Sunday, May 15, 2011

All the way to Heaven... and back again

What I love most about spring is that everything is made new.  All around us, the scenery changes from a cold, dead gray to a burst of living color! The layers of clothing that have bound us for months begin to shed as the sun draws closer and closer towards the earth. The sound of baby birds chirping for their breakfast brings such JOY to my heart! Such beautiful reminders all around that we have new life in Christ Jesus!
 For the past several years Easter and Thanksgiving have been spent at my sister, Karen’s house.  She and her husband Marty live in the most precious little farmhouse that I believe was built in the 1920’s and moved to its current location sometime in the 1940’s.  She has restored it so beautifully. Truly a trip back in time when you enter in.  There is a barn in the back which Marty takes great pride in. It’s where we congregate for these family events.  Tables are lined with linens where we place our most prized dishes of casseroles and desserts. For Easter, the front barn doors are open wide to welcome warm sunshine and a fresh clean breeze; only closed for a few minutes to corral the little ones as Easter eggs are hidden.

Ready Set GO!

This Easter was particularly special because the Lord has blessed us with Karsen, my very first great-niece! She is so precious that the fact I’m old enough to have a GREAT niece doesn’t even faze me. As I held her and watched my own children running around, an ache pinched my heart.
Wasn’t it just a moment ago that I held this baby girl’s daddy in my arms? Didn’t I just rock my own babies to sleep as I rock Karsen now?
Wait… wasn’t it just yesterday that I wrapped my little arms around my momma’s neck and pulled her face to meet mine so she would look at me while I was talking to her?
I looked over at my momma.  She looked so pretty. I wondered if time’s swift hand had caused her the same pain. I’m certain it has.
With Mother’s Day and Easter still alive all around me there is so much I want to share! These past few weeks have been such a time of revelation that I’m having a hard time knowing where to begin sharing with you.  Forgive me if this entry turns to babble!
I learned something so very profound just weeks before Easter Sunday that it has melted into so many areas of my life. I believe I will start with sharing what I learned. Many of you may already know this bit of knowledge, but maybe there are a lot of you who will be excited like me! J

“From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).”
Matthew 27:45-46
I always wondered why Jesus would say that! Because he was in so much pain and was asking God why would He allow His Son to go through this? But, Jesus already knew what would happen… But if He already knew then why question God???  And if Jesus is questioning God, then maybe it’s not so bad if we question God???  Confused?
Actually, it’s not confusing at all.  Believe it or not, King James did NOT write the Bible.  And no, that was not my profound revelation. [insert giggles].  WAAY back before King James, all Rabbis started their training as young boys.  They didn’t have the Old Testament given to them, sectioned by chapters with each verse assigned a number for referencing and put together in a nice leather bound book with their name imprinted in gold leaf on the front. They had to memorize it all, scroll by scroll.  So, when referencing something particular, they would recite the first line of the section they were referencing.  Just as if I were to say “In John 3:16” You would probably know what that verse is about.
As Jesus, the Messiah, hangs on the cross beaten (but not broken), he cries out, NOT to God but to man, the first part of what we know as Psalm 22. There was NO doubt! There was NO questioning the Father!  Jesus, in what must have seemed to be His weakest moment to all who were watching, cried out in VICTORY:
Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”!!!!

Basically saying: I AM Who I say I AM. I AM the Messiah! The One David wrote about!  Here is the Proof!

Psalm 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
   by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
   you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
   they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
   in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
(read the entire chapter at the end of this blog entry! So powerful!)

