Something About Hope

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There’s something about HOPE. It’s a little word with a lot of muscle.

It can make the heart happy.

It can stop sorrow dead in its tracks.

It can give a knock-out punch to despair.

It can bring light into darkness.

It can turn downcast eyes upward.

It can transform what looks like the end into a new beginning.

Hope is an expectation of something good. Where there is hope, there is comfort, even a spark of excitement. You can’t have faith unless you first have hope. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1)

In my “Grief Report” post, I made reference to a couple of scriptures that spark hope, then faith in me. Read that post first to get a fuller picture of what I’m talking about here.

Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus had died by the time Jesus arrived, and they said, If only you’d been here he wouldn’t have died! Jesus told them, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” I’m sure when Jesus said this, hope sprang up in their hearts.

I just love this! In saying “Didn’t I tell you,” He’s basically saying, “Remember what I said? Remember? I told you, if you believe, you will see the glory of God!”

I think this is so relevant to you and me in whatever situation we find ourselves. When we begin to despair, when we begin to lose heart and lose hope, we need to remember what the Word of God (the Bible) says! Jesus is the Word! (John 1:1) Remember what He says! Find out what He has said about your situation.

And I love that Jesus said, “If you believe, you will see the glory of God,” because I believe this is applicable to any promise made to us in the Bible. If you believe, you will see.

Finding out what He has said about your situation brings hope, which is a springboard to faith, which is necessary to please God (Hebrews 11:6). In Romans 4:18, the Bible says that “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed, and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him.” Abraham in hope believed what God had promised him, and it came to pass!

Another scripture I referenced in “Grief Report” is this: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5) But as I continue reading into verse 6, it says, “My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember You….”

This excites me! When my soul is downcast and disturbed, I put my hope in God by remembering Him! I remember Him; I remember what He has said to me in His Word. This will give me hope. This will lift my spirits, so to speak.

A few more scriptures about hope:

“Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:5)

“For You have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth.” (Psalm 71:5)

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in Your word.” (Psalm 119:114)

And then there is that familiar scripture in Isaiah 40:31 that says “those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…” The word “wait” actually means to expect, look for, and hope in Him (Amplified Bible).

In Lamentations chapter 3, Jeremiah is recalling much hardness and sorrow in his life, and then says this: “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him….” (verses 21-25)

I am so happy about this! Notice that in the midst of his pain, he “calls to mind and therefore has hope.” He remembers something good about God, and this gives him hope! And what’s awesome is that “the Lord is good to those whose hope is in Him.”

I so love what Paul said to the Romans in chapter 15, verse 13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

What a mouthful! Need hope? He IS the God of hope! And that God of hope will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with HOPE. How? By the power of the Holy Spirit.

The bottom line is, you can’t do it alone. You can’t live this life alone. You can’t grapple with life’s issues and problems and hard times alone. Well, you CAN, but there’s no hope in it. There’s only despair and a sad end. With God, what looks like the end becomes a new beginning. Darkness turns to light. Downcast eyes look heavenward, where our help and hope come from.

Grief Report

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Well, I might as well call it what it is: a grief report. No apologies. If you don’t want to read about it, stop right here.

I hate it. I hate this process. I hate this grief thing. I’m tired of the word “grief.” I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to have it, I don’t want to go through it. I want it to just go away.

But it won’t.

Somebody said grief is like a tunnel that you have to go through. It’s dark inside, but once you go in, you’re on your way out. That sounds nice, I just don’t know what it means right now.

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I went to the grave site today, for the first time since the funeral over four months ago. You might think that’s weird or unnatural or cold-hearted. I haven’t been mainly because I don’t see that as being the place Emily resides. She’s not there. She’s in Heaven, and she’s happy, and she’s whole. The grave is where she left her earthly body.

Maybe I was avoiding what I knew would hurt pretty bad.

Because if you think it doesn’t hurt a mama’s heart to see her baby’s date of birth and date of death on a headstone, you’re mistaken.

