Finding God's grace in normal life

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

I witnessed a Holy Moment

September 26, 2015
Started out as any other day, a Saturday morning where the kids were asking if we could make waffles.  We were all lying in our bed, the five of us…talking about the Cougar flag being waved at certain televised games. 

When in the middle of the football talk, Princess K says,

“I want to ask Jesus into my heart!” 

We all went silent, it was as if even Baby K knew this was important enough to stop wrestling and flailing about.  She said it again, “I want to ask Jesus into my heart.”  Handsome K and I looked at each other and at her.  I smiled. 

What made you think of this right now?  (looking back I knew the answer, the Holy Spirit of course was prompting her).  She mentioned that she and her friend were talking about it last night and she told her friend she wanted to talk to her mom and dad about it.  Princess K said, “I forgot last night after they left and I remembered when I got up this morning.”  She told me later that she kind of whispered it at first and nobody heard her and then said it again louder.  I think she was excited and nervous and excited and nervous.

We asked her why she wanted Jesus in her heart.  She told us because He forgave her sins when He died on the cross.  She said that in Vacation Bible School she learned a song, ABC…

A-admit that you’re a sinner, B-Believe in Jesus, C-Confess your faith in Jesus.

“That’s what I want to do.”

Rewind the last 10 months…I’ve been praying for Princess K to realize she’s lost so that she may be found.  Growing up around church and ministry and college students who love Jesus she has knowledge about God and His Son, Jesus.  I had been praying that she understood the difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus, choosing Jesus.  Last December we had one of our interns from church over for dinner and we were talking about spiritual birthdays because hers was coming up.  Little K talked about when his was and I shared about my day briefly…Princess K said, “How do you get one of those?  I don’t have one.”  Little K told her it’s the day you ask Jesus into your heart.  She simply repeated something about not having done that yet.  This was the first glimpse of her understanding she has a choice.  Then two more times she said things like this over the next few months, not having done that yet.

At Easter in April we were reading about Jesus being the light that shows our way. We were talking about how when you choose to follow Jesus you no longer live in darkness but have that light inside of you too.  Light in the dark world.  While standing closely together in our closet (with a candle for emphasis) we talked about being light in the darkness, Princess K said, “I’m dark inside, I don’t have the light yet.”

She was beginning to see that she too has a choice…to choose Jesus or not, to be in darkness or live in the light.  So I knew firsthand that Jesus was drawing her closer to Himself.  When she proclaimed she was ready I was sure my prayers of her knowing she had a decision to make for herself was happening.  God was transforming the heart of my daughter right in front of me.

We talked about Jesus being the bridge that we can choose to walk across leaving our sin on one side of the gap and walking over the bridge that Jesus’ death provides to God’s side. 

“I want to walk across that bridge mommy.”

Next came a very holy moment…

We asked her if she knew what she wanted to say and she said she did.

She talked to Jesus out loud with us hearing her sweet prayer and her life being saved.  My sweet daughter, I’ve prayed for this since your conception.

“God, “A” is admit that I’m a sinner.  I am God.  “B” is believe in Jesus.  I believe Jesus died to forgive me of my sins and I want to walk across His bridge.  “C” confess my faith in you.  Jesus please come into my heart.  I don’t want to be on the side without you.”

Yep, I was crying…tears of joy.  Prayers for my daughter’s future, the narrow road is hard, but so worth it.  Many go through the wide gates and never walk across Jesus’ bridge, but my joyful song just chose to allow Jesus to influence and direct her life on earth…her personal, love relationship with Jesus beginning right there in our bed.

After she prayed, Handsome K told her that the Bible tells us that the angels rejoice when someone believes in Jesus.  The angels are having a party in Heaven because of your decision to choose Jesus.  She smiled really big.   I imagine she was trying to picture a party in Heaven.  She talked about how there might be cake, balloons and  banners and we said I’m sure there is singing!  A party for her in Heaven!

We continued to talk…all enjoying the moment…then Princess K said in a sad small voice.  “Not everyone has walked across the bridge to God huh mom?”


“Well, we have to tell them.”

Yes, my little missionary.  We do.

I told her how on Earth she’s my daughter, but in God’s family we are sisters.  We giggled together because that is kind of funny to think about.  We called grandparents, aunts, and uncles that day so she could share her news.  We went to the grocery store and saw a special friend of hers, a girl who has been investing in my daughter in big ways this year; as we were talking she walked up and proudly shared unprompted her decision.  Swooped up in arms; this special young lady in my daughter’s life rejoiced with us!

