Tornado’s: Real and of the Mind

I cannot help but to feel like the floor just fell out from under me when disaster strikes. Of course, I am referring to the latest disaster, the Oklahoma tornado’s. I’m recovering from a rather wicked cold, flopping down on the couch and turning on the tube have been my MO over the past few days. But Monday brought something more than mindless relaxation via the tube. The first thing I heard when I pressed the power button was: go to your safe place. No, it did not involve middle Tennessee, but the state of Oklahoma. The weather guy even went so far as to say that an interior room would not be sufficient, you must go under ground. Yikes. The devastation was so complete, I could scarce take it in. Splinters, fires, mud and rubble. No stone left unturned. When I caught my breath I was angry. Yes, angry with God. Now, as a seasoned Christian I should know better. I SHOULD know better. But, like all believers of the Bible, I do have my moments when I wrestle with God. Don’t all kids go toe to toe with their parents, yes, even the parent’s who love them? I would dare say yes we do. 

So I stomped my feet, metaphorically, and absorbed the horror I was seeing. And I wondered what it would be like to try to go to sleep with no home, no car, no clothes, no food, no peace. Then I raged some more. How long Lord? When will the devastation stop on this whirling blue planet? Of course I prayed. It was all I could feasibly do in the moment. It is  all most of us can tangibly do when we see things that potentially overwhelms us.

I guess the point of this post is this: Can we trust God and still be mad at Him on occasion? Yes we can. Does questioning our heavenly father sever our relationship with Him? No. When Christ was dying a horrifying and gruesome death on the cross for all of humanity, there came a moment when he cried out: “My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me”? So if the only perfect being ever to walk the earth can have a moment, then I am truly at peace with the pain and doubt that creep up in my mind from time to time.

Jesus is the example we should always follow, in good times and in bad. I woke up this morning in my own bed in my intact house and thanked God for all of it. What can I do to help those left homeless and adrift in Oklahoma? Well of course pray with all I’ve got. But more than just gratitude, I have the added opportunity to give to my local churches that will undoubtedly be giving or even physically going out to this devastated community. The Red Cross is another great way to help, they are the “hands and feet” of God. This is one of those times when I can truly say: “Except for the grace of God, there goes me”. Proverbs 23:18 “There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off”.
Amen and Amen.

“Love Fullfills the Law”

“You ran well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? This persuasion does not come from Him who calls you. A little leaven leavens the whole lump. I have confidence in you, in the Lord, that you will have no other mind; but he who troubles you shall bear his judgment , who ever he is.

And I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why do I still suffer persecution? Then the offense of the cross has ceased. I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off!

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this ” You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:1-14 NKJV

Who is my neighbor? Not just the guy next door. Not just our friends. Not just the people we feel comfortable with (that’s too easy). No, our neighbor is the guy on the street asking for a handout. The kid who needs a pat on the back, because he never gets one at home. The single mom struggling with everything. The tattooed dude and the pierced girl. Gay people, straight people, white people, black people. Old people, young people. Rich people, poor people. Hindus. Muslims. Atheists. The pretty people and the not so pretty. Who is my neighbor? Everyone.

“Mom”

With mother’s day right around the corner I thought it would be appropriate to write a post about my mom. I may not have another mother’s day with her, so I feel truly blessed to be with her this Sunday.  My mom has been very sick with myriad health problems for several years. I just can’t take her presence for granted anymore. Is she or was she perfect? Well, no and yes. She was and is perfect for me. I grew up in a time when feminism and materialism pushed many a young mom out the door and into the work force. Looking back I can see the social and economic pressure this generation of women were under to “have it all”. I was the oldest child with two younger brother’s, and a lot of responsibility fell on my shoulders. I didn’t really think much of it, that was my normal. It taught me how to be a home-maker, to be responsible and to work well under pressure. Ok, I did not always work well under pressure and my brother’s felt the wrath of it on more than one occasion. It was not a perfect life, but it was my life and it has served me well.

My mom always worked full-time and then came home to do cooking and  laundry, etc. About the laundry, this was one area that she had complete domain. She was the” goddess” of laundry as she was aptly nick-named. That woman could get a stain out of anything! On vacations she spent equal time vacationing AND doing laundry. We could be at a time-share or hotel or visiting family and she would find the laundry room and make it her own. The smell of clean laundry will always remind me of my mom. She was also the family taxi. Baseball, football, ballet, cheerleading and the trips to the mall, to name a few destinations.

