Ten years ago today, Keith journeyed on ahead of me to our Heavenly Home.

A millennia and a moment–all at the same time.

I don’t expect most of you to understand it all – I am THANKFUL you do not.  I would not wish this journey on my worst enemy…

…Yet I would not trade it for all the world.

In the beginning, especially because my guys were so little, I had LOTS of needs.  Running a household by yourself is hard – especially as a homeschooling momma.

Today, as I remember, I still have a list of needs…but maybe not what you would think:

  • I need you to remember Keith for the awesome man of God that he was…loving husband, devoted father, caring friend, hard worker…I would call him a man after God’s own heart, but he would be highly embarrassed at that.
  • I need you to look at my kids and smile when you see something of their dad…I see so much of him in them!
  • I need you to hold tightly to your loved ones, appreciating every single moment with them as the gift from God that it is.
  • I need you to not take your marriage for granted…not ever…since you don’t know when you might be walking this world alone.
  • And…I need you to praise God with me for where I am now, who I am now.  By God’s great grace and perfect plan, our family is here in this place, in this time and space…and I am thankful!

I am better for having loved Keith–and better for having lost him.  How that happened is a mystery, even to me.

But it is truth…take-it-to-the-bank truth!

And in that, my sweet friends, I can rest…a decade later.  Glory!

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.  Amen. – Ephesians 3:20-21 NASB

 

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Monitoring the Pressure

I have had an ongoing battle with my tire pressure monitoring system on my car.

A couple years ago, one of the sensors got broken off when I purchased new tires.  Since then, the system has given me fits, telling me I have no pressure in a tire that is obviously just fine.  The system itself even registered it as fine just before it went haywire. 

This whole issue has led to frustration, to say the least.

Today, as sweet friend who owns a body shop told me something about tire pressure monitoring systems that I did not know. 

They are actually wireless gadgets and have to be activated to a particular computer system in a car.  Think of synching your IPod.  Because they synch this way, they can get thrown off if they are too close to another car when synched and then can be triggered by something other than your particular tire pressure.  Kind of foolish, if you ask me.

But I have to wonder…how often do I do the same thing?  Do I, by my actions or inactions, cause someone else to get off track, like my wayward tire pressure system?

I know it happens some days at home.  Keith used to say that I determined when I got up in the morning what kind of day we would all have by how the morning went.  Smooth morning, smooth day, and vice versa.  If we started out crummy, I had it in my head that it would be crummy all day…and then it became a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I think I have gotten a bit better about this…most days.  This single-parent world is just too crazy to get wrapped around the wheel about little things that happen.  As a result, I am better able to take a breath, put things in perspective, and move on. 

I still fail at times, though, letting my poor night’s sleep, my stresses of the day, or my failure to plan better for a calm day, take over and affect the way we operate as a family.  At those times, I am extremely thankful for grace.  Aren’t you?

My tire pressure monitor problem was finally solved today.  It was a bad sensor.  It has been replaced.  I only pray that I can as easily and completely replace my bad attitude and over-stimulated blood pressure to not give the wrong reading to those around me…especially my boys.

Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
Relieve the troubles of my heart
    and free me from my anguish.
Look on my affliction and my distress
    and take away all my sins.

– Psalm 25:16-18

Sun in My Eyes

With the lengthening spring days, the sun is higher in the sky in the morning…and right in my eyes on part of my morning walk.

As I travel the road, I weave in and out of shadows and light, sometimes blinded as I turn a corner or walk between the outline of houses. The other day, as I came around one corner, a school bus was headed down the road toward me. Except for the small headlights on the front of the bus, I could not see the bus at all, only the glare of sun streaming around.

You know, that’s how I want to live my Christian life.

I want people who meet me to be so dazzled by the brilliance of Christ that they can see nothing else.

A big part of how people see me, of course, is based on my attitude.   Am I looking for opportunities to be that light for Christ, or am I, quite literally, hiding my light under a bushel?

I have a quote on my bathroom mirror that is based on a sermon I heard a few weeks ago:

Expect Divine Appointments Every Day

These appointments can come in various shapes and sizes, not always what I expect.  Whether it is as a friend who has a hug of encouragement; a widow who can say to a new widow/widower, “I get it;”  words on a page that touch someone; or as a mom who gives empathy to her own child, I can serve our living God…
…but only if I am looking to serve Him.
Lord, please help me to be willing and able to look outside myself each and every day in order to see the opportunities You put before me, to further Your kingdom and accomplish the work You have purposed here.  Amen.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” – Matthew 5:14-15

The Complex Nature of Farming for God

I have the privilege of praying for dear friends who are a farming family.  Never before have I paid so much attention to drought forecasts and tornado warning and snowstorm predictions in the Midwest.

I can’t be there to be part of the work, but by her Facebook posts and watching the weather, I can pray…and pray…and pray.  I hope I am praying effectively.  Lord willing, one day I will walk their fields with them and see the fruits of their labor.  If not, at least I can continue pray.

Shouldn’t that be the way that we look at dealing with our unbelieving friends, associates, and…gulp…unbelieving family?

Family can know where all the chinks in the armor are.  They can rile you quicker, and laugh harder than any others when you fail and fall.

I had a discussion with my dear friend Carol regarding witnessing to her unbelieving family.  She had been lamenting to her husband and son about their demands on her for money-motivated demonstrations of her love.  Her son had a response that stilled her.

Mom, it might not be for them that you are behaving as a Christian and providing for and putting up with them.  It might be a witness to their neighbors.

