Sunday, July 31, 2011

More to this LIFE???

Maybe its because the last two weeks have been filled with heart ache, sorrow and grief. Maybe its because I have been so sad for dear friends who have lost a loved one. Maybe the two deaths within 10 days of each other has me melancholy. Or maybe its because I've wondered if there's more to this life than living and then dying -and wondering what is the deal with the in between, the years after birth and before death.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 says;
" God has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end"
Eternity?? in the hearts of men??
I have missed that lately. Why is it that we think this life, the one we are given to live on earth is all there is?? And we don't even know the length of this time we have.
27 years old-that is not enough time in my eyes. But God's eyes are different. He has the eternal perspective. The perspective of living on forever and ever. Of having eternity without pain and struggle and the storms of life. God has put into our hearts an eternal perspective; one that allows us to look beyond the routine of this life.
But do we??
I've lost sight of that. I see friends in grief, friends struggling with many different issues, families torn apart by tragedy and the unfairness of this life.
I've watched my own family struggle with health issues.
I have friends fighting cancer that eats away at their bodies.
I have one of my summer staffers from June struggling to breathe and make his muscles move in an undetermined illness.
I know people desperate to get out of the mental anguish they are enduring-wishing to be free from the demons that plague them.
YES, there has to be more to this life.
There is the promise of living forever with the ONE who created us and the entire universe we live in.
A promise of a life free from pain, worries and tears.
Do I believe GOD in what He says? Absolutely. Because otherwise none of this life would make sense.
Do I realize tho that what I do here on earth has an impact on eternity?? That everything I do here should be done for the glory of God? Sometimes, so many things I do seems insignificant and what I think would have no eternal purpose. But what do I know about God's eternal purposes??
Not really that much. But what I do know is that whatever I do here on earth is preparing me for eternity. Preparing me to serve Christ forever. Preparing me to see those I have loved that have gone before me and preparing me to greet those that will come after me.
I truly believe that we NEED to live, we MUST live with more of an eternal perspective. Realizing that what we do day to day is important to Our Father in heaven. And that what we do should honor God each and everyday that He has given us on this planet.
O LORD GOD, Please help me to live with Your eternal Perpsective each day.

Monday, July 25, 2011

I wanna be Like JOB

Because of the course of events right now that are affecting my life and the lives of many that I know, I started reading the book of JOB in the Bible late last week.
Mind you, I am not reading fast at all. I'm trying to take in what happened to Job and how he dealt with the unfairness of his life.
If you are unfamiliar with this little book, in the first chapter, satan, the enemy of God tells him that he has been roaming the earth. Then GOD asks satan if he has considered his servant Job.
I read thru the Bible every year-so I know I've read this before, but I was astounded that God is the ONE who pointed out Job to His enemy. Then he lets satan loose to wreck complete havoc on Job's life. In a matter of hours, Job loses almost everything. He loses his livestock, his plants and worst of all, he loses all ten of His children.
I can't even fathom this type of LOSS.
And what does my new hero Job do?? After tearing his clothes and putting on sackcloth, he worships the Lord.
And that is just what the Parson and May families did too, when they lost dear Katie.
That's what I would hope I could do...but could I?
Then satan returns to the presence of the LORD and GOD again asks him to consider his servant Job.
Satan responds that Job hasn't forsaken God because his life wasn't touched. His own physical being. What i forgot to mention above is that in God's first conversation about Job with satan, he tells satan that he just can't touch Job's life.
This time, God tells satan he can't take Job's life.
So what does that enemy do?? He infects Job with boils, and burns and blisters that ache, and ooze and are extremely painful.
Job's faithful little wife says to her husband (probably in her deepest grief) "Curse God and die".
I have to admit, I probably might do this too, if I had suffered her losses.
But Job just calls her a foolish woman and says "Can we accept only good from God? and not the evil things? and again he says" Blessed (or Praise) be the name of the Lord".
Again....probably NOT my first response. But oh how I wish it would be.
So as I look at the suffering and the losses that are occuring this very week:
the Parsons and May families grieving the loss of precious Katie,
my sweet friend Amy, watching her father die and hoping that his suffering will end today,
to the Gray family in Arizona, fighting to live, Praying and pleading with Our Father, to heal Troy-to allow Kelly and their kids to enjoy a long life with him,
for Jamie Lisea's family, who are trying to do what is best for her sweet dad Bob,
and for my dear dear Hoch family, who have no idea what the future holds, but who most definitely know WHO holds the future; I hope and pray, all of us suffering and grieving with our friends, that we too, will be like Job, and praise and worship the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY.
Because HE is in control. HE does see what is happening, HIS heart is breaking and aching along with all of us. And that for us to remember, that all of this suffering, pain and loss, was NEVER a Part of HIS plan. HE envisioned this all so differently. And that is what eternity will be like for us.
Again, I am looking forward to eternity.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Life is Unfair...learning to deal with Grief

