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Archive for the month “May, 2011”

When Your World Gets Rocked, Trust in THE ROCK

Around the time of Easter I was invited to speak at a Women’s group which meets the first Wednesday of each month. So, tomorrow I will be speaking at their June meeting. At first I thought that I would share a message that I had shared with our congregation a few months ago, but I just couldn’t make it fit. I really wasn’t feeling it. So, I continued to ponder what my message would be. Then this past Sunday evening during a music celebration service, it hit me. Out of the blue it struck me that June 1st would mark six years since my family’s world was rocked (and when I say rocked, I mean ROCKED). My eyes started to get a bit watery as images began flashing through my mind. Let me pause for a bit to share with you what happened on June 1, 2005.

I was a childcare director at a local United Methodist church at this time, and usually was at the church from 5:30 AM till around 2:00 PM. That day though I didn’t leave until around 4:00 PM.  I loaded my daughter Kirstin (then 3 years old) into the car and we headed home for the day. As I neared our house I noticed that the traffic was backed up. As I joined the traffic line, I thought to myself, “There must be a wreck.” The traffic line began to slowly move forward, and I looked ahead and saw that I was right. There was a wreck. As I got closer to the accident scene, I began thinking, “That car looks like my Mom’s car.” (The accident was right outside of her subdivision.) I began telling myself that there was no way that car was my Mom’s. It just looked like her car. The car was smashed, the ambulance was on the scene, and the police officer was directing traffic. I decided to reassure myself by driving into my Mom’s subdivision and driving past her house. I told myself that if her car was at home, then it definitely wasn’t her car. I drove past her house, and her car wasn’t in the car port. I circled around the neighborhood, telling myself over and over that it was not my Mom in the accident. As I pulled up to the highway and out of the subdivision, my heart dropped. My step-dad was pulling up to the scene, and he was getting out of his truck. I started to pull my car off to the side of the road, but remembered that I had a three-year old in the backseat. I continued to my house, and found someone to to watch my daughter while I returned to the scene. As I pulled up to the scene I was told by the police officer that he couldn’t give me any information, so I asked that he just tell my step-dad that I was on  my way to the hospital.

I arrived at the hospital and found my brother and sister waiting. We all just burst into tears. It seemed so surreal. Some of my Mom’s neighbors were there as well. I called my pastor, as well as the pastor of the church that I worked. My sister, brother, and I were escorted to a private waiting area, and then my step-dad arrived. He was shaken, but held it together for us as we were in pieces. Not one of us knew what shape Mom was in or what her injuries were at this time. We just waited and cried and prayed and hoped.  My pastor arrived and the tears kept coming. He prayed with us, and stayed with us as we waited. Finally we were told that we could see her. As we walked back to the emergency room area, we held each other not knowing what we would find. And then, there she was. My Mom strapped to a stretcher. Her head & neck in a brace. Her eyes told you of her fear and uncertainty. We talked with her for a bit, and then we were told she had to go into surgery. The doctor talked with my step-dad and informed him that my Mom’s neck was broken in the accident and it was unlikely that she would walk again. From this time till after surgery is a bit of blur for me, but I do remember being told that the doctor was sure that she would never walk or use her hands again (she is an artist….she needs her hands). I remember her being in ICU for a whole month, strapped to a rotating bed and hooked up to a ventilator and other machines.I remember the scares we had. I remember sitting in the ICU waiting room almost everyday (I think my family & I practically lived there). After the month in ICU, my Mom spent a month at the Shepherd’s Center in Atlanta, GA for rehab.

All the images are still so fresh in my mind. I can draw a detailed picture of where everyone was in the waiting room and ICU room (if I could draw well). I can tell you just about everybody who came by to visit with us, pray with us, or offer some other form of Christian love. I can tell you exactly what played continually on the CD player in my Mom’s ICU room (Watermark, Selah, & Josh Groban). And I can tell you of how awesome God was during this time in our lives!

