Aside from some of the other things I dabble in, I also run a Facebook page supporting awareness of childhood cancers. When I saw this post today it set me back and made me truly reflect on my own faith and inner strength. At the end of the day I can turn off my computer and retreat to the den. Or I can go crawl into bed and leave reality. But the daily struggles that parents of children with cancers face is their reality. This post was very humbling. I invite you to read her story, then visit and “LIKE” their Facebook page, Pray for Grey – The Journey Continues
I’ve stepped away from this page for a while, searching my own heart, seeking God and trying to make sense of life in general. I am human, I am weak and my faith falters at times. It has always been my desire to keep this page positive, uplifting, encouraging and hope filled… but in doing so, I sometimes wonder if I have created a false view of who I am as a person and as a mother to a child with such huge health challenges.
Our life is filled with ups and downs, strengths and weaknesses, rejoicing and heartache, trust and fear… It is a roller coaster ride of emotions that one cannot fully understand until they have walked this road themselves. Faith is built up and torn down, sometimes prayers seem to fade into the distance and silence seems to be their answer.
It is amazing how loud and overwhelming silence can be when that silence seems to be coming from the God in whom we believe and trust. Have you been there? Have you ever felt that God had walked away for a while… taken a stroll when you needed Him most? Have you ever looked up and asked, “Where are You and what on earth are You doing?”
When we find ourselves drowning in adversity or overwhelmed with heartache and brokenness, it is human nature to desire… no… to demand answers as to our sufferings.
When it comes to heartache and suffering there is no greater example than the man, Job. He had everything… God’s blessings had been upon him and he prospered immensely. But one day events unraveled and all that Job had was taken from him; all of his possessions, all of his livestock, all of his servants, all of his children… and then, even his own health. In his suffering, his friends accused him of wrong doing and turned away from him.
Who would have blamed Job for crying out in anger against the God that he had loved and served? After all… what kind of loving God would allow such heartache to fall upon one who had served Him so devoutly?
How many times I have heard this question posed… “What kind of God”… or “Where is God when…” It is Satan’s snare to trip us when we are weakened emotionally and spiritually… when life has beaten us down and we find ourselves worn and completely overwhelmed and we are at our most vulnerable… It is then that the enemy attacks and places doubts and questions in our minds and hearts.
This snare trapped Job’s wife. In the book of Job, chapter 2 and verse 9 His wife said to him, “Are you still maintaining your integrity? Curse God and die!” I can imagine that Satan was never so close to a smile than at that moment as he leaned in to hear Job’s reply, confident that Job would fall to his wife’s words and his current circumstances. Everything hung on Job’s reply to his wife.
Job’s reply is both magnificent and astounding. Job 2:10 records Job’s words… “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks”.
I’m certain that is not the reply she was expecting. How magnificent and inspiring that even in all of his misery and brokenness, as he sat there covered in sores not knowing if his life would ever change, Job stood firm and even posed a question back to his wife. “Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity”?
Isn’t that our way? Every single day there are blessings in our lives. Some are huge and we cannot deny them, others must be sought out, but they are there. But how easily we accept those blessings, and even feel entitled to them or we credit ourselves for their existence… but the very second something doesn’t go our way we begin the blame game with God.
“Why? Why me? I live a good life; I go to church, tithe, I give to the poor, feed the hungry, care for sick children, help the elderly, and protect the animals; donate to a worthy cause… I’m a good person… I don’t deserve this!
But Job acknowledged that he served a God who had every right to do whatever He wanted to do, to allow whatever He needed to allow without obligation of explanation. Notice… I said ALLOW. I do not believe God to be the author of pain and suffering… these things come from Satan, but they are ALLOWED into our lives to shape us, mold us, grow us, restore us and even break us for the glory of God. God has no obligation to step into a hospital room and say, “Now let me offer you five reasons why this has happened to your son.” God is full of compassion and His heart breaks with ours as we face adversities, but His plan is beyond our comprehension.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. Isaiah 55:8-9
So we say, with Job, “God… I trust you. I don’t begin to know why I am going through this. But You see me, You know me, You know this hurt and Your heart breaks with mine. If I must walk this road, if there is something that I can learn, reveal it to me. If there is something someone else can learn, help me be what they need even in my brokenness. Lord, I give this to You, just get me through it. Hold me close. Deepen me. Change me and restore me”.
Job knew God was God, and that someday all that was mystery would be revealed. When we leave this life for eternity and we step into God’s presence… for the first time we will be given the panoramic view… We will see from beginning to end and then (and not until then) we will respond, “So THAT’S the reason! Now I get it!”
God is totally and completely and absolutely in control.
If you lose every single member of your family, He is in control.
