Mourn With One Another

June 23rd, 2017

When my mother passed away the summer of 2013 I had no idea what it would mean to me to have so many visitors come by and tell me what she meant to them. I was in a bit of turmoil inside and I wasn’t sure how to handle any of the arrangements for this woman who loved and lived so hard. She was my mother but she was also a lot of other things to many people while she was alive. I worried I couldn’t honor her properly with the state of my mind.

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Do you know why we have funerals? We have funerals to publicly acknowledge the reality of the death of our loved one and to give testimony to that person’s life. It’s also the launching pad for our mourning which catapults us into a sort of grief reconciliation. All fancy words that equal healing.

Death leaves us reeling for understanding though. Even believers who know the promised truth of eternity with those who share their faith in Christ experience the painful ache of losing a loved one. Which brings me to mourning together.

When my husband’s Papaw passed away 26 years ago, people and cars were lined up as if a famous celebrity had died. The church was packed! He was beloved in our small town. His life was valued by many, not just us. We were blown away by the love and support shown to us in honor of our Papaw. The strength we gained through those who joined us to mourn his death was incredible. We also felt a physical love that cannot be described.

We need the support of friends and family. We cannot grieve properly without it. In the book of Job, Job’s friends heard about all the tragedies happening in his life and immediately set out to support him. They traveled from their prospective homes and the story says when they were getting close they saw him and he didn’t even look like himself. His grief, his pain was so distressing that they also stopped and broke down as well.

The story goes on that these friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights….in silent agony. Mourning.

I’ve thought so many times that I was all alone in my pain over my husband’s job loss. Truth is, no one wants to listen to the depressing reality of someone else’s troubles. It’s a drag to be around someone hurting like that. It’s easier to just avoid them.

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Mourning doesn’t just happen in death. This world is full of hurting people with real life problems. Health issues, depression, family struggles, financial ruin, broken hearts, homelessness, job loss, loneliness and more. Real problems that break the heart and isolate the hurting from the love and support of others.

This is why we must mourn with those around us. Mourning alongside someone assures them that they’re not alone in their struggle. Like Job’s friends, mourning with someone might be in the form of just quietly sitting nearby. Some mourning might be done listening to them talk it out. Or even physical, you may have to literally hold someone while they cannot hold their own self upright. God knows how to use each of us if we are willing to be used.

I don’t know who in your life needs you but I bet you do. Don’t miss the chance to love and support someone who is mourning — your help may be all they receive.

mou rn

Mountain Mover or Not

June 22nd, 2017

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When it all falls apart…will you still trust Jesus? I only ask because the reality is that it will fall apart, sometime someday someway. No one, not a single person gets to walk through life without experiencing something that hurts or breaks them down.

Will you still believe that God loves you & trust Him with whatever the outcome?

This morning I woke up to a plea for prayer from one of my girls. Somehow she had made a tiny error at work that could equate into a big snafu for her boss. I felt her concern (that’s what mama’s do) through her request for HOLY POWER intervention and I immediately went to God in prayer. After praying, I sat listening and God in His infinite wisdom reminded me that I can still trust Him even when He doesn’t move the mountain in my way.

I knew He had a lesson for me in trusting Him to the fullest.

For the last year (over 10 months now) I’ve rally cried daily for God to help us and protect us from the job loss in September. Every single day, we’ve eaten….slept in a beautiful home….felt loved & cared for….watched bills get paid miraculously….found joy in the mundane….walked a daughter down the aisle to be married….celebrated a son graduate from the US ARMY….jumped up & down for a daughter’s college graduation and first big girl job….traveled to see parents across country….found sustaining temporary jobs to pay da billz and more! Why? Because, God is faithful.

Now faithful doesn’t always look like we ask it to look. If it did, for me…faithful might be in the form of another full-time normal job that offers all the insurance and vacation time regular working folks have. However, God is a lot more creative than we even imagine. He makes a way (if that’s what He wants to do) for us to go on whether it’s a 9-5 job or a contract job that allows whatever strange hours and days you need to work it.

But, what if nothing happens?

