This blog is where I can pour out my heart with my longing for God.

Archive for November, 2012

Remembering Caden: a message to parents to cherish their children

Before I had kids, I thought I loved children. I suppose I did, to the best of my ability, but that love cannot begin to compare to what I feel now for children. All it took was giving birth to Meghann a quarter of a century ago to convince me that the love of a mother is perhaps the fiercest love on the planet.

In a parallel fashion, take away a woman’s child and you will see the most intense grief imaginable. My mother’s heart cannot comprehend what crushing pain would ensue at the permanent loss of a child here on Earth.

But tonight, I got a small taste of that pain through the death of a child I don’t even know.

Each day, I had been checking the Caden Beggan Facebook page for updates on a six-year-old boy in the United Kingdom who was battling a horrible disease. I found out about the child through Beth, a friend in Scotland whose aunt goes to my church here in the U.S. Each day, the boy’s dad would post “Caden is alive” as the opening message for the daily update on Caden’s condition. I was always overjoyed to see those three words of hope: CADEN IS ALIVE.

Tonight as I went to the Facebook page, the three words were missing. Instead, the dad’s daily post read:

Dear friends,
Caden Riley Beggan
Born 29th September, 2006
Died 20th November, 2012
. . . in Mummy and Daddy’s arms.

Thank you for all your support.

Caden is alive forevermore . . .

Despite the blessed assurance in the last line, I gasped aloud and dissolved into tears. Looking at the innocent little face staring at me from the cover photo, I could not imagine what the parents must be feeling to know they would never again see that adorable little boy on this Earth.

Yes, the hope of Heaven brings great peace but does not displace the grief of missing someone you love while living out this mortal life.

I read that post nearly two hours ago, yet tears still stream down my face and occasional sobs rack my body. You see, I have an eight-year-old son–my baby boy Malachi–who is about the size of a six-year-old. He is a little boy with big brown eyes, a ready smile, a delightful heart and infinite love to give.

In fact, he sounds a lot like little Caden as his daddy described him on the FB page.

As I look at the pictures of Caden, many of them taken fairly recently, I note his strong little legs and arms, ready for play and action. Just two weeks after being diagnosed with meningococcal septicaemia on October 23, those legs and one hand were amputated in an attempt to save Caden’s life.

I see his alert eyes and smiling face–taking in the big, wide world around him. But after being found lying on the bathroom floor of his home that horrifying October morning, little Caden’s responsiveness was dimmed–the eyes closed more often than not, the smile erased by a destructive disease that ravaged his small body.

A nation went pink as Caden’s story swept the UK and indeed the world. Pink was the color the Beggans hoped to see as the blackened skin damaged by the meningococcal septicaemia was replaced by healthy, pink skin. A bus was painted pink for him. Followers of the FB page worldwide donned pink, painted their fingernails and toenails pink, drew pink pictures, sent pink flowers, did whatever they could to “think pink” with regard to well wishes for Caden’s skin to grow rosily pink once more.

But it was not to be, for whatever reason. Caden’s little body could no longer fight the nightmarish disease, so his little heart stopped beating as he slipped from the arms of his mummy and daddy into the arms of Jesus.

This little boy’s plight had captured the attention of his homeland and many people around the world. Close to 45,000 people were following his day-to-day battle via the FB page.

But around the globe, there are multitudes of other sick children suffering and dying at this very moment. They may not get the same media exposure, yet their plight is just as dire, their parents’ grief just as bitter. Please help me lift them all up in prayer on this cold November night.

In my own life, I watched my precious friend Heather give birth to a beautiful baby girl who passed away a couple of days later. I saw my cousin Rosanna deliver two babies who now rest in the arms of the Father. In my newspaper job, I interviewed the parents of a teenage girl who was killed in an automobile accident. The list goes on.

I cannot fathom what sorrow these parents have known. In all of these cases, the parents were Christians who believed in life after death and knew they would see their beloved children again one day.

But even though that blessed hope fills the heart, it does not fill empty arms right now.

My first marriage ended in divorce–a bitter regret for me despite my happy second marriage. Two of my children are grown and on their own. Although I see my three non-adult children pretty much daily, there are some nights when they stay with their dad. This night that Caden died is one of those nights.

As I called to say good night as I always do on the nights that they aren’t snuggled up here at home with me, I held it together pretty well as I talked with my older son Elijah. My little Abigail had already fallen asleep, so I knew I would have to wait until she jumped into my bed early in the morning to talk to her.

