The God Who Sees

tile-floorsI was on my hands and knees scrubbing the tile floor around the toilet for the fourth time in a week. Those of you who live with boys know they sometimes miss. Jon is not a boy. He’s a man. And he still misses, way too often for my liking.

As I applied bleach to the grout again, I sighed and breathed out loud, “I hope I can still get down here and do this when I’m 80,” and felt a sudden hopelessness roll over me.

Then I heard a still small voice in the depths of my soul.

“I see you.”

My Bible reading that morning had brought me to the story of Hagar. Hagar was the slave of Sarai, Abram’s wife, obtained in one of their detour trips to Egypt. Hagar came from a culture that worshiped multiple gods. The Egyptians had a god for everything, so Abraham’s god, on her list of imaginative deities, was probably added only to appease the old folks.

Hagar had no rights. She was a nobody. Her duty in life was to fulfill the wishes of another, and when barren Sarai grew tired of waiting for the son God had promised Abram, she did what was a common practice of their culture. Sarai sent Abram to sleep with her slave to claim a son through Hagar. Hagar was forced to become a surrogate mom.

Genesis 16:1-3 “Sarai, Abram’s wife, had no children, but she had a slave girl from Egypt named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “Look, the Lord has not allowed me to have children, so have sexual relations with my slave girl. If she has a child, maybe I can have my own family through her.” Abram did what Sarai said.”

When Hagar became pregnant she realized she now had an advantage over Sarai. Hagar got herself an attitude and who could blame her, really? What’s Sarai going to do to her now that she’s carrying Abram’s child? Someone who’s had no control over her own destiny finally had an edge. Eventually the relationship between the two women became so intolerable, Hagar ran away.

Genesis 6:7-12 finds Hagar beside a spring of water in the desert having a conversation with an angel of God. She was told to go back home and continue to serve Sarai. But God promised Hagar her son, would become a great nation also. He gave her hope.

Not one of Egypt’s gods had ever spoken to her. Not one of them cared enough to show up and reassure a despairing slave girl. But Abram’s God did. And she was amazed.

This God knew who she was. Where she was. And what she needed. This God had eyes to see her and ears to hear her. This God cared!

Then, “the slave girl gave a name to the Lord who spoke to her: “You are ‘God who sees me,’” because she said to herself, “Have I really seen God who sees me?” Genesis 6:13

I realized that day on the floor that God sees me. He said as much.  And every time I get on the floor to scrub again, I am reassured He is pleased. What we determine to be small, insignificant, unseen and even annoying, matters greatly to God.

God sees you driving to work again, that counter you wiped, the laundry washed and folded, the dishwasher you load, the toilet scrubbed, another diaper changed, the gas tank you just filled and each time you help lift that person in and out of his wheelchair.

He sees the smile you brought to someone, the hug you gave, the ride you offered, the meal you cooked.

He sees how tired, desperate and broken you are.

It matters to Him. The unseen is important to Him. That thing done when no one watches. The mundane. The exhausting. The unappreciated. The irritating.

He sees it all and He knows.

Because my God is the God Who Sees!

And He’s your God too.

 

 

It’s Not All About You!

reality checkOur story inspires people. At least, that’s what I hear. That’s what some tell me. I find that fascinating because it usually doesn’t feel the least bit inspiring while living it. It often feels frustrating, lonely, difficult, challenging, frightening and exhausting.

But there’s one thing I’ve figured out about my wise, loving and mysterious God. He enjoys showing up in the middle of our mess! He loves to partner with us to make Himself known.

If releasing the Hebrews from bondage was God’s only objective, He could have swooped into Egypt all by Himself and in any number of ways, set the Israelite nation free.

So what was the long, drawn out process all about? The negotiating, petitioning, plagues and frustration. Moses was only doing what God had instructed. Why wasn’t it easier? Scholars estimate the duration of all the plagues, until Israel’s release, was at least two months and possibly up to a year.

