Category Archives: Faith

August 12, 2018

Ephesians 4:25-5:2

Who IS the Holy Spirit?

Years ago when Dale was working on the pipeline and we were traveling with others who were doing the same, one of the mens’ wives came for a visit. They took a weekend trip and he was driving while she read the map (this was before the days of GPS!) Apparently she was not doing to suit him and some words were exchanged and she rolled down the window and threw the atlas out the window as they were going down the road. I think it is safe to say, this man had “grieved” his wife….. I will come back around to this in a few minutes.

Being a Christian is not a place we land – a milestone we achieve. This world is set up with many milestones – graduation, marriage, raising children, financial stability, retirement.

We feel as though we have accomplished something when we reach one of those milestones. We can buy the t shirt and relax for awhile – we have made it!

But biblically – life is not a series of plateaus. We are always moving – sometimes toward God and sometimes away from God.  God is the destination but like the ancient Israelites in the desert we travel in circles and backtrack and spend a lot of time just being lost even when we THINK we are going in the right direction. Well maybe you don’t – but I sure do!

Example – story in 2nd Kings 5

paraphrased

Naaman was a great man but he got leprosy. A young slave girl said if he went to see Elisha he could be cured. Namaan took money and gifts for the prophet and goes. Elisha sends a messenger out to meet him telling him to wash in the Jordan 7 times. At first Naaman gets angry. That’s it?  But his servants say hey, if the prophet says do it what can it hurt. He does what he is told and is cured. He returns to Elisha and tries to give him gifts but Elisha won’t take gifts for something God did. Naaman has now become a believer.

In the meantime a servant of Elisha named Gehazi is listening and he runs after Naaman and tells a lie saying Elisha sent him to get Naaman to give him some money.

Gehazi ends up with leprosy.

Naaman obeyed and was healed by God and left filled with joy. He was moving toward God. Ghazi tried to profit from something God had done and in doing so moved away from God.  There are consequences.

So back in Ephesus…

Paul spends a little time telling the folks at the church in Ephesus how they are to live now that they have this new covenant (or relationship) with God through Christ by way of the Holy Spirit. He gives a list and not only is it a list of things to avoid if you want to keep moving toward God, but it is a list of things that can give the devil a foothold. There is a whole sermon in giving the devil a foothold but that’s going to have to wait for another day.

Paul says stop lying, stop sinning in your anger, stop stealing, work so you will have extra to share with those in need, speak in a way that builds others up “so that your words may give grace to those who hear” He doesn’t say “if’ you are doing these things. He knows our sinful nature.

Paul says Do not grieve the Holy Spirit. How do we grieve the Holy Spirit? Well, It helps me to understand if I learn a little more about WHO the Holy Spirit is so I went on a search to learn more and what I found that the Holy Spirit IS a WHO. A person. Not a thing, not a ghost.  In the bible the Holy Spirit is often referred to as He. The bible also uses verbs to say what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is active!

Gen. 1:1-2 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters”

The Spirit has always been there. 

2 Timothy 3: 16 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God.  and 2 Peter 1:21 “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit

Scripture comes from the Holy Spirit. 

John 16:7 Jesus said: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you”

The Holy spirit is a person and our helper. Jesus sent HIM to us!

John 14:26

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.

The Holy Spirit is our advocate – defends us, teaches us, convicts us and reminds us

Acts 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a gift to us from God

Acts 13:2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”

The Holy Spirit speaks to us and gives us direction

Acts 15:8 And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us;

God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit

Acts 15:28 For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to impose on you no further burden than these essentials:

The Holy Spirit is a decision maker and works with us and within us

Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

The Holy Spirit is how God interacts with us 

So where are you. Are you moving toward God or away?

John 14:6 says 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” and 14:16 says 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth.

Someone much smarter than I am described our journey like this – God is the destination, Jesus is the conduit through which we reach our destination, and the Holy Spirit is the engine that moves us in the right direction.

As we wander in our circles, Jesus came to be our advocate but He had to die and be raised so that sin and death would be conquered and that work is complete but we still have to get through this thing called life. So Jesus asked the Father to send us ANOTHER advocate that would be with us forever to guide us, to help us know the truth from the lies of the world and to come along side of us in this wilderness world.

