Tuesday, August 12, 2014

the cross and bulging disks

Our youngest son, Zach, has had bulging disks in his back for over five months. He missed half of his baseball season and recently had an epidural, a steroid shot in his spine. It has been a long and difficult journey for a sixteen year old. We have been to eight doctors and we are weary of watching him hurt.

Recently, Zach and I had a great conversation about God and pain and God's ability to rescue us and our questions about the times when it seems like he doesn't rescue us.

If God is so powerful and good, why do we go through such difficult times?

We talked about feelings and truth. Our feelings change and we can't count on them, but truth does not change. It's in the difficult times that we must remind ourselves of the truth--the promises in God's Word. Promises that he will never leave us or fail us. Promises that he has a plan, has a future and a hope for us that works out, even though we can't see everything he can see.

Zach and I talked about Jesus being God and, at the same time, being a real person, by choice. Why? To save us, certainly. But he chose to be one of us, to experience everything that we experience, good and bad. He understands pain because he lived a real life and then he suffered on a cross.

Now Get This:  In his worst pain. God the Father turned his back on his Son. Jesus cried out, "Why have you forsaken me?" At times, I am feeling so helpless with Zach's back situation because I can't fix him, but as a parent, I would certainly never forsake my child. I couldn't turn my back on him, so why did the Father turn his back on Jesus? Here is why. Jesus suffered for your sin and pain so that God would never turn his back on you. Jesus chose to bear the sin of the whole world, knowing it would separate him from God the Father. He was forsaken so we would not ever be forsaken by God, even in our worst moments of sin or pain.

He took it all for us. He took our hurt, our physical pain, our pain of being misunderstood, our helplessness, our loneliness, confusion and our sin; and God put all of the burden on Jesus. He bore it all for us in his own real body and soul because he wanted us to have hope. Not only did he purchase heaven for us, but he connected us with a God who can now promise us, "I will never leave you or forsake you."

So how does God respond to our hurt? He hurts with us. He knows about pain and he walks with us through every step of it. What pain or difficulty is weighing heavily on you? In this crazy, imperfect world, God will not leave you. He has been there and he will carry you through!

Friday, March 28, 2014

shammah in the bean field (from 2009)

shammah in the bean field

I read the coolest story.  It only spans two verses in the Bible (2 Samuel 23:11-12) so there are not a lot of details.  This is it:  "One time the Philistines gathered at Lehi and attacked the Israelites in a field full of lentils.  The Israelite army fled, but Shammah held his ground in the middle of the field and beat back the Philistines.  So the Lord brought about a great victory."  

Ever feel like Shammah?  Alone in a bean field.  Where did everyone go? You know what I like about this guy?  He was faithful.  He hung in there.  Stayed true.  Did what he came to do.  Are you doing something right now that is the right thing to do but you feel like everyone left you?  When we are tempted to bail for the sake of fear or failure, we can remember Shammah.  Somehow God showed up and turned things around and "brought about a great victory."

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We have two 1's

This year, both of our boys are wearing number 1 on their baseball team! One college freshman and one high school sophomore.  I think these guys miss each other. Glad they get to share the same number.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

makeup in the dark

We were driving in the dark at 2:00 am. Brian was trying to stay awake, listening to the radio; and my valiant efforts to keep both of us awake had given way to, I guess, an all out sleep. "Make sure you wake me up right before we get there," I had Brian promise. No one wants to see your new in-laws in the middle of the night, after a twelve hour road trip, looking scary bad! I thought I would apply a drop of lip liner and maybe run a brush through my hair. Now, you must understand that in the early 90`s my green eyes required a bright green eyeliner, and that eyeliner was the same shape and size as my lip liner.

If Brian could have kept a straight face when he turned the light on, the story would have been even better, but those hot green lips of mine would not allow it! I had mistakenly, yet confidently applied that green eyeliner all over my mouth. The moral of this story? Never take ourselves too seriously...and never put your makeup on in the dark :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

no guilt treadmill of performance

I am so glad that my relationship with God is not based upon my performance! So I don't have to be worried or fearful that I may fall in and out of his favor.

It would grieve me to think that I would not choose to be a close friend and follower of Jesus, but just like my salvation was because of his grace and not my performance, my life here on earth is about his grace and not my performance.

Some, knowing heaven is a free gift, accept that gift and then, snap snap, jump on the treadmill of performance and guilt and a level of expectation to which they will never be able to live up to.

If we actually fell into God's favor because of our performance, we would be able to brag about it. Rather, like his free gift of salvation, it is Jesus' performance and his grace that we rest in and boast about!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

singing in the Nova

When I was little, my Grandma had a gold Nova with no airconditioning. She had to turn the steering wheel hard with no power steering. And those 1970's black vinyl seats were hot! I was six when Grandma took me school shopping for the first grade, and we rode in the Nova. I remember it vividly, like I remember the clothes she bought for me. A big girl shirt with little buttons and puffy sleeves and a cute plaid skirt to match. We had so much fun that day; and I felt like I was very grown up,  very loved. Later that year, very unexpectedly, she went to be with the Lord. Looking back, I know that day was a gift. I can even hear us singing together, "He's got the whole world in his hands."

Recently, I heard a modern worship song that reminded me of the Nova ride. "The whole world in his hands," we sang with great emotion, an old idea to match the new tune. I love new songs and old ones, new friends and old memories. And I relish the fact that through the last 39 years since our shopping day, God has remained faithful. Indeed he has kept the whole world in his hands! Times may change, and people we love may go on to heaven to wait for us there, but their contribution to our lives is vast. The truths from then continue to be true today. And God is still just as much holding the world together now as he was then, when we sang in the Nova.  

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I left my boy on top of a mountain.

We took our boy to college and we left him there. As parents, we are reminded that we have not walked this way before. It is an emotional surprise. Lots of excitement, coupled with a little grief, an era ended and a new road ahead for all of us.

Have I done enough, I asked myself? Have I taught and loved enough? Have our family values been instilled in this child, now a man? Will he call? Will he ever need me again?

As our truck climbed the mountain, I rambled my last ditch effort of instruction, "Be careful driving on this mountain. It is dangerous, you know! And those wild kids, those other drivers..." I was politely interrupted, "Mom, your speeches ring continuously in my ears."

I'm sure he was saying "be quiet" in a nice way, but somehow I felt comforted and relieved that not all of my speeches had gone unheard. He would be ok.

More than any speech, I remembered that God had directed Taylor's choices, that we all had asked God to make his will so clear that we could not miss it. And He had.

Alas, I am not the only parent giving advice. Proverbs 4 says, "Take hold of my instructions; don't let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life...My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words...Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."

I am forever thankful that our family loves so much that it hurts. May we always love big, and may the words of wisdom "continually ring in our ears."