Sunday, October 24, 2010

Red letters...

One of the best decisions I have made in my grief journey is to read the Bible cover to cover.  I finally made it through the Old Testament a few weeks ago, and I felt rather accomplished.  The next page in my Bible was completely blank.  The Word of God was silent.  For us, only for a page.  But for those who lived during that time, that one blank page represented over 400 years of silence from God. 400 years of prayers unanswered, promises unfulfilled, hope deferred.

And then I turn over a page into Matthew and just a chapter in, there they are in all their splendor...

Red letters.
Those red words in the Bible - the very words of God spoken on earth.

It is God speaking to ordinary man - not just to his chosen few. Jesus is speaking to all of us. Those words are for all of us. It is His promise fulfilled, our ultimate answer to prayer, our hope unfailing.

How very often I take for granted having his very words, his very instructions, his life lessons right at my finger tips. 

I awoke this morning quite gripped by fear over some upcoming decisions that need to be made.  So I opened my Bible to finish up reading the Gospels, and I came across some of my favorite words of Jesus in John 15:5, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

And my fear began to fade away as I wrapped myself in the comfort of the Scriptures.

I must say that I am more in love with Jesus than ever before.

Dearly loved, and loving His Word,

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I made a point on my fall break to switch out my summer clothes for my fall wardrobe.  This used to entail a simple switch of closets in our home.  Now that I am at my parents, it means a trip to the storage unit 20 miles away.

I packed up my summer yellows and pinks, and all things cotton and colorful.  I parted with my oh so favorite yellow shoes that gave me an extra skip through this trying summer.

I traded them in for a much darker attire, lots of brown, and black, and my new favorite color of the season, gray.  All things warm, and cozy, and lots of layers, that's my style.  Now I will admit I have way too many boots, but that makes this ease into cooler weather and the shorter days a little bit more bearable.

But this season's wardrobe is heavy....just like my heart.  Opening up that door to my storage unit was a wave of emotion.  I was immediately met with the smell of our home...and countless things of Tony's.  One box in particular had his handwriting on it, "Christmas items and wrapping."

It was like he was just there.

It was like he too was preparing for a new season.

But he's not.  Only his stuff remains.

Stuff he never held too closely.

He was never much on keeping many things around.  He did keep one box of sentimental items and notes, but that is a drop in the bucket to what I have kept over the years.

He chose to capture his memories in pictures, in journals, and mostly in moments.

And that is exactly what I hope to hold onto in my longterm storage in my heart and mind.

Sure, I'll treasure his things.  I wore his UGA shirt for the first game this season.  I look forward to curling up with one of the many books in his collection, complete with his side notes and underlining.  His pillow is still next to mine on my bed every night.

But all of that pails in comparison to who he was, to what he stood for, to his relationships and the impact he made on this earth.

As it says in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal."

One day I'll clean out that storage unit.  And as I prepare to do so, I pray the Lord will guide me in letting loose of my own things in this world that don't really matter.  May the storage unit in my heart be purged so that I have more capacity for the treasures in the life yet to come.

Dearly loved, in my boots,

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The goal line

I've thought a lot about goal lines this week.  My Dawgs finally pulled out an SEC win last Saturday, crossing that goal line over and over again.  And Bobby Cox reached that goal line of retirement after a stellar, history-making career in baseball.

And who can help but have an image etched in their minds of that capsule bringing up miner after miner in Chile today - goal line crossed, mission completed, brave men.

Even more outstanding is my experience of watching goal line after goal line come to fruition this past Sunday at 12Stone.  The church had open baptism at the end of the service where anyone who desired to accept Christ could publicly profess Him on the spot and be baptized.  The pastor prayed, and the people started filing into two lines on each side of the stage.  Person after person, life after life, salvation sprung forth for hundreds that day.  Their goal line to Jesus was reached.

I watched in awe, teary-eyed, as I was reminded of this saying I heard several years ago from Louie Giglio:
"Christianity is not about getting there first, it is about holding out hope for the person who gets there last."

That "there" is the Kingdom of God.  As much as I'm ready to go to heaven whenever God calls me, and as much as I know that this world is not my home, God whispered to me through those baptisms that there are so many more lives to hold out hope for.  There is still more room in the Kingdom...

Matthew 22: 1-3, 8-10: "Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: 'The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come'...Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests."

The invitation to the banquet is still open.  So we pray, we invest, we love, we build relationships, we keep trusting God for those in our circles of influence, those we are yet to meet, those we may never meet on this earth, that they would taste and see that the Lord is good and that they would accept Him as their Savior...

even if they come in last.

It is then that we can boldly proclaim the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:7-8, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing."

Dearly loved, and holding out Hope,

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

My "big girl" pants

One lesson I have had confirmed this past year is that loss is a part of life. A year ago this week my heart was deeply saddened when my dear friend Tammy's mom left this earth, heavenbound. A few days later I celebrated what was to be the last birthday of another sweet friend; Debbie went home to Glory in January.

Add my tragedy and 3 is company. Yet loss continues to strike my friends, random folks in the news, someone somewhere nearly every day.

And that was no different in Biblical times. Just read Genesis and you will see story after story of death and loss. Even Jesus was not immune, weeping over His friend Lazarus. I love that God included this in the Bible because it justifies our own pain and tears in our grief.

Still our society - and sad to say even many in the church - prefer to sweep grief under the rug, to not deal with it, to not entertain it too long for fear it will happen to them.

And those of us who death has struck like a thief in the night are left with a choice. Do we run the way of society? Or do we put on our big girl and big boy pants and confront our loss head on?

Yes, we all own a pair of these pants. So just humor me and imagine me saying that phrase in my most Southern charm. My friends who know me well have heard it time and time again.

I have to put mine on when I face situations or circumstances where I would rather just tuck my tail between my legs and hide. So a couple of days after I lost my love I made a choice to put on my big girl pants and deal with it. I told myself and God that I was 30 years old and I could not let Tony's death, no matter the unrelenting pain, destroy my life. For if I were to live the average life span I was only a third of the way through.

And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt Tony would want me to make that same decision too.

And so these big girl pants have helped me through 6 months of a very hard, long journey, and I know that is just the beginning.  Just last week I was so proud of myself for spending my first night alone after Tony's accident.  It seems like such a small step, but to me it was a giant leap.

I take no credit for my ability to deal with hard things. It is my God who enables me to put my big girl pants on. He prompts me, He sends wise counsel to nudge me, and in times when I just can't put them on, He gives me comfort and assurance that I can trust Him.

So for those of you facing hard roads, facing tough decisions, I in no way mean to diminish your feelings or circumstances. Yet, I do have one bit of encouragement...

Put on your big girl (or boy) pants and deal with it. You will become all the stronger when you do.

Dearly loved, sporting my big girl pants,