Friday, December 27, 2013
As I woke up this morning, I had a picture in my head of grief being like a gift. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. It’s a gift that no one really wants, but we all receive at some point in life. Some of us receive it earlier in life. Some receive it more often. But if you ever love anyone, chances are, you will receive the gift of grief somewhere along the way.
My grief if wrapped up in a beautiful box. Early in my grief journey, I carried it with me everywhere I went. It was heavy and it consumed every moment of every day. It invaded every decision, every action, every move I made. I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t go into Wal-Mart without carrying this giant gift with me.
As time went by, I was able to leave my gift at home more often. It was still there. It was still mine, but I didn’t have to carry it with me everywhere I went. Now, almost seven years after my daughter’s death, it’s like I keep my gift on a shelf. Every now and then, especially on holidays, birthdays, and what would have been milestones in her life, I take my gift down off the shelf. I open it up and take out my grief. I hold it in my hands, turning it over and over. I feel the weight of it, the hardness of it. I know this sounds crazy, but I also admire its beauty. I cry a little—sometimes a lot. I blog about it some, but not as often as I used to. But then, I put my grief back in that box. I tie the beautiful bow around it, and I gently place it back on the shelf.
Then I go on with life. Seven years ago, I never would have believed that I could go on with life without my daughter. But here I am, functioning, parenting again, serving, living. And my gift of grief remains… until the next time I take it down off the shelf. My grief has changed my life, but it no longer consumes my life. Because of this gift, I have found a Hope that I otherwise would never have known… a true Unswerving Hope.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
"Lord, help Joseph to understand!" "God explain this to my parents and help them not to be mad at me!" "Lord, please don't let them stone me!" "Father, I am going to be raising the Savior of the World, please help me!"
But Mary's focus was not on herself. She asked for nothing. She wasn't worrying about what everyone else would think of her. She was willing to be scorned and misunderstood because she knew the truth. She didn't know the future... I'm sure there was much she didn't understand. She only knew that she served a magnificent God and she was willing to do whatever it took for Him to accomplish His plan.
Amazing. Oh, what we can learn from Mary.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Yellow Flowers, a set on Flickr.
And my last set of pics that I'm making available for purchase to help fund my mission trip. If you purchase a set (matching up an 8 x 10 with a couple of 4 x 6's or 5 x 7's) there is a discount! Leave me a comment if you're interested!
Frosty Fall Morning, a set on Flickr.
I love taking pictures... going for non-traditional angles, etc. I am not a professional, by far, but I am currently selling prints of some of my favorites. Raising money for my trip to the LA Dream Center next spring. Please leave me a comment if you would like to help out by purchasing a print or a set of prints!
Monday, November 18, 2013
1) Recognize, admit, confess and seek forgiveness for the evil that is in me—daily.2) Lovingly confront the evil we see in others.
Monday, November 4, 2013
I have avoided conflict my whole life. Sorry, Duck Dynasty, I coined the phrase, "Happy, happy, happy" long before anyone knew you! I just want everyone to be happy and get along. I can't stand tension. Left to myself, I will flee any conflict long before I'll seek to resolve it. The tension makes me crazy, tongue-tied and illogical. I get sucked into rabbit trails and argue insignificant details as i lose sight of the real issue at hand.
I also avoid failure. I often give up on projects for fear of failure. I want to quit my job at almost every new sermon series for fear of failure. I have started many more things than I have completed, i.e. college degree programs. I can count at least seven that I started and zero that I have completed.
How can I sue all that, plus my feelings of failing at the most important job in the world (parenting) to discern the real enemy from which God wants to free me? Fear, Selfishness, Pride, Envy, Jealousy, Laziness, Food Addiction, Religiosity, In-authenticity: These things in me must die! God will stop at nothing in His quest to make me holy. He stopped at nothing on His part in leaving Heaven and allow humanity to brutalize Him. And He will stop at nothing on my part. Even to the point of seeming distant and uncaring. God loves me too much to coddle me. He is preparing me for eternity with Him.
Lord, forgive me for seeking the lesser blessings rather than seeking holiness. Forgive me for being angry with You for not being my "Giant Santa in the Sky" by giving me everything I think I need. I submit myself to Your loving discipline as You use conflict and failure in my life to free me from the things in my life that would separate me from You. Thank You that You desire to allow me into Your presence more than You desire to bestow temporary relief from conflict and failure.
