You Are Normal!

 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities;

–          Hebrews 4:15 KJV

We often joke in my household that I would never make a good politician because I tell everything about and on myself so there would never be any dirt to dig up…unless you looked under the carpet.  I believe the wearing of my heart on my sleeve comes from having a testimony of a loving God that has been too good to me to keep it to myself.  I pretty much live an open book. Or so I thought.

My ministry is the often sharing of being joyful in troubled times, trusting God no matter what and believing how He would restore all.  Nice, tidy, wonderful sounding inspiration…missing one major detail.   Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was fear.  Maybe I could not stand to have to utter words aloud that would cause me to think and deal with it or myself.

But recently I was faced with three persons that “outed” me.   One was struggling to hold on in faith when modern medicine said “no way.”  Another because of past mistakes was wondering how God could ever love her.   Finally, the third who had lost the roof over her head due to medical and legal difficulties.  Each supposing lack in their faith because they were scared, they were hurt, and they were ashamed of the way they felt.

Normally, I would have an easy answer for their queries of “I don’t understand how you do it?” But God challenged me to pull the last bit from under the rug.   It didn’t sound like such a testimony to me, but from each of the “three” I received either a “why didn’t you tell me” or “gee, you hid that well.”  Finally I was convicted by “I really needed to hear that….I am normal”.

My secret you ask?   It was simply the answer “ME TOO”.

Most of you already know that it has been close to 5 years now since my son simultaneously went deaf and into final stage renal failure.  I have not been slack to share most of the experience… highs and lows.  What I failed to share… and even now I hesitate to say it…..the day I got mad with God.

You see, after years of countless surgeries, repeated illness and thrice weekly dialysis treatments, a suitable donor match had been found.  We immediately went into preparation mode to get the house ready for infection control, not spending a spare dime since I would be out of work for weeks, and tip toeing around family and friends because we wanted to keep the surprise quiet until after the procedure. We cancelled all travel, all vacations and even my participation in what could have been a career changing convention concert.

And then “it” happened!  I was in devotions one morning and I clearly heard God say to me “Forget the Back-up Plan…”   I didn’t have a clue what that meant at the time, but I knew it meant to trust Him.   In my mind’s eyes I immediately applied that thought to my finances, my job and so on and so on.  Everything except what would come next.

Just a few days before we were supposed to check into the hospital, I get a cold emotionless call from a third party nurse.   She gave no explanation. She would not answer any of my questions.   She offered no empathy or sympathy. She simply said a very technical version of “No Go. “

I don’t remember any reports of earthquakes that day.  But I felt it.   I didn’t know how I was going to tell my son, who was so excited about finally being free from the pain and isolation of dialysis.   I was furious. Was God playing with me like a cat with a string?   Imagine if you will, me going off by myself because I didn’t want any people to know though I knew in my spiritual mind God had a plan…..my heart and my head was all jacked up.  I wanted to know what I had done wrong.  I wanted to know what I needed to do better

As if God had not seen me, I reminded Him of all the nights I stood by my son’s bedroom door praying and listening for his breath making sure it was still there.   I reminded Him, how we believed through all the extreme body pain when the high dose narcotics wouldn’t do.   I reminded Him, how we stayed faithful even when were too tired to function.   I even bargain that even if my prayers were no good, then surely somebody amongst all the folks that prayed for our family there had to be one….even just one… whose faith was greater.

My screams were met with simply “Forget the Back-up Plan.”

It became clear that God was telling me to trust Him even when I could not trace Him. We found out later than the donor had a sudden condition that disqualified him.  If we had received that kidney, it would have failed us quickly.    We would have been in a bigger mess than what we started with.  Just like His Word says in Jeremiah 29, He has a plan that has a good and certain end.  For our Good and not to harm us.

As I told my three friends, it didn’t happen overnight.  Months have passed now and I still jump a little when the phone rings at night.   I will be honest and let you know that this piece took days to write because tears started to flow amidst a whole lot of “God I am sorry. “

I reveal all these things to simply let you know that whatever you are going through, You ARE normal.  Being faithful and believing is not always easy, but so very worth it.    Yes, Philippians 4:4 tells us to “Rejoice in the Lord Always, “  and then goes on to say “Again I say rejoice. “  I surmise that if we have to be told and then reminded to rejoice then apparently it “aint” always easy.

Believe it or not, He knows you hurt.  He is not a God so far out that He is not touched with our personal pains (Hebrews 4:15).  He is okay with you being honest about it.  He will not strike you down for asking questions.

Just remember that it is faith that moves mountains… not tears.   Cry but keep pushing!!!!

A Christmas Story

Twas the night before Christmas

And I had just closed my country store.

Turned the locks, shaded the windows

When there was a frantic knock on the door.

The sales were quite over. Merchandise was quite done.

I had had quite enough of Christmas.

Nothing left to sell ya, not a toy. Not a one.

 

I was quite tempted,

To shout “No Room At The Inn”

But remembered my Sunday School Teacher

She’d  say “ Naughty, Naughty Sin”

It was a Papa, a Mama, and a few little ones

How could I pass?

Seeing chubby cheek chilled faces

Pressed against that last pane of glass.

 

The snow and wind came in behind them,

A huge chill filled the air

Yet there was a warm glow all about them

Oh so happy I was there.

“Patch of Ice You Say, Car in a ditch, Everything Tossed”

“Big Boom” the children said excitedly

Mama chimed  “cold and lost”
On the phone  was Papa

“ We can’t wait, no place to stay.”

