Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Remembering His Faithfulness

When I write about the past, it is usually because there is something in the present that is bothering me. A situation I need to trust God in or remember His past faithfulness. It often involves my boys because they have been a huge part of my life, and making it to the end of raising five boys takes a lot of trusting and depending on God.

I’m one of those moms who tend to worry about everything – especially things I cannot see, like what goes on in a boy’s head or heart. Though I know very well Christians aren’t supposed to worry (be anxious for nothing…), I am constantly having to give this over to God. Remembering His faithfulness in the past has been a big help to me. So I am often found traveling down Memory’s Lane in search of examples of God’s hand on our lives, then I write about them.

These poems or stories become to me like monuments erected on page, as demonstrations of His power and presence in the lives of those I trusted in His care. So many years have passed but He has not changed. He has remained faithful, steadfast, and true.

When my boys make decisions that cause the “mother’s heart” in me to cringe, I can know that God is as much in control of their lives now as He was when they were toddlers. You might find me sitting on the couch with a photo album in my hand, thumbing through the pictures with tears rolling down my face, but don’t be alarmed. With every turn of the page I am finding His handprints of faithfulness there, reminding me He has covered each album, each child, each day, with His mercy and Grace.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness”
By Thomas O. Chisholm

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided-
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Dancing the Victory Dance

Those who know me well know I cannot dance. Not because I don’t want to, but because I have two left feet, and I don’t know what a beat is, let alone how to keep it. Yet today I went into my front yard, in the middle of the driveway and did a victory dance. There is no question whether I looked like a fool or not, I am sure I did, but I did not care. I danced, and it felt good! I danced and I sang out there in front of God…and the dog. The reason I danced is because today became a historical moment in my marriage.

There has been a thorn in my flesh and my husband has had the power to remove it, but would not… until today. The thorn was big and it was ugly, and it was parked in the driveway, right where it had died four years ago. To my husband it had almost become invisible. I think he may have even seen through it as he passed by it each day to enter the house, occupied with other things on his mind. Not me, I could no longer bring myself to park in the front of the house because I would have to look at it, so I began parking in the back.

It became a sore spot between me and my husband. We didn’t agree on what to do with it, so nothing was done with it. It just sat there year after year melting in the hot sun, paint cracking, and tires deflating. It took its place in all our Easter pictures, though I tried to angle the camera in a way to keep it out. My grandchildren didn’t understand the concept, and they thought it looked like a good place to hide eggs.

I started feeling like one of the characters in a red-neck joke and it wasn’t very funny. I wanted it out of my life and gone! I was upset with my husband for not making it so. What was he waiting for, decomposition? I began harboring a grudge over this silly green van. Perhaps that is exactly why it would not leave.

God has a way of knowing how to uncover the worst in us. Things we may not even know we are hiding come creeping out of our hearts. The van wasn’t the ugliest thing parked at my house, my attitude was. I had an attitude of pride and I was letting it come between me and my husband’s relationship. I was embarrassed and worried about what other people thought of me more than I was concerned about loving my husband.

One day he just said to me, “OK, get rid of it.” I was shocked! “Are you serious?” I couldn’t believe after all this time he finally agreed to have the van removed. This year we have been married 25 years. Had I finally worn him out? I began feeling a little guilty. Victory didn’t taste as sweet as I thought it would. So what did I do? Absolutely nothing; I did nothing for several days.

I did nothing until he asked me why I hadn’t done anything. That gave me the opportunity to find out if he was really OK with me getting rid of the van, and he was. I think while God was working on my prideful heart, he was working on my husband’s bend toward procrastination, and in the end we both learned some things. We also found out that we would still love each other whether the van left or was buried with us at the end of our lives.

Today it was time for the van to leave. It was kind of sad watching it be cabled up onto a tow truck, all four tires flat. The wheels moaned as they rolled backwards. While I looked at it, I realized how much we had worn it out with all our school field trips and vacations. Its seats hold the memories of my little boys bottoms; never sitting still. There is a soda stain on the floor in the very back, and coffee spilled up front; christened on our many drives together.

For a moment I hesitated to let it go for fear all the wonderful memories of days gone by would leave with it. Before I realized what I was doing, I started waving good bye as though it was an old friend I was going to miss. I watched the tow truck drive away and the green van disappear from view and that was about how long it took me to snap out of it!

It felt good to stand in the driveway, unobstructed; physically and spiritually reclaiming the space. The words to a hymn came bubbling up into my mind and before I knew it I was singing, “There is victory in Jesus!” The old van had taught its lessons and was now gone, with it went the heaviness of disagreements and grudges. My heart was light and I was ready to let the dancing begin!

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Photograph
By Charlotte

Looking through the photographs,
Of times so long ago.
Tiny friends side by side,
Where did those babies go?

