Friday, October 16, 2009

Follow me as I follow Christ

Our goal as Christian parents is to produce spiritually mature adults, ready to serve the Lord in any way he directs. We work toward that goal by loving our children as God loves us and by setting a Christ-like example for them to follow. But even then we’ve only begun. The next step is urgent, and may best be introduced by these instructions to Timothy: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:14-17, NIV).
That last statement describes the very person I want to produce--a man of God thoroughly equipped for every good work. How can I know I brought Josh & JT to that place? We know that parents play a huge role in shaping what their children become. As the twig is bent, so the tree is inclined. God gives us our children for 18 or 19 or 20 years (or in Jarryd Thomas Patterson's case - 21 years and counting!) What we do with those years will stay with them for life and ultimately for eternity.
What part does influence play? Godly influence by itself cannot guarantee the salvation of our children. Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit. But God does use means. He uses godly parents to help produce godly offspring.
We all know that godly parents may have ungodly kids. There are Esaus and there are Jacobs. But godly parents do make a difference! Paul says “Follow me as I follow Christ.” How many of us as parents would dare to say that to our children? Yet that is precisely what we should say. As a single parent through most of the boys child rearing years, I struggled to know if I was doing my job as a Christian mother. In the early years after my divorce, I believed I had failed as a Christian wife, so why shouldn't I have doubts about being a Christian mother. I made sure that Josh and JT learned who Christ was, and that they knew He was a member of our family. As they were going through Confirmation, as a family we wrote our Family Creed, it still hangs in my home- signed by each of us. It goes:
Each one of us residing in this home is a valued member of our family. We will treat each other with the respect and love due them. We will give encouragement when one of us feels discouraged. We will do our part to see that our house is a home where we can find rest and comfort.
We will lean on each other for support and allow others to lean on us when they are in need of strength. When life becomes chaotic we will remind each other to slow down and replenish the soul.
We will proudly announce that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is a member of our family. We will seek Him out in time of need and give thanks in time of plenty. We will turn to Him daily and seek His guidance.
We will remember that by ourselves we stand alone, but together we stand united and strong.

As the boys grew in stature, I became aware that they were also growing in Christ. Both of them attended Chrysalis during their Sophomore year of high school and sponsored friends when they were eligible, they were active in FCA and Youth activities including counseling at Camp PYOCA and Mission trips. Each gave sermons at church during their Senior year in high school, and JT has given a couple of others since then and he often gave Children sermons. But all this happened while living at home with me, under my influence, under my rules. When the boys left to go off to college I was so thankful to see that one of the first things they did was find a church. This is when I thought 'maybe I didn't do such a bad job after all'. I knew all along I would never be my mother ... who could! But I was starting to believe the job I had started, was being continued by Josh and JT themselves. Could there be a prouder moment?

I realized the answer to that question the past couple of months. And the answer is YES! The proudest moment is when your children have children, and you see that the values you had as a parent, they too have. It is when you walk into their home and see your son, now a father, playing his guitar and singing bible songs to his infant son. It is when your grandson is ill and you see your grown son praying for his well being. It is when you see your son loving his wife as his best friend.

I am a proud mother; for with God's help I have been able to produce two men of God - thoroughly equipped for every good work. God is good.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I have a reason to worship.

I was just listening to Tear Down the Walls this morning. In the CD, there’s also a re-recording of the 'Desert Song'. I love this song, but I admit that last line causes me to think.

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Don't we only worship because there is something worthy of our adoration? Or is that just me? I may go to Worship, because it's Sunday and I am expected to be there. But I don't always feel worshipful. It may be (and usually is) because I am not right with God, it may be because I don't agree with what's being preached, but most often it's because I am not right with God.

This is when I have to go back to the line "You are still God". You are still God, no matter what. Whether my heart is right, or whether it isn't. You are still God, whether I praise you or if I don't. You are still God.

You are still God in EVERY season. Therefore, regardless of whether I feel like it I will sing Your praises, I will worship You.

As Job declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him” (Job 13:15). In other words, my reason for praising and worshipping God is God alone. Had Job relied on God’s blessing and tangible mercies to worship God, he might have rather taken his wife’s advice to “Curse God and die” (Job 2:9). Instead, Job understood that simply because God is God is reason enough to sing His praises, reason to worship.

All of my life, in every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Maybe when I am at church on Sundays, I should focus on Worshiping God, and not my attitude. Maybe if I did this I would find a worshipful heart, and lose my self pity. Maybe I need to remember that I have a reason to worship not only on Sundays, but every day, every moment, every event, every tear.

Maybe I just need to trust God, and find reason with that alone to worship Him.

