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The Carla Dysert Challenge

When the phone rang this morning, I was sitting at my computer ready to start my day. It was a bit later than usual due to the school cancellation. It was just a normal Monday morning, if you discounted the amazing amount of snow for mid-November around here.

It’s funny how a simple phone call can rock your world.

At about 10:30 this morning, I found out my friend Carla Dysert had been killed in a car accident earlier that morning. The news washed over me in a tide of disbelief.

It felt like all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room.

I knew Carla very peripherally for years as she went to my church, but I started to know her better a few years ago when she began to periodically attend my Sunday school class. Then this summer, when I started volunteering at Guiding Light where she volunteered too, our friendship grew, as I got to know her more deeply.

(Carla is in the pink shirt)

Even hours after I learned of her death, I still am having a hard time believing she is really gone. I think it’s because she was one of those people who were so very alive.

I’ve spent most of today thinking about Carla and what she has meant in my life. I’ve shed a lot of tears – and I’m not much of a crier – as the reality of her loss has settled over me.

As I’ve thought about her though, one thing came clear to me – Carla challenged me. She challenged me by the way she lived. Carla didn’t read God’s Word and think it meant someone else. She believed it was directed at her, and unlike so many of us, she acted on it.

Carla was someone who did what God asked her to do, even if other people thought she was a little, well, odd. I remember her telling me about a time she felt God asking her to claim a college football field. She went down and walked every yard of that field, praying over it. Never mind that everyone thought she might be a little crazy. 🙂

Carla was a big believer in the power of prayer. Her prayer journals were an artistic wonder – notes, small drawings, glued on pictures of those she was praying for papered its pages. She wrote down what she learned from her Bible study times and what she felt God was telling her. She wrote down prayer requests and how God answered and came through. She felt so strongly about journaling, that she was always giving people journals of their own.

Many time, you could find her walking around buildings in downtown Lima, praying over that particular ministry. It didn’t matter to her that people driving by might wonder what in the world she was doing.

When Carla said she’d pray for you, she did. When Carla said she’d do something, she followed through. When Carla thought you were wrong, she told you.

As I cried off and on today, immeasurably sad that my friend was gone and thought about how crushed the many people she touched probably felt, it occurred to me that Carla would probably wonder why I was upset. I can envision her, her blonde head cocked to the side saying in her perpetually upbeat voice, “But Rosanne, why are you upset? God knew I was going to die today. God allowed that so it’s okay.”

And then she’d smile.

The thing that made Carla unique was that she was always listening for God’s voice and she didn’t just listen. She went out and did what He asked, too. She was always looking for the opportunities He put in her path and acting on them.

One of those ways was at her job. Carla worked a lot of hours at Primrose where she was the director, but the reason she spent long hours there wasn’t because she was a workaholic. It was because she spent her days meeting the Primrose residents’ needs, and waiting to do her work until later in the evening.

Carla was also a big believer in God’s Word. She wasn’t about denominations. She’d tell you it’s about God and what the Bible says. She wasn’t about physical church walls. You could find her at our Baptist church as soon as you’d find her attending a street church in the south side of Lima or joining a charismatic church on a mission trip. Carla was about loving people because Jesus loved people.

I’ll be honest and say I wish I understood why God took Carla home today. But I can’t. I wish I could tell you there was some greater purpose, but all I can think is, “It was too soon.”

But I want Carla’s death to mean something. I don’t want her death to just be a tragedy. I want it to call us all to action and to continue her legacy. So, I came up with an idea. I’m calling it the Carla Challenge, and I hope she would get a kick out of this.

The challenge is this – whatever it is you feel God telling you to do, just do it. Put it at the very top of your to do list. Don’t let busyness or fear or doubt or just feeling silly keep you from it. Whatever opportunity God places in your path, take the time to act on it.

Because if anything summed up Carla’s life, it was her ability to listen to what God was telling her, look for the opportunities He placed in her path and act in obedience. No questions. No hesitations. Just do it.

Will you take the Carla Challenge today and keep her legacy alive?

Blessings, Rosanne

 

 

Why Jesus Loves Me Is the Answer

I’ve been wrestling with the death of Michael Brown and the subsequent violence his death has sparked. I’ve wrestled with whether I should write about it, not write about, open my mouth or keep it shut. After all, I am not black. I’m white – so white that I’d give an albino a run for her money. I have no personal experience with the color of my skin causing people to treat me differently. In the end, though, one thing kept pressing on me and I had to share it, even though, for the first time, I am terrified to hit the publish button on a post.

