Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Trouble at Wal-Mart

Broken.  That's how my heart felt, sitting in the urgent care clinic with Little Bit, my baby girl with a swollen finger, possibly broken, too.

"What's wrong with your little one?" asked the receptionist.

"Minivan door.  It slid down on her finger."  Feeling dejected, I looked down at the clipboard and finished filling it out.

Picking up Little Bit, I returned the clipboard to the receptionist and sat to wait until our name was called.

She sat on my lap and held her hand up with fingers extended.  Her index finger on her right hand was twice as large as the one on the left.

It all had happened so fast.  We were at Wal-Mart, just Little Bit and me; on a little outing with her mommy.  I grabbed my purse and went to the other side of the van to get Little Bit out.  Sliding the the door open, I reached over to hit the automatic lock button.  There.  All locked up.

I took the baby out of her seat and pulled on the door to slide it shut.  As I turned to go, she reached her hand out and before I could stop it or pull her away, the door caught her finger.

I was ready for an avalanche of tears, but she didn't cry at all.

Maybe the finger wasn't stuck.  A little tug. Oh, yes it was.  Little Bit began to cry.

All the doors were locked.  The baby's finger was stuck and so was I.

My key-less entry button on my keys didn't work, and there was only one way to open the doors once locked--the driver's side door.  On the other side of the minivan.

My heart was racing, and I couldn't calm down. I breathed in through my nose for a count of seven and slowly exhaled out of my mouth.  I needed to be calm, to stay in control.  I had to think.  But, what could I do?  She was stuck.  There was nothing I could do.

Deep within me, came a cry, louder than I thought I possible, "Help, help!  My baby!  Please, somebody, help me!"

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a man running toward me.  He was a young man with skin the color of brown sugar.

I handed him my keys.  "Baby's finger is stuck...can't unlock the door on this side."

He sped to the other side of the van and shuffled with the keys until he found the right one.  I shook my head no.  My door was still locked.  He went into the van and manually unlocked it.

Free.  I held my baby close.  The young man handed me the keys as I breathed a prayer.  Then he ran off.  I didn't even get his name.

By now, Little Bit's finger was swelling and so was her crying.

Back into the van.  Forget Wal-Mart, we're going to the urgent care clinic.

On the way there, my adrenaline level was at an all-time high.  Little condemning thoughts kept on antagonizing me.  It's all your're a terrible mother...she'll be scarred for life...

Then I remembered who I am.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I parked the car at the clinic. 

Self-contempt doesn't have a chance with a heart resting in God's grace. 

The doctor asked if our car had a door sensor that stopped it when it detected something in the way. 

"No, no sensor." 

More condemning thoughts trickled in, but this time about others.  Car companies care more about money than people's safety...big business is just corrupt like's all about the Benjamins...

Aw, shouldn't go there either.  It would only steal my peace and who am I to judge? 

There is only One Righteous Judge (Isaiah 33:22), only He knows our thoughts and our hearts.

And, what about the guy who helped me unlock the door?  He probably wouldn't have been the first person I would have asked for help.  I prefer asking a person who is in uniform.  It feels safer.  But, the person I least expected was my hero.

And that's it.

I am in no place to judge people's hearts.

Only God knows.  Really.

We are all broken people with broken lives in need of lots of grace.

He is Sovereign over us.  Far above our inadequacies, our insecurities, our pettiness, our prejudices.

And, He loves us.  He didn't have to rescue any of us from the judgement and wrath of God against sin.

But, He did.  Praise God!  He did!  He did it on the cross where He took our sins, our shame, and gave us His grace and His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Hallelujah!  What a Savior!

The thing is, we'll always be a little bit broken.  We'll never be in a place where something in our lives doesn't need fixing.  And, though it seems like we're in control sometimes, we're really not.

If we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7) and keep going forward with this hope: 

It's not gonna always be like this. 

Then we will have peace.

One day Christ will return, and He will make all things new (Revelation 21).

Until then, we can wait and rest in His grace, releasing control to His holy Sovereign will and thanking Him for the little things like an unsung hero and soft bones that didn't break (her finger was okay).

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Paradise Found

Let me tell you a tale:

Once upon a time, in a far off land lived a princess. The land where she lived was a paradise, a place where there was no sickness, no pain, no death. But, she was deceived by the King's enemy and committed high treason. She even convinced the prince to do the same.

