Archive | July 2012

A Few Moments in Time

People or events that impact our lives help us create memories that may soften hard edges over time but still become ones we never forget.  Sometimes in a bad way, sometimes in a great way but nonetheless in some way that’s life altering these events or people alter our lives.

Recently I had a person that stopped by my life and created such a time for me.  Positive and negative all rolled up in one.  They weren’t around for a long time, just under a month.  Yet they are someone who made a huge impact.

It didn’t matter that they were thousands of miles away, when we talked it was as if were in the same room.  They challenged me in ways I don’t remember ever being challenged before.  Questioned my reasoning…my decision making skills…my thinking (which can be faulty I admit)…

They also held up a mirror to my heart and reminded me of the pieces of me I’d forgotten existed.  We laughed.  We talked about things I hadn’t allowed myself to even think about in years, some for decades.  Maybe because my friend and I were on most levels strangers it was easier to share our similar pains or maybe, as I believe, God placed us in the right time in one another’s lives to make us better people, better believers. As our stories unfolded somehow God did something miraculous…He helped me forgive.

Forgive myself for being so disappointed in my own weaknesses and fragility.  Forgive myself for the sin of merely being human.  Forgive myself for not always loving when I should have.  Forgive myself for allowing Satan to triumph over me by giving into my fears.

Not long ago I posted on Facebook that faith was walking into the darkest room with your fear because you knew there was a light switch on the wall and a working light on the ceiling.  But that I had gotten halfway across the room and couldn’t make it.  That I knew it wasn’t the absence of God but the absence of myself.  I didn’t lie.

My new friend showed that to me.  Fear just wasn’t what I carried into the room with me but it was the darkness itself.  It was what knocked me the floor and kept me pinned there.  Then my friend helped me fight against the fears with their challenges.  Instead of merely lending me a hand to rise to my feet they insisted I do it myself.

And you know what?  That was exactly what I needed.

I’d like to think a lifetime friendship had developed and that I’d get the chance to tell them how much I appreciated the difference they made in my life.  I’d like to think some day our paths will cross again on earth but I don’t know if that will ever be possible.  I only know God has more wisdom in all matters of my life than I can fathom.  Just as swiftly as God brought them into my life, God has moved them on and that is His wisdom and I trust it.

I’m reminded that either people or events have to be involved in our lives for long lengths of time to make a huge impact.  Nor for us to say to them, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3

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Rejection or Rebirth?

In preparing for my amputation last year one thing kept me focused on coming through it and that was, what seemed like at that time, the production of a play I’d been asked to create from a little booklet titled “An Easter Disciple: Special Church Edition” translated from Latin into English by Arthur Sanford.  Before the surgery I had the final rough draft completed and so during the time I was recovering I poured a lot of time and energy into rewrites.

As the end of the year approached and we made no progress toward production a realization weighed heavy in my heart.  The project was dead.  I heard people’s comments on the script; “it’s too intellectual for a country church”, “it uses too many people”, “we’ll never get people to commit to something this big”, “the main characters have too many lines” and various others.  But even re-written and pared down the revised script went unread.  The project was dead.

With that I felt dead.  I sat in the midst of a friend’s wedding reception this June, tears blurring my vision and felt the rejection deep in my soul.

That script was a part of me.  A huge part of me given at a time when I was hoping to find I was of some use to God after all.  Now the very people who had prayed and given to help my family and me through such a difficult time rejected the play and it felt as if they had rejected me.  It couldn’t be them, I reasoned, so it had to be me.  I had blown it.  I had one shot at using my talent for God again and I had blown it.  I took the blow hard.

I tried to lock the hurt away with all the other.  I tried to keep getting up and going on.  I tried to not let the rejection hurt so much.  I asked several people to pray for me.  I honestly never believed my having one leg would mean I would be put on a shelf unusable to God.  Yet that is what I began to believe.  I never once thought God might have a better plan.

As God began answering the prayers of many I felt a flicker of hope reignite.

“A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” Isaiah 42:3a NIV

The people I’d wanted to believe in the project didn’t but I still did.  Surely God would not have used the play as a means to help me through such a tough time to see it remain words trapped on my computer.  I thought of trying to sell it but held off.  Fear of rejection capturing my spirit and making me pause to reconsider.  But I still held out hope.

“For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has?  But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.”  Romans 8:24 NIV

I toyed with the idea of rewriting the script again but lacked the heart.  I’d given my best.  My best was not good enough.

