Every Storm Runs Out of Rain

I remember starting this painting, though I couldn’t have told you the date until today.

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I knew what I wanted to do for my sister-in-law. Her dad was diagnosed with cancer. She loves Gary Allan and when I watched this the video for Every Storm Runs Out of Rain and saw this image and I knew.

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The canvas was huge. 36″ x 48″ and I wasn’t sure I could pull it off. I prayed I could because it was so very important to me to be able to offer my prayers this way. I worked on it for months. Slowly. I don’t know that I’ve ever been more intimated by a painting, yet I knew in my soul I had to do it.

I started it exactly one year ago tonight. March 7, 2013.

I finished it on January 6, 2014.

On January 6, Missy called to tell me her mom was going to talk to the nurses about taking her dad off of life support. I got off the phone with her, poured a fresh glass of wine and went to work. There was another blizzard in Northwest Indiana and my brother was out plowing. I was texting him pictures of my progress. Waiting to hear anything about Missy’s dad. I put the song on repeat and just worked. I sent my brother a picture of the words I’d painted on. He thought they were too big. So did I. I took them off and made them smaller and I liked it. I thought it was finished, so I took another picture and typed my message to my brother, but as I was moving my finger to the send button, Johnny called me. I answered it all chipper, “Hey! I was just texting you! The painting is finished.”

He was bawling.

And I broke down.

His father-in-law was gone.

The realization that he was taking his last breaths as I was making the last brushstrokes overtook me.

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I shared the picture on Facebook for my brother and sister-in-law. I said, “For my sister-in-law.” A friend who had no clue what had happened said, “Breathtaking.”

My brother responded, “You have no idea.”

And I lost it.

I was completely undone.

I tried to get to Indiana the next day to be with Missy. But–winter of 2014, she had another tantrum. Another blizzard. Impassible roads. I couldn’t get there until the next day, which happened to be sixth anniversary of my best friend’s death.

So much pain and death.

but Every Storm Runs Out of Rain

Right?

I finally got there. I felt pretty useless, but I tried. Then I went back to a month later for the memorial service. Another blizzard.

And another death.

One of my brother and sister-in-law’s best friends died the morning of the memorial service. Mike was a long-time friend of ours, as well. One of the most spiritual men I’ve ever met. He engaged in deep conversation from the minute he looked in your eyes. He knew so much more than was possible.

So much death and pain.

And today, just over a month after his passing, today is Mike’s birthday. March 7. One year ago today, I started the painting for Missy. I finished it as her dad was taking his last breaths. Mike died the morning of the memorial service. And I started the painting one year ago on his birthday.

I don’t even know how to begin processing this.

 

Visual Prayer–Tears in God’s Bottle

Rough days are inevitable. Seems like they come in conjunction with some of the biggest blessings. Which I suppose is par for the course.

What makes rough days worse is stupid people. Or stupid mean people. Or just plain ole people.
It might not be that way for you. I walk a tightrope between introvert and extrovert so while some days being with people energizes me, other days, it exhausts me to a disturbing point.

I continually read on of Oswald Chambers’ devotionals about exhaustion. You’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you relate to what I’m saying but don’t read this. It’s short.

I was feeling pressure from so many areas (some of them self-induced) so I decided to take a bath with some lavender bath salts, listen to Jeremy Camp on the iPod dock, and have some quiet time with God. I covered my eyes with a washcloth and asked the Holy Spirit to quiet my soul.

It took awhile. I think my mind naturally resists being still and quiet. The song Letting Go came on and behind my washcloth covered closed eyes, I clearly saw a jar with tears in it.

And I cried.

Then I put on my big girl panties and decided I could trust God to handle these mounting problems of mine. If he could store my tears in a jar, he could certainly take care of some insignificant people that were bothering me. Besides, what they do shouldn’t be my concern, right?

I hurried to my easel and painted a jar.

Then I decided I needed to know where that verse was and in what context it was written. Turns out, it was smack in the middle of a Psalm. Psalm 56.


And what a wonderful Psalm it is for someone in the position I had been complaining about being in.

By creating prayer, renewal washed over me.

My spirit calmed and then soared.

The urge to crawl into bed and hide away from the world for weeks on end was gone.

Restored.

Not alone in misery and wandering, but every tear recorded and kept in God’s bottle.

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Now What? Continued…

You can read part 1 here.

* * *

Apparently when you ask God, “Now what?” He hears.

Ask and it will be given to you

Apparently when you ask God, “Now what?” He hears.

He sends people to you who say things like:

“Having faith means deciding what your relationship with God is, just the two of you (and his legion of angels who follow you around slapping you upside the head, sometimes just because they’re having a bad day – they have those, too, I assume).”

And:

“Just be you – because He thinks you are pretty f-ing cool and if you be someone else, he’ll send an angel to do that head-whacking thing.”

My friends are angels.

One told me a story of how he had a meltdown after some particularly horrible events. He told me how he told God he wanted “out” even though he didn’t know what that meant. He was a little fearful of what it could mean so he apologized and he had a peace about things that led to him understanding that God invited him to be with people during their times of crisis, that God trusted him to be there for them. That he didn’t have to accept every invitation and if he chose not to accept it, he wouldn’t be punished or scorned or set outside the city gates to gnash his teeth.


One humbled me beyond measure by breaking down walls to tell of things not ever shared.


One who has been struggling with this same issue is now emerging from the other side and shining a flashlight back for me, so I can get a glimpse of the path.




