Sonnets For My Savior 26

Sonnets For My Savior 26

Reason

If you are what you think,

how is it you came to be?

Your own thought can not be the link,

for one cannot make himself to exist by act or decree.

If observation is fact,

how can you exist?

Before birth you naturally lacked,

any method to observe yourself, so that argument must be dismissed.

Reason of man can not be truth

because it cannot explain its own origin.

Observation of man can not be truth

because it cannot take note of its own origin.

God is the place from which these things start,

so worship him with all of you soul, mind, and heart.


 

Power

Some desire it to glorify themselves.

Others accept it without discernment.

Pray for the one who ignorantly delves

into powers that change or augment.

Power seduces the unsuspecting person.

It tempts a man to trust in his own skill.

That power then becomes a prison,

made because one didn’t wish to follow God’s will.

What magic could one have that is greater

than the of the Lord of all?

Why seek abilities from sources other than our maker,

unless out of rebellion one seeks his inevitable fall?

All other powers eventually fade,

so why not submit to God, from whom all power is made?


 

For He So Loved Us

He made the sun and the stars,

But he loves us more.

He made the animals and made them ours

Because he loves us more.

He made the moon and the sea,

But he loves us more.

He rose every mountain and planted every tree,

But he loves us more.

He loves us so much he sacrificed his only son

He came down, God in flesh and breath.

Jesus paid the price for our sins, and thus our souls were won.

Any who believe in him shall have everlasting life and never see death.

We are the ones God has done all of this for,

Accept his gift and obey his word so we might love him more.


 

We Can Be Saved

He was named Paul,

but he called himself the chief of sinners.

He sought to arrest Christ’s followers when he heard our Lord’s call,

for Christ can save misguided persecutors.

He was a criminal being crucified,

who confessed he received the due reward for his every action.

But Jesus told the man before he died,

that the man has truly received salvation.

We are sinners each and every one,

for there is nothing in us that is good,

but Jesus paid for what we’ve done.

Indeed He’s done what no one else could.

We can be forgiven and made better than we have ever been

if we’re only willing to pick up our crosses and follow him.


 

Trust Him

We put our trust in him with all our hearts.

We know that all things work together for good.

He is in whom all life starts,

and He is in whom our faith has stood.

Go as He says go.

Do as He says to do.

Trust in him because we know

that through I’m we can be made new.

He has plans to give us a future and a hope.

We can trust in Him and be still.

Through him any man can cope

with any situation if he trusts in God’s will.

Trust in Him and His might power,

and all other things will come at the exact right time and the exact right hour.


 

Enough

Through Him, I can do all things.

Through Him, I can endure.

Through Him, men can be made kings.

Through Him, men can be made pure.

He strengthens me;

He saves me;

He cares for me;

He protects me.

He lived for me;

He died for me;

He was raised for me;

He intercedes for me.

Through him, I can survive trials be they simple or tough.

I can do these things because faith in Jesus is enough. 


 

I Am Amazed

The sun rises, and the sky is painted shades of red,

And I’m amazed at the works You’ve done.

The universe was born of every word You’ve said,

And I’m amazed at the works You’ve done.

I look at the land, and marvel at the trees and grass of green,

And I’m amazed at the Works You’ve done.

For all things happen just as You mean,

And I’m amazed at the works You’ve done.

The stars above shine bright,

And I’m amazed at the Works You’ve done.

You’ve done it all, and it was all done right,

And I’m amazed at the works You’ve done.

You created it all: the stars, the land, and the sun,

And I can’t help but be amazed at the works You’ve done.

Sonnets For My Savior 25

Sonnets For My Savior 25

The Word

Sit and discuss the Word.

Read every chapter and verse.

Reflect on what you heard.

However, the meanings of the Word are not diverse.

Too many seek what they desire

rather than what the Word means.

Do not lead yourself astray and conspire

to alter the Word to fit your own routines.

Read to discover the author’s intent.

Do not look on the truth with fear.

For the Word is truly Heaven sent,

and the wise consider its literal meaning dear.

Do not sully the Word with your own interpretation,

for that is the path to heretical deception.


 

Why Come

Why do you come to Him?

Was it because he filled your bellies?

Do you think he’ll cater to your whim?

