Monday, June 25, 2012

Love Does...

I am sitting here in Peepee's home writing this blog a bit late for this week’s deadline. Really his name is Pastor Jim, but honestly he and Miss Sheila will always be Peepee and Meemee in my heart and in my mind. These were the names he gave us to call them when we were on our mission trip in South Africa together. At that time he and Meemee were about to be grandparents and a more excited set of grandparents you could not find. If you have not noticed yet he is quite a character. There is always some mischief going on when he is around especially when there is a twinkle in his eyes. (I will have you know, there is almost always a twinkle so you have been fore-warned.)

Today is a hot, sunny and slightly muggy day here in Tennessee. Their beautiful home is pleasantly quiet as everyone takes a well needed rest from this last week’s excitement and thrills at the youth camp for Pastor Jim's, "Peepee's" church. I find myself gratefully lounging in one of their wonderful comfy chairs while dear Julia takes a nap on the couch near me. I must remember to awaken her in an hour or so.

I know none of this sounds very thrilling, but I find myself overwhelmed with God's peace and I am so very grateful. This trip almost did not happen. In so many ways the enemy tried to meddle and put a halting stop on those traveling here to Pikeville, Tennessee.

This was a trip designed by God and carried through by Pastor Jim and Miss Sheila's obedience to God's request to bring a South African mission’s team to the Youth Camp this week to speak to the youth.  

You see last year, right about this time Andria, myself, and 4 others were getting ready to leave for South Africa. It was an absolutely amazing trip that changed our lives and hearts in many ways. While we were serving there we met some of the most wonderful friends and family in Christ from all over the U.S. and South Africa.

We have had such an ache in our hearts to see each other again, but quite honestly it was not on my radar that I would have these moments happen so soon. They were more like secret whispers of prayer and a fleeting dream that someday I would give them hugs, shed tears of joy and worship the Lord together with them again.

There was an amazing bond which occurred while we were together in the constant cold and rains of last year’s South African winter. Serving in rough conditions, during attack after attack from the enemy we found

Such joy...

Such peace...

Such love...

I could go on, but these stories are not for today's blog. I am mentioning them because joy, peace, and love are things that occur in the midst and sometimes messiness of being God's hands and feet to the lost or hurting.

 Today though, is just a moment to say thank you to my Lord, and to remember that Love does.

I love this phrase...
Love does.

Bob Goff, wrote a book very aptly named, Love Does. I find it a blast to read. It's simple, hilarious and to the point. Love does.

This is just how our Lord is. It's not about what He is going to do for you. God has already done it at the cross, but our Lord who paid the ultimate sacrifice for us does not stop there, and He could mind you, but no!

He continuously shows up every day and does the amazing for us if we are willing to open our eyes and see it. From the seemingly simple to the profound there is so much our Lord is doing for us and it always revolves around this… His love for us.

Love does.

This is why I can sit here in the cool of Pastor Jim and Miss Sheila's home and happily listen to dear Julia's quiet breathing as she sleeps. I can hear Meemee in the kitchen getting things ready for tonight’s dinner. (I need to type a bit faster so I can get out there and hopefully help her). I know that in the next 2 rooms are Rhoda, Andria, and my dear sister in Christ Liesl taking naps soundly. My praise brother Ryan is with Michelle and Jason whom it has been a joy to get to know as well. What a joy. I never would have dreamed of this privilege to be here with them all. It brings grateful tears to my eyes thinking on how God has used each one of these dear friends and family to be His hands and feet this last week, and even month.  Love does.
So what can you do today? How can you be the Lord's hands and feet and do something in Love for someone else?  Please don't just think about it and then let the day’s cares, errands, and worries interrupt your follow through. Do it.

Remember Love does.

Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment." The second is like it; "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

Peepee and his triplets!

Sunday dinner at Peepee and Meemee's home.

The girls with lovely "Meemee", Miss Sheila.

Last time we were together my dear sister in Christ Liesl and I forgot to get a picture together.
Oh so silly!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

“UGH! Mom! Where are all the churches when you really need them?!”

A few months ago, we were on a family trip to the lovely state of Wisconsin. To pass the time for the seemingly endless car ride that my kids were experiencing, “Are we theeeere yet?” We were playing a fun game of Travel Bingo.  (I know none of your kids ever ask that question right?)

We were nearing the part of the game where we were all frantically searching the road sides for the last item that would complete our row so we could triumphantly scream, “BINGO!” when, my 6 year old daughter exclaimed,

“UGH! Mom! Where are all the churches
when you really need them?"
 I was speechless… Her frustrated little plea hit me like a ton of bricks. I know… I know she was just frustrated because she wanted to spot a church quickly so that she could mark it off her Bingo card and scream for joy at beating her siblings to the win, but she was profoundly right on another level.

