Month: March 2017

A HEART FOR HUGS

“Mr. & Mrs. Daruk, you need to prepare yourselves. Isaiah went far too long without oxygen to his brain. He WILL suffer brain damage as a result,” said the NICU doctor. Nurses echoed his sentiments as tears streamed down their faces nine years ago.

“Mom, I wrote you something today,” Isaiah said as he handed me a folded piece of paper this week.

A sparkling diamond, a nugget of gold or a treasure box filled to the brim with either of them couldn’t hold a candle to this letter. He poured out his heart with this precious letter so I filled it back up just as he asked. With hugs and kisses – and more hugs and more kisses – and even just a few more after that!

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.  -Luke 18:27

 

BROKEN

“Mommy, he sobbed, it’s broken. My favorite toy is broken!” Toy pieces took turns falling out of his hands as he attempted to bring them to me for repair.

This scene has unfolded many times in my house especially when the children were little.

In some cases I was able to fix what was broken or at least enough to satisfy their broken heart.  Other times the break was beyond my ability to repair.  Instead of returning it to my child, much to their dismay, all the broken pieces were thrown in the garbage.

I have at times in my life felt like those broken toy pieces – beyond repair.

I taped. I glued. I stapled. I did whatever I could to make the pieces all fit back together. What I failed to see was that I wasn’t capable of fixing it.

I didn’t do what my children do when their toys are broken – run to the one who can fix them.

As I share in my story, when I laid on the floor of my bedroom at the end of myself, for the first time I took all of those broken pieces and offered them up to my heavenly father.  I tried for 32 years to fix it and couldn’t.  He accepted them and has been repairing them ever since.

What an exchange!

He was willing to take the time, the effort, and the love to repair me and He still is.

 

THE PERPETUAL DO-OVER

How often I have longed for do-overs at various points in my life. I can close my eyes and think of several instances.

No matter how bad I’d like to, I can’t go back in time and change the past. We each have only one life to live but could it be that each day God sustains us is in effect, a do-over? A perpetual do-over?

I have a love-hate relationship with exercise and yet God often reveals a strong parallel between my physical body and the spiritual battles I fight. On a good day I wake up early for my morning workout. Day after day my body needs me to be disciplined to do this. Yesterday’s workout, as good as it may have been, simply will not get me through today’s need for exercise. Yesterday’s healthy meal plan will not take care of my nutritional needs for today. I must do it all over again…and again…and again.  Of course there are times I need breaks and lately I’ve taken far to many of them, but as a matter of lifestyle I must repeat this process day in and day out.

Just a few days of letting these habits slide and suddenly I find myself mad at the dryer for shrinking my jeans again.

Conversely if I failed to eat healthy and exercise my physical body yesterday, despite what I might think, I haven’t “blown it.” I may have some catching up to do but today’s dawning came with a do-over of sorts.  Today I can choose to right those wrongs. My mind however attempts to deceive me into allowing yesterdays failures to keep me from seeing today’s do-over.

Couldn’t the same be true in our relationship with God? He provided fresh manna daily for the children of Israel in scripture. Yesterday’s manna was not meant to sustain them for today. There were some people that tried to keep the left overs. As it turned out it rotted, stunk, and was completely inedible. But God was not and is not a father that will leave his children hungry. Even those who attempted to hoard the extra manna were not left to starve. Each new day presented them with an opportunity to trust God to provide for the manna they needed that day. Every morning for them was a do-over.

Just as I cannot get by with my healthful habits from yesterday neither can I as it pertains to spiritual matters. And in these matters the consequences carry far more weight (no pun intended). I needed God yesterday…I need him today and I will need him again tomorrow.  Yesterday’s time spent with him will not get me through today. I need him all over again. Yesterday’s lack of time spent with him should not hinder me from seeking him today. Despite what I think I didn’t blow it.

As the sun rises and my eyes open wide, God has already given me a sweet gift. A do-over…a perpetual do-over.

THE BLANK CANVAS

Have you noticed that God often gifts us with truths wrapped in packages that we can intimately understand? He did the same with his disciples as he spoke to them in parables common to their own lives at the time.

