Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hatfields and McCoys

Charlie and I are history buffs, with a special interest in American fact and folklore. So we anticipated the History Channel's blockbuster 3 night movie,The Hatfields and McCoys. The feud between these two families was so destructive and ingrained that their names became a part of American language as a metaphor for any bitterly feuding rival parties. More than a century later, the story of the feud has become a modern allegory for the perils of family strife, justice and vengeance.

As I watched the movie (historically quite accurate), I was struck by the similarities between what I was seeing on the screen and what I see in my office and ministry today. Relationships that destroy have commonalities in every generation. Things like
  • majoring on minors
  • taking everything personally
  • being easily offended, slow to forgive
  • using "God" only for validation or comfort
  • interpreting scripture to back whatever I want to do
  • keeping score/record of wrongs
  • making a relationship/family an idol in place of God....
And the beat goes on.

I couldn't help but think how many people lived miserably and ended up eternally separated from God because of the incredible lengths people went to preserve their "pride.".
I couldn't help but think how many people I know today are living miserably and endangering their own and their family members' eternal destinies because of their pride.

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because  God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble...Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you." I Peter 5:5-7

Monday, May 14, 2012


At a Family Dinner early in 2011, the conversation turned to "Have you ever written a letter to a celebrity?" Everyone got a huge laugh when I confessed that I had actually written to an infamous person. A few days later, I sent them this letter as a "God only" kind of follow-up. I found the letter and the news article I referenced in the letter ( aol news 3/02/2011) as I was sorting files today. It encouraged me all over again, and I wanted to share it with you. Maybe someone will read this, and follow one of the strange sounding promptings of God, and get blessed, too. You were BORN for God to use you, you know!


You know that at dinner,  we all laughed about writing letters to celebrities. I got a HUGE laugh because I had written to Sirhan-Sirhan, the man who assassinated Robert F. Kennedy on June 4, 1968. Just to reprise my story, I loved RFK, was in 10th grade when he died, and was devastated not only by his death, but by the future of the young Jordanian who killed him.He was sentenced to death, but it was commuted. I pictured his despair and isolation, and his eternal destiny. I wrote Sirhan about his relationship with God, the possibility of forgiveness, and shared that even though the whole world seemed to hate him, there was forgiveness and peace through Jesus Christ. The few who knew I wrote him teased me, and assured me I would never hear from that letter. Of course, they were right. I never heard back from him, but for a long, long time I prayed for him every single day.

This is 43 years after that day. The day a 15 year old girl obeyed what seemed like a ridiculous thought to write and to pray for him.  I don't even know that he ever got to read my letter--that's not the important thing. What is important is that I responded to what God spoke to my heart. The news today says that he came up for parole again yesterday--once again denied. He has been in solitary confinement because of the hate crimes threatened against him (he used to be a Muslim). Anyways, the article says he feels extreme remorse and regret for what he did, but

"Sirhan, his hair graying and missing one tooth in the front of his mouth, appeared cheerful as he entered the hearing room. He bid the commissioners "good afternoon" and was talkative during the hearing, telling commissioners he is a practicing Christian who attends services every Sunday."

Can I tell you that my heart leaped and I felt like running around the church shouting?????????? I am sitting here, tears streaming down my face. God is SO good, So faithful!  Those prayers-- that letter was just the tiniest of little POTS that I set out in obedience to the tug of the Spirit of God, and HE DID THE REST!!!! I don't know how many people have played a part in praying for Sirhan, or who got the credit for being the one who helped him across the line. BUT GOD DID IT!!!!!!  God never was obligated to let me know...but how GOOD of the Father to make sure I knew that what I did mattered. I am SO encouraged today to obey Jesus in every SINGLE way.

I am writing this to you, not to be "vindicated" in any way for doing something that looked foolish--I agree, it was hilarious and really naive that I did! :-) BUT, I am writing to tell you to "set out all your pots"-- do every little tiny thing God impresses on you. Who knows when and how God will do something and you will be part of it if you obey? Even if we never know what God did with our obedience, He PROMISES He will come through!

When I was a kid we used to sing a song that had these words in it:
Every work for Jesus will be blessed.
But He asks from everyone His best.
Our talents may be few--they may be small.
But unto Him is due our best, our all.

So, I am writing to tell you---put it out there. You all have such great abilities and gifts. I KNOW God speaks to you. I know He has great confidence in you.  What God wants to do in and through your lives will amaze you. I know you will far surpass what has happened in my 58 years if you just PUT IT OUT THERE.

Do it.

I love you all so much.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's Day Gratitude

 A few days ago, a much younger woman looked at me and shook her head. "You have more energy and work harder and longer than most girls my age!" she said. I laughed, but inside I was glowing with satisfaction. I always said my mother could work circles around 2 women half her age, even when she passed 80. I so admired that about her, and to have that quality seen in me in some way was a gift.

A long-time friend reminded me of a letter he received from me some years ago when he was on a foolish path. "It really stung, " he said, "but I could feel your love and concern for me. I knew you were passionate about my life and future. I still have the letter--it's a motivator for me." That's my mother in me. All of us in the family have letters full of love, sometimes encouraging and sometimes rebuking--always calling us to be our best.

I walked through my house this morning, doing a "start-the-day tidy-up", and encouraged and strengthened myself as I read all the scriptures and inspiring words hanging on the walls. Mom again.
We grew up in a home where the walls spoke. "God, help me be the axle grease to make the wheels of our home run smoothly" was one Mother woodburned and hung over our dinner table. "Jesus first,
Others second, Yourself last--that's the way to spell joy" in Mom's handwriting still hangs on the bathroom mirror where Dad lives, the last home they shared together.

I could go on and on. The ways my mother affected and shaped me could fill the pages of a book.
Today I will visit her grave. I know she's not there; she's enjoying life in a way currently I can only imagine. The visit won't do a thing for her, but it will do a lot for me. On this Mother's Day weekend, it's one more chance to remind myself how God blessed me by making her my mother. I am putting a flag there that says "The Lord is My Strength and My Salvation" of Mom's favorite verses. Right beside it I am placing a memorial plaque that says, "Mother--Forever in Our Hearts".

Mom, you ARE forever in my heart. But more than that, you are forever in my character and lifestyle. Thank you. Much of the best of me is you. Isn't it wonderful that we will spend forever together with Jesus? I love you. Mom.