GOD IS SO GOOD! But the devil is an evil bastard.

 

I am using the definition of bastard that does not pertain to a persons parentage; look it up, trust me it applies. You see my husband Mark, just came through his second  round of hip surgeries beautifully. His first was a double hip replacement over Christmas.

We knew there was a problem the moment he woke from the first surgery grabbing at his right knee. He said his pain was horrible, worse than his hip.

The original anticipation and hope had been that he would feel like a new man within days and certainly weeks after his original surgery. Especially, since he had been in such pain for so many years, but if possible, things seem to worsen as rehab began.

Week after week we were assured the muscles would ‘fire’ soon and the hips would begin to work as they were suppose to, but they didn’t.

Mark got really good on crutches, but his job would not allow him to return to work with any type of crutch or cane. The four to six week hiatus from his job we had planned for became indefinite medical leave.

Mark was depressed over the situation but didn’t stop. He went to rehab, worked around our house and barns and tried to stay busy dragging his legs around with the aid of crutches. The left leg was some better but still hurt all the time. The right leg showed no improvement and continued to worsen. His doctor ordered X-rays and tests that were inconclusive; including one for Lou Gehrig’s disease that was, Praise God! Negative!

Helpless is not a feeling either of us are familiar with but we were feeling it now. Helpless. So we began to pray for answers and direction.

It was about the same time my boss changed his prayer direction too. I had noticed he was now saying, “God I have done all I can now it’s Your turn.” So we did the same. After all what other choice did we have?

Then, a few weeks ago a friend from church pulled Mark aside and began to question him about his rehab and surgery that had taken place in December. Since it was now, almost summer, all of our friends knew something was terribly wrong. After a moment Mark discovered our friend worked for a joint specialist. She told him she would have him an appointment for a reevaluation in a couple of days.

We were skeptical since other tests and doctors couldn’t find a problem but when X-Rays were taken a few days later, the problem was recognized and a solution proposed immediately.

So now as I sit and watch my husband sleep more soundly than he has in two years. Free of pain and again optimistic and excited about his prognosis I found myself getting angry. This is what we had expected in December. It would have been so much easier if things had just gone like they were suppose to!

I started thinking about the roughest moments over the past five months. Moments when we were beginning to think he would never walk on his own again and the pain was so relentless he would spend day and night sitting up in bed because lying down caused the pain to intensify.

I started asking God why and quickly the answer rolled through my mind. I dismissed it at first. I don’t use language like that but as the night wore on the thought would not leave me alone. None of this happened because God was trying to teach us or train us. God is good. It was because of Him our friend reached out to us with the answer. No all of this happened because the devil is an evil bastard.

He knew just how tenuous our schedule, our budget and our entire lives were leading up to my husband’s surgery this winter and how vitally important it was that everything went smoothly. He knew we would be tempted to ‘lawyer up’ as many friends had recommended. “After all, my husband had endured so much pain and suffering and the loss of income alone should be considered. Besides that is what insurance is for, right?”

That evil bastard knew our doctor and friend, a brilliant surgeon, was still healing from heartbreak. He knew how many friends would encourage us that “this might be God giving us an opportunity to make a little money” and help us recover our financial stability after so many years of illness, unemployment and if we are completely honest, bad decisions.

That evil bastard was a master at manipulating and aligning the circumstances to dismantle as many lives as possible. But what the devil does not know is that some of us still see things that happen as just that, things that happen, with no one to blame and no justice to seek.

So as I try to make sense of the convoluted journey we traveled these past months, of what possibly could have gone wrong and how many of our friends and family think we are crazy for not ‘lawyering up’ the only conclusion I can come to is, the devil is an evil bastard.

I will make a point to use my trusted doctor and friend again, probably before the year has ended; my knee is in need of a little tidying up.

We will not ‘lawyer up’ to extort money from an insurance system that is out of control and abused so extensively that it has damaged the very foundation of our nation.

We will remain thankful that all things work for good even the convoluted things as we enjoy the warmth and glow of the refiners fire.

And we will always remember in the name of Jesus that GOD IS SO GOOD but the devil is an evil bastard.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 25, 2014 at 12:03 am  Comments (1)  

Any Requests?

It has been a day full of requests. I have found myself most of the day with a request on my heart.

I say request because of what Paul mentions in his letter to the Philippians in chapter four starting in verse six. He told them to not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving,  to present their requests to God.  And that the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, would guard their hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

I claim that.

I was speaking with one of my oldest friends today. We have raised our families together and now she has cancer. She is again, as with so much in her life, setting an example of strength and faith that we all should envy.

She mentioned as we talked that her request to God had been for fifteen more years just as King Hezekiah had been granted in Isaiah thirty-eight.

Then she added that maybe that was not the best way to present her request since she later realized, it was during his extended life King Hezekiah fathered Manasseh and Manasseh was an evil King.

“Maybe God knew best the first time.” she laughed, but we all quickly assured her and she agreed, God does not make mistakes. Even Manasseh, as evil as he was, had his place in history for a reason.