Artistic creativity is definitely a package I love to open! Writing, sketching, painting and crafting are just the beginning.

As I sat down to draw a picture recently I stared at the blank sheet of paper.  I imagine what I’ll draw and I’m excited.  I want it to be so beautiful.  My pencil makes contact and I try hard to make it as pretty as what I’ve set out for it to be. But before long I’ve made a mistake.  I keep going certain I can correct my error. One mistake…one wrong mark soon becomes two and the next thing I know I’ve ruined the entire drawing. It looks nothing like what I had pictured in my mind. Disgusted with myself I rip the sheet from the pad, wad it into a ball and throw it away.

As a wife and as a mother I feel like that artist.  I was given a blank canvas and I was so elated to create my masterpiece but I feel like I’ve ruined it.

So many mistakes. So many wrong marks.

What I forgot is that the entire time I drew, an eraser was right beside me.  That eraser would have taken out those mistakes and made my canvas blank again if necessary.  I forgot that I could draw right over top of it and make some new marks.  It wasn’t too late.

Perhaps even my eraser marks would’ve added depth and character my piece wouldn’t otherwise have had.

In Christ, as a wife or a husband…as a mother or a father…as a friend or an enemy…as a son or a daughter…as  a sister or brother, we have an eraser too…

It is deep red, blood stained and it can erase even the darkest of marks.

Each day we draw upon our canvas.  To us it may look ugly.  Have you ever seen Bob Ross begin a painting?  How often I’ve watched him begin and can’t imagine anything good much less beautiful will come from it.  But slowly, as he builds layer upon layer, as he patiently and carefully marks upon his painting you can see it beginning to take shape.  We have the ability to see what he is doing from a distance.  We see the whole picture in our view and it gives us a great advantage.  We have perspective.  Somewhere along the way those ugly marks became something beautiful.

The painting…the drawing of our lives happens daily but the masterpiece takes a lifetime to create.

Let us never stop painting. Never stop drawing and when we mess up lets not forget our precious eraser is right beside us. And we are never beyond repair.

WEEP WITH THOSE WHO WEEP

Where do you find yourself along life’s journey? Are you in a valley where darkness surrounds you on all sides? Are you on the mountain top where joy abounds? Are you where the majority of our time seems to pass in the daily grind of life? Wherever you find yourself I pray the Holy Spirit will use this post to shine a ray of light upon your path.

The majority of my life I remained indifferent to the plight of others. I was saddened by the hurt of others yes, but rarely moved to action by it.  In many ways I was completely oblivious to the level of pain and suffering that even existed until I went through it to some degree myself.

When my son was sick I spent countless hours sitting in the cafeteria at the children’s hospital.  Hurting people were all around me but I didn’t notice them. I suppose my own pain blocked my view of theirs. Now as I revisit the same cafeteria when I take Isaiah for his follow-up appointments, I notice the pain in their eyes without a word being exchanged. Bracelets hang from their arms announcing they are a parent or caregiver of a child who is somewhere in the building.

Hurting people are all around us and perhaps that is you. Romans 12:15 instructs, Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.

So often I don’t even notice those around me let alone take a moment to rejoice or weep with them. I think of the good Samaritan who encountered a man who had been robbed, wounded, and left for dead on his way to Jericho. Luke 10:33,34 says, “but a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed came where he (the hurt man) was and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him…”

These verses lay out three separate things that took place.

First, the good Samaritan had to see the wounded man. I wondered if this had occurred today would the good Samaritan even notice him or would he be to busy taking on his cellphone to look up.

Second, he had compassion on him.  He was moved by this man’s pain.

Thirdly, the good Samaritan acted upon what he saw. He went to him. He cared for him.

I encounter people like this regularly. Do I see them? Do I have compassion on them? Does that compassion move me to act? Action may come in the form of a hug, a kind word, or a helping hand.  Other times the cost may be higher. For the good Samaritan the cost was high to care for this stranger.  It cost him precious time and money he probably didn’t have to spare. Time and money are two areas I struggle to give as freely as this Samaritan did.

