Thursday, January 28, 2010

Cause Me to Hear It

Remember hearing about Moses spending hours alone on the mountain talking with God and when he came back down to the people his face was radiant? The radiance was the reflection of the glory of God. See, Adam and Eve were created in a glorified body, but when they sinned the glory left them (Romans 3:23 For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.). One day we will receive our glorified bodies, but not until we are standing in front of the Glorified One.

Until then, the more we have long talks with Him and spend time with Him, the more we will reflect Him down here in this fallen world. The sweet thing is that we don't have to try to chase Him down for that time. He DESIRES it.

The girls and I are going to the YMCA in Corsicana. I go walk on the track while they do the elliptical machines. I use this time to pray over all the needs and hurts of those I love. Last week Leah came in and caught up with me and walked and talked the rest of the time. It was so sweet. Hannah and Rachel came in and walked behind us. I love this time. There are no phones, no interruptions. Just us. Walking, talking, and laughing.

Yesterday before they got in there I found myself watching the door, waiting for them. Anxious for them to be there.

That's how our Father is with us. He is anxious for us to come to Him and walk, talk, and laugh with Him. To cry to Him and belly laugh with Him.

I love the book of Song of Solomon. In verse 14 of chapter 2 this King is looking for his beloved bride. He calls out to her "let Me see your face, let Me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely." Sometimes our faces are dirty and hard but He sees loveliness. He hears beauty even if our voice is riddled with emotion. When we leave His presence our faces radiate Him, the wrinkles are not as deep and the liver spots as dark. Our eyes have a sparkle and we have what we need to love on others around us.

At the very end of the book, He has gone away but will be coming back for his Bride. Love this. He says to her "O you who dwell in the gardens, with companions listening to your voice, let me hear it". The King James says "Cause me to hear it". Oh man, I love this. Can't you see Him bending over looking down at you? He's saying, "Baby, you have time for everyone else. You are talking to all the others. Talk to me, Baby, let Me hear your voice. Please let Me hear it."

Oh, the emotion of that. To know that the creator of the universe desires to hear from me. Longs to hear from me. Almost more than this heart can hold.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Defining Moments

I was in Mardel before Christmas and listened to a Kutless CD that was on the end of the aisle. Standing there with these big headphones on, I listened to this song and literally leaned my head over onto the rack and tears fell to the floor. I have to share these words that mean so much to me.

If You washed away my vanity
If You took away my words
If all my world was swept away
Would You be enough for me?
Would my beating heart still sing?

If I lost it all
Would my hands stay lifted
To the God who gives and takes away
If You take it all
This life You've given
Still my heart will sing to You

When my life is not what I expected
The plans I made have failed
When there's nothing left to steal me away
Will You be enough for me?
Will my broken heart still sing?

Even if You take it all away
You'll never let me go
Take it all away
But I still know
That I'm Yours
I'm still Yours
Oh, I'm Yours
I'm still Yours

This song sucked me back to a warm spring day outside of Tomball Texas in 1990. Five years before that day, my daddy suddenly went home to be with the Lord. Two years after he left, my best friend was killed in a car accident. Then, three years later I was taking a walk to have a little "alone" time. Back at the house my husband was sitting in a recliner. All 130 pounds of him. He'd dropped about 100 pounds because of chemotherapy. The doctors hadn't given us any hope. At all.

I was walking and praying and singing, just enjoying the beauty of the tall trees and the quiet of being in the woods. I remember this clearly, as if it was yesterday. I was praying out loud, only for God and the rabbits and one deer to hear when suddenly I stopped dead in my tracks. This realization came to me so strong that I said "Lord, I know that everything and everyone dear to me could be taken away and I would be okay. I would be okay because I have You." I said it out loud. You can ask the deer.

Then I laughed. I laughed even though I knew I was about to raise three children on my own. I laughed because it was a joy that changed my life. An altar I could go back to time and again, whenever I or someone else need to be reminded that He is faithful. So very faithful. It was a defining moment for me.

There's a young lady standing in a field. She prays out loud and thanks God for her past. For all the ugly things done to her for all her growing up years. A place she never thought she would come to. Giving thanks for something so awful. She even let the word "blessing" slip from her lips. This was defining moment for her.

Another young lady sits in a court room in another state listening to testimony of the horrendous crimes commited by a close family member. Keeping in touch with her through the process, I sense her faith growing. Not because his life might be spared, but because she feels the presence of the Lord over her every day. Pray that this will be a defining moment for her.

Another young lady approaches me Sunday after church. Her boyfriend was found dead the day before. The only thing her best friend knew to do to help her was bring her to church. I held her as she wept. I don't know if she even knows the Lord. As we walk her through these next weeks pray that He will become real to her. Pray that she'll come to the realization that no matter what is taken from you in this life, that Jesus is Faithful and True. He will never leave of forsake. Pray that she experiences a defining moment.

God, You amaze me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Who Needs Oil of Olay?

I love the change I see in the faces of people as they grow in the Lord. I told the ladies the other night that it was better than Oil of Olay. You can visibly see a softness come over the faces and in their voices the more they are in the word. It is transforming.

