His Love Endures Forever

It’s been a long time. A long time of not writing; of silence. The last time I shared, I was sitting. There was pain and winter and sitting. The pain continued, and the sitting sat, and the surgery happened, and then there was more pain. I don’t share it with many, but for the curious, I’m a woman who’s one ovary down for the count. Who needs two anyway. If you’re really keeping track, in the last 5 years I’ve sliced and diced one ovary, one appendix, done a little tuck and roll to a uterus, hit one ovarian cyst out of the park, sent my gall bladder packing, and thrown my tonsils to the pits of hell. The tonsils were the worst. Oh Lord, if I have cried out to you in this most recent hardship, I can only thank you that tonsils can’t grow back.

Something is not right with my body and I’m working on finding the source of it, because I believe bodies are weird but they were also created to function correctly and mine can still do that.

All of this is just to say, I haven’t been great but I’m getting there. Isn’t that where lots of people are right now?

two old ladies walking

I was crossing a parking lot a few weeks ago, dressed just fine with my hair and makeup done, but I was walking SO SLOW about 10 days after surgery. Two women, I’m guessing octogenarians, were walking in the same direction and we were all progressing at the same speed. It made me laugh in a remember this when you’re well kind of way. How many times have I been in my car, waiting at a crosswalk for some totally average-health-looking person to walk, impatiently wondering why he or she doesn’t pick up the pace a little? I need to remember not to rush myself or others.

On Easter Sunday, my husband made us all breakfast and I woke up just in time to eat, skip a shower, put on makeup, and get dressed. I wore a nice outfit and everyone at church said I looked great. Was it worth saying that I didn’t feel great? My church is all for being real and vulnerable, but there are only so many times I can or want to talk about not feeling well, or want to bring up the fact that I was in the ER twelve hours previously. I was exhausted. For the most part, I smiled and said I was doing better.

Fehrman Family Easter 2015

We took this family photo after church, and it’s a great picture. Does it matter that I felt awful at the time? No. It matters that we were together as a family, and my boys hunted their Easter eggs that my husband and I filled at 11:30pm the night before, just after returning from the hospital. I was grateful to even be there to participate with my family.

Last year, the word aletheia became very important to me. It was a healing word, and it is Greek for truth, nothing hidden.

Friends, this is my truth, nothing hidden. Things aren’t great, but they’re not terrible, and I’m getting better. The simplest thing is that Jesus loves me. For the places where I’m choosing isolation, I don’t want to do that and I’m trying to pull out of it. Part of this season is also smalling down just to preserve what’s most important, and there’s learning in that.

I couldn’t do this without knowing where my Truth is, and there are so, so many other people out there who are hurting for all sorts of reasons and holding onto the same Truth or searching desperately for one.

If you don’t have a Truth, consider this one from Psalm 136:1-16, 23-26. It’s true: His love endures forever.

psalm136_art

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful love endures forever.

Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—
His faithful love endures forever.
the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.
and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.

10 Give thanks to him who killed the firstborn of Egypt.
His faithful love endures forever.
11 He brought Israel out of Egypt.
His faithful love endures forever.
12 He acted with a strong hand and powerful arm.
His faithful love endures forever.
13 Give thanks to him who parted the Red Sea.[a]
His faithful love endures forever.
14 He led Israel safely through,
His faithful love endures forever.
15 but he hurled Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea.
His faithful love endures forever.
16 Give thanks to him who led his people through the wilderness.
His faithful love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our weakness.
His faithful love endures forever.
24 He saved us from our enemies.
His faithful love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every living thing.
His faithful love endures forever.
26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His faithful love endures forever.

Amen.

Psalm 136 image: Hilldale’s Worship Ministry

You and Me and Andromeda Galaxy

Have you ever been caught off-guard by something that just floored you, made your arm hairs stand on end, made you cry, made you wonder why you exist, and made you wonder at the miracle of your existence all at the same time? I had one of those moments yesterday.

Andromeda Galaxy_SidewaysQ

Earlier this month, NASA released the largest photo ever taken. It contains 1.5 billion pixels and is an image of the Andromeda Galaxy–which is itself 2.5 million lightyears from Earth and is probably the largest galaxy in the same group as our Milky Way. Since this photo doesn’t do it any justice, here’s a closeup, below.

I beg you to turn off everything around you and just let this sink in however it hits you. Keep the sound on.

One of the reasons why I love the Rocky Mountains is their ability to dwarf me. I am in awe of their magnitude and the predictability of the mountains’ existence, but the unpredictability of their effects. Snow storms, fire, slippery shale. I’m surprised that in viewing this Andromeda Galaxy photo, of which I can’t even comprehend its size, I feel entirely the opposite. Rather than feeling small and inconsequential myself, I actually feel…special. Out of this entire universe, and all the galaxies, and all the matter and planets, I am here. You are here. It’s no accident.

So why are we here? Oh, wouldn’t we like to know. But one thing that caused my tears was in thinking that my husband might spend another 30 years sitting at a desk that he hates, or that I might give up another week or month or season with a depressed veil over me rather than moving toward something that matters. What if the point of all of this galaxy-earth-people stuff isn’t a comfortable life in a two-story suburban home? Oh yes we all say we know that, yet we toil away at jobs to earn such things. What if it’s in letting go of it all that we could actually be free to have it all.

