Monday, December 30, 2013


This headache, it comes at the worst time - if there is ever a good time. It is Christmas. The gifts...I don't even know what they are. They are wrapped with pretty bows and names printed in five year old hand. But me? I sit and wonder what each holds. I shopped for them - so he tells me - I bought them, this man who claims to be my husband affirms, but me? I can't remember...the robbed me of this...this remembering.

I opened my eyes one Tuesday morning, this man, he tells me it was a Tuesday morning. I am fourteen...I think that I am fourteen - and I just cry to go home...will this strange bearded man call my mother and have her come get me? Is it okay with my mama that I slept at this strange man's house? I slept in a chair, afraid of the man who had shared my bed for more than twenty years (this is what he tells me- we married over twenty years ago?). Fear, confusion, panic....and

This stranger had not hurt me, never would...I just could not remember him. He has proven himself a gentleman, a gentle man, kindhearted and good. He has cared for me...gently, reminded me of who I am, who we are, who our children are. He has had a few good laughs - like when he introduced me to my own fourteen year old boy-man. Me, thinking I am fourteen, shocked to discover that I have birthed a boy so old. Me, near weeping, asking, "How old am I then?" Then, he brings me the wee one. This five year old bundle of love, and my heart, it melts and I know he speaks truth. The mirror, it reflects truth. Years are marked around my eyes and gray streaks my hair. Grief overwhelms the heart when it is forced to remember every loss, the years that have marked me. Joy grabs the heart as it remembers the victories and promises.

These past weeks have been ones of reliving...I have relived the losses, wept tears over the death of grandparents, shed tears over the loss of children, remembered the pains. I have rejoiced over the joys...the recounting of the broken womb bearing children and the old woman bearing a child. life is being lived again. I feel different because life is gift...all of it. And I have bowed my head in the giving of thanks for each memory regained - the sorrows and the joys. I do not remember getting married...but I am - and this man, in the past week, proves he is more than I deserve. Grace that I remember how much I love him, and how we first met - sheer grace is the depth of his love! I do not remember being pregnant, but I have been - four times this man tells the doctor at my appointment - and two children breath this side of heaven. Grace that I remember holding each wiggling, new from the womb body. I do not remember friends, but they call to see how I am. Grace that I have such loving friends.

A week passes, I think my memory is back...I remember family and friends, I remember this blog, but the reading of it...I sit and wonder at some of what is written: so this is ME? MY LIFE? I have figured out how to do laundry - where the laundry is...I call to order pizza. And that, that is when the reality of my loss comes crashing. The man on the phone, he wants my phone number. I hesitate, nearing panicked tears. He tries again....I don't know my own phone number. How long have we had it? How long have we lived at this address? This husband of mine tells me we have lived here for twenty years. The phone number? The same for twenty years. So how do I not know it?? How do I remember email addresses and passwords to email, but have no idea what my home phone number is? Confusion, panic, fear boil in my heart as I try to remember. The mail on the table, it has the address...and so the pizza gets ordered and the boys get fed. But my head? It aches with the confusion of not knowing...with the not knowing remembering.

I go to get lab work done. This man who walks beside me, he drives. But me, I decide that I can do this by myself. I walk to the registration desk. The lady, she smiles sweet, talks about Christmas, asks if I am ready. Oh, yes, I am ready for the coming of the Lord, Him overcoming my flesh, the joy that is only had in Jesus. This I remember - a moment of joyous grace! Then she asks my birth date. I easily rattle it off, relief flooding. My address, I check the driver's license she just handed me back. My phone number, my social security number, my heart drums wild. The man who has proven faithful, he told me these...but I don't remember what he said. She nods, and says, "I see,that is what you are here for. It is fine."

Is it fine? Is it fine to not remember the one who has walked with you twenty years? Is it okay to forget the children you bore? Is it fine to not remember more than twenty years of your life? The boy-man, I confess, I learn about myself through him. I question him all day while his daddy is at work. I want to remember, I want to know. I ask silly things like, "Where do you go to school?" He stares at me, eyes open wide, disbelief on his face: "You, you are my teacher. You homeschool me." I sigh tired. The head, it aches and the not remembering, it saps of energy. How do you know what it is you don't remember? I go to church and I feel overwhelmed. The lights, the music, the heat...all too much for my aching head and the pain surges fresh. Friends stop to chat and I speak I know them? I ask to go home...home - a nest of safety. And he, my husband, this man whose love shines in his eyes, he drives me home, tucks me in to sleep on the sofa and returns to church.

And now, two weeks since it started - that is what my husband says - the war rages on inside my head. The memory, oh, I think it has returned...mostly. Still the moments of panic when someone calls and I can't remember...I can't remember who they are or how I know them. Thankfully, it happens less and less often. My sister, she tells me that my speech has returned to normal (I did not know it was slow), and my kids...well...they say that I am back to normal (I am not sure this is a good thing). My husband, I remember him now, and I am thankful for the grace of a man who walks faithfully beside me even when I can't remember.

And I am thankful that forever, always, Jesus walks beside me. He does not leave me alone even when I forget His tender mercies...His love is limitless and in the midst of pain, He is an anchor for this soul.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Sweetest Thing

And so I go to the Christmas Tea. And one of my friends has a tale to tell...about my little guy. My stomach, it knots tight. What has my littlest one done this time? Did he hit a classmate? Did he forget to share? Was he running out of control? Oh, in that one moment of her silence, my mama's head swims with the possibilities of what this littlest has done to stir up trouble...because, you know, he is five...and no matter how sweet he is (and he is so sweet)...he was born under Adam's curse, just like me...a sinner, saved only by God's desperately in need of the grace and mercy God provides in Christ.

