Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's So Hard To Let Go

This last week was quite an emotional adventure.

I spent a lot of time getting things together for my daughter to go out on her first campout without ME! Without her Dad!

All on her own!

We are not a camping family. My daughter, however, wants to experience camping. So, we actually bought a tent and plan to attempt it as a family this summer.

This is how I planned our first time out as a family. We would find a campsite, with showers, bathrooms, and the place would be very clean, for our first venture out there in the camping world.

So when I found out her scout troop, American Heritage Girls, was doing a camp for the weekend, I signed her up for DAY camp ONLY.

Last Monday, she informed me she wanted to do the overnight camp, not just day camp. As the week went on with the (clear my throat here) “guidance” of my parents, family, etc…my no...Then my maybe...was turned into an "OKAY" with a groan.

My daughter was super excited.

Many hands went into getting everything together for her overnight camping trip.

And many prayers went up as I thought of my daughter at camp without me, without my husband.
An amazing thing happened though…I did wake up a few times thinking of all the horrible things that could happen to her while she was sleeping at camp, hiking in the woods, sitting by the fire, and hanging out by the water.

BUT…I also was able to put those things into God’s hands much easier than I ever have before.
What came to my mind while I was worrying about the horrible things my imagination had conjured up was…

To meditate on good and holy things as it says in Philippians 4:6-9;
"6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
To truly cast my cares upon Him, and let Him handle them. (1 Peter 5:7)

When I looked at my daughter, I realized, God has a plan of His own for her, and all of my worrying will not stop her last days on this earth from happening. He already knows her days from beginning to end.

I am not to meditate on the horrible things. Yes, I am to be WISE. To teach her how to handle herself, but God is the one that is her protector, her shield, her savior, her healer, and He is her God.

Do I trust Him with those I love?

As much as I didn’t want her to go…I wanted her to go. I decided to think of the fun she would have and I got things together so she would be prepared for what was ahead. I thought of the things she would experience and the relationships she would develop on her own, and the many memories that would come from a time hanging out with the girls.

One morning about a month ago, my friend and I were taking a walk that led us downtown. We stood on the sidewalk contemplating whether to get a coffee or just keep walking. As I looked down at the sidewalk in thought, two pairs of shoes walked by, close together…a pair of dress shoes, and a pair of tennis shoes.

I chased those shoes down and got permission to take a picture.

Come to find out…the shoes belonged to a mother and her daughter. The mom was in tennis shoes and the daughter was in dress shoes.This picture spoke volumes to me.

As a mom, we start out carrying our children everywhere they go.

Then we stand near and watch as they struggle to take their first steps.

We hold their hands and lead them.

And we walk beside them taking care of many details they have absolutely no clue about as they go through their daily life.

We walk with them hoping they will stay on the road we started them on or possibly find an even better one than we dream for them to travel.

And then there are those times in all different types of seasons and different types of ways…
We stand back and we watch them take a path we have no idea where it will lead.

As a mom, I walk beside my daughter, but God is within her.

And my trust must be in Him and where He will lead her.

Sometimes it’s so hard to let go.

Yes, when we arrived at the campground after driving down a muddy, narrow, curvy road, and walked on a muddy path, almost a mile to the campsite through the woods, and then  discovered the place needed to be swept out from bugs, and the bathroom was almost a mile away…I struggled. I wanted to hold on to her so tight.

But she wanted me to let her go.

I quickly tried to cover all the bases so she would have everything she needed.

She wanted me to know she was okay and could handle it.

My sister pulled me from the campsite to soon.

But then isn’t it always too soon when you leave your child to experience yet another thing on their own?

After hugs and kisses goodbye the walk back to the car was emotional for me, knowing we were at yet another stage of growth, it is always bittersweet, I was sad to let go, yet excited and proud about what she can or may do.

Despite the tears, I felt peaceful…because I knew God was with her even when I wasn’t.

God never sleeps. I do.

God is in her. I’m not.

God sees and hears all things. I don’t.

God and I both love her, but I could never love her the way He does.

