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Braking Points

Pausing in the midst of Life to ponder, pray and find footing to continue.

Month

March 2018

Looking Reasons in all the Wrong Places

IMG_6116I admit I have not read Kate Bowler’s books, not even the one whose title and editorial reviews, EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON–AND OTHER LIES I HAVE LOVED, led me to the thoughts I am sharing here.  As I get older the platitudes get thinner, like trying to breath at 14,000 feet, which is why I want to cling so much closer to the scripture and less to human wisdom.  and to real life folks who know what it is like to be gob smacked by LIFE on PLANET EARTH and then turn around to receive blessings they did not one thing to deserve.  I do pray more when I have been gob smacked,

Everything happens for a reason?
Really?
There are paths I have taken
Selfishly, without regard for consequences
Or foolishly despising the idea that I might
Stumble and fall head first into a pile of manure
Of my own making…S—t happens, nonsense
There are consequences to guzzling toxins,
Whether toxic thoughts, foods, attitudes, or people
The body, mind and spirit can only handle so much garbage
And yet I have indulged in garbage, taken it in
And poured it out. . .and fallen into it.

Everything happens for a reason?
Really?
Disease, pestilence, famine, poverty, EVIL with all caps?
Endlessly occurring all around
Pouring out on the masses
Coming to roost in folks we love
And on our enemies…well, maybe..NO
Trains derail, planes crash, Tsunamis batter
Cancer cells metastasize, joints ache, bones break
Outside the garden, where all was well
The world festers with weeds and thorns
Broken systems, broken people, including me.

So, perhaps the phrase—
Everything happens for a reason—
Softens the reality of life in a fallen state.
At any rate, like all platitudes it plays out best
When I apply it to someone else
The mother whose child has died—
the husband learning that his wife has Alzheimer’s—
the friend diagnosed with Stage lV cancer—
the family living in their car
Applying it to myself as life twists my insides
Doesn’t play out as well—Imagine that!
BUT if I look for God in the midst of brokenness
I do indeed find him there.

 

Everything happens for a reason?
Whether true or not, EVERYTHING that
Happens transforms me.
Presents choices. Presents an opportunity
To turn to God or turn away
To run, to hide, to stand
To rest in the assurances of God

Or restlessly fidget with my own inadequacies
While I may struggle with ‘everything happens for a reason’,
I do believe in everything that happens God works
To bring me closer to the Divine

So I can choose to believe in His grace or Whine
Somedays I waver between the two.
How about you?

 

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He Heals the Brokenhearted

‘Have you ever been lonely? Have you ever been blue? Know what? I have, too. At nearly 73 years I read my granddaughter’s blog and I am reminded of a comment I once read in book…’it is never too late to have a happy childhood.’ I want to reach out and rescue my grandchildren, my children from heart breaks, to race in and save the day. I want to prevent them from the hurts of the world, to heal all their diseases, to mend all their wounds, to leap in front of the speeding bullets the world throws at them and to keep them from making all the mistakes I made or at least the ones they make themselves.

BUT I cannot! You see I have more brokenness, more wounds, more cracks in my veneer than they will ever know. And yet, I also have a Lord who walks through the fire with me, who carries me through the raging waters, who cleans me with his blood.

So I share my granddaughter’s post knowing that God allows wounds, sometimes God wounds us. BUT everything works to bring us to him. He longs to restore us, to give us joy.

It is never too late to have a happy childhood.

““Though I sent my great army against you— those swarming locusts and hopping locusts, the destroying locusts and the cutting locusts that ate your crops— I will pay you back for those years of trouble.”
‭‭Joel‬ ‭2:25‬ ‭NCV‬‬

God restores and renews over and over again.

Barefoot & Blonde

As I was driving to work this morning I was listening to the song “Great Are You Lord.” A particular lyric stuck out to me, “You give hope, You restore every heart that is broken.” 

This line really hit me hard and as I drove I couldn’t stop the overflow of tears, but at the same time God plastered a super cheesy smile on my face. No matter what has caused your heart to break, God restores EVERY heart that is broken. Let me say that again… no matter how much it hurts now God restores E V E R Ysingle heart that is broken. How amazing is it to know that this pain you’re feeling right now, it’s not forever, it won’t always be this way. You won’t always feel this seemingly unbearable pain, you will feel joy again.

