Ageless

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“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  Hebrews 13:8

There is nothing better than the honesty of a child.  Some of my most favorite and memorable conversations have been with these “just say it like it is” people.   Getting to serve in our Awana program at our church is a blessing on so many different levels.  This Wednesday another leader and I were the last to leave the room I work in with third and fourth grade girls.  As we entered the hallway we were greeted by one of the young men from the third and fourth grade boys class walking by himself.  The rest of the children had already lined up and departed to go to the gym for game time.  When asked why he was by himself he stated that he had let his leader know he was heading to the gym.  My fellow leader decided to go back and check and make sure there were no more kiddos left behind and to see if the leader from the boys class needed help.  I accompanied my young friend on to the church gymnasium.  He clearly did not want to do anything wrong and asked me why he shouldn’t walk by himself.  I then explained that it is safer if there is a group of children together or that you should at least walk with one of the adults.  He then asked most sincerely “Do you count as an adult?”  I replied, “Well most days I think.”   He had no idea that what he just asked was a huge compliment in so many ways.  In defense of his youthful perception of this forty-one year old mother of two, we did just spend some time the evening before watching silly videos my daughters and I had made.  He is the son of my daughter’s piano teacher and on occasion he will hang out and talk with me while I wait during the lesson.  My children and I have been having a blast with a phone application that distorts our face and voices.  From his perspective there are times I may seem like one of the kids.

There are so many spiritual thoughts that can come from that little conversation.  There is safety in numbers or to surround yourself with positive Christ following friends to stay on the right path were just a couple thoughts.  Then God got me to thinking about why my young friend’s question was a compliment.  The image of Jesus and His life here on earth and what He has done in my life came to mind.  Who he related to and how he related to them.  He was and is ageless.  He relates to people of all ages from all walks of life if they open their heart to him.  As a child I can remember most times my perception of adulthood or maturity was that a person had to be serious all the time.  There were some adults and even elderly friends of mine growing up that had that ageless quality about them.  Despite the fact that they had white hair, wrinkles, and were quite a bit taller than me I loved to spend time with them as if they were a kid my age.  My friend Ruby, an elderly neighbor, comes to mind.  She was easy to talk to and made me feel so at ease.  She liked to listen to me and shared tons of neat stories of her life with me.  She was “real”.  She was fun and not stern.   It was the Christ-like quality of being able to meet a person at their needs or on their level so to speak that she had.

Jesus has been able to meet me where ever I am throughout my entire life.  What it has always taken has been my willingness to respond to Him.  To not shut Him out of my life.

To relate to human beings of any age, from all walks in life, to find a way to relate to anyone is not necessarily something I have given much thought about or strived for.  To not fit in a specific category to my young friend came as a huge surprise.  We age physically no matter what.  Growing old gracefully is something that I have come to embrace.  With Christ we can remain ageless.  We are given the gift of eternal life through Jesus when we accept Him as our Savior and Lord.  Another blessing of God I had never considered until this interaction with my young friend is that in life we can be ageless.  As my relationship with Christ continues to grow I pray that He will continue to help me learn to love and relate to every person I come in contact with.

Show me Something Beautiful

 

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As I waited in a hospital waiting room today to just have a routine preventive care exam I noticed a man making hand gestures to his phone.  As I looked closer he was signing to a lady on his phone.  The angle I had gave me the privilege of viewing them both as they communicated.  It was beautiful.  I was unable to assess who was deaf because they continued in this silent beautiful language.  Not knowing sign language myself I had no idea what they were saying so I felt that my long and frequently looks that direction were less invasive.  Their overcoming of an obstacle and a positive that has come from technology warmed my heart.

My prayer this morning pleaded with God to show me some beauty in this world.  The injustices and oppression of innocence in our world has had me very down lately.  Ultimately I know God is in control of all.  Sometimes I wonder if I am doing everything I can and what God wants me to do to help the hurting and brokenness in our world.  This was a reminder to continue to see human beings as Jesus sees them.  To love at every opportunity.   A reminder that God provides a way to overcome life’s obstacles.

