If I Die…

For my loved ones – warm pie, a family favorite

Someday, maybe after I die, my kids might read through my blog and see this. I want to say here that I love all seven of you more than words can describe, and although I tell and show my love for you all the time, if there is any doubt, here it is in writing.

I also want to say that all the photos I have taken, videos I have made, and writing I have done in journals over the years is no indication of any favoritism. I would hate for any of my kids to feel I didn’t love them equally because there wasn’t as much record of them in one form or the other. Each one of you are tied for first place in my heart.

I am writing this on Friday, August 2, 2019. I will schedule this blog entry to be automatically posted on Tuesday, August 6, 2019.

I set it at 11:11 a.m. That is a special “TIME” of any day, of course, for us.

Why schedule it? Because I am planning to go on a two-night road trip tomorrow (which would be Saturday at the time of this writing) with my oldest daughter as she has an appointment and also wants to buy some things in the city that she can’t find up here. I don’t like to post on the internet about when I will be away, so by the time this publishes, I should already be back home…

Unless the Lord takes me to my forever home.

If I don’t return from my trip, may my remaining children know how dearly I love them. May they seek assurance through studying God’s word to know that faith in Jesus Christ alone is the only way to heaven. I want them to be with me there.

I want everyone who reads this to be there, too. I share the desire of God’s heart, which is that He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Sincerely, with love,
Mom/Steeny Lou

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Sharp pain in right temple

All day, off and on, a sharp pain has stabbed my right temple. It lasts only a second at a time and happens sporadically, several times an hour.

I am so stressed and grieved, the instigating last straw being the loss of my writing in a WordPress draft last night, that I do not feel like myself. It is not like my usual state of depression when things overwhelm me. It is deeply physical this time, very much like grief over loss of a loved one.

I wanted to say this in case I die tonight and the reason is otherwise unknown. A friend or family member might see this and know I had a strange pain in my head, not like the usual pain attacks I get every few weeks.

I took an Aspirin pill within the past hour. I haven’t tried Aspirin in years.

If I die and am therefore unable to say further words directly, I leave this here: please, my family and friends, please, I beg you, read the Bible and seek to know the truth. Please accept Jesus and thereby embark on the same eternal destiny as me. I want to see you there. I love you and do not want you to perish.

Just a flower I saw yesterday

No, I Don’t “Got This”

No amount of motivational posters are going to convince me that “I’ve got this”, “what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”, “nobody can take away my power unless I let them”, or any other platitude can remove reality from staring me in the face.

“If you need to talk, just reach out. I’m here for ya.”

Actually, no. You’re not. Nobody is. It is all nice in theory, but when it comes down to it, the only one here for me is me.

And that is depressing, because I am too broken to help myself.

There’s always that one thing that does kill ya. So far, none of the other attempts have strengthened me. Here I am still crying out to no person.

I do know God hears me, and my only hope is in joining Him in that better place. Meanwhile, I push on and wait, hiding within my tent of flesh and bone, choking on tears for breakfast.

I do not have strength. God is my strength. I cling to Him.

I feel no motivation. I can only eke out: “Thank you, God, for sending Jesus to unite me to You. Without You, I am only dust. I await seeing Your face.”

Psalm 42, Amplified Version:

As the deer pants [longingly] for the water brooks,
So my [a]soul pants [longingly] for You, O God.

My soul (my life, my inner self) thirsts for God, for the living God.
When will I come and see the face of God?

My tears have been my food day and night,
While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”

These things I [vividly] remember as I pour out my soul;
How I used to go along before the great crowd of people and lead them in procession to the house of God [like a choirmaster before his singers, timing the steps to the music and the chant of the song],
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a great crowd keeping a festival.


Why are you in despair, O my soul?
And why have you become restlessand disturbed within me?
Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall again praise Him
For the help of His presence.

O my God, my soul is in despair within me [the burden more than I can bear];
Therefore I will [fervently] remember You from the land of the Jordan
And the peaks of [Mount] Hermon, from Mount Mizar.

Deep calls to deep at the [thundering] sound of Your waterfalls;
All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me.

Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime,
And in the night His song will be with me,
A prayer to the God of my life.


