Sunday, December 25, 2011

She Smiled

Even though she's a grandmother, her voice is quite youthful and unstrained when she sings. She's often found on her feet and in tears as she fills the church with her love and devotion for Christ so it's amazing how the words can flow with such ease. She and her husband stood in front of the church and sang for us recently and I'm always in awe the beautiful Faith they wear so proudly. They've lived through some gut wrenching heartache in their years here but the foundation they had together with Him, was enough to send them to their knees at times, and pick their chins up when needed. Their backs looked strong and so upright as their voices ran over the pews in refreshing waves.

This Christmas morning, as we all gathered in church to celebrate the birth of our Savior, she confidently played hymns on the piano. Her son stood behind her and sang warmly as he looked over her shoulder at the lyrics he probably didn't even need to read. I kept picturing him as if he were a little child and wondered if she too was remembering him as a young boy singing beside her as she couldn't remove the smile God put on her face. Her mouth moved silently with his song but only his voice was heard and she glowed with pride, and I could see it flowing from her.

Throughout the entire song, a tall, handsome, grown child stood near his mother. She continued to show the visual tenderness only this man's mother could display. I couldn't help but smile as I realized how He must feel. Not the man behind her but The One who died on a cross for her. I was sure He was smiling too as she devotes as much of herself to Him as anyone I've ever seen.

We had a beautiful service this morning and I'm so thankful for my church. Our pastor reminded me of something I probably never would have remembered if we had not attended today's service. Simplicity. He reminded us how simple and wonderful Christmas should be. He handed us all a piece of fruit and reminded us how wonderful it was to receive an orange or apple in your stocking as a child. I teared up as I held the fruit and remembered running to that stocking as kid and pulling out that orange. It was always the best tasting orange in the world. It was just an orange and still, everything but just an orange. It was simplicity.

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

She's Sorry She Can't Go to Heaven this Year

I love my child.
click image for larger view

Happy Birthday

Several of my friends know that I keep very little "things" such as drawings, school work, etc. even though I love getting these items from the kids, I just don't have space to keep EVERYTHING. I take photos of special items and keep a few of the most special pieces in a folder. I just wanted to share with you one of the most precious keep sakes I've ever received. It didn't even come from my own child but the little girl who drew this is a triplet. I was in awe of the drawing and it stayed on my fridge for several weeks to serve as a reminder. Most of us know the story of the three crosses. I asked the child when she gave me this if she drew everything in 3s since she was a triplet. She smiled and nodded her head yes but this was such a wonderful reminder and came at the perfect time.
Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Birthday to The One that died on one of these crosses for me!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

He Shines

We loaded up in the car, to take the little boy home who had spent the night with my son. He was needing to be home early this time because he had a big family holiday breakfast to attend. The clouds were covering the 8 o'clock sky and the warm air we'd felt on our skin the day before had gone. Our breath could been this day and we could feel the cold stinging our lungs.

We drove for miles and miles and the 10 year old boys chatted their usual conversations. The child asked me, "Hey Val, did I tell you I got Saved?" I smiled remembering how proud he was the day before when he announced it us. Conversation turned to how people decide when it's the right time, what it feel likes to be touched by Him and similar themed speech.

I looked over to our right and from one single break in the clouds, sun rays were shining down. It was so beautiful. I showed the boys and the child who now calls himself "my brother" said to us, "Oh yea! Guess God is shining down on someone in need."

Tears filled my eyes and I turned up the radio as I lost myself in thought. The rays were shining directly down where my friend lives. She's been in need of a lot of prayer this week. I had woke this morning with Saturday on my mind and I had completely forgotten...but He had not. He was lighting her day when everything else was so cloudy, and it was radiant.

I love these little reminders!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My seat on the pew

I couldn't help but cry a little on the way to church. I knew my friend that sits by me at every service likely wouldn't show tonight. I knew she'd give anything to be sitting there in church but she had to bury a very important part of her family today...her grandmother.

I had no idea what comfort I could offer her if she did come tonight, other than friendship, compassion, sympathy. I miss my grandmother more and more as the days turned into months which have since turned into years since her death. What could I possibly offer my friend? I knew as soon as I walked in and saw the empty padded bench...I would give her my seat on the pew and hopefully she could feel church, even when she didn't get to physically be there.

I love Wednesday nights. Since it's often a smaller crowd that comes out on this night, the people who normally sit on the other side, come over to sit on the right-hand pews. I took my seat and even though I knew she wouldn't be able to come, I still felt disappointment when I looked to my right and saw no one. When I looked to the left though, my daughter and her tiny friend sat and conversed about a baby doll. I couldn't wait for the songs to begin and when they did, I could hear the tiny child sing the words. My daughter looked at me with astonishment that such a small child could know the lyrics to the old gospel hymns we sing. I looked around and heard some strong male voices coming in from behind me, and I waited. I knew what would soon take place that only happens on Wednesday nights, heard only from my seat on the pew when we combine on the one side.

The next song began I could hear them. Their elegant voices began individually from that pew directly behind me but quickly banded together in what was both soft and powerful but most of all, simply profound. I quietened my own voice so I could hear their song. My eyes briefly filled with tears when I wondered what I've done to deserve such beauty.

Another lady walked up front with a single sheet of paper in hand. I love hearing her sing too. She has such a pure and rich voice. She never sings with a piano, her voice is all she needs. I hear life pouring from her vocal chords as she too emits perfection for my ears to relish.

When our pastor began the message tonight, I quickly read the verse before he had a chance to vocalize the words and for once I understood it. It's not often I can read words from the Bible and understand them without interpretation but tonight I could.
Jeremiah 13:23 KJV
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."

There are things we can't change about ourselves. There are lots of things I ask God for every, single, day. Simple things that may come natural for many, and I'm on bended knee asking for help...and that's okay, but through Him, all things are possible.
I missed my friend. I am thankful for those who could came out tonight. You just never know whose heart you're touching.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Families in Need

She pulled me aside and closed the door behind us. Worry was visible all over her face and I feared what she had to say. It became quite clear in those two minutes we spoke, that she had been burdened with something, she knew she had to resolve. Earlier in the week she had became aware of families in need. Children with no socks or underwear to their name, kids wearing shoes three sizes too small and parents working through the night, doing the best they can to provide for their family and still setting aside quality time, to volunteer at the school.

With over 80% of our children in this school on free or reduced lunches, sometimes, those lunches are all they get to eat all day long. We parents who spend countless hours in that school, cutting, gluing, volunteering whenever we can, see lots of children and often entire families in need...but thankful for what they DO HAVE, they are too proud to ask for help.

We would like to ask our community to pull together and donate items for these families in need. Gently used (clean) warm clothes of any size for small and large children and adults (even infants since several families have children not in school yet) are asked to be dropped off at West End Elementary on December 9 from 8:00 until 9:00 a.m. and again that same day from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. We do ask that any socks or underwear be new but anything else such as sweat suits, tennis shoes, gloves, jeans, shirts, clothes suitable for church, etc. simply need to be clean and in good condition.

