Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Scrub boards. Attic fans. Victrola. Record players. Typewriters. Eight track players. Pony Express. Televisions with knobs and no remotes. (I’m convinced some people had children just to change the station on the TV!) VCRs. Floppy disks. Bag phones. Rotary phones. 35 MM negatives. Folding maps. Home phones. Pay phones. Phone booths. CDs. WHAT DO THESE THINGS HAVE IN COMMON? They are either obsolete or are on their way to being obsolete.

At one point in time, each of these were considering cutting edge. We couldn’t see living our lives without them, and yet when the upgrade came along, we adapted and adjusted our way of living to incorporate the new item. I remember when Steve had the first pager and bag phone I had ever seen...(My sister and I used to tell people his pager was really a garage door opener.)

Do you remember the small, green screens on computers? Do you remember the first Atari games – Ping Pong?

I’ve often wonder what my great grandmother would think if she would have seen my work computer when someone in Illinois was using my mouse solving the problem on my system.

My soon-to-be eleven, year-old daughter often makes me feel obsolete and antiquated, and puberty hasn’t even hit!

Recently, I was going through photographs getting them organized by years. I went from 35 mm film negatives, to discs, to memory chips for my digital camera.

I remember when I worked in my dad’s State Farm office in high school that I would have to call in the claims to the claims office. Whenever daddy would hear me on the phone dictating the loss, he would intentionally come into my office and do whatever he could to get me laughing so hard that I would have to hang up and recall to start over. Now, people go to the internet to turn in their claims.

As much as things have changed, there is one thing that remains the same. He never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Consistency – I look for it. I crave it. It’s security. Hebrews 11:8, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (NIV).

When your world seems to be spinning out of control and changing faster than you can keep up, when your life seems to be mass chaos rest assured your Rock, your Savior is as steady and confident about the plans and the future He has in store for you (Jer 29:11). He is as relevant today as He was with Moses. He is as current today as He was with Paul. He is alive today and actively participating in the lives of believers working it out for their good just as He has for centuries in the past and centuries to come. He will never become obsolete. Something for which to be thankful!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Stages of a Christmas Tree -- A Boy Changes Everything

It’s not decorated with mesh garland, twinkle lights and sparkles galore. It doesn’t look like a designer visited my home putting touches of class here and there. The large, ornamental decorations that once hung on branches are replaced with hand-crafted treasures made by little hands of all ages. It isn’t even as large as we normally get, but it was decorated by my two children with ornaments filled with their shining faces in photograph form to document the Christmases before.

I was recently made aware that throughout life there are stages of a Christmas tree. When Patrick and I were first married, we were paying off debt, so we bought our little Christmas tree from a vendor in a parking lot in Duncanville, Texas. I don’t remember what kind it was, but we both remember the smell. It smelled of orange and spice. The fragrance filled the apartment. One or two string of lights and a few, inexpensive store-bought tree ornaments. We saved and bought our first home and could afford a few more decorations. Each year I added to my collection. I LOVE Christmas ornaments. I was collecting red (because red is my all-time favorite color), musical instrument ornaments, and clear beading and clear icicles. We went from a few measly ornaments to a tree full of lights, bows, ornaments and garb.

Then came baby one. Erin was such an easy baby. I could simply say, “Erin, that’s not yours. Don’t touch,” and she would withdraw her chubby, baby hand. We never had to change a thing about our tree UNTIL baby number two. By Pearce’s second Christmas, the tree started out beautifully decorated, but before the month was over, EVERY SINGLE ORNAMENT was above the three-foot mark. He couldn’t reach up much higher. Our tree was naked on the bottom three feet.

This year and last year, I relinquished my claim of decorating the Christmas tree. The kids wanted colored lights. The kids placed all of the ornaments (which means we have clumps of ornaments and bare spots). One of my collector ornaments was dropped and broken, but it was worth the time we had together. I know these years will be few and rare, so I will gladly relinquish my need to decorate and cherish this time we have with the kids.

The next stage is back to the Better Homes and Garden tree where I decorate it by myself – I will have plenty of years to be obsessive about my tree. Then comes the small, fake trees that are pre-lit and fit in the corner of a small room.

This tree talk reminds me of another tree many years ago that went through the many stages of development only to be made into a manger for animals and eventually to be made into a bed for a baby boy. There is also another tree connected to this baby boy. This tree is just as rugged and rough, but instead of holding a sweet, innocent, baby boy – the hope for eternity, it held the man who hung on it voluntarily for my sin. It held my redemption. Regardless of how the tree is ornamented whether by baubles, photos or by lights, remember the most important event that occurred on a tree was to give us all new life.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

--Wind in the Attic and a Coon Hat

Neither Lori nor I are sure how this happened, but our first born children have wind in their attics. We know they are intelligent. Erin started speaking in full, understandable sentences at 18 months, and Madeleine was tested when she was younger and tested quite high. We don’t know if it was something in the way we parented them or is it the fact that they were only children for the first three or four years of their little lives? Do we need to let them watch TV more and read to them less? I must say it does have us scratching our heads at times. Either of these two girls will do something and common sense just flies right out the window after it has circled their heads a couple of times.

What’s funny is now Pearce is explaining things to them. I’m afraid he’s going to tell his older sister about Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny!

Catherine wearing a coon hat.
Tonight at Honey and Poppar’s Christmas party for the grands, Catherine had found a raccoon hat – if you know Cat, you appreciate this. If you don’t know Cat, you might think this a little odd. Not to be outdone, when Catherine took the hat off, her older sister put the hat on backwards. Poppar called Madeleine (the older sister) over to him. He lifted the tail and wiped her forehead with a piece of tissue paper. Pearce was watching it all – taking it all in. He is all too keenly aware of things. Madeleine didn’t have a clue what Poppar was doing or what it meant. I asked Pearce if he knew what came out from underneath a coon’s tail. I wish I could have recorded his laugh. It was the biggest belly laugh you have ever heard and continued everytime he saw Madeleine with the backwards coon hat. He has one of those infectious laughs. Meanwhile, Madeleine stands there – not even catching a whiff of what is funny – then turns and walks off to the kitchen.

How can these two beautiful and smart little girls be so dingy?

Then you throw Catherine in the mix, and we have ourselves a mass chaos of 4. Catherine is all about having a good time. When she gets to say the blessing (and a Honey’s house, EVERYONE who wants to say a blessing is permitted), she always prays, “Help us to have a good time and no one to get in trouble.” See where her focus is?

It’s funny to sit back and watch them interact with one another or to see how they’ve changed. Even though Madeleine and Erin have been in the same grade at the same school since they were babies, we’ve had them separated in different classes since Erin could talk. We found out Erin was telling the other two year-olds she and Madeleine were twins. At that point, we thought it would be a good idea to separate them.

AND FOR THE RECORD…Honey and Poppar are NOT my parents. I’m not even sure where my parents went. At tonight’s Christmas party, Honey served the children cookie cake and either chocolate milk or juice. That would have NEVER happened when I was growing up in their house. If I would have asked for that Honey’s response would have been, “You’ll rot your teeth out.” Now mind you these were my baby teeth, and they were SUPPOSED to fall out of my head. It would have been cheaper than having to have them pulled. I was just trying to save them money.

I say all of this to say this…during this holiday season, observe your family. See how God wove you together as a family with each of your idiosyncrasies. It is by no accident that God put you together as a family. Be sure to thank Him for each and every nut in your family tree. Find something positive about each person and encourage them. Too often we wait until it is too late to say the simplest of things that mean the most.

Loves "Steele Magnolias" and Loves a Variety of Characters

If I were to do a character sketch on the people in my family, there would not be a normal one in the bunch, and that is both sides of my family – my mom’s and my daddy’s. Some of you have heard stories from my daddy’s side of the family, and trust me when I say that is just a smidgeon of the stories coming from his side of the family tree. On my mom’s side, the characters may not be as wildly colored, but the characters are unique just the same. This holiday season, we open our homes to family, friends and friends of family…and sometimes perfect strangers.

