Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chapter 10: The Love of a Father

the authors words in red

As this book is coming to an end I can't help but reflect on my state of mind when I first began. One thing for sure, it has been a timely one for me. 

I am so grateful for the wisdom between the pages, sprinkled with God's word throughout, this book has been a guide as my Heavenly Father has taught me some serious life lessons.

When we first began this study back in March I was battling fear each and every day, sometimes moment by moment. It had not even been a month since my heroin addicted son had been arrested for attempted robbery.  

Yet, the battle has subsided. 

Not much has changed in my circumstances. My son is still incarcerated. There are still many unknowns to his future.

Early on we discussed how God never intended for us to live in fear. As I continued to walk through the pages of this book and also peek into the lives of others walking with me. I began to grasp hold of the truth of God's word.

"For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self discipline"

With this weapon in hand, along with much encouragement from brothers and sisters in Christ. I have been able to fight the good fight and emerge victorious from the raging battle I found myself in just a few short months ago.

In this chapter we focus on God the Father. How touching to read of the moment Mitch was able to accept unconditional love from Pat. 

"Later, as I reflected on the incident, I realized that Pat mirrored the character of our heavenly Father when he vowed to always love Mitch and never let him go."

Yes, our heavenly Father is the perfect example for us as we love our children. As Paul and I have raised our children we have tried to point them to God by taking them to church, teaching them day by day. Trying our best to be witnesses for Christ. 

In spite of all we have done, the eldest of the four walked away from the lessons of his youth. In doing so he walked right into the arms of evil. Drugs took over his life. He was twisted into something unrecognizable to those of us who have known and loved him. As I helplessly watched this transformation take place over the course of four and a half years, many times I would say things like "who are you?" or "this is NOT who you are" I remember distinctly one time after a four day drug binge he had come home to retrieve some clothing. I looked him right in the eye and said "I don't know who you are anymore".  He had no answers for me, he just shrugged and left. 

Micca writes "sometimes because of things that happened in our past, we think the Lord could never love us."

This is what happened to Brett. Not only did he think that God could never love him, he also thought that we could no longer love him.

Sometimes I wonder how I would have dealt with this trial outside of the love of God. As I have walked this road I have been exposed to many different opinions on how to handle addiction. "Tough Love" is a phrase that is thrown around a lot. Often I cringe when I hear certain versions of this "tough love". Basically it is not love at all, it is self preservation. It is abandonment. 

God's love transforms. 

"The goal of God's love is not to approve of our sin. It is to transform our lives through faith in His Son" While we must suffer the cost of our actions, God is not out to condemn us. He's out to set us free from the chains of sin that bind us. Therefore we have nothing to fear."

I am so very thankful that I have not had to endure this trial with my son outside of the love of God. He is my perfect example. He has loved me with an everlasting love.  As He loves me in perfect holiness, He enables me to love my son the same. 

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Six Things

My friend Stacy posted this game so play along if you feel like it.

Six things that are unimportant but make me happy

  1. finding a parking spot right near my regular entrance at the mall
  2. oreo cookies
  3. make - up
  4. magazines
  5. a new purse
  6. new shoes

Friday, May 22, 2009


Just a short post today

Life around here has been so tragic of late

I haven't posted much about my other children as the drama of the oldest has kind of encroached upon all territory

Today Blake really made me laugh out loud though

it was not his intention to make me laugh and I do believe my laughter annoyed him to no end

so, I just had to share....

Parents of teenagers will at least smile if not lol

here is our dialogue as he was preparing to go to school and then on to his regional track meet.

Blake "mom, do you have any cash?"

Me  "Umm, no I don't"

Blake  (in an exasperated tone)" Sigh, Why Not??"

Me  "Hmm, I dunno I just don't find myself in need of cash very often, I use my check card"

Blake "Geez mom, you REALLY need to carry cash"

Me "Why?"

Blake "Because I need cash all the time!!"

I don't know why but I thought this was hilarious......

Blake did not share my humor

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Chapter 9: The Right Kind of Fear

As usual the authors words are in red

In this chapter Micca talks about good fear. Up until now we have been discussing unhealthy fears.

