The Dramatic Pause: Life With Teenagers

I had such a busy day sprawled out ahead of me. Staff meetings. Orthodontist appointments. Rehearsal. Dance class. And the little thing we like to call ‘work’ was mixed in the middle of it all. Praise God for whoever invented the crock pot.

I rushed out of my staff meeting early to pick my teenager up for a routine orthodontist appointment. I expected to drop in and drop out and be done in under an hour. But, of course they were backed up with patients today. No worries. More time to waste on social media.

When my daughter finally emerged from her good old-fashioned tooth straightening, I was ready to send her straight back to school. There were still miles to go before I could sleep.

But she said, “I’m hungry and I’ve missed lunch at school.”

“So, eat the lunch I packed for you this morning. You can eat it in the car.”

<Enter dramatic pause>

“You were hoping I’d take you out for lunch weren’t you?”

Teenagers always seem to have a way of planning everything around food. It’s never “Who will be there?” or “What time should I be ready?” It’s always, “What will we have to eat there?” I am very certain that my children ask me, “What’s for dinner” more than any other single question and at multiple times during the day. I suppose they think I may change the menu or worse yet, forget to feed them.

But she got lucky today. I was hungry myself and there was nothing waiting for me back at the office. So, I let her choose a place that I could drive through and send her on her way.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I was gently reminded that these times are fleeting. I will not have many more precious moments and requests for a lunch date before my beautiful girl goes off to college in a couple years. So, I seized the moment and offered to dine-in. She gladly accepted the invitation. I know it was more to avoid returning to AP History class, but a mother can pretend that her company is appreciated even by her 15yo daughter.

I am so glad she accepted my invitation. We are both so busy. It felt so good to spend an uninterrupted moment with her. It was there sitting across from my baby girl as she dove into a pile of greasy french fries that she took my breath away. I had forgotten how gorgeous her eyes are. God gave her the most amazing colored eyes speckled with greens and blues, all trimmed with a deep indigo rim. One day some undeserving boy will look into them and sweep her off her feet.

But not today. Today when I asked her how she was she answered with the generic, “Fine.”

And then followed it with another dramatic pause. She’s good at that.

Whenever she starts a sentence with, “Soooo….” I know I am in for a very long discussion.

She was very troubled by something a friend of hers had trusted to her. It was between sips of her Dr. Pepper that she spilled some very heavy information to me. She kept telling me about the situation and I just listened and tried to offer advice when she asked for it. I couldn’t help but think how very lucky I am to have a daughter who is a). Willing to be seen eating french fries with me and b). Still seeking advice from me in her teen years.

While she was talking I remembered back to when she was a doll-baby and she’d talk and talk and talk to me about the most random things. And I think because I listened to her when her biggest problems involved imaginary friends, she can trust me even more now when her friends are very real.

Let us never discount the importance of even the smallest things in our children’s lives. For if they can trust us with the small things, they will be more likely to trust us with the big ugly things later. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather my kids trust me with the big ugly stuff than to trust the rest of this world.

I am so very glad I took a few more moments in my day to eat lunch with one of my most favorite people. It eased a bit of her burdens to talk some things out. And if the truth be told, it eased some of mine too. I’m not a perfect mom. I mess up a lot. I yell at my kids and forget to sign permission forms, etc. But I like to think I got it right today. In the middle of a crazy Tuesday, I took the road less traveled by way of a fast food restaurant and it made all the difference.

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Three Reasons Why Failing In 2018 Will Be Ok

Raise your hand if you have already messed up on the changes you decided to make in 2018.

Really?! You too? I thought I was the only one!

I don’t make resolutions anymore for this very reason. I make things easier and choose just one word or theme to focus on to improve my life. Seems so simple.

Turns out, I can screw that up too!

So here I am, being so very human and feeling like I can’t do anything right. I can’t even go a couple days without slipping back into my old comfy place. The place where nothing grows. I’m beating myself up about how much discipline I lack.

“Lord, I’m such a failure! I can’t even make it a week without failing!”