Now, if you are a Southern woman, you know or have been trained how to welcome people into your home, how to make someone feel comfortable, and probably have mastered the art of small talk, but what happens when one of the most difficult people to deal with is one of your own family? Do you have anyone who continually makes poor decisions? Do you have anyone who is downright rebellious? Is there anyone in your family that people have just given up on? Isn’t it easy to judge someone else? How often do you make a snap judgment about someone you are passing? You see the way they are dressed. You see their size. You see their ethnicity. You see their possessions. You see ornamentation. And you make a snap decision about that person. HMMMMM. Too often the judgment comes out of the mouth. You know the quote by Clairee Belcher from Steele Magnolias, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then come sit by me.” Judgments about other people tend to spread quicker than the truth.

But let’s say that someone asks if they can bring a guest to your home for the holidays. Is that a problem? Typically, we have so much food that we are asking people to come and eat up until the day of the feast, so it’s not typically a problem. Let’s say they arrive, and the guest is a woman, a beautiful woman. She carries herself with her head held high. Her hair and make-up look like it is out of a Glamour magazine. She is the guest of another female friend of yours, and this unexpected guest is wearing the smallest of skirts, the tallest of heels, and the tightest of shirts. The smart, steel magnolia would sachet’ herself over to this guest to get the low-down, the dirt. As Truvy says on my favorite movie, “Oh get with it, Clairee. This is the eighties. If you can achieve puberty, you can achieve a past.” How would you treat this guest in your home?

There’s a woman in John 8 who was actually found in the act of adultery. Now to be presented as an adultress, there had to be preferably three people who caught her in the act. Could she possibly have been set up by the Pharisees? Absolutely, but we don’t know that for sure. All we know is the Pharisees brought this woman to Jesus. Can you imagine the humiliation, the shame, the embarrassment? All these MEN talking about her, what they saw her doing, and yet, where is the man? She couldn’t commit adultery aloneHELLO! The Pharisees had the dirt on this woman, and they were wanting to entrap Jesus.

While they were questioning Jesus, He stooped and drew on the ground. Not that it makes any great difference, but I sure would like to know what He was writing. If you are the Son of God, what would His doodling look like?

He stands up, and in verse 7 He says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Then Jesus returned to drawing on the ground…doodling. What if He was writing down their names in the dirt and listing their sins out beside their names! Those Pharisees were definitely schooled that day.

Verse ten says, “Jesus straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you’?” Jesus then tells her that He doesn’t condemn her either and to go live her life free from sin.

Think about the day that woman must have had. She was in the presence of her lover. She was caught in the most vulnerable of situations. More than one man caught her in the act and pulled her out to be judged while leaving her lover to escape without consequences. The shame, the fear (she could be stoned). As she is standing, clutching her clothes to her body in front of these men who are judging her and holding her future in their hands, she receives forgiveness and redemption from the true lover of her soul.

We don’t know what brought her to this point in her life. Just like you don’t know what has brought that woman guest to this point in her life that she is now in your home, your church, your party. Jesus extended grace. What will you extend?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Elf on the Shelf Freaks Erin Out

Had I thought things through I would have known that Erin would not have appreciated the Elf on the Shelf.

Erin did not have an issue with the big man himself. She liked the idea of Santa bringing toys for her benefit, but it was very concerning to her that while she was sleeping that this man would enter our home in the most unconventional means, eats our food, drink our milk, and leave toys behind. I had never thought about it myself, but she makes perfect sense.

Have you ever gone to bed at night and heard something rattle outside or even worse inside your home? I’ve grabbed a baseball bat once. My heart was pounding so loud I thought everyone down our street could hear it. For Erin, Santa was a stranger in her house making all sorts of noises. One year she heard him putting up a train set, and the next she heard him putting up a racetrack.

Two Christmases ago, I thought it would be great fun to introduce the Elf in the Shelf to my children. For those of you who have not heard about the Elf on the Shelf, it is a doll and book. When the doll shows up, the host family names the elf. Erin says we named ours Elvis. Elvis lasted three nights before Erin broke down in tears, “He just freaks me out!” Elvis was to watch over the actions and deeds of those in our house, and at night, he would go to the North Pole to report what he observed to Santa Claus. I was SOOOOOO hoping this would make an impression on the boy-child. When the elf appears the next morning, he shows up in the most unusual of places, and he is the most mischievous of elves. I’ve seen photos of where an elf rolled the inside of someone’s den. The kicker is that the children have to clean up after the Elf – I like that part. The straw that broke Erin’s last nerve was Elvis showing up in the children’s bathroom. She heard him go into her room that night and then into the bathroom. What she really heard was my entering her room to check on her, but there was no confusing her with the facts…not happening. She was not going to sleep again until that elf was out of the house. He was gone that very morning. So sad. I was hoping to have a lot of fun with the elf.

I started thinking about the Elf on the Shelf this week as I pulled out the Christmas decorations for my home. I have Nativity Scenes for every room in my home. The children have one for each of their rooms. There is one in the den, and one in the dining room. As a general rule, we don’t put baby Jesus into the manger until Christmas morning when we sing “Happy Birthday.” Is Baby Jesus like the Elf on the Shelf in your house? Do you bring Jesus out once a year because it is the decorative thing to do? When you bring baby Jesus out, do your family and friends think that it is just part of the holidays – something fun with which to decorate? Or do they know just how holy this holiday is to you? It would be a bit freaky or odd to say the least if the only time you brought Jesus into your home was as a baby during the Christmas holidays. Don’t ya think?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wants to Thank the Women of Calvary -- this last day in November

Since starting the Women IN Ministry in Fall of 2009, the women of Calvary did amazing things. We were doing the things our pastor was preaching…we were being the church outside the church. I want to take this time to thank the women of Calvary for the following:

• Thank you to the women who attended the very first get-together in the old fellowship hall. The ladies changed tables and answered questions about themselves and met new women at each one. We concluded with a time of corporate prayer, and it was powerful. It was amazing to see how God put a newly young widow at the same table as an established young widow – they had never met before that night. Another woman was led to prophesy to another about the promises of God for her life and the future of her husband in medicine – God is faithful.

• Thank you to the women who came and learned to knit during our Lost Arts nights. We knitted scarves for the Romanian orphans. The scarves actually looked really good. NOTHING like the first one I did.

• Thank you to the women who knitted baby blankets and made the flannel baby blankets that were donated to the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I can’t remember how many they were, but they filled a long table stacked 5-6 high.

• Thank you to the women who donated other baby items to the Crisis Pregnancy Center at the Christmas Tea. Three tables were filled with wonderful things for the CPC.

• Thanks to the women who secured the items for the silent auction at the Christmas Tea that raised over $700 for the CPC.

• Thank you for the women of Calvary who began volunteering at the CPC because of their exposure to it during this semester.

• Thank you to the women who hosted the tables at the Christmas Tea. They were so diverse and wonderful.

• I’m thankful for those of you who invited your family, friends and co-workers to the Christmas Tea.

• Thank you to the women who opened their homes, who taught how to decorate cupcakes and cakes during our Sweet Stars. Those cakes and cupcakes were sold and raised over $600 for the Heart of Hope Maternity Home.

• Thank you to the women who brought their unchurched friends to the Sweet Stars, and thank you to the women who ventured out into these small groups for the first time in an effort to get connected at Calvary.

• Thank you to the women who donated baby diapers for the young mom who found herself pregnant with triplets after having a 5 year old and 9 month old. This young mom had written off church, but as a result of your caring and your love she and her whole family became active until they moved out of Shreveport.

• Thank you to all the women who were the church outside the church and went to Heart of Hope Maternity Home to stock, to clean and to decorate. So thankful you were able to be the feet of Jesus.

