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.