Love My People

In case you didn’t know, I had the awesome joy and privilege of working in a cabinet shop.  Not only did I have the best job in the world, I worked for a man with great integrity and impeccable skills with wood. A true master craftsman.

Needless to say, I sure wish I could have learned some of his skill at crafting. It takes years and patience.  I don’t have a lot of either. Oh, well. I did learn a thing or two.

One thing about cabinet doors, if you want them to work properly, they need to be hinged.  Hinges can be concealed, which means they’re on the inside of the door or they can be exposed.  Now, you can purchase these nifty little gadgets, which clip onto the concealed hinges, to make your cabinet doors close softly, hence the term soft-close doors. That’s just a side note and has nothing to do with this blog.

Back to the hinge.  A hinge not only makes the door work properly it also sets the door placement.  If a hinge is out of alignment, the door will not close properly or you may notice the doors are not aligning.   Just a slight adjustment can make all the difference.  So, in order for a door to open and close properly a hinge system must be correctly installed. Not only does the hinge system need to be correctly installed but the entire movement of the door depends on the hinge.  In other words, the door hinges on the hinge.

In Matthew 20 Jesus is being questioned by the Sadducees and when he finally silenced them the Pharisees got involved.  An expert in the Mosaic Law posed this question to Jesus, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?  And Jesus replied to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself  [that is, unselfishly seek he best and higher good for others] The whole Law and the [writings of the] prophets depend on (hinge on) these two commandments.’ Matthew 20:35-40 (italics mine)

Why is this so important?  Why does it matter?  First of all, the Pharisees were trying to trap Jesus.  Not only does Jesus give the right answer, he goes a step beyond and gives the best answer.  The truth is, if we love God with all of our being, heart, soul and mind.  It’s easy to love others, even those who aren’t like us.

For most of us, me included, it’s a real heart issue.  God knew it would be and that’s why he told the Israelites, to first and foremost love him.  He also understood that everything, both good and evil, flow out of the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 ESV, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick, who can understand it? ”  Therefore, if we will give him our hearts, we give him our all. Lock. Stock. Barrel.

If you’re like me, the “thou shalt nots” will hang you up every time.  I spent far too many years trying to focus on the “thou shalt nots”. I’m one of those that have to prove things for myself.  I’m not a fan of denying myself pleasure or pain and let’s just say, I’ve learned many lessons the hard way.  I should have a Doctorate in the School of Hard Knocks. The soul is where the will resides.  For me, the battle goes on and on.  It’s the innermost part that deep emotion and expression are felt. If He has our soul, our deepest needs are met and our emotions can be kept in check.

One step beyond that is the mind.  For me that’s where the real problem is.  The mind plays tricks on you.  Battles are won and lost in the mind.  Temptation most often begins with a thought.  Giving in is the action to the thought.  How do we control our thoughts?  We don’t.  We have to take, “every thought captive to Him.”  He will give us the ability to control our thoughts, which will in turn will help control our mind.

I find it interesting that while, Amy, my daughter was at the Wailing Wall in Israel, she said God spoke very clearly to her that day and told her, “These are my people, all of them, regardless of race or religion and I want you to love them because you love me.”

She announced after her return that she wanted a tattoo.  She told her dad, “I already know where I want it and what I want it to say.”  Then she proceeded to tell him the story of her experience at the Wailing Wall and she’s going to have the words, “Love My People” written in Hebrew.  She wasn’t 18 and Terry wasn’t willing to sign for her to get one.  Instead he told her to wait for a year and pray about it and make sure that she wanted to do it.

Sure enough the year was almost up and she announced that she still felt to need to get the tattoo and she did.  (Picture above)

The interesting thing is that every time I see her tattoo, I am reminded that God tells me to love Him and love others.

Photo Cedit to WCU athletic photography

 

 

The time his heart grew three sizes

“And what happened then? Well, in Whoville they say that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day” Dr. Seuss

It should come as no surprise that I love Dr. Seuss. I do have four children and my oldest, pictured above, had a passion for books from a very young age. Before he learned to walk, he would crawl with books in his hand asking me to read. So we read and read and read some more. In fact many of the books I memorized as did he but that’s not the point of this blog post.

Ned, my dad, pictured above had the same experience of the Grinch and the above picture reminds me of the time his heart grew three sizes in a day.

One important thing to understand is that Ned has never, and I mean never shied away from speaking his mind. He’s blunt! At any rate, when he found out I was pregnant with Ryan, he was not extremely overwhelmed with excitement. Actually, as I recall, he wasn’t really happy about it at all.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want grandchildren, he just didn’t think I was old enough or mature enough to be having a child. He was also concerned that I had not been married long enough and was concerned the marriage may not work.