She had hit the nail on the head. My husband even replied too her, “You’re right honey. You are right.”

 It struck such a cord with me that I confess I flipped my bingo card over and wrote down her words. I sat there lost in thought, completely losing the game, because I couldn’t stop reading that quote of hers over and over, and over again.

It struck a deep cord with me because this simple question had already been haunting the paths of my heart for years. It sounds even more peculiar if you know me, and know that I attend a very healthy and active church. God was using my daughter’s frustration with the game to cement it into my heart in a way that I could no longer ignore it as I had been.

 I decided to no longer view this problem as so big and daunting that I find myself thinking, “What in the world can I do about it?” Instead, I will just be obedient and remember how big my God is. I have now started this new adventure and I will fill you in on what God has been challenging me to do. So far it's been a lot of work, but amazing as usual. God is faithful!

 If God calls, then I have to answer. It’s how many an amazing adventure starts with Him and I don’t want to miss it even if it seems crazy. I am just a mom. I am just a volunteer youth worker. I am just a follower of Christ, but I do know The Great I AM, and He is the one that counts. He is the one who will do the changing. So here I am Lord send me.

Will you join me?
Can we be God’s hands and feet together?
Can we be the church not just go to church?

The adventure may look different for each of us. It may take each of us to different places or keep us in our own neighborhoods. We are just answering God’s call to be His church, not just attend it. It has nothing to do with the actual building and everything to do with what you are building with.

Church arise, arise and shine

Shake yourself from the dust

God is calling us to go            -Leeland

Please take a moment and listen to the words of the song, "While We Sing" by Leeland. I have it posted in the previous blog.

♫While we sing - Leeland (w/ lyrics)♫

Monday, June 4, 2012

Questions on Friendship continued...

In my last post I had just finished confessing to you about being a bad friend to someone who had been nothing, but good to me. Please take a second and read it so you understand where I am headed in this continuation. As my husband would say, "Here comes the Jesus juke."

John 15:15
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

He calls me His friend. The Lord of Lords. The King of Kings! The Creator of the Universe…calls me His friend. He has shown me nothing but love. He is patient. He doesn’t scream at me. He never ever hangs up on me, but I have done all three to Him and so much more.

I have had times where all I did when I prayed and spoke to Him was treat Him like a vending machine. I would show up with my “God you need to do this” list, leaving no time for His reply. I did not give a thought to His concerns and His heart. I did not have time for His calls, His cares, and even sometimes when He would start to get a word in edge wise I would interrupt Him. I would disagree with Him. I even have had moments where I blamed Him for my own bad choices and the consequences that I ended up with. I have been angry and yelled at Him. Ugh I am pretty much disgusted with myself.

My friends, I know how I would treat a friend like that. I would be done with them. I would not even feel guilty about never speaking to someone again who treated our friendship so poorly. Yet God, He loves me anyways. He goes to great lengths to get my attention. He never gives up. His love never runs out, and when I finally come around again to have a two way conversation. When I finally come to hear from Him, about His thoughts, His heart, and His plans, He does not treat me with resentment. He does not treat me as I deserve to be treated. Ugh… (Read Psalm 103:8-12)

It’s humbling. It’s really, really humbling, but when I have finally knelt at His feet and asked Him for forgiveness, for acting so rotten, for treating Him like a magical, all powerful, vending machine genie. He looks down with love and He immediately offers his soothing balm of forgiveness.

Have you been there? Have you ever treated God like this? Are you doing it right now?

There is this simple verse, but it’s not so simple to do.

Psalm 46:10

“Be still and know that I am God.”

It’s even better when we see it a little more in context with some of its surrounding verses.

Psalm 46:9-11

“He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear;

He burns the shields with fire.

He says, “Be still and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations;

I will be exalted in the earth.”

This is important friends. It’s so important for us to be still and know Him, that God stops wars over it. The end result is that we are to exalt Him and when we take time to exalt Him we remember how big He is. How powerful He is. How He can handle everything that comes our way. He is Faithful!
So please, take a moment and be still. If your thoughts keep racing away with your to do list of errands and grocery shopping, studying and papers to write, people to call, and things to fix, then I highly suggest putting on some praise music. Turn off your cell phone, and computer. (Yes, it’s possible to do this!) Find some time to hear God out. Have a 2 way conversation but most importantly leave room for Him to speak. In fact, leave more time for Him to speak then you. Take time to just honor God for who He is. Praise Him for His character traits. God you are faithful, loving, forgiving, full of justice, merciful and so on. List His many names. (Lord you are the Alpha and Omega. My Provider, Healer, Savior, Counselor, King of Kings, Lamb of God, and so on.) Thank Him for what He has done and will do in your life. Ask Him for forgiveness for how you have been treating Him. Then just listen. Be still and listen… You won’t regret it.