Friday, September 23, 2016

THE LOST VIDEO

“Here is a video I think you would enjoy.  Watch it and then bring it back,” I told …….

Well, I told someone.  The trouble is now I do not know where the video is.  It is out there somewhere.  I am sure it wants to come home but it does not know the way.  Some people I thought I had loaned it to said, “No.  I do not have it.”  Now I do not know where to search. 

And I am looking because I wanted to loan it to someone else. 

Where of where?  Think.  Think.  Poor video.  Out there.  Is it lost forever?

LOST

I have felt like that video.  Lost.  Trying to find my way home.  Wondering how I ended up where I did not want to be.

I may have felt like the lost video BUT I am not like that video.  There is someone who always knows where I am. 

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Psalm 139:2-3

GOD NEVER LOSES ME!  He never loans me out.  He never forgets where I am.

And when He (the good Shepherd) finds me,
He joyfully puts me on His shoulders and goes home.
Luke 15 parts of 5 and 6 (made personal)

GOD COMES TO GET ME!  Even if I should wander off, He comes to find me and brings me back where I belong.

ARE YOU LOST?

You can feel lost and alone in a room full of people.  You can get yourselves into places you thought you would never be.  You can turn to friends or family and still feel like you are lost.

There is a place you can feel secure.  A place where you will not feel lost.  That place is as a Child of God.  A Child of a God, who takes you in His arms, puts you on His shoulders and safely places you in His flock.


My prayer for you this week is that you will feel the comfort of a loving God that is always there and always loves to hear you talk with Him.

Friday, September 16, 2016

DAYS LEFT

I looked at the calendar and it says that this is day 260 and there are 106 days left in this year.  ONLY 106 DAYS LEFT!  Why it should only be …..

I don’t like knowing how many days are left in 2016.  Thinking about it sent my mind  into warp speed:  Next week is crazy busy!  Vacation with daughter and her family in three weeks!  Hubby getting ready to be in the fields!  Halloween!  My birthday!  Other people’s birthdays!  (One of those other people is our son who will be 50.   I AM NOT OLD ENOUGH TO HAVE A 50 YEAR OLD CHILD!)  Thanksgiving!  And Christmas! 

106 days left in 2016.  My mind has settled down and now the questions have started.  Will I use those days wisely?  Do I really have to do everything?  Am I allowing time for myself?  Am I allowing time for family?  Am I allowing time for God?

HOW MANY DAYS?

I can easily count how many days are left in a week.  In a month.  In a year.  I cannot count how many days are left in my life.

But about that day or hour no one knows,
not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,
but only the Father.
Mark 13:32

I do not know how many days I have left.  AND I DO NOT WANT TO KNOW!  But, the same questions apply. 

  • Am I using my time wisely?
  • Do I really have to do everything?
  • Am I allowing time for myself?
  • Am I allowing time for family?
  • Am I allowing time for God?

Am I allowing time for God?  Am I allowing time for God?  Am I?  Am I?


Are you?

Friday, September 09, 2016

WHY

WHY.  Three letters.  A short word.  The definition is even short:  cause, reason or purpose.  And yet, this short, three letter word is on everyone’s lips.  Everyone’s heart.  You can see it in their eyes.  You can hear it in their voice.  You can notice the softer steps and the shoulders slightly bent. 

Why?  Why?   Why?

This short, three letter word is used over and over and over.  The “why” is usually followed by “if only?”  And we torture ourselves with these words.

There have been many posts on Facebook and articles in the paper and on the news about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.  But they are only articles until there is a face – a person – a family – a friend – touched by suicide.  And, when one of those that committed suicide, leaves an empty place in a high school class and brings grief and loss to your grandchildren, the articles become real and the news touches your heart.  And everyone begins to ask, “Why?”

Sadly, the question “why” rarely has an answer.  Why would this boy commit suicide?  Why was he that unhappy?  Why did someone not see it?  Why?  Why?  Why?

And then, “What if?”  What if he had received a phone call?  What if he had reached out to someone?  What if I had been a better parent/friend/ pastor/teacher/employer?  What if?  What if?  What if?

My grandsons.  The kids at their school.  The parents, family and friends.  They are all facing a loss they cannot explain.  A loss that hurts.  A loss that will require the slow process of healing.
My prayer for them is that they will find comfort and that they will not fall into the trap of “why” and “what if”.  I pray they will find a memory to hold in their hearts so they can say goodbye to their friend.

=   =   =   =   =   =   =   =

The most important thing we can do is to take seriously anytime anyone says they are thinking about suicide.  Or if someone keeps bringing up the subject, it means they could be contemplating suicide.  And tell!!!  You are not doing your friend or family member a favor by not telling someone.  Their confiding in you might be their cry for help. 

