Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Miracles


This year, more influenced by movies like "It's a Wonderful Life" or "The Man Who Saved Christmas" than other years, I found myself wishing to be visited by angels who would give me the peace and joy that seemingly were misplaced. After weeks of feeling discontent, I went to sleep on Christmas Eve praying for a dream like Mack was blessed with in the "The Shack" (After his daughter was murdered, he got to see her perfectly whole and happy playing in Heaven). I know Jonnae is perfect and whole. I don't really need a dream or visit from her to live my life in joy or peace. I just find myself yearning for her during the season of Christmas in ways I don't any other time of year. I need a 180 degree turn from my aching heart back to my glee filled spirit.

"Heavenly Birth" was made possible because I sat down to write what I was feeling; honestly and humbly. As a result of my sharing every experience and emotion, God revealed Himself in the most amazing ways. Often, my hand miraculously became His instrument and simultaneously He breathed new life into me and my readers. Tonight, I find myself pleading for Him to lift me once more, as I sit to reflect and share my thoughts.

I've been trying to work my way through this troubled season quietly, not wanting to bring anyone down with my heaviness of heart...spirit...whatever it is that's responsible for me not feeling the Spirit of Christmas. Knowing the answers won't come from a source outside myself, but must come from within, I've tried to be quiet and patient in waiting for some answers. Is Winter always going to be a season I'm just trying to get through, rather than one that is anticipated with great joy? My mind is full of questions, answers, and dialogue with the Holy Spirit. How can I even put all of this into words anyway? What I'm feeling makes sense. I guess one could say it's even expected. I understand it, but is waiting it out all I can do?

It's not as if I can shut off the memory of December '07; the test of patience, faith, courage, strength, and tenacity asked of Jonnae, me, and my family. I don't even want to . But is it going to take a Christmas miracle to give me the best of both worlds. I don't want to forget the gift of that experience, but how do I move through this present gift in joy? Jonnae's bone marrow transplant and iminent "Heavenly Birth" was lifechanging in a way that I'm very grateful for, but I can't reminesce about that time and not find myself missing Jonnae more than ever.

I know that I'm not to deny myself emotion. I'm not supposed to be immune to sorrow. As a matter of fact, more times than not, my soul is soaring with strength found in the fruits of the Holy Spirit and I wonder if I'm supposed to feel sorrow more than I do. (It's happening! LOL. The clarity that comes from writing is in itself miraculous; stay with me. I ask God to help me feel something I'm not feeling. Wondering if I'm blocking or suppressing emotion that humans are supposed to feel. I begin feeling that very emotion I'm concerned about not feeling and then I beg God to relieve me of it. I'm chuckling, wonder if He is smiling with me. Somehow, I'm certain He is.)

Have you ever opened a gift and not really known what it was you were holding? or have you ever not really known how much you like or enjoy a gift until you've had the chance to use it? With the awareness I've just written myself into, I find myself sitting in the Peace I've been seeking. Praise God!

Heavenly Father, You said, "Seek and you shall find". You said, "Ask and you shall receive". You always keep your promises! I've experienced Your Presence today in a way I long to experience every day. I'm thankful for those times I feel weak, for it is then that I beseech You to draw me close. The more I know You the more I want to know You. May I never get lazy in my quest to stay close to You. May my eyes always seek You, my ears always listen for You, and the door to my heart always be open for You. May I never stop longing to be a voice for You. May I never stop longing to be Your Light. May I never stop singing Your praise, bringing You glory, or loving you with ALL MY HEART! Amen!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Experiences, such as the one that happened this weekend, are impossible to portray with words but it's all I have to offer as a way to share it. Here is my feeble attempt.

I spent a lot of time on the road this week; traveling to a speaking engagement in Lexington, to an impromptu visit with Cincinnati' Children's Hospital and to a gathering of friends in Indianapolis. I'm not one who likes car travel. If it's necessary, I'd rather be reading or sleeping in the passenger seat than be the one behind the wheel. However, if there were a guarantee that every car ride over an hour would result in a conversation with God like this one, I'd make certain to be behind the wheel every day. It is that very thought of possibility that gets me in the car early in the morning to head to the gym. I've had many a powerful conversation with God in the silence of that waking hour. One powerful conversation, shared with God in the silence of their car, would propel anyone to begin their day without the radio or distractions and just listen to what His Divine Guidance has to say.

