Untethered!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 30, 2015 by jimheinze

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A couple of months ago Pastor Jeff and I were talking and I was trying to explain my emotional condition. I was struggling with a good definition as to what I was feeling, when he came up with the word “untethered”. Wow! That described my state completely. Untethered! No restraint. Disconnected. What a weird feeling. I imagined a space walker and the feeling of security when tethered to the space craft. Because without that tethering one would drift. What a sinking feeling in your gut! In our marriage, Linda and I were tethered. We were tethered physically. We were together all the time. We enjoyed each others company. Pretty much since that day I met her in high school. We were tethered in marriage. We were tethered raising our three kids. And her last couple of years with our many weekly trips to Kaiser. Joined at the hip if you will. We were tethered spiritually as well. Both of us in ministry serving the Lord together. Fifteen years of ministry in the U.K. Serving together at New Hope.

But now? Life seems at times untethered. My companion isn’t next to me. As one friend said it’s like my whole right side of my body is missing. It’s a very strange feeling. I know I am tethered in other areas though. My children, my church, my friends, and most importantly, my God. His word says, “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,” and “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. I am tethered to Christ and that gives me hope.

Every once in a while I get that “drifting” feeling. That untetheredness.  But I will lift my eyes and see just where my help comes from. My help comes from the Lord.

Loneliness

Posted in Uncategorized on March 21, 2015 by jimheinze

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I guess loneliness is the hardest thing for me right now. It’s been 7 months since Linda left and I’m still not used to it. I know, you say, it will take time. While I understand that in my intellect, my emotions still refuse to agree. I find myself carrying on! More to the point, pressing on.  I go to the store for groceries. I still have to clean the house. Laundry has to be done. The yard needs care. Life goes on and things still need to get done. Nothing stops to wait. Time does not stop or stand still.  When I say loneliness I’m not talking about needing a companion. I had one. I had a “until death do us part” one. And death parted us. Way sooner than I would ever have imagined but it did. I’m not talking about finding a friend. I had one. Since high school we did everything together as friends. She was my best friend forever! Now she’s gone. So when I say loneliness I’m saying that I miss being with her. I miss doing things together. I miss going on trips and even grocery shopping together. I’d give anything to make another trip to Costco with her. It’s that loneliness. I something wander around the house remembering her being in her office on the computer (picture above) or sitting on the couch playing Candy Land on her iPad. I miss the discussions on scripture and what the Lord is doing at New Hope. I miss seeing her in the kitchen whipping up some incredible meal with the most simple of ingredients. As I drive by Kaiser Hospital, I remember the many chemo trips and blood draws. I look up at the top floor and remember her in the ICU and how happy she was to come home from that horrible infection. Only to pass away a week later. While I still have friends, family and church to talk with and visit, it isn’t the same. At some point, everyone goes their way and I go mine. And that’s the way it must be. I get that. I’m certainly not angry about that. Nor am I looking for pity. I’m just lonely. No one can “fix” it. It has to happen. I have to go through this. There is no other way. So I press on.

A good friend suggest to me last week that I am depressed. No, he didn’t suggest it, he said that I am depressed. I disagree. While I may have some times of depression (who doesn’t), I am not depressed. I am hopeful. Hopeful that my walk with Christ will continue to be strengthened. Hopeful that God will have His way in my life and ministry as a worship leader and pastor. Hopeful that as I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me. Hopeful that when it’s my time to stand before Him I will hear “well done good and faithful servant”.

Linda once taught that we continue to look for our Garden of Eden here. Well, she said, it isn’t here, it’s in His presence. Here there are thorns, weeds, and corruption. I remind myself that that is where I’m headed. Some day my loneliness will be healed.

Am I going crazy?

