Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Angels

I was visiting a friend that lived not too far from my church. I told her I was about to go listen to someone from The Angels speak, a cancer survivor was going to share her story. My friend knew I'd be crying soon. She spoke of another woman from The Angels which is a group of ladies who gather in fellowship for Spiritual growth each week. The friend told me that the lady had visited her church once to share her own story of a different kind...and she assured me that she will never forget it. So when I walked in at the meeting last night, I knew that it was the beginning of a story I'd never forget...

Other friends were arriving, many were ladies from our church and we all took seats facing the lady who was about to share one of the most personal stories that The Lord had written for her. We often get caught up in the flesh and we think we have everything planned, often down to the last minute of every day but truth be told, HE holds the script. There are times when things don't go exactly like we imagined, but in the end, HE always has something better if we just let HIM take us there...something I was reminded of in a recent Devotion.

I sat next to the lady my friend spoke of, and found comfort in the shadow of her wisdom, her strength and her compassion. Without even preparing, words can leave her lips that can shelter you from a storm or help you find beauty even in the most common days. I always think of the light she spoke of once that a neighbor leaves on in their house. She said it was always comforting to pass by and see that the light was always on. Such a common occurrence to many, but not to this Angel, and no longer to me...

I placed tissues on the table for anyone who might be in need and I placed a single folded piece atop my Bible, so I could grab it when I needed it. It was within the first few sentences my eyes got warm and my vision blurred. I left the tissue on my Bible so I could feel the tears run down my cheek. I try not to wipe away the first few I shed. Having a child of no tears, I know this can come as a privilege so I try not to shamefully wipe them away when they first appear. She gave us words from a journal she kept during her time of sickness, and she gave us words from her heart she was given only after her time of sickness. There was a thin silence at times. With only sniffles to be heard, it felt like we had all turned into fragile glass for just a moment. I thought if anyone spoke too loudly or spoke in the flesh, we could break, and it felt good to be that fragile...

As we left, a friend of mine drove behind me almost all the way. I kept watching in my mirror at her lights and I found comfort in knowing she was behind me as we traveled the dark roads that led us back to our houses. After she turned and I was almost alone, I was thankful for the light He was giving me. I thought of how lonesome it would be to reside in the dark. I didn't always have lights from others and I didn't always have a light for a friend but this night, I was glad He had given me The Angels. I am blessed for the wise who share their stories. Even through their valleys, they are leaving the light on for someone else. There are many who can't find their way in the dark. There are many who will depend on these lights. I don't deserve it, but everywhere I look these days, people are leaving lights on for me, and I am very thankful for that.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

His Story

It's rare The Lord blesses me with two stories from one service, but today, He did just that. For quite some time I've had this on my heart but it wasn't until today that it made complete sense to me. There was a teen that once sat on the pews of my little country church. His family members are very strong individuals and important pieces of our church and graciously share their very touching stories with us from time to time. Often, this teen's name comes up in our services and it's unfortunate that I never had an opportunity to meet him while he was here. He was called Home many years ago but his story is still being told to this very day.

One day, I was at this teen's high school he attended just before his accident. I asked the secretary if she remembered him, and she said "No, doesn't sound familiar. I've only been here a few short years so that was before my time here." I walked to the next office as someone had overheard my conversation and she too had arrived years after his passing. I became quite frustrated as I wanted to prove, he had been there, been here. I saw a stack of yearbooks and began my frantic search to show people, this kid was here, and he has touched many people, I've heard the stories to prove it. A familiar voice entered the room as he sang a hymn under his breath, as he often does during his janitorial duties at the school. He could tell I was desperate to find something and I then asked him if he remembered...

His voice changed and he not only called the teen by name, but called out the names of his parents and even named the night of the week, which he was called Home. I breathed a sigh of relief as finally someone in that room knew his story. I turned the page of the year book in my hands, and there was his picture. It was his tenth grade photo before my eyes and I laid it out on the table for everyone to see. "He was here! See, he was here."

Today after church the teen's mother spoke to me. She was talking about how everyone has a story, and we know they are all different, but the emotions are usually very similar, no matter what the individual story holds. I thought of the ladies who had survived various types of cancer, and I knew they had stories. The Lord gives us trials and He gives us stories. If we never tell our stories, people forget. We could be silencing Praises that He deserves for bringing us through them. A single story could lead someone closer to Him. I looked around the room and I was blessed to have heard stories today...stories of Him.

