Monday, December 22, 2014

Desperate Mothers and Daughters- A Message of Hope

Click the picture to go to YouTube to hear the message.
In [Christ, I was] also chosen,
having been predestined according to the plan of Him
who works out everything in conformity
with the purpose of His will.” Ephesians1:11

Several months ago I was invited to be the guest speaker at a ladies luncheon. The clear message laid upon my heart was one of being desperate for God, with the main theme being that God does what it takes in our lives to make us desperate for Him: this is His mercy to display His glory, not primarily in this life, but in the one to come. Click on the picture above to be taken to the YouTube website to hear the message.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I've been listening to Francis Chan again - an addicting habit when I need some lively conviction. He was talking about living missional. Spell check is screaming at me that missional isn't a word (there it goes again) but there is no other word that I know of to describe the act of living with every fiber of your soul being in the continuous state of knowing and telling the good news of Jesus.

To live missionally together would mean to continuously spur each other on to keep the end goal in mind, specifically that Jesus is coming soon. To find a few other nut-cases who have been as radically transformed by the Holy Spirit as you have can be difficult, but when you find them, you keep them close. There are a couple of ladies in my life, some who read this blog, who help keep me on track through prayer, through challenging of the Word, through accountability. But sadly, missional lives are rare. Our days, in and of themselves, are not being lived out as if we are anticipating the return of Jesus any time soon. They are not typically about how to glorify His name through loving others and dying to self. I also stand guilty as charged.

After Trent's accident there was no one exempt from our sharing. How many hundreds of people heard the gospel in those first few weeks would be impossible to count. As the message appears to be dulled in so many of those hundreds, as the evidence of their lives continuing to go on, day by day, seemingly unchanged by the words of life, God alone knows which of those seeds of truth planted will one day sprout. But He promised that His word would not go out and return void (Isaiah 55:11). Glimpses of the harvest through one planted seed have encouraged us to get out of bed for these many days since.

Mornings often find me on my face bawling. The uttering of my desire to just be with God overwhelms me. Believer, do the mornings not find you in the same state? Does the thought of the satisfaction of seeing God not obsess you? Is the reality of eternity not constantly on your mind? Does it not consume you to think of every soul you meet, to wonder about their state of salvation?

Richard Baxter put it much more eloquently than I could ever dare to dream to portray the matter. Please do read the whole passage (click for the link) from one of my favorite books, The Saint's Everlasting Rest. Let it burn in your mind and cause a greater longing for this God of Holiness to use your life in ways that will be glorified throughout eternity. It's going to be a long time, this eternity. Live today how you want to live then: being satisfied in Jesus.

      "Why do I so easily forget my resting place? O my soul, does the dullness of your desire after rest not accuse you of most detestable ingratitude and foolishness? Must your Lord purchase you a rest at so costly a price, and you not value it more? Must He go before to prepare so glorious a mansion for such a wretch, and are you reluctant to go and possess it? Shall the Lord of glory desire your company, and you do not desire His? Must earth become a very hell to you before you are willing to be with God? If your successful efforts and godly friends seem better to you than a life with God, it is time for God to take them from you...

      I am willing to stay here on earth while You will use me. Give me the work which You have for my hands. But when it is done, take me at my best. I don't want to be so impatient as to ask You to cut off my time and take me home before I am prepared, for I know my eternal reward depends so much on the use I make of this life. But neither would I stay here when my work is done. While I must be absent from You, let my soul as sincerely groan as my body does when it is sick."

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Love of God

If there were tears in Heaven 
I would cry for a hundred years
upon the full realization
of the depth of the love of God.

Friday, August 15, 2014

To Love the World

Over the last thirty days life has changed drastically. The ties to the farm are lessening with a six month rent to own contract having been signed, and we now wake up every morning to a lake view rather than to the cry of demanding critters. Sigh. It's good. Guiltily, pleasurably, insanely indulgently good, almost on the brink of boredom sometimes, but good. Farming was good, too, for the numerous years that we enjoyed it. But when you stop enjoying something, it's time to move on. The Lord called, and here we are, waiting for further instructions.

Perhaps I will chronicle our beginning struggles and triumphs to settle this little .7 acre haven another day, but this morning this verse stopped me in my tracks.

Do not love the world or anything in the world. 
If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 
For everything in the world-
the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-
comes not from the Father but from the world. 
The world and its desires pass away, 
but the man who does the will of God lives forever. 
1 John 2:15-17

The love of the world. What a powerful force. It creeps its way into our hearts and soon overtakes. It oftentimes becomes our reality, until reality reveals itself for what it really is. Our made up worlds with their made up prizes consume us, and we realize sometimes too late that we were our own creators of them rather than seeking The Creator. I don't want to realize too late that I invested into the wrong kingdom. Our families desire as we set out over a year ago to leave it all behind was to intentionally push forth the Kingdom of Jesus. Now we ponder how.

