Friday, July 13, 2018

Glimpses of Grace #4

When God shakes you to wake you about wrong thinking, it is a grace from him.

I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but BR (Before Romans), and somehow over the past years, I slid into this faulty middle thinking ground of ignoring the truth about eternal separation from God as the opposite of eternal salvation. 

I mean, doesn't God love everybody and know we're all doing the best we can just to make it on this earth, and won't He cut us some slack because it's really tough being human and He'll understand in the end and we'll all be happy ever after in heaven?

Romans makes it very clear that God is loving and merciful, but that He is also just and holy. God's word makes it very clear that not every one will live happily ever after. It makes very clear that rejection of Christ means condemnation. 

Every one of us is sinful and need saving. 

We all have a very big problem that we cannot solve.

This is so not grey. This is so "you're in" or "you're out." And that's just seems way too harsh. So exclusive. So black and white. 

Is it really that black and white?

There are actually some black and white - some stark opposite examples -  around us all the time.


I was pondering all of this recently, when a scene from the movie, Knight and Day came to mind. 

Completely opposite results were at stake.
     With Tom, she'd make it.
     Without Tom, she wouldn't.

In this world, we are not without precedence for 1 of only 2 choices being present - being a reality - at a time. 

You are either asleep or awake.
You are either male or female.
You are either dead or alive.
You are either physically absent or physically present.
There is light or there is darkness.

So, for God to reveal to us in the Bible that there are only 2 realities that exist beyond life as we know on this earth is not far fetched or unrealistic. It is truth.

Now, this would be a harsh reality if the Bible taught that "you're out with no hope of getting in," but it doesn't teach that. It teaches that we are all out, but God, being rich in mercy, has made a way for us all to be in. 

He made a way for us to be in Christ. To be saved from eternal separation from Himself. 

God made a way by sending Jesus to take the punishment for our sins. God affirmed that Jesus' sacrifice and death was accepted by him when He raised Jesus from the dead 3 days after being crucified. This showed that Jesus was exactly who He said He was and that his death accomplished our salvation and defeated death! We are no longer condemned! He took our sin and gave us His righteousness and now - nothing but ultimate good in store for me - and anyone else who is saved by grace through faith in Christ!

Who does that? 

God does.  

My biggest problem has been eternally solved. 
I am no longer condemned before the holy, just God.

I'm loved! I am forgiven, justified, (being) sanctified and one day, I will be glorified and be with God forever. Nothing that happens to me now is punitive, but only purifying. He has promised there will be suffering on this earth, and I don't relish or look forward to that, but I pray and hope and trust God will give me the grace I need when I need it. 

And for a gazillion million infinties, I will be in Christ, with God. Part of His kingdom come!

That is a polar opposite from what my future could have been.

It's all grace.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8

Why Glimpses of Grace

Glimpses of Grace #2

Glimpses of Grace #3

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Glimpses of Grace #3

Being born in a country where I have unlimited access to a Bible is a grace from God. 

Why me is all I can wonder.

But no matter where a person is born, each soul must decide what they believe about that good book.

I believe the Bible is God's revelation to mankind about Himself and ourselves and everything in between.

I believe the Bible is the word of the living God.

I believe this - not in a blindly accepting way that I did years ago, but in the blood, sweat, and tears of wrestling with questions.

Questions about taking it literally or not
Questions about the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
Questions about gaps and contradictions 
Questions about how it was written down and put together

I've wrestled with questions about the validity and authority of this book called the Bible. But God has answered most of those questions, and where mystery still lingers, I trust Him in and through that mystery. I believe the Bible is the way the triune God chose to tell us about Himself, mankind and His dealings with us throughout time and eternity.

While I've listened to teaching and read articles about the Bible, both pro and con, that discuss and argue about where it came from and how we have what we have today, I could not regurgitate any of it. I just can't keep straight how many fragments of scripture were found where and what year, etc. However, I came away from those times convinced that God did an amazing work bringing those 66 books together like He did.   

Moreover, scholars that I trust and admire and who have studied waaay more than I have, who can regurgitate important historical details, are also convinced the Bible is the book it claims to be. 

And, its words ring true to how life is. It doesn't sugar coat anything. And yet, it is still quite mysterious on many levels. That too, makes sense, because it is trying to describe - using finite, limited words - the infinite, sovereign, creator, all powerful God. 

