31 December, 2014

Oh to be Known...Again

Another air tragedy forced me to look back and revisit a post I wrote months ago when Flight 370 went missing...and is still missing.

Asia Flight QZ8501 bothers me in the deep, deep recesses of my heart and mind.  How could another air accident occur?  When will it be found?   I think of the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives who just want to hear a voice, to know an answer, to answer a phone and hear a precious voice.  But to look and not find....to search and be void....to not know and be known.  It is truly heartbreaking and I cannot even began to imagine the pain and grief.

John shares a familiar story.  It's a story of seeking while grieving.  A story of looking for a voice who knows my name, your name, the names on AirAsia Flight QZ8501:

12 Mary had returned to the tomb and was standing outside crying. And as she wept, she stooped and looked in and saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying. 
13 “Why are you crying?” the angels asked her.“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him!
15 “Why are you crying?” he asked her. “Whom are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned toward him.
“Master!” she exclaimed. John 20:12-16
One word, 'Mary', is all He spoke.  But she knew the voice, she recognized the love and acceptance.  And she knew the voice KNEW her....all of her....and loved her the same.  Oh, that we could turn around today and hear our Lord say our name out loud.  That one word for each of us.  One word that says, yes, I know your name, your whole name, I know where you are in the world, I have come for you, I have found you, I am here, I adore you just as you are in your pain, in your sorrow and in your joy and laughter.  'Mary!', He said.  And she exclaimed, 'Master'.  Oh, to know His voice and be known.  

Also, He was in plain view.  'She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.' He was standing there in plain view but not as she had expected.  

How many times do I look past Jesus standing right in front of me?  I look for what I want to see.  I look for the answer I want.  I can't see past my pain.  But yet, He will always be right in plain view looking differently than what I expect...but always there.  Always waiting to comfort me in my sorrow, to understand my pain, to hold me, to lead me back to Him.  He understands death and dying.   He understands pain....He lived both.

In my world and your world, there are so many who do not yet know His voice, who do not recognize the sweet sound of Him saying their name.  I daresay that many of the people connected to AirAsia Flight QZ8501 are from places in the world who have not heard of this Jesus.  And perhaps many in North America have heard and re-heard but have now stopped hearing.  Let me have ears to hear.  Amidst New Years, Christmas take-down, more food and football I pray I will get out of my protective bubble of a life and realize the world needs this message...He calls your name.  

I believe He was on that flight with the precious people in their fear and in their death....He called each by name.

Rest in peace AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

23 December, 2014

The Light Display

(Crosspost from adventagain.blogspot.com)
When our kids were little we would bundle them up in their Pj's and blankets and go for a ride to
see the Christmas lights.  We would travel street after street to find the biggest display of brightness.  It was fun and exciting.  There were giggles and there was wide-eyed wonder...until one child crossed into the other's space and the arguing began!  Oh the joys of children!  But oh, how the lights did captivate us.
Conversely, years later my sisters and I would do the very same thing with our elderly mother.  We would bundle her up and travel to the BEST Christmas light display in town.  We would ooh and aah and actually we would sing old Christmas songs with Mama.  This is a favorite memory of mine.  My mama loved to sing and even as her mind might stray in her older years she could always sing and remember the words.  She loved the lights and those trips with her girls. A year ago, December 24, a light went out in my world when my Mama died and it became dark...

This month of pre-Christmas, we've been looking at Nicodemus and his journey to find truth and ask his questions.  He came at night, in the dark, seeking.  It seems he was not actually sure what he was seeking but yet he came and he came asking.  Can we leap to the conclusion that he came to talk with Jesus after he tried life in his own way? He was successful, he was highly educated, he was a respected leader but he was still seeking.  It was as though what he had acquired on his own was not enough.  And so it is with us.  You must be reborn, Jesus told Nicodemus.  But how can this be, he asked.  How indeed?  Accept the ReBorn One.

And lastly, Jesus gives us the final key, the final hope...
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: 
Light has come into the world... John 3:16-19a
It's the light.  The Light has come and the Light comes with no condemnation but to save.  To save Nicodemus.  To save me and you.  I don't know what you wrestle with or what old messages play in your head but I know that this Jesus Nicodemus met offered no condemnation but offered only love.  And I know that is what He offers us today.  Those old, dark messages are transformed by the one, true Light.  How can this be, you again ask?  Because we follow the One who leads and loves.

1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

9 ... they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The Magi too realized that light had come into the world.  They saw the light and began to ask their questions while they too were in the dark.  They traveled a long, difficult distance to seek this light.  Who knows the hardships of their journey or the questions and discussions they must have entertained while they traveled but yet...they kept coming.  They kept traveling forward toward the pure, all-knowing, all-loving, non-condemning light.

God never promised us a care-free easy journey.  He's never said life would be easy.  Let's face it: life is hard, holidays are billed as 'Hallmark' moments but few live up to the hype and hope of that illusion. For our families are filled with Nicodemus', me, you - lost, searching, broken people, living in the dark when the Light has arrived.  I've learned that we cannot truly understand light until we have experienced great darkness.

We started this study coming to Jesus at night in the dark and we end with following the Light to Jesus.

A year has passed since our Mama died.  I guess some would say we lost her and that's partially true.  BUT we lost her to the Light.  As I think back to the day of her death I realize that even as we said goodbye to her the Light began to shine in the crack of my heart.  And today, I will keep traveling toward this great Light. O Holy Light, captivate my heart this Christmas.

