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A Sojourner Bound for a Heavenly Kingdom

Weighing the Cost Versus the Value

I heard a sermon today about how we should be more like little children who see Christmas and the birth of Christ with child like faith. He said they see the value of Christ and we adults most often see the cost. What does it cost me to believe? What does it cost to give of myself?

Over the years I have often thought that I should write a Christmas letter like many that I receive from friends and family. I enjoy getting and reading these letters, but whenever I think I might write one I get hung up over the fact that my life is not as fun, neat and painless as the letters I receive. I have never been able to get over that I don’t know how to share the good times without acknowledging the painful ones. I feel like I would be lying to tell about all the good things that have happened but don’t share about the wounds, the hurts and the losses I and my family have suffered. So I chose to not share at all, even a Christmas card with a picture has been out of reach for me.

Over the last few years, birthdays and holidays have become increasingly difficult for me. They just remind me of what I am missing, the broken relationships, the wounds in those I love, the things that I have hoped and longed for that have not come to pass. Today as I sat in church to celebrate the birth of Christ, as others were rejoicing, I was sorrowful and tried not to let those around me see the tears that were running down my cheeks.

But as the pastor spoke of value versus cost, I wondered is it wrong to count the cost? Following Christ does come at a cost. I chose Him and His ways over the ways of the world and my culture and this has cost me. It has cost me friendships, it has cost me loss of family and those I love dearly, it has cost me my reputation at times, it has cost me promotions at work. I could chose to compromise my faith to see restoration of some of these things but I don’t, I can’t, because honoring God with my life has become the most important thing in my life.

I was reminded that the value of the Cross must be my focus. Christ came so that there could be healing and wholeness. He came to bring life into the darkness of our pain, suffering and sin. Without His birth as a helpless, vulnerable baby, I would not have any Hope for restoration of relationships, healing of the woundedness in myself and others and freedom from the sin that so easily comes upon us. I am going to attempt to see the value and not dwell on the cost. He has restored my soul, He has captured my heart and I will walk with Him all of my days into eternity and beyond!

 

 

 

 

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A Tribute to My Sister, Rebecca

Becca and II really don’t know where to begin. She is a part of me. Rebecca and Ramona is who we have been for 57 years. I spent the first 17 years of my life with her by my side, sharing everything, friends, toys, bedrooms, clothes, music and so much more. She is 14 months older than me, but, as Rebecca liked to remind me, most people thought I was the older sister and she was content to let them think so. She was one of my biggest fans, she often let me know how proud she was of my being a nurse and she loved that I was a leader in my profession. How I wish I showed her more how much I loved her, but I do think she knew.

We went on our first double date together when we were much too young to even be dating!! I think I was in 6th grade.(Don’t tell mom) There are so many memories that I have and so much I don’t remember over the years. She was always so much fun to be around and we hardly ever fought, mostly because Rebecca would just let me have my way, I’m sure. She liked when I lead and she was a great support, encourager and playmate. I will never forget the crazy times at the cabin, how much you loved the sun and the beach and all of the laughter and tears we shared. The tape placed down the middle of our room and me piling all your clothes on your bed! Going to school I walked fast, you walked slow and I would stop every block or so to wait for you to catch up. When we had to change schools (7 times!) we always had a friend so it made those transitions easier.

We got married within 8 months of each other, we had our first child within 3 months of each other. We learned to be wives and mothers together. She mothered my children and I mothered hers (I plan on continuing that!). If I told you some stories of the adventures we took our kids on…. well. let’s just say, these are different times! We were so different in many ways, but our bond runs deep and strong.

We continued to do everything together into our 30’s, and then life’s circumstances caused some separation. One of the wonderful thing about our family is that even though we have suffered many hurts and disappointments and challenges, we have managed to overcome them because of the love of Christ and our love for each other. There were times when I was critical of her but, I realize now, she did life the best way that she could. All of us have our wounds and shortcomings but Rebecca was never the one to point those out, she chose to encourage and she loved others so well.  She constantly gave of herself and her time without reservation. She never wanted to see others hurting or feeling bad about anything. She was a constant encourager. I am going to miss her more than I can say.

