I want to thank Primary Graffiti for featuring me on one of their stories. Thank you for the acknowledgment and for the tweet! Head on over , check them out and follow them on twitter at @PrimaryGraffiti.
Here’s the link to their story page.
Please be with us today as we send our children back to school after Fridays tragedy. Settle our nervous hearts and give us peace in letting go of our children’s hands as they walk through the doors of their school. Wrap your loving arms around those who no longer have a child to take to school today. Give them comfort and peace. Watch over the teachers and administrators that have to return to their jobs of looking after our children and teaching them not only about their school work but about being a good and kind person. Be with our teachers as they put on their brave face and try to make our children feel safe and comfortable. We know that you do good for all those who work for your glory. We know that you are almighty and that your plan for us is always good. Please God hold our hands and hearts today. In sweet Jesus name, amen.
“So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold — though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:6 – 7
Today can make me bitter or today can make me better.
My dad committed suicide a year ago today. Maybe it was a year ago tomorrow or maybe the day after that. I will never know.
His death certificate reads “date found” instead of date deceased or date died, whatever they put on there. No one knows when he actually did it. It’s kind of haunting.
The last time anyone heard from him was on the 5th and that is also the day he shopped for his own noose at Home Depot. I know this because of the receipt that was in his pocket when he died.
They didn’t find him until the 7th and we were not told until the 8th.
It’s going to be a long few days for me.
Beauty From The Ashes
I’ve had some anxiety about this day arriving for the past few months. I have kept that to myself for the most part.
Then I started receiving notes from my friends, little reminders that they were praying for me and that they love me. Most of these notes were from friends that I have gained through W3 or friendships that have been renewed or strengthened through W3.
They started to do their work on me.
They started to change me.
Today, Tomorrow Or The Day After That
I’m not going to be sad today, tomorrow, or the day after that. I’m not going to repeat that eulogy in my head. I’m not going to picture my father on the floor of that bathroom. I’m not going to dwell on Home Depot, a bag of shirts, a death certificate, the phone call from my brother, a cross in the middle of nowhere or a single moment of my past with my dad.
I am going to give thanks for every blessing that God has poured out onto me over the past year.
Thank you God for W3 and letting me have words to put down. Thank you for giving this to me.
Thank you God for renewed friendships, new friendships and changed friendships.
Thank you God for the peace, grace and mercy you have given to me.
Thank you God for the crazy faith that you have filled me with and the fire you have ignited inside me.
Thank you God for giving me the ability to know and show true forgiveness.
Thank you God for the cross and what it means to me now.
Thank you God for letting my dad walk through your gates and to your feet.
Thank you God for any life that you have allowed me to touch through your W3 ministry.
Today is not the anniversary of my dads suicide, neither is tomorrow or the day after that.
Today is the anniversary of my renewed life and faith in Gods ultimate plan.
If he died a year ago today or tomorrow or the day after that, it doesn’t matter. He is in heaven and it doesn’t matter when he got there. It doesn’t matter what was in his pocket or where he went that day. It doesn’t matter what his death certificate says or where his ashes remain.
What matters is what comes after. It matters what I do with it today, tomorrow and the day after that.
Today can make me bitter or today can make me better.
Merciful Father thank you for the sacrifice of your son so that even someone like my dad can spend eternity in heaven praising your great name. Thank you for giving us enough grace that all we have to do to be able to enter your kingdom is to believe in your son Jesus Christ. Thank you for forgiving our sin no matter how big or small. Thank you for forgiving us and giving us the ability to forgive others. Thank you for writing my name in the palm of your hand right next to my dads name. In Jesus name, amen.
I pray that you are rested and renewed in your new home in heaven. You are forgiven here on earth just like you are forgiven there with our Savior. I hope that your home in heaven is the mansion that you always wanted and that the closets are filled with snake skin boots, Polo style short sleeved shirts, 1000 pairs of Levi jeans, a pair of bright white tennis shoes and a super comfortable bath robe. I pray that God has supplied you with a barber that knows how to cut your hair in a way that that says “business in the front, a party in the back”. I pray that all the TVs in your home play images of your kids and grandkids and that you finally have a chance to see who we have become. I pray that God gave you the voice of an angel and that when you sing His great name in praise, the beauty that comes out of your mouth surprises even you. Sing dad.
I love you.
The Line Up
When my girlfriends and I saw the line up for the Women Of Joy conference we screamed like preteen girls. Max Lucado, Karen Kingsbury, Anita Renfroe, Adama Cappa, Jeremy Camp, Pam Tebow and the amazing Charles Bilingsley, get out of here!