17 December, 2014

How Can This Be?

(Crosspost from adventagain.blogspot.com)
Last week I did some Christmas shopping.  The store was fully decorated and Christmas music
played.  The store was not too crowded but certainly full enough!  I passed people and noticed their carts were full like mine.  As I went to checkout I had a bit of a wait.  Surprisingly, I was waiting patiently and then begin to notice the decor and commercial, retail world of Christmas.  At checkout my clerk had to leave for a few minutes and I had the opportunity to grow impatient when I noticed a very ornate, broken set of two-foot tall figurines...Mary and Joseph stood with a slight tilt.  They were gold and red and shining.  As I stood there with Sarah, my daughter, I asked aloud, "Do you think this is what He had in mind?".  How can this be?

When Nicodemus was having his conversation with Jesus he asked the question,
“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked.
“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? John 2:9-12
Again this Christmas season I find myself similar to Nicodemus in some ways.  I am a North American Christ-follower who has learned lessons from the Bible through the teaching of many men and women.  I believe.  I have some knowledge but it's the seeking Jesus in these days of Advent that foil me!  The shops are stocked to overflowing with aisles and aisles of choices. Have you seen the pictures of the Amazon.com warehouses loaded for us Christmas shoppers?  I am hurrying about, running errands, adding a bow, buying that one last gift - repeatedly!  It's too much christmas.  How can this be? From Jesus words I interpret: ' You are a Christ-follower and do you not understand these these things?'

Like Nicodemus, it's in the night when I slow down that I find I come to Him... late in the day and secretly...just me and Him.  He's offered me the Truth and knowledge and guidance and testimony of His life and death and my reborn opportunity.  And yet by my actions I ask over and over, "how can this be?"  How can you truly be the God of the Universe and the God of me?  My brain cannot understand this fully and my actions get consumed in the day-to-day requirements of this life.  And as He spoke words to Nicodemus in full understanding, He too understands me...and you.

The tilted and broken Mary figurine I saw in the store reminded me of her story so I went to reread it in Luke 1.  And lo and behold what I found,
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God....For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:28-35, 37-38
Mary too asked the question, how will this be?  I am thankful today that this Christmas we have the freedom to ask God, "how can it be"?  We see overblown wrappings of commercial christmas and wonder, how can it be? We also see the manger, we sing the songs, we hear the Christmas story...how can You have come to us, how can it be?

I pray the end of Luke 1 on your life and my life today:
Come Holy Spirit by the power of the Most High and overshadow me.  Overshadow the trappings of this Christmas season and the falseness of retail christmas.  Overshadow those who offend me and those I offend.  Overshadow my little world with your great Truth so that the Holy One will be re born in me today.  For Father, your Word will never fail.  Instead of wondering, how can it be, let me shout in my spirit today, "I am the Lord's servant...may your Word be fulfilled in me today.
Amen and Amen

10 December, 2014

Unexpectedly Born Again

(Crosspost from Adventagain.blogspot.com)
As I carefully make my list of gifts and decorations and parties and goings-on I seem to always experience something unexpected.  My best laid plans get upended by some unexpected happening.

Nicodemus seems to have had a similar experience in this part of the story.  As Scott mentioned on Sunday, Nicodemus risked a night visit to see Jesus.  I'm fairly confident that he had played out a scenario in his head of how the visit might go.  He certainly had his opening statement well prepared..."we know you are a teacher who has come from God.  For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."

But the unexpected happened when Jesus responded with such an odd statement.
In reply Jesus declared, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Suddenly the conversation took a turn Nicodemus or us could never have expected.  This Jesus... he's always taking us to the unexpected places where our minds have a hard time bending around His truth.  I begin to look closely at the words in my Bible but specifically the beginning of verse 3.  "In reply Jesus declared..."  To declare means to state emphatically and authoritatively.  Jesus knew this truth to be the essence of his purpose on earth.  Our key to salvation is to accept and confess and acknowledge that He is Savior and God and to be spiritually born again.

I made this born again decision when I was in the 7th grade.  Since that time I've learned a lot in my faith journey or perhaps it might be better said that more has been revealed about my great, daily need for a Savior! So now in my forty-fourth year of being a Christ-follower, I like to think of being born again as also a daily yielding to Him.  The recognition of our great need allows each of us to be remade into the dream God has for us...to be born again every day.

Now unexpectedly, I heard a new whisper this morning while I was writing.  A whisper about the conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus and this Christmas season.  A whisper that said, Jesus was Born Again too.  And in this celebration of Christmas that is exactly what we are celebrating: Jesus being born or His being born again.  I'm confused!  Are you??
In John 1 we learn that "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning."  And then in John 1:14, "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us."

This is why Jesus could speak so authoritatively to Nicodemus for He, Jesus had experienced a rebirth.  A rebirth from leaving his heavenly home to being born to earth through a virgin named Mary.  The God of the universe somehow squeezed Himself into the physical body of a baby and has been born again for us.  Henri Nouwen penned these words regarding Jesus birth: "Our salvation comes from something small, tender, and vulnerable, something hardly noticeable. God, who is the Creator of the Universe, comes to us in smallness, weakness, and hiddenness.   I find this a hopeful message. Somehow, I keep expecting loud and impressive events to convince me and others of God's saving power; but over and over again I am reminded that spectacles, power plays, and big events are the ways of the world. Our temptation is to be distracted by them and made blind."
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
I ask you today to explore what that means for you this Christmas.  The parallel between our call to be born again and the fact of Jesus' birth as a 'born again' event has quite taken me unexpectedly today.