And God is in me. He walked with me as I went on my adventure of putting worry down and focusing on what is around me and what I could take care of and trusting Him with the rest. I can’t do anything about the rest.

A few hours later I got a picture…

That smile was worth setting down my worry and getting her prepared for a great adventure in her life.

God took care of all of the rest.

I'd love to hear your comments about how God has helped you to let go and trust Him.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Letters From A Soldier

Author’s disclaimer – This is a fiction story. I just happen to think about what this soldier might have experienced and wrote a completely fictional story about it. I am not a Bible historian or any other thing like that, just a fiction writer.

Letters From A Soldier
To the followers of the man Jesus,

I am writing this letter in the hopes it will be kept in the upmost confidence. I am certainly under the belief, none of you owe me that respect, and completely understand if you were to turn this letter over to m,y commanding officer.
With that in mind, I have been under such dire duress since the day the man named Jesus was crucified I am willing to face any consequences to come, if only I may make clear to you what I discovered on that day.

I can still see his eyes.
After his scourging, in which he should have died from. We stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. Then we came up with the idea of making him a crown. It was a crown of thorns and we shoved it into his scalp.

It was my hands that made sure it was on tight.
Through the swollen, cut up skin on his face, our eyes connected and my heart flipped in my chest. I reeled back, away from the mocking and laughing. Never had I seen such eyes. I can only say instead of anger or retaliation there was compassion. I watched unable to enjoy the game any longer. I won’t tire you of the other hideous things done to him.

As we were walking up to Golgotha, for the crucifixions, Jesus could no longer carry his cross. I grabbed someone from the crowd to help him. His back looked like his skin had been shredded by lion’s.
I need to mention, through everything that happened to him, Jesus never cursed at us but remained silent.

When we threw the men down on the crosses, the other two criminals cursed and said vile things. He was silent. As I put the nail to his hand and hammered it in, his body writhed in pain. Before I moved to attach his feet to the cross, through his swollen eyelids I saw something I had never seen before. I fell to my knees by his feet and forced myself to hammer the nail in. My heart pounded in my ears fast and hard, I’d never experienced anything like that before.
I thought and thought about what I saw, and how it bothered me so much, now I know it to be a look of pure innocence.

I won’t further distress you with the details of his horrible death, except to say I normally make a sport out of torturing and jeering, however, as I stood under his cross I couldn’t participate.  
I watched his mother and her friend with one of his followers. Her tears stirred my heart. I’ve never cared or had compassion before.

In saying all of this, I have not reached the most important part of my letter. As I stood guarding his cross, listening to people who passed by blaspheming him, the chief priest and scribes mocking him, Jesus spoke these words, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

I am a hard soldier with many responsibilities and no time for feelings or fear. At that moment my entire body went limp with a fear like I had never experienced even in the toughest positions I have found myself in.
I wondered, “Who is this man? No cursing, pure innocent eyes, compassion and now he’s asking someone to forgive us?”

It was a very dark afternoon. Literally. The sky turned dark at noon.
He died. The earth shook, rocks were split, and the veil tore in the temple. I knew now that this man was truly the Son of God.

My body started to shake uncontrollably. What had I done? I had been a part of torturing and crucifying the Son of God.
I expected some disaster to fall upon me.

As of yet, no disaster has happened. I feel though I must confess to you, Jesus is who he professed himself to be, and is the Son of God, King of the Jews.
I have heard that Jesus somehow miraculously came back to life again, like that man Lazarus. Although, rumor has it he was the one to raise Lazarus, however, I have no report of who raised Jesus. I would be in your debt if somehow I could be allowed to talk with him. To apologize for what I have done. I know there isn’t hope for me beyond that but, it would help to ease the continual guilt I have lived with these past few weeks.



To the followers of the man Jesus,
It hasn’t been many days since I sent you my letter. I waited in nervous anticipation for either a response or for someone to come knocking down my door to end my life at my professing Jesus to be the Son of God. I am very appreciative of your quick reply.

