Who Do You Love?

In one of my favorite movies, Facing the Giants (http://www.facingthegiants.com/), the main female character, Brooke Taylor, after realizing that she is not going to be able to have kids, promises the Lord to always love Him in spite of this.  It is a moving and wonderful scene…and right after that in the movie, big things start to happen, so I won’t spoil it if you have not seen it.

When I was single the first time, I longed for two things…for a husband here on earth…and for the ability to say the same thing…that God was fully enough for me as a Husband.

It was an odd place of dichotomy, but I think fairly typical to many deep places in the Christian life.

It finally happened one year at Valentine’s Day.  After praying and studying hard on the subject…real work involved here…I was finally able to say that God was completely and fully enough for me, even if no earthly husband ever came into my life.  What a freeing moment that was!  Praise Him for leading me faithfully to that point.

This begs the question…where am I in my second singleness?  Have I achieved this same peace and joy with God alone as my Husband and the Love of My Life.

Uh…no…wish I could say it was so…but…no…not fully.

I loved being married to Keith and we had a good marriage.  There’s a lot about it that I miss.  Having a flesh-and-blood husband is very comforting and strengthening on many levels:  someone to hold me, someone to help me, someone to share with me.

God is there always…I know that as clearly as I know there is air all around me.  But, He cannot take someone to guitar for me, or wash dishes for me, or physically hold me when I cry.

On the other hand…

  •  I have the unique opportunity to be able to pick up and go any time, anywhere, without regard for vacation schedules or days off.
  • I can manage on the fly a bit better, changing the plans to fit our needs and things that pop up better.  That certainly did not happen married to my sweet-but-structured husband.
  • I can stay up with a girlfriend, listening to her problems and concerns and not take time from a hubby.
  • I can serve cookies for dinner (yep, I have) and leave the folded clothes on the other side of the bed until morning.

So…I will wait on Him…wait for that feeling that He is enough…wait in this limbo that singleness necessarily creates…wait for Him to fill me as no other.

John Waller has a wonderful song that was in the movie Fireproof (http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/) called While I’m Waiting (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6X71sXagUY).  Here are the lyrics:

I‘m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am hopeful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it is painful, but patiently I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I’m waiting, I’m waiting on You Lord
And I am peaceful, I’m waiting on You Lord
Though it’s not easy no, but faithfully I will wait
Yes, I will wait

And I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint
I’ll be running the race even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I’ll be taking every step in obedience, yeah

While I’m waiting I will serve You
While I’m waiting I will worship
While I’m waiting I will not faint

And I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting on You Lord

I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting
I will serve You while I’m waiting
I will worship while I’m waiting

Amen and amen!  God’s got it.  I don’t need to worry about it.  He will tell me when the waiting is over…whatever form that may take.  And it will be glorious!

Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lordwill renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not be faint. – Isaiah 40:30-31

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Thank You, Lord (A Poem)

Beside my bed I kneel and pray
And thank You, Lord, for another day.
For friends and family near and dear
And knowing You are always here
To guide me, love me, hold my hand
And to always understand
Even when I am pouty and sad
Or I am having the worst day I have had
I remember Your love and constant care
And then I have not only enough for me but also to share
With my boys, my church, my community
And all those who have blessed me
Forever I will remember Your love
From now until I go above
To the world that is waiting beyond for me
Because You were willing to die on a tree.

Treasuring in My Heart – Part 2

When Matthew was baptized about a year after Keith died, many people said to me, “I’m sure Keith is here watching today.”  I agree:  if it is possible, he was.

But therein lies the issue.  What can we really see from Heaven?  What is the relationship between this place and that?

As you may imagine, I have speculated a lot on that.

I say speculated because I have no clear evidence of exactly how it all works.  God did not give us a blueprint of Heaven in the Bible.

The Bible clearly tells us that angels are separate creatures from us (see Psalm 8), so I don’t hold to the “guardian angel” belief (see also Psalm 91).  The Bible also says there is no pain or sorrow in Heaven (Revelation 21:4), so I wonder how much of this place a new creature in Heaven could take seeing.  Wouldn’t he miss us?  Wouldn’t he long for life here with us?  It boggles the mind to think about how that could work!

