Monday, August 4, 2008

By His Wounds We are Healed

"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5(emphasis mine)

When I heard Glory Revealed sing these words to me through my Zune last week the healing began.

No matter what pain, what grief we are experiencing, healing will only come through Jesus.

My pain is not just mine. It is shared by an entire school, by an entire community. And I began to feel it while watching the 4:00 news two weeks ago.

The accusations against the principal of a Christian school struck me hard. Not just any Christian school, but my Christian school. The school where I work. No, it's not work. The school where I minister. My son's school. The principal that my son was honored to have lunch with last September because he received the friendship award for second grade. The principal who helped me with career goals, who gave me coaching tips. The man that just 8 months ago, offered me a job that was an answer to prayer. Praying for Highland Christian was the first time I prayed in this way, "Lord if this is Your will for me, open this door." And He did.

I spent one school year ministering to the students. Elementary, Middle School, High School. Boys and Girls. I listened to their concerns. I subbed in their classes. I prayed with them. I coached them. I mentored them (to the best of my abilities, with help from the Lord). I got to know them, many on a personal level. They are all precious and unique and I care for them deeply. My first concern when the news broke was for the children. So many students came to mind that would be devastated by this. The hurt, the betrayal. Will they trust adults again? Will this turn them from their Lord? I prayed for them, many by name. I awoke at night praying for the school: the teachers, the staff, the board, the students. No, my pain isn't just mine.

Today, after two weeks of hearing and reading about it, I am exhausted. I have cried. And cried. And cried some more. I have talked about it (yes, some of it was gossip). I have repented to my Lord and Savior for believing the worst and partaking in the gossip. Now I am ready to move on.

This past Sunday Pastor Dave taught from Matthew 5:43-48. He spoke of the four different loves in the Greek language versus our one in English. In verse 44 Jesus tells us, "But I say to you, love your enemies..." The word is agape. The unconditional love that Christ has for us. The I-love-you-anyway love. PD's words were healing for me. This man was my friend. I felt phileo love for him. I care for him and his family. What he is accused of is a hideous crime. Some of the evidence I have seen makes me sick to my stomach. Jesus tells us to love the unlovable. I learned on Sunday that part of my healing is to have agape love for him.

This man is still one of God's children. Although he may have stumbled, he is still my brother in Christ. Without Him, there is no love. It is "by His wounds we are healed."

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones

Arise, cry aloud in the night, at the beginning of the night watches; Pour out your heart like water before the presence of the LORD; Lift up your hands to Him for the life of your little ones. ~ Lamentations 2:19

We have a bedtime routine in our home. Every night about 7:45 Korey, Joel and I head upstairs. Korey cuddles into bed and I sit at his feet. Joel sits on the floor next to the bed and reads a daily devotional for children. We discuss it and answer any questions Korey may have. This part is hard for me, I struggle to keep quiet and let Joel provide the answers Korey needs. Each devotional ends with a prayer recommendation for the day, and we pray; Korey, then me, then Joel. During the past year of us being a family, Joel and Korey have gone from high-fives at bedtime to hugs, and occasionally, Joel even gets to kiss Korey on top of the head. Joel shuts off the light and heads downstairs. I have my 5 minutes of quiet time with my not-so-little boy. We tell secrets and share oodles of kisses. By this time he can't keep his eyes open.

The last thing I do before heading to my room is stop in Korey's for one last kiss on his warm sleeping cheek and one last prayer.

And the LORD spoke to Moses saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, 'This is the way you shall bless the children of Israel. Say to them:

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make His face shine upon you,
And be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up His countenance upon you,
And give you peace.'"

Numbers 6:22-26

This is my prayer for my little one. These six things I ask my Father for my son. Bless him. Keep him; keep him safe, keep him in Your arms, keep him as Your own. Shine Your face upon him; Father, let him reflect You. Be gracious to him; that includes Your mercy and compassion. Father, Your countenance will let him have Your appearance, others will look at him and see You. Peace, meaning harmony, tranquility, or serenity. If this is my only prayer you hear I will be content knowing that my little one, Your little one who you have bestowed to me as a gift, will walk with you always. Thank you, Father for trusting him to me.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Children's Books?

Shame on you J.K. Rowlings. You write imaginative books with a target audience of pre-teen children. You make millions of dollars off the books and movies. As the story progresses you bring grief to the hearts of millions, children and adults alike, by killing some of our favorite characters. but you have gone too far now. Albus Dumbledore is gay? And you out him after his death? How can I continue to allow my child to enjoy this story when you destroy our hero's hero in such a way? Did you think of all of the victims of sexual predators? Their predators will now use Dumbledore and Harry's relationship as an example of why what is happening is OK. I am sickened by your announcement last week. You claim to be a Chrisitan and yet announce Professor Dumbledore is gay. It never appeared so in any of the books, please don't allow (them) to put this image on film. Too many innocent minds are watching.