I felt like giving up. Already.

What’s the point? I set out to do something and I didn’t do it. Barely even a week into the New Year and I wish I could start over. I wish I didn’t have a blemish already.

That’s when God reminded me of three things to make a do-over not only possible, but Biblical.

God Doesn’t Work On A Timeline

He’s eternal. There’s no 2018 on God’s time. There’s no New Year to celebrate or agenda to keep. Sure, he separated the day from the night and set the Earth into a rhythm of 365. But that was for our feeble little human minds to help compartmentalize our lives.

If we’re living for eternity, then a couple days in January when life got a little nuts and we lost focus of our goals is a mere speck compared to God’s grand scheme of things.

And since He doesn’t have a timeline, anytime is a good time for a fresh start.

Psalm 102:12

God is Omnipresent

It doesn’t matter if you’re at work or in the car on the way, God is there for your turn-around. I used to tell my kids that God is everywhere, even in the bathtub. They used to think that was silly, but God has shown up in big ways many times while I was in the shower.

There’s no place like the present to get a do-over. Don’t wait to get home from work, vacation or even to finish reading this paragraph. If you need a fresh start, take it now! God’s here. And He’s staying here. He’s waiting for you to make the move.

Psalm 139: 7-10

God’s Mercy is New Every Morning Not Just On January 1st.

This one is my favorite. Nothing screams “fresh start” like a beautiful sunrise. Early morning dew.  Crisp, clean air.

And, oh so many nights I have gone to bed feeling deflated, defeated, exhausted and discouraged only to wake up feeling refreshed and hopeful for a new day. I am not a morning person and I never will be, but I have found myself clinging to the promise of a new day more times than I can count. It helps me to know that however I failed today, I get a clean slate in the morning. Every day of the year.

Lamentations 3: 22-23

So, we’re only a few days into a brand new year and I am bound to screw up another 364 times. But I know that our God is always there ready to give fresh mercies whenever we need them.

Forever and ever. Amen.

 

I’d love to hear from you. Check out the comments and let me know how God is working already in your life in 2018.

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Unforgettable: When God Writes The Story

wordoftheyear2018

I love words. I’m the girl who sits and reads the dictionary during her leisure time.  Yes, the paper copy. When I hear a new word, I almost always look it up and practice saying it over and over again.  Sometimes, as with a popular song, I will get a word stuck in my head. The poetry of it is melodious to me. I know. I’m weird.

It should be of no surprise then, that God uses words to mold me into who He wants me to be. As if He is allowing me a sneak peek into the grand story He’s writing for my life, these words hold a theme of what He will allow and walk me through.

The concept of choosing just one word to meditate on for an entire year is not new, but I still love it. I begin to pray about it around November (looking forward to a new year anyone?) and begin to reflect on what God brought me through with the word he gave me previously. I’ve been given “intentional” and “trust” the last two years. Both of those words proved to refine me in ways I didn’t plan.

I thought “Intentional”  would remind me to be a better friend. You know, be intentional about how I spent my time with others and invest in those I cared about. Turned out God wrote that word on my heart because he wanted me to be more intentional about the time I spent with Him! I could not have survived a broken heart without all the time I spent in the Word and praying. Intentionally seeking my one true love. Jesus.

Trust. This year my husband spent 10 days in 2 different hospitals with a traumatic injury that almost took the use of his arm. The days and weeks and now months after the injury have been nothing short of a challenge. Learning to live with the pain, the limited use of his arm and the lingering question on whether the dead bone used to replace the one he lost will ever ‘come alive’ or not, all of that takes a whole lot of trust in a God who has our best interests at heart.

This year I also began a new full-time director position in children’s ministry at our church. The stretch marks and bruises from that alone have left me questioning what God has gotten me into. And I realize it’s all part of that tiny little word He wrote for me. Trust.

Since the last two years of my life have been so challenging, I hesitate to choose another word. But I realize that the words God uses to write my story allows me to focus more on a reason for the challenges and not just wallow in the suffering. And since I tend to be a carefree spirit and want to do things my way, I know that God has given me this word for 2018:

Discipline.

