Monday, January 24, 2011

Surrender....Even If It Hurts!

 "...a deluded heart misleads him; he cannot save himself, or say, 
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” 
Isaiah 44:20

Saturday morning I met as usual with the ladies who gather weekly for prayer, the Word and fellowship. These ladies have literally carried me through the past few difficult weeks. As leader of this group, it is my responsibility to have a plan, or at least a guide-line for each week. My original thought for the new year, was to talk about New Year's Resolutions and how for most of us....they never work. But due to the accident, I was in Texas when the first Saturday came around, and though I was home for the second Saturday, they spent that morning just loving on me. 

Last week, as I began to think and prepare for Saturday, I kept coming back to the Resolution thought. My initial thought was it was too late in the month to follow through with that (don't ask me why I thought that); but Friday night as I lay in bed, I couldn't get away from it. I finally had to get up and write down the thoughts and scriptures that were coming to my mind. And I knew we were supposed to do communion....

I've never led communion before.....

In a nutshell...the New Year makes me think of a "new start". Resolution means "determination". That makes me think of "I can do this"...a me mentality. We can do nothing in our own strength. The word I felt the Lord kept giving me was surrender. What is it that we are holding onto so tightly that He wants us to surrender to Him this year? Our finances, our marriages, our fears, our failures, our "me-me-me" thoughts and actions. We spent some time in quiet prayer, wrote down those things on paper and have made a commitment to search the scriptures to see what His Word says about them...and to hold one another accountable. Then we sealed it with communion.

It was a holy moment...

We know the enemy will come against us in these matters. He doesn't want us to let go of the chains he has been holding us down with. He will tell us that we can't do it...we can't live without this thing we are holding onto. It's our right to hang onto this. You know what?

It's a lie!

Saturday morning, we made a covenant with God to let go of these things, and we made a covenant with each other to pray for each other. This morning, as I was in prayer, I got this word picture...I don't see visions or anything, I get descriptions.

I was asking the Holy Spirit to lead us and guide each of us through our day. Be our eyes and ears; guard our mouths...and protect us from the enemy. But then this thought came to me.....have you ever bought a really tough piece of meat? It has all these tough fibers in it that you just know will be really hard to chew on. So you lay it out flat on the counter top, get one of those big metal meat cleavers....and start pounding! The cleaver breaks through up tough fibers and loosens up the meat. Then, if you are a really good cook, you find some yummy marinade to soak it in, usually with a vinegar base in it, which aids in the tenderizing process.

Sometimes, our hearts are like that...we know we need to surrender, but we have hung onto it for so long that we have become hardened. And the Holy Spirit has to come and "tenderize" us...sometimes it hurts. But when He is through, He will cover us in His sweet presence, a healing balm, to aid in the tenderizing process and bring healing.

Yesterday the choir sang a song that says,

Holy Spirit, come and fill us
Touch us, change us, rearrange us
Heal us, free us
Lord, we seek Your face.

Wash us, cleanse us
Please forgive us
Mold us, make us
Come and shake us
Lord, let Your glory fill this place.

Some of those things might be a little painful...changing and rearranging, molding, shaking,  Those will change our "composition" so to speak. A little like breaking up the fibers in a tough piece of meat. 

So, what are you holding onto that He wants you to surrender? Usually it is some lie of the enemy that tells us we must hold tight to it. Isaiah 43:18,19 says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!" Letting go can hurt, but as you surrender that thing you have held onto so tightly, and you feel the pain it may bring to let it go.....recognize the work of the Holy Spirit and be thankful.....His healing balm is right behind it!

Love you all!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do You Believe It?

"And when I go and make ready a place for you, 
I will come back again and will take you to Myself, 
that where I am you may be also."
John 14:3

Today we went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It's the first time we have been out since my Mother and Aunt passed away. I thought it would help distract my mind, but it only made me ponder more deeply....

There is a scene in the movie where a little girl whose mother has been taken away says to Lucy Pevensie, "I miss my mom", to which Lucy replies, "I miss my mom, too". I can relate to that statement....

I miss my mom.....

