Twice Lost

lost: Unable to find one’s way: a lost child.

I was twenty-two years old the first time I lost my brother. Eighteen years later I have lost him again.

The first time he disappeared my parents left me in charge of the twelve-year-old squirt while they vacationed in Europe. I came home from college one Spring break to care for him and failed miserably in my first attempt at pseudo-parenting.

One afternoon he took off a skateboard to play with the neighbor kids and didn’t return for dinner. After searching door to door and calling all his friends, I finally contacted the police in desperation. Close to midnight, I stood in the darkness outside of my parent’s home and with tears and sobs and groans of utter despair -I begged for God’s mercy.

Something overtook me then–something holy and mystical –a presence of sweet and utter peace. And I knew God heard me.

Two hours later, after the police combed the neighborhood with dogs and helicopters, my brother was found. He had fallen asleep on the floor of the next door neighbor’s house in their third floor playroom. Somehow in the panic of the search and managing their own five children, my brother had slipped by unnoticed by the neighbor’s and only woke with the roar of helicopters.

I took my bargain with God seriously. The next day was Good Friday and I stood up at the altar call and officially sealed the deal with my Savior.

It’s almost twenty years later and in a weird twist of irony it’s Easter weekend again.

And once again my brother is lost.

It happened in the blink of an eye. He started using drugs. He lost his job and girlfriend. The highs became higher and the lows became lower.

On Palm Sunday my father called me from the hospital and choked out the horrific details.

In a violent and vicious drug rage, my brother attacked our parents and almost killed my step-mom. He was arrested for felony assault to elders and incarcerated.

My father, suffering from dementia tried to protect his wife and call 911 as he was forced to defend himself against his own son throwing blows at him.

I’ve never felt more helpless, shocked and honestly –ashamed. I wanted to hide and tell no one.

Good Friday came. And once again I stood and lifted my arms to God. When it came time to write out my sins, I sat there in my chair and scribbled one word –UNFORGIVENESS.

If my heart ever felt hardened to a human this was it. Love and hate intermingled with betrayal.

I dragged my feet up to the cross and slowly lifted the hammer to nail it in. And I forced myself to remember how much God has forgiven me through each thump of the hammer.

It’s been a long week of picking up the pieces of a family blown to bits by evil. My step-mom has multiple fractures in her shoulder and arm. She is bruised from her chest to the tips of her fingers. My father is dissalusioned, sad and scared. And even though the physical wounds are painful, the bruises to their spirit are far deeper.

To make matters worse, my brother was let out of jail on Thursday by an accidental clerical error. The charges had to be re-submitted. Once the warrant goes out he will have to be re-arrested. He was defiant upon release and showed no remorse. Although there is a restraining order, his instability doesn’t leave my family feeling secure.

In the meantime, he was spotted wandering through a trailer park high and incoherent.

Easter hit me like a ton of bricks.

The resurrection we celebrate on Easter morning means everything to the followers of Christ. We base our lives and hopes and beliefs on it.

But the resurrection means EVEN MORE to the wandering souls who reject him although they may not know or care; because in the worst of times there is always the possibility of hope and a return to the father.

Our God died for us while we were still sinners and he continues to pursue the lost until they are found. And even in trailer parks and prisons and to the ends of the earth, I believe God will pursue his lost son.

It’s not easy to share this story. It’s still raw and prickly, but I believe there are many families out there just like ours battling for their sons and daughters (and brother’s) hearts. The one thing I have learned by tentatively sharing and asking for prayer is that I am not alone in this. Please don’t isolate –reach out to your community and church for support. These tragedies are too big for you to handle alone. If your family member is suffering from an addiction and has turned abusive or violent, please find help.

–Samantha

“But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. 23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, 24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ Luke 15:22-24

 

Photo Source: google.com via Ashleigh on Pinterest

No Pain, No Gain

It’s official! I am obedient. The receipt below show’s my sincere desire to listen to God after six months of blowing him off. I know none of you would ever cover your ears and sing “La La La La, I can’t hear you, I can’t hear you…” and then do exactly what you know in your heart is defiant, but then again, I probably am the only big sinner around these parts.

