Monday, August 29, 2011

Good Grief -- A Granddaughter Remembers (Erin's Entry)

My G has short, curly, and gray hair. She is a little short, and she could be stern sometimes.

I would go to her house for one week during the summer. Sometimes I went during Spring Break and Thanksgiving. G lives in a big house, and she has an upstairs. Her guest rooms are really pretty, and most of the time pretty clean. She has two cats – Peaches and Panther. She has a dog named Dottie who is a Dalmatian. Poppa Bob is her husband. He drives busses for kids. He has a key to the family life center and that’s where they get their ice and that’s where Poppa Bob takes us to play in the gym and upstairs.

When we see G, she takes us to the Dollar Store, and we get toys. Then, she takes us to the park. They have this bridge, and it looks like drums. It’s kind of scary to go over it. The first time I tried it G held my hand and walked beside me. They also have a big, giant slide and that’s really fun. Pearce, G and I had a picnic at the park. She also helped me to go down the big pole that is there.

At night, she reads us stories and does puzzles with us. During the day we play with a miniature, iron stove. She lets us borrow some dry noodles and dry beans, so we could pretend like we were cooking. She also had plates we used. She came outside and played with us when it wasn’t too hot. Madeline Mullins (my cousin) and I had a tea party outside with G, and we got to drink real tea. Madeline and Walker Mullins, Pearce and Me and G had a parade with the flutes that G gave us. She would sometimes do bubbles with us, and she’ll toss the football back and forth with us.

We went to the beach one time during the summer. We were making a sand castle, and then a van pulled up, and it could probably only hold six people. But all these people started coming out of there…like 20.

At Thanksgiving, G would always burn the bread, and she made cranberry sauce. We had our Christmas presents at Thanksgiving with G because we wouldn’t be back for Christmas. Every Thanksgiving, we had hayrides, and one time I was on a hayride with my daddy and all the sudden the end of the tractor fell. The hay fell on us. We also had bonfires where we would make s’mores, and mommy almost burned hers. My mom makes the best s’mores.

The last time G came to Shreveport, she came to hear me sing. After the concert was done, we went to Shane’s, and we ate at midnight. When we came back home, I was tuckered out, and I was done partying with the cows.

If you don’t know my G, she loves to cook and garden. She is very kind and thoughtful. She likes to sew. She made me dresses that I still have.

Please pray for her. She’s sick.

I’ll miss her taking us to the park, riding the four wheelers, and doing bonfires.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Is Learning and then Teaching on Prayer

Bear with me as I borrow a little from my post on the women's ministry blog from yesterday. I asked 3 things:
  1. "What if you woke this morning with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" Christine Williams
  2. When I think of prayer I think of…
  3. When I think of my prayer life I feel…
I have been asked how do I come up with my lessons, and I simply say, "It's what God has taught me." Typically before I teach a lesson I have to learn it first…not always pleasant, but lately, I have found myself praying in all kinds of manners. There is no one right way to talk to God. The kind of prayer I taught on today was the kind of prayer that is intimate and brings you into the presence of God Almighty.

Did you realize that praise and worship should start our prayers? My husband says he doesn't sing, but he does in the shower once in a blue moon. Praise and worship, however, doesn't have to be music. Praise and worship during our prayers focuses our attention on God. It is so easy to get distracted when praying…can't we? It's like that dog on the movie "Up" ---The dog will be in the middle of talking and then he says "Squirrel?" And then has to start over in the conversation. Sometimes our prayers are like that, but praise and worship helps us to direct our attention on God. So, how do we praise and worship…Tell God what names you love to call Him – Redeemer, Savior, Lover of my Soul, my Deliverer (Those are my favorites). Next tell Him what how you feel about Him and His unending, unchanging love for you. This is praise and worship.

Something amazing happens when we start with praise and worship. We enter God's presence, recognize His holiness, and we realize just how unclean we are. Then we enter that time of confession. This time of confession for the believer isn't for salvation, it's for restoration. It restores our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Isaiah was in the presence of God Almighty when he realized just what a mess he was in Isaiah 6:5. In today's terms and my version of things, "God, I've been talking some smack. I've gossiped. I've told lies. My lips are UNCLEAN." Unclean. Unclean. Asking for forgiveness restores our relationship with God, and we can stand before Him clean, righteous and holy. Think you haven't sinned? I dare you to ask God about that!