Thursday, October 31, 2013
“Spiritual leaders who teach that I am here to solve your problems and make your lives comfortable and prosperous underestimate the energy (and badly misunderstand the nature) of unholiness in the human heart that I must severely deal with to get you to my party.
“And that underestimation leads them to underestimate the severity of My love. My servant C.S. Lewis got it right: I’m not safe, but I am good.“I will not coddle you any more than a good surgeon only hugs a cancer-stricken child. I will not coddle you, but I will purify you. And that takes more, not less, than a hug.” –Larry Crabb in God’s Love Letters to You: A 40-Day Devotional
Sunday, October 27, 2013
“It takes a long time to understand that I am not here for you, but that you are here for Me. It takes even longer to enjoy that arrangement. Come to Me in My letters with all your frustrations, hopes and questions, but DO NOT COME EXPECTING that I will advise you on how best to accomplish YOUR agendas. I have a far better plan.” –Larry Crabb in “66 LoveLetters”
“The stories I tell convey my message to desperate people, to people miserable enough to realize that their approach to life is horribly and subtly flawed, who want to overcome their biggest flaw more than they want their lives to go well.” –Larry Crabb in “66 Love Letters”
Monday, October 21, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
“Go with Sorrow and Suffering, and if you cannot welcome them now, when you come to the difficult places where you cannot manage alone, put your hands in theirs confidently and they will take you exactly where I want you to go.”
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I want so much to faithfully serve the Lord, to honor Him, glorify Him, and be a part of His family. But I often feel like I'm on the outside looking in. It sometimes feels like His Word doesn't apply to me. I feel like I have failed at the most important job in the world.
God, I have prayed your Word and stood on scriptures like one I read today for almost 30 years. Yet I see no evidence of those prayers being answered. So much has already been lost, thrown away, traded for an all-consuming addiction. Can it ever be redeemed?
I feel like the older I get, the more bogged down with guilt and regret I get. Instead of getting better, I continue to fail. Can I ever again have hope? I don't want to become a bitter old lady. My theme has been "Hope" for the past nine years. I have lived on hope. But it almost feels like it's running out. If it has run out for this one I love so much, how can I continue in it? How can I continue to trust? If it wasn't enough for my loved one, how can it be enough for me?
If my prayers for this situation remain unanswered, how can I expect future prayers to be answered? Did I not pray good enough? hard enough? often enough? long enough? Did I not believe enough? trust enough? hope enough? How can I go on with my faith in tact?
I love you, Lord, and I don't know how to live life any other way. So I will go on in faith. I will continue to trust steadily, hope unswervingly, and love extravagantly. And You will come through. I don't know how. I don't know when. I don't know where. But I am believing for a miracle--whatever it may look like.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. --Romans 12:1
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. --Romans 15:13Paul knew that the only way to live a holy life is by the power of the Holy Spirit and our complete submission to Him. And what hope, joy and peace it brings when we finally do so! My flesh cries out in pain when I don't let it have what it wants. I literally feel tears rising up in my eyes when I do something contrary to what my flesh wants. This is putting to death the misdeeds of the body. Death is painful even when it's something that needs to die in order for me to truly live.
This may be a lame example, especially in light of how Christians around the world struggle, but it is where my struggle lies. Last night I felt the Spirit urging me to work out. I refused. that was sin--outright and willful. I let my flesh win last night. What will I do tonight?
Lord, I will stand on your word and look to the hope, joy and peace that submission to You brings and allow that to give me the strength to do what is right.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Sunday, June 23, 2013
The only way we who have lost children can sing, rejoice and be glad is to see the bigger picture. We need to try and see things God's way. We need to put Him on His rightful throne instead of our children (or our desire for children)--ouch!
If we can see ourselves from God's perspective, we see some amazingly fertile ground for a miracle! If Sarah had not been barren, there would have been no room for a miracle. She could never have given birth to Isaac, the child of promise.
So, I press on in my struggle against jealousy and envy this graduation/wedding season, I will endeavor to see my life from God's perspective--as fertile ground for a miracle. I will open my eyes to the miracle right in front of me--my own child of promise.
