Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Out of the mouth of Caleb

We haven't been a "Harry Potter" family. I'm not sure why really...except that it had a bunch of controversey about it when it first came out and, since our kids weren't at an age to want to read it, we just never really paid all that much attention to it. So, about 8 months ago, Drew (our 10 year old) asked if he could read them. Being that there was magic involved, I told him that I would read them first and if I thought that they were appropriate then he could read them. He has now read 2 of them and I have read all but the last one.
Fast forward to a couple of nights ago. We were having "family night". This is a very uncomforatble time where all 6 of us pile onto our king sized bed and watch a movie. I'm not exactly sure how family night ended up being a dog pile on our bed, but once everyone gets a spot, the arguing about whose foot is in whose nose stops and the movie begins, it's a great time. So a few nights ago, we were watching "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone". In this book/movie there is a mirror that Harry finds and when he looks in it he sees his parents. His friend, Ron, sees himself as a great success. Harry is an orphan and keeps going back to the mirror night after night to see his parents and finally one night the headmaster, Dumbledore, finds him there and tells him that the mirror shows the viewer the deepest desires of his heart. He says, "The truly content man would look in the mirror and see only himself". And up pipes Caleb, " I know what I would see in the mirror". My mommy instinct knows that Caleb can be sarcastic and is EXTREMELY funny so I am prepared for something along those lines and he says, "I'd see Jesus".
Outside of the fact that it made me cry, it also made me think really hard about what I would see and I'm not sure that it WOULD be Jesus. I mean, I would WANT it to be, but WOULD it be? What IS the deepest desire of my heart? I'm not sure and a big part of me wouldn't even want to look into that mirror. I'm not sure that I want to know what that mirror would see. But hearing that statement coming from an 8 year old so perfectly, so naturally, so instantly made me desire to have that desire. I want to desire Him above everything else, but things get in the way. The day to day business of living gets in the way. My selfishness gets in the way. My humaness gets in the way. And yet Caleb answered the question of what his heart's deepest desire was in an instant.
I want the nonsense of living to be eclipsed by my desire for Him. I want to be selfish of my time with Him. I want to be like Caleb.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

If I only had a brain

I could while away the hours,
Conferrin' with the flowers,
Consultin' with the rain.
And my head I'd be scratchin'
While my thoughts were busy hatchin'
If I only had a brain.
I'd unravel every riddle
For any individ'le
In trouble or in pain.
With the thoughts you'll be thinkin'
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain.

If I only had a brain. OK...I have to give credit to the start of this devotion to Tara Hilderbrandt. She posted a portion of this song on Facebook and it didn't seem quite right to me so I ended up singing it in my head for 20 minutes until I got enough of the song to google it and figure out the right words.

But the reason that it hit a chord with me was that as a kid I remember watching "The Wizard of Oz" and I really loved the movie (EXCEPT for the flying monkies...can I get an AMEN?) but I always, ALWAYS felt let down at the end. I always felt that it was just too terrible of the Great and Mighty Oz to turn out to be a human. I expected him to BE the Great and Mighty Oz.

But I can say that I am guilty of this in my own life too. I see something or someone that I think is amazing and suddenly I think THAT is the person or thing that is going to fix whatever it is that I think I'm lacking. It's prevalent in our society, too. If you don't think so look at late night TV. It's full of stuff that is designed to fix anything you might think is wrong with you. Neck exercisers to tone your neck, Derma Pro to get rid of wrinkles, Bump Its to make your hair stand up, Slap and chop to make you better in the kitchen, make up, exercise equipment, diet programs, cleaning tools, gadgets, stuff to whiten your teeth and stuff to tan your skin, stuff to make your laundry cleaner and stuff to grow your yard, stuff to make it easy to be warm and keep your hands free and stuff to keep your car cool, people to tell you how to live your life and people to tell you what to do with your money. It goes on and on and on because we are ALL looking for something.
None of us feels "good enough" in our physical body...our earthly body. See, God planned for there to be a hole in us. He created this hole in us and He made it God shaped...Jesus shaped. Because the only thing...the only Person Who can fill it is Jesus. Filling it up with all that other stuff works for about a minute until it falls right though that hole becaues it doesn't fit. We are all looking to the Great and Mighty Oz and he will always be human. He will always disappoint. But see, Glenda comes and tells Dorothy that she had the ability to go home all the time. It was inside her. If you have Jesus inside you, you have the plug for that hole. It's there inside you.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Going Home