While many of us try to decide which coat matches our shoes the best, others are pinning clothes together because that's all they have. Again the drop off is next Friday so please ask your churches to consider these families in need.

This is hosted by a group of parents responding to families in need and not the school itself. Your questions should be directed to the parent volunteers during the event or via email. Please feel free to share this post with others in our area who may be interested in donating. The items will go to families associated with our school system. Thank you so much on behalf of all the parent volunteers!

Friday
December 9
West End Elementary at the old gym
in the back near the picnic tables
8:00-9:00 a.m.
and
1:00-2:30 p.m.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Looking for Him

So I've been at the high school for several days in a row. This is the same high school that I couldn't find Him in, until recently. I've worked here for years now and would have to told you that He wasn't very present here until this year. The truth is, He's probably actually been here the whole time, I just wasn't seeing Him.

This week, I've had the same class everyday. I know the kids are probably ready for their teacher to come back, I would be tired of me too by now. A few weeks ago, there was a child in here that was taking Creative Writing. She wrote a poem. It was about Jesus. When I asked her why she wrote a poem about Jesus she simply smiled and tugged at her pony tail and said, "Because I LOVE Jesus!!" I smiled and shared a poem with her I had also written. We had something in common.

On Monday morning, I prayed that I would see His presence at school. That day, a group came by and small red Bibles were distributed to the students. A few ended up in the trash where other students had pulled them back out. They gave me one. He WAS there, making His presence known. On Tuesday, I was looking everywhere for Him. Troubled teens walked in and out of my class all day. Some were sick, some were needing employment in the worst way and some upset by deaths in our area. Already, this holiday season has been hard for a lot of families facing various obstacles and hardships.

Towards the end of the day, I was walking around the room, making sure the kids were on their online classes and not researching tattoos or the latest fashions in boots. I paused to ask a couple of boys to pick up some paper off the floor when I noticed a book. This book was unusual. It was very tattered, but you could see the thin blue cover clinging for dear life to the hard binding that kept the pages together. I was almost afraid to pick it up it looked so fragile, but I did. I asked to whom it belonged. A nervous soft spoken teen smiled and said it was his. His voice cracked as he teeters between remaining a child and becoming a man. I smiled and asked why he carried such a book. He answered so quickly that confidence spewed into the air and his surrounding peers turned to see. "Because you never know when you're gonna need it!!"

In my hands I held his Bible. I told him I loved it. It looked worn not from mistreatment, but from dedicated use. I said to him, "This looks really special, did someone give it to you?" He told me yes, but he didn't tell me who so I didn't ask. But I felt like he'd shared so much with me, more than most kids his age do so I pulled up my blog on the computer. He read the last entry "With Silver Under His Eyes" with wide eyes and interest. He thanked me and said he really liked that. We had something in common.

Again, I was wrong. He is present in that school. There are more people with deep rooted religion that I thought. It's easy to spot the bad in people if that's all you look for. It takes patience, encouragement and contribution to see the good sometimes.

On my third and final morning in the classroom, I awake to more bad news for the locals. A family here lost everything in a fire. With two young boys at the elementary, I've already seen Him working hard this morning through the faithful friends of the desperate family. He sent a faculty member down to my room for a common morning chat, which was filled with heart and awareness of Him. Both of us teared up before we parted to do our jobs we were sent to do in the flesh. I am so glad He is here...He is everywhere you put Him.

Monday, November 28, 2011

With Silver Under His Eyes

I was disappointed I missed Sunday morning services. With a child ailing at home, we decided to stay in but I knew I would get to attend the night services, even if it meant I had to go alone.

We never know who will preach our Sunday night services. The preacher usually has one of several other preachers in the congregation give The Message and I took a deep breath in as he announced who it was. It was the man I'd watched last week feel the cross engraved in his pew.

He walked up to the front with his Bible in hand. He opened it slow and deliberately, revealing The Book's markers he'd placed throughout it. The golden edges shined and the soft ribbon extended with purpose. He looked out among us, and he too breathed in deeply. He began a message only he could deliver with such enthusiasm, such commitment and such certainty. He presented a message only a devout husband, daddy and child of God could deliver.

When he was confident it was time to close, many met at The Alter to pray. I prayed intently for the sick, the heart broken, the lost and the needy. I prayed for strength and vision and patience for myself. I realized my grip on the side of the pew had constricted and my knuckles were probably white but I couldn't look over to see. I heard voices soften as they closed their prayers with one voice growing stronger and more pronounced over all others. Soon we all joined in the one prayer led by the Pastor. His sincerity and conviction grew louder until we felt his words. With "Amens" we arose off bended knees and went back to our seats. Our Pastor stood before us and closed the service with silver under his eyes. The light was reflecting just right and metallic puddles had formed under his lashes.

As always I left revitalized, encouraged, and inspired. With Friends Day next Sunday, I have the responsibility to invite a family. I'm still praying about this one. I hope to find just the right family that can appreciate what happens inside those glass doors. Sadly, it's not something you see or even feel every common day. I came to that church on a visit. I know what a blessing it has been to me, so I'm not taking this too lightly.

Matthew 21:22

"And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

With the lights on bright

As service closed, I had no idea what time it was. I didn't even care. It had been such a good one, from start to finish. The rain had thickened as I ran to the car and I could feel the water splashing under my soles. I just hoped I'd make it to the car without falling down.

I turned the key and I suddenly became aware, that it was very dark and I had about a 20 minute ride home, some of that time would be driving down one of Alabama's most dangerous highways. I took a deep breath, and pulled out of the lot and was pleased when I saw another member directly behind me. As we pulled onto the road I could barely see through the rain. I wanted to digest the amazing message we'd been given tonight but all I could see was rain. I brightened my lights and quickly it became apparent that that's ALL I could see. The sharp needles of water threw themselves at my windshield like daggers. I was so focused on the rain, I wasn't even looking at the road.

I quickly became aware that if you focus only the rain, you can run off the road. I was relieved to know that the other member behind me had my back should I sway too far. I took comfort in the fellowship and camaraderie that is demonstrated within our church that if I began to merge into danger, someone would be there to direct me back on the road.

They soon turned off the road and I was alone (sorta). I smiled as I realized He has never let me down. Even in the pouring rain, you can still see the road, if you know it's there. There are times when I want to focus on the rain, but He's always there to show me my path. I love how I feel when I leave church. It's like driving with the lights on bright. Even if the rain falls, I see the road. Tonight, I'm thankful for the church that always seems to brighten the lights for me.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

He Knows

I sat today on our same pew, but I took my husband's seat since he was not present. I knew I'd see something different just by a change in seating, and I  prepared myself. The hair stood up on my arms as everyone began finding their own seat. I knew The Spirit was about to make His presence known, and we had sang not even verse yet.

