Michelle Buck

A little peek at things I love

Wait For It

path

Time seems to stand still and I’m lost in thought, staring at her face, remembering when I felt the hope for her was lost. What lessons can be learned from when my heart has lost hope? What things has God chosen for me to find? I watch her turn into a young lady and I know there are things I have missed and have neglected to teach her.

I think back to all the news that seemed to drain my heart of all goodness, of all hope: “She has Aspergers.” This also entailed a learning disability and the grim hope of how she stacked up with other kids her age. I questioned myself as a mom, as her mom specifically. Did I not do enough? Was this my fault? Could I have done something better? Am I too late? As if my own questions didn’t convince me of my failures, other people did: “I knew something was wrong before you did“…as if I was completely clueless. Then there were comments about homeschool and socializing and how I should just put her in public schooling because they are the experts and I clearly was not. I could not even begin to understand my own child and I was stupid for thinking I could up to this point.

I thought long and hard about my own pride. Was I just homeschooling because I thought I knew better than everyone else? Was I trying to control everything too much? Was I thinking I could really have super, robotic, intelligent children and that they would one day prove how great I was? How did I not see this coming? And so I wrestled with myself and my pride and with seeing the hope in my own child. I enrolled her in public school part time, dragging my heels the entire way. I cried when my daughter told me her backpack which displayed little hearts all over the back of it was “to show the other kids God’s love”.  I felt like I had handed my child over to a pack of wolves.

She spent 2 years in public school (with not much progress and not much complaint) and I then homeschooled her again full time. We had been through some anxious meltdowns, learned a few things about coping, and even got angry with one another and fell apart around each other. We grew when my daughter was in public school, but even after, I was still learning how to be a better mom to her.

Somewhere along the lines, I lost the love of learning with my kids. I looked at schooling at home as a task, not a way to make memories or learn something new. I fell apart in so many ways and my kids watched it all. I unraveled and completely fell apart in a disastrous emotional, fatigued mess last year. I was spiritually, physically, and emotionally spent.

A mom can tire out easily when she sets her mind on being a lot like Martha and a lot less like Mary. And then the people, Oh God, the people. Would their voices ever get out of my head? Would they ever understand how hard this job as a mom is and give me some grace? No, they couldn’t. They aren’t God. And God is the only one who can give grace even on days when other people choose to say stupid hurtful words and you want to curl up in a ball and die. I could forgive their words, but could I forgive myself for repeating those words to my own heart? I knew better than they did yet I lied to my heart and said I was a failure.

Life is full of little moments. If you look hard, you will see them:

  • The once frustrated writer turns into a teenager that can’t put down the pen
  • She laughs at a joke even though everyone says kids with Aspergers don’t get humor
  • The act of empathy in a question to her dog, “Lily, why are you so sad?” Asperger kids are often labeled insensitive and unaware of emotions.
  • The relationship between her younger sister and her grow into something beautiful when they both come running into your bedroom with enormous smiles because they braided each others hair.
  • Her love for her family growing because she has grown up with them being her biggest cheerleaders
  • You becoming more patient, more loving, and less controlling and anxious
  • Seeing the small accomplishments that are both outward and inward and learning the lessons that only God can show you through hard times

Hope is strange that way. We hope for something we know nothing about because we think we know what is best for us. God doesn’t always give us what we hope for–sometimes he gives us something much better. Sometimes he gives us a beautiful person in a package called “Aspergers” who teaches you that you are enough–that even on the bad days we are growing, that our failures do not define us, and that Jesus has enough grace to carry us through.

He offers a lifeline in a ship called “Hope” which will never be taken away:

Let me have silence, and I will speak,
    and let come on me what may.
Why should I take my flesh in my teeth
    and put my life in my hand?
Though he slay me, I will hope in him;

Job 13:13-15a (ESV)

 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Romans 8:18-25 (ESV)

The Thing With Feathers

file9361345354128-1

She was only a child, surrounded by a big family, but in it, she felt alone. She was the “quiet one” and often referred to as such, but her mind was a flood of words wanting to be said, but never being heard. Her gifts and strengths were overlooked by more ambitious efforts, nevertheless, she had many if someone would stop and listen to her. Praises were few, although maybe those memories are stifled by the overwhelming amount of criticism received for not adding up or being good enough, or by the angered faces of people she disappointed by not being “good”.

