friday flashback

Tonight as I was picking up the living room I decided to actually sort through one of my infamous piles o' stuff rather than just move it to a secondary location (which is my preferred method for managing my many piles o' stuff). There were magazines, a few pieces of the kids school work, a card Jim gave me for Valentines day a year or two ago... just a bunch of hodge podge things that haven't found a home yet. As I discarded, sorted, and put away, I came across a folded envelope that I initially put in the discard file, til it landed with a "thud" and I realized it was not empty. Opening it, I found an eclectic group of pictures, some of Zach as a baby, one of me on my first birthday, Easter pics of the kids from two different years, a picture of me and my mom (I may or may not be organizationally challenged....) and among them this picture...

That's five year old me holding my six week old baby brother, Christopher. Sweet Chris was born on October 12, 1981 and we soon learned that he had Werdnig-Hoffman Disease. Even as a child, I remember that term carrying great weight. I recall my mom explaining to others that it was a kind of Muscular Dystrophy (it is also known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type I). I recall her explaining to us that Baby Chris would not be with us for long, but that we were going to love him with everything we had for every moment of his life. 

I am not sure how a child is supposed to process this kind of information, but it seems that for me it just became a natural part of our life. Our dining room table was moved to make room for his special crib and all of the machines he had to be hooked up to. Our daily routine included home health aides and nurses coming in to help with his care. At times, mom had to be gone with Chris to the hospital, but most of the time he got to be home with us. I am not sure how my parents managed to balance the strain of a terminally ill child with the needs of two other children... but they did. They allowed our life to feel "normal" even in the midst of such chaos. We sat out on the porch swing. We colored pictures. We hunted Easter Eggs. And we loved each other. 

And then, when he was only eleven months old, mom had the terrible job of coming home and telling us that Baby Chris had passed away. I wanted to comfort my mom, and so I said "it's okay Mommy, he is with Jesus now!" I don't want you to misunderstand... I missed my little brother. I still do. I wonder what a 20 year old Christopher Talley would have looked like. I wonder what it would have been like to grow up with yet another little brother. But, in that moment, all I could think was he is with Jesus. He wins! No more pain, no more needles, no more feeding tubes, no more trache care... he is with Jesus. 

I think about my own life. I think about how Paul struggled with whether it was better to be here, doing God's work, or in eternity standing in awe of the One who is our all in all. No matter what... we win. Chris was such a special person, that he was able to accomplish his purpose in just eleven months (it takes most of us a little longer than that to figure it out). Today as I think about him... I'm sure he's hanging out with my Daddy, worshiping Jesus with all that they have in them. And some day I will get to stand along side them... but until then, I will just keep putting one foot in front of the other on this crazy path God is calling me down. 

Baby Chris was only here a short while, but he had a big, big impact on a lot of lives. Because of him, my family began going to church, and my daddy came to know Jesus. Because of him, I have always held my own kids a little tighter and tried to raise them in the light of eternity- knowing that regardless of what this life may bring, we who are in Christ Jesus can trust in our happily-ever-after. 

If God could use a baby to effect so much change in eleven short months... what can He do with you, if only you would say "yes"? Trust Him. Trust the crazy path He is calling you down...if you are here, He has  something He has purposed for you to do since before the foundation of this world was laid (mind-boggling, isn't it?!) Follow Him! You can't go wrong! If you trust Jesus... you win.

For me to, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith... Philippians 1:21-25


Proud Papa

Do you know how proud your Daddy God is of you? He sees your heart, postured to learn more about Him. He sees your hands, reaching out to those in need. He sees your lips, speaking words of encouragement and love. He sees your feet, on the path He has set out before you. Do you know how proud He is of you?

So often we go through our daily walks, doing as we  think He would have us do… and we forget how engrossed He is in every action, every reaction… watching for evidence of His Holy Spirit at work within us.  Certainly there are times when we fail, but I am convinced that His focus are not on those moments… I am convinced that His focus are on the moments that point to our progress in looking more and more like His Son.

Picture Him, gazing over the balcony of Heaven, cheering you on just as I did when Zach was running toward the end zone. Imagine that!!!! He is watching every step. He sees the opposition… He sees you when you fall short of the goal… but He knows you are learning, and He trusts the process because it’s His process.  I wasn’t disappointed that it took several runs for Zach to get into the end zone… I was proud of him that he just kept trying. And that each time, he pushed a little harder, ran with more confidence, and got a little closer.

I was reminded of my proud Papa yesterday when a family member called, out of the blue, after having read “lessons in teamwork”.  He kept thinking of my statement “and that’s the day I officially became a football mom”… and how proud I had been watching Zach succeed… and he felt the nudge to call me and remind me how proud our Heavenly Father is of us.  Of me.  That the pride we feel in our own children does not even begin to touch how proud He is of us. Of you.

