Wednesday, March 28, 2007

March 28

It’s amazing that even when our heart is breaking, when the pain seems to overtake our lives, that God shows Himself to us in unexpected ways. He gives us assurance that He is with us. He is with us through the heartache. He is with us through the years of sorrow. He gently reminds us that He will never left nor forsake us. He shows Himself to be worthy.

My grandma died on Monday. She had thrown me away. She walked away from our relationship but I never stopped loving her. I sent her Christmas cards every year up until two years ago. I kept hoping that God would reveal to her the truth about my parents but she decided that I wasn’t worthy of her love and put me out as trash.

Yet, I loved her. Wouldn’t life be easier if we could just stop loving? I have never understood how marriages fall apart because I have never known how to stop loving.

Last night, Tuesday, March 27 after revival service, Mark’s mom called to tell us that my grandma had died. Of course, no one in my family had contacted me. They have all walked away from me and never looked back.

I have cried until my eyes hurt. Why do I miss someone that has not acknowledged that I am even alive for the last 18 years? I would think that this wouldn’t have affected me. When Mark was getting off the phone with his mom, I heard him say, “Mom, I need to go. I need to tell her now.” We were driving in the car. We were coming home from revival services.

Mark hung up his phone and I said, “Tell me. Who died?”

His words were quiet almost a whisper, “Your grandma.”

I sat in silence. I willed my emotions and heart not to feel anything. I finally asked, “When?”

“Yesterday, honey. My mom read it in the paper today. The funeral is tomorrow morning at 10.”

This dark weight of feeling was beginning to come upon me. I thought that I could keep it in check. Surely, God was not going to allow me this pain.

And, then Mark spoke again, “I can’t believe that no one in your family contacted you. They couldn’t even tell you this.”

With that statement all of the air felt sucked out of my body. This was about so much more than my grandma’s death. This was my family. These were people that abandoned me, that threw me away. These were people that hurt me in a way that I had never dreamed possible. And, these people, my family, had not contacted me.

Not a surprise.
I went to my grandparents after my parents kidnapped Christi and Bobby begged for their help. I remember saying that they knew us and they knew that we had never hurt our children. And my grandmother said, “Well, at least Christi and Bobby won’t go to hell. They will not be raised by a Baptist.”

That was the card my parents used with them. I fully understand losing everything for your faith. Mark stood in that driveway, his arms hitting his hips. I wrapped my arms around him because I thought that he was going to beat himself to death. He looked like a man coming out of his skin.

“Baptist? Baptist? You will not help your granddaughter because she is a Baptist?”

My grandparents stood in the doorway and said nothing but closed the door. They closed the door and when they closed that door, I knew. I knew they had closed their hearts.

Mark lifted and carried me to the car. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t speak.

What words? How do you combat such hatred?

My husband backed the car out of the driveway. He was hitting the steering wheel. He was crying. He was angry.

Suddenly, it hit me. The sickness. I was throwing up. Mark pulled over and I stood on the side of the road and vomited. It was like poison coming out of my soul from the evilness of their words.

My faith was sending my children to hell. That’s what they believed. That’s what they said. To this day, I still cannot understand why they believed that.
And, last night I heard those words, “Your grandma is dead.”

I assumed that there would be no pain. She died to me so many years ago. But, somewhere I had held on to the belief that she would seek me. That she would tell me that she was sorry and that she loved me.

Last night, I prayed for God to assure me that my grandma was in heaven. I begged him to assure me that I would see her again and that I would wrap my arms around her and hold her.

Why do we love those we love? Why do their arrows pierce our hearts so deeply?

I couldn’t sleep and went to the living room and sat in semi-darkness. I had pulled out one of my Bibles hoping for God to speak to me. But, I couldn’t read the word. My eyes were unable to focus.

My beloved Paul, walked into the room and jumped. He wasn’t expecting to see anyone because it was midnight.

“Mom, why are you up?”

“I can’t sleep, Paul. I just found out, my grandma is dead. You never met her. But, I loved her. I always thought that someday I would take you to meet her and that she would love you.”

This fourteen year old boy sat down on the sofa. This overstuffed sofa seemed to swallow him up for a minute. The he adjusted the quilt he had wrapped around his body. I asked him to sit by me.

