Homosexuality and God’s Word

When God puts something on my heart, He is relentless. It is on my mind until I respond to His nudge. He works that way. How about you?

A friend responded on my Facebook status regarding homosexuality and she said, “A person who accepts homosexuality is not a true christian.” I have to admit that it offended me because I truly love the Lord and He has been my strength during very hard times and in miraculous ways. But my testimony is another story. As offensive as her remark was I am sick in my heart when my brothers and sisters in Christ speak scathingly and judgmentally regarding homosexuality. I know through God’s Word that we are all children of God. That would include Jeffrey Dahlmer, Hitler, Ted Bundy, Sandusky and even my father, a pedophile. Amazing and difficult at the same time. God’s Word tells us to agape love everyone, even the unlovable.

When I think of the Old and New Testament the sin that is referred to the most was worshiping idols or other gods. Modern day gods might be our children, spouses, money, cars, shopping, drug or alcohol addictions, food, our houses and even our lawns. My brothers and sisters in Christ…are these children of God? Are they entitled to a relationship with Christ and the love of the Lord? Does that mean they automatically stop sinning when they accept the Lord? You know the answer to that and for some your hurtful words say the opposite of what your heart says.

Let’s talk about Saul who persecuted christians. Before, during and after his conversion God used his life in a mighty way. There are many, many examples of how God used sinful men and women in mighty ways. Off hand, there was Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Job and especially King David who disobeyed God greatly, yet God called David a man after His own heart. Paul, a prolific writer in the New Testament, is man who evangelized and brought thousands to Christ in his lifetime and untold many more through his words. If you read Romans, my favorite, Paul talks a lot about sin and in a very familiar way. I hope this scripture will touch seekers in a special way as these words touched me. Romans 7:19: “For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.” I’m thinking this man knows my heart, my struggles. Also “So I find this law at work: when I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:20-25. Wow, Paul really got it! He understood mankind in relation to his own sin and reveled in the loving nature of a God who sent Jesus Christ as the perfect lamb because God understood, after all the turmoil in the Old Testament, the sinful nature of man.

Like I said, Paul certainly understood sin. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, ‘my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Paul never says what his thorn is, but to me it is clear that it was sin and that he struggled with it. Paul bears his heart and it so speaks to my heart! Here is a man who sins, struggles, suffers; exactly like all mankind. He brought so many people to Christ through his humility, words of acceptance and his love for Jesus Christ. Some commentaries, like William Barclay, believe it was a physical ailment. A more contemporary commentator is Jon Courson, who refers to Paul’s thorn as an “issue” that returns over and over. Courson does state, “Keep praying, saint. The Lord will either remove your thorn, your pain, your struggle – or give you understanding to go along with it”. Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, page 1157.

Worshiping gods. It’s even one of the 10 Commandments, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Well, honestly, I know lots of christians who break that commandment and I include myself in that remark. There have been times in my life where alcohol or drugs were gods. And currently I worship my daughter. I could never be as faithful as Abraham with his near sacrifice of his son, Isaac. I have not yet totally released my daughter to God, even though God blessed me with her. That’s another personal testimony story of how God miraculously worked in my life despite my sin. Worshiping other gods is not talked about by some of my brothers and sisters in Christ like homosexuality is. My own fellow christians, who I know love the Lord, sorely test me because Jesus did say, “This is my command: Love each other.:  It’s the red words in John 15:17. So I try.

Since my son’s death in March of 2012, the fact that he was gay, how he suffered from scathing words of professed christians, he avoided the church and because of those words he did not believe he also was entitled to the love, peace and comfort that comes with a relationship with Jesus. Because of those scathing words that are so very hurtful my daughter had to hear, after her brother’s death and from a friend, “All gays go to hell.” Because of those judgmental words that profess to speak God’s Word, young teens are committing suicide. Imagine the loss of those lives, what they could have been, the contribution they would have made. Those precious children of God who during very formative, identity defining time succumb to the scathing and judgmental words of christians and non-christians alike. I don’t think this makes God smile. I don’t think these hurtful opinions bring non-christians to God, in spite of Jesus’ great commission. I don’t think the hurtful opinions represent all christians very well, certainly not me because I know in my heart that the very essence of God is love.

