“In the cool of the evening, when shadows darkened the Fair Grounds, Templeton crept from the crate and looked around. Wilbur lay asleep in the straw. Charlotte was building a web. Templeton’s keen nose detected many fine smells in the air. The rat was hungry and thirsty. He decided to go exploring. Without saying anything to anybody, he started off.
‘Bring me back a word!’ Charlotte called after him. ‘I shall be writing for the last time.'” (Charlotte’s Web, Chapter 18. E.B.White)
For once in my life I have no words. My mum says that I strung words into sentences before I turned one and have not stopped talking ever since. All through my life I’ve loved words. My Kindy report says that I ‘enjoy class discussions.’ My high school reports say I did not work to my potential because I was talking too much. I love to talk, publicly, privately, on the phone, through text message, any medium will do. I just love words. But in the last three weeks I have no words. I can’t write them or speak them. The few I do say come out all wrong. Perhaps that is just how it feels.
The turmoil of the past year has thrown me into a spin. I have been to places in my mind and in my experience where I never imagined I would go. I’m searching for the right words as I drive silently to appointments. I’m trying to be sensitive, encouraging and full of vision. I can’t imagine what it feels like to be Sam. I have done every step of this journey with her. I’ve been there almost every waking hour of this year by her side but I haven’t ever ventured into the corners and crevices of her mind. I don’t know what she feels or thinks. I tell her how relieved I am, that I am so glad she didn’t die because it had been so close. She nods. She has no words either. And then I remember the car accident of 1996, how I too, had almost died.
So many people said to me, “You are so lucky, you could have died.” And all I could do then was nod too. I did not know back then if it was so good to be alive. All I could see was my busted up face in the mirror, my leg in a cast, elevated for 3 months while my 2 year old son was farmed out to friends and Reid left work early to pick up the girls from school. Life didn’t feel so exciting then for me either. We had just lost our house and the little lakeside rental only really had the lake going for it.
I think a lot in the silence and I pray for a word and the word that comes to mind is ‘resilience.’ It isn’t in the Bible. Not in any of the translations I have searched but in spite of that it resonates with me.
As I whisper the word to myself I remember the paper run I used to do with Jack. He so desperately wanted to work when he was 12 but he was too young. I suggested he deliver papers and foolishly offered to help. Thus began our morning trek around Warriewood Headland with back packs filled with Manly Daily’s. The word ‘resilience’ hung in my mind by a thread, attached to a memory of a certain spider’s web I had encountered every single morning in Hunter St. Each day it caught me unawares that spider’s web. It wrapped around my face and my hair as I tripped in the dewy grass of morning, trying to peel it from me. I am not a ‘morning person’ and in my tired state I would always forget about the web nor could I see it because it was not quite light as we delivered papers.
As I thought of that web I considered the spider and its determination to build. Everyday she rebuilt the web I destroyed. Silky strands to house and catch food for her family. Maybe like me, she was discouraged, frustrated, weary and annoyed but every night she went to work for the thing she was created to do.
Psalm 127
‘Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain.
It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil–for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.
Happy, blessed, and fortunate is the man whose quiver is filled with them! They will not be put to shame when they speak with their adversaries [in gatherings] at the [city’s] gate.’
My children are the greatest blessing of my life. I became a mum when I was only 22 years old. From the moment of her birth, Sam was my greatest delight. I embraced motherhood completely and have devoted my life to it. It’s been a full life, a grand adventure but this year, like Emma’s blog is titled it’s ‘just a fork in the road.’ What do you do when you come to such a junction? Which path do you take? How do you avoid looking over your shoulder to the way life used to be?
Throughout the days that led up to the bone marrow transplant and the grueling weeks that followed I hung onto God’s coat tails like those Israelites must have hung onto Moses. I was afraid but eager to leave my Egypt where famine and plague had robbed me. Fueled with adrenaline and the hope of freedom I barely gave a thought for the days before cancer came, uninvited, through my door. My eyes were on the future, on the Promised Land where there is life without sickness and disease; suffering and hardship. I guess that is the vision that got those Israelites through as well. “One day,” they say, “one day my ship will come in,” “one day we will win the lottery and life will be sweet,” “One day…”