You see my Mom has continued to defy the odds that were against her. She has been painting and drawing since her time in Atlanta. Her hands haven’t stopped working (shows what docs know), and she has regained some movement in her legs. Her injury is an incomplete injury, meaning her break in her neck didn’t completely break. She is partially paralyzed, but this hasn’t stopped her. My Mom’s attitude is still as awesome as ever. Her faith in God has only increased & become more solid. Her love for Jesus has increased, and her witness has only gotten better! You see during all of this, God continued to be faithful just as His word promises. He never left us. He never forsake us. He never turned His back on us. What He did do was continue to love us. He brought us together stronger as a family. He blessed us beyond measure with all of the love from others that was shown to us. And He proved Himself to be the Almighty God as my Mom continued to conquer through her difficulty! One thing that He shared with me during all of this was, “We are not asked to understand, only to trust Him.” When we trust God, we will be amazed at what all He will do.

So, this is just a bit of what I will be sharing tomorrow at the Women’s group. I want to share how trusting God even when things look grim, will bring the best rewards. Trusting God will never fail you my friend. So, I challenge you today to trust God in your darkness. You won’t be disappointed.

“Our God is greater! Our God is stronger! God you are higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power. Our God! Our God!

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Grace & Peace

Metallica Moments

Have you ever had a moment where you feel like you could be the lead for a heavy metal band, or some other form of loud rock band? I have those from time to time, and today well it was a “Metallica” kind of moment. There was no other band that I could imagine myself in other than the infamous (and one of the greatest of all times, in my opinion) band that had us (and still has us) rocking out to tunes such as “The Unforgiven”, “Nothing Else Matters”, “Enter Sandman”, “One”, “Fade to Black”, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls.” Good times. Good times.  This morning as I cleaned bathrooms and such, Metallica played loud & proud on my blackberry, and I could imagine myself on stage belting out the tunes with James Hetfield (oh yea full-blown hard rock concert mode going on in my head). As my cleaning came to an end (or at least a break), I turned off the music and decided to chill on FB a bit.

 As I was looking over my news feed, I came across a blog post on “You Are My Girls Community” that resonated with me. It was prayer post. A cry for God to have total control. A plea for the Most High to have His own way within us. A prayer to be totally broken before God so that He can put the pieces back together as He so desires. My heart smiled. My Metallica moment was over, and it was replaced with a “Have Thine on Way Lord” moment. Such a peace and joy, knowing that God is in control. Knowing that God has His hand upon us. Thank you Jennifer, for sharing your heart this morning through your post. And thank you God for speaking into my heart.

Grace and Peace

P.S. Here’s the link to the post on You Are My Girls Community’s page.

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Do you ever have those moments when you feel as if your body is being taken over by another personality? You turn green? Grow fangs? Foam oozing from your mouth? Eyes blazing red? Yep, if you’ve ever thrown a temper tantrum then you know exactly what I am talking about. The Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde syndrome kicks in, and you become a whole other person right before your eyes, and everyone around you. For some people it doesn’t take much for this transformation to occur. Others,it takes a bit probing for the transformation to take place. But whichever category you might find yourself in, (I tend to fall in the first usually) the split personality thing just ain’t right! Let’s face it, the Mr. Hyde personality causes everyone around us to want to RUN & HIDE! This brings me to a verse that struck me this morning in my reading.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27a

OUCH! Talk about stepping on toes! The Mr. Hyde personality certainly does NOT display the image of Christ. Mr. Hyde does NOT conduct himself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. And He certainly does NOT show those around us that we are followers of Christ! Yep, it’s starting to sting a bit, I know. But we’ve got to confront this monster, if we want to grow in Christ. When things don’t go exactly how we would like for them to, we need to turn to God and pray for peace. When people don’t treat as as we would like for them to treat us, we need to turn to God and pray for the strength to love them anyway. When we feel abandoned and lonely, we need to turn to God and pray that He will comfort us. When we are hurt, we need to turn to God and pray for the help to forgive anyway. As the children of God we have the power of the Holy Spirit living and dwelling within us, and that power is greater than Mr. Hyde’s power.

