Monday, May 31, 2010

Marilyn Matters

Last Friday, I attended the going away celebration of my dear friend, Melissa. God had given her 10 years, fighting cancer but living, to spend with her family. But last Sunday, May 23, 2010, He gave her ultimate healing by taking her home to be with Him.

During the open mike portion of the celebration, I had given a brief account of a story and poem I had once shared with Melissa as a segue to sharing how this dear friend had the gift of making others feel that they mattered. Later, the pastor read a testimony Melissa had given in a much earlier service during another bout with the cancer that would eventually take her. In that testimony she had shared the story and how it and others had impacted her.

I thought I would share that story to the best of my ability here today. Shortly after my brother’s death in 2003, my mother, Marilyn Masters, discovered she had a rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer. She had surgery, but later found the cancer had already metastasized. She endured chemo for a while and was eventually sent home to hospice and given 6 months to live.

She lived 11 months, and her story would take up a few pages, but we’ll save that for another post. For this one, I will point out that Mom had a period of time, in her grief for her son and her worry over what her own death would do to my father, she wondered if she really mattered. Did she really make a difference in people’s lives for the Lord? Was God pleased with her? Did she really matter?

During this time, showcasing God’s wonderful sense of humor, Mom kept receiving those address labels places send free with a plea for money. The odd thing was that each one of those labels arrived (from different places) with, not the name Marilyn Masters, but Marilyn Matters! One missed letter sent a message to Mom that she could not ignore: Marilyn Matters! Our God is so good.

The following is a poem I wrote for my mother during this time and later replaced the name to send to Melissa. I wrote this poem so that anyone could substitute their own name and hang on to the knowledge that they, too, matter very much to God.

Marilyn Matters!

My friend, I trust you to our Lord,
For I know: Marilyn Matters!
He made you special in His plan
For He knows: Marilyn Matters!
Each day, each pain, He chose for you
‘Cuz He knows: Marilyn Matters!
So as you rest beneath His wings,
Remember: Marilyn Matters!
As each loving detail falls into place,
Remember: Marilyn Matters!

By Angela Masters Young © 2005

Maybe you wonder about your significance in this world at times, but God and I want you to know that you matter very much. God has a plan for you; He created you for a special purpose, and He walks with you through whatever that plan entails, holding you, loving you, singing over you in joy as He works out His perfect plan for you – because you matter!

You may use this poem (changing the original name), but please give me credit for it if you do. May God richly bless you!

This poem was included in a blog post by Amanda DeCosta. Her post can be viewed here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Choosing blessings over consequences

Often, children determine they don’t want to obey, or want something NOW! The child ends up sitting in time out until the bad behavior stops, often with a spanking thrown in. So, he experiences much pain and wasted time in pursuit of something the parent wanted to give in the first place. How sad to the parent when he chooses consequences over blessing, never even realizing the blessing was lost.

How often do we miss out on God’s blessings through our own willfulness?

God loves us just as we love our children and want to give them good things.

I have often had to put something away I got for one of my grandchildren because of their behavior. I thought of them when I bought it; I imagined their face when they received it; I wanted to give it to them and give them pleasure. How sad it made me when I have to withhold a blessing from my grandchildren.

For example, I bought a new game for my "grandma bag", a bag of things I take with me for them to play with when we go to dinner or away somewhere. The kids love it, and they love finding new things in there. The kids know they are not to get in the bag. Grandma gets stuff out of it for them. They may ask for something specific (although I often trade out to have different things all the time) but they are not to get in the bag themselves. Recently, we were getting ready to go out to eat and one of my granddaughters said, "Grandma, can I play with the _______."

That was her undoing because Grandma knew the only way she could know that item was in there was if she had gone through the bag. Because of that, she did not get to play with it. In fact, it got put back in the box where I keep items for future use or things I have traded out to keep things 'new'. and it still hasn't made it's way into the bag.