This December a movie titled The Golden Compass staring Niclole Kidman will be released. This is a mystical Chronicals of Narnia, Bridge to Tarabythia type of movie targeted to children also. The author, Phillip Pullman is an atheist. This is an anti-God movie geared to make children not belive in Him. Please protect your children and all those that you know. Click the link for more information.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Scripture Exchange

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
This was the daily devotional sent by Pastor Greg Laurie a couple of weeks ago and it really spoke to me. The title of the devotion was "Eyes on Him," but the line that stood out for me is "since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses." I can only scratch the surface on the "cloud of witnesses" surrounding me.
I can start with the obvious, the unbelievers or those I know that have wandered in their walk, my mom and sister, Grammie, Travis (my ex husband), close friends. Those that I pray for daily. I pray for their salvation, I pray that the Lord will draw them close. I pray that I can be a living example to them, that through me they may be drawn to the Lord. I see them as witnesses surrounding me. Then I goof up. I complain to my mom about some wrong that I see someone has committed against me. I blow my cork when I let Travis get under my skin. I gossip with my girlfriends. Here I am blowing my witness. How will they see the Love of Jesus in me? I try my best. I even apologize to them for putting the burden on them. The unbeliever doesn't understand what the apology is for, but I hope that someday they will understand. I don't want to be poor example of a Christian. Hopefully my apology can help them see His love. Maybe?
The other obvious witnesses are the children. The kids that I see every week at church, the kids that I teach in Children's Ministry. My friends' children. Korey. I can preach the gospel to them all day long, but unless I live my life according the Word, I won't have the right impact. Wouldn't we all rather "see a sermon than hear one?"
The less obvious witnesses are my church family. I need to remember to live in a way that will not "put a stumbling block in my brothers way" (Romans 14:13). I need to remember to smile, be cheerful. Not grumble. Live according to Jesus. I don't know what is going on in each persons mind, so try to be a light to them. Always remember to err on the side of grace. No easy task for me, but with His help and guidance I can only hope to improve each day.

Today's verse from Pastor Greg is "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16) Thank you for sending that to me, Pastor Greg. That is what I have been trying to say here.
Turns out, Fran, that I am just as long winded as you are. Maybe more so!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Queit Strength - by Tony Dungy

I have never been one to think that a Superbowl winning NFL coach would write an amazing book, but he did. I was interested in it as soon as I heard Tony Dungy on Focus on the Family a couple weeks ago.

Tony's book isn't so much about football (although it is laden with NFL characters and stories) as it is about following where the Lord leads you.

I was inspired by this book. It is full of advice on how to live and on parenting. I recommend it to anyone who has time (it was a fast read, I did it in 2 days. OK. I should have been reading LIT books, but...) and I especially recommend it to fathers. I am having both Joel and Travis read it!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The End of a Friendship

"Hey i'm gonna ask someone else to be in the wedding because i think your schedule conflicts with whats going on. I will pay you for your dress and whatever else you bought. I still want you to come"

That was the text message I received at 5:13 this afternoon. Yes, you read that correctly, I got dumped in a text message. My first reaction was hurt. Hurt, obviously because I am no longer wanted by someone who 4 months ago considered me a good enough friend to ask me to be one of her 6 bridesmaids. Hurt because she TEXTED me. Hurt because after all the grief she caused me this time last year planning my wedding (she was my maid-of-honor), she can't forgive me for missing her shower this afternoon. Hurt because she beat me to it. Mostly hurt because I see this as what it is. An end of a friendship. Another door closed on my old life.

Once the initial shock of the text message (still a little bitter about the delivery) wore off I mostly felt relief. Last night I prayed about not going to the Bridal Shower. I originally told her I couldn't go today. We had our Annual Baptism and BBQ at Kayak Point and I wanted to go there with my family. Also, Korey was coming home after being on vacation for a week with his dad and I knew I would be missing him. After the invitation arrived I thought maybe I should go, and RSVP'd yes. That was my mistake. I should have left it at no, sorry. The anxiety started on Wednesday. I had plans to spend the day with my friend, who I haven't seen in months. I was excited. I turned down other people to go over to her place. Monday night she tried getting a hold of me. When I woke up Tuesday it was to a text message letting me know she had some other commitment. It was a good one, but I was still disappointed. It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that I read her myspace and discovered she wasn't completely honest about why she canceled. The anxiety about the shower began.

