Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What will yours say??

Several weeks ago I took my kids to San Diego, a promised trip before the dreaded school year began.  As always we sat on their Dad's memorial bench and ate breakfast, then we drove out to Point Loma to the National Cemetery where their Stayer Grandparents are buried. Both memorial spots are always moving to me...remembering the loved one but also reminding myself that LIFE IS SHORT!  I know it may seem weird to some, but if you ever want to be inspired go to a cemetery.  Spend some time reading the headstones. We did this time.  We walked up and down the rows, respectfully reading the last lines written in someones honor.  Read these!  It invites the question...what will yours say???

I don't want to be morbid but think about it, we spend a lifetime that will be summed up in one line.  What will yours say, what will mine say??  What am I spending my life cultivating? What are other people, the ones who will write the line, seeing as important to me?  Does my time reflect the things I value?  Does my life reflect my heart? Proverbs 27:19 "As water reflects the face, so one's life reflects the heart."  Funny, I did not see one stone that said, "Full bank account", "Super clean house", "300 hours of PTO never taken" .  :) 

We get one shot at this!  Yes I said one.  "Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement..." Hebrews 9:27  Maybe what is more important than the one line, is to think about that day...judgement day.  The day I will leave this earth and stand before God and give reason for why I should spend eternity in heaven, believe me you don't want to spend it in hell as some joke about.  The beauty in the truth of the Bible is, I don't have to have even one line, one sentence to sum that come down to one word, one name...Jesus!  The rest Hebrews 9:27 says, " Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."   "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Romans 10:13 "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to man by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

So while you are spending a life cultivating what your headstone will on, believe in the one name that will assure your forever home...your eternity.  Then perhaps your stone can rightfully say....

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Head vs. heart

   Yesterday was one of those days....
The days that have the moments that contain the reasons why I work where I do.  Did ya follow all that!,  :). I have struggled A LOT with the transition of my career. It has stretched me way more than I thought it would!  There have been several days where I have driven home in tears wondering, "what have I done to my life?!"  But then there are moments like yesterday......and I am reminded Who called me into this profession and why.

My friend called me into her room...somewhat embarrassed because she didn't really have a "legitimate" reason to summon me.  Yes she did!!  She wanted to talk and this was to be a God appointment!  You see she has BIG decisions to make, life altering-life ending choices, the kind you never want to face, but probably will someday....and she wanted someone to talk to.  I'd say that is legit!!   For the next hour I sat, listened, laughed and shared with my friend.  Reminded of how simple life really can be, all the things we worry about, get angry about, fight about....really don't matter when it comes down to moments like these.

My friend reminded me of the vow I took on October 29, 2002...the vow to never forget and to live each moment, each day as if it could be your last.  "Live like you are dying" is a great song!  And I have seen in lived out in many lives.  Oh how different this world would be if we lived this way!  Road rage would cease, overtime would be rare, estranged relationships would heal,  divorces would decline....if only people realized how short life really is!  We live like we have forever to correct things,to change ourselves,to live differently.....where do we get that idea from??  Any day, any moment that can all change!!  If we could just get that, truly get that BEFORE we are handed the "pink slip" saying our time is up, this world would be different, our lives would be different!

Another thing we talked about was how different death looks when you don't fear what happens afterwards.  Don't get me wrong, death can still be hard work when it doesn't happen suddenly...but you can have peace, true peace about where you are headed.  The perspective changes everything when facing your own mortality.

The equation is elementary my dear friends...
You sinned (yep I know!....actually the Bible told me..."all have sinned and fallen short" Romans 3:23) + God's grace and love ("but He,Christ has appeared once for do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself". Hebrews 9:26 and "everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through His name" Acts 10:43) = eternal life! heaven .....("whoever believes shall not perish but have eternal life" John3:16)

Keep it simple!  Remember Jesus himself said it takes faith of a child!  Oh but the path from the head to the heart can be so treacherous and long!!  Keep it simple!!  You believe in a lot of things you cannot see!  You believe in a lot of things that you do not have all the answers for or completely understand!  Why make faith in a LOVING, kind, gracious God any different?  Move it from the head to the heart!  Believe He loves you!!  Believe He died and paid for ALL your sins!  Believe He accepts you just the way you are!  Accept the gift, it's FREE!  And have peace that your eternity is taken care of!!  