Are you going to throw the atlas out the window? Would you ignore a friend? Refuse a gift? I challenge each of us to read our bibles and learn more about the Holy Spirit. To pray and ask God to help us to hear this advocate, helper, guide when He speaks to us. Let’s all fall in love with God and have hearts that thirst for more, for a deeper relationship with God through the Holy Spirit that Jesus sent us. If the one who died for our sins chose to send us someone that He said we would need, doesn’t it make sense to pay attention?

August 5 2018

Unity in the Body of Christ

Ephesians 4:1-6 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Psalm 133:1 

A Song of Ascents. Of David. Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!

When Dale and I first started coming to Powderly Methodist Church we experienced having lay speakers on a regular basis for the first time. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. Ironic? I mean, it’s not the pastor so you don’t have to pay as close attention right? I’ll admit that sometimes my mind wandered. I’d think boy is it hot up in the choir loft today and wow, I hope no one heard my stomach growl..I can hear God telling me “Little girl you are mine but sometime you need a whooping!” But then one day it hit me. I had a ring side seat to what God was doing in someone else’s life! I have come to view it as a gift. Not because every sermon is perfect. Nobody hits it out of the park every time. Sometimes I might not even agree with the speaker. But I have found that if I try to see beyond the words being spoken to what God wants me to hear, I can look for what God is doing in this person’s life as they prepare to speak. I try to find one “take-away” – something I can think about in the upcoming week. I can think on how I would have approached the lesson and marvel at how scripture can speak to each of us right where we are at any given time. As time passes I grow to love each of our lay speakers for what they bring to us, their prayers, their thoughts as they wrestle with God about what He wants them to say and praise God for what He does in their lives and in ours as we share.

I am reading a book called The Message of the New Testament by Mark Dever. In his book Mr. Dever suggests that you read the Old Testament with the view that everything points to Jesus. Then read the New Testament to answer the question – did the deliverer that was promised in the old testament come?

The author describes the New Testament as three concentric circles. The circle in the center is Christ. That is the gospels and Acts. Jesus is the new covenant – a covenant is used biblically to make a new relationship. Jesus came to make a new relationship with God’s people because our relationship had been destroyed by sin. So now you have the next circle – as the church spread you read about God’s covenant people and how they are to live out this new relationship. The first letters are to the brand new baby churches that were just trying to figure everything out and then to individuals who have been instrumental in spreading the gospel. Next is the outer circle as the Church grew and spread to the rest of the world.

The book of Ephesians is one of those letters and in the first three chapters we are given a picture of what biblical unity looks like. In today’s scripture, Paul makes the case for unity. Now you and I when we study the bible even today, we may interpret things differently. Meanings seem to change with the perspective of where ever we are right now. Not our core beliefs but the details. At the time this letter was written, the Jews and Gentiles were dealing with coming together as one church so you had Jews “US” who brought their Old Testament laws and traditions that were so ingrained coming together to worship with brand new Christians who came from other faiths and had traditionally been “them”.

Paul makes a case for Christian unity with these two groups. Not that they were expected to agree on each and every little thing. But to remind them that if they were focused on each other and their differences they were not focusing on God.

Paul lists seven ways that unity has already been given by God for the church to walk in.

  1. There is one body – Christ’s body
  2. One spirit – the Holy Spirit
  3. One Hope – Eternal Life
  4. One Lord – the Triune God
  5. One Faith – the Christian faith
  6. One baptism – the baptism of the Holy Spirit into Christ’s body
  7. One God & Father – The heavenly Father

What do all these things have in common? The unifyer – the work of Christ’s death on the cross ties all these things (and us!) together

Notice – no where does is say we have to agree on everything – that we all have to be the same. Paul just asks that we WALK worthy of our calling.

This week as I prepared my talk, I was thinking about baby Jessica and the well. Do you remember? It was 1987 and it seemed that the entire world was watching and praying. People sent money and prayers and equipment and for 2 days we were all united in the hope of one thing – that that baby would be rescued and be okay. For two days it didn’t matter what your location, your politics, your religion, everyone was united in the hope that this story would have a happy ending. Maybe if we stretch this a little, it gives us a picture of what Christian unity can look like.

All of the people who were involved, from the folks actually present all the way to the ones like me that were glued to their tv sets and praying – all focused on one thing and one thing only – a happy ending, a human life being saved.

People brought different things to the table, some had equipment and knowledge of drilling and geology and all that goes in to safely making a way to Jessica. Some had money to help transport the necessary people and equipment and some could offer food and showers and places to stay and some were there just to share the story with the world as it unfolded. They were not all copycat robots who looked and thought and spoke the same, but their differences paled beside the rescue of one tiny soul and so they used their individual gifts to help each other focus on that and a miracle happened. Jessica McClure was brought out of a deep dark hole into the light. (And I am sure there was a lot of light –  photographers flash bulbs and the lights for the video cameras! Wow.)

