Saturday, July 28, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tea

A Perfect Heart
Morning sun light of creation
Grassy fields of velvet flow
Silver clouds a shimmering curtain
He's designed a perfect world
I'm amazed at His talents
I stand in awe of one so great
Now my soul begins to sing out
To the source from which it came

Bless the Lord who reigns with beauty
Bless the Lord who reigns with wisdom and with power
Bless the Lord who reigns my life with so much love
He can make a perfect heart.
I'm giving you my Sunday Afternoon Tea ponderings on this Saturday evening because I may not be able to spend much time on the computer tomorrow.

I've been thinking these past couple of weeks, pondering the subject of having a thankful heart. The beauty of summer in this rural area has left me nearly breathless at times. While many places in our state has had drought conditions, our area has had enough rain that everything looks so green and lovely. We had a couple of weeks where the green turned just a little brown in places but a few days of soothing rains made everything perk up. I have been so thankful for those rains and for the lovely surroundings that follow.

However, my memories have been going back to a time I had to choose to have a thankful heart. For some reason (and I really do not know what it is), I have not been able to get my mind off of our year and a half we spent living in the Detroit area. I remember the first days living there and the near panic I felt at leaving a University town only to find myself living with a million people surrounding me within a square mile. (Not to mention that I grew up in a town of 800 people.)

For one thing, I was physically exhausted after having our house on the market for nearly a year. Not only was I homeschooling during this time but my husband had been living for part of that year with his brother (where he could find work) and then he had already been living in Detroit for a few months after finding a job there (we were waiting to move until our house was sold). So I had the responsibility to keep our house "show ready"alone, for at least six months. Not to mention I was quite ill and it wasn't until a week before I moved that I was (misdiagnosed) as having developed Type 2 diabetes. That assumption nearly cost me my life a little later.

So...God had sent me to Detroit, a place I had once told Him was the last place I ever wanted to live. I was sick, alone with my son almost all of the time (neither of us made any real friends while there), rarely having a car since my husband travelled all the time and needed ours to go to and from the airport (which is actually near Ann Arbor). The first few weeks I felt ...dismal.

As I became quiet before Him, I knew God was speaking to my heart that Song I had heard before. I heard it when we lived in Iowa for four years in a community that...well, if your family hadn't lived there for at least three generations you weren't really accepted. I heard the same Song when we had moved from Iowa with no job but only the hope of one. I remember the Song playing in my spirit my mind ...when we had lived in one room of a hotel with two adults, a teenager, a four year old, two cats, and a room full of fleas. My daughter went to high school with flea bites on her ankles. God kept us there for a couple of months...but I heard the Song.

There is something interesting about that Song. You hear it clearer the darker your world, the more there is to fear. When you make the choice to look for Him in the darkness, to choose to find something to thank Him for hear the Song ...and the Song brings Light to your world.

I stopped longing for the things I had left behind in our former town daughter and her husband (for they had not yet moved to New England), friends, my family, a beautiful home and neighborhood, dreams for the future that fell apart, familiar stores and surroundings, favorite parks and other locations ...all left behind for the unfamiliar city.

I began to choose a Pollyanna attitude as we looked for things to be thankful for in our new city. It was the Song that led us to our favorite diner just across Schoenner and five minutes from our door where we would have breakfast each day Dad left for the airport to go to New England, or to Europe; to the Greek restaurant owned by the guy who would always stop to talk to Christopher when we would walk there for lunch; to garage sales (not buying anything too heavy to carry back at least a mile, my feet were still in good shape at that time); to the delightful produce store around the corner where we were three minutes away from fresh fruit and veggies; to the outer suburbs where we could travel when dad was home with the car. We delighted in finding new sites and sounds that we would never have known if we had not moved to Detroit.

We never did find a church to attend or neighbors we felt comfortable with so we were often alone. Dad would be there on weekends and the evenings when he was in town. I learned to never go anyplace alone at night, to be careful talking to strangers, and to stop carrying a purse but to keep my billfold hidden and close to me (I used a fanny pack that faced the front.) All three of us were uncomfortable with the racial tension of the area.

However, It wasn't until I looked back on our time there that I realized God had given us a gift. It didn't look like one until I heard the Song which one finds only when developing a heart that looks for that which to praise Him ...and for which to be thankful. For that year and a half gave me time to rest and to "nest". He made me braver than I was before as I daily had to conquer fears.

Not everything was perfect, it never, never, ever perfect. I watched the stress of the constant travel and extremely long hours taking its' toll on my husband's health. He was in charge of the Quality Assurance Department of the company in Detroit and "out East". Not to mention the trips to Europe. This would end up being his last professional position and the need to eventually go on Social Security Disability.

As for me, I had been taking the diabetes medicine prescribed by my doctor before leaving "home". I was seeing another doctor in a nearby suburb. I was also continuing to lose weight until my clothes now hung on me and I looked a shadow of my former self. It was my husband who decided I must see a specialist and within a few minutes, he told me I had not developed Type 2 diabetes but Type 1 ...Juvenile Diabetes.

Why? It could have been all the stress from the past ten years. It could have been from a virus that attacked my immune system. He didn't know the cause but what he did know was the doctor I had been seeing for a year was letting me die right before her eyes. I should probably have already been on insulin for at least two years. (She later said she assumed I wasn't watching my diet properly.) I never again fully recovered my health. For awhile it was hard to hear the Song.