I saw that "Jaws" was on TV today. That movie always hits a chord with me. The summer of 1975 I was only 8. "Jaws" was rated R, but left to the somewhat questionable discretion of my Uncle Tom (this was the man who called us in to dinner by shooting us with a bb gun out the back door of the house) "Jaws" became a perfectly OK movie for me, my cousin Mitch (8), his son Brent (also 8) and his daughter Brenda (about 6). Now this was in Montana so sharks are about as real to them as a Jackalope, but I lived in FL and I knew that sharks were REAL. So the natural conclusion would be that after the movie I would be terrified of the beach...scared of the sharks there. WRONG! I had nightmares about being inside that shark cage without any air and dying. OK...a little weird, but that's what scared me. Something that wasn't even a part of the movie. I mean no one got trapped in that thing without air but that was my fear.
Skip ahead to the next summer. Every summer I spent some time at my grandparents' home in Port Charlotte. I was very lucky...I had both grandparents on my mom's side and also both Great-grandmothers. I had a VERY close relationship with Gram E (read grammy) my mom's mom's mom. She lived to be 103 and a half (she told me that under 10 and over 100 you get to count your halves so I always make sure to add that half...LOL!) and she was a wonderful, amazing, funny, caring woman of God and, eventhough neither of my grandparents were beilevers, Gram E always took me to church with her when I was visiting. So one day, on the way home from church, I told her about my dream and how scared I was about dying. I remember it as if it were yesterday. She never skipped a beat.
This is what she she said:
"You like coming to visit us in the summer, don't you"?
"You stay for a couple of weeks or a month and then at the end of summer you go home, right?"
"When your mom comes to get you, are you afraid to leave"?
"Of course not. You're going home. Eventhough you miss us and we miss you, you are not scared when it's time to go home. Do you know why"?
"Because I live there".
"Yes. This is not your home. This is a vacation. It's fun, but it's not your home. It's the same thing when you die. If you are God's child then you don't live here. You're just visiting this life. Your real home is with the Lord. When He comes to get you it's not scary...maybe a little sad, but not scary. He's just taking you home like your mom takes you home after your time with us here every summer".

WOW! What a succinct and visual word picture for a 9 year old that was scared to die in a shark cage. I'd like to say that I never had that nightmare again. I did, but not for years and even then it was actually a really good nightmare because it always reminded me of what she had told me. Now whenever I hear that music...dum dum, dum dum, dumdumdumdumdumdum I can't help but think of her and how she helped ease my fears and how, later, when I accepted the Lord as my Savior, she was the first person that I wanted to tell. When I think about it now I just want to tell her that I can't wait to see her again...but I'll wait until the end of summer.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The One Where They're Trapped

Robbie and I found a new show. I love finding new shows that we both like. We watch TV a lot. I know it's probably not good, but I read and he doesn't so we can't share books, but we have what I consider cross-over TV interests. My TV of preference is Nancy Grace and Issuses with Jane Valez-Mitchell and his is The Slug Who Ate Manhattan and Shark-o-gator or some such stuff. But in the middle we enjoy the CSI's, Criminal Minds, Eureka (obscure but VERY funny), Bones, Fringe, Heros and 24. Now we have a new cross-over...Warehouse 13. It's a great premise of an FBI undercover kind of operation where these agents are the caretakers of this warehouse full of "artifacts". These consist of Lewis Carroll's looking glass, Ameila Erhart's plane, inventions by Ben Franklin, Thomas Edison and more that were too far beyond their time to be released. Cool premise.

Anyway, the episode today was about 3 of the main characters getting stuck in a house inside the warehouse. They kept trying to escape but everytime they went out one door they just came back in another. Or they would go out through a hole in the roof and come back in through the fireplace. Not scary at all...pretty funny watching the guy try to take the house by surprise and jump out a window just to come flying back in another one. But it got me thinking...

