Wednesday, April 23, 2014

This Kid...

I have some pretty great better than other people (yes, I just said better than other people...but I believe it...yep, I do.)  They each have their strengths and each has their unique talents and over the last few months they have all shown what amazing individuals they are but I just have to write about this kid today.  Now, don't get me wrong...I have, at one time or another, written about my other children but tonight he is on my heart.  He is my baby, though by the looks of this photo, baby probably isn't the right word but I can blame it on the fact that his Mom isn't very tall so he looks really tall...right?

This kid has really been through the ringer the last few months, well, actually the last few years (check back here to read his back story) 
but he has really shown me what insight and what heart is, in a way I could have never expected from a child.  He has clarity about things that I, as an adult, can't wrap my brain around.  He has a heart that hurts for others in a way that I can only hope to have one day.  He also feels burdens that other kids (or adults for that matter) don't feel, which isn't always good.  He is struggling right now with a loss in his life that I can't fix for him but he still finds the ability to worry about me.  About me.... how did I get so blessed?  All my children worry about me, but this one...he watches and worries and I wish I could take that away.  He is too young for that kind of weight. 

I was sick recently and this kid gets up and fixes breakfast for he and his older brother before school, without being asked, because I couldn't.  He just did it...including vitamins.  He is just that kind of a kid.  I am grasping at straws in so many ways in trying to figure out how to parent my young men on my own but moments like this...they are like a jolt to my soul.   Someone told me today that I had to be and could be both Mother & Father....and here I am with my little man leading the way.   So, as I look ahead, I hope one day he will know exactly what an amazing young man he is.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
~James 1:17


I have known being lonely.  I have known being "left out" but I guess I have never known this loneliness.  It is a full bodied experience that reaches into your most inner soul and scrapes away every last thing it can possibly take.  It isn't the quiet "I feel sad and alone" feeling but rather it is an active tearing and wearing away.  It makes you feel alone even in a crowd of people.  It isolates you by surprise and sneaks up on you when you least expect it.  It gives you peeks into your future...alone as the people you love leave.  I can do alone, it doesn't bother me...but this loneliness, this being cut away from those you love most is a torture that I know comes straight from hell.

I read this quote this morning, "James says, “One of the greatest tactics from Satan is that he wants you to doubt God, and he’ll try to make you think that loneliness means God is not there for you. If he can make you doubt God’s ability to take care of you, and you start reacting to the situation in your own strength, then Satan has won the battle. God is the only answer through the whole thing. If you seek to glorify God and not glorify yourself, then you’ll win.” (*Steve Grissom, Kathy Leonard)

Understanding my battle is not with flesh and blood, but rather the darkness that has invaded my life doesn't  make it easier as I am battling logic versus heart.   "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places." ~Ephesians 6:12.  The enemy has stolen so much and he wants much  more. It isn't over.... 

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Living in a Season of Saturday

Well, I did it.  I walked into a court is done.  I didn't want to be there, but I had to go.  The judge did ask at one point if I was there of my own free will, I paused and it took every bit of strength I had to say, "yes."  My heart, my mind and my soul were screaming "NO!" But, I said yes.  I stood there, tears in my eyes and I said, "yes."

The lines were drawn and the walls built. The battle was lost.  The locks were placed.

So today, when I read the following devotional I knew.  I knew I was standing, smack in the Saturday of my life. "Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why.*"

I am standing right in the middle of a third day story and the hardest part about  third day stories? "The problem with third-day stories is, you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day.*" And, somehow at this moment....on a rainy Saturday....the third day seems like it won't ever come. There is probably a big part of my heart that just doesn't even want it to come because it puts me that much further away from what I have lost.   Logic says it will come, good intentioned, wise friends and family assure you it will come but the heart can't hear those words.

I couldn't have written about this Saturday season on my own. so I am sharing the writing of someone else and  hope you will find meaning in this devotional by John Ortberg from his book Who is This Man? (from which the above quotes came):
(link to the original devotional location on Faithgateway)
So far as we know, there has only been one day in the last two thousand years when literally not one person in the world believed Jesus was alive. On Saturday morning after Jesus’ crucifixion, the disciples wake after not having slept for two days. The city that was screaming for blood the day before is quiet. Crowds have disbanded. Jesus is dead.

What do they do on Saturday?

