I Can’t Imagine

One of my friends met Jesus face to face yesterday.

This friend lived a hard life. At first, I found it ironic that she spent her last several days in a hospice home that likely was the nicest place she ever lived. But then I thought that this peaceful place was “training wheels” for the eternal home she would soon enter.

Several years ago my friend gave her life to Jesus. The day she was told it was time for hospice she called me. We talked about the excitement of knowing our final destination but the fear of the route we need to take to get there. I encouraged her to run without delay into the arms of Jesus whenever He called her name. I believe she did.

sun-rays-182170_1920I know what the Bible says about Heaven. The pearly gates, the streets of gold, the homes prepared for us by Jesus himself, the banquet feast we will share, a place of no tears, a place of no sin, and best of all . . .  Jesus. A forever home with Jesus.

Yet my finite mind can’t really grasp Heaven. I am glad my friend can now. The suffering and pain she endured, I am certain she would say, pales in comparison to what she is experiencing.

I have no idea when God will say it is time for me to join Him. Until that day comes I want to be present and engaged with the life He has entrusted to me. But when my time comes, know I too will be running into the arms of my Savior.

What’d You Get Me?

Jerry and I have most of our gift giving occasions between October – December.  That is the timeframe of both of our birthdays, our anniversary and of course Christmas.  The following post was written late in December several years ago, but the truth of it remains in my heart and mind–especially this Christmas day.
My husband and I have this game that we play around birthdays, Christmas or any other gift giving occasions.  It goes like this, “So what did you get me?”  Sometimes it’s said once in passing, sometimes it’s repeated over and over in rapid succession to try to wear the giver down to sharing some clue.  Yes, I know this sounds rather childish for two wellintomiddleagedadults to engage in, but I think it’s one of the casualties of not having children – we sometimes have to play that role in the family.
The morning of December 23 I was having a delightful quiet time with my Lord.  I finished my reading and my pondering, and was just about to put my pen down after recording the last word in my journal when I heard it . . .

“So what did you get me?”
 

I paused and listened to the voice
– but it wasn’t that of my husband.  It was my other beloved’s voice – Jesus!  As I tuned in to His voice I heard, “It’s my birthday soon you know, I’ve seen the gifts you’ve gotten for everyone else, what did you get for me?” 
When I shared this with my husband his response was “Isn’t that just like God to speak to us in our own game and language?”
For the remainder of that day, and the next several days I spent time pondering what I would give Jesus for his birthday. The better question was – had I even planned to give Him anything for his birthday?  If I hadn’t, why not?  And if I was, it was getting late, so I better decide quickly. 

What do you get the Lord of the Universe, who
owns everything and can create anything out of nothing?
The only response I could think of was “to obey is better than sacrifice.”  I think what Jesus was asking for was more of me. All of me in fact.  No need to spend time trying to figure out the hottest gift to give Him but to “just do it!”  To surrender myself and obey what He has already shown me. 
Funny several years later, I think this is still the gift He wants and the one I need to give.
So what about you? What are you giving to Jesus for His Birthday?

I Lost Jesus

We often use puppets and role-play when communicating Biblical truth to students  with intellectual impairments. On this particular Sunday, the students were re-enacting the story with puppets. At the end of the replay, as the students were relinquishing their puppets one of the assistants took the Jesus puppet and quickly put it in a cupboard. She knew one student would lose all focus if “Jesus” was still in view.

After class was dismissed the assistant opened the cupboard to put the Jesus puppet away correctly. Imagine her surprise when Jesus was gone!  She began looking around for Jesus. A few minutes later one of the coordinators came into the room carrying “Jesus.” She also was aware of the one student’s difficulty focusing when the Jesus puppet was around. In an effort to reduce distraction, she slipped in and took him out of the room.

When my friend told me this story she began by saying, “I lost Jesus today.”

