Good morning! It’s been a while since I posted, but I have not been a slacker, rest assured. I’ve been busy working with a team getting ready to launch a new book. It is called Iridescent Grace and the author’s name is Carly Richaven. More about that as soon as the publisher gives us a launch date.
I recently saw a this statement on Facebook to which I felt compelled to respond. There is an idea in our culture today that suggests that because Jesus loves us there are no consequences for our words or actions. That is simply not true.
I replied in the comments of the posting with this statement, “And as I do, you have to accept the consequences of your choices.”After much thought, I feel I need to respond further to the ideas promoted in the posting. I speak to the person who wrote it and anyone who believes that it’s okay to do these things because Jesus will still love you.
First of all, let’s get to the core of the statement : Jesus loves you as much as He loves me. I am in total agreement with that. He loves you so much that He would have suffered and died that horrible death if you had been the only human on the planet. He loves me that much, too.
Now, let’s look at the other concepts in the statement:
Tattoos. I don’t have any, but that just makes us different, not me better or worse than you. With tattoos, you can probably reach a certain group of people with the gospel that would never listen to me. Open up the Word to them. Show them Jesus and eternal life.
Road rage. I’m sure everyone who drives can relate to that. If not controlled however, bad things can happen. Google “road rage” and read some of the sickening stories. Be angry, and sin not. Ephesians 4:26
Sex before marriage. God ordained sexual activity within certain guidelines. After marriage, sexual activity is beautiful and blessed. Not before. Hebrews 13:4
Swear like a sailor = Cursing. Clean water and dirty water from the same fountain? This ought not to be. James 3:10-11
You love Jesus? Those who love Him keep His commandments. John 14:15, 21
Again, does He love you? Emphatically, yes! He certainly does and because of that wants you to make good choices. He weeps when you don’t, because He knows there are consequences for the choices you make. Choose wisely, so He can rejoice with you.
Yes, He loves you as much as He does me, but is He pleased with your words and actions? I ask myself that every day.
Choices matter. You and I have the same privilege: the ability to choose. I try my best to choose those things that please Him because He is showing me how to really live, not just survive this tenure on Earth.
Do I get it right every time? Of course not. But I repent and aim for better choices as life goes on.
I hope you will do the same. And by the way, I love you, too. We are equal at the foot of the cross.
I recently made a new friend who shared her story with me. Her story is an ongoing one because she deals with difficulty every day. As she shared the details of her struggles, she also shared evidence of the strength she draws from our Lord to carry on. She has an undeniable peace about her.
This young woman’s mother, a strong woman herself, has a disease that may inevitably cause her demise, but can never take her life. Her life is in Christ, so if the disease claims her body, she will simply step over the threshold into perfect life with Him. Meanwhile, my friend helps to care for her mom and draws strength from God both emotionally and physically to power through the difficult days. Each day she has an early morning devotion that lifts her faith and sets the tone for that day. She strives to keep her mom, her family, and herself in good spirits despite the disease.
That is not her only struggle, however. My new friend spoke of the issues she encountered as she and her husband grew their family. They experienced a difficult pregnancy that ended in the stillbirth of a son at twenty-seven weeks. After the doctors informed the young couple of the son’s physical abnormalities and the handicapped life he would have faced, they knew that God had spared their precious son this tumultuous life and were at peace. They are certain they will see him again in Heaven. Their faith in God was tested, but He constantly gave them reminders of His love and care through the months that followed. And their faith is even stronger than before.
She also spoke of her two other precious children, a boy and a girl. Again, the details of each of their births were not in line with the normal course of conception, growth, labor, and delivery. Let’s just say they are each a beautiful gift from God, made more precious by the difficulty this mother experienced.
Her little girl was born with an unusual condition, which causes her skin to tear easily and her joints to quite often dislocate. My friend told of the first-aid kit she keeps in her car to repair skin tears, and of the times she has to put her daughter’s joints back into place. She said she refuses to make her little girl miss out on life because of this anomaly in her body. Other folks get a little squeamish as my friend takes care of an ugly skin tear or pops her daughter’s arm back into place at the shoulder. Her friends say they just couldn’t do that. I love the statement she made about God giving her this particular little girl. She said, “God gave her to me, because He knew I could handle it. I would be the right Mama for her.” Oh, what strength! And what confidence this woman has in her Lord and Savior!
We women are nurturers and deal with things emotionally. That is simply how God made us. That said, I am amazed at how He strengthens and uses our emotions and character traits – love, compassion, fortitude, perseverance – to help us be the women we need to be.