Today my heart is beyond sad. It is aching and breaking.
Our dear friend, Katie Parsons May went home to be with the GOD she loved and served.
Her battle with pulmonary hypertension has ended.
PH won this battle but Christ won Katie for eternity.
Sweet Katie had been waiting at UCLA's medical center for over 3 weeks waiting for a double lung transplant. Her disease had made her lungs almost unfunctional. Her heart was in failure too, but in better shape than her lungs. So we prayed and prayed for her heart to be strengthened.
Two days ago, she developed an infection and her kidneys began to fail. Yesterday she went to surgery and had a port inserted and was started on dialysis. We were all so hopeful. And then her heart, which had been working so hard, just gave out and Katie left this life and entered eternity.
I am not sorry for Katie. She is forever free of pain. She is now healthy and whole. And she is in the presence of JESUS, and is joyful. She fought a tremendous fight. She was courageous beyond belief. she cared for others until the very end.
Not only was she probably THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL I have ever seen physically, but her inner beauty even outshined her outward beauty. Katie had incredible pain in her life and yet she kept living.
AND then she and JOHNNY found each other.

Both of them had suffered extreme losses, and God brought them together.
On November 20,2010, I was privileged to be at their wedding. It truly was a celebration of life and hope and God's incredible grace.
That evening Johnny said he wanted to love and care for Katie for however long he could. Whether it be 6 weeks, 6 months , 6 years or 60 years.
God gave them an incredible 8 months together.
And Johnny loved Katie so well. She never doubted his love. And for those of us who knew her, that was the greatest gift she ever received.
Thank you Johnny May for loving sweet Katie so well.
And tonight my heart breaks and aches for Gary and Jeanne and for Hannah and Tots.
The Parsons have many many people who love them all over the world.
I imagine hundreds of people all over feeling this incredible loss and hurt and sadness that i feel and my family feels. There are so so many of us who are lifting the Parsons and May famiiles up to Our Lord tonight.
You see, the Parsons family makes everyone they are with feel special. Feel like you are so important and worth investing in. They love well. they teach us to love better.
And Katie Noel May was definitely a Parsons. She loved and cared for others with abandon.
So tonight, I am reminded again that life is unfair. That life doesn't work out the way we want. That the good can die young while evil people live.
But I want to remember Katie for the grace she extended, for how she loved others so incredibly well. How my life will always be blessed by the most beautiful blonde gal I have ever met.
That she would want us to go on. She would want us to live and she would tell us that she is forever happy now.
My heart aches for us...for all of us who knew and loved her. for all of us who know and love the Parsons and the Mays.
We will miss you terribly Katie. But our lives have been so enriched by knowing you and loving you.
Thank you Katie. and Thank you Jesus that you gave us Katie for a season.
Looking forward to eternity.

Friday, July 15, 2011

YOU want me to do WHAT?

