Month: November 2013

We Were Meant for Each Other

In my favorite scene from the book Gone With the Wind, (the book, not the movie) Scarlett gets the epiphany of a lifetime.  It begins at the deathbed of her friend Melly.

After a tearful good-bye, Scarlett wanders out of Melly’s room to find Ashley Wilkes, the man she’s spent her life pining after, bumbling around. Suddenly, the blinders fall off and for the first time in her life, she sees Ashley for what he really is and she says to herself,

“He never really existed at all, except in my imagination…I loved something  I made up… I made a pretty suit of clothes…and when Ashely came riding along…I put that suit on him and made him wear it whether it fitted him or not.”

I, like Scarlett, have always had an ideal image of a man. A man who would love me the way I wanted him to. Who would never cause the kind of tension I often experienced with Tim. I too made a pretty suit, and I forced Tim to wear it.

And every time Tim chafed against the fit, I added it to my list of proof that he didn’t love me enough.

Not satisfied with the Tim’s income, against his wishes, I got a job. Then when I couldn’t quit, I made it his fault for not making enough money. When he did silly things at the dinner table, instead of enjoying the humor, I scoffed at his lack of refinement. And don’t get me started on his need to come to my rescue and fix everything. Really Tim – sometimes it was okay to buy a new blow dryer.

Sadly, I treated God the same way. As a little girl, I created an ideal image of who He should be. Then daily, I laid before Him a list of demands I felt He should meet. Then when He didn’t deliver, I altered my image of Him, and not my list of demands.

When Tim got sick with cancer, my blinders started to come off. I began to see a man who, like me, had to fight against his own sin. To struggle in that tension of being the person he was at the same time trying to understand me.

And like Scarlett after her flight through the fog, I found myself hearing,

“It was obvious we were meant for each other…I was the only man of your acquaintance who could love you after knowing you as you really are…I loved you and I took the chance.” 

Love is always a risk. And to fully love requires taking a chance. I’m so glad I took a chance on love. And I’m glad Jesus took a chance on me. Even unto death on a cross.

A Dream Come True

As a kid I remember longing for two things – a family and to go on vacation. The two were clearly tied together because every summer, I watched my neighbors load up their cars with suitcases, then the family got in and they drove away together.
Families went on vacation.  Vacations were for families.
I wasn’t an orphan, but my family was shattered. My mother and father rarely spoke without a fight and things between them ended very badly.
But to my surprise, a teen pregnancy led to a marriage, the birth of my daughter Kelly, then her brother Daniel. And in a few short years, I found myself with a bona fide family.
So of course I insisted on lots of vacations. And I didn’t care where we went. But the surprise I never expected was the many nights spent around the dinner table. The warm conversation. The uproarious laughter. The nights nobody wanted to leave.
Over the past few years, so much of what I did with my family has changed. I’ve lost Tim, Kelly and her family moved out of state, and in just few days, Daniel leaves for his families big move north. Not my idea of how a family is supposed to be.
Change – it’s never simple. Those easy days of having my family close by are gone, and I want them back.
As parents, our greatest hope for our children is for them to move on and develop families of their own. To take what we taught them and create their own traditions, go on vacations, and build their own lives outside of ours.
We’re supposed to want all that for them right? So why when it happens, is it so painful? 
For the rest of my years, I’ll cheer on my children and grandchildren in whatever they chose to pursue. When possible, I’ll chip in toward any goals and dreams they hold dear to their hearts. 
But secretly, I wish we all lived in a cluster of  cottages on a hillside. All connected by a well-worn path to a big dining room with a giant table surrounded by enough chairs for all.
But until that happens, I’ll take this one day a year we call Thanksgiving. And I’ll gather my whole family (and maybe a few others) around a feast fit for a king. And I’ll celebrate the fulfillment of a little girl’s dream. And a God who saw fit to make it come true.

Leaving Margins

Several months ago, on the day I was to settle on the short sale of my house, I took a new road on my way to work. As I came around a bend, in front of a worn out house, a young girl in a maids uniform stood in a driveway holding up a pair of jumper cables. Behind her was a beat up car with its hood up. 

When I drove by, she stared at me and held the cables up even higher. I didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to determine her need.