What if there’s never another real job? Will I trust Him?

What if there’s a loss of something more? What will I do? Will I still believe Him and trust Him?

What if He doesn’t answer my prayers for my children? Does He still care? Is He still working on their behalf?

The answer is YES! Yes, I will trust Him. Yes, I will believe Him. Yes, He is still working, loving, providing, helping, caring.

I WILL TRUST HIM.

These words from Lauren Daigle in her song Trust in You remind me that I can believe that God is everlasting and trustworthy with every little detail of my life.

So can you.

Trust in You

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

Am I Generous?

June 16th, 2017

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Many long years ago when my hubby was about to graduate from Bible college, a friend of a friend gave our family a generous gift of $500. Back then, money was tight. Seminary families are not living the high life if you’ve ever been curious. Matter of fact, to us…that $500 was more like $5000 to us in today’s money. It was a huge blessing and we were blown away by his generosity. He had no reason to gift us that money but he did and it taught me a huge lesson in generosity.

Give…. even if it costs you something.

For most of our married life we’ve been on a strict budget with our money. That’s probably normal for most folks living out the American dream. Still, we’ve tried to be generous with what God has given us. You’ve probably heard of or been the recipient by now of someone PAYING IT FORWARD. One of my daughter’s has this gift and loves to pay it forward every chance she gets. It’s a wonderful way to love on someone and show generosity for no reason at all other than your heart is over-flowing with kindness for those outside of yourself.

Being generous doesn’t always involve paying for someone’s coffee or hamburger in a drive-thru. We can be generous with our time, words, actions, attitudes and more.

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God reminded me this morning to be more generous in how I love the people He has put in my life. I pondered over it for a few minutes and came to the conclusion that I could use to be a little more giving when it comes to loving people. It’s easy to say you love someone when all is right in the relationship….but when you feel slighted or overhear a snarky comment it can be a challenge. Still, God expects us to love on in spite of how the other folks behave. Always. It’s important to remember to be a generous FORGIVER!

A good lesson for me who loves to love with abandon.

The truth of the matter is this — life is tough. Don’t make it harder on yourself or others when you can be a cushion of generosity. Love when it stings a little, give when it costs ya and spread generosity around like you’re a millionaire!

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Now go on, be generous! Give it all away!

What’s Important?

May 3rd, 2017

let it be love

The older I get the more I come face to face with who I am and what my purpose has been while living on this earth. I’ve been here 50 something years which means I’ve had plenty of time to get some important things accomplished. However, every day it seems as though I’m bombarded by voices telling me that I’ve fallen short and that I’ve wrecked some of the most important assignments God has given me.

As a follower of Christ, I really really really want to be faithful to what God has for me. I don’t want to waste time (yet, I have wasted so much selfishly) nor do I want to be superficial to anyone needing to see Christ in me. For years, I’ve thought foolishly that by being real to people (my friends & family) I was portraying a truthful look at what walking the Christian faith means. Fall down, get back up. Live forgiven. Do better.

I don’t know what God is doing in my life these days. My life feels like it’s on a perpetual high-speed wooden roller-coaster and I cannot get off when it screeches into the station for more passengers. Just more crazy thrill-seeking people hop on and I’m still strapped in for ONE MORE WILD SCREAMING RIDE! Like I can handle it.

I’m not really handling it well. I go up with my emotions and then crash down like a violent wreck that no one walks away from. Maybe that sounds a bit dramatic (remember, it’s my life not yours – don’t judge). In spite of the very real and frustrating reality of my husband’s unemployment for the last 8+ months (September 9th 2016, not that I’m counting!!!) I’ve got bigger issues that are nagging me and pulling me towards sadness.

I’m at a real turning point in my life. It’s a “here on out” kind of time and what I do from now on is just as important as what I was doing when I was tucking kids in at night and making chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Only this time, I have a lot more freedom. No one is relying on me for guidance or protection or personal care. Matter of fact, they don’t even want me to offer a suggestion or opinion.

After a lifetime of parenting….they reach a point of NOT EVER LISTENING TO YOU AGAIN. That’s cool. I get it.