Different people began standing and announcing some of the wonderful things they have to be thankful for and I listened. Person after person made their way to The Altar and bended their knees. I ended up there three times myself in this one service, and I needed to be no where else. It felt good being there, to be praying, which I had not done at all today before I got there. My third and final visit to The Altar today, I couldn't help but place my bare palms deep into the carpet. I thought about all the tears that had been shed down there as mine dripped from my chin to be soaked in as deep as all the others who have knelt before me. Today I felt voices from underneath my hands. I felt them all around me from every direction as everyone was deep in prayer. I could feel their prayers running up through my arms as my lips began to move. I felt sinners, I felt helplessness, I felt the unworthy, and for a brief moment, they were all just like me. I had been too busy to need prayer until I walked in the doors of the church this morning. For me, everything stops at those glass doors. I never wear a watch in church. I honestly don't care if we are there for three hours, it's my time with The Lord...no matter who shows up, and who don't, no matter who is preaching or who is singing, He knows each of our voices as our preacher once said.

The preacher picked up the beautiful long piece of wood that has felt it's share of elbows placed upon it in prayer over the years. He showed us the tears that had collected on it this morning and he wiped it clean...and He knows whose eyes they poured from.

We had a great service and a great one again tonight as a different preacher stood before us. I listened intently as he explained the verses in perfect story. The lady behind me who is multi-talented herself, would speak words that were coming out of his mouth at the exact time he was saying them. It was as if He was sending her the same message only in a word here and there, to confirm the importance.

I watched the man on the front pew feel the engraved cross on the side of his pew. His right hand kept reaching down and with his fingers pressing against the wood, I wondered if he'd been touching that cross for so long that he didn't even realize it had become part of him. His "Amens" and excited chuckles are always a blessing when The Spirit feels the church, and He knows who's on that front pew.

The lady behind me was surrounded with several of her grand babies and her husband was on the end. They don't normally sit behind me but I was so glad that they did. His voice was so strong and loud. I wondered why I hadn't heard it before. Together they both sang with babies in their laps and it was captivating. I found my own voice getting louder at times because I felt their mighty song enclose around me. I knew I was exactly where I needed to be...not two seats down, not one pew up, right there. We think we all just go in and sit down, but He knows who is willing to feel. Many people say they believe, but they don't know how to feel. I'm so glad I'm in a place that has showed me how to feel.

(to be continued...)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

She Colors Me Home

There are several children in our church that do things...differently. My children are in fact deaf...completely deaf...the hear absolutely nothing without their devices on kinda deaf...which means we do things differently. At home, when devices are off, we flick lights, stomp floors, knock on walls, etc. to get their attention...whatever is the most convenient method through sight or vibrations.
                 ~~~~~
I got a call to teach a second grade class, which happens to hold one of my most favorite eight year olds who usually sits next to us at church. When we finished our tests, finished our reading, finished all the "real work", we had time to color a turkey. This child took out every single color she had and began to color. I walked around and all the children had really nice looking turkeys. They all looked like average turkeys with brightly colored feathers, brown bodies, green grass around , just what you would expect from a second grader.

I made my way over to my little friend. I was astonished at what I saw. She was crouched down really low so she could see the lines of the turkey, the grass, and remarkably she stayed in the lines. You see, she does things differently too. She felt of each crayon she had maticulously placed all in a row and she used every single one. She carefully poured as much color into every blade of grass, every feather, every single thing on that paper was full of oranges, reds, greens and golds. I was so glad she did her's differently, it was anything but average.

It made me realize that I have been forgetting to do things differently too. I learned when my children were very young, before they received these powerful hearing devices, how to see, how to feel, how to soak in what God has given us, in ways I never imaged before having my kids. I pray lots of times, for the vision...I pray that my eyes won't be clouded and I'll see everything HE needs me to see. I was thankful, He'd shown me her, and her colors.

My world got brighter after that day. I noticed more colors than I've ever seen in the Fall trees. I look at these trees every year and this year, some are so bright they're almost blinding.
I usually get closer to God when I do things differently. Yesterday, I remembered my prayer...no blinders, no clouds, I wanted to soak in any and everything He'd allow me to.

As soon as I dropped the kids off for school, I went home and walked around the yard. I first came to a tree house my kids have climbed a hundred times. I'm horrified of heights but on this day, I wasn't scared at all. For the first time, I climbed. My hands touched the rough bark where lichen had gently nestled in between the grooves. I can't remember the last time I touched the truck of a tree. I pulled myself up to the very top and I sat about 15 feet off the ground. The wind blew and I breathed in deep. The orange 8 a.m. sun reflected from the rooftop of the barn. Birds were singing so close to me I could feel their song move through my ears. It was all because the little girl took time to fill everything with color...and I knew I should do something differently...

I climbed down and continued walking but the sun was so bright I could barely see, and my sunglasses were way back at the house. Instead of walking with my head down, I turned around backwards...and kept walking. I saw a tree, I've never noticed before. It's in plain view but had always been overshadowed by a much prettier tree. I began to walk towards the half-naked tree. I was curious what it had to offer, as it stood almost bare. I had anticipated seeing a blanket of color on the ground below, since it had already donated most of itself to the earth beneath it, but I saw nothing. They had likely already blown away, and I was too late. I stood there and wondered if there was something else He wanted to show me. The breeze picked up gently and I heard the symphony of leaves dancing in the warm morning sun. I looked up and the leaves looked like pure silver, and they were giving me everything they had left to give. The only reason I saw this beauty in an unnoticed tree, was because she reminded me that it's okay to do things differently...even if it means walking backwards.

Sometimes, I sit in church and I close my eyes. I pretend I can't see so I can FEEL. Sometimes, I pretend I can't hear too and I look down, tune out the hymns that rolls over the pews so I can really FEEL. Voices are so strong, the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, chills fill my arms. The man in front of me starts tapping on the back of the pew and I feel the floor vibrate as the piano pounds and the feet tap. I'm most happy when I do things differently. I have visions I've never before seen with my common eyes. I hear things my average ears have yet to hear and I feel HIM...and that's how she colors me Home.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Rewards

I woke from a dream this morning that kept me in bed just a few more minutes, hoping I could go back to sleep and keep dreaming...

I was sitting in class with other students, the teacher brought over my math test and said, "Absolutely outstanding!" I looked at my grade and I had received a 102. Fabulous.

This may or may not have ever really happened to me in elementary, I was more of an English/Spelling kinda girl but it felt good to get that "atta girl". This comes to me because as parents, we talked extensively to our child last night about his grades. He has the chance to earn a really fabulous reward around Christmas time, something he wants really really bad, but his grades and some behaviors must improve.

As we get older and become parents, most of our rewards change form. We don't always have a need to attain material prizes. If you are blessed to have a child or children with special needs, sometimes our rewards are quite basic in the eyes of most. If your child is in the Autism Spectrum, maybe you work hard from the time you get up until you go to bed, on immitation. One day, maybe years down the road, you see a peer hopping on one foot with your child following, immitating the child. A tear comes to your eye because you knew he could do it, eventually...and being able to see it with your own eyes is the best reward. In our case, the children are deaf. The doctors gave them tools to hear as older toddlers around the age of three but kids don't magically know words. They have to hear them, learn them, know them...before they even consider speaking them. It didn't always come easy for them. Our games at home probably seem much more difficult than any game average children play...but we were working on sounds, hearing, listening, repeating, and much more.


