Three Months to Love

I cried today…

…when I took Angel to school, dropped her off, hung out a while and then had to leave when it sunk in that no chaperones called in sick and there was no room for me on the field trip to go see “The Adventures of Frog and Toad” play downtown. That was one of my favorite books i used to read to Angel and Braylon in Texas. I waited until I rounded the corner to the hallway, and the tears took me off guard. I couldn’t hold them back for nearly 20 minutes. I guess…you just never know when it may be the last day you have with someone you love.

…when it dawned on me that our friend since before we were married, Nate, may not live through the summer. He is 38. It is a reality, the cancer that is growing, spreading in his body. And although our God is just as real, Nate’s Doctor is giving him three months to live. And I just typed “love” with my big thumb, instead of “live”, which is really more accurate. Three months to love.

…when Angel put on “Hymn of Remembrance” by Warr Acres, on my iPhone and plugged it into the loud house-speakers.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S63GblduLcs&sns=em)

…when I texted with Kim my sister in law, and was reminded of how much they are missing in Texas, not bein here in the NW… & how much she is missed here. Their family not being here just does not seem right and it makes me sad that they are 2100 miles away. Perhaps a Foursquare pastor position will open up around here and they will get to move back.

…when I watched Love Happens ~ a romantic drama with Jennifer Aniston about a motivational speaker who has a hard time overcoming his fears and denial about the death of his wife three years prior.

…when over dinner, we told Braylon and Angel the news of Nate’s prognosis & failing health, and Braylon began to cry, using his purple tee shirt to dab his tears. My eyes welled up too, when I saw his emotions showing. And then Angel said her eyes were getting watery. She is not as close to Nate as Bray. And doesn’t quite understand the finality of death like Bray might. But she is certainly compassionate and suddenly becomes sad when she sees others sad.

…when I called my friend and fellow musician, Shawn, to ask if he would be willing to play the song I wrote for Nate, and he said he has all day tomorrow free. Now I’ll be able to sing it while he plays acoustic, & Kenny is making himself available to record it for Nate to be able to listen/watch it on YouTube, (per his request as he spoke w/Ricky tonight).

I’m tired now. I’m fasting. Which is making things more exaggerated, I’m sure.

Thank you, Father, for bringing me through today and for the sweet short visit from my mom who brought me my dinner: a Venti White Mocha, extra hot, w/an extra shot.

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The Vacuum Dance

I was confronted. I was confused. I was searching my heart for any fault. Were these accusations true? Were they false & brought up to me because of underlying jealousy toward me? I didn’t know then, and even today, I still don’t. But one thing I do know, is that all the questioning I was doing, made me doubt who I was and what my purpose was. It was March of 2005, and as winter was blowing its chilly goodbye-kiss, I waited for spring to give me a warm welcome. But the questions and accusations in my mind would not let up. A month crept by. I felt more judged by outsiders. The sun came, but I was still cold, and digressing into depression. Continue reading

Loss of Sleep vs. Loss of a Child

Earlier tonight, I was tired and dozed off on the couch. I woke to noises from the 2nd floor. The thumping, screaming, running, jumping, scaring, throwing and more. At first, I was so annoyed. But then I had to check that emotion against the reality that there are many women who once had a child and once heard all those noises. But no longer do.

Some never had the opportunity to even hear them. Women like my long-time friend from Portland, Nancy, who lost her baby, Josiah. She got to hold him for four days. How our young-married group prayed for them! It took everything in me to not cry as I sang at the memorial service, but my tears would not be held as I watched the photo-presentation on screen as I listened to Nichole Nordeman sing the gentle and powerful song, “River God” . So many aren’t able to carry to term before the ultrasound no longer bears a heartbeat. My mom miscarried between my sister’s birth and mine. I have an “older” brother or sister, in heaven right now.

And then there’s Angie Smith, who has other children with her husband, Todd (singer in the band, Selah) but whose last child, Audrey, lost her life not long after birth. This woman is truly inspirational…to hundreds. I stopped reading her blog so often because every time I did, I was there for never less than an hour and never without tears.

angie.todd.smith.audrey

I’ve learned little bits about perspective and the importance of friendships and reasons why we must endure pain. That life can go on, and with greater purpose and satisfaction after enduring. There may be an emptiness at times, but she reminds her readers that God is a friend who can fill the emptiness if we allow him.

