1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ❤
1 Corinthians 13:13 “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” ❤
Oh what was intended as a time killer and a poor attempt at humor has changed to something so much more serious. As my husband has had a turn in his health and ability to get around, moving furniture has now become something closer to making the house safer . The big dining room table with the glass top must be sold and the tiny two person dinette table will sit in the dining room in it’s place. The recliner in what I called my “Mom’s den” will come back into the “guest bedroom” as the treadmill now fills that area. Better he get his strength back there than having to step down into the garage, deal with boxes and the clutter that comes with a garage that is not as well as the heat and stuffiness of no air conditioning.
Things have taken a far more serious turn as I listen to him breathe, make sure he is breathing. Afraid to go to bed, afraid he will wake up and decide to get up and fall yet again. The first fall meant an ambulance and a trip to the hospital that turned into a nightmarish odyssey into a world of understaffing with a never ending torrent of patients with all manner of needs streaming through door to the point there was no where to even stand and not be in the way. He was kind of shoved into the corner of a one patient room while the second patient who was dying of lung cancer had a panic stricken episode of being unable to breathe which brought on a heart attack. After hours and hours of working with that poor man, the nurses were able to move him to ICU, but forgot to give my husband food or water or start his IV (his fall was the result of severe dehydration). He became so weak he was unable to pull himself up in the bed or turn on one side.
The following day, as his body began to recover from a lack of fluids his reason for dehydration kicked in, IBS. Well, that was messy. A well meaning CNA gave him one of those rolling thrones, giving him the feeling he could get out of bed, in his cramped corner while he was hooked to leads for heart, blood pressure, pulse, IV, just a web of tubes and lines. He had his second fall and this time laid open his forehead and damaged his neck and shoulder. He would up with 17 stitches, two black eyes, a bruised cheek and a lot of pain. He was transferred to two more room on two different floors and was sent home Sunday. Monday he fell again, I was asleep. At least it was on carpet with carpet over it, good and soft.
So now it is no longer how to move the hutch,which is moved and looks so good, or move the desk, which is in it’s new location so I can be away and still hear everything his does, every breath he takes, it is about keeping him safe.
You know, you never know what life will hand you next. I had so loved that glass table, now I see it as a threat. The oversized coffee table that opened up to store the grands toys, another impediment to his safety. Both go, neither to be missed.
I have to get some sleep, but will he fall yet again? Will he aspirate his gatorade as he did earlier?
The lesson is be ready. Life gives us wonderful things and we need to enjoy them, it can also hand us challenges, we must take them all in stride. I am not doing the in stride part too well right now.
We are an odd lot. We hear God’s Word and respond to it saying we want to follow it; we ‘repent’ of our sins. We may be in a small group of two or more, or we may be alone, on our knees but with that final “Amen” we close our Bible, our daily devotional, wipe our face, blow our nose, and continue on with life as if nothing had happened. Sometimes we will remark to a friend, “I don’t know, Nancy, I pray and pray but I feel like they don’t get any higher than the ceiling.” Even if we try to figure out why, we don’t always recognize the reason or if we do, we dismiss is because it is something we do not want to face, give up, walk away from. I battle with such sin all the time. If it is, and it always is, doing something our way rather than His way, we are out of His will and then we are in sin. It is not intentional, at least until we recognize the behavior and refuse to change.
We often look at purging this behavior or thinking pattern as “giving it up” which implies a loss; we fail to recognize what we will gain in a closer walk with Jesus and allowing Him to bless us. . When you “give up” something to draw closer to God, you are giving nothing up; you are making a choice, you are choosing God.
“13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”
The Book of Acts states one should not present him/her members (body and all its parts) as instruments for sin (unrighteousness). That means we need to deal with the sin in our life first. When we cast off the weight, the guilt, the loss of communion with the Christ, the Son of God, the Maker of the Universe that came with that sinful act, He can and will bless us in so many wonderful ways.
This is where I start to get excited and my serious language goes right out the window. When we exchange our rebelliousness, our stubbornness for obedience to His will for us we receive a peace that truly surpasses all understanding. We receive a joy that cannot be taken away by the most challenging of life events.
You see, God, Jesus, so loves you and me. He wants to bless us, but we have to put ourselves in a position where we can receive that gift. He never tires of blessing us, he never tires of forgiving us for with each baby step we take, He shows us yet another area where we need to submit to Him.
Submission. Even as adults we bridle at the word. Our jaws set, our backs become stiff, we are so like Frank Sinatra’s song; “My Way.” Our desire to do it “our way” is what leads us to that discussion in the beginning of this article. It is such a hard, hard thing to do. Just watch your teenager or remember how they were. It was a daily fight, was it not? Yet we act that same exact way when Jesus shows us His will.
