If we think heaven is so wonderful, why then do we try so hard not to go??

I was contemplating this question this weekend.  Mom made the decision to be moved into a long term care facility and this weekend was the first one she spent there.  She is sharing a room with another lady who is dealing with a host of medical issues.  Throughout the weekend while I was visiting I would overhear this sweet lady begging God to take her home because she was in so much pain.  However, then the nurses would come in to take her to receive treatment that will likely not cure her problem, but prolong the process of the body shutting down and eventually death.  It is a very sad and heartbreaking thing to watch.

I suppose I’m directing these questions towards fellow Christians…  Why is it that we request to be hooked up to machines, have feeding tubes inserted, etc. to slow down or try to prevent the dying process even when we know that our condition is terminal and death unpreventable (which in reality it is anyway)?

Are we not sure of our salvation? Do we not trust God’s Word in regard to eternal life?  These are the things I wonder as we walk this path with Mom and she desires none of those “life saving” measures.  I do not mean to judge anyone who does decide to use them as I do not know what I would do in that situation.  It’s just one of those times where I wonder why we do the things we do.  And I guess I wonder if non-believers ask the same questions when they hear us speak of how awesome our Saviour is and how we cannot wait to spend eternity with Him. Do they ask themselves, “Why then are they doing everything humanly possible to avoid that very thing?”

I don’t have the answers, I just thought I might not be the only one that wonders these types of things.

Advertisements

I know you mean well, but….

A few weeks ago my mother made one of the toughest decisions a person has to make.  She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer 4.5 years ago and has been fighting the good fight with very little time that she was not receiving some sort of chemo treatment ever since.  Each time we held out hope that this would be the one to knock the cancer out.  Each avenue has been exhausted, some of them working for a while, some not, some with almost unbearable side effects.  Throughout this battle we have known there would come a time when she had to decide quality of life over quantity. Unfortunately that time is here.

As we have begun sharing this news with friends and family I’ve noticed a few responses that are well intentioned, but increasingly frustrating the more I hear them.  Let me try to explain:

1)  “We need to pray for God to heal her” or “God can heal her”.  Yes, I do believe that He is all powerful and could do so if that was His will.  Many of us have been praying for that since the beginning.  I also know that it may not be the plan He has.  I and my family need to prepare and plan for the outcome that seems most probable and if He would choose to heal her then to God be the glory.  But honestly, to God be the glory either way because she would not have made it this long and impacted so many lives if not for her faith and His mercy.

As I have pondered why this seems to bother me I realized what the main reason is:

I think we need to be careful especially if dealing with a relatively new believer, or someone who is not a believer at all, when we focus solely on the healing of the earthly body.  What happens if that is not His plan?  It could make someone that is not very solid yet in their faith (and truly even some of us that are) very angry with God if He chooses to take her from this world and from us under such heartbreaking circumstances.

Also, yes, we need to ask Him for a miracle for her, but I think we also need to acknowledge that if it became commonplace it would cease to be a miracle and therefore He may choose not to grant our request no matter how bad we want Him to.  On that note, as I was thinking about her life I realized (or perhaps God reminded me) that her whole life really has been a miracle.  She was born in 1953 only weighing approximately 2 pounds.  It is truly amazing that even without all the technological advances and knowledge that we have today a baby that tiny survived.  But she did, and because of that, no matter what happens we rejoice in the 64 years that we have had and the generations of us that are here all because He knew the plan He had for her.

2)  “Have you tried this alternative treatment” or “(insert miracle cure here) worked for my friend’s uncle’s wife’s sister”.  I get it, no one wants to see someone hang up their fighting gloves and stop the battle, and everyone wants to believe that the next thing is going to turn everything around.  Perhaps some of these things might have had some benefit a few years ago, maybe even several months ago.  It is my understanding that  the cancer is and symptoms are such now that it will take a flat out miracle from the Lord for the decision to be different.  The fact of the matter is that she is tired, in constant pain, and ready to go home and be with our Lord.  Truly that means for her that though the battle may be lost the war has been won.