What you feel in your heart, he sees.

He can provide sustenance.

He can heal our illnesses.

Yet we should seek Him for repentance.

We should act as His witnesses.

Indeed he came to serve,

but serve as a ransom.

That service was already more than we deserve,

for the gift of His grace is handsome.

Indeed people call to Jesus for a great many things,

but the first thing we should seek is the salvation he brings.


 

Moses the Witness

Moses saw Him, but not then.

He was the scepter who rose from Israel.

Though Moses knew not when,

he knew Jesus would come to save his people.

Moses told the people God would raise another like him from among them.

He said, “It is to him you shall listen.”

But when Jesus came and spoke to them,

they did not listen to a word that was spoken.

They claimed to obey the law,

but they refused to come to Him.

Despite every miracle they saw,

they chose instead to cling to sin.

Whoa to those who ignored Moses’s testimony,

for it is written, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me.”


 

Bad Leaven

They replaced the word

with their own traditions.

They did what they preferred

forsaking the Lord’s commissions.

These men strained out a gnat

but ate the whole camel.

They knew exactly where their hearts were at,

but they chose pretense while being hypocritical. 

Their teachings and actions were done for the sake of men.

Their desire was to be praised by others.

Their eyes had drifted down from the Lord in Heaven,

allowing people to dishonor their fathers and mothers.

Leaven like this should always be rejected

lest the paths of those who eat of it be misdirected.


 

Anything

With faith as small as a mustard seed,

mountains can be moved.

Through faith, we receive all we need,

and, through faith, all obstacles can be removed.

Trust in the Lord, for he is faithful.

Trust in the Lord, for he is generous.

Don’t let time lead you to think Him forgetful;

for his timing is perfect, and his deeds are wondrous.

Faith can heal the sick.

Faith can protect us in dangerous situations.

True faith stays through thin or thick.

Faith can turn people into nations.

Our greatest reward shines like the sun,

for those who have faith in Christ, receive His salvation.


 

Grace

His grace is sufficient for all.

It is the way we are justified.

Blessed are those who hear His call,

for all who are justified are also glorified.

It is good for grace to strengthen our hearts.

For we are saved by grace and not by works.

Christ is the one who, to each, imparts,

the grace that brings light like sparks.

His grace is a gift

we do not deserve.

Yet His grace can lift,

all who are called to serve.

We are free from the oppression of sin

because of the grace we received from Him.


 

Approach With Humility

They came to bring Elijah to account,

One captain with fifty men.

They thought their number was a large amount,

but fire came down and consumed all of them.

Again another captain came,

and again, they made demands.

Again, fire did rain,

and consumed each and every man.

Finally came a third,

and he fell to his knees.

This captain feared what had already occurred,

so he approached Elijah with fear and unease.

So do not approach the Lord and expect to impress with your power or ability,

instead approach him always with the utmost respect and humility.

Sonnets For My Savior 22

Sonnets For My Savior 22

The Most Frightening

They speak with conviction;

they act with determination,

but their hearts are driven by self-satisfaction

not by any Godly devotion.

They’re convinced they know right;

they’re committed to their cause.

They gnash their teeth and fight,

and satisfy themselves pointing out others’ flaws.

They convict others

but never look within.

They’d persecute their brothers

without once looking inside themselves for sin.

The most frightening thing a man could be,

is someone self-righteous and willfully ignorant of his own misdeeds.


 

Closer

I can never reach Him,

but I can strive to get closer.

My heart longs to be near Him,

but I need His grace to get nearer.

Yesterday, I was infinitely far away.

Today, I still have an infinite distance to go.

But if I look at the difference between yesterday and today,

please let me see that I did indeed grow.

I was a sinner then;

I am a sinner now.

But if I look at my self again,

please let me see that I’ve born fruit somehow.

Let me be closer to You.

Inch by inch, day by day, closer to You.


 

For All

What use is anyone’s praise,

if people don’t understand who they wish to glorify.

Any unintelligible phrase,

simply makes worship hard to identify.

Let our words build up;

let other believers respond in kind.

Let us all drink from the same spiritual cup.

Do not force those who wouldn’t understand to remain blind.

Rather than self-serving demonstrations,

let believers share in the truth.