Next comes our petitions. Praying for the things and the people who are burdening our hearts. We had some good conversation about this today. I wish you could have been there. Women often have a hard time praying for their own needs because they feel selfish, but the Bible says, you have not because you ask not (James 4:2-3). When we are praying for the things the Spirit has placed on our hearts, we are communicating back to the Heavenly Father the desires He has placed on our hearts. Did you catch that? That's why He can give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4).

Now what if God answers your prayer with a "no?" Does your faith grow or do you waver? One of the ladies in my class, Criss Marley, shared this story with our class. For months now she has been praying in earnest for rain. It wasn't for her own selfish benefit. She knows the farmers need it too, but she has difficulty watering her lawn. She said it has rained several times around her home. She said it would rain a block away but not once at her own home. This past week she had a handy man come and paint her trim work. He called Criss outside and showed her a hole in her roof. He repaired the hole for her, and within 2 days it was raining at Criss's house. Did God want to bless Criss's home with rain? ABSOLUTELY. But did He see the big picture? Did He see that she couldn't afford for it to rain inside her house or the repairs to the interior? Why, yes, he did. Did He arrange for her to get notice about her roof? Without a doubt. Did He then give her the desire of her heart? Yes…He…Did. Can I just say that I love the women in my small group that meets on Sunday morning? They are the best. They are authentic. They are transparent. They are unique. I love their willingness to share their hearts and expose their weaknesses giving the others an opportunity to encourage her. It is truly an awesome thing.

They have their "faith work" (instead of homework). They each selected a prayer to read and study this week, and when we meet again we will share what we've learned. I encourage you if you are not part of a small group, find one. Get connected. Dig deep and grow. There is nothing like it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

GOOD GRIEF – A Daughter-In-Law Remembers

I realize that not everyone who reads my blog will know my G, so earlier in the week I wrote this about her, so you could understand a little of whom she is and who we will be missing. It's a good thing I wrote it earlier in the week because I think I'm hitting another stage of grief – depression. It's not bad. I don't need pep talks. I'm just in a funk, and it's totally okay to be in a funk. I think too often we try to make someone else feel better or rush to fix their pain or problem when the best healing comes from their working it out with their Savior. Don't get me wrong, there are times when people need encouragement and need medication and need counseling. I'm just not there. SOOOOO, please enjoy what I wrote earlier in the week, as I allow God to work on my FUNK.

Proverbs 31:13 "She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands."
If you ever stepped foot into Gynelle's home, you would know she was not an idle woman. She designed her home by measuring the furniture and building the room around the furniture.
Proverbs 31:22 "She makes coverings for her bed; she is clothed in fine linen and purple."

She sewed the drapes, comforters, pillows and bed skirts to compliment the wall color. Her grandchildren had handmade clothes by Gynelle, and when they were babies, she smocked their baby clothes.
Proverbs 31:17 "She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks,"Her flowers bloomed year around because she planned it that way. She would study the different kinds of blooming flowers and would map out her flowerbeds according to the heights of the flowers. Her back deck had potted plants that would attract butterflies and hummingbirds because that's what brought her joy and peace.

Proverbs 31:15 "She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls."Gynelle would fix Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to feed a group of family. She would decorate the dining room so it was a feast for the eyes. The food she prepared was just as pleasing making sure she had something special in mind for each guest. She knew what her guests' favorite foods were. And while this was delectable, it never failed, Gynelle would burn the bread. We would laugh at this every time. We called it "blackened bread."

