Monday, April 23, 2012

That Tree

I couldn't believe how well I rested last night. I awoke singing church hymns in my head. I scurried to get my coffee ready so I could watch the sun, which was about to rise outside. I sat at the table and watched patiently. I looked to my favorite tree. This tree never looks the same to me, it changes every single time I looked at it. There's always something new I didn't see before, and today was no exception.

As I sat on the bench peering out across the field at the tree, I felt like I was back at church, on that bench anticipating something great. I sipped my coffee quickly so I wouldn't miss a thing. With everything still around me, I saw the tree begin to move. Not side to side as if a strong wind approached with intent to change the tree. It moved from within. A simple stirring seemed to come up through the tree and exit from every direction. Without swaying each and every leaf twisted and turned gently with excitement. It was as if the leaves were all there to greet the morning sun as it began to show itself over the horizon.

A smiled rose upon my face that wrinkled my aging eyes. I kept looking at the other trees in my yard, and they were as still as could be, but not this tree, not my favorite tree. Each leaf continued to spin , shimmering as the sun gave them more and more light but the branches stood still, anchoring each leaf.

I want to be that tree. So eager each morning to greet whatever The Lord has in store for us, that's what makes that tree different. That's what makes it beautiful, to me. It takes something as simple as the sun rising to stir it.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Warm

The Blessings didn't stop yesterday. In fact, I was up most of the night on the receiving end as they poured from Above, one after the other. Tears fell from my eyes but there was no sadness as a smile graced my faced in the dark hours of the night. I lied in my bed knowing He'd give me rest when I needed it. I think I slept about two and half hours total and when I got to church this morning, I found out I wasn't the only one He'd Awakened last night. I knew before I even stepped inside the doors this morning, we'd go straight into Meeting, into Worship. The kids were chatting on the way there about Sunday School and I told them that we likely wouldn't have it this morning, I had the feeling.

As we left for church, we had felt the cool brisk morning air greet us as we ran through the strong wind to the car. I felt suddenly at ease as the paved road welcomed my family, leading us in the right direction. I was keenly aware...of everything, again confirming for me that He was especially near us today. As my husband drove us closer and closer to our little country church, I closed my eyes to just feel the warm upon my face. The same warm that I noticed as walked past the windows inside my house this morning. The kinda warm that's so inviting it draws more than just insects to the glass panes to bask in the light. The sound of tires meeting the pavement was comforting, because I knew where I was going, and what was awaiting. I began to feel everything...the birds in flight, the flags blowing in the wind, the trees that were bearing fruit, I could feel Him in everything that my eyes surveyed this Sunday morning, and it felt good.

My breaths were deep and clear as a Deacon stood before us all and told a touching story that began what I knew we had all come to do...worship and praise The Lord. One after the other, they were obeying Him, and I could feel His Spirit moving throughout the little church. The Deacon's child sat on our pew and heads were turning towards her tiny frame as she belted words to the hymns we all sang. A grown man stood and told his Mama he'd meet her in Heaven if he didn't live another day. He told his daughter to call her brother and give him the good news that Daddy was with The Master and we were all moved to tears.

I'm very thankful for what I've felt over the last couple of days. I've let life lead me for a couple of weeks now, and I am so glad that He's always there for me, even when I let Him down. I had been trying and trying to get back where I needed to be, and He has sent His Grace once again. I can't imagine not having Him, and just living to keep from dying like I see so often. I am thankful for the warm, the love and the Grace.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Blessing

I don't always know when a Blessing is coming my way. Sometimes, out of nowhere, one will fall into my lap and the surprise of it all will draw tears from my eyes. Sometimes however, I am aware that one is on its way. I get these internal chill bumps all over, not visible to the eye but a prickling under my skin that tells me to watch closely.

This morning, on the way to buy groceries of all things, I got the feeling. I was at the top of the mountain right were I turn to go to church when I suddenly became aware that a Blessing was coming for me. My eyes darted quickly, looking around for it. I realized I was smiling the whole time my eyes searched from the tree tops to the child sitting next to me. What could it be this time?

As my car descended from the mountain we approached a church at the bottom of the hill. I could see people gathered together of all ages, holding hands with heads lowered. They were having a circle prayer. I teared up as my heart felt warm, knowing that they loved Him too.

While shopping for groceries, I had an unexpected Blessing as an elderly man watched me select the perfect container of my son's favorite chicken salad. I picked up one container but put it back down and reached for the one I wanted to take home. The old man smiled at me and said, "They all cost the same, so I don't blame you for picking the one that suits you best. There's always that one that seems to be a little bit better than the rest." All I could offer was a polite smile and a quick verbal agreement but I repeated what he said over and over until I found myself back to that same spot, where the chills had filled me an hour before...right where I turn off to go to church...and I realized what He meant.

I've spent years in and out of churches, always as a visitor. Nothing really suited me until I arrived at New Welcome. Even though I saw all the churches equal in value, I knew when I walked through the doors of my church a year ago, that this is the one that suits me best. There's nothing more nourishing, healthy and fulfilling as the one picked by Him.

