I Need Help

20170718-IMG_5217So I have this thing about asking for help. I think I’m pretty good at it. When I could use some help I speak up and ask for it. Mostly. Kinda sorta. Okay, I’m not the best at asking for help. In fact I kind of get resentful when I find myself needing help.

Part of my problem, is in the actual recognizing my need for help. Another part is accepting the help offered especially if it doesn’t come the way I envisioned. And yet another part is that I feel slightly ashamed that I am so needy––that I couldn’t do it on my own––that I’m being a burden.

On the flip side, when people ask me for help, I have reacted in many weird and wonderful ways. Often I internally panic because what they have asked of me can seem far too important-to-mess up, overwhelming, time-consuming, expensive or beyond my capabilities and expertise.   Sometimes I am gung-ho and jump in with helping hands, only to realize that what I thought would be helpful really was just making things worse. And sometimes when they asked for help, I don’t register what they are saying and don’t respond. I can be a bit insensitive. Possibly self-centered. Dense. A lot of the time.

Humans are a funny bunch of potatoes––coming in all shapes and sizes with knobs and warts in unexpected places, rarely fitting the ideal form.

I like humans when I don’t actually have interact with them on a daily or intimate basis. It’s much easier to theorize and postulate on what could be helpful for their problems from afar. Like sitting by myself in my comfy cozy armchair with a cuppa tea and blankie on my legs. It’s so easy to see what would help someone out from that position. And then a real life human will come and interrupt my daydreams and have the nerve to ask for real physical help––Like my son.

I love my son. He’s a very cool, imaginative, creative child. He’s pretty quick on the uptake with school and so usually I don’t have to worry too much about his education. However, recently he came to me and asked for help with his math homework. I dislike math. Well that is to say, I wasn’t the greatest at math in school. I can do basic numbers but when you get into all that weird stuff that I have never had to use since school, well I just suck.

So the kid is learning basic math. I’m decent at basic math. So yay! I can help. I start helping. It all spirals downwards into a big fight. Apparently my brand of help is no help at all! And we both go off fuming­­––one yelling that he’s never going to ask for help again and the other muttering about how she’s never going to give help again!

Recently some events happened in my family that started me thinking about people having a hard time accepting help. My grandparents are well known for being helpful, kind and generous people. Now they are aging and running into some pretty major health issues, which has created difficulties for them, causing them to need others to help them get around and take care of themselves and their home. They refuse to ask for help until there is absolutely no other option and sometimes when they finally ask, it’s almost too late. I hear from them often, that they don’t want to be a burden.

I think it is ingrained in our culture, especially in the older generations, that it is a shameful thing to ask for help. I think it comes from the idea that accepting charity is considered weak and wrong, as in, “If you haven’t earned it, you don’t deserve it.” or that they could be seen as a burden to others.

Furthermore, there is this notion that if someone helps you they need to be paid back in a way that equals the value or the worth of the help given in the first place, and they don’t want to be in their debt. So many people in our society suffer in silence, refusing to ask for help, to the angst and frustration of those who love and care them.

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Help is a tricky, tricky thing and it doesn’t matter if you are the one asking or the one giving.

So, how do we become better a receiving and giving help? How do we stop the shame and stigma that comes from asking for help and receiving it?

Like I said earlier, it’s much easier to help humans in theory than it is in practice. At least for me it is!

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I find it hard to remain open and vulnerable and kind when another person is being obtuse or ignorant or mean. And I don’t like putting myself out there, in uncomfortable situations. However, I think, I will not do as I swore to do the other evening after the math homework fight, I will continue to give help when asked and practice on my communication and observation skills.

I’m going to try to not let my fears and personal shame guide my actions. I will try and communicate my help better, I will observe what is working and what isn’t working and I will try and try again even if I fail the first time.

I will practice at not shutting down and not helping at all when asked for help in an area that is overwhelming or above my capabilities, but will look for ways that I can help even if it is only in a small way, maybe not completely meeting the need, but at least showing that I care enough to try.

