of Salt and Sea

Have you ever missed someone so much you still look for them in crowds? You replay their voice in your mind so you never forget it. You’re scared that because it’s been so long you might wake up and it’s gone from your memory.

There was a sunset last night over the ocean and I would have waited all night if I knew you were gonna show. In my heart I wanted to share it with you, but I imagine it was so much more beautiful on your side of Heaven. I still waited a while, hoping you could be there next to me. You would ask me how I’ve been and I would bury my face in your lap. Where have you been all this time that I’ve needed you? I know where you are, but sometimes I can’t understand the distance between.

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I’ve been dreaming of you walking up to me, and I want to stay there a while, but I know we can’t live in our dreams. I drove passed your house not too long ago, it’s so much smaller than I remember as a little girl. The cement garage is gone and the paint is chipping away. I would have knocked on the door to just sit inside but I’m still as shy as the day you left me. So I sat outside for some time, missing you. I planned for you to be here forever and it hurts when things don’t turn out the way we had planned. And it hurts to think about how much time has passed, you’d think I’d feel better by now. I hoped I’d feel better by now. Everything is different since you’ve been away, and if I could go back to the day when we were all together with you I would. If you knew how much we needed you maybe you could’ve stayed a little longer. Maybe if we knew just how much we needed you we would have picked up the phone faster when you called. Oh how I wish you would call.

I’m thankful for what you’ve left behind in my mother, when she rocks her own grand babies to sleep I see you. And the way my aunt loves Jesus the way you did. I still see you in my family and it all feels like home to me.

Do you miss me as much as I’ve been missing you? Is Jesus as sweet as you said He would be? Have you saved a table in Heaven for your family? If I could have you back for just one more moment, there’s a million things I would want to say. But I think I would much rather sit quietly to hear you speak instead.

I’m waiting patiently while I watch the morning sun. In my heart you show up next to me. But I’m okay with sitting alone knowing the colors are that much more beautiful on your side of Heaven.

Happy Birthday.

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Beauty in Ashes

I was woken up by my sister last week to find out the Henry’s, who own our home and graciously allow us to live here, house burned down. I just felt pure devastation for them. They lost everything. Howard and Penny’s spirits are so good and are completely trusting The Lord. I felt so sick about it, though.

You know those moments in life that feel like they could make the saddest part of a tragic movie? I couldn’t help but think while I walked up the drive from my house to the Henry’s garage as the freezing rain pounded on my frizzy curls, that this is it, this would be the saddest part in a movie ever seen. A group of men talked in the garage so I waited until I caught Howard’s eye to approach him. I held back the tears as a peaceful wave of deep blue sea glanced over at me and a smile flooded his warm face. “There she is.” He smiled.

I told Howard we would move so they could stay in their home, so I was prepared to move out within a week. I trust Gods plan but I couldn’t help but feel selfish, too. I would miss it here so much. I would miss the country. I would miss seeing Howard and Penny spending time outside. I would miss this home. I had these plans to make a garden in the yard. To plant flowers outside the window. To pick asparagus across the street. And I felt selfish and bad for thinking of all I would miss when in their 80’s it was probably not in the Henry’s plans to lose the home they built 35 years ago and everything they owned in a fire. Sometimes we make these glorious plans in life and sometimes they fall through. But isn’t God always there to break our fall? He’s always there to catch us. His plans are always greater.

Something profound Howard said was they will build a new house in the same spot. Fire took away everything. Burned down every wall. Every door. Every possession. It’s gone. It’s ash. It has every reason to manifest hurt, pain and devastation in the same spot where there was once a home. But Gods plans are not what we expect at times. And they will rebuild. The way he said those words to me planted firm in my mind. Confident. So sure. Although the very home he built with his own hands is fallen ashes on a hill, God sees the bigger picture. And though every item they’ve ever owned has been lost, maybe at least one soul could be found in this. Maybe just one soul will see just how faithful God is in a seemingly finished situation. I walked up the drive today and the sun shined through the burned pillars and the birds still chirped and rested in their homes nearby, and God said it is long from finished.

After almost a week of being unsure of where the Henry’s will end up along with ourselves, and continually giving it to God and asking for His will, we are able to stay in our home. Thank God for providing a home for the Henry’s as they rebuild. There’s that word again. It sticks with me. It feels mighty as I say it to those who ask me what the Henry’s plans are. I’m not sure what their plans were but the Lords are to rebuild.

I looked up the definition for “rebuild“.

to repair
to strengthen

To strengthen. Through a fire God is able to strengthen their faith in Him. Through a fire others are able to witness their deep reliance in Him, and by that their own faith may be strengthened.

It reminds me of Job and how everything was taken from him. People who knew him might have felt devastated for him. They might have wondered how something like that could have happened to someone so faithful and good. No one would have blamed him for being mad at God. But he didn’t turn away. He poured everything he had left into him and he was strengthened more than ever before. Strengthened enough to rebuild. God was faithful to Job and He continues to be faithful to the Henry’s. He is always the same, never changing.

As Howard, Penny and their family prayed around the spot their old home once stood, a card was pulled from the ashes, that read “God is in control.” They plan to frame it and have it be the first item to go into their new home. Although it stings to lose what they lost, just like Penny says, they are just things, memories in their minds. We told her how sad it is to look out our back window and see a burned down home, and she laughed. “There you are complaining. How good are you with artwork? Put a plaster board in front of the window and paint something beautiful on it so that’s all you see. God brings good out of bad. We can only hope this will draw people to come to know Him. We recognize the loss but we recognize The Lord.

Don’t you want to reflect even just a small portion of their hope? I do. When all seems lost we can either stare out the back window, mourning over the ashes, feeling sorry for ourselves. Or we can put our hope in the one who has already mourned our loss long before we ever did. We can take a piece of plaster board over that window, paint a beautiful sunset and have faith that it will rise again. Because He promised it would rise again. And with that promise we can rebuild.

Lord, it’s gone. And gone is gone, so we move on.

-Penny Henry

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For I know the plans I have for you. I’ll show up and take care of you and bring you back home as promised. I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out. Plans to take care of you – not abandoned you. Plans to give you the future you hoped for. When you call on Me, when you come and pray to Me, I’ll listen. When you come looking for Me, you’ll find Me. When you get serious about finding Me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed. I’ll turn things around for you. I’ll bring you back home, you can count on it.

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