A bride’s tale

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About four months ago, I stayed with my in-laws over the Thanksgiving holiday. And for the first time, we used my husband’s grandmother’s room. Her name is Alice. We used her bedroom because Alice needed more medical care than normal, and had been staying at a rehabilitation facility since October. And so, while sleeping in Alice’s bed and using Alice’s bathroom, I was struck by what surrounded me. It was all of her stuff. Loads of it. Bottles and tubes and compacts and sprays. And in November, my realization was that no matter what age a woman is, she wants to feel pretty. Whether she’s 9 or 90, a woman cares about how she looks.

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I snapped lots of photos thinking I would use them one day in a blog. And so, I find today is that day for Alice passed on last night. And despite my having a list of a thousand things to do, I pause for just a moment to remember this woman. See, she was 89 years old and I’ve known her close to 18 of those years. At the very least, she deserves a moment of my time. And so, I consider Alice. Honestly, one of the first things that comes to mind is painted nails. Her fingernails were always presentable. And always colored. And not a demure, faded pink, either. No, Alice went for bold colors. When I saw her this past Monday, she had purple nails adorned with flowers. The nails gave testimony to her personality, for in earlier days, she was a force.

And when I say earlier days, I mean up to about a month ago. Oh, she may have been in a nursing facility, but that doesn’t mean that she was a sinking ship. No, not Alice. She clung to life. And it was just a month ago that she was made Queen at the Valentine’s banquet where she was staying. I saw her picture displayed in the foyer when we went to collect her things… bright dress, crown and flowers. She looked completely different than the woman I saw on Monday. And what tales I heard. She danced at that banquet. A lot. And I heard that she was an inspiration to everyone at that facility, for she breathed fresh life into the place. The nurse who came to visit Alice yesterday shared the tales of Alice. And before leaving, she deposited no less than 20 kisses on Alice’s cheek. So many had sent by her, “Kiss Alice for me…”

Yes, Alice loved colorful nails. She loved life, and dancing, and laughing. And really, she just loved being the center of attention. For she had no fear of crowds and enjoyed interacting with people. Anyone would do. She just wanted to be a part of what was happening. Like many moons ago when she came to visit us. We were at church one Sunday, and when the question was posed, “Do we have any visitors today,” Alice stood right up to boldly proclaim her name. As I said, no fear. Not an ounce of shyness resided in those bones.

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Alice, who had bold nails and a zest for life, also had another love. Baubles and gems. Necklaces and rings of every color, shape and size. If Alice had an errand, she went out in style, her clothes coordinating with her jewelry. Always. Well, at least till the end. For this woman named Alice was nearing 90, her birthday just two months away. And ever since her big night when she was not just the queen, but the life of the party, pieces of Alice have been stripped away. And yesterday morning, well, she just didn’t look like herself. For her hair was undone and her nails bare. Legs that once moved with rhythm laid still. Rather than a watch, her arm was adorned with a hospital bracelet. And rather than chains of gold, tubes fell along her chest. A body that once displayed brilliant pinks, was draped instead with a drab hospital gown. Yes, 89 years had taken their toll, and her body finally gave way as the glow of life within her faded. What remained of Alice was a shell. Her sparkle was gone.

You know, in recent days, I’ve heard the church being referred to as the bride of Christ. It stuck out because honestly, that’s a hard concept for me to comprehend. But today, in light of Alice’s passing, I find it beautiful to behold. Because Alice, being part of the church, is also His bride. And I wonder if that’s why she held so tight to this life at the end. I wonder if she just didn’t feel ready. Because she was stripped of all that she so loved in this world. Where were her scents and polishes and baubles? The glitzy necklaces and sparkly rings were no where to be found. And truly, what bride wants to meet her Groom undone? What bride wants to walk down the aisle minus all the things that make her feel lovely? What woman doesn’t want to feel pretty on her special day?

And so, at this I smile. Because today I know that what Alice adored so in this life is now a part of her ever after. And I see that she didn’t need a strand of pearls or a shade on her lips, for indeed, she is adorned by heaven itself today. And graced with the colors of eternity, what woman could be more beautiful? No, she had no need of pearls, for the gates of heaven become her pearls. And what need of golden chains had she, for the very street she travels is gold. No, Alice didn’t need bold polish on her nails as she exited this life, for at this moment, she is surrounded by such brilliant color. Alice, who loved bright nails and dancing and laughter and colorful gems, is now encompassed by the very things that brought her such joy in life. For she’s a bride. And she’s dancing and laughing in glorious color. Yes, Alice colored herself here. But there, color is so much more than she could ever have imagined.