When we got our tickets I joined in on the excitement but secretly started to panic.
I wasn’t sure that I could sit through the Jeremy Camp concert. Don’t get me wrong, I love him and he is super easy on the eyes but he sings “There Will Be A Day” and I knew that it was going to be very hard on me. It’s the song that I played at my dad’s funeral and every day since. I’m fine listening to it on the radio but live…I wasn’t so sure.
We truly had the most amazing time. Anita Renfore will make you laugh until you pee your pants. Wait, am I the only one with that problem? Forget I said it.
Max Lucado and Karen Kingsbury were amazing and I hung on every word. You couldn’t help but to cry the entire weekend because of how moving everything was.
I felt like no one in the building could understand the anticipation that I was feeling and why my heart was so heavy.
As I was sitting there feeling sad for myself, Karen Kingsbury started to read a poem about our last moments with our children and how we don’t realize that they are our lasts. She spoke about the last time she carried her child on her hip, the last time she help a bottle to feed her baby and many more lasts that we don’t even know are happening. There was not a dry eye in the room.
I began thinking of all my lasts that I had with my dad.
We noticed the women sitting in front of us was sobbing and her friends had their hands on her. We all stood up to pray and three rows of women surrounded this sobbing women and we started to pray for her. She had lost her 19 year old daughter to a drunk driver. I can’t imagine all of her lasts that were going through her mind at that moment.
I wasn’t alone in that room.
As a matter of fact there just might have been women in there with heavy hearts than the one that I carried under my “FORGIVE, FORGIVE, FORGIVE” t-shirt.
Can You See me
Saturday night came quicker than I had expected and the amazing Jeremy Camp took the stage.
Everyone held their arms in praise as he sang. He was amazing. When he sings there is no denying that angels fill the room.
Song after song we stood with our arms high and eyes closed. We were coming up to the end of the night and I thought that maybe he wouldn’t sing that song and I would be in the clear. Then he did it.
I’m guessing that I handed my phone to my friend to record it and then I just stood there.
I prayed through the entire song.
“God is he with you?”
“Can he hear me?”
“Can you see me dad?”
“Are you proud of me?”
“Listen dad, listen to him sing!”
“Do you know that I love you?”
“God if he can’t hear me will you please please tell him that I love him.”
“Why were you so sad dad?”
“Am I good enough now?”
“Do you love me?”
“I’m sorry dad”
“You’re free dad.”
And then it was over.
Not By Your Good Works
Someone once told me that my dad was going to go straight to hell. Someone once told me that when he died ‘no one would give a s&#$”. A friends dad died of a heart attack years ago and right before his funeral she said “it should have been your dad”. Someone once called him “The devil’s spawn”. They all had their reasons and it’s okay. He wasn’t a good man. I’ve said some pretty hateful things about him myself.
But I know for a fact that my dad lives with my Savior in heaven.
My dad believed in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross. My dad believed that the only way to heaven was through Jesus.
That’s all God requires.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
He is not in heaven by his good works. He is not in heaven because he lived a righteous life. He is not in heaven because he gave of himself.
He’s in heaven because EVERYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. God said so. He is the judge and the jury and He loves each of His children the same.
God loves my dad even though he took his own life. He loves him even thought he was a thief. He loves him even though he was a liar. He loves him even though he was a cheat.
He loves him because my dad is His son.
He loves Him so much that he let my dad sit front row at the Jeremy Camp concert just so he could listen to me talk to him.
Nothing But The Blood Of Jesus
What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
Are you trying to work you way into heaven? Do you want to do good so that you can earn God’s love?
He loves you. You are His child. You don’t need to earn it, it’s already yours.
Of course He wants you to live a full and wonderful life and to make a positive impact on others but all He requires of you is to believe in His Son and that the blood that was shed on the cross was for you.
If you haven’t accept Christ into you heart then stop right now and say a prayer with me.
“Heavenly Father thank you for the gift of eternal life. Please forgive me of my past sins and my future sins. Thank you for the sacrifice of Your son Jesus Christ so that I could have eternal life with You in heaven. Help me to live my life in a way that glorifies you and brings others to Your kingdom. If I stray from You gently remind me that I am the sheep and You are my Shepard. I want to live a new life in You. I want You to shine so brightly through me that others can’t take their eyes off of your glory. In You precious sons name, amen”.
