Sunday’s Musings- By Guest Writer Lee O’Hare

matthew-5-3I had the amazing opportunity to speak with approximately 50 very seriously broken and “down and out” drug addicts and alcoholics this morning at a drug and alcohol treatment facility in High Point, North Carolina. This was a very emotionally moving and significant experience for me and one that I am extremely grateful for. I don’t need to go into the details of how and why, but suffice it to say that I know personally and experientually what it is to be broken, helpless and hopeless beyond all measure and I could very closely identify and relate to those men and women I had the privilege of speaking to this morning.

For a long time I really struggled with how and why an all powerful, all knowing and completely loving God would have allowed me to so badly screw up and destroy my life when I had so very much going for me. To be completely honest with you, I had a real deeply embedded resentment against God. I never actually outright blamed Him for the things that happened to me, but I always wondered why He did not stop me from doing things that eventually ended up with me hurting myself and those around me. Why didn’t He just step in and do something? Surely He was able, wasn’t He?

What I have come to learn and realize is that in His love and mercy He had to completely let me go in order to come to the utter end of myself in order to face the reality of my own inner poverty and desperation. As long as I still believed that I had it in myself to make my life work on my own terms and by own resources I was doomed to keep trying. Self sufficiency was my god and I was bound and determined to prove to myself and anyone else that mattered that given enough time and effort surely I could pull myself up by my own bootstraps and make my life work. As long as I was still so determined, He was willing to stand back and let me try.

As I have shared in here before, I am personally very drawn to the story of the lost son and the merciful father, commonly known as the “Prodigal Son” story in Luke 15. One of the most amazing things in that story is that the father actually let the son go. He did not try to argue with him or convince him to stay. He loved him enough to take his hands off and let him pursue his own will and desires for as long as it took for that son to be driven back to the Father’s house in destitute desperation. That father loved that son enough to let him come to the complete end of himself, which in this case meant utter self devastation. It was then and only then, when he had literally exhausted all of his resources, totally bankrupt and destitute of all hope, that he was able to truly receive that which the Father had been offering him from the very beginning. But in order to receive the Father’s love, grace and mercy he had to come completely broken. I’m thinking right now of the beatitudes in which Jesus revealed the necessary conditions for living the truly spiritual life. He began by declaring, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew 5:3). Or as Mary put it in her “Magnificat” in Luke 1:52, 53, “He has brought down princes from their thrones and exalted the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.” Or, once again, as Jesus told the Pharisees, “Healthy people do not need a physician, but those who are sick. . . For I have not come to call the righteous but those who know they are sinners.” (Matt. 9:12, 13)

The paradox of the kingdom is just this. In order to live, we must die. In order to be strong, we must become weak. In order to be exalted we must become humble like little children. In order to become great we must become the servant of all. This is what I believe Jesus meant by denying ourselves, picking up our cross and following Him into death. We must die to the power of ego, that self sufficient, self serving, self protective lie that we, in and of ourselves, are all that we need to survive and thrive. We must be willing to let the cross do to our ego that which it did to Jesus – death and eradication. If we are not willing to die to self, we will never know what it is to live unto God and for others. This is the way of the cross, the life of a true follower of Jesus.

You may ask, as I have so many times before, how does this happen? What must I do in order to experience the reality of this other worldly life – this life of Another actually living His life in me and through me? Oh, how we love easy solutions and programs and “7 Easy Steps to the Victorious Spritual Life”, etc. etc. ad infinitum, ad nauseam. The truth of the matter is that it takes whatever it takes. The question is, am I willing to allow the Spirit of God to do with me, in me and through me whatever is necessary to bring me to an utter end of myself in order that I might truly find myself in dependence upon God and the work of His grace and power in my life?

Only with hindsight do I have some understanding of what that required for this extremely stubborn and hard headed Misfit. I had to be brought down very low in order to truly look up and see what was available to me all along. It was in His mercy and love that He allowed me to be brought so low. Did He do that to me? I don’t think so. Did He allow that to happen to me for some greater purpose? Yes, I am convinced of that today. Was there any other way I could have been brought to my spiritual senses without being completely beat down? Honestly, I don’t think so. If there was an easier and smoother way, I believe that God, in His kindness and compassion, would have prevented certain things which happened to happen. But as I said above, sometimes it takes what it takes.

