Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Domino Effect.

Image result for the domino effect

My world was altered a bit yesterday around 3pm.  I had noticed that I had missed a few calls on my cell phone.  And 30 minutes later my husband called my office phone.  Instantly, when I saw his number pop up on caller I.D., I knew something was wrong. He never calls me at the office.  I answered the phone and the tone in his voice just confirmed my suspicions.  Something was wrong.  He said he heard, what he had hoped to be, a horrible rumor.  And I knew, because of the multiple missed calls, that the rumor was true.  My heart sank and I felt a little bit of denial.  I spent a moment gathering my thoughts.  And began to pray that God would give me wisdom.

I called my daughter, Kath, in California.  She was the one who had been calling me earlier.  And she confirmed the news.  Devin, her ex-boyfriend had died the night before.  My heart felt like someone had used it as a punching bag.  You see, even though Kath and Devin had broken up years ago, Devin was still like a son to me.  And he and Kath were still close.

I left work and headed towards home.  I knew I had to talk to Christian.  Devin was a brother to my son.  And I knew that he was going to be heartbroken, angry and confused.  A while back Christian had written a song about Devin.  And he talked about Devin's struggles.  As Christian and I talked he reminded me of that very song.  He said he was reflecting on how the song ended.  And how ironic it was that Devin's life ended the same way he predicted in the lyrics.

I then called Alyssa.  And by the time I reached her she told me she found out from social media that Devin had passed away.  She was crushed and heavy-hearted.  And told me that she was confused.  She and Devin were making plans to hang out together.  Not only did she consider him her brother but they were now neighbors.

I made a few additional calls.  There were people I didn't want to find out about Devin through "Social media".  And I sent out multiple text messages.  This was and is so surreal.

As I sit here this morning, reflecting on the memories I have of Devin, my heart continues to feel bruised.  He came into our family not knowing the love of Jesus Christ. I remember thinking that he was just some punk kid my teen-aged daughter was mildly interested in.  And that he would just be another "boyfriend" and in a few days, a thing of the past.  But the days turned to months.  And the months turned to years.  And during those days, months and years I began to love this boy as my own.  I wanted him to know the love of God in the same way I knew of His love. I wanted to push him in the right direction.  So I prayed and set the "dominoes" in place.  I sought out every opportunity to show him unconditional love.  And asked him to come to church with us.  I remember giving him his first bible.  And I had great joy in my heart when I would catch him reading it.  And then the dominoes began to fall.  Devin began seeking for truth. He was coming to church and asking questions.  I would talk to him about pastors that I thought he would relate to.  There was one in particular, Greg Laurie.  I remember handing him a book written by Greg and asking him to read it.  And a few days later I found him actually reading it without me nagging him about it.

Over the years Devin and I had multiple discussions on God's grace.  I knew Devin was battling demons. But, I also knew that he was now aware of God's love for him.  We talked off and on over the past few years.  And sometimes prayed together. It gave me great joy to know that he had found a church in Manayunk that he loved.  He was forever grafted into our crazy family.  Despite Kath breaking up with him he would remain in our lives. Kath never stopped loving Devin and he never stopped loving her.  She just couldn't help him rid his life of those demons.

Our lives were blessed because God led Devin to our door.  Yes, I wanted to point him in another direction at first.  I am so thankful that I didn't.  You see he had a domino effect on our lives too.  Alyssa and Christian learned to never be afraid of who God made them to be because of Devin.  He taught us all that being goofy was necessary.  He taught Kath about life and how to laugh at craziness.  And because of him she is a very strong and courageous woman.  And, as for me, he made my heart bigger.

I am going to miss his text messages and his calls. However, I know this one great truth.  God is faithful.  And His promises are true.  We will see Devin again.  And when we do he will be whole.  We were absolutely blessed to have known Devin.  And I know that God purposefully put Devin into our lives.  Each one of us helped in directing Devin to God's unconditional love.  Devin may have needed strength to trust in God a little more.  But at least he trusted that God did truly love him.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor power, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord ~Romans 8:38-39

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.  For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, ,who are left until the coming of the Lord. will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  After that we who and still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we will be with the Lord forever.  Therefore encourage one another with these words. ~1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Saturday, April 11, 2015

I've Got No Strings on Me

We have all heard the saying, "It's time to cut the umbilical chord" It often pertains to that time in our children's lives when we need to set them free.  Release them into the jungle of this world and let them fight for themselves.  As difficult as that may sound it's a hard fact.  I know that it certainly isn't easy.  It's actually been quite painful at times.  The hurts and frustrations and sometimes the decisions that our adult children face can cause great heartache. When they do things that are outside of their "character" I, as a parent, have found myself saying, on more than one occasion, "that is not how I raised them".  I wonder how often God thinks, "That's not how I created them".

According to Genesis 1:27 we were all created in God's image.  Yes, God formed us in His perfect image!  He was incredibly thoughtful in the process.  Even before we were formed He had an intimate relationship with each of us. (Jeremiah 1:5) He formed us and wove us together in our mother's womb (Psalm 139: 13).  Even the very hairs on our head are counted ( Luke 12:7) God had to cut the umbilical chord for us too.  In this case we call it God giving us free will.

We have been given the freedom to make our own choices in this life. God is not a puppeteer.   And the last time I checked it was clear that "I've got no strings on me".   He allows us to take the paths we want.  I have walked in pure darkness and I have also taken a bit of my journey feeling very lost and confused.  I am thankful for one of the unlimited promises God has given us.  He promises that He will faithfully provide a way out of the muck and the mire (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Funny how we tend to forget that He, the God of our children, has allowed us to be a parent to each of them.  Just because we give birth or inherited them doesn't mean we are the ones holding the strings.  They are on loan.  Precious gifts that were given to us parents to prepare for this world. We carry them, raise them, praise them, guide them and pray for them daily throughout the years.  But when it comes time to release them into the world, on their own, that seems to be the most challenging.  Often I see my children walking in darkness or heading down a path the I wouldn't choose for them to go.  And I want to lift the paddles with the strings attached to their legs and move them into a different direction. I try to persuade them to go a another way.  My way!  But the strings have been cut.  And I am left sitting in a tangled ball of string due to my failed attempt to manipulate their adult decisions.

As I sit there attempting to unravel the mess I see in my hands I begin to pray for clarity.  God has a bigger plan.  And He already sees the beauty in each of my heirs.  He knows the outcome.  Just like me, my children need to experience things on their own.  Some of them willingly listen to my advice.  And some of them "listen" but do their own thing. Many times they go through the fire and come out refined. Sometimes their "thing" backfires and they come running for advice.  My heart leaps for joy when they ask for my opinion.  It is then that I realize that I had to take my own path in my life.  It was necessary for me to exercise my free will to do the not so wise things only to be better prepared to help guide my children through their moments. And that is when I am remind God's faithfulness.

Life is a process.  And each one of us ultimately gets to our "home".  Some choose to stay within the parameters of how they were "raised".  While others go a completely different direction.  I would love to see my children every Sunday sitting at church right beside me.  I would be thrilled to know that they were getting "fed" the right stuff.  But they are string-less now. I know that by the grace of God's they will hear His words that have been written on their hearts.  And one day each one of them will find their way.  I continue to pray for them daily.  And often find myself praying for them multiple times throughout each day.  I can smile because I am blessed by five wonderful, independent, free willed, adult children who are learning daily.