It’s strange that the two days on either side of Saturday are so heavily discussed. Some of the brightest minds in the world have devoted themselves primarily to those two days; they have been across the centuries maybe the two most studied days in history. The Bible is full of what happened the day before, the day Jesus was killed. And the next day, Sunday, is the day believers say gave birth to the most death-defying, grave-defeating, fear-destroying, hope-inspiring, transcendent joy in the history of the world. Pentecostals still shout about it. Charismatics still dance because of it. Baptists still say Amen! over it. Presbyterians still study it. Episcopalians still toast it with sherry. Some people think of Sunday in mellower terms, as a metaphor for hope. And others think of it as a dangerous enemy of logic, reason, and mortality.

Let’s just leave Sunday alone for now.

This isn’t Sunday. This isn’t Friday. This is Saturday. The day after this but the day before that. The day after a prayer gets prayed but there is no answer on the way. The day after a soul gets crushed way down but there’s no promise of ever getting up off the mat.

It’s a strange day, this in-between day. In between despair and joy. In between confusion and clarity. In between bad news and good news. In between darkness and light. Even in the Bible – outside of one detail about guards being posted to watch the tomb – we’re told nothing about Saturday. Saturday is the day with no name, the day when nothing happened.

Now only a handful of followers remain. Friday was a nightmare day; Friday was the kind of day that is pure terror, the kind when you run on adrenaline. On Saturday when Jesus’ followers wake up, the terror is past, at least for the moment; the adrenaline is gone.Those who believe in Jesus gather, quietly maybe. They remember. It’s what people do. Things He said. What He taught. Things He did. People He touched or healed. They remember what it felt like when this Jesus wanted them. They remember their hopes and dreams. They were going to change the world.

Now it’s Saturday.

Maybe they talk about what went wrong. What in God’s name happened? None of them wants to say this, but in their hearts, they’re trying to come to grips with this unfathomable thought: Jesus failed. Jesus ended up a failure. Noble attempt, but He couldn’t get enough followers. He couldn’t convince the chief priests. He couldn’t win over Rome to make peace. He couldn’t get enough ordinary people to understand His message. He couldn’t even train His disciples to be courageous at the moment of great crisis.

Everybody knows Saturday.
"Saturday is the day your dream died. You wake up and you’re still alive. You have to go on, but you don’t know how. Worse, you don’t know why."
 This odd day raises a question: Why is there a Saturday? It doesn’t seem to further the story line at all. We might expect that if Jesus was going to be crucified then resurrected, God would just get on with it. It seems strange for God to spread two events over three days.In its own way, perhaps Saturday should mark the world as much as Friday and Sunday.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday lie at the heart of the ancient calendar. They attributed great significance to the notion that this event was a three-day story. The apostle Paul wrote, “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day [Paul adds again] according to the Scriptures.” The Old Testament Scriptures are filled with what might be called “third-day stories.” When Abraham is afraid he’s going to have to sacrifice Isaac, he sees the sacrifice that will save his son’s life on the third day. Joseph’s brothers get put in prison, and they’re released on the third day. Israelite spies are told by Rahab to hide from their enemies, and then they’ll be safe on the third day. When Esther hears that her people are going to be slaughtered, she goes away to fast and pray. On the third day, the king receives her favorably. It’s such a recurring pattern that the prophet Hosea says, “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces… After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will restore us, that we may live in His presence.” All three-day stories share a structure. On the first day there is trouble, and on the third day there is deliverance. On the second day, there is nothing – just the continuation of trouble.

"The problem with third-day stories is, you don’t know it’s a third-day story until the third day."

When it’s Friday, when it’s Saturday, as far as you know, deliverance is never going to come. It may just be a one-day story, and that one day of trouble may last the rest of your life.* * *

I said before that Saturday is the day when nothing happens. That’s not quite right. Silence happens on Saturday. After trouble hits you, after the agony of Friday, you call out to God. “Hear me! Listen to me! Respond to me! Do something! Say something! Rescue!”

"On Saturday, in addition to the pain of Friday, there is the pain of silence and absence of God."

When C. S. Lewis wrote his memoirs about coming to faith in Jesus, he called it Surprised by Joy. The book is about how his love of joy led him to faith in Jesus, and he actually took as the title a phrase in a poem by William Wordsworth. When Lewis wrote the book, he was a fifty-seven-year-old bachelor. He had met a woman named Joy whom, after the book was published, he ended up marrying. His friends enjoyed teasing him that he really had been surprised by Joy. After a lifetime of waiting, Lewis knew love only briefly. Joy died soon after they were married of cancer, a lingering, very painful death. So Lewis wrote another book: A Grief Observed. A Saturday book.