He is watching, ever watching. But not as a Divine Scorekeeper. Not as a dispassionate announcer. He is watching as a Father… bursting with pride when you share a kind word with another, when you choose not to carry the weight of offense and instead opt for forgiveness, when you evidence patience, and love, and faithfulness.  He is ravished by you! He is so proud of you!

And, he is proud of you, too, Ed… after all you didn’t have to call. You didn’t even have my phone number, and you knew that I would be surprised to hear your voice… but He told you to, and so you did.  It felt like a small act from your end, I’m sure… yet to me you were the voice of encouragement and confirmation. You were the voice of my Daddy saying, “I am proud of you, Becky. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other…I will guide your path.”  Thank you so much.

How can we encourage one another today? What opportunities do you have in your workplace, in your home, at the gym to be kind?  You don’t have to sell all you own, or rush to a far off land, or have a deep spiritual revelation to make your Daddy proud. You just need to put one foot in front of the other, and allow Him to guide you. Listen for the nudge, and make the phone call. Ignore the chaos of the world, and smile at the clerk at the grocery store. Hold a door for someone. Look them in the eye. Let the world see Jesus in you today… and while you are at it, listen for your Daddy yelling from the stands “Way to go! Way TO GO!  WELL DONE!!!!” 

A proud daddy :)


lessons in teamwork

Sunday was truly a red letter day for my little man. As he said while changing into pj's last night... "that was the best game of my life". And truly, it was the best game of his two year football career. Zach is always well used during football games- playing on both the offensive and defensive line and on all the special teams (in fact, he has played every minute of every game this season!)... but in this game he not only got to sack the quarterback, but then was put in many times as center, got to assist with field goals by holding the ball for the kicker, was able to return a kick-off... and the crowning moment, his coaches then put him in as running back and after a couple of tries he scored his first official TOUCHDOWN! I was so stinking excited for him! I'm not going to lie, I was pretty stoked for myself too because I happened to be on the sidelines taking pictures as it all unfolded. His coaches were so happy for him, each of them asking "Did you get it mom? Did you get the shot?" And from the sidelines, I could hear all of our friends and family yelling and cheering for him. It was electric! 

Sure it was just a youth football league. And our team was so far ahead that we didn't need another touchdown. But what an experience for him. And as I proudly proclaimed on Facebook after the fact... it was then that I officially became a football mom! Zach and I rushed home to check out the pics I had taken. He gave me the play by play through the game as we relived each moment in time captured on film. Great shot of the QB sack! Cool pics of him set to hike the ball! Action shots of him returning a kick-off! And of course the money shot of his first touch down! But of all the pics I took yesterday (a couple hundred!)... this is the picture that impacted me the most...

And it has nothing to do with the determination on my sons face... or the excitement I felt in this moment... or the cheers I could hear from his daddy...

It's because of the boys surrounding Zachary. His teammates, his friends... going before and behind, to the left and the right... complete protection as he runs the ball toward the end zone. They have him covered. This is what teamwork looks like. The boys I see in this picture are the ones that are usually running the ball... chasing the glory that lies just a few yards away while Zach stands in the gap for them on the line. But this time the roles are reversed and they are taking their job seriously. They've been there, they know when he gets to the end zone everyone will be yelling his name, not theirs... but they recognize their job as no less important. Protect the runner, make a hole, lead him through the chaos to the goal line.

It makes me cry to look at this picture.  And I can't help but think... what if we acted like this in the Body of Christ?  What if we worried less about who got the "glory" of a score on the board and more about just reaching the end zone? If entire church bodies would look at who's currently carrying the ball, and rally around them, cover them, protect them and carry them to the goal line. If rather than breaking out in jealousy when the church down the street experiences a "boom"... we would rejoice with them because we realize that it's not about the number of people in independent buildings... it's about the number of souls going to HEAVEN... it's about de-populating Hell. THAT'S the goal... and it doesn't matter if my church gets there this time, and yours the next, those points still go on the board...

I once read:
There is no limit to what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit. {I've researched this quote, and it's attributed to at least three different people, so we are going to call it "Author Unkown"}

That's what I see in the picture of my son. A group of boys unconcerned with who gets the credit, single-mindedly focused on reaching the end zone... together.  And while these are just the boys caught on film actively protecting Zach, he pointed out that on a subsequent run someone on the line failed to block and he got creamed. That kid was in the position Zach usually plays... and in that moment he fully understood the importance of his job on the line. It takes a team to make a touchdown... it takes a Body to save the lost.

Can we, for the sake of the lost and dying of this world, tear down denominational {read man-made} walls and rejoice with one another? Cover one another? Protect one another? Realize that our common goal is not to fill our individual pews, but to populate Heaven? That we are about Kingdom Work not congregation building? That there are enough lost and dying in our communities that there should never be a cause for stealing sheep from another flock? After all, would a coach go and grab kids off the other team when he has kids ready to play standing on the sidelines?

