I couldn’t sleep last night and decided to Continue reading
Writer’s Note: Today marks four years since my brother drew his last breath, and three since I wrote this post. Today as I spent some time thinking about him and reminiscing, I felt comforted all over again. Please, if you have not accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, consider taking that step today; if not for yourself, for your loved ones. Don’t take a chance on leaving them to wonder if they will see you again, for that grief is a grief like no other.
September 7, 2016
One year ago today, I heard your voice for the last time.
I miss you, dear brother.
Truth is, I have missed you every day since you left us, but as we move closer and closer to the one year anniversary of your death, it has been especially hard.
While the grief process continues and I have taken many strolls down memory lane remembering your life, these last few days have found me especially reflective of your death. Those were dark days, brother. Painful days. It was so hard to watch mama as she realized she had to let you go. No mother should ever have to bury her child.
It was hard to watch the interaction between you and Karen. It was obvious that she was the love of your life. As dim as your eyes became, the soul-depth love you had for her burst forth like a beacon in the darkest of nights. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time.
It was hard for all of us who loved you to say goodbye, but we didn’t have a choice. All of our days on this earth are numbered and, ready or not, one day the last day will come for all that have ever drawn breath. Still, I can promise you none of us were ready for it to be your time.
At the time, the worst part of it all, Gary, was not really knowing your spiritual condition; not being sure that you had accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Not being sure that you would soon enjoy everlasting life with our Father in Heaven. I know that it was said many times right before and after your passing that a man’s faith is a personal matter and that one doesn’t have to talk about it, but that just isn’t true. No words will ever be able to express the extreme heartache not knowing levies on the hearts of those who struggle with the thought of never seeing their loved one again.
It is the same wrenching heartache that I felt a few years prior when I, as an adult, began to deal with the tragic death of our daddy decades before. In talking to mom one day, I discovered that at the time of dad’s death, she wasn’t certain of his salvation. Like you, he was a man with a heart of gold and a man of great respect and humble attitude, but, unfortunately, they had never talked about it. Having been only eight when dad was taken from us, I never really got to know him. I can only hope for another chance on the other side.
But, back to you. Your last days were heavily laden with prayer, by me, by family, by friends and the church. Though I didn’t really get the opportunity to talk to you directly about God, our cousin Patty did. Still, we weren’t sure where you stood and that hurt more than anything. But, then something happen. I was getting ready for your memorial service. It had been an emotionally charged week and I really wasn’t thinking about anything. My mind and emotions were taking a well-needed time-out when, out of the blue at exactly 7:53 a.m. September 10, 2015, the following words floated into my mind. As clear as the spoken word I heard Him say: “I know his name, child, and he knows Mine.”
Now, Gary, that’s not a phrase that I had ever heard and I knew instantly that it was the still small voice of our ever-loving God. Powerful words swaddled in that unsurpassed comfort and peace that can only come from Him. I just knew and it’s all I needed.
I was so excited and relieved that when got to your memorial service, the first person I hunted down was Patty; and when we hugged, I excitedly whispered the good news. She, too, began to grin from ear to ear.
“Brenda,” she told me. “I prayed all night and all the way up here, begging God to show either you or me that Gary was with Him.”
Sigh. What a beautiful gift. I can’t tell you how much easier it made it to say goodbye. You know it rained during your service that day and I can just remember thinking that it was apropos. In fact, I think it was Heaven’s way of helping us mourn our loss while celebrating its gain.
Now, what about dad?
Though I have spent the last several years hoping and feeling like he is probably with you in our eternal home in Heaven, I have never received such certain reassurance as I did with you. Until this week. Enter another cousin. This one, Debbie, one of Uncle Don’s daughters. She had read a recent post about how hard it was to hear that daddy’s salvation was also unknown to those who loved him most. It spurred a memory that she shared, probably a nudge from God, if I had to guess.
As you know, Uncle Don also left this earth way too early. He died in a car accident when he was in his early 30s, leaving behind a beautiful bride and two beautiful young daughters. Daddy always made sure to stay connected to them and our families were quite close, I am told.
What I didn’t know was that Aunt Vera Lee, Uncle Don’s widow, had spent some time in the hospital visiting daddy during his last days. Debbie relayed a sweet story that her mom had shared before she passed about how they sang a hymn together and that daddy had been the one to start the singing. She also relayed how she had felt the presence of Uncle Don in the room with them, so heavy, in fact, that she said she actually spoke his name out loud.
“Brenda, Mama said that she was convinced that she felt Daddy Don’s presence so strongly because he had come to show Uncle Billy the way,” my dear cousin wrote in a note this week. “And we all know the devil doesn’t send someone to comfort and guide you on your journey home.”
