Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Love Song for a Savior and a Letter to Say Good Bye

In open fields of wild flowers, she breathes the air and flies away. She thanks her Jesus for the daisies and the roses, in her simple language. Someday she’ll understand the meaning of it all…

He gave me a song for you. 

I watched you dance to this song, your first ballet. You would sing it around the house with the other kids. We listened to it over and over until I begged you to make it stop. 

I sat there in the dark after I was given the news, and I asked Him for something to let me know He was there, that you're ok.

And the melody began to play.

And then I realized, the song is you. It's me. 

And the tears finally began to fall.

Our human minds can only comprehend so much. We look around and see pain and suffering. We wonder where He is in this... where is the purpose, the hope? If God is so good, then why this?

And really, my mind is so simple. I thank him for the daisies and roses, when really, he offers me so much more... more than I can even imagine. 

And even though this doesn't make sense, we have to trust... someday we will understand the meaning of it all... why this pain, this heartache, this stretching, this disease, this ache... Why? 

I’m jealous of you.

I’m jealous, dear little one, that you get to understand before I do.

My mind is struggling to comprehend it. My heart doesn’t want to believe it. But you are gone, and all I can do is try and figure out what to do with the jumbled pieces of memories and moments.

How do I grieve you? My little sister, my friend.

There was so much you wanted to do… become a flight attendant, have a family, graduate from college in red high heels.

And now it won’t happen.

You were so frustrating with your stubborn personality. Sometimes you absolutely drove me crazy.

And in my selfishness, there were moments when I would rather do anything in the world except take care of you.

But really, dear girl, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

I wouldn’t trade the sleepless nights, the arguments, the moments of frustration and tears because for all of those moments that made life difficult, there so many more moments of joy….

My excitement when you finally could eat something and keep it down.

Hugs out of nowhere.

Fixing your hair and makeup for church.

Singing and laughing with you.

All of our talks about boys.

Praying, reading Scripture, learning how to love Him more and more together.

Watching you grow stronger and stronger.

Sing “Happy Birthday” to you over a beautiful cake, the tears you cried over the joy of experiencing this birthday, the one you thought would never come.

Watching you dance, your smile, your joy.

I miss your laugh.

I miss you.

And there will probably be a part of me that always will.

You are the first little one I have been able to give tears, actually weep.

And today, as we sang “Revelation Song” in church, they filled my eyes as I pictured you with Him. You and I had worshipped together in this church, and now… you are home. I have been given a taste, and you have experienced everything.

Did you run to Him?

What was the first thing you did when you walked inside heaven? Are you still running, finally able to move without any concern of pain? Is your broken tooth fixed? Are you still smiling? Does your stomach ache from laughing?

It is such a beautiful thing to be able to have hope and joy in Christ, knowing this is not the end, but still, my human heart aches.

You were my miracle.

I wanted your story to be different. I wanted to always be your big sister... I wanted to watch you grow up and shop with you for those red high heels. I wanted to dream with you. 

I don’t know how to process this, and it will be years before I even begin to understand what in the world His plan and purpose in the past eight months has been.

Because, right now, I don't understand. And it doesn't seem right or fair. 

I don't get it. And for right now, that's ok.

All I know is that I loved you dearly, my little sister.

And I am so grateful that you knew I loved you.

I am so grateful that I was given the chance to love you, and although I made many mistakes, there was a lot, by His grace, I did right.

The Lord gave you to us, and He took you away.

And I will bless His name.

Being your Ate was a blessing.

I love you sweet girl, and I miss you so much.

You finally understand, don't you?

Someday He’ll call her and she will come running, and fall in his arms. The tears will fall down and she’ll say… I want to fall in love with you. I want to fall in love with you. I want to fall in love with you. I want to fall in love with you…
                                                                                            ~ "Love Song For a Savior"
                                                                                                           Jars of Clay

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In a world where very little goes right, there will always be you.

Big sisters don’t often look up to their little sisters. I guess I am the exception, because you, my dear little sister are a challenge and an inspiration to me.

If we were the characters in Little Women, you would be Beth… hands down, you are Beth (whether you like it or not).

I say that because there has always been this kindness about you, a gentleness that draws people close and makes them want to stay a while. Maybe it’s because that’s what you do… you open your heart, welcome others inside, and keep them comfortable enough to relax, to take a breath, to rest.

In the same way, there has always been this beautiful trust and light about you. You see the world differently than most, and where others have to look for the beauty, it’s just there before you. For example, when you were little, you trusted that the squirrels would be kind enough to leave pecans for you to eat. You trusted that Cinnamon would one day be gentle enough to pet, even though the rest of us ran from her in her early puppy days. You are kind to the people I am afraid of, and your friendships have challenged my ways of thinking.

You have always been your own person, making no apologies, being yourself. Cowboy boots, beads around your head, red skinny jeans, leather jackets, really… whatever you want, you wear, and somehow you always look beautiful.

But really, you could wear a burlap sack and still be beautiful. That’s just who you are. Because your beauty on the outside is a reflection of who you are on the inside… fearfully and wonderfully made.

And really, my dear sister, you are one of my favorite people in the world, and you never fail to make me laugh. There are some moments that I can only share with you, and you always make me feel better when I am with you.