I think that I live my life like that sometimes. I think that I have something licked and POOF! I come down through the fireplace. I tend to get stuck in stuff. Mostly I get stuck in what I think people expect from me, but also I get stuck in what I expect from myself and what I think that God expects from me. It can be a really hard landing. Especially when I start to think that I'm doing a good job. I'm on top of stuff. I've returned every phone call, attended to my kids' every need, the house is clean (well mostly), my van isn't a disaster and POOF! everything falls apart. I have 20 unanswered phone calls, the kids are beating on each other, the house is a landfill and things are falling out of my van when the kids try to get in it from school. It seems like it happens in the blink of an eye. Then I seem to take a running dive at my life. Take it by surprise. If I just speed up, get organized, work harder, be nicer... I can't. No matter how many times I try to climb out the hole in the roof I still come back down the fireplace.
So am I saying that it is hopeless? That no matter how hard you try that you can never be good enough? That we are on this endless treadmill? NO, NO, NO! What I AM saying is that without the Source I can try and try and try and I'll never get out of whatever I am stuck in. I can't make anything happen. I am simply not able. But I know the One Who IS able. I know the One Who holds the key. And it should be just that simple. But it's not. I don't like to turn over control. Not that I'm IN control...I just don't like to think that I'm not.
So how do I turn over control? There are tons of word pictures that I could give. I'm pretty good at that. But the reality is that word pictures are great for describing emotions and feelings but not concrete actions. Concrete actions need concrete words. So here are the words that I use...
Lord, I don't want to give up control so please help me WANT to. Help me WANT to make the right choices and help me WANT to give everything up to You.
See, I could just pray for Him to take control. I could and He would...until I yanked it back. Asking Him to take control doesn't get to my heart that doesn't WANT to give Him control. So instead I pray that He will help me WANT to give Him control because He will. He has and will change my heart so that I WANT it. I need to WANT to WANT it. It's the same with anything that we do. You can do it because it's the right thing to do or because you WANT to do it.
So the next time that you find yourself trying to beat your way of of something only to find yourself right back where you started, stop and pray. Ask Him to help you WANT to give Him control over the situation.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Grab him

Laryn said to me yesterday, "Why doesn't Uncle David believe in Jesus?" Hmmm...kind of a hard one to answer. We have had this conversation before. David is my best friend and the kids call him uncle. Laryn can't grasp someone not believing in Jesus. She can't grasp how anyone could be anything but madly in love with Jesus so our conversations on the subject of Uncle David never come to a conclusion that she can understand. She loves Jesus. She loves Uncle David. Jesus loves her. Uncle David loves her. Jesus loves Uncle David. Uncle David and the Jesus part are the only hold out. In her thinking...WHAT'S THE HOLD UP HERE?
I love that she is so concerned. It really shows her tender heart, however it is very hard to explain to a 5 year old that someone thinks that he is too smart to believe in Jesus. Yeah...her response is, "Mom! That's so stupid! I don't get it." Well, kid I don't get it either. Well, not totally, but I have had my moments where I have felt led to give my testimony and didn't because I thought, "How stupid would that person think I am if I just stood here and told them how God got face to face with me through my oldest daughter?" See somewhere we have accepted the world's view that smart people don't talk about, need, want God. They are smart enough to handle it ALL ON THEIR OWN. I thought that I wanted to be an in control, I can do it, never fear super mom is here kind of a person. I still get tangled up in that a lot. But I also know that #1 that ain't ME, #2 I'm not happy when I'm not ME, #3 I'm not happy when I'm trying to do God's job and not looking at the job He gave me. It's when I give it back to Him and say, "I can't do it. I'm not smart enough or strong enough or brave enough, or even just organized enough." That's when I'm suddenly Einstein on speed with a sword and shield. My library books might even make it back to the library.
I'm just saying that in the upside down world of this amazing relationship with Christ, we often get tangled up in thinking the way that the world thinks. Even the smartest person in the world won't make it to heaven with his brain...unless that brain engages his heart to fall in love with the Creator of the Universe. But, you know what? I have a 5 year old with only Pre-K education under her belt that knows more than Uncle David about love and about sharing. She also understands how to assault the throne of her Father (well both of them really, but I'm talking heavenly here) for the soul of an uncle that she dearly loves. This child prays for him all the time. She challenges God to show Uncle David how much He loves him and "grab" him. I thinks it's really cute that she uses the term "grab" because what she is referring to is when we play she will run away and say that she doesn't want to hug and kiss us. So we chase her and at that moment that she looks over her shoulder she starts to laugh and we "grab" her and hug her and kiss her and laugh with her. She wants God to "grab" Uncle David. So do I, do I.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Seed

I'm not really going to write a devotion today. I am going to copy and paste an email that I got on Face Book a couple of days ago. I'm not doing this to toot my own horn. It just made me cry and it brought home to me just how important it is to constantly plant the seed even when you don't see any reason to.

