Friday, October 11, 2013

Life Reduced to List!

Life! What is the stuff of your life? If you were to suddenly disappear, what would be left in the dust?
Almost four years ago, my parents left their wonderful home on the top of a mountain in NC to live with one of my sisters. Their age and their physical and mental challenges made the move long overdue!
We put off  the HUGE, gigantic distribution of their stuff for almost three of those years. It is a gargantuan task!  My brother catalogued - in an arduous process - all the 10s of 10s of pages of stuff and also took pictures. Finally, a few months ago we began a kind of family lottery - a two plus hour telephone conference each time rotating thro our ranks - 4 sisters, 1 brother - each making a choice and then moving to the next round.
We had session #5 last night. We had agreed last night to make two choices each in each rotation. It's all only stuff! We learned that lesson well as our parents modeled it for us! So, the most beautiful "stuff left in living hearts" is that there has not been even one single disagreement or cross word!
In many ways, this is a wonderful life reduced to a list. However, the real legacy is not the stuff! The real legacy is the relationships we share! We share a love for our parents (one who has since gone on to heaven) and for each other that clearly says, I love you more than I care about stuff! That's what's real!
I love you, my family, more than you know! Thank you for walking this wonderful, terrible road with me! It makes life reduced to this list not so painful!  
The bottom line is that there are no UHauls going to heaven! And, when all the dust settles, all the treasures of this life will return to dust except for the treasures of our hearts! 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Broken Pot Shines!

It's only a simple terra cotta pot. Nothing special!  But, it becomes a parable of life! 
Yesterday I got a phone call from the mom of one of my students. She sounded a notch beyond panicked. I could hardly understand her. Finally I did understand that she needed a friend who could stand in the gap for her at that moment. I had just walked in the door from a long day at school. She had been held up by a younger son (who has cystic fibrosis) whose immediate needs supplanted her ability to pick up my other son after school. I had to be assertive but I told her I would get her son, bring him to my house and for her to pick him up there whenever she could.
Long story short I had to have a little help too as it was almost time she would be picking him up and I was at least 20 minutes away. To add to that I was waiting on the "gutter guy." My husband called to say he was held up and couldn't cover with the "gutter guy." God is amazing! He's always in the shadows ready to meet every need! I called another mom and asked if she would pick up my student. Then I dispatched the "gutter guy" rather quickly and went to get my student at the 2nd mom's home.
By the time I got back, Mom #1 was there with her other son. Last night she sent me a really sweet email which I share, not because I'm so great but because it shows something about the pot. She was responding to my email assuring her that it was not bother to help and to call me any time:
You did much more than help me a little . . . you did more than help me a lot. You won't know until you get your many crowns to throw before His feet. Thank you for everything, including the loving encouragement and beautiful example of His love.

Back to the pot. Let's just suppose we would break that pot together - smash it. Then suppose you and I would take all those pieces and pick them up together. THEN you and I would take the pot and carefully reconstruct all the broken pieces back into its original shape. (Of course, we would also need some really good glue that would dry quickly.) Well, that's most probably not going to happen. There will still be cracks. The pieces may not even resemble the original pot at all.
Then suppose you and I would put a candle in the pot and light it. What will happen?
Light will shine through the brokenness!
Jesus said, I am the Light of the World. Whoever follows me will have a life filled with light and will never live in the dark. (John 8:12) 
You get it. I get it. We don't have to walk in darkness even in our brokenness! We can walk in the light not because we have it all together but because we don't. We don't have to have it all together. He does, and He is the Light!  That broken pot shines because of Him - shines through the brokenness!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Our Facebook Culture

It's almost like the daisy game. You know, He loves me, loves me not .......... But, it's no longer a silly game.
It's Facebook and it's about step-away relationships where we feel safe hiding behind the internet to like this and not like that. And so we click merrily away day after day: like, like, like, like, like, like, do not like  ........

We get request messages - "Like" my page. Businesses with FB presence thrive on how many "likes" they have. I have 23 requests today for me to like this or that.
I think we are becoming a cyber-culture with a Facebook face. We quickly click like to fit in or to trade likes but there's no real responsibility to stand behind our click. It's all about clicks and numbers!
Don't get me wrong! I love the connections we can make on the internet! I tweet and have a FB page, email and pin.
I also live in a more real world where I love and have relationships and care and cry. And, ultimately THAT's the world that matters!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Put on a Happy Face!

Yesterday at school I ran into a parent in the hall. I knew the family was going through a round of challenges related to a son who has cystic fibrosis. I asked the dad how things were going. His quick response was, "Fine, just fine."
I've been there and done that! For years when my boys were growing up, I had a series of very serious health issues. I spent many days in the hospital over about 10 years. We tried to live as normally as possible - whatever normal is.
For several reasons, among them being that I hate complainers and hate to complain and also because I know many people don't really want to hear it - I found myself with a similar mantra to my student's father - "Fine, just fine."  Often people teased me (and still do) that fine is my stock answer. It was and still is probably.
One Sunday morning years ago I was walking down the hall at church when an elder passed by. Without breaking stride he asked, "How are you, Ann?" I did not give my usual reply. Instead I answered, "Well, I just found out I have to have brain surgery." He kept going as he said over his shoulder, "That's great! I'm glad to hear it!"  I admit it was a test of sorts with no small amount of sarcasm on my part, but it gave me a valuable insight into how many people like me cope. Put on a happy face!
That's NOT how it's supposed to work in the Body of Christ! We are to bear one another's burdens. (Gal. 6:2) Paul says that's how we can fulfill the law of Christ. We cannot possibly bear a burden we don't know about which requires energy and persistence on the part of one partner in the burden-bearing process. It requires developing the art of listening well. It also requires vulnerability and humility on the part of the burdened! Putting on a happy face, hiding, wearing the fine mask do not fulfill the law of Christ nor lift any loads.
Lord Jesus, make me sensitive to see and be willing to help carry the needs of others even at the personal sacrifice of energy, time and heart. Help me to be willing to risk. Help me to share my own pain both for my good and for the good of others. Help me to be willing to share my own needs! Help us all to fulfill the law of Christ by being what the Body of Christ is supposed to be! Thank You that I don't have to hide behind a happy face when the reality is something else! I pray for the sake of Your Kingdom!