Shame is a board, with a handle, and the words written, “Spare not the rod” across the front, used to ingrain in her this sense of the terrible person that she had become. As if somehow you can beat the monster out of a person. It wasn’t the “rod” that scared her, but the person who angrily grabbed the board, leaving bruises on an already broken person. It’s as if these marks were bleeding through the skin to show what she already felt inside.  The person possessing all the power, her mother, could have chosen to love her, but at that time, she had nothing to give but angry punishments and critical words with no hope.

file1691345353992-1

She waited for him to come and when he did, her joy was short-lived. How does one love a thief, an adulterer, and an alcoholic? Her Father wore happiness through his own pain and in the moment, he was there. He listened. He held her close. And then he was gone. Gone to find the things in the world that continued to make him happy. Gone to chase women, booze, and money. It was only a moment of joy, but that would remain her hope until he returned. To escape whatever kind of life this was. He would return, but death came with him and hope would die once more.

What prayers can be said to a God that thinks of her as terrible? Constant prayers where she bargained with God, hoping if she did something good, he would give her something in return. It’s all she had left in her arsenal of works. So she prayed these prayers hoping to save her Father from the disease that would destroy him. But even this proved to her she was not “good enough”: I can’t even pray a prayer. I am a failure.

She learned to keep her head down. If she stayed low, no one would find fault in her. She learned in school and at home this important lesson. In school, the criticism and sometimes abuse continued. “Do not let them see you cry” was her motto by the time she was a teenager. She had spent many years trying to be heard, crying and emotional, and what good did it do her? Her tears were a megaphone to people who had fallen deaf. I will be invisible.

Depression was her companion and poetry her friend. One tormented her. The other saved her. As a child, she spent hours by herself, imagining the world was not ugly. She’d wander the woods behind her house and pretend she was living the life she imagined. The tree was her home and the clearing was her back yard in the castle of hope she had built for herself, when she escaped the misery of this life; when she was gone from here. And poetry became the escape when she had no back yard, no tree “house” to run to. Paper and pen do not speak back. They only understand what you lay before them, without criticism, without duplicity.

Destination Unknown

He was the brother she grew up with, shared a womb with, loved despite their differences. Was there a reason he chose a tree as his last place of breath? She had pen and paper. What did he have? Was the criticism too much to take? Was the loss, the punishment, the anger too much for his soul to carry? What would his life had been if there was love? She did not know, but it seemed as if love did not live in her world. Her kingdom of hope was just a fairy tale.

How does hope die? It dies when rules are more important than hearts. It dies when anger is more important than love. It dies when feelings mean nothing and facts mean everything.  It dies when results are king. She feels these words, wearing her unworthiness: “They leave because of me.

But hope can rise up in the face of evil. It  can survive it. It says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.“(Genesis 50:20). It cries out, “Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?Then I said, “I will appeal to this, to the years of the right hand of the Most High.” (Ps. 77)

Hope is weeping over what was lost, but seeing what is good. Hope is that she is here. Hope is that she survived. Hope is that God was on her side, despite the evil done to her. Hope is seeing for the first time.

Hope is in this story because it’s my story–the one that was written for me before the world began. Hope lingers in the darkness, exposing the evil, and holding it’s hand to something better. Hope is sometimes a slow crawl through the landmine of other people’s sin while carrying your own and then holding up a mirror and realizing you are the same. The difference is not that you are better, not that you are worthy, and not that you are good. Hope is that this lost soul is found, this worthless life is redeemed, this hated sinner is loved. Hope is Jesus.

There is much I did not explain–the ones who stayed, the ones who loved, the ones who continue to be in my life when I’m ugly. This is only part of the story–with much more pain and much more grace than I’ve mentioned here. I did not mention how much the soul battles against it’s own evil when evil has been done to it. The point is that this is not the end. Evil does not win. Death does not prevail. Until then, there is hope.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers -
That perches in the soul -
And sings the tune without the words -
And never stops – at all.
(Emily Dickinson)

 

Dear Heart of Mine

heartRipples (2)

Dear gaping, giant hole in my heart
I cannot keep protecting you
You’re gonna just have to fall apart
And pray that God will come through

I can no longer hide the gash
In vain, I’ve tried repairs
But words like knives, cut and slash
Even empty words are hard to bear

I can’t numb it, stuff it, hide behind walls
Don’t tempt me—I’m on a thin string
If in a moment, I could end it all
I really would not miss a thing

P.S. Before you label me “lost”
I’ve had to let things go to be free
Giving up everything is part of the cost
Dear heart, you are bound for eternity.

Uncomfortable Grace

Destination Unknown

How can you live in a world of suffering and not be defined by that suffering?

