Sunday, November 29, 2009

To Know Him

The young man who spoke at church Sunday shared some of his faith journey. He didn't preach a three part sermon. He spoke from his heart and his message moved all of us. As I lay in bed trying to go to sleep Sunday night, my thoughts went back to the night I began my own journey of faith.

I'd gone to church off and on all my life--mostly on. We attended a wonderful church in Amarillo and only went on Sunday mornings. I began having the desire to go on Sunday night but my husband didn't want to go. Finally, one evening I decided to go by myself. My three year old daughter wanted to go with me that night and I took her. My five year old wanted to stay home with her dad.

I wonder today why I let my little one go with me. She was a talker and mover and never behaved quietly in church. But I'm so glad I took her that night because she's part of the beauty of what happened to me. Since I knew she would probably be disruptive we sat on the last pew near the door in case I had to take her out. Almost as soon as we sat down she put her head in my lap and stretched out beside me and went to sleep. Is there anything sweeter than your baby sleeping? I loved having her there.

Because I'd gone to church for so long I knew all about God and Jesus and all the Bible stories. That was the problem. I knew ABOUT them and that was all.

I don't know what happened that night or what I heard but all of the sudden something changed. There was more to God and Jesus and being a Christian than I had ever known before. I didn't know what it was. I just knew there was more.

That night was the beginning of my journey into the spiritual realm. If I was wanting more, I wasn't aware of it, but there it was. More.

I can close my eyes right now and see myself in that pew; my baby girl's head in my lap while she slept; my spiritual eyes suddenly opened just a bit.

My journey began that night and continues today. No matter how much we know God, we know so little of Him. He is beyond our knowledge; beyond our understanding. Can't you hear David's heart as he sings his psalms about the wonders of God?

The story of the blind men describing the elephant comes to my mind. From the part they touched each thought they knew what an elephant looked like, but none of them had the complete picture. Each of us knows a part of God, but none of us knows Him in totality. It will take eternity to grasp even a small part of who He really is. But while we are living here we get glimpses of Him that we didn't see before. My prayer is for Him to open all of our eyes so we can see Him as He is.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanks Giving

Another Thanksgiving has passed. I read or heard someone say their favorite holiday was Thanksgiving because you get the good food and don't have to buy presents.

As I look back at the 73 Thanksgivings of my life, the ones I remember the most were the ones spent at my grandparent's home in Memphis, Texas. Aunts, uncles and cousins joined us. My closest cousin and I got to eat in the kitchen while the grown-ups ate in the dining room. We loved not having to sit at the big table. When our brothers came along, we were relegated to the dining room and they got the kitchen.

As a married person in Tulsa we invited singles who had no family in town to share Thanksgiving with us. Those were fun and fulfilling. But not all my holidays in that town have been memorable. In fact, many have been lonely. When I wasn't married, many were spent alone trying not to look out the window and see the houses with cars parked around them as they spent the day with family and friends. For some reason none of my married friends ever thought to invite me to their feasts.

A few years ago we had 23 people at our house for the day. Some were our family, some friends plus a family who had nowhere to go. That year we had three toddlers that made it necessary to touch up the paint on the walls when it was all over. Last year we had more family plus a granddaughter and our great granddaughter here. Busy but fun.

We had Thanksgiving a couple of weeks ago with a son and his family before they left on a week's vacation to California. Yesterday we planned to spend it alone and were all right with that. Instead we went out to eat with a couple we love very much. Afterwards we went to their house and visited. Really nice. Quiet but good.

We know of two families who had a difficult holiday. In one the wife passed away two months ago. In the other the husband died just a week ago. Our prayers are with them as they go through the next weeks.

Thanksgiving is just that--a time to think of the blessings we have and be thankful. But not just on that day. We're thankful year around that we have friends, family and our God to spend our earthly lives with. Some day that life will be over and the best life will begin for eternity. Now that's the kind of holiday I'm looking for! Just not too soon. :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Load Up the Wagon

Life is speeding past and we're holding on for dear life!