 

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.”  Hebrews 10:35-36

Tentatively I posted on my Facebook page that I had two scripts, one that I had seen produced and one unproduced and I’d like to see both used again.  Some of the youth who had been the actors in the produced play urged me to send it to a production company responsible for the movies such as “Fireproof”.  I told them they had way more confidence in me than I did.

No one else responded.

Then yesterday morning I got a text from the man who was originally going to be the co-producer of the script with me that he’d had a wild idea about the script.  Could I call him?  So I did.

Without prompting Brock said words I needed to hear.  That he believed the script was meant to be seen in production.  That I hadn’t done a bad job!  We hadn’t spoken about the play in over a year and I’d believed his opinion was with everyone else’s.  My broken spirit wouldn’t allow me to ask him his thoughts before.  Now as we talked I felt hope rise up.  Even if the play never sees production anywhere I had done my job.  I thanked Brock for his confidence and his words.  They arrived, as I should have expected, in God’s perfect timing.

So I returned the script to where it really belonged, into the hands of God.  Who knows, maybe Brock’s wild idea will come to some avenue of production.  When God moves, in His time, whatever becomes of the script, it will be for His glory, not mine.  I am willing to be an instrument of His will in whatever way He sees fit.

I kind of like that and I’m sure God does too.

A Road in the Dark to See the Light

The tires swooshed down the highway in the darkness as my car followed the curves and ups and downs of the road in silence.  It was dark.  Somewhere above us there was a moon and stars but heavy clouds undoubtedly were blocking our view of them.  Occasionally the red tail lights of the vehicle far ahead of us were visible just as a hill dipped or a curve again blocked their brightness.

We traveled this road daily.  We knew every curve and every dip.  We knew where old homes were returning to nature, overgrown with weeds and grasses.  We knew the yards that were well manicured and cared for and the ones who were a little overcrowded with various “yard décor”.

Now this familiar route seemed less friendly, even a bit scary.  I wished we were home but nearly an hour ago my daughter had crawled up next to me and sadly told me, “Charlie is at church.”

She didn’t ask me because I knew there would be no sleep without him.  Quickly I ran the “rescue options” through my head and picked up the phone.  Several minutes later we began our trek down the road between our house and the road behind our church.  It wasn’t a long drive in daylight but seemed twice as long in the dark.  The return trip even longer for it seemed darker somehow.

“Like our road of faith,” I thought, “the road is familiar because God has laid it out for us.  In the daylight it goes more quickly because we can see more clearly.  Every side road, every abandoned building, every welcoming home on the route, every pasture with cows, goats or mules, or every cornfield we don’t acknowledge these familiar sights but our minds know them, know the landmarks of our journey.”

A question bubbled up in my head, “If it’s the same road and the same God guiding you, why are you driving down it differently in the dark?”

I thought for a minute, asking God what I had asked myself.  Then His voice spoke in my heart, Because my Daughter in the darkness even the familiar must be traveled gently for you do not understand the Light when all you see is the dark.”

That reply simmered in my heart like the fog that had begun to swirl around before the car’s headlights.  Was I driving differently?  One look at the speedometer told me.  Instead of the cruise set at the legal 60 miles per hour it was set at 50.  The car was silent in the dark so I could hear every noise the car itself made on the road instead of my daughter’s children’s choir CD being turned up loud so we could “jam” on the drive.  I was more aware of what I wasn’t seeing although in the daylight I didn’t really “see” the scenery either because it had become too familiar, too expected and its safety was something I’d taken for granted.

As the garage door slid back down the pieces of the picture slid into place for me.  Sometimes I take my walk with God for granted, like I take the highway visions I see as I travel to and fro in my daily task of living.  I am less alert to danger because I think I can see it sooner.  I depend more on my sight than my hearing because the way is lighted so I can “jam” and not fear I will miss something.  I’m not as alone during the daytime because there are more fellow travelers on the road with me and should the car break down help would be readily available and waiting would be less scary than the same scenario in the dark.

It was no different with my walk with God.  Quietly I laid my head back against the head rest and whisper a prayer.  First I say “thank you” because we were home safely and we both felt secure again.  Second of acknowledgement that God and I needed a little time together to talk about my taking Him and our relationship for granted.  Third, I need not have been any more fearful of the road in the night than in the daylight for God was with me every inch of the way.  I just needed to be reminded of the true Light by a period of time in the darkness.

Do you ever take your relationship, even God Himself, for granted?

