Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Guard Your Heart

In the wake of this week's tragedy in Las Vegas, I am once again grieved over the acts against fellow human beings that people are capable of. 
I have been praying for our country and our world. I have been praying for people to put aside hate and division for years now, yet the wave of hate seems to be growing instead of shrinking. We need to wake up and be conscious of the dangers of hate, and we need to be intentional about removing hate from our lives. 
Evil is all around us, and it is fueled by hate. The only way to counter hate, and therefore evil, is love... and God is love. (1 John 4:8)
Unfortunately, some people have rejected God's love, have allowed themselves to be consumed by hate, and have succumbed to evil. When we view others through a veil of hate, we cannot see their humanity, we cannot be objective. Sin/Satan wins. That is why we need laws... and prisons... and locks on our doors. That is why we need boundries. That is why we need Jesus.
I've seen far too much hate being given a pass in the name of protest or whatever the latest cause seems to be. Hate is a cancer that grows. There is no honor in hate, and it is extremely dangerous. Guard your hearts (Proverbs 4:23) because what comes out of your mouth (and your actions) comes from your heart. (Luke 6:45

Monday, September 4, 2017

Seek Peace

So, this morning's study was on Job 25 - As I near the end of the book, Bildad's misguided criticism and judgement of Job includes some words of truth. Basically, he acknowledges that God is in control and has dominion over all. We can't fully understand all that goes on, but He does. 
As things seem so out of order and full of chaos these days, Gods promise is for peace. 
I memorized Philippians 4:6 some time ago, but 4:7 shines a light on the previous verse... as we present everything to God, we may not get the answer we pray for, but God will give us a peace about whatever answer we do get.
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
Perhaps a big part of our chaos is our failure to seek His peace... just a thought.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Get in the game, but first show up at practice

Marriage is tough. Relationships between people are subject to imperfection because people are imperfect. There are more forces trying to tear marriages and families apart in our culture than ever before.
Ladd and I celebrated our 31st anniversary in March. This month it has been 15 years since the traffic stop that rocked our world. We've been down this rollercoaster and have hung on for dear life. We have not done so without battles or scars, but can honestly say that now our marriage is better and stronger than ever before. If I could give a couple of pieces of advice....
First, law enforcement life puts a strain on relationships to begin with. Of course there’s the odd schedules with hold overs and call outs, particularly on holidays, birthdays and first dates. And it is well known that there’s an ever present danger cloud hovering. Perhaps more subtle strains come from some of the very things that draw law enforcement couples together in the first place. LEO'S are take charge sort of folks...they have to be. LEO spouses are independent sorts... they have to be. It takes a lot for these 2 types to be vulnerable. When a family is rocked and one is forced to become vulnerable due to injury or illness, that person often lashes out at the only one he/she feels "safe" to be vulnerable with. When much is ripped away, the hurt and anger come out, and resentment can settle in... and it's easiest to focus that on the one you feel safe to be vulnerable with. "Easiest" is relative, those lash outs still damage, hurt, leave scars and require much grace, love and forgiveness.
Second, Injury does not just effect the injured. Everyone in the family is effected, and changed. Recovery and finding the new normal isn't a solo sport, it's a team effort. You may need to back up and start over in a lot of ways. Step back and realize/remember... you are not each other's enemies. You are on the same team, but you can't just show up at the game and expect to play... let alone win. Winning teams are committed to show up at practice, do the drills, and work through the tough stuff.
My sport is basketball, and I've never known anyone who wants to play with a ball hog... and ball hogs rarely realize they are part of the problem working against the team. 
My advice... go back to fundamentals.
Start with dating again... get to know the "new" people you are. Be intentional. Relationships are not about keeping score between team members. They are about each member giving it their best effort. Sometimes we loose. Sometimes we have a slump. Winning teams are made up of members that make their teammates shine.
Just some reflection after pondering the fact that there is a lot of hurt out there, and hoping to offer a bit of encouragement. 
Get in the game, but first, show up at practice!

