Saturday, November 28, 2009

Parting Paths

I was alone when I got the message. 
Alone on Thanksgiving Day.
Have you ever been alone on a major holiday?
We celebrated our Thanksgiving meal on Friday so that Luke could be with us. 
Our New York families couldn't join us this year. 
So I was working in my kitchen Thursday when the news came about Brock. He was gone.
He passed away a few minutes after midnight, Thanksgiving Day. 
My heart broke. Tears began to roll and I thought they would never stop. 

I remember the first time he came to our house. I was carrying a laundry basket, heaping with clean clothing, out of the laundry room. Laundry for a family of seven can be a daunting task. He rose immediately, holding out his arms to take my burden. 

That is how I remember him. Hands outstretched ready to relieve another of their load.
I cannot begin to tell you all the ways this young man was there for us. 

You should have seen Caleb and Brock together. You would think them clowns. They had such
a great time, always happy in heart, always smiling. 

The boys spent a lot of time doing missions work together. Work and pleasure woven together, presenting a powerful message of the Gospel. A message of hope. 

A few months ago Caleb called us to ask us to pray as soon as he heard that Brock had a brain tumor. He had called Brock to ask him to be in his wedding, to stand up with him at the altar, be a groomsman.  Brock was sick. Very sick. Life threatening sick. It was not to be.

Things for Brock seemed to get worse. I called Caleb and asked him to come home for a visit. So glad that he did. It was the last time he saw Brock alive. 

Caleb held his hand without speaking, sitting for the longest time at Brock's side.Brock couldn't speak. Caleb didn't want to cry in front of Brock so he choked back sobs. Sobs prevented words. I could see the tears streaming down the side of his face. 

We returned to the car, Caleb broke, releasing a flood of tears. So did I.

Over the summer improvement in Brock's condition gave way for hope. It seemed that he was going to win the war against cancer! We all cheered him on. He said the words, "I love you" to his sweetheart. If excitement could change a destiny, he would still be with us. 

We can imagine Brock now, dancing all over heaven, his struggle left behind, his future inviting!
We are happy for him. Seriously, so happy for him.

But saying goodbye to a young man at 23 years of age is heart-wrenching regardless of how you try to look at it. It doesn't seem right. It doesn't seem fair. It leaves a huge question mark in your heart. I have added it to the list of things I want to ask the Lord about someday. Along with the time my cousins wife died in her early thirties, and their son died when he was 18. I am laying down my desire to know now. I fail to put it into a rational perspective every time I try. I just can't comprehend!

Would you join me in praying for Bobbi, Brock's mother; Sam, his dad; Sydney, his sister; and Nicolle, his fiance'; and countless others that this young man loved and was loved by. This will be a very hard weekend for so many. 

The funeral will be tomorrow. Caleb is flying home tonight. It will be a very short trip for him. He will fly back out Monday morning. Thank you for your prayers.

Two young men have parted paths, one will continue to tread the streets of earth, one the streets of heaven, until they meet again.

Many blessings, 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Missionaries Visit

Their little legs dangled over the edge of the pew, little black shoes hanging above the floor unable to reach. I sat between their little boy bodies, Luke snuggling in, resting his dark curly head against my arm. Caleb sitting a bit straighter was more attentive to his friend sitting across the isle than he was to the missionary. 

Immature legs that fail to reach the floor often become restless with a wiggle that seems to rise all the way up the boy. Oh, my! Let the show begin! I am between a lot of bottled energy. My prayer, "Please let this be good so that it will grab their attention." 

The missionary begins to speak, soft and low he tells stories about the African country filled with families he adores. I am not sure when their little boyness settled down and the missionary captured their attention for he had caught mine as well. 

We were caught up in the testimonies about building churches filled with brand new believers, training them, blessing them, feasting with them (with their delicacies, unappealing to us), traveling over the countryside of Eritrea, Africa spreading the gospel while encountering every kind of adventure imaginable. 