I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10 
As a crushing of my bones [with a sword], my adversaries taunt me,
While they say continually to me, “Where is your God?”
11 
Why are you in despair, O my soul?
Why have you become restless anddisquieted within me?
Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him,
The [b]help of my countenance and my God.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 42:1 The Hebrew word translated “soul” in this psalm and elsewhere in the book of Psalms is nephesh. This word usually refers to a person’s “life” or “self,” but can also mean “throat,” as perhaps in vv 1, 2.

  2. Psalm 42:11 Or saving acts of.

My Mother’s Hand

My sister’s hand holding our mother’s hand

One year ago to the day, my mom left this world.

I dreamed about her last night. It was as though she had never left. We went swimming together in an indoor pool within a huge log house with lots of windows letting in sunshine through a filter of tall evergreens. Later in the dream, we met up again with plans to return to the pool. Nothing at all crossed my mind to hint she had died. It seemed totally normal.

Man, I love dreams. That was a good one.

Only in the past few days have I begun to go through the boxes of my mom’s stuff that I brought up here last year. The thing that gets me the most is seeing her writing. Her nice, neat, left-handed writing was the same since I was little up until the notes she made during her final week in her old home.

Here is a photo my sister sent to my cell phone a year ago while a few of my kids and I were an hour into the drive on which we embarked after hearing the news of my mom having suffered a massive stroke. My mom was unconscious in a hospital bed as my sister held her hand and took that picture.

That’s the hand that penned letters, words, and thoughts I will always cherish. That’s the hand that raised me. That’s the hand that led me with love.

I didn’t get there in time. My mom passed away a couple hours after that photo was taken.

Some will understand when I say I will see my mom again and things will be better than ever. I look forward to that.

The Promised Superhero

 

Jesus is no pansy. His power makes even the physical achievements of Aquaman look like hopscotch and jump-rope.

I loves me a good superhero fantasy story, and Aquaman is right up there at the top of the list for me. But that’s entertainment, and Jesus is no fiction regardless of how badly you’d like to think so. Here are a few reasons why.

My blogging friend G.W. puts the Bible’s description of the Savior into a descriptive visual here, with Bible reference notes such as His feet being like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of rushing waters: here’s G.W.’s post to which I refer.

The Lord Jesus Christ, freely offering huge love, forgiveness, and joy like none of us can experience here with imperfect humans, is not one with whom to wage war. One cannot win against Him if one tried, but when one knows Him and His love, there’s no reason to fight Him and every reason to adore Him.

“He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (Matthew 12:30)

We are all sinners and in need of Him to save us from the death sentence we all have. Don’t let death be the end for you. Believe Jesus died FOR YOU and rose again and you will have better life after your last breath here than the best you can ever imagine.

And on the topic of sin, here is an excerpt from G.W.’s post:

“The popular Christ being preached today (who says sin is okay if you were born that way) is not the Christ of the Bible, nor the Christ who will be our final Judge.”

For some reason, there is a big push toward accepting certain types of sin in society today, but the fact remains that we are all “born that way” – that is, born sinners, separated from God, in need of accepting His Son as Savior to reconnect us with Him.

Don’t accept sin. Accept Jesus!

Too many people have a wrong idea of what it means to accept Jesus, as they assume there is some kind of rituals or list of rules to follow, but that puts the job on THEM to try to save themselves, when the job is already done by Jesus and all they need to do is accept that fact. Then, yes, they should read about Him in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, to know in better detail just what they were saved from, who did the saving and how, and what is going to happen next.

Truth can be stranger than fantasy.  I pray my readers understand the Truth about Jesus being THE real hero we all need.

 

The Ultimate Repair

This was where I sat on Mother’s Day last year, in the sunshine, overlooking a lake, at the top of a small hill. The best part was that I was talking on the phone to my mom.

Today, the lake is still there. The sun will still shine. The hill I can still climb. But my mother is gone.

That beautiful Mother’s Day was the last time I got to talk to my mom. A week later, as she was walking home from Sunday church meeting, she had a massive stroke.

A woman driving by saw my mom fall and went to help her. My mom told the woman her name and where she lived, and then she lost consciousness.

