Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

A Heart Full Of Happy

A Heart Full Of Happy

This morning I woke with a sing-song heart. A rhythm of happy blended with a spirited topping of thankfulness. You know where in the Bible God’s word tells us that “in times when we don’t know how or what to pray, the Holy Spirit will do so for us”? I was reminded of that when I realized it was my sing-song heart that actually woke me. I didn’t wake up and start this melody, this melody started within and woke me up!

I’ve never thought of that verse, Romans 8:26, outside of times that are sorrowful or filled with uncertainty. The Bible actually says that the Holy Spirit will interceded for us with groans that words cannot express. I first really learned of this verse when my friend, Jennifer, brought it forth as we were all mourning the loss of a dear friend, Mr. Philip. Since then, it is truth that I have pulled strength from in times of trouble and uncertainty. Times when I knew I needed to take situations or feelings to the Lord in prayer, but I didn’t know how to, or what to say. But this morning…

This Morning!

This beautiful, Glorious morning!

There is no mourning in this morn. I woke with such a thankful, praising heart! It’s the most amazing, beautiful start I’ve experienced! So maybe the Romans scripture is not one I should tie to this joy I have, but just like the Holy Spirit will intercede in times of angst, I feel like the Holy Spirit was interceding before my consciousness stirred today, and was praising and loving the Father through worship.

Amazing. Totally amazing. Thank you, Jesus!

This week I have had the priviledge of meeting two of my husbands dear, dear friends from his Navy days. Days that happened long before I ever knew of my husband. Bryan and Kelly are more like family to him, and over the years I have heard so much about them that I felt I had known them forever the minute I hugged their necks. I was also able to meet their beautiful daughters and their good friend from the DC area. All week I’ve been thanking the Lord for their friendship and influences in my husband’s life, because I know they played a role in shaping who my husband is today. All those paths you cross in life, you know? The cumulative experiences that become a part of your own fabric.

Our time with these friends concluded yesterday, with a day spent seaside in North Carolia. It was a beautiful day for making memories and sharing in God’s Glory.

See that picture of the shoreline? That’s what the song sounds like in my soul today. ūüôā

Thank you, Lord, for friends and family who tie us to one another in ways undeniably orchestrated by Your hand. Father, you fill me so this morning, and I praise Your Holy Name for the blessings You have lavishly given to us. Thank you for the laughter, the time of fellowship. Thank you for the furry friends who bring us so much comfort and love. Thank you for the surprise family meetings along the way, for Garland. I know it is only by Your Hand that these wonderful crossings happen. And thank you, Lord, for giving us your son, Jesus Christ. It is in knowing this we have the hope and peace of being united always. Thank you for this sing-song heart. Amen.

Leaving This Place

Leaving This Place

The soft spot on the roof of my mouth, toward the back, is burning. My ears burn, too. Sneezes and dizzy spells abound. I’m a fury of hot…no cold…wait a minute…no…hot flashes and red-nosed-ness and crumpled Kleenex. Frustrated in this delay. Who has time for this? Taking on guilt completely unwarranted for being out of the office today. I am my own worst boss. Committed to meeting the appointments of drop off and pick up for the kids, pets. Praying for God to protect my little orange car from missteps, as it’s driver is really feeling yucky.

Mashed potatoes.

I don’t even really want them, but the thought of the smooth, warm creaminess against my sore throat was enough to drive me across town for a family sized container.

This stoplight ALWAYS takes so long. Why does it take so long to give me a green arrow? I’m waiting to turn left beside Virginia College. Then I see it. THERE IT IS!

It is the most luxurious sunset I’ve noticed in a long while. It takes my breath away. Or was that the mentholatum cough drop?

Immediately, in all my achiness and frustration, I think of my Jesus and that day that He has promised to return.

I wonder what the sky will look like.

I often think about the verse in Matthew that says: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” And it goes on to say a few verses down, “That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. ”

Lord, I will be taken, right?

I will, won’t I?

Then I wonder what it would feel like to be plucked from all I know by the hand of God and be “gone from this place”.

Will it hurt?

Will I even know it’s happened?

Will it just be like this strange sensation, but not really cold or hot or painful?

Oh, my God, please don’t leave me!

As I look at the beautiful, fading sunset, I catch myself saying outloud, “Jesus come quickly.”

