Greater Love

There are so many texts and scriptures that are people’s “go to” scriptures or even ones that pastors like to use to let their congregation know that God loves them dearly. The problem is that when they are “overused,” so to speak, they tend to get kind of watered down. They become the ol’ standbys that we throw out there when someone is struggling to find their purpose in life or whether or not God cares about them. In my opinion, the most used verse is of course John 3:16— I mean even people who have never opened a Bible know that one. We are told more frequently than anything else that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Does that even mean anything to anyone anymore? Let’s dissect this a little bit.

If God so loved the world, that He “gave” His only Son, that means He sacrificed something, or in this case someone, for the sake of something or someone else. When we give something up as a sacrifice, it has to be of some importance to us or it’s not a sacrifice, right? Usually, we sacrifice something that’s important for something/someone MORE important. So then can we assume that God saw us as more important or rather more of a pressing issue than His own Son? How many times have we had more than one of our kids who all need our attention at the exact same time? Obviously, we can’t solve more than one problem or give our full attention to more than one child at the same time. So what do we do? We decipher which of the problems, though they are all equally important to us, is the bigger issue to conquer at the moment.

God and Jesus had a plan from the beginning that mapped out what the plan was when sin entered the world. Jesus willingly gave Himself as our Savior and God willingly gave His only Son as that Savior. For a time, that was needed because of sin, You and I became of greater value than His relationship with His son. WOW! Because God knew that I would steal from a department store and get into  fights causing injury to people, He gave His Son… for me! Because God knew I would start smoking at thirteen years old and get drunk at parties, He gave His Son for me. Because God knew I would come to accept Him as my Lord and Savior, He gave His Son for me.

So now when we read John 3;16, hopefully it isn’t watered down anymore. Hopefully, we read it with a new set of eyes. Whether those are 20/20 eyes or 20/400 eyes, God gives us the vision we need to read and take in His word. The Bible really can be applied to our lives today in a very tangible way.

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The Whole Thing

Have you ever had someone make you a cake for your birthday? They bring it to you on your special day and you invite them to have a slice of cake with you to celebrate. With a smile and gratitude, you take the lid off the cake and discover that there is only half a cake there. Crumbs litter the empty space indicating that there once had been a whole cake. Feeling a bit disappointed, you wonder why your friend would bring you only half a cake on your special day.

Ironically this is how I’ve felt for quite some time. Like half a cake. Like I hadn’t really been giving all of myself to God. I was giving Him my crumbs. I did want to give Him my whole self but I wanted to keep a little back to control for myself. You see, when you have a disability of any kind, it automatically robs some control from you already. I don’t know about you but I want to have control over certain things in my life. If truth be told, I like to have some control over some things in my family’s lives too. Ya know, the kind of control that keeps your kids from doing things that will hurt them. Then when they get older, the kind of control that keeps them from making huge mistakes. I also tend to want to control my writing. I seek to find the most effective way to promote this blog. I watch video teachings on line (well, listen to) about starting and having a successful writing career. I run ahead and try to figure things out or prevent bad things from happening. I keep “the cake” for me to have and leave the crumbs for God.

The fact of the matter is…God already knows how things will turn out no matter how much I try to run ahead or control. Every aspect of our lives can and should be given over to Him to handle. I know this is easier said then done most of the time. We trust Him with the little things that we don’t really care that much about one way or the other. Things that we would be fine whichever way God decided to go on that issue. But how about the things like if we should move or quit a job? Maybe it’s one like whether we have done all we can in our marriage but our unfaithful spouse is not willing to work on things. Maybe you or your spouse just received a fatal diagnosis. Maybe it’s your precious child who has a life altering disability that you can not fix with doctors or medicine.

No matter what the circumstances might be, God can hold it all in His mighty hands. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God” Philippians 4:6 (ESV) Did you catch that? With prayer and thanksgiving. Tell God your request and then thank Him for how He will work it out. Friends, He already knows how you feel but He wants to let you come to Him with the whole cake. Trust God with the biggies of life by understanding that no matter what our plan of action is, it’s no match for His results.

I know that those results are sometimes painful and often times not what we want to happen. But just as Job trusted God with everything, we are to trust. Job had it all and lost it all. But through his trust, God restored his whole existence to ten times what he had before. Now that doesn’t mean that we will gain ten-fold what we already have in material goods when we trust God. But it does mean that we receive ten-fold the peace of how God will work it out. When we bring our whole hearts to God, He restores us with a whole heart. God will use this blog and my blindness for His honor and glory just as He will use your circumstances if we all allow Him to. If through the words I write or the blindness I carry, someone can be led to Jesus and His love; it’s all worth it! Let Him make you whole again so you can live your whole life with Him. So let’s get into the kitchen, bake and frost the cake, and give the whole thing to God.

