Broken and in need

“If God can accomplish His purposes in this world through a broken heart,
then why not thank Him for breaking yours?”

Oswald Chambers


(The Spectatror)

So yesterday I wrote a bit of a confession.

I confessed that whereas I had proclaimed, just a few days prior, that there would
be absolutely no tree this year—suddenly on Sunday, there was a tree.

And thus Tricia, over on Freedom Through Empowerment, in her vast wisdom,
made a most profound observation…one that I just had to share.

The backstory as to why I had I opted on no tree was that
no one was coming home this year.
It would just be me and my husband and that would be a tremendous amount of work for
just the two of us.

Another reason as to why I was not going to put up a Christmas tree was
the fact that one of the tubs that housed my porcelain angels
and age-old nutcrackers fell off of a shelf back in June when I was moving
the older Christmas ornaments out of the deathly hot Georgia attic
to a spare closet.

In the midst of moving, I heard the crash and the ensuing breaking of both
angel and nutcracker alike…
and in turn, the breaking of a piece of my own personal keeping of Christmas.

I immediately told myself that I’d deal with it all in October as it was just more
then I could bear.
At the time—October was far enough away and just seemed like a good time to
think about putting the pieces back together.

Yet October came and went…came and went without any sort of attempted repair.
It was a burden I just wanted to ignore.

I was getting too old for the meticulously gluing back together of the pieces
of so many Christmases past—it was simply more then I what I felt up to doing.
It seems that everything I own or hold precious, in this little corner of life,
has been pieced back together and glued at some point or other.

Knowing that so many of the treasures of my past were now in a thousand shards
and pieces was frankly overwhelming…does everything have to break?!

I knew the work that it was going to take to laboriously sort then attempt to
glue all those broken angels and nutcrackers back together.
Tiny little arms, noses, bases, wings, ornamentation…
Many I had long before I married….going all the way back to high school.

Not expensive really, but just threads of what it is that has helped to make me.

They are the tangible pieces of those who I have loved and who are no longer here.
Those now broken bits being the physical links…the memories of gifts given,
of tiny “treasures”, gathered together.
Each one having a face and a specific memory behind it.

And so I finally dug in on Sunday.
I sorted and started gluing.
Following which, I put up and trimmed the tree…piecemeal angels and all.

Yet my friend Tricia made a very keen observation:

Beautiful tree Julie!
And really, the broken pieces glued together make it all the more glorious.
Kind of like our savior piecing our broken selves together to a more magnificent product.
Merry Christmas Julie!

And what a revelation!

Here I had what I thought to be a total disaster but in actuality, it was
a telling reminder.

It was a reminder, as well as a lesson, of my very own being.

More than me having come from the memories of trinkets given, past down over the years…
It was actually me being something and someone who was and is so much more.

It is the story of a Savior, who has come to put back together my very own brokenness.
Piecing me back together in order that I might be made whole once again.

Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

A Son, a Savior, who is given as a gift for all mankind?
The bridge that spans the chasm of divide, uniting once again both God Creator
and man created.

He had to come in order to put together that which was broken…broken
that day in a garden so very long ago.
As the breaking has continued down through the ages of time with no hope of repair…
not until the gift of a baby found laying in a manager on a lonely night
in the outreaches of a desert town…it was the Savior who born man that was
the hope of repair.

And so I thanked Tricia for reminding me that now, each year when I go to
decorate a tree, not only will I think of the stories behind each ornament…
of those I have loved and lost…of those whos and wheres of how each ornament
came to my tree…but from now on I will look at a handful of glued together bisque angels
and I will see their glue marks, their faults, and fractures and I will be reminded
of the absolute reason as to why I have a tree in the first place…

I will stop and remember that God sent His only son into the world to repair
the brokenness of someone like me.
And what profound joy is found in that revelation.

So thank you Tricia…thank you for reminding me of what this tree and these ornaments are
really all about…and a very Merry Christmas to you as well my friend!!

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,
lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising
God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:11-14

the precarious balance of life

Regardless of the outcome,
God can bring about eternal good from every trial.

In a hundred years, the eternal good that comes from our trial will be the
only thing that matters.
Bill Sweeney
Unshakeable Hope


(the gardinas are in bloom / Julie Cook / 2018)

I have to confess that I am about to have a broken heart.

Not a literal broken heart mind you but rather more figuratively…
yet broken none the less.

