Joy no matter what. A blog by Deanne Nelson.

Blogging, Speaking, and Writing | Jesus and Autism | The Nelson Family Journey

But the greatest of these… May 25, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 5:48 pm
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I start off by sharing that I am not an expert on anything. Oh, there have been areas that I once thought I might have known more than a little something about, but one thing that the years have given me (besides poor eyesight and an extra twenty-five pounds) is humbling revelation. I find that humility is the absolute best teacher, if we are willing to receive and be trained by it.

That all being said, there is no question that darkness and sin abound in our world. One does not need to be a scholarly theologian to come to that conclusion. What is so disheartening is the ever growing collateral damage that our sins are leaving behind. Sin has dire and destructive consequences to be sure. We live in a time where pain, violence, and offense have become the norm, but is it too late to find hope in this world? Our nation? Our workplace and neighborhoods? How in the world do we fight the sin and darkness that come to destroy ourselves and each other??

Now, I again reiterate that my word is not one of any power or authority in this matter, but I believe that the Lord God speaks truth into the hearts of those who seek Him. We are all but one prayer away from His advice, counsel, and direction. I am only sharing what has invaded my heart as I pray and ponder over all that is around us.

The answer starts with something that we all have open access to, but will we receive it and use it? The starting place creates the entire foundation, but will we skip over this step to get to matters that we believe are more pressing or crucial? Oh yes, many people believe that they have the keys to knowledge and understanding, but have we forgotten the most critical and basic of all requirements for hope and restoration to abound?….

LOVE.

It is a word we use in excess. We love coffee, the beach, Disneyland, our families, etc. We love to sleep too! But genuine and deep love comes from the Lord God. In the Greek language, there are multiple words to define varying types of degrees of what we know in English as ‘love’. One such word is ‘agape,’ and it refers to love that is everlasting, unconditional, and transforming. It is this type of love that can take a blameless man to a brutal death on a cross, and leave behind not a single shred of irritation, blame, or offense. Not only that, it is a love that offers total and complete forgiveness to anyone, no matter how much of a sinner they are. Let’s face it; we are all just a mess. This love does not need you to get ‘cleaned up’ or ‘right’. It is there for the taking. It comes from the Lord God, through way of Jesus Christ. He was the one who battled the shame, sin, and death for us on the cross, and what did He leave behind for us?…LOVE. Will you receive His love? I promise you this, it is the answer for your every need, question, and longing.

To the broken sinner…you are loved.

To the struggling drug addict…you are loved. God loves you right now, just the way you are. He loves you as you are injecting, snorting, smoking, or ingesting, and He loves you as you plead and fight through the pains of withdrawal. He loves you as you fall one more time to the beast of addiction, and He loves you as you try to convince yourself and others that this time is the last time. He loves you just as much as He loves any human being who is and ever lived. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?

To the homosexual, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, pornographic partaker, prostitute, and all others…you are loved. God has formed every part of you and loves His creation. He knows you better than you know yourself, and so today, just know that you are loved totally and completely, just the way you are. The walls of shame and anger that you might feel in regards to God were not placed there by Him. Jesus Christ extends love and hope to all, and will not turn you away. Please do not turn Him away. He did not love you more when you were living ‘better,’ and He will not love you any less when you make choices and decisions that don’t align with His ways. His love is constant, no matter what. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?

To the murderers, rapists, pedophiles, terrorists…yes, Jesus’ blood shed on the cross is that strong. You are loved in complete measure. The God who created you is merciful beyond human comprehension, and His love can be your true source of life and hope. It is a love that washes every stain, and leaves behind a new creation. God’s love for you is just as powerful and alive as His love for Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, or any of the spiritual ‘greats’ as we might perceive them to be. The foot of the cross is level ground, with a full and equal portion of love to all who come. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?

To the atheist, agnostic, new world guru, Mormon, Baptist, Lutheran, Buddhist, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Hindu, Catholic, Christian, Jew, and ALL other religions…you are loved. God has never been bound by our religious boundaries. His unconditional and total love for mankind crosses right over all of them. He loves you today, no matter what ‘religion’ you happen to be practicing right now. When Jesus died on the cross, a way was provided for each and every individual to come to God. No need to earn certain theological or advanced knowledge, or to pass through a series of ritualistic steps of worthiness. You have an open pathway to His perfect love through Christ. He sees you, He knows you, and most importantly, He loves you. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?

