Good Friday or Bad?

Today, many of us celebrate what we call, Good Friday. The day Christ died on the cross with the promise of rising in three days. The day the earth shook, the sun darkened, the veil was torn, and the believers were scattered with their dreams of majesty shattered. The day the Holy Lamb of God was beaten, bruised, pierced by those who hated Him and forsaken by the very Father God who claimed to love Him.

So, if all this bad happened on this day, how can we call it Good Friday? How can we join together to celebrate such a horrific, gruesome, unimaginable death? How can anything good be taken from such a terrible day that is forever written in the annals of time?

If you don’t know Him, I can understand why you’d wonder. If you’ve never realized His love for you, I can believe your confusion and doubt. If you’ve only heard of Him in storybooks and seen Him portrayed as “just a man” in cults and Hollywood box office hits, I can comprehend your skepticism, ridicule and even rejection.

But for me, I know Him on a personal level…

He was there before I even took a breath. He was there when I was in my mother’s womb, and her guidance counselor tried to convince her to “get rid of the dilemma,” because, after all, she was just 16. He was there when I was born six weeks (8 wks to today’s standards) too early and fought for life for those 10 days in that tiny incubator.

He was there when I was six months old, and my alcoholic parents split up. He was there when my four year old self waited by the door with packed bags for a father who never showed up. He was there when my twelve year old self received a “new daddy” who took us away from a comfortable, small town to a great big city with so many unknowns.

He was there when I met the man of my dreams and said, “I do.” He was there when our first child never grew in the womb, and we buried him under those great big oaks at my childhood home. He was there when our firstborn aspirated meconium, and we were told by a young nurse that it could be fatal. He was there when our second son fell off the changing table onto a tile floor while being babysat. He was there when I lost my precious grandfather to cancer, the man who had protected me, loved me and cherished me, the man who been my “Daddy” for so many years. He was there through all of the grief and sorrow.

The stories could go on and on with so much more detail, but I won’t bore you with my life story. I can just say, with 100% confidence, He was there. In my darkest days and in my happiest hours, in my finest moments and in those times that I wish to never be repeated, He was there.

He has always been there.

So, I call it Good Friday, because I know He was there hanging on the cross pouring out His blood for me for redemption. I call it Good Friday, because I know He rose just a few days later with the promise of victory, and heaven and eternity for my soul if I just believe. I call it Good Friday, because I am a witness to all that has come from His sacrifice, His love and His grace just in my own life.

I call it Good Friday, because often times, out of the bad, the horrific, the most unimaginable things comes such beauty and goodness and promise that you can’t call it anything but GOOD!

Watch and listen…

https://youtu.be/Is6weMrenls

Grief Like An Ocean’s Tide

Grief is such a difficult journey, and it’s different for every person who encounters it. Some scream, some cry, some wail, some cling, and some push away, and some even still simply walk away.

There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the reactions to grief. Grief is not selective. It doesn’t skip the wicked and only hit the believers of this religion or that. It doesn’t skip the rich and only threaten the poor. It is no respecter of persons. It is not bias to name, prestige, status, heritage or race.

Grief comes to us all, and if you think you’re excluded, well, just keep on living, my friend…

I read these two pics, and they seemed to just sum up almost all there is to know about grief. It is like a morning’s tide, except there’s no gadget, computer or orbital phase to help you schedule its rise, fall, or turbulence.

Sometimes, the waves roll in, and you just have to roll up your pant legs and wade until they roll back out. Other times, the sea rushes in so swiftly, without warning, and you just have to sink or swim, as you work hard just to keep your head above to catch a breath. Still other times, the tide pulls back awhile, giving the appearance that you can walk a little deeper, out to a sandbar or two, in order to find a bit of a reprieve.

As I struggle to describe the different phases of grief I’ve observed, I can’t claim to know all the answers of “Why?” “When?” or even “How much longer?” Yet, I may be able to give someone an answer to the “How?”

How can I go forward? How can I ease the pain? How can I be left here? How can I go on living without them?

For, I may not know much, but this one thing I do know! HE is an anchor that holds. Jesus is the Rock that I can cling to. I stand as a testimony, as a witness, that He will bring comfort in our darkest hour. He will carry us through every single step of this painful journey. With Him holding your hand, and sometimes, even picking you up to carry you, you CAN make it.

Afterthought…

This is one thing that He is absolutely amazing at doing: bringing comfort to the broken and giving grace to the desperate. I stand back in awe each and every time as I watch someone experiencing grief and leaning on Him as their source of strength.

Sometimes, it almost seems instantaneous the grace He gives, and other times, the depth of pain seems almost insurmountable; yet, each and every time, without fail, He comes through for those who believe. His promises are true. His love is unfailing, and His grace is so sufficient.

It doesn’t mean there everything is instantly washed away, and you never feel another moment of pain. It doesn’t mean you all of a sudden feel giddy and lightheaded, because the sorrow is no more. It doesn’t even mean, just with a snap of a finger, you somehow stop longing for the return of the one you lost.

