Monday, April 9, 2018

Seasons of Life

Last week my siblings and I joined a group of people no one connects with joyfully.

We said "see you later" to our mom.

Now we find ourselves without the glue that held the family together, or so it feels.

We are blessed to have so many friends reach out with prayer and words of encouragement. Friends, who know the feeling whether one month or twenty years past, shed tears with us.

Even as I already forget she's no longer here and begin to push "Momma" on my cell, I am drawn to remember her in a way that pushes me forward. She wouldn't want me to stall out now.

 I remember:

Her beautiful hands and pretty painted nails.
Her garden and flower beds that grew whatever she chose to plant.
What remained of her left pinky finger from an accident as a child.
Her laughter.
Her stubborn will that never quit.
The meals she cooked with love, sometimes making something out of almost nothing.
The way she disliked having someone care for her because she was always the one taking care.
Her beautiful handwriting.
Molly, her furbaby.
Her gratitude.
Her love.
Her pride in her kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.

And her love for Jesus. Even when she didn't understand or like what was going on in life, she trusted God and wasn't afraid to say it.

I'll admit, I hate this season of life. I want to dig my heals in and say, "I'm not gonna do it!"

But this season comes to all of us. So, I suppose I will have my moments when I am reduced to a puddle, and then I will get up and do the day.

I will choose to let my granddaughter paint my nails.
I will laugh at silly things and cook memorable meals for my family.
I will draw on the "never quit" DNA.

And I will love my Jesus.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

When You Face a Bully

Her  normally pink cheeks were colorless. She was biting her bottom lip.

"Stop it, Haley. He's not gonna kill me. He'll probably just black my eyes or knock out my teeth ... or paralyze me or something."

"That's not funny. Don't go. You'll end up in trouble. He's just a jerk, and it's not worth it."

"If I don't go this will never end. And besides, I don't want people sayin' I'm chicken."

"Why do boys have to be so stupid? Who cares if they call you chicken if you can keep your teeth?"

"Chicken have teeth?"

"Jase Freeman, you make me so mad!" And she turned and walked away. She didn't even look back over her shoulder at him. She just walked away.

Jase stuck his chin out and pulled his shoulders back. He took a deep breath and stepped towards the concessions stand.

On the way, he couldn't help but think Here lies Jase Freeman...

The Wish I Wished Last Night is the first book in the middle grade fiction series The Chronicles of Crumberry.

Grab it up and read it with your kids over Spring Break! It might just open up conversation about the bully walking the halls at school.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Reminders All Around

They are everywhere.

You can see them if you are looking.

When you're having a wonderful day ...

and when you are in sorrow ...

they are there.

They don't wax and wane according to what's going on in your life.


Reminders of God's faithfulness.

I have an old nativity from my childhood. It used to play Silent Night. I reminds me before I knew Him, He knew me.

I listened to "When We All Get to Heaven" this morning. It took me back 38 years, when my faith was young and fresh. God was faithful to me during the frail years of growing.

There is a tiny crosstitched Christmas stocking hanging in my office nook. I started the project for our first child. When I miscarried, I tucked it away. The pain of losing our child was too great. I didn't get it out when I became pregnant with our second child. Our second joined our first in heaven, and the sorrow was deep. Today, that stocking bears John's name. God gave us James, Hannah, John, and Abigail. I wasn't ready to get the stocking out until John's birth. Today, it reminds me--I will see and know the two children in heaven, and God has blessed us greatly with 4 children.

My last name is Pierce. When I sign my name, I see God's faithfulness to give me my completer. My best friend. A godly, kind, and wise husband.

God takes a broken heart and puts it back together. It doesn't resemble the heart it used to be. It's a heart that knows He is real. He is faithful. And should sorrows come around again, He will put it back together again. And He will make it even more beautiful than it was the day before, because He is LORD.

His faithfulness whispers through the unexplainable. It sings through the confusing. It shouts in the sunrise. It wraps it's arms around us in the sunset.

God promised those who believe that He will supply for our every need.

He is faithful.

Evidence is everywhere.

I can see it.

Can you?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

He Thought He Had All Authority

I can almost picture it...