Sigh. Another beautiful gift. We will see you both again! And Uncle Don, who I never knew. And Grandma. And Granddaddy. And our beautiful aunts, Aunt Hazel and Aunt Vera Lee. You are all there waiting for the rest of us and celebrating every moment with our Awesome and Beautiful Creator. I can only imagine, but boy oh boy do I enjoy imagining that day!
But, until then, I still miss you. And, yes, there are still tears, but they are no longer all sorrowful. They are also intermingled with tears of joy knowing you are enjoying everlasting life and that one day we will meet again.
Until then, to you and all of our loved ones previously departed, much love from earth to heaven.
Amen and Ehmen.
Our broken hearts reach out to You. Our deflated spirits struggle to find You. Oh, how I want to stand in the face of evil times and to be the reflection of hope that You promise, but sometimes I, too, am overwhelmed by disappointments in my own life and in the lives of those around me–my friends, my family, my neighbors. I get disillusioned by the evil that lurks just beyond our walls; the darkness that all too often breaks into our most secure places. Although, Lord, it seems that evil has no boundaries, I know in my heart that it does–and that boundary is You! Hold us tight, Father. Protect us from evil, for Your name’s sake. Comfort those that are hurting and help me, Lord, in my time of need and waiting. Help me to remain thankful; to learn in the waiting, and to reflect You in all that I do. I trust in You and give my present and future to You. Mold me. Melt my heart and reshape it so its desires are your desires. My hope is in You. I love You, Abba. Amen and Ehmen.
Happy Fall, Y’all.
I know it’s been awhile since I have blogged on Amen and Ehmen. My job changed in July and has dominated my time and energy ever since. During this time I have been on an emotional roller coaster, going from majorly disappointed and hurt by many of the changes to just plain tired, both emotionally and physically.
And, if I’m completely honest, I have also been spiritually fatigued during much of this time as well. Truthfully, of everything that I have been through—80-plus hour work weeks and numerous disheartening career developments—the spiritual exhaustion has outweighed it all.
Please know that I don’t intend this missive to be a cry for pity or even an excuse, but rather an explanation and an apology for my recent silence.
First and foremost, I must apologize to you because I want Amen and Ehmen to be a real reflection of my life with God; not a sugar-coated, air-brushed version that may give new Christians or those exploring Christianity unrealistic expectations. The facts are this: Being a Christian does NOT mean that you will no longer have problems, hurts and disappointments; it just means that you are never without hope and that God is always and in all ways working for the good of those who love Him. People like you and me.
I also owe an abundance of apologies to my all-loving, almighty Creator. During the many difficult days that followed the untimely death of my dear brother last September, health concerns for myself and other family members as well as the career crisis that continues to plague me, I have allowed my spiritual life to intermittently lay dormant.
If I’m truthful with myself and with you, I guess I have been internally blaming God for this dark and foreboding time in my life. In actuality, however, it has not been God that has been silent in my life. Quite the contrary as He has remained busy, continually weaving miracles and beauty into even the most brooding of moments. Still, all too often and way more than I like to admit—including this very weekend as rumors of yet more disappointing events swirl around me—I’ve allowed myself to focus on the disappointments instead of the hope that God continues to bring.
And, therein, lies the lesson that I know in my heart He wants me to learn. It’s a lesson with which I have always seemed to struggle—having complete, unyielding, unwavering and unconditional faith in Him. It’s hard, but it is possible. And, I know it is necessary if I ever expect to fully live the life that He has planned for me; to accomplish everything that He has put me here to accomplish.
And, so today, I pray for help in growing an unconditional and unyielding faith in Him and His plan for my life. I pray to always remember the many beautiful moments and miracles He has shared with me as He continually proves His loving intentions for me. I pray that I will commit even more time to tune into Him; to study His Word and connect with Him every single day. I ask you, Dear Lord, to turn every moment of worry, self-pity and disappointment into a growing desire to praise You for all the many blessings that You continue to pour out for me.
Yes, it has been a tough year, but it’s also been a blessed year which I know that I know is being used to further shape and make me into the person that God desires me to be. I pray today that I allow that refining to happen in His time and in His way. And, Lord, I also ask that you hear my prayer for everyone whose eyes are reading these words at this very moment. You know their needs and You love them so completely and powerfully, just as You also love me. Let us all feel that love right now. It is in Jesus’ mighty and beautiful name that I pray. Amen and Ehmen.
God must have a special affection for birds. Beautiful creatures, they are. Created in all colors of the rainbow and with songs more beautiful than anything ever created by man.
But I think the real proof of His affinity for our feathered friends is their ability to fly. High above the earth they soar, a source of wonderment to those of us below. God’s breath taking them higher and higher as they break through the clouds and out of sight.