And then, the whole word rejoiced. We rejoiced.

God’s covenant people, storming heaven with prayers for one thing and then not just waiting for prayers to be answered, became Christ’ hands and feet and saved someone. Paul doesn’t say you have to be a member of this or that denomination, this or that political party, be male or female, rich or poor, just walk united in Christ, coming alongside brothers and sisters in the hope that all will be saved.

In 1st Timothy Paul writes: “ First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,  for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. 3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

In Galations 3:26-28 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Our Father knows we are different – He knit us together in the womb and He knows we will not all agree all the time. Some of us won’t agree ANY of the time…on some things. But what matters is how we walk this out and this preaches to me.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble

1 John 4:12 No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

it’s not about who we are, it’s about who we are in HIM

It’s not about what we want to do, but it is about what He has done for us

It’s not about what we want out of this life, it’s about what He wants for us in the next

It’s not about who or what we hear on a Sunday morning – it’s about how we live every day until He comes back for us

My challenge to all of us this week is to take that one person that is getting on your last nerve, that hurt you for no reason, that really pushed your buttons…and look at them through the lens of Christ and the sacrifice He made for THEM as well as us. Look at them from the perspective of God desiring all meaning them as well as us to be saved. It’s my prayer that while we still most likely will not agree with them, our perspective will have changed. It can’t hurt,  and maybe, just maybe, someone will be saved.

A New Thing

I have recently started a new chapter in my life. I have started being on the rotation as a lay speaker at two of the four churches in our district. I have spoken a few times before but just as a sort of pinch hitter – I was a little afraid to commit to a regular schedule at least until I got my feet wet.

It’s both a joy and a scary thing for me – the joy is that I am passionate about teaching from the bible and being a “regular” makes me more intentional about studying the Word myself. The scary thing is actually doing it! I’m always afraid that I may make someone angry or say something that causes someone to stay away on the Sunday’s that I speak. I have seen people do this with other lay speakers so it isn’t totally me being neurotic.

The next Sunday I am scheduled to speak I will talk from Ephesians on Christian unity. The last few times I have written what I would say in the weeks proceeding the actual Sunday and then I would wake up at 4 in the morning that day and rewrite the entire thing. I would ask for prayers that if God has something for me that He would help me see it sooner so that I have time to run through it several times beforehand so I will feel more prepared!

So far my process is to read through the scripture multiple times, read a couple commentaries, look for outlines online and pray for God to give me insight and clarity. If you are reading this and you are a praying person I would ask for prayers for this ministry. I’m not altogether sure what a calling is but this feels like a calling and so I am also praying for affirmation and direction.

Do you have a story that you feel illustrates a time or situation where God spoke to your life? Something you would be willing to share and let me use? I would love to hear it.

Peace!

John 4:1-26 and 39-42

John 4:1-26 and 39-42

I Love the pictures the bible gives us. Pictures of Jesus and pictures of God’s people wrestling with how to live out their faith in the real world. Regular people just like us. The story of the woman at the well is one of those kind of stories.

Sometimes stories become so familiar that I think I know them and because of what I think I know, sometimes I miss details.

God orchestrates ordinary circumstances to accomplish extraordinary things.

In this scripture there is a little passage, kind of a side note that caught my attention. Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. Some translations say Jesus needed to go. Jews at that time had as little to do with Samaritans as possible. They would take the long way around to avoid going through Samaria. So that makes me wonder…why did Jesus, a Jew, HAVE to go through Samaria?  So, if we walk this out –  Jesus did His Father’s will. So if Jesus had to go through Samaria, then logically, it was His Father’s will that He go that way. If he had not obeyed His Father’s will, He would not have met the Samaritan woman. (sometimes when we listen to the prodding of the Holy Spirit we may go through unfamiliar and even uncomfortable territory.