It really doesn’t sound like a fun word at all.  God will even back me up on that one;

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11

Not enjoyable. Sounds like just the kind of year everyone wishes for! While the work and discipline may not be easy, afterward comes the peaceful harvest.

Being disciplined with my money yields a more secure future for my family and sharing wealth with those who need it more than me.

Being disciplined in my time with the Lord nourishes my soul to better be able to minister to those around me.

Being disciplined with the food I put on the table provides a healthier life for my family and loved ones.

Being disciplined with my time leaves me more time to do the things I love to do, like write, read and spending time with my family.

Discipline is not enjoyable, and to be honest I wish my word was different for 2018. But I am also looking forward to what the fruits of that labor will be.

“Intentional” helped me better understand the characteristics of God.

“Trust” helped me better understand that he is always there, even on my darkest days.

Who knows what ‘discipline’ will teach me this year. I won’t know until a year from now. But it is guaranteed that if I continue to let God write the words, the story will be unforgettable.

 

What word has God given you for 2018? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.

 

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Details: When God Gives You A Pickle

Distraction. We all struggle with it.  So many things demand our attention every day. Work. Kids. Relationships. Some of us are involved in so many activities there just doesn’t seem to be time for work, kids and relationships. Our devices intended to make our lives easier sometimes are the most distracting things in our lives.

Have you ever felt that way?

I am certain that God never intended for us to live like this. God never wants us to get so bogged down with so much that we can’t pay attention to the little things.

God pays attention to the little things.

I am reading chronologically through the Bible. Some of the Old Testament books are not very good bedtime stories. I find my thoughts drifting off and wishing for an easier read. When I got into Exodus and God is giving all the instructions on how He wanted the Temple built and the dimensions of the Ark of the Covenant, I literally stopped, groaned and said aloud:

“Why do all of these details matter?”

And God answered, “Because details matter to Me.”

Now, it’s not every day that God answers me right back, but it’s not unusual when I take the time to dig into His word. It is so important to get to know my Heavenly Father and His character. That’s only possible by reading His autobiography, the Bible.

So, I wasn’t surprised that He answered me so clearly and I wasn’t surprised with His answer. But, it’s had me thinking ever since.

God is in the Details.

The other day I was driving to lunch with a friend of mine. Thinking ahead to the menu I said out loud to her, “I want a pickle.”  It seems random. I know. But she went with it and agreed that I should have one with my lunch.

We arrived at the busy restaurant, found our table and briefly looked over the menu. The sandwich I settled on came with a pickle. When the waitress brought it to me, wouldn’t you know that sweet, benevolent detail-oriented God of ours brought me two pickles!

I truly do not believe that was a coincidence. It was a small detail to remind me He’s listening to my heart’s desire.

Last Spring, my husband was in a traumatic accident where he cut off his left elbow.  We waited in the hospital for over a week for doctor’s to detemine what should be done. Finally, it was decided that my husband would need a cadaver’s elbow to save his arm. Of course, all that was available in the entire country were left elbows.  Exactly the detail we needed!

Notice The Details

I think that God wrote all of those details in the Old Testament because He wants us to know that He cares about the details. If God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow then His detail-loving character hasn’t changed.

And He wants us to notice.

He wants us to notice the extra pickle or the fact that He provided the exact missing piece. He wants us to notice the little things He does for us so that we will trust Him with the bigger things.

How to Notice the Details

It’s easy to see God when He heals a friend of cancer or provides at the very last minute the funds you didn’t think would be there. God is still in the business of showing off, and I love that.

But, maybe you find it difficult to see Him in the details.

One way to see Him every day is to realize that He’s there. Every. Day. He’s what set this whole cosmos in motion, after all. If He can do that, He can put an extra pickle on a plate.  Begin to notice the beauty around you. Put down the phone and listen to your children laugh. Look out the window and marvel at all the tiny things set in motion before you in that very instance. Breathe in creation.