The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald,  the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. Revelation 21:19-21

Yes, Alice has passed on to the other side. I feel sure of it. For it was Tuesday late afternoon when she roused a bit. She twitched and jerked for a moment, then looked to the right. Her eyes opened wide and she smiled. And twice she said it… “Peter.” We all wondered who Peter was. And then we smiled. We thought, it’s true! Peter is at the pearly gates. Perhaps it was he that walked her down the aisle.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=don+henley+leather+and+lace&qpvt=don+henley+leather+and+lace&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=1CBC726D75E6F7EFC1151CBC726D75E6F7EFC115

know your yesterday

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The Big Brag, Dr. Seuss

A year ago, my motives were pure and my mission was clear. I simply wanted to proclaim God and prove that He is in our very midst, even in the most mundane of circumstances. Thus, if you open your eyes a little bit wider and if you pause just a little bit longer, you can really see… ordinary becomes extraordinary. But when we bustle through life, as most of us do, the supernatural can be missed. We must be intentional about it. Pause. Look. Reflect. And then see.

…on your bed, reflect in your heart and be still. Psalm 4:4b

This morning I visited my “about” page. See, the blog’s one year anniversary came about last week and I wanted to remember. I wanted to reflect, if you will, as to what prompted me to blog in the first place. And in truth, I’ve been wondering if I should continue. But you know… what I find there brings a smile to my face. Because I find that a quickly typed thought of yesterday has become so precious to me today. In fact, a mere idea of a year ago has become my passion for today: know your yesterday…

February 25, 2013: And here I sit, mind brimming, thoughts churning, and my most pressing thought? What first? Where to begin? I could start with today, but for me, yesterday is so important.

I see that yesterday was important to me then, but even more so today. Perhaps it’s because of my present circumstances. See, I’ve been looking back. And looking back. And my goodness, when I think I’m done, I find I’m looking back once again! I want to go forward, I really do. For I’m anxious to move forward from where I’ve been paused. Because I think this has gone on long enough. I mean, how much looking, reflecting and seeing can one person do? And so, I ask God repeatedly, “Why am I still here? Why am I still looking back?” For every time I think I’m ready to move forward and make a difference in His kingdom, I find I cannot take a step. I’m stalled. And honestly, I’m beginning to feel guilty about all this introspection. As a matter of fact, I feel 100% selfish wearing these inward goggles for so long. And so, writing has been hindered. Because embarrassment has settled on my soul. And I begin to wonder about other people… if someone follows these blogs, will they wonder the same about me? Will people think I’m narcissistic and that this blog would be more aptly named “the truth about me.” And so, confidence shaken, writing stills. I’ve been on pause as I’ve sat here with nothing else to do but look, reflect, and see. And so, a month ago, I finally did.

Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his own face in a mirror; for he looks at himself, goes away, and right away forgets what kind of man he was. James 1:23-24

This was a convicting verse to me. Because I have paused and looked and oh, how I have reflected as I’ve pored through 18 journals (yes, that’s right… 18 of them in four years time). And most importantly, I see what’s undone. For despite hearing from God over and over and over again - His words to me, written out by my own hand – I have failed to act on what He’s shown me. Throughout the pages of every journal, it’s there. It refuses to go away. And thus, I get a good look at the real me. Not the one everyone else sees, but the one that God sees. And she ain’t pretty. Because I’ve seen the truth about God and me too many times now… I know I hold tight to the very thing that’s a blemish to my insides. Pride is so deeply ingrained, that for the life of me I cannot seem to shake it. How many more times can He tell me to put it behind me. And so, through the words of a man named James, I really see my pride. And I see me. And for perhaps the first time, I see me as God sees me. A woman who has heard God’s word, and heard it, and heard it… and yet, she fails to act on it. A hearer of His word only, not a doer.

You know, James 1:23-24 tells of a man looking at his reflection in a mirror, but then, he forgets what kind of man he was. The wording in the HCSB version is “he is like a man looking at his own face,” and that word “own” means natural. It means the face of his birth. Essentially, it means where he came from. In a sense, his yesterday. And the man fails to do what he knows he should do. He doesn’t act on what God shows him about himself. In reading this passage of Scripture, I see a picture of me. And I get a glimpse of what this blog has turned out to be. For it’s my mirror. Through it, I’ve been reflecting on my past. At first, I went back a few years. But as the year progressed, I looked back further. For He wanted me to see my natural man. He wanted me to remember the face of my birth. It was as if He were bidding me, “Know your yesterday.”

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It was one month ago when I read this passage of James and the words spoke deeply. But it was the picture beside the verses that nearly took my breath away. For a picture of a bronze mirror assured me God was speaking directly to me through a man named James. See, I had just finished reading about the Old Testament temple… about how God’s presence resided inside that dwelling. However, before a priest dared approach Him, there were steps to be taken, one being the bronze laver. It was where the priest washed before stepping behind the veil into His presence. At the laver, he cleansed himself. And you know the most astounding thing… Exodus 38:8 tells that the bronze laver was made from bronze mirrors. So the bronze laver, where the man of God cleansed himself, must have been reflective. Perhaps in looking through the waters, he caught a glimpse of his natural face peering up. Perhaps in running the waters through his hand, he remembered… the face of his birth and from where God brought him. In fact, he may have reflected on his yesterday and who he once was, and perhaps was still. And perhaps it was then, when he got a really good look at himself, that he was met with humility. Because he saw

Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness,
You who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn,
And to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.” Isaiah 51:1

One year to clarity. One year of pausing. One year of writing and examining my past. One year of reflecting on the old (and the not so new) me. And one year to see. The blog, which I hoped would be an encouragement to everyone else, becomes encouragement to me. For it’s my mirror. And through it, I see the face of my birth reflecting back at me. Oh, it may be true I haven’t changed much in many years. But I have hope. Because the blog is still the truth about God & me, after all. It’s just that for me to see God as He really is, I first have to see me as I really am.