There is such a focus on racism especially in the United States right now.  To me it is greatly instigated by the news media and small hate groups that get big publicity.  When I look at our country I see a huge melting pot of every nationality.  I see more blended families than ever.   I see families adopting children no matter the race or disability.  When I am at work I see nurses of every color holding the hands of patients of all colors.  The medical field has people from every color and nationality working together to provide care of others.  In the everyday life of everyday working people striving to provide for their families there is not a problem of racism.  By the way the people communicating by sign language were a different color of skin than me.  They were beautiful.   Human beings are beautiful no matter the color or disability.  What has made this an ugly world is sin.  The evil in a person’s heart.

We have a choice we can look at others with hate in our heart for any differences or we can look at others with love.  The only true way to fully look at others with love comes from the love of Jesus Christ.  He didn’t hang on the cross and say I am only dying for a certain color of skin, religion, or physical perfection qualities.  No He died for all so that the greatest infliction that we all suffer from, sin, can be wiped away.  So that our eyes, ears, and hearts can be fully opened to the truth.  So that we can truly know what it means to be loved and to show love.

Romans 13:10 “Love does no harm to its neighbor.  Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”

Romans 5:8  “God demonstrates His love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 John 4:7-11 “ Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.  This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.  This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”

I can’t say it better than God’s word.  Allow the love of Jesus to fill your life and ask Him to help you see others the way He does.  You will be amazed at the beauty that surrounds us in the people that surround us.

What Good Can Come From Family Barforamas?

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Recently my sister was sharing the woes of dealing with a stomach bug that had inflicted her children.  Her saga reminded me of the barforama scene from the movie Stand By Me.  As a teen I thought the scene was hysterical and as an adult I still find it an epic movie moment!  Nurses have a warped sense of humor so I understand many others may not find the barforama scene so entertaining.   My sister’s stories also reminded me of a Lucas family barforama during the early years of our little family.  Our youngest was a baby probably around 8 months old so our oldest child would have been 3.  As I recall the first heaves and rounds of vomitus came from the oldest child.  As the mother I started off with the care and cleanup involved in a young child that didn’t get to a proper vomit receptacle quick enough.  The bed change and bath quickly developed into an all night series of bed changes and baths.  My husband noted the fact that I was growing weary and pitched in to help.  I think we both had just finished saying “Hopefully Cora doesn’t get it!”, when the dreadful sound of retching billowed from the baby’s room.  The barforama parent tag team clean up squad was now in full activation mode.  Trying to catch the nasty liquid in ice cream buckets was our goal, but alas the pile of dirty sheets, blankets, and towels continued to grow into a mountainous heap in the hallway.  We ran smack into each other in the hallway in our barf catching scrambles several times which led into uncontrollable slap happy laughter.  The bug left our family as quick as it had hit, but will always go down in our parenting history books as the Lucas family barforama.

Parenting is life’s greatest challenge on so many levels.  What good comes from a tormentous night such as this?  Trust is born out of what seems horrific from most perspectives.  With each little bump, bruise, scrape, stomach illness, sore throat, and growing up heart aches our girls have learned that mom and dad are there.  Trust started to develop from day one with the first feeding and diaper change.  Our girls have learned that we will always be there for them to the best of our human ability.  Of course being a human being has its limitations as we get sick sometimes and sometimes we don’t handle every situation perfectly.  I think every nursing class required learning and relearning Erikson’s stages of psychosocial stages of development.  Trust verses mistrust still ranks as the most important in my own opinion.  Who can we trust in our life?  Do we come into this world fully able to care for our every need?  No, we come into this world completely helpless.

From the very first breath we take we are learning about trust.  God created us to have trust and faith that our needs will be met.  Ultimately His desire is for each one of us to learn to completely trust in Him to meet our needs.  So often we have to learn from the bad, sickness, and pain in life that He is the one and only completely worthy of our trust.  This world will let us down.  The medical field will let us down.  The government will let us down.  Our families may let us down.  Friends will let us down.  We will let our own selves down.  The more a person relies on God to meet them at their time of need the less scary those times seem.  He is always faithful.

Matthew 6;25-34 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

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My mother caught this moment with her phone yesterday and it has stirred tremendous emotion within me from the moment I first laid eyes on the photo.

