My Daughter is My Sister!

For a while now, as Ashley's friends have made the decision to give their lives to Christ and be baptized, she has mentioned it. We have talked about it as a family, and I have prayed about it frequently. Truly, her biggest obstacle, in her mind, is her 'crowd shyness'. She absolutely, positively, didn't want to be baptized in front of the church and she absolutely, positively, didn't want to be 'singled out' in front of church afterward even if she chose to be baptized in private. I continued to assure her neither of those were requirements for telling Jesus you were ready to be His girl, but she just wasn't sure...

Last week, while Ashley was safely tucked away at camp, and Troy and I were cuddled on the couch watching a movie, she sent me a text message, "I HAVE to get baptized in the next week! I can't explain it, but it's something I have to do." There were other words, that I treasured in my heart (and on my iphone! ;-), but with those words, she didn't HAVE to explain it. I knew. We really didn't talk about it much at all when she got home, but last night after we got home from church, we opened up the conversation about it. In short, she felt exactly the same: it must be done. She was ready to go in my bathtub!!
But we chose to break into let ourselves into the church, just the 4 of us. (Roxanne said, "There's nothing like a little breaking and entering with your parents before giving your life to Christ." Indeed). Her daddy said some beautiful words about her decision, what it meant to HER, as well as what it meant to all of us. I didn't cry too much. But I am so amazingly thankful. According to Acts 2:38, now my daughter has received the gift of the Holy Spirit. I believe that with that indwelling, no matter the choices she makes in her life or the roads she may walk, the Spirit will remind her again and again of the cleansing waters she experienced -- a joining of Christ in his death when He was the ultimate sacrifice. I'm walking on the clouds right now, watching the heavens rejoicing as they welcome my new sister!

P.S. youtube is still chugging trying to upload the video. If you would like to see it, email me sstirman [at] gmail [dot] com and I will send you the link to it (if it ever fully uploads!)



How did summer get so busy? This week has been appointment this and appointment that with a meeting thrown in for good measure. And? It's hot. I know, it's hot where you are, but I mean it is CRAZY hot. Actually today it is almost bearable hot, but earlier? Crazy hot.

Part of our appointments/ obligations have been getting the kids 'fixed up' -- braces for her, ankle checks for him, basketball game for her, soccer sign-ups for him. I am so thankful for all the comings and goings and doings I am able to be present for. Last night Ashley had a basketball game -- she's playing on a summer league (obviously). For some reason, she always wants her jersey number to be '3'. I can't tell you what it does to this momma's heart to hear the opposing coach yell, "Watch out for number 3!! Watch out for number 3!!" That's right -- watch out! I love it.

This year will be her first year to play athletics for a school -- 7th grade. Which means 7 a.m. practices. And, yes, if you play athletics, you play all year long. For her, that will be volleyball, basketball, and tennis ('cause she's not real into that 'track' thing). Approximately 175 days of 7 a.m. practices. Check with me in February, but right now, I simply cannot wait. Ashley is at home on any court (Watch out for number 3!!) as evidenced by the huge, cheesy grin she has pretty much the entire time she plays. I can't wait to help her get to practice what she loves to do.

And soccer sign-ups? We did check with the orthopedist if that was an okay venture or not. He gave his blessing, but we do have an appointment with a physical therapist (Riley is REALLY offended at having a 'therapist'! I told him all the awesome athletes do!) to teach us what we can do here at home to strengthen those ankles since, as the doc says, soccer is hard on ankles! Say a prayer!

That's the chatty news from Lake Wobegon. Blissfully un-dramatic. Just hot. Oh, I guess the biggest drama is our poor swimming pool's chemical battle against the green-ness of the water. It's been a rough year, let's just say, for the ol' pool. But, when it's 108*, one is in need of a pool. A blue, crystal clear pool -- not a green, cloudy one. I keep threatening to put one in at my house. I think it's time, don't you?


Set The World on Fire!

I couldn't choose!Ashley was at camp at ACU last week. Worth every penny (and it took more than a few pennies) for the way it affected her. Besides that, it led me to this awesome song! All 3 videos are the same song. The top video is my favorite, the bottom includes lyrics, and the middle is just good!