But when little Malachi’s voice came through the phone, my eyes welled up with tears once more. He told me to tell his stepdad Alan and our dog Rocky good night, then he exclaimed happily “Yay!” when I told him Alan would pick him up early in the morning to bring him back to me. As always, he let his stuffed doggie tell me good night. By the time he said, “I love you, Mommy,” my voice was trembling, and I quickly said, “I love you, buddy” and hung up the phone before dissolving once more into sobs.

I want nothing more right now than to hold him in my arms. Tomorrow does not seem soon enough.

We as parents have been given these precious, impressionable lives for whatever time God decides. They are ultimately not ours, but His; however, He has blessed us with them for a season–to nurture them, teach them, provide for them and most of all, LOVE them. What a privilege is this most wonderful state of parenthood!

Hold them tight while you can, don’t sweat the small stuff and know that the love given to you by your little child is unconditional at this point–something we can usually only count on from God.

And while you hold them close, remember to say a prayer for Caden’s mum and dad who are longing to feel the warmth of little Caden once more. Wrap the Beggan family in your arms, dear Lord, and comfort them with your love.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning–that eternal morning where Caden is waiting with outstretched arms for his parents to join him when their race is run.

Yes, Caden is indeed alive forevermore. . .

Troubled by Election 2012

(DISCLAIMER: Anyone is welcome to read this blog–obviously. But since it couches things in terms of Christianity, it really only pertains to those who proclaim to be followers of Christ. I mean no offense to my many friends and followers who are not Christian.)

As the results rolled in on Election Night 2012, my heart sank. Strange thing is that I figure I would’ve been somewhat as disillusioned had Romney won.

Why? Because I didn’t vote for either of them. I wrote in a candidate who will remain anonymous.

Yes, I am a Republican at this time, although I keep saying I intend to become Unaffiliated (even have the paperwork already filled out). So some of you Republicans are saying a write-in vote was a vote for Obama. Well, it didn’t matter in my state of North Carolina, did it? Romney won here, despite my non-support of him.

I remember how I fussed at my ex-husband back in ’96 when he voted for Ross Perot. I told him his vote helped elect Bill Clinton. I need to repent to the ex for that. He voted his conscience and that is never wrong.

“But we must choose the lesser of two evils!” you may declare.

Really? Says whom? Did God tell you that? I did that in the last election and was fully prepared to do it again this year until very recently. Even when some of my family members asked me how I could possibly vote for either Obama OR Romney, I avowed that I needed to vote for Romney to keep Obama out of office.

But then came a peaceful Sunday night–the first night of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) on Sept. 30. I sat in Fowler Park in Walnut Cove with some dear Christian friends as we shared sweet treats in keeping with the Feast’s tradition. As we discussed the troubles in the Arab-Israeli conflict, one of those friends–a soft-spoken, kind-hearted woman–spoke up about the coming Presidential election.

She said that she had heard a prophet of God preach that voting for what we consider an evil was basically an evil act in itself. He preached that a Christian should vote his/her conscience and that God would cover and protect that person in the coming four years no matter who was elected. (My belief is that God takes care of His people daily but that our disobedience can open a door of attack from the enemy–of our own doing, not God’s.)

When my friend said that, my spiritual eyes were opened, and I knew immediately what I had to do. I still prayed about the decision to be made but heard nothing spiritually that changed my mind. I knew I could not vote for what I considered an “evil” but must vote my conscience despite being in a tiny minority that wouldn’t make a difference in the physical outcome of the election.

But we just may have made a difference in the spiritual outcome of the election–for us and our house anyway. Unbeknownst to me, my hubster wrote in the same candidate that I did. I had no idea whom he was going to vote for when he headed for the polls on Tuesday. So now I can truly say that as for me and my house, we stood united.

Now, for those of you who are angry already that I would call Obama and Romney “evils,” please let me explain before you log out. I do not mean that personally; it’s a cliched expression. I love both of these men as people; I simply disagree with many of their political platforms and values.

As I type this right now, I am watching Obama give his acceptance speech. I find this man handsome, charming and charismatic. I believe I would be his good friend if we were personally acquainted. I am intrigued by his life story and his dogged climb up the political ladder. I hear his talk of change and liberty for all–including the broken, the disenfranchised, the poor, the minorities–and I get excited because I agree with him on all of those things. I also admire his long-lived marriage and seemingly happy family life.