This reminds me of the first Thanksgiving meal that I experienced in the Mullins' household. Patrick and I had started dating seriously in September, and Gynelle had invited me for Thanksgiving dinner. That day, Patrick called saying he was running late and asked if I would just meet him at the house. I agreed. When I arrived, I asked to help, but I was sent into the den and was told to not go into the dining room until dinner was served. (I think she wanted to see everyone's expression at the same time.) So, I was sitting in the den watching television when Patrick arrived from deer hunting. He had killed 2 that day. He stuck his head in the back door and asked me to come outside and help him. (Mind you, I am dressed nicely for a dinner with his parents!) I explained that under no circumstances would I help clean the deer. I told him he could kill them, clean them and cook them. I may or may not eat them. Gynelle had finished the preparations and went outside and began gutting that deer. (My thought – she's more of a woman than I am!) Afterwards she took a shower, and it was time to eat. We entered the dining room. The candlelight played off the crystal, and the tablescape she created was amazing. I have never been a part of anything quite like that.Proverbs 31:30-31 "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring praise at the city gate."
Gynelle was not perfect. She was a flawed human being just like the rest of us, but I know without a doubt that she loved. She loved her kids and her grandkids. I will be posting the memories that my kids have of their G. (Maybe Erin will be a guest writer on my blog again.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Learned a Lesson about Fear from Pearce

It is the second week of Pearce’s first grade. His teacher is Mrs. Gretchen Lary who has known Pearce all his life because Pearce at one time was the object of Anna Kate Lary’s affection…much to Gretchen’s chagrin. Anna Kate was too young to have a boyfriend. She was 3 at the time. But I have to say, Pearce is a charmer. He knows how to open doors and pull out the chairs for the girls. At any rate, I am so thankful that we are able to provide a Christian education for our children. Each teacher has such an impact for the kingdom of God on each student present.

Today at school it rained. Why is this significant? Because it has been one of the hottest summers on record, and one of the driest. We are in a drought. And today’s rain was no ordinary rain. God was showing His muscle and flexing His might. There was lightning and thunder, downpours of rain and a rumor of a tornado. My son has very few fears. His biggest fear is lightning and thunder. He can move at the speed of lightning to make it into my bed if there is a storm while we are at home. So today, when the storm came, my heart sunk, and I thought about my son and his fear. We’ve talked many times about casting that fear in the lap of God and about praying till the fear goes away. Still, I wasn’t there with him.

All of the students were moved into the hall because of the tornado watch that was issued, and when I asked Pearce how he did with it all, he said, “Momma, I just had to put that fear behind me.” I know Gretchen had to have said this, but when Pearce spoke it, he spoke it with such confidence. “I just had to put that fear behind me.” (Thank you, Gretchen! Love ya, girl!) And just as a side note, if you aren’t praying for your children’s teachers, you need to do so. If you aren’t praying that God will put godly men and women and friends into the lives of your children, start today. It is a life changer.

Shortly after school let out, my sister took Pearce to my mom’s house because I had taken Erin to a doctor’s appointment. If I were to ever believe in reincarnation and had to come back as an animal, I would want to come back as my daddy’s dog. Daisy is a terrier who has her owner trained. Due to the 100+ degree temperatures we’ve had in July and August, daddy has allowed the kitchen door to stay open into the mud room to help Daisy stay cool. Like Pearce, Daisy has a fear of storms too, so much so that she will break the rule and run into the kitchen at the first collapse of thunder. If the kitchen door is open, Daisy will make a break for the den if she can make it. So, as Pearce and Honey (my mom) were leaving the kitchen, there was a little, shaking dog who was scared of the thunder going on outside. It was then that Pearce turned around and said, “The Lord be with you.” I promise you I think there is an old man inside that short person I call my son.

When I was young I had few fears. I don’t know if it was lack of intelligence, lack of sense, or a feeling of being invincible, but I just didn’t have many fears. You’ve heard of fight versus flight? I always chose to fight regardless of the size of my opponent. But now as I’ve gotten older, I see that fears have penetrated my heart and my mind. Maybe it’s because I have more to lose. Maybe I’ve gotten a little smarter. Whatever the reason, life preservation is in over-drive.

If you are struggling with fear, I encourage you to cast it into the lap of our loving Savior because He cares for you. I encourage you to pray about everything instead of worrying, and as Pearce learned today, put your fear behind you. If your fear is behind you, then there is nothing blocking your view of your Savior.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Good Grief – I Hit a Couple of Stages This Weekend Alone (I’m an over-achiever – ha!)

