Monday, April 23, 2018

BLESSINGS in the Storms

I have been sharing the last several months about us having storms in our lives..  We have been through many, many.

In November, our son had some very serious health problems.

In January, our son's wife left him.

Without going into a lot of personal things.....things with our son and his wife have gone down south............lots of stress and lost hope.  Every week....there is another surprise.

In the middle of all of that.........Roger lost his secular job in November............he had major reconstructive surgery on his shoulder April 3 and will go through at least 8-10 weeks of Physical Therapy.

I have been having shoulder issues........was finally sent to a specialist and had an MRI April 2.  Found out last Thursday.....that my issues have been from my neck....I have several serious issues going on and there is NO permanent fix.  I am scheduled to have an epidural injection Friday of this week and I begin Physical therapy for my neck issues.  I can have 4-6 epidural injections a year and with that and exercise, I will live with my issues.



BUT.....in the middle of all of these storms............I sat down and started writing down our blessings.

  • Our son's health problems are 100% better.  We have our son BACK.  God is Good.
  • Our finances are being taken care of.........and we can live comfortably without Roger's secular job..  God is good.
  • This is the first time in our twenty-one years of ministry at our church that we desperately NEEDED their prayers.........even though at the beginning, we could not share.  Our church stepped up to bat.  They have PRAYED for us, LOVED on us and been there for us.  It has been a humbling experience, but God has used it to grow our members spiritually.  God is good.
  • We are a country church............that started out with 12 in Sunday School and 32 for preaching and they praised God for the large number for the visiting minister.  We have had 11 baptisms since December and approximately 8 others have joined.........we are growing in numbers and in spiritual growth.  Our church is on fire.  We have run out of space and have begun to talk of a major Building Program. We now run 85-90's in Sunday School and 140-150 in preaching.  God is good.

Anyway......as I began to list our blessings...............the list of blessings got much longer than the storms. 

Our Blessings by far out-weigh the STORMS.......................God is good.

Maybe you are one of my sisters that is facing some major storms in your life right now.....we all go through STORMS.  That is life.....we all have them......if you are not experiences storms right now, I am sure you have in the past.

Sometimes we ALL need to just sit down and physically write out our Blessings. 

God is sooo good
.


I love you all and thank you for the prayers.  Please keep praying for my family, especially our son, Cody.  God will get him through this..........but it is not going to be easy......but GOD is STILL IN CONTROL.



Friday, April 20, 2018

Good Out of the Hard

Watching my grandmother wince with pain whenever she has the slightest cough is hard.

Seeing my family reconcile her mortality is heavy.

Facing the loss of someone very much loved just plain hurts.

There are seasons of life that are just plain hard, heavy and hurtful.

I don't know how people without Christ make it through.

Again, in my quiet time last weekend, God spoke to me through a writer for Desiring God on Instagram: "One day all the things that have caused you tears will seem as light and momentary afflictions" - Calley Sivils

The tears were still fresh on my face. The uncertainty of the past 24 hours was still stinging. I was still struggling with the load of all that could happen and will eventually happen -knowing that I needed to lay it at His feet. . . Nothing about what I was experiencing or feeling at that moment seemed "light" or "momentary."

Yet I was drawn to the Scripture passage referenced by her quote:

"For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison." 2 Corinthians 4:17

The image of a set of scales filled my mind with my current situation on one side and my future reality on the other. This side feels eternal and weighty now, but the passage says that it is light and momentary because it cannot be compared to the glory that is to come.

Besides, the affliction of today has a purpose. What we are facing today prepares FOR us the weight of glory that we are waiting for. I don't quite understand how all of that works, but I know it does.

How do I know that this verse is true? As I read this promise from 2 Corinthians and pictured the scales in my mind, the Holy Spirit comforted me with a wave of hope. It washed over me. The scales break under the weight of God's glory. I was reminded that the hope my grandmother has, and my family embraces cannot be measured against our current turmoil.

No matter how heavy or dark our current situation is, no matter how far away that light at the end of the tunnel may seem, no matter the bleakness of the diagnosis of the circumstances  - none of it can compare to what is come. Our faith will be made sight.

