Searching for Significance

Sometimes we are filled with passion toward one cause or another and it directs our path and our decisions. Other times we just live moment-to-moment with a hunger in our hearts to do something that matters to someone.

Last night we were going around and sharing problems within my small group and trying to let the Lord re-frame our circumstances into positive experiences and I was just squirming in my seat. We’ve all been in a place where we don’t know where we belong or we can’t see the bigger purpose of why life is turning out the way that it is. Life is a continual journey, we are always on our way somewhere, but there are times that we feel stagnant and root-bound to a space that is too small for our growing desire to produce something great. There is something really satisfying about sharing our lives and our talents with others around us.

This past weekend, I met two men who were both in the prime of their lives when tragedy struck and changed their course forever. One man was involved in a diving accident more than thirty years ago and the other was diagnosed with ALS just a few years ago. They are both currently in a long-term care facility and I had the privilege of spending some time visiting with them. I was deeply impressed with how hopeful both of these men were given their circumstances. My visit with these men was like finding a quiet stream after having been hurried along on the highway of life with so many others who are rushing to get to where they want to go.

These two men accept service gracefully for their various physical needs, and also serve others with their friendly and welcoming attitudes. I’m sure they have struggled with finding their purpose and meaning like all of us have, but I can see that they have worked through their grief over what has happened in their lives and now they are profound instruments of grace and hope to others.

Psalm 104: 16 “The trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.”

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Pressure Cooker of Life

I can remember the yummy chicken dinners that my mother prepared in her pressure cooker; at the end of the process, the chicken was tenderized. A pressure cooker works using a combination of pressure and steam to cook food quickly.  There is a valve to control the steam and a certain amount of steam is let off to alleviate some of the pressure at different times in the cooking process.

A lot of us have different coping mechanisms to alleviate some of the stress that we feel, and sometimes one of those is Facebook. It connects us just enough to let off some steam and alleviate the pressure quickly. Even though we feel better when we let off steam,  it doesn’t last for long.  We need to have the courage to stay involved in the process of discovering why we’re upset and ‘stay on the burner.’

Yesterday, I was presented with some unexpected news and now I have to weigh the pros and cons about how to deal with this issue. I need to stay on the burner and deal with this, and there will be consequences either way, but in the end, I know that it will lead to my heart being tenderized.

We live in a society where sometimes we don’t share the important things; we would rather stay in safe conversations. Oddly enough, though we live in a society connected through cell phones and Facebook and so many other websites, we live in isolation. That disconnect is making us lonely as a society.

It is risky to share what is really going on because there is always a high probability that people are not going to understand; even your closest friends might not understand. That is why we make choices about whether or not to speak up and be authentic or just live lives on the surface. No matter which way you choose to go, there are always losses. It could be a loss in friendship or a loss of security. Telling the truth disrupts your life as it is now, but when we have the courage to go through the process of being tenderized, we gain strength and freedom.

 

 

The Wait is Over!

lyla and hannah

Fifteen days ago, I got a call from my son-in-law, Vince, that my daughter Rachael was in labor! It was unexpected because Hannah was not supposed to arrive for another three weeks. I was so excited, I couldn’t sleep all night. The whole next day I carried my phone everywhere and there wasn’t any news for hours and hours. I tried to pass the time watching the last U.S. World Cup game with friends, but that was no match for what was really on my mind that whole time!  Then I got a text that labor had slowed down and that Rachael and Vince had actually taken a nap while I had sat on pins and needles waiting! Later that night, as I was getting ready for bed, I got a text saying, ‘Hannah Mae is here!’ So instead of going to bed, I went to see my precious granddaughter.

Wouldn’t it be a lot easier to go through the hard times that we have in life if we knew what happiness it would bring us in the future? I had no idea how delightful it would be to hold Hannah when I was chasing my own little two year old so many years ago.  At the time, it was exasperating, especially because I have Cerebral Palsy, and there was no way I could catch Rachael! But right now, holding my granddaughter brings me nothing but joy.

My little granddaughter, Hannah Mae, was in such a hurry to join this world, that she was born three weeks early. Although her parents could hardly wait to get her home, her little lungs were not quite ready, so she spent the first 10 days of her life in the NICU. I was quite proud of them as they patiently waited for her lungs to get stronger and three days ago their wait was over and she came home!

Just like my daughter Rachael had to go through a long and hard labor to bring Hannah into this world, and then wait to bring her daughter home we all have to go through many difficult experiences, but often without the understanding that it is these very struggles that produce the beautiful gifts and skills that God wants to give to us that will lead us to future joy! What gives you the strength to hold onto God’s promise of future joy during your hard times? Have you developed a way to hang onto the hope that God offers us in every difficult circumstance? Please share these in the comments below and spread His joy!