Archive for May, 2011

May 25, 2011

How it feels to be Held…

As usual I’ve been doing a lot of pondering, thinking, praying and such since Jim’s back surgery and Camryn’s visit to the ER yesterday.


Life is fragile.

Every breath is a gift.


The fragility and preciousness of life reminds me of a Natalie Grant song called Held.  I can’t listen to this song unless I’m sequestered in a room with a box of tissues.

This is how it feels to be held…

How it feels when the sacred is torn and you survive…(Natalie Grant)



When the King of Kings and architect of the universe was born into the very world He held together, through a young Jewish virgin named Mary,


He was held…


Though it defies human reason, The Living God, known by such majestic names and titles as: Wonderful Counselor, The Word Become Flesh, Healer of the Nations, Emmanuel (God with us), the Prince of Peace, and so many others; endured the trauma of childbirth. And like all of us, made the grueling journey from the comfort and safety of the womb, to the shelter of His mother’s loving arms.



“While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son.  She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” (Luke 2:6-7 NIV)



She held Him.



And He held the very hill He was executed upon in His hands…


Thirty-three years later the Father would once again have the Sacred torn on that Roman cross.  Was it the Father’s plan for His precious Son to die? To have the Sacred torn as a ransom for all mankind? To watch and weep from Heaven as His heart was torn?

And the Father watched…


As sinful hands held His Son…



Is it part of the Father’s plan to take the sacred from our lives just as the Sacred was torn from His life? I don’t think we will ever grasp “why” here on this earth. But thankfully, God has revealed Himself through the pages of His Word so that we can know Him rather than the answers to all our pressing pleas.   He is the answer to the why. We can trust Him with the loss we suffer, the tearing of the sacred, because He feels what we feel. He gets it. He knows what it feels like…


To be held.


When I held my firstborn daughter, Erin for the first time, I wept.  I could not comprehend how this child, so soft and beautiful came from me.  I lovingly explored every inch of her fresh little newborn body—just to make sure everything was okay—two hands, ten fingers, and ten toes.  As a mother, you know what I mean.  Our greatest fear as a parent is that something might be wrong with our child—something that we cannot fix; a hurt we cannot mend, a tear we cannot wipe away, a question we cannot answer.  I wonder if Mary felt that way? The Bible doesn’t reveal Mary’s emotions or thoughts when Jesus was born.  However, if we can be so bold—she was human.  She was a real person, just like you and me.  So I think it’s safe to speculate what Mary might have been thinking or feeling during those first few moments of her precious Son’s life.


Is He okay? Ten fingers, ten toes—will He be healthy?  Will He be a handful or a compliant youngster?


What did Jesus’ cry sound like? Just as we can recognize our own infant’s cry in the midst of hundreds of other cries, Mary knew the cry of her Son, the Savior.  How can we possibly comprehend that?  Try to imagine it with me for a moment…

What did it feel like to hold the Lamb of God?  To wipe His tears?


I’m sure the questions were endless.  Much like the many questions we as parents face in these uncertain times, Mary and Joseph must have pondered similar apprehensions—maybe less sophisticated, but just as frightening. But Mary “…treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19 NIV)


I think it’s fair to say that Mary treasured up all these things and held them in her heart—just as God holds us in so many ways…


God the Father sent His One and Only Son into the world as a baby…


…And He was held.


Held


By corruptible, sinful hands but held none the less.


Held


Jesus knew what it felt like to be held by His mother.


We too know what it’s like to be held.


We’re often comforted by hands that God has purposely placed in our lives to hold us.  During times of great need many hands often surround us not only in a physical sense but in a spiritual sense as well


And we are held…


…through prayer.


When my “sacred” one and only son, Hunter, was torn from my life…


I survived because…


I was held.


Held…


By the grace and love of God.


Held…


By the promise of an eternal life to come.


Held…


By the wounds of Christ that set me free.


Held…


To be held by the Father is to survive, and even more it is to triumph when the sacred is torn from your life.


