Archive | October 2012

The Privilege, the Right and the Necessity of Voting

This blog, though personal is still public and therefore this writer will refrain from “endorsing” any one in particular for any office.  I firmly believe each and every American of voting age should vote regardless of who they vote for.   I also firmly believe not in voting for a “party” but for the person most capable of doing the job and whose views and proven track record support what I believe to be the truth according to what God’s word reveals to me is right.

When I turned eighteen I was still in high school and registering to vote to me was a big milestone in my life.  While I don’t remember what election I voted in first I do remember voting for the first time.  We lived in Palmerdale, Alabama then and when I went to vote the voting site was far from crowded with voters.   I was excited and nervous.  I felt incredibly adult as I walked into the building.

A multitude of senior citizens greeted me as I entered.  Right away they asked if this was my first time voting and as soon as I confessed it was everyone in the room wanted to educate me on the particulars.  I had an escort with me right up until the moment I entered the booth and pulled the curtain.  Once inside every instruction those kind men and women had given me went right out of my head but thankfully written instructions brought it all back.  I flipped the levers and my ballot was cast.  As I opened the curtain to the same room full of helpful older people I thought to myself that the process took such a short time.  Doing something as important as voting should take longer, I thought.

I remember meeting George Wallace who was running again for governor of Alabama and his theme song of “Happy Days are Here Again” and sitting with other students afterwards at the community college I was attending discussing what we remembered from his speech.  Sadly, as I recall, none of us remembered his past governorship.

In college at Troy University I voted by absentee ballot.  When I moved to Norfolk, Virginia I registered to vote there.  I’ve also registered in Knoxville, Tennessee; Pinson, Remlap and now Cleveland, Alabama.  What’s more I’ve voted in each place.

The things that impressed me as a young voter changed as I grew older.  Bill Clinton’s ability to play the saxophone and seeming so much more in tune with my generation of voters would not impress me now as it did then.  For I began to understand the “issues”, the problems America faced and how the right or wrong person in the office of President of the United States affected American’s and other countries.  I also began to understand that a president was only as effective as Congress would allow him to be.  Unfortunately I also began to understand we were often called upon to vote not for the best person for the job but for the lesser of two evils.

The issues I cared about have changed with the aging process of this voter too.  Not only as I aged physically but as I’ve matured spiritually as well.  As my health has changed, for example, the importance of health care for Americas has become an issue that’s far more important to me than it was when I was in my 20’s and 30’s.  Becoming a parent has forced me to think more about how my vote now will affect our daughter’s future and our grandchildren’s.  Not being able to have biological children forced me to rethink abortion.  More and more I’ve sought God’s revelations on how to vote than ever before because I KNOW IT MATTERS.

Voting isn’t about being Democrat, Republican or an Independent.  It isn’t about the color of skin a person capable of doing the job and carrying the responsibilities of the job has.  It isn’t about the gender of the person either.  It isn’t about promises you know in your heart of hearts the person isn’t going to be able to keep.

Voting is about being a responsible citizen of the United States of America.  That means being an informed voter.  It means knowing what America’s issues are and voting for the person that you believe best represents what God would have us do as His people, as American citizens.  It means Christians need to not just vote but make their voices heard on the issues before us.

Sometimes voting means righting a wrong such as in Alabama where our constitution is in severe need of being rewritten and we are in severe need of effective leadership on both the national, state and local levels.  Sometimes it means we’ve got to say we’re sorry, we got it wrong, we messed it up but now we’re going to fix it.  In the past I’ve cast my vote for the wrong person, impressed by the wrong things, being ignorant of the issues so being more careful in my voting now is my way to right my wrongs.

Voting is about respect.  Respect for our country, for our heritage, for our God and for our diversity.  It is about respect for our elderly and our young, our aging and the lives just beginning.  It is about bridging the gaps between groups and working together for the best for ALL OF US.

Voting is a privilege and in America it is still a right.  It is also a necessity.

I encourage you to be an educated voter and to vote in any and all upcoming elections especially the presidential election.  Cast your vote.  Let your voice be heard.

V-O-T-E!

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Ch 3 – Is it Possible to Escape the Good Mom/Bad Mom Trap?