      God's timing is perfect. At the beginning of August, I took 2 seminary classes – lay counseling and support groups. Both in some way or the other covered grief. My project for the support group class is to write a paper on establishing a grief support group. This was chosen before we knew the full extent of Gynelle's (Patrick's mom) condition and how it would play out.
    There are different stages of grief. (Although I find the word "stages" to be a bit of a misnomer in my simple thinking.) In the stages of grief, there is no particular order. You don't have to complete 1 stage to get to the next. Just because you deal with 1 stage of grief doesn't mean you won't revisit it either. I think it should be called "Status of Grief." What is your status? I'm angry. I'm in denial. I'm trying to bargain. I'm in acceptance. I'm depressed. Whatever your status is in grief.

This weekend I covered two – anger and denial. I'm an over-achiever.
     I think the denial gave way after being in Gynelle's house overnight and the next day. It was weird to be in her home without her. Gynelle was always present, always active, always engaging. She would take the grandkids for rides on the four wheeler, go to the park, take them to the Dollar General for a toy, or go to the family life center to play. She was cooking with them, playing with them, talking to them, or swinging with them. It was just an odd feeling being in her home without her energy, without her presence. I guess that's when it hit me that we would never have that again. It made me sad.     Then I went into the status of angry when a certain family member tried to claim things in the house as their own. It was all I could do to bite my tongue and keep my hands to myself. I think I have hole in my tongue big enough for a piercing! This person graded on my last nerve. The voice caused every muscle in my body to tense. Had it been my momma's house, I would have grabbed this person by the collar and the waist-band and shown them the door. But it wasn't my momma's house, and I don't want to cause any more stress for my husband than he already has, since he is the only one handling it along with Bob (her husband). If I think too long or too hard about some of the c-rap that has gone on by some of the parties involved, my blood boils. In case you can't tell, I'm refraining and containing myself A LOT right now!

     My ultimate goal in this grieving process is to support my husband, work through my own grief, but to also help my children to understand what is going on and how to grieve their own ways. I covet your prayers in this regard.     I'm sure I'll visit the anger status again before it's all said and done. I briefly visited it on the front end of this journey, but quickly, realized I was angry for selfish reasons.
     The Bible says that in our anger we are not to sin. God gave us a full range of emotions to use. Anger is one of them. How do we handle our anger and not sin? I don't know. The fact that I refrained from snatching that person bald was that refraining from sin or was the thought of it alone a sin? I'm learning as I go.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Heard Pearce Say, “You’re Disqualified!”

My children have been traveling since they were very young. When Erin was born, we lived in Texas, and we would return to Shreveport, Louisiana, several times before moving back when she was ten months old. She would also travel to see her G who lived in Mississippi and stay with her. Erin started staying with G for a week at a time when she was a little over one year old.

Pearce hasn't traveled as much, but now that he is older we will take road trips to different places. One of the games we play on the road is the "Alphabet Thankful Game." "I am thankful for A – apples." The next person repeats it and adds the word for "b." The next would copy all of them and add the "c" word. On this particular trip, Pearce asked that we not have to repeat the prior letters to which we all agreed. There are certain letters the kids have asked for throughout our trips. This trip Erin REALLY wanted the letter "t." The first go around I got the letter "t," and I was thankful for the trees. There was still time for another round of the game, and to Erin's great pleasure she received the letter "t." With her low raspy voice, Erin said, "I'm thankful for TOE JAM!" Pearce whips around and says, "That's disgusting, Erin. You're disqualified!"

The only rule to the alphabet game is that we go in the same order and go alphabetically. I'm not really sure that the grounds were for Erin's disqualification. Apparently, the grounds are arbitrary and may change depending on the mood of Pearce. I am SOOOOO thankful that our God doesn't change the rules. It doesn't matter if we gross God out. It doesn't matter what we've done. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow (Heb 13:8).

Friday, August 19, 2011

Good Grief – Is that an Oxymoron?

"Good grief," is a phrase that was used all the time on Charlie Brown. Good Grief also sounds like it should be the title of a book on mourning, and it may be I just haven't googled it yet. But is Good Grief an oxymoron? (Look the word up. My momma says it will help you to remember the definition.)

