Monday, October 17, 2011

This is my God.

The older I get the more I realize how much time I have wasted.  I look at my life and think about what part of my life has really counted, what would I consider my most successful years.  The answer is absolutely, without a doubt, the last six years.  I am 36 years old and truthfully my life, my memories, my everything just about boils down to years 30 and up.  These are the years that have counted.  These are the years where I have done the most to glorify Him.  These are the years that I will be rewarded for on "that day". 

Last night I spent a couple of hours on the phone with one of my favorites.  We talked a lot about life, regrets, addictions, sin, God, grace, I guess you could say we covered more than we planned too.   I shared my weaknesses and the core of my strength.  I did my very best to put into words what God has done for me.  Only to realize that it is impossible for me to explain the impact that my salvation has had on my life.  But I tried.  I wanted to crawl through the phone screaming SURRENDER!! TRUST ME IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!  I wanted to dance and scream and laugh and cry.  I wanted to yell "Look at me. Do you see me?  Do you see my flaws and my failure?!  HE LOVES ME ANYWAY!! Just like he will love you!!!"  Oh how frustrating it is to love someone and want them to have what you have but know that they have to want it enough to ask for it. 

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

-- 2 Chronicles 7:1
This is what I wanted to say.  I have failed miserably at studying the bible.  I have no excuse.  And because of that times like these, times like last night when I needed to be able to spout off scripture that supported my argument, I had nothing.  Sometimes I think that is okay because when you can do it, it makes people think you know more than they do.  Other times, like last night, I needed to be able to support myself and I couldn't.  It was pathetic.

I went to bed and pray fervently for my friend.  I asked for wisdom, I asked for words and Proverbs 3 is what He gave me.  Now this sounds less exciting if you know Proverbs 3.  It is actually a great book and chapter to turn to in a conversation like the one my friend and I were having.  What makes Proverbs 3 a gift in this case, is that I had no idea what it said. ;)  Which proves my earlier point that my bible knowledge is less than pathetic and at the same time it shows us that the Lord answers if you ask, even if you are a poor student.  If you don't believe me, keep reading.

 Proverbs 3
Wisdom Bestows Well-Being
1 My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.
3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favor and a good name
in the sight of God and man.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.[a]
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
9 Honor the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.
11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.[b]
13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her;
those who hold her fast will be blessed.
19 By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
20 by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.
21 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion;
22 they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
23 Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
26 for the LORD will be at your side
and will keep your foot from being snared.
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you.
29 Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
30 Do not accuse anyone for no reason—
when they have done you no harm.
31 Do not envy the violent
or choose any of their ways.
32 For the LORD detests the perverse
but takes the upright into his confidence.
33 The LORD’s curse is on the house of the wicked,
but he blesses the home of the righteous.
34 He mocks proud mockers
but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.
35 The wise inherit honor,
but fools get only shame.

This is my God.  My God that answers, my God that rewards even the relatively faithful, my God that wants so badly for us to bring people to Him that He gives relevant scripture to unversed, spiritually lazy housewives at 11:30 PM because they ask.  So proudly, I text my friend with this beautifully relevant scripture taking full credit for knowing just what was needed.   NOPE, that is not what happened.  I am not a spiritual genius, but I do give all credit for this one to God.  So I sent a text saying, "I prayed, He answered, read this".

I prayed, He answered.  I prayed, He answered.  I prayed, He answered.   How much clearer, how much better, how much easier can it get?  This was the exact message that I had been trying to relay ALL NIGHT.  If you will pray, He will answer.  And so He proved it once again to me as I fumbled with words and prayer for someone I love that did not need me, but needed Him. 

As a friend, a sister, a wife, a mother, a daughter I want to love and support the ones closest to me.  I have always wanted to be someone the lean on and someone they turn too. What I realized last night for the first time ever, is that what I want is selfish.  What I want is out of pride and self worth.  My desire to help and give sound advice and be the person they need in tough times is just that, MY DESIRE.  And as I spoke last night, so badly wanting to lead my friend in the direction that I wanted for them, the place that I wanted them to be, the life that I wanted them to have I realized that what I REALLY wanted was for God to do the leading. I realized that I loved this friend enough to put my pride aside, to not give my own advice and to let God do His work, in His time.  So I fought against myself and against the sin which is pride and I prayed for words as we spoke.  I lead my friend towards Jesus and advised my friend to lean on God, to ask God, to let God.  And then we prayed together. 

