My niece, Ansley, read Flat Stanley with her class at school. Her teacher, Mrs. Boyd, had them create their own flat person and send it out on an adventure. And, that is now Flat Ansley started her journey to see … Continue reading
It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at a blank page and blinking cursor trying to compose the thoughts swirling through me. Much has happened in our lives even though my chronicling of it here has been halting, full of starts, stops, and stutters. I can’t promise that this is the beginning of a fresh spate of writing, but it is what is overflowing from my heart today.
My heart rests on the idea of gratitude. I’m not thinking of the simple “thank you” I say to someone who holds open a door or hands me a fresh, steaming cup of hot coffee. Those little moments of thankfulness are ever so important in life – for those receiving and for the heart of the one who utters them. But, today, I’m digging into the idea of being grateful for things I wish I’d never been forced to experience or to learn. I’m grasping for a little of what Job had to know in order to say, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him (Job 13:15)“. I want a touch of the wisdom and deep faith that can stand up under wave after wave of trial and say, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb and naked shall I return. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21)“.
Six years ago, the fabric of my life was torn in ways I didn’t know I could survive. I watched, with a complete inability to stop it, as relationships were severed, words and deeds were flung like weapons, and people I trusted proved disastrously untrustworthy. The small storms of anger, bitterness, jealousy, gossip, insincerity, pride and a host of generational sins merged into a hurricane that dramatically altered the landscape before me. It’s a pain that continued to grow and, like a mythical Hydra, when one head was cut off, two more sprang back in its place. It has been the most confounding experience of my life, and Nick and I continuously beseech the Lord for reprieve and reconciliation.
Still – it has not been His good and perfect will to remove this cup from us.
But, as I’m studying the life of Job and also the writings of James and Peter, I am looking for the deeper workings and purposes of this trial. And, so, today I focus on the things I’ve learned that I may have learned in no other way.
- I am grateful that the tearing down of insincere relationship, pretense and placating left the opportunity for true relationship, real intimacy and community. I have learned that the most loving thing I can do in relationship is give honestly of myself, speak the truth in love and give the same grace I hope is extended to me. Though my relationships are fewer in quantity, they are deep, rich and full of abiding love and understanding.
- I am grateful that the Lord exposed the sin in my own heart of thinking I could do anything to hold everyone together. I am not the glue. It’s His job to convict hearts and lead His children in His path. I am only responsible for my own obedience. If I am called to speak the Truth, in love, I am only accountable for the delivery of the message, not with its receipt.
- I am grateful for the opportunity to watch my husband stand in as my protector and the head of our household. I am even grateful for when this means he must tell me I am wrong and my attitude needs adjustment. I’ve been given the privilege of watching the man I’ve loved for more than half of my life lay himself bare in transparency to offer the wisdom of experience to those who seek it. It’s one of the most beautiful things I could imagine.
- I am grateful that there is still hope of reconciliation. I would despair if I did not believe “…I [will] look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!”
- I am grateful for the stories of God’s faithfulness I have gathered on the road. Ironically, as I took a break from writing this, a friend asked me if I could go back, would I still move here. I can absolutely say, “Yes”!. I have had a front row seat to the blessings of the Lord and the unveiling of His glory. I know my Redeemer lives (Job 19:25) for He has held my hand every step of the way.
- I am grateful for the new relationships that have risen where the others left gaping holes. In joining my life with Nick’s, I received more parents, brothers, sisters, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins and Grandmas to love. In moving to a new state, I joined a new community, started a new career, and joined a new family of faith.
- I am grateful for a deeper faith as it has been tested over and over again. I am learning to “remain under” the pressure and walk in a way that is worthy of my calling. (As I am learning the meaning of steadfastness in trials from Pastor James MacDonald, “When Life is Hard”)
This is just a scraping of the surface of the deep well of gratitude I have as a result of what the Lord is teaching. I am still desperately begging the Lord for redemption in this situation. I am pursuing peace as far as it depends on me. But, I am also learning what it means to say, like Daniel’s friends, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image you have set up” (Daniel 3:17-18).
I believe God has the power to restore, redeem and reconcile this situation in the blink of an eye. But if not…I will still be grateful and praise His name.
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy… The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it… Iron sharpens iron, … Continue reading
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.Exodus 20:12 A few weeks ago, Pastor James preached a series called “The 10 Commandments of Marriage”. Over a … Continue reading
This site is usually limited to the goings-on in our little Giardino household. But, today, I want to brag a little as a Solly. My brother, Daniel, and his wife, Katie, are working very hard to bring a new product … Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I attended a women’s retreat at Camp Harvest and had a wonderfully refreshing weekend with some beautiful women. The main speaker, Beth Freeman shared a series on our identity in Christ. And, while much of what … Continue reading
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, … Continue reading
Have you ever just wanted to say to someone, “Wow! You’re a terrible person!”? Maybe it’s someone you work with who is always being a jerk to the people around them. Or, maybe it’s someone closer, like a family member … Continue reading
Freedom Is Not Free
By: Kelly Strong
I watched the flag pass by one day,
It fluttered in the breeze;
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform,
So young, so tall, so proud;
With hair cut square and eyes alert,
He’d stand out it any crowd.
I thought…how many men like him
Had fallen through the years?
How many died on foreign soil?
How many mothers’ tears?
How many pilots’ planes shot down
How many dead at sea
How many foxholes were soldiers’ graves
No, Freedom is not Free.
I heard the sound of Taps one night,
When everything was still;
I listened to the bugler play,
And felt a sudden chill;
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant “Amen”
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of a brother or a friend;
I thought of all the children,
Of the mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
With interrupted lives.
I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea,
Of unmarked graves in Arlington.
No. Freedom is not Free!
“Surrender don’t come natural to me I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want Than take what You give that I need And I’ve beat my head against so many walls Now, I’m falling down, I’m falling on … Continue reading