The words of the Bible speak truth and life to me like no other words.

I can only explain this as a miracle. 

I became a Christian at 9, and from that point on, as a general life trajectory - though not perfectly by any means, I have hungered for God and his word. God did that in me. And since then, God has shown me sin-forgiving, life-giving, life-sustaining, sorrow-comforting, God-enlarging, battling-for-joy and hope-filled truth in the word of God. On my best days, God's word makes my heart soar and strengthens my soul. On my worst days, God's word, at the very least, keeps my head above the quicksand of this life that can so easily drag me down.  All that is such grace. 
I pray that it is slowly but surely translating into loving God more. 
I pray that it is slowly but surely translating into loving my neighbor more.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Some of my favorite Bibles:

Bible given to me by my grandmother, Mama Trudy

LOVED this NT Bible for kids. (and the OT)
Kids played "Library" with it
Example of script and illustration from OT version of above Bible 

Bible given to Luke by his great grandmother the year he was born

My current Bible
Where so many things are underlined, and so many margin notes
Also, where "For my funeral" thoughts are recorded

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Glimpses of Grace #2

On those days when what I believe about God and Jesus and heaven and hell and what He’s said and what He’s done seem almost too fantastic to believe - I go back to one solid fact.

Jesus did not stay dead.

His physical body came out of the grave and people saw him and ate with him and touched him and talked with him. 

No one else has ever done that.

I know he's not physically here now for me to see and eat with and touch and talk to. He went up into the clouds while his disciples looked on and was taken up into heaven. He then sent His Spirit to live in us. I know that sounds fantastic to believe too - but if you have done the hard part of coming alive again after being dead and buried 3 days, to believe an ascension is nothing.

       I’ve buried some people I love. My dad. My mom. My brother. My granddaughter

My dad was the first of those closest to me to die, and his unexpected death was such a sadness. At the risk of sounding a little crazy, during those first days after my dad's death, in that new, deep, and confusing sea of grief, I remember having flickers of desperate hoping - even after he was buried - that maybe, just maybe...he’s not really dead?

But dead and buried is dead and buried. You don’t come back to this earth from that.

But Jesus did not stay dead. He came back to this earth from that. 

I love these lyrics from Andrew Peterson’s song "His Heart Beats" describing Jesus' physical body coming back to life.

"His heart beats, His blood begins to flow
Waking up what was dead a moment ago
And His heart beats, now everything is changed
‘Cause the blood that brought us peace with God
Is racing through His veins
And His heart beats
His heart beats..."
If somebody rises from the dead - and Jesus did - then there is a power in them/surrounding them/about them that is more powerful than anything ever. 

If someone is that powerful and that amazing, I want to know all I can know about them. Why would I not believe everything somebody who rose from the dead said? 

So, on my days when doubts want to dominate, I remind myself of this historical fact. 

       Jesus did not stay dead.

He proved by this one act that he is who he said he is.

I'm staking my life on that.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Glimpses of Grace #1

For weeks now, I've had the desire to write down some thoughts regarding what I believe about God - for myself, for my family, and for the world. 

This desire has been fueled by a couple of things.

First, from September 2017-May 2018, I was studying and teaching the book of Romans.

It has changed me. 

Although I've been a born again believer since I was 9 years old, I feel like I'm just now getting a glimpse of what it means to know the grace of God to me. I want to talk about that glimpse - about that grace.

A story I read days after I purposed to blog about my faith described what I sensed stirring in me. I read about a conversion experience a teenager had while he worked the graveyard shift in a Kraft Cheese factory. He wrote:

     "...what happened that night in the factory was so real that I had to tell someone. I simply couldn't NOT talk about it." (from The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken)

So, my desire to talk is present, but what does that "telling" look like? A Francis Bacon quote about writing untangling thoughts came to mind.

                        "Reading maketh a full man; 
                            conference a ready man; 
                               and writing an exact man."

I have found that thinking/writing, rethinking/rewriting makes me focus/refocus like nothing else. Writing is an effective way for me to untangle and tell my thoughts.

Now, having said that, I enter this God/grace adventure with a bit of a weight, knowing that I don't know everything, that I'm tackling the subject of the ages, that I have no degree but an appropriately labeled BS in Biology, and I'm subjecting myself to the potential criticism of literally a world of people. 