Let us be clear in our conversations,

ensuring believers understand each word that comes from your mouth.

Let every believer hear and recall

that God’s truth was meant for all.


 

It Isn’t Mine

It isn’t mine to punish those who wrong me.

It isn’t mine to seek justice when I’ve been harmed.

Each will receive his reward, even if I can’t see.

All sin and are punished for the deeds they performed.

Why should I seek to punish when I myself am guilty?

Why do I continue to place my sin below others?

Why do I seek to act without pity,

unless it is I who wrong another?

There is only one judge.

He possesses the authority.

If one chooses to hold his grudge,

he places his will over the LORD’s sovereignty.

Vengeance isn’t ours to repay

It belongs to our God, to whom we pray.


 

What Right Do We Have

If we praise God for forgiveness,

why can we not forgive?

Our God is a God of righteousness,

If we receive his mercy, why shouldn’t we give?

Why hold on to anger

when someone else offends.

Anger is the same as murder

in the eyes of God, on whom we depend.

Did he forgive our sins

because ours are lesser?

Realize that he, through Christ, forgave our sins,

for none are truly more minor or greater.

If we ask forgiveness for the evil we have sown.

what right do we have to withhold our own?


 

Idols

I should not worship TV or games,

but I do.

I should not worship my time or acclaim,

but I do.

I should not put the highest value on money or ambition,

but I do.

I should not put the highest value on success or promotion,

but I do.

Hear my sorrow;

please slay these idols.

It’s you I wish to follow;

please take control.

Be the ruler of my existence,

for I can’t turn away without your assistance.


 

The New Body

A seed is planted into the earth.

What is raised is something new.

Those saints who die receive a second birth,

for what was planted came to life, and then it grew.

We are sown perishable;

We are sown in a natural body;

We are raised imperishable.

We are raised in a spiritual body.

We are sown in weakness

but raised in glory.

We can praise with gladness

because we know Jesus’ story.

First is the life that is natural;

then will come the body that is spiritual.

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 28

Testimony: My Trial of Faith as My Mom Struggled With Cancer Part 28

See Part 1 here.

See Part 2 here.

See Part 3 here.

See Part 4 here.

See Part 5 here.

See Part 6 here.

See Part 7 here.

See Part 8 here.

See Part 9 here.

See Part 10 here.

See Part 11 here.

See Part 12 here.

See Part 13 here.

See Part 14 here.

See Part 15 here.

See Part 16 here.

See Part 17 here.

See Part 18 here.

See Part 19 here.

See Part 20 here.

See Part 21 here.

See Part 22 here.

See Part 23 here.

See Part 24 here.

See Part 25 here.

See part 26 here.

See part 27 here.

The Pieces

It would be a week before we had an informal service for Mom.

That first weekend was mostly an opportunity to see each other. If one were to ask me how many siblings I have, I tend to stop and count. My childhood to my adulthood has seen a sort of core group of siblings. That group consists of five of us (the five youngest).  There are more, but the divorce, distance, and time have estranged us in some ways. I keep in contact with a few of them via social media, but I’m honestly terrible at things like that.  Even among those five, I tend to interact the most with my immediate two siblings (the children of both my mother and biodad).  Why? Simply because I see them the most. I’m positive I don’t call or message any of them as much as they’d like.

However, those of us in that core five were all there. I’m stunned because I simply can’t remember the last time we were all under the same roof at the same time.

We’re all extremely isolated individuals, me more so than the rest. But we had time together to talk. This isn’t the part where we all huddled together and held each other. We’re a family of task oriented people. We see a thing to do, and do that thing. The closest “group hug” we came to was the one I spoke about in the last segment. We spent the bulk of that week seeing more and more family and arranging for the service.

We went to the funeral home the following Monday. We were all pretty much still angry and hesitant at that point. We didn’t bicker with one another at all (which is frankly evidence of God’s grace in and of itself). We didn’t even snap or bark at anyone.  I could feel the tension, but we all focused on respect and making sure we had Mom’s final arrangements at heart. Please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not claiming we were all ready to lash out (although I was).  I’m simply stating it’s hard to let go emotionally when it’s so darn hard to let go physically.  I had no idea how long it takes to arrange a cremation.