It was only a few moments earlier I had also heard the news of a young man fighting for his life after a car accident. He is the son-in-law of a family I have loved and known for over twenty years.

He and his sweet wife have twin little boys that I don’t think are even two years old yet and they became parents again just ten days ago. This time to a little girl.

And my day had begun as it has for the last eighty-three days. Me, encouraging my husband to stay strong and optimistic. That his legs will start working again.

He had double hip replacement on December seventeenth and the rehabilitation has not gone as the doctors had anticipated.

I know there are moments he wonders if his legs will ever hold his weight again.

I told him this morning that I was asking God for a miracle this week. For his legs to strengthen and move as they once did and for his delay in healing to suddenly and miraculously be complete.

Now as I continue to reflect on the day I find myself locked on what my friend had said, as she somewhat jokingly admonished herself for using the story of Hezekiah as an example.

So I started thinking about requests, wants and needs.

All of us face trials in life. Don’t hold back. Don’t second guess yourself. Nothing is too big or too small. God wants to hear our requests.

The challenge for us is to see that our requests are not always in keeping with our need as seen from the eyes of God.

But, when we truly believe what we say we believe, His peace does come.

My friend also shared with me a request she had made to God a little over a year ago. After experiencing a miracle with her adoptive daughter she asked God to allow her to be part of another miracle.

She added that she had expected the next miracle to involve another similar situation. With another child that needed rescuing.

But apparently God had something else in mind.

I believe in miracles but for miracles to happen we all have to believe they are possible.

Do you believe in miracles… any requests? I have a few. Can you ask God to heal my husband’s legs this week?

To absolutely purge my friends body of cancer?

And to heal a young father who is lying right now unresponsive in a hospital in Nashville?

I believe in miracles… do you?

Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen

Published in: Uncategorized on March 9, 2014 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

O Holy Night

I once had ‘faith’ the story was true… then I had ‘hope’ it was true… now I know for certain it’s true because I needed more than faith and hope… I needed answers… How could we be sure the story of Jesus is real?

Josh McDowell and Dr. Bruce Shelly gave me the evidence to know for certain… the evidence that proves the text of the New Testament is more highly authenticated than any other ancient work including that of Homer… Plato… Aristotle and Caesar.

The evidence that shows the New Testament was so often quoted that the entire text can be completely reconstructed from writings of early Christian leaders with the exception of only 11 verses within 150 – 200 years after Christ walked the earth.

The evidence that shows all of the books we recognize as The New Testament were in place and regarded as the guide for Christianity by AD 190 with the exception of only Hebrews… James… First and Second Peter and Third John… long before the influence of those who have been rumored to have tampered with the content of what we now recognize as our New Testament.

The evidence is so incredibly overwhelming to validate the content of the New Testament… or as it was called shortly after Christ walked the earth… The Memoirs of The Apostles…. That one can only view the content of the text as eyewitness testimony… exactly what the apostles described it to be even to their dying breath as they were executed for a truth they did not hope for or have faith in but that they were eyewitness to.

So read Luke 2:8-14 then listen and watch the video link on this post.

History rightly recorded what happened… we celebrate it as Christmas… of course we don’t know the actual date or time anymore than we know the date or time when He will come again… but of this we can be certain… there was a Holy Night when God became man.

God Bless… Laus Deo! And Merry Christmas! LaVern

For a free PDF download with details and documentation of notations listed in this blog go to http://www.lavernvivio.com and download the free PDF Constitution of Faith

Published in: Uncategorized on December 17, 2013 at 4:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Where’s Rascal

I had to work late last night and was driving home just before dark… there is an old black man I see from time to time… usually I find him pushing his shopping cart alongside the busy highway with his little brown dog trailing behind him on a leash…  I have stopped to check on him several times and he always seems annoyed with me…. Probably because I have always stopped to urge him out of traffic… out of the rain or out of the hot sun… he usually scolds me saying he is fine and hurries on his way.

Tonight  I saw the man again… this time sitting on the edge of a parking lot in a folding chair… when I passed him something told me… go back…  I started to ignore the urge to stop but finally turned around and pulled up beside the old man.

I got out of the car and he immediately asked if I had rascal…  I had no idea what he was talking about but quickly realized his dog was missing… the shopping cart was sitting in the grass but no dog… he was looking around frantically insisting we go find his dog and I began to think that was the reason for my being there… just as I started getting information on the dogs last known whereabouts a car pulls up and out hops Rascal… someone else had noticed the dog wander off and knew who he belonged to… the two men spoke for a few minutes but the other driver quickly went on his way…. the old man began to gather his things preparing to leave and as usual assured me he was fine almost dismissing me and encouraging me to move on.

I just stood there… so far I had done nothing but apparently get in the way and I still felt there was something more I was suppose to do.

I asked again if he was OK or if there was anything I could do for him and he said he would like some gatorade… I told him I only had water in the truck… he again seemed a little put out with me as he pointed to the large water jug in his cart… and just continued to prepare to leave.

I never like to offer money in these situations but for some reason I felt this man would never buy drugs or alcohol… he seem to have a little dementia but otherwise his eyes seemed too wise for addiction… So I asked him if he needed any money… he stopped again and told me he didn’t need my money and that he had three dollars as if that would be all he could possibly need.

I finally decided there was nothing else I could do for him except pray… something I still find a little awkward to ask people but I didn’t know what else to do and thought I was suppose to do something… so I said, “well can I pray with you.” Suddenly his demeanor changed and he smiled big… grabbed my hand and said…. “yes sir… I always want to pray.” Then he said, “Don’t I know you?”

I said “yes sir… I have stopped to check on you before.” He smiled and shook his head… I think he was remembering how I had annoyed him a bit and maybe he was wondering why I hadn’t offer to pray with him before.

As we sat there holding hands I realized I didn’t even know his name… I was a little ashamed I had never asked… but all of our earlier encounters had been in the middle of traffic… in a down pour… or in the blazing hot sun…  so I asked  “What’s your name?”

The old man smiled really big… like he knew what my reaction would be and said “George Washington.” I looked at him surprised and he assured me… “Yep just like the president… my name is George Washington.”  finally I realized as I began to pray with a lump in my throat my stop was not about me blessing this old man but him blessing me… who else got to stop at the edge of a parking lot just as the sun was sitting and pray with George Washington and his little dog Rascal.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 17, 2012 at 6:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Sharing Daddy

May 31, 2012

For days I have known I had something to say but I could not bring myself to write the words. Almost as if writing about it made it real. If I could just wake up maybe I would realize this is all a bad dream but as the days wear on I know things will never be the same.

Fourteen days ago I lost a piece of my heart.

It’s been exactly fourteen days since my father, Larry Albin Wilson flew away. He was just seventy-three years old. Not old at all by some standards but when anyone you love crosses that seventy marker you know they have beaten the odds.

Still nothing prepares you to say goodbye to someone so close.

I come from a family of farmers. We are the real deal.

My grandfather started the farm I grew up on. Dad took over the reins his senior year of high school after his father passed away. Now my brother and his sons continue on.

Originally a dairy farm, Dad is a master at sensing when the tide is about to change.

He switched from a dairy farm to pork production in the seventies and when pork prices tanked he and my brother turned their attention to row crop production.

Dad always diversifies. He’s never had just one source of income.

He is innovative, always trying something new and never afraid to break something apart to make it better or more efficient.

One of nine children, five boys and four girls, he stepped into the shoes of his father rather than attending college as he intended but never seemed regretful of the path that was set before him.

He has the mind of an engineer, building and developing projects that peaked the interest of the local media from time to time.

He is a real trailblazer.

I have never spent a single day that I was not proud to be his daughter and I boast often that my dad is one of the smartest people anyone will ever know.

As I try to cope and wrap my mind around my world without his presence I simply can’t bring myself to think of him in the past tense.

You see… it occurred to me as I worked in my garden the other day… Daddy is closer than ever.

Dad loves my garden and I love sharing it with him.

Last year I couldn’t wait to show him how I had laid out the rows and what I had planted. The tiller I use was the last thing he put together for me.  Of course it’s an older model with a few modifications but I doubt I will ever use anything else. It is way too special.

As I worked, thinking over the things I would not get to show him, I began to talk to him. I had told some of those closest to him to do the same. I wanted to offer a degree of comfort to those who spoke with him most everyday.

There is one young man in particular, he thought of my Dad almost like a second father. He and my Dad both love to learn and to talk about what they know.

Dad is much older than him so I am sure he never thought he had much to teach my Dad but Daddy is a person who assumes everyone has something to offer. He listens with intent interest to anyone who will take the time to visit. Dad reads constantly, not for pleasure as most do but to learn, because learning is his pleasure.

When I saw this young man at the memorial, he broke my heart. I knew well the relationship he had with my father and I grieved for him.

At one point I pulled him aside and told him something I told only a few others,  I didn’t mind sharing my Dad with him.

Sharing Daddy is something I have gotten use to.

Over the years we have never had him to ourselves. He is simply not that kind of guy.

I have several cousins that lost their dad when we were all very young. They were the first I grew accustomed to sharing Daddy with but over the years there have been many others. I can’t say I was gracious to them all. Some seemed to take and never give but Daddy never seemed to mind.

As I stood talking with those closest to my Dad something else occurred to me.

Dad is still with us. Not just in the way he influenced us over the years but with us… really with us.

Didn’t Paul write in Hebrews about a cloud of witnesses?

This was something that had occurred to me years ago but many would disagree when I suggested those who have left this life are watching us from the next.

They would typically respond, if heaven is a place of pure joy without tears and struggles, how can we expect those who have already gone on to look back to the sadness of a fallen world?

It is just in the last few days that I think I am finally beginning to understand.

We are told in scripture that after death we will be like Christ. Does that mean we will be able to see the whole picture of what this life holds and not just the snap shot we experience on a daily bases?

In the book, Heaven is for Real, little Colton talked about seeing his father taking part in a battle but quickly reassures his father, “it’s okay… Jesus wins.”.

