A Tribute To The Unforgettable Zina Nicole Lahr.

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Zina Nicole Lahr

Zina Nicole Lahr

 

I watched one of her amazing videos yesterday morning.
“What an inspiring personality”, I thought.
Then reality bit hard and my heart sank.
She is inspiring . . .
And she died.

I didn’t even know her

And I only learned of her existence yesterday,
I learned of her existence, and shortly thereafter I learned
That she existed in the past tense . . .
How heartbreaking that was to me.
But I want her to be remembered.

I want to remember her.
And I want her remembered.

“Why am I even writing this?”, I ask myself.
Because God won’t leave me alone about it.
I tried to distance myself,
But He struck me with an unexpected, intense, compassion for
Zina and her family.
At first I did not understand why.
Now, I’m certain that it was to demonstrate
His own intense, compassionate love
For me, through her,
And to somehow relate that to others.

So here I go again, honoring the life of
One-So-Young
Who seemingly passed away too soon
Suddenly, tragically,
In a hiking accident, no less –
Something which could easily happen to me.

The Community of Humanity mourns your loss, Zina.

I want them to know you –

Know at least a part of who they lost.

I want to be instrumental in their knowing
And in the memory of her.
Because of compassion for her family
Who have endured too much.
Two daughters,
Gone.
But never forgotten.
Losses and trials too many.

I read everything I could find about her online,
And there is quite a lot.
I watched her You Tube videos.
Impressive, informative, inspiring.
She was genuine and real.
No pretenses necessary.
Please go there (to You Tube) too, dear reader.

These are quotes from her blog,

normallyoddzina.wordpress.com  :

“If God is Love, and God goes beyond measurable definition,
then I want to live in a Love that transcends what my love can offer this world . . .”

“I want my interactions with this world, all the beautiful pieces it contains, what is beyond it… what is created, what is explored, and what is loved…and the Creator of it all, to reach out and touch my soul… and make me suddenly very aware I have one.”

“the body, keeping us living in this world, [is] yet the biggest obstacle within it. It’s a sort of frustration, a growing pain, that can drive us to become inspired and into imaginative creativity.”

Her character saturates her brief blog. The way she holds forth her thoughts about heart-wrenching things like losing her best friend and her beloved older sister, is special. The way she expressed how she loved the life of her newborn nephew, and her very own life, which she saw as renewed daily, is uniquely her.

 I have a kinship with Zina –
Manifested in
A love of Jesus.
A zest for life.
A passion for writing, art, music, dance, and movement.
A love of creating,
And Creation itself,
of nature,
of science,
of expression,
of invention,
of adventure,
of learning,
(in the mundane, the exciting, and all between)
In being odd,
Different,
Unique,
Never bored.
(I am who I was made to be – He can use that)

She was most interesting,
She, reportedly, could take a car engine apart and reassemble it,
Yet she never drove a car!

She was inspiring in many ways
Such as in her perseverance, determination, and will-power
To stick to her principles
.
She was celibate,
Never had a drop of alcohol,
Didn’t do recreational drugs.
Her sense of child-like wonder was completely natural
And authentic.
She knew her Lord,
Knew her calling.
Was passionate and compassionate.
Gentle,
Kind,
Patient,
Full of grace,
And full of LOVE.

Here’s the thing that really got to me
About Zina and her love;
When her life’s work was just taking off
In her west coast Mecca,
Zina turned down what must have been her dream job,
The start of an amazing career,
Showcase of her awe-inspiring talents,
To return home to care for the grandmother she loved
Who had been diagnosed with cancer.
It is rare these days,
That sacrificial love.

She was a maker.
I am a maker.
She didn’t mind that folks thought her odd (eccentric)
Nor do I.
She was a thinker and a doer.
Me too.
She was kind, gentle, and caring.
I am working on it . . .
In my view, she was somewhat Christlike (not perfect).
The thing is, Jesus was all the above good things,
Only perfectly so.

Like Zina, I’m out-of-the-ordinary (who wants to be ordinary)
I’m an unapologetic nonconformist who learned how to play the “game”.
I’m an adult, outwardly, but inside I’m a child who never quite grew up.
A Peter Pan figure in disguise?
Who learned how to act in public, for the most part,
For short periods.
And that is okay.
One of the best feelings in life is the one that happens
When I realize that someone loves me just for who I am at the core
– just like God does.
It seems to me that most adults have become jaded in their relationships,
And to the wonders of creation – the large and small,
The distant and close; the mysteries all around;
The beauty that makes one catch their breath moment to moment.

Unlike Zina’s, the goggles on their eyes become thick with age,
And clouded.

So, I’m grateful, dear Lord,  for Zina’s life and
Her special goggles that let us SEE
If we but dare look through them.

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(Subscript Note:  The purposes I hope to have fulfilled here are:
First, to bring glory to God,
Then, to honor Zina’s memory,
To speak up for her and tell my version of some of her testimony,
And, last, to tell something of my own journey through Creation.)

Zina, will you kindly make me a trinket as only you can
From a crystal and some sunbeams,
That I can hold in my hand?
I will gratefully receive it
Soon, when I am blessed to see you,
At the end of my dreams.