But I received a different reward yesterday...and it felt so good. It was such a simple act. The prayer group at school is collecting snacks for the teachers. In every single classroom, they have snack time at some point in the day. Children bring snacks from home and have about 10 minutes to eat and re-energize before completing the day. Not all kids have snacks. You see, most of our students come from low income families, with over 80% receiving free or reduced lunches. Some of our kids probably only eat meals at school, breakfast and lunch and if they don't have a snack, they go hungry longer. So the prayer group decided to collect some basic snacks to give to teachers so they can have something on hand, even if it's plain crackers, to give those who have nothing. I can't imagine watching my friends eat and pretend I'm not hungry as my stomach churns because I brought nothing.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to deliver two of the teachers some snacks. They were very appreciative. One teacher, took the common Ritz and looked me in the eye and just thanked me. She has many that bring nothing. She told me she was just waiting on pay day so she could buy snacks...that was next week. Teachers have families just like all of us to provide for. As it is, they are all the time picking up crayons here, giving 50 cents for this one to attend a PTO sponsored movie, or something similar. They usually have around 20 kids in their rooms....80% of 20 is 16...do you think they can afford that?

I walked away from the teacher with a heavy heart. We need to really focus as a prayer group and get all of these teachers some snacks for their rooms. So far, we've only donated to a few as we wait for more to be donated. This is a constant need, they could go through a box of crackers in a week. With food allergeries and such we opted to keep the snacks simple, no chocolate/peanut butter cookies or anything.

The reward I felt yesterday was so simple. I knew that in those two classrooms, ALL children would be able to eat at snack time, and at least through next week. But what about the other rooms? I am so thankful for our prayer group that is still relatively new. They've shown me how easy doing good can be, and I love the rewards offered by God. This is something I need to work on with my children. The kind of rewards that cost nothing, are the best rewards offered.

Monday, October 24, 2011

That Baby Sang

It was her idea to sit on a different pew. My daughter and I waltzed in and parked ourselves opposite of where we normally can be found. I had thought the other day that when our preacher was down about a "routine" service that we should all do what an English teacher in high school used to make us do, to keep us fresh...change seats. So when my child suggested that we change pews, I knew it could never hurt getting a different view. From behind us the preacher's wife said that we should all change seats sometimes, and I politely agreed that a different perspective can be good sometimes.

I thought we had all about cried ourselves out this morning. The singing sounded so good. Soon the children went up and sang a few songs and hands were clapping. As usual, more tears where shed at The Altar, and the message was really good. Then, someone asked her to sing. My heart grew extremely heavy as a worried mother walked up to the front with her smallest grandchild. The little girl was so small I couldn't even see her face, just the hair bow her Maw Maw had placed so lovingly in her hair. With part of her daughter standing next to her, they began to sing. Without flaw, that baby sang.

If you looked close enough, you could see the grandmother press harder on each piano key as she fought through the worry that was trying to hold her down. Her daughter was missed by us all today as she continues to recover in a hospital bed. The love for this member could be felt as an Altar Call was requested in her name. We all prayed for her healing, her strength, and her return soon.

I'm so glad that baby sang. Through puffy eyes, we all watched as she didn't miss a beat...
"...and The God Of The Good Times, Is Still God Of The Bad Times"


By the time church was over, I was dehydrated. My head hurt from shedding so many tears in one day and my throat was dry but I went home only thirsty for water last night, and nothing more. As our preacher has told us, if you're hungry He'll feed you and if you're thirsty, He'll fill your cup.

All night long, I had peaceful dreams. I have no idea of the content of them, but I woke several times. I was keenly aware of my senses. It was almost as if everything in my dreams was magnified and clear. The lights were brighter, the sounds were so crisp. I felt fully aware and alert of everything but couldn't remember a thing. 

On the way to school this morning, my son had questions. He said he would be too embarrassed to go up to The Altar. After we talked off and on all morning about the important things in life, he wanted one last chance to get clarity, "So even if you're nice, your whole life, you won't go to Heaven unless you're Saved?"

As a parent, I'd love to pick my children up and carry them with me when I go to Heaven, but I can't. This is something my little family is working hard on, and I'm so thankful I have friends and a church to support us!

And it was Joel

After church, we went back to the house to digest what had just taken place. Part of me was so exhausted but the other part felt renewed, and energized.

I spent the day enjoying all that I've been given but hoping that one day, my children will get to experience what we did that morning. Lots of people go to church on Sundays to hear God's words, His message...but sometimes, there are people that go there to feel Him instead...

My daughter and I decided to go back to the Sunday night service so she stepped into the shower to clean up after a hard day at play. After a few minutes, a soaked child walked up to me dripping water all over my floor. She handed me a piece of paper.


I guess accidentally breaking the soap holder led her to confess about ripping one of my Bible pages...

I asked her to show me the Bible, and she went to my car to retrieve The Book. When she returned she opened right to the page and showed me a tiny tear. She confessed, "I did it a few weeks ago...that day I was really good in church, remember that day?" She hung her head in shame and I lifted her chin. I asked her if this had really been bothering her for that long and sadly it had. She must have been worried sick about telling me. We all know what that feels like.

I closed the Bible and sat down with my child. I assured her that no matter what she does, Christ is the Ultimate One she needs to confess to. No matter what she does, even if Mama and Daddy get mad sometimes, she needs to lay her burdens down with Him, because He's always forgiving, even when people sometimes are not. The child was so relieved to have that off of her chest. I gave her a big hug, and I threw away the soap dish. Somehow, these things became less important today...and I am so thankful.

Later, I became curious about where the rip had taken place. I went back and opened my Bible to the tiny rip.

Joel 2:28 "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions."
...and we haven't even made it to the Sunday night's service yet! (to be continued)





He Waited

As church began on Sunday morning, it was clear that He had waited for us. One after the other, we were led to The Altar and unlike the tears we shed on a common Sunday, we wept in His presence. I knelt and prayed, and though I was not worthy...He still had waited. Unlike Sundays past when I have felt Him, he moved right through me this day. Part of me felt bad for leaving my husband and children on the pew but a bigger part of me knew I was where I needed to be. I could not hear anything, I just prayed. My body was moving, my arms shook helplessly. And from the pew, a husband watched his wife bow down.

Somehow, my feet moved me back to the pew, but I was still unaware of anything but Him. The devil had tried his best to keep me from going to church. I got so car sick on the way, I thought we were going to have to pull over as we often do, but He led us on. I am His child, and He took care of me.

