If You Give a Sanguine a Marker, She Might Change the World!

C text room wreck

“Everything looks like junk to me and treasure to her!” my husband vented in a text to me, while he was trying to help my daughter finish packing her room for our move across town. Our family’s recent move put us all into fights and flights – where personality differences are most evident.

Bedroom door decor

Bedroom door decor

A flurry of creative design, my sanguine daughter’s bedroom is a sight to behold. I pray daily that I will see God’s design in that “butterfly”, and allow it to fly, while teaching her (age eleven) the necessities of being a future wife and mother who lives on THIS earth, even if her mind lives elsewhere. Today, I found cut up toilet paper inserts, decorated with cupcake papers to create perfect little owls. She also took two advertisement magazines I thought I had discarded and cut them apart to mix and match. The clothing models looked like they were ready to take a rest in Pottery Barn magazine’s color-coordinated beds. Where does she come up with this?!! Look out, world, if she ever finds Pinterest!

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine's ad.

The model on this magazine cover is cut out and pasted from a different magazine’s ad.

So how was she supposed to pack her room? How could she part with toilet paper inserts, advertisement magazines, coffee cans and the rest of what she must have absconded from the recycle bin in the garage?! She told me her room was “completely packed,” so I went to inspect. I found one gigantic box in the middle of her floor, full of those “recyclable treasures,” but not one stitch of clothing was packed; her bed was still made; the toothbrush must have seemed optional along with her school books, because nothing was packed except the “treasures.”

My choleric son (age fourteen), however, was “done packing” exactly oneIMG_5417 half -hour after I had asked him to start. The hallway outside of his room was lined with trash bags, labeled, “throw away.” I think he wanted to save six or seven shirts, and the rest he didn’t think worthy of unpacking in the new house, (or giving as hand-me-downs to his younger brother which I always do) so he wanted them out of his way – choleric style. DONE! (I pray A LOT for his future wife, LOL! And, I filed the clothes away as hand-me-downs.)

Today’s story of my butterfly’s latest flight began because during the packing weeks, she found the brand new markers – black, blue and red – and the way Miss Kristen (who was helping us pack) was using them to label every box as she packed. My daughter wanted to be where there were people – not in her room where she was supposed to be packing; so Butterfly began drawing on the boxes. She was thrilled to have markers with ink (since they hadn’t been lost, and nobody had left the caps off…yet) and she wrote …and wrote….and wrote. I didn’t stop her, because honestly, I knew that if she were with Kristen or me where we were packing, she wasn’t somewhere confiscating the bubblewrap for future crafts.

Butterfly’s writing on the boxes was a little different than Miss Kristen’s or mine. Ours said simply,

“FROM: old living room.

TO: new family room.

CONTENTS: photo albums.”

Butterfly’s messages were more like

“Smile! God is with you!”

“Turn that frown upside down!”

“The sun will come out tomorrow! Look up!”

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I was amused with her continuously encouraging words and wondered who she thought would read them. (Though I was reading them…and they had blessed me already!)

That’s when I noticed her younger brother had picked up on the trend. He drew big smiley faces, or cartoons with talking bubbles, making the readers (including me!) laugh.

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IMG_5454Miss Kristen was uplifted as she packed books…thousands of books…into boxes, each one being decorated as soon as it received its closing tape.

“Who are you writing those messages to?” I asked my daughter as she fluttered from one box to the next.

“Well, aren’t people going to move these boxes?” she asked.

“Yes, we will have movers,” I said.

“Yep, then I think they are the ones who will read it. But really, whoever God wants to read them!” she said with delight as she saw another room full of boxes she had not yet decorated.

I continued working, huffing a little on the inside, debating whether I should force her into aIMG_5451 working mode, instead of a coloring mode, but grateful for her joyous spirit. As a mother, it seems like a constant debate for me: when do I let my task-oriented personality reign, and when should I let them flutter in their own personalities?

Moving day arrived, and our house was covered with the most artistic moving boxes imaginable. The men quickly filled the house, moving box after box onto the truck. Day one was New Year’s Eve, originally planned to move only the piano, but boxes went onto the truck…rode for four miles and then were mixed up and taken by different hands off of the truck. I wondered if the men noticed the messages.

By the time the movers resumed January 2nd, it was an entirely new crew of men. This next crew loaded the truck again with boxes. As darkness fell, they drove four miles and unloaded the same boxes…different hands touching each one.

An underestimation of truck size caused need for yet another day of moving, so another IMG_5453set of men arrived on the third day to load and unload more boxes… and the messages they carried.   As they walked by me in the foyer of the new house, the movers asked me to confirm the destination room of each box they held. I giggled at my 9-yr-old’s jokes on the side of the box, “Two movers walked into a …oops! Watch where you are going!”

Next was the unpacking – as more hands made the work light, and boxes were unpacked one by one. Even I – who had been looking at boxes for weeks – was amused by each of the boxes’ messages. SMILE! Kept going through my head.

When the boxes were unpacked, they were broken down and stacked in enormous piles in the garage. We offered them on Craigslist, and takers came within a couple of hours. The first was moving to Boston. The second was putting their house in storage while they rented, deciding if it would work out to retire in Florida. The third couple was starry eyed about moving to Oregon to start life together. Their dreadlocks and tattoos would probably not have been my daughter’s usual circle of influence, but they took her decorated boxes.

As I walked away from loading the last of the empty boxes into someone else’s car, I was IMG_5456in awe of my daughter’s God-given ability to encourage; she had no selfish ambition in her coloring (although she definitely received joy in the giving process). She has often said her goal is to “Spread Smiles” with her life.

If you give Christine a marker…

She might write some words…

Which will make her brother write…

Which will make her mother smile…

And Miss Kristen will smile…

And the movers who load the first truck will smile…

Which will make their wives smile when they get home…

The boxes will make the other workers smile while they unload the truck…

The unpackers of the boxes will smile while piling the now empty boxes into the garage, where…

More people will smile while they load the boxes into their cars…

Where the boxes will ride to another house to be packed…

And then their movers will smile while they load the boxes onto a new truck…

Where the boxes will ride to Oregon…or Boston…or eventually Florida…

Where the boxes will be unloaded by smiling workers,…

And unpacked by a family in a new place, where hopefully they are reading the words and smiling…

at the influence of a smiling 11-yr-old girl in North Carolina.

 

If you give a sanguine a marker, she just might change the world!

