Saturday, July 25, 2009

Repost: God is Good

I originally posted the following on February 3, 2009 but I believe it to be a true depiction of my thoughts these days. Someone who will always remain close to my heart was diagnosed with Stage 4 Bone Cancer. She has weeks to live.

She is nearing the time of her departure, unless God works a miracle to keep her on this earth a little longer. But her reward in heaven is great. If it hadn't been for this dear soul, I would not be a believer in Christ. I feel I owe a level of gratitude nothing on earth can compare to. And that's one more reason I look forward to seeing her in heaven one day.

I grieve but not as one who has no hope. I grieve for her children, her husband, her young grand child, her pain. But I hope in the promise of eternal life. May God comfort their hearts and restore their pain with peace...


It's one of those subjects most of us avoid talking about. It makes us uncomfortable. Uneasy. Sometimes fearful. The unknown of what our future holds is too heavy to think about.

But death is just part of life, really.

It's ironic how death can effect you even if you or none of your loved ones die. It can be a story told to you by a friend. An article in the newspaper. A glance at the obituaries.

What always gets me are the "untimely" deaths as we seem to classify any death that happens before age 75. And we stumble around, grappling in the reality of the cruelty of death and ask, "Why God?"

While observing the most tragic story I have ever heard, I kept stuttering those 2 little words... "Why God?" And then it dawned on me as I reflected on the brevity of life, the cruelty of death and the utter desire for destruction that the Evil One has for each one of us, God is not the author of confusion. He does not find joy in tormenting our lives with sorrow. He is not even capable of filling our lives with sorrow. He is a God of good.

In the beginning of time, God gave man free choice. We have the right to choose what we like. What we don't like. What we want. What we don't want. He made a point of proving that we have such a free choice in life when He sent His Son to earth and let us decide what we wanted to do with the Jesus of Nazareth.

And in the process of time, we took the very life of Jesus and wrenched every drop of blood from His body to prove that we were in control. That even God's own Son could not reconcile our vile hearts to the God of Love. And God let us.

What we didn't realize was that every drop of blood that was spent, did not drop into a forgotten vortex of time and eternity. It was collected and saved for the remission of our sins so that even while we were dead in our hearts towards the love of God, that love was still attainable through the very Son we destroyed. That blood was collected for me. For you.

All we had to do was take it in repentance and forgiveness of sin.

But yet we live in a fallen world. We have free choices. We decide our eternal fate. We decide what we will do with that Jesus of Nazareth. And God wills it that way because He gave us that choice.

That choice came when sin entered the world. When the Evil One told the first woman in history that she could be like God if she just disobeyed His one simple command, man then became like God. Since that day, we see the destruction of evil and we see the glory of good. Not to the extent that God does but close enough to understand that God obviously had the greater knowledge of such matters to begin with. We have regretted everyday since that desire to be like God. To know like God. To see like God. We can't handle the reality of cruelty. Of death. Of pain. Of loss.

We are human. We lack the infinite ability of thinking powers that move us on from today. That give us a glimpse into the future. We work to put food on our tables just for today. We work to bring up the stock market. We work to avoid the probability of death. Of grief. Of pain. But, God's work involves an eternal life that far expands a drop of the drop of the tiniest droplet in the expansive bucket of time.

In God's world, time has no end. In our world, time is everything. And when time ends for a living soul on earth, death has won. We can't contemplate the cruelty of separation. Of loss. Of grief so sharp that even taking a breath of air is an effort beyond a natural ability to just breathe.
Then we ask, "Why God?"

And God sits on His throne comforting broken hearts and grieving for the loss of our joy and wishing we could understand as He does. To understand that when sin came into the world, our free will forced the process of life and death. That pain and suffering was not His plan. That God did not make man to be alone.

Satan is the prince and the power of the air. Yet God is the life that lives within us.... "... And God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Just like we forced the very life out of God's Son and assumed we had finally conquered a power greater than us, so Satan moves to destroy our physical lives in hopes of conquering a power greater than himself. He is the accuser of the brethren. The crux of all evil. The end of all good. His motive is to condemn, break down and destroy.