If your marriage crumbles and you find yourself alone, He is in control.
If you finances crash and lead you into bankruptcy, He is in control.
If the test results are not what you had prayed for and things could not be worse, God is in control.
There is a greater plan behind it all. One day, that plan will be revealed and we will see beyond the pain and suffering and find purpose. How absolutely amazing and magnificent to see those who choose to trust Him to the very end of this vale of suffering saying;
“May His name be praised… I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it. Nevertheless, may His name be praised.”
May God enable us to raise our faith to such heights.
Covered in grace,
FIrst things first, no on has to tell me that God expects us to be clean of heart, mind, and body. I am fully aware of that. So I’m sure that makes many of you hypocritically consider me being a hypocrite by calling myself a Christian, yet stating my opinion that Marijuana should be legalized in the United States.
Now I guess to some degree I can fully understand and appreciate many of the cases against legalization, and in no way do I harbor any ill feelings towards anyone whose view is contrary to my opinion. But as a practicing Christian with a moderate view of our society, government, and faith as a whole, I feel it is my duty to be one of those to speak up. The problem with most subjects like this is that usually the minorities involved in the discussion bully their way into winning the argument because the majority who are in favor won’t speak up! So here I am.
There are many great reasons why this country should legalize marijuana. We have proven studies that show that derivatives of cannabis help with easing chronic pain, and are used to produce other pharmaceutical products for cancer patients. This includes children who have little help from the cancer research world with new treatments.
There is also the stress relief provided which could provide much needed help for all of the military personnel returning from the middle east after over 10 years at war. We are only at the tip of the iceberg in what may be the most overwhelming epidemic of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) this world has ever seen.
Yadda Yadda Blah Blah. Yes, I know. Not enough to over shadow the rigid chin of the far right. But after all is said and done, one thing rings true in the history of our nation: Prohibition does not work!
Currently our country is in a battle within itself over gun control. The far right argues that the citizens of this country have the right to defend themselves so it should be just fine that my Uncle Billy Bob in the hills of eastern Kentucky (I’m from there so I am allowed to point fun) should be allowed to own rocket launchers if he wants to. The far left says we need to regulate who has guns, do stiffer background checks, limit the amount of ammunition an owner has, etc. Neither of these is going to be the answer. But we have to have a fight over it because some lunatic walked into a school and shot innocent children. But, it’s not just this event. Things like this have been happening for a while, but we just felt it was time to fill the news with it. Of course, the events in Boston this past week didn’t help the rights cause any either. Two guys dropping pressure cooker bombs in the middle of a crowded event and then shooting police officers tends to give guns a bad name.
So let’s turn the prohibition of Marijuana into the conversation of guns. If we prohibit Marijuana only criminals will have it. Marijuana doesn’t kill people, people kill people. (Actually I have never heard of anyone smoking cannabis and then going out and killing a bunch of people).
But wait, what if we sold Marijuana in a store and required an age limit, and possibly even a limit on how much you could purchase? If it was a cash crop, then the government could tax it much like they have with the tobacco industry. If everyone had access to it then all of the billions of dollars being paid to Mexican drug cartels would go into the United States economy and would likely diminish the trillions of dollars in deficit we have in no time.
Next question, can anyone put a figure on how much it cost to house one person in jail, pull them up before the judge to be charged and prosecuted, for just one small little burned out marijuana cigarette? How about what it cost to house the thousands of people who are in jail for a few grams of marijuana in a baggie? Meanwhile, the people who are bringing this product into the United States are being made into multi-millionaires. They are also some of the most cold-blooded killers in the world!
And then there are our teens. The future of our country. The ones who at 13-19 think if it’s risky, edgy, I’m gonna do it because I can. I know that none of my readers were teenage rebels. They were all perfect angels.
Kids that want to smoke cigarettes will find a way to get them. Kids that want to drink alcohol will find a way to get it. Kids that want to do drugs will find a way to get them. And please, no more of this gateway crap. It’s no more a gateway drug than alcohol is to cigarettes. OUCH! Did you feel that? I can’t tell you how many people I know started smoking because someone got them to do it while they were drinking. Truth hurts, but it is what it is.
So now for the christian part of it. Again, I know we are called to be of clean mind, body, and heart. Just like everything else on this earth though, God gave us a choice. We have to be parents who talk to our kids about the consequences of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, owning a gun, driving a car, having sex, and every other thing that gets encountered in life. We can’t be the IRS trying to stop the bootleggers from running hooch. Everyone needs to be able to make the decision to use, or not to use cannabis on their own, and NOT be regulated by the government.
The christian approach to this is like anything else, show them the path to follow. The choice is still up to them. Lead by example.
