Wednesday, August 13, 2014

This side of Heaven.....

Death on this side of Heaven, sucks. I'm just being real here. There's nothing glamorous, nothing pretty, nothing heart warming about least in my experience. It is ugly, messy, heart wrenching and at times a nightmare. My dear friend woke up this past weekend in the middle of this nightmare. Her teenage son passed away suddenly. He was a precious treasure of hers and now he's gone. There are no words to describe this loss, this grief, this pain.

There's no way to prepare our hearts to say goodbye to someone we love....especially our own child. It is in fact, a nightmare. I remember days after my mom died, I would sit straight up in bed gasping for breath. I would wake up from horrible dreams as my mind and heart tried to process what was happening. My husband would comfort me and help me through those dreams....but it was prayer that gave me strength and allowed me to put one foot forward each day.

God knows that death is horrible this side of Heaven. He knows the pain and the suffering. He knows how we feel. He knows the depth of our tears. His own Son, Jesus Christ, died a horrific death on the Cross to reconcile US to HIM. It didn't seem fair. His death seemed like a great loss......but instead, it was a great victory! Jesus said "it is finished". His death and resurrection saved us. It was the plan all along to reconcile all of creation back to our Heavenly Father!! 

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Eternal Life. Heaven. The Glory of God. This is the only wonderful thing about death. We pass from this life into eternal life. A gift from God. Yes, on this side of Heaven death sucks. It's a messy process to go through physically, emotionally and spiritually. But when we make Jesus Christ the Lord of our lives and surrender our lives to Him.....we get to spend forever and ever with our Heavenly Father. My friend's precious son, is now in the arms of his Father, His Heavenly Father. There are no more tears, no more saddness, no more pain. One day, this mom will see her son again because they both made Christ their Lord. Do you know Him? Have you dealt with your eternity? The most important thing to think about today!

THANK YOU LORD, that even though we don't understand death on this side.....YOU DO!! Thank you that we can lean on you and you will carry us through the suffering. I lift up my dear sister in Christ......I pray that you will continue to hold her so close to you and use others to bring great comfort during this incredible time of loss. May everyone see your glory through this young man's life and death. May people come to know you and your salvation because of all this. Amen!!

Love you Lord! Love you Gina!! Love you Jerritt!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Storm, The Boat and The Life Preserver!!

Most of us have heard the story of the drowning man who cried out to the Lord. He was out at sea during a terrible storm and his boat was sinking. He asked the Lord to save him and believed God would! A boat came by and the people reached out to him offering help. The man said, "No thank you. God will save me." The storm was getting worse and another boat came by. Once again, they offered to throw out a life preserver to save the man but he refused. Again he told them he was waiting on God to save him. The man drowned in that storm. When face to face with God, he asked why He didn't save him. The man said, "Lord, I cried out to you and waited for You to save me!" God replied, "Son, I sent you two boats and a life preserver and you refused my help!!"

We hear this story and roll our eyes thinking "what a moron!" It is clear that the Lord was sending him help and he was too stubborn to see it!! But the reality is that we are just like him. When storms beat us down in life, don't we cry out to God but then try to fix it ourselves? Don't we believe in His help but want it on our own time table? If our storms in life were real storms, we might drown too. 

I am in week three of a messed up back. I pulled something while visiting Colorado last month and my back has not been the same since. It is 24/7 of pain. On a scale of 1-10, it can go from a 2 one moment to a 10 the next. is aggravating!! I feel like an old lady. My kids are constantly doing things for me that would normally be a no brainer. My husband has had to dress me and lift me into bed. (More and more, I am understanding the "for better or worse" part of our vows. :))

Three days after getting back from Colorado, we left for our Summer family trip! I have been looking forward to this camping trip fully unplugged!! It was such a beautiful trip....beautiful time with my family....beautiful landscape and I saw God's glory everyday. My back, however, revolted. It hated the air mattresses and the lack of rest/recovery. This has been my STORM! Waves crashing. Dark skies. Moments of tears and concern. I became hugely compassionate for all my friends who suffer in chronic pain day in and day out. I did my best to rely on God throughout our trip but it was hard sometimes. I smiled and I cried. I prayed and prayed. I leaned on Him.....and here's what HE DID!!!!

One morning, I was on my knees in the tent trying to dress myself. I was praying and asking the Lord to heal me. "Please Lord. Lay your mighty hands on my back and give me rest." I went outside the tent over to our picnic table for breakfast. Within one hour, our neighbor (a woman I hadn't met yet) came over to the table asking if someone had a bad back. I think she saw me laying on the ground the day before. I introduced myself and she went on to share their back stories. Her adult daughter had been in an accident years before and has to do special exercises for her back. They actually brought some different equipment specifically designed for lower back pain!!!!!!!! WHAT?????? Who does that camping??? What are the chances they would be camped in our campground next door to us??? They offered their help to me each day and we did these exercises together!!! Total strangers. Totally awkward.......and TOTALLY GOD'S PROVISION!!!!

Jeff and I both praised the Lord and were reminded of the drowning man. We both said, "This is God's life preserver for me!!" back was not completely healed after those days of exercises. But, it did help me to walk better and enjoy our dear friends while camping. By Saturday, my back was spasm-ing and we had to get me a hotel room to rest. I had to be in a car for 7 hours yesterday to make it home. Again, in this storm, God sent me a boat in way of the hotel. I was able to lay in bed for 16 hours and rest my back completely!!!! I took medicine and put Icy-hot on my back Sunday morning.....which allowed me to sit in the car and come home!!! Had God not given me that rest, I wouldn't have made it in the car all day!!

I have learned so much through this. I have seen God's provision and His mercies new each morning. I have great compassion for those that are in pain constantly. I spent some time on my back outside.......I saw the beautiful skies, the amazing clouds and how they move, tree branches that hold birds and squirrels......I listened to the sounds of the creeks, I experienced true love from my husband and friends. This storm of dumb, annoying pain is frustrating.....but God has provided His sweet loving kindness and His mercy. For that I am grateful.

Psalm 118:1 
" Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."