The discomfort of a head cold or flu or whatever bug I have is nothing compared to the strife and pain this world has going on.

And just like that, a voice that has no sound, yet I know it the moment my heart hears it, reminds me, “I have held you before.”

I begin to weep.

Tears. Streaming down. No sobs. Just hot, salty tears birthed from a head that is under pressure. My eyeballs are burning hot. The tears are almost soothing.

I have left this place before.

I have.

It was April 3, 1993. I was 24 years old. Barely so. I was young, and desperately wanting to have control over messy decisions I had made.

Just the day before, I had cried out to God in a moment that was as raw and real as sitting here now. I can feel that same breeze brush across my check, entering through a rolled down window in the driver’s side door of my little blue Accord.

“God, I can’t fix this. There’s nothing I can do to get out of this situation. I’ve tried everything. I need you to help me.”

And just as quickly, the ignition was quieted and I grabbed the car seat with my 8 month old son it it and headed inside.

I didn’t think about my request again. It was a plea, really. But the busyness of being a new momma, an about to graduate (okay, hoping to graduate) college student and an estranged young wife (or is it wife of an estranged husband?) kept me in motion, without another thought – not a single one – of God.

The next afternoon, I stopped. Just stopped. Later I would learn I was involved in a head on collision, but that was later. For several days, I just wasn’t.

It’s been more than 20 years since that fateful accident. It’s something that changed my life forever. Surgeries and lingering pains aside, it’s something I am thankful for, every day.

As my memory started waking, I began piecing together information about the accident (mostly overheard from the conversations around my hospital bed), though I had no personal recollection of the wreck. I have a memory of a vague image of a man with curly dark hair in a red shirt, or at least I think it was red, leaning down, his face in mine. It may have been dark and red colored because of my own blood that flowed from lacerations to my face, and injuries to my left eye. I felt as though his face was close to mine, but I couldn’t make out any features. And I coudln’t hear him. I was telling him quietly, “help me”, as I held my arms crossed in front of me, but I didn’t hear my own voice, and wasn’t really sure why I needed help.

I don’t remember my baby boy crying. I was told he was screaming loudly. Lacerations to his own face and a broken right ankle. I thank God for the stranger who scooped him up and gave him comfort, when I wasn’t even aware there was such a need, nor such a child.

I don’t remember sirens, or any other medical professionals, although I was told there were dozens of vehicles and rescue workers. Mine was not the only car. I don’t recall the “Jaws of Life” as it cut open my mangled hatchback. ¬†And I don’t remember the pain of the jagged metal cutting into my thighs as I was pulled from the pryed open doorframe.

I didn’t hear any loud noises – no car crash.

What I do recall, and this came to me some time  after the accident, was the quiet hum of an ambulance. A couple of years after the accident, I was parked outside of the K-Mart with my window rolled down, and I heard that unmistakable, steady rumble of the idling ambulance engine.  I closed my eyes and I remembered.

I felt a warm heat surrounding me. May have been from the exhaust. Or maybe the sun-baked asphalt.

I could hear swishing, which I believed was the tall highway grass in which I was laying.

I saw a bright light, which I’ve always chalked up to the setting sun, since it was around the time of sunset.

And I saw a flowing, light green, almost sherbert colored green, garment above me, topped with flowing strands of gold that seemed to merge right into the garment. I saw no face.

And I felt peace.

The weeks that followed my “coming to” were filled with a peace that many didn’t understand. I didn’t recognize it as strange. I had great love for the woman in the other car – the car that I later learned was driving down the wrong side of a 4-lane highway before I entered it’s path. As soon as I could, I went down to her hospital room, in my wheelchair. I wanted to meet her. To meet her family. I wanted them to meet my baby son. More than anything, I wanted them to know “it was okay”. I wanted to give them comfort. I didn’t think about it really at all. I was acting on impulses that were not of my own, yet, I coudln’t exactly put in to words why I had them. I just wanted them to know I cared. I felt strangely connected to this family, to this young woman who was driving the strayed car. In a strange, otherworldly way, I felt our paths were crossed with reason.

Gosh, the sky before me is bright, brilliant white, as the sun dips lower and lower. It’s almost a non-color. Goldenish. So illuminated, if that’s possible. Illuminated illumination.