Of course the story of the Good Samaritan came to mind. Not wanting to stop, I gritted my teeth hoping someone else would. Glancing in my rear view mirror, I saw the girl now standing in the middle of the road shoving the jumper cables towards the cars now driving into the other lane to avoid hitting her.

Reluctantly, I turned around and drove back. No sooner had I pulled off the road and popped my hood, the girl had the cables hooked up. 

“You know what you’re doing?”

“Yes, yes,” she said as a young man walked up. With a thick accent he said, over and over, “Thank you ma’am, thank you.”

As I stood there waiting for her battery to charge, I couldn’t stop thinking of how much more I had than them. My car was better, and even though I was losing my home, I was moving into a house better than theirs. 

Then in my spirit I heard God whisper that dreaded word – “share.” For in my wallet was the $450 dollars I had made the weekend before selling off the remains of my household goods. The exact amount I needed to replace my broken laptop.

I gritted my teeth again, opened the car door and reached for my wallet. Sticking up was a crisp $50 bill. Again I heard, “share.” Exasperated, I pulled out the bill and shoved it in the guys hand. “Here, get yourself a new battery.” Then stupidly I added, “And don’t forget Jesus loves you.” I felt like an idiot.

Back on the road I scolded God, reminding him of how much I needed that money.

That evening, tearfully I sat in my realtors office and signed away at a huge loss, my beautiful home . At the end, my realtor slid an envelope across the table and said, “A little birdie, (my daughter no doubt) told me you need a new laptop. I hope this helps.”

Inside the envelope – $200 in gift cards.

Now, in no way do I believe I forced Gods hand in delivering me the $200. There was nothing magical in this interaction. If I hadn’t given the couple the $50 I still would have received the $200. But God’s hand was all over this and here’s why:

  • I’m too selfishly focused on my own wants and needs. I need to learn to give more, even in my own perceived poverty.
    • I need to remember, in the eyes of 90% of the world, my perceived poverty is wealth.
    • I need to learn to never spend everything I have. To always leave a margin to give.
    • Even when I think I don’t have enough to share, if God tells me to, I need to give anyway.
    • God is my provider. In all my best efforts, I’m not self-sufficient. I need Him.
    • But most of all, I need what I get from giving to others. It makes me more at peace with myself and my God.

    Welcome Home Sinner

    Oh my, another Christian leader has fallen into sin. Doug Phillips of Vision Forum admitted to an inappropriate relationship with a woman not his wife. Many tongues are wagging, especially since Doug was a champion of some very fundamental traditional values.
    With the sin in my own life and the sins of my family, I’m the last who can judge.  Doug posted a lengthy apology on his website. He declared his wife and kids forgive him.  He’s going to retreat a bit and rebuild his life.
    Sounds good. But those of us who are champion sinners know it’s never that easy. The wounds of betrayal run deep. I know, I’ve been the betrayer and the betrayed.
    It’s easy for me to ignore my own indiscretions. To judge other’s who struggle with a sin that doesn’t trip me up. And if I’m honest, the better “behaved” I think I am, the more I think God is pleased with me.

    But, the older I get, the more I realize the hardest person to live with is myself. And any cheap shot that will help burn off the edge of all those sins I’ve committed, gets easier and easier to take.

    What if I could really grasp the truth that none of it matters. That it all comes down to the cross. That nothing I do can change my position with God. How would that revelation affect how I respond to men like Doug Phillips. Or any other Christian who has fallen from grace.
    Maybe what Christ gave us on the cross was the freedom to not have to judge even ourselves. Maybe I don’t need a lengthy set of requirements fulfilled before I believe in the sincerity of others people’s repentance.
    Or like in Michael Cheshire’s great article Going to Hell with Ted Haggard, maybe “We are called to leave the 99 to go after the one.” Maybe, “We are supposed to be numbered with the outcasts. After all, we are the ones that believe in resurrection.”
    For in the story of the great shepherd, the lost sheep was, at one time, inside the fold. He just got sidetrack along the way. All he needed was the Good Shepherd to come find him and bring him back.
    Often, I too get sidetracked. And when I do, the thing I need most, is for my Savior to came after me and lead me home. I don’t need my sin analyzed. Or my level of repentance evaluated. I just need the other sheep to welcome me back.