As well I will continue to recognize the efforts of people helping me.

I will tell myself to not to feel ashamed when people do things for me, things that I think I should’ve been able to do for myself.

I will refuse to think that I’m not worth it, or that I am a burden.

I will accept help gratefully without worrying in the back of my head “Now how in the world am I going to pay them back?”

And I’m going to tell others to do the same!

So hear me! There is no shame in asking for help.

The only way we are going to get better at caring for one another is by speaking up and acting.

We teach our children to ask for help and then we tell them when they grow up to do it themselves, to stop asking for help. And then when they are old and can’t do things for themselves, they don’t know how to ask for help anymore. Funny story. True story.

I recommend practicing with nice, grateful, people (like friends), until you get better at helping.

But don’t stay there. Eventually the idea is you will be helping non-grateful, undeserving, unkind people (like some family). And why? Because they need help too, they just may not realize it yet, or they may be too scared or too ashamed to admit it.

And when someone helps you out, don’t be quick to refuse or pass it off as not a big deal, allow them the joy that comes from helping someone. It’s your gift to them.

Express your gratitude for their help, and don’t feel like you need to reciprocate. It’s their gift to you.  Then take how that gift made you feel (hopefully loved, accepted, cared for, special) and pass it on to someone else.

Who knows, but if we all get this giving and asking and receiving thing down, maybe we (with God’s help) will slowly change the course of this world for the better!

Oh dear, the kid is home and asking for more help with his math homework.

I guess now, is as good a time as any to put into practice what I’ve been preaching!

By the way, can anyone come up with a better title for this post?  I need help! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

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Bridges and Detours

A few weeks ago the rain was coming down hard and heavy. It had been raining for most of the week and especially on the weekend, but Sunday night was the worst. Even my dogs didn’t want to go out for their evening walk to do their business before bedtime. They just looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and promptly turned tail and ran for cover.

Monday morning dawned without the sound of rain beating against the windows and gushing down the eaves-troughs. The heavy clouds lifted a little and bright warm sunshine beamed through causing steam to rise thickly from the sodden earth. I was at the grocery store bright an early as I had put off the shopping trip over the weekend to avoid carrying groceries out into that torrent of rain.

There I found out that the Kitimat River had risen over 6 feet in less than an hour and swept away a number of unlucky campers and motor-homes, stranding a few people even, who had to be rescued by helicopter. It was the talk of the town for the next week or so. Facebook lit up with pictures and gossip.20170827-IMG_8200

Monday was a beautiful sunny day, that come the evening I convinced the whole family to go for a walk and decided to head down a hiking trail that starts just across the street from our house.

The Smith Street Trail is a sketchy trail on a good day and I don’t know what was going through my head, other than I wanted to show my husband, who rarely comes on walks with us, the cool new “backyard” we have. The trail was mucky and wet and heads down a long stretch of “steps” that have been fashioned into the hillside to stop the erosion of the trail––or to prevent hikers from sliding on their bums hundreds of meters down the hill. These steps are awkward distances and I think a giant fashioned them as they are quite far apart and high in spots. They are not easy to navigate and added to the fun is how slimy and mucky the trail gets from rain and fallen leaves.

When we finally reached the bottom it was obvious a ton of water had rushed through leaving wreckage in its wake. The footbridges were gone and the mud was deep. So we turned around and headed back up the long steep, slippery trail back to street level to walk the asphalt walking paths around town.20170915-IMG_8372

I didn’t approach the Smith Street Trail for at least another week.   By then we had had a stretch of sunny, mostly dry days.   The trail was still a muck, but less so than that Monday. I managed to locate some of the footbridges and drag them back in place so that I could hop the now piddly creek. The watermark from the flood that had rushed through was as high as my shoulder in most places and everywhere I walked along the trail that day there was branches strewn across the path and trees looming dangerously overhead, foot bridges missing or washed far from their original spots and new gullies formed where the ground had been level before. It made for some interesting hiking that required improvisation and jumping skills. My hiking shoes were coated with a thick layer of mud that had washed over the previously needle-covered path.20170915-IMG_8373

