Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Light in the Darkness

The White Witch's rein has ended in Narnia...at least it felt like we lived in Narnia those many days of ice and snow, with the trees covered in layers of ice while all was still and cold and quiet. But now Aslan must be on the move, for all has melted and the sun shines.

During those days of ice, we had one full day without electricity. It was amazing to see how much I take it for granted until it's no longer there. It was especially difficult when the darkness descended early that evening, as I had been struggling with my own inner darkness of fears and frustrations that weekend. Yet the Light of the World pierced through as my family sang praise and worship songs and my brother played guitar. There was beauty in the darkness. Without distractions, I was able to focus on the lyrics even more. With full heart, I sang "Blessed Be Your Name," making the words my own honest prayer to God: "When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say 'Blessed be Your Name.'"

That's all He asks. That we trust Him in the dark. That we bless His name and praise Him in good and bad. That we believe He is not only with us in the dark, but that He is bringing us through it to the light.

I hope you all had a beautiful Christmas, celebrating the coming of the Light of the World. I also pray you have a wonderful New Year. Life is beautiful, isn't it?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Life Lessons Happen Even In Grocery Stores

Somehow this year I forgot how busy the stores can be the week before Christmas...until I walked into Meijer to get some groceries for the cozy Christmas party I was having the Saturday before Christmas. Shoppers were everywhere. My blood pressure rose instantly.

All I wanted were a few ingredients and I could already see it was going to take me double the time it normally would. That in itself irritated me, as well as the secularism all around me. The atmosphere of rushing, spending, hurrying, and buying smothered me as I pushed my cart through the swarms of people. It was like a never-ending maze. I plastered a smile on my face as I said "excuse me" countless times with forced politeness.

Finally, I was making progress with a few items in my cart. I turned a corner at the end of the aisle and found myself behind the slowest cart yet. Seeing no way around it, silent grumbling began to form in my mind. Then my eyes took in the rest of the scene. A older gentleman was pulling the shopping cart behind him as he pushed his wife ahead of him in a wheelchair. Slowly. Calmly. Patiently.

Emotions swelled in my heart as the complaining thoughts disappeared. I felt guilt for the impatience I had shown while this man's patience so clearly surpassed all those around him. I was ashamed that I had joined in the hurried mentality of other shoppers while he slowly and gently guided his wife and their items throughout the store.

My to-do list seemed trivial as I watched this display of true love-- sacrificial, unconditional, and absolutely beautiful. Much like the love of the Son of God who came to us that first Christmas. Sacrificial, unconditional love that would hang on a cross to save sinners. Absolutely beautiful.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

This Cross...Again

This cross, Lord, it's here again.
I thought I'd left it far behind.
The pain and all the heartache
They were memories in my mind.

Yet once again they grip my heart
The fears, the pain, the ache
I'm not ready to carry it again
But it's here for me to take.

You were faithful through the first time
And I know right now you're here.
Please send me grace and strength I need
And catch these streaming tears.

I'm not the only one with pain
Greater crosses others bear
So through these blinding tears
Help me see their needs with care.

Although my arms are tired
And with this to hold feel weak
Give them strength to reach to others
Sharing comfort that they seek.

My voice, it oftens falters
When I speak of this ache and fear
Instead, in good or bad, I ask
Let it praise You, strong and clear.

For You are ever faithful
I've seen it times before
You walk with me on this journey
To show Your love once more.

I thank You for Your love
For the help You always send
I thank You for Your care
And how aching hearts you mend.

Your plan for us is perfect
I'm convinced that it is true
So with strengthened heart, I'm ready
To carry this cross for You.

-Laura Anne, December 2008

I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow to learn the Creighton Model of charting for NFP so that eventually, tests can be done to evaluate my hormones and see if there are any abnormalities. I knew it was coming up, but for some reason it didn't sink in until yesterday when the doctor called to confirm the appointment and discuss some things with me.

And then the fears and the pain of this spring washed over me once again. The familiar questions, the familiar frustrations, the familiar heartache-- once again pressing on every side. I thought my time of carrying this cross was finished, and to take it up again is so difficult.

I talked to Jesus last night about it and asked Him to help me find that strength and hope I found earlier this year. That trust in Him and that faith to wait patiently in the unknown. I know He is sending His grace and aid and that He will walk beside me every step.

Well, my spiritual muscles, you've had a long enough warm-up. It's time to get into the workout.