518,400 minutes

There are many of you out there who are familiar with the song “525,600 Minutes” reflecting on the minutes that make up 365 days, one year. 518,400 minutes is 360 days and as I was continuing to study the word #JOY in scripture this morning, I pondered what a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend I had, the joy I felt in the many wonderful moments shared with my two youngest daughters. This morning as I reflected, my thoughts went back to this time in my life just last year.

We had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, three of my four kiddos were home. (My oldest called me and we had a nice visit). First, I got to sing with one of my daughters at church Sunday morning, followed by being taken out for lunch. We continued to have a fun afternoon, watching movies and just being silly. It was a day filled with much laughter and love. My youngest baked me a chocolate cake from scratch! The day ended at the movie theater, watching the newest action flick of the summer. I felt happy and blessed.

This Mother’s Day I had my youngest two at my side as we headed off for Sunday worship and once again I was blessed to be singing with my daughter, this time her younger sister would join us. As I thought about what to sing, I thought about all that this past year has entailed for me, for us as a family. So, even though we sang it last year; I chose to sing the song “Blessings” by Laura Story again with my girls. It just seemed very fitting, this last year has certainly brought more pain and tears if you only look at the earthly aspects of this thing we call our life. Yet, for me, for my family–we know the blessings that can come from the trials and pain that God allows to come our way. (Let us not forget about His faithful servant Job). He is most certainly our comfort in the storm. In this past year, we experienced one of the worst storms we have had to face as a family to date.

518,400 minutes ago, on this day my phone would ring and after an initial familiar voice would start the conversation, a stranger would give me the terrible news. There had been an accident, it should have been fatal, but my daughter was doing well. They had been able to remove her from the wreckage and were proceeding to take her to the nearest trauma center.

Conscious. Broken bones.

The words still seem so fresh, so real as if they are being spoke again, right now in this moment. My son was still home, which I am forever thankful for. I doubt he will ever really know how much his presence in those early hours, days meant to me… how much he helped hold me together. I called one of my “moms” from our church family, to fill her in on what had occurred and to start the mighty power of prayer. As we drove the hour to where they were taking my daughter, an officer would call with additional information.

Fatal accident. Miracle.

I could smile through my tears as he said the later. Yes, through my silent tears I could smile; because my God is in the business of miracles. In those earliest days, I would share with others that I believed without a doubt that God must have big plans for my girl.

We would arrive at the hospital literally just behind the surgeon. As I glanced past my daughter to the corner where the docs and nurses were looking at her Xray, even an untrained eye would know it was bad. She would have surgery that night and our journey would begin. 518,400 minutes ago I nearly lost of of my children. Yet God, had other plans for her, for us as a family and we look on this moment, so many minutes ago as a way to show others who He is and how He can not only heal, but protect in the most awful of situations.

This Mother’s Day morning as we prepared to sing, my mamma’s heart was smiling as we lifted our voices, right here in the kitchen, praising Him. Thanking Him for all He has done in our lives this past year. We headed off to church (still singing in the car) and the girls waited for me to be done rehearsing with Worship Team before we did a mic check and sang through our song one last time. Then came the time for the girls to join me at the front of the church. I had decided to not share any words with our congregation as I was worried I would get too emotional and then not be able to sing at all.

We started singing, and after the first time through the chorus, as my daughters were singing the second verse, I could hear Kayleigh’s voice trailing off. I glanced over and watched as she swept away a tear or two. Then as they continued a bit further, she was just overcome with the emotion of it all. I pulled her to me and as she wept on my shoulder I sang with my younger daughter… praising Him, thanking Him because I indeed had a daughter to hold. By the final chorus she had joined us once again and our voices filled the sanctuary of our church with our simple act of praise.

What if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are your mercies in disguise?

518,400 minutes ago we were allowed to experience this particular trial. It was in the midst of this storm, through every difficult moment, every hard night… we were also allowed to experience mercy, His Mercy, His Grace–His Presence in the midst of what seemed nearly impossible to bear. 518,400 minutes ago God gave us the opportunity to be His light, to share who He is. To be a living, breathing example of thankfulness and love.

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Romans 15:13Β  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

God is Good – All the Time.

Until the next moment-

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Jesus, Friend of Sinners

*Beginning note, please forgive my absence for these past three months, I am still getting adjusted to work and school even when I only have the one child at home! πŸ™‚

As I began my devotion time this morning, continuing to study the word #JOY as it can be found in scripture, I came across a really wonderful verse in Acts. Acts 14:17, here it is in context of the moment being expressed by Paul, insisting that he and Barnabas were mere men just as the people they were reaching out to through their acts of healing and serving the Lord. He told them “We are only men with feelings like yours. We preach the Good News that you should turn from these empty things to the living God.

16Β In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17Β Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” 18Β Even with these words, they had difficulty keeping the crowd from sacrificing to them.

Shortly after some neighboring Jews showed up and quickly filled the minds of these same people with the idea to stone them! They did and Paul was drug out of the city believed to be dead. Crazy right? One moment they want to worship these mere men and the next they are stoning them to death!