My Christmas lists have overshadowed the fact of Jesus' 'born again' experience in the stable.  The rush from the fields to find the Christ child seems the only appropriate expression.  Rush from what I'm doing today, find Him - the born again God, coming to meet us in our world so that we could finally understand and finally, ultimately FIND Him.  And be born again.

03 December, 2014

We Know

(Cross post from Adventagain.blogspot.com)

"Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

Nicodemus made an important decision that night.  He decided to go.

Earlier this week, Scott gave us a definition of the Pharisees, "a political party, a social movement, and school of thought in the Holy Land during the Second Temple period." Through Scott's writing we were specifically able to glimpse Nicodemus' prestigious role in the Jewish community.  The Pharisees were highly respected as they intimately knew the scriptures and they outwardly professed their faith. These were men who had dedicated their lives to the spiritual.  At the same time, they were human and clearly made mistakes and some really bad decisions.  And somehow this sounds familiar to me.

I must confess to you...the Pharisees of that day may now...be me...and my church.  Some of us have been taught the Bible since we were toddlers.  We've heard sermons and attended Bible study our entire lives.  Is it possible that we've lived in this place of faith for so long that we have come to a place in our hearts of simply going through the motions?  Could that be a Pharisee moment in me?  I don't mean to focus on outward appearances and forget the grace and mercy of our God.  I don't mean to forget the coming of the Savior into the world but it's Dec. 3 and I don't even have a Christmas tree up yet!  And to be almost-totally honest, I blazed through Thanksgiving week with barely a thought of the Savior of the world because I had six days of company in my house, cooking, a dinner party, travel, and football!

So I find myself needing to come to Jesus too.  In the stillness of the night when all is quiet and it is just me and Him.  It is in that place that I am able to unrobe from my Pharisee gown and tell Him my whole truth.  Nicodemus says to Jesus, "we KNOW that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him."

WE KNOW.  I know you have come from God and I know this Christmas season is about your coming to get us and save us.  I know that I and my church get mired in the production and entrapments of Christmas but we know.  We really know who YOU are for no one could do what you've done and not be God.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
    and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” Luke 2:8-15.
We find shepherds who also experienced God at night.  They were terrified but they heard the message and they believed...And they KNEW.  And as a body of believers, the church, in that lonely field that night they looked at each other now realizing the truth and chose to go.  They chose to leave their work, leave the familiar, leave the surrounding expectations and to go see the Savior.  That is exactly what Nicodemus chose also.  He knew Jesus was God.  He chose to leave the entrapments of his prestige and position to go to Jesus.  I wonder if Nicodemus felt an amazing sense of relief and peace as he came to meet Jesus.

Is that my desire?  Is that a choice I will make this December?  Can I choose to leave the familiar and the typical seasonal expectations and live my life as though I really know what the Christmas season represents.  It's a choice I can make to go meet Him.  Do I dare take off the entrapments of christmas-doings?  Can I go into the world around me and tell what I know?  Can you?  Will you?

Let's go to those outside our inner circle who are standing in vacant fields just waiting to hear the message of hope and healing that is only offered in this Christmas.  We know HE has come into our world.  Let's go!

11 November, 2014

My Five Loaves & Two Fish

The leaves in my backyard are showing off.  They are hanging onto the trees just waiting for a gust of wind to take them away.  The color is amazing and the transition has been unspeakably remarkable.  The little young leaves of spring have grown up, aged and are dying before my very eyes.  But what a beautiful journey they have given me.

Recently, I was in a study that focused on the story of Jesus feeding the masses with only five loaves and two fish.  That day a miracle occurred when all 5000+ people were fed and 12 baskets of leftovers were collected.  As often happens, that story has been pinging around in my head this week as I struggled to understand its meaning for my life this week, today, in this minute.  Read below the passage I'm pondering.
15As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
16Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
17“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
18-19“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20-21They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.  The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Matthew 14:15-21 New International Version
The words that have jumped out to me are from verse 16.  Jesus says, "you give them something to eat".  You.  We read that the disciples said, we have nothing except "five loaves of bread and two fish".  After Jesus took all they had and blessed it...truly, it was more than enough.  Actually, it was plentiful and it satisfied, vs. 20.

Do we believe the words of the Bible are for us too?  Can these old stories that we've read perhaps dozens of times have practical life application for me and you?  I believe the answer is YES for why else would we read and study this Word if not to apply it?  Below is the message I get from this age-worn passage.

People surround us and they are hungry, they are seeking to hear more about this faith we profess.  Jesus himself is instructing me to give them something to eat.  In my human-ness I don't see anything I have that could possible meet the needs of so many people.  But what I do have....He will bless....He will use....He will multiply.  Today I want to present my meager five loaves and two fish and watch Him take it and bless it.  In the story, as they ALL ate they were satisfied.  That's me and you too.  We give what we have, He blesses and we all are satisfied.

What do you have?  What is it that you think is too insignificant to offer Him?  What is your five loaves and two fish?

The trees offer all they have.  They know no other option.  They give, He blesses and we are all satisfied.  And the cycle continues.  Let this cycle continue in me, Lord.

