Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tripping over Treasures {while Praying for a Penny}

The day after I shared the story about being challenged by my son's response to the marbles spilling all over, I had my own marbles tossed again. Nothing serious, but an emotional mack truck, nonetheless, that struck a deep chord.
Of course, completely unexpected.

To set the stage, one thing I discovered on my recent health adventure was a surprisingly long list of food allergies, and so I've been on an incredibly limited diet ever since. (We're talkin', I can pretty much count on both hands what I can eat.) And since my strength has been slow to be restored, it's been a long time since I've shared a meal with anybody aside from my husband and son (or my parents who lived with us for several months in the heat of the crisis).
Until the other night.

We sat down at the table with some family, and I didn't think much of the fact that I was unusually quiet throughout the meal because it was preceded by a tremendously rigorous day, and so I was spent! But as soon as we were home and I walked in the door, the flood gates of tears completely broke open. Seemingly out of nowhere. And all of a sudden, I realized how painfully my loss of dietary freedom was impacting me.

I was (again) feeling precicely how my son had felt the day before when he simply wanted the sense of order that had been lost to "be like it was before" . . . It was hard to not have a freedom I've always known -- the freedom to be able to eat whatever I want without any thought whatsoever. And even though I'm not one to wear my heart on my sleeve, apparently it showed all over my face when a plate of mouth-watering bruchetta was passed around, because somebody commented on my longing eyes.

It was awkward, too -- to join (or rather, not join) a typical meal setting. Not because of anything anybody said or did. Simply because I was different, which sadly, I avoid with a passion doesn't tend to be my comfort zone. And so this time, I was the one curled up in my Heavenly Father's lap, and husband's arms, crying out for something that I couldn't have.

I am grateful that I embraced the freedom to hurt and let it all out. And the freedom to say, "This is hard, Lord." And while I made it a point to thank Him for a couple of specific things from that evening, it felt contrived. It seemed near impossible to be genuinely thankful in that moment. I was struggling hard to keep perspective, and I desperately needed His help to pull it off.

I then acknowledged Him as the lifter of my head, and asked Him to please lift my eyes off of my circumstances and onto Him.

And He did.

Because then, He prompted me with this thought:

Instead of praying for restoration of something that I used to have,
why not pray that I would gain something that I've never had before?

In Him.

Truth in weakness, friends.
I'm ever grateful for it.

And please don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that God doesn't want us to bring our hearts' desires to Him. He absolutely does. Big and little! But, what if in our limited perspective, we pray for what we think would be best, while missing out on something far better? . . .

Do you ever do that kind of thing? Focus on praying for something, while likely missing treasures along the way? It's hard to see the treasures (or potential treasures) when life gets intense, isn't it? Or maybe you've walked that kind of road, and had the experience of your eyes being opened to a treasure along the way -- or after the fact. Either way, I'd sure love to hear.

Will you join me in seeking to walk by faith and not sight by asking God to open our eyes to treasures that He has that far surpass anything that we could ever ask for? . . .

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Marbles, Curve Balls, & Life's Disappointments

This afternoon, I was playing Chinese Checkers with my son. And in the middle of the game, the checkers board was suddenly bumped, and all of the marbles went flying. In every direction.
Not a single marble left on the board.

My son started to cry, so I had him crawl onto my lap so I could comfort him. And while I was holding him, he said things like, "I don't want to start all over" and "I want it to be like it was before."

I'm not proud to admit it, but typically in moments like these, I would encourage him to get over it not make a mountain out of a mole hill. (Oh yes, he's well acquainted with that phrase.)
But this time was different.
Very different.
Because as I held him crying, I could relate to him like never before.
Because I, too, recently had my own life marbles get completely tossed in every direction. Without a warning.

A year ago (almost to the date), I landed in a health crisis that I am still recovering from. Completely unexpected, I began a health decline one day in September, 2010 that started with a trip to the ER, included several more, and then hospital admission. In short, I had lost my strength so much so that my husband had to carry me to the bathroom, and at times, feed me. I didn't understand what was happening (and still really don't), but all I knew was that like my son today, I just wanted things to be like they were before.

So as my son was curled on my lap today crying, I told him that I truly understood how he was feeling. And God brought to mind something that He has been trying to get through my thick skull shown me over the past year, so I shared it with him. That is, that God wants me to focus on the things I still have, instead of all I have lost.

That has often been an incredibly difficult exercise for me, one in which I haven’t always succeeded. At the time this health journey began, my son had just started Kindergarten, and I had already enthusiastically filled out all the volunteer forms to be actively involved in his momentous year. I had also started a Bible study that I was excited about. And I had been asking God how else He wanted me to spend my time while my son was at school (all day). So many exciting opportunities! But never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that the answer would include being immobile for months on end while I watched my husband carry the weight of the world on his shoulders.

After my son calmed down this afternoon, I had to step away to take a brief phone call. When I returned to my son, he was there at the game board trying to put the marbles back where they had been. But he couldn’t remember where they went, so he kept asking me if I remembered, which was a hopeless cause I didn’t. And a little while later, he asked me if I wanted to play a different game instead. And so together, we picked up all of the marbles, put them back in the box, and got out another game. As we started it, he said, “I’m not sad, anymore, Mommy.” And when I asked him why he thought that was, he said that he was happy about playing Battleship.

You know, I’m so challenged by the way that my son handled his disappointment today because it’s a much-needed reminder of how God lovingly invites me to handle my own disappointments in life.

My Heavenly Father wants me to experience the freedom to crawl up into His lap so that He can comfort me when I need a good cry.

He wants me to know that it's okay to be disappointed.

He also wants me to not lose sight of what I have, even amidst great loss.

But the thing that struck me most about my son’s response this afternoon was that at some point, he stopped trying to pick up the pieces marbles . . .
He stopped trying to get everything back to the way it once was.

And it was then that his heart was able to find rest amidst his disappointment.

~ ~ ~
If you appreciated this, I invite you to come join our Truth in Weakness community on Facebook.

Linking up with Ann Voskamp's The Practice of Suffering Series

Friday, September 16, 2011


Let's just get this right out in the open. I have thought about blogging for two or three YEARS a while. And I kept coming up with "what ifs" . . .

  • What if I get so perfectionistic about my posts that I take all day to write them? (I may or may not have tweaked this inaugural post 38 a few times -- after it was finished. . .)

  • What if I'm not witty like my one blogger friend, or don't find a natural blogging voice like my other blogger friends? (Forget voice. I don't even know blogging lingo!)

  • What if I put too much importance on the feedback? (My people-pleasing tendancies have been knockin' on my door my whole life, so I'd much rather keep that door closed and not feed that monster, thank you very much.)

  • What if what I say isn't profound? (Heaven forbid I utter words that are -- ordinary!)

What if. What if. What if.

In other words, what if I'm not, wait for it, perfect?? (gasp!)
And thus begins my introduction. My name is Tanya, and I am a recovering perfectionist. (Recovered? Not at all. But recover-ing? Absolutely!) And as I thought about blogging for the 12,738th time again this morning, I was having a conversation with God about it. I sensed Him asking me if I wanted to have a voice (of impact). To which I replied, "Yes, I just don't know what to do with it!" At which point I sensed Him saying, "I'll show you what to do with it." (gulp.)

So I think it's time to pull back those curtains and open up the window, friends! Even though what's inside often isn't as pretty as the flowers in that window box. (Yikes!) All right, people. Here's where you remind me that I don't have to be a super-human blogger. But how about you? Have you ever felt like you needed to have the whole plan figured out before you dared to take that first step? And very possibly missed out on something quite good, as a result?
(Please say yes. Please say yes.)
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