(Funny side note: I mentioned to one camp employee how much we loved this song, which was played through at least 3 camp sessions for middle school, perhaps even the 3 high school sessions. He mentioned that if he heard it one more time he might, in fact, set the world on fire! I guess we all have our limits... :-)



Shuffling around clutter today, I happened across one of my nametags from a former employer. Besides wondering why I still have it, I started thinking about what it means/ meant. "I'm on the team!" "I belong here!" "I may even know something!" I think it's born with us to be hungry to be a part of something -- meaningful or not. Rabid sports-team fans and over-enthusiastic PTA moms come to mind as folks who are eager to belong and show allegiance.

I think truly, more than losing adult interaction, stay-at-home moms miss being a part of something -- or maybe it was just me. It's so hard to see, in the middle of the diapers and sippy-cups and strained peas, that what you are doing matters to anyone, and you feel completely adrift. Not a part of anyone's team or group -- simply you and your family.

Which is where the glory of our Heavenly Father comes in. Jesus is my brother, the creator of the universe my Father, are you kidding me? How much more 'in' do I need to be? What better group could there be? I wish I could say that is always enough for me. Too often the pull of this world causes me to long for the approval of the group, acceptance by the masses, and applause of the many.

May my focus change and my heart know that only One delights in me, only One knows me fully, only One always welcomes and loves me. And I pray that is enough, and that my life reflects my longing to please Him.

"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17


Good Things Out There

My daughter and I are about to have a drawerful of Hip-T's.

I so love it when Lysa is so transparent...

Purse sale! Need I say more?

Roxanne has shown me stuff from this blog before, but I happened back onto it recently. Wow -- beautiful things out there.

Joshilyn Jackson has given me new neuroses about why I can't write. Evidently, my house is used up.

Look! A new pedicure idea! No thank you.

Recently found this guy. HILARIOUS!

Some of the very same things that let us know that America is going down the tubes are what make America great. And, I must include "America's Got Talent" in that category. Some of the acts on that show lead you to believe that not only does America not have talent, it doesn't have class or intelligence either. Then came Emily. She's got my vote.


Question for the Day

Help me with a writing project.

I'm thinking of ways that children get completely consumed in their imaginary world, whether by pretending the bed is a boat and the carpet is water, or the brush is a microphone and the stuffed animals are the screaming fans.

What are childhood imaginations/ fantasies you remember getting totally lost in, or you currently see your children getting lost in?


Fitness Friday Revisited

As summer continues to blaze, my fitness aspirations have dissolved to avoid sweating while being still. Sometimes I have to go lay down to succeed. That is pretty much the extent of my fitness plan for the summer. Between that, and my diet of : Sharky's burritos, sno-cones, and an occasional Dairy Queen blizzard, for some reason my clothes seem to be shrinking. Starting next Friday, August 1, I am going to re-instate Fitness Fridays here on the ol' blog to encourage us to get off our keesters and move. Or, just encourage ME to get off my keester while you sit on the couch with the chips. Next Friday, I will encourage us to move. This Friday, let's just take it easy.

While you're taking it easy, check out The Coffee Group's new look for our blog. Special thanks to Jen at blue yonder design for our awesome new look!


Phone Pic

Stephanie mentioned in a comment that my version of fun includes my iphone. And she is oh-so-right. And some day I will have a whole list of all the things I love about my iphone. But today I just wanted to share a pic that I took with my phone that completely cracks me up. A few weeks ago, Riley and I were in PetSmart to get who-knows-what for Stickers, and happened by the 'little rodent' cages -- or whatever it is. These little guys cracked me up: snoozing in the back of their toy truck, they look like they threw Little Louie out on his rear, where Louie couldn't be bothered to wake up.Caption, anyone?


Mamma Mia, the review

ABBA pre-dates even me. But at some point in late high school or early college years, I happened across a 'Best of...' cassette tape for probably $1.99. I almost wore that tape out between Louisiana and Abilene in college singing along to the ABBA hits.

Last night many friends gathered to watch this summer's chic flick: Mamma Mia. Denise has had the soundtrack for a few weeks in preparation to sing along. I have to confess, Denise wasn't as obnoxious vibrant as I imagined she would be. I did even pre-apologize for how loud my row would likely be to someone I knew in the theater.