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Smiles,

Terri

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Disposing of my Disposition (Personalities Through the Lens of Me)

Dear Lindsey,

The personality differences have always amused me. I have read many personality plusmarriage books, not because our marriage seems in need, but because I want to be all my husband needs ( :) ). Although I have favorites, (What Did You Expect?, Love and Respect and Becoming the Woman of His Dreams) no books have done so much for my role in my marriage as Personality Plus (Florence Littauer). I could say that this book rivals for top position in all of my parenting books as well. Why? Because my own personality had blinded me, creating a distorted view heading for relational disaster…in most relationships. And don’t marriage and parenting rank as the most important relationships I have?

Though I highly recommend you read the book to get the full extent of how to work well with the personalities surrounding you, the brief summary of characteristics is this:

If we took a set group of people and played Twenty Questions with only yes/no answers, the population would fall into two groups: those who are task-oriented and those who are people-oriented. (Left and Right side of the diagram below.)

Those two groups can then be divided again into two groups: Introverted (enjoying being alone) and extroverted (comes alive in a group of people), shown as the top and bottom of the diagram. I am on the line between these two…depending on how much chocolate and/or sunshine I have had. :)

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Of those four created quadrants, there are four personalities:

“Melancholy” is the task-oriented introvert.

  • Strengths: detail-oriented, self-disciplined, can be musicians.
  • Weaknesses: None. (just kidding – I am a Melancholy, and like to think I am perfect!) A Melancholy’s weaknesses are that tasks often get more attention than people’s needs. Can be obsessive-compulsive and inflexible.
  • Motto: “Anything worth doing is worth doing perfectly!”

NOTE: I think it is funny that I wrote about Melancholy first. AND I put it in the top left quadrant – the premier place. I assume it is how we are: we put our own personality in the limelight and then adjust the rest around us!

“Choleric” is the task-oriented extrovert.

  • Strengths: self-driven, gains followers quickly, gets the job done.
  • Weaknesses: Can run over people while “getting the job done.” Can be bossy.
  • Motto: “Get it done…NOW! And Hurry!”

“Phlegmatic” is the people-oriented introvert.

In other words: he or she loves and adores people, but doesn’t need to be in the limelight at all.

  • Strengths: Gets along with everyone, great team player, easy to be with, flexible
  • Weaknesses: Can be lazy, un-dependable or have difficulty making decisions.
  • Motto: “Yes. Unless you prefer no, then no. Why is everybody going so fast?”

“Sanguine” is the people-oriented extrovert.

  • Strengths: A blast to be around! Creative genius! Caring
  • Weaknesses: Loses keys…to the car, to the job, to life. He or she may battle with dishonesty and lack of integrity – when facts are fudged, because frankly, it just makes the story better.
  • Motto: “Wooooo hoooooo!!!!!!!!”

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Of course, even with four groups of personalities, there are unlimited variations. I am mostly melancholy with a lot of sanguine – which means I am split between exact opposite quadrants. One book said I was “dysfunctional.” I always knew I was a “misfit toy”! However, it was the way God made me – and I will do my best with my “dysfunctionality”!

The first time I read the book, it was about ME.  Therefore, I:

  1. Took offense that someone thought I deserved a label.
  2. Recognized a little of myself somewhere in it, and decided maybe the label fit.
  3. Was entertained by how much they knew me.

The second time I read looking for traits of family and coworkers. I realized my mother’s sanguine side is what made her invite the entire church over for lunch…with no notice except that she thought of the idea that day.  Phlegmatic was the friend of my son (since opposites attract!) who wouldn’t tell me whether he wanted mustard or ketchup on his hotdog and instead looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.

The third time I read the books I had a goal to diminish my weaknesses and magnify the strengths in those around me. It became a game. Have fun with it! The purpose of the book is not to label someone into a box, but to learn how to best deal with people who are naturally in their own box. If I notice the only people I get along with are Phlegmatics (who get along with everybody!), then I may have a problem! If I realize that I only admire people who fall into the same quadrant as myself, then I better work to expand myself to see strengths in other quadrants! The Bible says we should go into all the world…not “make everybody come into my world.” Don’t read to find out who you are, but read to find out who you can be! I became a better wife and mother when I learned how to not only identify and diminish my weaknesses but truly appreciate the strengths of my husband and kids!

Personality Clashes

How did knowing personalities help my marriage?

I noticed that according to the book, a weakness of my Melancholy personality is that I can be oversensitive, or assume things are about me. (Really? There’s something not about me?! ) Someone can say, “The sky is blue,” and a hyper-melancholy will take insult because she has brown eyes, so the person is obviously saying that he doesn’t like her brown eyes. OK, I exaggerate, but you get the point.

Isn’t it funny that God would marry a Melancholy like myself with a images-1Choleric? Watch the weaknesses line up: If a Choleric “runs over people” and a Melancholy “takes offense at small bumps” I was feeling dead on a highway under a steam roller. How’s that for a marriage?

After studying personalities, I started noticing the phenomenon.

I was cooking one day, obviously, stirring a pot on the stove, when my husband accessed the drawer on the other side of the stove to get out a spoon. He cut in front of me, bumped me backwards, so I obviously had to stop stirring, and he retrieved his spoon, never saying anything, or acknowledging me, and left.

The old me would have been hurt. “He did it on purpose to disrespect me. He obviously thinks cooking is not as important as whatever he is doing. He obviously doesn’t value me. (Aside: ‘Obviously’ was one of my favorite observational words back then, but I learned that “obvious” is not so obvious with other personalities. My common sense was not common – just “mine”!) Maybe I should let him be on his own for dinner tomorrow night, since he obviously doesn’t honor the role of cook?!”

Having the value of these personality books fresh in my arsenal, I said to my husband, “I know you didn’t do that on purpose to hurt me.”

He looked like a deer caught in the headlights.  There was a LONG silent pause while I could see the gears in his brain turning, not sure if those were fighting words or what my intentions were.  Then he gulped and said quietly, “Did what?”

It still makes me laugh. I would have been so offended – assigning motives and planning my next chess move, but the personality delineations explained he wasn’t even playing the game! He was just…getting a spoon…in a choleric way! Ha ha!

A melancholy might have begged the cook’s pardon before reaching to get the properly-sized spoon for the meal.

A sanguine might have bounded in, telling a story, grabbed a fork and come back for the spoon later – if she remembered why she needed a spoon.

A phlegmatic might have sat until the soup was cold before ever implying that he actually would have preferred to have a spoon.

A Choleric took the spoon.

In parenting, I have often realized how my interpretation was making me want to reprimand a child – when there was nothing wrong in his/her heart – only a difference in his/her personality. My sanguine daughter, for example, can drive me crazy with her messy room and lost articles. However, when I recognize her strengths – like the ability to make great art out of junk, or ability to LIGHT UP anybody’s world with her smile – it makes a lost sweater here and there nothing in comparison. Therefore, we have focused on her learning ways to remember where she took off her sweater (to one day help her find her car keys) or how to meet expectations of a clean room without dimming her bright light of a personality that has an amazing effect on our whole house!

