Wednesday, December 26, 2007
For the last several weeks I've had a pain under my rib cage. It makes it hurt to get a deep breath, cough, or move. It's nothing severe, or even important, just annoying. But I learned a lesson in it.
I had a dream. And in this dream I dreamed I was standing in a field, and eleven sheaves of wheat bowed down to me... wait... wrong dream.
I dreamed a doctor told me my pain was being caused by a tumor. It might be cancerous, or benign they wouldn't know until they got it out. They weren't going to biopsy it, because he said either way it had to come out because it was growing too large and it was restricting my blood flow so I could have a heart attack if it wasn't removed quickly.
I remember taking the gamble that nothing would happen, and decided to hold off on treatment until my insurance kicked in at my new job.
Some more things happened, and I'm sorry to say it wasn't a good gamble I took. So many things happened that I don't have time or desire to tell you about, but ultimately I woke up stressed out and more tired than when I went to bed (but not on the brink of death anymore, so that was a good thing). A seemingly innocent pain, had suddenly become life-threatening, finance-wrecking, family-destroying disaster. It took a moment for reality to return, but as it did the words came to me: "Sometimes a pain is just a pain."
I get caught up in fixing things. When something breaks, lifes central focus becomes "fix it" and until it's fixed, not much else gets done. It's not a good method for life, because with a little attention a lot of breaks could be prevented, if only I wasn't so focused on fixing one little break to stop the 50 others.
In the same way, when I'm hurting over something, I stop trying to grow, stop trying to learn, and I almost stopped going to church, just waiting for the pain to pass.
I'm not suggesting God told me to accept a mediocre life, accepting pain and hardship as though He had no power over it. But, hearing those words brought me a measure of peace.
He didn't say "Sometimes pain is just a test" or "...a punishment" or even "...what you reap from sowing as badly as you've sowed."
Sometimes a pain is just a pain.
I drive a 97 Nissan Sentra, with a salvage title, and a busted door that lets in a lot of road noise and rain, no tail lights, and an alignment problem that perpetually has me curving to the right. At the moment it's in the shop because it finally gained a problem that stopped it from running. But all those other problems? Didn't stop it a bit. It didn't even slow it down. It's gone, and it's gone, and it's gone.
I've spent a week now driving a sleek, sweet rental car. And as smooth as the ride is, I find myself thinking more and more about my car and how much better it fits me. I've been broken, refixed, and certainly let in a lot of road noise, and without a constant firm hand, I veer off the road even faster than my car does. But I'm still drivable. Just keep me on the road, turn up the radio volume to drown out the road noise (metaphor... just think about it), and point me in the right direction.
Sometimes pain is just pain. It's not there to be controlled, blamed, whined about, fixed, or avoided. It's just there to be felt. And then drive on anyway.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
I'm here, temporarily a parent-like person. You though, you, signed up for a lifetime commitment. And when you signed up you might not have been single. Singlehood, or widowhood, may have just been thrust on you.
Some of you maybe thought 17 was a good age to do what you felt ready for, and you rolled the dice hoping that pregnancy wouldn't happen to you. Now, 5 yrs later you're 23 with a 5 yr old. Maybe not regretting, but probably still struggling.
I have the utmost respect for you.
There is question after question, concern after concern and no one to ease the guilt of having caused the tears. And if you've got a teen, there's no one around to tell you that you aren't being unfair and that your teen really doesn't hate you.
There isn't anyone who can tell you you're doing a good job, because you know that only you know the 24/7 story and you're still telling Dr Phil to shut up every time he tells you to "be consistent".
And when the washing machine breaks, the roof leaks, or dinner burns. It's up to you. And not only is it up to you, but little eyes are watching to see what you do too.
Kudos to you, for waking up every day and going at it. For doing all the crazy little things that make life special for your child(ren). For all the lessons that you did teach even when you think nothing is sinking in.
And now, I'm going to let you in on a twisted secret.
Give you child a good, strong, foundation in Jesus Christ. Pray for them. Read to them from the Bible. Tell them all about Jesus and how much He loves them. Teach them about the Holy Spirit, and how He is an ever present help in the time of trouble and joy. Teach them about God, the maker and creator of everything, who sees them, knows them, and loves them so much and will hear their prayers and wants to save their souls.
It's what I do. Over and over again. So hopefully 20 yrs down the road when my child is still recovering from whatever scars she's gained from my random-what-am-I-doing?-parenting, she'll remember that Jesus the Healer can make all things new and heal and use our scars. It's like giving your child a multivitamin because you know you've given them a less than balanced diet.
I could tell you about the special good moments we all know about. The quirky smiles, or the first time you look at their artwork and think "wow, that actually looks like something!", when you're both surprised that the shoe was successfully tied (though you're trying to cover your surprise because you've been saying "You can do it!" for the last 2 hours because the shoe came untied 27 times in the last two hours), and there's also that moment when one of your kids turns around and does something so selfless and kind that you're wondering where they got that sweetness from.
It was you.
Kudos to you every day for the rest of your life.
Consider this my Christmas present to all the single parents:
Jesus doesn't just love your child.
He loves you too.
The next night, Thursday, I stood next to her hospital bed while she told me -not for the first time - that her bags were packed, and she was ready to go. Moments later I watched her cry, then gruffly say she's just having a pity party because she's still here.