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And even if we find ourselves sad, it’s ok. It’s ok because we can still be fulfilled. With the presence and peace of the Spirit of God. I don’t understand it. It just happens. Anyway, from here on out, I think when I find myself annoyed or upset, I’m going to try to challenge myself. I’m going to try to put into practice a perspective that will change my whole attitude. Lord help me.

Four Weddings or a Funeral?

I might seem a little morbid or strange, but if were given the choice, (assuming the food was great at both) I’d rather go to a funeral than a wedding, any day. A service that’s dedicated to remembering & honoring someone loved has a lot more potential impact than a service dedicated to uniting two people in marriage (which stats say, over half don’t make it anyway, Christian or not). You rarely drive away from a memorial service without really considering your own life…without reevaluating…without being reminded of how little time we have on this earth, and with our loved ones. I was reminded by my friend, Marlena, that even our time here with our spouse is temporary. We may think or act like we’ll be with them forever, even in heaven, but the Bible’s clear there is no marriage in heaven. Our lives are vapors. As Master Oogway said in the classic, Kung Fu Panda, “Quit, don’t quit? Noodles, don’t noodles? You are too concerned about what was and what will be. There is a saying: yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the “present.” 

Our children or “soul-mate” may be taken away from us.  And what would we have left? Will we find comfort in happy hour? Or count seconds until we’re able to sleep every night? Will we revel in the peace that at least we still have equity in our big homes or seat warmers in our lexus (is the plurrel of that Lexi)? Will I say, “at least there will always be my 401K” or even “my friends”?

What I’m left with in a funeral’s last moments, are thoughts of what I’m left in the last moments of life…that when all is said & done, bought, drunk & eaten, the only thing left, worth anything on this earth, is actually eternal. Jesus & His Word.

Tomorrow, my friend Rachel is singing & playing the guitar (“When the Tears Fall” by Tim Hughes) @ her uncle’s memorial service.  He died a tragic, unexpected death. Please pray for the entire Strom family today & tomorrow, especially her father, as his brother’s service is prepared and carried out…pray for peace & comfort & that every life represented in that place would be impacted for the glory of God.

Thank you so much.

hillsong with another new power-packed ballad, desert song

is your soul in a dry season…a desert? i just thought i’d break from my short series on “raising the bar” to highlight some great songwriting. Continue reading

does the blood of Jesus cover the blood of suicide?

thanks, dad, for your permission to write about gramma.

my gramma was so wonderful to be around. she was kind, always had a hug. she loved “the peoples’ court’ and ‘hee-haw’ and ‘mama’s family’. we used to camp with her in her pop-up at wallowa lake & roller skate on her wood floor. she nursed my first bee sting i got (in my belly button) while lounging in a hammock in her backyard. she baked us a bunny shaped coconutty cake every easter. she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind & boy, could she be blunt (i got that gene). she doted on her weiner dog, trudy (sister to ours) was devoted to the Lord & loved her husband. she lost grampa ted after over 50 years of marriage. that next year brought with it the greatest test of endurance.

emotional stress turned physical & chemicals in her brain started getting off-balance. no one knew her depression had gotten severe. no one knew about the thoughts. not the cuban refugee family she took in to her home, not her pastor, not even her two sons. they would’ve removed the guns from the home.

i was called with the request to drive to her house as “there had been an accident”. i pulled up in my white vw jetta & my mom held me & told me then…gramma was gone. i was confused. i sat on top my car hood with my knees up to my chin & rocked back & forth. there was no accident. she’d stripped her life from herself probably not b/c she wanted to die, but b/c she no longer wanted to live…and in doing so, stripped her life from everyone else who loved her. the tears just streamed as i watched her pastor & the elders haul off the carpet they’d ripped out of that tiny room. i’m just glad it was dark out. i’m even more grateful i wasn’t the one to discover her. i loved my gramma & respected her. i honor her even today. i just wish she was still with me & i could share my life & family with her, like we do w/rick’s grandmas (that seems like a selfish reason, doesn’t it). she sure loved family. there are so many great memories i can recount, that the awful details are usually overshadowed in my mind…

but for the sake of discussion, honest reflection, & hopefully peace to a reader who’s lost someone this way, let’s bring the topic out into the light.