No, the pain still rocks in like the tide. The sorrow still awakens you in the night as you reach for their hand. The longing in your heart still stretches to eternity. But the peace He brings, the grace He sustains, the stability He instills is worth giving Him the chance.

All we have to do is simply believe. When we believe and place our trust in Him, we are releasing His Holy Spirit to do what He does best. He is called The Comforter for a reason.

Authenticity is Attractive

Have you met someone who acted one way in front of a crowd and was totally different behind the scenes? I’ve heard and read this a lot about certain actors in Hollywood and various TV celebrities. They might be amazing actors on the screen, full of love, class and debonair, but get them out of the spotlights, and they are complete jerks!

It’s a lot like this iceberg above. It looks small, unimposing and practically a tiny island unto itself. Yet, the underside is dangerous, imposing and all together vicious to any ships that may sail within its grasp. There are plenty of stories to be found of heartbreak and tragedy when even the largest of vessels have encountered these mammoths of the frozen world.

When you are not authentic, you can leave a path of destruction and death behind. Authenticity can be quirky, against the mainstream or status quo, and definitely not trendy or cliquish. Yet, authenticity is the most attractive thing you can wear, because even if you are different, your honesty of self is refreshing and a thing to comfort to all who meet you.

Authenticity draws people to want more. Uniqueness causes people to take a second look. Genuineness pulls people close like the warmth of a fire.

Be your authentic self. Embrace your uniqueness. Be genuine. Don’t paint a mask for anyone, because when you do, one day, you’ll be caught in a thunderstorm, and everything you’ve painted will be washed away. Then, no one will even recognize you for the reality of who you’ve become.

The Gift

You came in without warning. You stole my heart and promised we’d be forever. Our days together were sweet, thrilling and unforgettable. We learned to love, to endure and to persevere with one heartbeat.

We didn’t just survive the storms. We learned to thrive and to conquer. They shouted, “Dreamers!” They mocked, “Too good for truth!” We grasped hands and promised to squelch their sneers and scoffing.

The years came like a blur. Children, diplomas, anniversaries and goodbyes. It was a fairy tale others dreamt to have. We were fighting the odds and winning with a high score.

The squall rolled in without alarm. We trusted what had been would always be. We held our hearts in our hands and exchanged the promise once more. For we knew this is not the end.

What will be will always be.

Penned – MG – 5/31/18

*I did not make, nor do I possess any rights to this video. Simply shared from YouTube.

A Curious Thing

Death is such a curious thing.

I want to weep and wail, scream and curse at no one in particular

Yet, I long to let my furry flow.

I want to punch and kick, run and stomp

at no person specific

Yet, I yearn to unload and unwind.

I want to tell every naysayer, “You’ll never know this kind of love.”

I want to tell every well wisher, “You’ll never understand the pain.”

But then,

I look upon Your face

Your whisper draws me closer still

Your eyes coax me to silence

Your hands comfort my tears

You remind me of Your sufficient grace.

You remind me of Your unending mercy.

You fill me with Your peace that surpasses all understanding.

You overwhelm me with Your love that is always without limit.

Where can I go from Your presence?

Where can I flee from Your shadow?

You see every corner of my world.

You fill ever space within my heart.

There will come a day I can breathe again.

There will come an hour I will see.

Until then, I will allow Your Hope to be my anchor.

Until then, I will dream of what could have been and what will be.

Heaven is going to be a beautiful thing.

Penned – MG – 9/19/17

Eternally Grateful

Have you ever just gone up to someone who hurt you and given her a hug? What about you when someone was cussing you out, did you just walk up and give her a great big bear hug? Or what about the time someone punched you or slapped you? Did you smile, put your arm around him and tell him you forgave him?

Do you realize, Christ did this for us AND more? He made an eternal decision for an eternal life. We were guilty. We were condemned. We were on our way to an eternity of death and destruction, without any care or concern for Him. We were destined to bust hell wide open; yet, He decided to leave His glory, come to earth as a man and die for us! He didn’t do this, because we deserved it. He didn’t do this, because we were worthy. In fact, we caused this destiny of death to even exist; yet, He made the decision to change it all. 

Why did He do this? Because, He loves us and longs to be with us. Can you imagine a greater King? Can you imagine walking away from a love like this? He offers it freely to you today. Not one cost involved. Not one cent. Not one sacrifice. It’s all been paid. Paid in full

…ps. And by the way, He’s not still dead. When you decide to serve Him, you’re not serving a dead god, a statue or some inate object that has no connection or life. He’s a risen King who cares about and loves you in real time! 😉 He’s just awesome that way!