The TerKeurst household has a reputation as NOT being a friendly home for hamsters.  After two hamsters met with an untimely demise even the school felt it wiser for their daughter NOT to take her turn in rodent sitting the kindergarten guinea pig.  Yes, this note came home from the school principal:

“It might be best if Moo didn’t go home with Brooke this weekend.  The children would be devastated if something happened to him, and accidents can definitely happen.  I hope you understand what I mean, and I am not being judgmental, just realistic.”

It was one of those “bad mom” moments – you know one of those times you feel like the message the world, or your kids, or your family, or your friends or even your church is like they are holding up a sign reading “BAD MOM” with an arrow pointed straight at you?

And then we get it “right” – we pack a healthy lunch, we remember to take a healthy snack for before/after practice so we don’t hit McDonald’s for a Happy Meal, we sign the permission slip, remember to send the field trip money or smoothly sail through homework time like you are an extraordinary math scholar.  The GOOD MOM signs and arrows are flying!

Seems like most days we go through a number of these BAD MOM/GOOD MOM moments.  They are tough on the mom self-esteem.  The author of “Am I Messing up My Kids”, Lysa TerKeurst writes that as she is relaying a story to her friend she says, “…I was on the verge of a breakdown and then I spent some time with Jesus, and He made things better.”

Her friend, Renee came back with, “Well, isn’t that where most of us live?”

Renee wasn’t saying we are all living on the edge of a breakdown but we are all living in that place of absolute reliance upon God to get through whatever life is throwing at us that day.

Here, according to the author, is the key to stop ping-ponging between the BAD MOM/GOOD MOM paddles – turning it over to God.  Having total dependence on God.  Time spent with God.  For with God we aren’t “BAD MOMS” we’re good moms with bad moments and His grace is there to cover us.

I find this message not new but reaffirming.  In every area of my life if I am depending on God and not upon myself His grace has me covered.  So math homework again takes two hours, neither my child nor I are bad, our brains are just not wired for math as it is being taught today.  By depending on God to be by our side while we do math homework we do the best we can to accomplish the task; and even manage a laugh at ourselves in the process.    When I depend on myself I grow frustrated quickly, my child picks up on that and we are more likely to need a time out or dissolve into tears.

The message that a relationship with God is a personal one that requires communication and time being invested into it is certainly not new.  But now we have one more reason to be sure that communication happens – no more bouncing between the BAD MOM/GOOD MOM signs – we learn instead to trust in God where we aren’t bad moms we’re good moms having any number of bad moments.

If a daily quiet time is lacking in your life, please consider making the decision to make it happen.  Always remember God entrusted your children to YOU to raise and He doesn’t make mistakes.

And if your child’s principal suggests your home is hazardous to the classroom rodent is that REALLY such a bad thing?  Personally, I’m all for rodent free homes whether the rodent is in a cage or not!

REFRESH YOUR SOUL:

“Read and pray through Psalm 73:26 and Psalm 51:10-12.

“Sometimes I feel like a Ping-Pong ball, bouncing from feeling good to bad to good to bad.  Can you relate to this?  Explain.

Do you ever struggle with being defined by your mistakes rather than by the truth of God?  In what areas specifically?

“Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22  The word righteous means someone who is morally upright and virtuous.  A person who makes right choices that honor God daily.

Make a written list of your cares/concerns and bring them before the Lord.  Trust in His goodness for each one.  Refer back to your list often, praying for those that remain as a care/concern for you and writing out how God answers your needs as He does for each item you list.

Read James 1:5-6.  In what areas of your motherhood are you seeking wisdom?  How do these verses encourage you if you struggle with the good mom/bad mom feeling?

“Suddenly it occurred to me.  With God I’m never a bad mom.  I might be having a bad moment…or two…or seventeen, but a few bad moments do not define me as a bad mom.”  What does this quote from the chapter mean to you?

Do you wrestle with these thoughts often?

What encouragement did you gleam from this chapter?

Spend some time today asking God to give you His loving perspective on how He sees you.  Rest in His lavish love.  If you need to ask for forgiveness for some of your actions, do that and then let these things go.”

Could I Be the Worst Mom Ever?

Note from Faye:  This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst.  Copies of that book are readily available from many sources.  While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.