The capability of God to protect and defend us is often confined to the eternal soul. God promised us everlasting life and that life is beyond the kingdom of this world. And He protects and keeps our hearts for His kingdom. His power. His glory. Life on earth is a passage to Heaven and God's will is that none would perish but that all would have eternal life. We don't live in eternal life until we soar beyond the confines of human flesh and blood.

The blessing of love. The companionship of marriage. The beauty of life manifested in the birth of a child are all the goodness of God that can still be enjoyed in a sin-fallen world. They give us a taste of perfection and what our bodies were created for: eternal life.

But, we will never understand death while we still live. Death is a comprehension of knowledge beyond the human brain of our understanding. We were not designed to know death. To experience death. To see death. To cause death. Man is a "living soul" and God's design made it that way. We can not embrace death because nothing within us can welcome the shards of pain that death is.

The fact that death hurts is because we are not inoculated to it's powers. It was never intended to be understood but because of our free choice over the process of time, we have all experienced death in some way. Whether through a family member or a close friend or a spouse, death has visited each one of us.

When the "Why God" questions crowd our minds, the reality that God does not design sorrow and does not thrive in our grief should be ever present on our mind. Considering we live in such a sin-sick and fallen world, we should ask "Why God?" when we close our eyes at night in the arms of our lover. When we go to sleep knowing that all is well in the world we live in and the circle of people we inhabit.

But, since we think it's normal to experience complete goodness, we don't notice the luxuries of life like health and safety and the love of a life-long spouse. Why? Because God created us to live, to be, to desire, to have everything good.

And death is not a part He originally created us to have in His perfect blue-print of creation. Because death is cruel. Death hurts. Death separates. Death destroys. Death is the epitome of evil. It is the opposite of good.

We will never understand the purpose and planning of death. Why? Because only God has conquered death. Because God is only good.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


If I could, I would take a class that would give me an education on the #1 important ingredient to life, health and the pursuit of happiness. And that ingredient I would learn would be called:


My highly educated teacher would lecture on the following statement:

"We all realize that there are more than just ONE important ingredient to life just like there's more than one important ingredient in chocolate chip cookies. Take flour for example... flour is usually the first ingredient listed on the recipe requirements for cookies. We all know that. Another important addition is baking soda because it's vital to the leaven needed to produce a slight raise in the structure of the cookie itself. The chemistry the baking soda produces causes the cookie to manufacture fibers in which it raises at a certain temperature and then conforms and holds to the shape it grew to. We also need sugar. Sugar appeals to the taste buds and takes the cookie out of the "health food" category and puts the cookie in a "dessert food" category. This is important to the life and welfare of the cookie because how many meals in our country today automatically offer a "health menu" at the end of the entree? None. But you will find a "dessert menu" offered at most diners today. This is important to the production and consumption of each individual cookie destined to be created. But chocolate... chocolate is vital to the purpose, the value and the final completion of the chocolate chip cookie. What would the blend of flour and baking soda and sugar be without chocolate chips? It would be a lump of flour, baking soda and sugar. This is proof we need chocolate, students."

Of course, the point of the professor would be understood by all and it would so obviously apply to the topic in our class that day: Flexibility. It would also apply to any student studying how to become a professional chocolate chip cookie maker. And it would appeal to the general public that insists on funding the production and education of good chocolate. It would be a great class to take because so many people with so many different educational pursuits, could benefit from such a knowledgeable professor.

The tests I'd take after that class would reflect my understanding of the concept of Flexibility through the professor's thorough presentation and I would probably pass the test with flying colors... like a parrot passes by high in the sky.

My education of this would give me strong beliefs that being flexible should effect our everyday life like the h2O we drink effects our general health. Without flexibility, we will never learn how to bend over backwards. And we all know how handy it is to bend over backwards when we need to reach the floor behind us without turning around

Flexibility will influence the following:

How and when we look at freedom... "Do I need this shower or am I just looking for a break?"

How and why we look at fat... "Do I need to lose weight or do I just not like the way my stomach bulges and folds and hangs over my waistline."

How and where we look for fun... "Is there true purpose in an expensive vacation or do I just not like getting the mail everyday?"

How and what we call our favorite... "Am I eating this ice cream because I like it or is it truly my favorite?"

These and other attributes play into how we're flexible.

When we're flexible, we eat ice cream because we need a break and can't find the bathroom under the pile of toilet paper the two year old piled in the toilet.

