Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grandma always said...

"Too bad everyone is not perfect like you."
I still remember hearing those words and as I've grown up I've said them as well. Whenever Grandma heard someone talking negatively about someone else or bringing them down this is what she'd say. And it didn't matter who was speaking, she stood up for the one who wasn't there.

As I've reflected on my grandma this past week in the midst of her passing this is one of the lessons I want to hold onto. For a couple different reasons - 1) we all have faults and it does no good to bring someone else down and 2) Grandma set a great example by speaking up, something I'm afraid to do at times. She never had to say anything more, these words alone altered the conversation and always left me feeling convicted. Even at times when I wasn't the one who gave her reason to say it. We are guilty just by taking part in these conversations as our willingness to listen gives the other person permission to talk.

"You can't win them all."
As a high schooler basketball was my life and though my grandma didn't see any games, she kept track of my schedule and often called for reports. When I'd share about a loss, usually in a depressing tone I'm sure, she'd simply remind me that someone has to win and someone has to lose. At the time I probably didn't appreciate the remark that much, but 15 years later those conversations are coming back and giving me a better picture of who my grandma was.

She was a very content woman - she had survived the depression and knew losing a game really wasn't that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things. With Thanksgiving just a few days a way, I realize she didn't wait for a special day in November to be thankful - she always was. And she tried to teach me to do the same - as our game talks would continue she'd remind me that I had the opportunity to play, she never did; I didn't get hurt, so I'd play again and on and on. Like I said back then I didn't appreciate the words very much, but I'm grateful God has reminded me of a bit of the wisdom Grandma shared - it's true you can learn from a loss. And God does work good from bad, sometimes it simply takes 15 years!

"Let's pray."
Growing up we didn't pray before meals as family, but you never went to Grandma's house without bowing your head before a meal. Again as I reflect on her life I realize she was a real woman of faith and this routine was part of it and a way she could share that faith with others.

We sat in her room in the rest home the day before she passed away watching her breathing change and sharing stories about the life she lived. My dad, the youngest of her six children, shared how he asked her if she ever worried. She replied, "No." And as he thought of some of the things he had done, he suggested, "Well, maybe you should have." My sister responded, "Dad, she may have never worried, but I'm sure she prayed every minute you were gone."

This is something my dad has observed in my grandma because he had shared this story with me recently and commented that I was like her. As we both thought and trusted that God will take care of things. I wish I could say I never worry, but I'm thankful he sees that similarity. As far as I can tell Grandma lived a peaceful 98 years. Were they easy no - she's lost her husband, a son, a grandson, all of her siblings, lived thru the depression - it was a life of ups and downs just like the rest of us, but she treated others the way she wanted to be treated, was content regardless of the circumstances and prayed about all things. God blessed her and now because of her faith she is with Him know.

I will remember many of the things Grandma said including her final words to me about 2 weeks before she passed away. I was there for a visit and we talked about the usual - what I been doing, how the kids grow so fast, my dad and his sheep, and if it was cold out. Then as I kissed her good-bye, she looked at me and said, "You're a good girl. You take care now."

Grandma wasn't just a good girl, she was a Godly one as well and I pray as I remember things she said I will become one too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

"It's Time"

“It’s Time”
It’s time –
for us to grieve and cry and
for you to smile and rejoice.
We miss a woman we love,
but for you the pain is gone.

It’s time –
for us to mourn the life that was lost and
for you to see the ones you’ve missed.
You’re no longer with us,
but you’ll forever be with ones you love.

It’s time –
for us to say, “Good-bye” and
for you to say, “Hello.”
We will tell our grandma farewell,
but you’ll see Jesus face to face.

It’s time –
for us to wait and wonder and
for you to know what is to come.
We look forward to heaven
knowing you will meet us there.
Tomorrow we will bury my grandma - the last couple of days have been sad, but the memories are good. I will always miss her, never forget her and trust someday I will see her again.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Truth...

The Truth…Hurts
The truth is people die and that hurts. The truth is relationships are broken and that hurts. The truth is life’s not always fair and that hurts. The truth is things happen that we don’t understand and that hurts. I could continue, but I’m sure you get my point – “The truth hurts!”