Today I was walking down the trail with my dogs again and was pleasantly surprised to see that someone had been hard at work fashioning new bridges where the old ones had been damaged beyond repair. They had located the old footbridges putting them back in their rightful spots and cut down the widow-makers that threatened hikers from above. Some spots eroded beyond repair and detours were fashioned. The mud has mostly dried and needles and leaves are falling again to cover up the muck making it easier to walk.

I was struck how this trail that had been around at least 50 years or more, has seen it’s fair share of hikers, floods and fallen trees. The trail more or less has stayed the same but has also evolved over the years, accommodating the forces of nature and catastrophe.   There have been changes to it’s course and yet the trail still starts and ends up where it always has before. Many people before me have walked this trail and many will after and yet here I am discovering it, learning it, and land-marking it.

I walk this trail almost every other day and it’s starting to feel familiar, even though we’ve only lived here eight weeks. My dogs treat this trail like it’s their home territory. I can tell it’s their most favourite trail out here because their tails go up and their eyes shine with excitement and they take off fast, hardly ever checking in with me. On other unfamiliar trails they tend to stick pretty close, almost to the point of being annoying.20170918-IMG_8392

As I was walking today I thought about how my understanding of God has evolved over the years. When I was a child my understanding of God was very fresh and clear-cut. God is Love and God loves me. I was told this is what God is like. I was shown clips in the Bible and told stories in Sunday School, and given verses to memorize. There really was nothing to trip me up and the way was clear and easy to navigate.

As I grew up sometimes a tree would fall across my path, such as when a favourite teacher contracted Hepatitis B and died suddenly when I was in grade eight or when a young cousin of mine came down with a brain tumor and died when he was four. Those were big trees that came crashing down across my path and shook my understanding of God. Of course when that happened people were quick to show me how to cut away the snags and turn big fallen trees into bridges. They pointed to verses in the Bible that talked about how in all things God works for the good of those who love him and how we are blessed when we mourned for we shall be comforted by God. These bridges were crude and eventually I had to refashion a better and deeper understanding, but for the time it worked.20170905-GKRV9046

I was able to carry on with life, my understanding of God intact and mostly clear. Yes I had a few new bridges, and a couple of snags that in order to avoid I had to duck or detour. Later on, I hit a number of other snags and parts of my understanding of God started to erode as I lived life long enough on this earth to encounter a few more tragedies and heartbreaks. So I built up more bridges and steps to counteract. I was starting to become confused and unsure. My clear-cut understanding of God was now littered with snags and detours and washed out sections and I was afraid that maybe I had built my trail in the wrong place, or that the trail would be completely wiped out.20170915-IMG_8375

Then I lost my son, and it was like a flash flood ripped through my life. It made the trail unrecognizable and completely obstructed in places. The old bridges were ripped out or made unstable and the path was washed completely away in spots. It was painful to even approach my understanding of God, or what I believed in for many months even for years.  I stopped walking that trail for a while.

Thankfully I had wonderful friends and people who had traveled their own washed out paths and encouraged me to stop avoiding and start tentatively navigating my own trail again. I read many books written by others who have walked the same trail as me, which helped me cut away deadwood and dangerous theology giving me a better understanding of the Bible and God. And though I would get mired down in some boggy spots and have to cut out huge sections of trail because the landslide was just to great to overcome, my trail was becoming passable again. Big fallen trees were again turned into bridges and though they looked differently than the ones before, they still provided the same service. They help me along and made it easier and far more pleasant to walk this trail I am on.  20170905-IMG_8315

So my understanding of God has shifted over the years and now as I walked this Smith Street Trail today, I was shown how my understanding of God will continue to change as I grow and live and walk. The trail I am on today, will look different in twenty years. Life’s tragedies and catastrophes will come and cause their havoc changing the scenery and maybe parts of the course, but I am assured that the end will remain the same. God is love and He loves me, and I will end up there, just as when I started, though with a far more challenging and interesting trail to show for it!

