Tuesday, October 10, 2017


A question I have often considered, especially since my parents were murdered is if God is in control, then why do Christians suffer? Of course, we bring some suffering on ourselves by our own actions. Some is due to the fact that we live in a broken, fallen world where Satan temporarily reigns. But couldn’t God just keep some suffering from us? Yes, I know that God could do that but He also knows that we grow through suffering. I have read quite a few biographies of successful people. Every single one of them say they became successful because of their difficulties. It was through problems, hardships, and failures that they learned and grew. God knows how we are wired and what we need in order to grow!

Consider this Scripture passage:

2 Corinthians 1:3-6 (TPT) All praises belong to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he is the Father of tender mercy and the God of excellent comfort. He always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us. And just as we experience the abundance of Christ’s own sufferings, even more of God’s comfort will cascade upon us through our union with Christ. If troubles weigh us down, that just means that we will receive even more comfort to pass on to you for your deliverance! For the comfort pouring into us empowers us to bring comfort to you. And with this comfort upholding you, you can endure victoriously the same suffering that we experience.

Besides our own growth, our suffering will help others! I can’t tell you the number of times God has put someone in my path who has experienced great loss. By sharing about my Mom and Dad or what I went through with my husband and his suicide, they are greatly encouraged! In many ways, it minimizes my loss and definitely encourages me as well as them! It’s quite amazing! And we don’t go through it alone!

Isaiah 41:13 (NLT) For I hold you by your right hand— I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. 

God is always right here. Already aware of all that we need. But He does want us to come to Him; to bring our burdens to Him. He doesn’t want us to even begin to try and carry them alone!

Isaiah 26:3 (NLT)  You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

I've had the honor of praying with a young lady who, because of a traumatic brain injury, has been unable to walk or talk for more than 8 years. Since the age of 13 she has been in this helpless state. I have frequently contemplated how she and her family have suffered. When I was praying with her a few weeks ago, I read this passage to her:

Romans 8:17 TPT And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures for indeed, we are heirs of God Himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we must also inherit all that he is and all that he has. We will experience being co-glorified with him provided that we accept his suffering as our own.

I am still trying to unpack everything God is telling us through this verse. As I continued to read Scripture to her that day, every verse I kept seeing had to do with being still before the Lord. I knew I had to shut up and just be still. I had some praise music playing and I invited God into our midst and sat silently before Him. I was in awe as His perfect peace invaded the entire room! In the midst of her suffering, there was great peace! Only in our suffering can we experience this peace. It seems to be the only thing that slows us down enough to make us sit at His feet and meditate on who He is!

Psalm 112:7 (TPT) They will not live in fear or dread of what may come, for their hearts are firm, ever secure in their faith.

No matter what comes our way, we can count on God to see us through! Jesus came to earth knowing how much He would suffer. He did not have to leave His throne on glory for us but He did because of His great love for us! As Jesus died for us, we must also die to ourselves. When we accept Him as Lord, we become a NEW creation!

This summer some of my grandchildren and I were watching some caterpillars in the herb garden. We’ve watched as some of them began weaving cocoons. In this cocoon, they appear to die. The good news is they do not die. Of course, it is the necessary process in order for them to achieve their destiny.

2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

We ARE made new in Christ! It is glorious! We just have to grab hold of it, surrender to it, then spread our wings! God will do the rest.

I have long favored the words of Habakkuk 3:17-18 but I want to share what was happening when he penned those words. In chapter 1 he was complaining to God about what the Israelites were facing. The Babylonians were coming and it was not pretty! Here is God’s reply to Habakkuk:

Habakkuk 1: 5-7 MSG “Look around at the godless nations. Look long and hard. Brace yourself for a shock. Something’s about to take place and you’re going to find it hard to believe. I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you, Babylonians, fierce and ferocious—World-conquering Babylon, grabbing up nations right and left, A dreadful and terrible people, making up its own rules as it goes."

Sound familiar? So much like the terrorism we see in the world today! Yet just 2 short chapters later, knowing these ferocious people were coming and God was going to allow them to take over Israel, Habakkuk was still able to state this:

Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NLT) Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Hallelujah! He stated, “I WILL rejoice…I WILL be joyful!” It was a conscious decision he made to be joyful. He is faithful and we can always depend on Him – no matter what life brings our way.

2 Timothy 2:11-13 (TPT) You can trust these words: if we were joined with Him in death, then we are joined with him in his life! If we are joined with him in his sufferings, then we will reign together with him in his triumph. But if we disregard him, then he will disregard us. But even if we are faithless, he will still be full of faith, for he NEVER waivers in his faithfulness to us!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Grief is a funny thing...

Lately, I've had several people who wanted to talk to me about grief.  Grief is such a funny thing.  You just never know when it will hit.  It's been 6 years since my parents were murdered.  Yet it will still hit out of nowhere.  Just when I think my life is back to normal and the grief is over, it comes washing over me in waves.  I've learned that, for me at least, it is best that I just let it come.  Trying to stop it is as fruitless as trying to curtail a tsunami. However, sometimes I can erect a temporary dam in order to postpone it to a more private place and time to grieve.  

Last week I attended the General Baptist Summit in Evansville, IN.  So many memories, all of them good, flooded my mind and my conversations with many old friends.  Not just my friends but friends of Mom and Dad as well.  I love going and reconnecting.  