• Thanks to all the women who donated pantry items and groceries to the Heart of Hope Maternity Home.

• For all the women who came to the Mother’s Day breakfast, thank you. There was at least 500 + women.

• For the women who participated in Hearts and Feet – this group of women ministered to women in our church who had cancer. They would pray for them, show up at the hospital for a treatment, send them cards and gifts. They were the heart and feet of Jesus. Thank you.

• Thanks to my young’uns. I loved discipling y’all. You are an amazing group of young women -- all of whom are now engaged or married. You all know how to reach me. Thank you for allowing me that honor of investing in your lives.

• Thanks to the ten to twelve prayer warriors that I’ve called since the beginning of this ministry. I’ve connected prayer warriors with women in crisis whether it was a health issues, marital, financial, or other. The warriors were so faithful to pray for those struggling. Thank you.

• For the ladies who started the library of books. We were building a library for women to have access to. With the economy the way it is, we realized that books may be a luxury item for some, and we were offering that as an option.

• Thank you to the ladies who helped fill goody bags to bless the nursery workers and the children Sunday school teachers.

• Thanks to Mrs. Lavahn who was always in the WIM office on Sunday morning in case a woman needed encouragement or prayer.

• And last but not least, I want to thank the wonderful women of the WIM team. There was never one argument. Our focus was on God first and seeking where He would have us go and what He’d have us do. Thank you Debbie for being the calm, consistent force keeping me on task. Thank you Donna for being the powerhouse God has created you to be. It has been so neat to watch you grow and bloom. Mrs. Lavahn, you have made me laugh and smile too often to count. You are a constant source of encouragement. Mrs. Jean, thank you for being so congenial and willing to help. Mrs. Kathy, thank you for your energy and passion that you brought to the team. Deann, thank you for bringing your sweetness and your heart and willingness to serve. Traci, ummm – just kidding. Traci, I love ya. I was really looking forward to working with you on teaching women how to talk to other women about Christ. I’m so glad God had our paths cross. You challenge me. Sunni, thank you for your creativeness and your heart for young moms. I’m so glad you are now that stay-at-home mom. Sally Gaspard, you are an amazing, powerful woman, and it was a pleasure to serve alongside you. Kelly Johnson was also on the team in the beginning lending her passion for the Word of God. Julie Choate with her experience in women’s ministry was on the first team as well and has cultivated and mentored myself as well as others in the church. Love you. Mom, thank you for being willing to follow and give advice and not feel threatened. Thank you for teaching my group of women on Sunday mornings when I needed you to do so. Your wisdom, experience and insight has been immeasurable.

I have so much for which to be thankful. A lot of women’s lives were touched as we were Jesus’ hands and feet, and I have learned so much from you all.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pearce said, "I regret bringing you here."

Pearce and I reached the peak of a 1.5 mile hike up a mountain. I had begged him half way for us to turn around. “Pearce, would it hurt your feelings too badly if we turned around and headed back?” “Come on, mom. Put your faith into it. You can do it.” Great! He’s questioning my faith. We finally made it to the top which was a bit lack-luster or anti-climatic. Pearce was bent over and breathing heavy and said, “Mom, I regret bringing you up here. Shoot! I regret making myself come up here.” That kid cracks me up. But once again, it wasn't about reaching the mountaintop. It was about the journey.

This hike was in Bandelier National Monument, and Pops (Patrick’s dad) had graciously agreed to take Pearce and myself to see where the cliff dwellers once lived. Part of the Bandelier Park is a 1.5 mile hike. It wasn’t nearly as treacherous as the hike we completed the day before, and while I wasn’t sore from yesterday’s adventure (miracle beyond miracles), it was still rather steep in places. I treasure having one-on-one time with my kids. Out of Erin and Pearce, Pearce is probably the most like myself, while Erin and Patrick are two peas in a pod. This second hike had amazing views, and the conversations were wonderful.

On the 1.5 mile hike down the mountain, Pearce said, “You know, I think we need to pray on the way down.” Wanting to encourage his leadership in this area, I agreed and encouraged him to begin. I wasn’t sure if he was praying that we would make it down safely or what, so listening to his prayer peaked my interest. Pearce prayed for his daddy who had altitude sickness and for his sister who had chosen to stay back with Patrick and Dodie. Afterward he said, “Isn’t it amazing how creative and crafty God is?” He had stopped and was taking in the view while drinking some water. I just love times like these. Pearce challenges me physically to do more than anyone else.

Part of Bandelier allows people to climb up ladders into little cave in the side of the mountain where Native American’s called “Cliff Dwellers” used to live. He climbed every ladder, and I climbed a few. We saw paintings on the side of the mountain that had faded over the years of sunlight burning into the surface of the mountain. We heard the stream down below, and we wondered how these people lived so minimally.

I am so thankful to have had time away with my family. I am so blessed.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

What I Learned Headed to the Mountain-Top...

On our second day of hiking in Santa Fe, I was questioning my sanity and the strength of my own legs as they were beginning to feel like rubber bands. The first day we hiked 1.3 miles up the side of a mountain at Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. Patrick, his dad and his wife went half way up while Erin, Pearce and I hiked to the summit of these amazing hills and mountains. Patrick was suffering from altitude sickness, so the kids and I wandered the paths, climbed over rocks and boulders, squeezed through tight places and climbed to heights we had never reached before. I have to admit I wasn’t all that excited about reaching the top…atypical for a type-A person.

My family had not had a vacation since I started seminary, and we were in dire need of some time away. Personally, when I go on vacations to relax I like to curl up with a good book and listen to the waves pound the sand, but this wasn’t that kind of vacation…obviously. Believe it or not when I am on vacation and trying to relax, I’m a lot calmer and even quiet. I know that may surprise some of you, but I really am.

So, as the children and I were trekking upward and onward, I was taking my time, and what I learned was this – Sometimes we are so geared for that mountain-top experience that we negate the experience from the climb, and we overlook the beauty in the journey.

A tree standing between rocks straining for the sun in striking contrast to the rocks surrounding it against the bluest of blue skies.

Rocks that must have been honed by God’s own hand just to entertain the angels and humans who would discover these tent-shaped rocks. (Loved that conversation with my kids)

Swirls of different colored layers of stone crawling overhead and along each wall.

Children playing in the twisted and gnarled roots of a tree that refuses to die.

Places so tight along the path and so treacherous that not everyone who attempted would be allowed to pass.

Boulders balancing precariously atop of tent-shaped mounts.

I saw my children tackling their fears and asserting leadership.
And once we were almost to the top, we saw the tent-shaped mounts from a different perspective.

I saw works of art that I would have missed had I just been set on reaching the mountain-top experience.

God uses everything along whatever journey you are on. It is okay to observe your surroundings as you journey towards the mountain summit. I encourage you. By doing so, you will see that you are actually living life and experiencing life not overlooking the least of God’s blessings along the way.

And when you have to come down from the mountain top, as we all must, remember the view is different, so take your time. Enjoy the view. Learn what you can, and encourage those who are going up to the top to not stop and those who are headed down to keep their footing sure and their eyes open for the miracles that can happen if we are just aware. Because if we travelled 1.3 miles up, then we travelled 1.3 miles down.

What an amazing trek with my kids. Great conversations. Awesome experience. Time well-spent.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The End of Women's Ministry at Calvary

I have written this blog at least a dozen different ways in my mind since I found out two weeks ago that Pastor Rick was going to close the women’s ministry in Calvary. I have to admit I was the most ill-equipped women’s ministry leader at the beginning of this journey. The first time our church did the Daniel’s fast in January of 2009, God revealed so much to me. He laid out what missions He wanted His daughters to focus on until December 2011. I assumed that after that point He would reveal to me what He wanted His daughters to do in ministry. During that first fast He laid it heavy on my heart that I needed to become equipped. Investigating insurance fraud doesn’t prepare a woman for ministering to women, in case you wondered. And as much as I did not want to go to seminary, this is where He led, so I followed. In June of 2009, I entered seminary taking Master level courses in women’s ministry. This December I will graduate with two certificates (Basic and Advanced) with a 4.0. WOOOHOOOO!!!

