• DANCE IN THE RAINLife is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain.- Vivian Greene

forgive obedient grace+

I almost threw the book against the wall.

I just couldn’t do what it was suggesting.

I wanted to ignore the words on the page, put the book back on the shelf, pretend I’d never read it. But I couldn’t. The words had caught me. And I knew somehow I needed to act on them.

The book was Francis Chan’s Crazy Love and it included this quote from Frederick Buechner. It was Buechner’s words that had stopped me in my tracks.

“The love for equals is a human thing–of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing–the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing–to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy–love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured’s love for the torturer. This is God’s love. It conquers the world.” 

The words drew me in. Echoed in my head. They haunted me.

“This is God’s love. It conquers the world.”

I was going through a difficult trial. I had been deeply hurt and didn’t really know where to turn. I was angry, seethingly angry, and wasn’t sure what to do with all my emotion. I had begged God for deliverance, peace, grace. I didn’t want to be bitter. But here I was, in the midst of it all, feeling bitterness growing day by day. I didn’t know how to stop it.

I had picked up this book as a diversion. To take my mind off the situation before me. But it was doing just the opposite.

At first I wasn’t sure why the Buechner quote had arrested me. What was I supposed to do? Was I merely touched by its eloquence? Or was there something more?

So I prayed. I asked God for clarity. And He gave it.

It wasn’t what I expected. Or wanted. So I prayed again. And God gave me the same answer. Again.

I felt God was calling me to write a letter. That I didn’t want to write. For multiple reasons.

It seemed crazy to write anything to her. Someone whose actions had terribly wounded me. Who had turned my world upside down, and inside out, never to be righted again.

Not a letter. Not to her.  Not ever. View full post »

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Ten years ago, a friend suggested that I get a service dog. Apparently some service dogs can answer the phone, carry in groceries and even do laundry. Those dogs were doing more than my family did, so I was all for getting one.

Our service dog was in housekeeping training for a year. Kramer (named after the Seinfeld character in looks and temperament) was a labradoodle, a cross between a poodle and a Labrador retriever. I’ve since heard that crossbreeding can produce unstable dogs. There’s real wisdom in that.

Kramer could have been the poster puppy for instability. Allegedly he could switch laundry and open doors, but after two weeks, he barely recognized us, ran around the house at breakneck speed, pooped in his crate, peed in the house, and ran away when I called him. He was raised in the country and became unhinged with city life. Or at least that’s what the trainer told us. I live in the suburbs – but I didn’t want to argue the point. Actually, I did, but that’s probably better handled in another post.

So Kramer went back to the country and we went back to doing our own laundry. My kids wanted another dog and insisted it would be NO work for me. All I would have to do was buy the food. They would do everything else.

Of course they would.

So five years ago I agreed to another dog. I was willing to lower my standards and didn’t expect laundry services from him. At least not right away. View full post »

  • April 25, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Jennifer - Great post! Made me smile:)ReplyCancel

  • April 25, 2014 - 4:48 pm

    Derek Riley - Thank you for your reminder that sometimes we have to do things afraid while trusting God.ReplyCancel

    • April 25, 2014 - 5:25 pm

      Vaneetha - You’re welcome, Derek. I need to remind myself of that often!ReplyCancel

  • April 27, 2014 - 5:05 pm

    Mikibo - Hi Van,
    very good story. Your good sense of humor comes through very well and of course the story closes with your belief in God, not really unexpected:-) Best MichaelReplyCancel

  • May 6, 2014 - 5:11 pm

    Ann - Thanks for making me laugh…..such good medicine for my soul. And so true, that they (our dogs) just need to know we’re around, and they want to be close to us. May I bask in the Lord’s presence in my life, and also desire just to be in His presence!! Amen.ReplyCancel

  • December 9, 2014 - 10:52 am

    LISA - Great post! Thank you for writing! I feel the same way. God is gracious and helps me through the difficult things He has called me to do but they are more often than not still painful!ReplyCancel

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cross hope+

I was sinking into a dull depression. Nothing was good and life seemed gray. Every single day.

I cried at the slightest provocation and sometimes with no provocation at all. I was falling into a black hole, and felt powerless to stop my descent.

My life had fallen apart and there was no repairing it. Everywhere I turned, things were hard.

This was one of the lowest points in my life. I was struggling to believe that God was good. That He loved me. That my situation would ever change.

I felt desperate.

My friends tried to help me as best they could. Bringing me food, praying with me, encouraging me to press on.

But despite their best efforts, I felt overwhelmed. Discouraged. Hopeless. No one could fully understand my pain.

No one can ever truly know another’s sorrow. Our sorrow is unique to us. And each of us must walk our path alone.

I was talking with some friends about how I was feeling. I didn’t really want to talk, but I knew that talking to friends was important. Especially when I wanted to pull away.

Soon after we started, I couldn’t speak anymore. I just sat there, crying.

After a long silence, one friend spoke. I will never forget her words.

“When I think of you and pray for you, I keep seeing this image. It’s of the disciples, and Jesus’ mother Mary, weeping at the foot of the cross. They are huddled together, trying to comfort each other. Trying to make sense of what has happened. But it just doesn’t make sense.

The sky is black and all hope looks lost. Their dreams have died. It seems that nothing good will ever come from this.

To them, this day, Good Friday, is the darkest day they’ve ever known.

