Sunday is coming!

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Again we come. The frozen landscape’s winter solitude has yielded to a fresh, new season. Evidence is in the air, the trees, the flowers. Birds share the news of the day as they busy themselves building their nests. Trees and flowers already show signs of promise with spring blooms and hint of summer leaves, all poised to paint the landscape  in fresh rainbow shades. I look down at the mat of green at my feet. The passing of the dead sprigs of winter into the bright green sprigs of spring are a sign of promise too. This is our land, of sorts. We bought a piece of it ~ kicking and screaming and flailing in protest. It seems we had no choice. Someone we loved dearly ended his short life and needed a place to rest in Saturday’s death.

It’s a quiet Saturday outside Jerusalem. The horrendous beatings, fake trials, shouting and sobbing at the foot of the cross had all passed. Friends and family have quietly laid Jesus to rest in a borrowed tomb. They would return after the Sabbath hours to embalm Him as was their custom, but now was the time to mourn their loss. He had done what He came to do. Jesus had predicted (John 2:19) that He would rise in 3 days, but those words had slipped from memory. He was their Son, their Master, their Lord and now He was dead. Sunday was on it’s way. It would come right on time just as Jesus had promised, but now it was Saturday and it appeared to be never ending, stretching to eternity as far as they knew. How would they go on without Him?

Heaven had a different point of view. As horrible as it must have been to watch The Plan stretch out before them, the excitement was building. The Father’s heart beat faster. The angels milled around the throne obviously waiting for the moment to come. Gabriel was at his post, keeping his eyes on the Father. It would be his most important assignment ever and he was ready. Eternity’s clock ticked toward the appointed hour. Inside the tomb, all was quiet. The Savior had completed His work of saving mankind. His trust had always been in His Dad. He was not ticking down time. His job was over. He was sleeping the dreamless sleep of death. Now The Plan’s focus shifted heavenward and particularly to His Father’s throne.

It was a nail biter. Gabriel tried not to “bug” his Maker with intent staring. He was eager to get going, but God would give the signal right on time and when He did, he would move faster than the speed of light. As the black of night gave way to the first hint of red, Gabriel flexed his rippling muscles. Now! He was off! He bolted thru the cosmos encased in the bright beams from his Father’s face. Heaven hushed. No one dared breathe. God leaned forward in eager anticipation. The angels leaned forward too.

Gabriel ripped thru space trailed by lightening, breaking the sound barrier as he went. As his feet touched down in front of Joseph’s tomb, the light from heaven temporarily blinded the Roman guards who fell from their assignment like dead men. The earth trembled and rocked on its axis as an earthquake shook awake sleeping saints.

Gabriel rolled back the stone as it if were a pebble. In a voice that rumbled on earth but was heard as the sweetest music in the throne room of heaven, Gabriel cried, “Jesus! Son of God, wake up! Your Father calls You!

Sunday had come! The bleak darkness of Saturday had passed forever from view, never to repeat ~ except it still does on Planet Earth, does it not? We, like other loved ones, put out a new bouquet of flowers to brighten our son’s spot.  Empty places had recently been filled, evident by mounds covered in cascades of funeral flowers. The cycle is forced to repeat day after day. Death follows life as it always has. Will it ever end? Will Saturday’s gloomy grip ever be broken? Yes! Sunday is coming!

And Sunday ~ whether it be Monday, Tuesday or any other day of the week as we know it ~ will come. Relief is speeding toward us with the Deliverer slated to be right on time. Jesus will return! He will wake up His sleeping children just as He promised! The Creator of life has broken the cycle and sin and death will be no more. Eternity has begun! Families who have mourned many dark Saturdays will soon forget the pain of loss when Eden is restored. Loved ones embrace and eternity is our new forever.

 

For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son. Whoever puts his trust in God’s Son will not be lost but will have life that lasts forever. 

For God did not send His Son into the world to say it is guilty. He sent His Son so the world might be saved from the punishment of sin by Him. 

Whoever puts his trust in His Son is not guilty. Whoever does not put his trust in Him is guilty already. 

It is because he does not put his trust in the name of the only Son of God.

John 3:16-18, NLV

This entry was posted on April 18, 2014. 5 Comments

What’s in a name?

