A definition of thief is this: a person who steals another person's property, especially by stealth and without using force or violence. Having just celebrated Easter I've been thinking about the thief on the cross next to Jesus and my father.
My dad grew up in West Virginia, with many brothers and sisters. His mother and father went to a Baptist church and I know he heard the truth. I also know how he lived was not "Christian". So, I often wondered if my dad had accepted the truth. I wondered if he had accepted Jesus.
After I graduated high school in '99, I started dating my husband. I graduated in June, and started dating Tim in July. I was on top of the world. Then one afternoon, I can't remember if it was a Saturday or Sunday, my dad walked into the living room. I remember I was sitting on the floor, and he looked at me and my mother and said, "I'm leaving." He gave me a kiss on the cheek and walked out. Part of me was stunned and another part of me was not. My dad was there more physically than emotionally for my family. I don't know if you'll understand that or not.
About 3 months after that Tim and I were visiting him one Sunday afternoon. If you knew my dad you know what he was watching...SPORTS, LOL. This particular day was a Nascar day, and I remember Jeff Gordon, my dad's driver, was having a great race. Tim and I were going to church together and I had expressed that I wasn't sure if my dad was "saved" or not. So, Tim just starts a conversation with him about it. My dad knew that Jesus was the way, and he answered all the questions right, but there's a difference between "knowing" the truth and accepting it into your life. Seeing how he lived didn't tell me he believed, even though he could tell me with his mouth.
My dad would go on to divorce my mother, and he moved back to West Virginia. He eventually remarried. His new bride was also a believer. I was thankful for that, but as things go and old habits die hard eventually that relationship ended too. They were never formally divorced, but were separated.
Visits with Dad were short, only lasting a day or maybe 2 when we would travel from Florida to see everyone. The last time I saw him he was living in an apartment on the second floor. That was hard for him because he had so much trouble with his legs. He had gone through multiple surgeries to repair/replace veins in his legs so he wouldn't lose them. He had lived in pain because of that for years. Smoking, alcohol, and eating wrong will always catch up with you, and he was paying the price. Let's just say, he was a mess medically. It was January, and I was pregnant with my second child. My oldest, little Gem, had always been stand offish with my dad. He was a loud country boy and was not gentle with his girls so she wasn't getting any special treatment either, but this time was different and I am so thankful for that. Gem was playing with him, laughing at him, and snuggling with him. It was a great visit. We took pictures, and watched TV. We laughed at old jokes, and new stories.
May came along and my little Ann was born. My sister who lives in WV gave my dad some pictures of her, and he said that she looked like we did when we were babies. September came along and one night I was watching a movie in bed beside my sleeping 4 month old, and Tim came to the door of the bed room. He said my name in a way that got my attention, so I actually got up to see him instead of just being annoyed and asking, "What?!", like I'm prone to do sometimes. He told me that my brother-in-law called, I immediately thought something was wrong with my sister, but then he told me they "found my dad", and I lost it. I immediately went to the guilt of what I had not done as a daughter, and how I should have been more involved with his life. I should have sent those pictures of my new baby to him, and I should have called him every weekend like my spirit was telling me to, but I didn't. I had done none of that.
So my dad passed away in September and the last time I talked to him was July. I hate that. The last thing we said to each other was, "I love you." though, at least I have that. My dad died at home, alone, like he had always said he wanted. From what we found with his blood pressure record and his pills he died September 12th, in the morning/afternoon. His evening pills were still in his container. He was found slouched over in his wheelchair towards his couch, like he had tried to get up and sit there, but never made it.
Now, I wonder what he was thinking in his last moments. Did he think of me, did he think of my sisters, my mother, his grandchildren, his family? Most of all I wonder if he thought of Jesus. I wonder if he was like the thief on the cross. Being faced with death, did he say to Jesus, "remember me". Did he accept God's incredible gift of life though his son Jesus Christ at the last moments of his life? Having stolen the days he had lived for his own self, his own feelings, his own wants, and desires? That at that last moment, even though he had stolen from God what is rightfully his, did he said yes, and believe?
I wonder how many of us are thieves on the cross in our own lives? We steal from God what is his, we take and take without force or violence, or even worse...we don't tell others of Jesus. We don't live our lives in the light for others to see, and have the hope that we have through Jesus Christ.