Oh I hear you!  "Christianity is so narrow, so exclusive". Yep Jesus did say, " I am THE way", indicating there is only one way to heaven.  But He also said, "God so loved the WORLD that He sent His son, that ANYONE who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" john 3:16....."EVERYONE who calls on the name of The Lord will be saved" Romans 10:13. Pretty inclusive I'd say!!  Those are big words, big promises made by a BIG God!  I think we can take Him at His word!  In fact I'd base my life on it and even more my death on it!  How about you?

Move it from your head to your heart! Keep it simple!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Day One

Do you have any idea how many "Day 1" s I have had over the last 12 years???  You don't really want to know!!  In AA counting days is very important...I came to learn that because of someone in my life years ago.  You earn chips or coins as you add days as a way of celebrating progress. I have had many days one' one of a new one of a new exercise one after breaking up with a boyfriend...
I hate day one!!  It always seems to be the hardest.  Breaking of bonds or old routines is ALWAYS hard.  Each day can bring new challenges and new separation anxiety from the past, from how we knew things to be.

This week I had another day one...Day one as an RN!
Tomorrow I will actually care for patients as an RN...Day one on the Unit I have been hired to work on for the next year.  God greeted my Day 1 with this beautiful sunrise!  The perfect word picture for my emotions and for the change in my life. The last 12 years have been TOUGH for me and my children.  Tough financially.  Tough emotionally.  Tough physically.  Just tough!!  By God's grace and through His strength we have endured and I truly believe we are headed into a new Era.  I am beyond thankful for what God has done in my life over the last 12 years!  I am beyond thankful for what He will continue to do in my life and the lives of my children.  He has promised to turn my grief into joy and to use ruin, ashes and the  heartaches in my life to produce something for HIS glory.  I believe He has and will continue to do that!

Please don't ever give up on Day 1...or any other day before you reach the goal which God has placed before you!  I earned that badge one day at a time!!  God spoke to my heart and led me into nursing me, where HE leads, HE provides!!  I will always bear testimony to that!!  God doesn't care about what seems impossible, after all He created you and I out of dust and a man's rib.  God doesn't pay attention to statistics, after all He fed over 5,000 men with 2 loaves of bread and 5 fishes!!  According to many...there was NO way to work full time and make it through nursing school.  According to stats, my children shouldn't be successful, honor roll, productive, caring, kind considerate children after suffering the tragedy they did so early in their lives and without a Dad in their lives. According to many, I should have or was expected to suffer an emotional breakdown, after watching my husband suffer and die, then watching my Dad suffer and die, then raising 4 babies on my own.  Hear me now...

I may have
I didn't!

His promises are true!
His strength is real!
His presence is breathtaking!!

Does that mean life doesn't hurt?  HA!  
Does that mean only sunshine from now on for the Stayers??  HA!!
I have already cried myself to sleep one night this week....change is hard!
I have already faced challenges getting that badge and the pay that goes with it!
I have already felt great anxiety over all that I have to learn and the responsibility that goes with it!
Has proven Himself faithful!
Walks with me when I am afraid...and every other time!
Provides where He leads us!

His mercies are NEW for every day...whether it be a day one or year 12!!
Sit quietly, pause and think on that.... :)     

Friday, January 2, 2015

Reflections from 2014

2014 began with the following verse..." And so we know and rely on the love God has for us." I John 4:16.  And so began a year of seeing heart shaped things all over the place, reminders to me to focus on God's extravagant love for me.  What did I learn by focusing on that all year?
God's love for me is sacrificial.  John 3:16
God's love for me reaches beyond the heavens. Psalm 36:5
His love NEVER fails. Psalm 6:4, Psalm 107:8
His love endures forever! 1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 107:8
His love for me is an example of how I should love others. John 15:17, Ephesians 4:2-6, 1 John 4:19
Nothing, NO THING can separate me from God's love for me!   Roman 8:39
God IS love, it is not only His character, it is completely who He is. 1 John4:16
God's love completes me. 
"This is how we KNOW what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us...dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth." 1 John 3: 16,18

