Friday, March 16, 2007

Streams In The Desert

"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Streams in the desert...Because I have given streams in the desert, To give drink to my chosen people." Isaiah 43:19-20

Yesterday I was in the desert.

I grieved all afternoon for many different things. It seemed as I began grieving the loss of Ansley, I began to realize other losses and longings in my life to grieve as well. I cried...and I cried. I cried out to God.

It was as if I'd been hit by a Tidal Wave of grief that continued to swell bigger and bigger in my heart. However...God provided Streams in my desert! He pulled me up and out of my grief into the joy of the love that He has for me!

Some of the ways God answered my cries:

DESERT - The suffocating loss I was feeling for Ansley...

God provided a time for me to share with my dear friend Tracie. One of the only people here in Knoxville that I feel can begin to understand my grief. She has experienced loss in her life to a severe degree. She understands...She knows...

I called and left her a message to pray for me. She immediately called me back. She listened. She shared. Her words directed my heart to the Father. And, SHE PRAYED FOR ME!! The time of prayer was the turning point of my day.

DESERT - Grieving my relationship with Reid...

As I hung up the phone with Tracie, I realized that I had (as Tracie very subtly and gently pointed out) not given Reid the opportunity to share in my pain. As ONE in marriage, I needed to share with him what I was feeling. (Truthfully, I should have actually talked to him first, but I believe God walked me through conversations in the proper order.)

Anyway, I called Reid and asked him to pray for me. He did. I shared with him many of the things I felt I was grieving. I shared that since returning home from Ansley's service on Feb. 18th, I felt as if we had drifted further and further apart. I MISSED HIM! I LONGED FOR HIM! I WANTED TO BE UNITED WITH HIM!

Reid heard me. He hurt for me. He prayed for me. How precious to begin the process of restoration of our relationship.

DESERT - Feeling alone in my grief...

It was now time to pick the boys up from school. Upon entering the van, Mason immediately asked me what was wrong. He could tell I had been crying. I simply said, I was missing Ansley. He understood.

He came home and started his guitar lesson with Kenny. HE RECORDED THE SONG HE WROTE FOR ANSLEY! How beautiful! What a gift to me from the Lord! He played and sang...sang and played. Mason wrote the chords for the music and the words to the song! I felt so blessed to just stand and listen. Swept away in joy for the impact Ansley had made on his short life, and unbelievably grateful that Mason has been able to express himself through music.

The song, if I do say so myself, is quite good.

The chorus says, "I want to thank you...for being Christ to me...for being Christ to me..." Wouldn't we all wish that to be the impact we have on another life??

How precious for God to give me that sweet gift, and realizing that this is a blessing that could not have come without the grieving process.

DESERT - Wondering if I would ever experience the depth of friendship I had in High Point with a friend here in Knoxville...

One of the sweetest memories I have with Ansley is reading "Streams In The Desert" by LB Cowman. Reid gave me the book on Valentine's Day 2004 during my own cancer journey. The older boys were staying with Wendy and Adam and our 6 week old Braden was with my dear Aunt Connie. I was forced to send them away because of my inability to care for them as my body prepared to receive treatment. Anyway, it is a precious book to me.

When Ansley was diagnose with Breast Cancer, I gave her the book. In the front of it I inscribed the following:

"Let me hear of your loving kindness in the morning;
For I trust in you;
Teach me the way in which I should walk;
For to You I lift up my soul.
Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I take refuge in You.
Teach me to do your will,
For You are my God;
Let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
For the sake of Your name, O LORD, revive me.
In Your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
And in your loving kindness, cut off my enemies
And destroy all those who afflict my soul,
For I am Your servant."
Psalm 143:8-12

As Ansley and I journeyed on the suffering road together, I continued to refer back to these verses. "Teach me in the way in which I should walk...Teach me to do your will...For You are my God...For I am Your Servant..."

I continue to cling to God's promises in this passage. God will "teach me" in these current places of pain where I have not traveled before.

The passages in "Streams In the Desert" are about a Godly perspective suffering and persevering in them. Ansley and I would call one another to say, "Have you read Streams today?...I thought about you today when I read the passage....You need to read Streams in the Desert today. Everything is about what you are dealing with...Remember the passage we talked about last night? Well, that same passage in Streams for today. You have GOT to read it!!"

When Ansley and I went on the cruise this summer, one of the greatest memories from that trip was the day she stayed in bed. We talked about so many things. And, I read aloud different passages from "Streams in the Desert." Many days were marked with specific milestones of her journey...the day of diagnosis, the day of her mastectomy, the day of beginning treatment, etc...

All throughout my own copy I have many of the same notations, and also notes about my own struggles and trials. So many of which were intertwined with Ansley's. I can remember reading different entries and feeling like I was reading them for Ansley and how she would receive the words written. Then calling her and telling her to READ IT!

This book was so significant in Ansley's life that it was one of the items chosen to represent her life at the service. Kelsey placed it on a table along with some other things (her cloud shirt, the EAR shirt, smell-good sticks, etc...) outside the sanctuary.

All of this to say, the book has immense meaning and significance to me, and I have passed it along to others struggling with difficult circumstances.

One of the people I shared it with was Tracie. I remember giving it to her the first day I went to her house. (I even think I spelled her name wrong when I inscribed the front of the book.)

Back to the desert of wondering if I would ever experience the depth of friendship I had in High Point with a friend here in Knoxville...

The phone rings...I answer...Tracie says, "Have you been reading your Streams In the Desert? You have got to read March 14th!"

Honestly, I nearly dropped the phone. These were words I had only heard and shared with Ansley in the past... I am awestruck by the answers God gave me this afternoon.

It was God's STREAM IN MY DESERT! What a sweet gift from God!