The ancient Egyptians worshiped over 2000 deities. They had a god associated with every aspect of life; agriculture, fertility, water, rain, animals, death, insects, earth, sky, sun and moon. Even Pharaoh was thought to be a god.

While delivering Israel, Jehovah was also trying to reveal Himself to the nation of Egypt as the One True God. The only way to do so was to prove His power greater over all the gods they imagined. Each plague addressed, at least one and maybe more, of their gods.

In His mercy, God orchestrated this series of events to access the heart of Pharaoh and give him opportunity to change. But Pharaoh continually hardened his heart. The ‘ahh-hah’ moment never came. Pharaoh never accepted the revelation of a real God who cared enough about him to speak loudly and clearly, “I AM THE LORD!” not all these other things you worship.

God will go out of His way to make Himself known. If only one Egyptian came to know the One True God in the middle of Israel’s mess, it was worth the struggle. Apparently some believed, because Exodus 12:37&38 tells us, “That night the people of Israel left Rameses and started for Succoth..a rabble of non-Israelites went with them..”

not about meThis thing you’re going through right now might not be only for or about you. It might be so others see God’s power at work in you while He is simultaneously orchestrating your solution.

Don’t be discouraged because your rescue, problem or promise is taking so long. Be patient. Trust the process. Remember others are watching.

Someone else could be changed because of your faith and trust in a time of trouble. Someone else could see God’s power at work in your struggle and have that ‘ahh-hah’ moment.

“When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” Exodus 7:5.

Someone else could come to know He Is Lord, because of what He is doing for YOU!

Exodus 9:29 “All right,” Moses replied. “As soon as I leave the city, I will lift my hands and pray to the Lord. Then the thunder and hail will stop, and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord.”

Exodus 14:4 “I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!”

Exodus 14:17&18 “My great glory will be displayed through Pharaoh and his troops, his chariots, and his charioteers. When my glory is displayed through them, all Egypt will see my glory and know that I am the Lord!”

Resolutions or Revelations?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have a revelation about resolutions. I’m not good at keeping them. And after watching sixty-some New Years come and go, I don’t make them anymore.

I also have a resolution about revelations. IF I spend time listening to the still, small voice of my Heavenly Father, He lovingly reveals areas in my life where I need to change. I can tackle problem areas with greater ease when He enlightens. I move forward in divine grace, instead of by the sheer determination of my limited human effort.

The Creator God of Heaven and Earth and Me, knows what I need better than anyone so I can move forward into the New Year with confidence.

For the One..“who was seated on the throne said,Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:5

No one is more interested and invested in our progress and improvement than God. As we walk in His enabling power, we are continually becoming new and renewed.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

God specializes in New! He specializes in You!

Start a personal revolution. Let His Revelation become your Resolution.

Spend some time listening and surrendering and have a Happy, new and improved you, in 2017!

Merry Messy Christmas!

img_0047Chestnuts roasting on an open fire? Not at our house. Jack Frost rarely nips at our nose (nor do we ever dream of a white Christmas), since we live in Florida. A few Yuletide carols may be sung by a choir at our Christmas service, but since Trinity is a non-traditional, contemporary church, even that’s debatable.

We will have a turkey this year, but no mistletoe and no tiny tots hanging around with their eyes all aglow. Just a Jon who gets up when he feels like it and takes five hours to open ten gifts.

According to this picture perfect Christmas song, our chances for a Merry Christmas are poor indeed. We score about one and a half out of five.

Are you feeling it right now because your Christmas isn’t Hollywood perfect? Cheer up, the first one wasn’t any better:

An unwed, teenage mother.
No baby shower, but plenty of rumors.
A disgraced marriage.
An annoying, inconvenient, tax-registering trip.
A baby born in a barn (with no nurse, diapers or cradle).
Scruffy shepherds as newborn visitors.
A jealous king sending out spies and assassins.
An emergency escape by night to another country.

