Friday, April 27, 2007

Weekly Word for April 27, 2007

Weekly Word - April 27, 2007

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, And delivered me from all my fears.
This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
(Psalm 34: 4 & 6)

Quiet and shy, she was always last to try new things. She was small for her age, and always seemed a little afraid. But she had captured my heart, from the first moment I held her - the day she was born. She was my first grandchild, and I loved her dearly. But I worried about her, as she held on tight to my hand - afraid to join in with the other children. She was the quiet one, the one who watched everything - and worried . . .

On this day, she had asked if she could draw. I set her up with paper and crayons, keeping her away from her little brother and sister. She sat quietly in the corner, concentrating on the paper before her. Her brother and sister were keeping me very busy, with yells for “grandma” and squeals when things weren’t going their way. But every once in a while, my eyes were drawn back toward her. I wondered what she was drawing.

This poor man cried and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, And rescues them.
(Psalm 34: 6 & 7)

She worked hard on that very first picture. When it was finished, her eyes shone as she handed it to me. I laughed as I looked at a picture of . . . Me! There I was, with red curly hair, and hearts all over my shirt. She had drawn a huge smile on my face, and had even put the name of my favorite singer on my shirt. Holding the paper, I laughed and hugged my little granddaughter. And then she went back to her paper and crayons, starting on the next picture.

My attention turned back to the little ones, as they seemed to demand so much more from me. The little one needed his diaper changed, and his sister wanted a snack. They were full of energy, and life - each one so uniquely different from the other. As I catered to their needs, I quickly checked on their sister. She was concentrating on the papers before her, and the seriousness of her look - made me wonder. Her lower lip was caught between her teeth, and there was a look of worry - that hadn’t been there just a moment ago. But my attention was quickly diverted again, as crying filled the room. I left her working on the papers, as I took care of the other two. But something in her look, had me worried for my little granddaughter . . .

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 17 & 18)

She worked on those papers for a very long time. There was a pile of them. I noticed words across them, and pictures drawn. She seemed to be trying to hide them, and so I pretended not to see them. Soon though, it was time to go. As I got the little ones ready, I noticed her folding the papers she had been working on for so long. Her hands were clenched, and she was wringing the papers into tiny twist that made me wonder what she was going to do with them. When I asked her, she looked up at me with eyes full of fear. “I want to throw them away” she said. I tried to ask her why, but she only backed away from me, the papers still held tightly in her hands. “OK” I told her. And then I told her she could put them in the trash. “I don’t want anyone to see them” she continued. And I told her that was alright.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

That day, after my little granddaughter went home - I read what she didn’t want me to see. The papers were full of words - words that begged someone to forgive her. “I’m sorry - I’m sorry” they said. And my eyes filled with tears as I read those words. How could anyone be that angry with her? She was like any little girl, fighting with her brother and sister, and her parents at times. But this seemed bigger. I knew that her life was not the way she wanted it to be. Her mommy and daddy were divorced, and she was upset by that. She had been moved from place to place, and that too had been difficult. I knew she was afraid of so many things - but I wasn’t sure what to do.

That day, I couldn’t get those words out of my thoughts. They seemed to echo inside of my being. You see, I knew those words! They had been part of my own life - for many, many years . . .

Many are the afflictions of the righteous;
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
(Psalm 34: 19)

At 16, she was shy and afraid, and was sure that no boy would want to go out with her. She knew she wasn’t pretty - after all, that’s what she had been told growing up. Fear seemed to always be lurking, and she didn’t know how to get rid of it. As a little girl, she seemed to always be doing something wrong - she was always getting into trouble. She tried to say she was sorry - but it never stopped the anger that came at her - or the pain she felt when it happened. As she grew, she wondered if she would ever be alright, ever find a boy to love her. Would she ever get married . . .

So it was such a surprise, when he stopped to talk to her. He was older than she was, and had been working at the grocery store for some time. She was new there, and so she didn’t even know his name. “Will you be working this week-end?” he asked. At that, she just nodded shyly back at him. “Maybe I can give you a ride home?” he said. And she dumbly nodded again. Her heart was pounding in her chest. As he turned to walk away, she shyly smiled back at him. She was so excited.

When the week-end finally came, she carefully put on her best shirt and pants - and brushed her long red hair. She couldn’t wait to go to work, and when her mother dropped her off - she told her she had a ride home that night. As the hours went by, she waited for him to come talk to her. But he didn’t. She had seen him a few times, but he had walked right by her, never saying a word. She began to wonder if he had really meant what he had said. As the hours ticked by, she started to worry. Maybe he had forgotten! Maybe he had changed his mind! She could think of all sorts of reasons why he wouldn’t want to be with her. And it didn’t take long for her to convince herself that he wasn’t going to drive her home. So when one of the girls that she was working with asked if she needed a ride home - - - she sadly said “yes”.

As she put on her coat that night, getting ready to leave, she realized that he was standing behind her. “I thought I was driving you home?” he said. Her mouth became dry, and her cheeks started to burn with the embarrassment she was feeling. “I’m - I’m sorry” she stammered. She didn‘t know what to say, as he looked at her with questions in his eyes. “I - I forgot” she stammered again. Quickly, she turned away from him - trying to hide the tears in her eyes.

That night, she didn’t get a ride home from him. As she said good-bye to her friend, she sadly walked into her house. She felt so stupid! She wanted to apologize, but she knew he would never understand. She knew that he would never ask her out again!

The righteous cry and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.