The man’s face in the photo is my father.  When he died in March the funeral director took a great photo my mom had of my father and she and had it made into a tapestry.  My mom has the tapestry placed on the back of her couch in the center of her home with dad’s face exposed very prominently. The photo of my father was a priceless photo that caught the true essence of the person he was on this earth.  It captures the Christ-like love and joy that poured from his eyes and his life.  It captures the expression he would have had if he were actually there holding his precious little grand daughter.

That day my sweet four year old niece was not feeling well.  My mom cared for her while my sister and brother-in-law were at work.  First they were at my sister’s home and decided to watch the video of pictures of my father from his funeral.  One of my mother’s greatest concerns has been that her grandkids have not had the opportunity to express their grief as his death was such a surprise.  At the time we were all focused on our own personal loss of him.  Grief is different for us all, but we all feel the loss no matter our age or the amount of years spent with the one we love.  Evelyn only had four short years and it is important to us all that she and all the grandkids get to know what an amazing Godly man their Papa was.  Shoot I had 41 years and I still feel like the time was cut way too short.  My mother had 44 1/2 years of marriage to him and longs to have had more time.

Mom and sweet Evelyn then went to my mother’s house for some lunch and to watch a movie.  Evelyn had spent a lot of time there with Papa watching movies and eating popcorn. It was after the movie my mom caught this moment.  She said Evelyn was hugging and had been actually rubbing her hand along my father’s face.  Torn, she decided to go ahead and take a picture of the moment.  The longing in Evelyn’s eyes is priceless.  It makes my heart hurt all over again for our loss.  This picture of Evelyn reflects what is happening with this little girl that is still inside of my 41 year old body.  There are days that I still want to hug my daddy’s face.  There are moments that I want his advice or to just take a long walk looking at God’s creation with him.  Evelyn’s expression doesn’t just capture the emotion of our family, but of all people hurting and missing a loved one.   No matter who we are there is still a sweet little 4 year old within us all that longs for that fatherly love.

Many of us may never get to know the love of a earthly father like I was so blessed with.  This is not a bragging statement, but an acknowledgment of the fact that having a loving father is truly a gift.  More and more are without father’s on this earth.  Ever wonder why the earth is growing more and more evil?  There is a tremendous shortage of loving daddies out there.

This picture brings out the emotion of gratitude within me as well as my grief.  Gratitude for an amazing father and for the time I did have with him on earth.  Also a deeper gratitude for what God did for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross so that we have the opportunity to no longer be separated from our loving Heavenly Father, God, by our sins.  You see no matter what we are dealt in this life, an absentee dad, an abusive dad, or a good dad we all actually have a loving Father.  God longs for our love and He is always waiting with open arms.  He gave us freewill because He wants us to long for Him as well.   To have a relationship means both parties desire to have that closeness and love.  God sent Jesus to bridge the gap that our sin causes so that we can curl up into the loving arms of our Heavenly Father, God.  It is moments of pain like missing my earthly father so much that I feel the presence of God so deeply.  He gives me eternal perspective and fills my heart with such joy, peace, love, and compassion for this world I live in.  All attributes that don’t flow from me they are only attributes that come from a perfect, Holy, almighty, all-powerful, creator, God.

I am also reminded that for the follower of Jesus death is not the end.  It is the beginning of true life.  I can say with BOLD confidence that I know for sure my father is in heaven.  I can say with BOLD confidence that I know I will one day be there too and see my dad again.  Oh how amazing that day will be to get to thank Jesus face to face for giving LIFE!!!!

You are Beautiful “God Don’t Make no Junk”

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On Monday I encountered a woman who had several negative things to say about herself.  When she stated “I am ugly” for the first time another friend of mine was nearby and stated “no you are beautiful”.  My reply was the infamous “God don’t make no junk”  statement to her.  (I did a search trying to find who originally said “God don’t make no junk” and came up with 3,200,000 search results.  The saying has been used in a lot of sermons.) Anyhoo as our encounter continued she continued to sneak in very negative comments about herself and her appearance.  As I found out more about her family I asked her “Does your family love you?” she replied, “Yes”.  I then proceeded to tell her “Well then you HAVE done something right! The media and Hollywood give us women a fake image of what beauty is.”  “Us women don’t get enough credit for what we do and who we are.”  “The fact that your family loves you shows that you are truly a beautiful woman.”  We both started to grow teary eyed at this point because I too fight those negative feelings from time to time.  As I am sure every female on the planet, if being honest, would say they fight them from time to time as well.  Giving her a smile, a hand pat, the fact that I had no further time to go into a biblical sermon I simply finished with “No more negative comments about yourself…you ARE beautiful!”

