Monday, April 30, 2012

God has faith in you

It has long been argued that the existence of evil in this world is evidence that God does not exist because if God existed then evil would not because, after all, God (by definition) is all powerful and all knowing. If He is all knowing, then He would know that bad was about to happen and stop it. If He does not, then it means He's incapable and therefore not all powerful. But what if that's not it? What if bad things happen because God chooses to let them? Does that make Him evil or bad? Before you answer, consider this....

Picture, if you will, that God is a doting different than any other loving, concerned parent. Our thoughts are the diary laying closed on the nightstand. He could know everything in the depths of our hearts, all He has to do is open the book and read. But if He did, our trust in Him would forever be destroyed. And if He acted on the knowledge contained within, forced us to bend our wills until they were His then what point would it serve? We would be no better than puppets or slaves. No, God sees the journal laying there on the table, lays a loving hand on top of it, bows His head and quietly says, "I have faith in you to do the right thing".

God has the ability to be all knowing, He just chooses not to be so that we have a choice. God wants us to love Him because we want to, not because He told us to. That choice comes with a price. And God sacrifices much, because not only is He choosing to give up His all-knowing ability, but He's also taking the blame for a lot of things that could have been prevented if He was all knowing. So, the next time somebody wrongs you or hurts you, don't blame God. Thank God for the life lesson. Thank God it wasn't worse. Thank God for the good times and for the support during the bad. But don't blame Him for being a loving parent. Blame the person who wronged you for breaking God's faith in them and know that God will make it up to you. And when times are difficult or you're tempted to do somebody wrong, remember that God has faith in you to be strong and do the right thing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Never Alone

Got this from a friend of mine on Facebook. It's an important reminder that no matter how alone we feel or think we may be that God is always only a prayer away. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Angels and demons and drama - OH MY!!

It wasn't long ago that I posted a blog titled "Being a lighthouse for God" in which I described how being a beacon for others to find God also makes it easy for God's enemies to find me. At the close of the blog I made a statement that there was nothing Satan could do that would make me extinguish the flame that God has lit inside of me. Satan, it appears, was listening and is trying his best to prove me wrong. It started with an incident that chilled me to the bone.....

I have physical therapy once a week to try to fix a misaligned jaw bone. I was trying desperately to get to my physical therapy appointment a couple of weeks ago, but it seemed like everything that could go wrong did. While I was trying to get ready to leave the house, my toddler wrapped around my legs and begged me not to go. This was odd because he is very independent and had never done this before. I couldn't find my car keys. Then I couldn't find my cell phone. What normally takes me 15 minutes to accomplish and get out of the house took me an hour. I left the house at the time I should have been getting to my therapist's office. At the stop sign at the end of my street (which almost NEVER has any traffic) a truck was stalled in the middle of the road, in a position so that I couldn't get around him to either side. I waited...and waited...and waited...and finally the truck was pushed out of the road by the owner and his friend. I quickly proceeded through my subdivision and out to the main road....only to find a semi-truck and trailer blocking both lanes of traffic while it tried to back into a store's parking lot. Again, I waited....and waited....and waited....and waited. I looked at the clock. My appointment was for half an hour ago. I called my husband and told him about the challenges I'd encountered and told him that I was feeling very strongly as though I wasn't supposed to go to the appointment. He agreed with me and said it seemed as though Somebody was telling me to stay home. I called my therapist and re-scheduled and then turned around to go back home. As I turned onto the empty street that had earlier been blocked by a stalled truck, my house was in sight ahead of me and around the bend. The wind blew, swirling the leaves across the street, and to my utter astonishment I saw the shadow of a stooped person among the leaves. It was was coming from the direction of my yard, moving quickly across the road, and vanished as soon as the leaves that helped conceal it touched the grass of the lawn across from mine. I stopped my car in the middle of the road. What had I just seen? I played the scene over and over again in my mind, and each time I saw the mental image of that stooped shadowy figure a chill ran down my spine. While I have never personally seen a demon, the chill in my spine and the knot in my stomach made me think I may have just seen my first. I suddenly felt as though I was going to vomit. I closed my eyes and asked God to protect me and my family, to safeguard our home, hearts and minds. I got home with no further incidence and within a couple of days had put the strange encounter out of my mind.

