Posts Tagged ‘Salvation’

Mom’s Tank Top

My mom has cancer.
Pancreatic.
It’s a ferocious intruder.

Our days, 50 since her confirmed diagnosis, have been mechanical.
We’ve tended to things.
Like setting up her bedroom.
Our home.
Getting a wheelchair. And walker.  And shower chair.
We’ve taken care of paper work.
Opened our home to visitors and guests.
Family and friends.
Hospice.
Picked up too many prescriptions.
And bags of ice from Sonic.
And worn out her craving for orange slushies.
We’ve dotted I’s and crossed T’s.
Days have come, and days have gone.
Numbered.
But task-filled.

Then there was today.

       Today was hard.

Momma, still very mechanical and checking off boxes,
Showed me the pajamas she wants to be buried in.
They are beautiful.
Colorful.
Flowery.
Momma asked me to buy a tank top to go with the pajama shirt.
That I can put on her, underneath the pajama shirt.
When it is time.
For her to be buried.

So I went to Belk.
With mom’s burial pajamas in tow.
I found two tank tops right away that matched nicely.
One green, the other, blue.
Then I spent the next hour and a half, just walking around the store.
Counting down the minutes.
Until it closed.
Letting my thoughts wander, and wonder, and prepare
For checking off this final box.
A final task.

This whole thing seems surreal.
I mean, my momma’s sick.
She’s not getting better.
And even though I know this, it still feels like
When I wake up one morning,
She’s going to be healed.
In the flesh.
And having a great day.
I know this is not likely to happen.
But I still feel like none of this is really happening.
Just 3 months ago, momma was dancing at her grandson’s wedding.
Just a week ago, she was shelling a bushel of butterbeans.
And today?
Well.
Today, I bought her a tank top.
I finished her ensemble.
And a final task box is now checked off.

       I cried the whole way home from the store.
       Crying out loud for one more good day.
       One more Sonic run, with momma riding shotgun.
       One more afternoon of her sitting at the kitchen table
       Watching me unload the grocery bags
       Like a parent watching their child open Christmas packages.
       Why can’t she have one more good day?
       So at 1:15pm, I can call from work and interrupt Days of our Lives.
       Or she can sit with me outside
       And marvel at the birds, flowers, heat.
       Just one more day!
       One more day of no pain.
       And no worry.
       And no cares.

She told me which shoes to pair with her burial pajamas.
She calls them her wedding shoes
Since she wore them to her oldest grandson’s wedding this spring.
And I thought
it very appropriate
For His bride to be wearing wedding shoes
As she enters the Kingdom
of her Groom.

A tanktop.
A surrender
To what is to come.

She chose the green one.
And just like that, the box was marked with a  check.

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I Was In Darkness…And Then I Saw You

Several years ago, I went through a divorce.  The circumstances surrounding my life then left me feeling betrayed, broken and unworthy.  I was hurting.  I was angry.  And I was afraid.  The whole ordeal introduced me to poisonous feelings I had never had before, including some very unhealthy disdain for my ex-husband and his new wife.  Disdain is a nice word.  I used that instead of hatred.  But that’s what I was feeling – raw, destructive hate.  Hate for people I credited for my wounds at the time.  For my broken family.  For my children who were now part of a single-parent household.  For the gossip and rumors.  For the fishbowl I was sure I now lived in.

Years passed.  Those negative feelings, though, really didn’t.  Instead of addressing them, I buried them under busyness and new relationships.  I avoided the two people whom I felt caused me pain at all costs.  Wanted nothing to do with them.  Neither one.

Then one day, almost ten years after my divorce, I became aware of the Holy Spirit nudging me.  I strongly felt that God wanted me to reach out to my ex-husband’s wife, the one for whom I still carried most of the ill-feelings.   The one for whom I had shifted all of the blame to after all of these years.  Absurd as it seemed to me, I ignored this feeling for as long as I could.  I can remember saying outloud in my car once, “You want me to do what?!”  Softly, and continually, an urgency seemed to grow.