Then I got distracted.

I often look through my fb news feed before I start my prayer time, so that I can be mindful of my friends and family, those in my community who might be in need of prayer. As I filtered through this morning, I came across a link shared by a mother of an old classmate. It was to a blog, the entry entitled “When she became a he – Walking in love”. My friends reaction was what I might have expected so I too read the entry.

It is written by a woman, a Christian woman, mother of four (I feel her pain ;P) who was shopping with her husband. While in a particular store, she recognized the sales associate as someone she knew from many years before only something had changed. The young man that she had known so many years before, attended church with – was now a woman.

She went on to share the encounter; it was uncomfortable at first. The friend visibly shaken, certainly inwardly thinking about what she must have been thinking about them. Wondering if she was inwardly judging them. The woman recognized this and put him at ease, smiling and expressing genuine excitement about seeing an old friend and they proceeded to reminisce about old childhood friends and shared pictures of their families. She shared that they talked for quite some time and when she left the store how sad she felt for this friend and why. She reminded us that if we are who we say we are. If we are indeed Christians, followers of the Living God; then shouldn’t we love like He did? Shouldn’t our actions be a reflection of Him?

And she’s right, Jesus didn’t stay away from the sinners, he spent time with them; teaching them about the truth in His Father’s Word. He healed the sick, ate with tax collectors andΒ  even had an in depth conversation with an adulterous woman. I often remind my children that we can certainly not approve of someones actions (especially when we understand it to be sin) but if we are truly Christians and want to “be like Jesus” then we still need to love those friends, the sinners, the lost souls who have undoubtedly been deceived by the lies that Satan quietly whispers into our ears. If we stopped talking to the people we know who make these sorts of drastic life changes, openly displaying behavior that we disapprove of, that is considered to be, by definition sin- who would we talk to? Where would our friends be?

Her post made me think of a friend of my own. I dear friend who helped me get through a lot when I first moved back to Nebraska so many years ago. We were neighbors, both single moms with little ones. I had my three oldest, all under 5 at the time and she had two, both under 6. We babysat for one another so we didn’t have to miss work or school, or if we just needed a night to ourselves! We went shopping together, took our kids to the park together. I shared my deepest hurts with her, and she did the same. I moved to my current hometown and she move out of state causing us to loose track of one another. Then thanks to good ole facebook I found her again a few years ago. But she had changed, she was in a relationship and ultimately married another woman. I was shocked initially and I won’t lie, it made me sad for her. Because in my eyes, her lifestyle is something that will keep her from the same eternity that I wanted to share with her. Yet, my God, the loving God He is wants me to love her still. We chat occasionally, laugh about old times and marvel at the amazing young men and women our children have become. She reached out to me with kind words and her own prayers when both of my daughters were in life threatening situations. I pray for her and her family as well, that they have good health and that they are happy. I pray that she will find Him once again.

Prayer, it is the only tool I have.

I try to use it often.

I hope I use it well.

Then there was an article about the very much heated transgender bathroom issue with Target. Simply put, it reminds us as Christians that we are not in this battle with the people who consider themselves transgender, or even Target. We are in battle with the ultimate enemy, Satan himself! I just finished reading Paradise Lost this past week for my literature class. I had always heard so many mixed things about reading it as a Christian, I think that as Christians, we need to read it! I have to believed that just as the Bible was God directed, God breathed; that Milton, who indeed professed a strong faith was directed by God in the images he creates as he tells the story of the fall of man, once again reminding us that we are all sinners. I enjoyed how he walks us through so many pivotal moments in the Bible, both old and new testaments. It almost seemed as if time intertwined in such a manner that it leads me to wonder if our years here on earth will be but a millisecond in heaven.

Oh the #JOY we will know then.

So whatever your initial thinking on many of the tough issues, we can’t control much in this world beyond our own actions. We need to hold our swords and not in haste cut off someone’s ear just because we don’t agree with their lifestyle. We need to love them like Jesus would. Remember WWJD? We need to reach out to them and without condemnation try to show them what the Word tells us to be true. Pray for them. Pray with them if they allow, asking God to show them His way, to draw them near to Him. How we react or don’t react is important because as we all know we have young eyes watching our every movement. Our children our our future. Let me repeat: Our children are our future! I don’t mean the children you gave life to or raised, but any child you may come into contact with as you work or serve in your church or community. They watch us, as our actions are far louder than our words… In showing compassion, they will learn compassion and our world needs a lot more love and compassion in it.

I’m not saying, that we teach them that the behaviors we understand and believe to be wrong are acceptable. I’m saying we remind them that everyone, even those whose actions we disapprove of should be treated with kindness. Once again asking ourselves:

“What Would Jesus Do?”

