Friday, October 31, 2008

I Can Only Imagine

I can only imagine what it will be like when I walk by your side. I can only imagine what my eyes will see when your face is before me. I can only imagine. Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of You be still? Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all? I can only imagine. I can only imagine when that day comes, and I find myself standing in the Son. I can only imagine when all I will do, is
forever, forever worship You. I can only imagine. (I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me)

I can only wait. I can only wait for my time to come when I will walk by Jesus' side. I'm not ready to go just yet, though. There are still SO MANY THINGS for me left to do. My time on the earth is not yet complete. My God-given mission has not been found or determined - YET. At least, I don't think it has??? As for those that are walking with the Lord tonight, tomorrow, and all the days thereafter, what a joy, honor and privilege to be where they are right now. My grammie is there, as well as my other grandmother and both grandfathers. I was blessed in my life to have known, loved and been loved by all 4 of my grandparents. My grammie, though, will always hold the most special place in my heart. I remember when I was old enough, I used to spend the weekend with her at the "High Rise". We would go out to eat and then shopping with her friends, and play bingo or cards in the evenings. She taught me how to crochet and knit, and how to do plastic canvas... that woman could craft ANYTHING! (She made me Campbell Soup kid dolls, Raggedy Ann & Andy dolls, and some you wouldn't believe... Mom, remember Uglina? the nylon doll with the curly hair? - I have them all!) As for me, I just started learning to knit again a few years ago (thank You Don for buying me the book), but I haven't been able to keep up with it. Up until the Prayer Shawl Ministry started, I wasn't ready to give up the couple milk crates of yarn I had been holding onto for the past 10 years. The yarn was my grammie's and I loved it all, and the memories it evoked.

It's hard to let go of those who have left us behind and the things they left behind for us. I kept boxes and boxes of my Grammie's craft things because I wasn't ready to part with them just yet. I would sit down and just go through them remembering all the fun we used to have doing one craft or another. Or just remembering being in her apartment and the menial things we used to do - like cleaning her room, or winding her old mantel clock. I remember she had this old Contour chair and I spent many a night sleeping on it, much to her dismay! How she would make me lumpy mashed potatoes (from scratch, of course) with lots and lots of butter. And that woman could make a mean chocolate fudge! The best I've ever had. On this All Saints Day, take the time to remember the good and the bad times with those you've loved and lost. For some, the loss is so recent. For others, it may be years, but it feels like yesterday... Take the time to imagine how they are walking and talking by Jesus' side. Are they holding hands? Are they laughing out loud? Are they on their knees praying? Are they singing Hallelujah at the tops of their lungs? I can only imagine...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Measure of A Man

This world can analyze and size you up, and throw you on the scales. They can IQ you and run you through their rigorous details. They can do their best to rate you, and they'll place you on their charts. And then back it up with scientific smarts. Bur there's more to what your worth, than what their human eyes can see. Oh I say the measure of a man is not how tall you stand, how wealthy or intelligent you are. Cause I found out the measure of a man God knows and understands. For He looks inside to the bottom of your heart and what's in the heart defines he measure of a man. Well you can doubt your worth and search for who you are and where you stand, but God made you in His image when He formed you in his hands. And He looks at you with mercy and He sees you through His love. You're His child and that will always be enough for there's more to what you're worth than you could ever comprehend. You can spend your life pursuing physical perfection. There is so much more, more than ever meets the eye. For God looks through the surface and He defines your worth by, what is on the inside. ("The Measure of A Man" by 4Him)

I attended a Memorial Service yesterday for a man I had never met. I went to support my friends in their time of grief and loss. I didn't expect to cry, to laugh, or to feel as if I had lost someone as well, but I did. As I listened to the stories of this man as related by his sister-in-law, the shared times of his brother, son, daughter, and granddaughter, I caught a very small glimpse of what this man was like. I was moved to tears by the accounts of this man who was now spending eternity with Jesus. As I listened to the brief account of this man's life, there was no mention of what kind of house he lived in, what kind of car he drove or how much money he made. Those weren't the important things that he should have been remembered by, nor were they. He was remembered as a loving husband, father, uncle and grandfather. He was remembered as a man who loved the outdoors - to fish and to hunt. He was remembered as the big brother that took his younger brother to see Air Force One hidden underneath blankets in the back of a truck. He was remembered as the grandfather that attended the Military Ball and surprised his granddaughter. He was remembered by the man he WAS on the inside, NOT the things he had on the outside.