He stood, in the finest of clothing. I imagine he stood with arrogant confidence.

And he demanded an answer.

"Where are you from?"

He had authority. Power to reduce people to begging. Power to do and say whatever he chose.

He didn't get an answer to his question.

His arrogance spilled out, "You're not talking to me? Don't you know that I have the authority to let you go and the authority to have you  killed?"

I'm sure he raised his voice.

We think we have authority too. We live like we get to choose our last day.

You do; I do too.

"Tomorrow I will ... "

"This summer we will ..."

"I plan to ... "

Such an unpopular subject--the truth.

It doesn't matter what your last name is, how much money you have, how many people bow to you, how confident you are ... you don't get to choose. Neither do I.

Whether you live another day, or die.

It's okay though, because there is a choice we've been given.

Many years ago, I saw myself as I am. I prayed and asked Jesus to be my Lord forever.

I chose forgiveness.

I chose a relationship.

I chose Jesus.

Pilate looked down at Jesus, bloodied and beaten, and demanded an answer. When no answer was given, he wielded his authority over Jesus ... well, he tried.

I wonder what cold chills ran through him when Jesus spoke? Did he go weak in the knees? Did he feel the impulse to bow?

"You would have no authority over Me at all, if it had not been given you from above."

John tells us from that moment, Pilate made every effort to release Him. His conflict must have been great--the wrestling between good and evil, the struggle to want Jesus and want to keep control over self. Arrogant refusal to admit sin.

He chose self that day.

Jesus chose His death that day ... so you and I could chose life.

Jesus' last earthly instructions, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age"

I have to wonder if the words traveled back to Pilate's ivory tower ... Jesus has all authority. Did he feel the need to wash his hands once more?

I do not have the authority to choose the day I die, and neither do you.

It's okay though. I choose Jesus.

How about you?

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Complete Joy

Sometimes we think joy is the laughter of a baby or the sight of spring's first bloom.

Perhaps you believe joy is making the final payment on that credit card or losing those last ten pounds (or the first ten pounds).

Maybe we imagine the joy of life without mental anguish, physical pain, and emotional scars.

The joy of the absence of betrayal. The joy of friendship. The joy of truth.

Friend, we want the joys of heaven. For those who love the Lord, that joy will be made sight one day.

But for now, where is the complete joy?

Jesus spoke with his disciples before his arrest to prepare them for the days ahead. He said "I am the vine and you are  the branches--abide in Me." He said, "If you keep My commandments you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and remain in His love."

And then He said it ...

"I have spoken these things so My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."

Oh, for complete joy.

Isn't it wonderful that we don't have to search for it? We don't have to wonder if joy is real.

The joy of Jesus is real. It isn't a buried treasure. He told us how we can have complete joy.

Keep His commandments. He said the two greatest commandments are to love God with all that we are and to love each other.

That's pretty daunting. I can't do that on my own. But if I abide in Jesus--pray, read my precious Bible, praise and worship Him alone, and listen to the nudge of the Holy Spirit when He says "Don't do that, do this. Don't say that, be quiet."

That's abiding and that's obedience. And when we are obedient His joy is complete in us.

There is certainly a fleeting joy in an innocent child's sweet smile and the twinkle in the eye's of a grandfather. There is joy in a pile of puppies and the embrace of a loyal friend.

But true joy. Complete joy. Joy that cannot be ripped from our hearts by anguish, betrayal, cancer, addiction, confusion ...

COMPLETE JOY that rests steadily and quietly---repeating the message "Everything will be okay, because our Father is in charge"--the joy that sustains us until the day our faith will be sight.

Oh, how He loves you and me.

Thank you, Haley White for lending me a pic of your #handletteringbyhaley.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

My Mother's Moxie

Mom and I have enjoyed a few laughs and some great conversations recently.

I learned some great kitchen shortcuts this week while visiting with her. She showed me how to peel the perfect boiled egg and a fast, easy way to "chop" an egg. Did you know all you do is place a cooling rack above your bowl and push the egg through the metal squares? Genius, I tell you!

She thinks about her kids and grandkids a lot. She remembers things like teaching Abbie new crochet stitches and early morning phone calls from Dodie.

