Advent: When Will Enough Be Enough? (Luke 11:29-32; Psalm 90; Isaiah 1:24-31)

I woke up this morning wishing for a magic pill of some sort. I do this from time to time when I’m tired of getting out of bed.  When varying degrees of chronic pain and fatigue cloud up a seemingly good morning, I want something that solves it ALL right now, once and for all.  I’ve thought the same thing for some of the stuff Jax goes through.  Why won’t God just make a way to make it right so we can move on with our lives?  

In Luke 11, Jesus seems exasperated while speaking with the crowds, realizing the seeming denseness of the people who surrounded Him.  He fed five thousand “plus” people with a few fish and a little bread (Luke 9:10ff) for goodness’ sake.  He raised a little girl back to life and healed a woman, all while walking down the street. What more do they need to see and hear to believe? 

Jesus taught them how to ask for what they need (Luke 11:1-13) and cast out demons (Luke 11:14ff) right there in front of them.  Not once.  Not just one. But again and again.  And these people, they’d been there, seen it all.  It was a magnificent display of God Being With Them and yet… here they are, once again, asking for yet another sign.  

When will enough be enough?

Jesus uses the story of Jonah to let them know they’ve SEEN what they need to see to believe.  What He wants them to do is realize what they have… God With Them walking the streets, teaching, healing, being present in their daily lives, even if their daily lives aren’t perfect. 

Jonah didn’t have to perform any signs for the People of Nineveh to have a change of heart.  He just had to show up in their city.  And here’s Jesus, someone Greater than Jonah (or anyone!) giving them all sorts of magnificent signs and miracles and still , it wasn’t enough for them to believe He was who He said He was? 

When will enough be enough? 

Funny that this passage popped up on a day I was wishing for #themagicpill.  (Not funny haha, but funny coincidence if I believed in coincidence)  Because it’s not every day I have trouble believing that God Is With Us in the hard and the good.  Most days, He strengthens me to carry out my responsibilities as wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, pastor in ways I can’t even wrap my head around.  Some days I lay my head on my pillow and am so thankful that God almost literally held me upright, got me through.  And most days, as I ask Him to wrap Himself around my kiddos, that they’ll have peace and joy in their day, not anxiety and stress and frustration.  And many days He does just that, and I marvel that He has blessed them with His Presence even in the ordinary day to day of right now.  And when they are anxious or frustrated, God shows up in the middle of it all, and helps me and them navigate through. 

When will enough be enough? 

No, so far, in spite of desperate prayers, God hasn’t provided the magic pill to solve all our problems.  But He does show up, God With Us, in each and every moment, even when our lives feel desperate, maybe like that young couple walking around Bethlehem, seeking a place to rest and give birth.  

God showed up in this world as a baby when He didn’t have to.  But what a sign to us that God (INDEED!) wanted to be with us in our day to day.  What a way for God to show us that He’s Here, and He’s with us even when there’s tough things, even in the waiting and wondering, even when we’re tired of getting out of bed. 

We don’t need another sign.  We have a God Who Is With Us. 

Advertisements

Revisiting Infertility… Finding Joy

I found myself sitting there, smiling , trying to hold back the old sobby, mixed up “happy for you, but sad for me” tears as I watched someone I’ve loved since the day I met her announce her pregnancy.  I love this moment for her, her hubby, for all of us.  Her announcement means new life in our family… a miracle, as every conceiving of new life is, and a new generation to bless all of us, an answer to prayer that there would be no struggle for this special one to realize her dream of pregnancy.

I sit there quietly holding my breath with a smile on my face, because yes, I am genuinely happy about this announcement while the room explodes in laughter and cheers. But I also want to just sink back in the woodwork, fade away so no one sees the tears ready to overflow down my cheeks.  Breathing in and out, staying silent, just smiling in the background I watch the happiness all around me, happiness I feel too, all mixed up with what’s inside ~ those dormant feelings I’ve worked so hard to manage, to deal with, to let go of… of grief that always gets pricked in this particular kind of moment.

I thought you were over this, Hope, plays in my mind.  Get yourself together. I thought this #infertility thing was behind you, or at least you’re walking with it and engaging life the best way you know how, all the while carrying this you don’t want to still exist, this scar that’s hidden.  You’re nearly 50 for goodness sake, how can this wound that has built your capacity to be compassionate, resilient and hopeful still prick your heart this way?  How is this even possible that once again, emotions pop up, feel out of my control, there they are, surfacing, not letting me forget that it’s still there, it’s still a part of me?