I want to start by saying my heart weeps for the family and friends of Michael Brown. When I think of his mother, burying him the other day, my own eyes fill with tears because a mother should never have to bury her child. I am a mom. I have sons. I can’t even imagine the depth of her grief.

 

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When I think of an 18 year old young man dying, I am heartbroken because of all the possibilities, of all the potential that died that hot, summer day. No matter what choices he did or didn’t make, now his story is done. He can’t write anymore chapters in it. That is a reason for immense sadness.

While I weep for a life cut short and a mother grieving, I also weep for the rage, the violence, the widening chasm that has yawned between people who happen to have different colors of skin.

The thing is, the facts of the case aren’t clear yet. They rest in the murky waters of vastly different eye witness accounts – one that paints Michael Brown as the victim and one that paints him as the aggressor.

Regardless of which role is correct, I am still deeply grieved that this young man’s life is over. Please make no mistake that every life matters – that includes the person sitting on death row, as well as, the preacher in the pulpit. God is not a respecter of persons. His love covers everyone because in His eyes, none of us is good enough. Without Christ, regardless if we have a rap sheet or if we’ve received the Woman of the Year Award, we are all headed to hell.

I know that my view of not rushing to judgment isn’t popular right now, but the truth is, I wasn’t there. I only have conflicting eye witnesses who tell very different stories. I don’t know the witnesses personally either, so making a judgment call as to who is telling the truth and who isn’t is impossible for me.

I hesitate to even type these words, mostly because I worry about what my friends will think of me. Will they label me racist because I won’t make a judgment call? Will they think I am making excuses for the inexcusable? I hope not.

Michael Brown is only the latest casualty in the growing racial war that is building in our country, and that is what I weep over the most. The chasm of racial divide that is swallowing innocent victims while people on both sides shake their fists and rage at each other.

The thing is, there IS something – or should I say SOMEONE – who can bridge this gap. His name is Jesus and to Him every single life is precious. Every single life was worth dying for.

Jesus loves Michael Brown, but He also loves the cop who shot him.

As I have watched hatred boil over into violence, all I can think is that at least believers should behave differently, but we don’t.

We should have truth between us, but we don’t. We are all afraid of speaking the truth for fear it weakens us or gives credence to “the other side” or somehow makes wrongs okay. It doesn’t. God tells us that the truth sets us free. It is satan that is the father of lies.

The black community is frustrated, angry and scared. Moms with teenage and young adult sons fear for their children’s lives. The fear is real, and it grieves me so much that they have to live with that fear. There is a serious mistrust of the very police officers who are meant to protect. This mistrust because of the actions of a few paints an impression that ALL police officers are racist bullies and are to be feared. That just isn’t true.

White people feel defensive and frustrated, fearful of speaking about any of this because nobody wants that hated label racist pinned on his chest. We fear offending someone or inadvertently sticking our foot so far in our mouth we end up choking on it.

Michael Brown’s death highlights that there is a very serious problem in this country. As much as I want to believe the days of racism and the ugliness that follows it are over, they aren’t. As a white person, I’m not sure why I have such a hard time admitting that young black men (and women too, I’m sure) deal with being hassled by law enforcement because of their skin color, that racism still exists. Maybe it is because I am afraid of being painted with the same brush, being accused of being a racist by virtue of the color of MY skin. It feels so unfair. And yes, I get the irony of that although I will never really know what that is like.

As much as there is a problem in the white community, there is also an issue in the black community, one that nobody wants to admit or acknowledge – the issues of young black men and crime. While some point the finger at a system that targets young black men, that isn’t the whole story.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, 83 people were killed and that was only 13 more than the previous year. The vast majority of the victims were black, including a 9 year old boy who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the perpetrators were also black and much of the violence was gang and drug related. Acknowledging that there is a problem doesn’t make racism or racial profiling okay.

Years ago, when I was in college, I interviewed a young black man who was doing time in a low security prison with the goal of getting out and getting his life back on track. I remember him so clearly. He was a big, beefy guy with these deep chocolate brown eyes. He called me Ma’am even though I think we were about the same age. I will never forget what he told me. He said that law enforcement will never stop the war on drugs because when he was taken off the street there were several dozen other young men just like him who were ready to step into his place. When I asked why that was when it was so very dangerous, he shrugged his big shoulders and said, “Ma’am, nobody expects to make it to 30, and they want to live large while they are here. You aren’t going to make that kind of money working at McDonald’s.”