After our conversation this afternoon when I called to let her know I couldn't make a ferry and I wouldn't be coming, I began to feel that I wasn't going to be in the wedding. We talked about my schedule for the next month, and about the planning that I offered to help with but was told no. I explained that a 3:00 Friday afternoon rehearsal might not work for me because I have to pick Korey up from school, but I would try to find daycare. I could tell she was hurt that I wasn't coming. I apologized again and told her I loved her. (I didn't mention that my maid-of-honor didn't come to my shower so I know how disappointed she was.) I had previously told her that I wouldn't be coming to her bachelorette party, because I didn't want to be around drunkenness and the behavior associated with it. I know my flesh well enough to know that would be a bad situation to put myself in. Thursday my daily Spirit 105.3 text message was "4 at 1 time u were darkness, but now u r light in the Lord. Walk as children of light! Ephesians 5:8-10" Reminding me that as a Christian those not walking with the Lord will not understand all of my choices.

At the baptism I sought the advice of a good friend who made me feel a peace and comfort I hadn't felt since Wednesday about the situation. On my way home I prayed. I came up with (I, yeah right, the Lord spoke to me) the solution. Tomorrow I will call her. (Tomorrow because I don't feel mature enough today and I know I will try to justify myself) I will explain how I feel. I will ask, Honestly do you want me in your wedding? Are we even still friends? Have we grown apart too much and are we now living in different worlds? I wanted to talk to her. Explain that I love her, but if she wants me out of the wedding I would understand. I would still be her friend. I felt good about that.

Joel read the message first. He has never read my text messages first before (unless he's picking on Kim). He held my hand and said you have a new message you better read. I knew what it was when he said that. I went in the other room and cried. And called my good friend I mentioned before and left her a voice mail. Within 5 minutes I was done with tears and felt a huge weight lifted. I will probably send her an email explaining how I feel and what I was going to say. Again, it will wait until tomorrow.

My God is awesome! He knows how I feel about confrontation. He saved me from a painful, drawn out conversation. I was asked on Thursday to teach in Children's Ministry this weekend. The lesson we taught was on Psalm 23. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff comfort me. We explained to the children that the "valley of the shadow of death" is anything scary that comes before us. He did comfort me in my valley. Of course He did. He is my Shepherd.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Kids Camp

I just returned home from a wonderful week at Kids Camp. (OK, I got home Thursday afternoon, but I am just now caught up on my sleep.) (I obviously took a break from writing this. I started a LONG time ago.) It was so wonderful, I don't even know where to begin. This camp in an annual event that our church puts on. It is designed for 9-13 year olds and we had about 35 kids there this year.

First, the greatest blessing to me was the 6 young girls that the Lord entrusted to my care. I had met each of them before this week, but I really got to know them at camp. The girls I had were all between 11 and 13, so there wasn't a huge age difference, but personality wise, that's a different story. I had two quiet girls, Emily and Jessica. Both a lot like myself at that age; more into books then giggles and gossip. It took some prodding, but I got them both to open up and chat a little bit with me. Arielle, Karina and Jaimey seemed to get along really well. Pretty social and outgoing, but not ready to act "all grown up" like some of the other girls at camp. I also had Briana in my care. She wants to be on her own, trying to act mature, but when she wasn't paying attention, I would catch a little vulnerability in her that she tries so hard to hide. The girls were supposed to be using the buddy system and most of the week they paired up: Arielle and Jaimey, Emily and Karina, Briana went off with the girls from the other cabin (they were all 13 like her and interested in giggling at boys) and Jessica hung out with the adults. She blended so well with us that it was hard to remember at times that she is only 13. I also spent time getting to know the girls in the other cabin: Mandy, Tera, Alex, Brooklyn, Kami, and Mattie. I had the opportunity to help mend a riff between two of those girls who have a rocky friendship. I think at age 12 most, of our friendships are rocky. But they remembered they love each other and why and were able to spend the rest of the week together. Sunday when we arrived at camp I went to all the girls and let them know I had just about anything they may need: sunscreen, bug spray, band-aids, and of course pads and tampons if they should unexpectedly start. Of course if one does, we all do, so the latter came in handy for just about all the girls at camp. One girl actually started for the FIRST time, and that of course meant a call home to mom. I thought anyone would have to be crazy to volunteer to spend that much time with that many pre-adolescent girls. Turns out, I was right. And I can't wait to go again next year.

I took Korey with me to camp, and I had weeks of stressing about it. Korey doesn't do overnights at friends houses. He likes to be tucked in. We pray together at night. All of this camp stuff was overwhelming and scary to us both. My next blessing came in the form of two teenage boys, Christian and Todd. As soon as they found out Korey is only 7, not 10 as they were thinking, they became extra sensitive to his needs and helped make sure he was included. Todd and Christian were great with all the boys, but they have a place in my heart for helping with Korey so much.

I was very blessed to spend the week at Kids Camp. Thank you for trusting your children to me. I can't wait to do everything again next year, yes, even the rope swing!