How Beauty Comes from Pain

The fragrance from crumpled petals.

It wasn’t my church, and it wasn’t my people, but a friend told me what happened that Sunday after church. Half a century later, I still remember. I remember the beauty that came from the fragrance of crumpled petals. Beauty from pain!

The older lady stopped to speak to a group of girls standing outside church one Sunday morning. A woman of graciousness and character, she moved with assuredness and certainness. Grace knew who she was and to Whom she belonged.

Some things had happened in their church and folks were still reeling from the aftershock of pain. Relationships were strained and restoration seemed bleak.

Did Grace perhaps sense the discouragement of these teenage girls as she stopped to speak to them? Over a few minutes’ span, she chatted with them about day-to-day things. Nobody mentioned the pain or what had happened. Yet the elephant was there in the room. The one thing that brought pain; the pain that nobody knew what to do with, the pain about which nobody knew how to pray anymore. Could beauty possibly come from such pain?

Better, Not Bitter

Finally, Grace spoke to the experience they all were avoiding. “I want you girls to know I am praying that God can use the things that have happened to make you better and not bitter.” That was all.  She turned and walked away.

The girls knew the hurt Grace had experienced over the years: torn family relationships, children who walked away from God, and the pain of strained relationships. One would think, from watching Grace, that life had been easy for her. She was always sweet, kind, and gentle. Her face belied the nights she had stayed awake to pray for her wayward child, the days she had cried for answers when no answers came, and the years her prayers had gone unanswered. Yet, she stayed the course and she kept praying.

Instead of becoming bitter, she allowed her pain to make her a better person. Grace allowed pain to make her kind and compassionate. She cared about others. The pain she experienced made her better. God used that pain – because she allowed Him – to make her more gentle, more caring, and more easily able to notice the pain of others. She allowed the crushing of the petals to exude fragrance and rest.

When Grace told these girls her desire for better instead of bitter, they knew what she meant. They had watched her walk through valleys of sorrow; they had watched the pain of brokenness change her hair from black to gray in a few short months. They had seen the wrinkles increase on her face, but they had also seen the beauty shining through that pain. Was it because she spent time with Jesus? Having seen and felt her spirit, these girls wanted to become like her.

Crushing Brings Beauty and Fragrance

It is the crushing of the rose petals that brings out the fragrance.  The sweetness of her spirit remained after she walked away.

Grace isn’t here anymore. When she went to Heaven to be with Jesus, some of her prayers had been answered. Some of them were still there, at the Throne of God, like incense before her Lord. When I think I Grace, I remember the fragrance of her spirit.

She didn’t allow the pain in her life to push her away from God. Instead, she allowed that pain to push her toward Him.

I want to become like Grace because she embodied character traits of Jesus. I want the pain in my life to push me toward God instead of away. I want to allow Him to use the pain to make me better and not bitter.

beauty from pain

The Potter’s Wheel and Broken Pieces

I want to allow Him to put me back on the potter’s wheel and remake me, patching up the broken, rough edges. Over and over, God uses our brokenness to shape us into His character so we can become like Him. When we’re broken into pieces, He doesn’t throw those pieces away. When our dreams are gone or are so shattered there is no mending or repairing, He takes those broken pieces and gives renewed hope and vision. He gives us new dreams.

If we ask Him and allow Him, He scoops us up and puts us back on the Potter’s wheel. In the turning and molding, He shapes us into what He wants us to become.

No pain is too great that He cannot use it.

beauty from pain

Life is an opportunity to let Him shape us into becoming like Jesus. This is not easy and sometimes it is downright hard. When we’re emptied and broken, when we’re wounded and crushed, He never quits. He continues to mold us and make us worthy because He does not throw the clay away. Grace modeled this for those girls.

Let Brokenness Become a Fragrance

If you’re struggling with brokenness today, listen to this song. Ask God to make of you a vessel of honor. Ask Him to produce fragrance from the crushing so that you, too, can become molded into His image. Your sweetness will be a fragrance to those around you.

The SONG “Emptied and Broken”

The Words by Gene Reasoner

Emptied and broken, I came back to Him

A vessel unworthy and so scarred with sin.

But He did not despair, He started over again

And I bless the day He didn’t throw the clay away.

Chorus:

Over and over, He molds me and makes me

Into His likeness, He fashions the clay.

A vessel of honor I am today,

All because Jesus didn’t throw the clay away.