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I never use the word “death” in conjunction with her name.

What I know in my heart is that she’s not there. What I know in my heart is that she is with Jesus. What I know in my heart is that I will see her again. But my earthly heart still hurts and misses her oh so terribly.

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And I see her face reflected in the one she left behind, her beautiful daughter Brooklyn. And my heart hurts again that Brooklyn will never in this life know her mommy. Her mommy who loved her so much. Her mommy who was planning her first birthday party, a party she didn’t get to attend. Her mommy who would make funny faces at her to make her giggle. A mommy she will not remember.

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While I was there, I remembered how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And I wondered if it was too late for me to call Emily up out of that grave. I really did. Don’t feel sorry for me. Jesus said, “Heal the sick! Raise the dead! You’ll do the things I do and greater things!” (If you don’t believe me, look it up. It’s there. Dig for it. Go to biblegateway.com or just google it. Pretend it’s treasure. Put as much passion into searching out the Word of God as you do finding information about the latest movie or music or entertainer or insert-hobby-here.)

I opened the Bible app on my phone and read the story of Lazarus out loud, from the Amplified Bible, in John 11. I was going to put the whole story here in this blog, but it’s at least 45 verses long. Read the whole thing here or just keep reading for my summary.

I read it, because I was curious about the logistics of the thing. And at one point, I was even amused. See, Jesus loved Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus. When Lazarus got sick, his sisters sent word to Jesus. However, He stayed where he was two more days before heading toward Bethany where Lazarus was. The disciples advised him against going, because the Jews had tried to kill him there. But,

11 He said these things, and then added, Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep.

12 The disciples answered, Lord, if he is sleeping, he will recover.

13 However, Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He referred to falling into a refreshing and natural sleep.

14 So then Jesus told them plainly, Lazarus is dead,

15 And for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him.

The part that amused me is that Jesus had to plainly tell them, “Lazarus is dead.” But it also pierced my heart, because I don’t ever say, “Emily is dead” or “Emily died.” I say she “left” or “departed.”

But Jesus had a plan. It had to be the Father’s plan, because Jesus never did anything unless the Father told him to.

When he got there, everyone was crying over Lazarus’ death. Mary and Martha said, Oh, Jesus, if you’d only been here! And when Jesus saw everyone crying, he was “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” He asked where they’d laid him; they showed him, and he wept.

The shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” John 11:35.

Why did he weep if he knew he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead? Maybe he was just feeling the pain of his dear friends Mary and Martha.

And before I go on, let me take a side journey here. Because this particular post is me just letting stuff flow out of me in whatever form and fashion it wants. I’m not trying to write a nice paper here. I’m working through this crappy grief thing.

Dear friends. That’s what I want to talk about for a minute. Dear friends. My heart swells at the thought of my dear friends. I am so blessed with dear friends. What would I do without my dear friends? I literally thank my God daily for my dear friends, upon every remembrance of them. Oh, how He has blessed me with dear friends. Oh, how I need them. Oh, how they have been and continue to be there for me. Thank you, dear friends. Thank You, Father, for these dear friends You have placed in my life for such a time as this!

So, to continue with the story, because I’m getting to a point here, I read this story aloud at Emily’s grave site because I wanted to see how Jesus did this thing. How did He raise Lazarus? And could I, maybe, call Emily forth?

I know, you’re feeling really sorry for me about now. Maybe even a little concerned. You think I’m crazy.

But I read that Jesus approached the tomb, which was a cave with a boulder at the entrance to close it off. And He said, “Take away the stone.” And Martha (the practical one) said Lazarus has been dead four days and probably stinks.

I love what Jesus says next:

“Did I not tell you and promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God?”

Let me take another side journey here. That one sentence from Jesus has been one of my cornerstone verses for standing firm on His Word during tough times. Put another way: “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” If you believe, you will see. If you believe, you will see the glory of God.

Then: Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.