Another interesting thing I notice when I read this story is that it doesn’t appear the good Samaritan judged this man.  Perhaps he had deserved what happened to him, perhaps he didn’t.  Perhaps he owed a debt and the thieves had come to collect.  The Bible doesn’t give those specifics but to the good Samaritan it didn’t seem to be important.  Could it be that the good Samaritan had been in the very situation as this man once.  Is that why he saw his pain?

As we encounter those who’ve been wounded in ways you and I may never know, may we learn from the good Samaritan.  May we weep with those all around us that are weeping.

From the heart, Callie

TIME

Looking out the window I smile as the snow gently covers the beautiful pine trees that line my backyard.  I smile because of its radiance but also because it serves as an excuse for me to stay in my pajamas all day and go nowhere.

It seems to take something unforeseen and perhaps even out of our control for me to stop and just do nothing.

Throughout the history of time, I can’t recall a generation that sought to accomplish more within the very same 24 hour period than our current one.

Although the quality of what they accomplished in times gone by may have been greater could the same be said of the quantity?

With the innumerable amount of gadgets designed to help us keep our busy lives scheduled, organized and on track, at the end of the day, do you feel like you’ve really accomplished anything?  Our bodies are overworked, overextended, exhausted and incapable of handling all the demands that are placed upon them.

These demands come in various forms and in various ways.  Some of them are outside of our control while others remain within our ability to control.  Someone recently shared a thought with me that I’ve continued to chew on, so to speak, since that time.

“If you were to write down at day’s end, all the things you did that day, I would be able to see exactly what is important to you.”

What would our list look like?  For most of us our jobs, occupy a significant portion of our time.  As a homemaker, contrary to the belief of one of the twins, I do work.

Last week I inquired about a sad look upon Joshua’s face. He went on to state, “Mommy, when I grow up I don’t want to go to work.  I want to stay home and do nothing, like you!”

Then, there are those moments in the span of our 24 hour day that are free.  I know of so many families where even their “free” times are so scheduled with this activity and that activity leaving little if any time for rest.  Have you ever been out to a nice dinner with your family and looked around at the tables next to you?  I have and what I see deeply grieves my heart.  The children have their heads down and their fingers glued to their phones.  To my astonishment so many times the parents do too.  When I go to the grocery store I see many of the young people with their media players on, headphones in and they are usually unfriendly.  Even in times of supposed rest (and yes, any mother of young children will attest that a trip alone to the grocery store is rest) we drown our minds with stuff.  To what end?

My list indeed reveals what I love, what I value and what really matters to me.  Is quiet time with God on the list?  Is quality time with my children on this list?  A conversation with my spouse?  A visit to my parents, in-laws, my neighbor  or a sick friend?  How many things on my list gratify myself?  How many seek the good of others? How much time is spent watching television or playing a video game?  On the phone, on the computer or on the tablet?  I fall so short…

Can this four letter word, LOVE, be used interchangeably with another four letter word – TIME?  What we love we give our time.  If you read about me you know that my heart is the one thing I never actually gave God – or anyone else for that matter.  How then do I make absolutely certain that I am doing that?  TIME.  How can you really know someone you never spend time with and how can they know you?  As a recovering Pharisee I am cautious when others say, “God” said this or “God” said that.  I said that countless times in my 32 years of hypocrisy when the truth was one of following two scenarios.

  1. Either I asked God and never waited on His reply or,
  2. I never asked Him in the first place.

Scripture instructs us in Ephesians 5:15,16 to “see then that we walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

The word redeem in its Greek origin means to buy up, ransom or to rescue.  To rescue means:

  • to free from confinement, danger or evil : SAVE, DELIVER
  • to take (as a prisoner) forcibly from legal custody
  • to recover (as a prize) by force
  • to deliver by force or arms

As I read this I see the clear implication that time will not redeem itself.  It does not happen automatically, it must be taken by force.  That means we have to do something to take control of the time we have been given.  Of one thing we can all be certain, time will pass and like a vapor we will be gone.  Ask a mother whose children have left home and she will be very fast to tell you how quickly time passes.  Once passed it cannot be returned no matter how badly our hearts may ache for it too.

When I think of time I think of Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God.