The truth of Christmas is that God willingly jumped over-His-head-deep into the chaos of earth’s struggles. The First Christmas was so…human. It was scandalous. It was messy. It was so earthly, many passed right on by. And because His arrival seemed nondescript to most, people missed its significance. And still do.img_0048

If it’s not “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” for you and a Norman Rockwell or Thomas Kinkade Christmas depiction is not happening where you are; happiness disregards you, money is tight, relationships stressed, someone deeply loved is gone and greatly missed, or possibly your only Christmas wish this year is for yourself or a sick loved one to heal, there’s no need to collapse in despair. No need to feel alone. No need to be paralyzed with fear.

Real life doesn’t stop for Christmas.

BUT!

Christmas came to invade every detail of our messy human existence and inundate whatever is occurring in our personal universe at the moment.

God came to us as one of us and He understands. He will walk with us through it all if we let Him. Stop, surrender and make room for Him this Season.

And have yourself a Very Merry Messy Christmas now!

“Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord;
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of the Virgin’s womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with man to dwell;
Jesus, our Emmanuel!
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the newborn King!”

 
Home For the Holidays – painting by Norman Rockwell, 1950
Christmas Cottage – painting by Thomas Kinkade, 1990                                                                         “Hark The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley, 1739

The WOW Walk

When our boys were crawling babies and old enough to start noticing and exploring the world around them, Mike would often pick them up and carry them, through the house, outside, in malls or restaurants, just about anywhere at any random moment, and show them things up above their vision. Since they spent their entire day on the floor it was almost impossible to see or know what was up above.wow-walk-1He let them touch clocks, pictures, candles and other things hanging on walls. He showed them flowers, plants, leaves, trees. He let them look out windows, took them into closets and pointed out items on shelves and walked them in restaurant lobbies to let them see whatever was at eye level.

Every item seen or touched was prefaced with, “Wow!  What is that?” Then he would name it and add a simple explanation, “That’s a clock. It’s round. Watch that second hand go. That’s pretty awesome isn’t it?”

Watching their precious faces light up at the discovery of some new wonder was priceless as they absorbed the novelties of their world and every tiny discovery in amazement.

These ‘Wow Walks’, as we came to call them, resulted in Jon’s first word, not being DaDa or MaMa, but “Wow!”

Our nine month old crawling and exploring grandson was with us last week. The first thing Mike did when Asa was comfortable with us holding him, was take him on a “Wow Walk.” He had quite a few of them while he was here, to the point where if he was fussy, his mom or dad would ask him, “Asa, do you want Grampy to take you on a Wow tour?”

The answer was a big smile and outstretched arms. His way of saying, “Yes Grampy, take me, take me.”wow-walk-2As we age and mature, we often lose this childlike sense of wonder. The responsibilities, problems and heaviness of our existence on this planet can easily mire us down, into negativity and despair; things once new and exciting as a child become commonplace. We can see a beautiful sunset, without celebrating it, walk past a rose without smelling it or look at a rainbow without contemplating its mystery. We begin evaluating others through eyes of cynicism or mistrust and miss moments of joy and beauty in everyday life.

Why are we reminded by Jesus to remain, not childish in behavior, but childlike in faith?

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3). I believe He knew how quickly the belief and wonder could fade; after all, He was here, walking as one of us, when He said this.

He also came to return that sense of amazement to life. Not just a, plodding along, trying to keep our head up and survive, sort of reality, but abundance (John 10:10).

Is the wonder and joy of life far from your grasp? Do the problems and struggles you face keep you down? God can lift you up.

Let Him lift you from the floor of limitation. Trust him as a small child trusts a loving grandfather. Reach for Him with outstretched arms. Allow Him to carry you higher and show you great and marvelous things. Lift up your eyes, believing there is much more above and beyond where you are right now.

Don’t settle for a ‘Woe Is Me’ walk through life.

Make it a ‘WOW’ walk!

