Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Little Comforter

The other day I was very sad, this is not uncommon for me of late. On that day I was also very upset in a very verbal and emotional way. Now I didn't feel much like talking. In fact I was laying alone in bed. This was about to change.
Being a father means that I am responsible to help my children understand life, and I that day I felt that Zoe deserved an explanation as to why her normally fun daddy was not so fun.

So I had her crawl up next to me and I began to explain. "Sometimes when daddy is really upset it's just because he misses Grampy so much." To this my four year old responds by taking the hem of her dress and wiping my tears and reminding me that Grampy is in heaven.

So I had a few more tears in that conversation, which she wiped and she gave me a few kisses.
Then suddenly the "tickle monster" came back and fun times broke out again.

Thank God for little comforters.









Monday, August 31, 2009

Heeding Hope and Health Part 1

August 31

It has been an "interesting" year. I have been up and down, in the valley and on the mountain top. Through it all the one constant has been the unwavering "knowing" of Adonia.

ADONIA "Master, Lord, LORD"

As all things seem to crumble, my Lord has never shown a sign of weakening and thus my foundation has never been cracked or worn. This is a constant comfort and provides the stability that is so often allusive.

I tend to place things on top of the foundation -false flooring, cozy carpets, stone tile of various kinds- all of which look very nice and often gain me complements, yet they are not the foundation. They will be the things I walk on and as I walk this path they change the sound of my footsteps. As I gave this more thought it struck me that in decorating my foundation I inadvertently change the sound of God's voice. I no longer hear the simple sound of my feet on foundation.

No, I have added that which changes, muffles and distorts sound. Every piece of flooring or furniture now keeps the sound of the foundation from resounding as I walk. Soon I begin to imagine that the decorative things which I have added are the foundation that supports my feet.

It is then that the true master of the house rises from the floor, near the corner where I had "assigned" him to work. He begins to critique my work, but in the process begins to remove the decoration -pointing out my sloppy and inconsistent work- work marked by a general lack of skill.

I am at first offended then embarrassed and finally relieved. So relieved that a master craftsman has taken over a job in which I was way over my head. I am startled by how much needs to be removed. I thought some of my work could survive the critique. Here at the point of having everything stripped bare I begin to pace -and trip over the remnants of my beautiful work- discarded pieces lay strewn across the floor.

I become frantic -running around snatching pieces up. They must be tossed out.

To the trash! To the trash!

There must be no evidence that I ever tried to do this on my own and failed -as I run, stumble and fall.

My stumbling blocks are the various pretty pieces that once adorned my foundation. I am now on my knees -where I get a better view. A better response to the stumbling block is dropping to hands and knees -to begin to move along the foundation with the Master craftsman.

From here I can see a once unnoticed beauty of what he had already etched and stained into the solid form at the time of it's pouring out. It is overwhelming in it's simple complexity -craftsmanship which could only be accomplished by planning long before the foundation was laid.

I no longer cling to the trash bag. It is clear that now is not the time for clean up -even as others yell at me to get my "stuff" together, get the mess cleaned up and get back on my feet. No, now is the time for ripping up and taring out. Everything I've added must be removed. Some of it will not be thrown in the trash but moved to hang on the walls as simple decorations, pictures of what has taken place on this journey. They are not ever to be confused with the foundation, as they do not hold weight. They are instead held up by the nails.

I move to the corner not in retreat - not running as some would claim. I simply had to relinquish any claim to the center. From the my spot in the corner I watch my Lord work. He reveals more and more foundation, and more and more wondrous beauty. Now I understand the urge to kiss the ground I walk on. That ground is holy and not of me...

... and as all things I've built seem to crumble, my Lord has never shown a sign of weakening and thus my foundation has never been cracked or worn. This is a constant comfort and provides the stability that is so often allusive.


So today I am sitting and wondering, pondering -1 Samuel 15:22
"...To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams."
______________________________________________________________

(I alluded many Bible passages today. Please feel free to comment with references and add more that come to heart)
______________________________________________________________

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stages

As a Christian people expect you to grieve a certain way. To respond and then move on.

Mourning is an interesting process, at least I have told people that and been told that myself.

But what is a process with out order? If this has order I don't see it.

It isn't chaos either, but it seems to get harder when you know all standard the answers.

Knowing the answers means no new bit. No new nugget of truth to brighten the day so you must cling to the truth already known.

People try to express understanding, but it's hard because we can't really know where someone is at.

This is why we take what comfort we can from a sympathetic high priest.

So how do you go through the stages of grief, when you know the answers and people just want you to go back to normal?

Denial- How do you deny something you know so well to be true, to be reality. It's hard to ignore something like a huge hole in your heart, yet you know that if God didn't fill it that it would have emptied long ago

Guilt- Why should I feel guilt if I said what I needed to say before it was to late, and I'm forgiven anyway.