 

He is the Potter and I am the clay

Molded in His  image, He wants me to stay.

But when I stumble and I fall, and my vessel breaks,

He just picks up the pieces, He doesn’t throw the clay away.

The Song

To listen to this song, click on this link.

Pinterest How BEAUTY comes from pain

 

 

 

 

Surprised by Grief

grief

Grief hits us sometimes when we least expect it.

There is no easy way to walk through that mountain of heartache and pain. Within a six-week span in 2010, Dave and I became orphans when I lost my mother and he lost his father. That first year, like a tsunami, the waves of grief came and went, leaving us surprised by grief.

This story tells a little bit about our journey in losing Pop Slabach – and what it’s like to experience the faithfulness of God. It was written eight months after we buried Pop. If you’re grieving, don’t be surprised at the grief that hits you from time to time. Like the waves of high tide, grief will hit you full force, knocking you down. Then, surprisingly, the waves will calm down and you will experience low tide again. A few days later, you’ll be knocked down again as more waves invade your soul. Each time, the waves won’t be quite as high or as strong. Each time, low tide will bring respite. In time, healing comes even though the empty ache is always there.

Surprised by Grief

grief

I have been surprised, again, by grief. 

Sometimes I am blind-sided because it is least expected.  Other times, I am more (somewhat) prepared. Like this past week. Prepared? I really thought I was. Surprised again?  Yes indeed. Again.

Three years ago this month, we moved into our new kitchen.  It was a six-month process from start to finish.  In late spring, Pop came from Ohio to help us get started.  Ever since we bought this house, Pop fussed about our upstairs steps. They were too narrow and too steep.  He was a contractor, and he would never have built steps like that.

Never mind that our house was built in the 1920s and other folks who lived in this house and raised their kids survived those stairs.  Never mind that those stairs never bothered me. They bothered Pop, even if he didn’t live here. Never mind that Dave said he wasn’t going to undertake such a project.  If no one else was going to do it, then Pop would, because somebody had to do it.  And he did.

grief

Tim came from Christiansburg for a week to work for his older brother and help his father. The kids thought climbing a ladder to get to the upstairs would be great fun for a few days. I slept downstairs for two nights because I was not going to climb a ladder to go to bed. Going up wouldn’t have been so bad, but coming down in the middle of the night in case of bathroom necessity was out of the question. Pop just smiled when he saw me come downstairs the morning of taking-out-the-stairs-day with my stash of clothes.

The three stooges ran into more than a few snags doing those steps. (Why am I not surprised?) Fortunately, we were going to lower the ten-foot dining room ceiling anyhow, so the steps could extend into the dining room. Other discussions took place, and once they pulled off the job and worked on something else for a while as they ruminated how to solve problems with those steps. You could see the wheels in Pop’s head just a-turning as he worked out the problem in his mind.

grief

Pop and Tim also took out the four windows in the east playroom and installed patio doors in their place.  Never mind that we didn’t have a deck and wouldn’t have one for another year; those doors were installed as plumb as possible considering the age of the house and the uneven floors and ceilings. Pop’s only regret that week was not having time to help take out the wall between the dining room and the playroom for the new kitchen.  Every time he came to visit, he had to come check the progress. Once I even told Dave that it seemed Pop came more to see the house than to see us!

grief

Born and raised Amish, Pop came from a culture where parents did not compliment their children verbally; to do so might instill pride in their offspring. Yet he’d tell other people about his kids and what they were doing, and we knew he was pleased. The first visit he made after we were (finally) in the new kitchen, he walked from wall to wall, ran his hands up door frames, opened and closed drawers and cabinets, checking for ease and making sure things were level. That carpenter-look was evident as he cocked his head, squinted his eyes, and eye-balled everything. While he never came out and said so, it was obvious he was impressed with the completed kitchen and the fact that his son had done the work — and done it well.

Eighteen months later, he came again — this time to inspect the deck Dave and the boys had built Thanksgiving weekend. Our sons followed him around as he ran his hands across the railing, pushed on boards with his shoes, and listened to them tell their version of helping to build the deck.

And always, there was the discussion about our next project: making a master bedroom and bath out of the upstairs sun porch. Some day.

grief

                                              Pop with his bucket truck.