Please know that everyone who has touched our lives during this time holds a special place in our hearts.  We do know that each and every response is given out of love.  I just ask that our friends and family respect the path that mom has chosen.   She and dad did not make this decision hastily or without considering all the options. These next few months may be the hardest any of us have ever had to walk out so we need all the love and support we can get.  I have received so much already and I don’t even know right now what I need.  Truly I am reeling both from trying to come to terms with this decision and from the outpouring of love and support from my friends.  Even in a terrible time like this I am a blessed woman.

 

Chains

IMG_1923

I took this picture today while playing around with some lenses on my camera.  When I was going back through them later a few thoughts struck me.  I noticed that the chain closer to the camera is a little fuzzy and that chain appears lighter in color than the one further away.  I know that this is just an object and the reason it appears this way is because of lighting, angle, and various other conditions when the picture was taken.  But then I started viewing it in a more spiritual light.

How often is it that we can see the chains that bind someone else up so much more clearly than we can see our own?  How often do we view their issues as so much darker and more sinister than ours?

Maybe it is partially due to proximity.  We are so close to our own issues that they become a little fuzzy and we don’t see them as clearly for what they are.  Isn’t it always easier when someone else is telling you about their problem to see each circumstances or “links” that got them to this point?

Also, these are just two pieces of the same chain.  Perhaps another consideration before we start making waves about someone elses “chains” is that we better make sure we aren’t bound up in the same ones.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try to help someone break free of the things that keep them bound up in sin, I’m just saying we need to be cognizant of those (or similar) things in our own lives as well.  It is always best to remember to turn our focus back to the one that can truly break those chains (Jesus).  It has been my observation and experience that the best testimony is a changed life (mine/yours).  If they don’t see the chains broken in my/your life why would they believe He could do it in theirs?  Don’t be afraid to share it when those chains are broken….someone out there needs to hear it….but please, do it in love.

Singleness – I choose it (at least for now)

The questions have come up several times these last few weeks, Have you found a man yet?  Have you tried online dating, singles groups, shouting from the rooftops “hey there single men, I’m over here”, etc.  (ok that last one might be an exaggeration, but not by much).  I know that it comes from a place of love and seems to be a logical topic of conversation, but it can get frustrating sometimes.   It can feel to the single person that they are not complete without a spouse, or that you are not really “grown up” unless you have a marriage and a family.  There are a few things that we should keep in mind.

1.)  Some people are called to be single.  Paul discusses this in 1 Corinthians 7: “Sometimes I wish everyone were single like me—a simpler life in many ways! But celibacy is not for everyone any more than marriage is. God gives the gift of the single life to some, the gift of the married life to others. 8-9 I do, though, tell the unmarried and widows that singleness might well be the best thing for them, as it has been for me. But if they can’t manage their desires and emotions, they should by all means go ahead and get married. The difficulties of marriage are preferable by far to a sexually tortured life as a single.”

I’m going to get really real here for a second.  In my “pre-Christian” life I was no saint.  I lived with boyfriends two different times and we all know what that leads to.  Since becoming a Christian and ending that last relationship (a story for another time) I have not so much as kissed a man in 7 years.  I’m not saying that so that anyone thinks I’m some holier than thou epitome of Christian singledom because I’m certainly not.  I’m just saying that it’s not impossible.  Is it easy?  Not really.  I’ll be honest, when I’m around my married friends that have a loving, affectionate relationship with their spouse I do think it might be nice to have that one day.  Will I?  I don’t know, but I am at a point right now where I am content with whichever way God leads me.  I will say that I would rather live out the rest of my days single (and celibate) than go back to how it (and I) was before I found a relationship with Christ.

2.) Just because you are married and have a family doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate the single folks around you into your life in some way.

I realize that marriage and a family equates to busyness and there isn’t always a lot of (or any) free time for getting together with friends and that time with family comes first.  It doesn’t always have to be an either/or situation though.  I cannot tell you how much it means to me when some of my married friends just incorporate me into their regular family activities.  Maybe it’s dinner, or sitting around the backyard while your kids play, whatever it is, it’s just nice to be included.  Loneliness, to me, is really the hardest part of being single.  I think we all know how painful it can feel to be excluded. It is so nice, and relaxing, to just be included like a normal person and not “oh look at poor single (insert name) over there, we need to help find her/him a mate”.  I may not have (or particularly desire) a family of my own, but it doesn’t mean I can’t love you and yours.