Why do I care? I care because I want my granddaughter to be a good, godly woman some day. I want to teach her the right things. Because I care about her eternally, I have to sometimes say no. God sometimes has to say no to us as well, because He cares about our eternal souls, at the expense of our temporal and temporary feelings. Obedience is not just something we do to make our kids miserable, it is a safety net or a guide rail to keep us safe. When our children learn obedience, they learn the way of life. When we learn obedience to God, we also learn the way of life. Then God can give us all those blessings He's been holding in His "God bag", eagerly anticipating our expressions when he pours them out on us.

Those of you who have heard our turkey story, remember that as God was giving us turkey after turkey after turkey, I heard him giggle in fun at the blessings He poured on us that Christmas. God wants to bless us. Do we want to obey Him?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Tears Fall

Today I find out my friend is no longer responding. Death hovers over her, awaiting it's moment. But death will have no sting because she is one of God's beloved children. Her body will remain here, but her spirit and soul will soar to the heavens to be with her Savior and all who have gone on before. We will weep our selfish tears, but underneath will be joy and the peace that passeth understanding, knowing the coming reunion and the joy she now feels, having left cancer and pain behind to dance in the light of God.

Tears Fall

Tears fall like rain from these eyes in pain;
Seeping out from the never-ending well.
And God collects them one by one,
Saving them with those that fell before.
I feel His arms holding me tight,
Offering His comfort and strength,
To His broken-hearted, hurting child.
Then I realize my tears are not alone;
The tears of God fall next to mine.
He weeps, not for me, but with me,
Not withholding the pain I feel, but
never leaving my side through the storm.
The pain will pass, my tears dry up,
And life will continue on.
But this time with my God will
Change me forever as I rest in
His faithfulness once again.

Prose by Angela Masters Young c 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Numbness arrives: God is still good!

From tears, tears and more tears to numb, the cycle of grief continues. Denial isn't possible for me, but I wish it were. I'd like to believe no one I love would ever die of cancer. I'd like to believe no one I love would have to watch someone he or she loves die of cancer. I'd like to believe a cure will be found in the next 24 hours. Yes, this is what I'd like to believe.

The reality, however, is that cancer strikes everyone sooner or later, either through a personal journey with it or watching a loved one go through it. Maybe it's just me, but it seems that cancer is on the rise. I don't know, but it is certainly in the rise in my relational sphere. Another wonderful lady I met at a support group passed away last month. A beautiful, godly friend passed away a couple days ago from brain cancer. A cousin is fighting the battle as we speak. Add these to the names in the last post, and you still don't have the full picture.

I don't honestly know how I am going to deal with the impending death of one of my dearest friends, a beautiful, godly ray of sunshine in an often dark world, but I know from experience that somehow I will. I may not understand it, but God always comes through, not when I want it, but when I need it.

Thank you, Father, for being the unchanging, merciful God you are! Because you have shown me your love, mercy, peace, forgiveness and more through the trials of life, I have learned that I can lean wholly on you at all times for all things. I thank you for those trials because they have brought me to a deeper understanding of your love and deepened my relationship with you. When I face pain or uncertain days, I take the time to look back and remember all those other times when I didn't know how I would go on, and there you were!

Sometimes you cried with me; sometimes you laughed as you heaped unexpected blessings in humorous ways; sometimes you just walked beside me, hand in hand, lending your silent support; sometimes you picked me up and held me in your comforting arms; always, you were there!

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear
Precious Lord linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear my cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

When the darkness appears
And the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I'm tired, I'm weak, I'm lone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious Lord, lead me home

--lyrics by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey (1899-1993), melody by George Nelson Allen (1812-1877).,_Precious_Lord

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Cancer stinks, but God is good!

Today I found out a dear friend is going on hospice care. She has been fighting cancer for over 10 years, and her body is just too tired to fight any more. Another writing friend just lost her husband to cancer. My best friend from childhood is watching her father die of cancer right now too. I lost my beloved mother and grandmother to cancer. The list goes on.

