When It’s Easter Week And You’re Short On Hope

I sat across from her. An 8:30 breakfast on Wednesday of Easter week. But we didn’t talk about weekend plans. Instead she tells me her story. A story no one should have. A son taken from her too soon. Despite all the prayers lifted up, despite all the attempts to save him, her baby gone from this earth and all she’s left with is an ache.girl-865304_1920

So everyone celebrates life this week while she breaks.

My stomach tightens, not from the chain-restaurant omelette, but from the knot of longing. I wanted to say I understand. But how can I? Who can understand such pain? I wanted to have some great words of comfort, but none came.

What do you say to a mother who lowered her son in a grave long before his time? What do you say when it seems the whole world is erupting with spring life and hers is cloaked in winter’s chill?

Nothing.

So I listen. And I pray. And I realize that her story is sadly not rare enough. I realize that all around me lie the ruins of brokenness. I realize that the journey through this world is one split by selfishness and greed and hatred and heartache. And too often, hopelessness.

And then I remember the story.

The one where Hope stepped onto the landscape of the world, took on its brokenness and stretched it out on a cross. The one where the sky split open and grace descended.cross-828894_1920

I don’t believe most stories. I think incredible stories are mostly just that—in-credible. And this one is most incredible of all. I mean who can absorb the notion that God would come to earth and pour Himself into flesh?

Not just flesh, but infant flesh. And that He grew into a divine man with the power to heal and to forgive? And then in that power He looked behind and ahead to all mankind—to me and to you—and saw each moment?

Each broken moment. Each unholy moment. Each gunshot fired. Each drug injected. Each harsh word or cold slap. Each tear shed. That He had the power to see my pain and my disease and my injustice and…my sin, and declare it wiped away?

Who could believe such a story?

But I believe this one.

Not because someone told it to me, although I’m glad they did. Not because of a Sunday school flannel board, although it was fun. And not even because I read it in an ancient document, although I now treasure that holy book.lamp-872946_1920I believe it because His story collided with my story and it became our story.

I believe it because there was a time when I couldn’t find my way through the senselessness of my broken road and all I had were whys. There was no making sense. There was only doubt and fear and a sense that I would never be okay again.

And then that story. A man who died on a cross, yet lived. A man who stretched out His arms and declared it finished, yet just beginning. He looked though the corridors of 2000 years and saw my tears and desperation and I saw Him. And it wasn’t just a story anymore. It was Hope and Resurrected Life.

It was God with me.

Emmanuel. God with us. Then and now. Reminding us that we are not alone.

And that this is not the forever world. But there is one waiting for us that needs no words to explain it or make it make sense. A world where a mother who walked this earth years past her prime stretches renewed arms out to her young son who never reached his in an embrace that knows no sorrow.mother-and-son-887058_1920

A world where there is no more death or grief or tears or pain. A world that makes sense of all that is and was.

A world that once only existed in my make-believe mind. But I’ve glimpsed it. I got a peak into that world during my deepest suffering. The curtain was pulled back and I knew. I knew the story was true. I knew that it was possible to live when everything else was dying.

My friend knows it too.

Our breakfast dishes had been cleared away and we sipped the last of our coffee through tears and through laughter. She knows the story. Heaven came down when her son was taken up.

She suffers. She longs. She questions. Yet she knows. She believes. This broken road ends in wholeness.church-750251_1920I hope you can believe that.

I hope you can take it all in despite how in-credible it sounds. The suffering, the heartache, the senselessness. It won’t always be so. It’s only part of this journey and it isn’t forever.

If something in you has died, if all hope is lost, I hope you will believe the story. I promise you, when you look through faith’s eyes, you see what can not be seen with your own. And you can find joy despite suffering, hope despite hopelessness, and life despite death.

I’ve created Hope For the Hard Places just for you, and I’d love for you to download it or share it in anyway you find helpful.

Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you believe the story. Or if you’re not sure. I’d love to have coffee with you sometime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Alaska and Back With You Again

Oh My! So much has happened since I last posted, and I wish I could catch you up on all of it. I can’t wait to have some regular time with you again and I want you to know how grateful I am to you for continuing to check in and for being patient with me.

IMG_3307We are finally pretty well settled in Alaska, but it took us a little longer than usual. Life is always crazy as we gear up for the new fishing season and we’re never quite sure what the summer will bring, but rarely do we expect it to include a hazmat suit! Unfortunately, this year started with an unexpected and unwelcome guest–a bat!–that lived AND died (and pooped freely I’d like to add) in our sleep cabin. After a near panic attack, I got to work tearing out everything that wasn’t attached, throwing it away, and bleaching and repainting every remaining surface. This left Jon to do the fishing prep and site work all alone, so we started out a little behind but managed to be mostly ready for the first day of fishing on the 22nd in spite of it all.

Jon and the girls and I were on our own for the first day’s catch until our crew flew in that evening. He was gracious and didn’t complain about having to do the majority of the work, and I didn’t complain (much) about swollen fingers from picking fish again.

IMG_3353 IMG_3349So, now life is life again without too many surprises. It is both a simple life and a challenging one on this beach in Clam Gulch. We have a beautiful inlet view, fresh salty air, and great fishing neighbors who look after one another. Still, I occasionally walk into the cook cabin and wish I could turn a thermostat up instead of stoke a burned-out fire in the wood stove. On those cold, rainy days, I mumble, maybe even grumble, on my way to the outhouse. And at the end of a long day, there is nothing quite as irritating as crawling exhausted into a bed that feels like sandpaper–there is NO WAY to keep the beach out of our beds!

In the midst of all of it though, my family grows closer in spite of bumping into each other way too many times in a 14ftX10ft cook cabin, we learn more lessons about who we are and what we’re capable of, and we close the season knowing we’re blessed with an incredible life. This beach is where memories are made. Some that are amazing. Some that are only good after we’ve gotten through them. And many more that I wouldn’t trade for a cushy life anywhere.

In Delaware, I wear many hats that include homeschool mama, occasional speaker, so-so bookkeeper for our business, and part-time blogger.

Here in Alaska, I’m just Rita–a full-time mama and part-time fisherman who loves to share her life with you. Thanks for sharing yours with me as well.

And now, I have a summer list to get to :-),  https://motherswithamissionblog.org/2015/06/04/schools-out-adventures-in-my-summer-fun-list/

If nothing fails, I will be here next week.

Welcome to My Messy (Oops! Blessed) Life

Am I the only one who can’t find her kitchen sink right now? Who couldn’t get out of a house fire without falling over the half dozen outfits (which are all too small by the way, but that’s another post) strewn across her bedroom?

It seemed a simple thing this morning to sit down and write a few words by the end of the day. After all, I’ve had multiple experiences lately that make for hilarious reading. The problem is, I can’t seem to string two coherent thoughts together to make any sense.

Everything around me is a mess right now. My kitchen is a dish-filled mess. My room is a laundry-filled mess. And my brain is a foggy, dusty, clutter-filled mess. Please tell me you get it.

Clothes everywhere AND an unmade bed.

Clothes everywhere AND an unmade bed.

I woke up this morning with a plan. I always have a plan and am a devout scheduler, but somewhere between running out of milk and trying to balance the checkbook, it all fell apart. So, here I am with no plans for dinner, math drills that haven’t been done, and more cobwebs in my brain than there is enough coffee to clear.

It’s moments like this that I am tempted to point my finger at my family and demand why milk wasn’t written on the grocery list before it was drained and why the craft supplies were left out after the girls were finished painting their vase and why my husband has to work late on this of all nights. After all, didn’t he hear the panic in my voice when he called at lunch?

Thankfully, somewhere between my irritated heart and my unruly tongue, I had an ah-ha moment. It’s true my house is a mess right now, but that’s because I have healthy children and friends who fill it all the time. And, yes, I run out of groceries a lot but only because I have a full table every night and amazing people surrounding it. And while I wish my husband could read my thoughts and know exactly when I need him home, I realize that only happens in fiction, and I’m grateful that he loves to come home every night to be with his family. So why should I be annoyed when the very mess that irritates me is the proof of my blessings?