See you soon, sister Zina.

Love,
Me

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http://www.outsideonline.com/1921491/brief-wondrous-life-zina-lahr
was valuable in writing this tribute. Thank you, Outside Online!
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Seeking Grief Relief . . .

A Stream of Consciousness Outpouring . . .

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Today, I have a heavy heart.
I have an aching heart.
I have a broken heart.

It is so heavy that it has sunk toward the bottom –

away from where it should be and down where it should never be.
Its usual buoyancy has succumbed to the weight of the world.

Another young friend has suddenly and unexpectedly gone to be with God.

On one hand, I realize that the passing of a believer,
no matter how young, should, in a sense, be cause for sweet rejoicing,
but, on the other hand, at this moment it only tastes of bitter loss.
My mind is grappling with my heart.
My heart and mind are at war with each other.
I realize that no-one is guaranteed even one more heartbeat,

but distress is becoming dismay,
off and on, I’ve shed tears all day.

Empathy can be a painful and sore.
Compassion for close ones hurts to the core.

First Rachel . . . and now James . . .

Another who was “bigger than life”,
who had a unique zest for life.
Who was well-loved, and who was full of love himself.

A close friend of my son,
He was only twenty one,

A large portion of our community is reeling.
I can’t help but think that this would be exponentially harder
If that were my own son . . .
The one thing that’s worse than being reminded of one’s own mortality
is being reminded of that of one’s children.

And now I’m conflicted.
My head rejoices for his soul, for him – he knew the Lord.
He is communing with Father God and Jesus,
but my heart grieves for all the reasons it does,
and all the reasons it should,
when a young adult has lost his chance to have a full life;
A life in the world, for that’s where I am!

I have to write these feelings out of me,
but I seem to be stuck.
Frustrated.
Annoyed.
Wounded.
Drifting.
How do I organize a piece such as this?
I don’t.
Won’t.
I refuse.
It has to be spontaneous.

A small part of me wants to rail at God,

but I have this thing called faith in Him.
It’s not His fault; He loves James.
I imagine James talking with Jesus at this moment.
I envision Father God taking a picture of Jesus sitting on His throne.
James is popping up behind Him and getting in the photo by surprise,
with his big smile,
with a wink,
and a “thumbs up”.
I believe that is called “photobombing”, or something like that.
Delightfully classic James . . .
I picture Father and Jesus getting a big, warm, hearty
laugh with James. I’m most certain they are very fond of him.

But here’s the thing:
I don’t understand.
(why do I always have to understand?)
Why does the Bible say we can pray and, essentially,
get the desires of our hearts?
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of prayers went up for James
when we heard that he had been severely injured in an auto accident.
Our request was for healing, restoration, and life,
none of which was granted. (as far as we know)
My head says he got his promised eternal life,
for James was a believer and follower of Christ from a young age.
Eternal life in Heaven is the ultimate answer to our prayers,
but we also prayed for the miracle of physical
restoration and that did not happen.
“Your will be done”, we say.
So why bother to pray? (another rhetorical question)
Because He told us to!
Praying must have some affect that we don’t entirely understand –
something great for the prayed-for,
for God, or possibly Jesus, or for the pray-er.
I’m rambling, I know . . .

Jesus said we would be able to do what The Father
enabled Him to do, and even more, including healing, casting out demons,
and even restoring life,
but I don’t seem to be able to do those things

and I would like to know why. (Why do I always question?)
I think He wants me to ask questions, though, for that’s the way I learn.
I do want to learn all I can know about Him.
Moreover, I want to know Him.

I do want to know things;
things most likely beyond my understanding,
and which are perhaps none of my business,
but I pray to know anyway.

However, even in my grief over James, over his family’s heartache,
and over my son’s dismay at the loss of a great friend,
I remain steadfast in my faith.

I would like to know if you, dear reader, have ever felt these things.
If so, I’m comforted to know I’m not by myself in this.
I’m also comforted to know that, by reading this, perhaps
you don’t feel so alone yourself.

I refuse to let these frustrations, these questions, lead me away from
Love and into doubt – or worse even into apostasy.

It was uplifting that one of the Facebook quotes I had written about James
was used by the pastor in the service.
It is a joy that God uses me to help others.

Writing is cathartic, therapeutic, and even healing for me.
Writing is escape, refuge, and security.
Reading is no less.
If you have persevered and gotten this far, please pardon me, dear reader,
for using this forum for my own outpouring, my vent, my relief.

I must remember my “ministry of groaning” in a time like this.
The wordless groaning, (a sort of low, quiet wailing from my soul)
which comes out of the depths of my spirit and manifests itself
even through my voice. (if there is loud music in the background for cover,
the sound of it is all the louder)
When I have run out of tears and words to utter, it seems to help.
God actually put that principle into my spirit one day
when I was desperately praying for another grieving friend.
I told Him I had run out of tears and out of words to say.
“Groan for him, He said quite clearly.
This “gift” is so personal it is difficult to write about here . . .

Grief is spilling out of my heart, trying to drag the resident joy out with it,
but I must not let it succeed, Lord, don’t let it succeed,
for the joy of knowing You is my only salvation in times of crisis like these . . .

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It has been two weeks, to the day, since I wrote the above.
In that time, I have written much, but not trusted myself to post.
I did not want my own self-centered disillusionment to
take away from the glory of my Lord.

Finally, two mornings ago, the long awaited,
long suppressed,
authentic,
spontaneous, groan came to me.
For myself,
and for others through me.
It can’t “work well” if it is forced.
It has to come with The Lord’s help,

and with His timing.
Without notice, it began in my toes ,
worked its way up through the marrow of my legs,
spread through my core, ever upward,
filling me,
and out through my throat,
expressing wordlessly the pent ache.
Sometimes the groan only comes forth from my heart.
This time, through my voice.
Crying to The Most High Lord more eloquently
than my words could have done.
Groaning for the bereaved family, for the city, for my son,
and for myself.
Sweet sympathy,
concentrated compassion,
the messy turmoil of groaning
bringing order at last.
At last.

All that is left is to somehow turn this piece so that it points
to the  great glory of God.
To give God greater glory should always be my primary concern
when I write. His glory and the furtherance of His kingdom.

I think it is best, at this point, to use His own words instead of mine:

Psalm 34:18
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

2Thessalonians 2:16-17
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.”

AMEN

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Joy-Flower

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As he entered the dimly lit room, Yao Lin-On carried the capsule he had made like it was a knife . “This will end my daughter’s suffering,” was his only thought as he approached her bed. He had witnessed the terminal suffering of one of his nieces from the same slowly-disabling, flesh-wasting illness, several years in the past. Those horribly painful images had never left his memory, and he was determined not to let his precious Le-Lan walk the same agonizing path. He wept once again as he looked at her small, sleeping form. “At least she seems to have no pain when she is in deep sleep, but when she wakes, the medication is terribly insufficient . . . How can I let this continue, God? I, the one she has trusted, the one who brought her to this new country, to these new beliefs, to this new Father God and Jesus. I, who daily shared Biblical teachings with her, and worked to make sure that she understood Your Word. I, the one who cared for her after the loss of her mother. I, who love her dearly. I, the only one left to do what, it seems, You, God, won’t do. Yes, I have pleaded in my prayers, I have begged, I have asked politely, I have screamed, I have enjoined and bargained. All to no benefit for Le-Lan. Where is her healing? Where are the promises? Where, at the least, is merciful death? It must be that, now, at the end of my sanity, it is left to me to condemn myself to hell for her sake. Is that what You want? I retain my faith in You! Why are You leaving the task to me, Lord?”

He sat in the hard wooden chair next to the unconscious girl’s bed, laid the large, white capsule on the nightstand next to her teacup, and took her hand gently, as not to wake her. Her fingertips were black. He moaned aloud as he looked at her once-beautiful head of hair, now in ragged patches, at her missing teeth, where her room-brightening smile had been. “I cannot let her suffering be. I can’t let my little Joy-Flower wither away in pain. In a moment, little one, in just a few more moments, My Joy, I will wake you and give you your tea. So hard, this seat, so heavy my arms, so achingly tired.”

He felt her hand stir, her patchy breathing quickening. “Papa? I’m glad. . . , I’m glad you are here,” she whispered in English, the difficult language that, together, they had worked so hard to learn.
“Yes, I’m always here for you, sweet child. Be still, everything is, what is the word? . . . Okay.”
“Papa, lean closer . . . . please listen even if this is hard to understand. I’ve been talking to Jesus. He has been with me all through my illness. When it hurts so bad, Papa, He puts His cool hand on my head. He holds my hand while you hold the other. Papa, He sings to me while you cry. He tells me that you might lose your faith in Him because of me. Oh, Papa! I don’t want that! You must trust Him. Remember all the amazing things we learned about Him? They are all true, Papa!”
“I know they are, sweetheart, shhhh, don’t tire yourself.” He looked away and thought, “Maybe they are true, but He still has some things to answer for . . .”

“Papa . . . . . . . . .” she paused, “I know what you want to do tonight . . . “
Yao Lin-On’s body jumped, startled, rattling the hard chair.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I want you to change your mind. Poppy please, don’t do it. If you love me, don’t.”
He stared at her face. “How could she know?” He was angry. “You know nothing of it,” he wanted to say.
“Poppy, listen,” she whispered faintly, but urgently, “If you do this thing that you think will help me, you will tear us apart forever. You will condemn yourself. If you do it, we will be apart forever. Poppy, it would break my heart if Mama and I were without you. We love you so much, and so do Jesus and the Father.” Please don’t, Poppy, please.”
“Poppy” was her most loving name for him. Mountain brooks of tears ran down his face.

“We do love you, Yao Lin-On, father of our delightful Le-Lan. We share your concern for her. We are also very concerned for you. We hear your prayers for healing and for a miracle. What you don’t realize is that what you keep praying for, We have already done. Le-Lan’s body lingers in your world, but her LIFE has been with Us since the moment she believed in her Savior. She hangs on because her story is not finished, mostly where you are concerned, but also with others who are watching her. Have you not noticed that through all her trials, she never once lost faith? Haven’t you seen that she always proclaims Our kingdom with her body and her spirit, no matter how hard her path? Through your own diligence, she had teachers who understood that in order to awaken to a new life, a person has to die in the old one. Le-Lan knew that she had to die to her self, in order to live in Christ Jesus on earth, and she knows that soon she must sleep the last sleep, which you call death, in order to live in Heaven with Us. She will follow her own path into that sleep, her last thought on earth will be of Us, and she will awaken fully alive in Our arms. Your part is to wait and watch over her sleep. Only wait and keep faith until your own last thought, in your own last sleep. We hope that last thought is only of Us, and that you will follow beautiful Le-Lan into Our waiting arms.

Yao Lin-On looked at the sleeping Le-Lan as he came back to himself. “Was it a dream? A miracle? An inner conversation with himself?” He thought and thought as he stared at the euthanasia capsule for a long while, shuddered, took it away, and flushed it down the toilet. Returning to Le-Lan, he found that she was breathing steadily and beginning to awaken. With emotions boiling over, he took her frail body into his arms.
“I brought you some tea, Joy-Flower, can you drink some? Do you feel a little better, this morning?”
“No, Papa, I . . . feel  . . . worse . . . today. My . . . stomach hurts . . . so bad.”
He bit his own lip hard to drive back the tears.
“But . . . I sure do love you, Poppy,” she whispered slowly and softly into his ear.
“I love you right back, my Joy-Flower.”
He had a sense of calm peace, then, and, for far too many days, he knew that those were the last words he would hear on earth from Le-Lan. She, at last, slept her final sleep. Yet, he was confident in proclaiming that those were the first words he would hear from her in Heaven. It shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did, how many others were amazed, and changed, after watching the pain, and the faith, of the man of God, Yao Lin-On, and his beautiful daughter of God, Yao Le-Lan, Joy-Flower.

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About the making of Joy-Flower

One of my writer friends commented:
“Absolutely beautiful. How did you come up with this storyline?”
My reply was this:
 “It’s difficult to explain God’s involvement, participation, and presence in the creation of this story, but I’ll try. One morning I awoke (or did I?) and it was in my heart to write about the subject of a man being angry at God for what he perceived were broken promises and unanswered prayers. Then I “heard” Him say the name of the protagonist. I was a little surprised, and had the audacity to question, “Why the Asian name? What do I know of this?” I soon began to lay out the story and He filled in my blanks. It even took an unexpected turn into another unexpected, complex subject. It was all done in one “take”. I’m confident that Joy-Flower has a purpose far beyond what I can imagine, and that one day He will tell me the whole story behind it; the rest of the story of  its future. Thank you so much for reading it, J.! Your question made me think about it, which stretched my pen further than I thought it could go. I needed that!”

So, if I were pressed to describe writing, from my perspective it seems to be the expression of the inexpressible, using combinations of words that have not been combined before, with the nearly incomprehensible involvement of our nearly unfathomable God.
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Joy-Flower
Copyright by Gloryteller, Len Snider, 11-4-2014
All rights reserved
The names of the two main human characters are fictitious.

 

 

 

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Joy-Flower

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As he entered the dimly lit room, Yao Lin-On carried the capsule he had made like it was a knife . “This will end my daughter’s suffering,” was his only thought as he approached her bed. He had witnessed the terminal suffering of one of his nieces from the same slowly-disabling, flesh-wasting illness, several years in the past. Those horribly painful images had never left his memory, and he was determined not to let his precious Le-Lan walk the same agonizing path. He wept once again as he looked at her small, sleeping form. “At least she seems to have no pain when she is in deep sleep, but when she wakes, the medication is terribly insufficient . . . How can I let this continue, God? I, the one she has trusted, the one who brought her to this new country, to these new beliefs, to this new Father God and Jesus. I, who daily shared Biblical teachings with her, and worked to make sure that she understood Your Word. I, the one who cared for her after the loss of her mother. I, who love her dearly. I, the only one left to do what, it seems, You, God, won’t do. Yes, I have pleaded in my prayers, I have begged, I have asked politely, I have screamed, I have enjoined and bargained. All to no benefit for Le-Lan. Where is her healing? Where are the promises? Where, at the least, is merciful death? It must be that, now, at the end of my sanity, it is left to me to condemn myself to hell for her sake. Is that what You want? I retain my faith in You! Why are You leaving the task to me, Lord?”

He sat in the hard wooden chair next to the unconscious girl’s bed, laid the large, white capsule on the nightstand next to her teacup, and took her hand gently, as not to wake her. Her fingertips were black. He moaned aloud as he looked at her once-beautiful head of hair, now in ragged patches, at her missing teeth, where her room-brightening smile had been. “I cannot let her suffering be. I can’t let my little Joy-Flower wither away in pain. In a moment, little one, in just a few more moments, My Joy, I will wake you and give you your tea. So hard, this seat, so heavy my arms, so achingly tired.”