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death and, each year, over 42,700 people commit suicide.  These are not just numbers!  The articles are not just news!


These 42,700+ people were our sons and daughters.  They were our parents.  They were our friends.  And we hurt when a suicide causes our grandsons to cry.

Friday, September 02, 2016

DISCOVERING THE PATH

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

Have you ever been out for a walk, enjoying the journey down a lovely path, your mind wondering here and there as memories floated in and out?  Have you ever been walking along, in a familiar right, left pattern, sure where you were headed because the path was easy to see?  Have you ever been walking along, one step leading into the next, when you notice a bench – an inviting, comfortable bench?  The empty bench is waiting for someone to step off the path and sit.

I had been sitting on that bench.  And, it was not a good place to be!

Let me explain. 

Our journey – the path we follow – can become too familiar.  Too safe.  We can keep putting one foot in front of the other.  We can be doing all the right things.  Saying all the right words.  We can …..

… all of a sudden realize it is not the path we are supposed to be on.  And that is how I found myself sitting on the bench.  My path was no longer clear.  Or maybe the path was clear and I did not want to see it. To see the path would mean I would have to change.  I would have to divert from the path of the known and comfortable to the path of “LORD YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAT?”

So there I sat on the bench.  The name of the bench is indecision and, although that bench looked inviting, it was not a pleasant place to sit.  And I was not alone.  On one side was the voice of “this path is good.”  On the other side was the voice of “is this the path God wants you stay on?”

While I sat there, life went on and it was good.  But God has this persistent nature and finally, I heard the answer.  That is when I stood up and saw that, where there had been one path, there were now two.  One familiar and safe:  a good path.  One --

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:4-5

One was the new path God wanted me to be on.

Hubby and I have struggled with a decision for years.  We had both attended the same denomination for over 50 years and a local church for over 30.  We sat on the bench of indecision because of the wonderful people in the local church, as the voice on one side said “go” and the voice on the other side said “stay.” 

What we finally realized is that God has a new path for us and we have begun a new faith journey.  A journey that is no longer handcuffed to indecision.  We are exactly where God wants us.  We are on a new path. 


What about you?  Are you sitting on the bench of indecision?  

Friday, May 06, 2016


I HEARD/READ IT --- IT MADE ME THINK

The other day, we were watching an interview with Sophia Loren.  The question was, “What is happiness?”

 She answered, “It depends on your age.”

 That made me think and I realized she was right. 

  • Happiness was mom saying, “Yes, you may go to the park.  Be back by five.” 
  • Happiness was a slumber party.
  • Happiness was receiving an engagement ring and then a wedding ring from the man I love.
  • Happiness was welcoming a son and then a daughter into our family.
Some things cause happiness during your whole life:

  • Happiness is reading a book.
  • Happiness is traveling.
  • Happiness is family.  And home.
It is funny how one thing leads to another.  I had finished reading a book, The Wedding Chapel by Rachel Hauck, and had saved some quotes about Jack.  Jack is seeking happiness.  Seeking but could he let go of the past? 
 
“That’s the crux of it right there.  Are you ready to give up being angry? Because anytime you want to become a Gillingham, Jack, we’ll go down to the courthouse and make it all legal.”  “I’m thirty years old, Sam.”  “I don’t care if you’re a hundred. I’m telling you, I want you as my son. Wouldn’t it be nice to know you are a son right before you become a father?”  Jack glanced at Sam, who nodded, then turned for the house. “Take your time.” He might have been gone, but his confession hung around the garage, drilling through Jack and tapping his tears. “I want you as my son.”

"You have everything you need to heal from such a deep hurt, but you choose to keep walking around wounded.”

"When you walked in, I knew you were the answer to our prayer.”  An answer to prayer.  Such a claim caused Jack to torque inside, messed with his right to be angry, to play the victim.  Because if the God of all looked after him, even used him to bless someone"

As a child, Jack was sent to stay with Sam and his wife.  Jack was angry.  Jack closed himself off and never realized he was an answer to their prayers.  You see, they wanted a child.

Jack had not known happiness.  Did not have sweet memories.  He did not know how to love.  Or trust.  He just knew how to be hurt, to be angry.  He just knew how to keep people away.

Of course, the book ended with Jack finding happiness when he finally allowed his past to be just that:  the past.  Then he found God, trust and love. 

So often we do not realize that what makes us happy changes as we grow older.  So often we are not happy because, like Jack, we refuse to leave our hurts, anger and lack of trust behind us.

Of course, the book had a happy ending but your life can have a happy endings too.  The key?
God, of course.

Friday, April 15, 2016


SUCCESS

Two phones, an iPad and a computer all ready.  The countdown begins.  Ten minutes.  Five minutes.  Three minutes.  “Start dialing Bill,” I said as I started dialing and checking both screens.  Too soon.  One minute.  “Dial again,” I told Bill as I hit redial.

