Sunday, December 21, 2014

Love By Showing Up and All Is Well

More than anything else, Christmas to me is about love.  But how is love shown most effectively?  At Christmas we try to do it with gifts.  But our socio-economic state has no bearing on the wealth of love we have to share with our family and friends.  I can’t give as many or as valuable gifts as others may give.  That doesn't mean I love you any less.

I show love by “showing up.”  Being there when I can’t or won’t give you everything you want should speak more to you than what you get.  It is what lasts a lifetime.  Showing up with attention, a kind word, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, a comical moment.

History shows us that God showed up and demonstrated his love for us.  He showed up for Noah and his family.  He showed up for the people of Israel.  Account after account in the Old Testament displays God showing up, not always giving his people what they want, but showing up for them.

And then the New Testament opens with God showing up in a major way, Emmanuel, God with us.  And God continued to show up.  In fact, the Bible tells us that when we could not gain His favor on our own, He showed up one more time and “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”  God, in his Son Jesus Christ, showed up and died for us that we could be united with God forever.

This Christmas I have been thinking about the stress I experience and the stress my family experiences.  I have been negligent in remembering and acknowledging that God has “shown up” in my life and will continue to show up. And because of that, “All is well!”  It’s the message of the song by Michael W. Smith.  If you haven’t heard it, you need to listen to it. 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cjZfeEJgNRw
So I am not making a New Year’s resolution.  I never keep them.  I don’t like them.  I am, however, taking a lesson of Christmas to heart and making it part of my future. I am telling myself several times daily “All is well!”  I’m reminding myself that God has already shown up and He will continue to show up.   My stress is really unnecessary.  Your stress is really unnecessary, cause God has shown up and “All is well.”

All Is Well - Micahel W. Smith

All is well all is well. Angels and men rejoice
For tonight darkness fell Into the dawn of love's light
Sing A-le, Sing Alleluia
All is well all is well. Let there be peace on earth.
Christ is come go and tell that He is in the manger.
Sing A-le, Sing Alleluia
All is well all is well. Lift up your voice and sing.
Born is now Emmanuel. Born is our Lord and Savior.
Sing Alleluia. Sing Alleluia. All is well!

Friday, December 9, 2011

12.11.10 We're Singing Hallelujah

It was Saturday night.  I was standing on stage amidst over 300 voices and instrumentalist.  Just hours earlier I spoke with may dad. "What are you doing?" I said with a chuckle in my voice. "I don't know," he said with his usual laugh.  Dad was in the hospital.  He had gone by ambulance the night before due to excessive pain.  Melenoma had taken over many of his organs, including his heart.  He hid is pain well. Until that night.  So he and I chatted.  I wish I could remember what I said...what he said...I told him I would be flying home the next morning and I said "I'll see you tomorrow."

400 years of silence.  God's people were wondering where He had gone.  Then one day, a Light came.  And there was singing.  Hallelujah! Emmanuel. God is with us.  I tried to sing, mostly in my heart, cause the sound would not come out through my tears and pain.  "All is well, all is well..." We had to sing it.  I tried to mean it.  And again we sang "Hallelujah! Our God is with us!"  It may have been during that refrain...or another...I don't know...

We exited the stage.  I went to a quiet place.  There was a voice mail.  "Dad is with Jesus..."  He's singing Hallalujah!  Our God is with us. And he is with our God.

I miss my dad.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday night...finished work at 6...home watching football...thinking about life...
Need to have further discussion related to my last post...

I talked about the Enemy telling me that God is holding out on me.  I talked about the battle I'm in to stop believing that.  I am battling it.  I can't accept it.  My mind knows it's not true.  I'm one of those who believes what the Bible says.  I may not act like it all the time.  But I know it's the ultimate source for truth and answers to life's questions.  So I will not accept the message from the Enemy because i know God is who He says He is.  He is I AM.  Not I WAS.  Not I WILL BE, but I AM.  That's what I'm working on to battle the message that He's holding out on me.  He's not.  He wants to be with me right now.

The funny thing (not really funny at all) about the Enemy is that once he gets you to believe that first statement, he hits me with an additional statement of contempt.  Rather than encouraging me to believe that about God and trying to convince me that I've got what it takes to make it without God, the Enemy hits me with the next message:  You don't have what it takes to have the life you want.  You've made too many mistakes.  You're not smart enough.  You're too poor.  You're too weak.