I have to tell you being a wife and mom, working a full-time job, leading a ministry, and going to seminary seemed very daunting and overwhelming, but I knew this is where God was leading me. This 2011 year has been a particularly difficult year for my family. My family sacrificed for me to go to seminary. I would go for a week at a time only to return with two 15 page papers, two final exams and four books to read in four weeks…this didn’t include the work I had to do for my online classes. Plus my family began this year not knowing if I would have a job with benefits. We had to wait until August to find out that God had answered our prayers. I would get to keep my job and benefits, and I would be starting to work from home in 2012 – WOOHOO! At the end of March, Patrick began working out of town. I was single-parenting from March until the beginning of August. For all you ladies you prayed, supported and encouraged me during this time – thank you, thank you, thank you. Then at the end of July, Patrick’s mom became deathly ill, and we began trekking 5 ½ hours to see her while Patrick would go every few days. Gynelle passed away at the beginning of September. Two weeks later, Patrick’s 47 year-old cousin was found dead (Gynelle’s niece). The mother of this cousin was admitted to a hospital where she remains. Then this Thanksgiving week, Poppa Bob (Patrick’s step-dad) fell off a ladder and suffered a severe concussion and bruised ribs. He doesn’t remember that Gynelle died. He was flown to Jackson, Mississippi, because of the three bleeders in his brain.

I tell you all of that to say this. I do not believe for one moment that God would have my family go through such hardship to tell me to stop ministering to women. Calvary may not have a ministry for women, but I know this is a calling God has put on my life (often times, much to my chagrin). So what now? I’m not a quitter. I will continue to follow where God leads. I don’t have to defend the work that He led us to do these past 2 ½ years because I can honestly say that everything that was done was prayed over by a godly group of women, and we didn’t move unless we as a team in unison believed this was where God was leading. So, now I’m waiting on God to see why He wanted me to become equipped to do women’s ministry. I wait to see what doors He opens, and I anticipate the adventure that lies beyond because a growing Christian’s life is never dull.

I see more and more women starting ministries outside the church, and the ones I’ve spoken to regarding their ministries, I now understand their choices and reasoning. I don’t know if God will lead me to start a ministry outside the church or work with one that is already established. I just know that women have the same calling to serve and minister in the body of Christ, and I can’t wait to see how God will use me next.

Ladies of Calvary, I love you and I thank you for your involvement, your excitement and your passion to serve and minister. I’m still available for lunch or to meet for coffee if you want to talk. You can still reach me on FB, e-mail, text or phone if you need someone to pray for you, pray over you, or pray with you, please don’t hesitate to call me. You are amazing women, daughters of the Most High God.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

INDULGENCE -- Lesson 1

At the beginning of this fast, I have to admit I didn’t think anything about spiritual warfare. Hadn’t even crossed my mind. But on the third day, my accountability partner was verbally attacked on the local news where the public was given a forum to give their opinions based on their limited, one-sided knowledge. If you will pray a hedge of protection around her and her family, I’d greatly appreciate it. Then on the third day, I went to withdraw the Christmas Fund money to begin buying presents. The money and my driver’s license were in the envelope. I believe I put it in my purse, but it could have been in my lap. I went to Lifeway to look for a book for seminary, and when I got out of the truck, something hit the ground. I looked to see if my water bottle had fallen, and I saw nothing. So, I went on my way. It wasn’t until 5:30 PM that I began looking for the money and realized it was NOT in my bag. Patrick came home, so I could go back to Lifeway. On the drive all the way back to town, I was crying and praying because it was a lot of money. I rested in the fact that God knew exactly where it was, and if He so desired, He would restore me…one way or another. It still grieved me to no end.

It was then that I remembered the word that God had kept putting the word indulgence in my heart and mind. To be quite frank, I had never really thought about that word. It’s not one I use on a regular occasion. It isn’t part of my normal vernacular, so being the investigator that I am, I began to dig.

According to indulgence means the gratification of desire. In length the definition given is, “a pleasure, habit, etc, indulged in; extravagance” or “liberal or tolerant treatment,” “something granted as a favour or privilege.” In commerce indulgence is “an extension of time granted as a favour for payment of a debt or as fulfillment of some obligation.”

So, what is my desire? Last night, it was definitely to find that envelope. My desire is to have direction for women’s ministry. I’d like to have my house completely remodeled, so we can move into town. But most importantly, I want to be in God’s will, and I want to be in-line with the leadership He has given me. This reminds me of James 1:17 - 18, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through all the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created”(NIV). He wants to bless us. He wants to indulge us as His children. Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”(NIV). Does this mean God gives us everything we want?NO. He doesn’t want to spoil us. Do you like being around a spoiled child? Plus, these desires come after we delight in Him. If we are spending time with Him and communing with Him, then He is speaking to our hearts. He is putting those desires in our hearts, and then blessing us with providing it.

As Paul Harvey says, “Here’s the rest of the story.” I got up and ran a couple of errands after having gone to work this morning. I had to run home because we had forgotten to send Pearce’s snacks with him to school, so I ran all the way home to get them. When I returned to the truck, I noticed I had a missed call. It was a number I didn’t recognize, and there was a voice mail. A husband and wife had found my driver’s license in the parking lot at Lifeway. Would I please call her back? I immediately called her back with tears brimming on the edges of my eyes. I introduced myself and asked if she had found my driver’s license in an envelope full of money. Apparently, they had found my house phone number and had been trying to reach me but couldn’t because we use that line for a fax machine for Patrick’s business. Then her brother suggested googling my name. My name pulled up references to my leading women’s ministry at Calvary. She called Calvary, and they gave her my number.

God’s restoration is perfect. It’s like Pastor Rick said, God doesn’t use duct tape. His restoration is perfect. So today at three, I picked up my driver’s license and the envelope with all the Christmas money in it.

He indulged me with His favor to give me the desire of my heart. He got my attention.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Where do I begin? How about the end and work backwards? I lost an envelope that contained a large sum of money and my driver’s license. It was my Christmas fund.

Now to the beginning…last week I met with one of the women on my team for brunch and discussed part of what God had laid on my heart. I asked her to teach a Bible study on a subject, and we purchased the book together. During our conversation, she said she was going to fast in order to detox and to pray about leading this class. We started the Daniel’s fast on Monday. Today is the third day, Wednesday, and she is going to be verbally attacked on our local news, and the money I withdrew to by Christmas presents is missing. I’ve also been sick this week while trying to get my seminary work turned in by next week. So far, I’m wondering, “Why did I agree to do this fast?” Apparently, we have stirred up a hornet’s nest.

Since starting this fast, there is one word that keeps coming into my mind and heart – Indulgence. This word has nothing to do with the subject for which we are praying. I have a feeling this is God’s revelation to me.

I know that God knows where the money and my driver’s license is, and I know that He is more than able to return all of it to me…if that is in His will.

I know that whatever happens on the news tonight or whatever happens with the Christmas money that God is going to work it out. I just have to have faith and trust. Will you please pray with me that whatever happens that God will receive the glory? Will you pray with me that God will use these things that Satan meant for harm us that God will turn it around for our good? He is more than able. He is more than capable. Will you also pray for God’s protection over us and our families? I don’t think the adversary likes what God has placed in my heart.

Spiritual warfare is very real. I’m looking to God to do great things in this fast. I’m expecting Him to give us guidance and wisdom.

I’ll let you know where He leads me regarding INDULGENCE, and how things turn out.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Has Been Bullied...And Here's the Rest of the Story

I wadded up my fist, reared back as I walked over to my bully, and let an upper cut fly.