My 98 year old grandmother passed away Sunday and though I knew it was coming it’s still been hard. Saying good-bye is never an easy thing and I’ve been amazed at the memories that have flooded my mind as I reflect on all we’ve shared. What a blessing to remember all the silly games we played, all the loaves of bread we baked, all the history she shared and all the wisdom she passed on.

The memories have given me smiles but at the same time I’m sad and in a way feel guilty for not making more time for this wonderful woman who always made time for me. Her death has once again given me a perspective check – what really matters? It’s not the things we do or the money we make, but the people we love. The truth is time goes by quickly and we will never get it back. With that, the truth is sometimes we waste it (and other gifts we’ve been given) and once we realize that, it hurts.

As our family grieves this loss, I’m also reminded of a relationship that is broken. The truth is there is tension between my mom and me and that hurts. As I watch my dad deal with losing his own mom, it hurts bad.

I realize the truth Lisa Whittle is discussing in her book is not about life and death, but simply being real, but in the midst of grief this is what’s on my heart. I can see the connections in my head, so we’ll see if I can put them on paper.

In this chapter Lisa discusses the idea that the truth heals. I have experienced that and am praying I will again as these current situations unfold. To some degree I already am, the truth that God has prepared a place for my grandma heals in a way only He can. There is peace knowing she is in a better place.

As I think about the opportunities I missed to visit my grandma for one reason or another it could be easy to beat myself up (I know I’ve done that a time or two today). Lisa’s words are a great reminder, “But in the process of admitting our mess-ups, we are not to get down on ourselves and continually beat up ourselves for it.” Those words are true for this situation and have held true for other things this book study brought. And the truth is they heal. God has convicted me, but I know He doesn’t condemn.

My prayer now is for the relationship that is broken. This has a lot to do with the third truth Lisa mentions, resolution. She says, “God created us to discern and discover who we are and where we function most effectively, without trying to be someone else.” Wow, those words hit home, but it has taken me 32 years to realize this. You see for far too long I lived to be who others thought I should be and the person I tried to please the most was my mom.

As I embrace the thought of God using me, yes me, and catch a vision of what He has created me for I am excited at times, but the truth is occasionally I still worry. I worry about what others will think and it really becomes hard when they actually tell me what those thoughts are. But the truth is Jesus faced persecution while here and as we follow Him, we will too and that hurts.

It is hard to be misunderstood and labeled because of my faith, but for the first time I’m really beginning to realize there is a purpose for the pain. And as my desire to be real increases for the first time I’m beginning to realize I also paid a price for hiding my faith. Others may not have seen it and I didn’t hear specific comments, but it hurt. Pretending may have made it easier for everyone else, but for me it was hard. At times I felt like an actor not knowing which scene I was in or what hat I should wear. So the truth is being real sets us free and that heals.

I have been blessed on my walk thru Lisa’s book, Behind Those Eyes and I pray God continues to draw me closer to Him and constantly strengthens my desire to be who He created me to be. Beyond that, I pray as others see me become a person they never knew they won’t just recognize what has changed, but will want to understand why I’ve changed.

Just like Lisa told us, I will say, “Discovering the truth about who we are takes away our need to be anyone else. And that, my friend, is the Truth that will once and for all, set your soul free. Jesus is the only One who can truly heal our souls, from the inside out.” That really is a truth that heals!!

Finally I’d like to close by thanking everyone who’s taken this journey with me, I’ve been blessed by your blogs and touched by your comments. It’s been encouraging to walk with you. Lisa I can’t thank you enough for the impact your book has played, God is using your words and I am grateful. And Lelia thank you for hosting, you are the hostess with the mostess!!

I’ll finish with a poem I was reminded of as Lisa shared about the puzzle dream -
A piece here,a piece there –
what will it look like in the end?
Alone, some pieces can’t be understood,
but as things come together their purpose is revealed.
As one piece fits into the next
things begin to make sense.
The pretty, simple piece is important,
but the challenging and difficult ones
play a role as well.
The puzzle stays undone
until every piece is in place.
When I’m the one to finish,
it’s a picture, I’ve completed,
but when it’s God putting the pieces together
it’s a life, He’s created.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Honor of my Grandma

Early last night, I received a call that my 98 year old grandma had passed away. The news didn't surprise as they had called her family home on Saturday, but the realness of the news made me sad. Anytime someone we love passes away, there is loss, pain and emptiness.

