Thursday, March 31, 2016

DO it

God's Word hit fresh this week as I was reminded how much I love to listen and then walk away.

I mean listening counts for something, right?

Listening requires effort.
Listening requires time.
Listening means I actually care about what is being heard.

We can listen to the right music, the right friends, amazing teachers, incredible authors, even God's Word....but still be useless.

In fact, most of us may fall into this category.

Sorry if that hurt your feelings.  It hurt mine too.

But truth is truth no matter whose toes get stepped on in the process.

Listening is a good start.  But to stop there means we are stopping short of the entire purpose of listening.

"For if you just listen and don't obey, it is like looking at your face in a mirror but doing nothing about your appearance.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.  But if you keep looking steadily into God's perfect law- the law that sets you free- and if you do what it says and don't forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it." James 1:23-25

There are blessings at stake here.

I do not want to cheat myself out of a blessing from God.  Do you?

Let's do this y'all.

Listening to God's Word is step 1.
Obedience to God's Word is step 2.

AS a result of following through with obedience we actually show our faith.

Without obedience....we are simply good listeners.  Nothing more.

"So you see, it isn't enough just to have faith.  Faith that doesn't show itself by good deeds is no faith at all- it is dead and useless." James 2:17

I bet some of you (like me) have been listening a long time.

God has told you to do something.

Maybe you have heard Him tell you to forgive someone...
to persevere in a difficult situation...
to believe Him for healing...
to share the gospel with a friend....
to serve your enemy....
to bless someone financially while remaining anonymous....
to go to someone that has wronged you....
to be generous in your giving...
to trust people although you have been hurt....
to go to counseling....
to repent of your ongoing sin....
to love someone instead of hate them....
to speak with kindness instead of hate...
to fast and pray with joy and diligence....

Whatever it have listened and heard His voice.

Go DO it.

Let your faith be evident in your actions.

A blessing awaits....

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Unpacking the Grief...Or Not.

I have not been able to bring myself to sit at this computer and formulate many thoughts....much less write an entire blog post.

Today I will try.

Shep's mama~ our Granny...the heart of the family...lover of Jesus...servant to all...the consummate cheerleader...the eternal optimist...the cook...the garden whisperer...the conversationalist...the warm hug that greeted you upon each visit...closed her eyes to this world and began life anew in glory.

Within 18 days we lost, not one, but two giants in our world.

Shep's daddy was silent strength and fortitude.
Shep's mama was the sound, smell, and sweetness of the farm.

All at once we find ourselves without them.

It still hardly seems real.

If I try I can close off the reality of it.  Because we live 45 minutes from the farm I can just imagine that they are there and we will see them soon.

Out of sight really can help with out of mind.

Being at the farm, however, is an all together different thing.

The vacancy of what was~ is deafening.

I am certain that the days ahead will bring with it our learning curve of this weird new season.

Right now none of us know what to do with ourselves when we are there.

Since leaving the farm following the funeral we have come back to our house and slipped back into our routine.

There is some measure of healing in that.

Routine helps us all.

It reminds us that not all normalcy is lost...

So many people have written cards, sent texts, brought meals and held us up in their prayers.

The questions I get over and over are these, "How are y'all doing?  How is Shep?"

The honest answer to that is that we are doing okay for being in a place we have never been before.

Heaven with the Lord Jesus is this hope we know and cling to that brings the smile.

But there is today and the many tomorrows that lay ahead....all of them without two of the people that mean the most.

I am learning and laughing a little about what is appropriate to say and NOT to say the next time someone I know loses a loved one.

(I used to be ignorant about what to say to a parent of a special needs child....until I became one.  I used to be ignorant about words to offer someone grieving the death of a close loved one...until I became one.  
Going through something difficult does bring the gift of knowing how to handle that particular thing. There is still plenty that I haven't been through that I know nothing about.  And I am quite sure I remain ignorant on those things.)

For believers the given is heaven.

That is the most obvious comfort.

We know they are there.

But to say, "don't be sad because they are in a better place" makes the person left behind feel a little guilty for a sadness they cannot help having.

Loss and grief are hard enough.
Don't make someone feel badly for their sadness too.

The BEST thing to say to someone that is suffering a major loss is simply this, "I am so sorry."

If that seems too simple or leaves you with the need to do more....then DO something for them.

Say less.

For us the loss of Shep's parents feels put away at the moment.

Have you ever come home from a weekend trip away and just left your bag sitting there??

I tease Shep because almost every hunting or fishing trip ends like this.

He comes home and his bag stays at the end of our bed.

Untouched. Unpacked.

One time (trying to prove a point) I left it there just to see how long he would leave it.

Turns out....the bag didn't bother Shep at all.  I think I left it there for almost 3 weeks before my OCD went into complete overdrive.

 He would have been happy to leave it there until his next trip.

The truth is for him that bag holds the memories of a trip that was fun and full of memories made.

Unpacking the bag means the trip is officially over.

We came home from that second funeral and threw our bags of grief down.

Those bags are still sitting there.

Unopened. Untouched.

Unpacking the grief of it all means that they really are gone.

That chore can wait awhile....each one has their own pace.

So, until then, we cry when a fresh wave of reality washes over us.
We catch our breath when we pick up the phone to call them.
We laugh at silly things they would do or say.

We live life today.
We wallow in the grace of this new place.

We continue to trust the One that gives....and takes away.

We resolve to declare that the Lord Jesus is still good.

We know that their departure only solidifies the task before us.

"... to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." Colossians 1:10