02 October, 2014

Hey Mama!

There are many days I miss my Mama.  Last December she went to heaven.  I love thinking about her new, healed, whole body and spirit.  I love imagining her radiant smile.  I especially love knowing that she is in the cloud of witnesses watching me.
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, "Hebrews 12:1 
About a month after Mama died I received a card from a neighborhood friend.  In it were certainly words of love but also a gift card to Home Depot.  Strange, I thought.  But then I read the note enclosed, "Use this to create a memory of your Mom".  Beautiful.  And we did.

We researched, read, consulted and gathered plants for our very first butterfly garden.  We planted and we've had beautiful blooms all summer.  We have loved sitting outside and watching the hummingbirds, bumble bees and yes...finally the butterflies found us.  And they keep coming.

(Now before I go further with this story, buckle up.  Some of you are realists and live by fact not by emotion which is wonderful.   Some of you, will think I've gone "woo-woo" too!)

Often times.....many times.....lots of times when I've been working in my yard or simply walking around my yard, I find a butterfly joins me.  Usually, two beautiful yellow butterflies flutter about me.  But we also have a black butterfly that visits occasionally.   This one always makes me think of my Daddy.  Daddy was so proud of his jet black hair and here I host a black butterfly in my backyard!   They seem to make sure I see them.  I've even experienced a fly-by!  Seriously, I got a very close buzz.  It happens so often now that my simple response has become, "Hey, Mama. Hey, Mama".   It has unburdened my soul.  My butterflies provide a call to prayer and thanksgiving for the gift of my mother and her love for our family.
 "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:23

As I walk through this time of my life, retired from a full-time career and now an empty-nester the butterflies of life matter.  These small creatures are a reminder to me of God's glory and His delicate care of each of us.  The life of retirement forces one to ask questions about life purpose and accomplishment.  This time has encouraged me to follow God in the every-day-ness of life.  Not the mountaintop experiences but the daily, valley of existence.  Where we live!  Where we serve!  Where we follow Him!  He's walking into the world, am I following?

My butterflies flutter everywhere!  The hummingbirds are about to take their long journey south.  Am I fluttering about those around me?  Do I see those who need a fly-by of God's love through me?  I've stored up enough reserves for the journey so its time I start the flight.  Let's trust him in the valley of life to soar with the butterflies and offer life and hope and resurrection to those looking for a sign.

Hey, Mama!

29 August, 2014

Southern Sidewalk

Mobile, Alabama is a beautiful place.  For me it combines the old South beauty with the French influence of New Orleans.  So I found myself exercising along the streets of downtown Mobile this week and saw some beauty to share.

When I exercise,  many thoughts come to mind.  And on this day, I began to ponder why I thought these images were beautiful.  Was it their style?  Was it the uniqueness of the growth or the architecture?  Was it because they were familiar to me?  Was it because of my mood or spirit in the moment?  Of course, we cannot define beauty...we just KNOW it when we see it.  But what was the Holy Spirit teaching me this morning?  I know there is a lesson for me in these scenes.

Two scriptures came to my mind:
Matthew 6:28-30
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

Acts 1:8
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The beauty of these places in Mobile are in their uniqueness and in their combined designed.  Take a look at the photo of the plants along the sidewalk.  They are unique in their beauty, yes.  But the combination of several different plants in one planting area is what truly caught my eye.  It's the differences combining that offer the beauty.  The different color leaves and flowers and textures only enhance each other as they bloom.

I want that combined bloom in my life.  I want to be enhanced by others.  But I find I worry or stew about simple things in my life.  I get caught up with my children's problems, I get caught up in the details of life but I'm called to 'see how the flowers of the field grow".  See the beauty.  See that God is in control.  See that if he cares for small green plants; He will not only care for me and you but we will flourish.
And in order to see new places and new beauty I'm called to go into Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.  In these three different places we will see many, many beautiful flowers and scenes as we go.  They will not look like our hometown, our own friend circle or perhaps even our church congregation.  But these places and people hold unique beauty.  They will be unfamiliar.  They will have a different style.  Think of the opportunity ahead.
Where is your Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?  Is it across town, is it at work, is it in your neighborhood?

So why do I resist my own Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria?  The people will be different, the sidewalks may be broken and difficult to navigate, we may be frightened a bit but what a journey!  If we were all the same, if we all looked the same, had the same eye shape or the same skin color, or the same everything - how limited our minds would become.

Walk with me today into our world where people from all nations and all tribes await His beauty, His message of love and hope.

29 July, 2014

Babbling Silence

Often times, I've come into the living room and my husband will be watching TV; however, it 
will be in the silent mode!  This is different.  I've even experienced this on football Saturdays and in the South that is just not acceptable.  Our goal is to scream and yell for your team....loudly!!!  Our kids have teased Ray about this strange phenomenon.  This silence unnerves them and me.  We want the loud and the noisy game day experience.  Don't we?