All in all, Mamma Mia is a silly, fun little story filled with your favorite ABBA music. Silly because it's a musical -- and aren't all storylines where people burst into song just a little (or a lot) silly? There were times that I thought I was seeing ACU Sing Song where the groups had more than $7 for prop budget. Meryl Streep is finally someone a little bit different than Meryl Streep -- I think only because she's singing, though. And Pierce Brosnan singing? Bless. The lady sitting next to me leaned over and said, "Oh, he should have taken some lessons." I replied, "I read an interview -- he did." He's still very pretty to look at.

Don't go in search of Schindler's List. But go if you just want an evening of ABBA music. And, just a sneak preview, but Coffee Group is pretty sure we're going to get some outfits like this for our next speaking gig. Especially Meryl's sleeves.


Life 101

The calendar pages flip, the birthday candles add up, the grays multiply and gravity takes its toll. Life can wear a person out, but if you're smart, you learn a few things along the way.

Some things I've learned are fairly inconseqential, yet valuable. For instance, you're in the grocery store for a few things. You pick up one thing. Then another. You get to the back of the store and remember the ingredients for the cupcakes you're supposed to bake, or the 20 lb. box of detergent you need, whatever. You realize you REALLY should have grabbed a cart and sigh at the prospect of returning to the front of the store to get one. Then, lo and behold! A cart! Seemingly sent from heaven, empty and unattended, as if the angel Gabriel provided you ease of shopping. Listen up: DO NOT GET THAT CART! Do you hear me? That cart is from Satan and was abandoned for a reason! It will challenge your religion as well as your vow to clean up your language. It is worth the trip to the front of the store! Simply one thing I have learned on my journey.

Another thing just continues to bubble in front of me, and I can't let it go. I've heard it a minimum of a million six times. It's scripture so I would never have challenged it, but I just have seen it lived out too many times to ignore it:

"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders
away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one
that wandered off? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about
that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same
way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be
lost." Matthew 18:12-14

As Coffee Group travels telling our stories, I never fail to hear something new in our stories. But one thing I consistently think when Tammy tells her story of years of wandering, seeking peace and comfort in places other than God's arms, is how God wouldn't let her stay there. He sought her out, hunted her down, and wouldn't let her go. I thought the same thing reading "Same Kind of Different As Me". Both of the authors mention shallow (or non-existent) faith in their lives, but the story that unfolds is, to me, evidence that God wouldn't rest until they had returned.

The recent attention that Josh Hamilton has garnered is yet another illustration of that (you MUST click on that link -- AMAZING). Truly, I would yet to hear about him if not for Kelly, the cutest baseball fan I know, but his story so clearly illustrates God's tenacious seeking of His wandering children. And, just last night, I was having a phone conversation with my own brother, who had what I call "his prodigal years". We were talking about how heart-breaking it was for the rest of us in my family to see him like that. I mentioned that I believe with all of my heart (and I still do) that it was the fervent, pleading prayers of my mother that brought that child of God back into the fold. Even as I said it, though, I continued to think -- mom's prayers, and God's faithfulness to His children. God wouldn't let my brother go. He refused to surrender one of His children to the darkness. And, by my brother's own account -- it isn't like he was, at the time, very valuable to the Kingdom.

But, oh, the value of a rescued soul. The hearts they can touch. If for no other reason, than to proclaim, "If He wanted me, the way I was, then He probably wants you, too." God gives us the freedom to try, but you cannot sin beyond His love and forgiveness. Nor can you run far enough from His loving embrace. The story of the prodigal is so glorious. The moment the son could be seen returning to his Father's home, "But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." (Luke 15:20)

Obviously, way better than learning how to avoid a rotten shopping cart, I am convinced that the Lord seeks out His children relentlessly. And when He sees them over the top of hill, He gathers His robes around His feet and runs to meet that child with loving arms. Glory.


Trying Something New

So here I am, 74 mph on the interstate (not currently driving), typing
with my thumbs. Blogger has an email address where I can email in a
blog post and there it will be! Theoretically. So I thought I would
try 'drive-by blogging' OR, literally, 'phoning it in'! And, no, I'm
not telling you the email address. I know how you people operate!