It is at this time, I can’t help but imagine that that tiny little bird, dressed to the nines and with a voice fit for King, ascends through Heaven’s gates and onto a perch on our Father’s throne.
As he sings his praises, God breaths in all its beauty and joy and exhales gently upon the bird, sending him back to us on earth. It is then that that tiny little bird, dressed to the nines and with a voice fit for a King, spends the rest of his days singing God’s praises and telling all that will listen of God’s great love and enduring promises. Amen and Ehmen.
Me: “But, God, what do I tell those who are struggling with sin in their lives? I mean how can I possibly help them when I am a sinner, too.”
God: “You make things much too complicated. What do you tell them? Tell them that I love them. Tell them that I am here for them. That’s all. And then let Me do the rest.”
Note: I have been reading through my God-Time Journals and seem to be getting just as much from them now as when they were written five months ago. I hope you glean something from them as well and that perhaps this will motivate us both to spend a little extra time with our Father in the coming days.
April 7, 2015 6:15 am – 7 am
Good morning, God.
I’m trying to start my day off on the right foot with time with you, but, truthfully, I am tired and feel a little unsettled. I feel like I have so much to do and am having the tendency to try and rush through our time; just to say I did it; to get a checkmark. That is so not cool and I am so sorry. This isn’t about a checkmark and I’d be better off getting up and doing something else than just going through the motions. Help me, Lord. Bring me back to you. Help me to spend the next 30 minutes with you and you alone. I LOVE spending time with you. You give me such sweet, sweet love and teach me such wonderful things. What are we going to learn today, Jesus? I am listening.
Ephesians 6: Regarding God’s Armor and Paul’s request for prayer that he continue to boldly preach and spread the good news to gentiles and Jews alike although he was in prison; for God to use him right where he was.
Lord, you know I’m ready to be in fulltime ministry, but I know that there is a reason I’m still here, in chains. Help me to accept my place and use me right where I am. Continue to train me and teach me, my dear sweet Lord and make every breath one that counts for Your Kingdom. Use me Lord, Amen and Ehmen!
Dear Child of Mine,
Good morning. I am proud of you, that you stick to our time together, though you are distracted. This distraction is a battle plan of the enemy, which is why I brought you to Ephesians 6 today. Child, always, always clothe yourself in my full armor, for the devil and his demons are very real. You may not see them with your naked eye, but they are just as real as I Am. But, they are nowhere near as powerful. I have and will always have the edge and, through Me, so do you. Don’t ever forget that. There is absolutely nothing that satan can throw at you that you and I cannot handle together; together being the operative word here. Alone, you are left defenseless, like a tiny lamb among wolves. But, with Me, you will always be surrounded by a hedge of protection. I want you to be like my son, Paul. I know it is hard, when you are ready to move to the next level of ministry, but you must continue to meet me here and throughout your day in prayer, so that I can properly train you. You are going to be a mighty warrior, but warriors must have training before they go into battle. Child, the closer you walk with Me; the closer you get to fulfilling your purpose which, in turn, will win more and more souls for My Kingdom, the more satan and his army of demons will pursue and push you. It is important that you spend this time in training with me so that you can withstand their attacks. I sense you getting anxious; fear not, Child. For when you walk with Me; when you step out on the battlefield in My armor; thine enemies will retreat; they will back away. They know that they can’t win even the smallest battle against Me! Keep Me with you always! They lie in wait, hoping to catch you with your guard down, but, never fear, I am with you always. I love you, child. You come to Me as a defenseless child and become a great warrior with Me by your side. Let’s go win some battles, child. It’s going to be a great and victorious day!
Writer’s Note: Tonight, as I prepare myself for an early morning doctor’s appointment in search of answers for an ongoing health enigma, I happened to re-read this entry from my “Dear God” Journal from this past April. Though very personal, I share it now because, quite frankly, I am feeling led to. And, if there is even the slightest chance someone else might find benefit, it’s totally worth it. I know it helped me again tonight. The Father teaches me so much and He so kindly re-teaches me as many times as it takes. I love Him and am so glad He is mine. I hope He is yours, too. Lord, help me to get up earlier so I can have more and more Me and Thee time with you; more conversations and teaching moments like this. And, Lord, be with me and this new team of physicians in the morning. I trust in You and praise You for taking such good care of me. In Jesus name I pray, Amen and Ehmen.
