Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How I Will be Remembered ...

Of all the traits that my youngest daughter has inherited from me, my propensity for procrastination is one that I am most challenged by.  The only thing that is worse than one procrastinator .. is two procrastinators.  I cannot count on my hands the number of times that she has procrastinated about telling me some deadline for school ... which leaves me with less time than I need to follow through and help her complete the pending assignment or task ... because the truth is that I need time to procrastinate as well.  Between the two of us, we end up in facing deadlines frustrated and grumpy.

The most recent example of this phenomenon was in regards to her 5th Grade Explorer Report.  We were actually doing so well ... extraordinarily well, in fact.  Her report was done, EARLY! .. her note cards packed away in her backpack .. BEFORE the due date  ... and her Power Point was less than ten clicks from done!  We were enjoying a delicious meal with my mom (who just finished her readiation ... praise the Lord!) when Jillian reminded me that she really wanted to wear a costume during her presentation.  Now, to her credit, I did know this weeks ago .. but I refer you back to the fact that I am a procrastinator.  Mt first spoken response was, "Sweetie, your presentation is in two days.  Mommy, just worked 10 hours, and I really am not sure that I can get it done.  Nobody else has worn a costume .. it'll be fine."  Her response ... a simple, understanding, sweet one ... "It's o.k., Mommy." Said with such understanding and tenderness, that I knew right away that I was destined to pick up my keys, say my good nights, and go out to find something that I could make into an outfit fit for my little Sacajawea."  Which, is exactly what I did ... with a happy, giving countenance.  I did not begrudge her, huff nor puff ... no, I smiled and told her that I would go out and see just what I could do.  She wrapped her arms around me and said, "You are the BEST Mommy in the whole world."

Driving from store to the other (there were only two needed) ... it hit me that this is one of the times that I will be remembered for in her heart.  Long after I am taken home, my youngest will speak of the time that her mommy smiled and tackled the stores to find the perfect costume for her ... even though I was tired.  In that moment, a simple truth hit home ... we will be remembered by those that we come in contact with here in this life ... we have no choice about that.  What we do have a choice about is the way that we will be remembered.  We need to be intentional in the things we do, the way we give of our time, talents, and treasures,  the way we serve others  ... and we need to choose to do all of it with a cheerful heart.  That is really the only part that we have control over ... but, either way, we will be remembered.

Oh, if you are wondering about the costume ... Ross had the perfect brown tunic in the Teen's dress section, and Walmart had all the needed trimmings to make this costume:


The supplies that I found with NO TROUBLE at all!  


The finished costume .. complete with Sacajawea's
prize possession, a turquoise belt. 
(All for under two hour's time and $22)
A happy heart + 2 hours time + $22 =

1 very Happy little girl ...

and a Mommy who is smiling from ear to ear 

because she is ...

"The best mommy in the whole world!"




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Monday, October 10, 2011

Flood Insurance

I was blessed to spend the weekend in the company of some amazing women in Williams, Arizona.  We spent the weekend learning more about the incredible Lord that we serve and the manners in which we should approach him.  We learned about looking up instead of out ... the sovereignty of our creator ... and His ability to heal in one day, that which we would (in our earthly expectations) think would take ten times as long, or maybe never at all.  I learned a few things that meant a great deal to me, but those are for another post.  Today's story is about an illustration of trust that God gave me on the drive out of the retreat center.

On the way out of the center, I noticed something that had been cloaked in the unending darkness of night when I had arrived on Friday ... a lake.  If you know me even a little, you know that I am compelled to stop at the miraculous beauty of nature and document it through the lens of my always present companion ... my camera ... and this lake was no exception.  I pulled off the winding road to home, and was rewarded with this view.




The lake is actually a reservoir that is formed by a the Santa Fe Dam.  Constructed between 1892 and 1895, this dam was built to provide the Santa Fe Railroad water for its steam engines.  Today it holds back 70,000,000 gallons of water.  Standing at the dam's edge one need only rotate 180 degrees to see the following view.



A view of the outskirts of Williams, nestled in the shadow of this dam.  Home by only 3,094 people, Williams sits in the direct path of the water's fury, should the dam give.  The dam is considered a high risk dam, because the loss of life that would occur should it give ... and yet they stay ... trusting the ingenuity of man to hold back the flood.  This made me think about how easy it is for man to trust his ingenuity ... and yet how difficult it is for some to trust the sovereignty of God.

