Christian Living, Suffering, Words and Writings

Hearts Day 2018

Here it is, February 14th, 2018. It’s Valentine’s Day–a day for chocolate, kisses, smiles, and cheer. For dumb little cards and sappy big cards, for too much sugar, friends and family near. (Sorry about the rhyme; I couldn’t help myself.) This is a day for life and health and love . . . right?

Mourning has Broken

This morning began with a greeting from my love, who is out of town for the week. Next came the news that a dear friend from church entered heaven’s gates after years of battling stage 4 cancer. (Don’t even say he lost his battle. Don’t even. I hate that phrase.) Elsewhere in our proximity, there are people too numerous to mention succumbing to this season’s influenza outbreak, one ending up passed out on the cold tile of his kitchen floor. In other news, our school’s sewer might be backing up into the water, rendering half of the facility unusable.

Alice, who used to be just a four-year-old girl, but is now a girl her father fears will be remembered mostly as a four-year-old victim of tragedy will have an MRI today to see whether her brain is filled with tumor or hope or, perhaps, both. Thirty-three years ago today my twenty-nine-year-old father went into the hospital with a benign brain tumor and left a month later in a casket.

This is a day for life and love and health.

And pain and suffering and death.

And flu and sewage and fainting spells.

Happy Hearts Day, 2018.

Need I Go On?

If this was all there is, this torturous existence where sewage and sweetness mix with unsettling regularity, well, heavens, reader, why go on?

But remember that one time, the apostle Paul asks, remember when you were “Gentiles in the flesh, called ‘the uncircumcision’ by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”? (Ephesians 2:11-12)

Remember when you had no hope? Remember when all the water of your spiritual world was tainted with sewage? Remember when your heart was so broken by the law and the failure and the sin and the sovereign circumstances of your life that you felt that you couldn’t go on?

Remember how you were so far from Christ that the very mention of his name and your heart made you bristle like that time when your office-mate got 2 dozen long-stemmed roses from her adoring husband the day after you broke up with your second boyfriend of the year?

That virulent mixture of repulsion and yearning, of the failure of this world’s remedies to cure cancer or heartbreak or water lines–Do you remember, believer, what happened when you had no hope?

Here’s a refresher:

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.       Ephesians 2:13-22

Believer:

You were far off. He brought you near by His blood.

He went to war with the wall of the law so that He might be your peace.

He preached peace to you when you were far, far off. He can–He will–preach peace to you today when you are near.

Unbeliever:

You are far off. He shed His blood that you might be drawn near.

Though you are now His enemy, He died that you might enter into His peace.

He is preaching to you now. Are your ears open to hear?

No Strangers on Valentine’s Day

We are no longer strangers, you and I. We have been brought into the fellowship of Christ’s suffering, and if we are obedient, we have placed ourselves into the fellowship of suffering of a community of believers–into His flesh and blood. On this day of hearts, as we see sin’s warpath as it marches over physical bodies, flawed mechanics, over lonely hearts and breakups, let us also see that He has come to reconcile the sewage with the sweet.

We are joined together, and together we will experience sweetness and sadness, birth and loss, healings on earth and healings in heaven. This world is not always as we would like it to be, but this Valentine’s Day, remember that you are seeing dimly, as through a thick old wavy window (1 Cor. 13:12). Enjoy the beauty of the light that comes through, but do not be afraid over what looks distorted, twisted, and dark. The God of Heaven stretches his loving hands on both sides of the glass. One day, we will see clearly. In the meantime, trust in Him who does all things well.

Kirkwold family, we love you. We rejoice with you and we weep with you.

Reed family, we love you. We rejoice with you and we weep with you.

Grace and Peace,

-LJE

 

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Christian Living, Suffering, Words and Writings

All of God’s Gifts Are Good

Hello Faithful Readers,

As I promised back in December (!), here is the full text of the article I wrote for the Revive Our Hearts blog about the journey of a little girl near and dear to my family’s heart. She is, in fact, family both by blood (her dad and my hubby are cousins) and by the blood of the Savior into whose hands we place the remainder of her days, however long or brief. As you read, please keep little Alice and her family in prayer, as an MRI on February 14th is expected to reveal whether there is regrowth of the tumor.

Lord, have mercy.