He felt her hand stir, her patchy breathing quickening. “Papa? I’m glad. . . , I’m glad you are here,” she whispered in English, the difficult language that, together, they had worked so hard to learn.
“Yes, I’m always here for you, sweet child. Be still, everything is, what is the word? . . . Okay.”
“Papa, lean closer . . . . please listen even if this is hard to understand. I’ve been talking to Jesus. He has been with me all through my illness. When it hurts so bad, Papa, He puts His cool hand on my head. He holds my hand while you hold the other. Papa, He sings to me while you cry. He tells me that you might lose your faith in Him because of me. Oh, Papa! I don’t want that! You must trust Him. Remember all the amazing things we learned about Him? They are all true, Papa!”
“I know they are, sweetheart, shhhh, don’t tire yourself.” He looked away and thought, “Maybe they are true, but He still has some things to answer for . . .”

“Papa . . . . . . . . .” she paused, “I know what you want to do tonight . . . “
Yao Lin-On’s body jumped, startled, rattling the hard chair.
“There is nothing I can do to stop you, but I want you to change your mind. Poppy please, don’t do it. If you love me, don’t.”
He stared at her face. “How could she know?” He was angry. “You know nothing of it,” he wanted to say.
“Poppy, listen,” she whispered faintly, but urgently, “If you do this thing that you think will help me, you will tear us apart forever. You will condemn yourself. If you do it, we will be apart forever. Poppy, it would break my heart if Mama and I were without you. We love you so much, and so do Jesus and the Father.” Please don’t, Poppy, please.”
“Poppy” was her most loving name for him. Mountain brooks of tears ran down his face.

“We do love you, Yao Lin-On, father of our delightful Le-Lan. We share your concern for her. We are also very concerned for you. We hear your prayers for healing and for a miracle. What you don’t realize is that what you keep praying for, We have already done. Le-Lan’s body lingers in your world, but her LIFE has been with Us since the moment she believed in her Savior. She hangs on because her story is not finished, mostly where you are concerned, but also with others who are watching her. Have you not noticed that through all her trials, she never once lost faith? Haven’t you seen that she always proclaims Our kingdom with her body and her spirit, no matter how hard her path? Through your own diligence, she had teachers who understood that in order to awaken to a new life, a person has to die in the old one. Le-Lan knew that she had to die to her self, in order to live in Christ Jesus on earth, and she knows that soon she must sleep the last sleep, which you call death, in order to live in Heaven with Us. She will follow her own path into that sleep, her last thought on earth will be of Us, and she will awaken fully alive in Our arms. Your part is to wait and watch over her sleep. Only wait and keep faith until your own last thought, in your own last sleep. We hope that last thought is only of Us, and that you will follow beautiful Le-Lan into Our waiting arms.

Yao Lin-On looked at the sleeping Le-Lan as he came back to himself. “Was it a dream? A miracle? An inner conversation with himself?” He thought and thought as he stared at the euthanasia capsule for a long while, shuddered, took it away, and flushed it down the toilet. Returning to Le-Lan, he found that she was breathing steadily and beginning to awaken. With emotions boiling over, he took her frail body into his arms.
“I brought you some tea, Joy-Flower, can you drink some? Do you feel a little better, this morning?”
“No, Papa, I . . . feel  . . . worse . . . today. My . . . stomach hurts . . . so bad.”
He bit his own lip hard to drive back the tears.
“But . . . I sure do love you, Poppy,” she whispered slowly and softly into his ear.
“I love you right back, my Joy-Flower.”
He had a sense of calm peace, then, and, for far too many days, he knew that those were the last words he would hear on earth from Le-Lan. She, at last, slept her final sleep. Yet, he was confident in proclaiming that those were the first words he would hear from her in Heaven. It shouldn’t have surprised him, but it did, how many others were amazed, and changed, after watching the pain, and the faith, of the man of God, Yao Lin-On, and his beautiful daughter of God, Yao Le-Lan, Joy-Flower.

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Copyright by Gloryteller, Len Snider, 11-4-2014
All rights reserved
The names of the two main human characters are fictitious.

 

 

 

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Tears Are For The Living

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I have few tears for the dead,
for their souls have flown away,
each to its eternal land,
to the god, or God they chose,
or Who always held them in His hands;
Only gone from here,

as I, one day, will be,
they’re gone,
in the main,
to their self-determined fates.

But here survive the living
in their mourning, loss, and grief;
aching whether in their faith,
or in their unbelief,

still sad.
It’s only for all of those
that my sighing heartstring breaks.

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Destructive Doubt, Rhetorical Questions, and Faith

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I feel an urgent need to write specifically about faith versus doubt.
At this moment, it is imperative,
crucial,
critical,
essential,
indispensable,
vitally important:
Someone is having doubts.
Someone is losing their faith in The Father.
Or never had any.
So many hard questions remain unanswered.
So many prayers unanswered,
or seemingly answered with a “no”.
So many promises seemingly not kept.
So much blame
to be unloaded,
and assigned.
So much heartbreak.
So much pain.
The internal debates wear one down,
sap our strength,
stress our beings,
abscond with our joy,
waste our lives.
Those kinds of troubles can alienate a person,
isolate,
Make one feel alone,
even in a crowd.
Make one feel like they are
the only one who has gone through so much,
who has had to bear this specific torture,
and you’re right,
No-one has had your exact experience.
But you’re wrong about being alone in it.
You are not alone,
never alone.