My husband was transferred to work full time at the Eastern plant and we were thrilled. Then, because of 9/11, just as we were getting ready to move, that plant was suddenly closed and he was out of work. We would leave there and spend a little over a year renting a house (in the woods) in Western Michigan. I don't know why we were led there but I know He did the leading, just as He wanted us in Detroit. For that, I honestly have no doubt ...I don't understand it but I know He was leading.

This began our year with no income once the unemployment ran out. However, I wanted the Song to return for it is the reward of deep and dark trials. So, I would sit near the pond in the woods or take Christopher to sit with me on the sands of Lake Michigan ...and I'd listen for the Song. I heard it again as I lived in the Psalms, for my heart was too broken to read anything else at that time. It came as I thanked Him for the gorgeous surroundings, for the Lake that I had grown to love when we lived in Holland for so many years, for the animals that would make their way to our yard.

When one develops a thankful heart in the midst of crisis, whether it is unemployment, fragile health, wayward children (which, thankfully, I have not had to walk down that road but many friends have), war and rumors of war, terrorism (my husband was on a flight to Chicago when the planes were flown into buildings), untimely death of loved ones, many cross country moves, friends who turn against you, family who do not understand in a world that sometimes seems to be upside down ...the Song can be heard if you listen ...and trust.

When you learn to find what to be thankful for in the midst of these ...that is when He gives you the gift of hearing the Song. For it is in the darkness that you can clearly see the Light. If you are walking in darkness today, if depression is knocking at your door, if you feel the world around you is falling apart, then look around you and find something to thank Him for will know when you hear the Song for it brings peace that passes all understanding ...and He can make ...within you ...a perfect heart.

Song: A Perfect Heart, composed by Donie McGuire and Reba Rambo
(and one of my all time favorite songs as sung by The Gaithers)


Anonymous said...

Brenda, as I read your post I am remembering when I too could not hear The Song because of the chaos that surround my life at the time. Choices that were made outside of God's will brought us to a very bad business investment that took all of our time and almost destroyed my marriage. I could not hear His voice. It was to low. But the He is so loving to each one of his children - He knew that He needed it to shout just for a moment and He did. And I listened. I now live in a peace that has no end. A peace that is so hard to explain to others but I feel that explain I must or I will burst! Thank you for your post. I pray that your day will be filled with blessings.
Maria S.

SMA said...

Thank You for your words who bring in my heart the peace of the Sunday afternoon and teach me "the song" (I'm an orthodox from Romania).I'll write down and I'll bring with me everywhere He will send me on Earth.
Thank You and God bless you in this sunny Sunday morning. Sma

She'sSewPretty said...

Oh Brenda, this post has touched me deeply. Bless you, my friend! I am struggling with Type 2 Diabetes. My prayers are with you.

Linds said...

Thank you for this, Brenda. You have written so beautifully about something so dear to my heart. God knows what he is doing.

Suze said...

You have ministered to both my husband and me this morning. I printed out and read your post to him. We are going through some tough times, but not nearly as tough as what you've experienced. You have so much of Christ's light to show to others because of what He has brought you through - thank you so much for this post, which brought me back to where I need to be this morning.

Adrienne said...

Brenda -
Thank you for sharing openly how God took you through so many struggles and the Song never stopped. I love this song, too. It ministers to me everytime I hear it. May God give you a Song-filled day!

Morning Glory said...

As always, your words make so much sense and speak to my heart. I've been where you described. When I learned to release and find the beauty around me, my life began to find balance and peace again. Thank you for a wonderful teatime.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this story. I recently went through a very dark time myself, leaving my job unexpectedly, unsure where money for food and rent would come from. I have a history of depression, and was tempted to give up. But somehow I found myself waking up in the morning and mumbling words of thanks into my pillow.

I've never believed in God, but that might change now that I have come through the dark time. It looks like I was led through it by someone who knew where they were going.

Heather said...

Thanks for sharing all of that. It was encouraging to me today as I am enduring the worst bout of fibromyalgia pain I've had yet. God is so good, and I've seen so many things to be thankful for these past few days, which does bring encouragement in the midst of the pain.

Susan PA said...

I found this post very moving.

We lived in Maine for 2.5 years -- a place I had NEVER wanted to be. (No offense, anyone -- no offense meant at all.)

I was terrified, moving up there... I kept reading and rereading a little plaque our small group had given us which said, "The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you." I needed to read it a number of times a day at first.

But by the time God led us away, I really had found that there were many wonderful things there, and I am so grateful to have had that time -- I learned some things I never had before or since.

Susan (now in PA)

G.L.H. said...

Thank you for reminding us that the Lord always knows best, and the things we go through are truly the best things for us, for Him to accomplish His will "to conform us to the image of His Son." And, He does not leave us without a Song!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, Brenda. Thank you for sharing..
Blessings, Patty

Lindsey @ Enjoythejourney said...

Something I have to remind myself is that joy is a choice at times. You choose to be joyful, even when you really don't feel like it. Before long, you realize you're not "pretending" anymore and you really ARE joyful! :)

Thank you for your lovely reminder and realistic attitude. Homeschooling, house selling and all sorts of things can keep us so busy we can't find that joy without trying.

KJ said...

Thank-you for your testimony! Our lives in 2007 have been turned upside down, but God is the right-side-uper! I literally drove around at 3 AM praying the Word to bring myself out of discouragement-- and it worked. I really did find my song in the night! God was faithful and continues to be faithful! He answered our call before we even dialed the number!

A friend of mine is from Detroit and he was remarking on his last visit there. He couldn't believe how much it had changed and how many neighborhoods stood vacant. He wanted to cry. As he was talking, I was struck by the many needs and God-portunities must be waiting there.

Thanks for a lovely visit!