A Different Kind of Beautiful

Mom-headshot I’ve always thought my mom was beautiful. Graceful. She was trained in opera when she was young. I remember going with her to weddings, hearing her sing the Lord’s prayer. The whole sanctuary full of guests would fall silent on her last, drawn-out note of, “Ahhhhh-mennnn.” Ooooooh. Still gives me goose bumps to think of it. Gorgeous!

A few weeks ago, Mama had an emergency heart procedure. The surgeon inserted one stent and ballooned six arteries that were blocked over 90%. He actually used the word “miracle” in describing the procedure. We’re thankful she’s still breathing. At 87 her recovery has been slower than she’d like, but her strength is returning.

My mother couldn’t sing that long note at the end of the Lord’s Prayer right now. She no longer looks like the opera student who trilled scales for her instructor or married a preacher’s kid the week after her high school graduation. She’s now a different kind of beautiful. Still graceful—but now with a cane or walker. Still sings beautifully—but now for an audience of One, the Almighty One.

A Different Kind of Landscape

Many of you know my hubby and I moved last August from Washington State to North Carolina. We left the lush, green Pacific Northwest mountains to snuggle into the warmth of Appalachia and be nearer to our family.

Mt. HoodI must admit, I’ve missed looking out my window to see “my mountain.” Mt. Hood was such a powerful reminder to me of God’s grandeur and steadfastness. Whether viewing the snow-capped peak from miles away or from its base at Timberline Lodge, God whispered so much about His character, His ways, and His purposes while I studied that giant mount of rock and evergreens.

Now, I live amid the rolling expanse of the Appalachian Mountains, tucked between knobs and hollers. The people here are the kindest and warmest I’ve ever met, and the home the Lord provided is beyond my dreams. Quiet. Secluded. A writer’s haven with a small area in the basement to minister to family and friends who need a short getaway.

Porch Sittin'Our lives in North Carolina are as different as the landscape. In Washington, both Roy and I worked 60-70 hours a week. We attended church on Sunday and served as adult discipleship teachers. Our family time was limited to planned trips across the country. Here, in NC, we are immersed in both church and family. My work is squeezed in around those two very important priorities.

Life was good in Washington. It’s wonderful here in North Carolina. Each season has its own kind of beautiful. The question becomes: How well do I adjust to the changes?

Something Not-So-Beautiful

In May, I saw a new neurologist who finally diagnosed Chiari Malformation as the root cause of the daily migraines I’ve endured since 2005. The only treatment is surgery. We don’t feel the benefits outweigh the risks at this point, so we’ll continue to treat the pain and pray the symptoms don’t worsen.

When I heard the doc’s explanation of the condition, I remembered the same jiggly feeling in my insides back in 1997, when I was diagnosed with my first chronic illness. Though it was nice to finally hear a doctor affirm my pain and put a label on what caused it, I also felt…well, it’s hard to put it into words. Scared? Not really. Angry? No. Maybe sad comes the closest. The idea of dealing with this pain for the rest of my life and the possibility of worsening symptoms made me want to cry.

Finding Your Beautiful

MomI’m sure many of you deal with similar not-so-beautiful things in your life. Maybe they make you sad or mad or angry, but whatever your emotion, you feel trapped, and at times it’s hard to see anything except the hardships.

Many folks struggle when their activities are limited. Some due to chronic illness, work stressors, relational frustrations, or legal constraints. Perhaps, like my mama, you’ve been blindsided by the relentless advance of years. I’ve often asked the Lord, “What beauty could there possibly be in this migraine?”

God’s Word is littered with reminders that in THIS WORLD we will have trouble. He said will have. Not a “maybe” or “perhaps.” But Scripture also offers the antidote for our troubles:

[Jesus told His disciples on the eve of His arrest,] “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (emphasis added)

We can only find beauty in our difficulties when we abide IN HIM. But how do we abide?

  1. Guard our thought life. (Philippians 4:8-9)
  2. Defeat anxiety and/or discouragement with prayer/petition. (Philippians 4:7)
  3. Guard your heart—what goes in determines what comes out. (Proverbs 4:27; Luke 6:45)

When we remain in Him, we see ourselves and our circumstances through the lens of a loving Father with the defining scope of eternity. Our life in Him becomes that new kind of beautiful–regardless of the landscape that surrounds us.

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

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Today’s Question:

  • Of the three ways to “abide,” which one has proven most effective to remind you of the beautiful life God has given you?

About Mesu Andrews

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Comments

  1. What a precious way to weave together these very personal stories of yours and then share them with us. I appreciate your attitude and as you know I’ve needed your encouragement this year. I’m reading No More Faking Fine by Esther Fleece. Your reference to sad about your diagnosis is referred to as lament by Esther. She encourages readers to reach out to God with our laments. I’m so thankful for the Faith community of authors who share their peaks and valleys while always lifting their eyes to Jesus.

    • Sounds like a fabulous book, lady! I so admire your commitment to challenge yourself with the books you read. You’re my hero! 😉 And thanks for sharing the lessons God is teaching you.

  2. What a special offering from your heart! As time-days, months, years go by some of the events of life loose their immediacy and the REAL of your life comes to the front and becomes your life. Your memories become very real and the sweetness of those dear times are enjoyable to remember. The current situations though sometimes difficult are just another part of our journey. The FACT that JESUS is real becomes our sweet Comforter. I can do all things thru Christ Who strengthens me & the fact that JESUS LIVES and I will forever be with Him become more and more real & lovely. Thank you for sharing your life with us, Mesu….adorable daughter.

  3. I agree with Mary and Nichole in thanking you for sharing these important truths with us. In this world, we will have troubles. We can only find beauty in our difficulties by ABIDING in Him. We abide by guarding our thought life, guarding our heart, and being faithful in prayer/petition. And implicit in your story is another truth: develop relationships with other Christian brothers and sisters. Share with them and thankfully receive what they share. As you have today, dear sister.

    • So true, Dana. Sharing my heart is actually very hard for me–in person. I’m much better at putting my thoughts and feelings into words than I am at TALKING about how I feel. Journaling has been a strength, and now sharing with y’all is something the Lord has called me to do. I don’t share everything. That wouldn’t be wise or safe. But I share what I believe will be of benefit to others on a similar journey. And sharing the journey–as you said–is an important part of our walk with Jesus.

  4. Such true words. Every season evolves and we adjust. I’m sad that you miss your mountain but very happy to have you in our midst. I can envision your mom at a younger age but glad prayers were answered for this time of her life. Hopefully I’ll have an opportunity to see you in our beautiful mountains one day. I enjoy checking out mountain homes for sale in your area.

    God Bless

    • Be sure and let me know when you’re in the area, and I’ll check my calendar to see if we can connect! I love our new mountains, but most of all it’s the people here who have stolen my heart. God knows our need before we do, and He’s provided an amazing network of support and love around us–and I pray we can be that for those in our midst. What a wonderful God we serve!

  5. Mesu, thank you for sharing your life with us. It is a pleasure to “know” you through your writing – and remembering how to reframe our life through His eyes. You are such a blessing and I am thankful for the way in which you connect with us. Praying for your Mama and for you today.

  6. I ‘abide’ by number 2. Prayer is the key. When my sweet 90 year old mama says, ‘I’m praying for you’ that’s such a comfort and what I need to hear. Your words, Mesu, are always a blessing and glad your mom is doing better and gaining strength.

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