The World Through My Shoes is my look at living this incredible gift God has given us. As a busy wife, mother and daughter I relish the alone time I receive on my early morning runs. It is in the stillness of those predawn mornings where I often am inspired. Thank you for taking the time to read my words.

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Upside Down & Stranger Things

My lungs are burning.  I'm running fast.  Every running coach will tell you one can out run the pain.  I'm hoping they don't mean just physical.

The memory of today finds me staring at The Upside Down.  I'm trying to outrun it.  I don't want to go back. 

Four years ago today, my siblings and our families found ourselves in The Upside Down.  In a single instant our world turned upside down, the single worst day of our lives.  The thing about The Upside Down is sometimes you walk into it.  A decision you make, a choice you choose and you walk into The Upside Down.  Other times, you hear the hurricane siren and you can brace yourself before The Upside Down comes.

Not us.

We were picked up and heaved in.  We fell hard, hitting ourselves on the rocks of that long shaft into The Upside Down.  At the bottom, we lay broken, bruised, bleeding.   We clung tight to each other and tighter to God.  We navigated together in The Upside Down.   

In The Upside Down you can see from where you fell.   It's Christmas Eve and everyone is happy and singing and sipping hot cocoa.  All appears to be merry and bright.  The Upside Down is dark.  You question if you'll ever get out.  Or if your Christmas will ever have singing again.

As we tended to each other's wounds, stranger things began to happen.  The healing came.  We spent fewer days in The Upside Down.  God held us together and together we lifted each other out.

It's not to say there won't be days we tumble back into The Upside Down.  Like today.  I ran hard to avoid it. 

Looking back I remind myself of the people who surrounded us, walked alongside us, loved on us.  I remind myself the wounds and brokenness heal.  It leaves scars, but healing does come. 

You see, the scars don't heal.
Scars are the healing.

And if there is one thing I've learned about The Upside Down it is this - the beacon out of The Upside Down are the scars of those who have navigated out of it before you.  

You will heal.
You will have scars.
The Upside Down will become upside right.

If you are in need of a beacon, I've got some scars I can show you.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Passing Storm

Stepping out my sliding door, I hear the eagles chatter.  One perches itself atop my neighbor's tree, the other I can not see.  They are hunting, working together to circle their prey. 

The air is brisk, the sky blue; all a stark contrast to yesterday.  As I run through my neighborhood, I see the damage left by the storm.  It's power was terrifying; homes and properties were destroyed.

A massive evergreen tree lost a 20 ft branch and it hung precariously on a wire overhead.  I pray the wire doesn't snap as I run by.  The road is peppered with smaller branches.  I watch each step I take. 

The rising sun whispers through the morning mist rising off the field.  The mighty oak, which once stood regal in the field, was broken.  The storm had proven too much and snapped a large section which now lay on the ground.  I stop.  I notice the irony.

The delicate grasses are unscathed.
The mighty oak lay broken.
They both weathered the same storm.

Had you asked before the storm had hit, I would have bet the delicate grasses would snap in the 60 mph winds, not the mighty oak.  

My contemplation turns to people.  The expectation of the strong to be stronger.  Life's storms seem to leave no mark, when quietly they weather to a breaking point. No one expects the strong to lay broken or the delicate to stand strong. Yet they do.

Uncertain of how, I feel it all ties in to our sermon last weekend.  Grace.  Grace upon grace.  In the season where it's easy to get caught up in everything but the important, grace can make the difference.  The strong who don't appear to need it yet in truth, may need it most.

May we offer grace to the weathered.  The mighty oak or the delicate grass, we all face the storm.


Sunday, November 25, 2018

Joy of Christmas

Like every day I drive to work, I pass by The Spot.  A moment in time so powerful, everything around you sears itself into a memory; it changed everything I knew Christmas to be.  Today I contemplate on that day that changed me.

It was December 2015 and grief hung on all of us like a wet, wool blanket one had just fished out of the river.  Mom had finished her fight against cancer Christmas 2013 and Dad had been killed by a car accident Christmas 2014.  The closer Christmas drew, the greater the anxiety wondering if someone else we love would die.  I did not hold back when talking to God.

"God.  Why?  Why is Christmas now nothing more than grief for us?  
Why do our children not get the happy Christmases we always had as kids?  
God, why now does Christmas have to be about death for us?"

He answered me.  His piercing words filled me and I began to cry.

"Cheri, Christmas has always been about death.  The very reason Jesus was born, was to die. I know of your pain and you now know of Mine."

The moment The Spot seared itself. 
The moment The Spot became my altar.

Despite death, there is to be joy.  The angels declared, "I bring you good tidings of great joy".  How can they proclaim of a great joy when His birth was only to begin His sacrificial death?

Joy is more about peace and comfort than it ever is about laughter and glee.

I think back to that Christmas Eve in ICU.  Dad and his love for Jesus brought joy without him ever using words.  We learned this as one of Dad's nurses watched us.  He didn't believe as we do, still he watched us pray, he watched us cry, he saw others praying over us.  At the end of his shift he told us there was a difference with Dad.  Despite the critical situation, despite the trauma, he had felt the comfort and peace; the joy.  I found out later he had offered to come in on his day off - Christmas Day - to be dad's nurse if the hospital needed it.  The joy of Christmas was reaching through those tightly laced fingers of grief. 

I think on the difficulty he had coming in to work on his next shift and seeing Dad's empty bed.

An empty bed.
An empty tomb.
Both exclaim the joy of Christmas.

If the tears you shed this Christmas taste of the darkness of grief or of the glee of laughter, I pray you feel the comfort and peace God brings.  May you feel His joy.  May you feel the Joy of Christmas.