Posted in Uncategorized on March 4, 2015 by jimheinze

I guess if you were to follow me around for the day, or perhaps get some kind of a glimpse into my brain, you might think so. You see, I spend a lot of my alone time talking to Linda. While I’m driving, or just sitting here in my living room. I talk to her when I go to bed every night. I tell her just how much I love her and miss her. I tell her how much is wish she was here with me.  I don’t know what she hears, or if she even hears me. We like to think we know, but I also know that there is a lot of hypothetical stuff out there about those who have left this world and what they know or don’t know, or experience. But with all that aside, I still talk to her. But she never talks back or answers my questions. I only have what she said before she left. “You’ll be okay” was her  usual response to my despair of losing her. I guess I will be okay. In fact, I know I will. I talk to her while I’m shopping at Walmart for toothpaste. When I see the deodorant that she would buy. Or the Slim Fast Low Carb drink that we would always hope was in stock. I drive by Union Bank and remember going through the drive through and hear her telling my the deposit amount to punch in on the keyboard. I ask her “do we need to pull in”? No reply so I drive on by. After all,  I talked with her for forty seven years! Come on, that’s a long time! And now, she’s silent. It’s a one sided conversation. It feels weird. It is weird. I’d give anything to sit on the couch and converse again with her. Or have her in the car next to me to do our weekly shopping at Trader Joe’s.  But that’s not going to happen. So, follow me around if you wish. Think me crazy if you must. But I’ll keep on talking to the love of my life. Am I going crazy? I don’t think so.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” I will continue to trust in God’s faithfulness. He is my hope. Oh, and I talk to God all the time too.  Love ya babe.

Happy Birthday Week!

Posted in Uncategorized on March 1, 2015 by jimheinze

IMG_0445A few years ago Linda and I started celebrating our “birthday week” instead of just one day, we would celebrate the whole entire week! It was fun. She would plan a small get a way or a day trip to Half Moon Bay or Lake Tahoe. We would start on Sunday after church. What usually happened was that we would get together with family one day during the week and friends at different times in the week. We would often, just the two of us, go out to a local restaurant and celebrate as well. Over the last couple of years we started going to Zocalo’s here in Mid Town Sacramento. That became Linda’s favorite restaurant. I passed by there a couple of months ago and it was difficult. I can hear her saying, “this is my birthday week” even now. It was just one year ago that we were there to celebrate her 62nd birthday. I would always let them know that it was her birthday (to her embarrassment) and they would bring out a dessert with a sparkler on it. Toward the end of the week she would announce that her birthday week was ending and I would share that mine would be here in July. We would always look forward to our birthday weeks. Happy birthday week babe! I love you.

Broken

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22, 2015 by jimheinze

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It’s been six months since Linda’s passing into glory. In some ways it’s been a blur and in other ways time has crept at snail’s pace. My life is changing constantly as I continue to press on. I miss her with every waking moment of time. I was talking with a long time friend a while ago, who brought to my attention that they felt that I may not like them any longer. That our friendship was strained and maybe over. My friend said that they felt like they lost two friends when Linda passed. While I certainly never intended for that to happen, I was blessed that they brought that to my attention. I told my friend that I a broken man. I think that was the first time I was able to say those words. While I’ve been honest in sharing that I’ve been hurting and healing at the same time, it was strange as I heard those words coming from my mouth. I’m broken. I believe that when I said that, God started healing me even deeper. I’m now trying to figure out, I told my friend, who I am. I’m different now. I’m changed forever.

There are three times of my life where I believe my personality has been majorly changed. The first time is when Linda and I were married. I left my family and started my life with her. Who I was in our new marriage was being redefined and of course that was true for her as well. We were learning to live together in marriage and mesh our personalities. It wasn’t always successful! We struggled and sometimes fought. But little by little we began to build our “married” personality. And all the while keeping our own pieces of personality. Fast forward eight years. The second time of personality change is when we came to the saving knowledge of Christ. Both of us surrendered our hearts and lives in commitment to serve Jesus. God then began a work of changing us. Once again our personalities began to develop not only in relationship to each other but in relationship to Christ. We still kept the bits and pieces of our old selves but allowed them to be changed and redefined. We set a course to serve God together and we did. We ministered as a team for around 30 years. While our relationship wasn’t perfect it was good. Really good. We grew together spiritually and emotionally. Yes, we were connected and intertwined. At Linda’s celebration people mentioned that it was always Jim ‘n Linda.  Then six months ago things changed again. Linda was gone. No longer by my side. No longer growing together. Our personalities no longer melding together in life. She is gone and I’m still here. I’m still here and yes, broken. As I told my friend, I’m now trying to figure out just who I am. Who am I? Linda and I were so close and “grafted” together that I’m somewhat lost. I’m sure my personality will change yet again for the third time. God will continue to work in me to make me who He wants me to be. He will continue to heal me, fix me and basically put me back together again.