do people who do this go to heaven? to seek some answers (cause i know i have far from all the answers), i went to the Bible, God’s Word. it says that to be absent from our bodies is to be present with the Lord, and there are so many that display his abounding mercy…but i didn’t take much comfort in this passage: he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple. ~ 1 Corintians 3:15-17.

this is the only place in the Bible where it refers to what may be suicide, although, it doesn’t even state it as such, specifically. no where else in the Word {Christians’ one & only true source of God-breathed, Holy Spirit inspired ancient text} does it state or even imply that suicide in & of itself, is a sin worthy of eternal damnation…an unpardonable sin. sheesh, even in judges 16:28-30, samson is granted by God the strength to do this. suicide, if unpardonable, would be not just mentioned as such, but woven throughout text.

i know from experience about the kind of God i serve. i don’t care if people call me biased or subjective. everyone of us is, really. God is just & merciful & kind. he is the essence & exemplification of love. he reaches to us beyond the point of our carnal death & gives us a chance to be judged, for the good, bad & ugly. not one of his kids will escape accountability. committing suicide? yeah, that too. they’ll have to answer for it to their Creator himself. sin cannot go unpunished. it was his life to make, & his to take, in his time. but for him to ‘sentence’ hell because of this would be unjust & uncharacteristic.

our lives are so valuable…often underestimated…& extremely important to God! read Psalm 139. to me, suicide can be the ultimate act of selfishness…but i think our Father looks beyond the sin at the time of death, & sees what mere man cannot: the whole person, their lifestyle, their love for him. he takes into account their suffering from mental illness or severe depression & applies the blood of his Son, Jesus to that final sin. so what if they aren’t alive to ask for it!?! his grace reaches beyond that technicality. his grace always looks at the heart.

his blood is not partial. it does not flow down our hearts full of sin avoiding a few choice acts. it cleanses all. that’s why i love to sing songs about it. the suffering & the blood of Jesus is worth squat if we humans can determine that some sins it does not cover (“how could he forgive a child molester or murderer?” “how could he forgive one who doesn’t ask for it because they’re dead now?”), & some it does cover. what if i’m saved, (i’ll use a lame example for lack of time) i’m driving & completely envying the person driving next to me. i end up rubber-neckin’ & crashing into a pole & i die? would a gracious God just look at my last sin of envy & say to me at the throne, ‘well in spite of your life of obedience & humility and your heart of love toward me & toward the least of these, you never repented of that last sin…so, since the wages of sin is death…’

absurd. that clearly goes completely against his character displayed throughout the entire Bible.

we all tend to ‘heirarchy’ the wrong we commit to help us feel better about our ‘little pet sins’, but to God, it is what it is ≈ that which separates us from him, and calls for a perfect atonement. envy, greed, suicide, homosexuality (sexual sin is different, but not worse to God. see 1 corinthians 6:18-20), disobedience, slander, drunkenness…you name it, it’s all sin. if we live this way, refusing to acknowledge/accept Christ’s atonement, it is serious business (see 1 corinthians 6:9-11).

the Word states there is o n e sin that’s unforgivable, unpardonable & results in hell: blaspheming the Holy Spirit ~ (my paraphrase: completely & permanently denying Christ, even after you know the truth in your spirit). this may seem contradictory to the scripture above naming many sins that can lead to eternal separation from God, but this one refers to a blanket statement, covering all of those listed, as examples. hell is for the unrepentant of heart that denies Christ. anyone who has guilt for their sin, confesses with humility & repents…(“such WERE some of you” oh, please don’t miss that part!)…he is immediately restored to right standing with God. my heart leaps for joy to read this again.

Christ words on this sin can be read in mark 3:22-30 & matthew 12:30-33 . dr. henry morris & author & theologian, dr. f.f. bruce shed some further light on that ‘unpardonable’ sin ~ to read their insights on the subject, click here (but come back!).

so yeah, i’m biased here. i miss her. but not so biased, i’m blind. i have faith (evidence of what i can’t see) that the saved don’t have to worry about heaven vs. hell when they die. they are free of every pain in their new bodies, enjoying the gift of eternal life. in my humble opinion, this is the bottom line: whether it was a life of a Christian taken by God in his timing, by someone else or by their own hand, that life…that blood is covered by the blood of their Savior. period.

oh…my gramma’s name?

grace.

now, as for whether or not we know if someone’s really saved before they die?! …well, that’s a topic for another day. i’m way past my wordcount on this one, but i’d loooove to read any comments on today’s.