I have forgotten how long this light takes to turn green.
Instead, I had all the time in the world for God to remind me of what it feels like to be held in the palm of His hand.

The hum.

  • The rythym of His creation.

The swishing.

  • His cooing me into calm.

The heat.

  • The warmth of His presence.

The light.

  • His Glory.

The green and gold.
The flowing.

  • The watch of His angels.

And just like that. The green arrow appeared. I pressed the accelerator and continued crying out my praises to My Saviour all the way home.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you.

‚ÄúTherefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. “

Day 710

Seven Hundred Ten is a nice, even number, don’t you think?

That’s 1 year, 11 months and 10 days, exaclty.

Or 17,040 hours, approximately.

Wow, that hours number doesn’t freak me out as much as the almost 2 years number.
My gifting is in colors, not numbers, and in the case of moments away from home (which is 1,022,400!), that’s a good thing.

710.

Nice, round, evenly divisible number.
Also a great stopping point, don’t you think?

Many of you have followed my “count up” since Day 1.
            (On this blog, that would be since Day 19, the first public post of the count up)
In doing so, you have also shed some tears and smiles with me along the way.
Many of you have also offered prayers and lifted our family up to The Lord, and I’m confident that the immense strength we as a family have had during this journey has been a blessing from God, and I am thankful for the faithful prayers of friends and strangers alike.

My son will be returning soon.
That’s right! ¬†We have a count down in progress now!
In just a few short weeks, our family will be reunited, and words cannot express the excitement every one of us has, as we prepare, plan and dream a little bit louder about our reunion.

But the journey is far from over.  As much as we prepare, plan and dream, and think about our desires for the coming months, it is Our Saviour who remains in control.  We understand that it is His perfect and holy, Masterfully orchestrated script that will unfold before us.  It is in knowing this that I ask for your specific prayers.

Please join us in continuing to pray for safety & protection.

For provision.

For us to recognize the direction of the weather vane.

For understanding.

And above all else, pray for us to be yeilded to The Master’s plan, and to move in obedience with His will for our lives.

As much as I have looked forward to having all of my chics under my wings again — oh! My heart leaps at the thought! — I know that like the seaons and other things of this earth, temporary is the moment, and eternal is the life. ¬† Please pray for our time together to be an easy transition and a powerful ignition into a new chapter.

Tomorrow is a new day.
A new number.

Praise the Lord, for great things He hath done!

I Have Made Some Crappy Choices

It’s morning.

Driving to work.

Should I listen to the radio, Lord, or shall we talk on the way to work today?

I hit the radio button.

“It’s a good morning!”

It’s also a beautiful day.

Figures.

Clear skies and sunshiney rays of hello lend to poor reception.

Too many different sound waves happily traverse the space around my car.

Sorry, Mandesa, I have to turn you off this morning.

So, I guess it’s a talky-kind-of-morning.

I’m no different from the next guy.

Really, I’m not.

I sin.

I have a hard time learning a lesson.

Gosh, I’ve made a bad choice and decided against making the same bad choice, only to do it again.

And again.

And again.

Lord, ¬†I’m so glad You love me and You forgive my shortcomings.

I’m so glad you’re patient.

I have made some really crappy choices.

Yes, but you’ve made some really good choices, too.

Thank, you, Lord, for pointing that out.

I have made some really good choices.

I HAVE made some really good choices.

I get it.

Thank you!

Notes Sung Sweetly Over Seas

What a blessing, to share an hour of conversation with my son, who is overseas…and to share a harmony or two.
Thank you, Lord.  

__________________

“Mom, I’m leading worship tomorrow. ¬†Got any ideas for songs I should share?”

“Ooooo, you know I like ‘Forever’, that’s still my favorite.
I know it’s an old one, but it speaks to me.”

“Yeah, I know, but I need songs that are well-known, not ones I’ve written.”

“Oh, okay, like ¬†‘How Great is our God’?
Mr. Ed lead us in that song this morning.
I love that song!”

“I like that too, but I don’t know if that’s well-known over here.”

“How about ‘Mighty To Save’?
That’s a good one, too.”

“I’m thinking more like hymns, that would be more well-known.”

“Okay, the first one that comes to mind is ‘Satisfied’,
and you know that one.”

“But that’s not one that’s familiar to many. ¬†Something more traditional.”

“‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face…

“Yeah, more like that. But not that one.”

“Gosh, hard for me to just think of hymns right off.
And there are so many that are used in contemporary worship songs these days.
Like ‘Nothing But The Blood of Jesus’.
I think that’s in a Tomlin song, or maybe someone else.
But that’s a good one.
What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again? ¬†Nothing but the blood of Jesus…”

Oh, precious is the flow, that makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know, nothing but the blood of Jesus.  
That’s a good one.”

“Oooo, or how about ‘Victory in Jesus’?
There’s victory in Jesus, my Savior forever.
That song is so uplifting.
You know, that was the song we all sang at the
beginning of Mr. Philip’s service.
It was perfect!

“That’s a good one, too. ¬†Yeah.
He sought me, and bought me, with His redeeming blood.
He loved me ‘ere I knew Him, and all my love, is due Him.
He plunged me to victory, beneath the cleansing flood.

I like that one. ¬†Okay, what else?”

“Well, wait a minute.
I’ve got a little hymn book right here.
You know, those kind that tell you the history of¬†the songs?”

“I love those.”

“It’s like the one I gave you before you left.
I’m keeping this one here for you.
Let’s see…’Little Is Much When God Is In It’.
I don’t know that one.
And there’s ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’.”

“Not that one, ma.”

“How about that!
It was written in 1922 by a woman.
I didn’t know that!
She was 55 years old when she wrote it.
Says that when she became blind, her husband left her.
She said that when she heard a statement that deeply impressed her,
she stood still, and there was singing in ¬†her soul and spirit. “

“That’s cool, ma.”

“The verses of the song were written within a week’s time
and in ‘their usual manner of composition,
but nonetheless dictated by the Holy Spirit.”

“Wow! ¬†I can relate!”

“That’s so awesome.
I always liked that song, and now I just like it even more!
Anyway, what about  some song that goes
...and He walks with me, and He talks with me,
and He tells me I am His own?

“I don’t know that one, ma.”

“That was grandma Flossie’s favorite.
It’s more like a song you hear at funerals.
This one makes me think of Kristen, ‘His Eye Is On The Sparrow’.
Remember her singing that one at Aroma?”

“Yeah. ¬†She’s getting married soon – it’s crazy!”

“I know! ¬†Love them.
You should try to see them when you’re home.
Maybe on your way to Alabama.”

“I should. ¬†Man, there’s so many places I want to go when I get home.”

“Yep, I know.
Hey, how about  the one that goes
…here I raise my Ebenezer…”

“...hither by thy help I come.
And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home.
..”

Jesus sought me when a stranger
wandering from the fold of God…

“…He to rescue me from danger
interposed His precious blood
.”

“That’s such a good one!”

“Yeah, ‘Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing’.
I like that one, too.
I think I might use that one.”

Day 663

My head hit the pillow heavy when I climbed into bed last night, but my heart was even heavier.  I prayed.  This is what the Father revealed to me, and instantly, I was comforted with lightness:

“You are all under My wings, together. ¬†Protector. ¬†Sustainer. ¬†Shield from the storm. ¬†I AM all of these things and more. ¬†Do not worry. ¬†I Am. ¬†Always. ¬†With them. ¬†With you.”

I was tired yesterday. ¬†Bone tired. ¬†And sometimes, that’s enough to allow my thoughts to stray to places I know are not bathed in light. ¬†As a mama hen — you mamas out there know exactly what I’m talking about! — It’s my desire (frantically so, sometimes) to gather everyone up and tuck them nice and safe under my wings for the evening. ¬†It’s so satisfying to know exactly where everyone is. ¬†To check off that box at night, you know?

Backyard lights off?  Check.

Doors locked?  Check.

Dogs fed?  Check.

Boys tucked in?  Check.  Check. Check.

One of those boy boxes I’ve had to leave unmarked for a long time. ¬†663 days, to be exact. ¬†He lives in a different country. ¬†Another boy box is unchecked this week. ¬†He’s on vacation with his dad and their family for the week. ¬†The third boy box? ¬†It’s check marked with a permanent, over-protective Sharpie. ¬†Tucked in super tight!