When we're flexible, we walk to the mailbox every week or two so we can check the "in a weekly exercise program" box on the doctor's form.

When we're flexible, we enjoy noticing the way fat clings to our bodies like a school of jelly fish because it helps take our mind off the beach side vacation we'd really like to go on.

When we're flexible, we enjoy being cooped up for days in our house with sick kids because we embrace the slogan, "Freedom is never free."

Flexibility lends itself in many different ways to our perspectives, our entertainment views, our attitudes and our over all mental health.

Like when your daughter comes gasping and banging and pounding on the door, hardly able to catch her breath so she can scream hysterically tenderly call for her mother. And you get to the door and you find her wildly hopping on her feet like she's painfully jumping on hot coals. You notice she's gasping and huffing like something horrible is happening and you realize she's possibly getting her feet chopped off. And so you ask her what's going on in her young little life as she bounces energetically in a six foot circle on the cement porch floor. And you ask with concern in your voice because you care for her well being and you want her to know that you really do think she's a normal child. You articulate your question carefully as if an acting-out-of-her-mind-child would be able to answer your question sanely because you enunciated the 't' in "WHAT HAPPENED."

And she replies in a breathy way, like a jogger sounds when they're jogging, "H-h-h-h I h-h-h-h-h-h h-h-h-h-hurt h-h-h-h-h-h-h my-hhh-h-h-h fo-h-h-ooo-h-h-ttt h-h-h-h-h." (translated: I hurt my foot.)

You observe her with a keen eye and notice that the foot she's huffing about would have to include at least one of the two feet she's bouncing wildly on.

Because you forgot that stand up comedy usually has some form of sense and sanity to it, and you really don't want to go crazy from all the excitement your children cause in your life, you find yourself laughing hysterically that your child would choose to express her pain in such an energetic and healthy way. While using the banged up, chopped off foot to propel her into the air.
Flexibility gives you the ability to accept the comedy of the situation as you turn to go back inside the house while your banged-up-foot-child bounces off the porch and down the steps, nursing what she believes to be a badly hurt foot. While jumping on it.

Flexibility forces you to see the obvious when all you notice is everything that's not there. Like when your son drills you about the moon as if he thinks you're some scientist or something. He begins a breathless string of questions on if the moon could crush the house and what would happen if you shot the moon and does the moon roll and how does the moon just stay up in the sky and does it just 'stick' there and how big is the moon and can you shoot the moon, can you?

Flexibility helps you see that your child is not a mad scientist even if he has every indication of becoming one.

Flexibility helps you understand the deep and vast brain behind the erratic and usually irrelevant questions.

Flexibility helps you embrace the opportunity of gazing lovingly into the pool of dark brown eyes that look up to you and sincerely believe with all their heart that you, of all people, are the wealth of knowledge they've been searching for all of their 5 little years of life.

Flexibility is such a great tool to carry through life and something everyone should get a PHD on. An education in Flexibility would give great resume references because everyone would want to hire the Flexibility person.

But, I would learn that Flexibility forces you to understand that you will probably never be able to take a class on Flexibility because there is no class out there devoted primarily to the topic of Flexibility. Flexibility is just too hard to teach. Frankly, flexibility does not fit in a box or a text book. It's just too flexible to do so.

But by accepting this hard, cruel fact, I am proving my understanding of Flexibility.

And I'm flexible enough to accept that I will never get an education on the #1 important ingredient for life: Flexibility.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Dogs Really Don't Go To Heaven After All

Sometimes I have those days where nothing seems to go right. I wake up in the morning to the sound of the dog barking and kids frantically chattering. That's a bad sound combination to wake up to. I've learned 2 things from those kinds of days:

#1: Always wake up before the kids

#2: Never sleep later than the kids

As I looked out the window on that bright sunny morning that I just happened to commit both sins mistakes, I saw a limp, wet, thing hanging haphazardly out of the dogs mouth. Upon closer inspection, I learned it was one of our cat's kittens. Only it was missing it's head. And heartbeat. And a few other necessary things needed for life and the pursuit of happiness.

You try waking up and the first thing you see is a headless, dead kitten hanging out of your dog's mouth. Seriously, try it. See if your day turns out nice.

