Half -Naked and Picking Weeds Part 3

(Please note: If you haven’t read part 1 and 2 of Half Naked and Picking Weeds, I suggest you scroll down and read those first as this is a continuation of it.)

 

I asked Vanessa what she wanted everyone to know. Before the words slipped from her lips, she closed her eyes to concentrate on forming them. “Every day counts,” she said. “I want them to know, every day counts.”

   Every day counts. Even the humdrum days?  Even the days when the kids are driving us cray-cray?  Even the days we can’t wait to slam our bedroom door and disappear under the cool sheets because the to-do list whipped our butts? Even that day when her head is wrapped in cold rags and she has to wear sunglasses because her eyes hurt from a cancerous tumor pushing against her skull? She would tell you…yes, even that day.

            I’m convinced there are days of our lives that count more than others. They weigh more in value on eternity’s scale.

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          The doctor didn’t lie when he said rotator cuff surgery was painful. I’d given birth to four children and after surgery the pain sent me moaning on the floor rocking back and forth. He’d stated my arm was so tore up it looked like an eighty- year old woman’s with an old tear and new. For six weeks, my arm was in a bulky sling and I couldn’t hold my baby, so I borrowed Vanessa’s arms.

            You can’t help but get personal with someone who’s loving your baby. Her affection for Bella built the foundation of our friendship… our sisterhood. One day she casually mentioned that she worshipped the Hindu gods, Allah, and the Christian God.

            I laughed. “What are you doing covering all your bases?” I said.

            “Oh my gosh!” She burst out laughing. “Yes, I want to be sure I get it right. Besides, I think they’re all the same anyway.”

            “You should look into the characteristics of each of them, that’s how you’ll know if they are the same,” I said. “I think you’ll find the Christian God is far more personal. He’s the only one out of the bunch that gave His life for mankind. He’s the only One who loves us whether we love him or not.”

            I walked her out that day and knew when I closed the door, God just opened one.

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Doors in Rome, Italy

            The next afternoon, “So, how do you worship all three gods?” I said.

       “I have three altars in my apartment. I’m drawn to the Christian God, so I go to church on Sunday, but I have a Hindu altar, an Allah altar, and an altar with a cross. I pray at each.”

            “What do you pray about?”

            “I just want some direction you know?  I want to know what I should be doing in my future,” she said. “I’d like to use my experience with cancer for something good now that I’m healed.”

          It amazes me when God opens a door. Sometimes, it’s just a crack, while other times it is thrown open so wide the light is blinding. Soon after, over the phone my father told me what he taught in Sunday school that week, the story of Paul’s travel to Athens.

            “When Paul arrived in Athens he noticed all the gods and altars scattered around the city,” Daddy said. “but there was one altar titled the “Unknown god,” and Paul stood before them and told them about that God, our God. You see, baby, they were trying to cover all their bases, as many people do today, but in doing that, they are lost.” (Acts 17: 16-34)

I was blinded by the light.

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The next day, Vanessa sat across from me at the kitchen table. Praying she’d understand, I slid my open Bible across the table. “Before you go, I want you to read something.” I pointed to the passage.

            After she finished, her eyes widened. “Oh my gosh! That’s me!” she said.

            “You said, you were praying for guidance and for your next purpose in life. How can God lead you if you haven’t made Him Lord?”

            She nodded.

            “I don’t want you to do anything for me, but you need to think about that,” I said. “God will never lead you if He’s not in the lead.”

            She promised to think about it. I wasn’t there the day Vanessa chose to make Jesus Christ her Lord. God placed the seeds in my hands, I pushed them under the soil, and moved on to tend to the weeds of life, but God sent others to water it.

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            After I recovered, Vanessa remained Bella’s babysitter one day a week until Bella started preschool.  Jay, my husband, then hired Vanessa to work at the office for him and his brother Shaun. She was so happy to be back behind a desk. One Thursday morning, Jay stopped by her counter.