“Mom, I need a shower. I can hardly stand myself.”

I told him that I had cried so much that my nose was full and I couldn’t smell a thing. So, the child sat by me. I put my hand on his black shiny hair. I touch his smooth young check.

“Paul, I am hurting. See, I loved my grandma. I kept thinking one day that she would call me and tell me that she was sorry and that she loved me.”

“Well, she knows the truth now wherever she is.”

Shocked, “Paul, wherever she is? I am praying that she is in heaven. I want to see her again. I will never see her in this lifetime again – but Paul, I want to see her again.”

My son seemed to grow. “Mom, I don’t KNOW where she is but I can tell you this – SHE knows the truth. She knows what she did to you and she is sorry. Whether she is in heaven or hell – she knows the truth and believe me, she is sorry.”

He was missing my point of my desiring to see her, to love her, to hold her.

I went on, “Paul, I have been remembering when I was little and playing with her jewelry and sleeping in her bed. She taught me how to make that apple pie that you love. She taught me how to sew. She loved bright colors. I get my love of colors from her. And, I look like her. And, my mother looks like her. Every time I look in a mirror, I see two of the people that hurt me most in the world. I can’t get away from the pain. When Christi and Bobby were stolen, I thought about killing myself. But, then I thought of Michael. And, I knew that I somehow needed to be his mother. Michael sustained me. His presence kept me alive. But, you were my gift.”

My son shifted his position. “Man, mom. Just think what she almost caused you to do. You thought about killing yourself because of what your family did to you. Do you know what would have happened? Daddy would have gone nuts. Michael would have been raised by someone else. And, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be your son. Someone else would have adopted me. Mom, I am your son. This is exactly where I am supposed to be. Just think, even though I never met this woman, she is my grandmother, too.”

I interrupted, “Great-grandmother.”

“I know. I know. Let me finish. She is my grandmother, too. I can see her in you. If you see her when you look at yourself, then I have met a part of her. She is a part of you. It’s in the genes but she raised you, too.”

“Paul, I need to know that she’s in heaven. I need to know I will see her again and there will be no more tears. I need to know that I’ll see her at the Crystal Sea. And, that I’ll not remember the pain she caused me.”

He again said, “Mom, I don’t know where she is. But part of her is in you.”

Why can a child see evil so much clearer than an adult filled with sorrow, memories and pain?

Paul is correct. I have no assurance that my grandmother is in heaven. She could be in hell. The only way I can honor her memory to by trying to take the best things she taught me and live them in my life.

Last night, I wanted to hear from God. I wanted assurance. Yet, my eyes could not see the words through the tears. So, God sent my son, born out of due season, to speak to me. And this boy was able to present the truth that I needed to hear.

The fact is, I have no assurance where my grandma is. I can hope and I can pray but she made choices. Last night, as I was crying I told Mark that I needed to know that grandma was in heaven. He told me that she was. I reminded him that he had said, on many occasions, that my grandparents could not be Christians and do what they did to me.

He was, “Well, honey maybe I was mistaken. Christians can be wrong. Your grandma was just wrong.”

But I knew that Mark didn’t believe his words. He was trying to comfort me. If Mark had it in his power, he would place my grandmother in heaven for me. It took a little boy to try and tell me that it was pointless now to pray that she was in heaven. My grandma had made her choices many years ago.

His words have remained with me this morning. King David cried and prayed and fasted begging for his son’s life. And, the baby died. The servants were afraid to tell David but they did. And, David’s actions surprised the servants. He got up, washed his face, and ate. He said God had spoken.

God gave my grandma 90 years. He gave her 18 years to come to me. I kept every door open. Sometimes, people make bad choices. But, Paul is right. God has spoken.

This child stayed up with me until 3 AM. He talked and told me about his friends. He told me about all of the scientific theories he’s interested in. He told me that he was meant for our family and that God had arranged for him to be my son.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Past Morning Thoughts.....

I found this old post on my ChristianMoms board that I had posted several months ago. I decided to share it over on this board. I needed the reminder.


Morning Thoughts….

I noticed this morning when I looked out the kitchen window that a fog or mist was thick over our pond. Dreamlike in quality, the mist looked soft and inviting. It lingered there for a couple of hours and that fog got me to thinking. I am sure that most of you remember in this quote from Silas Marner describing what happened to Dunstan after he stole Marner’s money.