In each case, the type of cancer was different, but it really doesn't matter what type it is. I hate all cancer, and I hate what it does to people, taking lives much too early. This insidious growth starts small and spreads, taking over until it gets a vital organ and takes its victim. Despite major loads of cash going to research a cure, it still claims lives every day.

Do I have a point? I don't know. I just know the grief is so overwhelming sometimes. But, this one thing I know: God is good. God didn't bring cancer, and He is always there to bring beauty out of sorrow when people turn to Him. My mother's death was absolutely beautiful, even though it was also horrible.

I may not understand it all, but I know the one who does. I rest in His faithfulness, knowing that He cares and He will be there for all. And in the end, He will scoop them up and take them home to be with Him where they will hurt no more. Then some day it will be my turn. Jesus will wipe the tears from my eyes, and I will see all those who have gone on before in Christ. This is what gets me through all the pain inherent in a sinful world. Come quickly, Lord, Jesus!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Wrath of Man vs the Righteousness of God

"The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God." (James 1:20 KJV) This is one of my signature verses that I remind myself of frequently so that I can "be angry and sin not." (Ephesians 4:26) And yet I struggle sometimes with the difference between my wrath and righteous wrath.

When someone harms someone I love, the wrath flares up, and I have to hit my knees. It is only through an intense time alone with God, seeking Him and His mind, that I can determine whether my wrath is righteous or something else entirely. In my time with my Lord, I seek His mind through His Word, and through His Spirit. He often brings to mind some hidden (or not so hidden) sin in my life when I want to proceed in wrath, even when God says no. The following are some ideas that can help a person analyze and diffuse anger in a healthy, Biblical way. Read more

What's love got to do with it?

This week, we are learning more about God's plan for marriage. Specifically, we are learning what it means to "respect" and to "love". God commands women to respect their husbands and men to love their wives. These words mean so much more than the value our society attaches to them today. These words are not "feelings", they are actions, and the are COMMANDS from God.

So why the difference between men and women? Well, God knows that men and women are different and have different needs. Men need to feel respected. Women need to feel loved. No wonder married people have so much trouble! They often try to give their partner what they need instead of giving the partner what he or she needs.

Another problem we see in marriages today is that one spouse often expects to "feel" love or respect before offering it to the mate. This is not from God. God says to DO it, regardless of feelings. When love and respect become verbs that we act out in our marriages, we not only honor God's commands; we also set into motion a method of change for our spouse. As he begins to feel respected, or she begins to feel loved, the respective spouse will begin to act respected or loved.

Marriage is not a 50/50 proposition, it is give all proposition. My respect for my husband does not depend on my feelings or his actions. His love for me does not depend on my feelings or my actions. Respect and love are commands God gives us without conditions. Is it easy? No way! However, it is well worth it.

These are just some of the things we can learn about marriage, as God planned it. You can never begin to prepare for marriage soon enough. Ask God to help you learn how to treat the spouse He will some day give you, and begin praying for him or her today. The marriage of God's dream for you awaits. . .

Friday, May 7, 2010

Post from Colors Magazine concerning who I am:

I always say I have spent my entire life having my “identity” ripped to shreds by God as I went from believing one identity after another. God would say, no, that’s what you do, or that’s what you like, it is not who you are. I’m still in process, but I have learned that my true identity is only found in Christ. I am a child of God, and none of those other things really matter in comparrison.

If I lose the ability to sing, I am still a child of God.
If I no longer teach, I am still a child of God.
If I am divorced, I am still a child of God.
If I lose everything this world has to offer, it effects not my identity, because those are things I “have” or “do” or “like”. They may be gifts from God for me to use, but they are not my identity. My identity remains the same regardless of anything else, because it is fixed: I am a child of the King!

View the magazine and article this is in response to at: