If I Could Take the Stairs

“If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane, I’d walk right up to heaven and bring you home again.” Author Unknown.

Sommer was 22 ½ the day she died.  So young.  Too young really.  Every day since her death I have walked in a fog.  In a tunnel of grief.  The pain of losing someone so young and wonderful has clouded my vision, and at times I have felt unaware of what is going on around me.  Someone might be talking to me and I am miles away.  In a vacuum of grief.  I have been blinded at times by pain and grief that I simply can not see God.  I can’t feel God.  Though I know He is always with me.  Whispering in my ear:

“I love you.”

“I’ve got you.”

“I am bringing you through this season.”

This season may be a lifetime.  I believe that today is going to be better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today.  I have hope.  I have hope in grief.

There are days I think this is all just a bad dream and she is off on a missionary trip and will come home in a few months or a year.  And I would love to bring her home again.

But the thing is I know she is home.  Eternal home.  No tears.  No discouragement. No favoritism.  No rejection. No disappointments.  Just pure love and pure joy.

I read this today from “Our Daily Bread” and want to share it with you:

“In Luke 24, tow disciples, confused and brokenhearted after Jesus’s death, didn’t realize they were walking with their resurrected Teach Himself, even as He explained from Scripture why the promised Savior had to die and rise again.  Only when He took bread and broke it was it revealed that this was Jesus. (v.30-31) Although the followers of Jesus had faced death in all its horror when Jesus died, through His resurrection from the dead God showed them how to hope again.

Like those disciples, we might feel weighed down with confusion or grief.  But we can find hope and comfort in the reality that Jesus is alive and at work in the world and in us.  Although we still face heartache and pain, we can welcome Christ to walk with us in our tunnel of grief.  As the Light of the world (John8:12), He can bring rays of hope to brighten our fog.”  Amy Boucher Pye

Even when we grieve, we have a blessed hope in Jesus.  He will bring light to my darkness.  He will give me hope when I am confused and sad.  He will help me to see His glory today and tomorrow.  One day at a time.

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Naked Before the Lord

In John 8:1-11 we learn about the adulteress woman and how Jesus responded to her and the situation.

There was more going on then Pharisees calling her out for her great sin.  They were trying to catch Jesus out.  But He was not going to play Old Testament Bible Ball with them.

 “Jesus returned to the Mount of Olives, but early the next morning he was back again at the Temple. A crowd soon gathered, and he sat down and taught them. As he was speaking, the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in the act of adultery. They put her in front of the crowd.” John 8:1-3

So here we have a woman probably half naked dragged out into the crowd.  How afraid she must have felt.  In her day adultery was worthy of stoning for the man and the woman but notice it was only her they accused.  Perhaps one her accusers was one of those men who had put her on public display.  Think about that.  I can’t say for sure but there was a man involved because she was dragged out of someplace caught in her sin.

Just before the Feast of Tabernacles in the fall of the year before His crucifixion, Jesus was laying low because of those who were already wishing Him dead.  Before the feast, He quietly returned to Jerusalem.

Once there, He remained in the shadows, not making too much of a fuss so as not to cause any problems.  But halfway through the week-long celebration, He went into the temple and began to teach.  Some people were impressed, yet the teachers of the law and of course the Pharisees were enraged.  That is pretty angry.

“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery. The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?”

They didn’t beat around the bush with her they called it the way they saw it and they were trying to trick Jesus.  Like that’s really going to happen.

He knew it was a trick nothing was new when it came to Jesus and the Pharisees just a new tactic.  You see in those days, a Jew had no say in the corporal punishment of such a crime.  That was Rome’s job.  So, if Jesus said “stone her” He would have been jutting his jaw at the Roman’s.  Not the best idea.

They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”

The woman by this time is probably crying.  Maybe she was hiding behind Jesus to cover her nakedness.  Or maybe she laid flat on the ground at His feet.  Rather than give an answer what do we Jesus doing?  He bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger.  What do you suppose He was writing?  I think He was writing out each of their names and listing their secret sins.

Then He stood and said, “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to heave a stone at her.”  My words.

Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.

I see each man’s list of sins growing longer.  Standing there, draped in all their religious and fabric finery, they were before Hin in as naked a for as they’d ever been.

When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman.

I don’t think these men just casually turned and walked away.  I think they got out of “Dodge.”  They wanted to put as much distance between them and the woman as quickly as possible. Now here comes the beauty of the story:

10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”

11 “No, Lord,” she said.

And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”

Is that just like our savior.  We who are in Christ Jesus are no longer accused.  We are redeemed.

As a child of God let us walk without shame and bathe in the redemptive love of His blood shed for us all.

 

Know That You Are Loved

We live in a sinful world that is fraught with conditional promises and relationships. Sometimes even those closest to us let us down. Despite this reality, our greatest need is to be loved unconditionally. We want to be loved with a perfect, sacrificial, forever kind of love in spite of our faults by someone who knows us intimately.

Further, we want to be supported and inspired by that love to not only become better people but to also leave lasting impressions on this earth. God provides us with that as no one else can.

That’s what theologians have meant over the years by saying that we have a God-shaped hole in our heart; there’s a space we were created with that only God can fill. And the love we were made to need is strong and unshakable. The Apostle Paul, who founded the early church, writes:

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:38- 39).

That love claims you by faith. Wherever you are feeling unloved today, drink it in.

Bask in The Sunshine

We know a couple who had their first baby when we found out I was pregnant with our first daughter, Sommer.  When we called to tell them our news they gushed with how “rewarding” having a baby was for them.  Nine months later I’m having a difficult time in the birth of Sommer and the doctor ended up vacuuming her little head, terrible experience but it avoided a C-section.  Four hours and five minutes after my push time started, she was born.  Screaming I might add.   She screamed every night until the early morning hours.  Just in time for the new daddy to get up for an hour commute and a full day of work.

We loved our baby girl but there was not a feeling of “reward.”  In fact, I felt overwhelmed, tired, confused and a bit frustrated.  Why didn’t my baby sleep like other babies?  We walked around on tiptoes when Sommer finally fell asleep only to have her wake up screaming again.  I thought there must be something wrong with me.  My baby girl didn’t like me.  She was not content with anything.  I nursed her around the clock for months and still, she didn’t sleep well.  She had a healthy set of lungs and a great digestive system but there was nothing terribly rewarding about motherhood at first.  I loved her but was not in love with her.  That took some time.  I was so frazzled with my new job as a mommy that I thought for sure I was not cut out to do the job, but it was too late to take her back.  So, I soldiered on and on and on.  Then one day she smiled at me and my heart melted, and I fell in love with this chubby little baby and all the stress I felt left me, and I finally felt rewarded.

I thought I had a lifetime guarantee to be Sommer’s mom, but God had a better plan then my plans.  I can only see things in my limited view, but God not only sees the big picture, the wider canvas, but He is also the painter, the photographer of the snapshots of this life.  He called Sommer home at the age of 22.  I was supposed to grow old, watch her get married, possibly have children.  Her dreams were my dreams for her.  Just like the dreams of our other daughters are my dreams for them.  Of course, I want God’s will for them to be done but I share in their dreams and callings in this world.

Sometimes I feel let down by God.  Ripped off.  I didn’t get to have her for a lifetime.  I didn’t get to watch her dreams come true.  But one did come true.  She wanted to spend eternity with God, and I watched that dream come true the day she died.

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Don’t let Satan steal your joy.

 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

Bask in the love of Christ and feel His peace cover you and bring you joy.

Our Thoughts Control Our Destiny

Today I read this devotional by Robert Jeffress.  I want to share it with you because, well, it touched my heart.

As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he.
–Proverbs 23:7 KJV

In our language and culture, when we talk about a person’s heart, we are talking about the seat of emotions. We say, “I love you with all my heart.” Or, “I feel this with all my heart.” But in the Hebrew mindset, there were two organs in the body: the heart and the bowels. The bowels represented the lower extremities of a person–the gut of a person if you will. So, to Hebrews, the seat of emotions was not the heart; it was the bowels. The bowels represented the sexual organs and deep, gut feelings. That is where a person felt things–in his bowels.

The heart, in a Hebrew mindset, was the center of thought. Most of the Bible was written by Hebrews, so when Scripture talks about the heart it is not talking about emotions; it is talking about the mind. For example, Psalm 14:1 says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” In other words, the fool has said in his mind there is no such thing as God. Or Proverbs 23:7 says, “As [a person] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (KJV). Where does he think? In his heart–which, in our language, would be his mind. Get the picture? The bowels represent emotion, and the heart represents thought.

Our minds are important because our thoughts control our actions, and our actions control our destiny. And that is why the Bible puts a premium on our thoughts–what we call the mind, but what the Hebrews called the heart. For example, Proverbs 4:23 says, “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.” I have heard people misapply that verse for years. I have heard people talk to teenagers about this verse and say, “You better guard your heart. Guard your affections. Do not give those affections away too freely, because that is the foundation of your life.” That is not what this verse is talking about at all. It is not talking about giving away your emotions. This proverb says to guard over your mind because your mind is the center point of everything else that happens in your life.

Proverbs 23:19 says, “Listen, my son, and be wise, and direct your heart”–that is, direct your mind–“in the way.” As the mind goes, so goes the rest of a person.

