Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reflections on a death ...

This past Saturday an 11 year old boy from our small town was killed. My husband and I know his father, but we really didn't know the boy or the rest of the family. His mother works at the Christian school my son attended for 4 years, so we know each other well enough to say hi ... that's about it.

There's something about the death of a child that knocks the wind out of you. It's like a gut punch, you can't breathe. I went to the funeral, and have never seen so many people in one place in our little burg. This family owns lots of land in the area, and are well known and well loved. It was hard to keep the tears back as I listened to people talk of his young life and the things he loved to do. But I know that he is with Jesus, and there's comfort in that fact. My heart breaks for his family, but nothing changes the fact that he has gone on to the next great adventure ... and that changes everything.

I got stuck on something though. I started thinking about how he died. I was told he had gone to a friend's house, someone around his same age, and they took the 4 wheeler out to the pasture. The friend was driving, hit a bump, and the boy was thrown from the ATV, hit his head on a rock, and bled to death. And this is where I'm stuck. I can't get that friend out of my mind or my heart. I keep thinking about that scene, and what that was like for him. I keep wondering how the enemy of all our souls will fight to keep that scene playing in his head and in his heart his whole life. The boy who died is with Jesus, but the boy who lived is potentially in a nightmare.

This week it's all I've been able to pray about. I have no idea who this family is, or where they live, but my heart can't stop praying for them. They need us, any of us who are Christ followers, to lift them to Him, to form a hedge of protection around them from the brutality of the enemy's attacks.

I learned this week that the mother of the boy who died would not let the other family come to the funeral. The first question my son asked when I told him of the death was if I thought the dead boy's family would be mad at the other family. It might be almost less than human to not be mad ... but who is the object of our anger? For myself, so many times my anger in a situation is directed towards people ... in my head I imagine that they have purposely set out to hurt or harm me or my family. What might be truer is that there is a force set against us in this life. That force conspires against us so that our anger is displaced at other people, because if we're so busy being mad at everyone around us then we can't get to the love that we are commanded to give. And that's the enemy's game ... keep us riled up so we forget what's important. Love. period.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The New Beginning

I feel like I've come full circle in a way. I started writing this blog without understanding that I was in the wilderness. At every turn, I thought I was finally out of the wilderness. In October of this year (2009), I spiraled down even deeper, and very quickly. And since I'm trying to actually look at the yuck in my life, I finally looked at one of the worst moments in my life. One year before I got pregnant with my now 12 year old son, I was pregnant. I was not married. The father was the man who is now my husband, and he was in his first trimester of school. He panicked. Because I lived for him, instead of following God, I panicked. I had an abortion. He dropped me at the clinic that day. I went into the surgical room. I was prepped. I heard the suction come on. I burst into gut wrenching sobs. The doctor stopped and said it was not too late to stop. But I told him to continue.

Afterwards, we never spoke of the abortion. We split. He was in a relationship with another woman. When he called me four months later, I opened my heart to him again. We bought a house, and I was pregnant again that same summer.

There was no question that we were having this baby. But we never dealt with the grief of the abortion together in any way. And honestly, I never dealt with the grief on my own. However, as I look back through my journal entries, every October I've had a rough period. But it was only this October that I was able to see the connection. It was only this October that I consciously grieved over this moment in my life. And I knew that my Father was with me, I knew that He was holding me that day as I let life be taken from me. I saw Him and I knew in His great love, He brought life back to me the following year.

I am not proud of the story of my child's birth. His father and I didn't marry until 2002, when my son was 5 years old. We went to a Justice of the Peace, with none of our friends or family as witnesses. I believe the reason I struggle with feeling that my husband doesn't really love me is because of the way we began our lives together. It's very difficult, and I am still not sure where the road is leading.

But today, as I read through this blog again, I realized that history had repeated itself in my story. My story is not so different from my mother's. And God is showing me that I must be ready to open my heart enough for my son so that he will have an opportunity to choose a different path.

In May of 2008, this is what I wrote:

"This morning in my quiet time, I asked the Lord to show me a scripture He wanted me to have today; I asked Him this after I asked Him what it is He wants for my life, and this is where my Bible fell open:

Isaiah 40:2
'Speak tenderly to her (he's talking about Jerusalem, but this morning He was speaking to me), and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.'

This is why it spoke to me so perfectly ... I believe that the lie that certain of my sins were unforgivable was passed down to me from my mom, and that was passed down from her mom .... what I heard Him say to me is, 'It's over ... no more shame, no more doubt, just see the double portion of love from Me'."

So I'm ending right now with this, with the knowledge that my life has come full circle. In May of 2008 I did not see it that way, but now in November of 2009 my eyes are fully open to what He is showing me. And now, my life begins, the one that He has planned for me, not just for me, but it includes my husband and my son. It's a story that starts with redemption and rescue, and will continue on a path that will be full of traps and snares. But now I know, deep down gut level know, that if I (we) stay glued to his side we will be safe, even when it looks and feels unsafe. I think I might be ready to truly trust His great heart, and obey His words, as best I can, this side of Heaven.