The woman went to the assisted-living complex where my mom lived and left her number in case there were family members who wanted to talk to her.

I got a call from the complex and received the woman’s number. I called her and she told me about having seen my mom fall and having spoken to her. She said she called an ambulance and waited with her till they arrived. She told me my mom was calm and pleasant – which I know is so characteristic of her.

Hospital staff called to let me know my mom was unconscious. A few of my kids and I started driving the six hours to go see her, but four hours into the trip, my sister messaged to let me know it was too late. So, we got a hotel and went home the next day.

The doctor told me my mom was not in pain, and that she died peacefully, with no struggle. The stroke simply was too major and left her beyond repair.

I look forward to the ultimate repair, where nothing will erode or corrode the perfection given to us by God, free from sin and its effects of slowly – and sometimes more quickly – killing the body.

And I believe I will see my mom again, in her new body, in a better place. That is one moment to which I look forward, as well as to seeing the other believers I miss who have passed on. But even if I didn’t know anyone else who followed Jesus, I trust I will be in the presence of them all, and we’ll all be on the same page.

No more conflict. No more pain. No more of anything that destroys.

Unity, at last, with the focus of our adoration and gratitude flowing toward our Loving Savior.

(See you soon, Mom. You know I’m coming Home, and then we will never again be apart.)

“After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace [who imparts His blessing and favor], who called you to His own eternal glory in Christ, will Himself complete, confirm, strengthen, and establish you [making you what you ought to be].” (1 Peter 5:10, Amplified Version of the Bible)

[This post started out as a comment here. Thanks, G.W., for encouraging me to use it.]

Intentionally Incomplete?

“Take you a glass of water

Make it against the law.

See how good the water tastes
When you can’t have any at all”

-Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Bootleg”

. . . . .

How universal is it to desire that which you do not possess?

Is it in every human heart to admire beauty, overtly or covertly, regardless of how much one already has?

Is it an empty space of longing that was allowed with a purpose, ready to be fulfilled in a dimension where jealousy, pain, and offense of all kinds are nonexistent, and peace, joy, and love are rampant?

Is desire a prerequisite to fulfillment that will only come when we are in perfected bodies, not decaying, not breaking, able to handle the weight of holding everything we could want, sinless, selfless, and furthermore having the capacity to enjoy it to the fullest?

Meanwhile, we live in a state of not fully living, and we continue to die.

Hovering…

Too much gravity to fly, yet not enough gravity to be held down.

Swimming in the lusts of our flesh.

Sometimes caving in and regretting, sometimes walking away and regretting, and sometimes feeling temporarily satisfied.

We admire, desire, and crave.

Those eyes, that hair, those arms, that mind, that car, that truck, those shoes, the sun, the heat, houses, land, gadgets, tools, travel, companionship, intimacy…

We steal, we kill, we destroy.

It’s not just me.

I don’t want it to be!

So universal.

We thirst.

And we continue to thirst.

Then, sometimes, when we get what we want, we find that it wasn’t as perfect as it seemed.

Temporary ecstasy amidst temporary pain, not willing to endure the strain.

Almost living, always slowly dying.

Always – intentionally, really – incomplete…

Behold The Man Upon The Cross

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Jesus Christ having lived and been crucified is an established historical fact, verified even by secular historians. The question, though, is why did He suffer such a cruel death?

The short answer is (and if you say this yourself and believe it, you are saved): “He died for me, and He did not stay dead.”

That is a loaded statement, but those who want to know more will find out. For the long answer, read the Bible and talk to God about understanding it. He wants you to know Him.

Other than the Bible, which admittedly can be hard to understand when one is new to it, the best book I have found for explaining the whys behind Jesus being crucified is Who Moved The Stone by Frank Morris. It is available online for free in .pdf form, but I prefer a book I can hold in my hand.

Anyway, I am getting away from the intent of today’s blog entry, which is to share an article across which I stumbled yesterday.

The author mentions the movie “The Passion of the Christ”. I, too, wept as I watched it in a theatre in the early part of 2004. The thought “He died for me” made me turn my face away and bury it in my hands. I could not view the depicted agony. I already knew the why behind it.

