Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the refiner's fire

two posts in a row. i guess i feel responsible for making up for the lack of posting i did last week. and there is just a sort of urgency in my heart for this one. and today God wouldn't let me get over the urge. so i write.

about a year ago my family started on the most difficult journey it would face. never did we expect to be tried and tested in the ways that we were. but today we stand with more strength, more faith, and more love than ever before. however, it isn't an easy road to walk.

in january of last year my mom noticed that my dad's ability to remember things was deteriorating slowly. she expressed concern to my siblings and i, but we told her it was nothing... he's never been one for details. however, come march, things were still not right. he sought the help of a neurologist and went through weeks of testing, MRIs, doctor appointments while we waited for an answer. one by one things were ruled out. tumor, no. alzheimer's, no. dementia, not that either. one monday night my parents received a phone call from one of the doctors explaining that he knew what it was and to come in the following morning. he said things didn't look great. after a night of no sleep and lots of tears, i went to work, just like i had for weeks.

on july 17th, 2009, a neurologist diagnosed my 56 year old father with early onset alzheimer's. he said despite the lack of genetic evidence he was sure my father was losing his memory for good. he also warned that because my dad is so young the disease would be more aggressive in its degeneration and we must begin making arrangements.

there are no words to describe the pain, the fear, the panic that sets in with a diagnosis like this. i immediately drove home to spend time with my family. my brothers played in the pool with my dad like always. my mom spent hours on the phone letting all of the relatives know the results had come back and we faced a battle with one of the most mysterious diseases known to modern medicine.

why God? i just had to ask. i spent months asking. God, why? why us? why my dad? why my family? why do this to my mom? why to jeremiah, he is so young? why now? why not later in his life? why, God, why?

while i still wish this all away. while i wish it wasn't us. while i wish it was later in my dad's life. while i wish it wasn't my dad, my mom, my family. i understand that we are being tested by fire just like God talks about in 1 Corinthians 3:
"This work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames." -1 Corinthians 3:13-15
we don't know what's going to come of all this. we don't know if his brain will be perfect. we don't know if he will remember us five years from now. but we do know that God is doing His work among us. and i know that i don't want to just barely escape through the flames. i want to be thrown into the fire only to burn brighter than the flames. i want to be blinding, like the blue flames that compose the hottest part of the blaze.

i want to know that God placed me in the hottest of heats, in the toughest of times, and i made it with His strength there to keep me cool. thankfully, my family, the people that mean the world to me, get to join me in this journey.

my dad is doing better. he has improved tremendously with the help of an amazing psychiatrist and with the family rallied closely around him. however, the flames, though smoldering, still burn, reminding us that we are not yet free. that His refiner's fire is continuing to work on us making us more like Him.

it's not easy. it's not fun. but the bible never promised easy or fun. it promised to glorify Him.
"God gives, God takes. God's name be ever blessed." - Job 1:21

Monday, April 26, 2010

death alley, just as dangerous as the valley

i must begin with an apology for being an absent minded student, friend, writer, blogger, sister, child, follower. (fill in whatever works best for you in defining our relationship) sometimes i could swear that the fast forward button is being pushed and life is just scrambling by not making much sense just like movies do! and blogging affords me the chance to organize everything, but then i get too caught up in the chaos to slow down and reflect and write. i must get better. period.

well, i ran another half marathon yesterday. nothing special in that i’ve done it so many times now i can’t count them all on one hand, but there was something very different (special is NOT the right word) about yesterday. i wasn’t feeling well at the start and in fact emptied the contents of my stomach out of my mouth publically… that was an experience in itself. but that was not even the beginning of it.

come mile 12, the last little leg of a 13.1 mile race, i felt tired but hopeful to get to the end when that all came crashing down. at the end of the water stop a man lay lifeless on the ground while a group of volunteers vigorously pump his chest to maintain circulation. next thing i know a man comes running from a nearby tennis club with an aed and they prepare to jumpstart his heart. oh boy, i have never been this close to death. as i turn the corner i pray to God to help him (whoever he is) since i know that i have nothing to offer.

like an immediate answer to prayer there is an ambulance parked just around the bend. i am jogging up the hill (a run was too much to ask at this point!) to let the paramedics know there was a man in need being revived down the hill, when i realize the helpers are already helping another man’s heart with cpr. even more so than before, i have never been this close to death.

at this point it seems appropriate to stop jogging and gather myself (being the hot mess i already am, more puke or some tears seems hardly reasonable). as i am walking up the rest of the street i remember my mom telling me she would meet me at the top of the final downhill. we would finish together like we always do. so time to run again, i come over the crest of the hill and she’s not there. i run through the crowded finish and still no mom. a fire truck flies by lights and sirens blaring. no mom. i cross the line, no smile, no mom.

at this point, i am in a full panic. i just hung out with the grim reaper for a mile and now my mom, my BEST friend ever, is missing. bordering on hysteria, i hear my name and turn to find my mom in her orange top that is identical to mine. wow, a whole new hysteria ensues. thank God she is here. literally i am thanking Him.