Infertility is like that, I guess.  I’ve spent the last few months running over all those feelings, feeling them and then once again, trusting God to help me let go to let true joy shine through.

I didn’t want to write about this because it seems oh so pitiful.  I have two great kids that call me Mom.  The privilege of that isn’t lost on me.  It is my calling to raise them, miracles that they are, to be a man and a woman who are all they were created to be.

But as I speak about in this post of long ago,  there’s  whole lot of loss attached to not ever bearing a child, much of which I don’t deal with anymore on a daily basis, and for that I am thankful.  A big part of that loss is wrapped up in this quote from that long ago post…

And the hardest part for me, harder than all of it, is the sheer loss I feel from not being able, even for a moment, know what it feels like to be a part of God’s plan for the world, to bring a child here, a child he decided needed to be created for a special purpose, that He decided would be my child to raise. That’s part of what I believe I was created to be. And I don’t get to be that. Ever. Never.

I never ever ever want my grief and loss to dampen another’s joy.  Ever.  In fact, there is joy for my in seeing that life goes on… watching my children bloom into young people, seeing my beloved nieces and nephews find love and start their families.  I’m already a Great-Auntie three times over, with two more coming this year!  This brings such joy, seeing God work in the lives of these people I love, to see beautiful babies come into this world, to make our lives more full, of all sorts of things, but really… of joy.

As I’ve worked through these feelings, I’ve realized another truth about how wonderfully and fearfully we are made.  Since life has moved forward from the days of trying for pregnancy and infant loss to be filled with the joys (and hardships) of raising two kids in their tweens/teens, I have to admit and accept that my heart still gets pricked from time to time.  It’s like my body knows even if my mind doesn’t dwell on these things every day now.

This Dear One’s announcement, you see, the timing, the due date and all that comes with it, parallels the pregnancy 16 years ago that was my Jamie-Noel.  I didn’t mean to cry.  Wasn’t even really thinking about it, or remembering.  Until the announcement, and a flood of memories, of how Hubs and I planned out how we would tell our parents and the rest of our family, at the same time of year, an experience we never got to do as Jamie-Noel was gone to us just a few days before.  And so much more, as you can imagine, and my body that’s carried around this thing that will not be cast aside, that has changed me, some for the better I hope, remembered too, and thus, tears.

And I have to be okay with that.  Grief is a powerful thing.  It can take us over, we can’t escape, we must walk with, walk through, embrace, no shoving down to dark places because the remnants of unexpressed grief will overpower and risk the joy possible when we live through, when we let the tears fall, when we say let grief and joy live together.

I’m 50.  I had to let go of the HOPE of pregnancy and giving birth awhile back  I had to for our future’s sake.  It doesn’t mean I don’t still dream (and I mean literally have dreams) of more children, though I’m pretty sure our family of four is enough joy and adventure for us.

So there it is, the JOY.  I am anticipating this new arrival, and the continued growing of my Great Aunthood, and embracing it, thankful…joyful.  And remembering I don’t have to cower in a corner when grief hits because joy can live there too.

Come, Little One.  This world needs more JOY.

Happy Sweet 16, Jamie-Noel

It’s hard to believe if you were here, we’d be doing things like getting you ready for your driver’s test, planning a huge birthday party, preparing for grade 11.  I imagine you’d be working at camp over the summer and we’d miss you terribly, maybe even miss your birthday-day but celebrate with you when you came home to do laundry and sleep til it was time to go back for another week.  We can only imagine you playing the piano, or not, maybe you’d have your Dad’s love of gardening, and write, write, write like some days like your Mom feels like she has to, just to get it all out.  You’d probably be binge-watching something on Netfl!x and texting your friends.  I wonder if you’d be dating or if you’d be like your Mom and Dad were way back when, lots of friends, no one special.

We know that life with you would have been amazing and wonderful, but God had other plans.  He chose heaven for you before we ever met, and still, each year as we hang your special ornaments, we remember that He’s got you even though we don’t.

And you know what?  Mom and Dad are okay.  Great really.  God brought two extraordinary people into our lives in ways that, when we tell the stories, we can hardly believe how it happened ourselves.  And although we miss you still, and sometimes still work through stuff related to you not being here, we also know that we are stronger, wiser, more compassionate and resilient for having known you, and lost you, and received the precious gifts of two more children to know and love and care for as long as God gives us that privilege.