But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:14

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” Luke 18:17

“The thief comes but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

“But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” Psalm 121:1-2     

“But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3

The Myth of Assumptions

ASSUMPTION: a thing that is accepted as true or as certain to happen, without proof,

Or the Categorizing of People We Don’t Know, Under Labels:file

 

Myth- All people with Down syndrome are always sweet and happy.

Fact- I live with one who isn’t always sweet or happy and know of several others who cry a lot.

Myth- All Puerto Ricans love rice and beans.

Fact- I know one who could care about rice and beans. In fact, I’m a white Yankee from New England and I love rice and beans.

Myth- All black people are thugs and takers.

Fact- I have a lot of wonderful black friends who are hard working, loving and giving citizens.

Myth- All Mexicans are illegal.

Fact- I know people of Mexican descent who are awesome legal Americans.

Myth- All Moslems are terrorists.

Fact- I know of several Moslems that are just as concerned about terrorism as I am.

Myth- All white people hate…anyone else…who isn’t white.

Fact- The white people I know don’t hate anyone. If God made you purple with pink stripes or green with yellow dots, I’d still like you.

Myth- All people living in the south are racist, redneck, hicks.

Fact- Been living in Florida sixteen years, if this is true I sure know a whole lot of really nice non-racist, redneck, hicks.

Myth- All people who disagree with my opinion, lifestyle, and behavior are haters.

Fact- I’ve been married for four decades to a man I sometimes disagree with. We don’t hate each other. Ever.

Myth- All cops are racist murderers.

Fact- I have police friends who pray they never have to draw a gun on anyone and want to go home to their family at the end of each day, like the rest of us.

Myth- All Pentecostals swing from chandeliers.

Fact- I’ve been in Pentecostal/Charismatic type churches most of my life and have never seen anyone swing from a chandelier. In fact I’ve never been in a church building that had chandeliers to swing from.

Myth- All pastors are after your money.

Fact- I’ve been married to a hard working pastor for four decades. He’s never been after anyone’s money, not even mine.

Myth- All Clinton supporters are left wing, communist liberals.

Fact- I know people who supported Hillary and they aren’t communists. They had their own well thought out reasons for wanting her as President.

Myth- All Trump supporters are right wing, racist, homophobic, narrow minded, bigots.

Fact- I know people who supported Trump and they aren’t any of those things. They had logical, personal reasons for wanting him as our nation’s leader.

Myth- God only likes Democrats/Republicans/Libertarians (pick one).

Fact- “God so loved the world…” He didn’t pick and choose. He didn’t die for Trump supporters over Clinton voters. He didn’t die for Pentecostals more than Catholics. He doesn’t love white people more than black or Moslems less than Americans. Jesus came and loved on sinners, publicans, religious leaders, prostitutes, big mouths, crooks, fishermen, soldiers, sick, broken, tired, and messed up people. He loved and died FOR ALL.

So, how about WE THE PEOPLE put away ‘childish things’; end the bullying, name calling, mudslinging (even though our politicians won’t), the kicking, screaming, whining and temper fits because we didn’t get what we wanted and get to the business of making our home, church, neighborhood, community, state and country a better place.

Jesus calls us to a higher standard, “But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” Matthew 5:22.

Can we be mature adults? Stop labeling? Stop categorizing? Stop forcing our agenda on others? Stop believing everyone is our enemy because their opinion, their politics, their social status, their..whatever… is different from our own?img_0885How about we invite that ‘opposing person’ out for coffee or lunch? Sit and really listen to another perspective with an open heart, instead of an angry reply. Honor her/him because God cares about her/him and value her/him for who she/he is instead of tripping over what we want them to be. Give someone a chance when we don’t think they deserve it, because we’d like the same courtesy extended to us.

WE THE PEOPLE can end the division among us and we don’t need a President to tell us how to do that! Let’s freely give others the benefit of a doubt and release all assumptions.

Jesus is our example. We can choose to take up our cross and follow Him. Then the world will know we are His, not by our agreement, but by our love.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.”

