My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, January 11, 2009

finding answers

I'm praying for my friend who is dealing with gallbladder issues... I've never dealt with that but I'm told by everyone who has that it is a horrible pain! Praying that all your needs are met, physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually... I love ya, girl!

I am so grateful for Facebook... I've reconnected with a few more old friends over the weekend and I am so glad to be able to catch up, reconnect, feeeeel the love! When I get on facebook and I look back at these people who have crossed my path- some going back as far as 30 years or more - I realized how blessed I am. More than that, I realize that I am by no means alone in this world. I have a new friend on facebook, Nancy Guthrie, whose website and story I've been talking about. Her daughter's name was Hope. The ring that I wear in place of a wedding band says, "Hope". My very existance right now is based on hope... and I am encouraged whenever I find anyone else who has the same hope I do.

We started a new Sunday School format this morning. Our precious, wonderful, leader Kat has taken a step back and our pastor's wife Mary and another sweetheart, Jennifer are teaching our class. Our church is making an effort to make bible study an important part of the discipleship process so we had a very full BURSTING AT THE SEAMS classroom today. How many churches are filling classrooms to the brink these days? All I keep hearing is that church membership is on the decline. Not from where I sit. We're packing them in! Our class is all ladies (incidentally and unintentionally, all the classes I'm taking right now are ladies only) and we're from all different age groups.

I love bible study. I love my class on Wednesday night and I love the ladies in my Sunday School class. It's such a "back to the basics" thing for me... this is how I was raised, this is how I raised my children and this is the world that I am most comfortable in. We're starting at the very beginning... in Genesis... and going precept by precept and breaking it down to a deeper, richer, more thorough understanding.

I can't TELL you how much I hungered for the Word of God and hungered for a church home where I could belong over the past few years. There were two great mega-churches in the two communities where Michael and I lived and I just never had it in me to walk in, plug in, be a part of things. I am not a shy person but I am overwhelmed in new social situations. When I think about how much I have missed out on these past few years because of that fear... well, it's just sad.

Part of my reluctance was in knowing that I was out of the will of God. I knew that I was living with a man outside of marriage. When I married him I knew that I was intentially becoming unequally yoked. I made a conscious decision to be apart from God... and then grieved the loss of relationship with him. I have a set of beliefs that define who I am... how foolish of me to think that I could have any quality of life with anyone who did not believe as I did! I had to deny the very foundations of who I am to be with him. Little wonder it didn't work out for me!

There are questions that people ask me that I should be able to answer... "where is God?" "how do I know he's real?" "how do I find him?" They challenge me and say, "why do you believe?" "why does it matter if I have a relationship with God?" I want to explain it. I want to be able to share my faith effectively but seeking God halfway is about as effective as dieting halfway... what does it matter if I eat healthy for twelve hours a day if I gorge myself the other twelve? I'll have no results. Likewise... if our idea of praying is giving God a wish list and never listening to His response... if we haven't cracked open a bible in years, if ever... haven't even been in a church other than weddings and funerals in our adult lives and expect to understand God. What's worse... we don't praise Him when things are going well, don't consult Him about what direction our lives should take and then want to blame Him when things go wrong.

I want every single person who reads this blog to know the God that I know. I want you to feel His power, His peace, His grace, His mercy, His healing, His love... I want you to be able to turn anything in your life that seems dark or depressing or overwhelming or discouraging over to Him. I want you to find Him. I want you to hear Him. I want you to fear Him. I want that for you because I care about you. All of you. Even you anonymous spellchecking lurkers... I love you all. But I also know that I can't just describe Him to you.

I am studying suffering... immersing myself in the stories and lives of others. You might think it would be depressing, but quite the opposite. There are so many beautiful examples of people who have faced unfathomable hurts who have been able to use their heartache to the glory of God. One such person is Angie Smith. Her fourth daughter was born and died on the same day last year. I often read her blog Bring The Rain because it's a wonderful example of strength and faith in the midst of suffering. She has posted a video of those few precious moments they had with their daughter. It's long... about 11 minutes... but I encourage you to watch the whole thing... at one point toward the end the nurse checks for a heartbeat and Angie looks up and acknowledges, "She's gone"... as her other three daughters are gathered with her on the hospital bed. It's a peace that passes understanding. A calmness that defies conventional wisdom. A strength that few people will ever know. Check it out for yourself.

"For in our suffering, not apart from it, Jesus enters our
sadness, takes us by the hand,
pulls us gently up to stand, and invites us to dance.
We find the way to pray, as the psalmist did,
"You have turned my mourning into dancing" (Ps 30:11),
because at the center of our grief
we can find the grace of God."
(excerpt from Henri Nouwen's "Turn My Mourning Into Dancing")

More later, I'm sure.... love and hugs!


Janie said...

Good read. Seems like we had the same thoughts. I pray for everyone to know Jesus. Hope you have a blessed day. Janie

Jeanne said...

I just wanted you to know that I checked out that blog that you left the link for. Truly amazing. I was with my dad when he died. He had been sick and he was ready and it was his time. I am happy I was there with him, but it was probably one of the saddest days of my life.

This wonderful woman and her darling husband made this video to celebrate the life....and death....of their precious daughter. And they allow us to celebrate with them....

What wonderful parents...

What amazing people.....

What a beautiful tribute....

Thanks for sharing it. I posted it in my blog too.


Tina of Moon Shine said...

you have such a gift for sharing the Word. and thanks for the prayers!

Anonymous said...

...As he walks into the Radial Arm Saw of Blog Comment Doom...

Faith good. Religion good. Evangelizing perhaps part of your faith.

Make sure you have a variety in your life. I know people who have lost sight of the forest for the trees and I worry.

Church is providing warmth strength and comfort and that is great; however, I bet you have heard that 'All the time, G-d is good, and G-d is good all the time.'

That means that if you want to, you can go Contra Dancing. I again repeat that it is fun. You can go to Costco, or hit the trail (you'll gain weight, but every once will by muscle if you walk the Benton McCay).

Can you feel the divine in all of it? Yes, If that's what you're looking for. Experiencing this world and reveling in making it better in the context of this world is no sin.

Catholics believe that salvation is attained in both faith and works. They can enjoy the working in the moment.

Even though your faith likely does not require this, I'd hate for you to miss the pleasure of the moments in the world.

You can go to a Baptist church and still go enjoy 'the church' of baseball.