Could that be what the witnesses see?

Life as we know it… full of the strife and pain that began as mankind turned away from our Creator?

Then beyond the pain can they see the ending?

Or maybe we should call it the beginning.

The fulfillment of the promise made in Paul’s letter to the Romans, that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Think about this… have you ever read a story that was full of heartache but had an ending so beautiful it takes your breath away?

If you read the story again, knowing the ending, would it change the way you view the story?

Can the cloud of witnesses see the ending?

Can they see the eternity waiting for us all?

An ending so beautiful and breathtaking that the journey is nothing more than a story they have all read before… pointless in the light of the conclusion… allowing them to be joyous… cheering us on through the strife.

As this occurred to me I encouraged others to keep talking to Dad and I began to do the same.

He’s really not so far away… Just because he is not standing beside us doesn’t mean he is not with us.

We just have to share him again.

This time with the cloud of witnesses he joined as he stepped through the veil.

If we listen closely maybe we will hear him cheering us on!

Encouraging us to persevere and throw off everything that hinders us in the race marked out for us all

Until we join each other again…

Anxious to hear the words I know my father heard to the thunderous applause of those who witnessed the life he led

well done good and faithful servant… now life really begins!

I love you daddy! Amen!

 

 

Published in: Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 2:28 am  Comments (6)  

Laus Deo! The Month of May

May 31, 2012

As I write these words I am still not sure what to say. A couple of months ago I felt the same way as I wrote about a young man, Matt Waller, only sixteen years old and how he was snatched from this life in the tragic moment of an auto crash. The point of the story was trying to find a reason to praise in the face of such heartbreak.

As I sat to write the story I thought at first, what right did I have to even consider Laus Deo in the face of such tragedy? If you missed the first story, Laus Deo is Latin for Praise be to God and it is also the phrase inscribed at the top of the Washington Monument. Several times I considered not writing the piece but it simply would not leave me alone and so I wrote what I felt I had to.

It is what scripture tells us to do, to praise God even through the sadness. We are told to look for the good that will come in all things for those that love God but it is sometimes the hardest thing we are called to do.

That is where I am again today. Not really sure what to say but knowing it needs to be said. You see, the month of May 2012 is forever a part of our family history.

The month began with my husband again having heart issues. Nothing terribly major but a major annoyance and something we were hoping would stay quiet. Especially since I had just lost my job and our insurance benefits. Still, we knew we could face the renewed issue. God had seen us through this many times over the past few years.

As we began to make arrangements for my husband to get the follow up care he would need we received word my husband’s father had been admitted to the hospital to repair a broken leg but there was a problem.

Clarence Vivio, Moola to his friends had fallen from his porch the week before and had not awakened from the surgery required to set his broken leg. On May 2, 2012 my father in law passed away.

We began to make hasty arrangements to go north. My husband had worn a heart monitor for a couple of days in the midst of the chaos but his pending heart issues were pushed aside as we prepared to say goodbye to a man that had lived seventy-eight years.

Clarence had out lived his wife Rita for five years and most would say he was ready for a reunion but for those left behind good-bye is never easy. My heart broke for my husband and his siblings, especially his only sister. Is it ever easy for daddy’s little girl to say goodbye? It was hardest for her I think… or so it seemed… but having raised four boys myself, just as my in-laws had done I know they grieve differently… but just as deeply.

The service was beautiful, a Catholic Mass, topped off with a poem written just for Clarence from a life long friend and the declaration from our niece that her grandfather did in fact know Jesus Christ.

She had decided someone needed to ask her grandfather, what many assumed, just to make sure. She had told him she was a Christian and wanted to make certain he would be in heaven with her. When she asked if he knew Jesus was God’s Son and had died for his sins, his reply was, I learned that in first grade. She said but do you believe it? To which he smiled and nodded he did.

As we laid Clarence to rest conversation quickly turned to the reunion he and Rita were having. The time we spent with my husband’s family was a beautiful reflection of a life lived and a legacy left behind.

As we returned to Tennessee we began to slowly return to our normal routine. My husband had a business trip scheduled and I decided to go along. I was unemployed so we decided, why not? I could use a break and he would like the company. Our kids are all sixteen and above so we were sure they would survive just fine on their own.

We had a great time. He went to the conferences while I rested, caught up on some reading and a few writing projects. The four days went by too quickly and as we headed home my husband’s doctor called to schedule a hospital stay the next week. They were changing his heart medication and would need to admit my husband to the hospital for observation. Not exactly the news we were hoping for but after the few days break we felt renewed and faced the challenge with optimism.

The following Wednesday I drove my husband to Vanderbilt Hospital and checked him in. He was fine so I left after an hour or so and went to join our church for the mid week services. The lesson and worship time was great. I left feeling better than I had in weeks but really worn out from the days events.

I talked to my husband, told him good night and went to sleep as soon as I got home. At 3:00 A.M. my phone rang. It was one of those calls you get in the middle of the night and you know there is something wrong.