Hhhmmm, any others?  Have you ever lied, cheated, stolen, grumbled, or complained? Have you ever been envious, prideful, jealous, angry, bitter, selfish, or self-righteous? Ever felt that someone of a different race, political affiliation, or religion was beneath you? What about offended? Have you ever held an offense against another and harbored unforgiveness in your heart for them, for any reason at all?

I could go on, but I believe I have touched on every human being who has ever lived, and who ever will. If you take issue with this, I would refer you to the preceding paragraph, and hope that you do not take offense.

The apostle Paul sums it up under guidance of the Holy Spirit…“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.”… 1 Timothy 1:15. 

Why in the world would Jesus Christ do such a thing? The answer has always been there since the foundation of the world…LOVE. God loves you. He loves you magnificently. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”…John 3:16.

The question is, will you now take that love and pour it out into others? If  the love of Jesus would  flow freely out from those who have been willing to receive it, our world would literally have a love explosion! It would be colossal. We would see unity, restoration, healing, and joy across our land.

I suppose I could have cut straight to the chase and said that God loves all sinners, but there are some groups of people that I specifically mentioned in which some people feel might be disqualified. Not so. We are all sinners, plain and simple.

To my precious Christian brothers and sisters, we are truly free in Christ Jesus, but it was nothing that we earned or deserved. May we use that freedom to love all the more. While we certainly have the right to protest and boycott things we feel strongly about, let’s be sure that we are not boycotting the love He so strongly wants us to spread. He just might be sending you to the very people or places that you feel certain you must exclude. Be prayerful and willing to open your heart to where the Spirit leads, knowing that He might be speaking a different plan and purpose to another. May mercy and grace abound in these things.

“Three things that will last forever-faith, hope, and love-but the greatest of these is LOVE.”  1 Corinthians 13:13

Let’s get busy fighting the darkness of this world with agape love for one another. It is a powerful weapon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I get a do-Over?? August 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 11:41 pm
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Remember as a kid when someone would yell ‘do-over’ if things just weren’t going their way? We used to play a game we called ‘pickle,’ where we neighborhood kids would run back and forth from base to base trying not to get caught by the ‘it’ person who had the ball. My big brother would routinely yell out for the ole’ do-over when he got caught and since he was older, the rest of us would oblige. But we kids felt a certain injustice to this concept, as we knew even at a young age that no action already completed could truly be ‘done over.’ The do-over is a certain misnomer, but wouldn’t it be lovely if we all could be trusted with even just one do-over in our lifetime? Would we use it wisely?  What would you re-do? One definition I found for this term fits the bill perfectly…’To do something again from the beginning, especially because you did it badly the first time.’

I do not even have to think about what I would do over……

I met my husband Grant back in the summer of 1995. I was twenty-three years old and fell instantly and hopelessly in…infatuation! I recall using the love word on about our second date. I clung to him tightly and had no plans of letting go. I would quickly learn that Grant had been previously married and had two very young children, a daughter Meghan and a son Devon. They were 4 and 1 at the time. This indeed was news and I was a bit panicked at the thought. I had never dated a divorced man, and I certainly never considered becoming a stepmother one day. My little world was all about me back then. I was a Christian in name only, meaning I would have marked off the ‘Christian’ box if given multiple responses to ‘religion of choice’. I did not seek the Lord God, and I did not walk in His ways. I possessed a bible, but its pages remained crisp and pristine due to lack of use.

Grant would see his children every other weekend, and his love and devotion to them was very strong. I felt a bit jealous as I would watch him shower them with an amazing type of love that only a father can give. They too adored him. They would both climb all over him in a tangled heap of play wrestling and hugs. The giggles and laughter were contagious and I soon began to join in on the fun. The more I fell in love with him, the more I fell in love with his children. I began to picture a life with him, and them, but my heart was fearful over where my place in that might be. I was not their mother, and had no clue how to guide or direct them. Would they resent me if I tried to discipline them? Would his ex-wife become angry over my influence on their lives? This was completely foreign territory to me. As our relationship became more serious, my concerns only grew. I was operating on fear, which is what people do when they do not have faith in the Lord. It is a life of reacting, rather than expecting.

