Thursday, February 20, 2020

Found at the Beach




Mom, one of my earliest memories of you is finding me at Topsail Beach when I went missing. 

I remember waking up early and having the exciting realization that I could join you and Dad on your morning walk on the beach. Little did I know that part of your purpose in the early hour walk was to have some time to yourselves without me and my sister. Now that I think about it, I smile thinking of the two of you enjoying time together walking on the sand, hearing the waves gently break on the shore. Walking with my husband on the beach, just us, is certainly one of my favorite things to do. But when you are toddler age, such appreciation is nonexistent because life is firmly centered on self. One must be in the middle of everything because if not… something of immense importance will surely be missed.

So with my centrist view of the world I got up and excitedly put on my shoes and went to the glass doors leading outside. Oddly, the coffee table was pushed up against the doors quite well, blocking my ability to reach the doorknob and lock. Logic and reason did not give me pause. With my now adult mind I can easily see that this barrier was meant to deter me from leaving the house. Instead, my toddler strength pushed the coffee table aside and I unlocked the door, bounced down the steps to the street and headed across the road to the beach access. I ran down the sandy path and arrived at the opening to see… beach and waves… and no people. No Mom. No Dad. Just waves and sand and sea grass to my right and left. Hmmm…. They must be walking fast today. I must run and catch up with them. To the right I ran, down onto the beach to the harder packed sand. Running… running… still no sight of Mom and Dad. And now I realize how much beach and sand there is… with no people. And this is no longer fun.

Exhilaration from the run and anticipation of finding them is quickly overtaken by concern and then abject fear. Ok, I will return to the high sand near the dunes and sea grass and look for the flag that marks the beach access point back to our rental house. The sand is so high up there and my little legs slow down a lot to make these hard high tracks. There’s a flag. Not our flag. There’s another flag, maybe that is our marker? I walk up that trail and see that the street and houses are not familiar. Back to the high sand to look for our flag again. So many flags now and all of them are so similar. Oh no, still no sign of Mom and Dad and now I do not know how to get back to the house where it is safe and familiar. I want my parents. I think I am lost. As the realization of this fact settles in I start to cry and I stop walking. I just stand in the high stand looking down at my feet and cry. A lot. Then I look up at the beachfront house directly in front of me. An older woman starts to walk down from her second floor porch. She is walking toward me now. Should I be afraid? I don’t know. So I continue to cry. She asks me if I am lost and I say yes. She says other things that I do not remember as I stand there and cry and cry and cry. Then she says her son can help me look for our beach rental. Alarm. A strange man? No, no, no and no again. I am uncertain about this strange woman, but she looks kind and is older. I like older people and standing here on this high sand immobile and crying is much preferred to walking away with a strange man. Oh my goodness what have I done?

Then up the beach, coming from the north from the direction I had been walking I see the most comforting and blessed sight imaginable. Mom!!! Mom walking toward me, quickly. Not running, walking and smiling. Not angry. Not crying. Walking and beaming at me. I move toward her, running I think, and land in her embrace immediately relieved and all fear melts away. She has a happy relieved exchange with the woman and then we start to walk together back to our house. I have no idea if she is talking to me, all I know is that I am holding Mom’s hand and my world is safe again. Fear is gone and today is going to be good. When we arrive at our rental, we start up the steps together and then Mom turns around so I turn around too. There’s my Dad in the distance, coming up the street! He sees me and starts to run and he is full on crying. He scoops me up into his big arms and holds me tight at his chest still crying. He carries me up the steps and we go into the house. My sister was much relieved to see me and I remember all three of their faces having an odd mixture of relief/happiness and stunned shock of some kind. Like, “Did that really just happen?” No one yelled at me. Just lots of hugs.

All these years later I remember my Mom following my footsteps knowing she would find me and I wonder what was going through her mind that allowed her to greet me gently with a smile and a hug. No scolding or fussing. No tears. Just her quiet confidence that she was there and I was safe. It must have been Jesus. He led her to my steps and ultimately to me. He must have whispered comfort to her and trust in Him that He would lead her to me. He must have strengthened her to let go of fear and cling to Him as she searched and believed all would be well.

