Sunday, January 24, 2010

TBD - To Be Determined


Written and understood as "to be determined" - often referring to a date or a location of some future event. The main theme of this future event is "mostly" formulated but the specifics, hard facts, details, are still being cemented.

I've rolled these three letters over and over in my mind this week upon hearing one of my dearest friends is now in jail having made some devastating choices. My heart weeps for the family involved. The snowball effect of deception and dishonesty has hit bottom and the piper must be paid.


It would seem that most of the story is formulated. Hard facts, details and specifics would seem cemented . . . and sadly some of them are. Irreparable damage has been caused. But the end of the story is . . .


By our choices we pen the chapters. We choose our destiny ultimately. We determine - we, us, you and me, "I" determine - I determine how the story ends. And so does my dear friend.

I grieve his choices and can't get his loss out of my mind. He has chosen many sad sad details. But the pen is still in motion. The event, the final event, as I read this morning in Romans 14 - "Each of us will stand personally before the judgment seat of God . . . yes, each of us will have to give a personal account to God." That final event is TBD.

Not the time, not the place, not the consequences . . . we only choose how we will be when we get there. Our choices are still being made. It's never too late to chose better.

Friend of mine, within those cement walls, wondering your fate, your destiny even after such tragic loss and shame . . . your ultimate event and redemptive moment is TBD. What will you choose? Determine to do right. Determine to seek God. Determine to restore what you have lost for yourself and what you've lost for others. Determine to say you're sorry. Determine to live your life out in a way that changes your stars. Determine to be a light even in that dark place.

B Determined. You can be. I know you. You can.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Damn Lucky

There's been a lot of turbulence in my life over the last 2 and a half years. More than any other time in my forty plus years. A car accident, moves, selling furnishings, more moves, cancer treatments for my spouse and as a mother of five children, losing my spouse to cancer.

It messes with your mind. It messes with your thinking. Even on my best days there is a gray cloud that sits in my peripheral waiting for the wind to blow and have it cover the sun. I'm working on the emotional reprocussions of the past two years - and it may take quite a bit more time to process it all.

There are words that haunt me when that dark cloud comes - words like "tragic", "widow", "alone", "death", "loss", "broken", and "final". And in the midst of trying to move forward with my life in positive ways, I hear this negative chatter tormenting me and getting in my way.

Then I found the bracelet. The bracelet that says just one word. The right word.


I wear it all the time.

Every time I look at it I say the word to myself. In fact, I've gotten so excited about the changes that I feel in adopting the word that I now say to myself "Damn Lucky!"

I am lucky. I could've been handicapped or dead after that car accident. I am lucky - I always had a roof over my head even when I worried sick over finances during cancer treatments. I am lucky - I knew an incredible amazing man who forever changed my life for the better and I know he is with Jesus - safe and at peace and in no more pain. I am lucky - I have wonderfully resilient children, incredible friends and family and a purposeful career that makes me smile every single day.

I decide the words I live by. I decide the energy I will give them. And I will remind myself of the truth about the path I've walked and the future God has for me. A simple bracelet that echoes the truth right from God. My life could have been so different. But here I am.


Yes I am.

And friend so are you. Maybe you just need a bracelet to remind you : )

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On The Outside of the Lesson

Its hard to be on the outside of a lesson. Hard to watch the Master training the child - even though the lesson must be taught. Hard to know what to do as the learning, the pain, the growing is taking place.

What do you do when you cannot interfere with the lesson life must teach?

In the Bible is a story of a father who brings his son to Jesus. "Master, my son is ill. He is possessed. He throws himself into the fire continually as if he is crazy. Heal him."

After all the father could do he brought his son to Jesus. And the boy was healed.

All we can do when those around us struggle with their own internal demons, their lessons, their fires, their illnesses, is bring them to Jesus. Sometimes we can pray with them. Sometimes we can only pray beside them. Bringing those pleas and those concerns to the feet of the Master who knows each one of us individually . . . that is the place of true healing.

It is in that quiet place, that place of faith where miracles absolutely can happen, that we thank God for the lessons that are so skillfully taught through challenges. And we trust that while someone we love is suffering, emotionally, physically, spiritually, relationally . . . we trust that the Master is teaching. And we trust that He knows best how to teach and how to heal.

"My child throws himself into the fire continually. Heal him."

It's hard to be on the outside of the lesson. But it gets easier when we trust He who is teaching.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shoulda Woulda Coulda

As I get older I notice a syndrome I call the "Should Woulda Coulda" syndrome. Young people rarely have it while most (the majority) of us older people do.

We look back and clearly (and somewhat self-loathingly) identify the big goofs in our lives. The losses. The missed opportunities. The hurt we've caused others. The disagreements. The education or career detours. The fish that got away. The overlooked moments to embrace or say "I love you". The ballgames missed. The vacations not taken.