God is using whatever storm you’re going through to…

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Lydia and Abigail–A Tale of Two Sisters

Let me tell you a story, part truth, part fiction, because my mind tends to imaginings.

It was the worst of times followed by the best of times.  There was death and then there was life.  For there are  two sisters, one who died before she was born and one born ten months after the first one died. On November 10, 1997 I had lunch with my daughter Brandee at Wendy’s in Madisonville, KY just before her scheduled OB appointment. She was expecting our first granddaughter, who already had a name, Lydia Elizabeth. Just the weekend before our son Scott and daughter in law, Martha had been to visit with our grandson Jonathan, so we had had both grandsons Jordan [Brandee’s] and Jonathan. It had been great to have them together. Still the idea that a girl would soon brighten our lives thrilled us.

At lunch, Brandee confided that she was a bit anxious to see her doctor, because she had not felt Lydia move since the previous day. “I will feel better once I hear her heartbeat.” She said.

Unfortunately, there was no heartbeat not in the doctor’s office or at the hospital for a confirmation ultrasound while I sat holding my daughter’s hand [my son in law worked in Tennessee at the time and was on his way]. Brandee, whose faith has since she was a child amazed me, through tears said “I know God has a purpose, but I don’t know what it is.” The silent ultrasound mocked our platitudes. I was hurt. I was angry. If I were God, I would have made our Lydia’s heart come alive and beat again. All I could do was hold my hurting daughter.

SIDE NOTE: Terry and I have ever since began praying for unborn babies and the parents as soon as we hear of the pregnancy right up until birth and sometimes long afterward. I do not think that God punished any of us for not praying enough, but we want to acknowledge that as natural as pregnancy is, life is fragile and we want to be connected to the one who gives life and sustains it.

On October 9, 1998, Abigail Jo Foster entered the world, a healthy robust child. At the same time in heaven, Lydia leaned forward off her Grandmother Jo Nell’s lap giggling with delight. ‘My Sissy!’ She proclaimed. ‘I LOVE HER SO MUCH!’ The Lord was so delighted by her response that He appointed her as Abigail’s number one encourager. When Abigail succeeded at learning to walk, talk and give orders to everyone, Lydia clapped her hands with delight, ‘That’s my sister, she is one strong willed girl. I love her.’ Abigail in the meantime began to alternately look forward to Lydia’s interventions and the random thoughts that often bombarded her and bat them away from her.

Likewise when Abigail failed to take chances or perform in public, like when the kindergarteners in her class were rewarded by getting to do the Chicken Dance in a school assembly and Abigail chose to stay in the classroom with the kiddos who were detained, Lydia got right in her head and planted seeds of courage. Abigail did not appreciate anyone planting anything in her head, but Lydia kept right on. Later those seeds grew and with lots of encouragement, praise and love both earthly and heavenly , Abigail began to throw off the basket that covered her light. Lydia danced and sang and cheered right along with her little sister.

When Abigail sulked, ranted, raved and grew incredibly selfish at times, Lydia scolded her gently, though had she been on earth she might have smacked her one. When Abigail fed Frank, then Izzy and Clay, calfs abandoned by their mothers, Lydia stayed right with her and relished the dedication and hard work. Though Abigail and she had never met physically, the sister bond tightened over the years. Abigail noticed the nudges, the cheers, the scolding, but largely thought they came from her own head.

When at fifteen Abigail’s friend died in a car accident, Lydia rushed to meet Abigail’s friend near the portal of heaven, embracing her and loving her while at the same time reaching out to her hurting little sister to comfort her. From a front row seat in heaven Lydia has witnessed Abigail’s accomplishments, disappointments, joys, sorrows with a confidence that everything works together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose. With her own place in heaven secure, she has watched and nurtured Abigail’s faith along with her parents, grandparents, and others.