42 Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger].

43 When He had said this, He shouted with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out!

44 And out walked the man who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go.

He shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” But first he had them move that stone away.

I make that point, because I was thinking what if I shouted, “Emily, come forth!” What if her spirit entered again into that earthly decayed body and brought it back to life. How would she get out of that closed casket, and up through all that dirt?

So, sadly, I stopped thinking about that. But just so you know, that wasn’t the first time I thought of it. I called her back when I first saw her body on her bed, and I could plainly see that her spirit had already left her body. I called her back as the paramedics worked on her. I called her back after the emergency room team pronounced her dead and let me go to her. I crawled into the bed with her and, as my tears fell upon her hair, I spoke the words in her ear: “Come back! Come back!” And after they moved her body into another room, I called her back. And after the funeral, before they closed the casket for the last time, I called her back.

She didn’t come back. I don’t know why. I don’t know why. I would imagine Heaven’s a better place than this. I would imagine she didn’t know a person could feel so free and so good and so alive. I would imagine she didn’t want to come back. Or maybe I just didn’t do it right.

So, we who knew her and loved her and enjoyed her for nearly 21 years are left behind. We feel a great loss.

At different times I feel anger, guilt, regret, sorrow. Much of the time it doesn’t even feel like it really happened. But when it does, it hurts pretty dang bad. The kind of bad that makes you want to swear.

But in the end, I hear two verses. I hear them loud and clear in my spirit.

The first is this: “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:5, Psalm 42:11, and Psalm 43:5)

The second is this, and it’s the clincher: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (I Corinthians 15:55)

It stings right now, but who will have the last laugh? We will. We will be laughing in Heaven together one day. Once again I will be able to wrap my arms around her and kiss her sweet face and see the twinkle in her blue eyes. And she’ll probably say, “Mom, you’ve gotta come see this!” And off we’ll go.

Jesus With Skin On

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Perhaps you’ve heard the “Jesus with skin on” story. In summary, it’s about a child who is afraid to sleep alone on a dark, stormy night. She calls out to her mom who tells her that Jesus is right beside her. The child replies, “But mom, right now I need Jesus with skin on!”

Quite honestly, I think we all need “Jesus with skin on.”

I consider myself to be a moderately strong Christian. I have the Word of God hidden in my heart. At any given moment, I could probably quote you half a dozen scriptures about God’s love, goodness, and mercy.

In the wake of Emily’s passing from this life to the next, the peace of God has been my keeper. He is my very present help in time of trouble. My heart has rested in Him. My comfort lies in knowing I will see her again.

And yet, what has been especially precious to me are the many texts, messages, comments, emails, cards, smiles, hugs, and gifts given by those around me. Some are close friends, some are acquaintances.

All are Jesus with skin on.

Today I went for an annual checkup, and when I told my doctor about Emily I started crying. Instantly, he softened, said how sorry he was, and then spent a great deal of time talking to me. He told me about his daughter who’s about Emily’s age and also suffers from seizures. He talked a little about the grieving process. He offered to put me in touch with a couple of strong Spirit-filled Christian ladies he knows who have also lost children. And he did something I found surprising, having never really seen this side of him: he waved his hand in front of me almost like the Pope does in pronouncing a blessing, and told me everything would be alright and God would help me through it.

He was Jesus with skin on.

As Christians, we should never underestimate the power of a simple word or deed. Any gesture that lets someone know you care or are thinking about them is especially meaningful in hard times or even on a hard day.

It’s Jesus with skin on.

John 1:14 speaks about Jesus, saying, “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood.” (Message Bible) But when the flesh-and-blood Jesus ascended into Heaven, He sent the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer, so that together, all believers are the body of Jesus on Earth.

We are Jesus with skin on.

No Regrets

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My husband used to call me the Queen of Regret, because I second-guessed most every decision of any significance. In my mind, scrutinizing and analyzing past decisions would scientifically help me to make better decisions in the future and bring me to that peaceful place of No Regrets.

The place of No Regrets is elusive.

I say he “used to” call me that, because a few years ago I began to make a concerted effort to change that thing about me, and I was doing pretty good about living peacefully with past decisions until my daughter died suddenly. Now I find myself in this regret battle again. The whys and the what-ifs threaten to overtake me if I’m not vigilant to recognize their tormenting game. It’s not a happy place.

I don’t usually make new year’s resolutions, but as 2014 arrives, one thing I resolve to do is to leave behind the regrets. The past cannot be changed. I must learn what is to be learned and move forward.

I absolutely know I cannot do this without the help of Jesus who IS my peace. (Ephesians 2:14)

I am reminded of a verse I haven’t thought about in a long time. In my Amplified Bible, I have it underlined and highlighted, and I can quote it by memory:

“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from the Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts–deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds–[in that peaceful state] to which [as members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful–appreciative, giving praise to God always.” (Colossians 3:15)

That’s a road map to the peaceful place of No Regrets. I’m setting my GPS for it.

I Came for You

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Thumbing absently through Facebook posts before bed, I read this one that stopped me in my tracks.

It brings to mind what I consider to be the most romantic line in cinematic history, or at least of the movies I’ve seen.

The movie is “The Last of the Mohicans” starring Daniel Day-Lewis (Hawkeye) and Madeleine Stowe (Cora Munroe). The moment is when a murderous tribe of Indians is about to capture a small group of the English, and their only chance is for Hawkeye to escape alone, then come back for them. In the moment before he leaves, he looks deeply and desperately into Cora’s eyes, the woman he loves, and says with conviction, “I WILL find you!”

What love! It melts my heart every time! It’s a love that says nothing will keep us apart, and I will see to that! A love that says don’t fear, because I will find you, and I will rescue you!

And so, when I saw the picture above wherein Jesus states, “I came for you,” I thought of that passionate, extravagant love. He came for me. For ME. (And for the whole world.) He rescued me. He went through hell–literally–to do it. Nothing stopped him. And now, nothing can separate me from that love. It’s a love that’s big and passionate and pure and strong and unrelenting.

Can you just see him looking deeply into your eyes and saying, “I came for YOU!” It’s like, “I did this for you, because I love you. Now what’s your move?” It’s like when someone tells you for the first time, “I love you.” There’s an expected response of some kind. A waiting. An anticipation.

He came for us. It’s our move.

 

 

What’s love got to do with it?

I think in my previous blog posts I’ve made the point that life is hard, life is messy, life is crappy, and yes, life is beautiful. Sometimes all in one day.

Stuff happens. And people happen. And stuff happens to people. And people make stuff happen. And people make stuff happen to other people.

Sometimes in the process of all of these happenings, someone gets hurt. Let’s say that someone is me.

Ok, it’s me. (It is I, English majors.)

After all, I’m writing this, and it would be useless to pretend I am talking about someone else here.

Let me cut to the chase. Sometimes when I am hurt or disrespected by someone, I tend to want to lash out in a manner inconsistent with my Christian walk.

But let me tell you something I have learned in this life: God’s way is the best way. He does all things well. And He’s pretty much infinitely smarter than I am. (It’s so helpful when I remember this!)

His way is love. (After all, He IS love.)

Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15). Well, I love him. Then he said that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and the second greatest is to love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27). Paul said all the commandments are summed up in one: Love your neighbor as yourself. (Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14). James calls it the “Royal Law.” (James 2:8 NIV).

What does it mean to love someone? I Corinthians 13:4-7 in the Amplified Bible makes it painfully clear:

Love endures long and is patient and kind;
Love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy.
Love is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
Love is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride);
Love is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly.
Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking.
Love is not touchy or fretful or resentful.
Love takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
Love does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes.
Love is ever ready to believe the best of every person.
Love’s hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].

That is such a tall order. That seems so impossible a task for me to achieve. How can I do it?