I finally was able to look around and I saw another mother, making her way up front. All of her make-up was gone, and she never looked more beautiful. One of my best friends was asked to sing a song which led to another and another. She had unusual strength this day, when she wanted to fall to pieces. Sometimes she'd begin a verse, but emotion would halt her voice, and more tears would pour from me. When we were assured The Altar was still open and encouraged to listen to The Lord, my husband left the pew. Again, we all followed and I held his back as he shamelessly prayed. This would not be the first time I've seen him cry in church, but it's the first time he's moved his body up front.

With swollen eyes, we made our way out of the church when we had done all that we could for that service. One of our strong members said one day, "I don't see how those that come to church once a month do it..." and with that in mind, I could not wait to come back Sunday night. I was so thankful He had waited this time.

As we got in the car, my oldest child said his Daddy, "I had no idea you were that emotional." That was only the beginning, of my glorious day....(to be continued)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Two by Two

I have to admit, I was really afraid I'd miss a really good service today. I had errands beforehand and I knew Sunday School was out of the question...again. I had a strange feeling this would be one of those days that He would come before I could get there, and they would begin Worship service instead of splitting for Sunday School.

I cried secretly off and on all morning because I knew whenever I did finally arrive, most of the back pew would be empty...and it was. One of our young moms is recovering from a major operation and I dreaded looking back and seeing her not there. Even though she's doing fine, it's just sad to know that she'd give anything to be there, yet she's unable.

When we arrived this morning, we all gave our usual pre-service greetings, and the songs began. It only took one member, to request a song before The Lord visited our church. There wasn't a dry eye to be found as song after song, the voices got stronger and voices got louder. Two by two, knees were bending at The Altar. His presence was felt by many and soon, tissues were useless. Grown men gave in to His call without an ounce of shame. Ladies and children were moved down the aisle and His presence was quite clear. Every tear could be heard this day, and it was glorious.

I am so glad, I finally have a place where people listen to The Lord. I know it's not polite in some churches to tell the preacher "I don't care if you get a chance to preach today or not, I'm glad the Lord led me..." but one our members did just that as he received His word, and acted upon it. We didn't even need our Bibles today. I am Blessed beyond. 

And if that wasn't enough, one the youngest girls we have, walked to the front and sang Jesus Loves Me...and that's all I needed.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Than a Bible

On Christmas Day in 1988, a thirteen year old girl gave her Maw Maw a special gift. It was a Family Bible. The Grandmother loved the thoughtful present and placed it on her den table, where it stayed for years. All the grandchildren would come over and kneel at the coffee table and open the Bible, and gaze at the beautiful pictures of Christ.

This Maw Maw was born to be a grandmother...she had to be. She'd make the grandchildren a huge breakfast when they would spend the night even though by the time she sat down to eat, her hands shook so bad she could barely drink her coffee. After she filled their bellies with the massive feast, the grandchildren would take her to the couch to rest while they cleaned her kitchen for her, because they wanted to, and they loved her, and they couldn't bare to see her tremble...
~

We had always heard of a son she had to bury when he was just a baby. We all wondered if that's when the tremors began. She had to bury another son while she was here in the flesh. He'd lost a battle with cancer. She saw others go Home, her husband, her brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors she'd known most of her life. The trembling increased over the years with every soul that departed but she still had her grandchildren, and that's all she really wanted.

It was hard letting her go. I miss her as much now as when I wrote about her funeral (click here for that). But it's so comforting knowing I'll see her again one day.

~

Our preacher was down about what he called a "routine" sermon. I actually enjoyed the service since my own family critically needed those words. But he went on to discuss how wonderful it would be if all of the church members could reunite in Heaven one day and reminisce over the wonderful and glorious days we got down on our knees and prayed together or sang hymns like we were leaving tomorrow. To me, there's never anything routine about going to our church other than the service times.

I had a row full of little girls who chose to sit next me Sunday night. The smallest was holding my daughter's doll and she wrapped that baby in her arms and rocked it the entire time. She bent down and kissed it's cheek and held it a little tighter. She brought both a smile to my face and tear to my eye as her grandmother walked to the front to sing. As always, I thought of my own Maw Maw and as this lady looked up to Heaven, I wondered who my Maw Maw was standing beside right now...did she have that first born baby back in her arms? Was she singing along with Angels as the ivory keys pounded inside our church walls?

I had a song of my own stuck in my head but I never could finish it until now. I've prayed about it since Sunday and all I kept receiving was it's right inside that Bible. I'd been so busy looking, I couldn't see...maybe that happens to all of us sometimes.



So, for the first time, I took out Maw Maw's Bible. I never imagined as a thirteen year old girl, I'd one day get back the gift I'd given to her. I had put away for protection and preservation. Little did I know, it should have never been packed away. I opened the Bible and stuck within the pages I found almost every memorial card she had collected. My Paw Paw's card was laminated, and I hope this is her way of telling me he's with her. Her brother's card, and many more are inside of her Bible.

Time after time she walked the rows,
Leading up to "goodbye" and placed a rose...
She said "see you in Heaven and I love you so,
We'll sing again some day, but for now you must go."

She went back to her house and reached for The Book
She recorded the date and in the pages she looked,
For the comforts of Heaven her loved ones call Home
Her tears are on the pages and so are my own.

She gave me more than Bible, to place upon my table,
Pages filled with His story and pages filled with her's.
The words she wrote with aging hands
As she waited for that Angel Band
She put a Bible on my table, and Jesus in my heart.
~Val Blakely~

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Pantry

With the cabinet doors open, we both stood glaring and bags and boxes of almost any type snack you could possibly ask for. She found what she was looking for, but I did not. She stood there in her new dress offering me various crackers, chips, cookies, grits and oatmeal, but nothing looked good to me. I closed the pantry and said, "I'll wait until after church. Maybe I'll know what I want by then."

Minutes later, we arrived at the little country church, I looked forward to seeing all day. There's a long stretch from Sunday until
Wednesday for me these days. Not that I do anything really bad, it's just that when I walk through the church doors, I arrive with only one thing on my mind. There's no distractions that can get in my way here. I'll leave knowing more, I'll leave seeing better, and I'll leave feeling Christ.

In a cappella, one lady sang with such a pureness in her voice, I knew she meant every word that seeped over her lips.
"Lord in heaven above why did you pick me to love
Why You love me I just can't understand.
There are others more worthy of Jesus than me,
Yet You love me as small as I am"

Another lady soon walked to the front. I'd never heard her say much, and she admitted that as she opened her Devotion. She became filled with His Spirit and she was beautiful. Tears poured from our eyes as her emotion filled the church. The preacher soon spoke, and wouldn't you know it...he spoke to me, as always. He spoke of hungry people and how we need to fill ourselves so full of The Spirit, people know we're full. He said, "If you've ever went to school with someone who was so poor, that at lunch they didn't have anything to eat...and the first thing you want to do is share...we need to be so full, that we're willing to share."

I sat listening to everyone stand up and share, and I'm still so hungry I ate everything on my plate. I know one day, I'll be so full I'll be able to share too. I'm the poor kid and I'm so glad I've surrounded myself with full people. Most of these people have went to this church for years, many grew up here and know only this church. I've never seen anything like it.

