Tag Archives: love

Does Your Life Matter?

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Words cannot express the overwhelming sense of sadness that has filled our nation once again with a senseless act of violence too horrific for words. Yet today, as the rest of the world moves on with their day, 2 young children were laid to rest in the community of Newtown, Connecticut.

I have a 9-year old and 19-month old daughters who I can only protect so much, but this insanity that has rocked the holiday season makes me fear for their safety when I can’t be there with them.

I was listening to talk radio today and found a quote which I think makes a lot of sense to the happenings in our world today.

“Everybody wants to be known, and everybody wants their life to matter. Everybody wants their life to have meaning.”  – Rush Limbaugh

Regardless of how we feel about the talk show host or not, his words are truly hitting home today. We live in a social media world where people over-share their lives on a daily basis. You can find out what someone is doing from their waking moment to going to bed at night.

Yes, I love keeping up with my friends I can’t see, but it doesn’t mean I need to take a picture of my breakfast for the world to see. A confession…I have always had dreams of being a movie actress. What does that say about me? It means I want to be known and I want my life to matter.

I was 25-years old when I fell in love with my oldest daughter. I adopted for completely selfish reasons and will tell anyone that who tells me how wonderful I am for adopting. I wanted to be a mother. I wanted my life to matter in the life of someone else. When I die and there are no more regrets I want to know that my life meant something to someone. But you know what, it does.

I am loved by a man I never thought I would meet and I matter to him. I am loved by a 9-year old who needed someone to love and raise her, and I mean something to her. I am loved by my 19-month old daughter who knows nothing of fear and craziness in the world and to her I am her world. I am loved by my parents who have raised me the best they could and then let me go (although I keep coming back) and I matter to them. I am loved by my sisters and their families and I matter.

I could go on and on, but knowing I matter and that my life has meaning outside the confines of my own mind, means I have something many people don’t have. I have the knowledge that my life is worth something. I ache for the children and adults who don’t have the reassurance that their lives are worth something and they matter to someone out there.

So whether this is you struggling to find meaning in your own life or you are part of a larger community and have people that need to know they matter, tell them. Open up to those around you. Yeah, we may think you’re crazy but chances are we are not going to reject you. We all have some amount of crazy and what is “normal” is all relative. Be someone who matters to someone else. Let your life have meaning by giving beyond yourself and being the change someone desperately needs.

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Strength beyond Our Own

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“There are days when I feel the best of me is ready to begin. Then there are days when I feel I’m letting go and soaring on the wind. Cause I’ve learned in laughter or in pain how to survive. I get on my knees, I get on my knees. There I am before the love that changes me. See I don’t know how, but there’s power, when I’m on my knees.” ~ Jaci Velasquez song, On My Knees

Do you ever feel like you can’t go on? You can’t move from the spot you are stuck on. Today I reflect on the almost year journey my friends have made with their young daughter. Born exactly one month before my own daughter, I am emotionally caught in their struggle of pain and heartache.

Have you ever gotten everything you ever wished for? I feel very humbled when I look at all the gifts God has given me and then see very deserving people who aren’t as blessed, or find that things don’t come as easily to them as it does for others. I once heard someone say if God doesn’t heal you, he doesn’t love you. What a load of hooey!!

I went to a small Christian college where everyone knew everyone else. We were a close knit community for 4 years and there are friendships I will cherish for the rest of my life. I remember sitting at my friend’s baby shower with a large group of girls from college, and hearing their stories on getting pregnant, losing babies, trying to get pregnant and all I could think was how blessed I was to be sitting there 6 months pregnant.

There were 4 of us pregnant that day with our first. The stories I heard from 2 of them were of heartache and loss. One had lost twins and was now expecting a little girl the following month. All is well and in fact she just gave birth to her second child this month. The other, who we were celebrating had used IVF to conceive and while they were successful their first try, it was not a story I could relate to. I remember telling my husband before we ever married I could not do fertility treatments. I knew I couldn’t handle the emotions and possible heartache.

I never thought I would conceive so easily. The first month we really started trying we were successful. I had multiple health issues that could have been a problem, but were not. I had an easy pregnancy and never really felt a single contraction. Apparently I was in labor for 6 hours before an emergency c-section, which was easy too. I healed remarkably well and was ready to get out of bed the following day.

But here I find myself looking at a life that was long-awaited, long-expected and celebrated. My friends finally had their little bundle of joy, conceived by IVF and theirs to have and hold and spoil. Seven months later they began a journey that has yet to end. Tumors were discovered in their baby’s chest area and were removed. Their worst fears were realized when she was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis. She would be facing a future of tumors and surgeries. In the last year my friends have had to wean their baby from drugs, due to hospital stays with lots of medication.