Tracy says, "You may not remember me (Tracy Matthews) or probably do remember me as the girl who annoyed you from the back of the bus to high school! Well, I am very sorry for that. Wasn't always the nicest person back then! I remember you though as the girl when we first moved here that befriended me and my sister and invited us over and intoduced us to your friends unconditionally. I soon went on my way (the oppisite way) but I always remebered that you were a Christian and never stopped letting me know about Jesus. I even remember a photo of you guys at the beach with His face in the clouds. You showed it to me even though I was not interested. So along the way in my life I was born again in 2000. There are a handful of people that I would say planted that seed and you are one of them. As you know He does for anyone who receives Him, Jesus changed my life! So even if you dont except my friend invitation, I am just thrilled to be able to tell you that, I still talk about you in my testimony and try to live each day knowing what we do and say reflect our relationship with Christ and it does matter, and sometimes we never know if the seed hit fertile ground. Well yours did!Thank God and you for that! Lovely family you have!

SO SOW!!! I was just a high school student and this was back in 1982 or so. A VERY long time to wait to hear about a seed producing fruit, but OH SO worth it!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm a Catholic

I have absolutely NO memory of a time that I wasn't in church. There may have been a time. My parents came from very different religious backgrounds and moved quite a bit with my dad being in the Air Force. That would have caused some issues with coming together on a church, so I guess that I probably had a time in my very early life that I wasn't in church, but I don't remember it. My kids will be the same way. In fact they have had to have it explained to them that not everyone believes in Jesus. They are appalled and can't quite get that, but that is what happens when kids are immersed in a church family from birth.
My own experience was similar to many of yours. Because I was always in church and learned and believed and felt that I had "prayed the prayer" in church, in Sunday School, at revivals, etc. that I was good to go. I know that when I finally actually took the walk to the altar it wasn't a thunder clap or an amazing transformation because it was more like a baptism. I was simply going forward to make it a commitment in front of everyone else. It wasn't a sonic boom. It was more of a marriage. A courtship since I was old enough to learn about Him and a marriage when I was old enough to accept that gift.
Fast forward 25+ years. Two boys move in next door to us. Neither have ever really been to church. My boys invite them and they go. They enjoy it. My kids invite them to Kid's Quest and they go. The older child, Tyler, got in the car on the first day and was bouncing all around the car. I asked him how it was and he said, "It was GREAT! I thought that we were going to just sing and play games and stuff but we did SO much more! And guess what???!!! I became a Catholic!!!!"
Me:"You mean a Christian?"
Him:"Yeah, I did that thing to get Jesus!"
Hmmmm...sonic boom??? I'd say so. He knew nothing, nothing....NOTHing (OK, my private Hogan's Heroes thing) about being "saved", "born again", or any of the other catch phrases that we use. All he knew was that he "did that THING to get Jesus". A 12 year old boy who is now on fire for God...not that he even would understand what that means...but I watched him worship and he's caught on fire. Sometimes I'm sad that I didn't have a sonic boom. But I was put before the King as a baby and He chased me and I knew His face because I was introduced to Him by my parents. So I know the feeling of never being unchased...of always knowing that my Lord was pursuing me. But Tyler has the knowledge all at once that his Lord has been seeking him all of his life. I don't know which one is sweeter...knowing and being in relationship all your life or sonic boom where you just realize that you are so amazing in His eyes that He pursued you even when you didn't even know that He existed.
God is so amazing. Sonic Boom or quiet, loving relationship or anything in between...He knows what reaches our hearts in every area of our lives. We just have to be pliant enough to look at how God is reaching out to us.
Homework...How was your relationship developed with the Lord? Was it a rush where your heart was overtaken? Was it quiet love that wrapped you up and didn't let go? Write your love story with the Lord. How did He woo you? How did you respond? If you want to share you can send them to this email and I'll post them if you want or just read them for myself if you want.
God Bless you all and keep moving toward Him!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The lost get found