1 Corinthians 13:11 “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I stopped those childish ways.”

Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

John 13: 34 “A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 5:43-45 ““You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.”

Wings

I watched it, from my kitchen window, fluttering against the screen, desperate to get out. The butterfly was trapped. It flew in through the large roof opening of our pool frame, a hole the hurricane left behind when a screen came loose in the wind.gulf-fritillary

The butterfly showed no interest in the array of flowers we’ve planted inside, it wanted out and bumped along the side panels until it needed to rest, finally clinging to the screen instead of flying against it.

I dried my hands, grabbed a Rubbermaid container and lid and went out on the deck. I figured if I could trap it inside the container I could set it free, but it flew off before I could catch it.

I grabbed the pool scoop, the thing that looks like a large butterfly net, and followed the creature, gently swiping at it as it darted and glided above my head.

Opening the screen doors on each end of the enclosure, I attempted to guide it to freedom, but it flew too high or darted away in another direction. Butterfly obviously didn’t understand my good intentions. It couldn’t believe I was concerned for its welfare, though several times it was only inches from the open door.

“You’re so close! Come on Butterfly. Work with me. I know this is scary for you but I’m trying to help you here. Why can’t you understand, I’m just trying to help you be free?”

Eventually the butterfly exhausted itself and rested again, on a side screen, within reach and I gingerly set the Rubbermaid container over it and slid the lid underneath. The frightened creature panicked and crashed violently against the walls of the plastic prison.

I carefully carried it outside, far away from the pool enclosure and lifted the lid. The butterfly burst from captivity and soared away above the trees in a joyous dance of freedom.

In every place where my mind, heart and soul are trapped, every obstacle I so violently and fearfully bump up against, every towering wall I encounter with no escape, God is on a continuous rescue mission to set me free. He is there waiting, as I kick against my prison walls, believing I must find my own way out.

He longs to show me how to soar. He patiently moves me closer to the open door, closer to liberty, while my heart flutters in fear and my soul lifts in pride.

My Merciful Father patiently waits until I retreat in exhaustion and there, submit to the gentle nudge of His heart to my own. “Come on Daughter. Work with me. I know this looks scary and you don’t understand, but I’m trying to help you. I’m just trying to set you free. Trust Me.”

With gentle restriction He apprehends me, changes me, and then sets me free to rise above the challenges of my own thoughts, heart and life.

Wings are not meant to fly against obstacles, but over them. Wings take us places we can’t normally go. Wings are meant for freedom.

Today, I submit to God’s capture. I will Trust Him, because soon, confinement will be over.

Freedom will come at last.

And I will soar.

Isaiah 40:31(NKJ) “but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings..”

Acts 26:14-15 (AMP) “ And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew dialect saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick [repeatedly] against the goads [offering pointless resistance].’ And I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And the Lord said, ‘I am Jesus..”

 Galatians 5:1 (ERV) “We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong in that freedom. Don’t go back into slavery again.”

John 8:36 (ESV) “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

 

O Me Of Little Faith

mustard-seedI awoke at 3:42 AM in a heart racing panic and find myself at this place more often than I care to admit. It weighs heavy in the back of my mind, no matter how I try to push it away, the unknown haunts me. What will become of my son when we are no longer here? With the passing of every year, every birthday, his and mine, the question looms larger.

So I guess it’s confession time. It’s time for me to admit, to say it out loud; I don’t trust God in this. My re-occurring fear and worry prove it. I’m convinced no one will take care of him as well as I do, after all I Am Mom and have invested most of my life here. Other than Mike, who else will care enough to do that? I don’t know and the not knowing eats at me, plagues me and some days, consumes me.

Trusting God with a child is a tall order for any parent.  We are so hands on, heart invested, all in, with our kids and it’s easy to default back to a place of worry. But a child, who needs continual, life time supervision and assistance, elevates investment levels to exponential heights. So often I feel like the dad who brought his son to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!” Maybe Jesus understands this parental desperation more than we know. He healed the boy in spite of dad’s wavering faith. And that gives me hope.