I was thankful that The Lord sent me such a Blessing, even on a Saturday morning as I was headed out for one of the most dreaded tasks of the week. He is everywhere.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Echo

I was fortunate to get out early this morning and attend an early morning Sunrise Service near my home. As we left the warmth of the church to take our seats outside where chairs had been placed, the cold was there to welcome us. Many wrapped their legs in blankets but I knew The Lord would bring me comfort, even though I wasn't really as prepared as the others for these temperatures. I thought how little it was of me to even consider the cold an inconvenience when nails were driven through His flesh...for me.

I could see the preacher's breath as he told of how Mary went to that empty tomb. I could see my own body tremble as my skin greeted the crisp Easter morn, but I felt warm. The voice of the preacher echoed throughout the countryside. I thought of those people that were coming out for the Sunday paper, or to feed the animals, or just watch the sunrise. How wonderful it was that they too were hearing his voice this morning. The story of The Son Rising crept through pine needles, over the little streams, and onto the porches of everyone in the path of the echo.

Thank you to The King, to The Savior, to Jesus Christ who died for me, and for you. Have a very Blessed Easter...The Son has Risen

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Different (part 2)

...and I was right to think there would be something special waiting for us at revival. Almost immediately, people were standing in Praise, Testifying about how wonderful Christ has been to them and for them. It didn't take long before we all became one. One church full of people from different areas, even from different church buildings, but this night, we were suddenly one church full of people, there to worship and praise The Lord.

I heard a piercing silence when he started to speak. Everything went into slow motion, and I knew The Spirit had come. He was telling another story that I knew he'd been born to tell, and I was nearly on the edge of my seat awaiting each word. I was aware that even the breath from my body had become measured so I wouldn't miss a thing. The man on the front row that touches the engraved cross with his right hand on the side of his pew, was telling of his mother. She's sat through countless services in that church during her many years here, and she had grown tired and weak in body. Just weeks earlier I had watched him come back to her pew, wrap his arms around her, and become a child once again. He hugged her tiny frail body and said, "Mama I love you." Though she had grown very weak and tired over the last couple of weeks, The Lord had decided she would stay here a little longer. Her grown son spoke through tears as love for his Mama poured out of his heart and over his lips.

A beautiful voice from over near the piano complimented his exact story and I wept. The singer's voice broke as emotion filled her, but she sang it anyway...
and I saw that they were different...
There were many times when I was young,
I saw tears in mama's eyes,
And I didn't know what things it was,
That made my mama cry.
But as the years went by,
I understood each tear,
Mama cried for her children,
While she was living here.
And she prayed,
"Lord please save my children,
I'm asking you today..."

As a mother who prays everyday to please come Save her children, I had no way of stopping this flood that fell onto my lap. Her voice was both radiant and sorrowful at the same time, and He slowed everything down for me. My jaw began to tremble just like Maw Maw's used to do. I tried to smile my way through the powerful message He was sending our way but the words just rippled in slow motion down through my chin, because I'm Pluma's Grandaughter...and He knows that well.

A gathering at The Altar where so many times I've watched knees bending two by two is where He led me. A mother led this pack of hungry sinners and I followed, again in slow motion. I could ask for nothing. But I whispered out loud, "Thank You Jesus." My jaw eased its quake immediately and my body relaxed. More tears poured as the loving mother stood and found her son amongst the herd. With everyone else seated, they stood and embraced tightly. A small little boy with brown hair ran up to them, and wrapped himself around his daddy's leg, and there stood the three, and I knew that they were different....

The three parted and two sat down, and one did not. I didn't turn around, but a voice I've never heard, left the grown man's body. Though he speaks and sings often, I'm certain that this particular voice has never been heard by my ears. Like the other man, he too had become a child again, and thanked his family, including his own wife. He loves his Mama for everything that she is, and everything she's not. I listened to every word hoping The Lord would slow it down one more time for me this I could remember everything.

I wasn't brought up in that church, but they've accepted me as if I had been. I can't change the fact that it's taken me this long to pray, to worship, to Praise and to grow, like I wish I could say I've spent my whole life doing. But with one look over at my child on the pew next to me...I knew I was different. My heart felt three sizes bigger when I left that church, knowing that my kids will be able say, "I've grown up in this church." I know that He'll reach down one day and answer my prayers. Lord Please Save My Children
Today I'm so thankful for His Blessings which include placing me among The Different.

The Different (part 1)

I sat down at the teacher's table in that noisy cafeteria as a nobody. Some of the teachers know my name because I've answered their desperate calls to work for them when unexpected emergencies arise but to most of the students, I'm no one. They rarely ask my name and if I give it to them, by the end of class I'm referred to as Umm Mrs Umm What Was Your Name Again?

I looked around the busy room at all the tables, hoping to recognize some of the kids I was responsible for that day. I saw a familiar student, somewhat of a class clown from what I can remember, take a seat at the bare end of a table. He was the first of his class to make it through the line with a tray of food he stacked high with teenage nutrition. He touched his fork but left it on the tray and brought up two fingers and placed them on his temples and lowered his head. My first thought was that he was sick but then I noticed his lips moving. Another teen, sort of a rough and tough kid with a loaded tray of food sat down next to him. He too reached for his fork but left it there as he saw his friend raise his bowed head and begin to eat. He then lowered his own head and covered his eyes and I saw his lips move. They were praying.