Over these last three months as she was battling cancer, she taught all of us so much. She was constantly cheerful and encouraging, even when she felt so sick and was in pain. She thanked all of us and apologized for being a bother again and again. It was hard for her to receive our help, she would try to help others even when she was too sick or weak to do so. She loved Jesus deeply and expressed often that she felt at peace and that she was being held in her Father’s Arms. I know that my life has been changed because of her example, the grace that she carried for others and how much she longed for peace and reconciliation within her family.

So my encouragement to you is to love more deeply, judge others less harshly and be willing to embrace each moment that is in front of you, you never know which day will be your last here on this earth.

Rebecca, I am thankful we got one last adventure down at the river, under the Rainbow Bridge. I wish I could have just whisked you away from all of the pain and suffering that you went through, but God had a different plan. HIs ways are unsearchable and His goodness is beyond measure. May each one of you know Him as she did, my hope is that your life has been changed as you touched a bit of heaven in knowing Rebecca.

It’s Time. It’s Time to Share My Secret.

It’s time. It’s time to share my secret, and I’m full of sadness. It’s been at least 38 years and I still wish I could undo that choice that I made on that horrible day when I killed my baby. I’ve often thought about why I want to share my story. Tonight when I woke up at 4 in the morning I began to think about a comment a friend of mine who is pro-choice made during his assessment of those who are pro-life. He said, “it’s not my womb” even as he acknowledged that a baby in the womb is a life. No, it’s not his womb, but oh, how I wish someone had told me, it’s a life! This is your baby! Give that child a chance to live!

I realize as I read all the opinions about abortion and other ideologies that most of us are first and foremost informed by our experiences. I want to put a personal face to the belief that abortion should be a woman’s right to chose.  I want to share my story so that maybe even one person that reads it will change their mind about abortion, that maybe one young woman will keep her baby because she will hear how painful it has been for me to know what I did all those years ago, that I have regretted that decision ever since the day that I made it. I finally told my four grown children just two years ago that they have a sibling that they did not know about, that I chose to snuff out that life because I was afraid of what others would think, I wasn’t married and I was ashamed and scared. They cried. I told them individually, one at a time because I could not bear to have this conversation with more than one of them at a time, it was too hard and the scar still hurts me and now I had to see it hurt them, too.

My abortion, the killing of my first baby, has informed my belief that abortion is fundamentally immoral and wrong. I am outraged that at 17 I could go into a clinic and without any counseling or information, kill my unborn child. I don’t remember all the details of that day so long ago, but I remember that they were worried I might be too far along to do the abortion. I think I had to come back on another day after they confirmed the pregnancy. To be honest, I don’t even remember if they did an ultrasound, but guaranteed I was not offered to see the baby or given any information  about the gestational age, what my baby looked like or anything that might have persuaded me to change my mind.  So, I got dropped off by my boyfriend’s sister and endured that horrible procedure alone. After it was over, I had no one that I could talk to about it, but I knew what I had done.

I often wondered how I could make that decision when at the time I knew that it was wrong. Looking back, I would say that two things informed that decision. First and foremost was my own selfishness, my fears and my inability to see beyond my current circumstances into my future. The second was the fact that when I was 13 years old someone close to me told me that they were pregnant and that they were going to have an abortion. Without me being aware of it, killing my baby became a choice for me at that point in time. I never talked to that person again about the repercussions of her choice, but, like me, keeping that baby would not have had the devastating result that we feared it would. Of course, I can’t know what my life would have actually been like if that baby had been allowed to live, but I know that not long after, I got married and had a child. I was a good mother even though very young and not much had changed.

