Roads

Gravel roads were not a rarity in Illinois. Our little town was surrounded by them.  Blacktop roads connected neighboring burgs, but if you wanted a shortcut – gravel roads were the way to go. Farms sat still in weighted clouds of dust as yellow rock twisted its way around green yards and bean fields, past white farmhouses and barns. Today I would call this the scenic route. But in my mid twenties it was road therapy as I tried to self-heal the wounds from four years past.

Early mornings found my little car and me dilly-dallying on these back roads as I headed to work at a nearby land development. Camera ready on the seat next to me, I looked for metaphors of my mood. As fog hung heavy one morning, I pulled over to capture a lonely tree stranded mid-field. A rusty watering tank sat off to its side. (I’m empty.) A stormy morning brought a huddle of cows to shelter under that same tree. Heads hanging low, they seemed too tired or too afraid to look up. (I’m weak). Though cloudy days are my favorite, it was a sunny morning that shone on a most tender snapshot.  Around the final curve a white two story farmhouse brought to mind pictures of my grandparents’ home. A young mother, on her knees in the grass, planted flowers as her two young children toddled nearby. They were living lives of love. (I’m hopeful).

I did not pray that morning for a life that mirrored what I saw, but an unspoken yearning cried out from deep inside. And the God of my childhood heard. He paved a road to the Way and my emptiness was filled. My weak soul was nurtured to strength by my newly found Hope. My God lifted me up and gifted me with a new life – a life of living Love.

In the day when I cried out, You answered me, And made me bold with strength in my soul.  Psalm 138:3

 

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Can You Feel the Love?

Image result for heartCried out in stadiums, “Can you feel the love?” is more worthy of an exclamation point than a question mark. In whispered conversations it’s grumbled with deep sarcasm and a roll of the eyes. Forget the question mark. Finish it with a period.

That same question rises earnestly from deep inside me as I look into the eyes of my grandchildren. Silently I ask, “Can you feel the love? Can you see in my eyes how much I love you? CAN – YOU – FEEL – THE – LOVE!”. My throat clenches and I want to cry.

I love conversations with my older grands. They casually tell me about their lives         and what their interests are at the moment. School. Friends. What’s fair and unfair.  Likes and dislikes. Parents. (I smile.) How my phone works – yep. But then I find myself lost in THEM. “Remember this face,” I think,  “this smile, in this moment at this age. Their eyes – can they see my love pouring out for them?” I reel it in, bringing myself back to our conversation, feeling like I’ve just entered into it from another room.

With the younger grands I’m free to be bold. “Come here for just a sec! Let me see those eyes!” I cup their face in my hands, willing them to peer deep. They smile at me, expectantly, quizzically. Are they able to see in my eyes the wonderful hurt that comes from a love that I can’t explain? Does that piercing love, when it goes out from me, ache in them when it’s received?

God questions me, “Can you feel the love? Can you see in my Word how much I love you? Search deeply, receive, and live!”

Jesus was pierced for my sin because of His love for me. Now I ache with a deep love for Him. Will my grandchildren ever understand the depth of my love that I have for them?  They may some day when they are grandparents. In the meantime I will continue to love them without measure. Because that is how my God loves me.

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!  1John 3:1

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Shoes in the Sky

I don’t remember much about Sunday School and church, but we went. When five years old, I once had a difficult day with my brother. Crying, I ran outside to swing and started pumping. I vividly remember pressing my shoes to the sky, thinking, “I’m going to swing  HIGH, so I can get close to Jesus.” Why did I think that?

Fast forward to my sophomore year in high school. I fell quickly for the star of the football and basketball teams. We were the couple. By our senior year, he was pressuring for a more intimate, physical relationship. As we sat in the car one night, I remember telling him, “I don’t know why I feel this way, but I think I’m supposed to wait until after marriage.” Why did I feel that?

At age 20, we married. I watched as he was unfaithful in our marriage, thoughtless toward me, and selfish in his “all-about-me” lifestyle”. I silently yearned to make a home for a loving husband and children. We divorced after four years. I remember weeping, crying out to God, “Why is this happening to me? I’m a nice person!” But I had been unfaithful too. Not in my marriage, but to my God. I had been thoughtless, not toward my husband but to my Lord. I had been selfish in my “all-about-me” lifestyle, not in my marriage but to the One who gave His life for me – Jesus Christ. It would be years before I realized this.

Looking for a new home, I drove into a little town in Wisconsin. I told my sister, “This is where I’m supposed to be.” She asked me how I could know – it was dark! I couldn’t answer then – I just knew.

I can answer now. God.

I was broken, disillusioned, haggard, hardened. But God gently led me here, where I met and fell in love with the kindest young man I had ever known in my life. A patient young man. A balm to my soul. He mirrored Christ to me.

We have been married for 41 years and blessed with five wonderful children.

What have I learned? God is very real. He loves. He pursues. He Heals. He blesses. He saves. He wanted more than my Sundays. He wanted a relationship. That day on the swing as a child, seeing my shoes in the sky? Now I know. He wanted ME.

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      “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; He drew me out of deep waters.  He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me.”    Psalm 18:16,19