I know I’m not alone in this journey. I have the greatest support from my family and my church family and friends. I’m surrounded by people who I know love me and want to help me come through this. My pain often creeps up on me at the oddest of moments. Sometimes sadness sweeps over me at an unusual moment. I may say something through my pain or sadness that may not sound like the old Jim. For that I apologize in advance and ask for grace. In one since, the old Jim is gone. He went with Linda. The new Jim is here being worked on and changed, redefining just who I am. But right now, I’m broken. I will get through this but I’m sure I will always limp. At least until that day when I’m reunited with my love of 47 years and that brokenness is completely healed.

Valentine’s Day

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2015 by jimheinze

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Linda and I were never really much on the whole Valentine’s Day holiday. We really tried to celebrate our love as often as possible. Sure, sometimes we would go out to dinner or exchange cards. I still have the little frog I got for her one year. But mostly we tried to show our love everyday. Linda wasn’t one who liked jewelry either. In fact every time I would buy her something she would usually put it in a drawer! Except the diamond studs I got for her one Valentine’s Day years ago. She wore those pretty much every day but everything else usually went into the drawer. She wasn’t a big chocolate eater either. But she enjoyed the Lindt Chocolate Truffles at Cost Plus. She would buy 3, eat one in the car and throw 2 in her purse for a “surprise” later. Valentine’s Day is here now. The first one I’ve been without her for 47 years. It will come and be gone. Time will continue to move on. Then before I know it, there will be another one. And I will miss her again. Happy Valentine’s Day babe. I love you.

23 Sundays

Posted in Uncategorized on January 25, 2015 by jimheinze

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Today it hit me as I was coming home from church. Linda won’t be there when I get home. Because we would usually took 2 cars, she would be home when I arrived (I tend to stay late!).  I know, it’s been 23 Sundays, but for some reason today was harder. In my “flesh” or in the “natural” I don’t know how to make it. I don’t know how to keep going. I really miss her. I don’t mean to sound selfish, and I’m not soliciting sympathy. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is hard. We sang a song this morning called Sweetly Broken. I know God allows breaking to bring us closer to the cross. Anyone who has purposed to be a disciple has to allow the breaking. After all, Jesus said, If we want to follow Him we need to deny ourselves and take up our cross. Could He really mean what He says? Or is He playing some cosmic practical joke with our emotions or lives? Listen, it hurts to follow Christ. Anyone that tells you different is short changing you. But He does meet us and as Psalm 40 says takes us from the miry clay and places us on a rock. He does put a new song in our hearts. He does say, blessed it the one who trusts in Him. So I will trust, I will sing, I will continue to put Him first in my life and in the end be changed from glory to glory. May my life continue to reflect Christ in love and compassion. That’s what I receive from Him and that’s what I shall give.
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Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.

Sunday is the hardest

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2015 by jimheinze

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Everyday is hard but it seems that Sunday is the hardest. Linda and I were so intertwined with church, worship, and fellowship that the scripture about one flesh was never more true. I have to get to church early to get ready for the service so we would usually take two cars. After music rehearsal I usually stand out front and greet while others arrive for worship. Linda would pull up and park and we’d walk in together. At 10:30 the worship band would start and within a few minutes I would see her in the front row, (usually with her shoes off) hands raised, eyes closed, head back in total worship. She so loved to worship the Lord and was such an example of someone lost in His presence. After the music I would join her and fill the empty seat beside her. When the service ended she would usually bring me a snack or treat from the fellowship hall as I was always busy talking with and meeting people. She would usually leave for home after about half an hour (or we would join others for lunch). When I  later arrived home she would be here waiting. We may go out for the evening or hit the grocery store for needed items. We would most often sit and talk about what the Lord was doing or how He was moving in the church. Sundays are just so different now.

