Evidence

I must confess, I love a good true crime mystery! Seriously, give me a riveting 60 Minutes “Criminal Minds” broadcast or a Dateline “who-done-it” and I am totally engrossed. There is a certain thrill in watching the evidence unfold and knowing that the answers to the puzzle are just in front of you; if you only know where to look. I am forever trying to outguess the police and the detectives on these shows. Sometimes I can’t believe that they have all this evidence right in front of them and they can’t see the answer! Come on! Can’t you see that the husband’s best friend’s step-brother’s ex-girlfriend’s sister did it?! Geesh! It is soooo obvious! My husband, who has spent the majority of his life in law enforcement of one kind or the other, is not overly impressed with my figure-out-who-done-it prowess. He seems to think that I have an advantage of seeing the story unfold chronologically and in total, while the real detectives must piece it all together in a painstaking process of evidence gathering and minutia. Whatever! I think he is just jealous of my Sherlock Holmes-like intelligence!

One of the things that always amazes me is how a murder mystery can be blown open by a tiny, seemingly insignificant piece of evidence. A microscopic fiber, a droplet of blood, a slight indention where there shouldn’t be one; small pieces of evidence that pull all the other evidence into clear focus. Detectives know that a case without convincing evidence is no case at all and they will turn over every stone to find the link that will convince a jury of the truth!

Evidence.

Webster’s defines evidence as, that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.

It seems that we are always searching for the evidence of truth in our lives. We want evidence that we are loved by our spouses, evidence that our children are growing appropriately, evidence that we are valued in our work, evidence that our friends are loyal, evidence that donuts are not a health food. (Ok, so maybe that last one is just me.) We are constantly seeking proof, seeking evidence to build a foundation for our belief about ourselves and the world around us.

I believe that God knew that we would be creatures who craved proof. I believe that God created a restless spirit in each of us to seek, to search, to look for the evidence that brings his amazing love for us into clear focus.

Knowing this, he gave us an abundance of evidence!

Do you see it?

Do you see the evidence all around you? God has created a grandiose display; shouting to the universe his power, his might, and his intense love for you!

Do you see it?

The roaring ocean tides, the planets in motion, the dormancy of winter that sprouts new every spring! The breath in your lungs, the DNA that knits you perfectly and uniquely, the cry of a baby, the laughter of a child. The babe in the manger, the messiah touching lives, the savior on the cross, the defeat of death and sin, the empty tomb! Oh Hallelujah! The evidence is overwhelming! Incompressible! Undeniable! Clear, defining, proof! The solid ground for our belief!

How lucky we are to have the benefit of seeing all the evidence unfolded before us. How fortunate for us that we already know the answer to the mystery of our lives. It is all there; right there. God, who does not need us, loves us. God who hears the adulation of all creation, singularly delights in the praise of his children. God, who communes with the universe, wants to be in fellowship with us. God who gave us life, wants to give us eternity. God, the very author of love, wants to write a story of victory in our lives.

It is no mystery.

There is no “who-done-it” confusion.

There is certainty.

There is proof.

There is evidence.

There is God.

 

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Cloudy Days!

This Spring had been characterized by ridiculously confusing weather. March roared in with the only significant snow we had seen all winter, and was followed almost immediately by late-July-type -record-breaking-heat. Then we were back to cold and rainy, then hot and rainy, then frigid mornings and stifling afternoons. I honestly have had zero idea how to dress myself or my children. (Sure baby, shorts and a sweatshirt with flip flops and a ski hat look great together!)

The ONLY consistency in the weather has been a ludicrous amount of grey, gloomy days. I’m not talking about days that are simply cloudy, I am talking about heavy, grey clouds that blanket the horizon from end to end like thick, wet flannel, smothering any possible ray of light from the sky. The type of clouds that sit unmoving, stifling and weighty like a load on your shoulders. The type of clouds that make you seriously concerned that the sun may never shine again. I just can’t understand how an oppressive sheet of clouds can obliterate the light from the sun that blazes at 57 million degrees Fahrenheit, but it does…and it is awful!

One or two of these dreadful grey days are frustrating, three or four of these days are mind numbing, but weeks of dark, dreary days are completely soul crushing. My poor husband is completely baffled by my somewhat “extra” reaction to endlessly grey days. Bless his heart, he has no idea how to handle a wife who turns into a gremlin in the absence of sunlight. He just doesn’t understand, I NEED the sun! It’s not just that I like the sun, it is as if there is something deep in my spirit, down in my very bones that NEEDS THE SUN! Maybe I am part plant and have chlorophyll in my veins. Whatever it is, my spirit feels depleted when there is a constant absence of the sun.

So, what do we do when our lives begin to mirror the gloom of these densely cloudy days? When burdens, worries, and difficulties wrap us in sadness, strangling any ray of hope that may try to break through the gloom. When days of shadow turn to wretched weeks where we scan the horizon in hopeful desperation, but we just can’t see the SON.

