Flashes of Light

The first one came in November of last year. I wasn’t expecting it and the sudden raw pain left me breathless.

It was nearing the end of yet another long work day. I was driving to the prayer room through rush hour traffic on Rt.1 alternately muttering at the lousy Virginia drivers and marveling at the glory of the Fredericksburg sunset. I was stopped at a red light, craning my neck to peer as far up and out of the windshield as I could, so so tired and desperately trying to drink in the wild beauty when the first memory came.

It had taken place about a week before she passed away. The morning had been painful, I’d pleaded through the tasks involved in getting her ready as the minutes swept passed and each detail seemed to take an eternity longer than normal. The family had arranged for a medical pickup to transport her to the dialysis clinic that morning due to her increasing weakness, and as the departure time approached I was weary from the battles that had already taken place.

But there was the knock on the door, I drew her wheelchair to meet him, let him maneuver her over the step and towards the vehicle as I ran back inside to get her bag. Coming around the side of the van I saw him finish securing the chair. I handed him the bag with one last instruction about the appointment and with a deep sigh turned to go when her voice stopped me.

‘Christina’.

It was tired and rough from having not been used much since waking. I turned to find her tired eyes locked on my face, searching my heart, freezing my breath in my lungs. She hadn’t looked at me once since I’d woken her, and as she was somewhat hard of hearing that had made it much harder to communicate with her throughout the difficult morning. Now she peered deep and long.

‘Thank you.’

I whispered a ‘You’re welcome Ms.Margaret’, tripped up the driveway, shut the door and sank against it to weep.

All this in the time it took for the light to turn from red to green. The car behind me was honking because I had not turned, the traffic pounded past, the world flying by as my mind and my heart began to take timid steps toward remembering and unwinding my time with her.

I’d been so blinded by the painful fall of 2011 that I couldn’t have begun to foresee the journey the Lord had prepared for the beginning of 2012; learning how to love in the light of death. “Everywhere, everywhere Eucharisteo. The invitation. Give thanks, take the bread, swallow down the death, receive the very miracle; life in my bones” I’d written in my journal. Life with the Southern Lady, it was everywhere, everyday – Eucharisteo. The Invitation to give thanks and to surrender.

It happened again tonight. Feeling the edges of sick I’d avoided the large gatherings, aka, the Superbowl parties. Settling in to read I picked up Kisses from Katie when –

She was sitting in her red chair, reading the back of the book I’d just received in the mail as I waited excitedly to hear what she would think. She read the cover aloud, finishing with a dramatic, southern “WOW!” and gazed wondrously at me. “Why Christina, this sounds like something you would do, this girls sounds a lot like you!”

My heart had burned at her words, marveled that she thought so highly of me and I replied tearfully that I hoped someday to live as boldly as Katie Davis.

I sat in the silent kitchen, vision just as blurred, heart just as burned.

You can’t stop the heart from remembering. Can’t stop the flashes; they come like lighting with little warning and the moments, the memories sear themselves into my vision with such brilliance that it takes some time, lots of blinking and gulping for air before I can see again. I can’t change them. I can’t change a single moment, I just have to live with the flash as it was, and breath through the aftermath. Feel now what hurt too much to think or feel about at the end of last April. Cry when it requires tears, laugh at the joy, rejoice at the victories that we celebrated together, mourn for what I wish that I had done better.

And I’m realizing that life is those searing memories that I can’t seem to escape. It flashes with brilliance and is gone in a moment. I have to let myself feel the things that are bringing healing from living with Ms.Margaret’s dying. To hold onto the memory as it comes, learn from it, then let go. It stirs a wonder inside of me. What is it all unto? Those painful lessons, what were they preparing me for?