And that's when it began to happen. Hell gradually broke out around me. People I loved and depended on were suddenly acting mean and angry towards me. Drama ensued almost daily in the forms of nasty emails and angry text messages. It was discovered that one relative was involved with drugs. A different relative was arrested for the crimes of his friend. And when it wasn't angry drama, it was sad drama. An elderly relative died, and a freak workshop accident removed two of yet another relative's fingers - one of which was able to be re-attached and the other I was <insert sarcastic tone here> fortunate enough to find while cleaning the workshop. And the once deep-slumber was now constantly interrupted by nightmares so that I rarely get a decent night's sleep. All of this within the time span of a couple of weeks.

Sleep-deprived and depressed, the bitterness welled up inside of me. I was angry. The world I lived in and that those I love lived in was a horrible, horrible place that I did not ever see changing.

While cooking dinner one night I decided to turn on my kitchen radio. All of my radios are always tuned to the KLOVE Christian radio station and as I reached for the power button I said a quick prayer asking God to speak to me and guide me. The song that was playing when I turned the radio on was "Shine" by Newsboys. I listened to the song's upbeat lyrics about letting your light shine and being an inspiration to others. I remembered my blog about being a lighthouse for God and suddenly I felt as though the song was mocking me. I asked God out loud, "I'm trying. I'm doing the best I can. Why has the world all of a sudden turned against me? What happened?" The song ended and a new song began. "Cry out to Jesus" by Third Day. The words seemed louder than the music, as if they were being shouted inside my head.

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless

Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus
 I put my head down on my kitchen counter, feeling the anger and bitterness inside of me crumbling, leaving behind an ache for someone to just hold me and tell me everything was going to be okay.  So I prayed...."Lord, I'm sorry.....I'm not strong enough. Please help me. I need your support and your guidance to get me through this. I can't do this without you. I don't know what's happening, but I fear this battle is more than just the struggles of this world." In my mind I pictured the shadowy figure in the street, and felt certain that it was indeed a demon that I'd seen leaving my yard. Satan had sent his demons into my life to break me for my boastful promise of never extinguishing the light that God gave me so that I could guide others to Him. I bowed my head in prayer again. "Lord, there are demons at work in my life. Please help me, Lord. Send your angels to protect those I love. Guard their hearts and their minds from Satan's twisted ways, Lord,  and bring peace. Continue to give me strength, mercy, grace, and guidance so that I may battle these demons in your holy name, Lord. Please. I need you. I'm crying out to you."

As I raised my head from prayer I still had my eyes closed, and I sensed movement in the room with me. It felt as though there was a scuffle of many people around me...not a pleasant "hustle and bustle" type of scuffle that comes with people moving quickly, but the type of scuffle of people being shoved aside and wrestled out of a room. I felt a breeze as though someone moved by me quickly. For a moment I was terrified to open my eyes. "God be with me" I mumbled as I slowly opened my eyes....only to find that I was alone in my kitchen. Something had changed, though. I no longer felt alone. The burdens of my heart now felt shared, as though there were many dividing the weight of the them. Hope. For the first time in weeks I felt hope.

Strange things began to happen in my world. The gray areas of drama that had been causing me so much pain and heartache suddenly became black and white. I was able to clearly see who or what the problem was and I was able to brace my heart against the drama so that it didn't eat at me from the inside out. Life was still filled with drama, but it seemed as though all the drama was filtered before it got to me and it no longer weighed on my heart as it once did. That wasn't the only thing, though...