Names are precious. We ache to hear them repeated aloud, especially if they belonged to someone we’ve been forced to outlive. Have one of those in your life too? There is something lovely about names, especially if they belong to your children or grandchildren. You may have chosen their names, plucked from previous generations to shine once again. Perhaps names that belonged to your dad or mom. Perhaps you swell with pride as you look into the face of an adorable grandchild named after you. There is nothing quite so sweet? Our children are precious and so are their names. When all we have left are bittersweet memories, their names take on new meaning. As much as it hurts to hear, we long for it just the same.

Did you search for your child’s name by its meaning? I didn’t. We just looked through books and then chose names we liked to hear. But I have since looked up my child’s name and if you haven’t done so before, you might do a little research into etymology, the study of the history of names. In Greek, the name Gregory means ~ vigilant. In English it means ~ on the watch.  His middle name is Scott, and in Scottish, means Scottish; wanderer. Not sure my son was a vigilant, watching, wanderer, but names can tell a story.

 

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But there are other names that clearly have special significance to Christians. If that offends you, then please read no further. But to the Christian these names are priceless. I have never read so many names for Jesus Christ in one place before. I have Roy Lessin to thank for this list in his devotional, “Today is Your Best Day“.

“Jesus’ name is above every name. His name is so great that the Bible gives Him many other names to help us understand how mighty He truly is. Every name that Jesus bears and everything that Jesus is, He is for you. Consider His glorious names, and the impact they have upon your life.” Roy listed thirty-seven. I have selected some of my favorites to share with you. It’s hard not to list them all!

*The Last Adam:  Through His obedience He came to restore to you everything that the first Adam lost through his disobedience.

*The Advocate:  He is your defending attorney in the courtrooms of heaven.

*Almighty:  He knows no limits to what He can do for you because He is without limitation.

*Alpha: He is the first word in every issue that concerns you.

*Author:  He is writing every chapter of your life and is preparing future editions.

*Beloved:  He brings you the Father’s heart.

*Bread of Life:  He nurtures and sustains you.

*Carpenter:  He is preparing a place for you in His Father’s house.

*Cornerstone:  He is the One you are building your life upon.

*Deliverer:  He is the One who sets you free from the bondage of sin.

*Emmanuel:  He is God with you.

*High Priest:  He is praying for you and standing before God on your behalf.

*Jesus:  He is your Savior.

*Master:  He is in control.

*Omega:  He is the ‘so be it’ to all He directs you to do.

*Refuge:  He is your hiding place.

*Resurrection:  He is your eternal hope.

Even when hope seems impossible, my friends, there is hope: Lord our Lord, your name is the most wonderful name in all the earth! It brings you praise in heaven above.”     Psalm 8:1

There is something about His name.

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted on April 12, 2014. 2 Comments

“Heart to Heart”

file000138289502I recently met a mom who has been hit with the same horrific death many of us are all too familiar with. She lost her 14 year-old son to suicide. Words cannot express the ghastly tragedy with the depth of pain parents and families feel when they lose a piece of themselves. Many who read my postings know this pain. No matter if it was recent or years ago, the grief journey is or will become part of a new identity we learn to accept.

I relate to this mom as many of you will when you learn that she, like many of you, look for ways to relieve your anguish by writing or painting or public speaking, or doing an annual walk to raise funds or using your vocal talent. That is what my friend did. She recorded her first CD. The inside cover of her CD jacket reads:

“My album, Heart to Heart, A Journey of Love, is a compilation of prayerful songs which has taken 3 years to produce. Music became the therapy I craved after my fourteen year-old son, who struggled with depression, took his own life in November, 2010. To help me cope, as an outlet, God inspired me to write down some of my thoughts and prayers, which evolved into some of the songs for this album. I desperately wanted that connection from MY heart to  GOD’s heart ~ hence the Album Title ~ and to sense God’s direction for my life, as my navigation system was well and truly lost with no compass or sense of control.”

I have listened to her music and it touches me deeply as it will you. Although you cannot hear her sing at this moment, but some day you may, meanwhile, perhaps you can wrap your heart around her prayerful words, to sense God’s closeness to you as you listen from that place of understanding deep within our mothers’ hearts.

HEART TO HEART

Verse 1

Driving in my car, in the dark, needing to be on my own, to cry out loud. No where to go, to let it out. I feel so misunderstood. Relationships complicated. I need a heart to heart with God.

