Tuesday, March 31, 2015

In Loving Memory of a Dear Man

Sadly for us, the world lost one phenomenal man last Saturday.  I've been thinking every day since I found out about his death that I would sit down and write a few words about his death; yetet the words eluded me. Mostly, they elude me still, but my heart knows what my mouth cannot say.

When I think of Joe, I recall the last conversation I had with him.  We were in the hallway of our church, and I stopped to ask how he was doing.

Although he was quite ill at that time, he was not only there for worship that Sunday morning, but he was also, as was typical of Joe, volunteering in the Sunday School hour, walking, with the aid of his cane, from classroom to classroom passing out, and then collecting attendance sheets.

When I asked after his health, he looked at me and smiled and said - Oh, great, just great!  Anyone could see that physically, he wasn't great, just great, but that was Joe.  His big smile cutting across the ubiquitous beard covering the bottom half of his face, never one to complain, only to encourage others with his optimism.  What a gift he had in that regard.

I could go on and on about all the ways in which Joe touched my life, my children's lives when they were led by him in Youth Group, and the lives of countless people who walked into his orbit, but I won't because something tells me he would balk at the praise.  I believe he would shrug it off and change the subject.  That's the kind of man he was.

As I think through all the years I knew him,  I cannot picture a moment when he didn't give God the glory for whatever circumstances happened along.  I believe no matter what, his heart chose to say, as the song [posted] says - Blessed be the name of the Lord... You give and take away, you give and take away... my heart will choose to say blessed be Your name.

I look forward to the day when once we'll meet again.  I have no doubt he'll be singing God's praises in heaven just as he did here on earth.  What a precious gem he was. I thank God for the privilege of knowing him.

~Philippians 1:3New International Version (NIV)
I thank my God every time I remember you.


Friday, March 27, 2015

Faith by Itself is Useless

Recently, a good friend of mine, who happens to be a non-Christian, brought up some recent political news topics (Google it yourself, I'm not here to debate or discuss recent legislation or comments surrounding it) centering around things that were said by professing Christians, and she pointed out how out of whack the comments where with who Jesus was [is],

This brought to my mind and heart a subject that I believe to be of paramount importance: Accountability for me as a Christian.

I never want my belief in Jesus to be questioned because of the way I treat others.  I want to live a life like Jesus.  He reached out to others. He loved everyone.  He admonished those who set themselves above standard...  In three small, but meaningful words - Jesus was love.

I know I will never be able to completely live up to Jesus' standard, but I have to try.  What good would it do me to call myself a disciple, and yet not strive to live up to Jesus' legacy?

 James 2:6-18  says that belief in Jesus [faith] by itself is useless.  It says we must show faith in our lives or that faith is dead.  No one will benefit from a faith that is dead.  We have to breathe life into our faith by reaching outward, and living a life of love, compassion, mercy and grace, just as Jesus did.

Anything less is a farce.

~John 13:34-35New Living Translation (NLT)
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Live Make Others Feel Special

There are days, maybe weeks and months at a time where I am so caught up in my own [stuff] that I move through life as if I am the center of the universe (complete self-absorption).  I do things for others; I love others; I pray for others, but I don't think about my impact on others as I should.

Sometimes people need to HEAR that they are the easiest person for me to talk to.  Or that they make me smile ever time I think about them. Or that they did a great job. Or perhaps they just need to hear that they are special, in whatever way, just because.

We are all special unique, wondrous, fantastic individuals and we need to tell each other that,  often.

In my younger years it was really hard for me to compliment someone.  It felt like I was giving the other person a piece of my soul.  Sounds hyperbolic, I suppose, but that is how it felt - like it was taking something away from me if I acknowledged a talent, trait, characteristic, or achievement I admired in someone else.

Chalk it up to immaturity, or low self esteem on my part, but being an encourager was something I had to grow into. Something I had to force myself to do until it became comfortable.

I tell you what, the more I acknowledged or encouraged someone else, the easier it was.  Then I realized that giving accolades away, in no way took away from my own [self], but more so confirmed that we all need each other in this world.  We need to be needed and we need to acknowledge the gifts of those around us.

In the end, we are all in this thing called life together.  We are interdependent. All part of a thing greater than ourselves.  When we recognize that fact, it comforts our souls in a way that eludes words. It invokes in us a feeling of oneness - among humanity, all around the world, regardless of race, religion, sex, etc.  We were made to harmonize one to another as a gift to our fellow life-travelers.

~1 Thessalonians 5:10-11 New Life Version (NLV)
He died for us so that, dead or alive, we will be with Him. So comfort each other and make each other strong as you are already doing.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Allow Jesus to Take Your Hand

I have no shame in admitting my fear.  I'm afraid of constant pain.  I'm afraid of the unknown.  I'm afraid I will never be physically whole again.

It was that fear which kept me from any doctors' offices for quite a long time.  Fear that there was something really wrong with me.  Fear that there was nothing wrong, and my symptoms were all in my head. How's that for dichotomy?

I feel just like Peter in Matthew 14:26-31.  I see Jesus out there walking calmly on the water, and I come to him, only I am distracted by the wind [my fears] so I take my eyes off my Jesus.