As my husband was on his way to bed one night he had just left the room I was in and glanced over his shoulder at me as he was walking down the hallway. He stopped suddenly and turned to look. He came back into the room where I was, looking quite alarmed, and said that he had seen the shadow of a man near where I was. I stared at him. He quickly said that he was probably just overly tired and he went on to bed. Others have seen and felt them, though - shadows under the doors, a quick sight of someone standing over your shoulder, a breeze as though someone is walking past. We are no longer alone. We are being guarded and protected. Even the nightmares have changed. Where before they would wake me in terror, usually in a cold sweat and afraid to go back to sleep, now I wake before the dream gets bad. I'm still not getting the full night's sleep that I would really like to get back to, but most of the time now I'm able to roll over and eventually get back to sleep. My life may not be back to normal yet, but I have peace in the knowledge that I'm not fighting my demons alone.

If you had asked me a month ago if I believed in demons, I would have said yes, but they are found in places where evil has taken place, haunting sites of death and destruction. A month ago if I had read the post that I just wrote I would have assumed the author was crazy. Now, I will tell you quickly that demons can be anywhere. They are the stooped-over shadows that swirl past in the leaves, the boogeymen that lurk in our nightmares, and the hatred and bitterness that hardens our hearts. But there are angels, too. Upright shadows that stand guard around you, that scuffle demons away from you, and that comfort you when the demons leave you weary and tired. All one has to do is cry out to God, and the help will be there. The demons, the angels, ourselves....we are all soldiers in an invisible battle taking place inside of us, in the world around us, and in the hearts and minds of others everywhere. Being a soldier for God means you have to trust Him enough to cry out to Him when the battle becomes too much for you.

If you're fighting your own demons, hang in there. Cry out to the Lord and know that help is coming. Reinforcements are coming so that you can continue to fight, to be a lighthouse in the storm. Love, hope, comfort, and peace...these are the supplies that His angels bring with them to refuel the lighthouse when it flickers and dims. Keep shining....fuel is on the way.

Isaiah 41:10  fear not, for I am with you;  be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you,  I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

1 Peter 4:11  whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

Ephesians 6:12-18
 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;

15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;

16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;

Monday, February 13, 2012

Saying "I'm sorry" shouldn't be a sin....

I went to the store this evening with the intention of getting my beloved a card. I had done something careless which had caused an unintentional slight and wanted him to know that I was sorry. As I went down one aisle and then another, I became incredulous at what I saw. There was line after line after line of birthday cards, anniversary cards, get well cards, 'thinking about you' cards, but nowhere...NOWHERE...could I find a card that simply said "I'm sorry".  I went back through the aisles again. Could this be possible? Could I truly be the only person in America that screws up?

So then why weren't there any apology cards to be found? There were cards for "troubled relationships"...that didn't really apply. These cards were aimed at salvaging broken relationships and I hadn't screwed up that badly, though not for a lack of trying (inadvertently, of course). There were cards there for "difficult times", but all of those were about loss of a job. Where were the apology cards?

As I left the store, the situation with the card really started to bother me. I felt that there was something deeper to this nagging feeling than knowing I had to find some other way to apologize to my sweetheart. Why wouldn't there be any cards for this? People screw up all the time...we're human, that's what we do - we screw up, and then we learn from our mistakes and move on as a better and wiser individual. The questions led me down a path to a place of logic that I didn't like, but couldn't deny. There were no apology cards because people don't say "I'm sorry" anymore. And it goes deeper than that...people don't WANT to say "I'm sorry".

But why? My mind worked backwards to try to trace this anti-apology mindset to its origin. Why wouldn't people want to say I'm sorry? Well, in today's world of "one-up"manship, people who make mistakes are thought to be undesirable, faulty, and overall bad people. They're "screw-ups". Society today looks for perfection. It's a sin to be flawed and make a mistake. Therefore, what do we do when we make a mistake?  "The computer crashed because it didn't have a hip enough processor." No, you forgot to update your antivirus definitions and downloaded something you weren't supposed, thereby exposing your hard drive to a virus which NUKED it. You screwed up. "The engine over heated because it's a cheap foreign piece of junk! They don't make them like they used to." Forgot to check the oil again, didn't you? You screwed up. "I sent that report to you yesterday. Didn't you get it? Did the servers lose another one of my files?" No, you never sent the report because you got busy checking your Facebook, Tumblr, and playing Farmville and forgot that the report was due. You screwed up.