After reading Psalm 22 in its entirety, I began to think of all the other times in my life when I doubted something or someone simply because the entire truth wasn’t revealed to me.  Or because, more times than not, I had been too selfish or self absorbed to look beyond my own pain to see the truth.  
Back to my mother…
For many years I manned this incredible wall of hurt and bitterness that I built as a barrier between my mother and me.  I loved her so much yet I was so angry.  When I was very young, my mom decided to leave my father.  She also left her children: my brother who was entering his pre-teen years, my sister who is 7 ½ years older than me, and of course, me.  I believe I was around 2 years old.  My father was (and still is) an alcoholic.  I don’t remember him ever being mean to us or hurting us.  I do remember that he wasn’t around very much.  He remarried quickly to what we refer to as the “step monster”.  She was a mean drunk.  She and her teenage boys left me with scars both physically and emotionally. 
Having no true sense of time at such a young age, it felt like I lived in that nightmare for eternity! In reality it wasn’t very long until my mom came back for us.  She had found her “knight in shining armor” that turned out to be the saving grace for all of us.  I always said that he took us out of that hell and made us a family once again.  He was never a “step-dad” in my eyes or my heart.  Just my dad.  I credited him for it ALL while silently I guarded the wall of my heart that faced my mother.  Growing up, my mother and I never really fought and we really did love each other. When my dad passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack both of our worlds were shattered. Not being able (or willing) to see my mother’s pain through my own grief, the little girl inside of me quickly added more layers to the wall.  Then when I had a child of my own and truly understood a mother’s love, I couldn’t fathom how she could just leave us like she did.  I added the final layer to the wall around my heart. 
Longing for a better relationship with my mother, I began to pray.  It became clear that this wall I had built to protect myself from hurt had become my tomb.  Slowly, the Lord chiseled away at that wall and with every drop of mortar, a little bit of truth was revealed. 
Like looking past my doubt and seeing the truth behind Jesus’ words on the cross and letting GLORY fill my soul, He allowed me to look past my hurt and I was able to see my mother for who she was then and who she truly is today.
My mother then:
 The Lord in His endless mercy changed my harsh question of “how could she!” to a soft “why did she?” Slowly I began to see with spiritual eyes and not only did the wall get destroyed, my heart broke for my mother.  I don’t think she had even turned 30 years old when she left.  That’s more than 6 years younger than I am now.  A young woman, married to an abusive husband.  I can’t imagine the lies spoken over her that made her believe she wasn’t good enough or worthy enough to take her children with her when she left.  She shared with me a few years ago that during the months she spent living without us, she was working hard to make a way for us all to be together again. She asked for my forgiveness but by this time the only forgiveness needed was hers.
All the years spent building a tomb could have been spent building a relationship! I thank God every single day for restoring the relationship with my mother.

My mother now:
 For several years now, my momma has been my best friend, my mentor, my saving grace, and a great source of strength.  I see her now for whom she has always been:
*      Beautiful inside and out
*      STRONG
*      Godly
*      SRONG
*      Loves her children
*      STRONG
*      Loves her grandchildren
*      STRONG
*      Loves her great-grandchildren
*      STRONG
*      The hardest worker I know
*      STRONG
*      A good friend
*      STRONG
*      Trustworthy
*      STRONG
*      Giving
*      STRONG
*      Lover of butterflies, music, anything purple, sappy movies, working with her hands, and baby girls
*      STRONG

She knows that her strength comes from the One who created her- the very One proclaiming: Eli, Eli,lema sabachthani?” as he redeemed us all from our brokenness.
All things will be made new if we just give it to Him
 I’ve seen Him change a scared, broken young woman with no sense of self-worth into a strong and mighty woman of God.  I’ve witnessed this miracle in the life of my mother.  I see this miracle every morning when I look in the mirror. 
We are not promised our next breath.
Let’s ask the Lord to reveal the places in our heart where walls may still stand.  Time does go by so fast.  I’m not sure how many more Easter gatherings with my family I will be blessed with but I do know that every single one will be spent loving and cherishing my family.  There is NO time for bitterness. 
I try to remember that we have all been broken in some way throughout our lives.  Some turn to addictions to cope.  Some run away. We hurt those we love. We allow our hurts to build walls. We deny ourselves and others healing by gripping on to bitterness for dear life.
Loosen the grip. Let bitterness fall to the floor.  Allow God to chisel away at the walls we’ve built so that He can heal and reveal to us the TRUTH behind what our simple and selfish eyes have perceived. 
Buried inside the tomb we’ve built around our heart is a cry of VICTORY ready to burst forth! Let it!

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
   Why are you so far from saving me,
   so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
   by night, but I find no rest.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
   you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
   they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
   in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
   scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
   they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
   “let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
   since he delights in him.”
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
   you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
   from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
   for trouble is near
   and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
   strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
   open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
   and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
   it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
   and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
   you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
   a pack of villains encircles me;
   they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
   people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
   and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
   You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
   my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
   save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
   in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
   All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
   Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
   the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
   but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
   before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
   those who seek the LORD will praise him—
   may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
   will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
   will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
   and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
   all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
   those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
   future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
   declaring to a people yet unborn:
   He has done it!
Psalm 22

To my momma:
 I love you all the way to Heaven and back!

Be blessed and remember to always be a blessing J