One of the biggest events and biggest struggles of 2014 was the marriage of my daughter.  Don't get me wrong, I was VERY happy for my daughter and her new husband.  They are a great couple and trust me they will change the world that surrounds them!  But for me it brought BIG waves of grief, unexpectedly.  After 12 years you would NOT.  I had many pity parties...they were grand in nature!  I stomped my feet and got mad...this is NOT the way I had planned my life and my daughters wedding!!!  I was supposed to walk through this time of transition with my husband....her Daddy was supposed to walk her down the isle and dance the "Father-daughter" dance with her...
Instead....I watched my daughter walk down the isle with her brother, do the dance with her father-in-law, and experienced the hurt of my first child leaving home alone....okay not alone.  My family and closest friends knew my much as they could.  My Savior walked through it WITH me.  He knew the deep pain, He caught my many tears and lifted my head and gave me the strength and energy I needed.  There is NO other companion, encourager, listener, lover of me like my God!!! 

2014 ended with an unbelievable bang!  As I sat in a stadium full of people, surrounded by those I have struggled with, cried with, suffered with for 20 months...I sat in a surreal moment in time....the completion of another college degree...this one SO different from the last.  This one is truly a calling by God.  Unlike many I graduated with, I hadn't dreamed of being a nurse since childhood...this represented an adult calling by God in my life.  It also represents God turning ashes into gold in my life.  I have lost, I have been brokenhearted, I have experienced sickness and death with the dearest, closest men in my life....God says, "I have plans for you Pam!  With MY strength, MY power, MY words, MY touch, MY story GO....touch lives, share MY healing...complete healing not just physical, make a difference in the lives around you...and this is how...back to school."  REALLY God???  REALLY??  How??  Blah, blah, can guess my excuses!!  At the close of this chapter of my life and looking towards the next...One of the biggest lessons I have learned and wished I could/would ALWAYS rest in, is this: if God calls you to do something, walk through something HE WILL PROVIDE!!  His provision is abundant!!  Was 2014 an easy year for me???  NO!!!  I struggled, cried, yelled "WHY ME?"...but I have grown tremendously!  I am not the same person I was last year and I have only God to thank for that!  To know and rely on the LOVE God has for you will change you!  He IS love, He is faithful and He will walk with you to the finish line no matter what the trail look like!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Life after death....