His strength in her continues to speak to me today. At times in whispers and other times with the roar of a mighty wave crashing in. We will begin in home hospice care soon and this means that the natural course of her natural life is predicted to be 6 months at the most. Yet I know that her course is so much more supernatural. Her course has been His course. An unpredictable wild ride that leaves us breathless at times. I want her Home with Him more than I want her here with me. I want her supernatural footsteps to follow His into eternity where they will be face to face. At home. Safe. No fear. Only love. Forever found.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Found in my Mom


Mom 1967 (31 years old)
Mom 2018 (79 years old)
I look at these images of my mother with tears welling up in my eyes. And at the same time I feel a literal heart and soul swell. A flood really. Of love and memories and the deep knowing that my life is forever sweeter because she was, is and always will be my Mom.

Now for those of you that know me, my mom has not gone home just yet. Her sweetness lives just one street over and I will kiss her cheek in just a little while. 

That said, the time I have left with her on this side of life is short. It could be weeks or months. It could also be years. Doubtful that it will be many years. Regardless, my point is that time with her is more sacred now. Because I am reminded daily that her body is weakening and it will not take much for her body to give way to life eternal. 

Yet in this weakening I find that her soul is stronger than ever. And my own soul has more life and strength because of her. Because of her journey. Because of her faith.  Because of the belief she instilled in me that with God all things are possible. Because of the perseverance she displayed as a working Mom during a time when moms stayed home. 

That last one is a part of her journey, my journey, and our journey together that I am just now understanding the beauty of. You see, she has long thought that she missed the mark on motherhood by working full time. And for a while I also believed that lie. The convergence of those lies impacted our mother daughter journey for a time. But no more of that. This is the time for truth telling. 

So I ask you, humbly, and prayerfully if you would join me in this part of our journey? Would you walk with me in the days and weeks ahead as I tell you about my Mom? I promise to be honest and kind. I promise to be vulnerable and tell you the hard stuff. And I promise to share the truths that God has whispered to me over the years. He finds me every day and whispers His love and truth to me. 

In Him I have been found. That is why I started this blog eight years ago. The beauty of being found must be shared. And in this season I am also found in my mother's love. For she is one who first pointed me to Him.   

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Faith: Found in His Faithfulness

Faith. A belief that there is a God, He loves me, His Son is Jesus and He died for me, and now the Holy Spirit lives in me. Yes, that is what I've thought faith was for oh, let's say my entire Christian life. Twenty-threeish years.

While that may be a part of faith, it is certainly does not encompass all that such a small, yet enormously powerful word means. I'm learning that faith in my life is trusting God, His Son, the Holy Spirit, this triune person... implicitly.

It's one thing to believe in the existence of God. It is entirely another to trust Him with every ounce of your being and make yourself vulnerable to the wild ride that is real faith.

Have you read the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11 in a while? It starts out with the definition of faith:  "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." I hope for heaven and I'm certain that I will live there eternally one day. I don't struggle with doubts about death and life beyond with Jesus. In fact, some days I long for Him to return so that I can throw off the struggles of this earthly faith walk.

But what about hope and certainty in this life? What does faith really look like in a fallen world where the enemy of our soul runs rampant? Most of us will not experience an impending flood and massive ark construction. It is highly unlikely that God will repeat the Abraham Isaac test. But there are impending "floods" we've been called to prepare for and seemingly impossible choices and "tests" that are before all of us at one point or another.

The question is, will our faith be real? Will we be absolutely certain of what we do not see? At the moment, I can't see God's promise that I will come through on the other side of my currently splintered life and ridiculous circumstances. But I know that He's promised me I will. There's hardly even a glimpse of redemption right now, but His promise is still true.

"He does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). God doesn't change His mind and put us on an emotional roller coaster. We get on that ride ourselves by listening to every vacillating emotional tide that comes our way.

