Saddling Up!

As you’ve probably noticed from the tone of most of my posts over the last six months, life has been on the tougher-than-normal side for me.  Several dear people have moved on to heaven, friendship seasons have changed (or, I just accepted that they already changed,) and we had to say goodbye to our beloved dog.  About the time I felt like I was getting my feet back under me, my son and daughter-in-law told us they were moving from a few blocks away to half the nation away.  It is a good opportunity for them, and they really love Texas, though he doesn’t get that from either of his parents. 🙂  Bam!  That quickly, I plummeted back to the depths of grief.

All I could see was loss.  All I could do was wonder what I will be about now that I don’t have family here, especially the three young grandchildren.  But God!

At the beginning of Our special Sunday morning time together, Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit, “Saddle up, Kay!”  Bam!  That quickly, hope was restored.  I was taken back to the morning 19 years ago when we drove away from our Florida home for the last time, heading to North Carolina.  Steven Curtis Chapman was singing The Great Adventure, with these words going deep:

Saddle up your horses.  We’ve got a trail to blaze through the wild blue yonder of God’s amazing grace.  Let’s follow our Leader into the glorious unknown.  This is life like no other.  This is the great adventure.

horsesNow, as all those years ago, a sense of excited anticipation is developing.  Now, as then, I know my Lord Jesus is moving me into what I’ve not seen before for my life, though He’s seen it all along.

Am I through with the tears?  Probably not.  After all, I still love all these deeply.  Yet, with those three words, I suddenly knew my life isn’t over.  There is more He wants to do with me here on earth.  I don’t know what it is, but I know the One Who does.  And I trust Him to take me step by step into a new chapter of His great adventure.

The words of Proverbs 3:5-6 seem to have a more solid footing in my heart than ever before: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path.

Bam! That’s life!  That’s Jesus Christ!

Sometimes, Grace Looks Like . . .

As I drove into the parking lot, I thanked God for His favor in advance. I was here not to make a purchase, but to get some money back on my new laptop that was now on sale for less than the purchase price two weeks ago. And, I was here in the middle of the afternoon on a weekend, not normally a time I would venture out to make a transaction like this among the crowds. I hoped God’s favor would include no resistance by the customer service people in making the price adjustment. Beyond that, I also hoped there would only be a few people ahead of me in line at this busy time. That was what I expected grace to look like – complete with the patience to wait and be kind.

Imagine my surprise as I turned toward the customer service department to find no line. As in, there wasn’t one. No one was even being waited on at the counter, and the employees were waiting to be needed. I picked up my pace (really!) to beat all the customers I knew would appear from other parts of the store, all who would have long and involved problems. They didn’t come.

One of the service reps, who noticed me arriving, promptly stepped up to the counter to welcome me. Before I had a chance to explain my situation, she saw the receipt and advertisement in my hand and asked with a smile, “A price adjustment?” With no further questions, she performed the required steps on her register and handed me a new receipt, indicating a nice credit to my account. In under a minute from the time I entered the store, I was out the door and on my way home, a completely satisfied customer.

Now I thanked God for His grace after the fact, contemplating how it looked so different from what I expected. But God knew in advance what I needed. This time, I didn’t need the grace of His patience to wait in even a short line, nor of His self-control in convincing the employee to give a price adjustment – or even to walk away gracefully not having gotten my way. Another time, I might need it to look like that and more.

Today, God’s grace was far beyond what I had even dared to consider. No delays in any way by employee or customer. Rather, His favor made my errand such smooth sailing that it seemed I was on a sea of glass with no one else around.

B Stocking family 102014 (4) LRI don’t know what His grace will look like next time, but I know it will be exactly what is needed for that moment and that situation. As simply as a child, I want to expect, without limitation, God’s abundant grace in my life, just as He has promised.

Sometimes, grace looks like . . .

No Lesson – Just Life

When I was the mother of one toddler son, my job took me out of town for an unspecified period of time when I left.  I don’t know how my husband and son fared, but I was miserable after more than a week away.  When I was found crying in the bathroom at my temporary work place, the higher-ups decided they could return me to a position that would allow me to live at home, rather than staying in a motel out of town, though my schedule would continue to include twelve hour days.

Family and friends were allowed to wait at the gate for flight arrivals in those days, so my husband and son were there.  Despite the late hour, my son was wide awake when I came through the door into the airport.  His greeting revealed sheer delight at seeing his mom again, and it was reciprocated on my own face!  As if that weren’t enough to erase all the sad tears of my previous days away, as I stood by his crib to say good night, he looked up with a most contented smile.  It’s a smile that continues to beam in my heart whenever I remember that night.

Fast forward to the present.  Last weekend, my husband and I flew to Texas to visit our other son, his wife, and our third grandson.  It was a wonderful trip, allowing for much Nana time, as I did all I could to affix my face and voice permanently into his little three-month-old brain.  As great as those moments with him (and his parents) were, our arrival home was the icing on that cake.

To avoid parking charges, our older son – the one who greeted me that night so long ago – drove us to the airport to drop us off before dawn Friday morning, necessitating a return trip Monday to pick us up.  Unlike in the first story, family and friends now wait in the main concourse of the airport for arriving passengers to emerge from the long corridor of gates where planes deposit their loads.