CHORUS

You are the only one who truly understands my pain. God wrap your arms around me, I need to speak to you. Teach me what I need to know; cause you’re my Counselor. Your love can heal my brokenness, I need a heart to heart with you, help me Father.

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VERSE 2

My child, I am here for you. I’ve heard your prayers, so don’t despair. You are not alone; I will carry you, I promise to. I understand what you’re going through, your feelings of rejection. I wanna heart to heart with you.

BRIDGE

Mistakes have been made, a tug of war; wrestling to know right from wrong. This burden is hard to bear; please forgive me, Father. Tear the barriers down. Help me to reach the ones that are needing your love. Reveal to me in your way, the beauty of your grace.

CHORUS

I am the only one who truly understands your pain, I’ll wrap my arms around you. I want to speak to you. I’ll teach you what you need to know; I am you’re Counselor. My love can heal your brokenness. I wanna heart to heart with you. I love you. I wanna heart to heart with you, yes I do. I heard your prayer; always know that I love you.

Typing the words loses something in translation, especially when you cannot hear the melody, but I wanted to share my friend’s priceless story as we mom’s willingly open our circle to let another mother in. We have lost boys and girls, sons and daughters, parents and friends. The tidal wave swells, crashing tirelessly into the shore again and again with yet more names; more have taken their lives leaving us to weep for our love of them. But the message is clear, dear ones. As fast as the questions came from her pleading heart, God answered them from his bleeding heart. He knows our pain and will see us through.

 The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:18, NIV

 

Those who are interested in more information may contact Velda Mason at “Heart-String Ministry” on Facebook. “Heart to Heart” album is a tribute to her son and is filled with songs of faith and hope. All funds will go toward Adolescent Depression Charities. You may also order the CD at: Heart-String-Ministry@Outlook.com for $25 USD which includes postage and packing.

 

 

Hymnlines: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Part 2

Lion Roaring

Lion Roaring (Photo credit: lukiffer)

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. It won’t be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does.  1 Peter 5:8-11, The Message

It’s easier to share someone else’s story than my own. If you read the background story to the hymn, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” in Part 1, you know the words were written from a painful heart. This is one of my favorite hymns which intertwines with a story about God’s grace, mercy and protection when I needed it most.

Friend or foe? Is it not true that a roaring lion roams the cobbled streets and dusty paths of planet earth seeking to devour human flesh? He’s a man-eater alright . . . woman and child too. Not a nice picture for sure, but sadly, it’s true. Even if one harbor’s the belief that the Bible is irrelevant in today’s society, it does not change the fact that we have a devil roaring about in rage. He’s not dressed in red leos and carrying a pitchfork either. That idea lingers on from Greek mythology. The real satan blends in well. You could be looking into demonic faces on the busy streets where you live, in the work place, or from a pew in church. He is well represented everywhere on our planet; a planet in chaos or has that reality escaped you? Certainly not.

Some time ago, I was invited to speak on the topic of suicide at a Christian women’s retreat. I prayed about it and felt God nudging me into unfamiliar territory; to share my story which I had never shared publicly before. Naturally I was hesitant, terrified actually, but I had promised God that I would do whatever He asked me to do ~ to help bring glory to His name by reaching out, as it were, with His hands, feet, and heart to comfort those in grief  ~ to give hope where hope seems impossible ~ and to keep alive the memory of my precious son who is forever in my heart.

All went smoothly until the night before I was scheduled to speak. It was after midnight and I was in deep slumber when suddenly I was awakened. Paralysis was creeping upwards from my feet! Within seconds I was completely frozen. I could not move. I could not speak. Frantically I sent a desperate plea for help to God in my mind. Somehow my roommate, who apparently was a light sleeper, realized I was in need and started to pray aloud. Then, she began to sing,

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

By the time she started to sing the second verse, the numbness had receded from my head down past my throat and I was able to join her,

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

I was puzzled. Why would God allow the enemy to frighten me like this when I thought I was on His mission? I paced the floor until my racing heart had calmed down a bit, then I crawled back under the covers and began to pray. I asked God, “Why did you let the enemy attack me? Was this trip not Your idea?” No response came other than, “You must speak about this in the morning.” “But that is not possible,” I argued. (I guess I assumed I knew more about this retreat than God did). Again the same response came to my mind, “You must tell about this in the morning.” Clearly no sleep would be coming until I gave in. “Okay,” I sighed. “I will sit on the front row, but You will have to take it from there. You’re going to have to give me the words to say.” And He did.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

Long story short, what came to my heart to share the next morning was this: We are doing something right if it makes the devil worried enough to attack; to show up and attempt to frighten a speaker into silence. We needn’t fear the enemy for we are surrounded by holy warring angels sent for our protection when we are doing God’s will. Many women in attendance were suffering personal sorrow. Some had lost children recently and to suicide. Some were there because family and friends had condemned the suicide death and they ached for assurance and hope.