Anger- What if you refuse to be angry? How would you justify anger at the one who holds life in His hands and gives eternal life to the dead. You could rage against the curse of sin, but the best way to be angry at sin is to give it the silent treatment.

Bargain-How do you bargain with God if you habitually give him everything everyday? You would have to think you have something that He needs or wants, but he already has everything and all you have is cast on Him because you can't carry the weight.

Depression- What if you are constantly reminded of your blessings? How do you spiral into depression when your are surrounded by the hugs and laughter of your little blessings everyday, and when people care so much.

Acceptance- I can't even right about this. I don't understand it. As a Christian I don't have to accept it because God provided a way of escape. That's the point. This is why we really want our friends and family to know Jesus Christ, so that we don't have to accept that they're gone forever. Because their not.

All I need is a little distraction from the empty sounds. He was such a huge voice in my life.

I want to hear him still, but there is much talking, so much noise.

I want a break down. I want loose myself. I just don't see it in me.

How do you restart a life that never got a chance to stop.?

Why do people want to stop the pain that lets me know how much I truly loved?

Where can I go.....? ...God you are there already!


-------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

God Moving

I was just going to post an update and it got long winded.


__________________________________________________________
GOD MOVING


I woke up this morning....Think I woke up, but I'm not sure I slept. There I lay thinking I'd never move; that I had lost hope and then I looked up. God was still there holding me: causing me to breath every labored breath.

The world has turned and left me here....I'm still stumbling to get dressed. This new suit feels so awkward and unnatural. Do I really need this thing tied around my neck? It's mine to carry, but it is heavy, so I pass it on. God is still here carrying my baggage.

My eyes are open.... The day seems dark. It's hard to walk around because so many things are not were I left them. Like a thief has rummaged through my house and I just stood watching as he tried to take things of value. All I could grab in the dark was this old book. God is still lighting my path.

There is to much noise in the air around me.... It is to silent to think. I sit in the noisy silents until a friend reminds me to turn my music. It helps to hear praise in the storm. It gives me something to focus. I begin to meditate and consider all His might deeds. I hear His still small voice. God is still loudly working.

My heart is lifted up... This is so painful. There is a new hole in my heart that feels so immense that I can't imagine what will ever stop it's spread. This not a time for my imagination. I am firmly rooted in reality. God is filling every part of me.

_________________________________________________________________

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hurting

Today was my father's memorial. It was a beautiful celebration of my father's life and legacy. There were many stories, many tears, many hugs and many old friends that I would love to see more often. I was especially moved by my brothers loving words. They made me once again proud of my father and of my big brother. He said what he needed to say as did I, but still the pain does not subside.

I have not stopped hurting, but it is a different kind hurt. One that creeps in when the business and noise of the day fades away and we are left with only our thoughts. The children are tucked in bed and Jen is asleep on the couch. I lay on a foam mat in my parent's living room, and this is so different.

It is different in that tonight when I walked into this house I did not make a bee line for my Dad's office to say hi and discuss life or sit down on the couch near his lay-z boy recliner to watch the game and discuss politics. It is different because I didn't hear the familiar and comforting "goodnight" and "I love you son", that would normally come down the hall as dad would shuffle off to bed.

It is different because to night there is no man of the house, but there are men of the house. You see I no longer enjoy the comfort of coming here and deferring to the man of the house. The man that I loved as father and friend has died and is now with Christ. My brother and I will not fight any longer for position in this house because we are now both the man of our own homes. He and I are not the boys we were growing up trying to make dad proud. We should have no question that he was proud of his boys. He was proud and with good reason. He instilled in us the very essence of what a man should be. I for one am proud that my brother, asleep in the next room, is my brother, and today he was my big brother.

So I have not stopped hurting, but it is a different kind hurt. After years of struggles this little family of ours had become everything we could hope for; no not perfect, but close enough. We had seen God's healing hand heal old wounds and open closed hearts. We had seen love and understanding that we had often thought impossible. And we said the things that needed to be said.

It is different because I am not angry at God for taking dad. I am thankful to God that we got to have dad here to see his family together. Thankful that we had the time to love and forgive. Thankful that lessons were learned and wisdom was passed on. Thankful that this last year we got to laugh and love and hope and dream together. After all how can you truly love with out the risk of loss. And how can you truly suffer loss if you never risked love. All this I know.

..... but I haven't stopped hurting, though it is a different hurt, and I'm not sure that I even comprehend it's full extent just yet. I'm not sure how long it will take or even how hard it will get. I am not God, and I don't question God right now. What I question is how anyone makes it through something like this with out God. After all I know God and talk with Him, yet as of right now I am barely able to breath, yet he keeps me breathing.