I know homosexuals, women with abortion in their past, people who have sex outside marriage. I’ve known adulterers, people who steal or covet others’ belongings. I’ve known people who have worshiped other gods from drugs to their possessions. I’ve known people who gossip, sometimes use vulgar language and  people who have gotten angry with God and asked “why me”, maybe even cursed Him. The common thread of all these sinners are just that. We are all sinners! And despite the sin God grants us grace, undeserved favor, which is stated over and over again in His Word. Isaiah 43:25: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

I urge all my brothers and sisters in Christ, please search your hearts, remember to love one another, remember the plank in your own eye, or he without sin cast the first stone. Remember Jesus’ great commission so that you can stand before the Judgment Seat of God with gemstones representing all the lost souls you brought to Christ. And please, please keep hurtful words and opinions to yourself.  As commanded in the Bible only the Father in Heaven will judge and Jesus goes so far as to say, “Who are you to judge?” Even Jesus didn’t judge. So don’t do it! If you feel you must then be sure to include scripture referring to all sins which WE ALL commit. Let seekers read God’s Word and feel Him work in their hearts. Don’t turn them away because that is exactly what your words do! I had a pastor, Brent Brooks, who said regarding South Potomac Church, only members could join and those members are sinners.

For all souls struggling, in pain, feeling shame and guilt by those hurtful words of others. Know deep in your heart that you are a child of God, a brother or sister to Christ. That life on this Earth is fleeting and that void that you feel now is waiting to be filled with the love of God. If you feel that you can never be 100% happy, take comfort that God made us that way and that true joy comes after we depart this Earth and go home. Know that in our suffering we are more Christ-like than any other time in our lives. Take some comfort in knowing this. Know with God you will never feel lonely and gain a freedom you have never experienced before. Know that when Jesus died on the cross as the flawless sacrifice for our sins, that it became a done deal. All you have to do is accept it and the free gift of grace from God.

I will make a couple more statements and let you go. You have heard, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner”? While you are typing or vocalizing hurtful and selective remarks about gays, are you remembering your own sin? Is this sin that you condemn something that personally offends you?  When you feel compelled to type or state hurtful words, stop and think and compare yourself to Christ. It’s a humbling experience. And lastly, because of judgmental, hurtful words bandied about from some christians regarding homosexuals, and the increased teen suicides regarding homosexuality, be aware, I will speak louder than you of God’s grace and love.

So long and thank you and may God bless all sinners.

An Un-Scientific Perspective on End Times

I am NOT a biblical scholar, nor a theologian and God did NOT give me the power to see the future, lol.  I do believe that I am one of the biggest sinners that ever walked this earth, that I am VERY far from perfect, and I continue to sin everyday, but also, that Christ forgives me and loves me and I love Him in return.  I believe that God communicates with us through His Word, His “revealed” Word (what I call an Ah-Ha moment), in dreams, our pastor and/or church family, and through others around us.  I believe that God gifts each of His children in a way to enable us to serve others, to comfort, to bring hope and to love.  I believe that as His children we are tasked to share our God-given, life changing, experiences.  For me, God will place something on my heart, or nudge, an idea that I MUST share.  He is relentless in His nudges until I do so.  I can tell you that He “nudged” me this morning and His prompts will not lessen until my thoughts are written and shared.  I often thought, why me?, but as I learned about the characters in the Bible, I thought, why not me.  Every character in the Bible were sinners, some as big as mine.

I am NOT a “doomsday theorist” nor crazy, although the crazy part could be loosely interpreted, lol.  But I am a believer of the Holy Trinity and God’s Word.  How can I not be a believer given all the evidence of It’s Truth!?!  The Bible is a written account that contains 66 books, written by approximately 40 different writers, over 1600 years, on 3 different continents, in 3 different languages, on many different subjects, yet with one central theme, God’s redemption of man from sin for all by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I think it takes more faith to DISMISS the Bible, than to believe in it’s truth!

I watched a video on bizarre sounds heard throughout the world, I couldn’t help, but be reminded of Christ’s words regarding Signs of the End of the Age, “All those are the beginning of birth pains.”  (Matt 24:8)  These bizarre sounds, in my mind, are the Earth’s birth pains.  Here is one of the videos concerning those sounds,

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3084260/What-strange-sound-sky-Noise-heard-globe-nearly-DECADE-explanation.html

I thought on this video this morning and these are some of thoughts that went through my head.

