In March of 2015, I wrote down the title of this blog post...and then never wrote anything else.
Every once in a while, I go through the posts in my "drafts" folder and look at them. Some are completely written. Some are partially written. Others, like this one, just have a title. It's like something will hit me that strikes a nerve...or a memory...or a thought...and I know I want to write about it, but it's either too complex or will take too long...or the timing doesn't feel "right." I don't know. I can't explain it. Most of the time, I'll read it and think, "mehhh...not yet."
And this post is too long. I know it...but, it is what it is. And I want my kids to know the legacy of faith they have.
Last year, our choir sang a song in church called, "Holding On To Me." It was all I could do to get through it without doing the ugly cry...in front of everybody. We have sung it at least twice in church, maybe 3 times...and one time, at a different church, when our choir went on a little road trip. The same guy sang the solo each time, and the choir is basically the back-up. The "pips," as it were.
Here's the first verse: "Your scarlet thread woven in my life, the only thing I find that's holding me. Your crimson blood, poured out on my life, the only thing I find that covers me. New mercies every day, new reasons that I can say: 'I am weak, but You are able. I have failed, but You are faithful...Jesus, You are holding on to me. Far beyond regret and sorrow, every sin is washed and I know, Jesus You are holding on to me...'"
It just started me thinking about the scarlet thread in my own life...the thing that is woven throughout my life...what pointed and linked me to Jesus.
I don't know a whole lot about my extended family. Being an Air Force brat, we were pretty disconnected to both sides of our family, because we lived all over the United States...and in two foreign countries. We were closer to my Mom's side than to my Dad's.
I vaguely remember my great-grandparents. When my Dad was stationed in Vietnam for a year, the Air Force said they would move our family anywhere we wanted to go. My parents decided to move back to what was "home" for my Mom...my Dad was thinking that her family and friends there, would be a great support for us while he was gone.
Which, side note, was wrong...because my Mom said we moved from a place where we had made friends and had formed a "network" of people...back to "home," and that NO ONE EVER CALLED OR CAME OVER TO CHECK ON HER FOR A SOLID YEAR. Oh, they would see her at church, or occasionally at the grocery...but, for the most part, she was on her own. Except for my grandmother who lived there.
But, I digress.
I remember going to my great-grandparent's house on Sundays for lunch. AS YOU DO. We would go to church, and then pile into the stay-wag for the hour long drive on these horrible, windy-curvy roads. My sister, Leanne, almost always "urped" on the way, and the rest of us were not far behind. She just jump-started it all.
When we would finally get to my great-grandparent's house, I wanted to jump out of the car, and kiss the ground. We would walk in the front door, and my great-grandmother would be there waiting...and she would have to give you the biggest, juiciest, wettest kiss EVER. It was so disgusting. I made it my goal, every Sunday, for a solid year, to avoid THE KISS. I would wait a bit and come in later...after everyone else had already been slobbered on...and try to sneak in that way. I kept thinking that, at her age, she wouldn't remember that she hadn't kissed me. WRONG. I also got a little smarter as time went on, and tried to go around to the side of the house...and enter that way.
I don't know how I got on this tangent. The point is that my Mom said my great-grandparents were solid, God-fearing, Christians. I know they prayed for for me, and for the rest of my family, from the time I was born.
My grandmother, she was the best. When my Mom was growing up, my grandmother was the spiritual leader in their home...because I'm not sure of the spiritual condition of my Mom's father. He died before I was even born. I'm not sure how much Biblical "teaching" my grandmother did with my Mom and her brother, but I DO know that she faithfully took them to church...and that made all the difference.
When my parents married, my Dad was not a Christian...but, because of the influence of my Mom, they would find and attend a church everywhere they lived. When I was 5 years old, he gave his life to the Lord, and that one decision laid the foundation for my life.
My Dad's parents? I don't know. I think my grandfather was a Believer, but if my grandmother was...let's just say she hid it well. She was an angry, bitter woman...when we knew her. She was critical and mean to my Mom, so I never really liked her. At the end of her life, when her body was being ravaged by cancer, my Mom took vacation from her job...and went out to take care of her, this woman who had made it her life's goal to make my Mom miserable. It was probably the greatest gift and sacrifice I can remember my Mom ever giving...probably because I was old enough to remember it. My Mom tried to witness to her, but my grandmother wasn't having any of it. My Mom even talked to the pastor of the church my grandparents attended there in the retirement village...because my grandmother's condition was terminal, and my Mom did not want her to die without knowing the Lord. His comment to her was, "we've all tried to reach her...she's not interested."
To our knowledge, my grandmother died without knowing the Lord. It's heart-breaking when I think of how she lived her life...how she had every opportunity to see the difference Jesus made in our lives...and she refused Him.
But my grandfather's brother...my great Uncle...he was something. We didn't know him very well. He lived in Washington state, and we got to see him some when my Dad was stationed there. He belonged to an Evangelical Lutheran church. Every 3 months, like clock-work, he would send out devotion books to our whole family. He would scratch out a little note about how he was praying for us, and the game was to try and figure out what he had written. His penmanship was VERY hard to decipher. This went on even after Jim and I were married...every 3 months, we would get those little devotional books. One year, this great-uncle came to Texas to visit our family...when we were all together at my sister's house over the Christmas break. It was something he wanted to do before he died. After that, my kids called him "the man with the red cane." Which, is fitting, I think. The "man with the red cane" was part of my scarlet thread.
My parents...they prayed for me. They had us in church. They surrounded us with Christian friends and mentors. I will probably never know, until I get to Heaven, how many of them prayed for me and my family over the years. My Dad, and his wife, Clara...they spend time in prayer each morning, for all of their kids and grand-kids.
When I look over my life, I can see the scarlet thread of Jesus being woven through family members and friends. Sometimes, we don't see it at the time...but when we look back, like I am doing now, it's clear.
Something else that's clear: this whole time, I was thinking that Jesus was my life-line...and He is. And I was thinking that I was the one holding onto HIM...which I was...and I am. But looking back over my life, I can clearly see that HE is the one who has been holding onto ME.
He pursued me, He saved me, and He is holding on to me.
"Your nail-pierced hands, leading in my life, the only thing I find that's holding me. Your precious blood, poured out on my life...the only thing I've find that covers me. New mercies every day. New reasons that I can say, 'I am weak, but You are able. I have failed, but You are faithful...Jesus, You are holding on to me. Far beyond regret and sorrow, every sin is washed and I know, Jesus, You are holding on to me.'"
"Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life..." Psalm 23:6