Another way to realize God’s love for details is to realize His desire to satisfy yours. An extra pickle isn’t a coincidence if you know your Father knows you wanted one.  He’s a good Father, and He promises that if you ask it will be given to you. Luke 11:9  That includes pickles.

Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Luke 11:11

But the best way I know to understand and begin to notice the details around you is to spend time with Your Father.  Dig into His word and learn about His character. Make a point every day to learn something new.  You notice things about others when you spend more time with them. That includes your Heavenly Father. Find a quiet place and pray. Talk to Him throughout the day and make sure you thank Him each night. When you take the time to be still and get away from your distractions, it’s easier to know that He is God.

Knowing God means recognizing His subtle reminders that He’s got not only your biggest worries, but also your detailed desires in mind.

 

I’d love to hear from you. What are some ways God has shown off to you through the details? Join the discussion in the comments below this post.

 

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Hope Among The Mess

I took this picture not knowing the meaning it would hold for me less than 24 hours later.  It’s a picture of my 12-year-old’s daughter’s room. As is.

Can you just see her life in there?

One glance at the picture and you can see who she is.  She’s a free spirit. A lover of pink. A dreamer of Paris.

She’s also a mess.  That’s why I took the picture.  I took it to remind myself that one day she’ll grow up and move out and she’ll take the whole messy pink bundle of girlish charms with her. Her laughter. Her smile. Her joy. It will all grow up and move out on me one day. And I want to remember it all.

As is.

I chose not to fuss at her this time for the way her room looks, but she fussed at me for taking the picture. She fusses at me for a lot of things these days. She is twelve after all.

The next day I learned that someone else’s child was shot and killed at her church in Texas. Dozens more were killed simply by doing what my family does more than once a week–going to church.

I am so thankful to still have that ‘one day’ to look forward to.

Anytime tragedy strikes it causes us to reevaluate our lives a bit. Do your loved ones know that you love them? I mean, really? Have you done enough to teach and mold your children? Has your life made a difference to those around you? Are your priorities in line?

Perhaps tragedy makes you feel angry or frustrated.  Maybe it causes you to spring into action to help those who are directly affected by what happened. Or maybe it happens so often that you have become desensitized to it. I know that has been my reaction many times, I am almost ashamed to admit it.

Somehow, this one hit home for me. I’ve lost track of the number of disasters and unspeakable acts of violence this year alone.  But the news of innocent children murdered sitting next to their mothers? It’s too much. It’s too raw.

So, I look back at the picture I snapped the night before. I can practically breathe in the fragrance of my daughter. I can almost see her sitting there at her vanity doing her hair. And I can’t help but wonder if tragedy is around the corner for me too.

However, my peace lies within the knowledge that my child knows Jesus. She teaches me about Him a lot when she doesn’t even mean to. Does she stumble sometimes? Yes. Does she have a lot more to learn? Yes. I pray protection over my children every single day.

I know that God can allow some horrible trials to strengthen His people. None of us are immune to tragedy, but my child is immune to death.

This is what gets me through horrible news stories. The promise of eternal life for those that know Jesus like my child.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t mourn over this tragedy or losing someone they love. It’s not even my child and I have wept. I’m saying that there is hope. Hope for grieving parents and a grieving congregation. Hope for a town that suddenly finds itself thrust into the national spotlight and making a mark in history for all the wrong reasons. There’s hope for a nation that just can’t seem to heal before another tragedy strikes.

You’ll find that hope nestled in the random picture I took of my daughter’s messy room. It’s sitting on her dresser. Do you see it? It’s a Bible. Between the two pink covers lies every answer to every problem you’ll ever face. It’s comfort. It’s hope. And it’s sitting in the midst of the mess we’ve made, just waiting for us to return to its promises.

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How To Build Endurance {A Six Month Journey}

My husband nearly lost the functionality of his arm six months ago, but the journey seems like it’s been much longer.

Back in March of 2017 my husband fell off a ladder at work, landed on an electrical box nearly severing his left arm. Essentially, he cut his elbow off. He transected his ulnar nerve and lost feeling in parts of his hand.

I know. That’s a little graphic for some of you.

Sometimes graphic is what God uses to get our attention.

Those first several weeks were filled with so much pain both physical and emotional. And so many questions. Would he be able to work again? Would he regain strength? Would the allografted bone grow into his living bone? Would he regain feeling in his hand?

We cried together a lot. We got frustrated. And we got angry. Exhaustion got the better of us on many days.

There is no way we could have gotten through the last 6 months without God catching each one of our tears and bundling up all or our fears to hold them close to His heart. I know this full well.

Our trial is just an example of God displaying His perfect love. After six months it’s a bit easier to look back and see His fingerprints all over the place! I am humbled that He chose us to walk this path and share this story. I pray it brings my Savior glory, if only just a little.

Yesterday we traveled back up to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for another follow-up appointment. I honestly have lost track of the number of times we’ve headed up there since March. It certainly has become familiar to us. And the trips, almost a way of life.

This visit though, was a little different.

Everything is looking good. His doctor is optimistic that the surgery was a success even though we are ‘not out of the woods yet.’  We still have three to four YEARS to see if the grafted bone will ‘come alive.’ If not, the bone will disintegrate and we are back to square one. But I am oh, so hopeful and have an amazing peace that God will show. off!! It gets me a little giddy to think about!

My husband has no restrictions and has been released from occupational therapy.  We said goodbye to our caseworker who, quite honestly, I had become fond of over the last 6 months. I’ll miss her. And we walked out of the clinic with a strange sense of joy.

It was almost as if we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Do we laugh? Do we cry? Do we shout out just how awesome our God is right here in the elevator? I wanted to. I should have.

I’ve been praying for 6 months every single day for healing. For pain relief. For joy.

He’s been listening. He hasn’t been stuck on what to do for us. He knows how to fix broken. He knows it’s all in the timing.

Consider it great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. James 1: 2-4 CSB

I have to pause for a moment and soak in these words….

Joy has been so hard for me to find. How do you find joy when fear and uncertainty seem so much stronger?

Through perseverance.

Even if it’s a little prayer, it’s still prayer. God answers those too. And if we pray enough little prayers pretty soon God gives us the strength to pray the bigger ones. He gives us that endurance.

But endurance can’t have it’s full effect if you never face the trial to build it in the first place.

This trial has brought me on my knees in prayer more than anything else in my entire life. Which has deepened every part of me.  Six months ago I wasn’t ready to consider any of it joy. But today I am just so thankful for every piece of this ‘special case.’

Thankful that I could almost physically feel God’s love in a dark and lonely hospital room.

Thankful to realize how crazy much I love my husband, in sickness and in health.

Thankful to be a vessel for God to show off His mighty healing power and careful orchestration of every minute detail.

I’m just thankful. I have this hurt. But I also have this awesome God!

Miraculous bone fusion through the hands of Dr. Donald Lee.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Week In Review {The Highlight Reel}

Here we are sitting on the cusp of a brand new weekend.

Friday. Already.

Don’t get me wrong, I am as ready for the weekend as the rest of you. But, as weeks go, this wasn’t my best one. And I’m pretty sure Monday didn’t even bother to show up this week. At least I don’t remember it.

Sick day. Long staff meetings. Regular weekly battle against the doubts inside my head.  It was just an ordinary week.

Until something happened.

About a month ago I was asked to share during the Chapel time at my church’s Weekday Early Education (WEE) ministry. There are very few things that I could think of that I would rather be doing besides spend my morning with a room full of preschoolers. I know. I’m among the minority. So, of course I accepted the invitation and immediately began to think of things to share with these children.

I had a book ready and a little song picked out. I was good to go. I wanted to give as much time as I could to this little project and make it great!

Except that the day before Chapel, I had a migraine and was out of the office. I completely forgot about my commitment until I was headed to bed the night before. I began to feel guilty for not spending more time to prepare.

