“The Message – 4Him

Firstly, let me thank you, dear friends, for the prayers and support after I shared my struggles here last time we met.

There are things yet to sort through and only time will tell how my situation will progress, but I am seeing breakthroughs and finding avenues to express my concerns while keeping in mind the desire to minister.

Ok. So…onto what my title refers to. Here comes yet another group that anchored me in my teens and twenties…

Safe to say, if you haven’t figured it out already, I have always listened to a LOT of music-each with its own flavor. 🙂

4Him captured my attention from the first time a cassette tape of “The Basics of Life” was played for me by a high school acquaintance. I just had to have my own copy, along with everything they produced thereafter.

The authenticity and passion combined with these four beautiful voices inspired my hunger for more of Christ. Every tune seemed to point the way and I eagerly followed.

I can well recall being up to wee hours devouring one book of my Bible after another while their music played in the background.

Sometimes, I could even be caught singing along. 😏

I still remember a time my dad was home from the road one night and embarrassed me to no end knocking on my door to tell me how neat it was to hear me singing along with those guys. Maybe it was also a kind hint I might dial down on volume, but, at any rate, I think it was the compliment that threw me. 🙂

Oh, it’s a nice memory, to be sure.

I think it just felt like a very private session between me and God exposed for a minute there. My relationship with my folks was beginning to mend by then, but was still often uncertain, almost awkward.

Anyway…we did wind up having a brief but good chat about where my faith was heading. And I turned back to my music further bolstered ( and turned down the volume a touch.😉).

And so, I continued on. Grew up. Sort of….

And, over the years, through the numerous hills I climbed and valleys I found myself in, there were my many 4Him cassettes and CDs to hold onto, usually put in and cranked over the uglier noises in my world to stir my heart on (Maybe that accounted for my fixation with the volume…😏).

Now…when it comes to choice of song to best represent my love of 4Him to you, I am once again in such a quandary.

So many of their songs speak so much to me.

In the end, I went with what convicts my heart most at present.

For, in the end, whatever I am dealing with now and whatever comes down the pike later on, my heart is to live a message.

One of faith.

One of truth.

To make my life stand as this group’s name testifies to…

For Him.

Listen, be stirred, be inspired to live such a message.

Blessings and prayers, dear friends! ❤

What’s it All About?

Hey, there, dear friends. More stops on the midlife crisis express. Buckle up. 🙂

The above is the last page from my memoir. Can’t believe I actually dug it out after all this time, opened it up, and actually gave you a glimpse. But, it’s kind of significant to this present circumstance, so…

Anyway…

I wrote that bit about 5 years ago. Ok. Probably closer to 6 or so, when you add the year of shuffling my ambitious thoughts one publisher to the next.

I read it now and it’s just…wow. There was a nice little pocket of hope back there. I forgot I had it in me.

Like this:

Greater things have yet to come. Greater things are still to be done. This is only the beginning.”

And:

“Be well and be blessed right where you are for who you are.

Oh, pithy phrases, yes. Somewhere within is still a touch of delight in the flow of the words, honestly.

And, really, it’s nothing I don’t still believe, deep down.

Yet…I look at them now and, frankly, feel a little foolish for all I have to admit I was dreaming then versus where I now sit…

Which is on a secondhand couch with a cover that doesn’t fit quite right in a house yet unfinished.😏

Countless heartaches yet unfinished.

A life…yet…unfinished.

There was a lot more I wanted to be doing now, if I am being honest.

I wanted to be that polished, well-heeled author/speaker, going from one place to the next sharing all the knowledge He’d given me.

Advocating for my autistic beauties.

Reminding others of His truth, His grace, His providence.

(Not to be crass, but seeking a chunk of that providence and, perhaps, even that oft-elusive thing called financial security through fees and sells.)

I had been on the stage for years, after all. I could kind of, sort of public speak.

I’d played everything from a busybody mom (Father of the Bride) to an early 1900’s murderess (A Rose for Emily).

I even got our high school’s version of an Oscar ( coined the Larrys) for supporting actress once.

It was exhilirating and freeing to be up there playing pretend, particularly for one whose confidence had been so diminished over the years by abuse.

( And, yes, part of me wishes I had pictures to show you, too. But, there are a lot of things on the road to divorce from your high school sweetheart/acting partner- one of which is the disposal of artifacts related to your time together. )

At any rate, with that resume, I could potentially sell myself accomplished, right?

Even if, even if…I didn’t feel it all the time?

Or, really, hardly ever? 😏

Ummm…it turns out, no.

For, I discovered the hard way, as most things with me have had to be discovered, that playing a little old lady exposed for poisoning her lover’s lemonade and exposing my own vulnerabilities are much, much different.