In a conversation the night before she was released from the hospital, her desire for her heavenly home was in both our minds when she suddenly turned to me and said, "I'm just gonna praise Him. That's all I can do. I'm just gonna praise Him."
A few days passed and having left the hospital, she spent yesterday (Saturday) at the church with us sticking address labels on some tracts for some gift bags our church would be passing out. She hugged her great-grandchildren who had just arrived from Georgia, and just before she left the church, she got to visit with a grandson who had just arrived also.
She went back to the nursing home because she hates to miss a meal, then she spent the afternoon playing Bingo for the first time, and she won.
Then at 3am this morning she passed away.
It was her lucky day.
She'd lived 78 long and very full years.
I was blessed to have known her.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
This post was written Tuesday in a letter, and it's the best I've been able to write so far.
My car died today.
It's going to be in a coma for the next few days until a transplant can be shipped in to revive it. It's funny how my car always seems to die on the day I'm going to get it looked at. My belt has been squealing, so I bought some of the belt dressing stuff to spray on it. Just in case it was an easy fix. The stuff didn't help. But I planned on getting it looked at today. It just didn't last long enough.
Today, Little One had a dentists visit and I had to take off work early to take her to it, and then drop her off at visitation with her parents who I met for the first time today. Her mom is upset with me because Little One called me mama in front of her last week. I had to take a letter to mom explaining why she's calling me mama now, and how it helps Little One cope and encouraging her not to give up all her progress over the discouragement of the irregular visits lately (no visits for the next two weeks because CPS will be closed on visitation days because of holidays and their schedule is too busy to fit her in on another day of the week during the holidays).
Before that happened though, I got a call from Little Ones daycare about two hours before I was suppose to pick her up for the dentist. They says she's got lice. I haven't been checking her because for so long her hair was short and it wasn't an issue. Well, apparently her hair's long enough now. I came home, treated her hair, got her ready for the dentists, and off we went.
To the dentists, (she's got beautiful healthy teeth) then dropped her off at the visit, met bio parents, and a grandma and then drove home to the sound of stuff falling off my car. I made it to union street before the pulley actually fell off and all the lights went on telling me my car was about to die (I can drive it until the battery runs out of juice, but I'm not going to, it'll sit there until it goes to the shop after the transplant pulley comes in).
I pull on an old t-shirt and stick my hair in a pony tail, jack the car up and try and look all car-guyish, to make sure I really did lose a pulley. I did. I came in and made transportation arrangements and Mr Fixit arrangements and asked my dad some car guy questions. Then he asked me alzheimer questions. Like I know the best treatment, or what to do. That's the problem with having the internet and having all the answers to their simple questions. Sometimes they think I can google "how to cure alzeimers" and something will come up. I did. The very first sentence google shows is "there is no cure for alzheimers".
This is going to be a long post.
I know what people mean when they talk of having to decide if they believe what they believe because they believed it or because they'd been told it all their life. I went through that in 2002 when I first moved into my old house. That's where I found my real relationship with God. The deep one that I'm hanging onto right now. I miss Him.
I told someone a couple of months back that when you see/hear so much from the devil, you start searching more to find God just to make it through. I use to be able to find those quiet refreshing times when you could just sit in His presence and not just think things would be ok, but you could almost see it, feel it, sense it, and it wasn't in a way that meant your situations would change. It was just... He's here, so no matter what the situation you know it's going to be ok. Come death, come pain, come car problems, come kid problems, come hospitals, come bills, it's all alright. And when all those things got to you and began to wear you down you could just stop, and stop anywhere, and hear that voice, feel the Master of Peace, and your soul and spirit (though maybe not always your body) would be refreshed.
I complained to someone the other night that there isn't peace anywhere now. It use to be at my fingertips and now it's just... gone. And in it's place is this remarkable sadness. It's how I've come to imagine life will feel when Little One leaves. You keep looking around, expecting it to be there, and it's not and every time you reach for it and find it gone you're more disappointed than the moment before.
There's more, that I just can't write. Just won't write I suppose is the most honest statement. But it's the thing that exhausts me the most and leaves me wondering where God is. The plain answer to where God is is simply "He won't leave you or forsake you, so He's right there." But, reading the bible is like reading letters of a long lost, dearly beloved friend. You just want to see Him, talk to Him yourself, sit and be together. Words on paper just aren't enough.
I remember the movie "The Patriot" with Mel Gibson. This passionate man begins a virtually impossible battle, gets all these forces together, and they follow his grim and deathly determined lead. Only to find themselves going to battle alone, when his son gets killed in battle and he loses heart. All those men standing there, fighting for a cause they do believe in, had less heart because their fierce leader wasn't there. He finally shows up and it's enough to win the battle for them, not necessarily because he did so much but because his presence changed the hearts of the men.
With everything combined going on around me, I feel like one of those men. Without my fearless leader, I'm standing in a battle thinking "I'm going to get creamed, and it will be such a crushing loss that any efforts I extend will be pathetic and insignificant."
If anything, I've started to think of this as a "for the duration" thing. Where you settle down and prepare yourself not for a sprint, but a marathon. And you know you're not in good enough shape to win, but you just hope you haven't lost too much by the time it's over.
I'm not really writing this for answers. I've come to think that maybe there is no answer other than wait - wait on God then keep waiting. Maybe I'm just writing this because I like writing so much it's hard for me not to blog. Maybe I'll skip my ban and blog this.
