July 16, 2008

How Interesting...

...that my last post reflected my thoughts on death, and now, after a relative's memorial service this weekend I am starting to build relationships with cousins I haven't seen in 30 years!

Building on old contacts. It's just interesting.

In addition, this just happens to be the week that our former foster daughter, "K", is visiting. Two years ago we thought we were going to adopt her. It still feels like she's ours, but we share her with another foster family and her brothers. That's interesting, too!

Now she's back in her old bedroom where my grown son found her with tears in her eyes. This, after he dunked her in our horse tank and chased her around the backyard like a kid (he's almost 30).

She said she was sad because she wants to be with us. When she's with the other family, she wants to be with them. She misses both places. She wants to be an active part of our family and play with her so-called nieces and nephews as they grow up - like she did tonight.

Life is good in both places. Life is hard in both places.

It's just not easy being a kid, especially in foster care. But for her, she's got the best foster-life I've ever seen. She is loved by many families, and she has close-to-the-heart friends. She has contact with her birth family. She is learning that life isn't a fairy tale, but it can be so good! She is sweet-natured, and I know God is big enough to hold her and lead her through all of her life.

I will hold her in prayer as long as I have breath in my lungs - that way I can call her mine!

As for my newly found "old" cousins? We've got a lot of catching up to do. How interesting...

July 5, 2008

Death - A Gift From God

As I was folding the laundry yesterday I heard an odd sound from my knees. It was a slippery-squeaky sort of sound, like smooth plastic sliding over smooth plastic. I investigated further, and sure enough, as I shifted my weight even slightly I would hear it.

Have you seen the version of the Cinderella story where one of the stepsisters had a knee that creaks? The prince tried to get her to "creak" in time with the music they were dancing to. Last winter I went through therapy for my knees to strengthen the surrounding muscles. Now they're making squeaky music!

Once again I'm considering my own mortality. Why is that so difficult, anyway? Every human on this planet knows about death. Everyone dies. We all have hopes that our lives (and our knees) will get better and better as time passes, and yet we also know what's coming.

Why I think that death is a gift from God:

We're not what we want to be. We lost the original glory of life that God breathed into us when He made us. We sinned.

Think about it - if Adam and Eve had not been barred from the Garden, they would've eaten fruit that would have given them eternal life in the state they were in. Who would want that? Perpetual depression, pain, spiritual darkness, detachment, hunger, hopelessness, deterioration, sickness, grief...

I have comforted myself lately with the reminder that I was not created to die. That was not God's plan or His purpose. Because I believe this is true, contemplating the death of a friend or my own departure makes me uneasy. I can never get to that place where death is "just a natural part of life", because I don't believe it is.

I was made to live.

And the Lord God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."

After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22& 24 NIV

God's mercy provided the protection we needed to keep us from suffering for our sin forever. He allows death to act like pruning shears – to cut us off from that last bit of the curse that clings to us.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

Notice two words in the scripture, “in Christ”. God blocked the entrance to the Garden to protect us from literally dying forever, but He offers us His Son to bring us life. That’s where we get to make our choice – to live.

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Simple prayer:

Thank you, God, for blocking my access to the fruit that would make me stay this way forever! Lord, I want to be “in Christ” and live with you forever. I put my life – and my death – in your hands. Thank you for your love for me that provides this wonderful plan! Amen.

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This link is for Art Linkletter's recent interview with Pat Robertson on "How to Be a Sassy Senior" - or how to grow old. It is GREAT! He still cracks me up...
http://www.cbn.com/media/index.aspx?s=/vod/ArtLinkletter_101006&title=The%20700%20Club&prgm=700club#

July 3, 2008

Bowling Ball Head

He thought his head was too big? Where did he get that idea?

My second son confided in his wife – he had known since he was a small child that his head was too big and he had always been conscious of it.

Why did he think that? For a few minutes I was completely lost for an explanation. I wanted to be angry, or offended, or something! How could he think he was less than wonderful – after the way I’d raised him?

Then I knew.

His brother, my firstborn, resembles the part of the family with a narrower profile and longer-shaped faces. Being my first, his head squeezed more easily through the never-before stretched birth canal.

But my second son was a heftier build with a rounder face and head. One of our family stories is about how quickly his birthing progressed because of his weight (gravity, I guess) and his competition with his brother. The story goes, “he needed to get here to set his brother straight”. Labor was only 2 and ½ hours!

Of my four children, he resembled the other branch of the family most, and the birthing story contains a descriptive reference to his “bowling ball” head. He may have taken that information hard (being the compassionate son that he is) because I tore a little bit as his head emerged. Now, that wasn’t because of his head – it was because I was told to push when I wasn’t ready to, and forced his head through too forcefully.

He is my thoughtful one, and he never let on that this was a concern to him – never gave me any clues – until I heard it from his wife!

Is this a lesson about watching what we say in front of our children? I don’t think so; not in this case. My children are unusually secure in how God made them, and this light-hearted story was one of those expressions of our family joy.

Then is the lesson that we should expose things that bother us – and not carry them unnecessarily? Perhaps, but my son didn’t know that his head was actually normal-sized, so he didn’t know his thinking should be set straight.

So, I won’t try to make a lesson out of it. Instead, I’ll just tell you, son, that your Grandpa (the one you’re named after) actually DOES have a large head – at least at the circumference where his hat should sit. Do you remember ever seeing him wear a hat? Not likely.

He had a fishing hat once. It was neon orange with ear flaps – and it sat atop his head too high above his ears. He could pull it down snug enough so that the wind wouldn’t blow it off while he was fishing from the dam. I’d hug him with my skinny, 12-year-old arms and tell him that his head just proved he had a superior brain.

You take after him, son.

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