That was over 20 years ago and things are worse now. There is a problem when a large number of a generation of young men have resigned themselves to a short life and the only hope they have is to live as large as possible before going out in a blaze of violence.

There are problems in both communities and until we within each of those communities are willing to look all the truths squarely in the eye, nothing will change. More young men will die – whether through their own poor choices or the poor choices of others. Either way, it’s a tragedy.

This racial divide has been heavy on my heart for a while now – before I ever heard of Michael Brown. I have prayed and cried over it because it seemed like there were no answers and the divide just keeps getting wider and quite frankly, it breaks my heart.

But you know, we as believers DO have the answer. God brought me to these verses in Ephesians. “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross by it having put to death enmity.” Ephesians 2:14-16

What if Michael Brown’s death, instead of a call to violence, hatred and anger, instead called Christians to a unity that shocked the world?

What if we linked arms and stood by each other, instead of against each other?

What if we loved each other the way Jesus loved?

What if we listened and really heard each other instead of reacted?

What if we forgave each other instead of tallying up wrongs?

What if we extended grace instead of holding so tightly to our sense of injustice and unfairness?

In those verses in Ephesians, Paul is talking about the unity of the Gentiles and Jews. It was SO shocking that it caused people to believe Jesus really WAS who He said He was!

These were two groups of people who had such deep seated issues, the idea of them coming together in unity was enough to turn the world upside down.

Loving each other, walking in unity doesn’t mean that wrongs are okay. It doesn’t make racism, in any variety, okay. As my oldest son said to me after watching the movie 42 about Jackie Robinson, puzzlement in his voice, “If you are a Christian, how can you even justify being racist?” I couldn’t agree more.

With the death of Michael Brown, we as believers stand at a cross roads. We can continue down a road that leads to further division, further misunderstanding and deeper distrust, or we can love as Jesus loved.

Which will  you choose?

Blessings, Rosanne

Why I Can’t Enjoy Mother’s Day This Year

I heard about it on Facebook – not in the newspaper or CNN or the nightly news. On Facebook. It happened three weeks ago – over 200 Nigerian girls were kidnapped in the middle of the night from their school dormitory by men linked to a terrorist group.

They are still missing. Nobody who is anybody is doing anything about it.

Three weeks. Gone.

Three weeks of mothers, brothers, fathers – worried, wondering, waiting.

 

( photo with Youtube video at the end of this post)

I look into the eyes of this girl and my own brim with tears.
I look into this young girl’s solemn face and I can’t imagine being in her mother’s place.
I can’t imagine wondering what is happening to my daughter right now.

Because these aren’t empty worries. These aren’t the worries I have – if my son will catch up on his homework after a long illness or if my older son is a bit late coming home and I’m wondering if I should call the hospital. These mothers’ worries are based on bitter reality, on devastating daily life.

My heart breaks to know that a father, a brother or an uncle road into a forested area where the terrorists are supposed to be – unarmed. So he could bring his girl back.

Today in Ann Voskamp’s blog I read, “Women aged fifteen through forty-four are more likely to be maimed or die from male violence than from cancer, malaria, traffic accidents, and war combined.”

These girls were just trying to get an education. Instead they were abducted, probably sold as brides to violent men who do not care about their intellect or emotions or soul.

I sit here in my little house in a corner of Ohio. Kids are playing outside, riding their bikes, laughing. The sun is shining after a long winter.

A world away, despite a blazing sun, a winter of the heart sets in for hundreds of mothers and fathers.

No, I can’t enjoy Mother’s Day this year. Not when 200+ mothers weep for daughters that may never return.

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord delivers them out of them all.” Psalms 34: 17, 18

Blessings, Rosanne

 

p.s. You can watch a video that gives a bit more info on individual girls here.

When Life is Messy

Five Minute FridayToday is 5 Minute Friday. It’s when women from all over, take 5 unedited minutes to write about a word provided by Lisa Jo Baker. Today’s word, very aptly, was mess! You can check out other posts or join in here.