I prayed this morning that I wouldn't overlook anything God wanted me to see today. I asked him help me see EVERYTHING He wants to show me, and overlook nothing. I didn't want to waste anything...so I'm thrilled I cleaned my plate today with not a crumb dropped to my knowledge.

I walked outside those church doors and in the dark I saw a child. Though legally blind, she was looking up at the top of the church. I knelt beside her. "Whatcha lookin' at?" She didn't change her gaze but spoke, "I'm lookin' at the light." And I looked up and saw the church's steeple brightly lit with little cross on top. I asked her if she could see the cross and she slowly moved her eyes around until she smiled and said, "uh-huh."

Some people only need a little light to see. I'm thankful, my church shines for me too and that my friends, was enough for one day. But He gave me one more bite.

When we got home, I asked my daughter, "How do you think our preacher knew we were hungry?" She knew exactly what I was talking about and she thought for a minute and she said, "Jesus tells him." And you see why I can't wait til Sunday?

I'm just stocking the pantry!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It's kind of like...

Walking through those glass doors, every single visit is kind of like...

...waking up when you're on vacation at the beach. You hear only the calm waves crashing, you see the sun rising and it is the most beautiful day. You smell sea salt in the air and the birds stall mid-air right in front of your balcony as you sit drinking coffee. You have to be absolutely nowhere other than right where you are.

...walking through trails in late October when the trees are donating their leaves to the earth below. You see nothing but color everywhere from the generous limbs and you can feel the cool air sting deep within your lungs but you want nothing more than another refreshing breath. The crows in the background sitting high atop the bare oaks actually sound pleasant and you're glad you chose to walk instead of riding on ATVs.


...staying outside when raindrops begin to fall. The summer's heat has burned your nose and your shoulders but the icy cool rain feels too good to pass up. You look up to the clouds and smile at Heaven because it hasn't rained in weeks. You finally run to the front porch where you watch as the all the living things around you look up and smile, just like you had done. As the puddles fill you watch the ripples each drop brings and before you know it...the sun is no longer hidden behind the cloud. Life around you turns the most vibrant color of green. Birds are chirping and as you look up to thank God one last time for such visions, He places a rainbow in the field by your porch, and you stay there...

Yeah, it's kinda like that. It's hard to describe in words what my church is like...but if I had to, I'd say it's like that.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Hangin' On

Last night at our service, we were told that "ready or not, we're going to die." Adults realize that, death is a natural part of all living organisms' life cycle. But the bad news is that we don't necessarily get to determine when that occurs. Brother Jimmy talked about a friend who held on to life, longer than he should because he thought he needed to. It wasn't until a family member went in there and told him it was okay, that he let go.

The story is very similar to my Paw Paw. He had congestive heart failure. I remember being in seventh grade, and watching the clock all day at school when he had triple bypass surgery. I was very nervous for him but he came through it all great. As the years went by though, his heart could take no more. I was around age thirty when  the family was called in to bid our goodbyes. I walked in and he had an oxygen mask on and was struggling for air. It was all I could bare to watch him suffocating and his eyes looked at mine as if to say "help me!!"

I walked up to his bed with my sister and my sweet little Maw Maw beside me. I smiled as if I wasn't worried for him (or us) at all and said, "It's okay Paw Paw. We love you and we'll take good care of Maw Maw. Try to just relax and get as comfortable as you can." And I left. Five minutes later, he was gone. I barely cried because he was suffering so, I was just happy he was no longer struggling. It's not easy letting go of people we love. But if you know Christ, sometimes it's worse to hang on. Letting go can be the biggest gift you could give them.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How can you sleep...

You know as a parent, I've made sure my kids have the basics if nothing else. A week or two ago, our preacher went over feeding, clothing, and sheltering our children and I began to realize that maybe I've not given them what they really need. Last night at the service, it hit me really hard when it was confirmed that I had not.

As a precious mother of four called out to the church how two had been Saved and two had not, she shouted through tears with sincerity, "I'd do it for the other two if I could, but I can't!" Her husband had given a powerful message just minutes before and we sang verse after verse, providing as many opportunities as possible to ensure we've done our part as a church to give the unsaved a chance to enter Heaven one day.

On the way home, I talked to my child just as I had last Sunday to her older brother. I assured her, that His hand is outstretched, and when she is ready...all she needs to do is take it. They each listened to me. Some of my most heartfelt conversations take place in the car when the distractions are minimal and I have their attention. There was a time when I had to pull over, face the back seat so they could see me speak because their ears were of little use. So I'm thankful that each Sunday, as we leave a service, I can talk to my children and make sure they understood what had taken place.

I have to question my own parenting skills and wonder how do you sleep at night if you haven't mentioned Christ today? I used to pride myself on not being selfish. I've sacrificed as a parent as most of us do, I do for others as much as I can...but I've went to bed each night knowing I'll go to Heaven if I never wake up. God gave me two children and I haven't given them what they really need. As a parent I have neglected my children in such a way that the common eye can't see. With clothes upon their backs, food in their stomachs and a roof over their heads, I have neglected their greatest need. As Brother Adam said Sunday morning as he gave his Testimony, we'll have to answer for that one day.

Our preacher was mentioning something he'd heard on the radio and quoted "Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future." Parents have huge burdens that go beyond putting food on the table. It may take sleepless nights, and it may even take every person inside those church doors, but as Christians, we have burdens.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

...and He knew it

A few months ago, I walked through the doors of my little country church assuming I'd sit on a pew, sing some songs, try to listen to as much of the sermon as possible and maybe go home with a sentence or two that could apply to me in hopes to grow as a Christian. That wasn't going to happen, and He knew it.

The church looks like many of the other country churches found nearby. They're almost a dime a dozen where I live, churches found everywhere, some right across the street from each other. But this is where I belong, and He knew it.

God has a way of showing me things. I've shared in previous posts a little about how and why I've learned not to overlook the things He sends my way. I walked into church one night, many months ago, and I saw something. It was a scar. It looked exactly like the scars my children wear on both sides of their little heads. Although, this man didn't have hearing loss, I needed to see that scar. I sat on my pew that night thinking I was in the right place. The people of this church have lived through a lot even though they all may not bare physical reminders. I didn't know at the time I was going to stay, but He knew it.

No other place can allow me to not only hear words from the Bible, but understand them too. I have a really hard time with the terminology and all of the preachers in our church do a fabulous job of not only interpreting the words for me, they tell me exactly what I need to hear in order for me to apply it to my life outside of the church doors. I in fact bring home the entire sermon isntead of the sentence or two I had expected. Today in fact, I was called out by name. I was practically beaten over the head with today's message about talents because I needed to be...and He knew it.