I snickered hearing the story.  Then I started to think about my own life. How many times do I put Jesus on a shelf, or tuck Him away – whether mindfully or not?

Misplacing a Jesus puppet is one thing, but mis-placing Jesus, giving Him any other position in my life than as the sole holder of the Throne, is another.

 

Philippians 2:9-11 NIV 

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

In His Words

I am glad you stopped by Marriage Monday.  You are in for a treat – my first guest 15726321_10211085608476976_7999075850110647644_nblogger.  And he is none other than my own husband, Jerry.  You’ve heard plenty about him from me, now hear from him directly.  I am sure you’ll understand more why I love him so.  Thanks Jer for sharing your heart and wisdom here.  

Awhile back, Joan was remarking about Ephesians 5:21-33.  She focused on verse 22 that encourages wives to submit to their husbands. Joan felt it was unfair that she had to submit twice, first to God and then to me.

The passage does talk about wives submitting to their husbands. And we are all admonished to submit to God. In a sense, she is being asked to submit twice.

I suggested she continue reading down to verse 25.  Here we read, “husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church.”  I reminded Joan that while she had to submit twice, I had to DIE!  I emphasized the word die in the most dramatic fashion I could at the time.
gravestone-2026737_1280
I believe that as husbands are called to die. Perhaps physically, but more likely to my own agenda, to my desires, to my career path even, to my calendar.  We are called to live our relationship with God as the top priority and our relationship with our wives a very close second.  This means that my wife’s growth and well-being are more important than my agenda, my career, my desires.

I am not trying to be a martyr here. But I do want to say that in a world that is self-absorbed, we are called to be other absorbed.  For husbands that is how we are called to love our wives.

I’d like to say that because of my disability and the fact that I use a power wheelchair and Joan has chosen to care for many of my physical needs, that I get a pass from dying to myself. But I don’t see that anywhere in Scripture.  I’d like to be super successful at my career, run a flourishing business on the side, blog, speak, teach. . . seriously I have thought about all of these things.  Not only would that be vanity, but it would not be putting my wife first.  I’ve had to die to some of my ambitions to make the time to love my wife and minister to her.  It is not easy.  It is a death I am called to choose daily.

question-2309042_1920So, my brothers who are reading this — what is God asking you to die to in order to serve your wife in Jesus’ name?

Does Easter Matter on Monday?

Holy Week was last week. Easter was yesterday. Today life returns to normal. Or does it?

passion-3111247_1920If the reality of Easter means anything it means change. The One who conquered death rose to new life. By doing so he changed the course of history, and each of our lives.

Maybe the details of daily life have not changed (schedules, care routines, appointments, responsibilities, etc.). But how I live and experience those minutes and hours each day better be impacted by the resurrection, or it was in vain.

Yes, there are still going to be mornings I don’t feel like getting up first to prepare for Jerry to get up. There will still be days when I just don’t want to pick up one more thing that has been dropped. Times of having our plans changed at the last minute because his body unexpectedly changed course will still happen.

If the message of Holy Week, culminating in Easter, means anything then I will whine less when waking early to serve my husband. I will smile when there is one more thing pexels-photo-424517.jpegto lift off the floor. I will exude grace when helping Jerry adjust to his body’s request and while calling the friends with whom we had plans.

This weekend I read Just Show Up by Kara Tippetts and Jill Lynn Buteyn. I was struck by the way Kara (who was living through chemotherapy and then hospice care while writing this book with her friend), talked about “Big Love” and the “hards.” She endeavored to leave her family and friends knowing that even through the hard and difficult times of life we can share big love and make a difference. She knew she could only do that because of Christ in her.

share-2482016_1920Does your faith make a difference in your daily life? If it does would you share an example so we can all be encouraged? If you are not sure your faith does make a difference, don’t despair. We all hit those low points sometime. That’s the beauty of grace, you can start again right now. I’d love to hear your comments too – we want to keep it real here at Marriage Mondays!