When the conversation ended and we hung up the phone I have no idea how my friend felt, but what I do know is that I was closer to God.  My relationship had been strengthened in my efforts to strengthen His relationship with someone I love.  Wow.  How He can change my heart while I am trying to change the heart of a friend is beyond me.  But I will tell you that last night, it was one of my earthly rewards and  I was beyond blessed by the conversation.  To sit and share my faith and love and dependence on my Lord with someone that I care about was such a blessing for me. To be able to show my passion for my Savior openly and boldly was a gift.   To pray out loud for someone who doesn't know where to start was an honor.  To end the evening able to share relevant scripture only because I asked for it was a miracle.  Blessings, gifts, honors and miracles.....this is my God.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Luke 18:16

When you lose a child you realize two things  First, there is no way to explain the pain in words and second, most of the people that say they understand do not.  I realized this when we lost our boy.  I realized that everyone that loved us, everyone that was there for us, everyone that wanted so desperately to understand, did not.  No one in our world on this earth understood the pain, the frustration, the questions, the hole, the absence, the anger, the rage, the sadness, the desperation that we felt, no one......except Kelly.

I have known Kelly longer than I care to admit because it reminds me that I am fast approaching 40.  She is one of my favorites.  One of the people that I love most in the whole world.  And she, unfortunately, is the only person that I knew in March of 2010 that understood exactly how we felt when God took our little boy to heaven.  Almost 12 years ago God took one of hers to heaven.  Hunter was 3 years old.  Over the last 12 years I have talked to Kelly about Hunter countless times.  Not because I wanted her to re-live her sadness, but because I wanted to understand.  I wanted to hear about this little boy that she loved so much.  I wanted to remember with her and be part of that life so that I understood on the days that it seemed no one did.  I realized after I had Kathryne that no matter how badly I wanted to understand what Kelly had been through, no matter how much I loved her, I did not have a clue. 

The way a parent loves a child is not something that is learned.  It is all consuming, unwavering, unconditional love that you will never understand until you have one of your own to nurture and take care of.  I realized this the moment I held Kathryne.   It was then that I knew that I would never understand what Kelly had endured.  I would never truly grasp the loss that she had faced.  Well at least not for a few years to come. 

With my family grew my faith.  My love for my Lord grew daily as I watched my belly grow with each pregnancy and my family grow with each birth.  The girls were undeserved grace slapping me in the face on a daily, moment to moment, basis.  I was in awe at the love my heavenly Father must have for me. I knew, I knew all I had done, all of my garbage, all of my sin and at times I wondered "does HE know!?"  Because certainly I had to have slipped a few things by Him.  Otherwise I would never have met Doc and birthed these amazing, beautiful, healthy children. 

As I watched my girls sleep night after night, each breath even more precious than the last, I asked Him.  "How?  How could you have let your child die for me?  How could you have sacrificed someone you love like this for all of the ugly, selfish, greedy sinners in the world?  How did you breathe when you knew it was coming?  How did you watch Him be beaten and tortured?  How did you watch Him take him last breath and not die with Him?!?"  I did not understand.  Nor did I want too.  But I was beyond grateful for the sacrifice that would allow me to live for eternity with these little people that held my heart.

On March 4, 2010 I began to understand all that I never wanted too.  I began to understand how my sweet Kelly felt year after year.  I began to imagine her loss and her anger.  I began to grasp the reality of what life feels like when you bury a child.  It was then and only then that I had a glimpse of what my Lord had truly done for me and I was blown away.  I woke up three days later from a medical fog and we buried our little boy.   The reality of what happened would set in over the months that followed.  Phone call after phone call of people telling us how sorry they are and how life goes on.  Giving what seems like appropriate encouragement filled with "at least you have the girls" and "focus on your blessings" each time us realizing more and more that no one really understood, no one except Kelly and God. 

Kelly and God were the only two people in my life that had lost a son and could possible understand how I felt.  So that is who I turned too.  I called Kelly and she cried with me.  I could text her one word and she would know what I meant.  She came to see me and let me tell her the entire, gory, nightmare that was the birth of my son and listened intently to every word.  She knew she could not make it okay.  She knew she could not take away the pain I felt, so instead she endured it with me.  At  night it was me and Him.  I would beg Him to take he pain away.  I would tell Him how I understood what He had done more than I ever wanted too.  I would thank Him.  Thank Him for grace, for mercy, and yes for helping me to understand what He had done for me and those I love. Over the last 18 months I have turned to both of them countless times. March came and went, and I survived. During the toughest times I prayed and He answered. I called and she listened. Now that I am through the fog I realize what a blessing it is for me to share my greatest tragedy with one of my best friends and my Heavenly Father.

November is Kelly's March.  As it approaches I am praying incessantly.  Praying for peace for her heart.  Praying that He wraps her up in His arms and comforts her like no one can.  Praying that I have the right words or the appropriate silence, whichever she may need. I am reminded that our sons Bennett and Hunter, though not in our arms here on earth, are in Heaven sitting on the lap of His son Jesus, waiting to spend eternity with us.  And with this, today, not everyday, but today, I smile.  I love you Kelly. 

But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God." Luke 18:16.