I’ve thought a lot about faith. What is it? How does it work? What should it look like in my life? Honest questions from a girl who grew up in a church culture equating struggle, disaster, illness, and tragedy with a condemning lack of faith; feeling failure and shame whenever my sunshine, lollipops and rainbow life disappeared behind onimous black clouds for a season. Understanding what it means to really trust God has been a huge re-learning process for me.

I’ve seen His unlimited goodness and faithfulness through the years, in both the easy and hard places of my life,  but realize I’m still lacking when it comes to radically abandoned trust. I’ve also lived long enough in my Heavenly Father’s amazing grace to understand we are always in process. Every day and every situation brings new opportunities for my faith to rise to higher levels.

An infant isn’t a full grown adult one week, one month or even a year after he is born. He grows incrementally day after day, over the span of many years. And we don’t condemn him for it. A twenty year old will not have the wisdom and experience of a seventy year old. Full maturity comes with time and age. We know instinctively this is the natural order of things, yet we Christ followers can beat ourselves and others up when we are not spiritual giants overnight.

Wayne Jacobsen (thegodjourney.com) put it like this: “I like the process of God winning us to trust. It’s not that we should trust Him or have to act like we trust Him even where we don’t. God wins us…I think life puts us in different points of extremity..but those opportunities when He says, “OK, we’re going to go deeper here, you’re going to get to learn to trust Me more”…I think all of my days I’m still going to find myself in places going, “OK, my trust doesn’t extend here yet, but God let it.” Maybe that’s the Author and Finisher of our faith, He’s going to grow it into a reality…the faith I live in today was not mine to produce but [grew as] I cooperated with Him.”

When Jesus calls out his followers with, “Oh, you of little faith,” we see it as a negative, a criticism, a scolding, but maybe it was more of a reminder than a rebuke.

After all, He said we only need faith the size of a mustard seed to throw a mountain into the sea (Matthew 17:20). A mustard seed is slightly larger than a grain of sand. That’s tiny!  Could He be telling us we don’t need as much as we think, we just need to exercise what we already have and watch it produce? After all He does the work, the miracle, the impossible. We just do the believing.

There’s a tension, a balance, between planning for the future and worrying over it and our manual for living, the Bible, addresses both. Proverbs 6:6-8 tells us to consider the ant who stores up and plans for the days ahead. Jesus tells us to consider the lilies who don’t fret or toil but are clothed in beauty by the Provider of all things (Luke 2:27-40).

While we plan as much as possible for Jon’s future, we must trust God with the rest. We do our part and believe He will do His, because He always has. Today, I absorb what Apostle Paul stated in Philippians 4:6-7, into my heart, mind and spirit, “Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ.”

So Lord, today, I give Jon and his future back to You. Once again, I lay him at your feet and     place him in Your capable hands, knowing You have a good plan already in mind for him. I thank You for it, even in my inability to see or control it. I may need to do this again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that, Father, but I offer my mustard seed faith to you, thankful for Your patience while it grows into larger trust I have yet to obtain.

Lord, I believe. Please touch those places in me where I don’t believe, those areas filled with doubt, worry and fear. I give them, along with my son, to You and thank You for never giving up on me but continuously calling me into Your amazing faith, trust and peace.

Today I choose I choose Faith.

Today I choose Trust.

Today I choose You!

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” ~Corrie Ten Boom

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Proverbs 6:6-8 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”

Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

A Perfect Imperfect Life

I celebrated another birthday last month. An odd thing about the years adding up, you realize how much you don’t know while also becoming wiser in the things you do know. Quite paradoxical, I’ve surmised. overflowSo on the wisdom theme; I’ve been thinking about clichés lately, both biblical and otherwise, those phrases we throw around as magic wand solutions to life. You know, stuff like “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” God won’t give you more than you can bear;” statements that help us feel better when we don’t know what else to say. I’ve been wondering where they came from and if they’re actually true.

