Holidays Forever Changed


It was this time last year that my brother had started showing slight signs of illness. It wasn’t anything drastic, but by Christmas that all had changed.

Standing in the kitchen on Christmas morning, the words falling from my sister-in-law’s lips left me dazed and confused. Out of left field came the news that my brother was gravely ill.

But not even the warning just minutes before could prepare me for actually seeing him. He didn’t look like my brother at all. Always the picture of health and happiness, his face was sunken and his neck collapsed. He shuffled like a man twenty years his senior. I simply couldn’t understand how he could have changed so much since Thanksgiving. I found it hard to make eye contact with him, afraid that I’d spontaneously combust into an emotional inferno, or worse yet, that my shock would hurt his feelings.

We didn’t talk of his condition or appearance other than him letting everyone know that we all needed to make sure our wills were done. He left and—with his loving finance’, Karen, and devoted brother Stan by his side—he went through all the medical testing and processes to get himself on the liver transplant list. He followed the rules, at least for the most part, and we all dreamed of the day he would get his new lease on life.

That day never came, at least not in an earthly sense, and just as quickly as he had fallen ill, he was gone. This will be our first Thanksgiving and Christmas without him and, though I know that he would want us to still gather, laugh and love, it will simply never be the same. Thanksgiving and Christmas are forever changed. We miss you, Gary.

 

gary lake posted by friend after memorial

Gary’s Song

Though we know you are just beyond heaven’s door

In a place we, too, will one day live forever more

There is still an emptiness beginning to swell

In the place where love once lived and dwelled

So, today, we ask you Father to close the gap

To take us and hold us tight in your lap

To give us the strength to make this story

One that gives us peace and you all Glory.

–B. Gibson–Amen and Ehmen

 

What should I tell them?


BUT GOD…

If I tell them that you love them and I tell them that you are there, what dear godelse am I going to fill the time with? Surely, I need to say more than that. Should I recite scripture? Should I have them take out their bibles and say “turn with me to Hebrews 12:1? Should I say “Ready Read?”

AND THE ANSWER CAME…

No, my child, tell them that I love them. Period. And then tell your story.

They need to read my story for themselves. And I will open it up to them as they are ready. You need to tell YOUR story. You lived it for a reason.

Surviving the Depression War Zone


Giving up is Where Hope begins

 

To my fellow Christians suffering from depression. Don’t be ashamed, but instead take heart. Reach for help and know there are a host of us who love you and are pulling for you. Sure, more often than not, we feel helpless. I know, with my friend, I often ponder if this is how it feels to have a loved one in a war zone. I suppose in a sense you are in a war zone. You are fighting for your very life, entrenched in heavy battle with satan and his evil army of demons. They surround you and, though they can’t physically lay a hand on you, they make so much noise and create so much smoke and fog that you can’t help but spew and sputter. What you have to know is that the heat is getting turned up because time is running out and they know that you are near victory. It’s their hail mary pass; their last ditch effort.

The thing is, my dear friend, is that you have to remember that amid all that smoke and noise, God is right there. He never left. My prayer today is that the noise be squelched and the smoke be dissipated so that you can see Him and feel Him for All He is. Latch on. Sing “You Raise Me Up” or any other of your favorite praise and worship songs at the top of your lungs and drown out that devil. There is another side to this dark night and it’s right around the corner. The sun is coming up. All you have to do is keep walking toward and with Him. God loves you and so do I.

A Poem for A Dying Friend


Writer’s Note: This was written a few years ago as my friend, Ross, stood at the threshold between heaven and earth. Although cancer had escorted him there, angels ushered him into Heaven a couple of months later. God is good. All the time. Amen and Ehmen.

Dove flying

God stretches out his arms

Patiently waiting for his son to come home

He’s been waiting for a while

As His son struggles to hang on

But, soon the son will trade

his struggles for God’s peace

And God will smile brightly as he

prepares the homecoming feast.

His attention will then turn

To comforting those souls

Who are left behind and

no longer feel whole.