Do this with me. Close your eyes and imagine you are lying in soft grass, the singing of the birds in the nearby trees and the gentle gurgling of the brook that runs with clean, cool water lull you to relax. Your shoulders that were so tight start to loosen, your neck … oh that feels so good. Now little by little the muscles in your lower back relax. That pain you had been dealing with? That’s the one, right … there; it’s gone. The scents of the flowers growing near by, the gentle bird calls, the babbling of the brook with an occasional splash as a rainbow trout leaps out of the water have so drawn you in that pain and discomfort you have come to accept as normal are gone! Now your thighs relax, your knees (oh and how they have ached). even the calves of your legs, your ankles, your toes. You wiggle your toes in that soft grass, loving the feel of it against your bare feet. Keeping your eyes closed you stretch out your arms and feel nature rejuvenate your spirit. You never want to leave this heavenly place.
Something is nearby, not threatening, not dangerous, just there. You slowly open your eyes and see the most beautiful blue sky you have ever seen; you turn your head and there, there is a deer! You lay quietly but she does not seem afraid. The both of you are at peace and she moves closer, closer yet. Her nose bumps your head and you feel a thrill as she languidly investigates your hair, your face, and then moves a few steps over to drink from that cool, clean water. You lie there never ever wanting to leave. This, this is your place beside still waters. This is the peace you have always sought. This is the gift of submission to Jesus.
What I described is my special place, I get to visit there so seldom because I am so busy doing things my way rather than God’s way. Oh what fools we are!
Do you want that special place? Determine to submit. Make Psalm 19 your matra. Memorize it, tape it to your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, your door. Pray it, drop to your knees and pray it, remember it. Submission is not a bad thing, not when it comes to Jesus Christ. Practice it, let Him bless you.
Not it is up to you …
1-2 Job, you challenged Almighty God;
will you give up now, or will you answer?
Those boys! Her foot pressed ever harder on the accelerator while her brow furrowed in anger and frustration. Tears ran down her cheeks while her mouth was set in a firm grimace. How could they? She had worked so hard to make everything perfect! The leg of lamb, garlic smashed potatoes, asparagus garden salad would have been perfect. They were her favorite dish; dessert was homemade lemon meringue pie; perfectly browned. She set the table as beautifully as her mother had taught her and planned everything for a quick and easy clean-up so she could enjoy the day with her family. It was to have been, should have been HER DAY! Mother’s Day!
She stood on the brakes and pulled off the road as she realized her rage could make a bad situation worse. “Get ahold of yourself, Kathy.” She scolded, and then allowed herself to collapse into the steering wheel in a cascade of tears.
She was furious, scared, angry, disappointed, horrified, and hurt and so much more all at once. She did not know how to react first. Her son, her youngest, got himself arrested Saturday night. ARRESTED! Thrown in jail on a marijuana charge! His brother had come over to tell his parents.
She and Frank had been sitting in the living room, watching their favorite Saturday night show when their older son had burst in and sat down on the couch, clearly upset.
“Mom, Dad, I have to tell you something.” JR started.
“What’s wrong, Bud?” Dad sat up straight in his recliner. “What’s happened?”
“It’s Jackson. Jack has a problem. Well, more than a problem, um, he’s in trouble.” J.R. managed to get out.
He had Mom’s full attention. “What is the matter with Jackson? Is he hurt?”
“No, Mom, he’s, he’s, Jackson was arrested and is in jail! But if we go down we can bail him out, I called and checked. We can make it all right. He had a roach, oh sorry, marijuana…”
“I know what a ‘roach’ is, J.R.” Mom said tersely. “I thought he was at work.”
“Well, yeah, he was, he was delivering a pizza and lit one for the drive, but then he ran a red light and got pulled over,” Frank explained. “We just need to pay his bail, and he can get out. His bond is six hundred dollars so we can bail him out for sixty dollars and get him home!”
She had sat there in disbelief. Drugs. Jail. Bond.
Mom reached out her hand as only she could. “Give me the phone.” She commanded. She dialed the non-emergency number for the sheriff’s department and asked for the jail, gave the man her son’s name and asked if he was there.
“Yes ma’am, “responded a bored jailer. “If you come down to the jail you can bail him out….”
She cut the jailer off, “Can you give him a message for me? Can you tell him to enjoy his night and he can figure out how to get home because no one will come? He buttered his bread, and now he can sleep in it. It is his mess.” Her voice was tight the fury barely under control.
“Yes Ma’am, I’ll be happy to give him the message!”
She thanked the jailer, got off the phone and pointed at J.R. “Don’t you dare bail him out! He can figure his way home, do you hear me?”