I am far from being a counselor.  How helpful those few words were I don’t know.  I do feel her struggle.  Outward beauty has been a struggle previously in my life.  At this point it is more of feeling the pressure to be “Superwoman”.  The pressure to work full-time and totally rock as a nurse, to have a perfectly clean house, a perfectly manicured yard, to serve in all capacities at church, to do fun and creative things with my children, to attend every game and performance, plus the burden of wanting to help so many, but not having the resources of time and finances to do everything…the list goes on and on…  Monday I started feeling ill and by Monday night I spiked a fever.  The last two days I was stopped dead in my tracks with no energy to eat or shower. Beauty was far from my thoughts as my hair had a great start in forming dreadlocks if that were a style I chose to pursue. The illness has required me to call off of work and back out of any responsibilities for two and a half days now.  My house is a wreck needless to say.  My family has had to fend for themselves for food.  The only positive that I can muster from feeling crummy is that it does show what all I do accomplish through the day.  When a person is unable to fulfill their normal activities of life it does leave a hole.  My father would often get so doubtful of his ministry as a pastor of a small church.  He would wonder if he was making any sort of difference.  The hole he left when he died is so evident of the difference he made in this world.

We are all beautiful and have a specific purpose that God has planned for us.  Our human nature brings in the negative and doubtful thoughts of our worth.  God reveals our worth if we take the time to listen and to walk with Him.  I love reading Proverbs 31 and pray that God will allow my life to somehow come close to the beauty of “the Proverbs 31 woman”.   “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.”  Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

It is ok to Doubt God?

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Today the lesson for our middle school children at our church was about having doubts about God and if that is ok or not.  Writing about our doubts has been burning on me since I first looked at the lesson.  It was great today to get to sit back and listen as my co-teacher (who does such a great job) led the lesson.  There is a lot of learning that can happen when we actually sit, listen, and allow ourselves to really think about what God is trying to tell us.  It was also great to hear the children’s responses.

The girls weren’t really sure when first presented with the question as to whether or not having doubt and questioning was ok.  They weren’t sure if God would be ok with any unbelief.  One of the girls brought up the fact that God killed Ananias and Sapphira for lying in Acts 5:1-11. That was from a lesson on lying we had a few weeks ago.  It was encouraging in the fact that the girls are actually listening.  We do have to be careful of only looking at the wrath of God in scripture and missing the truth and reasons for it. The key in that story is that they lied to God.  Their hearts were dishonest.  Are we dishonest when we tell God that sometimes we doubt or are we dishonest when we act like pompous know it all’s that never question our faith?

God knows we have a human sinful nature.  That was His whole purpose to send Jesus to the cross to save us from that sinful nature.  As long as we are alive we will have the human nature creeping into our thoughts and decisions even after choosing to follow Jesus.  Having doubts is part of our humanness.  What God wants more than anything is for us to have a personal relationship with Him.  What do we want most out of relationships?  Honesty would rank extremely high in any kind of relationship.  If I ask a friend if I have food in my teeth or on my face I want the honest truth!! Seriously though it has been the times in my life of my greatest doubts and fears that God has done His greatest work in me.  It has been those overwhelmed cries to Him as fears and doubts bear down on my faith that God has revealed His glory to me.  So often His miracle is within my own heart.  He opens my eyes to new perspectives, His perspective.   A change in me that can only be from Him and only would have happened through my doubting.

Our lesson was from Mark 9:14-27 with verses 22-24 as the focus verses.  “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus.  “Everything is possible for him who believes.”  Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”  He didn’t condemn the father for questioning and admitting that he had unbelief. He honored the honesty by showing the child’s father God’s glory and power by healing his son.  Do you think the father had much unbelief after that encounter?

In our discussion “doubting Thomas” was brought up.  John 20:24-29.  There again  honest questions and doubt were presented by Thomas and Jesus then provided proof of His nail scarred hands.  One of the girls said and I paraphrase.  “So doubting Thomas was actually a good thing!”  God has a specific purpose for every part of scripture and the fact that there are specifics about doubt means it is important.  Every case of doubt and question that is presented to God humbly and honestly is honored by God showing His glory.  It provides God an opportunity to draw us closer to Him.  It provides God the opportunity on a personal level to confirm our faith more deeply and strongly.  When we are honest and looking for Him He most certainly reveals Himself in ways beyond our furthest imagination.

