Monday, March 23, 2015

Family and Easter

Nothing is as special as the real physical family we’re born in or married into! One of my greatest joys on earth is the special feeling I have when I’m with my family. I like knowing any details of life they’re willing to share and I feel privileged to pray for them every day. Don’t you love being with yours– immediate and extended.

I wrote my previous blog about the figurative family of God, our brothers and sisters in Christ - some suffer and are in need – and our desire as Christians to care for them. Yes, they are important. But I want to make clear that in no way do I equate this with the specialness of my physical blood-linked and covenant linked family on earth.

It’s amazing how extended family becomes ever more dear as the years zip by– aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, even our first great niece (gasp) precious Josephine. Facebook helps us stay connected.

Family is a warm, safe, place in your mind and heart – whether you’re physically close or separated by miles. Strong, connected families matter to God. Jesus exalted the family structure. Remember one of Jesus’ final deeds spoken from the cross was to make sure his mother was taken care of by asking the apostle John to look after her.

Easter will soon be here. Many of us celebrate by connecting again with extended family as we did at Christmas. Which leads me to encourage anyone who has a broken relationship with another family member whatever the issue to rethink it. It’s not worth savoring and clinging to your hurt. I urge you to give God your pain. He knows how to heal you. Chalk up your differences to human imperfection. Can you possibly admit that you just maybe aren’t perfect either and forget the pain from the past?

Dislikes can happen. Not all extended family is easy to live with, personality types may clash, but there is an oh so sweet bond that forever links you together and something in your spirit won’t feel entirely whole until you make peace. We don’t have to like everything about our family members. We can still love one another. And even have fun together.

As a counselor I work in the realm of families and have observed firsthand how family divisions destroy inner peace. The primary reason people seek counseling is because of rifts in the family – with a marriage partner, parents, a child or grief over the loss of a family member. Resolution of these issues is a privilege to behold.

Anyone coming to mind? Perhaps do something unexpected and beautiful for the person who has offended you. Send an old-fashioned, still meaningful gift of flowers, candy – whatever - find a way to say you’re still family and important in my life.

What an amazing Lenten sacrifice, an Easter gift, is the humility to say a thank You prayer to the Lord for the family He’s placed you in and added others into.

A suggested family prayer might be: Lord, Help me love them because You do and because You command me to love them as well.  Show me ways I can do good to these precious people who form my physical family on earth.

Yes the family of God is important, but nothing compares to the real, physical family we do life with on earth. Ours is awesome!

This blog is for all our children and their spouses and in-law connections and our grandchildren, and for Joy and Dave and Jennifer and Chris and Nikolas and Frank and Catherine &your children and  Jenny and Craig and your sons, and Dawn, and Jessica and Tony your Josephine, Lauren, Al and your little ones. Lindsay and Carrie and Kyle and Molly and Kevin and your daughters, Glenn and Judy and Greg and Summer and your sons, Bill & Sue, Kathy and Bob, Jim and Jacqueline, Sue, Melissa, Josh, Crissie & Russ and all your precious children and Tanis and Nancy and Gail and Karen and Dorothy and Muriel, Cindy, Jeanne, John and your families. Roger and Marilyn, Jay and Judy and your children. And of course our family in heaven – our four parents, my brother Jim, grandson Drew and cousin Chuck in heaven and for all the yet to be born family members! (And anyone I inadvertently left out.)

"Do you have any idea how very homesick we became for you dear friends (and family). Even though it hadn't been that long and it was only our bodies that were separated from you, not our hearts, we tried our very best to get back to see you. You can't imagine how much we missed you!" 
The words of Paul in Scripture verse: 1 Thess. 2:17-18 Message Bible

Monday, March 16, 2015

What's Going On?

About a hundred plus, all ages, men and women jumping up and down, singing and shouting about Jesus and getting free from drugs in the way that works.  

This was not a regular church service but a Celebrate Recovery meeting we recently attended. It occurs every Monday night in Hollywood, Florida and around 20,000 other locations around the world. Walking into this setting is rather startling at first. People are excited and thrilled to be there praising Jesus. 

These men and women I never met before felt like family to me.

Family understands one another’s pain. Family is devoted to helping one another live their best life. Family will go to the front battle line with you. Family will fight for you.

We stand with Stevie B and Ray who head up a charge at the JC Recovery House like the biblical Joshua of old straight into the drug battle to rescue one life at a time. They’re fearless of the enemy. They understand. Addictions hurt. Addictions kill. Addictions trapped our grandson.

Life is hard. Drugs seem easy. But feeling good is oh so temporary. Drugs are a management tool that turns on you and manages you.

I sat three years ago with our grandson Drew as he confessed his addiction. He said I hate what oxy has done to me. I wake up and all I can think about is where will I get my next pills? (At first the pills were prescribed for him after a clavicle injury.  He went on to heroin.)
Drew said nothing else mattered more than getting his next drugs. He hid it from the beautiful girl he loved. His drug use eventually shattered their relationship. Until the day he died at age twenty-four he wanted her back and she never stopped loving him. 

Who doesn’t want to feel good? Drugs are a short cut to euphoria fraught with danger. Nobody sees the danger at first. Addictions tempt us all and they always dirty up a life. Whether it’s drugs or food or pornography or TV shows over the edge of decency that a person must see every week. Addictions prevent living our best life, being our best.

These men and women got caught in a trap. They need to learn they don’t have to be perfect to be loved deeply. The love of God is forever and it’s available even in the throes of their addicted life.

Maybe in the growing-up-years too much was asked of an addict or perhaps too little was expected.  Or maybe none of that. They just thought they’d give this tiger a try for a thrill. Surely they could beat it when they wanted to stop. Wrong.

Drugs are never the answer. Jesus is always the answer. Life is so rich and full when lived as family with Him. With brothers and sisters in Christ.

The design of God for living well can be learned in the biblical book of Proverbs, in the Gospels stories of Jesus, and the life changing works of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’s plan for every life is always simple and right. He says in effect:  “Use Your God-given gifts with ease and delight, you don’t have to be the best or first. You are not the dregs of your society. You are always precious. Rest in me. Do life with me. I will give you peace.”

Peace is contentment - a sweet word. Average can be beautiful.

The family of God is real. Being part of a family is a safe place.

Some addicts once had families that were destroyed for one reason or another. Some never knew a family life experience. They have family now. Recovery people are their family with skin and beyond that is the huge family of God.  Family feels right and good because that’s how we’re all meant to live. JC Recovery House is a family fighting together to live a grace-empowered life. This place wasn't available when Drew needed it. It's there now partly because of him. Drew's picture hangs on the wall in the office as a reminder that this battle can't be fought alone.

My husband and I will do all we can to help others get free.  We pray and we support the work of JC Recovery House in Hollywood Florida. If you’d like to know more about them check out their website at:

Drew is the model for the cover of my Tommy Smurlee book for children eight through fourteen. Drew was our first grandchild to read it when he was fourteen. He read the 200 plus pages in one day. Since then all seven grandkids have enjoyed the series. Our grandson Steven had the record for the most re-reads - fourteen plus!

"Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible God, who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen."  1 Timothy 1: 17