For one is a performance and the other is just…not.

The other is life.

My life.

A life, granted, I can call redeemed in Jesus.

Hallelujah for that!

But, still a life I felt protective over.

Still feel protective over.

With kids and events and hurts and joys I felt and still feel protective over.

Things….not for sale.

I quickly found I just could not get up there and share it with anybody.

Nor could I sit smiling behind a tower of fresh books and “hawk my wares”.

Literal agony!

So, as is my tendency when faced with agony, I shut down and dashed away, flinging aside any regrets for the sake of safety.

There weren’t a ton of offers, or something, but I did beg off some opportunities and sure didn’t go pursuing any new ones after I realized how out of my wheelhouse it all was.

It was not long till the faint buzz calmed in this little town and beyond.

And not much after that that it went silent altogether.

So…now, 5 years later, here I am.

Still facing down the same pack of insecurities, if not more.

I have my things I do, my cookies I bake, my youth I talk with and counsel a bit.

Yet, overall, I find myself in further retreat than ever.

And maybe, just maybe, nursing some regrets that got imbedded in spite of my cross-country run away from expectations.

I hate to pull out the word “failure”.

It gives me such an unpleasant, sour feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And people invariably chide me for using it.

But, for all intents and purposes, according to a lot of standards, that is the word that suits me just now.

For, I ventured out in something big, picturing one thing, and it did not, in fact, become that at all.

It failed.

I failed.

Oh, it’s all right. I need no comfort as I put those words out there.

It’s just an unfortunate necessity as I ponder my life.

Where it’s been, where He wants to take it.

And, in all this midlife crisisy mumbo jumbo I have been serving up so often lately, I have to keep asking myself one key question:

“What’s it all about?”

Writing, sharing, life….

It’s a weighty question, but a worthy one.

For, if my end aim is only to make myself feel good for a while about myself, then it’s all for naught.

A flash-in-the-pan sensation at best.

Such a feeling will never satisfy. Not even worth messing with.

But, if this pursuit is truly about honoring Him with what He has given me alone to honor Him with, then…. it’s invaluable.

For, despite how I let the world and my own massive doubts rail against me some days-too many days,

It really, truly matters not what others think of my offering or what becomes of it.

After all, no deficiencies-real or imagined- can remain where one gives purely of one’s heart to the Father.

The past cannot truly define, the present cannot truly disappoint, and the future cannot truly discourage where His truth exists…

Now, I have to chuckle at myself a bit here as I just looked back on that page once more.

A few sentences above the other quotes I shared, I also said this:

“For the message isn’t how to be a success way down the road or how to be a success at all.”

And a few phrases down, just before the “be blessed” bit:

“Don’t look too far back and don’t strain too far ahead”.

Ahem. Well, then, Lord. Using my own words to set me right, huh?

He has a real way with that….🙂

You know, all this, and I still have not a notion really what He has for me next, but I am learning, with His patient reminders, not to fret on it.

Ok. So, thanks for riding along with me a ways, dear friends. I pray wherever you find yourselves at, you are feeling His presence guiding you into all He has for you. Blessings! ❤

The Better Ground

Hey, dear friends! Last night was another Wednesday, another gathering with our youth.

We managed a little pizza making, a bit of fun, a precious piece of worship, and a life-giving morsel of challenge to persevere in walking upright and in gratitude with the Lord.

And, for myself, I even experienced a slight expansion of tolerance for some of the situations weighing so heavily on me.

It’s not major shifts in my world or circumstances, but, rather, a step by step sort of journey, as I highly suspected it would be. In other words, God is beginning to move as I begin to allow His hand on me in this season of rebirth. A few words of pondering on the process…

The Better Ground

It’s a tough and a tender surrender,

A slow ache in the soul

Of the careful pretender.

Yet, there is a deeper goodness to be

Found

As I learn my Keeper always guides to

The better ground.

Not to say there is a sudden absence

Of pain in the climb

Nor that I don’t weary of

Drumming rain and the dull drag of

Time.

But, as He ministers lifebread along

The way,

Calling out both rest’s sweet

Deliverance

And the urge to seek the crest

With feet of forebearance,

I am gratefully discovering

I am sustained yet another day….

May we each allow the Lord to keep us and guide us in the climb. And may we seek both the perseverance and the gratitude needed. Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! ❤

The Onus

Hello, there! I had jotted down the first few lines of this one quite some time ago but could not find a finish till now.

It is easy to despair the state of our world and allow these cares to distract us from the mission we all have as His children. I pray we do not abandon His call to share the gospel, especially in this season where hope and healing are so desperately needed. May these few simple lines stir our hearts…

Why should we be surprised

When lost people act lost?

