I listened to the swish, swish, swish of my slippers shuffle on the kitchen floor as I opened the microwave to warm up a cup of coffee. I drank a few sips and headed to make the bed. Later, I searched for my coffee mug and spun around a few times looking for it. Oh, found it! By then it was cold again. Yikes! I should just get started. I appeared busy, but I was simply stalling. I didn’t want to face what I had on the docket for the day.
I then received a text from my cousin Annie. I’d asked her to hold me accountable to blog and organize things so I can start the potentially painful and much-needed process of writing another book.
She’s excellent at reminders, better than any phone app could ever be. She regularly notifies me about each resolve I have declared. Today was no exception. Good morning Sunshine! It’s blogging day! And start making a pile of all the things you’ll need to dig into in a few weeks.
I delayed the inevitable task long enough. Just get moving! I rummaged through a few baskets and boxes for past calendars, my journals and the cards I’d received. I climbed up and down steps repeatedly during my search. I looked in coffee table drawers and on bookshelves as I gathered my journals from the last 4-5 years.
I opened each one, looked at the handwriting and began to read a few of the sections. Some sentences instantly brought me back to the preserved moment. I noticed the writing was indicative of the condition of my heart. Sometimes I wrote over the pages in all different random directions. It was as if my thoughts couldn’t land in any order on the page. It was chaotic writing, but it was a chaotic time.
It was a difficult time for me and my family. This trial felt like it came out of nowhere and hit me like a MAC truck. Grief related to loss had thrown me off. These points of confusion were now preserved on paper and demonstrated through my own troubled handwriting. Sometimes large scribblings filled the pages. Each notebook contained a mixture of the following:
- personal journal
- sermon notes
- song lyrics
- my response to Bible passages
- prayers to God
- personal reflections
- questions and confessions.
No, stop reading! Just look for the start and end dates! Then collect them and put them in chronological order. I reached in the kitchen drawer and drew out a black Sharpie marker and began to label each journal with a sticky note near the top.
I marked them all. Phew! Progress. I read a few of the cards I’d received. Next, I glanced at the calendars where I had recorded something I’ve prayed about each day. I came to a circled date in mid September 2014. This calendar entry noted a phone conversation I had with my daughter Grace.
The conversation occurred while I was speaking at a retreat in northern Michigan. I immediately envisioned the step on which I sat in the sun. I could feel the breeze on my face. I remember I was outside my cabin when this call came in. This memory was both precious and painful to recollect. I stopped.
I had to stop and cry out to God. The memory was so vivid. It was beautiful and absolutely precious. In the “time warp thing” it felt as if it had just happened yet it seemed extremely distant like it were decades ago.
The pleasure and pain I experienced caused fresh tears to flow. I miss her! I just miss my daughter Grace! God, I know you are good and you are in charge but it still hurts and I don’t know if I can write about it today or anytime soon.
I’m not certain how long I sat there crying but eventually I did get up. I was hungry and needed to eat some lunch and possibly exercise too. I descended the stairs still in my pajamas and slippers. The familiar sound of my slippers shuffling rang in my ears. Okay, it’s no longer breakfast and coffee time. You, my dear, had better make yourself somethin’ to eat.
As I assembled a salad of fresh greens, beets, olives and chopped celery, I reached for the few remaining salt and pepper cashews I had in a cabinet. Only a handful… Well, that’ll do. Perfect! I wouldn’t want to let these babies go to waste!
I tugged on the refrigerator door and opened it with a grin. Yay! That yummy zesty dressing I made yesterday is in here. I had a jar of horseradish pickles, which no longer had any pickles in it, just juices, so I spooned out stone ground mustard and added it, whisked both together and poured the mixture through a funnel into a glass dressing bottle.
Fabulous! I chuckled as I exclaimed, “I’ve used whatever is available today to make my lunch and along with yesterday’s concoction, I haven’t wasted anything!” What’s true in the natural is true in the spiritual! I heard my spirit agree with the Spirit of God which said, You know Rachel God doesn’t waste anything either. I mused. Yeah, yesterday I thought, I can’t throw away this pickle juice…it could be used for something!
I believe God doesn’t waste one day of my life, one hard thing in my life, or one tear shed during my life. He uses it all and nothing is wasted.
Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. Psalm 126:5 –6
You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8(NLT)
I finished eating my delicious salad. These thoughts came to me. I’m glad I started organizing my journals and looking through things. You know Rachel you aren’t the same person your were when you wrote on the pages of those journals all those years ago. You have been beautifully changed and shaped by God through the hardest of times. THIS IS NOT WASTED IN YOUR LIFE.
As I rose, so did my hope. You see, I know God:
- is for me not against me.
- causes all things to work together for my good. (So, as Kris Vallotton always says,” If it’s not good- it’s not over!”)
- is with me in hard times.
- is close to the broken-hearted.
- saves those who a crushed in spirit.
- is near.
- is good.
- loves me.
- is a restorer and reconciler.
- keeps my tears in a bottle.
- is a way maker.
- is a rock on which I can stand.
- has already won the battle. I fight from victory not for victory
I had to remind myself today and now I’ll remind you. No matter what you’re facing, no matter how long your trial or season of difficultly may be, no matter what wilderness you are walking through, remember He uses it all and nothing is wasted! Not even your tears.