Lord, I’m here. Still struggling with getting here to the blank page in the mornings. I’m not sleeping well; waking up multiple times in the night and, when I finally realize I can’t hit the snooze anymore, waking with a headache. I’m not sure my cpap machine is working properly or perhaps it is something else entirely. I pray, Lord, that you help the doctors find the problem once and for all…help me to find it….and fix it. I want my entire focus to be on you. I truly, truly do. And, as I wrote yesterday, I want to learn to listen more than I speak, for you know my heart. Teach me, my dear, dear Lord. And know that I love you more than life itself. You are my creator, my protector and my friend. You are my love, my present and my future. I want to be your humble servant who makes you proud. Speak to me, oh Lord. Amen and Ehmen!
I wish that you fully understood the depth and breadth of My love for you. I care about everything that concerns you, even the smallest stub of the toe. If I don’t heal you in the way that you wish, perhaps there is something yet to learn; or someone yet to relate to. Faith in Me when all is well is difficult to maintain, even for the ones that are closest to me. It is human nature to forget me oftentimes when there is no rain and that can be a very dangerous place to live. Therefore, instead of concentrating on having a perfect life, which will not happen until My Kingdom comes, I want you realize that I care about your suffering and I Am here at all times to help you through it. When the Israelites cried out from the bonds of Egyptian slavery, was I not there? My Word says that I “was concerned.” And My Word is truth. Study the story of Moses and Pharaoh today as there is more that I want to enlighten you to. And remember, you, too, are my people, and I will say to whomever enslaves you today or tomorrow, “let my people go.” And it shall be. I love you, child. Go, go about your day, filled with joy. Shake off the depression and funk you have been in the last couple of days. Focus on me, suit up in my armor, and KNOW that I AM in control of all things that concern my beautiful daughter.
Writer’s Note: As I was browsing my Facebook “memories,” I came upon this one from three years ago. It is a FB post along with subsequent comments as the experience progressed. Thank God for these reminders. I just love how God works. Let him into your life and world and get ready for an exciting journey. This is just a tiny example of undeniable ways that He has made His presence and my purpose known in my life. And I would not trade it for the world. In fact, I want more! I want everything He has to give me! Amen and Ehmen!
Posted on Facebook the early morning of September 21, 2012:
So, my computer shut down unexpectedly and when I restarted it, this unsaved document reappeared. It was something I wrote for my personal God Time journal on Sept. 13. I had completely forgotten about it. The notes at the beginning said “You are about to go through some stuff, but I’m right here.” No big surprise that, if you have been following my posts, “stuff” has indeed been invading my world these last two weeks. Thank God, God knows I have a terrible memory and He brings his message right back to me. Oh, how I love Him:
9/13/2012 6:55 PM Journal Entry:
Tonight as I stepped outdoors to go for our evening stroll together, I took pause when I saw a darkening sky. I debated for a moment whether or not I should go and then decided to go back inside, grab an umbrella and get to stepping. I don’t like to miss time with You.
And, as usual you didn’t disappoint. As I walked along, I felt Your Presence urging me to look up. And there, Your sky became a theatre and the story You told, just like You, will stick with me through thick and thin.
“My child, thank you for trusting me enough to come on this walk,” I heard you say. “And, because of your obedience, I have something to share with you.”
“Look up, child. Though there are dark, ominous clouds rolling in, there are also white, puffy clouds with silver and gold highlights perched ever so gently in the blue heavens. Those white clouds, blue skies and beams of sunshine represent Me. And, even though, storms may roll in, I Am always here. Just on the other side of that dark cloud and whatever it may bring, I, your Father, your Creator, exists, working even in the storm to bring about good. Don’t forget, my child, that this is My story. I Am the Author and the Producer and I control the outcome. And, this Good Guy, won’t ever be finishing last. Just breathe through the storm and know that all dark clouds will eventually pass and you will see Me in all My Glory, smiling and proud of your obedience and faith. Here, child, take a bow with Me.
- September 21, 2012 at 8:32 am: Things started happening that evening and, if you look at my posts, you’ll see no posts from me 9/13 and beginning on 9/14, posts are about stressful events. It actually started the evening of 9/13, which is why I didn’t post this to begin with. Look how quickly I forgot. He gave me a message to prepare me and I just let it sail right out of my head and heart when trouble started. BUT, he brought it right back to me. God is so faithful; even when I’m silly stubborn. Now, off I go to the auto repair shop to see what is up with my AC. Whatever it is, it’s just a thang. Thank God, that I even have a car.
- September 21, 2012 at 11:35am: My goodness, now I understand why God gave me this reminder this morning. :( Breathing through the storm just as He suggested.
- September 21, 2012 at 8:16pm: Still blown away that of all the documents (probably 50 or more) I have worked on over the past two weeks, how THIS ONE unsaved, unnamed document (Document 17) is the only document to grace my screen after my computer unexpectedly shut down. By the way, my computer has been shut down and everything closed at least a dozen times since last week as well. Can I just say wow, again? I am just so glad God is so faithful and patient with stubborn folks like me.