But if I am staking my life and death on some truths about God that affect my soul (and yours) both now and eternally, how can I not want to talk about that? 

It's the question of life, isn't it?

So, for at least the foreseeable future, Lord willing, I'll be here on Thursdays to talk about God and grace, what I believe and why, and the work, joy and struggle it all is most every day.

 I hope you join me.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Our Grand

Our Grand

Our grand small
 Her life large

Her time brief 
Our eyes brimmed

The mom’s pain
The dad’s care

Their arms full
Their girl held

Her heart still
Our hearts broke

The grief great
The Help more

God’s strength here
Our hope sure


Violet Louise Hughes
March 4, 2018 - March 4, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

30 as One - A Poem for 2017

30 as One

A year's gone by, both fast and slow
A milestone for me and my Lou
Others have made it this far, yes, I know
And like them, I'm thankful too.

For this was the year we made 30 as one
As a family - as husband and wife
From that small beginning there was begun
Tales of love and tales of  life.

Tales of toddlers and teens and emerging adult
That turned our world on top of its head.
It's a process in which we've learned to exult
It's a place the good Shepherd has lead.

The downhill, the uphill, the nights of hard rest
Small regret and big joy woven tight
God faithful through all, even the pressed
God giving his comfort and light.

Looking back, we thank and pray we have grown
In faith, in hope, in love.
For next is upon us! There's new grace to be sown
For God's kingdom - here and above.

August 1, 2017
Rocky Mountain National Park

Mary Grace, Elizabeth, Faith, Hannah
Shelley, Lou (married: August 1, 1987)
Luke, David, Alex, Isaak

Blessings to you and yours in 2018!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Looking Back

The Harris family has come through another year by the grace of God. 

The older I get, the more I realize how much grace is given. Just like you, dear reader, lots of good graces have been given (which we take pictures of), and lots of hard graces have been given (which we typically don't take pictures of). It's not that we are trying to paint a rosy picture of our reality. It's just that, in the middle of a hard grace, life is challenging at that moment, and a picture is the last thing on your mind. At those moments, you're thinking/praying:

"Show me how to think, Lord,"
"Show me how to love, Lord."
"Help me not smack this kid upside the head, Lord."
"Help me not hold a grudge, Lord."
"Help me survive this, Lord."
"I'm so mad right"
"I'm so hurt right"

So you can see why, with all that going on, I don't take pictures.

But in the moments of easy graces, you want to capture and share, because joy shared is joy multiplied. 

And it's those moments we share here. God has given us lots of good moments that we smile at and hopefully have grown in. Grown in love for Him and for each other. 

We are blessed.

So here's some highlights from our 2016!

The first 3 months of 2016 = all things Faith, from track meets to...

wedding prep!!! She married her high school sweetheart, Isaak Pearson, March 13!
To gear up for all things wedding, Lou and I dashed away to FL with friends:)
(and a continuing ed medical meeting)

Then---> WEDDING! One of the happiest days of my life. 
The Harris girls 
David, Faith, Luke

A little inclement weather didn't dampen our spirits!

Luke, Mary Grace, Alex, Hannah, Isaak, Faith, Shelley, Lou, Elizabeth, David

In April, we headed to OKC to watch Hannah cross the finish line...that girl ran a marathon!
Alex and Hannah

In May, this crew 

                            watched this guy graduate.
Woopig David
Also in May, Lou and I toured the Big Apple with these two! Super fun.

In June, we Tulsa Toughed it with good friends, Wes and Marla.

And we welcomed David and his college friend, Micah, home from their month abroad.

David, Micah

Summer also brought kamp, tennis, bike rides, and a move from Tulsa to KC for our Hannah and Alex.

Mary Grace

Lou, go-proing it.

In the fall, we began a new thing, as I became a Teaching Leader with Bible Study Fellowship. To say God is stretching me is an understatement, but He is enabling and I'm holding on for dear life. 

Also in the fall, we began the first of many "lasts." Our baby, Mary Grace, is a senior. 

So there's senior pictures:

Mary Grace with doubles partner, MacKenzie
 The honor of being Miss Bolivar for the Walnut Festival:

Super fun day!
Mary Grace was first runner up!

Then, she played the Bird Woman in Mary Poppins

And then, she ran a half marathon. She's kept us hopping this fall!