If you have an encounter with Jesus, you might do something out of the ordinary (like leaving your water jug behind)

So here we are. Jesus, wholly divine and fully human is sitting at this well, tired and hot. A woman shows up at the well to get water. She must not have been rich or she might have had servants to fetch water for her.  But Jesus listens to her. He SEES her, right to the heart of her life. Maybe his words caused her to see herself through His eyes, and made her realize how badly she needed grace. I’m not sure what His words meant to the woman but we know from the text, they were personal and He revealed Himself to her as the messiah! The words must have had a profound effect on her because she was so excited that she went off and left her water jar. In the desert. Left. it. THAT is what an encounter with Jesus can do to you. I imagine if I went to Walmart for milk and was gone several hours and came back empty handed, Dale and I would be having a conversation. Now notice what happened. She went back and told the others that this man told her everything she had ever done and they BEGAN to believe. Something about what she said or maybe just how she was, made them want to meet him.

Sharing our faith doesn’t convert anyone. We just have to point them to Jesus. Jesus does the heavy lifting. It is their own encounter with the Christ that changes them.

Whatever effect Jesus had on this woman, something about her caused the people she spoke to, to have a desire to meet this Jesus for themselves and once they met Him, they wanted to hang out with him and because of their time with Jesus, Christianity spread throughout that part of the world. Pretty extraordinary!

So what are we to do with this? How does this story speak to each of us? For me, it reminds me we are all walking through a desert. It can be beautiful but also it’s dry and dusty and just harsh sometimes. On Sunday morning we come here – to our well where we can rest and be refreshed.

We are tired and thirsty. Maybe we have spent the week wrestling with our faith, trying to work out how to live as one of God’s kids. Maybe we have had one of those weeks where we resembled the Samaritan. We have worshipped on a different mountain and hung out at different wells, and our own beliefs have gotten muddied. Maybe it was wonderful and we just need to say our thanks and praise the one who sustains us. Whatever the week was like, we are here now with with our empty cups held out.  We need an encounter with Jesus. We need that thirst to be quenched. We need to be filled with living water.

But just showing up at the well isn’t enough. Like the woman at the well, we have to seek Jesus for Him to reveal Himself to us and ASK Him for that water. If we walk into the sanctuary with our empty cup held out, asking Jesus to fill it, to fill US with living water then it isn’t going to matter who is behind the pulpit. It isn’t going to matter that our favorite hymn wasn’t sung. It may not even matter what team’s playing or where we are eating after church because we will have in some way met Jesus and we will be changed. And maybe, just maybe, if we are paying attention, there will be someone we encounter in the next week that needs to meet this Jesus and we will have a conversation, or perform a kindness, or just seem different and it will point them in a new path in the desert, not just to fill a pew at our church, though that would be wonderful; but because every single person needs to know that they are not alone in the desert, needs their own encounter with the risen Christ, and needs to know that at the end of that long walk through the desert, Jesus is waiting for them.

Changes

I have been inactive here for too long. My dry spell for writing began with the election but while shocked at the results, the continuation of that dry spell has been more a response to the willingness of people to not only strongly take sides, but spew hate without even seeming to be aware of what they are saying. I fear for this world, not for myself, but for my children and their children. There are hard times coming.  Some writers can take their pain and turn it into poetry. My poetry comes from a place of peace in my soul and that is what I have been working on, but it has taken my thoughts in a different different.

Next Sunday I will give the message at church for the first time. I will post it here after Sunday. I am speaking on John 4, the story of the woman at the well. Walking though the desert to get water and meeting Jesus seemed a good place to start. I would appreciate prayers. I am not a public speaker and this is so very far out of my comfort zone. Luckily I will have a stool to sit on as it makes it even more difficult to concentrate on your words when your knees are shaking!

I’ve also had some ongoing health concerns this year and as of this post, I have a shiny new grand daughter – Nola Mae. So cares and blessings. Life moves on.

 

 

Luke 17:20-21

A Pastor friend posed this question:

“How do you define the kingdom of God? Is it heaven? Or maybe the perfect evening with your family at your favorite restaurant? These answers are not wrong, but one thing’s for sure. The kingdom of God is not ushered in with visible signs. You won’t be able to say, “It has begun here in this place or there in that part of the country.” For the kingdom of God is something that is within your own heart.”
Based on Luke 17:20-21″

My response:

They asked Him for a map you see
To get to heavens shore and lee
His answer was within the key
He knew they would stay lost

You cannot get there by direction
Though easier if you make connection
The price is all and predilection
Proved that He would pay the cost

So look within and give without
Cling to the savior though you doubt
Receive and share it’s all about
The least will see most

If Jesus lives inside of you
His love will change the way you view
Put self aside, let Him shine through
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost

I am enjoying this rhyme scheme of aaabcccb, a pleasure to write and fun to read.