On the other hand, the Bible also tells us in Hebrews 11-12 that we have a great cloud of witnesses who watch us and cheer for us when we do well.

What does it all mean?  How am I going to take something as complex as Heaven and put it into terms that I can understand?  How can I explain it to my children?  We are trying to understand something that is so much bigger and more complex than we are that we cannot hope to fully understand.  Like an ant trying to describe the universe.  Like a 2-dimensional creature trying to explain a 3-dimensional world.  Can’t be adequately done.

Bottom line is that I can only speak to what I think and feel.  And…as long as it is not contrary to Scripture, I don’t see that there is a problem with it. We are all speculating anyway.

So here are a couple thoughts on the subject.

I feel like the glory of Heaven, the end of the story (or the beginning, depending on how you look at it) so far outweighs anything here that this place cannot possibly make a creature of Heaven sad…God or our loved ones.

My dad’s favorite phrase to me when some teenage “calamity” hit my life that had me totally stressed out, was “Who will know in 20 years?”  And, usually, within a few days, whatever I had considered something I would never get over, I had totally forgotten.  Perhaps the scheme of time for eternity makes anything and everything we go through here fall into that category.  Our loved ones can look at it the same way my dad did…as no big deal in the grand scheme of things.

So…as I ponder my sweet boy’s baptism tomorrow, and the inevitable comments about Keith’s being present, I can say a few things with certainty:

…there will be rejoicing in heaven;
…my wonderful friends and family in Christ will rejoice with me here on earth;
…I will be thinking of Keith, wishing he could be here to hold my hand and watch with me;

…and I will cry…tears of sorrow mingled with tears of great joy…the best kind of  tears.

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength. – Nehemiah 8:10b

Seeing Your Breath

When we leave home on a cold winter day, my little boys automatically look to see if you can see your breath.  Each and every time.  To them, it is the best indicator of how cold it is.

Often, I don’t notice.  Intent on getting into the car and wherever we are headed, I hurry them along.  “Yes, yes, it is cold today.  Let’s hustle!”

The other day, however, I did notice.

My walks have been especially cold the last few days, below freezing when I step out the door.  Nice brisk air in my face.

Even then, I can ignore the fact that I can see my breath…until I turn at the bottom of one particular street and all that breath blows back in my face, creating a haze for me to see through.  I couldn’t help but notice.

And, in that moment, I realize that sometimes I am like that with God.

Now, I don’t try to forget Him in my daily walk.  It just sometimes happens.  I get stressed out by the problem of the day, the things on my agenda, the schedule I have created, and I forget that He is there, in everything, a strong indicator of where I am and an even stronger indicator of where I should be going.

And at moments like these, this analogy girl sees more clearly that I need that breath, His breath, that reminder in the cold.  No matter where I am and what I am doing.  For my whole life.

And praise Him, He will be there to remind me.  That’s a promise He gives me over and over in His Word.  There is great comfort in that.  Amen and amen.

Breathe on Me Breath of God
Lyrics:  Edwin Hatch; Music:  Robert Jackson
Breathe on me, breath of God,
Fill me with life anew,
That I may love what Thou dost love,
And do what Thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until with Thee I will one will,
To do and to endure.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
Blend all my soul with Thine,
Until this earthly part of me
Glows with Thy fire divine.

Breathe on me, breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with Thee the perfect life
Of Thine eternity.

Treasuring in My Heart – Part 1

Well, he’s done it!  This is a good “it!”

My seven year old has studied.  He has pondered and asked questions.  And now he’s ready…to commit his life to Christ through baptism.

Praise God and hallelujah!

Now, in this mom brain, that has brought about a series of emotions and feelings, all in short order.

My first thought when he told me was a very human response, I think.

Well, I guess I’m doing OK raising these kids without Keith.

Again, praise God and hallelujah!

Not that I think I am going to mess them up; and not that I think it’s really all up to me.  I just water those seeds in that sweet little soul and pray…and pray…and pray for God to bring the increase.  And He does.

And then my thoughts turn to Keith.  I want to tell him…that I’m carrying on…that we are progressing as a family…that we are moving forward with our lives here on earth.