God spoke His words of comfort and I left feeling blessed and reminded that even though the enemy plotted evil against me, God turned it into something good (Genesis 50:19, 20).

Though we contend with the enemy of our souls on earth, God still rules the Universe and He will have the last word!

And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Romans 16:20

Let’s listen in on Jesus’ conversation with his disciples: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33

This entry was posted on March 28, 2014. 2 Comments

Lifeline

What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see . . . So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.  Hebrews 11:1, 6 NLT

“Your faith in God today is your lifeline to His heartbeat.”

“Faith is the hand that reaches up and takes hold of God’s promises and gathers in the spiritual treasures that are found in Christ. Faith sees the sunshine of God’s face, even when there are dark clouds all around.

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It is quite an experience the first time someone flies in a plane. The sky may be covered with dark clouds, but soon after takeoff, the plane breaks through the clouds. The passenger quickly discovers that the sky is still blue and the sun is still shining, even though things look quite different below. What things are possible for you today through faith? All things are possible, because your faith is in the God who knows no impossibilities.

*When the things that you are experiencing don’t make sense, faith says, ‘God knows what He is doing.’

*When your resources don’t match your need, faith says, ‘God is my provider.’

*When you are fearful to take the next step, faith says, ‘God will not fail me.’

*When you’re not sure what to do next, faith says, ‘God will guide me.’

*When you are in a situation that seems impossible, faith says, ‘Nothing is too hard for the Lord.’”

*  *  *

I remember my first flight. I was in high school and I was flying from the Midwest all the way to California! I was petrified and exhilarated all at the same time. Butterflies filled my tummy as the pilot picked up speed to get us off the ground. I was surprised by the G force and the speed at which trees and cars flew by and then we were airborne. How can one describe the scene outside the plane window? The thick fluffy clouds looked like a carpet that I could walk on and not fall thru. The blueness of the sky with filtered rays of the sun . . . it was too much to contain. I wanted to be out there!

Some day we will be up there. We will be able to fly anywhere. No gravity will pull us back to earth. Until then, we live by faith in the One who is our lifeline.

~shared devotional from “Today Is Your Best Day” by Roy Lessin

Hymnlines: “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” Part 1

A beuatiful rose for my beloved friends

A dear friend of mind loves this hymn. It is one of the “ancients” still  found in most hymnals today and has been popular since first written in 1855 by Joseph Scriven.

A modern arrangement is sung by Bette Mittler to the tune of “The Rose”. Bette’s rendition is a haunting melody that does not weaken the beauty, (drives me to tears) but brings it back to mind over and over. Both can be found on YouTube. Each one offers something different. The original hymn was written in the style of the past, but both resonate with those who are acquainted grief or carry heavy burdens.

What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

To share a little history about Joseph, at age 25, this Irish-born young man was in love and planning to marry. The day before his wedding, his fiancé died in a tragic drowning accident. Heartbroken, Joseph left his homeland and traveled to Canada to start a new life. While in Canada working as a teacher, he fell in love once again and became engaged to Eliza Roche, a relative of one of his students. Unbelievably, Joseph’s hope and dreams were shattered once again when Eliza became ill and died before their wedding could take place.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Although one can only imagine the heartache within Joseph’s heart, history tells us that his faith in God sustained him. Soon after Eliza’s death, he joined the Plymouth Brethren and began preaching. He never married, choosing to spend the remainder of his life giving of his time, means and even the clothes off his back to help someone in need. Above all, he sought in every way possible to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In His arms He’ll take and shield you; you will find a solace there.

Around the same time that Eliza died, Joseph received word from Ireland that his mother was ill. He could not travel the distance to be with her, so he wrote a letter of comfort and enclosed one of his poems entitled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”. Over thirty years later, noted musician Charles C. Converse (1834-1918), put music to poem giving us the beloved hymn we have today.

