Saturday, March 13, 2010

"The Measure of a Man"

He slumped over, shoulders sagging and and head bowed. She watched him deflate and felt her heart crack simultaneously. This was so far from the news they had expected. What seemed like a life-time of slammed doors and dreams dashed for them had appeared to be turning around...or so they thought – until this moment.

He wasn’t what you would call a proud man, but a man who measured himself by how well he provided for his family and whether or not his kids would look up to him. One of his greatest fears was to have his children grown and looking on him with pity, saying “well at least he tried – even if he never measured up”. He just wanted so much more for her and their children and he didn’t want it for free – he just wanted the opportunity to work for it.

He was sure that as she sat next to him in this silent moment that she was disappointed. This wasn’t the answer he had prepared her for, he was sure that at this moment he would be telling her that the job offer would mean stability and security for them. Something they really hadn’t experienced as a couple and something he had promised himself he would do for her. “I had the position lined up for you on Monday but things went in a different direction this week and I am not in a position to hire at this time” the email read. How could the position be there and waiting for him on Monday and be gone on Friday? How could he have thought this was all from God and have it ripped out of his grasp before he could get a grip? Hadn’t he prayed, “Please Lord, don’t let the rug get pulled out from under us this time!”? Hadn’t he searched for God’s hand in this and felt His leading? And now how she must think of him as a failure as a man.

As tears filled her eyes and her throat tightened she reached across to touch his face, he could barely meet her eyes. “I’m so sorry Love,” was all she could muster for the moment and they held each other, her crying – him doing his best not to. A mix of emotions would follow for both of them, anger for her – how dare they treat him this way? Shame for him – will I ever measure up? Will she ever be able to depend on me?

But she didn’t measure him the way he measured himself. The true measure of a man wasn’t about where he worked or how much money he brought in. She knew that the true measure of a man was far more intricate than such trivial things. A true man was measured by his consistant open and loving arms, by the way his children loved to brag about him, and by the way his friends and family knew he was always just a phone call away.

The true measure of a man was how his wife knew his loving heart for her just from the look in his eyes, how he could make her laugh in the midst of dark storms and the knowing that the best place in the world to be was in the crook of his strong arm at the end of each and every day.

Most of all, the true measure of a man, is how when the news isn’t what he wanted or even expected, he would turn and run to God instead of away from God. The true measure of a man is his choice to praise God under pressure. The true measure of a man is when his faith is tested; his true colours reflect his loving Saviour. The true measure of a man is when he is able to pray with his hands wide open saying “The LORD gives and the LORD takes away – Yet will I praise Him!”

The true measure of a man is when his wife can trust him to lead her to the foot of the cross under all circumstances.

And oh how he measured up...her heart welled with pride and thanksgiving for the gift of  a true man!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

"If I had enough to spare...I'd give you a piece of my mind!"

What's on your mind...the facebook status line prompts us to share what's going on in our lives, how we are feeling or where we are off to. I am often tempted to type into that line the very thing that has been in the front of my mind for days...the thing I am agonizing over...but does anyone really care?

What’s on your mind...the real question should be what SHOULD be on your mind. If we all asked ourselves that before blurting out all our crap for all 645 of our “closest” friends to read, judge and comment on we might start a new trend and actually add something to our lives.

What’s on your mind....frankly I’m not sure I have enough to spare, but if I was to share a bit of it, it would have to be that I wish all our minds were focused on Who they should be instead of our selfish ways. I would also share how sad it makes me to see how many of us, knowing better, still choose the path we want instead of the path that was lovingly cleared and paved for us long before we were here.

What’s on your mind is on the man hanging on the cross, not because he deserved it, but because he longed to save those of us who mock him, desert him, blaspheme him and spit in his face by choosing our own way. Like spoiled children we run away from his loving arms, taunting him as if He has no control over us. And knowing full well we would do this he hung there, suffering until the blood had drained out of his and his spirit left his body.