We finished 2016 with everybody getting to be here on Christmas day.

We, like you, are looking forward to 2017. We don't know what it holds, but we hold on to and trust God for the grace we need just when we need it.

A friend shared this prayer on fb a couple of days ago. I liked it, and thought it meaningful as we begin a new year.

"Forth in thy name, O Lord, I go, my daily labour to pursue;
Thee, only thee, resolved to know, in all I think or speak or do.
The task thy wisdom hath assigned, O let me cheerfully fulfill;
In all my works thy presence find, and prove thy good and perfect will."
-- Charles Wesley

Many blessings to you all.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Ham It Up

My youngest daughter and I love the smash broadway musical, Hamilton. We listen to it, sing it, reference it -- all the time. It's clever, catchy, and educational. I especially resonate with its theme about the brevity of our time on this earth. The writer, Lin-Manuel Miranda, through Hamilton's life and his outlook on life, challenges us to think about what we are doing with the time given to us.

We are all running out of time.

I'm thankful to God for the gifts He gave to Lin-Manuel Miranda. And, I want to thank Lin-Manuel for sharing his gifts with the world.

Unfortunately, we didn't get tickets to see it,
but we stopped by the theater where it happens. 

My Hamilton loving Mary Grace is at camp, and there's nothing better than getting a letter while you're away. Last year when she was there, I sent her a letter written in French (well, Google Translate and I sent her a letter written in French). She was in the thick of studying that beautiful language so it seemed like a fun idea. This year, I didn't want to do the same thing. It took all of 1 second to decide what she was in the thick of this year --> Hamilton. So I decided to write my letter in such a way as to make her smile and remember the fun times we've had listening to Hamilton. Last night, I was definitely in the mood to ham it up. 

If you're not a Hamilton fan, you'll read my letter and probably think it sounds pretty strange. If you are a Hamilton fan, I think you'll smile...just like I know Mary Grace will.


July 19, 2016

My Dearest Mary Grace, 

I thought it was time for a form of communication to rise up. I knew you’d never be satisfied with another email, so I’m sending a letter. I know you’re not an ocean away, but you might as well be, because you’re at camp. But know that I’m glad you are able to take a break, to take a break and sit by the lake. Aren’t you lucky to be alive right now? You're on your own! Awesome! Wow!

So, how is our senior, daughter, child of a doc and a suthn’r doing in the middle of a forgotten spot in Taney CO MO? I know you’re not throwing away your shot at a good time. I bet with it being this hot, though (nothing like summer in the country), you’ve got people asking you to “meet me inside” where it’s air conditioned.

Have you had a chance to really look around? Just look at where you are! Are you getting opportunities to play a fun game? I hope you’re not suffering through one where no one really knows how the game is played. That’s the worst. I do know that if you’re playing the game of tennis, you’ll blow them all away.

We’ve been super busy at home and you’re probably asking yourself, “What’d I miss?” So, I’m gonna be a lamb, darlin’, and tell ya. Unless you’re willing to wait for it? No? Well, all I can say is history is happening in BoMO. Dad’s busy with work, work! Work, work! He’s really a mind at work. And I’m always looking for a mind at work, so we’re a perfect pair. I’ve had my share of stuff to catch up on too, so I’m definitely busy, but I have had my moments when I’ve felt like I’m in the eye of a hurricane -there is quiet for a moment. I could even say it’s been quiet uptown (since we live on the north side of Bolivar, you could say we live uptown). I’ve spent hours in the garden, so there aren’t so many weeds anymore. For a while there I was feeling pretty helpless. I was down for the count and drownin’ in em. Did you know weeds are like rumors? Rumors only grow. And so do weeds. Now we both know what we know.

We had company the other night, and dad left everything up to me. I arranged the meeting. I arranged the menu, the venue, the seating. We had steak and the fixings. Hadn’t had that in a while. For dessert, we had ice cream and my homemade hot fudge. You know my hot fudge. It's so good. I don’t know how to say no to it! I wanna say no to it. But I can't. Ugh! (and Yum!)

Well, I gotta go. Gotta get the jobs done. I hope you get a chance to pick up a pen and start writing. You know we made  an arrangement when you went away. You don’t have to write like you’re running out of time, but at least one letter would be great:)

I have the honor to be
Your loving mother,
S dot Harris

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Two Fathers

Two Fathers

Of fathers, I have known a few,
But there are none I've known like Hugh and Lou.
If fathers all were in a queue,
I guarantee I'd pick these two.

