Grave Clothes

IMG_1467Today at church, on Mother’s Day, I shared how Jesus removed my “Grave Clothes.”  The Pastor’s sermon was on the power of Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead.  At the end of the sermon, I shared my personal testimony of how Jesus removed my grave clothes.

When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.

Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”  John 11:43-44

The Music Box

I took a break from reading and pressed my head against the glass taking in the views along the country roads.  I longed to be at home taking a nice Sunday afternoon nap, but my ten-year old wanted to go back to the place where “you can eat a big banana split and jump the bump in the road.”  As we were getting ready to leave the church parking lot, he grinned as he said, “Mom, it’s the last day of spring break and you promised!”

So, instead of heading home for a nap, we were on our way to Milton, NC to eat a banana split with 9 scoops of ice cream for lunch.  

When we arrived an hour later, we didn’t stop because we had the green light and the big bump in the road was straight ahead. We hit the bump and as our stomachs did flips, the kids yelled, “Again! Again!”

Bump Milton, NC

As we made the u-turn to do it again, my stomach did an extra flip as I remembered yelling, “Again! Again!” when I was a little girl on Sunday visits to Great Granny’s house. Hitting that bump in the road was the highlight of our drive and it let us know we were only minutes away from enjoying her homemade coconut cake.  

I held my child’s hand and we carefully crossed the street. As we waited for our food, I looked up and saw a line of glass soda bottles on a shelf.  I pointed and said, “Do you see that green bottle? That was my favorite! There is nothing in this world like an ice-cold Mountain Dew in a glass bottle.” 

I could taste it.

My youngest turned to me and asked, “Mom, if you could have anything back from your childhood what would you have?” 

The question startled me, and the first thing that came to my mind rolled off of my tongue. “My childhood.”

He didn’t skip a beat and said, “No, Mom. I mean, if you could have a toy or anything back from your childhood what would you want? What else besides Mountain Dew in a glass bottle?” 

I started to tell him about my strawberry shortcake doll and how her hair smelled like strawberries but then our huge banana split arrived, with plenty of spoons to share. 

 

As we were leaving, we decided to look around the antique store next door. I lingered by the music boxes and I kept going back to one particular box. I picked it up and gently turned the bottom and started humming along to “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.” 

I remembered it. 

I sat it back down on the shelf and as I was leaving the manager said, “If you want one of those music boxes, I will give you a great deal.”

I had to get it!

I handed her $9 as she wrapped it for me.  Once we were back in the car, I snapped a photo and sent it to my aunt, and asked, “Do you remember?” 

Music Box

She replied, “I don’t remember at all.” 

I remembered it.

I continued to slowly turn the bottom and hum along on the way home.  A few minutes later, I texted the picture to my mom.  She replied, “Aww…… yours? You had that!!!”

I remembered and it did look just like the music box I had when I was a little girl.  

I smiled, and a happy tear slid down my cheek as I gazed out the window giving thanks.

The Music Box felt like a hand-delivered gift from heaven. I don’t have any toys from my childhood, so it was special to bring it home especially for the little girl in me.  

It also made me realize once again that my memories are real and God is faithful. At the beginning of my healing journey, the painful memories were so strong and I desperately wanted to believe they were not true. God was with me and He gave me the courage to face the memories and process them, one by one. The memories are still there, but they no longer have power over me like they had before.

I was so thankful to spend an afternoon making beautiful new memories with my family. It was also a blessing to recall good memories and fun moments from my own childhood.

Out of everything in that antique store, I don’t think it is a coincidence that I left with the music box. It was a gift to remind me that He is with me. God was with me then, and He is with me now as I remember. He is tender, kind, gentle and personal. I am thankful for the many ways He brings His love, His hope, and His perspective to my heart.

For now, the Music Box is on my nightstand. It reminds me of hope and makes me smile as I hum along, “because I’m free…. nothing’s worrying me.”

Wow.  Thank you, Jesus.

 

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
 Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
 who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
 who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  

Psalm 103:1-5 NIV

 

ENCOUNTERING GOD BY NAME: MY PROVIDER

I remember bringing her home from the hospital and holding her in my arms crying. As I sat on my bed nursing her, the very real dangers she would face as a little girl hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to keep her safe. I had to do everything in my power to protect her. I didn’t want anyone to hurt her. I knew how scary it was to be a little girl.

As I sat there gazing at her beauty and innocence, a fierceness rose up in me and I vowed to keep her safe. I had to keep her close. I did not trust anyone.  

As she grew, the memories from my own childhood would suddenly pop up and overwhelm me. I went to counseling to begin healing from the devastation of the sexual abuse and trauma I experienced as a child.  

I had not shared these secrets with anyone. I didn’t want to ever talk about them, but memory after memory continued to roll in like waves on the shore. I was at the end of my rope and all I could do was trust Him. It took everything in me to place this sealed away part of me in God’s hands…

Click below to continue reading:

Join me over at Hidden Treasures and Riches for my dear friend Tope’s series: Encountering God by Name.  She asked me to share my story of how I have experienced God as “Jehovah Jireh, My Provider”.  Click here to read the rest of “ENCOUNTERING GOD BY NAME: MY PROVIDER.” 

Embracing Christmas …when it’s less than perfect

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I am all about traditions, routine, order, and knowing what to expect.  When plans change, it can be very triggering for me. Even something as lovely as a vacation can set me on edge and make me feel vulnerable. As much as I smile and delight in the fun on the outside, on the inside I am fighting anxiety and panic with both fists. It is a weary battle.  

Bring on the holidays, and that is a recipe for pure angst. 

There are:

  • Fewer lights on the tree than the many strands I envisioned.
  • Explosions of emotion and memory from opening the boxes of ornaments.
  • Eleven destroyed ornaments so far from our sweet puppy, Maisy Jane.
  • Professional family photos that haven’t been scheduled.
  • Christmas cards that haven’t been created or ordered.
  • No pictures on Santa’s lap.
  • No long lists of oh so fun to find “hot toys” – instead, “just get me this one big item”.
  • Fewer gifts, which means less hiding, less wrapping, and less opening.
  • Painful aches for those who are absent.
  • Tears for the friend who received the awful diagnosis.
  • Sleepless nights tossing and turning in prayer for the heart of a child.
  • Changes in friendships, relationships, and traditions.  

In all of the dazzling merriment, there are disappointments, frustrations, and unmet expectations. 

How should we respond?

Mary was pregnant and traveling on a donkey with swollen feet and an aching back. She did not have a reservation at the Hilton. There was no guest room available for her.  She was going to give birth in a stable without an epidural. 

But in the smelly, messy, and painful circumstances surrounding Mary, light burst forth as she delivered a Love like no other.  

That same Love exists today in your smelly, messy, painful circumstances.
Do you see Him?  Can you find Him there? 

Just this week, I found Him in a powerful therapy session, a gentle rebuke, and an encouraging lunch.

He is with us always. We are never alone.
Like Mary, we can sit in the mess and hold onto to Jesus. 

Whatever this season brings, take the time to embrace Jesus especially when its messy, disappointing and even confusing. Be still in His presence and embrace His Love.  

Embrace Emmanuel, God with us.  

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23 KJ21