Actually my conversation with God began on my way back from the Lexington engagement. I was asking God if I'm doing His work in a way that's pleasing to Him. The inner voice answered, "It's pleasing to Him, it's you that sometimes has a hard time being pleased." As I choked down yet another piece of humble pie, disappointed with the realization that I too am guilty of trying to get to bigger and better instead of embracing the gift of where I am. (that's one of my most emphasized messages) Then as the conversation continued, I heard the prompt to go to Cincinnati Children's hospital the following day. I tried repeatedly to dismiss the thought, using a previously scheduled appointment as my excuse for why I could do no such thing. However, I've learned when I try to suppress something over and over and it keeps resurfacing, that it's not my thought at all and I better heed to the instruction. I threw up the question, "but why?" only half heartedly, for I know faith is not needing to understand, it's acting with trust and obliging. Sometimes the reason is made known, sometimes, as was the case on Friday, it is not.

I drove to Cincinnati with a few different expectations in my attempt to answer "what is this trip about?" Maybe I would uncover some emotion that needed to come up. (With strength that is surprising even to me and an immediate acceptance of Jonnae's "Heavenly Birth", sometimes people are bold enough to tell me I'm burying my true feelings. This prompts me to ask myself if I am. If so, maybe a trip to Cincinnati would expose them) No emotion surfaced. I didn't feel any queasiness approaching the hospital as I did on this very date two years ago, admitting Jonnae to the hospital for her bone marrow transplant. I thought, possibly, the reason I had been prompted to come to Cinci was for the encouragement of a family that was there now, only I was not permitted to go into the unit. (It is very high security to protect the low immunity of the transplant patients.) Nor did I see the head doctor. Another thought that had crossed my mind as to "why".

Before I ever arrived on the hospital campus, I accepted the thought that I may never know what the trip was about, but I had been obedient to "the call". Even though the possibility of no answer was accepted, I still continued a question/answer session in my head on the way back home.

If nothing else, I had shared "I GET TO" bracelets with the young men parking cars for the hospital visitors. They embraced the message and were most appreciative of the way it had already changed their day, much more their lives. I saw one of the transplant coordinators, one of the group doctors, and one of Jonnae's nurses. All surprised, yet happy to see me. I spoke with two of the receptionists who had participated in the early Wacky Wednesdays and a director who may be able to assist in activating the Wacky Wednesday program there ( maybe the "why", should we ever know :)

I wasn't able to spend time in the Vernon suite where Jonnae and I had been "quarantined" for two months. Oddly enough, I was looking forward to spending time in that space. Sadly, the hotel is no longer open for business. As I pulled into the parking lot and my eyes took in the boarded windows and vacant lot, I felt the sorrow for those workers we had become so comfortable "living" with, not because they had lost their source of income (that too), but because they truly loved to serve. It was evident from the very beginning that the people who spent their days there, would do it for nothing if they could. The receptionists, bell hops, valet parking attendants/drivers...they all LOVED serving their guests. There was no question about it.

I did visit the lovely St Monica Catholic church. On rare occassion, I had been able to attend Mass there. There was also one visit Jonnae and I were able to make, in the midst of her recovery, to visit the priest, receive reconciliation and communion, and spend some time singing and praying in the Lord's House. I thought maybe something really Divine and special would occur in my revisit to the place, one of those big giant GOD hugs, but I didn't experience it.

All of this seeking, this yearning for God to be with me in a way I have not experienced for a time, this craving, was satisfied yesterday.

Casting Crowns new CD, Until the World Hears, was playing on the stereo in the background as I beseeched Our Father. Multitudes of questions pouring from my heart and soul, with interuptions of sadness as I recalled Jonnae's and my experience two years ago. Occassionally, I caught myself leaving my own thoughts to sing along with the words of praise playing on the stereo. The bantering of questions and answers went on for a time. Then I noticed a hawk soaring up above and the thought occurred to me, maybe I just need to pay better attention and yet again surrender control of how and when this journey unfolds. Maybe my heightened awareness has become lackadaisic. And then, miraculously it Eagle perched in a tree just off the side of the road. In a lone tree, closer to the road than most, an eagle blended in with the barren branches, watching over the passers by. Many a passenger would go by and not even see it. First I was blown away by the fact it was there. In awe, I even turned my head as I drove past to keep my eyes on it as long as possible, wanting to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I was blown away with the fact it was there, and blown away even more that I had seen it, just after the inner voice told me to pay better attention . Never before have my eyes, or anyone I've traveled with, seen an eagle just off the highway. Tears flowed and peace came over me. "Even when it's difficult to see me, I'm watching over you." That's what I heard God say and felt to my core. I can't capture with words, the serenity, the love, and the miracle of what transpired, but knowing that it did is sufficient for me. His Grace is sufficient for me. I don't need understanding, answers, or a plan that plays out. All I need is Him. A gift that was delivered through Jonnae and "leuk".