If you are one of the people who has a tendency to ask these questions of your single friends, please do not feel bad.  It really does not upset me, but I know for some people it is more of a struggle.  I also know that many of my friends, Christian and non-Christian alike, probably think I’ve lost my ever loving mind to say that I’d even consider being celibate for the rest of my life.  If I’m completely honest it would be terribly difficult especially in society today and the bombardment of sexual imagery that is all but impossible to avoid.  However, unless I find a man that has a love and commitment for Jesus and from that can offer me a lifetime commitment and love, I’d rather just stay single.

So, there you go. I’m going to get off my single person soap box now.  I love all of my friends…single, married, engaged, kids or no kids.  I (and I would imagine many of my single counterparts) just want to be included in your life.  Many of you already do this and for that I can not thank you enough.  It is in those seemingly ordinary moments of life that some of the most special memories come about.

And for those of you that don’t already know….Single

This post was a little heavy so I figured I’d end it with a little humor.

 

Inspire – What does it mean to you?

I hear and see this word a lot (thanks Michelle) and today I was pondering, who and/or what is it that inspires me.  Inspire as defined by Mirriam-Webster dictionary is to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration; to exert an animating, enlivening, or exalting influence on;  to spur on;  affect.

inspire-400x304

First and foremost I am inspired by God and by His word.  2 Timothy 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  Can I do good deeds without God?  Sure, plenty of people perform “good” deeds every day without proclaiming to know Him.  However, a more biblical understanding of “good works” relates to all aspects of our thinking and conduct before God.  We must be rooted in His word and in Christ.  As we become rooted in Him we should naturally begin to bear fruit.  The fruit that we bear may also be referred to as “good works”.  Some examples may be sharing the good news of our Savior with lost people we encounter in our daily lives,  treating our families/coworkers/friends/strangers with respect, helping your “neighbor” whether that be financially or through other helpful acts depending on their need and your abilities, etc., etc.

Secondly are the people in my life that inspire me.  I will share a few here, but this is by no means an exhaustive list.

My parents – They have always inspired me, but especially in the last 4.5 years since mom’s diagnosis with ovarian cancer.  Mom’s ability to keep a good attitude and a smile on her face a majority of the time blows most peoples minds.  Does she have her difficult moments?  Absolutely, but she doesn’t dwell there.  Her faith and belief that God is working in and through this trial is unwavering and she will share it with anyone that asks…and probably some that don’t.  Dad has been a rock through all of the doctor’s visits, treatments, hospitalizations, and the difficult days at home.  He has supported Mom every step of the way.  I hope to one day have a marriage and relationship like theirs that stands the test of time.Anniversary picture

The Hills -Kiona and Adam are faithful followers of Christ, worship leaders, and parents to 14 (yes, I said 14) children.  God has entrusted them with loving and raising these 14 precious souls and I have to say they are doing a bang up job.  I am always amazed at the bond that everyone in that family shares.  There are challenges, sure, as would be expected with that many people (and personalities) under one roof, but the love they have for each other is evident as soon as you meet them.  It has been a pleasure to welcome one of their daughters into my home as she makes that oh so important transition into adulthood, and figuring out what the future holds for her.  Having experienced the fruits of their parenting I can say with some authority that they have done and are doing a wonderful job.  They inspire me to be more intentional to spend time with the young people in my sphere of influence.  It is important who they have in their lives to look up to and it’s important that what they see points them towards (and not away from) the One who formed them, loves them and desires a personal relationship with them.The Hills

Michelle – She certainly fits the animating and enlivening definition.  If you’ve had the pleasure of spending any time with her through church, Tres Dias, or any number of other settings then you probably know what I mean.  It’s more than that which inspires me though.  It is her passion and love for the Lord, her enthusiasm for sharing and teaching His word, and her commitment to trusting the Lord through all things whether good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable that inspires me to pursue a more intimate relationship with Him and a deeper knowledge of His word.  Because we are so different, but have become such good friends I am also inspired to step outside of my comfort zone and be more open and receptive to people, willing to share more of myself, and more apt to pursue friendships rather than sitting back waiting and hoping they will magically appear on their own.  Finally, in helping her in pursuit and implementation of the ministry in which God has called her to, I have become more in tune with the passions and abilities that He has given me and ways in which I can gain experience and potentially use them for His glory.