Sharp subject change: it occurs to me that not only am I not a thrill-
seeker, I'm not even a fun-seeker. Which makes me vastly different
than many of my 'running buddies' -- those I 'run around with' that
wouldn't be caught dead actually running. My buddies live for fun and
fun times. But anytime someone tells me: "We are going to have SO!
MUCH!! FUN!!!", I know the most fun will be watching others have their
fun. Forced/ planned fun times are usually loud and active, which
isn't my brand of fun.

So I have been pondering what IS my brand of fun. It occurs to me that
my brand of fun isn't about doing, it's about being: being with
friends, being with family, being at peace, being away from pressing
responsibilities. Not to say that my friends' brand of fun wouldn't
INCLUDE those things,but I'm a fairly subdued kind of seeker. Some
might even call it 'lethargic.'

So, when someone asks you what they can do that would be fun for me,
tell them, "Just let her be." Seriously. And it will be more fun than
I can stand!

From the highway,
Peace out.

Sent from my iPhone


Book Review

Just finished reading 'The Shack'.
Yes, it's good. Much truth within those pages. Does it live up to the hype? There is a LOT of hype about the book -- mostly deservedly so. But it made me read most of the book thinking, "So what's the big deal about this?"

In short, the Shack is about a man who spends a weekend at a shack -- what is likely the crime scene of his murdered six year old daughter -- with God. Actually with The Trinity. (all of this is on the cover of the book -- I'm not giving a ton away with this). But, as you might imagine, that makes part of the book very difficult/ painful to read. I had to 'press on' further than most people said they did -- again, I'm sure because of the skeptical way I approached the book.
I would highly recommend you read this book. I would highly recommend you NOT approach it as preaching/ theology to prove or disprove. It is fiction. But it is fiction that I will carry with me and roll around in my brain for a while.
Other friends who have reviewed The Shack:


Stickers the Hedgehog

I have been somewhat remiss in introducing our new family member here. Stickers the hedgehog was brought into our family on Monday, May 5. I will try to answer the many, many questions we have gotten about Stickers since we've had her.

Why a hedgehog?

Excellent question! In spring 2004, we visited a children's museum that had a hedgehog as a pet. We thought it would be so fun to have a hedgehog! We started asking around a little bit. They, like dogs and children, reflect the way they have been raised from babies. If they are used to people and socialization, they will do really well with people. That wasn't the time for us to be getting a hedgehog, but a couple of years ago, we started thinking about it again...

Stickers in the pocket of my robe.

Where did you get this one?

Actually, from a hedgehog breeder in North Central Texas! (local pet stores do not carry them as a general rule -- but have had a couple over the years) Go figure... We started trying to get one -- as a baby-- last spring ('07). You just don't want to know how many hedgehog disasters we have been through to get Stickers! If the deal with Stickers had fallen through, I was going to take the sign from the Lord that we are not meant to be hedgehog owners!

Stickers sporting two quills that looked like horns.
Do you let her run around the house/ and have you ever lost her?
No and no and we believe the two are related!! Hedgehogs are 1)burrowers and 2)nocturnal. To 'lose' her in our house would mean that she would burrow and sleep through the day, and get up at night to poop AND search for food that she wouldn't be able to get to. We play with her frequently, but never leave her unattended.
Peek-a-boo Stickers
What does she eat/ where does she live?
She eats dry cat food and lives in a hamster-type cage. She has a little 'igloo' that she burrows in to sleep, and a wheel to run in at night.

Stickers being introduced to the dust mop. Later, we will train her to use it!

Is she prickly?

Um, yeah. Prickly -- and downright painful when she wants to be. Most of the time, she's just your basic prickly. NEVER soft, except for the white fur around her face.

Does she bite?

Nope -- no need. She's prickly. If she smells food on your hands, she'll try a nibble -- but she always licks it to taste first, so if your finger is still there, it's your own fault.

What does Duchess think?

Duchess REALLY wants to play with her -- as in toss her to and fro, play fetch USING her, etc. She's most disappointed that she can't get Stickers in her mouth comfortably. But she can't, so Duchess, outweighing Stickers by about 7,000 times, doesn't bother Stickers in the least.