My father, Hugh, he held me small,
He picked me up when I would fall,
And comfort me -  his "baby doll."
He quickly came when I would call.

He was a man who loved and led,
Who kept his family warm and fed,
The man who loved me first and said,
"I'll walk you down an aisle to wed."

He did just that many years ago.
I took his arm and we marched slow.
My father leading me aglow,
And giving me to one I'd know.

My husband, Lou, he took my hand,
And in a church, we two did stand,
We gave each other a small gold band.
And started the journey to our promised land.

God gave us littles to love and raise,
And for their father, I thank and praise,
For Lou is sure and steady all days,
And loves forever and always.

He gives and gives without end,
He's mine and the kids' truest friend,
To our every need he does attend,
What more could be said? What more could be penned?

Two fathers, so different and yet so the same,
Two men, each, who gave me their name,
Two men, each, I am ready to claim,
Two fathers, their worth, I'll forever exclaim!

August 1, 1987
First Methodist Church
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Mary Grace
David, Faith
Hannah, Lou, Luke

Chalk drawing I asked Rachel Casey Hamaan to draw when she was still in high school
It is one of my treasures

Friday, April 22, 2016

The Half of It

Tomorrow, I was supposed to be heading to OKC to participate in a half marathon. 

I'm still going to OKC - but not to participate. I'm going to cheer on our Hannah, who has been training like a crazy woman in preparation for her first marathon on Sunday morning. I could not be more excited for her or more proud of her. She's the one who actually suggested I do the 1/2 while she did the whole. 

"Lots of women your age do it, Mom!"

I'd never seriously considered doing such a thing, as I loathe running, but I had heard that there were programs out there where you walk/jog those 13.1 miles. I recruited a friend to train with me, and we began a 12 week walk/jog (3 minute walk - 1 minute jog) program that surprisingly, we both really enjoyed!

Things were going great until the beginning of week 4, when I noticed a muscle in my backside telling me he didn't love all this concentrated, consistent activity that I'd been doing. He not only screamed at me when I was training, he started aching all the time whether or not I was training. But, when the schedule said to do a little 6 mile walk/jog on February 27, I decided to push through and take my aching body out for the workout. I figured I'd be hurting if I trained or didn't train...might as well train.

Bad decision. 

The Reader's Digest condensed version of that fateful day went like this:

--I put in those 6 miles...was uncomfortable the whole time, but managed to go 6 miles in 1:13:10 for a 12:10 pace.
--Rode in the car immediately afterwards for about an hour.
--When I tried to get out of the car after that ride, I couldn't bear weight on my right leg without serious pain.
--PT friend happened to be around and...
--Diagnosed me with a piriformis problem.
--Ridiculous amount of difficulty walking for next few days.
--Advised to stop training. 
--Was ok with that because I was hurting - a lot.
--Eventually pain free one month after injury.
--Now that I wasn't hurting, I wanted to train again.
--Too late
--Can't participate.

And today, I'm confessing I'm still a little bummed, but know that in God's good care and provision, this is OK. He's got me. He's got this. And, I want to honor Him in it.

And, I'm gonna honor Him by cheering my head off for my marathon running girl!

Go Hannah!

And because I'm weird like this, I wrote a little poem. (I wrote most of it soon after Feb 27, but just now completing)


Ode to the Piriformis

The schedule said, "Today - 6 miles!"
And determined - off I went
Sure, my backside whined and ached
But who knew exactly what that meant.

I finished strong. The pace? 12’2”
Not bad for this ol gal!
Not bad until I tried to walk
The piriformis? Not my pal.

My leg, it screamed, “Don’t stand on me!
You’ve done it now, yes sir.”
The PT guy he did agree
And the rest is just a blur.

That piriformis right there, right now,
Was angry as can be. 
It’s gone on strike and said, “No way
 A half with me.”

To say I’m bummed is half as weak 
As this girl really feels.
But that's ok, it's not that bleak
I'll cheer Hannah on with squeals. 

I’m thankful, though, it’s only this -
A muscle, mad and sore
It’s fixable with lots of time 
And stretches on the floor.

Post a 5 mile walk/jog - the good ol' days;)