90 Years a Life

Today my mom would have been 90 years of age.  Last year she passed; a little over 3 months after her 89th birthday, following a diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer.  My mom was no ordinary mom.  I know everyone says that but it was driven home to me once my family and I started going through her belongings following her passing.

We had over 60 years of family treasure to dig through in her house.  No, she never had a lot of money, just a lot of memories.  Every piece of the past we found spoke of family, events, love, joy, hope and were testaments of a life that treasured the little things that really matter in this breath of a life we have on earth.

old attic-rocking chair

I’m an adopted child, an only child, and my mom’s propensity to hold onto EVERY piece of schoolwork, artwork, hand-scribbled drawing or whatever I did was evidence of that fact!  There were literally boxes of my stuff we had to go through.  We knew she had many miscarriages before deciding to adopt.  We found record after record of the pre-adoption and adoption process.  We knew my mom, and dad, wanted a child to the point of sacrificing a good slice of their life, time and money to find the one God had for them.

I’ve always been grateful for the gift of adoption and forever thankful that God had placed me in such a loving, caring and nurturing family.  I knew my parents loved me. I never realized the depth of that love until I started unearthing ALL of the ‘artifacts’ of my mom’s life.  It was then I saw, and read, her deepest thoughts and desires.  She literally poured her life into mine and probably to a fault, set me on a bit of a pedestal; at least in her mind.

But it didn’t stop there.  My mom was a frugal and WELL organized person.  My dad passed in 1976 and for that time period, left her fairly well off; at least enough to not have to worry about her financial situation.  My mom worked several full-time jobs following my dad’s death.  She worked at K-Mart, a theme-park bakery and other miscellaneous places.  Once she stopped working full-time she began helping prepare meals for elderly or handicap people who couldn’t cook or get out for themselves.

My mom was always giving to others.  She gave to Disabled Veterans, the Humane Society, her church and a myriad of other organizations; all while living on a minascule retirement income and Social Security.  She had NO credit card debt and always paid her bills on time.  Her finances were in good order, very detailed and she kept good records!  She even had all but $1000 of her funeral expenses covered.

But her life was about more then fiscal integrity, sacrifice and organization.  Her life was, and will continue to be, a testimony of a life that finished well.  Not a luxurious life by ANY stretch.  Not a lavish life.  Not a frivolous life.  Not an eccentric life, but a life of love, joy, peace, perseverance, faithfulness, patience, self-control, kindness, goodness, gentleness.

Hmmm, sound familiar?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  

(Galatians 5:22-24 NIV)

Happy Birthday mom, the legacy of your life still lives on.  You are a wonderful example of a mom and shining example of how we should live our lives.

You finished well, are loved and greatly missed.

The Church and Cheers

If you grew up on TV in the 80’s and early 90’s you are most likely VERY well familiar with the sitcom Cheers.  You remember the lovable and quirky characters, Sam Malone, the bar’s owner, chief bartender, former baseball player and ladies’ man, who had an on-and-off again relationship with Diane, the grad student.  Then there was Rebecca, Cheers owner/manager after a buyout by the company she worked for.

Cheers1

There many ‘wacky’, yet affable characters that filled the bar on a regular basis,  as both employees and patrons.  There was Carla, the sarcastic waitress, beer-loving accountant Norm, know-it-all postman Cliff.  Then there was small-town, and sometimes clueless, Woody Boyd,  Frasier Crane, the psychiatrist, Lillian Sternin, an incredibly cold and placid psychiatrist and Coach, who eventually dies.

Cheers was a microcosm of society.  Losers, ‘wannabes’, misfits, has-been’s and those who were in search of their true identity and place in life.  The theme song for Cheers expressed the feelings of everyone who was caught up in this fish bowl of a bar.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got. 
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. 

Wouldn’t you like to get away? 

Sometimes you want to go 

Where everybody knows your name, 
and they’re always glad you came. 
You wanna be where you can see, 
our troubles are all the same 
You wanna be where everybody knows 
Your name. 

So, what can we learn from Cheers that we could apply in the church today?  What lessons could we take from the way the characters in the bar related to each other?  What might be missing in the church today that one kind readily find in a bar like Cheers?

church-05

I think some of what we could take away is found in the lyric of the Cheers theme song.

Here are what will hopefully be some thought-provoking questions that you could ask of your church, or ministry.

Is the church really a place that folks go to escape the worries of this world, the pressures of every day life, or do people see the church as a place that is full of judgmental and even hateful individuals who are not accepting of someone that thinks differently, dresses differently, or is an outcast of society?

Is the church a place where ‘everybody knows your name’, or are you just a face in the crowd?  

Is the church a place where people are ‘really glad you came’?

Is the church a place where we sit down and talk about our troubles?  Or, do we come and go and never really dive into life with each other?

It seems that there is more of life that was shared around the bar in Cheers that EVER gets shared within the wall of our churches.  Sure, have fellowships, we have programs, we have events and BIG services, but we never just pull a chair, grab a drink, and make people feel like they’re glad they came.  We don’t seem to share life the way the characters in the Cheers bar did.  They loved each other, they got involved in one another’s lives.  When one person hurt, they all hurt.  When one person was down, everybody tried whatever they could to cheer them up.  They were a family, a close-know family that were well of each others faults and shortcomings, yet loved even still.  

They cried together, they celebrated together, and did as Scripture exhorts us to do in Galatians 6:2-3, Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  Or Romans 15:1-2 says, We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

One thing you quickly notice about the characters in Cheers, they do share in each others lives and are genuinely concerned for the welfare of others.  Do we do that in our churches today or do just shuffle in and out of our building never

The Forgotten Part of Forgiveness

Let’s face it, it is NOT easy to forgive someone who has hurt you deeply. There are emotional scars, mental scars and yes, even physical scars at times. It affects you and those around you who love you and are close to you. It’s been said that time heals a lot of things and to a degree that is true, but in my experience, a deep, deep hurt is never completely erased in your heart or mind.

I experienced a deep hurt several years ago and I can attest to the fact that the deep hurts in life never completely go away. However, lately I have been convicted, or more like beat over head, that I am the reason why some of these deep hurts haven’t completely gone away. I have not forgiven those who have hurt me or sought forgiveness from those that I have hurt.

It’s time I change that.

I heard a quote the other day, and while it wasn’t directly related to the subject of forgiveness, it was exactly what I needed to hear to move toward seeking forgiveness from the ones that I have hurt and forgiving those who have hurt me.

The quote was this, “Don’t live a life of what ifinstead live a life of why not?” So immediately I realized that I don’t ever want to have to say what if I had forgiven so and so, or what if I had sought forgiveness from someone I had hurt. So starting now, I’m asking myself why not? Why not forgive? Why not move on?

It’s the why not question that I feel IS the forgotten part of forgiveness. Forgotten in the sense that the longer we don’t forgive someone, or seek forgiveness, the more likely it is we’ll never ask ourselves why not?

Have I followed through, not yet? Do I plan to? Absolutely! And soon! The Bible says in Ephesians 4:26-27 “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.”

If you need to forgive someone, or ask for forgiveness, do it now! Don’t wait! Ask yourself, why not?

Well, let’s just say there have already been a LOT of sunsets in my life, and I don’t intend to let that continue. No more, what if it’s time for why not?,