Thursday, December 19, 2013

HE Already Had

The crispy Autumn leaves crunched under each step I took towards the old cabin's porch. I could hear squirrels scurry to the tree tops as their nervous bodies clung to the pecans they robbed from the ground. I kept walking forward until I could hear my trod grow heavy up the steep incline. As soon as I stepped upon the wooden planks, I realized that I had not been up there in quite some time. The fresh cut wood pile smelled green and I smiled as I took it all in, knowing absence makes the heart grow fonder...

I turned and gazed at my favorite tree. The bare limbs reached high and the perfectly blue backdrop of the sky enhanced its beauty even more. I sat upon an old log and with my hands underneath my chin, elbows propped on my knees, I just watched it. It didn't have to do anything but just be. I thought that many people would mistake the bare limbs as ordinary and never see the beauty of that old tree. My vision began to blur as church began, right on that log...

I went back to two Sundays past. I was sitting on an ordinary pew in an ordinary church service and that was my fault. I looked around and saw people but I wanted to see their Jesus. If they could let their Jesus show just a little bit, if I could see Him shining through, I would be truly blessed this day, but I couldn't see HIM, and that was my fault too. So I closed my eyes in prayer and I decided to ask HIM for something else. "Bless them Lord. If you could just Bless those two right there. They've worked so hard on the Christmas play Lord, just please Bless those two." I opened my watery eyes and looked over at the two. I knew they had worked so hard on that play, it was to be performed that very night and I felt like they deserved the biggest Blessing of the day.

As church came to an end, one of the two spoke. She was announcing what time the play would start when her voice changed. She fought back tears as she described the birth of Jesus Christ and how much planning went into that day. God had planned which tree to plant to eventually be used for the manger and I fought back my own tears, because I could see her Jesus. I had asked for HIM to send her a Blessing, and right then I realized, HE already had...

I looked back at my tree, and almost shouted at how much planning HE has done for me. HE left that one tree in the field and HE knew that I would love it, when it's full of thick leaves in deep oranges, vibrant reds and sun kissed yellows or barren with its back against the painted sky, I would love it. I rose from the log and began to walk around the land. The stiff dead grass pressed underneath my shoes as I traveled across the yard, and I still had church on my mind, so I went back to last night...

I watched the preacher's son sitting next to his Mama. I smiled to myself because I knew what he was about to do. I spoke the familiar words to myself, "Lord Bless that one. Let the Blessing be his Lord. He deserves it." Soon after, he took his Bible in his hand and walked up to the front of the church, to deliver his Devotion. I took a slow deep breath in and I read the verse along with him. I listened to him say the word 'brother' and my heart hurt for him. One of his very best friends had died unexpectedly only a few short weeks ago, and this high school senior stood this night, in front of us, and spoke of his love for HIM, and his love for the one like a brother, no longer here with us in flesh. His words were broken but clear, and I could see his Jesus shining through. I took in another deep breath, not sure if I had even been breathing during his Devotion and I was mighty proud of that young man. I knew that as a child of God, as a human, as a friend of the one no longer here, he needed to do that. I'm not sure if he received his blessing that very night I had prayed for, but he will, without a doubt, he will one day. The Lord gave him that boy for quite some time and HE knew that each time they laughed together, each time they cried together, that this one would be left, standing one day in front of us, saying those words, and he couldn't do that without HIM.

Tears poured from eyes as I faced the sun. For a moment I just stood there, and felt HIM. I thanked HIM for all of these Blessings. HE didn't just give to them, HE gave to me too. I thanked HIM for the down time. Seems like I've been looking for HIM everywhere and I've seen bits and pieces but distraction has kept me from receiving. I also thanked HIM for the down time within the church for those seemingly ordinary services because I know HE has something bigger planned for us all, and I'm so very thankful for that. Pretty soon, we'll look back and say, "HE already had." So much planning for little o' me and I am forever grateful that HE ALREADY HAD.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The King is Coming

The spider's web still clung tightly to the church. I watched the silk move in the cold breeze past the pane. Last Sunday I looked over at the same web. A large hand print was perfectly placed adjacent to it and the sun lit the entire print at just the right time. I remember thinking, there are people who cling to the church, just like the spider. It's warm, it's welcoming, often, it's as close to HIM as we can get until one day after while...

