Thursday, January 27, 2011

Farewell! God knows when we shall meet again. ~William Shakespeare

 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.
Psalm 27:4 

January 11, 2011 my step father went to be with the Lord.  He had been ill for a while. In August he fell and broke his hip.  His health rapidly declined after that.  He went back and forth from the hospital to the rehab facility, only coming home for a few hours at Christmas.  Thursday, the doctors finally sent him home and around 10:40 Saturday night, he took his last breath.  His life story, written by the very hand of the Creator, is so fascinating to me that I wanted to share it with everyone.
Jeffery David Freeman was born August 9, 1945 in Brooklyn, New York to Leo and Lillian Freemen.  Leo and Lillian met flying airplanes during WWII.  From what I understand, Leo was a fighter pilot and I believe Lillian was a WASP.  (The hopeless romantic in me LOVES that part!)They settled in Brooklyn where Leo opened a creative art studio and Lillian was happy to start raising a family.  In May of 1947, Lillian received word that her mother suffered a severe stroke.  The couple made arrangements to fly to Cleveland as quickly as possible; leaving Jeff, not quite two years old, in the care of a nursemaid.  As the airplane raced down the runway at New York’s La Guardia Airport, a change in wind prevented the four engine plane from leaving the ground.  According to one newspaper article, the DC-4 skidded 1000 feet before it lost control and eventually crashed.  35 people perished including Leo and Lillian Freeman. 
Imagine losing both parents before real memories could even be branded on your heart. 
Jeff was placed with an aunt and uncle who cared more about their wealth than they did about raising this precious little lost soul; a soul that would remain lost for many years.  Jeff shared stories of his childhood that continue to break my heart.  Stories of fending for himself, feeling alone, being alone.  Stories of flying his uncle’s airplane while his uncle entertained in the back of the plane.  Jeff was only twelve years old. Not only does my heart break for that little boy but as a mother, my heart breaks for Lillian.  I couldn’t imagine my child having to live such a life. 
As he grew older, he graduated from an elite military school and went on receive several degrees including a law degree from Emory University.  He married and became a step father to a son.  Not ever knowing a father’s love himself, Jeff didn’t take an active role in this young man’s life.  Unfortunately, neither did the boys mother.  So, the boy grew to be a man in school far away while Jeff and his wife lived an adventurous life riding motorcycles across the country, taking trips around the world, and doing what he loved most which was flying airplanes.  He loved his toys!  Cars, motorcycles, airplanes, and I think he even purchased a boat although I hear he wasn’t a very good sailor. 
Jeff met my mother in 2006, three years after his wife passed away.  She knew that Jeff wasn’t a “believer” but that didn’t stop this patron saint of lost causes!  She loved him enough to NOT give up on him.  He showered her with lavish gifts (which she gladly accepted) but he couldn’t understand that a stolen kiss was worth more to her than a thousand diamonds.  Jeff grew up believing that money and the stuff money buys determines your happiness as well as your worth.  My mother was raised (and my family believes) that happiness is equated to how much you love and that our worth was sealed by an empty tomb.   This was just too much for his analytical and unbelieving mind to comprehend.  
In January of 2009, Jeff had a cancerous kidney removed.  With a history of diabetes, his remaining kidney was almost non-functioning and so dialysis began and slowly his health declined.  Jeff was part of our family now and I my heart ached thinking of him leaving this earth a lost soul.   I was ready and willing to give him my own kidney.  I prayed, “God, please let me be a match!  Don’t let him die without knowing you!”
That April, God answered my prayers and He did it without using my kidney.  Jeff’s blood sugar dropped deathly low and he was rushed to the hospital.  My mother said she kept telling him to hang on.  “Just hang on Jeff! Hang on!”  Not too many people know this but Jeff actually died that day.  He came back with a truth that left us all speechless.  He described holding on to a stone wall inside of a well.  He was adamant that this was NO dream.  He told me, “it was as real as you standing before me now”.  At the bottom of the well was a person he knew (a person who did not know Christ), calling his name to join her.  He said he held on to that wall as tight as he could.  He didn’t know why but something was telling him to “hold on” and he knew that whatever was at the bottom of that deep, dark well was evil.  He said he knew beyond any doubt that that there is a God in heaven and he asked Christ to become Lord of his life. 
From that day until last Saturday the Lord worked in Jeff’s life.  He revealed things to Jeff that he couldn’t see before.  Jeff even asked his step son to forgive him.  In Christ, there truly is grace, forgiveness, mercy and healing.
His final moments on this earth were so peaceful.  Everyone had gone home and the room was quiet. The room glowed with the light from the fireplace.   I was on one side of Jeff and Mom was on the other.  I played music to help him relax.  All of the sudden he tried to speak.  Although I couldn’t understand his words, it was obvious that he knew what he was saying and in graceful elegance, my mother became an angel as she answered every one of his questions.  She eased his mind of all worries and concerns then, with tears streaming down her face, she told him that if he sees the light to go to it because this time it was okay.  Jesus would be waiting for him.  She told him to run into the arms of Jesus.  With those words he stopped talked and his body relaxed.  I watched as his face saw a world I have only read about.  As the music played, “So take me to a place where I can see You face to face. All I want to do is worship you, Lord”, he smiled bigger and brighter than my simple words can describe and we watched as his soul left with his final breath.  In my 36 years of life, I have never felt as close to touching Heaven as I did in that precious moment.  What a priceless gift I was given!
I will never look at death the same way again.   I know that when I lose someone who knows Christ, I won’t be able to grieve as I once did.   A new understanding of joy has been revealed to me.  However, with that joy came a new level of sorrow.  My heart grieves so much deeper for those who refuse to believe and accept salvation. 
Jeff’s story is a beautiful picture of forgiveness and redemption.  A man who started his life without a father began his eternal life in the arms of his Heavenly Father.  An orphaned son who was never taught to be father, sought forgiveness from his own broken son.  The impossible not only becomes possible, it becomes Love’s true miracle in the scars of Jesus.    
The Lord never said this life would be easy but He does promise that with Him you will NOT go through it alone.  And He will be waiting with open arms when it’s your time to go home just as He was waiting when Jeff ran into His arms. 
This mortal life is so short.  Why waste one second?!  Steal as many kisses as you can!  Laugh till your cheeks hurt!  Be a father to the fatherless!  Be a mother to a broken soul! Love with all you have! Reconcile so that you may have peace!  Forgive so that you may heal! Accept GRACE and FORGIVENESS so that you can begin to prepare for a life that is eternal! 

