the Judge will see you now…

November 14, 2015

Judges can make all the difference.

A post shared by Jenifer Matthews (@3here1there) on

we were there for good reason.  Filing to obtain guardianship of our now ‘adult’ son, who will need to be in someone’s care for all of his life.    .. .. ..  all. of. his. life.   we were there asking to be given that responsibility, an action that would even be applauded by some. and still I felt sick.  judged. . …. guilty.

up until this moment of my life, I had never been in a courtroom.  my run-ins with the law consisted mainly of speeding tickets and a handful of ‘you better just get yourself home’  from back when I was a know it all teenager.  I understood that we would be in a courtroom for this hearing.  all the other sets of eyes, shuffling papers, law enforcement officers, metal detectors, clerks, lawyers and nervous looking people was what I was not ready for.  I was not ready to stand up in front of all these other people and the judge and explain why we were there, EVEN THOUGH OUR REASON WAS NOT A BAD REASON!  we were not guilty of anything.  ANYTHING.  and still I felt my temperature rising with every little tick tock of the courtroom clock.  and still I felt my heart beating faster than it should be.  and still I could see the tiniest of shaking in the lawyer drawn up documents I was holding onto with anxious hands.  even having the steadfast love of my life and all around solid guy right beside me smiling encouragingly did precious little to regulate my breathing or heartrate. . … …. … .. …. ….. then all at once, our case was called and we were standing before the judge at the front of the courtroom, swearing to tell the truth.  …  and it went RAPIDLY down hill from there.

with not even a twinge of a smile or welcoming attitude or concern for a couple of very nervous parents trying to do the right thing, the judge began dissecting our, what I had thought to be very well in line, paperwork.  ‘where is your lawyer?!’ was asked repeatedly in a tone that gained aggravation with each repetition.  of course we were completely caught off guard and unaware of how it was that we managed to be making this judge so upset.  we had THOUGHT we had this in the bag.  we had THOUGHT this would be very simple.  we had THOUGHT we just needed to show up mainly as a formality.  we THOUGHT we had done everything right. .. … .. in fact, we had been counseled as such.  professionally.  and we completely trusted in that counsel right up unto the moment the judge sent us out of her courtroom, with red hot tears running down my face, Brian’s confusion and the words you better get your ‘things’ in order  before you come back in here, and I expect you back in here as soon as I attend to the next case.  at this point, I was shaking, crying, confused, embarrassed, angry and Brian was looking at me with absolute loss for words or direction in his eyes.

…. . . .. … .. . ….. .. . ….. .

skip ahead a couple weeks, Brian and I are back in courtroom.  a new lawyer by our side, and the whole process is painless.  of course there was a lot of work that went on between the two court dates.  A.LOT.  phone calls, frustrations, certified signatures, lawyers office meetings, tears, worries, case workers… prayers.  But the thing that I can not correctly give words to is the emotion of sitting at the desk with our confident and well versed in guardianship trials lawyer…  all the correct paperwork neatly organized in her hands.  The judge was kind.  He knew her and all ready knew we had everything in order, because of her.  He smiled at us and thanked us for taking on this role and for being caring parents to our disabled child.  the whole thing took 5 minutes and we were happily strolling out of court and off to lunch.

this mess of words and emotions and ‘how do I say this?’ and ‘how do I share this?’ has been in and out of my thoughts for months.  then last week at church we sang, ‘Before the throne of God above’, and it all came back fresh.  you can see the parable within my small life experience right?  the difference the lawyer makes?  the difference the One who is representing you  makes?  the difference in who are you going to trust with your very life when you are before the Judge?

with all the news and sights and clips and posts about Paris surrounding me, I thought of this life lesson again… the value of it.  the need for it.  the need to say it out loud.  one day, and we have no idea of when that day will be, we will all stand before the Judge, before the throne of God.  and you may THINK you have a good case.  you may THINK you’ve done nothing wrong so there isn’t anything to be worried about.  you may THINK the person, or thing, or ability, or health, or wealth, or might that you are trusting in will be enough.  and then the Judge starts in to question… and it will either fall apart very quickly or you will see His smile as he looks on His son, Jesus, who is advocating for you, pleading for you, interceding on your behalf…

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.

Romans 8:34 Who then will condemn us? No one–for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.