In the beginning of this chapter Lysa makes it clear she’s stretched to the max and her stress level is around 7 on a scale of 1 to 10.  Her husband is out of town, each child had weekend events to get to and somehow she has ended up with four additional friends of her sons not only spending the night but to get to an out of town early morning soccer game.

She realizes she is running on empty from one gap to the next.  She wants to spend time with God, allowing His Word to refresh her drained spirit.  She wants a time of fellowship between God and herself to help her bucket to overflow.  There just doesn’t seem to be any time.

The next morning she manages to get all the boys and one of her daughters up and out of the house by 5:45 a.m. to make the soccer match and half-way there someone points out they haven’t eaten breakfast.  Feeling as if her status as a good mom is already in question she drops off the boys and hurries to the nearest drive thru with her daughter for biscuits and tea.  The drinks are too large for the cup holders in the van so it becomes her daughter’s fate to hold the teas to keep them from spilling.  It was a disaster waiting to happen.  One pothole equaled tea all over the van.  Mom’s stress level is above 10 and she turns to her daughter accusing her of letting the tea spill.  The daughter responds with it wasn’t her fault her mom hit the pothole and out of Mom’s mouth flies, “Shut up and eat your d*** biscuit!”  The daughter was hurt.  Mom didn’t tell them to shut up.  Mom didn’t cuss at them.

Mom was appalled with herself.  The same mouth that praised God had just cussed at her child.  Her spirits fell to the floor and she was sure she was the worst Mom ever.  So she called a friend and after more than sufficient warning of the horrible thing she was about to share she told her what happened.

Her friend said, “That’s it?…That’s what you are so upset about?  Apologize to her (the daughter), ask God for forgiveness, and get over it.  So you had a hard morning.  Stop letting Satan get the best of you and ask God to give you a new attitude.”

In reading this narrative I was struck by my own thought, “That’s it?  THAT’S your WORST MOM EVER story?  My gosh I can top that.”  How many of you could too?  If you feel comfortable doing so, share your “worst Mom ever story”.

But like the author the formula for getting back on track is to ask forgiveness from our child (ren), from God and let it go.  We can’t let Satan have that stronghold over our spirits.  God will give us a new attitude.  We just HAVE TO MAKE TIME to SPEND WITH OUR CREATOR.

None of us can operate very long when our tank reads empty.  Like a car, we can’t run on fumes, we need fuel.  Spending time really listening and communicating with God is how we fill ourselves up.  How we guard against worst Mom ever moments.

REFRESH YOUR SOUL:

Read Psalm 103:1-4

Before stating that God forgives his sins, David the author of this Psalm praises God first.  What are some things you can praise God about right now?

In verse 2, David said, “forget not all his benefits”.  What do you think he means?

What verbs are found in verses 3-5.

What does God forgive?

What does God heal?

What does God redeem?

What does God crown you with?

What does God satisfy your desires with?

Verse 5 states that your “youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  Life, energy and vitality return to your spirit.  How does this make you feel?

Psalm 103:8-13

God’s love for you is described in what way?

God does what with our sins?

“If God removes our sins, then why do we allow Satan to beat us up for them?  Let God remove your sin and leave it with Him.   Satan can’t beat us up with sin that we’ve let God truly have.  Only when we hold on to it can Satan use it against us.  Learn what God what to teach you about this sin in your heart and let it go.”

“Does fearing God mean “afraid of Him” fear?  No, fearing God is a healthy respect and reverence of Him.   How do you show this to the Lord?”

“We often think of God as big and powerful and mighty.  But in this psalm it is very clear that His tender compassion is there for us as well.  How do you show your own children compassion?”

Now that you’ve identified how you are compassionate with your children, identify how God is compassionate with you.

“Verse 17-18 tells us the Lord’s love is with whom?”

How many times does the word perfect appear in these verses?

“Whose righteousness will be with your children and your children’s children?”

Righteousness can be stated simply as “right choices that honor God.”  To those who ask God gives the ability to make right choices that honor Him.  He will do it for you and your children.  Since children act what they see it is vital we model making choices that honor God before them.  We will mess up but we can then model right behavior by pointing to God’s forgiveness, healing and redemption.

This psalm began with praise and ends the same way.  Praise God for how He has blessed your heart through today’s study.