Last night we had 22 youth for our Wednesday night meeting. I'm not afraid of kids. Kinda like them in fact. That's why I had a few for myself. So it took me a little by surprise when I looked around the circle of almost grown kids; some wearing cowboy attire, some pajama pants, some in school clothes, that I felt a little sense of panic. About 10 or so of them have been coming awhile and you could tell. The others were here for friends, social interaction, to find a date. Or at least that's what they thought. They were really here because God wants to start the facial treatment on yet another group.

Why the panic? Don't ask me. At one point I think that "I'm too old for this" went through my brain. Thinking back, I remember sitting in the Baptist Student Center in Snyder wondering if I would ever be able to have a relationship with these rodeo girls who could pick up a barrel from the arena and toss it over the fence. Rodeo girls don't have a lot in common with former prissy cheerleader girls. When I saw them in their environment I cried just a little. Felt very incapable. Two of those girls eventually accepted Jesus. Along with several of the guys. One of the guys was a golfer from Denmark. I took a group of these kids to a weekend conference at Baylor University. On the way back, Morton the golfer asked in his Danish accent if we could sing the song "I Stand Amazed in the Presence". I fought back tears as I was driving around Waco trying to find the road home at how the Lord had so touched his heart.

Thinking back to Stillwater when at our first gathering with the youth there were a couple of girls that came in with clothes on that wouldn't much cover a swimsuit. That night I cried, wondering if we could ever love them enough to change hearts. Many of the university students I came to love like they belonged to me. We prayed together about future mates, future jobs and wisdom from the Lord. The relationships we made there will last a lifetime because of what God did in the hearts of a lot of students.

Our first Sunday here at Cowboy Church, once again praying in my heart "Father, I don't think I can minister to these women. They have been through so much more than me. I have nothing in common with them." I didn't cry a little. I cried a lot. The Lord spoke to me through Michael. He told me to love them until they learn to love and serve them until they learn to serve. What I found was that there were already a few here doing that. Made it easier for me to step in. So grateful. I wish you could sit where I sit on Monday nights and see the beautiful, sometimes tired, but oh, so beautiful faces of transformed women.

So I know the panic I felt for a bit last night was nothing new for me. Another chapter. Another group desperately needing a makeover from the One Who made them. A personal touch that would soften features, soften hearts. But not just for them. Bring it on Lord Jesus.

Fruit Basket Turnover

All the kids came in the Sunday night after Christmas. They all stayed up playing on the Wii Fit. Kayla and I went on to bed so we could get up Monday morning and go get Ireta to spend a couple of days with us. She told me on the trip over that she was laying in her bed the night before listening to everyone laughing. She said there was a couple of times they all just busted out. Not "ha ha that was funny" but the "kind of laughter that you knew Dad's face was red and the boys were bent over and the girls on the floor, all holding stomachs". Made her smile. Made me smile when she told me. Someone very dear to me bought me a little framed print that says, "I always knew I would look back at the tears and laugh, but I never knew I would hear the laughter and cry". I wiped tears. I am so blessed to have kids that love being together and miss each other when they are apart.
Before they all had to go back home I made them all go outside for new pictures. Stood them in a line to get a traditional pose. Then I divided them into apples, bananas and oranges for a game of Fruit Basket Turnover. I called out two fruits and they had to run to trade places. The pictures of them running to get a place are funny but as I was taking pictures, I noticed Eli watching and smiling at what the big kids were doing. So precious.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Coming in May

There was quite a commotion in the living room the second day the kids were home and I heard "Go show Lollie". Eli walked in with a t-shirt that had "BIG BRO" on the front and "COMING IN MAY" on the back. Who needs Christmas presents?

Friday, January 15, 2010

No Burdens There

Tony and Genevieve started coming to the Cowboy Church about three years ago. Tony began attending the men’s bible study on Monday nights, loving the study and interaction between the men. He shared with us early on that he was battling cancer and knew he was getting closer to the end. Tony was in a lot of pain. He shared those things with Michael but didn’t let on to anyone the way he was feeling. Never complained. Ever. Most people didn’t even know he was sick.

He told Michael once that every Sunday morning when he would come into church, he would see the hat rack and leave his burdens there. As he passed the hat rack on the way out, he realized he didn't have to carry them back out the door. He left them with the Lord. Our first Sunday in the new building Michael made sure the hat rack was there so Tony would be able to continue to unload as he had the many months before.

The last several months Tony couldn’t come to church. He asked us to pray that he could have one more Monday night with the men. He got it. Thirty-something men showed up that night to hear what advice a dying man would give. Changed many of their lives.

A man in our church made a hat rack to go in the room where the men meet on Mondays. Tony left his hat there. He doesn’t need it anymore. There are no burdens in heaven.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

No Days Off

Monday I dropped the girls and food off at the church to go to the funeral home for Tony’s funeral. The girls were going to do school there and we would be feeding the family after the funeral. I drove up to the funeral home and saw that it was packed and thought it would be better to go back and help organize the food for the family.

