I mean that literally. Because of the way it propagates, it really is the very same plant my grandmother tended from the time I was little. I cannot express how happy I was the day those first starts came into my hands. No, she didn’t physically touch this specific part of the plant, but that doesn’t matter; her touch was there in the beginning. She’s part of it, and it represents the fact that, though I won’t see her again until Heaven, she’s still with me.
This isn’t the only way she’s still with me, of course. Much more importantly, her touch was there in the beginning for me too. Granny touched my life by living Jesus in the most everyday, practical ways. Did she preach? No. Was she constantly reading her Bible? Not that I recall. Did she make a point of sharing Jesus with me every time we were together? Uh uh. So what did she do?
Yes, I knew that she belonged to God and had a relationship with Him, but rather than preach to me about Him, she dealt with me as gently as she did with this plant. She tended to my needs. She cared for me. She lived love for me. She never preached a sermon, but she lived a sermon every day of her life. The very fact that I’m where I am today is due in part to her prayers and her faithfulness to live love.
ER Third time in a month. This time he is being admitted. It never ceases to amaze me what I end up being capable of. The me of thirty years ago… Could she have handled this life without completely falling apart? In a word? No.
But God knew what I would face today, and He spent years building me up, strengthening my faith and teaching me that I CAN. I can, truly, do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I posted on Facebook, recently, asking friends to comment if they had a list of life experiences they would not wish on their worst enemy, but they knew it was those experiences that had molded them into the strong people they are today. My hand was the first one up, and several others followed. It’s true.
It is being tempered in the fire that makes the steel strong. It is the buffeting of the wind that makes a tree strong. It is the trials I face that make me strong – if I let them. So.
Here I sit with him in the ER, knowing he’s potentially facing an extended hospital stay. And I’m ok. I trust that, whatever tomorrow brings, I will be ok then too.
Which brings us to “tomorrow.”
Today I’m a Widow.
He passed away on October 1st, in the evening, less than an hour after a group of us left his nursing home room. They’d told me just a few hours earlier that they thought he was transitioning, but it was so out of the blue that I really couldn’t believe it. He’d told me many times in recent months that he wished he didn’t have to live, so personally I think he simply chose to quit. And I don’t blame him. Now he’s in Heaven, and he is FREE. He is free of the demons he fought. He is free of the illnesses in his body. He is free of the dementia that had begun to manifest. He is now the man God had always intended him to be.
And me? I’m still ok. In fact, I’m more than ok; I’m doing very well. I, too, am free. I am free of the increasing pressure of being a 24/7 caregiver who also worked a full-time job. I am free of the stresses of dealing with a man who was almost daily growing more angry and disoriented. I am also free of the guilt that tried to crawl all over me at first because of just how free I feel.
This has been an amazing time for me. God has been speaking to me so much, probably in part because I’ve been spending so much more time with Him, and I have such a peace that it’s mind blowing. No matter the challenges I face in coming months and years, I know He is with me and I am hid in Him.
How many adults, with twenty twenty hindsight, wish they had given more while in high school…or in college..had put more effort into preparing themselves for their unknown future? Hindsight serves one important purpose; it helps us learn which mistakes to not make next time.
And there is a next time. We were put on this earth just as we were put in school – to prepare ourselves so that we will be ready to live the future that waits for us in Eternity. It is our responsibility, while we are here, to develop the closest possible relationship with God and to learn His Word, which we will live by forever.
My memories of school, and all the things the adult me would have done differently, help keep me aware of this truth. While I do forget and deviate from my preferred path on occasion, I try to continually be growing in the things of God, learning all I can about His Word and His will for my life, and getting just as close to Him as I can. I don’t want to just make it through the ultimate graduation; I want to excel now so that God can use me exactly the way He wants to in the next phase of my life.
For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [anywhere else]
Psalm 84:10a (AMP)
I’m over fifty, and I turned my life over to God when I was twelve. I’ve had some truly joyous days in those years, and I’ve had days so devastating that I would never wish them on my worst human enemy. (The devil is a different story!) One thing I can say from experience is that Psalm 84:10 speaks truth…great truth.
In earlier years, church attendance was an act of discipline. I made myself get up on Sunday mornings and forced myself to ignore weariness on Wednesday evenings. Eventually, though I began to see a pattern.
Any time I truly entered into a service, taking an active part in it rather than merely letting it happen around me, I came away energized – no matter how tired I’d been when I arrived. Any time I’ve gone to church and consciously set aside my worries, fears, or pain, spending time focusing on God instead of me and my issues, I have come away with more peace, clearer vision, and often even supernatural release from even crippling pain.
I speak of emotional pain, but the same applies to physical pain. For years, I suffered from three-day, hormone-induced migraines that hit every fourteen days. Day one I usually spent in bed, sure I was going to die. On day two, I knew I was going to live, but wanted to die. By day three, the pain was still devastating, but so much lessened in comparison that I could push through it. During this time, I was first in the band and then in the choir, yet I missed very few services.
