Monday, July 30, 2012

The T-Shirts We Wear

Americans surely have a love affair with their t-shirts.

They express loyalty:  to sports teams, universities, and causes.  They express belonging:  to families (and reunions), a variety of special interests, and teams.  They express fondness and memories:  to old TV characters, favorite sayings and scriptures, and trips taken.

In my house, we have a plethora of t-shirts that show all the different rec teams my guys have been on.  The standard souvenir when we have been on a trip is a t-shirt.  All the boys have t-shirts with my alma mater (Go Hokies!).  We also have a variety of t-shirts for the Nationals, Yankees, Giants, and Colts.

I had a conversation this morning with a dear friend about the t-shirts we should wear.

You see, she has had hard stuff in her life, too.  She lives with cancer, and has for more than 14 years.  She is doing well, the doctors say.  She is a survivor.  And I think she is amazing.

But she shared with me that sometimes she would like to have a bio to pass out, rather than to retell the story.  She would rather not deal with the pity -- or the label.  She would rather wear the t-shirt I Have Cancer, But I'm Still Here than to go through the whole, drawn-out explanation. 

I get that.  Some days I am ready to share my life and my story; some days I am not.

Some days, I see myself wearing a t-shirt that says Widow with Four Children - Don't Judge Me, Just Love Me.  That way, I don't have to go through the story or the pity, either.  And I might not have to explain being a

Other days, I am more ready to wear a t-shirt that says Ask Me My Story...See God in Action!  Or, I'm Not Superwoman, But My God Is Superman!  I am ready and eager to share what God has done and is doing in my life and the lives of my kids.

I guess my point is this:  I am more than the label, more than the momentary t-shirt I wear.  In my humanness I often miss the mark of representing Who I love the most.  And I need to ask Him to forgive me for that.

I have the opportunity--and the responsibility, I believe--to rise beyond my circumstances and be a living example of my God.  I am the sum total of all I have been through and all I will go through, but, most importantly, how I have responded to these things.

And as such, the t-shirt I strive to wear is this:  God's Child, Wholly and Completely!

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. - Acts 1:8

Waste Not, Want Not

How many of us have heard that old analogy?  Waste not, want not.

I know my mom used to quote it to me regularly in relation to the food on my plate.

But do we think of this analogy in relation to our spiritual our pain and sorrow?

When Keith died there was, obviously, pain -- pain galore.  Deep, abiding pain, that put a pall on everything for a time.

But God is not a God of waste.  In His economy, it is ALL for good, it is ALL usable, it is ALL glorious.

Waste not, want not.

You only have to look at the way the world works together to see that this is true. 

Forest fires cause destruction, but also allow for elements to be added to the soil, and for the undergrowth to see the light of day.

Should it be any wonder to us that our grief is the same?

In the greater community, I am able to be an example, a light, a hand to reach out to another -- if I take up the challenge that is before me.  I am able to use the lessons learned to show my children, my friends, and others around me the power and awesomeness of our Lord.

Waste not, want not.

Also implied in this statement is that if we waste what we have been given, we will be wanting.

If I had curled in a corner when Keith died and stayed there, I would have missed so much along the way.

Closer relationships, including with God Himself.  Revival in our hearts and in our church.  Beauty out of the ashes.  All precious, precious gifts!

And so, for as much as it hurts, I would not have traded this journey for the world.  Even if I could have Keith back.

Waste not, want not.

Amen and amen! 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. - Romans 8:28

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's Not in the Owner's Manual...or is it?

So what I thought on my car was no big deal is really a need for a MAJOR REPAIR or...(gulp!)...a NEW CAR.  Sigh.

Blessedly, this is not a right away need, but a near future need.  So I have think.  Thank the Lord, because something like this takes time for me.  What I know about cars could fit on their dipstick and still register as add oil (total pun intended, since that is where my car problem lies).  This puts me at a definite disadvantage when stuff like this happens.

 I have to take it slow to figure out what to do, to make the right decision.  I have already asked the advice of a couple of my "car guy" friends and plan to ask a couple more.  Thank God for Steve and Craig and Diana's brother and Billy and George!  I have researched on the internet this problem with my car and found out what others have done and what it cost.  Beyond that, I am praying...and praying...and praying.

This kind of stuff is not in a manual...and I think it is natural to fear making a mistake.  There is no definite answer, but various opinions.  Fix or cut my losses and run?  Keep the big gas guzzler or downsize a bit?  Buy new or buy used?

And in my prayers so far I have come to one definite conclusion:

God's got it.

And...maybe the answer is in the BIG Manual--His Holy Word.

In it, I have learned a lot that can apply:

Rather than lament that Keith is not here...
Remember that I have a Counselor even wiser (John 14:16-17).

Rather than worry about the skills that I don't have...
Remember that other members of the body have other skills which they are graciously sharing with me (1 Corinthians 12).

Rather than bemoan my having to handle this on my own...
Remember that God has a special providence for widows (Exodus 22:22).

Rather than stress and worry...
Remember that God has a plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11) and His admonitions on worrying (Matthew 6:25-34).

In Him and because of Him, I can get through everything...not just car stresses.

But I could use a few prayers from you all as well.  ;-)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28