Monday, April 30, 2012


Normally, I blog devotionals...been focusing on blogging through Genesis, but I'm taking a personal break.
Hope you enjoy...


1. ALWAYS BE TRUE. Be true to your country. Be true to God. Be true to your team…even when your teammate cuts in line.


 2. Your BFF may be on an opposing team, your cousin may be on an opposing team, but at the end of the day, they are still your family and friends so behave accordingly.

3. ALWAYS listen to the coach. She’s been through Field Day before.

She knows the strategies to win even when it looks hopeless.

 4. We are stronger as a team.

5. There will be UPS
and downs along the way, but you
have to keep trying and keep going because
your team is counting on you.

Remember, winning means you don’t stay down, and there is always more UPS than downs.

6. You will asked to be flexible and work through difficult situations, but don’t worry, there will be someone there talking you through it encouraging you along the way.

7. It may make no sense why you are doing what you are doing, but you do it because that is what takes to win the game.

8. Just when you think you are ahead, you realize you are not alone, so never quit.

Run hard. Have fun.

Squeeze all the joy and laughter out of every experience you can because Field Day only comes but one day a year.

9. And while everyone wants to have an advantage of
having someone special on their team,

what we realize is that what we need most is for that someone to show us the ropes

and to cheer us on like the Cavaliers we are in our hearts.

10. Field Day 2012 is a day for inclusion, a day for fun, and day for all to be a part of something bigger than they are as an individual.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Life as a Vagabond

The kids and I have become nomads, vagabonds…not gypsies per se.

We have absolutely no kitchen and no laundry room. There is dust everywhere in my house, and Pearce has horrible allergies and asthma – poor little fella. For a week and a half we lived at my in-laws house while they were out of town and now for a week with my parents. Shuffling back and forth from house to house having no real place for our clothes…it has gotten old. I wish I could twitch my nose and it be all done, but it doesn’t work like that. After working all day on remodeling and repairing other people’s homes the last thing Patrick wants to do is come home and work on this one. I don’t blame him, but he has buckled down and is knocking it out. I may be living out of a travel trailer next week…who knows! I try to see it as an adventure, but when my nerves are shot it’s more like the show Survivor.

It can be quite unsettling and keeps you off-balance when you have no place to settle your nest or your brood. Put yourself in Sarai’s shoes or sandals if you will. From Ur to Haran. From Haran to Canaan. From Canaan back to Negev. From place to place until Bethel. She sets up her tent and household. Gets everything out of boxes, finds the best place to sell and buy goods, locates the church, gets established with her physician and then it’s time to move…AGAIN. And it wasn’t just Sarai that was moving. It was a whole passel of people. Is it no wonder why there were arguments between Lot’s herdsmen and Abram’s? Seriously, you add women in the mix of that too and hormones…seriously stressing situation. Then add to all that loveliness the fact that the land could not support Abram and Lot’s family. It was time to part ways. It isn’t easy to part ways with someone you love even under the best of circumstances. Abram offered Lot first dibs. You know, to me that says volumes because in reality, Abram should have chosen first because he was the leader of the tribe. A leader who gives first to others… I like it.

So Lot makes his choice, and I found something interesting in Genesis 13:12. It says, “Abram lived IN the land of Canaan, while Lot lived AMONG the cities of the plain and pitched his tents near Sodom.” It appears that Abram finally can settle down some. Get some roots in the land God has promised him. What a relief that must have been! But Lot doesn’t find that pleasure. His choice has led him to a very uncomfortable place. He isn’t at home really in any of the cities yet he lives among them. He places his tents near Sodom. Have you ever been someplace where you knew you shouldn’t be? Ever felt uncomfortable somewhere? Have you ever been somewhere and felt the hair on the back of your neck stand on end? It’s because you aren’t supposed to be there. Get yo’ tiny hiney out!

When Lot made his choice, he based his choice on the things he could see – well-watered plain of Jordan like the Garden of Eden. Lot chose to go east towards Sodom and Gomorrah. While his choice was selfish and self-preserving, he gave little thought to Abram and his needs. Lot gave little thought about the contents of the cities before him. We don’t see or hear Lot praying to God for guidance. Have you made a big decision based on what you could see? When Patrick and I were looking for places to live in Dallas, we would drive through apartment complexes at different times of the day and night on different days. We want to know how loud it was, what kind of people lived there, and I checked with the police station regarding how often they had to respond to certain complexes. It wasn’t until we actually moved into a complex that we would know who our neighbors were. The Bible says in Genesis 13:13, “Now the men of Sodom were wicked and were sinning greatly against the Lord.” I think if Lot had done a thorough job, he would have gone down to the proposed site and walked around to see the happenings and to meet the natives…know what I mean? But Lot made his choice and now he has to deal with the consequences.

Abram, on the other hand, has a conversation with God and takes a walk to inspect what God has given him. What does Abram do next? He builds an altar. There is a right way to make a decision, and it begins with talking to the Lord. It doesn’t end there though. Abram put his feet to follow. He did what he was instructed to do. And then, Abram gave thanks.

Sometimes it is uncomfortable going through changes. It’s uncomfortable growing in our faith. It’s unsettling and keeps us off-balance at times, but God has a purpose. He doesn’t waste anything. He may have to gut everything and start over. You may be inconvenienced. You may come to odds with a friend or loved one, but in it all, God has a plan. Matthew 6:33 says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided.” Trust that He has a plan for you.

PS Stay tuned -- I'll post pictures of my new kitchen when my talented husband gets through.

Friday, April 27, 2012

A Road Marked "Travel At Your Own Risk" Isn't Robert Frost's "The Road Less Traveled"

When I was in high school, my daddy won a trip through his company to Colorado. It was the first time I had ever ridden in an airplane. Lori and I were so excited to be going to Breckenridge, Colorado. It was absolutely beautiful up there. One day, daddy decided we were going to go to Pike’s Peak. From Breckenridge to Colorado Springs is 2 hours 13 minutes plus two to three hours to the summit according to Google. Daddy, however, said he had found a short cut, and we would just make a day of it. We would be back that night to stay in our condo.