At one point I even noticed that I had been using the personality terms in a negative way! UGH!! My kids made me realize it when the Sanguine said to her brother in a fight, “You are SO CHOLERIC!!” Bahaha! I am sure she picked that up from me! No personality is wrong – despite how my “perfect Melancholy” wants to make it seem that way. They are just different…the way God intended!!

When my oldest son was in high school, he complained about his vision, so I took him to the eye doctor for the first time. Of course, they immediately saw a solution in the form of glasses – and we ordered them. Within two weeks the glasses arrived, and I watched them transform his world into something I didn’t even know he was missing. He had never mentioned it. I remember almost crying feeling bad I had no idea that he couldn’t see. (I have never had glasses.) He put on the new specs and walked outside on that bright sunny day and exclaimed, “I CAN SEE!” In the car he asked, “Can we go back and watch every movie I have ever seen AGAIN, so I can really SEE them this time???”

That’s how I felt once I understood how my own personality was clouding my vision to see others. I wish I could go back and see, really SEE every person I had ever met, befriended, done business with, been in class with, or loved…because I feel like I could have made the relationship better.

Correct your vision utilizing personalities and you will see others through lenses for which God created them.

Blessings,

Terri Brady

Romans 12:4-5: “For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.”

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On the Piano Bench

By Casey Brady

“Many people lose the small joys in hope for the big happiness.”

– Pearl Buck

            Note after note, sound after sound, the grand piano echoes my movements, reverberating with the resonance of eighty-eight unique singular noises, all combining and mixing in ways unseen to create whatever piece my heart desires. The pedal squeaks beneath my toe, and the blend is increased to a smooth weave of quieter sounds, the grand piano relaxing as I allow it to slow. My body relaxes, and I am at peace on the piano bench.

My eyes close, and I allow my fingers to play on their own, dispelling the last stresses of a long day. A sad, minor sound creeps into the recesses of the humming music as I recall the depressing times of my day, and I feel my hands slide to a higher point on the keys, creating an almost bubbly sound, as I remember my happy moments. My left hand falls deep to the bottom notes and a loud, angry minor sound echoes as I remember my worst moments, yet then I shift back up to a quieter sound, releasing myself into the piano, enjoying the wonderful bliss of nothingness and contentment on the piano bench.

I vaguely acknowledge that my dad has come to sit and listen, but I refuse myself the leisure of performing for him. Right now I am not performing, but letting the sounds created by my fingers wash away all my stressed parts and thoughts. Perhaps my father is enjoying the musical cleansing himself, but he cannot have reached full contentment simply by listening. The only way to truly listen is to be on the piano bench.

Now a shout breaks the reverie, and my fingers miss a note. The call for dinner slices apart the hum of the keys, and I finally allow my fingers to come to rest. My dad has gotten up and left, yet I cannot leave until the piano is finished. The final sounds echo to silence, flushing the last bits of tension from my body, and I stare for a second into the convex reflection of the polished, hardened wood. Releasing the pedal, I stand, and the piano bench creaks in protest. I know I will return tomorrow. The contentment held for me inside this magical instrument continually draws me back, and there is no way to resist the happiness I enjoy on the piano bench.


My oldest son, Casey, wrote the above essay for his college applications last summer. His writing transferred the emotions of “the bench” so well, I hate to add anything here that would subtract from the reader’s ambience. 

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 

Terri Brady

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Guest Blogger Casey Brady is a senior at Wake Christian Academy, heading to North Greenville University this fall to study Sports Management (business). His soccer abilities can been seen on the current North Carolina state champion team, TFCA 96Boys. Though he enjoys music and blesses others through it, he plans to keep it as a hobby as opposed to a profession. He is a wonderful big brother, piano teacher to the young (including his sister!), friend to many, and recently became a National Merit Scholarship Finalist. I am blessed to call him my son, because of the way he lives out his life verse, Proverbs 1:7.

A special thanks to Casey for letting me share his talents!

The following video was his last recital with his Michigan teacher four years ago (age 14-ish). My! How he’s grown since then – on and off “the bench”!

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What am I, Stupid?

Dear Lindsey,

Sometimes reality is just…real. And it makes me

LAUGH OUT LOUD

so I have to share!!

I received an email from someone I had never received an email from before. Though I consider her a friend, I only know her from playing bells in a handbell choir at church a couple times a year. I am not a member of the handbell choir, but I substitute when someone is missing.

The wording of her email shocked me. This is what it said:

To: Sarah Summers & Stupid

From: Ellen

_____________________________

Hello ladies!!!  

Wanted to see if both of you could sub next week for handbells (Tuesday 6-7:30) – Emily and I will both be out (top 2 positions). Just let me know!!

Thanks!!!

Ellen

Sent from my iPhone

 

When I looked at the “addressee” line, I was a little surprised. My thought process went like this:

  • It says it is to “Sarah Summers and Stupid”
  • I received it.
  • I am not Sarah Summers.
  • HEY!!!! Why is she calling me STUPID?!!!

I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt; surely she’s my friend! She plays in the handbell choir at church; that’s not your typical gathering place of the evil-ladies-calling-people-stupid.

There must be a joke I am forgetting…some “Vine” I missed? I remembered she and I have laughed about a lot – I am sure we laughed about ME…it’s easy to do! But stupid? Why am I stupid?

But I could tell it was going to eat at me. I had to know. I am not the kind to go talk to someone else and see what they think of her potential rudeness…or pass the email around and get other people to be mad. I decided to confront, seeking first to understand. So I shot an email back to her, asking her if my name was “Stupid” in her contacts.

 

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As soon as I sent that email, a flashback of a phone-joke my oldest son did to me popped into my head. He had made shortcut keys for all of the common words I use: “the, an, hi, and, how, you,” etc., so that any time I typed one of those words on my phone, it automatically changed it to say, “blooyah!” I finally had cried “UNCLE!” and made him fix it when I incidentally sent a text to a friend after the loss of a loved one, and my text said, “God bless blooyah.” UGH.

So I wondered if somehow my kids had made “stupid” something on my phone, not her contacts.

I searched my phone for the term, “Stupid,” and up popped “Terri Brady”.

So I asked Siri: “What is my name?”

And she obediently replied in her serious tone, “You’re Terri Brady, but since we are friends, I get to call you Stupid.”

I started to laugh.

I asked my phone again, “Who am I?”

The phone replied, “You’re Terri Brady, but since we are friends, I get to call you Stupid.”

I looked on my phone for my own name to see how that worked, and clearly one of my kids had picked up my unattended phone and made a change to my contact.

