Archive | April 2013

Pouring Out – Part 3

Earlier in Part 2:  Rebecca Kings father, Samuel is on his way to jail after a violent incident at the McDonald’s where his daughter works.  He injured three employees and terrorized patrons.  On his way to jail he remembered his wife was picking Becca up.  He vowed they would both pay.

From Part 1:  Rebecca asks God to pour her out as a drink offering to get her father’s attention and bring him salvation.

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Part 3:
Samuel King served five years for his outburst in that fast food restaurant.  The district attorney charged him with many things but what earned him a ten year sentence was nearly causing the death of an employee he had knocked out and who hit her head on the stainless steel counter.

Overcrowded jails earned him early release, not his behavior.  He walked off the bus and looked around the town that had grown since he last saw it.  Sam King looked for no greeting committee.

His wife had divorced him as soon as his sentence was announced.  She’d taken the kids and moved, leaving no forwarding address.  After bugging her parents he’d spent three months in solitary and was forbidden to contact them.  He learned through his lousy attorney they had both died within a year of one another four years ago.

Becca was the only one Samuel had any idea of where she was and he was headed there first.  She still owed her father something.  If not for her he’d never been in that McDonald’s, she and her mother had been late and Sam had been sure Becca had been with some trashy boy. 

Well, he’d surprise his daughter today.  He had her address.  He was going there as soon as a bus could get him there.

Sam figured he had her work address when he found Heavenly Haven two blocks from the bus stop.  He walked through automatic doors and stalked up to the receptionist.  When she asked his name he lied and gave his oldest sons name.  The receptionist handed him a pass and told him he wanted room 117.

Forbidden he remembered the night before his sentencing.  Rebecca had come to the jail and pleaded with him to “ask Jesus into his heart” and before the guards could stop him he’d knocked Becca out of her chair and started stomping on her.  He was sure he’d heard bone break before one of three guards had tased him.  They told him later his daughter had been taken by ambulance to the emergency room.

The next day his lawyer had been furious with him as had the judge.  There had been no mercy.  Sam hadn’t heard a word they said about Becca’s condition, he’d been to mad at her for crying at the hospital getting everyone mad at him.

Now Sam’s footsteps stopped outside room 117 and he figured his daughter was tending to some old coot.  Boldly he swung the door open. 

Before he said a word the woman in the wheelchair turned around.  Sam saw but couldn’t comprehend. 

Rebecca spoke first, “Daddy!  You’re out!”

“Yeah.”. He muttered.

“Well come in and sit down.” She offered him one of the rooms chairs.

“Thought you worked here.”

Slowly Rebecca met his eyes, “No.  I moved here when Mom couldn’t care for me at home anymore, about four years ago.”

“What did this to you?  Wreck?”

“Accident of sorts, he didn’t mean for it to, I’m sure.”. Rebecca turned half away.

“Got yourself mixed up with some no account…” but his words were interrupted by a doctor coming into the room.

“Rebecca had the great misfortune of being beaten and having her spine severed.  Unfortunately she had no choice in having this man in her life.”

Sam rolled his eyes.  “Husband huh?  Forgot your place?” He sneered.

All the blood drain from his head at the doctors next words despite his daughter trying to stop him.  “No, her no account father did this.”

Sam turned an ran.

To be continued.

-Faye

Do I Trust You?

Twila Paris had a song out in the 1980’s named “Do I Trust You” and the song lyrics are about not understanding why some things are happening but that with faith it came down to did the singer/listener TRUST the Lord regardless? Through the good times and the bad.

There’s a certain level of trust that needs to exist between us and the people in our lives. Some of those relationships are intimate. Some are casual. Some are professional. Some are simply roles in life people and we ourselves have in one another’s lives as we go through life.

  • We trust our spouses.
  • We trust our children.
  • We trust the teachers and school staff at our children’s schools.
  • We trust police officers.
  • We trust firemen.
  • We trust doctors and other medical personnel.
  • We trust our siblings.
  • We trust our parents.
  • We trust our church leadership.
  • We trust our friends.
  • And the list goes on…

UNTIL…

THAT TRUST IS VIOLATED.