While we wait for that day to come however we grumble and complain. We do not stop to consider the moment or the miracle of this day. How quickly we forget that the horses and riders drowned in the same Red Sea we walked through. How quickly we lay the timbrels down and abandon the dance. When Moses led them through “the Red Sea and they went into the Wilderness of Shur, they went three days into the wilderness and found no water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its waters for they were bitter…The people murmured against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”
There is always something, isn’t there? There is always something to complain about. Something we do not have. I want the Promised Land not the Wilderness of Shur. I want it to be over. I want her to be completely well. I don’t want to administer the drugs every morning only to discover that a new problem has been discovered in the blood tests. Drugs are stopped, new ones introduced, more tests, infusions, more side effects. The doctor calls. He says “she can drink less so that she won’t be up all night going to the bathroom but unfortunately the side effect of the drug that treats her bladder will most likely make her extremely thirsty.” It is easy to get bitter in Marah. There seems to be no way out.
Moses is my role model and like him I cry out to God.
“And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree which he cast into the waters, and the waters were made sweet.” Exodus 15:25
As I cry out to God he reminds me of that tree
That He sent His son to hang on for me.
The price He paid was complete
To make my bitter waters sweet.
“There [the Lord] made for them a statute and an ordinance and there He proved them. Saying, if you will diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord your God and will do what is right in His sight, and will listen to and obey His commandments and keep all His statutes , I will put none of these diseases upon you which I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord Who heals you. Exodus 15:25-27
Through His cross we find deliverance and healing from all our diseases. Through His cross we find hope and redemption. Through His cross we have forgiveness for our sins. The price has been paid. He leads us to camp by the waters.
“And they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees.” Exodus 15:27
We can rest in His presence, refreshed by the springs in the shade of the trees even in the wilderness, long before we enter the Promised Land.
In Charlotte’s Web, the children’s story by E.B. White there was a promise of a prize for a pig called Wilbur. Throughout the story, Charlotte a spider weaves words in her web so that people will see Wilbur to be special. Her goal is to save his life. Wilbur is just an ordinary pig but the words of Charlotte cause him to be seen in a different light. Wilbur rises to the word spoken over him and does in fact receive a prize in the end.
My affinity with children’s literature draws another parallel for me as I journey through Leukaemia and now the after effects of a bone marrow transplant. I lift my eyes again to see the hope in the word written over our lives. I hear the call to the nations that they may know God through His word. As hard as this year has been, as much as I would have never have chosen this journey, one thing I know is this: God is faithful to His word to perform it. (Hebrews 10:23)
In John 11:1 we read “In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ) and the Word was with God and the Word was God himself.”
This year I have delved deeper into God’s word than ever before. I have known God for most of my life and His word which I had hidden in my heart has become alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow. Hebrews 4:12
His Word is always effective therefore the enemy seeks to steal it from us before we can experience its power. Just as Jesus taught in the parable
‘The sower sows the Word. Satan comes at once and [by force] takes away the message which is sown in them.’ Mark 4:13-15
In a similar way, Templeton, the rat came to Wilbur to announce, “As I came past that pig next door – the one that calls himself Uncle – I noticed a blue tag on the front of his pen. That means he has won first prize. I guess you are licked Wilbur. You might as well relax – nobody is going to pin a medal on you.”
The enemy wants us to focus on what we do not have, the unfulfilled dreams, the endless waiting, our yearning to have what others have, but God has already written over our lives. If we fix our minds on Jesus and the cross that made our bitter waters sweet we will live a blessed life and His glory will shine upon us.
Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]. James 4:10
I have no words but I have His. It is His light that will shine through my life. Though deep darkness covers the earth, His light will shine forth. He tells me “Because you have guarded and kept my word of patient endurance [have held fast the lesson of My patience with expectant endurance that I give you], I will also keep you safe.” Revelation 3:10
He is teaching me resilience as I drive to endless appointments through the long monotonous days. I wait to hear that it is over, I pray for the day when Sam is completely healed. I look forward to frivolous days filled with laughter but in this desert I walk with Him. His word is more than enough. His grace is sufficient for me.
I know that I can not live this life without Him. Why would I try? The same power that conquered the grave lives in me. His power is available to all. He comforts the weary. He restores our joy.