People grieve over many things – the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the end of a marriage, the loss of something substantial like a home or vehicle, the death of a pet, the loss of status. Some say that children who are adopted grieve for their birth parents. We can grieve over any given thing when the loss is great enough. There is no escaping grief either. You may try to avoid it. You may try to skip it by filling up the void, stuffing the emotions and feelings inside, or even taking on an unhealthy dependency or habit, BUT YOU CANNOT AVOID IT. It will come out one way or another. What I've discovered is that grieving doesn't end at the funeral service. It doesn't end at the end of the first or the second year. Grieving is also not a checklist either. "Okay, I've done this phase of grieving, and now I'm into this phase." There is no order to grieving either. Everyone grieves differently. That's why when someone is grieving some of the best therapy is to just listen and to be physically present.

Sometimes we grieve. We work through it, but years down the road, we get hit blindsided by it. The last month my husband and I went through fertility treatments there were 3 eggs. For a week and a half I had all of the signs of being VERY pregnant – sensitivity, nausea, severe fatigue, etc. It was the only time during the time of our fertility treatments I ever felt that way. After a week and a half though, there was nothing, and I knew I was no longer pregnant. Did I grieve for those 3 babies? You bet. Anyone who has miscarried regardless of how long they have carried will and can grieve for those babies. From time to time I think about how old they would be and what they look like in heaven. Now you need to understand I had known since I was a senior in high school that I would adopt in order to be a mom. I cannot imagine my life without my kids. The point is that you deal with your grief, you work through it, but it still may come back to you from time to time. You aren't crazy!

There is such a thing as Good Grief. Good Grief is grief that you work through, that you get help with when you get stuck, and that you address from time to time after the initial grieving period.

You may think this is an odd blog, but really it isn't. I blog about what is going on in my life and what I'm learning. I took a class on lay counseling and a class on support groups in August in seminary. My project for support groups is on a grief support group. Little did I know that God was trying to prepare me for the journey ahead.

My mother-in-law whom I have known since June of 1990 has chosen not to fight to live. She has chosen to die. She had an emergency gall bladder surgery towards the end of April, and she went septic as a result. Her liver has never regained functionality. She doesn't want to go on the transplant list, and she is ready to go home to see her sweet Savior. Now, not only will I be going through the grieving process, but I will be leading my children through it. My daughter is a deep well of emotions. Pearce is a bit young to understand it all, but we'll see how he grieves. I've received some wonderful ideas from friends about how to help my children grieve.

So, periodically, I'm going to blog on Good Grief. It will be part of my grieving process, but if it helps someone else to walk through grieving and not stuff it down then it is worth it. I assure you it won't all be gloom and doom either. For Christians we have a hope of seeing our loved one again in heaven, and that is always something for which to be thankful!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pre-First Grade Jitters and a Lesson on Faith

Last night, Pearce was restless. He could not get settled to save his life. Finally, I went to lay down with him in his bed, and as we snuggled up, I asked him, "Pearce, what's on your mind?" He paused for a moment, and then he said, "Mom, I'm a little concerned about going into first grade. I really don't know what to expect." I told him it was similar to kindergarten but without the nap. We knew who his teacher was, and he has known her since as far back as he can remember. He was concerned about his friends from last year. What class did Eli go into? What about Mason? I assured him he would know some of the kids in his class and would quickly make friends with the new ones.

I reflected on that conversation as I was beginning to prepare to my small group on Sunday. We are going to be talking about faith. They are responsible for finding Scriptures on faith and examples, but the bottom line is this – I can tell them what faith is, but I can't do it for them. I could tell Pearce what first grade is going to be like, but I can't be there every day walking him step-by-step through the curriculum. He has to do it himself. Faith is just like that. I might be able to tell you what faith is (but I may not be able to do it well), but I can't grow your faith for you. Faith is active. It is not stagnant. It requires you to work it out in order to strengthen it. You have to do the work. No one else can do it for you.

I can't wait to get deeper into God's Word and to teach about faith, but the bottom line is that each person will have to work out their own faith. God will have to work with each individual person to work it out. You want faith? Are you serious? Be sure because God is faithful He will teach you and develop your faith because that is just the kind of God He is.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Has Much To Be Thankful for Regarding My Job

Just like there is no perfect human living on Earth. There is no perfect business because imperfect people run them. There also isn't a perfect church, but that's a different story for a different blog. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "in everything give thanks."