Maybe it's just a personal preference of an introvert vs. an extrovert or maybe the problem is that I love hearing words.  I love to speak them, write them, read them and hear them from people in my world.  I struggle at times with the thought that I'm not hearing enough words or the right words from my husband, my parents, my kids and my friends and even from God. "Speak" to me I shout.  Talk to me and let me know your thoughts.  What is your plan?  If I turn up the volume on my inner TV will I hear?  If I speak enough words will you understand me?  I can't hear you in the silence.
Then He said, "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." Matthew 6:7
I've received a new freedom this summer.  Through a small study of Matthew, I've come to a new place of freedom.  A freedom to....just....be.  A freedom to linger in God's presence and use no words.  Often in my life, even though I've been taught for years that it is not the truth,  I've lived equating 'doing' with achieving God's favor.  What do I mean?  Here's a partial list: Work hard, volunteer, be active in your church, serve on committees, go on a mission trip, pray every day, be in a small group Bible Study, use your gifts, share the gospel, give to people who are poor and serve.  And yes, this is a good list of how to live a sold-out, Christ-following life but NOT to the extent that I lose Jesus in the process of all the doing.  Sometimes all the going and doing replaces the heart of our worship.

My freedom has come in the fact that when I accomplish NONE of these activities...it is still me (and you) that He wants to BE with....in silence.  Not babbling in prayer, not babbling in life activities....just minutes of free flowing silence.  It's a beautiful, freeing language.  I have found He speaks loudly in the silence.

12 June, 2014

The Struggle of Seeking

Honestly, I struggle.  I'm struggling this summer.  I struggle against 'going through the motions' of my spirituality.  I struggle with finding a deep connection in my prayer time and in my Bible reading.  I struggle to make time to sit, read, contemplate, and actually talk heart-to-heart to God.  I truly WANT to be in direct connection with my Savior.  I know the need in me for that intimate connection.  However, in contrast I never seem to struggle with checking my email, Facebook and reading that beach novel!
Oh, the condition of our hearts and lives...our human condition.  We struggle, we squirm, we seek to achieve, we strive, we hide, we succeed, we spend, we celebrate, we go, we set goals....we struggle some more.  What are we seeking?

A few days ago I was reading an Oswald Chambers devotional focused on these very familiar verses,
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."
These are words we may have heard for years but what do they mean for you today?  What are we asking for today?  What are we seeking?  I wonder if I'm even knocking?

What am I asking? I ask for God's protection when my family travels, I ask for blessings on those I love, I ask for help, I ask for mercy and forgiveness.  I'm so thankful that our God can hear and answer our intimate prayers of concern but I also want to ask big! What if we looked at our lives as eternal appointments, which they are, would our 'asks' change?

What am I seeking?  This is a complex question and one to contemplate today. Is seeking God the opposite of seeking myself?  Do I generally only seek myself and my needs and wants?  Oswald Chambers offers this: the more you realize yourself the less will you seek God.  Really think about this - What are you seeking??

Am I knocking?  This is the scariest of all to me.  It indicates action.  And its action that others can see and hear. It makes a sound.  It causes attention.  Does your heart beat rapidly as you knock on the Door?

Conversely, what is Jesus asking, seeking and knocking in your life?  Does His knock on your heart make you palpitate.  Does your heart burn within you as He knocks?  I wonder if I'm the only one afraid of answering His knock.  Or, am I afraid that He is not knocking on my heart?  Isn't it that One true knocking that fulfills and completes us?

I'm grateful to be on a spiritual journey and I know that where we stand today is exactly the spot where Jesus meets us offering us His love and acceptance.  But we are on a journey and we've yet to reach our destination so let's keep walking together and asking each other hard questions as we travel.  May our hearts beat fast as we come closer to fully knowing Him and may our hearts literally burn within us at His love and grace.  What are you seeking?  Does the knock cause your heart to beat fast within your chest?

Do we dare to seek and be sought?  Ask and be asked?  Knock and answer His knock on our lives?

20 April, 2014

Easter Morn Run!

Easter morning has dawned.  It is a new day for you and me.  Hallelujah!

The sneers, beating, pain and finally death have come to Jesus.  He left heaven to come to earth for this one reason....to live, to teach and to die for us...and then LIVE.  The one God who came to meet me even before I had a thought to meet him or even find Him.  He came first.  He loved first.  I can not even begin to comprehend such love, such sacrifice, such grace.

After Jesus' horrible death, one man came to ask for Jesus' body.  One man cared for him, wrapped Him in linen cloth and placed Him in a tomb.  The women who traveled with Jesus followed this man to the tomb and saw the tomb and how His body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes for Jesus' proper burial.

On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.

When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. (Luke 24:1-12)

What strikes me today is: one man, a few women, and Peter running back to the tomb.  The passion of these few moves me.  On this Passion Sunday we celebrated Jesus' passion for us.  His passion to come get us.  His passion to come meet us.  His passion to come for us when we didn't even realize we needed Him.  These few believers showed passion as well.

The man who asked for His body - he was a member of the Council but had not consented to their decision and action.  He acted in passion and love for the son of God.  He took one step, one man and served His God.
The women were few in number but they too came in passion for their Jesus.  They followed him to the tomb, they took the next logical step by preparing the spices for Him.  They followed through with their service of passion and received a blessing of unexpected proportion.
Then Peter, the one who denied, upon hearing the news from the women RAN to the tomb. (Luke 24:12) He ran out of passion and hope.  He ran to see with his own eyes.  And as we learn from the rest of the Bible he continued to run with passion as the message of Jesus was carried from place to place.  Peter never stopped running...

If we believe the message of Easter and the news of Jesus Christ as Redeemer, do we run with the message.  As we celebrate this Easter 2014 are we preparing to run into next week, next month?  Do our hearts burn within us as He speaks this Easter message into our lives?  These few people we've looked at today made an enormous impact on the world by just taking the next step and serving where they could.

