Friday, October 24, 2014

Celebrating Young Love and Old

Last weekend we were graced with spending time at 2 weddings and hanging out with lots of young people!  WOOHOO!  You know who you are..the De-Icing Queen, commissioner of DC flag-football, and all the rest of these great young people pictured.  Just being with these people breathes new life into my being.  These young people get together everytime one of their own is getting married.  It is a joyous time.

Young Love...
Fall beauty reigned, lovely brides and handsome grooms, amazing friends at both weddings blessed the young couples as they began a journey of hope and faith and love.  Both couples were prayed over, food was eaten, toasts were made and songs were danced, sung and played.  Together we celebrated the promise of young week ago.

Old Love...
Today we spent time with our friends Ron and Shirley.  Ron and Shirley have only been married about 10 years.  They said goodbye to their first mates several years ago after loving them until death parted them.  Then...God gave them each other for a new season of life.  They have loved and worked well together in this second season.  It has been fun visiting their orchards when the cherries and apples were hanging from the trees.

Now Shirley is in the final stages of ALS.  She has been battling this horrible disease for 3 years. She will die soon.  Today she could tap her head against a pad that would beep to let Ron know she wanted to communicate something.  She communicates with eye contact. That and a little wag of her finger is the extent of her control over her body.  Oxygen machines help her to breath.  Ron wipes the tears that fill her eyes as we pray together.

Ron said their day is 24 hours long, because she needs care around the clock.  He reads books to her, and they watch movies and tv programs together.  Yesterday they took a little ride in their van to see the colors...and they love each other.  They love each other so well!

This is what it comes down to.  They have both been care-givers for their first spouses, and now they are living this journey together again.  And they love each other so well!  They are an inspiration to all lovers.

None of us knows what love will require of us.  In that bedroom today God's grace was thick upon them.  You don't love that well in your own strength.  You pray for the grace and strength needed for each day.

When you see that lived out you get schooled in what true love looks like.  Thank you Ron and Shirley.  Young love is a beautiful, wonderful thing.  It's the beginning steps on the journey, til death do us part.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Stories from the Bathroom Floor

I knew Jesus most of my life, but I didn't fall in love with him until that night as I was lay on the bathroom floor.

So went the story of one of the young women who is a part of a writer's group that I facilitate at Hope College.  She told two stories from the bathroom floor.  One was when she was making bad decisions in high school and was vomiting up the alcohol she had been drinking.  The other was of a night at college when she broke up with a boyfriend and was emotionally crushed, overwhelmed and vomiting her pain, disappointment, and confusion.

There are lots of places and times we perceive would be good places to run into the arms of Jesus, but heaving into a toilet on the bathroom floor is normally not one of them, and yet...She felt God's love in the arms and words of friends who reached out to her.  She felt God's assurance and presence and love as she "Sobbed her insides out."  And in that place she went from knowing about Jesus to falling in love with Jesus.

Here was a Jesus who loved her in the midst of her messiness.  Here was a Jesus who embraced her in her smellyness.  And she couldn't help but fall in love with such a love.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus, vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean in its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me, is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward to Thy glorious rest above!
                                                              S. Trevor Francis 1875

So when was a time in your life when you went from knowing about Jesus...from believing in Jesus... to falling in love with Jesus?  When did you realize that Jesus was in love with you?  And I pray that for all of us it happens over and over again.  Sometimes in the midst of our messiness, but sometimes when we are overwhelmed by creation, or flooded with the warmth of friendship, or caught up in the glory of pure worship.

I realized it once again when I sat in that room with a group of college young women who shared their stories of life, and growth, and fear, and faith, and God working in all manner of ways to call them into a life lived for God's glory.  I was blessed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homecoming with a Purpose

Two weeks ago I celebrated a “Homecoming” of sorts. We didn't have to worry about the weather,or if we would win or lose.  I didn't need a homecoming dress or do.

I had a date with 13 women, 11 of whom had been good friends and co-laborers with Christ when we were pastoring at Southridge Church in Portage, MI in the 1990's.


17 years have passed, but it was one of those magical moments when all that time just evaporates away.

We were a gaggle of midlifing women, all searching for God's plans and purposes for our “Second Adulthood,” those years 50 and beyond. We laughed, shed a few tears, shared a few stories and listened for the Spirit to speak through God's Word, through one another and through our own lives.

It was a unique group in that we were simply 14 friends, gathered in a home.   It wasn't an official church function, we were limited in size by the space in the living room. It was just right!

We didn't worry about who would be voted queen, however Shari did win the title of “Coffee Lady,” because of her job at BiggBy coffee near the campus of Western Michigan University. She works the 5am to 2pm shift, where she starts everyone's day off with a smile, a greeting and great cup of coffee. (Personally I'd pay for the coffee just so I could see Shari each day:) Everyone knows her, loves her and gets encouragement from her.

She told one story of a woman in line who was looking for something in her purse, and in frustration said, “Sweet Jesus!” to which Shari responded with a smile saying, “Yah, he really is, isn't he?” The woman looked up at her, laughed and said, “I need to go back to church!”

My goal in all the retreats I do is that we will be inspired, not only by each other's stories, but by our own story as we see how God's grace has been at work in the past, preparing us for all that God has in store for us in the future.

A couple of lessons from my homecoming:

  1. I want to be a “Coffee Lady” like Shari; bringing the light, love and joy of Jesus into the ordinary places of life.
  2. Some of the best Midlife Momentum events happen when you gather a few friends in your living room and invite Jesus to speak into your life. I would love to do that with you!

Let's put it on the calendar. God will show up!

So think about it...who are the people in your life you would love to spend a day or weekend with, exploring what abundant living will look like today and tomorrow. (facebook me)

Hebrews 10:23-25 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.