So with a church full of gifted people, we were encouraged to use our talents. I heard the two softest and sweetest voices today from two young ladies, I'd never heard sing before. I also heard our Pastor sing a capella and though I've been told before he could sing, his song never reached my ears until today. I began thinking, what if "they" never sang? If the lady last week, had not stepped up to that piano bench and sang (see previous post), I'd not have strolled through Heaven with my Maw Maw...even if it was only in my mind...I thought about all the times I've seen songs turn into sermons. I thought about all the times I've seen beautiful voices lift people from pews and bring them to the alter...but what if they never sang?

So we have to think about our own talents, our own gifts and use them not simply to make us happy because we have hobbies or do something well, we need to think about how we can use them for Christ. We have to realize that by wasting talents God has provided for us, we could be depriving more than just ourselves.

I have two related stories I wrote years ago. At the time I wasn't sure why God had gifted me the content but I wrote them anyway, knowing that one day, He'd show me.

The Sparrow (click here)   and   Tasting the Clouds (click here) where I find more of God's gifts!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

They Take Me...

I walked in and took a seat at my usual pew. As I've said before, I never bring in expectations, I don't need them. With each and every visit, I gain more than I could ever expect from a church.

On Sunday night, I was asked a question "What will you do for Jesus?" I've admittedly not had a lot to offer the church other than filling space. Sometimes I feel like I've been sent to The Church for the Gifted. Although I'm not Gifted myself, they all seem to be. I suspect that my non-gifted presence could be a sign that maybe they all weren't born Gifted. Maybe they all had talents, maybe not, but as they all sit under the roof of New Welcome now, they have a Gift. And what's great, is they are all Gifted in different ways so it's like sitting amongst scholars of various fields but without feeling overshadowed or belittled.

I watched in amazement as a young preacher stood bravely in front of us all with tears streaming down his cheeks. He's normally seated at the piano so I was taken back that he had more than one Gift to share this night. So I kept repeating in my head, "What will I do?"

Before I could come up with an answer, she sat down at the piano. There's more than one singer at this church that can walk to the front for a song and have me searching for a tissue box in my preparations. I held tightly to the thin Kleenex as she began to softly play and sing..."If I surveyed all the good things, that come to me from above...If I could count all the Blessings from the Storehouse of Love..."

I sat watching the pretty grandmother sing this song and I realized what was different about this church, than any other I've ever been in...They Take Me...

They take me to a place with every heartfelt Testimony...I can feel the love, the passion, the commitment, the Faith. They take me to a place with every prayer request, that let's me know-even the Gifted need prayer. And Sunday night, with this one song, she took me...

She briefly lost her voice when emotion filled her, only to have God give it right back-she looked up as she sang, as if she were talking to someone in Heaven. Tears poured into the Kleenex I held so tightly to. I pictured my own sweet grandmother and was comforted knowing I too will be strolling in Heaven one day with her.

So that's why I can't wait to go to church each time the doors open. They take me...


Sunday, September 18, 2011

And that's why

I had a very sad little girl on Tuesday. I got a text at cheer practice from her Daddy that said her beloved brown rabbit Buck had died. When I told her, she of course was heart-broken. She shouted, "God should have taken someone else's rabbit, not my Buck." But after a few minutes of tears, she came back up to me and said, "Well, Buck was sick. He's with his babies now in Heaven. I'm sorta glad God picked him today." Over the summer her rabbits had a litter and all died over a week's time. (Click here to read that story)

B's new rabbit "Blackie"
Today her Daddy made good on his promise and instead of church, the two of them went shopping at the local flea market along with the grandpa. This gave my son and I a chance to have some quality time. On the way to church, we talked about being SAVED. I asked a simple question. "Do your friends ever mention God, or do they talk about getting Saved?" Although I kind of guessed what the answer would be, he confirmed it with a "No." And that is why the rabbit died this week, that is why we had some one on one time, that is why that question came into my head.

Christ has an amazing ability to show people what they need to see. When we got to church, several things hit home...and wouldn't you know it, the message was about parenting and getting Saved. When the service was over, my child said to me "How did you know he was gonna talk about that today?" And I just smiled.

Years ago, I was shown something about this child, by God himself and I chose to turn the other cheek. As a one year old deaf child who could only cry for communication, I had decided to have a major operation, without praying about it first. A desperate mother trying to giver her child a voice, one that others could hear and understand without needing a parent's interpretation. I wanted him to hear music, hear danger, and hear my voice.

The day before his surgery, my boss passed away. He'd been living with cancer over a course of two years and had become unrecognizable to most by his physical appearance. He was a strong Christian and was proud of it. He was often found at the watercooler talking of sermons and Sunday School. I had a strong urge to reschedule my son's surgery because I wanted, and needed to say goodbye to my boss. But instead of praying, I knew what was best and showed up at the hospital. With my baby in tow, I signed him up quickly for the four hour surgery. So quickly in fact, I didn't notice all the paper work had the wrong ear listed. A nurse caught the error, his surgery was delayed while new paper work had to be drawn, and then signed. When they finally took him back, I was almost sick with the thought that it was just all wrong. But I turned the other cheek, handed my baby over. I was a nervous wreck, and after four and half hours with absolutely NO WORD from the operating room on his condition, I began to panic. Soon a nurse flung open the doors to find us in a large and almost empty waiting room. She said nervously, "The doctor wants to see you in private."

Can you imagine the thoughts in a parent's head? I knew I should have listened, obeyed but I didn't. I denied that it was God trying to show me the way. With my heart beating rapidly the doctor told us, he had to abort the surgery. He couldn't even identify parts of my child's ear because they were so microscopic and malformed, he just didn't recognize the cochlea...the one part he needed to place the device that could change my child's life. He also told us that his face was paralized on the right side.

Gage with facial paralysis
But you know what? The Lord forgave me, and then I forgave myself. So I for one, know that when you turn the other cheek, you'd better make sure it isn't The Lord trying to speak to you. And that's why I pray when I need guidence. It's easier to get the right directions when you just ask for them first instead of driving around on the assumption you'll know where you're going when you get there.

(to be continued)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Planting Pennies

A child asked her mom to plant a penny, to see if they could grow money. As cute as it sounded, the mother had to tell the child, that you can't grow pennies...or can you?

One day, a couple of years ago, my phone rang. I'd been mentoring families for years who have special needs children, in particular, those who have children with hearing loss. When I found a nervous Mom on the other end of the line, I listened. To my surprise, this was someone in our school district for a change. She had a child starting school the same time my deaf daughter would begin, but she was relieved to know I had another deaf child who would be in third grade. Having a parent who has been there done that can really ease a worried mind. We talked for probably over an hour if I had to guess and she closed the conversation with sincere gratitude, appreciation and a remark I'll never forget..."I think God has sent you to us for a reason." With that subtle comment, I knew who Penny was. And with that subtle comment, she planted a penny...

As it turns out, our girls are now the best of friends and compliment each other like no two children I've ever met. Both of Penny's children live in a much darker world than we do. Their visual impairments may not allow them to look at people in the eyes...instead, they look at people in the heart. My children may not hear each and every word to the hymns we sing, but instead they feel the songs through the stomping feet and the hands tapping the pews. Her children can hear what mine can't and my children can see things her children never will. But all four of those babies can feel more than the common man.