I wonder where my next step of passion will lead?  I wonder if I will remember on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of next week the Passion of this Easter morn run.  Will you?

He is Risen Indeed.  Run...Run...Run

17 April, 2014

The Look of Love

Much happens in the chapters of Luke 19-24.  I would argue that actually everything happens….the end and the beginning and all in between.

Today I want to focus on one small verse from Luke 22:61.
“The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.”

Peter, beloved Peter was a man after God.  He was impulsive and quick to speak and quick to make bold statements and yes, quick to love deeply.  In this scripture reference, Jesus' arrest has just occurred and Peter was following the chief priests, the temple guard and Jesus as they hustled to the house of the high priest.  Peter, three times is pointed out and accused and three times denies knowing Jesus.  Oh, but then….the look of love.

We have all experienced a “look of love”.  It may have been a time with your husband or wife, a time with your child or new baby, a time with a dying loved one or even watching the exchange of love between a bride and groom.  We all KNOW it and it’s unmistakable.  Because it’s priceless.

I can remember the first time I experienced my own look of love with Ray.  We were in a tiny restaurant in Mississippi .  The place had been rented out for our private group.  There was food, drinks, laughter and oldies music….and there was dancing.  Amongst the dozens of people attending the party that night we became separated while visiting with friends throughout the room.  After a while, I remembered my date and began to look about the room and suddenly I saw him.  Waaaaayyy across the room our eyes found each other and held there.  It was the look of love.  It was saying no matter how distracted you are tonight or how many people stand between us in this crowded place or if you forgot me for a moment, I am here.  My love for you has not changed.  I want to hold you tonight, I want to dance with you, I want to claim you as my own.  You are the love of the my life.

Oh what shame and remorse Peter must have felt when he realized his denials as the cock crowed.  You know the kind….where you just close your eyes for several moments and think why, oh why.  And then, just as Peter’s eyes open, Jesus finds them.  And according to verse 61, Jesus looked straight at Peter.  The eyes of love…I believe Jesus was saying to Peter, 'no matter how distracted you are tonight or how many people stand between us in this crowded place or if you forgotten me for a moment, I am here.  My love for you has not changed.  I want to hold you tonight, I want to dance with you, I want to claim you as my own.  You are the love of the my life'.

He is saying that to us today as we often forget him, deny him or just go our own way.  His look of love is just for you today.  His passion this week is for you.  His eyes are looking with the look of love.

The look of love 
Is in your eyes 
A look your smile can't disguise 
The look of love 
It's saying so much more 
Than words could every say 
And what my heart has heard, 
Well, it takes my breath away. 

I can hardly wait to hold you, 
Feel my arms around you. 
How long I have waited, 
Waited just to love you 
Now that I have found you

The "The Look of Love" is a popular song composed by Burt Bacharach and Hal David in 1967.  It somehow got into my head as I read this brief verse in Luke.  The link to this tune is below.  I encourage you to listen and think of your Saviour's look of love.


16 April, 2014

Reality Check

With the echo of praise and celebration from the Triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the Christ-followers must have been exhilarated and weary from the journey.  The city of Jerusalem was evidently bustling with activity as people arrived to celebrate the Passover.  There must have been so much excitement in the city as this long-awaited annual event had begun.

We know this feeling.  Its Easter week in our homes.  Grandma is coming, the kids are returning from college, there are Easter egg hunts scheduled, cooking to be done, eggs to be died, dresses to be pressed, khakis to be ironed, and that dreaded Easter basket grass to buy!  There is a thrill when you know the day or week has finally arrived for such a celebration.

I wonder if this was the thought shared amongst the disciples.  After all, it was a week of celebration and they had arrived with a celebrity and a parade.  Who doesn't love a parade! Jesus was popular, unexpected in his demeanor, a novelty to people, and a confusion.  I sense there was electricity in the air wherever he walked that week.

And we find Him today in the temple, the house of prayer.  Teaching, teaching the unteachable, teaching the hard-headed, teaching the scholars...teaching and watching and challenging.  I want to be seated amongst those listening.  Not the hard-headed, know-it-alls but the humble, hungry learners.  The learners who took time from their day to stop, listen and really hear what this unique Teacher taught.  I noticed from the scripture that everyday He was there meeting those who came.  He was there before they arrived.  Anticipating their arrival and offering His love, understanding and acceptance.  He showed no evidence of worry about the coming days and no concern about future happenings.  He was focused on reaching those who needed to hear in THAT day.  He was focused on offering hope and wisdom in the moment.  I want to learn from that Teacher.
Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives, and all the people came early in the morning to hear him at the temple. Luke 21:37-38

In this week of all things commercial Easter, let's take a moment to be taught by the One we celebrate.  The preparation of the holiday cannot 'out-do' the Reality of what this week means in our lives.  What is our Reality check?

Easter Bunny vs. Easter Donkey
Easter Eggs vs. Easter Expectation
Easter Baskets vs. Easter Palms and Psalms
Easter lunch vs. THE Easter Lamb

14 April, 2014

Reality TV

OK, true confessions.....who amongst you watches 'reality tv'?  I know this is a personal and private matter that you are hesitant to discuss.  But really, what is your favorite?  Is it The Amazing Race, The Bachelor, Overhaulin, Dancing with the Stars, Desperate Housewives, or (surely not) Here comes Honey Boo Boo?  Reality TV has captured our attention, it makes good conversation, and allows us to look into other peoples lives....which leads us to celebrate the normalcy of our own lives!  Right?  But I daresay we watch these shows and wonder how we would measure up or where we would fit in the story.

