When the Apology Never Comes

sorryIf you know the story of Jacob and Esau, you know of the deception that tore these brothers apart for many years. In fact, Esau swore to kill Jacob because of what he had done. Afraid, their mother, Rebekah, told Jacob what his brother planned and sent him away.

When the time came for them to meet again, Jacob feared for his life and family (understandably so). In his distress, Jacob divided those with him into groups, hoping that if Esau attacked one, the others could escape. His worry proved unnecessary.

Interestingly, when the brothers finally reunited, no harsh words passed between them. They didn’t throw punches or yell. The Bible says that Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; Esau threw his arms around Jacob’s neck and kissed him. They wept.

This story shows a perfect example of a relationship destroyed by betrayal that is not discussed or resolved for months or even years. Those involved no longer speak or they do but skirt around the damaging issue. Wounds fester because no one says, “I’m sorry,” words one longs to hear but that may or may not ever come.

I wonder what went through Esau’s mind (besides murder) all of that time after Jacob received their father’s blessing. Did he ever ask questions like…

  • What did I do to deserve this?
  • Why did my brother have to do this?
  • Will my brother ever visit? (In this day, we would say call, email, or text 😉 )
  • I know what he did was wrong. Shouldn’t he know it by now? And APOLOGIZE?!?!?

Have you ever asked such questions? Recently, I did.

It didn’t involve a sibling, but something happened between me and another person. Because so much time had passed, I thought I was fine. That is, until I saw this person and thought, “Where’s my apology and my conversation?!”

Yep, that year-overdue apology from someone who claimed to be my friend or rather wanted to be. This person shut me out and I felt like everything was my fault. Yet, they ended the relationship by calling me a name.

So after all this time, I expected an apology. I deserved it. Even though, in my mind I thought I got along just fine, I still waited, still felt irritated.

I asked the questions Esau might have asked:

  • What did I do to deserve this?
  • Why did they have to do this to me?
  • Will they ever call to admit they were wrong?
  • I know what they did was wrong. Shouldn’t they know it by now? And APOLOGIZE?!?!?

On and on I went. After all this time, guess what?

This little lady has yet to receive the apology she feels she deserves. Apparently, the other person disagrees with my opinion. 🙂 Sometimes, we recognize when we have done others wrong and fully admit it, but other times we may not know it or just don’t want to admit it.

But I am no longer waiting on an apology, and it’s ok if I never receive it.

I have forgiven them. I have forgiven myself too. I beat myself up for a long time for allowing this person to be in life (yep, I so took it there!) and condemned myself to no end on how I should have recognized the fakery.

It’s odd because in my situation, I never expected the kind of reconciliation that Jacob and Esau had, but I honestly wanted an acknowledgment because I felt I had been wronged. We all crave that. When we feel wronged, it’s OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! But…

When I look back over my life, I can think times when I wronged others and didn’t apologize. In some instances, I may never know I did wrong.

Could there be someone out there now, waiting for an apology from Trina?

Beloved, could there be someone possibly expecting an apology from you?

This event reminded me that some situations won’t end with a kiss and embrace, but we always have a choice.

We can either live for the apology, or we can live on the freedom that forgiveness, truly gives.

So beloved, when the apology never comes … WHATCHA GONNA DO?

Confronting in Order to Heal

heart healPsalm 34:17-20 (NIV)

 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.  The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

Psalm 31:5 (NIV)

Into your hands I commit my spirit, redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth.

 

Last week, it finally dawned on me that I was in pain.

My left ankle/foot got my attention and it got it solely. For weeks, I had walked around on what turned out to be a very bad sprain that will now require a new boot. The pain reached such a level that tears ran and I reluctantly decided that the time had arrived to see a certified physician.

Since the initial incident which led to the sprain, I had managed to bandage up my ankle, soak it in Epsom salt, and walk around … with a limp of course. All this time, I NEVER ONCE seriously considered going to have it examined because I genuinely thought, “It will get better.”

#selah

Now, a few of my friends reading this may not find this at all surprising, considering the fact that a few years ago, while playing paint ball, I actually sprained this exact same ankle, not realizing that I had done so. Again, I knew I was in pain, but didn’t go to the doctor then either. The next day, I saw my ankle swell and decided to be Nurse Katrina. I nursed own my foot back to health. It took a while, but it eventually did get better.