Reading the Gospel of Mark this week has me thinking and pondering and ever so thankful that we have the WORD of GOD to speak the TRUTH into our lives-mine in particular.
Yesterday I was reading in chapter 6 and Jesus tells His disciples to "Come away with Me, by yourselves to a quiet solitary place". We all need to do that -each and everyday. We need our time with Jesus. We need to hear His Words, His Truth. We need to get instructions on how to live this day. We need His love, and His Grace and His mercy and Forgiveness each day.
Fortunately for me, living kind of in the middle of nowhere, its easy to get away to a quiet solitary place. Every morning in the summer, I grab my coffee, my bible and journal and head outside to have my much needed time with Jesus. I have the most beautiful landscape to look at and I thank God for His Creation. But I NEED my time with Him. Because if I don't, I have the wrong perspective on life and what it really is all about. I can believe all sorts of the enemy's lies and half truths if I don't spend time with Jesus. We all Need His Truth ...everyday.
WHY? Because if you are anything like me (and lets hope you aren't), we get too me centered, worried about my life, dwelling on what I want. And then my view gets completely skewed (pretty sure that's not how its spelled). And I think its all about me. And its not. Its ALL ABOUT JESUS.
Then today I was reading in Mark 8 and read how Jesus told us to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him.
OK...lets just say...that is often VERY HARD to do. Denying ourselves is to quit thinking about our own selfish make room for let Him be first.
And taking up our cross?? well I know so much has been written about that. But for me, crosses come in so many forms: anything that makes me put others ahead of me, suffering, pain, heartache, loneliness, depression, watching ones we love suffer or go thru terrible things....TAKE UP YOUR CROSS. Wow JESUS, that is a tough one...and then FOLLOW ME, which I wrote about earlier this week. That too, can be a tough thing to do.
Why in the world would Jesus ask us to do such hard things?
Because HE wants us to look more like Him than ourselves. So that our lives will draw others to the ONE who loves them completely and unconditionally. And to draw those who know Him already, into a deeper relationship with Him.
I want to obey this command with everything that is within me, but OH how I need the Holy Spirit's help moment by moment.
Still striving and struggling to be the person Jesus envisions me to be.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Come, Follow ME

Ahhhh LORD, sometimes it is just so hard to follow You.
It sounds so simple, right?
Just follow Jesus.
But WHERE are we going Jesus?? what if I don't fit in? what if I don't like it?? What if you have the wrong person in me??
That's what I want to do. With all my heart and soul. I want to Follow Jesus. I want to obey Him always. But yet, if I'm really honest, I have to say that sometimes its just really hard.
And sometimes its hard to figure out what HE wants me to do. Where HE wants me to be.
I started reading the Gospel of Mark today in my quiet time. And twice in the first 3 chapters, Jesus says: "Follow Me". Peter dropped everything and followed Him. So did Levi the tax collector. So why is it so hard sometimes for me, for you, to follow Jesus?
Is it mostly because we want what we want? Or is it because we are afraid of what He might ask us to do?? And really?? I think my life would be simpler, more enjoyable if I just followed Jesus. If I just kept my eyes on HIM all the time.
In the past couple of weeks, I have been hurt deeply by someone. And you know where hurt leads?? well for me its been to a couple of places?? One is completely doubting my self worth, who I really am, if I am of any value whatsoever to Christ and His Kingdom? the other place is to anger.
Oh how I hate to be angry. I hate how I feel when I am angry. I hate how it can consume me. Thankfully, I have walked with the LORD long enough to realize that anger only hurts me. And that I need to forgive. So if any of my summer staffers are reading this, I too, am now doing the Forgiveness Prayer. I know it works. I know that only because of Jesus' pure forgiveness of me, that I can forgive the one who hurt me. It just takes time.
I am the leper who came to Jesus and said, "Lord, if you are willing, make me clean".
I need to be cleansed by the blood of the spotless Lamb who gave His life for me.
I have a friend who has cancer and I read her blog this am. In the midst of her battling chemo and radiation, her body has suffered greatly. But she has never complained. She has used this whole cancer to draw closer and closer to Jesus. She is certainly one of my heroes. (You are the BEST, Lynn!).
I want to be like her. I want to draw closer and closer to Jesus the midst of the pain I feel right now.
I want to Follow Jesus-even if it hurts. Even in the uncertainty. Even knowing that it might be really hard.
Why? Because I have learned and realized deep down in the core of who I am, that life apart from Jesus Christ doesn't make sense at all. Life with Him, might not make sense at times, but life with Him, always has hope. I can know assuredly that I am not alone. That I believe His words to me that say: "I will never leave you, I will never forsake you"
With having parents who both died, and friends that have too, with leaving lifelong friends to move to Woodleaf when I felt so alone; I know those words to be true. They have taken me thru some really challenging times. Jesus will never leave me or forsake me.
That's why I want to follow Him. Because He won't leave me. I will never be alone. I will always have HOPE. And if you don't know need to meet JESUS and be comforted by His Love, His Grace, His Forgiveness and to know His Peace.
Come , Follow Me.
Yes Lord, I will. Even if its hard, even if it hurts, even when I'm scared.