This week in the Christian faith is called Passion Week.  The final week of Jesus' earthly life is talked about and celebrated by Christ followers all over the world.  As I was reading the week of events recorded in the Bible I began to wonder about passion and why that word is used to describe this week in the Christian life. (more later) But I also begin to wonder where I might find myself in the stories. For I believe this story is alive and real today and that we all have a role in the script.  This is 'Reality TV LIVE' and we're in the cast.  

Read Luke Chapters 19, 20, 21, 22 with that thought in mind this week.  Where are you in the story?  With whom do you most identify? Absorb the words and story and find yourself for that is where God will meet you.

Let's begin our quest: 
The last week of Jesus' earthly life began with a parade called the Triumphal Entry.  Are we a part of the disciple group surrounding Him and loudly singing Praises or are we in the super-religious, rules group asking everyone to quiet down?  Or do we find ourselves having a heart-ache for other people? 
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes...”

I love a party, I love to plan a party!  Get the colt!  Get the palms for decorations! I love a celebration and I love singing and laughing.  We honor HIS name with our celebration - maybe that's my group.

I also love what I'm comfortable with...my style of singing and worship...my church-rules and expectations.  I'm uncomfortable when my child, my friend, or a stranger comes to my fellowship and they have dressed differently from me or they talk in a way I don't approve.  Is this my group?

I pass people as I go through life.  They have problems-too much alcohol and drugs, they are poor, they are needy, they are disrespectful, they hate, they curse, they laugh at my beliefs - do I love them?  Do I weep over them and pray and hope for them?  Is this my group?

What is your Reality?  The week of LIFE has started.  Which part of the cast are you today?

Easter Week 2014
(one of four)  
Pass them on to others.  
He is Risen! Hallelujah!

17 March, 2014

Oh to be Known

It never fails that just as we sit down for dinner, our phone rings.  We assume it will be a telemarketer 
 but on the off chance that it is a child calling....I answer.  "Hello! (sigh....listen....listen) No, thank you. We're not interested." Disgustedly, I return to the dinner table. This pattern happens so often one would think that we'd stop falling for the ring.  But....it may be a loved one whose voice we want to hear, a voice we know and recognize. We want to hear that voice of recognition.

Flight 370 has bothered me in the deep, deep recesses of my heart and mind.  How could a huge plane just vanish?  Where could it be?  How could this happen?  Also, with the world seemingly at our doorstep via technology I'm overwhelmed at how large and vast and hidden places on the earth remain. I think of the moms and dads, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives who just want to hear a voice, to know an answer, to answer a phone and hear a precious voice.  But to look and not find....to search and be void....to not know and be known.  It is truly heartbreaking and I cannot even began to imagine the pain and grief.

Henri Nouwen in, Returning, God's Love Calls Us Home, shared in a Lent writing today of a familiar story.  But it struck me in new place.  It's a story of seeking in grief but finding.  A story of looking for a voice who knows and recognizes me and you.

11 and by that time Mary had returned to the tomb and was standing outside crying. And as she wept, she stooped and looked in and saw two white-robed angels sitting at the head and foot of the place where the body of Jesus had been lying.
13 “Why are you crying?” the angels asked her.
“Because they have taken away my Lord,” she replied, “and I don’t know where they have put him.”
14 She glanced over her shoulder and saw someone standing behind her. It was Jesus, but she didn’t recognize him!
15 “Why are you crying?” he asked her. “Whom are you looking for?”
She thought he was the gardener. “Sir,” she said, “if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.”
16 “Mary!” Jesus said. She turned toward him.
“Master!” she exclaimed.

First, one word, 'Mary', is all He spoke.  But she knew the voice, she recognized the love and acceptance.  And she knew the voice KNEW her....all of her....and loved her the same perhaps even more.  Oh, that we could turn around today and hear our Lord say our name out loud.  That one word for each of us.  One word that says, yes, I know your name, your whole name, I know where you are in the world, I have come for you, I have found you, I am here, I adore you just as you are in your pain, in your sorrow and in your joy and laughter.  'Mary!', He said.  And she exclaimed, 'Master'.  Oh, to know His voice and be known.  

Secondly, He was in plain view.  'She turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.' He was standing there in plain view but not as she had expected.  Oh how many times do I look past Jesus standing right in front of me.  I look for the familiar Jesus, the One I'm used to seeing, the One I'm comfortable with but alas, He will always be right in plain view looking differently than what I expect...to grow me, to show me His unconditional love and acceptance of all of us.

There are so many who do not yet know His voice, who don't recognize the sweet sound of Him saying their name.  I daresay that many of the people connected to Flight 370 are from places in the world who have not heard of this News.  And perhaps many in North America have heard and re-heard but may have now stopped hearing.  I know the church universal has failed many people and perhaps has damaged many hearts.  I also know the church is made up of imperfect people seeking to know and be known.  So when I can look past the church building itself and see the Word it is founded on I can know of a Master who knows me by name.  And I can know He is standing in plain view.