How do I get to know this unchanging Person? He is known through His Word. And if He does not change, then His Word does not change and this living text can also be trusted. His word says that "The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it" (1 Thessalonians 5:24) and "For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." (Psalm 100:5)

Those are just a few verses regarding His faithfulness toward us. So even when my faith is lacking, seems weak, or non-existent... He. Is. Faithful. How amazing is that? It floors me that I am loved by a God who does not leave me when I am at my lowest point. He is not exhausted by days of rock solid faith followed by weeks of despair and doubt. His faithfulness toward me is steady and strong and relentless.

He is the bridegroom that will never give up on me. He will never abandon me. My weakest moments do not scare Him. Instead, these moments make His love and faithfulness toward me even more evident. I know He is near. I know He carries me. He hurts when I hurt and "longs to be gracious to me and show me compassion" (Isaiah 30:18). I cannot do anything that will bring about rejection.

So the God of the universe, who could have anything, chooses to pursue me and be faithful to me despite all my doubts and fears and failures. He is faithful. He leaves the ninety-nine to find the one. And though I've been a believer and "found" for over twenty-three years, He continues to seek me out and find me daily. He finds me because of His faithfulness and He calls me to trust Him. 

To have faith.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Distraction

I have always considered myself a very focused person. I made good grades, I finished things I started - mostly. There is still 4 rows of knitting that were supposed to become a toboggan 14 years ago. Can't seem to unravel it. And there's my point... I'm really not all that good at focusing.

So many glorious things have happened in this past year. But I lost focus on Him yet again. He has redeemed, renewed, restored, rebuilt, re-everythinged my life. And still I am Doug from "Up" chasing the squirrels of this world.

I'm am so easily distracted. Oh my word, so easily distracted. But I don't think it's because I have diagnosable attention issues. At least not according to the DSM-V.

No, I'm distracted because I take my eyes off Jesus.

In the post that preceded this I used a verse from Hebrews 12 - "let us fix our eyes on Jesus..."
Please note that the previous post is now over a year old. Could it be that I got a bit distracted again? Um, yes.

Until the past two weeks. It started on another Palm Sunday.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Who is this you are making me?

It is a quiet rainy Sunday morning - Palm Sunday. This is the week before the world could finally be reconciled to it's Creator through the perfect sacrifice of Christ. It is a time of great reflection.

Reflection has been the theme of the past nine months of my life. In late July of last year everything that I thought was secure began to fall apart. Looking back, the crumbling began years before. But I couldn't see it. I was blind. I lived in fear. The most deceptive kind of fear. The fear that if I didn't do life on my own, my way, and in my timing that I would be a complete failure.

I was a hamster on a wheel. Spinning spinning spinning, going no where, and wearing myself out in the process. The irony is that all of this self-fueled effort was the real failure.

The wheel came to a screeching halt last summer. God did not intend for me to live the life of a hamster on a wheel, in a cage. He intended me to live a life of beautiful freedom in Him.

I had ignored His still small voice for too long. So He did what any good parent does. He loved me enough to let me fall. He knew that I would not listen until every false source of security was ripped away.

He literally threw me off the wheel, out of the cage I had built, and into the big scary world. The false sense of security I had developed over the course of many years quickly revealed itself as well.... false.

Much of my reflection in the months since has been a sorting out of what is false and what is true. The Truth versus the lies. I want to share more of that in the days and weeks to come and I think I might be ready to do just that. I've started to do that a few times on this blog, but I've never shared the full story.

That's a little scary. But not nearly as scary as living like a hamster in a cage.

Now that we've established that I'm not a hamster - yeah. Who is this He is making me to be? That's a question that Beth Moore asked during her Simulcast on September 15, 2012. There were 7 points within that talk. The one that has me in reflection today is number 6:

"Faith rests its case on the resurrection of the dead." 

Yes it does.

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of throne of God." 
Hebrews 12:2

That verse has run through my mind more often that I could dare to count during these months. Through His resurrection I too am resurrected. I have real life because of Him. No more hamster on a wheel. It's a life of daring adventure and excitement around every corner. It's freedom.