The world around me reminds me everyday of my own suffering. The losses are deep, the anger sometimes springs up without warning. Some small thing is said and reminds me of a deeper pain that I have yet to overcome. And sometimes my heart feels as if it just cannot take one more single bit of bad news or suffer another thing. And I wonder how on earth I can live a life with all the pain and not be defined by it.

Steve Saint tells a story in the book Suffering and The Sovereignty of God (p. 112) that I think clarifies suffering a little bit by giving it a purpose:

When I was a teenager, I knew a family whose son was terribly burned when he ran into a car and the gas tank on his motorcycle exploded. In the hospital burn unit he begged his mother to just let him die. She responded by inviting friends to cheer him up, but he refused to see anyone. Finally one day there was a knock on his hospital room door. When his mother opened the door there was a stranger with hideous scars all over his face and arms standing there.

The mother slammed the door, hoping her son hadn’t seen the man. But he had, and insisted his mother let the man in. His mother resisted, thinking the sight would further discourage her son. Instead of discouraging the boy, however, that man convinced the boy that there was reason to live.

People who suffer want people who have suffered to tell them there is hope. They are justifiably suspicious of people who appear to have lived lives of ease…sufferers want to be ministered to by people who have suffered.

I wonder how much courage it took that man to walk in to a room with a child who was suffering the same exact thing he had and to hold out encouragement to him. The details don’t say. It only says that the child was encouraged and given hope. Maybe the man walked out of the room and was encouraged himself. Maybe he too was able to speak the words of truth and was given the faith to truly believe it.

Books have been written about suffering and how to “get through” suffering (as if we ever really get over it), but I have yet to fully understand how to suffer well. It goes against everything our culture thinks and feels. We want to hide from suffering. We want to prevent it. We want to cover it with band-aids and nice sounding words. But never do we want to live in it. So how do we suffer well (not trying to escape it or cover it with band-aids) without being defined by it (or becoming consumed by it)?

We are told that Jesus can minister to us because he suffered. I don’t know if I’m the only one who thinks this way, but sometimes Jesus dying seems so far removed from my own personal suffering. Further, I think sometimes I don’t view his suffering the same way I view my own. Selfishly, I think we all tend to think that our suffering is worse than the next guys–and that includes Jesus. To take it a step further, I often think that Jesus was given something “extra special” to endure the pain. Maybe God made him some sort of robot with no feelings or maybe he got some sort of Batsuit that made him deflect pain (although one could argue Batman’s uniform isn’t very cooperative. I have thicker bathing suits.)

In Feel: The Power of Listening to Your Heart by Matthew Elliot, he illuminates the love Jesus shown for us at the cross:

Who is our Jesus? The Spock-like Jesus who overcame his emotions in Gethsemane to logically choose the many over the one? The Jesus who did the right thing no matter how he felt? Do we embrace the words of author John Eldredge, who writes, ‘Equating the heart with emotion is the same nonsense as saying that love is a feeling. Surely, we know that love is more than feeling loving; for if Christ had followed his emotions, he would not have gone to the cross for us‘?

No. Without a great motivating love…Jesus would have never chosen the cross.

In the Bible, we are faced with a different Jesus motivated by deep love. For the joy set before him, he endured the pain of the cross. Do you choose a Spock-like Jesus, with rational and logical thought taking the lead, dying on that cross having done his duty? Or do you choose the Jesus whose love held him to the cross when at any moment he could have called down a legion of angels to take him directly to God the Father? Love propelled him through the horror for your sake.

Further in the book he quotes John Calvin who says “How can the mind be aroused to taste the divine goodness without at the same time being wholly kindled to love God in return? For truly, that abundant sweetness which God has stored up for those who fear him cannot be known without at the same time powerfully moving us.”

I think you have to embrace the Jesus who suffered, who died, and who did it with love. How can you love Jesus when you don’t identify with his love for you? The problem with suffering though, at least for me, is that sometimes our hearts are so hurt we can’t see through our own pain. We don’t want to embrace Jesus because that means we have to somehow give up our anger at our abusers. We have to entrust ourselves like he did to the Father. Is God really going to avenge me? Is he really going to punish the evil done to me? Is he really going to undo all the dying and suffering? We want so badly to cling to our anger because, in a way, its our way of punishing those who did us wrong. We want to put trust in ourselves, because we think, inaccurately, that we somehow are a better judge of our own lives than Jesus is.