After the JC concert we went to have Adam Cappa sign his poster for our kids (okay for us). We had been crying and looked like a mess. When I realized that we were going to take our picture with him I turned to my girlfriend and said “Maybe I should take my hair down so I don’t look so bad”. She looked at me and lovingly said “Oh honey, it’s not going to help”.
For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.”
When I was 19 I went to Enchanted Rock with two of my guys friends. Enchanted Rock is a HUGE rock that takes great effort to climb to the top. It has small caves and crevasses to explore and tons of beautiful nature all around it. It’s right outside the amazing Fredericksburg,Tx. Google it, it’s wonderful.
We made the two hour drive with great anticipation. When we finally arrived I couldn’t believe my eyes. It really was a huge rock. I stood at the base of it and a little doubt started to creep in my head.
Could I make it all the way up there? Would I be dead weight for my friends?
In true male form they both challenged a race to the top. Oh great, just what I didn’t want. My 19 year old self had much more stamina and energy than my..well let’s just say older self okay. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.
I have no idea who made it to the top first. Once we got up there we had completely forgotten we were even in a race. The view was amazing and the thought that we were standing on this huge rock was just strange.
At the top there is an area where you can venture in to the caves. I prayed that the guys wouldn’t want to go in there. I have severe claustrophobia so caves really aren’t my thing. I can’t even sleep in a sleeping bag because of it’s confinement. The caves would be close to death for me.
Of course the guys headed straight for the caves and couldn’t wait to get down deep in them. I didn’t say a word about my fear. I grew up with an older brother and learned early on not to show your fear and figure out how to hang with the big boys. So, I pulled up my big girl panties and followed them in to the dark, creepy, scary, tight, cold cave. I think I held my breath.
Fearing The Exit
I made sure to stay in the middle of the two boys as we made our way to the exit. I don’t remember a thing about hiking through it because the exit made me go into such a panic that everything before it was a blur.
The only way out was to lay on your belly and scoot like a snake because there were two rocks that were so close together you couldn’t stand or bend to walk out. I stared at the flat rock that i needed to lay on and the other flat rock that would be directly above me. I was about to be the ham between two pieces of bread, except the bread could easily crush the life out of me.
Tough guy # 1 made it out in 2.7 seconds, not that I was counting. Tough guy # 2 made it out in 5.7 seconds and I refrained from making fun of his losing to # 1 because I knew it was going to take me much longer to get out. By longer I mean 21 minutes and 43 seconds. Truth.
I laid frozen, unable to move a single muscle. Tears ran down my face and I didn’t care a bit that the guys could see them.
Both boys laid down so that they were on my level and extended their hands. The reminded me that they made it out without dying and I would do the same. They told me to grab their hands and they would do the rest. The told me to not be afraid, they would get me out.
Take His Hand
I wouldn’t be able to list the many times that the Lord did the same thing for me.
In my deepest moments of fear and despair He laid down to put Himself on my level. He reached His hand towards me and reminded me that Jesus came before me and lives. He told me to grab His hand and He would do the rest. He told me to not be afraid, He would pull me through.
He has never failed me. He has never forsaken me. He has never turned from me.
He is my constant. My redeemer. My rescuer. My healer. My salvation. My rock. My right hand.
Are you belly down between two rocks? Are you frozen in fear of how you are going to get out. Do you want to turn around and find the way back to where you started?
Look up. Extend your hand. He is waiting to pull you through. He is laying down so that you can see Him face to face and eye to eye. His hand is extended waiting for you to grab a hold of it. He is ready to pull you through. All you have to do is rest, He will get you out.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind. Allow Him to be your rescuer and redeemer.
Redeeming Father thank you for your hand. Thank you for laying down at our level so that we can see Your face. Help us to grab Your hand and put our trust in you to pull us through. When we are frozen in fear gently remind us that You sent Your son before us and we need not be afraid. In Your precious sons Jesus name, amen.
On our way home from Enchanted Rock we drove through the beautiful hill country of Texas while I threatened the guy’s lives if they ever told anyone what happened that day.
I stop by the Family Christian Store at least once a week.
I have one smack dab in the middle of my territory for work and I find it irresistible. I’m drawn to the $5 item of the week like a moth to a flame. I seek it out like I do the meal deal at our local grocery store. I’m a discount, coupon, special of the week junkie and I’m not ashamed.
This week they have large rubber duckies with a verse on them for $5! Of course I got three. The triplets birthday is coming up and I love to have a few small things for them to open and then we usually have on big item that all the family chips in to get.
