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Living in Michigan means that I get to see four seasons in all their glory. They come, and they go, and they come again. My years are punctuated by four very beautiful crescendos of nature. Winter this year was much the same.
The snow came as a dusting, then a coat, then a thick covering across the earth. Through the blanket of cold, grief bore into my bones after experiencing two miscarriages. I have searched for the place where grace is, and I have found it in five ways.
The First Way:
When I was in the depth of my sadness, I was reminded of the power of prayer. I felt called to watch War Room. A movie about prayer. In the movie, a real estate agent meets a woman who wants to sell her house. The seller, a sweet old woman, shows the agent a closet in her home that is her favorite room – a room of prayer. The women create a deep bond through prayer and healing and love.
After watching it, I felt a deep need for my own prayer space. I spent a day rearranging my bedroom, designating one area as my space. I put my dresser, jewelry and mirror in one corner. Then, I confiscated painter tape and a notepad to place on my night stand. My war room was ready.
My space became a sanctuary. I held my grief, learning to sit with it instead of wishing for it to pass. I sat and listened, I prayed and learned. When winter’s depths turned into spring’s promises, God met me there.
God whispers, “Bring me the darkness, I’ll show you the light.”
The Second Way:
An idea sprang up in the war room, that garden could bring hope. Spring invited me to believe what God was telling me the garden could become. Using my bullet journal to plan, I wrote and illustrated all the ways that I could find hope in the flower beds.
At the first sign of thawed earth I began cultivating and curating my hope. I related deeply to the seeds that needed buried before they could bloom. I threw some around like confetti, I dug deep and planted bulbs, I willed it all to grow.
Upon summer’s arrival, the hope I had been yearning for met me there. New flowers still bloom each day and others grow tall and bud out. I forget something I planted, and I’m reminded newly of the surprises God can bring. As I write this to you, a gladiola is perched along my white fence, bent deeply with the weight of the buds. I have taken guesses with Julius about what color it will bloom – red or yellow, pink or coral?
God invites me, “Show up in hope.”
The Third Way:
My hope garden transformed as spring went on. The best gardens have a space to enjoy the beauty, a space to sit and invite others to come alongside. We already had a deck, but it was dilapidated and disintegrating. There were remedial boards nailed over holes and as spring met us, we knew we needed to fix it.
Jake and I planned and budgeted the materials. The dumpster came on a Wednesday, along with my stubborn ways. Jake went to work, and I resolved to tear the old deck out myself. I must have looked ridiculous in Jake’s work clothes with a tear-off fork and hammer, prying boards up and hoisting them to the dumpster alone. Julius cheered me on from afar shirtless and in a hardhat.
As the day went on, each neighbor strolled down to my house wondering what all the ruckus was. Laughing, they grabbed their tools and joined me in my project.
God uttered, “Healing work isn’t done alone.”
The Fourth Way:
The deck was finished in a few weeks. It invites me to the garden every morning. I wake up early, tromping down the stairs with my dog, Pepper, and my cat, Bob, on my heels. Pepper, Bob and I do our morning dance of filling their bowls and making coffee, then they join me on the deck. I bring my basket of books and a bag of pens and spend the next hour in silence.
My city wakes up around me. Birds chirp, squirrels move through the trees, planes fly in and out of a nearby airport, the sun peeks through the leaves. God meets me. I listen for him. This silent time reminds me of who I am in him. I am met by this place and this time that is meant for me and for everything he is calling me to become.
God murmurs, “Show up and listen.”
The Fifth Way:
My morning evolves while I enjoy coffee. Eventually, Julius meets me on the deck. He tests the temperature in his pajamas, trying to decide how cold it is. I invite him into my space with open arms.
He grabs his sketch book and joins me. He draws while I write, waking up together in companionable quiet. I am given the gift of watching his becoming. I see how his eyes move and how he looks when he’s concentrating. I see his imagination. I can wonder who he will be.
God asks, “Can you see what I’m doing here?”
Autumn will meet us soon, but I am not ready to say good-bye to summer. Too often we meet the seasons at the outset with planning, or at the end with reflection but I am learning the practice of meeting the season in the middle. There are lessons to be found here, right in the middle of August. I am grateful for each message. I am letting the summer season meet me with its hope and healing.
There are days of pain and grief finds me, still. I acknowledge it, handing it over to God.
How can you bring your grief to him today?
In what ways can you find the place where grace is, and hold your hands out to God there?
If I could be with you, I would sit alongside you in your pain. Healing is a journey; like prayer, gardening, building, listening, and parenting. We are reminded of God’s love for us in the new flowers of each day, and in the eyes of the people who love us. His voice doesn’t often come to us in the ways we think it will.
What does he sound like to you?
God, thank you for holding us through the hurt.
Thank you for showing up with me, where grace is. I would love to hear how God meets you in your healing. If you would like to share with me, please leave a comment below or find me in the “Contact” section.
If you are interested in any of the books in the pictures here, I’ll be sharing a list of books that have brought me hope this season next.
With grace and hope and love,