We shared the news with our children, who had loved "driving" Grandma to lunch in her wheelchair, and the questions began. My 3 year old innocently said, "Who will be my grandma Biwer now?" and our 5 year old son asked, "Who will take her place?"

The honest answer is hard because nobody can replace this wonderful woman God created and blessed us with for 98 years. Though I miss her, I'm confident she is in a better place and I'm thankful for the role she has played in my life through the years.

She has influenced and impacted many people through the years starting with her 6 children, 21 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren and 1 great-great grandson. The legacy there alone is wonderful.

And now in her death she continues to impact me as her passing causes me to reflect and think about what really matters. Regardless of how many years I have left, I pray that God would bless me the way He has her and that I would honor Him the way she has done.

I ask that you would keep her children and family in your prayers as we work through the grief and sadness. But as we pray for comfort, we also lift prayers of praise and thanksgiving because now Grandma is reunited with Grandpa - just in time to celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary on Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I was privileged to attend a Hearts at Home conference this past weekend and the experience was wonderful! The time with friends was needed, the opportunity to praise was marvelous, the encouragement was welcomed and the lessons were endless. And as I unpacked my bags I pondered a topic that has come up a lot lately. (Do you suppose there's a reason for that?)

I had put off unpacking since I had returned on Saturday night and began to think about my reasons for that. Because really it was fun packing on Friday as I prepared for my night away - the fun wasn't limited to my bags but my 3 children as well since they had plans for a sleepover at Grandma's. Now days later it seemed the fun had disappeared.

As I did what I had to do, my laundry pile grew and eventually the suitcases were empty, but thoughts turned to the internal baggage I rarely even set down let alone unpack. Just as we're eager to pack our bags when we're going away we do the same with the mistakes we've made and pain we've experienced. We fold it up, put it away and think others won't see it once it's been hidden.

Then for one reason or another the time comes when the bags have to be unpacked and it doesn't matter if it's a real duffel bag or a suitcase in the heart, we tend to drag our feet when facing this task. Nothing ever comes out as neat and tidy as when we put it in and just like my kids had some explaining to do with the things I found in their bags, we're forced to do the same with issues from the heart.

Like I said I eventually did unpack my bags and it felt good to have the job done. I was no longer forced to step around or trip over the out of place suitcases. The mess was gone and the same is true when we unpack the baggage of our heart. It feels good, provides peace and cleans up our heart.

Monday, November 10, 2008

An Interesting Call

Tonight I received a call that created plenty of emotions. A girl I coached a few years back called and asked if I had heard, I hadn't, so she went on to tell me she was pregnant. I was surprised and really not sure what to say - she's young and not married, so I asked the first question that came to mind, "When is the baby due?" She said, "April" and instantly thoughts turned to the baby I was supposed to deliver next spring. So I asked another question, "What day?" and she responded, "The 9th." That number sounded a lot like the 19th, the day I looked forward to until it took on a whole new meaning after our miscarriage on August 30th.

Needless to say my mind was going in many directions, but I listened as she spoke of her plans for the future, shared a little info about the baby's dad and told about her parents' reaction. As I listened I also prayed. I needed comfort for the pain that came back out of no where and guidance as to how I could help this girl who has always looked up to me. The guidance came first as I invited her to our MOPS meeting next week and shared a bit about the ministry and offered to listen or talk.

Once our conversation ended my need for comfort increased as the pain seemed to take over. I was taken right back to the sadness I had experienced months ago and the questions returned as well. Why Lord? Why did I lose my baby? Why did you take a baby from a family, one with a mom and dad who love each other and wanted this baby? It just didn't make sense and as I type it still doesn't. It hurts and the thing is the young girl is hurt too.

Obviously none of this was in either of our plans, but that's how life is, it's not about my plan, but God's. This past weekend I went to a Hearts at Home conference and was awed with God's presence, the transparency of the speakers and the stories of God's work. As I think about where this phone call has led, I'm reminded of Julie Barnhill's words in her session entitled, "I've Never Told This to Anyone." Much of what she said tied in with Lisa Whittle's book and the need for us to be real. She spoke of the secrets we keep and the pain that produces. She mentioned one area we tend to keep silent is our anger towards God. It's something we know we shouldn't do, but if we're honest during those situations we don't understand we can be angry with him.