A few minutes before that, I listened to Romney’s concession speech. Again, I find him handsome, charming and charismatic. I would like to know this man that I find inspirational in so many ways. I am impressed by his many years of marriage to the same woman and by their close-knit family. (A little nugget of wisdom: if you want to know the truth about a person, don’t listen to gossip; ask their kids and see how their kids support them. That tells you all you need to know about that person, thus I paid attention to Romney’s kids’ obvious respect and love for their dad.)

So why didn’t I vote for one of these men that I don’t dislike at all? Because I see things more in the spiritual than in the physical. That is not an arrogant statement. Shouldn’t anyone who claims to be Spirit-filled see more with the eyes of the Spirit than with the eyes of the flesh?

I had to look beyond physical appeal. I had to dig deeper than physical campaign promises. My belief is that the root of a thing is what matters, the true source of motivation for actions. And I cannot make the roots of either man line up with my Christian beliefs.

Christianity is key to me in a leader. Yes, yes, I know that you will argue we must separate church and state. First of all, I probably don’t totally agree with you on what that separation was originally meant to entail. But either way, it is my choice as an American to want a leader who has a foundation of Christianity upon which to base his decisions.

Obama’s life story will tell you much about his upbringing by a mother who was once an atheist, later an agnostic. A woman that he admits heavily influenced his worldview. A woman who was probably a nice gal but who did not embrace Christianity at all–even admitting that she was somewhat bitter against it. She was even rather polytheistic in her latter days.

If you think her views are not inherent in her son, think again. Obama may claim to be a Christian, but I would bet you it’s not the type of Christianity you evangelicals or Pentecostal-type people like me bank on. But that’s not my biggest beef with him, religiously speaking.

My complaint is that he has done more than any other President to make Islam an acceptable religion. You say, “Well, this is a free country. Muslims are welcome here.” Yes, yes, it is, and yes, yes, they are. But as a believer in the one true God–not Allah–I cannot accept the validity of any other religion as true. (I realize that I will lose some friends over this, but I–like the prophet Elijah who proclaimed YHVH to be the only true God while confronting the prophets of Baal–cannot deny the sovereign God that I serve. I would still like to be your friend, no matter what you believe.)

The more we accept Islam as a “sister” religion to Christianity, the more we water down the true message of Jesus Christ who said,  “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6. If you believe the Bible, then how can you deny that there is no other means of salvation?

I cannot vote for a man who denies the message of Christianity by becoming a religious bedfellow with a false god. I can see being friends and loving all mankind in the brotherhood of man, but don’t compromise the message of Christ by accepting their religion along with their humanity.

There’s much more to be said as to why I didn’t vote for Obama–namely his views on abortion and the potential he has to appoint Supreme Court justices who agree with him on the fate of the unborn. But let’s save the abortion debate for another blog post.

Another issue that troubles me with regard to Obama is that I am not totally sold on his support for Israel. I know he has financially supported Israel and that many wealthy Jews in this country support him because of that. But I don’t necessarily trust the discernment of wealthy Jews; I trust the discernment of my Christian friends who live or minister in Israel and are led by the Spirit of God. And they say pretty much unequivocally that Obama is no true friend of Israel. He made some strong statements about having Israel’s back, but I note that he didn’t make those statements until Sept. 2012. Political pundits say that he was savvy and knew he had to have the vote of those Americans (most of us) who support Israel.

“Why does Israel matter?” you may ask. Because the Word of God basically says, in a nutshell summary, that whoever stands with Israel will be blessed and whoever doesn’t, won’t. In the end times, it will matter HUGELY who stands with Israel–God’s original chosen people that He still loves and blesses. An Israeli newspaper recently reported that Obama, despite his alleged support of Israel, has stated that although he agrees with Israel having the right to defend herself, he will not back Israel if they go to war against Iran. The day will indeed come when all nations will turn on Israel; I just don’t want to hasten that day with my vote.

Odd though it may seem, it matters more how a President stands on Israel than it does on how many campaign promises he makes to feed you, clothe you, make sure you’re taken care of. We are even commanded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I am troubled in my spirit–and yes, this is from God–that we have become a nation that votes selfishly rather than by the Spirit of God which is always unselfish. We care about our full bellies, our comfortable homes, our good jobs. And who doesn’t want that? I sure do.