Grieve. Just Grieve.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

Nothing!  NOTHING,  in life, can prepare us for the death of a loved one.  Whether death results from a sudden accident or a sustained illness, it always catches us off-guard.  In our case an unexplained cause of death.  Death is so deeply personal and stunningly final, nothing can emotionally prepare us for its arrival.  With every death, there is a loss.  And with every loss, there will be grief.

Grief doesn’t care and go in an orderly, confined timeframe.  Just when we think the pangs of anguish have stolen their last breath, another wave sweeps in and we are forced to revisit the memories, the pain, the fear.  Sometimes we try to resist the demands of grieving.  We long to avoid this fierce, yet holy pilgrimage.  We fight against the currents, grieving. We fight against the currents terrified of being overwhelmed, of being discovered, of becoming lost in our brokenness.

Culture tells us to move past this process quickly.  Take a few days, weeks perhaps, to grieve, but don’t stay there too long.  Grieving can make those around us uncomfortable.  Friends sometimes don’t know what to do with our pain.  Loved ones struggle to find adequate words to comfort our aching wounds.

Yet grief, as painful a season as it is, is a necessary part of our healing.  To run from grief is to run from the very thing that can quell the pain of our loss.  English poet and hymnodist, William Cowper, described grief itself as medicine.  Greif cleanses the anguish from our souls and set us back upon the path of life so we can dance.  Grieving is the process God uses to bring us to a place of wholeness.  Grieving is His great gift to us.  It is a necessary part of our journey.  Healing.

Grieving can be the most difficult time for people.  Trying to balance the feelings of pain and loss while going forward with your everyday life.  Give yourself space and time, be honest with your emotions, don’t grieve alone, and don’t lose hope.

His Beloved!

The Woman Who Touched His Robe

There is a story inside the story of Jairus and that is about the sick woman:

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped, and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”  Mark 24b-29.

This poor woman had suffered for twelve years.  Twelve years.  That is a long time to suffer from some sort of bleeding issue.  It’s a miracle she was still alive.  The type of bleeding she had can cause problems such as a fast heartbeat, low blood pressure, and low body temperature.  Not to mention how weak the woman must have been and yet she goes looking for Jesus.  She had been to doctors.  They took her money and gave her no cure.  Back then doctors didn’t know what they know today.  Some would argue that doctors do the same today, take your money and offer no cure or a pill to take.  Their idea of treatment back then might have been worse than the disease itself.  One thing is certain-she was only getting worse.  This woman was helpless and hopeless-until she heard about Jesus.

He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.  Luke 17:6

Like Jairus, this woman had faith in Jesus.  She was certain that Jesus could heal her.  She knew that He was so powerful that if she could just touch the hem of His clothes, she would be healed.  That is faith.  Back then it was believed that the garment of a great teacher had power in it.

Imagine being in a swimming pool on a hot summer day.  If a lifeguard hears thunder or sees lightning, what happens?  The lifeguard clears the pool.  This happened to our family on a small vacation to Dallas.  We were all enjoying the day, and, in the distance, we heard thunder.  What we could not see was the lighting from an approaching storm.  The security men closed the pool.  They knew that if lightning hits the water, the electrical power will travel through the water and shock anyone who is in or touching the water. You don’t have to touch the lighting to be shocked-touching the water that is touched by lightning is enough.  Jesus’ power must have worked something like that.  His power is greater than that of lightning.  By His power, the entire universe was created!  All the woman had to do was to touch His clothing, in faith, and she was instantly healed.  She could feel the relief wash over her body.  There was no question- she was healed.

If you’ve had blood taken out of your arm you understand that sensation of the blood rushing back to your fingers when the rubber band is taken off.

30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’”

32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”

Many people were crowded around Jesus.  Indeed, many people touched Him. But there was something very different about this woman.  She knew that she was helpless.  She was truly poor in spirit, and she put all her hope in Jesus.  So, Jesus asked who had touched Him.  When He asked who touched Him, the woman became afraid.  Maybe like a child who got caught touching something they know they should not.

Jesus didn’t call her forward because she was in trouble.  It was just the opposite.  He wanted her to know that she had done very well to put her trust in Him.  The woman was healed.  Jesus could have left it at that.  But Jesus wanted to give her more.  MORE!  He wanted to give her the peace of knowing that He was happy to heal her.  She didn’t’ have to live her life thinking she had “stolen” this blessing.  Jesus poured out His grace on her like a big hug.  Not only did He heal her, but He also gave her peace.

Jesus will never think of your need as an interruption in His day!  And He will never scold you for coming to Him!  No, quite the opposite- He will be so pleased that you had the faith to trust Him and bring your every need to Him.  Ever time you bring your needs to Jesus, you are showing that you have faith in Him – you trust that He has the power and compassion to help you.