This is more than January dreaming. Dare I say that it’s a holy conviction that this life I’m walking out isn’t the ultimate plan. It’s certainly one option, but what if God has lots of options for us and it’s only in seeing the big picture–and wow, He sees much more than 1.5 billion pixels–that we can look past the comfortable door to see why we were made and formed and placed here for just such a time and purpose as _______.

I’ve spent hours watching millions of stars twinkle over Heart Mountain in Wyoming–they’re the brightest, I swear–and sometimes it looks a little like that still photo. Andromeda Galaxy is out there. We can see her. And 2.5 million lightyears away, here I sit typing these words, and you sit reading them. A child needs a snack; a dog barks to be let out; you’re late for work; the money won’t cover the bills; the song that’s playing is my favorite; a little sugar won’t hurt; don’t forget the 3:00 appointment; you’ll want a sweater today; she didn’t smile but you’ll smile anyway, warmly. For whatever it means or is worth, thank you for being one connection in the whole wide, wide, wide world.

What do you see in the stars?

First Monday 2015

New Year’s day was last Thursday, but the luckiest people got that day and Friday off of work, plus the weekend, and are just now facing the reality of a new year:

The First Monday.

Monday 2015

Setting the alarm for an ungodly hour, pulling kids’ covers off of their grumpy bodies, heading back to work after a long stretch off. Making to-do lists and trying to remember where you left off in December.

By 10:00am, do you even remember what your New Year’s resolutions were? To stop eating sugar/caffeine/fat; biting nails; gossiping; complaining.

But I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution this year. I just couldn’t bring myself to–not after 2014. In some ways, 2014 was awesome. I went to counseling, got free from some head-game stuff, got a tattoo, walked away from something unhealthy and started a blog. It also sucked. Some people I looked up to disappointed in big ways, I realized that a 6-year journey was heading nowhere, and I held my nephew in my arms…but he was dead. 2014 was heart wrenching.

It would be nonsense to think 2015 won’t include its share of tears and hurt and heartache. But for that, the laughter and good news wouldn’t be cherished in the same ways. I now know more of who I am, and what my strengths and weaknesses are. I could list them here without flinching, but it’s really only useful information for me. You have your own set of lists. What is important is that we become more of who we are–

–not more of someone else’s highlight reel; not more of who your parents thought you’d be. Just be you in whatever form of awesome you are.

[Which reminds me of the Imagine Dragons song Who We Are. Does your mind skip around like this too?]

So 2015, come on. Bring your first Monday, and your first tear, and your first fall-on-the-floor-laugh. I will scream at my kids to get into the freaking car, probably today, and I will hold them and say I love you.  All the extremes and all the level ground will be there, and in 360 days, we’ll kick this year to the curb and start over again.

It’s a cycle of new and old, starting fresh while knowing the past, and hoping for the future.

Welcome to Monday 2015.

It’s gonna be awesome.

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Who Would Be Your Bridesmaids Today?

If you had to choose a set of bridesmaids right now–whether you’re married or not, just go with me here–who would you choose? I think I’d have 7 people, and few of them know each other. Even though I don’t talk to them all the time, each person represents what I see as a chapter in my life, and they’re dear to me.

Women Holding Hands_janmot_louis_le_poeme_de_l_ame_13_rayons_de_soleil

Looking back, I see that I didn’t understand friendship until I was in my 20’s, when I lived 12 hours from family and formed friendships that became like family. One of those friends, Molly, showed me through her life that it’s possible–and healthy–to maintain friendships with people from many time periods and chapters of life. She was and is a diligent pursuer of connection.

As strange as it sounds, I used to think that people were (oh I hate saying this) disposable. If a person hurt my feelings–Chop–they were cut off. If I wanted a change, I left people in my dust and switched to a new group. If I moved, contact with the old crowd was an afterthought. Like most good and bad habits, this came from my family.

My family loved quiet and solitude, and I didn’t grow up valuing community. For much of my life, I didn’t cherish my relationships or always offer grace when a friendship hit a hard spot. I wish I had been a better friend, and hope I’ve changed. Recently, I saw the value of community in a very sweet and hard way. I have an aunt who lived in New York City for almost 50 years. When she grew ill and was whisked away from the city, not one person called to check on her. Then when she visited my church with me, she actually accused me of setting her up in a trap of people talking to her. At once, it was the best picture of how my friends came around to meet her and love her because they love me, while also serving as a bleak picture of how very alone and jaded both my aunt and so many people in the world can grow in a life lived apart from love.

My 7 special people are people who have hurt me deeply and loved me greatly. They were worth forgiving and asking forgiveness of, and loving, and keeping. I can’t imagine my life without them, or without the dozens of other people who cheer for me, weep with me, laugh with me, and offer love in very individual ways. One of the greatest lessons of my life is to not treat friendship as a disposable commodity.

Do you have a friend you need to unearth from the past?

Do you have someone who needs to hear that you love him or her?