But should that take priority over what God’s top priorities are? I can promise you that if you seek first the kingdom of God–in other words, seek the greater good sometimes rather than your own–all these things that you need will be added unto you. You vote for a President who fully supports Israel, and your needs will be met abundantly. Bold statement, I know, but truth, I do believe, according to Scripture.

And why didn’t I vote for Romney? Primarily because the root of his faith is Mormon. I have many Mormon friends, and I love them. But I’m not going to tell them that I believe their religion is correct. Yes, they believe in Jesus, but they have another book that they also adhere to besides the Bible. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.” Rev. 22:18. The Book of Mormon is full of prophecies that are never mentioned in the Bible and don’t coincide with God’s Word.

How do I know so much about Mormonism? Because when I was a troubled 18-year-old who was desperate for a more real relationship with God, I nearly became a Mormon, hung out with them at Carolina, entertained Mormon missionaries regularly in my dorm room, studied the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith was a fraud, my friend. Bold words again, I realize, but false prophets must not be upheld.

Even when I realized the truth about Mormonism and how it didn’t coincide with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I still loved my Mormon friends. And I still hung out with them. I admire the family values and morality promoted by Mormonism. Heck, I love Donnie and Marie like crazy!

But Mormonism is not a subset of Christianity to me. I am astounded by how many of my Spirit-filled friends begged people to vote for such a Godly and Christian man as Romney so that we could get God back into the White House. Which God are we talking about? Jesus Christ as God or the Mormon version of God? Again, that could be another entire blog post.

Now you know why I didn’t cast my vote for either of the mainline candidates. I considered voting for the Libertarian Gary Johnson but couldn’t, after hearing him say time and time again that his views on separation of church and state are such that he would never consult God before making a political decision. A so-called Christian separating prayer from political leadership? That heavily disturbs me.

So I wrote in a candidate. My conscience is clear tonight as I ready myself for bed after Election 2012 has unofficially ended.

I leave behind this election season, troubled over many things. I am troubled by the role color played in this election. I consider myself color-blind, as those of you who know me best realize. Remember how proud I was when I found out one of my Bray ancestors was a freed black slave? Oh, how I rejoiced over that! So color will never play a role in whom I vote for.

But I have white friends who wouldn’t have voted for Obama had he been a fiery Pentecostal preacher–simply because they didn’t want a black man in the White House. I’ve seen Facebook posts by some white friends tonight already that are talking about “us versus them.” Give me a break. Race should never figure into anything. If we’re Christians, we’re all of one blood–the blood of Jesus Christ.

On the other hand, I have black friends who say they voted for Obama based on his political views. But I will admit that I think race played a huge role for many of them. These ultra-Christian black friends of mine do not support abortion. They stand with Israel. They do not support Islam. Yet they voted for Obama and say his agenda is akin to theirs. If he had been a white man with these views, would they have voted for him? Some of them, perhaps; many of them, no.

I reiterate that race indeed played a crucial role in this election. When are we going to look beyond the color of a man’s skin to see what he’s really all about? MLK Jr. preached that, yet we’re still clinging to color half a century later. I pray to God that I listen to the Spirit of God and vote for a candidate based SOLELY on values and political agenda with NO THOUGHT WHATSOEVER of his color.

Both blacks and white are guilty of this, I believe. Prejudice works both ways.

If you know me, you know that I am full of the love of God. I want peace, love, joy and happiness. I am Miss Rose-Colored Glasses, Miss Eternal Optimism, Miss Love Everybody No Matter What. Well, guess what? I am still those things. I still love all of you, despite our differences. And I hope you love me, too.

But as a Christian, I cannot deny what I believe to be the Word of God. Yes, my interpretations may not all be correct, but the crux of what I said is pretty much undeniable to most Christians who claim to be full of the Spirit of God. As we draw closer to the end of time, the line in the sand between Christian and non-Christian will be more clearly drawn. We must be bold to preach the unadulterated Word of God but still be full of the love of God for all mankind.

Nonetheless, remember that Jesus said they will hate us in the end. He said that if they have called our Master Beelzebub, then why do we expect to be popular with the world? But again, no matter how we are persecuted, we must not strike back–neither physically nor verbally. Hate breeds hate and is not of God. Vile words against the other political party members or the re-elected President do not minister grace to the hearer and again ARE NOT OF GOD. We must continually exhibit His love and desire that all men may be saved. It is possible to stand up for your beliefs and be loving at the same time.

Shalom to you on this historic night of Election 2012.

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