My final case for legalization nationally: This article in todays New York Times
Many of you will disagree. I know that. And I respect your opinion. But the time is coming. *I hope before I die. A recent poll showed that 52 percent of Americans are for legalization. (The rest were too paranoid to say yes). By taking a proactive approach,
*freeing up our police to take care of more urgent matters,
*freeing up prison housing to keep killers, rapists, and child molesters off the streets longer,
*adding the money needed to alleviate the debt we owe other countries so we can stand firm on our own financial two feet,
*shutting down the #1 trafficked product from Mexico and taking billions from the drug cartels hands,
the United States will once again become the greatest nation on this planet. (and the happiest!)
Elinor Nagle, my wife’s 93 year old Grandmother, passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early hours of Saturday morning July 4th, 2009. She had finally secumbed to the cancer that had invaded her frail body.
I was introduced to Elinor in 1997 after meeting my wife. She was the ripe old age of 81. My first impressions of her were like that of society socialites. She dressed very conservatively, yet stylish. She accessorized with the bobbles and jewels one would expect of an elderly person, yet a bit more fashionable. She held her head high, not in a snooty kind of way, but more as to show her self confidence.
My conversations with her over the years were many. For me, I have always been facinated with “The Good Old Days” and the stories of how life has changed for those who have managed to be here so long. With Elinor, this was no exception. The stories of her childhood and conversation about the changes in society were always spot on. She was well educated and kept herself current with what was going on in the world around us.
Elinor also loved to live vicariously through others travels. She would get excited at just hearing someone mention they were going on a trip, and was even more anxious to hear all about it upon their return. She had a zest for life, and living it, that radiated from her when she spoke.
Grandma Nagle was also what is every man’s dream, a sports enthusiast. Our conversations about golf, football, and the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team were always stimulating. She knew the players, and she knew the results. It was never a dull conversation, nor was it one sided. She asked as many questions as she gave opinions. I was lucky enough to have my wife enherit these traits and they unmistakably came from Elinor.
For many years Elinor was at the center of almost every family gathering or event, socializing with guests and often having extended in depth conversations with people she had just met. That was a trait she definitely shared with her son, my Father-in-law, Boyd Nagle. Never a missed opportunity to share thoughts and opinions on a vast array of subjects, and open to explore new topics without hesitation.
In the later years, her movements impared by age, Elinor’s social life began to slow down. Her travels got fewer. The attendance at family gatherings and events became less often. And her enthusiam for being here on this earth grew thin. In the later stages of her life she was diagnosed with lung cancer and eventually it took it’s toll.
On Friday July 3rd 2009, my wife and I, along with our Daughter and Granddaughter, went to visit Elinor in the hospital for the last time. To our surprise she was awake and doing for herself. Of course she was only a shadow of herself. The nurse was helping her brush her teeth. Her hair was a little mussed, and the hospital gown not anything like what Grandma would wear. She was excited to see us though. She smiled at her Great Great Grandchild and held her hand.
She asked many times about whether she had missed lunch or not. She shared her dislike for chicken, broccoli, and the “yucky” potatoes. When they brought her lunch we were shocked by how much she ate. I had never seen her eat that much in one sitting. She had Macaroni and Cheese, fresh fruit, and two small Lornadoone short bread cookies. On top of that she had two cups of coffee.
We were even treated to a chuckle when she mistook the doctor for the maintenance man and asked him if he was going to be able to fix her air conditioner. The doctor quipped that she had just made his day. Grandma laughed and smiled, even at herself. When he asked how she was doing though her words were “I’m waiting to die”.
In the final moments of that visit, Elinor looked at me and said “It’s hard when your mind is still good, but your body is worn out”. I held her hand a few times and told her that I loved her. Her broken voice said “I know”. As I sat there alone with her in that last few minutes of our visit I began to pray that God would give her peace and let her rest. She struggled to catch her breath so much so that I thought at any moment she would leave this earth. But she was still with us.
As I looked at her left hand I saw the wedding band. Her beloved Cecil whom she had lost years before. She was still wearing the band on her left hand, not on the right. Soon she would be with him.
As our family prepared to leave the room and we said our final goodbyes, Grandma made a childlike wave at her Great Great Granddaughter,Isabella and a gentle smile broke on her face. As Isabella, the fifth generation, reached to kiss her goodbye, Grandma leaned in and kissed her on the lips. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
As we walked out of the room and looked back one more time we all knew in our hearts that we would not see Grandma alive again. But at the same time we knew that we had a great visit and a memory we will cherish for a lifetime. In this lifetime you never know where your journey might lead you. In the end we were all in a better place, made better because we had a chance to know Elinor Nagle.