Friday, July 26, 2013
My mom is the full time caregiver for my dad who suffers from severe dementia. Mom keeps the atmosphere around the house happy—singing, taking dad for a swim each morning, praying, sharing meals, and going to church at least once a week. Dad moves at a snail’s pace, sometimes doesn’t recognize my mom, and rarely speaks. My active mother does her best at keeping a positive attitude, but she’s not perfect. Sometimes she gets cross with dad and scolds him when he won’t get in the shower, wanders around the house at night, or walks out the front door in the middle of the night. I rarely hear her complain; but at times, she does, and no one would fault her for it.
Recently, following several weeks of Dad not sleeping through the night, mom got into her bed and hoped this would be a night free of interruptions. As usual, she left the nightlight on in the attached bathroom and the light on in the hallway with the bedroom door open. In case dad got up, she didn’t want him to fall.
She noticed something unusual as she pulled the sheets back—the top sheet was white. Normally, her sheets were navy blue and sure enough, the fitted sheet and pillowcase were navy blue. She wasn’t sure how a white top sheet got on her bed. Had the maid done it? But, she didn’t own any white sheets and she had specifically told her maid not to change the sheets on her bed.
Mom, tired and baffled, lifted the sheet up to the light to make sure her eyes weren’t deceiving her. Sure enough, she could see the light through the bright white sheet. As she closed her eyes to go to sleep, she prayed that she wasn’t going blind!
In the morning, she woke up and realized the top sheet was navy blue. Knowing her experience was real, she wondered if somehow it was a message from God. She prayed, “God, what does this mean?”
Immediately, the Holy Spirit spoke to her. “Bonnie, this is how I see you. You are covered in righteousness and purity. I don’t see the times you are cross with John. I don’t see the times you get short with him or wish things were different. I see a beautiful, righteous woman who is filled with pure love. You are doing my work and it’s beautiful to me.”
As my mom shared this story with me, we both cried. I had to withhold myself, because I was at work when she told me.
She finished her story by reminding me of the verse in Is. 1:18, "Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.”
This is how God sees my mother. If you know Jesus, this is how He sees you too.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
My boys and I were on a mission—spend the afternoon at the beach. My nineteen-year-old beach-loving son was home for a brief visit. I was determined to take him to our favorite local spot. My thirteen-year-old son was good-to-go. My sixteen-year-old daughter looked outside and decided to stay home. Did I mention it was raining?
The forecast for the entire week was rain. In the midst of the dismal predictions, this particular afternoon forecast was better: a 30% chance of rain. That meant there was a 70% chance for sun!
So off we went . . . in the pouring rain.
Cue the lightning.
And the roaring thunder.
It seemed ridiculous to be driving to the oceanfront wearing our bathing suits and beach clothes--our car packed with towels, sunblock & a drink cooler--in the midst of a thunderstorm.
I decided it was a good time for a Bible lesson. “Boys, this is what faith looks like. You believe it’s going to be sunny. But it’s raining. The facts say 70% chance of sun, but you only see rain. But, as Christians, we don’t go by what we see.* The Bible says we walk by faith and not by sight. We’re going to believe that when we get to the beach, it’s going to stop raining.” And I might have even quoted Heb. 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
The boys nodded in agreement and expressed no concerns. (What? I thought to myself, No eye-rolling? No grumbling? No teasing me for giving them a Bible lecture? What?!) Instead, they broke open the snacks and cranked up some beach tunes. I silently pleaded with God, “Ok, Lord. You have to stop this rain! I just told my boys what faith is . . . you have to come through! Help!”
As we neared the beach, it’s as if the storm cloud was following us. I increased my windshield wipers to high speed. Looking at the ominous horizon, I felt like Richard Dreyfuss in What About Bob. (The scene where he looks out the window at the pouring rain . . . desperate for Bob Wiley to finally leave and walk home. LOVE that movie!) But the rain continued despite my inward pleading with God.
By the time we entered the beach parking lot, there was only light drizzle. But the attendant shook her head as we approached, “Everyone’s just been informed to leave the beach. There’s lighting & thunder.”
I pulled in and parked anyway. I announced with confidence, “Boys, we’re going to sit here and wait for the storm to pass. It will.” To my delight and shock, the boys agreed.
As we sat and watched the storm, my faith began to grow. I was reminded of the words to the Casting Crown song, “Praise You in This Storm.”
I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining
As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away**
So, as I listened to the thunder and watched the magnificent storm clouds roll by, I silently praised God—for his creative genius (let’s face it, storms can be beautiful, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring sights to behold!), for an afternoon off of work, for some quality times with my boys, for teenagers who chose not to complain, etc.
An hour later, we got out of the car and found a perfect spot on an empty beach. The sky cleared and we enjoyed a wonderful time together. Before we left, I took a walk along the waters edge, giving thanks to my faithful God who’d reminded me of a few things that day:
- The storms in our life are brief. They will pass.
I’m pretty sure God was smiling & laughing at my forty minute drive in the pouring rain to visit one of His beaches.
*2 Cor. 5:7
**"Praise You In This Storm" was written by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms
Thursday, July 11, 2013
I’ll never forget attending my first pastor’s wives retreat. It was one of the most miserable weekends of my life. I went with our lead pastor’s wife, who was shy in new situations. As a twenty-something youth pastor’s wife, I couldn’t wait to meet some other ladies and glean from their experiences.
Sadly, no one talked to us or made any eye contact. I realized I shouldn’t wait for someone to talk to us. I needed to start the conversation. So, at dinner, at breaks, etc., I tried to meet some ladies. Let me emphasize—tried. And failed miserably. I even tried to steer the conversation toward getting us an invite on a group-shopping excursion. No luck. That was the most intimidating and unfriendly group of women I’ve ever come across!
Since then, I’ve gone overboard to try and be friendly. I can instantly spot a new person and my heart goes out to them—the uncertainty in their body language; the looking around for direction while trying not to attract attention. I make every attempt to connect with that person. My goal: engage them in conversation, uncover a little of their story, and connect them with someone like them. Hopefully, they will lose that “awkward” feeling and move toward the “I belong” feeling. I think I’m a very friendly pastor’s wife.
But, there are other areas of ministry where I don’t feel so confident. I can speak to new people, but I’m not that funny. I know other pastor’s wives who attract people like a magnet because they’re so fun to be around. I can teach, but I’m not exactly a Bobbie Houston or Kay Warren. I can plan events, but they’re not too impressive. I know other pastor’s wives whose conferences and events attract thousands of women. I can . . . well, the list could go on and on. In the end, comparing myself to other pastor’s wives is a dangerous trap and I’ve learned not to go there.
Pastors’ wives can come in all personality types—funny, warm, introverted, analytical, engaging, dramatic, serious, etc. They can have various talents—singing, playing an instrument, teaching, writing, helping, administrating, serving, speaking, organizing, leading, etc. We are all ages, all races, all shapes and sizes. Back in my Dad’s day he wanted to marry a beautiful woman who could play the piano, sing, teach Sunday school, and entertain. He got ALL that and more in my Mom. Thankfully, my husband was not looking for all that, or he would NOT have picked me!
God has handpicked you to complement your husband in ministry. You are a team, and together your gifts go hand-in-hand to accomplish the Kingdom work that God has assigned both of you. Everything about you is exactly right! That doesn’t mean we don’t seek to improve ourselves to become more like Christ. It means we will learn to appreciate the way God intentionally designed us for the life He’s called us to live.
I love how The Message puts it:
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (Galatians 5:25-26)