Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Goodbye for now...


 

I have to say goodbye this week to my Granny.  It’s a very hard thing to do.  The words will not come, but the tears and emotions flow easily.  The memories of our times spent together are overflowing my senses.  Sometimes they comfort me and other times, I just curl up into a ball and let them all out on my pillow.  But whatever the emotion, I know in my heart that Granny is happy now.  She is with Jesus and Grandpa.

 

Some of my favorite memories

My Granny was a very proud Southern Lady.  She used to get after us as little girls for not wearing stockings to church because young ladies shouldn’t have bare legs.   

 

She always dressed for the occasion, complete with earrings and lipstick.  When I was younger, it was a bright pink lipstick that left a smudge on my cheek that I would quickly wipe away.  Now I would love to have that pink stain my cheek.

 

She made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, but you couldn’t pin down her recipe, because it was always a pinch of this and a little of that.  She hasn’t made them in a while, but my mouth waters just thinking about them. 

 

When I was fairly young, she kept a candy dish on the TV in the living room, generally with the Brach’s flavored candies.  I would sneak one or two when I came in to use the rest room, which was often, because she had the best sweet tea, that we drank from Dixie cups!

 
Her character 

She will be missed but I am so glad that her sadness has ended.  I am blessed that she had a relationship with God and passed it down to her children and grandchildren so that I could grow up in a Christian home.  This is definitely the most precious gift she has ever given to me.  I can remember sitting in church on Sunday’s either directly in front of or right behind her and trying to act my very best.  Granny always thought that my sister and I were so polite and nice.  I didn’t want to disappoint her, even if I thought (knew) otherwise.

 

I think she has passed down some other things to me too.  Like her temperament; she was fairly reserved until she was mad, then you didn’t know what she was going to say.  She was stubborn but hated making decisions.   At the same time, she was kind and very polite, a sweet contradiction to her stubbornness and irritation.   But most of all, she loved children and they loved her.  And I can honestly say those same things about myself.

 

Some truths

Something that I cannot say about her, but I do know about myself, is that I am a crier.  I wear my heart on my sleeve and to see someone upset or distressed about losing a loved one will bring me quicker to tears than sneezing at pepper!  I cannot help it.  I know the Lord promised to be with us always, even unto death, but I will cry every time.  I know that we will be reunited in Heaven where He is preparing room for us, but right now, my Dad’s heart hurts, and I cannot stand it.  This is the first opportunity he has had to breathe in a while, and it’s painful without her.  Even though Granny is resting now, it’s also my Dad’s turn to rest and trust in the Lord that His will is being done.  It is Granny’s time to be with the Lord, no matter how much we are not ready to let her go.   We know these truths.  And yet, I cry.  Big sloppy, snotty crocodile tears.  And while it may not be lady like, it’s what I do.

 

Because of my relationship with the Lord, I know that death is only temporary, and someday, I will be reunited with Granny in heaven.   Until then, I will continue to praise the Lord for the gifts in my life, including my loved ones past and present, who journey with me along the way.  I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide and uphold us this week, so that we will continue to seek His truths and to rest and trust in Him.  He is our light and our salvation forever and ever.  Amen

 

 

 

 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

To my Beautiful Pre-Teen Daughter




I see you.  And when I look at you, I see myself.  I see the same emotions clouding your thoughts.  I see the same reactions to life.  I see the same desires to do more, better, higher, faster.  I see kindness, love, faith, grace and Jesus' love.

 I see you.  I see you for who you are and who you want to be.  I see you grasping and reaching; gaining strength and knowledge, expanding your love for the Lord.  I see you maturing before my very eyes.  But young lady, don't be in too big of a hurry to grow up because time won't stop when you want it to.

 I see you.  Growing before my eyes.  I see the beautiful woman you will be, inside and out.  I see the lovely young lady you already are.  I see you and I love you.