So, of course it’s over something silly, my stubborn as Balaam’s Ass streak, but it has been a real stumbling block in my faith. Over Christmas, our family splurged and bought memberships to 24 Hour Fitness.

Our goal was to get healthy together and do some mom/dad/kid bonding with dumbbells. But, part of negotiating this deal with my husband included me canceling my membership to LA Fitness, which is close to my office, but nowhere near our home.

I promised hubby I would do it, but then I didn’t. I procrastinated, I put it off, I secretly liked my cushier gym and hoped Tim might forget his request.

But he didn’t forget and constantly questioned me over, and over, and over. And in response, I would quietly change the subject, defer gracefully and try to look sheepishly cute. We both knew I was being a mule and while Tim was kind enough to not force the issue, God on the other hand was not.

Now I have been a gym-rat for the last twenty-five years. Working out is my thing, my big stress reliever and what I consider to be a healthy coping mechanism (alongside copious amounts of prayer, girlfriends and an occasional margarita).

But ironically, since Christmas I have been thwarted in a million ways to find the time or energy to drag my sorry butt through the gymnasium doors. Kolby has been sick, then not sleeping, and church busyness has been overwhelming.

Lunchtime at my office was always my escape. I could sneak away and catch a run or lift weights and come back to the office sweaty, smelly and happy (possibly TMI).
But all of sudden, as lunch approached, a crippling fatigue would permeate my body and I would find writing to be a much easier endeavor. I actually started to run, for about a week, and then I broke my foot.
It was one thing after the next and I was getting sorely peeved by the non-stop obstacles in my path. It would have been easy to write off my lack of motivation to go to the gym as normal laziness, but this time it seemed like God was trying to get my attention.

On Easter Sunday, during cleanup of the worship service, I accidently kicked a large (lifesize) wooden cross while carrying the baby and a chair. I didn’t see it and wham-delerious pain.

A week later, I was chasing the baby in the church sanctuary when the lights were dim and hit the offering box hard, with the same foot. This time, my whole foot swelled up and turned black.

When I went for x-rays, they confirmed my foot was indeed broken, but it was the cross that had been the culprit, the offering box merely did it in.

Clearly, God was speaking. Maybe the donkey didn’t talk, but the pain in my foot communicated a message. I just didn’t know what it was.

One morning, I decided to test my wobbly foot with a stroll and confessed my frustration to the Lord. And the response I got was humbling, to say the least.

Me praying, “Lord, I’m so bummed…(wah, wah, wah).”

God to me, “Sam, have you ever considered that when you defy your husband you defy me?”

And this was the moment of epiphany. Truth illuminated the boulder of pride lodged in my selfish heart and tears streamed down my face as I lifted up my hands and sincerely repented. (Now don’t forget I am out walking in Ladera Ranch with a stroller)

It was one of those shameless moments in life where I simply wanted my heart to be right with God, and could have cared less if people passing by thought I was a nut.

When I arrived home, I immediately got on the horn and called LA Fitness. Ultimately, I had to go to the gym and cancel in person because, as easy as it is to sign up, they make you go through a thousand hoops to cancel.

When I shared the story with hubby he got very excited and laughed in delight. “Doesn’t if feel good to obey your husband?” he asked.

“Sort of,” I replied. ” But, I don’t really think this was between us.”

I thought to myself how hard submission is, even to a wonderful man. It doesn’t come naturally. But the reward is the sweet serenity of walking in obedience to God.

Receipt for Membership Cancellation

Today’s Date: 6/2/2011
Customer #: 1xxx04
Membership Barcode #: xxxxxxx
Member Name: Samantha Adams
Dues: Too much!
Final Billing Date: 5/15/2011

This confirms cancellation of your membership. This membership will expire on 7/14/2011 and includes application of your pre-paid dues at the time of enrollment. The member is entitled to use of the club through that expiration date. If you have a balance due, it will automatically be charged to your account on file with us, on or after your next regular scheduled billing date, pursuant to the authorization you previously provided.

If you have any questions regarding this notice, please call your local club during normal business hours.

Thank you for choosing LA Fitness.

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