It was my senior year in high school. I was 5 foot 6 ½” and maybe 105 pounds on a good day, and I had reached my maximum capacity of bullying. I don’t think I had recognized it as such, but now that I look back I think it qualifies. I had to go to a competitor’s school my senior year, and one of the football players had been throwing rocks at me as I would walk across the quad to different classes. This had gone on for weeks. Thing is I liked him as a person, but he had gotten on my last nerve, and I had had enough. ENOUGH.

So, I wadded up my fist, reared back as I walked over to my bully, and let an upper cut fly. When his head came back down to where he looked down into my eyes, I said, “Cut. It. Out.” I turned around and walked off as the other football players were laughing.

Had I thought my actions through? PLEASE! No, I hadn’t. Was there a better way to have handled the situation? Maybe. Was my way effective? (I’m smiling.) Yes, yes it was. Later he would come to me and tell me to let him know if anyone ever bothered me, he would take care of it. I told him I could take care of myself.

My daddy had taught me to fight when I was in elementary school after my first fight with a boy. Could I have held my own with the football player? Are you kidding me? He was about twice my size. But the element of surprise was on my side.

I didn’t think about that scene until recently. During small group on Sunday morning, one of the ladies in my class referred to meeting her high school bully. She referred to the other woman as “my bully.” Then I heard of a girl this week hitting a boy at school who had been bullying her, and then his mother all of the sudden had a problem with it.

Let me go ahead and tell you, my children are not perfect, but if I ever find out one of mine has bullied another person there will be a serious come-to-Jesus meeting in the Mullins’ house. Truthfully, I only have concerns regarding one of them. The other one just gushes mercy…they don’t tend to be bullies (hahaha).

It’s about respect. We are learning about respect in my house these days. Respect for what God says in His word. Respect for parents and authorities. Respect for others. Respect for ourselves. Respect in the way we talk to others. Respect in the way we behave. It all goes towards the showing the world the type of character we have.

I’ve told my kids I want them to do three things, and if they do these three things, they will be doing great. 1) Be Respectful 2) Be Obedient 3) Be Kind. Respect goes a long way. If a young lady respects herself, she isn’t going to allow some boy to disrespect her. If a young man respects his parents and authorities, he has learned to submit his will and will be more likely to follow God’s leadership. Obedience is for the development of their character and for their protection. Kindness means they are looking for ways to bless or benefit someone else – they aren’t just looking out for themselves. I’m praying these lessons stick.

Obedience is not a dictatorship. I totally believe in giving my children choices when it is appropriate and when they’ve earned it. My children are learning about rites and privileges. They now understand rites mean air, food, education, and clothes. Privileges are the blessings in life and can be withheld or removed. We want so much to give our children good things, to bless them with their hearts’ desires…Does this sound familiar? Matthew 7:11-12 “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! 12 So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” That about sums it up for parenting and bullying, doesn’t it? So thankful my God gives good gifts and blesses me even when I don't deserve it. So thankful God is faithful to work on developing my character and loves me enough to not leave me as I am.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Treasured Treasure

One of my most favorite pieces of jewelry is one the no one bought for me. There are several things that I love about it:

1. It is one of a kind

2. It is from the Philippines

3. My Pappaw brought it back to my Mammaw after fighting in the Navy during WW2

But I almost missed it.

You have to understand, my Pappaw was one of my favorite people. His easy smile. His quiet spirit. The smell of his pipe. His big hands and bald head. (He used to say, “God only makes so many perfect heads. The other heads have hair.) Pappaw kept a wooden box in a drawer in his dresser. I remember seeing it when I was growing up wondering what was in it. When I was in college, I asked him what was in it and if I could look in it. He grinned and handed me the box. It had old pictures of him in his Navy uniform with his hat to the side – even in his pictures he had swagger. He reminded me of John Wayne. He was such a good lookin’ man. There were little knick-knacks, and things I don’t remember. Then I saw this small, hard piece of jewelry. I asked him about it. He told me that while he was a cook in the Navy he had gone to the Philippines and bought this bracelet for Mammaw. She had long since stopped wearing it, but for some reason he had kept it. (I don’t know why, but it must have been something he liked too.) I asked him if I could have it. He grinned and handed it to me. Of course, I made sure it was okay with Mammaw that I had it. I couldn’t tell what it was. It was corroded and black. I thought there was a coin of some sort, but I just couldn’t make out the rest. I took it to a jeweler who was tentative about cleaning it once I told him the story, but he agreed to put it into a shaker or vibrator. I came back the next day, and I was amazed. All of the blackness, all of the corrosion had been shaken off to reveal that there wasn’t just one coin but seven coins.

Being in the insurance industry, I tried to get it appraised in order to get it insured. The lady who does all my appraisals said she could not put a price or value on it because she had never seen anything like it, and knowing its history, she didn’t feel that an appraisal would do any good because it could never be replaced.

Irreplaceable. Rare. Beautiful. Shiny. All qualities I love in jewelry.

Individually, the coins really aren’t worth much. If the coins were loose coins, they still wouldn’t be worth much. But because someone took the time to solder the coins together during World War II and sell it in the Philippines to a Navy seaman, it is priceless. This is synergy. Together the parts are more than the sum of the parts because it is priceless.

We are all a bit like this bracelet. Irreplaceable. Rare (Each of us is one of a kind.) Beautiful (especially on the inside when God cleans us up).

There is one difference. You have a price. You have been bought with a price. Jesus died on the cross to pay the cost of your sins, so you can have a relationship with a most Holy God. The question is…”Do you have a relationship with God?” When you stand before Him one day to be judged (as we all will), how will you answer Him when He asks, “Why should I let you into heaven?” Your answer will determine whether you get in or not. If you are interested, send me a message. I’ll be glad to share this unique, priceless gift He has waiting for you.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hidden in Plain Sight -- Don't ya just love it?!

When I was sick as a little girl, my mom would take me to see Dr. Asseff here in Shreveport. I’m not really sure how she came to choose Dr. Asseff as my doctor, but his office wasn’t the child-friendly place like where my kids go now. One thing I do remember about Dr. Asseff’s office was the magazine Highlights. Anyone remember that magazine? What I loved and despised about this magazine was the “Hidden Pictures” challenge. If you don’t know what that is, there are pictures to the side of a larger, more complex picture. The pictures on the sides were of items to be found in the larger, more complex picture. Basically, these individual pictures were hidden in plain sight. It used to tick me off because invariably I could find all but one miniscule thing. Like finding a needle in a haystack. The irony is that part of what I do for a living is looking for that needle in the haystack by trying to find connectors between parties, and I love it. I love the challenge of getting’ ‘em.

But this morning, I did not appreciate the “hidden in plain sight” challenge. I took my keys outside to open the truck and put my things in. I walk back into the house, scolded Erin about an issue, went to get some books regarding my seminary classes, and when it was time for me to leave…the keys were not in my hands…or in my pocket…or behind my ear…or in the truck…or on my bed…or under my bed…or between the sheets of my bed…or in the bathroom. I was continually talking out loud to God. “I know You know where they are. I know You can see them. Please direct my feet, my eyes and my mind to their location. Open my eyes. Jar my memory. SHOW ME!” You get the picture.

It was like they evaporated into thin air. I’m still not confident that Pearce didn’t hide them when he found out I was going to be taking them to school. It rocks his little world when we change the schedule up on him. Needless to say, fifteen minutes later, Patrick gave me the spare set of keys, and he took the kids to school while I continued to rake over my house and retrace my steps. I left the house this morning with the spare set of keys in hand, and my personal set of keys sitting somewhere in plain sight. I HATE IT WHEN I DO THAT! HATE IT. UGGH! Does this only happen to me? It happens even more when I am tired, stressed and off my ADHD medicine – not a good mixture on any day.