 My dearest daughter, I see you.  I see all that lies before you.  The traps, the lies, the hurt.  The beauty, the truth, the joy.  It’s there.  All of it.  And I want you to experience all of it because it will define you and mold you and make you into the  person that God intends you to be.  The mother in me wants to keep all the bad and ugly away, but I know it will find you anyway.  And I know you can rise to the occasion and find your strength through God and fight through it with Him.

It’s ok to cry, to be upset, to be angry.  It’s equally ok to laugh, to feel joy and be happy.  Don’t allow others to give you permission to feel one way or another.  Think for yourself and express your opinions.  But that does not give you permission to be rude and bossy!  Good manners are always in style.

You are a fighter.  I can see that already in our power struggles.  You want to be right.  You need it.  You have a plan and everything needs to come together.  Perfection is divine.  But lovely daughter, there is only One who is perfect and though you were made in His likeness, it is not you.  Plan for excellence but expect less than perfect.  Don’t let the fallout define you.  Deal with the emotions, don’t suppress them.  Don’t let them rule you.  I speak from experience here.  Not just as your mother.

In our struggles of mother and daughter, always remember that I am the mom.  God has grown me into who I am just so that I can BE your mother.  He’s not done with either of us yet.  There will be ups and downs along the way, but sweet daughter, I pray more ups than downs.  I also pray that He will give me clarity, patience and knowledge of how best to nurture you as one of His children and one of mine.


Lord,
Please continue to bless this sweet daughter of mine with your eternal presence.  Fill her with knowledge, patience and peace in this ever changing world.  Grow us together in love and continue to blossom our relationship.  Open our eyes and our hearts and show us your way, your plan and your love and help us to accept it if it is not our own.  And Lord, please limit those power struggles between us, instead, help us to find words to communicate and express our concerns with each other and the world.  In your name I pray.  Amen
 


 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Alone


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Because


Dared to do something big in faith, Jesus has called me to share this.

 

As a child, and even now as an adult, the worst answer I ever received to a question is “because”.  “Because” is not an answer.  It’s just something that is said when we don’t want to answer or don’t know the answer.  One could even say it to initiate an argument.   There is no logic behind this non-answer and it usually makes no sense.  It’s just something that is said when we don’t really know what to say.

Does it ever feel like your prayers are answered with this response?  Especially, when they are not answered and you know it’s something that God is so very capable of doing.  So, why does He hold back?  Why doesn’t He give us answers?  What have we done to deserve this lack of response?

I internalize everything, so naturally, a lack of response to me says, I’ve done it wrong and I need to try harder, pray harder, do something different because what I am doing, is not enough or even worse, it’s wrong.   I need to say it a different way.  I need to read the Bible more.  I need to go to church more.  You get the point.

Since I am not one to settle for “because”, I search for the answer.  Unfortunately, I look in the wrong places.  The answer is not anything I can give; it is only something that God can give.  The answer is not in me, it’s in God.    I am a shell without Him and I can do nothing on my own, so why do I think I can figure something out that only God knows?  Well, I guess I gave the answer in the question itself.  Only God knows why I think this way too!

Satan rather enjoys his time spent with me.  He flirts with my self esteem and tells me I am not good enough.  He manipulates my words so that they come out twisted and illogical and I have a hard time explaining.  He detunes my ears so that other’s words sounds more harsh than they are.  He zaps all of my energy so there is none to spare for family, or prayers or even God.

But even as much fun as Satan gets to have, he doesn’t get me.  I am not going to give up on God because He didn’t give up on me, and I have given him many reasons to do just that.  At my baptism, He promised to be with me always and God doesn’t break promises.  He is faithful and that gives me hope.

Sometimes prayers just aren’t answered in the way we want them answered.  There’s a bigger picture that we are not privy to just yet and until it’s all unfolded, we have to pray for patience and endurance to weather the storm.  We have to trust God and allow His will to be sufficient for us, even and including when His will is in direct conflict with our own.   And that my friends, is so very hard.

I have heard, that the ones who give the most encouragement, do so, because they too need encouraging. ..