OK, I know that we always talk about the "lost" being "found" and that the Lord rejoices when we are found. I know the Prodigal Son. I understand the picture. At least I really thought that I did. I know different now.
My mom and I took Jordi and Laryn to Disney while you lucky people were at KAF. We had a blast doing the "girl" thing. Jordi and Laryn did Bibbitty Bobbity Boutique and were just precious. Well, the first day that we were there we went to Hollywood Studios. I haven't been there in years so we had to rely on the map quite a bit. I'm not used to that. We know the Magic Kingdom so well that we never use a map and we have Busch Gardens annual passes and don't need a map there. I'm not a good map reader and it's sometimes just easier to ask directions but the park was crowded and the cast members were hard to catch...and there's probably a whole teaching on maps here somewhere - but that's not where I'm going. LOL! OK, we have done the theme park thing 100s of times. I've taken all 4 kids by myself, so has Robbie we've done it together and we have NEVER lost a kid. At least not for more than it takes to turn around and see that they just got separated by another family. But as we came off the Star Wars ride, my mom and I decided that we needed to stop for a minute to see where we were and where we were going. Jordi was just in front of us and I reached out and grabbed her shoulder to tell her to hold on a minute. Then I turned and started discussing the map with my mom. 3 to 4 minutes later we decided where we were going and I folded the map up. I looked up and no Jordi. Laryn is standing right there, but no Jordi. Panick. Mom and Laryn stay PUT! I start looking through the gift shop that we were in. Lots of really cool stuff. Light sabers, picture booths, toys, shirts, but no Jordi. The place is packed body to body and if she is bending down Ill never see her. I get all the way to the front, take a couple of steps out of the shop and look. No Jordi. I go back in. All the way back to the back. Mom and Laryn STAY PUT! Back towards the front. Out the door again but further. No Jordi. I go back in. Up to the counter and tell the lady there that I lost my daughter. How old? 6. 6! She immediately tells the staff to "code Adam" and not let any children out of the shop. What does she look like? Well, Dora. With the same outfit on as that little blonde girl. We go up the ramp so that we can look down on the shop from the second story. No. She's not there. And I had these really CUTE orange bracelets made with a bunch of phone numbers all over them for just this reason. But we left them at home. Phone numbers. What have I always told my kids if they get lost? Find a mom with kids and tell them you are lost and to please call your mom. At that exact moment my phone rings. Have you lost a little girl? YES! She's in front of the Star Wars ride. I think that I hung up on the lady. I'm not sure. All I know is that I told the staff lady that we found her yelled at my mom and Laryn to follow me and I was off. I have never gotten through such a crowd that fast in my life. Outside, turn the corner, about 50 yards down the walkway. MOMMY! I get tackled by a pint sized linebacker. The lady says to me, "How old is she"? "6". "Wow. She was so composed. She just walked up and told me that she was lost and could I please call her mom. Then she rattled off her phone number". THEN as the lady says this Jordi starts crying.
Now there are a lot of lessons that could be taken from this about how we get lost and all, but the thing that I took away from this is just how desperate the Father's heart is for His lost children. I think that we take for granted that desperation and that single minded pursuit as more of an abstract idea that God wants to find us. As if we were a lost coin or a set of keys. You do NOT search for a set of keys like you do for a child. There is a no way that you are going to take a break from looking for a child. There is no way that you are going to stop until that child is back with you. Thinking about the Father looking for His lost children in that frame really puts a different face on our mission as Christians. I will be forever grateful to that lady that got Jordi back to me. But if she didn't have a cell phone she wouldn't have been able to call me. If she didn't have it charged she wouldn't have been able to call me. If she had ignored a little girl she couldn't have called me. We are equipped to restore people to the Father and so often we are unprepared or unwilling to do what we are charged to do...what we should WANT to do over anything else.
Just think about Jordi and ask yourself if you are ready to help someone who is lost.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day and the pancakes

Happy Mother's Day!
First, I want to thank everyone for all your prayers during my surgery and my recovery so far. I am doing pretty well, but since the surgery ended up being much more involved than expected, I have a lot more healing to do.