To your Beth, I will always be Meg… the “mother”, the nagger, the worrier, the one who just wants to protect you, because it’s not that I don’t trust you… I don’t trust the world. I want you to always be kind, trusting, gentle, seeing the beauty, and everything inside of me wield the Xena sword (or was it a frisbee?) to make sure no one ever tries to hurt you. The world needs more people like you.

And if the world had more of you… there would be more joy, more laughter, more silliness, more hugs, more time playing and less time worrying, less anger, less evil, more hope.

Unfortunately, there is only one you... so be you, please, and nothing else. Because the world needs you.

Don’t get me all wrong though, because although you are kind and gentle, you are also fierce, and sometimes terrifying, and thank God I have never had to be your opponent in an athletic competition. Because, girl, you are scary ("beastly" I believe is a word that has been used).

I don’t know when it happened, but all of the sudden, I blinked and you grew up. And I don’t want it to happen because I want you to always be little, and I want us to always be little… to never grow up.

But it happened… and today you are 20 years old.

I read this quote this morning, and it has really stuck with me:

“If you give God the right to yourself, He will make a holy experiment out of you—and holy experiments always succeed”. (My Utmost for His Highest)

I know the word experiment tends to conjure images of operating tables and Frankenstein… at least it does for me.

But here is the thing sis, you are not your own. Your gifts, your talents, your beauty, they are not your own. You belong to Him. And really, you only have one thing you can offer Him... the right to yourself.

My prayer for you is that this will be the year when you discover Him more deeply and fully than you ever imagined possible. Pursue Him and follow His heart, knowing His arms are open and He delights in you. He doesn’t just tolerate you. Oh no, my love, He delights in you.

Delight in Him. Not so that He will give you the desires of your heart or because it feels good. Delight in Him because you belong to Him, you are treasured by Him, and in Him there is joy beyond measure.

Become a holy experiment… offer you heart and life, and watch in amazement as he takes you on this journey of an incredible life you could not have dreamed for yourself.

Will it be scary? Yes. Will it hurt? Sometimes… but dear sister, there will always be grace. And there will always be joy.

Because more than anything, the world needs you, being yourself, passionately pursuing His heart. And when you do that, dear sister, you will be incredible, a force with which to be reckoned. And that is a beauty and a joy that time, evil, heartache, could never destroy.

I love you so much, and I wish that I could be there in person to celebrate your special day with you.

You are my Bop, my Jen Jen, my Beth, and my heart. 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

When it's time to let go... Again

I know this stance well...

Shoulders hunched, looking down, hands cupped tightly around my hopes, dreams, fears, plans. I know them all by name. They have been constant, steady companions. They are my prized collection, my greatest treasures... they make up me. 

He knows this. He knows the deepest corners of my heart where these precious treasures lie. He knows  how I lie awake at night making plans and dreaming dreams for the future. He knows what makes my heart sing and soar with the thought of new possibilities. 

He knows how much I love them. 

And yet, there He stands with hands stretched out gently, asking me to give them up, once again. 

"Why?" I ask. 

I hold them closer, clenching them to my chest. Why must He ask so much? Demand so much?

Because maybe, just maybe, He has something better in store. 

It was this time four years ago that I made a decision to say yes when He called. He had called even before then, when I was eight years old, and I had said yes. And then, at 19, I stepped out. 

Four years ago, my feet touched the ground of a little island called the Philippines. Was it everything I had planned? Absolutely not. Was it my dream? No. 

It was even better. 

Time after time, He asks me to let go... names, hopes, dreams. 

Some decisions are more agonizing than others. Some require a continual letting go as the five year old inside of me tries to snatch it back and screams "Mine!!!!".

I hold my treasures close, assuming my defensive stance is one of protection, but really, it's destructive. 

There is a reason why the stance of worship is of open and outstretched hands...

When my hands are open, there are no more weights no more burdens... only freedom, sweet and glorious freedom. Nothing can chain me. 

With one hands, I can receive. 

Why though, do I always assume he wants to only give me pain and heartache? Why do I always assume that He will come with a fist of judgment and my hands immediately fly to cover my face from a blow?

Maybe, deep inside, I still don't trust, still need more trust.

Maybe, deep inside, I haven't fully understood the free gift of grace. I haven't let it wash over me, cover me.

And really it's all because of everything I have been holding on to... how can I receive grace with clenched fists? How can I welcome love with folded arms?

I want it all... more grace, more love, more and more of Him. But if I want it all, I must let go.

Slowly, yet surely, I name them, my precious dreams, hopes, fears... it feels like I am giving away a child, piece after piece of my heart.

And He takes them, one by one, with the kindest eyes and the gentlest touch.

He understands. He knows the pain of "Not my will, but yours".

I can trust Him.

I can breathe.

"Will I ever get them back?" I whisper... but I know the answer, and we have been here many times before.

I will trust. I will allow him to replace my dreams with His.

And something strange happens when I release my treasures into His arms... I feel joy. Unexplainable, perfect joy. And peace.

And my heart knows that my treasures will be safe with Him. He will protect, He will guide.

I stretch my arms and wiggle my fingers, cramped from holding on so tightly.

And I almost forgot... I can't hold His hands with fists. When I hold on, I am alone. But when I let go, I allow Him to come near, and I draw closer.

And together, we run.

"Lord, I give up all my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes, and accept Thy will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to Thee to be Thine forever. Fill me and seal me with Thy Holy Spirit. Use me as Thou wilt, work out Thou whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."
                                                                                              ~Betty Stam, missionary to China