On Loving and Longing

it’s Valentine’s Day next week, and the aisles at Target are working overtime to make sure we know that love is in the air, am I right? 

And does it seem like we are all collectively trying to feel light, flirty, and happy…yet know that life is truly often heavy, burdensome, and even our best days are as the Psalmist says: “but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.” (Psalm 90:10)

I’m not trying to be a downer; I’m just telling the truth from where I’m seeing it: Love is sweet and fragrant and fun, but it also requires labor, sacrifice, and diligence. I can’t look at pink hearts without considering all the purple ones too in the trenches of life. Love and loss, love and longing…seems to always go hand in hand.

After almost 19 years of marriage and loving a husband plus six kiddos…love (the verb) and the celebration of it feels much different than it used to:

Less fluff and more foundation. Less stuff and more substance. Less heartburn, but more heartache.

Life is full of opportunities to love, feel longing or loss, and to love anyway.

I’ve been thinking on these things as Valentine’s Day approaches and GraceLaced Shoppe launched the Be Still Series this week (with a sale!) The series is about fighting chaos and the discouragement of waiting for change, with the steadying truth of God’s Word. It’s His Word that reminds us that:

He is good when He blesses and takes away. He is not through with us yet and will indeed wipe away every tear and make all things new. We can be still because He is still on the throne, even when everything is not perfectly lovely or loving.

Love and longing can sometimes feel like the same thing: Both make the heart ache and both teach us to trust what we can’t always see with our eyes. 

So maybe these verses meet you at the intersection of loving and loss, maybe they find you yearning and waiting, and maybe these verses remind you that you must just keep pressing on in love and praise because Christ is love and your life is in Him.

I hope so.


*And if these (or anything else in the shoppe) speaks to you this week, we are having a shoppe-wide sale, so enjoy the discount and free print promo through Wednesday 2/15. 


Cheering you on, friends.

Because of grace,

 

(Family portrait by my friend, Joy Prouty of Wildflowers Photography)

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When You’re Heartbroken and Afflicted

Friends, I lost a dear friend to cancer today. A friend who is my age, a friend I’ve known since high school, a friend who lives in my neighborhood, a friend who’s children are in class with my kids. My head knows that there is no greater place to be than in the arms of the Lord, but my heart misses her and aches for her family.

Whether it’s cancer or criticism….slander or suffering…it’s not wasted, John Piper reminds us here…

…our afflictions are producing in us a weight of glory yet unseen. 

When you know not what else to do…ache, sob, press in, and praise Him.

When Your Hurting Heart Needs Hope and the GraceLaced Mondays Link Up

Welcome to GraceLaced Mondays, a link up dedicated to sharing any and all blog posts by like-minded lovers of grace–God’s grace! Grace is found in the everyday when you are intentional about taking note of it…and I invite you to share your story, great or small, of how everyday moments are full of Grace.

It is found in the sink full of dishes awaiting you after a family meal, it shines in the faces of your imperfect children, it soothes from the pages of God’s Word, and it is tucked into the enjoyment of a fresh batch of cookies. Grace is in a beautiful moment and a heartbreaking one alike. Grace is blessing beyond what you and I deserve.

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I am privileged to introduce one of my roommates, Rachel Wojnarowski, for the upcoming blogger’s conference as this week’s link up feature. If you’ve read Rachel’s story, you know that her heart is to build up faith in our great God in the midst of pain, suffering, and loss. Her post last week in our link-up was the first in her Hope For Hurting Hearts Series:

“Expectations come in all forms. The behavior we expect from our boss. The medical test results we assume. The types of responses we expect from our spouses.

So what happens when that expectation isn’t normal? Our world crashes down and our hearts hurt.

How do we cope when God doesn’t seem to be listening or the circumstance is NOT changing? Grieving a loss is a process- it doesn’t happen overnight. We all process at different paces and times. You can’t kiss the booboo and make it go away; there must be healing and restoration from God. But as someone who has experienced the loss of a parent, the loss of a marriage via divorce, the loss of a sweet baby by means of miscarriage and is currently experiencing my daughter’s daily terminal battle with MPS, I wanted to begin this Hope for Hurting Hearts series with the following 4 points…”

Hope For The Hurting Heart
Hope For The Hurting Heart

Please read the post here, if you haven’t already. Thank you for linking up, Rachel. I’m so blessed to know you, and to have the opportunity to know you better very soon.

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Sydney’s Song

Photo credit

In ministry, you have the privilege of walking through the greatest joys in another’s life, but sometimes the greatest heartaches. Four years ago, our dear friends who were attending our church at that time, lost their baby girl at 8 months in utero. I will never forget that day–the day we received that call, the day The Preacher drove down to the hospital to share in a grief he has never known.