I don’t know where my oldest son has been laying his head for almost 2 years. ¬†I don’t know where my middle son has been laying his head all week. ¬†But what I do know is that The Heavenly Father does, and He is in the business of tucking in and watching over, too, and He does so constantly and with more love than I can imagine. ¬†Thank you, God!

‚ÄúFor the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him‚ÄĚ (2 Chronicles 16:9).

‚ÄúFor the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer‚Ä̬†(1 Peter 3:12).

I lift up my eyes to the mountains‚ÄĒ
    where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip‚ÄĒ

    he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep
(Psalm 121:1-4)

Writin’ Sins in the Sand

When my 15-year-old son and I got home tonight from church, it was raining, and that gave us a good excuse to stay in the car to finish our conversation. ¬†He’s 15. ¬†A teenager. ¬†He had done something the day before that got him into a little trouble at home. ¬†The “what he did” is not important. ¬†He had spent a majority of the day after, however,¬†beating himself up over what had happened. ¬†So what – ¬†he did something, made a poor choice, and was called on it. ¬†Where he was struggling was getting beyond the poor choice he made.

Jesus died for our sins. ¬†Every single one of them. ¬†If you can think of it, or have done it…Jesus paid the price for it. ¬†That does not give us a free pass to live a sinful life, but it does give us freedom from carrying the burdens of our past sins. ¬†I want my son to understand the beauty of salvation and how freeing it is to walk in communion with The Father who loves unconditionally, and always.

Poor choices do not define who you are as a person.  Understanding this Рreally understanding this Рis key to being able to let bygones be bygones.  Move forward.  Be forgiven.

After talking for a few minutes, with the rain beginning to let up, my son shared this story with me:

“Yeah, mom, it’s kind of like when Justin took us all to the beach and told us to write one of our sins in the sand. ¬†He said just to write one thing that we know was a sin we’ve committed, and then sit back and watch the waves crash over the sin and wash it completely away. ¬†He said that’s like what God does. ¬†We are forgiven of our sins when we repent, and Jesus just washes it away and makes the sand all new and clean. ¬†It’s like that, mom. ”

Yes, it’s just like that, son. ¬†When we acknowledge sin, and ask for forgiveness, it is given to us, and we don’t have to feel guilty over whatever it was. ¬†We don’t have to beat ourselves up over it. ¬†As a matter of fact, when we hold onto guilt over a sin, that’s going against what Our Father asks of us. ¬†He doesn’t condemn us, and he certainly doesn’t want us to condemn ourselves over it. ¬†Time and time again, through scripture, forgiveness of sins is mentioned.

In 1 John 1:9, His Word reads:   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In Acts 3:19, His Word reads: ¬†Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…

In Matthew 26:28, His Word reads:  For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Thank you, Lord, for your never ending lovingkindness and patience and continual forgiveness.  And thank you, Lord, for the teachers who continue to mentor and make a difference in the lives of so many, by way of sharing Your truth.  Thank you for Justin, and for the messages he shared that continue to resonate in our lives.  Thank you, Lord, for the rain that allowed this momma to have a captive audience in the car tonight.  Thank you for the waves.  Thank you.  Amen.

The Fabric Of Our LIves

Move over cotton.
The fabric of our lives is not something you can touch.
It’s not something you can outright see.
You can’t put it on and take off.
It is not always comfortable, either.
The fabric of our lives is woven into each of us, strand by strand.
By every experience.
Every encounter.
These are the things our fabric is made of.

I’m praising God today for three special artisans who have contributed to the fabric of my life:

Artisan One

When I was just a toddler, you made sure I went to church. ¬†You pulled me into your family, and the wood-panelled station wagon, for many trips to Sunday school and church services. ¬†You never treated me like an outsider, instead, creating in me a sense of self-worth and purpose. ¬†Because of your influence, I never doubted that God existed. ¬†Ever. ¬†Jesus was a part of every day, just like the buttered toast with jelly I had for breakfast so many mornings growing up in your kitchen next door. ¬†I will never forget the scanner that lived on top of the refrigerator in the kitchen. ¬†I knew by heart what the calls meant, and would sit by the table chair in the kitchen and watch you lace up your boots before you left for a fire. ¬†I always felt so safe, knowing that you were always listening for calls of distress – always willing to help when there was a need. ¬†You took me in when I needed a place to stay. ¬†And even though at that point in my life I was resistant to following you to church, you made sure I knew the invitation was always open to join you, and I have no doubt that you prayed for me ferociously during those years. ¬†The dinners you brought me home from Wednesday nights at church were so good! ¬†I always figured it must be because they were delivered by you, but now that I eat those dinners at church every Wednesday night, I know it’s because of all of the angels preparing and serving the food (you were one of those angels, too). ¬†We shared similar experiences with head on collisions, just months apart from each other. ¬†Even in that situation, I learned from your forgiving nature and love towards others – all others. ¬† You’d beep your horn every time you pass by my house – you in your infamous black pickup. ¬†And in the last few years we had together, you continued to show me – and the world! – what it meant to truly be a servant. ¬†I would get a kick out of seeing all the boys and girls, my own boys included, look forward to a “give me five – ahhh too slow”, followed by a piece of that golden candy. ¬†I admit, I looked forward to this ritual, too. ¬†And in our 42 year history, when your time on this earth was coming to an end, you continued to challenge and inspire me. ¬†In the very last conversation we had, which was a typical brief exchange by the door to the Young Hall, you asked me if I figured out my testimony yet. ¬†“You know, Toot, you have a story, too.” ¬†The fabric of my life has certainly been framed by you, and I’m so thankful for my parents who bought a house next door to you before I was born.

Artisan Two

I first met you twenty years ago. ¬†“Bestill my heart!” ¬†I had no idea what love was until I held you in my arms. ¬†You and I saw the world together for the first time from sets of eyes that were so willing to see goodness all around us. ¬†My love for you, and newfound protective nature, awakened in me a thirst to teach you all about life and to show you God’s beauty in people and in places. ¬†You had an insatiable need for touch and human connection from the time you were born until…well, you still have that! ¬†You recognized at an early age the importance of relationships – including the most important relationship with Jesus Christ. ¬†Looking back on it now, I see you teaching me far more than I have ever taught you. ¬†You challenge me, you encourage me, you pray for and with me. ¬†You show me daily what it means to live Luke 9:23. ¬†I have seen God’s blessings poured out on you, as you humbly press forth in building His kingdom. ¬†I’ve seen you hurt. ¬†I’ve seen you broken. ¬†And I’ve seen you weak. ¬†And through all of these, I’ve seen you never losing faith. ¬†I’ve been awed by your response to the world. ¬†It’s no wonder I have to wear glasses now. ¬†Somewhere along the lines, my vision stalled, where yours has never lost focus. ¬†You are definitely a thread woven throughout the entire fabric of my life, and I’m so blessed, so honored, to know you.

Artisan Three

We first met about seven years ago, even though I didn’t know your name. ¬†You were that nice guy, with the nice wife, who I would pass by as I left my neighborhood. ¬†You were always smiling. ¬†I mean, always. ¬†To the point that I would wonder, “what is he always smiling about?”. ¬†In time, I got to know you, and your name, as well as your wife and children and their names. ¬†As a matter of fact, I got to where I was spending a lot of time around you, as I was with my oldest son who was spending a lot of time around you, and I figured out why you were smiling all the time. ¬† ¬†Never before have I met someone who was completely, unashamedly, sold out for Jesus Christ and passionate about introducing Him to everyone ¬†— that’s you! ¬†That’s your smile. ¬†You don’t just preach it, you live it. ¬†It is through your walk, your honesty and your willingness to be open with every last fiber of your own fabric that anyone who crosses paths with you can’t help but see Jesus’s love. ¬†You have been a positive role model for my sons, and have willingly gone out of your way to reach not just my kids, but all of the youth in our church, with a life that is evident of salvation. ¬†No, let me rephrase that. ¬†You have gone out of your way to reach all in our church, not just the youth. ¬†And to this very day, you’re teaching us what it means to live obediently and in God’s will. ¬†I will miss you being down the street, but I know that the thread you’ve added to the fabric of my life will be forever a part of who I am. ¬†Thank you so much, my friend, my mentor, my brother in Christ.