People today don't want to be viewed as less desirable, don't want to face the consequences, and therefore take whatever out they can find. Regardless of what they blame it on, they never have to take responsibility for their actions and they never have to say they're sorry.

I remember when part of becoming an adult was being able to take responsibility for your actions. Now, is it any wonder crime rates are so high? Is it any wonder the divorce rate is so high? Kids are being raised to believe that they don't have to take responsibility for their actions. Why do they think this? Because they learn from example, and the adults of today's society don't take responsibility for their actions either.

Well, guess what? I'm not that person. I screw up...on a daily basis most of the time. Why? BECAUSE I'M HUMAN!!! God didn't want perfection or He would have had competition. Does screwing up make me any less of a person? No. In fact, it makes me a better person because I recognize that I've screwed up and I learn what NOT to do next time. Making mistakes is not a sin, it's an opportunity to grow and learn.  Until we once again are willing to own up to our mistakes, then we as a society, as a race, as a species, can not grow. We will remain stuck in a loop of self-righteousness and conceit, eventually becoming stagnant and bringing about our own demise.

Like I said before, I'm not that person. I know I screw up and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Sometimes I might be a bit sheepish about it because I did something really stupid, but when it comes to hurting someone I love you better believe I'm going to own up to it if for no other reason than so that I can try to fix the situation. That being said, let me say this to the entire internet and to the one whom it truly matters...I screwed up. I stepped on toes, betrayed trust, and hurt feelings....and I'M SORRY. I didn't mean to do it, and I hope you'll forgive me.

And to everybody, I ask you this...are you as unwilling to say "I'm sorry" to God as you are to your fellow man? While I understand that God is far less judgmental, saying you're sorry for your sins is just as important as saying you're sorry to those you love and who love you. If I were you, I'd start practicing your apologies, because we never know when that final and ultimate apology may be needed.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. - James 5:16 ESV

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.- 1 Corinthian 13:4-7 ESV

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas miracles and unspoken prayers

As Christmas Day approaches, I wanted to share a story with everyone about the wonders of God's ways.

Back in March, still reeling from my Mom's death, I told my husband that we had to start saving our money for a trip around Christmas, because there was no way I was going to be able to cope with being home for the holidays. My Mom and I were best friends and I just KNEW Christmas was going to be unbearable without her. Hubby and I both agreed that a family Christmas trip would be necessary. My exact words were "I just can't be in this house come Christmas". God heard me and took my words and my family's needs to heart. He fixed them in ways that I wouldn't fully realize until just a few weeks ago when, as I was re-grouting one of the floor's in my new house, I began laughing. My daughter looked at me as though I'd lost my mind, which presupposes of course that I had a mind to lose. She asked what I found so amusing, since we were both on our hands and knees scrubbing the floor. I told her "We won't be in the other house for Christmas".

We weren't looking for a house when we bought this one. It came to our attention courtesy of a friend of ours who lives in the same neighborhood as our new house and knew we had outgrown our other house. We had discussed moving with this friend before, and had come to the conclusion that a house the size of the one that we needed was outside of our budget at the time. Our new house is double the square footage of our old one and because of the cosmetic work that needed to be done would be within our budget. Because of that friend, we were able to get a bid in on the house the day it went on the market and were able to close on the house within just a couple of weeks. Hurdles came up and were cleared almost as quickly.

