Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Walking Wounded

Child of divorce
Estranged daughter and sister
Daughter of a raging, abusive alcoholic
Recovering anorexic
Sufferer of situational depression
Mom of a dead son
Flawed wife
Imperfect mom

If I were to look at this list and try to sum it up, there are a lot of things that come to mind. Messed up. Sad. Worthless. In a word: Broken. 

But what if I told you that this wasn't just any list, but that it was my list. A list of just some of my flaws and "issues." And not even a full list. Nope, I could definitely add more to this. Probably enough to fill pages.

We all have our list.

But this isn't just a list; it's a person. A person who you know and see and talk to every week or even every day. A person that is not just a list of words and things and flaws, but a person who matters. A life that matters and was made for so much more than all the bad, horrible things I could come up with to describe myself.

What if I were able to view myself the way that God sees me? I think that list would look something like this:

Child of God
Daughter of a King
Blessed mom to one angel and one living miracle
Blessed wife

What if I could replace my list with His list? What would my life look like? How could I impact the lives of others? How could God really use me if I viewed myself through His eyes? And even more, what if I could view others through His eyes?

My friend Kelly and I always joke about how great it would be if we all wore our "stuff" on a tee shirt for everyone to see. That we'd walk into a room and see someone with our same faults or failures or struggles and we'd squeal with delight as we ran to them because we'd know that they could relate. There's certainly comfort in knowing that someone gets it and that we're not alone. 

But the truth is, we shouldn't have to broadcast our crud in order to give or receive kindness or understanding or love or support or encouragement. We need to realize that we're all wounded. We all have a story. We're all just a bunch of broken people who have a laundry list of faults and regrets who on any given day, are just trying to make it. 

But, we have Jesus. Oh, how grateful I am for just the thought or whisper of His name! We may feel broken at times, but there's One so much greater who always puts us back together. 

Despite all of my shortcomings, there's someone who loves me so much that He gives me grace and forgiveness And once you have that gift, you can't help but to live and breath and walk in that truth.

And in that truth, there is Hope.

Monday, September 16, 2013

With Love, by Grandma

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of times spent at my Grandparents Michigan home. Picking warm tomatoes and strawberries from my grandma's garden and eating them in delight as the juice ran down my face. Watching summer hailstorms from the porch swing. Learning how to cross stitch when I was seven years old. And perhaps my favorite, watching my grandma in absolute awe while she sat at her sewing machine.

I could find her busy in her sewing room at all times of the day (or night), working on her latest project. The small, cozy room was strewn with fabrics of all colors and patterns. Files contained patterns for everything from curtains to dresses to pajamas. I was always so intrigued by the sewing patterns. The idea that you could take pieces of fabric that looked like nothing and turn them into something that could actually used. 

And she was always working on something for us grandkids. New flannel pajamas for Christmas morning. A new dress for my first day of school. Beautiful flannel quilts, perfect for snuggling. And perhaps my favorite part - a tag that finished each and every gift that simply said, 'Made With Love, by Grandma.' I would run my little fingers over the tag and I just knew that the words were true. 

When Grandma was in the midst of a blanket, her sewing room looked like chaos. Tiny patches would lay in piles around the room. I would hear the forward of her machine as she would sew and sometimes, the reverse when she didn't get it quite right. She would take it off and pull out the seams by hand until they were straight. For grandma, it had to be perfect.

I would peer over her shoulder to try to catch a glimpse of what she was working on and often leave in frustration. It was taking too long and didn't really look like anything but a mess of inside out fabric squares. I would nag her about when it would be finished because I wanted my gift now, but she always emphasized patience. She said that she could hurry through, but that it wouldn't come out right. That I had to wait and she then would reassure me that what she had planned would be worth the wait. And it always was.

And finally, she would present to me with her gift. What began as small, multicolored squares was now a beautiful flannel quilt made just for me. A quilt that I would sleep with every night. A quilt that I would snuggle with during Saturday morning cartoons and would accompany me on overnight trips. A quilt that would cover my head at night as I heard the distant yelling of my parents fighting again. And finally, the comfort I needed as I said goodbye to grandma when cancer took her from our family. 

So often when I think about what God has done and continues to do with my life, it usually doesn't make much sense. It looks like a pile of accomplishments and disappointments. Good and bad choices. Love and heartache. Life and loss. 

I see the events of my life strewn around me and I can't see how it's all going to fit together. I beg God to hurry up and let me see even just a glimpse of what He's doing. I feel parts of my life being torn apart, but not without Him lovingly putting them back together again; each time a little stronger than before. As the years go on, He reveals small sections that have been pieced together and always bring me one step closer to looking more like His son.

Although I may never see the full realization of what God has planned for my life while I'm on this earth, I have absolute trust that it is good and perfect. And finally, one sweet day, I will look back at the finished piece and like all of my grandma's projects, I will see His fingerprints all over my life and I can  absolutely certain that it is all 'With Love, by God'.