So off we went leaving bright and early in the morning. The four of us made it to daddy’s “short cut.” We turned off a major highway that was nicely paved and four laned with shoulders onto the short cut. Within a few hundred yards there was a sign that read, “Travel At Your Own Risk,” and then the road changed from asphalt to rocks. I don’t think Robert Frost had this road in mind when he wrote the poem The Road Less Traveled. I think it’s more like Jeff Foxworthy’s, “Here’s Your Sign.” “Travel At Your Own Risk” should have been ours. We laughed (like we were in our right minds or something) and took a picture of that sign…sure wish I knew where that picture was.

Undeterred, daddy drove on. To say this road was treacherous would be a HUGE understatement. It was winding and narrow making hairpin turns wide enough for one vehicle to pass at a time…like any other sane people would choose this way. Four hours into the treacherous short cut, we saw a stand beside the road selling beverages, popcorn and nuts. Are you kidding me!? In the middle of nowhere?! It was closed of course, but the just idea of someone thinking this was a good idea was laughable. During the turns and steep accents and hard breaking declines, I got car sick. Never been car sick before. Never been car sick since. When we finally got to Pike’s Peak that night, we were all toast -- bought toothpaste and toothbrushes from Wal-mart and night shirts and called it a night.

On the map, it looked like a short cut…less that ½ an inch long, but in reality it was the road to the abyss. I believe we saw Pike’s Peak the next day before returning to Breckinridge a different way. I’d like to say that we stopped and asked for directions on the way up there, but there was no one to ask. The snack stand was closed! At one point, I remember a conversation about turning around, but we obviously didn’t. It was just one of the memorable events that happened on that trip.

As you know if you have read any of my blogs, I wonder. I wonder about a lot of things. As a matter of fact, if I ever write a devotional book like a friend of mine has suggested I think I would have to name it I Wonder. I think as Christians we sometimes lose the ability to wonder at the awesomeness of God, His ability, His creativity, His love. I think we lose our wonder about what the people in the Bible endured and how they overcame.

Wandering around the steep side of a mountain searching for the promised Pike’s Peak, reminded me of Abram and Sarai searching for the land God would give them. God lead them out of Ur away from people who were ungodly, and Abram ended up in Canaan where he gained more wealth, then Abram returns to his first altar in Genesis 13. Do you think Abram stopped and asked for directions? I wonder why God led Abram back to this site after Abram’s lack of faith in Canaan? Could it be to remind Abram of whom he chose to place his faith and why? Sometimes God gives us reminders of why we fell in love with Him in the first place. If we are smart, we’ll seize that opportunity to run back into His open arms.

But instead, how often do we get lost along the way? We take a path that seems like a short cut or a sure thing only to find out it leads to a downfall or takes us out of God’s will. I’ve been there and done that. Sometimes we get so far down the path that we think we are too far in to turn around, but that’s not true. Sometimes we think we are following God, but we don’t trust Him to provide, and God brings us back to the place to remind us of who He is and whose we are. Don’t get discouraged. It happens to the best of us…look at Abram. And by all means, if you see a sign that says, "Travel At Your Own Risk" TURN AROUND and go back the way you came.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Beauty Is Only Skin Deep...Or Is It?

Noxema. Oil of Olay. Retina. Mary Kay. Microderm abrasion. Chemical peals. Waxing. Neutrogena. Bleaching. Laser. Botox. Bohemian Blowout. Hair dye. Plucking. Enhancements of all sorts. Tattoo. Piercings.

The list goes on and on as to the lengths women will go to look beautiful. I have to admit, I don’t believe in growing old gracefully, but I will also not submit myself to unnecessary surgeries or injections of toxins. Every woman has their own line they will not cross for the sake of beauty. I was blessed with a beautiful mom. When her hair started going pre-maturely gray, it was in the 70s when frosted hair was “in.” Her gray hair came in, and it looked like she was frosting her hair. Her gray hair was in the perfect place…disgusting. And when she had cancer and decided it was time to shave her head, her head was perfectly round. My Pappaw who was balding used to say that God only made a few perfect heads, and the others God put hair on. The thing about mom is her beauty is not only external, but it is internal and radiates outward. Do you know anyone like that?

Now to our story, Abram and Sarai are about to go into Egypt. Sarai is about 65 years old, and apparently her beauty has not faded. She is still very desirable by men. Ladies, let’s sit on this one for a moment. She was 65 years old and could still turn heads, but she was a woman with a broken heart and empty arms because she had no child of her own. How often have you judged another woman based on her appearance? Do you really know what is going on in that woman’s life to sit in the seat of judgment? On the surface, Sarai looked like she had it all…beauty, a rich husband, a godly husband, wealth, but if anyone had bothered to get to know her for who she was and find out the condition of her heart, I wonder what they would have found. Be careful when you judge based on appearances. You assume things you shouldn’t.

There are all different kinds of beauty in women – exotic, natural, Nordic, authentic. When I think of Sarai being beautiful and desirable at 65, I think of someone like Sophia Loren. If you don’t know who she is, google her. Exotic beauty. The primary concern for Abram in entering Egypt wasn’t for his wife, it was for himself. He wanted to make sure his own hide was protected…so much for chilvary (haha). Abram instructs Sarai to tell everyone that they were siblings. I wouldn’t recommend sitting on that for too long. This isn’t an all out lie. She is his ½ sister. Same father, different mother. The sin, of course, is in the omission. Sarai was not to mention that she was Abram’s wife because Abram was afraid the Egyptians would kill him in order to take Sarai to the Pharaoh to be one of his concubines. Instead, Sarai is taken to the Pharaoh, and Abram lives.