Laryn has a saying that I love. She will tell you, "you are the best _______ I have!" Fill in the _______ with Mommy, Daddy, Nanny, friend, sister, get the point. She has a way of making everyone feel like they are special. Robbie always tells her that it's a good thing he's the best Daddy she has since he is the only Daddy God gave her. To which Laryn says, "I know. He's my best God". We all want to feel like we are the best _____ SOMEthing. I found an old Mother's Day card from Caleb in preschool and it said My mom's the best at...and then there were like 5 things to list and he put that his mom was the best cook. OK...I generally don't cook. So I had to think why he would put that I was the best cook. Is this a stereotype? Does he think I work at McDonald's? So I asked him why he wrote that I was the best cook. His answer was that I make the best pancakes ever. So me and Betty and Aunt Jamiama and Peter Pan we got a thing going and that makes my son think that I am the best cook ever. Now being a great cook isn't something that I aspire to. Fun, involved, a mom who knows her kids...yeah, but a cook? Not so much. But you know what? I DO want to make the best pancakes ever for my son. I want to fulfill his expectations of me. Just like when Laryn tells me that I am the best Mommy that she has...I want to be the best Mommy she has.
When someone tells you that you look nice or that they like your top or that you sounded great in choir, it makes you feel important. That's the way we were made. It makes you want to be those things that that person says that you want to be worthy in their eyes.
So all of this got me to thinking about what God says about me and what I should think about what He thinks about me. I looked it up and it made me extremely proud to read the things that He wrote about me.
Think about this, you are: A jewel in His crown, a treasure of great price, His bride, the lover of His soul, every fiber was knit together by Him before you were placed in to your mother's womb, you are worth the life and suffering of His only Son, you are worthy of His devotion and His love, His adoration and His name. The thing is that we are never able to live up to all of that. I'm not the best cook ever, but because I make him good pancakes with peanut butter and syrup on them, to him I am the best cook ever. So ask God why do you think these things about me? Why am I special above all else to you? Allow Him to praise on you. Allow Him the opportunity to tell make the best pancakes ever. See there is something or something(s) that you do for God that He wants JUST from you. If Caleb thought that I was the best cook in the world and so I started to make a bunch of great gourmet dishes I wouldn't have satisfied his hunger OR his statement that I was the best cook.
So as far as I can see if we are trying to be the best at something for God we should sure know what it is that He finds so amazing about us...even if it's just that we make great pancakes.

Dear Lord, We all want to be the best moms that we can be but more importantly we want to be the moms that YOU created us to be. What good is it for me to try to be a gourmet cook for my kids when Caleb is happy with the pancakes. They mean something to him. So instead of striving to some superhero mom status that doesn't mean anything to my kids and wears me out and gets me no kudos, I need help to hone down on my 4 children's love languages and I do my very best to speak to each of them in at least their primary and hopefully their secondary every day. And I ask that You speak to each of us in our own love language.
We love You and honor You, Amen

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Humble Pie

Humble Pie! I got my 2 fisted helping today. I was in a hurry. It seems like I am always in a hurry...or waiting...or both. Today was both. I ran in to Walmart to get a few quick things. Whoever came up with the idea of a Superstore has an eternal place of gratitude in my heart. Busy moms running in and out of several stores and dragging tired or wired or hungry or cranky or have-to-go-potty kids in and out of the car with them, pledge our allegiance to the creator of the Superstore. So I had to get a few things and I ran in with Laryn, 5, and grabbed what I needed, dodged the toy aisle and got to the 20 items or less line in about 10 minutes (MIRACLE!!). In line in front of me was a young man about 20, another mom arguing with a 2 year old over a chocolate bar and right in front of me was an elderly lady with a card and a nick knack. She started talking to Laryn. She's a very outgoing child and was carrying on this conversation which kept me from having to argue with HER about a chocolate bar and I kind of zoned thinking about what else I had to do before the other 3 kids get out of school for the summer. The line moved predictably until this lady got to the counter. I tuned back in. She was still carrying on a conversation with old are aren't you a big girl...what school do you go to...typical elderly lady/5 year old conversation. I was getting impatient. She hadn't taken out her wallet, debit card or any other form of payment. She just settled her purse on the counter and started talking to the clerk. Good grief! Couldn't she see there was a line behind us? Couldn't she see I was in a hurry? She introduced Laryn to the clerk. She took out her wallet and took out cash. UGH! I am REALLY in a hurry. All the while she is still chatting with Laryn and the clerk. She starts counting $1 bills. Hands them to the clerk. The clerk glances at me and rolls her eyes and the woman begins counting change. Oh for crying out loud! Use your debit card! This line is for people in a HURRY! She gets the change (exact!) and begins putting her purse back together...without moving away from the counter. I am really, really getting impatient now. As she gets her purse back together she bends over and says to Laryn, "Laryn, do you know that Jesus loves you?", Laryn says yes. Bella (Laryn told me her name later) then says, "Laryn, I am SO glad that you know that! My son-in-law doesn't believe that Jesus loves him and he wouldn't let my daughter take my granddaughter to church or tell her that Jesus loves her and they got into a car accident in Maine 3 weeks ago and my granddaughter died. She was only 6 and no one was ever allowed to tell her that Jesus loved her. I believe that because she was so young she is back with Jesus right now, but I am so very sad that no one told her about Jesus so I want to make sure that I don't go any where without telling someone that Jesus loves them." Laryn (remember outgoing) gives this lady a hug and said, "Jesus loves you, too." The lady collected her bag, her purse and her receipt and smiled at everyone waiting in line and walked out.
Humble Pie. A clerk rolling her eyes. Me tapping my foot. Looking at the clock on my phone. Zoning out to think about what I needed. And an elderly lady making sure that a 5 year old knows that Jesus loves her.
Dear Lord, PLEASE make me more aware of the people around me. They are Your children and not just obstacles to me getting where I need to go. I don't ever want to be in such a hurry that I can't take the time to tell someone that You love them. Please be with Bella in her grief. Bless her for being the person that made me eat humble pie today and realize that being in a hurry is no excuse for being tuned out. Don't let me take for granted the love and grace that You have given me. I love You and honor You. In Jesus' name.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Sunday's Coming