I may have helped Penny in the beginning but what she doesn't realize, is how much she's been helping me. The penny she planted years ago, has grown and matured with her help and is worth more now than any amount of money. She's one of the reasons I found my church. She's one of the reasons I believe in planting Pennys because one day, I want to be like her.

One of our sermons this week was being a play maker. Penny made a huge play last week at school. She walked up to the Principal she once feared and asked if she could start a parent prayer group at school. I had my doubts with it being on school property but to my surprise, she got it approved. The soft hearted Mom of two is absolutely fearless when she is working for God. I'm proud of her and I hope that one day, I plant more Pennys. We could use more soldiers like her.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Investment

I finally found my Bible. Not the one that has been packed away for years in a cedar trunk, that reeks of storage. A new one. I've wanted one for months and have spent countless hours searching for the one online. I treated it like an investment and searched all my options until I knew exactly what I wanted. I finally decided to take a detour off the interstate yesterday and see if I could find a book store. I found a Family Christian Store instead and there it was...



I knew I wanted some pink on the outside, just because. I knew I wanted large print, just because. I knew I wanted a case, just because. I knew I wanted tabs, just because. I'm very excited about this Bible and know that I will put it to good use. I know my friends at church will be proud for me.

I am so glad I joined that church. I can picture me there on Sundays with grand babies running around the pews. It still amazes me how each individual there has such strong Faith and when you put them all under one roof during church service, it's enough to rattle the rafters...

I had planned on waiting on my husband to join with me but God decided I couldn't wait. He'll have to join in his own time if he feels moved to do but he's completely happy for me. I've made a commitment to my church. I've made an investment in Christ, and I'll be stronger for it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I'm Gettin Ready to Leave This World

Today, I almost didn't even pack tissue for church. I just felt so glad to be here another day, I felt so glad to be able to get out and go to church this morning, and I simply doubted that a single tear would fall.

The singing was good this morning. I felt that good ole Southern, hand clappin', feet stompin' kinda Spirit. We sang "I'm Gettin' Ready to Leave This World" and instead of crying, I smiled.

As the Preacher spoke, shouted, and was even lifted off the ground he'd been so filled with the Word of God, I couldn't help but think how blessed I was to have another day, another hour, another minute with my family, friends, and my church, I just couldn't see making use of the lone piece of tissue that peered from the top of my purse...I doubted that tear would fall.

He then read a scripture (Hebrews 13:8) that said how Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever. As I began to really think about the size of Christ, a single tear fell from my eye. This is the same Christ that my sweet little Maw Maw used to pray to, and now lives with. I imagined how she must have prayed the day her newborn died, just the same as she prayed the day her grown son was also called Home. I wondered what she said to Him the day Paw Paw left this Earth and I wondered what she said to Him the day she too finally went Home. She used to tell me all the time, "I've been here a long time," and I knew she was looking forward to that Final Day when she'd return Home where she really belonged.

She prayed to the same Christ that I prayed to the day I had my first child, and the doctor's didn't seem to have all the answers. This is the same Christ that picked me up years later when doctors were telling me my child's face was paralyzed during a surgery. This is the same Christ that put me in my car, and drove me to my new church. This is the same Christ that my husband knows and my children will grow up around. It's the same Christ that gave me that good old Southern, hand clappin', foot stompin' kinda feeling this morning. I am continued to be Blessed by the Lord.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I didn't want to leave

As I packed my purse for church this morning, my daughter asked me, "why do take so much tissue?"  I smiled and said, "because I know I'll cry...a lot."

As the members began to sing, the chills filled my arms and the tears spilled from my eyes. The tissues I had packed were saturated quickly as the beautiful voices rang through me. Hands were raising, hands were clapping, and I didn't want to leave...

As always, more voices spoke, while other voices prayed, and some voices were only heard by God. There never seems to be enough tissue no matter how much I bring. A choir full of boys stood up front with the lone voice of a lady, and I didn't want to leave...

More church members knelt at the alter and I prayed on my pew. I've never been in a group with the Spiritual depth these people bring, and I didn't want to leave...

The preacher's daughter belted out with pride how glad she was to be in God's hands now. I can't imagine how it would have been for me at her age to have had one of my friends stand up and give Praise like that. Back when I was Saved, I was about her age and no one really guided me on what to do next. I'm so blessed to be in such a room full of outstanding Spiritual role models, no matter what their age, and I didn't want to leave...

Through swollen eyes that burn from salty tears, I'm happy to say, I don't have to leave. I asked to be a part of the church for good today, and luckily they accepted me. I don't have a pretty voice to offer, I don't even have a Bible yet, but hopefully together we'll find a way for me to contribute something.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Voice

She walked up in front of the church, with a paper in her hand. On it, were the words to a song she sang a cappella. I'm not sure how she made it through that entire song as most of the congregation approached the altar and bowed in prayer. Tears spilled onto the carpet as her lone voice rang throughout the church.

I started there on a visit. (read here) I had every intention of visiting a long list of churches I'd been invited to recently. I assumed that we'd visit that little country church once a month when it fell on rotation with all the other churches. But it was actually voices like this, that made me stay.

As I sat through service this morning, there was an unusual calmness in the preacher's voice. I was worried he was lacking confidence in his message. His usual confident, loud, enthusiastic "spittin' and hollerin'" as he calls it, wasn't present today. As I listened however, the best thing happened. He was discussing forgive and forget. He talked about each of us having enemies in some form or fashion. I thought of mine...

Some of my biggest blessings were given by my enemies. I actually arrived at that church because of an enemy. In fact I was practically driven there extremely fast and dumped on the steps by one. As a Christian, I found it not too difficult to forgive this enemy. As a sinner, I held on tightly to the fact I didn't have to forget the hurt and damage the enemy has caused. As the preacher looked me in the eye at times, a large weight of anger was lifted from my shoulders. I had been allowing the harm to continue each day, sometimes holding on to the anger with bloody fingernails my grasp was so tight. And for the first TRUE time this morning, I forgave, and I forgot. I walked up to the altar and prayed for the enemy with only good intent...and it felt good, real good. I couldn't wait to come back to tonight's service.

I arrived to the little chapel almost giddy. I walked in my usual three minutes late and WOW, what a feeling. The room seemed packed and The Spirit was definitely in the room. Hands were clapping and I heard the voices. Feet were stomping and heads were swaying and every sound soaked into me for I wasn't blessed with the ability to return the gift of song. You won't see me with a mic in my hand, ever. I again went back to the altar tonight and all I could think of was how blessed I was to be in that room. Just the fact that God loved me enough, to let me enjoy that, let me be a part of that, witness a church full of Spirit-filled folk.

On the way home, my eyes were stinging from salty water that has poured from them today. I am exhausted, I am full, I am thankful.