Friday, March 20, 2009

Still a Daddy's Girl

I am at the time of year of my dad's journey home. I can't believe it has been almost a year. I know many of you out there have experienced the death of a parent and understand. I had no idea that there would be such a hole in my heart. I always thought that I'd be fine with it....after all I have been a hospice nurse and walked this path with others many times. I never planned on being my dad's hospice nurse though. While I wouldn't trade those last hours of my dad's life for any amount of money, they are the hours that haunt me. What could I have done differently? How could I have made him more comfortable?

There is just something inside you that feels lost with the death of a parent...Suddenly facing the world without one of your main of your first and most powerful influences. Your sense of direction... of stability... thrown off kilter. Your earthly shelter from life's storms...your favorite childhood tree now oddly fallen to the ground.

As we near Easter, I am reminded of the most special Easter of my life...last Easter when my dad made his final trip to my house. We got the CT results March 3rd and knew he didn't have long. He wanted to make one more journey, one more visit to see our new house before he died. God granted us such a gift by allowing him to feel so well that he almost didn't believe he even had cancer. He enjoyed food and visiting and talking...he sat on our back deck and told stories about his life I've never heard. Easter Sunday was a beautiful, peaceful day full of love, laughter, and memories.

A few mornings later he woke up and said that something had changed and he had to go home to die and that is what he did...surrounded by his girls...something he told us meant so much to him just a day or so before he died.

Dad told us "no snotting" when he was life to the fullest and enjoy all God's gifts, so this is what I will try to focus on.

I pray that you my friends can just bear with me as I walk through this season. I will need your love and your laughter. A few years ago I would have been too proud to ask for this, to allow this "weakness" to show, to allow myself to be vulnerable, to allow an opportunity for I realize more than ever that life is short-a mere mist- and that some things just don't matter as much as they once did. What matters is our relationships with God, our families, and friends.

I am not an island (it has taken years for this lesson). I need each of you in my life. Thank you for the love you give me.


Gethsemane was not a tragedy, and neither are our Gethsemanes. This does not do away with the wounds of affliction in this life, but it is encouraging to see that behind human tragedy stands the benevolent and wise purpose of the Lord of human history. Life may be dark at times, tragedy may come, and at times the whole world may seem to be falling apart. The wheel may appear ready to crush us. But this is not the end. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love the him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28), even in Gethsemane.
from Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross-R. Kent Hughes

Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross

The book I am using for Easter Devotionals is Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross by Nancy Gutherie. B suggested it on her blog after reading a Christmas devotional by the same author. It is very good and worth the time and money.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Cup

"And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, 'My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.'" Matthew 26:39

This is what bearing our sins means to him-utter distress of soul as he confronts total abandonment and absolute wrath from his Father on the cross, a distress and an abandonment and a rejection we cannot begin to grasp.

As we watch Jesus pray in agony in Gethsemane, he has every right to turn his tearful eyes toward you and me and shout, "This is your cup. You're responsible for this. It's your sin! You drink it." This cup should rightfully be thrust into my hand and yours.

Instead Jesus takes it that from the cross he can look down at you and me, whisper our names and say, "I drain this cup for you-for you who have lived in defiance of me, who have hated me, who have opposed me. I drink it all...for you."

from Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross-C.J. Mahaney

Monday, March 16, 2009

He set his face...Easter Devotion

I didn't want to ruin the Easter devotional book for B, so I haven't posted anything from it yet. I see she has started reading hers so now I will post some of my favorite passages.

"When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem."
Luke 9:51

When Jesus set his face to go to Jerusalem, he set his face to die...Jesus' journey to Jerusalem is our journey, and if he set his face to go there and die, we must set our face to die with him.

When Jesus set his face to walk the Calvary road, he was not merely taking our place; he was setting our pattern. He is substitute and pacesetter. If we seek to secure our life through returning evil for evil or surrounding ourselves with luxury in the face of human need, we will lose our life. We can save our life only if we follow Christ on the Calvary road.
(from Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross-John Piper)

Is your face set?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Book Review-Adam Bede

Title: Adam Bede by George Eliot
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Pages: 539

This was Mary Evans' first published novel under the pseudonym George Eliot. An amazing first novel I might add. She has an uncanny ability to paint beautiful pictures with her words as she brings characters to life on the pages. The story is packed with morality and religion, which doesn't sound very exciting, but she somehow makes the book difficult to put down. The only thing that slowed be down was the dialect, but I can't fault her for that. At the time the book was written in 1859, there weren't many novels that used this technique, which made the novel even more groundbreaking.

