The Bravest Women I Know

Recently I’ve come across the writing of Glennon Doyle Melton.  Both in her book, “Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed” and her blog she talks about how life can be both brutal and beautiful, ‘brutiful’, and often at the exact same time.  Author Ann Voskamp calls these same moments the Ugly-Beautiful in her writing.  Those moments when pain, suffering, fear, grief and sometimes death hold hands with precious, beautiful, amazing and holy.

And in those brutiful, ugly-beautiful moments we have a choice.  We can embrace them and move through them open to all that God may want to do and say in them and through them.  OR we can suit up with our own version of self-protective armor and move through them on our own terms, closed to any outcome other than the one we want.

Last week I was privileged to witness one of those moments in our family.  With very little warning, but a whole lot of drama, tears, and heartache my oldest daughter had to make the decision to have her beloved dog of almost 10 years, Oreo, put to sleep.

For twelve excruciating, sleepless hours she stayed by his side as he suffered through uncontrollable seizures and difficulty breathing.  She whispered sweet words of love and affirmation as she continually pet him in an effort to keep him calm.  She bore witness to his struggle.  She didn’t turn away.  She didn’t ask for anyone else to do it for her.  She walked through every single ‘brutiful’ moment with Oreo

When the sun rose the next morning she knew that she didn’t want him to suffer like that anymore.  Liv Loo, Sophalopes, and I, made the painful trip to the vet’s office.

An hour later, after Oreo’s condition had deteriorated further and arrangements had been made, the vet let the girls know they didn’t have to stay if this was too hard.  But they couldn’t leave him.  As long as he was still breathing they were staying with him.

And so they sobbed uncontrollably, whispered love in his ears, pet him and looked him straight in the eye as the life left his tiny frame.  They bore witness to his suffering and to his passing.  And I bore witness to their love, their bravery, and their refusal to surrender to their own heartache.  As his heart stopped beating their hearts split wide open.

It’s a very difficult, gut-wrenching thing to watch a living thing, human or animal, give up its life.  But they never looked away, they were generous with their love and their presence.  They moved through each moment as it came and embraced it as profoundly necessary and holy.

Love stared death in the face and didn’t flinch.  Brutal and beautiful met, grabbed hands and wrestled.  And it was one of the most sacred moments I’ve ever witnessed.

Our little Make Stuff Girl truly is made of tougher stuff than I knew.  And the Everything is Possible Girl who confidently moves through life unshaken by those things that make her different, well she’s my hero, too.

They are the bravest women I know and once again I am humbled and honored to be their Momma.

How I Know

This morning (at this writing) we woke up to 8 degree temperatures here in North Carolina.  Just a few days before Christmas I rode around town with my sunroof open, enjoying the breeze.   The forecast for this weekend includes temperatures in the 60’s and a week from now there is the possibility for a Wintry Mix.  I think our state motto should be changed to “The Schizophrenic Weather State” or “The Multiple Seasons a Week State.”

Schools were delayed two hours due to extreme cold so we took full advantage and slept in. You need all the rest you can get to work hard at staying warm.  A few minutes before I headed out to warm up the car Sophalopes started looking for gloves.  After several minutes of searching the dark recesses of our closets all we could come up with was one white glove and one brown one.  I had no idea I am the only female in the house with a matching pair of gloves.

Soph suggested that we stop at the grocery store on the way to school and see if they had any.  I thought it was an odd place to shop for gloves, but she thought she remembered seeing some.  So off we went. (Just a quick shout out for the Most Awesome Husband Ever who bought me a car with heated seats!  This “tushy-less” wife was very happy this morning!)  After a quick 30 seconds in the store she came out empty-handed and got back in the car.

I looked down at my leather-clad hands and as a Mom I knew it was one of those moments when you make the ultimate sacrifice for your child.  With a tear in my eye and a quivering voice I quietly offered up The Best Leather Gloves in the History of Leather Gloves to save my child’s precious hands.  I just knew generations from now people would be talking about this Momma Moment and how brave I had been.  Especially if she follows through on her plans to become an orthopedic surgeon.  I could be THAT Mom one day!