Let’s sit on this one for a moment. Abram has been growing in his relationship with God. God just keeps on blessing and blessing Abram. God has promised Abram he is going to become a great nation, and here Abram is afraid for his life. Abram is afraid for his life and takes matters into his own hands. If Abram who has been walking with God, hearing God, seeing God and receiving God’s blessing, doesn’t have the faith to believe that God would protect him, what does that tell us? HE’S HUMAN! Abraham is actually listed in the hall of fame of faith in Hebrews 11, and his faith had lapses and times of weaknesses. If Abram’s faith had lapses and had times of weaknesses, don’t you think your faith might as well? Can't tell you how many times I've beat myself up over my lack of faith. Stay with me, and we’ll see how Sarai and Abram’s faith changes.

Okay, back to the story. Sarai was va-va-va-voom, and Abram told her to tell the Egyptians that she was his sister. What do you think Sarai did? Yup, she followed. (See prior blog.) She submitted. Let’s see what happens when a wife submits.

Sarai was taken into the palace to live with the Pharaoh, and Abram got paid. He hit pay dirt. Pharaoh gave Abram sheep, cattle, donkeys, manservants and maidservants and camels according to Genesis 12:14-16. Was Abram’s instruction to Sarai right? No. He asked her to lie. A lie of omission is a lie just the same. Did Sarai do as her husband instructed? Yes. What does God do? He sends a serious disease on Pharaoh and his household, and Pharaoh figured it out and was ticked. Abram was willing to allow his wife, his love to become the wife or concubine of another just to save his own skin.

Here’s the thing. Abram screwed up. Abram proved he was human and had weaknesses. But God isn’t. The blessing that God had given Abram did not become null and void when Abram messed up. Abram may have breached his faith, but God never does. God keeps His promises. God restored Sarai to Abram, and they left Egypt.

I wonder what would have happened if Sarai hadn’t submitted. We will never know. You know why she submitted though? Love. She loved her husband. She wanted to protect her husband. She wanted to support her husband. What does your act of submission tell your husband? What does your act of submission tell your family, your children, your friends and your neighbors? You may not always like it. You may not always enjoy it, but you will be held accountable for it…like it or not. What does your LACK of SUBMISSION SAY? Sarai's external beauty may be what caught her husband’s eye, but her heart and her ability to submit, her internal beauty may have been what kept her close to Abram’s heart.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Women's Ministry -- A New Calling for the Women of Shreveport-Bossier. Girl's, It's TIme to Get Up!

For some time God has laid it on my heart that there will be a city-wide revival in Shreveport-Bossier calling all Christians to wake-up and come be a part of something greater than one church, one denomination, one preacher, one praise team. And by “some time” I mean for about 8 to 10 years. Within the past 6 months it has grown stronger and stronger, and I believe within 5 years God is going to bring it to fruition. It will require humility and obedience on the part of church leadership and on the part of Christians in our community. Eight to ten years may seem like a long time, but after studying Noah, I figure it’s a drop in the bucket.

I believe this burden for a city-wide revival plus the desire to minister to women God has placed on my heart is no mistake. When we had a ministry at Calvary for women, we were equipping women and encouraging women to volunteer in different ministries. We provided opportunities for them to create and make things to donate, opportunities to serve outside the church in these ministries with the goal that these women would be in place when the revival would come. We also had started “Sweet Stars.” It was an opportunity for women to open their homes, invite friends, family, neighbors and coworkers to learn a skill, have fun and hear the Word of God. The purpose of this was to get women used to opening their homes up again to their neighbors, so when the revival came, our women would have the kind of relationships with their neighbors that inviting them to a revival would seem the most natural and easiest thing to do.

I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have been called to minister to women…women’s ministry. And since the women’s ministry at Calvary has come to an end, I’ve been struggling with what it is that God wants me to do with this calling on my life. For crying out loud, I spent the past two years in seminary just to minister to women…what was that about if I’m not supposed to use what He has equipped me to do? I still believe revival is coming, and I still believe God has called me to act and prepare women.

With that being said, I humbly request that you keep me in your prayers as I start a ministry outside of the church. Women are hungry. Women are hurting, and women are eager. I believe the best way to equip women is to teach them how to feed themselves from the Word of God. DVD Bible studies are great and wonderful, but if you are in a crisis, you need to be able to go to the Word of God, search, seek, and find. I believe God is calling me to start a neighborhood Bible studies for women.

I’m working on the material for the first session of study. This will teach women how to read the Bible, how to study the Bible and how to apply it to their everyday lives. It will be an opportunity for the women in a neighborhood to come together once a week for six weeks to eight weeks and learn to take in more than milk. Then the next quarter, those women would choose a topic or a book to study and grow from there. New members would be mentored by established members of the neighborhood. The first neighborhood would then help sponsor and pray for the next group to start. Then I would love to have a retreat for the women in these studies…have fun, laugh, study God’s Word and minister and mentor like we are instructed to in Titus.

God is still revealing to me as I go along. There is so much that is needed in order to make it work by this fall, but my God will supply all my needs (Phil 4:19). Please pray with me that He will reveal the first neighborhood in which Christian women need to arise, to wake-up and reach out to their neighbors. The first neighborhood of women who are to get ready for the city-wide revival that God is going to bring. The first neighborhood of women reaching women.

I can’t wait. I’m excited. I tear up just thinking about it…has to be a God-thang. Can’t wait to see what God does.

If you will pray in earnest for me and this ministry through the end of this year, would you please inbox me? Send me an e-mail and as prayer needs arise, I’ll shoot out a simple message about what God is doing. Thank you.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Following Ins't a Sign of Weakness...

About a month ago, I took the kids to Mississippi to see their Poppa Bob. While we were there, we went to the lake and walked around the shore line. I told Pearce to step out of the water and to walk where there was sure footing. Do you think he did what I told him to do? NOPE. He is one who will have to learn the hard way much like I did as a child. As I was headed in his direction to get him out of the water because it was cold, he made a faulty step. The faulty step caused the water to go up his pants leg and when he tried to extricate his foot, the Mississippi mud claimed Pearce’s flip flop. We couldn’t locate it. So not only did he have wet britches, but he was walking with only one shoe back up to the car. I have to tell you I snickered a little bit at my little, ticked-off boy. If he had just followed my instructions, we could have stayed longer to skip more stones. We could have driven to another area of the lake and made new discoveries, but his disobedience meant we had to go home.