The words you have written to me move my heart in yet another way I have never experienced before. I find the hard man I was, slipping away. Since the day He died, a funny tenderness is developing in my heart. No longer do I have the heart of a soldier.
You have said Jesus not only came to save the Jews but, to save the gentiles, of which I am one. You have also said that if I believe in this Jesus, and turn from my sinful ways, I will be saved eternally. Though I die physically, I will not die spiritually but go on to live with him in a place called heaven. Who am I to receive such a gift? I am the one who nailed him to the cross. I am not worthy to receive anything. If only I could apologize.


To the followers of the man Jesus,

I received your reply again a few days ago. Since then I have been wrestling with my very self. Your words are more than any man like me should be allowed to hear.
You speak of prophecies of a messiah to come to save the world. You speak of a babe that was born to a virgin girl many years ago. I remember when a babe was born and the king was threatened. I was young and remember many soldiers were sent to kill any male under the age of two. It amazes me this Jesus survived the massacre.

You speak of Jesus coming to his own and being rejected, yet he does not reject them.
You speak of a gift that Jesus has for me. If I believe.

I wrestle as I do not deserve this, yet you speak that yes, I physically nailed Jesus to the cross, but it wasn’t just me that nailed him to the cross, but the sins of the entire world.
Jesus came to this earth as a child one night and grew into a man and knew no sin. He submitted to the will of the heavenly father and died for the sins of the entire world. If only they would believe in and follow him.

You say, I am not the only guilty one who will not pay the price of my sin. Yet, I must believe.
I confess to you, I believe and wish I could leave my station as a soldier and serve Jesus. The man with no sin who is a gift for me no matter what I have done to him.

I will somehow follow him, all the days of my life.


My dear family,
Many years ago, a child was born in Bethlehem, to a virgin girl named Mary. When she went to deliver her child there was no room for them anywhere. This child was born in a stable. A star shone bright in the sky and shepherds watching their flock that night came and bore witness of this child. Wise men came bearing gifts.

His life was threatened and his parents were directed by God to leave that place. He survived the massacre of many children.
He was raised in the town of Nazareth. When he was older he left his family and walked among his people, speaking messages of love and bringing healing to many.

He told of the only way to the heavenly Father. It was to believe in Him.
He was arrested and tortured and then crucified, though he was a sinless man. I was a part of the torture and mockery and crucifixion. I was a witness to his love and compassion. I never heard him curse, but I did hear him ask his Father to forgive us for we didn’t know what we were doing.

And I didn’t.
He died and then came back to life three days later. He then ascended to heaven. He is going to return some day for those who believe in Him and bring them to his home.

I didn’t deserve the forgiveness or gift he has given me. Still, as I believe in Him, He is changing me into a new man, a gentle, kind, forgiving, and loving man.
No matter what cost this letter may bring to my life, I needed to let you know the truth. Jesus said the truth will set you free. And I am free indeed. My prayer is for you to believe also.


Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Report

The other day, dark scary looking clouds rolled in and we had a rainstorm with hail and loud thunder. I am not a lover of thunderstorms.

The following morning though, I opened my front door to go outside, it was quite a change from the day before. The birds were singing, skies were blue and it smelled nice and fresh out.

A person never knows what a new day will bring.

Like the day I answered the phone and the doctor’s office informed me they were sending me to a specialist due to some question on the report they had received from a test I had taken. Alarm bells rang loud for me. I looked up the reason they had given me on the internet and couldn’t find anything.

So I had to wait. Waiting can be hard. Controlling my imagination during the waiting time can be harder.

A few days later, I received the report in the mail with a note from the doctor again explaining I would need to be referred on to a specialist.

My eyes got wide with fear and my heart pounded when I read the report. It looked terrifying. It definitely wasn't something I was expecting. Especially since I was feeling so good.

Googled some of the findings on my phone and it only made me feel worse.  It was very vague, some people with the same findings only needed to be watched by the specialist.Through exercise and less stress things could go on pretty good. Other’s needed surgery or medication and well some people…

One very small comfort was that it was common to be found at my age. Gulp.That was a very, very, small comfort.

