This is Us...

This is us... THIS is hard...

Are you a fan of the show, "This Is Us"?   I should have known, but I didn't, so just checked, and Season 2 begins on Tuesday.  We were fans of Season 1, not saying we agreed with all the characters' decisions during all the episodes or even the writers' choices in all storylines.  Regardless, we were hooked.  The title of the show says much and then really nothing at all.  If I remember correctly, the pilot episode included the celebration of birthdays... four different people - adults, at first, seemingly unrelated.  Not far into the show, we were brought along for the creative story of how each of these lives were so intricately intertwined.  Each week brought new eye-opening, tear-shedding moments of the deepened understanding of each character and ... usually with a twist... the intricacies of their relationships.

Many moments were sprinkled with scenes from the past mingled with present day events in their lives, then just with a blink, back in time again.

What might your pilot episode include?  Would you share about your "now", or would a past event be key to understanding the progression of life?

Seems I've been busy lately with a time of figuring out... researching unexplored territory... asking questions... discerning much of what I don't feel qualified to discern.

How did we get here?  Anyone else ever asked that question?  Our family's journey, really it is Frank's journey, of chronic, unrelenting pain (we will never forget the gift of that pain-free six months!), has offered little relief and even less explanation.  Frank has battled hard often through gritted teeth with determined resolve to fight with every ounce of energy he could muster.  Realizing early on in this 14-year struggle his strength and will simply couldn't carry him through, his dependence on God's promise for help and sustaining presence became his lifeline.

Recently our "this is us" scene catapulted with such force, we've had a little trouble bouncing back.  Let's be honest... we've had a little trouble crawling back.  Without bunches of details of what we and some "much smarter than us" experts are trying to define, Frank has experienced a significant, for lack of a better word, my very medical term: brain fog... from days of memory loss, sleep deprivation, confusion, sadness, and honestly, deep despair.  This is hard.

For years we've laughed out loud at the term pain management.  Our discussion seemed to return to we have no interest or desire to manage pain... we'd simply prefer to remove pain.  That hasn't been the case, so management became the goal.  With much help we learned to live in a new normal of the managing reality.  

Managing this new normal... that prayerfully, will be short-lived, is hard.  Nobody has offered us the rule book, the ABC's to follow, even a list of "here's the likely way this will run".  

This is us... and this is hard.  We will continue to trust our God is the midst of very hard.  

We have prayed much... and will continue to.
We have asked others to pray... and know they have and will continue to.
We have grieved the unknown... and agreed that God knows.
We have feared uncertainty... and know Who conquers fear.
We have pleaded for understanding... and realized His grace is indeed sufficient.
We have asked for clarity... and hear the word of God give grace and peace.
We have looked for help... and know the HOPE of Jesus is our answer.

His word is active and alive... and brings comfort to these weary soul:
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?
 My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth
He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
 The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all harm
    he will watch over your life;
 the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.  Psalm 121

Praying His comfort in your 'hard', friend... and thankful for your prayers in ours.

Can I begin to imagine?

Spent this weekend at Camp Calvary in Markville, Kentucky at their fall their ladies' retreat.  Our conversation centered around the understanding of the how our God loves and pursues us. 

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4:10 

On Saturday morning during a time a personal reflection and prayer, time I shared these thoughts...  Thinking through this today reminded me of the joy of singing over my four children when they were babies.  Sometimes there was just a hushed humming to help settle or soothe them. They recognized my voice and were often calmed just because they knew they were safe.  Although I was their mother, there were times that I didn't know what they needed or even how to comfort them.  Thankfully, we are children to the Heavenly Father that knows our name and our every need. 

Can I begin to imagine?

Inspired by the death of his father, Bart Millard wrote the song “I Can Only Imagine” in 1999.  His aim was simply to consider what it would be like in Heaven and to be standing before God.   The chorus brings to my mind both overwhelming joy with exhilaration alongside such humbling moments of quiet bowing in reverence to the King of Kings.   

Surrounded by You glory What will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in your presence Or to my knees will I fall
                       Will I sing hallelujah Will I be able to speak at all
                                        I can only imagine

As we consider the relentless strength of our loving, pursuing Heavenly Father, I am once more drawn to His glorious mercy and grace along with His determined plan to love us with an everlasting love.
Zephaniah was a prophet during the reign of King Josiah whose message began with wrath and judgment … and then: the clear call of hope.  Hope through the ONE GOD who offers restoration to the people HE pursues… His children… including you and me. 

As you quietly sit with the Lord in these moments, allow these words from Zephaniah 3:17 to encourage you, to comfort you, to remind you, to cover you with simply HIS great love.

You may feel lonely today… “The Lord your God is with you.
You may feel defeated today… the Mighty Warrior who saves
You may feel overlooked today… He will take great delight in you.
You may feel judged … in His love He will no longer rebuke you
You may feel worthless… but [He] will rejoice over you with singing.”

Allow the thoughts of the Lord your God, the Mighty Warrior, the ONE who spoke the universe in existence, the ONE  who delights in you…
to guide you to simply hear His voice singing over you…

                                  Can you only imagine?