Walking Through Fire


So….my family has been going through a hard time lately. I won’t go into what happened only to say that we have been deeply hurt by a situation many families have had to face. In other words, we are not alone although that fact doesn’t really change a whole lot about how we feel. I just feel sorry for anyone who has suffered in such a way.

I am compelled to share this with you because this morning I was gifted with a moment of clarity; a beautiful moment, a revelation that put my soul at peace.

Personally, I have struggled to balance my act. My first reaction is grief and all the ugly-face crying and ‘gnashing of teeth’ within me. My husband, usually strong and brutish, grieves quietly, a steady stream of tears soaking his beard and burley chest; a strong man with the breath knocked out of him. It’s a hard thing to see.

Some are some things you never want your children to see. A marriage dissolved is one of them. I don’t need to go into details because…well…it’s not the right thing to do. I’m sharing only to tell you this: God doesn’t leave you in the fire. The following is what I learned just this morning.

My house is filled with children today. Two are my grandchildren and two their step-sisters whom I have claimed as my own.

We have been waiting all summer for this weekend long slumber party. When any of my grandchildren come for a visit, I try to keep them busy. We do a lot of projects. It cuts down on the mischief. Yes. It does even if it means I am a drooping rag doll when they leave. It’s all about good memories and loving. It’s important. Last night and today they have been working on grand masterpieces of art work – painting, gluing, stenciling, whatever they can get into from the bowels of my art room which does, in fact, contain mountains of rejected paintings (that can be gessoe-ed over), tons of acrylic paint, sparkles, piles of ‘gems’ and unused beads. It’s the young art aficionado’s paradise. They dive in with glee, with both hands, with huge smiles. I am filled with joy for being The Best Nana. I thought having them on this particular weekend would be too much for me. But I find that I am strangely appreciative of the noise and innocent chaos. I am actually enjoying this reprieve from the drama that is our normal life at the moment. I am paying attention to all the details, all the little things. I made smiley face pancakes for breakfast with red lips and blue eyes. There were also some lopsided Mickey Mouses, a spikey dog, and swirly pink and blue pancakes. Their laughter was a soothing balm. I am healing.

Monkeys

After breakfast as I was washing up the dishes, my thoughts focused on the event that has us all in an uproar. I silently lambasted the situation, dredging up all the painful words I could think of. But then…I was ashamed of my thoughts. I never used to be that thoughtful, if you can call it that. I let myself talk to God about my feelings. From my heart I told Him how I felt, the anger, the sorrow, how I want to make everything go away and for everything to go back to the way it used to be. The situation hurts. How are we as a family going to get through this?

Then, I heard a little voice. One of the Grand Artists had looked up from her masterpiece and said “I have a scripture I’m thinking of but I can’t remember where it comes from in the Bible.” I asked for the scripture and she said “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I knew immediately that it was God’s message for me. The hair on the back of my neck stood up and goose bumps popped up all down my arms.
Then she asked me if I could find it in the bible. I did. Philippians 4:13

From the mouths of babes, right? My Baby-Grand was unknowingly God’s messenger. Awesome! I hope I don’t sound selfish, but I am so glad they are here this weekend! God’s word let me know how I can get through these dark times, and how I can help my family get through it. Yes, I’m still angry but that will pass. Maybe. Eventually. If I let God help me. If I allow Him to strengthen me. I like that path a lot better than the one I’ve been on. That anger has got to go. I’m not ignoring the situation that hurt my family, I am, however, planning to deal with it a little differently.

And here’s another nugget that came my way this week. A friend told me that sometimes God allows devastating things to happen to us to mold, teach, and lead us to the next life event He has planned for us. And always, always toward blessings that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. Disclaimer: I am not talking about atrocities across the world. Just my life. To enter into that conversation, I would have to be some kind of gifted theologian or incredible biblical genius.

What happens when we don’t live our life according to God’s flawless plan? Well, I guess it just doesn’t work out.

Life is not easy. Some things are just too hard and painful. It’s terribly hard to practice even a little bit of forgiveness. But I trust God. He has a plan and I want to cooperate with Him. He will hold us and care for us when life throws fire at us. We go through the darkness to get to the light. We go through the fire to become refined. We won’t be burned if He is there.

Feel free to add your perspective in the comment section. Who knows? Your words may help someone who could be reading this.

Please don’t forget to pray for peace. And, I might add, for all the hurting people.