“Am I Messing Up My Kids” by Lysa TerKeurst

Note from Faye:  This blog series, “Am I Messing Up My Kids” is based in part on a book by that title by Lysa TerKeurst.  Copies of that book are readily available from many sources.  While it is not necessary to have a copy to participate and enjoy this blog series it will be helpful to you if you have one.

Every mother alive who loves her children has at one point or another asked herself, “Am I messing up my kids?”  Motherhood is tough.  It isn’t for the weak hearted.  It can fill you with love and pride in one moment and panic and uncertainty the next.

In Chapter One of the book written by Lysa TerKeurst above she relates how she has taken her 14-month old daughter to a local store for a little shopping.  Mom is prepared.  Bottles.  Snacks.  Toys.  What she didn’t plan on and couldn’t foresee is her daughter’s fascination with manuals behind the cash register that could not be shaken.  Mom ended up leaving the store and later crying in a bathtub.  “I am so completely spent.  I have nothing left to give.  What’s wrong with me?  I am so afraid I am going to be a complete failure as a mother.  Lord, am I going to mess up my kids?”

Two things stood out for me here.  One, sometimes no matter how well prepared we are our kids are going to be focused on anything but what we have as plan A, B, C or Z.   Part of being a child is the inability to yet control their emotions, their wants, and their will power.  That’s why they need parents, to teach them these things.  Two, we’ve all had that “Am I messing up my kids?” moment.

Our now eleven then four year old daughter (who we adopted) came to live with us full time just after her fourth birthday.  My first “Am I messing up my child” meltdown occurred following another frustrating and fruitless custody hearing.  By then the biological mother had moved out of our home.  The biological father could not be located.  Who held legal custody of Kiana was unclear as no one had complete paperwork and the Tennessee courts and Department of Human Services were not cooperative.  We had been unsuccessful in enrolling Kiana in Medicaid or AllKids and without legal custody couldn’t add her to our health insurance coverage at work.  As my husband and I were petitioning the court here for custody the red tape, legal hoops and what often seemed ridiculous demands upon us were frustrating.  We left the court that day no further along than what we had been when we went in.  Kiana was tired and hungry and she was whiny.  “Mama,” she asked from her car seat properly installed in our car, “I thought you were going to take care of me!”

Only a few weeks after Kiana had moved in she’d climbed into my lap and asked me if I would promise to always take care of her.  I’d promised to always do my best to.   Her four year old heart heard, “Yes I will.”  That day’s court appearance didn’t make it seem to be something I could do.  So as we pulled through the McDonald’s drive-thru for a Happy Meal with chocolate milk tears were streaming down my face.  Was I going to be a failure as a mother?  Were we going to mess up this precious child’s life even more than it already was?

The author recovered from her doubt ridden moment.  I recovered from mine.  Though both events were radically different in their reasons for occurring they held one thing in common.  Both the author and I turned to God with our fears and learned to keep our Bibles handy and our hearts open.

Kiana’s adoption has been settled since 2006 and as a woefully incomplete and totally imperfect Mom I love motherhood nonetheless.  Like the author, I do consider motherhood a calling and I do recognize that decisions Kiana’s dad and I are making now will shape her morally, ethically, emotionally and physically long past Kiana to her great-great-grandchildren.

Refresh Your Soul:

On pages 14-15 are devotional activities and commentary based on Psalm 23:3 and I Peter 1:5-7.  As you complete these open your heart to what God is encouraging you to obtain from this Bible study.  Share with the group as you feel lead.

And anyone wishing to share their “am I messing up my kid” meltdown story please feel free to do so knowing WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE!

Music to help enrich you suggestion:  “Generations” by Sara Groves from her CD Conversations released in 2001.  “Remind me of this with every decision generations will reap what I sow I can pass on a curse or a blessing to those I may never know…”

Purpose or Gunk?

Hospitals are sometimes cheerless places.  People learn news that alters their lives forever.  Sometimes for some people hospitals become safe zones where they feel safe.  For others they are restrictive places where personal freedoms are severely curtailed.  For others still they are almost second homes.  For Claire, who had been in the hospital 11 times in 8 years and who had finally agreed to have her leg amputated in order to cut back on her hospital visits and life threatening events from severe infections there were mixed emotions on her 12th visit.  Claire knew all the warning signs and could tell when she’d be a patient in a local hospital again, but this time came as a surprise.