26 February, 2014

Go, Love, Go Again

One day years ago when we were living in Corpus Christi, Nick, Sarah and I were driving home from school one afternoon and Nick began to ask questions about boundaries. He was anxious to get home and ride his bike; therefore was concerned about his boundaries in the neighborhood, i.e. how far could he go without getting in trouble.  I don't remember their exact ages but I am guessing that he was about 10 and Sarah was 6 years old.  So I responded that his boundaries were from Alameda to Santa Fe and then Lamar Park Shopping area to Bermuda Street.  He understood as these streets were a rectangle around our home.  After we drove a few minutes I heard a little voice from the back seat ask me what her boundaries were.....I hesitated for only a second and responded, "our driveway".  This thrilled Nick and of course irritated Sarah! But I was serious!! I didn't want my baby girl to leave the safety of the driveway until she was older (and then it about killed me)!

These days both my children have cleared the driveway by a long shot and are finding their lives and their callings in two Texas universities.  They seem eager to find their place in the world and make a difference.  The world is literally alive to them.  No adventure is too far for them to consider.

As their middle age mom I still seek that same place in the world too...the place of 'making a difference'.  Where will I go?  What is the call on my life?  Have I limited myself because I'm older now?  Have I self-imposed a driveway boundary?  Am I comfortable in my routine of serving?  Or am I waiting for someone to ask me?

He is asking.  I hear Jesus whispering to me....Follow Me, Go, Love, Serve, Go again.  Go to the widow, the elderly, the Chinese, the hurting, the neighbor, the garbage man, your family, old friends, Go.  Go.  Tell them of The Love, The Hope....Go!  Leave your safety zone for now there are no boundaries just Follow Me.

There is an old hymn I love, In the Bleak Midwinter by Christina Rossetti (written 1872, published posthumously in 1904).

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

What we have to give is what He's already given to us.  As Christ-followers He lives IN us.  What you're living is for Him.  Realize that all those acts that you feel are insignificant are actually love expressed because of Him.  Those insignificant meals you cook - keep cooking.  Those insignificant notes you write - keep writing.  Those hidden prayers you pray - keep praying.  Those words of encouragement you offer quietly - keep giving them.  The love, yes, the Love....Go.

23 January, 2014

Mama's Girl

My beautiful Mama...Sarah Davis Loftin from Thomasville, Georgia
One month ago, we were celebrating the birth of a Saviour for all mankind.  Jesus birth enabled Him to live life with us and then also enabled Him to die for us.  And most, most importantly enabled Him to defeat death and rise again.  He has gone ahead of us to prepare a place for those who believe in Him.

Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (Jesus is speaking...John 14:1-3)

Also, one month ago one of His daughters went to join Him in the place He had lovingly prepared for her.  Her name is Sarah.  She is my mama.  She is now whole, healed, happy and in a Holy place.  My mama lived a long life and a full life. She was 89 when she died and left behind a legacy of faith.  She had suffered illness for many years and age was taking its toil on her earthly body....so we as her family prayed for God's mercy and perfect will for her life...

.....then the day came, December 24, 2013...she was released and went to Glory.  Hallelujah!  Rejoice in her final and complete salvation and healing!  We do, I do....but...

...my biggest fan has gone to heaven.  My own personal cheerleader has gone to her Father.  For you see there are earthly things one loses when a mama dies: the look in her eye when you enter the room, the laugh you could get from her, the words of pride she spoke over you, the unconditional love, the unconditional forgiveness, the words of encouragement, the adoring eyes of love...gone for today...

Some of you reading this knew my mama and loved her.  Some of you may have met her when her days were not so good - when physical ailment had overtaken her body.  And then, many of you never met her.  Can I share with you who she was to me?

From Left: Pat, James, Mama, Beverly, Me (2010)
  • She loved....just simply loved...fully and completely
  • She loved our Daddy - often times when it seemed impossible...she loved him
  • She was fastidious!
  • She wasn't thrilled about dogs or cats - until she met my brother's dog, Sully!
  • She wanted all the family celebrations at her house, 915 Oleander Avenue, regardless of how frail she became that was her hope...to love people in her home
  • She wanted us all to have our favorite food at these celebrations - even it meant an extraordinary amounts of food she would make sure that James had his chocolate pie, Daddy had his pecan pie and the kids had her famous Macaroni and Cheese.  I also remember church dinners when she would never take just one dish but always 3 or 4 (with Mary Lynn's private dish of Mexican cornbread on the side)
  • She sacrificed in love for Beverly, James, Pat, me....and so many others

So...the top 10 reasons why I love my Mama:
10.  She (and Beverly) taught me how to fold a fitted sheet!
9.  She taught me how to cook and in particular, how to make dumplings and a really good pecan pie!
8.  She taught me to speak and write words of love.
7.  She taught me to laugh when I wanted to cry.
6.  She taught me to love people well.
5.  She taught me to seek and find my own true love. (In fact, she loved Ray before I fully knew I loved him!)
4.  She (and Daddy) gave us kids all our good looks :)
3.  She taught me sacrifice.
2.  She loved and forgave me unconditionally.
1.  She taught me to seek Jesus whatever the circumstance; however bad the pain...the answer is and was always...Jesus.

Thank you, Mama.  I will forever miss you until I see you in heaven.  Thank you for loving me so completely.  I now know that you were showing me how God loves.  You were Him in my life.  I'm so thankful that you are now healed and whole.  I'm so glad you're with Daddy and your parents, Aunt Kathryn and SO many other saints....I miss you Mama.  I'll see you soon.

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