This past February, Dave decided it was time. We moved everything off the sun porch (my attic) and they knocked off the outside walls and began building the floor. We talked about seeing if Pop could come to Virginia again and help with this project. We knew he would because he had as much as said so. Dave knew his father’s experience would be invaluable and he’d enjoy the work. It would take some engineering to build the floor so no support would be needed below since we were extending the addition.

Before Dave made that phone call to set a date, Pop had a massive stroke.  Nine days later, he went to Heaven.  You know the first thing I thought about when we knew that, barring a miracle, Pop would not get better?  That sun porch addition. How were we ever going to do that without Pop?!

We didn’t — for six months.  The “addition” sat there all summer, covered by a black tarp. We’d pull it up on sunny days and lower it when it rained. Like a massive curtain, we had to find our way through that tarp when we wanted to get inside in pouring rain. I confess I was getting pretty tired of that tarp slamming me in the face when I tried to find my way with bags of groceries in tow.

It helped when Dave and I talked about the reason for the tarp. Continuing the addition was too painful at the moment. Oh sure, Dave could have made himself complete it. Yet waiting allowed him time to process his pain. Dave’s grief was more important than any addition on our house, and I was more than willing to wait.  [It helped that cash flow was a little low at the moment as well. :-)]

I came to realize that the black tarp symbolized our grief. With the loss of Pop, we had lost a dream. Sure, we would miss him as the father, grandfather, and great-grandfather of the family.  For the immediate future, we missed his expertise. On “sunny” days, I’d didn’t think about it much and Dave didn’t mention losing Pop.  Then, like a stormy cloud, the grief surge would hit again.  I wondered — some days — if we’d ever get the addition finished when I observed another gale as it sent more grief waves. Yet I knew the question was not if, but when.

grief

And I asked my Father to help me remember to hide under His wings instead of fighting the storm.

A few months ago, that tarp was pulled up for the last time. Walls, windows, insulation, sheet rock, (most) electrical, and (some) plumbing are complete. Paint choices have been made and the floor has been ordered. The job is still not done, but we’re nearing completion.

grief

           The addition that Pop never helped build.

Last week, on October 27th, we remembered Paul (Pop’s middle son) on the 12th year anniversary of his arrival in Heaven. On the 28th, Pop celebrated his first birthday in Heaven. I watched the tsunami of grief hit Dave – and felt its aftermath in me — as my husband finished sheetrock alone.

I have been surprised, again, by grief. How can finishing sheetrock bring such pain?!

I have found that remembering brings healing. I have learned that acknowledging releases pain. I have experienced reprieve as I have hugged the Rock and basked—again—in the goodness of God, even in my grief.

Pop would say, “We go on.” And we do. It still hurts, but we go on. We go on, because the God we serve is a Shelter in any storm, a Haven for any heartache, and a Comfort in every care.

Dave reminded us yesterday that our grief and its aftermath of fear, dismay, and human weakness find a solution in Isaiah 41:10: “Fear thou not, for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

On that promise, we walk through our grief even though we continue to be surprised by grief. We go on, and we are not alone.

Pinterest grief

 

How to Find the Sweet in the Bitter

The Water, the River, and the Fire is an Opportunity to Choose

Between the Bitter or the Sweet

What started out bitter became sweet. The threat of death gave way to life. Cousins tell the story of their vacation in Hawaii – when they left their spouses in the motel and took an early morning swim. Somehow they got caught in a riptide. Before they knew it, they were being pushed out to sea. For hours, they struggled and fought the waves until their strength was gone. They thought they were going to die, so they gave up.

The current carried them away as they drifted along. The Riptide eventually tossed them aside and moved to other territories. It took a while before they realized they were drifting back to shore. In not fighting the waves, they survived. Soon, exhausted, they were back on the shore. It’s been years since their experience, but they have never forgotten.

When life throws us currents that threaten to overcome us, when storms and fires threaten to engulf us, it’s so easy to focus on the storm and the bitter instead of looking for the sweet. It’s so easy to fight the waves that are pounding our safe place instead of riding those waves.

When our kids or spouse are hurting and we just want to fix it, but we can’t, we need to look for the sweet. When the darts of the devil plummet us, we need to look for the sweet. When we’re facing financial ruin,  fractured relationships, or fatiguing health, the sweet is there. We just have to comb the honey.

We can find the bitter every day of our lives without even searching.

Have you tasted any of this bitter?