Anyways… back to the store.
There is a homeless man that sits outside the store everyday and asks for something to drink. I’ll give him credit for sitting outside somewhere that he knows a bunch of Christians are going to be going in and out of, well played.
He gets me every time.
His skin is so dry and burnt that his cheeks are literally cracked. His hair is long, dry and tangled and he has the same clothes on every time I see him. I don’t know how he moves his lips without them splitting and bleeding.
I have fallen in love with him.
I went to the store and put a bag of “things” together for him. It included deodorant, a razor, shaving cream, Vaseline, water bottles, energy bars, snacks, wet wipes, chap stick, tooth brush, toothpaste and anything else that I could get my hands on that he might need.
I drove over to where I always see him only to find out that he was gone.
I stopped by every day for the next month and I do mean every day.
I had another sales rep with me for many of those days and while he applauded my efforts he also said that I might want to move on.
After about a month I pulled up to a red light and there was a woman standing there with a homeless sign. I opened my window and gave her the bag of goodies that I had intended on giving my friend outside the Christian store. I figured either way it went to someone who needed it.
Well, as always happens with my luck, I pulled up to the Christian store last week and there he was.
My hands and pockets were empty. I went over to him and sat down. He looked at me as if I was crazy, it seemed backwards but I went with it.
He had an old water bottle with some sort of brownish liquid in it. When I asked him if he had anything to drink he just held it up for me to see. I resisted the urge to ask him what the heck it was.
I asked him if he had anything to eat and he said “No ma’am , I haven’t eaten yet today”.
It was 3:00pm. I wanted to cry.
I went a bought him Chick Fil A and he didn’t argue with me over their belief system.
I know that most people have a cynical outlook on the people who stand on the side of the highway with a sign asking for help. We think that they walk home with hundreds of dollars while we are busting our rears at work and that they need to get out there and get a job.
This man isn’t in that group.
Even if he was I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t care if he walked away with millions everyday, I still have a soft spot for him.
And who really cares how much the people on the highway holding sigh walk away with, I can guarantee that they aren’t going home to the life and luxuries that the majority of us have.
My guy is broken, cracked, burnt, tired, worn out, thirsty and has a history that I can not even imagine. He can also have every penny that is in my purse. I love him. We aren’t the judge and we aren’t the jury.
Jesus was homeless.
He and His disciples bunked up with families when the traveled and preached.
Can you imagine if you got to have Jesus sleep over one night! Would you have let Him in your home?
We put out fancy welcome mats and welcome signs but who is truly welcome? I’m not to sure what I would do if my friend from the store showed up at my house and pointed down to my welcome mat.
Jesus doesn’t care about all of the fancy things that we buy to adorn our homes. He doesn’t care about the cute welcome sign we hang. He doesn’t care about the scent of the candle we choose to burn.
He cares about what truly rest in our hearts. He cares that we show love and kindness and invite the poorest of poor in to our hearts.
Jesus walked around with very little possessions and never passed up someone in need. He never avoided eye contact so that He wouldn’t feel uncomfortable with someone who was desperate for mercy.
I look around my home and I’m starting to get a little disgusted. It is full of things. Things that we don’t even realize are here, stacked on shelves and tucked in to drawers. There’s a welcome mat on my porch that is lying.
My friend is sitting outside on the street, desperate for a meal and I seem to think that stopping for 3 minutes and giving him a few dollars is going to make a difference. I’m an idiot. He needs more than my money.
He needs a Savior.
What if Jesus came back like that and I selfishly threw a few dollars at him and said a few kind words.
Not good enough.
I’ve gotten so caught up in myself that I have failed to see how Jesus wants me to live. It’s time for me to take my focus off of the materialistic things that consume me, entice me, lure me and change my focus and get down to what truly matters. God could care less what I show up to church wearing, He care that I show up to church empty of the worldly things that I feel are so important so that He can fill them with heavenly things.
Merciful Father strip me down of the things that weigh me down and that do not allow room for You to fill with the things that truly matter. Change my heart to look more like Yours and less like mine. Put a welcome mat on my heart. Make my wants far less important than others needs. Remind me that the materialistic things that I fill my life with are only taking up space that could be used to fill with You.
In Jesus name,
The three little rubber ducks that I just knew I had to have are still sitting in my car with the price tags on. I think that I’ll go return them and use that space to fill my girls hearts with Jesus instead.