The Lord waits quietly to unveil the answers, which will flash with brilliance and be gone, searing memories into the vision that one day He will take time to explain. Life is pounding past us, urging, driving us to be swept away in it’s urgency while the Lord waits for us to stop and listen. To breathe with Him, to learn with Him. I’m becoming more aware that nothing is happenstance, nothing without meaning. All of the pieces that make up our days our weeks our years, fitting together and becoming a picture, leading us deeper into his plan that is far bigger than the puzzle we were staring at, thinking that the portrait of our individual lives was the goal.

Lord that I would see this moment, this evening, tomorrow morning with the eyes of the Spirit. To wonder and gaze and love Him with the moments, to take nothing for granted. That I would be drawn closer to the image of Your Son, Jesus. That I would be drawn deeper into Your story.

Loving long

Today is February 8th, 2012. Today I leaned hard into grace & you know know what? There was enough for me today. God’s good like that, always giving more than I need though maybe not in the ways I expect for that “more than enough” to look like.

Tomorrow is February 9th & my Papa’s 57th birthday. I love him with all my heart & this year more than others I am pained to not spend the day celebrating with him. On his birthday last year his dad, my Grandpa Carroll went into a hospice home to live out his last week of life. A life stuffed full of stories,  full of adventure and cut too short.

My dad’s been dreading tomorrow, dreading his first birthday without his father, dreading the memories. I’ve been calling him everyday for about two weeks, sent him a card & a present, even mailed him a box of homemade cookies but none of those things can ease the pain of  living without one whom you so love.

He told me over a tearful skype date tonight that so much of the pain he is feeling today  is due to regret & guilt of things undone, unsaid, & too little time spent.

Oh the deep wound of regret.

We ended our call with no ending. No solution to the pain, no medication. And as I went through the motions of helping my Southern Lady prepare for the night, all I could see was my Grandfather in her face, behind the oxygen tubes & in the tired & sometimes fearful eyes. And my heart yearned to give more to ease her pain, longing for more time to ease his. To sit by his chair, stroke the thin skin on his hand & just be with him again.

There’s not enough time on this side of eternity, not enough time to LOVE. To love as long, as hard & as deeply as people deserve. And as I pondered that painfully tonight I heard a whisper in my soul,  “there’s only ‘not enough time’ for now. ”

So I called my dad back to remind him to lift up his eyes to the Lamb that was slain. My Grandfather loved the Lord & though now we do not see him & now we wait long to be reunited, my daddy doesn’t have to live in pain that his time to love his father is over forever.  Though now we wait. Now we ache. But only for now, only for a moment. We as the living, those who were dead & have been brought to life, we never ever have to stop loving & being loved. We get to love for forever & be loved for forever.

We get to love long & never stop. Life abundantly, overflowing for forever. Thank you Jesus for all of your love, for all that you bought us. We love you Forever.

 

Kisses from Katie

I’ve you’ve read this blog for long you’ve heard me reference one of my heros, Katie Davis & the blog http://kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/.

In short, Katie is living the life I thought I dreamed to live all through my childhood. *sigh* I pray to someday carry the bold faith of her young heart. But I digress……..

Last year she wrote a book about her journey & it carries the name of her blog, you can get your own copy of that here. I ordered it last week & it arrived today. I breathlessly opened the package & showed it to the Southern Lady, excitedly telling her of Katie’s journey. She took the book in her wrinkled, aged hands & gently turned the cover, looking long at the beautiful smiles of Katie’s 13 Ugandan children. After some minutes of drinking the image she smiled & said, “sounds like something you would do. This girl sounds a lot like you” then holding the book out in front of her & squeezing her eyes tight she prayed for several minutes for God to strengthen & bless Katie.

My heart took a couple of deep breathes. Sounds like me alright, sounds like the dreams of my heart. But God has different dreams & I want to dream with Him.

The Southern Lady is a night-watcher, but that schedule is not good for her. So! I have the joy of trying to keep her from sleeping during the day so that she can actually sleep during the night…..when I am also sleeping. Tonight in an attempt to keep her awake until my bedtime I read to her the entirety of the Sermon “Christ Crucified” by Charles Spurgeon. If you haven’t read it, go here now & do so. It’s my second read through this week, but my heart was wrung like the first, maybe more so as I watched the expressions that tore across her face through the reading. At the end she cried, lamenting America’s great need for preachers like Spurgeon.