After conversing with my new friend, I felt empowered, believing that God is able to strengthen us no matter what we face each day. My difficulties are certainly different from hers, but the same God who empowers her to wake up each morning and face the day with joy and determination, can and does do the same for me.
He can and will do it for you, too.
I’ve been away from my blog writing for a couple of months and I hope you will forgive the absence as I have good reason. I’ve been moving to a new area closer to my children. It took just about the entire two months to plan, prepare, and move. I’m now done. I found some change in the process.
Did you know a man can collect a ton of stuff in forty-three years? Yes, I know a ton is two thousand pounds. And I went through every ounce of it.
You may not believe this, but I found a leather bag full of change in his closet. Several hundred dollars worth. If you are going to hoard something … I found other things, too, in the house and elsewhere. Tools and other guy stuff. Some items I didn’t even know what they were used for. Some I did. What was I to do with fifteen hammers?
I had a yard sale. Mostly my husband’s tools and guy stuff. Filled up his sixteen-foot utility trailer and sold stuff for two days. That was certainly an experience. For those who came from another county and did not know my husband or of his entry into Heaven, it was a little confusing. They couldn’t figure out what his career choice was. There was welding equipment, lawn care equipment, pipe-fitting tools, home repair tools, hunting and fishing equipment (the big stuff for hunting in the mountains or fishing in Alaska. My husband didn’t play). I finally told them he was just an all-round guy. They couldn’t understand why a man would allow his tools to be sold and asked if he was on a trip or was I just mad at him. I said, “Something like that.” Then I told them where he’d gone and they apologized. No need. It was a trip. Plan on making it myself when the Lord calls. They bought his stuff anyway. It’s good stuff.
I still have his gemstone cutting and faceting equipment if anyone is interested.
Then there was my ton of stuff. I found clothes I forgot I had. And didn’t need. Some things only worn once. I asked myself, “Why did you buy all that?” My answer, “I liked it in the store.” (Don’t shake your head. You do it , too. I’ve been shopping with some of you!)
I have downsized. That means I got rid of a lot of stuff I don’t need, so that the smaller house I now live in has room to walk around in.(Don’t look in the garage.) Everybody needs to move once or twice in their life. Very refreshing. Makes you go through your belongings and decide what’s meaningful and what is not.
I kept the important stuff. The things he gave me or I gave him. The furniture we bought and used together. The pictures and the videos. Anything with a precious memory attached.
My life has changed dramatically in the last ten months. My husband’s sudden departure brought on a river of change for me. I retired from public school teaching and moved to a new area. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get everything done and wrap my head around all of the change, but by God’s grace I am moving forward.
I still love him very much. That will never change.
You were enjoying life,
Doing what you do,
Everything just stopped.
Life as you knew it
This was not your choice
You didn’t want this.
and sometimes dark.
You take one day at a time.
You’ve turned into mush.
The thin wall around you
Is all that’s holding you together.
The world that was,
Is getting dimmer.
A new normal persists
And tries to take over.
The future beckons you
A framework begins to take shape,
The Creator’s hint of a plan.
It was there all the time.
You rest in Him
Realizing His plan is perfect.
At the right time,
when all is in place,
You will emerge
From this covering,
A new creature.
Stronger than the one
Who entered the cocoon,
You will be mature and capable
He Taught Us a Thing or Two, Pt. 5
The poem entitled If, written by Rudyard Kipling, helps us to see why Frank was often called a “real man” by those who knew him. Not only was he tough, he was wise.
“If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master,”
“If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
Mr. Kipling no doubt penned these words after meeting someone like Frank.
I miss your wisdom, Frank, and your comforting words telling me whether whatever was bothering me was worth my time or not.
I miss the hugs that said, “You are okay. Don’t let a problem define you.” (So I wouldn’t. You taught me to learn from the problem, and I did. Every time.)
I miss the heart that soaked up my tears and replaced my fears with love.
I miss you, Frank.
We all do…
April 1950 – Nov 2014
My husband, a modern-day Daniel Boone, was an adventurous spirit. He had been a skilled woodsman since childhood (He roamed the woods around their home and hunted small game successfully with a .22 rifle when he was nine.) We have a newspaper clipping his mom saved showing the time when, as a young boy, he killed a bobcat with a stick. He loved wide open spaces and the adventure that awaited around each curve in the path.
He was an expert at cast-net fishing. He knew how to call up a turkey, and wait on a buck. When he hunted or fished, he brought home supper.
He would eat anything. The more unusual the dish, the better he liked it. His favorite TV show was “Bizarre Foods” with Andrew Zimmern.