Lucy goes on to tell the little girl that they would see her again....somehow, somewhere. This tied into my thoughts of late. You see, I have been a Christian all my life; I accepted Jesus as my Savior as a little girl. I have always believed in one God, the Father; His Son, Jesus; and the Holy Spirit....three in One. I have always believed that when we die we will go to heaven. I have always believed that  if we don't die before Jesus returns, that He indeed would return and take us to Heaven to live with Him there. 
This is what I was taught....
This is what I read in the Bible....
This I have believed....

I stood at the hospital bedside of my Mother two weeks ago today and told her it was okay....She could let go of this life...we would be alright; Daddy would be alright; it was okay for her to go on to be with Jesus. I sang a song to her that says,
"Someday I leave this earthly dwelling,
Through time and space my soul will soar
And finally see the face of Jesus
And praise His name forevermore."

I told her how exciting it would be to see the face of Jesus....I let her go. And she left this world.

Then I came home. And it wasn't until I was in the car Friday driving to do some mindless errand, alone with my thoughts that I wondered....will I see her again? Is she really seeing the face of Jesus? Do I really believe what I have said I believe all this time? I have never had my beliefs tested in this way. I have never had to say goodbye to someone on this side and believe that I would see them again on the other heaven.

At the end of the movie, the travelers near the end of the world...Aslan's country. Lucy says, "Do you really believe there is such a place?" To which Reepicheep replies, "We have nothing if not belief!"

God knows our thoughts even before we think them. Sunday morning in our church services, there was a word spoken by one of our dear ladies. We were reminded that God is the I AM. We were reminded that there was no other way to heaven but through Him. We were asked....

Do you believe it?

The Bible tells us in the book of John  in the beginning was the Word...with God and was God. Then John tells us that God made everything...the heavens and the earth and all that dwells in them. He goes on to say that God loves us so much, that He sent His one and only Son to die in our place. To be the sacrificial Lamb for our sins. As you continue to read John, you will learn that after His death, Jesus rose again...defeated death and the grave in order that we may have life...eternally. And in John 14 it says that Jesus left to go and prepare a place for us. A place in Heaven where we will dwell with Him...eternally.

  • If I believe that God created the heavens and the earth...and I do; 
  • If I believe that He sent Jesus to die for my sins, to redeem me from death...and I do; 
  • If I believe that Jesus rose from the dead...defeated it...and I do;
  • If I believe that He ascended to Heaven and dwells at the right hand of the Father...and I do;
Then I must believe that He is preparing a place for us...that we would dwell with Him eternally. And I must believe that when Momma and Aunt Jo left this world, they entered Heaven to live with Him... eternally.

Because it's all or nothing. Either I believe all of His Word....or I believe nothing. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God..." All scripture...not just some of it. So this I believe...Yes, I will see Momma and Aunt Jo again! Yes, they really are seeing the face of Jesus!!! And yes, I really do believe what I have been taught all these years. So my question to you is...

Do you believe it?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kindness of Strangers....or Entertaining Angels?

