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TRIBUTE TO MY SON

December 27th, 2011

        

My son turns fifty today.  I am sitting in his recliner, sharing the day with him, thinking about the incredible blessing he has been to me over the years, and absolutely still is.  Fifty years and six months ago, I was unable to look down the road to envision how the total upheaval in my life would weave its way into such a wonderful story.

That was when a sixteen year old junior in high school visited her family doctor to be treated for a bladder infection, only to be informed that she was pregnant.  What?  I could hardly believe that report, and neither could my mother.  I was very naïve about things like sex and reproduction, although I had obviously experimented, once.  I really believed something like this could not happen if you were very careful.  Apparently I did not understand the concept of careful. 

That was the beginning of some very dark and painful days for me.  My parents were furious about my being pregnant, and they expressed their displeasure early and often.  I expect they were also experiencing some shame, being the owners of a small business in a small town where everyone would be whispering.  I was also experiencing shame, being required to quit school and miss my senior year and graduation.  In those days, you did not say, “I’m pregnant;” you said “I have to get married.”  So I got married – in a pink dress.  I might as well have been forced to wear a scarlet letter on my chest for the shame I felt over the matter.  I must admit, I was so consumed with simply surviving the whole ordeal that I did not think much about the incredibly awesome package I was carrying in my womb.

That is, not until I began to understand the meaning of what was called ‘going into labor.’  My dad had advanced me some money so I could buy my new husband an electric razor for Christmas, with the understanding that I would work off the debt.  So this particular morning, even though I had an intense back ache and all I wanted to do was curl up and cry, I headed to the bowling alley to help my dad with the cleaning.  I complained about having to drag that industrial vacuum cleaner around, my dad barked at me for being quick to take the money and slow to fulfill my end of the bargain, and I ran out the door crying.  Several hours later I called my mom because I had a terrible pain in my stomach.  She took me to the doctor and then to the hospital, and after several hour of extreme discomfort, I delivered my little bundle of joy. 

He was the sweetest, most gentle, sunny little boy – a delight to be around and a joy to have for my very own.  Who could have known that motherhood would be so rewarding, such a miraculous gift from God!  I still marvel that He entrusted this precious package into my care.  I will be forever grateful, and in looking back, I know that the painful beginning was a very small sacrifice for the reward I received in return.

Our early days were quite normal and quite good, adding three girls to the family.  My ‘favorite son’ remained a delightfully sunny child, easy to raise and easy to love.  But the days became more of a challenge as the family went through a divorce and the kids experienced life with a single mom, and later on, life with a single mom with a drinking problem.  Those were some pretty dark times and all of my kids suffered as a result of my many wrong choices.  My son did his best to work through challenges not of his own making, while he navigated through his teenage years.  I will be forever grateful that he took the lead in caring for his siblings while I was working and while I was off chasing some illusion that I never found.  Needless to say, I could tell some stories.

We all got through those times, each in our own way, and no doubt came out more seasoned, wiser, and definitely more able to follow the path God had set out for us. I would love to be able to go back and change many of the choices I made, but I would never want to change who each of us has become.  

God blessed my son with an amazing wife and two wonderful children.  Later his joy was increased when his children added very special spouses to the family, and then two perfect grandchildren.  Although his life has had many challenges along with the many rewards, I am guessing he would not want to change much of it.

Today my son is fifty years old.  He has seen a lot and done a lot, but I believe there are still a great many blessings awaiting him.  He and I have had our ups and downs, and I must admit that some of our downs were quite painful, but today our relationship is better than I would have ever asked for.  He could not be more respectful or more loving or more caring.  I could not ask for more than he gives me, other than perhaps a bigger bed in the guest room.  My son’s integrity is above reproach.  He is loving, honorable, trustworthy, extremely faithful, fun-loving, and honest; he is a son to be extremely proud of and a man to be admired.  I believe his second fifty years will be even greater than the first fifty.  I believe God has big plans for him, and I believe he will walk them out in amazing ways.