But even if that is true, if we are nailed upon our cross, we can say to Jesus, "remember me", and believe him. We can have life though God's incredible grace and love, and he will say to us, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
I hope my dad did, and I wish with all my heart I knew.
Friday, April 25, 2014
Gem has a little ritual that she does for mommy and daddy some days. When we drop her off at Nana’s house in the mornings she will insist that she give us candy before we leave. Most days we have time for this and others I can feel myself getting irritated inside because we are running late. Mother has a bowl of candy she keeps on the book shelf by the front door just for this. One time I tried to hand Gem the bowl of candy and she was quite upset that I didn’t know that was not my job, it was Nana’s. Well, now I know. Mother will set the bowl of candy on the rug in front of the door. Mommy and daddy will stand there with the door open ready to leave for work while Gem kneels down and picks out a piece of candy for each of us. She always kneels down, and she always has a specific piece of candy that she will give us. If she we don’t get just the right one she will go back and change it. Do you get how precise she is in all this? After we have our special pieces of candy she gladly says bye to us so we can get to work. Most of the time the candy is chocolate and daddy cannot eat it so mommy has the terrible job of making sure both pieces of candy don’t go to waste…awful right? LOL!
I’m currently doing a Bible reading plan that has me in the book of Exodus. I’m going through the chapters where God is explaining to Moses how the Israelites are supposed to set up the tent for worship and sacrifices. Giving him the exact measurements of everything, the exact material they are to use, the exact details of how each item in the tent is supposed to be placed etc… God also chooses Aaron and his sons to be priests for him. After reading this and seeing how exact and precise the Lord wanted things done I couldn’t help but look at Gem’s candy ritual differently. I could see the traits of God in her with how precise and exact she wants it done. Thankfully if it’s not done exactly how she wants we don’t die, like what would have happened to the Israelites if they didn’t follow God’s precise instructions. There’s a specific part that stuck out to me for some reason where God is telling Moses how to ordain Aaron and his sons as his priests and he is told to sacrifice a Ram, and at one point he is supposed to put the blood of the Ram on Aaron and his son’s right ear lobe, the thumbs of their right hands, and big toes of their right feet. (See Exodus 29:20 Here) I can’t help but giggle and visualize Gemma ordaining Nana with chocolate in the same way so she could hand her the bowl. LOL! What I saw most of all was that Gem was giving her mommy and daddy an offering. She was taking the time to pick out the right piece of candy for each of us, like the Israelites had to do with their offerings. She had her precise ways things were to be done like God did, and doing them differently was not acceptable. In the Old Testament God is viewed more in fear then in love. It’s not till Jesus comes that most see the true love that God has for his people. I can't imagine God becoming irritated with us when we are offering a sacrifice to him like I did with Gem. Her giving mommy and daddy those pieces of candy is just another way she can express her love for us. Just like our offerings should be to the Lord. Precise, thought out, and given in joy.
Peace, Love, and God Bless.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
The other morning my hubby came in from taking the dog out and said, “There a dead rat in our pool.” “How big is it?” I asked. He held out his hands to a pretty good size, and I said to him, “Without the tail?!?!” If that was the case this is a good size rat and I had to see for myself. It was still dark out there so I turned on the patio light and looked at the mass floating in our pool. I looked and looked, and didn’t see a tail. Then I saw a little foot do a dog paddle motion! I looked a little closer and saw that it was a bunny! I hollered at my hubby, “It’s not a rat! It’s a bunny, and I think it’s still alive!” Having worked at a Vet for a couple of years I am pretty sympathetic when it comes to stuff like this. I walk over to where the bunny was facing me and bent down. As I bent down this little guy paddled over to me like he knew that I was there to help him. We got a deflated raft and slipped it under him to pull him out. He was very cold, but had kept his head out of the water. We have no idea how long he was in there. I grabbed a towel and wrapped him up in it. At first I thought to leave him under the big bushes by our pool cage where we’ve seen bunnies like him rest, but then thought better of it. He was not moving at all and that would leave him open to attacks from snakes or something. I carried him inside and took him to work with me. I figured that since he was still breathing that if I could give him a safe warm environment to rest and warm up in he would be okay. I got an empty box and put some shredded paper in it with his towel, and some veggies in case he did recover fully he could have something to eat. By the time I got to work his little body had started to shiver so I