How I wish it had not been that easy, that someone would have given me options, or that they would have told me about the regrets and pain that I would carry for the rest of my life if I made that choice. “It’s a woman’s right to chose”, “It’s not my womb”, “my body, my choice”, these all sound so plausible and reasonable but the voice of the unborn child is not heard, there is no concern that basic morality tells us that this is murder, that we don’t have the right to take the life of another, one who is completely innocent. We also have turned a deaf ear to the thousands of women who have gotten an abortion and suffer with regret and anguish over that decision.

I read recently that “abortion may be the most important moral issue, not just of our day, but in all history”(Chip Ingram). I believe he is correct. What makes this so gut-wrenching is that as a society we don’t even recognize this fact.  We are so far away from having an intact moral fabric as a culture that the fact that we have killed over 50 million babies since 1973 does not faze many of us. We cannot even begin to know the cost of this tragedy, this great wrong that we have committed.  I recently heard Mia Love discuss her parents choice to not chose abortion  with the words “They chose life. They didn’t choose what might have been; they chose what is to come. They went and followed and fostered that life, and the future and the dreams that baby would bring.” “Each child born and unborn has the potential to open up our world and take us to places and spaces we’ve never imagined,” Love said. “Each living child carries with him or her the potential for greatness.”

Love said that every time a child is killed by an abortion, the potential of the country is killed as well.

“Every time we kill a child, we, all of us, suffer,” Love said. “We lose a little of ourselves and a whole lot of our future.”

I lost a lot of myself on that fateful day over 38 years ago, I lost a lot of my future. I will never know the potential that child had, the grandchildren they may have borne me, so much was lost and I didn’t know. I realize that trying to fight this battle against the onslaught that says there is no absolute truth, that everything is relative to our experiences, that no one can tell you anymore what is wrong or right may seem utter foolishness to many. But I cannot give up hope that truth will win, that true love puts the other first, that it is not just about me, that having a “voice for the voiceless” first and foremost means speaking out for the unborn to give them a chance. That maybe, just maybe more of us will chose to release the potential for greatness that we have as a people by sacrificing for the greater good of all.

Do I believe God is truly Sovereign?

This week my belief that God is Sovereign, that He is in total control and that nothing touches my life that He did not allow or that He did not decree and that He will use everything for my good as I seek His Face, was put to the test.

As I write this the situation seems unimportant and definitely not as serious as others that I have faced. No one died, I wasn’t diagnosed with a serious or life threatening illness, or anything else nearly that traumatic. I was denied a promotion- Again. There is too much history to explain it all in this post, but suffice it to say that I have been unfairly treated, I have been passed over for this promotion for others who are far less qualified and several did not survive the job for more than 10 months.

When I realized the position was vacant again, I at first thought no way would I put myself through the process again only to be denied because I knew a superior had said that she would never allow me to be promoted in this organization. But I had just recently asked God to give me a better schedule so that I could be more freed up for ministry and have my weekends free to attend church and stay better connected to those I worship with. Then this job came up. So, I applied, sat on three different interview panels and also one with my director and then my CNE(chief nurse executive). I did very well on all of those interviews and it was clear that I was supported for the position by many people.

The day I knew I would hear, I asked God to remind me that I was trusting Him, that if I didn’t get the position it was because He had different plans for me. When told I did not get the position I was angry and humiliated. I wish I had just not even applied as I now saw it was pointless, all the hours of preparation, the wondering, the conversations, etc. Everyone at work knew I had applied and now I would have to go back to work knowing I was rejected once again! My pride was taking a big hit!