            “Why are you sitting there?” Jay said. “Come join our Abiding study in the conference room.”

            “Really?” She jumped up and followed him.

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Vanessa’s desk at the office.

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            She sat in a men’s Bible study every Thursday morning learning how to Abide in Christ. Between Jay and Shaun his brother, Vanessa had two very determined men pouring Jesus into her on a daily basis. She told them she’d made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord.

            It was then…the cancer returned.

            Last week, I wanted to hear from her own lips she’d made a decision. I swabbed her bald head with a cold cloth. Our relationship had come full circle I was now at her home.

            “The last time we discussed God, you told me you’d think about it. Did you?” I said.

            “Yes, I chose Christ.” she said.

            “Did you tell Him that? Ask Him to take your life?” I said.

            “Yes, I did.”

            “You’re undertaking the most important assignment of your life, but you know that don’t you?” I said squeezing her hand.

            Vanessa nodded. “I do.”

            “You are just as much a sister to me as Tricia was. Our relationship is eternal.”

            “Really?” she said.

            “Yes, in fact if Tricia wasn’t a Christian you’d be more of a sister to me.” I hugged her.

 IMG_2962       I’ve never seen a faith so strong in someone so new to it. How does she know He’s a loving God when as soon as she gave her life to Christ, her cancer returned? I’ve pondered this. I’ve asked God why didn’t He allow her some healthy years to use her faith for Him.

Then, I glance at Vanessa she’s filled with a peace that is not human. She knows God loves no matter what she’s going through. If anything in this life can give us comfort, it’s this…our circumstances are never indicative of God’s love.

            What a relief! Having a bad day? God loves you! Husband’s left you? God loves you. Your son has passed away? God loves you! Your addicted to drugs or alcohol? God loves you. You’re sick with cancer? God loves you. Praying to the Hindu gods or Allah? God loves you right where you are. Vanessa’s proof of that.

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            It’s time to harvest at the farm. There are rows of heavy vegetables curling the stems. I don’t know about you, but there’s something satisfying about snapping them off and filling a bucket. We load them in the back of the ATV and drive them up to the farmhouse. In the sink, we wash them one by one, preparing them for the job they were born to do. Nourish.

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            Just like those vegetables waiting to be plucked off the vines, Vanessa’s story will become someone else’s spiritual nourishment. In time, someone will be walking ankle deep in the dirt and weeds of this world and feeling empty. They’ll wonder is this all there is to life? They’ll witness the light and color of a young woman’s faith and want to consume the invitation of salvation for themselves. The circle of life is eternal.

When Vanessa’s time comes, I’m so sure Tricia will run up and greet her at the gates of heaven. “Vanessa! I’ve been waiting for ya. What took you so long?” She’ll give her a hug with a hard pounding on the back. “Welcome home, sister. Welcome home.” She’ll wrap her arm around her shoulders. “So you gotta tell me, is Tammy fat? I sure hope so.”

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If you would like to donate to Vanessa Raghubir’s Go Fund Me Page, please click on the link below. She is in need of some financial aid. The Go Fund Me page needs to be updated it is from her first diagnoses of brain cancer, but the need is even greater with the second. Thank you and God bless you for helping someone you don’t even know.