Grant’s ex-wife had already been remarried, and her new husband and she had approached Grant before about letting her husband legally adopt the children. Grant had apparently refused this request. There were tensions between Grant and his ex wife back then, and there were routine disagreements between them in regards to multiple issues about the children. That was hard to be involved in, and again I did not know how to navigate those waters. The topic of having her new husband adopt the children came up again, and Grant and I had many discussions about it. I was always there to throw in my selfish two cents..that this man was already there for the children, providing them love, safety, and security…and that they could be a family minus all of the tension and arguing over visitation, etc. My reasoning continued…after all, they really were a family already, and what difference would it make if they became a legal family?..I had this little picture perfect vision of them having their nice family, and Grant and I some day starting our own family as well. Maybe we could all come together from time and time and oh how peaceful it all could be. I felt certain that we would still know them and that they would know us. My head was stuck in some fairy tale cloud, and I just wanted my Prince Charming in the end. I saw no cause for concern in Grant letting go of his legal rights as a father, as it would never change his love for them. I was bitterly wrong in regards to the impact such a choice would have.

And so Grant reached the decision in his heart to let his children be adopted by their stepfather. Through it all, I encouraged and supported that decision, and reasoned with myself that it was best for everyone involved. I will always remember the day that the adoption became official. Grant wept bitter tears and I was unable to console him in any way.  It was the first time I truly considered the ramifications of what had been done. Did he make the wrong choice?? I did not dare voice that thought out loud back then, as I had been the one giving him counsel to proceed. But as I watched his anguish, the seeds of regret were being planted in my heart. I felt certain that I would be all he needed to fill any void. What a prideful woman I had somehow become.

Grant and I married in 1996 and lived mere minutes from the children back then. As the years passed, we thought of them often and would inquire about them. Recent pictures of them were sent to us and we were so grateful for that, but all forms of communication between Grant and his children had come to an end. Their mother would share that she did not want the children to be confused, and so opted to keep Grant out of their lives. We had to respect that decision, as after all, they certainly did have a father and Grant had given his consent for this. But as the days and years passed, the pain of missing their lives was leaving a dark hole in our hearts. How did it ever seem like a good decision? Regret leaves a bitter stain, and I began to wonder if Grant had resentment for me in his heart for the part I played in it all. We did not speak of such things though. I was longing to know Grant’s feelings but I did not have the courage to go there.

In time Grant and I began to try and start our own family. What started out as months turned into years, and we were not getting pregnant. I believe the longing in a woman’s heart to be a mother packs more power than a mighty army of marines in combat. It is a longing that cannot be quenched, and a yearning so deep that all else pales in comparison. I knew that Grant was capable of having children, so I reasoned that something must be ‘wrong’ with me. I cried a river of tears during that time, and I even resorted to praying! It is hard to fathom my life without prayer now, but back then, it had become my last resort. I had so much to learn. I still recall those ‘wish list’ prayers to become a mother…those bargaining prayers of all I would do and change if I could just have a baby. But when my endless babbling would cease, I would sometimes sit in silence, and it was then that the Lord God would put Meghan and Devon in my heart. I did not know what to do with such thoughts. I would cry, laugh, sob, smile…memories would flood in of the few times I got to spend with them. I would envision Grant embracing and loving them, but this time I had no fears…no hesitation…no jealousy. God was showing me how perfect and superior His ways are, and how very far I had been from them. I was learning humility, and while painful, it was life changing. I had finally cried over Meghan and Devon, the way I should have years earlier. I had been completely blinded by my own selfish motives in regards to them, and the closer I came to God, the more this truth hit me square in the face. He was revealing my every motive in the decision to let the children go, and the truth of it all felt like it might crush me. I simply wanted Grant all to myself…period. I dressed it up with all kinds of good and pious sounding explanations at one time, but God stripped away all of that fluff in an instant and I was laid bare. I had missed a beautiful opportunity to be a stepmother to two valuable and extraordinary children. I let streams of gold slip right through my fingers with disregard for how rare and excellent the journey could have been. My heart screamed out…“DO OVER!!!!’

