This is My "Real" Blog: Two-Fold Post . . but I think it will be worth the read.

Angie's Blog!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Two-Fold Post . . but I think it will be worth the read.

"The Least of These"

We are currently in the midst of a series of messages at church -- about becoming an "externally focused church." Taking our cues from this book. . . we are working toward that change in focus.

Randy (my new boss) talked about how we need to find a balance in our lives between doing good deeds and sharing the Good News. But, doing good deeds opens the door for sharing the Good News. It's a great process.

One of the scriptures was from Matthew 25. He talked about our need to get "outside" and reach out to the lonely, the poor, the forsaken. . . the least of these. A couple of times he mentioned these people and referred to them as people "on the margin" of society.

It took a few minutes for me to make the connection. But it hit me. . .I am raising one who could be considered "one of the least of these," and through her, my life has changed forever.

The scripture from Matthew 25 (The Message translation) says it this way:

"Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.' "

People in our society with developmental delays are teased, tormented, and ignored by huge numbers of people. And yet, every one of these special people is making a huge difference for their peers. They offer unconditional love to everyone they encounter. They teach us more about ourselves than we will ever learn from books or "experts." And yet, because of their delays, they are "marginal" people who "can't do anything to make a difference in this world."

I've realized it before -- but it really hit me this morning -- that the work that Mark and I do with DSAG is a natural fit for us. . . because of Caroline. We enjoy the people we work with (for the most part) and are willing to give our time and resources for this group. . . because of Caroline.

But, what frightened me was this:

. . . if it weren't for Caroline, would I have cared about this "marginal" group?

Let me take it a step further.

If it weren't for Caroline, and my (constantly growing) heart for individuals with Down syndrome, would I know Christy? Would I have met Melany. . .through Christy? What about Lois? Would I have to talk daily (sometimes 2 or 3 times) with Beth? Would I have fallen head-over-heels with Hannah, Jenni, Melinda, and the other "42" kids that Beth and Tony are raising?

It scares me to realize the answer may be, "No." (Although I still have this crazy theory that God would have seen fit to bring our families together in other ways. I just have to believe it!)

Growing up, my parents' best friends had a son with Down syndrome. I've mentioned Brian before. He was a constant in my life -- from my earliest memories until today. He was my younger brother. He had a disability, but he was Brian. He loved Jesus more than just about anyone I think I've ever met. He was a HUGE fan of Elvis, Superman, and he loved Raggedy Ann & Andy. He gave the toast at my wedding.

He was a part of my life I will never forget. And though he is gone, he remains that part of me that I see in my daughter from time to time -- when she squints, or when she smiles that HUGE, wide smile that just takes your breath away.

(. . . and yes, now I'm crying)

So, back to today. . .

I realized that Caroline's destiny was two-fold. 1) It is, like all of us, to glorify God and to enjoy him forver, but it is also 2) to cause me to reach out to "the least of these." She helped me see this community of people who have unlimited potential, and unconditional acceptance for the world around them. She's living out her mission by changing the lives and hearts of people around her.

So, today, I am thanking my daughter for helping me be who God created me to be. I am thanking HIM for providing this little catalyst in a 28-lb body with impish hazel eyes, and an infectious smile that lightens my heart everytime she laughs or when she hugs me, and says, "I love you, Mommy." That last one especially gets me when we're walking through the grocery store, and she just hugs me for no reason and says, "I love you. I love you. I love you." right there in the cracker aisle. Seriously. Right there in front of the Wheat Thins. She slays me.

Ah, but there's more. . .

"In His Grip"
(You've made it this far, we're almost done)

Max Lucado has used this phrase as the title of one of his books. My former boss used to sign his letters with this closer. I loved it.

This morning at church -- yeah, this was a pretty monumental morning -- I had this huge (to me) revelation during one of our songs. We have begun using the song, "In Christ Alone (My Hope is Found)" and, it is truly one of my favorite songs EVER. I have already told our worship band that they are to sing it at my funeral. You know. . . when needed.

Up until today, the line with the most impact on me had always been, ". . .from life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny."

That was especially meaningful to me this past spring as I waded through the murky waters of a mammogram/biopsy/surgery scare. Jesus commands my destiny.

And, until today, I thought those were the "power phrases"of this song. Until today.

Our youth minister's wife, Katie, was one of the two American girls that were victims of the London bombing back in 2005. You can find the story here. If you click on the story, there are two pictures--the 2nd picture is Katie, my friend. (aqua shirt)

A few months ago, she told me that the song, "In Christ Alone" is a favorite of hers. I believe we agreed that if you can sing it without the words catching in your throat, you need to have your pulse (spiritual or otherwise) checked. Because, dude. . .seriously.

Anyway, this morning, as we were singing, I remembered our conversation. As I sang, my mind drifted to our talk. . . and eventually, I remembered the bombing, and all that she's been through in her extremely young life. (I didn't know her at the time of the bombing, by the way)

Then we sang these words -- and needless to say, my throat immediately closed as I thought of my friend. . .

"No power of death, no scheme of man can ever pluck me from his hand."

She and her sister were the innocent victims of an evil scheme of men intent on spreading death and destruction. . . and they were firmly held. . .in HIS hand. And it goes without saying that I will never sing that song again the same way.

Katie and I attended the same wedding shower this afternoon. I shared my epiphany with her. We both shed a few tears. But, I have this new appreciation that every day of her life -- as God the Father watched her grow -- HE knew the destiny that lay in front of her. He knew how her testimony would impact a nation. He knew that her experience would cause words to catch in my throat today, as I attempted to lead this song. And, he knew that it would bring him glory.

. . .and tying these two somewhat-disjointed entries together. . .he was watching my life. . and Mark's. . .and Brian's. . . and Edison's. . . and He was seeing how they were all being stitched together -- through Caroline -- to bring Him glory.

I'm sorry. . . if you don't find that amazing, or at least something to ponder, then we need to talk.


Blogger Steve said...

Just another "God is great and blesses me" entry.

Just another fantastic, incredible recounting of God's blessings and care for you, me, and everyone else (including my fave).

Just another day in paradise.

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Christy said...

wow. This is a truly amazing post, girlfriend. It certainly gave me something important to ponder and pray about. Because I know God gave me Henry for a reason and I need to be more proactive in seeking out His will in that area.
Just wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

12:15 AM  
Blogger MamaChef's Ramblings said...

OK....didn't make it through that with dry eyes! Didn't make it through the song this morning w/out choking back tear...typically don't!

You know what, about the time you and Katie were talking...I glanced up and noticed the scar on her leg, and was reminded about the day of the London had to have been when you guys were talking about that! Weird, no?

12:43 AM  
Blogger Mellykat said...

Love Melly :)

1:09 AM  
Anonymous SmallWorld said...

Awesome, awesome post.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is so much good here, Angie.

In Christ Alone was my theme song last year - are you, my friend.

11:02 AM  
Blogger 20Birds said...

yoeu have completely blown me away... ah session 2 in the stepping up... or rather the homework, she asks us to think about where we would be now w/o the rescue of God, and my answer was "I would have been living a tidy neat life." ALot of my personal mistakes and lapses in judgment would have been gone i am sure but i would not know my Saviour this way... and somehow your post made me think of that answer... i have been rescued and no doubt in my mind God used Jenni as part of the rescue effort

1:17 PM  
Blogger 20Birds said...

and another reflection.. he came to be one of us... we dont often choose to become one of the disenfranchised, Mother Teresa did, Father Damien did, but most humans dont choose it... so if we are to know the rewqards that come from this, he has to choose for us... right?

3:32 PM  
Blogger 20Birds said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3:33 PM  

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