I am laying here waiting to hear my father say "goodnight, I love you son". And just before my heart faints in despair it comes. Not from down the hall, but from within my spirit. "Goodnight, I love you son.", my heavenly father says, " I love you, just as I love your dad. He is here with me and one day you will be too".

So today passes and tomorrow I will wait upon the Lord to renew my strength, but I haven't stopped hurting, though it is a different kind of hurt.



______________________________________________________________________________________________________






Thursday, July 16, 2009

NOT BRAVE

This one, written Monday morning before heading to the hospital, had been much more raw. Thank you Jen for helping me edit this into a readable form.



Not Brave

I am not brave; I am the farthest from it. I am a child in the night, clinging to covers pulled over my head--for that is were I am, over my head. All but consumed by Now, I have taken on water and The Now finds me jilted.

I am not brave; I am standing confused. Needing water to live, to thrive, but it is too much: too much grief, too much pain. A blinding tide, greater than all of me, but it is too much: too much grace, too much love: an outpouring greater than I’ve known.

I am not brave; I’m being poured out. Caught in the desire, wanting to walk on water yet, hearing the clash of thunder. Now feeling the spray of the waves, and too distracted, too overwhelmed. I begin losing sight and focus.

I am not brave; I’m in the struggle. Weighted at the point of saturation. Much more and I drown, or recoil to the extent that I grow dry, callous, and dead. Is it the desert or the sea? Am I to feel it all, or not at all?

I am not brave; I’m at my end. Thinking for a moment that I was capable and sure. Here is when I falter, now is when I stumble. Let he who thinks he stands be careful lest he falls.


I am not brave; I’m just here at such a time, in the tears and weeping. Startled by the shadow on the wall. Clinging to my comfort, my hand is weak and trembling. I look back into piercing eyes. The hand that grips mine is firm.


I am not brave; I am a child reaching up, not brave or strong or wise. My father’s hand is strong. He is bold and strong and wise. I hold my father’s hand; this is the hand that reached for me; that stops my reoccurring descent.


I am not brave; I have no need to be. I am not the power or force or strength. I am not the architect, creator, or sustainer. There is no need to be brave, for the hand I rest in cannot be shaken. This hand cannot be pried open, forced, loosened or persuaded to release.


I am not brave as it may at times appear. Don’t be mislead or deceived. Though I show bold actions in facing the challenge; stand strong under life’s attack, and move forward shedding fear. My father in the storm is clear. The Lord my God is here.


__________________________________________________________________
www.neuenschwander.blogspot.com
__________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Kid Talk

I have been reminded how much my children love Grandpy.

I had to explain to Zoe why she wouldn't be able to play with grandpy anymore.
"Granpy's heart was so sick that he couldn't get fixed here on earth, but Grandpy new Jesus as his Savior so God took Grandy to heaven so he could totally fix him there."

Zoe then claimed she was really sick and needed to go with Grandpy, but we told her she would get better here with us. Then Jen and I explained that her friend Charlie would get better on earth too and she would see him again soon.

For those who don't know:
Zoe is 3 and a half.
Charlie, he is one of the guys in our HINGE young adult ministry and a good friend to us all. He is suffering with a disk problem in his back. We our praying for you Charlie!!!
Grandpy was my best friend and father, and he is greatly missed!



Thursday, July 09, 2009

Now

Now we have passed the point of simply praying for healing.
It is the time to put knee to floor and face to ground and ask that we see a true miracle.

It is now when people will look to see whether we believe what we profess
Or if we like many others simply cling to a hollow straw man that collapses under life's pressure

Now is when we find out f we will succumb to the disparaging remarks of Job's wife.
Will we simply curse God and die.

It is now that little eyes will look to see if daddy truly believes in hope eternal
And whether or not his stories hold more substance for life then the colorful fairytale books

Now we can no longer sing our hymns of thanks with full stomach but detached heart
We have had our guts checked and our hearts wrenched back to true feeling.

It is now we will seek God's face, to feel His strength and know His comfort
And we will learn to let go of the unnecessary things we cling to.

Now before we reach our end when reason and love can be over taken by hopeless anger
Here is when we need to take a moment to pause and prepare for the unbearable.

Is it now that I will curse God because the system is broken
A system I understand that He did not create it so faulted

Now I take full responsibility for my part in this world so ravaged by the curse of sin
And thank the Creator that He did not abandon the rebellious this child

Is it right to curse God that gravity allows me to walk or that the sun causes plants to grow
Though I may bemoan the soreness of muscles and burn of skin.

Now is the time for the real hope to be praised for all that is truly given by a loving Father
In this life and in the life to come is not a promise of flowery words but of tangible power

It is power of life and power over death, it is hope eternal for the temporal plain.
Though there is pain, sorrow and grief there is also hope, faith and love.