But the one thing that they do not know is … Easter is coming.” View full post »

  • April 17, 2014 - 10:16 pm

    Amy Duncan - Thank you, Vaneetha. This is exactly what I need to hear tonight.ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 9:22 am

    Elise Demboski - Vaneetha,
    Through your pain you have brought joy and light to so many….including myself. You made me realize that pain and heartbreak can be used for good. I don’t have to be scared of the “what ifs” because God is with me through it all and, if I open myself to Him – like you have done with your life – I have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
    Love you!
    Happy Easter!ReplyCancel

  • April 18, 2014 - 1:11 pm

    Jennifer - This is one of the most powerful and beautiful things I have ever read. You have no idea how much hope and inspiration your words have given to me today. I really needed this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.ReplyCancel

    • April 18, 2014 - 2:33 pm

      Vaneetha - So thankful the Lord used this, Jennifer!ReplyCancel

      • April 18, 2014 - 3:24 pm

        Jennifer - :>) I forgot to say that while I was reading this I kept thinking of the Josh Wilson song, before I even got to the bottom. I love the line in that song that “Life is not a snapshot.” I got tears in my eyes when I saw that you had included the words to that exact song.ReplyCancel

  • April 19, 2014 - 10:19 pm

    Donna - This is what an Easter-God is all about. Amen and amen. To God be the glory!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2014 - 9:56 am

    Jim Reed - Reminded me of this video…

    A worthwhile investment in time to read as always Vaneetha…thanks.ReplyCancel

    • April 23, 2014 - 10:07 am

      Vaneetha - Great video. Thanks for sharing it Jim. Such a great reminder!ReplyCancel

  • April 23, 2014 - 8:37 pm

    J0osterhouse - I read this poem today and when I think of compassion from the blessing of tears I am reminded compassion comes with the price of being hurt. One gift is compassion.

    Thank you for sharing your pain…..here is the poem written by Saint Isaac, translated by Scott Carins

    Merciful Heart

    The heart’s pulsing ache – oh to have
    that same heart’s burning
    for persons, for birds, all manner
    of animal, and even for the demons.
    At the remembrance
    and at the sight of all such creatures,
    the merciful man’s eyes
    fill with tears which rise with a great, increasing
    compassion that wells
    and urges his heart,
    so that it grows ever
    more tender and cannot endure any
    harm or slightest sorrow
    for anything found
    in creation. Such a man
    is ceaseless in tear-attended prayer,
    even now, and even for
    irrational animals,
    and for enemies of truth,
    and for all who harm it, that they may be both
    guarded and forgiven.
    (copyright 2007 by Scott Cairns)ReplyCancel

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scratched apple+

I cringed when I saw Shelley.

She was walking straight towards me. Again. I braced myself.

I was just in fifth grade, but I had long learned that the world was cruel and no one could protect me from pain.

I steeled myself for the inevitable abuse. It was Monday, and Shelley always went after me on Mondays.

It was a few minutes before school started. “Why did I get here early? I could have avoided this,” I murmured to myself.

As soon as she reached my side, Shelley grabbed my left arm. Damaged by polio, it had almost no muscle. She shook my arm lightly, and laughed. It always seemed to amuse her.

Trying to garner more attention, she spoke loudly and sneered, “It’s so funny how your arm wiggles like that. It looks really weird.”

I was hoping that was the end, but Shelley was not finished. She grabbed my arm again, this time lifting it straight up and letting it drop. It flopped down and swung limply by my side.

Shelley smiled. By now a few people were watching. I fought back the tears as I had so many times before.

I wasn’t going to cry. Not there. Not then. I wasn’t going to give anyone that satisfaction.

Just before the teacher came in, Shelley declared, “I hope you don’t mind that. I don’t want to make you cry or anything. I just think it’s funny that’s all.”

The few people around me uncomfortably looked away. No one said anything.

I didn’t want Shelley to know how much she hurt me. So I laughed and said as casually as I could manage, “No, its fine.”

Of course it was not fine. It was cruel. And humiliating. But what could I do about it? View full post »

  • April 12, 2014 - 9:29 am

    Daniel B. - Thought you would like this! “In the domain of our personal lives, as in that of the history of the world, we must be convinced, if we want to go to the limits of our Christian faith, that God is sufficiently good and powerful to use whatever evil there may be, as well as any suffering, however absurd or unnecessary it may appear to be, in our favor. We cannot have any mathematical or philosophical certitude of this; it can only be an act of faith. But it is precisely to this act of faith that we are invited by the proclamation of the resurrection of Jesus, understood and received as the definitive victory of God over evil.” -Jacques PhilippeReplyCancel

    • April 12, 2014 - 6:19 pm

      Vaneetha - Amen! Love that quote, Daniel. Thank you for sharing it.ReplyCancel

  • April 15, 2014 - 12:43 am

    Rosie - Beautiful quote, Daniel and thank you Vaneetha, for sharing your story. What a grace God has poured over you to direct others to His Son, our redeemer and risen Lord.

    • April 15, 2014 - 9:19 am

      Vaneetha - I have been praying that I would point people to Jesus, Who heals all our wounds. Thank you, Rosie.ReplyCancel

  • April 16, 2014 - 11:47 am

    Katie - Love you mom! Thanks for being such an amazing role model! XoxoReplyCancel

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