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Oh boy was Ellen going to be confused when she got that email I had just sent her asking her if my name was “Stupid” in her contacts!!!!!

I quickly sent her another email attempting to explain my children’s humor and asking for forgiveness.

I let her know that I would be happy to sub for a friend like her!

Still loving to laugh,

Terri

P.S. Looks like my kids changed my contact again.

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When Pain Mocks the Song – Even in the Christmas Update Letter

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! As I debated on what to write for a Christmas Letter to Lindsey, I thought the actual Brady family update letter might be appropriate…in case you didn’t receive it in the mail yet. :) I changed it a little, but the message is the same: from our house to yours, Merry Christmas!

(If you prefer to skip the personal update and get to the meat of the message – skip down to “Life’s Railroad and the Train of Time.” I won’t be offended. Sometimes I save the Christmas update letters for after Christmas too.)

Dear friends and family

I wanted to give you a joyful update – about Casey’s college choice, Chris’s new position: you know- the “norm” of decking the halls with boughs of blessings – or is it boughs of bragging?

But, it didn’t seem right, and almost seemed fake, since that would allude to perfection that 2014 did not necessarily hold. It just seemed that hiding the struggle wouldn’t give honor to the ones I lost – or those who are in the middle of strife right now.

So here goes: 2014 was an up and down year.

On January 2nd Chris took a new position at our company – a major adjustment in imagesfunction, but not in purpose. The new role brought a massive change to close relationships – like getting on a ship to a new destination, knowing it was directed by God, but bringing tears as you lose sight of the shore.

January 15th was when the call came that Terri’s mother had suffered a heart attack and stroke. We rejoice that she recovered with minimal permanent damage.

Seven days later, on the opening night of Christine’s youth theatre musical another call came from Colorado, this one telling the shocking news of the loss of Terri’s younger brother Mike. Terri spent 10 days in Colorado with her parents, and Chris was able to fly out for the funeral.

A few weeks later, barely out of sight, grief struck again with the short illness and passing of our dear friend and business co-founder, Jackie. Staying for that snowy funeral in Michigan clearly took precedence over our family’s trip to the Cayman Islands, and it was rightfully cancelled. April brought a trip back to Colorado to celebrate Terri’s Uncle Buck and his presentation of WWII Legion of Honor medal, as well as to be introduced to Adelyn, the first great-grandchild for Terri’s parents; Mike would have been a proud grandpa!

June was triumphant as Nate was selected to play Academy level soccer, and Casey’s team took the N.C. state champ title – finishing 2nd in the region in Baton Rouge, LA.

July 25th marked the 98th birthday for Terri’s grandmother in Kansas, now a great-great-grandmother of two 2014 babies! She has 5 “kids” in their 70’s!! Must be a record!

Our summer was filled with lake time. J.R. wowed us with his wakeboard abilities between his Lego masterpieces. Christine showed us that artists could handle the waves as well. Visitors to N.C. were plentiful – friends from Michigan and Florida; family from Pennsylvania and Colorado. We even had a 50th wedding anniversary celebration for Chris’s parents held here! We joked that our guest room needed a revolving door! And we were blessed by all! (Although when Terri’s mother fell down the stairs and broke bones in three places, she might not have felt like a blessing.)

Autumn brought news of Casey’s decision to play soccer for college in South Carolina next fall, paying his own way with athletic and academic scholarships. Wow.

Life’s Railroad for the Train of Time

I used to think that there were years on mountains and years in valleys. Of course now I can see mountain hours, separated by valley hours, or even a joyful mountain moment in the midst of the depth of sorrowful valley moments. I like it best the way author Kay Warren says: “Life is like a set of parallel train tracks, with joy and sorrow running inseparably side-by-side throughout our days.”

Yet, all the while, the train of time still carries us down the middle of the rails toward our destiny.

Often Christmas cards come (and I have written many!) with the updates – telling the joys of the year. But this year, as you can see, had such HIGH highs and LOW lows in the parallel tracks, it seemed strange to only share one side. I am guessing that most people have had years like that. Many are on the “low” right now – not ready to even celebrate Christmas, wondering if there will ever be happiness again. My prayers go to them.

I mean, really, when you look at the news of 2014, it seems odd to be celebrating anything doesn’t it? My house was not the only one who experienced pain – and by far not the worst pain compared to others I know. Many have lost loved ones, received dooming medical news, had diagnoses since last Christmas that ended life before this Christmas! There are words on the TV that don’t necessarily scream “JOY!” : Ferguson, Isis, North Korea, Ebola. You know the list could go on and make a railroad track far worse than my own. But suffering is not a competition. The Lord knows and cares for each inch of the tracks of life that have been laid and knows and cares for how we handle each inch of that track – since everyone handles it differently.

Christmas is a time of joy – when we celebrate the birth of the Christ child. Yet I recall that the promise of joy AND sorrow met in the manger that first Christmas. The promise of redemption and eternal life rested in that baby, … yet the sin He would carry away was in the forecast. While He slept beneath the famous guiding star, His future of being mocked, scourged and publicly executed by crucifixion rested in that bed of hay. The miracles making the lame walk, the deaf hear and the blind see rested in that manger…as did the weeping over the loss of a friend, the anger needed to turn over tables and the prayers so strong to cause sweat as drops of blood. I suppose it’s the moments when sorrow’s side of the track seems to be leading that make us truly recognize the value of its parallel Joy if we can see it.

I recently read that the hymn, I heard the Bells on Christmas Day, was written by Longfellow after a not-so-perfect year. Already a widower due to an 1860 fire that took his wife, he found out weeks before Christmas of 1863 that his eldest son was nearly paralyzed at the hand of an enemy in the Civil War. The song’s words weren’t written as the happy song I sing today. They were penned in the agony of grief, on Christmas Day, 1863.

And in despair I bowed my head:

‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,

‘For hate is strong and mocks the song

Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

 Though I did not walk in his shoes, I can relate to pain that “mocks the songs”. So I hold his next words dearly:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;

The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,

With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Whether you have had a perfect year, or less-than-so, may you follow a star that leads you to the only “perfect” there is: Christ. Let us bring our gifts, our sorrows, our whole selves, because that is all He asks. May you make room in the inn of your heart in which He may reside forever. And may you know that the destiny at the end of the tracks is in His arms: the Peace that Passes Understanding.  The true JOY of Christmas is knowing that the destiny at the end of the tracks is HEAVEN. The no more crying heaven…The no more darkness heaven…The no more imperfect moments, days or years heaven. But alas, I cannot waste my days on earth – I want others to know!! And hence I write Christmas Update Letters so they will know the reason for my real JOY this Christmas and always!