Suffering will not define me if I let God use my suffering to teach me to “hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9).  Through suffering, I see where my love lies and the tendencies I have to wander. If life is good, you don’t see the ugliness of your own heart. You are content to be happy. But in suffering, you see all the places in which your heart is evil. Don’t believe me? Step on a Lego once and see what comes flying out of your mouth. I’m learning though that I can’t change those things about myself.  I can’t build my own little kingdom and then ask God to show me His. There is only room for one. Which one will it be? Only suffering can produce in us that kind of change.

I’ve said enough, but I’ll leave you with this quote from Paul David Tripp from a sermon entitled, Does God Care?

I think for many of us—and I’ve been here many times in my life—there are moments where I’m crying out, “Where is the grace of God?” And I’m getting it. But it’s not a cool drink. It’s not a soft pillow. Oh, I want the grace of relief and the grace of release, and I get those in pieces, but largely those are to come.

What I actually need is the transforming grace of refinement. It’s grace! Sisters, we’d better become committed to encouraging one another and teaching one another and preaching to one another (get this terminology) the theology of uncomfortable grace.

Because very often, this side of eternity, the grace of God comes to me in uncomfortable forms. It’s grace! It’s grace! It’s grace! God will take you where you haven’t chosen to go in order to produce in you what you could not achieve on your own. That’s glorious grace.

This part of me

I have a million thoughts rolling around in my head lately. Some things in my life just haven’t been fair. People have lied, deceived, and abused. I find myself getting angered by things I can’t change. It’s why I’m quiet, introverted, weird sometimes. I’ve learned to survive things. I’ve learned to keep my head down and to say the right things. I’ve heard the cheap talk, the holier-than-thou crap. I’ve avoided further pain by being quiet and indifferent. I’ve gone into emotional survival mode.

I’ve suffered through spiritual abuse, physical abuse, and emotional abuse. I’ve watched people die at their own hands and others because they stopped caring. I’ve glared at dead bodies and watched life drain from others who should have kept fighting. I’ve been homeless and poor while churches got richer and turned a blind eye to a widow with children. I sat and listened to the Pastor speak of care and concern, but turn around and fund his own kids colleges meanwhile not caring whether we ate at all or lived another day.

I was teased and bullied and treated like the plague by people who didn’t know me–worse yet, by people who did and claimed they cared about me. I have been bruised and beaten by rods and sticks and hands, but even worse by the words from the lips of those who said they loved me and from those who said God did and they chose his name to dole out their abuse. I’ve watched alcoholism destroy a good man and his words ruin a little girl. And maybe the hardest thing is being forgotten–because at least when someone is angry at you, they still remember you.

I have no pretty bow to tie on these thoughts–but I am here. Brothers, sisters, mother, father, friends, teachers, pastors, church members…you have not killed me or taken me or left me for dead. I’m here. That says something. God put me here for some reason and not even you can thwart his plans.


This is the part of me that your never gonna ever take away from me…

1 Peter 4:12-19

suffering pic
Photo Credit: MorgueFile

Hang me on a tree, Oh Calvary
And spit your curses at me
Tear my flesh and mock the name
Of the “King of the Jews” whose love I claim
For this is not the suffering of a common thief
Or the murdering act which caused much grief
But a normal sign of the Christians’ day
When upon our lips, “Jesus Christ” we pray
And we cling to the words in our Holy Bible
The joy of suffering as Christ’s own disciple
It’s not easy or simple—to be refined
When God takes our dead hearts to purify
His Spirit whom rested on Jesus, the Christ
When on the cross, paying sins costly price
Rests on us too as we follow in His steps
Suffering, yet joyful, surveying the depths
In which we are loved, keeping our eyes
Fixed on the cross, on our future prize
For if we are not Christ’s, then to whom we belong?
The unbeliever will one day account for his wrongs
And if here the Christian suffers, it cannot compare
To the severity of judgment that awaits the sinner there
For good we will suffer, His will revealed later
Entrusting our souls to our faithful Creator—
Who will one day cause our resurrected hearts to soar
And all the suffering and pain will be no more.

**Note: Sometimes I like to read passages of scripture and instead of pondering what it means, I put it into poetry. Seems to help me work it out in my brain. As for interpretation of such passages, there is always a chance I’m totally off–but I do try to figure out what it means and how it applies to my life in some way and how it ties in with the themes of the Bible.