I had joined a church close by, one that I spent a lot of time at when I was a child, and had been getting in on bible studies and attending services pretty regularly.  For the first time in my life, I had begun to read the Bible consisitenly, too, actually digging in to understand The Word.  Christ’s ministry on earth had come alive for me and though I had been baptized when I was 24 years old, about 6 years before my divorce, pieces I didn’t know were missing started to click into place as I grew in my understanding of what it means to be a daughter of Christ.  No doubt that this is the reason it had taken me 10 years to finally acknowledge the negative, damaging feelings I had been harboring.  I was being convicted.  I had been committing the same sin for all of these years, day in and day out, and the Holy Spirit was guiding me to do what was right.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?  But it wasn’t.

I kept ignoring Him.  I kept arguing with Him.  Debating with Him.  I didn’t want to give in.  I didn’t want to face the very person whom I had hated for all of these years.  I thought I knew what was best.

So God gave me a vision.

It came to me in a dream, but unlike any I’ve had before or since.  I chose to believe it was a vision, because I was stubborn enough and so obstinate — well, it’s like the “big guns” had to be brought out so I could understand what was being asked of me, and why.

This is how it was presented to me:

It’s dark.
Pitch, so.
I can only see the outlines of figures.
It’s so dark and scarey.
I have a feeling the others all around me are not friendly.
They are talking aggressively, in a language I can’t understand.
We are alone.  
In a solitary place.
It’s small, reminding me of a deserted island;
except, there are so many others.
I cannot see trees, or sky.
I only see these agitated figures flailing around.
It’s growing louder.  Their voices.
I still can’t understand them.
Everything is colorless.  Dark.
But I am not dark.
I sense that I don’t yet belong to this darkness, but I am here anyway.

Why am I here?
Who are these people?
I become anxious.
Frustrated, because I can’t understand what’s around me.
The sound is so loud.
Almost like growling.
I feel an urgency to flee, but there’s no where to go.
Then in the rush of fear, I see two people through the crowd of bodies.
They are not dark figures either.
It is them!  
Hallelujah!
I know them!  I know them!
My heart leaps with joy!
I’m so excited over recognizing them.

And then I woke up.

The two people were my ex-husand and his wife.

I understood.  I finally understood.  No matter how much hate I felt for them, it wasn’t enough to keep me from being excited over seeing them in a place like hell.  Not because that’s where I wanted to see them, but because in the midst of all that despair, I was happy to recognize someone I knew.  That put it in loud perspective for me.

The next day, the Holy Spirit dialed my ex-husband’s wife, and before I could change my mind, I asked her out for coffee.

Forgiveness.

It is absolutely required of us, to be forgiven by the Savior.  I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit.  I’m so thankful for a patient, loving Father.  He wants only what is best for us.  And He doesn’t want anyone to perish without knowing Him and having the chance to accept Him as Lord and Saviour.  I was headed down a very dark, dark path for ten years.  TEN YEARS.  Praise His holy name that I had an opportunity to forgive, and to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus paid a mighty big price for me.

Thank you, God.

He paid the same mighty price for you, too.

He’s waiting.  Patiently.  Is there a nudging you need to yeild to?  You won’t regret it!  The day I was obedient to what was being asked of me is one of the best of my life.  I followed through, and He was glorified because of it.  But the blessing was all mine.  Christ showered me with a joy I had never known before, but one I have known since.  I hope you’ll be obedient to what He is asking of you, too.

 

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (Galatians 5:17 NLT)

 

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

 

For if you forgive people their wrongdoing,  your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. (Matthew 16:14-15)

Gettin’ Ready

Why is it that I need to…

  • Fix my hair before I go to the salon for a cut and style?
  • Mop and vacuum the floors before the cleaning service comes to my house?
  • Get “healthier” before I can go to the doctor for a check up?

Doesn’t make sense, does it?
        The stylist is going to fix my hair for me.
        The cleaning service is going to clean my house, including my floors.
        The doctor is going to help me with getting healthier.