 Today marks 12!! How did we get here??? One breath, one moment...eventually one day at a time!! There have been many moments, days I thought I would never make it through...quite honestly many I didn't want to make it through!! So how did I get here?
If you know me at all you will know what my first answer will be...the most important the grace, strength and extravagant love of God! I could and maybe should just end there...but I want to share another choice I made early on. The choice came actually before Marty died. The choice came after I tapped out...screaming at God that I could NOT walk through my husband's death, crying every day, functioning on 1 hour of sleep. You know what God told me in that moment? "Focus on life!" Thankfully I listened!! It changed the journey for me!! I decided instead of grieving Marty while he was still alive, I would make each day count...we would live each day to the fullest! And boy did we!!
The choice came again two days after Marty died. I had a boy who's birthday came...but wait my best friend, life partner, lover, husband just died how could I celebrate?? God whispers..."celebrate life!" You know what?? We did!! Cole had a "normal" 5th birthday, celebrated with lots of friends and family at Chuckie Cheese Pizza...(thanks to dear friends who pulled that off!!) From that time on I never publicly acknowledged this day, because I never wanted Cole's birthday to be overshadowed by his Dad's death. Instead we celebrate Marty on his birthday. It took 11 years for Cole to figure out that his Dad died just 2 days before his birthday!! (That is why I can post today) My point?
There are choices to make after can focus on death or focus on life. I have chosen to focus on living after death...celebrating life. Please don't misunderstand me...I am NOT saying do not grieve. I am saying don't miss the life that still surrounds you by focusing only on death. This day changed my life forever...I still miss Marty...I still grieve the life I lost on this day. I had a great marriage...I looked forward to celebrating our 25th Anniversary together, watching our children grow together...watching them graduate from high school together, watching them get married TOGETHER....that didn't happen.
Marty was diagnosed with a terminal disease and I was faced with a choice...
Disease ended Marty's life and I was faced with a choice...
Focus on death or focus on life...
The choice was presented to others who were grieving over two thousand years ago...Imagine their grief...Their Savior, their hope, their teacher and friend, their brother, their son...had come into this world and changed it and now he was gone. What emptiness they felt...he left a gaping hole in their hearts and lives...We can read their story in 4 different books. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all have accounts of their story. What I have learned as I have focused on their story over the last several weeks...
1. They could have missed life by focusing on His death. Several almost did!! Jesus rose from the dead...remember we celebrate that at Easter. Those who loved him dearly were mourning him greatly! They go to his grave on the 3rd day after his death and an angel appears to them and says, "why are you looking for the living among the dead?" Jesus then appears to over 500 witnesses. Yep that would hold up in a court of law!! It really happened! His life after death changes my life after death!! Why?
Jesus came and died for my sins so I could have life...eternal life! Yes there is life after death! Know where you will spend it. His death was very changed everything. But don't miss the fact that He conquered death...he was seen alive after death. His life after death changed everything! It meant he was truly God. It meant He had the authority to promise all the things he showed us there IS life after death. Those mourning him could have missed seeing him if they didn't look up! Please don't miss what God is doing by refusing to look up...
2. What does one say to those in mourning? What did Jesus chose to say to those grieving Him?? "Peace be with you". How dare he!! How could they have peace in their hearts while they were ripped apart?? They could have peace because he wasn't leaving them empty handed. He left them and us with himself...the Holy Spirit. We can have peace despite our circumstances because we have Jesus living in us...if we have chosen that. He repeatedly tells them..."peace be with you". I am NOT saying that's what we should say to each other when we are grieving! Those are words for God to speak in those quiet, heart wrenching moments. I am saying we can can experience peace after death because of what God has done. He gives us His peace so that we can have life and have it to the full...even after death!
My words to you on this day of remembrance...
Celebrate life! You are surrounded by it today. You, like me at many times over 12 years, may not like what it looks like right now...but you are still surrounded by life...celebrate it in some small way. Life is precious...each day we have is a gift! Even in grief...even when our hearts are ripped apart and the hole is so BIG we haven't a clue how to go on...God tells us we can experience peace. Be bold, ask Him for it! I promise He will supply!!
Living life after death requires focusing on life after death. We learn through death how valuable life each day accordingly.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Independently dependent

Independently dependent

Bumper sticker theology...I've mentioned it a lot.  The above are just a few examples of what I mean.  We have these little motivational sayings we love to quote to each other when times get tough.  "When the going gets tough the tough get going!"  I know you know what I mean.  I had breakfast yesterday with a very special friend who has been through the wringer, and we talked about this very thing.  People try to encourage by saying things like, "God obviously knows how strong you are or He wouldn't give you so much to handle!"  I'm calling Bologna with a capital B on that one!!  No where is that philosophy found in Scripture!!  Here's another favorite..."God doesn't give you more than you can handle."  People!!!  Show me where it says that!!  It is bumper sticker theology and NOT truth!!! 

What God taught me through Marty's sickness and death and again through nursing school is...
"Tap out...and I will be your strength
Tap out...and I will be enough for you
Tap out...and see what I will do!"
That my friends is good theology and based on Biblical truth!  God is not interested in seeing MY strength on display, He wants to show off HIS strength used in and through me. Big difference!

So what do I mean by "independently dependent"?  God does not want me dependent on myself,  anyone or anything else.  Yes, we are not to live this life alone. We are taught the importance of other people, the importance of fellowship, God said it was not good for Adam to be alone. However the Bible does not speak of having dependence on others. In that way we are told to be independent.  If you have lost someone significant, someone you depended know what I mean.  When they are gone you realize just how much you relied on them...their strength, their encouragement, their presence.  God on the other hand wants us to realize just how dependent on Him we are.  Have everything taken from you and you understand, one can forge ahead knowing God is there.  Carry an unbelievable heavy load..find yourself tapping out only to be refreshed and able to go on.  That is God!  That is being dependent on God's strength.  People look at me and say "wow you are so are amazing"  And I say...NOPE!  I tapped out!!  