THAT TRUST IS BROKEN.

THAT TRUST IS THROWN AWAY.

THEN WHAT?

How hard is it to have that completely open and honest trust with someone who has violated it? The spouse who has an affair. The child who lies. The teacher who grades papers incorrectly repeatedly? The police officer who abuses their position? The firemen who is an arsonist? The doctor who misdiagnoses us or our family? The sibling who steals from you? The parent who beats you? The minister who cheats on their taxes? The friend who talks behind your back and not in a kind way?

We’re human. We fail. We goof up. We make mistakes. We sin. We hurt the people we love and the people who trust us.

Some relationships never recover. Trust is such a fragile connection between us. Sometimes the pain from broken and violated trust is so deep we’re left with such scarring we can let go of the relationship, forgive even, but we just can’t trust the way we once did.

“Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5:1-2

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”*
Matthew 18:20-21.
(*Jesus was saying times without number, endless times.)

Yet, truthfully, I am human. I find it hard to forgive someone who hurts me repeatedly, who violates the trust between us countless times. I find it hard even though the Word of God tells me I must.

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:15

So I find a way. Sometimes it requires investing time, energy and prayer into a relationship that needs repair. Sometimes it requires me to remember that because one or two or ten or a hundred out of thousands and thousands break the public’s trust in them doesn’t mean everyone in that position does so. Sometimes it requires the investment of time, prayer, letting go, forgiving and moving on so that the person can no longer have the power to harm you.

Personally I know of only one being who has the capacity and ability to forgive endless times so the slate is clean and that is the Jehovah God Almighty, the Lord Jesus Christ, the I AM. “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning: great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

Even in His forgiveness He does not remove the consequences of our sin.

Yet I am called to be like Him. To have the same capacity, the same ability to forgive endless times. Oh, how hard THAT can be!

We all struggle with trust, with forgiveness, with showing compassion, with being imitators of God. We all too, have one trust relationship that will never fail and that is in the Lord our God. Because of that relationship the other relationships in our lives have great hope of broken trust being restored, of harm being forgiven of trust, like love, that never fails.

If trusting people is your struggle I pray you find your way by the lantern of the Word of God.

Trustingly,

 

-Faye

Do Nothing

Is it just my imagination or do most women have a difficult time doing nothing? I do. (I know it’s not a problem totally a “woman thing” but I know personally more women with the issue than men and my personal experience is what I’m basing this on.)

If my hands can’t be busy my mind is, thinking, always thinking. It is so much a problem that combined with my anxiety it prevents me from sleeping. That was so much a problem I had to agree to take anti-anxiety medication which helps me also sleep. Not sleeping, or not sleeping well, aggravates my other health issues and it becomes one big messy avalanche that flattens me over and over again.

Unless I’m really sick, even in the hospital, I have to be doing something. Read. Write. Pray (and I usually write my prayers to keep my mind focused). I even cross-stitched in my bed in an ICU unit once. The first time anyone in the hospital had ever seen someone doing needlework in ICU as a patient. Another time I did our taxes from my hospital bed with my feet and legs elevated above my heart so much I was almost upside down and I often “worked from the hospital” instead of “working from home”.

When I had to seek disability “retirement” against my will one of my fears was how I was going to be productive. Aside from being a wife and mother, I’ve taken up painting and drawing again. I’ve read so many books I can’t begin to name them all. I’ve been reading God’s word and asking questions I had let simmer in the back of my mind for “someday when I have time”. I’ve begun writing poetry on a much more regular basis. Keeping up with my blog is easier. I’ve got a dozen or so larger writing pieces I want to tackle. I rarely watch T.V. Instead I’ve found more time to pray.