We picked an urn. My aunts needed a smaller necklace because Mom wanted at least some of her ashes spread with her parents. Some of us wanted death certificates.  I was one of those. I don’t have any idea what I would need it for. I think I just wanted something. I certainly didn’t want any of the ashes. I don’t begrudge those in my family who do, but I personally wouldn’t be able to function if I had a constant reminder of the wound that exists in my life right now.

The rest of the week was mostly spending time together. We played cards. I’ve played cards with my mom for 38 years. Playing a game without her felt like trying to shuffle with one hand. All of us kept having those moments where we found ourselves looking for her.

One sister kept walking to the living room expecting to say hi to Mom.

Dad wouldn’t go into the bedroom.  He and I both slept in the living room. I haven’t spoken to him about it yet, but I have to admit, I simply couldn’t sleep.  Something happened to my back during the trip, and I’m just not used to having people around. I think there were perhaps seven people in the house at any given time, and there were times where there were perhaps 15-20. Neither my dad nor I do well around large groups. I’d discussed getting a hotel room, but it became pretty obvious that we all just needed each other, even if we just had to be around one another.  Thanks be to God, my back eased up after a few days. I think having Dad around, sleeping in a chair or couch next to the couch on which I slept was more of a comfort than I realized even in that moment.

The days were harder I think. There were things to do, and that required going through my mom’s stuff. I am firmly convinced that my mom stalked her children. She had copies of things I’d thought lost long ago. She had pictures from events I didn’t remember taking a camera to. She had every baby picture of every one of her kids in multiple sizes. She kept random letters from old teachers of mine. She had this for all five of her natural born children.

We each kept what we felt meant the most to us. I honestly don’t have a clue how one of my sisters managed it. She plowed through all of that paperwork to find what we needed for all the administrative things people have to have in times like this. I helped when I thought I could be helpful. We eventually got everything compiled into whatever group it needed to be in.

One thing remained: the obituary.

At first, I thought there was a form to fill out and that someone else would write it.  That wasn’t the case. Someone had to write it. A lot of people had thoughts on what needed to be said. Then I volunteered. I’ve written more than five books, and each of them are more than 30,000 words. Some of them are more than 60,000. I’ve written hundreds of news stories, dozens of features and thousands of captions. Mom’s obituary is 337 words, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever written.

I waited until everyone else had gone to bed (or at least started that way). One of my sisters talked to me about the important things to note. The problem was, there were so many people who mattered. I did the math, and realized my mother is directly connected to at least 50 children (three generations).

After I finished researching and talking to my sister, I opened this very lap top on which I’m typing now, and prayed.

I don’t remember all of the exact words, but I was horrified. I wanted to pay tribute to my Mom, and I wanted any who read the obituary to understand why she was so special. If she knew you, she loved you. It was like the greatest disease you could wish for. All she had to do was meet you and know one of us loved you, and she loved you. She loved you and forgave transgressions for which other parents would cast you out of the house. She provided for you no matter what debt that put her in. She was meticulous in identifying birthdays, anniversaries, school days, and anything else that mattered.

I’ve prayed many times. I’ve seen many of those prayers answered. But in a moment, a flash of realization, God answered. He didn’t answer with audible words; he answered with inspiration.

To tell of everyone my mother loved or cared for would take too much space, and to list just some of them would raise them above the others, when my mom would never want that feeling. In these ways, my mother was so very much like our savior Jesus Christ.

I typed out the words in moments, but my eyes were flooding with tears before I finished the third paragraph. Then, as I teach my students, I had to revise and edit. I’d just finished shattering my heart describing a woman I loved so very much, and I had to stomp on the shards over, and over again to make sure that the skill of the writing matched the emotion of its content. I read it at least five times.

I tell you all, whoever reads this, I’ve often been described as dogged and driven. People sometimes speak of amazement with how able I am to focus on a task. This isn’t my strength. It never was. It was only ever the strength and faith God gave me, not one he placed in me as my nature, but one he loans me through his own. I’m weeping now, this very moment as I type this recollection. But I endure because of the strength He has given me.

When it was done, it all came rushing out.  I made it outside, sat on the step of the porch and let it all go. I don’t have a clue how long I balled. Amidst gulps of breath and sniffs of snot, I quoted every verse of scripture I could bring to mind.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew Chapter 5:4)

“We rejoice in our suffering, for suffering builds endurance, and endurance builds character, and character builds hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God has filled us with love through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5).