  • Walk by faith not by sight
  • Hold Gods hand
  • Open your heart to God
  • Love never fails
  • Everlasting life

Cooking on High

Ok I consider myself a fairly decent cook. Of course, when I was first married nineteen years ago, I didn’t know how to make that many dishes. Like any new bride, I wanted to show my new husband what a super woman he married! I wanted him to know that I could cook, maintain a lovely home, keep his work clothes clean and ready for the week, you know, all the things Caroline Ingalls could do but in a modern-day woman (no bonnets). I mean I’m all about taking care of my family but I ain’t using a wash board or milking cows! However, I still wanted to be a good cook. So many conversations and memories are built sitting “around the table” enjoying a good meal. Well, there have been many times that the day got away from me and before I knew it, it was 5:00 pm. Oh man! I haven’t started dinner yet! Now let me just say that my husband has never been one to expect dinner on the table when he gets home. He would like a hot meal sometime before breakfast, but he has always been very patient and understanding that I don’t just sit around eating bonbons while watching soap operas.

Well remember now that I am super woman and can do it all! Able to scale tall mountains of laundry in a single bound, kill the meat needed for dinner (aka, go to the freezer and pull it out), and all while fighting the enemy of blindness! After realizing the time, I quickly would go to the kitchen, put all the ingredients together and put it all on high. Because ya know that’s how ya get it done faster. So, the inevitable would happen. The whole thing would boil over just as my groom walked in the door from a long hard day at work. Through the haze of smoke and the shrill smoke detector, and of course my tears and apologies, he would give me a kiss and proceed to help me clear the air of smoke and my eyes from tears before running out to McDonalds. This many years later, I would love to tell you that never happens anymore, but the point of this blog is to be honest with myself and all of you. Occasionally it does happen. I’m usually much better about planning out my time and what I’m making for dinner but life happens.

It’s a lot like our spiritual life too. We run hard after God and we are on fire for Him. But just when we are cooking on high, something happens and we boil over. It might be taking on too much at church or work. It might be a tragedy we could have never seen coming like death, divorce or blindness. What ever happens to make us boil over, God is always there with the proverbial dish towel to clean things up with us. Notice I said “WITH” us. He will never do what we don’t ask Him to do. If there has been one thing I’ve learned over the years and smoke, we need to grow in our cooking skills and our spiritual life. Boiling over always creates a mess and stress. A steady walk with God will result in a delicious relationship just as a slowly prepared meal is so much more savory and tasty but a burnt flavor will always ruin the experience. Each day take time to spend with Jesus and simmer your relationship with Him. Taking a taste every now and then to add the appropriate ingredients. Only season it with the most important and needed flavors and keep it simmering so as not to let it boil over. Psalm 37:8 says “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” Take out the cooking pot (your bible) and select a recipe (a verse, chapter or book) and set the pot to simmer. It will be the best “food” you’ll ever taste.

An “I” Disease

Many years ago, I was told I had an eye disease. The prognosis was unclear as they really were not sure what it was I had. Thirty-five years later, it is still not known what I have. Doctors have diagnosed and re-diagnosed what the disease might be. This of course leaves me out of any research or treatment options. If there is no diagnosis, how does anyone know which research project or treatment plan to put me into? So off I went, down the unknown path of blindness. It is a difficult road to travel but there is so much that I have learned on this journey. Blindness is a thieving disease. It robs you of a childhood of “normal” experiences. I didn’t play soccer or softball. It robs you of independence. I would never get my driver’s license. It robs you of adult events like seeing your future husband’s face as he awaits his bride to join him at the altar. I think one of the most difficult things was sitting at a public poolside with friends and all of our children splashing around and jumping in the deep end for the first time. All the kids were calling out to their respective mom’s to “watch me!” Oh how it broke my heart to hear my kids call out “hey Mrs. So-and-so, watch me!”

My children knew I couldn’t see them do their tricks and see their bravery in trying the deep end. It took me some tears and time to come to terms with that one. I questioned God’s plan for this condition. It was simply too painful for me to miss out on the new experiences my kids were having. The joy and excitement I heard in the other mom’s voices as I listened to them affirm their children with “good job” or “that’s great”. The heart of a mother knows another heart of a mother in these situations even if she can’t fully understand the loss. My friends would try to describe what trick or new attempts my kids were doing. It helped to get at least a picture in my mind but it was still painful.

