5 Questions About…Disappointment with God

Conrad family-40Emily and her husband Steve are dear friends of ours. I had the delight of working with Steve in ministry and traveling with him in Congo before he knew Emily.  Then, John and I had the privilege of performing their wedding ceremony together!  This remarkable young couple inspire me with their faith and authenticity.  It’s an honor to walk alongside them on their journey!  I asked Emily 5 Questionsbecause I knew she’d be honest and reflect from a heart seeking God.

1.  Over the past year and a half you’ve had an experience that has been deeply painful and disappointing.  Can you describe what happened?

In early 2013, my husband and I got the green light to travel to Congo to meet and pick up the little girl and little boy that we were in the process of adopting. We had spent 13 months previously preparing our home and our family for the addition of 2 more little ones, a little girl 18 months old and a boy 2 ½ years old. Although we knew it would be crazy to have 4 little kids in our home, we felt that adoption was always supposed to be a part of our family’s story and felt that it was a desire that God had placed in our hearts.

We had been prepared for the fact that the little boy we were adopting might be a little older than what we had originally been told, perhaps 6-9 months, however, when we met him in Congo he was clearly at least 6 ½ and was a very angry, emotionally fraught child, quite prone to physically aggressive outbursts. Continue reading

When God’s Good Work Doesn’t Seem Good

Tuesday morning at 2:11 a.m. our friends’ baby took one last breath and slipped into the hands of Jesus.  Gentle, healing hands much bigger than ours.

Her parents have known for six months as she fought to grow in her mama’s tummy, that short of a miracle, her breaths would be few, if at all.

Every time the doctors asked if they wanted to abort, they gently said “No”, grateful when the question stopped coming.  They are strong.  They cling to Jesus.

With a good idea of what was ahead, they read with faith and heartache, “I knit you together in your mother’s womb.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  But she was. Continue reading

When You Feel Like You’re Losing Yourself

“We are all so ruined, so loved, and in charge of so little.” Anne Lamott

Our daughter Maggie is getting married in 46 days.

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When she got engaged in November many people asked with concern in their voices “How are you doing?”

“Great!” I responded.  “Austin (her fiancé) is terrific and I’m excited for them!”

And then, last week, driving down highway 100 at 4:00 in the afternoon, thinking of the possibility that Maggie and Austin may move to California (you know, like, at the opposite end of the world, and a continent away from daughter Katy), I found myself sobbing and thinking “I’m NOT ok!  I’m losing my baby!  I’m losing my family!  I’m losing my identity! I hate change!”

I. Am. Out. Of. Control.

Yes, I was a tad over-dramatic, but give me my moment.

Everything feels like it’s slipping, slipping, slipping out of my hands, out of my control, like the gooey “gak” I used to make with the kids when they were little.

Change.  Loss.  New beginnings.

I’m not the only one.  I have young friends who are graduating, some going back to school, and others who are moving, some taking big new risks.  My sister-in-law after much prayer, just resigned from a job she’s loved for years.

Continue reading

What do you do with Easter after Easter?

My cousin died last week.  And a friend was deeply wounded by something a loved one said to her.  And another friend continues to pray for healing from a painful illness.  And another is deeply discouraged.  I imagine each of you could add something to the list.

And last week, after Easter, I was reading in John 20 when Mary comes and finds the tomb empty.  It was my “scheduled” devotional reading, and I’m a rule-follower, so I was obedient, and read it, but inside I was thinking…”Easter is OVER!  Been there, celebrated that.  Let’s move on.” (I’m not proud, just being honest).

I felt like those people who leave their Christmas wreath up til May.  Easter didn’t feel relevant after Easter, which I know is soooo wrong, but like at the tomb, God was gracious and showed up

I was clonked on the head like one of the Three Stooges as I entered into this passage as Mary.  Yes, Mary Magdalene, the one who Jesus miraculously cast all the demons out of, but at the same time, someone like all of us, any of us, who are ever in pain, lost, confused...

She’s so wrapped up in her own despair she doesn’t recognize Jesus.  And He’s RIGHT THERE! With her.  But at first her grief is larger than her God.  It’s all she can see.

“I will never leave or forsake you.”

And Jesus asks her “Why are you crying?

I imagine a gentle tone and understanding in His eyes.  And I think, “What would Mary have answered?”

“I’m wrecked.  I’m disillusioned.  I’m lonely.  I’m afraid.  I don’t know what to do.”?

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those crushed in spirit.”

And then Jesus says her name.  “Mary.”  And I imagine it like a parent would softly say the name of a distraught toddler as they tried to soothe away their tears.

In that one word it seems Jesus is telling Mary, and us, so many things.

I’m here.  And it will be ok because I’m here.  I see you.  I understand your pain.  I hurt with you. Just a few days ago I was the one saying “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  So I get it.  Really.

“Do not fear for I have redeemed you.  I have summoned you by name.  You are mine.”

So for Joyce and Katie and Sue and Nikki, and so many others I pray that you might sense Jesus turning to you and asking “Why are you crying?”  That you might sense Him truly enter into your pain and gently say your name.

Sometimes I guess I just need to be reminded that Easter isn’t just about Easter.  It’s about all those days after Easter when we cry or feel desperate or disappointed or alone and it seems like Jesus has left the building.  But He hasn’t.  So maybe I’ll leave the Easter decorations up another week.