Blessings to you and your family, Merry Christmas!   

Chris, Terri, Casey, Nate, Christine, and J.R.

2 Cor 4:5-6 For what we preach [should be telling in our Christmas letter] is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord… For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

– THAT is the best Christmas update letter there is!!

“Behold! I bring you good tidings of great joy – for unto you is born a Savior who is Christ the Lord!” 

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Thanks Again

THANKS AGAIN

(ref: Luke 17: 11-19)

Ten lepers were healed

By Christ’s words that day.

He said, “You are new,”

And sent them away.

They danced and they sang

With their limbs now anew.

Showed friends their new health

And all they could do

One returned thanks,

The others took for granted;

But Jesus gave freely

His gifts not recanted.

Sorrows and distraction

Pull focus of our eyes

Pirating the gratitude

For blessings realized.

Lord, help me to be

The one of the ten

Who thinks to come back

and say, “thank you,” again.

-Terri Brady

May God bless you with much, and may you bless Him with thanks.

– Terri

Luke 17:17-19 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

Auto-correct Your “Self”

One letter certainly can have an impact on texting:

  • “We stayed in our couch for two weeks.”
    • (Although, there probably was a “couch” in the “coach,” of which she was speaking.)
  • “My dear previous friend…”
    • (Luckily, she was “precious” enough to see through that auto-correct.)
  • “Fool!”
    • (would have been more encouraging with the “C” in place of the “F” as I had intended!)
  • “My dead husband…”
    • (sent by a “dear” wife.)

I recently got a new iPhone 6. It amazes me how young kids automatically notice I got a new phone, whereas I am still trying to figure out what the difference is. One youngster in the back seat for our carpool said, “By the time my parents ever let me get a phone, it will probably be an iPhone 23 or something!!”

“Poo” thing! :)

Each time I get a new phone, it has to “learn” me. It is SO impressive that it can figure out what I mean to say and eventually say it for me the first time. However, my newest phone changes my name “Terri” into “Terrible” every time.

Dear iPhone, “Why ya gotta be so ruuuude?”

It also changes “love ya!” which seems to be a favorite closing of mine to “love yam!” I have nothing against the orange vegetable but I don’t think that detail is necessary in all of my texts.

Additionally, and perhaps the worst yet, is my last name, “Brady” which it transforms to “rash”.

I do not text my last name often – solely when I am introducing my phone number to someone new in my texting world, so I text, “This is Terri Brady.” Imagine getting a text from an unknown number, and it says, “This is terrible rash.”

Yep. That’s me.

I guess the phone’s algorithm works by assuming I want words that I have frequently used in the past. I cannot verify, but it seems like the word “Brady” should have been used more frequently in my texting than the word “rash.” I am beginning to suspect the programmers are playing a joke on me – like a new Revenge of the Nerds.

It strikes me that my name “Terri” and the word “terrible” are only three letters apart. However, my name “Terri” and the word, “terrific” are only three letters apart too!!!! So why doesn’t it substitute “terrific” instead? I mean, surely I have used that word more often in the past than “terrible,” right?! It should know by now!! Just when I finished that thought, I realized that signing my texts as a “terrific rash” is not any better.

The auto-correct function has added quite a bit of humor to our lives. I like that rose among the thorns. However, even the term “auto” correct puts a little truth into the way our lives tend to auto-correct. The term “auto-correct,” I assume is a shortened form of “automatically correct,” which is such a great idea at the start. However, when we look at the root, “auto,” it originates in the Greek word, “autos” meaning, “self.” When I look at “self,” and its sinful nature, I see why it is not the ideal aim! Truth be told, whether or not I texted “terrible” more often than “terrific,” I have definitely “automatically” thought “terrible” more often than “terrific” thousands of times!

For example, it is a beautiful day today here in North Carolina: 75 and sunny; yet I have had to “correct” myself to simply enjoy it and stop thinking about the cold front coming through tomorrow. Maybe I AM terrible!! If you have read other Letters here, you have seen my focusing on thorns instead of shade, or having to force a thank-you amidst the dead bird on the hockey table.

For example purposes, we could take this to the dungeon. Too often, I see people leading their lives as a terrible rash. They get gloomy about one thing and it feeds another and another until the sky is seen as the coming gray and the thorns overshadow any roses.

One such letter would summarize the thoughts:

Dear Me, IMG_4871_2

I can’t believe the debt

I feel like such a failure

I can’t do it anymore

I dream of material things

I don’t want to be married

anymore. Parenting is not for me

No one owns me

I can’t imagine there is a God

I feel like I am

defeated!

Nothing will

make a difference

Signed,

Me

 

That letter breaks my heart, because I know many people who could write those words right now. It is so true that the dark side works that way. The bad wolf in our thinking chinks away at our outside until we open the gate to our heart. Then, it feels virtually impossible to think any differently, and the thought that was sown yesterday reaps a belief that lives today. Terrible!

If you could have written that letter today, please know I am praying for you. I know there are brighter skies ahead, but I pray that you know that too. The heaviness of thoughts like those are too much to bear alone.  I think the Bible’s Psalms were probably written by people who could have written that above letter…and had to “correct their thinking.”  “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in Thee. In God, whose word I praise, In God I have put my trust; I shall not be afraid. What can [mere] man do to me?” –Psalm 56:3-4

There is good news though. Lord willing, we ARE able to correct our thinking: Auto-correct it. As Martin Lloyd Jones says in his book, Spiritual Depression, we need to “stop listening to ourselves and start talking to ourselves!” I have noticed, that just like my phone’s algorithm starts to “learn” what I meant, so can my “self.” I can actually start forcing right thinking …and the saying or acting improves based on those thoughts.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Run the race, because you are going to lose.” It doesn’t say, “Set your mind on things below where you are.” It’s not, “Jesus died so others might wallow.”  NOOOO.

But the Bible does say:

  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)
  • Set your mind on things ABOVE. (Col 3:2)
  • Run the race as if to win. (1 Cor 9:24)
  • Jesus died that we might LIVE! (1Pet 2:24)

But it takes self-control to think the way we ought. It takes discipline to block the negative from getting into the gate.

Changing the word from “terrible” to “terrific” requires purposefully deleting some things and then purposefully adding some others. And so does life.

What if we auto-corrected that letter above? Write the second half and make sure they never separate again*.

IMG_4871

Dear Me,

I can’t believe the debt I can now get rid of.

I feel like God created me for a purpose and if there’s

such a failure in my path, I can learn and get better.

I can’t do it anymore without telling others so they can improve too.

I dream of helping others.

material things don’t control me; I control them.

I don’t want to be married to my debt or my job

anymore. Parenting is not for me to leave my kids for others to raise.