Ironically, the fact that my confidence has been shaken gives me hope that I’m changing. And though some would view shaky confidence in a negative light, I see it as a positive. Because for once, I’m not as sure of myself. And lack of reliance in me leads to more faith in Him. And this alone gives me hope that this time is real… that the inward goggles really worked this time around. Because I think I see something new. I believe, through the murky waters of my words, I see the beginnings of humility. Incredibly, backlit by reflective bronze, a humble countenance is peering back at me. And what astounds this prideful soul, is that the reflection looking back is me.

God’s message is clear. He says… “Pause, look, reflect, and see.” He wants me to remember my yesterday. And if it takes a year, then so be it. Because before moving forward with Him, I have to see.

“Childhood scenes rushed back at me out of the night, strangely close and urgent. Today I know that such memories are the key not to the past, but the future. I know that the experiences of our lives, when we let God use them, become the mysterious and perfect preparation for the work He will give us to do.” The Hiding Place, by Corrie ten Boom with John and Elizabeth Sherrill

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=man+in+the+mirror&FORM=VIRE2#view=detail&mid=1A690CC65A6CCAD7BFE41A690CC65A6CCAD7BFE4

Like a drum!

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Clearly, you are a letter from Christ showing the result of our ministry among you. This “letter” is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on tablets of stone, but on human hearts. 2 Corinthians 3:3

It was yesterday that I felt it. I went to a women’s Bible study and watched this hour long video. I was captivated by every word spoken. And then, at the very end, my heart began to beat. I felt it. It thudded in my chest and throughout my limbs. I could hear it in my ears. A loud, steady pounding. It lasted about two or three minutes. Thud. Thud. Thud. Just like a drum. And I had to sit there choking back tears. I was thankful for that heartbeat. Because it’s one I haven’t felt in quite some time. And this type of beating is not one that merely proves I’m alive… that I exist. No, this sort of pounding reminds me of what I sometimes doubt. It tells me that I’m really His. And it tells me that He hasn’t forgotten me. That He still has purpose for my life. No, I’m not as dead as I thought I was… for there’s life inside me. It’s my heart beating just like a drum.

You know, I just celebrated my 41st birthday last month. I’ve now roamed this earth over 14,965 days. But this month, I celebrate another type of birthday. For it was seventeen years ago (sometime in February) that I officially became a Christian. You know, I said a prayer and hoped for the best. I was moved then, too, for I remember the tears. But you know… I don’t I recall a heartbeat then. So much time has elapsed and I didn’t journal so I can’t say for sure. But I wonder today… did my heart beat like it did yesterday when I said some words I thought I was supposed say? Did I feel a thud, thud, thud in my chest and ears all that time ago? Like a drum beating?

After becoming a Christian, I did all those things I thought I was supposed to do. When asked, I said yes to working with teen girls although they knew far more than I did. Most specifically, they knew God. When I moved away from North Carolina, I tried to be good but failed miserably and lived under a cloud of guilt. It was not till 2004 that I attended church once more. But you know, despite knowing all the right words and all the right actions, there was something so fundamental I had missed along the way. Although I appeared to have it all together, and seemed to be a spiritual person, I was far from it. And so, bypassing a relationship with God, I began to serve again because I thought it’s what I should do. And because I thought I should work, I did what was comfortable to me. I worked with kids. And over time, I became bitter and resentful about what I was doing. Because although working with kids is a good thing, it wasn’t my thing.

And then one day, out of the blue, something extraordinary took place. It had to have been January of 2009 when I felt something inside me. There was movement. I was at church and a friend of mine spoke of a women’s service to take place in February. She wanted someone to share their story. And then the first beat. Quietly at first, but it grew louder and stronger with each thud. The steady rhythm echoed throughout my whole body reaching through the ends of my fingers and filling my ears. This had never happened before. And so, after the service, I knew I had to do something. Perhaps inspired by God for the very first time, I dared to approach my friend. I told her… I think it’s me. This foreign beating of my heart coinciding with my friend’s request was of God. He wanted me to speak in front of a crowd… completely out of my comfort zone.

And I did speak, as I should. But afterward, nothing changed. When the next opportunity arose, I volunteered to work with kids once more. Because they were comfortable. And so, resentment piled upon resentment and bitterness grew in astronomical proportions. Until the late Summer of 2010. Something came up. And I couldn’t sit still as the passion ignited in me. There was to be a Bible study for women. And my friend and I were to lead it. And so we did. But alas, I moved and joined another church. And when asked… I said yes to working with the children.

And so today, I realize something incredible about that heartbeat. Because it occurs to me that perhaps the heartbeat has always been there. Is it possible that I’ve been so busy doing what I shouldn’t be doing, that I just couldn’t feel it? Is it possible that during the winter of 2009, God awakened within me my true heart? Just maybe that beating in my chest was God stirring me. He knew I was trying my best to serve Him. But He also knew it was out of a sense of obligation. Perhaps He was telling me what to do then. Was He gracing me with a glimpse of His plans, but I just didn’t grasp it? Was it five years ago that God called me to work with women? Was it in January of 2009 when the passion I have for His daughters was birthed within me? For I know there are many women who quietly die in church pews every Sunday. I know that they cannot feel their heartbeat… just like there are times I cannot feel mine. And I so long for them… just as I long for me.

And yet, here I am today. I am still working with children. But yesterday, in a women’s Bible study, I felt it. It was like a drum. My heart thudded in my chest and through my limbs. I heard it in my ears. Bump, bump, bump…. loudly, steadily. And I knew. God awakened my spirit once more. He reminded me that I’m His. And He reminded me of my passion… of a calling. Through that thudding, I know He has work for me. But this work isn’t duty bound. No, this work has something to do with the resurrected heart that pounds within me. It has everything to do with a spiritual beat. For that thump, thump, thump I feel only occasionally… that beating I feel throughout my whole being… that’s really His heart. For what pounds like a drum is God’s heart as it beats in mine.

This year I can see. I realize that January and February are times of celebration. For these are my birthdays. I was physically born in January and spiritually born in February. But now I see there’s another birth to celebrate. For it was five years ago that God awakened my true heart. He gave me a passion for His dying daughters. It was five years ago that God called me to serve… but not children as I’ve been doing for so long. No, my heart… and His… is for His girls.

Oh yes… there’s a heartbeat. Steady and thumping like a drum. May it never stop.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 26:36

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=like+a+drum+baby+don’t+stop+beating+lyrics&qpvt=like+a+drum+baby+don%27t+stop+beating+lyrics&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=B2D4844D5F57AB0531D9B2D4844D5F57AB0531D9

The significance of a bracelet…

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“Set up signposts,
Make landmarks;
Set your heart toward the highway,
The way in which you went.
Turn back, O virgin of Israel,
Turn back to these your cities.
How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:21-22

I lost a bracelet Friday. It wasn’t valuable monetarily and it was really quite simple. Nonetheless, it was priceless to me. For this wasn’t just any bracelet. It was the one I had worn for nearly twenty years. I was twenty-one when my friend, Carmen, gave it to me. And sadly, I lost touch with her long ago. But then, we were inseparable. She gave me the thin, silver band as a parting gift before she moved to Germany. And I was delighted with the piece of jewelry. For many reasons, I guess.

Me and Carmen… Oklahoma… 1994

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In think one reason I adored that bracelet stemmed from my high school days. I just didn’t have a lot of jewelry. Unlike my best friend, who had amazing jewelry. A lot of it. I confess, I was nearly green with envy. Oh, how I coveted her silver collection. Not to mention her make-up, stuffed closet and CD collection. Yep. I did a lot of coveting my junior and senior years. I wanted what she had. And so, when my friend gave me a lovely piece of jewelry, I don’t think she knew how much it would mean to me.  I added it to the few pieces I already owned… some inexpensive earrings, a few bracelets, two silver rings and a class ring. Oh, there was one diamond ring. However, one of the diamonds was missing. That’s a story for another day.

And so, there was a bracelet. A thin, silver band. At first, although I wore it often, I didn’t wear it every day. But over time, I began to wear it more and more. Eventually, I began to sleep in it, bathe in it, swim in it. I lived with that bracelet attached to me. It became a part of me. Oh, I may have added another bracelet to my wrist alongside the first. But Carmen’s bracelet stayed put. It was rare that I didn’t have it on. In fact, it was a few months back when I thought I should remove it. I took it off for a while, but it felt unnatural. I felt naked, and so the piece of silver quickly made its way back to its rightful home. And there it stayed. A piece of me. Until Friday when I lost it.

In thinking back on my journeys, I realize that bracelet did some traveling, too. It was such a part of me, in fact, that it’s attached to many significant moments in my life. It was there when I went to Korea…

Korea… 1994-1995

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The bracelet adorned my wrist when I moved to Savannah and fell in love.

Savannah, GA… 1996

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It was there when we dated, when he proposed to me, and during our engagement.

Fall 1996                                                                   October 1997

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Winter 1998

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Then there were the days before the wedding. Look closely and you’ll see the bracelet remained. Through the shower and the day before I said, “I do.” The bracelet was a part of me. A part of my life.