And it’s even so much more.  The people ~ families ~ that come with these children, not born of us, but still your sister and brother, well, they are extraordinary too.  As much as we long for you still, we know that our world has expanded exponentially because we were asked to step out of the comfort of what we knew to experience the world in other ways.  That’s what adoption, and knowing our kids’ other families have brought to us, so much that we never knew we needed to know, to be all we were created to be.

So Dear Sweet Child, we look forward to the day we get to see your face for the first time when you welcome us to heaven, hopefully still a little while from now.

But for now, Happy Sweet Sixteen, Our Jamie-Noel.

God is good.

I See You: Reflecting on #MothersDay

Writer’s Note: This entry was first written in Spring 2007, It seems like a lifetime again, and yet, I read it through and know that even though I still have my Mother with me on earth, even though I love being my kids’ mother, I feel keenly the losses I’ve suffered, and I pray each day that what I’ve faced will always, always soften my heart for those who I know face the hard things too. I know I’m blessed but I think I would fail in making the most of my life experiences if I didn’t do the work of acknowledging the losses that many women feel in light of all the emphasis on mothering and Mother’s Day every year.
For some, even for me, even as I am privileged to be a Mother, it is a re-opening of a wound I/they work hard to heal, and I’ve come to realize, again through personal experience, and in knowing many women of character who have endured so much, that a huge part of getting through the heartache is for someone to say “I see you”.
And so that is what this is…

 “I see you”. 

I think the celebration of #Mothers is a wonderful necessity in our lives these days. I think a lot of mothers and their influence on their children and therefore on the world has been minimized to a desperate degree. With all the push in the culture towards a woman’s self-satisfaction in her career has overshadowed the immediate role of a person who is a Mother in the life of the child they parent. So celebrating Mothers is good, very good.  And I am blessed to know many exceptional mothers who give all for their children.  And I celebrate these women. 

But what about those who for whatever reason find this day painful, heartbreaking? 

I know women who avoid church like the plague on Mother’s Day Sunday because they know all it will do is highlight the fact that they’ve lost… whether it be a child due to premature death, stillbirth, miscarriage, or a child through adoption… or the dream of a child at all because of infertility or the single life. Or through custody disputes in divorce.

 And yes, children who’ve lost Mothers through any of these avenues as well. We celebrate Mothers, but I think we do a big injustice to other mothers (or people who long to be mothers) by only celebrating, and not taking a moment just to acknowledge that there is pain for many.

Through years of ministry and just plain life, I have met woman upon woman for whom this day is hard, and you would never know it.  They are women who are obviously parenting, but carried lost children in their hearts, and long for the day they will be reunited with their little ones born to heaven or living in another family.  No one would ever know their hearts are heavy by their appearance.  I know women who have lost many children before they were blessed to parent on earth, and they remember them.  I know women who have placed  children in another family, and miss their kids every…single…day.  I know women for whom childlessness is overwhelming, and they long for things to be different.  

For them and so many more living with disappointment and loss in their parenting life, Mother’s Day makes it all the more harder, just one more milestone they have to mark in their loss.  I have known women who struggle because mothering the children they love and are blessed to parent is not what they expected, often because their child has challenges that keep them from being able to express love in return.  For these, and so many more with very unique circumstances, this day is hard.  I see you.

 This definitely gets very personal too.  Our journey to our family includes having to “live through” the pain of infertility and pregnancy loss in front of everyone, and how we needed someone to stop and say “I see you, and you know, you can have a break on this day instead of preaching, leading…we understand you may be hurting”. No one ever did that. I don’t blame them because looking back, how could they know? 

But still, I don’t want that to happen to others now that I know how it feels. We were fortunate during that time to be surrounded by some amazing teens from our youth group, who seemed to be sensitive beyond their years to our pain, who most definitely said, “I see you”  and who celebrated us as people of influence in their lives. But not everyone has that.

 I know that in any given faith gathering this Mother’s Day, regardless of how large or small, there will be AT LEAST one (but most likely more, many, many more) women who have lost a child and no one knows about it. First mothers through adoption. Childless mothers through infertility. Single women who long for the chance to be a mother. Others who’ve lost babes through pregnancy loss. Or stillbirth. Or abortion. Or cancer. Or an accident. Or divorce.  I see you.

 Older women who have outlived their children.  Or live with regret over the breaks in relationship.  I see you.