Because it was a surprise Claire was angry and resentful.  She was also depressed.  Meg, one of the hospital Chaplains came to talk to Claire.  Claire, who takes her faith seriously, welcomed the opportunity.  Claire was again facing a potentially life threatening situation and after several episodes of these situations she was faith weary.   She was angry that she was hospitalized again.  Her heart kept rejecting the news.  She’d scarified a leg to help insure episodes like this didn’t happen again.  What else would be required of her?  She had a lot of questions.  She hoped the Chaplain would have some answers.

Meg was very kind, and she wanted to know Claire’s medical past.  So as simple and short as she could make it Claire condensed things to a nutshell and her pain, and that of her family were uncovered.  Claire admitted she was struggling with the purpose behind God choosing to allow this episode that threatened her life.  She admitted she couldn’t help wondering how much sacrifice God would require of her family and herself.

The Chaplain mused aloud, “You say you know God doesn’t cause you to suffer but that He does allow it and you believe He does so for a purpose.  Perhaps a purpose you can’t understand this side of Heaven but a purpose, nonetheless.  Correct?”

Claire nodded in agreement.  Meg continued, “So I wonder what if instead of believing God has a purpose in your suffering you consider instead that gunk happens in all our lives and Jesus helps us through it.  So maybe there is no purpose in your suffering, maybe it’s just Jesus helping you through the gunk.  Maybe if you shifted to thinking of your suffering as not having a purpose it would be easier to accept, it’s just something that happens.”

Meg prayed with Claire and her husband and during the long hours in the hospital Claire thought about the Chaplain’s words.  Claire had a lot of time to think when confined to a bed in the intensive care unit.  On one hand thinking that all the trials and tribulations and sufferings of the last eight years were simply “gunk” getting thrown at her and Jesus was helping her get through it seemed wrong.  Yes, Jesus was helping her through the gunk, but no that it was without purpose.

Job came to mind.  Job was allowed to have his belief in God to be tested by Satan to prove his faith would hold up to the challenge.  And in his suffering he said, “But those who suffer he delivers to their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.”  (Job 36:15 N.IV.)  God communicated to Job during Job’s suffering and used the suffering of Job to show His glory and His might.  So, yes, Job’s suffering (physical, loss of children, loss all he owned, and the loss of the respect of his friends) had a purpose.  God proved Satan wrong.  God proved He was faithful to the one who loved Him with all their heart and soul.

Still Claire wondered, since she was no Job, what purpose could God have in her suffering?  She often cringed when people referred to her as an inspiration or called her courageous.  She didn’t want the pressure that came from those labels.  So she dug deeper into scripture, who was right?  Meg’s belief that all of what Claire had gone through was simply life’s gunk Jesus helped her through or Claire’s belief God had a purpose for all of it; a reason for her suffering and her families suffering which was right?  Peter, she found, had something to say about the subject.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  I Peter 1:3-9

There were comfort in Peter’s words for Claire, there was assurance.  If the only reason for the sometimes ceaseless pain, the repeated life threatening events, the suffering was to refine their faith then it was worth it.  That was purpose enough.  James too had words of assurance for Claire to read.

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

Lastly Claire ended her search with words from Paul.  Paul who surely suffered persecution for the deliverance of the Gospel but who also knew physical suffering from some “thorn in his side” from which he prayed for deliverance and did not receive it.  Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. ” Romans 5:3-5

The Chaplain was right that “life is messy” and sometimes “gunk” does just get thrown our way and as believers in Christ He does help us through those messy, gunky times.  But Claire knew she was right too and for her it confirmed a foundation of her faith in God.  God allows things in our lives that are messy and painful “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28.

Claire realized that God doesn’t call us to go through hard times for no reason.  Sometimes we bring upon ourselves a consequence from our sin that is painful.  Sometimes other people act and the consequences from their actions (sins) cause us pain.  Yes, sometimes life just gets all gunked up.  But God does allow suffering in our lives for a purpose.  Maybe to strengthen our own faith or someone else’s; maybe it is to build our character or to teach us perseverance or maybe we won’t know the reason until we are in Heaven and somehow then, Claire doesn’t think it will matter then at all.