I was just thinking about this on the way to work today.

What do I need to do to “get ready” for Jesus?  Anything?  Or am I ready now?

How about you?

All Creatures, Great and Small

4:19 a.m. this morning.
My heart was awake before the rest of me, slowly stirring me to rise.
Rhythmically the urgency to wake grew stronger, with every beat becoming more distinct in it’s plea.

There is a fine man I know of whose life hangs in the moment.  A moment that has been stretched for more than 7 days now. A moment that has felt a continual rush of prayer.  A moment that has seemed out of focus.  A moment that has created questions and raised emotions.  A moment that has felt stagnant and permanent; whilst at the same time, ravaging and final.  A moment of uncetainty.  A moment unwanted.  A moment.

Dr. Anderson has spent his life dedicated to the health and well-being of our animals.  Our livestock.  Our investments.  Our domesticated pets.  He has also cared for animals without a voice, and without a home.  He’s cared for those abandoned, mistreated & abused, brutally trained and illegally used.  His hands – his gifted, precious hands – have stitched, administered and provided preventative care to our furry and feathered friends for decades.  In private practice, in public shelters and homes.  On roadways.  In backyards and on farms.  Before families.  Before courtrooms.  His efforts have always stayed true to His calling – the care of God’s creatures, great and small.  I’m not just talking about animals.  Dr. Anderson’s spent a lifetime caring for families with animals, as well.  His speech has always been soft and unassuming – a characteristic he has shared with every client, passerby, person in need.

A week ago, Dr. Anderson was attacked by several dogs.  He wasn’t “on the job”, as he retired a few years ago, but it is without a shadow of doubt that I know these dogs were not threatened or provoked by Dr. Anderson.  This attack was nothing short of the result of our world – our fractured, broken world – and it has left him fighting the battle of his life in a hospital.  The road ahead is long and uncertain.  Dr. Anderson has been kept in a medical coma during this past week, to enable his body to fight it’s hardest and allow for maximum healing.  I can only imagine how difficult this must be for his family.  For his wife.  For his children and grandchildren.

This morning, God reminded me that in the moments that seem to linger, and when our uncertainty is overwhelming, He is never, ever apart from us.  This moment while we see a man’s body fighting and trying to heal, I have no doubt Dr. Anderson rests in the company of our Savior.  While doctors and medical personnel care for the flesh, Our God in Heaven is holding Dr. Anderson, preparing him for this part of his testimony.  His story.  I know this, because Dr. Anderson is a child of God.  He accepted Jesus’s calling and has shown the world the Light of the Son.  Dr. Anderson’s story has already been scripted, from beginning to end.  This is the promise of our Father God.  Right now, in this moment – this lingering, numbing moment – we can’t see the rest of the story God has planned, BUT KNOW THIS, God works all things for good for those who believe in Him.  All things.  Every. Single. One.  And as messed up and difficult this moment is today, we can take refuge and comfort in knowing that Dr. Anderson’s witness – his life, his legacy, his passions – will forever be for God’s Glory.

Please pray for Dr. Anderson and his family.  Pray for our community.  Pray for the lives that have been touched by Dr. Andrson, and those that will be.  His story is far from over.  How about yours?

To know Jesus Christ and to have a close and personal relationship with Him, is to recognize that you are a story He is author of.  Have you submitted your life to Christ?  I beg you, please, do not let a moment in time for you be one without hope.  Our life here is very fragile, and everything  you find comfort in of this world is only temporary.  Dr. Anderson didn’t know in advance that he’d be in this moment, this battle.  And no one would ever have imagined the gentle hands that have cared for so many animals over the years would one day be turned upon by the very one’s who benefited from the love they gave.  Don’t wait.  Don’t procrastinate.  Seek His face and He will scoop you up and show you how special the story is He has written just for you.

