Peace? Yes, Somehow, Peace

January 31st, 2009

 

John 16
33
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

A car accident took the life of a four-year old on the interstate just a few miles from our home Friday morning. Snowy roads caused the driver to lose control.

My husband visited a couple of men in jail yesterday who are awaiting trials, verdicts, sentencing. Their families are waiting too. Scared, sad, uncertain of what tomorrow holds.

A friend of ours is at the hospital this morning after spending the night in the emergency room with his wife. Doctors are not sure what has caused her seizure: a blood clot in the brain, a stroke, they just don’t know yet.

Another friend of mine stopped by yesterday to talk. She’s worried about her son’s health.

So, I read the verse above and try to find some comfort.

I remember reading this verse one night in the hospital years ago when Nick was having terrible trouble with his IV. We had been told by a nurse that she would be back around 4am to give Nick medicine through the IV but that she couldn’t promise the IV wouldn’t “blow.” These words came after many, many tears and several new IVS throughout the day.

Nick was exhausted. I was exhausted. My mom was exhausted. Tim had gone home to be with our other kids for the night, and we felt very alone in a hospital room several hours from home.

And then I read this verse. I read it out loud to mom.

I still remember her voice in the darkness when she said with a sense of sadness, “Well, He’s not here yet.”

I guess that’s where the lifelong question of “Where is God when you need Him?” comes from.

Knowing that God created this world. Knowing He is the Master of the Universe.

And then getting phone calls, emails, knocks at your door…….

All of which deliver news that does not ring with the sound of peace.

So, I sit here this morning looking out at a beautiful snow glistening with sunshine and I realize that it’s not so much about God promising “earthly peace.” It’s about him offering “inner peace.”

See, after I read that verse to mom in the darkness of Nick’s hospital room, I had this spiritual nudge to go call a friend and ask her to pray with me.

Not long after that a nurse saw me crying and came and actually prayed with me right there on the hospital floor. She then came and did Nick’s IV medicine herself. It was amazing. It was God bringing peace in a world that has trouble.

We live in a world that has been tarnished by sin.

The beautiful white snow here eventually shows the effects of dirt, gravel, and mud.

We have to remember how it started. White, spotless, glistening.

And we have to believe that one day this world will be made new!!

My prayers this morning are for this family who is facing the loss of their little boy. That God will send people to pray with them. Family members and friends to love on them. Signs from above to comfort them.

And for the men in jail…I pray the same.

And for our friends at the hospital…..I pray the same.

And for my friend who is concerned about her son…..I pray the same.

For Nick, I don’t have to worry anymore about IVs going bad or MRIs holding devastating news. Peace has arrived in the most perfect sense for Nick. He has been made perfectly whole and new!

So my prayers are for me, my husband, my sons, my daughter, my parents, his friends….everyone who has to put life back together somehow with a missing piece.

We all have missing pieces in our lives, don’t we? Somehow. Maybe it’s a loss. Maybe it’s a bad memory from our childhood. Maybe it’s divorce or a child who has rebelled or illness that keeps us from feeling and healing whole.

My prayer today is that while we all live with some sort of missing piece…….

We won’t live a life that is “missing peace.”

Remember, Jesus says, “in me you may have peace.”

Thankful for the Master’s peace in a troubled world,

Snow Days

January 30th, 2009

 

Todd with Jon (one of Nick’s best friends from church)
Olivia and Maddie
Todd and CalebOur oldest son Erich (in the yellow) with some of his college buddies….looking for sleds!

Proverbs 31:21
When it snows, she has no fear for her household; for all of them are clothed in scarlet.

Oh, to go back to Bible times and see a teen dressed in scarlet playing in the snow!

Today I guess that verse would say,

“When it snows, she doesn’t get worried about her kids staying warm because all of them have rummaged through the Rubbermaid container and found gloves, snowpants, and hats….and they’ve been to the shed to find hand-me-down snow boots!”

The snow that we were so excited about has definitely arrived!!

Kids are wandering the streets looking for the next hill to slide down!

Thankful for Rubbermaid containers loaded with winter wear….
And a washer and a dryer that NEVER stop running…..
And electricity to run the washer and dryer,
And a Power Source greater than electricity to keep me smiling on a day I know Nick would have enjoyed so much,

The Straight Road

January 30th, 2009

 

Is. 49
10
They will neither hunger nor thirst,
nor will the desert heat or the sun beat upon them.
He who has compassion on them will guide them
and lead them beside springs of water.

11 I will turn all my mountains into roads,
and my highways will be raised up.

This is the road to my grandpa’s house.

Long. Straight. And mostly very, very flat.