The holidays are usually the busiest times of the year, and ours is no less.
The auction is over and was a big success. We have another meeting next week to go over what went right and what needs to go even righter.

We're cleaning out and getting rid of things we don't need. How do we accumulate so much stuff? None of it is important but for some reason when we get it, we think it is necessary. What would happen if we had to put all our belongings into a covered wagon and make our trek to a more promising land? What would really be important then? Having so much sometimes feels like a heavy burden on my shoulders.

The hardest part of cleaning out is getting rid of books. I've done that so many times in my life that the books I've let go of would fill any library in town. I love books and will probably buy more. As one friend said, "I never met a book I didn't want to buy." Me, too.

We have friends who have made a movie. He wrote it, produced it and stars in it. I guess they are trying all the ways they know to sell it so it can be seen on the big screen. How hard is that compared to trying to get someone to publish a book?

We all have unfulfilled dreams but it is those dreams that keep us going. If we finally had everything we ever wanted and only had to rest, how quickly our lives would become meaningless.

Many years ago God told me He would fulfill all the desires of my heart. I don't even know what those desires are, but I'm so grateful to Him that He knows and is still working on them. That's one reason I'm cleaning out. You never know when God will say, "Load up the wagon and move on." In my book that's exciting stuff!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Resting in His Hands

Today is the big day--the children's home auction.

Last week we spent a couple of days at the home getting items ready for the home's fund raiser event of the year. It's so much work but so much fun, too.

For the past two nights, because of our busy schedule and the holidays and life in general, I haven't slept well. If anything disrupts my life, it turns into not sleeping. I wish I'd lose my appetite instead. :)

As the year draws to a close I wonder what the next one will bring. I could make a list of what I want to happen, but when I do that, God always surprises me. As I look back at the big changes in my life, I can see His hand so clearly. Just as he made the way plain for the Israelites and even parted the sea for them, so has he done for me. I've had places to live, jobs, friends, churches--all because of His leading.

I know God has us in his hands. Whatever the next year brings, I can rest in that.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mondays and Fears

I love Monday mornings now. I'm not sure I was so fond of them when I worked, but today I love them because they represent a new week, time to get organized and do the laundry. I really like doing laundry and wish I could hang my clothes outside like in the "good old days." Of course, when I used to have to hang them out in the winter in Amarillo, Plainview, Lubbock and El Paso, I wished for a dryer.
By the time I lived in Beaumont I had a dryer and have never had a clothesline since then.

This morning I filed all the junk that had piled up on the filing cabinet, copied photos for the ancestry albums, read emails and Facebook--all while my clothes are busily washing and drying on their own.

I'm taking an on line class called "Surviving Trauma." One of the lessons has been about cues. Cues come out of the blue after some kind of traumatic event. After 9/11 some people had these cues when they saw American Airlines planes in the air days or months later. Reading about cues gave me pause.

Years ago we went to church three times or more a week. Rather than enjoying the experience, much of the time it was out of legalism and a desire to please. For years since then I have dreaded Sundays, and sometimes still do. I've wondered why and now believe the feeling is a cue based on my past church experience. Knowing why and staring it in the face just may be the way I'll get past this "trauma."

I had another traumatic experience from 1990 until 1993. My mother's dementia made it impossible for her to live alone. She couldn't come live with us because we had our daughter and grandson living there, plus the fact that no one was at home during the day. Not having funds for anything else, I had to put her into a nursing home. She had always said she didn't want to go to one, as we all say, and moving here there was the hardest thing I ever had to do. She'd only been in that place for three months when she fell and broke her hip. She never really recovered and was in a wheel chair thereafter.

Teaching middle school is exhausting on a good day, and on many of those days I'd go see her after school. She hardly recognized me and only wanted to pull herself around in her chair. After standing all day, following her around was more than I could do. Week ends were busy but I managed to go see her then.

I need quiet and solitude to revitalize. However, with a young boy, my daughter and a husband who needed quiet himself, I found that I had no place in my house where I could go to be alone. Many week end days I got into my van and went away, found a place to park and just sat in the quiet of my vehicle.