“‘For I know the plans I have for  you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I thanked God for the strength he gave me. Eventually, the tears ceased. I went back inside, and went to sleep.

The next day, the family was happy with the obituary. We sent it off, and I created a program for the service, so people would have something if they wanted it.

My adopted sister and brother (I honestly couldn’t explain with a million words how my head works, so just know that if I think of you as family, you are) stopped by for a day. They brought their youngest daughter.  We talked, and they provided me company and comfort. I showed them all the stupid stuff my mom kept just because I had it once. She kept this photo copy of a random comic I bought. I didn’t even buy another issue, but there it was.

Students in my class would recognize what’s called a phase card. It’s a card that indicates what privileges a military student has.  My mom kept it. I don’t even know how she got it, but there it was. If some random person took a random photo of me, she found it, printed it, and put it in a book.  She did this for every one of us.

Dear God, almighty Father, praise you for giving me a mother who loved us so much.

One of my nieces, a talented stage performer, recorded hymns. Not only were they beautiful, but they were so comforting because these were hymns my mother requested. They were hymns of praise and worship. As I’d grown in my faith, I realized how estranged my family had become with Christ. Those requests, and hearing someone we love sing them, comforted me because they demonstrated that though we struggled with (at best) misguided churches, my mother’s faith remained all the days of her life.

All that was left, was to say goodbye during the service.

 

 


Questions and Revelations

Did the verses help?

They didn’t help. They filled me. They gave me strength. They weren’t like some bit of fresh air from a stuffy office; they were the source of any effort I could offer. They still are. If one were to ask me to prove God exists, I can’t really point to anything specific. I don’t think that’s how it works. Instead I invite them to seek Christ. Read God’s word. Let it be what you turn to in times of need. If you do this with an earnest heart, you’ll get it, and if you never do, there isn’t anything I’ll be able to say or do that will convince you. Since I’ve began this journey, I’m certain that my ability to get through it is based primarily on God’s word and the ability he gave me to seek it to find the right verse for the right occasion.

What did the obituary say:

I thought about where to put this, and it just seems this is the right spot. One can read it if he or she wishes, but he or she can also move on.

These are the words God wrote through me to pay respect to my mother:

Marietta Zavala

June 23, 1949-July 26, 2018

Marietta Zavala, 69, passed away July 26, 2018, in Yuma, Arizona.

She was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, June 23, 1949, to Dale and Corinne Starbuck.

She moved to Yuma in 1984, where she began working at Yuma Proving Ground until she retired Dec. 1, 2010.

She is survived by her husband Rafael Zavala, and her sisters, Gladys, Dawn, and Michelle.

She is also survived by her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, but to offer names would require more space and time than a simple column can provide, for what made her special, was her endless love, compassion, and generosity to anyone she met.

She managed birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and holidays for more than 50 people, a number which only reflects those she was related to by blood or marriage, but she loved and cared for so many others who think of her as Mom, Grandma, or Great Grandma. She never let a single child she ever met go without presents or, more importantly, a phone call to tell them how much she loved them. This is the legacy she leaves on this earth. It is one of a woman who would always welcome those who needed somewhere to stay; it is one of a mother who cared for children as if they were her own regardless of their relationship. That boundless affection was reflected in her constant desire to prepare her home to be a place of welcome for those for whom she cared.

When someone needed anyone, she was always the first to be called and the first to be there. She will be missed by all those who are now unsure of who to call because the one who was always there has been called to Heaven.

The family is scheduled to host an open house memorial from 4-7 p.m. Aug. 3 at 7584 E. Olive Ann Lane, Yuma, Arizona, 85366. Flowers and letters of condolence may be sent to the same address. 


If you have other questions regarding my faith or thoughts or actions at this point, feel free to ask, and I’ll add them to the blog.  I try to ensure these passages are self reflective. My chaplain told me to take this opportunity to look at myself, but at the moment, those were the only real thoughts going through my mind. Questions might help me remember other thoughts or parts of The Bible I’d overlooked while typing this post.

Thanks for reading

Matt