How do we continue to believe that He is there, when we can’t see him behind the clouds in our lives? How do we find HIS light in our personal darkness?

The answer is that we wait. We wait in expectation. We wait in belief. We cling to the knowledge that HE is working on our behalf even when we can’t see him, even when we can’t feel him. We declare that just as the sun is not run from the sky by malicious clouds, the SON is not run from our lives by the savagery of our misery. We wrap ourselves in his word and cry out to his heart; and we wait. We fill our hearts with anticipation for that joyous moment when a single ray of light will burst through the despair to bathe our lifted faces in the warmth of his love and grace.

Dear ones, we were never promised endless days of sunshine, but we can stand in faith on the promise that he will never forsake us. That even in the dark, HE is still the light.

Oh, how we need the SON!

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Scars!

As I was getting ready this morning, I couldn’t help but notice once again the scar that is so prominently imprinted on my chest from the port I had placed for chemotherapy. It got me to thinking about the scars on my body and how each one of them represents something I chose to do!

For example, the scar on my right elbow is there because I chose to see if my 10-speed Schwinn would make it across the homemade ramp my brother had built. The bike didn’t soar, but I sure did!

The scar on my upper thigh is there because, come to find out, shorts aren’t much protection against road rash when you and a go-kart part ways on a hair-pin turn!

Then there are the stretchmarks that spread like spiders from carrying my children, and the slashing scars from surgery to rid my body of cancer.

Scars seem to crisscross my body like a strange roadmap of decisions I have made; each bearing witness to the choices in my life. The good and the bad.

Do you have scars that bear the truth of choices you have made?

Jesus does!

Jesus carries scars.

Scars deeply etched into his side.

Scars cruelly bludgeoned into his hands and his feet.

Scars that are constant reminders of the choice he made when he went to Calvary for you. When he went to Calvary for me.

He had a choice. He could have chosen to call a legion of angels to his side and become the warrior Savior that so many wanted him to be. He could have denied his Father’s will and turned his back on the sins of the world. But long before he came to the earth as a baby in a manger, he made the choice to lay his life down for each of us.

He chose to be judged, so that we might be found blameless.

He chose to carry the staggering weight of that rugged cross, on shoulders bloodied and gorged, so that we can lay our burdens down.

He chose to stretch out his arms and open his hands to the horrifying blows of the hammer and the vicious biting of the nails, so that we would be reminded that his arms are open to us.

He chose to die. To die an excruciating death that he had not earned and that he did not deserve, so that we could have victorious life.

Jesus’ scars.

Scars that are forever engraved on his body as a resounding message of love, grace, and mercy for each of us.

One day I will see them. One day I will place my hand in his nail-scarred hand and see the remnants of the savagery he endured for me.

One day I will see his scars and know that my Savior, my Jesus, made the choice to love a sinner like me.

Thank you, Jesus for choosing the cross.

Thank you, Jesus for choosing the death that was meant for me.

Hallelujah to the lamb that was slain!

Hallelujah to the King that rose again!

 

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Good morning? Good morning!

Mornings in my house are nothing short of ridiculous.  From the moment the alarm rudely jars me awake, the breakneck race towards the day begins.  If there is ever a time that Murphy’s Law is at its strongest in my home, it is in the mornings.  If it can go wrong, it usually does.  Spilled coffee, missing shoes, the cat escaping when we let the dog out, make up mishaps, grouchy children, and even grouchier parents.  Where is your back pack? Where are your shoes? Did anyone feed the dog? What do you mean you need poster board and Styrofoam balls for a project at school TODAY? Let’s go! Hurry up! Don’t look at me with that tone of voice, just move it!  Get in the car…get in the car…GET-IN-THE-CAR!

After the miracle of making it out of the house in a reasonable amount of time, there is the reoccurring nightmare of Northern Virginia traffic.   A continuous snarl of cars, frantically jockeying for position.  Anxiety poured over the streets in the stops and starts, the push and pull, the white-knuckle steering to avoid the ever-present hazard of ego maniacal drivers who navigate as if they are the only ones on the road.  Its enough to make the muscles in my neck bunch up, the breath catch in my lungs, and my head   pound to the rhythm of frustration.

Mornings. Are. Tough.

 

But not this morning…

This morning, my son needed to be at church by zero dark thirty.  (Bless the hearts of all Tech Team and Praise Team members that arrive before even God has had coffee on Sunday mornings!)  I drew the short straw and had to pull my carcass out of bed at a totally unreasonable hour just to get him there on time, only to race home again to ready myself and make the return trip to church.  After the typical early morning mom makeover of sweat pants, a swipe of the hairbrush, and a to-go cup of coffee, I drug myself to the car to make the way-too-early-in-the-morning drive.  My son, ever the conversationalist, stuck his earphones in his ears, retreating into his own world, leaving me to my thoughts in the silence.  As the sun had not even considered the possibility of peeking over the horizon, the darkness encased everything in stillness.  Morning fog lay heavy on the tops of the road and cocooned our trip in peace.  It was if the entire world was taking a collective expectant breath before the break of day, and the continued dizzy spin on its axis.