There are piles of papers and books spread across on the kitchen table.
Dishes are stacked in the sink.
A baseball uniform is still in the washing machine (remind me to switch that to the dryer, would you?)
Shoes are piled by the doorway and coats are slung over the chair by the front door.
My school bag is lying on it’s side, the contents spilling out onto the floor and my purse is propped drunkenly against the television stand.

A wastebasket overflows with tissues and a TV tray holds a hug plastic bottle of water, a box of tissues, a thermometer and a discarded hospital band.

This has been a messy week after another chaotic week. My youngest son, Brody, spent Tuesday and part of Wednesday in the hospital because of double pneumonia. I didn’t see that one coming even though he has been home sick since last Wednesday.

Of course, I stayed with him, so the things that clamored at home had no audience in me. Deadlines got pushed back and to do lists were forgotten as I sat by a hospital bed that made my almost 13 year old son looks small and frail. Eight pounds – the size of a healthy newborn – was a lot to lose.

The only thing on my mind, in the midst of the mess, was my son getting better and stronger.

It was April. I thought the season of illness was over. I didn’t plan on life getting turned upside down and everything falling into a mess. I had things planned out and scheduled so I could handle a long term sub job, my weekly newspaper articles and almost non-stop baseball.

I planned on being so disciplined in holding to my schedule so I could get it all done. I was fearful of “something happening” and messing up my plan.

I didn’t plan for something like this. I didn’t planon extra laundry and pill schedules and keeping up fluids and no time to straighten or organize or get ahead. I had no other option but to dwell in the mess.

So, I let it go. (and no I’m not going to start singing the song from Frozen) I let the expectations of others and my own even heavier expectations all go.

And God met me in the mess. Instead of freaking out which is my normal response to any kind of crisis. I was calm, peaceful. I shrugged my shoulders when I thought maybe I wouldn’t meet deadline this week for my articles. It wasn’t the end of the world – in fact, the world would keep spinning just fine and dandy without me. My focus sharpened on y priorities rather than a list of should dos.

I discovered that joy and peace is found in surrendering to the mess rather than always trying to fix it.
Blessings, Rosanne

5 Minute Friday – Glue

Today, I’m joining Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. This is when women from all over the world link up after writing for five minutes (no editing allowed!) on a specific word. This week’s word is “Glue.”

Five Minute Friday

This week has been one of those types of weeks – you know, where nothing has gone as planned and every word that comes out of my mouth just seems wrong.

I am doing a long term subbing job and had to start a week earlier than I had planned. On Tuesday, I found a cyber friend had lost her battle with cancer. 🙁 On Wednesday, my oldest son woke up throwing up. On Thursday, I spent my day running all over the place in some kind of Laurel and Hardy type farce over my car. No lie – I had not even gotten home from picking up the rental car the dealership gave me because they forgot to align my car and missed a bent strut from an accident, when the body shop called to tell me my car was ready. It would have been funny – if it hadn’t been.

Add to this, that somehow, all week long, I felt like I had been putting my foot wrong with everyone. Do you ever feel like that? I really hate to upset people or hurt their feelings. I’m not a huge fan of confrontation or conflict. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at this, but at my worst, I can dissect something I’d said over and over and tie myself up in knots over how my words might have been taken or perceived. I can get caught up in this even if I have no clues from the other person that there is even a problem. Instead, I torture myself over how I could have said it differently or if the person might be upset and just not telling me. I wonder if perhaps I should contact that person again and try to clarify or explain myself better (ever hear of digging yourself a hole – I would be the Queen Digger).

So, to say I felt unglued would be an understatement. It was an unglued type of week.

When I read the word for today in my email this morning, I thought how ironic it was that during a week when I felt everything was unglued, the word was glued.

As I sat and spent time with Jesus this morning, I realized just WHY I felt so unglued. With all the crisis happening this week and having to get up extra early, my hour with Jesus hadn’t happened. At all. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t shooting up prayers. But I certainly wasn’t doing any quiet, settled time with God. The result was a very unglued woman – me!

I also realized as I continued my Bible study on spiritual warfare, that that horrible feeling of saying the wrong thing to everyone was just another tactic from the enemy. He loves to isolate us, to separate us from the body because a solitary person is so much easier to take down than one in a group.

Because I had not been spending time with Jesus, soaking in His Truth, I had not even realized the sneak attack that was going on.

For me, the glue that holds it all together is Jesus. When I don’t spend that time sitting at His feet, I am just setting myself up to become unglued.