As we go through life, it's important to remember that how we respond and relate to other people is so much more important than the material things we possess or don't possess. When we go to heaven, our personal possessions don't come with us. They are left behind for other people to handle, dispose of, etc. Rather, it's what's in our heart and soul that presents itself to God the Father. He knows every day of our living life who we are and what we are. He knows what's in our hearts and our souls. He can see beyond the makeup, the fancy clothes, the expensive car, and the big house. He can see beyond the empty refrigerator, the torn clothing, the non-existent bank account. He knows whether or not we love Him, whether or not we are angry with Him, whether or not we are telling the truth. He knows it all. What do the people around us know? Do they know how we feel about God? about them? about others? Does the way we live our life show people that we are more than just what's on the outside? Do we live our life the way that God sees us - with mercy and love?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

We are the Body

It's crowded in worship today. As she slips in trying to fade into the faces. The girl's teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know. Farther than they know. But if we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching? And if we are the body, why aren't His feet going? Why is His love not showing them there is a way? There is a way. A traveler is far away from home. He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row. The weight of their judgmental glances tells him that his chances are better out on the road. But if we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching? Why aren't His hands healing? Why aren't His words teaching? And if we are the body, why aren't His feet going? Why is His love not showing them there is a way? There is a way.Jesus payed much too high a price for us to pick and choose who should come. And we are the body of Christ. Jesus is the way. (We Are The Body - Casting Crowns)

Jesus - Alive and in Persons. If you haven't driven by the church this week, that's the message posted on the display out front. I wonder if Dan knew when he chose that saying that the message this week was going to be - "We are the church; the body of Christ; the church's one foundation." I wonder if he knew how many things were going on at the church this weekend that are a direct reflection of that statement: Jesus - Alive and in Persons. I wonder if he knew that we all need that reminder every now and then?

Did you know that this weekend is the 3rd & 4th grade Bible sleepover. Thank you Mel & Jill for spending your Friday evening and Saturday morning with our children. You are a blessing and we Thank God for you. Did you know that the Friendship Team will be making soup Saturday morning beginning @ 8 a.m. to deliver to the friends they have been spending time with? Thank you Friendship Team for your wonderful gift of ministry to those who are unable to spend regular Saturday or Sunday worship time with us, their brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank God for you. Did you know that the Pig Roast is tomorrow evening? Have you bought your tickets? You can buy them at the door if you haven't! Thank you to all the people that have or will have baked pies, made cookies, cakes, cooked anything, sold tickets, made posters, etc. for the Pig Roast. Did you know that there are several women spending a weekend in fellowship at Olmsted Manor this weekend, sharing stories, laughter, and maybe even some tears together? Thank you to the women who are participating and the families that have shared their wives, sisters, mothers, daughters with other wives, sisters, mothers and daughters for a special weekend. Thank God for you. Did you know that Youth Group meets on Sunday evenings? Thank you Cherie for your gift of service to our youth. What an inspiration you are!

I know there are many other things going on this weekend that I don't know about, or forgot to mention. What's important is the message we're sending as a church, as Christians: Jesus - Alive and in Persons. We are the Church. We are the Body. We are the Church's Foundation. May our arms reach out to others in need, in love, in fellowship. May our hands reach out with compassion, with friendship, and with healing. May our words be spoken loud and clear to teach, to console, to express concern and caring. May our feet always move in the direction that Jesus is taking us - even if we don't feel like it's the right way. May our love show everyone that there is a way because WE ARE THE BODY and JESUS IS ALIVE IN EACH OF US.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Today is a NEW DAY!

Have you ever doubted what you're made of? Have you ever fed your fear? Have you ever seemed disconnected? Has your laughter ever turned to tears? It's alright, it's alright. You're not the only one. Have you ever made a silly faux pas? Or kissed another dream goodbye? Have you ever found out when time ran out, You needed one more try? Oh yeah, it's OK, God brings in a brand new day. Another chance, another choice. Another hope, another possibility. All right, OK, no more time for yesterday. Open your eyes and you'll find, it's a new day, it's a brand new day. So wake up, wake up from your bad dream. Ooo, you gotta clear your head. There is opportunity knocking when you're hanging by a thread. It's alright, a new sun's gonna rise! Oh yeah, come on! No more fear, it's a new day. No more worry, it's a new day. No more doubt, it's a new day. Just believe it, it's a new day! It doesn't matter where your life has been. Just trust in Him. And let a new day begin, come on! Alright, OK. Don't you worry bout yesterday. It doesn't matter what you've done wrong. It's gone, gone, gone, gone, gone. Everything's gonna be alright. Another chance, another try. Open your eyes cause the sun is about to shine. Open your eyes and you'll find... it's a new day, it's a new day. It's a new day, come on, come on. It's a new day, it's a new day. It's a new day, come on, come on. It's a new day, come on! (Joy Williams "New Day")

