Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?"

Oh, I meant "Who Stole the Cross and Flowers from Claire's Grave?"

Yes, I typed that correctly!!

Here's the story:
Friday, March 6th was Sarah's 4th Birthday! Happy Birthday Sarah!! We had a great day together, daddy took us to breakfast at DT's then she and I went shopping in Burnsville at this great children's boutique, she bought a necklace with a gift card she had been given after Claire died. After another shopping spree at Wal-Mart, we met Sarah's best friend at McDonalds for lunch and play-time. It was the perfect birthday!

We had decided, earlier in the day, to pick Caroline up from school and on our way home we wanted to go visit Claire. As we drove up to the grave site we realized that something wasn't right. The cross that we had placed at Claire's grave was missing!?!? Caroline and I got out of the car and walked over to the grave, everything else seemed OK, just the cross was gone! In it's place were two old Christmas baskets (not ours). We walked around but did not see the cross anywhere.

Jeff called one of our friends who is a Spruce Pine police officer and he had someone come and take a police report from us. I went back to the cemetary Saturday morning and walked the entire area and did not see any signs of the cross taken from Clarie's grave. Needless to say we were extremely upset! Who would do such a thing?

Four days later, I decided to go back up to the cemetary for a few minutes. As I drove up, I instantly knew something wasn't right!?!? I parked the car and walked over to Claire's grave, and this time the flowers that we had placed on her grave were gone!?!? Crazy!!

The detective that is working on our case is a really great guy and has assured us he will do everyhting he can to find out who has taken everything from our daughter's grave!

In the meantime, our friends, the Suttons, were able to replace Claire's cross, what a blessing to us!

You know, it really is almost unbelieveable that we have a daughter who no longer walks the earth with us, but it is even more unbelieveable that there are people in this world that would be so cruel and heartless as to steal a cross and flowers off of her grave!!

Throughout every event in my life, I try to look at what my heavenly father may be trying to teach me. I believe life is full of lessons and it's up to us to use what we learn to glorify God. In Sunday School, we have been going through Chip Ingram's R12 Bible Study, based on becoming a Romans 12 Christian.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we're talking about is Christ's body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn't amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ's body, let's just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren't.

If you preach, just preach God's Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don't take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don't get bossy; if you're put in charge, don't manipulate; if you're called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don't let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody.

Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. Don't insist on getting even; that's not for you to do. "I'll do the judging," says God. "I'll take care of it."

Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he's thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don't let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.
Romans 12 (The Message)

My prayer is to apply Romans 12 to EVERY area of my life. I want to totally surrender my life to God, I want to be transformed from what the world says I should be and look to what God says I should become, I want to pray for others, I want my children to know that I truly believe Psalm 139 and know how wonerfully made by God they are, I want to cultivate relationships that are safe and authentic, I want to be generous with what God has given me, I want to forgive those who have hurt me. This is how I want to be a Romans 12 Christian.

I am praying for the person(s) who stole the cross and flowers from Claire's grave, please join me in praying that they will be convicted of their wrong doing and the pain it has caused me and my family; but more importantly pray that I will forgive them in a way that is only possible through Chirst!

5 comments:

jbarnhardt said...

Dear Angela,
I am joining you in prayers.
Sending you and Jeff and the girls heaps of love,
Jennie

Jeffery said...

Angela,
Romans 12 is such a challenge for all of us. The only way we can be a Romans 12 Christian is through Christ living and working through us and it is such a blessing to see the way that he is working in and through you! I Love You!!!
Jeffery

Emily Parker said...

Angela,
Thank you for your steadfast faith and for inspiring all of us to be a Romans 12 Christian! My anger towards the person who took Claire's cross and flowers has changed to praying hard for them. They need forgiveness just like the rest of us. But man that is tough to swallow. I love you and miss you!
Emily

JoyNtheJourney said...

Angela,

You and your wonderful husband continue to be such an inspiration to me! It NEVER fails that, when I get into one of my pity party moods of feeling so very sorry for myself and wondering just how much more life could possibly throw at me AND my family, I end up here. It is then that I am so encouraged and inspired by YOUR courage and YOUR strength in the face of things that most people will never seriously imagine in their lives, much less actually have to endure!

You two are amazing instruments of God and I pray that you will continue to share with us all of your sorrow, tears and pain along with your happiness, joy and laughter as you continue down this bumpy road that is called life. Because when you do, you show us all that, no matter the circumstances, we have so much to be thankful for and that He is always faithful.

I'm so sorry about what happened to Claire's grave. I can only imagine how that must have reopened some wounds that were, perhaps, just beginning to heal. Please know that we will be praying for your family and for the person(s) who did this. Please keep us updated.

We love you all so much!

Blessings,

Teresa

The Rectors said...

I love The Message, but more than that, I love YOUR message! I am with you on wanting to be totally surrendered to Christ. That's the only way we can hope to have God take evil and turn it into good for His purpose. I'm praying with you for the person that took Claire's cross. I know that God will use this to bring them to Him. I love you and Jeff and the girls so much and am so thankful that I get to see you allow God to transform your lives and your family, through the good and the bad. Love and miss you bunches!