Thursday, April 15, 2010

Angels’ Wings… Do they exist or don’t they?

Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." ~John 21:16 (NIV)

I lived in Al-Jubail Saudi Arabia for seven months in 2009. During that time I was not allowed to drive because of my gender. Prior to that, I would jump into my vehicle and go wherever I wanted and do pretty much as I pleased. What a blessing it is to simply leave your dwelling and travel down the road! Yes, it’s a freedom that we often take for granted and have even complained about on occasion…that is, until we find ourselves in a place where we have limitations and we face the realization that our “wings” have been clipped.

When my mother could no longer walk and had to stop driving, she could still run over your toes in her wheel chair, roll around picking up pecans in the yard, rearrange furniture and door facings with her motorized scooter and mow you down if you were in front of her at Walmart.

She fell in December, 2008, breaking her leg in two places. Though healed, she is no longer mobile since she can no longer stand up and support her own weight. For those of you who do not know, my mother is not only homebound, she is also confined to her bed. Yes, she faces the daily realization that her “wings” have been clipped.

I talked with momma a few days ago and she was upbeat and chipper. She will be 88 this year and her mind is very sharp unless you awaken her and then she may begin talking about someone or something that happened years ago, like picking cotton in the hot humid cotton fields of Louisiana when she was a little girl. During the last conversation though, she was alert and rational; however, during the previous conversation we’d had a week ago, she told me she was planning to go take a bath and was anxious for me to come see her new shower which my brother, Darold, had redone for her. I had a lump in my throat, my eyes welled up in tears and I held my breath as she continued, “You haven’t seen it yet.” Then she described it in detail and how lovingly her sweet son had renovated the bathroom “just for his momma.” In actuality, momma is no longer able to shower or bathe herself and has a nurse’s aide do that. Also, Darold did the renovation about five years ago with the help of my younger son, Neal, and it was done prior to my living with her for more than a year while my husband was overseas in 2006-07.

I have to remind myself that when someone is in bed every second of every day, it is very easy for them to doze frequently and become disoriented. Even though she has a clock with the date, day of the week, time and temperature on it, she still wakes in a fog of confusion at times. It seems dreams are more prevalent and many times she is still in the midst of them when she awakens. I often think those dreams are her livelihood right now since they give her the freedoms she once enjoyed. In addition, momma has had epilepsy since 1950 and the medications which keep her seizures at bay also make her sleepy. In saying all this, I wanted to write about something that is very near and dear to my heart…the wings which God grows for us when our own wings are clipped. They are “Angels’ Wings.” They are not like Biblical angels who had no wings but they are His special servants who have grown these miraculous wings through His mighty power in order to accomplish His love, care and service for others whose wings have been clipped. I affectionately and tenderly call these characteristics “Angels’ Wings.”

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. ~Ephesians 3:20 (NLT)

The first set of “Angels’ Wings” which God provided momma now rests in heaven. Paul P. DuBose, my dad, died on his mother's birthday in 2003 and was buried in a small family cemetery in East Texas beneath the whispering pine trees he loved so much. Daddy not only cared for momma throughout their marriage of 65 years, he assured there would be excellent provision for her throughout the remainder of her life. Thank you, daddy, for your love and foresight in caring for momma all her days. She loves and misses you so very much…as do your children.

The second set of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma is strong and secure...and not at all what you might expect. This set is worn by a Vietnam Veteran who rides a Harley and loves to fish. His name is Philip DuBose and he is the second of my three older brothers. He was momma’s choice for her long-term caregiver and his life has never been the same since taking on this awesome responsibility of love and devotion. There are not enough words to describe all he does in 24 hours/7 days per week. The details of his job description would stagger your mind and fill a book. His book would be a redneck version but indeed, it would be filled. Thank you, my dear brother...such simple words...yet they come straight from the depths of my heart. I love you so much and I am praying for you daily. May God continue to bless you as you provide momma such loving strength and security.

The third set of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma is joyful, uplifting and inspirational and worn by First Baptist Church Brazoria’s Homebound Ministry Leader, Jackie Burke. I’m not sure I have the words to describe such a loving, gifted and devoted Christian sister. Her first calling is signing for the deaf and she has taught many others this special gift. Her second calling of service is living and sharing God’s immeasurable love, affection and care for the elderly. Along with her other homebound members, Jackie visits momma regularly, calls her from town to pick up something she might need, runs errands for her, remembers her on holidays and her birthday. She stops by with a meal or special treats on occasion and sometimes she brings her husband, George, along to visit also. Jackie even takes momma on vacations. By that I mean she will call her regularly while traveling and keep her posted on all the sights she sees. She sends her cards, post cards and photos along the way. Once Jackie and George were traveling through many states on a long extended vacation and Jackie called momma to share all the experiences she encountered as she traveled through each state. Momma missed her visits but felt as though she were traveling along with them. Thank you, Jackie, my sweet sister in Christ, from the bottom of my heart. I love you dearly and I am praying for you as you minister to the elderly. May our Father continue to bless you as you bring such joy and inspiration to others.