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Thoughts on Gabrielle Reece, being submissive and Proberbs 31


I was watching (-actually just listening half-heartedly because I am so easily distracted)- the Today Show (NBC) the other day when, to my surprise, I heard the lead to a story about Gabrielle Reece’s new book MY FOOT IS TOO BIG FOR THE GLASS SLIPPER.  My imagination was immediately piqued and my ears automatically grew three inches so I could catch every detail.  The title alone is what grabbed me because I don’t know Gabby Reece, in fact, never heard of her – sorry.  My one remaining goal in life is to become a princess so I wanted to hear all about big feet and glass slippers.  Could my feet possibly fit into glass slippers?  Would I dare try them on?  I would think being a princess does have some requirements and necessary skill.  Could I qualify for the position?  Frankly, I’ve never had glass slippers or been a princess so I don’t know.  I’ve often thought I’d make a good one.  I am spoiled and I think perhaps that might be one of the prerequisites.  And I think I would like having a life of ease and comfort.

Screeeech!  Wait just a stinkin’ minute!  As the interview progressed, I discovered that Gabby Reece didn’t intend to convince people that being a princess is all that.  As a matter of fact, the point of her book was something along the lines of  My Life Is Not Perfect, therefore, I must work on making it what I want it to be. 

Not exactly what I wanted to hear.  And to add to that insult, she had this to say:  TO BE FULLY FEMININE IS TO BE SOFT AND RECEPTIVE AND …SUBMISSIVE.

What?  Did I hear that right?

My heart fell.  This is the argument of the ages between men and women, and as you might guess, a pretty prominant one between my husband and I.  In fact, just the other day we had a slight disagreement that ended with him informing me how he waits on me hand and foot (Yeah, right.  In your dreams!).  I had to keep my mouth shut and walk away because if he had to go so far as to pull that out of the arcenal, he was precariously close to loosing it.  We don’t want that.  So anyway, you can see where this is going.  I prickle at the word submissive.  Yes, I do.  Now you know.  I was born in the woman’s lib era.  I believe in equality on all levals.  Equal pay, equal rights, etc,. etc.  Sadly, I’ve seen men have an advantage over women in too many ways.  To be fair, I’ve seen women have an advantage over men in many ways as well. 

My husband comes from a long line of submissive women in his family.  In the little community we live in, old fashioned women take care of old fashioned men — still.  You guessed it, women do all the housework and cooking and disipline the children for the most part.  Men go make a living.  DISCLAIMER:  not everybody here lives that way.  There are some modern, enlightened families too.  Like us.  Yeah, that’s right, like us.  Much to my sweetheart’s dismay, we are modern and enlightened in ways he never dreamed of.  Example:  Him:  I have to do my own laundry and clean my own bathroom!  (said with a red face and clenched fists).   Me:  So?  I do too!  (said with a red face, hands in the air and exasperation in my voice.)  Keep in mind neither of us work outside the home.

Really, it’s not that bad.  I can almost chuckle over what he thinks is fair.  But that was before GABRIELLE REECE on the Today Show.  After I calmed my reaction to her submission statement, I challenged myself to listen to her message. 

Oh my sweet Lord, she made sense. 

Some of the statements I heard went something like this:   It works both ways.  Being strong and being submissive is a choice.  To be submissive does not mean being a slave.  It’s about respect and love.  It’s about waking up in the morning and choosing to do whatever you can to serve the people you love.   She said she wants to be cherished and her husband cherishes her so she does whatever she can do to show him he is cherished by her.  Of course that’s not verbatum, but that’s waht I got out of it.  She said something about learning to be skilled at loving someone.  Wow, I had to think about that!

I began to listen to the interview in earnest.  And I learned something I had forgotten.  It’s called being a Proverbs 31 woman.  And what Ms. Gabby said was incrediably close to the blueprint of womanhood set in Proverbs 31.  Look it up in the Old Testament.  In essence, a Proverbs 31 woman is one who takes care of her family, is loyal and dedicated, can run the household efficiently, can even work and make a profit, and takes joy in doing what she does. 

I am reminded of a sermon given by Father Charles Ray, a man who became a priest not too long ago.  He gave it on that Sunday when the Church readings were about loving one another, women submit to your husbands, husbands cherish your wife, etc.  I held my breath and was prepared to automatically feel rebellious to whatever he said.  But he surprised me and I’ll never forget what he said.  The message was:  Women, you have the most important job in the world.  It’s up to you to see that the family runs like a well oiled machine.  It’s up to you to keep your family together.  A woman gathers her family unto herself.  Make it count.  Keep it together.  Men, when you leave work, be with your family.  Leave your job outside the door and play with your children, help your wife, love your family.  Staying in love with your spouse is not a guarentee, or an automatic response.  It’s a challenge.  It’s a choice.  If it is your choice, you will do what it takes to keep it.  You do what it takes to serve the ones you love.  Being submissive can sometimes work out to be an honor. 

Awesome

So, I guess I’m going to have to help him with his laundry.  But I’m not yet so skilled that I’m going to touch his bathroom, lol!