Sunday, May 1, 2011

gratitude

"When the righteous cry for help,
the LORD hears and delivers
them out of all of their troubles.
The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all."
Psalm 34:1719 (ESV)

Today my heart is overflowing with gratitude. God's grace, mercy and faithfulness have brought my family through unbelievable pain, devastating loss and deep, deep anguish.

In September of last year, our world fell apart. We realized that our reality wasn't what we thought it was. As we began to unravel the situation, the enormity of our true reality began to grow in size and intensity. We have been through incredibly trying times before, but nothing of this magnitude.

Not a day has passed where we haven't been forced to deal with more bad news, extremely difficult truths or unbearable decisions. The waves keep coming and crashing down upon us, but our Faithful King has walked with us through every single painful moment.

We've had friends who have come alongside us to bear our pain with us, cry with us, pray with us and support us in humbling ways. We are eternally thankful for their love and acts of kindness and generosity.

We've also had friends who, for their own personal reasons, have been unable to walk this painful path with us. And that's alright. We honestly would have chosen to skip this detour had we known how excruciating it was going to be! (Smile.) Admittedly, it hurts when those close to us suddenly disappear, but we do understand and there is grace in that.

And yet, God keeps providing all that we need and in unexpected ways. Eight months into this and the oppression finally feels as though it's starting to lift. We are seeing peeks of sunshine through the clouds and are so hopeful that the days and months ahead will bring deeper healing, new growth and awesome redemption. We trust that whatever else the Lord allows us to walk through, He will continue to walk with us.

This pain that He has allowed us to endure has been truly refining. I am so very proud of my family. They've had to deal with extremely difficult matters, and, even on our worst days, they have continued to trust God and His love for us. The blessings and gifts that have come through our trials are abundant and we are full of gratitude.

That said, this isn't what we planned. Our dreams have been shattered. Our hopes crushed. In all our lives, we never, ever would have expected to find ourselves in this horrific situation. And yet, what the Enemy meant for our harm, God has used for our good and His glory.

I stand in awe of all that God has brought us through. Clearly, His plans are far different than ours. I have to believe they will be better than anything we ever expected. He is good and He loves us.

He knew where we needed to rely more fully on Him and we can't help but cling tightly to our Rock. He has stripped us to the core and changed our priorities in ways we never imagined.

We asked Him to break our hearts for those things that break His and, WOW He is answering that prayer in bold ways. Geoff and I are walking in places we never dreamed of walking.

We are coming face to face with so many of His broken and hurting children. Families working their way through overwhelming trials and struggles. It's humbling. We are dealing with matters we honestly never thought we would be facing. But, in spite of how painful and difficult this is, we are thankful.

God is answering our prayers again, in ways we didn't expect, but amazing things are happening. Our faith has been tested, in countless ways, and proven strong and true. Our God is magnificent and we praise Him for who He is!

The journey ahead is still long. I wish we could say that life was starting to settle down and that the hardest part is behind us. Oh, if only that were true! We're in for a l-o-n-g haul, and if I learned anything from this past year, it's that I can't assume to know what lies ahead. The one thing I am sure of, though, is that God will be with us every step of the way. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. Because He's good. And He loves us.

He loves you, too, my Friend. Wherever life finds you today, trust that you are loved. When the road seems hard, He loves you. When the blessings are few and far between, He loves you. When it feels like you can't bear another day, He loves you. When you feel abandoned and alone, He is with you.

I don't know what the future holds, but I do know that my God loves me, He loves you and whatever this journey brings, we can face it, together, with God's love pressing us on.

May you trust His love in a deeper way today and may you keep LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

With gratitude and grace,