Month: March 2014

Crossing the Valley of Grief

From the mome100_0014nt we got Tim’s cancer diagnosis, I knew a vast valley lay before me. I knew, save a miracle, that in the not so distant future, he’d be gone, and I’d be left to grieve.

For two and half years, I dreaded it. And no matter how much care Tim required, having him around was always better than losing him. And the longer I could delay that grief, the better.

I’d experienced enough loss to know grief of that magnitude would take at least a year to muddle through. And there wouldn’t be much I could do to rush the journey. So after Tim died, I gave myself the grace to endure whatever the year held.

But I never expected the grief to go on at that level for another year.

It swallowed me. Many mornings it weighed on me like an x-ray blanket at the dentist. When I stood up, it pressed against me on all sides. I questioned whether I’d ever be myself again.

That’s when I stopped and took an inventory. Who did I have to lean on? How do I reach out and share my fears for my own well beingIMG_2572? What did I need to change to start the healing process?

Then I took it all to the foot of the cross. There I asked God to reveal who the best people were to help me. After all, not everyone is capable of walking with us for that fourth or fifth mile. And Tim’s illness and death was a full journey on its own.

The list was short. But it was complete. I needed a couple ladies with good ears to listen. I needed to talk about Tim. To articulate that big empty hole in my life. To hear myself tell myself I was going to be okay. To hear them voice their confidence in me.

I also needed an intense exercise program. One that included a plan for healthier eating.

DSC00348Finally, I made it through year two, and rounded the corner on my grief.

Now It’s a rare morning when I awake feeling that suffocating weight. The empty hole is still there, but I honor it for what it is – the vast value Tim filled in my life. And I welcome the notion that I’ll always miss him.

Today, I’m no longer the woman who started this journey. And my decision to turn everything over to Him, showed me just how capable He is of doing exceedingly more than I ever imagined.

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C.A.R.E.

ImageThis past weekend at a conference center in Titusville Florida, I met forty five amazing people. For two days, we spread out in groups of three or four and shared priceless moments of times God “Got a Hold” of our lives.

Many told stories of hitting rock bottom after some sort of addiction or despair. They shared how in what seemed like impossible situations, God showed up, lifted them out of their pit, and changed their lives.

Overwhelmed by what Jesus did for them, they now share their lives with people in the same situations. Instead of keeping their struggle to themselves, they regularly meet with hurting souls in coffee shops or restaurants all over the city of Orlando. They attend support groups to provide encouragement to fellow strugglers.

One girl, at the hands of her father, suffered unmentionable shame. After learning that two thirds of women inmates suffered abuse as children, she visits the county jail and shares her story of hope. One couple, after spending years trying to pull their own daughter up from addiction, started a ministry to hurting parents. Another couple, every Thursday night, drives over an hour to participate in a support group for alcoholics. They told me nothing else they tried worked. But the love and care at our church pulled them through. Now they’re passionate about helping others.

This group of Christians is part of Discovery Church’s C.A.R.E Ministries.Image

And their love for the broken seeped deep into my soul and lingers still.

Jesus said the healthy have no need of a doctor. And usually it’s the sick who get well and reach back to help those in need. For the healthy often struggle to understand the unhealthy.

It’s said that all religions eventually navigate toward a set of rules. And this is so true for the Christian Church. After all, it’s much easier to follow rules than to love the unlovable. But that’s what Jesus did. He scoffed at the Pharisee’s. He defied their laws. And He reached down into the pits of hell and set the captives free.

Jesus never called us to become Christians. He said, “Follow me.” Then he went out and ministered to the most rejected and vile members of society. So shouldn’t we do the same?

I tip my hat to the folks who make up Discovery’s C.A.R.E. Ministries. You are all far better Christians than me. I commended you for your passion for the lost. And you are the unsung heroes of my church.

 

Sadly, I’m a Sinner

DSCN0752[1]In the summer of 1975, Tim and I left our two-year-old daughter, Kelly with her aunt and we went away to Atlanta to attend an Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts seminar. For seven days, we joined a crowd that filled nearly every one of the 16,000 seats of the Omni Coliseum. We took notes in our red binder and listened intently to all Bill Gothard had to say.
Yesterday, I flipped back through that binder to refresh my memory of those principles.

And yes, many of them were pretty basic:

• A person’s attitude toward himself has a profound influence on his attitude toward God, his family, and his friends.
• A clear conscience is listed in scripture as one of our most essential weapons.
• Freedom is not the right to do what we want but the power to do what we ought.

I wasn’t surprised this week when, due to allegations of inappropriate behavior with young women, Bill Gothard was removed from the organization he founded . For years there’d been numerous allegations. But I am surprised by how many people blindly followed him.
Now, I believe Bill Gothard started out with the right intentions. Nobody plans to build an empire in order to watch it tumble. But power is a drug. And given too much of it, we become addicts. And I think that’s what happened.

counselling seminar[1]

As a parent, I would have done just about anything to guarantee my children would grow up free of my dysfunction. If following a neat set of steps could help them not become self-saboteurs, I would have followed them religiously. And at times, I did believe it possible to rear them free of making their own mistakes. But attempting to pull that off, sadly did them more harm than good.

But brokenness is the only way to come to Jesus. And if we never fully understand how messed up we really are, we’ll never understand the cross. And no matter how well we behave, or how good we are at following a set of rules, sin is always lurking around the corner.

I can mask my indiscretions by not committing the obvious sins like cussing or adultery. But my sin is always there. And it’s the subtle ones that trip me up the most. My pride and self-righteousness are usually the ones that launch me away from grace. The ones that lead me into judgment of myself and others.

I long to live a sinless life. But my only hope lies in pouring myself out daily to the only God capable of taking away those sins. The only one who paid the price to allow me to boldly walk into his presence as ask for forgiveness. And to that I say, “Amen!”