Though I'm hurt by the poor choices my young friend made that has led to this point, I'm not angry at her. Honestly I'm thankful she is choosing life. But I'd have to say one of my many flaws came out tonight and I was angry, in a way I was angry with God. He took my baby or so it seems.

But as I sit here tonight and just be still I'm reminded of two other things from the conference. Trish Berg spoke of her experience with a miscarriage and the pain and sadness that included, but shared how she found peace knowing she was a vessel for that baby to get to heaven. And Micca Campbell's words about being a widow at the age of 21 came back as well - her husband's days were numbered and my baby's were as well. And as she said, life can stink sometimes, but God is good.

And He is forgiving. So because of that, tonight I ask for his forgiveness and after hours of emotions I finally feel at rest because of His peace. Yes I am flawed, much more than I like to admit, but there is a purpose - it's only because of these flaws that I sense the necessity of His forgiveness and the depth of His love.

If you'd like to read more about flaws and forgiveness, head to Lelia's blog as she hosts a study on Lisa Whittle's book, Behind Those Eyes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Talk it. Walk it. Chalk it.

Last night I recalled a motto a former professor used in my Ed Psych class - "Talk it. Walk it. Chalk it." He used it to talk about our role in the classroom. As teachers we were to share information with our students (talk it), then show them (walk it) and finally it explain it and help them own it themselves (chalk it). The theory made sense years ago as a college student, but now as I've been out of the classroom for almost 6 years I honestly hadn't thought much about this until last night.

But I've come to believe this not only applies to teaching students; it's relevant in sharing life's lessons as well. In my last post I shared about a timely talk I had with a friend this past Monday. Now many of our conversations have lasting impacts, but this was definitely unique. She had shared her biggest struggles and the choices she is least proud of, but in no way did this change how I thought about her. But in a way it affected thoughts about myself.

As I watched Leanne take off the mask, I was moved to take a better look at myself. The evening after our talk I didn't sleep much, but spent some quality time in prayer and after years of avoiding and trying to deny this issue I seriously discussed it with God. The peace that brought was wonderful.

I know God is a forgiving God and sensed he had already let this go, but as the next day passed satan started planting doubts. I knew they were lies, but yet they got in my head and I shared a bit of this with Leanne. She assured me of God's forgiveness and reminded me "nothing you say to me will make me think any different, I will promise you that."

I appreciated her words, but yet I wondered - Did I really need to tell her this? That was a question I struggled with for awhile. I mean I had already told God, wasn't that enough? Yesterday morning as the thought still rolled around in my head I had a comment back from Lisa Whittle in which she answered a question I had posted.

As we work through her book about being real, open and honest I asked if there are somethings that can stay just between us and God. I was blessed and touched by her answer and obviously the timing was all part of God's plan. She said, "I always try to check myself before I share things to make sure my motive is right. I always pray and ask myself before I share, "Will this be helpful to someone? Could this be used to help change some one's life?" The key is just to be open and willing to share whatever God wants you to and yet pray for discernment that you will share things only of Him. It sounds complicated, but really, it's just simply a matter of prayer and God seeking."

As I thought about her questions, I knew the answers. I really didn't think this would help Leanne or change her life, but God had impressed on me that someone would be helped and a life could be changed - mine. So I called and told her, "Yes it will work to get together."

We talked a little politics, caught each other up on our kids and made some final adjustments to our book. And as I read the following paragraph out of the epilogue, "Once his plan is revealed allow him to work by making yourself available and going where he leads. It will take time to build the relationship, but it will grow. Let go of the doubts and worries and simply be yourself. God is a God of truth and he will work through your honesty." As I read this God confirmed I was doing the right thing.

Was it easy? NO! Was it right? Yes! Trust me as I shared something I never had before I struggled more than I succeeded, but it was good. And freeing. Before we even started Leanne asked if I thought I had to tell her this and assured me for her sake I didn't need to bear my soul. I appreciated her words and realized it wasn't something I had to do for her sake, but in a way I did for mine.