If my strength comes from being united with Christ, then I must start there. But my mind is in a jumble. Demands of the necessity of living have temporarily overtaken my energy for seeking that source. A sewer, some water and electricity, and finally as of this week, the joys of Wi-Fi. Then I am somehow shocked, in the midst of it, to realize for the billionth time that my son is in Heaven. The familiar panic attacks hit with a vengeance. Reality again rears its head above the pseudo peace that envelops this new life of ease. This world and its desires are passing away. I don't have to look very far for the truth of that Scripture. All worldly cravings, all the hungers to boast and long for and desire temporary delights do not come from the Father. The crevice in my brain that holds that truth appears again, I can feel the power of it in my soul. This world is not my home. I remind myself that I am a sojourner, only traveling through. Being bogged down with more stuff should not be my desire.

Then what is?

I don't know. Answering that question has consumed me. I don't know what it is to truly live for Christ, live for eternity, live to make a difference, live to not waste my life on the day that I stand before the God of the universe. The overwhelming knowledge of an Abba Father God is very prominent in my knowing of who He is, but so is the Master of the Talents who really will call for an account. My fear is myself. Scared to give it all, share it all, lest it be trampled here. But I forget in that line of thought that even if God's work is trampled here by man, there is a heavenly host watching where that trampling has glory. It is worth it to give all, love all, and forsake the world.

God has allowed rest. He seems to be calling, encouraging, offering, insisting rest. But I don't know how to rest in Him. It seems to be more work to rest in Him than to make my own way. Even if I am incapable, He has continued to pour out blessings. This God who provides is a profound revelation. It's not something that I quite know how to sort out. My emotions feel flat lined even as I long to feel the power of the goodness of God, but at the same time I am too scared to. Imagine the power of that depth of love. Not for my sake, not for my self righteousness, but because it cost the blood of His Son to love me so deeply. And after that crushing of His beloved, because of it, God loves me. Letting that sink in must require rest.

A lighthouse was the other word that God applied to this move. As we inch our way into this settled community of lake dwellers, I have prayed to be a lighthouse of the gospel. As our house sits a bit on a hill, I can envision the light of Christ shining out. At least I hope it will be shining out. I want immediate, but I forget that God works on a different time table. Usually years, rather than moments. But the moments add up to years, and there have already been so many powerful moments to add to the equation. Our home, half done as it is, has had an open door to visitors nearly everyday since we've been here. Not minding that there is no front deck, and even enduring the outhouse, lack of electricity and meals cooked on a propane cylinder, God has brought so many souls to pour into. How I love this aspect of our new location.

A good reminder, this swift kick of sound theology this morning, as I sit enjoying the view this side of Heaven. This lake is passing away, this house is passing away, along with everything inside of it, even this body is passing away. But the one who does the will of God lives forever. I hope Jesus comes soon. I hope I am found being faithful when He does.

Friday, July 11, 2014


What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, 
yet forfeit their soul? 
Mark 8:36

Jesus taught that to follow him is to die. Before we can live for Christ we must die to self. Really die. Die to this world. Die to its drawings and desires. Die to the temporal to live for the eternal. This won't be accomplished by ourselves. It won't be pain free. It will include suffering. Without it, I don't think a person can truly know their Savior this side of Heaven.

How I pray, brothers and sisters in Christ, that He wakes you up; that the Spirit would open your eyes to leave this world behind as you walk your short days in it and learn to suffer with Him who suffered. That you would know your Creator as your Comforter and that the result would be that He is your greatest treasure to be sought.

I've been doing a lot of dieing lately. 

It frees the soul as much as it tortures the heart. 

The reward: a glorious eternity.

I'm waiting.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Mother's Greatest Calling

Children are the greatest mission field a woman can have.

Dear mothers, let us not neglect one of the sweetest gifts that God has granted us: our children. In this hurry-up world, we need go no further than our own homes to find God's calling for our lives. These precious little people have been given to us for such a short time. Childhood is fleeting. Before you know it, they are out of our hands.

Speaking as a veteran mother who thought she would never survive three children under the age of four, and then gladly went on to add two more kiddos to the chaos, I can honestly tell you that they do grow up too fast. In hindsight, the diapers were easy. The tween years, then the teen years, challenge the foundation that was poured out while life sped by. But rock by rock, hopefully with solid Christ rocks, you are making a difference in the long run, even when you can't see past the temper tantrums and the rolling eyes of a twelve year old who thinks she is beyond you. In the end, there is much joy to welcome the beautiful result of a Christ honoring young adult.

Hold firm. 

Love your children beyond measure. 

Love Christ and His word more. 

Be the example.

Eternity is at stake. 

You are not their Savior, but you represent their Savior. You, Christian momma, have been given the task of raising up warriors and maidens for a godly Kingdom. Get on your knees, stay on your knees, and bring them up valiantly. Aim to be found worthy of the treasures you were entrusted with on the day that you meet Jesus face to face.

This life is short. 

Stay eternally focused. 

For you and them.

Stay home. Love your children. Feed and water them. Nourish their souls with the Word of God.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 

But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


For we are God's MASTERPIECE
He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, 
so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago. 
Ephesians 2:10 NLT

A farm sale that seems to never be happening, a son in heaven, two mortgages for too many months, a head cold that has lingered along with frazzled nerves that could easily teeter towards bed ridden depression- it doesn't look like a masterpiece to me.

But that's what Scripture calls it. 

A masterpiece.

A masterpiece in the hands of a Designer who knows every hair on my head, every tear that has ever dripped down my cheek, every desire of my heart. A masterpiece to reveal Himself as the strong one, Himself as the carrier, Himself as the leader worth following.

