Sunday, March 10, 2013

nothing is wasted

One of my favorite Sara Groves songs is about a girl who spends all night in the backyard, staring up at the stars and the moon: Maybe this was made for me/for lying on my back in the middle of a field/maybe that's a selfish thought/or maybe there's a loving God.

Maybe it's a selfish thought for me to say that the concert I went to Friday night was orchestrated just for me, but the truth is, I believe that it was... that my loving God lined up the perfect evening of song and story, of hope and joy, just for my weary and broken heart.

First, some back story: As I've written in past posts, last year was hard for Matthew and me. We experienced two miscarriages and our hearts haven't quite recovered (I don't know that they ever fully will). It's been a tough journey of grief and fear, but also of a deepening faith and a stronger marriage, ultimately. Still, hope and joy have both been quite elusive to me, often taking back seats to anger, fear, and a very deep sadness.

But one of the things God has given me to help me keep up the fight for hope has been music. It's been amazing how He has loved on me in this way. A week or so after the first loss, Sara Groves was in town, and she sang all of my favorites, including "Open My Hands", which has been my theme song in all of this. Then, just days after I found out that we would be losing our second baby, Jill Phillips and Andy Gullahorn were in town. The timing for both concerts was perfect, and could be posts in and of themselves.

And God's perfect timing continued with the show we went to Friday night... The two albums that ministered to my heart the most last year were, hands down, Jason Gray's A Way to See in the Dark and Andrew Peterson's Light for the Lost Boy. So when I found out that both Jason and Andrew were going to be playing in town on this particular Friday night, the very anniversary of the first miscarriage, I just couldn't help but think that God had orchestrated the whole thing for me. It was perfect.

Maybe that's a selfish thought... or maybe there's a loving God...

Last week was awful. It was busy, stressful, emotionally draining, and even a bit traumatic (ask Stacy and I about that sometime). I woke up Friday morning feeling exhausted, shaken, drained and just miserable. And then my phone buzzed with a text message from my amazing sister-in-law Michelle. Among other things, she wrote "Today marks the start of something new!" and referenced Isaiah 43:18-21, which starts with this: "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!"

And then how did Andrew start his set Friday night? With "All Things New":

Come broken and weary
Come battered and bruised
My Jesus makes all things new...

The world was good
The world is fallen
The world will be redeemed
O hold on to the promise

The stories are true
That Jesus makes all things new
The dawn is upon you

Then Jason did his set. Before he started "Nothing is Wasted" he kind of paused and looked out into the crowd and said something along the lines of "you know, I just really feel like somebody out there needs this tonight..." and it was me. I held Matthew's hand on one side and Charlotte's on the other and I just wept.

-please, please, please watch this video... and note the last image... :-)

In the second half of the show, Jason played "Fear is Easy, Love is Hard"... You can watch the video Matthew took on Friday night here. What I love so much about his whole album is how he continually stares fear straight in the face, and then challenges me to hope, even when it is hard.

My (also amazing!) sister-in-law Kristine bought me these wall placards for my birthday last year, and they pretty much sum up the themes of A Way to See in the Dark.

"Fear is Easy, Love is Hard" ends with this:

It comes down to a simple choice
Shouting devils or a still small voice
One is spreading fear and dread
Oh but love has always said
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

Then Andrew sang "Rest Easy":

Do not be afraid
Nothing, nothing in the world
Can come between us now

You don't have to work so hard
You can rest easy
You don't have to prove yourself
You're already mine
You don't have to hide your heart
I already love you
I hold it in mine
So you can rest easy

Side note: Guess what passage our pastor Ben taught on at church last night? Mark 6:30-52, when Jesus walks on the water. And he says to his disciples "Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid." :-)

After the show on Friday night we had the opportunity to talk to both Jason and Andrew and tell them just how much their music has meant to us, especially in this past year. They signed our CDs. Jason wrote the reference Isaiah 49:16 under my name. This was special to me, too, because all of Isaiah 49 is a chapter that Michelle shared with me last summer and that I read a lot in the wake of the second miscarriage. And 49:16 says this: "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands..." 

Earlier that same day, before the concert, Michelle sent me an email that ended with this: "May you feel His Presence in amazing ways today. He is so very near to you and loves you with an everlasting love. You are in the palm of his hand... like the robin's nest."

Maybe that's a selfish thought... or maybe there's a loving God...

In this place I've been, hope has seemed elusive, my strength has been failing, and I've been weary in the waiting... but I came out of that church on Friday night feeling a renewed sense of hope, of peace, and of joy. I walked out feeling so loved - by my husband, by my friends (so many great conversations this week - you know who you are!), and most of all by my God.

In Jesus... I have hope. I have joy. I am new.


  1. that is great Nicole! Ya know, I was thinking the same as Michelle- that this is marking a start of a whole new year for you! Praying it is the OPPOSITE of last year!

    Love the bird on the shirt!

  2. Amen Cole! Brought tears to my eyes with all of the specific ways God reached out to you and let you know that you are loved deeply by Him. What an amazing sister-in-law you have too!

    God really knows and really cares and really loves you babe. Good to talk to you Sat night and so love you and are praying for you a lot. Encouraged by the smile on your face and the trust in your heart even when it's hard.

  3. I was moved to tears as I read the account of God's beautiful "upper story" amidst your painful "lower story". He truly sees His masterful tapestry while we with limited vision view the tangled, knotty underside. I am reminded of the Scripture God gave Ben and I on the day Natalie was born.

    Psalm 126

    A song of ascents.

    1 When the Lord restored the fortunes of[a] Zion,
    we were like those who dreamed.[b]
    2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
    our tongues with songs of joy.
    Then it was said among the nations,
    “The Lord has done great things for them.”
    3 The Lord has done great things for us,
    and we are filled with joy.

    4 Restore our fortunes,[c] Lord,
    like streams in the Negev.
    5 Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
    6 Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
    will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them.

    Though you sow tears, Nicole, you will reap songs of joy. Interesting that even the entire Pslam is called the Song of Ascents. The Lord has done great things for you and He is filling you will joy...figuratively, spiritually, and one day physically, O Beloved of the King. He continues to pursue you, as His angels dance over you, all the while as you walk your path taking your palm in His.

    I love you dear sister--michelle