My first thoughts were of my husband in the hospital, could something have happened? I answered the phone quickly and discovered the voice on the other end was my brother in Kentucky. Our father had just had a stroke and was on his way to the hospital. He and my mother were still in the car following the ambulance. Even though my brother had told me things didn’t look good, I still felt my dad would pull-through. An hour later my brother called again from the hospital in Kentucky, dad was non-responsive and they were flying him to Vanderbilt.

All the way to Nashville I prayed. I knew God could heal what doctor’s could not so I began to ask for a miracle. I arrived at the hospital before my dad. I called a friend that has a daughter working with the Life Flight program at Vanderbilt. I was hoping for some insight as to when the helicopter from Kentucky would arrive. As I was talking with my friend my husband called from his room on the seventh floor. He could hear a helicopter about to land. It had to be my dad. I rushed into the emergency room and after a few minutes was allowed to join daddy in trauma.

Nothing can prepare you for the moment you see a loved one lying in the trauma bay at Vanderbilt Hospital. I had been there before with one of my sons after a car accident but from the moment I stepped into his room I knew he was injured but would be okay, with my dad it was much different, my fears had been confirmed. Non-responsive meant completely unaware or what seemed to be unaware but that didn’t seem possible. He was fine just a few hours earlier. He and my mom had a great evening. They actually fell asleep holding hands she told me later. He had joked and visited with his friends at church that night and had spent the entire day on the tractor in the field.

How could things change so quickly… in a moment? I continued to pray and the doctors continued to advise me there was simply no hope. My mother, brother, one of my nephews and a family friend arrived right after my dad. We all knew but continued to hope and pray.

It wasn’t long till my sister, her son and granddaughter joined us as well. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours several more family members and friends joined the bedside vigil as we prayed to God for a miracle… begged daddy to hear us… move just a little… give us some hope… but finally on May 18, 2012 at about 3:00 A.M. we let go and let God call him home.

An hour or so later I went upstairs to see my husband as my family headed to Kentucky to make plans for a funeral that seemed impossible to consider.

Daddy had been fine one minute and the next… but hadn’t that been the same for Matt… for Clarence… One minute my father in law was simply reaching out to open the door from his front porch… the next he was lying on the ground with a broken leg that would lead to his last moments with us as well.

How things can change in a moment… an hour… seven days…  a month?

In those moments how hard is it to always say Laus Deo? Especially when life can be so hard?

I think back on Matt’s parents and loved ones again and how I doubt they will really see the Laus Deo of their experience till they can look back on this life… reunited in eternity with the one they love and lost so young.

Maybe that was why I needed to write about Matt. To prepare me for my own moment of Laus Deo! Through tears.

It is a lesson we all must learn. Christ told us all this life would be hard. It is not a surprise.

And so even now as my own heart breaks…

I still can say…

Laus Deo! For lives lived well.

Laus Deo! For legacies and loved ones left behind.

Laus Deo! For Jesus Christ and the Christ like love shown to us all.

Laus Deo! For the eternity to come.

And again with a heavy heart of grief I struggle but still I say… Laus Deo! For the Month of May.

Clarence J. Vivio

July 21, 1933 – May 2, 2012

Larry A. Wilson

August 28, 1938 – May 18, 2012

Published in: Uncategorized on May 31, 2012 at 2:01 am  Leave a Comment  

Laus Deo! The Last Seven Days

April 4, 2012

Laus Deo! Laus Deo! And I say again Laus Deo! For the last seven days. The first time I really noticed this phrase it was in an email Glenn Beck sent me. The salutation said simply Laus Deo! When I saw it I thought I should probably know what it meant but couldn’t quite place it. So I googled it. Laus Deo is Latin for Praise Be to God and it is also the inscription on the top of the Washington Monument. I loved it and from that moment on I stole Glenn’s idea and began to include the phrase in my correspondence.

For the last seven days those two words keep coming to mind.  As you read through this you will not understand at first but hang in there you will.

A lot can happen in seven days. It was exactly one week ago today that I was sitting just where I am now tired and frustrated asking God for something new. Later that night I told friends about my frustration and how I had sat that afternoon for an hour on the bridge over the creek that runs through our property just praying. I was restless. After twenty-eight years my job no longer felt right. It was a good job though with great perks. I could never walk away.

The next morning one hour into my shift I was told to join a conference call at ten. I did my updates, which consisted of recording traffic reports for Memphis and Nashville then dialed into the call. Within about sixty seconds of hearing who else was on the line I knew. I had just aired my last traffic report on a station that had been as much a part of me as my trademark name, U-Turn LaVern, for over twenty-eight years.

From that initial, “we’re going in a different direction…” I heard little else. My friends asked me if I saw it coming and honestly? It’s radio. I had seen it coming since I started the job in 1984. There was never a guarantee.

The rest of the day was spent on the phone letting a few friends know what had happened so they would hear it from me, not the wind. It wasn’t until the next day, after signing my separation agreement that it really sunk in. I was off the air in Nashville for the first time in nearly thirty years.