When I read Isaiah 49, I have to think that someday I’ll look back on my life and realize that as I was facing deep valleys and high mountaintops, God was there keeping all things even.

I’m in a rush this morning. There is more snow coming down.

Todd is still sleeping.

Olivia and her three little friends are still sleeping…worn out from two hours of ice skating in their snow boots on the soccer field across from our house!

And I am leaving to run to the church and help serve lunch to people who have no electricity.

But as I sat here this morning and saw this picture, I thought to myself,

“Thank you, Lord, for being the one straight constant in an ever-changing world. Thank you, Father, for keeping me level when I feel very down or very up. Thank you, Lord, for directing my steps. Help me stay on the straight and narrow for You tell us that the crooked road does not lead to peace.”

Until later,

Broken…..but still useful?

January 29th, 2009

 

I Peter 4

12Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. 13But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Well, the snow has arrived!!

So have piles and piles of wet coats and soggy gloves!

Yesterday, Olivia and Todd began preparing for some sledding fun when Olivia came to me with a problem.

Her snow pants, which have been part of our snowday events since big brother Erich (21 now!) wore them, had a broken strap and even the safety pin holding them up had worn out over time.

Fortunately, I was able to replace the broken safety pin with a new one and send her on her way to some fun in the snow. I looked at the pin and thought to myself, “Well, you did a good job for Erich, Evan, Todd, and Nick….” and then I set the pin aside not really thinking another thing about it.

Just a little later, Cameron (Olivia’s little friend) came to me with yet another problem. Her snow boot lace had a knot that was too tight for her to get out. I worked and worked on the knot and realized it was just too tight for me to budge with my fingers. Then I remembered the broken safety pin!

I got it off the shelf and using its sharp point I was able to loosen the knot enough to untie it totally!

Cameron then went on her way happy and ready to sled!

I looked down at the pin and had an entirely different thought!

“You still work! You still have a purpose!” It’s just different now!

I guess I had one of those moments where I just knew God was speaking to me in a personal way.

See, I feel so broken. I feel so “set aside” at times.

A mom “set aside” from being Nick’s mom.

A cargiver “set aside” from taking care of my sick child.

A teacher “set aside” from teaching because I just couldn’t juggle it all at once.

A friend “set aside” from some of my friend’s lives because they probably just feel awkward around me right now.

A church member “set aside” from many of my ministry passions because I’ve just been so consumed with my family.

And the list goes on and on and on.

So, when I sat down the pin, I sort-of bonded with it. I remember the feeling I had as I looked at it sitting on the bathroom shelf-

Bent, stretched beyond its capabilities, unable to hold things together anymore.

Poor pin. Poor, useless pin.

You can probably imagine the joy that stirred in my heart when I realized that the very pin I had empathized with just minutes before was the only thing that came to my mind when I couldn’t undo the knot in Cameron’s boot!

As Cameron left the room, I looked down at the pin and felt such excitement!

The pin was broken, but it was still useful!

Oh, thank you, God, for promising to use me in spite of my brokenness. And in fact, promising to use me in ways only possible because of my brokenness.

Lord, you truly can make all things new!

Psalm 34

17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;

Thankful for God’s Promises,

Reality "Check"

January 26th, 2009

 

I just found myself scrambling between cleaning out the frig, straightening the pantry, starting a load of laundry, cleaning up lunch dishes, encouraging Olivia to straighten her room, and preparing to clean the bathrooms, when I realized, “I need to make a list of everything else I need to do today!” YIKES! Running to WalMart, emailing information about Nick’s foundation to the board memebers as well as to the principal at his school, and the list goes on and on and on…….

The snow has arrived! There is no school today! And a snow storm is heading our way TONIGHT! So, my parents are coming tonight instead of tomorrow to visit us and go to a show in Ashland that was part of our Christmas gift to them….in order to avoid driving in the storm!

Suddenly, my list of things “to do” became a little more urgent (and I am thankful!) because my time frame shrank from 24 hours to less than 12!

All the things I planned to do tonight, I want to get done TODAY!

As I was scurrying around feeling a little short on time, I had this nudge from the Spirit that said, “So, what do you still need to do for Me?”

See, in the busyness of what I already knew I had to do today, I had awoken this morning and begun the day by fixing pancakes instead of praying, by sending emails instead of reading God’s Word….

EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!! WHY DO I DO THIS!?!?!??!?!

This nudge from the Spirit became so strong that I left everything undone that I have started and came straight to my chair………

Because my “to do” list should have started HERE…..

And my daily tasks need to be focused on my heart not my house.

This is a moment when I understand why Jesus scolded Martha. It wasn’t because she was cooking or serving or cleaning….

It was because she didn’t remember where to start.

