Our hearts were as heavy as the oppressive heat that was baking our car. Add in the 6 year old and 18 month old who kept asking for a break from the constant driving, and we were desperate for a place to get out and stretch our legs on this first day of our cross-country drive. We were letting go of our hope for a new start in California and heading back to our families in the Midwest. But the backroads of Arizona and New Mexico were calling for one last glance at the “Old West” before we left it all behind.
When the signs pointed to a rock-hunters’ delight, we decided to let the boys look to their hearts’ content. Piles of geodes, agates, and crystals fascinated them. But my newly pregnant body was just glad for the chance to move.
All of the first trimester symptoms were making themselves known, and I had already removed my wedding ring because of the swelling. So, when my husband spied me eyeing the Arizona locally-made-jewelry, he secretly followed behind me. When he saw my eyes light up over the Arizona Blue Opal in a silver ring setting, he made me try them on for size. It was his gift to me in the middle of our heartache. He said he wanted me to know that our love was still as strong as ever.
The memories from 33 years ago flooded through me last week, when my daughter, the baby I was pregnant with all those years ago, sent me a photo of special jewelry that she had purchased with her husband on their own westward trip. I had forgotten about my ring, as it was too large once my fingers returned to their normal size after my pregnancy.
So I wondered … could it possibly … ?
On the day I had my first Rheumatologist appointment almost 6 years ago, I had to make a stop at the Emergency Room to have my wedding rings cut off because of excessive RA swelling. I’ve carried a disappointment in my heart since then, but because my hands have become a whole different size now, I’ve never considered getting new rings. The rate of swelling comes on so fast during a flare, that it’s impossible to judge the proper size. … But what if that old gift was actually meant for now?
I rummaged through my jewelry, and there it lay on the bottom, tarnished and forgotten. But not forgotten to my Lord, who sees every hidden heartache. I tried to put it on my ring finger, but even that larger ring was now too small for my swollen hands. But I placed it on my pinky, and tears sprang up fresh in my eyes. On those days when my hand is not flaring, I have a symbol of love to wear again. My husband was so touched that he bought a container of silver polish when he went to the store the next day.
In the photo, my hand is resting on a wrap crocheted for me by my dear RA sister, Sheriann. Her disease is in the final stage, and there are days when she and her husband are fighting for her very life. And yet, on her “good days” she is awake, sitting on her bed or couch, and crocheting beautiful gifts to share with other chronic illness sisters. She is truly one of God’s gift-givers, and I am so thankful for her.
We think that we are alone in the journeys we face. The trips cross-country feel like dying in the sun. The leaving of our families feels like separation that is too hard to bear. The days lying in pain feel like no one could ever understand.
But God saves a ring, something that looks so small to the world, buried in the bottom of a drawer, to show us that HE never forgets. HE will always call us HIS own beloved.
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
Are you feeling deserted in the places that you are facing?
He invites us to remember that HE will never leave us or forsake us. And He calls us to share these journeys with each other, pointing to His care along the way.
May I pray with you today?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the faithful love that You have planned to shower over us, for the singing that You have voiced over our hearts. We become so weighed down with the pain of our days that we forget YOU are still here with us. Will You help us to cry out to You on these heat-filled and weary days? We need You so much. Thank You for the gifts that You have scattered throughout our pathways. Thank You for the gift-givers that You send to travel these roads with us. Help us each to become a gift-giver of Your love. Show us how to share the small joys and great graces that You have given. Thank You for loving us and saving us.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus, we pray,
And I have so much thankfulness in my heart for those who have continued to pray for the Radio Frequency Ablation that I had last month. While I am still dealing with lingering side effects from all of the failed RA infusions this summer, Praise God for the relief that I am beginning to feel from those head pains! Truly His grace is such a gift for us.
Now for those of you who remember the Giveaway that I promised last week for all who commented, the winner is Kristine Pemberton, one of my Facebook commenters. Chronic Joy Ministry has a copy of the great allegory, Hind’s Feet on High Places, to mail to you! I will be in touch with you this week to start that process. Congratulations! And thank you all for the great comments.