And I cried as I told her that God is raising them up now, in the young & immature hearts of many that I am blessed to call comrade. There are great men & women of God being raised in the dessert of the House of Prayer, being made joyful in His presence, daily delighting in His word.

And we spoke of the crazy young generation He is trainging to take His kingdom with violence. Crazy young warriors like the fishermen He called friends, like Katie Davis 🙂

Even so Lord, come.

 

Missing Miah – a thought dump

9.36 on Tuesday morning. I had 4 hours of poor sleep last night. 3 hours of poorer sleep the night before. That is excuse enough for being tired & emotional, but the greater problem is that I haven’t slept in 2 weeks & have had a headache for nearly that long.

I woke up on the morning of Sunday the 31st to an inbox full of messages that my friend Miah Morris was in critical condition after suffering a heat stroke while running an intense obstacle course/marathon. That night started the sleeplessness.

I called, sent messages, raised prayer, fasted, did my best to stay up to date on the details, prayed for a speedy recovery, & never considered it truly possible that he would die. Monday evening brought the “come now” phone call. I rushed home to take care of things in the office to prepare for my being gone for some days, slept for 40 minutes and drove to the airport with little more than a backpack & not even sure what I’d thrown in it.

Walking onto my first flight the messages began to come in that after 2.5 days of intense fighting for his life, my friend had slipped into eternity. That first flight was when the headache started. But I sat down in faith, flew home in faith, met with family & friends in faith continuing to believe that he could be raised.  Because one of these days, one of us is going to be filled with power from on high, & one of these days we’re going to see the dead raised. I  earnestly asked that it would be my friend & I couldn’t think of life without Miah.

Most of the time we do not stop to think of how someone is affecting our day-to-day life until they are suddenly taken from it. But Miah was one of those friends that left you always aware of just how much he affected your life. You couldn’t hep but be dramatically affected by him, because he is crazy! He loved to get you outside of your box, to do something bizarre & before you could blink you were caught up in the madness, a part of the craziness with him. He made you look at life differently, he made you live it.

Now I’m not talking wisdom, because most of the time whatever he was doing meant you were going to get into trouble if you were anywhere near him. But you couldn’t help but love him for it. Miah looked life in the face & laughed at it. He did everything “x7”, as his best friend Jason puts it.

He made me be his friend. Just went after me until I trusted him & let him be a brother to me, & then spent the next 5 years being one of the most dependable & intentional friends that I’ve ever had.

That week brought many things too personal to share, moments with the Lord that need to stay sacred. But I’ll say that it wasn’t until the middle of the memorial service that I realized he wasn’t coming back. He was with the Lord and he WANTED to stay there. Never have I cried so hard at a memorial service, never have I laughed so hard at one either. And NEVER before had I sung ‘Happy Birthday at a funeral (it was held on his 29th birthday). Totally – Weird.We spent the next few hours  laughing ourselves into side-aches & tears as the ridiculous stories just came one after another. Anyone who didn’t know him well would think that their one crazy Miah story an isolated incident, and have no clue that he just LIVED crazy! Jason said it really well,

They say that when someone dies they take a piece of you with them & you’re left feeling like something is missing, but I feel like he’s with us. With Miah, it’s like he always left a piece of himself with you instead of the other way around. But man I’m gonna miss him, like on those day’s when I just need to go do something crazy, that’s when I’m really gonna miss him.

Three days later I boarded another plane & headed East with many tears, feeling as if the whole week had been one terrible dream. The fact is, as Christians, believer’s in Jesus Christ, it is REAL that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. My friend is living life way more than just “x7″ RIGHT NOW, fully alive, fully at peace, fully in the presence of the living God. Christ will come & all of the dead in Christ will rise, & we will be reunited with our loved ones who have gone before us who have loved Him.