I never really knew God because I was never still enough to get to know Him.  I allowed everything else in my life to take precedence.  Sadly, the same could be said of those in my own family.  I didn’t give those whom I professed to love, the time it took to really love them.

The same God who created the world, who perfectly fashioned our bodies and who strategically placed our solar system gave us all the same 24 hours in a day.  Apparently that is enough.  The problem isn’t how much time we have in a day but what we do with it.

Teach us Lord, I humbly pray how we may redeem our time and be a living example to future generations of what really matters.

EROSION

Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you ever found yourself careening down a trail of thoughts unsure of how you arrived at the present one which seems to have absolutely nothing to do with what you were originally thinking? I certainly have. I find myself in such a quandary right now. Come with me as I retrace how I got here and why!

As a sentimental person at heart my grandmother’s passing has provoked many thoughts. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the generation that soon will end and the call to step up.  With that in mind I began searching the scriptures during quiet time this morning.  I ended up in Titus 2:4 which states, “that they (referring to the aged women) may teach the young women…”  It goes on to list the specific things the aged women are to teach the young women.  Although extremely important that isn’t part of this mornings rabbit trail so we’ll revisit that another time.

As a lover of words and as one who takes great heed in words I dissect them.  It is not enough for me to assume the meaning of words. My husband so sweetly warmed up the car for me this morning and while I was waiting on Elijah to get his shoes on I sent the other two on ahead.  When I got in the car Joshua said, Mommy I ate the ice off of the car and it was good!  When I asked him why he did that he said, because Isaiah told me too!  I then replied with the statement all mother’s have made since the beginning of time, “well, son, if Isaiah told you to jump off a cliff would you do it?”  Although humorous it served as a teaching moment.  The Holy Spirit is gracious to lead us in these.  Without him, it would for me, simply become another yelling moment!  I went on to tell the boys how important it is for them to think for themselves and not do something simply because someone else tells them too.

This is matter is of great importance to me as a recovering Pharisee and one I have in the past been terrible at.  I took others words at face value because I respected them or due to the pedestal they stood so high upon in my mind.  Instead of examining their words to see if they be true I took them for my own and in essence did exactly what my son did this morning with the ice.  I ate them because I was told too!

So while researching the definitions of certain words from their Greek origins I came across one whose definition made me to pause and ponder.  Who are the young women scripture is referring too?  Seems pretty obvious I know but trust me, as I am discovering, words mean so much more than what you think.  The word young in it’s Greek origin refers to those who are youthful.  I pulled out an old 1967 Webster’s Dictionary (I love dictionaries and the older the better) to find the meaning of youthful:

  • being young and not yet mature
  • marked by or possessing youth
  • youth, fresh, vigorous

As I read the first three I began thinking of young women around me that are new college students, new brides, new mothers and so on.  I read on…

  • having accomplished or undergone little erosion

It almost never fails that as I look up the meaning to a word I feel somewhat silly looking up the definition to I will find a diamond in the rough.

Having accomplished or undergone little erosion.  I thought of my own life and while certainly there had been some level of pain and disappointment for the most part in my young life I had undergone very little erosion.  In nature, wind and rain are two elements that cause erosion.  I thought of the parallel between erosion in nature and storms in life that beat upon our houses and reveal our foundations.  Both sound unpleasant and seem to lead only to destruction.

I began looking up some pictures of erosion in nature and I came across something so beautiful and I thought you would too.  This is the Hamilton Pool Natural Preserve located about 30 miles southwest of Austin, TX.  A unique and beautiful natural area surrounds the pool, collapsed grotto and canyon, formed by many, many years of water erosion.

Yes, erosion did that!  It doesn’t seem possible that something that was exposed to such harsh elements as brutal wind, relentless rain and freezing ice, over time, could become something so beautiful.  Isn’t this true of our lives?  Just as rain falls upon the earth with a purpose so does the rain that falls upon our lives.

The erosion process has begun in my own life, I can feel it; I can see it.  It may appear in the fine lines around my eyes, but more importantly it appears in the soil of my heart.  The roots are growing deeper now and I can see beyond the harsh elements to what lies ahead.