The next twenty-four hours were tough. Slowly I began to resolve the circumstances in my mind. I had asked God for something new. I was just hoping to find it on my terms.  Since God appeared to be insisting He knew best, I prayed for direction and started looking through the job listings.

As Sunday rolled around part of me just wanted to stay home. I teach teens at my church and I knew I would have to fill them in. I didn’t want to. They thought my job was cool.

I walked into the church looking for my son’s coach. I knew I needed to get upstairs to talk to the kids but my footballer had been at a football combine all weekend. I wanted to give his coach an update. As soon as he walked up I started filling him in. My son had done well and I was anxious to see a big smile on the coach’s face but instead he just stood there. It took him a moment but he finally said “Did you get a text this morning?” I am sure from the look on my face it was obvious I hadn’t so he continued. You could tell he had something to tell me that he could hardly bear to say. He told me one of my son’s teammates had been killed in a car accident the night before. Matt Waller, Gator to his friends, just sixteen years old had lost control and hit a tree.

I couldn’t wrap my mind around what he was telling me. It didn’t seem real but as he continued, relaying what few details he knew it started to sink in. I gave him and his wife a hug and told them I would see them later in the day at the high school.

I had to let my son know. He was still at the combine with his dad. I called my husband and he assured me he would wait until he could get our son alone to give him the news. Then I went upstairs to see if the news had made it to the teen center. It had and the kids were having the same reaction as me. A look of stunned silence wrapped around them. As we started the class telling them about my job situation was completely forgotten.

As it so happens, the lesson for the day centered on how sometimes bad things happen for good. The obvious focus quickly became, how do we see that now? I agreed with the kids. I could not step away from the hearts of the parents that had just lost a son. I told them it may be in heaven as they look back on this life before they can smile and say, “I see,” but I said we will see great good as those who loved Matt encircle his family and friends and love them through this.

Still the questions and focus returned again and again to the horribleness of it all. Finally I shared with them an illustration, one of the best I have ever heard but I hate to use. It seems when this story comes up it is because something terrible has happened and we are trying to make sense of it all.

It’s a story told to me by a grieving mother. She had just lost her six-month old son to SIDS, a son that ironically would be nearly the same age as Gator right about now.

As I visited with her after her son’s death I was struck by her strength. I was a mess, absolutely overcome with grief for my friend. As we stood there talking she told me a story her pastor had shared with her that week. She said we have to think about life as a river. It flows easily along most of the time but occasionally a ripple will form from the pebbles that fall into every life along the way. At times there are splashes when larger intrusions fall into our lives and occasionally there is a boulder so large it threatens to stop the flow of the river forever. But the river of life is strong and as time wears on even the edges of the boulder will smooth as the water struggles at first but continues to flow. She said those boulders are always with us. They are not forgotten like the splashes and ripples of life but even their edges smooth and so do our hearts, changed forever but able to continue on.

As we dismissed class I decided to tell the kids about my job. I wanted them to see how extraordinarily insignificant it was. It was nothing more than a ripple or a splash and maybe even a blessing and an opportunity to take in the view from a different path.

That night we all converged on the High School, Goodpasture Christian School. The only thing tougher than watching children grieve for one of their own is watching parents and siblings grieve for a child taken long before their time.

The evening was long and difficult as the long goodbye began.

The last few days have been filled with stories, tears and overwhelming grief. The kids have spent much of the last few days sitting in Gator’s empty parking spot at school. It has become a makeshift memorial to the young man with the mischievous smile.

They put a cross in front of the tree that claimed their friend. Car and truck windows are covered with messages of love and remembrance and they are now preparing for the funeral that is being held at the high school. Matt and all the football players will wear their jerseys to the memorial and I suppose the number 59 will be retired as Gator takes it to heaven.

The last seven days? The primary election continues. Tornados hit Texas. There was a campus shooting in California and the Wildcats won the NCAA.

And so I say…

Laus Deo! For doors that close as gates are thrown open.

Laus Deo! For friends who hold us up when we don’t have the strength to stand on our own.

Laus Deo! For the God in heaven who smoothes the edges of the heaviest boulders that crash into our lives.

Laus Deo! For the precious souls that pass through this world and let us see heaven in their smiles.

And with a heavy heart of grief I struggle but still I say… Laus Deo! For the last seven days.

Matt Waller

Gator

September 26, 1995 – April 1, 2012

Published in: Uncategorized on April 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm  Comments (2)  

Why Christ Had to Die

I rotate with a group of three teachers in our Sunday morning eighth grade Bible class. We have an online curriculum we follow with topics listed on a website each week. This week’s lesson was centered on the Messianic prophecies and why Christ was born the way He was born, lived the way He lived and why He had to die for us.

One of the primary focuses of the lesson was that all of these things happened to fulfill prophecy.

Over the course of the last several years I have read most everything written by Bodie and Brock Thoene.  They are a husband and wife team, she is the primary writer and he is a historian. Together they have written novels that are so solid in historical fact they are used in many university classrooms to help students gain a better grasp of history and the life experience of the time period they are studying.