 *

He weeps with the hurting

And reminds us of the cross

Better days are coming

For He’s already paid the cost.

 

Prayers and Peace for Paris…


As the world mourns with and prays for the people of Paris, I, too, lift my eyes to the peace parisHeavens. Lord, I ask You to make Your Presence known to all the hurting and fearful. Clothe all of us, especially those directly impacted by the attacks of the past few days, in the peace that only You can provide; in that special peace which surpasses all understanding. We love you, Lord, and praise you, even in the midst of this mighty storm. Amen and Ehmen.

Note: This morning as I prayed this prayer, the following words nestled into my spirit. I gave them a home on paper and I found comfort in them. I hope that you do as well.

As darkness descends on a fallen and trembling world, the Heavens roar as our Almighty God summons all of His angels.

War has been waged. To that no one can argue. But, those who believe know that it is a war that is already won. The enemy’s fate has been sealed.

Stand in faith, people of God. Do not let the enemy shake you. Do not let the darkness consume you; for it is indeed darkest before the dawn and, no matter how bad it gets; nor how painful it is, know that even this horrible suffering is nothing compared to the Glory that is to come.

And The Word of God Says:

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

His sign said, “Ugly, Old and Homeless…”


His sign said ugly, old & homeless. He eagerly and with sincere appreciation took homeless picthe $20 bucks I handed him. His face lit up as he showed me the Lord’s Supper coin he carried in his pocket. He told me that, though it made his bag heavier, he always had his bible with him. He said “God bless you, friend” and I told him I’d be praying for him. I also told him that the last thing on his sign might be true from an earthly sense, but that the other two couldn’t be further from the truth. Beautiful hearts and souls come in many kinds of packages. With cars stacking up behind me, I asked him if he liked Doritos and, when he nodded yes, I returned his coin and gave him the chips. He went back to his curbside seat and in my rear view I could see that he was already enjoying them. I drove away sad and blessed at the same time.

Note: This was inspired by a man who can often be found sitting on the corner as you leave the Arby’s and Pilot station just off the exit nearest my home. He has been there for about three months. Please, if you see him or another like him, help them in anyway that you can. It really doesn’t matter why they are there; just that they are there and that we all need a little help now and then.

And The Word of God says…

Matthew 25:40

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'”

Happiness is Fleeting…


As I looked to God for some peace during these crazy days, he sent me back in time to a journal entry I made quite awhile ago and, while my part of the conversation is too personal to share at this juncture and the situation far different, this excerpt from His part is applicable and timely for me today. Perhaps it will be for you as well. Amen and Ehmen.

nature shot at stone mountain“Breath in, inhale my Word, My child. You are far from alone and your story does not depend upon another human. I am so proud of you for being so intent on fulfilling my will and purpose for you. Please stay the course as I promise you that it will be well worth it. You, my child, are on the fast-track to joy and joy trumps happiness any day of eternity. Many people that you know, including yourself, still get caught up in seeking happiness, but happiness is fleeting. One rain fall can wash it away. One gust of wind can grab it from your grasp. Joy, on the other hand, like me, will never leave you. You may not recognize it, but it is there for the taking. Believe in me and I will give you peace and joy. Talk to me and ask me and I will give you the ability to see. I love you and, in the end, that really is all that matters. Stick with me. The best days are still ahead!

 

Leaving a Blessing


As the temperatures cool and the world sports the colors of the Thanksgiving season, it’s always nice to take pause and thank God for our many blessings. And there is so very much to be thankful for. Leaves, for example. Starting as a tiny bud, new leaves spring forth around Easter time each year, literally breathing life into the world, not only preserving our very existence, but also providing us shade along the way. Indeed, every single leaf has an important, life-giving, life-preserving job. Perhaps that is why God gives them such a beautiful and colorful exit every fall. This year, as the leaves around you burst into an array of breath-taking colors, take a moment to thank God for them. And as they take their final bows, falling from the trees carried by the gentle winds of November, send up a bountiful round of applause straight from earth’s stage to Heaven’s ears.