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Archive for March, 2013

It was one of those beautiful mornings. You know what it’s like moms – it was early, the kids were still sleeping,

I was reading my Bible, preparing myself for another busy day.  Three children under five years old, homeschooling, chores, maybe an errand or two…

I could do this.

Then came the sound of my 5-year-old ricocheting down the hall. Nathanael jumped up and cuddled next to me on the couch.

“What are you reading?” he asked.

“Well, son,” -pointing to the story in 1 Samuel,

“ Look. Here is the letter ‘D’; it is at the beginning of “David”

I was always trying to make a ‘learning moment’!

“Remember reading about David?”

“Oh, yeah – he’s the one who killed the giant, `cause the giant was evil, and when you’re evil you DIE!”,  He answered with emphasis.

Sigh.

My son had been struggling for a while with the whole idea of death. It frightened him. A few weeks earlier he has overheard me say off-handedly,

“I was so embarrassed I almost died!!”

He started to cry, “You’re not going to die are you Mama? Please don’t die!”

So here we were again, issue at hand. I had to do something. What could I say to help him understand that dying was not a punishment for the evil, but a new beginning of life for those who loved God?

I had an idea.

I could do this.

“Nathanael, remember how a couple of years ago we lived in that blue house?”

He nodded.

“And then we moved here to this yellow house?”

Again he nodded.

“Well, when you die it is like moving to a different house. We live here in these earthly bodies for a while and then when our life is over here, we move to heaven and have a new body, one that will never feel pain, or sickness, and we will live forever there with Jesus.”

I was delighted with the analogy.

I could do this.

Nathanael, however, was staring out the front room window, apparently oblivious to my waxing eloquent.

“Mama,” he said finally, still staring out at our front lawn and the big shady tree,

“Mama, it’s green.”

Darn.

thought I could do it.

“Yes, darling, the front yard is very green,” I answered, disappointed that my profound words of wisdom had been lost in the moment, and my boy’s thoughts were wandering aimlessly.

I could not have been more wrong.

“No, mama,” he answered excitedly”,  my HOUSE – it’s GREEN!”

Still staring out the window, he was smiling now. Leaning forward he said in wonder,

“Mama… there is SO MANY HOUSES!”

I knelt in front of him and looked into his face…Nathanael was seeing heaven.

God had opened a window for him to see a glimpse of the “many mansions” , and Nathanael’s was green.

In that moment the Lord had forever taken away Nathanael’s fear of dying.

I could not do this.

God, in His great love for Nathanael, cared about this little boy’s fears, and with one miraculous glimpse, took those fears away.

I heard the echo of Jesus’ voice, many years ago, speaking to His friends who were also fearful:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you…”

John 14:1,2 

 

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My mother was my best friend. She knew me better than anyone, she supported me, she loved me, but most of all, she prayed for me. She loved the Lord and was a source of encouragement to many. I treasured her.

In her early 60’s she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and after a few years she had forgotten who we were. When she came to live with us my youngest children were unsure about this woman who could be sweet and gentle one moment and the next become agitated, confused, and fearful.

One morning while I was schooling my older children, I looked up to see my 5-year-old Michael rush through the kitchen, my mother chasing behind him.

By the time I caught up with them, Michael was hiding under his bed crying, “I didn’t do anything — she just started screaming at me!” My mom was hysterical, “that little boy was swearing at me and making awful faces!”

“No Mama, I didn’t” Michael cried from under the bed. “I know son, she is just confused.” I pulled Mom away from crawling in after him. I tried to console him and calm my mom who insisted, “I know what I saw, he’s a naughty little boy!” My 4-year-old Emily stood by terrified watching her brother cowering under his bed, and her grandmother trying to crawl in after him.

I finally was able to coax my mom to her room, and by the time I had made a cup of tea for her she had completely forgotten the whole incident. “You look upset,” she said to me, “is something wrong?”

“Is something wrong?” I thought, “Is something wrong?” Yes, something was wrong.

I cried out to God, “I don’t understand why she is not healed, I don’t understand how You want me to `honor my mother’ and still protect my children. I am done!”

The Lord answered clearly to me: “I want you to protect your children by teaching them to forgive those who hurt them, to bless those who curse them, this will protect them.”