Disappearing Mountains

Our move out to British Columbia came together rather seamlessly. As I mentioned in the previous post, we sold our acreage in three and half weeks while I was out visiting my husband. We drove back home and packed up in two weeks our three-bedroom house, a Quonset hut, a barn and a shed. Our beloved chickens and cats went to good homes. And everything else we valued or thought we could use, or just couldn’t sell fast enough was strapped down and packed tight into the twenty foot shipping container.

Then came the final cleaning and the goodbyes and the waiting, and the long drive back out to our new home in Kitimat, BC to start our new life in a new place with a very different climate and landscape from where I had grown up.

I grew up on the high prairies of Alberta. I say high, because it wasn’t flat. It was more like long sweeping lines that spread out like Nike swoosh-marks as it spread from one hill to the next. The only trees were those planted in shelterbelts around farms and scrub bush along creek beds or in the coulees. It’s fields upon fields in variegated patterns and colours depending on what has been planted and the season. Crops of wheat, canola, oats, barley, peas or hay create great swaths of gold, yellows, greens, and browns that stretch out as far as the eye can see until the sky meets the earth in a distinct line that circles all the way around you.20170812-IMG_8102

However, for me, the dominant feature of the prairies is the great big dome of sky above all that sweep of earth. I find the sky animated, brilliant, dramatic and compelling. I can’t take my eyes off of it! The sky parades dazzling sunrises in reds and oranges so rich and deep they make me want to weep for the passion of colours. Then there is the light, light, brilliant blue with not a cloud to mar it’s sereneness. I would stare up up into space and marvel at how intense the blue would become and how it would make my heart ache with all the possibility and dreams of the whole world. I would keep my eye to the horizon and watch for the telling stretching arch of clouds that promised strong warm winds of a Chinook coming, or look for towering, billowing thunderheads that rolled in from the west passing us by to dump rain or hail on someone further to the east. And of course I would watch for those ominous purply-black and greenish storms cells that always got my heart pumping with adrenaline. Then there’s the shining rainbows that would arc across blue-black skies and flamboyant sunsets where pink and orange and reds come together in such stunning harmony I couldn’t help but run around trying to find the best vantage point––usually with my camera. The sky was the medium through which I could understand life and God, it told me stories and painted me pictures.20170525-IMG_754720170524-IMG_7521

Now I live in coastal mountains of Northwestern British Columbia. Here we have freshwater rivers and a seawater channel surrounded by lush vegetation. It’s a mix that brings a high amount of precipitation. Lots of rain. Deep piles of snow. (Kitimat’s name is derived from Kitimaat which means “people of the snow”.)

My hiking shoes haven’t exactly dried out in the six weeks that we’ve lived here. The ground is always soggy and squishy. The grass is always wet, so it surprised me to see that people still watered their lawns even though it seems to rain at some point every day. The locals have been telling me this is an unusually wet year. That heartens me a bit, except they keep warning me that now it’s Fall, to expect most days will be overcast and rainy. Sunny days will be a rare occurrence, not to be wasted. So when the sun is out, people here, get outside.

So this sunshiny prairie girl is going through some dull dreary days lately. If I didn’t have two large dogs that needed walking all the time, I would probably stay curled up on the (new and very sweet) couch in front of my fireplace (yay!) and just not move out from under my nest of cozy blankets.