The “sacred” is different things to different people.


But torn is torn and tears are tears in any language, circumstance, or relationship.


The loss of a marriage to divorce or death


The sacred bond between two people—forever broken.


The heart-wrenching death of a child.


The loss of a parent.


…All treasured and all sacred.


No matter the heartbreak; the emotional and spiritual damage are very real and at times debilitating.


It is in these fragile, gathered moments that make up life’s stormy seasons that…


You

are

held…


Held

in the very hands that fashioned you…


He knows your pain.


And He knows how it feels…


…to be held.




Whatever it is that you’re going through right now…I hope this reminds you that the One who loves you more than you can imagine is holding you.

May 18, 2011

Marriage…What I didn’t know when I got married.

The smell of fresh cut roses filled the air. You could hear a pin drop in the sanctuary.  As Jim professed his love and commitment, tears cascaded down my cheeks.  It was our wedding day!  And it was perfect.

Perfect.

Today marks fifteen years that Jim and I have been married and completely imperfect.  To think that we have come this far…together…is mind boggling, to say the least.  I wrote the following for this website over a year ago and it still sums up how I feel today:

Marriage is hard.

And I’m not very good at it.

That’s why I need Jesus.

Being married reveals my inadequacies and weaknesses.

It exposes my heart and reveals the depth of my need.

It’s risky.

And shakes me out of my comfort zone when I least expect it.

Through my husband, I see my need for a Savior in the most profound ways.

I see my selfishness and arrogance.

I’m more aware of my desperate need for prayer.

I can’t be the wife my husband needs, the wife my children need to see modeled in our home…I can’t be her…without

HIM.

In fact, I believe it’s impossible for marriage to work apart from the One who holds all things…and works all things together for good.

I used to wonder if I married the right person.

But now I know.

I believe God brought my husband and me together for such a time as this to become a living example that He can and will do the impossible.

I love my husband.

The love that God has poured into our hearts for each other is what sustains us when the road we’re traveling down becomes treacherous.

It’s a love that is patient and kind…that keeps no record of wrongs.

It’s a love that hopes, endures and never fails.


So what I’ve learned thus far is this…

It’s not about me…

Without a doubt I came into this relationship naïve and selfish.  For years I carried around hopes, dreams and expectations like a monkey on my back …a burden that my husband was never meant to fulfill in any way, shape or form.  It took me a long time (too long) to recognize that everything…including my marriage is about Jesus.  He is the hope giver, dream creator and expectation fulfiller. He’s it.  Everything.  When it’s all about Him…marriage takes on a whole new meaning.

May 16, 2011

Attention All Caregivers…Moms…Dads…Grandmas…YOU…

Taking care of my precious son, Hunter, during his brief eight and a half years provided some of the most memorable, joy-filled moments as well as the scariest challenges of my entire life.  Now, as I care for my husband, Jim, as he regains strength and recovers from back surgery, I’m reminded of the days with our son.

I’m reminded of the many sleepless nights…
…the tears when no one was looking
…the sacrificing of comfort in order to comfort someone else
…living beyond yourself…depending on God in an even deeper, desperate way
…being thankful for the gift of health…breath…life
…joy in the midst of suffering
…patience beyond human ability
…hope greater than our circumstances
…anticipation of life beyond this one
…discovering God’s beauty in the most unlikely places

And

I remember well the fear…
…hearts broken open
…anguish beyond words
…desperation in prayer
…confusion and frustration
…doubt and unbelief.

I’ve learned more while taking care of my two boys (yes, Jim is still a “boy”) than I would’ve learned in any other life circumstance.
I’m thankful…humbled…hopeful…and even more desperate for God today than I was yesterday.

Will you share what it’s like for you?
If you’re spending yourself for the care of another, would you be willing to tell me about your experience thus far?

What is your greatest joy?

What is your greatest fear?

What frustrates you the most?

What’s your greatest challenge?

