Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Prelude

I started the blogging process back in 2007 as a way to express my emotions involving the ever evolving changes in my life.

My parents have been experiencing declining health since earlier in this decade when my Mom had to have a heart valve replacement. Soon after my Dad's eyesight became a major issue and in 2006, at the time they both retired and bought a motor home everything began to really fall apart.

They were able to take one real trip out west with my sister and her husband and when they made it home Dad was in Congestive Heart Failure.

Around a month later he was having 5 bypasses and subsequently went into renal failure. My mother was very ill at this time and I rushed her back to Douglas in the middle of the night so that she could be admitted into the hospital.

So I had Dad in Valdosta and Mom in Douglas. And this happened on more than one occasion.

When we finally got them somewhat stable we began training for Dad to do home dialysis. The plan was for them to be able to do dialysis in the motor home as they traveled.

It was during training, that I had one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.

I was going to the training with Dad every day. (Mom started out going to, but ended up in the hospital) I would leave the training and drive back to Douglas to work. Then when I left work at 8pm or so, I would drive back to Valdosta since we had to be at the clinic at 7am.

I was very tired one day and I asked Denise to ride with me so that she could drive me back because I was afraid I would not make it on my own. We stopped to get a bite to eat and Dad and Mom headed back to the motor home at the KOA.

Denise looked at her phone and said, "Granny just called me."

So I looked at mine, sure enough I had missed her call.

I listened to my voicemail and it was my mother, hysterical. "Sheri!! Oh my God!! Sheri!! Call me!!"

I knew what had happened. I knew my Dad's fistula had started bleeding. When this happens it REALLY bleeds.

I grabbed my purse and tore out of the restaurant with Denise on my heels. We ran red lights, practically ran up on the sidewalk, and were involved in a hit and run. (I told Denise as I was running the red light and the car tagged my rear end that I was NOT stopping. She became hysterical at this point)

I knew that I was going to find them beside the road with my father dead. This whole time I was praying and I had Denise redialing my Mom. Finally she picked up.

Yes, he had a blow out, they were at the motor home. He had made it off the interstate and into a Wendy's parking lot and with the help of the Wendy's employees got it under control.

As Denise and I were pulling into the campgrounds I told her "You realize your mother is going to jail."

From her reaction, I guess she didn't realize it.

I have been called to my Dad's bedside on so many occasions, have had him lay his head on my shoulder and weep like a baby, have bathed him, reoriented him, prayed for him, and been told that he asked for someone to just help him die.

I have wept, hurt, and longed for resolution.

My Dad is once again in the hospital. Saturday night in ICU he was confused, combative. At one point he squeezed my had and gritted his teeth with the effort he was putting forth.

"Daddy, you have never hurt me." I said.

He deflated on the spot. But shortly he was back to fighting, "Why were we doing this to him?" I would lift my hands so he could see them and tell him I wasn't the one holding him down. It was the restraints they had placed on him to keep him from injuring himself or someone else.

And as usual, when he gets like this he called for my brother over and over. "Tim!! Tim!!"

I know the reason, because in his only son he sees the strength he is lacking.

And in those moments when he comes back to us, he is poignant.

We have been dancing together for many years now, but the music has changed. The symphony is getting closer to its finale, and the man that has been leading us is getting tired.

Oh how we long to hear those songs of youth again, but this is a different tune.

This is the prelude, the start of a song we have never heard, never wanted to hear.

God, bless my Daddy today.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Don't Leave Home Without It

I remember back when I was younger there was a slogan for a credit card that said, "What's in your wallet."

No one that I know of walks around with money pinned to their clothing. You don't have your debit card taped to your forehead or your credit cards tied around your neck. But this does not imply that you do not have the means to pay for something.

When you are standing at the register you whip out said wallet and proceed to pay for your purchases with your choice of payment option.

In your wallet you could be carrying thousands of dollars, or, if you are like me, maybe 50 cents. (no, not the Rapper, my wallet is not that large)

No one who just looks at you can see how much you are worth at any given moment. It's just not apparent to someone passing you in Wal Mart.

But you usually know.

That phrase, "What's in your wallet" has been running through my mind as I have been studying the reign of Saul.

The people of Israel demanded a king. God wanted to be their king, but THAT wasn't good enough, so He gave them a king. But, through Samuel, He also sent them warning.

1 Samuel 12:13-15 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired: and, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God. But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you as it was against your fathers.

Basically, "OK, you asked for it, you got it!" Now, what are you going to do with it?

Saul was charged to completely destroy the Amalekites. The Amalekites represented evil power and opposition to God, His people and His truth.

Saul did not follow orders.

1 Samuel 15:2-3 Thus saith the Lord of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep.

Saul returned from battle with King Agag, and the best sheep, oxen and lambs.