Blessed Savior, Thou hast promised Thou wilt all our burdens bear
May we ever, Lord, be bringing all to Thee in earnest prayer.
Soon in glory bright unclouded there will be no need for prayer
Rapture, praise and endless worship will be our sweet portion there.

To this day, no one knows for sure if Scriven’s death was accidental or not. A friend said that he had been in serious depression before he died. “We left him about midnight. I withdrew to an adjoining room, not to sleep, but to watch and wait. You may imagine my surprise and dismay when on visiting the room I found it empty. All search failed to find a trace of the missing man, until a little after noon, the body was discovered in the water nearby, lifeless and cold in death.”

Joseph Scriven’s authorship of his poem was discovered by accident shortly before his death in August, 1886. His story would probably have gone unnoticed in church history if it were not for this hymn that ranks among the ten best known and loved hymns of all time.

Perhaps you have a tragic story to tell. Perhaps you, too, survive someone you loved. Joseph’s life story gives us an example of a heart that was open to God’s love, giving back in many ways including the writing of this beloved hymn. Whether our stories are stored in the archives of history or not, they still matter. Every word and action we had with our beloved is treasured in our hearts still pumping with life.

My dear friends, we must love each other. Loves comes from God, and when we love each other, it shows that we have been given new life. We are now God’s children, and we know Him.  1 John 4:7

 

(Photo credit: Jose Luis Mieza Photography)


			

In Reckless Abandon


When Simon Peter realized it was Jesus, he left his buddies to work the fishing nets and dove into the sea.  John 21:7, paraphrased

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Peter couldn’t wait for the boat to be rowed to shore where His Master stood.  In reckless abandon, he dove into the water and headed for shore. No thought of his clothing, hair and make-up (from a female viewpoint) or whether he could swim in the frigid choppy waves.              

He had only one thought on his mind ~ he dropped everything to see His Master . . . his best Friend.

Is that what it takes, Lord? Absolute, earnest, utter, even reckless abandonment of myself to drop at Your feet in complete and total surrender of my will? You mean I have to give up everything?

This is not about my emotions or circumstances or surroundings. This is about looking eyeball to eyeball ~ Creator to created ~ and finally realizing there is nothing, positively nothing I value more than being Yours.

I have a desperate need and only You can fill it. So give me the courage to dive headlong toward You. Help me keep my eyes on You, stroke by stroke, until I stand before You, dripping, breathless, but ecstatic. I’m ready. Take my will, Lord. It’s Yours.

Love,

Your Daughter

My Dear Daughter(s),

Of all My disciples, Peter was the most impetuous. He could make Me laugh until My sides hurt! But he grew up from his impetuous and self-centered nature to total abandonment in his love for Me.

I see you standing before Me dripping wet ~ with your eyes bright with excitement and love. This world is harsh and often brutal with temptations, so do not take your eyes off Me. In My power and strength, I will guide you to where I am.

Love you,

Jesus

~from, “Shattered by Suicide” by G. Thompson

Tickle your funny bone

“Hearty laughter is a good way to jog internally without having to go outdoors.”  Norman Cousins

By Tina Phillips, published on 02 April 2012 Stock Photo - image ID: 10078542

Image courtesy of Tina Phillips / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Since I spend more time inside than out, I get what Norman is saying. One has no excuse for not getting exercise even if only by laughing out loud! I like Norman Cousin’s philosophy and I can relate. Since we really don’t know each other, I will turn the tables on myself since I can “step in it” with the best of them. Just ask my hubby. He watches in amazement at my bumbling in action and gets his internal jogging more times than I can count. It’s my red face, but you cannot pick me out in a crowd so I’m safe to reveal, right? If funny has no place in your life right now, you will not hurt my feelings if you hit the delete button. No internal jogging for you, but if you are slightly curious, then proceed . . . at my expense.

The sound of knee-slapping, uproarious laughter is not only contagious, it increases our face value. When we share funny stories over and over with others we are privileged to hear their laughter and laugh along with them, making the story into a priceless memory.