The King was no ordinary King and knew right away what they had done. Therefore, they were banished and forced to live in a foreign land that was not their home.

Out of mercy, before the the King sent them away, He promised Someone would come who would make things right and bring them home again.

Though the new land where they lived was cursed, they make their home there and built towns, cities, tribes, and nations.

Generations later, the children of the banished prince and princess forget where they came from and they forget the promise. And, the King's enemy continues to work behind the scenes, convincing the people that that this foreign land is their real home and there is no paradise and no King who will ever make things right again.

This may sound like a fairy tale, but its origin is based in the Holy Bible (Genesis 1-3).

Adam and Eve stone mural at Bok Tower Gardens

Every fairy tale is one of redemption and every good modern fairy tale (i.e., movies and fiction novels), if you look hard enough, you will find has a story of redemption embedded within it.

Even the true life stories that we love, the ones that stick with us, are the stories of redemption.

Why is that?

Why do are hearts thrill at these stories?

Is it because we were meant for Paradise?

That we are still living in a foreign land cursed with sickness, death, and disease and it's because of our first parent's sin and our own?

And, as descendants of Adam and Eve, we continue to try to carve out a living in this land that is not our own.

Many times we find this world is full of heartache, laden with thorns and thistles.

Our hearts ache for Home.

So, we try hard to get a little bit of Paradise here on earth.

Just look at the Internet.  There's a little bit of false paradise in every Google ad, gaming website, airbrushed celebrity pic, and Pinterest pin.

Yet, we can have a glimpse, a foretaste of our true Home right now.

We can turn our treasonous hearts back to our true King:

Jesus Christ, the Risen One, our Redeemer, the Savior of the world.

It is possible to have a living, active, redemptive relationship with Christ who will open your spiritual eyes to life infusing fruit (Galatians 5:22,23) and hidden treasures (Philippians 4:19).

All it takes is a desire to be right with Him (Ephesians 2: 8,9) and to follow where He leads (1 John 1:7).

There is joy in the journey and hope in His promise. 

He has come to make things right in our hearts, and He will come again to make the world right.

This is still not our home, but one day, it will be...

But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.   The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?   Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (1 Peter 3:10-13)


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Impossible

Photo Credit: 2004 Tsunami, David Rydevik (email: david.rydevik at gmail dot com), Stockholm, Sweden.

I'd been putting off watching the movie, The Impossible (you can see the trailer here).

Not sure why.

Maybe because it's a true story about a family who gets swept away by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.  I knew it was going to be pretty intense, and you kind of have to be in a particular mood to watch a movie like that.

When the tsunami disaster happened, I was going through a lot of grief already (you can read about it here) and couldn't bear to watch the news and look at all the devastation and lost lives.

Seeing the trailer for The Impossible must have triggered some more unresolved grief that I wasn't ready to revisit, but at the same time, it looked like a really good movie with superb actors such as Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in the cast.

I tried to resist watching it, but I couldn't.  I knew I needed to face my fears.

After about two weeks of sitting on my shelf (it's from Netflix), the Captain and I finally popped it in the DVD player and plopped down on the couch.

I scarfed down a snack, because I knew once the movie started, I wouldn't be able to eat a thing.

And I was right.

It was a riveting, on the edge of your seat story, and knowing it was true made it all the more intense.

No need for a spoiler alert here, I'm not going to tell you what happens to the family, if anyone survives or not, but I will tell you that you will be moved.

It's about a family.  A family who loved each other deeply.  And, in the midst of the chaos of a devastating natural disaster, a mother struggled to reach out in love when all a person wants to do is survive.

It's hard to fight against that survival instinct, isn't it?

Especially when you're in pain; it's hard to reach out with an open hand and an open heart.  And, when it's all finally over, you just want to forget it and move on.

Helping others might open old wounds.  It might hurt.

But, isn't that what we're asked to do?

To suffer for the name of Christ?

To love the least of these?

To bless others with the blessings we've received?

I don't know what things you've survived, but I know I've survived quite a few already.

And, it's a struggle to die to yourself to love, but at the same time, it's the only way to truly live.

So, I'm that's why I blog for Grace Grows Wings.