 The song that was playing as Jeff entered Heaven:

This is an article about the airplane crash:,-ny-laguardia-airport-airplane-crash,-may-1947

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Girl, I will set it off up in here. She don't know me. You better be glad you at church. Jesus just saved your life, Hallelu-yer!" Madea, Madea's Family Reunion

Growing up, my dad would tell me I’d make a great lawyer.  At the time I wasn’t really sure what he meant.  I look back now and laugh, understanding his words clearly. I was an argumentative child but I wasn’t a brat.  I saw the world in black and white and for the life of me couldn’t understand how people allow injustice to exist.
In second grade I beat up 3 little boys on the playground for making my friend cry.  They were teasing her because she wore braces on her legs.  As she told me what they were saying I didn’t just see the hurt on her face; I felt the breaking of her heart as if it were being crushed inside my own chest.  As my blood began to boil, I looked through the crowds of faceless students until I spotted the three perpetrators still laughing and looking for their next victim.  Without a second of hesitation, my feet began to sprint and before I knew it, I was airborne.  As I landed, I took out all three boys and my fists started flying.  A few minutes later I was respectfully arguing my case in the principal’s office.  I must have made a pretty persuasive argument because not only did I NOT get sent home for three days (like the three disheveled bullies who sat before me), the principal didn’t even call my parents.  JUSTICE WAS SERVED.
My dad loved this about me. Not the part about using my fists.  He loved that I longed to rid the world of injustice.  If I saw a man on the side of the road holding a sign that read Will work for food I was going to feed them!  My parents could have scoffed about it (knowing it was more than likely a scam) but instead they nurtured my compassionate heart.  Better to ere on the side of righteousness.  They allowed me to be angry at the face of injustice and encouraged me to take a stand when I felt led.
My dad and I would have these deep, heated discussions where he would make me think and break down problems until the solution was evident.  Then with a smile he would say, “You just won your case”. 
I remember getting frustrated during one particular discussion regarding children who had been taken from their abusive home. My frustration turned to anger when none of my solutions would work and all I could say was, “Well, that’s just not fair!”
Without missing a beat he responded with, “Who ever said life was fair?”
I was hurt and disappointed in his response.  Before walking away feeling completely defeated I implored him, “Please don’t ever say that to me again”.  He never did.
I didn’t become a lawyer but the desire for righteous justice and fairness still dwells within me.  Unfortunately, growing older has made me cynical about a few things however, the belief in justice is not one of them.
I believe at some point in life we all connect with at least one particular person who seems to be living comfy, cozy, and completely content embedded as the thorn in our side.  They seem to be able to hurt whomever they want yet never get hurt in return. They steal from others and end up getting even more than they had taken.  They turn on their own family and get a pat on the back for a job well done.  It seems no matter how hard we try to live right or do right by others or how hard we strive to be like Christ, the thorns always seem to come out on top.  They have you walking away feeling defeated by the unfairness of it all. Are you the type to admit defeat and find that it’s easier to just walk away than to fight what seems to be a losing battle?  Or are you more like me? Walking away feeling defeated yet responding with confidence to the enemy who whispers who said life was fair? with a bold “Don’t ever say that to me again!”
I’m in a very delicate place at the moment. I desire to reflect Christ in every aspect of my life and the thorn in my side (also known as my ex husband) has fogged the line between righteous anger and anger born of my flesh.  Some will debate that there is a difference.  The Word of God clearly states that there is. 
