of protector, temporary mamma, for my new baby girl who is now (finally) sleeping in the crib beside my bed.

        Elisabeth Elliot once said that she never wrote about emotions, but only about what she knew.

        This is what I know:
        1. Jesus wept, and Jesus was angry because of sin... because things were not as they were intended to be. I am allowed to be angry at the sin. I am allowed to be broken and weep because of it.
        2. I know that weeping lasts for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
        3. I know that He is mighty to save. He will quiet me with his love and rejoice over me with singing.
        4. I know that my struggle is not against flesh and blood, and there is an Enemy who would love to see us destroyed.
        5. I know that by His stripes, we are healed.
        6. I know that even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil because He is with me.
        7. I know that He is victorious and will not be robbed of His glory.
        8. I know He has a plan in this. There is a purpose, even if I can't see it.
        9. I know that His grace is sufficient.
       10. I know that He is my portion and my cup.
       11. I know that He is El-Roi... the God who sees me.
       12. I know that He is strong, and He is loving.
       13. I know that I will be able to declare His goodness, His faithfulness, testify to His healing, and sing of His grace. I will one day shaw with You what He does for my little ones.
       14. I also know that my kids are pretty darn cute.

      When I am afraid. When I am unsure. When I need faith. When I need grace. I declare His character and His truth. I replace lies with certainty.

        Believing in a big God.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Greater than all my sins...

"But He gives greater grace...."

     A promise from James 4, something I have been contemplating, repeating, diving deeper inside during this past week. My director is gone, visiting sick relatives on the other side of the world, leaving us in charge.

     And I breathe deep, pleading that all will stay well, the babies will stay well, crisis will stay away, that I will not disappoint.

      I fail, my judgmental attitude damaging possible friendships and building walls instead of breaking them down. I raise my voice to the child who disobeys. I let the venom and sarcasm spill when I should have been silent.

     But He gives greater grace....

     And I breathe deep, surrounded by sickness as I wait for the doctor, grateful that my baby's problems are fixable, not life threatening, hopeful. I look into her eyes, tired from a long journey to be seen by a doctor who does not know and does not care. I hold her son for a moment, the skin and bones filling my arms, taking hold of my heart. I know their names, I kiss her cheek. His eyes will not leave my mind.

       I am frustrated because one minor problem that, in my country, would never be a big deal, has left healing delayed longer. We must wait, repeat the process. And my deep breathing is released into a very deep sigh.

      But He gives greater grace....

     I returned today to find her, the mother and the boy with the haunted eyes. I walk around the hospital, asking searching, praying, hoping. I see her, a grandmother with a one year old little girl, sweetest smile in the world. We speak in my limited Tagalog. Cancer, she says. The parents are in Dubai. The world rests on her shoulders. I know their names, I kiss her cheek. Her eyes will not leave my mind.

      But He gives greater grace....

     "What did I ever do to deserve this?", I question at least ten times a day.

      When I am covered with five little bodies who all want to love and be loved.
      When my cheeks are wet with their kisses.
      When my heart warms with their smiles.
      When I watch him discover something so small as water falling from a rooftop. Why have I stopped            
      delighting in the little things?
      When I watch them dance.
      When he looks at me with such pride and joy because he is so, so close to taking steps.
      When my little brothers tease me, hug me, jump behind walls and scare me.
      When, little by little, she begins to trust me.
      When, for some reason, the Creator of the Universe allows me the privilege of looking into someone's eyes and speaking life over them.

      Even though I am broken. Even though I am so selfish. Even though I am despicable and stubborn. Even though my pride is worn like a crown.

      Oh, dear friends, He gives greater grace. Grace to cover a multitude of sins. Grace to sustain in the pain, uncertainty, fear. Grace that restores, hopes, loves, endures, builds.

      Grace to cover one even such as me.

      And I breathe deep, breathing in this grace. And I come to life.