  • broken contracts and commitments
  • strained relationships
  • betrayal and false accusations
  • loss of a job
  • terminal diagnoses
  • fractured families and friends
  • financial upheavals
  • death

Instead of focusing on the bitter, we need to sink our teeth into the sweet. That’s the only way to truly taste the sweet. Scripture tells us that the Word of God is more desirable than gold and is sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. 
We can find the sweet in the promises of God.  Some of these are found in Isaiah 43:1-3.
  • He has called us by name; we are His.
  • When we pass through the waters, He will be with us.
  • When we pass through the rivers, they will not overflow.
  • When we walk through the fire, we will not be burned.

ALL of this because He is the Lord, our God and our Savior.

When investments come up empty, when our dreams are shattered, and when hope seems gone, I can resist His call to find the sweet. When life doesn’t make sense and when prayers seem to go unanswered, I can choose to gnaw on the bitter or savor the sweet. When life is unfair and when grief is overwhelming, I get to make a conscious choice to focus on the sweet. Whether it’s the water or the river, or an all-consuming fire, I can choose to quit fighting the unfairness and the losses. I can choose, instead, to trust a God Who said He will be with me.

I can choose to taste the sweet.honey teaspoon

How about you?  How many times have you tasted the sting of the bitter?

How about claiming the sweet?

There are so many promises in the Word of God. Do we know those promises? Have we experienced them?

What scriptures can you claim today that will help you focus on the sweet? How firm is your foundation?

The song How Firm a Foundation  is based on the scripture in Isaiah. To listen to Danny Ortego sing this song that is taken from this scripture, click here.  To hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the same song in a different tune, you can listen here.

 

 

Rearranging my Life after Goodbyes

swimming

summer swimtime fun!

It’s been quite the summer. We’ve prayed over secrets and said more goodbyes than hellos.

A few weeks ago I told a friend that I’ve sat on so many of my kids’ secrets this summer that I had trouble remembering what information was classified from whom. Sometimes I wasn’t sure which one needed prayers the most.

Recently I told Rebekah that maybe we just have too many kids. (There’s an event at VT that she wants us to attend the same weekend we’ll be visiting Ben in Colorado.)

Dave reading

Storytime with Papa

Then there is this thing of saying goodbye. Goodbyes mean that I have to rearrange my life. Just when I become comfortable with the way things are, along comes another goodbye.

I’m a little like my mama was when we wanted to rearrange furniture. She liked things just the way they were and saw no need for change. If it worked this way, why not leave it? Her philosophy (minus incorrect grammar) was: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

My sisters and I wanted variety. We said she might like it, and You’ll never know until you try! She didn’t appreciate the time it took to rearrange things or the upheaval of trying to find places for the disheveled pieces left when we were done! (Mama does get credit, however, for releasing three of her daughters to men or to ministry in Canada, Nebraska and Virginia as well as cheerfully rearranging her life as each of her girls left home.)

Now that I’m nearing the big 6-0, I’m there, too. I rather like things to stay the same. My kids don’t see it that way; so I’m kept busy praying over their activities and rearranging and finding places for their stuff. In addition, I’ve helped move them home and assisted their packing to get ready for the next leg of their journey. Sometimes I sit down at the end of the day and say, Whew!

"And how was your day?!"

“And how was your day?!”

We knew this would be the summer we said goodbye to a house full of kids.

one can never give too many hugs

one can never give too many hugs

We had one son moving west (one of those secrets while those Phone and Skype and They’re-Gonna-Fly-Me-Out-There interviews were being completed).

I tried to prepare myself to say goodbye to my oldest and my three youngest: two college girls and my high school senior. Plus, soon we’d be bidding farewell to the little nuggets who had wrapped their tentacles around our hearts for over a year.

That goodbye was coming first and would probably be the hardest because of its permanence.

Tim with K in truck

Tim gives one final ride in his truck.

Suffice it to say that the longer we love, the harder it is to say goodbye. The more we invest, the stronger the chords. We invested time and energy, especially in those first weeks when nighttime kept us awake for hours. Each bleary morning as I poured coffee, I wished for just one good night of sleep. I’m just too old for this, I’d say to the morning dew as I sipped my coffee on the deck. I survived. Even though they weren’t ours to keep, we claimed them as ours and they surely claimed us. Now we had to say goodbye.

The evening before, Tim came by to give them each one more ride in his truck. He hung around afterward for a long time.