I can say having been raised in a home where my parents were foster parents we had drug affected babies and it’s not easy.

They have experienced the Pediatric ICU first hand and learn to suction and change their daughter’s trach. They are learning sign language so they can communicate with their daughter a little easier and they have maintained their love of God and know He is in control. They don’t blame God, and even though my friend gets down on how her life has changed, she is strong beyond her means and still continues to love, as best as she can, those in her life.

The other day I saw a Facebook post she was tagged in where she had gifted a friend with a 2nd trimester pregnancy cravings goodie bag. She still had time to think of others and give back, even though she barely has enough time to sleep between breathing treatments and doctor appointments.

She misses the life she had, where she was the extrovert, happy teacher who sang and worshipped with her church family. Now she fears her daughter will get sick if surrounded by large crowds. She feels she has become a recluse and I pray for her often. I could not imagine having the year she has had and still come out of it with a sense of humor and resolve. She is resolved she will not be who she was, but one thing she does know: she is her daughter’s mother and her best advocate. I look forward to her posts about how life is going for them at home and how she makes light of some difficult situations.

Have you found yourself surrounded by mountains too big to overcome? It can seem impossible in the midst of your struggles but knowing God’s love is big enough to reach in and lift you up can help get you through your days. I often find myself singing the lyrics above. Even when there are days I feel I want to give up, I know my God loves me and he gives me strength and power when I can’t do it on my own.Image

Getting Back to Grace

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This week we once again explored the story of grace at Crosswalk Church. Pastor Pete Shaw read once again from Mark 2, focusing on verses 13-17. Here we find the story of Levi, also known as Matthew. Jesus tells Levi, the tax collector, to come and follow him, and just like that Levi stands up from his tax collector table, leaves his old life behind and becomes a Christ-follower.

What did it mean for Levi to make such a radical change? First, we look at what it meant for Levi to be a tax collector. Even today that job has negative connotations. Nobody wants a call or letter from the IRS. I recently got a letter that we had missed something on our 2010 taxes and suddenly we had a debt to pay. Not fun.

But in Levi’s day being a tax collector gave him much power and much hate. He could collect the amount due by Caesar and go on his way, or he could inflate the tax to line his own pockets. Levi had a pretty good life from a consumer’s point of view.

But then Jesus simply says, “come and follow me” and Levi did. He not only walked away from a sure thing, a paycheck, but he was following this man who the religious community didn’t understand and for many couldn’t pay the high cost to follow.

For the community that day, when Levi left his tax table to follow Jesus, it meant their pockets stayed a little fuller with no one there to collect their tax. So even though there was a lot of hate towards Levi, that day there was relief.

Then Levi invites Jesus to dinner where he dines with Levi and “other sinners”.

Here I need to digress. I was raised that you only did what appeared to be right and you didn’t associate with the least of these. But who did Jesus spend his time with? He had a rag-tag group of disciples. Levi was only one of his follows, and he was despised. There were fisherman who stank. Peter we know had a lot of anger issues and Judas ultimately betrayed him. So that question that resonated throughout my middle school and high school years, what would Jesus do? Well he would eat with the ones who were ignored or chastised. He would not neglect or ignore those in need.

So here we see Jesus eating with Levi and other sinners. Across the street, or somewhere near by, the Pharisees are watching this meal and judging Jesus. Here we look at grace – how we lose it and how we get it back.

Often Christians who have been raised in church can become complacent and find themselves in a place they never wish to be … we judge. You see someone come into church and immediately a negative thought races through your mind about why or how this person doesn’t belong. We’ve lost the grace we are to extend to everyone when we find ourselves becoming more critical of others and not dwelling in the midst of God’s grace.

Can we get it back? Can we come back to a place where we treat everyone the same? We should offer God’s grace freely because he loved us enough to pour his grace on us. I recently ran into a friend I have known for over a decade, and she asked me about a family we celebrated with the night before. She asked, “how is it that they are so lovable?” My thought immediately was, so are you…but I didn’t have the real answer until later. The truth lies in the way they treat people. Whether they have known you a day or a lifetime they treat everyone the same. God’s love and grace flows through them and radiates to touch every life they meet.

If you’ve lost touch with God’s grace it can be like losing your heartbeat with the one who gave us life. It’s time to get dirty. Get unstuck. Serve. Give back. When we put ourselves back into someone else we can find ourselves living in God’s grace and freely giving grace to those we encounter. Don’t get hung up on the supposed rights and wrongs of being a Christian. You’ve got it all wrong when you do that. To be a Christian, to be a Christ-follower, to be a little Christ, means we are loving the unlovable and touching the untouchable. God’s grace can pour through us to reach people we never thought we could reach on our own.

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4: 13