Friday, September 19, 2014

I Love ya, Tomorrow!

The sunrise began very muted this morning, hidden almost entirely by clouds. It fooled me, staying behind the soft grey cover so far past the predicted sunrise moment that I turned and started back to the house. A longing for one more sunrise caused me to turn a yearning look over my shoulder as reached the bottom of the dune--and there he was. Sir Sun had come out for a farewell and "see you later!" for my last morning of vacation at the beach. Appropriate. I'm feeling a little muted myself. Not sad. Just contemplative.

The last day of vacation is a bag of colors and feelings. Gratitude. Mild disappointment it's over. Saying one more year, "This was the best ever!", and then remembering there's no place like home. Loving the break from deadlines and work overload, but antsy to get back in the thick of it again.

The sunrise this morning reminded me that the sun ALWAYS rises. At the beach, in suburban neighborhoods, in the inner city, in peaceful countrysides, in war zones. It rises on the rich, the poor, the overworked and the underchallenged. On the sick and the well, the young and the old, the holy and the profane. The sun always rises because, behind the clouds that mute or sometimes even seem to obliterate it, it is ALWAYS there.

Reminds me of a song I loved from the first moment I heard it belted out in the Broadway show, and then double-triple loved when our daughter Rachel became Annie in the 9th grade and gave her own voice to the optimistic truth:

"The sun'll come out tomorrow!
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow
there'll be sun.
Just thinkin' about tomorrow
Clears away the cobwebs and the sorrow till' there's none.
When I'm stuck in a day that's grey and lonely,
I just stick up my chin and grin and say,  oh
The sun'll come out tomorrow!
So you got to hang on
till' tomorrow, come what may!
Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow
You're always a day away!"

Tomorrow, wherever I am, the sun will come up, even if I can't see it clearly or at all. There WILL be sun. That is a guarantee. 

And here's a long term guarantee. One day the Son that outshines Sir Sun on his best and most blazing day will rise, too. There's a tomorrow come Malachi the prophet saw with long term vision the Lord Himself gave:
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed—roots, branches, and all. But on that dayfor you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Malachi 4:1-3

Oh, yes. The Sun WILL come up tomorrow. I love ya, Tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Light that Shines in Darkness

A year ago today we were in the midst of a beautiful September day, just like today. White, cottonball clouds gliding lazily across storybook blue skies, salty sea air filling my lungs. When my phone rang and I saw my young friend Cory's name, I was happy--probably baby news or something not quite as exciting, but great. When through sobs he said, "Brenda, Aaron's gone!", I was so stunned, I couldn't comprehend it, and he had to repeat the devastating words.

I began to grasp the overwhelming fact. Aaron Wilson, young like my sons, my dear friend, laughing DJ at our latest family wedding, loved and invested in so many, had truly left us. Gone in a moment of time. I knew it was true, and I knew his Father had come to get him. While Cory spoke the words to my ears, before he was done speaking, the Holy Spirit was connecting with MY spirit, and I saw Aaron at the wheel of his car, head thrown back, looking to heaven, calling out to Jesus. Knowing Aaron was alive in another dimension with his Savior was the deepest and only true comfort. But there was his family. What could and would Jesus do for his family, who loved him beyond expression--the hole in their world so cavernous and gaping they would not be able to comprehend life with the emptiness?

This post by Aaron's beautiful sister Stacy tells so profoundly what Jesus did and is doing for them. I had to share. You need the Light, too. If I or any of the Wilson family can help you, please contact me.

From Stacy:
After losing Aaron, it seemed like everything in my life turned dark. It is similar to coming home to your house at night. You may shuffle around with your hands out trying to find the light switch while protecting yourself from running into anything. Once you turn the light on, everything is visible again. Those who take on the darkness, (without turning on the switch) usually end up running into a wall and stubbing their toe.

When things turn dark, it blinds you from every other aspect in your life. You don’t know what is ahead or behind you. It can be scary and depressing. The things that gave you joy or happiness before seems to vanish. In actuality… they are still there, they are just no longer seen due to the darkness that overtakes you. How can you experience joy if your light is out? I have tried it…It is impossible.

Throughout the Bible, it talks about Jesus being the light. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) I can personally say, that God has brought LIGHT into this time of darkness. BUT I had to truly switch that light on DAILY in my life. Various life situations can turn that switch off and it is up to you to make the choice of how long you want to stay there. It is also interesting to know that darkness doesn’t exist, it merely is the absence of light. Meaning when we do feel dark, we just need light. That light is Jesus. It is the most readily available form of light. He is like the legit version of a CLAP ON light!!! It saddens me to know that God is so readily available for you, yet most people choose to ignore him. They stay in darkness for their entire life. IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE THAT WAY and that is NOT God’s purpose for your life.
I will say, the majority of this past year things have been dark. The days that I couldn’t pray, God heard my heart. At times, when I was too weak to make that CHOICE to turn the light on, he did it for me. 

Situations like losing Aaron can bring emptiness so great that you MUST find ways to give thanks to God. That is a huge part of the grieving process. If you DO NOT give thanks multiple times in one day, you will find yourself in a dark hole FAST (or a dark house with no lights on) This can be the most challenging aspect of the grieving process. Your mind and heart is focused on the negative. You must realize that the situation CANNOT be changed, it can only be redirected. I cannot bring Aaron back. I cannot change that situation. I can only change my attitude about it. 