Filed under Life

18 responses to “Word

  1. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it. The road doesn’t actually change. We walk past the milestones as the journey bring us nearer to each destination then we move on to the next one, rough or smooth it’s still there, the road remains.

    It’s such a privilege to read your journey Clare and to pass a little bit of it with you even if that’s in prayer. Thanks for letting us in on it, rough and smooth, good news and less so. The words may come, they may not, and that’s ok. It really is; the holy ghost intercedes in groans in intercession so sometimes even he is speechless too!

  2. Bronte Waller

    Well…’word’ is worth 8 points in scrabble. ‘Nowords’ is worth 11 points. Your words, however, are as life-changing as ever, and worth so much more than you’ll ever know, Clare. Thank you for allowing us all the privilege of journeying with you thru the ‘truimphs’ and pain and ‘nowords’ness of this time in your lives. There truly is something so powerful in you letting us know a little of what this looks like from the inside. It is changing us all. XXXX

  3. I could write to your for hours & hours in response to what I’ve read on girlonaswing.wordpress.com. You are amazing. That’s about the most succinct use of words I can manage that even vaguely articulate how incredible you are. Through your words I have rediscovered God. I have rediscovered my faith. Despite being a Christian most of my life & growing up in a godly household with Christian parents, ‘life’ got in the way of my relationship with God. For the past almost-decade I’ve lived alone, unhappy, hopeless. But – & I though this probably sounds strange! – after reading a few entries on girlonaswing.wordpress.com, something happened. I don’t know the word for it, I don’t know how or why, but I do know – without a doubt – that it was God.

    I now feel like a child again, learning the ways of the Lord. I yearn for Christian instruction, for guidance, for knowledge. I want so much to have what you have; faith & hope & the knowledge that God is so much bigger. Thank you for writing, so much. God is using as his messenger for sure.

    Love Katie xx

  4. I remember when you were 11yrs old Hugh Voss was talking to dad and I,he said God has plans for Clare, we Knew that you have always loved the Lord and because of that Love you touch so many lives. Your girlonaswing is making a differance ,your writing is toughing people’s lives I love you mamxxx

  5. Mazmumoftwo

    thank you thank you thank you…..as a mum of 2, learing to be a stay at home Mum, there is something in me that would rather work… and having to deal with all that not working bring upon us, your words are a light for me.. they remind me of life and that life is journey, but to always seek God, no matter what.

    I can’t express how your blog has helped me.

    Thank you.

  6. monica olander

    The actual word “resilience” might not be found in the Bible, but…acacia wood!… acacia timber was chosen because of its resilience, its durability, strength, resistance to scrape, impermeability and water resistance, immunization against dry rots and insect pest (there’s a message just in that!).
    The outer wall curtain of the Tabernacle was supported by 60 acacia wood beams.
    The Altar of Burnt Offering, used by the priests to sacrifice, was made of acacia wood overlaid with bronze. Acacia poles were used to carry it.
    The Table of the Bread inside the ‘The Holy Place’ was made of acacia wood overlaid with bronze. The “Bread of the Presence” (12 loaves, one for each of the tribes of Israel), symbolized the provision of spiritual nourishment God offered His people.
    The “Ark of the Covenant”, located in the “Holy of Holies,” was made out of acacia wood and overlaid with pure gold. Four rings were fastened to its four feet, carried by poles of acacia wood.
    Acacia wood was such a foundational part of the Tabernacle, the relationship between God and His people. To me, it speaks of strength, support, sacrifice, provision and forgiveness; God’s work in us and our reaching out to others and giving what He has freely given us; our ability to support and strengthen others, to give of ourselves to and for others, and to come back from life’s twistings and turnings while retaining our “God” shape.

    Clare, there are so many words I think of when I think of you…. yes, resilient…strong, amazing, faith-filled, unsurrendering, yet surrendering, patient, kind, beautiful, full of hope, generous, loving, tenacious, committed, believing…the list goes on. You are an incredible lady and it has been a privilege to be a part of the journey with you, Reid, Sam, Emma and Jack in prayer. Never giving up… Love Monica x

  7. Katey Highfield

    Oh Clare, what an amazing journey this is….

    Sometimes I think He is a secret quilter (I know this isn’t my idea – but I have NO idea where its from?!). We can’t see the amazing quilt that is being painstakingly sewn. To us – we see the messy knots and tangled threads. We see the visaflex being used and can’t see the hand embroidered sections and sparkly bits being added so carefully. We have to remember that He has the pattern and Clare, your faith reminds me of that. You KNOW that He has it all sorted & planned before we can even begin to worry.

    This journey you are all on as a family is fashioning an amazing quilt – soft and cosy and amazingly colourful. He is weaving your story and He is weaving it into so many lives and I’m privileged that its in mine too!

    xo K

  8. dadsbabysteps

    your words ring with such truth. I remember a night driving over the lane cove river. Screaming at God like I never had before. When i finally shut my mouth there was this distinct deafening silence that gave me more answers than any book I had read. I always remember that passage in Job where God says to Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth…” kind a humbling hey.
    I got to chat with your amazing daughter today. You should be very proud of the amazing children you have.

  9. Claire, like God you have caused me to “lift up my eyes and see from where my help comes from its from the lord”…the words he has for us “his banner over us is Love”. I feel his love through your WORDS.