I didn't write this to complain about the car, or bio parents, lice or even God. I didn't write this for answers or questions. But it certainly feels better to have put it into words. I wish I could talk more like I write. But my mouth doesn't have a backspace button.
I found it at Steven Furtick's blog on his church "Elevation", a church that apparently meets in school stadiums, and has no permanent location. Yet recently, it's collective members managed to raise 6 million dollars.
His post was titled God stoops down to raise me up.
You (Lord) stoop down to make me great.
Now that’s some great perspective!
In Psalm 18, David is rattling off a resume of his kingly accomplishments, strengths, and victories. But just to be sure that he doesn’t get carried away with his bad self, he pauses and acknowledges:
“Even the highest human height is the bottom of the barrel of the capability and glory of God. Greatness to me is stooping to Him.”
This is a critical tension for every Christian to hold in balance:God has made me great…But He’s so much greater…that He had to stoop to do it.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
Saturday, December 15, 2007
It's been months now, since everything got thrown up into the air and I've simply tried to hang on.
A friend that knew I was struggling sent me a link to a sermon by TD Jakes.
I've never been a huge TD Jakes fan, but I listened to every word of the video, and whether you think he's right, or whether you think he's wrong, he described me word for word.
For the last two weeks I've seriously contemplated walking away from church. I say this timidly because my pastor reads this blog and I have no desire to hurt him - I'm sorry Pastor, you've got too much to deal with to be reading this.
But, I've been chained to church mentally. God or no God, I would have continued going to church. I could lose all faith, all hope, all conviction, and I still would have gone to church. Then just a couple of weeks back that chain snapped. And I've had to make a decision every single time the doors open whether or not I would go. My biggest reason for continuing to go so far is primarily because I don't want this time of confusion to end and find myself looking back on how I gave up. I don't want to regret any more than I already do. So I'm still there. But having that chain snap scared me. It made me realize just how far I've gone off the end of everything I've held on to.
And now, I'm hanging onto what I've believed in all my life. Despite the fact that none of it feels true. It feels like God just wandered off the last several months and left me alone to deal with all the chaos that He had me put in my life. First I was angry with Him, for months I grumbled at Him. And now I've climbed down into a sad, quiet little place where I'm just holding onto small fragments of faith and praying that this ends.
I've set aside the illusion that I might come out of this thinking how well I went through it.
I'm holding on, but I have no desire to fill my blog, the record of my walk, with all the groanings I've been doing during this time. I thought I would... a few days ago I posted that you might be surprised at what I posted, only to find myself unable to put it into words. So for now, my blog will be silent. I don't know when I'll come back but it's time for absolute silence until I find my stability.
I believe God is good. And when I say I'm holding on, the belief in His goodness is all I'm holding on to. He'll bring me through. Surely. He's too good not to.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Then I noticed they were one right after another on both sides of me.
Then I noticed there was a name on the window of each door.
My heart sunk, and I stop following the people leading me down the corridor, and I peered in the window.
Inside there was a small bed. It was maybe 5 foot long. The entire room altogether was smaller than my bathroom.
It was a prisoners home.
I'd seen these kids, talked to a few of them. Some of them were over 6 ft tall. I couldn't imagine them sleeping on that tiny bed. That bed wasn't even twin sized. It was at best a cot.
It was a prison.
I work in the Human Resource department at a correctional facility for kids ages 11-19. 11 yr old boys go to sleep in that tiny box. I can't get past it.
But I did walk on past it. The staff that guard these prisoners/children are proud of their unit. They keep it clean and orderly and they hosted a dinner for all the staff to come in and join their lunch. Just before we lined up for food though, a large man, who looked a good deal like John Coffee from The Green Mile stood up. And they asked everyone to stand up for the blessing of the food.
As this huge hulk of a man stood there, he humbly thanked God for baby Jesus, and His dying on an old rugged cross for our iniquities, and how thankful he was that we could see Gods love when we all get together to eat like this. And that's nearly quoting him.
And standing in Unit 17/18, I felt the presence of God.
And I thought about Paul and Silas' fellow prisoners that day when Paul and Silas praised God. Sometimes all I see is the prison. I'm sure that's primarily all these kids see in their walls. But occasionally, someone walks into your prison that sets you free even in your chains. It's nothing you've done. You were just fortunate enough to be in the cell next to someone who saw something better than the prison walls. And you're blessed just to have been in the right place, at the right time.
For once, I don't write this with any real connection to myself, but just gratitude that at least the kids on unit 17/18 have this man walking their corridor.
We were told to pray tonight, so I dutifully knelt down and if God had been an actual person, I would be able to say I stared at Him in silence for the next 5 minutes.
I don't actually know how long it was, but almost everyone had quit praying when suddenly I broke my silence with a simple "You've given me more than I can handle."
There wasn't anything else to say. Nothing to add. No complaints, or reasonings, no listing of the burdens or problems, just a simple "It's more than I can handle."
It was enough to get me through. When I stood up the burden was lighter, but I felt a strong check later in the evening from God about the need for me to keep returning to Him. Suddenly that old poem "I had so much to accomplish, I didn't have time to pray" that ends with "I had so much to accomplish, that I had to take time and pray." - while always understandable - that poem became real to me tonight. Without that time with God, crawling into a deep fulfilling place with Him each and every day, the crazy stress and burdens just pile up until you're literally buried in them, with no hope of daylight in sight.