However, for now, Claire knows to think that her suffering is just life’s gunk Jesus gets her through diminishes her hope.  So with all due respect to Meg, Claire will continue to believe God has a purpose for all things in her life, even the suffering.

The Quilt – Part 4 – The Ending

…Was everything a lie?  How much had Todd deceived me?  Even more important, how much was he going to keep deceiving me?  How deep did Todd’s problem go?

I looked at Grandma’s Quilt, all the crazy patterns and colors; it looked like a giant jigsaw puzzle someone put together without the benefit of the picture on the front of the box.  It was more a symbol representing our lives it was proof you can take the bits and pieces of your life, the good and bad, give them to God and He makes your life into a quilt for His glory.  Oh, how it hurts in the making.

Looking back on that night, when Todd revealed to me a very painful part of who he was, my own hurt was crushing.  It was so difficult to reconcile the man who, on that night and so many others in our future, would wrap Grandma’s quilt around us tightly and call out to God for himself, for me, for Ally, for release from “his thorn in his side” and for our marriage.

The official diagnosis would be “sexual addiction” which sounds awful and certainly made me, the wife, feel sick inside.  Todd didn’t feel so great either.  It’s a dark diagnosis and not one you get up and request prayer for in Sunday School or church.  It’s not something you confess to your friends or at marriage conferences.  It doesn’t come up in casual conversation.  So, although our pastor knew and a few friends Todd and I found our way through each day of our marriage with God, one another and professional counseling.

More and more in my heart, every time Todd “slipped” and I’d find out or he’d confess willingly the quilt became an engrained symbol of our marriage.  It comforted me in my deepest sorrows.  It was a shield when anger would erupt over us.  Todd often referred to it as his prayer mantel and many, many times I’d find him knelt in prayer weeping into Grandma’s quilt.

It took over 20 years for Todd to gain long term remission from sexual addiction.   I am just now free of the fear that feasted on the darkness of Todd’s addiction every time he is a little late coming home or doesn’t answer his cell phone when I call.   In 20 years there were over thirteen slips, not counting the kiss with Lisa.  Sometimes it was women he sought and met online, women he didn’t actually meet face to face but with whom he spun fragile hopes of futures he could never keep.   Twice it was actual women he “dated” and one he tried to carry further than dating but couldn’t.  The other encounters were online pornography.  Amazingly none of these slips ever led to physical fulfillment.   Todd’s therapist told us sexual addiction isn’t about sex, he was right.

The quilt had issues of its own…

There’s a rip I repaired with a piece of cloth from the bathrobe I was wearing the day a woman knocked on my door and introduced herself as someone Todd had been “dating”.  Stains from picnics, and Ally’s belief that chocolate should be another food group.  (Okay, she gets that from her mother.)  When pieces of the original twin size quilt began to wear I often used cut off pockets from Todd’s shirts to cover the places which resulted in there becoming places Ally and I would tuck “take along’s” into, probably not a great idea, as they are now “baggy”.

Through twenty-seven years of marriage I used odd pieces of cross stitch thread to sew up seams.  Quilting thread to replace old squares with new ones making stitches Grandma would be proud of.  Like Grandma’s original design my handiwork didn’t seem to follow any pattern yet it fit.  Only now I rarely notice the imperfections because they seem right at home on Grandma’s quilt.  Todd and I still take Grandma’s quilt out to our deck and wrap it around us as we talk or pray.  It has a place of honor hanging over the rocker we used in Ally’s room until it was no longer needed but has permanent residence in the corner of our bedroom.  A corner Todd refers to as his prayer closet.

Sometimes I just pass by the quilt and run my hand over it to remind me how wonderfully comforting it is, so soft, so us.  It’s the only thing Ally has requested we leave her when we pass away.  One day I want her to know how precious this quilt is but the time for her to know is yet to come.