The Destruction of Hate

For the past couple of weeks I have been reading and studying the book of Esther. This has caused me to reflect on how hate and bitterness consumed Haman. Hate and bitterness are powerful emotions that, especially when combined with pride, can take over sound judgement, logic and rational thought process... take over a person. These emotions form a slippery slope that burry love, compassion, grace, mercy beneath the avalanch of evil. 
As I read and reflect, my heart aches for those caught on Haman's slippery slope today. One only needs to turn on a TV or open a paper... let alone open social media... to see evidence of how hate consumes and blinds. Hate is a tried and true tool that Satan has been using for centuries. It breaks my heart to see so much evidence of his work all around us.
I pray that people would seek the fruits of the Holy Spirit more than ever, and that they would allow these fruits - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self control  - to flourish and overpower hate.
I pray that hate would not continue to blind, and that Haman's story would not be the story of our time. 

I pray that evil would be exposed and hate driven agendas would be thwarted.
I pray that the wounds of hate may be healed before they destroy.
I pray that the cancer of hate would not spread and that the scars of hate would diminish as hate is put aside.
I pray that the destruction that hate brings would be replaced by the restoration of kindness, gentleness and self control

Friday, July 7, 2017

Dependence Day... Every Day for 15 Years and Counting

July 6, 2002... Fifteen years ago life as we knew it was turned upside down and inside out. Every day since that day has been a reminder of dependence... on God more than on others and on ourselves, as we step out in faith at His calling.

For our family, everything since that day has been measured as time either before or after that day. I am so proud of the perserverance that Ladd has shown, and continues to show every day since Dependence Day 2002.

I've learned a lot in these years "since the accident". Lessons about about life, faith, Ladd, myself, friendship, love, compassion, forgiveness, worry, letting go, patience, pain, and laughter... to name a few. God has taught me perserverance, and given me strength. (Yes, I am weak, but not because I am a Christian. Rather, I am only strong because I am a Christian.)

The opportunities that God has opened for us through this journey have been clearly His work. The sheer number of people and circumstances needed to come together to allign at the right time and with the right information and experience are nothing but His work, and it is humbling to be a part of what He is doing.

As we work on behalf of critically injured law enforcement officers and their families, first with our own small voices, then with Hunting for Heroes, and now with How2LoveYourCop and Wounded Officers Initiative; we are encouraged and bolstered by the stories of heroes who have sacrificed so much for communities across the country and world. We have met men and women who have run into danger and made their communities safer and better, yet have been tossed aside once they could no longer stand the front line. This needs change. These heroes need help, and we are committed to leave no man/woman behind.

Thank you to all who have supported, prayed for and encouraged us along this journey.

Today stories of hate towards authority and accountability are only overshadowed by stories of compassion, resilience, and perserverance. Let your story be one that builds others up, not one that tears others down. Let your story be one of strength through dependence. God bless!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Let me spit where I want... a lesson from my dad

It may seem like I'm being helpful to hold a container close for my dad to spit in when he's brushing his teeth. But... I'm not helping him by insisting he do it my way. If he wants to lean in from his wheelchair to spit in the sink, then my job us to push his chair closer to the sink so he's in a position to spit.
When someone loses their independence, suddenly the little things mean so much more. If we as caregivers fail to see this, we can find ourselves fighting unnecessary battles.
If we as caregivers get absorbed in how we do things just to get them done, we can create agitation, defensiveness and resistance. We can miss the opportunity to empower the person we are caring for. We can miss the blessing of helping them maintain control over some part of their life... when the little things are huge things, we need to be aware of the little things.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Searching for Hope

As I look at the headlines and all that is in our news these days...
As I talk to those who have experienced great loss and/or are walking through extremely difficult times...
As I hear about those who have driven themselves to overwhelming fear over what might be...
I am convinced of one thing. We need HOPE.
So, I decided to do a word study on hope. Here's what I found.

