Friday, December 28, 2007

Colorado Mountains and a Couch with No View

Where does God meet us?

We headed to the Colorado Front Range in hopes of finding a respite from our grief and to meet our God in the beautiful majestic surroundings. We were familiar with this kind of retreat. We had many such retreats when living in Denver - but that was before kids. Our first 2 days of this "vacation" were filled with frustration and arguments. Here we were at the foot of the Rockies, with 2 toddlers who cared more about playgrounds and Dora videos than taking in the vistas from high mountain roads. Where was my respite - my life had followed me into the mountains and, in my opinion, was interrupting my opportunity to meet with the Lord and be healed.

But on day 3 - I abandoned my vacation ambitions and returned to my normal routine: spending time journaling, reading and praying during the girls afternoon nap time. I sat on the couch of our hotel room, drapes drawn shut to keep out the bright sun allowing the girls to rest. Here I was, sitting on a hard couch with no view, and here the Lord met me. These 2 hours were the richest I have known since Lia's passing. I was not on a mountain top, I couldn't even see a mountain. The Lord did not meet me on the mountain top - instead He came to me in my place - quietly enjoying the solitude of afternoon naptime.

The Lord is merciful! He does not demand that we attend a retreat at a beautiful resort to meet Him. Instead, He comes to us. He has been doing this all along. When Jesus came to earth, he did not convene a conference on spiritual and physical healing at a resort on the Mediteranean coast. Instead, He walked among the people, meeting them in their towns, in their homes, at their jobs. God in His mercy allows us to experience Him exactly where we are.

God does sometimes draw us to the mountain tops to meet Him. He went to Moses in the desert of Midian and then later called Moses to the top of Mount Sinai. There are times in life when God does need us to rise above our roles and places and calls us to meet Him in a higher place.

For me, the higher place occured 2 days later from the 7th floor of a hotel overlooking the front range. God provided a wonderful elegant hotel room for our last night in Colorado. I sat on the wide windowsill, hidden from my kids view by the thick hotel drapes, and took in the beautiful sunset. God did call me to the "mountaintop" where I was able to see Him in His majestic creation, but only after I accepted and understood that God first and foremost is able to meet us in the low places of our existance.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

8 Years, 80000 miles, and 8 blocks

Thoughts from a hotel window.... Denver, Colorado

From my hotel window, I can see where my husband used to work, and just 8 blocks away, I can see our first apartment. 8 years ago we moved to Denver, fresh out of college and full of ambition and hope. We have traveled quite a road in the past eight years. I am only 8 blocks from where we started our life together, but I feel 80000 miles away.

Our first years of marriage were very challenging. Being in a new city, with no friends and no church we were left only with each other. Both of us were so selfish and ill-equipped to make a marriage work. While my memories of our years in Denver are bitter-sweet, filled with arguments, fighting, and discontentment, I am actually thankful for those years. Through our struggles and through wise counsel, we began to learn that the battle is not between us, but against the enemy of our souls who seeks to destroy marriages. By the time we left the crucible of Denver, we had resolved in our minds to live as one - to face the challenges of life together rather than allowing them to divide us.

We moved from Denver when Mark joined the Air Force. Since then, we have experienced 4 moves, 2 deployments, 1 hurricane (Ivan), 5 years of military life, the birth of 2 beautiful girls, and the death of our Lia. Behind the headline events are numerous small stories each of which has continued to serve to strengthen our marriage.

As I contemplate who I am today in light of my experiences of life, including the loss of Lia, I am encouraged. As I look across the 8 blocks to that first apartment, and remember all the selfish little things that used to seem so insurmountable, I am thankful for the Faithful One who will complete His good work and purposes in us. I am thankful for all the hardships and trials we have faced that have refined me. Without the Lord's sanctifying work in my life, the death of Lia would have destroyed me.

My final thought as I look out the window is an appreciation for the goodness and gentleness of the Lord. I was angry at the Lord years ago when our marriage was struggling. I was angry about the hardships He was allowing us to endure. It seemed without purpose. But the Lord was so good to prepare us for this day - even if that preparation at the time was painful. And in His gentleness, He did not reveal to us the purpose of the preparation. If God had told me 8 years ago all that we would face in the years to come I would have been crushed. Thanks be to God that He is all knowing and does not leave us to endure this life alone.