And within our local bodies... what if we rallied around our Pastors the way we see these young boys rally around their QB? What if we flanked him/her... front, back, to the left and to the right. What if we stood in the gap in prayer, standing against the schemes of the enemy, being a first line of defense as he/she prepares the charge into the end zone? What if rather than criticizing, or neglecting, or tearing down... we built them up, encouraged, and protected? As Zach learned when he was in the back field... when the line fails, the play fails. Realize that your role in the Body is just as important as any other... whether you are on the line, or running the ball, or calling the plays... and if any one part of the Body fails... the line fails to block, the QB is slow on the hand off, the running back fumbles the ball... the play fails.  If you aren't standing in the gap, praying for your pastor every day (count me guilty...!) you are leaving him/her open to the schemes of the Enemy! If you get the message of salvation and fail to carry it into this lost and dying world, you've fumbled the play! Romans 12:3-8 says:
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many parts, and these parts do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body...We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. [NIV]

God has gifted each of us differently. Our role is to realize what He has called us to do within the Body, and then do it with excellence. Give it 110% like I see these little boys doing in this picture. Single-mindedly working toward the common goal of reaching the LOST and growing His Kingdom! There is no limit, Church, to what we can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit! It doesn't matter if you are on the line, or the kick-off team, run the ball or call the plays... it's about the Kingdom... and there is ONLY One who is deserving of the glory anyway! So rise up, friends... and take a lesson from this group of youth football players. After all, it's not about who's name goes in the book as haing made a TD... it's about whose name goes in the Lamb's Book of LIFE!

Psalm 133 {NLT}
How wonderful and pleasant it is
     when brothers live together in harmony!
For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil
     that was poured over Aaron's head,
     that ran down his beard
     and onto the border of his robe.
Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon
     that falls on the mounts of Zion.
And there the LORD has pronounced his blessing,
     even life everlasting.



Tonight at a football game, 10 year old drama broke out as my daughter explained her "boyfriend" was flirting with other girls during lunch hour. As I attempted to explain to her that she could not expect him to stay away from every other girl in the world... and reminded her that she has a couple of guy friends herself that she is very chummy with, I just kept thinking "this is how jealous God is for me". 

The rest of the night, as I watched our local football team, this notion of a jealous God kept running through my mind. Exodus 34:14 says You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you. NLT

He is jealous for me. Jealous. He is jealous about His relationship with me! In this same passage He tells me to be careful. Not to make covenants with others in the land, don't take up the idols of the world... in fact to actively tear them down so that they don't become a snare with me. 

Jesus isn't looking for a Bride who just stays out of bed with other men... He is looking one that won't even flirt with them during lunch break. He is a jealous, zealous God. He is so passionate about you, that He wants your gaze ever steadied on Him and Him alone. Not because He needs our affection, but because He knows that we desperately need His. And because of that He wants nothing to distract us from the one thing that makes us complete.

He is jealous. He doesn't just want to be our number one God. He wants to be our only God. As my friend, Kathy Stephens, illustrated... "Your husband doesn't want to just be your favorite husband... he wants to be your only husband". 

Yet how often do we flirt with the things of this world... cast our tent outside Sodom only to wake up and realize we are a leader in the city? 

The Bridegroom is calling out... He is looking for a Bride that is ravished by Him. A Bride who needs nothing beyond His love, because she knows that He is enough. That when our world is unsteady, He is enough. When our bank account is in crisis, He is enough. When loved ones fall ill, He is enough. When people fail us, He is enough. Who desires no other God besides Him, because He is enough.

Is He enough for you tonight? He gave His all on your behalf, yet like most of us... are you still chasing after things of this world to fill your need to belong, to be loved, to be important?  The Bridegroom is calling out to you, He is looking for your ravished heart. He is looking for my ravished heart. I have things to lay down. Little idols to destroy.  Praying you will allow Jesus to search your heart and shine His light into the places that require more of Him... He is jealous for you...

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith. [Hebrews 12:2a]


Can you keep a secret? You promise?

Good... here goes... lean in friend, I have something to share with you...
{i'm going to start blogging again}

I said it. 

After days of working on a total blog overhaul (you like?), I decided tonight was the night to really do it.  I'm a little apprehensive, because I'm not really sure how this jump back into blogging is going to look. But lately I've been feeling a lot like Jeremiah when he said "his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot." {Jeremiah 20:9}

After a two and a half year hiatus (really? that long?!), I don't expect that anyone would really be paying attention to this little blog 'o mine... but if YOU'VE ever had a fire shut up in your bones, you understand my desire to do something about it! So even if it's just me and Jesus hanging out here at my mind's eye... I'm glad to be back.