It Is Well

to breath in rivers
of stinging cold
that tastes of stars
and snowflakes
whispers of secrets
floating down rock-a-bye
sorrow tomorrow
peace tonight
softly curled around
the shivery moon
it is well
tree lights glow
through window panes
with my soul
staring into the dark
feet on solid ground
sweater tightly wrapped
I feel myself grow solid too
it is well

Easter

Watching the clouds
from my back porch
sailing across the steel sky.
I wonder where could they be going?
A nightbird is singing goodnight
to the morning and the honeysuckle
lays heavy on the air.
I realize that spring is not coming.
I have been watching and waiting
and she has been on her way
and yet
here she is and
she is not spring at all
she is summer.
Like those racing clouds
all in a constant state
of movement
even when I cannot see.
I wonder if the changing seasons
are God’s way of trying to teach me
this lesson over and over,
That the only constant
besides Him, is change.
He is always creating.
I say goodbye to winter
as spring moves in
and the glory of summer.
Crucifixion comes before
resurrection
the season whispers.

A Responsive Reading

There are those who spend hours huddled
over bibles stirring as if they were cauldrons
filled with gallons of steaming condemnation
drinking from a fountain of self righteousness

There are those who wrap themselves in corsets
containing and prohibiting any human love
freezing out those not deemed suitable
walking two steps ahead of the lowly and unworthy

There are those who scratch words and prayers
on paper that bleed and they suffer oh how they suffer
for their Jesus. P.R. Men for God, the only ones
with hotline to heaven, key to the executive bathroom

There are those who are confused and tired
poor and hopeful, lost and broken, held in God’s hand
with a gentle touch, washed and whispered to
needing, fed, welcomed home, covered by grace

Early Morning Track Ponderings

One Word this week was track

I try to go to a local walking track at least three days a week. I go at 7 and the Texas summer is telling me I may need to go earlier.  I started this morning with Spirit In The Sky playing in my ears, setting the beat, the cadence as I move around the track even though muscles are complaining.  Thinking about spirit. The human spirit.

A minute isn’t long enough for two miles of thinking.  I have to come back and revisit this.

Okay, where was I.  Spirit In The Sky, warm day.  I’m walking along, swinging my arms.  Twice around is two miles. The song starts me thinking about the human spirit – isn’t that a misnomer?  Human equals flesh – spirit, God.  My misbehaving, undisciplined, flesh, complaining, moaning, whining it’s way around the track, down the path, on the journey.

I start out moving to the song, the music keeping the speed until my body settles and muscles loosen and I fall into rhythm with comfortable ease.  About halfway through the walk the comfort isn’t quite as comfortable and I look at the shoe prints in the sand ahead of me and just follow those footprints still listening to the music knowing the goal is worth it. The killing the flesh, struggle to be stronger, healthier.  Can’t get there without some pain.  There’s pain – arthritic feet but you walk through it, past it.

Sometimes there is shade and a cool breeze.  The walking is pleasant.  I’m on the path and the path is smooth and easy on my feet.  Other times the shade is gone and the sun beats down and I’m sweating and wishing I was somewhere else and I could be, it’s a choice after all.  Sometimes I choose wrong but the path is always there and I come back.  There is some ugly trash along the path but also beautiful flowering trees.  Others walk the path as well.  We nod and speak and all keep walking.

The track is not far from where I live but it isn’t exactly at my home.  I have to act to get to it.  I have to choose to get in my car and drive there.  I choose to listen to the music and keep walking, putting one foot in front of the other, finish the race, claim the prize, complete the walk.

The spirit moves us, not our spirit.  We move along the path, track, onward on the journey, wherever the spirit takes us, flesh dying, spirit moving, til we can go home.  Trials on the way and joys too.  Never alone, spirit always with us, nudging, prodding, waiting, speaking if we listen.  Waiting for us to choose, listen, move, obey, and then come home.

Not Ready For Sunday Scribbling

The prompt this week is healing and when I saw that in my reader it made me cry.  Those who know me know this has been a terrible week.  We lost a friend Wednesday night.  His name was Shawn and he left a wife and two daughters.  I’ll post more about this later but for now I’ll tell a little bit of the story.

We left a church we had attended for about ten years.  There were problems and we were lucky to have found a new church home and were healing and moving on.  We met up with some friends who were starting a small Sunday evening praise service at our old church and went and started helping them. This was how we met Shawn and Lindsay and their daughters.  The service fell apart but we had started meeting in each other’s homes once a week for bible study.  The group shrank after that but Shawn and Lindsay became our friends and continued coming along with our friend BJ.