On goodbye day, we packed their clothes, their toys, and their books. We filled another bag with blankets and homemade pillowcases. A deck party was planned, and we had invited friends for supper.

Mid-afternoon as we surveyed our not-so-clean house and their so-very-many-things-pile we had amassed, Sarah Beth commented, “Maybe it wasn’t such a good an idea to have company for supper.”

“Oh, by tonight you’ll be glad we did,” I replied.

We said tearful goodbyes. We hugged and kissed and waved as they drove away for the last time.

Then we went inside and finished company preparations. Instead of whining about our loss, we reminisced with our friends and shared our pain in saying goodbye. Instead of feeling alone, we leaned directly into our pain and felt supported because we were surrounded by friends who had loved them intensely as well.

Little helpers: peeling apples to make apple dumplings

A few days later, Sarah Beth and I headed “home” to Maryland.  We knew our house would be empty and quiet without little feet pitter-pattering and little hands pestering to help in the kitchen.  Plus, life wasn’t going to get any easier if we sat around feeling sorry for ourselves.

As always, it was cooler in Maryland. I failed to take a jacket, so I went to Mama’s bedroom closet to find a sweater. The gray sweater fits and still smelled like Mama, even though it had that musty odor of unworn clothes hanging in a closet.

Stuffing my hands in the pockets, I found two cough drops, three handkerchiefs, and three toothpicks.

my mama’s sweater

Finding these items in her pockets was no surprise; this was my mama. I can still see her with that toothpick in her mouth after a meal; remember us begging her to use tissues instead of a handkerchief when she had a cold; hear that gravel in her throat when she had a winter cold and cough.

I hugged the sweater to myself and went to visit my friend Pam. After my massage, I decided that before I feel inclined to go for counseling for depression, I’ll opt to get a massage. Pam listens to a lot of secrets as she massages weary muscles and tissues, and secrets are safe with her. We talked about the therapy she gives by listening and by caring. I think having someone to talk to helps alleviate depression. Really, I’d be getting plenty of bang for my bucks!

Pam secret's safe

the note on the wall in Pam’s massage room

[I am not saying counseling is never necessary; at times getting Christian, professional help is the best way to go. I’m saying that if we’d be more willing to share the cries of our heart with others, and if we’d be more open to bearing each other’s burdens and could be counted on for your-secret’s-safe-with-me, we might need fewer counseling sessions down the road].

On the way home, I visited the graveyard. The sun was kinder on this late June day than it had been that cold, blustery day we trudged the shoveled path to bury our mama.

Age: 3 years, 1 day

With summer rays beaming on the graves, I reckoned (again) that I can never understand the pain my half-siblings experienced when they buried a little sister and, exactly one year later, their mother.

I reckoned that I had no concept of the grief and burden my mother bore when she buried our father.

Only five, I didn’t understand the pain of her loss nor the view on her horizon as she faced unknown widowed-years ahead.

Standing there in the graveyard I thanked God for the heritage I possess. It is mine, not because of anything I’ve done, but because of the choices made by others, and because He is God.

Saying goodbye is never easy. In our grief, there are poignant reminders that stir us along the way. We can try to slam the door on our grief and our goodbyes, or we can lean into the pain. I have learned that leaning into the pain instead of avoiding it brings healing, as well as hope.

one of my mama's cape dresses

one of my mama’s cape dresses

VT quilt

the VT quilt in the making

Soon after her death four winters ago, my sisters and I spent an afternoon sorting through Mama’s dresses. We chose some for ourselves and our daughters; then we then donated the rest for missions. The dresses I had chosen were still hanging in her closet and my plan was to finally do something with these dresses.

While I was tearing out seams in Mama’s dresses, Sarah Beth cut patches from her Virginia Tech t-shirts. And my dear sister Katharine, who spends more time helping others than doing her own things, revved up her sewing machine and joined the fray.

my sister Katharine

my sister Katharine

the pile of dresses

the pile of dresses

My sister Barbara wandered into the dining room and helped diminish the pile of dresses that needed to be taken apart. (There was a method to my madness in coming home to Grantsville for this project!) As we ripped seams and sewed seams, I learned things about my father (who said goodbye to us fifty-four years ago) and his preference of colors.