As I learn of increased severe weather events; oceans rising; the rise in diseases, i.e., Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, MERSA, plagues (most recently at Yosemite Nat’l Park); antibiotic resistant bacteria and STDs; increase in racial disparity and relations; increased nuclear concerns regarding the Middle East and those same relations with Israel.   I’m sure there are more prophesied indications that I cannot name as I’m writing this note.

Many have belief in a “higher power”.   Believers in God can read Daniel’s prophecy in the Old Testament;  Daniel, Chapters 7, 8, and 9 as well as the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and others.   Native Americans believe in The Creator and have several prophesies that give the same message.  Below is the video that resonated with me, but there are many others on YouTube, under the search, “Native American Prophecy 2015” worth viewing.

I believe strongly in Christ and The Creator, and as such, I interpreted Genesis 1:28b:  “…Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  to mean the same as the NIV Study Bible’s interpretation, “As God’s representatives in the creaturely realm, they are stewards of God’s creatures.  They are not to exploit, waste or despoil them, but to care for them and to use them in the service of God and humankind.”  There are many more similarities between Native American beliefs and Christ’s teachings.  Christ speaks of signs of the end of age and correlates directly with prophecies from the Old Testament.

Many believe in the literal seven day creation as told in Genesis.  There is scripture that supports the non-literal belief that has helped me to understand so much more of scripture and particularly Christ’s Word.  In 2 Peter 3:8, Peter wrote, “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends:  With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”  With this scripture in mind, when Christ said in Mark 13:30, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”  I can’t help but think that Christ was NOT talking about “generation” as we currently understand it to be;  but as a world that can no longer sustain itself, an era or age;  thus this generation.

Christ, Himself, has much to say about the end of times that are very relevant to today and current events.  Coupled with man’s “stewardship” over the earth and it’s creatures, I can’t help but pay attention to His Words.  For example, many theorists and theologians believe that “the abomination that causes desolation” (a term that is referenced frequently in the Bible) is in actuality a nuclear event.  Please believe that I am NOT an alarmist, but with this in my mind, I can understand God’s Word from a contemporary perspective.  In the book of Daniel, (the OT) the mention of abomination came from Gabriel to Daniel in Daniel 9:27,  “…and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until until a complete destruction….”   Christ says in Mark 13:14:  “When you see the abomination that causes desolation standing where it does not belong – let the reader understand – then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”  With the current nuclear agreement with Iran, well, it makes one wonder.

Christ says, “Then he said to them:  Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.  There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilence in various places, and fearful events and great signs from Heaven.”  Luke 21:10.  Then Christ says in verses 20 and 21:  “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near.  Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city.”  There is more that Christ has to say about end times and it is important to know, “”No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard!  Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.”  Mark 13:32-33.

It is now past the dinner hour and I have finished writing, but until I push Post, I am still being “nudged”.   I am NOT fearful, afraid or stockpiling food and toilet paper…well, maybe toilet paper and and a little wine.   Christ assures me, in His Word, “For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” and “But not a hair of your head will perish.  By standing firm you will gain life.”  Luke 21:15 and 18-19.

I welcome any thoughts, please,  and any “Ah-Ha” moments you may have experienced.  Thanks for your time.  Love to all.

The Day After Easter

Yesterday, my daughter and I were walking the dog along the boardwalk in Ocean City, Md.  Those who are familiar with Ocean City know of a man, that for years, has walked or stood along the boardwalk with a life size wooden cross on his shoulder.  Usually, most people do not notice him, but yesterday I saw him standing there, noticed he was younger than me, and that his lips were moving as though praying or quoting scripture.  I looked at him and said, “Happy Easter, sir.”  He appeared taken aback, looked me in the eyes with his intent brown eyes and said, “God bless you.”

This moved me.  I recalled a story on Youtube where there was a video of him being assaulted by a tourist on the boardwalk and thought, WHY!?!  He is quiet, very unassuming, doing exactly what God had called him to do.  At that moment, I wished I had that attitude of service, the answer to God’s call, as he did.  I thought, my Lord, what has occurred in his life to cause him to want to serve God this way?  How much pain, how many times did he throw himself down at God’s feet.  Or, what exactly convicted his heart to serve the rest of his life in God’s name?