“The rain and darkness had got thicker, and he was glad of it; though it was awkward walking with both hands filled, so that it was as much as he could do to grasp his whip along with one of the bags. But when he had gone a yard or two he might take his time. So he stepped forward into the darkness.”

That quote came to me as I was looking out toward the pond. Unable to see the water, I wondered is this is how Christians get lost in their walk with God? Do we, at times, walk around in a fog, darkness, or mist? My thoughts were beginning to spin inside my brain. If I didn’t know there was a pond at the edge of my yard, I could easily step into the water. However, this pond doesn’t have an immediate drop off, so most likely I could quickly back up and get out of the water. I would be muddy, wet and messy but not lost. However, if the pond was deep, I could suffer a different fate entirely.

These reflections have remained with me this morning as I began to think on my walk with Christ. Often, I have prayed for God to show or light my next step. However, I wonder, have I taken the light with me or have my hands, mind and heart been too full of the vanishing possessions and imaginings of this world to carry the light. If Dunstan’s hands had not been occupied with those precious leather bags, he might have carried a light along with him and prevented his step into darkness. But, Dunstan was after worldly wealth that did not belong to him and his actions proved fatal.

Do we get so involved with going after the things of this world, that we are too occupied to take the light of Christ with us? While, we may not step forward into a perceived darkness, we do walk into a spiritual darkness and sadly do not recognize that we have left our first love because of the leather bags we are carrying. Satan loves to distract God’s children from the calling of God. He wants to get us so enamored by the world that we step into darkness. Dunstan, in his rush to get out of Silas’ home, closed the door which cut off the only light that could have guided his steps.

How often when facing a busy, hectic day, do we decide to cut our prayer time in half or not read the scripture that morning? Surely, God will understand that we are just too busy to seek His face and counsel? He loves us and will forgive us neglecting Him. And, it’s true that God loves us. We know this by his sacrifice. But, we seem to miss that God saved us for Himself. He wants our fellowship but we need His fellowship. Martin Luther once commented that when he had a busy day, his prayer time with God increased by an hour each morning. He was wise enough to know that when we are busy that our time with the Father needs to increase not decrease.

Practically, how do we keep our time with God a priority in our lives? The objective is to make our time with God a desire and not an obligation. If we will continue in prayer and study, even when our eyes do not see the results for which we are hoping, there will come a time when our solitude with the Father becomes a longing in our lives. We will begin to crave His fellowship and not just need His provision and direction.

I adore my children. They will come to me asking permission, asking advice, or asking for something they need or desire. Being a good mother, I try to respond to them. However, I love it when my children come and sit with me, just to visit and to talk about their day, their friends, or something they have newly discovered. Those times with my children bless me immensely.

The Father wants us to spend time with Him just like we want our children to spend time with us. And, when we fellowship with the Father, the resulting outcome is miraculous. We no longer have to stumble around in a mist of doubt and confusion. He will light each step that we take and order our days to His fulfill His perfect design.

Our tasks as women, mothers, and wives are too immense and important to go it alone or to stumble through it. The people that God has placed in our lives deserve to be guided and loved by women whose hearts and minds are fully fixed upon God. Dreams are fun. But, dreams without vision and purpose to accomplish the calling of God in ours lives and families are fruitless and vain. In order for us to direct our families through the fog and darkness that fills this earth, we must carry the Light that is daily charged and shining bright. We must seek first the kingdom of God.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Saturday morning ramblings....

Wow! I have one last large test to take this coming Tuesday morning and then, finally, I will be done with all of the basic requirements to this degree. I will be fully in the school of education. Sometimes, dreams and goals take decades. I must be slow! LOL

The house is quiet this morning -well, nearly this afternoon. I am going to be cutting Mark and Michael's hair today. Mark is preaching in the morning for Dr. Perry and he doesn't want to look like an old hippy. I wonder if he has prepared a children's sermon.

He will be a jack-in-the-box tomorrow morning since he will be leading the music and preaching. However, he loves preaching. Mark is a gentle shepherd type pastor. I have never heard him beat a congregation. He reminds me of the Shepherd in Psalm 23.

