Forced bulbs

We settle into a rhythm at the church of our dear friends, and Katy asks me every week if we are staying. So she can make friends there. With each question, my heart splits afresh for the wounds in the souls of my children. The friends gone, the parents stressed beyond stress, the whole family brought to the brink of breaking, the only saving grace the daily rhythm of home, the safety here.

Wounds not inflicted by those we would call evil, but those we call good. Good people. Faithful people. People reading their Bibles and praying and seeking relationship with God. People building a church. 

Oh, so carefully, I speak of these wounds. But my daughter, my eldest, serious, sweet, caring, compassionate, patient daughter. She like the crocuses who poked their leaves through the melting snow and were covered again by the paralyzing cold of a March snowstorm. To have your heart dashed twice in a season at seven is life-changing.

How I wish it were easy to decide. Easy to find a church "home". Settle into a new routine. But you protect the wounded places. You don't offer the bruised arm to shake the pastor's hand until you're sure he's not holding a bat behind his back. You don't let someone hug that pierced soul until you're sure it's just a hug. Just love. The children's lullaby tape plays during their nap, and I bow head to lament at these simple lyrics, "Love will make my spirit grow. Grow in peace, grow in light. Love will do the thing that's right."

We bring crocuses inside. Protected and warm, they bloom like mad, and we celebrate a glimpse of spring. Purple and gold, and the grape hyacinths little green ellipses ready to pop into bloom tomorrow. And so we feel - like forced bulbs in the greenhouse, being asked to bloom again before our time. Every time Katy asks that question - Is this our home, Mama? - I can't answer, despite the shards of heart shattering for this little child who has lost so much and cannot comprehend why.
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly. ~Jesus, Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Taped to my computer monitor is Matthew 18:21-22. Ironically, the verses directly following those on church discipline that have closed off a whole community to us. 
Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said unto him, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven."
I wonder if I have this in me, in this wounded heart, in this battered home, in this shipwreck of friendships with the shrapnel of trust floating on the angry waves. Forgive four hundred and ninety times? Only possible when leaning on the Everlasting Arms that offer grace to all, even I, worst among sinners (I Timothy 1:15).

So we go, Sundays. And hold our hearts hostage for a time, hostage to the peace and grace of a Savior who knows all and loves all and in whom we so fiercely believe. We pray for the melting of snow, and the new running of sap through the trees standing silent and cold in the stand of maples, we pray for hearts melting and closing up wounds. We pray for peace that passes understanding and emergence from this dark winter. We pray hardest for these four little souls shipwrecked with us. Call friends and ask for playdates. Draw close as a family, speaking healing into those wounds from the awesome Living Word.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerers through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:35-39 (KJV)
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God! ~Psalm 40:17 (ESV)