I really HATE going to bed at night. Sometimes, I'll stay up late just so I can do that extra load of laundry, or wash the dishes, or check my e-mail, or try and do one of the other 101 things I didn't get done that day. Sometimes, I'll just stay up and BE. Just do nothing. Sit on a chair and veg in front of the TV. But, when I really start to think about it, I know that after I go to bed, and when I wake up, I will have a whole NEW DAY ahead of me. A day full of time to do the things done I didn't get to yesterday. Who besides me really cares if I don't finish that load of laundry? Who besides me cares if I the dishes sit for one night? Who besides me cares if I don't check my e-mail every 10 minutes! No one! My family cares that I am spending time with them much rather than running around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to get things done. (I'm known to do that.) I know that each day is a NEW DAY. Each day is a BRAND NEW DAY full of exciting opportunities! A day full of new things - the changing colors on the trees, the birth of a baby bird, the new bud on a flower, the fresh smell of rain on the grass... And I can't spend every day worrying about the "what if's"? What if the laundry basket gets full? What if the dishes pile up? What if I don't get the vacuuming done? What if? What if? What if? Today, like every day, is a NEW DAY and I intend on starting each one with a clean slate.

Every day, no matter what you didn't get done yesterday, that was yesterday and what's done is done, and that's OK. Every day no matter what you feel on the inside, God loves you. Every day, no matter what you see on the outside, the sun does rise. Every day, no matter what problems you carry with you, God is walking beside you on your journey. Every day is a NEW DAY and you can do anything!

Today and every day is a NEW DAY. How are you going to celebrate TODAY?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Where does it hurt?

I'm down on my knees again tonight. I'm hoping this prayer will turn out right. See there is a boy that needs Your help. I've done all that I can do myself. His mother is tired. I'm sure You can understand. Each night as he sleeps, she goes in to hold his hand, and she tries not to cry as the tears fill her eyes. Can You hear me? Am I getting through tonight? Can You see him? Can You make him feel all right? If You can hear me, let me take his place somehow. See, he's not just anyone, he's my son. Sometimes late at night I watch him sleep. I dream of the boy he'd like to be. I try to be strong and see him through, but God who he needs right now is You. Let him grow old, live life without this fear. What would I be living without him here. He's so tired and he's scared. Let him know that You're there. Can You hear me? Can You see him? Please don't leave him, he's my son. (Mark Schultz song - "He's My Son")

I was born with a hole in my heart, more specifically - an Atrial Septal Defect (ASD). An ASD is a type of congenital heart defect in which there is an abnormal opening in the dividing wall between the upper filling chambers of the heart. In most cases ASD's are diagnosed and treated successfully with few or no complications. My hole was found early on by my pediatrician (Dr. Silverstein) and when I was five years old, I had open-heart surgery to repair the hole. (Thank you Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh!) During my time in the hospital, (I don't remember how long I was there, maybe several days?), I remember lots of little things - the taste of "cotton" in my mouth as I was "going to sleep" before my operation. Wearing socks to bed for some strange reason. Playing with some of the other little girls who were in the same wing as I was. This cute little yellow pajama set I wore while I was there that had cheerleaders on it. The newspaper coming to take my picture, and that I was fine until I saw my parents through the window of my room door and then I went berserk! I remember that I couldn't see my brother because he was too young, at 11. I remember this yellow stuffed dachshund dog the doctors and nurses signed before I left, as well as everyone I could find to share it with at home when I got back. I held on to that dog for a long time. I cherished that dog. I remember all those things. If you ask my mom or dad, I'm sure they would remember a lot more, different things, things difficult for a parent to remember, not because of the time that has passed, but because of the memories themselves. The one memory that I know both my parents could tell you about, that I didn't find out until much later, is that one time when my dad asked if anything hurt, I told him... my heart hurt. My heart hurt. I don't know if I had just come out of surgery or was going in, but to have your 5-year old child tell you that their "heart hurt" had to have been one of the most excruciating things in the world for my dad to hear. I don't know. I just don't know what I would have done. Got down on my knees and prayed? Walked away so they wouldn't see the tears streaming down my face? Screamed and yelled because I was totally helpless to do anything to make the hurt go away? I just don't know.

I don't always know "where it hurts" when one of my own children does get hurt. I don't always know how to make the hurt go away. I don't always react the way I should, because sometimes there are no words, nothing to do or say that will make the hurt any better, except time and an ice pack if that's what is needed. Sometimes, my girls can't tell me where it hurts, or how it hurts, just that it does. Isn't that good enough? To know that they're hurting and that they need you. And somehow, just somehow, you need to make the pain GO AWAY. What can I do to make this sometimes invisible pain go away? Tell my children how much I love them. Hold them until the tears stop. Pray. Pray to God that even though I don't know what kind of pain they have, or even where it is, that He does and that He can make them feel better. We can't always make the hurt go away, and we can't always tell someone else "where it hurts". But, God knows. He knows every hurt that we've had. He knows why we're hurting, where we're hurting and how long we've been hurting. Don't be afraid to tell God "where it hurts" and to let Him heal you...