One prayer item is how God wants me to use my writing for Him. Since I was a very young girl, before I could walk or even talk, books were my comfort. My mother always said my first word was “book” although I think she was teasing. If given a choice of any toy in the store as a child, you’d find me in the books. By the time I entered first grade I could read at least at a third grade level and my mother had to fight with the “book of the month club” to get them to send me books for 9-10 year olds instead of 6 year olds. (Oh, and I had to “pretend” to let my first grade teacher teach me to read because she was so upset my mother had already taught me.)

The written word was my escape from my harsh and often abusive life. If we’d had a community library back then I’d been there every day. Words, those marvelous things that people were able to put together in such ways that touched my life, gave me hope that there would be a better tomorrow, assurance love and life were out there – they were my best friends for the majority of my life. So my own desire to write is no surprise.

A lack of ideas isn’t what holds me back. I’ve got ideas coming out of the woodwork. I compose stories in my head, part of that not being able to sleep for thinking problem I have.

A lack of confidence surely plays into it even though I have had a book of seven Christmas skits published and a couple poems and of course this blog which attracts a few readers for which I am grateful.

A lack of being able to let go of those old chains from my father is part of it. Daddy despised my love of books and once when I was 16 and in ICU from a failed suicide attempt he burnt all my stories, journals and poems. Defying him already by writing, his anger was explosive. His reaction, to burn everything, created a loss that could never be replaced and the wound from that has a scar that is difficult to turn into a “creative opportunity”.

Right now though, as I pray daily and have asked others to pray, I want to write what God wants me to write. There is only one message I have gotten from God recently.

“Do nothing right now.”

It seems that He’s not talking about my writing on my blog, or poetry (I wrote well over a dozen poems just this past weekend) or my prayers. The message seems to apply only to the larger project I want to do. For that God is saying to me, “Do nothing right now.”

Biblically it is equivalent to the message in Psalm 37:7 or 46:10: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.” “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

“Do nothing right now.”

That is the hardest thing for me to do, nothing. Surely I need to be doing something but instead He says, “Do nothing right now.” Not no, writing isn’t what I want you to do. Not yes, write about this topic. More like, wait, I’ll tell you later but, “Do nothing right now.”

So I am filling my time with other things, container gardening for example, and I am praying. I ask you to pray also. God surely gave me this love for words, their power for good, for comfort, for shining the way out of the darkness toward Jesus so I have no doubt He intends I use it. “Do nothing right now.” I am trying to obey for I know that the day is coming when He will say, “Start here” and I want to be ready.

Meanwhile I’m sure there are other women out there to whom God is saying the same thing, “Do nothing right now.” Not crawl into your bed, pull the covers over your head and try to close out the world but “Do nothing. Be still. Wait for me for I am coming!
With prayer in our heart and praise in our souls we will cook, clean, go to jobs, do those things that make up our life but we must also “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…”

“Do nothing right now.” Maybe you do need to spend more time praying and reading the Scripture but your “to do” list doesn’t have any more task lines. Then perhaps that list needs editing. The world will not stop turning if there is dust on the bookshelves or Cheetos under the couch cushions. But your soul will not stop yearning for time with the God who knit you together in the womb.

It occurs to me in the “doing nothing” we may very well be “doing it all” the whole time. “Do nothing right now. Wait for me for I am coming!”

In Christ,

-Faye

Hope in the Hands and Heart of God

As an amputee, now confined to a wheelchair, there are some things I count among the cost of losing my leg that are connected to worship with our Body of Believers:

  • Standing to sing in church
  • Being able to see above the heads of those seated in front of me so I can sing seated down
  • Kneeling in prayer

In church this past Sunday morning we sang “I Can Only Imagine” as recorded by Mercy Me. This is the first Sunday we’ve met to worship since the terrible Boston Marathon bombing. So when this song asks “…will I dance before You Jesus or in awe of You be still…will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall…” many images rush to my mind Suddenly I was overwhelmed with the words of this poem below.

“Yes! Before Him I will bow

Fall upon my face, forget the crowd!

Yes! In His presence knees to the ground

Downcast eyes to see His feet!

