It’s not that Yucky

keith used 11-9-15

…maybe I should say…anymore.

It’s not that yucky anymore.

In the beginning it was.  Oh, boy…it was!

Pain…searing…mind-numbing…constant.

Tears…all the time…millions, if I could stop to count.

Questions…from the kids…from friends...for God.

This journey…eight years today…has been the hardest I have ever been on.

But also the best.

I tell you, when half of your heart already lives in Heaven, it is easier to live here for it!

As a family, we have been able to fix our eyes more clearly and more steadily on our Heavenly reward…and our earthly purpose.

We had a good life with Keith here…joy, love, laughter…a happy, close-knit family.

As a new family, we had to find a way to have the same things.  After all, we are still here. Both Keith and God expect us to continue to live…wholly, fully, completely.

And we have!  By the grace of God alone, we have!

Is it always easy?  Nope.  But…it is always a joy.

One of my favorite scriptures has become Psalm 34:18:

 11-9-15 C

I have had my spirit, my soul, my being, crushed by the weight of grief…only to be rebuilt by a God who loves me…and my kids…even more than Keith did.  It is good to sit in the palm of His hand!

He is as close as a breath, the center of our family’s every thought and movement.  Not perfectly, for we are not a perfect family…but consistently.

Fanny Crosby wrote a wonderful hymn that expresses so clearly what I feel on this journey:

He hideth my soul in the cleft of the rock
That shadows a dry, thirsty land;
He hideth my life with the depths of His love,
And covers me there with His hand,
And covers me there with His hand.

We know Him well…maybe better…for what we have been through.  My boys are growing up with first-hand knowledge of the sufficiency and provision and infinite care of our Savior.  Together, Keith and I might not have been able to teach them as well. I, too, learn to love Him better each day…walking more closely since I have no one else to follow…no distractions.

So…we will spend this anniversary day glorying in where Keith is and where we will be going…missing him here, but living for the day we can join him.

 And that, in and of itself, is enough to make it not yucky.

To God be the glory!

Preparations

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Today is a busy day at our house.

We are spending Easter Eve, as my kids call it, preparing for guests tomorrow.  Scrubbing, polishing, vacuuming, even mowing…working to make ours a hospitable home.

I even have the little boys cleaning baseboards and widow sills…but don’t look too closely.  They are still learning about attention to detail.

Isn’t the same true with my heart?

I don’t always catch all the dirt.  I can clean all I want, try as hard as I might…but I fall short.  Oh, Lord, I fall short.

And…sometimes…I don’t try.  I admit it.  At least, not like I should.  Like my kids cleaning their rooms, I stuff things in closets, under beds, ignoring real change in favor of a clean-looking outside.

Jesus spoke to the Pharisees about this very issue:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also.  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:25-27 NASB)

That’s what the Savior came for!  That is why He shed His blood!

No matter how hard I try, no matter how much I hide from trying, I cannot achieve what His blood did.  He came to live and die so that I might live eternally!  I cannot even fathom the enormity of that gift.

An old hymn by Isaac Watts brings this home to me:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die
Would He devote that sacred head
For sinners such as I

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day!

Easter will come to the Wright house.  Clean or not.  And it will be joyous!

And…eternity will come to each of us.  Clean or not.  And…if we know Jesus…it will be joyous!

Come.  Just come.

A Special Day, A Special Man

Six years ago today, Keith left his tired, sick, earthly body and traded it for a new one in Glory.

As I look over the past year, I see mostly joy.  We miss him, of course, and always will.  But, I see mostly joy.

For those of you who are in our lives now but did not know him (and that is quite a few people), let me tell you what we miss about him:

  • his love and commitment to his Lord, which was evident in all he did and said
  • his love of family, especially his kids
  • his wry sense of humor, which always stood out since he was usually rather reserved
  • his graciousness as a host in our home and to all he came in contact with
  • and, his devotion to service:   in our home, at church, and on the job

And, in memory of Keith, I think it rather fitting that we spent the day serving others…the little boys and I at a family funeral, and the big boys at the teen service weekend at our church.

I think Keith would be pleased.

keith 6-14-03

Mirror, Mirror

I miss the sweetness of a man who loved me just the way I am, warts (and c-section scars) and all!

I know I have the sweetness a Savior who feels that way…He has told me over and over!  In the Bible, He calls me beautiful and His bride.

But sometimes, in my human heart, it is hard to believe that.  I look in my mirror for answers to the inside of me and fail to find them…I find scars instead…and extra pounds…more grey hair…wrinkles.

It didn’t help when recently my almost-date did not pan out (not my fault…totally his readiness-to-date issues).  That “almost” hurts, though, makes me doubt myself, my desirability.

So how do I get back to the truth?  How do I stop believing the negative self-talk, the Liar who is speaking to me oh-so-convincingly in my ear?

It becomes a matter of trust.

I believe that God knows what I need better than I do.  I believe that He will be my Husband and my Best Friend in ways that even Keith could not.  While I cannot physically hug Him, at my darkest points, He sends a physical hug by way of a friend…or a small boy.  Praise Him for that!

But in the daily slogging through this life, I can only trust Him at His word…that He is who He says He is, and loves me like He says He loves me.

An old hymn says, “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

Did you catch that?  I cannot trust anyone else on this earth like I can trust Christ…not even Keith…and he would definitely fall into the “sweetest frame” category.

So…I will continue to look in the mirror, but will try to see Christ’s covering of blood rather than my failings…be they physical, emotional, or spiritual.  I will try to see me the way He sees me.  I know I will probably fail from time to time…but I know He will not.

It’s like my favorite scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Indy needs to take the leap from the lion’s mouth to find the grail.  He realizes that this is the ultimate test of faith, and prepares himself prior to the leap.  It works out for him…and a bridge appears out of nowhere to catch him and take him across to the grail.