Are you a leader or a follower? If you think about it, I don’t know of a leader who isn’t accountable to someone…which isn’t necessarily the same thing as being a follower but in some instances it is. Was that a little like “Who’s on First?”

I think the best leaders have been followers at one time in their lives. They observed what they liked and didn’t like from their leaders. They observed the weaknesses and strengths of those in charge. Then they determine their own style of leadership applying what they have learned from experience to their new opportunity to lead.

Abram followed God. Sarai followed Abram. Abram was told to leave the land of his family and pagan gods. Sarai left her family and their gods. Have you ever followed a spouse’s career? Leaving a place that you know. You know the people, the food, the culture, and you have to now leave home to go to a foreign place. Some spouses go willingly making adjustments along the way. Some spouses grieve for what was left behind, and they never allow the ones God has placed in their lives the opportunity to become like family. Some spouses can just make life downright miserable for everyone. I think of military families who move every two to four years, and how they have to adjust in order to best protect our country. It isn’t just the person serving in the forces but their families as well who make the sacrifices.

Now, think if your spouse says, “Not only are we leaving, but we are changing religion.” Your spouse wants to change to a religion that is completely different from what you were raised to believe. Abram was not raised in a God-fearing home, but at some point, Abram starts hearing God, starts seeking God. Abram was brazen with his newfound faith. He built an altar to the only true God besides the altars built to the other gods. God was leading Abram from land to land giving him blessings and making promises…and Sarai followed. Abram was moving from place to place to avoid the droughts and provide for his family…and Sarai followed.

Following isn’t a sign of weakness. Following is a sign of obedience. If God places someone over you, if you are to submit to someone else, you do it as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:23-25 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.” Just because you may feel your leader is out of touch with reality, just because you feel you could do a better job at leading, just because you feel that what’s being done could be done better does not mean you are to be insubordinate or disrespectful. Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

So, Sarai followed…have you got that yet? Who are you following?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Empty Hearts, Empty Arms -- Desperately Seeking Him

When I write, I write from what God is teaching me. I write based on my personal experiences, so some of my blogs are very intimate, very revealing. This is one of those blogs.

Before Patrick and I went through an adoption agency for our first adoption, we were on our way to a private adoption. We had made arrangements for the expectant young woman to meet with our attorney who was in the city where she lived. After the appointment, the attorney told us what he discovered, and what he discovered were inconsistencies in her statement of fact, about the possible father of the baby, and other issues. Trust is a HUGE issue when it comes to adoption, especially open adoption. We weren’t asking for a perfect pedigree because that really doesn’t exist. What we were asking for was honesty, and we didn’t get it. Reluctantly, we withdrew from the adoption with empty hearts and empty arms.

Before our second adoption, we went through the same agency we had used before, and we were matched. We had driven down to meet her and spent the weekend getting to know her. She was confident she wanted us to adopt her baby. We were thrilled. A week after our visit, she went M.I.A. (missing in action). The agency couldn’t reach her. She wouldn’t return our phone calls. I was devastated. Having been through fertility treatments, I had grieved almost every month for the child who was to never be. I grieved more in one year than I have in my whole lifetime put together. It’s excruciating and exhausting and depleting. When we had to submit in writing that the connection with this birth mom was to be severed, I was sobbing…once again I was mourning for a baby that would never be mine. That weekend I didn’t get off the couch…little did I know there was another mom whose heart was breaking because she had just delivered a beautiful baby boy whom she couldn’t keep.

See here’s the thing, I had asked God to remove the desire to be a mom from my heart if He didn’t want me to be a mom, and He didn’t. Each time we went down the adoption road, He was paving the way. One time I was pushing Him to move faster. The other time He was convincing me to move forward. I knew that God was going to make me a mommy…it’s just I had to find her…our birth mom.

I held onto what God had given me…that desire to be a mom. I looked for every opportunity. I was vigilantly searching for His will, His perfect will. I was desperate. Have you ever been desperate in seeking God’s will? Have you?

In Genesis 12, God blesses Abram, and you know Abram had to tell Sarai, his wife. Verse 2 says, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Abram was 75 years old. Do you think that Sarai had to be the least bit curious as to HOW God was going to make Abram into a great nation? I wonder...did she start preparing a nursery? Did she start making baby blankets or baby gowns? How else will Abram become a great nation? How many years did she have to wait from the blessing from God till the time a baby was in her arms? How long have you been waiting on God to deliver?

Words are very powerful…they can give hope, or they can destroy dreams. Words can edify and encourage others, or words can tear away at the fabric of a person’s soul. The words Abram heard from God were no ordinary words. They were a blessing, and when God blesses, He delivers. In verse 7, God tells Abram that He is going to give this land to his offspring – yet more words of hope for Sarai.

What God promises, He delivers. Does He do it on our timetable? No. I wish. Does He do it the way we have laid out or think it should be done? Not even close.

What are you seeking God for at this moment? If you aren’t seeking God for something, then you need to check the status of your spiritual life. Are you growing spiritually? OR are you being self-reliant? He can fix that and show just how un-self-reliant you really are. What are you expecting God to do? And what you are expecting from God won’t be the same thing as the person next to you?

Deuteronomy 4:29, “But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ever Written Your Own Obit? How About a Summary Sentence of Who You Are?

Recently for a class at seminary, mom had to write her own obituary. Sounds morose, doesn’t it? Well it was for a grief class, so it fit. What I’d like for you to do instead of writing a whole obituary is write only one sentence that summarizes who you are. One sentence. Please do this before you move forward.

If this sentence was an introduction of sorts, how would it affect those listening or reading it? What would their impression be about you as an individual?

“Now Sarai was barren; she had no children,” Genesis 11:30. How is that for an introductory sentence? "Hello, I'm Sarai, and I'm barren." Her opening sentence, the statement about her life is factual, but it’s also a negative statement of fact. Is your statement or sentence negative or positive?