As I returned to Tennessee and my husband and daughters on Sunday, I sang through part of my collection of old Steven Curtis Chapman CDs. I remembered the circumstances surrounding the times of my life that those tunes were the soundtrack of my days. The truths of his lyrics still hold true today.

And I worshiped. When I called my mom to let her know I was back in the Volunteer State, my voice was even a little raspy.

The weekend was hard. It was draining and difficult. But . . . as I pressed into my God, as I turned my focus onto Him - He upheld me. He answered my prayers and I felt His presence.

Someone might say that I can only type these things because my grandmother lives and God answered my prayers the way I wanted.

Those things are true, but God also showed me that next time He may not, and that's okay.

He is with me when things are hard, heavy and hurtful.

He will not leave me alone. He keeps His promises.

He showed me that these things are also true.

I can trust that the suffocating things of today are light and momentary and incomparable to the eternity that is coming . . . .

Yes, my weekend changed with a phone call. It was not what I had planned or expected. It was hard.

But because my God is good. . .  It was too.

Good doesn't mean easy. Sometimes there is only a good that can be realized in the hard.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New Memories

As I drove the six hours over various interstates and highways, I was not sure if I'd make it in time. I did not know what I would find when my journey ended.

So many questions flooded my thoughts - none of which I could possibly know the answers to and each of which could lead my imagination to places I didn't want to go.

The word "Remember" came to mind from my devotion that morning as I struggled to take captive the thoughts that could so easily influence my weight on the gas pedal and my ability to adhere to other important traffic laws. (See my previous post.)

I was forced to accept my limitations. My eyes were fully opened to the MANY things of which I have no control over. My prayers confessed those truths as I pleaded for His will to be done and for His peace to abound, covering us all.

As I entered the hospital room to find my grandmother laying there with a barrage of monitors with all their wiring and tubes, once again I found my Heavenly Father faithful.

Into the night and over the next day, I learned of how God had indeed answered my prayers for peace. She told me of her near death experience and how she said "the Lord" had comforted her. She was no longer so afraid of the process of dying - that she knew that when her time did in fact come He had assured her that she wouldn't be alone.

I will treasure those conversations and moments of just sitting by her hospital bed. I will pass on the stories she told- not just of her youthful days but also of God's provision for her 89 years so far. I will also share how God showed me His presence in my uncertainty and how He is so much more than adequate and sufficient when I am completely powerless and incapable.

Yes, it's true that we learn much more about God in our dark places. When we are faced with our limitations and inadequacies, we are more likely to depend upon Him.

For me it was my inability to heal my grandmother or ease my mother's anxieties or to get there faster - For my grandmother it was facing full on her fear of dying (not of death, she's secure in her eternal salvation but the process of getting to her final destination is a real fear for all of us if we're honest.)

Friday, God brushed aside the distractions and demands of every day life to reveal the place He has always been to remind me that He will always be there.

As the sun set to my left on I-75 North in southwestern Ohio, I sang hymns and choruses to the One who wasn't answering my questions but was reminding me that He was with me. I wasn't alone in that car.

My grandmother isn't facing her mortality alone.

My mother and my aunt have His supernatural, raising-Jesus-from-the dead, strength to press on.

She is still with us and not physically with her Lord yet. We all know the grief of losing our matriarch is still creeping ever closer, more now than ever, and the awareness is keen. When that time does indeed come - I want to embrace those feelings knowing that God is with me in them.

When the pain pierces and interrupts the flow of my ordinary, mundane life I will remember when God gave me this past weekend - my time with her, yes of course,  but also how it all led to sweet time with Him. I learned more of His character, His faithfulness and His goodness.

Yes, I knew of those truths before the phone call came but by the end of the day I had first-hand experience of them.

All of us are either facing something now, or will be soon enough. None of us is immune to hard seasons. God is just teaching me to accept them through His grace, not to ignore them or wish them away. God is allowing them to grow me and make me long expectantly for the day when my faith has truly become sight.

I don't know what you may be facing, but I hope these words have brought reminders to you of His faithfulness and purposeful reliability. Our prayers confessing our short-comings and pleading for His presence will NOT be ignored. These are the cries He rushes to our side to answer. These are the moments in time where He gives us new memories of His goodness to us.