There was peace.

There was quiet.

There was stillness.

And I was reminded once again that God’s mercy flows in the mornings!  Here was a flawless day on which I could write any story I choose.  A new day to try again.  A new day to pursue peace.  A new day to speak love.  A new day to sing praises and seek HIS face.  It all lay before me in tranquil newness and silent expectation.

What an amazing gift from God; the chance to begin again.  In his wisdom he knew we would need to renew ourselves each day.  He knew that we would need to lay down the frenzied hours of our lives, restore our bodies with sleep, and raise our spirits to the new dawn over and over again.  Long before I filled my mornings with busyness and hectic routines, God planned it as a purposeful time of renewal.

So, this morning my first breath will not be held in frustration, but released on a song of praise.  This morning, the weight of yesterday does not have to be carried any further, but is covered in undeserved mercy.  This morning I will open my heart and attune my ears to the one who offers me JOY in the mornings.  This morning I will thank God for the grace that covers me once again.  This morning, I will rise and say, as planned by my Father all along…

Good Morning!

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Temporary Fan

This past weekend was the Super Bowl. As my team, the Dallas Cowboys, cannot seem to figure out how to get themselves together in the post-season, I didn’t have a dog in the fight in this contest between the Eagles and the Patriots. Even though I had planned to watch the spectacle simply for the commercials and the half-time show, I felt compelled to become a TEMPORARY fan of one team or the other.

I took a very scientific approach in determining which team to temporarily support and developed a short list of questions to guide my decision making.

  1. Was this the first trip to the Super Bowl for either team? (I do love an underdog.)
  2. Had either team never won a Super Bowl before? (Again, that underdog thing.)
  3. Which team has the best “stories”? (Like a quarterback who almost quit 2 years ago and now stands poised to lead his team into the Super Bowl.)
  4. And last, but certainly never least, which team has the better-looking uniforms? (Fashion is ALWAYS important!)

Using these specific calculations, I determined that for one night, and one night only, I would become a temporary fan of the Philadelphia Eagles.

As a good fan, I committed to cheering on my team; celebrating amazing plays and venting my frustration at missed opportunities. I argued with the officials about calls that went against my team and talked about the smart play calling of our coach. I urged them on with every first down and agonized at every heart stopping fourth down. I chewed my nails as I watched the time fairly fly off the clock as we painstakingly inched the ball towards the end zone in the fourth quarter, and then lamented the eons of time that we left on the clock for the Patriots. I cheered, I clapped, I gave high- fives to other fans around me, and rolled my eyes and threw serious shade at the Patriots fans in the room.

I was all in…

Sort of.

For that one game I had given it all I had, but in the light of Monday morning, my commitment to the Eagles was hardly more than lip-service about the highlights from the game around the water cooler. I certainly was not running out to buy Eagles merchandise, or converting my basement into a team shrine to the pride of Philly. Even though I had been all in for the big game, it was just for a moment.

It was temporary.

Did you know that God is a fan of YOURS? Not a temporary fan. Not a tepid fan. Not an “only for the big events” fan. A true, dedicated, sold-out, season after season fan! I mean if God wore novelty shirts he would have one with your face on it; and a big foam finger to help him celebrate that you-are-number-one!

I believe that God proudly points out “his team” to the angels and reviews the “great plays” of our day with all the hosts of heaven. I know that he is entirely delighted by our victories and deeply burdened by our defeats. I can almost see him standing on the edge of heaven cheering us on play after play; often shaking his head in exasperation as we miss clear opportunities to score. But no matter what, win, lose, or draw, he is our truest fan.

But I wonder…

I wonder if God ever feels like WE are just TEMPORARY fans of his? I wonder if he sees us show up for the big game on Sunday mornings; giving it our all in praise and worship, only to be tepid at best on Monday? I wonder if God feels like we are only temporary fans when we praise him in the light, but fail to speak his name into the dark? Does he wonder at our commitment when we only seem to “root” for him when all is well, and it is easy to do?

God wants us to be all in. He wants us to be super fans, totally focused on his awesome grace and all-consuming power. He wants us to buy the jersey and convert the room! He wants nothing less than complete devotion and praise with each breath of our lives. He is after all, the most winning coach of all time.

So, let’s be all in!

Let’s keep the fervor of God’s victories alive in our thoughts and actions each day.

Let’s cheer loudly from the bleachers, not only on Sundays, but every day of the week.

