Monday, August 31, 2015

Element 26

School started last week. [Hip. Hip. Hooray.]

And every since Monday morning, on the first day of school, I've had this verse on the tip of my tongue.  

Not only has it been on the tip of my tongue but I've heard it over and over and over again several times since last Monday. 

There are no coincidences with God.  
It isn't about luck.
Or happenstance. 

Every single encounter is illustrated by Jesus. 

At our Back to School [Hip. Hip. Hooray. Again.] faculty meeting on Monday, August 17 our staff received the very sad news of a colleague, battling cancer, possibly facing his last hours here on Earth. It was suggested by someone that we meet, as a staff, at Hospice to pray over this man and his family.

Several folks carpooled over.  The group I was riding with pulled in to find  folks waiting outside of Hospice.  Before we knew it, a rather large group of had gathered in the hot sun to pray for this family just outside of his room in the courtyard.

I was not at all prepared for this encounter. Not in the least.

When his wife opened the door to the courtyard and saw the large group gathered, she began to cry. Her pain and anguish were so overwhelming and heartbreaking that I found myself struggling to breathe.  It was a moment of just raw emotion and I think everyone felt the same way: immense sadness at being able to do absolutely nothing for this women. 

But, just as God is always faithful and on time, His blessings and promises spilled forth from co-workers and friends.  

No one could not take away the cancer that ravaged her husband's body.

But, just as Proverbs 27:17 states so beautifully, the iron sharpening began. 

The empty, heavy, grief-filled air that hung over that courtyard at Hospice began to be filled with words of mercy and grace and much love. [It wasn't that I didn't already know that these people, that I've worked with for 7 years now, were not loving, giving folks. This wasn't the first time I'd witnessed their acts of love and kindness. There have been many.]  There is nothing more powerful than circle full of believers that are willing to cry out to God as they stand in the gap for a friend. [As if this were not awesome enough, we found out later that his sister was inside with him while were were there.  She was unaware, as was he, that were just outside praying for him.  He told her, during this time that he could feel hands on his body yet he knew no one else was in the room.  Don't tell me that God doesn't hear the prayers of His people!]

Iron sharpens iron.

Our colleague and friend closed his eyes here on Earth this past Wednesday morning.  What an amazing sight that must have been when he opened them at the feet of Jesus. 

I'm not sure that anyone is particularly fond of funerals.  Yet, as I drove home Saturday, I was thinking how blessed I felt to have attended such a precious service. Unfortunately, I never took the opportunity to get to know him as well as many of the folks at work.  [In fact, one time at the beginning of last school year, he and I joked, "introducing" ourself to the other after not crossing paths at all until two weeks into school. That happens way too much when there are two different buildings on two totally different schedules.] 

So many folks shared neat stories...
About his life outside of school.  
About his commitment to his family.
About his wit and humor.
About his desire to walk closer to God.

We learned, as he laid in Hospice, knowing his Earthy time was nearly over, that he was reminding those around him to seek a relationship with Jesus.  

Iron sharpens iron.

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why Shower and Other Summer Time Musings from Gabe

My youngest two just returned yesterday from camp with the kids from church. This was Emma's 4th year going and Gabe's first.

The youngest two are exactly that: the youngest. 

They rarely keep anything clean [their rooms, their shoes, their faces] because they've had so many people catering to them all of their lives.  Sometimes we've done it out of necessity [like it is necessary for me to gut your room because it appears you are one step from making an appearance on Hoarders] and sometimes just because they are the youngest and spoiled. [Actually, I think both of those statements said the same thing.]

Now I am not the queen of organization. [I mean, I am the queen of most everything else around here....] Ask Craig - that ship sailed a long time ago. [Honestly, I'm quite sure it never docked here anyway.]  A little clutter is ok with me [some of you just took a knee while others hyperventilate] so I don't get too upset when their rooms have some clutter.

But when your room appears as if someone backed a large cannon into the doorway and KABOOMED every thing you own [underwear, crayons, baby dolls, Legos, last week's wet bathing suit, 5 socks, and an empty Cheetos bag to name a few] all over your door, walls, bed, dresser, closet, etc. then it is time to clean up.

That is Emma and Gabe in a nutshell. [Which makes Craig go nuts.]  

But they are always clean. As in bathing every single day. And washing hands. And brushing teeth. They might be super messy kids but personal hygiene has been taught and is practiced at my house.

So you can imagine the horror I felt yesterday when Emma said this:
Gabe hasn't had a shower since Monday.

It was Wednesday. 
He'd been swimming in a lake.
Playing outside.
Wearing bug spray.
Being a boy.

I could have beat him. Right there in the church parking lot. [Incidentally, that isn't the first time I've made that statement on here or out loud.]

To make matters worse, I'm not sure he changed his clothes much.  When he brought me his dirty stack, there weren't many.  