Sarai was obviously in the child-bearing years, and she wasn’t producing children. In a time when children were seen as a sign of blessing and abundance, Sarai couldn’t get pregnant. Things really haven't changed, have they? She was infertile. Sterile. Cut-off. She was not in control of her own body. Her body denied her what would make her acceptable in her community. Her body was a traitor to her heart’s desire. It’s what would validate her as a woman. It’s what would give her value and standing among her peers. Let’s get real, looks would only go so far.

Since time began women were created to carry life inside…something men cannot do -- obviously. Women who could not conceive were looked down upon, cast down, dejected, ridiculed. Women who could not conceive and deliver a healthy baby could suffer silently in agony as their friends and family got pregnant without any problems and would wonder, “Why not me?”

Some women can so wholly relate to Sarai that they have claimed and attached the word BARREN over their hearts. The desire to have a baby is so great, so strong that it overtakes her life…desperately trying to get pregnant. Taking temperature. Taking fertility medicine. In vitro fertilization. In utero-insemination. Egg or sperm donation. It is a mega-money industry. I know. I went down this road. The roller coaster ride each month is exhausting and excruciating. After insemination, praying and hoping for two weeks that it would take this time only to be denied your heart’s desire, but there’s no time to mourn for the child who wasn’t because it’s time to start another round of meds to try for the next month. BARREN. Just like anything that comes up in our lives, if we become so focused on it that it consumes us, we become BARREN in our hearts, our lives, and our minds.

If you are in that BARREN place, there’s hope. Deuteronomy 32:10-11 (NIV), 10 “In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” God delivers. He delivers right to you, every time, right on time. (If I could only say that about our pizza delivery.) He will shield you, care for you, guard you. Honey, you are the apple of his eye! I just LOVE that. You are precious! You can feel His Presence as He hovers over you. Your heart, your life, your soul, your mind does not have to stay BARREN. You have a choice to make – stay BARREN or live an abundant life. It’s not too late.

And for all my sisters out there who are physically barren, “1 Rejoice, childless one, who did not give birth; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor!a For the children of the forsaken one will be more than the children of the married woman,”b says the Lord. 2 “Enlarge the site of your tent, and let your tent curtains be stretched out;c do not hold back; lengthen your ropes, and drive your pegs deep,” Isaiah 54:1-2. Just because our bodies fail us doesn’t mean that God does. Just because things don’t work out the way we thought they should doesn’t mean that God won’t bless. But our hearts have to be open to receive his blessings. Our minds have to be open to God’s thinking outside of our little boxes – sometimes He brings children into our lives that we are responsible for mothering and making an impact on because these children aren’t getting it anywhere else. Our hands have to be open palms up to receive what God has in store instead of holding on to what we think we want.

If your heart is barren, if your mind is barren, if your womb is barren, if your life is barren, there is hope. That sentence about Sarai is just the first sentence of her story. Your summary sentence is not the end. God loved her too much to leave her barren, just like He loves you too much to leave you barren.

Isaiah 61: 1-3, “…He has sent Me to heal c the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners;d 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,e and the day of our God’s vengeance;f to comfort g all who mourn,3 to provide for those who mourn in •Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning,h and splendid clothes instead of despair.”i

Stay tuned as we come out of the barrenness and into new life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Don't Make Me Come Down There -- Ever Hear Your Parent Say That?

When I was in elementary, my mom played the organ and my daddy was a deacon and sang in the choir at church. I was always amazed at how my mom could have her hands on two different boards of keys going in different directions as well as her feet below moving in steady motion. Often times, my sister and I would sit with my Mammaw and Pappaw. They had their assigned pew. Don’t ya know. Like every good Southern Baptist. One time a visitor sat down in Pappaw’s pew and I just knew he was going to say something. He didn’t. He grinned at the guest and sat in the row behind them. I don’t remember how many people were members at that time…maybe 500 to 800. If I wasn’t sitting with my grandparents, I was sitting with Uncle Morris who was really like a second cousin or something, or I was sitting on the front row by the organ.

I’m not sure where I was sitting on this particular Sunday, but apparently, I wasn’t behaving. I was probably talking – real shocker, I’m sure. But before I realized it, Daddy had come down out of the choir loft and was standing at the end of the aisle looking at me and gesturing for me to come. I was toast! He put his hand around my arm, and we quickly walked out the back of the church where I was promptly given a whoopin’. If you are from the South, you know that a spanking is different than a whoopin’. I got the worst one of the two.

My parents always told me that if they had to come down from the organ or choir loft, it would not be pleasant. They were correct. It was definitely not pleasant. He walked me back in while I was still huffing and trying to wipe my nose. It was all so very embarrassing, but it did the job, and very effectively I might add.

Today I was reading in Genesis 11, and I saw, “But the Lord came down…” You know, it’s just never a good thing when your Father has to come and get you. It just never is. Like in my case, God’s creations, His children were being disobedient. He had specifically told Noah and his son to multiply and populate the earth, but in Genesis 11, we see that they have decided to build a city and a tower. Their goal – “to make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth”(vs 4). I’m sure none of you have ever been defiant or disobedient, but I was. As a matter of fact, my mom used to tell people that if she told me to sit down that even if I might agree to do it, she was sure I was standing up on the inside.

So…the Lord came down…and not in a good way.

We serve such a creative Lord. Our heavenly Father is so original in His parenting. The people were concerned with making a name for themselves and not serving God. In order to prevent repeated behavior, God confuses their language. Their ability to communicate effectively was removed. At this time, they decide, “Hmm, maybe we should move on.” “God don’t play,” as one of my girlfriend says. If He says to do something, He means it, and when we don’t, He comes down…and not in a good way. His plan is best. We have to trust Him. We need to obey. It is for our own protection and the protection of our families. Obedience is not a sign of weakness. Obedience is a sign of intelligence…How smart are you?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cancer -- To Prosper and Not to Harm

April 13, 2007. Do you remember what you were doing on this day? It is a date that changed our family. Yes, it was Friday the 13th, but it was also my Pappaw’s birthday who had passed away 2 years prior. April 13, 2007, was also the date my mom was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer.

Cancer is not a journey that anyone voluntarily goes on. We often see the companion of cancer as death, but just as often it can be a transformed life.