Laughter is healing. Even if you disagree today, that’s okay. I have shed plenty of tears over the last 8 years, but crying is draining. Sometimes if there is something that tickles the funny bone it gives respite to grief and a breath of fresh air to sorrow. I did not find anything funny after my son died. It was months, even longer, before there was even a hint of a smile on my face, but over the years since, I am grateful to see the humor in life. I believe it is one of God’s blessings. And so with this backdrop, I will venture into familiar territory to share some of my faux pas with you. Unfortunately they are all true (sigh), but maybe my embarrassing moments will bring a little comic relief if needed and even help you to remember some of your own. We’ve all had them from time to time. Admit it!

* * *

I don’t drink . . . but this particular day you might say I “wore” the influence. Many years ago my hubby and I were approaching the checkout lines at our neighborhood grocery store. It was cold enough for a coat and probably approaching the holiday season since the aisles were bulging with sweet temptations. I was pushing the cart from the back as hubby guided the overloaded cart from the front into the narrow passage so we could check out, which would have been a piece of cake had it not been for the tipsy wine display to my left. Well, the “left rear” side of my coat caught one of the wine bottles and, you might say, it unleashed a downpour. In seconds the whole stack of nicely arranged wine bottles began to jiggle and then tumble down, breaking and spilling all over me as they went south. Hubby saw it as if in slow motion. His face said it all, but he did not come to my rescue . . . oh, no . . . or he’d risk guilt by association. So instead, he played “Mr. Cool” but I saw right through his thin veneer ~ as his chest heaved up and down in his attempt to choke back laughter. What’s so funny? I was unhurt, but my jacket wreaked with the smell of alcohol and hubby gave me a wide berth as we left the store. Somehow the humor escaped me then, but over the years it has found my funny bone.

 * * *

I might as well say that in most of my stories I have an accomplice who is a hindrance to my anonymity and is more than happy to remind me of the details later. But that’s a good thing since this is about laughter, after all.                                                                                                                                                    

 Have you ever taken your hubby shopping and found yourself in a moment of mistaken identity? I can’t count the number of times I have done this. Why does it always have to be me? Why can’t I have the pleasure of enjoying him squirm a little? I know. Stop whining and just tell the story. Today was grocery day and apparently grocery day for a zillion other people, since the aisles were crowded with shoppers going every which way. At least it was mostly silent. Pause to think how loud and obnoxious it would be if carts had horns?                                                                                                                

Hubby pushed his own little cart, keeping him occupied getting his favorites. I was in the zone with my list; trying to doing some serious shopping in the produce department. My “wifie” antennae assumed that hubby was nearby since I had sent him off to bag some apples. A minutes or two later as I circled the apple display I noted that there were several varieties all with the same price tag. Since it was all about the price and intending to be helpful, I reached out and touched his arm, even stroking it a little as I offered, “Honey, did you notice that there are several varieties of apples all the same price?” Only then did I realize that I had a hold of a stranger’s elbow. He turned and looked down at me with what can only be described as a “deer in the headlights” expression since I fail to find words that fit better.

And no surprise. Hubby witnessed it all! I looked passed the stranger, which I had quickly let go of by then, and saw him grinning from the other side of the display. It was obvious he loved every second of it ~ watching me grasp the elbow of a stranger ~ probably thinking, why save her? This is too good not to enjoy! The stranger’s expression softened in relief, once he realized I was related to the guy laughing. I overheard him speak to my husband as I inched away, “I guess she doesn’t think I can pick out my own apples! While they enjoyed a little male bonding over the wife’s case of mistaken identity, I took my red face to the nearest cashier. Pricey apples!

* * *

I seem to be on a roll for “mess-ups” with strange men. Take the other evening for instance. I was on the phone with a friend when in the middle of conversation, I got a “power surge” (and menopausal women know what this is). So while chatting away, I stripped down a layer to cool off. Of course the doorbell rang . . .and rather insistently. I excused myself from the caller while quickly fumbling to get my shirt back on and answer the door.

There stood a man who could advertise for “big and tall” clothing. He cleared his throat stating, “I am here for our 5:00 appointment.” To which I replied, “I’m not aware that we have one.” Standing up to his full height which was high, he complained earnestly, that he had traveled many miles braving winter weather just to keep our appointment, but it had to be with both of us. I was relieved that he wouldn’t be stepping over the threshold this evening, but it was an awkward moment where he wanted to get out of the cold and I was home alone.

