No record

cross_jesus_woodTrue forgiveness starts from within.  It starts from within oneself and works its way out. If we wait for what we think the other side should or shouldn’t do that is not forgiveness.

We are to forgive others as He forgives us.

Christ’s blood poured out of His body before we were even born. Yet it is still powerful enough to continuously cover us for the sins of yesterday, today, and the days to come. Despite what we do, His blood keeps no record.

We must forgive, despite what we feel the other person is or is not doing. Why? Because Christ did and still does the same for us. We have no way of knowing what God is doing in someone else’s heart. We have no idea the layers one is fighting to tear down. Remember, we cannot control anyone else’s heart, only our own.

Satan wants us to see what is lacking in the other. When we focus on such, Satan wins. The best we can do is to try to keep the plank out of our own eyes and love others. True forgiveness and true love always go hand in hand.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5)

 No record.  

Drugs and a Well Traveled Baby Blanket

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I remember one summer as a kid I stayed a few weeks at her house.  We began sewing clothes for a little stuffed rabbit. I admired her wit and her creativity. She enjoyed writing at one time…just like me. My grandma and my mom always referred to her as being so very intelligent. There were a few times they said I reminded them of her when she was younger. There was a time when I liked hearing that. That was before drugs took her life.

You know, drugs take a person’s life long before they take their last breath. It can be a slow decay. Years later you don’t even recognize the person they once were. All you see are the lies, the anger, the stress it has caused those you love.

Drugs seeped into my life although I have never done drugs. Drugs seep into so many innocent lives and it just sucks! I’ve seen the trickle down effect it has on a family.  It infuriates me.  It infuriates me even more that I kept my mouth shut for so many years over it.

Maybe it seemed inevitable because those with mental illness seem to have a higher incidence of drug use. I cannot help but wonder where accountability falls into play. Then, that seems insensitive because mental illness is not a made up illness. Maybe the insensitivity behind mental illness is partly to blame. Which means I am partly to blame–most of us are partly to blame.

We don’t hesitate to feel for and want to help with those who have physical ailments. You have someone who is diagnosed with bipolar and it is different. We get mad at them when they once again have made a bad choice. It is hard not to be upset when someone else’s bad choices hurt those around them. I get it. Oh do I get it because I have lived it.

Up until this very moment I never realized how much drugs changed even my own life. 

Somewhere in time, I almost forgot I had an aunt. I would see her on Christmas and a few other times throughout the year. I guess there were a few times I actually saw the real her. One time was at my baby shower. I was opening up the present she got me. It was my baby blanket. She knew my mom would lose it (which is so true)…so she saved it all those years for me. I cannot help but think of the countless times she moved. Every time she carried along with her my baby blanket and I had no idea. I wonder if my blanket brought her any comfort. Was it some reminder to her of who she once was?

Mental illness and drugs are indeed a horrible combination. The insensitivity and ignorance toward them are as well though. I know it is hard to think of the person they once were. It is hard to think somewhere under all the gunk the person still remains. Maybe we are playing God when we feel the person is beyond hope; when we forget the person is still in there struggling beyond what we can ever imagine.

Oh, how Satan want us to forget that person…

And I did. I forgot she still existed. I forgot the person who still remained deserved grace, forgiveness, and love. Just like we all deserve those things. I pray the last moments of her life she called out to God. Oh I pray…

Planting the Forgiveness Seed

I had to speak with my five year old about forgiveness.  He is upset with two of his friends or now former friends in his class.  Both reasons why he is upset with them would produce hurt feelings in anyone. I know though, I would have no one in my life if I didn’t learn to forgive.  I want to teach my children early on no one is perfect and people hurt each other sometimes.

My Luke is a black and white thinker, so when I speak to him it works best if I am gentle, of course, but blunt.  He is a get to the point and move on kind of person.  Our conversation went like this:

Me:  Luke, I really want you to think about forgiving A & B.  You don’t have to be friends with anyone you don’t want to be but you should try to forgive them.

Luke:  I don’t want to.  They made me mad.

Me:  I understand that, but haven’t I made you mad before?  You still love me.

Luke: (silent)

Me: I’m not perfect, am I?

Luke: Yes.

Me: No.  I am far from perfect and I know I have hurt your feelings before.  No one is perfect.

Luke: Jesus is perfect.  God is perfect.

Me: (very proud) Yes!  You are absolutely right.  We will never be perfect like Him, but we need to try to forgive people just as He forgives us for not being perfect.

Luke: I’ll think about it Mommy.