My mom chose Jeremiah 29:11 as her verse for the journey. “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you’.” How can cancer not be harmful? How can cancer prosper anyone? “’plans to give you a hope and a future’.” What hope is there in cancer? What kind of future is there after cancer – death? These are the exact questions I asked God. Here is what He led me through.

As a Christian our hope is in Christ and so is our future. Philippians 1:21 says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” By dying a Christian gets to go home. It’s a future that we all should long for as Christians. Heaven is our ultimate future, and it’s why we have hope. We know we don’t have to be separated from God forever. This isn’t exactly what I wanted to hear from God, but I had already learned this lesson when a friend of mine died in her early 40s leaving behind a husband and 3 small children. This was her life verse, and it was said several times during her funeral. While we don’t understand why God chooses to spare some and call others home, we have to realize that He is in control, and He is on the throne.

The first part of that verse is what gave me the most trouble. How could cancer possibly be prosperous? How could anyone think that cancer wasn’t harmful? God’s version of prosperous and harmful I discovered were not the same as mine. SURPRISE! At the beginning of the cancer journey, I couldn’t possibly see how I would even be grateful for cancer, but I can honestly tell you that I grew the most spiritually during that journey, and I am thankful for that. I would not be where I am today had my family not walked through cancer. My reliance on men was changed to reliance on God – He is the one who holds the future. As in the prayer of Jabez, God extended our borders as to whom we could related and minister to.

As a matter of fact, we didn’t realize just who all we were ministering to. We are still hearing about people who were receiving treatment when mom was. You see, every time mom went for chemo, Lori and I made sure that there was a surprise. We wanted her to expect a surprise instead of dread the drug. There was a tea party with her girlfriends. Her grandbabies showed up at a treatment with gifts. A former student showed up with boxing gloves and boxing shorts to read a poem I wrote like Howard Coselle. There was her own paper gown bedazzled for her and many other things along the way. But the one that people still talk about at the chemo lab and the one we hear about from time to time was the last treatment when about 10-12 friends and family showed up at the chemo lab to have a time of praise and worship. We didn’t exactly have permission, but what were they going to do? Kick us out?

As the CD played, we sang. Scripture was read. Nurses joined us while we sang. Patients in other booths worshipped with us as their family members meandered our way. People called on their cell phones to other family members so they could hear the praise and worship. It wasn’t that our singing was so wonderful, but it was because it was hope. It took their focus off the chemo and placed it on the Lord of Lords, the Great Physician. A couple of years later, a man figured out that Lori was the daughter of the woman who had singing in the chemo lab. He said mom’s last day of chemo was his wife’s first day. She had been nervous and scared, but when the music started, she was determined to see what was going on. She walked over and listened. He said that it made her first treatment so much better than he could have hoped for. His wife had lost the battle to cancer, but he was so grateful for the gift of praise and worship that first day at chemo.

Cancer didn’t harm our family. It made our family stronger and closer than we already were. There’s nothing like a crisis to test the metal of a person, a family, or of your faith. God didn’t harm us. He grew us in our faith. Would the outcome be different if my mom had died? Yes. It would have meant that God would have expanded our borders even further. It would have meant that He was keeping my mom safe from further pain and discomfort. We would have grieved like those who have hope in seeing her again in heaven. We would have celebrated her life. Instead in January of 2008 after she had completed her chemo and radiation, we had a celebration party in order to give God the glory for bringing us through this trial. We celebrated it at our church with family and friends. In essence, we were building an altar like those in the Old Testament giving God the glory for what He had done.

Today is the five-year anniversary of that cancer diagnosis, and mom has a clean bill of health. To God be the glory.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

TMI -- Another Nekked Story

T.M.I. – Too much information. Have you ever told someone that? Has anyone ever told you that? You know some people will tell you something for the sheer shock factor of it…just to see how you will react. In my line of work, I can honestly tell you that I’ve been told things that would make your stomach curdle and your eyelids curl. My goal is to simply look at the person without expression and follow-up with more questions if I choose to chase the rabbit. We’ve had insureds submit pictures of the most intimate and grotesque things thinking we won’t follow-up or ask questions. We’ve had insureds confess to things in statements and in depositions that are completely unrelated to the claim at hand, but they tell us to unburden themselves OR to get us off the track we are on.

Have you ever read the Bible and thought – TMI? Or wondered why in the world did they put that information in the Bible? It doesn’t seem to fit with anything else? I have to admit I thought that when I read about Noah getting drunk and laying nekked in his tent. When I read a story in the Bible, I read it multiple times. I’ll read it from one translation and then another transliteration. I’ll consult a couple of commentaries, and then I read it again trying to put myself in that person’s place. What do I see? What do I hear? What might I be thinking? But I have to tell you, I am having difficulty with the nekked Noah. First of all, TMI – he’s 600 plus years old, laying nekked and drunk in his tent. I just don’t want to have to visualize that!

So, why was this put in the Bible? What am I supposed to get out of it? There are two things I’ve gleaned from this story. The first is this. When you see someone has made a poor decision, how you handle it can make a big difference in the outcome. Ham saw his daddy nekked and drunk, and instead of keeping it confidential and using discretion, he goes and gets his brothers. He tells them what their father has done. We don’t know how he told them. We don’t know if he was laughing or ridiculing his father. We just don’t know. What we do know is that Ham didn’t treat his daddy with dignity. When someone has made a poor choice, treating them with dignity is a huge step in showing them the love of Christ, don’t ya think? Who are you to judge someone else? The Bible says, “Judge not lest ye be judged” (Luke 6:37).

The next thing I learned was about words spoken. Did Noah make a bad choice? Yes. Did he abuse what God had provided? Yes. Noah, however, gets angry for being humiliated by his son and curses him. Noah’s words penetrate. His words continue to be heard in generations to come. The lineage of Jesus would come from Shem (the blessed), but the curse went to Ham. Ham’s offspring would continue to feel the effects of the curse throughout the Bible. The words we say to our children matter. Are we cursing them, or are we blessing them? Are we building them up and encouraging them even through discipline, or are we tearing them down? Sometimes the less said is better.