Monday, April 16, 2018

"Remember"

My weekend plans changed drastically with a phone call Friday morning.

In the middle of the discussion time I was leading for a MOPs group, it came.

The next hour or two became a blur of making contacts to cancel plans and packing clothes to accommodate several potential outcomes.

Hot tears fueled by "what-if" fears made concentrating hard, but as the odometer surely ticked the miles passing by, the still small voice of the One who knew what the day would hold long before I did,  simply seemed to say, "Remember."

Remember what? I knew instantly. In my quiet time that morning, I had been extolled to "Remember." That one word whispered to my soul was all I needed to put things into perspective.

I follow Desiring God on Instagram and that morning this is what I had read:

We complain because we forger. Take a moment and look back on God's fingerprints all over your life. . . 

  • Remember how God has protected you from making shipwreck of your life. 
  • Remember how God graciously let you grow up in a godly family. 
  • Remember how God awakened you to the ugliness of your sin. 
  • Remember how you walked away from that terrible car crash. 
  • Remember hour your wife, sister or mom survived breast cancer. 
  • Remember how you had mentors and key friends guide you in your faith.
  • Remember how God sustained you during that season of unemployment.
  • Remember how God miraculously healed you.
  • Remember that impossible prayer request that God answered. 
  • Remember how you had no money and an envelope just showed up in the mail with exactly the amount you needed. 
  • Remember how the gospel cam alive as it never had before. 
  • Remember God. 
The antidote to spiritual amnesia is making every effort to recall and remember God's gracious deliverance. The fact that you -a sinner who was an enemy of God- are now a beloved child is miracle. Don't let that wonder ever fade. Remember.

Let this act of remembering awaken in you joy in God and a deep sense of gratitude that God loves you, knows you, and keeps you."  -Steven Lee

Dear Sister, I don't know what you are facing, but I know you are either facing something, OR soon enough you will be. I don't have the answers for you, but I know the God who does. He has always been faithful - just as He was to me Friday -awakening me to this truth in the planned quiet of that particular morning and then again in the unforeseen chaos of that afternoon.

Make your own list and remember. Remember today. Remember later.

Remember.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pressing or Precious


It was in 1979 and I remember the day as if it were yesterday!! (YES, I am aware that MANY of you were not even born then!)


It is rather odd that I can remember that day in 1979 when I can’t remember if I put on deodorant after my shower just now!!  Hummm….does it have anything to do with the fact that I am old enough to be around in 1979?  Anyway….back to 1979….

I was busy doing who-knows-what and our toddler daughter came teeter-tottering up to me and said, “Ock me Momma, Ock me!?  For those of you who might need a translation…she was saying “Rock me, Momma, Rock me!?

Immediately I responded, “Oh honey, not now….mommy’s busy,”

To this day I have no idea what in the world I was so preoccupied and busy doing….but I am fairly sure it had to do with some important and pressing thing like folding clothes or talking on the phone or some other not important and pressing thing.

Not too long after I dismissed her request the Holy Spirit yelled at me and said, “GO OCK THAT BABY!”  Have you ever noticed that the Holy Spirit can be rather bossy!??

So, that is exactly what I did.  I stopped whatever pressing and important thing I was doing and called that little girl to me.  We got in to the rocking chair.  We rocked, and we rocked, and we rocked….for about…..25 seconds!  Twenty five seconds was all she needed!!  Wanted!!  Twenty five stink-n seconds to do the precious thing and let the pressing things wait!  Twenty five seconds!!

Later that same year I read this article in Home Life Magazine called "Pressing or Precious".  Truthfully, it was as if the author of that article had been in our home that day a few months earlier and wrote about what she witnessed happening with our daughter and me!


I was so convicted and affected by the experience and the article that it hung on our refrigerator door for decades!  Decades, I say, decades!!  (Notice the yellowing of the paper?)


Why did I leave it there?  "I got up from the rocking chair with a new perspective on what was important..."
I did it as a reminder that every.single.day I have choices to make.  Will I do the pressing or will I do the precious??