  . …. . …. .. . . .. ….. there are only two ways to leave that courtroom.  guilty or covered by Christ.  as our world seems to turn more unstable, with mass shootings being common place, terrorist attacks on the rise, beheadings … . . . … it would be wise to have this matter settled.  it would be wise to know the One representing you is completely confident and capable, the ONLY one capable of defending you. ‘the Judge will see you now’ could be a very frightening thing to hear if you are unprepared or trusting in anything other than Jesus as your advocate. .. .. .. . Trust in Him.

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we’re all wrestling…

February 12, 2014

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I am always there. I’m a little more than halfway up the bleachers, on the edge of my seat, watching him jump rope and jog back and forth, warming up those ever growing, young man muscles… taking deep breaths, stretching his arms, glancing anxiously at his mama every now and then. he’s trying to sike himself up to confront his enemy.

I know this. I am trying to remember to breath myself and prepare to watch someone grapple, in the most physical way, with my babe.

the blood bucket is alongside the mat, and it has all ready been used a couple times tonight. they keep a bucket for blood… they know that someone will be bleeding, someone will be hurt.

the shrill buzzer sounds, a hand is raised victorious, and as one fighter leaves, flesh of my flesh comes to the middle of the mat and shakes hands and enters battle.  2 minutes has hardly ever lasted so long. and now another 2 minutes… my heart pounds, I am so anxious for him. it is much harder than I had expected to sit idlely by, and just watch, as my boy wrestles and is wrestled.

the final round and I see pain streak across his face. the mat is slapped. and this time, the other man-child’s hand is raised, while mine limps out of the ring… thru his supportive teammates… and slumps against the wall… beaten. … … … and my mama’s heart falls.

…. .. …. . . ….. .. …

even though I know, and can see, that this season of wrestling has made him stronger, refined his skill, increased his character … I want to run down to him and tell him he did his best and ask what hurts and take him home and help get his sweatshirt back on and get him something to eat, something to drink and how can I take the ache away?!?!?  but I sit.  and wait.  giving him time to catch his breath and perspective.

as I sit … … the thought comes to me… how much more? how much more does God, our Father in Heaven!, hurt for me, hurt for us? how much more does He watch us train and warm up and prepare for the battles ahead and feel proud? how much more does His heart stir as we step out on to the mat, facing all kinds of foes … depression, fear, parenting, marriage, finances, health ? how much more does He hurt when we limp away from our battles, to go quietly lick our wounds and prepare for the next round? and just how much more, even though He can see that we have become, and are becoming, stronger, more refined, increased in character, does He long to gather us up and bring us home, where there is no more hurt or anguish or sorrow?

…. .. . .. … .. ….. .. .. . . ….. …

we’re all wrestling. wrestling big things. sometimes we win the battle and sometimes we don’t. we need to remember though, that through the process, we are becoming stronger. we are building character and most importantly, our Father God is always there for us. always watching, always cheering, always aware of our struggles and hurts, aware of our tears.  He knows we’re all wrestling something and He is always for us.

~If God is for us, who can be against us?~

Romans 8:31

it’s your funeral…

February 2, 2014

sometimes death comes slowly… the lingering illness, the hospice, the disease.  other times it comes quickly, unexpectedly … the heart attack, the accident, the just. stops. breathing.  but this is sure for all of us.  death comes.  we will all die.  we will all lose someone very special and important to us … the mom, the husband, the baby boy. … … …  here’s the thing, we can relieve some of the sting, some of the pain by talking about it a little now.  now.  before it has to be decided without you.

is there a special song you want played?  you know… that one that sums it all up for you.

are there special people who you think should be your pall bearers?

who will deliver your eulogy?  what will your eulogy say?  what do you want it to say?  what is the one thing that you would want to tell everyone when you have all the attention for one last time?

where will you be buried?  cremated?

do you want to have the prayer service the night before or just the funeral or both?

how bout those picture slide shows?  seems like those are pretty popular.  will you do that?  what pictures?  how long?

… … …. …..  .. …… …. …. …

I am not trying to be dark or depressing.  I am just being honest.  maybe you don’t have any specific requests.  it would be reassuring to the ones you love if they even know that.  if you trust them with all the details, let them know.  the conversation doesn’t have to be so awful.  in fact, brian and I were just talking about who we should ask to be pall bearers at our funerals, and we laughed and laughed talking of all the possibilities.  maybe you just talk about little bits here and there.  maybe you just type up a couple of things and let someone know there is a ‘file’ with your funeral plans on it, just in case.