Spring 1998

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Me & mom, June 1998            My mother-in-law made my dress

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The bracelet held fast to my arm through the honeymoon… and even when the honeymoon was over, for we had our first marital tiff.

                      June 1998                                                  Scowl on face, July 1998

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The bracelet endured… through our first two moves.

                Pennsylvania, 1999-2000                                     New York, 2000-2001

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There were special occasions… like my high school reunion. By the way, this is me and my dear friend. She had all the cool jewelry when we were seniors. And I know for fact that she still does as we just had lunch recently.

Virginia, 2001

sarah and pam

There were more moves, more occasions, more events, more life. Me and my bracelet…

                             North Carolina, 2001                     Another part of NC, Karaoke party for one, 2003-2004

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First (only) cruise, Spring 2005                         Labor Day weekend with Daddy, 2005

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The bracelet was always there. Even for the miracle of new life.

2006… expectancy

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2006… sheer exhaustionDSCF0625DSCN16832006…. baby dedication. More exhaustion as evidenced by bags under eye.

And then, the tiredness waned. The fun began. The bracelet stayed put.

2006, laughs DSCN2003HPIM0195_00822007, sips

2007, walks DSCN2897

I wore that bracelet on vacations…

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And I wore it when my deepest desire became reality. God sent me back home. After six months, we settled in a house in my home town. And within a year, we put down roots.

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2010 – 2013

All these pictures evidence the journey of my life. And the significance of a bracelet? It was a part of me. Always. It was there for everything. From Oklahoma to Korea to Georgia to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to New York. Back to multiple locations in North Carolina and ultimately… Virginia. My home. And so on Friday, when I looked down and found the bracelet wasn’t where it should be, I was surprised. It was as if part of me was gone. But rather than sadness that something valuable to me was lost… I felt expectant. Rather than grieve over a thin piece of silver that held so many good memories… I look forward instead. Because I believe I’m supposed to.

You know… I haven’t written since January 17. It was just before my birthday and I wrote about the significance of the date… January 22, 1973. Roe v. Wade. And then, eleven years later came sanctity of human life Sunday. The day of my birth is fraught with significance. And so, I shared about my past. I told of things I had done that I wish I hadn’t. And I realized it’s those things I’ve been carrying with me all this time. Along with the good, it’s regret that’s been attached to the bracelet… attached to me. I just didn’t know it. Because for so many years, I thought I was fine. And in looking at these pictures, I look fine. I look happy. But smiles are only skin deep and brokenness can be hidden. And all of this has come to the forefront of my heart and mind these past few weeks. And I find that through the insignificant act of losing a bracelet, I find a promise. I find significance.

So much has taken place in a matter of days… so much deep within that words fail me. And so, all I can do is tell about a bracelet. A bracelet… fraught with significance. Priceless in that it held so many memories. All those good ones displayed above. And yet, the rest of my past was attached to the thin, silver band as well. From a covetous heart to a couple of years I wish I could undo. See, the bracelet was a part of me. It held fast to my arm before I returned home, before I had my baby and before I met my husband. The bracelet was there for those things I don’t want to remember. All that regret. And yet, I wore it always. It was part of me. Until Friday. And so, January 31, 2014 becomes significant. As significant as the bracelet I lost. Because in the removal of a silver band that held me to my past, I find that I am now free to move forward. Expectant once again.

Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert
. Isaiah 43:19

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=bless+the+broken+road&qpvt=bless+the+broken+road&FORM=VDRE#view=detail&mid=C3F576A4366029220DE5C3F576A4366029220DE5

January 22, 1973

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Your eyes saw me when I was formless; all my days were written in Your book and planned before a single one of them began. Psalm 139:16

Abortion. I hate the word. And it’s a topic I like to avoid because I’m one of those cowardly folks who avoid conflict. I always have and sometimes I wonder if I always will. Because when I look to the root of it – why I avoid conflict – I see it’s because I’m a people-pleaser. For some crazy reason, I want to be liked by everyone. Always have and sometimes I wonder if I always will. And so obviously, with abortion being such a sticky subject and the cause of great division, I avoid the topic. But my realization for today is that as long as I continue on my present course, hoping to please everyone I encounter, I will never fulfill God’s purpose for my life. Oh, hiding out from the abortion debate may gain me a few friends, but at what cost?

Last year about this time, I had an epiphany. I was struck with the realization that I was turning 40 along with Roe v. Wade. See, we share a birthday. On the day I was born, January 22, 1973, history was made. The day the Supreme Court made abortion legal in the United States was the first day I drew breath. The day I uttered my first baby cry was the day countless other cries went forth in disbelief and anguish. The lusty howls of a newborn baby must have mingled with cries of outrage that winter day. Surely they reached God’s ears at the same time. January 22, 1973. And so, last year I thought, “What am I supposed to do with this?” Because it seemed significant. My birthday. I felt it was no accident that my birth coincided with the birth of death. In fact, it seems as though its shroud has covered me and followed me my whole life.