Now is the time for us to praise the God who gives and takes away
In this time our souls can find wellness that comes only from the well of living water.

It is still hard to see a broken system taking only what belongs to it, only the flesh, only the shell
Though it threatens, rages and presses against the soul that it can't touch

Now the soul belongs to another and the Spirit gives it life
And my trust is in He who can touch the soul and body

It is His who has healed the spirit and He who can heal the flesh.
He who sees as grander design in all the chaos and pain

Now I understand that though everything happens for a reason
Sometimes it is reason enough to know we live in a broken world of our own making

It is more than enough to know the plan of escape has been laid
And the price of the trip has been past paid in blood.

Now is the time for tears, now is the time for grief
And the time for joy and love and faith and prayer and hope.

It is the temporary loss of fellowship and momentary separation
And the pain of knowing I must stay away from my true home though you may enter in.

Now is when people will look to see whether I truly believe what I profess
And they watch on and wonder how and what they will see

It is not my will that will be done no matter the outcome it is not by my power
So I hope and I pray that it is not my face they will see

Now I have passed the point of simply praying for healing.
It is time for me to put knee to floor and face to ground and ask to see a true miracle.

Is it now that my feeble flesh fixed to this ground will cry
And it is now when Father lifts my soul and mouth to proclaim my God on high


_________

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

My Fathers' Will To Live

How can I stand under the weight of life?

I do not understand the way of it all.

This grip that holds me up against the down.

Hands unseen that hold my life, my breath.

The God that formed me now keeps me formed.

My father who lays now in the bed of affliction.

A father no less in the hands of the Father.

This good Father who gives and takes away.

Will I praise Him only in the giving I enjoy?

To then curse Him when I don't so easily understand?

If my understanding were the limit of God, He is no god.

But I stand not in my self, but by grace.

My Father too has given my father grace.

This Father of grace holds my father in life.

And a gracious Father holds my father beyond death.

He gives and He takes away, blessed be His name!

In this name I pray, please Father give today.

For Your will not mine is not easy to live, once easily said.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Thursday, February 05, 2009

America is in need of a time machine...


Should I keep holding my breath or go ahead and inhale whatever it is that the masses are smoking these days. This is the change we've been waiting for? I will give Washington the benefit of the doubt a little longer, but I do have to start thinking for my self again by Sunday. I'm preaching this week.

This pic has been floating around the magic email universe and makes me laugh and cry.

Now first off I don't own a gun. My hands and wit are a strong defense. Second I don't want to take guns from anyone with a clean record. Third I love cheese.

So here we go.

No one has offered to give me any change, and I did ask for some.... although I have had some change forced into my pocket while I was asleep. It wasn't the change I was asking for and it looks an awful lot like the change we got rid of in the early 80's.

Interesting fact #1: Did you know that my daughter Josie has a middle name and that middle name is Reagan?

She was named after someone I miss very deeply.

You know I've been thinking. Maybe if I had a gun I wouldn't be forced into things so much. Maybe if I had the arms of a bear politicians would respect me more.

Interesting fact (I'm looking into) #2-4
Thomas Jefferson
  • Favored the death penalty for treason and murder.
  • Believed there should be a revolution every 50 years.
  • Died 50 years to the day after he signed the Declaration of Independence.

He may have died do to the shock of no revolution, but I can't prove it. Then again who has to prove anything these days. Not trial lawyers. FACE!!! (Ya I'm trying to bring it back)

If only the founding fathers had thought to add something to the constitution to stop this from happening. If only there was a system of checks and balances in government. If only judges where given the duty to uphold the law instead of just legistlating from the bench. Oh Thomas Jefferson you fool! Why didn't you guys go back and add some type of bill to the constitution that would ensure that the people would be protected and free from........

Well my editor is telling me to stop beating the dead horse or something (He mumbles so I can't always tell what he's saying)

Have you ever wondered what you'd do if you had a time machine?

Well if I had a time machine I'd move back to America.

....better work on my sermon now, but what will I talk about that won't get me thrown in jail?

Maybe I'll quote the great prophets Lennon & McCartney.

You say you want a revolution- Well you know We all want to change the world-
You tell me that it's evolution- Well you know We all want to change the world-
But when you talk about destruction- Don't you know you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be alright Alright Alright

You say you got a real solution- Well you know We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution-
Well you know We're doing what we can
But when you want money for people with minds that hate
All I can tell you is brother you have to wait- Don't you know it's gonna be alright Alright Alright
You say you'll change the constitution- Well you know We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution-
Well you know You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow- Don't you know know it's gonna be alright Alright Alright


Guys is it everything you dreamed it would be?