Maybe, he wasn’t what “society” calls entirely mentally healthy, but I do know that he touched my heart on Easter Sunday, the day my Lord conquered the grave.  So, “Mr. Life in Service to God”….I say “God Bless You” and mean it from the very depths of my heart and soul.  And may God protect you and keep you safe from those that profess their “religious freedoms” and rights in unkind ways.

Redemption and Healing of a Broken Spirit

I wrote this story a couple of years ago, so for some, it may sound familiar.  I would be so very neglectful to not share this with as many as I can.  A story of the healing of a broken spirit, redemption, love of God and more importantly, His love for man.  I believe that each of us are placed on this Earth to serve a purpose.  My beliefs are that each of us are gifted by God and we utilize those gifts by serving His children, thus bringing a huge smile to God’s face.  I honor Him, by telling my story.

Most times I’m a very private person.  Recently, I shared with someone some of what the Lord has done in my life. It was pitiably short of all He has done. With the miracles, at times supernatural, He has shown in my life, I realized that I was redeemable and with His personal interventions in my life, I developed an intimate and personal relationship with my Lord. To not share these events would be so neglectful of the Lord’s desires because in sharing I may be serving someone in need, thus serving Him. And please understand, this story is not to illicit pity or sympathy.  It has become so clear in my mind that my relationship with Christ is specific to me, my past, my sins and my heart. As a good parent, He relates, disciplines, redirects and guides me differently and specifically, than He would someone else. He knows my heart, motivates me, nudges and even gifts me differently than others. Because of His specific love for me, no longer do I ever feel that I’m wasted space nor desire to be invisible. No longer do I feel guilt nor feel “abortion” is printed on my forehead when I go to church. I no longer feel the pastor or the elders can see into my sin filled miserable being. I no longer feel uncomfortable or feel shame interacting with my christian brothers or sisters.  In some ways, I feel it is because of my sins, my hurts and my past that my Lord loves me so! He knows my heart completely.

I started school when I was five years old. My first day of school, I was slapped by the nun, humiliated in front of my classmates for the infraction of thinking I could get up to go to the bathroom. This is how a child’s spirit works. I never told my mom because I knew – I knew the nun would not have slapped me unless I was bad. That began seven years of teasing and loneliness while at St. Anthony’s. When I was seven years old my father sodomized me for the first time. He stopped when I was twelve when his molestations became my punishment and not, what he had assured me in the past of his “special love”. I was broken. Now listen to this.  What is alarming to me is there is no particular look to children who are broken. They walk in and out of our lives. Those who are around children, please be vigilant. As a result of that first episode, my life-long unreasonable fear of dentists, I required dentures by the age of fifty-five. What I remember is my father putting his rubber coated, red pocket knife between my teeth and telling me to bite down on the knife and that would take the hurt away. My mom, who was perplexed, took me to the dentist who then pulled the numerous loose “baby” teeth. A memorable experience for a seven year old. After days of not sitting and rubbing my bottom, my mom, who was a nurse, took me to a physician colleague who diagnosed me with pin worms for my excoriated and inflamed bottom. My child brain perceived the dentist as a continuation of my physical pain. As an adult I remembered frequent childhood dreams of flying which were incredibly pleasant and peace filled. It was during my intense christian therapy with Sue McHenry and my Lord, that those childhood dreams were in actuality the episodes where I disassociated. I knew then that in spite of my fear of heights, my lord took my girl hand and led me out the window to soar above my house, Turkey Thicket and into areas beyond N.E., D.C. There were so many trees and some of them I could actually reach out and touch the leaves! I attended St. Anthony’s until grade seven. Because of the nature of small schools, the humiliation of first grade, and efforts at being invisible, made me a target for teasing by some. Then, given the nature of my father’s abuse, I lost control of my bowels while sitting at my desk in second grade. It was a difficult seven years. When I was twelve years old, my mom left my dad and we moved to Maryland where I attended public school. I knew by that age that I was worthless and had no value or place on this Earth. I was broken and filled with shame and at one point while in high school, I considered suicide. My brokenness was complete when my father used our “special love” as a violent punishment for something I had done to anger him. I knew my shame intimately.