What have you learned?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.  For just as the sufferings of Christ flow into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.”  
2 Corinthians 1:3-5

May 4, 2011

Happy 16th Birthday Erin Marie


16 Things I Think Jesus Would Want You to Know:

1.    You are loved:  Unconditionally, fully, more than you know, always…no matter what.  Nothing can separate you from His love for you.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels or demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:37-39

2.    Because you are loved Jesus wants to be your first love…No other love will satisfy your heart – so seek to love Him more everyday.

“Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”  Deuteronomy 6:5

3.    Every time you look in the mirror, remember…You were created for a purpose:  Jesus has a plan and purpose for your life that is unique to you.  No one can be you.  Therefore, no one can fulfill the purpose for which God has created you.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”  Romans 8:28

“Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the LORD’S purpose that prevails.”  Psalm19:21

4.    He is Sovereign:  Jesus has orchestrated all the details of your life.  Though you may not understand His ways – He is perfect and His good plans for you will prevail.  He already knows what your future holds so don’t worry about it…just follow Him and He will lead you right into all that He has for you.

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth.  From birth I have relied on You; You brought me forth from my mother’s womb.  I will ever praise You.”  Psalm 71:5-6

5.    You are never alone…He is always with you – always.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

6.    You are limited but He is limitless – You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:15-17

7.    You are beautiful…With a heart for Jesus your outer beauty radiates even more fully.  Man looks at the outward appearance but the LORD looks at the heart.

“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

8.    Put your expectations in Jesus alone – People will let you down but He won’t.  When you put your hope and faith in Him, you can expect Him to fulfill His plan – and you will not be disappointed.

“…And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us.”  Romans 5:5

9.    You are forgiven…For all you have done – past, present, future – you are forgiven.  You don’t have to try to be good enough…or earn your way to God.  Jesus loves you and He has already forgiven you for all that separated you from Him.  So don’t carry around unforgiveness…forgive everyone, every time just as Jesus has forgiven you.

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:7-8

“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”  Colossians 3:13

10. Cry, laugh, scream…Come to Him with everything – If you’re mad – tell Him. If you’re confused come to Him. If you’re thankful, joyful; share it with Him.  Jesus loves spending time with you.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Psalm 139:23-24

11. Walk by faith – Not by sight…Things will happen in your life that you will not understand.  Jesus wants you to trust that His plan is good even when it appears otherwise.  He is trustworthy and faithful.

“Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

12. Drink a lot of water…yes the good water you have come to love but even better than that is the Living Water…Jesus – the Word.  There are treasures in the Bible waiting to be discovered – dive in and drink deep.

“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”  John 7:37-38

13. Every day is one day closer to seeing Him face to face.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

14. God has already picked a husband for you…So you don’t have to worry or think about it at all, (but pray, of course).  Remember when a girl is hidden in Christ – the boy must seek Him in order to find her.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:6-7

15. You are not allowed to text and drive – Do not follow the driving example your parents have been for you.  You should not put mascara on while driving like your mother does.  And you should not listen to classic rock music while driving like your father does. (LOL)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

16. LOVE Jesus – and Love life…You have one life to live for Him…enjoy this moment…enjoy being 16 fantastic years old.  Enjoy each and every breath.

“In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.” Job 12:10


I LOVE YOU…



May 3, 2011

He’s dead…

(This was meant to be posted yesterday but because of computer issues I was unable to post until today)


He’s dead!

The headlines read:

Osama Bin Laden is dead, President Obama announced Sunday night, in a televised address to the nation. His death was the result of a U.S. operation launched today in Abbottabad, Pakistan, against a compound where bin Laden was believed to be hiding, according to U.S. intelligence. After a firefight, a small team of American forces killed Bin Laden and took possession of his body, the president said.” (Huffington Post/AOL.com)

“The news of Osama bin Laden’s death prompted some of the biggest, starkest headlines in the world’s newspapers in recent memory. While papers in Europe and the East went to press too late to get the late-breaking story on their front pages, newspapers across North and South America ripped up their front pages at a moment’s notice and splashed huge stories.” (Huffington Post/Aol.com)

If you live on this planet and have either television, radio or Internet access—you’ve heard.  This morning while driving my two daughters to school is when I found out.  The first words that came out of my mouth were “Thank God.”