God is so good. ¬†So, so good, always. ¬†And as a good friend of mine says all the time, “Doesn’t God just blow your mind?”. ¬†You see, years ago, when my parents chose to buy a house in Florence, God already had set a plan in motion for my life. ¬†I wasn’t even “expected” at the time they settled in Florence. ¬†But God knew that in order for me to be where I am today in my relationship with Him, I had to have all three of these artisans create important pieces of the fabric of my life. ¬†See, if my parents didn’t buy that little house on Hobart Drive back in the 60’s, I never would have lived next door to Mr. Phillip. ¬†And if I never lived next door to Mr. Phillip, chances are I might not have been exposed to Jesus in the same way. ¬†And if I wasn’t exposed to Jesus back then, I probably wouldn’t have had the same influence on my oldest son or desires to share about God’s creation with him. ¬† I probably wouldn’t live in a house down the street from a youth pastor named Justin, who would minster to my oldest son, and upon receiving a phone call from Mr. Phillip, be the transportation for my son back and forth to church for so long. ¬†And I probably wouldn’t have been sitting in the parking lot of my church, after dropping off my kids for their Wednesday activities, ¬†on the night that I felt the Holy Spirit invite me inside to find a chair in an adult ¬†Bible study group. ¬†God’s plan is perfect, and holy, and I’m so thankful that I can see evidence of this perfection woven throughout the fabric of my life. ¬†It’s made up of lots of threads, contributed by lots of artisans…and this is only the beginning.

What’s the fabric of your life made of?

Traffic Calming Device

This week I learned that ‚Äútraffic calming device‚ÄĚ is just a fancy way of saying ¬†SPEED BUMP.

Isn’t that funny?

The words ‚Äútraffic‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúcalming‚ÄĚ seem like polar opposite things.¬† Traffic makes me think of high stress, long, slow moving lines of cars, trucks, people, ants‚Ķ…and Calming makes me think of scented candles, relaxing music and whatever the opposite of high stress is (I don‚Äôt believe I‚Äôve ever reached that end of the spectrum).

It’s so interesting to think about speed bumps, and what exactly their purpose is.  They slow us down (by us, I mean me).  They are placed to bring protection to not only the driver, but people nearby.  Often, they bring protection to the roadway itself, and the environment.

In my younger days, I viewed them as bothersome and ‚Äúin the way‚ÄĚ, and did my best to get as many of my car‚Äôs tires around the obstacles as possible.¬† I‚Äôve tried hitting them fast, thinking the quick bump would be less annoying than the slow, yet body jolting, bumpity bumpity as the tires crawl over one by one.¬† It‚Äôs not.¬† I‚Äôve even taken longer routes to get from point A to point B,¬† just to avoid a short stretch of speed bump laden roadway.

I‚Äôm older now and have found an appreciation for them. Now that I have kids who like to ride their bikes in the neighborhood and throw football to each other across the street, I‚Äôve even thought about secretly installing them in front of my house to slow down our neighbors with lead feet.¬† I realized that although they used to seem annoying, they really serve an important purpose at getting everyone to slow down and use caution¬† –¬† to become more aware of what‚Äôs around.

There have been many speed bumps in my spiritual pathway.¬† In the beginning, they caused me to stray off course easily.¬† I would do anything to avoid them.¬† But then there were other times when I hit them so hard, I had to deal with the damaging repercussions as a result.¬† I wasn‚Äôt expecting them, or I didn‚Äôt see them because my focus was not on the road in front of me.¬† Most of the time, I would throw a hissy fit and all out temper tantrum at the placement of those speed bumps.¬† ‚ÄúWhy, why, WHY!!!???‚ÄĚ

I’ve been traveling this road for a while now, and am becoming a driver who is more aware of the speed bumps that lie ahead.  Some still catch me off guard, but I don’t see them as annoyances anymore.  I understand that they are placed in my pathway for a reason, and that makes the slowed pace easier to handle and opens my eyes to see more of what’s around at those times.  I know that there will always be speed bumps, and have actually become thankful for them in recent years.  I may not always understand the reason for their placement at the time, but usually down the road a ways, I can look back and see how perfectly they were positioned.

Traffic calming devices?  Yeah, I can see that now.  But I sure didn’t understand it in the beginning.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
                                                                                                                          James 1:2-3

Standing Still in The Word

I experienced one of those “kaleidescope-moments” while I was in the word this week. ¬†Kaleidescope. ¬† The definition I’m using here – a continually changing pattern of shapes, scenes and colors. ¬†Have you ever felt that way before? ¬†Like the whole world around you is just flashing from one thing to the next while you are caught up in a single thought or revelation, not caring about the things around you that are vying for your attention?