The next morning I went in to my office, found the book I had planned to share and ran over the words of the song one more time. I prayed for the Lord to bless my efforts and headed down to Chapel.

I greeted the children and began to read my book selection on God’s grace. It was a sweet reminder that God loves us regardless if the things we do or don’t do.

It was in those moments when the Spirit pressed on my heart that it wasn’t how much time I spent “making something great.” It was my willingness to share the love of Christ that mattered the most. Big or small, everyone needs to know how much love the Father lavishes on us.

It doesn’t have to be a room full of preschoolers, you have the chance to share the love of Christ with someone today too.

We often fail to realize that a mission isn’t always foreign. It starts in your living room with your own children, or at the coffee shop with a friend.  It’s at your favorite grocery story or gas station. Maybe the neighbor you’ve known for years could use a helping hand. It’s in the classroom at your church.

Whatever it is, I want to challenge you to be intentional about sharing God’s love with someone today. God will use it. And I promise it will be the highlight of your blase week.

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Simple Creations

It is impossible for me to believe that God created everything in less than a week. You cannot convince me.

Because God is the same today as he was yesterday. He remains unchanged for tomorrow. Although He is many different things, He is the one thing that remains constant in our lives. Father, Physician, Provider, Omnipresent, Graceful, Merciful,

Creator.

If He’s the same today as He was thousands of years ago, I have to believe that He is still in the business of creating. It’s this belief that fills me with awe simply by peering at a rose. It’s this mind-set that draws me closer to Him when I hear the whisper of the wind. Each new day seems to brim with possibilities when you know that it is freshly prepared by an ever-present creator. As an artist carefully crafts his masterpiece, so too does the Master Craftsman sculpt each new day.

I get so excited when I think about this stuff! It seems so scientific to many, I’m sure. Birth. Growth.

But, I love to look deeper. I love to try to actually see God push up the tree branches. It’s fascinating to try and catch a glimpse of His hand shifting and building the clouds. My favorite is to imagine his arms enveloping me when He sends a warm wind.  What if I could ever catch him painting the sky?

Maybe all of this sounds childish to you. I could understand that. But I am not here to defend the ways I see God or understand Him.

I just want to share with you how simple God really is. He asks us to have faith like a child. To me, that means to also live in child-like wonder of the simplest of things.

 

 

 

 

 

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A Few Thoughts On Harvey

I just don’t think I could survive a flood. I don’t think I could stand the feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and loss. Surely grief would creep in there somewhere. Confusion. Frustration. Uncontrolled heartbreak.

Flood. Overwhelming amounts or quantities.

It’s more than just the unrelenting rain and rising water. It’s also the emotional flood I am sure I couldn’t withstand.

The news is something I actually try to avoid at all costs. But, oh sweet Houston! You’ve got a problem! The biggest natural disaster this country has seen in over a decade and my heart hurts so much for you!  But, I am also so incredibly proud of you!

Among all the chaos, raw human beauty is emerging. Like a worm being transformed in order to take wings, you are inspiring a nation to lay down all the ugliness and fly. You are living out love the way we were created to do. You’re crossing over invisible lines drawn for the salvation of another man and it’s awe-inspiring.

I recently spoke with a group of women on how to find joy in your journey. Even in some of our most devastating times, it is so hard to find joy or even a reason.  When the floodwaters rise, we still need to trust that God’s got it all figured out for His glory and for our good.

But if you’re stranded out on the roof of your house soaked to the bone with no end in sight, it’s often easy to forget. It’s easy to lose hope and to lose joy.

My list of ways to find joy in the journey:

1. Trust God and lean not on your own understanding.

2. Remember it’s temporary. Even Noah got off the Ark. 

3. Take time to abide in Christ every day.

4. Count your blessings.

5. Remember your salvation in Jesus.

But looking at the footage from Houston, I know I forgot to add something to that list and that is:

6. Find ways to love thy neighbor. Every neighbor. Even the ones you think aren’t like you.

In the midst of your flood, your trial and heartbreak seek ways to share the burden. Find the common ground that we all share. We were all made by the same Creator who loves each one of us in the most beautiful mesmerizing ways. Act like it!