Articles about Dr. Anderson:
http://www.scnow.com/news/politics/article_70b2beae-794d-11e3-808f-001a4bcf6878.html?mode=jqm

Leaving This Place

Leaving This Place

The soft spot on the roof of my mouth, toward the back, is burning. My ears burn, too. Sneezes and dizzy spells abound. I’m a fury of hot…no cold…wait a minute…no…hot flashes and red-nosed-ness and crumpled Kleenex. Frustrated in this delay. Who has time for this? Taking on guilt completely unwarranted for being out of the office today. I am my own worst boss. Committed to meeting the appointments of drop off and pick up for the kids, pets. Praying for God to protect my little orange car from missteps, as it’s driver is really feeling yucky.

Mashed potatoes.

I don’t even really want them, but the thought of the smooth, warm creaminess against my sore throat was enough to drive me across town for a family sized container.

This stoplight ALWAYS takes so long. Why does it take so long to give me a green arrow? I’m waiting to turn left beside Virginia College. Then I see it. THERE IT IS!

It is the most luxurious sunset I’ve noticed in a long while. It takes my breath away. Or was that the mentholatum cough drop?

Immediately, in all my achiness and frustration, I think of my Jesus and that day that He has promised to return.

I wonder what the sky will look like.

I often think about the verse in Matthew that says: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And it goes on to say a few verses down, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. ”

Lord, I will be taken, right?

I will, won’t I?

Then I wonder what it would feel like to be plucked from all I know by the hand of God and be “gone from this place”.

Will it hurt?

Will I even know it’s happened?

Will it just be like this strange sensation, but not really cold or hot or painful?

Oh, my God, please don’t leave me!

As I look at the beautiful, fading sunset, I catch myself saying outloud, “Jesus come quickly.”

The discomfort of a head cold or flu or whatever bug I have is nothing compared to the strife and pain this world has going on.

And just like that, a voice that has no sound, yet I know it the moment my heart hears it, reminds me, “I have held you before.”

I begin to weep.

Tears. Streaming down. No sobs. Just hot, salty tears birthed from a head that is under pressure. My eyeballs are burning hot. The tears are almost soothing.

I have left this place before.

I have.

It was April 3, 1993. I was 24 years old. Barely so. I was young, and desperately wanting to have control over messy decisions I had made.

Just the day before, I had cried out to God in a moment that was as raw and real as sitting here now. I can feel that same breeze brush across my check, entering through a rolled down window in the driver’s side door of my little blue Accord.

“God, I can’t fix this. There’s nothing I can do to get out of this situation. I’ve tried everything. I need you to help me.”

And just as quickly, the ignition was quieted and I grabbed the car seat with my 8 month old son it it and headed inside.

I didn’t think about my request again. It was a plea, really. But the busyness of being a new momma, an about to graduate (okay, hoping to graduate) college student and an estranged young wife (or is it wife of an estranged husband?) kept me in motion, without another thought – not a single one – of God.

The next afternoon, I stopped. Just stopped. Later I would learn I was involved in a head on collision, but that was later. For several days, I just wasn’t.

It’s been more than 20 years since that fateful accident. It’s something that changed my life forever. Surgeries and lingering pains aside, it’s something I am thankful for, every day.

As my memory started waking, I began piecing together information about the accident (mostly overheard from the conversations around my hospital bed), though I had no personal recollection of the wreck. I have a memory of a vague image of a man with curly dark hair in a red shirt, or at least I think it was red, leaning down, his face in mine. It may have been dark and red colored because of my own blood that flowed from lacerations to my face, and injuries to my left eye. I felt as though his face was close to mine, but I couldn’t make out any features. And I coudln’t hear him. I was telling him quietly, “help me”, as I held my arms crossed in front of me, but I didn’t hear my own voice, and wasn’t really sure why I needed help.

I don’t remember my baby boy crying. I was told he was screaming loudly. Lacerations to his own face and a broken right ankle. I thank God for the stranger who scooped him up and gave him comfort, when I wasn’t even aware there was such a need, nor such a child.