Monday, October 5, 2009

salt and light

Sometimes I get confused by things in the Bible. Take, for example, Matthew 5:13 where Jesus talks about being the salt of the earth ... if the salt loses its saltiness how can it be made salty again? What does that mean? Jesus was talking to His disciples, although there was a crowd present as well. He said His disciples are the salt of the earth. But if they lose their saltiness they can't gain it back, no longer good for anything ... say what??? Maybe what that means, in light of the rest of the chapter, is if they don't keep His commandments, their words and their actions won't match, therefore they will no longer have any effect on the world around them. Okay, I have to think about that for awhile.

The next 3 verses talk about being the light of the world. Verse 16 says to let your light shine so that men see your good deeds and praise God. So even though we aren't saved by works, our works, our choices, our words reveal our hearts ... so our works are not what save us, but our works reveal God in our lives. And even though we have been saved by grace, that saved-ness will not be evident to those around us unless we follow His commandments. It gets a little tricksy, huh?

Sometimes when I think about these things it seems a little wonky to me, like everything is a riddle. Maybe I think too much. Maybe, just maybe, I haven't fallen in love with Him enough to have my actions take the natural course of love, which is doing what pleases Him, following His commands just so I can be close to Him. I can still remember when I first met my husband. He was so larger than life to me, I wanted to do everything to please him, there was never a moment I wouldn't rather be with him than doing anything else. Have I felt that with Jesus? I have to say honestly that I haven't. So, right now, I'm reading. I'm spending time with Him. Because I want to fall in love with Him. I want to be desperate for Him. I want to desire to please Him. So I'm still reading. I'm still praying. Every day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today it was the Beatitudes, or as others call it the "Be Attitudes". Again, I saw something I'd missed before. Today, the be-attitude that stuck out in my face was "blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted". This past week, the son of one of my high school friends died in a car crash. He was 28 years old. Also, this past week, a woman I went to college with was found dead in her apartment. I didn't know my high school friend's son, but I've seen pictures of him ... he was full of light and life. My college friend was one of those people that was just funny ... she was always (in college) thinking of ways to play practical jokes on others. To this day, I can't sing His Eye is On the Sparrow, without singing: "I sing because I have to" ... in our college choir I was in the alto section, as was my friend, and she always sang that in my ear.

Upon first learning of these deaths, I realized I didn't know my friend's son, and I hadn't spoken to my college friend in 30 years. And yet the news of these deaths hit me hard. For my high school friend, there was the empathy of knowing as a mother that the loss of a child would be the hardest to bear. When I read that beatitude this morning, that's what I wanted to share with her ... that those who mourn will be blessed with Comfort from One Who has known the loss of a child. This past year, with the help of social networking sites, I've gotten in touch with many old high school and college friends. The woman who died last week was one of the people I'd asked questions about to several of my college friends, but the ones I asked had not kept in touch with her either. I found out last week that she had suffered some pretty severe depression the last few years ..... hmmmm ... sounds familiar to me. Could we have comforted one another if we had still been in touch? Maybe. Maybe not.

So I've been in mourning this past week. And I've experienced the Comfort of my Father. Today is a new day. I'm thinking after reading this passage, that I need to be on the lookout for the following things: recognition of the poverty of my spirit on my own; opportunities to be gentle, rather than proud; when I feel hunger, let my hunger be for more of Him; ways to show mercy EVERY DAY; sighting of God in those around me; chances to be a peacemaker; to be able to stand firm in my faith, even if I am ridiculed for it.

I think I know why Jesus gave this list of "Be Attitudes". It's because He knew that our joy, our peace, and our love can only be deepened by these attitudes. I desire deeper joy, more abundant peace, and love beyond measure for those around me. My prayer for myself and my family is that we will choose more often to be poor in spirit, merciful, hungry (for more of Him), gentle, peaceful, faithful (to Him).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just keep reading, just keep reading ....

I've heard this story all my life. Jesus saw Peter and Andrew, and told them to follow Him and they dropped everything and went ... same for James & John. A man walks up to these fishermen, and tells them to follow Him and they leave everything and follow Him. I'm wondering what was it about this Man that compelled them to do that? So now I have access to these stories, and Jesus tells me over and over through these stories to follow Him, and I say, as soon as I get our finances into shape (notice the I), as soon as my marriage is better, as soon as I figure out how to be a better mom, the list goes on. so I'm thinking, what am I missing? Is it just the experience of actually physically looking into the eyes of Jesus and seeing something that pierces my heart in such a way I can't see past Him? How do I get to that without the ability to have that physical experience?