“Lord,” I argued, “they are only 4 and 5 years old.”

Then He spoke to me words that I will never forget.

“Will it be easier for them to learn to forgive when they are four, or to wait until they are forty?”

I knew what to do, but my heart was not in it. I took Emily and Michael to my room and opened the Bible.

Reading out loud, “Bless those who falsely accuse you…” I asked Michael, “Do you know what ‘falsely accuse’ means?”

“No,” he answered.

“It means that someone has said you have done something that you know you have not done.”

“That’s what happened. Grandma said I said bad words to her, but I didn’t!”

“I know son. But look, that makes you like a ‘Bible Boy.’  What happened to you is just what we read about in the Bible.”

He seemed interested. I felt numb inside. Continuing on I read,

“ ‘Pray for those who curse you,’ Emily, do you know what it means when someone cursers you?”

“That’s what Grandma was doing when she was saying those bad words to Michael,” she said.

“Right, Baby, and look what the Lord tells us to do when we are ‘falsely accused or cursed,’

Jesus tells us to bless them, to pray for them.

Searching for a way to help them understand their Grandma I explained to them that when they have had a bad dream, I would try to wake them but they did not wake up right away. That sometimes they would wave their arms at me and even hit me.

“We hit you?” Emily asked in disbelief.

“Yes, baby, because you were not all the way awake, you were in a bad dream. And for Grandma it’s like she is always in a bad dream that she can’t wake up from. She doesn’t know what she is doing. She loves you and would never hurt you.

So let’s do what Jesus told us to do, let’s pray for her and bless her.”

Michael and Emily began to pray, but honestly, I had no faith to pray.

I see now that I was “leaning upon my own understanding,” which was coming up empty.

“Help Grandma, Jesus,” they prayed, “help her to wake up from her bad dreams, and help us to be kind.”

“Help us to be kind?” Where had that come from? I was to see later that the Lord Himself was guiding their prayers.

Not long afterwards I was driving with the two of them and they started the proverbial ”you touched me, you looked at me, you breathed my air.” (No kidding, “You breathed my air!”)

I pulled the car over and took a deep breath, searched my mind for a scriptural exhortation, but nothing came. So, I determined to resort to the wisdom of Thumper’s mother in the story of Bambi,

“If you can’t think of anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It would do in a pinch.

“Okay, who has something nice to say?”

Emily eagerly raised her hand as if she were answering the winning question of a spelling bee.

“I love Grandma,” she said.

“That’s nice sweetheart,” I answered, glad for a diversion.

But the Lord showed me it was not a diversion. It was a holy moment.

“No, Mama,” she repeated slowly, “I LOVE Grandma.”

“Look at her face,” the Lord nudged me. “That’s Me inside of her. She asked Me to come in and help her be kind. I live in her.”

It was a holy moment.

A few weeks later the kids and I took my mom on a walk on a lovely path by the river. I was watching as Emily and my mom were walking several yards ahead of me. What a sweet picture as Emily was chatting away and holding tight to mom’s hand.

Then it happened.

I had seen it many times before. Mom was beginning to hallucinate.

She was anxious and crying out, and was trying to pull her hand from Emily, who just held on tighter.

“It’s okay Grandma. I am here — you’re okay.” Emily tried to calm her, but my mom in her fear and confusion, yanked her hand away from Emily and then slapped her across the face.

“Lord, no, how can this happen!!” I cried out loud as I ran towards them. “Jesus, Emily is trying to love Mom. It’s hard enough, and now this….this is going to scare her off forever.”

What happened next I will never forget.

Before I could get to Emily, she had run behind Mom, holding one hand to her little face where I could see my mom’s handprint, but with the other hand she reached up, took my mom’s free hand and said, “Well then Grandma, I guess I’ll just have to kiss this hand.”

I was stunned — my mom relaxed and took Emily’s hand, and the two of them walked on as if nothing had happened.

But something had happened.

I had seen the face of God.

In a 4-year-old little girl, I had seen the face of God.

Jesus said, “Forgive as I have forgiven you.”

This is how we are forgiven. In the midst of our fear and doubt, and our complete unawareness of His presence and love, in the midst of our blind raging, in the midst of our wounding Him,

He kisses our hand and then…

He kisses our other hand.

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