 I, myself, have had questions and doubts about
God’s existence,

His caring,
His promise keeping.
His love.
I, myself, have asked things like
“Why should I believe?”,
and, “What if it’s all a big hoax?”,
and, “Why don’t You seem to hear even my most
heartfelt,
earnest,
fervent,
prayers?”,
and, “Why do good people,
people who care,
and who act right,
and who are good to others,
people I love and care about,
die too soon,
while evil people,
people who only hate and hurt,
and murder,
people who detract from life,
and from Your glory,
people who I (forgive me) detest,
persist,
live on,
even thrive while doing more and more harm?”

I’ve had those, and countless more,
doubts and questions,
both before and after my rescue,
my lifesaving encounter,
with my Lord.

Now I know that I have an enemy who likes,
encourages,
abuses,
and twists,
my doubting and questioning,

who whispers about them in my secret ear,
to use them against my good,
and promote his own evil.
When I ask my doubting questions,
I hear his faint,
but clear,
insane laughter,
for doubts are like lies,
and he is the father of lies.

I smile inside myself when I realize that is happening,
because knowing is being forewarned,
 forewarned is forearmed,
and I’m armed with a powerful weapon.

I still have questions and I ask them,
but, doubts?
Doubts can do damage.
Doubts can threaten trust.
Doubts can mislead, deceive,
and obscure Truth,
runaway doubt can destroy.
Of course there is something I call
“healthy skepticism”,
discernment,
“useful doubt”,
but you have to understand the difference,
which I don’t want to address at this moment.

The thing is, my questions and destructive doubts
are different after knowing God than they were before.
Before, the enemy,
with my permission,
used them to try to destroy me.
Now I can try to use them for my good.
And yours.

A big obstacle to my faith is that I am, by nature, a
rational,

logical,
reasoning,
pragmatic
thinker.
“Stuff” has to make sense to me.
There has to be order.
There has to be a reason something is the way it is.
Therefore, science was once my god, in a sense,
instead of the real, true God whose works
we attempt to understand through science.

In other words, I lived only by sight and not by faith.
Now, I am predominantly the opposite.
Now I know r
ationality and logic
can get in the way of my spiritual thinking.
One can overthink one’s self into trouble.
One can complicate what is supposed to be simple
and veer far from the truth.

Now, I try not to “lean too much on my own meager understanding”.
I try to remember that there is a “great, huge, majestic picture”
that I can’t fathom
that I’m not allowed to know,
even if I did have the capacity to understand.
I’ve learned to recognize when I’m
stuck in circular questioning
or trapped in doubt.
I’ve come to realize that when I
doubt and question God, I’m making Him into the god
that I, myself, am creating rather than
the One who created me;
the “word” from my mind, rather than
the true Word,
the great I AM,
the One true, factual God of the Bible.

When I realize that I’m getting lost,
(It’s often not simple or easy)

I have to push the offending thoughts away,
with a mental, even a kind of physical stiff arm,

and get myself back on the trail to my destination:
home.

It’s simple; I have made my choice of faith in Him.
I will let nothing change that decision.
I simply cannot!
I know He is good, and kind, and cares about me.
I know that He keeps all His promises
in ways that would – and will – amaze us,
when we can fully understand.
I don’t want to lose my faith in Him,
nor my personal relationship
with Him.
It took too many years to get it.
I lived too long without it.
I can’t let anything or anyone steal it.
Without it, I’d be less than nothing;
I’d be lost in the worst sense of the word.
Here’s a question I have asked:
“If I were to turn my back on the Lord,
which of us would be harmed, or “hurt” more?”
My answer is, “I would be, infinitely so!”
His answer is that He would hurt greatly for me,
because of my choice, but He would wait with open arms
in hope that I would change my mind.

It boils down to this:
To be sure, we all have questions and doubts.
It’s a human thing.
It’s how we handle them that makes the difference.
Dwelling upon destructive doubt and rhetorical questions is a waste of time.
Our choice is between faith in Jesus and Father God, or the enemy . . .
there is no between, no middle ground, no compromise.
You might say “I choose myself”,
but that is the same as choosing the enemy, not God,
as your Lord and master.
So, please, choose life, choose love,
choose faith in Jesus, and
stick to it with all your might!

*  *  *

I do have many other drafts waiting in the wings
that I want to finish and publish,

but this new theme was put on my heart with an “urgent” notice attached.
It seems like an emergency that needs immediate attention.
It is a form of sacrifice to be used this way,
yet it is a joy to serve.
I pray that this quickly gets to the readers who need it.
Reader, I care about what happens to you.
I’ve shared your struggles, believe me, maybe worse!
You have no idea what I’ve been through,
only God does,
therefore He is the “logical”
One I turn toward for support, and comfort.