For those who are called, for those who are God's, our brief lives are a masterpiece to bring glory to the Creator. Things may appear to be in the messy stage right now, but never doubt, the pieces fit exactly where they belong. The tears and trials are the blueprints required to reveal the end result: the forming of a new creation founded "in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things He planned for us long ago." All to reveal His glory. All, somehow, to result in our joy as we seek only Him.

Hold on to the promises, weary soul, and wait for the Master to be revealed.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Why I Don't Pretend That My Children Are Saved

A friend was curious, quite some time ago, about my interesting view of the state of my children's salvation. Because, you see, I don't profess that many of them are saved. The query has floated around my ever pondering train of thoughts for months until I attempted to put together a response on why I don't pretend that my children are saved.

First of all, it doesn't glorify God to fake our standing with Him. God doesn't mince words, and He's not kidding. This is His kingdom, and He'll run it any way He wants. He says He's jealous, holy, all powerful, wiser than any wisdom we can fathom, and more glorious than we can imagine.

The deeds of mankind, at our very sin-saturated cores, on the other hand, are likened to a woman's menstrual rag. We are called blasphemers, haters of God, wicked and only capable of more wickedness. A somber understanding of ourselves is necessary to realize that a Savior is needed. What transpired in the Fall, and the continuous suffering that resulted because of it, cannot be underestimated. We are sinners. You and I, our sweet dumpling little children as well if they came of our wombs. The church has sanitized our position to the point that we forget who we are.

Until you look down the barrel of your own wickedness, you can not appreciate a Savior who would stretch out His arms and bleed for you, even while you were the enemy, the one wielding the whip and spitting in His face. As sin was put upon the perfect Lamb of Jesus, Holiness turned away so that our sins could be forgiven and we could be welcomed into an eternal Kingdom. Looking at Scripture, acknowledgement of sin is a precursor to salvation. If an understanding of our position with God is not understood, repentance will never be needed.

God takes great delight in how and when He works salvation in His children. It is done on His time table, in His way. The robbing of that privilege is not our place, while at the same time Scripture tells us to seek the Lord and He will be found. God says that it is His glory to conceal a matter and the honor of kings to search them out (Proverbs 25:2). To point out truth to children is to point out their sin, alongside a glorious God who promises salvation, but not on our terms. It is His gift to grant.

Secondly, it doesn't benefit them. Salvation, at its core, from our mortal standpoint, is a very selfish thing. Who do you know that wants all glory to go to God, in all circumstances, even in choosing His elect, even if that glory is most clearly revealed through the unimaginably horrendous truth of the doctrine of Hell? One day every one of us is going to stand before this just God all on our own to give account. Even if the Bible underestimates its inferences to an eternal punishment, none of us wants to get close to the flaming fires that are described. We're all for sliding in to the pearly gates at the end of a self satisfying, lengthy existence here as long as there is an eternity of self satisfaction to look forward to.

But a life that is not clearly being transformed to treasuring Christ does not equal salvation, no matter how many times said person has signed a paper or raised their hands at the Bible camp campfires. Salvation does not depend on mans decision, but on God's. For my children to pretend to themselves that God has saved them, or worse yet, for me to pretend for them, does them no good now or, especially, eternally.

Lastly, pretending that they are saved when there is no evidence, has no benefit to others. If, as a Christian, I attempt to raise my children according to what Scripture says, and if I allow anything else but the Bible's description of salvation to be portrayed while I am toting the good life, and if I neglect to confront them on their own state of salvation, I have not only damned them but anyone else that they have one iota of a godly influence on in their young lives.

Take Trent's life for instance. People assumed that because he was young he went to Heaven. That isn't what Scripture says. Try as I might, I can find no verses that say all twelve year old boys go to Heaven. I do find verses that say that salvation is only offered through the atoning blood of Christ, it is granted by God, by His grace, and the result is a professing of our mouths and lives that reveal the work God has done. That work was revealed in my son's life through his confession of his sinful state and the realization that he wasn't right with God. The confession of that sin, and his desire for a Savior, was the work of the Holy Spirit so that this young boy could boast in nothing but the grace of God.

It's pretty simple: No transformation, no salvation. Our carefully scripted prayers have nothing to do with providing salvation other than to point to the grace of God. They are not the means, but the result, of God's preordained work. That is why it is so glorious, because it's all about God, not us.

Am I my children's judge? By no means. Am I their mother, who has been given the task of pointing these young people to their only hope for salvation as Scripture lays out? Absolutely. Do I strive as in labor pains for the transforming work of the Spirit in their lives, being brought to my knees in tears begging that God would grant them hearts for Him as their ultimate delight? Every day. Why? Because there is no greater joy that I long for them to have than to know their Holy Creator.

Monday, May 5, 2014


Sometimes, life has a way of zooming on by without bothering to ask if we can keep up or even looking back to see if we're buckled in for the ride. The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind of exhausting, amazing, satisfying, God filled, as well as plenty of mundane, activities. One of the highlights of those frenzied activities was running the 5k race.

I survived. I did not come in first. I did not come in last. I did take a wrong turn and instead of running 3.1 miles, I ran more than 3.1, but whose counting?