0e4147817_1428427925_hope-is-alive-title-webjpgSo back to this morning. After I was done speaking and I saw the hope come alive in the eyes of the men and women I spoke to, as I saw the tears in the eyes of hardened addicts and career criminals, I had a profound sense of humility and gratefulness. I knew that my Abba had brought me full circle, allowing me to take that which had utterly destroyed my life and used it to bring an authentic message of hope to the hopeless. I was able to declare with power and authority that the love of God is truly able to heal the broken lives of sin’s captives and powerful enough to even raise the spiritually dead.

Had I not gone through the things that I have I would never have been able to be His messenger of hope, grace and supernatural love as I was able to experience this morning. As I walked out of that treatment facility this morning I could not help but reflect upon Joseph’s words to his brothers in Gen. 50:20, “What you intended for evil to harm me, God intended it all for good.”

Selah!

My Mother In Law Marjorie

momdivanWith mothers day coming this Sunday, I want to pay tribute to my mother in Law Marjorie. While many people have had the experience of horrible in laws. I would have to say that when I describe my mother in law who is now with the Lord was a God fearing, people loving and praying woman. When my husband and I met, it was because of her. I was only 17 when we got married. Mom always treated me like her own daughter. It wasn’t like I was her daughter in law. I was her daughter.

I am extremely thankful and blessed to have the mother in law I had. I do miss the times we would spend together. Mom also loved to do cross stitching, crocheting, embroidering, sewing and just about anything that she could do with her hands, she was great at. Moms favorite shows were ‘Fiddler on the Roof”, “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and “Phantom of the Opera”. She loved the southwest and the desert. She loved the saguaro Cactus and roadrunners. She would look out her window in Tucson and watch the roadrunners playing.  Moms favorite song was ‘In the Garden” and El Shaddai by Amy Grant. One of the awesome things about mom is that she would try anything first. We went to the Women of Faith conference in Las Vegas. Almost all of the older ladies were grumbling about how the loud the music was. Not mom, she was clapping along and if she knew the songs, she was singing them. She didn’t act her age.

I have many gifts around my house that my mother in law made for me and I will cherish them forever. Most of all she loved her family and loved studying the Word of God.

Mom and I had many conversations about God. Until my mom came to live with us here in Utah, she had the impression that she couldn’t hear Gods voice. During church she would doodle and on our way home one day we got talking about hearing Gods voice. She was thinking that she would hear a literal voice like what happened with Moses and the burning bush. By the time we made it to the house, she was in tears. I explained to mom that it isn’t a literal voice, it is that God puts things on our hearts.

momdMom was a spunky little lady. She was only 4’8″ and you wouldn’t think she was a little spit fire by looking at her. While she lived with my husband and I, I got to where I really knew her well. After I talked to her about what it means to hear the voice of God, she was relieved beyond any words I can think of.

My mother in law was also a loving mom to her three sons. I hear a song coming to mind,lol (My Three Sons). She also loved her grandchildren. There wasn’t anything that she wouldn’t do for them. Mom was a real grandma to my daughters. They loved going over to her house and visiting with her. My daughters would and still do think of her as their real grandma. Beckiah also has her grandma that she adores very much. We adopted Beckiah and my in laws loved her just as much as if she was related by blood. Mom would take them for a couple weeks each summer and mom and dad would drive from Tucson to Phoenix to just visit for the day. They had no problem going out of their way to see us.

When mom passed away it was a sad time and a joyful time. She passed away on August 4th, 2008. She missed my father in law and would be sobbing in her room. Everyday she would pray for anyone and everyone. I can say without a doubt where she is and that is in heaven.

Right before mom passed Craig (her son) and I went to the care center to see mom. We knew time was short. As we walked into the room, a little black lady named Helen was sitting there holding her hand as mom took her last breath. Helen then went on to tell us that she is with the Lord now. What she said next was amazing. She was telling Craig and I how wonderful it is that our church sent over the young people from the choir to come and sing there. She said they had voices of the angels. One of the CNA’s also heard the singing, but didn’t see anyone coming or going. Craig and I knew it wasn’t a choir from our church since we have no choir. Our church is mainly a church for seniors and there is no way they would be from our church. I think God sent His angels to escort her home. There is no other reason for what they all were hearing.

Mom is missed and she has touched many lives. For me she will always hold a special place in my heart and I will cherish her everyday. I am thankful that God gave me the sweetest mother in law ever. She was in all senses a real mother that loved unconditionally and with her whole heart.