The Bible tells me that the love of God has been shed abroad in my heart by the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5).

What He tells us to do, He helps us to do.

Doing things the love way goes against the grain. It goes against popular advice. It goes against the flesh nature that wants to lash out and hurt back.

But the greatest part about this love thing is that IT NEVER FAILS. That’s right! LOVE NEVER FAILS! (So says I Corinthians 13:8.) I like a sure thing, but it doesn’t come easy! Walking in love is a daily thing, and sometimes even moment by moment. I remind myself of how Love–how GOD–how God’s love in me acts. Then I try to act that way.

What’s love got to do with it?

Everything.

What a Difference a Day Makes

Saturday was a cold, gray day. Frankly, it mirrored our mood. Missing Emily, feeling her absence. Deeply. So we did what we do, went on with our lives, but our hearts were in none of it. Even the cozy fire in the fireplace didn’t warm the chill in our hearts. The pall hung over us all day, hard to shake.

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Craig ran out to catch a picture of the sunrise, as has become his daily joy.

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After hot beverages, we dressed. On the way to church, early, we listened to worship music. Once there, well, how can I describe it? I can’t speak for Craig, because once there, we go our separate ways for a while–he, to fellowship with God and men, and I, to worship team practice.

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Something started stirring in me at worship practice. We began by praying earnestly. Then we practiced our songs, but more than singing and playing the songs, we were already worshipping God. We weren’t PRACTICING worship, we WERE worshipping.

After practice, there was time to fellowship with the saints. Thank God for the light-hearted chat with the girls. Thank God for the heartfelt words of comfort from an older woman of God. Thank God for reconnecting with my husband through a few words and a shared smile.

Then it was time to lead the saints into corporate worship of the one, true, holy God. What an honor! To worship Him so that He desires to inhabit our praises! To invite Him into our midst in a tangible way, so that lives are touched and changed! To be a part of His purpose for this time, this place!

The congregation responded, and I tell you, there is nothing like corporate worship.

Afterwards, the message was delivered, ending with a call to dedication, while in the background played a powerful song I’d been listening to and singing all week: “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.

“I am redeemed, You set me free
So I’ll shake off these heavy chains
Wipe away every stain, now I’m not who I used to be
‘Cause I am redeemed
Thank God, redeemed.”

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What a difference corporate worship makes! What a difference fellowshipping with believers makes!

Oh, what a difference a day makes!

The Crappy and the Beautiful

This is the thing: I started this blog to write about life as I see it and as it happens, and what’s happening right now is crappy and beautiful.

Do you know I was well into my married life before I ever said the word “crap”? The word was never spoken in my parents’ house. It was an ugly word. Now I say it quite freely. It’s my ugly word. And when you are in pain, you sometimes want to say ugly words. So I say, “Crap, crap, crap!” Yes, I do. I’m sorry to disappoint you.

And if things get a little worse, I say, “Crapper John.” Worse, “Crapper John, M.D.!” And REALLY bad: “Crappanonymous!” This is my way.

So, the past 24 hours have been crappanonymous. The thing about this dang grieving process is that you get what the experts call “emotional ambushes.” That means you are feeling all fine and good, and then–BAM–something hits you in the gut. Then you have to heave a few sobs to work through it.

I took my grandbaby to a doctor appointment today–a check-up–and this is something Emily and I used to do together. The doctor is over an hour away, so this is a day trip when all is said and done. We would eat lunch and enjoy the day.

And it–Emily’s absence–just fell over me last night like a heavy blanket and was there to meet me when I got up this morning. And the usual people who might have accompanied me today couldn’t make it, so it was just B and me. Oh, if that little girl could talk, she could tell some stories about me today!

So here comes the beautiful part: Brooklyn. She is one of the beautiful parts of my life right now. And to top it off, she is so sweet and expressive and personable. Her smile lights the room.

