Monday, February 23, 2015

Ringing in My Ears

I’ve had tinnitus for as long as I can remember. At a young age and without realizing it, I learned to listen past the constant whine in my ears to hear everything else—music, laughter, a friend’s voice, the TV, my mother!!  With one older and one younger brother around—one of them being borderline hyperactive—the only quiet time to be had in our home was late at night. And with nothing else to listen to the ringing in my ears seemed louder. I remember thinking the noise I heard was crickets and other insects outside my window. It was only later in life that I learned what it was. Throughout my teenage and adult life, I grew accustomed to having some kind of white noise around me like a radio or TV to drown out the constant ringing because in a quiet space, the noise could drive me crazy!

I mention this because I’ve been experimenting with trying to reduce the noise in my life and I’m finding that the ringing is just as loud, clear and constant as ever. When I’m busy concentrating on my work or watching TV, I can barely hear the high pitch squeal that is always there. That got me to thinking about how the white noise is a lot like worldly desires. The more I pay attention to them, the more I am drawn to them, and the more I drown out the constant clear voice of God. But when I turn away from the world’s white noise of success, money, new toys, “busy”ness, etcetera, God’s constant voice becomes louder and clearer for me to hear. That is my goal over the next few weeks—to push away the noise of the world so that all that's left is the voice of the Lord ringing in my ears and my heart.

Monday, February 16, 2015

It's Not His Birthday Anymore

Last Wednesday would have been my son’s 29th birthday. I think I would have had a grand time teasing him about how close he was to being old (almost thirty) and celebrating in general his life if he had lived. It’s hard to predict what special days like birthdays and holidays will be like when it comes to my son as the same memories that make me laugh in nostalgia can make me weep in my grief so I just let the days approach and take them as they come—happy or sad, it all directly speaks of the great love that remains in my heart for my child.

This year brought a new sensation and a new understanding. I knew all day that it was his birthday. It’s not like I forgot or avoided the acknowledgement of it. I even stopped by his picture in my hallway and wished him a happy birthday. Every year since he was born, on Bryan’s birthday, I’ve experienced the distinct feeling of being older. I never get that feeling on my birthday, but on his, without fail, I feel older; But not this year. This year it was like any other day that blended in with all the other inconsequentially ordinary days of my life and yet with the conscious awareness that it was his birthday.

I was up rather late that evening and watched as the clock turned from 11:59 PM to 12:00 AM and the thought ran through my mind, “It’s not his birthday anymore.” Not in a melancholy way, but in more of a “just the facts ma’am” kind of way. Then it occurred to me that February 11th really isn’t his birthday anymore. It’s not the day that he celebrates as his birthday (if they do that kind of thing in heaven). Bryan was born into this life on February 11th and placed in my waiting arms to hold and to love with all my heart but it was on March 27th that he was born into his heavenly life and placed into the waiting arms of Jesus who loves Bryan more deeply and wholly than I can ever fathom. Now that gives me a whole new way to view the anniversary of his death. Yes, I will still stop in the hall on that day and tell him that I miss him, but I will also wish him the very happiest of birthdays too.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Apparently Common Sense Isnt

Every day I receive a “Scripture of the Day” which I will often read before I even get out of bed, but on occasion I won’t get to it until later in the morning. Such was the case this past Saturday. I was sitting in the living room with my best friend when I took a moment to read it: A glad heart makes a happy face; a broken heart crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13). Well of course a glad heart is going to make you smile and a sad heart weighs you down! Who doesn’t know that?! 

That’s when I turned to my friend and said that I wished I knew what I was missing because the book of Proverbs really just sounds like a bunch of common sense sayings—things everyone knows and it seems kind of ridiculous to say it out loud, let alone have them in a God-inspired, timeless, sacred book. She gave some of the arguments I’ve said myself in the past—maybe back then, it wasn’t “common” sense. After all, someone had to think these things up. Morals were different. Cultures were different. We’ve learned a lot over the centuries. And while any or all of this might be true, I was still not satisfied because if it is in God’s Word, then it cannot be irrelevant to me today. Therefore I must be missing something!!! But what?

When I get stuck in this kind of logic loop, I always turn to another trusted and knowledgeable friend who never fails to point out the flaw in my logic and gets me back to moving forward. When I told him what I was thinking, he said to me, “I refuse to believe that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” is irrelevant to your life. Of course, I had to agree, but still, how am I to hear what God wants to tell me in these “If you’re happy and you know it, your face will surely show it” kind of sayings? Then he said something that is absolutely common sense and yet had not occurred to me—he told me to read one chapter a day and ask God himself what he is saying to me? (If you want to know what someone is saying, you ask them, not someone else!)

So I read the first chapter last night as suggested and what God said to me is that while I may know these God inspired proverbs to true—the way I love, live and think doesn’t always reflect that truth…even though it is common sense. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Where My Hope Lies

I'm so sorry---I've struggling with writer's block. I felt bad because it is always a my desire to leave you with a little hope for the day. Where are you going to find your hope if I don't share some of mine with you. That's when a blog I posted some years ago came to mind and so that is my offering today. I hope you enjoy it.


When I was five, my parents arranged a surprise birthday party for me. I couldn’t have been happier as I walked into the house to hear a living room full of friends shouting “SURPRISE!” and cheering. I was having the time of my life. That was until we got to the games.

In one of the games, each girl was to pick and pull one of a bunch of long strings. Each string was tied to a gift hidden around the corner in another room. The excitement grew as each girl pulled her string and a wonderful prize appeared from around the corner. Then it happened. At the end of one of my friend’s strings was the doll that I told everyone I wanted for my birthday. How could she? That was supposed to be my doll and she stole it! I burst into tears. My mother tried her best to console me but nothing would make up for that girl walking around with the present that was supposed to be mine. Are you laughing at me yet? I am!

Then my mother pulled me aside and told me that the present that she and Daddy got for me was a bigger version of that doll with all of the clothes and accessories a five-year-old could want. At the news, my happiness returned and the party was a big success.

As I look back on this moment, I can’t help but feel that my childish greed cheated me out of a greater degree of joy in the celebration. The surprise of opening the gift of the bigger doll (a mere token of my parents love) was lost. Decades later, the joy of that moment in my life and the memory of it are still tainted by my selfishness.

I hope to always remember this when faced with a disappointing situation in life. Maybe I won’t get something I’m hoping for or perhaps I’m unable to accomplish something I really wanted to do or I lose something dear to me. I need to remember that, from my limited perspective, I can never see the whole picture – but God can. He knows what he has planned for me and how and when it is to unfold in my life. I need to trust that he knows my desires and what I need and that the plans he has for me are nothing less than the fulfillment of his great love for me.

When dealing with those unrealized desires, I must choose to not despair over that something of value lost. I must choose to let go of the wants and needs I didn’t get, and grab hold of the truth that I just don’t know what God knows. Even when a bigger payoff (a bigger doll with all the stuff) doesn’t come, I don’t have to be disappointed. If I remember that my hope is not in the things and accomplishments in my life, but in God – then how can I be disappointed? My hope is never wasted or lost or unfulfilled when it is placed in God.