Fresh Air Blog

Scars of Trust

Scars of Trust

It felt like a punch in the gut. My husband and I wrote this for the classifieds: FREE older playground set, complete with swings, slide, and climbing fort.  First person to pick it up, gets it! We fielded constant calls before a couple finally padded across our lawn, inspecting their potential treasure. “Oooh…” they gushed.  “Our kids will looove it!  But we can’t pick it up until Monday.  Is that ok?” The couple won us over, so we deviated from our first-picker-upper-gets-it plan.  We shook on it, and it was a done deal for Monday. We thought. Monday was family rafting day.  We told the couple we wouldn’t be home when they came.  “But no worries.  You can help yourself to the backyard and have at it!” The thought of returning home to a yard that looked bigger and less cluttered gave me something to look forward to. After our fun in the sun, we stepped in our backyard and…  Wowsa!  Our playground set was still there.  Partially still there.  Partially disassembled in bits of lifeless pieces on the other side of our property, away from the lonely remaining fort. Closer inspection revealed they’d stripped the screws.  It didn’t take a detective to figure out they had probably become frustrated with the old wood, given up, and walked away.  With the swings and teeter-totter.  The goodies.  I remembered how they’d asked for them on their first visit, but I’d told them to wait until they picked up the whole shebang. What could have blessed someone else was now a useless mess.  How could they do this? I stared at the remaining structure and named it “a monument of rejection,” a tall looming proof of our mistake. I pictured the sweet little lady who came to my door the previous day, asking, “Can I give you my number in case they change their mind?” “They won’t,” I assured her.  “They love it.” It struck me ~ I didn’t even have the couple’s number.  Well, I did; it was buried in the sea of caller IDs, along with everybody else’s number who wanted it.  Before. Rrr… R is for Reject My head ached at the thought of my husband ripping up the remains for the junkyard. “Don’t worry,” he said.  “Maybe they’ll be back.”  But I could tell he didn’t count on it. One day turned into two, three, four, then...

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Everything Happens For A Reason?

Everything Happens For A Reason?

“How can it be possible that everything happens for a reason?  Some things are too painful!”  Has a hurting friend ever said this?  How did you respond? “In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” 1 Peter 3:15 As Christians, our hope isn’t based on feelings and circumstances; it’s based on God’s character, Sovereignty, and unshakable love. The bright Jewel of heaven went through hell for us.  Why?  Because He’s all about redeeming our broken places. Look How He Cares God knows we don’t suffer in a vacuum.  Just days from His death, Jesus took time to love and care for His hurting disciples.  The changeless One wants to do the same for us!  The defender of the innocent, the Father to the fatherless, will make a way where there is no way.  He will redeem, and He will never waste an ounce of His children’s pain. “He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18 Look At The Cloud of Witnesses One of my favorite Bible stories that best illustrates Romans 8:28 (All things work together for good to those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose), is the soul-tingling story of Joseph. Joseph was a young boy when he lost his mother, Rachel, as she gave birth to Joseph’s brother, Benjamin.  Joseph’s siblings hated their father’s favorite, so they threw Joseph into a pit to kill him.  Then, realizing they could get twenty pieces of silver for him, they sold him as a slave to some travelling Ishmaelites. Look For Wisdom Joseph’s life consisted of a series of ups and downs; but, most of the ups didn’t surface until he was older.  Joseph’s life reminds us that we need to hold on; our story isn’t over! God gave Joseph favor and wisdom and made him governor over Egypt.  He revealed to Joseph that there would be a severe famine, so Joseph could get prepared.  The famine struck all the way to Canaan, so Joseph’s brothers journeyed to Egypt for handouts.  Because many years had passed, Joseph’s brother didn’t recognize Joseph in his high position. Look For Jesus Joseph became a picture of Christ when Joseph saw his brothers but they didn’t see him.  Although his...

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Ok, God, I’m Listening

Ok, God, I’m Listening

Prayer with a friend stopped short when I received a call from the school secretary saying, “Justin was in an accident during gym class.” Racing for the soccer ball in a one-on-one game against time, my eleven-year old collided heads with another boy. Arriving at the nurse’s office, my son lay flopped on her bench with an icepack to the back of his head, eyes glazed. The doctor said he suffered a concussion.  A CT scan showed a fracture to his temporal bone, the part of his skull behind the ear. My pastor’s words rang in my spirit, dangling with a question mark: “When we go through trials, we need to ask God what He wants to teach us.” Ok, God, I’m listening… I distilled my trial into two basic, albeit challenging, lessons on trust and thankfulness. Justin’s injury caused hearing loss in his right ear.  It could have been worse; but what if his hearing didn’t return to normal? I reminded myself:  Thankfulness is an act of obedience, an active by-product of trust.  Knowing God is in charge gives us a big bouquet of reasons to rejoice. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 After I trusted God in one area, he stretched my trust in another. Two weeks after Justin’s accident, while I was away at a writer’s conference,  I woke up one morning unable to move my right arm!  It had been sore before conference, but now it screamed! Ok, God, I’m listening… Trust and thankfulness. But. it’s. hard. to. trust. when. you’re. in. the. dark. Everyone asked, “what’s wrong?”  Oh ~ if only I knew! A year and a half earlier, I had mysteriously injured my rotary cuff.  I’ll never forget it because it happened the same week, “A Friend in the Storm” released.  Again I was miles away from home; and again it hit my right shoulder.  I’d been healed when someone prayed for me before.  Hadn’t I?  What was going on?  In the middle of a conference I looked forward to all year, I felt scared, helpless, confused. Ok, God, I’m Listening… Shining her usual heart of gold, my agent directed me to a doctor, a pain specialist, who just “happened” to be at the conference. With my arm in a sling, everyone...