Why is that?  Well it is a matter oh head vs heart.  With our heads, or intellect, we invent the most amazing things ... but, this very same part of us cannot  accomplish the task of trusting the Lord with everything.  This trust must come from the heart alone ... and must be developed and refined by an ongoing, ever-deeepening relationship with Christ.  We know this in the difficult times ... we are born knowing to run for protection when things are rough and we feel endangered.  But, in the peaceful times we tend to put our trust into our own understandings, strength, and intellect.  The problem about this is that they will eventually fail us .. just as that dam will eventually crumble under the weight of time.  The people who live in the shadow of this possiblilty are currently working on a plan for the day that  comes to pass ... a plan that may or may not work when it is one day put to the test.  I am so thankful that I have a protector that never fails ... that knows each and every trial I will face in life, and how to equip me for each of them.  I know that there will be floods in my life, but my heart knows that I belong to the one who alone can calm the seas.

Are you like the residents of WIlliams?  Living in the shadow of an impending flood and working to figure out a disaster plan?  Find your way to the one that can give you the only insurance that you need to survive any of life storms ... Jesus.  He has paid the cost for your premiums already ... and waits only to start a relationship that will last when all of our creations have crumbled with time.

Lisa


The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. 9 Fear the LORD,you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. Psalm 34: 8-9

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Better than a Hallelujah

I have been praying of late that God would lead me in writing some thing ... asking that He would gift me the words to express His heart on a topic that I will share at another time. I full expected that the request would result in the pouring out of promptings of my heart ... the amazing flood of thoughts that spill rapidly onto the page ... a luxurious melody of words weaving together ageless truths ... with me the mere secretary ... working fervently to capture each sentence exactly. A beautiful image ... one that I have experienced, but this time God has chosen to answer my prayer with object lessons designed to teach me from the inside out.

It began with a song that I heard on the radio, Better than a Hallelujah sung by Amy Grant. The lyrics are as follows:

God loves a lullaby
In a mothers tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.
God loves the drunkards cry,
The soldiers plea not to let him die
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah.

The woman holding on for life,
The dying man giving up the fight
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes
The tears of shame for what's been done,
The silence when the words won't come
Are better than a Hallelujah sometimes.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

Better than a church bell ringing,
Better than a choir singing out, singing out.

We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody
Beautiful the mess we are
The honest cries of breaking hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah

This song began me thinking about what God wants from us ... a relationship ... and the two distinct ways that we as humans seem to approach it which I will call the "Busy Christian" and the "Balanced Christian." Let me describe myself to you and then I will let you know which of these labels I think that I currently fall into.

I have a bookcase filled with Bibles, Bible studies, commentaries, books on apologetics and Christian literature. I listen almost exclusively to Christian music. (Although this is simply because it fills me like no other music can, not because I think Christians should avoid secular music.) I go to church just about every week. I pray every day, and try to find a Bible study to join when I can, and sometimes even do one on my own. (Although I rarely seem to finish every page in any given Bible study.) I also go to a small group once a week. I "do" a lot of things that Christians would agree are great things to do ... things that I should do as a Christian. Things that make me a "busy Christian." I "do" so many things, but do they bring me closer to God? Do they take me deeper? I would like to go out on a limb and say the answer is yes and no.

What God wants from us is a deep, personal relationship ... and these things in isolation could actually be hindering me from having this with Him to the depths that He would like me to go. You see the one thing missing from my list is spending time with Him and spending time in His Word. I am going to be transparent here and tell you that I give of my talent and treasure, but when it comes to time ... I just don't have any left when I am done with all of the day to day doings to read my Bible. Are you beginning to see what I am getting at? I have time for so many things, many of which are things that Christians should do, but I do not have time to sit and get into the Word. Now I am not saying that we as Christians should give up "doing" the things that I listed, I think that they are important ... they are great ways to share faith with like minded people ... a way to grow with each other ... but they are not the one on one relationship that I believe God wants with each and every one of us.  Busyness, be it faith based or world based, is one of the greatest tools that Satan uses to separate us from the one on one, personal  relationship that God wants from each and every one of us ... the relationship that He paid for with the blood of Christ.

So what do I do with all of this head knowledge ... Nothing until my heart changes ... and how does that happen ...  only through getting a little more personal with the Lord ... today.