But the fact is that I can’t imagine the next 70+ years of my life, should the Lord tarry and should I live that long, without the presence of that friend in my life, without his voice, his laugh being a part of who I am. He has a facebook page, & daily people leave him messages as though he can read them & might even respond.  His phone service is still on. I admit I’ve called many times  just to hear his voice on the message, trying to etch it in my brain so to not  forget. But he won’t respond to those facebook messages, & someday soon I’m going to call that number and his voice won’t be there anymore.

At the end of the service Jason hugged me and reminded me that Miah really loved me, then another of his good friend’s Ben did the same saying ” I don’t know if he ever really told you all that your friendship meant to him….” but he did. I always knew he was truly my brother and loved me. He lived well & he loved well. And though he is alive, though I will see him again & then be with him forever, for now I grieve. For now, I miss Miah and all that he has meant in my life, & the thought that real time will pass before I can enjoy his friendship again hurts.

The vapor of this life, the pain of being in the dream is still very real, even for the believer. And until Christ returns it has to, because things are NOT ok. Because the pain is the constant throbbing reminder that we will NOT be ok until He comes and makes it all right again.

*Sigh* And here’s the problem with a Thought Dump – there is no end. No way to wrap up, no conclusion. The conclusion to this one is…..waiting. Praying. Living for the day when we see the return of our Saviour, fixing our eyes on things above, holding onto His divine love and not letting go,and aching until that day when the mist clears, when the vapor fades forever. Until then, tell my friend that we miss him. Oh that You would come quickly Lord.

Dreaming of Home

I woke up yesterday with a migraine.

And I ended yesterday with a migraine.

During a late night trip to walmart with Jenny I could feel the pressure rising & my vision blurring and decided to call it a day. A few minutes later I was in the kitchen grabbing Excedrin which I chugged with some coconut water for the elctrolites & promptly jumped in a steaming shower. This is my only migraine back up plan, and it didn’t work. 60 minutes later & like so many nights, I’m curled up in the dark wishing my mom were here to bring me an ice pack. I’ll get married some day if for nothing else than to have SOMEONE to bring me an icepack!

Half an hour later, I woke up. WIIIIIIDE awake from the caffeine in the Excedrin. Back up plan fail. After many attempts at sleep I decided to get up and…… do some accounting. *Sigh* I guess that’s the downside to sharing a basement with the office. Somewhere in the middle of that I found myself daydreaming about the Arabian’s we had when I was a teenager. Sassy died five years ago. I drove home to be with my parents for a few days who they said that losing the horse was the worst thing they’d ever gone through. Soon after that they gave Cressy to a BoyScout camp & I never saw him again.

That is until he popped up in my dreams this week. It was one of the nights that pain kept me awake until after 4, and somewhere before the alarm went off at 9 I found myself in Iowa, surrounded by rolling hills of rich, black soil, in the riding arena with the giant mulberry tree in the middle, and he and I went round and round in circles until his strong will finally caved & he would let me take him through rounds. It was a sunny spring day, the kind of perfect weather that bathe’s Iowa in glory all through the Spring, and in the dream my grandfather Carroll was sitting strong & straight on the top rail of the fence. With no oxygen tank & that beautiful smile spread across his face as he watched me determinedly fight the proud Arabian spirit. It’s amazing what dreams can do, the effect that they have. I woke exhausted, again, and breathless from the heart-pain.

Some hours later I stole away to the old horse farm where Jen & Jeremy live. Pain still racked my body as I walked through the forest and empty riding rings before settling in the top of the empty barn, aching for relief & aching for home. Home. Where the heart is, where loved ones are, where rest resides. But my heart is split, torn into so many pieces with those who I love, and peoples that I pray for all over the earth. Those whom I love live so far away from each other, and rest always seems to stay just out of my reach. And as I sat up in that window I ached for the home that never changes, where loved ones never die, where love always reigns victorious. Home.

We’re only at home where You are Jesus.