“Now, Babe, don’t you think that is a bit harsh?” Frank, Sr. suggested. “After all, it’s not like he robbed a bank or killed someone. J.R. and I can go down to the jail in the morning…..”
“I’m going to bed.” She said and walked out of the room, took her shower, her sleeping pill and climbed into bed in a fury of motion. She had suspected both sons were smoking pot, and it angered and terrified her. She said one simple prayer that in its own strange way would be answered the next day. “God, get me through this!”
Mother’s Day dawned, she got up, went to church, left through the back door so no one would have the chance to talk to her, ask where Jackson was, wish her Happy Mother’s Day. At home, she went through the motions of preparing the Mother’s Day meal, but her heart was no longer in it. About noon, J.R. walked in and behind him was an exhausted and chastened Jackson with a bouquet of flowers.
“Now Mom, I didn’t bail him out, he was released on his own recognizance. I just couldn’t leave him to out there; the jail is in the middle of nowhere. Look, he has flowers for you; you know how you love flowers.”
Mom looked over at Jackson; ice and pain were in her eyes. “I don’t want those. I don’t care what you do with them. “
Jackson reacted as if his mom had struck him. Never had he expected this type of response from his mother. She was always the one who had fought for him in high school, always the one who spent the extra time to get him to do the homework he tried to hide from her; she had championed him from his earliest memories. She had always seemed to understand. Other kids had wanted a Mom like he had. He got his answer quickly.
“How could you? Everything I have done for you and you repay me with, with this? Arrested? Drugs? You were brought up in the church! You were taught right from wrong! Now you do this? Get out of my sight!” Mom was sobbing.
Jackson tripped over a chair as he backed up, struck a second time by the physical blow of her words. “Mom, I’m sorry,” was all he could say.
Almost hysterical, she grabbed her keys, stormed out of the house, jumped into the car, and taken off. We join her as she drove maniacally into an undeveloped area where she knew she would not have to watch for people or dogs.
As she sat, sobbing into her steering wheel, beating it with her fist there was a knock on her window. She looked up, and a sheriff’s deputy parked behind her, light’s flashing. Oh great, they always show up when you don’t need them. She wiped her face with her hands and lowered the window. “Am I doing something wrong, Officer?” she asked. She had pulled over in a deserted area, so she knew she was not disturbing anyone.
“No ma’am.” He answered carefully. “May I see your driver’s license and registration?”
“Oh sure, sure,” she answered; wishing she had not quit smoking as now would be a very good time for a cigarette.
He studied them for a moment and made some notes, then handed them back. “We got a call from a very concerned family about you, ma’am. I am glad I found you in one piece. I need to call this in that you are okay. Can your family come out and talk to you? They are pretty upset.”
“THEY are upset? THEY!”
“Your son told me about what he did. You know, he isn’t the first kid to get into trouble. As bad as you feel right now, I can guarantee you he is in worse shape.”
“Oh yeah, I bet.” She answered, bitterly.
“Jackson said you go to church, over at Freedom, right? My wife and I just started going there. Good Pastor.”
“Yes, I go to Freedom. Not that it did my family any good. What did I do wrong? What didn’t I do right?”
“You were fine, I am sure. Kids are kids, Kathy; may I call you Kathy?”
“Sure, that’s my name.” she answered with a ghost of a smile.
“I don’t want to preach, I’m a cop, not a preacher, but something that struck me was something that Jesus said. He said in Matthew that we should forgive those who sin against us seventy times seven times. I think that means every time. What do you think, Kathy? Did Jackson sin against God or you? “
“You are right there, but his sin against God is between him, and God and his sin against the State of Florida is between him and the State of Florida, right? So that leaves just him and you.”
Kathy had no words; she just stared at the deputy wondering at the wisdom he had shared.
“Now I don’t mean to overstep here, but my guess is you have had to say you were sorry a few times. Now your son wants to tell you in the worst way how sorry he is. Jesus said seventy times seven…. Looks to me like you have a pretty simple decision to make, whether or not to show him, Jesus.”
Kathy stared at the officer as the truth entered her heart. It was true. Jesus had already forgiven Jackson. She knew she had to, not only because of Jesus teaching but because of her love of all of her family. She needed to forgive all of them as badly as they; especially Jackson needed to hear her forgive him.
Kathy looked over at the Sheriff’s Deputy; “Deputy … D’Angelo? Are you a deputy sheriff or an angel here from God? I want to thank you. You helped me to realize something I needed to remember. Thank you, and God Bless you.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” Deputy D’Angelo smiled. “Now I really have to go, seems there’s a problem that needs handling. You be safe now.” He climbed into his patrol car, turned around, and well, where did he go? Kathy shook her head, wondered if she had just had a conversation with an angel, there was no trace a police car had ever been there.