We joked about having short attention spans and while we always had a meal and fellowship, sometimes we didn’t get in as much bible study as we could have.  That used to bother me some but now I see that God had a hand in all of this.

In November Shawn stopped working because the company he was employed by didn’t have any more contracts.  He and my hubby started going up to the church and working some.  My hubby is disabled and has balance problems but could work with Shawn for a few hours and I wasn’t worried about him falling and no one being there.  They also went to a Men’s Ministry class there on Tuesday nights.

Recently Shawn got sick.  He was having stomach problems and went to the emergency room several times where they did very little for him except take his money.  He finally had started having tests run and we worried because it was dragging out so long but thought they would find the problem and fix it.

Wednesday night I checked my phone at church which is something I NEVER do and there was a text from Lindsay saying that they were at the ER and to come if we could.

We left right away but when we got to the hospital, Shawn had already passed away.

When we went to our old church for that evening service I thought that maybe God wanted us to share our faith there.  I thought that was the purpose.  When things fell apart I was left not understanding because if that was the purpose then had we failed?

Now I know that God put us there because He knew the future.  He knew that we would get joy from knowing Shawn who was no angel but could sing like one.  Shawn who loved Third Day’s music and wanted more than anything to be in a praise band.  Shawn who could not ever seem to have a serious discussion for long and would make you laugh til your sides hurt.

God put us there so that we would get to know Lindsay who is shy and reserved at first but has a strong faith and great insights.  She is my sister in Christ and such a gift.  Her oldest daughter reminds me of her and the littlest one is her dad made over.  He fussed at her often, I think because he saw himself in her and knowing himself, wanted to give her guidance.

Above all else Shawn wanted to take care of his family and I know that God has plans for them and I have already seen Him at work in His people loving on Shawn’s family.

Once again, what I thought God was saying was not what he planned,  so as we all try to understand and heal from this grief we know we do so with the hope of Jesus Christ and to quote Shawn, God  “I’m a welder.  Use short words”  God, I’m listening but you know I’m a C+ student at best.

Wednesday night Jason said something in the lesson that stuck with me.  He said God is much more interested in working in us than through us.

A friend is going to put up a memorial site and when it is complete, I will post a link here.  There is no insurance so help for the family will be appreciated.

Sunday Scribbling: Confession 2 (not a story)

Confess they say and I say yes
I think that I should indeed confess
but not to you, just to my God
Who knows my heart and yet loves no less

You don’t own me and you don’t  own God
in fact if stumbling you should cause
Then before you are lain beneath the sod
Turn your angry eyes on your own flaws

I’m free you see because my sins
The Father has cast into the sea
And in the end when the world is made new
That sea is gone and my God wins

My soul is His, I freely give
Just as he died, so I could live
As If I lived like him I’m loved
So I turn from you to Him above

This may sound a bit angry.  I read a lot of things about confession this week that just trouble me so here is my thought on confession as it pertains to being a Christian.  Just my thought…

I think confession is necessary.  I think you confess your sins to God.  I think you confess to Him that you are a sinner and there is no way you can be made right without Him.  This isn’t shame – it’s freedom.  Freedom from constantly feeling as if you don’t measure up, because you don’t.  No one does and never will of their own.  It’s Jesus who does the work that takes away our sin.

We confess to God because it’s the first step to repenting or turning down another path.  We confess and then we turn to Him.  In that turning is forgiveness and restoration – we are restored to Him.  We are Justified.  Just as if I’d never sinned.  Do you get that?
Read the two scriptures below.

Micah 7:19
19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.

Revelation 21
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

They.  Are.  Gone.
I love that

We All Follow

The prompt at Sunday Scribbling is follow and as I sit writing I have a song in my head – Follow That Sound by Sharon Little

I can hear a telephone ringin’
I can hear a gypsy singer singin’

I’m gonna follow,follow that sound
till i know, till i know i cant be found.

there a woman on her knees prayin’
theres a child in the breeze playin’

I’m gonna follow,follow that sound
till i know, till i know i cant be found.

We were strong and thought we could handle anything.  We had a few potholes along the way and thought of them as trials. We had lost people, but we had each other.

Life just kept moving along and crouching in the wings was a lion, ready to pounce and gobble us up.  We knew he was there but as people will, we chose to ignore him hoping he would go away.