 Children who have lost their Mothers. Through death. Through adoption. Through divorce. Against their will. Are we ready to remember them, to acknowledge that they might, most probably do, have pain on this day??? We never know who might be hurting even though on the outside, you can’t see it.  But I see you.

 So please celebrate, but as you do, remember the hurting mothers.  See them.  And say a prayer of of blessing and peace for them. 

Living With It: Reader Beware, This One’s Real Whiny

Every day I want to wake up feeling stronger. I do. I really do. I’m eating well. Walking some. Trying to get regular rest. And then, I still wake up with days like yesterday and today and realize that it’s real.

I can’t fool myself into believing that the chronic pain and stress and depression I’ve experienced for years now hasn’t affected my physical self at all. And I can’t deny that the chronic pain and fatigue that my doctor and psychologist says is real, a realness I’ve been so far unwilling to accept, is actually, well, real.

Acceptance is hard when there’s all sorts of symptoms but the diagnosis seems arbitrary. There’s no blood test, or scan, anything to say “this is not normal”. To me, fibromyalgia, or myalgic encephalomyelitis, seems arbitrary. It seems to me the diagnosis you get when you have this cluster of symptoms and the docs can’t diagnose anything else. It’s like colic in babies. A catch all when there’s no other reason. And that’s hard to accept, that there isn’t something that can be done to make me feel like my old self from 11 years ago. I’ve had chronic pain since my early teenage years, but it never, ever affected my ability to live life how I’d like to.  Until now.

Acceptance is also hard when you don’t look sick.  Joints and skin can be on fire so much that a hug hurts. The fatigue and fog can cover me like a weights in a cloud, yet I can walk into a room and no one knows. I can often do what I have to do, what I’m “supposed to do”, unless I decide I’m sick enough that I just have to rest. No one says “you look like you should be resting” and as someone who struggles with caring about what others think, well, you do the math. Since I don’t look it, I have to be the one to say “I don’t feel well” and that’s hard too. Wow, I have to actually be authentic and transparent about what’s going on inside me.  I don’t like that very much sometimes, especially when I’m supposed to be the one whose there to listen and care when others are hurting.  And I don’t want to be a complainer. I want to be the go getter, get it all done self I know I can be, solve the problem, do it, move on. This roller coaster of livingwithit does NOT jive with my personality or lifestyle.

But I’m learning that I’m going to have to eventually accept this and make permanent life changes instead of always pushing through to doing more than I should and then paying the price. But I really don’t want to. But I have to figure out how to make the roller coaster less.  Somehow.

It’s hard, but why? Because if I accept this as my fate I’ll have to accept the fact I’m living with this and I can’t have it all. I’ll have to authentic about it and risk not being the person I have always hoped I could be, would be.  Strong… I don’t want to be weak.  Ready for whatever… I don’t want to have to say no to things. Coool.  Always in control.

But I’m not those things and today’s one of those days I’m none of those things. I’m in pain for who knows why, wearywhelmed as I like to call it because sleep doesn’t solve it and I have lots I want to do, I need to do to be the mom, wife, pastor, friend I want to be. But I hurt so I have to admit that it probably won’t get done today. There will be people I won’t talk to today. There will be chores that won’t get marked off the list today. Or maybe it will, after my nap.

This feels like a raw, whiny post but I’m posting it anyway. I promised myself that on this trip to wellness I will be brutally honest about living with it.

My goal in writing this is to tell it like it is in ways I can’t when I have to be the mom because my kids need their mom, when I have to be the wife, because I want to be a good wife, when I get to be a pastor for people who I’ve been called to be in community with.

And that hope stuff from yesterday?  Don’t worry.  It’s still there.  But this is real. I’m living with it. Someday maybe I’ll fully accept it, understand why.  But for today, hey, I’m living with it.

I have made you and I will carry you.  I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isaiah 46:4

Sometimes You’re the Bug.

images (4)Yesterday was an amazing day with visits and coffee with friends, a sunny afternoon with pups in the backyard, supper with my family, presents both thoughtfully selected and creatively homemade.  I am one blessed woman.  I loved turning another year older.

Today I got kids off to school, put a load of laundry in, got chicken in the crock pot and realized I couldn’t do it.  I postponed two appointments with important people and crawled under a blanket and took a nap. I was that smooshed bug on the windshield of life who, even though her heart wanted to, her body and mind said ‘nope’.