While in public school I did make some friends. By the time I graduated high school I had been drunk many times, experimented with drugs, placed myself into a situation where I was raped at sixteen, then the subsequent promiscuous behavior, that most of us now know, is directly related to self-worth and a huge empty spirit, a void,  that was begging to be filled. I, like many, didn’t know that the void could  be filled with the love of Christ. I spent many adult years drinking with periods of sobriety, particularly with the arrival of Annie. Several attempts to stop completely would work for awhile. But you see, until one knows better, one will continue to fill that void with what we know. Somewhere, during that period I discovered pain pills when treatment for dental issues began. When Annie was in second grade, my mom, in her own eloquent way asked, “Jesus Christ, Suzanne…when are you going to get that child to church?” In previous years, I sought solace with the only church I knew, the Catholic Church, but still I felt a huge void. My trust in others was nil. Relationships with others were few and mostly superficial. I didn’t like letting anyone in because to do so was to give them power to hurt me.

Raising my son, Stephen, was challenging, particularly when I realized as a mom, I could not fix his hurt. Despite his mental illness, his profound and incapacitating depression, he managed to get a masters degree and go on to positively touch many friends’ and students’ lives.  Listen to this…even in his homosexuality he was able to exhibit the Lord’s love for others! God uses everyone! Even homosexuals, women with past abortion, people in sin! That is the very nature of our Lord. How do I know? He told me and showed me first hand. Our God can do anything! My son’s last year or so was incredibly difficult for him. The last 3 months he was so profoundly depressed that he would have episodes of complete confusion. In that period I would find myself on my knees begging, in tears, God, please heal him! I found my son’s body one Saturday morning on March 17th, 2012, and he would not wake up. As difficult as that day and experience was, I realized that my God did indeed heal him and bring him to his optimal creative, humorous and loving self. I cannot wait to see that Stephen! I know he is by the Lord’s side, despite, what some might believe,  his homosexuality.

As I was saying, when Annie was 7 we started attending South Potomac Church, in White Plains, Md.  It felt like coming home! I was still drinking, not very heavily and using pain pills occasionally. Within a few months I stopped drinking. I was experiencing a measure of self-worth and working hard to be a good mom. We call Annie our special blessing. Tony and I had been married 12 years and he had retired from the police department. I knew in my heart that the inability to get pregnant was of my past abortions and that I had forfeited any right to bear children. When I did get pregnant, we were overjoyed. When He didn’t take Annie away as a baby and small child, I thought, “Maybe He doesn’t punish His children that way.” I have learned through the ensuing years that the very essence of God is love. With Sue McHenry’s guidance, I have learned that trials and sufferings occur in our lives for four reasons. 1) teaching, 2) redirection, 3) discipline (if still in our sin), and 4) for His glory. I found a particular scripture, that even in my deepest pit of depression, gave me comfort, but most of all HOPE! As every person who has ever been in that pit know, “HOPE” is the only light. That scripture is 2 Cor. 1:5: “For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.” I realized that in my sufferings, I was more Christ-like than at any other time of my life. Isn’t that what we strive for, to be Christ-like, as much as it is humanly possible?  I knew with a certainty that His comfort would come.

Near the end of 2007, I began three years of intense therapy. God revealed Himself within the first three sessions. I had ceased all addictive substances, I felt comfortable and safe with my therapist, Sue. My first memory revealed itself of sexual abuse, then began my loving and healing relationship with my Lord. I can say without reservation and with boldness, I have a one-of-a-kind, intimate personal relationship with Him. I know that I can 100% trust Him to always be there and intercede in my life His own way and trust that He knows what is best for me. He showed me clearly that mankind is fallible and because of that, even my loved ones may hurt or disappoint me. He showed me that man’s fallibility was OK, in that we will always make mistakes and hurt others and/or ourselves intentionally or unintentionally. He will never hurt me. Knowing this in my heart and mind, man’s fallibility will never have the depth and power to hurt me as it had in the past.