No one owns me except my Creator!

I can’t imagine there is a God who loves me THIS MUCH!

I feel like I am not able to be

defeated!

Nothing will stop me, because I have self-control to

make a difference in my life and the lives I touch.

Signed, with full-hearted belief,

Me

 

Don’t grow weary in well-doing, my friend. There is too much ABOVE waiting on us!

Love yam! YOU!

Terrible Rash Terri Brady :)

“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.” –Romans 8:6

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” –Deuteronomy 31:8 

 * I must give credit for the note idea to “Max” who wrote his newlywed wife “Stefanie” a two-part note like this. I found it cleverly humorous, but the online versions included controversial topics unworthy of my linking. Last names were not included in the posts.

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Don’t Waste It

(Your Cancer, Your Tragedy, Your Problems)

John Piper in his article Don’t Waste Your Cancer, was quoted by a guest pastor, Scott Kellum, at a small church near our lake house. The words were too good not to take notes. The notes were too good not to share. Whether it is cancer, death of a dearly loved one, or another form of storm that hits our lives, the words aptly apply: “Don’t waste it.”

The below list was originally posted as Don’t Waste Your Cancer, but it could be, “Don’t waste your problems,”  “Don’t waste your tragedy,” “Don’t waste your hurt,” or “Don’t waste your today.”

When we truly believe that there’s nothing outside of God’s hands that happens in a believer’s life, this list is incredibly poignant.

Don’t Waste Your Cancer (from John Piper)

  1. You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God.th-1
  2. You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift. (The blessing comes in what God does for us, with us, and through us.)
  3. You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your “odds” rather than from your God.
  4. You will waste your cancer if you refuse to think about death.
  5. You will waste your cancer if you think that beating cancer means staying alive rather than cherishing Christ
  6. You will waste your cancer if you spend too much time reading about cancer and not enough time reading about God.
  7. You will waste your cancer if you let it drive you into solitude instead of deepening your loving relationships with others. (Some dig a hole and start pulling in dirt on top of themselves, blocking everyone out.)
  8. You will waste your cancer if you grieve as those who have no hope. (Grieving is perfectly legitimate, but not as if we have no victory.)
  9. You will waste your cancer if you treat sin as casually as before. (Today’s the day to make it right with God.)
  10. You will waste your cancer if you fail to use it as a means of witness to the truth and glory of Christ.

Feel free to go back and read that list again, making the substitution of the deepest struggle in your own life, which may not be cancer. “You will waste your…[past hurt] if you…”

The goal of life is not to live long, live healthy, get wealthy and leave all of it to great-great-grandchildren. But isn’t that easy to forget in our busy, goal-oriented lives?

Tragedy close to home

The school buses behind the hearse were a sobering sight. Though the vehicles from Wake Christian Academy said “activity bus,” the funeral was not an “activity” anyone had anticipated. The gravity of the situation stifled the noise on those buses to a Raleigh's Finestsilence they had never known. Even cars unaffected by the buses’ path pulled over in reverence to let the entourage pass. At each stoplight, Raleigh’s finest stood at attention, saluting the grieving students and the hundreds of cars’ drivers in the line that went for miles en route to the cemetery where Madison’s grave awaited.

My son’s classmate, Madison Pearce, did not survive when her car crossed the centerline and hit a truck head-on last Saturday, seven weeks before her seventeenth birthday. Being a small class of 2015 with only seventy-seven students, there was not one who did not know Madison: her smile; her unconditional love; her ability to light up a room. She was the captain of the cheerleaders – whether on the sidelines or just in life. She personified letting Christ shine.

“Things can change in the blink of an eye,” one of her last Tweets had said. Every student and parent from the school couldn’t agree more…now.

The pastor who spoke at the funeral was Madison’s uncle, Reverend Ben Pearce. He fought the tears just like everyone in the room. I loved what he shared in what must have been the most difficult speech he has ever made, “Don’t let her death be in vain.”

I think in a way, he was saying, “Don’t waste this tragedy.”

Go ahead and think about what happens when we die, because, we all are dying.

Now is a good time to recognize that we are sinners and deserve Hell, but receiveHope Parkway forgiveness when we ask through Christ alone.

“Mom, it just makes me realize that you never know when you say goodbye if it will be the last time you see someone,” my fourteen-year-old said he learned.

“She is the lucky one; she is in heaven with no more tears, no more pain,” my seventeen-year-old resolved.

As I watched Madison’s parents in the visitation line, I saw them hug each person. They comforted the long line of teenagers whose hearts were broken like their own. “She was so excited to have you singing in Chorale with her again,” the mom comforted when she saw my son. “Oh, I remember your name! You are the ‘smart’ one,” she said to another, repeating words to the teens that Madison must have told her.

The scheduled visitation hours were from 6-8pm, but people stayed – even the grieving family – until well past midnight. They gave as much comfort as they received while the crowd grieved together. Pastor Doug Bookman often says that God does His best work when we are at the end of ourselves. As I saw strength in that family to stand for so many hours: smile, cry, smile, cry and still have something to give to the next person in line, I couldn’t help but see God at work. They were at the “end of themselves” long before the line had even formed.

Tim Marks recently said how wrong it is that people quote, “God won’t give you anything you can’t handle,” because of course He does! He knows we can’t handle it – except through Him. When we cry, “I can’t handle it!” maybe it is just our final battle getting to the “end of ourselves.”

“My tears have fed me day and night; while men have said, ‘Where is your God?’” David wrote in Psalm 42. How real. Tears are real. Grieving is real. It’s what we do with it that could “waste” its purpose.

Bitterness knocks at the door. Answer with trust.

Resentment and anger take their shots. Kick them with praise.

Depression tries to check-in; Tell it that gratitude has already taken that room.

Drugs and alcohol invite to numb the pain; Remind them they only prolong it.

Despair tries to suck us into the black hole, but we can remember what even Madison knew, as her Twitter account quoted a song earlier this year:

“All I know is I’m not home yet, this is not where I belong. Take this world and give me Jesus, this is not where I belong.”

Heaven is not the consolation prize; it’s the destination. Don’t waste the journey.

 

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Shade in Thorns

Dear Lindsey,

It was spur-of-the-moment for me, but it had been in my daughter Christine’s mind for a week: berry picking.

On my walk one morning last week, I had seen wild blackberries by the side of the road. They weren’t the “normal” small, uncared-for wild berries. These looked as beautiful as the ones sold in grocery stores, although their bushes were clearly in a wild pattern. The berries’ large size was only surpassed by their taste – yum! – a great treat on my walk. I told Christine I would bring her there, and we would bake a pie.