“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”  John 1:5 (NIV)

 

America – The Lady

In the beginning She was relatively small and poor, at least in some ways.  Her family was small and many fell to disease their first years in a harsh new land.   She had grit and determination and She came seeking the freedom to worship as She believed was right.  In time that small band grew and became 13 colonies and later 13 states.  They organized themselves, fought to govern themselves and established themselves as “One nation under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

The years were not always kind to Her but she had a friend truer than a brother who stood by Her as long as She humbled herself before Him.  He was her Creator.  He was her Savior.  He was her friend.  In the wealthy years She dressed in silk and satin and enjoyed the contentment of Her family.  In lean years she bore rags and guided Her family toward the Creator for strength.

Wars came, for mankind always finds a way to war, and She wept as her sons and daughters left for battlefields both foreign and domestic and never returned.   She cried bitter tears for the ones who returned from these wars disillusioned, scarred and uncertain.  Always their champion, though few believed.

She and Her people took up the cause of Christ, trusted in Him and followed Him through.

As the years passed the Lady held firm to Her Creator until gradually her hold was loosen.   It only took one bad decision for others to soon follow.

  • The first legal abortion.
  • The first prayer banned from Her classrooms.
  • The first slave.
  •  The first denial of human rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
  • The first shot of many battles.
  • The first war that pitted son against father.
  •  So many first sins that seemed to creep in until they threatened the Lady’s existence.

The Woman cried out to their Creator for guidance, for help.  Even in her Sunday best She no longer appeared as radiant.  There was dimness about Her light.  There was weariness among Her people.

“What must we do to again be called a Christian nation?” The Lady called out.

“If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 N.I.V.)

Many took up that cry.  But sin had already broke through and stolen the hearts of many people.  A great apathy lay across the land and the Lady knew no way to wake them from their slumber.  Still She cried on, repeating the words of the Creator.  Others joined her.  Others laughed.  Others rejected.

But She was a Lady.  A Lady of grace and steel.  A Lady who refused to fall as the greatest nation on earth.  So the call continued throughout the land…

“Yet who has heard?Who has heard?”

America and Her Christian Heritage

The winds of shifting history in the last few years have been felt…where those who seem so bent on ridding America of any  spirituality at all that has boundaries of right and wrong continually attack…so I did a little research…

One thing I found was a remarkable quote by President James Garfield who held the office only four months, dying from unsanitary medical practices following an assassination attempt by Charles Duiteau.  Duiteau was a member of a polygamist type communist cult and he shot Garfield two times.  Garfield himself was a preacher for the Disciples of Christ.

“If the next century does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the…morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”  Garfield 7/4/1876 as U.S. Congressman as Chairman of the Committee on Appropriations

It seems until 1962 the nation of America was guided greatly by the presence of faith in the lives and hearts of its governing people.  In 1892 the Supreme Court ruled in Church of the Holy Trinity vs. U.S. (citing 87 precedents), “ Our laws and our institutions must….be based upon and embody the teachings of the Redeemer of Mankind….then sadly in 1962 for the first time…the court cited no previous cases and ruled in Engel vs. Vitale that; because of Separation of Church and State…the simple school prayer…” was forbidden in American Schools.

There are quotes from many of our nation’s historical leadership that clearly point to our country having been founded upon and built upon the values, morals and foundations of Christianity.  For example I found a wealth of information quickly on only a few web sites.  Known Christians who have been our presidents or congressmen or those who led a band of people to a free country left written evidence of their belief in Jesus Christ and the role faith should play in how our government is operated and even who holds the offices!

“What we need is a Christian nation…By Christian nation, “I don’t mean that everyone is forced to be a Christian or forced to go to church or to believe in God.  The job of government is not to convert …to any kind of faith.   The job of government is to do for people what they can’t do for themselves.  …the job of bringing people to faith belongs to the private citizens; the churches…That separation should always be kept.”  -John Jay –First Continental Congress

References continue in Christopher Columbus’ Book of Prophecies; the Mayflower Compact, from William Bradford’s “History of Plymouth Plantation”.  The original 13 colonies in establishing their government and constitutions also mention God and His role in government such as these colonies:

  • New England
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • New Hampshire
  • Pennsylvania
  • Virginia

Then several original state Constitution’s read that God was in their hearts and minds in organizing their state.

  • Connecticut (until 1818)…”hath ever been, and will be the tranquility and stability of Churches and Commonwealth; and the denial thereof, the disturbances, if not the ruin of both.
  • Delaware (until 1821)…”no man ought to be compelled to attend any religious worship…but it is recognized ‘the duty of all men frequently to assemble together for the public worship of the Author of the Universe…”
  • Maryland (until 1851) “That, as it is the duty of every man to worship God in such a manner as he thinks most acceptable to him…”
  • Massachusetts (until 1863) “…authorize and require…to make suitable provision, at their own expense, for the institution of the public worship of God…”
  • North Carolina (until 1876) “That no person who shall deny the being of God….shall be capable of holding any office or place of trust or profit in the civil department within this State.”