That night I tried not to worry. I prayed instead. Then I worried. I prayed. I was afraid of what could happen to me because of the findings. I needed to have sleep and not be stressed out in order to help the situation. Uh…okay.

I had a very fitful sleep. Quite a few times, I would fall asleep and then suddenly awaken with the thought of what had been found in the test. I tried not to think of the worst case scenario and I would hope and I would pray, pray, pray it would not happen to me.
When I woke up in the morning, I was tired, but I was so incredibly happy that not one of my worries happened during the night and I was alive and well, able to start another day.

I felt blessed to have the entire day ahead of me. Thank you God was in my mind all day. I decided to quit worrying. When I see the specialist, he can give me facts, instead of what I am conjuring up in my mind.

So now…this day is a gift. A wonderful gift. I don’t want to waste time worrying.

Over a couple thousand years ago, there were a group of men and women who received a report. A final report.

Jesus is dead.

When I read about the disciples hiding in fear after Jesus death, I try to envision how they felt and what thoughts were going through their mind.

Jesus was their leader. Their teacher. They had followed him everyday and night for a couple of years. He was the hope for their future. And now He was gone.

What about Peter? During his last moment with the Lord, he had denied even knowing him. Peter went away and wept. Can you imagine the added anguish when he heard Jesus had died.

Have you ever said the wrong thing to someone and just totally regretted it and didn't have a way to fix it?

Well Peter had absolutely no way to fix his mistake. Jesus was gone.

The others had ran and hid in fear when Jesus had been arrested. Can you imagine their fear now that their leader had been killed? Surely, the thought of “who’s next?” ran through their mind.

Then there was John who watched Jesus die. He was there during the earthquake, the thunder, and the darkness after the death of Jesus.

It may have been dark on the outside but can you imagine how dark he felt inside from the grief and horror of watching what happened to his Lord?

Friday and Saturday were probably very dark, long, lonely days for the followers of Jesus. On Sunday, I can only assume how weary they felt dealing with the report of Jesus death.

But then that Sunday morning, the women who went to attend to Jesus returned from His grave, excited, full of good news.

“He’s alive!” Not only that, Jesus true to who He was, made sure to tell the ladies to let Peter know he was alive.  Jesus obviously wasn't mad at Peter. Peter was still part of his crowd!

I bet, even though some of them thought the women were loco, that a bit of hope and light started to shine in that room after their report. 

Can you step back into time and imagine the moment?!

Then Peter and John took off and raced to Jesus’s grave to discover…THE GOOD REPORT WAS TRUE!

It’s TRUE!

Jesus is not dead. He is truly alive.

Though the time was dark.

The time was painful.

The time was hopeless.

Little did his disciples and other followers know…Jesus was doing a MIGHTY work.

He came back to his people and they went and spread the good news. Because that is what it is. Jesus came to set the captives free. Jesus paid the price for all of our wrongs.

He loves us. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to follow Him, and He has a great place for us to go. When our path here on earth leads to it’s end, He leads us right into His kingdom.

Yes, storms roll in, bad reports come our way, pain, suffering, it’s all a part of life. But so is joy, peace, comfort, and love. And Jesus makes all of those things, good and bad, better by His touch.

When the clouds roll in, the thunder roars and the lightning strikes, the sun shines above it all. It consistently shines even during the storms.

Jesus is always there even during our storms.

Happy Easter!

Click on the link below to hear Beautiful Things by Gungor.

Beautiful Things by Gungor

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I Thought I Knew You

Sometimes my friends surprise me.

I will think I know them and suddenly they reveal something about themselves that will shock me because…I thought I knew them.

My friend who always wears high heels, shared a story while we were on a walk one day, about the time she rock climbed up the side of a mountain. It was a very treacherous climb. I was shocked considering she always wears heels, and her hair is curled just so, basically she looks like a model.

I have a quiet friend who can turn into the life of the party. I also have a very talkative friend who can suddenly act quite shy.