Treat people with dignity, especially if you haven't walked in their shoes. You may not agree with their lifestyle or their choices but by treating them with dignity, you may have an opportunity to win them to the Lord.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Extravagant. Intimate. Personal. It's that kind of love.

Have you ever just wanted to be loved? Have you ever just wanted a kind word or affection from a certain someone? Has your heart ever ached because you just want to feel someone’s arms around you or to feel there is someone there on whom you can rely? Have you ever cried because the person you most dearly love doesn’t love you back…or at least the way you love them? Have you ever just wanted someone to hold you? Have you ever looked to someone for a sign that they appreciate you, appreciate what you’ve done or what you’ve contributed only to not be seen at all? Me too. You are not alone.

But I have good news.

There is a love that has been described as extravagant, generous, enough, undying, accepting, tender, steadfast – the list goes on and on. It is a perfect love because the One who gives it is perfect. He is my Lord and Savior.

I remember a time when the person I wanted to be my supporter and the one to hold me couldn’t. I was hurt and angry. It’s amazing how God can work even when our emotions run amuck or when our focus is not focused on Him. That still, quiet voice spoke to my spirit. “Men will fail you, but I never will.” “Men are human and fallible: I am not.” “Men are selfish and self-seeking while I want to be the only One to whom you turn when you need comfort.” So I started laying out everything that was going on in my life. I was bawling. I had snot running down my nose. My eyes were red and puffy, and I was doing the ugly cry – you know the kind where you wretch. It’s not a pretty picture, but sometimes we have to get to the ugly cry before we look up. And when I had poured everything out of me till there was nothing left, in His generosity, He began to fill me back up…restore me.

There’s a song, “He is jealous for me. Loves like a hurricane. I am a tree bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy when all of the sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.” Love that song.

Zephaniah 3:17 puts it like this, “Yahweh your God is among you, a warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with gladness. He will bring you quietness with His love. He will delight in you with shouts of joy.”

“Love so amazing, so divine demands my soul, my life, my all,” comes from the song written by Isaac Watts called When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Yep, this love comes with a price. A price I could never possibly pay, but He could and He did. He paid my debt just as He has paid your debt. He paid for your sins by dying on the cross and overcoming death by rising from the dead in 3 days. That is an extravagant kind of love. It’s intimate. It’s personal. What are you waiting for? Embrace it. He’s waiting with arms wide open. How long will you make Him wait? Run to Him before it is too late.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Boy Kissed a Frog

When Patrick and I were dating back in college, he asked me to go hunting with him. Daddy had taken me “squirrel hunting,” but you and I both know I wasn’t quiet enough for us to even see a squirrel. So nothing of consequence happened. The first gun I ever shot was a 410 and then moved up to a 22, so being around guns was really no big deal to me. What was a big deal was that I was going hunting…and with Patrick. So, we are sitting in the woods, listening to the birds, and I’m doing my best to not say a word. But you and I both know I had to whisper from time-to-time. After a while, a deer walks out of the thicket. It was so beautiful. I couldn’t any more tell you whether it was a doe or a buck, but when I saw Patrick raise his gun to his shoulder, I couldn’t help myself. I stood up and shouted, “Run, deer, run!” Needless to say, I was never invited back hunting again.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if animals coexisted with human beings in a non-threatening environment? That’s the way it was in Eden, but with the fall of mankind, the curse would forever destroy that co-existence without fear. In Genesis 9, God blesses Noah and his sons and gives them the same instructions – Be fruitful and multiply. Then God mentions that every living creature on the earth, sky and sea would live in fear of men. Kinda makes me wonder if this was how all of the animals were able to live or co-exist on the ark. God had not put the fear of man in them, or maybe they had the fear of man after the fall and God removed the fear for the sake of the ark. Either way, it is pretty interesting to consider.

Something else I found interesting was the information God gave them about the food they were free to eat. It appears that man was herbivorous prior to the flood but became meat-eaters afterwards. I find that interesting. I wonder if one of the reasons men lived so long before the flood was because they were vegetarians. I also wonder if rain changed the atmosphere causing more harmful light to penetrate the earth. I know the bottom line is that God said He would shorten the days of man to 120, but I wonder if used these two things to help facilitate his decree. Sorry, chased a rabbit – hahaha.

Just the fact that God can control the animals around us and that He has put them under the authority of mankind really is an amazing thing. Too often we just assume things. We take for granted that men are not hunted down by animals. We take for granted the work that has been performed by great beasts of burden. When was the last time you were in awe of one of God’s creatures? If you have small children in your life, take them somewhere where they can be exposed to various animals up close. Look through their eyes as they see different animals for the first time.

We live on the outskirts of town on about three acres. Pearce is always outside. Yesterday, he was thrilled when he found a frog. He was so excited that he had to bring him into the house to show me. “Look, mom! He has paddles!” (Webbed feet) Then he kissed the frog! That poor frog didn’t know what hit him, but Pearce was amazed by him. We have had adventures with a coon, an armadillo, squirrels, stray dogs, and it never fails, Pearce is right there in the middle of it poking, prodding, loving, exploring and in awe and excitement of how unique each animal is.

How creative a God we serve! How diverse! Don’t take it for granted.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Weathering Storms -- Make You Bitter or Better?

Bitter or better? I love hearing women tell their life stories, and I’m always amazed by the strength and the courage, the determination and stamina women have. Unfortunately though, some women may weather the storms, but instead of allowing God to make them better through it, they become bitter. They get stuck in the anger. They clutch the anger so closely to their chest that it turns their hearts to stone. So why do some choose to be bitter while others choose to be better? And trust me, it is a choice. Becoming bitter means accepting the role of victim and blaming others whether it’s appropriate or not. Becoming better means being an overcomer, looking for some way to make something good come from the turmoil. I love hearing those kind of women speak. You know why? Because it is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. They worked through the pain instead of ignoring it, stuffing it, or denying it. It wasn’t fun. It wasn’t pleasant, but when they come out the other side it is so worth it.