As my mother grew worse, and my energy lessened, I had more and more guilt about not seeing her as often as I should. What could I do? I was at the end of myself.

When Mother died, I never went back into that nursing home or in any others. Thinking about entering one grabs me in the pit of my stomach and almost makes me sick.

I have known for a long time that fear has been one of my biggest enemies and has kept me from doing some things that I should have. I've prayed, of course, and just last Saturday I told God I wanted him to heal me of these fears that have held me back. Maybe what happened is an answer to that prayer.

My husband was asked to deliver an inspirational message on a Sunday this month at a nursing home. I know I could tell him I won't go because of never wanting to go into a nursing home again. He doesn't need me there and no one will be expecting me, but I imagine he'd like for me to go with him. However, could this be God's way of setting me free from my "nursing home phobia?"

I'm looking at it but haven't made a decision. I've never been a person who wouldn't face a hard place, except in this case. Or maybe in more cases than I know.

I think I'm almost afraid to ask God for his direction for "fear" that he will tell me. One scripture comes to mind, a word that he has given me over and over. "I will never leave you nor forsake you." If I go, I know he'll be with me because he's already there. He'll still be with me if I don't. But if that's my decision, I just might miss a very big blessing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

He Is Mighty To Save

We attended a Christian concert last night--the first I've been to in years. Back when I was a charismatic I went to many and loved them. But the music wasn't the same. Or maybe I'm not the same.

The concert was billed as Jeremy Camp's but Bebo Norman and Natalie Grant took up the first hour and a half before Jeremy showed up. For three hours we heard wonderful inspirational songs, some of the words we could understand--some not so much. The building was crowded, sold out, both in tickets and to Jesus.

I loved hearing the ministry of these young people; loved hearing them lead the audience in praises to God. Memories of past meetings where people raised their hands and moved with the music, even shouting praises and singing along with the performers, reminded me of how on fire I was when I first met Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

I'd always known God back then, knew Him from the time I was very young. Jesus was a baby in the manager and who was the Holy Spirit? I'm not sure I'd heard much about Him although I knew there was a Spirit because I sang, "Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on me."

June 21, 1971. I'll never forget that day--the day I met God anew, Jesus became real and the Holy Spirit appeared.

Last night I listened to music that doesn't appeal to these ears today. When Natalie sang "It Is Well With My Soul" acapella and we sang along with her, I was once again filled with Him as I had been in the past. When Jeremy sat at the piano and sang "Saviour, He can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save",a song we're familiar with at church, I experienced God's presence and could sing the words.

The audience of all ages knew the songs. A woman next to me said she goes to all these concerts and she had to be in 40s or 50s. She sang along, as did an Asian man nearby, a man and his wife with two sons who sat behind us, and so many others.

Jeremy and Bebo are involved in Compassion, International and gave moving accounts of their involvement with the organization. The Albuquerque children's home was chosen as the local charity to be given gift cards at the event. We had a booth where many came and took information and asked questions.

These young men and the young woman are sold out to Jesus and are giving their lives to bringing Him to people. What am I doing at my church? What is my church doing? Do I hear testimonies like theirs from our people? Do I see people with their arms around each other praying as I did at the intermission?

I used to and I long for that again. I pray our body, as well as all the churches in this city, will experience the wind of the Holy Spirit that will lift us out of the complacent way we worship God and fill us with the excitement and fervor we had when we first met our Saviour.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Another Opportunity

This is really hard to do. Type, I mean, with my right little and ring fingers taped together. I have to look at the keyboard when I want to type on the right. I can use my ring finger some but the little one is useless.

Two weeks ago I fell in the garage. I guess most of my weight went to my right hand trying to catch myself. For about 10 days I had some swelling and discomfort then BANG! OUCH! My husband taped the fingers together. Relief! But hard to do so many things.

If I get that hand wet, the tape falls off. Surely someone has invented water resistant tape! I guess this means a trip to the drug store to check out what's available. In this age of washing our hands all day long, you can imagine how many re-tapings have to be done.