" ..for thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
Hebrews 13:2

I have been blessed in the past two weeks by the kindness and gentle loving I have received from my friends and church family. But I have also been blessed by the kindness of strangers....
  • The friendly, smiling woman sitting next to me on the airplane who, after asking why I was traveling to Dallas became silent...yet quietly handed me a tissue as she saw my tears.
  • The cheerful, chatty car rental agent...always trying to get his customers to purchase upgrades. He was a really good salesman. However, when he discovered why we were there, gave me a free upgrade to a luxury car.
  • The sweet nurse at Momma's bedside, Randel...she was so gentle with her and patient with our questions. She and I spent about an hour talking together about Momma's condition, her final destination and Randel reminded me that He was with her even then, as we spoke.
  • The precious 85 year old woman who owned the florist shop where we purchased the flowers for the funeral services. Her kindness, compassion and even her feisty-ness (which so reminded us of Aunt Jo) made difficult decisions much easier to make. She told my brother-in-law that for $2000 he could have the flowers and the whole shop! That's exactly something my aunt would say....she made us all smile when it was difficult to do so.
  • The amazing doctors who treated Momma with gentleness and respect. They had told us that she was not aware of anything going on around her, yet as they removed the tubes and other devices, they called her by name and spoke gently to her...treating her with respect and dignity.
  • The funeral director, Jeremy, who went above and beyond what anyone expected him to do, or his "job" required him to do...staying up all night to get everything prepared for the services.
  • The ever so kind security guards at DFW who quietly and patiently told me to breathe as I completely broke down in the airport heading home. I'm not sure grief counseling is in their job descriptions!
  • Even the young man sitting next to me on the airplane from DFW to Seattle....drunk as a skunk, as my aunt would say...lending me his phone after mine had died to call my husband and tell him we were in Spokane instead of Seattle. 
(My 4 hour flight turned into 12 hours as we flew into a snowstorm that had just hit Seattle. As they plowed the runway, we circled.....and circled.....and circled....and circled.....until we had to go to Spokane to get more gas to circle....and circle...In Spokane we had to wait to fuel up because of the other planes that had been circling and run out of fuel. Then the snow storm hit Spokane and we had to de-ice before we could fly out again.)

This world is full of broken and hurting people...and we, as believers in Christ, have been called to share with them the Good News of Jesus Christ. But sometimes, when we ourselves are broken and hurting...God sends strangers to us to assist and encourage and bring comfort in our time of need.

So, whether it was the kindness of strangers, or entertaining angels unaware, my hope is that all of this, they saw Jesus in me.....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Can I Say Thanks?

"I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers..."
Philemon 1:4

The last two weeks have been indescribable. 
And it may take me a while to unpack and process it all. 
And it may not make sense for a while.
But I have to begin with "Thank you!"

Monday, January 3rd, I received a phone call from my sister in Texas. That's where I am from...where all my family lives. I was standing in my kitchen slicing up steak to stir fry for dinner. Wasn't expecting to hear from her...was a little surprised, actually. But nothing prepared me for what I was to hear.....

My mother and her sister, my aunt, had just been in a horrible car accident. The details of which were horrendous....sometimes you just don't need to know the details. My aunt passed away shortly after arriving at the hospital. My mother was in critical condition. Both of them had signed DNR's (Do Not Recusitate).

Nothing prepares you for such a phone call.....

They live in a small town in Texas. The hospital there could do nothing for Momma, but they could put her on a respirator and send her to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, about 90 minutes away, in hopes the bigger trauma hospital could save her. The decision was made to do so. Late that night, I received another didn't look good. The doctors told my three sisters that there was too much damage; but they could leave her on the respirator until I arrived....

I can't begin to describe the feelings...
not sure I can even define them yet...
maybe I never will. 

My husband couldn't get off work, but my two oldest boys went with me. The days that followed were filled with horror, pain, sorrow, tears....lots and lots of tears...and grace. 

So much grace!!

The Presence of the Lord was with us every moment of every day; with every decision that had to be made; with every step that we had to take. And to those of you who were aware of this situation and prayed for us and encouraged us and loved on us, I can only say.....
Thank You!!!

As I process all of this and share, you will understand how and why I needed you so much. But for now, just know that every time I said to God, "I can't do this anymore...I can't take anymore...I am done", I would get a text message, a facebook message or an email from one of you. And it would remind me that prayers were going up on our behalf and He was surrounding us all with His love and His strength. I am 50 years old, and I can honestly say I have never in all my life felt so much love bestowed upon me. It has blessed me beyond measure. 

As the days come, I will be able to articulate the ways I knew your prayers and felt His presence. During this extreme time of sorrow, I saw His hand move and knew His love for me in life-changing ways.

We honored my mother, Marjorie Rae Fite Brown and my aunt, Josephine Fite Newton in a double service on Saturday, January 8, 2011. My sisters and I sang "In the Presence of Jehovah" as we laid flowers on their caskets...for that is truly where they are now. 
Momma                                       Aunt Jo
Your continued prayers for our family are greatly appreciated. "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8) and that is where my dear mother and sweet aunt are today....but we miss them!

Love you with all my heart!!!