The fourth set of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma is compassionate, loving and full of empathy. This set is worn by one of her closest friends...who, like momma, is also a widowed member of First Baptist Church Brazoria. Her name is Ruby Netzel and her phone calls, visits, prayers and genuine concern and love for momma are above and beyond that of a close friend. Ms. Ruby, as we call her, is always a phone call away and I thank God for what she has meant to my mother. God bless you, Ms. Ruby, and thank you for everything. You are such a good friend and such good medicine for momma. May God continue to bless you with such compassion and love.

The fifth and sixth sets of “Angels' Wings” which God has provided momma provide her fond memories, giggles and grins all covered with love and devotion. They are worn by her two younger sisters, Rita Martin and Frances Brevell. My sweet aunts visit, call and check on momma frequently and I appreciate how very much they love and care about her. Thank you, both, so much. I love you more than mere words can say. You are both treasured and always in my prayers. May God bless you both with good health and many more years to giggle as sisters.

The seventh and eighth sets of "Angels' Wings" which God has provided momma are coated with sugar and spice. They are worn by the two secretaries at First Baptist Church Brazoria. Becky Vernor and Carolyn (Sissy) Moffett are momma's links to answers "from the horse's mouth" regarding spontaneous questions about church or church members' health, etc. Becky and her own sweet mom have been so kind as to keep momma supplied with Christian romance novels to read and both Becky and Sissy check on momma regularly, visit and readily stop by if she calls. Thank you both so much. I treasure your friendship with and for momma and I appreciate and love you for caring about her in your busy lives. May God continue to bless you with sweetness and such a caring attitude toward everyone.

It is amazing how our Father has blessed my mother with such awesome “Angels’ Wings” to replace her clipped ones. I thank God for all the people in her life but especially these I’ve mentioned…they mean so much to me because they care so much about her. I know there are many others who have shown love, affection, care and provided for various needs or requests but these are steadfast and true blue. God has given her these “Angels’ Wings” on earth and she is richly blessed…as are her own children.

Thank You, Father God, for my mother and for Your watchful care over her. Thank You for all the people in her life who make her smile each day, cause her to laugh and see You reflected in their love. May You continue to bless her and bless them in their service for You and may You keep momma and her “Angels’ Wings” in your watchful care, dear Father. Thank You and Amen.


Captured in His reflection,

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

God Hears Our Melody… ♫ ♫ ♫

"In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which perishes, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." ~1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)

When I first surrendered to God’s call into special service, the Music Ministry is where I knew He wanted me and I wanted nothing more than to serve Him for the rest of my days…singing praises to Him and for Him. Looking back, it is no wonder to me now why He let the course of events happen in my life as He did…in order to break me and remake me…yes, to teach me. Oh… “Rabboni,” what limitations I had placed on Your calling! You wanted to hear melody from me yet I had to learn the music You treasured.

Isn’t it a GRAND thing that God not only collects our tears but that He hears our melody? Sure, He hears gifted musicians and singers praise Him with melodious tunes and trained voices. He hears joyful noises from others, as well, and they all please Him. After all, they are blessed with the very gifts He, Himself, has provided. I am alive in Jesus today to testify that these pleasing sounds are nothing to compare with the melody He hears when we pour out our heart and soul to Him in brokenness and humble ourselves before Him. He sees and knows the REAL in every one of us…yes, the good and the bad, the happiness and the misery. And in His eyes we are deemed most beautiful and sound most pleasing to His ear when we are broken for Him and submit to Him our all. There are so many scriptures in the Bible which tell us of the trials and turmoil we will endure if we belong to Him. We are molded by the Master Potter during these times…yes, so we will become pleasing to Him...and grow more in His likeness. It is a hard concept to celebrate our trials, especially in the midst of them. Yet that is exactly what we are instructed to do…KNOWING God is using them for His divine purpose. Hallelujah!? No…even BETTER than that!!!