My challenge for all of us today, as followers & believers in Jesus Christ, is that we will not let Mr. Hyde come out, but instead rely on rely on the power of the Holy Spirit within us to help us conduct ourselves “in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” 

Grace & Peace

Treasure Hunters

Do you remember as a kid looking for treasure? Pirate movies made hunting for treasure so fascinating. As a kid you would make your own treasure maps, or just go exploring believing there was hidden treasure to be found. Oh those were fun times. Well, yesterday as my husband and I were at the beach I decided to take a stroll. As I was walking along the beach, I was searching for shells and other “treasures.” As I was looking, I said to God, “Lord, please let me find a treasure.” Before I could even finish my request I heard within my spirit, “You’re walking on one.” As I was busy looking for what I thought was “treasure”, I had forgotten that the very beach I was walking on was a treasure. All of God’s creation is a treasure. Sometimes we get so focused on finding what we think are “treasures” that we lose sight of the treasure that surrounds us everyday. The sunshine, the birds in the air, the trees, the flowers, our family, the sand on the beach, the ocean, the mountains. The list could on and on. Everything that God has created is a treasure. We don’t have to have a map with a giant X on it showing us where to look. All we have to do is open our eyes and look around us. Take to time to enjoy all the treasures around you, and thank God for the abundance of them!

“Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks…” Genesis 43:23

“They will feast on the abundance of the seas, on the treasures hidden in the sand.” Deuteronomy 33:19b

Grace and Peace

My Mom

As Mother’s Day approaches very fast (tomorrow), I am reminded of what an awesome Mom that I have. I was always the shy kid out of my siblings and I. My sister was the more outgoing one, and my younger brother might not have been as outgoing but he still wasn’t afraid to be away from my Mom’s side. Me on the other hand, well let’s just say that my Mom’s legs probably had permanent grooves where my arms remained tightly around them. I never wanted to be far from her. When people spoke to me, I quietly retreated behind her and buried my face in the back of her legs. I didn’t know these people, but I knew with my Mom I was always safe. As I grew older, I ventured out from behind her legs, but still kept pretty close by. I liked being around my Mom. At family functions, I was near her. At social gatherings, I was near her. At church, I was near her (except for when she was in choir). Wherever she and I were together, I was near her. As I grew into a teenager, I ventured out a bit more. I still wanted my Mom close, but maybe not as close. I was trying to find myself, and at times I thought she was cramping my style. But I always knew she was close by and would welcome me back near her when I wanted. I would often visit her at the school she taught at, when I got out of school. I liked visiting my Mom at her job. I thought it was pretty cool to watch her teach students about one of her passions-art. Then as I graduated and went on to college (I started out at a Community College nearby), I would sometimes still visit her in her classroom as she taught. Growing into a woman, I have valued her advice. I still like to have her close, even if it’s through Facebook or a phone call. My Mom taught me what it means to truly be in love with God. She has taught me what it means to live selflessly. She has taught me what it means to love.She has taught me what it means to never give up.  My Mom has taught me a lot of wonderful things, and I treasure all that she has taught me. God has truly blessed me beyond measure with my Mom. He knew exactly what He was doing when He chose her to be my Mom & chose me to be her daughter. So, although I may not be behind her with my head buried in the back of her legs, I still like to keep her close. Because I still think she is awesome. Yep, that’s my Mom and I love her! Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

It’s Not About the T-shirts, Buttons, Bumper Stickers, or Coffee Mugs

“Got Jesus?” “Faithbook” “Ipray” “HisWay” “Jesus died for Myspace in Heaven.” “Jesus is my homeboy.” “God is my pilot.” “In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.” All of these phrases can be found on numerous t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons,coffee mugs, and other items. And a lot of Christians own items with these phrases on them. I admit that I have Christian products. I use to have the fish symbol on my car. But do they really mean anything? I mean really? Do they truly represent our identity?  Or are they just advertisements that do nothing. I once heard a joke about a woman who was driving in her car.

One day, a lady was stuck in rush hour traffic, waiting for a red light to turn green. As soon as the light turned green, the lady pressed on the gas. Immediately, she was cut off by a business man driving an SUV and talking on his cell phone. She slammed on her brakes and immediately started screaming at the man. To top it off, she added a few obscene gestures.
She heard someone knocking on the driver’s window and turned to find a police officer staring her in the eyes. The officer asked her to get out of the car. Once out, he immediately cuffed her and placed her in his squad car.
After spending three hours downtown in a cell, an officer finally came to release the lady from the cell. “I’m sorry, ma’am,” said the officer. “We had you mistaken for someone else.”
“Who could you have possibly mistaken me for?” the woman exclaimed.
“Well, we saw the Christian bumper stickers plastered all over the back of the car. After watching you curse out that man who cut you off, we figured that you must have stolen the car.”