but i never leave it this simple do i? nope. last night as i lay in bed i could not help but reflect on the ups and downs (geographically and emotionally) i had experienced in just a single day. i was glad that death was just something i got to run by, not something i had to fight like the emts, or watch like the volunteers, or deal with like the fallen runners. but the ultimate face down with death happened with Jesus on the cross. He didn’t run by it, or fight it, or deal with it. no he conquered it. Jesus put the grim reaper out of business.

in matthew 27:46, as Jesus is hanging on the cross he is looking death in the eye and feeling the energy and life drain from his body, he cries out:

"“Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?"”

now, my mom being missing does not mean she had forsaken me (she was stuck in the runner’s trough because of the security guards), but i felt for a moment the fear, the sadness, the worry of losing a relationship with a parent. it is by no means near the brokenness Christ felt inside, however, it did bring my heart right back to Him. in that same vein, God never forsake Christ, He just had to serve as a guard for the rest of mankind. He was obligated, just like my mom. remember this in times of feeling forsaken by Him. He has a greater plan, He has beaten death, and He will do what is best, not just for you, but for all.

song of the day:
you’re not alone
by: meredith andrews

“you’re not alone for i am here
let me wipe away your every fear
my love, i’ve never left your side
i have seen you through the darkest night”

He means it. for both you and me in synchronicitie.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

matchmaking the multitudes

wow i am behind. but i'm back.

life turns into a major blur and it gets just so chaotic and i get majorly disoriented. but i have still been thinking and trying to come up with something that is worthwhile to put up on here for all to see. this week in church pastor matt began a series on touch and what sex means in the context of the church, but he spent much of his sermon discussing marriage and God's intention behind creating man and wife for one another.

so, in this vein, but not along the same path, i will be talking about God's creation of woman for man, specifically adam, in genesis 2.

"The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
"This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called 'woman,'
for she was taken out of man."

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." -Genesis 2:18-24

now that we have read those verses i am going to go in a completely different direction. there are dozens of matchmaking sites on the web, compatibility tests and materials, and tv programs that market the ability to tell you if he or she is "the one".

these specific shows are so very interesting to me. they promise to form you into the perfect woman for him who is sure to be your perfect man. but is that what God wrote in the bible? does it say anywhere, "hey you will have a perfect group of people who will be perfect for you because you are perfect." well, not in my bible.

our culture has found these short cuts for us. no wonder divorce runs so rampant in our society. no one is searching for their God given match, but instead they are just looking for their the one as determined by the world's standards. i, too, was a part of this in high school. who's the cutest boy? who makes me laugh the most? who is the funnest? who says the most romantic things?

by God's standards these are not the criteria for mr. perfect. He didn't make us to bargain for marriage. He made someone that is perfect for me, and only me. unfortunately, society has stripped God of His role as our matchmaker and given it to other men. it is important to realize the role of God in our lives as believers.

i want to encourage women, whether single or married, to encourage daughters, friends, sisters who are single to remember that their love lives are in the hand of the ultimate matchmaker. remembering Him in those moments of frustration and loneliness will help pass those feelings. as seen in the scripture above, God has created a match for every man. He created man and woman in pairs, not to stand alone.

however, He does not lay out a specific timeline about how each pair of man and wife come together. this is important to keep in mind. for some it's early and obvious, for others there are years of failed relationships and dates. what is important is to keep your journey towards a match centered around Him.

song of the day: cinderella - stephen curtis chapman.
throughout the course of the song the young girl goes from being daddy's little girl to being a wife. i will continue with this soon... daddy's girl is such a perfect topic for later.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

that's MY King.

Easter Sunday was just a few days ago and something happened this year that made me realize the immense magnitude of what exactly jesus, mary and joseph, and our one and only God did for us through the act of the crucifixion. this is only expanded by the resurrection of Christ on Easter Sunday so many years ago.

mary watched her son hang out of her reach and suffer through a publicly humiliating death at the expense of those mocking her own blood. my mom won't sit still while i (at 21 years old) pull a stinger of a bee out of my foot or limp after stubbing my toe, so i can only begin to imagine her reaction if a crowd came to hang me upon a cross next to two criminals. but mary took the plan God had for her to heart, she trusted in Him alone, and her son beat the greatest of evils, death. thank you mary.

God denied His very own child, himself in human form when jesus cried out, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" or as Matthew 27:46 says, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" my father is the most protective man i know. the most difficult task for a father (especially a divine father looking upon mortal creatures) must be to watch a group of dirty, rotten, self-righteous men hang his child upon a wooden cross in order to ensure his death. but God understood this was necessary in order to turn His wrath from the sinful nature of His people. those people are us. i am grateful to Him.

it's important to remember the events of the crucifixion. the extreme physical pain and social struggle that jesus went through on his path to the cross. this video captures the darkness of Good Friday, the hopelessness of mankind in watching death conquer their King as he hangs upon the cross.

wow, my King, our King is a mighty mighty God. and all i can think is, yes, yes, yes, THAT'S MY KING.

song of the day: in Christ alone.
this hymn has been redone by countless popular christ artists from rita spring to the newsboys, but the story remains the same. Christ has freed us through his power in us. listen to the lyrics, it says it all.