Kathy put her car in gear, turned around, and drove home. She walked in the door and Frank Sr. and Jr. and Jackson looked up at her.
“Mom…” Jackson started. That “Mom” hand stopped him.
“I need to say something to all of you. I let this get out of perspective and punished all of you for Jackson’s mistake. Dear, I should have let you finish what you were trying to tell me last night, but I was too angry. J.R., you did the right thing by getting your brother when he was released this morning. Jackson, thank you for bringing me flowers, it was very thoughtful. I know you never meant to spoil Mother’s Day, I know you made a bad choice that you will have to deal with. I am sorry I was so harsh to you, and I need to ask that you forgive me, that all of you forgive me for behaving so badly.”
Jackson was up and had his mother in a bear hug. “I am so sorry Mom, so sorry, forgive you? Please forgive me, I was so stupid….”
J.R. was there to giving his lop-sided grin. “It’s okay Mom, no harm done.”
Frank Sr. sighed with relief. “Jackson, where are those flowers you got for your mother, let’s get them in some water. J.R.; let’s get the water on for the asparagus. I don’t know about the rest of you but I am hungry!”
“Oh, one other thing, I was surprised the police were out looking for me, I didn’t think they did stuff like that.” Mom commented.
The three men looked at each other confused.
“Babe, we never called the police, why would you think we did?” Frank asked.
“J.R., you know the deputies around here,” Mom said. “Do you know of Deputy D’Angelo?”
“Uh, no, or he’s new, but there is no D’Angelo that I know of,” J.R. answered. “Why?”
Mom smiled, she remembered that angry statement she had made as an excuse for her evening prayer. “My prayer last night was answered in an unusual way. Now let’s get this meal going so I can love on my family. Where are Joe and Irene? Jackson, will you say blessing today with a special thank you for blessings received?”
Jackson gave his huge smile and gave Mom another hug.
The doorbell rang, and Joe, Mom’s eldest son, and his wife, Irene were there.
“Come in! You’re just in time for dinner!” Frank said as they came in. “We have had quite a time here.”
“Talk later, food now!” Jackson said.
Everyone sat down, Jackson prayed, and Mom watched her family and realized what a perfect day it was, because of God’s answer to prayer.
Part of this story is autobiographical. Jackson (not his real name) continued to have problems with drugs and ‘graduated’ into cocaine. I only wish I had had that angel when “Jackson” was arrested for possession of under 20 grams of pot and possession of paraphernalia. The next ten years were to be the most challenging and frustrating Frank and I had ever faced as we struggled to get our son out of the drug scene.
The following year, on Mother’s Day Eve, sheriff’s deputies showed up at the house to arrest Jackson on a violation of probation from that original drug charge. I asked them if they knew what Sunday was. They had forgotten and were somewhat sheepish as they confessed they had forgotten to get cards and flowers for their own moms and wives. I asked if I guaranteed Jackson would be waiting for them Monday morning, would they let me have him for Mother’s Day. They agreed. Jackson was taken into custody that Monday morning. He called me at work to tell me they were there. I warned him to be cooperative; his voice shook with nerves and shame. That will be another story.
What I can tell you is this. Love your children where they are. Don’t sugar coat, don’t try to protect them from consequences of their actions, but don’t turn them out. Tough love is not kicking them to the curb. Tough love is loving them through earned consequences and being there to try to provide guidance, reassurance, and most importantly, unconditional love. They need you, more than you know and more than they will admit. It was love that brought Jackson back. Love from God and from his family who never gave up on him.
Verses referred to:
21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
13 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.
Every day we have so many things to do and so many tasks and goals to complete that it can be difficult to be mindful, to be aware of what we are doing and how we are doing it, to be present and awake, to attend to our own existence, to let ourselves be enveloped by the here, by the now, by the moment we are living in, which is the most valuable thing we can ever have. But being mindful is essential to reaching the depths of who we are.
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This is a piece I submitted in a writing contest. I would truly appreciate some critical feedback so I can improve my writing. Promise, I won’t get mad. In this setting, I did expand some description in the story, but not much. Thanks.
8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness;
it will be for those who walk on that Way.
The unclean will not journey on it;
wicked fools will not go about on it.
9 No lion will be there,
nor any ravenous beast;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,
10 and those the Lord has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
This is serious food for thought and reason to be humble, we need to live, learn, appreciate, take it all is like a connoisseur of fine wine, then share only the very best …
Many people want to become authors these days, to be published and make a living writing fiction. And many of them work hard on their books. Yet only relatively few writers bloom into authors in the true sense of the word — dedication doesn’t guarantee success. I sometimes wonder what makes the difference between those who work hard and succeed and those who work hard and don’t.
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