And oh, her kisses! They are sloppy, and yes, sometimes they hurt when she clamps down with her two upper and two lower teeth onto your cheek, but it hurts so good!

Life is crappy and beautiful. And isn’t that what Jesus said it would be?

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

The crappy and the beautiful.

Procrastination (Or, Just Do It, Already!)

The thing about writing this blog is that I want to write regularly. If not every day, then at least every other day. And I was doing great (with the three posts so far — ha!) until an unusually harried work week merged with my general procrastination tendencies.

Oh, and I thought I had whipped that procrastination thing, once I started this blog!

So I determined that Saturday morning I would write another blog post. It’s not from lack of material. I’ve got the notes piled high on my desk. It’s just, you know, that P-word. And also the G-word: grandbaby. And the W-word: work. And the…. Oh, never mind.

But back to this morning. So I get up fairly early, at least by Saturday morning standards: 7:30. I eat a little breakfast. I decide to take my laptop to a cozy spot in the bedroom since my husband is watching an old movie on TV in the living room, which is a part of my dining room where I usually write. Too much distraction. I love those old movies.

Before starting, I just want to get the dishwasher going, which leads to looking around for any stray dishes, which leads to finding my grandbaby’s toys still strewn about the front room, which leads to my picking them up, which leads me back to turn the dishwasher on. I just want to file those three receipts that lay on the counter while l am thinking about it, which leads me back to the front room where Katie is now watching a TV show that I hate because it gloatingly pushes moral boundaries while pulling you in to watch it with its great singing! Which leads me to express this sentiment to Katie, who agrees with me in principle, but says she enjoys the music part! Which leads me to watch about 10 minutes of the show I despise, which leads me to despise that I allowed it to steal my time. Which leads me to muse that no time spent with my precious daughter is wasted! (Can you say justification?)

Of course, musing about life and spending time with my daughter reminds me I really wanted to write a blog post, which is me musing about life.

So I did.

Life is messy

This is not intended to be a blog about death, dying, and grief. It’s supposed to be about life. I love life; hence, my tagline: “Observations from a life lover.” But I’ve learned that death is a part of this present life.

The view that I have of life after having lived a half century is not quite as rosy as the one with which I began. Things are not so neatly tied up with a bow. There are lots of loose ends. Life is messy.

Life is hard. In fact, it’s downright brutal at times!

Bad stuff happens. Sad stuff happens. Sometimes it’s a result of our own selfish decisions made outside of God’s will, sometimes it’s a result of simply not knowing better, sometimes our lives are affected by another’s actions, sometimes it’s an outright attack of the evil one, and sometimes it’s the result of living in a fallen, decaying world.

BUT GOD. (Here comes the good part. Because God IS good.)

God is the All-Sufficient One. I’m talking about Jehovah God, the Almighty One True God. The One who sent His son Jesus to wipe away our sin along with the resulting pain, shame, and guilt. Stuff happens! Jesus said it would! He said, “In this world you will have troubles, but be of good cheer, because I have overcome the world!” When we invite this world overcomer into our lives (first, into our hearts; then, into every fabric of our lives)–we will be MORE than conquerors! He always provides a way of escape. He is always a very present help in time of trouble. He always walks WITH us through the valley of the shadow of death. He always provides a way out of every temptation. He is, quite simply, the ANSWER.

I don’t have all the answers, but I know Jesus–THE Truth, THE Life, THE Way. He doesn’t offer pat answers. He offers Himself.

And He is enough. He is MORE than enough.

When the crap comes, He is available in so many ways: as peace, comfort, wisdom–in fact, whatever is needed for the situation. Because He is enough, and more.

I prefer to understand everything. I prefer to have everything wrapped in a neat package. But quite frankly, it ain’t gonna happen (in this life). No matter. REALLY. No matter. I release that need to know all and understand all. That’s called trust. It sounds so simple. It’s not. But when I do it, when I decide to trust Him, OH! Well! He does marvelous things and makes the messy into a message. Thank You, Lord!