After I dropped the girls off, I immediately put XM news on and checked my Twitter feed so I could get the full scoop.  Switching back and forth from CNN to Fox News I listened.  I heard a father proclaim vindication over the loss of his son killed on September 11th, 2001. I listened, cried and even sang along as soldiers from West Point sang the National Anthem. Story after story filled the airwaves.


We’re all listening and watching, and we’ll never forget this day. Just like we’ll never forget September 11, 2001.


The horror, hatred and evil.


The devastation.


The tears, sorrow and grief.


Terrorism.


Vengeance.


So much wrapped up into one day…


And today…


Has dawned another day we will not forget.


I don’t actually sit and ponder over all of this until I have my journal and Bible in hand.  And this is what I write:


“Osama Bin Laden dead.  The terrorist of our time is dead.  Lord, the breath of all mankind is in Your hands… You took his breath away.  How do You feel about this?  How am I supposed to feel about this?  Did I ever pray for this man? Or did I just hate him like most everyone else in this world.  I’m perplexed by how I feel right now. My heart aches all over again for the families who lost loved ones on September 11, and for those who have given their lives for freedom’s sake. And so, I’m thankful and the first words out of my mouth when I heard were “Thank God.” I thanked You for the death of this man.  And now I’m thinking about all of this, knowing that I can’t make sense of it all, but I’m praying and pondering. What I know of Hell from Your Word—a forever separated from You, is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy. Yet, those who choose to reject Your Son, Jesus, choose Hell—they choose an eternity separated from You. And so this man is gone from this world and yet the root of all evil and its master, Satan are still at work.  Because we war not against flesh and blood, against the Osama Bin Laden’s of this world. Instead, our struggle is against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12). Peace only comes through the Prince of Peace.  Your Word proclaims that You love justice. (Psalm 33:5)  You will judge the world in righteousness; You will govern the peoples with justice. (Psalm 9:8)  Nothing can thwart Your plans over all the earth and in our very lives.  Lord, help us to gain a heart of wisdom in all of this as Your people.  Help us to know You in a deeper way as a result of this news—this death.  Teach us how to number our days, to be the city on a hill that shines the light of Your glory in the midst of darkness…”

In addition, I couldn’t help but feel the intensity of the comments of former president, George W. Bush, on who’s watch this all escalated. His words were among the more thought provoking responses I read as he remarked, “The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done.”[1]


The reason that moved me so deeply is that it’s true, but not merely in the manner Mr. Bush expressed. We will all appear before the throne of the Lord Jesus one day, either as our Savior or our Judge. Justice was meted out for all at the cross where our crimes against the Most High God were paid for in full. And for those who scorn this priceless gift, they will instead appear before the highest court in history to have their lives spread out in judgment—from their thoughts, to their motives, to their secrets, and the deeds they led to. Can we even fathom or comprehend God’s sorrow over a man (or woman) who could have been forgiven, saved and sanctified…yet chose not to be.

Finally, in what I felt was a staggering example of mercy triumphing over judgment, (James 2:13), the United States of America took the body of this bloodthirsty, gutless wonder, placed it on the USS Carl Vinson, and actually showed this murderous terrorist the respect of following traditional Islamic procedures in putting him to rest. His remains were reportedly washed and placed in a white sheet then placed into the North Arabian Sea. We didn’t have to show that kind of respect to a man who showed us none.


Wow!  I wasn’t going to take the time to write up a journal/blog about all this—but I couldn’t help it. In fact, when I was posting this I initially used bin Laden’s picture but got such an eerie feeling that I couldn’t follow through, I had to change the picture.  Weird. I’m curious to know what you’re all thinking.  So please do share.





[1] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110502/ap_on_re_us/us_bin_laden_bush_reaction_3