I wish I could say I was totally at peace and that I just rested in His goodness. But no, it took me a bit to get there, but get there I did. I went home and cried on my husband’s shoulder as he tried to encourage me. I had a co-worker pray for me that I would not be defined by the lie the enemy was speaking but that I would stand on the Truth that I was valued to God and He had different purposes for me. As I rode my bike that afternoon I listened to a song by Jesus Culture titled “Rooftops”…

Here I am before You, falling in love and seeking Your truth
Knowing that Your perfect grace has brought me to this place
Because of You I freely live, my life to You, oh God, I give
So I stand before You, God
I lift my voice ’cause You set me free

All the good You’ve done for me, I lift up my hands for all to see
You’re the only one who brings me to my knees
To share this love across the earth, the beauty of Your holy worth
So I kneel before You, God
I lift my hands cause You set me free

So I shout out Your name
From the rooftops I proclaim
That I am Yours, I am Yours
All that I am
I place into Your loving hands
And I am Yours, I am Yours

I was set free at that moment knowing I really did believe that God is in control, that I could fully surrender all that I am into His loving arms and I was excited to move into the places that He has established for me before time began! I heard God speaking through His word,

 John 12:24

Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.

My pride was suffering a death blow, but Oh, how liberating to rest in Him! He is good all the time, All the time He is good! I am now looking for Him to open the door to a prayer trip to Brazil with Global Awakening. I am on a waiting list, but the other obstacles He quickly removed in only one day.

Chip Ingram says it well, “The sovereignty of God is that which separates the God of the Bible from all other religions, truth claims, or philosophies. When we say God is sovereign, we declare that by virtue of his creatorship over all life and reality, his all-knowing, all-powerful, and benevolent rule, that he is in fact the Lord of all lords, King of kings, and in absolute control of time and eternity. Nothing will come into my life today that he did not either allow or decree for my ultimate good.”

Single Acts of Obedience

This is a post from 2010 that I thought was worth moving here, to my new blog…

God is more concerned with our obedience than with our sacrifices. Often we feel justified by the “things” we are doing for God. But God very clearly says in His Word, “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold,to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”

I had an opportunity last week to obey, failed the test, but God was faithful to bring the exact opportunity around again to see if I would be true to my word and obey Him the second tome around!

I was running around the park, very early in the morning, there is rarely anyone out there at 5:30 in the morning. I passed a woman who was walking around the park the opposite way I was going.I clearly felt God tell me that I should stop and pray for her, that she had been struggling with her health in some way. I kept running and by the time I was part way around again, I told God yes I would pray for her. (This was after trying to come up with all the reasons why I shouldn’t!) So I watched for her but she did not come back around. I kept going , further than I had planned hoping to see her, but she had evidently gone home. I had seen this woman many times before over the last several years, so I told God, “when I am out here next week and I see her I will stop and pray for her.”

So yesterday morning,5:15,I am out running in the dark and here she comes. I ran on past her and then I began to come up with all the reasons why I did not need to pray for her.

“That was last week, her needs are probably not the same now.”

“She will be scared and think I am crazy.”

“She doesn’t really look sick”…

Then I remembered that I have been hearing God tell me, “single acts of obedience”. Don’t worry if it will have a grand impact on the other person, but I certainly will be changed as I learn to hear him and obey Him, no matter what.

As I came around the park again, here came this woman, walking toward me. I stopped, walked up to her and said, “Sorry to bother you but I saw you last week and felt that God wanted me to pray for you, would that be okay? She asked, “are you a Jehovah Witness?” “No, I am a Christian who just loves Jesus.” “Me ,too”, she replied. She asked if there was anything specific I wanted to pray for her, “no”, I just felt I should pray for you.” She said okay, and I held her hand and prayed for God to meet her, to bring His peace and healing upon her life and a few other things. She said her name was Kathy and she thanked me and we parted.

I continued to run and as I came around again, she came across the grass toward me. She said, “I work out on the highway and I have been hit three times. You may have heard something from God and you may have saved my life today.” I asked, “will you be out there today?” “Yes”, she replied. “I will Pray for you today, Kathy”, I told her.

Thank you, God for giving me that opportunity to be obedient and to be changed by it. Thank you for letting me be a blessing to Kathy yesterday. My pray is that I would learn to hear Him and obey, without hesitation. I do not want to continue to miss out on opportunities to obey, because of fear or anxiety or lack of faith!

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