Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mary, my present day Dorcas

Fifteen years ago, God chose fit to bring an incredible woman into my life.  I was a doe-eyed newlywed new to Atlanta, who became one of the many souls blessed by knowing Mary Broadwell.  In her quiet, precious way, she pushed me beyond what I thought was possible.  She taught me things about friendship, marriage, living a Christian life, being a dedicated mother, and what true service looks like in the life of a woman.  She recognized me where I was, and inspired me to be so much more.
Now, it seems to our tear-filled eyes that God is calling her home.  All I can selfishly think is "Not yet.  I have so much more to learn from her."
Older women "are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled."(Titus 2:3-5)  Although I would never consider her "older," she was older than me and she did teach me a ton!  Yes, Mary is sober minded, but she showed me how to do that with a smile, a laugh, and a wonderful attitude.
The amazing thing about Mary, is that she has no idea!  She has no idea of how many souls she has influenced for the kingdom.  She has no idea how her light was shining just by walking in the door.  She has no idea how her wrestling with four little boys on a Sunday morning pew, and keeping a strict and happy home throughout the years has now spread the word of the Lord to countless others throughout the world. 
I treasure the times and conversations I've had with her, and if the Lord sees fit to allow her to stay longer here, I am going to SEIZE the day and sit at her feet to soak up as much more as she's willing to share.
Don't let the days pass by without reaching out to those who have reached out to you.  Our days here are short, but thank the Lord we get to spend eternity together.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

But I Can't Forgive Her!

It finally happened, Adela got a taste of her own medicine.  Once upon a time, there was a little girl who could not keep a secret.  Try as she might, at the very first opportunity of a new listening ear, she would blurt out the secret and cause the utmost grief in the betrayed sister (or mother, who really would have preferred to keep her grumpy mood private instead of being prayed for openly in Bible class).
As fate would have it, Adela had a little sister (imagine here a small smirk from offended parties).  Her little sister, unwittingly blurted out a hint at a gift that Adela was creating as a surprise.  Oh the tears of betrayal and the anger of lost confidence that raged through our house on that fateful day!!!  After several hours of crying, sulking, going-to-be-by-herself-ing, and trying to be friends again, Adela came in to confess to me, "Mom, I've tried at least four times, but I can't forgive her.  How do I forgive her when I can't stop being mad?"
Wow! Out of the mouth of babes!!!  Forgiveness is one of those things that will always be an enigma to me.  How can God forgive me, and actually forget and wipe my slate clean?  There is a difference between forgiving and forgetting, right?  But how does that really work?  And are we called to do that very same thing to others?  We are told that our forgiveness of others is tied directly to our being forgiven.  But, Adela is right...forgiving is hard.   Is it something that starts inside of you and works its way out, or something that we display through behavior and then eventually begin to feel in the heart?  I suppose it is one of those things that I am still learning and will continue to learn throughout this life.  What I do know is that it is an incredible burden lifted (both to the forgiven and the forgiver) when forgiveness is offered, whether deserved or asked for.  We've all been at the mercy of others because of our errant actions, so shouldn't we be generous with our grace as well?!  We've all been crushed and broken when hurt by someone and then soothed and healed when we truly forgive and move on.
I reminded Adela of the many occurrences of her doing the very same offense, and how hurt the offended party felt, but what a relief it was and how thankful she was when forgiveness was granted.  It's not always easy, but we are called to do it...not just four times, but seventy times seven.
That little girl who had been the offender and the forgiven, turned into the offended and the forgiver, then lived happily ever, learning over and over again that God's plan of forgiveness heals all wounds.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Thorn in Her Side

The other day there was one of those perfect teachable moments, where the clouds part, the sun shines directly down, and you hear that "Ahhhhh!" chorus in your head making clear that as a parent you'd better seize this opportunity.
Jo came to me tearing up, with thorns stuck to her socks and the legs of her jeans.  She exclaimed, "Why me?  Why does everything bad always happen to me?  All I was doing was trying to sit in this field and watch."  With a tender hand and a loving hug,  we discussed why trials come our way, how bad things happen to both the good and the bad alike.  We talked about rising above our struggles and making the outcome count.  We even delved into counting our blessings, not focusing on the negative, and how we can become aware of other's "thorns" and offer encouragement.  Once I removed the final sticker, she breathed a sigh of relief and contentment, wiped away the tears, and with a smile and a hug, she turned to run and play with her siblings while I gave myself a prideful pat on the back with another mission accomplished.
My eyes nearly bulged out of my head when I witnessed the back of poor Jo Jo Bug's pants.  She was covered in those pesky spiky things!!! I mean literally, 30 stickers getting ready to attack her rear as soon as she decided to slide down that super fun slide.  All of my words of wisdom mockingly looked me in the face and challenged, "Now what?!"
It was then that I realized this was one of those teachable moments, not for her, but for ME!  My Father showed me how hardships in life here can actually get much worse in our eyes before we see the light and relief of it getting better.  He reminded me that this is a race of endurance, one that He'll accompany us on, and be there at the finish to reward our success if only we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and persevere.
This time, she handled the trial like a pro, and I, humbled now, thanked God for His constant lessons of survival and enduring love.