The missionary, a fisher of men, caught my son that morning, casting his line into the audience, taking up a net he pulled Caleb into a vision for his future. The missionary was unaware of his catch, oblivious to the mesmerized look on the little boy's face sitting on the second pew from the front. Caleb, at the age of ten, now knew exactly what he would do with his life. He would be a missionary like Mr. Falley.

Lunchtime, Pizza Hut,  reflections of the service were passed all around. It was Caleb's enthusiasm that kept the conversation about the missionary going.

"Did you hear him say ...?"

"I want to go there! I want to help him!" 

"I want to be a missionary someday!"

"Can we write Mr. Falley a letter and send him a picture of me so he'll know what I look like when I get there?" 

Evening shadows fall on our house on the corner of South Plummer Avenue and little man of ten pulls me away from the kitchen sink where dish suds are spilling onto my apron. 

"Momma, lets write to him now! Who, Caleb, who are you talking about?" 

(Five children and a spouse can cause you to forget your own name sometimes.) 

"Mr. Falley, mom! I have to tell him that I want to help him someday. I want to tell him that we will pray for him and his wife. Tell him that I will pray for many to know Jesus!"

I dry my hands, embrace my little man of vision and lead him to the card drawer. He thumbs through all the cards, his little tongue perched at the side of his lips as he carefully considers his choice. He finds the card that suits him. Together we sit fashioning a letter that would encourage the heart of anyone called to spread the gospel.

The letter would be the first of many we would send to Mr. Falley. Our hearts are knit as we continue to lift one another's families in prayer to this day. Caleb has found a very tender spot in the heart of Mr. Falley, the missionary who shared his faith, his testimony, his vision and calling at our church over thirteen years ago. 

Mr. Falley did not know, when he spotted the two little boys sitting on the second pew with their momma that one of them would find his calling through the message he would share. He was only being faithful to bring a word of testimony to the body of Christ. However, it was that day a torch was passed to the next generation and is being carried around the world in the hands of a little man grown tall, my son, Caleb, still to this day!

How great is our God!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Psalm 40

"Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; Let such as love Your salvation say continually, 'The Lord be magnified!' But I am poor and needy; Yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; Do not delay, O my God." Psalm 40:16-17 NKJV

"I am poor and needy ... Yet the Lord thinks upon me ..."

Pondering ...

imagining His thoughts ... 

imagining His thoughts toward me ...

He has set His mind upon me ...

I am poor and needy ... Yet ...

He is thinking ...

about me ... 

right now as I am writing about Him. 

Scotty read my mind yesterday. He knew I would want to go out to eat after church and where I would want to go. 

After service I said, "I have an idea ..."

Before I finished my sentence he replied, "You want to go ________ for lunch".

(me) "How did you know?" 

(he) "I read your mind." 

(me) "Okay, so when did I have that thought?"

(he) "Mmmmm, about the middle of the sermon."

Scotty was thinking about me.  Thinking about what I might like to do for lunch. And he was right on. 

The Lord is spending some time ... right now ... thinking about me.

And I am thinking about Him. 

Setting my mind on Him. 

Pondering His thoughts ...

Caught up in the wonder of it all. 

The Lord is spending some time ... right now ... thinking about you, too.

Are you thinking about Him?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mixed Feelings

My son is on his honeymoon.

She lingers at her son's side anticipating his final breath. 

Final words whispered, heart to heart, mom to son. 

She draws the cover around him, tucking in feisty edges.

She hovers, wiping his brow, giving through her pain, longing to wake up from the nightmare.

My son's best friend is going ahead. They walked hand and hand, pilgrims in their generation, proclaiming a message of hope. Hope tested. Hope soon confirmed. 

Friend of the bridegroom could not attend the wedding. Wasn't able to stand by his side joining the celebration. His fiance sat among the witnesses. 

My son is on his honeymoon .... Her son awaits his final breath ....


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Three Thank Yous

What stirs a heart to say 'thank you' ?

She worked at a very upscale salon in Long Island, New York and she offered to do my hair for the wedding. I was supposed to meet her at the salon at 8:00 a.m. the day of. It had been a long night. My feelings had been so hurt the night before. The hurt brought tears ... a lot of tears. Long night, puffy eyes, heavy heart. Memories of my dad came with the dawn and a longing ache for him joined the hurtful pain from the night before.  Buckets  of tears poured from my eyes. I wanted him to be at the wedding. He would be so proud.