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Forgiveness

It has been so long since last I posted.  Life took over and left me without much time ... But, today I return with something important to share.  A lesson, a reminder, and a story to tell.  So sit back and let this unfold around you.  Stop for a moment and see if you can identify with either of these two characters ... their plights ... their sufferings ... their choices ... and then, if you are so moved, take some time to make the difficult decisions that these two women had to make ... weighing the consequences carefully ... because as with most choices there are hearts at stake.

And so the story begins ...

Life is full of choices.  Some are big, some are small.  Some difficult, some easy.  Some well thought out, some spontaneous.  Some edifying, some destructive.  On one site I visited the person posting shared that a speaker at a conference they were at said that "the average adult in the USA today makes about 35,000 decisions each day."  Incredible right?  Well, this story is about one choice ... one choice the choice of forgiveness.

Imagine if you will a woman torn over a decision, she has to make.  She mulls it over, weighs the consequences ... she spends time with it ... and makes the choice that she feels would be best.  She knows that there is a danger in the choice, a danger in repercussions, but she makes the choice in good faith that it is the right thing to do.

Here is another fact about choices dear reader ... they all carry with them consequences.  Some bad, some good.  Some harmful, some benign.  Some fantastic, some tragic.  Some expected, and some unexpected. But they all have consequences ... 

And so she made her choice, but little did she know the storm that would ensue.  Anger and wrath poured out upon her from one who was affected by the choice.  One who was looking at the choice through a different set of experiences and feelings ... and the result was tragic.  In a split second in time, a long time friendship was damaged ... and it left both hearts bleeding.

Reader I pause for a moment to speak to a truth ... one choice, always begets another, and the consequences can build from choice to choice.  It is a dangerous field to navigate at time ... and should be taken carefully and with great prayer.


And as with most choices, this unfolding situation, presented to her yet another choice ... the choice of pride or humbleness.  You see, even in the aftermath ... even when weighing the cost ... she knew that her choice was right ... but she was also painfully aware that it had angered and hurt another person.  It was not the intent of her choice, but it was a direct result of her choice.  And so she began to grapple with a truth spoken into her heart ... that as a follower of Christ she should approach her friend and ask for forgiveness.  Oh, how I wish I could convey correctly the battle that raged within her. To feel so wronged, and yet be asked to ask forgiveness for hurting someone else.  To swallow her pride, put being right second, and the feelings of the other person first.   But she really had no choice.  The Lord made that clear ... in her heart ... in the sermon at church that Sunday ... He was relentless in His request ... and in the end she submitted to His desires.

I would love to tell you that asking for forgiveness make everything better ... it seemed to her like it should have .. after all forgiveness is supposed to go both ways ... it is supposed to soften hearts ... to mend ... but in this case it did not.  For her plea came back unanswered.  She was left wounded again, only this time by the choice of another to choose anger over forgiveness.  Oh, how she prayed for the Lord to reconcile her to her friend.  Oh how she waited upon him ... and still is.  But, to no avail it seemed as if there was to be no relief from the oppression of anger ... and to this date there has not been.  But ... she waits in the peace that she was faithful to forgive and ask to be forgiven ... she was obedient to the tuggings of her heart that called to her follow an example set long ago ... and put another first and extend grace and forgiveness.

And that is the end of the story ... an ending that is simply unfinished.


As with most good stories, there is a moral.  A nugget or two of truth that call out to be shared.  So, what are the morals for this story you ask ... well there are a few.

1.  Anger with out forgiveness will run like a forest fire seeking to engulf and destroy ... it is easily fed ... and tends to grow over time.  It feels righteous at the time ... but is equally, if not more, dangerous to the person that is harboring it as it is to the person at whom it is aimed.

2.  Being right does not mean that you can't be held responsible for the effects your choices have on others.  To quote another ... Apologizing does not always mean that you are wrong and the other person is right. It just means that you value your relationship more than your ego. - Unknown

3.  On this side of Heaven ... there will be those that do not make the choice of forgiveness when it is presented to them.  You might even be one of them, as I know that I have been at times.  BUT ... it does hurt.  It hurts both the person being denied, and the person that is doing the denying.

4.  Followers of Christ are called to forgive:


Matthew 6:15-17

15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.