https://www.gofundme.com/i3nnns

God Uses Bathrooms

God likes small spaces. Recently, I spoke to a MOPS group of about sixty women about relying on God in the midst of a sorrowful season. I was so nervous I took a barf bag up to the podium with me (more as a joke, but I did feel like barfing). I wasn’t nervous about speaking, but because of the intimate subject- my sister’s suffering and her dependence on God through it.
At her funeral, I delivered one of her eulogies and although the number of attendees was much greater, so was the space. The space of the auditorium actually eased my nerves, because it wasn’t as intimate as this MOPS group.
Here, was a group of ladies whom may have met Tricia or read her blog, but did not really know her, and it was up to me to describe her journey with cancer. I didn’t come through it a champ, I teared up in those dark shadowy parts, but in one of those choked-up times, I looked up and breathed. When I glanced back across the room I saw all of them crying. They got it! If there is one feeling that’s universal in this world it’s sadness.
Suddenly, I knew I wasn’t alone, they could feel the heavy and the light memories with me, and relate it to their own experiences. Words are powerful!
I stepped off that stage and by nightfall berated myself for all the things I didn’t include.You see, I set my notes aside and spoke from my heart. Since then, God has assured me I said everything He wanted me to, and has nudged me to write a book about her story.
Today, I wanted to share a statement I had written in my notes for my speech that day.
Where you place your hope, will be the source of your joys.
Some of us put our hopes in our children. Our joy will be gone the moment we become empty nesters or they enter into rebellion. We will look at the young moms with toddlers and be filled with envy.
Some of us put our hopes in our achievements, and when we loose our job, our health, or our mental capacity, our joys are lost with it.
Some stack their hopes on their husband’s shoulders, and when it becomes too heavy for them, they toss it aside. Where will your joy be when his eyes behold another?
Some place their hopes on their wealth and their name brands, only to find themselves in debt or without a job.
God forbid, some of us place our hopes in our government. For those, watch out!
The only place that’s a safe shelter for our hopes is Jesus Christ. He is the source of pure joy. Our joy is our light in a dark world.

I taught Sunday School one Sunday to a group of girls. They sat in a circle on the floor and I turned out the lights. I handed each one a candle and placed large candle in the center of us. It probably appeared I was leading a seance.
“What do you notice about the room?” I said.
“It’s dark,” They said.
I lit the large candle in the center of us. “Jesus came to the world, died on the cross, and rose again, so we can have the Holy Spirit inside of us.” I leaned my taper’s wick into the flame. “Then, on October 12, 1975, Ms. Tammy gave her life to Christ. I placed my life and my hopes in Jesus Christ.”
“Years later, Miss Tammy becomes a Sunday School teacher and she leads Jenny to Christ. I lit Jenny’s candle. Then, Jenny tells Lauren on the playground at school, and Jenny asks Jesus into her heart…” Jenny lit Lauren’s candle. Around the circle it went until each of their candles were lit.
“What do you notice about the room now?”
“The room is no longer dark,” they said.
“Exactly!” I said. “When we place our hopes in Jesus Christ, we become the light in a dark world. Imagine if there was standing room only in here, and everyone had accepted Christ. There would be no dark corners.”

Lately, I’ve forgotten that. I’ve been in a stupor about the transgender bathroom thing at Target. If you don’t know what I’m talking about you must’ve been stuck under a large piece of furniture for a couple of weeks.
I posted on my Facebook “Target doesn’t need my business.” It wasn’t as much the transgenders I worried about, as much as it was any sexual deviant could walk in the ladies room, and no-one would look sideways at him. How will I protect my daughter the day she wants to go to the bathroom alone? The announcement put me as a mother of a daughter, in fear.
You see, I forgot who I belonged to. I belong to the King and Creator of this universe, and I have nothing to fear in this world!
When I take my hopes off Christ and place them on others, fear runs rampant.

Did you know Jesus lived in an extremely dark, immoral world, just as we do today, but Jesus didn’t allow social norms to dictate his relationship with people. He sought the social outcasts of His day and offered them hope through redemption. In fact, the religious leaders became angry to find him dining with them….I imagine in a small, intimate space.
Today, I recant my former position. I’m going to be the happiest door holder and towel hander- outer Target has ever seen. Perhaps, the only place a transgender will have contact with Jesus is through me in the ladies room. God is tearing down these large comfortable walls we build around ourselves, and putting us in small places, face to face with people we may not agree with, but we are commanded by Him to love. Funny, how God can use small spaces like that.
Think about it.

John 14:6-7: “Jesus told him. I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come unto the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”