Little doubt can remain for those who think for themselves and who are willing to research the issue themselves, that our country was founded by people who not only claimed to know God but who also allowed him to work in their lives.

These states are no less part of us now than our grandparents, and great-great-great-great grandparents are….no less a part of us than our parents and siblings….plenty of times we wish we could forget where and who we came from but in the end we always find our way home.

Can America find her way home or is it too late?  Look forward to tomorrow’s post.

Faithfully Faye

Modern Day Hero’s #4: Our Military

Dear Father:

Somewhere there’s a soldier walking the line

While a wife keeps track of each day in time.

Somewhere a Marine stands up to the foe

While a mother’s prayers ring sweet and low.

There’s an Airforce pilot preparing to land

Back home his son gives his mother a hand.

There’s a Navy sailor keeping watch by the sea

While her daughter wishes she could sit on her knee.

A Coast Guard Captain encourages his crew

While families sleep better and we do too.

No one can put a price on our military’s sacrifice

Precious few can understand the military life.

Father protect them, carry them through

In battles overseas and our streets too.

Wrap their families in Your arms of Love

Giving them peace that is your’s above

Keep them safe bring them home very soon.

For those who fall Lord and don’t make it home

I pray Lord they know You to be welcomed to Your home.

-Faye

 

 

 

Modern Day Hero #3: My “Sailor”

The military is not for everyone.  Since time began and mankind took to battles families have been separated so their men (and now women too) could join the fight for a number of things.  It’s not easy when families are separated when their loved ones are deployed.  Husbands and wives can’t share the day-to-day parenting or home life when one of them is stationed where “home” isn’t.  I believe this is the heaviest part of their burden as a military families – when serving and fighting for your country or the rights of human beings to be free means you are not with those you love and fight for the most.

My personal “Sailor” and I met in church in Norfolk, Virginia.  He took my breath away when he sang.  I took his when I sang.  It’s a wonder we managed to get through the Christmas Eve service since neither of us could draw a real breath.  Somehow we did and the next day we had time to get to know one another enough to know we wanted to know more…four months later…we eloped.  Fifteen years and two months later we’re still together.

Chris’ Navy career was something we “endured” as newlyweds.  Me, the previous Miss Independence found herself feeling unmoored with her husband floating around the Mediterranean Sea.  Chris, Mr. See the World, wanted only to be home.  We were grateful for that phase of our life to end.

Something occurred to me Sunday in church, as the choir sang the military hymns and current and former military members stood for a few minutes of recognition and appreciation, the Navy lost a good man when Chris was finished.  For he has integrity, courage, faith, dedication, honesty and loyalty…his love for his country is passionate and steadfast.  His belief in a personal God and that God has been and remains the answer for America and mankind made Chris a  sailor the Navy could be proud of.

Every time I see him standing before us and I remember how he looked 15 years ago in his uniform my heart melts.  The Navy lost a good sailor and I am eternally grateful I gained a wonderful husband and a marvelous father to our daughter.

As we approach American’s Independence Day I plan to offer this woman’s view of our faith in God and honor our military families.   For it is my belief we need more Chris’ in this world…men who will stand for the right in spite of the personal cost…men who believe in God and the absolutes of right and wrong.  So tomorrow’s post will express gratitude for our military in broader terms, but for today, I express my deepest love and gratitude for my personal military hero – my husband, SM3 Christopher J. Valentine.

America – My Home

It is my opinion, for what it is worth, that the United States of America is the best country on the earth at this time.  I can’t think of a single country I’d rather live in and perhaps only a couple I’d like to even travel to for a visit.  I’m no well traveled visitor in even our own country but when I began to list the places I have been the following thoughts occur:

My toes, at least, have touched the oceans that border our country on the East and West and the Gulf of Mexico that borders the South.  The Atlantic Ocean engulfed me waist deep in cold, pounding waves in the middle of the night for she was the first ocean I saw.  I never ceased to be amazed at the sheer sight of Miss Atlantic when I rounded one specific curve in Norfolk and caught sight of her laid out against the horizon.  The Pacific was a little warmer as it cascaded little waves to my ankles.  The Gulf’s waters too broke over my feet when I stood at the edge of it.

Virginia’s valleys and peaks of her Blue Ridge Mountain Range have plied me with breath taking beauty and hairpin curves on wonderous drives that lay out before me through the rolling and rugged terrain.

The fall foliage of the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee laid out before my eyes as the cascading icy waters of its rivers roared by at my feet.

