Authentic Reproduction

I have two special chairs in my living room. They are quite fancy. Me? I’m not so fancy myself, but I love these chairs. Why? I wanted those chairs since I was a little girl. They once lived in my grandmother’s living room. They are a pair of his and hers Victorian style chairs. When I was a little, I would visit my grandmother’s house, and sit in the “her” chair. The seat was low to the ground, and my feet could reach the floor.

I thought it was a chair fit for a queen. So when I sat in it, I felt like a queen.
I felt special in that chair.

There are beautifully carved flowers in the dark mahogany wood, and they were covered in dark burgundy velvet. Fancy. I would sit, and draw pictures in the fabric with my fingers. When my grandmother grew older, and moved a few states away to live in my aunt and uncle’s home she took only a few things with her. She took the chairs. They may have been the nicest pieces of furniture she owned.

Over the years I made no bones about the fact that I wanted those chairs to come live at my house one day. My grandmother was special. Those chairs were special. I needed them. My grandmother passed away a few years ago, and recently my aunt decided she was ready to part with the chairs. My dad called to ask if I still wanted them. Was he serious? You bet I still wanted them. Now they sit in my living room, and I often sit in them. I feel good when I do. They are like old friends. They remind me of my grandmother, and of feeling like a queen.

My aunt sent along a couple of tags that came with the chairs when my grandmother bought them. Can you believe that? Who keeps these kinds of things? On the tags it says “An Authentic Victorian Heirloom Reproduction.” I found that funny. Authentic reproduction. To me that means “Real Fake”. As I sit in the queen’s chair I have to laugh. At least sometimes that’s me: a real fake. The person I try to present to the world is not always the person I feel like inside.

I try to look as though I have all the balls in the air when in reality I can barely juggle more than one thing at a time most days.

At least sometimes that’s me:

A real fake.

Other than the chairs, there’s really only one other thing that I would like to have that belonged to my grandmother. One day I would like to possess her Bible. I have never gotten into the habit of making notations in my Bible. Conversely, her Bible is covered in hand-written notes. There is hardly a blank margin to be found. The pastor who preached her funeral took her Bible to discover some insight into exactly who she was. My grandmother had suffered a stroke in her last years and he did not have the opportunity to know the real Wilma. After perusing her Bible, he began to know her all right.

One thing he didn’t find in her Bible was a tag saying “authentic reproduction”. My grandmother was not a “real fake”. She was just authentic. It’s a legacy I feel compelled to continue. I desire a deep and growing, authentic relationship with my God. The chairs in my living room will serve as a reminder to this call. And as I sit there in my queen chair, I can pray, ponder, and find communion with the only God who truly is The Real Deal.

Where do you find real
communion with God?

Tantalizing Tales of Salvation

Do you have one? Can you tell it with drama and intrigue? Throw in a little suspense and there you have it- a tantalizing tale of salvation. Everyone who comes to Christ has a story to tell. And everyone’s story is as unique as they are unique. Yet everyone’s story is not tantalizing.

I’ve heard great stories of people coming to Christ from really dark places. Some folks were heavy into addictive lifestyles. Others were headed down roads that were going to lead them to self destruction or destruction of those that loved them had they not decided to turn and follow Jesus. I remember stories told during revival “testimony time” that would curl your toenails. Drug dealers, prostitutes, thieves, and gang bangers all turning their lives over to the One who died so that they could live.

I remember feeling slightly jealous that I would probably never be asked to share my dullsville conversion story.

Why couldn’t I have been an alcohol abusing/drug using/reprobate turned Christ follower? But it just wasn’t my story. It is true that through salvation we all turn from darkness to light, from death to life, but we don’t all have racy stories.

Can you name the time and date of your redemption? Those are helpful to solidify in one’s mind the blessed event, but what if you can’t? What if all you have is the distant childhood memory of believing? Of trusting that Jesus was who He said He was, and knowing that you needed Him so desperately.

I’ll just bet that the Apostle Paul could mark his salvation day down to the second! Talk about a titillating story! He had just witnessed the stoning of Steven, and was headed to celebrate that event by persecuting and murdering more Christians. It was on the road to Damascus that Paul’s story of redemption took place. It is recorded for us in Acts 9.
Saul (Paul’s pre-Christian name) was struck blind by a great light as he traveled. I suppose that got his attention. Then the voice of Jesus himself spoke to Saul, and told him that he had been chosen to be the mouthpiece of Christ to the very ones he intended to do harm. In that moment, Paul’s life was forever changed. I doubt there has ever been a more tantalizing salvation story.

What if you can’t even recall the day of your conversion? What then?