What’s on my mind is the model of true love he gave us that could save us from all the heart ache and pain we encounter, but we think we know better than the very One who planned our being, our lives and not only the path, but all the beautiful scenery along that path. And in the midst of our disobedience...he blesses us. He blesses us with breath, and health and children and we spit in His face as if His blood means nothing to us.

What’s on my mind is how He gave a guide to live by and in knowing that guide we know that to step outside of His will is to step outside of His protection. Why would we choose that? Because we don’t understand what a complete love is....because we are putting our own “spin” on HIS TRUTH.

In his book, “Graced Based Parenting” Dr. Tim Kimmel defines the kind of love that can radically change your life and can only come through you if you choose His will.

“Love is the commitment of my will to your needs
and best interests, regardless of the cost”

That’s what Jesus had in mind as He hung on that cross, not only to save us but to give us the model for the kind of love we should choose.

Let’s break it down...

1. Love is the commitment of my will...
In other words, doing the loving thing may not always come naturally to you. You may have to muster courage, say no to your fears, and place your feelings in check. Love is about making decisions based on the covenant we have with that person.

2. To your needs and best interests...
Not “to my needs and best interests.” Love sees our needs as a “B” priority compared to the best interests of the person we are called to love.

3. Regardless of the Cost...
Secure love understands that loving someone is often inconvenient and sometimes painful. It definitely means eating crow, swallowing your pride, and asking for forgiveness a lot.

What’s on my mind....that there are none so blind as those who WILL NOT see. They have baffled their own consciences, and so they walk on in darkness knowing full well that the eyes of the Lord are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. But alas, a mocker resents correction; he will not consult the wise. And so it goes that He gave his very life, he left clear direction and even a Book to live by and we spit.

There is severe discipline for him who forsakes God's way; and he who hates reproof will die [physically, morally, and spiritually]

What’s on my mind....and my heart is my sincere desire to walk my path dotted with daisies and phlox and to stay on my path even when the bears and lions cross over it because I know whom I belong to and who will carry me past and through the storms of this life...if only I am a willing burden for Him to carry.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are lavish and deceitful.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Gift of Motherhood

She squinted in the darkness to see the time. Three-thirty-two in the morning; had God woken her to pray again? Or had tragedy struck at that exact moment to someone she loved? She always feared the latter but chose the first. And so she prayed. Secretly she hoped that the praying would calm her and send her back to her slumber. That was not the case this time – four, five then five-thirty ticked away and she stayed awake…wondering why.
She was weary. The despair wasn’t what one would think…it was deeper, darker…suffocating. There was that thumping noise again…what was it? David’s Psalm was echoing in her heart somewhere, “My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?” Again, the tears came,” I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.” Thump, thump, thump, crack! It was the sound of her breaking.
Her minds eye replayed the scene again. Her hopes trampled on, her dreams squashed, unrequited love. How could this be? She could see him, his pack on his back—wordless. His six-foot-three frame didn’t hide the boy she could still see. His gate and the back of his head looked the same to her as it did when he still loved to climb into her knee and snuggle into her neck; when his smile never left his face, even when he was sleeping; when all her hopes and dreams for him and his bright future still lived. Then the memory vanished into the darkness. “My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.”
How could this be? Didn’t he used to love her? How could the very child she gave birth to and nursed so lovingly and nurtured and taught the best she could, despise her so deeply? And how could it be that both of her boys could make her feel as worthless and disgusting as their father had? Didn’t she raise them to be different? Didn’t she do anything right?
She fought to see his sweet young face again. Smiling mouth and twinkling eyes that said I love you mommy. That is where he would stay in her heart forever.
Despair…the result is weariness—deep, lonely, frustrated weariness. This is the gift of motherhood.
Hope in the midst of despair…no matter how hard to grasp—is the Gift of God.
“The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.”
If only she could erase the despair.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