The battle cry of pro-abortion folks is, “My body, my right!” It must have been about ten years ago when I heard it firsthand. I was riding along with a friend when we passed by an abortion clinic.  There were people standing outside with signs. Pro-lifers. She screamed out with fiery passion, “F * * * you! It’s my body. It’s my right. Don’t tell me what to do!” She was incensed for she had had a couple of abortions. And the truth is, so had I. But despite my doing what I did as a young woman, I no longer felt the same. I didn’t agree with my friend and felt incredibly uncomfortable. But rather than enter a debate about such a hot topic, I kept my mouth shut tight. I let no cry escape my lips. Because as I said, I’m a people-pleaser. I didn’t want anything to change between my friend and I. I wanted her to go on liking me, so I avoided the drama of heated words. I kept silent.

To keep silent or to use my voice. That’s the choice that stands before me today. In past years, I chose silence. It’s easier. But today, I think God calls me to use my voice. I find several synonyms of voice to be interesting especially in light of the abortion issue. For voice can mean “right to be heard,” and “influence,” and “vote.” And today this all hits home. For pro-abortionists use their voices daily. Loudly. They utilize their right to be heard and influence many and votes are cast. God calls me to do the same. He expects me to utilize my right to be heard, no matter the consequences. Because in truth, people just won’t like me for this.

I had two abortions as a young woman. And when I went to the facilities, not a lot of information was provided to me. But in truth, I didn’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss, right. Why did I do what I did? Because to me, it seemed like a problem. I was not ready for kids. I was unmarried and unstable. And so, I did what the world says is okay to do. However, deep down I knew it was wrong. For I set out before sunrise not telling my dad where I was headed. And incredibly, I had planned a lunch with him and family later that day. Incredibly, I went to lunch afterward. And when my aunt asked, “What have you been up to?” with a glint in her eye, I said, “Nothing.” I hid what I had done. I hid what I knew to be shameful. And now I know why I did it. Because I was selfish. I had dreams and a baby would interfere with my plans. So without any thought, I did the unthinkable. And ever since then, I’ve been journeying through the valley of the shadow of death.

What does abortion do to a woman? For me, the affects came later. Because as I began to walk with God, and delve further into His word, I began to see. But, because I am a woman who avoids conflict, I shoved it down. I wasn’t going to go there. I don’t like conflict with people, and that includes conflict with myself. So I ignored it the issue. And the fruit of that was not trusting God. Because I had two abortions and never dealt with it, I waited for the day that God would pay me back. And I thought it would be through my son… I didn’t trust God with my little boy at all. The first six years of his life, I lived in fear that he would die. As a matter of fact, it was one year ago that I had a crisis of faith over this issue. In January of last year, I believed with all my heart God was going to take my son.

Abortion. It’s a hot topic I usually avoid. As I said, I hate conflict. But when Roe v. Wade was brought to my attention a year ago I knew God had a reason for it. Because I thought… “What am I supposed to do with this?” Not long afterward, this blog was birthed. And today, I just wonder… is it for this purpose? Is it for today? Because I am quite surprised to be writing this. I can assure you this is not my plan. For I was going to write about something altogether different. Something safer. Something that wouldn’t cause such a divide. Something that wouldn’t cause people to dislike me. But these words flowed, instead. His plan, not mine.

You know, despite all I’ve done and the mistakes I continue to make, God is so good to me. Because I learned something new today. It comforts me. See, I may have made my entrance into this world on the day that death was made legal. I may have felt that my destiny was to roam the darkness because of the significance of January 22, 1973; however, some years later, my birthday came to be about more than just Roe v. Wade and me. For in 1984, President Reagan designated January the 22nd as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The date was chosen to coincide with Roe v. Wade’s anniversary, but today, I feel it’s God’s birthday gift to me. Because He knows how I’ve been feeling. He knows how the darkness of my past has hung over me. But today… today I have real hope. Today God gives me the hope of life. Sanctity of Life.

Sanctity of Human Life day is designated to be the third Sunday in January. That’s this Sunday. And so today, I am utterly amazed at how God moves in my life. Because this blog is not my choice. I was going to write about names, and cathedrals, and the tower of Babel. Abortion was not part of the outline. But instead, God moved me to use my voice… my right to be heard… to influence… to vote. Today’s writing was His choice, not mine. And that right there is key… His choice. For it’s God who places new life within a woman. He is the one who gives and takes away life. The choice is not ours to make. It’s not our right, as the world so loudly proclaims.

For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know this very well. My bones were not hidden from You when I was made in secret, when I was formed in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-15

Today God gives me the gift of life. He shows me it is not my destiny to walk in the darkness of death. My bad choices of yesterday do not have to color my world of tomorrow. No, God has another destiny for me. One of light and one of life. Sanctity of life. And He wants me to use the voice He gave me to proclaim this life.

Today I choose to exercise my rights in this way… to speak out against abortion. And the truth is, people won’t like me for it.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live… Deuteronomy 30:19

Say Something!