Instead, God in his wisdom, gave me two needy dogs. These dogs have created a lot of angst and have cost us a lot of money. They have dictated a number of our decisions lately, such as what kind of house and yard we needed out here, what kind of vehicle I needed to pack them around in, and they order the schedule of my days, needless to say they cost a lot to feed! On the other hand, they have forced me to get outside a lot more than I would without them. And I need to be outside, because it is not only physically good for me, it is soul therapy. I’m not just being a loner sitting in my little house island, moping about the bad weather and getting all depressed, instead I get to be outside with them, and while I’m walking, praying, thinking and meeting other people and their dogs, I’m learning about the place I now live in and am noticing things.

One of the things I’ve noticed is that this quiet end-of-the-road town called Kitimat is tucked in amongst some pretty spectacular mountains. Every side of this town has mountains rising up above the roofs of the houses. There is the heavily treed Robinson Ridge to the east along with the bald rocky dome of Green Mountain. Further to the north there is the iconic peaks of Mount Elizabeth, and to the west rises Squirrel and Claque Mountain further beyond more rocky peaks of distant mountains. There are others that I don’t know the names of yet that rise up along the Douglas Channel to the south. The heavily treed mountain sides rise up on the edges of town, so it’s doesn’t take long at all to get to one of the numerous trail heads to start hiking up one.

Even though they are right there, some days I wake up and the sky is gray and dark and rain is falling and it seems as if the mountains don’t even exist. The sky has swallowed them up so completely that it’s like they are not even there, and yet the town is clearly visible so it’s not like we are in a fog or anything. It doesn’t even look like clouds are just covering them up. It just seems as though during the night someone figured out a way to steal the mountains and did. So when I go out to walk with my dogs and the sky that I am used to, is flat and gray and no longer eye-catching or painting something beautiful, it gets me down––as in I’m watching the toes of my shoes move along getting wetter and wetter. But then there will be a crack in the sky and Oh. My. Goodness! I catch a tantalizing glimpse of rock and tree and realize the mountains are still there! Hidden, but very much there! Sometimes the clouds continue to lift and reveal all the glory they have covered up and I can’t get over how big and close the mountains are! Sometimes the clouds close back in keeping the mountains snugly wrapped up in their wet blankets and invisible.

Here, unlike the prairies, the Mountains tell the stories instead of the sky. And I watch them on my walks (if I can see them), and I watch how sometimes it’s like they are wearing a frothy tutu, with most of the mountain visible but with a light white cloud hovering around it’s middle. Sometimes it’s like they are wearing a burqa and only a tiny glimpse is visible while the rest is completely covered up. Sometimes it’s like they are wearing a big woolen shawl and only the peak if visible and inviting. Sometimes they are wearing a woolly toque that just covers the peak. And sometimes they are stark naked, brilliant and intense, and completely unashamed.

A few days ago I woke up, and the peak of the mountain I can see from my living room window, was dusted in icing sugar. It couldn’t be snow just yet! Thankfully we had a few superbly sunny days, in which the sugar on the mountain peaks didn’t last long.20170914-IMG_8370

Today the mountains are being very mysterious and modest. Sometimes they like to be scandalous. I like the scandalous days the best, but I’m learning to appreciate them no matter what they decide to wear and the moods they are in. I’m looking forward to learning their stories and appreciating the pictures they give me in the time that I am here.

I was contemplating how at times I feel like God is a bit like these mountains. How I’ve thought of Him as hiding Himself, to the point that I can’t see or feel His presence. I go about my life and it feels humdrum like something vital is gone or missing. I believe the word of Jesus when he says He is with me always. So He must always be with me. But it easy to doubt when I cannot see Him and so I find myself getting concerned, and anxious that maybe I am doing something wrong, or need to be doing more of something. I should be praying harder and the Bible longer and more often. Maybe I’ve sinned without knowing it and God has removed his presence from me. I’ve thought that I just had to try harder and I would be able to push the clouds away and get back to God or at least get back the feeling of what I’ve experienced of God in the past.