Graduating one by one,
Off to college now.
Wasn’t it just yesterday,
The question lingers – how?

How did they grow to be so tall,
So beautiful, so strong?
When it was only yesterday,
They played and skipped along.

The photograph is fading now,
Of friends all in a row.
But as I hold it in my hand,
It seems to make time slow.

It takes me back in memories,
To times now held so dear.
Of days when troubles disappeared,
With the wiping of a tear.

Each face that’s represented,
In this photograph of old.
Has a childhood of memories,
A life story to be told.

May it be of days gone by,
Playing in the sun.
Laughing, singing with their friends,
Having lots of fun.

All those prayers we prayed for them,
And placed before God’s throne.
Today poured out in hope fulfilled,
His hands of mercy shown.

I’m sending you this photograph,
Just to help me say.
His faithfulness has endured,
Through every single day!

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endures to all generations.

(Psalm 100: 5)

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A piece of my testimony... a piece of my heart

His name is David, and he is my oldest son. He will be thirty-three this coming November. It was around this time thirty-two years ago that Roe verses Wade entered into both our lives in a very personal way.

I was sixteen, and I was pregnant. Those two words didn’t seem to go together in the same sentence, especially in 1976. I tried to ignore the truth as long as I could, but eventually the evidence started to show itself.

Thoughts of what I had allowed to happen brought feelings of deep shame, then isolation. My parents had taught me right from wrong, and I professed to be a Christian, though it was obvious I did not live up to the standards of that truth. I knew I had no excuse.

It had been a few years since the court ruling of Roe verses Wade, so I had choices; I just didn’t want to make them. When I finally got the courage to tell a few friends about my situation, I was bombarded with lots of opinions, most of which bore the wisdom and maturity of a typical sixteen-year old girl.

I also heard the stories of those who found this crisis in my life a safe time to confide in me and share their similar experiences. They described abortion procedures they had gone through, some had experienced them repeatedly. I didn’t know much more about abortion, just what my friends had told me. I was also told that the school office would keep my parents from knowing if I had to miss school. I remember thinking, “It must not be too bad if the school will keep it a secret for me.”

I entered into my teens in the days of bra burning (its second or third time around), moms in the work force, girls being allowed to wear slacks to school, and women gaining the right to “choose.” The feminist movement was up front and marching with a powerful force of self awareness. I didn’t realize it then, because it swept me up in its path, but it was really a force of “selfish” awareness. Bringing to top and center one thing above all else – Me, Myself, and I.

So I tossed my brassiere! I really didn’t need it anyway, for lack of something to put in it. Yet, with that one simple act of rebellion, I threw off much more than a bra. I tossed my morals to the wind; that foundation of right and wrong that once seemed so firm beneath my feet when I was younger. In its place I put on an ideology that told me anything goes. Society was telling me I had choices and I could do what I wanted with my own body. You can imagine at age sixteen what some of those choices might be. And some of them you don’t have to imagine, I already mentioned I was pregnant!

This period in my life became my first real earth quake emotionally and spiritually, and I was finding it hard to keep my footing. I was now over four months pregnant and a simple abortion procedure was not going to take care of the “problem.”

I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood during school time and talked to a person I was told was a counselor. She asked me four questions; the date of my last period, did my parents know I was pregnant, how would they feel about it, and did I have medical insurance? Then she informed me that I would have to stay overnight in the hospital. I learned later that the “fetus,” as they called it, was too big for vacuuming, it had to pass through the birth canal. They made the hospital arrangements for me and I went home.

As I began hiding things from my parents, the darkness where I hid them began to engulf my life. I felt dead emotionally, as though the things that represented life had been removed from inside me, laughter, hope, closeness; they were gone. And in their place were fear and hopelessness. My conscience began working on me; I was restless and had no peace.

The time came when Kaiser called to confirm my appointment for the next day. As I put the phone to my ear and opened my mouth, all I can remember is this quivering voice coming out saying, “I’m not coming!” as tears streamed down my face.

I put down the phone that day and from that moment on, I have believed without a doubt that it was God’s Spirit speaking to my heart that put those words in my mouth. As the tears flowed from my eyes, I began to see a glimmer of hope and decided to move toward it. It wasn’t an easy journey and I have made a lot of mistakes (a lot!) along the way, but I will always remember that day as being the day God placed my feet back on the path of life.

In the picture my son is receiving a medal after his return from Iraq in 2004.
Among many other things, he was responsible for stopping a car carrying explosives intended to hurt fellow soldiers and innocent people.
I’m glad he was there to stop it…I thank God he is here.

If you have had an abortion in your past, please do not feel that I am condemning you, that is not my heart. Instead, I would like to share with you the hope that dwells within me. Hope in the One who places our feet on the path of life – Jesus Christ. He has covered every past sin and mistake in my life with His mercy and grace. His forgiveness is complete and it is forever!