I want him to be proud of me and the job I’m doing.  I would give anything to see that smile and the love in his eyes.

These are his kids, too.  I want to raise them to be the men of God we dreamed they would be.  That desire has only increased since Keith’s death.  I want my sons to be in the image of their earthly father, who had his eyes always on his Heavenly Father.  That is the best legacy that I can give them.

I have a quote that hangs on my wall that says the following (I’m afraid I cannot find the source):

Motherhood
It will be overwhelming.
It will be difficult.
 It will bring you to the end of yourself.
And at the end, you will find Him.
Mothering kids is hard…very hard.  Single mothering can be an extreme challenge, one that I often feel absolutely unable to complete.
But the good news is that I do not do this alone, even with Keith on the other side of the divider between here and Heaven.
And God’s grace is sufficient to cover me at my weakest, my most ineffective, my most sinful, my most foolish, my most selfish.
Praise God for His provision! But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9

Sunrise and Sunset

There is nothing like watching the sun rise or set over the ocean.

I have lived a large portion of my life on one coast or the other…but primarily on the East Coast.  So, I probably have seen more sunrises on the water than sunsets, at least in my adult life, since I have been walking with God.

One of my favorite sunrises was shared with two friends when we were on a singles’ retreat weekend on a Delaware beach many years ago.  We got up early and headed out to the shore, huddling together in the cool morning air.  As the sun broke through the blackness, we sang hymns to our Lord and enjoyed the beauty of His creation.

In my moments of stress, I often go back to the stillness of that morning beach, singing to my Lord.  A day began, full of promise.  Joy was in the air.

But I have learned there is joy to be found in the sunset as well.

My parents moved to Naples, Florida a few years ago.  Gulf side.  Sunsets.

At first it was a bit of an odd concept for me, after years of solitary sunrises full of quiet promise.

Sunset in Naples is an event.  People come and set up chairs just before it occurs, cameras posed, to capture the beauty of display.  There is stillness, but it is a shared stillness as all present pause to look in wonder at the beauty before us.

The end of something lovely; the icing on the cake.

What a picture for our lives!  Joy in all the moments.

I love that we have a God who wants an intimate, personal relationship with me…one who will meet me in the sunrise, full of promise that He’s got it, that He loves me, that we will always walk this walk together.  Just the two of us, in quiet solitude.

I love, too, that we have a God who loves us in the sunsets, with others around for our journey, when the times are hard and the day needs to pause in order to be with Him and see Him.  The human family to help transmit the love of God to me here on earth, to sharpen as iron my walk with Him, to share the joy and beauty of the days of my life.

I need both…the sunrises and the sunsets…the times with God alone and with God in groups of  brothers and sisters in Christ.

And I praise Him that He gives me just what I need!

And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. – Philippians 4:19-20

Black Ice

After a week of rainy, yucky weather when I have not been able to walk, I was excited to see a clear, but cold, sky this morning.  I do so enjoy my morning walk!

I suited up and stepped out the door and started across the street…only to have to catch myself from falling on my can!

Black ice…little patches of it.  Too small to affect cars and school buses, but doing a number on my balance.  They were forcing me to mince along rather than take full strides.  Since much of my walk is along sidewalk-less roads, I turned and headed home, not wanting to wrench a knee or hip with awkward muscle movements…or worse yet, slide under a car.

In short, I got a little scared.  So I headed home to safety.

In this widow-walk that I know so well, there are moments like this, too.

I can be traveling along, taking life as it comes, trusting the Lord and moving forward, when all of a sudden…those unexpected moments come and I am slipping and sliding…in my walk and in my faith.

It is often something totally innocuous that sets me off…a song on the radio, a gesture from one of my kids that is so like their dad, a phrase heard in passing.

Then I have to slow down, take stock of what I do have, make the decision to either continue where I am and what I am doing, or take the high road and exit the situation.

Unlike this morning, I don’t always have the freedom to turn around and walk home, giving up until another day.  I need to press on.  The bills must be paid; the decisions must be made; the children must be disciplined.  But that doesn’t mean I do it alone.

God is with me every step of the way, whether I am striding along or delicately, painstakingly picking my way.  And He always will be.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging. –
Psalm 46:1-3