On the flip side when a person does not have the desire to believe and denies God entirely the blessing of truly knowing Him is missed.  The miracles, the peace, the hope, the freedom from the burden of sin, and eternal life is missed….forever…don’t let doubt harden your heart.  Present questions to God and be in awe of how He changes your heart for the better.

Hard to Know What is True These Days

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The world is extremely lacking in truth and integrity more so now than ever.  Recently I viewed a video of people being interviewed that were attending a climate rally.  Each person questioned really could give no real answers as to why they believed what they did and what they were intending to do to bring about environmental change.  One gentleman when questioned admitted that he had a cellphone, car, and had flown on a jet to attend the rally.  When asked why he doesn’t give up his conveniences he basically said that he did not want to give up his stuff/life.  Hypocrisy at its finest.  The scripture from 1 Kings chapter 3 verses 16-28 have been milling around my head today.

“Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him.  One of them said, “Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house, and I had a baby while she was there with me. The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.   “During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him.   So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast.   The next morning, I got up to nurse my son—and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.”

The other woman said, “No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.”

But the first one insisted, “No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.” And so they argued before the king. The king said, “This one says, ‘My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ‘No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’”

 Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword for the king.  He then gave an order: “Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.”

The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, “Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!”

But the other said, “Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!”

 Then the king gave his ruling: “Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.”

When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.

One clear suggestion of a cause or religion that is false is that there are selfish motives.  Is there a hunger for power, money, and control behind the cause?  Always take a very close look.

The greatest way that truth shines is by sacrificial love.  What are we willing to give up for our family, for our “cause”, for our faith?  The TRUE mother of the child was willing to sacrifice her desire to raise her own son in order to preserve his very life.

Sacrificial love of a mother that is willing to go without a meal in order to feed her children.  A husband that shields his wife with his own body in a tornado.  A church/religion shows it’s truth by its service to others.  Death threats to convert people to your way of thinking is FAR from truth.  There is nothing but selfish gain of control and power behind a cause that is intending to hurt others for not thinking the same.

Love in its truest form is the love God has for us.   We were created to have a loving relationship with God.  Because God gave freewill to mankind the curse of sin entered the world separating us from Him and His love.  The greatest sacrifice known to this earth is the fact that God left His glory in heaven to walk upon the earth as human being resisting all temptation to sin Himself.  His purpose was to be the payment for our sins that separated us from God.  After the most gruesome death known to man and fulfilling all prophesies He died on the cross.  Three days later he arose proving that He is God, the one true living God.  It is sacrificial love that proves truth to me.

God frequently puts the question of “Are you willing to give everything for me?” in my heart.  A constant reminder that is hard, but so very needed to keep my love in check.  Am I true?  Am I passionate with true purpose?  Am I willing to sacrifice out of love as Jesus sacrificed for me?  I may or may not need to face death in order to stand firm in my faith, but it is a heart surrender everyday.  My children are God’s, my possessions are God’s, any skill or talent is God’s…where is the truth of my own heart?

“For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

Random Neeter thoughts or Neeterisms… #1

So the majority of my blogs are pretty serious.  Most of the time I am not very serious at all…  Random thoughts today…

Alarm clock fail leads to no shower which leads to fuzzy ponytail poof hairdo for the day.  Get compliments on how great my hair looks all day…WHAT!!!?????

Never judge a book by its cover…you never know who and where someone may have a concealed body piercing…

There are some strange things that can happen to the human body…just saying…

Sometimes it is worth a moment of dorkiness that requires body movements that could result in an accidental toot… all for making someone young or old who is scared and hurting smile…and maybe giggle…no toots, but it was risky…especially when over the age of 40…

Thinking of and singing a song related to everything that is said…or just making related songs up…has to be some sort of syndrome…

Always read a text message thoroughly before responding to it…also read your response thoroughly before sending…unless a hilarious typo that is better than the message…sometimes a laugh is worth a thousand typos…

Love laughing at oneself and life… Have fun everyone!!!!!

Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”