Just three days earlier she had honored me by trusting me as a friend and sharing who she was and how that has helped her become who she is. I didn't need to tell her, but I wanted to. And now I'm glad I did. Did it change what happened or erase the mistakes I made? No, but it led to a wonderful conversation and reminded me of truths that are real and freeing. And when I saw the acceptance in her eyes and felt it in her embrace, I knew the same was true of God, but even in a bigger way.

All this brings me back to the title of this post. My husband had asked if were getting together to work on our book, one about the beauty of a spiritual mother-daughter relationship, and I said, "No." But as I drove home I realized I was wrong. Granted you will not finding anything we discussed on the pages of the book, but what took place is what it's all about.

We have talked about our faith and being real. Leanne has walked the walk. I have watched her live by faith and have been touched by her honesty. In society today that is often where things stop, but Leanne isn't simply talking it and walking it, she's doing just what my college prof instructed me to do, she's chalking it. Her example has inspired and influenced me to live this life myself and that is the beauty of a Titus 2 woman. The role she plays, changes the life I live!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A Timely Talk

It's Tuesday once again and time for Lelia's study of Lisa Whittle's Behind Those Eyes and once again the chapter is hitting me hard. Maybe the hardest yet. I am amazed at how God led me to this study, the timing of each chapter and the work He is doing through it. So onto chapter 8, We are Completely Loved and Accepted Completely.

Like I said the timing of this amazes me as just yesterday I had a wonderful talk with a very close friend. It seems our friendship grows stronger and deeper with each conversation we share and this talk was no different. She has shared the fact she made poor decisions in her past (haven't we all?) and was not proud of that fact (again I think we can relate), but yesterday she shared from the heart. Though I was surprised with the picture she painted of the person she once was, I didn't judge her, my perception of her didn't change and my respect for her has increased. Really in a way I admire her all the more. She did something I'm afraid to do and that has made me think...

And it all ties in with the book we are reading. We have been talking about being real and I have grown tremendously the last couple of years with that, but yesterday listening to my friend I was reminded of some buried pain in my life. Do I think I need to share it with the world? No, but do I need to deal with it? Yes!! As I reflected on our conversation through the night I never once thought negatively about my friend and her mistakes, but Satan had me dwelling on my own.

It's not that I've committed some terrible crime or really broken any law, but feelings of disappointment and disgust came to mind. Granted this struggle took place before giving my life to Christ, but still I can't believe some of my actions. When the mind starts working, some times bad things can happen or bad thoughts anyway. I wondered what my friend would think if our roles were reversed and honestly I know she'd listen, not judge and assure me of God's forgiveness, but yet it's hard.

But during the night I took a step, no I didn't call my friend, well not the one who's words triggered these thoughts instead I talked to my best friend. In the quiet of the night I had a talk with God unlike any I had before. Sure I've asked for forgiveness, but never specifically talked about this and called it by name. And it was good. Just as I had wondered and in a way worried about what my friend would think of me if I told her, I also thought about God - would he be as disgusted as I was? Could he still love me and accept me? Would he still value who I've become even after knowing who I had been?

That's when Lisa's words came back to mind, "And He loves us still, even in our curlers and terry-cloth bathrobes, (and I might add in our poor choices, mistakes and sin) unsightly to anyone else but Him." I didn't have to tell Him any of this - He already knew and He still loved me and accepted me. Though I didn't have to tell Him for His sake, I did for mine and I am grateful I did. My honesty with my heavenly Father simply reminded me of his love and again as Lisa says, "And when you experience it (His love) in your heart, it makes it impossible to settle for love of any other kind."

His love is real and when we're real with Him we experience it all the more. These words make me think of a wonderful Point of Grace song, "Heal the wound, but leave a scar so I'm reminded of how merciful you are." I believe my healing process is beginning and as it does I'm hurt and humbled. It's all another reminder of my sin and brokenness and it hurts to think that's what nailed Jesus to the cross, but it's beyond humbling to think He did that for me.

There's no explanation for that other than a love we really don't understand, but one that we so greatly need. With that love comes acceptance and as Lisa says, "It is the REAL DEAL."