Yes! I will dance for Him at last

Forgotten cannot of this earthly life!

Yes! My legs will leap and twirl

Whole hearted, whole bodied in Heaven found!

Yes! I’ll run to meet Him like the wind

Two feet, two legs freed of earthly pain!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will kneel!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will dance!

Yes! Yes! Yes! I will run!

Yes! Yes! Yes! Before Jesus my King!

Leap legs! Dance feet! Kneel!

No longer crippled by earthly woes!

Yes! Kneel! Yes! Dance! Yes! Run!

Yes! He’s waiting and Yes! He knows!

My heart goes out to those in the Boston Marathon bombing who are suddenly without legs, arms, feet, hands. I know the drastic change in their lives. Join with me in prayer that they will reach the place that they will be comforted by the facts of what Heaven will bring. No matter the outcome of any trail, any punishment, nothing will make up for the loss of your limb. As nothing can make up for the loss of life. This one suspect’s death did not restore any life. This remaining suspect’s imprisonment or even his life will not restore whole bodies to their victims.

Could it be that the ones responsible die three times it would not be enough.

Could it be that the ones responsible lose their limbs multiple times over, it would not be enough.

A billion dollars paid to the victim’s families and still their son and daughters are gone from this earth. It cannot make that seem right.

For some things there is no justice.

For some things there is no way to right a wrong.

For some things “I’m sorry” is not enough.

Such is where these victims and their families are…it is a difficult place…it is a dark valley…but their hope lies not in the legal system but in the hands and heart of God.

In Christ’s Love & Grace,

Faye

I Am Not These Men

I’m blessed with two friends that write beautiful blogs.

One has such an eloquent and simple way of bringing the scripture into everyday situations that I want to write just like him. He touches people lives with God’s Word through his words on a daily basis. His name is Dusty. He writes Devoted Conversations.

The other I personally think of as the Nicholas Sparks of Christian writing for he has the ability to draw his readers into the situations and you feel as if it is happening to you. Or at the very least you are an eye witness to the events unfolding. I want to write just like him. His name is Duane and he writes Scribing the Journey.

Problem is I can’t write like either man for I’m neither of them.

The other problem is that there are times I want to be both of them. I want both of these men’s respect as a blogger/writer. I want both of these men’s talent. These realizations have had me disappointed in myself the past few days.

I’m not devoting my writing skills to either of these other bloggers, am I?

It’s not their interpretation of life as a Believer I am sharing, is it?

It’s not their readers I’m speaking to, is it?

I’m not jealous, am I?

God Himself can bear witness to the fact that I pray often for Him to help me write what it is He wants me to write. Whether it’s blogging or working on my novel or spilling out poetry I want it to honor God. I come to Him and I ask Him to help me keep it real, to help me pull back the curtains on my own heart and say with all honesty, “Here, this is what life as a Believer, who is a woman such as I, is like.”

So why have I been wanting to blog like Dusty? Or Duane?

Because I admire their writing abilities. I know Dusty well enough to know he lives his life as a devoted Believer with integrity. I know Duane to be the same. I am blessed to count them both as Christian brothers and friends.

But I can’t be them.

I can’t write like them.

God doesn’t give me their writing assignments.

I am me, warts, pimples and all. I don’t always get my life as a Believer right. I struggle to understand Scripture written thousands of years ago and apply it to modern day circumstances. I often write through a haze of depression and physical pain. I am not a man. The most formal education I have in regards to seminary is one New Testament class and a few other “electives” taught in a satellite class nearly twenty years ago. But, I really am okay with who I am.

This is MY faith walk. Not Dusty’s. Not Duane’s. Not yours. It is between me and God.

So, whether I make the impact on people’s lives that Dusty or Duane do, does it matter? Not to me if it doesn’t matter to God. It can’t matter to God or else He’d be giving me their assignments. Deep sigh, deep breath, exhale, relax and pray.