Lately I’ve been contemplating this one: “Is your glass half full or half empty?” and have decided I don’t want my cup to be half anything. I want it filled to the brim and overflowing with thankfulness, grace, love, encouragement, joy, laughter and peace.

God has blessed me in many ways this past month, my glass is full and I want to acknowledge a few of these blessings with gratitude.

  • My husband took me out, brought me flowers and spoiled me. He spoils me all year actually and I’m awestruck that he has celebrated four decades of birthdays with me so far. I don’t deserve such love and loyalty.
  • We were able to visit our son, David, his wife, Clara and our cute, adorable, babbling, hug-able, my-heart-is-bursting-with-love, little grandson, Asa, for a long weekend. Someone please remove the stars from my eyes and forgive me for turning into the obnoxious grandmother I said I’d never be!
  • I have great friends! Three of them brought a surprise lunch to me on my birthday, cooked it in my kitchen and served me at my table. For someone who spends half her life in the kitchen (or so it seems) it doesn’t get much better than this. A few days ago, friends from Kissimmee drove up and stayed the day, brought gifts, food, laughter, a massage table (with essential oils! Ahhh!) and took me out for dinner before going home. And I had a night out with another beautiful friend this week who is rich in wisdom, overflows with love, makes me laugh way too much (if that’s possible), and challenges my heart and brain with stimulating conversation. God has surrounded me with the very best of His human creation.
  • I was able to get Jon to his dentist appointment on time (miracle!) and as he was waking up from sedation (our doesn’t want to be touched and doesn’t talk much son), held my hand and began quoting the 23rd Psalm and singing The Lord’s Prayer. God gives us deep glimpses into our Jon’s heart now and then, and reminds me that the heart of a person is more valuable than what is seen on the outside.
  • I’m not running marathons, but I’m more pain free and healthier than I’ve been since I was in my twenties, thanks to the knowledge I’ve gained in recent years about diet and nutrition. God has been faithful to lead me down a path of understanding my body as a temple of His Holy Spirit, and all this entails.

Life is far from perfect, there are constant obstacles and challenges but the longer I live, the more I’m aware of the perfection that exists in beautiful moments of time. Yet our selfish flesh loves to wallow in the mud of misery, negativity and pity. The enemy of our mind and soul delights in reminding us how hard our situation is, how difficult that person is, how we don’t have enough, how we aren’t enough and most of all that our God is too small! I can choose to remain mired in negatives and dwell on downers or allow Jesus to fill my cup to the brim with goodness, mercy and joy.

Remember, an overflowing cup is going to spill all over somebody. With every today, I want to live in a refreshing overflow of God’s presence, discovered in the richness of an imperfect life.

Perfection in imperfection, it’s the ultimate paradox lived in and through Christ.

John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”

John 4:14 “But whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life.”

Luke 6:45 “The good man brings good things out of the good treasure of his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil treasure of his heart. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Watch over your heart with all diligence, For from it flow the springs of life.”

Psalm 68″19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!

 

On Whose Lives Matter

Jon SuaveThe topic of lives that matter has been at the forefront of news lately, so I might as well add another group to the fray, one that receives little to no headlines, attention or protests.

In 2013, Robert Saylor, a man with Down syndrome died of asphyxiation after three off duty policemen moonlighting as security guards, restrained him to the floor in handcuffs when he refused to leave a movie theater. His caregiver’s pleas for understanding were apparently disregarded when Robert wanted to see the movie again.

Last week, Arnaldo Rios Soto, a man with autism, watched police shoot his caregiver on a Miami street. Arnaldo had wandered from his group home carrying a favorite metal toy truck in his hand. Someone called the police when they saw Arnoldo, describing him as a man with a gun, acting erratically. His caregiver, Charles Kinsey, was trying to coax him out of the street to safety when police arrived. As Kinsey tried desperately to explain Arnaldo had autism and the object in his hand was a toy truck, an officer discharged his gun at Arnaldo shooting Kinsey instead.