For as much as I know that God’s word has always taught me that I am not to worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will take care of itself…I can’t help but think about tomorrow…or truthfully
it’s the day after tomorrow I’m thinking about.

Those of you who know me know that my daughter-n-law and new young granddaughter came to stay
with us almost two months ago when our daughter-n-law had to go back to finish out the school year following her maternity leave.

Someone had to care for the baby…
My hand went up.

Since they actually live in Atlanta, while the school where our daughter-n-law teaches
is in our area which is a good hour or so away from their home—with a new baby,
commuting was out of the question.

And as our course of prayer has been that she can find a school and school system closer to their
world rather than our world–we learned late yesterday afternoon that that prayer has
actually been fulfilled.

She has been offered a wonderful position at a private Catholic school in Atlanta.
Our son has finally gotten a good job with a large Atlanta based company so moving, again,
was simply not an option….nor was living life in two different places.

So for these nearly two months, I’ve been chief cook and bottle washer…literally.
Throw in diaper changer, entertainer, errand runner and grandmother…the list goes on.
And whereas my body reminds me daily why God intended younger folks to have babies versus us
older folks, I have been dutiful to my labor of love.

Starting late last week, as the thoughts of their departure came looming to the forefront of
my senses and as I’d feel the hot tears bubbling upwards, I’d push it all back down..trying
not to think about it while just living in the moment of now.

And that’s the thing, I’ve never been good about living in the moment
as I’ve always been one to fret about tomorrow.

I know in my head what is the best and the right thing…and that is for mom, dad, and baby
to be all together, as they should be under one roof, as this has been a difficult time for my son.
He misses them terribly.

And with a baby…missing those little day to day changes and milestones is to any new parent,
gut-wrenching.

They have been together on weekends, as time has afforded…but the weeks have been long for
all of them…especially Alice, their black lab.

And so yes, I will be sad.

Very very sad.

All of which I will address later… because today, I don’t want to talk about it…
because, tears remember, are bubbling upward all the while as I’m being mindful that enjoying
the moment is the true importance rather than dreading the future.

So it was with this all in mind and on heart that I happened upon a most timely post
from my friend Tricia over on Truth Through Empowerment
(https://freedomthroughempowerment.wordpress.com)

Tricia was actually sharing the post from another blogger.
A post from a fellow named Bill Sweeney over on Unshakable Hope.

Bill has ALS…a disease that he has lived with now since 1996.
Of which is pretty amazing if you know anything about ALS.
To most folks diagnosed with such, it is an immediate sort of torturous death sentence.

At the time of diagnosis, Bill was given only 2 to 5 years to live.
Bill lost all movement and speech shortly following his diagnosis but he has pressed
forward since.

Bill is also an ardent Christian.

Bill could have chosen to rile at an unseen God in rage…living his remaining life in
constant anger and resentment…
rather Bill has chosen to live this life he has been given by looking through the lens
of a great and powerful God.

It was something Bill wrote yesterday in his post “Unshakable Hope” that really hit a chord
in me…

“Regardless of the outcome,
God can bring about eternal good from every trial.

In a hundred years, the eternal good that comes from our trial will be the
only thing that matters.”

The eternal Good…

And so obviously, I get that my broken heart pales in comparison to the struggles Bill
and others face on a daily basis while living with debilitating illnesses or uncurable
disease—not to mention the trials faced by the loved ones and caregivers who work to support,
love and provide for those with such overwhelming circumstances.

Yet that’s the thing…
we all have our trials…be they physical, emotional, mental, spiritual…
and those trials will ebb and flow throughout our lives…
And during the course of a life, those trials will vary in intensity and severity.

But the key will always be found in our ability to look at said trials as events
far greater than ourselves.

We, humans, tend to be narrow in our scope of vision…
with that vision being through the lens of self.

Selfish, egotistically, self-indulgent, self-wallowing, self-pity…the me-first mentality that
life and the world pretty much evolves around us and us alone.

Much how my 3-month-old granddaughter thinks and feels…it’s all about needs, wants and comfort…
but at 58, such thoughts are not as cute, attractive nor inviting but are rather toxic.

So it’s always good to be reminded that life is bigger than ourselves.
It’s also good to be reminded that God is so much bigger than we are…
and that life is an extension of His greatness.

And that the eternal good from the trials we currently experience will bear
needed fruit long after we are gone…and that’s what truly matters…

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.
God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
but with the temptation, he will also provide the way of escape, that you may
be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13

Please read Bill’s offering:

https://unshakablehope.com