The story centers around Adam Bede, the hard working moral carpenter; Arthur Donnithorne, the Squire's grandson who will inherit all of his holdings; Hetty Sorrel, beautiful but vain and immature; and Dinah Morris, the Methodist minister who is full of grace and love for others. These four are placed in the center of many other characters in a small country community.

Some of my favorite lines (and there were many):

"...throwing a question over his shoulder as if he meant to run away from the answer...."

" is too painful to think that she is woman, with a woman's destiny before her - a woman spinning in young ignorance a light web of folly and vain hopes which may one day close round her and press upon her, a rancorous poisoned garment, changing all at once her fluttering, trivial butterfly sensations into a life of deep human anguish."

"...he was like a cock who thought the sun had risen to hear him crow."

"There again you partly deceive yourself, Adam. There is no sort of wrong deed of which a man can bear the punishment alone: you can't isolate yourself, and say that the evil which is in you shall not spread. Men's lives are as thoroughly blended with each other as the air they breathe: evil spreads as necessarily as disease."

Moral dilemmas, love, family, religion, forgiveness, grace...The story is not sugar coated with happiness and wonderful endings. It is a very real picture of choices and the consequences of those choices which ripple out and engulf so many others.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Altered Reality

The mind is a powerful thing. How is it that we can convince ourselves that something is reality when in reality, it isn't reality? Hmmm...mind boggling I know.

It starts simply enough. We think an abnormal thought or perform an abnormal action once, then well, might as well do it again, until it gets easier and easier...until it becomes our normal. It becomes our reality. It becomes our mind's home.

I know normal is relative and I'm not talking about relative things here. I'm talking about the power of the mind to convince ourselves that certain things are ok when they are not. A very simple example that pops in my mind is that of someone who brushes their hair with a toothbrush because they are running late and they can't find their hairbrush. Ok , bizarre, but work with me. The day gets away from them and they forget all about finding the hairbrush, there are other things more important after all, so the next morning they find themselves in the same situation.

It happens every day. We get past the tough spot and forget about it until we find ourselves in the same tough spot again. So, once again short on time in the morning, it is easier to use the spare toothbrush to brush our hair than to have to put forth effort to do any thing other than we are doing.

At what point does this become our norm? Something obviously not normal, yet it has now become somewhat of a routine for our minds. Why bother with the difficult task of searching for a hairbrush? Who needs it? It is just more comfortable to maintain our current routine than to try to force our minds to see the reality of the problem...easier than searching through the mounds of clutter that fills our mind's home.

I am at fault of this as well. My mind runs to negative thoughts that surround me like a blanket on a cold day....negative actions that caress my skin like a warm ocean breeze. To have to tell my mind to stop a thought process when it feels so good to give in. To stop acting a certain way because it takes more energy to stop the action instead of just coasting along. Who needs it? Life is hard enough.

It is just easier than trying to fight the nature our sinful minds are bent towards. It takes time and energy to search for our takes time and energy to fight our tendencies of thoughts and actions that come very naturally to us. It is easier to be the wounded one, the wronged one, the hurting one, the addicted one, than to be the God-like one. We are born with sinful natures. Makes sense.

I pray that God reveals to me the areas of my life that have become an altered reality...then give me the strength to make these areas real, Godly real, not worldly real, painful or not.

What is your altered reality?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's going like this...

Sweet tart jelly beans for breakfast...super dark chocolate cake for supper. Yep, it's that kind of week.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Great Reconciler

Last night when I was reading, the final sentence of Chapter 4 was a real soul stopper. Such a soul stopper that I had to go back to it this morning.

The chapter opened with the main character, Adam, being very angry at his father, an alcoholic who has failed to complete a promised job. His mother assures him that his father has been a good husband and father, but that the drink has just gotten the better of him. To no avail she begs him to not be so angry with his dad. Adam did not heed her words, refused to eat his dinner as he prepared to stay up all night completing the wood work his father left undone. In contrast the younger brother, Seth, speaks lovingly to his mom, does not feel or speak harshly of his dad, eats the dinner she prepared, and tries to help an angry Adam who refuses all help.

The chapter ends with a tragic death of the father...the body is found by Adam and his younger brother Seth.

He ran back to Seth, and the two sons lifted the sad burthen in heartstricken silence. The wide-open glazed eyes were grey, like Seth's, and had once looked with mild pride on the boys before whom Thias had lived to hang his head in shame. Seth's chief feeling was awe and distress at this sudden snatching away of his father's soul; but Adam's mind rushed back over the past in a flood of relenting and pity. When death, the great Reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity.

May we allow God to live in our hearts so fully that there is not room for severity.