I’m faced with the question, what’s important?

Not all the things that I placed value on truly mattered. Some did, but not all. I mean, who cares about tons of home-cooked meals? Or spiffy, yummy smelling clean clothes? Those are just perks. Not true necessities. Kids who ate drive-thru meals and repeat wore so-so clothing are fine people and function perfectly well in society. Right?

I had a thought bubble pop up last night while I was loading the dishwasher – I wasn’t always very nice to my kids. As soon as the thought hit me, I felt a stab of regret. I was mean. Not all the time but enough that it hurts me to reflect on it. Maybe all moms are jerks at some point or another. I honestly don’t know how anyone purposefully hurts their kids (I did not do that…. but there were times I wasn’t as loving or kind as my kids probably needed me to be). I’m sorry for it.

Still, what’s important from me as a mom? To be nice? To be fair? To make homemade mac-n-cheese? To show love? To give of my time and energy? To let them make their own choices? To pick who they want to be or where they want to go? To butt out? To zip my lip and not point out weaknesses or celebrate strengths?

I’m here to tell you, all of that is important. Afterall, I am standing on the other side now and looking back….I can see clearly what worked and what didn’t. Instead of relishing all the things I did wrong – I think it’s important to focus on what I did right. I can’t help what anyone else does with their life (even my own kids) but I can tell you that if you don’t try your best to make an impact on the people in your life — God will hold both you and me accountable for it.

I chose to parent my kids under the headship of Jesus Christ and I would do it again. If my kids have children, I will continue to teach the love and forgiveness of Jesus to my grandchildren. It’s in me and it will always be until the day I die. I’m a Christian (a sinner saved by grace) and I will not waste my time or His while I’m here on earth being silent about my faith. If I’ve learned anything in 50 years it’s that life is fleeting and there are no guarantees of a tomorrow. Being nice and not offending someone with the gospel of Jesus Christ is dangerous. While I don’t want to live with earthly regret…. knowing I’ve shied away from sharing Christ with someone who dies and goes to hell is a consequence beyond regret.

It’s important to do the good work of Jesus as a parent, friend & stranger. This world doesn’t just need “nice” people it needs the faithful who care about the eternal destination of those around them.

What’s important to you?

stand firm

Do This….or Something Better

April 12th, 2017

needs

There are prayers for help and then there are beat down heaven’s doors begging for mercy kind of help prayers. I’ve done both. Over the last season of my life, I’ve mulled over my circumstance (much like anyone would do in my position) and I’ve sought God’s direction for what’s felt like impending doom once another month comes and goes…..and my husband is still unemployed.

How long, Lord? How long can this go on?

It’s only human to ask and I know God isn’t the least bit surprised at my human nature pondering. I’m terribly adept at questioning every little thing, just ask my family. I’m a questioner. I question. I analyze and roll every detail of the answer around just in case there’s a scenario that could switch things up to equal something else. I cover every base.

You’re welcome, world.

Still, here I sit in pretty much the same boat I was in back in September. Only this time I’m closer to a wedding of one of my daughters’, at the end of my school year and any subbing days I might get and filled with a whole lot more cynicism than a person should possess. What next?

Bad bad bad. Never ask that. More trouble coming your way, fool.

This Sunday is Easter and the sermon last week was so good that I left church with a brand new perspective on the damage done to my heart over the course of this last year. Betrayal. No one knew betrayal the way Jesus did. His experience with it opened my whiny complaining heart to understanding that I CAN GET OVER what’s been done to me. I can forgive and I can move on. I can trust that it’s all part of the journey to where God wants me to be eventually.

God never leaves us where we are, He’s always pushing us forward.

So, back to all the praying and begging God to work a miracle in my life. All these months, He’s listened to me. I’ve blown my horn loud and obnoxiously for Him to hear every little detail of what I need and when I need it by. He is so gracious.