 "To have godly fear means to revere and hold God in awe, not offending Him with sin..... Reverential fear is a noble and healthy fear of God's greatness and holiness"

This kind of fear is good. It keeps us on the path God intends. When Micca writes "What would our world look like if spouses respected one another, children honored their parents, citizens obeyed the laws and authorities, and all people revered the Lord?" Our world would indeed look more like what God intended. 

I have seen glimpses of this in my life. As my husband and I seek God as we raise our family there are times where God's grace and love abound. Within our church family we see glimpses as well. Wherever there are believers who are living lives surrendered to God there will be the blessings that come with obedience. Security, unconditional love, peace and harmony.

Whether people believe in God or not He is real. He is the one who created the universe and set all the laws in motion. Physical laws and spiritual laws. Those who fear God and obey his laws are always blessed. Those who may not know Him and fear Him but obey His laws will be blessed as well, just not to the degree that a true relationship brings. Whether you believe in gravity or not you are subject to it.

Likewise whether you believe in God's principals or not you will "reap what you sow", you are subject to the spiritual laws of the universe just like the physical laws.

 If they have obeyed many of the spiritual laws God has set in place. Treat others the way you want to be treated, Be kind, compassionate, give to the poor and needy etc... A life lived following these laws will most undoubtedly be blessed. 

Perhaps this is why some nonbelievers can so easily dismiss the possibility of an omnipotent God. Often they just don't realize that He is the one responsible for their joy, they don't think they "need" God.

It always amazes me when I hear non believers say things like. "If he is such a good god why does he allow suffering?" or "I don't want to worship a god who lets murderers go to heaven". Usually these statements are made with an air of arrogance or at the least frivolity.

I sometimes want to grab them and give them a shake as I remind them just who they are so casually speaking about.

The one true God of the universe!!

The ONLY response to Him should be on our face reverence for He is Holy! He set the stars in the sky and hung the moon for goodness sake!! We should tremble at His name. 

But.... I have yet to shake one I'm sharing with. So far God has always given me the grace and patience needed. The Holy Spirit gives me the words to share and He continues to work in the hearts of man as He draws them to Himself.

For yes He is Holy but He is also full of mercy and grace.

2 Peter 3:9b 
"......  Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Storm

I had originally written this back in March, I don't know why I didn't post it. Perhaps it just got lost in the storm. I was going over old posts this evening and found it. I wanted to post it now because I remember where I was when I wrote it and while I may not be on a mountain top yet, the sun is shining. In any case here it is......

I find myself in a spiritual storm of sorts today

I saw it coming.... 

There were dark clouds, rumbling.... yes, the signs of an impending storm were definitely there

Yet I was as powerless to stop it as I would be to stop a real thunderstorm

At times the thunder is deafening
I see flashes of lightning everywhere
The rain is relentless, pounding down all around me
The wind is fierce I can hardly hear myself think as it howls all through the night

At first I was so frightened by this storm
The rain blinded me, the lightning terrified me, I could hardly walk....
paralyzed, as the wind gusted all around me eventually casting me down like a rag doll

It was there, on my face, completely bewildered and frightened that I heard a voice........

Come to Me my child

Isaiah 41:10
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

He reached down from Heaven and ever so gently picked me up and gathered me to Himself

Here in His arms the rain, thunder, and lightning cannot touch me. For I know that the rain falls, and the lightning flashes and the wind blows only at his will

I don't know when this storm will end but I do know that just like real storms are needed to cleanse and water the earth. There is a reason for this one in my life 

I know the sun will shine again

Until then I will lean into His arms and wait

Friday, May 15, 2009

Chapter 8 : Overcoming the Fear of the Unknown

The authors words are in red

In the first section of this chapter as Micca relates her son Mitch's narrow escape from harm in a car accident she speaks of the miracle that he wasn't hurt. God's hand was upon him. Unfortunately that same night a young man from their church killed himself and undoubtedly devastated his mother in doing so. Micca writes " I could have been her"

That short phrase sent me back a couple of months. A short time before I learned that my oldest son was a heroin addict I purchased a book written by Ruth Bell Graham called Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, Words of Encouragement For Those Who Wait. I purchased the book because my son had walked away from his faith and seemed to be floundering in life, I had seen him struggle with drugs but had no idea the extent of his addiction.

