Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Date to Remember

I have a propensity to remember dates.  Birthdays.  Anniversary days.  Adoption days.  Important ones and insignifant ones.  Special days.  Happy Days.  Sad Days.  The obvious and the obscure.  I remember specific dates and the specific events that their tied to.  For example, my four children are all adopted; and with that, for each child, is attached numerous special days.  There's the obvious:  their birthdays.  But there's also this:  the day we met each of them; the day they came into our home and joined our family; the day their adoption became official.  I remember all four dates for each child.  Oh okay, I'll go ahead and prove it in the order that I listed those occasions above: 

Brandon:  1/25/2000; 5/21/2004; 6/1/2004; 10/8/2004
Bradley:  6/26/2001; 5/21/2004; 6/1/2004; 10/8/2005
Brenna:  1/21/2004; 4/21/2004; 4/21/2004; 7/1/2005
Bethany:  8/11/2005; 6/16/2006; 5/11/2007; 11/27/2007

August is a month full of important dates in my family that I remember well.  There's birthdays; Bethany (8/11), my twins Jonathan & Jenny (8/15); my oldest sister Patti (8/23); and my mom (8/28).  There's other dates I remember:  the day my twins passed away (8/16); and the day we buried them (8/19). 
But without a doubt there's two very important dates that are maybe the most important dates of any days that I remember from any month.  That first day is August 22, 1976.  That's 37 years ago today.  On that Sunday morning (probably about lunch time) at Terrace Hills Baptist Church in Longview, Texas, I trusted Jesus Christ to be my personal Savior and Lord.  Bro. James Dawson shared the Gospel in Children's Church and asked if anyone wanted to make the decision to become a Christian.  I raised my hand along with two or three other friends; and we stepped across the hall, where Bro. James took the Bible and shared with us God's plan for our salvation through Jesus - that we were sinners, and that Jesus died so that our sins could be forgiven and we could have a relationship with God.  And that if we trusted him by faith, he would come into our life forever.  I did, and Jesus kept His promise.  He saved me and transformed my life that day 37 years ago.  Wow!  One week later on August 29, 1976, I was baptized; making my profession of faith in Jesus public through believer's baptism. 
Ironically, when Bro. James Dawson passed away in 2004, it was in August.  August 2 if I remember correctly.  How ironic that in the same month that I became a follower of Jesus Christ, the man that was instrumental in helping lead me to salvation received the fulfillment of his eternal life - a forever home in heaven with Jesus Christ. 
Thank you God for your free gift of salvation that comes by grace alone through personal faith alone in Christ Jesus alone for whoever will call upon your name.  Thank you for Your faithful servant, James Dawson, who loved me enough, to tell me the truth about my need for Jesus as my Savior.  Thank you for using him to lead me to trust Jesus.  Thank you that because of this day, August 22, I will live forever in heaven; and oh, what a day it will be when that day becomes a reality.  Like August 22, 1976, it will be a date to remember.   

Sunday, August 18, 2013

11 years of Lessons Learned

This past Thursday I was in Longview, my home town, visiting in-laws and finishing up my vacation time.  There was also another reason for my two day visit to my hometown; and these are the words I wrote last Thursday, August 15, as I sat at Chick-Fil-A:

As I am writing today, it is August 15.  It’s a day that brings a smile to my face and an ache to my heart.  It’s a day that will impact me for the rest of my life.  It’s beautiful and painful.  It’s a celebration and a dirge.  It’s bittersweet. My first two children, Jonathan and Jenny, were born on this day, eleven years ago today.  It’s their birthday.  A day of great joy and great sadness all wrapped up into one.  It’s my own personal September 11, a day filled with incredible emotion, powerful memories, and intense grief.  I will go to their graveside side today and remember.  I will remember their brief life.  I will weep and struggle and hurt.  And I will thank God for this unwanted annual tradition.  But it’s necessary.  God uses this day each year to help me remember some invaluable truths as a result of this path He has allowed me to walk, some that I wouldn’t have learned or known otherwise, like these:
v Life is short. Don’t take it for granted. Tomorrow is no guarantee. (James 4:14)    
v Children are a gift from God.  Don’t take them for granted.  Love and cherish them.  Enjoy and give grace to them.  (Psalm 127:3-5)    
v God does not operate in the realm of fairness but faithfulness. (2 Timothy 2:13; 2 Corinthians 5:7) 
v Time does not heal all wounds.  God heals in His time.  And complete healing will not be a reality until we get to heaven.  (Revelation 21:4-5)      
v Today is God’s gift to you.  Make it count.  Make every day count.  You’re not promised tomorrow.  (Psalm 90:12; Psalm 139:16) 
v Remember where God has brought you from and what He’s brought you through. And as you do, give thanks!  (Joshua 4:19-24; 1 Thessalonians 5:18)     
v I am not in control.  God is.  And because He is, I can trust Him.  And I will choose to do so today.  (Psalm 115:3; Proverbs 16:9; Proverbs 3:5-6)
v God alone is enough.  (2 Corinthians 12:7-10; Psalm 73:21-28)
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works (Psalm 73:28).

The above list of lessons learned is not exhaustive.  God continues to teach me things about Himself each day.  Psalm 73:21-28 was a powerful passage of Scripture that God used throughout the loss of my twins to remind me that He is enough, no matter what.  And you know what, He is!  
Tomorrow will be the anniversary of the day I buried Jonathan and Jenny.  I remember that day like it was yesterday.  I'm so thankful that, despite the pain and emotion and struggle that it emotes, I know where they are.  They are not in the ground.  They are not in the grave.  That is just a place I can go to grieve and remember.  I know their home is heaven.  I know they are there because of Jesus.  And I know with certain assurance that, because of Jesus, I will see them again.  Revelation 21:5 says that Jesus will make all things new.  There'll be no more pain or sorrow or sadness or sickness or disease, and thank God, no more death.  We will be brand new.  New lives.  New bodies.  A perfect place - heaven.  God's Home.  My Home.  And the home of my twins, Jonathan and Jenny.  I know they are waiting; and I know they've already been made new.  And I can't wait for that sweet reunion one day soon.    
Thank you God, for reminding me that you are ever, and forever, faithful.  I love you.