As I kneeled there on all fours, pausing in reflection from scrubbing the floor, I realized that God had wanted us to have this house. Our new home was His response to my "I just can't be in this house come Christmas". And I realized then that while God gave us Christ to mend our broken souls, He gave my family our new home this year to help mend our broken hearts. I realized that a miracle had occurred.....our own little Christmas miracle. Everything about this house - where it is, how big it is, how it's laid out, when we got it - fits our needs perfectly. Too perfectly. God knew we (or, at least, I) would need a miracle to get through this Christmas, and He delivered, even when we didn't directly ask for it and then didn't realize that what we were getting was an answer to an unspoken prayer.

I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow. - Jeremiah 31:13 

And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:19

Have faith, brothers and sisters -  He is always there, always listening, always answering...even the unspoken prayers. Merry Christmas and may God bless you with Christmas miracles of your own.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Being a lighthouse for God

Being a lighthouse for God - part 1: God lit the flame

I sit down to write this blog after a long night of filling out police reports accompanied by much wailing and weeping. After just losing my mom to cancer this past January, last night her wedding jewelery was stolen out of my home. This blog came to me while I was sitting at the breakfast table asking myself why such horrible things always seem to happen to me and my family. I seem to be a magnet for all things bad, which I don't understand because I try so hard to be a good Christian...and it occurred to me that I am a magnet for evil because I'm a beacon for God. But why me?

When I was 4 years old, my parents learned that both of my kidneys were in the process of failing. I needed a kidney transplant or I was going to die. My family didn't have medical insurance for dialysis or in-home care, so every day my mother took me to Hope Haven Children's Hospital for treatment. I remember being sent to playrooms while the doctors would talk to my mom, and how she always looked so stressed afterwards. I was put on a transplant waiting list. Every day - back to the hospital for more treatment. Needles, blood work, never seemed to end.

I remember when my parents told my Grandma Coppage my doomed fate. Being my parents' only daughter and the baby, I enjoyed the role of being a somewhat favored child. Yes, I openly admit to being spoiled. I was also very obedient and was very devoted to my parents and grandparents, which I guess made me endearing. Anyway, my parents were obviously distraught when they told Grandma of my medical predicament, and she cried for a few minutes.  But then she did something that I've only ever seen Grandma do. She pulled herself together, smiled at my parents, patted their hands, and told them not to worry because God would take care of this. I have only ever seen Grandma be able to completely and wholeheartedly turn things over to God the way she did. Complete and total faith. That woman was an angel walking among us.

Grandma arranged for a special prayer meeting to be held at her church and everyone in our small-town community came.  I remember this because it scared me half out of my wits. Grandma told me very simply to sit quietly and to try to stay still because all of these people were going to be thinking good thoughts about me to God to try to make me better. All I knew was that a whole bunch of strangers were crowded around me, some of them putting their hands on my head or my arms, and I was EXTREMELY uncomfortable. After the prayer service, I received many hugs and Grandma was made to promise everyone how my treatments progressed. I complained to Grandma on the way home that I didn't feel any different. Grandma just laughed and said to be patient, God works in His time, not ours.

At my hospital visit the next day, my mom and I were there twice as long. I wasn't scheduled for x-rays that day but I got them anyway - emergency x-rays. At first they wouldn't tell my mom what was going on. They talked about hospitalizing me for 'observation'. Finally my mom demanded to be told what exactly was happening. The doctors sat my mom down and told her that my kidneys were working PERFECTLY! My mom almost started crying, but she wasn't the crying type so she quickly got a handle on that and asked why this was alarming and not good news.The doctors explained that they were concerned that it might be an indicator that my kidneys were imminently about to fail and this sudden, flawless functioning could be sort of their last "hoorah", kind of like a hospice patient's burst of energy right before the end. My mom became very serious and asked what could be done for me in the hospital if my kidneys failed. The doctor took a deep breath and said quietly that they could make me more comfortable and could put me on machines until all of the family could gather. My mom squared her shoulders, took a deep breath, and said, "If she's going to go, she's going to go at home with me and her father beside her." The doctor nodded, scheduled our appointment for earlier than normal the next day, and we left. That night I got whatever I wanted. My mom and I stopped for Krystal burgers and fries on the way home and I fed some (most) of my fries to the pigeons. Looking back now I remember that mom watched me as though she was acid-etching every move I made into her memory, as though those memories would be the last she had of me. I wonder if it's the same look I had on my face when I helped care for her as she was dying of cancer.....but I digress. We had fried chicken and mashed potatoes for dinner that night - my favorite. I got to see all of my grandparents. Even my brothers were nice to me. It was like Christmas! My Grandma Coppage kept telling my parents not to worry. "God has special plans for that child." she kept telling them. When I finally fell asleep that night it was with my entire family, parents and brothers and grandparents alike, around me.