In Genesis 8:20, the Bible says, “Then Noah built an altar to the Lord.” Do you see where Noah’s heart was? He and his family survived something that no other family has had to endure – the annihilation of everyone on the planet. He and his family had been trapped inside an ark for 150+ days with little light, animals to feed and maintain all while being tossed about in a rudderless ark. I wonder if they grieved for those they lost in the flood. I wonder if they had any regrets about not telling someone about God and leading them to faith. I wonder if they got claustrophobic on the ark after all that time. I wonder if they got depressed not seeing the sun for months. I wonder if they got motion sickness being on the ark.

There were plenty of reasons for Noah to not have a grateful heart, but instead, he chose to see what God had done. God had spared his family. God had given him the exact dimensions needed to build the ark. God had provided the animals for the ark. God had carried their rudderless ark through the worst storm imaginable. He chose to find the good. He chose to have a grateful heart. The fact that you have survived and made it through the storm is reason enough to be grateful.

When my mom was told she had breast cancer in 2007, I didn’t bat an eye. My thought was, “Let’s kick cancer’s butt.” She went in for the lumpectomy, and when the doctor came out, he told us he had to remove all of her lymph nodes on that side making her cancer a stage 3. That knocked the wind right out of my sail. I remember sending out an e-mail to my mom’s friends with the information we had been given. I stuck with the facts. I didn’t put down any of what I was feeling because it was too raw. Within two minutes of my sending out the e-mail, her friends started responding with “Praise the Lord!” and “Thank you, Lord!” They were rejoicing because the doctor had gotten the cancer out of my mom while I was focusing only on the fact that stage 4 was terminal, and she was very close.

Little did I know that God would teach me to be thankful for those stinkin’ cancerous lymph nodes. Several weeks after my mom had to go for a bone scan and a PET scan. She was called back immediately. The reason my mom was sent for the PET scan was because the doctor wanted to make sure her cancer hadn’t spread anywhere else making it a stage 4 cancer. The PET scan didn’t show cancer, but what it did show was something that could be just as deadly – blood clots in her lungs. If her lymph nodes had not been cancerous, he would not have ordered the PET scan, and she could have easily died or suffered from a stroke from the blood clots traveling to her brain. I learned to thank God for the cancerous lymph nodes that day.

You don’t always see the big picture, but rest assured, God does. You may feel like you are being batted around in a storm in a rudderless ship, but I promise you, you’re not. You may feel like you’ve lost everyone and everything, but you aren’t alone. I challenge you to find something for which to be thankful. If you know someone who is going through a hard time, stand in the gap for them. I am so thankful for those women who stood in the gap for me when I could find nothing for which to be thankful.

The verse my mom chose for her cancer journey and the verse that I was led to claim for my son’s life verse is Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.” Verse 12 - 14 say, “Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me and when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord, ‘and will bring you back from captivity’.” Seek Him. Find Him. Be grateful.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

SNL's "Bu-Bye" -- Ready to Disembark

Have you ever been on an airplane flight and as it is landing, you see people putting their things away. Your plane is approaching the gate, and people are already on their phones texting and calling. They are standing up in the aisles as soon as the light goes off. They are in such a hurry, and then they stand. They stand there until the captain says it’s okay to disembark. The stewardess stands at the front or the back, and like the Saturday Night Live skit, they say, “bu-bye.” Can you imagine how eager Noah, his family and the animals must have been to get off of that ark?! Have you ever been anywhere that you just felt the need to get out! I have. It wasn’t fun…it was an elevator the size of a coffin! Don’t you know they were excited knowing the end was in sight? I would be flat down hysterical and giddy.

In Genesis 8, God remembers Noah or turns His attention to Noah and the ark. He sends His wind. It’s the same word used in Genesis 1:2 for when the Spirit hovered over the earth. The Spirit was present during the creation, and He’s present now at this new beginning. Have you ever stood outside having the sun warm your face as the wind blows across your skin? That’s what I’m going to use as a wonderful reminder that He is always present.

In contrast, the ark was darkness. Very little light. Tossing back and forth. The smells of animals. The sounds of animals. For 150 days. Can you imagine what life must have been like? The darkness alone can be depressing. Put yourself into their shoes…sandals. You’ve been in this boat for 150 days. How do you know when the ark stops moving? How long did it take for them to realize the ark had landed on something? There’s no rain. Noah decides to open the window. I would be sticking my face through whatever hole there was taking in long, deep breaths of fresh air feeling the sun on my face. I wonder if Noah did that. I wonder if he called his family to the window to get a breath of fresh air.

Noah decides to send out a raven. I remember reading Edgar Allen Poe’s story The Raven. (I wasn’t a fan of the bird before and definitely wasn’t afterwards.) I wonder if he sent out a raven because he thought there might be carcasses still around or what. Truth is, he didn’t know what to expect. God hadn’t told him what to expect. God is good like that. He reveals to us a little at a time allowing us to catch a glimpse of what He has in store, and yet He never reveals all of the surprises because it’s part of the journey.

I find the raven, though, an unusual choice. Maybe he was just tired of hearing that particular bird and set it out hoping it wouldn’t come back…hahaha.

The second go around he chose a dove. I can work with a dove. It was a dove that descended onto Jesus when He was baptized. In the book of Solomon, dove is a pet name for a lover. A dove is a good choice, and eventually the dove brings the olive branch that to this day is considered a sign of peace. So, Noah has his sign. He’s ready to rock and roll right on out of that ark as well as all of his family and animals. But he doesn’t. He waits. He sees what God has promised him. It’s right there in front of him, but Noah waits. What on God’s green earth is he waiting for? He’s waiting for God to tell him it’s okay.

Have you been so eager to do God’s will that you almost got ahead of Him? That would mean you were outside of God’s will. Have you ever been so eager to leave a journey, a problem or situation that you jump up out of your seat only to have to wait? Take a moment. Ask God to breathe into you new life, and trust Him to wait on His timing. (This is not my forte’. As a matter of fact, I’m waiting on Him right now.)