Hadn’t been back at the church long when a woman brought her food then asked if she could speak with me for a minute. With tears in her eyes, she asked for prayer because she would be meeting her husband in the next few hours at the courthouse to finalize their divorce. We prayed and she left. Here was a wife with a broken heart.

Within minutes another precious sister shared with me that her son told her the day before that he was no longer taking chemotherapy to stop his cancer. He has been fighting for five years and is tired. Here was a mom with a broken heart.

A little later I asked another sweet lady about her mother. The tears started flowing down her cheeks so we went down the hall and she shared with me that her mom was very sick. She said that she would not be so fearful if she knew for sure that her mom knew the Lord. Here was a daughter with a broken heart.

Sitting in yet another funeral after Tony’s, Michael and I listened to the testimony of a 94-year-old grandmother who was the only spiritual example her granddaughter had growing up. Because of the faithfulness of this precious lady, her granddaughter is striving to be all God wants her to be. Here was a granddaughter with a broken heart.

Last night I sat with a two young ladies who have made some bad decisions in their lives and are having to learn the hard way how to do it right. They both are thinking family has turned their backs, I am knowing this has to be so they can learn to trust the Lord. Praying they will get things right. Praying their families will continue to pray. Here was a family with a broken heart.

When Genevieve sat by Tony’s casket Monday, she looked at her son and told him to get her a blanket. She was not going to leave. She just couldn’t bear to. Here was a soul-mate with a broken heart.

There are no days off for the enemy.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Words will Never Hurt Me

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” I remember saying that as a child and even then thinking that it really didn’t make sense. I knew words hurt. I remember sticking my tongue out at someone in fourth grade and the awful feeling I had in my stomach because I knew what I did was wrong and was hurtful. I’m sorry Dena.
Sometimes a person might say something to me about someone else that isn’t very nice. Many times I know the person they are talking about because we’ve visited about life stuff. So when a comment is made I just want to say, “If you only know what their heart is like. What they’ve been through”.
We make so many unfair assumptions about people we really don’t know. Makes my heart hurt. Ephesians 4:29 tells us we are to build each other up to minister grace to the hearers. The word grace there means “joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness, goodwill, lovingkindness”.
When is the last time you spoke joy to someone? How about sweetness?
I get so tired of hearing bad things come out of people’s mouths. Or when you walk up they stop talking because they don’t want you to hear what they are saying. Chances are they aren’t speaking grace over someone.
I was cleaning up my inbox in my email the other day and came across an email from Brandi about the power of the tongue. Proverbs 18 says that death and life are in the power of the tongue. We don’t realize how powerful our words are. If we are not speaking life (grace) over a person, we are speaking death. Scares me a little bit. How many times, intentional or unintentional, have I spoken death over someone. It may seem like what I say is not hurtful but sometimes it cuts right to the heart. Whoa.
We always, always, always have to think about being a reflection of Jesus. Philippians 2 tells us that He became a servant. He humbled himself. Having a true sense of humility means you recognize the sense of your littleness.
If we are truly a reflection of our humble Jesus, we will speak life. Speak grace. To our husband, our children, our co-workers, our fellow believers.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Closer

Can't remember if there is really anything in my life I have started and seen to it's completion in a timely fashion (except a meal). For some reason, my brain goes on to the next "to do" before I've finished the project I'm on. I wish I wasn't like that and try to do better. Every year one of my resolutions is to be a "finisher, a completer, a closer", but I never stay with it the whole year. Of course not.

I was complaining about it to Cathy once while we were at Walmart in Brownwood. We found some shirts we tried on and then finished shopping for groceries to take back to the lake. As I looked down to pick up a carton of eggs I saw that there were only two buttons buttoned on my shirt. Didn't finish getting dressed.

Michael came in one day and asked if I was going somewhere. I told him that I had just got back from town about thirty minutes before. His eyebrows went up and asked, "Is there a reason you left the car running?" I couldn't think of a good excuse to go back into town so I had to honestly admit that I didn't turn it off.

I walked into the kitchen a few weeks back and most all of the cabinet doors were open. They were randomly left open as I was in a cooking frenzy. I walked around shutting all the doors. Felt like Vanna White. So much so, that I opened them all again and closed them a second time with a little more grace. Pretending just for a moment.

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul knew his time of death was approaching. He, with confidence, said "I have fought the good fight, I have FINISHED the race, I have kept the faith." After Paul believed, he lived his life with diligence. He gave all. Until the very end. I wonder if, actually I know that there are spiritual things where I've dropped the ball. Michael preached on 1Peter 3:15 where it says that we are to always be ready to give account of the hope that is within us. That means we are ready to share or listen even if it isn't convenient. Look for the God appointments. I feel bad because I know that there are times that I miss those appointments because of my selfishness. I see that as slacking in my race. I don't want to be a slacker. I want to give all.

I want, like Paul, to have confidence that I'm a finisher. A closer. That my spiritual life isn't a reflection of my physical life in this instance. That I will cross the finish line with shirt buttoned, car turned off and cabinet doors closed. That everyone who needed Jesus and came to me for Him got Him. Oh please, that they got Him.