Life is a lot like that I think, a “messy blessing”. We plan for one thing but something altogether different comes along, something better many times, and yet we’re disappointed. We strive to juggle too many demands only to “drop the ball”, and we’re discouraged instead of relieved. We like everything to be tidy and certain but instead it’s disorderly and unsure, and we’re fearful when we could be expectant. Life’s messy. And yet, it’s good.

And it’s all that “mess”– that edge-of-your-seat-up-and-down wonder–that makes it good. It’s like being at an amusement park; you can only ride the lazy carousel so long before you get bored or you throw up.

Maybe the ride through Hershey Chocolate Factory doesn't technically count as a roller coaster, but with Kieran it should.

Maybe the ride through Hershey Chocolate factory doesn’t technically count as a roller coaster, but with Kieran it should.

You’re not meant to go round and round and look at the same scenery. Every now and then, you have to strap yourself on the roller coaster (even if it’s only in the kiddie section) to see what you’re made of.

After all, isn’t it true that the greatest courage often springs from the deepest fear, the most heartfelt joy rises from the darkest sorrow, and the most overwhelming peace settles amidst the noisiest chaos? At least in my life, blessings have rarely come without a toll and even more rarely look like I expect them to.

Tonight my blessed life looks a little messy, but that’s okay. We can eat pizza on paper plates for dinner, skip math for the night to watch Andy Griffith re-runs, and tackle the laundry pile tomorrow. Are underwear technically clean if you turn them inside out? Just curious.

Well that’s my messy blessed life. Your turn. What do your blessings look like? Look closely. God hides them in the most unexpected places.

 

 

 

 

Beyond Easter Morning

Rita Clucas smBy all normal standards (or at least my own), I totally blew Easter week this year. It came and went without a single picture worthy to put in a scrapbook or timeless moment to write about in a journal, and I’m left worrying that my kids will be in therapy one day (or worse yet, on the Dr. Phil show) because of all the things I failed to do.

We usually spend the week before Easter preparing in order to make it full of special memories, but this year everything went awry, and I simply juggled the urgent things that came until I found myself putting the turkey in the oven Easter morning, surprised that I’d managed that. Somehow though, despite my lack of planning, my running out of forks (which I’m convinced are in my husband’s truck), and my forgetting to cook the lamb (yes, I did), Easter day was amazing. I spent it with those I’m blessed to call family and I was surrounded by life, which after all is what it’s all about. And I learned something. This Easter was a lot like my own life. My long line of mishaps, missed opportunities, and downright failures became something beautiful when God showed up.

I know that not all of you share my faith, and I understand because even I too often forget what my faith is all about and the power it holds. I forget how the God who raised a body to life also can and does resurrect the dead places in my heart and my life brought by fear, pain, loneliness, rejection, and loss. He took my complete failure as a young wife and gave me a captivating marriage. He took my pitiful efforts to be a perfect mom and gave me amazing children. He took my lost hopes and unfulfilled dreams and gave me a life I wouldn’t have known how to dream. Easter reminds me that God not only traded his life for mine so many years ago, but he continues to do so daily if I let him “because God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14).

I don’t know what you need to trade or what needs resurrecting in your life; maybe it’s a marriage that’s barely hanging on, a relationship with your teenager or grown child that’s been cold for too long, or maybe even just joy for the endless tasks at hand. What I do know is that there’s hope and that it extends far beyond Easter morning.

It’s the reason Easter is so much more to me than a flurry of egg hunts, Easter bunnies, and way too much candy. It is a reminder that I’m okay, or at least that I will be, no matter what. It’s proof that all that is dead can live again and that I can trade in all my failures for God’s abundance. He’ll do the same for you just for the asking.

Easter isn’t a day. It’s a life. Enjoy every moment of it!