I awoke to a mood that can only be described as frantically hopeful. My mom couldn't get me to the hospital fast enough for my appointment. The doctors were equally frantic. There would be no waiting today. I was immediately whisked back for testing and it was a repeat of the day before - test after test after test- all with the same results. My kidneys had begun to function perfectly and normally on their own with no obvious explanation. The doctors were  mystified. Just to be on the safe side, though, they had me come back every day for a month and then intermittently for several more months. To this day, I have had no further problems with my kidneys and I'm almost 36 years old now.

So what happened that night during the prayer service? Was it a fluke? Was it chance? Or was it a miracle? I'll tell you what happened....God lit a flame.

Being a lighthouse for God - part 2: a beacon for all things, good or evil

I feel like God put His hand on me that night and said, "Go, child, into the world and shine with all of My goodness so that others will see and open their hearts to Me." And by healing me it was like He put a mark on my forehead that said "product of God", or perhaps even "future soldier for God". He made me a sign of His awesome power and mercy and a beacon to others. And I love this. I love knowing that I have the opportunity to help others find God and get to know Christ on a more personal level. I love being a beacon of light for Him. But you know what? If the good can find me then so can the bad. In the battle of good versus evil, what am I doing? I'm pinging the enemy's sonar, saying "Here I am!!"

By shining God 's light into the world I am a beacon to others, for good or for bad.  A wise priest once told me that the people who have the most difficulty in their lives are the ones trying the hardest to do God's Will, because those are the people that Satan is fighting the hardest against. Translate that to the topic of this blog....the brighter your light shines, the more evil will find you. As a member of God's army I've got a target painted right on my forehead.

So what do you do? Do you turn out the light? Let any ships in the harbor run aground on the rocks? Continue shining and pray for more fuel?

I turned to the Lighthouse Keepers' Guidebook (aka the Bible) and looked for a verse that might get me through this tough time. The Book of Isaiah came through - chapter 41, verse 10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)

 And God does work miracles, even if they're not the answers that we want. He does hold us up, and He comforts us in ways that may seem simple and trite to others and could easily go unnoticed. As I was double-checking my chapter and verse for the Book of Isaiah quote above, the web page I was on had a link at the bottom that said "Bible verses for those coping with loss". Seeing as how this entire blog came about as a result of the loss of my mother's jewelry, and the fact that I'm currently having trouble coping with her death, I clicked on the link. This is what I found:

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

This was the first verse on the page. This brought me peace. The next verse just about brought me to my knees.....

"The unfailing love of the LORD never ends! By his mercies we have been kept from complete destruction. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my inheritance; therefore, I will hope in him!'"
Lamentations 3:22-24  (NLT)

"The Lord is my inheritance..."......

Being a lighthouse for God - part 3: My inheritance

Those rings were my inheritance............but they were just rings. Yes, they were extremely valuable financially. Yes, they were even more valuable because of the sentimental element involved. But those rings won't get me into or keep me out of Heaven - and that's where God, Christ, and my mom are waiting for me.