But I learned through the process of trying to identify my eye disease, that I had something much worse. I had an “I” disease. My focus was on what I wasn’t able to do instead of what God could do through my blindness if I would allow Him to. It became all about me instead of all about Him. Friends, there is no “I” in Jesus. There is no “I” in joy. There is no “I” in peace. There is no “I” in love. There is no “I” in mercy. There is no “I” in hope. These are the characteristics of God. Our faith is not built on the things we can control, it’s built by relinquishing that control to the one who already knows the end from the beginning. I had to learn that God had a greater purpose for my vision than I would ever be able to see with good vision. “We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Although the eye disease I have is incurable, the “I” disease I was suffering from was curable by God, the greatest physician there could ever be. I am choosing to find gratitude in my blindness so that other people can be drawn to Jesus through it. I will be rid of this eye disease one day in heaven, but for now I can be rid of my “I” disease here and let God show me all the ways to see Him. We don’t have to suffer blindness to have an “I” disease. No doctor, no medicine, and no hospital can cure that fatal disease. It can only be God who heals us of that. Whatever we may face in this life, if we let God use it for good, He will. “and we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good. For those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

God has a plan complete with road maps. You will find no greater glory than letting God have your heart, life and love.

BTW— I had our camera man at the wedding zoom in on my groom’s face when I began walking down the isle so I could watch it later on video and sit close enough to see it. I am not totally blind yet but if I someday find myself in those circumstances, God will still be my vision.

Emotional Rollercoaster

Ok, I want off this emotional rollercoaster. I used to love going to the amusement parks and trying all the big coasters and even the smaller ones. Of course, back in my teenage years, the Gemini was the big new coaster at Cedar Point. It was the biggest wooden rollercoaster around. Yeesh, am I that old? Anyway, someone would inevitably get to their turn on the ride but then chicken out and want off.  I would wait in line for hours to ride all the rides. But in reality, I only rode a few because we spent most of our time there in the lines. Once we were on though… Woohoo! My friends and I were horse from screaming and sweaty from running back to the end of the line to do it again.

As I’ve gotten older, I don’t find as much enjoyment in those rollercoasters. The slow climb and then the sudden drop doesn’t appeal to me like it used to. I am fonder of the stability of knowing that I am not painfully, slowly, impatiently climbing to a height that isn’t normal to drop from, then plunging downward at a rate of speed that leaves my heart and stomach at the top of the hill. I like knowing that my feet are going to hit solid ground when I get out of bed in the morning. I like the security of knowing the bottom isn’t coming out from under me as I sit around the table with my family for dinner. The uncertain ups and downs of those rides just don’t do anything for me anymore.

However, I feel like I’ve been on a different type of rollercoaster these days. I attended a funeral several weeks ago for the husband of my dear friend of 40 years. He died very unexpectedly after a routine procedure. It was very heartbreaking to think of her situation. Her husband just adored her in every way. She had to say a temporary good-bye to the love of her life. This, quite frankly, hit a little to close to home for me. I have sat by my husband’s hospital bedside after a routine procedure and everything came out fine. Proving that ya just never know what can happen.

After leaving the funeral, we went up to the hospital where my future step niece (just try to keep up with the connection here) had just had her baby. I had just left my friend in tears of sorrow for a life ending to go and mingle those sorrowful tears with that of a new born babies tears. As I stood there holding that brand-new life in my arms, I looked over at my son and realized that the very next day, HE was turning 18 years old. A heartbreaking loss, a heart filling new life, and in between it all, my own son was entering into adulthood… forever! Insert heavy sigh here!

As I enter into a new phase of my own, it gets a little uncertain again. Much like the days of the rollercoaster junky that I used to be. The inchingly long assent to the top of a hill that held an unknown other side. Then the sudden plunge whether you are ready or not. I am clinging to the two years I have left before my precious daughter turns the corner and walks the road of adulthood. I don’t even want to envision that blog post. I imagine you all can expect total hysteria, complete with the back of the hand over the forehead and slowly sinking to the bed in a feeble attempt at my best Scarlet O’Hara. Well I guess that is what all moms do when their kids grow up and they are facing the empty nest years. Somehow, I thought I had a long, long time yet before that happened. At the risk of sounding like an ol’ country ballad, 18 years sure flies by fast and yer left in the dust as the youngins hit the gas.

I can see myself along with my husband a few years from now awaiting our children to come home for Christmas the way our parents do now. Just a few years! But I cling to the bible verse that says “Train up a child in the way he should go, that when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6. My prayer is that as my kids still enjoy the rollercoasters that someday they will enjoy the stability that following the Lord and holding friends and loved ones close can bring. They are very family oriented now and they walk with the Lord and I pray that remains as they make their way in life. I pray that they always find comfort in coming home and sitting around the table.