What is a True Friend? Do NOT Delete Lisa :)

I was thinking about my friend Lisa when someone asked me about what is a true friend and do they have to be just like us. While I have many friends, Lisa came to mind. When I think of what a true friend is I would say that she is person that I can trust to be with me when I am at my weakest and having a bad hair day. They also there when I want to throw something at the wall. A friendship isn’t a one sided thing, you have to be willing to be there for each other, without judging one another.

IMG_5637Lisa is the kind of friend that would do just about anything for anyone. I don’t know anyone that would be willing to go with me to go see my parents in Arizona and endure a road-trip that was far from uneventful. We dealt with crazy passengers, ha-boobs, rattlesnakes, wild pigs, the Bates Motel and so much more. We lived to tell about it thankfully.

Whats nice about Lisa is that she would be there for ya in good times and bad, when you are at your best and when you’ve behaved badly. As if I would ever behave badly, lol. True friends care about you no matter what you do.

Part of the conversation I was having with one of my friends on Facebook is about what it is that makes a true friend. I would have to say that there has to be unconditional love and acceptance of others. I have found that when I have friendships that are outside of my own beliefs and lifestyle, it doesn’t work out as well. Many times those types of friendships will drift away and collapse. I enjoy the kind of friendship where one is like-minded.

friendLisa and I can get into some pretty off the wall conversations. Just this week Lisa and I were talking about some new neighbors that she has. I started receiving messages in the evening about how there are bikes at the house next door and that would mean kids are going to live there. To fully understand Lisa, you have to know that Lisa is NOT a person who enjoys having children around. While she has two adult sons, she is done with dealing with children. God must be trying to play around with Lisa’s love of children (sarcasm intended). The next message I received was that there are 6 bikes, lol. She is stressing a bit over the whole situation. I’m laughing on my side of the conversation and she isn’t. I don’t think I would want 6 young kids living that close to me either. My ears have a noise intolerance these days, I enjoy my peace and quiet.

When I hear the quote,”A friend is someone who will let you have total freedom to be yourself” would describe Lisa. She isn’t out to change anyone. Lisa is much more daring than I am. If I was asked how to describe Lisa I would have to say that she is a motorcycle momma who isn’t afraid to tell you what is on her mind. So don’t ask if you don’t want to know. She also is a redhead when she wants to be and is tattooed. But more-so, Lisa wears her heart on her sleeve. She has her moments and I understand that when she is upset, she just needs to be alone or she may want to go out to Applebee’s and eat all the chips and dips with a drink. Long story on how I know this about her, lol.

Towards the end of the conversation I was having on Facebook, we summed up that a true friend is unconditional. They will be there for ya when you call and need a ride or just to talk. I have a few friends that I can say is true friends. Then I have those friends who are what I would call “friends of convenience.” Lisa is NOT what I would call a “friend of convenience.” When you have true friends, you best hold onto them because they don’t come by all the time.

Now, the next question I was asked in my conversation is “do we know how to be a true friend”? Now that is the flip side of the coin. Friendships aren’t about what someone can do for me, but what can I do for you. I try to focus on being a true friend and would hope I would be considered a good friend.

To All My Family And FriendsOne thing that I should add about true friends is that “true friends” can also be family. My daughters are my best friends and they are lifelong friends. Since the conversation I was having on Facebook was about friends that are outside of the family, I wanted to be sure to add that for me my best friends include my daughters and a couple of my sisters. I can’t really say all of my sisters since there are conditions put on everything and siblings have a way of throwing you under the bus. I think with all families there will be some you are closer to over others. If you have that kind of a friendship with family, you are very bless and I feel blessed in those relationships.

In closing I just want to say that you have ever had the opportunity to be part of a friendship that is unconditional you should make it the best friendship ever. There is something special about knowing that someone has your back. For me that person is Lisa. I can say without a doubt that Lisa would be someone that would stand in my corner and fight like a mad women. If you seen how she gives her hubby a what for when he does something stupid, you would know that she can handle herself and others that would hurt those she loves and cares about. True friendships are unconditional.

I would love to hear from others about what a true friend is to you and what makes your friendship special.

Putting God First Over Possessions

There has been a lot of things on my mind when I think about my family. One of the many things is on how more importance is put on material items instead of people and God. Materialism is when we are preoccupied with material things instead of relationships and God. We are to “love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). How can we serve God if we are preoccupied with material items?

donnyo2
Donny Osmond when he was younger. I had this poster on my wall at home.