On so many levels, the activity of running grows and stretches a person. It was growth far beyond the new muscles and the shin splints that kept this middle aged woman putting one step in front of the other. Some stubborn determination to finish what I said I'd do was definitely a part of it, with perhaps some pride mingled in to show the kiddos that I could actually make it. But the best benefit was the spiritual aspect.

Out there on that course it is only your sheer determination that gets you to that finish line. Only the hope of actually seeing those flags flying, possibly around the next bend, keeps you from laying down in the ditch and instead forces you to keep going. Half way through the race I was overwhelmed with why I was out there. The race was in honor of keeping the legacy alive of another little boy who left his momma's arms sooner than she expected. It was a race to honor our children who are not with us.

I was a mother running in honor of my son.

My arms raised as my soul felt again the impact of that reality. That finish line became synonymous with the ultimate finish line of Heaven and the sting of that strained muscle in my thigh became the ache of grief; the ache that hasn't dissipated even after three years and I assume will probably never totally dull. But as it has been a joy to look back upon the accomplishment of crossing that finish line, so will it be a joy to cross over the finish line of eternity when God calls. To look back, to see the ache as a vague memory that was nothing compared to the victory, to look ahead to glory.

So I'll keep running, both physically and spiritually as God leads, because eventually, possibly around the next bend, I'll see those flags flying.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

5k's and Such

It's interesting how the patterns of our lives change. A couple of years ago I would have never considered training for a 5K, figuring that there was no need for extra running given all the exercise I got from chasing my herd of goats around the farm. Now, with no critters to speak of, other than the dozen chickens who don't need much chasing, the thought of running is nearly a daily occurrence and I can now manage a three mile walk/pathetic jog. Funny thing is, the more I run the less tired I am. Going to bed later, and getting up and actually out of bed before 6:00 a.m., has felt good. My muscles ache and the relentless pain in my thigh screams that there must be an easier hobby, but I know in the end I will be better for this one.

Cole tells me that I need to learn how to breathe; gasping isn't acceptable. He told me to come up with a simple chant, so I've started bringing Scripture with on our treks. My latest verse has been Ephesians 1:11.

In Him we were also chosen {gasp}
having been predestined {gasp}
according to the plan of Him{gasp} 
who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will {big gasp}.

Our first scheduled running event is less than a week away where we plan to run in the River's Run and Ride Rally. Not by any means to win, but to be out there supporting other families who have been called to walk the hard walk of grief. We'll be sharing our books, so, if you're a prayer, please pray for God's glorious gospel message to reach many. If you're local, come and join us to walk in honor of Trent (there is a 1 mile option available to non racers). If you come looking for me, I'll be the one sprawled on the gravel in the middle of the race path repeating my verse.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

To All the Mommas

"For I know the plans I have for you," 
declares the Lord, 
"plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you a hope and a future." 
Jeremiah 29:11

To all the Mommas who had to endure an empty Easter basket this year:

I hope you remembered how much God loves you.

I hope you were able to smile through the tears.

I hope you could feel the embrace of God as He leads you down this path to know Him better.

I hope His grace enveloped you as you waited yet another day to see how His glorious plan to prosper you will display His glory.

I hope you cried the tears, and filled the basket any way, and ate an extra chocolate Easter bunny like I did.

I hope you know that you are not alone in this battle of belief.

I hope you know that God is worthy of any sacrifice He calls His children to.

I hope you still have hope.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Pure Joy

Pure joy. Those two words are pounding through my head this morning as I fight to keep eternity in perspective. God tells his children to consider trials pure joy because they test our faith, and in the end, the man who perseveres under trial will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him (James 1:3 &12).

I remind myself that this agonizing pain of missing a son is pure joy. It is a constant battle between flesh and soul. One, I believe, that is a gift to fight. One that most days I would trade in a heart beat just to have one more hug, one more sunrise with a teenage boy walking down the stairs saying “Good morning, Mom,” one more night of sharing my cheese puffs. But Scripture calls it pure joy in its perfect,  conforming, eternal benefiting form of chiseling my hands off of the temporary, shallow way of living that I used to indulge in.

"Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn't want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn't seem to be any reason to leave. The door's wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it's too late." (Quote from the movie God's Not Dead. Haven't seen it? Go see it!)

I realized, again, that doctrine is not a substitute for God. I've concluded, after days if not weeks of unintentionally replacing my Savior with other comforts as innocent as my own beliefs, that God wants us to be satisfied with Him. Not who we think He is, or who our pet doctrines make Him out to be, but to find our complete satisfaction in who He really is. To behold Him in His glory as we stand in awe of Him; simply Him. Stripped of our preconceived ideas and merely loving our Creator. Melting in His holy presence and crawling into His lap to be held as a child, knowing that He has this all under control. 

Sometimes I wonder how something so majestic can be so easy.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Don't You Know Me?

"Don't you know me ... even after I have been among you such a long time?"

Jesus asked the age-old question of Philip in the book of the Apostle John (John 14:9), but the way the query of truth resonated in its quest of probing my soul, it was as if the Savior had asked the heart searching interrogation directly to me this morning. The words popped off the page and stabbed the place in my heart that needed convicting. The particular passage was a re-read on my journey through the New Testament; familiar words that speak volumes, taking on a voice of their own with each new round. This habit of daily spending time in the Word and prayer, nearly twenty years now of  a quiet corner with a cup of coffee and a worn version of Scripture, comes down to this question: Don't I know Jesus? Even after all this time?