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Mother and Child

Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction, and don’t reject your mother’s teaching, for they will be a garland of grace on your head and a gold chain around your neck. Proverbs 1:8-9

There are times when I go back to read something I’ve written and feel amazed. And I can’t even believe it was me. Like today. I just read my “About” page and see that I had total focus and clarity. I knew the goal of the blog this past February. Because at that time I felt such a connection to God. I was absolutely sure of His plan for me. For I heard Him through His word, life circumstances, people, nature and song. The God of all creation spoke to me and I found that to be incredible. But as with life, there are ups and downs and highs and lows. And when January rolled around, I found myself low. Again.

I have to say that over the course of the past few years, I’ve had more lows that I care to mention. In fact, there have even been a few times when I just wanted to give up on God. Once or twice, I felt that following God was just too hard, and even muttered aloud, “I quit!” But inevitably, I always found myself pulled back into His embrace. In the end, I always ran back to Him. Because in truth, I can’t imagine Him not being a part of my life. How could I possibly think I could move forward without Him? For He is my heavenly Father and I am His child. I’m His. And what comforts me today is that even during the dark times, when I think I’m leaving Him behind, He never forgets me. Never. For His word reminds me…

“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!” Isaiah 49:15

And so for today, I stand amazed in His presence once more. For I understand. And with increasing regularity, I find that it’s my own child who leads me into understanding. See, my son and I have gone around and around with one issue. His listening skills. In fact, it was last week that I was so incensed I had to hold back until I could gain control. I called out to him while he wasn’t more than three feet away. But rather than his turning to me with listening ears strapped on, he began singing out, “La, la, la, la,” over and over again. And for some crazy reason, I tried to talk over him rather than grab him by the shoulders and make him turn and listen. Can you imagine? And it’s no surprise that I was LIVID when he didn’t hear what I said. And so, we had a not so fun moment and tears ensued as he tried to explain that he didn’t hear me.

And today, I am quite certain, God feels the same with me. Because ever since the beginning of January, I’ve been crying out to God over and over, “Oh, I need a word. Please speak to me. Show me something new. Talk to me, Lord.” And Psalm 5 and 6 penned by King David seemed to point out the obvious. For David emotionally cried out to God as well. He asked that God hear his groaning, his tears, his weeping, his plea, his prayer, his words, his sighing, his cry and his voice. That’s where I noticed it. Through all my moaning and groaning and pleas and cries, my clanging in God’s ears must sound the same as my son singing out, “La, la, la.” How in the world can I hear him if I never shut up? How can I focus on His words when I’m too intent on my words?

My Son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, listening closely to wisdom and directing your heart to understanding; furthermore, if you call out to insight and lift your voice to understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it like hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and discover the knowledge of God. For the LORD gives wisdom; from His mouth come knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 2:1-6

Yesterday, I heard Him. I had been pleading, “Say something!” But God had already said it. Not only that, it was something He’s spoken to me more times than I can count. How weary He must be of repeating Himself. Just as I feel when I have to tell my son four times to put away a pair of shoes. “Please say something, God!” His response, “I’ve told you again and again. Put this away. Until you stop this behavior, we can go no further.” Basically, my heavenly Father is saying, “Enough! Listen to me and do as I say.” Like I say to my own son.

Today, I’m thankful. I’m thankful that God made me a mother. Because I love my child. I love him. There is nothing he can do that will ever change that. And he can pretend he’s upset with me and turn his back on me and tell me he doesn’t want my hugs and kisses. But I know he wants them. Even those times when he says he doesn’t want to make up. Oh, he may try to leave me behind, but in truth, he can’t go on without me. In fact, he can’t imagine a life without me, for I’m his mother. And this right here is how I can understand God’s love for me. It’s through my child that God has taught me so much. He shows me how I need to grow and how I should be disciplined. But more than that, He shows me how He loves me.

…and a little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

Today, I’m so glad that God repeats Himself. Like I do with my own son… over and over and over again. I know that God will never give up on me. He will never stop loving me. And because He’s my heavenly Father, He will never stop instructing me. He will tell me what I need to hear as many times as I need to hear it. Because one day, I’ll stop la-la-la-ing and really listen! I’ll hear Him when He says something. And then, I’ll obey my Father. As every child should.

Bitter Fruit

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Youth

I’ve been duped. Deceived. And oh, how crafty he is. For he first introduced himself to me when I was tender and naïve. Young and awkward and so incredibly shy, I would hide behind my mom’s skirts avoiding eye contact with most people. Money was not flowing, so my clothes were hand-me-downs or from thrift stores. My home was an apartment on the backside of the store with a cow pasture as my view. And at first, none of this bothered me. But as I grew, shame set in. It was when I began school and saw all the other kids that the serpent planted his seed deep within me. It was then that he smiled at me, offered me his hand along with a taste of his bitter fruit. And I eagerly placed it to my lips swallowing it down whole. All of it. For he knew what would hurt me the most. And so, he told me his name. I first came to know the evil one as comparison. He peppered me with lies as I grew and I consumed every tidbit.. You’re so shy you can’t even talk. That means you’re stupid! You’re so ugly… look at your friends. How much prettier they are. Look at how she talks and laughs and attracts other people. You’re so dull, I don’t even know why she’s your friend. Look at your clothes… You can’t even afford nice ones.