Life is actually not complicated when we truly "fix our eyes." It gets complicated when we focus on anything else. Not only does it get complicated, it gets constricted because our own worries and fears create boundless limits to what we think can happen.

Beth Moore's follow-up to point 6:

"All bets are off... He can do anything."

And oh my word... the anything has left me breathless lately. What took years to nearly destroy, God has redeemed and restored in nine short months. I want to share more of that with you and I pray for the courage to do so.


I hope you too have had time to be quiet and reflect on this Sunday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Transition

I have been unemployed for a little over two months. Please don't lament for me, this was my choice. I'll admit, I have questioned my decision at times, but for the majority of the past 9ish weeks I have been quite content to break away from a high pressure full-time job.

Now, I'm supposed to be writing feverishly on my dissertation during this time. I'm getting there.

What I did not realize (and have never realized for that matter) is that major life changes don't often lend themselves well to jumping from one high pressure situation into another. There is a very real, very tangible, very necessary place for transition.

Hmm... that's actually the focus of my dissertation. Students with disabilities who are in transition from school to work. That's funny, I had not intention of that coming out or connecting when I started this blog post. The first title was going to be "Rediscovering and Redefining" and then that sentence came out. That's how He works though. Love Him.

So I'm in transition. I'm healing. I'm sipping my coffee a little longer and reading the local newspaper each morning. I have the time to make a shopping list based on the 3 sale papers of grocery stores I like. I'm meeting friends for lunch. I'm listening more. I could go on and on and on.....

And I will, tomorrow.

But right now I am leaving the public library because a sweet neighbor friend of my parents just walked in and as we chatted it turns out she needs to go to the same grocery store I do. And on a recent trip to Memphis she picked up something she'd like to give them and I'm going to journey with her.




Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Day 31: Found at the Cemetery

I know, it's not exactly a catchy or cute title for today's post. But hey, it's Halloween so maybe it is mildly appropriate. 

I went by another cemetery today. I took my dad a few weeks ago so that we could leave flowers at his parents' and grandparents' (my grandparents' and great grandparents') graves. This is not something that we do often - or really at all. But in my recent return home I have the overwhelming urge to learn about and from my past.

Here's a picture of my great grandparents:



Daisy & Horace
c. 1906


Horace rode across the mountain from Tennessee into North Carolina on a horse for like 20ish miles just to court Daisy. Can you imagine?

And here is their fourth child, my grandmother.



Merill
c. 1938


She was 28 in this picture and already had four children of her own. She drove her entire life without ever obtaining a license. At some point in the late 70s or early 80s she was pulled over and cited by a city policeman, but she still did not get her license. 

And here is a picture of her parents, Horace and Daisy, in their later years. Many many many exciting, strange, scary, miraculous, sad, joyous, and lovely things happened between that picture from 1906 and this picture in 1965. 


Horace & Daisy
c. 1965


I hope I can write about these things some day. Growing up I heard many hilarious stories about these family members. After all, when folks are gone we want to retell the joyous and the funny things right? Nothing wrong with that. There's a host of things about this side of my family that I want to cement into my memory and into the traditions I create with my family.

But there's more to a person's life than the happy. There's the sad. There's the generational behaviors or tendencies (and sometimes sin) that happened too. There's the stuff that if left unmentioned and ignored may be repeated for generations to come. I don't intend to go on some gossip finding mission or anything - not at all. But in listening to stories and events I have started to "hear" things differently and wonder.

And when I look at myself, my family, and my decisions I can't help noticing some striking similarities. Some make me laugh. Others make me cry.

Today when I removed the dead flowers I stared at my maiden name on my grandparents grave. How do I want my family's name to be remembered? What part of "us" do I want to live on and what part of "us" must die in order that He might live? I guess I can't ask those questions in the plural. I can't decide what other family members will do with our heritage.

But I can make that choice myself. Hmm... wrong again. I'd rather He make those choices, whisper them to my heart, and then I obey.

More to come...