"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Saturday, April 14, 2012

beauty for ashes.

Family Weekend in the Girls' House is upon us.  Every six months, the parents are all invited to come to Shelterwood at the same time.  It creates a sort of comradery among the parents when they commune with others who understand their situation.  Not only do they understand, they are each experiencing the same separation from their child that will enhance growth in both parties.  A separation that is painful.  And necessary.

Meeting these parents not only clarifies things about their daughters, but it also gives insight into the world of parenting.  As if nannying wasn't enough, I get a glimpse into this world through the eyes of the parents as we eat meals together.  My goodness, it's heartbreaking to see the hurt, the brokenness, in each of these parents as they must come to place where they say "I can't do it anymore.  I can't parent my child, so I need to send her away."  -- a humbling place, for sure.  And the parents learn.  They get counseling and learn new techniques with which to better train up their child.

And the child?  Here they are given the time and space to think through their lives, their choices, their perspectives.  They too (and they especially) learn and change, becoming more and more the beautiful women God created them to be.

I love what happens here.  Family restoration.  Redemption.  So much growth.  It doesn't come easy.

It all makes me wonder how families arrive at this point.  I mean, each family's story is different.  Each member's perspective is unique.  Yet they end up in the same place - broken at the feet of the Lord, begging for mercy, for grace, for healing, for restoration, for wholeness.

Isn't that where we all end up?

Perhaps it isn't a place to end, but a place to begin, and to remain, as God transforms us, and our lives, into the beauty he intended for them all along.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound... to comfort those who mourn...to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness... that He might be glorified.
--Isaiah 61:1-3

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

another new start.

As I wrote a few weeks ago, lent is a sacred time that I wanted to intentionally observe again this year.  I vowed to give up the personal use of my computer.  And I found myself failing at even that.

I desire so many things more than I long to be with the Lord.  I spend my free time on frivolity instead of depth.  We are such a broken people, are we not?

Sometimes I disappoint myself.  This lenten season was one of those times.  I know that God accepts us even in our brokenness; for who we are right now, not for some future version of ourselves.  We are made whole in Christ, but in an already but not yet sort of way.  We are redeemed, but not quite all the way made perfect until we are with the Lord - an interesting concept that I can't quite grasp.

One thing I do know is that there is truth in the wise words of Margaret Thatcher:
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words.Watch your words, for they become actions. Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become your character. And watch your character, for it becomes your destiny. What we think, we become."
So perhaps lent was a prime time for me, for anyone, to create new habits that bred from new thoughts.  But since it didn't create a consistency?  Well, there's no such thing as failure until you give up on a thing.  So don't give up.  Discipline, integrity, character.  Keep at it.

I think I'm about to give up my computer again, but this time not for ritual's sake, but for my own well-being.  Here's to another new start.