After bucketing the fragment of the once-cute-kitten, we went inside for breakfast. I pretty much had no appetite after seeing that disgusting kitten but the kids seemed undaunted. In their enthusiasm to eat, an entire bag of cereal spilled gracefully all over the badly stained carpeted dining room. Which, reminds me... don't get me started on carpeted dining rooms because I really don't have too many good things to say about them. Or the people who would even think to put carpet in a dining room.

From then on, the day went down hill. If it wasn't one catastrophe, something greater and more dangerous was happening. Of course it sulked me into a "why is this happening to me" mood which made me feel guilty because I frequently like to remind myself of all the true hardship in the world and the fact that I really have NO hardship at all compared to other mothers. Like my poor mother cat... her darling baby had just been killed by a ravaging dog. At least all my children's heads were accounted for.

Seriously though, there are mothers all over who have it far worse than I... either they live in a battle torn country or they have a terminal illness or their children have all died or they have no home to raise their children in or they have no loving father to share parenthood with or they have no understanding of how to raise children or they're lonely childless women, arms aching to hold a child. I knew I didn't have it bad so I scolded myself soundly for sulking.

It was also about 100 degrees that day with full sun. My brave husband was battling a high, hot roof a good distance away and being the good husband that he is, I wanted to reward him with a cool refreshing drink.

So, I packed up the kids, departed from our comfortable air conditioned house and we began our little journey. Now, in case you think this seems mild and peaceful and mothering and kind, I think you should understand that you have no idea what it's like to ride in our van when all the kids are in there. And they're not sleeping. Or eating.

First of all, they yell (in order to be heard, of course), "Cold air on please" over and over until you turn the cold air on. And "cold air on please" literally means, turn the thermostat to 60F and turn the fan on full blast. If you adjust the fan at all or make the air slightly stray from freezing cold, you will immediately hear a simultaneous, "coldaironplease" chorus from the back of the van.

And they do this of course, to survive because if for some reason there should be any trace of anything warm in the van, they will surely die of a complete heat stroke. So we "coldaironplease" all the way to our destination and we "coldaironplease" all the way back home again.

While their hair is standing on end from the force of air blowing on their little heads, they begin a series of lessons. They question about all the deer in the woods. And what would we do if there was a bear trying to get in our house. And how many lions are probably over in that field. And what kind of thing is that tractor pulling? And why do we have to take the semi road? (Interstate) And why are they building a field with all that dirt? And "Mom are you going speed limit?" And what kind of plants are in that field? And what would happen if we turned the head lights off and drove in the dark. And WHO put that moon up there. And do skunks bite?

You must understand that these questions are being bombarded to the front of the van over the roar of the A/C fans. If there's any music or radio on at the same time, they just yell their questions louder. If they can't hear your answer (which is typical), they will repeat the question as many times as they need to. Pretty soon everyone in the van is hollering and yelling in an attempt to achieve ultimate communication and we travel merely down the road like one, little, happy family.

Alex chimes in quoting a phrase from a little "Old McDonald tractor" that goes, "Uh-oh, I can't drive" when you put the cow or the duck or the pig in the driver's seat. Like a broken record, he repeats that over and over from his cracker crumbed carseat.

It usually goes like this until Janae has to puke, which happens on any ride over 5 minutes long. There's usually a mad scramble for a cup or a bag or a box or a something to toss back to her. She then hangs her mouth over the cup or the bag or the box or whatever it is and sits there mostly quietly for the rest of the trip, giving us a running dialogue on the puke situation.

Funny thing how she never has puked in the van, except for the one time she was sick with pneumonia. The puke-into-object is completely psychological and we only give it to her for her own peace of mind. And our sanity. Hearing, "I need to go puke" mile after mile gets a little disturbing. The situation is purely mental on her end but anything to squelch her mad puke panic gives us a better ride. And helps us not go mental with her.

Of course, on such days as we were having that day, Landon and Janae gained another 7 notches in their brain capacity and began to delve into the deep questions. Like "where's hell?" And "how do we go to heaven?" And "how do we sin?" And other such brain exercising questions. While mentally trying to lead my children through the Romans road... or some other such process of salvation, I was rather overwhelmed by their barrage of comments revealing their understanding of the whole situation.

Meanwhile, I was trying to stay on the road and find the job site with no directions. And little cell phone coverage. And no GPS.