She smiles when hearing about the great grands--would love to cuddle Dolly and kiss the back of Micah's neck. Loves hearing Lilley and Sky shout "I love you, Granny!"

It seems the people she loves--Mike, her children and their spouses, grandkids, great grandkids, Trish, her sisters--they are all on her mind. Even as she appears to be sleeping, she is thinking of the people in her life.

I asked her if she is afraid to die. She is not. Because Jesus lives in her heart, she is secure in knowing when the time comes she'll close her eyes to this world and open them to see Jesus.

Her only concern is for the people she loves. She wants us to be okay. I reminded her, if God is powerful enough to save our souls, He is powerful enough to take care of each one of us until we are together again.

She added something to our talk the other day that is ringing in my heart. She said, "I just want to know I made a difference in this world."

Oh, yes, Mom, you have and continue to make a difference. From telling strangers in the Dollar Tree that God is faithful to crochet stitches that turn into gifts of love to kitchen shortcuts.

With a twinkle in her eyes, she listened as I reminded her of her moxie that lives on in her kids and their kids ... moxie that doesn't quit. Moxie that stands up and moves forward under difficult circumstances. Moxie that looks for a better way. Moxie that makes a difference.

I suppose she verbalized what we all really want in this life ... to make a difference.

While we have today, let's just do it. Be kind to strangers. Forgive those who hurt you. Leave a big tip.

Tell the people around you that God is faithful. Be bold and tell them He is powerful enough to redeem each soul that humbly bows and believes.

I'm so thankful for my mom. I'm thankful for great memories and wonderful talks. I treasure quiet moments.

And moxie. Yeah, I'm super happy about my mother's moxie.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

These Things Were Allowed So ...

It's the biblical truth no one talks about.

Jesus gives us the answer to the why's of life in John chapter 9. But it's the answer we don't want to hear.

His disciples asked Jesus--Who sinned? This man who was born blind or his parents? Whose fault is it, Lord? Someone must be to blame.

And Jesus' answer? Neither. His blindness was allowed so that God's works might be displayed in him.

It was allowed--God didn't cause it.

The reason? So God's works might be displayed in him.

We want God to stop all the madness in the world. We pray for Him to intercede and make people do the right thing. Stop addictions, stand between people who fight with each other, say the word and remove what causes great pain.

We beg Him to keep the cells in our bodies from betraying us, turning into cancer that kills.

We pour our hearts out and even try to make deals, if He would just heal the ones we love.

We cry out to Him to help us understand.

What motivates us is right ... or is it? We just want peace and joy and happiness.

Do we want God to be glorified? Do we want His works to be displayed in us no matter the cost?

We don't want to hear that these things are allowed so God's works might be displayed in us.

I wrestle with this just like you do. I want God to display His works my way.

When your heart is broken, when you are lost in yourself, when you wish you could somehow run away from pain ... let it drive you to Jesus.

When you are sick and tired of sick and tired, when confusion has tied you up in knots, when your anger consumes you ... take it to Jesus.

We don't have to try to force the display of God's works in us. We don't have to figure out what that looks like or how it's done. No, that's all God.

All we have to do is turn to Him and not our own way of dealing with these things that cut the deepest.

But, how? It's a conversation. It's prayer. It's an open Bible and more prayer.

And it's praise. Praise? Who feels like praise when wounds are open and emotions are raw? Praise Him for what?

It can begin small--praise Him for the air you breathe, the sun, the trees, the moon and stars. Praise Him for the shoes on your feet, the milk in your fridge, the neighbors dog that wakes you up every morning.

Praise Him for the people in your life, your job, your home, and your favorite chair.

Praise Him because He keeps His promise to work in all things to bring good for those who love Him.

Praise Him and see how His works are displayed in you.

And never try to find the right words to say to those who hurt when there are no right words. Offer tears, prayers, hugs, and just be present.

One day, it will all be okay. This life that is a blip on the radar will move over for eternity. I believe in His saving grace. I believe everything the Bible says about heaven. I believe in His promises.

Oh, that God's works might be displayed in my life and yours.