I know this is minor in the scheme of life and I don't mean to whine, but for someone who writes on the computer all the time, it is a bother.

However, I'm grateful because I also hit on my right hip and that didn't break.

Little things come into our lives that can cause us to complain--like a sprain or something worse. When these things happen, I have to turn my eyes away from the small inconvenience and look up once more. The words I say must remain positive and I have to give thanks in it all.

Hmmmm. . . Seems I've heard that before. "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Ahhhh. . . and yet another opportunity to have something to thank God for!

Friday, November 6, 2009

What Is Living?

I am so much like my mother that it scares me. She liked to stay busy. . .right up to the time when the dementia took hold and robbed her of life. I hope I can do as well. But I want to skip the dementia.

Last week I stayed in and nursed the flu bug. I only had to opt out of two events. This week has been busy, busy. This week end is the same. The next week more of the same. And I'm complaining?

I love free time and I love having something to do. Balancing the two isn't easy even in retirement. My thoughts go back to those long summer days when I was a kid. My mother stayed busy and I stayed outside all summer cloud-gazing, swimming, riding my bike and enjoying being out of school.

Would I want to be able to do that again? Not on your life! I like being involved with causes and people and writing and reading. Today this is living for me. What is living to you?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Center of the Universe

When they discover the center of the Universe, a lot of people will be disappointed to discover they are not it. . .

I added this saying to the bottome of the emails I send. I didn't do it to tell others they aren't the center of the Universe. I did it to remind myself I'm not.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

God's Mercies Endure

How do we know if we're doing God's will? How do we know if the decisions we make are the right ones, the ones God wants us to make? How many decisions have we made thinking we're doing God's will only to find out later that maybe they weren't after all?

I know someone who always wanted a cabin in the woods. When he got to the point in his life where he had the money to have one, he prayed and felt he was doing God's will by building one of his own. As he got into the middle of building (which took three years) several unexpected events happened. By the time the expensive cabin was finished he was ready to sell it. He rarely got to use it and found it was a monetary burden. He was finally able to sell it at a loss. Did he hear from God? Probably not, but he heard from his own heart.

I know of several times in my own life I thought I was hearing from God. As I looked back on those times that didn't go well, I realized I was hearing my own desires. Made me pretty mad when I realized that because I thought God had betrayed me by letting me walk into something He didn't want. I told Him how I felt. You'd expect Him, if He were like us, to say, "Well, you got into it on your own because that's what you wanted. Now get over it!" But he didn't. He lovingly showed me my heart. Then He told me He'd never left me nor forsaken me through it. That changed my life.

Paul tells us in Romans that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. What it comes down to is trust and faith. Faith that no matter what happens God will work it out for us. We don't know what is going to happen tomorrow. All we have is today and the knowledge that when we mess up, we can trust God to turn our lives around and fix whatever we break.

Remember--His mercies endure forever.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Health and Peace

It is such a blessing to feel good again!

After church yesterday a doctor spoke about the flu vaccines. She said it appeared that those who had the regular flu shot had milder cases of H1N1. Maybe that's what happened to us. My husband had it, we think, about two weeks ago but only for two days. Mine lasted about four.

I want to thank all my blogging friends--those who write and those who read only--for thinking of me while I was out of commission. I got emails that don't show up on the blog comments and really appreciated them.

Yesterday's sermon was about peace. Just saying the word quietens the soul. It was a wonderful day. Dallas won and the team I picked to win in the football contest, don't really know what to call it, that team won, too. There are 60 of us left in the game. I have to think hard to figure out my next pick. It's fun although I won't be the last person standing because I lost once. Someone who gets to the end and has never lost will win. I don't even know what the prize is. The only reason I joined was to help my niece's son's little league team.

The children's home auction is coming up soon and we are on the committee gathering donations and selling tickets. We'll be busy for the next two weeks. Thank you, Lord, that I didn't get sick this week!!

I hope everyone who reads this is well and at peace in their lives.