I was deep in thought and trying to capture the moment to the best of my ability. I mean seriously, when someone asks you how to know God, don't you just tell them? Realizing that my children are quite young and have a very impressionable mind, I had to make this moment count. I thought I was answering them well enough until I heard Janae start tattling...

"Mom, Landon is going to send me to hell... Landon is going to send me to hell... Mom, Landon is going to send me to hell..."

I scolded Landon and assured Janae no such thing would happen.

He argued back, stating he COULD send her there and would because of what she had done to him. (Some minor offence... I'm sure. I don't remember the details now.)

I explained only God sent people there and actually, He doesn't really send them; they choose to go by not accepting God's love for them.

Landon had a reason why Janae fell into the same category and assured Janae again he was sending her to hell.

In case you are concerned about my son's ability to show love and forgiveness, you need to understand he had no concept of hell at that point. Hell was just a bad place for bad people. And in the process of understanding his mind on the subject and the fact he wanted to send his sister there, whom he really does love, I grew to understand a child's idea of God, hell and heaven.

My mind failed to reach into the innermost parts of my being and recollect a good way of explaining to my kids right then in the middle of our errand HOW bad hell was, WHY people go there and WHAT God has to do with it. So I copped out. I told them both that no one knows for sure where hell is.

The bright and brilliant boy in the back seat exclaimed, "Well, I can find it then and Janae's going there."

Keeping myself upright in my seat in order to keep from pounding my head on the dashboard, I concentrated on not driving off the road. My head pounded from the noise and din of the van and I was overwhelmed with the responsibility of cementing into my children the concept of a loving God, heaven and hell. It was a complex situation and as I explained in even greater detail how BAD hell is and how GOOD God is, I realized even more that in order to really understand the horribleness of hell, you must understand the loveliness of God. And when you understand how loving God is, you have a better understanding of how awful hell is. Both go hand in hand. I kept it simple and filed the whole topic away with plans to bring it up later.

I thought they understood it all better and felt content with the level of understanding in the conversation. I was equally pleased Landon was no longer sending Janae to hell and was relieved to have that discussion over with. As we left the job site, I heard an ongoing argument happening over the din of the fans in the back seat...

"Janae, listen to me: Elly (the dog) is NOT a Christian," Landon said, quite strongly.

She retorted with a smart remark and made Landon even more firm. He sighed heavily to reinforce his statement and said, "NO Janae: dogs CANNOT be Christians!"

Landon seemed to be handling his own but I backed him up. We began to discuss that dogs aren't Christians, therefore they're not going to heaven. Who would've thought on a mild little errand to bring water to their daddy, these 4 and 5 year olds would explode into such complex little beings?

As we "coldaironplease" all the way back home, deeper and more difficult questions circled our little van. After completing our errand and putting the littles down to bed (which was no small feat), Landon and I went out back to bury the kitten.

After listening to him eulogize the kitten all day about how she was his best friend and how nice of cat she was and how much we needed to shoot the dog's brains out since she wasn't thinking when she killed the kitten, I assumed the burial would be somewhat emotional.

It wasn't.

Landon recommended putting a sign up for everyone to read that said 'the kitten was buried here.' When I constructed a little cross, he thought that was a neat sign to put over the kitten's grave. That way no kids would dig a hole right there and end up digging up the kitten, or so he said. He was really concerned about stray neighbor kids digging a random hole that would end up right over that kitten. She stunk badly by this time so Landon wanted to be sure she stayed under the ground where no one could smell her.

As the day drew to a close, I ended up making another errand up to my hard working husband. He asked me to bring supper up to the crew working so I obliged and made the trek again in my "coldaironplease" van with my chattering children. On our way home, I listened to a story on the radio about a man who's wife and 4 children were swept away in a flash flood.

Just like that, his perfect, wonderful world was gone. Gone.

It was pounded into me again that as long as I have my dear children and adoring husband surrounding and overwhelming my life with all their goodness and personality, I am one blessed woman. Never mind the fact I feel like pounding my head on the dashboard. Or wake up to a dead kitten. Or grow tired after listening to a barrage of questions about the moon. Or hell. Or dogs being Christians. Life is good.

And you know what? Even if dogs really don't go to heaven, life still is good.