Playing with purpose

Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.


Lucinda

Lately, writing has been somewhat overwhelming. Not in the recording of the words, but in the ability to successfully transcribe them from my mind on to paper. Today is no different, but the memory of my friend Lucinda Self haunts the halls of my thoughts. I miss her.

My friendship with Lucinda is one of the mysteries of my life. Nothing about her should have meshed with me. But it did. She was intelligent but homegrown; schooled by the experiences of a less than perfect childhood. She could hold her own in conversations with schooled, unschooled. Liberal and Conservatives. Male and females.

She had an uncanny knack for seeming to float when she walked. Which few big women are able to accomplish. I know of few heavy women capable of such grace. My Auntie Curly Mason, Mother Phillip Porter I, and Lucinda. People truly liked Cindy. That smile and her kindness could be disarming.

I was assigned the desk located in front of her desk. I can’t remember when but we begin to form a fellowship. Giggling about the same moments and eventually sharing tidbits of our lives. I discovered painful memories of the father she felt had abandoned her while prattling on one day about the comfort that I knew from the Lord. How GOD had balanced out the unevenness that came with my upbringing. I turned to emphasize what I was saying to discover tears rolling down her cheeks. Without thinking I went back to her seat and wrapped my arms around her.

Kindness and honesty are such prerequisites when being with others. You can never know, fully know, the burden of another person’s heart. But years after her death at 42; I remain blessed by her presence in my life. And in my heart. Lucinda is the best friend I have ever had. The older sister I had never experienced. A meshing of hearts that defied all social idioms, age, economics, education, beliefs, physical size, and race.

One day while training Lucinda fell fatally ill. She complained of a persistent headache that had ridden her for three days. We had just returned after a holiday weekend, I believe Memorial day. Our Department Supervisor had taken more time off, and I insisted that she go into his office and try to sleep. She did for around two hours and then returned to my training. I was to cover her desk during an extended vacation she had planned with her husband, Steve.

Though I was already acting as her back up and support, Cindy wanted to be sure I could perform all the work in her absence. So, I worked by her side as she watched and offered suggestions. I knew that her headache had only abated but not ended as I had hoped. Suddenly she leaned forward her head in her hands and said, “I think I just had a stroke.”

Looking into her flushed face I insisted. My mother had suffered strokes I told her; “but you look too pretty and healthy, I don’t think you have had a stroke!” Suddenly rising from her seat she declared she was going to be sick and rushed out to the Ladies restroom down the hall.

Because it was about 3:30 p.m., and time to pick my Kassie up from school. I rushed to our assistant Supervisor and told her Cindy was sick in the bathroom but I needed to leave.

When I returned and had settled Kassie in our lobby to wait until 5 pm, I returned to our office to discover Lucinda had been rushed by ambulance to the hospital. After work, I found where she was located and made my way there. I had been told by the assistant supervisor that Cindy’s husband was discouraging visitors, but I was confident that it did not apply to me and so I went.

It was at the hospital I would discover that she was in ICU; the plant I had brought was confiscated at the nurse’s desk. True enough when I entered the room I saw irritation flash briefly across her husband’s face.

He updated me in muted tones about her condition. In the bed, my friend’s body thrashed and flipped back and forth. Steve explained that she was in pain and could not find a position of comfort. We set silent, witnesses to the despair.

I did not linger as I did not want to add to her discomfort or his. He had told us she would not want to be seen in her condition. I had almost exited the room when I turned back and asked if I could hold her hand for a moment. He agreed.

As I held her hand I begin to silently pray. And as I prayed Lucinda’s thrashing subsided and then ended. As if she was listening to the words of my petition to GOD. After my prayer ended, my friend’s body still and quiet. I left the room. I would never see her alive again. Two days later her husband called and told the Supervisor she had passed.

Unbeknownst to me; her death would be a catalyst in my life. But that’s another story for another time. Today, I just want to honor the gift of her life to me. I want to testify to the amazing union between me and my sister who came via a different father and mother. Thank you, Lord; I really needed that!


Excerpt from Boldly Going

“What is unknown should upon knowing change us. Not make us like petulant children insisting all that is known should follow the parameters of our knowing. Is unbelief the domain of the limited mind that refuses to know the unlimited; because it is so clearly beyond our ability to control and claim as original to our existence?

The downfall to ‘free-will’ is the danger in concluding it is more than choice. And the delusion that it could ever mean we decide what the choices are by the evolution of our living.”


Just Remember

Do you find that no matter how many times the Lord has proven His faithfulness; when the next situation arises trust is not always your “go to spot”? Truly it pays to be watchful in prayer. Sometimes it takes me a “beat” to settle down and remember; GOD has it all in control. My very human response is to search and destroy. Stomach twisting, heart beating wildly. I am fully engaged in a battle that is yet just an assumption and a 2:00 am afterthought. By instinct, I look for the person to blame. The person to defeat and destroy.