Grace and peace,

-LJE

 

Alice is a four-year-old girl who, unless the Lord intervenes, will die before next Christmas. I want to write it softly and tenderly, like the old hymn, choosing gentle words. Perhaps . . .

Alice is a four-year-old girl who, unless the Lord intervenes, will spend next Christmas in glory.
Alice is a four-year-old girl who, unless the Lord intervenes, will not sit on Santa’s lap next year but will rest in the arms of Jesus.
Alice will be free from pain!
Alice’s suffering will be over!
Alice will be escorted by angels into the very presence of Christ!

Truths like these whisper sweetly, a gift I long to wrap in pretty tissue paper and place in the hands of her grieving family. Perhaps next Christmas they will be ready to receive these delicate word-gifts—to set them carefully under the tree in anticipation of future joy.

But this Christmas, they’ve been given cold, hard words:

Alice is a four-year-old girl who, unless the Lord intervenes, will die before next Christmas. Continue reading “All of God’s Gifts Are Good”

Christian Living, In the News, Uncategorized

Don’t Fall Prey: Brief thoughts on Trump and #takeaknee

So, the blog has been pretty quiet. I just thought I’d pop in and share a few brief thoughts on the uproar over Sunday’s “take a knee” controversy. I posted these thoughts on my personal Facebook page, but they seem to be resonating with my friends on both sides of the political spectrum, so I thought I would share them here. It’s not spectacular oration, just the earnest ramblings of a mid-western mom that would like to see things accomplished in Washington for the sake of America and in America for the sake of Christ.

 

Guys. The take a knee thing started a year ago. Trump is fanning the flame to be divisive, fire up the base, and distract from other issues. Don’t fall prey. Racial justice is important. Our national defense is important. Freedom of speech is important. So are affordable health care, tax reform, immigration reform, and the little matter of impulsive national figures vainly puffing their chests with nuclear weapons at their fingertips. Stick to the issues. Work toward compromise. Love your country. Love your neighbor. Honor our military. Stand for justice. Be mature. These things are NOT mutually exclusive.

Don’t fall prey.

And Christian, remember. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven. People are hurting. People are dying. People need the gospel. Stick to the issues.

Grace and peace, friends!

Christian Living, Words and Writings

Labor Day! When Your Service is Known But to God

From the True Woman archives, a piece I wrote back in 2015 which poses the question, if my most fervent, difficult, selfless labors are known to God, and God alone, is that enough? It should be, right? But is it?

Atop a hill overlooking our nation’s capitol, a simple monument of white marble lies under perpetual watch at Arlington National Cemetery. Inscribed on the structure’s west-facing side are these words:

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

This, of course, is what’s known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and incidentally, the subject of my son’s American history project. Although the monument now honors soldiers from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War as well, the original “unknown” was selected on Memorial Day, 1921, having been one of four American unknowns exhumed from four World War I cemeteries in France. Highly decorated World War I veteran U.S. Army Sergeant Edward F. Younger was chosen to make the selection as the soldiers lay before him, encased in identical caskets. A spray of white roses was placed by Younger on the third casket from the left, and that soldier became America’s World War I Unknown.

And so it is that this soldier’s story rests in shadow along with a multitude of others whose lives met the same fate. His age and hometown are sealed in the tomb. His rank is a mystery—in fact, the tomb sentinels do not wear their insignia while guarding so as not to outrank him. We will never know whether he died providing aid to another soldier or lying in a trench. Any acts of valor, any deeds of sacrifice, anything good or hard or praiseworthy that he had done is buried with him . . . unknown but to God.

Continue reading “Labor Day! When Your Service is Known But to God”

Christian Living, Words and Writings

Words That Shimmer

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From the archives: Here’s the post that started the whole “Shimmersome” thing. Read how my fascination with words is informed by my faith. Originally published here on reviveourhearts.com.

Call me a glitter-phile. (Is that a thing?) A sparkle addict. A shine-aholic. Call me what you will, but if it’s an item that inspires a response of “Oooooh, that’s so pretty” from my seven-year-old daughter, I’m probably going to want one. Or twelve. And let me tell you, the season of Christmas puts my sense of sparkle into overdrive—twinkling lights, flickering candles, sequins, gemstones, and glitter galore—these are the things that make it possible to survive December in Minnesota where it gets dark at 4:30 p.m.