 The forward to the book is written by her daughter Gigi who herself is a mom of a prodigal that Ruth writes about. In the forward she tells a story of a woman who had come to hear Ruth speak and afterwards approached her to ask if she thought that she would see her son in heaven. "My son died of an overdose of drugs" she said. Ruth, full of God's grace responded by asking the question "if you heard a timid knock on your door one day, and you answered the knock only to find your child standing there, bruised, wounded, bleeding, dirty and tattered, what would you do? Slam the door in his face? Or would you throw open the door and welcome him into your arms?

Barely a week after I received the book I discovered that my son was a heroin addict and within two weeks of that day he was gone. I remember thinking "I don't want to be that mom"! I also remember hearing a voice in my head say "You ARE that mom".  While that thought did torment me for a time I knew immediately that it was NOT from God. Recognizing that was the first step in overcoming the debilitating effects of fear. Unfortunately, my battle had just begun.

Micca writes "usually our concerns never come to pass anyway". I wish I could say this was true for me. While the fear of losing Brett to an overdose has not come to pass one other fear did. Over the past five years there have been several times that he has left our home for weeks and months at a time. We had minimal to no contact with him during these periods. During those times I used to flinch when I would hear sirens. I watched the evening news with much trepidation. It was as if in the back of my mind somewhere I knew he would be on the news some day.

I recall watching the  latter part of a news story on a Thursday evening about a young man who attempted to hold up a pharmacy. I saw the man being led away in handcuffs. He had a hoodie pulled over his face and his name was not released. I remember clearly thinking that could be Brett. I shuddered at the thought but shrugged it off. The following day I was sitting at my computer around 6:00 pm when a dear friend called.

 "Hey Tina, how are you doing?"
 "I'm fine Pam, how are you?" 
"Oh sweetie, you don't know....... 
My heart began to pound.
 "No,.... what?"
 I don't want to be the one to tell you. 
"Tell me what?"
"The news" she said." There was a drug store....". 
Immediately, the story from the night before came to mind. 
"Oh my God, that was Brett wasn't it"
 "Yes dear, they showed his picture". 
I have to go....

One of my worst fears had come true. 

I praise God for her. I praise Him that he spared me the shock of witnessing the story first hand. There is no other way I would have rather heard the news. She is a loving christian woman full of mercy and grace. My husband was out of town on a business trip not due back until the following day.

Words cannot describe the depth of despair I found myself immersed in. The next few weeks were difficult to say the least. As difficult as they were I can say that alongside of the worst emotional pain I've ever experienced came the feeling of the presence of God in a more powerful way than I have ever experienced.

 Micca quotes Isaiah 43:2-3. Oh how I love this passage! It has been put to music and when I see it posted in our bulletin I know to pull out my tissue for it always evokes such strong feelings of love and adoration I can but scarcely contain myself when I sing it!

 I remember distinctly God bringing me to Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. As I read those words I thought "isn't THAT the truth"!! My days of late have had all kinds of trouble. That being said,  all of my worries had not changed the future I had dreaded. They did rob me of peace many times though. I am determined to not let that happen again. 

If you've read my recent posts you know that God has shown himself in a mighty way. I am not walking in fear anymore. I am walking with God, one day at a time. Choosing to look to the wonderful answers to prayer I have witnessed. Continuing to seek Him for wisdom every day as I read His word. 

Micca writes " Something amazing happens when we faithfully cry out to the Lord, believing in His perfect care. Our faith suddenly becomes stronger than our fear". Yes it does, even when in our grief we cannot see it, we continue to get up each day and seek him until one day we get up and realize the pain has subsided, and what is left is a wonderful peace and joy that comes with knowing the Father.

As for the future. Yes there are many unknowns, some of which may not be easy. One thing I know for sure is that regardless of what the future will bring I am more convinced than ever that there is nothing that will come that can take away the love I have in Christ. I am stronger now than I was four months ago. I have seen the power of God in my life and in the life of my son. I look to the future now with great anticipation rather than fear.  For I know that 
"Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world".