Why am I sweating over the rings when one day I'll be back with the person who used to wear them?  It's not like I can take them with me. Does it still make me angry that they were stolen? You better believe it. Do I still think very un-Christian-like thoughts about the person who took them? Ohhhh yeah! Do I still miss them? So much it makes me sick to my stomach. But in the bigger picture of things, I'm realizing that they were merely items I'd clung to because of the connection they held to my mom. What I need to hold onto now  is the knowledge that I inherited the Lord and I need no greater connection than is with Him and one day, when it is my time, I will be too. Then, all of these trinkets and baubles I've kept to remember her by will be unnecessary and meaningless. The Lord is my inheritance, and with Him comes rewards greater than any jewel this world can offer.

The light that God lit in me may have been flickering yesterday, but it's shining now and getting brighter. Satan can send his army all he wants. This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine.....and it's going to shine as bright as it can. My light may flicker, and it may dim occasionally as I deal with Satan's forces, but there is nothing that Satan can do to me or take from me that will make me turn out the light that God lit. I will be a lighthouse for God, showing others the wonders of God's power and mercy, and hopefully leading them out of the darkness, for as long as I live. Because no matter what Satan does to me, he can't take away the inheritance that my Father has already given me.

Anchors and Dinghies

 Part 1: When achors are rocked loose
There are many analogies that have been used to describe life and people. When one thinks of a life analogy the first thing that comes to the minds of many is the famous "Life is like a box of chocolates...." from Forrest Gump. Truth is though, analogies help us to better understand and grasp the things that are going on around us and in our lives. It helps us to come to terms with things we may not want to deal with, or may not know how to cope with.

After my mom died last January, I knew eventually my step-dad would start dating and I was going to have to be prepared to explain this to my three children. My biological dad died when two of my kids were young, before the third was even thought of, so my step-dad is the only grandfather they've really known. I wasn't sure how to explain to them my step-dad's need to find a companion, since I wasn't sure they would fully understand the concept of loneliness. This is what I told them:

"There are two types of people in the world - there are anchors and then there are dinghies." And this is where I paused for them to stop laughing. "Do you know what a dinghy is, really? A dinghy is a small boat with no anchor that gets towed along behind a larger boat that has an anchor." The kids nodded and said they got that part, but didn't see how it applied to people.

"People who are anchors are okay living by themselves and can make it just fine on their own. Being with someone is a choice, not a necessity. They can make it through life holding their own in the sea of life and stay on course. But then you have people who are dinghies. Without an anchor, dinghies will drift astray and can't really find a sense of purpose or direction. Dinghies have to have an anchor or they'll get lost in the world."

There was a brief pause and then my oldest son said, "So, Grandpa's a dinghy?" to which everyone laughed and the subject was changed. It was clear they understood the message and that was the goal of the conversation so the topic was closed, or so I thought. Several months later this analogy came up again and this time stuck in my mind with the echo of a question. I was telling the analogy to a friend who, after learning about my step-dad's new relationship, asked me why it seemed so easy for him to move on while I was still having so much trouble coping with my mother's passing. I told her the "anchor and dinghy" analogy and summed it up with "he's a dinghy" and thought that was it. But a question began forming in the back of my mind....what happens when anchors are rocked loose?

 Part 2: Getting a grip
Anchors are supposed to dig into the sand and hold you in place, they keep you from wandering and drifting, and more than anything they secure you. People who are anchors do this for themselves and for those around them. But sometimes, anchors are set adrift....they come loose...knocked unsteady by a strong wave or an underwater current.

As I thought about this I realized that this was me....I was an anchor who had been knocked loose by the rogue wave of my mother's death. I was drifting and couldn't find my grasp on life no matter how hard I tried. I was raking along the bottom of the ocean floor, unable to grab onto anything to hold myself into place. I tried to anchor myself onto the anchors in my life, but this started to pull them adrift with me. This, sadly, created a ripple effect. All of the "dinghies" in my life were suddenly unsettled and also started to drift. The anchors closest to me became unsettled and their hold on the sea floor became tenuous. The seas of life became choppy and the horizon appeared bleak. Something had to change. But what? How?