You see it’s not about the bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, posters, and other “Christianise” stuff that we own. That is all outside stuff. It’s what we have on the inside that matters. No matter how many Christian t-shirts you own, or how many Christian bumper stickers you have slapped on the back of your car, if what you posses on the inside of yourself doesn’t match your outside advertising then it really makes no difference what you are wearing or placing on your car.

Paul says in Galatians 6:15, “For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision is anything; but a new creation is everything!”  WOW! What a powerful statement! Talk about stepping on toes. Paul is saying that circumcision is only an outward advertisement, and that it doesn’t really matter if someone is circumcised or not. It’s what is inside the person that counts. New birth is everything!

We must allow Christ to change us from the inside out, or else what we are advertising on the outside means nothing. It is not the Christian t-shirt that makes us a Christian. It is not the Christian bumper sticker that makes us a Christian. It is not the Christian button, coffee mug, or welcome mat that makes us a Christian. It is Jesus Christ living on the inside of us and changing us to be more like Him, that makes us a Christian. No amount of Christian products can make us a Christian. It is only when we totally surrender to Jesus Christ & allow Him to dwell within us, that we are truly Christians. So, I challenge you. Let’s be more concerned with what is on the inside than what we advertise on the outside.

Grace and Peace.

Refocus on the One who Walks on Water

Yesterday was not a very good day for me. It was a day of recuperating from a horrible evening the night before, and so let’s just say yesterday I was out of it. I was zoned out for the most part, and just physically, emotionally, & spiritually drained. I felt beaten down by the enemy, and felt as if I had been left in a desert to die. As, the day went on I met with my wonderful VCG, & it was just a  breath of fresh air & encouragement that was much-needed. After my VCG closed out, I had to get back to the grind. Kids to pick up from school. Errands to run. Supper to prepare. And then our Spiritual Renewal Conference to attend. I will be honest and say that I really was not wanting to go to the SRC. All I wanted to do was stay curled up in my big comfy chair, and retreat within myself. But seeing as though I am the Pastor’s Wife and the one leading the music each night, as well as singing a few songs with my husband, I put my “big girl panties” on and off to the SRC I went. We started the service with a few praise choruses, and then it was time for my husband and I do our special music. As my husband strummed his guitar, and I stood there in front of the congregation preparing to sing my heart out, I totally forgot how the song that I was about to sing went. The first verse came out all wrong, and I tried to recover but it just wasn’t working. All I could do was shut my mouth and bow my head. (I wanted to run out the back door.) My sweet husband stopped playing, and informed the congregation (that was praying in a whisper for me) that we would be starting over. As we started over, it all came back.

After our songs, we sat down and another man stood up to sing a few songs. At this point, my brain was going ninety-to-nothing with “Jesus, I just want to go home.” As the man sang “Jesus, The Sweetest Name I Know”, I locked my eyes on a stained-glass picture of Jesus walking on the water. Then a verse of the song stuck out & resonated in me, “Kings and Kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name.” As I looked at Jesus on the water & thought on that verse of the song, it was as if the Holy Spirit was reminding me that when I focus on Jesus everything else fades away. And also, that everything of this world will not last, but that Jesus will always remain. The Holy Spirit was speaking to me, and letting me know that all of my burdens, cares, anxieties, and heartache of the day were fleeting. They would pass, but I always have Jesus.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” Matthew 24:35

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17

What comfort that is, to know that we always have Jesus. No matter what we are going through in life. No matter how rocky, bumpy, heart-wrenching, exhausting, or difficult our situation may be, Jesus is always there. Our situations won’t last forever, but our Lord and Savior will! I encourage you to refocus yourself on the One who walks on water. Let everything else fade into the background. Don’t lose hope beloved, because Jesus is here!

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