I hope and pray that my words help you.
Sincerely,
L<

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Faith Of Our Fathers – The Power In A Young Man’s Faith


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He has a ministry already, this young man of God.
He may not even know the power he has
as he quickly proclaims his faith publicly in the face of his heartbreak.
He may not know that the most unlikely people are watching as he says goodbye;
watching, and being influenced, in life-changing ways:

He said:    “Dad, thank you for being an awesome role model in my life!
I love you and I know that you loved me!

I know that you are in a better place and are with our Father
.

I wasn’t ready for you to pass so soon, and I don’t think anyone was.

Let God’s will be done, and trust in his plan.

May you rest in eternal peace.
Thanks for being such a great dad.
I love you Dad.”
J.A.K.

*   *   *

You’re only beginning adult life,
one of my “younger brothers in the Spirit”,
yet, even in the throes of intense grief,
you still publicly proclaim your unwavering faith,
– the faith handed down by my friend, your wonderful father –
(oh, what a legacy)
You show the power of the love you were given
by your earthly father, and most of all, by your Heavenly one.
You proclaim the love between father and son,
you testify to your unshakeable belief in Jesus, Father, Spirit,
and I’m inspired;
   under these circumstances, I am touched . . .
That is the truest test,
the brightest evidence,
the hardest proof,
the best power of  The Truth,
the highest worth of faith . . .
And even as my heart breaks for you,
Like Theirs does,
I’m so very proud of you.

*   *   *

What more could I ask of my own son,
when the time comes,
than to grieve hard, to mourn,
also, to sing and rejoice,

and to loudly, visibly, proclaim our faith.

*   *   *

Faith of our fathers, living still,
In spite of dungeon, fire, and sword;
Oh, how our hearts beat high with joy
Whene’er we hear that glorious Word!

Refrain:  Faith of our fathers, holy faith!
We will be true to thee till death.

Faith of our fathers, we will strive
To win all nations unto thee;
And through the truth that comes from God,
We all shall then be truly free.

Faith of our fathers, we will love
Both friend and foe in all our strife;
And preach thee, too, as love knows how
By kindly words and virtuous life.

Frederick W. Faber

 

Why?

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When disaster strikes,
when tragic loss of lives occurs,
why do we second guess ourselves
after the fact?
Why do we have to look back?
Why do we say,
“What if I had only said  _______,
or done _______ ?”
Why do we search for answers when there are none,
or the answers are beyond us in their complexity?
What do we gain when the past won’t change?
Will it help if there is something or someone to blame?

How can we cope when we have no control?
Where can we run, when futility finds us?
When will we abandon wasteful rhetoric?

Why do we keep asking “Why”,
crying, WHYYYYY?

Why?

It is futile to ask the wind, the sky, the universe.
Hopeless.
Useless.
Pointless.
Of no value.
To no avail.
And vain.
A waste of faith.
A waste of time,
especially if one knows The One
Who knows the answers,
the One who kindly, lovingly, comforts us
when the only word that will come is “why”.
The One who will, on our day, answer us without being asked,
for He already knows why
we continuously,
helplessly,
ask . . .

Why
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Remembering Rachel 3-31-14

~  ~  ~

For Ron and Mary, and for the family and close friends of dear Rachel S.
whose sense of loss must dwarf my own.

~And for Rachel~

~  ~  ~

The whole congregation prayed as one for a miracle – for Rachel’s healing.
Many prayers have been said for Rachel and her family.
I don’t know why those prayers don’t seem to have been answered.
Maybe they have, I think they have, but in a way we can’t understand because our wisdom is lacking.
I have no answers for why things happen as they do,
but I do know The One who does.

He asked me to write for Him,
so once again I sit here in a sort of cauldron of amazement mixed with sadness,
and loss mixed with joy, as He feeds me words and I try to copy them properly;

as I try do this thing that’s not as easy as anyone thinks,
I know it’s not as hard as if I were alone. . .

I sit here and write my heart out for Him and for you . . .

~  ~  ~

A Touching Moment

Over a year ago, on the Sunday when the whole congregation lifted up Rachel in prayer, I saw her standing by herself after the service so I walked up to her and held my hand up, chest high, in the “high five” position. Her eyes met mine with a quiet, gentle, questioning look, but, without hesitation, she raised her hand to mine. What a special surprise it was, when, instead of “high-fiving”, she placed her warm hand perfectly on mine and tenderly held it there for several seconds, while her eyes became clear and bright, and full of life, and she gave me one of her small, heartfelt smiles. In that slight smile was a certain “knowing”, a certain loving compassion, a certain comforting, a certain closeness. She was comforting me! That was the essential Rachel! It was only a small gesture, but she gave me a tender moment of herself – from her heart – that has lasted; one of those rare human moments that will stay with me and be cherished because, through Rachel, God revealed something more of Himself. I can hardly wait to be where Rachel is now, where all of us who know Rachel, and Jesus, will be able to press our hands together, embrace, and rejoice within His loving presence.