Then, pointing a finger in the general direction where my hubby usually parks, he noted, “I see someone driving in now. Is that your husband?” Since his car blocked my view and since I was only too eager to steer this tall man in a trench coat carrying a bulging briefcase elsewhere, I quickly responded, “Sure, it must be him. Go talk to him!” In haste, he headed for the driveway and it was then . . . and only then . . . that I noticed it was not my husband, but the man next door, borrowing our driveway because of too much ice and snow on his! And I’m thinking . . . just about now, the salesman is finding that out . . . as I see him make an about face and head back to the porch . . . and to me. But he eventually left in hopes of returning another day. I suppose I could just not schedule…

Only later in playing back this scenario to my hubby (who missed this one) did it become funny. I think there is an apology in my future. I must apologize to my neighbor who got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. But it did work to get rid of the salesman. Actually, come spring, I think I’ll ask my neighbor about that conversation. Should be interesting. Hope he remembers.

* * *

I know. This post is a long one, but can you “jog” just a little longer? It is about birthday time for me. The years rush by all too quickly and the numbers ascend all too quickly too. I have a sister two years older than me therefore she has her birthday first and mine follows. I know her number and that’s how I keep track of mine. Who needs math? I knew she was approaching the big “O” and I felt sympathy for her plight. I purchased a humorous card that I thought would cheer her up. I didn’t sign the inside, jokingly telling her in a letter that she could “re-gift” if she liked. We are at the age when it makes sense to be practical. Of course I included appropriate comments about her big “O” hoping she would forget and not retaliate when it came my turn. But I didn’t get that far.

Calling my sis to congratulate her on her birthday, I asked if she had gotten my card in the mail. She had not. As we conversed, I mentioned my “sorrow” at the number she was approaching. In surprise, she retorted, “I’m not turning 70! What are you thinking? I’m only 69!” I was shocked at her response. I had been “living 67″. . . maybe all year? (a rush of thoughts tumbled passed . . . had I filled out medical documents with the wrong age on them? Who knew?) My sister brought me back to the present with this: “Sis, how could I be 70 if you are going to be 67?” I was mute. Stunned. Slowly the realization sunk in. I had missed a whole year being 66 and she was happily avoiding the big “O” for another year. Who knew you could actually be younger than you think!

 I asked for it and she remembered . . . so I’ll share the card that arrived on my birthday. The message read: “An elderly woman called 911 on her cellphone to report that her car had been broken into. ‘They’ve stolen everything! The radio, my dashboard compass, even the steering wheel!!!’ 

The dispatcher responded, ‘Stay calm, a police officer is on the way.’

Minutes later, the office arrived and radioed in. ‘Disregard that last call . . . she got in the backseat by mistake.’”

Oh, yeah. And to be sure that I got the message in depth, she added a little math equation: current year – birth year = correct age. The good ending to this story is that I get to be 67 for another year. It’s like Groundhog Day!

“Mirth is God’s best medicine,” Harry Ward Beecher

If you are cheerful, you feel good; if you are sad, you hurt all over.  Proverbs 17:22, CEV

Where is hope?

When your heart is breaking, you can place your hope and trust in the Lord. Though it seems impossible to do and hope seems intangible, there is Someone we can lean on.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD” (Psalm 31:24).

Anne Graham Lotz defines hope: “Biblical hope is absolute confidence in something you haven’t seen or received yet, but you’re absolutely confident that whatever God has said is going to come to pass.”

She also declares that “Jesus is your hope for the future. One day Jesus Christ will come back, and He will set all of the wrong right. Good will triumph over the bad. Love will triumph over hate. Righteousness will triumph over evil. He’s going to make it all right, and you can have absolute confidence that that’s going to take place. That’s your hope.”

Sovereign God, I choose hope. I choose faith. I choose life. Give me an unshakable faith in You. Amen.

~shared from “A Season of Grief”

This entry was posted on February 22, 2014. 2 Comments

Back in Nain . . .

Jesus wept.  John 11:35

These two words are familiar to many. We recognize them as the shortest verse in the Bible. It is short, but meaningful. Jesus wept at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. I wonder why he bothered with tears when he knew he was about to wake up his friend and restore him to his family. I picture this scene in my mind and I can’t help but wish my family could be restored. You too? I “see” you nodding in agreement, for there are many of us who mourn.