a neighbor and good friend died almost a year ago from cancer.  she knew it was coming.  she had a remarkable faith, which took away the fear of death for her, and gave her the courage to talk about it.  she wrote her eulogy, looked up the number to the paper she wanted it in, wrote something meaningful to be read to everyone, decided some plans and requested a nice sit down meal for afterwards.  and even though she knew death was coming, it still came quicker than she had hoped.  having all of those things done, made it so much easier for her husband to handle the funeral part of it all.  she was making it easier for him and her son even in her death.  she inspired me to get things a little more in order for myself.

you might even want to think about your kids.  I know that is awful.  the unthinkable. .. .. I also know it happens.  I had to pick the songs for my own sweet boy. and I know other people who have had to pick the verses that seem appropriate for their own small ones… cancer comes…  stop signs get missed…  sometimes… …. I believe . … .. God just calls our sweet little loves home, for reasons we may not know on this earth.

maybe you don’t want to talk about it because you are unsure of what will happen to you .. … your loved ones ….  this seems like all the more reason to spend some time thinking about it now.  because as sure as I know death will come, I know that Christ all ready came.  He came and paid the price, your ransom, your loved ones ransom, that we can be with him in paradise forever.

think about it.  talk about it.

..  ….. .. . … …… .. ….

I just hope in asking you to think about it, to talk about it, your loved ones will have a bit more time and space to grieve more fully when the time comes, rather than trying to figure out all the details in that moment.  after all, it is your funeral.

play this one for me.

 

words won’t come…

December 31, 2013

all this … hurt, sorrow…  confusion has been rolling around in my head for days.  days.  not the raw, burning pain from years ago.  something different.  something I really want to get out of my head and into words on paper, daring to hope that the act of sitting and searching for the right words will alleviate the busyness…  the scatter of what is in my head.

but the words don’t come.

I read another chapter of Heaven, another piece of the Problem of Pain,  another book on suffering.  so many, many good things in there. so much that I believe, so much that I am betting ALL THAT I AM on.

but the words don’t come.

laughter comes so much easier than it did 5 years ago… 4 years ago… 3 years ago.  the kids bring me joy and my friends make me laugh ’till my sides ache and happiness turns liquid and comes right out my eyes and down my cheeks. …  I know peace.  I know peace that is beyond my understanding. … I love the moment. all the little moments.  I try so hard to take it all in because I know that tomorrow it could be gone.  whether another of my babes, or the man I love or my sister in Christ or any. one. of my family and friends could be taken Home in an instant.  the heart attack, the stroke, the car accident, the allergic reaction, the cancer, … …  the lungs that just can not take in one more breath.  and I want to have this mad dash of words to apply to the broken hearts, even my own … a healing balm, a cooling compress … all strung together quickly with sound theology, deep compassion and a solid measure of tears that express “I know” .. “I understand”.

but the words don’t come.

so often there are not words.  there just are no words for the deep and aching pains of this world.  and some how trying to fix it all with words often ends with saying the wrong words.  the words that were meant to help actually hurt.  they add  little slivers to the all ready bleeding and broken heart.  … I know this.  I have heard these words.  … … but I just can’t keep my mind from scrambling to have something to say. … and I read, and I wonder, and I pray, and I stare off into nothing, and I sleep on the couch, and I read, and I still long for the words to come.  and then… I read it, I hear it, I see it.

“Jesus wept.”

… … …

“Jesus wept.”

He came to his friends.  He hurt too. and for awhile, He just wept.  He didn’t tease them for crying.  He didn’t say there is nothing to worry about here.  He didn’t just storm in and fix it all in that moment and laugh at their sorrow.  He just wept with them.  Even knowing that Lazarus would soon enough walk among them again.  He was just there with them, weeping.  Maybe this is the way to handle these things.  Maybe being present for the trails, being His Presence in the wake of the tragic, just. being. there.  is enough.  maybe allowing others to be His Comfort, His Healing, His Love is enough.  Being present is the present.  the knowing look from a friend, a long embrace, a quick text of ‘thinking of you’, a card, a flower.  maybe this is why the words won’t come.  they aren’t as needed as we think. a friend sitting with us and crying too is sometimes just what is needed.

Thunderchild

November 7, 2013

Thunderchild

“it’s a thunderchild crabapple tree.”  She says….  “we got it for you, thought the name fit well” she says, with humor and sarcasm all mixed in.  I can’t really argue.   It does describe me, where I am, what I am doing… These teenage years all full of what seems like what has to be the most dramatic and hardest days of life.