By then, I truly understood the importance of, and many of the reasons for, God’s command to assemble together (Hebrews 10:25) and simply (though not always easily) refused to let my body dictate my actions. And God honored my choices.
In the band, I played small percussion. Percussion and migraines obviously don’t mix; neither do singing and migraines. Even so, almost without fail, as soon as praise and worship began I would be totally pain free and I would stay free from pain until I stepped down and sat in my pew. Sometimes the pain stayed away and sometimes, usually, it only eased up, but continually God reminded me that He had called me to serve in the music ministry and as long as I stayed right with Him He would make me able.
So… Today there is no “I don’t feel like going to church.” Or, perhaps I should rephrase. There are days when my body would rather not go to church. I, though, have realized that I always benefit from being in service. I want to be there on the good days, when all is right with my world, but I especially want to be there – desperately want to be there – when fear, doubt, pain, or heartache are hounding me, because it is there that I find solace and strength. It IS better to spend one day in His house than a thousand anywhere else!
And as strongly as I feel this now, oh how I look forward to Heaven!
I swiped the idea for this post from one I once posted to a blog I shut down ages ago. That post was prompted by hearing a minister say, at a funeral, “If _____ were here right now, he would say…”
Why, I wondered, should things I would say wait until my funeral to be said? So, if this were my funeral, I would say…
I hope you miss me, because that will mean I’ve touched your life, but you have no need to mourn. Finally, at last, I am where I’ve longed to be for so very long. I love you, and I’ve loved the life we’ve shared, but I love my God so much – so very much – more. Sometimes, especially in recent years, the homesickness for Heaven has been almost painful.
“I knew you before you were in your mother’s womb,” He says. I’ve believed this for years, and believed that I knew Him that early as well, that I was with Him in Heaven before ever being sent to Earth – and I’ve longed to go back. Paul said, “For me to die is gain.” YES! For the longest time, I’ve totally gotten what he meant by those words!
Loss is hard, and I get that too. “Losing” Mother was painful, but it helped when a friend pointed out that in reality she’d only moved away to a place I couldn’t go yet, that though we would be separated for a while I’d see her again when I made the same move. I’ve really been looking forward to seeing her again, and Daddy, and Granny and Grandaddy, and Mema and Pepa, and…
Now I ask you, please prepare to come meet us again too. If you’ve never accepted Jesus as your Savior, don’t know Him as your Lord, accept Him today. I look forward to visiting you in your mansion.
If it were my funeral, I think that’s pretty much what I would say.
10″Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones. If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
Jesus pretty much hits on every aspect of life in these two verses, and keeps hitting on the money aspect in the verses that follow.
10″Unless you are faithful in small matters, you won’t be faithful in large ones.”
Every parent knows this to be true. Even toddlers can be given small jobs to do – small jobs that lead to bigger jobs as they prove themselves equal to the task. Parents watch their children and, as they show themselves to be diligent in their responsibilities, they receive larger responsibilities – more opportunities to shine. So also does our heavenly Father watch us as we grow and prove that we can handle responsibility.
If you cheat even a little, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.
One can look at this sentence in many different ways. Because my most long-term experience within the church was in the music ministry, I instinctively look to this group for illustrations. Unfortunately, they’re easy to find where this topic is concerned.
I suppose it is human nature to want the spotlight for ourselves. Often it is man’s greatest desire to step into the limelight and shine there – and his second greatest desire is to get there without paying the price.
The most obvious example of this in my experience is singers’ views of being a Front Line member (one who is out front with a microphone) versus a choir member. How many people have joined their church’s choirs with one goal in mind – to use the choir as a stepping-stone into the Front Line position they covet?
It is true that most Front Line singers, at least in our church, rise out of the ranks of the choir. And they do so just as these verses imply that they must – through faithfulness in all areas. They study to learn not only how to sing in harmony, but to hear their parts without needing to be taught each song. They are diligent to allow the Holy Spirit the freedom to minister through them at all times, whether they feel like it or not. They have also committed themselves to spiritual growth and maturity, to walk worthy of the calling with which they are called long before that calling actually draws them onto the main platform.
Who does not get called to the Front Line?
The one who cannot be bothered to be faithful to the choir – rehearsals and services – had best not expect to be called. The one who cheats even a little, choosing to depend on others around him to know the parts rather than learning them himself, had best never count on attaining any step higher than the one he stands on. Even more, the one who cheats God, refusing to grow up into the mature Christian God has called him to be, will not see God giving him any responsibilities greater than those a spiritual child can handle. Man may give them to him, but God assures us that He will not, and God is the one who counts.
 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
Again, this can be looked at from many angles, but three words ring in my hears.
“tithes and offerings”
In Malachi, God speaks to a troubled people, a people who are troubled, He explains, because they have robbed Him of tithes and offerings.
God puts worldly wealth – money – into our hands. He expects us to return to Him the tithe and offerings beyond the tithe. If we prove untrustworthy in this, choosing to keep the entirety for ourselves (or even stealing from Him only part of what is His – cheating “even a little”) we cannot expect Him to trust us with the “true riches of heaven.”