I should know better than to tell a ten-year-old my thoughts without a plan in my calendar for the picking. She begged me daily to go.

We have been blessed with incessant guests at our lakehouse this summer, and I finally realized that I would need to take her even if the guests were present, or we would miss the ripe season altogether.

GG and Pop Pop (my parents) were the chosen participants, and we drove the car to the location, knowing the air conditioning for the 2-mile ride home would be priceless!

I am no stranger to wild blackberry picking. We had hundreds of bushes on our Michigan acreage a few years ago. There, I had dreamed of an invention of bee-keeper type gloves to repel the long, sharp thorns of blackberries, while being dainty enough to pick the soft, sweet berries without damage.

CM & PP pickinWe arrived at the patch bare-handed and began picking with vigor. The bottom of the bowl was covered, and the berries made a different sound when they landed on berries instead of plastic. I could practically taste the pie.

As I tried to reach deeper into the patch, I accidentally slid down the slope, not sure how far it actually was going to take me through the tangled vines. I hoped I wouldn’t land on a snake as I fell! I stopped my fall by sitting on the ground, and thorns pierced my jeans. Oh well, I thought, while I am stopped, I can reach these berries underneath.

Every time I would reach for a berry, it seemed thorns came to life, grabbing my arm more forcefully the further I went into the bush.

I leaned in a little more, and they grabbed my exposed shins under my denim capris.

My dad came down the slope a little behind me, and I reached back to try to catch his fall, but the thorns seemed to notice my movement and make their crown on my head.

“You have a new hair piece!” my dad jested, as I tried to get what felt like an entire bush out of my hair. I looked into the bush and saw hundreds more berries…just a little out of reach from where I sat.

I asked Christine how much was in the bowl, since she stood up the road, still in earshot.  more pickin

“Almost one inch of berries!” she enthusiastically reported.

Less than an inch!

It would take about four inches in the bowl to make a pie.

And the big berries seemed to be already gone. Why did I come!? I don’t have the right clothing for this! This is not worth the effort! A $4 basket of blueberries at the Farmers’ Market sounds better right now, or I could hit the freezer section of the grocery store for an already-made pie!

The worst part is, my thoughts continued, most of these thorn cuts don’t really show up until tomorrow in the shower – when they burn like the dickens! And itch all day!

I looked at my dad, and his four-score-old skin wasn’t handling the thorns either, as blood from his wrist trickled onto his white t-shirt, and wicked in the wetness of his sweat. He continued picking, presumably unaware.

Christine proudly carried the bowl from where she had been working, into our neck of the woods, swiftly sliding down the path, disconnecting the thorns as she said with excitement, “What a great idea! God gave us shade here!”

It wasn’t until that moment that I even noticed that I was no longer in the scorching, North Carolina July sun.

Thank You, God.

Thank You, God for the shade, and thank You for the reminder that in the midst of thorns, there is always something for which to say thank You.

And of course, I thanked Him for my daughter’s bright spirit and ability to bring light (and shade!) onto subjects every day.

 

We made the pie, and enjoyed the making of it. It tasted better than any store-bought berries, or freezer pie could have tasted, because it had the three-generations’ touches for ingredients.  Memories matter. (I suppose the light (or shade) in which we view the memories matters as much as the memories themselves!)

 

May you discipline yourself to notice the shade more than thorns in life.

And of course, enjoy the pie for which you aim!  pie

 

Terri

Matthew 13:7-9: [Jesus said] “And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”

Isaiah 4:6: “And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain.”

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Good Grief

Dear Lindsey,

Two new holes were left in my heart this past winter, and last weekend represented the first events where these loved ones “would have been there.”  I had been dreading the events without them.

First, I lost my 42-year-old brother, Mike, (from Colorado) completely unexpectedly, after his medication cocktail (due to back pain) proved lethal. Weeks later, my dear friend Jackie Lewis (from Michigan)– also unexpectedly – went to be with the Lord at age 32 after a short week’s illness.

When my uncle, Buck Seitz, received France’s Legion of Honor medal in Denver, CO, last week it was the first time that I was at a family event…without Mike. Afterward, I flew out of Denver, directly to Florida, for a business event. It was at this business convention where Jackie and I would have shared the stage at night, sat together by the pool during the day, or been boating in the ocean together as in past years.

It brought to me an irony of grief: “good grief,” I guess you could call it.

Beginning (every day) with the end in mind has been an effort of mine for years. Physical

Mike Estes …...1971 - 2014

Mike Estes ……1971 – 2014

death is not “unexpected,” as no one has avoided it as of yet. And when I know heaven awaits for those who trust solely in the Lord Jesus, I would want it to hasten its call for believers. That is the “good” part of the grief. But oh, how it aches to have that hole in my heart of one that once was here…not here anymore. To know my lifetime ahead will happen absent of these loved ones cuts deeply into me, and even more deeply when I look at the children and spouses, and those closer to the deceased than I.

The degree of grief has taken so many different forms within me. I am no psychology major, but I know that what I experienced is probably not unique to me alone.

Sadness:

The depth of raw heartache cannot be described. What once was…no longer is. There is nothing I can do to change it for the future. There is nothing I can do to change any past, although with these two, there was nothing I would have changed. If my mind ever wanders from the sorrow, something comes to remind me of it: a waiter named Mike, a bookmark bearing Jackie’s signature, a song that instigates a flash flood of tears. It is amazing to me how I see the resemblance of their faces in SO many people – like a mirage due to a deep longing to see them again.  My heart skips a beat when I see a red head. (They both were.)

Pure Joy:

I say, “pure,” because it is the true sense of the word.  Joy: that despises

Jackie Lewis 1981- 2014

Jackie Lewis 1981- 2014

circumstances. My pure joy: in knowing that Jackie is with her Savior in heaven. There is no more crying, no more pain, no need to wait for a sun to brighten her day, because the eternal Light is always there.  There is such pure joy in knowing that she finished her life at such a peak. Her husband raves about their marriage  –which gives me joy to thank God for the timing of her death to be at such a high! She was a speaker on stages across the country, and her desire for excellence was an influence on thousands of lives to live better.  The wrinkle fairy had not yet waved her wand in Jackie’s direction. Haha! She was beautiful, so beautiful. Her love for the Lord exuded her being in all that she did, and her testimony video was recorded just this year. What a high! I have a joy in knowing that although the dash between her birth-date and her death-date was too short for my liking, its brevity is what interested tens of thousands to watch her story, which could have eternally impacted them. I have joy in knowing that though 32 years seems so short, and I wish she had lived to be 105, I can look at the grand scheme of tens of thousands of years in eternity, and the difference in a few decades on earth is so, so small.