Philip had asked for a clearer revelation. One clearer than physically walking, talking, living and doing life with the flesh and blood Jesus. As I read the account, I wondered if he had witnessed the Pharisees asking this same question, or heard Jesus' response to them. I wondered at Jesus' presumably shaking head, the hurt, the deep pain of doubt as, again, one of His own stood before him wondering if He was telling the truth.

I saw myself.

I saw my doubt.

I saw my petty requests for a clearer revelation, maybe the skies parting and a glimpse of Heaven, then I could live the rest of my life believing beyond a doubt and would get off my keester and commit my whole being, laziness and all, to being poured out as a fragrant offering to whatever the Lord asked of me. Then I wouldn't grumble or complain about the paths my Maker had wisely designed for my existence. I would happily suffer whatever was necessary for the sake of the gospel to resound loudly through my life, for the sake of the glory of God, for the anticipation of seeing His face on That Day, on hearing the longed for words, "Well done, good and faithful servant." Yes, I had profoundly decided, a glimpse of the eternity where my son now resides would settle it all for me.

But then came the words... "Don't you know Me?"




Yes, I know you, Lord. You are the One who allowed me to see my son's body lying on that emergency room gurney and to praise you for it. The One who carried me through those anguishing first days of grief with an enormous outpouring of grace, a grace so thickly poured out that it could be felt, a grace that cushioned and comforted and baffled. The One who has shown me where I am with you. The One who is proving my hearts true desire. I know You.

You said that you wouldn't leave me. You said that you would send a Comforter. You said that your Word was you; that your Word was enough to sustain us to know you until we see you face to face. You said that my sorrow now would turn to rejoicing. You said that it is an honor to suffer alongside of you. You said that you are coming soon. You said that these trials are less than nothing compared to the glory that will be revealed. You said that I can trust you. You said to ask for anything in your name, and You would do it.

I ask, Lord, that Your will would be done. That Your name would be high and lifted up. That I would become less as You become more. I pray that You would be glorified and that the personal cost to my temporary life would be my least concern. I pray that You would continue to give me the eyes to see the worth of dieing to self in order to live for You, the heart to trust, and the ability to go forth proclaiming the good news so that the captives might be set free. I pray that You would get all the glory in it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

But the Lord took me from tending the flock and said to me,
"Go, prophesy to my people Israel."
Amos 7:15

I was a goat farmer when God called me. My days enjoyably consisted of tending my flock of critters and children, gardens and home, while I pursued what I thought was a deep walk with Christ: reading my Bible, attending church and prayer services, doing my duty in the nursery. Then God showed up with reality. Eternity appeared before us with a dose of acknowledgement that couldn't be ignored. The truths that God had been laying as a foundation in my life were now called upon to be lived out. He shook my world and called me to greater desires.

When the grace of God is poured out on a person there is no going back, only going deeper and closer to that Light. The world around you dulls in the presence of Jesus and the previously glittering distractions are no longer a lure. You have no choice but to want more. Not more of the world, but more of the moments when it is all about God's glory.

I don't know how to adequately describe the transformation. I don't know how to tell you what it feels like to be so close to Holiness where you are allowed to sense the very near presence of your Maker and still breathe. The day of Trent's death was a day of repentance. "I believe you now, God, help me overcome my unbelief." I thought I was living for Christ before that day. Now I only long to live for Him. To live with nothing here that I won't want to leave on the day that He calls me.

To live desperately needing God for everything is addictive and satisfying. But I don't have a need for God now in the same way that I did three years ago. I want to live where I need Him. I want my life to be poured out to walk like Jesus walked. I am excited to see how God plans to fulfill that longing in the days that I have left to live for Him alone.

"These are the words of Him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Wake up!
Strengthen what remains and is about to die,
for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God.
Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard;
obey it, and repent.
But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief,
and you will not know at what time I will come to you."
Revelation 3:1-3

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Building Castles

Do not work for food that spoils, 
but for food that endures to eternal life, 
which the Son of Man will give you. 
John 6:27a

Doing crazy things like selling the farm and most of your worldly possessions in response to what you acknowledge as the calling of God opens your life up for speculation. Especially when that calling includes a double wide trailer house, the stigma of how weird you really must be can't be faked on the kind people's faces who can barely help but offering their opinion. The past few days have included more human contact than I have had most of this long, cold winter thanks to tax appointments and social obligations. Honestly, the weather was a good excuse to hide from the world and just bunker down with very few other opinions than God's.

What a strange awakening to come out of my little cocoon and get a taste of the outside world. I assumed, because of how we live, that every professing believer was actually a believer. Since my days are consumed with thoughts of God and eternity, I figured that every other disciples thoughts were, too. I spend my days thinking about how to please the Lord, what my first glimpse of eternity will be, wondering what Jesus really looks like, anticipating the full redemption of my sinful nature and the body it is trapped in, wrestling with Scripture, and longing desperately for the satisfaction of being in the presence of my Savior.