And she chuckles as she speaks, "Oh, the whole class was loud and wild. So the teacher tells them to put their heads down, she shuts off the lights and says, 'Now, let's think about what Jesus would do.' After a few minutes of quiet, she turns the lights back on, ready to begin class, when little Jacob, in that sweet little voice says, 'I think Jesus would forgive us.'" And this friend of mine, she laughs a sweet twinkling laugh, and says, "Isn't that the sweetest thing you ever heard?"

And it is...isn't it? To the sinner weighed down by the consequences of his choices, to the sweet sister in Christ who spoke impatiently, to the child who has disobeyed, disrupted class...HOPE. Jesus would does forgive. And she is right...Jesus forgives us...isn't that the sweetest thing you have ever heard? Jesus forgives...the sweetest thing I have ever heard, good news for this faltering heart!

Singing Love

And this little boy, in his small voice says to me, "Mama, I didn't want to do it - I was afraid. But I looked at all those faces and I knew."

"Knew what?" this mama asks, confused.

"That they just need to know that Jesus loves them."

And so he sang. He stood by himself in the middle of fifteen, maybe twenty, older men and women to sing "Jesus Loves Me" to them. He put his fear aside because they needed to know. These men and women who have been sent to the nursing home by families who could not care for their needs or because they don't have family at all. They sit in the activity room, playing bingo, doing giant crosswords. Even with other wrinkled faces next to them, they wear their loneliness as a coat around their aching hearts.

Watching my little guy sing for them brought tears to this mama's eyes. Aged voices joined him and before the chorus, every one of those lovely, aged lips were mouthing the words along with him. And my little guy? He was so happy to be able to bless!

"Mama, did we bless?"

"Oh, son, yes!"

Not a week later, he sings again, for a woman sitting in her room. Her eyes shine and her mouth forms the words to mouth along with him. This woman who does not know one day from the next, whose memory has slipped and she no longer knows the past from the present...well, she knows this one truth: "Jesus loves me" and she sings it with him. The speech therapist comes, watches in amazement...that the woman recalled the words, that she sang and smiled...that this one name, Jesus, in Him is found joy.

And God blesses her and He blesses us by giving us this one free gift, JESUS...that one name that is above all others, that one Child that was born to grow into the Man who would carry the cross - not just any cross but my cross, your cross...the one we deserve for each failing, mistake, every sin. But Jesus, He came as a babe to grow into the man who would bear this cross...bear it for us, that we may be clothed in His forgiveness and righteousness. And we who are so blessed to know and understand such grace and mercy...we are so blessed that the blessing pours out for us and then from us. We are so thankful that He uses us as instruments of His peace and love.

Thanking Him today for His grace...His mercy...His love...for the Babe born that first Christmas long ago. For the Hope He brings.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

But for His Grace...

My aunt, she used to say something that as a child I never quite understood. "There, but for the grace of God, go I." And she would whisper a prayer of thanksgiving.

Yes, she saw it. She saw herself in every sinner. She understood the only thing standing between her and the alcoholic, the woman selling herself on the corner for another hit, the person living steeped in sin is the grace of God in her life. Everything good in her - and in me - is because of His grace.

Sometimes I question that. How is that His grace? How do you credit His grace with being who you are and where you are without wondering where His grace is for the person living on the street, for the alcoholic, for the one who sells herself on the corner, for the one beaten and abused, for the abuser, for the woman who has been violated, for the child who has been rejected? My heart aches, because really, apart from Christ I am so many of those things. I know it...and I am humbled because this grace that is too big and too wonderful has nothing to do with me...I did nothing to earn it (wouldn't that negate that it was grace at all?) and I can't do anything to make myself worthy of such grace, and yet, here is the truth: He has poured this all-consuming grace out on me. But, what about those others?? What about all those ones of whom my aunt used to whisper "but for the grace of God"? If grace has nothing to do with me and everything to do with Him, then what about THEM? Where is His grace and why are they suffering, and why can't their testimony be "there but for the grace of God, go I"?

So, when you know such a thing about Grace and yourself, what do you do with it? How do you open your eyes wide to this all-consuming grace and not weep for the lost? How do you not pour out grace on a hurting world? Really, here is the question, among all the "amen's" at the sermon, how do you LIVE this all powerful, all consuming grace? How do you take a beaten and wounded heart and pour out His grace on it? How? I know it is not by following the list of things my dear sister in the Lord gave me when I first came to Christ...the "do these things, don't do these" and you will be a good Christian list. (By the way, I failed...I really liked Petra Praise...and such sin, she assured me, would lead to hell's fire, I watched a movie and I did go to a dance...I still can't follow that list of do's and don'ts)

Because really, my son caught it (he leaned over to me, wide-eyed "Really? That is Mr.----? Ha!" - I have to confess, he talked about it all the way home), the one perhaps shouting the loudest amens during the sermon on grace....well...he is the same one who brings a list of his perception of my son's faults regularly to our attention with a smirk - in fact, had just done it the night before. So obviously, KNOWING what grace is and LIVING grace are two different things...and I don't want to just know, I don't want to just "Amen" during a sermon...I want to live grace...I want His grace to be all that there is...I want my life to be the Amen at the end of the message. But, then again, I recognize, apart from His grace I am incapable of living His grace.

And for that woman selling herself on the corner for another hit, and the child living in fear of an abusive father, and for that person steeped in sin, for the sister who has stumbled? Well, maybe...just maybe, God has called me to be His grace to them...His gentle voice whispering freedom to the hurting, healing to the broken, hope to the hopeless, forgiveness for the sinner. Maybe, just maybe...I am called to live His grace out to them...take them the message of the resurrected Christ, Hope and freedom, let His light shine through me and in me. Could I, maybe, live this grace outloud so that they who have no hope might see the Light of His love shining through me? Only by His grace and the power of His Spirit am I able to live such grace!