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Sunday, January 30, 2011

My Youth Girls

As I was walking by the Vedder River this morning I was kinda in a weird head space. I’m feeling tired, like emotionally drained. The disappointment and the hurt and the lack of understanding the fairness of this all is fading. But in the wake of all these emotions and the emotions of connecting with others to thank them full heartedly for how they have loved us and supported us in this time, well in that wake is an emotional fatigue. While exploring this fatigue as I was walking I started reflecting on the love I have been given from so many wonderful people and I had to ask God, ‘what do you want from me now?’

I realize the answer as I’m writing this. Nothing. God doesn’t want an obliged act of any sort. That’s the beauty of following Christ, right, God gives generously and regardless of what I do, because I don’t deserve it, I never have and never will. So God doesn’t want anything from me now as an obliged response to the out-pouring of love I have received. (Of course God would love and appreciate and honor my love, devotion, and service, but it is not required of me).

But that’s just a side note. As I was thinking ahead to what I can give others, I felt God speak in my heart: love those youth girls well. Wow. It’s been a journey with my leadership in the youth ministry at our church. In spring I was considering not returning to it in fall. But somewhere over the course of the summer the girls grabbed my heart. I love those girls now. Indeed, I call them “my” youth girls; I have a sense of responsibility over them. They are precious and beautiful and special. So while, now, my heart definitely knows I’m in the right place as a youth leader, well, my head was still curious today and wondering, ‘why do I like being a youth leader?’ I don’t know what the answer is. Maybe it’s because it’s such a shaping time in a young woman’s life? Maybe because when I think inside my head and when I write and when I share the essence of who I am, I am still the same Cheryl I was when I was 16 years old and trying to figure out life. I have grown and matured and all that; but there’s this certain space inside my heart and head that is still the same. It is in experiencing this within myself that I dream and I pray for “my” youth girls. I want them to dream and attack life. I want them to know God and follow their hearts with the passions and gifts He has given them. I want them to succeed in relationship, in career, in personal development.

These girls are absolutely, crazy, awesome girls. They are real. They bless my heart: when they post pictures of us on facebook and tell me I have helped them thru stuff. When they come to visit me at work with a home-made congratulations card, after I told them I was pregnant. When they hug me when I tell them that my miscarriage procedure sucked and they wish me good luck in my next pregnancy with the most genuine heart ever. When they post on facebook they can’t wait to come to youth. When they post on facebook that they couldn’t imagine their life without God.

Girls, I love you! I’m always here for you. I’m confident in you. And I share in your excitement of getting your “L” and putting Physics behind you forever and loving your horses and all the other great stuff in your lives. Thanks for the opportunity to love you!

Friday, January 28, 2011

God's Rest

Today I am tired. I am worn out from another round of emotion. As soon as I woke from my surgery yesterday, the tears came again. My head didn’t process the emotion, but I just needed to cry. It was over. At least it was truly beginning to be over: this time of miscarriage that for some reason has lasted over 3 weeks. I needed to cry because it didn’t feel fair, it felt awful to have to go through a medical procedure like that, knowing that that is not the way it was supposed to be. My friend Sarah speaks of us living in a broken fallen world and she doesn’t mince words, it just really sucks sometimes. That is where I am. Medically, I have never had to have an IV before, I have never had general anesthetic before, I have never had surgery before. Though the procedure was relatively simple, it was a big deal medically for me. And having to go through it because of a miscarriage, well that simply stinks. And today as I woke from a night’s sleep it all replays back in my mind and truly though certainly yesterday was not the worst day one could imagine, I am recouping and I am so thankful that part of the story includes the wonderful nurse Katy in the OR recovery room who let me cry and was simply a really good nurse. Thank you Katy.

Now what? I ask again, Now what? I find it beyond me that so many women have to go through this in one way or another. Miscarriage is common. But each story is different. Each story is painted with different emotions, different background, and different people. The essence is the same. It sucks.

My story is painted with numerous emotions that my journal entries have pictured, but it also has a central player in it, which would not be in everyone’s story: God. Some people get angry if they hear it is God’s plan, when certainly God’s plan is being painful, tough, and crappy! I don’t know. Well I do know that God does have a great and better plan for His children than I could formulate on my own. But in a time like this, more than that, God has arms of unending comfort. He has compassion. He has the answer: Rest in me. And God’s rest is different from the rest we so commonly know. God’s rest is not a movie day in our PJs. God’s rest is a place of comfort, safety and peace. It is a place to mourn because God knows how we feel so we might as well let it all out. A place to talk it through, or shout it out, or yell our hurts, because God promises He hears us when we speak. A place to fall broken and tired and weary and worn out and with no energy left, because God promises strength. God’s rest is restoration to the body, to the spirit, to the mind, to the soul. God created us and knows that you cannot remove one aspect of health from another and so when He restores us he touches us wholly. Maybe you’re like me and you find watching TV or taking naps or physical recovery or activities of the like, non-productive. Personally, I like being productive. But listen, listen to me, try God’s rest. I can’t imagine this life without it. As I have found out, my plans will always sooner or later fail. And then what? Then God. Then God’s restoration. (And hopefully, then I will remember in the future it is better to have the divine planner do His work, than I. But if you don’t want to hear those words, that’s okay. Because life truly does suck sometimes and then all you do is take it one step at a time. God’s rest is the first step.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Sister

The relationship of sisters is unique, special, and irreplaceable and my relationship with my sister is full of love. As the younger sibling my relationship with my sister has existed forever and it's both nostalgic as well as interesting to look back on it. We have journeyed through different places and stages in life, together and apart. In some ways we are so similar and then in others so very different. More recently the thought has been floating around in my head of how I, the younger sister, was married first, so now it feels only 'right' and 'good' that my sister started her family before me. And I like to watch how she interacts with her children and goes about raising her kids; I like that I have a big sister who has been there already, who will have tips for me when I have kids, and has forged a trail in this field for me to follow in.

Keep the above in mind as you read these words which I wrote about my sister after returning from our family vacation in Maui. I was taken by my sister's beauty on this trip and I want to honor her here with the following words.

I think about my sister. This past week I watched my sister. I watched her because she is more beautiful than I have ever seen her. She is beautiful. I want to leave my explanation as that because I think that words won’t properly describe this beauty. She is happy and content and has no deep rooted worry and this glows on her face. She loves her family. She is a “good” mom. I told her as I hugged her goodbye at the airport, “You look good”. She replies with a question mark “Thanks?”. I tell her “motherhood looks good on you” or maybe it was “motherhood is treating you well.” What I failed to express is that I hope I will be as good of a mother as she is. I hope I will handle life with young children with the same apparent effortlessness. I hope I will look more beautiful then, than I do today.

I love you Carmen :)