At the feet of Jesus.

So, I’m vowing today to start every future “to do” list with JESUS! And I am praying that I am ready for His return….because when He comes there will be no “12-hour notice!” There will be a trumpet blast and then we shall see Him triumphantly appearing in the sky on His white horse surrounded by thousands of angels….

And every knee shall bow.

No more time to get ready. No more time to do “one more thing.”
Desiring to be ready for that day and thankful for a nudge from the Spirit to set me on my way,

What is it about snow?

January 23rd, 2009

 

I love snow!

Kids love snow!

Teachers really love snow!

When the weatherman even hints that snow is on the way, you can just feel the excitement in the air.

Yesterday as I was subbing, I heard teacher after teacher talk about the fact that next week the weatherman is “calling for snow!”

What is it about snow?

For me, I think it is the chance that the world might shut down temporarily causing everyone to simply stay home and cuddle up under blankets and sip hot chocolate.

White roads unmarked by tires or even footprints.

Tree branches drooping with piles of white fluff.

Snow covering up mud puddles and potholes.

The absence of imperfections in my landscaping.

Snow truly “evens out” the world’s good and bad into one big sweeping view of white beauty….

and in that beauty I find peace.

Being able to watch the snow fall is another thing I love. Witnessing the transformation from greens, browns, rocks, gravel, weeds, broken toys, bare branches……….into a white canopy of oneness.

Snowfall offers hope for all things to become “new.”

Isaiah 1 tells us,

18 “Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow.”
Maybe, just maybe, this deep longing to be white as snow appears in us through………
loving snow days
sledding
making snowmen
creating snow angels
making snow cream
sipping hot chocolate
cuddling under a blanket
catching snowflakes on our tongue
God never ceases to amaze me. The very things we love are the very things He created with such deeper meaning.
As our town prepares for a possible “snowy week” next week, I hope I am preparing even more for the day when my faith becomes sight.
I long to be “whiter than snow!”
And I just wonder if Nick and Adrienne and Natalie and Tyler and Brittany and so many other precious children I know and love who have been taken Home early are playing in the snow in Heaven…..
I can just imagine a place so white and beautiful and yet not needing coats or gloves or hats or mittens…………
Thankful for a creative and loving Creator,

A Special Friend!

January 22nd, 2009

 





Brandon, one of Nick’s best friends, showed up at my house a few weeks ago all decked out in his brand new “Nick Wardrobe!”

He said that when he put on the jeans he had no idea that on one leg was a “three,” on one leg was a “one,” and on the pocket was a cross.

He was so excited, of course, because Nick is forever “13.” And Nick loved Jesus with all of his heart and soul….so does Brandon!

I couldn’t believe the necklace, belt, and belt buckle he had ordered! He couldn’t wait to show me and Tim!


God gave me Nick for 13 years. I had to give him back for now.

I am so thankful He left me with so many other wonderful boys to keep my heart filled with earthly love and hugs!

And special moments like this one with one of Nick’s dearest friends.

I love you, Brandon!

What’s In a Name??

January 21st, 2009

 


Jeremiah 10:6
No one is like you, O LORD; you are great,
and your name is mighty in power.
It was so fun to watch all of the girls on Olivia’s basketball team as they met the University of Kentucky players and were able to get most of the teams’ autographs.
I especially fell in love with this picture which captured Olivia with her eyes closed and mouth smiling as her shirt was being signed by yet another one of her basketball heroes……
Autographs amaze me.
Watching the girls get their shirts signed, their posters signed, their basketballs signed, I couldn’t help but notice the joy and anticipation as they patiently stood in line until the next player was ready to share their name in written form.
My mind wandered, as it often does…….
Where is the power in a person’s signature?
Why do we love to own something that has been autographed?
When someone is considered famous and/or super-talented, fans will often pay high prices to own ANYTHING that bears the person’s signature! Because of this, there are actually websites dedicated to helping you not be “tricked” into purchasing something with a fake autograph.
For our family, receiving Tony Shaloub’s (aka Monk) and Chuck Norris’ autographed pictures were both exciting days!
Nick loved these men so much! Their framed pictures sit proudly on the shelf over Nick’s bed! They are meaningful to us because they bear the celebrities’ names in their own handwriting!
But what is it about a name?
I have to think that Shakespeare was sharing this same question when he wrote Juliet’s famous lines,
“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
And then I look to Scripture, the history book of all history books, and the very Word of God….
and I realize that the power of a name started “In the beginning……”
Jeremiah says, “Your name is mighty in power.”
Today we pray in Jesus’ name.
We sing, “No other name but the name of Jesus…”
In Old Testament times, children were given names that had deep meaning. Many times God actually changed people’s names when He called them to a life of service to Him.
When we give our lives over to God through the acts of repentance, confession, and baptism, we are given the name Christian.
God has high expectations for those who choose to wear the name of His Son Jesus Christ.
So, looking back at the picture of Olivia as she proudly chooses to “wear” the name of one of her basketball role models, I have to wonder…………..
Am I always that happy to wear the name of my role model?
Following Jesus and wearing the name “Christian” aren’t always easy. It means “putting others first, not always getting my way, forgiving others even when I’m hurt, loving those who are sometimes difficult to love, choosing joy when bitterness seems so much easier, finding peace in the midst of a storm….”
Yes, having the privilege of wearing Jesus’ name comes at a high price.
But we can be sure that what we are getting is in no way fake.
Jesus is the genuine article!
He is the One and Only!
There has never been and will never be a greater man or a greater name than the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
So when I’m struggling to find that eye-closed, mouth-smiling pose as I choose to wear the name of Christ, I hope I will always remember this picture of Olivia and embrace the honor of Jesus’ name being written on my heart.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus………
There’s just something about that name.