Finally one day, his presence was too closely felt and we knew we had to face him or be consumed.

It was a Friday night and D had become sicker and weaker until I could hear his breathing at night – a sound that both reassured me and terrified me.  It didn’t sound right.  We sat down and looked at each other and he admitted that he needed to go to the hospital.  He wanted to wait til Monday because we knew that he would just sit there all weekend and nothing would be done.

Monday we showed up at the emergency room and because of the ongoing construction, I had to remain in the waiting room.  We were so sure it was his heart, and we were right, partially.  His kidneys were failing and it was causing fluid buildup around the heart.  They thought we were crazy because we were encouraged that it was his kidneys.  We knew he could live without kidneys but a heart was a whole other matter.

We followed the doctors instructions.  He began dialysis and I began researching how to feed him.  We were given dietary information which mostly consisted of what he could NOT eat and it was a very long list.  If it had any flavor, dialysis wouldn’t filter the chemicals that create the delicate balance your body needs to survive.  Too much of this, too little of that and the whole pile of cards comes tumbling down.  I was determined that I would find every way possible to give him enough choices to keep eating from being a punishment.  It didn’t always work and he didn’t always accept the choices with grace, but I don’t think I would have been able to accept it as well as he did.

Initially things seemed better,believe it or not.  The dialysis made him feel so much better than he had felt in a long time, that even 4 hours a night, three nights a week seemed to be a small price to pay.  He was soon feeling better but he couldn’t return to work on dialysis so we followed what we told at the dialysis center and learned how to do peritoneal dialysis at home.  After going through the training and making sure our home was set up for it, we followed instructions and diet to the letter!  We were the local poster kids for living with end stage renal disease.  D returned to work and we gradually settled in to a routine.

We had several good years before the lion returned.  D came home from work one night saying he was hurting and didn’t feel right. He did his first exchange and the fluid was cloudy which means peritonitis.  Such an innocuous word for a decent in to hell.  We went to the emergency room again and they gave him antibiotics and called his PD nurse and she called in instructions for more antibiotics to be used in his exchanges.  Nothing worked and things got worse so fast.  He was in so much pain and nothing helped.  We went to the hospital and followed their instructions and for a week met each morning with hope of improvement.  Every day his white count was higher and now he was so medicated for pain that he was hallucinating but still in pain.

I finally made the decision to move him to another hospital and immediately the treatment changed and he slowly started to improve.  He was so close to death when we got there that it took months.  We lived at that hospital for several months total and our children finished the school year on their own. Even after several trips home and then back the process was slow and some of the damage that had been done to his body was permanent.

He was back at the dialysis center three days a week and so discouraged.  We knew at this point he would never return to work.  We were trying to wade through the muddy waters of insurance and disability and in the meantime life went on, kids grew, bills came, and we were taking it one day at a time.  We had beat the lion back one more time.  We knew he just wasn’t feeling as well as he should this time on dialysis and because of hard lessoned learned we monitored everything closely.  Checked his temperature and blood pressure regularly using own thermometer and cuff.  We watched his diet and read his blood work reports carefully.  We talked to his sisters because he was finally ready to try transplant.

His youngest sister was a close match and the process was started.  We are thankful every single day for her gift.  There were other gifts too.  People who supported us financially, with prayer, with cards – gifts so great that thank you just hangs up in my throat.

The family followed us to the hospital.  Friends and pastors too.  We got up and checked the board over and over again.  The board was where they posted progress and approximate time left .  That board seemed to change so slowly.  Finally after what seemed like years, the doc came out and told us that every went well.  We had several hiccups – adjustments in medication were made and finally we were allowed to move from the hospital to an apartment nearby where we could come every day to the transplant clinic at first.  The transplant was Thanksgiving and we finally got to go home at Christmas.  The process is not easy and the anti-rejection drugs are rough at first but we have graduated to checkups every eight weeks.

Following all that, we are remaking ourselves.  Our lives are not what we planned but we are here and the lion, while not gone completely, follows from a distance for now.  Sometimes the paths we follow are not ones we would have chosen for ourselves, but we walk them anyway.  Sometimes they are dark and full of shadows and then sometimes we step out of the shade into the sunlight and the light and the warmth surround us for awhile.

Happy Easter

This was a special Easter for me as our church held our Easter service at the high school where I work.  he last two years it was held at a neighboring school with an auditorium that holds about 650.  Last year some people left because there was no place to sit.