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Luke 5:31-32 Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

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Until the next moment,

 

 

When the Silence is Deafening

Today has been the sort of day I have not had in a while. One where I feel lost and alone, overwhelmed. And to tell you the truth, I still can’t pinpoint what it really is. Those old recordings are once again playing in my head. Perpetually on “repeat”, only this time I can’t actually hear them. I know they’re playing however because of the sick and heavy feeling I had when I first woke up today. But instead there is just this sick silence; nearly as maddening as the recordings themselves. I got my daughter off to school, oblivious to my state of mind. As soon as she left I set at the table, took a quick peek at Facebook to see if I needed to add anyone to my prayer list and then settled into my time with the Lord. Or, I should say I tried…

I must have read my devotional at least three times, before its words even began to break through the barrier created by the silence in my head. One would think that if you mind is in such a quiet state, it would be free to absorb whatever information you try to put into it. Perhaps, if it’s truly empty and not just masquerading as such. Instead, in my case, “empty” is merely hiding behind a mask of silence. A silent facade, holding in dark moments from my past. My routine is that I read my devotional, look up the scripture with my You Version app and share on Twitter and Facebook. On Facebook, I select one of the scripture references and create an image with it. I then share an abridged version of the part of the devotional that spoke to me that morning. This morning it was Psalm 89:15-16, the devotional itself reminding us to stay close to His Presence. To relax in it, to allow our mind to be molded, our heart to be cleansed. To remember when we keep our focus on Him, every moment can be precious. I was not finding that peace this morning, my heart and mind were fighting with my dark and silent past.

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I then set here looking at the three sections of my Prayer Board, lost as to where to even start. Normally God just places on my heart a starting spot and I then just move around the board until everything is covered in prayer. I didn’t know where to start this morning, my mind could barely form whole thoughts. Broken fragments of nonsense were bubbling to the surface, finally forming tears. I immediately jumped back on Facebook and asked the women in my Bible Study to pray for me. Then I headed to the one place where I can talk to God when I feel this lost, where I can cry out, even sob to Him and pray that He could get me through this particular moment… my shower. And before you utter “TMI” understand that this has been my safe spot since I was a very young girl. When I was growing up and my father was abusing me, the bathroom was the only room in the house with a lock on it. I would come home after school and take my homework into our bathroom, lock the door and feel safe, at least for the moment.

As an adult, I still retreat to this small quiet room; to be alone, regain composure, to pray… Sometimes, it is in the shower, where the sound of the water can drown out my tears. Where the wall often holds me up as I sob uncontrollably. But just as the water washes away, falling down the drain. So do my tears, they are just gone. The ugliness, sadness, anger, fear, all of it; is gone too. I can step out, feeling a sense of calm, renewed, re-energized; suddenly able to take on the rest of my day. I promise you that the only reason I am able to do this is because He hears me as I cry out to Him in my desperation. He hears me as I cry out and ask Him “Why”? He listens as I repeat everything on my heart that He already knows. He listens and He gives me what I need to move forward. He provides me with my immediate needs and quietly whispers that He is taking care of things. As I was crying in the shower this morning, I realized that I am still worried about money and my finances. I do have a part-time job now, but how in the world am I going to take care of myself and my child on a part-time salary, not to mention catch up on months of unpaid bills, which include months of rent. He knows all that, He knew before I uttered one word, shed one tear.

I continue to read from Max Lucado’s “you’ll get through this”. The story of Joseph and all that he went through; sold into slavery (by his own brothers, mind you), thrown into prison, and all the ugliness and hurt that came along with it. He never gave up, because he knew God had something better planned for him, even as a young boy, he believe it. Today, after a good crying session, I once again believed it too. We are all His children, and He, only He is in control of our ultimate destiny.

You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. God will use this mess for good.

As I write this my heart is good again, the silence has left my thoughts free to move around in my head, as they see fit. I can concentrate once again. I was able to read from the two books I am currently reading; including being led to some very appropriate and encouraging scripture. Thoughtfully reminded by 2 Corinthians that once we become a part of Christ, we are His, not just for a little while, but always His.

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Our past doesn’t matter any longer, even though the enemy wants you to think differently. We pinned them (our past sins) to the base of the cross when we trusted our life to Christ. His death on the cross paid for all our sins, the ones we have already done and those still to cause us to fall short. In the book FerVent, author Priscilla Shirer encourages us to use the following strategy when being harassed by Satan. When in prayer we can:

Praise: Thank Him completely for forgiving you, cleansing you, changing you.Β  –Β Β  Repentance: See the foolishness of anything that perpetuates old sin patterns, and by His Spirit walk away.Β  –Β  Asking: Ask for freedom, for release, for the ability to detect lies and embrace truth.Β  –Β  Yes: Because you, by His resurrection power, can now walk a new way of life.

Today, I end with a prayer. Lord Jesus, forgive me for my fear and uncertainty. Forgive me for allowing the enemy to build walls that keep me from you. Thank you Lord for giving me the tools to tear them down before they are fully built. Thank you Lord for loving me, my past imperfections and all; for easing my pain, ultimately healing it with your blood. I am a new creation, beautiful and perfect in you. Amen

Until the next moment,