There was a time when I had no stories to hear. There was a time when I had no stories to tell. There was a time when I forgot how wonderful He really is and I am a Blessed Christian today, because He gives me stories.

From the Push

I could tell by his chuckles, The Lord had laid something on his heart. I've grown accustomed to the Spiritual laughter that he spills from time to time. It being a Wednesday night, he sat on the second pew in front of me instead of the usual front-which many refer to as The Preachers' Pew since most that sit there are indeed preachers. He began to Testify and something caught my eye over at the frosted window just on his other side. It was a moth. The darkness outside embraced our little church and I thought about what it must look like from the outside. The warm light must be attractive from out there as it continued to flutter against the cool pane. The man's voice grew and his body and head moved back and forth as the inflection in his words rose. I was thankful I was on the inside, in this light.

This morning our little country church was packed with those eager to Praise and Worship. I suddenly became aware that I was sitting on the second pew, right where the man had sat just days before. The light from outside was so bright it seemed to shine right down where I was sitting. I looked for the moth knowing it wouldn't be there, and it was gone. I could see people fanning their faces as the church grew warmer and warmer. With the sun beaming down on my skin I wondered why I was so comfortable and not filled with heat.

Several people spoke of the two ladies who were in this morning's service, that have both survived breast cancer. One will be speaking to The Angels group at our church Tuesday night and the other, is the wife of the man who chuckles. All of their family and friends had gathered for a walk/run charity event yesterday and it was wonderful to hear about the encouragement they found in each other, within the entire group.

That familiar chuckle began as he shouted out encouragement to those who Testified. His Spiritual laughter grew stronger until he finally stood and admitted, he was about to give up during that race, but someone from behind, placed their hand on his back, and gave him a push. He told us all that every now and then, we need that little push to not give up. As he spoke, the church seemed to brighten with more light but I was sitting in a pleasant chill. My arms filled with goosebumps as he told us his story. Tears were rolling from the cheeks of many. I kept thinking of the moth clinging to the pane, wanting ever last bit of light he could find. I became the moth as I watched and listened today as everyone filled that little church with light, and I wanted every last drop. I found encouragement today, just from the push of another, and I am undeserving, but thankful just the same.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

This Seat is Saved

I shook my head no at the little girl who knew saving seats in the lunchroom was against the rules. Her eyes sadly looked down at the round seat next to her and she removed the leg she had draped across it moments before in hopes I wouldn't have notice it. I immediately wondered if I had done the right thing. What if she needed a friend that day?

I continued to watch the child until I was certain she was wearing a genuine smile and I thought of church, as I often do throughout my days. I thought of pews filling up and friends that haven't made it through the glass doors yet, and I knew, I couldn't save them seats either. Our little church is growing and on some Sunday mornings it seems that we'll run out of space before everyone gets in, but somehow, there's always enough room.
I could barely make it through the day without thoughts of past worship services entering my mind. Each and every minute of quiet time was filled with comfort knowing that HE was saving me a seat in Heaven right at that very minute...

I smiled as I drifted back in thought at tough and uncertain times in my life...and there HE was, saving me a seat in that little country church. No friend, no matter how great, could rightfully save a seat for me. All these years and He thought enough of me to place me in His House to learn, to see, to feel, and to worship with the ones I call the gifted. I had a flashback of myself sobbing with a gut wrenching empty cry to The Lord which HE filled with just enough strength to keep me going another day, and I teared up knowing, HE was already saving me a seat...

Over the years there have been so many times, I've had to remove burdens that I could no longer carry and HE was there to carry them for me. I could not see into the future, I had no idea that there was pew waiting for me. With countless prayers I've lifted from my own home knowing I had a seat in Heaven, I had accepted the fact that there was no special pew that could give me anymore than I could find in my own back yard. With the passing years, I had even forgotten about church. You don't have to go to church to get into Heaven I would tell myself...