I don’t remember sirens, or any other medical professionals, although I was told there were dozens of vehicles and rescue workers. Mine was not the only car. I don’t recall the “Jaws of Life” as it cut open my mangled hatchback.  And I don’t remember the pain of the jagged metal cutting into my thighs as I was pulled from the pryed open doorframe.

I didn’t hear any loud noises – no car crash.

What I do recall, and this came to me some time  after the accident, was the quiet hum of an ambulance. A couple of years after the accident, I was parked outside of the K-Mart with my window rolled down, and I heard that unmistakable, steady rumble of the idling ambulance engine.  I closed my eyes and I remembered.

I felt a warm heat surrounding me. May have been from the exhaust. Or maybe the sun-baked asphalt.

I could hear swishing, which I believed was the tall highway grass in which I was laying.

I saw a bright light, which I’ve always chalked up to the setting sun, since it was around the time of sunset.

And I saw a flowing, light green, almost sherbert colored green, garment above me, topped with flowing strands of gold that seemed to merge right into the garment. I saw no face.

And I felt peace.

The weeks that followed my “coming to” were filled with a peace that many didn’t understand. I didn’t recognize it as strange. I had great love for the woman in the other car – the car that I later learned was driving down the wrong side of a 4-lane highway before I entered it’s path. As soon as I could, I went down to her hospital room, in my wheelchair. I wanted to meet her. To meet her family. I wanted them to meet my baby son. More than anything, I wanted them to know “it was okay”. I wanted to give them comfort. I didn’t think about it really at all. I was acting on impulses that were not of my own, yet, I coudln’t exactly put in to words why I had them. I just wanted them to know I cared. I felt strangely connected to this family, to this young woman who was driving the strayed car. In a strange, otherworldly way, I felt our paths were crossed with reason.

Gosh, the sky before me is bright, brilliant white, as the sun dips lower and lower. It’s almost a non-color. Goldenish. So illuminated, if that’s possible. Illuminated illumination.

I have forgotten how long this light takes to turn green.
Instead, I had all the time in the world for God to remind me of what it feels like to be held in the palm of His hand.

The hum.

  • The rythym of His creation.

The swishing.

  • His cooing me into calm.

The heat.

  • The warmth of His presence.

The light.

  • His Glory.

The green and gold.
The flowing.

  • The watch of His angels.

And just like that. The green arrow appeared. I pressed the accelerator and continued crying out my praises to My Saviour all the way home.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “

I Have Made Some Crappy Choices

It’s morning.

Driving to work.

Should I listen to the radio, Lord, or shall we talk on the way to work today?

I hit the radio button.

“It’s a good morning!”

It’s also a beautiful day.

Figures.

Clear skies and sunshiney rays of hello lend to poor reception.

Too many different sound waves happily traverse the space around my car.

Sorry, Mandesa, I have to turn you off this morning.

So, I guess it’s a talky-kind-of-morning.

I’m no different from the next guy.

Really, I’m not.

I sin.

I have a hard time learning a lesson.

Gosh, I’ve made a bad choice and decided against making the same bad choice, only to do it again.

And again.

And again.

Lord,  I’m so glad You love me and You forgive my shortcomings.

I’m so glad you’re patient.

I have made some really crappy choices.

Yes, but you’ve made some really good choices, too.

Thank, you, Lord, for pointing that out.

I have made some really good choices.

I HAVE made some really good choices.

I get it.

Thank you!

Do You Know Me?

This is one of the most chilling, poignant passages in the Bible to me:

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

Matthew 7: 21-23

I want The Father to know me, don’t you?  I want Him to know me by my name, not as an evildoer!  His word tells us that though there are many who think they are doing the will of God, they are not and they will not be known to Him by any other descriptor.

The Lord sees above all else the condition of the heart, and I believe this is where our name tags are worn.

What does your name tag say?

Father, I desire to live your will for my life, unashamedly and boldly.  I want you to know who I am, Lord.  Please help me live a life that is in accordance to your desires.  I love you, Father.  All that I am is yours.  Please empty me of self so that I may be filled with a heart easily recognized as Yours.  Amen.