 

Out of the Mouth of Babes

We all have stories about our kids saying funny or at least memorable things. I have had so many of these experiences that I couldn’t possibly remember them all. I wish I would have written them down in a journal or something. Nevertheless, I do remember some of the things they said.

When my daughter was in I think third grade, it was mid-term report card day. She has always been a good student so I really had no worries about this particular report card. We’ve never had the issues of her being a disruptive kid in class or bullying anyone so we had no concerns there either. In the past, we have taken the kids to a family favorite restaurant for a celebratory dinner after getting their report cards.

I went to her conference alone as my husband got stuck at work. As we were on our way to the meeting, my daughter pipes up from the back seat in a chipper excited voice and says:

“Mom remember how we always go to Fazoli’s for dinner after report cards so we can celebrate good grades?”

“yes!” I say, looking forward to my favorite dish already. Her voice quiets some as she says “I don’t think this is gonna be one of those times.”

My mom was driving and I was fairly certain she was going to have to pull over since she could no longer see through the tears she had while laughing so hard. I myself thought I might have tinkled a little right there in the car. There are some moments that are funny at the time but after a while they sort of fade into the past and we don’t really remember them anymore. Then there are those funny moments that stay with us forever for some reason. This is definitely one of the forever moments. That has been about seven years ago now and it’s often referred to at report card time. My daughter was in our church school at the time but now she is home-schooled. However, since she has friends in the public schools, we know when report card day is.

Rest assured, her grades were indeed good and I was able to get my favorite dish after all. Hmmm, funny though, I don’t really remember what that dish was, but I still have the memory I really want to hang on to.

Our Words Matter

How we speak really does matter. It can give an impression to others what our views are on a particular topic. It can also determine someone’s first impression of us, right or wrong. If we are using foul language, someone will assume that we are not a Christian and talk that way in all circumstances. Don’t get me wrong, we all slip up when we get, say, hurt or really angry. But I’m talking about our every day speech. When we use a certain type of talk, we automatically can put out feelers for people to draw conclusions: are we a Christian or are we of the world? And what it says is perfectly acceptable. You don’t have to be a proclaimed Christian to not talk with questionable language. You might just find that speech undesirable. That’s ok too. “But for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) I had a conversation with my 17-year-old son about the issue of questionable language. He had never tested those limits before, but as he is becoming an adult, he looks upon things a little differently now. Like the “why can’t I do that now, I’m practically an adult?” kind of way. I had heard a couple of what some would call vegi-swear words and I was like WHAT did you just say? He told me that he didn’t understand why they were called “swear words” they were just like any other word, just that… words. I began to ponder this for a little bit, then I replied with a parable type story.

If we are separated into two different groups and one group is of the worlds views on foul language, that it’s normal and fine. Then the other group is of the mind set that it doesn’t reflect Christian or proper values. You are all walking down a wide path together with space between your groups. Group 1 (world views) are looking over at group 2 (Christian views) and noticing their words are different, they must be Christians. Then group 2 hears the talk coming from group 1 and determines that by all the foul language they hear, that group of people must NOT be Christians. As a Christian family, we are to be in group 2, this is how we have raised our children. We have also raised our kids to know the why behind what we or they believe. Don’t just say “well that’s the way I was raised” or “that’s just what we do.” We should be able to give a real reason for why we do what we do and believe what we believe. That being said, I presented him with the image of people wandering back and forth across the space between the groups. Pretty soon no one can determine which group anyone belongs to because they seem to be in both. If we want to belong to the world then act like the world. If we want to be a Christian then act like a Christian. “Choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15)

If we want to show people that we belong to Jesus then we should act like we belong to Jesus. Much in the same way that we act married by wearing a wedding ring and not flirting with someone else. We also can’t tell others about what we believe if they see that we act the opposite way.

My son had a look of understanding and nodded his head in agreement, “I see” he said. My heart was full as a Christian mom who wants to see her children grow in Christ. I just feel like our kids need the “why” behind the “don’t do that”. They also need the “why” behind the “this is what we should do”. Let’s give our kids some credit, they do have their own minds. Granted I’m speaking of kids that are like 8 and up. When they are little, they don’t understand the “why’s”— it’s the training time. I just think we would get better results if we stop the “do what I say because I said so” approach. We want our kids to be able to think for themselves, don’t we? Let’s better equip them to do so. By the way… I haven’t heard any questionable language since we had that conversation. Not saying I have it all figured out—far from it! But that one thing seemed to work at that one time. That’s how we have to handle things, one incident at a time with one tool to fix it at a time.