“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Hebrews 13:5b NIV

IMG_1525There is a ringing in my ears. Stays with me throughout the day. There is a “tumble-y” in my tummy that never goes away. Robs me of appetite.

The spinning world. The “turtle” speed. The never not knowing of exactly where I have placed my feet.

The Lower Story.

Bumbles and bumps. They leave a bruising. The fog and muddled-ness that takes siege of my brain.

The stumbling, the fatigue. The chronic pain. It eats away. Not leaving space to just be.

It is my story. P.O.T.S. Dysautonomia. Loss of independence. Life interrupted.

It is the Lower Story. The story I believe I am called to tell. To share. Encourage others with.

I learned of this concept, Lower Story and Upper Story, from Pastor Sam Bartlett, Sr. Pastor at First Baptist Church, Galax, Virginia. It has been eighteen years since we have been blessed to go back and visit the church we attended so many years ago. We were gifted by that blessing this past Sunday as we spent time with family and friends.

I don’t know how the Lower Story will end. Being one who always likes a plan, I tend to get tangled up in the “what if’s”. To say this place is out of my comfort zone is an understatement.

I do know this. God has a plan for my life. Says so in Jeremiah 29:11. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  

I cling to those words on the hard days.

As I walk through this chapter in my story, I also know this. Here in this “Lower Story” when I look beyond my circumstances, there are these brief moments of grace.

They are a peek into the Upper Story.

Some days. Some days they come hard. Hard to find, those brief moments of grace. So steeped in how I feel and the bits of self pity I sometimes let creep in. The grief at the loss for the way I once lived and moved sideswipes me out of nowhere. Unexpected. Robs me of breath.

And there are days. Days like this, when the blinds open up a bit and the Upper Story is so clearly on display.

The peek into His Glory where He meets me with His Grace…

I sat in my sweet Mama’s den as she slumbered away. The men folk out chasing biscuits and golfballs.

I watched the sun rise over the hill. The field of hay bales. The apple tree, where two young deer ate right off  the tree.

The dew glistens on the blades of grass. The crows cawing. A groundhog peeking out. Birds sing.

“…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

 Astounded at the beauty in that place, that moment, that brief glimpse of grace, I gave thanks.

My pen glides across the page of my journal. I list all that I see. Savor the smell of the mountain air. Fresh and cool. The breeze blowing over me.

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The ride through the country along the bottom where the New River winds and meanders.

There’s a slowing down to take it all in.

We stopped along the way. Sat in chairs with our feet propped up.

Laughed and shared memories.

Sat in the quiet of it all. Listened to the water move slowly along.

More of His Grace to meet me in this place. This thing I live with.

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“Selfies” were taken.

And taken again.

One with my man. The one who often holds me up. Never complains, even when I do. Twenty-eight years and counting. A precious gift.

Gives me grace when I pitch a temper-tantrum over this thing that has changed our lives.

One with my Mama.

Can you even began to figure who I might look like?!?

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Another gift. This woman who gives selflessly and tirelessly of herself. Loves big.

Days I wish I could be more like her. Able to fly by the seat of my pants. Go with the flow. Stay up late and sleep in.

Fearlessly speed down hills on her bicycle. Change a tire.

Laugh at anything. Including herself.

These are the things that make the hard easy. The place where God meets me.

It is an intentional searching. Searching for this Grace.

When I look down. Wallow up in the circumstances. I loose focus. I miss the gifts. Miss the grace.

Miss the beauty of the Upper Story. Loose hope. Waiver in faith.

Like Peter, when he took his eyes off Jesus as he walked across the water to meet him, lost his way. Nearly went under, save for the arms that reached out to catch him.

Pastor Sam said, “Faith is the ability to see God’s Power, God’s Presence, God’s Plan, in spite of the circumstances.”

It’s easier to look at the circumstances instead of the things that are higher. God’s Power, His Presence, His Plan.

Yet it is the only way. And in that place He will meet you with His Grace.

There you will find a glimpse, a peek at the Higher Story.

I don’t know your story. I know you have one. We all do. I pray that you have the hope of salvation. That you allow God to meet you with His Grace in that place.

Graced by God                                                                                    IMG_1798

Tammy Mashburn