I entered the salon wrapped in heaviness, eyes swollen, with a forced smile. She assigned me to a chair and began to do my hair. We didn't talk much. I rested while she pampered me. Two hours passed, I rose to leave and she asked if I wanted my make up done as well. I nodded. 

She directed me to Michelle who began her magic. She rummaged her bag of tricks, swept her brush across her artist palate, began to stroke my face applying a mask hiding sorrow beneath shadows of color.

It was just what I needed. It was a gift. She would not let me pay the price. It was a gift, from her, from the Lord. He knew. He knew. 

I wrote "Thank You" on my whiteboard (magnetically held to my fridge) at home so that I would not forget to thank her. 

I wrote a note to her Sunday, two days ago, complete with photos from the wedding.

Thank you.

What stirs a heart to say 'thank you'?

I wrote about Lydia on my last post. She had written a special note to me to tell me thank you. 

Yesterday a friend called me during her prayer time to thank me for being me. Thankfulness was overflowing her prayers and she decided to call and let me know that she had mentioned my name when listing her reasons for gratefulness.

This morning Scotty rose early. A while later I stumbled into the family room, eyes half open to find him at the computer. He was typing a letter that began, "Cheri, thank you ........" The sweetest words followed, precious words that I will keep in my heart and treasure. 

Three days in a row 'thank yous' have come. 

Their thank yous have stirred my heart to say 'thank you' to the One from whom all blessings flow. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness. The Lord has put such good people in my life. He has poured, poured, and poured good things into my life. He has given me above and beyond what I could ever ask or think. Thank you, Lord.

'Thank You' remains scribbled across the top of my whiteboard as if it were the title for my week. Perhaps it should be the title of my life. 

Now I would like to say that I am thankful for you,  you the one who is reading this post. You are on my list of reasons to be grateful this morning. Thank you for being you in my life. Today I will remember to tell the Lord how special you are to me!

"Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamation of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart." Philippians 1:1-2 The Message

Gratefully yours,

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Eyes of the Younger

She put the card in my lap as I sat visiting with her big sister. I peered through the envelope's veneer spying tiny little words forming long sentences on the card beneath. I longed to see the message. Had I hurt her feelings? Was she thanking me for something? Or was it just, "I am thinking of you" kind of card?

Sunday lunch had ended and the room was filled with the buzz of cheerful chatter. Everyone was involved in conversation, some listening, some voicing their opinions, others holding their peace until given the floor. It was truly fellowship at its finest! 

Rachel (big sister) had been on a mission trip to India. Her grandma and I looked over the picture book she had made as she shared stories ... life changing stories ... the kind that make you cry. I am still reflecting on it. Her testimony left an imprint on my heart and I am still tracing it's borders with my finger. What if I had been with her? Could I have handled it as well as she? Echos of these thoughts continue to challenge me. 

Afternoon was waning as it beckoned the evening. Time to head for home.

Goodbye kisses were given all around. 

Scotty and I head for the truck, I with unopened card still in my hand. 

I rip the seal before we exit the long driveway. 

Lydia is twelve. Her card tells me that she has been watching my life. She feels that I am one who has been an example. She mentions Proverbs 31 and quotes a verse she feels describes me. I read the words to Scotty. He smiles. 

I am humbled and quiet the rest of the drive home. This sweet, thoughtful card has reawakened my responsibility to be a good example for those who are following. There are those who are learning from my walk with Jesus, making decisions based on my example, for good or for bad.

I will keep the little card that has made a big impact on my heart and refer back to it from time to time. There are seasons when its message will be encouragement to help me persevere. There are seasons, like the one I am in now, when its message will humble me, bringing me to my knees, pleading for grace to walk this life out, light shining, grace speaking, love giving, hope offering, and forgiveness mending life. I will need her words again to remind me.

This morning, I find a place to bow, and wait for the Lord to make her words true in me for today. The eyes of the younger are watching, I pray that they will see Jesus!