One day, I found myself without the reminders of how wonderful HE is to others. Relying on myself for worship services, I looked around and I saw my children. I couldn't give them what I already had and I realized how poor I had become. I asked...and HE gave. The glass doors we never knew were even there, opened up one day, and I claimed a seat on a pew. I am extremely unworthy of any seat HE has saved for me. I am extremely Blessed that HE has refilled my life with all the reminders of how wonderful HE is to others. I still find prayer in my own back yard, but the depth of worship found inside those glass doors is richer than any gold found here in the flesh...that is something I can give my children. I am just extremely grateful for the seat HE's saving for them...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Never be the Same

My right arm kept shaking, as if someone had a hold of it, jerking it around to get my attention. With each and every song I slipped further into a Spiritual awareness that left my body on a pew, in the middle of a worship service while my Spirit could feel His presence. My one arm continued to shake as the tall man stood by his mother, who was seated at the piano. His whole family had been sick the week prior, including his mother and he was worried his voice might not carry the tune to hold the passion of the song...but it did. In fact, I think it was his best song yet. I had to close my eyes during parts of the song just to accept the words.

I could see my husband wipe his eyes as several stood to flood the church with Testimonies, as The Spirit moved around that little country church. Every person I looked at had a drop of silver under their eyes as He Touched on different ones. A tiny teenage girl stood and asked that we begin Fellowship as the next song started. It wasn't long after that another tiny teenage girl was at The Altar, and we witnessed The Miracle of Christ being accepted into her heart...she will never be the same.

The preacher soon stood and felt a need to deliver a sermon. He talked about my children. He began with the fact that some people in our church can't physically see, hear, or feel the way most people can. He went on to discuss that Spiritual void that many people carry around, even to the churches, and I began to drift away in thought. I tried to imagine how it would feel to sit through a Spirit filled service such as this, and just watch without seeing, hear without listening, and touch without feeling...

In my mind, I drifted even farther back to the day my son was born. One of the first things I thought as they handed me a baby full of the uncertain over eleven years ago, was that he would never hear my voice. He would never hear how his great-grandmother's words shook with age as she called us all "Sugar". He would never hear church bells ring or the sound of my favorite songs playing in the car. He would never hear the words "I love you." I thought about the Devotion from Wednesday night about prayers going unanswered, because He has something better...

I took that baby home knowing he couldn't hear me. I told that baby I loved him, knowing he was in silence. I played music for the child with no sound...and he began his life feeling instead of hearing. He would cuddle in my arms and fall asleep as he felt my songs. He smiled at his mother's eyes because he could see and feel my love and nearly four years later, The Lord decided to add a world of sound to that child's life, and to his little sister's life as she followed him into that silent world...

I looked over at both of my children who were glued to the preacher and a tear came to my eye. There they both sat as deaf children, listening to church. It gave me hope for the lost people I know. There are so many that never see the inside of a church and there are so many that have a Spiritual void, but as Christians, we must sing to them anyway. As the tall man once said, "I'll go ahead and claim it, He'll reach down and Touch my children one day," and someday soon, they'll be sitting on one of those pews with silver under their eyes, feeling church, and they'll never be the same.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Robber

I had been up praying in the middle of the night. Simple problems in the flesh...and even more complex Spiritual battles I needed to conquer, left me on bended knees and in a pool of tears in my living room floor just after midnight. A renewed commitment from me to The Lord came with conditions that HE would take lead once again, and help me walk through the fires of distraction, to finish what HE told me to do...

With that relief, I was lifted off the floor and I sat down in the chair to relax my exhausted eyes and immediately, small distractions tried to rob me of the rest HE intended me to receive. I heard my own voice speak "NO" as I knew the devil would send for my peace. In my head I started singing with every ounce of strength I had left "Peace, Peace, wonderful Peace...coming down from the Father above..." I walked quickly back to the bedroom where my husband slept and I crawled back inside that warm bed, knowing that I had received (and retained) that peace that nobody could to take from me...

Even with this renewed focus, I will still require many prayers of my own, and perhaps from others, to finish what I am supposed to do. If for nobody else, He's doing it for me...

When I got to church this morning, she spoke. Her broken voice told that she too had been praying, looking for a peace and the devil came right up and put something else in her head to distract her from The Lord, and His Grace, and His Mercy. Our preacher mentioned a very similar topic as well, and I knew that HE was always listening...
I know what I need to do, I know what I want to do, I know what I have to do...He has already shown me more that I ever thought I would see while here...and not all of it has been a barrel of fun either, I've seen things I never wanted to see...but I also am content knowing HE is trusting me with something and all I need to do is return that trust. I hope that The Lord has Mercy on me once more as I attempt to finish what He has asked of me. I know I may have to see other things that my eyes deem unpleasant, but I hope to soon place back into His hands a completed task...from there I have no idea where He'll lead, but that is the road I'm taking...