Dr. Perry is leading a revival in Calhoun, GA at First Baptist Church. I know that he will influence many people for the Lord this coming week. He, too, is a shepherd in the way he leads a church. Dr. Perry is always, gentle and loving; yet, convicting in his messages.

BTW, there is a wonderful book that I highly recommend. A Shepherd Looks at PSALM 23, by Phillip Keller, is a wonderful read for those needing to see this aspect of our wonderful Lord's nature.

Yesterday, after supper, Mark and I went down by the pond and sat at the picnic table. Paul and his friends had dragged this heavy table down by the pond last week-end while they were fishing. The movement of the water always mesmerizes me. Even on this rather small body of water, we see the force of the moon's pull working. It reminded me that God works and pulls in each of our lives. We may think that we are small but God's care and power is still evident.

As we were sitting in silence, watching the water and the ducks, Mark spoke. "Debbie, look up."

Flying overhead was a hawk. What another amazing creation of God's to watch. The hawk just kept allowing the winds and air currents to carry him along. When he would begin to descend, he would turn his wings and body in such a way as to allow the wind to pick him up and send him on. He wasn't wildly flipping his wings. He kept them spread and trusted the wind to carry him where he needed to go.

Isn't that a poignant picture of how God works in the lives of His children?

We are called to trust him.

Again, Mark spoke, "That hawk appeared for a minute to be falling and without any work on his part, but by simply angling his wings in a different way, he was lifted higher in the sky. Look how he glides."

This made me think about my life. I have had to get new perspectives at times when I was falling. Yet, without any work on my part, just faith, God has lifted me. Now, granted, sometimes that has meant a totally new direction. Sometimes, it has felt like God didn't understand and know my desires.

I wonder, did the wind carry that hawk in a new direction? Possibly.

As children of God, we are sometimes carried in places that we didn't choose. I understand that scripture where Jesus tells Peter that in his youth he went where he wanted to go but a time would come when God would take him to places that Peter didn't choose.

I imagine that Peter didn't like being bound and he probably wondered how this could possibly further the Kingdom's work. But, he went forward, while knowing that his life would be radically altered by serving a risen Savior. I think that Peter was like that hawk. He had to allow the winds of God to carry him along and not struggle against it.

The verse is John 21: 18

“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go."

The picture I see is one of Peter stretching out his hands not to allow man to gird him but to allow God to carry him along during these times in his life

Saturday, March 10, 2007

An interesting conversation about "Facing the Giants."

One of Paul's friends heard me commenting on the message that I received from the movie. He told me that I missed the message and went on to tell me the message. He said, "The point of the movie was if your life is falling apart and you give it over to God, that everything will work out."

Yes, that's what this 15 year old got out of the movie. I told him that everything in our lifes doesn't always work out and that sometimes God's answer to us is no.

So, he went on to explain, "The coach wasn't praying that the team would win. He was just giving his life over to God. And, his wife still loved God even when the pregnancy test came back negative. Her faith was tested."

I reminded him that he said the message was, "If you turn your life over to God, everything will work out." The implied meaning was the team WON (life worked out) because this coach turned his life over to God. So, the EXPECTATION is that all my desires, wants, needs will be met if I give God my life. I also told him that the wife was pregnant, so she only had to say she loved God for a few minutes without knowing that her desire was being given to her. There might be times in his life when his faith is tested and he might never get the results that he wanted. Yet, we are still called to have faith.

A life of real faith is living for God, loving God, serving Him, when our hopes, dreams and desires NEVER materialize.

We can be totally dedicated to God in our lives - faithful to Him - and our lives can still fall apart. The movie was suggesting that the only reason a Christian has problems is because they are LACKING in faith and in not surrending their lives to God. But, the truth is this - bad things happen to people WHO love God, who have given him ALL of their lives and they NEVER see the outcome of their faith in this life.

Why isn't Hebrews 11 preached? I challenged this young man to read "The Hiding Place." He needs to understand that the TEST of our faith and surrending to God isn't in everything working out. Sometimes, we are called to live a life of faith regardless of the outcome.

He told me that I was confused.

I told him that, sometimes, things do work out for the good. But, usually there are things in our lives that do not get answered the way we want them too and it's NOT because of a lack of faith or turning one's life over to God.