All in all, we are having a great time with Stickers. You'll have to come play!


Funky Hat?

My children broaden my horizons greatly. This totally cracks me up, though I'm about 3 times the target age...


End of the Week!

Well, I had all manner of fun things to tell you this week, but I have had to do major battle to get to my computer this week. Generally, there is an offspring standing over me with a watch timing me to complete my one email I promised I would ONLY send then get off the computer.

Oh, it's TV-free week at our house, did I mention? I usually make that include all screens (computer, Gameboy, etc.) but I didn't have the gumption this go-round.

One thing that I scheduled us to do this week (this will show you how pathetic I am that I had to schedule this) was to go 'watch the stars come out'. Riley has been asking for OVER A YEAR to do that! (I know, really! I recognize how sad I am!) So Wednesday p.m. I told the kids to have a blanket and bug spray in the car before church. After church -- the talking and the what-not -- we piled into the car, headed north, stopping at McDonald's for sundaes (and cinnamon melts for me -- pause for 'yum' thoughts!), and went to a lawn on the ACU campus to watch the stars come out. It was too bright for actual star-gazing, but it was glorious fun to sit with my family and find a star that, 8 seconds prior, had been invisible. The weather was AMAZING and almost cool-ish. It was free (except for the sundaes) and a precious memory.

Go make a memory with your family.


Good Things Out There

Busy Weekend!

Emily got married. Greg had his 4th baby -- 1st boy! Beverly is at a conference! I feel like such a slacker...!

These are just for laughs. Vann has a challenge.

This is one of my elders. I don't know his wife well, because she is unable to come to church due to caring for their child. A beautiful story of choosing to love.


One Word

From Roxanne and Melanie. I found it a HUGE challenge to answer with one word!

1. Where is your cell phone? table
2. Your significant other? hard worker
3. Your hair? straight
4. Your mother? learner
5. Your father? warm
6. Your favorite thing? family
7. Your dream last night? iphone!
8. Your favorite drink? peach tea
9. Your goal or dream? author
10. The room you’re in? office
11. Your kids? hilarious
12. Your fear? failure
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Abilene
14. Where were you last night? friends
15. What you’re not? athletic
16. Muffins? spice
17. One of your wish list items? landscaping!
18. Where you grew up? Louisiana
19. The last thing you did ? camera
20. What are you wearing? shorts
21. Your TV? petite
22. Your pets? family
23. Your computer? new
24. Your life? happy
25. Your mood? thoughtful
26. Missing someone? parents
27. Your car? gas-guzzler
28. Something you’re not wearing? perfume
29. Favorite Store? Target
30. Your summer? relaxing
31. Like someone? yeah...
32. Your favorite color? yellow
33. When is the last time you laughed? comedian
34. Last time you cried? ummmm...?
35. The person who sent this to you? friend
36. Who will/would resend this? unknown
37. A good book? changing
38. A good movie? funny
39. A good song? happy
40. One word to share? peace


Book Review(s)

It took me getting past teaching swim lessons to really start in on some summer reading. And now I am making up for lost time!! I haven't done much summer reading in years past, but I am making an effort now. Just too much out there for me not to!!

I picked this up at the library -- mainly just because I was curious about the picture:

First, I loved it!! Second, I'm not sure I can recommend it to normal people, because I know few people who are as fascinated as I am by why our brains do what they do. In short, a neuroanatomist (studier of brain anatomy) had a stroke at age 37. She talks about the stroke and her recovery from her scientific point of view. I found it so fascinating. It also contains VERY good advice/ help for caregivers of anyone with any type of brain trauma. She also talks about how many YEARS it took her to fully recover some functions, even though 5 months after the stroke she walked onto a stage and gave a speech about the brain that had been scheduled before the stroke. In short, I really liked it and found it tremendously valuable, but I'm not sure everyone would.

