Thursday, October 29, 2009

Symbols of Suffering, Marks of Grace and a Book Review

Melodie Sankey recently posted this picture on her Facebook. The chunk of asphalt that very nearly robbed her of her husband, Marc. I´m pretty sure that Marc´s blood is visible in this picture- it takes my breath away. I´ve heard a lot of talk and thought a lot of thoughts about the great and mysterious theology of suffering in the last week since the accident. These are familiar thoughts for me. I´ve been in my own valley of questions. With my own trauma- one that seems a bit like a friendly toasting-marshmallow flame against his roaring bonfire (although on principle I refuse to compare trials with others- as each is specifically our own). My symbol of suffering is below:

I´m hearing the same questions I asked myself five years ago. At the risk of sounding heretical, I didn´t like God very much after my little experience. Oh, I knew He was all-powerful, sovereign. That wasn´t very soothing at the moment. I just wanted to know if He was good. I wouldn´t feed one of my children to dogs, or allow a rock to crush their forehead. I read a lot of Job, since I related to the feeling of meaningless, senseless suffering. I was afraid to pray to this Person I thought I knew, so I read instead. After living in Job for those pain-filled weeks, I stumbled across a secondary resource: When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty by Joni Eareckson Tada. I don´t know about you, but "Just trust the Lord" sounds different coming from a person who hasn´t been in pain. Joni speaks the truth of God from a living hell (in my opinion). Let me say in all caps: GET THIS BOOK IF YOU WANT TO ENCOUNTER A LIFE-CHANGING THEOLOGY OF SUFFERING!!!! If you don´t want to pay the two bucks for a used version on Amazon, check it out at your library.

I don´t want to risk being the blade that opens the can of worms, so I´m not going to go into my personal theology of suffering overmuch. I would like to share two thoughts, though. The first is that after Job and Joni´s book, I walked away (literally) from my own experience with a motto for life: "There are no lapses in the goodness of God." I know this heart, soul and mind. Really know it. Number two is from Romans 12:1. You know, the whole "presenting your body a living sacrifice" passage. How many, many times have we heard that in a sermon on consecration, sanctification? I´ve presented myself for His service, "anything you want, I´ll do, Father." I´m sure many of you have been at that same altar in your life. But what about our actual body? Can we come to the point of presenting our physical body, with all its sensitive nerve endings, its potential for suffering and pain, and say, "Here, do with it as it glorifies You most"? That´s a scary place to be when you´re Marc Sankey. Or when you´re anyone else.

I´ve come to see my skirt, tucked away in storage, as a mark of grace. I´m certain that with time, that piece of asphalt will similarly transformed. I´d like to share some lyrics with you from Point of Grace:

I used to wish that I could rewrite history
I used to dream that each mistake could be erased
Then I could just pretend
I never knew the me back then

I used to pray that You would take this shame away
Hide all the evidence of who I've been
But it's the memory of
The place You brought me from
That keeps me on my knees
And even though I'm free

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

I have not lived a life that boasts of anything
I don't take pride in what I bring
But I'll build an altar with
The rubble that You've found me in
And every stone will sing
Of what You can redeem

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar

Don't let me forget
Everything You've done for me
Don't let me forget
The beauty in the suffering

Heal the wound but leave the scar
A reminder of how merciful You are
I am broken, torn apart
Take the pieces of this heart
And heal the wound but leave the scar.

And the chorus I sang to myself over and over by Al Denson:
If you need a pillow for your sorrow
If you need a blanket for your soul
If you need a place your broken heart can be made whole
He'll be your strength to face tomorrow
And when the night seems dark and cold
Fall into the arms that won't let go
Fall in to the arms that won't let go

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alex´s Dedication and Fall Time

I can feel the bloggin´ bug beginning to bite again. Ah, Facebook is fine, with little snippets of life from a few hundred friends each week, but it´s such quick fix. I kind of seeing blogging as the front porch sitting of the internet. Time to think, to write, to pass around the photo album, to indulge in some cyber-coffee.

I thought I´d start off with a few pictures from the last roll of film that came through. Alex and his cousin Stephen were dedicated together by Rev. Darrell Stetler in September at the Burlington Bible Methodist Church. Bro. Stetler did such a good presentation, even including a charge to the older siblings, which I thought was neat. It was once again a time for remembering why it is we do what we do, for lifting the eyes above loads of laundry and piles of leaves to those sweet children in our lives. To the eternality of their souls. Speaking of which, Kathryn informed me and her daddy that she asked Jesus to live in her heart. This was the last week of September. She´s not a public performer, so true to her nature, this is something she did privately, without even us. But upon questioning and observing, we feel that she is indeed growing in grace. So exciting!

And it´s FALL. F-A-L-L, Fall! as Buzby (Alex´s favorite Hermie character) would say (in his best Elvis voice). I am so loving it! For all you flavored coffee drinkers out there, you HAVE to try the new seasonal liquid Coffeemate Caramel Apple flavor. Yummy!!! Make sure you have a slice of carrot cake or a pumpkin muffin to go with it. More pictures below...


Ah-ha! Happiness is getting your blog a new look! Now I feel motivated to actually post something on it again. Pictures coming later on today! And now all of you can choose to be subjected to my electic musical tastes. I picked a playlist that makes me smile. Hope it brings some cheer to your day.

Love to all!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Playing with layouts... pardon the mess...