Your walk with God isn’t my walk either. It’s yours. Uniquely yours. No one can do it for you. No one cannot do it for you either. God is as close to you as you will allow Him to be. He loves you, warts, pimples, scars, fears, brokenness, sins and all.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (emphasis mine)

May we all find the Way to the Father God in the way He assigns to each of us uniquely.

When Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except thought me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14: 6-7

One way, one truth, one life, one gate. It’s our faith journey of passing through Him that is unique and solely our own. What a wonderful faith walk it is!

-Faye

Satan and the Snake

Said Satan to the serpent, “Come on and join with me

I wish to render aid to Adam, I wish to help the woman Eve.”

The serpent was quite crafty it recognized that this was not true

But did it really have need to care, if Satan had no wish to help the two?

So he shook his head, he pawed the earth and to Satan said,

“What is in it for me if I help you? I’ve no wish to be dead.”

“Let me use your body, let me speak to Eve through you.

She knows you so she won’t be afraid and then you’ll get your due.”

Satan waited for an answer, “Tell me serpent what is it you say?”

The serpent’s ego was all puffed up it visualized its day.

It always knew it was to do great things so he joined Satan’s evil plan

Together the two of them would bring about the fall of man.

Everything went as planned at first, came off without a hitch

Satan spoke through the serpent there was not a tiny glitch.

Eve ate the fruit as Adam did the two cried they’d been duped

By Satan from inside the serpent’s skin and all creation changed.

Wrought by a play on words, a hint of truth, a lie grew to exist

A lie that led to God’s warning being too easily dismissed.

The serpent first in line for punishment crawled among the dust

God even cursed his offspring it was no longer an animal to trust.

Between the snake and humankind enmity would always be an evil will

It would be crushed beneath their feet, their heels its strike would feel

The craftiest of the animal creations, punished right along with man

The first tool of Satan the serpent was, the first play of Satan’s plan.

As far as for man’s redemption one day God knew what to do

To bridge the gap ‘tween God and man He would die for me and you.

To this day the once crafty serpent crawls along every curse still true

Ironic is it not, that as Satan promised, the serpent received what it was due?

*This is a work of fiction, it is only Biblical in regards to the serpent being used by Satan to talk Eve into tasting the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the curse God placed upon Satan. Also Biblical is the fact God, as His Son, would die upon a cross and rise from the grave to restore the relationship between Him and mankind. For the Biblical account of the fall of mankind read Genesis 1-3. For the Biblical account of the death of God upon the cross as Jesus read Matthew 26-28.

-Faye

A Poem/Prayer Blog This Morning

No regular blog this morning,
I’ve been so long in prayer
Not seeking fame or fortune
But truth and solace there.
Many needs for many folks
Are recorded in my book
I couldn’t write a real quick prayer
These deserved a deeper look.
For some stand in need of healing
For spirit, body, soul and mind
Others needs are quite different
Special intercession they must find.
One father in need of salvation
One father whose temper needs control
A daughter faces breast cancer again
A mother witnesses this battle foe
My daughter has some issues
My friends have needs I do not know,
Yes the prayer list was quite lengthy
For which I praise the Lord
Was time well spent with Jesus
On behalf of His children He adores.

Prayers for you!
-Faye

Renewing


“Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2 NIV

It is a lovely spring morning in Alabama. Out in the rural area I live in, in a small “town” there are still the sounds of multiple birds chirping, bees buzzing, roosters crowing, hens clucking, the occasional swish of tires on the street outside my front door. But here, on our back porch, even within easy sight of houses and sheds it feels as if I am alone in the screened in womb of which I’ve become quite attached too recently. Having my quiet time with God out here with a good cup of coffee has been a “want to” of mine since I started my flowers, vegetables and herbs growing.

Being out here, regardless of the time of day, renews my heart. Being out here, reading God’s word, renews my mind. Being out here, praying and seeking God’s will renews my spirit. Because those parts of me are renewed then I am renewed also in the roles of my life. As a Believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. As a student of the Scriptures. As a wife. As a mother. As a sister. As an aunt. As a church member. As a friend. As a writer. The list is shorter these days since my disability retirement, but I’m learning that this too is a renewing.