Recently Handsome K preached about living in the cycle of life (under the sun) vs. living in God’s story (beyond the sun).  She has continued to share her good news…she is beginning her journey as a part of God’s story, beyond the sun.  I know this journey will not be simple, she will fall down.  BUT GOD…will pick her up and forgive and transform and change her to grow more like Him all the days of her life.

I cannot imagine what God has for you Princess K, but your kind and compassionate heart, your imaginative and creative mind, and looking to God to tell you who you are will take you on amazing adventures.  You will soar! 

And keep telling people how to walk across the bridge to life in Jesus!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Our story in God's story

On a recent flight I was alone and was seated by a retired woman who easily began conversation with me.  I’m usually the one to initiate conversation but actually intended to sleep most of this flight.  She began sharing with me that she and her husband had been missionaries in east Africa for 35 years only to retire 6 years earlier.  I asked her how she got to Africa and this began a beautiful almost 2 hour story.  She shared about being a missionary kid to Hawaii during her childhood, and knowing she was called to be an international missionary at the age of 10.  Her family moved to Oklahoma and after college she went to Ft. Worth, Tx to seminary. 

She told about meeting her husband for the first time and how it was love at first sight.

Pure.  Beautiful love.

But they had a problem…he wasn’t interested in being a missionary overseas.  He wanted to be in youth ministry.  In her sweet kind words she said, “That was a struggle for a long while.  I just kept praying for God’s direction.” 

Then he spent a summer as a youth minister in The Dalles, Oregon and everything changed.  He wrote to her saying he was open to being a missionary and surrendered his life to preach and pursue being a pastor.  I asked what she thought when she read that letter…

She smiled really big and got tears in her eye and said, “oh, I was thankful and yelled in celebration!”  After all these years, telling about this moment still brought joyful tears to her eyes…lovely.

Kind of wish I could have been there to see that.

She went on to tell me how she remembers the first time he held her hand.  And after they were married, how they served at a church for a few of their young married years, then she went to a missions conference that was highlighting missions in Eastern Africa.  She said, “they were giving out the Comission magazine so I took one and brought it home.”

Apparently he read it.  Because he came to her and explained the article he read and she even told me the picture that he was looking at in the magazine that God began to use to send them to Africa(men holding a log with 9 on one end and only 1 man on the other end).  The article said something like who needs your help? 

He told her we need to go help that one man in East Africa. 

I asked her what she felt in that moment…she said, “Thankful and excited.  We were going overseas…where I knew God had called me to go long before.  God had given me peace to wait and now we were going.”

She told of discovering they weren’t able to have children and how God orchestrated them to adopt two children, just coinciding with their visits to the states.  She told me how both of their boys had loved God and how they had walked away from God at times, but one is walking with Jesus now.  She spoke tenderly about the son who asked them years ago not to talk to him about God anymore. 

She had tears in her eyes again.  Because of her love for her son and her Jesus.  She simply said, “We keep praying for him even though we can’t talk to him about Jesus.”

I cried with her.  We had a mom heart-to-heart moment.

We continued our conversation until we landed…Becky and I.  A woman whose heart was gripped by Jesus at a young age and never looked back.  A woman whose life is rich because she followed Jesus where He asked her to go.  A woman who encouraged me with her story and whose faith was evident even when life didn’t make sense.

I had been at a large Church planting conference that week and as we talked she shared that she lived in the area and had attended some of it as well.  One of the speakers quoted someone saying, “what matters at the end of your life is what continues when you are gone.”  Her life mattered in Africa and continues to every Sunday they drive to a neighboring city to pick up their grandkids to bring them to church.  No matter where she lives her life matters.  To Jesus and for Jesus.

I want God to use my life to matter.  I want my life to matter.  I want to be retired and encourage someone with the ways I have experienced God in my life…simply by telling my story and how it’s really a part of God’s story.  God is weaving and has been for over 2,000 years a greater story with Himself at the center of it. 