Go and do something precious....the pressing can wait.  The precious doesn't.  Luke 10:38-42

Monday, April 9, 2018

When Your Plans Change

I am supposed to be in Tennessee right now!

I am supposed to be at the TBCSA (Tennessee Baptist Convention Secretaries Association) right now!

I am supposed to be teaching Excel right now!

I am supposed to teach Time Management tomorrow!

But instead…..

I am in Indiana.

I am in much pain because I have done something crazy, ridiculous to my back.

I am bummed.  Sad.  Teary.  Disappointed.

I am pretty sure we all have had to make that dreaded phone call telling someone that you cannot do/attend/help whatever it is you had committed to do/attend/help with…..and I am pretty sure we have all gotten that dreaded phone call.

No one likes to make the call and no one likes to get that call.

I am so grateful for the grace that Lana Rose extended to me when, while I was on my way to Tennessee, she got my sobbing phone call telling her I was in such pain I had to turn around to go home and see the Doctor.  When I sent the text telling her the Doctor said there was no way I was going to Tennessee...more grace was given.

Much grace was extended to me. 

As I ponder this…It hits me that I desperately want to extend much grace to those who disappoint me…or to those who thwart “my” plans….or to those who sadden me.

There are two things I must do in situations like this…whether I am the one making the ‘bad news’ call or the one receiving the ‘bad news’ call.

  1. I must trust God and His plan!  My “Truth” for the last year or two has been “God has a plan….and He will provide!”  (and faith lives in the gap between the plan and the providing.) 
  2. I must extend much grace.
Who do you need to extend much grace to? 

And, hummm....maybe I should share a few Time Management or Excel tips on the blog this week!

Thursday, April 5, 2018

A President; A Cowboy; A Trucker; A Doctor



A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to attend the TN Ministers’ Wives Retreat at Dollywood’s Dream More Resort.  It was a fabulous time of fellowship and fun reuniting with some girlfriends I have not seen in many years.  Honestly, my stomach hurt from all the laughing I did.
During the retreat, Jeanne Davis, TN Executive wife, had us participate in “our story.”  One questioned she asked was as a child what we wanted to be and how that occupation could be used in our ministry now.   I cannot answer for the other groups at the retreat, but the group of ladies I sat with were as crazy as I am.  From my group the three most unique occupations were:  President, Cowboy, and Trucker.   (Let me tell you I am STILL laughing from the table conversation that followed).

To answer the question of how these occupations could be used in our ministries now, I came home and began to really ponder.  (Warning:  the pondering was done “under the influence” of M & M’s and contrived within my crazy blonde brain.  I soon realized that this blog would be serious and might sound harsh so please forgive me ahead of time).  So here we go:

President- this person holds the highest executive office and presides over the body.  They must make difficult decisions at times which hopefully will be for the good of the people.  If the church was run by the President, after all attempts to unify the body, they could issue an executive order to remove all “dissenters” (those who disagree with the goals and beliefs of the church).  After all, don’t we all want peace and unity within the body of Christ?

Once the order has been issued by the President, a cowboy would come in to round up the dissenters who have strayed far from the teachings and beliefs of the church and herd them out in to an awaiting truck.  Oh, this cowboy has to be on guard at all times because some of the “dissenters” attempt to sneak back in among with fold.  Haven’t we all witnessed some nayer-sayers within our churches?  When confronted by fellow Christians about their behavior, those individuals will be quiet for a period of time but then start their destructive complaining and selfishness again. 

The next person waiting for the dissenters is the trucker.  This person has patiently waited.  They have witness countless attempts to restore broken relationships and correct poor actions.   In the end, the trucker is responsible hauling the dissenters to a distance location away from the church body.  As they leave, the church body including the President and the cowboy pray for the healing of the those who have left.

Now, some of you might be a little offended at the fictional representation.  However, I do believe many of God’s churches are suffering greatly from those individuals who whine, cry, demand their own way and whose beliefs do not line up with Christianity.  They have lost sight of the true mission of the body of Christ-to bring more souls to heaven.  Personally, I believe many of the dissenters in our churches have a spiritual issue that is the result of a broken relationship with Jesus.  They need a healing touch from the Father.  With that in mind, I will add another occupation to our list-a doctor.

