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.

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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.

 

In the Whirlwind, He still wants everything.

Last year was a whirlwind, start to finish. Each month seemed to bring it’s own fresh version of crazy, & December was no different. In fact, by the 1st of December I was suddenly facing two weeks to find new housing & either a new job or another cross-country move.  I’ll spare you the details & just say that in the beginning I threw up my hands in the air making a declaration in my heart to let the Lord lead my steps. And He did. He’s faithful like that.

The not so slow but dramatic demise of my beloved 97 Geo Metro, increased monthly bills & seriously needing of dental work forced my sudden need to stop working for Bound4Life International, a ministry that I have been honored to serve since my move to Virginia in January of 2010.  This decision was forced by unexpected changes & came with a flurry of job applications, long late-night conversations with my brother Jeremy about direction, & deep painful conversations with the Lord. Ultimately, it was good. Ultimately, it forged clarity in my soul. Ultimately, I am thankful. Oh but it was a rough, bumpy and painful transition.

One of those rough bumpy painful days found me sitting with a Pastor from Florida who had recently moved with his family to DC to help fuel JHOP-DC & serve with B4L.  His father has been battling against cancer  & he told me that his sister had made a large sacrifice to help lift the burden of the medical bills.

After this great act of love she was left with a small sum that she intended to put into savings. However, during a morning devotional time she heard the Lord say simply “Give it to me”. She responded with surprise, since she had freely given so much & replied “But……Lord, that is mine” to which He simply responded, “I know, & I want it.”

He told me, “Christina it doesn’t make sense, but sometimes God asks us for that tiny little bit that we’re holding onto for ourselves, just to see if we’re willing to give it to Him”. Oh how I cried when I heard those words. He’s right, it doesn’t make sense……. but do we trust Him? Do we love Him enough to give Him that last little bit that we’re reserving? That thing we think we HAVE to hold onto in order to make it?

And I felt that pull all through December, the Lord asking for my control, my self-preservation & the question lingered “Do you trust Me?” Even in the whirlwind, He still wants everything.

In a swirl out of my control, completely apart from anything I could have possibly tried to manage to pull together, He provided for me. Housing & a job. I would be moving into the home of an elderly Southern Lady in order to drive her to doctor’s appointments & serve part-time as her companion. Housing, & a job that enabled me to stay in the House of Prayer. This literally landed the day before I flew out of Virginia to spend 3 weeks with my family.

It was a glorious, restorative, joyful, healing three weeks. And getting on the plane to head back to the East coast was hard. It always is. Standing in line & swallowing the lump in my throat, refusing to look behind me at my mother watching until she can no longer see me with tears streaming down her face, tightly clinging to my little dog as if that will keep me there. It literally never gets easier. But I knew, I KNEW that He was worth it, that He had a plan & that I was walking in it.

I flew back to Virginia on January 8th. Exactly one year to the very date that I flew to Virginia in my original move. Tell me that’s not God! Only He would do that, just to catch my attention because He likes to talk to me in dates. I flew back to Virginia on January 8th, & as my plane hit the ground, the Southern Lady was being loaded up into an ambulance. I moved into her home on the very day that everything changed in her life, the day she began a rapid decline in health.

Two weeks in it was apparent to the family & myself that she was not going to pull up, & today, less than a month after my move-in, she began receiving Hospice services in her home.

I knew that the Lord was sending me back to Virginia to learn about Intercession. I thought that it had to do with America & the Presidential race, and somewhere along the line it probably does. I’m learning it’s much deeper than that though. Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah, John the Baptists, even Jesus. They made intercession on others behalf. They were in understanding, a level of compassion that moved them to feel the way that other’s felt in order for them to stand alongside & speak on behalf of. And I’ve realized, I’ve a thing or two learn of compassion.

It’s been almost a year since my dear grandfather Carroll stepped into wholeness & glory & the nearness of our Lord Jesus Christ. I wasn’t a part of his last days since I’d just moved to VA but here I am one year later, daily, intimately walking out this woman’s last days. I’m not a nurse or doctor, & even if I were there would be nothing to fix the problems. But I do other things. Rub her shoulders, wash her feet, clip her toenails, rearrange cushions, read the Psalms, sing Hymns. And sometimes I’m tired, & sometimes I’m frustrated, & sometimes I just don’t want to rub lotion on her itchy skin. But I’m learning to bend the knee, learning to cry out for grace & find it pouring on the inside of me. Learning to hold her hand & sometimes, like today, just cry with her because I can’t help her breathe, & I can’t make the itching stop, & I can’t make her kidney’s work. In the back of my mind all throughout the long days I am thinking of how I will stand before my Saviour & He will ask “Did you learn to love?” and my heart cries “Teach me!”

I’m learning that it’s easy to have compassion for the orphan baby. But what does the Lord feel for the elderly woman who kept me up late with her needs & woke me up early with her needs. Does my Lord bend the knee, receive the grace to do so, & gladly serve her? Can I enter into that kind of intercession? There are nights I step into my room & hit the floor in prayer, crying out for the sake of peace in her heart, opening the Psalms & with tears speaking loudly words of truth & life & comfort into the atmosphere of the home.

It carries over to my service in the House of Prayer. My tired tender heart is moved to feel, moved to enter in, moved to pray, moved to worship because there’s no other relief for the turmoil on the inside. Not when I’ve been convinced every step of the way that it was His will for me to walk through it with Him.

Psalm 84:11: “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.

We’ve been talking a lot of Grace & Glory, & I tell her that wherever we have to lean in & reach out hard to receive His grace He will make that very spot a place to reveal His glory. If we cry out for Grace, we’ll receive it & He will glorify it. We ask God to give her peace, & I’m learning to live out of un-moveable heart peace. We ask God to give her a vision of eternity so that she will have the grace to let go when the time comes, & I’m learning to reach for it in my own heart. We thank the Lord when the night is over, thanking Him for the mercies to live out the new day. And as I pray with her my heart receives, probably more than I will ever know on this side.

And in the whirlwind, He still wants everything. Each whirlwind, He’ll never stop asking if we trust Him but that’s not an angry question. It’s gentle, said with a smile. It’s promising. And it’s safe, because He gave & He gives, everything.

My story will never stop being just stupid crazy. And that’s part of how I know I can trust, because He’s never stopped being FAITHFUL in every step of every crazy whirlwind. And every-time I think He’s asked me to do something I’m fully not capable of doing, He places the ability inside of me through His spirit. The more I lean, cry out for help, the more I find the help inside. The more His word becomes meat & bread & water & wine.

I listen to “Measure of a Man” on repeat. And Johnny Cash’s album “My mother’s Hymnbook”. I listen to Leonard Ravenhill speak with zeal & tears of the worth of Christ. I rise early to jog & pray. And I’m eating a lot of chocolate these days 🙂 I’ve filled up her room with primroses & when all attempts to relieve & comfort & bring joy fail, I just sing until peace comes to her. It reminds me of mid-morning nap time at the Bohlender’s. Singing a nursery of little girls to sleep & the crazy thing is that Amazing Grace never fails to bring the presence of God, to those little girls, to this dying woman, to my own weary soul.

Bob Falkner text me the other morning saying “You were made for hard things. You can do this.” And I’ll say to you friends, God made you to do hard things, & He will enable you to do them. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. One bright morning when this life is over, I’ll fly away. And tis so sweet to Trust in Jesus.