10527304_10152551859101374_19051113066796335_n

I could list so many more, but I’m also interested in you.  Are there people in your life that inspire you?  Maybe family, friends, teachers, co-workers….you name it.  I would love to hear about them, but more importantly maybe you should let them know.  Just a thought…

A Lesson In Choosing Joy

We had a bit of a mishap at my house this week, one that resulted in lots of soggy towels and part of a hallway now consisting of warped laminate flooring that must be replaced (and of course they don’t make that particular one anymore).  Could I have let this ruin my week, causing me and those around me to be in terrible spirits?  Sure I could, but then it hit me.  Even if I get upset, it doesn’t change the fact that the floor is messed up and has to be replaced.

What would getting mad do?

Cause strife and conflict in an otherwise great friendship and make our home an uncomfortable place to be for one or both of us.

What is the other option?

Chalk it up to what it is, an unfortunate accident, a learning opportunity in the world of “adulting” where you have to be willing to explain what happened and do whatever it takes to make it right.

What have I learned?

Whenever possible offer mercy. In the grand scheme of things it’s just a minor annoyance.  The floor will be repaired next week, but if I had chosen to be angry and say unkind things our friendship could have taken a lot longer to repair.   Will she ever live this down? Probably not, but that’s just the nature of our relationship.

When someone comes to you and admits they’ve made a mistake, whether it be your friend, your spouse, your children….choose them, the joy they bring to your life cannot be replaced.  That floor, that broken window, whatever the case may be… that can be replaced.  It may not be as perfect as it once was, but let it serve as a reminder that you chose what was most important…your relationship with those God has placed in your life.  Let’s show them the grace and mercy that He has shown us.

The Joy of Friendship

After spending this past weekend with 100+ women and observing many kinds of friendships, I started to contemplate the questions “What is it that draws us together and makes us want to walk this crazy life together?” and “How do we grow and foster these relationships?”.
Have you encountered someone that is so different from you that you initially push them away?  (Guilty!!) 
Take another look, spend some quality time with them. You might just realize that you have found someone that fills a spot in your life you didn’t even know was empty.  Maybe you are like me, quiet, reserved, slow to open up to people and then you encounter that bubbly, outgoing, always moving extrovert.  The initial thought one or both of you have may be “this person is going to drive me crazy”.  That’s a possibility, but it’s also possible that those very things that are so different complement you in ways you never expected.  Perhaps that person running wide open all the time needs a friend she can depend on, an anchor in the crazy storms of life, someone that is steady and unwavering in her support no matter what.  The one that’s never met a stranger?  She might be the very one to inspire you to step outside your comfort zone, chase that dream, be and do more than you imagined you could.
How do you know when you’ve met one of those special people that God places in your path?
When you are weary, their mere presence gives you a sense of rest because you know you don’t need to be anything other than exactly who and what you are.  God gives us these special friends to sharpen us, to encourage us, to love us in our triumphs and more importantly through our struggles.   They are a small glimpse of the enormous love He has for us.
What about those differences?
When it comes to communication, give them grace, not everyone is wired the same way.  I may be the type to reach out every day, she may not respond until several days have gone by.  You know what, that’s ok.  What matters is do my words encourage her, did my token of appreciation or affection make her smile, does she in some way feel God’s love for her through my words and actions.
Is there a chance that at some point she will hurt or disappoint you? 
Most likely, we are after all human. The only true and perfect friend that will never hurt you is Jesus.  If that happens that best thing we can do is offer mercy and forgiveness.  Love her like Jesus loves her.  Odds are in a lot of cases your hurt and disappointment are an unintended consequence of things she has going on in her own life.  Don’t harbor resentment, communicate with her.
Do you have a friend that means the world to you?
Call her, text her, e-mail her, let her know that she’s an important part of your life.  Maybe she hears it all the time and that’s great, but maybe your words are just the boost she needs to get through the next few minutes, hours, or days. I know, to share with someone how much they mean to you is to put your heart on the line, it is a level of trust not reserved for just anyone.  How much joy it will bring to her heart though, to receive that confirmation that she is loved and cared for.