It is extra special this year that the seasons of my life are in alignment with the seasons of nature. Winter, with its cold winds and icy rains, dark skies and short days seemed endless but it too matched my season of life. My depression deepened. My hope diminished. My spirit sought shelter from the harshness of winter. Because I found that shelter in Christ then just as the earth warmed and the season changed so did I.

And of course Easter arrives with spring and the resurrection reminders can’t help but put one’s mind toward renewed life, renewed faith.

As a female, I willingly confess to you, that I often wondered if I was losing touch with my “female” side when I was in the work force. Even during the time I was in ministry. For many years, all but ten months of my time in the ministry, I was without husband or child. It was easier to work long hours, nurture other’s children and youth and work seven days a week to meet the demands of the congregation. Yet it was during this time I found myself losing my “female” side.

It wasn’t welcomed as easily in a Southern Baptist church as it would have been in another denomination. There were times other ministers, who were male, would “put me in my place” quite clearly and sometimes not with an attempt of kindness. I never desired to a senior pastor position or one that would require my preaching. It was only towards the end of my time in ministry when I had at last been able to enjoy some formal seminary training and was asked to teach what I had learned to small groups in our church that I lead a group that had adult men in it that was focused mainly on Scripture. But I learned you had to have a thick skin to be a female in ministry if you wanted that “title”. It was important to me to be able to say I was the youth minister for my church. It was easier for others if I used the title youth director. I knew other male counterparts in the same line of work I was with the same credentials and no one had a problem with them being a “minister” yet allowing a female to use that title was a touchy issue most of the time. So I learned to “think like a man” more than “like a woman” in ministry. I wasn’t always successful, but I was far more than I believe people realized and in doing so I lost touch with my “female” side.

Once I made the transition into the non-profit work field my ability to cater more to my male attributes was something that allowed me success. I remember the day we received word that one of our counselors had passed away unexpectedly in New Orleans where he grew up and had taken a brief and unplanned trip that weekend. When my supervisor told me, even though by then due to circumstances and some unusual phone calls I already suspected the truth, when she told me Keith had passed away it brought tears to my eyes and pain to my heart. Just at that time I was reeling with the shock and news a delivery of office supplies arrived. My supervisor stood there in amazement as my “professional” side immediately took over and the delivery man left never knowing anything was wrong. “How did you do that?” she asked. “One second you’re nearly crying and clearly upset and the next you can’t tell a thing is wrong with you!”

For me the trick to being a female in a male dominated field is to learn how to separate what you’re doing with your emotions. I called it “boxing up your emotions”.

The upside of this is that I learned to look at situations and issues from many different viewpoints before making a decision and to be concise about it. The downside was that when I needed my ability to be female, to center on my intuition as a female I often had to struggle to identify it, it was no longer an automatic part of me.

God’s word more than the warmer air around me or the sounds and sights of nature awakening after their dormant season has created a renewing in me. My world, in many ways, has gotten smaller. And I find that subjects I thought God and I were finished with, such as the role of women in ministry and especially pastoring are rearing their heads from dormancy. I’ve had a very good friend who is a pastor and a male challenge my belief of what scripture says regarding this topic. Suddenly I have a deeper longing to “know God’s word” than ever before in my life. Not to know it intellectually as much as to know it in my heart. There is a difference in having the knowledge of a subject and a knowledge of it that creates a passion in you to have it be a living, breathing part of you.

And too I must make my life a living sacrifice for Christ daily, minute by minute. Nothing in living the Believer’s life is ever a “single” aspect, all things are as connected as the body parts Paul uses to describe the Body of Believers known as the church in I Corinthians 12:12-26.

Spring gives us many opportunities to think about renewal in our own lives. I hope this spring finds you renewing your spiritual self as well as any other part that may be in need of a fresh breath of springtime air.

