Monday, March 31, 2014

Nehemiah Places

 As I drive the roads of Vermont on my weekly errands, I pass miles and miles of lovely farmland and pastoral settings. I often feel a tinge of guilt as I hurry along in my car, knowing that many folks come from out of state to relax and pause at the breathtaking views. But this day I'm all about getting to where I need to go, the appointment that must be met. Suddenly, a structure sitting in the fields, grabs at my heart, as it always does when I see it. It's the complete solid wall framing of a partially built two story home. No roof, doors, windows or siding are installed. Just the complete walled structure, now graying as exposed wood does around here, and weeds become the field, and it's obvious no driveway or lawn will be installed either. I'm struck by the fact that someone had once had blueprints for this house and a vision in their mind as to how they would complete it. Something happened and construction was halted and no one came back. I often wonder, was it a death in the family, sudden loss of finances, or more common than that, the death of a marriage or relationship?

I'm certain that many of us have this type graying structure of an unfulfilled dream in our hearts. Long abandoned and now left to the passage of time. We are incomplete hurting people who function sometimes at half strength at best. Sometimes the pain becomes bitterness and awful unpleasant weeds are sheltered in these standing monuments in our hearts of past hurt and unforgiveness.

It's been years now, and I'm fairly certain we will never see that graying structure in the pasture be brought to life. No one seems to want to come back and finish it. It's also likely beyond repair. To rebuild at this point, probably involves a match first.

How about us? How do we know if the empty long abandoned monuments in our hearts can be rebuilt or do they need a match? In the Bible, the book of Nehemiah tells a story of Nehemiah who was commissioned by God to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It was long forgotten and in disrepair. Jerusalem was not fully protected from it's enemies if the walls remained as they were. The first thing Nehemiah did was to weep for the sad state of things. Then he prayed and fasted and cried out to God to help him build the walls and restore Jerusalem. Then he set about doing his job, not listening to the naysayers, till his job was complete.

Sometimes our hearts are like that. We will not look at the abandoned structures in our hearts. Too painful, too discouraging, too long abandoned, etc. I want to encourage you to go to those places as you hold God's hand, seek His heart, letting Him speak to you and comfort you in those painful places. See it as God sees it, weep over the loss, tell God your pain specifically, forgive those you need to forgive, ask forgiveness from God and man where you need to, keep close to God and ask Him to continue to heal those places that hurt, and thank God for the journey. As you come through this with Him, you will see beauty for ashes, I promise you. Then ask yourself, is there any way possible to rebuild this structure, or wall? Perhaps there is no way now. The people involved are long gone, the marriage/relationship is long gone. Then may I suggest you have an emotional Viking funeral? Set a fire to that structure that is no longer in your realm to rebuild. Don't give a shelter to those weeds of regret, hurt, lost hope, or bitterness. As it burns a sweet sacrifice to God that you trust Him to teach you what you need to learn, keep the special good memories, and trust that God works all things to His glory, even the very hardest part. Somethings we only can see on the other side of heaven. Give the questions unanswered to God. The sweet savor of a sacrifice to God. Dance in front of the fire. God will give you beauty out of those ashes. A hard place to get to you say? I know. I've been there but God will make a path to get there if you ask Him with your whole heart.

I was struck by the compassion and reality check Nehemiah had as he contemplated the state of Jerusalem's walls. He knew they must be built. The Spirit of God spoke to his heart. He knew he had to move on it. What about our hearts? What about the structures in our hearts that need rebuilding, rather that a sacrificial fire? Marriages and relationships all over our country are in disrepair. We doubt they can be repaired but we're not asking God the questions. We're not willing to see it through God's eyes. We're not willing to weep  over the situation and ask forgiveness.

I want to encourage you, to let the Spirit of God speak to your heart where you can actually start to repair relationships where you know you need to. Weep over the state of your marriage if you need to. Be willing to ask God to help you repair as far as you are able. Seek His wisdom in the small places of the everyday of your life. The weeds of unforgiveness and bitterness must be plucked out. Small acts of kindness towards that person, seeking forgiveness when you need to, etc. Find the paths to the door of that structure that needs repair. No viking funerals here, just a contrite heart to God to restore life. Generations are affected. You need to do this. You know it. Then forget the naysayers, that don't want you in the hard places of rebuilding. Let them party, you keep building.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

This Stage Called Life

Dad and Mom Varnadore
This is the five year anniversary of my Mom's death. She lived with us for the last 8 years or so of her life. I've never been comfortable with death, I must admit. I know God comforts us, and draws us all to Himself, so we can choose to live with Him in the afterlife. It's our choice. God doesn't force Himself on us. I know my Mom is with God. I have that comfort but I still don't like death. It's an uncomfortable companion and it was doubly so because she lived with us in this home. We've lived here many years now. A big part of my family will understand when I refer to a movie, here. But the movie Jumangi has a compelling scene where it shows the house being lived in by various people in a kind of time lapse photography. That's how it feels here lately, as if we are living out our lives on a grand stage.

Over the years, when something happens, like a new deck!, or George's birthday gathering when he turned 60, I think how much Mom would have loved seeing that happen here. We didn't always get along because of various reasons, some not my fault, but she was always my huge cheerleader. She enjoyed helping me choose window box flowers or seeing the boys reach some milestone in their lives. My youngest child of 6, Jake, is leaving for Basic Training in the Army in a few weeks. Assuming all goes well for him, his room will become my sewing/ guest room. This is the same room that used to be my Mom's when she lived here. Before that, it used to be my older daughter Sara's room. 

Life is a stage and we all have our part. Our presence on the is earth will be felt long after we die and hopefully have chosen to be with God. I so wish I could redo some scenes, but I can't. None of us can. All we can do is do our best and pray that those after us will remember only the best parts of our efforts. I guess that's why I love this stage so much. I will miss having to leave and I miss those that have left already. So no, I'm not comfortable with death. But death be not proud...your days are numbered and our lives are eternal. We can thank God for that.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Warm Weather

The weather outside is frightful and we no have water coming into the house, due to a faulty switch, I am guessing. The well man will confirm or deny that tomorrow. The only thing is, the weather inside our domain is "warm". We have a loving family of four, an extended family of a zillion :-D and many loving friends. Our youngest "baby" has enlisted in the Army and is getting coaching info from our oldest child, Eric, also in the Army. We have no water in the house but we have good expectation of getting someone here tomorrow to fix the issue. A great brother in law called to coach my hubby through the prelim testing of the water issue, so I know what to tell the well man tomorrow. Our older children are thriving in their married lives. Jake, our youngest is so excited about his very soon to be, Army training in Nodal Network Maintenance Specialist job We're so thrilled for him! Dave is working hard at his Quality Assurance job at Ellison Technologies.He is dating a lovely (it's the only word that always comes to mind about her) girl who challenges him to grow in his interests and reading material. My hubby is gainfully employed in an era of folks unemployed. So even though the world around me is cold, I am thankful to God for the warmth and warm "weather" in my life right now!!