I really expected a huge smile as she lovingly took my offering and a gave a heartfelt, “Thank you.”  Instead, she shrugged her shoulders and said, “These will be fine.”  These.  These.  “These” are the one white glove and the one brown glove.  The mismatched pair of gloves was fine with her.  I silently wondered how on earth this profoundly self-assured, confident young lady could possibly the daughter of such a mess as me.  Keep in mind she is the one who really tried to talk me into buying the yellow tube top dress back in the summer.

When we pulled up at the curb at school I watched in amazement as she gathered her things and got out of the car like nothing was amiss.  I looked her in the eye one last time as I tried to hand her my matching leather gloves and said, “Are you sure?”  And she just rolled her eyes and said, “Mom” in that tone of voice that reminds me she is closer to adulthood than I am sometimes.  She closed the car door like she does every day and walked into school like everything was right in her universe…with her mismatched gloves.

And everything is right in her universe because she knows she is not defined by her gloves…matching or otherwise.

Unfortunately, 31 years ago if I had been in her shoes (or in her gloves), I wouldn’t have worn any gloves in 8 degree weather if they didn’t match.  I would have been HORRIFIED.  To stand out in any way was a completely paralyzing thought to me.

So this morning, when I watched her walk into school that’s when I knew that I knew in the depths of my soul just how big my God is.  And how small I am.  While I have written this wrapped in humor and a bit of self-deprecation, please know that my bottom line is deep and profound:  God is so much bigger than me, my mess(es), my mistakes or my ability to screw things up.

Amen.

Mark 10:27 (ESV) ~ “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.'”

Important Update:  Just so no one thinks Sophalopes is completely devoid of any fashion sense…when she got home that afternoon she did ask that we go shopping for matching gloves (and scarf, and head band).  She is now all set for the 60 degree weather coming this weekend!

Well, It’s A Little Bit About Us

In my last post, It’s All About Him, I talked about how abundant living is believing and trusting God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.  And I also said, “…even though God includes us in the story and invites us to partner with Him in the story, IT’S NOT ABOUT US and the outcome does NOT depend on us.  It all depends on God, His infinite Love, amazing grace, and His Sovereign plan.”

I wanted to follow up on this a little bit because while all of that is true, I don’t want to create a sense of God being distant.

Have you ever asked yourself, “What’s the upside for God?”  Well I have.  My close friends know that for the last couple of years I have said this many, many times.  And while most of the time I was being sarcastic and funny (I know, you are shocked) I truly wanted an answer.  I truly wanted to find the purpose in all of this for God.

Back to my question…do you get my point?  I mean really, from the very beginning, Genesis chapter 3, our story is one of disobeying and rejecting God.  Even in a perfect world, the Garden of Eden, we rejected Him and His plan.

This is our story, Love reaches out to us and we reject Love.  So what does He get out of all of this?

If you back up further, I think there’s a question that comes before, “What’s the upside for God?”  I think the first question is, if God is Omniscient (and He is), “Why did He set all this in motion in the first place?”

I think Jesus told us the answer when He met Nicodemus…God so loved.  The God who is Love, the Triune God, who lived in perfect community with Himself (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit) loved so much that He wanted to express that love and multiply it.  Love created us to love us and for us to be so loved that we would multiply that love in all the earth.

Love creates, Love expresses, Love needs an object.

We were created to be loved by Love Himself and to express that love.  And that is how it becomes about us.  We are the creation and object of His love.

But He knew we would reject Him.  He knew we would reject Love instead of receiving it and living it.

So again, why?  Because He is Love regardless of what we do, whether we love Him in return or not.  He continues to be Love and to Love.  He is the definition of unconditional Love.

As believers in Jesus Christ, reigning in life is allowing the Love of God in us, that Love that created us, saves us and transforms us from the inside out, to reach out to others.  It’s exactly what God said to Adam and Eve, “Be fruitful and multiply.”  It’s the same thing Jesus said to His disciples, us, “Go make disciples.”  Jesus also said, “Love one another as I have loved you.”

How did Jesus love us?  Unconditionally, fully and completely.  He gave all of Himself for us, knowing not all of us would receive it.  Knowing in fact that many would reject His expression of love and refuse to be the object of His love.

For those of us who receive Him reigning is receiving Love and then in turn loving.  It’s allowing Love, Jesus in us, to create through us, that same Love in us to express itself, and that same unconditional Love in us to love others, the objects of His love, even if they reject Love.

And that, I believe, is how it’s about us.