Detoxing

It’s been a long journey & I’ve hit the stage of Detoxing. It happened unintentionally during a fast, I wasn’t planning to hit this stage until after my sister’s wedding but I found myself gripped in pain last Tuesday & my house mom accurately pinpointed the problem.

Candida Die Off.

Headaches, severe muscle pain, ‘foggy head’, dizzy, anxious, sick to my stomach, generally miserable & sleeplessness to name a few of the symptoms.  Limping through the week I had one continual thought “I hate antibiotics.” But one of these day’s I’m going to be better. That thought is actually incredibly strengthening on long hard days. Knowing that the pain is all unto healing, unto restoration, unto wholeness.

It’s a lot like the journey of the heart. We can walk down life’s road & be quite sick for some time before the heart-sickness stops us in our tracks, refusing to let us continue on while maimed. Then the detox begins, & oh how it hurts. Slowly maneuvering through the symptoms & side effects until the source of the pain, the core of the problem is exposed. We have to stare at that thing & decide which hurts more, the pain of dealing with the problem or the pain of stuffing it down & continuing through life with a wound that won’t stop oozing.

Physically for me it hurts more to live with a bacteria living in my blood stream, causing all manner of problems whenever the least convenient. Walking the road to healing with a nutritional treatment is causing the worst of flare up symptoms as the bacteria begins to die off, but the pain I’m in now only means I’m being healed.

Emotionally for me it hurts more to live with old hurts living in my heart, causing all manner of problems whenever the least convenient. Walking the road to healing under the leadership of the Holy Spirit causes the worst of symptoms as those wounds & un-forgiveness related to them are re-exposed & each time I choose to release one to the heart of the Lord & choose to forgive the pain flares up vehemently in protest. But the pain I’m in now only means I’m being healed.

I wake in the mornings with John Mark McMillan song lyrics in my head;

Hope grows between cracks in the asphalt

In the downtown ghetto streets that contour

The government housing intentions of my heart

And it’s true, that detoxing is ugly. But Jesus has always loved to take the ugly & make it lovely. He’s doing it in my heart, even if it only feels like pain right now. And He’d love to do it in yours.

Fire

United Pursuit music.

It always opens up my heart taking me to new places with the Lord & washing me with memories of the faithfulness of the different songs. Like ‘Fill me Up’. It was a good song to play on repeat in my room & to hum in the car but I can’t play it anymore without remembering the long night in the emergency room before Kat’s surgery, her pained voice whispering “sing me a song? that one that goes ‘love of God overflow’..” And the gentle heart of the Lord met us in that room as I sang.

I’ve been hearing it in my head all week. “You provide the Fire, I’ll provide the sacrifice”  & throughout the different activities of my day will suddenly stop and desperately whisper

Provide the Fire Lord.

I had a dream a few years ago & in it a man who MIGHT have been an angel looked at me with dark eyes and said “You still don’t have the fire, you’re not burning yet.” Instantly it was like my eyes were opened & I could see fire behind his eyes, & then it was like I could see through his skin. What I saw was like watching a breeze blow across the hottest part of a bonfire, the blue-red part, and it just rippled & waved. It was like he himself was a live coal, a burning flame of fire. And the stark contrast between that flame & the flesh that I saw when I looked at me was painful. That image , that contrast has stuck with me in my prayers, almost unlike any other.

I groaned in prayer then, ‘God give me your love, give to me Your passion, Your fire’ & never would have though that groan could, or would have reason to increase but it has. More than ever I feel the BURN of the lack & in my depths cry GOD GIVE ME YOUR LOVE, YOUR PASSION, YOUR FIRE.

And let all else fade away. And let my weakness fade away. And let my lack fade away. Oh to BURN with the heart of the Lord. To see as He see’s, to pray as He prays. To know how to respond to seasons, to calamity, to death, to man. To know to laugh when He laughs & weep when He weeps.

You provide the fire Lord, let me be the sacrifice.