I left home at a young age and I am thankful everyday that I did that. I realized as a child that money and possessions was always going to be more important than I was to my parents and that also goes for my siblings. As I was getting older, I felt I was different. The reason I say that is that I never really cared about keeping up appearances and the Jones. I wanted a nice home and I had aspirations of driving a Corvette or a Silverado Truck. I also had dreams of marrying Donny Osmond and was heart broken when he got married. I thought the song Puppy Love was written with me in mind. I guess he didn’t get the memo that told him he was mine. These things at the time seemed important to me. It isn’t unrealistic to want nice things and to dream.

When I look at how people on the show “Hoarders” accumulate items that they think they have to have. I can’t help but think of how my childhood was. My parents had nice cars and always a nice place. I remember one day as I was standing at sink doing dishes my grandpa Doyle told me that he would give me a dollar and I could have it if I gave him a hug. Something was wrong with that statement. I was upset and I got the impression at that point that money buys love in his mind. I did and still do love my Grandpa Doyle. He would take us out rock hunting and would spend time with us when our parents basically pushed us aside. He didn’t need to pay me to have me give him a hug. My parents or I should say my mom also did something like that. I left home when I was 14. She told me that if I came back she would buy me $300.00 worth of cloths. When in reality all she needed to do was to say that she missed me and loved me and that is all it would have taken to return home.

tumblr_magzffY9dS1qblthgo1_500Material items and prestige has a way of ruining people. There is no amount of money or power that can make a person happy. God isn’t against us if we want to drive a awesome sports car as long as it is something we can afford. God gives us everything that we need. For me, I needed to focus more on the blessings God has given me and the principles in the Bible. It isn’t always easy to do that. I can have all the riches and health the world can provide. But, they will never truly make me happy. When I look at what the Bible has to say, it isn’t about all the stuff that we have that makes us materialistic, it is our attitude. In 1 Timothy 6:10 is says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil”. I can totally see how this is possible.

Just the other day a women who won the lottery committed suicide. She had enough money to take care of her and her needs for life. But it wasn’t enough to make her happy. I can see how it is the root of all evil when it comes to my family also. My parents have nothing, yet everyone is there trying to take what little they have. When there is no money or stuff anymore, they they take off and they are no longer there. Once they get what they want, they are out of there. I have a friend who died and wow, the vultures came out of the woodwork faster than nothing.

god-provides-ieMoney and greed has a way of destroying people. I always thought I wanted to win the lottery and build a huge house and donate to my church. That isn’t the case now. Many times people will ask each other what will they do with the money if they won. I have my long list of things. I don’t think I could handle that amount of money. All I could see is that people would be wanting to be my friend because of the money and what I could offer them. Too many times we rely on material things that we feel could complete our lives. When really only God can take care of our needs and help us feel satisfied.

In the Bible Solomon is the richest and most powerful king that was known. Solomon had everything any man has ever wanted and yet he wasn’t happy. With all the wealth and material items Solomon had he didn’t have happiness and was unsatisfied. King Salomon said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

Luke-12-15-free-bible-verse-desktop-wallpapersWhile I was looking up this topic the other day I came across this on one of the sites. It was saying that the Bible tells us that a person’s “life is not in the abundance of the things which he possesses” (Luke 12:15) and that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

If someone were to come up to me and ask me if I was rich, I would say “of course I am”. Even though I would think they are asking about material wealth like a huge bank account, expensive cars, a large house and so on. When I think of the wealth and riches I have, I think of my family and friends. I don’t need money to make me happy. God has blessed me beyond measure. Christ wants us to understand where the true treasure may be found. It is not to be found upon this earth, but in the eternal realm. True riches can’t be locked up in a bank. It is found in service to God. There is a verse in the Bible that talks about how difficult for the wealthy to enter God’s kingdom. I have wondered why it would be hard for them to enter God’s kingdom and I would think it is because they place the things before God and their first priorities are their material possessions and themselves.

In conclusion I just want to say that I need to make sure that I put God first in my life. All things belongs to him. Also we shouldn’t put our trust in material items and wealth. Stock markets, banks and other businesses go bankrupt and collapse.But God will never fail and He is always there.

C. S. Lewis once said, “All that is not of eternal use, is eternally useless.”