But, in this case – it didn’t get better. In fact, I have made my healing process take longer than it should have and have risked doing serious damage to my left ankle/foot by continuing to hobble on it.

Now that I am writing this blog, I have publicly shared a couple of things with you.

  1. My strength to endure pain.
  2. My insanity to endure pain (and unnecessarily might I add).

I never imagined God would give me a blog from a boot, but because He is who He is — He has. God used this situation to show me that I have a tendency to either make light of my own pain (play it down, it’s not a big deal, say “I’m fine”, etc.) or just downright ignore it until I have no choice but to confront it. I can be so sympathetic towards others, but for me — there is no sympathy.

Honestly, I have just started to figure out some reasons as to why this is so.

Can any of you relate to this?

If I look over my life, and this situation says a lot by itself, I can think of other situations where I’ve had the same mentality of “Oh, it’s fine” — when it ain’t!

Maybe it’s because in order to heal from something, you have to confront it.

And some stuff, I just didn’t want to confront!

Do you ever have days where it’s just like, “I don’t want to deal with that today. So, I won’t.” Then, you move throughout your day, walk on a sprained ankle, push down your emotions, and simply decide to keep on moving.

Never confronting it.

Never admitting anything.

Never admitting the truth.

Never healing.

#selah

I love how the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and He saves us who are crushed in spirit. I can think of some situations right now that have crushed my spirit over the last few years, and months for that matter, yet I have walked around “self-medicating” with my spiritual Epsom salt, not confronting the issues, until this week.

I had to have that honest conversation with God about how I felt, what went wrong or right in each situation, where was He, why I didn’t want to do this or that, and even why I was afraid to do some things. Those things were hard to say to God, but I said them.

I am working on my healing.

What about you?

The next few days, just take a moment and reflect on some afflictions (hurts, issues, disappointments, betrayals, etc.) that you haven’t confronted. Confronting doesn’t always mean talking to someone else face to face, although that has its place and the way in which it is handled also has it place.

What I am referring to in this case is simply having the courage to admit everything is not ok when it comes to ____________ (fill in the blank), and having an honest dialogue with God.

Beloved, have the courage and strength to admit that all is not well with a certain situation or a matter of your heart.

Have the courage to take the issue to God. He’s the doctor you need.

He can heal the sick.

He can heal the brokenhearted.

Beloved, let Him heal you.

Don’t Raise My Hopes, My Lord

hope2Have you ever had your heart broken? Have you ever felt let down and hopeless? I can recall several times where fear and distrust gripped my heart so tight that I thought I would die. I lost hope of being able to try again or trust again. I didn’t want to put myself in a position that could lead to more hardships, so I ran away to protect myself. As much as I wanted something, I couldn’t and wouldn’t allow myself to “go there.” It hurt too much.

I felt like the lady in 2 Kings 4:8-37. It’s the story of the Shunammite woman’s son being restored to life and it is definitely one of my favorites in the Bible. Elisha, the prophet, went to Shumen where a well-to-do woman lived. Whenever Elisha passed the area, he stopped by her place to eat. He eventually wanted to know what could be done for her because she had been so kind. When asked, “What can be done for you?” she replied, “I have a home among my own people.”

In other words, “I don’t want anything nor I do I feel I need anything.” So, Elisha asked about the situation again, almost as if ignoring her. Elisha knew that something deeper lay beneath the surface. He detected a desire within her. Despite her words, he saw straight through her and said:

“About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.”

What did she reply when Elisha said this? “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!”

Mislead your servant? Why wasn’t she excited to hear that news? The woman may have been frightened or shocked but why does she feel mislead? Or lied to? What happened?”

Maybe she thought she was too old to have children. Maybe she felt like God had let her down in the past. Maybe she had tried before to have children and when it didn’t work she had given up. Maybe someone had prophesied to her years before about her having children and it didn’t happen. She lost her hope. Then when Elisha mentioned the son she responded in shock and fear because she didn’t want to be mislead again.

Beloved — does that sound familiar to you? Is there something in your heart that hurts and you don’t want it mentioned? What is that area where you don’t want to be mislead?

When someone brings up your deepest need or desire, do you shrug it off with a flat, “I have a home with my own people. I’m fine.” Are you the Shunammite woman? What has happened to your hope? The thought of the “thing” or someone mentioning “the thing” makes you cringe because you just don’t want to hear about it anymore!