Sometimes I feel like this in my spiritual walk, in the ministry that God has put on my heart to do. His will is in plain sight, and I don’t have a clue what is, where it is, or where to even begin to look for it. I know He sees it. It’s right out there for Him to see. I find myself crying out, “I know You know where I’m supposed to be going. I know You can see the way. Please direct my feet, my eyes and my mind to that location. Open my eyes. Jar my mind. SHOW ME!” If He would just show me where I am supposed to go or what I’m supposed to be using these two women’s ministry certificates for, I’d really be very grateful. I’m ready. I’m ready to rock and roll. Let’s get it on! Bring it on! (About now, I’m sure He’s chuckling.)

There was a verse He gave me very early on in my path to ministering to women – Isaiah 42:16. I claimed this verse because I was completely out of my element, completely out of my comfort zone, and ill-equipped. I find myself going back to that verse now that I have confidence in His calling in my life and have a little training under my belt.

• “I will lead” (I’m pretty sure He doesn’t appreciate my pushing)

• “the blind” (here we go with that whole hidden in plain sight thing)

• “by ways they have not known” (this excites me and it is why I am so eager to get going)

• “along unfamiliar paths I will guide them;” (can’t get any more unfamiliar than following the Spirit where He leads regarding ministry – but no other place to be)

• “I will turn the darkness into light before them” (could have used some of that illumination this morning in the search for my keys. Also need His light to show me where and how I am to minister to women)

• “and make the rough places smooth” (So thankful He goes before me and has me hemmed in from the front and the back – Ps 139)

• “These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.” (Why did I get so frantic this morning? I know those stupid keys will show up? Why do I get so restless waiting on God to show me what He wants me to do for His Kingdom? He’s got this. He’s got me.)

P.S. I’d really appreciate your praying that I can find my keys. I’m giving myself a grace period before I have to go and invest in a new set.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Strong-Willed Child -- A 3 AM Lesson

Yes, it was a 3 AM morning…meaning this is when God wakes me up to have a conversation. This morning it was about my strong-willed child. I was really surprised by the number of parents that hit “like” on my Facebook post about raising a strong-willed child. I know that there are others out there in cyberspace raising a strong-willed child, but sometimes it just doesn’t seem like. Sometimes it feels very lonesome because the discipline issues can be so daunting.

I love God by the way. His Word is living and active and is as relevant today as it was the day it was penned. For the past week, I’ve really been struggling with my strong-willed child. I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed the power of the blood of the cross from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet! So, at 3 AM this morning when God woke me wide awake it was to remind me of the story of Jacob.

Just to refresh your memory. Jacob was a thief. He stole Esau, his twin brother’s blessing, and then went on the run for fear Esau would kill him. In Genesis 32, Jacob is returning home and has sent a messenger ahead to meet his brother. When the messenger returns, they tell him that Esau is bringing 400 men. In a panic, Jacob divides his people into two groups hoping that at least one will survive. “9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Point of encouragement – God knows what it takes to bring a strong-willed child to pray.

The next day he sends his people in waves out to meet Esau, and each wave is instructed to tell Esau these gifts were from his servant Jacob. Jacob’s gifts went ahead of him. Point of encouragement – Jacob used his ability to manipulate/maneuver people for his benefit. Yes, this isn’t always a good thing, but in this instance, it preserved his life.

Then Jacob spent the night. This is the point in the story that God reminded me of some things. In verse 24 it says, “24 So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.” God wrestled with Jacob all night. Jacob would not relent. He wouldn’t cry “uncle.” Jacob wouldn’t quit fighting. This is where I’ve been living this past week…my strong-willed child fighting authority. God sooooo knew that I needed this. Jacob fought throughout the night and into morning…Point of encouragement – One day when this child’s will has been shaped and molded, he will have the stamina and ability to stand his ground. (Assuming this child is allowed to live that long – just kidding)

I love what happens next. This is classic for a strong-willed child. “25 When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak. But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The messenger from God had to physically lay hands on the strong-willed, child of God in order to get the child to submit. You’d think that would be enough, but it wasn’t. Just when you think you are on top of the situation that strong-will child has one more move to make. Jacob says he won’t let go until he blesses him. “I’ll do what you tell me if…” Surrendering or submitting under his own conditions – this is soooo my child.

“27 The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel,[f] because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” 29 Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. 30 So Jacob called the place Peniel,[g] saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.”

Did the messenger have to ask his name? Of course not, but it does give Jacob an opportunity to realize who he is and who he is not (God). God’s messenger changes Jacob’s name to Israel. Up until now only two other people had their names changed by God – Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah. The next part of Scripture is true about strong-willed kids (or at least mine). Jacob “struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Did he beat God? No, but he was allowed to survive the whole incident which is a miracle in and of itself – anyone know what I’m talking about? Point of encouragement – These kids are overcomers.

One last point before I close. God was always in control. He didn’t act in anger. He was in control to the very end, and to make sure Jacob/Israel understood that the messenger of God never reveals his name to Jacob. It was irrelevant to the situation, and the messenger was in control of what information and what words to say. As parents we have to be careful of what we say and what we tell our kids during the times that we wrestle with them. Proverbs 3:12 says, “the Lord disciplines those He loves.” Discipline is done in love not anger, and our behavior and our words as their parents need to be the same.

Sorry this is so long, but it is what God was teaching me this morning.
* Scripture from NIV

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Calvary's Women In Ministry...Under Protection

We have a miniature beagle named Jade. She is one of the happiest dogs you will ever meet, but she isn’t much smarter than the day she arrived on this planet. As a matter of fact, beagles are on the list of one of the dumbest dogs, but to their defense it is because their noses run headstrong over any common sense. Once their noses get working on a scent, nothing else seems to matter. You can call her till you are blue in the face, but she will not come. Jade is one of the sweetest, most loving, most tolerant dogs I have ever seen. She leans on you. Erin will be sitting on the floor doing homework, and Jade will come and plop her hiney down right beside Erin and start leaning on her. If Erin moves, Jade tumbles. Pearce, needless to say, is all over this dog. He loves on her more than anyone else in this family. Then there is Jade’s tail. It wags incessantly…sometimes side to side and other times in a circle, whacking whatever is around her. And when we arrive home at the end of the day, Jade comes trotting down the drive-way, tail wagging and smiling from long ear to long ear. We call her the “welcoming committee.” Oh to be such a happy person as she is a happy dog.

So, when I saw this picture come up on the internet, I cracked up laughing. This is so my dog. This dog is so intent on finding a scent or following the scent, he doesn’t realize that the thing he is hunting is actually hunting him! The fox is a male trying to protect his den full of his cubs. That fox could very easily reach up and take a bite out of that dog’s backend.

The longer I looked at that picture, the harder I laughed. That is soooo my dog. That is sooooo my dog. Just happy to be outside. Happy to be on a hunt on a beautiful day…and doesn’t have a clue. Then I wonder, “Is that me? I think I’m on the right path, but have I missed a very important point? Am I missing something? What am I missing? What am I supposed to be following? Who am I supposed to be following? If the person whom I am to be following isn’t moving, then what am I doing?”

This is truly where I am right now, or should I say, this is where I am trying to avoid being right now. You see, I lead the women’s ministry in my church. Back at the end of July, we submitted our ideas and what God had put on our hearts to our leadership, our pastor, and we still haven’t heard a thing. It’s confusing and frustrating on this end, but I also know that the hand of God is on my pastor. I know that God has put my pastor as my leader, and that I am to serve under his direction and guidance. To act without his approval, to move ahead without his permission is much like this dog ahead of the fox…dangerous. If women’s ministry is to succeed, we have to submit to the leadership God gives us. In order to have God’s protection, we must stay under the umbrella of protection afforded by our leadership.