When their blinded eyes

Don’t recognize Calvary’s cost?

It’s dismaying,

The things they’re doing and saying,

There’s no doubt.

Yet, these heartwrenching things

They are displaying?

It’s often the inclination they know

The most about.

Never to excuse, mind you.

God’s truth is in every bit of creation

Calling out to draw and to woo.

But, believers, I feel I must say,

The burden to share Jesus

Is on us;

The onus is on us to point the way.

And, then, it is for us to stay,

Not to neglect to disciple and to pray,

But, rather, with humbleness of heart

To be a willing part,

Of seeing His filling impart,

Springing new life out of the decay.

May we indeed be about His business, sharing the truth of Jesus with those in need! Blessings and prayers, dear friends! Thanks for reading! ❤

Pastor Don is Free!

Well, here we are, friends. Mere weeks from the beginning of my request for prayer to this moment I honestly thought I’d dread to report.

And yet…it does not speak well of the body of Christ nor the glorious truth of life eternal to approach this with dread.

So, rejoicing through the tears, I will just say that at 2:40 pm, our dear Pastor Don left this earth.

He leaves behind his wife, Deb, and three grown children-Michael, Andrew, and Michelle.

They are blessed to know he is pain-free and waiting for them on the other side, but, of course, will sorrow in this separation, temporary though it may be.

They will treasure any prayers offered for them.

And, may it be noted for those of us privileged to have known him, he also gave us the gift of both a legacy of faith and a humble determination to lift the name of Jesus high.

Lord, may this inspiration continue to serve me well.

I appreciate so much the uniting of your prayers with ours. It has been such a comfort to know where we are separated by miles, we are near in our hearts, thanks to Christ.

Blessings and prayers. ❤

Following Jesus

Hello, there, friends. Impromptu home school has completed, I officially have a high school graduate, and we all remain well and busy. Finally got Zoom to work (sort of) and managed a few Brady Bunchish youth group meetings. Yay!

Last week, our small church was finally able to meet in person with some of the necessary adjustments.

I had the thrill of my two musical kiddos back to doing Praise Team just in time for Mother’s Day.❤

So…some changes are smoothing out…yet writing, my dear companion, has remained somewhat elusive.

Time continues to weigh in and snatch the quiet hours from my hand.

And then…today…

This morning, I had still been ruminating on what God would have me to share next and in what form. I was feeling kind of in a funk about it, to be frank.

And, then, the second Sunday our congregation was back together, the man we as a family have looked up to for spiritual encouragement and truth for the past six years stood at the pulpit today and decided it for me, with the hand of God firmly nudging the whole situation, naturally.

With all the humble honesty we have come to know and appreciate, our beloved pastor announced that after a month or more of resistance, he went to the emergency room to deal with ongoing pain struggles he had kept between himself and his wife.

After tests, it was discovered he has stage 4 cancer, affecting his prostate, bladder, lymph nodes, and already beginning to steal into his bones.

It was devastating news for us, to be sure, but nothing compared to what we imagine he is currently grappling with.

Of course, he requested prayer for both himself and his wife, one of the kindest women I have ever known and a constant help to my children.

If you feel so led, please feel free to add them to your prayer lists. Their names are Don and Deb.

But, that is not the bulk of what I want to share, really, as important as that is.

Instead, I want to draw on what he did following the announcement.

He proceeded with his sermon from the gospel of Mark, specifically about the calling of Simon Peter and Andrew.

About following Jesus.

From heart-stopping news to the Good News.

I could go on and on about how in awe I am at the bravery that took to keep stepping, keep sharing, keep pastoring today.

No one would’ve faulted him stepping away for this Sunday, if not longer.

Many have had to face that surrender and are certainly not lesser for it!

Yet…there he was today, pressing on.

However, I cannot help but be mindful of the humbleness and the striving to just share Jesus that fuels the soul of this man.

It spurs me on to the heart of the matter.

For, what could be expounded on in rich detail and complex emotion can also be summed up in the key phrase he shared with us today.

The same Jesus shared all those years ago with two rough fishermen from Galilee.

The same our Lord shares with us today:

“Come, follow Me.”

I am sure it wasn’t a simple decision to do that today, as many days are not, but we as a congregation got a great example of what that can look like.

No one has any idea yet where this journey will take Don, Deb, and our church. We all know evidence points to an arduous trek.

But, it also points to one not made alone.

Not when you are following Jesus.

Prayers and blessings, dear friends! Thanks for reading a small piece on a very dear person in my family’s world. I hope this finds you all well!