My ultimate test of faith came nearly 5 years ago with the words, “Mrs. Wright, I’m afraid he didn’t make it.”

I choose now what I chose on that day.  No matter what, my hope is in the Lord.  He has never let me down…and He never will.  That is my grail.

And, even on the tough days, that knowledge is enough.

I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.  – Psalm 27:13-14

Darth Vader and God?

One day last spring, I taught the boys while wearing a Darth Vader mask.  Really.  I even did the voice.

The reactions from each of the boys were priceless.  My “cool” thirteen-year-old got a case of the giggles.  My ten-year-old’s already big blue eyes got even bigger.  My seven-year-old looked at me as if I had lost my mind, and the five year old smiled a big goofy smile.  They all paid a bit more attention, though–at least for a few minutes.

Let’s face it, school is not always fun.  Especially not towards the end of the year.

We needed a little tension break after a hard day of work.  It helped us all refocus and continue.

I probably should do that kind of thing more often.

After all,  God does that kind of thing with me as well.

His shake-up moves go from the ridiculous to the sublime and everything in between.

Right now, though, the lesson is a dagger, and I am left staggering under the blow.

I will get through it, and He will be there, but it is still painful, and I wish it weren’t happening.

But…God knows best, and if I am going to let Him be God of my life in one area, I have to let Him be God in every area.  No holds barred.  For real.  For keeps.

I had always heard the story of the shepherd breaking the leg of the wayward lamb and then carrying it until the leg healed.  As the story goes, by the time the leg heals, the sheep has learned obedience and to follow the shepherd.  I am not sure there is any truth to this story – a cursory look of information on the web would say it is not.

Regardless, it is true for me.  Sometimes I need the holy two-by-four upside the head to get me back on the right path, headed in the right direction, back to the side of the Shepherd.  And I thank God for the two-by-four to shake me out of my comfort zone.

In all 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 the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. – 1 Peter 1:6-7

The Heat is On!

Well, the dryer is fixed.  New heat element.  New lease on life for it.  Praise God!

As I climb out from under the mountain of clothes (well, not too much of a mountain due to my creative drying around my room), I realize the dryer is drying…better than I remember it!  Clothes are done faster!  (Yes, now the mountain is on my bed to fold.)

Turns out, the lint had been slowly building up, clogging the outtake shoot…and slowly sucking the life and power out of the dryer.  Perhaps that is what caused the overworked heat element to break, perhaps not.  Regardless, it was a problem that needed a solution.

Aren’t I just like my dryer?

I allow the little things to build up, slowly sucking away my energy…and my joy.

Messy rooms and returning phone calls and dishes in the sink and doctors’ appointments and torn pants and shoes ruined and poor math grades and dirty car seats and mouthy boys and uncleaned plates at dinner and jeans outgrown and broken toes and too much TV and soccer practice.

I could go on…and on…and on.  Life is full of little pieces that can easily become annoyances.

And…I must admit, sometimes I let them get to me.  I juggle and juggle my to-do schedule, but find that I just cannot get it all done.  And that makes me grumpy.

Sometimes I can just clean out the lint trap of my mind, scrapping the negative thoughts and grumpiness and moving on.  Sometimes, however, I need to try something new!

Maybe I need a new Bible reading plan or devotion book.  Maybe I need a quiet coffee with a dear girlfriend to put things back in perspective and give me some relaxing laughs for a bit.  Maybe I need my journal and quiet time with the Lord.  Maybe I need a weekend retreat away from the kids and the stresses of single parenting.

Thankfully, I have a loving Savior who will allow my clogs to become known to me…through friends, devotions I have read, or the buzzing in my soul, indicating the load is unbalanced and needs to be reseated before I can continue.

And after I have reset myself and my attitude, I can better appreciate all that I have and all that I am in Christ (by His strength and not my own), and can continue to roll.

And I am made as new as my dryer, ready to (hopefully) do it better!

“…He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”  He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:4-5

The Spin Cycle

My dryer is in pieces in my laundry room.  Blech.

The part is on order, and one of my sweet friends will be putting it in for me, but…we are going on Day 11 of no dryer.

Don’t try to come to my bedroom right now.  I would definitely tackle you if you headed up the stairs.  My bedroom looks like something out of the Beverly Hillbillies.

I could wait until the dryer is fixed to wash, but that may mean that we have to climb over clothes to get to the beds.

There has been a great side-effect of this time without a dryer, though.

As I handle each piece of our clothing to hang it individually, I have been aware of God’s provision and blessing to us.

My guys tend to pick t-shirts as souvenirs when we take a trip.  I have had a lovely trip down memory lane, reflecting on all the fun places we have been, all the joy in being together.

We have been truly blessed over the years with the number of hand-me-downs we have.  Clothes in our own family have lasted well to be passed down from boy to boy, but also dear family and friends have passed down many things to us.  Looking at a load of clothes, the number I have actually had to purchase is relatively small…often just socks and underwear.  Huge blessing!

And…we have plenty of clothes to wear.  There are widows around the world, around our nation, who are struggling to put a meal on the table for their families, much less purchase the necessary clothing, and yet…here I am with clothes to spare.  Blessing again!

I would not have noticed all of these blessings, had I not been put in the slightly uncomfortable position of hanging up my clothes to dry.  This light and momentary trouble has brought me closer to God.  Praise Him for that!

In this fast-paced world where we are over-taxed, over-committed, and over-tired, don’t we sometimes need just a few minutes to relax and reflect on our blessings?

I sure am glad over these past couple weeks that I have had a few moments to reflect on mine!

But…I will be glad to have my dryer back.

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. – Psalm 34:8