Aaron had such a thankful heart. It wasn’t just “I am thankful for family. My job. My friends.” IT WAS MORE THAN THAT. I remember riding in his car one day and we were talking about our family. In his most energetic form, he kept saying “Seriously we have the best family. I mean come on…we are all funny, we make the best food, we have the best time together.... whoever I marry is going to be lucky that they marry into a family like ours” He went on and on and on… BUT Aaron honestly had the same thankful energy with his house, car, job, friends, and FiancĂ©, Alex. (He might have been this way with his good looks and 3-point basketball shot)

We need to all start giving thanks more often and have ENERGY doing it! (Ephesians 5:20) GOOD TIMES AND BAD TIMES… GIVE THANKS! Just wait, on Thanksgiving Day, we will see everyone’s comments and status’ about what they are thankful for. That is fine and dandy but do it EVERYDAY. If you feel you have nothing to be thankful for, look around you. WE LIVE IN AMERICA!!!!! I have the freedom to speak my mind without being beaten or killed. Our future son will have a greater advantage in all aspects because he is an American. Our freedom is so easily taken for granted. Do you have clothes to wear? GIVE THANKS… millions don’t. Do you have fresh drinking water? GIVE THANKS… many throughout India, Haiti, Africa DO NOT know what that is like. (By the way, Aaron’s death has influenced many to donate to ClearBlue Global Water Project and there is now FOUR wells in his name serving VILLAGES of people with FRESH DRINKING WATER!!! AMEN)

God literally brought me to a point that I had to look around and give thanks for the things I easily took for granted before (such as my freedom, clean drinking water, family, and friends) I learned that if I didn't give thanks I would not progress any further as an individual.

BECAUSE OF THAT, I just want to take the time to give thanks for the PEOPLE/FAMILY/FRIENDS God has placed in our lives. I am so grateful for AMAZING husband, Ben. He has literally been there for me every waking second. He brings such a positive perspective to every situation. He held me through every sleepless night and patiently walked me through every frustrating moment.

For my family and close friends---words cannot describe the amount of love you have poured over my life. I am talking about ALL OF YOU who come over unexpectedly. The people that DON’T ASK but DO. The prayers so strong that I FEEL THEM. The friends that literally sat in my living room listening to me in my darkest and saddest moments. The ones who have encouraged me DAILY! Yes, most don’t understand. BUT you have SEEN my pain. The ones who have done the exact same thing to my parents and my brother. You have walked this path with all of us. FOR THAT, I am extremely grateful.

Most people grieve alone. They have no support system. I would be SO lost without the people that have surrounded us with love. This was the BIG light that God turned on for me. Without people like you, I would still be sitting in a dark house feeling hopeless. SO THANK YOU!

WE ALL have the ability to be this person to someone else. Our world can be a terrible place. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE HURTING!!!!! It is the PEOPLE LIKE YOU who make it better. Who go out of their way WITHOUT asking and WITHOUT expecting something in return. It is the love that has been shown to me that MOTIVATES me to become a better friend, wife, daughter, and now mother.

Try to make it a point to give thanks. Post it notes work great. PUT THEM ON YOUR MIRROR. Every small and BIG thing that you are grateful for. Take a look at them before you leave for work every day. Remind yourself that EVERY good and perfect things come from above. (James 1:17)

If you are in a dark place, I encourage you to ask God to turn the lights on. Allow him to reveal all of the things he has given you. If you choose Christ, he will NEVER leave you no matter how DARK things may seem.
(Deuteronomy 31:6) I promise he will GIVE YOU hope. He will place people and situations that will bring you through anything that is thrown at you. You can’t change your situation… make that choice to give it to God and allow him to change your perspective.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

When God Hears My Prayer

Nothing like a storm in life to make you pray. Unless, of course, it is something we want so badly that it seems everything will go wrong if we don't get it. Like custody of the kids, a job, a job that's actually a career with better pay, that special know what I am saying. I could go on and on.

There are some answers to pray that are just sheer blessings--they hurt no one. Those are the healings from disease, the child coming home to the Father, the addict being released from bondage. But then there are those other prayers, when my much-sought for answer brings grief and disappointment to someone else. Like when it DOES rain for my vegetable garden, but ruins an outdoor reception for someone's wedding. Or bigger than that. When my friend gets custody of the children, another parent who loves them equally and is not a villain is crushed to the heart. When I get the job and they walk away feeling inadequate and insecure and wonder, "Why not me?" When that person chooses me, and another wonderful person's desires are squashed--again. Do I get so caught up in my rejoicing that I forget my joy is not the condition of everyone, based on my answer?

I've thought about that for years. There are the clear and obvious answers to prayer (at least from our human vantage point) that evil should be overthrown. Clearly that is God's will. Jesus taught us to pray, "Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." But it is so easy for me to assume that my desires are God's Will. When things work out as I hope and pray, it is easy to say and post to the world, "God is good!" On the days when someone else seems to have won the battle, it is just as easy to assume God is NOT good, he is not hearing me, and evil is winning.

That's the big deal with trust. Believing in a great, good, and generous God doesn't mean I will always get my way, or things will always be answered as I hope. It is knowing God is the great, good, and generous Father of us all---and he is that when my answers are what I dreamed, and when they are not. I know he is working out his will. And his will is exactly what I would chose if I had all the information he does.

That's the big deal with lack of self-centeredness, thinking like Jesus. I can rejoice with those who get what I wanted because I trust God to care for me perfectly. I can feel compassion for those who desperately wanted what I received instead.

That's the way I want to pray. I am working on it. By the way, that check I prayed for was NOT in the mail yesterday. God is good anyway.