Kara’s Collection: The Power of Community

from an article originally posted July 11, 2014...

This week has been full, unbelievably full of emotion. So much so that I can hardly handle it all. Today Jason has noticed a quiet in me, and I knew I simply need to come to this place of words and process it all. After months—I mean months—of waiting and prayer, my dear friend Shellie returned from the DRC with her beloved husband and son. Home at last! I can hardly believe they are home at last. The homecoming was unbelievable—tears, joy, laughter. I came home snuggled in bed and looked over and over at the picture of the amazing moment mama and baby boy walked around the corner. I simply stood and cried seeing her beautiful face walk around the corner. It was the moment where you realize God is able, able to do more than we can think or imagine. The moment where you see God’s hand making a way where there seemed to be no way. They came through with integrity. They came through with grace. They are HOME. Beautifully home. It’s this amazing picture of our own adoption in faith. It’s messy, it’s hard, it’s full of struggle, but God pursues, God seeks and finds his children. God is reckless in his love. He is unstoppable in making us His own. That was the story of Shellie and Brad and their entire family. Fierce pursuit of their son. Endless, costly, painful—pursuit to love their own. It was so beautiful and painful to watch for months on end. We simply sat quietly in awe as we watched the family reunite.

Honestly, my words are weak in describing this homecoming. It was a small picture of heaven and the amazing homecoming that awaits us in heaven. Words are too simple in describing this beautifully redeeming moment.

Last night Shellie and I sat beside one another at a different kind of party. It was a gathering of ladies to say goodbye to one that has loved us all so big, so wide, so deeply for the past two years. I kept touching Shellie, still in disbelief that she’s home. We laughed over my morbid sense of humor. She gets my awful humor in a way no one else wants to get.

But last night, last night we gathered and loved on our dear Corrie. None of us want to believe she’s leaving. Like none of us want to believe my new diagnosis, none of us can picture doing life without doing it with Corrie. We tried to make it a send off as the place that captures Corrie will be richly blessed. But I think all of us keenly felt our own selfishness in not wanting to turn her loose to love another community. We want to hold tightly to Corrie forever. But last night we laughed, we shared our appreciation and love, and we prayed. Prayed for Corrie and prayed for ourselves as she will leave a terrible void.

To say this week has been emotional, would be an understatement. Jason and I have looked at each other through tears most of this week. So many moments, so many pills to swallow. We are struggling to take hold of each moment. We are struggling and frankly enjoying the current place of denial we are living in with my cancer. I haven’t come here. I haven’t written, because I still can’t put my heart into words. So I run after each moment. I embrace each breath as it comes, and I’m slowly understanding the story that is being written for us.

So when our sweet Mona texts and asks to run to a trampoline world, I go. When Jen wants to go enjoy musical swings, I go. I go beyond my own strength. Because right this minute, this brief moment, I’m here. I want my children to see me here, now. I may come home and fall into bed for a few hours after, but I showed up. I will keep showing up.

I’m there taking the pictures, delighting in the moments, telling them to embrace the joy to be found in the moment.

My people gather around me and help me be there. They encourage the joy and support my weary, tired body. Ladies enter my home and help with the heavy lifting of my life, and allow me the strength to be as present as I am able to be present.

So today, I wanted to be the parent picking up my girls from camp. I sang and cried my way up the mountain road I know so well towards Eagle Lake Camp. I saw my faces moving towards me and delighted in their hugs and chatter of their blissful week away. They captured life, faith, joy, and I’m beyond grateful for the place that reflects my own heart. I’m thankful for the counselors that tell my daughters the greatest story ever told. But there is a quiet weeping. A silent fear that I may not be there to capture their stories next summer. But I cannot know, so I live this moment. I embrace the grace in today. I fight the fear of the moments that won’t include me. And I trust, I trust, I trust that in my presence or my absence all my people will see Grace. The big grace found in Jesus that we don’t deserve, but He lavishes on us in His big reckless way.

You see, all these people, all these beautiful people, surround this story in its redemption. Each life that touches our own will be present when it all feels like it’s shattering. They will surround these beautiful faces and be instruments that will carefully gather and collect the broken pieces and carry them to Jesus. They will partner in this story in a way that is breathtaking. And the pain, the heartache, the sadness will be made new. I wish I could be here to see it—it’s going to be stunning. All these stories—Shellie, Corrie, me—are not easy, but I would not miss what I have gained from each one by entering their hard and living with them in community. It’s messy painful business, but it’s beautiful.

How does your community point you to Jesus? How are you sitting on the sidelines of community? What are your fears in digging deeply into the hard of the life of another and building real community? Can you see the beauty of this story in the community that is willing to move toward and not away from the hard in the life of another?