That was the beginning. It wasn’t a good beginning, but it was how our relationship started. It was how I met my first husband. Why he asked me out for a 2nd time, I will never know. But he did. And then he asked me to marry him.

Our marriage had difficulties right from the start. And I can’t say who is to blame. Maybe it was my fault, for being so wounded right from the beginning. And maybe it was his fault, for not telling me that I was worth something. And then again, it was probably both our faults. I didn’t know how to be a wife - or a mother. And I spent years apologizing for my very existence. When I finally did find out just “who” I was - through prayer and counseling - it shouldn’t have been a surprise that I wasn’t the person that he needed - to be his wife.

The day we got divorced, I wanted to apologize for the pain that I saw on his face. But it wouldn’t have changed anything. We both needed to go our separate ways.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!
O fear the Lord, you His saints; For to those who fear him, there is no want.
(Psalm 34: 8 & 9)

“I’m sorry!” Many of us have spent our entire lives saying those words. They come from the fear that we hide - deep inside of our beings.

It took years, for me to understand about the pain and fear that was hidden inside of me. It was years filled with prayer, and seeking help in counseling. And even then, it didn’t take much for those words to sneak up on me . . .

I sought the Lord, and He answered me, . . .

I had found a gift like none I had ever experienced. Ted loved me - and he loved me no matter what I looked like, or what I did! He loved me, and he accepted me for “who” I was. He had asked me to marry him - and I wanted to say “yes” with all of my being. But he also promised God that he would wait - if that is what God wanted - or what I needed. I had never experienced anything like this - in my entire life. Someone was willing to love me - no matter what.

So we prayed, and we asked God what we should do. And then we started planning a wedding. I was happier than I had ever thought I could be! We knew where we wanted to get married, and who we wanted there - to share our joy with. And then I started looking for a dress.

I wasn’t sure what I should wear, as this was my 2nd marriage. Maybe I should wear off-white, or another color? Everyone seemed to push me that way. But I felt so much like a young girl, getting married for the very first time, that I knew deep inside - I wanted to wear white. And so I started looking.

When I found the dress, I knew it was the one! I put it on, and stared at myself in the mirror. I felt beautiful! But then I felt it, I felt the doubt creep into my thoughts. As I walked out to the girls waiting to see me, I wondered what they would say. Each one told me how beautiful I looked in that dress. But I still hesitated. Were they telling me the truth? Finally, I told the shop keeper that I would take it, even though I wondered if I was doing the right thing.

Over the next two months, I was so busy getting ready for the wedding. We bought dresses for the girls, and picked out tuxes. We planned the menu, and picked out rings. And then I needed to have my dress fitted. As I stood there, looking at myself in all the mirrors that surrounded me - I could feel the doubt creeping in. My mind was wandering, as the girl was trying to pin up my dress. “I’m sorry” I said for at least the umpteenth time - when I forgot to turn when she asked me to. That’s when she stopped what she was doing, sitting back and staring at me. “Stop saying you are sorry!” she said. “It’s all you keep saying!” As she said it, I knew she was right. I tried to hide my tears, but she saw them. “This dress is perfect, and so are you!” she said. And at that moment, I wanted to believe her . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; . . . Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, . . . Do not fear, for I am with you; . . .”
(Isaiah 43: 1, 4 & 5)

The day that I put that dress on, and became Ted’s wife - was the day that I felt as if I had put on - a brand new life. In that dress, I felt beautiful and loved. In that dress, I cried as I said “I do” to loving Ted for the rest of my life. In that dress, I danced and laughed as I had never done before. And I wore that dress, until it was time to leave on our honeymoon - and start our new life together.

“Since you are precious in My sight, Since you are honored and I love you, . . . Do not fear, for I am with you; . . .”

The day that I read what Emma wrote, I felt my heart break for her. She has been through so much in her little life. Her world has changed, and she has struggled with that fact. As I thought about how to help my little granddaughter, I thought about the afghan I had made for her. It was made in her favorite colors, and I had saved it to give to her on a special occasion. This seemed like the perfect time to give it to her.

On the day that I gave her the afghan, I put it around her like a cloak. As I did, I told her that when she is afraid - to put the afghan all around her. And when she does, to remember that she is loved. I told her that we loved her, and so did her parents and God. Then I told her that our love would keep her safe - just like the afghan would keep her warm. As I held my little granddaughter that day - I prayed that God would be like that blanket - surrounding her always with His Love and protection . . .

Love . . . Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things.
Love never fails; . . .
(1 Corinthians 13: 7 & 8)

Just over a week ago, a young man made a horrific choice. He chose to take the lives of 32 students and teachers at Virginia Tech. When he did, our country and world grieved. Ted and I, as well as many of those we knew, prayed for all the families and friends who lost loved ones. And then we found ourselves talking about what happened. One of my friends asked me what she should tell her children. “How can I keep them safe?” she asked. As we talked, I realized that we can’t always keep our children safe. All we can do - is surround them with our love and our prayers - just like when I put the afghan around Emma. We can make sure that they know that they are loved - by us - and by God. In doing that - they will have the courage and strength - to face whatever lies ahead . . .

But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13: 13)

As you face the coming week, and the uncertainty of this world, will you ask Him who loves you - to surround you with His Love - and walk with you through whatever lays ahead. He is waiting - - -just for you . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.”
For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;”
(Isaiah 43: 1 - 3)

God bless you and keep you - until we meet again . . .

In His Love,

Debbie & Ted Ayers