So I want to be thankful and obedient. My daddy is a State Farm agent. Through his salary I've been able to go on mission trips, go to a private, Christian school, have a car, go to college and much more. I went to work for State Farm in August of 1993. Through the wages I've earned from State Farm, I was able to live on my own, have my own health coverage, get married, sustain a household, buy vehicles, go on trips and send my children to a private, Christian school. Plus, I have loved every job I have had with State Farm from working in my daddy's agency, to the year in the agency manager's office to claims and now insurance fraud. I can't imagine finding a job I enjoy more. Also my colleagues are some of the neatest, kindest people I've had the pleasure of knowing.

My husband also worked for State Farm for a good period of time until God allowed it to become so uncomfortable that Patrick wanted to move out of the Farm and start his own business. This was by God's design. If God hadn't made the situation at the Farm unbearable for Patrick he would have stayed and been miserable. By making it uncomfortable, Patrick was energized to start his businesses.

So, I have been blessed. If I have to move on to another company, I know that God will give me the job He wants me to have. I know that He will give me the job that He has prepared for me, that it will work well with my family life, and that it will be enough to support my family. God is good like that.

I will guess that in the next couple of months I should find out if I will be able to work from my home, or if I will be doing the full court press finding the job He has prepared for me. We covet your prayers during this time of uncertainty. Any time there is uncertainty there is an opportunity for growth in our faith. My prayer is for peace while I wait and for wisdom. God is good.

Friday, August 5, 2011

WHAT A WEEK! Info on my job

So, let's recap this week, shall we? I'm at seminary for the week learning how to effectively do lay counseling and support groups. I find out on Thursday that the office that I work in is scheduled to close. When? I don't know. They don't know. They just said "soon," but if their "soon" is anything like "this is going to be a quick study and due at the end of the first quarter in 2011," but we don't get it until mid August...WHO KNOWS when it will all hit the fan. We will be given one of three options: relocate to Columbia, Missouri -- NOT! To Tulsa, OK -- NOT! OR telecommute from home. The latter option is the one I would choose, but I don't get to choose. When will they tell us if that is an option? WHO KNOWS!? They surely do not.

So, I guess my project that is due for the support group class could be for my colleagues in the Shreveport office, but I don't think I could adequately or effectively lay counsel them, since I am in the same boat with them. Lay counseling is a different animal altogether anyway. The way the lay counselor asks questions is VERY different than the way I ask questions on the job. Can you imagine if someone came into me for lay counseling and I still had my fraud investigator had on!? They would go out tramatized. I have a lot to work on when it comes to lay counseling.

Then I come home, and my air conditioning isn't working. It is a cool 89 degrees in my house with the thermostat set on 76. Good grief, Charlie Brown!

It would be easy to get discouraged right now. It would be easy to feel defeated right now. It would be easy to throw in the towel, take my toys and go (where? I don't know). But what I've come to understand about God and about my life is this...all this mess that is kickin' up in my life, ain't no surprise to Him. He knew this day was coming, and He has been ahead of me the whole time making the rough places smooth (Is 42:16). So, I will put one foot in front of the other. I will put a smile on my face and look to the Son expecting Him to lead me out of this mess, and I will believe that nothing He has planned for me is to my detriment but rather for my good (Jer 29:11). So, I will wait expectantly on Him to show me what to do, where to go, and what to say. He is for me. It's going to be an interesting ride. Can't wait to see what He does next.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Boy's Handy Ability and Inability

Lens for one. Light bulb for another. Batteries for yet another. Springs from another. NOT ONE WORKING FLASHLIGHT IN MY HOUSE. Do you know why? Because little boys like to take things apart to see how they work. The problem is they rarely know how to put them back together and don’t tell you when they have disassembled something of yours. So, when the lights go out in Shreveport, we are scrambling to find a light source. It has come to the point that I hide a flashlight in the dash of my truck that requires a tool to disassemble and doesn’t require batteries. Fix his little red wagon! And just for the record, it’s not just flashlights…any toy or tool that is left within his sight is fair game.

I asked Pearce one time if he takes them apart, why doesn’t he put them back together. His response, “I don’t know how.”

How often do we take apart or tear down what God has given us? Have you ever destroyed something or someone? And then when we get done tearing them done or tearing it apart, we look at God and say, “I don’t know how.”

