On home and the holidays.

I have a special little tree of my own in my home, and it’s full of gingerbread men.

The collection started the first Christmas after my first son arrived 18 years ago, and continued as my collection of “little men” grew to three.

Three plump-cheeked, smiling, laughing boys.

Three now nearly grown, handsome sons.

 
It’s just a tree, to most folks.

But to me, it’s HOPE.

See, like many–too many–I struggle with the holidays. If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know I have PTSD from childhood. And while I try–and often do–find much joy in the songs and the celebration of my Savior, a part of me remains skittish, fearful, and yes, even afraid. That’s the lifelong “gift” of being a survivor. The elusive feeling that “something bad is going to happen” lurks long and dark in candlelit corners.

So maybe you can see why this tree…one that celebrates the new home, the new family, the dedication to safely raising sons who won’t have to know the traumas we’ve been through…this tree brings me hope.

It brings me thanksgiving that while healing is hard it bears fruit.

That while the world intends to harm, the Lord can transform pain into good.

That while darkness threatens the innocence of too many children, light can and does prevail.

And so I pray this prayer today for those of you like me, for whom the holidays are a bit rough and crinkly, that you’ll find your own special way of celebrating the good and lovely, the beauty God traded for the ashes of your pain, the praise God exchanged for your mourning when He sent his Son for you.

Pray with me?

Dearest Lord and Savior, help us remember that while You are defined by overwhelming grandeur, You came to us in the simple.

That while choruses rock and praise, You are most often heard in the silence of those who tremble and fear like the shepherds.

That while we wrap up and cook up and tidy up, You’re more often found–and never leave us alone–in our messes.

That while we rush about and push through lines and traffic You wait to embrace us in the still, small hours.

That no matter how dressed up, lit up, choreographed, orchestrated, our attempts are to make Christmas about fortissimos and crèchendos, You are the only true light.

We fall on our knees, Lord.

Oh, how we fall.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, that through Your love and healing…

…You raise us up to dance again.

 
And that You bring us safely, wholly, home.

 

The inky truth of grace

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The words of the old hymn caught my ear as I fiddled with the church bulletin and struggled to settle in to the Sunday service, mentally, physically and spiritually.

Some Sunday mornings are like that, after all. 

The cross hangs in the front of the sanctuary, and yet my world is spinning around it so fast I can hardly focus on it. So much grief and atrocity, illness and loss,  temptation and the subtle idolatries of daily, suburban survival cloud my mind from the peace and easy yoke my Savior offers.

And that’s just the external concerns of life.

Internally, I struggle with being good enough to deserve God’s redemptive, adoptive, unfathomably unconditional love, let alone write stories about it. 

And yet, as the words of the old hymn poured over my restless doubts, my wandering heart, and my stained and ugly soul,  I realized I’m right where God wants me.

Although God might appreciate a perfect life, He knows firsthand there is no such thing.

And so He chases after the unfettered soul.

He salves the bleeding heart.

He woos the wayward sin-whore.

He runs to the pig-sh**-laden prodigal.

He catches us with His mercy.

He showers us with His grace.

He doesn’t just put white-out over our sins and stains and pain.

He removes them.

He forgets them.

And then He co-authors a new story with us.  

A story no scroll can hold.

A story no ocean of ink can supply.

A story of grace, eternal.

There’s some glory in that, friends, isn’t there? 

Glory! 

*****

“God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. As high as heaven is over the earth, so strong is his love to those who fear him. And as far as sunrise is from sunset, he has separated us from our sins. As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him.”

Psalm 103:9-13 (TMV)

*****  

He knows. Hope and encouragement for #csa #survivors. 

For anyone who’s ever been told to hush, or that no one will believe you, or that your story is too dark to be told. 

God knows your pain.

He sees your wounds–and every person who ever inflicted them.

He heals.

He restores.

And He will bring justice.