God Will Avenge Me

Kitts2_004Photo Credit: MorgueFile

1 Samuel 24:12
May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you.

 

My memories have not faded
Just because time has gone by
I remember being 8, 9, 10, 11…
I remember your face, your insincere smile

I remember the books we read,
The Presidents faces smiling on the wall—
What did they have to smile about?
Another witness to it all

And I feared you, being so strong,
I thought you more mighty than I
You made me think that even God
Regarded me not as worthwhile

And I kept my head low, my face down
I kept silent and feared my voice
When I forgot the fear, I spoke
Receiving your punishment of choice

Did you never read that Bible
From which you liked to misquote?
Did you ever hear Jesus speak of children?
On them, he loved to dote

The kingdom of heaven belonged to me
But you made me fear the gift of life
You took the most beautiful thing I ever had
Cutting at my heart with your verbal knife

“Whoever causes one of these little ones
Who believe in me to sin, it would be
better if a millstone was hung around their necks
And they were thrown into the sea.”

 

Aftermath by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

aftermath

I read this poem the other day and I liked its significance to my own life. It reminds me of  Ecclesiastes 3:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Aftermath- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

When the summer fields are mown,
When the birds are fledged and flown,
And the dry leaves strew the path;
With the falling of the snow,
With the cawing of the crow,
Once again the fields we mow
And gather in the aftermath.

Not the sweet, new grass with flowers
Is this harvesting of ours;
Not the upland clover bloom;
But the rowen mixed with weeds,
Tangled tufts from marsh and meads,
Where the poppy drops its seeds
In the silence and the gloom.

Peace Like a River

I have a hatred of dreams. Most of the ones I have are stupid, but often times they give me anxiety. I used to have dreams after my brother died of him still being alive or me trying to save him. Those happened for a long time after his death. I sometimes would dream about my Dad too. Then when my mom died, things got worse for me. I couldn’t watch any shows with dead bodies in them. I’d have the worst nightmares and anxiety. It was horrible.

I don’t watch TV before bed. In fact, I try to think about things that are uplifting before my head hits the pillow. Last night I was talking with my son about Jesus and creation. But it didn’t matter. Bad dreams came. Two different ones and equally hard to shake. The dream I had this morning was one where I thought I was completely alone and everyone was gone–it felt extremely real and isolating.

So after 2 nights of those kinds of dreams, this song popped in my head:

Lyrics:
I’ve got peace like a river
I’ve got peace like a river
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul
I’ve got peace like a river
I’ve got peace like a river
I’ve got peace like a river in my soul

I’ve got love like an ocean
I’ve got love like an ocean
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul
I’ve got love like an ocean
I’ve got love like an ocean
I’ve got love like an ocean in my soul

I’ve got joy like a fountain
I’ve got joy like a fountain
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul
I’ve got joy like a fountain
I’ve got joy like a fountain
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul

I’ve got peace like a river
I’ve got love like an ocean
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul
I’ve got peace like a river
I’ve got love like an ocean
I’ve got joy like a fountain in my soul

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about peace and joy. I feel like sometimes it’s within reach, but I fail to grasp it. This verse sits on my desk as a reminder to me of how God speaks and gives us courage in our anxieties–not only does he do that, but he calms our storms–bad dreams, stressful life events, ect.

For they all saw him [Jesus] and were terrified, But immediately He spoke to them and said, “Take heart; It is I. Do not be afraid.” And He got into the boat and the wind ceased.” Mark 6:50-51

I’m still learning how to embrace this Jesus who calms the wind and the waves and gives peace like a river. I’m learning that God ordains things in my life for a reason. And I’d like to think that putting a song in my head after a bad dream was one of those ways God cares about me. The universe isn’t speaking to me. God is. And sometimes its the song that gets stuck in your head that he uses.

Remembrance

tree_bw (2)

I don’t know how I have lived this long
With tortured soul and mind
When passing, I remember the song
Of the ones who fell behind

And every glimpse, I see their faces
As if they were my own
I remember the times, familiar places,
But to others they are unknown

And the saddest thing I realize
These memories are all that’s left
The hole they caused, I cauterize
Beneath the scar, my hope bereft

To the one who seems to know all things,
To the one who claims an answer—
How do you rid this life of its sting,
When the loss eats at you like a cancer?

There is no such thing as felicity
No elaborate bow one can tie
Around the words of suffering
So today, please let me cry.

 

Started writing this poem about a month ago and never finished it. But then today I saw this Writing Prompt and thought I’d participate so I finished up the last few verses and edited the rest.

Prompt: For this week’s prompt, write a tough spot poem. The poem can be about your own situation (past, present, or future), someone else’s, or whatever you can conjure up. Think late bills, shootouts, and tough choices.

A little more than just a “tough spot” though.

« Older posts

© 2014 Michelle Buck

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