So it seems I am here again, steeped in depression; surrounded by a darkness that chills my soul; unable to put into words the depths of sadness that tears at my heart.   I have struggled for quite a while with depression and I tell my friends and family that I am ok because I don’t want them to worry and I feel I have spared them by doing this.  But I don’t really think I am fooling anyone.  I pray relentlessly to get out of this pit that has darkened my spirit and yet relief is just out of my reach.  My soul aches for relief.  I know it can be given, but why am I not spared?  Are my sins any worse than others?  Why do some get relief and others do not?  What have I done?   Why am I being punished?  Why must I continue to suffer?

 And the timing of it all is so annoying.  This should be a time of celebration of the birth of our Savior, and I can do nothing but feel sadness.  I cannot get over myself and I feel selfish, agitated and angry.

But there is hope and there is grace and I can bathe in these things until relief is found.  Grace covers those bad feelings and questions that I throw at God accusing Him of not loving me enough.  He does love me enough.  He loves more than I could ever qualify.  He gave His son’s life for mine!  How could I ever question that?  And, I always have hope for relief of this burden because it will not always be this way.  One day, there will be no sadness or pain and I will not even remember these feelings.

 Until then, I will continue to pray.  Lord, please break up this darkness so that I may see the light again.  Pour out you love on me so that I may feel your grace.  Fill me with the Holy Spirit and guide me toward the truth.  Place those in my life that will encourage and counsel me back to You and Your light.  Help me to accept your will Lord.  Fill me with peace.

 

No situation is more hopeless than your Savior is graceful.  Ann Voskamp

 

Psalm 130

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
    Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
    to my cry for mercy.

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
    Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
    so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord

    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
    for with the Lord is unfailing love
    and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel

    from all their sins.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Do not be silent, pray



Rest in Him when you are weak and weary
Call to Him when you need grace.
Find Him in the day so dreary
You are barely able to keep the pace.

He is there, listening and waiting
Ears wide open, His heart is full.
His arms extended, anticipating
The hearts desires that push and pull

Tell Him your heart song and your worry
Then leave it with Him, He has a plan.
No need to fret or panic in fury
Just rest, receive and listen, little lamb.

Your shepherd is near and hears your pleas
Do not be silent, and do not give in. 
Whether you sit or stand or fall to your knees
Allow His forgiveness to overpower sin.


  
 photo courtesy of http://www.brightok.net



You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry.  Psalm 10:17


I have many friends struggling with something today.  My heart aches for them and I pray they find peace soon, but until then, I pray with them and for them sending them warm thoughts and hugs.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Oak Tree


 I can see and feel it coming.  The trees are void of their brightly colored fruit and the grass is littered with pieces and fragments of what once lived generously in the trees.  The daylight hours are quickly decreasing and a raw chill fills the air.  The animals are no longer frolicking and singing in the wilderness.  Instead, they are hurriedly foraging and storing up food for the coming winter.  Men dressed like their surroundings take to the woods and lurk for unsuspecting deer. 

The large oak tree that sits alongside the road is currently barren of green life.  Its branches still reach high into the sky yet somewhat lopsided due to the nearby power lines.  Many a small creature has taken refuge here in its neck and arms.  Its long standing is proven by the enormity of its trunk as I stand close and attempt to embrace it.  The bark is rough alongside my cheek and my arms are full yet not long enough for my outstretched fingers to interlock.

I am in awe of such a gift.  It has indeed weathered many storms and many seasons.  Seasons of drought and attrition; seasons of bitter cold and unbearable heat; insect attacks and suffocating exhaust fumes; but the old tree stands tall and proud.  Every wind storm seems to break a few of the weaker limbs, but the tree is still strong.  Every spring it sprouts new life and green leaves even more generous than the previous year, giving more color every fall to the view outside of my windows.

My own exterior is not as tolerant of such seasons of life, nor is my heart.  God has blessed me with strong emotions that tend to surface often.  I am easily wounded and tend to suffer in silence not willing to expose the rawness of the fresh tear on my soul.  Anxiety and fear drive me to pray frequently but my own stubbornness and pride will not allow me to share with others.  I want to spare others of my hurts and sins and not burden them.  I would rather help someone else with their burdens and pray for them. 