He was a pipefitter with worldwide credentials. His work had taken him from one environmental extreme to another. In the late seventies, he spent a little over a year in the 120 degree heat of the Saudi Arabian desert, and recently worked where the wind chill factor drops to -84 (not exaggerating) on the North Slope of Alaska. (They had to stay inside if the wind chill factor fell below -50.) Where most folks would shrivel, he thrived.
He had followed his dream, his passion. Every day was an adventure. He amazed me with the sacrifices he was willing to make and the risk he was willing to take for our family. And I have always appreciated it. When I would tell him how amazing he was, and how I was so impressed with his courage to go forward no matter the risk, ( -84 degrees, really!?! ) he would look at me with that little smile and say, “If you’re gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough.”
Why do I tell you all of these things? Because he wouldn’t. He didn’t think his skills were amazing. He just felt ordinary. And sometimes he felt less than ordinary. A teacher told him at one point in his life that he was not smart because he struggled to read.
The truth is, he was smart. He struggled to read because he went to four different schools in first grade. Not good for a solid foundation in reading. His family had to move around to find work. He had to figure the reading thing out himself in spite of teachers who would rather label him than bridge the gaps. He was determined to prove them wrong. And he did. He worked hard, bridged the gaps himself, and graduated in spite of the label.
He not only graduated, but worked and used his skills and talents to further his education and build the credentials he had to be able to go where he went, do what he did, and earn what he earned. What a life!
And he lived this way until November 7, 2014, the day God opened Heaven’s door and welcomed him home.
And I also tell you these things because someone may have labeled you incorrectly once (or every day for an entire school year). Learn from this great man : Don’t let a label hold you back. God has gifted you. Go with your passion. Pray and find the destiny He had in mind for you the day you were conceived.
Be someone’s hero.
Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you…
If you are in a position that is constantly asking you to give of yourself- doctor, nurse, pastor, teacher, mother, father, and others- you may at times find yourself empty.
Some years ago, we had a program used by our faculty and staff to “fill up our buckets.” The promoter of the program gave us a demonstration of a small pail being filled to the brim one drop at a time to illustrate how we can stay full by dropping compliments and praises into each other’s “buckets.”
The words must be genuine and concrete like, “I appreciate the way you …
Have your students pick up before I vacuum your room.”
Collaborate with other teachers.”
Arrive at work on time everyday.”
Contributed that idea yesterday at our meeting.”
We had little sheets of paper in the shape of drops. Some mornings we would find a “drop” or two in our teacher’s mailbox. This started our day on a positive note and made us feel appreciated, good about the work we were doing.
We did this for quite a while. It lifted each of us up and we felt great doing it. We were full. There was a bounce in our step and strength for the day. The principal liked the atmosphere it engendered at our school and strongly encouraged us to keep it up.
Then the novelty wore off and we’d forget to write them. Or we’d write something just to say we did it. Insincerity killed the program. Sucked the life-giving moisture right out of it.
We kept doing our jobs, giving of ourselves at work and took stuff home to do. You don’t know you are draining out slowly until you are empty.
Then I realized something. It is not someone else’s responsibility to make sure I am replenished. It is my responsibility.
I realized something else, too. Real fullness doesn’t come from other people; it comes from God.
I can be replenished every morning by drinking in God’s Word and praying. In the praying, I must take time to listen. Tune out every noise and stop talking. Just listen to Him. It might take a few minutes to totally tune out the world and my own wants and needs, but it is so worth it to sense the Presence of the Lord. The day begins on a positive note and my “bucket” is full. There is a bounce in my step and strength for the day.
A compliment from a colleague for something well done is still welcome and very much appreciated, but not necessary.
For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:9-10 NKJV)
And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. (John 1:16 NKJV)
When you find yourself empty, tap into Him and receive His fullness. His life giving water will fill your bucket to the brim and running over.
Recently I had the distinct privilege of caring for two of my daughter’s six foster children who call me Grandma. Heading into town to have some fun, in the car with me were two year-old Cody and four year-old Hannah.* They are true siblings and both very bright.
Hannah could not see the digital clock on my car dashboard and asked what the time was. I told her it was 9:42. We would get to the mall about the time the stores would open. About ten seconds later, she asked again about the time. I looked and responded again, “9:42,” thinking she didn’t hear me the first time.
She replied, “Do your clock wook?”
I laughed out loud, “Yes, darlin’ it works.”
I realized she had heard me and this precious child’s time frames are different than mine. Ten seconds to her computes to at least a minute or more and in her mind the clock should have changed.
Waiting is not fun. She was ready to get there, get out of the car seat, and enjoy herself in the mall.
How often have I wanted to ask God, “Do your clock wook?”
* not their real names.