Five Minute Friday: Loud

GO:

My Children
The Past
My Thoughts
Deadlines
Discouragement
Time
Ideas
Technology
My desire to be more
Things that I have yet to do
Words that need to be said
My Insecurities
My Tears
The Monster Within

These are the things that are screaming at me right now, in this moment, making me want to give up… run away… sit with my back against a corner.

Seasons like this have me asking God to speak louder than a whisper.

STOP

Five Minute Friday: Brave

GO

The word brave can mean many things to many people.

It’s brave for a person to visit a foreign country on a mission trip and the decide to live there.
It’s also brave to try drugs or sleep around or any other act of self inflicted harm.

The very meaning of the word is; ready to face and endure danger or pain.

To me, today, Brave = Faith.

It means sharing a story, even if it changes your opinion of me
It means being uncomfortable
It means loving the unlovely
Forgiving the unforgivable
Reaching the unreached
Believing the impossible
Sacrificing my wants over your needs

It means living from the inside out, heart and soul exposed, offering hope to the hopeless with eyes fixed on Jesus.

STOP

What Matters Now?

Image

Luca Hill Cemetery 1816

My grandfather passed away when I was 7 yrs. old. That is the first memory that I have of losing someone close to me. I remember where I was sitting when my dad called to tell my mom of his passing. I don’t remember anything after that. The details of the funeral, my father’s immediate state of mind, my grandmother’s period of mourning…nothing.

From that time on, my dad has taken me to the old graveyard in a small town in Henry County, Alabama. There is a path leading straight through the middle and we would walk down the path, my hand in his, with a silence that was an unspoken understanding of reverence.

If I noticed a fresh mound of dirt I would say, “Who was that, Daddy?”
Dad would always know who it was and be able to share a brief history about them.

Before arriving at the plot where my grandfather was laid to rest, my dad would say in a loud voice while lifting his arms to the sky, “What matters now?!”

He would then turn and face the other direction while again exclaiming, “What matters now?!”

He then would turn to me and say, “My Joy, did you hear anything?”

“No, sir.” was my response.

“Do you know why?” he would ask.

“…Well…yes dad. They’re all dead.” was my reply.

What he would say next is what has been burned into my memory. And that was this…

“Right! They are all dead. What lay beneath the ground is rot and decay. What do you think matters to them now?”

“Well, nothin’… I guess?…”

“Nothing! Not their job, car, house, salary, weight, bank account balance, wardrobe… all of that is left behind for someone else to worry about. They’ve gone on to see about it. (This is a southern expression for someone’s passing.) What matters is the time before physical death. What you do with your life, resources, time... and where you put your faith. How you prepare for eternity. For these folks, it’s too late to plan.”

He would then take my little hand in his big hand as we walked to my grandfather’s headstone and removed the weeds or any ant beds that had taken up residence.

After that we would walk across the path to the headstone of a 13 yr. old girl who had died from leukemia. There were always flowers and the area was well maintained. Probably by her mother.

I would read the inscription out loud, but in a whisper, as I ran my hand across the marble, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7.”

“Dad, she was prepared for eternity, wasn’t she?”

“Yes, Angel. She was.”

As I grew older and learned what stress felt like, dad would remind me of our walks through the cemetery. He would reiterate that whatever was happening would pass and as time went by, it wouldn’t have as much power as it seemingly had in the moment.

“Maybe you should take a walk through the cemetery?” he would say.

Though my hand was no longer securely in his, I would find a cemetery, walk somewhere close to the middle and say as loudly as I could, sometimes with tears, “WHAT MATTERS NOW?!” The only thing heard would be the echo of my own voice.

I would then answer my own question, “Nothing.”

Have you ever walked through a cemetery while talking to the tombstones? Maybe you should try it. You just might find that it is capable of bringing things into perspective that nothing else can.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.”

Eternity

It’s something about the early morning that has always felt very sacred to me.

I don’t know if it’s the stillness or the anticipation of the dawn?

I know that the Father feels closer…more attentive. Or maybe I am more attentive?

This morning, I am preparing to attend a memorial service for Hallie Lynn Green.

Her physical life ended on this earth a little more than 4 days after her birth.

However, her legacy will live on.

It’s amazing to think that her life has affected so many people. People who don’t know Chris and Katie and will probably never meet them.

We will all be wearing green bracelets that have the verse from Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knewyou, before you were born I set you apart…” What a powerful verse!

When I read it, I think of the picture that Katie posted of Hallie’s hands while still in the womb. I love this picture. She is a masterpiece.

Throughout the last week, while reflecting on the happenings of this Christmas season and looking ahead to attending the memorial service celebrating this precious life, my mind continually went back to Katie.

Divinity by Sid Dickens

Katie made the ultimate sacrifice.

Katie made the decision, knowing that this pregnancy would bring with it a multitude of uncertainties, to carry Hallie for as long as God would hold her in the womb, with the expectation of having only a few moments with her, if any.

Katie is the one who faced strangers with a smile when they asked about her growing belly and told them of her little Christmas baby.

Katie honored God by trusting Him with the outcome of her obedience.

What incredible faith! She is such an inspiration to me and so many others.

So today, as we celebrate the life of this precious one, we also celebrate her mother, Katie, who has more strength, more faith, more trust and hope, than anyone I have ever known. And without whom, there would have been no Hallie.

Sid Dickens Eternity Memory Block

Please join me in praying that God will draw near to this family today and everyday, as they rejoice that Hallie has eternal security. She is now able to see and hear and her spiritual body is perfect.

Though this cannot lessen the pain of the physical separation, it allows them to look to the future with hope, confident that they will see their baby girl again in Heaven.

I woke up this morning with John 16:33 on my mind. Jesus was talking to His disciples when He said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” 

Today, I bask in the light of the One who has defeated death and conquered the grave. To Him be the glory forever and ever.