Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: August 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I Am a Life that was Changed

Sometimes people come into your life and make an indelible imprint that forever changes who you are. I want to tell you about a couple of those people in my own life – Red and Frances Jones. Mr. Red and Mrs. Frances had the gift of hospitality. Long before I ever knew them, they were constantly inviting college students and young couples into their home. The treated my husband, Michael, as if he was their own. Even though there was no blood relation, Michael always referred to them as his grandparents.

When I met Mr. Red and Mrs. Frances, I was enamored by them. Not only were they in love with their Savior, but they were madly in love with each other after years and years of marriage. I loved watching them bat their eyes at one another across the table and to listen to the subtle ways they would flirt with each other while playing Shanghai (a card game they taught me and which I love). They had compassion on others and cared greatly about the lost. Mrs. Frances faithfully taught Sunday school for years and her class adored her. Mr. Red was a servant leader; he spent countless hours working as the church treasurer and as a deacon.

When we learned that we were going to have a baby, Mr. Red and Mrs. Frances were the very first people we told. We cried and rejoiced together! Unfortunately, shortly before Jorjanne was born, Mrs. Frances passed away. We decided to give Jorjanne the middle name Frances after this godly woman we had grown to love.

As time progressed, Michael’s bipolar disorder slowly took control of his life. At some of our lowest points, Mr. Red was my rock. I could go to him for wisdom and for shelter. Years earlier, my dad had asked Mr. Red to “look after his little girl” and this was a task Mr. Red took seriously. He always treated me like family and I always thought of him as a protector in my life. We had some precious times in prayer together and his home became a respite for me when I needed to get away for a few hours. He would play with Jorjanne and allow me to find a quiet place to seek the Lord.

This week marks ten years since Mrs. Frances died, and today Mr. Red went home to join her. While my heart hurts over the loss of a man I loved as if he were my own family, I also rejoice in knowing that he has been reunited with both his bride and with His Groom. I now know what it means to long for heaven because I have so many loved ones who are up there celebrating Mr. Red’s homecoming. One day, I shall join them in that great celebration.

Until that day, I pray that I can carry on the legacy left behind by Red and Frances Jones. I pray that Jorjanne will reflect Christ as Mrs. Frances did and that she will one day marry a man like Mr. Red. I thank God for blessing me with such incredible role models in my life. I hope that my legacy will point others to Christ like the Jones'. When I hear the song, "Thank You" by Ray Boltz, I will always think of Mr. Red and Mrs. Frances.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

What you wish your pastor knew about mental illness...

In the past few years, I have realized that there are a lot of churches out there who want to help people who struggle with a mental illness, but they don't know how. Before Michael's struggle with bipolar disorder, I had no clue how much a person's mental illness could affect a whole family. It is so important to have a support system and the church should be the best place to find this support.

Sadly, many people think that they will be judged by the church so they never tell anyone about their struggles. The more I talk with people whose lives have been touched by mental illness, the more burdened I am to help churches to establish mental health ministries.

So, here's my question for you: What do you think is the most important thing that clergy should know about mental illness? In other words, what do you wish your pastor knew about mental illness? If you don't want to post publicly, you can email your responses to thenatcave@yahoo.com


Monday, August 15, 2011

Is Time my Enemy?

Have you ever wished you could have just one more hour in the day? One more hour to finish school work. One more hour and I could exercise. One more hour to talk with my friend before she has to leave. We live in a culture of instant gratification. We don’t like to wait.

There are other times when we all long that time would stand still. Someone very special to me always said, “Time is the enemy.” It seemed like there was never enough time when we were together. My lifestyle is one of hurry. It seems like I am always on the run. My grandmother always joked that “Go” was my middle name.

Recently, I’ve begun to wonder if this is healthy. One morning when we had plenty of time, I heard myself urging my daughter to hurry…we had all the time in the world. I realized that I didn’t know how to slow down.