First, I turned to a concordance and found "hope" in both the old and new testaments - familiar verses that inspired me to dig in.
Next, I typed "hope" into a Google search. Yikes! Aside from the definitions, that included the word archaic in more than one instance; many of the items Google returned referenced lack of hope, loss of hope and illusion of hope.
Using a graphing utility that searches text and literature over time, this chart reflects the usage of the word hope over time.

Usage of the word hope in English literature

Interestingly, we seem to be searching for and using the word a bit more these days. It appears that we are searching for hope and lamenting a lack of hope. Is a lack of hope the result of the negative culture we live in? Or, is the negative culture a result of our lack of hope? I believe it is the later, and that our lack of hope is actually due to our misguided focus on where, whom, or what we attempt to find our hope in.

We need hope in order to sort out meaning, purpose, goals, vision, future. God created us to be hopeful beings. He created us to desire, to expect, to dream. But, where do we place our hope?
No person can be all to everyone. People disappoint. We make mistakes. We step on each others toes and we put our own feet in our mouths.
No thing can be the source of our hope. Things break, expire, become obsolete.
We can't find lasting hope in a place. Places change. Fires, tornadoes and floods continually are at work changing places.
So... what always was, is and will be? What can we put hope in that doesn't change, doesn't expire, doesn't erode? God's word has never changed since the beginning of time. Some say God's word is archaic. Hmmm.. there's that word again. Are these the same people who say that hope is archaic? Are they the same who write their articles about lack of hope and hopelessness?
Let's start in the old testament and work forward through 4 verses that talk about the hope that God created us to have.

Psalm 42:5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. 

David was a man who, buy all worldly standards, should have been hopeless. He was singled out and hunted down by a man who was jealous and fueled by hate. Yet, David was hopeful. Sure, he had his moments of questioning God's plan and his own purpose, but his hope was grounded in God. This Psalm is about David setting his mind back into perspective. It's about him reminding himself not to be discouraged because his hope is in God, not his circumstances or others. He's reminding himself, and us, that no matter what our circumstances or how bleak the situation, there is a foundation of hope in God that cannot be shaken or broken. That hope is a source of joy, comfort and a reason to persevere that nobody can take from him. It is hope that the hate of others cannot defeat. It is hope that doesn't expire, change or ever run out.

Isiah 40:31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

I love this passage. The preceding verses talk about weariness, weakness and stumbling These are the very things that these articles about hopelessness are rooted in. Yet, the solution, the inspiration to persevere in spite of weariness is hope in the Lord. 
Listen to this "Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." (emphasis is mine)
Do I know what weariness really is? I think so. (Of course if I look around there are certainly those with far more to be weary from.... those imprisoned for their faith under horrible conditions, those who are driven from their homes and persecuted for simply believing in God, those whose businesses are shut down because they don't want to compromise their own beliefs)
Yet, I am weary. I am in a particularly weary time of my life right now... a good reason for the timing of the word study on hope.
Putting my trust in the Lord and knowing that He is the same today as He will be tomorrow; that He is truth, strengthens me. Seeking His guidance, direction and balance grounds me. Knowing His plan is bigger than me and bigger than now, restores my hope. Mercy, forgiveness and eternity are His. This frees me to hope.

1 Corinthians 15:19 
 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

This verse follows verses that talk about Jesus' death and resurrection. These verses talk about how futile (hopeless) faith would be if Jesus had not in fact been raised from the dead for the forgiveness of our sins. This verse talks about how sad our hope would be if it were merely for this life - in the people, places and things that surround us - rather than for eternity with Christ. No matter what happens in this world, no matter what falls apart, fails, breaks down or is destroyed by selfish people, I know that there is another place waiting beyond this present where evil does not exist - where weariness and pain do not exist. That hope in eternity is a greater hope than hope in the present.

Hebrews 11:1 
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.

This is where my hope lies - faith, certainty - I know that I know. 
God's word is true.
God's word is unchanging.
God's son is Jesus.
Jesus lived and died for me.
God's Holy Spirit is with me.
I am a sinner and make mistakes, but I am forgiven.

This world is not my forever home. Won't you be my neighbor?