I went and read the passage. One of the lines says, "Do not be afraid to enter the cloud descending on your life, for God is in it." How I experienced that this afternoon.

I actually made a new notation in my copy of the book. I wrote, "Tracie Ancelet called and asked me to read this. Today has been the hardest day yet since Ansley's passing. How sweet God is to let me taste some of the sweetness of friendship with someone else."

DESERT - feeling isolated from my friends in High Point...

I was feeling like I had lost everything from the 11 years of my life in High Point. I had not spoken to Amy in over a week. Yet, in our last conversation we both promised not to let so much time go by before we called. I was missing her!

She called.

We both connected on our feelings, because we were both feeling exactly the same thing. And...WE LAUGHED!! Oh, that felt SO good!! It's Amy's way!! She always makes me LAUGH!!

We talked about my move to Knoxville. Was I really supposed to be here? Should we move back? Then she asked "How did I know we were supposed to be here?"

I said that I needed to be "out of the way" so that Kelsey and Ansley's relationship could be what it was supposed to be. And, for Ansley and Todd's relationship. (Although I didn't say it, I know our move was also for our marriage and for healing.)

Then Amy said that she and Glenn were doing great. I told her that I remember God revealing that to me at the Women's Retreat. I needed to be "out of the way" so that Amy could stand on her own faith. Not mine.

I realize my response was more about the changes in High Point than actually knowing our place here in Knoxville. I know Reid and I are still figuring that out.

The time with Amy on the phone was "balm to my soul." It was so sweet to reconnect with my "sheltering tree." My precious friend!

DESERT - What is my place here? Am I making a difference anywhere?

Questions that plagued my thoughts. I didn't feel "I" mattered in anyone's life.

Then, I walked out to the mailbox.

Becca sent me a card. I cried when I read it. Her words were soooo humbling.

She said, "I believe you are an answered prayer because I sought the Lord for a long time, asking Him for a friend, a Godly woman who would encourage me in my walk with Him and in my marriage. God is good and lovingly answers prayer.Thank you for your honesty and insight. My marriage and life in general are now centered on God because you chose to mentor me. Love, Becca"

I was soooo humbled. God chose, in His goodness, to use me (???), in my brokenness, to answer a prayer in Becca's life. I am overwhelmed. I know any goodness that comes from me is only the LOVE OF JESUS infused in my spirit. Not me! How grateful I am that HIS love, HIS grace, HIS insight and HIS wisdom are found the words I have spoken to her.

What can I do but fall at the feet of my Savior and thank Him for his goodness.

Becca's walk has INSPIRED ME! I love that she shares her struggles, and her openness about the temptation to go the "wandering way." However, God has given me His eyes to see her as an OVERCOMER with His strength and power. How thankful I am that God has given me a front row seat to witness all that He is doing and will do in her life. Truly, I am honored.

A quote by Edward Bulwar-Lytton she included in the card states, "A good friend will sharpen your character, draw your soul into the light, and challenge your heart to love in a greater way." May we do that for each other in the love of Christ!

God used Becca's words to answer my prayers and cries out to His throne. Thank you, Lord!

DESERT - My unfulfilled expectations of family since moving to Knoxville...

I thought when we moved to Knoxville that I would see my family A LOT. I thought we would "live life together."

In some ways that has happened. In others, it has not. It makes me sad.

However, in God's goodness, and in answer to the prayer I prayed, God gave me such a sweet time with Wendy on the phone. Her heart is one I soooooo admire!!

She lives for the Lord in ALL areas of her life, and God has always used her words to encourage and sharpen me as a Believer. It was the same last night.

I shared my heart and she encouraged. I know she felt my hurt, and hurt alongside me. Wendy is always so faithful with her words.

Up until now, I have not had as much time as I would like with her, but even if that does not change, God showed me again today that she is always there for me. Her discernment in speaking comes from Scripture - not words of this World. I am thankful for that!

What a blessing for God to show me the gifts He has given me within my own family!!

DESERT - Again, my relationship with Reid...longing to be ONE with him...

I was waiting for Reid to come home last night.

Oh, I longed for him to come in and hold me tight. Just a tight hug for his wife with puffy raccoon eyes. His wife who was at the end of herself emotionally from such a wonderfully painful day.

I think I looked out the window 6-7 times after 5:30 just waiting to see his white Maxima in the driveway.

Finally, Reid came home. What a comfort to rest in his strong arms. Just holding my fragile state within his embrace. I NEEDED THAT!

To be in Reid's arms made me feel so safe. My own protective shield. My own place of refuge and safety. In my opinion, resting in the "shadow of God's wings" must feel something like that. Safe. Secure. Protected.

We enjoyed a nice dinner and later that night we talked. We talked and shared in ways we haven't since the returning from Ansley's service in High Point. He heard my heart and I heard his. It was wonderful.

I felt like we were ONE. We were UNITED! We were CLOSE!

What a blessing to have Reid for my husband! God uses Reid's life witness to speak to me in so many ways. Such a Godly man, who goes faithfully to his knees each morning to pray for me. Wow!

Yesterday was full of incredible blessings, but the greatest blessing I received was last night when Reid shared with me the verse he prayed for me yesterday morning.

Reid lifted me up to the Throne of Grace and prayed the following verses over my day:
"Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Streams in the desert...Because I have given streams in the desert, To give drink to my chosen people." Isaiah 43:19-20

In answer to Reid's prayer, God filled my day with Streams in the desert! How great is my God!!


TedTracie said...

I am so thankful for the streams yesterday! May they be yours each and every day! His mercies are new every morning... GREAT IS HIS FAITHFULNESS!
I love you

Reid said...

You are my joy!
We are close to celebrating our 12th anniversary, but connecting with you always has the excitement of something new.