Matthew 18:35


   35 “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother or sister from your heart.”


Matthew 18:21-22

 21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.

Matthew 5:24
24 First go and be reconciled to your brother," he recommends, "then come and offer your gift.

5.  Called or not ... forgiveness is a choice ... a choice that has consequences just like any other choice.


So how does this apply to me you ask?  Well, that is simple.  Search your heart.  Are there people that you need to ask for forgiveness ... but the pride of thinking you are right (and you may well be) has gotten in the way?  If so, pray about what the Lord would have you do, but don't put it off.  Time is not your friend in this.  OR are there people that you need to forgive ... that you need to release from the wrath of your anger, disappointment, and hurt?  If the answer is yes, then know that it will hurt you in the long run ... holding grudges ... punishing others ... only breeds more negative feelings that will bury themselves in your heart and fester.  AND ... if you are a follower of Christ then people are watching to see if your actions match your words when you are faced with the decision of asking for or giving forgiveness.  Asking for forgiveness can be hard ... but we are told to do so.  Giving forgiveness without a preceding emotional punishment can be hard ... but we are told to do so.  If we choose not to either of these there are consequences ... and inevitably more choices.

Lisa


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Life is ... good.

So tonight I am sitting in my mom's living room listening to her breath as she sleeps on her couch. I listen to the patterns of her breathing like sweet music, and as a mother I know that there was a time that it was she sitting listening to my rhythmic pattern of life ... smiling and thinking, "Life is good." How time flies by and tables turn ... sometimes without one realizing that it has even happened, for tonight it is I that watches her with a heart full of love and thinks, "Life is good."

Most of you know that I am a survivor of breast cancer. Some of you even walked the road with me, and watched God's goodness and faithfulness anoint me for a journey that He would use to change lives and bring Him glory. That was 8 years ago this month. How time gently slips away as life is lived ... hardly noticed or acknowledged until a moment comes when once again you are reminded of the fleeting gift of life, a moment of vulnerability, of clarity, of truth.

Such a moment came to pass late last week when my mom called me to tell me that a suspicious lump had been found in her breast during her mammogram. While not definitive, I could not help but wonder at the irony. You see I have spent years wondering if I would ever have the colon cancer that almost took her life over 25 years ago, but I never ... in all my years ... ever wondered if she would get breast cancer like me.

How familiar it all felt. The waiting, the additional tests, the speeding up of time as one takes the steps of finding out they have cancer. Familiar, but different. For this time, I find myself on the other side of this disease. The side of caregiver, supporter, loved-one ... and I found it rather challenging and uncomfortable. Having already walked this walk, I already knew that the people who walked the path with me shared in the journey, the pain, the uncertainty. What I never realized is just how helpless those that share in love this walk of cancer feel. I am grateful for this lesson, and appreciate those that walked with me and all they went through, because to be honest I think it was perhaps harder on them than it was one me. How many of you offered up strength and encouragement, but cried when I wasn't looking as I have this week? I count your tears precious, and I understand now the sacrifice that you offered up as you supported me.

Today, my mom had a lumpectomy ... with the same surgeon, in the same hospital, during the same month and I sat in the waiting room to experience the surgeon's footsteps. I could not help but notice all the ironic twists of similarity right down to the type of cancer they think it is and the location of the tumor. But, there was a similarity even more important than all of those combined and that was the anointing of my mother for this journey. You see, 25 years ago she faced cancer without a personal relationship with Christ. I remember it. It seemed dark and scary and deadly.

It birthed in me a fear of cancer that would stalk me throughout my life until I myself faced it .. and viewed it through the eyes of my Savior who came along side me and carried me through the fiery furnace just as He did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. How I remember the amazing peace that filled me and fueled me ... tangible, undeniable, unmistakeable. That is why I could not help but notice that very same anointing upon my mom ... tangible, undeniable, unmistakeable ... and I know without a doubt that He will carry her through this with the gentleness and faithfulness that only He can have ... filling her with peace and joy ... no matter what the road ahead has in store. And I, will walk with her .. in the shadow of His presence, seeking His face ... remembering with every step the lessons I learned from my cancer walk so many years ago.

The surgeon thinks that they caught it early, that she was able to get clear margins. That is good news. And we wait, in peace, for the pathology report on the sentenial node to reveal if the cancer was contained, knowing no matter what God is with us and Life is good.