We (and by 'we' I mean "I") tend to put off the necessity of God. It's easy to say you need salvation, you need God, you need hope, your need peace blah blah blah. Those things are justifiable. Even to the world to some extent. But at some point the need to talk to God has to trump my need to get a couple of loads of laundry done, my need to vacuum the house, my need to read a book to Little One, or play the piano. It would be nice if when that overwhelmed feeling started rising and blocking my airway, if right that moment, everything else got cast into 2nd priority under talking to the only One who can get me safely and sinlessly into the next hour.
I say sinlessly, because once the world climbs onto your shoulders and you attempt to carry it uphill, in the snow, against the wind... lets just say your patient demeanor tends to go down the toilet. You start fighting for every inch. It's like a relay race with Jesus jumping up and down next to you saying "I'll run next!" only you're too busy fighting for another inch to realize you're losing the race because you don't want to take a second to pass the buck to Someone who can take it.
Tonight when I told God He'd given me more than I can handle, He didn't come back with a reassurance that I could handle it. He didn't tell me things would be alright. He didn't tell me people would stop being hurt or that He'd ease the pain. He didn't, at least to my knowledge, work any huge miracle. But, He was there. And it got me through another day.
Thursday, December 06, 2007
"I don't know about you but my faith is like a flickering light. I've just got to remember in the dark what I saw in the light and keep walking." - Mark Lowry
I've noticed in the last several weeks that this time feels similar to those early days. I found myself wondering if there was a connection to this and my asking for more of God. To get more of God He's got to break away more of me. And perhaps this is all just part of the painful process.
It's just one of those things I wonder, especially as I find myself praying that this time has a valuable purpose.
I've fought with God. I've yelled at Him, thanked Him, turned my back to Him, and loved Him more intensely than I ever have before. This walk seems more like an hour by hour thing, rather than a day by day thing. I'm glad He's still here with me. Though I've got to admit, I've spent some cautious moments timidly looking towards God wondering if He hated me this time.
In all my struggles I'm afraid that I write too often about the struggle and not enough about how awesome I find God to be. The wonder gets lost in the nitty gritty. And I want to make sure I look back on these times and know how deeply I loved God. Sure I'll see how much it was hurting, sure I'll see that some times I pounded the walls in frustration asking God a thousand and one 'why' questions, but I also want to look back and see that through it all I also sat at His feet and wept for the sheer privilege of knowing Him, experiencing Him, loving Him.
There's a song that I've sung over and over and over because each and every word is true specifically of my life:
When I think about the Lord
How He saved me - (Oh, did He save me)
How He raised me - (Ok, I might look a mess, but He raised me from a miry pit and I am standing because of it)
How He filled me with the Holy Ghost - (a little over a year ago, after seeking it for so long)
How He healed me to the uttermost - (He's still healing me, but He's healed so much already. But when I think of this line I actually remember the time years ago and I had an infection, a visiting preacher came to our church and prayed over me and I felt a burning heat and the pain was gone.)
When I think about the Lord
How He picked me up and turned me around
And set my feet, on solid ground. (6 years ago so much of my time seeking was spent knelt down almost into a ball, crying my eyes out. I've found myself knelt down again lately, but in those months of weeping He picked me up and absolutely turned my life around. And despite everything that I've whined and moaned about, He's set my feet on solid ground.)
It makes me wanna shout!
Thank you Jesus
Lord you're worthy
Of all the Glory
And all the Honor
And all the Praise.
Here's a link if you'd like to hear the song being sung.
He's done a lot for me. God, You've done so much for me. I don't mean to focus so much on the struggle that I forget the victories You've already won for me. I'm sorry.
A friend sent me a link to a video (thank you Lindy) and in the video Mark Lowry is talking about a tornado he survived, and how he would have enjoyed himself a lot more if he'd of known he was going to live through it. And it was a good reminder for me tonight. All these things that are happening around me are but for the blink of Gods eye. The person my heart is breaking for will one day no longer have to endure suffering, but bask in an eternity with God. They're going to live through this, and this pain only lasts a lifetime, and a lifetime is not that long compared to the joy they will have for eternity.
I guess I forget too easily that this lifetime is the short run, not the long run. And in the long run, everything is going to be wonderful.
Others would find me trying to explain the strange things taking place in my walk only to leave me scratching my head trying to figure out how to make it not sound unChristian. Yes, you read right.
And I've realized that over the months I suppose I fell into writing for an audience. Rather than writing for me. Not to say I want my audience to leave, because I've appreciated the feedback, the advice, the prayers, the encouragement, and the list goes on and on. But especially during this last month I've sat down and instead of writing what was in my heart, I told myself that the little crowd of people who visit either might not agree, understand, or worse yet, they might be discouraged by the up and down emotions of this rocky year.
I still don't know how to explain a lot that has happened but from here on out, my walk is going to be just that - my walk. Brutally honest and candid.
Again, I can't tell you enough how glad I am you read this blog. I've made several very wise friends through this blog that give me confidence that should I ever take a leap from sound doctrine, that I'll be hearing from them. In the next few posts you may very well see that flying leap. So keep watching me, commenting, and most of all, for those that have prayed -keep praying for me.
I look forward to finding each of you in Heaven one day, since it likely won't happen here on earth.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
What does the whole "won't give you more than you can bear" mean anyway? If I walked away from God tomorrow, you wouldn't shake your head at God saying He gave me more than I could bear. If it literally killed me tomorrow, you still wouldn't say God gave me more than I could bear. So what comfort am I actually supposed to get from that?