Tonight just before I turn in my eyes linger on the quilt and I know I am blessed.  Blessed that my grandmother made it, told me stories about my grandfather and dad; blessed my mom had her part in it too.  I’m blessed my husband recognized the value in working hard for a healthy marriage and in prayer and that he chose Grandma’s quilt to be his prayer mantle.  Blessed that we have a bright, wonderful, talented 26-year-old daughter whose life is still entwined with ours and recorded as much on Grandma’s quilt as our family picture gallery and who recognizes the quilt’s importance.  I am blessed to have such a loving God who used Grandma’s quilt to cover our wounded hearts, celebrate our greatest victories and help us face the future because He uses it to remind us where we’ve been.

Our family is blessed to have such visual evidence of the handiwork of God.  Many women would have left Todd and many would disagree with my decision not to.  Recovery from sexual addiction is not easy and it seems it’s one of the addictions many people would rather go through life with blinders on about.  It’s a shame really.  Men or women who struggle with pornography or lust often wander through it alone and because they do they heap shame upon shame upon shame.

God took what was severely broken and made it whole.  Grandma took scraps and pieces and began a piece of art that was usable, functional and it became a recorder.  God takes all the pieces of our lives, ALL THE PIECES and though we rarely get to see the quilt from His eyes, one day we will.  One day we will.

The End of This Series of “The Quilt”

 

 

My Father’s Eyes

I wear eyeglasses.  Throughout the day they become messy with fingerprints, other smears, just whatever gunk comes across my face during the day – sometimes the smears are on the inside from tears.  Most of the time I don’t even realize the lenses of my glasses are so dirty I shouldn’t be able to see through them.  My husband is the one who pulls them off my face and asks, “How can you see through these?”

On Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman one of the characters is named Grace and she says, “Sometimes the way we see ourselves blinds us to how others see us.”  Another character, Robert Lee said to Grace, “…these people are here because of who you are not who you aren’t…”

In I Corinthians 13:12 Paul wrote “Now we see but a poor refection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

I don’t usually think of Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians when it comes to thinking about how other people see me or how I THINK other people see me.  Recently I had opportunity to do so.

I’d like to say how people see me, what they think of me matters little if anything at all to me.  But that would be a lie.  Evidence points directly to the opposite.

When someone at work incorrectly pointed the finger at me for a large Medicaid payback it bothered me so much I spent over an hour finding an email to prove my innocence because I felt as if my professional reputation had been smeared.  Even more recently when someone stole the deposit money from our office part of my initial reactions were because I was afraid I’d be accused of stealing the money.

As a patient at a local hospital last week I noticed a difference in how I felt when I was being assisted during a procedure when the staff involved spent the time talking with me or “over me”.  By “over me” I mean carrying on a conversation that had nothing to do with me but instead about what they were doing in their personal life.  Clearly in one case I felt like a human being, a person with feelings, pain, needs and the people helping me cared about me as a fellow human being who was suffering.  In the other case I was just a task they had to get done in order to get through their shift.

It’s hard to see anything or anyone clearly if you are looking through lenses that are dirty.  It’s hard to see ourselves as capable, intelligent, human beings worthy of another’s attention or love because we are so sure others see us as needy, incapable and unworthy.  When we need help and people offer help we find it difficult to accept the help because we think they are only offering out of pity or curiosity or judgment or duty.

Sometimes I long to see myself with the filter of God’s love yet other times I cringe at the thought of how I look to God – ungrateful, whiny, self-centered.  Yet He loves me.  Yet He sent His Son to die for me.  Most of all He sent His Son to not only die for me and my sins but to defeat death, defeat Satan so when my earthly life is over and since I’ve said “Yes” to His invitation to forsake the world and live for Him – I will be with Him for all eternity in Heaven.

My husband is right; it is hard to see clearly if your eyeglasses are dirty.   Grace is right; it’s hard to see anything good in yourself that other people see if you’re blinded by what you see and all you see are your mistakes and shortcomings.  Robert Lee is right, people come to help, to your aid, to see you, to befriend you more often because of who you ARE not who you AREN’T.

Most of all Paul is right, everything we see this side of Heaven we see only a poor reflection of because the reality of what God sees we can’t see  because we don’t have God’s eyes, or Heaven’s perspective.  I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try to look at all things through clean lenses and God’s Word since that is as close to His eyes as I can get right now.  Somehow, I just know a lot of things are about to change.