Police officers have protocols to follow and tough judgment calls to make based on their best assessment of a situation and the developmentally disabled rarely fit the cooperation profile. During one of Jon’s wandering episodes he was handcuffed and held in the back of a police car when he failed to answer an officer’s questions or supply his name. To the untrained, the developmentally challenged can be perceived as dangerous and they experience more misunderstandings with police than any other population.*

This week in Tokyo, Japan, Satoshi Uematsu a former employee of a residential facility for the disabled, broke in during the night and stabbed nineteen sleeping people to death and wounded twenty five more. Earlier he had written a letter that stated, “all disabled should cease to exist,” and “the disabled can only create misery.”

The first people exterminated during Hitler’s ‘purify the race’ campaign were not Jews, but the disabled or feeble minded, as he chose to label them. Our Jon would have been the first to die, had we been alive in that decade. It seems no population is exempt from injustice and violence in a world where human hearts trade fear for discernment or choose evil over righteousness.

A recently released movie, “Me Before You,” based on the novel by the same name, is a fictional story of a handsome, athletic young man from a wealthy family who is spine injured in an accident and becomes a paraplegic. It’s meant to be a tear jerker romance, but, of course, I found myself watching this story through the filter of disability and its connection to the value of a human life. The final message of the movie was disappointing, (spoiler alert!) the life of a disabled person is not worth living so the young man travels to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide.

Significance is defined as the quality of being important, large enough to be noticed or have effect or influence, to be worthwhile, valued. Everyone longs to matter. WH Auden, a poet from the 1930’s wrote, “..for who can bear to feel himself forgotten.”

We celebrate celebrity, worship achievement, want to be a ‘somebody’ and leave our mark on the world; a bigger than life personal graffiti wall that boldly states “I was here!” Our culture glorifies importance based on many factors: success, fame, wealth and influence, to name a few.

Disability that achieves the earmarks of worldly success is glorified, but not all disabled persons contribute in ways others consider worthwhile. Does this make their lives less valuable? I don’t have answers to all the tough questions about disability in the world, but our answer to the question of value usually depends on our worldview.

This is mine: “God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness..” (Genesis 1:26) and “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).

If we believe God is the creator, author and beginning of all human existence, there can never be any doubt all lives matter. When Jesus told us to “love your neighbor as you love yourself” (Mark 12:3), He didn’t offer any exceptions, in fact He stated no other commandment was greater. He gave the example of two people groups embroiled in a cold racist war with one another in the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), to illustrate what this love looks like.

Violence is a heart issue and will never be resolved until these words of Jesus are understood in the heart of every person and become standard practice.

If we are breathing God’s air on this planet He made, His life is in us, regardless of race, color, gender, preference, ability and age; we are His precious treasure. What others see when they look at us, our outward appearance, is only the packaging for the treasure inside and the wrapping, as beautiful as it might be, is never valued over the gift it holds.

We are significant because God thought we were worth creating. He paid for our life with His, and extends nail scared hands to all humanity as proof of His investment in us and as a personal guarantee that we are top priority.

Jon matters. You matter. I matter. God said so.

And that should be good enough for all of us.

Psalm 139:14-16 “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them..”

Psalm 22:10 “ I was placed in your care from birth. From my mother’s womb you have been my God.”

*”Disabled people are four to ten times more likely to face violent crimes than the general population, including police violence, sexual assault, hate crime, bullying, robbery, and murder. According to the recent Ruderman report on media portrayal of police violence towards people with disabilities, at least one third to one half of all police violence cases covered by the media involves the disability community. ~ “#BlackDisabledLivesMatter vs #AllDisabledLivesMatter” by Pharaoh Inkabuss, blackautist.tumblr.com~