Sometimes, we can keep doing things over and over because it appears we never get tired of trying. However, there comes a day when the trying just becomes just that… trying. We feel mislead and let down. We don’t have hope anymore. We don’t see the end result like we used to see it.

The rest of this story is quite interesting. The Shunammite woman ends up having the son that was prophesied only to find that later he would become ill and die.

Wait a minute?

Didn’t she first not want the son supposedly, and then she has him only for him to die? Has that ever happened to you? You admit your desire, surrender, and then it fails? You fought the desire because of disappointment and then after you manage to get back up again and be happy, it comes, and then bam … it dies. That “thing” dies in your arms.

I wonder if that’s what was going through the Shunammite woman’s mind at this time? Perhaps it was also everything that led up to the moment where Elisha first told her she was going to have a son. Now, she is enduring this pain.

Trust and the ability to not give up are powerful. Even though she saw her son was dead, the Shunammite woman still went to see the man of God (Elisha), and the situation completely turned around. Her son was brought back to life! The situation that was once dead, now lived.

I love this story because it is an honest one of past pain, current denial of that pain, and loss of hope for the future. Sometimes hurts can go so deep that it appears to take the very breath out of us if we allow it. It damages us and if it keeps happening enough times or hits hard enough, it can kill your hope. It will kill your faith. It will kill your trust.

Beloved, let this story remind you to not give up hope and not allow what you have seen or felt to discourage you from seeing a beautiful end result in your life.

Yes, Our Lord — RAISE OUR HOPES.

Caitlin’s Story

babyJanuary 31, 2014 didn’t fit the norm. I had switched my day off with a co-worker and dragged my feet toward the doctor’s office to figure out why hadn’t felt up to par as of late. As I pulled into the parking lot, I tried my hardest to prepare for what lay ahead. Though I only waited in the lobby a few minutes, they seemed like an eternity. When my turn arrived to head toward the examination room, I fought to maintain my composure even as it quickly dwindled away. I felt like a lifeless shell going through the motions.

After completing the test, the young lady looked confused and said we needed to wait another minute, as something didn’t seem right. I suspected the outcome, but wasn’t fully prepared to hear it.

“Congratulations, Miss Hood, you are pregnant.”

Anyone who knows me can attest that I want nothing more in this world than to be a wife and mother. Every emotion imaginable whirled inside me at once. I was a happy, emotional, nervous wreck.

As I attempted to pull myself together to safely make it home, the reality started to sink in. I was going to have a baby. Like any newly expecting mother, I started looking up everything I could related to babies, and my excitement grew with time. I also began to accept the fact that it didn’t go as planned or the way I had been raised. But I would take the bull by the horns and forge a future for myself — for us.

During this time, I craved chips all the time and couldn’t go a day without Raising Cane chicken (yes, I know what you are probably thinking), but I couldn’t rid myself of those cravings. I felt fat and gross every day but was okay with it because I knew that soon I would hold my new baby, or so I thought.

Not knowing what to expect while expecting, I Googled everything and asked my sister and best friend if things progressed normally. But nothing prepared me for what would come. I remember Wednesday, February 19, 2014 as if it happened yesterday. A few hours remained in my work shift, but something didn’t feel right, so I called the nurse and she told me to go to the hospital immediately. I was a wreck. I hadn’t planned for my parents to find out this way. I hadn’t even gone for my first ultrasound. As we drove to the hospital, I tried to convince myself that it couldn’t possibly be happening to me. That day proved to be the longest, most emotionally and physically draining day I’ve ever experienced.

The nurses ran tests and did ultrasounds but couldn’t tell me anything. Was I not as far along as I initially thought? Or had I just lost my baby girl? (Though still too early to know the gender, my gut told me I carried a girl.) But how could they not know for sure what was wrong with my baby?

I went to a specialist they recommended for blood work, and yet again, no one could give me answers. The days that followed seemed like an eternity as they passed with no word from the doctors. Then, while on my way to dinner with my boyfriend, I received the dreaded call.

“Miss Hood, I’m so sorry for your loss.”

Someone might as well have sucked the life right out of me. The effect proved no different. Why was this happening to me?