But God doesn’t want us to be alone.  He wants us to have a community to share with, which is why He created Eve for Adam.  And that means we need to share all things, not just the easy things, not just the surface topics.   So it is here, that I will share with you, my heart.   I genuinely want to help others and pray for them.  This is how God made me and I am grateful for this.  I also want to be able to be helped and to ask for help.  To know that it’s ok to open my heart to someone and believe that it won’t be betrayed.    This has not always been easy for me, but I have to start somewhere and why not here, in this place, where my heart is open, and I speak in truth?

Like the mighty oak tree outside my window, God is strong, patient, and providing.   He is the constant that I can go to with all things and He WANTS me to.  In this season of my life, I am praying for many things, but mostly for patience.  I know He has a plan for me, but I really want to know what it is and I am not very patient.   What are you praying for?
 
 
 
Lord,
May I be slow to anger and filled with love.  I need help with patience and I cannot do it on my own.  Please fill my heart with patience that I may wait for Your will to be done.  Please fill my heart with understanding that I know how my words and actions affect others.  Help me to follow the example you have set before me.  Amen

 

 

 

 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Being still


Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10

I used to think that stillness was the hardest part of this verse.  But now, I think that knowing who God really is, is more difficult than being still.  That may sound off, but bear with me and let me explain.

God is God.  Who else could be so full of love and compassion?  Who else could send his only child, only son, to a death so cruel in order to save the world?  And not just the world THEN, but the world to come!  A world that is so full of sin, wretchedness and filth.  A world of people not even born yet?!  Such a person does not exist, so it can only be God!

No one could ever love as much, forgive as much, surrender as much, have as much mercy, as God.  His love is so real, so powerful that He can lift a life from death.  Love so clean and pure that it bathed me in water that washed away my sin; my sin of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Love so amazing that it lifts my soul from the pits of Hell.  Love as rich as blood and flesh that continues to bring us to the cross and forgives what is unforgivable. It could only BE God. 

He is God of mercy and strength in our weakest, lowest hours.  Mercy that is so unlimited, it is divine.  It is real and it is love.  Mercy that empowers us to love Him in return.  Who else can continue to love someone, forgive someone, so completely and fully that each time we ask, we are forgiven and washed clean again in love and restored to that white as snow state, only left to my own devices to return to dirt and filth?

That’s why I need God.  Always, I need Him.  I cannot function on my own.  I have no strength or love or ability without Him.  I can do nothing without Him.  He gives me everything and I cannot BE without Him.  And yet, time and again, I push Him away.  Looking for the answer, looking for hope, looking for reasons - why something is as it is.  I think I know and I can solve it, look for it, fix it own my own and I cannot.  I simply CANNOT. 

He sends the Holy Spirit to me, even when I don’t ask and guides me to the answer.  The answer is God.  Give it to Him in thought and prayer.  Give Him the prayer, let him solve it.  Let Him deliver the answer.  Let Him be my strength, but let Him do the work.  Just be still and listen.  Listen to the One with the answer.

Why is it more difficult for me to give everything back to Him, when He gave me everything?  For me, it is because I feel unworthy to bask in this glory of God.  I have allowed Satan to fill my head with lies that I can do it on my own, that I am not enough for God, that God only serves those who serve Him best, that I don’t deserve this.  But when I read His word, I know those are untruths.  I know that God loves ME, that I am who He wants me to be, He has a plan for me and will do all things for my good.  God does not know how to be mean.  God is good and merciful and just and He WANTS me to come to Him in ALL things.

It’s easier to be still now, to sit in His glory and just talk to God about what’s on my mind and in my heart.  Because of my humanness, however, I have trouble being still for the answer.  But I can sit on my swing, in the sun, face tilted toward heaven and feel His warmth and compassion and give Him my heart.  Give Him my love.  Give it to God, the one who knows all.  Loves all.  Is all.  Now and forever.   Amen

 I invite you to do the same.  Be still, and know He is God.  
How do you spend time with God?  How does God continue to amaze you?  Please share your experiences with me in the comments below.