Thankfully I’ve been able to recognize these thoughts as lies I’ve swallowed and have learned to speak the truth back in response to them whenever they crop up again. The truth is no matter what comes, God is with me and I with Him and nothing can get in the way of that and separate us! There is nothing I can do to “make” God reveal Himself or do something that will “bring” Him back, I just need to live in the daily trust that He is right here in every moment and that He will reveal more of Himself to me as I live and breath and walk in this life.

And today the mountains have given me a wonderful picture of this. Some days there will be clarity and God will be clear and distinct and sharp to me and sometimes I just need to relax into the quiet, blank, mysterious times. Just because His presence isn’t always easily discerned, doesn’t mean He has taken leave, or done a disappearing act on me.

I have prayed so often over the years that God would just take away all the confusion that clouds my vision of Him and banish the uncertainty I have over what I believe about Him. I hate the clouds of doubt and bewilderment that seem to hover over me and I would love to just know what is right and true and not be bothered by questions and things that just don’t make sense in the Bible or be unsure of things that Jesus said, or confused over how the Church should be. Why couldn’t God just sweep it all this away and I could live in joyful and blessed assurance of Him always, never to be perplexed or skeptical again. Oh wouldn’t that just be grand!

Give thanks to God! He answered my prayers! Not in the way I hoped or imagined of course. It seems He has answered and is still answering (I think it’ll be prayer that takes a lifetime to be fully answered, maybe an eternity even!) by giving me a greater understanding of what it means to live by faith and trust in Him. He has answered in asking me to trust in Him despite being perplexed or uncomfortable or unsure. To trust that He is with me always, even to the end of the age. That he will never leave me or abandon me. He gave me the picture that just as incomprehensible someone could pick up the mountains in the night and steal them away, so is it that God would leave or ever let me be snatched from His hands.   He is here with me, in me, fully present, active and alive. We are bound together because of what Christ has done on the cross and my trust in Him.

Today is a day of trusting in the Hidden One–the hidden and yet Always Present One. Always present, though not always seen.

Tomorrow, maybe I’ll be privileged to catch a greater glimpse of His splendor and majesty, a glimpse that will give me a foretaste of the glory that is hidden from view.

And then! Be still my heart! There will come a day I will see Him more fully and clearly than ever before! The clouds will be banished. The veil lifted. The once secreted, laid bare!

Oh how utterly raw and intense and wonderful that day will be!20170719-FPUM2898

A Long Time Coming

Three and a half weeks ago, I was sitting down after a full day of work, chatting with my husband on the phone.  I had last seen him around Easter when he came home for a week.  For the past year he has been working a province over and only made it home for the major holidays.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter.  With a child in school, driving a school bus and an acreage with animals to take care of, we found it difficult to make the trip out to see him.  I’ve had my husband work away from home all of our married life and am quite used to it, though that hasn’t changed my constant hope and desire to have him find work either close to home or with a job rotation that allows him to be home more often, instead of months and months of being absent.

I’ve prayed for years and we’ve both looked and entertained ideas and options that would bring our family together.  Nothing has worked out in that regard.  In fact earlier this spring we had a another close opportunity not pan out yet again that left both of us feeling frustrated.

And so on a Wednesday evening we began entertaining the idea of moving out to where he was.  He had always been so resistant to the idea, for a number of reasons, but things had changed that made it not as impossible for him as before. At the same time, things had changed for me as well, bring us into accord.

Yes!  Let’s consider uprooting and moving so that we could be together as a family!

We figured it would take time, probably 6-8 months to sell our acreage and so I got cracking by calling a realtor in our area to get her opinion of the state of the market and what she thought we could sell our place for, as things have been in quite the slump in our area for a number of years. Driving the bus around, I had seen many places go up for sale and stay on the market for most of the school year.

Before we had even finished drawing up the listing agreement, we had a showing!  Literally one week after discussing the possibility of moving and only 2 days before I was scheduled to drive out to see my husband for 3 weeks.  I was frantically trying to clean up the place so I could leave, and finish school, and make the house show-worthy, and do the paperwork that comes with getting a house ready to sell.  Lawns to be mowed, garden to be weeded and arrangements to be made for the animals.