What things does the enemy use to make you feel unglued?

Blessings, Rosanne

When Someone Leaves an Imprint on Your Heart – Remembering Kim

I knew her as MommaK. I met her probably 8 or 9 years ago on an online mom’s board. Even though we never met in real life, I counted Kim as a friend.

Early Tuesday morning, after a long, courageous battle with cancer, Kim stepped from this life into the presence of Jesus.

meteor-like sun

Kim was not just my friend. She touched many lives on the mom’s board through her gentle, sweet ways. If you had a prayer request or a concern, you could always count on MommaK to post she was praying.

She went out of her way to post on the “lonely” threads that hadn’t gotten much traffic. She didn’t often say a lot, but when she did say something, it was always like an arrow that hit the mark. You know the type of person I mean – they don’t talk a ton but what they do say seems meaningful and important.

Kim left behind not just her husband Jeff, but seven children ages 11 up to 23.

I know Kim didn’t want to leave her family, and her husband and children were what worried her the most when it became apparent that her battle with cancer wasn’t going to be won here on earth.

When I read the news yesterday morning, I couldn’t help the tears that spilled over. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that MommaK won’t have any more posts – that she is truly gone.

While I knew that Kim was nearing her final days, I didn’t expect to lose her so very quickly. When she posted that doctors said they could do nothing else for her, she was told she had several months to maybe a year. She wanted to make a family cruise scheduled for June.

Instead, she was gone in two weeks. Two weeks is too short a time to say all that needs to be said, but I don’t believe Kim died with regret on her heart.

I wish I could explain why God chose to take Kim when she seemed so needed here on earth.

I wish I could explain why her family has to go through this pain

I wish I could explain why she will miss all those important milestones and special days with her children.

All I do know is that God is good. Even in death and grief and pain, He has a plan and a purpose. I know that while her body let her down on this earth, Kim is dancing in the presence of Jesus now – no pain, no worry, no sickness.

I know that Kim is finally healed and whole and without pain.

I’ll miss her, but I cling to the promise that one day I will see her in person – that we’ll finally meet in real life and it will be a much more joyful reunion than any here on earth.

Yes, Kim’s passing has left a gap in my life, but it has also taught me something too – living a full life isn’t dependent on the number of days here on earth but what you do with those days. Even if your days are short, you can still leave a legacy that will be remembered long after you are gone.

Godspeed, Kim.

 

5 Minute Friday – Mighty

Five Minute Friday It’s been a while since I’ve participated in 5 Minute Friday over at Lisa Jo Baker’s blog. If you are unaware, 5 Minute Fridays are where writers from all over take a one word prompt and write about it for five minutes – no editing, no second guesssing – just writing. So, here it goes.

When I saw the word this morning before my grocery store run, I didn’t know if I would join in or not. Nothing really came to mind immediately when I saw the word “Mighty.” As I ran into stores, came home and made phone calls and just generally felt overwhelmed, the word kept rattling around in my mind. Mostly this was because I felt anything but mighty.

I felt overwhelmed. In my mind’s eye I saw those cartoons where the character’s legs are spinning furiously but they aren’t going anywhere – yeah, that would be a good summation of me the past few weeks.

Then I remembered that song from my childhood. Did you sing it?

My God Is So Big
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
He made the trees
He made the seas
He made the elephants too
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
The mountains are his
The rivers are his
The skies are his handy works too
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
There’s nothing my God cannot do
There’s nothing my God cannot do
For you
Source: Phone Lyrics

In the next few months, I am doing a long term subbing job, still writing 2 articles a week for the paper, trying to get my house ready to sell, working on my 2 new blogs, and trying to decide on a job. I don’t feel mighty. I feel small, weak and horribly indecisive. I feel inadequate and scared that I can’t do it all; scared that I’ll give up before I start because it just all seems way too overwhelming.

But then I remembered, it’s really not about ME being mighty at all. It’s about my God who IS mighty. I’ve been blogging this month about our identity in Christ. One thing I’ve learned is that I’m not strong or might AT ALL, but God who dwells in me IS mighty. And He is on my side. He’s working things for my good. In Christ, I can do things that, on my own, aren’t even a possibility.

Romans 8:37 says it all, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

I’m so glad I do not have to be mighty all on my own, but that my heavenly FAther can show HIS mightiness even in my weakness.

Blessings, Rosanne

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