Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Light into Darkness

Are you tired of the brokenness around you and within you? Are you so weary with the struggle to even raise your eyes above the pain?  Are you floundering in the flood of cares too numerous to name? Is your heart fractured with the crushing load you carry each and every day? Are you trying desperately to swim through the oppressive darkness?
Ask God to give you a new perspective for the darkness! Ask Him to heal your brokenness. Trust Him to be strong for you when you have no strength left. Trust Him to make good on His promise:
I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; ... Isaiah 42:6a

ONLY He can open your eyes blinded by pain and disappointment! He will give you eyes to see Him walking ahead conquering all of your fears! He will give you peace and His amazing grace that is best discovered in the valleys as lonely and painful as they are. ONLY He will push back the darkness and give you His light and presence IN the darkness! He will take you by the hand and keep you THIS day! That's His promise and He always keeps His promises!

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Some years ago I got an email (of maybe a FAX since it was awhile back) from my brother. As happens in military situations, when one commander leaves and another one takes command, the new commander receives the "unit" flag to indicate the transfer of authority from one commander to the other.
In this particular case the new commander happened to be my brother. He was taking command of a "new" entity and there was no flag to pass so he was handed a blank flag to keep up the tradition. As the saying goes, "Close but no cigar!"
The problem was that my brother didn't want a blank white flag.
SO he was asking me if I could make a flag for his "unit." I could and I did! It was a process but we eventually got it done - hopefully to most people's satisfaction!
I am always reminded of that history when we sing "Surrender All" in our worship. The graphic behind the words is a hand waving a white flag a flag of surrender.
A white flag to my warrior brother wasn't a good thing! A white flag for the believer DOES signify something wonderful! It means, I give it all up! I surrender! I will live under Your banner, Jesus Savior and Conquering King!
A white flag as I lay my heart at the Savior's feet is an awesomely good thing!
Take all I am, Lord, and all that I cling to.
You are my Savior I owe everything to.
Take all my treasures that lie in my storehouse.
They cannot follow when I enter Your house.
So I surrender all to You, I surrender all!
Take all my cravings for vain recognition, fleshly indulgence and worldly ambition.
I want so much, Lord, to make you the focus ...
So I surrender all to You, I surrender all!
Take all my hunger for all that's forbidden, every desire and sin I keep hidden.
Search me and know me.
I want to bring to You a life that is holy and sanctified through You!
So I surrender all to You, I surrender all!

Friday, July 12, 2013

What I Learned from Jimmy!

His name was Jimmy. He is my very first memory of a special needs child. His parents - Don and Merle - had waited and waited for him and were ecstatic over his coming! I was a young child myself when I met Jimmy so I don't know a lot of details. He had a very large head and mostly just lay in his crib. He was a hydrocephalic baby.
Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain. The resulting increased intracranial pressure causes an enlarged head, seizures, developmental and mental disability. Jimmy had all of these.
I didn't know anything about disabilities. The only other disabled person I knew was my grandfather who had two artificial legs. I knew he took his prosthesis off when he went to bed as I saw them there once or twice. They might have been scary except that they were just a part of my beloved granddaddy with their wooden and then plastic legs and leather straps. Besides, I didn't know my grandfather was disabled. He was definitely differently abled but did NOT consider himself disabled in ANY way. And he didn't act disabled in any way either. So Jimmy was the first person I remember knowing was disabled.
I was in Jimmy's home on a fairly regular basis as our parents were good friends, and we went to the same church. It was sad to me that Jimmy was different from other babies, that he would never change in the way other babies grow and develop. But what impressed me much more than Jimmy's limitations was the love in that home. Jimmy was incredibly loved and celebrated. His room was the center of the home and full of light and joy!
I don't remember how long Jimmy lived but, one day, I heard that Jimmy had gone to heaven so I expect to see Jimmy again some day.
Since then I have known many other people with a wide range of disabilities. Some of them are dear friends! Some are members of my family. But, my take-away from Jimmy and his parents is that disabilities can be celebrated and should be! God makes each one of us special and in His own image!
In the New Testament Paul says: 
21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (I Cor. 12:21-27)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Road Less Traveled - Care-Giving

By "default" and choice she and he became care-givers 3 years ago (almost!). They took a little old man and a little old lady (who they loved very much) into their home. The little old couple were tenaciously clinging to their mountain home - tip-top, 3-story, "isolated" location up and down a winding road and 10+ miles to shopping, church, etc. That wasn't a good thing! It was dangerous in so many ways! It was way past time for a new season in life!

The little old man has gone to heaven, but the lady lives on in her own reality most of the time. She has pretty severe Alzheimer's! She's not easy to care for. She gives non-compliant new meaning. She can't remember that her life partner with whom she shared a rare and beautiful love for over 70 years is gone - at least not for more than a few minutes. Sometimes she can't even remember how to sit in a chair. So, care-giving is pretty intense!

Recently I had a front row seat on this action. I was amazed! NOT at how difficult this care-giving reality is tho' it's all that and a bag of chips! NOT at the unrelenting 24/7 immersion in care-giving even with respite support from aides and at least one sibling one day a week and monitors and friends! NO! What amazed me from the top of my head to the soles of my feet was the unconditional love poured out in that home hour after hour, the patience, the joy in the serving! It is a beautiful thing!

Care-givers are a special "breed"! It's usually a life that happens! It is intense! It is often lonely! It is heart and hand exhausting! It is taking the road less traveled! It is walking the servant path!

My front row seat overwhelmed me as I watched love in action - cleaning body fluids, patiently waiting and helping and doing. selflessly being a servant for a day and then getting up tomorrow to do it all over again and more beside - a list too long to name!

She said to me recently, Any of us would have done this just the same. I had to honestly say, NOT ME! I think I would have crashed and burned long before now! I can hardly wrap my mind around all the sacrifices - trust me - they are HUGE!

This is uncommon service with uncommon love and commitment down a path less traveled all to the glory of God and for love of a mother (and father)! I pray and marvel and help in such small ways but I'm not in the daily trench finding strength for each moment! I'm left whispering, To God be the glory and a huge thank you! He and she are my hero servants! Thank you for showing me Jesus as you walk this less traveled path!