Jesus commands us in John 15 to abide in Him. Abide. To abide means to remain or to stay. What would my life look like if I was still? “Be still and know that I am God.” There is great wisdom in being still.

When I am still, I can listen. When I am still, I often feel peace. In the stillness, I see things I often miss.

I remember reading in Blue Denim and Lace, “When I give you my time, I give you my life, for time is life.” Time isn’t money. Its life. J.R.R. Tolkien said it well when he said, “All we have to decide is what to decide to do with the time that is given us.” Ann Voskamp writes in One Thousand Gifts, “I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…” I completely agree.

So, I am resolved to slow down and “smell the roses.” I want to enjoy the sound of the whippoorwill’s song outside my window. I long to watch the kaleidoscope of leaves fall in autumn and feel the coolness of winter’s breath on my cheek. I don’t want to miss a single moment! I want to live in the here and now without regret! In order to do so, I must make time my friend and my enemy no more!

Thankful for: Unbridled joy of a child, the unconditional love and fanfare of a dog for its master, and crickets chirping on a humid, summer night

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

O Where is My Hairbrush?

Last week as I was getting ready to go to the dentist, my daughter came into my room exclaiming, “Mama, we have a problem.” Taking one look at her, I busted out laughing. She had a round hairbrush stuck in her hair. Once I quit laughing I begin trying to untangle the knotted mess. The more I worked, the more she screamed and the tears began to flow. It didn’t take long for my laughing to stop – I too wanted to cry because I couldn’t get the blasted hairbrush out of her hair.

After what seemed like an eternity, I did the only thing I could do. We piled in the car and drove to the beauty salon. Embarrassed, Jorjanne put on a hoodie to try and hide the brush. The funny thing was that the handle stuck out of the front of her hood making her look like she had a big black growth on the front of her head. It reminded me of a Masaii warrior. Once we got to the salon, I learned that the trick to getting out such a tangled mob was conditioner – lots and lots of conditioner. After about ten minutes, the hairbrush was finally back where it belonged, in my daughter’s hand.

The more I thought about this hairbrush dilemma, I kept thinking of the verse in Hebrews 12:1 that says “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…” Her hairbrush was a great picture of what sin does to us. We think we can dance around with sin just for a little while. We can quit anytime, right? Before we know it, we are trapped by the sin and can’t get free. It takes something outside of ourselves to free us. The conditioner in this case is the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jorjanne learned a valuable lesson that day. She will never twist a round brush around and around in her hair again, not even for a little while. May we learn the same lesson and not “dance” with sin, not even a little.

Thankful for: the thunderous roar that warns of the impending storm, indoor plumbing and glorious laughter with squeals of delight

Thursday, August 4, 2011

1000 Gifts

Many of you may be familiar with Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 Gifts. I haven’t finished the book yet, but so far I love it!!! I heard her share at SheSpeaks, and I was challenged to live a life of gratitude. We can get so focused on our circumstances that we fail to live lives of thanksgiving before the Lord.

God tells us to give thanks in all things. Yeah right. How many of us actually do this? Ann challenges us to intentionally focus on the gifts God has given to us and to praise Him for them. Now, I am not suggesting that we love God for His Gifts because He is enough without ever giving us anything at all. I am suggesting that we all have been blessed and we need to express thanksgiving to God every day that we live.

This morning, I started my own thankful list. I’m not keeping count. I just want to reprogram my mind to look around me and see all that I have to be thankful for. I don’t know about you but I take so much for granted. I want to praise God for the gifts He has given me – the big and the small ones!

So, for the next year, I will end my posts with a sample listing of some of the things from my thankful list. I am calling this list, my treasure box. I encourage you to BE THANKFUL!

My Treasure Box: the sound of the tide rolling in on a hot summer day, yellow flowers which represent God’s love notes to me, my precious daughter who delights my soul, and a child’s laughter that fills my ears even in this moment