Our auditorium holds a little over 1000 and I was worried that people wouldn’t come because the weather was bad this morning.  I don’t know any exact numbers, but it looked pretty full to me.  That’s just awesome.  It’s encouraging to see that many people, in one place, worshiping together – especially in a community this size.

The service began with the itty bittys singing and it looked like there was about 40 kids up there.  I got so tickled at a little girl in the front who was just about to dance, hopping and raising her hands whenever they would sing “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” – she was so cute.  She was just so excited to be up there.

I was thinking about an Easter before the kids were born when we lived in Littleton.  My best freind and I decided we would go to the sunrise service at Red Rocks which is a natural outdoor amphitheater formed by what they call the “hogback” where the foothills push up at the edge of the Rockies.  The guys had no interest in going so I made us a thermos of coffee and she brought quilts for us to wrap up in.  We left at 4 in the morning because a LOT of people go and it isn’t easy to park.  Even getting there early, we still had quite a hike up to where people were sitting.  It was beautiful and peaceful even in the midst of the crowd.  I found a picture on Flickr – not from back when I went but you get the idea.

This gives just a hint of how big it is.

Hope everyone had a joyous, peaceful Easter holiday.  He is risen! Amen!

Scribbling Prompt – Scary

The Sunday Scribbling prompt this week is Afraid.  What are you scared of?

A lot of things scare me.  Bees and wasps, snakes, pain, Fiddle Head Ferns (I know but they always made me think of aliens), saying the wrong thing (which I DO frequently – you would think I’d be over it).  There are things I worry about but I think those are a different category.

If I really search for the things that can keep me awake – I am afraid of time.

There have been crystal pure moments in this life, where time stopped and I stepped outside of it, barely breathing. I saw everything at once, heard every laugh, smelled the sun, and knew without a doubt that if I was asked at that very moment, where I would like to be, I would have chosen that time and place.  Every color, intense and perfect, feeling complete and peaceful joy.

I don’t mean the big events like births and weddings. Those things are marked by the calendar.

I mean the small, seemingly insignificant times when for some inexplicable reason, it felt as if God’s finger tapped me on the shoulder and whispered that I should look and remember, take it with me. I mean a time when I wasn’t just there, but I was truly present – in that moment.

As a Christian, I know I have the hope of heaven. I believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins.  I believe that God loves me more than my human self can possibly imagine.

My human self can’t imagine anything more beautiful or joyful than those moments. This is a paradox and my most confusing sin.  We are not supposed to be tied to this world – and yet we are given these gifts of moments that make me love this world in a way that goes to the very heart of me.  Oh, I know there are terrible things in this world.  You’ve only to turn on the evening news to get bombarded by violence and tragedy.  We see evidence of how little humans care for other humans every day.  But when I think of how a person’s mind works and through little lines and sounds that form words and how we make leaps of imagination, form relationships, paint pictures, and create music and love, I am in awe.  When I think of the small every day miracles when someone does the right thing for no reason or when someone makes a small gesture of love without being asked it makes me want to hug the world!

But those moments, oh those moments.  They hold me as much as I hold them.  I fear them stopping.  I fear not being here.  I fear not feeling that connection to another human being.  Will I take those moments with me?  Will I remember?  Will I be remembered?

At the same time I’m curious to see what comes next.  In Mark 9 we find the short but oh so meaningful prayer – “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” That sums it up for me. Am I flawed or do others have this doubt?  If we are to love God and desire to be in His presence, is it wrong to have this love for His creation?  Can we love the Creator but hate His creation?  If it’s wrong then why is creation so filled with beauty?  Is it part of learning to trust?

It’s Easter weekend and it’s scary to me to even post this.  This is a time of celebration.  The tomb is empty, Jesus conquered the grave.  I know these things but I want to know them MORE. A friend told me (teasingly I think) that I’m nosy.  I am, it’s true.  More than nosy – I like to KNOW things.  I like proof of things. I like things to make sense.  I love it when a bible teacher explains something that makes the Bible make sense.  I love the mystery and mystical”ness” but the logic and proof make me enjoy that part more. When I learn something that proves the gospel, it doesn’t all of a sudden make me start believing.  It’s more like YES!  I knew it!

Sooo, I hope I am not judged too harshly for doubts.  Isn’t that what faith is about?  We keep walking because we trust God to guide us, even when in and of ourselves we know we are lost?