Being a decisive person herself, Lydia finds Abigail’s indecisiveness a bit unsettling, nudging her here and there to get on with it. She also encourages her to be more adventurous and to live LIFE to the fullest. Lydia never took a breath on earth, but she knows heaven well.  And she sees what life really is and wants Abigail’s life to have meaning and purpose even though she is earth bound.  GO FOR IT! Is the cheer she shouts at Abigail daily, along with LOVE OTHERS!, BE KIND!, LAUGH! CRY! FOR HEAVENS SAKE LIVE LIKE YOU ARE ALREADY IN HEAVEN–CAREFREE!  Abigail does not hear the shouts though LYDIA screams as loud as she can.  She does, however, feel little brain pinches and wonderings. . .which frankly annoy her a lot

Sisters, What are you going to do with them?  One with her feet on the earth and the other firmly settled in heaven, but still connected, still sisters.

Whatever happens in Abigail’s life, her sister in heaven, knows that someday they will meet, laugh, giggle, dance and sing together. Until then she and God have a deal, Lydia is Abigail’s number one Cheerleader!

As a grandmother to both these sisters I feel strongly they are connected even though they never met each other in this world.

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A Girl & Her Grandparents

For 23 years Terry and I have been grandparents with three of our grandchildren near by and five of them 600 miles away. Proximity makes a difference, not in the love one has for grands, but in the opportunities for brow beating–excuse me! I meant to write ‘influence’. Abigail’s blog brings to mind various memories. I suspect her Papa, Papaw and Nana have similar responses. We all feel fortunate to have had our grands in our lives. Terry did indeed provide childcare for Abigail and her older brother Jordan from the time their Mom went back to work until they were in kindergarten with some external child care also being provided. He did this while pastoring a church filled with wonderful folks to whom family was very important. They accompanied him to the various homes, hospital rooms, retirement homes. When Jordan was an infant, I would often come in from work to find Jordan over Papa’s shoulder asleep while Terry composed his sermons, took care of correspondence, or did research at his computer.

While we tried to make MOMENTS with our Oklahoma grandchildren, our Kentucky grandchildren just kind of filled our moments. Abigail as an infant and toddler rewrote the grandparent manual. From the git go she was a force to be reckoned with. While Jordan had relaxed eating often nursing or taking a bottle with Papa at a slow pace. Abigail sucked her food down in a few minutes in order to get on with life. Her problem solving skills involved a lot of observation and planning. She would sit on a blanket and access an object on the edge. Rather than heading after it , she would pull on the blanket and bring it to her. It is like we have telescopic views of our Oklahoma grandkids and microscopic views of our Kentucky ones. Love them all, but I am especially close to this one.

Barefoot & Blonde

When thinking of my grandparents there’s one word that comes to mind: blessed. Throughout my nineteen years of living I’ve ALWAYS had my grandparents in my life. Looking back, I can’t imagine it any other way. My grandparents are my biggest supporters, my rocks, my shoulders to cry on. I know that no matter what, I can turn to any of them and they’ll welcome me with open arms. I don’t think I can ever express just how much all four of them mean to me. So here is a little peek into just how great they are in my eyes.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 11.29.59 PMMy Papa is one of the greatest men I know. He’s got a HUGE heart, and a great love for God. My Papa has had to put up with me since day one, which I’m sure wasn’t an easy task. When my Mom went back to work, he was…

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FATHER, ALMIGHTY, CREATOR–EVERYTHING I AM HINGES ON WHAT I BELIEVE ABOUT THESE WORDS

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I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth. Do you? Do I? Or, do we equivocate? The extent to which I believe this initial statement in the Apostles’ Creed establishes the lens by which I see the world, history, science, education, conservation of nature, people. Indeed the lens by which I view everything. C.S. Lewis and Eugene Price both avowed atheists before their conversions FIRST came to belief in GOD as the origin of all creation before becoming Christians. Their stories are found in SURPRISED BY JOY and MY BURDEN IS LIGHT.

In the commandments given to Moses it is what hinges all the commandments together. HEAR, O ISRAEL. THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE.  YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE HIM.

SO, to recite these words while holding views that eliminate God from creation or limit God’s role in creation, or question his parenthood over All then I would be better off not saying them. Not because, the Creed says that, but because the Scriptures say that. Do I believe science and God oppose one another or do I believe that God created the clues in the Universe and the curiosity in humankind that seeks answers and solutions and knowledge to unlock the gates to discovery and invention and scientific processes? Do I believe every human carries within them a spirit stamped with the DNA of God Almighty. Do I believe the words of Genesis, ‘Let us create mankind in our own image. So male and female, he created them.’