Now, here is the article, published just yesterday by Greg Morse, Content strategist at desiringGod.org

~~~~~~~~~~

On Good Friday, we celebrate the saddest day in history.

Blood streamed down his face. Massive thorns stuck to the head of their Maker. Groans of agony came from the mouth of him who spoke the world into being. The soldiers beat him. They flogged him. They tortured him.

As he inched through the streets of Jerusalem, his cross pressing into his lacerated back, many shuddered at him. The face of God, which Moses could not look at and live, could no longer even be recognized as human (Isaiah 52:14). Women hid their children from the bloody mass of flesh before them. Men taunted him. Soldiers clubbed him. Angels shrieked in horror.

Every prophecy about his suffering was being fulfilled. By judgment and oppression, he was taken away. His sheep scattered when their enemies struck him. One of his own sold him and betrayed him with a kiss. He found no rest as they beat him, spit on him, and mocked him through the night. In the morning, he gave his back to those who struck him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard.

He stepped forward to Calvary as a lamb to the slaughter.

His Love Was Rated-R

I remember the first time I watched The Passion of the Christ fourteen years ago. The sight of Roman ninetails sinking their claws into his back seemed to pierce my soul with Mary’s (Luke 2:35). The blood. The screams. The anguish. I could never again thoughtlessly tell others that Christ died for them. The scene forbade cliché. It was grizzly, ghastly, gruesome — rated-R.

I rarely cry, but as I watched Jesus shed his blood all over the Roman courtyard, I could not help but weep. As they held the nails over his hands and feet — his mother watching him — every swing of the hammer pierced my heart. Only the heartless could watch unfeelingly. Has there ever been a more tragic scene?

I did not consider his wounds enough. I did not weep over his suffering as often as I felt I should have. But how does Jesus respond to me, and people like me, who take Good Friday to grieve over his unbearable sufferings? Two thousand years ago he said to those weeping for him that day, “Weep not for me; weep for yourselves.”

Silence on the Set

Of the many horrors of Calvary, one that was especially acute was the shame of it all (Hebrews 12:2). His was a public execution. The condemned usually were naked. To add to this, the prophecy reads, “All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads” (Psalm 22:7). It is one thing to suffer; another to do so before a whole nation as they ridicule you.

But mockery was not the only sound made on his behalf. A host of women trailed behind him, lamenting the expiring prophet. They followed Jesus’s drops of blood — as so many of us do today — with drops of tears.

But upon hearing their sobs, Jesus, battered and broken, turned his face towards them and spoke these gracious, yet shocking words: “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children” (Luke 23:28).

This part of the passion didn’t make the movie.

On that first Good Friday, Jesus turned to his loudest sympathizers — those who are not cursing him, mocking him, but wailing on his behalf — and silenced them. He commands their tears escort him no further. He opts to press into the night without their mourning.

Weep Not for Me

Jesus did not need their tears two millennia ago, and as unpopular as it may be, Jesus does not need our tears today. And this fact owes to us seeing his passion through the eyes of faith.

Weep not for me, he said. As if to say,

I am saving my people. I have prayed, tender souls, and know my Father’s will concerning this cup — shall I not drink it (John 18:11)? My hands willingly grasp this wood because my food is to do my Father’s will (John 4:32, 34). And his will is glorious: he sent me to serve and give my life as a ransom for my people. My body is broken, and my blood is spilled for you (Luke 22:19–20). Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. Do not weep over the labor pains that give birth to your salvation and unshakable joy (John 16:20–22).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am not a helpless victim. I am a warrior-king with thousands of angels at my beck and call (Matthew 26:53). One word from me and this horror would end. One word from me and Rome would be destroyed. One word from me and all would be eternally condemned. But I was sent to save the world, not condemn it (John 3:17). Trust that no man — or army — can steal my life from me. I lay it down of my own accord, and I will take it up again (John 10:11–18).

Weep not for me, as if to say,