I’ve become a very firm believer that to every bad side there’s a good, and of course, vice versa.  For most everything in life there’s two sides… the bitter and the sweet.  I’ve wrestled with this for ages ~ and at my age I can actually say that and sound sorta like I have ~ because so many times we want purejoy experiences.  We want it to be all about the good feels and nothing to do with the way too often rotten side of living in a world that’s not only less than perfect, but undeniably fallen from the way the world was intended by our Creator.

Purejoy comes in moments that we have to catch between all the bittersweet.  One of my favorite people from way back when named Paul wrote this to a bunch of people in Rome who struggled with their circumstances in light of the world that they lived..

And we know  that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

He was basically saying, “C’mon peeps, you know this. Our reality changes because God’s in it with us.  Look for the Purejoy moments because you know that you know that God doesn’t do you that way.”

So what does that have to do with having excellent and crawl-under-a-blanket days?  Well… for me, it’s learning to accept that God is in them both. That one is not afflicted on me because God’s forgotten how hard I work for Him and my family,  and the other is just the other.

Nope.  I have to believe that God plants purejoy even in the crawl-under-a-blanket days.  I don’t have to like it, but I must recognize that if I believe God’s under the blanket with me, then the joy I feel when all is right in the world is still there when it’s dark and tunnelish. And we’re worn and can’t enjoy the sunny day.

And the key may be finding out what He is purposing in my life by inserting the crawl-under-a-blanket days into the middle of what I think I want for myself.  Part of it is figuring out how He’s working it together on the days I’m the bug.

Peace y’all.

Treasures in the Dark

I might just this time, hit “post” on this entry.  It’s been brewing, and written and re-written since somewhere before the end of January.  I haven’t wanted to publish it, mostly because if I did hit publish, I would have to mean what I say.  And I wasn’t sure if I meant it or not.  Til now.  After some recent events in our life, both in seeking out new ministry opportunities and a tragedy in one of our children’s first families, I have felt this strange and growing awareness that indeed, ‘everything means something’.  Sometimes we can’t fathom what that something is in that moment, and now, almost six week since my initial epiphany about this, I honestly still don’t know.

But…

stuff is happening, most notably a change in my spirit, the heaviness lifting as day after day I look forward more and more with a sense of the old optimism, even though it feels as if we have by no stretch of the imagination been living from crisis to change to crisis.  And still…the lightheartedness remains, even in the middle of it.  Stuff like what has happened these last two months even a year ago could have really set me back in my ability to cope.  I’m not sure what it is, except I’m trusting it is God, and the power He has to make all things new.

And to help us all find “treasures in the dark”.

So onto the post…

Let me set the stage for you of that dark afternoon in January.  I’m less than three weeks post-op from my hysterectomy, really feeling the weariness of constant pain and healing.  I’m struggling. I’m tired. I’m sad.
My shoulders felt like I’m carrying a backpack full of stuff of which I can’t define, but cannot throw off. My head won’t stop thinking even though my body needs to rest, but rest does not come.

I’m torn…torn about what to do  with all this. And even more, what to do with all the hope and determination I have put into my dream of having my family.  My family is here. We’re this miraculous family of strangers.  Against the odds, here we are, a family.  Dreams do come true.  They do.  Hope has gotten me there. I should be able to embrace that and let the rest go.

And then I face these moments, where all the distractions in the world don’t cover up the not-knowing of what I do with all that has happened.  Surely, no…surely, the struggle, the pain, the loss, the twistiness, the crying out, the pushing through, the learning … surely it means something.  It has to doesn’t it?

The room is dark, curtains drawn against the twilight sky outside.  I can hear my kids playing out in the living room, my mom making supper, the TV on.  I lay there in the dark, listening to a book on CD from one of my favorite series of books  by Jan Karon. (if you’ve never read her Mitford books, you are missing out… they are like soul retreat for me).

One of the central stories from A Light in the Window (the second book in the series) surrounds the attempt by Edith Mallory (picture Cruella Deville), the small town villainous, to close down the Main Street Grill, in business for over 30 years,  in order for her to put in a clothing store.  The Grill  is a local gathering place and for Father Time (the main character), it is a place of friendship and solace, especially during his fifteen years there as the Anglican priest living single in a small town.  And as happens over and over in the books, Father Tim is called on to try to solve the problem between the Grill  owner and his landlord.  And in the end, it seems that the evil landlord is going to win regardles of their efforts.  It doesn’t make sense, but there is no way around it, and to everyone involved, it seems a waste that after so many years, such a central part of main street would be gone.