To help other moms who have had a baby who lived for only a short time,

Luke Joseph Griese, December 5, 2003, born with Potter's Syndrome

To encourage a couple in a struggling marriage, and

2008, The year the Lord saved and renewed our marriage (only 25% of marriages who lose a child survive)

To inspire those who may not know that God is real that He's in control, and that He's there for us.

Believe me, it's not been easy.

Writing about my stories has sometimes hurt,

it's opened old wounds,

But, it's also helped me heal some, too.

And, it's reminded me over and over again who I am in Christ.

It's helped solidify my faith.  Thanks be to God for His all sufficient grace.

"And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Update: There is now a cure for Potter's Syndrome and the first child to receive the new medical intervention was born a few weeks ago.  You can read about it here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

In Christ...

To wrap up the #femaleaugustchallenge prompted by my Google+ friends, +MelanieBaker and +RaeBrooks, beginning with the first post in August,  

Here are all of the True Identity Reminders for who we are in Christ, one for each day of the month:

In Christ...

1.    I have a Father in heaven who loves me so much, He gave His Son to save me and make me His child (John 3:16. Romans 5:8).

2.       I was thought of, loved, and chosen before the world was even made (Ephesians 1:4, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4).

3.   I am truly a child of God and will ultimately resemble Him when He returns (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1-2, Philippians 3:20).

4.   I am His beautiful bride (Psalm 45:10, 11, Song of Solomon 4:7, 8, Revelation 19:7).  

5.   I am free from my sin nature, no longer under its control(Romans 6: 2-7).       

6.   I am now a saint, pure and blameless, having the righteousness of God (Ephesians 1:1, Hebrews 10:14, 2 Corinthians 5:21).

7.       I am a new creation with a godly heart that longs to please Him (2 Corinthians 5:17, Ephesians 4:24, Romans 6:18)

8.       I am a temple of God, and my heart is a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19).

9.       I am now a masterpiece of God, showing His handiwork in my life (Ephesians 2:10).

10.       I am intimately connected with Jesus, the Vine, and His Life will overflow in me (John 5:18).

11.       I am born of God and belong to Him and the evil one has no authority over me (1 John 5:18).

12.   I am the salt of the earth, sharing the goodness of the Lord with the world (Colossians 4:6).

13. I am a light in a dark world and my life draws people to God (Matthew 5:13-16). 

14. I am a true citizen of heaven and this world is not my home (Philippians 3:20, Hebrew 11:16).

15.   I am a priest of God, proclaiming the gospel to the lost (1 Peter 2: 9, 10).

16.   I have complete confidence to be in the holy presence of God by the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 10:19-22).

17.   I've been given a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind and I need not fear (2 Timothy 1:7).

18.   I have been saved from the judgement and wrath of God which will come against sin (1 Thessalonians 1:10, Romans 5:9).

19.   I have been delivered from the domain of darkness, and transferred into the Kingdom of God's beloved Son (Colossians 1:13).

20.   I have all the rights and privileges a son and can cry out "Abba! Father!" in my time of need (Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:6).

21.   I am led by the Spirit and am free from following the futile principles of this world (Colossians 2:20).

22.   I can rest because all my needs are supplied by my God according to His eternal, unlimited riches as Lord over all (Philippians 4:19).

23.   I have strength in my weaknesses, because I can do all things through Him who gives me strength (2 Cor. 12:9, Philippians 4:13).

24.   I have peace of mind and heart are guarded by Sovereignty of God (Philippians 4:7).

25.   I can press on toward the goal of the eternal prize spurred on by the upward call of God (Phil. 3:14).

26.   I can fight unseen spiritual battles in the strength of His might (Ephesians 6:10-12).

27.   I have been redeemed and forgiven of my sins through His blood and by His grace which He has lavished on me (Eph. 1:7,8, Col. 1: 13, 14).

28.   I am an ambassador for Christ, entreating the world to turn back to God and be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:20).

29.   I have been bought by the blood of Christ, so now I want to honor God by living a pure and holy life (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, 20).

30.   I have a new mind, and can seek to have His thoughts (Rom. 12:2, Eph. 4:23, 1 Cor. 2:16).

31.   I am filled with the love of God and can share His love with the world (John 17:26).

Edited by Chanda Griese

Sources are from handouts from Cypress Church (author unknown) and University Presbyterian Church (UPC) by Mary Lance V. Sisk,
Charlotteville, NC