But what if your story just doesn’t hold the same intrigue as Paul’s? What if it’s downright anticlimactic by comparison? What if it happened so long ago it’s but a warm fuzzy place in your heart? That’s my story. It’s simple. I can’t even tell you the exact year, season, or day of the week. Yet I remember the moment, and I remember the place.
It was not a fancy place at all. The situation was not exciting. There was no blinding light. No audible voice of Christ. No directive to go and do anything as a result. I didn’t even tell anyone it had happened. Not my parents, best friend, or my pastor. The person who led me into a relationship with Christ didn’t even know he had. Still, I was forever changed in that moment. In that moment, I realized without a doubt that Jesus died for me, wanted desperately to know me, and for me to know Him.

My daughter recently had the misfortune of encountering some well meaning, yet misguided, folks who challenged the validity of her salvation experience simply because it was not exciting enough. My daughter accepted Jesus at an early age in the comfort of her own bedroom, gently led by parents who love her. She wasn’t walking out of a life of debauchery. The details of that day are even a bit blurry for her. She was just a mostly obedient, yet self-centered kid, who desperately wanted to follow Jesus. Those well-meaning folks nearly caused her to discount that most precious moment. That is, until I introduced her to a young man in the Bible named Timothy.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, Paul states- “I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”

There was no apparent fanfare when Timothy came to believe and trust in Christ.
Timothy’s experience was one of faith handed down from his grandma, to his mom, and then to him. Some would even say his story is rather mundane. Yet it was grand enough for Paul to mention, and for God to place in the Bible. Laura comes from a long line of believers. Her story, like mine, would fall more easily under the Timothy category than the Paul category, yet I am no less thankful for it.

I think Timothy’s story of belief is included in scripture for people like Laura and me. It points to the fact that, racy or not, one’s salvation story is evidence of the truth of Christ. Important enough to share with others who need so much to begin their own story of faith and regeneration.

What’s your story?

Jesus Was a Teenaged Boy

I write a lot about teen boys. I have two, and they are curious creatures, and by curious I mean odd. First, teen boys just don’t understand girls at all. I didn’t know that when I was fifteen. It does make me feel a bit better now as I look back. For example, recently we sat in the den as a family to talk about the new upcoming school semester. There were some things to go over like bedtimes, grade expectations, friend choices, grade expectations, after school activities, and grade expectations.

In the middle of our family meeting, a call came in for one of our teenaged sons. My husband answered, after a moment he handed the phone to my son, and simply said, “It’s Sarah”.

Okay, I’m wondering who’s Sarah? My son barely uttered four words during the brief conversation with Sarah. Afterward he hung up and sat there, silent. My husband and I together asked, “Who’s Sarah?”

While girls are a primary concern for parents of teen boys, they aren’t the only concern.

Other worries constantly vie for top position on my anxiety scale. Where are they going, who are they going with, and what are they doing when they get there? Are they studying hard enough to get into college, and studying hard enough for someone to offer them money to go? Also high on the list: are they being responsible, kind, respectful and considerate of others? How is their thought life right now? What music are they listening to, what shows are they watching on TV, and maybe worst of all, what are they seeing on the internet? Truly, it’s enough to strangle a horse.

So as I read the passage in Luke about Jesus when he was near that age I find reassurance. My first thought is that even Jesus had his parents freaked out, and even Jesus wasn’t where He was “supposed” to be, or where His parents expected He would be, at least once. Yet mostly what brings me comfort from this passage is that Jesus existed as a teen boy at one time. Not in exactly the way mine do, but as close as can be considering He is God and all.

I mean when His poor, panicked parents finally found Him and confronted Him they weren’t all that impressed with His apparent wisdom. They knew who He was, and what He was capable of already. I’ll just bet Jesus was about to be grounded. It was Mary who jumped first, demanding to know just exactly where He had been (For three days!), and did He know how worried she had been? I love Mary. Can’t you just see her, a little Jewish woman, standing there with her hands on her hips and her feet firmly planted?

Can’t you just see her, a little Jewish woman, standing there with her hands on her hips and her feet firmly planted?

In typical teenager form, Jesus countered right back. “Why were you looking for me?” Doesn’t that just sound like a teenaged boy? He might have even rolled His eyes and sighed really loudly! I’m sure Mary thought, “Oh, no reason. Only we thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere back there!” Isn’t that what we always think? That ditches are piled full of foolish dead kids who aren’t where they said they would be?
Sadly, Jesus leaves regular, ordinary teens behind at this point for He went on to explain exactly what He had been up to. No hemming. No hawing. He went straight to the point.

Still reeling from their fear, (after all they had misplaced the Savior of the world) His parents still didn’t grasp it all, but Jesus did. Jesus was being all He knew to be. He was imparting wisdom and speaking truth. Truth. Getting the truth out of most teens can be like pulling teeth.