In the moment we didn't see something that years later is obvious. And we wish we could go back and make more of that moment than we did.

Sadly those "Shoulda Woulda Coulda" moments were what they were. The past is the past. Hopefully however, those moments inspire change in the present.

The antidote for the syndrome are 3 words.
Say them with me. "I CAN NOW."


If you've missed an opportunity for education . . . I CAN NOW.
If you've hurt someone and need to apologize . . . I CAN NOW.
If you're holding on to a sin and need to change course . . . I CAN NOW.
If you love someone and have held back telling them . . . I CAN NOW.
If you wish you'd saved money, been more frugal, made a wiser decision . . . I CAN NOW.
And if you've been living with unhealthy patterns - physically, spiritually, emotionally . . . and want a different outcome . . . I CAN NOW.
If you are ready to be a new creature as the Bible says . . . I CAN NOW.

It is never too late to be who God wants you to be. Let God heal you today.

Whisper with me . . . "God, with your help, with your sovereignty, with your wisdom, with your forgiveness, with you by my side . . . no matter the past . . . I trust you. I can now."

Friday, January 8, 2010

When The Barn Burns Down

This past week I attended my Grandmother's funeral. Always an emotional rite of passage, this funeral brought tears and lessons. I have been introspective. It has been a call to action for me.

You see, I was reminded about the fire.

My Grandmother and Grandfather worked a dairy farm. Along with other Aunts and Uncles, they milked 300 head of cattle a day. All of the children, cousins to each other, worked the farm too - my father being a young boy at the time. The days were long and the work was difficult but it made for a wonderful life and a great work ethic.

One day billows of smoke were seen. My father remembers running almost a mile to see what was burning. Devastated, it was the milk barn. Over the next three days the entire barn and milking areas burned to the ground. It took every available hand from near and far to help put out the hay and ashes.

My Grandparents must have been devastated as they watched. They had ten children to care for. What would they do now?

Have you ever felt that way? Watching the ashes of your life like twigs of hay on fire, flipping and whirling in the heat of an all consuming raging fire? What will you do now?

I had heard about the fire before. What I had not heard before the day of the funeral was even as the fire was burning . . . the 300 cows still needed to be milked. Twice a day.

That my friend was powerful. Even as the barns were burning there were essentials that had to be addressed. Ten children. 300 cows. And the barn is on fire. They did not give up. They kept milking the cows. They kept their children close. And now years later their faith and courage inspires me to do the same.

Even when the barn burns down . . . keep your family close . . . keep your faith . . . and keep milking. One day you will look back and realize that you had the most important things all along.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Rest

A trite saying "enter into the rest of the Lord". We often think of that in the term "repose" or "restoration" and even "rejuvenation". Rest is something we seek when we are exhausted or overworked. Rest is something we hope we find in heaven after toiling here in our earthly existence. I've thought that too. This morning I had a new thought.

The story of Job. In one day his flocks were destroyed, his children and servants killed, his homes devastated, his life derailed. Then he was plagued with sores and sickness. Life as he'd known it was over. Finished. Buried.

Job 6:2 "If my sadness would be weighed and my troubles be put on the scales, they would be heavier than all the sands of the seas."

And he stayed in that broken place for a long time. Long enough to question what God had for him. Long enough to realize that God ultimately was in total control of his life and steps. "Whatever He wants to do, He does. So He will do for me all He has planned. He controls my destiny."

Understanding this truth, Job became more clear on God's purpose, his own meekness, and his love for God. And Job began to pray for his friends and their success. Things changed . . .

"When Job prayed for his friends the Lord restored his fortunes. In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before! . . . So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning". . . Job lived 140 years after that. He died an old man who had lived a long, good life . . . so the Bible says.

The rest of the Lord. The REST.

As Paul Harvey says, "And now, for the REST of the story". Enter . . . the REST.

Perhaps you are looking at the first half of your life or where you are right now and you are devastated at the losses. Perhaps your dreams have been stolen, your goals downright impossible, your path bleak. And you are tired. You want rest.

Perhaps the God of the second half has something powerful in mind for you - the comeback kid - and there is more coming in your life than you ever dreamed possible. Perhaps 2009 was filled with loss and pain and sadness. I understand. But I also know the God we serve. And I know the story isn't over yet.

Enter the REST of the Lord. Ask Him. Lord? What is the REST of my story in YOU? Through YOU? What chapters are YOU still writing? What's the REST? What can You and I do together in 2010? What is the REST? Pray for the success of your family and friends. Know that God loves you and knows you completely. God is on your side.

You may be surprised at the dreams God is already dreaming with you in mind . . . time for the REST you've so badly needed.