Many years ago Amy Grant had a contemporary song out titled, “My Father’s Eyes” and the chorus went something like this:  “She had her Father’s eyes, her Father’s eyes….eyes that saw the good in things when good was not around…eyes that saw the source of help when help could not be found.  Eyes full of compassion…

I’d like to have my Father’s eyes.  Wouldn’t you?

Hiding the Ugly

This week I have spent a lot of time staring at a crucifix on the wall of my hospital room.  The cross itself is simple wood, it appears; the Jesus is a bronzy-gold contemporary statue.

He wears a robe, his hands stretched toward Heaven, His face turned to the side and down.  His head bears a crown of thorns.  The robe covering his legs narrows to a sharp point at slightly raised knees and ends with feet.

This crucifix has mocked me this week.  I am not drawn to its  modern sharp edges.  It’s so clean, so much a piece of art.

Furthermore, it seems to be telling me I want to present as cleaned up a life to the world as this crucifix does.  Neither images are true.

The crucifixion was a bloody business.  It was cruel.  It was barbaric.  You can’t clean that up and be real.

Earlier this week I admitted I briefly thought suicide was my only option out of my messy painful life.  They were fleeting thoughts rooted in fear and denial.  They were dismissed as quickly as they came.  Nonetheless they were there.

There’s no cleaning this up folks.  But it makes me question how honest we are behind our Sunday morning smiles.  How different would out relationships be if a brother fighting a battle against pornography acknowledged that?  Or a sister admitted she and her kids had a screaming match every morning no matter what she tried.

What happens when these same people cross the church door threshold?  For a few hours are they cleaned up?  No.  Like me they know how to hide the ugly.  So let me try again:

“Hello, my name is Faye.  I am s believer with a messy, painful life but I cling to Jesus and keep trying. Who are you?”

One Drunk Driver

Many of my readers know that the road leading to my amputation had root in childhood abuse.  However few know the starting point was one man behind the wheel of a car while drunk.

My favorite uncle had a new car so as I was always told one Sunday afternoon my dad, my newly expecting again mother, uncle and I, at 11 months old, went for a drive.

Someone else decided to drive that day too.  One huge difference, my uncle was sober.  The other guy was not. In his intoxication he ran a stop sign.  The impact broke my left leg. 

It took three days for my mother to talk the doctors into doing an x-ray.  I, at 11 months old, spent 6 weeks in traction with the only parts of my body touching the bed being the back of my head and right shoulder.

Much has changed in medicine since then.  Much has changed in car safety (then car seats were non-existent, seat belts not required) since that February day in 1965.

One thing hasn’t changed. People still choose to drink and drive.  Innocent people are the victims of their decisions.

Beer, wine, hard liquor do not decide to drink and drive, or create alcoholics, split up families, divide marriages.  People who misuse them do.

Naturally from my own experience and countless other people’s stories I will vote no on Blount County becoming wet.  I hope you will too.

The Choice

Life for me has been pretty packed the last few weeks with surprises.  Yesterday, one more slammed me to the ground.  Multiple blood clots, multiple pain and multiple shock.

As I lay there in the ER patient room I gave in to many things.

The fears.

The denial.

The pain.

The realization I wanted TO GO HOME.

I wanted Jesus to come into that room and carry me HOME.  In my thoughts were how hard Chris works to care for us and all the things I can’t do for him and Kiana

Then for a few minutes crept in a new solution.  A permanent one.

My prescribed medications were in my purse.  A few handfuls and water all I needed.  It would BE OVER.

ALL OVER. I was tempted.

Yes that was awful.

But is real. It is dark. It was scary.

Fortunately I also made the decision to move on.  Dwelling could have turned it even even darker. So I choose to be authentic.

Life is messy. I got tired, really tired, of the mess. The seemingly neverending mess. As a believer m Jesus Christ I know He is with me every where. Especially yesterday when thoughts of over dosing nibbled at mind.

I’m no hero. I do nothing extraordinary in my faith walk. And don’t want to be anyone one’s inspiration. I am human, my life has messy parts. I give up.

Truth is I believe, I am not alone, others are in our world who think thoughts, or even plan suicide. It isn’t lack of faith, prayer or desire to please God. It is the reality of facing daily a struggle with a chronic life threatening diagnos.

I just choose to be honest.