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memorial day.

I haven’t lost anyone close to me who gave their life for our country.

But I know many of you have.

What a noble act for your loved one to protect all of us.

When I am feeling annoyed over something small – even sorrowful over something big – I think of the 15 and 16 year old young men who fought in the Civil War and beyond.

They never got to experience life.

These are difficult things to grasp, no matter what your story is.

Christians have hope; a certainty and assurance of knowing there is life beyond here on earth – where God says he will wipe away every tear and there will be no more sorrow or death.

My prayer is comfort and peace for you today as you remember the loss of your loved one for our nation.

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acknowledgement

I don’t dwell on losing Christopher. I say this because some say and some think “You’re a Christian, don’t get stuck in grief”.

I say what Jesus said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they don’t.

The words shared here resonated with me. And the reason I can go on in life, despite the ache in my heart, is because I know Jesus was acquainted with grief. He knows and will help us.

Bereaved Parents

Grief does not demand pity; it requests acknowledgement.

Grief is not simply a feeling, it is a deep indescribable anguish of the soul that permeates our entire being. It exists whenever there is trauma and loss. I do not say this to diminish anyone’s grief in the loss of a beloved pet, a mate, etc.; however, there is no grief that compares with the loss of a child. You do not get over it, you do not move on from it. You only move forward with it. The excruciating pain becomes a lifelong companion.

Bereaved parents are not wallowing in self-pity. A part of their soul has been violently torn from them. Yes, they go on and find a manner of functioning that may appear to the outsider as if they have ‘gotten over it’; but let me be frank: NO! They have not! Appearances can be deceiving. Any unexpected…

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mother’s day.

While shopping for groceries yesterday, tables were set up in the entrance of all the stores, filled with flower arrangements for Mother’s Day.

But today, you might not be celebrating.

Maybe memories of your mother are painful.

Maybe you didn’t have a mother in your life.

Maybe your mother died and you miss her terribly.

If you are a mother, maybe you haven’t talked to your child in years because of a broken relationship.

Or maybe your child died.

Please just know, some of us know there are people like you who are hurting today.

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when understood.

Yesterday, I read this:

“God’s anger is that of a father who is unconditionally committed to his children but because of that is furious at their sin. There is nothing that affects us like the displeasure of one we love and adore. This fatherly anger, full of unfailing love, when understood, is a transforming motivation that makes us willing and able to change.”  The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller

full of unfailing love, when understood.

There’s a lot we don’t understand about God.

But there is enough we do understand.

We either see an angry God, aloof and disconnected or we see him as loving to the extent of accepting whatever we do or how we live.

Both are wrong.

It’s up to us to understand. And we can.

We may say because we cannot understand everything we cannot understand anything. If you believe in God, if you believe Jesus died on behalf of your sin, you must believe in a benevolent God who didn’t leave us without understanding some things.

Maybe not all, but some. And some, is enough.

The most important thing we can understand from the Bible is God’s character. There is plenty there to tell us what He is like and what He will do.

It’s true – God is angry at sin. That’s kind of hard to understand in a world which accepts so much sinful behavior, along with accusations of not loving if you don’t accept it.

Excuses are made. Labels are applied. But the bottom line is sin is a real thing we have to come to terms with.

But then there is God so loved the world …

He lowered Himself to become a part of humanity.

He dwelt among us.

He gave Himself on the cross and his anger was justified at the cross.

Again, this may be difficult to comprehend because society has become so accepting of certain sinful behaviors (more so than 10, 20, 50 years ago) it may be hard to remember that God sees things differently than we do. I mean, after all, he is God, right?

Yet, He also loves us in a way we cannot fully grasp. Our love is limited. His is not. Our love is conditional. God’s love is unconditional.

Does that mean he loves us no matter what? Yes. He embodies love in the highest form – sacrificing Himself on our behalf.

So how does this help a hurting person?

Unless you know who God is, you are unlikely to trust him.