Anger is a natural emotion that we all share.  We have all been created in the image of God (Gen 1:27) and our emotions are a part of His creation.  As a gift He has given each one of us free will; the ability to independently choose and make decisions.  These facts lead me to ask:
            Is there a difference between righteous anger and sinful anger?
            How does my reaction to anger help/hinder my walk and the path of those around me?
God’s anger appears throughout the Bible.  2 Kings 22 tells us how great His anger can be. Jesus was so angry at the sight of the temple being used as the local strip mall that he started turning over tables!   Deuteronomy 4:24 tell us that He is a consuming fire.  Have you ever sat and watched a fire consume something?  Not a very happy or peaceful sight.  Since we know that God is righteous, therefore everything about Him is righteous leading to the conclusion that there is in fact a righteous anger.  Furthermore, since we are created in His image, we have the ability to possess a righteous anger.  So, is all anger righteous?  Absolutely not! 
God’s anger NEVER comes out of frustration or confusion.  I read somewhere that God’s anger is a direct and calculated response to sin.  (Isn’t that a fabulous revelation!?)   So getting irate when someone cuts you off on the express way or your blood pressure reaching stroke level over a waitress who gets your order wrong is NOT righteous anger. It isn’t a sin to not check your bind spot when changing lanes.  It's certainly not a sin remember incorrectly!  Aren't we all grateful for that!
Yesterday was a real battle for me.  I was angry to the point of tears!  The thorn in my side decided that a court ordered child support agreement should bend to fit his needs.  The first words that come to mind regarding my reaction yesterday are frustration and confusion.  A friend sent me a scripture that her husband (who I think is a wonderful husband and father) wanted to share with me.
            “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Romans 12:20
My first response was, “Can I skip the eating and drinking and just heap burning coals on his head?”  I’m pretty sure that response wasn’t coming from righteous anger!  So, after I took a shower and refreshed my spirit I revisited the verse once more but this time I started a few verses before and ended with the verse after.
“Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:  “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 20:17-21
So we must ask ourselves, why am I angry?  Am I angry over an injustice outlined in scripture to be a direct consequence of sin? Or am I angry simply because I haven’t gotten my way? How do I respond in anger?
            “In your anger, do not sin.”   Ephesians 4:26 
We are cautioned to not be so quick in our anger.  Even righteous anger can lead to a sinful response.  A father’s righteous anger over the murder of his daughter isn’t justified by killing the murderer.  It may seem that way especially to those of you reading this who has children.   But think about the consequences when we repay evil with evil.  At the time our first thought may be that we don’t care what happens to us.  Let them lock me up and throw away the key because I have brought justice to my daughter. But what happens to the wife and family left behind?  Our reaction to anger, even righteous anger can have a devastating ripple effect. 
Is my anger toward my ex husband a righteous anger?  In this particular situation, believe that it is.  Not taking care of the children you abandoned goes against God's Word.  Was my response a righteous response?  Initially, not so much.  I was able to keep the outburst away from my children and had enough wisdom to contact those who I trust to give me good GODLY advice and who I trusted to gently talk me down from my irrational ledge.  Although I really wanted my flesh to see instant justice, I was slow to act on that desire.  As hard as it is for me, I must be slow in my anger and trust that God’s Word is true!  He will bring justice and judgment but in His perfect timing and not according to my desire for quick justification.
 If my anger comes from my flesh then I need to repent and change my heart!  Why get angry over the small things that have no eternal worth?  So many times we waste our energy being angry because we are stuck in holiday traffic inside our nice warm cars while a homeless man shivers under the overpass next to us.   