The sight of the red clay earth of Alabama and Georgia has actually caused my heart to skip a beat when my eyes caught sight of them as I traveled home.

The suns of Florida have beaten upon my head.

Mississippi’s steamy summers have enveloped me in their heated embrace.

The vastness of Missouri has slid before my eyes and the St. Louis arch has risen above me in a marvel of engineering and grace.

Vividly green fields of Kentucky have given me pause to be amazed again at the simple beauty of the American farmlands.

The dry and bigger is better cities of Texas have rolled their miles beneath the car wheels in which I traveled.

Both North and South Carolina have welcomed me as I traveled through them to my homes in either Alabama or Virginia and the coast of North Carolina welcomed me to relax and rejuvenate in the chill of the fall air.

Some places I’ve spent more time in than others.  I’ve known “home” to be Alabama, Virginia and Tennessee.  Central and North California were mission fields for me the summer of 1985 as was a week of each year in 1984 to 1986 between Thanksgiving and Christmas that I spent on missions in Savannah, Georgia.

While the landscapes of each place were similar or vastly different they are not what made America – America.  It was the people in each place that did so.  It was her churches that opened their arms to me, welcoming me into their midst and nourishing my soul as their souls refreshed themselves in our fellowship.  I know other countries have their beauty and their history and their people.  I take nothing away from any of them.  Yet I am flooded with gratitude that God chose to place me here in the U.S.A.

I’m not blind to America’s faults, her misguided politicians, her selfish ways, her separating herself from the leadership of God – to name a few.  I see our failures.  I know we are dooming ourselves by decisions we make today.  But you know what?

I would trade nothing for my citizenship in America except for the citizenship I am promised in Heaven one day.

God has blessed America – how can we forget?

The Privilege of Dying

A co-worker and I were opening up our office recently and he was in a particularly good mood.  He, according to his own account, expects the worse in every situation.  With all the stress in the office lately we’ve all been a bit “punchy” and being an office filled with counselors we also have a tendency to analyze everything…this doesn’t always help our stress level.

This particular morning as I remarked my co-worker seemed less stressed he told me he had been listening to public radio on his way in and asked me if I did.  Smiling I told him, “Sorry I don’t like to think that much before I’ve got coffee in me.”  He then relayed to me a story he had heard about a man’s grandmother who had told her grandson how much fun, at 93, she was having joining her friends at funerals.

The grandson was a bit appalled.  His quizzed his grandmother about her finding fun at, of all events, a funeral.  Didn’t she realize, she and her friends, that someone had died? Her response, “Don’t you know dying is a privilege?”

This struck my co-worker as an amazing view of death.  His friend is a hospice nurse and tells him often of her desire to help those have a passing that is not morbid and focused on pain.  The story on public radio connected with his friends words and a light bulb went off in his mind.  He then realized how his sister had given him a great gift in her readiness for her passing.  Unlike with other family members my co-worker had been the one to shoulder all the “aftermath burdens” of their deaths.  His sister’s death had been easier on many fronts for him.

This lead to a brief dip into my own experience with death and I relayed to him how that moment arrives when you know within yourself your time is near and how, when your life has been arriving at that moment long before you realized it, you are able to “let go” without regret.  My response was puzzling to him until I explained how I’d never seen life as clearly as viewing it from what I knew was the doorway of eternity.

I told him about looking at my husband and being too weak to speak, had strength to pray and asking God to do what I couldn’t – walk this road with him.  I told him of seeing the look on my father’s face when the doctors explained how I was in the physical condition I was in, what the theory was behind my having Lymphedema and how the truth struck my dad so hard.  I followed that with telling my co-worker how instead of gratitude of seeing my father forced to witness the result of his actions I had felt overwhelming pity and asked God to help Daddy have no regrets now.  Since Jesus saved me from death that time I had eventually ended up losing my left leg altogether.  So of course we covered that too.

My co-worker wanted to know how I did it…and I laughed…one single word explained how I did “it” – God.  I confessed it wasn’t easy and that in the last month I’d been again torn by the desire to “go home” and to be present in this life.  I had no death wish.  I wasn’t seeking death.  But I’d been in that moment more than once in the last few years and sometimes I wanted simply to “go home”.

Perhaps, I told my co-worker that is what the broadcaster’s grandmother had meant.  Maybe that is what his friend was trying to tell him.  When the heart is at peace, dying isn’t a burden or something to be feared but something to welcome; a privilege.

I pray my co-worker finds that peace so when his time arrives he can see death as a privilege.  The same prayer for you is lifted up too.