I know there are many women who are chomping at the bits to get moving. You are excited and anxious to start serving. In the past year and a half, the women’s ministry has developed into a serving and active ministry. Whatever we do, there is some aspect of mission. Whatever we do, we try to incorporate multiple generations because we believe in the mentoring laid out in the Bible. We’ve been encouraging women to be the church outside the walls of the church for several seasons now, and quite a few have begun volunteering at Crisis Pregnancy Center. A group of women volunteered at the Heart of Hope Maternity Home. We also had women open up their homes in neighborhoods to host “Sweet Stars.” At one house, we had ½ of the participants as members and the other ½ were guests. That’s what it is all about, and I know that is why the women of Calvary are excited to get going. You are ready to reach out and make a difference. I am too…trust me. But even more important than those things which were great and effective, I want the women of Calvary to be a part of the excitement that is going on NOW. Calvary is alive. The Holy Spirit is moving. So we will wait. The Bible says that “those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength”(Is 40:31). And ladies, we may be waiting because our strength, God’s strength may be required for the next step.

I will not lead a group of women ahead of our pastor or against our pastor. I will not be like that beagle…it’s too easy to get bit in the rear that way. Getting ahead of leadership guarantees that our focus is not on God, it’s on self and what we plan will fail. Bible says it. There’s a story in Acts 5, and this verse has hit me between the eyes – “…for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” Acts 5:38-39. I do not want to be found opposing God. Do you?

So, please do not get frustrated or discouraged. Pray for our pastor. Pray for the leadership in our church. Pray that God continues to rain down and pour out His blessings on this church, so we can pour it out on this community and city.

Love y’all bunches. You are a blessing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Ring and an Honor

I met my husband in June of 1990, on a blind date. Something I swore I would never do, and something he had sworn off as well. As you see, we both made an exception that would forever change our future. It was in June of 1990 that I met his mother, Gynelle. She was in my life for over half my life when she passed away from liver failure on August 29, 2011. Gynelle left her solitaire to Patrick, and he honored me by giving it to me. I had the diamond band that was attached to my original wedding ring taken off and soldered onto Gynelle’s solitaire…something of mine, something of her’s.  It is breath-taking. It’s something that we would never have been able to afford, and it is something that I will always treasure because of the woman who wore it and the man who gave it to me. Thank you, Patrick.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Theme is Chosen, Invitations are Sent

Have you ever been responsible for planning a large event? Maybe a wedding? A reception? A business function that brought in board members or managers?
 If you have, you've probably heard the saying, "Whatever can go wrong, probably will." There are just so many details to work out. Invitations. Who is invited? Who isn't invited? How many are expected? Then how will each guest be recognized or made to feel recognized and special. Will there be registration of some sort? If guests are traveling, are hotel arrangements made and how will those be paid? How will guest get from the airport to the hotel or event location? That doesn't even begin to scratch the surface because we haven't even started talking about food for breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks. We haven't considered entertainment either. Will you need microphones, lighting, and projection equipment for power point presentation? So, will you? Pressure. Pressure. Pressure. And if this doesn't go well, people will be talking about you till the cows come home!

It can be downright overwhelming and cumbersome. This is why it isn't usually just one person planning the larger events…it's a team!
I bet you are wondering where in the world I'm going with this, aren't you? Actually, I'm not going just anywhere in the world with this.

I am back in seminary, and while I wasn't really looking forward to this particular online class, it really has me thinking. You see, I thought I knew everything I needed to know about being a Baptist because I am a multi-generational-Southern Baptist. But I've actually learned things critical to my faith, and I've learned things that have made me ponder. Pondering is what I do best – Winnie the Pooh and I are alike in that way.Currently, in my class, we are studying the Kingdom of God and Last Things (what is going to happen in the end). And this is where I started pondering about the planning of large events.

Think about it…when Christ returns He is going to be taking a BOAT LOAD of bodies up to heaven. In human terms let's work through this, shall we? And since it's my blog, I AM. The souls have been in heaven, but when Christ returns, the dead will rise and then those of us who remain will be caught up in sky. So in essence, you have souls being matched with bodies from since THE BEGINNING OF TIME, and on top of that, you have an influx of new people. What would that look like here on earth? Social security has a hard time keeping people matched with their social security numbers at times. Can you imagine them trying to match the right body with the right soul? If your last name starts with an "A," please stand in this line and fill out this paperwork. Based on the information you provide, we will try to find your soul. SAY WHAT? Then there is the influx of newbies…have you ever been around a bunch of greenhorns? They are full of questions. They don't stay in line. Some wander off wanting to see the streets of gold and to find the Great Throne. Um, ma'am, you haven't been processed. You have to be processed to make sure that your room is ready. Please fill out this form and take a number. We'll get to you as soon as possible. WOULDN'T THIS BE A NIGHTMARE!? I know you are probably wondering, "Why am I reading this?" But hang on. I do have a point….
But it won't be like this AT ALL. You see, God is preparing to have a party of one with you. Jesus went to prepare a place (it says so in Matthew). The preparations for THE BIG DAY are being worked on and made ready even as you read this goofy blog. Next, God's got this. There won't be any lines. There isn't any stress. For where God is there is peace and rest and joy. This will be a time of great rejoicing. Souls won't be mismatched to the wrong bodies. The newbies will have nothing to fear. There is going to be some awesome singing and worshipping and praising God…lifting up holy hands, falling down on our faces before an Almighty God. You will want for nothing. I CANNOT WAIT FOR THAT DAY! (No more tears in heaven. Seeing loved ones who have gone on before me. Meeting people I had only read about. AMAZING!)

On the flip side of this, however, is a very real place called "hell" – eternal separation from God. A place where this skin burns but isn't consumed. Wailing and gnashing of teeth. The smell of Sulfur (like rotten eggs) and of burning flesh. No rest. Extreme pain 24/7. I cannot begin to fathom the suffering that goes on there now and will continue to go on forever. I don't want to process that. I try to put it out of my mind, but maybe if I kept it more in the forefront of my mind, I'd do more about it. I want my goal to be, "When the rapture happens, I want there to be a large group of newbies entering heaven than hell." What are you doing about it? Who will you invite to go with you to heaven, to meet your Savior?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Knows Why Some Animals Eat Their Young

He raises his voice. She whines and whimpers. “You’re so mean.” One stomps off in a huff. The other refuses to do as he/she is told. “I wish I didn’t have a brother.” He whines. She raises her voice and pops her brother (which is probably over-due). He breaks down in tears, and she blows hot air like a bull at a matador. Homework was a struggle, and the ride home was tense. One had a rough day at school, and the other is rubbing it in. This is at the end of the day, and I’m at the end of my rope.


Now, you know I love my kids. They crack me up. I find humor in much of what they do, but there are days that sometime string into weeks that they just bring me to swing at the end of the proverbial rope. There is just so much a mom or a person can handle before the last nerve that the kids jump on snaps in half or multiple pieces, and the exorcist takes control of my head causing it to spin like a top. Can I get a witness?

Let me encourage you, Sweet Parent. Breathe deeply. You are not alone. You can do this without doing irrepairable harm to your precious children. This is what I learned as a child when my mom had reached her maximum capacity of child-caused stress.

When I was growing up, Lori and I knew when we had pushed our mom over the line…she’d use the “c” word… “c-rap.” That was the sign that the end was near. The rapture was about to take place…not the churches rapture, but mine and Lori’s. We were about to meet our maker…normally that meant our daddy. We’d meet our Creator another day. On those days as a child, I learned A LOT about prayer. I remember laying in my bed praying, “God, please let her forget!” or “God, please let daddy work late.” Some were answered. Some were not.

The waiting was so stressful. The not-knowing of what the future held for my fate was intense. It was during these waiting times that I learned just how much stress I had caused because I was now feeling it as I waited…in the quiet. That was the worst. Waiting in the quiet. Not hearing a sound. What in the world could she possibly be doing in the other room!?

On the rare times that my mom did not mention it to my dad or the matter was dropped, I learned what grace was. I learned what it meant to be pardoned. Did I deserve to get disciplined and even punished? Hehehe, I’ll let you wonder. But when grace was exercised, it washed over me relieving me of my anxiety and bringing me to repentance.