If seeing children disrespect their parents, employees being sloppy or lazy on the job, or watching a parent weighing their child down with unrealistic expectations angers you, it’s a righteous anger. (Ephesians 6)
How I react to righteous anger is crucial.  Walking over and disciplining someone else’s disrespectful child may not be a wise response! 
Our response to righteous anger will be different according to how God is telling us to respond. 
We must seek the Lord with all of our heart and listen to what He is telling us to do. If we are still unsure, ask those around us who we trust to pray for us.  Our God is faithful! He may tell us to be bold and courageous or He may tell us to just be still and know that He is Lord.  Either way, The will of God will never lead us to a place where the grace of God will not protect us.
Flying through the air with a rebel yell and beating the snot out of three bullies may not be how God is calling you to react.  I'm pretty certain that dismembering a cheating spouse isn't a righteous response either.  However, if you have a righteous anger regarding broken homes maybe God is calling you to start a divorce care group or if you have a righteous anger for children who have been abandoned, maybe he is calling you to respond by opening your home to those children. 
I know right now in my situation, my response is to wait on the Lord as His justice is revealed in His perfect timing! 
Be blessed! And even in your righteous anger, be a blessing!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

New Years Resolution ReVOlution!

res·o·lu·tion[rez-uh-loo-shuhn] –noun  a formal expression of opinion or intention made; the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose

rev·o·lu·tion[rev-uh-loo-shuhn] –noun   a sudden, complete or marked change in something; a radical and pervasive change

I'm curious... how many of you make New Years Resolutions and actually succeed in what you have set out to accomplish?  I must confess, I'm not sure I ever have!  I don't even remember what my resolutions were last year.  I'm sure I was excited, determined, and more than likely it had to do with weight loss.  
What's the point in having resolutions if nothing gets resolved???  Of course I did research on the history of New Years Resolutions and, as you may have guessed, it's a pagan thing.  Like most pagan rituals, good and Godly things can come from it if we take it back and use it for the glory of God and that's what I have decided to do. 

REALLY wanting to succeed in this endeavour, I decided I needed a game plan. 
1. PRAY and come up with a list of areas in my life in which I'm truly seeking change.
2. Dig deep within myself and be honest about why I feel the need to change these things.
3. Determine if the goal is realistic (I once had a resolution to lose 25lbs and audition for a major motion picture by June. At the time I was 127lbs and just graduated high school)
4. Research and write down what it will take to reach that goal.
5. Begin the REVOLUTION

Resolution #1
Be a Better Mother
Why:  Although I love my children with every fiber of my being, I feel that I have fallen short in so many areas. I have gotten lackadaisical in my parenting out of pure exhaustion.  Being a working single mom with 4 kids who are active in sports and church activities isn't so easy.  What is easy is letting them get away with not cleaning their room or picking up after themselves, cruising in a fast food drive-thru instead of making a healthy home cooked meal, rushing them into the bath and a two second tuck into bed instead of taking the time to read to them and pray with them before they close their eyes, and most of all its easier to blame all of this on being a single working mom of 4 instead of accepting the strength that God offers and doing the job I've been called to do as a mother regardless of how difficult or tiring it may be.
Realistic: Absolutely!
Plan: 1. Pray for strength.  Write down as many scriptures as I can on strength and God's grace and carry them with me at all times.  This way when I am tempted to slide back into laziness, I can pull out a card and draw strength from God's promises.
2. Plan meals on a weekly bases according to our schedule and use the crock pot A LOT.
3. Follow through with the chore chart.
4. Start having daily devotions and prayer time as a family again.