Let’s share with everyone around us all about our amazing team and recruit as many new fans to the winning side as we can.

Let’s remember that God is worthy of our Praise. Worthy of our devotion. Worthy of our worship. Steadfast in his love and devoted in his grace.

We have so much to celebrate.

Let’s not be TEMPORARY fans.

 

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Undeserved Gifts!

I love my youngest son; I really do. He is a great young man and usually a lot of fun to be around, but lately he has been plucking my last good nerve!! The boy is thirteen years old and along with being incredibly gangly, he is obviously outside of his ever-loving mind!

I am not sure when he developed the dreaded laundry-blindness disorder, but he clearly has an extreme case of it that keeps him from seeing the mounds of laundry in the middle of his floor. There is also his battle with extremity weakness that causes him to be entirely too fragile to carry the heavy weight of an empty container all the way out to the recycling bin.

Honestly, “I am going to KILL THAT BOY”, has become my almost daily mantra! I swear on two angels and a wise man, he is just about to make me lose my Christmas spirit!

Good thing I bought most of his Christmas gifts when I wasn’t so irritated with him! Bless his heart, If I were just starting my Christmas shopping today, that boy would have gotten a bunch of nothing…or maybe a pile of coal! Fortunately for him however, most of his gifts were purchased on one of his less frustrating days so he has a nice pile of gifts under the tree. Some are gifts he wanted and a few are gifts he needs, but right now he really doesn’t DESEVE any of them. Not one single one!

Christmas gifts…

Christmas is a celebration of the greatest gift ever given. The gift of restoration and salvation, sent to us by our Heavenly Father; wrapped in the form of a babe in a manger.

We certainly did not DESERVE this priceless gift. I am sure OUR constant sin must pluck the Father’s last good nerve, but in his mercy and unfailing love for us, he gave us what we needed, and not what we deserved. He delights in giving this gift to us, and I believe it gives him great joy when we recognize and accept this gift from his heart.

The amazing thing about this gift is that it is just right for everyone! There is no wrong size, no wrong color, no “it doesn’t fit”, nothing but EXACTLY what we need! It is the perfect gift, and it provides ALL we need; redemption, mercy, love, grace, hope and a direct relationship with the Father.

Unlike Christmas presents that are opened and quickly forgotten, God’s great gift is accessible and valuable all year round! All we need to do is fully accept this gift and then unwrap it in our hearts anew each day.

It is truly the gift that keeps on giving!

May this Christmas season find you waiting with open arms and an expectant heart to receive this most precious of gifts from our Heavenly Father.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great JOY for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

Luke 2: 10-12

 

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Call Home!

Something awful has happened.

I think that my son has had a tragic accident rendering his thumbs completely useless!

Yes, that must be it.

He must have had a horrible accident and he is just afraid to tell me because he knows how I worry. That would explain his lack of ability to text his mom, or return any of my texts or calls; right?!

I mean, why else would he ignore my calls and texts? Bless his heart! He is injured…I just know it!

 

The truth is that my son is very busy with a fast-paced career and a brand-new baby. I really don’t blame him for not calling home very often, but I sure do miss talking to him. I miss hearing about his day and how things are going in his life. I miss having the opportunity to tell him how proud I am of him and how deeply I love him!

Thank goodness, he has a wonderful wife! Without her I might NEVER know how he is doing!

In direct contrast to my son’s obvious inability to dial a phone, I call MY parents almost every day! I am so fortunate that I can still call them and tell them about all the craziness of my day, and hear about the things going on in their lives.

My mom is my partner in crime, and can always be counted on to be righteously indignant about anything upsetting me, while offering encouragement and support. My daddy is my fountain of knowledge and ever listening ear; and reminds me often that no matter how old I get, I will always be his little girl.

Yes, there is something deeply comforting in the ability to call home. In the ability to stay connected and have your spirit bolstered while being reminded firmly of who you are and whose you are! No matter that I am a grown woman with a grandchild of my own (It is my first grand-baby, so of course there must be a shameless plug), it is always good to call home.

I know another parent that loves to have his children call home!

Our heavenly Father anxiously waits to hear from us!

Oh, how he misses talking to us when we get consumed in our business and forget to take a moment to “call home” and chat.

He misses hearing about our day; about our worries and our concerns. He is ready and waiting to be our perfect sounding board and listening ear.

Each and every day, he listens eagerly and expectantly for us to call on him so he can remind us of how deeply he loves us, and how very proud he is that we are his children. To embed in us once more who we are and whose we are.

He has plans for our lives that he wants to share with us. He has encouragement for our weary days and a heart of celebration for our days of joy. He knows our burdens; and wants to lighten our loads and give us direction and guidance.

But he is too polite to impose…

So he waits…

He waits and he longs for us…

He waits…

For us to call home.

 

 

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