Now, this is where the more fundamental Christian would say "let Jesus be your anchor!" I'm sorry, this is a great thought, and my faith is there, but in practical application this is easier said than done. I knew the answers to my questions were going to require time, patience, soul-searching, and faith......a perfect storm of positivity to counter the rogue wave that had set me adrift in the first place.

I know God often works in mysterious ways, but my answers came in a most unexpected manner - another loss. Not long after writing the material above (like, within a couple of weeks), my mother's jewelry was stolen by a contractor doing work in my home. I was devastated, and even posted as my Facebook status that it was as though Mom was being ripped away from me all over again. The night I found her wedding rings missing I hit rock ship crashed on the sharp rocks of the craggy coastline. If I was adrift before, I was spiraling down a whirlpool into an abyss that night. All I could think was, "I'm sorry, Mom....I'm so sorry." I felt like I'd let her down. My step-dad called me to tell me that it was okay, not to be upset, but I didn't take his call. My husband tried to comfort me, my daughter tried to comfort me, the police assured me that they would do everything they could to get her jewelry back, but I was inconsolable. I went to bed that night begging for sleep to take me quickly. I wanted darkness, numbness, an escape from the blanket of pain that was threatening to suffocate me.

 I woke up the next morning angry. I wanted to burn down the world and spit in the ashes.  Over breakfast that morning, I thought about how bad things kept happening to me and wondering why. The resulting blog, Being a Lighthouse for God, talked about how I seemed to be a magnet for drama and evil because I'm a Christian....I let God's light shine through me and evil seeks me like a moth to a flame. I am stalked by evil not because I'm a bad person, on the contrary, because I'm such a good person. While (hopefully) being a message to others, the blog post was a catharsis for allowed me to finally wrap my head around why my life has been nothing but one soap opera after another, why I have more drama happen in one week of my life than normally occurs in an entire season of whatever the latest teeny-bopper sitcom is, and why I can still pick myself up and move on through all of it. It was release and acceptance all in one, but in the process of writing that glorious release, something unexpected epiphany.

 As I was typing this line about my mom's bridal set that was stolen...... "Those rings were my inheritance............"......something was stirring under the water's surface....."but they were just rings. Yes, they were extremely valuable financially. Yes, they were even more valuable because of the sentimental element involved. But those rings won't get me into or keep me out of Heaven ".....I could feel that something significant was brewing......".... and that's where God, Christ, and my mom are waiting for me.".......

CLICK! That, boys and girls, was the sound of an anchor catching on something. After I typed that statement, I had to stop for a few minutes. I read it, re-read it, and re-read it again and again -  and the more I did so the more secure I felt in my holding. I wasn't drifting anymore. Yeah, Mom was gone, but not forever. Yes, the rogue wave of her passing had rocked me loose from the hold I had on life. But there is another life waiting for me after this one where she's waiting for me, where my dad is waiting for me, where my grandparents are waiting for me, where God is waiting for me, where ALL the people I love who aren't in this world are waiting for me......all I have to do is be patient.....keep on sailing for just a little while longer. That was all this anchor needed - hope for the things that faith tells me are coming in the life after this one. Hope. Faith. These are the rocks to which  this anchor clings. 
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -  Hebrews 11:1

You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety. - Job 11:18
I'm not drifting anymore. My "dinghies" are secure. And, somehow, for the first time since she died I feel close to Mom again, almost as though she were here with me.

I know there will still be rough times ahead - Christmas, the anniversary of her death, her birthday, etc. - but I think the worst is behind me. I may get rocked loose by rogue waves in the future, but they won't be because of Mom, and learning how to "get a grip" from this one may come in useful when the next wave hits. I just have to remember that this world is transitory. The problems here are temporary, the joys there will be permanent and everlasting. All I have to do is be patient, bide my time, and wait until the day when I am called to my true home with the Emperor Over The Sea.

Until then, a place for me.

But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love... - Psalm 33:18 

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. - Romans 12:12

..but those who hope in the LORD will 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 40:31 NIV