Sitting in the loo is usually where my sanity begins to return. Just a place of simple but necessary existence reminds me of how I got over the last time. That remembrance allows me to step away from my anger, resentment, pain, and revengefulness. The mind of CHRIST makes itself known and I settle down into the confidence of His presence. I know whatever may come my true treasure, my true value remains intact in JESUS.

I just want to remember to not fight battles that the Lord has already won for me. To not wrestle against flesh and blood. Even if I am the flesh and blood. To allow vengeance to belong solely to the Lord. Nobody and I mean, nobody, can get it dripped and dried like the Lord.

“I trust in GOD I know He cares for me. Upon the land or even the stormy sea. Billows may roll, he keeps my soul. My heavenly Father watches over me! ” Paraphrased, William C. Martin and Charles H. Gabriel,1910.


While in the Hog Pen

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
*As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
*Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
*For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
*Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35-39.

WHENEVER I read the passage above I always note that it does not include personal sin. It does not absolve the effect my ‘besetting’ sin has on the relationship with GOD. Being a Prodigal is a real condition; established by personal sin.

it would be wrong for me to conclude that I can not die while in the ‘hog pen’, and it would be a huge mistake to think that my separation from GOD indicates a failure on GOD’s part.

Romans 8 offers the assurance of GOD’s presence. It does not offer the assurance that my behavior won’t carry me far from the home I love and need.

But what is equally comforting is understanding that it was while in the hog pen, desperate with hunger and despair; that the Prodigal heart returned to the Father and home. It was not after he had arrived home. It was at the hog pen. It was in that hog pen restoration from the cankerworm began. Luke 15:15-20.

Nothing has the power to separate us from the love of JESUS, but we can walk away on our own. That is the effect and burden of wrongly exercising free will. Turn your heart towards home and run for your life.


Consumed By Love

I recently mentioned to a friend how grief had found me after my oldest sister, Lina had died. How I stood at my window looking West gazing into the brilliance of a setting sun and begin praying for my sister. As this had been my custom. My sister had the spirit of a true gypsy and often we had no idea where she was or who she was with. But I knew that prayer could find her wherever and so it was my custom to pray for my sister.

But as I prayed that day, a wee small voice said; “she doesn’t need your prayers anymore.” The pain from that certainty was tangible. My sister no longer needed me. But even now I need to be needed.

Today, an obvious truth is clear. Something as powerful as love must be passed on. If it is not passed forward it will lock your heart, mind, and soul in the place where the previous recipient left you behind. Can love imprison us? We are living proof that it can. We visit stones and urns of memorial. Weeping tears over past days. Offering homage to what amounts to prayers over decaying flesh or decimated bone dust. We act as if the physical body somehow connects us to the one we love. It does not.

Assumptions that action born of our love for a person are a betrayal if we act that way with someone new, will hide and cloak the true nature of love. Love is not what we do with people, love is the motivation for why. Not by planning but by its true nature Love will grow and mushroom about you like indestructible yeast. It must be given away to be harnessed and healthy.

Loving is core to humans and from our hearts, it shapes us far more than it will shape others. It’s face is recognizable by the needs of the relationship with another, not the nature of a previous relationship. Loving is beyond the ability to betray.

So, I have appointed a new recipient for my custom of setting sun prayers. I am removing the cobwebs from this act of love and receiving the same soul-satisfying benefit from the effort. Love is ingrained in each of us. Find an outlet for it, find many homes for it to abide within or it will lock you down where you stand.


Relatable

Because the awareness of GOD is relationship; believing in GOD or not believing in GOD does not establish nor disperse the relationship. Instead, it classifies the relationship. Sweet, great, good, bad, or ugly the relationship is undeniable. In that relationship GOD’s part remains obvious. GOD is faithful. Despite our choices, we are not immediately consumed. Despite our rejections we are still loved. The question that begs to be answered is not whether we can trust GOD, but whether GOD can trust us?


“A Workman that Needeth not be Ashamed”

It is beyond naivete to believe the devil will not quote scriptures, thump a Bible, or sing a hymn. He’s the dang-gum prince of the power of the air. Ephesians 2:2. You think he can’t be found in a church?

He can. Job 2:1. Humans are not a challenge. The only place you can find the fairytale that we are; is in the book of Hollywood, chapter one verse 1-indeterminately.

He can hide so well that he will declare his love for GOD using your mouth as his quotation marks!

“Rock of Ages cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee!” Augustus M. Toplady, 1740-1778.