I know I did not appreciate her as much as I do now, hind sight can give us much-needed clarity. As a popular commercial of the day went: “She can bring home the bacon and fry it up in the pan……………”. But, that’s not nearly as glamorous as the TV made it look. Many a late night I remember hearing the clanking of dishes being washed and the whirring of the clothes washer. Part of me wanted to get up and help her, we all had to get up early, but in the mind of a typical thirteen year old, sleep was much more lucrative. But the memory has always stayed with me. And it is a memory of gratitude.

And she loved us unconditionally. Nobody better mess with her kids, now mind you, she could mess with us, but nobody else better go there! Woe to anyone who messes with the off-spring of the mother tiger! I could count on her to love me no matter what. Now that I have three children of my own I have come to learn many things, but this one thing stands out. The love our mother’s have for us and the love we have for own children is as close as we can get to understanding God’s love for us.  I know, that I know, that I know God has given us these little signs along the way to reveal himself to us. I can’t explain it, but I love these little glimpses of heaven, this side of heaven.

I miss talking to her on the phone everyday, it’s funny, my dad was not the phone talker. My mom was the liaison between me and my brother’s and our dad for information about our whereabouts and well-being. Not that dad did not care, he cared deeply. It’s just that mom was the ring-master of all things kid related. If an ambulance sounded its siren within ear shot of mom, you could count on her to be making  the welfare check via the phone. This was pre-cell phones era, so her phone inquiry’s  could be lengthy in tracking us down. This was to insure that none of her off-spring were the recipients of the wailing siren.

All her worry could not however, insure her from the heart-break of loss. And my mom has suffered the greatest loss of all. The loss of children. My two younger brothers left this world before her. One to a car accident at the age of twenty-two and the other son due to severe depression just over two years ago. You can see the loss on her beautiful face, heart-ache etched on her face and soul. I hope and pray I never have to endure this kind of loss. The loss of my two brother’s affected me profoundly, but not in the way it affects the mother tiger. I am so sad that any mom must endure this tragedy. Words cannot do

English: Happy Mother's Day Or should it be &q...

English: Happy Mother’s Day Or should it be ” mothers’ “? Balloons outside the Exeter branch of Birthday on the High Street in the week before Mothering Sunday. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

this type of pain justice. So I will leave it there.

Thank you mom for everything you did for me. All the things left unsaid, that a pithy blog will never cover. I love you. Happy Mother’s day.

 

“Break My Heart for what Breaks Yours”

300_444574There is a line in a contemporary Christian song:” Break my heart for what breaks yours.” This sends tears streaming down my face each and every time I sing it. But what does it really mean to me once I step out of church? Mother Teresa no doubt understood what it meant, and I am quite sure she never heard this song. So, what does this mean to me? How will I apply it to my own life from the comfort of my little house in the suburbs, not the gritty streets of Calcutta?

I will share what has been put on my heart as of late. I wake up in the middle of the night( as mom’s often do). Problems, concerns and troubles are rolling around in my head. I know this happens to believers in Christ, as well to those who may not know Him as their Lord and savior. But as a believer, I now know that this is an opportunity to hear God telling me what  breaks His heart.  In the total darkness and quietness God speaks. There is no television on, no music playing, no texting “bings”. He has my full attention right now. Is someone hurting? Are there fellow believer’s spreading the kingdom cause through hate and fear? Did some horrific item run on my news feed? Yes, yes, yes. So, I pray and pray some more.

Praying is something I can do from the comfort of my little house in the burbs. Does someone need a word of encouragement? Does a neighbor need some cookies baked for them? Do I need to drop something off for someone in need that I am not using? Just do it.

Other nights God speaks of things in my own life that need to go. Things I am allowing in my life that should not be there. He speaks this heart-break to me too. I did not necessarily ask for this mid-night revelation, but He knew I needed to hear from Him and He speaks.

So ask Him. What breaks your heart Lord? Show me, teach me, tell me. If I get too caught up in the distractions of daily life, He knows when my attention is fully His.  And the revelation of what is breaking His heart stirs me, wakes me, and He tells me. And I pray.  “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)