If you think he is just angry, you will stay clear of Him.

If you think he is just loving, you will be angry because He “let this happen”.

The only way you can trust Him is to understand who he is. Not what you think He is, but who He really is.

What does God want from us? Following all the rules and regulations?

He wants our love.

We cannot love what we don’t understand.

When we find out who God is – what He is really like – we will be motivated to be willing and able to change.

Believe me. When you begin learning what God is really like, you will begin loving Him, because you will start to trust Him. You find out he really does comfort you. He really does give you peace in your mind.

And you will want to change only because you love Him; not because you have to behave in order to go to Heaven.

It’s not just about changing how we live, but how we view God through what the Bible tells us about Him. We either believe it or we don’t. And because God loves us so much, it’s okay to ask Him to help us believe.

The reason to change is because it works. Like a good, earthly father, He knows what is best for us. The reason to avoid this and do not do that is to keep us happy and safe.

Hurting people get angry at God.

Hurting people get bitter.

Hurting people hurt themselves even more when they don’t turn to God for help.

He is there, waiting for you.

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Mara ~earth light~ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

 

God has no grandchildren.

If you’ve raised your kids in a Christian home, this is for you.

If you’ve raised your kids in a Christian home and you are hurting, this is for you.

We all know parents typically pass on their values and traditions to their children. We model what is important to us. We live, breathe, and eat what is valuable to us.

I have been very strong in my faith in terms of taking the scripture literally: Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.

The events of my life brought me to needing certainty in which to build my life upon. Maybe I was more needy than most. It doesn’t matter. The scripture stands true for all of us not matter what our story is.

Needless to say, I was determined to pass on to my children “the map” to guide them through life. I was not alone. Most of my church community were first generation Christians. This means church wasn’t just for Sundays, Easter, and Christmas. It was a lifestyle for us of embracing what God gave us, the Bible, to be the light guiding our path. Not in a legalistic, micro managing sense, but a nurturing environment whereby they could grow healthier and stronger than we ever did.

And avoiding the mistakes we made.

I worked hard at this. I raised and home-schooled 8 children. They will never know what I went without in order to give them all they needed. And I don’t really want them to know in order to get their eternal gratitude. That’s not the point.

I made mistakes along the way.  I lost my temper. I could have hugged them more. I could have been more encouraging. I could have given more individual time.

As one friend said during this time of raising our children, “you know, we are just one step ahead of them”, meaning, we are learning along with them.

But my main goal was they would love God the way I had come to love him. And we all know teaching is not so much what we say but how we live.

That didn’t mean rituals and reciting prayers. It meant loving God and doing what he says – not the letter of the law as if to receive good points or salvation – but out of love and knowing his ways are to bless us not harm us.

We knew it worked. We experienced it first hand.

The part I forgot was they had to experience it first hand, too.

One thing we were reminded as we raised our families, “God has no grandchildren”.

This means God only has sons and daughters. In other words, no one comes to God through another. It’s not automatic. There has to be a personal response to the salvation provided for you (Don’t we stand in awe of the guy who sacrificed his life by taking the bullet on the front lines, saving his platoon? Like that.). And there has to be a personal, ongoing relationship with God to know him, his ways, and all he provides to help us throughout life.

As our church community raised our children, I think most of us thought input – output. I know I did. I remember reminding my friends we can’t look for the results too quickly. We could be impatient. I mean, that’s how the world was conditioning us already in the early 80s and we’d have to be careful we weren’t looking for the “fruit” too soon. It’s like planting a garden, right?

It seemed simple enough. Practical. Of course, they would hear and see and automatically follow.  They would see how their parents invested in them in such sacrificial ways. At the very least, they would understand what we didn’t know when we were their age.

Then the years unfolded. We were naive enough to believe the teenage years would not be as tumultuous because we had provided and protected and kept the words of life visible in thought, words, and deed. Certainly the struggles were not going to hit them as hard as they did us when we didn’t have the map.