Friday, October 2, 2009

I hate Cancer

I am really missing my sister tonight. Today, Kristen's (my nephew's wife) brother passed away from cancer. J.D. was only 13. Life is full of questions, and that is one I ponder over and over .... why? J.D. had a wonderful life, a wonderful family, a wonderful community. Now that life is gone, and a family and community are hurting. What good comes from J.D.'s death? What good came from Joannie's death? In both cases it came to a point where we had to pray for their release because we did not want their suffering to continue. It was unfair for us to do otherwise. But that doesn't mean we accepted their death; their separation from us. We ache, and that ache does not diminish with time. I know people try to tell you it does. But it doesn't. We accept death with parents ... we understand that timing. But not a sibling, and not at such a young age such as 13. It wasn't an accident ... it was Cancer! It wasn't someone's foolish mistake ... it was Cancer. And long after they have left us, that cancer can enter our hearts and reside for years. I know ... it still lives in mine. I am not talking about the cancer I lived with and survived. I am talking about a cancer caused by hurt, by loss.
I think I have grown, moved on, whatever word or phrase you chose. But then days like today come along, days like J.D. ... and I realize that cancer is still there ... that it still resides in a corner of my heart. And when days like today come along .... it awakens.

I remember those last days with Joannie, the boys and I said our goodbyes to Joannie on Saturday before her death and went home. I often wondered what my siblings thought of me leaving like that. It wasn't my character ... but they all thought I needed to go home and get ready for Josh's graduation that next weekend.
The truth of the matter is ..... on Tuesday, May 31st I went in and had a lump removed from my breast. I had convinced myself that it would either be calcium deposits from caffeine like I had 15 years ago - or that it would be benign. I was wrong. It was cancerous, but it was small and I have been on tamoxifen and did not have to deal with chemo. I didn't intend to keep it a secret - but I was waiting for the right time to share it.
At that time, Joannie was dying and we all knew it, then two days later - she did. We were all busy - there was Josh's graduation and open house, then Joannie's viewing and service. Giving the eulogy was a very difficult thing to get through - but I was honored to give it on behalf of the siblings. Each of us had the right to grieve and putting my ordeal on them was not fair. What I had to deal with was nothing compared to Joannie, or even Patty. They are the hero's that showed me how to handle the past years. You take what life gives you and you make the most of it. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength - and I am thankful for the upbringing I had where I learned to 'believe'. I do believe and my faith has carried me through many battles. I knew this was another one I could get through.
There had been plenty of times I planned to share my 'news'. When the girls were together with Mom that first year in Nashville for Sept. 14th - I wanted to tell them, but I couldn't. When we were in Orlando the following Feb. - again I wanted to - but couldn't. Throughout this process - I hadn't said anything to the boys either. The reality of what cancer will do to people - and watching it take Aunt Joannie was difficult for them - and I didn't want to cause any unnecessary fear. My intention was to tell them ... eventually. I thought when it was right to say something - first it would be the boys, then Mom and our sisters, then the rest of my siblings.
When I celebrated my first year of clean health, it was a silent celebration. That was when I decided to share my experience with the boys. Of course they were scared, upset (actually pissed might be a better word!), worried, but ultimately relieved.
We all have our battles in life. Some we win, some we lose. I am not the first in our family to struggle with cancer .... but I have been able to be strengthened by the example I saw first in Joannie and then in Patty. I also felt my battle in no way compared to theirs. What a fight Joannie gave - ultimately cancer won, but what a fight she gave it. I was proud to be her sister. Patty battled breast cancer and because of technology and medication she was able to triumph over it - but it was her demeanor and faith that gave me courage. She continued to live and work despite her battle. She was my role model and again - I am proud to be her sister. I am embarrassed to compare my battle with theirs ... for in no way is there a likeness. What they had to fight through with the chemo and multiple rounds of radiation; I was blessed not to have experienced. I am thankful for that.

That cancer is gone …but another has appeared/returned. This cancer is called fear. Who will be next? Surely another loved one will fall prey to cancer. Who will it be?

Please God; not Josh, JT, Collin, Monika, Lizz …… I pray not. I hope not. But I fear so. My list is much longer than those mentioned. More family and dear, needed friends. I pray not. I hope not. But yes Lord, I do fear so.

Get out of the building!

The best way to kill a church is to squeeze the whole thing into a building. For without contact with people in need and publicly witnessing faith and trust in Jesus, a church will quietly die! ...

Bob Snyder

I am working on our Churh's PNC committee and we seem to have different perspectives ... which is what is right ... but it also ruffles my feathers! Particularly this week has this been evident. Our Church has a beautiful, roomy, useful church building. I love it, it does meet the needs of our Church. But it is not our Church! Our Church is the people we are, and the ministry we perform outside the walls that confine us on Sunday mornings. One gentleman in particular seems to dwell on the church building.This has given me more than a singular headache, and has led me to more than one margarita following meetings.
I know I am only one voice on the committee and need to be open to what others say. But come on .... I really just want a more community mission-minded committee, church and Pastor.
I want us to get out of the building!

Just voicing my frustrations.