Lord, I thank you for changing my life fifty years and nine months ago.  Thank you for giving me a son; one I am extremely proud of, one I love and admire and honor on this special day.  I love you, Bob.  Happy Birthday.

IN THE WILDERNESS

December 5th, 2011

      

Help me, Lord!  I feel like I am in a wilderness, in a dry place where there is scarcely any of that sweet refreshment that can only be supplied by You.  I have searched my soul and determined that nothing is wrong, nothing is out of place, nothing unusual has come against me.  But neither am I getting any new revelation.  In my head, I know God has not moved away from me, and I certainly have not moved away from Him.  It simply is quiet in my soul, eerily quiet.  I want to write, but my brain is devoid of words.  I desire a dream or a vision or a word, but nothing comes.  Just quietness – all around me.  I begin to feel anxious about the possibility of losing my gift of writing.  I know I must immediately take that thought captive, and pitch it out.

Now is the time to declare out loud:  “I have given my whole self to the Lord; my all, my everything.  Some time ago I determined to come into agreement with Him and with His will for me, no matter what.  So, even if He were to remove my gift of writing (and no doubt it is solely a free gift from Him, something impossible for me to accomplish on my own), or any other gift He has granted me, all would be well with my soul.  The Lord gives me gifts and anointings in His good timing and for His good pleasure, and so long as I remember that, I will never be disturbed if He removes them.”  That’s my declaration and I’m sticking to it!

I lean back, take in a long breath, and quiet my soul.  I am fully aware of my desperate hunger for more of Him.  I remind myself that without God’s instilling His hunger in me, I would be satisfied with the status quo, and I would not be motivated to go deeper.  Unless He infuses me with passion, I would remain passionless.  Without Holy Spirit’s outpouring of life into my soul, I would be among the walking dead.  Pondering that thought, I sink to my knees and thank Him for pouring life into my bones and for calling me to dwell with Him in the Kingdom, even while still dwelling here on earth.  The truth is:  I am greatly blessed, regardless of whether or not I feel it.  I encourage myself with the reminder that as quickly as it leaves, His voice always returns.  If I remain at peace, soon the sweet breeze of fellowship will once again surround me.  And once again, His fiery passionate love will engulf me.  But not soon enough for me!

I recall being in the wilderness many times before, and He has always brought me out more refreshed than when I went in.  However, that is not much consolation when I am longing – right now! for the sweet refreshment that comes from fellowshipping with Him.  I love it when I sense His presence in the room; when my spirit receives new revelation, new words, new ideas, new hope.  I love pondering on a question, resting for a short while, and then suddenly ‘knowing’ the answer to whatever it was I was searching out. 

My mind wanders to an earlier wilderness experience.  During that time, I had sunk so low that I became convinced I was unable to hear anything at all.  A friend reminded me that His sheep do hear His voice; hearing that sent me even deeper into despair.  She suggested that I go home and sit in my chair with my Bible in hand, ask Him for a word, and then sit quietly in His presence – and wait on Him.  Frustrated but willing to do almost anything, I took her advice.  The next day I curled up in my chair in our prayer room.  I asked Holy Spirit to give me a new word, and I sat and waited, and waited, and waited.  Nothing came.  Frustrated and impatient, I was about to end this experiment when I felt a pressing against my chest, pushing me against the back of the chair, as if to encourage me to not give up so easily.  So I settled back in my chair, choosing to wait a little longer.  After a while I found myself thinking about the Book of Job.  I opened my Bible to Job and I said out loud, “Now what?”  Nothing came.  I began to turn the pages, slowly, sensing no direction at all – until I found myself reading Chapter 23.  I stopped at verse 8, and I read it in amazement:

Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; when He turns on the right, I cannot see Him; but He knows the way I take.  When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

Whenever I read that Scripture, I am reminded that even though I experience a season where I think I am not seeing or feeling or hearing God, He is still with me and His eyes are always on me.  I am also reminded that feelings often have little to do with reality.  I am in absolute amazement over His love for me, love that would lead me to the words I desperately needed to hear at that very moment. 