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Chapter 7: What's the Worst That Could Happen?

The authors words are in red

In the section entitled Nothing New Under the Sun I was gripped by this line " Despite the presence of evil, people are living everyday life as usual". The reason being this, recently my family has endured several tragic events. In the days following I found myself at times overwhelmed with despair. It was difficult to do much of anything.  I would sit on the sofa wrapped in a blanket unmotivated to do much more than mindlessly channel surf. Incredulous at the reality of how time marches on. People continue with their lives. My world had come crashing down. I just wanted to scream at times. I wanted the whole world to stop. To stop so I could make sense of it all, so I could fix things. Problem is, evil does exist in the world. Sometimes we live for so long without it really touching us that we forget it's there.

 That was me. I recall years ago when a pastor preached about tragedy. He said "Either you are enduring one now, have in the past or will in the future". I have to admit that I really didn't want to hear that.  It bothered me. Micca echos his assertion " Each person in some way has tasted the bitterness of sorrow and tragedy". Although, she points out the truth that "God didn't design disease, exploitation, uncertainty, combat, gloom, misery, or death. These are all results of living in a fallen, broken, sin-sick world".

In spite of the uncertain world we live in it is true that "calamity, sickness, world hunger, debt and death are not the worst things that can happen to a person." Just like Parker, I agree that nothing is worse than not knowing the love of God through Christ. For surely without His love in the world we would live in the midst of pure evil and chaos. 

How else can Corrie ten Boom's strength and faith be explained? If you have never read "the Hiding Place" I highly recommend it. It tells the story of Corrie's life which tragically includes time in a Nazi concentration camp. When I first read the story I was amazed, I remember shuddering to think of her reality. Back then I thought "I could never have endured what she did". True, but I have learned that Corrie did not endure alone. It was through Christ that she was able. 

My heart lifted as I read the scripture reference Micca used Romans 8:35,39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?...nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord"

The reason my heart jumped is that it was that same scripture that God used to show my heroin addicted son that even the evil of heroin cannot, and will not separate him from His love. Brett read that verse in a jail cell. Desperate, broken, seeking God for the first time in years with a truly contrite heart. 

Several weeks earlier Brett had come home seeking our help with his heroin addiction. I recall sharing that verse with Brett after he had said to me "mom, you just don't know the things I have done".  It was as if there was a heavy veil over his heart and he just couldn't see the truth. I believe now that Brett wasn't ready to let go of drugs,  he was ready to let go of the heroin but not the other drugs he had for so long come to depend on. He wasn't looking for God. I was devastated. I continued to pray as I had done for five years. The following day Brett walked out of our home back to a life with drugs.  The days that followed were filled with pain, sorrow, and uncertainty. Yet, I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4.

Two weeks went by before I found myself on the other side of a glass window in the city jail speaking to my precious Brett through a phone. Unable to hug him, I poured every bit of love I had out to him as I again pointed him to God's word. I encouraged him to go to the cross. I told him to look in the Psalms. I shared with him Romans 8:28 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. I continued to pray.

God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Our circumstances change as our lives go on but He is the same. Loving, just, merciful, full of grace. Whether we are on a mountain top praising Him for blessings or in a dark pit crying out for His presence He will always answer us. I have learned that while tragedy is an inevitable part of life there is nothing that will happen that I cannot endure with the help of God and by His strength.

The day was February 9th that Brett was granted a peace that passes all understanding. A peace that led him to tell me "I am happier than I have been in a long, long time" in spite of his circumstances. He shared with me how he read Romans 8:35-39 and realized that God had been with him all along, waiting for him to repent and turn to Him.
 He also told me that he had received great comfort from Psalm 51. I wasn't familiar with that Psalm so when I got home from visiting him that night I looked it up. I wept as I read it because it was clear why God had led him there.

While I don't know the future holds I am less fearful these days. I have been in a pit, I cried out to God and he lifted me. He has strengthened me, I am walking in faith not fear.