This was not the first time Saul had failed to follow instructions from God. In 1 Samuel 13:13 God told Saul to wait in Gilgal for Samuel to come and offer sacrifices and instruct him. When God delayed Samuel past the 7 days Saul was told he would come in Saul decided to perform the sacrifices himself.

And because Saul failed to follow God's commandments, Samuel told him God was going to take the kingdom away.

Saul believed he had followed God's commandments in Chapter 15. Instead of destroying everything he retained things "for a purpose."

But Samuel rebuked him. "What brings God the most pleasure? Burnt offerings and sacrifices, or OBEYING Him?"

"To obey is better than sacrifice."

The sacrifice we bring of worship, praise and our service to Him mean nothing if we are not obedient to Him and to His Commandments.

Samuel goes even further relating rebellion to witchcraft. Just as witchcraft is seeking to manipulate events, people or the future, rebellion is rejecting God's authority and doing things in a manner other than His way. Both rebellion and witchcraft take you our of God's protection.

Because of Saul's rebellion against God's commands the kingdom was taken and another king was put in his place. And although this new king also made mistakes he knew how to find that place of repentance, and when his shortcomings and failing were revealed he had a totally different reaction than Saul.

Saul still wanted to appear right in the eyes of man, even when he was wrong. This new king, King David would mourn and weep, he would turn to obedience.

What does your praise mean to Him? What about your worship? Are you carrying around sins that you suppose are hidden from Him? If so, your praise, your worship may be empty words.

You see, living for Him, living this life is not something you put on and take off. It should be tangible, viable. Whether seen or unseen you should remain the same.

Saul lacked righteousness. He easily disregarded God's commandments for him. And he kept part of what God had told him to completely destroy.

When we come to know Him there are things we no longer do, places we no longer go. There is a reason for this.

The Amalekites were the enemy of God, just as sin is the enemy of a Christian. Sin comes to completely destroy US. You cannot be a friend to sin, you cannot leave a little sin hanging around "for a purpose."

Well, I may need this one day.

No, you never have a need to go back to what He brings you out of. Sin can serve no purpose in the life of a Saint of God that has been washed in His Blood.

So, what's in YOUR wallet? What things are you carrying around with you that go against the Word of God, that go against the standard that has been placed in your life by your man of God?

Oh, you may think that it is out of sight and out of mind, but whether it can be seen by the world at large or not, sin is still sin.

And sooner or later sin rears its head and makes itself known. There comes that day when you have to PAY the price for sin, and on that day everyone will know if you can cover the cost.

There is One that has already paid that ultimate price. By His Blood we are made whole. But He charges us to "Go and sin no more."

His Word is plain. His plan is revealed. He has called us to "come out from among" the sins of the world. Just as with Saul, He has given us a charge, and He still longs for obedience.

What's in your wallet? Can you cover the cost for rebellion against God's Word?

His message is the same.

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent (Turn around), and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (washing away) of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Have YOU received the Holy Ghost since you believed?? Don't leave home without it!!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Back From The End Of The Earth

I could not tell you when the last time was that I took a few days just to do something I enjoy...scratch that...I CAN tell you. We took a 4 day weekend and went to New York with the kids in May and before that it was a year ago when Bobby and I snuck to Charleston for our Anniversary...Before that, Disney, Nov. 2007.

We used to enjoy going camping quite often, but life has kinda put a halt to that.

I have had to take days here and there for various things, sickness, children's sickness or accidents, etc, but I really felt the need to just disappear, no phone, no Internet, no car.

So, my sweet husband, who has lost all of his vacation time due to his company changing hands, took me out to the state park in the motor home and left me there. I accomplished my goals of reading and sleeping, maybe even over accomplished them...hahaha

It was nice and peaceful....but life still showed up.

It came rushing in by way of cellphone. I had messed up again. I hate messing up.

There is a downfall to being naivete....

I have a bad habit of taking things at face value. This is dumb I know, but I just can't help it. If it looks black, I say "it's black" and if it looks white, well, you get the picture.

Usually I am the only one who pays the price when this happens, but this time, not so much. I had hurt other people by not being more cautious. And that hurts me.

For a time, I just wanted to drop off the end of the earth. But that's not an option. So, I visited with my Friend...I messed up, please forgive me and help me to clean up after my failures. Don't let anyone be hurt by my shortsightedness.

Got another call from my pud, crying and scared, unsure of what to do. But I knew....back to my Friend I went.

It was nice to have a time of refreshing....a time to relax and rest and reflect.

A time to remember.....

A time to be.....

Saturday, September 12, 2009

So Are The Days Of Our Lives......

Time is a funny thing.....

When you are a kid it seems like time passes so slowly....creeping away.

I can remember anytime I was anticipating anything, the last day of school, my birthday, the holidays...a date...time did not even seem to move.

Waiting....waiting....waiting.........dreaming of being all grown up and able to come and go as I pleased.