Or then there is that moment where a friend will “step up” in a way they never have before, or would be expected to, and it is a really incredible surprise.

I found myself thinking about this quite a bit this last week and since this is Holy week, I’ve been contemplating how I used to have some ideas about God and faith that are quite different now.

Last night was Good Friday. The story of Jesus crucifixion was read, songs were sung, and we partook in communion.

That’s basically how it used to affect me. I went, we did all the church stuff, we left. Sure sometimes, I would try harder to be good afterward, but that was about it.

Now, though, I don’t just go, I hear. And it remains an eye opening experience for me.

The Bible verse, “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but be saved,” is really portrayed in the crucifixion story.

When I hear the story and think of Jesus standing there receiving the abuse, when he had all the power in the world to stop it, but instead, he plowed through to accomplish the Fathers plan, it amazes me.

Just a few things…they spit in his face.

Uh disgusting!…how would you react if someone spit in your face? How would it make you feel?
At the time, Jesus was fully God in a flesh body. He felt everything we feel.

They slugged him in the face and ridiculed him.

He was sent to be flogged, which in the process rips chunks of skin out of your back.

When he was brought before the people that he came to give his life for, they rejected him and asked for a terrorist to be freed instead of him. Instead of the man who walked among them and healed their sick, freed them from demons and brought them the message of love and acceptance.

They took thorns and made a crown and shoved it on his head.

Can you take a moment and imagine the pain. I cannot! I cannot go there.

When we were in Disneyland last year, I banged the top of my head on a cart, it was so painful. I can’t even tell you how much it hurt.

The thought of someone shoving big thorns in my head…I can’t even go there.

Jesus suffered a tremendous amount of brutality, ridicule, then rejection.

After all of that torture they made him carry his cross to his own crucifixion. He was so weak he couldn’t do it and someone had to help him.

Then…this part makes me cringe…they hammered nails into his hands…have you ever had a big nail go through your hands? I haven’t but I have had it poked with a pin or a tack and it hurts. So imagine his suffering.

And then…they nail his feet to the cross.

Last year the oak ladder to my daughter’s old bunk bed fell on my foot. The pain was so intense I couldn’t even talk or move.  I held onto my foot in agony.

For Jesus, there was no holding on to anything, his hands were nailed on to the cross and he just had to deal with the pain. Not only that, his back was ripped to shreds and it rubbed against the wood on the cross. His face was pummeled and the crown of thorns was still jabbing into his head. How many times do you think he moved wrong and made those thorns go deeper?  He was unable to move the crown, his hands were nailed in place.

Imagine, just for a moment the intensity of what he went through physically. Just try to imagine it.

And then step out of your imagination and realize…He did that for you. There is no imagining there. It is reality.

That’s how important you are to God the Father. He allowed Jesus to be the sacrifice for you.

Every year it was the Jewish custom to eat the Passover meal. There was a sacrifice for their sins by the blood of the lamb.

Jesus took that lambs place.


There is no other price that can be paid for your sins. He paid it.

He died. And just before he died, in that agonizing position, he asked the Father to forgive them, because they didn’t know what they were doing.


Have you ever been hurt by someone? Has someone ever been mean to you?

It’s hard to forgive when you are still wounded from a person’s assault toward you.
Yet, after everything, Jesus wanted them to be forgiven.

This is an incredible thing.

You are so important that he went through the worse thing ever…and then died…for me, for you.

I am awed. I am amazed.

I saw a movie recently, and no matter what, the hero of the story, protects his girl. Awe! Just love it, so romantic, in the thick of all the action.

But it doesn’t compare to what Jesus did. He died for us, and took our punishment for our wrongs, and wants us to believe it.

There is an end to our story here on earth. And Jesus made sure our end here, leads us to the beginning in eternity with God in heaven.

Reflecting on His sacrifice, I hope you can know how much you are loved, and no matter what you are going through, no matter what you are feeling, you can believe He truly is there for you.

What greater price would you have Him pay, to show you, how much He loves you?