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Redeeming Sensitivity

Redeeming Sensitivity

Susan Delaney was mad at herself.  After a misunderstanding with her coworker, she willed her voice and face to stay intact.  But she lost the battle.  As she stood in his office, her eyes misted and her lips quivered. With no turning back, she wondered, will he understand?  In light of his knowledge about her current stress, she guessed yes.  When she first got the job, Dan reminded her of a father-like figure.  A whole lot better than her father, actually. “Are you trying to manipulate me?”  The question jolted her, cutting deeper.  She last heard it from the lips of her former fiance.  Manipulation – seriously?  She just wanted understanding.  Couldn’t a guy grasp that?  She wanted Dan to see her viewpoint so she wouldn’t shrink beneath his harsh eye of judgment and scrutiny. “Please excuse me,” she said, slipping into the hall so he wouldn’t see her floodgate.  The last thing she needed was for him to further question her motives. “Susan?”  The voice came from Jane Turner, the second last person she needed to see right now.  Susan gave her a quick wave, hoping Jane would understand she was in a hurry to get to the restroom. Jane was cold and hard as polished stone, the kind of lady Susan envied at these times.  If Jane had been talking to Dan, she would have held it together.  She would have calmly laid out the facts, maybe even put Dan in his place.  Jane wouldn’t second-guess herself, wishing she’d said this or that.  Most importantly, Jane wouldn’t crumble at someone’s suggestion that she was far too sensitive and maybe needed medication.  ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Friend, are you extra-sensitive like Jane?  Are you a warm, tender-hearted person who would love to hug the whole world, but at the same time, stay steer clear of those cool, unemotional types who always seem so painfully distant? God wants to meet you right where you’re at today.  He accepts you, but he also wants to strengthen you.  He wants to fashion all your inward parts for his glory.  But that’s not all.  He also wants to teach you to fear him more than you fear man.  Where man has this amazing talent of messing up, God never does. Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the LORD means...

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A Time To Die?

A Time To Die?

Leaves litter the ground, reminding me how seasons bleed, one into the next, as quick as a blink, while God waits for us to catch new vision. I kick back on the swing, crunching my feet in fresh crisps of color as I mull over memories of my dear Aunt Shirley.  How strange I can’t call her anymore. As sudden as a Minnesota temperature drop, her brain aneurism leaves my own brain reeling. I crumble squeeze a bright orange leaf, blink away pictures of us splashing together at her cottage, of us wizening from sun and water, coming out smelling like fish. I see Aunt Shirley in the raspberry jam my son grunts to open, in the chocolate kisses my husband gives me, and in all the Avon products my mom personally delivered from Canada. This is the only Aunt I’ve known, the one who lost her only son in a car accident on his way home from college, the Aunt who fought breast cancer and won.  Gone because of a headache that wouldn’t quit. Leaves twirl from the trees, faster with each gust of breeze, but my mind slows, leaning itself against an empty prayer place.  It’s strange how I no longer need to pray for my aunt.  Stranger still, how quickly I find myself filling those empty prayer spaces that fill me like air waiting to be exhaled. The air is thick as I think about cancer in my friend’s young husband who was just moved to hospice.  Winter’s trying to come too early, trying to crush some kind of summer-wonderful.  Yes, this man is full of wonder, husband and father of three sweet girls.  One of the good guys, hungry to live and give. I fling a leaf off my laptop, imagining Jonathon fighting a pain I’ve never known.  My closest comparison would be giving birth, but what kind of comparison is that?  Other than the fact that I, too, was pumped with drugs, decisions, and prayers.  Except, don’t both kinds of pain lead to new life? I don’t fight the sob that slips from my hollow places.  I like the word “hollow” because it reminds me of hallowed, the King James way I learned our Lord’s prayer. “Hallowed be thy name.” Matthew 6:9 Wasn’t that the part before, “Your Kingdom come.  Your will be done.  On earth as it is in heaven…”? A groan escapes...

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