Celebrate Everyday

As we were driving home the other day, I was overwhelmed with thoughts of how life truly is a vapor, gone before we know it. This week is a very eventful one to prove this point… 

Soon, I will celebrate over 40+ years of living, and my (maternal) grandmother, with whom I share this day, will celebrate a spry 88 years…later this week, we will lay to rest my dear (step-paternal) grandfather… This is the same week, just a few short years ago, my cousins said goodbye to their father, and another friend said goodbye to the love of her life. This year will be 15 years since my grandfather passed, but if the moment is right, I can “cloud up and rain on you” in a New York minute. 

I have lost friends to tragedy, family members to cancer and acquaintances to sicknesses and disease. These moments have all taught me well…life IS but a vapor. Please cherish it like there’s no tomorrow. Share it like you have plenty more, and pass it on tenderly to all those coming behind…they can only possess what we leave for them. Could it be that their wanderings just might be shortened and their pain lessened by our legacy…

Do you chatter or Do You Speak?

Have you ever met someone who just rambles on and on, and it’s hard to even get a word in edgewise? I’m not talking about when you run into your “long lost friend,” and you’re both talking so fast, excited to share what’s happened over the years. I’m not referring to those times when your spouse and you are trying to iron out some differences, and I’m not even implying those moments when your teenager is allowing the deepest soul beats to overflow for your ears to hear. 

I’m talking about the person to whom you go when you need the “latest and greatest news.” Come on, you know the one. Even when you shouldn’t listen, and even when you pretend you don’t, she has the most recent, “juiciest” word on the street, just dying to let you receive it! The string of gossip is so delicious, so “hot off the press,” she carries it to you like it’s a hot potato, and she can’t wait to release it from her flapping lips. 

If you’re a living, breathing soul, and you’re an honest one at that, we can all attest we’ve been there. We’ve been caught in that moment between wanting to hear the herald and knowing we shouldn’t give it credence. So, we are faced with a dilemma. Do we receive it, even if it is only to appear gracious and kind, not wanting to hurt her feelings? Do we say, “We really shouldn’t be talking about this,” yet, continue to allow her jaws to chatter, or do we kindly (or rudely, if needed) tell her we will not lend our ears to this gossip, no matter how close to the truth it might be? 

What do we do? What should we do?

If we are God-fearing, God-pleasing and desire to be seen as such, then we should choose the latter, no matter how hard it may be to speak, and no matter what “friendship” it may cost us. When you become a person known not only by the words you speak, but also, by the company you keep, you carry with you a reputation which speaks when you don’t have to. You become known as a person of integrity, trustworthiness and higher standards. When you close off gossip, not only from your own mouth, but also from those mouths that surround you, you close off needless chatter. 

Pinterest.com

People are drawn to those who are of a reputable stature. They will be intrigued by your silence rather than offended by your babble or the gibberish that surrounds you. People of integrity and trust will begin to want to hear what you have to say when you choose to speak. So, choose your words and your “atmosphere of words” wisely; then, you will become known as a person who speaks and doesn’t just chatter. 

pegitboard.com

Power of Our Words

The words we choose to use will bring life or death, and it is up to us to choose the right one. For the last few weeks, I’ve been doing a study on the power of our words, and today a friend shared an incredible video to illustrate this fact of power portrayed through the letters we string together to communicate with our world.

This video got me to thinking… What if you could actually see the impact of your words on a daily basis? What if, when you spoke, the skin of your child turned brighter and healthier or darker and less healthy, all depending upon the words spoken? What if the hair of our spouse became glossy, healthy and beautiful or dry, brittle and profusely damaged, all dependent upon the conversations we had with him or her? What if mold built up within our homes when we spoke ill words and fragrance was spewed when we spoke kindness? What an interesting orbit of living we might have.

I believe if the immediate impact of our communication was seen more easily, it might just alter our interaction with the world around us…

I watched this video this morning, and it led me to several others who performed the experiment. I will share it with you at the end of this post. It is amazing. Our words have so much power, and we must choose wisely to bring life and not death into the lives of those we love.

*Note: I did not create nor do I own or possess any part this video. This comes straight from YouTube.

His Mercy and Goodness

His goodness simply amazes me again and again. His mercy isn’t just for one moment, one breath in time. It endures forever! This is the God I serve!

I am amazed. I just stand back in total awe and surrender, humbled by His grace and love. A God so Mighty, so true, and so faithful; yet, He cares for me? He cares enough that He sent His only Son to die a horrible death to atone for my sins before I was even created in my mother’s womb! “WHAT?! Are you kidding me??”

It is so incredible to even fathom. It is so mind-boggling that I cannot comprehend. The depth of love, mercy and grace He extends is so overwhelming. Once experienced, you’ll never be the same, and you’ll never want to be different 💗

No wonder the Psalmist repeats the phrase, “… His love endures forever,” 26 times in Psalm 136…

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders, His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens, His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters, His love endures forever.
who made the great lights— His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day, His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night; His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm; His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea asunder His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it, His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea; His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness; His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings, His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings— His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan— His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance, His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel. His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies. His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.