During my years of therapy, occasionally I would have awake dreams, or visions, so to speak. It is difficult for me to describe these experiences in words to convey them adequately. This particular experience I can recall clearly and with deep emotion because to me, it actually occurred. I was looking down into a dimly lit room on a little girl about 9 years old. As I got closer and came to stand behind her, I realized the little girl was me. She was very sad and tearful, but not actively crying. A short distance away stood a man and not particularly tall. This man, as she got closer, was wearing an off white, weaved gown to his sandaled feet. He had a brown belt tied low on his waist and his hands and arms were low and close to his body with his palms toward me. He was looking directly in my eyes and although I walked slowly to him, I was eager to get close to Him. When I finally stood before him I looked upward and into his kind brown eyes. I could see immense pain as his eyes began to well into tears. This 9 year old was struck with awareness, then she whispered, “He did this to you too”, I began crying and buried my face into his stomach as I envisioned my father assaulting Him too. He placed His hands on my shoulder and hugged me. I remember clearly the softness of his gown, the warmth of His body, and His warm breath. I remember feeling pain for His sufferings by my father to the depths of my soul. I felt His comfort through His thoughts of specific love for me and His healing and over abundant love for the child I once was. As the adult me witnessed this, I felt all the times He was with me throughout my life. I felt that despite my sins; past, present and future, that He will always love me specifically, maybe even because of my sins. He knew me so well that I KNEW His love was specific for this weak, worthless and broken being. In my sin, He even loved me more! I can never forget this intimate time with Christ. My Lord has loved and taught me so much. One day while reading some scripture, I came across Matthew 24:37, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” After reading this I began to cry, feeling a measure of His pain. In my thoughts, He was beyond hurt and was despairing. My saddened Lord, who only wanted mankind to see and feel His enormous love and His sacrifice for us. It’s as if we rejected the most precious gift ever offered.

So, here I am 59 years old, having survived some traumatic experiences, yet thanking, praising and loving the Lord. He has gifted me with these experiences in order to serve Him through seeing and/or feeling the pain in others. He has placed opportunities for me to be blessed. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 3:12-15, “If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” There are many times Christ has been active in my life, some on hindsight. Today, I recognize that there are no such things as coincidences, that these are opportunities are “God nudges”, and that Jesus walks with me every moment of everyday. Sometimes He smirks at my irreverent humor, sometimes He convicts me at my words, sometimes He smiles and may even laugh at my jokes, but all the time He is with me and in me, filling that long ago void in my heart.

For Stephen

I lost my son 3 years ago on March 17th.  My 17 year old daughter, at the time, lost her brother.   A stepfather, father, stepmother, aunts, uncles, cousins, step-brother and sister, as well as many friends, co-workers, and his beloved students all suffered this loss immensely as it was so unexpected. He was young at 35 years old and an incredibly talented teacher and artist.  There were 18 years between the births of my son and daughter, yet they were incredibly close.  It was a difficult time for all of us, especially my daughter, Annie.  I thank God for her uniqueness, her incredible optimism and her faith in Him, as without Him…..

This is a poem that my daughter, Annie Silva, wrote in honor and in remembrance of Stephen.

“Stevie”, by Annie Silva

It was a sunny morning
That soon turned afternoon
When I heard you were going
Why’d you disappear so soon?

You didn’t wait to say goodbye
You didn’t leave a note
Did you think it wasn’t worth a try?
Or were you even scared at all?

I thought we’d have each other
Until the end of time
You were my only brother
Now all this time is mine

Oh how I’ve missed the smell
Of your folk art acrylic paint
And the sound of your laughter
Late at night, in the rain

Saint Patrick’s Day, it was
And tech day for my high school play
When I got home my mother called
“He’s gone” I heard her say

“He passed away in his sleep
His dog right by his side”
She stopped for a moment to softly weep
Until then I had thought she lied

Soon after I got the news
My friends and family found me

We laughed,
We cried,
and we remembered
Of who you used to be

Until I looked inside and realized
You’re still inside of me.

A Mothers’ Love

Let me preface this note with the understanding that I know I was blessed with a good and loving mom. I know that that is not the case for everyone and my heart breaks for you. I can only share the fact that my Dad was greatly lacking in the father role and that even to this day, certain songs, stories or friends who tell of a loving dad, can bring tears of regret, because I am acutely aware of what I so sorely missed out on. Our God has a way of softening those losses if we let Him. He is the perfect parent. Sometimes I can close my eyes and think of His love and sacrifice, and I can feel His warm hug.

For many years I had regrets regarding the numerous misbehaviors as a daughter. Misbehaviors is a mild term regarding my past and how those affected my Mom and how deeply I worried her and hurt her. She was not a perfect Mom, but I knew she always loved me. I knew how much she sacrificed to raise the four of us on her own, working straight midnights as a nurse. She managed to cook dinner every night and tuck us in at bedtime.