Grief, loss, mourning…a journey of the heart that trudges through the treacherous waters of doubt and crosses the rivers of emotion. It’s a journey that, for our friends, have seen bitter tears, desperate hearts, and ultimately, a greater tenacity for the fullness of life in Christ. It’s a process four-years in the making, and it’s a heart’s cry that has now been penned into song.

I want to share it with you today.

http://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/v=2/track=345702061/size=venti/bgcol=FFFFFF/linkcol=4285BB/

Please click over and listen/buy the song. It’s only $2 to download, and ALL PROCEEDS GO TO AN ADOPTION FUND!

Lyrics

He gives and takes away
You were never meant to stay…
in our arms

Goodbyes they come too soon
Our dreams, they died with you…
that day

And while we trust, our hearts ache for you
And while we live, we live still without you

Hallelujah, this broken heart is His to mend
Hallelujah, He breathes new life in me again
Hallelujah, He is Peace, the Risen Lamb
Hallelujah, the sting of death is in His hands

He gives and takes away
He was never meant to stay…
in this world

Goodbyes they came too soon
Our hope, it died with You..
And Rose Again!

Her empty arms
His father’s heart is torn in two
Jesus you came, to make the sad untrue

words and music Ian/Alyssa Byrd
registered BMI/thunderbyrd music

Entrusted


Not many of us have experienced the pain of losing a child, much less the unthinkable tragedy that Steven Curtis Chapman’s family experienced two years ago.

In her book, Choosing to SEE: A Journey of Struggle and Hope, Mary Beth Chapman writes these words to her son Will Franklin:

You have been entrusted with an incredible pain! I’m so sorry. I wish as your mom I could take it away, but I know that God has a plan for you to steward this story well and to minister to other in your suffering.

Nothing I’ve suffered in life has ever compared to that kind of loss. Nevertheless, whatever trial, whatever suffering you are in the midst of is the pain you must contend with. Do we think of it that way when we go through times of trials and suffering?

Do we feel we are  “entrusted” with something valuable and precious? Our sovereign God has not accidentally heaped pain upon your life. Your trials are specifically designed for you in love, and He delights in carrying you through them:

We cannot fathom the intricacies of the divine plan. But make no mistake, when we are in the driest desert, we can receive the manna to make it all the way to the other side where trees bud again and children laugh. God sometimes delivers us from evils we will never see. Other times He parts raging oceans before our very eyes. Still other times He says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.” (Isa. 43:2, 5)

-from the prologue by Beth Moore

I, personally, need the reminder today: That not only does He sometimes lead us to the desert, He makes provision for us to come through it.

I admit I don’t always count it all joy, or steward my story with thanksgiving, but I am growing in it day by day. I’m giving praise today for being entrusted with whatever He chooses to bring my way, and however He chooses to carry me through.

Come Home

Our sweet dog is missing. We think she slipped out in the hustle and bustle of our six family members running in and out the front door yesterday. She did not have her collar on, and we have yet to see her on the local websites for missing pets.

We’ve had our Lu-girl since before we even started having children. Deemed a neighborhood indiscretion, she was offered for free in front of a grocery store as a week-old pup. We thought she was the sweetest thing we’d ever known, and happily welcomed the work and sacrifices required to bring her into our family. She lived at our first house, and has welcomed every one of our rambunctious boys into our lives. And, today, I’m missing her.

And as we work on all possibilities to bring my dog home, I’m thinking about what Jesus said concerning the lost sheep that “wandered off.” I’m thinking about the heart of our Savior, how He rescues us, makes us His own, and rejoices at our homecoming.

Grieving.

Grieving. I have far less experience than some with the process. For a woman of many words, my lips fall silent here in the midst of sympathy, sadness, and grief. Our dear friends have lost someone very special this week. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. I can’t pretend to understand it all, but I can seek and trust Him all the same.

 

When God is our Holy Father, sovereignty, holiness, omniscience, and immutability do not terrify us; they leave us full of awe and gratitude. Sovereignty is only tyrrannical if it is unbounded by goodness; holiness is only terrifying if it is untempered by grace; omniscience is only taunting if it is unaccompanied by mercy; and immutability is only torturous if there is no guarantee of goodwill. That which God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Thanks be to God, we know with a surety that His grace and goodness and hope and His love underlie all of these attributes. How do we know? Follow the face of Christ to the cross, and you will see it.”

–Ravi Zacharias, Cries of the Heart