Fastforward a good number of years, I am out of the house with my own brood to raise, and “my tree” is in a bad spot.  My dad has to move the tree.  Not something trees like to do… Not at all.  Well, it has to be done.  My beautiful, screaming pink, sweet smelling tree is pulled from the ground, roots and all, and relocated.  Moved to a new spot in the yard and replanted and cared for, and hoped for… A new life… A new beginning…  Will it make it through such a tremendous strain?

…. …. .. …. . . .   …….

Another number of years go by… “you are bearing fruit” she says.  Confused and caught off guard I reply “what are you talking about?”  … ” your tree! it is full of apples.”  … … …  Dumbfounded, I stare.  There it is right in front of my face.  My thunderchild, full of apples.  Good sized, edible yellow apples.  How?  How can this be?  Crabapples don’t even bare fruit. … ….

. … … … …

do you see it?  Do you see the parable of my life played out right in front of my eyes through an apple tree?  Here’s what I see.  I remember when I was all full of myself, all about showing off my youth and vibrancy, regardless of whether or not there will be fruit to come… Just like that beautiful thunderchild.  And then my Father saw fit to move me, because of things I couldn’t understand, and replant me in another place.  A place I didn’t pick and a place I didn’t want to be. … Just like my tree.  And finally, after years of struggle to heal, growing again.  starting to bare fruit.

Now to the part that is almost more than I can take in.  It was only because of the  painful uprooting and struggle that the thunderchild now has limbs with fruit.  You see, because the little tree was so starkly cut back, it had to go to it’s true roots.  what everyone saw as a glorious blooming spring tree was only the result of a grafting process.  The true root was a golden delicious, which of course produces So much more than blossoms.  Just like me.  Grafted in.  grafted…  Finally producing because of the true root that i am grafted to.  thank God!  … … Thank God I was grafted in to the true root, which is Christ, and thank God I was moved and made to struggle so that the veneer fell away.

Amazing.  I am amazed ….  Amazed and encouraged.  A thunderchild brought back to her true roots.

 

Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me in the shadow of your wings.

psalm 17:8

polar opposites

February 3, 2009

once again i find myself at both ends of emotion. 

while we were at church sunday, we sang a song about dancing in heaven.  i was overwhelmed.  i could easliy, clearly see myself dancing with my big strong son…luke.  laughing, twirling, absolutely filled with joy.  the world melted away for those 3 minutes or so.  i opened my eyes, wiped the tears of joy away and had peace for a bit.

while i was at the doctor today, the nurse asked if i was ‘nursing’ the baby.  i was overwhelmed.  i stared at her blankly as my temperature rose and hot tears ran down my face.  anger, desperation, absolute hurt.  my world came crashing down on me.  i closed my eyes, wiped the tears of anguish away and just hurt for a bit.

and this is how it goes.  one moment to the next.  never knowing when or where or who or how, things will make me feel. sheer joy, utter despair……   always hope.

send me to God…

January 31, 2009

punkin-jan-09-019

today gabrielle got in a box and asked if i could send her to God.  she said, “just put me on the airplane and say ‘this one is going to God’ “.  if it were only so easy.

i asked if she really wanted me to send her and she thought for a moment and started to grin and said, ” can you ?” surprised she seems so willing, i say, “do you really want me to?”  she answers, ” i just want to see luke for a couple days.”  ….

how am i supposed to answer that? … put me in a box too?, …scootch over.,  stop asking me these things!…

God bless her and her simple faith.  i love her dearly and she is such good company right now.  i am happy that she was so willing to hop in a box and leave it all behind, if she could just go to heaven.

dinner at the door

January 19, 2009

i woke up this morning to find dinner at our door.  just sitting there.  delivered by a friend, a sister in Christ.  she came and went without being asked, noticed or thanked… as have so many others over the past few months.  i am amazed at HIS provision, again.  so many times while going through this trial, this awful trial, HE has shown Himself to us.  reminded us that HE is with us.  showed us that even though we walk through the valley of shadows HE will be with us and provide.  whether by cookies delivered or by a pastors’ comfort. 

could i get over the surprised part about this (HIS provision) and remember to trust in HIM…….  HE will always provide.  food, shelter, a way out, even our salvation.  our Father knows exactly what we need. before we do.

the weaver

January 18, 2009

My life is but a weaving

Between my Lord and me,

I cannot choose the colors

He worketh steadily.

Oft times He weaveth sorrow,

And I in foolish pride

Forget He sees the upper

And I , the underside.

Not ’till the loom is silent

And the shuttles cease to fly

Shall God unroll the canvas

And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful

In the Weaver’s skillful hand

As the threads of gold and silver

In the pattern he has planned.

 

Author Unknown