At times, I still fight anger and sadness, but I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my day will come. Someday I will become a wife and mother, and experience that unconditional love. I never had the chance to feel her kick, but one day I will hold her in my arms and count her fingers and toes. I long for that moment, but for now God isn’t done with me here. I will always carry that pain, but I also hold the hope of a future. So until then, Baby Girl, Mommy loves you much and yearns to wrap you in her arms.

Guest post by Caitlin Hood.

God Won’t Mind a Little Compromise

compromise2Involved in a relationship I knew God didn’t approve of, I realized that as I grew closer to Christ that relationship would come to an end. One of the reasons (and it should have been the main one) was in the drastically different views he and I held of sex. My boyfriend at the time said it was ok for us have sex because we intended to eventually marry. I gave in to his arguments partly out of fear of losing him and partly because I didn’t know how to vocalize my reasons for wanting so say, “no.”

So, one day, I tried. I wanted to discuss spiritual reasons for waiting until marriage to have sex. We could address it from Christ’s perspective since my boyfriend and I were both devout Christians, right? We would pull out our Bibles and have this awesome experience with God that would deeply convict us to purity. However, to my sorrow, by the end of our conversation my boyfriend hadn’t changed his mind. While I believed more than ever that we shouldn’t have sex at all in any way, shape, or form until marriage, this supposedly Christian man (well, he knew scriptures and sang in a Christian group, etc.) told me it was ok. If he was the man I was meant to marry and God spoke to him, then it had to be ok? Right?

WRONG.

As I continued to grow in my relationship with God, my boyfriend’s behavior annoyed me more. Although he told me how wonderful his church was, he didn’t attend regularly. Our behavior didn’t seem to bother him even a bit though I confidently knew that his church didn’t teach that sex outside of marriage was okay. So, how could this be?

When I questioned him further, my boyfriend insisted that if I became all righteous about sex being a sin and wanted to stop sleeping with him, then I also needed to be as adamant about not lying, cheating, etc. According to him, I needed to put all my sins on the same page and not make having sex outside of marriage the biggest issue. That comment confused me because I knew I was not perfect, but it sounded more like a manipulative way to get me to continue having sex with him. It made me feel condemned because I knew I wasn’t as righteous as I wanted to be and felt like he was right. If I would never be able to stop doing all that I want to stop doing, then I might as well keep doing what I am doing.

In other words,“If I can’t stop from sinning in other areas, no need in condemning him of his mistakes or his beliefs about sex. It’s not like I conquered all of my devils. So, maybe we can still do it?”

WRONG.

Bottom line beloved:

God ALWAYS minds a little (or any) compromise. In this case, it’s either sex within marriage or sex outside of marriage. There is no justifying “sex almost married.”

Which of these choices do you believe God approves of?

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, you are a healer of the mind, body and soul. You can heal my hurts of my past. I thank you Lord. Show me where I have been fearful and passive. God, help me to not overlook you when you are warning me. Help me to not pick others counsel over yours. Lord, tell me when and how I should  take a stand for righteousness and purity. Show me my worth and give me the strength to be who you want me to be. God, show me your will for sex. You do not condemn, but forgive. Thank you for your forgiveness.

The Ordinary Way vs. The Result of a Promise

PromiseA counterfeit imitates something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud.

It doesn’t get much plainer than that.

Have you welcomed the counterfeit? Let in the fake because of frustration, impatience, or discouragement?

Sarai, in the Bible, knows a lot about this subject. She could tell you about lacking, wanting, takihttp://flourishministriesinc.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpng matters into her own hands, and trying to be God. She could tell you how imitations can cause big trouble. She is the perfect example of what not to do while waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Abram and Sarai had no children. One day, she got a bright idea. She told Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her” (Gen. 16:2).

What? Hurt and wounded, Sarai grew impatient. She desperately wanted to give Abram a son. Can you believe she told Abram to sleep with Hagar? Well, guess what? He did, and Hagar eventually conceived. Abram named his son Ishmael.

Later, when the Lord visited Abram, he renamed the couple Abraham and Sarah.

The Lord also said, “I will bless her (Sarah) and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of people’s will come from her”  (Gen 17:16).

However, this seemed unbelievable to Sarah — a woman of 90 years of age.

Then God said, “Yes, your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac” (Gen. 17:19). Sarah laughed at the thought, but the Bible says, “Is there anything too hard for the Lord?” (Gen 18:14).