When discipline or punishment came, we were allowed to soak in it for a while, but then the time came that my daddy or my mom would come to us, bring us in their arms, and tell us that they loved us but not the behavior we had shown. What did that teach me? That someone can love me but not my behavior and that my parents expected the best out of me.


One more thing, I’m not perfect in parenting. It will be interesting to hear my kids spin on things when they get older. Be careful when you criticize another parent. You don’t know where they’ve been or what they’re going through. Instead, why don’t you pray for them, pray over them…and if necessary, provide your sister a little relief. Trade out. Give her a break…some time to herself. Hang in there my fellow mommies. Hang in there.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wonders How Can You Make a Water Buffalo Cute?

There’s just no way to make a water buffalo cute. It’s big. It’s hairy. It slobbers, for crying out loud, and yet this is the mammal my daughter chose to write her report on for fifth grade science class. Of all the mammals in the world, Erin chooses the WATER BUFFALO! I suggested a pot bellied pig. We could put little nose prints on the poster and curly, little tails popping off the poster board for the 3-D effect. But no, Erin had to choose a WATER BUFFALO! And do you know why she chose a water buffalo? Because Veggie Tales has “Silly Songs with Larry,” and he sings a song called “Everyone’s Got a Water Buffalo.” On any given day she will be singing that crazy song as she meanders through life.

So, how in the world do we make this project look cute? Seriously! Any ideas would greatly be appreciated! There are limited pictures on the internet, so this could be a real challenge. There isn't even a picture of a water buffalo in the Veggie Tales song, but did she think about that? PLEASE!

How does one make something that is unattractive into something beautiful? The quote, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear,” comes to mind. How do you take something that is a big, nasty mess and make it into a tasteful report? I don’t know why this is so difficult. I should be a pro at this because I’ve gotten so used to making my life that can be so unattractive or a big, nasty mess into what appears to be something tasteful. Words I’ve said. Attitudes I’ve held. Lack of faith, doubt, impatience, tolerance and intolerance, and just blatant sin in my life I try to dress up, cover up and march into the presence of God as if I’m just as precious as can be. A sow’s ear will always be a sow’s ear. A water buffalo will always be a water buffalo even if you put a tutu on it. No matter how we dress up our lives, no matter what we present to the world, God sees beyond it to the heart of the matter…to the water buffalo underneath. The thing about God is He created the water buffalo. He designed and created it with specific intentions. It’s when we take the water buffalo out of its natural habitat and try to make it into something God did not create it to be does it (the water buffalo) look ridiculous. Sometimes we just need to accept ourselves as the person God created us to be, confess our sins, stop putting on airs, get real with God, lay prostrate before our Creator and ask Him to purify us, to heal us.

I remember Isaiah 6. Isaiah had been in the presence of God Almighty. Hearing the seraphim crying and calling, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah had been in the presence of God Almighty, and in His presence Isaiah realized that none of his acts, none of his service did God any favors. He realized just how unclean he was. He discarded all pretense, all pride and got real with God, “WOE TO ME!” When was the last time you got real with God? When was the last time you were honestly in His presence worshipping Him and realized just how unclean and unworthy you are? Isaiah was cleansed, and God sent him out. Let God cleanse you, restore you, make you into the creature He intended you to be.  Lay down your tutus, your cuteness, you high dollar clothes, your status, and be who He wants you to be. There’s no other life like it…the one of a redeemed child of God serving and living as the creature He has designed you to be. There’s freedom in it. There’s peace, and there’s joy.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Has Been Underestimated by a Boy's Club...hahaha

I was in the fourth grade when I got into my first fist fight with a boy…at least I think it was fourth grade. Yes, my first fistfight. But after my first fight with a boy, my daddy taught me how to fight, and it made all the difference in the world. Some pointers daddy gave me AFTER my first fistfight were the following:
·         Since I was always on the small size, daddy always said if I was going to throw the first punch it needs to be a surprise AND it needs to connect (He said there would be times that a fight might be inevitable, and if that were the case, it would be in my best interest to ring his bell first. I knew better than to fight another girl. They don’t fight fair.)
·         He told me when I wadded my hand up into a fist to make sure my thumb was on the outside. Otherwise, my thumb would get broken
·         Daddy recommended the first punch be an upper cut (This tactic was proven very effective my senior year in high school when I decked a linebacker…just sayin’)
·         He also told me about using my knee and how to pop someone’s eyes out (I know it’s gross, but if you are a woman and you don’t know how to defend yourself, you need to get educated)
·         AND if I am ever attacked by a man, pee on him
These were the rules of engagement I was given by my daddy in regards to defending myself. Those of you raising girls may not agree with his method, but after I walked away with a fat lip and the other boy a bloody nose, he thought it best to teach me some self-defense. Even if I had not gotten into a fistfight with that first little boy, it is wise for girls to be taught some basic defense skills.
From very early on, I’ve been trying to break into a boy’s club in some way or another. I honestly don’t know why that is. I guess because in my mind’s eye when I bow up, I’m the Rock instead of the Chihuaha that I am.  It is no surprise that when I started in fraud investigation that I was really only the second “generation” of women in my field. When I would go into body shops or salvage yards and the men would call me “honey” or “sugar,” it used to make me madder than a wet hornet…until. Yes, there was a day when my boss who was the first generation of female fraud investigators told me to consider it part of the game. Utilize whatever I had to my benefit. So, yes, there would be times when I would visit a body shop/chop shop or salvage yard that I would wear a dress that accentuated my legs or physique. It was a distraction for them. They would start speaking in a condescending manner to me and start “explaining things” to me like I was stupid. Was I? No. And before I would leave a shop or at the end of an investigation, I would let them know just how badly they underestimated me. HEHEHE. I know that’s probably wrong, but I have to admit I did get great pleasure in it. I used to love the look on their faces when they realized they sunk their own boat. My friend Cynthia says I’m yen and yang – fraud on one side of me and then women’s ministry on the other.
As I’ve been thinking about the old boys’ clubs recently for various reasons, I realized that underestimating your opponent can be a serious weakness. I know I’ve underestimated people before and have been caught off guard. Haven’t you?
As Christians, we have a very REAL opponent. His name is Lucifer, Satan, the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says we need to be sober, vigilant because Satan is our adversary and is like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Never underestimate your opponent. He knows where you are weak. He knows how to push your buttons. He comes to kill, steal and destroy. These actions killing, stealing and destroying (John 10:10) requires skill, knowledge and capability. He comes to kill your dreams, steal your joy, and destroy your life. He doesn’t go into take you down without a plan of some sort. When he tempted Jesus, there was a plan. There was a method. Satan can be very patient when it is required in taking you down. He will attack whatever you consider to be a “small” weakness, but he can take that small weakness and feed it. Whatever you feed grows. If you feed your fleshly side, your spiritual side withers. If you feed your spiritual side, your fleshly side deteriorates. Satan will provide you with multiple opportunities to FEED that weakness, that fleshly side of yourself. Will you fall for it by thinking “I’ve got it under control?” Addicts of any sort will tell you they didn’t mean to become an addict. That was not their goal or intention. Bitter people didn’t start out wanting to become bitter, but they fed their anger and resentment. People who are morbidly obese didn’t start out with the intention of trying to kill themselves with food. Lonely people didn’t aim to be without friends and family, but they failed to control their mouths or their own, selfish desires thereby alienating those around them. Something so small. Something that appears to be harmless. Someone who appears one way but really isn’t.
Never underestimate you opponent. Don’t think for one minute that you got this one. A game changer can happen at any moment, or it can happen gradually so you don’t even recognize it.
Casting Crowns has a song called “Slow Fade.” The words to it are below. Please take time to read it.
Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see

Guard yourselves, sweet friends. Never underestimate the enemy.