Then we had an offer come in and we accepted the night before we began the two day drive to see my husband.  I was in shock then and I’m in shock now, because after a couple weeks of waiting we have officially sold our place only 3 and a half a weeks from when we started thinking about it!

I’m sitting in my husband’s rented apartment, thinking about all the times, we’ve tried to “make it” happen before. How we’ve tried to find ways to have our family together and how many times we’ve been disappointed and crushed by having jobs ripped away at the last possible moment.  How we’ve worked at trying to move before and then one of us would balk or life would throw us a curveball that made it impossible.

Now as I watch what’s been happening these past few weeks.  How life is changing up so rapidly and surprisingly smoothly, I am shocked, yes, but also deeply aware that God has been answering my prayers and is still answering my prayers.  That it’s all just been a work in progress that has taken a number of years to line everything up.  Certain things had to happen to prepare each of us for this moment.  There were things we had to let go of and realizations about ourselves that we had to discover before we could move forward in order for all this to work. Some of this was intentional and some of this was beyond our control.

I would pray and pray and cry out to God, begging Him to make things work out and bring my family together. And I’ve always wondered in the back of my mind why He wouldn’t answer my prayers.  You would think God would want us to be together–a wife with her husband, a child with his dad.  Over the years I’ve been angry, confused, disheartened, numb and indifferent   But I’ve also been content and at peace with the way life has gone. My prayers have ranged all over the map, but they usually have all boiled down to letting go of myself and binding myself with God, renewing my hope and trust that He has us in His hand.

Prayer baffles me.

So it helps to read books like Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wind in the Door.  Though it’s geared towards kids, it’s a great book for explaining the unexplainable such as prayer.  The story expands on the idea of communicating without the use of words, and how to relate to the incomprehensible—both the microcosmic and the macrocosmic.  So I’m glad I’m reading through it at this time with my son, especially now with so much changing up in our lives.  It give me hope that when I don’t quite know what or how to pray, or fears steal my words, that I can still reach out to the almighty God and that He hears me.  That He cares.

Which reminds me of that bit in the Bible found in Daniel 10 where Daniel has a vision and is told by an angel that God heard him from the moment he first opened his mouth and yet it took him a long time to come in response because he met resistance along the way. And I consider that the truly big prayers of our hearts may take time, whether it’s because forces beyond our understanding are at work against us, or that we ourselves need to grow and evolve.

Maybe even now this move will not work out, and that makes me afraid.  It scares me the most to see so many things fall into place, because I’m just waiting for it all to collapse at the last moment.  It’s happened before.  It may yet happen again.  God knows I have trust issues.  It’s something I tell Him almost daily.  Sometimes with words but most often with a deep clenching in my stomach.

It helps to walk it out. Literally. I walk and I walk.  Walking is an act of prayer for me.

So life is changing, and as I tell my son, we just need to roll with it.  We need to let go of that which hinders and embrace the adventure!

It was a dark and stormy night . . .

With a loud ear-splitting crack and boom above our heads, the thunder shook the entire house. My eight year old son burrowed tighter into my side as we sat in the big recliner together reading Madeleine L’Engle’s novel “A Wind in the Door”. We had just finished the part where the heroine of the story had just endured a horrible event, and the combination of the tense story and the booming thunder and constant flickering lightening outside had my son rather jumpy. Small hailstones tatted against the window panes as we finished the chapter.

It was time for bed, and after we finished our preparations he begged me to leave his curtains open.

“I’m scared.” He said.

“Wouldn’t you rather have the curtains closed then, so you don’t see?”

“No, I’d rather see if it’s coming closer. I just need to see! Please stay and sing to me!” He asked.