 

 

A Foot in Two Worlds

Holy Week.  Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday.  This is the pinnacle of my faith.  Jesus whose birth I celebrate at Christmas as Emmauel, God with us, took the golgotha-1863767_1280ultimate step of being with me.  He didn’t offer his life on the cross because it was easy.  He didn’t carry my sin because it was light.  He didn’t break his fellowship with the Father because he wanted to.  He did that because he loves and wants me – and you – to be with him and his Father forever.

I can’t explain exactly how it all works in detail – that a sinless God-man died for me before I was even conceived, to forgive and destroy the penalty of the sins I would commit.  But I don’t need an explanation. I only need faith to believe.  And gratitude for this life changing gift.

I have been stressing in the last week about the  living with one foot in Pennsylvania andone foot in Florida.  Wrapping up living here while preparing for the life to be lived there. But whether I live in Pennsylvania or Florida, this world is not my home.  This is not the home I was designed for. sunset-3054191_1920

This week as I remember and celebrate my Savior and King, may it reinforce my focus toward Heaven.  Jesus carried my penalty and gave His life so I would never have to be separated from Him again.  He rose again to prove he conquered death.  He returned to Heaven to prepare a place for me, and for you. This coming move for us is temporary.  hand-truck-564242_1920Heaven is my forever home, prepared for me by my Lord.  I sure am glad I won’t have to pack or organize transit for that final move!

Living Under the Cloud

Tech geeks, I am sorry.  If you clicked here looking for technical insights into the cloud where our lives and data circle overhead, you are at the wrong place. I am writing about “THE Cloud,” as identified in the Biblical book of Numbers.

I am a planner. I like to know what is going to happen next. I want to be fully prepared. No surprises here (unless they are chocolate and raspberry!).

In our family, Jerry is the visionary. He sees that mountain out in the distance and knowsdachstein-2863756_1920 that is the destination. What he doesn’t see (but I do) are the miles of gullies, hills, rocks,and the ongoing forest of trees that we must pass through before we reach that mountain.  And none of it is wheelchair accessible! Our differences make us a good team, or at least as he puts it, “makes us fun to watch.”

My penchant for the process is why I have boxes already packed and sorted, though our move is still some time away. That is why when reading Numbers earlier this month I spent so much time pondering the adventures of the children of Israel. We know there were at least two million people making this trek through the desert. I am thankful I was not asked to be their trip coordinator.

They had GPS, but not on a smart phone. Their GPS came directly from God who told them their arrival time would be in 40 years. Rather than giving them turn by turn 0379a-img_3505directions, He guided them with a cloud by day and a fire by night. Directionally that’s all they had.

When the cloud moved they (yes, all two million of them) moved. When the cloud stopped, they stopped. When they stopped they did not know if they were setting up camp for one night or for a year. They just knew they were to stay there until the cloud moved again.

When Jerry and I travel if we are stopping only one night in transit I pack a smaller bag with the things needed just for that night. Once we see the set up in the hotel we decide if we can make it work with the slide board. If we can, I leave the hoyer lift, shower chair, etc. in the van. It’s just so much work for one night.

I don’t think I would have been a good Israelite woman in this caravan.

“What?  You mean I unpacked every camel’s saddle bags and all the packs on the donkeys last night and now we need to leave again?”

“Jeremiah” (the Hebrew root for Jerry), “do you remember which camel we packed the cooking pot in?  If we aren’t staying here long I don’t want to unpack everything, but I can’t find it.”

trip-1422608_1920I know the children of Israel failed God many times in their journey by grumbling, complaining and jealousy. But I have a newfound respect for them when I think about their 40-year journey.

I too can easily fall into grumbling, questioning, doubt and the need to control. Forgive me God. Lord teach me to wait on you. Seems like the skies are lightening, but your cloud over our home has not yet moved. Help me to make the most of this time of waiting; and to be ready when you say it’s time to move.