knew he was warming up. I settled him into his box, cut some holes in the lid and made a flap that I could lift to check on him. Around 11am he was still wrapped up in his towel, but when I lifted the lid he gave me a look that said, “Dude…I’m sleeping here!” His little nose was going a mile a minute and he looked at me with big alert eyes so I knew he was feeling much better and was probably going to be just fine. Come 2pm I heard him scrape at the box and bump around so I put a weight on the lid so he didn’t get out! My hubby and I wanted to release him back at home since that was the environment that he had come from. Plus Gem had seen him that morning and it would be really nice to let her see that he was good and to let her see him run off all hopping and happy to be free again. Getting home we saw another bunny in our back yard by our big bushes so we decided to walk around the side of the house to release him. This way we didn’t scare the other bunny and if that was his mate or sibling or whatever they could meet up pretty quickly. Hubby was holding Gem while I attempted to release the bunny and film it at the same time. Easier said than done, lol. Finally getting the lid off I tipped the box so the little guy could see the grass and step out. After a moment he did just that. He jumped out and hopped away…right towards the busy road! But don’t worry, he stopped. Could you imagine if he wouldn’t have?!?!? I would have not been a happy person. He sat where he stopped for a bit, then my hubby walked over to him to guide him back towards the safety of the bushes. He took the hint and under the big bushes he went.
I was so thankful that my hubby said something and that I actually wanted to see. I normally wouldn’t have gone out to look. I’m also thankful that the little guy was still alive and that he made a full recovery. That little one had struggled all night to keep his head above water so he could breath and survive. I’m sure he paddled all around the pool. He must have swam to the edge and tried to claw his way up using all his strength to get out of the cold water only to fail again and again with his little head sinking under the water every time he fell. Losing his strength he decided to just float. He coasted all night long getting colder and colder. His little body starting to fail from not being warm. His little breaths coming slower and slower. His mind starting to shut down and accept that maybe he was not going to get out. Finally, seeing someone walk to the edge of the pool, he paddled over to see if this someone would help him. To see if this someone would see that he needed help or would they just walk away seeing that he was floating fine on his own. To see if this someone would extend a hand and a heart towards him so he could get out of the struggle he had fought before he slipped forever under the water.
Do we do that as Christians? Do we walk to the edge of the pool and see someone floating and think, “They’re fine.” Or do we walk to the edge of the pool and extend our hands and a hearts to someone that seems fine, but is not. Are we sensitive to the fact that people may look as though they are doing well, but if they don’t know Jesus as their Lord and Savior they are not well? It’s scary to approach the deep waters. What if I fall in? What if they just splash water at me and tell me to go away. Or what if they take my hand? I believe that people just want to be loved. 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. Yes we will get splashed with all kinds of things, but even if that happens if we extend love I believe they will feel that and remember us, and maybe when they have given up and are just floating waiting till they slip forever under the water the Lord might use us at the edge of the pool and maybe this time they will take our hands.
Peace, Love, and God Bless.
Thursday, April 3, 2014
If you don’t live near the ocean or the Gulf of Mexico you might not have seen the bumper stickers that say simply “Salt Life”. Not being up on all the current lingo I decided to look up what that means because just about every car I see has that sticker on it. It is an actual brand that was formed by 4 “watermen”. They are “extreme surfers, free divers, spear fishermen, and blue water fishing experts.” This is their web site if you want to take a look. So, what the sticker “Salt Life” means is to enjoy being on or in the oceans, and doing any activity that revolves around them. It also makes me think of Jimmy Buffett and Margaritaville. With summer right around the corner it hard not imagine sitting on the beach with a “frozen concoction” in your hand. :) Besides all that it also got me thinking about what Jesus says Christians should be. Matthew 5:13 says “You are the salt of the earth…” So we are supposed to be the “Salt of the earth.” Salt has many uses for many things. This web site has suggestions on how you can use salt in your everyday life, other than just putting it on your food. You can use it to clean your house, give yourself a facial, or to keep weeds from popping up on your patio. WOW! I knew I liked salt for a reason, lol. The latter use really got my attention.
“Keeping patios weed-free - If weeds or unwanted grass come up between patio bricks or blocks, carefully spread salt between the bricks and blocks, then sprinkle with water or wait for rain to wet it down.”