I’ve not gone hungry…but, I’ve worried about how to pay for groceries.
I’ve not gone without a home or electricity…but, I’ve played magic tricks with my funds to pay both.
I’ve not had to sell my belongings…but, I’ve learned to be content with everything I own when I’d really like to purchase something special.
I’ve kept my dignity…but, the devil has shown up almost daily to remind me just how pathetic it is to be jobless and living with the fear of it never ending.

Oh, how gracious my God still is.

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In all that, He still listens to me. He above all knows my every need and He is at work. My weak faith or belief that He’s going to do something bigger and better is tainted by my lack of understanding just how big God really is in the great scheme of things.

HE IS SO BIG, Y’ALL!

I do not have the mental capacity to understand all that God is and will be…but I know that all I have to do is ask and He will go exceedingly above and beyond whatever it is to answer me.

My new prayer?

Lord,

Do this…..or something better.

Amen

Good People are Sinners

March 8th, 2017

broken heart

I need help. I have a condition that cripples me from living the fullness of my life as God promises. It’s called human being thinking. Also known as worldly thinking.

What is human or worldly thinking? Well, in a nutshell…it’s believing that I’m the only person I need to worry about pleasing or satisfying. It’s thinking that I owe no one or thing any allegiance but my self.

The truth is, I’m not qualified to be my own God and Judge.

    My heart is wonky.

It’s dirty, full of sin and ready & willing to turn to whatever feels good instead of running hard & fast after what is Holy. One of the biggest lies we tell ourselves is that one about being a GOOD person.

I’m a good person … therefore, don’t judge my decisions or choices. They’re mine, butt out!

The problem with that is that a lot of good people end up in hell. Being “good” isn’t what offers you and me a place in eternity with God.

be holy

While I believe there are good people in the world, I know without a shadow of a doubt that not one of them is perfect or spotless in the eyes of God. It just isn’t possible. Only Jesus Christ has the ability to be that. We are liars, thieves, cheats and more. We trick ourselves by justifying the sin in our lives and that’s where we get the uncanny ability to overlook faults or weaknesses that make us everything we never want to be (or to be called), wrong.

Look, sin is a human condition. Not one person gets to walk through this world without falling into its hole. We are all sinners. You, me, your grandma, your pastor, your best friends’ Sunday school teacher….. every. single. person. sins.

The problem we have isn’t just admitting it. It’s admitting it and believing we need a Holy God to forgive us. To repent and or change.

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Which brings me back to thinking like a human being. There are times when my head wants to gloss over what I know is wrong in my life. I can make whatever is ugly look and feel really lovely if I work at it long enough. Except, the Holy Spirit never lets me enjoy it truly because it’s genuinely gross and disgusting. It doesn’t belong where I’m trying to force it to be.

During this season of Lent, I decided (secretly, between God & Me) to give up something that was literally owning me. It’s not something that others would find bad or unhealthy…but it’s something that I know God doesn’t want for me. When I decided to remove it from my life, I was driving down the road in my car when a simple thought came to my mind that said, “Let it go!”.

Now, that seems simple. But, it had a great hold on my every day life. I liked it. I planned my day around it. It was ruling me. Once I decided to get rid of it, it left. I haven’t longed for it, I haven’t wished for it, I haven’t even tried to figure out a way around getting back to it.

It’s not something I want in my life anymore.

That’s exactly what God desires for us in every aspect of our lives. He wants us to CHOOSE HOLY over worldly. His plan for us never involves sin. We do that to ourselves. We lock ourselves into sin habits or sin thinking. Then, our hearts twist up the truth with the lies we tell our brains and the result is a lifestyle that doesn’t match up with God’s plan for us. But, then….there’s grace.

If there ever were a poster child for GRACE, there you’ll see me.

See, there’s nothing so bad….not one sin that God isn’t ready and willing to forgive us for and to help us overcome in our lives. He is in the forgiveness business. He sent His Son because HE KNEW we would need that kind of sacrificial love and mercy.

Listen, if you’re believing the lies you tell yourself that you don’t need God or His ways….you’re wrong. You do, I do … we all do. He knows that. He’s ready and willing to turn you around. Don’t buy into what the world is selling. It’s cheap and it’s costly all at the same time.

You’re worth more than that.

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