I'm just trying not to think about it. [Seriously.] Next year I will save myself the trouble and just send him out the door with his Bible and a smile.

Last night he wanted to shoot Cooper's BB gun in the backyard.

We live in a residential neighborhood. [I mean, our neighbors at the back corner of the yard cuss like sailors, sing David Allen Coe for all of Heaven to hear, and play horseshoes at 3am but I don't want to shoot them.  Not all of the time anyway.]

Me: Gabe we can't do that here.  We will have to go down to the practice field at the high school and shoot into the woods.
Gabe: But I won't shoot anyone mom.
Me: We can't shoot near the houses honey.
Gabe: Well that is stupid.

This morning he was full of questions.

Gabe: What if flying geese poop could fly?
Me: Flying geese do poop and fly. And poop while flying.
Gabe: No. I mean, what if flying geese had poop that could fly?  What if they had flying poop?

I pray now for the 3rd grade teacher he will have this year. 

I pray now for the woman that will marry him one day.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Following the Tides

I spent a lot of my surprise beach trip [a gift from my sweet hubs], sitting where the tide ran right over my chair, and I watched the waves move in and out.

Tiny sea shells made their way to and from.

My feet were buried deep in the sand, only to become uncovered with each pull of the tide.

I let the waves wash over me, again and again and again.

The sounds of the ocean are intoxicating. Honestly, I would've have been just as happy to sit there for the entire trip and do nothing but listen to the ocean - day and night. 

More than the cathartic [its almost time for school to start so time to amp up the vocabulary] sounds of the ocean this time by the water allowed me time [virtually no time in front of the TV, cell phone, computer, etc.] to gain some much needed perspective.

The last few months have been emotionally stressful.

No, we haven't experienced anything tragic or monumental.  In the grand scheme of things, the good has far outweighed the bad. 

What I've learned is that emotional stress doesn't always mean things aren't going well.  For me, it just meant I was trying way too hard to handle my feelings about some changes in my life on my own.

I can't do anything on my own. [Seriously, if you know me, you know that I do not enjoy being alone.  I'm that girl and I don't care who knows.]  I've never considered myself as an arrogant person but thinking that I could handle anything apart from God is just arrogant.  

And just because GOD IS AWESOME [and has impeccable timing] our evening service at church Sunday was about the promises of God.  And the first one on my list?
I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?
Jeremiah 32:27

As I was sitting last week, watching the waves crash back and forth [and listening to everything from Lecrae to Earl Scruggs to Hillsong] God's voice was so clear:

I created this ocean, the depths of which man will never know.  I curved the sky so that it would meet the water at just the right moment so the sun could paint a beautiful picture. This sand. These shells. The noise.  All of this was so perfectly orchestrated so that my people would give Me praise.  If I take care of the smallest creature from the ocean why wouldn't I take care of you?

It made me think of a Lecrae song my family enjoys jamming to in the car. [We need a Go Pro camera. Seriously. We do some funny stuff in the car.] The song, Hang On, has a part that is referencing Matthew 6:25 - 34. [Which was also presented as a promise of God. Not a coincidence.]

[Grandma:] Hello.
[Lecrae:] Hey Grandma. It's me.
[Grandma:] Hey baby!
[Lecrae:] Hey, I need you to pray for me. I'm just going through some things right now.
[Grandma:] Well, what's going on?
[Lecrae:] Well, you know, just everything. Family, money, just life in general. It's crazy.
[Grandma:] Well, let me tell you what the good Lord say, He said don't be anxious about yo' life. What you gon' eat or what you gon' drink or about yo' body. See, life is more than food, and the body is more than for clothing. Birds in the sky, they don't sow, they don't reap, but yo' heavenly Father feeds ya'. So, He say just seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to ya'. See, life ain't for you to control, carry all the burdens. That's why ya' give ya' life to Him. Hang on.

This trip wasn't about being at the beach or being in the sun [or Matt and I whooping Craig and Molly at putt putt not just once but twice]. For me, it was about the time I spent just talking to Jesus and listening to Him speak to me. 

Just as the tide changes, so my life will continue to change. 

My children are going to grow up, move out of my house, [hopefully stay out of jail *thinks of Gabe*], and have their own lives one day.

I am getting older [I refuse to say old] and I have to continue to move, eat healthy, and take care of myself. 

People are going to come and my life and the lives of my husband and children.

The only constant is change.  I can embrace change, just like I relished my time in the surf with the waves crashing around me, or I can continue to worry about the "what ifs".  

My pastor ended his Sunday evening service with three things we should understand about God's promises.  One in particular hit home: God's promises are conditional on our obedience to seek and listen. 

As always, life as a Shortie [who is learning to continue to follow the tides, ride the waves, and know that God has got this] is really sweet :)  

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