I'm currently reading this:

And I recommend it to EVERYONE. The subtitle says "a modern-day slave (co-author Denver Moore was raised on a plantation in Louisiana), an international art dealer (co-author Ron Hall -- from Fort Worth), and the unlikely woman (Ron Hall's wife, Deborah) who bound them together." Ron Hall and Denver Moore are scheduled to speak at ACU this fall and I am SO there! Can't wait. Denver was never educated in a classroom but he has some amazing gold in wisdom. Beverly has one excerpt that I just got to today that I love. (The book alternates between one chapter from Denver's point of view and one from Ron's).

"I slept in the doorway of that United Way over on Commerce Street for a whole lotta years. And every mornin for all that time, a lady who worked there brought me a sandwich. I never knowed her name and she never knowed mine. I wish I could thank her. Funny, though. That United Way buildin was right next door to a church and for all them years, nobody at the church never looked my way."

"When you is precious to God, you become important to Satan. Watch your back, Mr. Ron."

"You know, if you ain't poor, you might think it's the folks in them big ole fine brick churches that's doin all the givin and the carin and the prayin. I wish you coulda seen all them circles a' homeless folks with their heads bowed and their eyes closed, whisperin what was on their hearts. Seemed like they didn't have nothin to give, but they was givin what they had, takin the time to knock on God's front door and ask Him to heal this woman that had loved them."

I'm a little more than halfway through it. The little gal that checked me out when I bought it said that she was reading it -- up there at the cash register -- but she could tell the last 10 chapters were going to make her cry, so she had to put it away while she worked! I think I'm almost to that point! But it is a book about breaking through stereotypes and pre-conceived ideas about your fellow man.

Happy 4th to one and all!


Random Thoughts for Wednesday

Personal to readers in my neighborhood:
a) Roxanne and I are participating in a Bible study long distance. Every-other Tuesday night I leash up the dog, put my headphones on (which is also my phone) and walk the neighborhood while I talk to Roxanne on the phone. So, if you see me having some deep conversation with Duchess about functional gods and the desire to be holy as He is holy, I'm really talking to Roxanne. I've been meaning to say that for some time now -- please spread the word. I think people are starting to wonder.
b) To the kind soul that found our ever-so-stinky Duchess who took an unauthorized, unaccompanied tour of the neighborhood and returned her to our backyard while we were in a cool theater: Thank you so much. She's not much on aroma or obedience, but she's family.

Now, to bore everyone with my soul-baring true confessions:
You know, bless my soul, I don't think of myself as having very many natural gifts other than the desire to learn to do better in order to compensate for not having a natural gift. I'm not a cook, decorator, organizer, or bargain shopper by nature. Which makes me a little bit of a flop in the wife and mother department if not for my unrelenting determination to learn to do better (or learn who to hire to do such things!) And, truly, I am always willing to learn and thanks to the miracle that is youtube, I can learn all manner of things. So I have watched this video no fewer than 3 times, and I will NEVER be able to do this -- but I will try to the death!

While we're on the subject, in my constant, yet ever-so-sad, quest for improving this area of my life, I did see a tip to keep a set of folded sheets in the pillowcase of the set. Handy.

For a praise update!! Riley's foot is broken in the same exact way that it was (but it was 7 months ago, not 8 -- late November) but on the opposite side. It's not quite as bad and, for some reason, there is no pain at the site of the fracture, but on the opposite side. So, doc wanted to treat it like a sprain instead of a fracture! We are SO thankful! He's on crutches and in a brace/ splint for 4 weeks (for the brace -- the crutches are just as pain dictates). Which means we are headed to the pool tomorrow! YAY and "Thank you, Lord!!" On the way to the ER I remembered that the Dr.s parting words in January when he took off the cast were, "It all looks great. You're free to do whatever. I don't like trampolines much, though." Yeah, he was on a trampoline. He was at a church function at a local gymnastics center. I think we'll remember longer than 6 months to stay off of trampolines!

Saw Wall-e tonight with the kids. Very cute, and I really like the message about taking care of our earth AND our bodies.

Does anyone have any great plans for our country's 222nd birthday?



Same song, next verse, eight months later. Last night my 10 year old son and I experienced a feeling of déjà vu as we traveled to the same emergency room to have the same foot x-rayed so a (different!) doctor could tell us that he had fractured his ankle the same way he did eight months ago. Same injury, different season. Now, instead of trying to figure out how to keep toes warm in 40* weather, we have to figure out how to keep a cast dry in swimming pool season. This too shall pass.