No, there are no do-overs. We all must live with the consequences of our choices, and God is not obligated in any way to ease the burdens wrought from our decisions. In fact, it is through living out the consequences of our poor decisions that we learn, grow, and are changed. What is crucial to know is that God is a God of restoration and hope. If we have a repentant heart for our sins, and choose to embrace Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, then we can be certain that we have become a new creation. He changes our heart, motives, and desires. He indeed makes all things new and empowers us to walk in His ways. He took away my guilt and shame over the decisions of the past, and put a new hope in my heart for what could lie in store for the future. I am not the same woman I was back then, and Jesus Christ is the one and only reason that I have anything to boast about today…and I boast about Him. Here is a sure promise that I claim for our lives with Meghan and Devon…’Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’…Isaiah 43: 18-19  I have prayed for years now that Meghan and Devon could find it in their hearts to forgive us for missing so much of their lives. That is a river in the desert type of miracle, but with God’s help, it is very possible. It is not too late to start a new life with them in it.

Do you have deep regrets from the past??….It is not too late for a miracle. Anything is possible if you will only believe.

Many years have passed and we have been blessed with three children of our own. God granted fertility in good measure! We have always told our children about their half brother and sister, and longed for the day that they could all meet and begin a relationship. Meghan and Devon are both adults now, and are free to choose for themselves if they want to know us. We have reached out to both of them and continue to pray that they can accept our love. We have lived far from them in different states for about twelve years now, but we will not let that hinder us. The prayers will continue….

And just last week a wonderful miracle occurred. My daughter Grace and I flew out to AZ from NC to visit with my grandmother who is dying. She lives in a remote area, but we had learned that Devon had recently moved back to AZ to a town not far from hers. We asked if we could see him and he agreed! I was a bit of a nervous wreck. Grace was truly excited to meet her half brother in which she had heard of for so long. My heart soared as we drove to get him. It was hard on Grant, as he stayed back home in NC with our boys. He was chomping at the bit knowing we were getting to see Devon in the flesh. I had not seen Devon since he was about 18 months old. He is now nineteen! I cried when I got a hold of him, and I cry even now as I type this. He is an extraordinary young man, and he offered such kindness and warmth to us instantly. He and Grace got along beautifully and were silly together, just like siblings do. His eyes are so much like Grant’s, and there is a tenderness to him that is endearing and wonderful. We are so hopeful at the possibility of seeing him more and more and having him as part of our lives. We as well have the same prayer and desire to know Meghan. Only the Lord could offer a heart so much hope, despite the choices of the past.

While every human being faces regret and loss in this world, there is a real God who is the only one to offer comfort and joy through any and all circumstances. There is no mistake that He is not ready and willing to forgive, if you are ready and willing to trust Him with your life.  There are no do-overs, but through Christ, you can have a clean slate..without blemish. That beats any do-over…any day!! Trust HIM today. ….PSALM 103:2..”I have removed your sins from you as far as the east is from the west.”…AMEN!!

Here are some pics of the long awaited reunion.

Grace and Devon meet!!

Grace and Devon meet!!

Silly!

Silly!

 

To the little girl at Chick-fil-a…. June 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — gdnelson5 @ 10:21 pm
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IMG_0132Our youngest son Caleb was almost 4 years old when we took a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains of NC. Our beautiful vacation had come to an end and we finished up our last day with a robust breakfast of eggs and bacon. With bellies full, all three kiddos were loaded into the momma minivan for the road trek home. Now, a road trip for the Nelson clan would include any ride lasting more than twenty minutes, as the whines and cries come quickly thereafter…’Are we there YET??’ But for this venture we had borrowed some portable DVD players, so Scooby Doo would be providing some relief and respite for this two hour trek. Yes, the  road was ours, and it was a gorgeous day for a drive.