I’d like to tell you that we are able to put all of our flashlights back together. I’m estimating Pearce has gotten his abled-hands on at least five flashlights over the years. By the time we realize he has had it, we only find parts, and we can’t put it back together again. There are consequences for our actions, but thankfully, we serve a God who is in the restoration business. He is in the redeeming business. He can restore relationships. He can redeem a life that has been torn down by his or her own hands. I was reminded of this truth today as I sat in class listening to a missionary tell a remarkable story of God’s ability to restore. Then she read Psalm 103. He can redeem our lives out of a pit and restore us with love and compassion and meet the desires of our hearts with good things. As far as the east is from the west is how far he removes our sin from us.

We serve an awesome God. When we think a situation or a person is hopeless, He is the hope. When we think a person is too far gone, God goes farther. His love is never-ending, and his love never changes no matter what I may or may not do. I am so thankful for the work of restoration he has done in my life. So for this reason and so many more, I will praise the Lord with all my soul.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Last Sunday

A week ago today, I attended the Mejicanos Tabernaculo Biblico Bautista where they have 1000 people in the early service and another 1000 in the second service and only two people on staff. If you were to ask the pastor how does he handle all the issues that arise pasturing this size flock, he will tell you the only problem he has is people in his church not wanting to share their volunteer roles. Did you get that? There are people who stand outside the restroom doors to pass out toilet paper –they have to share that volunteer role. There are people who love on babies, kids and youth in both services, and they have enough servants to change out ever service and repeat only once every four to six weeks. There are ushers and greeters at every square section of seating in the sanctuary – volunteers stand at every corner until the preaching starts. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Acts 11 says, “True Christians will feel for their brethren under afflictions. Thus will fruit be brought forth to the praise and glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians, how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole earth would be like one large family, every member of which would strive to be dutiful and kind.” WOW! If we all behaved like the children of God we were called and created to be…wonder what the church would be like…wonder what my city would look like…wonder what state our government would be in…I wonder.

It’s an amazing church…not just because of their understanding that Christians are to serve, but also for this story I’m about to write. MS 13 is a notorious gang in El Salvador. A gang member who crosses into the US, does a heinous crime, goes to federal prison and then is deported back to El Salvador is considered a god in this gang. One such member moved up in the ranks upon his return and ordered that the gang take two city busses and kill those on them. On one city bus they entered with their AKs and shot and killed 15 people. The other bus was sealed – all windows and doors – and then they set it on fire. The leader was caught and sent to jail. This happened in close proximity to the Mejicano church. The members had friends and family on those buses. (You can read more at and

Here’s the rest of the story. The parents of the leader of the MS 13 that called for those attacks went to the Mejicanos church after this happened. What would happen in your church if this happened here in the US? Being the good Christians we are, I doubt they would feel most welcomed in our churches. But in truth, this church became the hands and feet of Christ to this mother and father. They accepted them into their church and invited them to meet their Savior which they did. Turning the other cheek to the extreme!

Churches in America are filled with fat, lazy, baby Christians. We go to church daring anyone on stage to entertain us. Bless us if you can. Many “Christians” can’t or won’t do their own Bible studies and don’t even attempt it much less ask for help. They would rather be spoon-fed. The problem with being a spoon-fed Christian is that you don’t always know what’s being served for you to eat…Is it possum or crow? Or is it the Bread of Life?

I was convicted by what I saw in this New Testament church in El Salvador, by what I heard, and by what I saw. I repented. “While men are very zealous for their own regulations, they should take care that they do not withstand God; and those who love the Lord will glorify him, when made sure that he has given repentance to life to any fellow-sinners. Repentance is God's gift; not only his free grace accepts it, but his mighty grace works it in us, grace takes away the heart of stone, and gives us a heart of flesh. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit” (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on Acts 11). I don’t want to stand in the way of God (Acts 11:17) or His working. I want to be all up in it whenever possible.

I wish I could have taken you with me on this mission trip. I went to love on kids, do block parties and door-to-door evangelism, but instead, I was blessed beyond measure. I was convicted, and I repented. I am thankful that God found me worthy to be a part of this experience. His grace is not without its effect on me.