I guess I am confused.

Friday, March 09, 2007

My review of "Facing the Giants."

I finally watched this movie last night. I had high expectations for a great movie about faith. Facing the Giants is a feel good movie. It presents a one sided picture of a god who is more like Santa Claus than the God that I worship. I am disturbed that churches are using this movie as an evangelical tool.

As I was watching this movie, I thought of so many people that I know or have known of in my life where tragedy and sorrow hit them like a boxer in a ring with an opponent that was intent upon drawing blood. I knew that they had stood strong in their faith. I knew that they prayed without ceasing. I knew that they never turned from God and yet, their desires or wants were not answered or seemingly met.

We live in a world where people do not understand the Spirit and they are constantly looking for a sign. If God loves me, then He should do the following. I should have a car given to me. I should suddenly become very successful in my job. I should find the dead mouse in my house. I should get a several thousand dollar raise. I should get pregnant. And, everyone that I have any contact with should change because of my influence toward God in their life. All these things should happen if I stay up all night and read my Bible and pray and share my faith.

What happens when we do stay up all night to communicate with God and nothing happens? What is the message for those of us who daily live with disappointments and challenges? Is the message that our faith is weak? Is the message is that God doesn’t love us?

Sometimes, the only things that we see God do in some situations is hold us and give us strength to continue. The ability to continue on when life hasn’t allowed us to win the big game is an amazing gift. Everything in this movie was a sign – it was a physical thing. Wow! The movie shouted. Look how blessed that I am. I now have all these blessings in my life simply because I have rededicated my life to God, pray, and read my Bible.

Where was the message of Christ? This movie reminded me of that popular name and claim it doctrine. No, it wasn’t as obvious because the coach did say, "We will praise you no matter what." Honestly, losing a football game isn’t like losing a child, a spouse, or one’s health. I would hope that most people could still praise God if they lost a game! But, the message of this movie was only good things will happen to you once you make God first in your life.

I need to say, to those struggling in their faith, or those new to the faith, or to those who are thinking about coming to God, this movie was a farce and not reality. God will change you and hold you and love you but you probably won’t get pregnant or a raise or an expensive truck given to you. God does bless His people; however, sometimes that blessings are being able to experience a true and real joy in life regardless of your life’s circumstances, sorrows, and disappointments.

This movie did not make me feel joyful and happy. This movie made me think about my life’s biggest sorrows and losses and then wonder why God hasn’t stepped in with my miracle. This movie saddened me because many people may decide to come to God because of the things that they are expecting to receive from Him and not because they are sinners in need of a Savior. Will these people then question their faith when sorrow overwhelms me? Will they judge others faith by worldly success and possessions?

The story was sweet and fun but I didn’t receive a blessing from this movie. The message that I got was that my faith must not measure up. It told me that all of the days and nights that I have spent in prayer were not useful. And, that I am not one of God’s beloved.

Okay, church. Let’s present a lie to the lost. Let’s tell them that if you do a, b, and c that God will give you a bunch of news toys, more money and career success. Then when these same people experience sorrow, tragedy, or disappointments in life, we can quietly whisper, “Oh, by the way, God will give you strength to endure.” However, we have already set the precedent that the way God answers prayers is by giving you everything that you want.

I am afraid that these people will then walk away from the church and never look back. To them, the church and God will be just one more thing that disappointed them. Maybe, the church’s message needs to center more on Hebrews 11. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen….” Maybe, the message needs to center on the best gift in the world, the work of Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection.

The truth of life is that we will experience happiness and sorrow. God makes the rain to fall on all. We are called to live in faith. Faith that Jesus Christ is doing exactly what he said He would do. He is preparing for us a place in heaven where sorrow and tears will no longer exist. Maybe, the message should be Christ and his sufferings and his triumph.

The sad fact is this movie will do great because Americans want new cars and worldly success more than they want a Savior and His Spirit to equip them live a life of joy regardless of what their eyes see. They are not interested in real faith. They are interested in things.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Shopping for a washing machine....

Okay, I needed it since mine broke this week and it was time to bury the horrible thing. I have been telling Mark for the last two years the washer was going to die. I knew it. I know I will like having a nice new one, too. However, there are so many other things that I would have rather spent the money on - like Disney World.