When you are happy, so happy you have no sense of needing God, so happy you are tempted to feel His claims upon you as an interruption, if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become… What can this mean?

"Why is He so present a Commander in our time of prosperity and 
so very absent a help in time of trouble?" 

A husband, a father, wants more than anything in the world to save his marriage. His wife will not listen and will not help. He is not perfect (not by a long shot), but he wants to do a really good thing. He can’t find out why his wife won’t respond to him, and he can’t stand what it’s doing to his children. Heaven is silent.
A mom and a dad find out the child they love has a terminal illness. They pray like crazy but hear only silence. She’s getting worse. You lose a job. You lose a friend. You lose your health. You have a dream for your child. And on Friday, it dies. What do you do on Saturday?

You can choose despair. Paul writes about this: “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” In other words, apparently some people said, “There is never going to be a Sunday. It’s Friday. Get used to it. Do disappointment management, because that’s as good as it’s going to get.” Some people – silently, secretly – live here. You can choose denial – simplistic explanations, impatience, easy answers, artificial pleasantness. Hydroplane over authentic humanity, forced optimism, clich├ęd formulas, false triumphalism.

Paul wrote to Timothy that some “say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” In other words, apparently some said, “It’s already Sunday. The resurrection has already happened for all of us, so if you’re having any problems, if you’re still sick, if your prayers aren’t being answered, you just don’t have enough faith. Get with the program.” Or there is this third option:
"You can wait. Work with God even when He feels far away. Rest. Ask. Whine. Complain. Trust."
Oddly, the most common psalm is the psalm of complaint. The Saturday psalm. God, why aren’t you listening?
• • •
An ancient homily spoke of this strange day: What happened today on earth? There is a great silence – a great silence and stillness. A great silence because the king sleeps. God has died in the flesh, and hell trembles with fear. He has gone to search for our first parent as for a lost sheep.
The Apostles’ Creed says Jesus descended into hell.
"Somehow no suffering you go through is suffering Jesus will not endure in order to save you."
From a human standpoint, we think of the miraculous day as Sunday, the day the man Jesus is risen from the dead. I wonder if, from Heaven’s standpoint, the great miracle isn’t on Saturday. When Jesus is born, the skies are filled with the heavenly hosts praising God because that baby is Emmanuel, God with us. Somehow God in a manger, somehow God in a stable, somehow God on earth. Now on Saturday the angels look down and see what? God in a tomb.

"The miracle of Sunday is that a dead man lives. 
The miracle of Saturday is that the eternal Son of God lies dead."

So Jesus Christ defeats our great enemy death not by proclaiming His invincibility over it but by submitting Himself to it. If you can find this Jesus in a grave, if you can find Him in death, if you can find Him in hell, where can you not find Him? Where will He not turn up?
 * * *

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Psalm Sunday 2014

Image property of FaithGateway
Psalm Sunday is one of those days that I have missed the true significance of  most years, if not always.  I have lots of memories of watching my sweet children parade through our church waving construction paper psalm leaves in symbolism of the day, but I wonder...did I ever stop and think about what that day meant? Did I ever raise up to shout praises to my Savior, even in my heart?

No, I am sure I didn't.  I am sure I sat there with my beautiful family, in my comfy church, looking ahead and listening to beautiful music and a sermon. I may have even made notes in my Bible "to look back at later and meditate on" but probably  I just sat there;  maybe my mind wandered to what we were all going to wear next week on Easter Sunday or even where we were going to eat after church.   My heart didn't hurt for the trials my Savior faced after his "parade."  My heart did not hurt for those pains He faced and accepted for me.  My heart was not humbled by any of it.  I didn't compare the humble entry of Christ on a donkey to the arrival my King should have received.  I didn't humble my heart and life and welcome Him to parade into it with full regalia.  I am hoping today that I can pause, and remember, only through Him do I have eternity and those sweet children who made those construction paper psalm leaves to wave. Today I want to praise Him and shout His arrival.  Only through Him do I have salvation and so much more than I deserve.

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Hosanna in the highest heaven!"
~Matthew 21:9 (NIV)
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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Did anyone mention it is Spring Break???