Thanks a lot.  I really appreciate how you set me up to fail.  So this is my response:  You are right!  I DON'T have what it takes.  I HAVE made mistakes.  I'm NOT smart enough.  I AM poor.  I AM weak.  But did you hear what I said earlier?  I BELIEVE the Bible.  God says He's more than enough for me.  The price has been paid for my mistakes. Forgiven. Forgotten.  He will give me wisdom and understanding.  He has all the riches for me I will ever need.  He is strong. 

I'm not listening to the Enemy any longer.  That's my goal.  I'll do my best.  God will have to do the rest.

If you have just under 4 minutes yet, listen to this http://youtu.be/jv0zvwvrzm0.  It's Michael English singing "The Only Thing Good In Me".  The recording isn't great.  Hopefully you can understand the lyrics.

Thanks for letting me share.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Story God Is Telling

To say life feels difficult is an understatement. While some really exceptional things are happening there are also many exceptional challenges. I spend far too many hours feeling lost and sometimes hopeless. When will it all change? How will it all turn around? Why is this happening?  Why do I feel this way?

Epic(Paperback) I have been a fan of John Eldredge for many years now. I find his writing connects with me in ways that other inspirational Christian writings do not. I like his use of movie scenes to illustrate his points and being a visual person, it helps the message resonate inside me. I have recently gone back to his writing in hopes of finding direction, clarity and hope for my future.

In his book Epic, as well as his other writings, Eldredge asserts that we are all part of a larger story. He believes life is a story, not a math problem, not a scientific formula, nor an accident. He says that possibly the greatest question we can ask ourselves is "What sort of tale have I fallen into?" Furthermore he identifies that, for most of us, life feels like a movie we've arrived at 45 minutes late. Yet we can't escape the feeling that there is a story written on the human heart. But what is it?  How do I fit into the story?  Where does it really begin and does it have a happy ending?

This Epic is all about relationships and freedom to love and freedom to choose.  It's about Romance and Rescue.  It begins "Once upon a time..." and it ends "...happily ever after."  Traditional Christianity consisiting of frequent church attendance, self-righteous living and lists of do's and don'ts somehow fails to connect the story written on our individual hearts to the Epic that is being written since time began. As I have been working to be really honest with my self I am realizing that I'm not happy with the role the Author of the larger tale has cast me in this Epic.  Unfortunately the Villain in the story has capitalized on our freedom to choose for ourselves. You see, it is our ability to choose for ourselves that makes this an Epic love story, for nobody wants the love of someone who is forced to love them. As Eldredge puts it "God created us in freedom to be his intimate allies, and he will not give up on us. He seeks his allies still. Not religion. Not good church people. Lovers. Allies. Friends of the deepest sort." What the Villain of the story has done is whispered to all of us, including me "You cannot trust the heart of God...he's holding out on you..." He has undermined the relationship.

So God has a complicated problem. He loves. And he loves us so desperately that he wants to rescue us. To further complicate things, we don't always realize we need to be rescued. We can be so caught up in ourselves and our smaller story that we don't realize that we are part of the larger story. Yet in my heart, however faintly it calls to me, I hear a voice that tells me I was once more than I am now. It beckons me to be part of this great Romance. So why is the seed of mistrust that the Villain planted in my heart growing like a weed, choking out whatever Romance with the Author the heart is trying to cultivate?

This is where I am struggling right now. I have the knowledge that I am a cast in this Epic love story that has been going since the beginning of time and is, in fact, eternal. My heart is desperately longing for happily ever after. But I find myself stuck in whatever scene of this Epic I'm in and it feels tragic, often hopeless and it feels like God is holding out on me. What do I have to do to get this story moving forward? What do I have to do to have a better role in this tale? I don't like the part I've been given and I want it to change. Could it be as simple as a choice? God says "I have set before you life and death...Now choose life. (Deut. 30:19) I thought I had. I thought I am. I thought he understands imperfection and that justice, mercy and grace were working together to make it all better for me.

So I'm wrestling with the questions.  I'm looking at the big story once again. At the end of the book Eldredge lays out "the road before us." He describes the answers to the questions and poses new questions. I am going to spend a bit more time understanding my questions before I write about the answers. I will tell you, however, that I think the answers were presented to me today. The Narrator voice for the story written on my heart spoke louder. The voice of a close friend helped to clarify by listening and offering empathy and insight. But like I said earlier, like all of us I have the freedom of choice and sometimes I think I choose not to be rescued. That is the saddest part of the story.  Maybe this time it will be different.  I'll let you know in future posts.

