Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grandma...




    Grandma went to heaven on Tuesday. I was asked to write something to celebrate her life. Since I have often seen God in my Grandma I thought I would share what I wrote. The most influential people in our lives are the ones who are full of God's love and do not hesitate to share it with everyone.

   When I think of Grandma I think of love. She was full of love and life. She didn’t hesitate to express that love. She didn’t hold back. Her love for her family was fierce.  She didn’t just hug, she held on to you for dear life. She couldn’t just sit next to you she had to have her arm around you.  Every conversation ended with the words, “I love you”.  Some may have felt she was a little over the top with all of this affection.  I believe she was wise. She was wise enough to know that life is short and no one is guaranteed another tomorrow with the ones they love. So she chose to love everyone well every chance she got. 

   She loved sacrificially. Grandma held on to her possessions loosely. They did not hold on to her. If you needed something and she had it, it was yours. She always said, “I can’t take it with me when I’m gone so I might as well see the ones I love enjoy it while I’m here.”  She was always thinking of others and worrying about them.  She was also generous with her time. She had time for others.  It didn’t matter what she was doing she had time to listen and time to talk. 

  Grandma loved honestly. She was uncensored. She had no filter. You never knew what she was going to say or in whose presence she might say it.   This could be embarrassing at times.  But she was honest in this way. In a world where people seldom present themselves the way they really are, some might call Grandma refreshing.  I can’t help but wonder if this too was because she knew life is short. Why waste time pretending?   

  She loved God.  She always said she wouldn’t be here without Him.  Even though she had a hard life, she never held it against God.  She loved Him because He walked her through it. He made her stronger because of it. He comforted her and provided for her and she looked forward to seeing Him face to face in heaven along with Grandpa. 

  I don't want to just remember her and honor her on this one day at her funeral. I want to honor her with the way I love others.  I want to love like she loved. That’s the legacy she has left here, a legacy of love. Love for God, sacrificial love, honest love, and love for family. Please join me and love others well. We aren't here very long and neither are they. The way we love others may very well be the only glimpse of God's love that they get.



Monday, January 28, 2013

When the Every Day is Hard...

     I haven't written anything since New Years. I think it's because this blog is supposed to be uplifting and life has not been very uplifting lately. My initial reasons for starting to blog were to document how I find God in the every day and to be a source of encouragement to others. Right now I struggle to write because the ways that I see God in the every day have been very different from before. The places He and I have been lately have been hard. It's not that we haven't been to hard places before. We have. The difference this time is that the hard places have brought on some serious questions and things to think about that I hadn't considered before. To explain them in order to get to the good stuff, is not so encouraging. Yet I sit here typing because it's important to share that God is there in the hard places. He is there in the places where all of life's difficult soul searching questions are, the refining places and the suffering places. This is where I've been.

    It all began when someone close to me witnessed her friend go to trial for murder. Then her friend was found guilty. Only God knows whether the person really committed the crime. Over the course of the trial the person I love has suffered in discovering that most of what she knew and believed about her friend was not true. So many lies. As I listened to her hurt I struggled with my own anger toward the source of the pain she was suffering. There was someone I wanted to set straight, tell off, yell at. Anger is like poison. It rages within and eats away at all that is good. So I asked God to help me see the person I was angry with through His eyes. I kept asking and then the anger was gone. Yet this is not where I saw God the most in this situation. Where He showed up the biggest and brightest was in the realization that even the criminal needs God's love. Even the criminal needs forgiveness and mercy. To see the person who has caused someone I love so much suffering through God's eyes, is to realize that I am no better. My sins are just as ugly and just as grievous. God has walked me through this hard place and taught me about His love and His mercy and now I am praying for the person who caused such suffering. I am praying for them to go to God and receive forgiveness, mercy, and restoration.

     Another hard place God and I have been to a lot lately, is the hospital. My grandmother was there.  We have come so close to losing her and some have gone to great lengths to keep her here. Despite this we will lose her yet. Grandma lived for the eternal. She didn't hold on to the things of this life tightly. If you needed it and she had it, she gave it to you. She always says, "I can't take it with me when I go so I might as well see the ones I love enjoy it while I'm here."   I honestly can't remember a time when she hasn't talked about looking forward to heaven. Although I love her and am thankful for whatever time I have with her, it breaks my heart that she is still here and suffering.  In the midst of all the praying and decision making my family has had to do for grandma, I find myself contemplating the same question over and over again. Why do we hold on so tightly to this life?

     This life is a good life but it is a hard life. Why would anyone want to hold on to it if they have a relationship with Christ? Why would any of us want to hold our loved ones here if we know they will go on to heaven. Heaven...the place where God wipes away the tears from all faces and there is no sickness, sorrow, or death. As I think on these things I also realize that there are so many other ways that we hold on to this life. We shouldn't.  We need to be like Christ who lived for the eternal. He gave everything away freely. He gave His love without discrimination. He gave His time even to the unlovely. He didn't hold onto possessions or accumulate wealth. He took what little He had and multiplied it to feed the five thousand. He even gave His life.

     Grandma has lived eighty years. Eighty years seems like a long time to us. It's really a short time compared to eternity with Christ. Each of us only has a short time here. It could be short as in 20 years or short as in 100 years, but it's still not a long time. So why hang on to it? Why not race each other to the finish line and see who can let go of it the fastest?  Who can give it away without hesitation? Who can be the quickest to love without discrimination, share their blessings, and make time to love the unlovely?

     This is where I have been. I have been pondering the hard questions of every day life. Eventually they come for everyone. I am just thankful that God and I have been discussing them together. Sometimes we have to have our hearts broken so He can make them new. Sometimes we have to ask for His eyes to see others and gain His perspective for the circumstances of our lives. It's not always the most uplifting place to be but I would rather be there with Him than go it alone.  Maybe you are reading this and find yourself wrestling through life's difficulties. Don't do it alone. Ask God to answer the questions of your heart and give you His perspective. It makes a world of difference!