Of course our emergency room visit took a while and we got home at bedtime needing to eat dinner. By the time we ate and medicated and propped the foot in bed, I just wanted to collapse in my own bed. Collapse I did, but sleep wouldn’t come. I kept thinking of the injury. Even though we witnessed indescribable grief and pain at the hospital, I could only think of my own baby boy and his painful injury. I kept replaying the moment in my mind over and over. I didn’t even see it happen – only heard the awful wails after the fact – but I pieced together in my mind what he relayed had happened and watched it like a movie stuck on the same loop.

I finally crawled out of bed to find a new image to put in my brain. I grabbed my Bible, curled up in my chair, and started reading. “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…” (John 19:25) That’s as far as I could go. I thought of the horrific images Mary must have had burned into her brain. I imagined the black days between Friday and Sunday. Her baby boy lay motionless behind the stone and she longed to think of him as the pink, squishy newborn she had nursed or as the precocious young man in the temple speaking wisdom. But she couldn’t shake the image of the broken body on the cross. Was her joy complete when she saw him whole again – or could she only think of the tortured body on the cross? He forgave me for my sin that kept him nailed there – I wonder if she ever did?

Mary probably never struggled to grasp the enormity of what it cost for her to have eternal life. There was likely never a communion meal of remembrance that Mary composed a shopping list in her head or counted the minutes until the restaurant opened. The image of her own baby boy broken and nailed to a cross was a picture in a locket forever in her brain. Each moment of remembrance was filled with agony of the memory combined with flooding gratitude for what it means for each of us.

May I be Mary-minded and walk in constant remembrance and gratitude of the precious lamb of God sacrificed so that I may be pure before the throne of God.

How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal
Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts
that lead to death so that we may serve the living God! Hebrews 9:14

Going Home

by Sarah Stirman
on heartlight

The phone call came on a Tuesday morning, just as my family was yawning awake to face another busy day. Not at all unexpected, but unwilling to verbalize what was reality, my dad simply said, "Well, you know why I've called." And I did. My grandfather's victory was won: he was finally free of a body imprisoned by pain.

I set about my day making plans for leaving my home — getting my children's school work squared away, church obligations taken care of, and substitute plans in place for my absence. My husband performed the same juggling act for his work. The next morning we packed up here, my "grown-up home" where I have a family and a job and a mortgage and friends and church family and church obligations — and headed to my childhood home. We left West Texas, with its scrubby mesquite trees and arid climate and drove to my childhood home, the claustrophobic embracing trees of North Louisiana with its oppressive humidity and heat. We gathered to celebrate the life — earthly and eternal — of my grandfather, a crucial part of my heritage of faith.

The morning we left Louisiana, I took a walk as the rest of the world came awake. I watched the sun rise over the bayou and cherished this place, my home — the place that knows my people, my kin, the place that knows from whence I came, the place that has known me and loved me from the beginning. It is so comfortable here. Here I feel so much "at home" ... but not quite.

My thoughts turned to my "grown-up home," where I would be going later that day — the place where my friends surround me and love me in spite of my weaknesses, the place where I raise my family and serve the Lord in His church. So much "at home" ... but not quite.

Then I thought of my grandfather. He was finally home. He was where I long to be. The world says, "You can never go home again." Scripture says, "I am going to prepare a place for you" (John 14:1-3). We haven't even been home yet! The world says, "Home is where the heart is." Scripture says, "Set your mind on things above" (Colossians 3:1-4).

Our heavenly home knows from whence we came:

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb (Psalm 139:13).My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place.When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,your eyes saw my unformed body.All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:15-16).

Our heavenly home also loves us in spite of our weaknesses. Better yet, "My power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Paul reminded the Philippians of our citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). Each time a precious saint of this earth passes into heaven, I am reminded again that this earthly house and body that I am blessed with are only meant to be temporary shelter, not a permanent dwelling (2 Corinthians 5:1-10).

Lord, don't let the attractions of this world block the beauty of my eternal home. Remind me daily of the things of You that are truly important and lead me to recognize the things of this world that are simply burdensome distractions. Put on my heart a longing for my Home.
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