I want my story to really be a story about Him. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Beginning of my Grandma's Forever

June 10-11, 2015

My sweet Grandma Beth is getting ready to meet Jesus face to face and see Papa after eleven years.  This is a mixed up sort of emotional evening.  Her blood pressure if fading…increased meds to stabilize stopped helping this evening…bp was 69/37 at 7:40pm…at 10:40pm is was 54/29, pulse oxygen at 80…she’s leaving this world.  When I think about her uncomfortable, confused, throwing up…I’m anxious for her joy to come quickly…when I think about her getting to fall at Jesus’ feet, I can’t even fathom.  But when I think about what I felt when I’d see my Grandma Beth’s car pull into the school circle to pick me up and take me to ice cream or when I think about sitting on her front porch swing with her singing kum ba yah my Lord, or when I think about her telling me “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck,” my heart aches.  I’m just sad.  I had the privileged joy in my childhood to grow up in the same town as one set of my grandparents.  My grandma was always present.  It’s weird that Baby K, my youngest will never remember meeting her.  Never know her.  I cried when I received word that she was being taken by ambulance to the hospital, she couldn’t walk, her eyes were stationary and she wasn’t talking…I asked Handsome K if this is the end? That was two days ago. 

Makes me think what a vapor our lives really are.  I walked in and laid my hand on each of my kids tonight, watched them breath a few moments and prayed that I’m half the serving, generous, loving woman my grandma was.  Prayed that my kids would know how much I love them everyday, so they would never doubt that. 

For the past three years, my Grandma has often asked, “Where’s James?”  James is my Papa, who met Jesus 11 years ago.  But when my Grandma’s dementia would take over her safe place was where Papa was.  She’s asked my mom and I’m sure everyone at the nursing home, “Where’s James?”  They would tell her he died and she would say, “oh, ok” or “he did?” She’s never quit asking about him.  A few hours ago she asked my Mom again, “Where’s James?”  Mom usually tells her he is gone.  Tonight she told her, “He’s at home, he will be here soon.”  Mom said she just couldn’t tell her again.  We decided it’s true because Papa is at home in Heaven and Grandma will get to see him soon. 

I cried as I talked to Handsome K on the phone, seemed so childish of me but I wanted one more time to tell my Grandma, “I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”  Why in the last moments would it be so comforting to say just one more thing to those you love.  I just wanted her to know again that I love her.

Mom and I talked at 11pm tonight.  Quickly.  I wanted to be with her.  Grandma’s life on earth is almost done.  Fading.

A little after midnight for me (2am in Texas) I got this text from my mom…

“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”

Mother is in awe of our Heavenly Father.
She is wrapped in the arms of our
Heavenly Father. She is at peace.
And now she knows,
"Where is James?"

As soon as I saw the first line I started to cry because I remember sitting in my grandparents dining room playing that song for Grandma when we searched and decided songs for Papa’s funeral.  I knew immediately she was gone.  I read it three times and sobbed like a baby…loud while rocking back and forth alone on my couch.  I deeply love my Grandma.  Her first name is Golden, and that she was.  It doesn’t seem real.  I know it is.  I’m grateful that I can be joyful in where she is now…no pain, no sorrow, no hospitals, no confusion.   But death is so final for us left here on Earth.  She is beginning the rest of her forever in the wee hours of June 11, 2015. 

Do I believe we will know people in Heaven just like we do on Earth?? Probably not because we won’t remember sin.  But I choose to think about knowing people deeply in Heaven.  God made us relational.  Primarily so we can have a relationship with Him and for Him to be glorified.  My Grandma’s life glorified God.

You’re right mom, she will never again ask, “Where’s James?” 

She knows.

I choose to visualize Grandma and Papa having a cup of coffee and singing It Is Well With my Soul together loudly praising our Heavenly Father forever in His presence as only those in Heaven understand.   While I’m back on Earth and looking forward to the day that I can right now only imagine.   

After getting back home I heard this song as if for the first time…it is a beautiful reminder that our time on Earth is so short really and our forever home is waiting for us. 

I hold your hand and watch as the sun slowly fades
Far in the distance the Father is calling your name
And it’s time for you to go home
And everything in me wants to hold on
But I’m letting you go with this goodbye kiss and this promise

I’ll see you in a little while
I’ll see you in a little while
It won’t be too long now
We’ll see it on the other side
The wait was only the blink of an eye
So I’m not gonna say goodbye
‘Cause I’ll see you in a little while

Maybe you’ll teach me all the songs they sing in heaven
Maybe you’ll show me how you can fly
And I’ll hear you laugh again
And we won’t remember when
We were not together and this time it’s forever
                                       (Stephen Curtis Chapman)

God I pray that I am a servant and love people deeply like my Grandma did.  Help me to be that with my life…no greater joy than knowing you…in life and in death.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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