I am conquering. You see my heel being bruised and you mourn — but look through the eyes of faith and see the serpent’s skull trampled (Genesis 3:15). Although I walk as the Lamb, I conquer as the Lion — the predator, not the prey, will hang on the cross (Revelation 5:5–6). I am a King who shall rule the universe from a tree. And I shall make this cross my scepter. As they lift me up, I thrust my enemies under my feet as a footstool (Psalm 110:1). My triumphal entry is followed by a triumphal exit. Why should you weep over my hour of glorification (John 12:27–28)?

Weep not for me, as if to say,

Sunday is coming. I have said repeatedly that in three days I shall rise (Matthew 16:21; 17:22–23; 20:18–19). Although today is full of unutterable darkness, unimaginable pain, unthinkable terror, Sunday is coming. My Father’s perfect hand is crushing me, evil men are murdering me, my disciples have fled from me, but truly I tell you, Sunday is coming. Joy is set before me and empowers me to endure. A crown awaits me. An endless celebration awaits me. My blood-bought people await me. Eternal glory awaits me. My Father awaits me. Weep not for me.

Weep for Yourselves

Jesus does not stop their tears completely but redirects them: “Do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.” God’s wrath will soon visit the people for their sin. The nation that rejected her Messiah — not Jesus — is to be pitied.

“Behold, the days are coming when they will say, ‘Blessed are the barren and the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then they will begin to say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us,’ and to the hills, ‘Cover us.’” (Luke 23:29–30)

“Weep for yourselves,” as if to say,

I can bear my cup, but you cannot bear yours. Rome will kill your children before your own eyes. The beast you conspire with today will surround you tomorrow. Your anguish will be so severe that it is better to collect these tears in a bottle to save for that dreadful day.

My sufferings will end at death; yours may not. Many of you will cry for the mountains to cover you, but that can only spare you from the judgment of Rome — it cannot spare you from the judgment of God. The hounds of his justice do not stop at death. He is God of both the living and the dead (Acts 10:42). Vengeance is his; he will repay (Hebrews 10:30). And it is a fearful thing to fall unshielded into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31).

Weep for your sins. Gentle daughters, useless are the tears that fall on my behalf because of suffering but never fall because of sin. Many weep over my suffering, but not the sin which caused it. The horror you see before you is my becoming sin for my people and bearing the wrath they deserve, that they should have my righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). If you weep, better to weep over the lust that hammers the nail deeper, the lie that sticks a thorn in the brow, the cowardly duck that makes a gash upon me, the prideful strut that keeps me upon Calvary’s path.

It Was My Sin

I watched The Passion of the Christ each year for four years — being moved every time to tears — all while I was not truly born again. And I thought myself better for crying, as if my sins would be passed over if I had tears painted on my doorpost. It did not take a regenerate heart to weep over the sufferings of Jesus — our world is full of unbelievers who cry over sad things — but it did take a regenerate heart to mourn over what I rarely really mourned over: my sins (James 4:8–10).

And those who witnessed Jesus’s execution two thousand years ago didn’t see their sins in the cross either: “Who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?” (Isaiah 53:8). The horror stayed “over there,” while they remained innocent bystanders. They missed the point and beauty of the cross. They cried and cried, but had not love. Until we can truly sing, “It was my sin that held him there, until it was accomplished,” we weep for him in vain.

We should weep indeed at the foot of the cross, but not with pity. With faith. Those tears don’t dry up the Monday after Easter. Those tears mourn over the sin that nailed him there. Those tears sing over him as our conquering King. And those tears celebrate his death until he returns.

Is this what love is?

Is this what love is, Lord?

Is this the way Your love is?

To possess and be possessed by

Something so immense

That it cannot be pounded down into words

That are comprehensible by mortal man,

But by the pounding of two hearts in harmony

The definition is felt between them?

Will love be made clear

When at last we are in Your light,

Where no shadow hides even the nuance

Of joy from the one who needs to read it,

Where every colour and texture of sunset

Sings an endless harmonized song

Never fading to darkness?

The longing for closeness

After long last completed,

Incorruptible,

The taste having turned into fullness

Which satisfies yet appetizes the spirit

Endlessly,

With joy You have yet to reveal?

Can we know what Your love is

Apart from having known love on earth?

Or is it as foreign to us as is heaven

To eyes which have not yet seen?


~ unearthed from a draft I wrote some time ago