When a sick/hurt animal is separated from the other animals, a vet tends to them.  He assesses their needs and treats them.  The hope is that the ill animal can be restored to the others.   However, in some cases, the healer can do nothing for the sick animal. 

The same goes with the local church.  We need to love and pray for those who cause dissension within the body.  Sometimes, it is necessary to remove a person from leadership or have a meeting with an individual who is causing harm to the body of Christ.  Sadly, and on rare occasions, a person may be asked to leave the church because their actions are damaging the unity and fellowship of the body of Christ.  This is where the ultimate doctor-Jesus-comes in.  It is the prayer of the church body that the harmful person will come to realize that they are out of the will of Christ.  Jesus is the only answer for hope and healing of a hardened heart.  It is the church body’s hope that the person who caused damage will repent of their ways and be restored to a right relationship with Jesus and with the congregation.

I know this blog story is fictional and arose from fun at the retreat.  I do hope no one takes offense to it.  Church disciple rarely happens anymore but when it does, it is for the healing of both the local body of Christ and the individual.  It is my prayer that if your church is experiencing disunity or someone is causing damage to the body that through prayer and reconciliation the person can be restored to the body to fulfill their Christ-calling there.





Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The Day I was Called a Beth Moore



At the Tennessee Ministers’ Wives Retreat in March, I was called one of the “Beth Moore” bloggers for our site.  I am quite certain that I may have laughed and spewed chocolate from my mouth onto Kathy Britton as she said these words.  If I did, Kathy, I apologize and I hope the chocolate stain comes out of your clothes.

Seriously, NO ONE has ever referred to me like that.  When I think of Beth Moore, I think of someone who is deep in the word daily and who prays constantly.  Oh, I know she has fun and enjoys laughing and fellowshiping with friends. 

On the other hand, I try to have my daily quiet time and discern what the Lord is saying to me that day.  However, there are days I get so caught up in the “to-do” list that my quiet time slides to the side. 

I do pray through out the day.  My prayers are little short, snippets like “Lord, watch of my family,” or “Lord, help me have a good attitude toward so and so and not want to slap them in Jesus’ name.”  Yes, I do pray but sometimes my prayers are shallow and empty.  My best time to pray is when I am heading to bed.  It calms me down and I can be grateful for the Lord’s protection throughout the day.

Oh, and doesn’t Beth Moore do public speaking?  Girlfriends, pass the Pepto!  Yes, I have done some retreats and break out sessions at conferences.  I have been a main character in Christmas and Easter productions in front of crowds at church.  However, I have never stood on a stage in front of thousands of women and delivered God’s message.  Every time I stand in front of a group I shake in my shoes.  (Oh, and never put me in front of or lock me in with thirty preschoolers.  That’s another story for another time).

Kathy, I am quite honored you consider me a “Beth Moore” blogger.  However, as I always say, I am a “beach bum, chocoholic, crazy preacher’s wife who loves Jesus and laughing with my girlfriends.”

By the way, Kathy is just as crazy as I am if not crazier.  It is my joy to call her friend. 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Jesus is Alive!



Although the world wants to deny Christ existence or at best just say he was “a good man,” the fact is Jesus is a real person.  He suffered and died on a cruel cross and was placed in a dark, cold tomb for three days.  Oh, but on that third day, death could not hold him.  He rolled back the stone from the entrance of the tomb and walked out.  He broke the chains of death.  HE’S ALIVE!

The world around us needs to see the JOY believers have in Christ.  They need to see us celebrating victory over death.  Yes, we experience trials and sufferings.  The world stops and wonders why Christians can face their trials.  The answer is that our joy is found in Christ and nothing can rob us of it.

HOPE is another thing our world needs.  Stock markets crash, violence is splashed across the tv screens, and war rages.  Is it a wonder that stress and depression exist?  Families are torn apart through divorce, suicides, addictions and so much more.  Where is their hope?  Christians need to share-in the grocery line, at school, at our jobs, etc.- the hope found in Jesus Christ with the dying world. 

On this Easter Sunday and every day, let’s proclaim to the world around us that . . .


                       JESUS IS ALIVE!