He's not willing to allow me to go under, however.  Guess what?  He loves me too much!  He saves me from myself by reaching out, grabbing hold of me and guiding me into his calm presence.

What a gift of mercy which I can never repay.  Though I am still in the midst of some disconcerting circumstances.  I realize I've never been abandoned, for that, in the same way I am unashamed of my fear, I am unashamed to say I am well and truly blessed.

Isaiah 41:10 New Living Translation (NLT)

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. 

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.


Friday, March 20, 2015

What to do When You Can't See the Light at the End of the Tunnel

So many burdens, both small and large...  I am delighted to know Jesus, who has promised to carry my misfortune, worry, sorrow and illness for me, so that I may rest.  Ah, the divine grace of it takes my breath away.

Dear Jesus,
With all that I am, I endeavor to bring honor and dignity to your sacrifice.  A simple thank you seems hollow.

~Matthew 11:28-30 New Living Translation (NLT)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

Mama Said There'd be Days Like this

Turns out Mama was right - there'll be days like this.  And they ain't fun.

I had a bad day yesterday.  A combination of unresolved health problems, my (warning: digression -very much needed [no matter what the New York Times has to say about over-medication of women for "normal" emotions, there are those of us who cannot live a quality life without them] psych medications) not being quite as effective as they could be, due to the aforementioned health issues - long story! coupled with a [figurative] gut punch from one of my teenagers left me bereft.

It left me bereft, crying, balled up in a fetal position wondering what in the WORLD I was going to do to turn things around.  It seemed pretty hopeless after hours of self-recrimination and hopelessness.

While talking to a trusted friend who told it was going to be okay, she told me that no matter how off the rails it seemed now, that I was doing a good job, and that I was tired, and in need of someone to take care of me for a minute, this (older than me!) chorus to this song popped into my head - Mama said there'd be days like this, Mama said.

Those words brought to me not only a sense of the impermanence of the situation, but also opened up a new dialogue in my head about my own teen and young adult years and the heartache I must have caused my own mother.  I didn't mean to.  I was only trying to find my own way in life - to make my own decisions, but certainly I gut-punched her on more than one occasion.

And guess what?  She's still standing!  She stayed steadfast in her love for me, and no doubt prayed a thousand prayers and shed as many tears for me, though I didn't deserve it, she did it anyway, knowing that there would be days like this and then, at some point there would be days like that.

I am quite content not knowing how long this day will last, as I look forward to days like that.  Days like that being days of victory because I spent some time in the days that weren't as victorious and learned [whatever] I was supposed to, and came out better for the experience.

Lamentations 3:21-23New Living Translation (NLT)
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

What Anchors your Life?

Fear can paralyze and threaten to drown me at times.  That breathless feeling of fear is not one I enjoy.  It's pretty terrible, in fact.

When I start to feel hopeless, when fear holds me in its grip, here's the way I see it- I have two choices- drown, or find something with which to anchor myself.

Drowning never has seemed like a great option to me (there is a whole other kind of fear that comes with that prospect), so I choose to find an anchor.

For me, after trying many different sources and [things] to anchor myself with, I've come to realize that only Jesus can bring to me the peace I need to feel hopeful and secure.  Only Jesus and my full reliance on him can truly anchor my soul and drive out fear.

~Romans 8:14-16 New Century Version (NCV)
The true children of God are those who let God’s Spirit lead them. The Spirit we received does not make us slaves again to fear; it makes us children of God. With that Spirit we cry out, “Father.” And the Spirit himself joins with our spirits to say we are God’s children.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

I'm Glad I Drew the Line and Gave up Control of my Life

I vividly recall the day I drew the line.  The day I said ENOUGH!  Not only could I not [do] this thing called life, I no longer had the desire to try.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Simplest Way to Find Joy Daily

I'd love to say that I wake up every day with a song in my heart and happiness in my spirit, but I would be dishonest if I said I did. Sometimes the joy in life proves to illusively slip through my fingers.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

You've got to just - PRAY ON (by Babbie Mason)


I am a firm and unwavering believer in the power of prayer. That being said, there are times when I pray, and discouragement overwhelms me, because I am still in the midst of [whatever], and it doesn't seem to get better fast enough. It is at times such as these, we are urged to Pray On. God's got [whatever] and we have to trust in his timing and in the answers we receive. We have our instructions, so we let it go, stay on our knees and just Pray On..

~Psalm 4:1New Century Version (NCV)
Answer me when I pray to you, my God who does what is right. Make things easier for me when I am in trouble. Have mercy on me and hear my prayer


Monday, March 2, 2015

How I get through hard times

Unspoken - In Your Hands (Youtube Video)

I'm leaving it (it being my troubles, my illness, my life, really) in the hands of a power higher than my own. I do so not because I am weak, or am in need of an imaginary crutch to help me get through the rough times, but, rather, because I am strong enough to know that to rely solely upon myself is not the way I want to live my life. I've tried that course of action. It doesn't work for me.

~Psalm 4:1 New Life Version (NLV)
Answer me when I call, O my God Who is right and good! You have made a way for me when I needed help. Be kind to me, and hear my prayer.