timelineGuilt:

I know some experience guilt after the death of someone due to words that were said, or not said… Visits that were not made… Time that had passed taking for granted the love and friendship of the newly deceased. Those feelings hopefully spur us to be reminded of the preciousness and finiteness of time with loved ones.  But my guilt was different. It was as though every smile I gave brought with it a weight. Wasn’t I sad? Does my brother know I miss him? If I smile, will he think I don’t? What about other friends and family – am I offending them if I smile when they are not? I know it’s a strange subliminal guilt – my brother cannot “think” anything anymore. He is gone. But inside me, there is a pang, like a weight from below that feels good and right being sad, and guilty being happy. This “guilt” is probably most dangerous, because it is not from God. He is the one who allowed a weight to lift…and probably listened to the prayers of many to give me that moment of lifted weight…and yet I sometimes regretfully have given the unfounded guilt power in my day. I tend to think I need to “justify” my happiness, “Well, Jackie would have loved that I can laugh at this video now.” Or “Mike would have been laughing with me at this.” That justification may be true, but I just don’t want to miss the opportunity to say instead, “Thank you, God, for making the sun rise on my life again, because that night was long.”

Wanting to hide/avoid:

This part of grief seemed to have an undaunted allure. Do I have to attend that event? Everyone will be looking at me to see how I am handling it. What if there are expectations of how I am supposed to “look” and “act” in mourning? There will be others there grieving; I hate to look at others and see the pain I know will be in their eyes from their loss.   Events with people who didn’t know the deceased were even more difficult: it seemed disrespectful to be with people who didn’t even know or care about the ones I miss so deeply. My local church family didn’t know or love my brother. Couldn’t I use a few more hours of sleep? Couldn’t the world just turn without me for a while? I am hurting.

Doubt (with a capital “D”):

Have you ever prayed so intensely that it hurt? Physically, hurt? Have you ever lost entire nights of sleep or days of meals while praying for someone’s life to be saved? Have you ever visualized the victory so deeply, that you almost forgot whether the prayers had been answered yet or not, because you trusted that much that victory was imminent? Have you ever felt like you sweat blood?

Have you ever prayed that much and God still answered, “no.”

And that was His “final answer.”

Not, “No, check back with me next week.”

Not, “Wait… I like how you are depending on Me. Keep depending on Me. Let Me work on it.”

Just, “No.”

“She’s gone.”

Or “We lost him.”

Did you ever go back and doubt that your hours upon hours of fervent prayers were even heard?

I have.

Is doubt sin?  YES

Am I proud?  NO

The Bible talks about doubt:

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:5-8”

But there was a time a few years ago when I doubted my prayers were heard, and I am ashamed. I have to tell you a little secret though:

I told God about it.

A. Weatherell Johnson, in her autobiography, Created for Commitment had this to say about a time of doubt in her life:

“I went to God and bluntly said, ‘God, I’m sorry but I don’t believe You always answer prayer.’ Immediately after I had spoken those words aloud, I corrected them. ‘God, I do believe but I don’t understand.’ God then gave me His loving assurance. He said, ‘My child, wait for Me. I have not finished.’ My very voicing of unbelief (to God alone) delivered me. I started to praise Him.”

Reading that, I remembered my own gut-wrenching tearful surrender that was so similar.

However, since answers to prayers do not always take the same shape of the mirages I have created, I believe we have to have the attitude my friend Diana had when she admittedly felt like prayers bounced off the ceiling back to the sickbed where she lay.

“I don’t understand, but I trust.”

The truth of the matter is that we cannot be afraid to speak out our doubts honestly, and immediately to the Lord. The very voicing of the sin can deliver us from it. How can a drowning victim be saved if she won’t admit she’s drowning? Besides, do we think He doesn’t already know our heart?  Do we think He doesn’t see behind the fig leaves with which we cover?  Are we surprised when He asks, “Who told you that you were naked?” (Gen 3:11) He already knows.

Jesus, Himself, prayed for His circumstances to change so earnestly that His sweat was like drops of blood, (Luke 22:44) yet He humbly submitted when God said, “no,” so His life was used to save mine.

The Lord holds our tears in a bottle. (Ps 56:8)

If we can just …hold on to Him a little while longer. (Haggai 2:6-7)

When God Says, “No”

Just recently, Pastor Stephen Davey shared about the topic, “When the Answer is No.” (I love it when I have a blog half-written and someone else covers the exact topic!) You can read his message: here or listen to the audio here.

He taught five components to our response to God when He answers “no” to our fervent prayers. We should respond with humility, gratitude, surrender, praise and readiness.

The Bible is clear that there is a time for mourning, a time for tears. (Ecc 3:4) Even Jesus wept at the loss of his friend.  (John 11:35)

And yet, the fact that Ecclesiastes says, “there is a time,” to me, says that the time is finite. It ends. Yes, I will miss these loved ones, but there is more.  There is more to come in this life than mourning….when I respond with humility – recognizing that my desires do not include the whole world like God’s desires do. When I respond with gratitude – recognizing that the fact I miss these loved ones means I have some memories for which to be thankful. When I respond with surrender – recognizing that I am not in control…and really never was. When I respond with praise – recognizing that I do LOVE the One who IS in control. And when I respond with readiness – recognizing that there is more to come. This is not the end.  I want to be ready to serve the Lord as Jackie was, to spread laughter as Mike would have done.

Just wait, there’s more.

I once heard it said, “Everything will be all right in the end; and if it is not all right, it is not the end.”

Girlfriend, it is not the end. Last weekend as I lived without these two was a sort of victory for me. It wasn’t the end! Yes, I cried again… at the loss… and the change… and the grief of continuing life without them. (I even held my brother’s newborn granddaughter, whom he never met.)  But the victory was in the ability to say, “I am ready, God.  I don’t understand, but I trust.”  I guess that is the good that gets squeezed out of the grief.

“Good” grief!  I couldn’t have said those words together a few short weeks ago. But God knew the day would come.

The world still turns, even though there was a time when its turning seemed impossible.  As I shared at Jackie’s funeral, I feel like God is holding on to my heart, saying, “Just wait. There’s more…”

May we heal through worshipping Him in a real relationship, no holds barred, no doubts hidden, in real communion, as we wait on His “more” to come.

“The difference between waiting on God and wrestling with God is worship.” – Stephen Davey in Nehemiah: Memoirs of an Ordinary Man

 

– Terri Brady

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Psalm 42:3-4 says:  My tears have been my food

day and night,

while people say to me all day long,

“Where is your God?”

These things I remember

as I pour out my soul:

how I used to go to the house of God

under the protection of the Mighty Oned

with shouts of joy and praise

among the festive throng.