I don't ask any of this in anger. I just wish I knew the answers. I wish I knew what He meant by all this. Why did He let me know about bad things, if there was nothing that could be done to fix them? I don't get it. I just don't get it.
What on earth is He thinking? What does He want?
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
We just returned from the doctor with medicine and it turns out my Little One has strep throat. Her temp just soared again and for the first time in her young life she's calling in sick which means she won't see mommy today.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
I want a bug free life. I want a bug free mind. Peace, real peace doesn't come from running from those bugs the devil has hatched in my mind, but from killing them. And then clinging to the truth. The Truth. For every lie, there is a truth. And I will never find freedom, peace, joy, until I find the truths that God has provided for each lie, and cling.
I came home from church tonight and collected the remains of four bugs off my floor. I've been told they're coming from my neighbors house since he was doing some remodeling. But having just read that paragraph earlier in the day, I couldn't help but think of just how buggy my life really is.
If you've watched my blog this past year, you've seen me bug out, stand up, only to almost immediately bug back out again. Sometimes I'm not even lucky enough to stand up before I bug out again. It's really been a crazy year - in the fullest sense of the term 'crazy'. Maybe that's why my words about finding freedom, peace, and joy meant so much to me as I read them today. Those three things seem ever so elusive.
I want to leave you with one more thought I had in the past:
I believe God is loving, even when I feel unloved. I believe God is just, even when I feel mistreated. I believe God is faithful, even when I feel alone. I believe God is merciful, even when I feel condemned. And I believe God is my comforter, even when I feel overwhelmed by grief
God is good.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
It's the greatest commandment. The greatest.
Thou shalt love God. (shortened)
Thou shalt love God.
If I ordered you to love me as a daughter, a wife, a sister, a mother... wouldn't you laugh at the impossibility of such an order? I can't just tell you to love me.
But God told you to love me too.
Thou shalt love your neighbor.
It's the second greatest commandment.
Love is so fickle now days, with people thinking they're in love, getting married, and then 'falling out of love' and getting divorced. Families set against each other locked in bitter silences. All this, seemingly out of our control, because "you just can't make yourself feel love for someone".
Yet here God, without a moment of hesitation, says You MUST love Me. You MUST love your neighbor.
If I MUST - how do I do it?
Some neighbors are harder to love than others.
And sometimes you just don't feel anything.
In reflecting on G.D. Watsons teaching to love the person of Christ, I began to wonder about my desire for Heaven.
If I had the choice for Heaven, a sinless place where only people that loved God were, the angelic choir is singing Holy Holy Holy, and finding Paul or Timothy and talking to them, no sickness, no suffering, no death, no tears -
Would I chose that over staying in a sinful world if Jesus were walking on it as He once did?
If so, did I break the greatest commandment or fulfill it?
We have a revelation of God's personal feelings in the first commandment. We are to love Him with all our heart! The complaint that Jesus had against the Church at Ephesus was their lack of fervent, personal love for Him; they had "works" and "labor" and "patience," and great zeal in searching out heretics, and in bearing persecution and the scorn of their neighbors, and had not fainted under hardships. If such a list of graces were now found in one person, he would be esteemed a great saint ; and yet the infinite Searcher of hearts saw the lack of something for which all these noble virtues could not atone; and that was a warm, deep, incessant, cleaving, tender passion of soul for the person of the Lord Jesus.
Very few Christians reach such an intimacy with our dear Lord as to receive and appreciate His individual feelings. Jesus is an infinite lover, and nothing will satisfy Him but a pure, sacred, passionate, and personal love. He loves to be loved. He loves those most who have the most personal affection for Him. There are so many things that are eminently religious, and brave, and enterprising, and reformatory, which display great zeal and orthodoxy, but which do not satisfy the longings of our Savior's heart.
This form of love is strongly attached to the possessions of Christ. There is a peculiar attachment which always goes with the possession of a thing. It is the affection of ownership. As soon as anything becomes our property, we have a peculiar attachment which never could exist previous to ownership. This is; why Jesus said, "Where your possessions are, there will your heart be," He does not say the possessions will go where the heart is, but the heart will go where the possessions are. Hence the soul in perfect, loving union with Jesus will find itself taking hold of all His personal kingdom and all His property, as a young queen finds the affections of her heart stretching out to all the subjects and enterprises of her King's dominion.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
There's a site you can go to and read a daily journal of his progress if you would like. And a guestbook if you'd like to leave a word of prayer or support for the family.
You have to put in your e-mail address and register with them, I'm sure you understand that any precaution is reasonable considering all the family is dealing with.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
We have a whole new perspective on life. The Lord has provided everything we need. We have a rental home, beds, refrigerator, washer/dryer. All the rest of the stuff that was in our home ended up being fuel for the fire. We are humbled and convicted about all the money we spent on knick-knacks and so forth that could have been spent helping other people. We are going to go about life completely differently this time. We are changed people.
I wrote an entire post about it, only to finally end up erasing it and coming back to rest at his quote. I wish I could express how close to my heart this is. If you could start all over with nothing, a brand new slate, would you actually try and keep it that way?
Monday, November 26, 2007
If you've spent much time at all in the book of Ezekiel, you know that God is pretty ticked off. It's verse after verse of "You've played the harlot with your idols" and "I will unleash my fury" and all sorts of other very frightening predictions/declarations if you're looking at it from the receivers point of view. But here, in chapter 20 verses 41-44 there is just a brief moment where you're able to take a breath and remember how merciful God is.