So what a shock to not find that, especially in church going folk who gather regularly on Sunday mornings. It baffles me. Makes me shake my head and wonder if I am too radical. Maybe too gung-ho about all this Jesus and salvation stuff. Maybe I am the one who has made too much emphasis on the fact that eternity is going to be such a long time. Maybe I should tone it down and just live for now, building my castles here rather than seeking to build them in Heaven. Maybe Jesus was too intent on His Father's kingdom. Somehow, I don't think so.

There is a recently signed contract to sell the farm sitting on my cluttered computer desk. Whew. Holding our breaths, realizing all the crazy emotions combined in one that this is really happening, we now wait for the end of the month when there will {Lord willing} be no more farm mortgage payments. At the same time, being cautiously excited for what the future holds and praying that it will make us available and willing for whatever God asks next, all the while believing that having less of this world will give us a greater longing for eternity.

My ever wise daughter, Alexis, calmed my frazzled response to the varied opinions on our move when she wondered out loud if others were scared that God might call them to what He has called us to, therefor it is easier to call us crazy than to wonder if God really meant that we should live wholly for Him and not invest the majority of our time, money, emotions, talents, etc., etc., in this world. After all, the rich man preferred his riches over having Jesus, she reminded me.

It makes me stop and ponder every object that I think I can't part with as we pack up this junque. "Will this go with me to eternity?" I continually ask myself as I am sorting through our possessions. Nope. None of it. Like the good folks in Hebrews who gladly gave up their belongings because they knew there were better and lasting ones awaiting them (Hebrews 10:34), I try to remember what all this stuff really is.

I remind myself to be patient as I resist the urge to build my castle here, and instead longingly look forward to a lasting castle. I don't think Jesus was kidding. He is coming soon. He does expect His children to be looking and waiting for Him. He will separate the sheep and the goats. Eternity will be a long, long time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sixteen Years Ago

But I am the Lord your God...
I cared for you in the desert,
in the land of burning heat.
Hosea 13:4a

Sixteen years ago a son was brought forth from my womb. This morning I am again recalling that day. I remember the pain and the contractions on top of contractions caused by the induction medicine that was administered because he was thought to be several days overdue. I remember the doctor who insisted that I would labor eight hours longer than I did. I remember my mother's hands braiding my hair in an attempt to soothe the pain that was so necessary.

I remember the nurses taking him from my breast shortly after he was born to administer oxygen, a foreshadowing of his life perhaps. I remember my husband stealing him back, refusing to be separated from his firstborn son.

I remember the struggle to feed him from my body over the next several months, and to draw near to him for fear of my intense love that seemed like too much. I remember the battles over his little soul in the years to come. I remember the day of his salvation, the acknowledgement of a Savior's grace, the hope of eternity in the presence of a holy God.

I remember counting his toes again on that hospital bed in the emergency room the day he died, just like the day he was born: one, two, three, all the way to ten. I remember God's grace when He gave and when He took away. This same God, who cared for the Israelites in the desert, who cared that a twelve year old boy needed a Savior, who knows the sound of a mother's falling tears.

I find this pain to be a driving force that pushes me closer to Him, not away, lest I be satisfied here in the temporary, becoming proud and comfortable and ultimately forgetting my God. This beckoning found through suffering, the hurt that penetrates so deep, is an offer to draw near to the Almighty.

The calming words of Scripture from the Sovereign One who intends to carry me all the way until I see His face has assured me that His plans are perfect. I can't see the full eternal worth of this suffering right now, but the God who called me to this trial continues to prove over and over again that He is faithful. He cares for me in the desert. In Him will I be satisfied.

Monday, February 17, 2014

To Repent of an Inadequate View of God

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
    How unsearchable His judgments,
    and His paths beyond tracing out!

 “Who has known the mind of the Lord?
    Or who has been his counselor?”

 “Who has ever given to God,
    that God should repay them?”

 For from Him and through Him and for Him are all things.
    To Him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

Tomorrow marks three years that my son has been in Heaven. The mother in me goes insane at the thought of that reality. I have been fighting the approaching date, knowing that it will eventually arrive, but not knowing what to do with it. The impossibility of honoring the meaning of such an anniversary makes me want to ignore it. Three years in the presence of God. My mind doesn't even know how to comprehend that.

On this side of eternity, the earthly pain of the anniversary was ushered in early via a wrong number dialed on a teen-age boys cell phone last Friday. A friend pushed the wrong button and the call rang through to our house and was answered by Rob. When he kindly asked what was up, the young fellow responded that was headed out to go skiing with the youth group. Instant flashbacks found a grown man bauling in the kitchen on Valentine's day.

Flashbacks have been a constant companion of mine, also, the past few weeks. Paralyzing memories that bring on panic attacks and mind numbing apathy. Desperate prayers, void of any further desire other than for God Himself to come to the rescue. Longing for the reminder that this suffering is for His glory.

This morning, the dawning of the eve of the anniversary, found me in a sorrier state than I thought I was already in. Thinking that I could stoically make my way through this, God soon revealed that He had other plans. Plans to put me on my knees physically and spiritually. Plans that included many tears and much repentance over the lowly place that I have put Him.

Without realizing it, I had dethroned the King and minimized His very being. Whining and pathetic, I have enjoyed wallowing in my own created pity party and refused to even look up.

Nevertheless, in His great mercy, God revealed a glimpse of Himself and what I saw was glorious.