So as the mom of two teens, this passage actually makes me smile. I can empathize with Mary and Joseph. I can feel their worry, their panic, and I can feel the flood of relief they must have felt at finding Jesus safe in the Temple. I also know that amidst this relief, Mary still wanted to ring His neck. Yet mostly I smile because I see, once again, how as Christians we serve a God who has walked where we walk and lived as we live. I have never been a teenaged boy, and I don’t always understand mine, but thank heaven Jesus has and does! Maybe knowing that will help me, as I parent these two boys, to rest easier and freak out less. Well, maybe.

Doubting Dork

God recently answered a prayer of mine. If I were to be totally honest, I would have to say I was just a tiny bit surprised. I’m not sure why I was surprised except that, while I have great faith, I am still a bit of a doubter sometimes. I think God likes us doubters. That may seem a convenient thing to say. Yet one of Jesus’ closest friends was one. Remember him? “Doubting” Thomas? Poor guy. His uncertainty is revealed one little time, and he’s forever given that embarrassing nickname.

Why do I think God likes doubters?

I think God likes to say, “See? I can do that.” He uses it as a building block for faith. I can relate to that a bit. I used to be a nurse on a vascular access team. That meant I was the one who showed up to start the IV when no one else could find a vein to stick, or they’d turned the patient into the human pincushion, and still they had no IV. Usually by the time I showed up on the scene, the patient had become a doubter. They doubted that I’d be able to do what others before me had been unable to do. I’d do my best to put them at ease, but I could still see the skepticism in their eyes.

Reluctantly they’d extend an arm for me to have a look see. More often than not, I’d get their IV started on the first try.

Now I’m not bragging, rather I’m what my Dad calls a “one trick pony”. You see I started IV’s. That’s it. If you have a vein to be found I could find it. So I really enjoyed the moment when my skeptical patients said, “You got it? Really?” I looked up, saw the doubt was gone, and had been replaced with surprised relief. They believed. Made me smile.

So God recently answered a prayer of mine. A couple of years ago, a dear friend of mine confided that she and her husband were separated. This was not her desire but his. It was a terrible thing. I hurt for her, and I was mad at him. According to my friend, it was as if he had lost himself somehow. I told my friend that I would pray with her for her relationship to be restored. I truly believed that God wanted this family to be whole again. We talked occasionally, and it seemed that things were going from bad to worse. I would pray some more. Still, she never gave up on him. She was so strong, and yet so terribly hurt.

Now more than a year later he is home, and they are together. Really together. She is so happy, and she still believes in him. Somewhere along the way he found God, and he found himself again. So God said yes to my prayer. I began to think about why. The answer is not so profound really. He said yes to my prayer because it was what He wanted all along. There’s more to it of course, but in the end that’s the main ingredient.

So why was I surprised to hear about their reconciliation? Well I must admit it is because I had doubt. I had doubt that God could fix this terribly messed up situation. I still believed I should pray, but did I truly believe that God could unravel the tangled mess of my friend’s life? Well I thought I did, but if I truly did believe it, why was I so pleasantly surprised to hear He had? The only thing I can come up with is that I am a dork.

Most of the patients I saw at the hospital had never had to put their trust in my abilities before. I was a stranger to them. On the rare occasion that I had a returning patient, the relief shown on their face when I walked through the door. Why? Well they knew me. They knew of my wonderful skills with a needle. Hey, everyone should be good at something. But the new ones, the ones who had never had to place their trust in my abilities before, had doubt.

I am not in this position with God. I am like the returning patient. I have seen His work, and I know Him. I know of His great love, and for His capacity to heal broken relationships. So I felt guilty when I received the news of His great work. Once again, God had to prove His ability to me. I really am a dork. A Doubting Dork. How’s that for a nickname? But I am not who I was before. My faith has grown after seeing, once again, His limitless power and love. I had to say, “Oh yeah, I know You.” I suppose I did know He could do it; I just wasn’t so sure He would do it.

I was able to share lunch with my friend recently. She looked fantastic. Radiant really. She talked about her husband, their relationship, and the things they are doing to build it up and make it strong again. There was real joy in her eyes. There are still struggles in her life, but she has seen God at work in the midst of strife, and she has felt God’s hand lead her through some dark days. I’ll bet her faith has increased lately, too. I won’t call her a doubter. No, she never gave up.

It’s hard to believe that someone who actually knew Jesus could ever doubt his ability to conquer death, but poor old Thomas did. He had to see it for himself to believe. Thankfully for Thomas, Jesus was all too happy to comply. Thankfully, He still is. Seems like he’d get tired of proving Himself to us time and again. But I think He might just like the looks on our faces each time we see what He is capable of!

What has He done in your life to show His faithfulness lately?