If you would like to know more about John Eldredge and Epic: The Story God Is Telling,  you can click here: www.epicReality.com.  There you will also find a link to Ransomed Heart, John and Staci Eldredge's ministry based in Colorado.


My Happy Place

mms_picture.jpgAfter a year and 5 months I have finally found my "happy place" in Texas.  It's Mary Jo Peckham Park in Katy.  This 32 acre park has a .77 mile trail around the lake.

mms_picture.jpgIn addition to the trees, the grass, the lovely lake and this beautiful scenery, there is a Koi pond, a large playground area, numberous picnic areas, an fitness center with an indoor pool and a miniature golf course.

Today I sat under the gazebo and read a book and did a bit of thinking and soul-searching.  I imagine I'll be spending some more time here.  Who knows...maybe I'll invest in a fishing license and see if I can catch a big one.  Now that it isn't so blazing hot and humid all the time, it's nice to get out and experience what God has created.

I'm reading Epic by John Eldredge.  In it he writes "We have grown dull toward this world in which we live; we have forgotten that it is not normal or scientific in any sense of the word.  It is fantastic. It is fairy tale through and through.  Really now.  Elephants? Caterpillars? Snow?  At what point did you lose your wonder at it all?...And for a moment we realze that we were born into a world astonishing as any fairy tale.  A world made for romance...Surely you see that God is more creative than we can possibly imagine, and romantic to the core."

Sunday, November 6, 2011

I don't know as much as I thought...

I know.  You're surprised.  On Nov. 17, 2008 I wrote a piece about our dating philosophy.  http://voiceofdon.blogspot.com   Yeah...I had great intentions and it sounded good.  Doesn't work like I expected.  But so far it's OK.

It has openned a lot of great discussions with Ashley, my oldest.  We died pretty well at listening and then we compromised our position.  However, the boy's parent's ended up being more strict than we were.  Ashley has lots of guy friends.  I haven't really needed to get a shotgun.  She is a special girl and some young man is going to be very lucky to receive her love.  She did confess that she tried to kiss a boy in kindergarten. Really? Like I said...I don't know as much as I thought.

In that same blog I said the same standards apply for my son as for my daughters.  Let me introduce you to Lyssa. She and Jordan have been going out for a few months.  I say going out...he doesn't have a car.  She's sweet and he likes her.  So my dating philosophy has totally failed here.  I really don't know much at all, people.

Finally, I will say that a very nice young man asked to take Grace to a movie with he and his dad.  Also asked if it was OK to take her to dinner as well.  Folks...I know NOTHING!

My Kids

Most people think their kids are the greatest.  I am no different.  I have been blessed with Ashley, 19, "The girl I've always wanted."  She is in the middle of her 2nd year at California Baptist Univ.  I am so proud of her.  She is growing into such a fantastic young woman.  It is incredible to be experiencing even more of a friendship with her in addition to the parent/child relationship that we will never lose.  It's hard to be so far away from her, yet I've always know that we raise our kids to one day let them go and fly on their own.  She seems to be well equipped and has shown amazing maturity in her time away.  She is learning and experiencing things out from the daily covering that her mother and I provided, yet knows exactly how to come back under our wings for the needed comfort and support.

Jordan, 16, "my little Man"  is becoming that man more and more every day.  I love watching how Jordan is growing and maturing.  I love to see his unique qualities, the care and concern he has for others and the fun he has in life.  It's exciting to see his joy as he is finding increased success in school.  It is heart-warming to hear his compassion for others when he serves with his youth group.  It will be fun to see where the road takes him in the next several years.

Grace, 10, "my special girl" is growing up too fast.  Where did all the time go?  She is always happy, full of life and lives it full throttle.  Whether watching her lead her 4th grade class, seeing her excel in Tae Kwon Do, listening to how she nailed her choir auditions, every day is something new and exciting. She is becoming so aware of the world around her as well as the world far away.  She not only talks about herself but asks about me.  She not only want's things for herself, she gives to help others in Africa.  She is one of a kind.

If you haven't met my kids yet, I hope you can soon.  Of anything in life, they are what I am most proud of.  I read a post from old blog, http://voiceofdon.blogspot.com, Aug. 24, 2008.  In my typical fashion I didn't proof read it and I found a glaring error today.  In the blog I attempted to quote a former pastor.  This is how the quote should read and I re-post it here as it pertains to what I'm feeling this moment about my kids: "Judgement is getting what I deserve.  Mercy is NOT getting what I deserve.  Grace is getting what I do not deserve."  God has truely "graced" me with 3 amazing children.