So, is it empty recitation or awe filled proclamation. Do I speak a truth I believe or bear false witness while blasting the whole idea of God Almighty creating heaven and earth in favor of man’s theories which discard or dilute his power and action?

I believe in God the Father Almighty Creator of Heaven and Earth!

What is your stand?

I BELIEVE IN . . .ADJUSTING MY VIEW OF THE APOSTLES’ CREED

 

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I believe in. . .thus begins the Apostles’ Creed, the oldest of Christian creeds. Millions of Christians around the world recite these words in church weekly, others more often, some never and some use other Christian statements of belief [Nicene] to collectively declare the tenets of their faith.

IMG_6107I grew up in a church tradition where such liturgy had been discarded as unnecessary and frankly, a bit suspicious, especially if it was merely rote recitation or used as standard for acceptance or rejection for church membership or access to Communion. From an early age I heard, ‘no creed but Christ’, no book but the Bible’, ‘we are Christians only, but not the only Christians’. I grew up believing and still frankly do that Jesus established Holy Communion [The Lord’s Supper] as a Sacrament, though I admit I never heard that particular word until I was well into my teens. We celebrated Communion every Sunday and often at special services. Baptism was by immersion at the age of ‘accountability’ [usually 11 or 12 years of age following a Pastor’s class] on a statement of faith—did they sneak a creed in on us—that went something like, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God, and do you accept him as your personal Lord and Savior?” The appropriate answer of course was, ‘I do.’ After which baptism occurred.

So while other Christians were baptized with less water and some as infants, while others celebrated their first Communion around 7 years old, followed by Confirmation classes at what my tradition called the age of accountability, I have discovered that we are more alike than different. Some of us have drifted from the faith of our childhoods, some have deepened faith, some struggle to find their faith footing among a plethora of world views, many non-Christian or even anti-Christian.

I am sharing this so that whoever reads this can understand that the path I have traveled to embracing the Apostles’ Creed as a powerful way to succinctly express Christian doctrine.

As I age, rather than closing up, huddling in my self built bunker, I want to open my heart and mind and body to receive ALL God has for me to grow in Love. . .His Love, His Grace, His Power. I want to firmly plant my feet in the concrete of Jesus, but to open wide my eyes to see and embrace life rather than just waiting for ‘Heaven’. Living here, eyes open, heart open, loving, laughing, suffering, from the hour I first believed prepare me for EVERLASTING LIFE. I won’t say heaven will be less wonderful, if I waste time or hide out here on earth, but I do believe personally it opens my eyes to the blessings here and now. I want other Christians and even those who have other faith traditions or no tradition at all to see and understand God’s love and action in their lives. And as I age I have more opportunities to bless others, even if it is only to pray that they might know God loves them.

That is one reason I presenting this commentary and Terry and I are hosting a two week Lenten Study on the Apostles’ Creed at 6 PM EDT, Sunday in our home in Florida. And for those of you in Kentucky, I hope we can do this for a longer period of time when we return. Among other resources we are using Matt Chandler’s study guide along with the Bible. This is not a lecture, but a sharing group and all are welcome. This is not a gathering that seeks to pull anyone into a specific church tradition, but instead to celebrate the Oneness with Have one with the other as Christians.

IMG_1105The Apostles’ Creed is not merely words generated by men, nor does it have special mystical power, like an incantation. The words find their origin in Scripture, both [and this may surprise some] Old and New Testament. The words for me embrace the whole of the Bible beginning with Genesis, ‘In the Beginning, God’, the ‘Word became Flesh’, and ‘Come, Lord Jesus, Come’. Not only do they center me on the Trinity, but on the importance of the Church [the Body of Christ with its many parts, UNITED, UNIVERSAL], the reality of our own accountability before Christ and EVERLASTING LIFE.

SO consider yourself invited.*

*NO ONE PUT ON THE SPOT OR PREACHED TO–PROMISE!

 

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