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord,
high and exalted, seated on a throne;
and the train of his robe filled the temple.  

Above him were seraphim, each with six wings:
With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet,
and with two they were flying. 

 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”

 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook
 and the temple was filled with smoke.   
Isaiah 6:1-4

I was graciously reminded that this was the God that Trent stands before right now. The God whose robes fill His temple. The God who sits seated upon His throne, ruling His universe perfectly. The God who gives me breath for this moment is the same God that chose the day of Trent's death, the ways to make Jesus' name known through it, and the same God that will sustain me until I see His face.
I was reminded all over again of my inadequate view of God.

For all you sweet well wishers who have prayed me through this trial and have wondered how I am faring this week, please take the time to watch this video by John Piper. This is how I'm doing. This is what I am hoping in:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

But if it is...

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; 
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 
Ezekiel 36:26

I could almost feel it as I lay there. That still rock-hard place in my heart that revealed my unbelief. Somehow it has been allowed to linger, and the unspoken questioning has caused it to grow until I could sense its presence even physically. The results of letting it manifest were becoming evident, and only predawn heart searching was able to fully reveal it.

"What if?"

The phantom question that must ring through every human's mind as they seriously consider a God they cannot see or touch. What if it is all just a made up book? What if God isn't real? What if there is no eternity? The barrage continued from unnamed whispers, from my fear of man, from my own apathy to not bother to battle them back. Prayers, even in the midst of my own doubt. A crying out, a lifeline to the God that has to be there lest this is all a charade.

But if it is real...

What if there is a God, as the evidence so clearly points to? What if there really are angels, seraphim and cherubim, hovering over a throne? What if the glory of God really does fill His courts? What if the saints are crying out "Holy, holy, holy" constantly in His presence because He is that holy? What if eternity is forever? And what if Trent is really there right now?

Then what?

As I repented, and asked God to remove the hardness, He was faithful to take it away. Took away the stone that was forming and fleshed out my heart once again. Calming the doubts and overwhelming me with His truth.

Which led me to more questions...

What if I am wasting my whole life investing here, only to see the reality of God's face on "that day"? There will be no doubting then. How then shall I live right now? What should I pursue? On that day, where do I want to be found? Seeking hard after Him, or building my kingdom here?

The truth that I know - know that I know - is that we will all see God's face, some sooner than others. We will all bow, some willingly, others not. My prayer for you is that this Savior Jesus would give you the desire to seek Him now, and cause you to desperately long for Him now, so that you will be ready on "that day."

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fenced In

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places. Psalm 16:6a

It's 1:45 a.m. There is no reason why I shouldn't be pleasantly sleeping, snug and cuddled down under several blankets in the middle of a cold, dark night. But my eyes are wide open and my mind is racing. The digital numbers on the alarm clock show that it's way too early to start the day. Instead, I lay there tossing and turning for a while before I realize why I've been startled awake.

The panic again. To know, even during subconscious hours while I should be snoozing, that Trent is not here. Waking up to that reality over and over becomes almost unbearable. As long as I am moving I can run ahead of it, but laying in a bed in a dark house means that only my mind is active. Normally, lately, I try stuffing it, holding the information at arm's length, setting it aside so that I can function, pretending that I can go forth with life. But 1:45 a.m. is too early to get moving and keep the depths of grief at bay by busyness.

So I turn instead to where I should start rather than just end up. To God. "Here I am, Lord," I usually say when it's middle of the night conversations that He desires, hoping, in all truthfulness, to not have to hash out where exactly I am with my son's death in light of the Sovereign One.

I am immediately overwhelmed with prayers for the salvation of my children. A certain teen-age boy has been where I've been battling the hardest these days. My desire to see him grow into a young man who longs for God above all is my constant plea. The list goes on for those that I love until I realize the cover up that even prayer can be. Honesty is so hard, especially with God sometimes.

I begin to wonder where God went. I can tell myself all the theological answers, but they don't make up for my longing for Him. I desire that closeness again, and soon realize who has moved. I realize that I don't get down on my knees anymore, but instead have settled for mediocrity. I am scared to draw near. Scared to feel so much. Scared to be honest. Scared to listen. Scared to say that Trent's death is a reality and this is how life will forever be. Scared to wonder if all of my children are never saved how will I ever survive eternity. Scared to let God be God if my heart is only faking the peace. Knowing that there is no faking with God.

The words of Psalm 16 ring through my brain. How the Holy Spirit whispers so sweetly as I swirl down in my own emotional spiral never fails to surprise and comfort me. I look around and realize that as I have been trying to keep all the plates spinning and the answers in line I have forgotten to look up until I have almost been swept away in the dizzying attempt to do this myself.

"The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places." Psalm 16:6a

I have been fenced in. When I read the words earlier in the day they had stood out to me, and for the third time in twenty-four hours they made a big impact on this walk. Scripture says that God has set His lines in pleasant places. Trent's death is a boundary line drawn in pleasant places.

The pleasant place that God has boxed me in to is the place where He matters. A place where life and death matter. A place where my soul has to constantly be in the process of being made right with my Creator. A place where eternity is reality and this temporary life is a facade rather than the other way around. A place where Scripture is truth and a life line. A place where I have been tenderly placed for my soul's own good. A reminder that there is a "boundary placer" who has me just where He wants me: in pleasant places.