Even when I am unaware of His presence, I can look back and see where God was quietly leading me to make the better decision.  Several times I have had two job offers, and even when it appeared in the natural that I was passing up the better opportunity, the job I chose turned out to be a wonderful opportunity for me.  No doubt my spirit was hearing from Him.  Several times I have made decisions to do something or go somewhere, and when I woke up the next morning, I was seeing the situation in a completely different light, giving me time to reverse my decision.  I often wonder how many disasters He as averted on my behalf – I am truly grateful for His sometimes quiet leading.

Writing this piece, I continually felt empty and aimless and uninspired.  My words seemed so dry – just what I would expect in the wilderness.  However, a thought about a particular vision kept coming to mind, one I vaguely remembered from a few years ago.  I had to look in many places before I finally found a copy, but as I read it once again, I knew Holy Spirit had been prompting me to add it to this writing (proof that He does speak to me, even in the wilderness). 

In the vision, I saw myself standing in green grass, mindlessly looking around.  When I turned the other direction, I found myself standing on the edge of a desert wilderness.  Jesus was standing there with His hand extended toward me, inviting me into the wilderness.  I took His hand and stepped into the warm sand.  We began walking through the desert until we came upon a large flat rock.  Jesus lifted me up on the rock, pulled out a large book, and began teaching me.  After a while he closed the book, helped me off the rock, and led me further into the desert.   We came upon another flat rock where he once again lifted me up, pulled out His book and taught me His word.  This same scenario repeated many times.  Then we came upon a small oasis where we rested for a little while.  Once we were refreshed, we stepped off the far side of the oasis and found ourselves back in the wilderness.  After a time of wandering in the desert, we reached the other side, where we found rows and rows of fruit trees and lush green grass.  Each piece of fruit on the trees was so huge that I could barely get my arms around it.  I pulled a piece of fruit from a tree and sat down in the grass to eat, totally at peace.  This reward was more than worth the time spent in the wilderness.

Although I received a totally different message when I first penned this vision, as I re-read the words, I knew it contained a new message for today.  I was reminded that when I am in what seems like a wilderness place, whether or not I feel something, or see something, or hear something, even in those dry times, Jesus is always with me.  And in the middle of the wilderness, Jesus is teaching me new lessons.  Even if the wilderness experience feels terrible, I must remember that it too is part of God’s plan for me.  It is a time when my faith gets stronger, when I reach higher, when I dig deeper, when I dare not lean too heavily on my emotions and feelings.

Have you been walking through a wilderness experience?   Are you crying out to God, pleading for Him to speak to you?  Do you feel alone and empty, starving for new revelation?  Have you had a time when you just wanted to throw in the towel and walk away, afraid that God had abandoned you?  If so, then know that God has prompted me to encourage you, and to remind you about His hot burning love for you.  He said He would never leave you or forsake you, and He never goes back on His word.  I know I can always rely on His promises, so I invite you to join me as I stand and hold my ground, even if I have to wait, and wait, and wait.  While I wait, I will cry out and press in; I will worship and praise; I will thank Him for this quiet time.  I will anxiously anticipate the new fruit and the higher calling on the other side of quiet.  

Tomorrow, I have scheduled a time in my prayer room.  I am going to sit in my chair and wait on Him.  I will wait and wait and wait, if necessary, until I receive a new word.  Who knows, maybe He will give me something new to write.

 

Hebrews 13:5b  For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Song of Solomon 8:5  Who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved?

Isaiah 40:3-5  The voice of one crying in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.  Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill brought low; the crooked places shall remain straight and the rough places smooth.  The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Psalm 4:1  Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness!  You have relieved me in my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.

Job 23:8  Behold, I go forward but He is not there, and backward, but I cannot perceive Him; when He acts on the left, I cannot behold Him; when He turns on the right, I cannot see Him; but He knows the way I take.  When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.