Since he was a baby, whenever he was screaming in the midst of a meltdown or I was on the verge of a meltdown myself, I would sing to him. Sometimes I would be scream-singing in an attempt to drown out the screaming of the child and to also keep myself from doing something I’d regret. Eventually the scream-singing would subside into a gentler tune and the two of us would find ourselves calming down–the rush of our emotions fading into contentment and peace.

So tonight I found the words to an old hymn spilling from my mouth. I grew up on hymn’s and I often find the words of one coming to mind or a tune filling my head. For some reason I can remember them far better than the modern worship music I’ve been surrounded by for the past twenty years.   The old hymns resonate deep within me.

This is my Father’s world . . .” I sang softly, the tune rich and beautiful in my mind, dripped slowly from my mouth and breathed over the open, trusting face of my son.

BOOM! CRACK!

The room lit with unearthly white light for a split second and then returned to the soft glow of the bedside lamp.

And to my list-‘ning ears All nature sings, and round me rings The music of the spheres.

Deep long rumbling in the heavens above and then another loud boom as a wave of rain spattered hard against the windows. The tall spruce trees outside bent to the strong winds and I briefly thought about them (as I always do when the strong winds come) snapping and falling on top of the roof above and crushing us beneath.

I raised my voice louder against the cacophony outside “This is my Father’s world! I rest me in the thought Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas–His had the wonders wrought.

On to the next verse . . .

This is my Father’s world– The birds their carols raise; The morning light,

FLASH! FLASH! The room lit up again and my son’s eyes grew big and excited.

The lily white, Declare their Maker’s praise.

“Mom! Mom! When you sang light, the lightning flashed!”

“Isn’t that nifty?” And I continued on singing.

This is my Father’s World! He shines–

FLASH! FLASH!

“It happened again!” He interrupted to make sure I noticed. I had.

–in all that’s fair; In the rustling grass I hear Him pass–He speaks to me ev’ry-where.

I thought, in a quick moment between verses, about how this world just doesn’t make sense to me these days. How can such evil things happen? Where is God in all of this? Does he not care? Did He not say He was love? Where is this love? Does love make any difference at all? How can I so naively teach my son that this is God’s world and that He cares for the whole world and that we can trust Him, and that we don’t need to be afraid, because I’m not too sure some days if I believe it myself?

A big deep breath and “This is my Father’s world– O let me ne’er for-get That tho the wrong seems oft so strong God is the Ru-ler yet.

Shivers course down my spine, as the world outside lights up brilliantly again.   And the Spirit repeats softly to my frantic mind, O let me ne’er forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong God is the Ruler yet. And I relax into the moment. I find myself choosing again to trust the apostle John who wrote about the marvelous love the Father has lavished on us, calling us His children, and that we are held safe and firm in His hand.

BOOM! CRACK! The heavens continue to rip apart in continuous groans that eventually fade to the sound of swishing trees and the house shuddering to wind blasts.

This is my Father’s world! The bat-tle is not done; Jesus who died shall be sat-is-fied, And earth and heav’n be one.

“Again! Again!”

“Well then you sing with me.”

We raised our voices to the wind and the thunder, with the lightning flashing in all the appropriate places, and finishing strong the last line.

Jesus who died shall be sat-is-fied, And earth and heav’n be one.

That is the prayer of my heart today.

Be satisfied my Jesus, Come near! Move into my neighbourhood, make your home with us! Let us be together for good! No more death, no more tears, no more pain. No more endless struggle to love and have no love returned, no more failure to beat back evil and brokenness and shame. No more heartaches and heartbreaks. No more loneliness and aloneness. No more guilt and confusion. No more separation and endless waiting.    The broken made unbroken.  Everything will be made new!

This is what I live in hope of and I pray for and I lay my trust in.

“Do not be afraid.” I whisper, as much to myself as to my son, “Trust in the One who holds the whole world in His hands.”

Read a similar blog post on my other site about how Songs have lifted my spirits and calmed my fears on occasions in the past here: https://lessonslearnedinthebush.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/singing-the-darkness-away/