In Christ’s Love,

-Faye

“…a time to weep…a time to mourn…”*

*Scripture reference: Ecclesiastes 3:4

It is difficult to know what to say to someone who endures any part of the bombings at the Boston Marathon yesterday. To the families of the 3 who lost their lives in this senseless act there are no words to bring back their loved ones. Nothing one can do to allow them a final goodbye to the person they loved and not merely the body that held that person’s spirit.

What can one say to the still increasing number of injured? I especially identify with those who lost limbs being an amputee myself. How drastically their lives and the lives of their families and friends were changed in mere seconds when those bombs exploded! For what cause will these people live with for the rest of their lives missing a limb?

To those who were eyewitnesses to the carnage and the mayhem during and after the bombings what can one say? No words will ever erase those images, ever wipe away those memories.

As a nation we will again react and feel the shock waves of yesterday’s act of violence against innocent people. There will again be the hesitation where we pause and wonder “could it happen here?” The answer is yes, yes it could.

As individuals, especially those directly involved, there is no doubt the question of why did this happen is running through their minds? What motivated someone or more than one someone to do such a thing? Theories abound I’m sure. But even if we learn the truth, which is likely not to make sense to us, will it be enough? Is it ever?

There is a quote I wrote in my journal that came to my mind as I read the Scriptures yesterday and this morning. It was said by Maryanna, a character in The Guardian by Beverly Lewis, “I’ve learned that sometimes I have to give up my right to know and simply believe that God’s knowing is enough. Not that I don’t want to question. Ach I surely do.”

It is difficult to arrive at that point when the pain is so fresh and so deep. It is difficult to arrive at that point when the wounds are scarred over too.

Ephesians 3:16-21 reads, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge– that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.** Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (**emphasis is mine)

May this love of Christ indeed strengthen us in this time of mourning and of rebuilding lives. For the living must go on living for life does not stop for the rest of us when it ceases to be for an individual.

“Abba Father, You are Holy, You are Righteous, and You are Emmanuel. We need You now O Mighty God in this time of mourning and questioning. We need You now as lives are forever changed. We need Your Spirit to comfort and strengthen us. We need Your love to hold us up. Abba shield us from more pain and suffering if it is Your will as people recover. For each victim Abba I pray Your will to be accomplished and I know You do not will anyone to suffer from such acts of violence. For the person or persons responsible for such an act of carnage Lord we pray Your redemption of their soul and that Your justice will be done. Amen.”

-Faye

DIY or DYI

After my father-in-law’s beloved passed away he wanted to come visit us for a while. We had just gotten our first home and we badly needed a porch and a ramp. So my father-in-law came down and he and my husband were eager to take on this project. Larry* assured us he knew what to do and my husband was confident it was a simple enough project for a DIY job.

I admit I had a few red flags going up in my mind as I heard the pair of men talking. Larry was confident they could do the job and my husband was eager to become a DIY pro. What did I know about building a deck with a ramp? Nothing that I hadn’t seen on numerous HGTV shows and that wasn’t in the trenches knowledge. So I held my tongue and the two men piled our shopping card high with drills, saws, screws, nails, work gloves, footings, braces, levels, measuring tape, work horses; it looked like we were outfitting a workshop by the time we were done shopping. We arranged for the lumber to be delivered.

The next day I went off to work and the men began work on the deck. We repeated the arrangement for three days. In those three days the pair had made a few more runs to the home improvement stores, burned out a drill and at last we had an 8×8 deck with a ramp. It only cost us around $500 in supplies and if you threw in the cost of Larry’s plane ticket we spent a little over $800. The men were proud of themselves. Who was I to worry about it swaying when anyone walked across it? That was the deck “settling”, perfectly normal.

A few months later my husband and I came in from work well after dark. He went on ahead to unlock the front door and was standing in front of it while I was just about half-way up the ramp when the “slight swaying” we’d experienced turned into more of an amusement park ride complete with fright, lacking in fun. The support beams went one way, the decking another, nails and screws went flying, braces were popping and my husband and I went down with the deck. Praise God neither of us was hurt. It was a complete loss. A DIY turned DYI – Do Yourself In.