If your heart cries out in longing and screams against the injustice that death brings . . . I’m with you. I get it. I understand your pain and I am so sorry for your suffering. Like me, if you have outlived one of your offspring, we know the deep, insatiable pain that has taken up residence in our hearts. We long for life to be put in reverse and take us back to a time when our family was complete, But it doesn’t work that way. . . or did it? The Author of life, who brought Lazarus back to life, was about to do it again. Please read on . . .

The next day, Jesus made His way to the little city of Nain, accompanied by His followers and many other people. As He approached the city gate, a funeral procession was on its way out.

Hit the pause button.

In my collection of  life experiences, more than once I have stopped, while traveling somewhere on any normal day, to let a stream of cars out of the driveway of a funeral home. The lead car, a limo. Each car following behind had a flag fluttering on its antenna. Count the cars. They are many. I let my mind tiptoe . . . for just a moment . . . into what it must be like for the grieving family and friends about now, but soon impatience takes over and I’m eager to be on my way. But let’s linger for just a moment longer. What if you were in one of those vehicles? What if you were in the first one right behind the hearse? Many of us have been and it’s awful. It’s numbing. We aren’t even aware of other cars traveling in the same direction . . . unless we hear a radio blaring in the next lane and its jarring base reminds us that life is running on normal for others. Maybe it’s a beautiful, sunny day, but you don’t notice. Maybe it’s raining buckets, but you’re unaware that you’re getting drenched.Your heart is crushed. Someone you love is taking their final ride to their place of rest and you want to scream in protest!

Maybe that’s how this widow felt. Let’s continue the story. . .

A widow’s only son had died and a large crowd made up of relatives, friends and sympathetic townspeople was following the men carrying the body. Jesus stepped aside to let them by, and as the weeping mother passed, His heart went out in compassion for her.  

Hit the pause button again.

Perhaps you understand what this mother was feeling? Perhaps you’ve been there . . . but she had the advantage, although she didn’t know it yet. Her heart is broken. Her eyes are so full of tears she can hardly make out the face of the man standing right beside her. Let’s read on.

As she looked up at Him, He said, “Don’t cry.” Then He stopped the procession, walked over to the litter on which the body lay, touched it and said, “Young man, I am telling you, Get up!” The young man opened his eyes, sat up and began to talk. Then Jesus presented him to his mother. 

Hit the pause button again.

Sometimes powerful stories, such as this one, are covered so quickly in just a few sentences that they barely have time to sink into our pores. There had to have been many emotions tumbling over one another in this mother’s mind as she stood transfixed, looking into the face of her very-much-alive boy! How could this be? She knew he had died; she felt his cold, lifeless body. She agonized over his death and shuttered against the loneliness that would stalk her remaining days . . . but he’s alive! Can you imagine her joy? Maybe she did cartwheels she was so happy . . . or not, but read on.

The people were dumb with amazement. When they found their tongues, they praised God, saying, ‘”A great prophet has come to visit us. God has not forgotten His people.” The news of what Jesus had done spread throughout Judea and all the regions of Israel.  Luke 7:11-17, The Clear Word

God had not forgotten. Oh how I would have loved to trade places! How I would have loved for Jesus to be in my town and stop my funeral procession and wake up my son! But it was her son. Her joy. Jesus’ joy too. Can you picture his face as he watches the two of them embrace? How wonderful to be Jesus and witness joy between two of his created and reunited children. How wonderful to be Jesus with His power over death!

Some may scoff at this story, but I choose to believe that all Bible stories are true and though from very long ago, still today help to grow our faith. Jesus did heal. He did breathe life back into death. In his presence, death has no power, not then or now. But we can’t reach out and touch Jesus today; not like people could then. As much as I longed for my son’s chest to fill with air and he sit up in his coffin, it didn’t happen. I must wait. I’m impatient, probably like you, but we must wait.

We won’t always be in sorrow. The grief journey is hard and seemingly endless, but it won’t always be so. Just as I believe this story to be true, I also believe that our children will be raised up again with brand new, immortal life and death will be burned up, never to hurt us again. God will swallow up death forever.  The Lord, the Eternal, will wipe away the tears from each and every face and deflect the scorn and shame His people endure from the whole world, for the Eternal determined that it should be so.  Isaiah 25:8, The Voice

Until then, friend, we hope.

Through Him, you’ve been brought to trust in God, who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him for the very reason that your faith and hope are in Him.  1 Peter 1:21, The Voice