Houston, you’re acting like it! You’ve been dealt a bad hand. But I can see, even way over here in Alabama, how God is using you to heal a broken world and offer a slice of hope.

My prayers and thoughts are with you all!

To donate to relief efforts for our friends in Houston and others impacted by the storm, please head over to KLove.com or follow this link. https://www.convoyofhope.org/donate/harvey-klove/

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How I Met Jesus In My Bedroom {Life from Death}

It takes a lot of work to find good in the world these days. Gone are the carefree times of unlocked doors and actually knowing your neighbors. We tear up and bite at one another simply for holding a different opinion than our own and take it personally if a celebrity makes poor choices.

Disease. Divorce. Financial strain. Rejection. Rebellion. Discord. Disillusionment.

The list could go on and on of things we could stress over and lose our hope.

Ever since I was called into ministry, I have heard of and seen a fair share of heartbreak and hurt. And I can’t lie, it really gets to me sometimes. Doubts begin to creep into my mind of the goodness of God and how He can allow such horrible things to happen to his most beloved.

That’s when I must remember that He never wanted any of the hurt we see around us. It was all our doing. Our own freewill that brought all the destruction upon this earth. Remember the earth was once paradise and in perfect harmony. We chose the lie. We chose sin. We can’t blame Him for any of it.

But we can thank Him for providing a way to save us from it.

When I think about all of my friends, co-workers and acquaintances that are hurting I can’t help but think of how gracious and merciful our God is too. Though it’s so hard to see the good that will come of your heartbreak, believe me I know it’s hard to see, we have to trust Him that it’s there. It will come. And in His perfect timing. Maybe we won’t even be alive when His grace is revealed through our heartache.  Or maybe the good won’t manifest anywhere you can see it this side of Heaven.  But it’s always there.

When I was in the 7th grade (the age of my youngest daughter), I had a good friend I went to church with.  Her mother had struggled for years with breast cancer and God quietly called her home one day. It was the saddest thing I could ever think of at such a young age. Losing my mom. What if that had been my mom?

What if it had been me?

I began to question so many things in the following weeks.  Why would God do that to my friend? Leave her motherless. And where did her mother go when she died?

Where would I go if I died?

I had been attending church regularly for years.  I was raised in the Episcopal church, so I was baptized one Easter Sunday when my mom decided I needed to be. I had the pretty dress. The shiny shoes. And I said all the right words. But I really had no clue what I was doing.

So there I was alone in my bedroom one night, 12 years old and not able to sleep from sharing my friends heartache. I pulled out my Bible and began to flip through the delicate, thin pages. I was searching for anything that could soothe me and give me an answer of why…?

That’s when a small little yellow tract that I had pulled from the back of a pew one day fell out of my Bible and into my lap. I had never read it before. Maybe I was saving it for such a time as this.

The simplicity of it held my attention as I read, well, the simplicity of the Gospel. Don’t we tend to complicate it so?

We are sinners. God loves us anyway. Accept both truths. Ask forgiveness. Repent.

Simple.

But I never understood it until I was hurting. God didn’t have my attention until He allowed the suffering in my life. More truthfully, I wasn’t seeking Him until He allowed the suffering in my life. And we don’t, do we? We don’t think we need help with anything if life is good. And let’s face it, up until about the seventh grade, life is pretty sweet!

My friend doesn’t know that her mom’s death saved me. She has no clue that my eternal destination was changed because of what God allowed. And it seems strange to give thanks for that circumstance, but I have to believe that if He used it for the good of saving a 12-year-old little girl, He also used it for so much more that we can’t even fathom.

That’s just who He is.

So, when I get discouraged in the hurt that surrounds me, I have to remember how Jesus met me in my bedroom one night. I have to remember that death gave me eternal life. When looking at the hurt from that perspective, it gives hope. And even a reason to be thankful in the suffering.

 

 

 

 

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