God's Arm Pit

Her screams pierced through the Christmas music being piped into the grocery store way too early in the season. Shoppers paused long enough to assess the situation and give the typical judgemental scowel accompanied by a shake of their head to be sure people saw their disapproval. The blonde headed toddler gave another shriek to let her mother know that she was still waiting to be released from the grocery cart. Her older brother sat on the floor and watched with a glazed look, obviously not new to him. As her mother worked quickly to unload the grocery cart onto the belt, I watched from my place in line, two carts back.
Initially I had thought, "oh great, I've picked the wrong line up again". I only had five things in my cart and as usual only 6 of the 25 lanes were open on a busy Saturday morning. But this day, I decided not to stress about it and waited to see how things would turn out for this determined toddler.
By the time she had let out her fifth scream, she had started to let herself out of the cart and was teetering precariously over the handle when her mother spotted her and grabbed her, only to be thanked with yet another howel of disapproval from her wee one. At that moment a young man joined the line up behind me with his very placid 8 month old baby seated in his cart. He gave me a look that said he was sure his sweet baby girl would never behave this way. I smiled back at him and sweetly reminded him that he should enjoy this stage.
I watched as the mother now struggleed with her toddler who had kicked her boots off. She wailed and wriggled, doing her best to get down. Her mother held tighter and kissed her face and head. She didn't seem concerned about what the people around her were thinking of her. Instead she did her best to comfort her baby girl, assuring her with her kisses and whispering her reasoning into her little ear. The whispers seemed to go unoticed though as she only struggled harder against her mother's willingness to hold her and keep her safe.
Eventually, out of necessity she did get released so that her mother could continue unloading her basket. A new level of struggle ensued as her mother very patiently and repeatedly took candy bars and gum out of her hands and placed them back on the shelf. Each time her kindness was rewarded with a shrill complaint from her child. And I began to think how often we react the same way to God's consistent loving protection over us.
He hedges us with protection in His loving arms and we push the boundaries and fuss and complain when He holds onto us. We reach for the candy bars in life that He didn't intend for us and throw a tantrum when he keeps them out of our reach for our own good.
While I was pondering, the mother had placed her child back in the cart and had not fastened the seat belt. While she hastely tried to pay her bill the little girl stood up in the cart and because of my gasp the mother turned in time to grab her child in mid-nose-dive. She saved her little one from certain injury and still she complained and fussed at her mother.
Then it occured to me that this too was just how we react to our Heavenly Father. We pray for blessings and protection and then when God grabs us in mid-nose-dive we are stunned and complain! Yet, He continues to love us. We are so undeserving of such consistent, unconditional love...yet He lavishes it on us. We fuss and He loves us more. We push and He holds on. We grab at what the world has to offer and lovingly He blocks our reach, reminding us that His plan is so much sweeter and richer than anything we can think or imagine.
As the mother pushed her heavy cart out of the store with her screaming toddler tucked under her arm, I had to wonder how much time had I spent tucked in God's arm pit, when I could have been nuzzeld against the warmth of His chest and wrapped in His arms? Still, I'd have to say that I would rather be in His pit, than be out of His love.
Isaiah 40:11
"Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms, Hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Let the Poor say "I AM RICH!"

The music washed over me like waves from the ocean. Warm and gentle, but forceful enough to jostle me out of my selfish thoughts. "Give thanks with a grateful heart ~ Give thanks to the HOLY ONE...and now let the weak say I am strong ~ let the POOR SAY I AM RICH because of what the LORD has done." I am certainly rich. I don't know about you, but I have seen the Hand of God in my life and HE has "done" so much for me and with me...therefore I am rich, because of what the LORD has done for me. I want my 'grateful heart" to be the thing people notice and remember about me. I want my legacy to be that of a runner...not away from disaster but TO GOD. I want my loyalty and hunger for Him to be the most memorable thing about me. Many years ago as i was rocking my baby, (who is now 17) I remember singing a song that led to sobbing as I realized how flippantly I was singing the words. "You are the potter, I am the clay, mold me and make me, this is what I pray..." After I tucked my wee one in bed, I prayed that God would do "WHATEVER" it takes to me make me like Him. Be careful what you pray for. He has been doing that ever since...and I am surprised and fight it at times...but He is faithful to that which we ask of Him. I still have so far to go before I am anywhere near "like Him" and it is discouraging at times...but He is at work.