I can remember feeling like I could just be living on my own, making my own decisions and doing my own thing. And I was absolutely sure that I could do EVERYTHING better than my parents.

It didn't take long with me actually being out on my own for me to realize how wonderful things were at home.

I saw that whole thing again when Denise turned 18...I could read it in her eyes, in her actions. What a dummy I, we were just holding her back from growing as a person....

I think she sees things a little different now.

And here it is, Ethan's turn....and it's there again....that urge to try out wings that are being clipped by parental ties. Not that I expect him to try to fly away any time soon, but it's in the air.

When I was a young girl of almost 21 I had a baby girl. I went to stay with my Mama since I knew literally nothing about having no baby. And my Mama that I was so anxious to leave patiently walked me through every aspect of care for the tiny life now in my charge.

She gave me the best advise I ever received from her as we were waiting to leave the hospital, she said "Make memories."

I have tried to do just that.

But, time is a funny keeps spiraling away from me....rushing away at a breakneck speed and I can't keep up with it.

And it seems that with every passing day the days pass faster and faster.....

Just like sands through the hour glass of time.......

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Material Girl....

We are living in a fast paced world....cruising on the information highway. Almost everyone now has access to their family and friends 24/7 via cell phone, Internet, etc.

And yet, with all of these ways to reach out and touch each other we are sadly touching each other less.

I have seen it around me, probably in my own home....well, definitely in my own home....

I have seen the need for more STUFF!!

Now, I like stuff. I enjoy my cell phone, my iPod, my iMac. But, it is just STUFF.

I can continue to build up my own personal arsenal of gadgets and devises and surround myself with every modern convenience. I would never have to see anyone face to face again.

Why, I can even sit right in the comfort of my own home and *attend* church! cough cough

Speaking of which, we had an awesome service last night. Bro. Wood preached to us and I want to be "In Position for the Mission" that is coming for me.

It was during that message that he mentioned Elisha, leaving his STUFF behind so that he could follow Elijah. He not only left it behind, he sacrificed it. And at the time of Elijah's departure to Heaven in the chariot he asked for a double portion of Elijah's spirit...

And he got it.

I tend to believe it was because he sacrificed what he had to serve.

And as I thought about Elisha I remembered the rich young ruler. He asked the Lord "What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?" (Mark 10:17)

Jesus asked him if he knew the commandments. He responded he had followed them since he was young.

Mark 10:21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsover thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heave: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
*Note that Jesus saw him there in his sincerity to reach the mark, and He LOVED him, even though He knew he would walk away....WOW....there's a message in there*

This young man had a different reaction that Elisha.

He was grieved because he had many possessions.

I can imagine a young man of our time...

"Sell my STUFF! You have got to be kidding! I NEED this STUFF! I can't live without it!"

Now, I like my STUFF, but I would hope that in that position I would have been an Elisha.

Lord, give ME a double portion of the spirit of my Man of God! Give me his vision for the work waiting to be done. And if he says to me, "you have to lay some things aside," Lord, let me be willing. It's only STUFF, and I would that no material possession would keep me out of Your presence.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Greatest Bargain

I love to shop, love to dig through the racks and find the best price I can on an item. I don't shop a lot, although my husband would probably argue that, but I like it. Finding a skirt marked down to $7 from $40 when you have otherwise been having a crummy day can be a little thrill.

Maybe that makes me dumb, but it is fun to me.

I can go to Belk's when they are having a really good sale and get dress shirts for my guys for next to nothing! Love it!!

I don't mind if it's not name brand, who cares! Never been into that stuff anyway.

Now some things you have to have the name brand, no ability to skimp. Some medications are better in the name brand, that's just a fact.

I know I will only take name brand for my thyroid problem. It cost more, but it works so much better for me that it is worth the extra cost. If I am able to function and not feel like a slug, well, that means more to me than a few extra dollars.

There was a time when I was wasting my life, throwing away day after day on things that didn't even matter. Searching everywhere for something I could get to fill the emptiness inside of me.

But, you know what, I only felt emptier.

Now, I know there are those who would look at my life and think, "Why would anyone want to live that way? Look at all that she has given up, at everything her choice has cost her."

And that is true. I don't do some of the things I used to think were fun. I don't go some of the places I used to go. And I have, along the way, lost some of the *friends* that I at one time thought I couldn't live without.

I remember the life that I used to live, not with remorse, but with sadness for the time I wasted. And regret.

My energy, my focus could have been so much better spent if I had focused on what is really important.

And what is really important is who I am, who I am to my family, and to those around me. Because, you see, I am not my own. Someone paid the price for me.

1 Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

Don't feel sorry for me. Don't look at me and think of all the things that YOU think I am missing out on.

I assure you, I am quite happy.

Sure, I don't do some things anymore, and to some it would seem to great a price to pay for the peace that I have.

But, as my Pastor recently said, "Heaven is a bargain at ANY price!"

And I love me a bargain!!