Howell General Baptist Church, the very first General Baptist church, had a dinner at the church one evening during the convention.  I went and also took a tour of the historical church building.  It was beautiful!  The church had prepared a booklet telling about the church and it's history.  As I tucked the booklet away the thought hit my mind that I could not wait to share it with Mom.  Almost as soon as the thought entered my mind the realization that I would never share another thing with her here on this earth hit me, and it hit hard.  I was able to reign the cascading thoughts in and push them away from my mind with all the activity and things going on at that moment. But I did wonder how I could have had the thought of sharing with Mom in the first place.  After all, almost everyone I had talked to just that day mentioned how much they missed them.  I knew full well both of them were gone.  How could this thought have leaked into my mind?  I have to admit, it is not the first time something like this has happened to me. When will these thoughts stop?

After I came home  and was unpacking, I came across the booklet again.  I was powerless to stop the flood of grief that filled my soul.  I did not fight it.  What good would it do?  Allowing myself to mourn all over again was better (and I might add, easier!) than trying to convince myself that it was silly to be in such anguish so long after they had died.  I expect that this will happen even 20 years from now.

I have not studied grief like my cousin, Deborah Braboy who has a doctorate degree in psychiatry with an empasis on grief counseling but I am learning from my experiences.  If you were to ask me about how long it will take or how to control your emotions as you deal with the loss of someone you love, I can only say it will take as long as it takes and just allow yourself to feel the loss when it strikes you.  Cry when you must, ache for them when you feel the emptiness, and know that every time you do that, you are respecting their memory, their very lives.  It is okay.  You will survive.  You will always miss them.  Some days will be easier than others.

Now, mind you, I do not wallow in despair and depression crying every day.  That would not honor Mom and Dad.  They would want me to live my life to the full and enjoy my family, my work, and my ministry.  After all, the joy of the Lord is my strength!  If your life is put on hold or you are living in depression every day as you deal with grief, then by all means, get help!  Go to a godly counselor!  Living stuck in grief dishonors the very life you lament.

The beauty in my parents case is that I know I will see them again!  "Hallelujah!" was the last communication I had from Mom through a text.  Hallelujah, indeed!  I look foward to the day I see them again but in the meantime, my life goes on.  God still has a work for me to do here on earth.  As my Dad would say, if you're still breathing, then God still has good things for you to do!  

Consider these Scriptures:

Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.

Ecclesiastes 3: 10-11 (NLT) I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.  Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God's work from beginning to end.

I do not know the outcome.  Why Mom and Dad were murdered.  Why bad things happen to good people.  But I do know that I trust God.  Even here in this fallen, broken world, I know that God has a plan and He is in control.  Take comfort in that fact.  

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 (NLT)  
For everything there is a season, 
a time for every activity under heaven.  
A time to be born and a time to die.  
A time to plant and a time to harvest.  
A time to kill and a time to heal.  
A time to tear down and a time to build up. 
A time to cry and a time to laugh.  
A time to grieve and a time to dance.

Father, I pray for all who are reading this post.  Bring comfort to their souls.  If they do not have a relationship with You, I pray You will reveal Yourself to them. Oh, that they would surrender thier life to You.  Teach them to live without fear.  Bring them to a place of sweet trust in You and who they are in You.  In Jesus' name, I pray, Amen.

Yes, cry if you must but then wipe away your tears and dance.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Detective Jamin Sackman

Six years ago today...a day that changed many lives forever.

Six years ago today Jose came into my parents home and before he left he had stabbed them both to death.  Now he sits in prison.

Six years ago today my parents were brutally murdered.  My brothers, their grandchildren, their great-grandchildren and I will not see them or speak to them again in this life.

Six years ago today my aunts and uncles lost a special brother and sister. Long conversations, visits and times of prayer will not happen for them again until they get to heaven.

Six years ago today neighbors and friends of my Mom and Dad in Springfield, MO were left in fear and bewilderment. Who could have commited this crime? Will he or they come back?

Six years ago today police were called to a crime scene. This scene was so horrific it changed their lives and the way they view their work.

Six years ago today Detective Sackman was one of those officers called to a home on Swan Drive on the Southwest side of Springfield, MO.  What he encountered definitely changed his life forever.

He was eventually assigned to the case and became the lead detective. He was relentless in pursuing justice for the elderly couple he had never met in person but whom he connected with in a very unique way.

In the years to come he would visit their graves at least weekly. He often brought flowers especially on anniversary dates. He spent hours day and night following even the slightest lead. No detail was left uncovered.  He visited many possible witnesses and suspects, often in the middle of the night.

He put himself into shoes he never would have cared to fill in this life. He tried to think in a way so foreign to him in order to solve the crime and recieve justice for my parents.  This went on for years!

I often tried to encourage him to let it go. Several times I told him to spend more time with his young family instead of spending nights on the streets hoping to hear something...anything...that would lead him to thier killer(s). God knew who had done this. He would take care of them. But Jamin would not quit. He would not let up the least little bit.

He spent nearly five full years pursuing their killer. He was determined.  If it were not for his faith in God he might have given up.

Isaish 50:7 (New Living Translation) Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like a stone, determined to do His will. And I know that I will not be put to shame.

Early this morning I received an e-mail from now Investigator Sackman letting me know he was thinking of me today and bestowing God's blessings on me.  May God richly bless you, Jamin!  My family and I appreciate you as well as all the other detective's who worked relentlessly with you!

Philippians 1:3-4 (The Passion Translation) My prayers for you are full of praise to God as I give Him thanks for you with great joy! I'm so grateful for our union together in Christ!

Please join me in praying for Jose that He will come to know God's saving grace!