Happy Easter!!!
You know I have been thinking this past week about what every day of the week must have been like for Jesus as He headed towards Easter. He experienced so many things in that one week: triumph, sorrow, fear, loneliness, betrayal, resignation, disgust, sympathy, empathy, pain, horror, victory and love. Love. I think about what He went through on the cross for me and it shames me. Humbles me. Envelopes me. Saddens me. And yet...Sunday's coming. SUNDAY'S COMING!! Jesus had that knowledge even when He was being beaten, hanging on the cross and being defiled by our sins. It had to be the whisper from the Father that kept Him going...Sunday's coming! Then the cross. Even as the Father had to turn His back on our sin encompassing His Son He had whispered...Sunday's coming! The veil was torn and the Father shouted...Sunday's coming! The stone was rolled away and the whole earth shuddered with the thunder...SUNDAY'S HERE!!!!
Some of us are in places that make us wonder if we have been forgotten. No one in THIS world seems to care. Our friends don't seem to understand our pain. Our spouses are indifferent. Our finances are strained. Our houses are a mess. Our jobs are tedious. And there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. But...Sunday's coming! It might feel like it's just a whisper right now. Maybe it is. Maybe you are so far away from God that the whisper can't even be heard. But the thing is that God hasn't moved. If you're having trouble hearing listen. Move closer...Sunday's coming! He's waiting to show you the wonder and the security that comes when you hear Him...Sunday's coming! But you know what? People, finances, jobs, houses...none of them are responsible for our happiness. Looking at them to make you happy is just getting yourself stuck on Friday. If there is one thing that I want to say to give you hope is this: SUNDAY'S HERE!!!!
He's paid the price and covered the sin. It's over. Don't get stuck on Friday. Start living like you know that Sunday's coming. Because the promise of Sunday is what separates us as Christians. WE know that the promise is that Jesus has conquered death, hell and the grave and He's coming back for us. SUNDAY'S COMING!!!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Campbells and Jordi