They did.

These unique, God-given, children who received Christ and were baptized, you know .. the ones God had a purpose and destiny for .. struggled, tripped, and fell just like we did.

And worse.

Then I remembered, God has no grandchildren.

That doesn’t mean only when they are 8, 10, 12 years old.

It means when they are 16, 18, 20 ..

.. 30, 40, or 50.

Dear parent, don’t look for the fruit too soon. They have enough of the word of God in them. It’s in there. And we know what God says- It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Remember? … the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

God’s ways, his time, is not like ours.

That doesn’t mean at age 12 or 18 all will be well.

It might.

But it might not.

That’s because our lives are a series of situations and events which cause us to choose which way we will go. And each one of us has to choose accordingly.

Each one of our children have to personally respond to what their decisions will be. It is between them and God.

It’s important to me that my kids, no matter what age, that they will see God’s word is true and can be trusted. That each one of us, no matter who we are or where we came from, are broken with weaknesses and faults and sin. We are vulnerable and frail. God knows this. He wants to help us.

If only we would listen.

I’ve learned something very important about myself, too. I know how I feel if my kids don’t choose God’s ways. It hurts because I know the personal sacrifice.

Now I know how God feels when I don’t choose his ways. Because He knows his personal sacrifice.

And now I have a greater understanding of how it makes him feel.

God loves us no matter how far away we stray from him. That is incredible to think about! He never, ever lets go.

If you are hurting because you’ve paid a price of raising your children with Christian values and principles, and perhaps even were mocked in the way you chose to have a Christian home, don’t despair.

You did not fail. You dedicated him or her to God, remember?

God knows all the details.

 

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limping along.

We all know what it’s like to have a bad day.

But how about a bad month? Or months? Or year?

There are difficult times in life I like to call seasons. Because just like seasons, they go on for awhile. The good part is a new season is always coming, and with it, hope for brighter days.

And eventually, everyone gets brighter days.

I’ve been feeling like I’m limping along for awhile now with many situations beyond my control.

How we feel (emotions) are real. But they are unpredictable, not always accurate, and can consume us if we don’t have something to anchor ourselves to. Beyond the days of heavy, dark clouds, the sun is shining. What you are feeling is real, just like the clouds are real. But you don’t always see beyond them.

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you know my anchor is God and the Bible.

Now before you start getting riled up with the oh-so-common opposition you feel welling up inside, let me ask you this: what anchors you? What keeps you from being overwhelmed? You are turning to something in order to cope. What is it?

Even though I am limping, I am steady.

I cry, I am angry, I am discouraged, I am weary.

But just like the small, unseen pilot light that keeps the pot on your stove constant without burning or boiling over, just like the steady glow of the lighthouse guiding ships to safety, God provides us with something to steady us through difficulty and even tragedy.

It’s called grace.

And God says grace helps in time of need.

And God says it is sufficient no matter what we’re facing.

It’s called peace.

And God says it’s not the kind of peace the world gives.

And God says it protects your heart and mind.

And it’s called joy.

And God says this joy is our strength.

And God says when we believe we will have joy.

I didn’t get here overnight. No one does. It has been a series of situations leaving me floundering in a sea of doubt, discouragement, and despair. I navigated through life not turning to other things, but believing and trusting God meant what he said. Through it, I became stronger and stronger.

God has “hard wired” us to depend on him. The fact anyone would resist is proof enough. We are pretty independent and God does not want us to be independent from him. He wants to help us and he outlines the way he will help us – if we want it.

I’m not saying if you haven’t developed a lifetime of building your life the way I did that you can’t do it now. He tells us he hears and answers … anyone at anytime.

So, great news! You can start your “lifetime” today.

Am I happy? Not really. I’ve had better days of happiness.

But I have discovered the real deal is when so much is wrong, you feel the grace, peace, and joy only God can give.

Doesn’t make sense, does it?

All the more reason to know it’s from God.

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