I noticed from the get go that Caleb appeared a bit out of sorts. He was very quiet (odd for him) and would let out a whimper from time to time. At about the half way mark I asked if anyone needed to use the bathroom, as the town of Shelby was in sight. Caleb said that he needed to go, so into the good ole’ Chick-fil-a we went. We scurried our way to the bathroom in back and I took him into the ladies room with me. The quarters were quite small and as Caleb and I pushed open the door, we were met by a beautiful young girl about three years old herself. She had a stunning white and pink dress on, complete with tulle and ribbon flowers, with lace and frilly socks to match. Her hair was golden with fresh curls pulled back in a satin pink ribbon. She could have been on toddlers and tiaras. Mom too was all gussied up and gorgeous in her own striking dress with heels that I would break an appendage in. As these lovely girls were primping in the mirror, I tried to maneuver quickly around them to the nearest stall. What happened next came straight from a mother’s horror flick…..a nightmare indeed, which seemed to play out in agonizing slow motion. In a blink and with NO warning, Caleb projectile vomited every last ounce of his morning eggs and OJ. This colorful combination of filth found its way directly on to the back of this young girl’s perfect dress, and even dripped from the frills on her socks. Pandemonium quickly ensued as both mother and daughter were wailing in disgust and protest. All I could do was plead and beg for forgiveness…’Oh..I AM SOOO SORRY!!’ I felt utterly helpless as I watched this poor mother frantically trying to remove the vomit that now covered the back side of her daughter…it was even in her hair. It was a truly horrible moment. As Caleb himself started to cry uncontrollably, I just kept repeating over, and over, and over, how very sorry I was. A Chick-fil-a worker came rushing in as it was quite a scene. She was an older woman and she too chimed in with disapproval…’Oh my, you poor, poor girl…’ She then turned and gave Caleb and I a glare of complete and total condemnation. By now my voice was raising and cracking into tears..’I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.’….There was no acknowledgment whatsoever of my pleas. There was crying all around, and  Caleb and this little girl had reached a fever pitch. And then I just exploded, right there in the bathroom. I had my own projectile vomit come out of sorts as I screamed at a volume that I did not even know I was capable of…’HE IS JUST A LITTLE BOY…..FOR THE LAST TIME, I AM SORRY!!!!’ …..Total silence followed. I scooped up my toddler and hightailed it out of there…

Some things truly seem impossible to forgive.

True forgiveness can be a tricky concept. Some people feel that a sincere and genuine apology must be made by the one who has hurt or offended them before they can extend this gift. Many people spend many years, if not much of their lifetime, resenting another for a hurt or pain that they have not been able to release. I know I have felt certain that I have forgiven an offense, only to play it over and over in my head and still drudge up feelings of resentment for that person.  Holding on to any resentment at all is like clinging to a piece of cancer, and it soon spreads like wildfire and leaves brokenness and bitterness. The one who cannot forgive, is the one who is hurt the most. Forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, it is the mark of a humble and submissive spirit and heart before an almighty God. We are called to be peacemakers in a world that is not ‘fair.’ If you truly want peace and joy in your life, then you must give up your ‘right’ and ‘need’ for a fair life. You will be hurt, you will be disappointed, and you will cry tears of pain….sometimes at the hands of those you love. . It happens to all of us. What you do with the offenses and hurts is what makes all the difference in the world.

The greatest and most exceptional picture of true forgiveness can be seen in the life of Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ was mocked, ridiculed, beaten, and despised by the very people whom He loved and came to save. His hands only extended true beauty and grace, as He healed people of their sickness and pain, and yet those hands were pierced with mankind’s jealousy and hatred. His words were like cleansing balm to the brokenhearted and He extended love to all who were willing to accept it, and yet His name was and is belittled and blasphemed on a regular basis. And yet as He hung on that brutal and torturous cross, He did something that is not even humanely possible. He cried out to Father God to forgive those who had hurt him the most. He called out forgiveness to His very executioners. They were not extending any kind of ‘true’ apology His way at all, but He was extending true mercy and forgiveness,…in full measure. What an astoundingly beautiful and gracious Lord He is. He has not changed a bit, and continues to offer forgiveness to anyone who calls on His name. We are not worthy, and yet He loves us deeply. We are to extend mercy to others, just as He has done for us.  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you….Ephesians 4:32. …

As I peeled out of Chick-fil-a that afternoon, I was not truly sorry at all for the events in the bathroom. I might have yelled it countless times that I was, but somewhere in the chaos I stopped feeling sorry and started feeling plain mad. I was certain I was justified in my feelings, since Caleb did not MEAN to vomit all over that sweet girl. Now I have had much bigger offenses and issues in the forgiveness category to deal with through the years, but it is funny how this is the one that God put on my heart to share today…. I realized that my heart was not right, and I asked God to forgive my anger and resentment over it. As I prayed out loud in the car shortly thereafter, I felt a release of the anger and a true peace come over me. I wished I could go back and find that mom and that little girl. I wanted to tell them that I was truly sorry, and that this time, I meant it.

Today is the day to extend compassion and forgiveness….no matter what.

Yep, that’s Caleb up there at the top of the post. Who could stay mad at him??!!

 

 
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