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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

.To the Deep End.

Yesterday was one of those hard days. The ones we all have. You know, the kind where you feel so weak, defeated, and soul tired that you stay in your pajamas all day long and cry buckets of tears. Oh, wait, am I the only one who has days like that?? And truthfully I would rather not share that I am weak and human, and have days like this, but pretending does not glorify God. So I will not pretend to have it all together - to be perfect. We have a lot of things swirling around our family right now - heavy and hard things. Things that could so easily shake our faith, and distract us from keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ and his glorious purpose for our family. I went to bed Sunday evening, believing I had reached the breaking point of what I could handle. Perhaps that was the problem, although I knew all of the platitudes and even all of the truths, and I do believe them, truths like His yolk is easy and His burden is light, I think in a small way I was still trying to handle everything being heaped upon our family - in my own strength.

When I awoke yesterday morning to Cadi running into our bedroom with a bloody nose (a possible sign that her I.T.P had flared up again), something inside me just gushed wide open. It was all too much - three sick children again, extended family situations and the breath taking pain that comes from those, ministry stuff, situations with our street boy, and the list mounts. I used to believe that God only gives us what we can handle - I've even ignorantly spouted that to people going through difficult times, but after searching the Scriptues to back this platitude up, I cannot find that thought anywhere. I think God does gives us more than we can handle, to show us that it is only His strength in us that can survive the hardest moments. He gives us more than we can handle so that the only option is to let Him handle it. Because honestly there is not a single trial that I can handle on my own. Without the power of Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit living in me, I would be swept under a current of despair.

So yesterday was hard. While waiting for Cadi's platelet count to come in to learn whether or not she was having an I.T.P. flare up, one more heartbreaking item was heaped on our heads. I think it was in that moment, as I could almost physically feel my heart break, I fully surrendered all of this. I have absolutely no control and no power over any of this, save the power of Jesus Christ in me. The Holy Spirit knew what I needed, and he whispered into a sister's heart, and she listened and was at my doorstep within an hour of learning our latest news. She entered my pain, like she had done so many times before in the past two years. We came before our Father together, united in prayer, and His sweet grace gently blew into every single bruised and bleeding piece of my heart. Just a little over two years ago, I would have never allowed this kind of friendship. My girlfriends were far and few between, and they were kept at an arm's length. I only let them see the good stuff. That mask I talked about a few posts back was on securely when it came to my friendships. But God has used this girlfriend among other precious girlfriends to show me what freedom can be found in authentic relationships. The kind of friendships that are not afraid to crash your home, turn a blind eye to unswept floors, and hold you in your unshowered, pajama-clad, bed haired, possibly even stinky mess. For the first time in my life, I am letting women - people - inside of my heart - the raw, broken, unperfect crevices of my heart. For me it has been a long and slow process. It started with blogging transparently, and at times my heart still races and my palms still sweat as I anticipate publishing this kind of thing for the "world".  And then it was facebook that God started to break my walls down with - little statuses that were filled with the authentic Tiffany, and then they snowballed into more and more transparency as I got bold enough to petition for prayers, and started baring our life instead of hiding it away. And finally it is unfolding into those real, authentic face-to-face friendships, for me the path had to look like this. I needed to start in the shallow end and gently make my way to the deep end, and at times, I still retreat back to the shallow, but because of God's grace I have not gotten out of the pool and hidden myself inside a towel in a very long time. For some personalities, diving into the deep end will be all it takes.

As I ramble on so far away from what I sat down to originally write (so far away - that I will have to change my original title and write about that some other day - love, love, love how the Holy Spirit guides and directs even my fingers as they are flying over these keys), I just want to encourage you to make your way to the deep end - to real, intimate, authentic relationships. God gives grace in this area, and perhaps you are like me and will need to ease in slowly dipping your toes to test the waters, but just start, just do it. Just lay your life open - there is a difference between privacy and secrecy. I believe that there are moments that God gives us with Him, with our family, with our friends that should be kept private, although I also believe they are farther and fewer between than our American culture dictates (because being a disciple of Jesus and wanting to disciple others, our lives are a living example. How could this be true if we are not openly sharing them?), but I also strongly believe that there is no room for secrets and masks between brothers and sisters in the family of Jesus. There should be no dissonance between word and spirit, no pretense. When we live a transparent life before others we are revealing Jesus in us and we are acknowledging that every good thing is from God! To live this way, we have to reveal what is on the inside. It takes courage and faith to unveil our true selves, in spite of imperfections. We are a walking, talking, breathing billboard for God's amazing grace!

When we become a follower of Jesus, we die to self, and our life no longer belongs to us - NONE of it! God cannot use what we keep secret and hidden. It's risky to make ourselves vulnerable like this. I get it. even now as I close out this post I hesitate and feel my heart pound, wanting to get out of the pool and dive under my towel. That's easier. But what if the Holy Spirit has prompted this post for you to read, and I ignore that prompting? Seems kind of selfish of me. Transparency requires humility and grace and courage, and they all come from Christ in us.

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ's being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2

To be transparent - to fully immerse ourselves in the deep end, we need to focus on Him alone.


....just because this post needs a photo. {grin} Unrelated to anything written here, though. And for all who are wondering, Cadi's platelet count came in great! Praise God! My three children have been sick for several days now, but they seem to be on the upswing. Thankful for God's all-consuming grace. Our family could still use a lot of prayer right now. The enemy is working over-time, but my God will prevail!


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