The world is that way. ¬†It fights for our attention. ¬†It is aggressive sometimes. ¬†It’s hungry to occupy our thoughts and monopolize our focus. Sometimes I feel like the world and The Word are such polar opposite things. ¬†The world is demanding. ¬†The Word is patient. ¬†The world is ephemeral. ¬†The Word is ethereal. ¬†The world is unreliable. ¬†The Word is trustworthy…true…truth.

To best explain how The Word stopped the world for me in that moment, join me in the scripture – John chapter 11. ¬†This is the chapter in which Jesus brings Lazarus back from the dead. ¬†We were discussing this in Sunday School, noting how this is often considered the lead event that started the whole domino effect of events leading up to the crucification of Christ. ¬†Imagine, being there when Jesus called for him to rise, “Lazarus, come out!” ¬†Imagine! ¬†What were the people who were gathered there saying? ¬†What were Lazarus’s first words? ¬†Were people scared? ¬†Did anyone faint? ¬†How many people accepted faith in Christ at the first hand witness of that miracle? ¬†So, so many questions. ¬†Now you’re with me. ¬†We’re at an awesome place where Jesus has done something he had not done before. ¬†Sure, he has brought people back to life again, but not after four days. ¬†FOUR DAYS! ¬†Don’t you believe Jesus can do anything? ¬†I do, too. ¬†Which is why I’m so excited to be studying this chapter. ¬†It’s not just a story – it’s real. ¬†This really happened.

And here it is. ¬†Begin reading in verse 45. ¬†Many Jews went out to see Mary, thinking she was going to the tomb to mourn. ¬†They saw what Jesus did. ¬†Many came to faith. ¬†Some went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus did. ¬†Well, it wasn’t long before the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting. ¬†They were not happy that many were accepting faith in Jesus….so….they said:

John 11:48

“If we let him go on like this, everyone will have belief in him…..”

SCREECHING

HALT

The world stands still. ¬†All is silent, as the past events catch up with ¬†current life and our immediate world. ¬†Imagine. ¬†Imagine!¬†Imagine a world in which everyone had belief in Jesus Christ. ¬†The days of the Pharisees catches up with the current events of today’s persecuted church. ¬†Jesus was persecuted back then, and today, persecution continues. ¬†The Pharisees and chief priests were afraid of people having faith in Jesus. ¬†“If we let him go on like this, everyone will have belief in him…” ¬†That just blows my mind, because this very same thing is happening today. ¬†I’m thinking of Pastor Youcef, and the Iranian government that has imprisoned him because of his belief in Jesus Christ and has been threatening to end his life since 2009 if he fails to recant his faith. ¬†Pastor Youcef is not denying Christ. ¬†Through isolation. ¬†Through torture. ¬†Through temptations. ¬†Through things I could never even imagine, Pastor Youcef remains faithful and steadfast for our Savior. ¬†The Pharisees were afraid. ¬†They had fear. ¬†They were selfish and didn’t want to loose power or prestige. ¬†What are the people who are threatening Pastor Youcef afraid of? ¬†Could it be the same things?

Jesus tells us in John 15: 18-21:

‚ÄúIf the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before¬†it¬†hated¬†you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you… If they¬†persecuted¬†Me, they will also¬†persecute¬†you…¬†because they do not know Him who sent Me.”

Absolute stillness.  The Word is truth, and the truth has connected with me in a  very real way.

Praise God for the blessing of your son, Jesus, and for the gift of scripture to help teach us, direct us, and remind us of the path that was planned for us before we ever were. ¬†Thank you, Father, for the blessing also of living in a place that allows for freedom in worshiping you, and studying your Word. ¬†There are so many, Lord – too many – who do not have the same freedoms, yet, they risk everything, including their lives, for a glimpse into your Word and in sharing your light with others. ¬†Father, I lift up my persecuted brothers and sisters and pray for their protection, for your peace to continue to be evident to them, and for more than anything, Father, your will to be done through their lives, as it is to be done through ours…through mine. ¬†All this I offer and ask in your son’s precious, sweet name. ¬†Amen.

I’d really like to hear about a time when The Word stopped you in your tracks and gave you a “kaleidoscope-moment”.