The reason my mind has wondered to "what's behind the pictures, the smiles, the perfectness," is a dear friend of mine that is going through horrendous suffering. Let me tell you about my special friend Kim...
When Ray was working at Verizon, he would take his shirts and pants to be dry cleaned (I know, I'm just not that kind of wife... hehe... plus I had just had a baby...) Anyway, we would go pick up clothes at Tailor Cleaners right by our house every other week. My favorite part was catching up with Kim, a beautiful vietnamese seamstress. She was always smiling, joyful, and kind. She and her husband, Nu, became our friend. She helped alter my wedding dress. She tailored Ray's jeans perfectly (just like he likes!). She has our christmas cards up in her shop. She is one of the most gifted women with her hands. When I got pregnant, she loved touching my belly... and she knew within a few weeks that I was having a boy! After I had Barrett she fell in love with him. She would make others wait to pick up their clothes so that she could hold my boy. As he got a little older he would run around her shop and she would chase him and make him laugh. I love chatting with her about life... She is my friend.
Three months ago we went to pick up our clothes and the sign on the door said that a family member was sick. Every time Ray or I would go to see if they were open no one was there. Last month Ray finally was able to talk with Kim's husband. Her said that the family member that was sick was Kim. She had a terrible infection and has been in the hospital for the last 2 months. When Ray told me I was devastated. I stopped in the shop a few weeks ago to get an update on Kim and find out if we could go visit her. Expecting to hear good news, I could tell by the look on Nu's face that things weren't good. He said that Kim was still in the hospital and with tears in his eyes he told me that they had to amputate her hands and feet because the infection had caused them to die. I cannot tell you how deep my heart sunk. Her hands... her hands... that was her livelihood... that was their main source of income... that was her gift. Why Lord, why would you take her hands... and her feet...
I went home in a ball of tears...I had to at least see her. Saturday Ray, Barrett, and I went to visit her in the hospital. It was much worse than I thought it would be. I'm a nurse, I have seen suffering beyond belief. I have seen families devastated. I have seen death. But this, this was heart wrenching. I hugged and kissed her... and tried to not look at the missing pieces of my precious friend. Ray and I were in faith to bring Barrett to just let her see him... Barrett smiled at her. She smiled back. Her eyes looked at me as if to say, please help me, I don't know what to do... there was fear and panic in her sunken eyes. I touched her shoulder and Ray prayed for peace and healing from the pain. She was so grateful. I could tell.
So... there is no place to go from this devastation but to Jesus. He is a real source of comfort. I have seen that in Kim's life and in my own. He has not forgotten her as she lays helpless in her hospital bed. He has not forgotten her children. He has not forgotten her husband. He is counting every tear. I believe He is calling Kim and her family into the family of God. I don't believe that they are Christians, but I know that God is at work! I want to show her His love.
I stopped by their shop a few days ago... After much persistence, Nu said that we (and our caregroup) could bring Christmas presents for their kids. Their daughter is 10 and their son is 14. He also said that financially things are very hard because they will have to sell the business. I told him that we (and our church) would do whatever we can to help take care of them. I know that their greatest need has to be met in Jesus though. I am praying for their salvation. I know that their family would appreciate any prayers.
So... Christmas cards... they are wonderful! They show God's faithfulness in amazing ways! We are smiling because of Him! We may look perfect, but its His righteousness that covers us! Show off your kids and your families because we are RICHLY blessed! This year has been filled with a world colored with Jesus... and I am grateful! But... I am also aware that there is suffering, and it is real... the pain is deep, physically and emotionally. Jesus wants to come... right there where the pain is so deep and raw and He wants to pour Himself into that wound.
Oh, Jesus, minister your healing and comfort to your people today... and make us more aware of the simple gifts in our life... I have my hands to pick up my son today... I have my feet to serve my husband today... I am your Child. Thank Him. Thank Him today.
Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. Matt 12:13
(If there is any way that you would like to bless Kim's family this holiday season, please let me know...)