The story goes on to show God’s graciousness toward her, and the Lord did for Sarah what He had promised. She became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age. Abraham called him Isaac. Through Isaac, God established an everlasting covenant.

Isaac was the promised one; not Ishmael. Ishmael was the counterfeit.

Beloved, what has your counterfeit been? A business opportunity? A relationship?

Maybe it looked like the right opportunity at the time, but like Sarai you fell into the temptation of “helping” God along. How did you feel when you discovered your mistake?

Let us all learn from Sarah.

Don’t manipulate situations and try to take control. Don’t allow your hurt to drive you to decisions God would not be pleased with. Don’t allow the loss of hope to lead you to do crazy things when all you only need to wait on the promise. Don’t allow your pain to take you to the pit. It won’t produce anything valuable. 

Galatians 4 says this:

“For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave was born in the ordinary way, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise …”

Which one would you prefer? Reader, I know it’s hard to wait. However, let me encourage you as I encourage myself…

Do not do things the ordinary way by taking matters into your own hands. Instead, wait for the one born by the power of the Spirit!

I heard a pastor say one time that those who have to wait the longest have the greatest faith. It hurts when you’ve had to wait, be last, and watch others give birth while your “spiritual child” is not conceived, or worse, dies. However, God redeems. He gives life. You have had the faith to stand while others gave up. You smiled when others have cried and rejoiced in the midst of your own tears, and GOD HAS NOT FORGOTTEN YOUR COMMITMENT TO HIM.

I pray that every one of us can wait for the Promised One and not fall victim to the counterfeit. Let us have grace and patience to wait for the real thing(s). The God we serve is not the author of confusion! He is the great I AM. He gave Sarah a child in her old age.

Indeed, there is nothing too hard for Him!

What “child” would you like to birth this year?

Finish the Race, Complete the Task

run the race          Scripture Reference: Acts 20: 13-36
Paul, also known as Saul, lived a colorful life up until his conversion. Many remember him as the man who persecuted Christians before devoting himself to serving the Messiah wholeheartedly. In spite of all, Paul had a destiny to fulfill.

During his third missionary trip, he stayed a few days in Miletus. While there, he sent for the elders of the church in Ephesus. Paul had closely labored with these men, and anticipating that he would not see them again, he wanted to speak to them one last time. He had to make his farewell speech as he prepared to go to the next stage in his life.
In Acts 20: 22-24, Paul says:

“And now, compelled by the Spirit, … the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me.  However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace.

Consider Paul’s words about finishing the race and your own destiny.

  • How would you know you were any closer to your destiny?
  • Like Paul, have you finished the race and completed the task?

First, let’s define a race.

  • A race is a contest of speed; any contest or competition; urgent need, responsibility, effort, etc., as when time is short or a solution is imperative. Onward movement.

Therefore, when it comes to your future, you’re not just talking about pursuing something in order to obtain it; you’re talking about going after it — and quickly. When a deadline, goal, or event approaches, it takes on a different feel and look. You see it through different eyes. So, let’s consider the situations below and see if you find yourself in any or all of them.

7 CHARACTERISTICS OF A TRANSITION INTO DESTINY

  1. The Longer it Takes to Transition, the More Impossible it Seems. Remember Hannah? She wanted a baby desperately. I wonder if she ever had a moment of wanting to lose hope or give up. What about you? This is the stage of “Why is it taking so long?”
  2. While Waiting on the Next Assignment, You Serve with Great Humility and Tears. You believe something new heads your way and you anticipate the new start with eager excitement. However, you have yet to be released from your current position. You feel caught between rebellion and obedience, and this emotional struggle can lead to a sense of going through the motions. You keep serving through the tears, knowing the next assignment lies around the corner. Despite knowing the purpose of being where you are, you also can’t wait for that purpose to end so you can move on.
  3. Transitions for the Future Require “Now Actions” and Faith for the Unknown. Things can reach a place where even though you are still in a “now” situation, you have to start preparing for the “later.” That may involve setting time and money aside, having new experiences, taking risks, taking new assignments, developing new relationships, etc.
  4. Transitions Require that You be Weaned. (Emotionally, Spiritually, etc.) Here, you may start to sense withdrawal from a situation. YOU ARE NO LONGER THE SAME PERSON. When the time to move on arrives, changes within begin to happen. You must be prepared to let it go. We may need someone else to fill our shoes in a position or take over a responsibility so we can focus on other things, but we won’t let them because we are afraid of what we might lose.
  5.  Your Desires Will Have to be Laid Down for a Greater Purpose. Reminder. It’s not all about you — it’s about God. Whether in a now or later situation, your destiny will supply your needs and those of others. Sometimes we can’t move on when we want to because we have to complete the task at hand. It can be frustrating, but know that you serve a greater purpose. Remember, YOUR LIFE SHOULD TESTIFY OF THE GOSPEL OF GOD’S GRACE.
  6. Transitions Require that You Finish the Task at Hand Before Moving On. Are things in place for me to leave? Is the house in order? How is my attitude regarding this task? Am I complaining? Have you finished those projects? Have you trained people to fill the position you vacate?
  7.  Transitions Require a “Farewell” to Your Old Assignment and a “Hello” to Your New One. A farewell implies a goodbye and maybe a ceremony to show the transition of one phase to another. You will know when the time to say “goodbye” to your now and “hello” to your later arrives.