They were different. Of all the people in that room, they were most likely the only ones that chose to give thanks before eating. I realized that I should try to be less ordinary. I too, wanted to be different. I knew that He must have something special planned for us later on at revival, to be visiting me in a high school cafeteria full of noise and distraction.

I was smiling before I knew it. It didn't really matter if anybody in that room knew me or even pretended to, The Lord knew my name and He cared enough about me to let me know...
(to be continued)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

With Their Voices

It's revival time at our little church. Chatter filled the air as everyone greeted one another in casual conversation. On the front pew sat a man in a nice suit, and a child in a nice green shirt. I wondered if this man was the preacher chosen to deliver the messages as his eyes fell onto his open Bible.

Soon, the first song began and I was comforted to hear strong familiar voices from behind me. I never had to turn my head, I knew exactly to whom they belonged. After only a couple of songs, a small group of strangers walked to the front, including the two from the front pew. They stood closely together as if they were all from the same family and with their voices, they filled the small church.

In amazement at their healthy and enormous voices, I found myself counting their heads. How could there be so few of them, and yet sound like an entire choir of people? I watched as one of the smallest of boys kept looking up as he attempted to remember the words. He and his twin stood side by side but even with so many eyes in his direction, he only looked up. I looked over at an older boy, the child with the green shirt from the front pew, and he too was looking up. They sang with a solid confidence that cascaded around the small room. I watched the boy in the green shirt as he swayed back and forth. He inhaled deeply before before releasing each burst of words that drew us in for more. I found myself watching the child with curious eyes. How could someone so young, sing with that kind of passion? His knees bent slightly as if he were lifting each word up so high, he had actually bend low to pick the next one up. I looked back at the smaller boy and his eyes were full of light. His gaze never lowered and suddenly, his lips were moving perfectly with the others as if He was carefully placing each lyric inside the boy. He began to smile. Still looking upward the tiny child was smiling as if he knew where the words were coming from. My own eyes filled with water as I felt Blessed to be there in that room.

Revival at my little country church has gotten off to a great start! I can't wait to go back tonight as I'm certain, more Blessings will pour over us all.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Family Tree

Unlike most years, I had started thinking about my birthday earlier this time, usually it passes and I am unfazed. I thought about how this year was different. I've grown so much this year Spiritually having been placed in my wonderful little country church last summer.

Church was about the only thing I had to look forward to last summer as we worked from sun up until sun down on the house we later bought. The stresses of the summer are actually what drove me to that church in the first place.

As I watched the kids play, run and laugh this week while they were home on Spring Break, I knew this Summer would be different. We don't have to fix up the house, we don't have anything on our plates, but each other, and I look forward to that. We all pitched in this week and helped my husband work a new shed he's building. He had found some old windows in the barn that he proudly placed inside his new building. He told our children that he wanted to use the old windows because they were once in his Maw Maw and Paw Paw's house, and he knew they had looked out of those windows.

When darkness came that night, I knew it would be accompanied with a digit added to my age by the time I watched the sunrise the next morning. As I was drawn to the back of the house the morning of my birthday with my coffee in hand, I couldn't wait to see what The Lord had painted in the morning sky, I could feel myself looking out of our window panes. I thought about my husband's grandparents, and how special it feels living here, knowing they too walked on the same earth as we do now, knowing they picked pecans from the same trees and knowing that our little home and yard, is all that is left now that everything else has been sold off. There's an entire family that can walk through my yard and remember things they had long forgotten until their feet hit this soil.

I want the same for my kids, and for their kids as well. I went into prayer and thanked Him for giving me one more birthday. I can't believe I've been here this long already and He's given me so much...

I tried to think of something very special to do for my birthday, something we'd always remember. I knew in my heart what I needed to do. When everyone woke, we all made a quick trip to a huge garden center and bought life. We planted strawberries in a huge pot, placed on my patio. We bought six trees for my yard. I was determined to plant a cherry tree, just like my husband's grandparents had in their yard when he was growing up. He talks about that tree all the time and I knew it was special. We searched all over the busy garden center and there it was. A single tree, neglected by all the other shoppers but it was waiting for us...a fruit bearing cherry tree. My husband said it looked a little weak so we left it there while we picked out our other trees. When we returned, the little tree was still there, waiting for us to take it home, so we did.

We planted all six trees on my 37th birthday, on a Sunday, in the warm April 1st sun. I walked around to each tree and said a prayer at each one. We will love these trees, take care of them, and look at their beauty every single day from now on. My children will grow to love these trees, and their children as well. They may one day send their kids out in the yard for apples, pears, cherries, etc. and with each fruit tell stories of what these trees have lived through. Storms that pass may take branches, snow may one day dust their limbs and song birds may rest within those leaves, and they'll know that Mama was only 37 years old when we planted them.

Even if I am no longer here, they'll remember. Even if my speech is troubled, or my hands tremble with age, they'll remember. Even if my hair is full of silver and back crooks, they'll remember. Thank you Lord for another birthday.