I've noticed something lately. I'm reading my bible, and I'm seeing things I've never seen before. Maybe it's because I've heard these stories my whole life, that finally, now, in my 50's, I'm starting to get the meaning. Or maybe I never had eyes for the stories. I really don't know the answer, just know things are different as I read. I'm actually hearing God tell me to read His word, and instead of ignoring that, I'm doing it consistently. We'll see where it leads ... so far, through the first 4 chapters of Matthew, I've learned:

  • Jesus' genealogy includes Solomon, whose mother, Bathsheba, is the woman who was married to Uriah, and David took as his own, then had Uriah sent to the frontlines of war to die - so Jesus definitely understands all the mixed emotions I've been through since finding out my birth story
  • God's entrance into the world as a human baby caused the physical realm to react: the star pointed the way, Heaven couldn't be quiet, angels sang, shepherds came. If the earth and the heavenly realms reacted like that, then as His creation how can I not worship, praise, and obey Him?
  • When God told Joseph to get up and take Mary and the baby to Egypt, he got up and took Mary and the baby to Egypt. No questions. Just obedience.
  • John the Baptist told Jesus that he wasn't worthy to baptize Him. Jesus had such a clear picture of His purpose, that when He told John that scripture had to be fulfilled by this act, John immediately consented. He didn't argue.
  • Jesus in the wilderness ... me in the wilderness: Jesus had singleminded purpose, to trust God through this time. I, on the other hand, have always sought escape from the wilderness by my own power, not by obeying and following God through the wilderness; I have arranged for my own healing at the hands of whatever small gods of comfort, rather than waiting on His angels to attend to my needs.
Don't know what tomorrow holds ... other than that I'm going to keep reading.

Monday, September 21, 2009


So, I'm reading again in Matthew. Chapter 4, where Jesus is led by the Spirit (meaning His Father's Holy Spirit) into the desert to the enemy. The Bible says Jesus fasted 40 days and nights ... He's in the desert, His flesh is hungry for food, and satan is there to taunt. I get hungry and I go immediately to satisfy that hunger. Instead, Jesus obeyed. He quoted the words of God, and obeyed them. Period. Straight up. He ignored the needs of His flesh, and He obeyed. And He waited ... and the Bible says satan left .... Then God showed up and His angels attended to the needs of Jesus.

All I can say is wow. I'm not sure I've ever done that. I've been in the desert. Mostly because of my choices, sometimes as the result of the actions of others ... or has it been? Nowadays I'm not so sure of that ... maybe my time in the desert has happened because all along my Father has been leading me ... and He led me to the wilderness. But then my sin kicks in when I stay there and go into despair? Or is it sin when I jump out of the wilderness into some other comfort zone ... throughout my life that comfort has looked like many other things: destructive emotions, promiscuous sex, material stuff, gluttony, drugs, alcohol, arranging my own life and my own path ... you name it, I've been there. Maybe if I just hung in and waited in the wilderness, waiting (as in "wait on Me"), just maybe if I trusted Him and obeyed His words, then maybe I'd walk out of that wilderness and discover the path He has written just for me. A new path that is absolutely nothing like any other I've chosen before. Not that it's safe, in fact it might be a bit scary, but it will be a path full of adventure, written into my heart as the desires I've so effectively buried, full of life as I've never dared to imagine for myself.

I was caught off guard a bit by verses 12-16. It says that when Jesus heard that John had been put in jail, He returned to Galilee, then left Nazareth and lived in Capernaum ... to fulfill what Isaiah prophesied about Him. So that got me thinking. Jesus knew the prophecies about Him, and He knew what road to take every step of the way. I think that's one of the hardest things about life .... I don't know (sometimes) which path to take. He did. So I started thinking about what that means for me. On the face of it, it seems kind of unfair. But then again, my life story isn't about me, it's about God's glory revealed in my story. So maybe Jesus already had a roadmap, but He was also human. I guess his biggest advantage was this: He has a personal, intimate, love relationship with the Father, so much so that His words on earth were the Father's words. God in the flesh. So, again, where does that leave me? Maybe, just maybe, if I begin to obey God, put my nose just between his shoulder blades and follow Him, regardless of how crazy the terrain is looking to me, maybe I can develop that personal, intimate, love relationship with the father, which will give me ears to hear His voice and eyes to see the path He has put in front of me.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

8-11-09 / a journal entry

Genesis 4:6&7

"Then the Lord said to Cain: 'Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.' "

That's what God said to Cain. The sin in me (without Jesus) appears so close up and big that I allow it to devour me, instead of working to master it. God spoke to me. He reminded me to work out my salvation (Philippians 2:12).

I must obey Him in order to be purified; then and only then can I "have sincere love for my brothers, love others deeply, from the heart".

The craziness of my path in life is the direct result of the sin in my life. I didn't just "make bad choices", I willfully disobeyed God's word ... WOW .... I've never ever thought of it in that way. I have always packaged my life in terms of the fact that I made bad choices, I didn't think before I acted, blah blah blah .... all of those things are another way of saying that I chose a way other than the one laid before me by God. period. straight up sin.

I Peter 2:8
" ... they stumble because they disobey the message - which is also what they were destined for."