I know forgiveness is easier said than done but it has to start with trying.  From personal experience, I know how freeing it is to forgive others.  You cannot grow in life holding grudges.  Encouraging my children to forgive others will hopefully give them more peace when life and relationships really get complicated.

I planted the seed…it is now up to Luke.

That Cross

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It is bedtime. I am tired and ready for Oliver to be fast asleep already.  The problem is he had a nap. When he takes a nap he cannot fall asleep at night––easily that is.  My tired self has to put in the extra effort to get him to bed.  I read him books, I lay with him, and then I leave knowing he will get up again.

Minutes later he is on my lap in the family room.  I let him sit with me for a while but then try again before I fall asleep myself. I carry Oliver into his room and then turn the light off.  As I am putting him in his bed, he points to his window and says, “Look Mommy, there’s a cross.  When you turn the light off it makes a cross.”  Sure enough there it is.  The outline from his window frame shows through his curtain as a large perfect cross.

Oliver then says, “Mommy, Jesus got sick on that cross.”  He places his sweet little head on his pillow and rolls over to face his wall.

I sit on the edge of his bed staring at the ‘cross’ my two (almost 3) year old pointed out to me.  I don’t know how long I sit there in awe. I keep thinking, because of that crossthat cross means everything…that cross…until Oliver rolls over, looks at me and says, “You can go now, Mommy.”

I chuckle and leave his room but my thoughts of that cross linger.  That cross…what else is there to say?

The Ending

It was a warm October night, the kind of autumn night that is entrancing.  I sat on my porch steps waiting for my friend to pick me up.  I remember exactly how the warm breeze felt, the way the leaves twirled in the air, and the faint smell of distant burning leaves.  I could have sat there all night thinking of nothing at all and feeling a peace I did not feel very often at the age of seventeen.  If I would have known how the night would end, I would have stayed.  I would have never left my porch.

Breana arrived and I turned into my normal teenage self again. The place we were going was a dead end road (which is pretty ironic) with water on one side and fields on the other.  I was excited to be outside on such a beautiful night, so my mood was light and I had a good time.  In fact, we all had such a good time that we lost track of time.  As soon as we realized we were going to be late for curfew we said our goodbyes and drove off.

The details of this next part are very important.  The road was a very windy road, it was the kind of road you truly could not speed on, unless you were crazy.  We were two girls, so if she had tried to drive too fast, me being the mother hen that I was would have yelled at her to slow down…because the road was already scary enough.  Like I said, it was a windy road and it was dark because there were no streetlights.  The next important detail was this: I did not wear a seatbelt before that night…unless I was in the car with an adult who had to remind me to put it on.  So we were driving down the road without seat belts.  This where my memory gets a little foggy.  I struggle with the explanation of what it was…a whisper in my ear or a gut feeling?  I don’t know.  All I know is the whisper or feeling told me to put my seatbelt on.  So I did.  As soon as the seatbelt clicked, the car flipped…and flipped…and flipped…

Everything was in slow motion.  Breana and I turned our heads to look at each other, both of us raising our hands, not fully understanding what was happening.  I blanked out after that.  The next thing I remember is sitting in the car and looking over to the empty driver’s seat.  Where was Breana?  It took a moment to get my bearings before I remembered the accident.  I got out of the car and all I could see was darkness.  No road, no lights, and no Breana.  I found her laying on the ground.  I helped her up and I started running but realized I was running in the wrong direction, I must have been a little disoriented, but didn’t realize I was.  We ran toward the road and a car stopped to help.  They drove us back to our friends, and then our friends drove us to the hospital.

Breana fractured her back and I lucked out and just needed stitches on the top of my head.  The police investigated the site and told us they don’t know how we didn’t get more hurt.  They explained with the way the car flipped so many times, if I had not had my seatbelt on, I would have been thrown out and more than likely the car would have landed on me.

I have wanted to write about this for a while, but I have always hesitated…all because of the ending.  I almost wanted to make up the ending at times because I was ashamed, I guess.  I will start with telling you how it should have ended.  It should have ended with me thanking God for sparing mine and Breana’s life that night.  I should have learned a very valuable lesson that night.  I should have turned back to Him and never turned back away ever again.  But I didn’t.

Instead, I continued living for myself.  I was never a horrible person but I continued on with my selfish ways knowing better.  I always knew better.  I took a lot for granted in my younger years, especially when it came to God.  He never left me, though.  He was patient and loving when I probably didn’t deserve it.  He never gave up on me.

Sometimes when I look at the cross, I remember my old self.  I remember how I could have died.  I remember no matter how hardheaded I was or how selfish I remained, Jesus still died for me. All the things in my past have brought me to where I am today so I am fully okay with the ending now.  God knew all along where I would end up.