The young people in our lives need to know that times of erosion are coming.  They need to be prepared for that.  Let us be a safe place of shelter when those times come and let us lead them to the Rock that is higher, Jesus Christ.

LEAVING A LEGACY

I write this entry not long after laying my precious grandmother to rest.  My heart is full of mixed emotions and I am unsure from moment to moment which one will surface.  The steady flow of loved ones who poured in to see her over the last two days spoke volumes about her life.  All who knew her loved her and every one of them knew how much she loved Jesus.

My grandmother left me an inheritance of greater value than that of the finest gold, the largest diamonds, or the most exquisite strand of pearls.  She left an heirloom whose worth cannot be measured.  Her legacy of faith in Jesus Christ is one that has no end.  As she has passed it to me so I pass it to my children.  As parents it may take years to till the soil of our children’s hearts before seeds can be planted.  Once planted it may take a while to see a sprout.  Like a farmer waits for his harvest so we must wait for ours.  Work done in a heart is never done in vain, especially the hearts of our own children.  Although I didn’t let go of my rope when I should have, because so many including my grandmother, tilled and planted in my own heart when I did finally let go I knew where to look.

My grandmother’s passing symbolizes a generation that will soon end.  This generation is one whose class, integrity, loyalty, compassion and faith are invaluable and sadly, soon to be a thing of the past I fear.  Unless of course we intervene.  Will we step up and lead future generations or leave it to society?  Do we spend time with our elders and glean from them all we can before it is too late or do we presume tomorrow will come and wait until them to ask them.  We will lose so much when we lose this generation and when we do we will have a choice to make.

Scripture instructs us older women to admonish the young women.  If you are reading this and you are a women that’s you and that’s me.  There are always women around us that are younger and just like we need our mother’s, grandmother’s and aunt’s guidance so they need ours.

God, please give us the grace, the strength and the courage to step up and guide those who are younger and lead them as we were led.  Like my grandmother may we likewise leave the greatest legacy of all….

From the heart, Callie

JOURNEYS END

Reflections from the day my precious Grandmother went home.

Today began like any other non-eventful day although it certainly did not end that way.  Life sometimes has a way of doing that and usually when we least expect it.  While sitting at home writing I received a phone call that my grandmother was in the emergency room being given CPR.  As I rushed to the hospital to be with her and my family all I could think of was how I was supposed to have gone to visit her over the weekend but didn’t make it.  I’ll go on Monday I told myself.  Monday came, life happened and still there was no visit.  There’s always tomorrow…

I arrived to a scene that pained my heart deeply.  A team of doctors and nurses stood over my grandmother desperately working to revive her.  Two weeks earlier she had knee replacement surgery and was moved to rehabilitation.  During her therapy session this morning she passed out.  We soon discovered she had a blood clot.

Waiting outside her trauma room stood her 3 remaining children including my father.  Each of them at different times had been to see her yesterday.  One by one they recalled their time with her and smiles lit up their faces.  They all commented on how good she looked, how happy she was and what a wonderful visit they’d had with their mother.  I was so grateful for the time they had with her and that their final memory of their mother was one that brought sweet smiles to each of their faces.

In Ecclesiastes the Bible speaks of their being “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  Once during my quiet time with the Lord I meditated on this verse and thought of how each of these emotions are but a second from the other.  I was reminded of this today.  The day began with laughter and suddenly turned to weeping.

Must it take death to remind us to truly value each day without an expectation there will be a tomorrow?  For ourselves and for those we hold dear?  Tomorrow came for me to visit my grandmother but not like I expected or hoped.

I wish I could’ve told her what she meant to me…

I wish I could’ve thanked her again for taking me to church with her as a little girl…

I wish I could’ve thanked her for her beautiful example of trusting Jesus till the very end…

In truth my grandmother didn’t die; she went home.  She was given 85 years and I was blessed to be a part of 35 of them.  My grandmother loved Jesus and her faith was firmly fixed on that.  My grandmother fought a good fight, she finished her course and she kept the faith (2 Timothy 4:7).

In honor of my grandmother…

Thank you for giving to the Lord

I am a life that was changed

Thank you for giving to the Lord

I am so glad you gave…