As we were writing the check today for our washing machine, I said to Mark, I guess I won't be getting a laptop anytime soon. :(

Someone explain this to me. WHY is a new washing machine mine? I know that I am the one to USE the thing since I appear to be the laundry maid. But, honestly..... this isn't JUST for me. Yes, I picked it OUT because I am the one who does the laundry but the last time I looked less than 1/4 of the laundry was actually my clothing.

Oh, well. That's life. All of my piano teaching money is going towards this machine this month. Easy come - easy go. You know, there is a real blessing, or rather the realization of a blessing, in the breaking of this thing. Years ago, when my washing machine broke and Mark was in seminary, I got to wash CLOTHES in the bathtub for 3 months until we could get enough money together to buy a very used and old machine. That wasn't fun! So, this time I had to cancel a trip to Disney World but WE had the money to get a new machine.

Maybe, God wanted to get my attention and get me to realize that I am blessed. Blessed because I was able to purchase a new machine. Blessed because I have running water. Blessed because I have all of these appliances that act as my maids!

It was fun looking at all these new fancy machines; although, I couldn't in anyway justify spending nearly $2,000 on a set! I am amazed that people do! I will love my machine which was under $500.00 including delivery and shipping and we get the delivery refunded! wowhooo! I am also planning in about six weeks to buy the dryer that matches this washer and I will sell my dryer at that time.


Friday, March 02, 2007

March Comes In Like a Lion!!!

Yep!!! It sure does. We lost our power last night at 2 am. Storms are all over the place. It was restored 7 hours later. Mark and Michael both had to go to into friends to shower this morning. I was THRILLED when the power came back on because it meant I had running water. For some reason, the electric pump on our well doesn't work without power. hehehe

Paul has decided to fish the past few day out back in our small, tiny lake or big pond. We call it a pond. He has been catching these pretty good size fish and then he throws them back into the water. I looked out the window - and the child left two coolers and a big plastic tub that he was putting the fish in yesterday. I am surprised that those thing aren't floating on top of the pond this morning with all the nasty weather. lol

I was desperate this morning for coffee. So, I dragged the grill out of the garage and lite the burner and put my tea kettle on to boil some water. I TRIED to drink instant coffee. Man, oh Man!!! Can we say "evil form of torture???" LOL It was about the grossest stuff that I have ever put into my mouth. Just plain old nasty.

Fortunately, during my coffee experience - that POWER was restored and I made myself a cup of coffee. I had called Mark at school, and he was drinking FRESH coffee and I was so jealous. Amazing how addicted I am to caffeine.

I have really been enjoying Paul this week. He has been doing this new math curriculum WITH understanding! He has been sweet and helpful this week. Washing my van, helping with laundry and he's cooked some entire meals. And, the best part was, he is turning into a good cook.

Michael has decided to run for Senate at his college. This is what his school calls the class representatives for his college government. He is turning in his petition today where he had to gather signatures. He also has an interview scheduled to be an Orientation leader when new students arrive in the fall. And, he's putting in an application to be an RA. I pray some, if not all, of these opportunities work out for him. He loves his college and that thrills me.

My new semester has started. I am going to TRY and fly with these next classes. I ended up with 31 credit hours completed last semester. I have to write two papers for my Ethics class and then take my Literature and Ethics protored exams. And... then I am in the School of Education. I am thrilled. Y'all will hear me shout when these three classes are completed. :)

Mark told me yesterday, that he has been feeling very blessed lately. He started naming his blessings and once again, I was humbled that this godly man asked me to marry him over 27 years ago. He sees in me things that I do not see. God is so good to me.

He told me that he thought about me and his life with me all of the time. I asked him, if when he thought of me, did he see that young woman he married, who was thin, had a perfect complexion and believed in people and had such an innocent faith?

He said that had saw me as I am today. A woman who has grown more beautiful, loving and who has filled his home with a faith in God and Christ. (I have GROWN... but not more beautiful.) He told me that when he thinks of me, he sees that he is fortunate and blessed. He said that he loves my intellect, wit, and kindness and then he went on the say, that I am so much more than that girl he married and that I thrill him.

Yes, God has blessed me by this man. I adore him. I am not worthy of him.