They have written extensively about the early west in the United States, the rise of the Nazi party and the Jewish people through World War II, on into the establishment of Israel as a country and a few years ago they began publishing their latest work which is a historical novelization of the time period when Christ lived.

It is within those novels that I gained a better and more significant understanding of why Christ was born the way He was born. Of course the City of David was the town of the prophecy but also significant is a historical observation the Thoene’s make in their novels.

Bethlehem was the home for the shepherds responsible for the lamb sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem. Probably because of convenience those traveling to Jerusalem opted to purchase a lamb upon their arrival and history shows that the Bethlehem community was responsible for providing those lambs. So not only was Christ born in the city of David as prophecy foretold but the last Lamb sacrifice was born among the lambs set aside for the temple as well.

The Thoene’s, also make a beautiful illustration of why Christ had to die in a little book they published for Christmas called “Why a Manger?” In this book Bodie tells of a Christmas back in 1985 when their young eve had suddenly died giving birth and left a motherless lamb. The same night another ewe in their flock had given birth to a still born lamb. Unsuccessfully they tried to coax the surviving ewe into accepting the orphaned lamb.  

Finally the veterinarian said he knew of an old trick shepherds used to help an orphan lamb be accepted by a different mother but it wasn’t pretty. It involved hiding the live lamb under the fleece of the dead lamb.

They agreed it was worth a try and after taking both lambs away the Vet and Brock returned with the live lamb wrapped in the fleece of the ewe’s stillborn baby.

The lamb was placed in the feeding trough, ‘the manger’ so the ewe could discover the lamb on her own. I am sure by now you can see where this is going.

The Thoene’s and the vet stepped back and watched as the ewe began to sniff at the orphan lamb recognizing the scent of her lamb she nudged the lamb out of the trough and encourage the lamb to nurse. Wrapped in the fleece of her lamb she now accepted the orphaned lamb as her own.

But it doesn’t end there.

On Saturday as I wrapped up our schools 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. I had about 5 minutes to grab lunch and sat briefly with a friend in the Reagan Center. Knowing Beth loved a good Bible study I began talking with her about the illustration I just shared with you from the Thoene’s book.

Beth was raised on a farm like I was but had more experience with livestock. When I finished telling her of the Thoene’s Christmas in the stable her eyes lit up and she said. “Now I know why we are having lunch together even if it is only for a couple of minutes.” she said she also remembered how difficult it was to try and get an adoptive mother to accept a orphaned offspring but knew that the key was to get the baby to nurse and the scent of the mother would spread throughout the baby and she would recognize it as her own. I looked at her a little confused not really understanding her point at first until she said, “Don’t you see? That is the Holy Spirit.”

Then it hit me, how the illustration was now complete with my rushed ‘accidental’ lunch encounter.

Christ the last Lamb sacrifice covers us in His blood making us acceptable to His father just as the still born lamb did for the orphaned lamb. Then once accepted through drinking in what the father has to offer the Holy Spirit fills us up with His essence. The more we drink the stronger that essence becomes allowing us to not only be a part of the family but to stand out with His Aroma for the world around us.

I then reminded the kids it is not our works, our deeds, our church attendance or our observation of religious holidays that save us but the blood of Christ. However, when we drink from what God has to offer, the study of the word, fellowship with our Christian family, working with those in need. That is when the Holy Spirit fills us up to over flowing and the Light of the Holy Spirit Shines

2 Corinthians 2:15 For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Happy Easter

God Bless

LaVern Vivio

Published in: on March 31, 2010 at 10:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Politics of Bitterness

I am a broadcaster, a part of the media. I’m a traffic reporter. Nothing more: Back in the day traffic reporter sometimes meant side kick, wise cracking extra or an actual place on a broadcast morning show or afternoon drive team. Not so much anymore but that’s OK it is still radio.

I work mid-days now 10:30 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. I start my day with our local Talk of Tennessee Republican, Steve Gill and at 11:00 join the Rush Limbaugh show followed by Sean Hanniety and sometimes – if I fill in during the evening – I get to plug in traffic reports for the delayed broadcast of the Glenn Beck Show.

I get the whole Republican – Conservative talk radio thing up one side and down the other. I am a registered republican but have not referred to myself as anything but a conservative for some time and now I think I am leaning towards the libertarian way of thinking. I doubt I will change my allegiance however – partly out of respect for Ronald Reagan and also because I now think it makes absolutely no difference.

My complete disillusionment with all things Republican began when those we sent to Washington forgot the foundations and principals that I always thought the Republican Party stood for. Limited government, less tax, limited government, state rights, limited government, personal responsibility, limited government and oh yeah one more, limited government!

I began to try to sort out what I could support and what made sense from what just simply went against everything I believed in. As the primaries began in 2007 and on to 2008 I hoped, wished and yes prayed for a candidate to step up that would reign in Washington and get us back on track. As someone who has watched the political circus for over 25 years from a broadcast studio I am acutely aware that far too often you have to go with the lesser of two evils. Not to say politicians can be evil but you get my meaning sometimes you have to hold your nose and pull the lever for the one that makes you the least nauseous. Wow, that does not sound good either.

