Boxes of Stuff

A dear friend of mine recently suffered the loss of a family member, her sweet mother-in-law.  Though Opal was 89 years old and ready to be in heaven with Jesus, it was still a huge loss of someone dear.  I’d had the privilege of meeting Opal and visiting with her several times over the past few years each time she came to visit. Her love for her family and the Lord was evident in every conversation.

My friend shared with me how difficult it was on their family, going through all of the belongings, dividing them up with the other family members and closing up the house.  Afterward she was struck at the result of Opal’s long life being condensed to a single box of things for each of the grown children, one of which was now at her home.

Of course it reminded me of when my son died and all of his belongings were shipped to our home.  First it was four trunks from Iraq, and then a big crate and two more trunks came from Hawaii where he had been stationed during his army career.  Some things were easy to go through, beat up single-guy furniture and surfing magazines – no problem. It took some time and many tears to go through the personal items but we managed to go through them all. His brother took the things he wanted and we gave a few items to a cousin or two. Most all of it we kept, but we did get the number of trunks down a couple and probably could do more, but the willingness to do so has not come as yet.

When we step back and see that our loved one’s whole life whether 23 short years or 89 long years, the question is the same.  How can someone so amazing be whittled down to a box or two? It doesn’t seem possible, yet if we step back a bit further, we know that the box is not the person, it is just a box full of stuff.  Granted, full of our loved ones’ stuff, but it’s still only stuff.

Opal was much bigger, much more precious than any box could hold.  Her memory is too. My son’s life, though only 23 years long, was so much bigger and far more dynamic than any trunk could hold.  Thank goodness we can’t put our memories in a box and store them away.

Thoughts and memories of Garrett, funny things he said or did, come to me daily.  I really never know what will bring a memory to mind, but they are always welcome and cherished.  I’m fairly certain that is the case with my friends’ family as well.

There have been quite a few more families in my community experiencing this very thing lately.  Losing a cherished loved one, going through and boxing up their things. We all have to face this from time to time in our lives.

Thankfully, we hold their memories in our hearts and that can never be boxed.  Because the truth is, the boxes hold their earthly treasures and we know our loved ones, as believers in Jesus Christ,  are in heaven where the real treasure lies.

Matthew 6:19–21  “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

 

Talking to God

My God can take anything that I need to say to Him.  I don’t have to sugar coat it, think it through, practice it, I just need to voice it.  There is nothing I can say that will change that He loves me or how much He loves me.  Nothing can take me from His hand (Romans 8:37-39) including my own words spoken while in the pain of a heart breaking moment.  He loves me that much, enough to allow me, even encourage me, to speak up and let Him know my thoughts and feelings, my deepest hurts and disappointments, and what I’m angry about.

I learned that God can take anything I need to say to Him during the darkest, most difficult days of my life, when my precious son Garrett was killed in action.

The anger hit and it hit full force. I came to know an even more loving God than I’d known before.  There were lots of “WHY?” and “Why MY son?” “Out of hundreds of thousands of soldiers, you let MY son die!”  I would scream and cry and scream some more. I accused Him of not listening to me or answering my prayers. Many, many people had prayed in agreement for Garrett’s protection and safe return home.  But NO, God had to take him home….home. Why?

Some days it helped me to go out to the backyard, pull weeds and talk to God.  I would rip those weeds out of the ground with a vengeance and pray for answers.  Other days, I would throw clay pots on the concrete drive in the back of the house and talk to God. There is something about breaking those pots that proved to be a great stress reliever.  (I highly recommend it!) Some days our talks grew pretty loud. I’ve wondered and laughed at what my neighbors were thinking when they heard me.

I have to admit, a  few times I wondered if I had overstepped the boundaries with God. How could I, this filthy rag servant, be so bold to speak to the King of Kings and Creator of Everything this way.  But every time I wondered, I would hear Him say, “It’s okay, darlin’, tell me everything. I know you’re hurting and you don’t understand. Just keep talking to me.” If I had stopped talking to God, I’m certain that I would not be here today.  But since I did keep praying, I’m certain that is the reason why I am healthy and have come this far in my healing.

He is so good, so faithful.  So when you have the thought that you need to pray a certain way or you worry about how to say what you need to say, stop right there.  Know that He wants to hear from you, however it comes out. Just talk to Him.

The Word says in Hebrews 4:16 to, “Come boldly before the throne of Grace”.

He means it.

And in I Peter 5:7, “Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.”

He means it.

He’s a big, big God.  He can take it. Talk to Him and be blessed.

 

If this spoke to you today, share it with a friend, it may speak to them as well.

Up A Tree

I was such a tomboy when I was a little girl.  I had dolls, Barbies and girly stuff , but I really enjoyed playing with my brother’s trucks too.  

Our yard was the yard.  Everyone played in our yard.  Our house was in the middle of the block and our yard was flat and perfect for all sports.  We played football in the front and baseball in the backyard. Four-square was a big fun and our double driveway was the perfect size for that too.

I thought that I was pretty tough playing all the games alongside the boys of the neighborhood.  A few of the other girls played sometimes but it was mostly me and the boys.

There was a tree between our house and our neighbors house.  We climbed it often just like the other big trees on our street.  One day things just didn’t go as they usually did. I climbed way up in the tree and scouted about but when it was time to come down, well, I couldn’t do it.  My friends tried to talk me down, telling me where to put my feet and which branch to hold onto next, but it didn’t work. I just couldn’t do it, I was scared! Nothing they said helped.  I held on tighter with each suggestion.

Finally, I cried out, “Go get my daddy!”  

Daddy came outside to see what was the matter.  He tried to talk me down just like my friends had done, but I still couldn’t do it. After awhile he was getting a little frustrated and he said, “Patti-cake, you’re just going to have to trust me.  Jump, I’ll catch you.”

 

Sometimes when I’ve messed things up because I’ve gotten too sure of myself and made decisions without praying about it first or acted on what I thought was a good idea instead of talking to God about it first and waiting on His answer,  is when I call out for help from my heavenly Daddy.   

Then after His gentle redirection I can almost hear Him say, “Patti-cake, you’re just going to have to trust me.”

No matter how tough we think we are, no matter how much we think ‘we’ve got this’, God is still the one I cry out to for help when I – get stuck up in a tree.  You can trust Him too.   Proverbs 3:5-6, verses that are a favorite of  mine come to mind, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

In other words, trust Him and jump – He’ll catch you~!