As it happens, I’m also a collector of words. If you are a word-lover, you know that there are some words that strike you as so lovely, so exquisite, so perfectly apt that you’re just dying for an opportunity to scroll one across a page or fling it off the tip of your tongue at just the right moment.

Capacious.

Continue reading “Words That Shimmer”

Depression/Anxiety, Words and Writings

Protecting Against Spiritual Ambush

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Anxiety and depression: Common wounds in Christians and non-Christians alike. In this post, originally published on reviveourhearts.com, you can read about my struggle and the steps I take to protect myself. This is surely not the last word I will write on this issue, but it was a beginning point.

Much has been said in this space and elsewhere regarding the battle for the mind of the believer. A woman doesn’t have to be a Christian for long to realize that her thought life has quickly become the front line in this daily war we fight against the enemy. So we plan. We prepare. We arm ourselves with the Word of God, bolster our defenses with prayer, and strategically plan for the battle we will face tomorrow. Assured of our preparation, we slumber in our tents, hoping for just enough rest to carry us through the next day’s trials.

Then, suddenly—ambush! Terror has entered the camp tonight.

Last evening, I sat in a circle of dear Christian sisters for our monthly book/Bible study. We’re currently working through Attitudes of a Transformed Heart by Martha Peace, and we discussed Mrs. Peace’s statement that “When you think a thought it is either pleasing to God or it is not. It is either righteous or it is not.”

She goes on to describe how our thinking is habitual, and that just as we can train ourselves to perform a variety of mundane tasks out of habit (i.e. getting dressed, brushing our teeth, making our bed), we also think habitually, training ourselves to “default” to thoughts that are either pleasing to God or are sinful. Preparing for the battle we would wake up to today, my study sisters and I planned. We prayed. We armed ourselves as best we could for what we would face when a new day dawned. But last night, I was ambushed.

Continue reading “Protecting Against Spiritual Ambush”

Christian Living, Words and Writings

When God Says “Go Forth”

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Sharing a little more of our family’s journey here: Throwback to when we became Minnesotans! Originally posted here on the True Woman blog.

I still remember the response of my son’s orthodontist upon finding out that our family was moving from Upper Michigan to Minnesota—”Oooh,” he mused while inspecting, through squinted Scandinavian eyes, Seth’s newly straightened teeth, “You’re going to the flatlands, huh?”

“Yeah,” I chuckled, “I guess we are.” Because God had said “Go forth.”

Continue reading “When God Says “Go Forth””

Christian Living, In the News, Words and Writings

Are You Truly Pro-Life?

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In light of the weekend’s deplorable events in Virginia, I’m reposting this article, originally published here. Christians, being truly prolife is much, much bigger than being against abortion . . . .

As I sit here observing the aftermath of Election 2016, I can’t help but reflect on the impact that potential Supreme Court nominations had on the race. Within the Republican Party, and specifically the traditionally conservative evangelical community, we are left with a gaping rift, one that won’t be quickly sutured by calls for unity and #comehome.

“It’s the economy, stupid,” was the phrase coined by James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton during his presidential bid against George H.W. Bush. The phrase signified the notion that a single issue—the economy, in Carville’s opinion—trumped every other issue in the mind of the American voter. For many evangelical voters however, as demonstrated in every presidential election in my memory, that overriding issue can be summed up in one word: abortion.

It’s an ugly word, as sterile and slicing as the procedure itself. Sure, many evangelical voters have cited other issues affected by Supreme Court appointments during this gaudy circus of an election cycle. But when it comes down to it, when you get to the brass tacks of why a majority of evangelical voters are willing to support a less-than-admirable candidate it comes down to one thing: babies.

Over 58 million and counting in the past forty-three years in this country alone.

It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking. Let’s just be clear about that right off the bat.

But Supreme Court justices? Anti-abortion legislation? Protecting the unborn? These are all noble causes, and ones that we should indeed champion. But my dear friends, readers, women who are committed to drawing worldly eyes to the loveliness of Christ and the beauty of the gospel . . .

It is not enough to be merely anti-abortion—
to be fighters for the lives of the unborn.
If that is where we fall,
if that is where our race ends,
we have simply fallen quite short.
It is not enough.

Continue reading “Are You Truly Pro-Life?”