Don’t worry, be Happy?

Posted in Uncategorized on January 18, 2015 by jimheinze

Dont_Worry_Be_HappySo, how do you now look at James 1:2 which says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds.” I was asked this question by a wonderful friend and Christian brother the other night, in light of my current situation,  I’ve ministered on that and other verses like it for years as I traveled singing and preaching. It’s interesting that James didn’t say be happy in your trial. Happiness is different than joy. Do we think even Jesus was happy going to the cross? In fact, He prayed if it be possible let this cup pass. But the writer of Hebrews says that “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. To begin with, joy is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The foundation of a believer that walks with God in constant communion. The seed of change (or sanctification) in a Christian’s life. Happy is conditional. Happy is fleeting and depends on circumstances to be maintained. Two different words. Does God want us to be happy? Perhaps but He never promised to make me happy. The word happy is in the New Testament but it appears to be used surrounded with conditions. 2 Corinthians 7:13 We have been greatly encouraged by this. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind at ease. 2 Corinthians 7:4 I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles. Luke 15:32 We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” He did, however, promised to develop the fruit of joy in my life. I’m I happy about my current circumstances? No I’m not happy. But I do have a joy in my soul. There  are some other verses that I continue to wrestle with. Like the verse in James that says the prayer of faith will heal. (James 5:15)  I know and I’ve been told that Linda is ultimately healed in the presence of the Lord. While I believe that, I still expected to see her healed physically. Just being honest here. She obviously wasn’t and so I’m not happy about that. But! I have a joy deep within that says God is still in control and He still loves me and He still knows the beginning from the end. I will trust Him through this trial and if James is right, and I’m sure he is, patience will be worked in my life through this trial and I will mature in my faith. (James 1:2-4 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.) Happiness will come and go throughout the rest of my life but my joy in the Lord will be strengthened and deepened. I will no doubt walk closer with Him which is His ultimate goal for me anyway. As Oswald Chambers says, “Holiness, not happiness, is the chief end of man.” But right now? No, I’m not happy.

The Spirit of Christmas

Posted in Uncategorized on December 24, 2014 by jimheinze

IMG_1099You hear it all the time during this time of the year. “After all, that’s the true spirit of Christmas”. When someone helps another. When some nice and unexpected deed is done. When some family member is reunited with other family. While all these and more are certainly great and wonderful events. They are not the “true meaning” of Christmas. They may well be a glimpse of  the true meaning but there is only one true meaning and it goes so much further. In fact it goes so far that a lot of people reject it! No, I’m not talking about a Scrooge or a Grinch. I’m talking about “nice” people, fun people, hard working people, family people. The list goes on.

What is the true meaning of Christmas that a lot of people reject? Christmas is meant to tell the story of a Holy God who wanted to reach out to humanity. His desire is to reconcile a humanity that has rejected Him. In that great and wonderful plan of reconciliation, the bible says that the Word of God became flesh and dwelt among us. God in the mystery of the incarnation, came to us His creation. The same cute little baby Jesus that we see in the manger was a baby “born to die” for the sin of mankind. Die for the rejection that a lot people have toward God.

The true meaning of Christmas is unchangeable. We can dance around it, water it down, try and make it plain, but we can’t change it. It was an act of a loving God. His name shall be called Emmanuel, God with us. We give gifts because we were given a gift. The gift of salvation, new birth, reconciliation with the Holy God of eternity.

Isaiah 9:6

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

1 John

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

Next time you hear someone say, “That’s the true meaning of Christmas” or “That’s what Christmas is all about”, stop and consider. Is it? Remember the deeper meaning. It goes way beyond the trees, lights, snowmen, Santa, and the shopping malls. It goes into the heart. Let God touch you with the “true meaning of Christmas”.

Merry Christmas!