…seek and you will find

At a church I’ve never stepped foot in, with women I’ve never met, but also alone, I’ve started a journey. I’d be a liar if I told you I knew that yesterday. There was an inclination, a desire, to work on a Beth Moore Bible study, that was it. No more, no less. It was a comfortable way for me to try this thing with God again.


(God was giggling at his mighty cleverness.)


An S.O.S. was sent out to Twitter and Facebook asking if there was a study starting and another angel told me where to find two of them and using my awesome gift of deduction, I chose the Wednesday night study called Stepping Up.


Stepping Up—a journey through the Psalms of Ascent


If the woman said it once, she said it a million times last night, “Because the veil has been torn, there is no distance between you and God.”


There is no distance between God and I.


There is no distance between God and I.


Is that my answer? (I think so.) (yes. I know so.)


Beth Moore wrote in today’s homework,


“This study is about going from here to there. About making real progress. Simply put, if you want to get on with it, whatever “it” may be, you can rest assured you’re signed up for the right journey. “

knock and the door will be opened to you.

Does God really invite us to be a part of His work or are we obligated and bound by Christ to do it?

Grudgingly?

With trepidation?

The very first verse of the very first Psalm we’re studying:

“In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.”


It’s the little things, y’know?

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Now What?

It was very hard for me to hit “publish” on this one.

* * *

In October of 1999, Zane was born. Phil was driving our semi over the road and he was home one day out of every thirty. That year, Jill and I spent New Year’s Eve together afraid for Y2K. We survived.

In 2000, we filed bankruptcy on that semi and moved back to Indiana and lived with my parents for a short time. Phil found a driving in job in Chicago and he was home two days out of every seven.

In 2001, 9/11 happened and I was scared for our lives. I’d never, ever heard it so quiet outside as when all planes were grounded. That month, we found a duplex to rent, Zane turned 2, potty-trained and I was still trying to decide if I was a good mom or not.

In 2002…Phil got a local job hauling fuel and was home EVERY night.

In 2003, Phil and I bought the Knox house. I started attending a church for the first time since I was let down by a different church back in 1992.

In 2004, doctors thought Phil had cancer. He didn’t. He did, however, punch a wall and break his hand and have to have pins put in.

In 2005, I was reading my Bible daily, active in Women’s ministry (and Phil in men’s ministry) and I was really getting to know God. Jill told me she had breast cancer and had already been battling it for a year. She’d already had a mastectomy and chemo and radiation. She made me get a breast exam. And I think they thought I had cancer. I then had an ultra sound. Then a mammogram (and platypus poop.) Then I had to see a surgeon. He told me I didn’t have breast cancer.

In 2006, I was called to write. “Write.” (I noticed I posted that on 12/02/06. Wonder if that has anything to do with 12:26?) That year, I also lost my Uncle Ed. I’m not sure there’s ever been a time when I felt as close to God. And that’s also the year my church gave me a wake up call–lying about me, accusing me of ridiculous things, and leaving me alone during a time of huge, monumental need. Phil thought he was having a heart attack. Our fridge broke. Phil lost his job. Phil had double hernia surgery. We almost lost our house. 2006 was probably the hardest year of my life. I felt so alone that year. And God taught me more about His love than I could’ve ever expected.

In 2007, my thyroid completely shut down and I’ve been trying to get my brain (and my body and my life) back ever since. It’s also the year I was asked to be on the editing team at The Midnight Diner.

In 2008, I lost my best friend, Jill in January. She might have survived Y2K, but she did not survive breast cancer. And then my grandma passed away in September. I was asked to be Editor-in-chief of The Midnight Diner.

In 2009, We were taken on a trip of a lifetime to Key West and Marco Island, Florida in March. Phil quit truck driving altogether! He started working as property manager for a local retreat center. We were blessed with a grandson in April. Around May, I finally started feeling like myself again with the help of some replacement thyroid hormone. We moved in June and I’ve been trying to figure out what life is now that Phil’s home all day, every day and now that everything has changed.

* * *

I started this post with the intention of talking about how I feel separated from God right now. I mean, I know He’s there, He just feels distant to me and I remember hearing people talk about feeling this way and I distinctly remember thinking, “I will NEVER feel that way. I will always feel as close to God as I do at this very moment.”

I was going to talk about this new Bible I got, The Books of the Bible–with no verse references–and how I was going to start reading that for the New Year.

But I got caught up in looking at the way things got so ugly during the time I was closest to God. I remember what I went through and the lessons I learned after I did Beth Moore’s Believing God study. Things I haven’t found the courage to write about.

And though God says, “Do not be afraid.”

I am afraid.

I’m afraid that if I get close to Him again, something worse will happen. And I don’t know how to let go of that fear.

I know I’m the one keeping the distance from God.

I said it.

Now what?

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The Fall

Why is it that when I hear sermons about The Fall, when I read about The Fall, and when I’ve done Bible studies that include something about The fall, why is it that they all act as if God didn’t know it was going to happen?

God created everything, God knows all, He’s known me since the creation of time, universe, earth, and so on–but really? He didn’t know Adam and Eve would sin?

I can’t get on that train.

I’ve never heard someone express opinions about the fall that say God created the universe knowing full well the first people would sin and He did it anyway with His divine plan in mind anyway. Nope. I hear them say, God created everything perfect for us and we screwed it up so then He had to come up with the Jesus plan.

Ok, so they don’t say it quite as sarcastically as I, but is my point being made?

Quit acting as if God had to change His plans because we did something that surprised Him.

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