“Sorry Buddy”  the tow driver retorted

“Don’t you know it’s a Holiday”

Everything then in me

Wanted to hide under my bed and weep.

For surely in house full of strangers

This old shop keeper would get no sleep.

 

So I rekindled  the fire,

Boiled milk  for  a cup of cocoa or two

Exclaimed not much food left in here

But all I have is open to you.

The Kids  Got All Excited,

and  Raced to the Tree

At the prospect of candy canes still hanging

And suddenly free.

Mama was ingenious,

what she did with that spam.

Totally convinced me and the Papa

Of the miracle of canned ham.

 

As I pulled blankets, and soft pallets

And strew them about the floor

I realized though I had made a killing this Christmas,

It was they that truly had more.

They played games,  they told stories

They laughed about with glee.

They had a joy  about them

That had long ago escaped me.

 

My head and heart couldn’t take it

I yelled for them to stop

How could they be so crazy happy

When their holiday was such a flop?

No real food, amiss from  presents,

and sleeping on the floor.

Stuck in ditch and with a grumpy stranger

In an empty Christmas store.

 

When just then ,

a little hand tugged

at the hem of my dress

Said “ Hey Lady ,

in Jesus there are no strangers

and this  aint such a mess.

See we headed to grandpa’s  fancy house

Up on a really big hill

Though we were scared when the car went boom

Daddy said , “let’s find God’s good will.”

We came through the cold and snow

When God led us to your door.

And now you have shared all that you had

So I just know God will bless you more.

 

As I looked into those little eyes

It was very plain to see.

It was not me helping them that was God’s good will

But it was them helping me.

It’s not about the trimmings, not the money

Or any kind of gift

The true celebration of Christmas

Is seeking His will for who you are with.

 

As I settled in a rocker that night

Humming my little messenger to sleep.

I wonder if this was how Mary felt

And I knew why she did weep.

Though His gift was wrapped so quietly

In a manager filled with hay

He was destined to be presented triumphantly

On a Hill far away.

 

So if your Christmas spirit has  escaped you

Look around for who you are with.

Seek the will of Him who sent you.

That’s your greatest gift.

Already bought and paid for

Precious blood, highly priced.

He Reached out for a stranger

And Gifted this day in paradise.

 

Michelle Gillison-Robinson, Christmas 2016

What Kind of Doughnut Does God Like?

“But I have this against you: You have left the love you had in the beginning.”
Revelation 2:4 (ERV)

In my office, in my particular section, in my specific group, we are a pretty tight bunch. Not to say it is a virtual love fest all of the time. Just like all families, which I believe we have become, we genuinely and generally care about each other.

In the midst of a team effort of solid performances, quarterly reports, deadlines, demands and demons (aka budget goals) that cause most groups to be pretty cutthroat, we have managed to make our environment better by really getting to know each other. We share our joys and sorrows, pasts and presents, and our hopes for the future.

For instance, today is doughnut day! I believe the excitement of that square cake box filled with a dozen naughty delights is made even sweeter by the fact that I don’t just pick up a dozen glazed (even though most folks would gobble that.) I get up early to go to a special shop that is known for the best doughnuts with the largest traditional variety. None of the crazy bacon or weird stuff, but good, honest, homemade, preservative free calories.

Over the years, I have observed my work family and realized that this one will eat this and that one loves that, who will only eat a half and who will eat the other half. And that my boss… well… he will eat the box if you put sugar on it. The doughnut baker has also come to know my work family, so much so, that he starts working on my order when he sees me get out of the car. It has become a thing of extraordinary service that he knows us so well that the first time I asked him to omit a certain treat, he wanted to know if somebody was on a diet or had quit.

So my question to you is this, What Kind of Doughnut Does God Like?

Sometimes in the midst of our so called “service” to God, we get caught up in the mature ins and outs of weekly attendance, volunteer groups, planning committees, building funds efforts….. all great things by the way…. But then forget the sweet intimacy of relationship that God want to have with us. We become little Marthas, “troubled by many things”, and miss out on the Mary experience of which Jesus Christ said was a “good portion, that would not be taken away.” (Luke 10:42). He took the time to know you before you were even formed (Jer 1:5). We must prioritize the time to get to know Him again.

Now don’t call your pastor and tell him I said you have to quit everything!! Just be mindful that God doesn’t mind you being busy, He just does not want you to be so busy “doing for” Him that you “forget about loving” Him. There are times you just need to sit and let Him talk to you, whether via the written Word or mediation, instead of just making your prayer time about need, wants and demands. The songs you sing should not just make you “happy” but imagine Him leaning via the throne room to listen in. Don’t get so caught in the preaching, teaching and ministering that defines you that you totally forget Who it is all about in the first place. Big hint… it is not you.

So back to today’s question! The great Creator of the Universe, of whom, His Word is constantly referring to the sweetness of it, must surely like a doughnut with honey and a glass of milk. My husband, the great thinker in the house, says (in his big baritone voice) “If you view all that God has made, you would know He would like a variety box.”

I responded, “ If you would look in the mirror, you would know that God likes something a little nutty.”

Prayer:
Father, in the matchless Name of Jesus, we enter Your Presence thanking You for all that You have given us and given us to do to “occupy until You come.” But Lord today we want to take the time to return to our first love experience with You. We repent for letting our self-services and even our good intentions get in the way and we commit ourselves, once again, to really getting to know You again. We are excited about the adventure. In Jesus Name, Amen.