Captured in His reflection,

Thursday, April 1, 2010

He Collects Our Tears

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” ~Psalm 56:8 (NLT)

The hardest things to endure in life are the things that pierce us, scar us forever and yes, agonizingly hurt us to the core of our very being. These things usually bring forth an abundance of tears and much remorse as a result of our suffering. What is an awesome fact is that our faithful Father collects all of our tears…yes, every single one. None are lost and not one tear is cried in vain. God also understands the language of our tears…that language with meaning which no words can convey.

I can identify with Beth Moore when she says, “If it’s out there, it’s either happened to me or it’s touched my life in some way.” Yes, like Beth, some things just happened to me and some things I, myself, caused to happen. The latter would be a hard pill to swallow outside of genuine repentance and forgiveness in the light of our Father’s amazing grace and mercy. It is also difficult to understand that the bad as well as the good has molded us into the very person we are today. If some of our experiences had not happened, we may not have chosen God. Does it ever boggle your mind that God knows the things that will happen to you before they actually happen? It’s a hard truth to grasp, yet He knew and He knows.

Then comes the inevitable question, “Why?”

Why was I molested as a child?
Why was I forbidden to follow God’s calling?
Why did I rebel and marry thinking it was an escape?
Why was I a bad example before my children?
Why have I married and divorced multiple times?
Why did I allow the world to influence my life?
Why did I fall in love with a married man?
Why did I continue to make wrong choices and in the process, hurt others?
Why did family members and close friends have to die?

After jumping off the worldly merry-go-round…tossed, bruised, broken, scarred and bowing before Jesus at the foot of the cross in genuine repentance…

Why was I then victimized by spousal drunken abuse, verbal abuse, extra-marital affairs, pornography and sexually transmitted disease?

Why? Why? Why?

Sometimes the simple answer is that we have sinned and fallen and in retrospect, we stand in disbelief that we were capable of making such wrong choices. Yes, that answer is born of Satan and horribly simple. We separated our self from God. Sometimes we cannot see the answer so clearly though, because we are walking with God. In this case, rest assured, God is bringing us through something to bless us on the other side.

As I contemplate the things that have caused me so many tears and such deep personal pain, there are still many things that others have endured which do not even compare. For example, I still cannot compare my pain to that of starving children, or to Corrie Ten Boom’s devastating life experiences. I cannot compare my pain to that which my husband endured when accidentally dropping a firearm and having it discharge on the ground resulting in his dad’s death. I cannot compare my pain to that of my brother and sister-in-law who lost their son during the summer before his senior year in high school. His mother was the school's secretary and she watched her son’s class parade through their last year’s events up to and including graduation. No, I cannot compare my pain to a parent losing their child. I have cried many tears with and for family and friends who have lost children; but still, I cannot and do not KNOW the depth of their personal and individual hurts. I feel helpless wanting to provide comfort and peace to those hurting so deeply. My prayers, my hugs, my tears, my words all seem so inadequate when compared to their anguish and suffering…yet I know that my Father knows every hurt and collects every tear. He has allowed pain and suffering in our lives so that we may turn to Him, choose Him, lean on Him, exemplify Him, grow in Him and provide that same comfort to others which He has bestowed on us.

“God comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” ~II Corinthians 1:4

We can also read in the Bible about Joseph’s life and had we been him, we would probably have asked “Why, Why, Why?” As we read, though, we can identify with Joseph and know that God was and is in total control despite how things often seem to us. The very ones who sold Joseph into slavery were suddenly at his mercy as he became the second highest ruler over the Egyptian kingdom. He wasn’t bitter. Instead, he recognized God’s hand throughout the course of his life and testified:

“Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.’ And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.” ~Genesis 50:19-21

Some may find it difficult to comprehend but even though God does not condone our sin or the sins of others which are inflicted upon us, He will use them in His master plan for His Kingdom’s work. He never wishes hurt and pain for us but He does know the road we will travel and He wants to bring us through it for His purpose. In His divine process, He is constantly growing us in His likeness. It is difficult sometimes, but just as Joseph reminded, we would be wise to remember that often times Satan means to harm us but the Lord will prevail and use it for our good. Yes, Jesus has suffered all our hurts…every fall…and He is collecting all of our many heartfelt tears.

Oh Father God, thank you for sending Your own Son to suffer and die for us. Thank you, Father, for KNOWING each one of our individual hurts, for UNDERSTANDING our deepest pain and for COLLECTING every tear that we shed. Thank you, Father, that Jesus rose again and then sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us so that we may grow in His likeness. He took all my sins, Father. He knew name, my thoughts, my tears and He's always heard me when I called on Him. He was always thinking of me. May we always walk with You, praise You, honor You, serve You and worship You forevermore…for You alone, Father, are worthy of our all. Amen.

Captured in His reflection,