Colton at piano April 13As we approached the waiting area, I searched for my son who stands taller than most, without success.  When I stepped beyond the security area, however, a distinct and increasing sound was evident above the din of the airport noises.  “Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” This cry of delight was in motion, attached to a precious little boy who grinned from ear to ear as he ran from his father to the people he had apparently missed terribly.

Without focusing on the face or discerning the voice above the din of airport noise, I knew the source of that cry was headed my way.  Down went my backpack and purse so nothing would interfere with my open arms as he came in for a landing, first to Nana, then to Grandpa.  Nearby onlookers chuckled at the exuberant welcome, but my focus was only on the child, my first grandchild, the son of the son who had forever etched his own delighted welcome in my heart so many years ago.  Like father, like son.

No lesson in this post – it’s just a slice of my life.  Hope you enjoyed.

It’s Really Okay

My mother, Edella Walker, at age 16.

I do not hate my mother.  I loved her and she loved me.  I just want to make that clear before you read any more of this post.  Furthermore, even though this relates to the relationship with my mother, that’s really only the surface issue, as you will see.  It’s the heart of the matter, wrong thoughts I’ve believed for so long, that’s important.  And it’s what the Lord spoke to the heart of my matter that I believe will minister to you, as well.

On March 18, 1987, my mother died of cancer.  I was only 31 at the time, with two young children – too young to be motherless.  Nevertheless, it is the fact.  I mourned for a few months, until the weekend I visited my father where we experienced my mother’s last days together.  Though we had a close relationship beforehand, there was a special connection forged by living those last days together.  Our conversation naturally centered on what we had gone through and all the details.  We didn’t have to explain anything to each other, nor did we have to withhold anything because of discomfort from someone who hadn’t been right there.  The conversations of that weekend completed my grief process, even my mourning.  In the ensuing years, there have been a few moments I considered what it might have been like with Mom around, but not with tears or sadness.

Though I still remember the events clearly, especially as the anniversary of her death approaches, those memories come with no emotions – good or bad.  I simply remember.  Twenty-five years after-the-fact, I wanted to record in my journal, though I really had nothing in my heart to write.  But God.  It turns out He was the One stirring me to write, because He had a bigger purpose for me than simply remembering an event.  Daddy wanted to apply more of His love to an area in my life I didn’t even know was there, so I could walk in greater measure of His freedom in Christ.  May the Lord also minister to you through what follows.

It’s 25 years today since Mom died.  There is no sadness in that statement, and hasn’t been for so many years.  Yet, I have felt condemned because of my lack of sadness.  After 25 years, though, I feel relieved. Like I’ve crossed some imaginary boundary between unacceptable and acceptable.  As if I am free to admit my lack of emotions to others without them thinking less of me, now that it’s been a quarter of a century.      

Condemnation is not from You, Lord, so help me break free completely.  I see.  Who have I been trying to hide my feelings from?  Who are these people who would think less of me?  It’s this invisible “they” the enemy has used to keep me caught up in this condemnation and guilt trap.  It’s kept me from being honest with myself . . . and You, and not letting You help me through.  And now I hear in my spirit, “It’s really okay.”  My Lord is saying it’s okay that I am not sad about Mom, or that I really don’t even miss her, and haven’t for a long time.  It’s really okay.

And with that, I walk free from something that has bound me for 25 years.  The scales have come off my eyes, and I now live in freedom where I’ve known only condemnation.  In those simple words, my Father has broken through with the assurance of His love.  There is no condemnation for not having emotions that match what the world considers normal.  Nor would there be if I were still emotional so long after Mom’s leaving.  He loves me.  I am His child, and I have life – and freedom – in Christ Jesus.  It’s that simple.  And it’s that freeing.  It’s really okay!

Romans 8:1-2 NIV  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,  2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.

Tribute to a Friend

My friend’s mother passed away yesterday unexpectedly.  The sadness I feel isn’t just for my friend and his family, but for me, too.  This woman was my friend, and I shall miss her.  Yet, moments after hearing the news, my thoughts were taken in a completely different direction.

I’ll be honest.  At first, I thought about how she’s seeing things about the Lord she wouldn’t believe while here, things some of us already knew and tried to tell her.  That arrogant train of thought was quickly destroyed when I realized she’s seeing it all so much more clearly than any of us ever will while on earth.  She understands the limitations of the doctrines she believed, as well as the limitations of the “greater” doctrines we espouse – and sees what the fullness of Truth really is.

Where earthly things are concerned, she sees now how much time was wasted on things of no value, while being shown the eternal impact some of her seemingly insignificant actions had.  I would love to get her perspective for my own life, even after only one heavenly day’s experience.  As a faithful choir member for decades, what notes can she hear that mortal ears can never perceive?  What amazing landscapes does she see now – with colors so crisp and vibrant, and far beyond our visible spectrum?  Then there is also her over-the-top delight in reuniting with friends and loved ones as they celebrate her homecoming.

As wonderful as all these are, they pale in comparison to seeing the face of her Creator, her Father, her Savior and Lord, her Jesus!  He is the One by Whom, for Whom, and through Whom she was made, and now my friend is experiencing Him in His fullness.  Today, you and I can only wonder about it, but one day we will also see Him as He is.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57 NIV

54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”  55 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”  56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  57 But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Goodbye, my friend.  Thank you for helping me see more clearly – even from heaven.  I look forward to seeing you among my welcoming committee when I arrive.