It’s finally moving day.  Everyone is there to help out their friends, both in the physical move and with moral support.  Father Tim finds Percy, the grill owner, down the hatch packing and they take a break.  And the following conversation happens as they try to make sense of this big change in Percy’s life… (taken from A Light in the Window by Jan Karon, (c) 1995 Penguin books, page 322-323)

“You can do it”, says Father Tim.

“How come I have to – that the question. Where’s th’ Lord when you need ‘im is what I’d like to know.”

The hot coffee cup warmed his (Father Tim’s) cold hands. “Right here”, said Father Tim, “with us, believe it or not.”

“You’re a preacher.  That’s easy for you to say.”

“Not really.  I have time of doubt.  I stumble around…”

“All that schoolin’ you had makes a difference.”

“Schooling doesn’t count for much in the end.  What counts is our personal relationship with God.  Period.  Bottom line.”

“I prayed about this.”

“You’ll get an answer.”

“This ain’t any kind of answer.”

“I have to tell you that he always answers. And he always shoots straight.”

“Well, he’s done shot and missed, if you ask me.”

The rector looked around at the dark dismal basement.  “Somebody said the brightest diamonds grow in the darkest cavities of the earth…”

“Meanin’?”

“In Isaiah, God said, ‘I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord…’ Times of darkness can be some of the best times.”

I stopped listening to the story at that point, as tears flowed.  It seemed to me in that moment in the darkness, both in my darkened, quiet bedroom and in my sad, tired heart, there it was…

There it was, the possibility that maybe in the darkness that has been a part of this whole journey, there are riches stored somewhere in the middle of it.  It’s for me to dig out the diamonds, and then to trust God that I’ll know what to do with the gems ~ of what I have learned, how I have allowed God to change my heart and perspective, the friendships, relationships from which I have benefitted for being on this journey… all of it…

Was it treasure?  Even the dark stuff in the bottom parts of my heart?  Was God storing up riches in places I could not yet see?  Was the next leg of this journey all about digging those treasures out, dusting them off, and sharing them with others so that they (AND I) could see that God is God and He is Good, and everything means something, and it’s alright.  

I lay there for several minutes in the dark and quiet as the CD shut off.  Tears dried up.  And I knew that somehow that with the closure of the actual experiencing this journey through infertility, and loss, and all that it has brought to my life, both wonderful and hard, maybe the next step of the journey was in the search for…

Treasure in the dark.

Am I up to that task?  Do I really want to do this, to share more of this journey, to actually find what others might glean and speak to it in order to make a difference?  This all can’t just be about the heartache of it.  And I know for certain it is not about God, the Villain, trying to do an evil thing in my life.

So maybe it’s my time to make the best of times out of the darkness.  I hope so.  I hope I’m up to the task of getting on with it, of plowing through whatever grief is left and settling into reconciliation with it all, and then finding a way to share the hope that I find.  I hope I’m up to it.  I trust that I am, with the help of God.

Isaiah 45 says:
This is what the LORD says:
“I will go before you, Cyrus, and level the mountains.
I will smash down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron.
And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness— secret riches.
I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD,
the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.
“And why have I called you for this work?
Why did I call you by name when you did not know me?
It is for the sake of Jacob my servant, Israel my chosen one.
I am the LORD; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me,
so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God.
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I create the light and make the darkness.
I send good times and bad times.
I, the LORD, am the one who does these things.
Open up, O heavens, and pour out your righteousness.
Let the earth open wide so salvation and righteousness can sprout up together.
I, the LORD, created them.
“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator.
Does a clay pot argue with its maker?
Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’
Does the pot exclaim,’How clumsy can you be?’
How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father, ‘Why was I born?’
or if it said to its mother, ‘Why did you make me this way?'”
This is what the LORD says—the Holy One of Israel and your Creator:
“Do you question what I do for my children?
Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?
I am the one who made the earth and created people to live on it.
With my hands I stretched out the heavens. All the stars are at my command.
I will raise up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will guide his actions.
He will restore my city and free my captive people—without seeking a reward!
I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, have spoken!”

There is so much more to unpack from this passage, things I have discovered in the days since this moment in the darkness where I felt God revealing his new purpose (as vague as it is for now) for me.  And I hope I’ll get the chance to do a bit more of that as time allows in the days to come.

But for now, I DO hit post, and begin again on this journey to find… treasures in the dark.