Remember God's truth is often very opposite of what the world is trying to tell us!! It is NOT my strength that has gotten me through the illness and death of my husband.  NOT my strength that has raised four kids on my own.  NOT my strength that has worked full time and gone through full time nursing school.  I tapped out!!!  I am smart enough at this point to know when my load is too heavy...

Check this out...from Psalm 18:6-19
"In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help."
"He parted the heavens and came down...
He reached down from on high and took hold of me; He drew me out of deep waters.
He rescued me...He brought me out into a spacious place."
David, a powerful, strong warrior wrote this.  How many of those sentences started with "I"??  David was a smart man!  He understood, REAL strength does not come from does NOT come from a bumper does not come from a pep talk on MY ability.  It comes from tapping out and being dependent on God.
"With YOUR help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall." vs. 29
Read the Psalm for yourself and see.  David was admired for his strength and ability in battle. But David knew where his strength came from.
"His (God's) pleasure is NOT in the strength of the horse, nor His delight in the legs of a warrior; the Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love."  Psalm 147:10-11
Get it?  God doesn't care how strong you are physically or mentally!!  His desire is that you can recognize your dependence on Him and Him alone.

Independently dependent

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hallowed be Thy Name...


"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name..."
Hallowed: verb...honor as holy, used to describe something that is sacred and revered.
New Living Version says, "Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy." Matthew 6:9
Most of us know the Lord's prayer, even if we don't profess Christianity as our faith.  I have been in secular meetings like AA where every meeting ends with saying the Lord's Prayer.  

"Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name..."
 Do I hold the name of God sacred, holy, revered?  
I'm gonna be bold here...
One of the most offensive things I find in our society today is the use of God's name as a curse word.  I would also like to point out that I have never heard the name of another world religion's god used as profanity, have you?
"Oh Shiva!" (name of one of the Supreme gods of the Hindu sects.)
"Allah condemn it" (The Islam god)
"Oh Buddha!"
Why then is the name of the God of the Bible, the Savior of our world, the babe who's birth we celebrate at Christmas, the sacrificial lamb who's death we talk about in the Spring used as an explicative, profanity, a common swear word??
 Because a slithering snake, a devouring lion, a thief doesn't want us to know there is power in that name.  There is healing in that name.
There is hope in that name.
If we reduce His name to an everyday slang, a run-of-the-mill swear word then we won't have to acknowledge His greatness, His divinity. 

Know the name?
Know the name...
"Those who know Your name trust in You, for you, Lord have never forgotten those who seek You." Psalm 9:10
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Joel 2:32, Romans 10:13
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to man-kind by which they must be saved." Acts 4:12
There is a disadvantage to the English language and translation of the Bible.  In the original text, Greek and Hebrew, there are many different names used for our word "God" or "Lord".  The different names God used for Himself teach us about who He is.
These are a few of God's name that I have come to know and depend upon...
Elohim- Creator
El Roi- The God who sees me when no one else seems to...
El Shadday- God Almighty...who parts rivers providing for escape.  The God who provides a way out of trouble when there seems to be no way out....
Yahweh Yireh- The Lord will provide...oh how I know this name!  When I have $20 to my name and the bills are due, power is being shut off, and the kids are hungry...
Yahweh Rophe- The Lord who heals, when your heart is broken, the loss is overwhelming, the skies are DARK and there seems to be no end to the pain and hurt...
Yahweh Tsuri- The Lord my Rock...where I can find shelter and safety when the storms hit
Yahweh Roi- My Shepherd who leads me along the green, pleasant, calm paths and the same one who leads me THROUGH the valley of death and darkness...
Abba- Daddy, Father...when my earthly Dad is gone and I need Daddy wisdom, protection, "atta-girl" motivation...
The next time you or someone around you calls out God's name...pause and think about all that is behind that name...
That name is the only name that can truly save, truly heal, and truly provide hope...

He knows each star and calls them by name, (Psalm 147:4) and He knows your name (John 10:3)...I am quite sure He doesn't use your name as profanity because He LOVES you!!!

Hallowed, honored, holy....