Dear Ladies,
Right now I am heartsick. That's the only word that I can find that even comes close to describing how I feel right now. Two wonderful, amazing, loving people were taken from us this past Wednesday. My Campbell. That was Laryn's name for Don. I'll never forget the day that they met. Laryn was 18 months old and we were at Craig park at that multi-denominational concert thing that they had. Laryn used to be the kid that didn't go to anyone. Me, Robbie, my mom and my dad were about the extent of her circle. Then Jill and Jacob in the nursery after a LONG several months of screaming the roof off the church whenever I'd leave her in there. Anyway, he sat on the grass next to us and started talking to Laryn. She hid behind me. He played peek a boo with her. She started laughing at him. He got her to give him five around my back. By the end of the concert they were best friends and he was carrying her all over. He became MY Campbell to Laryn. She would see him from across the courtyard or down the hall at church and run screaming up to him with her arms in the air, "My Campbell!!!!"
The circumstances of their deaths are unclear but it is being reported as a murder/suicide. How? I don't care about the specifics. I don't want to know the mechanics. I want to know HOW? How could people who loved God, who loved people, who WE loved end like this? And how could God let this happen?
OK...I KNOW He didn't let this happen. I KNOW it. But how could He? He's bigger than that. He COULD have stopped it. I'm mad. REALLY mad. And very, very sad. I've felt this way before. And God is so good that He understands my being mad. Even if it's misplaced anger.
I was all set to do this devotional on Sunday night. I'm not sure exactly why I didn't but I didn't. I already knew what it was about because I had several of you that have asked me to recount Jordann's testimony and I was all set to do that. See that was the time that I was ANGRY with God. I mean REALLY ANGRY!!!! And that's why God had me wait.
Jordi was born 8 weeks premature. My mom and I were out Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving when we got into a car accident. There were several things that led up to that but suffice it to say that we were not supposed to be where we were when the accident happened. Our plans had gotten changed. So there was an accident. It wasn't a bad accident. The airbags didn't go off. The car was only minimally damaged. But the seatbelt hit me where my C-section scar was and I went into labor. Ruptured uterus. Emergency C-section. Jordann in NICU. Then it got really bad. She had air in her chest. Her lung ruptured. She was sent to All Children's. Had to have part of her lung removed. 21 days in NICU. Came home on an apnea monitor. Stopped breathing several times. I was MAD!!! I honestly didn't lose my faith...actually it was the opposite. I KNEW He was big enough to have fixed this. We had prayed for a safe pregnancy. He could have done that. He COULD have...but He didn't. I was MAD!!! How could He have let this happen to me? To Jordann? Why did we have to go through this horrible thing? OK, OK, OK...I know "All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord". I've heard it since I can remember. But this wasn't working for anyone's good. My daughter was hurt! She had surgery! She almost died in my arms twice! How could this be good?
When Jordi was 3 months old we had a Dr's appointment. We had spent most of her 3 months in some sort of Dr's office. But this was the lung surgeon. A great lady. Wonderful Christian woman. Best friend to Robbie's cousin (don't tell me God didn't have a hand in THAT!). When she walked into the exam room she said, "There's my miracle baby!" Yeah, right. I had an attitude. A major one. A really major one. I'm sure that she saw that. She laid her hand on my knee and said something that I will remember verbatim for the rest of my life. "No, you don't understand. I didn't tell you all of this at the hospital because I could see how overwhelmed you were, but Jordann's lung issue was congenital. It had nothing to do with the accident and 99.9% of babies with this are stillborn because when they hit 36 weeks and they start breathing amniotic fluid the cyst blows out and the chest fills with amniotic fluid and it crushes the heart and lungs and they die." WHAT??!!
So, about 5 seconds my whole world was turned upside down. He DID allow this to happen to us. He allowed it because satan had planned for me to blame God for this. Since satan doesn't know the future and doesn't know what God has planned he tried to take something that I had said (the tongue is more powerful than a two-edged sword) to Nicole Kerr months before and use it to turn me against God. Nicole and I had been on the phone talking about Evelyn Kikta and how she had just had a baby and was in NICU at All Children's. I said, "I can't even imagine. That would be a nightmare for me. Both boys roomed in and I can't imagine how horrible it would be to have a baby in the NICU". (Secondary what ammunition you give the devil. He's always looking for something to use against you). Anyway, the most horrible thing that had ever happened to me saved me from having a stillborn baby. So how do you process that? How do you look at anything that happens after that and not say, "God has my back"? If the worst thing that has happened to me was an answer to prayer then what else can satan do?
I have a different outlook on life now. I can't look at anything that happens, good or bad, without realizing that even if I had never gotten the an answer for why I had to go through this with was STILL an answer to prayer. Just because we don't know why things happen or because we can only see the hurt and the suffering and the grief doesn't mean that God isn't using that as an answer to prayer.
Please understand that I am not saying that Don and Joanna's deaths are because someone prayed. What I am saying is that what God promises He does. And He promises that, "All things work together for good for those that love the Lord". They loved the Lord. We love the Lord. I believe in His promises. It's the faith that we stand on. When everything is falling down around me I know He has my back. And I know that He'll understand if I'm mad, that He'll hear me when I cry, that He'll heal the wounds.

Dear Lord,
I'm mad. I'm hurt. I'm grieving. I don't understand. But I trust You. I believe that Joanna is dancing at Your feet right now and that she is free of pain. I believe that Don is standing in wonder at Your throne. Lord, I ask that You will help heal our wounds. That You will give us the words to explain to our children something that we can't understand ourselves. That You will help us to not pass judgment and to be a able to be soft-hearted to those that will try to pass judgment. Please touch us. Put Your healing, comforting hand on us. We believe in Your Word and we believe in Your promises. Thank you for the lives that they led and the things that they gave us. Thank you for My Campbell.