Resolution #2
Become Healthier
Why: My head automatically says, because your chubby butt needs to lose about 15 pounds! If I let the "why" end there, this would definitely be an unrealistic resolution.  I have fought with body image issues my entire life. I battled with bulimia and anorexia until I became pregnant with my first child.  Even now, I fight with the voices in the back of my mind that tell me I'm not good enough because my body is so very far from perfect. I win that battle every day by telling those voices that I have been created in my Father's image!  However, I'm pretty certain that God isn't packing on an extra 15 pounds of cellulite! If I have been created in the image of God and if my body is supposed to a temple, I may be in danger of a 30 day notice!  The reality is I AM a daughter of the Most High,  I AM a single mom and my babies depend on me, and I AM living an unhealthy lifestyle that will only cause destruction.
Realistic: Absolutely
Plan: 1. Pray every morning for a healthy spirit, healthy mind, and healthy body.  Do NOT focus on weight loss.
2. Cut out my beloved Diet Coke and only treat myself to a white chocolate mocha once a month.
3. Prepare meals at home (which co insides with my Better Mommy plan)
4. Do some form of exercise at least 3 times a week.  Definitely getting back into yoga! My back will be so happy!

Resolution #3
Start Dating Again
Why: As you all know (if you have read my earlier bog entries) I'm not a big fan of the whole dating scene.  Taking a closer look at myself, I've realized that I have over analyzed the whole process.  It just didn't make sense to me to keep putting myself out there and wasting time (and risking my heart) with someone who may not work out anyway.  I would pick these poor guys apart trying to find ways it wouldn't work out between us. Example: He lives too far and probably wouldn't want to move because of ... and I can't uproot my kids so it wouldn't work out. The thought process may be practical but it's left me with a very boring social life.  On the weekends the kids are with their father, I am at home reading, writing, sewing, or watching old black and white movies.  I absolutely LOVE doing these things! However, none of them are "social" activities and none of them really scream adventure. Besides the once-a-month singles event at my bull-riding friend's church, I haven't made an effort to meet new people.  In an attempt to broaden my horizons, I shall take a chance and place my lamp back in the window; not because I think I need a man to complete me but because I finally know that I am already complete and strong enough to take on a little adventure.  And if God decides to introduce me to my future husband, I will be open to His will.
Realistic: Absolutely (says the hopeless romantic in me who longs for adventure) Yes, I believe so (says the realistic scenic who just found another gray hair)
Plan: 1. Pray for wisdom, discernment, and hearts where they belong (in the chest protected by muscle and bone and not on the sleeve).
2. Stop expecting and start enjoying.
3. Stop looking at each man as a potential husband and look at him as a potential good friend.

Resolution #4
Finish my Novel
Why: I am actually working on my second novel which I started over two years ago.  Writing is passion of mine and I believe to be a gift.  There is a longing in my spirit to see it through.
Realistic: Yes. 
Plan: This one is a little more difficult.  Since my writing is inspired and not forced it seems impossible to set aside a block of time on a regular bases to write. 
1. Pray for wisdom, guidance, and inspiration.
2. Set short term goals.  Have at least 5 chapters written every three months. (this may change).
3. Carry a notebook with me to write whenever I feel inspired.

I long to be who God is calling me to be. The problem is, I'm not sure who she is half the time. I get so lost as I try to conquer the world of little league, cheerleading, and tween dating! That's why I chose these particular resolutions from my list of many.  I'm in need of a REVOLUTION! A marked change in my life. 

The lyrics to a song by the Christian band Switchfoot keep ringing in my ears:
Dreaming about Providence
And whether mice or men have second tries
Maybe we've been livin with our eyes half open
Maybe we're bent and broken, broken
We were meant to live for so much more
Have we lost ourselves?
Somewhere we live inside....
We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life, yeah
We were meant to live for so much more

All of my resolutions are a means to reach my main goal which is a better understanding of who God is calling me to be.  There are certain things in my life in which I have felt the Lord's pull and I'm tired of being lost in my own mayhem.  We were all created to be so much more.  Let's BE more!  Let's seek who we are called to be! Make a list of resolutions that will create a revolution in your life and open your heart and your mind to a new understanding of why you were created and what purpose the Creator wants to fulfill in you!

Happy New Year!!!  Be blessed and don't forget to be a blessing! Feel free to share with us your resolutions!