  10. Simone Stewart

    I too am a talker, loud mouthed I would say, often talking when there is silence for no reason other than to fill the quiet, communication brings me life, I feel lost without words. Many times over this year my words to God have been loud, frustrated, anxious, I have felt lost with sam working so much, lost without my vic girlfriends chatter, lost without my neighbours to converse with but your words on this journey have quietened me. Your words have made me stop ranting to God but opened my ears to listen, to hear him in the quiet, its made me realise that sometimes the most powerful form of communication is not words but hearing, listening. Your words have made me look up, they have changed my relationship with God. I am now trying to be more Big eared than loud mouthed. Thankyou Clare, keep writing even if you feel wordless, you are inspiring!

  11. Kim Baird ( Sis)

    Lost for words hey sis … I think thats the longest and GREATEST one you have written – Wow when you are not lost for words you will be writing an epic( and that too, will be amazing) – Love ya so much – Mwa

  12. Lynda Lalor

    Hi Clare. Im with Kim. They say that difficult times bring out what is on the inside.Everyone that reads your blogs are so blessed by what comes out.I am so glad that you are encouraged not only by the word but also by all your friends.You are little in stature but you have an enormous heart.I hope you find a moment of joy today.

  13. Meredith Harvey

    Clare, for someone with ‘no words’…WOW!!!! Again you have inspired me to always look heavenward and to reassess my priorities in life. You are a blessing and an encouragement and i feel so privileged to get a small glimpse into your life this year.
    Please continue to write, even though you feel you have nothing, because as you write God is clearly defining your words to bring meaning to many.
    Being still and listening ot God can be hard, but you have taught me through your words, that i need to do this more, with all aspects of my life.
    It was so lovely seeing you at work last week, i so enjoy seeing you smile, laugh and interact with the kids.
    You are an amazingly, incredible woman, what a blessing to call you a friend.
    Love Mez xxx

  14. Jane Grover

    Well I typed out a humourous insightful comment Clare, but when submitting it in my haste, I neglected to enter my name & email……so alas my comment was lost to the ether……very annoying !!!! so here I go again!
    Firstly, I too consistently received comment on my school reports “Jane would do much better, IF she was to concentrate & stop talking” (many are shocked right now I know!!) anyway I often wanted to come back to the teacher with the response I am concentrating…..on the conversation I am having!!!! rather than on what you are saying!Anyway enough of my lack of self discipline at school……..due to my seeming need to converse constantly, my academics did suffer and I will therefore not be offering such an informative & deeply symbolic comment on your writings, as that offered by wise owl Monica on the topic of acacia wood xx
    I instead (when I have finished talking about myself )will attempt to offer humour & encouragement to you Clare as its what I do!
    Clare your resillence & commitment this past year has been remarkable, which is why I now remark on it! Not only have you hung on, but you have allowed us to journey with you x From the above comments it is clear many beautiful people are reading your words and their lives are being impacted. Regardless of what life serves you up Clare, you continue to give to others, gather others & connect others to God, to yourself and to each other. he made you for this. Comment 3 from Katie above is the essence of the potiential your life & writings can, do & will bring……..your words Clare have bought this life back to our God, one of many I am sure…….so whether you feel lost for words or inspired to words…..keep writing………God is using your words and many are waiting to read them x so let those days of ones telling you to stop talking, ones wanting to silence your voice be over & forgotten & continue in your boldness to speak it out xx

  15. Susannah

    Clare, your words have left me undone. I am so astounded….that’s the word that comes to mind at your honesty and candor (spell?).

    Your journey is not one that I envy however in saying that, the closeness you feel to God and the insight you’ve felt into His word is something you will always be grateful…as are we!

    Thank you for sharing the insights and stories…you are heroic.

    All my love,
    Susannah xxx

  16. Deborah

    Hi Clare, came across your name and then your blog by chance when looking up something on the internet. It’s been a long time. Sorry to read about Sam’s illness. Your blog has really touched me, am thinking of you all and praying for you all. Steve survived cancer 10 years ago so I can understand a little of what you”re going through, although his wasn’t as harrowing as the year you have all been having. Take care – Deborah Gleeson xx

  17. Sandy Foster

    Steadfast – that’s you Clare… firmly underpinning the resilience you have shown.

    I love your words they paint such a powerful colourful picutre that connects our hearts to you. I am praying that His joy will strengthen you continually forevermore – the bubbily, talkative, chirpy, fun Clare who radiates the love of Jesus has taken an (unfair) hit from the enemy, but look at you – unwavering in your commitment to Christ, your family your mothering, your firends. Knocked over, but not down – I love it – His strength is perfected in our weaknesses – lost for words and you find His words! You are so precious Clare – thank you thank you thank you for letting us in to your world – that nasty rat Templeton didn’t have the last say over Wilbur. God’s promises to you are YES AND AMEN. LOVE you xxx

  18. WOW Clare, look at those comments. When is your book coming out? xxx

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