~  ~  ~ 

Speaker For A Sister

I read a book  (second in the “Ender” series by Orson Scott Card) in which a man, when called upon to do so, “speaks” the life of a “departed” person publicly. This “speaking” involved the Speaker’s researching the life of the deceased through opening records and interviewing people. He looked for The Truth of the subject’s life no matter how painful that truth might be when he spoke it, for in The Truth is healing, and in The Truth is freedom for the living.
The truth is that, although we were friends and fellow believers, I’m not sure I knew Rachel well enough to “speak” for her. The only Truth I can try to speak is His Truth. Here’s some truth: All of the people I know, and know of, who did know her better than I, said that she was loved, and/or liked, and/or highly valued, and/or cherished by them all. 
She was beautiful in the all the various ways we think of beauty.
She sang beautifully, especially during worship.
She was adventurous.
She liked a little non-conformity.
She liked to wear exciting colors.
She was intelligent, witty, and kind.
She would be the first to admit that she was far from perfect.
She was a gifted artist who also wrote well.
She liked learning and teaching, and did both well.
She loved people and enjoyed helping them.
She was a thinker, and a doer.
She loved and followed Jesus, and would want to tell me that I should have listed this first.
She would have been right once again.
I was notably impressed by the dignity, and quiet humility,
and faith that she maintained throughout her illness.

That alone was a huge testimony of her faith.
~I am a poor speaker for her.~
I’m glad that there are many others coming forth who are better-qualified than I,
for the testimony of her life, as she lived it with God foremost, is a wonderful, powerful thing,
even as is the testimony of her death, and it needs to be spoken often and well.
She was that kind of “bigger than life” sort of person. I heartily agree with my friend, who wrote publicly:
“The world is a better place because of her life, and a much poorer place because of her death.”
I, for one, am humbled and thankful that I had the privilege of sharing a tiny part of her life,
and to be able to, in my tiny way, “speak” for her here.
Mine is only one of many lives that is richer for having known her.

~  ~  ~

Of God, Grief, and Glory

On a highly personal note, I have a personal “revelation”
that He seems to want shared:
I was sitting by myself in the back of the church, excited to be worshiping in His house again, when The Lord began sharing His Spirit with me.
(If you have questions concerning this, I can’t adequately explain it, not at this moment.
It takes a kind of knowing, so please bear with me. Just go with it.)
He shared His excitement with me, conveyed that He was glad I was there when and where He wanted me to be, but He was especially excited that very soon He would be bringing Rachel to Himself – that’s the way He expressed it.
(I had been told earlier that Rachel was barely hanging on to life)
He wanted to comfort me in my sense of loss and concern.
He poured into me, strongly, how much He cares for Rachel; how deeply He loves her;
so much that He sent Jesus to shed His blood for her and give up His life for her, to save her life – her second life – the most important one, by far. He showed me how He had redeemed her for this day, her day of glory, and forever more. Do I need to describe the peace and comfort that settled upon me? How I wept when I realized that He was not only speaking of Rachel, but of you and me, dear reader?


I hesitate to share such intimate personal testimony.
Could it be misunderstood? Misused?
I want to keep it to myself. Selfishly? Maybe.
Defensively? Sure.
But it’s all I have to give you, so
He says I must give it.

I write my heart out for Him and for you . . .

~  ~  ~

This next closing poem was inspired by something Rachel wrote.
I dedicate it to her memory:

Why A Blue Sky ?

Why is the sky blue?
Why am I me, and you, you?
Why do we live, and breathe, and move?
Why do tears fall as they do?
Why, Some things are not for me to know!
Except that I can ultimately say
That in God’s kind goodness,
In His wise reason,
In spite of our rudeness,
To enrich our every season,

  Out of His great love,
He intended it all to be just this way.

*****

(I can also say that I’ll soon know why,
when I have my own glorious day,
Though I may have glorified Him poorly in my life,
May I glorify Him well in my death)

~  ~  ~

If she were here, I’d say “See what you did Rachel?
See what you inspired in all of us?”

And she would flash that beautiful smile and probably wink
and smack me with a real “high five”.

With love,
Missing you, and
Looking to see you soon, Sister.

~  ~  ~
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About The Music Links Below

I don't own, and have no claim on, these music videos. The following are simply links inside my website pointing back to the original locations of the videos. The names of the creators of these videos are cited wherever possible, and only "embedding-enabled" selections are used.

The Basic Christian Library

"Mere Christianity" by C.S. Lewis. This is fundamentally what Christianity is all about.

"The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Another converted atheist presents His compelling case for believing in Jesus.

"Left To Tell" by Imaculee Ilibagiza. This profound work is her own extraordinary story of endurance, discovery of the Holy Spirit, grace, healing, and an astonishingly compelling account of the necessity for forgiveness.

Compelling Christian Fiction Reads

"The Circle" 4-book series by Ted Dekker.
A man is the bridge between two very different worlds. Sound familiar? Can he save both? This T.D. work is brilliant in my book.

"This Present Darkness" and "Piercing the Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti. Tales of spiritual warfare from a unique perspective. Stirred a small controversy, but sold millions. What are we Christians afraid of? Hey, it's fiction!

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