Change my heart oh God.

Proverbs 3: 3-6
3-4 Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people. 5-12 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God's voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he's the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best. Your barns will burst, your wine vats will brim over. But don't, dear friend, resent God's discipline; don't sulk under his loving correction. It's the child he loves that God corrects;
a father's delight is behind all this.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Moving Hurts

So we have moved most of our stuff…and we are very tired and emotionally drained. Moving many ways.

The weather was great on the weekend…sunny but not humid. Today was a different story…very humid. I have learned a few things about me…mostly things I’m not good at.
I’m not as organized as I used to be
I’m not very good at packing
I don’t like being uprooted
I don’t have the brain power to balance too many things at once
I’m not as organized as I used to be
I might have Alzheimer’s!

We have had minor cuts and bruises, (including when Noah ran over his own toe with his scooter) but nothing major. And in the midst of this Terry’s vehicle died a very sudden death…just what we needed. There were end of year events up the wazoo…just what we needed. Come the actual move day, we had fewer friends than last we counted…just what we needed. Or was it exactly what we needed? ” This is the very day God acted— let’s celebrate and be festive!” ~Psalm 118:24
Each of these days, even the last few were planned form me, by God Himself! Have I been glad and rejoiced in them? Not really…I am ashamed to say. I have wanted to be joyful in this journey, but I have to admit I have been a bit cranky and even ugly at times. But I am reminded that all this is no surprise to God. Not my whining and complaining, not the broken car, the unorganized mess we have been trying to move…not even the way I am feeling at this moment. He planned me and all my days. And even when I am not walking in the way He had planned for me, He is there with me. I never lifted one box alone! It is my choice however, to either complain and grumble or celebrate and be festive…I have decided I like being festive.
If God took the time to plan ALL my days for me…the least I can do is honour him while I live them out.
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother's womb. I thank you, High God—you're breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvellously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something. Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I'd even lived one day.” ~Psalm 139:16

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Packing up the dreams God planted….

I’m packing…well actually I’m writing, but I SHOULD be packing! We are on the move again. Not exactly what I expected when we moved here 4 ½ years ago. I really thought this house would eventually be ours and that we would put down deep roots and never leave or move again. I thought this was an open door from God and that He was planting us in this neighbourhood and this house to be a beacon of light for Him. We prayed that we would be a lighthouse in the midst of this street, pointing each of our neighbours to the Cross. I was sure He planted us here … to stay.

But we are moving…two doors down. I have shared how I think God must not just get a chuckle over me, but a full belly laugh! I realized that I truly believed that “I” could direct God through my prayers. I told Him, that we have been praying for our neighbours and that we need to stay and continue the work. That Gracie considers this her mission field. Thinking all the while that He would keep us here in this house…He planted the dream, and I couldn’t even recognize it. It’s not about the house or my comfort level but about my obedience to Him…to give Him that “thing” I am holding back from Him. And the realization that it is not about me, but about how and when and where He chooses to use me. I wanted to make an impact in this neighbourhood and wherever I go, but without obedience to Him He cannot use me.

But it is not we who will remain, but HIM. We may be remembered by some people on this earth, but our calling and our obedience to that calling will be what lasts forever, to the Glory of God. 1 Peter 2:9-10 says: “But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.”

He plants the dreams…and sometimes we live out the plan in one place…and then sometimes we pack up the dreams God has planted and move on to the next gig. As long as the spot light remains on Him and I can look forward hearing “well done thou faithful servant”. The great thing is the dream isn’t dead…it’s just being relocated.

I surrender all! Whatever I hold onto is YOURS OH GOD.

“Do you see what this means—all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honour, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he ploughed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” ~Hebrews 12:1-3

Back to my packing now ...just remember which side is up! - - cb