"I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I lifted my hand in an oath to give to your fathers. And there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed. Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have dealt with you for My name's sake, not according to your wicked ways nor according to your corrupt doings, O house of Israel," says the Lord GOD'."
It's what I couldn't figure out how to say for the last couple of weeks. I remember crashing. I remember my weakness, my confusion, my inability to stand. And now I'm being gathered together to Him again, and then, I knew that He is the LORD, when He dealt with me for His name's sake, not according to my ways.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
The words go:
When the music fades and all is stripped away, and I simply come. Longing just to bring, something that's of worth, that will bless Your heart.
I'm coming back to the heart of worship and it's all about You, it's all about You, Jesus.
I'm sorry Lord for the thing I made it, when it's all about You, it's all about You Jesus.
I've had several people jokingly tell me that I didn't get the heart of the song, because I always play the piano during that song. And the song starts off "When the music fades". It's a joke, I'm not offended, but remembering it now, I wonder if those people had as limited an idea of the song as I did. Until recently.
There are so many aspects to worship. It's not just singing. In anything that we give to Jesus, it's all too easy to start focusing on the giving, rather than the Receiver. I know in my own life I often find myself working hard. But I forget what I'm working AT. Sometimes you get so busy singing a song, you forget you're worshipping God. Sometimes you get so busy writing a check you forget you're tithing to God. Sometimes you get so busy cooking a meal, correcting, and giving baths, that you forget you're raising a child.
I've been interested in the story of Mary and Martha ever since I read the post concerning their application to real life by John Lynch.
I wish the bible gave me an indication of what Martha did after God told her only one thing was needful and that Mary had chosen it. I wonder if she said "I'm coming back to the heart of worship Master, and it's all about You."
Or did she just go back to her preparations confused about how she was suppose to feed Him AND sit at his feet.
Friday, November 23, 2007
It's written by Jim Martin over at "A place for the God-Hungry". It's simply titled "Graciousness".
Thursday, November 22, 2007
But, as I woke up this morning I wondered.... how would Jesus celebrate Thanksgiving?
Would He go eat with family? For some reason, I'm not sure He would.
He held to the Passover tradition. Did that feel like a holiday? Even then, He didn't go to His parents for a Passover Lamb. But He did honor it with His disciples. Who cooked the passover meal for Him?
I don't think Jesus would celebrate by watcing the parades this morning. Or eating till He was stuffed.
When Christmas rolls around, I don't think He'd buy toys and games for kids that have toys and games. I think His gifts would be far more practical, and not necessarily given to those he's related to or friends with. I think He'd give where the need was. Not where the expectation was.
That's not to say He doesn't bless us beautifully with things. My job is certainly a gift that went beyond meeting a practical need. He can be extravagant. But it's with a very specific purpose. He doesn't fulfill our every wish, but He certainly sees those deep desires of our hearts and every now and then wraps one up and sets them by our door.
I want to celebrate the way Jesus would celebrate.
I don't know a lot of people that have physical needs. I don't know people that can't afford to have a turkey dinner today much less people that can't afford to eat at all. I just don't know that many people with real physical needs.
Jesus would though. Because Jesus would have spent the entire year looking for them, getting to know them, and teaching them about Himself and His Father, while meeting those daily needs. He would become known to them, and they would bring others to Him for His provision. And His small group of needy people, would become a large group of touched people.
So it's not really all about what I do on Thanksgiving day. It's what I do all year long.
God knows where to find them. He knows, if He walked into my town exactly where He would begin His ministry, and what He would do to begin it. I want to do it in His stead so I guess I need to check in with the Boss and see what He wants me to do.
God is good, He is gracious, and this Thanksgiving I'm very thankful for Him.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The day before that wonderful day of Thanksgiving.
I'm thankful for the foster child I had an that is gone.
I'm thankful for Little One, the foster child that's still here.
I'm thankful for the house God pushed me into buying.
I'm thankful for the job He gave me despite my best efforts to unimpress.
I'm thankful for the cheap car He gave me that takes a beating from the kids I've hauled and yet it rarely complains. (why is the hood so much fun to climb on?)
I'm thankful for my church. And the knowledge that it's the place I'm suppose to be at right now.
I'm thankful for my family, and the fact that they all know God.
I'm thankful for my niece and nephew and the time they get to spend with me.
I'm thankful for the new friends I've made this year.
I'm thankful for the plans God has given me for new ministries.
I'm thankful for the lessons, regardless of how difficult, that I've learned this year.
I'm thankful that most people are people of good character, even if they aren't people of God.
I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit.
I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit.
I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit.
Sunday, November 18, 2007
And in the midst of it all, I realized how much of my thoughts are taken up with how I've missed the mark. Maybe I wasn't kind enough, or patient enough, maybe I didn't spend as much time in prayer or bible reading as I felt I should have.... the list of shortcomings is plenty full and always growing.
And, me and my shortcomings, realized what a me-centered faith I have. My faith is only as great as I am - rather than being as great as God is.
There has been no overnight change for this behavior. But, as I began dealing with it, so came that pleasant feeling that He's mercies (plural) toward me aren't dependent on me. They're dependent on Him, being exactly who He says He is.
God knew what a cracked up vessel I was right from the beginning. Yet He chose me anyway. So when I enter into His presence I don't need to be wallowing around telling Him I've missed the mark and just don't 'get it'. I just need to forget what is behind and press towards the mark.