Paul says in 2 Timothy, that he indeed finished the race.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 New International Version (NIV)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing

Paul finished — but he is not alone in attaining the reward, so will others.

He completed the task — finished the race.

There was much in store for him as a result of it.

What lies in store for you once you finish your race and complete the task?

 

God’s Hands, Heart, Eyes, Voice and Feet

“It’s so amazing to be loved. I’ll follow you to the moon and the stars above.”

3The words to this song came to mind as a man I interviewed yesterday walked in today for a second one with the client/company he would work for. He exuded confidence, spoke well, and although he had faced numerous obstacles to reach his interview the day before, he called to keep me informed of his status. He was determined to make it, so I kept changing my calendar to accommodate his late arrival.

Why would the words of Luther Vandross’ song “So Amazing” come to mind, you ask? Well, I believe it has all to do with the closet prayer this morning. I asked for God’s heart, eyes and words.

He let me see past the man’s repeat wardrobe and where he lived. God nudged me to ask this man’s story. After interview, I listened as he shared about his dreams for his family and future. I hired him, and so did the company. Outer appearance didn’t hold this man back because God said, “YES.”

God madly loves and pursues of each of us. We have the responsibility to respond as stated in Revelation 3:20. “Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and have dinner with him, and he with Me.”

Heavenly Father, thank you for all you give me and allow me to give to others. But more importantly, thank you for living in me and letting me be your arms, voice, eyes and heart. Amen.

Starlet

“Do it scared” Part II

funeralLast week’s post ended with my visit to the bedside of a friend’s sick brother.

Shortly after the encounter, my friend called crying. Her brother had passed. She said her family wanted me to perform the funeral service. What? Huh? I told her I would definitely ‘be’ at the funeral. She said, “My mom wants you to officiate.” Wow. I said “OK” but got off the phone in shock.

Officiate? What does that look like and how do pastors prepare? Don’t you have to know the person in order to give a eulogy? I couldn’t share any funny stories or anything about him. I called my brother who is a pastor. He let me talk about fears and excuses, and he gave me guidance, assurance and scriptures for the ashes to ashes, dust to dust part of a funeral. He listened, I calmed down and he said I would be just fine. I prayed, sweated and knew Jesus had to be lifted up.

The day of the funeral dawned cold. I packed toys and books for my son and off to the mortuary we went. Yes, my stomach churned as we arrived. Walking in the door, I heard “There she is; we can start.” Secretly, I had hoped that in arriving a few minutes late I would find someone else officiating, like the funeral home people. Man, I love God! He will have you follow through with your assignment. I settled Brandon in a pew with his things to occupy himself. I had note cards to help me. Showtime.

Everyone came in and took their seats. The family sat behind a curtain to my right. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach as I set aside my note cards, looked straight into the people’s eyes and spoke from my heart. Even now, I am transported back to that room. I shared about my time with their loved one and my confidence that he stood in Heaven, reminding them that they too could join him one day if they choose to follow the Savior, and they didn’t need to wait till they their deathbeds to decide.

At the end, a few people came up and said good job. Thank God that part of the assignment was finished. We all rode to the cemetery, I said a short prayer at the graveside and dismissed the people. The family of my friend’s brother was pleased with the service. Wow, the things I have lived through. God is so good.

What is God calling you to do? Go out and do it, even if it scares you.

Starlet