The next morning I picked blueberries next to the playhouse we played in as kids. My children spent hours in that playhouse yard; now great-grandchildren are making memories with the sandbox, the playhouse, and the swing. Every time I walk through that Playhouse yard, I wax nostalgic and wish, for a moment, that I could be a child again when goodbyes are less frequent and poignant. I brought the blueberries and memories back to Virginia with me.

the playhouse, swing, and sandbox – my childhood classroom in creativity

Nostalgia seems to surprise me at unexpected bends. . . .

At first, we thought she was a child’s dolly.

Sarah Beth holds the 6-week old baby

Sarah Beth holds the 6-week old baby

Stopping at a roadside stand to purchase peaches, we were surrounded by barefoot children whose mother allowed us to hold their baby sister (child number ten).

Their innocence was a pure delight and they were fascinated by our purses and cell phones.

You don’t know how blessed you are, I wanted to tell them, thinking of our nuggets who had said goodbye and returned to a seemingly less safe world so unlike this one.

these children and I have the same ancestors

these children and I have the same ancestors

 

Amish children

“barefoot boys with cheeks of tan”

We brought our sister Katharine back with us so she could fly to Canada for a visit. (It’s a long story: we brought her south to fly north. We took advantage of having her with us, especially since we got up at 3AM to get her to the airport before I had to go to work.)

On our way home from Maryland, we stopped in Harrisonburg and spent part of a day, along with others, helping Dave’s sister Rhoda move. After all the furniture was moved (including The Monstrosity, as Dave referred to the piece that took six people to load), we unpacked the kitchen boxes and decided where we thought Rhoda wanted her kitchen items.

Between our homecoming and Katharine’s flight, my sister Rhoda was admitted to ICU; we wondered if another goodbye was coming our way. Perhaps it wasn’t wise to go south to go north? (She is doing okay now but we’re still waiting on word about the possibility of heart surgery).

moving the monstrosity

moving the monstrosity

When we got home from our Maryland journey it was our turn to finalize plans for the Slabach annual reunion at Camp Tuk-Away near Blacksburg, Virginia. The rainy weekend didn’t deter folks from coming or having fun.

This reunion was especially significant for our family. On the final day of the reunion, we hugged our oldest goodbye. Ben was going back to Richmond and then heading west in forty-eight hours.

That weekend Jason told his siblings that he was working in the Ebola unit at Emory Hospital in Atlanta (another secret Dave and I prayed about but couldn’t share).

Jason

Jason

From the reunion, Sarah Beth left us to go to Atlanta with Jason and Katie before flying back to Richmond to ride to Colorado with Ben. It was one of those Whew! goodbye days.

Sb and Ben in CO

siblings at the end of their journey

Nine days later we picked Sarah Beth up at the airport, and then she and I picked grapes. Grape juice, pickles, and packing were on the agenda for the day.

Canned pickles, tomato juice, peaches, grape juice, and green beans filled my counter top and stayed there for two weeks until I had time to make room and organize the basement shelves.

goodbye at VT

another goodbye

Two days later we said goodbye to Sarah Beth (heading east to Richmond). The following morning we took Rebekah and Aaron northwest to Virginia Tech. We unloaded furniture and belongings, drove to Jimmy John’s for lunch, and said goodbye.

From there I joined other women heading to a retreat. It was another one of those Whew! days. When I got back Saturday evening, the house was tidy and clean. For the first time in twenty-eight years, it was just the two of us. I have said enough goodbyes for now that mean rearranging my life!

We like the change of pace, the quiet house. Yet it doesn’t mean we’ve done our time or that it’s time to retire.

We will never be done praying for our kids and their future. Plus, there are other children to love and teach, youth to rub shoulders with, young folks to mentor, older folks to visit, and neighbors to feed.

home, sweet childhood home

home, sweet childhood home

Going back to my childhood home and then coming home helps me realize again how much I have been given. Therefore, much is required. (Luke 12:48)

My friend and mentor Rhoda was chided for wearing herself out babysitting other people’s grandchildren. She and her husband babysat entire weekends for couples so they could get away to rejuvenate their marriages.

“This is Kingdom work,” she said. “I’d rather wear out doing Kingdom work than wear out for any other reason.”

For that reason, and for this season, we’re not done. Although the goodbyes have been said and we spend more time praying over our kids than being with them in person, we’re not done.

We’ll never be done being parents (and keeping secrets and saying goodbye).

 

As long as we’re here on this earth, we’ll never be done with Kingdom work. For this reason and for this season, I will keep rearranging my life.