He didn’t meet Ryan until he was three months old. You see, Ryan was born in Bremerton, Washington, my Mom and Grandmother were the only two of my family to meet Ryan, before we traveled to North Carolina.

Ryan and I stayed in North Carolina for about six weeks before returning to our home in Washington. Needless to say, it only took about a day for Ned to get attached to this little fella and the longer we stayed the more attached he became.

Two days before our departure is the first time I remember ever seeing Ned cry. He broke down like a baby and cried because his heart had grown so in love with his first grandchild. It hurt his heart not knowing how long he would have to go before seeing him again. That’s how I know that his heart grew three sizes the day they first met.

The above picture is taken from that time period and a great reminder that sometimes the greatest gifts of love come in the smallest of packages.

Was it worth it?

I’ve been avoiding this post like the plaque. A few weeks ago when God began churning my heart, I told Him, “Not now”. Yes, like I’ve said before delayed obedience is disobedience and I disobeyed.

I think as I write you will see why I avoided writing. However, the urge is so great within me, I can no longer resist.

As you know my biological father died when I was 7. He died from Melanoma and you can read some of his story in my blog post, My sweetest sorrow.

Now, we are at another crossroads with cancer. My stepfather, Ned. He was diagnosed 18 months ago with Stage 4 Atypical Non-small cell adenocarcinoma lung cancer. It sucks. I’m just not going to sugar coat anything about it.

A few months back, well technically a few years ago God began to stir this thought and idea about these two men I have had to privilege of calling Dad.

First you must understand the first to understand the second.

Mack, my dad, had a strong enduring faith in God. He hoped beyond all hope that one day a cure for Melanoma would be discovered. Knowing full well it would not be in his lifetime, he allowed the doctors at Baptist Hospital (Wake Forest) to try new treatments on him. He was their guinea pig. His philosophy and mindset was this is how he could help others.

Another thing to understand about my dad is that he never shied away from sharing his faith. He firmly grasped and held tight to his belief in Jesus. He had strong convictions about sharing his faith and the above picture is a treasure straight out of his Bible. His desire was to see that no one would perish without knowing Jesus. His chief goal in life.

I believe that through his death his chief goal was reached and realized. When Jesus tells us in John 15:13 “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Bear with me while I explain.

When Mom and Ned began dating Ned wasn’t really living out a full life with Christ at the center. He had made a profession of faith but wasn’t really living a life totally reflective of Christ.

As their relationship began to grow so did his love for Jesus. Eventually leading up to his rededication. In perfect Ned style it was not a haphazard decision, it was done with intent and passion. A decision he will tell you was the best choice he ever made aside from marrying my Mom.

The reality here is that without my dad having died, Ned may have never been able to experience the blessed life that only Jesus can give. If you ask Mack if it was worth dying for he would say, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

FOMO

One evening at the Charleston Harbor, we stood and watched this sailboat.

I have never been on a sailboat. I’m not even sure my stomach could take it.

I found it fascinating to watch as the sailboat came from one direction, which initially seemed so far away, sailed right in front of us and then continued to move in the opposite direction until it was again barely visible.

A thought raced through my head, what have I missed out on by never going sailing? I pondered this thought, it didn’t take long for me to answer my own thought. Nothing, absolutely nothing because I have no desire to go.

The funny thing is that longer I lingered, the harder I tried to convince myself that I must be missing out. They looked like they were having a blast.

Funny how this is the very way we get caught up in things that are not good for us.

We watch others around us. They seem to be having a blast without us. Even though we know it’s beyond anything we desire, we continue to watch and observe. We convince ourselves that we must be missing out on something. In today’s world it’s called FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). So, we cave in, even when we know it is not good for us and most times not even something we have a desire to do. It’s simply because we might be missing out.

It is this fear that leads to many failed marriages and solid relationships. This fear drives wedges, even great chasms in families This fear drives, even the best brightest, to do detestable things.

So, how do we combat this fear of missing out?

Examine the motive. Why is this so compelling? Am I just trying to fit in? Am I afraid my life has or will pass me by?

Examine the heart. “The human heart is deceitful of all things and desperately deceitful. Who really knows how ad it is” Jeremiah 17:9 (NLT) Is there some hurt of pain from your past that had been unresolved that may be the driving force behind your decision.

Count the cost. Every decision both good or bad will cost something. Is it really worth the cost? Is it something you’re willing to live with the rest of your life. Is it a choice you can live with the rest of your life? Be willing to pay the price.

If I had someone tell me this long ago my choices might have been vastly different. Who’s to say? The fact is that I fight my own battles with FOMO even now. This is the reason I’ve always asked God to never let me forget where I came from. It keeps me humble and pliable and keeps my heart from wandering too far away.