"There are seasons in our lives we cannot prepare for. We come to a fork in the road. One of them steps back and says, 'I knew it. This is the way it always go.' It quits and lets go. The other one trusts and says, 'I have no basis for saying this except for the character of God. I trust him.'"
"At the end of the night we all lined up to receive communion and prayer from our Pastor and his wife. It took a long time to get through the line that night, but while waiting I recall looking around at the many different families who stood there ready to receive the bread and wine. As I looked at the different people gathered I was taken with the sacredness of what I was witnessing. I watched some who seemed so full; full of thanks, and life, and love because the person whose hand they held was now cancer free. But there were others who stood in line whose loved one recently died from cancer. They had no hand to hold... That night I saw them all gathered in a line: the hungry and the full, the broken and the healed, the joyful and the mourners. There we stood, moving towards God, but also “creeping toward each other, [with] the frightened, bold agreement to be in this thing together”. “Frightened” simply because we know that we, at any point, may change places. Those who comfort may soon need to be comforted. Life is both valley and mountain. Sometimes both at once. “Feasts and fasts are bound inexorably” Adler writes. P. T. Forsyth put it like this, “The depth is simply the height inverted…”. That night at church we both gathered at the table; the hungry and the full. Is there a better place to gather? It’s there, after all, that feast and fast, joy and sorrow, kiss. We meet God at the table, but don’t we also miss him? Maranatha (“come quickly”) is a cry of hope, but isn’t it also a cry longing? Of homesickness?"
“Every time we make the decision to love someone, we open ourselves to great suffering, because those we most love cause us not only great joy but also great pain. The greatest pain comes from leaving. When the child leaves home, when the husband or wife leaves for a long period of time or for good, when the beloved friend departs to another country or dies… the pain of the leaving can tear us apart. Still, if we want to avoid the suffering of leaving, we will never experience the joy of loving. And love is stronger than fear, life stronger than death, hope stronger than despair. We have to trust that the risk of loving is always worth taking."
Yesterday was beautiful. Thus far, New Zealand winter involves a few days of rain and clouds followed by sunny, happy ones.
The past few months have been exactly that, cloudy and sunny. It's push and shove of feeling stuck and growing. Moments of homesickness and disappointment with the nursing council, but also sweetness of new friendships and the expanding of the Well.
This past month sprinted. Re-experiencing Soul Shift, completing the first bereavement group, adventuring our first Church retreat, hosting wonderful people, finishing at the clinic, starting at the university.
There are parts I wouldn't want to face again, but also lots of bits that were real good. Like the winter sun, a little cold and hopeful.
Two minutes before ten, I am standing near the back of the school
hall. Glancing around, very few seats filled, and I feel guilt. Will more come? As I make my way to the keyboard, my thoughts multiple. Did I send enough texts or connect this week? How could I have encouraged others to come? We start the first song, my eyes downcast as we sing:
Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord.
When I look up, the front row crowded with sweet kids, families together, familiar faces, the room filled. God corrects me. Emilie, this is my church.
I am reminded not by my own ability, but His Spirit at work in each
person. My thoughts turn into prayers, for every one who sits in our
congregation, that they hear from God. His voice whispering: I am yours, you are mine.
Our first birthdays in New Zealand. For those that don't know, mine's the 7th, Logan's the 8th. Blessed by church ladies and gents who took us out separately to celebrate. Lots of phone calls and facetime from home throughout the weekend. A small group of friends to enjoy soup, cake & games. Lazy Saturday morning filled with Reese's puffs cereal (kinda family tradition), SYTYCD episodes and opening presents. Of course, followed by more eating, late brunch and pizza for dinner.