Friday, June 7, 2013
And I have been jealous. It has been difficult for me to see what seems like everyone else's kids succeed but mine. Until this year, I felt completely justified in my jealousy. Why shouldn't I be jealous? I poured just as much time and energy into my kids as these weepy proud mamas. I did all the running to sports events, band concerts and music lessons. I was the team mom. I made banners. I went to all the parent-teacher conferences, open houses and spaghetti dinner fundraisers. I worked in concession stands, sat out in the desert heat, rain and cold as I cheered my kids on. We had dinner at the table every night, read bedtime stories when they were little and devotionals as they got bigger. I helped with homework. I laid awake at night praying scriptures over them. I took them to church, sent them to camp. I went along on youth trips and sent them on mission trips. I baked endless amounts of cookies for bake sale fund raisers. I stayed awake all night during slumber parties and sleep overs.
But I've never gotten to stand at a graduation party, beaming with pride at all my kids' accomplishments, anticipating their next step.
I felt justified in my jealousy.
But I was not.
It was still sin. And just because my life did not turn out like I planned... actually my kids lives did not turn out like I planned... that did not create a loophole allowing me to sin. Jealousy is sin... even for me.
So this year was different. A few weeks ago, as I was anticipating this trying graduation season, I realized that, instead of wallowing in my jealousy, I needed to confess it for what it is--dark, ugly, destructive--never justified.
And this year, I felt a little lighter... free from my sin of jealousy. Oh, it still tries to creep in, but the minute I sense its ugly green presence, I deal with it. Because it is so good to be free from it... free to hug graduates and their parents without the knife of jealousy turning in my gut... free to look at pictures, awards and certificates without the ball and chain of jealousy dragging me down.
Sin is a heavy, destructive burden, no matter how much we think we have a right to it... no matter how much we try to justify it. It is sin. And it's good to be free.
Now it's on to wedding season...
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
So if you’re going through a challenging time and you feel like you can’t go on… like you can’t survive and you wonder why, it’s because God is forming you… shaping you. He’s showing you that you can do more than you ever dreamed you could do. You could even drive a beast if you have to!As I pulled up to the parking lot today, and saw The Beast in the spot your little car usually occupies, I was struck with this thought… You would never choose to drive a beast… in fact you doubted that you could… but here you are… two days in a row and alive to tell about it. But you never would have chosen it if you had any other options. That's how God forms us and shapes us. He requires us to do things we never thought we could do… He requires us to go through things we never thought we could survive… things we shouldn't have to survive. But here we are. We keep getting up. We keep moving on. We keep putting one foot in front of the other. We keep smiling. We keep ministering. Amazing.
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
I will be printing it out and keeping it in my Bible. Reading and rereading it daily, if not hourly for a while. Please check it out, then the next time you see me beating myself up with past regrets, remind me to read it again.
When Strong Mamas Feel Quite Weak
Sunday, May 5, 2013
I just came to the shocking discovery that I have an idol in my heart. There is a situation in a family member’s life that I have wept over, prayed over, fasted over and lost sleep over. I’m not saying it’s wrong to weep, pray, fast or even lose sleep over a situation that needs God’s attention, but I caught myself in the middle of a thought that jarred my spirit: “My life would be perfect, if only [this situation was different]” I’ll spare you the unnecessary details.
In Christianity, the moment we believe, God says, ‘This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.’ Or take Romans 8:1, which says, ‘Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.’ In Christianity, the moment we believe, God imputes Christ’s perfect performance to us as if it were our own, and adopts us into His family. In other words, God can say to us just as He once said to Christ, “You are my son whom I love, with you I am well pleased."
Each day Jesus says to us, ‘You are my beloved child. I am well pleased in you. Now live that way.’ Satan, on the other hand says, ‘Look at you. Look at the condition of your circumstances. Look how poorly you’re living. There is no way you are God’s beloved child.’ Which voice are you going to believe?
Monday, April 15, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
In Nehemiah 6, Sanballat sent an unsealed letter to Nehemiah that contained lies meant to intimidate Nehemiah, to distract him from his calling, to discourage him in the task God had sent him to do. They were lies about Nehemiah--much like the lies about ourselves the enemy whispers in our ears. Lies like, “I can never be good enough for God,” “There is something different about me, something wrong with me… I just don’t fit in, so I might as well stop trying.” Or how about this one, “I really don’t have anything of value to offer the body of Christ or anyone else. What makes me think I can serve God?” Or, “I’ve just failed too many times, I am in no position to minister to anyone else.”
There is a huge difference in the outcomes of the stories of Eve and Nehemiah… Eve believed the lies, bringing sin into the world resulting in eternal consequences for all mankind. Nehemiah saw through the lies. He was secure in his calling and pressed on despite them.