I forgot the next part of the verse until I ventured down the stairs in the dark and opened up to the marked page in my overflowing Bible: "Surely I have a delightful inheritance." Psalm 16:6b

Again, the reminder of eternity. A delightful inheritance filled with joy in the presence of God (Psalm 16:11). The God who has me fenced in.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Fuzzy Teeth Day

"What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.
From now on those who [mourn should live as if they did not]."
Paraphrase from 1 Corinthians 1:29-30

It's after noon and I realize that I'm still sitting here at the computer, in my PJ's, with fuzzy teeth. A nasty realization on this chilly January day. I've been lost in a huge picture project, and honestly, it's been too cold to even want to think about stripping and putting on fresh clothes, let alone showering. The PJ's are comfy. If I did yoga I'd call them yoga pants, and along with the big sweatshirt they pass for being dressed. Until the mailman comes with a special delivery, that is, sending us all scurrying and being glad that the teenage boy is into the whole fashion thing lately. Fuzzy teeth: a sad realization that I am a forty-some year old housewife.

The apathy seems to be a side effect of the hibernation that sets in this time of year. After the holidays have subsided (and I realize that I've survived them yet again) we settle in to quiet projects. There has been more home school finished around here in the past couple of weeks than since school started in September. Biology, American History and Economics are all crossed off the list. Whew! With an anticipated move once the weather warms up, we are all in the zone: the get school done zone.

We just endured a week where the mercury barely rose above zero for four days straight. Brrr. Makes me think South sounds good. Missions in India. A tropical beach house. Or, perhaps, gracing the doors of the gym would be enough to feel warm again. Then I remind myself that I haven't even made it out of my pajamas today. Lazy bum.

I pray that God would continue to do His work with Trent's story while I can't muster up the energy to do anything. Emotionally, I am maxed out. Getting off my duff is asking a lot. Spiritually, I am dry. I am reminded of Isaiah 55 and God's offer to the thirsty. I come, but am only able to take a sip. Sometimes, a sip is all that one can handle.

As I battled this morning for some kind of victory this side of eternity, the comparison of our waiting for our physical home move and our moving to Heaven donned on me. At this time of dullness I realized that God is still doing His work (Romans 11:33). I forget that how I classify His work is not His way of classifying His work. I want flashing, glorious, loud, clear, blasting. God often does quiet. And heart searching. And soul changing. And fuzzy teeth sitting at a computer kind of work. Somehow the waiting is significant, even if it only looks like lazy in my do-something-Martha eyes.

The apostle Paul reminded me, as one who is mourning, to live as if I wasn't. God could not have been more direct in answering my pleas for Scriptural hope to go on today. Live as if I am not mourning. Why? "Because the time is short." (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)

Several souls in our community have entered eternity recently. There was a horrible accident involving the deaths of three children that touched the lives of our small towns. A patriarchal, elderly gentleman has also faced God after a long battle of physical ailments. The vet's secretary has passed from this life. And on, and on, and on. I browse the list of the "lives lived" section of the newspaper and realize how much more significance there is in that simple reference. One week of worldly glory having your name on the front page, a well worded obituary in the back, and then their memories are long forgotten by the vast majority. But their souls go on.

Sitting in bed, innocently reading a book, the thought came to me for the umpteenth time that Trent is in Heaven. As we have been forced to get used to him being gone from our daily routine, he has been experiencing Heaven. Everyday waking up to the glory of God. I wonder what that looks like, to wake up in Heaven...

As I tucked my kids into their beds the other night I was suddenly overcome with the paralyzing fact that Trent has no one to tuck him in. People have naively encouraged us that it must be so wonderful to know that Jesus is taking care of him now. And, yes, granted he would be almost sixteen, but I'm his mother. I took care of him his whole life. I want to tuck him in and kiss him good night.

I force the verses to reign as my body sinks down the wall and the tears slide down my cheeks. This is never something a parent will get used to. You continue to live, you have no choice, but as a Christian, your life becomes about learning what it is to die for the sake of Christ. Really die for Him. To trust Him, and to be real with yourself, asking again and again if you really do trust Him.

I don't recall that God ever said living for Him would be easy. He rather said that it would be nearly impossible, but that these present trials would not even be worth comparing to the glory to come. He said that He would walk with you through the trial, giving the needed grace to endure to the end, not that He would take away the trial. The longing for a perfect eternity in His presence grows deeper with every twist of the pain.

It was not for this day and age that Jesus endured, but for the coming Day that He will reign. The Day when sin will be fully done away with and all things will be put under His feet, including death. Victory will not be obtained fully here, but instead, through suffering, a Christian is given a foretaste, an hors d'oeuvre of the feast to come. There is so much more. "If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied," Paul said (1 Corinthians 15:19). I continue to force my brain to look beyond this day. To that day when the victory will be complete.

The time is short. I wait for God's energy to get me to the glorious part. I attempt to live in the now, doing the menial things that I feel I am called to right now rather than the "big" things I prefer to do. Sitting, staring at the blinking lights, sorting out the past and hoping for the future. I wait for the sun to shine again in our cold part of the country, knowing that with it will come the energy to do the work that is waiting.