Weeds…who likes weeds? I surely don’t, and neither does my homeowners association. Our handbook actually gives a measurement of how high the weeds in our yard/flower beds can be. That might be a little much, but in any case you get the idea. Have you ever noticed that weeds will show up overnight and look like they’ve been there for days? How do they grow that fast? It amazes me. Some weeds make us sneeze or cough. Some make our skin break out. Some are just annoying, and others have beautiful flowers on them. Those weeds are hard to get rid of sometimes because they are so pretty. What about weeds in our lives? Ugly weeds that no one sees, pretty weeds that we don’t mind people seeing. Ones that we pull and don’t go down to the root and soon they are back. If not tended weeds can even kill other plants by taking all the nourishment from them. The latter of Matthew 5:13 says “But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.” It’s hard to image salt losing its saltiness since that’s all it is, is Salt. How does salt lose its saltiness? Well…I know it can dissolve. You may still have a bit of salt after taste but once you take a drink or another bite of food it’s gone. So, how do we salt our lives? How do we keep from dissolving the salt we have? Well, the obvious answer is to be in God’s word. Another is to be involved in our local churches, and to surround ourselves with people who believe what we do and live out that “Salt Life.” I have come to realize that the closer I am to the Lord, the more I read His word, the more I pray, the more I think on the things he wants me to, the easier it is for me to see the weeds in my life and to get rid of them. But the day or 2 that I don’t do the above, those weeds pop up and it’s like they’ve been there for a long time. They start to annoy me, they make me sneeze, cough, break out. They will produce flowers that seem to be good, but eventually they start to choke me and take my nourishment. They take my energy I had for the Lord, my husband, my Gem, my family, and my friends.
Lord, Thank you for your word. Help me to be steadfast in your word and in serving you. Please give me the wisdom to see beyond the beautiful flowers. Help me keep salting my life so that I can keep the weeds away from me that take my energy away from you and my priorities. In Jesus name, Amen.
Peace, Love, and God Bless.
Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Sitting around my Mother’s kitchen table we were just talking about this and that, and looking at the newest crochet patterns she had just received. Gem had not had a nap and she was pretty…sensitive? Yes, that’s a good word to describe it. One minute she was all smiles and the next she was a whining little Gem. She stood up in her chair, which is not allowed, and acted like she was going to sit on Nana’s lap, but instead she sat on the table, which is also not allowed. Nana looked at her and asked her if she was sitting on the table with an undertone of you know you’re not supposed to be up there. Gem looked at her and said, “No.” Seeing an opportunity for me to point out that she had just told a lie I said something. “Gem, you just told Nana a lie because you ARE sitting on the table. Lies are bad, and we don’t want to tell lies to people.” She got off the table and turned to me. With a grin she looked at me and said, “We only tell good lies.” Imagine a deer in the headlights...that was the look on my face.
“We only tell good lies.” Has echoed in my head ever since she said that. Good lies or little white lies, like we can make it clean by putting the color white on it and all of a sudden it’s okay. My goodness, I can’t even count how many “little white lies” I’ve told in my life. Some days I tell them right in church when someone asks me how I’m doing. My little white lie I tell, “I’m great!” When there are just some Sunday mornings when I’m not great. I want to just be left alone. I’m annoyed, I’m angry, I’m…whatever it is. Maybe it doesn’t help that I’m not a morning person, but still. What about when I’m at work. I answer the phone sometimes and have to “screen” calls for the higher ups. If the higher up doesn’t want to talk to someone who called for them what do I do? I lie, “I’m sorry he’s on the other line right now, may I take a message?” or “He’s in a meeting.” I’ve never told them they just flat out don’t want to talk to them. What kind of customer service person would I be if I did that?!?! What kind of a Christian am I when I’m not telling the truth?!?! What about the line, “They’re not available.” When in fact they are. What do you say in that situation?
From this web site I found a statistic that said the on average men tell 6 lies in a day to their partner, boss, or colleagues, and women on average tell 3 lies in a day to their partner, boss, or colleagues. Are you starting to think? Have I told a lie today? Have you? That web site also said that 80% of women admit to “occasionally telling harmless half-truths” or “Good lies” as Gem called them. I don’t know about you, but that bothers me. My prayer for myself is that the Lord will point out to me when I do this, and that he will give me the RIGHT words to say. No more “Good lies”.
Peace, Love, and God Bless.