This Spring Break won't be like the ones in the past. Yes, I will sit on the beach and feel my toes in the sand but  I will also be walking into a court room and ending something I never wanted to end. But I am blessed to know that I have people who will be loving, caring and watching over my children when I drive hours to stand in front of a judge and have my 25 year+ marriage become nothing more than a few pieces of paper.  This experienced has shown me how truly wonderful some people can be and how they reach out just because they know you can't handle it all by yourself in so many ways.  Beautiful blessings is what I have begun think of them.  I am learning not to steal their blessings by not letting them love on me and help me get through the day. Spring Break...I have dreaded this week instead of looking forward to it...but it is here.

 Even with the dark season that my heart has seen, 
Spring has arrived and there is beauty bursting everywhere I look:
Aren't these tiny blooms perfect in front of a huge white azalea?
Iris' always reminded me of my Ma Jones.
Beautiful Lady Banks roses welcoming spring.
How can you not love Clematis, even if it is the neighbors?
I love the canopy of pink and white dogwoods in my backyard.
Azaleas to welcome you in.
I just can't leave out the wisteria, which is particularly gorgeous this year.
Florence, are just gorgeous.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Not much of an original thought...

A few days ago I was sitting and reading back through some blog posts to see how much my world has changed and if I was imagining what life looked like back then. I came across a post I wrote in January of 2012 and I just kind of shook my head. 

Anyway, below is part of that post  and it seems I am still saying "what else?" and praying for something to seem like a purpose and to make sense...

"Somehow though, we seem to be in the cross hairs of something because a couple of  issues have arisen that have me shaking my head and wondering, "what else?" Yes...mostly I seem to be asking God, "What else?"  I feel like a little kid most of the time when I come to God in prayer these days.  I probably sound like a spoiled child to Him for the most part, I am sure.  "What else, God?"  But, I will still go before Him, knowing He is there and loving me.  I am thankful that even in my most drained, tired, angry, fearful moments He is there."

"The enemy wouldn't be attacking you if something valuable wasn't inside of you!
Thieves don't break into empty houses!
You've got purpose!"
~author unknown

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Don't let it come too late...

Something is really weighing on me today (whoohoo, surprise!!!) I don’t understand something about our culture, individually, and as whole.  What has happened to us?  When did we morph into a world where a person’s word means nothing and we seek our own pleasure and to intentionally hurt others openly with total disregard? When did we become a generation of men and women who can’t control ourselves to the point it doesn’t matter what happens past our own desires. When did we become a people that will choose to sacrifice others on the altar of “my own needs/wants?”  I KNOW there have always been people like that…but what I don’t understand is why don’t individuals realize that their personal choices are impacting our world…not just their little corner?  When did “ME” become so important?

I believe we have an enemy.  I believe there is a God, and in turn believe there is a Satan and on a very individual level we are responsible for letting him lose or gain ground.  Not even looking at the bigger picture of the world, if you only listen to the news in your own town, you will hear of those whose individual choices left devastation.  The most recent Fort Hood shooter destroyed so many lives…including his own family.  Yes, his choice will forever affect hisfamily too, and the friends and families of his many other victims.  His grandchildren will still know the reminders of those choices.  His wife and children, along with each and every family he stole someone from, will forever hurt from this one incident.  Why? 

Maybe our individual bad choices aren’t literally killing others but they do set the death trap for Satan to make the kill.  My bad choices don’t have to be something as dramatic as being a shooter on a military base, but they do come down to each choice, every day. I am going through a divorce, that is not right in any sense of the word and not of my choosing, and it does color my view as I am seeing these things up close and personal; but I am overwhelmed with how callused we, as individuals, have become to the pain we cause others and how we refuse to accept the responsibility for our choices or refuse to make different ones if they might cause us to be personally uncomfortable, have a little pain or just not provide us with the exact pay out we desire.  Maybe I shouldn’t write these words because I am as guilty as anyone else.   Satan was allowed to destroy my marriage, so he destroyed a family, and in turn, in a way he destroys a church, then he destroys a community, and he destroys future generations.  It has been handed him on a silver platter.  The keys to the gate of protection have been handed over and the invitation issued, “Come on in and take what you like.” 

If I don’t take captive every thought and every choice, I am personally responsible for surrendering my family and a little bit more of this world to an enemy who has come to devour it.   I am not perfect, and have caused pain but the very clear truth is the only way to make anything better in this world is to keep trying and keep focusing on the true Word of God and a Savior named Jesus, that died just so that we might have life.  Look at what is right and what is true in the face of Christ and keep striving…perfection is not is required…just progress...and through His forgiveness He offers us that every day.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
 ~Philippians 3:12-14 (NIV)
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