As the Republican primary ran down and it became clear the Democrat candidate would be either Hillary or Obama the Republicans had a choice to make – not just as a party but as individuals in that party. Who would be the candidate most likely to win – not just who could use the media to manipulate the primary but who could win and in turn protect the very foundation this country was built on – or they could just punt. They punted and the Dems ran it all the way down the field as we stood out of their way barely challenging the clear problems and associations of who we all know eventually became our President, Barrack Obama.

So now we feign surprise, shock, and dismay as he changes the principals and the guidelines laid down by our founding fathers. We are no longer the shinning city on the hill but the village full of bitterness and selfish ambition fed by disappointments that come to every life but when allowed to fester eat away at our souls.

Let me share a personal story with you. In 1978 my sister married an African American, we are Caucasian. This did not go over well in our rural Kentucky community. It was a tough time for us. It was hard, it was not fair, but you know what? That’s life.

For many years I let my disappointment and anger feed a bitterness that lead to a self loathing and selfishness that nearly destroyed my life. Thank God – and yes I give Him complete credit – I finally moved on, got over it, put on my big girl pants and started dealing with the truth behind the bitterness. I began to see people who did stupid things that would always be stupid and good people who just failed to do anything. I learned to forgive and to ask for forgiveness and very quickly my soul began to heal.

As I have witnessed the last year in the abyss we call politics the one thing that continues to come to mind is that we are now seeing the politics of bitterness. I am certain there were times in a young black African American woman’s life from Chicago that were downright mean. I think I can say with complete certainty that a young man with a very mixed heritage felt very alone at many crucial moments in his life. There are countless stories and I suppose and can probably guarantee we have all had our share of astounding disappointments and moments that were so full of injustice that we nearly gave up.

Fortunately for many of us – something or someone came along – and like a hypnotist snapping his fingers to bring a subject out of a trance – said just the right thing or showed us a pure unselfish kindness that renewed our faith.

Unfortunately – sometimes the wrong person or people come along – and those moments of loneliness, anger and down right meanness become the seed of bitterness to cultivate and grow and fester into a longing for a “justice” so perverted that a lie becomes the truth.

There was a picture taken of Laura and George Bush as they welcomed Michele and Barrack Obama to the White House for the first time. It was so beautiful. It took my breath away as I thought of just how far we have come. I saw the beauty and the meaning so clearly but having paid very close attention to details that so many ignored I was also very concerned.

I remember what it felt like to have a bitterness bubbling up inside of me and wanting to make right what was wrong and for someone to be held accountable for my pain and the pain of any who had suffered.

I wonder now how my life would be different had I allowed the bitterness to direct my life. Maybe I would have been more ambitious but to what end? Would I destroy everything trying to remake it in the image that I and I alone thought would finally bring “justice”? I might succeed and feel victorious but behind the victory the bitterness would have lived and continued to consume not just me but everything I touched.

One definition Webster has for bitterness is an emotion or state of being caused from exhibiting strong animosity resulting from severe grief, anguish or disappointment. I’m so glad I finally realized that life is hard – it’s not fair but we overcome not by carrying endless animosity, grief, anguish or disappointment but by just being the best we can be and striving to leave what we have been handed at least as good as we got it and maybe just a little bit better.

The sad truth – there will always be stupid down right mean people doing stupid and down right mean things to those who do not deserve it – but we can’t hold an entire society accountable for the sins of the few.

What we can and must do is learn to forgive and to be forgiven – work to empower and reward the good – then get out of the way and let them do what they do best.

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 4:05 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Blog About My Blogs

If you read what I write or listen to me speak you will often hear about my families racial experiences that began in the late seventies. I draw on those experiences frequently much like my preacher does on his former military career because they had such a profound impact on my life not because the events left me with a complex or deep seated grudge.

You will find the most important thing in my life is not a thing but my faith in God the Father and Christ His Son and that the second most important thing in my life is my family.

I think the one thing I struggle with most in regards to God’s law is that in all things He comes first and that includes over my children. Granted now that they are all teenagers it is not quite as difficult. But I often wonder what would I do if really faced with having to choose one over the other? My family is that important to me so I pray for strength in all things and for a faithful family that would never force me to choose between them and God.

I believe God blessed the United States of America and all anyone has to do is take a quick look at history to see we are a Christian nation, we were built on Christian principals and God has blessed us because we looked to him.

Notice I said looked, past tense. I do not feel we are still in God’s graces as a nation and that scares me to death. I find peace however in knowing we have lost our way before but eventually found our way home when we turned from our wicked ways, sought His faced and He heard our prayers and healed our land.

My thoughts are summed up best in a quote from Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, he said:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.”

I believe we will soon remember why we are blessed and by whom and I pray we will all continue at every opportunity to stand up and make our voices heard to remind all around us, we are blessed and can continue to be as long as we give credit where credit is due.

Now that you know a little more about me I invite you to read on and feel free to contact me with any comments you may have

God Bless

LaVern Vivio
uturnrock@aol.com

Published in: on July 26, 2009 at 4:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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