Not as "Big" as I Thought!

January 20th, 2009

 

II Peter 3:18

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Sunday, Olivia’s basketball team went to Lexington to watch the University of Kentucky’s girls’ team play Mississippi State! (Thank you, Ernie, for the autograph time with the team afterwards!)

While standing in line at the concession stand, we couldn’t help but notice the very tall man ahead of us!

We found out later that his name was Melvin Turpin, and that he was a former player from UK who was half of the powerful “Twin Towers” in his day! As he strolled through the crowd, people would randomly stop him for autographs and/or pictures! He was precious to watch, and I couldn’t resist rounding up some of our girls at one point and setting out to have their picture made. Mr. Turpin was very gracious as the girls all gathered around him.

When the game was over, Tim and I went out to eat with our friends Pam and Ernie and what do you know! Mr. Turpin was in the same restaurant!

I looked at Tim and said, “I just have to have my picture made with him!” There was just something about this man that I adored!

I don’t think it was his heighth although it was impressive.

I don’t think it was his smile although I thought it was priceless.

I think it was the joy I saw him display as he shared himself with so many strangers!

And the fact that he didn’t ask for anything in return!

I truly think he loves coming to the UK games to watch them, but I also think he loves coming to make so many people happy! He is part of UK’s history, yet he doesn’t expect payment for his time or talent. He just simply gives for the pleasure of watching others receive.

Can I say that about myself?

Not always.

Just when I think I may be becoming a “big girl,” God sends a clear message that I have a long ways to go…………………

And looking at this photograph is a visual reminder that I have a LONG ways to “grow!!!”

Needing to be watered daily in His Word,

It’s Hard Being a "Big Girl"

January 17th, 2009

 

Romans 12:15
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.


T
he day slipped by and the choice had to be made.

Would I make the phone call or simply pretend it hadn’t entered my mind?

But the truth was:

It had not only entered my mind. It wouldn’t leave my mind.

Today was one of Nick’s lifelong best friend’s birthday.

And Nick had never missed his party…..til now.

I wrestled all day with how to handle the reality that Nick would never be at Jon’s party again. I didn’t really want to know the details of what Nick might be missing, but I also wanted Jon to know I loved him and remembered.

After all, he misses Nick too.

So, I finally got the nerve.

I dialed his number and Jon’s mom, who is one of my dearest friends, answered the phone. I knew it must be hard for her too.

I said, “I called to wish Jon a “Happy birthday.”

So Jon came to the phone and I sang,

Happy birthday to you,
Happy birthday to you,
You don’t look like a monkey…..

And you don’t smell like one either!

I had to do something to make us both laugh.

Then I said, “I love you, Jon.”

And he sweetly replied, “I love you too, Tammy.”

Then my voice broke as I said “bye.”

Nick’s wind chime began to blow behind me as I stood alone in the darkness of our back yard.

I hung up and cried til I could cry no more.

I looked up at the sky and there it was. One bright star all alone in the sky, just like the weekend Nick died. And actually that weekend there were two. A large one and a small one. (We felt sure it was Nick and Adrienne’s way of saying, “We’re together!”)

I said out loud, “I love you, Nick, so much. I always will.” And then I told God I loved Him too but that there was so much I would never understand while on this earth.

Now I’m back in the house trying not to feel blue.

Cooking supper. Doing laundry.

The normal things a mom has to do.

But I’m thankful.

Thankful that God pushed me to the point of calling.

I want to rejoice with those who rejoice. I want to be a big girl.

But, oh, sometimes it hurts.

Thankful,