We laugh now about our roller coaster ride in our front yard and our $1200 deck that measured 8×8 without including the ramp. Grateful that the Brotherhood Ministry of our church came to our rescue when I began getting dangerously sick and built us a solid deck and that they were able to re-use some of the decking wood from our original purchase. Our DYI is a great metaphor to a DIY approach to our walk with Christ.

Paul told the Philippians in Philippians 2:12-13, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work our your salvations with fear and trembling. For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” And he repeatedly warns throughout his letters to the churches in the New Testament to beware of false teachers, of being led astray by people who had been deceived and of being deceived themselves.

(Least anyone be confused, salvation is a gift of God to us through the death of His Son on Calvary’s cross, who died and rose from the grave to bridge the gap between the Holy Father and we, His creations. It cannot be earned according to Scripture. The only way to receive salvation, a restoration of the created to the Creator is through Jesus Christ as He Himself told His disciples responding to a question from Thomas in John 4:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” And Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this not from yourselves it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” So I will often refer to working out your own salvation as your Faith Journey instead of your salvation. Simply for a means of clear communication.)

There are some very practical approaches to working out your own salvation that we as Christians must remember to follow:

  1. Pray. Pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you as you read the Bible and study the writings it contains. Ask for enlightenment and for Godly wisdom.
  2. Be careful not to take a verse or passage of verses out of context and apply it to other situations, both from the Bible and from the life you are living now. While it is true that John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” could be the only scripture necessary to start a Believer’s faith journey, in order to build a solid spiritual life you need the whole Bible, not just bits and pieces.
  3. Have a plan. Failure to plan can have you riding down your DIY salvation as it crumbles beneath you.
    1. Spend time in God’s word daily. Not just a quick reading of a few verses and a dash of a prayer but time you truly devote to enriching your salvation.
      1. A devotional time is fantastic and needs to be a part of your spending time in God’s word but as we mature in our salvation we must seek the meat not the milk. Hebrews 5:12-14 through 6:1-3 reads, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food. Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore, let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.”
      2. Study from any number of available Bible study aids that are helping you learn Biblical truths. Seek out teachers of God’s word, ministers, pastors, friends who are further along in their walk than you and LEARN from them.
      3. As you learn, do not be afraid to question what you are being taught to be sure it is based on sound Biblical foundations. If what you are being told is the Spiritual truth then it will be supported by Scripture.
      4. If something doesn’t make sense, suppose what you are learning appears to be Biblically supported but the Holy Spirit within you isn’t at peace then pray, seeking the intervention of the Holy Spirit to guide you. Be sure the Scripture you are being given as proof of the teaching is supported by more than one Scripture and that it hasn’t been pieced together with bits and pieces of verses that have been supported by inadequate foundational material. You are building on your Faith house and it must have a solid foundation. See Matthew 7:24-27.
  4. Allow yourself adequate time to improve your Faith Journey. Working out your salvation takes time. A solid foundation is key. Your plan needs to be one that sees the larger picture, but also the smaller steps necessary to get there. Don’t take it all on at once! You will be overwhelmed, discouraged and quit. As a marathon runner in this Faith journey you must remember what Paul wrote in I Corinthians 9:24-27, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the prize.”

My husband and his father took on a project neither of them really had knowledge enough to complete. Instead of seeking help they dove into building that deck based on their own reasoning and limited experience. The only plans they had were in their heads and their plans didn’t look the same in both their minds so when decisions had to be made they were made based on what the individual was thinking not one plan. Perhaps using the right tools for the job would have meant once screws were drilled in they stayed where they were placed. Our deck lacked a solid foundation so when the winds and rains of everyday use came it collapsed like a deck of cards hit by the hands of an angry three-year-old.

My deepest encouragement for your Faith journey! Pray. Study. Pray. Invest the necessary time for it will make the whole of your life sweeter in the long term. And of course, as revealed to Timothy in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”

-Faye