Wise words.  Not direct planting, but part of the process nonetheless.  In turn, maybe another family member of that neighbor can be the ones to get through to Carol’s family, bringing them to the Lord.  For that we can definitely pray.

All in all, this is a complex process.  We can only see our own little piece of it, and can be tempted to believe it is the most important piece.  Truly, though, it takes all these pieces to make the “planting” successful.  And it is not us who bring the increase.  It is the Lord Himself.

So, when with others, I cannot be direct with them in the planting of gospel seeds…whether due to distance or resistance…I can still pray for hands that will be there to do that work.  And I can realize that my prayers may be just what it takes to strengthen the other person for the work at hand.

Thanks be to God for giving us a part of the work, whatever part He may give us.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. – 1 Corinthians 3:6-9

Testimony Today

I gave a testimony at our church this morning:

Testimony 11-11-12
            Today, I am grateful for many things.
            First of all, today is Veteran’s Day, a day dedicated to those brave enough, devoted enough, to be willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of others.  I praise God for the men and women willing to be of service to their country, regardless of the cost.  There are many veterans in this room.  Thank you for your service to this great country of ours.
            Today is also my 17th wedding anniversary.  Two days ago, Friday, was the 5th anniversary of Keith’s graduation to Glory.
            Today, for me, is bittersweet…but mostly sweet.
            It is in this loss that our family has really learned to be grateful.
            I have much to be grateful for in having been married to such a wonderful, Godly husband.  His Christian example has helped to make the boys and me into the people we are today, and his dedication to Christ and Christian principles have allowed us to go on without him…and even to thrive.
            I look around this congregation and see much to be grateful for as well.
            Several of you were there on the day Keith and I married.  You have been with us since the beginning, welcoming each of our boys in succession, watching us grow and change with each passing year.
            I see even more who have been there every step of the way since Keith’s death.
            In these past five years, the boys and I have confidently, consistently, completely felt your support and love.
            Whether it was Mother’s Day or birthday gifts, home and car repairs, or support for the boys as they become men, this congregation has listened to the Holy Spirit’s prompting and helped out my family.
            That’s what community is supposed to be…the church as described in Acts.
            I can never fully express what that means to me…and to them.
            Mostly, though, on this day I am grateful to a God who loves me in spite of my failings with a passion that I learn more of each day.  He holds me in the palm of His hand…and He always will.  He loves me enough to hone the rough edges…and to make glory out of my ashes.  He quite literally floors me with His love.
            I am thankful that in my grief and sorrow, He has not left me but instead has allowed me to grow ever closer to Him, being my Husband in a new and special way.
            I have learned many lessons over the past 5 years.  Some of them have been painful; some of them have been very painful.  But the most important lesson my family and I have learned is that God is always there.  On the good days, on the bad days, in the middle of the night, on the road trips, as the boys grow.  Always.
            And I am grateful.  So, so grateful.

Waste Not, Want Not

How many of us have heard that old analogy?  Waste not, want not.

I know my mom used to quote it to me regularly in relation to the food on my plate.

But do we think of this analogy in relation to our spiritual life…to our pain and sorrow?

When Keith died there was, obviously, pain — pain galore.  Deep, abiding pain, that put a pall on everything for a time.

But God is not a God of waste.  In His economy, it is ALL for good, it is ALL usable, it is ALL glorious.

Waste not, want not.

You only have to look at the way the world works together to see that this is true.

Forest fires cause destruction, but also allow for elements to be added to the soil, and for the undergrowth to see the light of day.

Should it be any wonder to us that our grief is the same?

In the greater community, I am able to be an example, a light, a hand to reach out to another — if I take up the challenge that is before me.  I am able to use the lessons learned to show my children, my friends, and others around me the power and awesomeness of our Lord.

Waste not, want not.

Also implied in this statement is that if we waste what we have been given, we will be wanting.

If I had curled in a corner when Keith died and stayed there, I would have missed so much along the way.

Closer relationships, including with God Himself.  Revival in our hearts and in our church.  Beauty out of the ashes.  All precious, precious gifts!

And so, for as much as it hurts, I would not have traded this journey for the world.  Even if I could have Keith back.

Waste not, want not.

Amen and amen! 

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

A Happy Mother’s Day, Part II

A second lesson from the Mother’s Day baskets:

I contacted the ladies to deliver the baskets.  I even sent a picture of the baskets, all scattered about my living room.

The overwhelming response from the moms was, “For me?  There’s one for me?”  They were incredulous that someone would care that much, put that much effort, into someone they do not know, and may never meet.

When they find out there is, then come the tears.

You see, as single moms, we get used to doing without.  There’s always another bill or another growing child who needs shoes.  It often is not as much fun to buy something for yourself, so we skip it, save the money and move on.

Aren’t we all like that?

We have this incredible gift in our loving Savior, and we sometimes look at it and say, “Is this for me?”

We see our unworthiness.  We have gotten used to doing without.  We fail to see the blessings ready to be heaped on us.

I have a secret to share.

We had a lady join the group recently, the week before the baskets came out, in fact.  She needed the comfort of a basket blessing from unknown friends.

I gave her mine.

I am not saying this was easy.  For this girl whose love language is gifts, it was a pinch.  I had been looking forward to the surprise.  I knew it was coming.  But mine did not come.

But it’s OK.  Really OK!

I got more out of delivering the baskets, of passing on a material blessing in favor of a spiritual one, than I thought would be possible.

And God taught me a bit more in the process, refined a few more rough edges.

And that’s what it’s all about.
 
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. – 1 Peter 1:6-7