I was so also blessed that before she died in June, 2000, we were close and she had observed my life becoming stable, with a new career, the amazing birth of Annie and my cessation of alcohol. She could see in me the beginning of the positive results of her self-sacrifice and love.

It wasn’t until I lost my son to an accidental overdose almost 3 years ago at the age of 35, that I truly understood the measure of a mother’s love. Stephen was, by no means, an easy child to raise. There were many dissappointments, behavior issues and many sleepless nights. As he grew more mature, my worries only increased. His behaviors improved yet watching him struggle with profound depression and, as a mother, not being able to take the struggles away, were very painful. I can say without a doubt throughout those years and those dissappointments and yes, anger too, I never stopped loving him. I never loved him less. I would still do whatever a mother could do to protect him, care for him, sacrifice for him. I think in some ways that unconditional love is similar to God’s love for us.

No matter what we do as a child of God, He will always love us, regardless of our sins, our past behaviors and any hurt we have caused Him. In fact, I think He may even love us more with our past “misbehaviors” because He saw our struggles. He sees the desires in our hearts to please Him. He knows when we are powerless over addictions and certain behaviors and waits quietly for us to call on Him.

In so many ways I felt the same about Stephen. I knew his heart, how good it was. I knew his struggles, his desires, and at times, his powerlessness over them. I knew what he would do to feed the addiction. I had an innate and deep understanding of who my son was, an understanding that is not present in any other type of relationship. In fact, throughout the years there were some who believed I enabled Stephen. I even questioned myself! A few weeks after his death, it struck me…if I did enable, which I believe I didn’t, I don’t regret a moment!!! I would wager that most mothers who love their suffering child feel very much the same way.

God nudge me to write this note for children who are wondering, worrying or perhaps harboring unforgiveness for themselves for what they perceive is unforgiveable in their mother’s eyes. In fact, I am sitting in a store parking lot as I write. I can assure you, as God has assured us, that you were forgiven long time ago…that moment you had love in your heart. I can also assure you that a mother and child love have no boundaries, most importantly, no self-made boundaries.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Cor. 13:4-8

I hope and pray that this note helps to ease a worried Mother and/or child.

The Beat Cop

My heart is prompting me to tell a story and I hope I’m not too long-winded for you.  With all the bad press regarding police officers, and I’m sure there are a few bad apples as in any profession, I decided to tell my story. I want to tell you of a cop, a flashlight and a 10 year old girl.

When I was 21 years old, I began working for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C. and continued to working there for the 6 years.  I was surrounded by police officers, detectives and a variety of law enforcement officers of every sex, ethnicity, religion and age in almost every branch of the Metropolitan Police Department.  I was a young woman who interacted with those who had experienced almost every inhumanity man can think of, on another.  It was the time when DC meant Dodge City and it was “open season” on police officers.  Murders were over 500 per year, thus the distinction of being known as, “The Murder Capitol”.  I often received sage advice concerning my safety, such as, don’t park next to vans, park under lights, have car keys in hand and survey your scene;  was among some of the wise advice. Even after Sgt. Tony Silva from 7th District proposed and with a resounding yes,  Detective Kanjian, who worked in the Career Criminal Unit as a seasoned investigator, and also a man of few words, in his deep gruff voice, advised, “Girl, don’t marry no roller”, then shaking his head.  I have to laugh whenever I remember Kanjian speaking those words.

But really this story is about a little girl who lived in N.E., Washington, D.C., in the old 12th Precinct and a cop who walked a beat. I wish he were still around to tell him thank you. I had horrible insomnia as a child.  I would stare out of our 2nd story window looking down onto Randolph Street anticipating the arrival of my father with very mixed emotions.  Little girls love and want to please their fathers, yet I was also afraid of mine.  Sometimes he would come home late at night and there were many times he did not come home for days.  But almost always, on the nights at that window, there was a policeman walking his beat who noticed me and said hello by flashing his flashlight on and off. The first time he did this, I was a little scared. Perhaps little girls should not be up so late. Just the act of him saying hello in such a specific way made me smile and feel valued. I’m not sure how long this happened, but I do know that after a while I anticipated this policeman’s hello instead of my father. I’m almost 60 years old now and this incredible memory is still capable of positive emotions and smiles when I think of this officer’s “light” and the significance he brought to this little girl. It is in those little things that we can impart the touch of God, even without knowing it.