And so, the sly one knew just when to introduce me to another of his attributes. For when I was a teenager, I encountered him in the form of desire and craving and ambition. Another of his lies gobbled down and tucked away into my heart. Deeply entrenched. I hated myself. I didn’t want to be me anymore. And so, because I didn’t really know what else to do, I joined the military. I got as far away from my home land as I could. I wanted a fresh start. Perhaps there, I would become what I was not. Perhaps elsewhere, I would become successful and desirable and knowledgeable like the friends I grew up with. Anywhere would do as long as it was as far away from my humble beginnings as I could get. Shedding my family and my mistakes and my old skin, I set out for adventure. I set out to be more than I was. I set out to become a new person.

Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and lie in defiance of the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where ever selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. James 3:13-16

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The Garden

Oh, his tricks are not new. It was deception he used in the very beginning and still works like a charm today. He knows how to speak and he covers up the truth. For although wisdom calls out in the streets and she raises her voice in the public squares, the deceiver’s smooth voice silences godly instruction. And he uses a language that God’s creation readily identifies with. He’s fluent in the tongue of desire. His speech tickles the ear…

God took man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.” But, the serpent! He was the most cunning of all the animals that the LORD God made. He spoke to the woman. “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?’” And the woman knew God’s command for He had instructed His creation. But the serpent lied. He deceived. And so, the woman saw that the tree was good for food. It was delightful to look at. And it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and she ate… (from Genesis 2 and 3)

Not only did Eve swallow the serpent’s deception along with the fruit, but she offered the same to Adam. The deceiver interjected a lie into the garden and it spread. And after both ate what they were commanded not to, their eyes were opened and they knew what they didn’t know before. Nakedness. And shame. And fear. For they ignored God’s commands. Rather than hold to His instruction they embraced foolishness instead. For when they disobeyed the LORD, they left wisdom in the dust…

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7

Adulthood

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I’ve been duped. Deceived. And oh, how crafty he is. And his tricks are old ones. For deception is the language he’s used from the very beginning and unfortunately, it still works like a charm today. And when the serpent speaks, he covers up truth. I’ve been reacquainted with the sly one recently. He subtly interjected his voice into my thoughts. And increasingly, it’s him that I hear over all other voices. Even the voice of truth.

I left home at nineteen and indeed, I came home a new person. I am not who I once was. But in truth, some of my insecurities remain. And incredibly, over the course of the past few months, I’ve allowed myself to dialogue with the devil. He reacquainted himself to me through the form of one of his greatest tools… Facebook. And there, comparison speaks loudly. For it’s there I see images of happy, beautiful people. It’s there that I see women making tasty treats for their children and ruing the day their kids set off to school. It’s there that I see friends linking with friends. And so, an old familiar voice whispers in my ear. He offers me a taste of his bitter fruit… and I eagerly place it to my lips and swallow it down whole. Not only do I listen to his lies, but I believe them… Look at you! You’re a horrible mother. Other women can’t bear to let their children walk out the door and you do a happy dance when you get a few minutes alone! You’re awful! Why weren’t you invited to that? They must not like you. In fact, you don’t have any friends. You’re too dull. A prude. Why would anyone want to spend time with you. Not only that, you’re overweight. And boring.

And his lies are endless… his fruit inviting. And so, I fill up on its bitterness leaving wisdom behind. I embrace folly as I leave God’s wisdom in the dust. And as I compare myself to other women, I feel less and less and less. And the more I believe I am less than, the more I remove myself from a world I was once a force in. I hide away in shame. In guilt. In fear. And the serpent dances with glee. For he’s won the game with me.

It’s incredible. I cannot believe I find myself here today. And honestly, I’m a bit surprised. How could I let myself get back here? But you know, I’m also thankful. Because today, I see it. I see the truth. I’ve been feasting on the bitter fruit of the deceiver. But God offers me another fruit. His fruit. His peace. His truth. For wisdom calls out in the streets and she raises her voice in the public squares. I find that wisdom in God’s word. And there, I find His voice. In time, if I allow it, His voice will silence the lies.

Today, I turn to God and His instruction. And as His voice becomes entrenched in my heart and mind, the slippery one becomes more muted. As his lies fade, I gain strength. I decide to shake hands with the devil no longer as I instead cling to God’s outstretched hand. But it’s up to me. Every day the choice is mine… His hand or the serpent’s hand. The voice of truth or the voice of lies. Wisdom from above or wisdom from below. My choice. Because the fruit is there for the taking.

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17

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