Computer spinning to get a place in line.  IPad spinning to get a place in line.  Bill’s phone asking him questions he did not know how to answer.  My bad!  I forgot to give him the password.  He hangs up.  But my phone -----

“This is an automated service and you will not be speaking to a live representative.  Do you wish to continue?”  YES.  “Are you wanting tickets?”  YES.  “Are you wanting tickets to an event in Fort Wayne, Indiana?”  NO.  (In my mind, I am seeing ticket after ticket being sold while I am answering questions.)  “What event are you interested in?”  GARTH BROOKS, GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN.  “Which show?”  WHAT?  I THOUGHT THERE WAS ONLY ONE.  THE 7:00 PM, SATURDAY NIGHT.  “Would you like the best tickets available?”  YES.  (Getting closer.  I was getting excited.)  “There are two tickets in row Q of section 227.  Will you take them?”  NO.  (Oh that was hard to say.)  “Would you like me to try another selection?”  YES.  (Do you realize how silly it feels to answer question from a machine?)  “There are two tickets in row P of section 221?  Will you take them?”  NO.  (How did no come out of my mouth again?)  “Would you like me to try another selection?”  YES. “Would like two tickets in row A of section 204, seats 1 and 2?”  YES!  YES!  (One section higher than I wanted but the front row of that section.  I can live with that.  Besides, I did not want the voice to say, “Sorry you have turned down three selections.  Goodbye.”)

SUCCESS!  Our daughter and I are going to see Garth Brooks.  I can mark that off my bucket list.

I had been excited ever since Terri called and said he was going to be so close.  Also, a bit anxious.  What if I couldn’t get tickets?  Concerts sell out very quickly.  And, as much as I wanted to go, I wanted decent seats.  And I did not want to pay for tickets on the secondary market.  Items on my bucket list are only worth so much.

SUCCESS!  And then a conversation began in my heart.

“Mary, do you seek me with the same determination and excitement you sought those tickets?”

“Of, course, Jesus,” I replied.

“Really?  I seem to have missed something then.  When was the last time you counted down the minutes – the seconds – until you could be with me?”

“Well, you know.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Watching TV.  Checking Facebook.  The time just seems to slip away and then it is bedtime,” I answered.

“Mary, Mary.  What am I going to do with you?”

“Jesus, I do know how to answer that.  You are going to love me.  You are going to celebrate with me when life sends me higher than a kite.  You are going to support me when life knocks my legs right out from under me.  And you are going to borrow that 2 X 4 God uses to whack me with when I get off track,” I humbly replied.

“I won’t use that 2 X 4 this time.  I think you get the idea.  I am thrilled to see you enjoying life.  It makes me smile.  Just remember what really gives you success in life.”

SUCCESS!  I have a God that gave me the world.  I have a Savior that washed me in forgiveness.  I have a Holy Spirit that guides me.  I am successful!

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And this is what we are!  1 John 3:1

SUCCESS?  Yes because I am the child of the One True King.

“Mary.”

“Yes,” I answered in a surprised voice.  I was not expecting further conversation on this subject.

“It is okay that you did not get me a ticket.  I already have the best seat in the universe and I did not have to call Ticketmaster.”

Friday, April 08, 2016


ERASED

TV show plot:  One man owns a bar that is not doing the best.  A friend offers to buy in.  They agree.

Then things take a turn for the worse.  Why?  Because the friend renames the bar, brings in some top singers and turns the bar into a success.  All the while, the original owner gets pushed into the background.  When things come to a head, the original owner told his friend, “You erased me.” 

YOU ERASED ME!  Powerful words from deep hurts that finally came out in total honesty.

Think about it for a minute.  “You erased me.”  Can you imagine feeling:

invisible?

like what you worked for was nothing?

betrayed by a friend?

hurt to the core?

Three simple words.  Three words that could have dissolved a friendship.  Instead, those three words, spoken in total honesty, restored a friendship. 

Just a TV show you say.  Not real life.  Probably not.  In real life the hurts are buried, words are never honestly spoken and friendships slip away. 

I really did not know where this would go and not sure how to end it.  I just know those three words:  You erased me, tore at my heart.  Although I have never said those words, people – family, friends, strangers – have made me feel each of those.  I have felt invisible.  I have felt like my work was for nothing.  I have been betrayed by a friend.  I have been hurt to the core.  I am guessing that each of us has.  Each one reading this could look the first man in the eyes and say, “Man, do I know how that feels!”

The question is:  How do we handle those feelings.  Are we honest about them?  Or do we hide them? 

Is there anyone we can talk to that truly, TRULY understands? 

Oh, yes.  That would be Jesus.  And we can go to Him.  He will listen.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart,

and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28