Not to say I stop trying to improve. But if my focus is God - I'll improve, and if my focus is improvement - ehhh, not so much.
It's over at Nates. And the article is called "God loves you. Seriously."
Saturday, November 17, 2007
It came from the post "Our Silent, Slow God part 2" over at "Hungry and Thirsty"
There are so many ways in which the story of Lazarus feels familiar.
- A personal crisis emerges, which - unknown to us - God lovingly intends to use for his glory and our greatest good.
- We, like Mary & Martha, ask God for help; but he delays and our problems grow worse.
- Finally, God arrives and invites us to trust him; but we, like Martha, have real trouble.
- Sometimes we're like Mary - too angry or disappointed with God to even open up at first.
- God keeps calling us to himself, like Jesus does with Mary, until finally we respond honestly and ventilate our frustration and pain to him.
- He enters into our suffering and weeps with us.
- Some take comfort in his empathetic presence. Others blame him for not intervening.
- In his time, he meets our deepest needs in unimaginable ways.
- The result is glory for God and amazing new life for us and others... two sides of the same coin. In hindsight, we hope to never go through that sort of thing again, but wouldn't trade what we've gained for the ease of avoiding it.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The Christian gospel is a message of liberation to those who are enslaved by sin. In our presentation of the gospel we must not stop with forgiveness because as wonderful as that is, Jesus not only promises to forgive our sins, but to set us free from the power of sin. Even though our experience of complete liberation from sin, and from death which is inevitably attached to it, awaits the new heaven and earth, here and now, in this life, there is power to live a life of faith and repentance in the Lord
This profound experience of liberation with the promise of complete liberation to come should make Christians sensitive to forms of human slavery that exist in our world today and we should be willing to do what we can to break the bonds of those who are oppressed by cruel and immoral masters.
Thanks to Milton Stanley at Transforming Sermons for linking me toward it.
He was attacked last Friday morning and his head was severely bashed in at the back.
He's only 22, active, athletic, and living a crazy life.
He's not ready to die.
He needs a miracle.
Please join me in my petition for that very miracle.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
STOP worrying about what you can do, and what you can't do.
START concentrating on what HE can do.
STOP worrying about what will happen, or won't happen.
START concentrating on what HE wants to happen. Then believe for it, because He can bring it about with or without you, and you would rather it be "with".
STOP worrying about how you've failed or how much better you think you should be.
START concentrating on how HE won't fail (which means HE will fulfill the promise to finish the work HE started in YOU).
STOP worrying about how little you got done and how you don't have enough time.
START remembering that HE got everything accomplished that He planned and HE is still right on schedule.
STOP counting your problems.
START counting your blessings. (half your problems come from having so many blessings to take care of... did you ever think of that?)
STOP remembering your past.
START remembering HIS. His past has been a magnificently painted portrait blended perfectly to allow you to be where you are, when you are, to do what you do.
STOP looking for a perfect world.
START looking to a perfect GOD, who will make a perfect YOU.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
At his question, I took a moment and considered how strange it would feel to be somewhere without her. My family wouldn't understand just how strange it felt, they wouldn't imagine how constantly on my mind she would be. They'd be preoccupied with their conversation and food.
Then today, I had an encouraging talk with the CPS caseworker that says things are going really well on the parents end. And for a brief moment I remembered that the next court date was only a couple of months away... what if she left then? The thought started my stomach churning at the very idea. Reality set in that she more than likely wouldn't go home that soon, but it still brought to mind that she isn't here to stay. She's going to leave. And it's going to rock my world a little when she goes. Despite the fact that everyone immediately talks about the child leaving (when they find out you're a foster parent), I hadn't really spent much time considering her leaving. And I think I'm going to try my best to go back to not considering it again. No use mourning one day before it happens.
The biggest thing is, besides the loss of relationship, the routine hugs and bedtime stories, the holding her banana while she climbs into the car seat, the sleepy "Hey Net" as she wakes up each morning, is knowing that she could be walking into a scary future without me. I know I would protect her as best as I possibly could if I were there. But she'll have to walk into that future without me.
I'm leading you somewhere with all this, can you tell yet?
How much does God the Father mourn over us? Sometimes, we like sheep have gone astray, and He loses that routine prayer time with us, talking to us, watching us struggle and try again, watching our faith grow and our occasional unselfish expressions of love that make Him proud of us. And He knows we're walking into something without Him. He knows the temptations we're going to face, the consequences to the sins we'll commit, the life long sorrow it can cause.
I wonder if that's how God sees us. That we haven't allowed ourselves to be adopted, but have only become His 'foster children'. We don't claim the family heritage and stay forever. Instead, we come into His family, while looking back at our old one. Hoping that it will become better while we're with God, and we'll just be able to go back into it like we were before. Except now instead of sinners, we'll be ' a good person'.
I don't want to be Gods foster child. I want to know I'm here for good. A part of His family. I want to forget about my former life surrounded by sin, and evil. And erase my last name with all it's ties to it's heritage of sin, and fully embrace a new name written in Glory. His name.
To add into that - the best part of it? When you go to court to adopt a foster child - the child doesn't have to prove anything. The future parent only has to show that they have fulfilled every requirement necessary to make this child their own. And then show documentation that the childs former life has proved worthless. The judge considers it, and both parties agree to the adoption (both parent and child) and a new name is written down.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Monday, November 12, 2007
Sunday, November 11, 2007
I'd just fed 3 kids, checked my online bank statement, made sure two kids made their beds, then helped the 3rd kid get dressed and straighten her bed.
I pondered my mortgage payment (which by the way, I'm very glad to have) and wondered if my car would last two more years. I replaced the batteries in the remote control and made a mental note that it's eating through batteries too quickly and I should replace the remote.
I picked up things around the house just before leaving for church and while I was doing so I randomly noted that the hammering sounds I'd been hearing (the kids were outside hammering any nails they found sticking out- for fun) the sound had changed, so I went outside and became "one of those people" as I stood outside looking stupefied saying "What on earth were you thinking?" The lecture made us later than usual leaving for church.
Church came and went, and then I found myself in a restaurant with an arcade and two kids asking for quarters. After explaining the change maker machine doesn't take debit cards I ended up telling the kids they'd have to pray for a miracle if they wanted quarters (fyi - by the time we'd left, they'd gotten to play 1 game for free just because the game began playing for them, they found 5 game tokens and got to play games with those, and they also found one bouncy ball somewhere in the arcade - miracles indeed).
I tried to remember if I'd paid my tithes that morning or not as I drove the two kids that aren't mine to their house. Hugs, and and fond farewells, then off we went, Little One and I back to the house. 10 minutes of the ride she cried saying she didn't want to take a nap when we got home. The last 10 minutes of the ride she slept. I carried her in to her bed, tucked her in and went back to work finishing a project around the house and straightening up. I saw a bug. Do I need to buy some bug spray next time I'm at the store?
Pour some apple juice before I wake up little one so she won't stand around crying for it while I'm getting it. Show her the project I'm working on and then feed her. Go to church. Miss the very end of church because little one had to go 'poo poo' as she announced in far too loud a loud whisper for any sentence containing the word 'poo poo'. Church comes and goes. Drive back to the other two kids house to take stuff they'd forgot to pack. Find out that a headlight is out.
Go to wal-mart, buy a new head light and then replace it while making sure that Little One isn't running into traffic.
Drive home, and spend the next hour and a half trying to console Little One enough that she can fall asleep.
When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
You can say it happened several years ago. By law maybe it happened when I was 17 or 18. But for me, it happened today. Today I understood what it means to have the weight of responsibility of so many little things on your shoulders. I understand better why so few people have joy. It's hard to find time for joy.
I'm not unhappy. Quite the contrary, I am very happy. But I see the difference between the adults heart and the childs heart just a little bit better now. I'm no longer the kid doing adult things, but an adult. How'd that happen?
I'd write more, but I need to start a load of laundry, feed the cat, check on Little One, and do a quick search of my fridge to make sure I do have some chicken in there that we can have tomorrow like I promised her. And hopefully tonight I won't fall asleep before I'm done praying.
Friday, November 09, 2007
Little one has been with me over 3 months now. 100 days of being away from mommy, and living with me. Every week, every day has gotten better and better and better. Until this week. This week it's like the world turned upside down and this little one can't see straight for crazy. All she does is cry. Daycare distracts, church distracts, and if I can keep her around other people, they distract. But after they're gone, she cries.
She wants her mommy.
Tuesday night, she sat eating dinner, heartbroken, crying between bites. Wednesday night after eating dinner with some friends, her smile faded and by the time we got to the driveway of home she was crying.
She even wakes up crying.
Through all this, when it's just me and her, suddenly instead of playing, all she wants to do is stand by my side or be held.
I asked people about this, as to what on earth happened to mess with her so much this week.
It turns out it's attachment issues.
It's actually a pretty good thing. It means she's bonding to me and it's confusing her because of her attachments to mommy.
So here's the lesson:
The more she wants to hold onto me, the more she cries for mommy.
It's a crazy emotional thing that doesn't make sense logically, but is exactly what it is. And as she sat in my lap tonight I thought back to so many occasions where I did the exact same thing to God.
The more I want to hold onto God, the more I hold onto the world.
It's crazy. Enlightening, but crazy.
It's one of those "Oh, come on" things... Something I knew, I really did know, but tonight made me gasp at the reality of it. Holding onto God, has to mean letting go of the world. But I know what holding onto worldly things looks like. It is familiar. It's not crazy looking.
Holding onto God, fully letting go of this world, is more than a little scary. Every time I turn around He's nudging me into bigger and more challenging things. What would happen if every last ounce of me went into His arms and His will?
Sitting here, I thought briefly about how most Christians would tell me that He'll never take you anywhere you're not prepared to go, and that once you actually take hold of Him fully, you won't be afraid of that step any more.
And then I imagined a first time skydiver. Excitement and adrenaline flowing through their veins as they watch the videos, listen to the safety instructions, then climb into the plane. They're excited, ready to take the leap. Then comes that moment when, standing at the door of the airplane, you realize you're suppose to step out onto nothing and fall for awhile, trusting in fabric and lines. That's when doubt and fear comes up. And you have to make the decision, you have to decide at that moment if you're actually going to jump.
Fortunately for us, God is more patient than a pilot and will never tell you He's going to land and your chance will be over. He's always waiting and willing to draw you any step closer that you'll come.
There are a lot of Christians out there though, parachute strapped to their back, that will spend their entire lives flying around in circles, looking at the door.
Just my luck, I'd end up entangled in some technical issue of who packed my parachute.