This day, I saw no print, just the web. It appeared to be just as secure as has been the last few Sundays since I started watching it. I enjoy having my family next to me on the pews. I made eye contact with one of my Sunday School girls. She smiled and offered me a gentle wave with her small hand and the pews began to fill.

When the songs started, I thanked HIM for that familiar sound. Spiritual brothers and sisters bound by song sounding as one, yet voices emerged in every direction to fill the room. I closed my eyes and asked for a touch, just a small simple touch to remind me how HE feels. A young voice from the back asked the teacher of the teens to sing. Without hesitation his feet led him beside the piano. His tame voice began the words, "The marketplace is empty, no more traffic in the street, all the builders' tools are silent, no more time to harvest wheat..." I listened to every word and imagined THAT DAY as excitement began to catch fire. Though my body didn't move, I watched myself grab the hands of my children and walk in the direction of The Lord. I imagined we were outside and I was gripping them tightly. Our pace quickened and soon we were running fueled by relief, recognition and thanksgiving. We didn't have far to travel, HE was coming for us and we already knew how to get there. The singer's words roared as mighty as a lion, "The King is coming, The King is coming, Praise God, He's coming for me". A chill enclosed my heart and moved down my right arm swiftly and I was reminded where we were. My place is still on the pew, for now.

Our preacher stood with purest silver stream running from his eyes. His broken voice praised The Lord as he too had imagined That Day. Looking forward to tonight's service, looking forward to That Day when The King comes, Praise God, He's coming for me!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Shine

Common chatter filled the room and I sat quietly, knowing that it would soon begin. Music painted the air as it made its way down the aisles and I sat looking...for HIM. I silently asked of Him to just let me see. At that very moment, a shine caught my eye. I stared at that guitar and moved my mouth to the words of the songs. Every time I wanted to turn away, the shine from one of the silver tuning knobs took hold again and I just watched, and I waited. I knew He was about to Shine...

He stood, he sang, and tears fell all around his grateful words as they lunged out among the pews. You could visibly see which words struck hard enough upon the ribs of those sitting in that room, to secure a place within the very breaths that exhaled from those caught by His shine. Each time someone stood to Testify I could hear the little blue-eyed lady speaking softly from behind me. Her voice has grown small over the years but the power behind it, the confidence that strengthens it, is heard louder with each and every Sunday...for each and every Sunday, we are closer to Home.

A group of four soon stood behind the piano and the grandchild of the blue-eyed lady sat at the upright instrument. His eyes were as blue as her's, and they all began what I knew would embrace the entire church. One began to Testify and I could no longer see her through my own vision, but I listened as they sang.

I closed my eyes and quietly asked Him to please let me look at The Shine again. I opened my eyes and filled my lungs with the purest of air and I knew exactly from where it was coming. I could see my head turn to the side and I peered at the day's lantern which resides at the end of a pew. The bottom of the window was tinted green from the grass just beyond and the top was as blue as the sea. I suddenly became quite full and it was so abrupt I thought for a moment I might hear myself shout. I glanced around the room some had hands raised when some were falling to The Altar. I watched a tear fall in slow motion from the cheek of the young mother seated in front of me. Others who worship, where standing in Praises and I looked back to the pane of glass.

Something moved toward the bottom of the frame and I couldn't even blink. I was captivated by a thin spider's web. I could only see a small portion of it but the breeze that tugged it gently couldn't pull it away from the building so I knew its strength was mighty. It would twinkle with God's very breath and I was mesmerized. The Shine had a grip on me and I had no intention of turning away. I'm not sure what was happening around me anymore. I could feel tears running from my eyes but I had no desire to wipe them. I finally turned and watched the tall man standing and I knew that at the very same minute, The Lord was speaking to him. I could see it on his face. It wasn't long before he spoke of it. Again, a warm stream ran freely down to my shirt and I was honored my collar was damp, because that meant He let me feel.

This Shine that had captivated me, was so strong. I thought about how the entire web had started with just one strand. When the one was thrown, others followed. I started smiling as I had just witnessed that very same thing underneath that steeple. It only took one, someone had to be the first and look how beautiful it became. Much like the spider, this is how we feed. We need this to survive. The orbs of a web get weak and when this happens, the spider will swallow what is left, and rebuild with that same purpose, that same intent. The wind will blow and the rain will fall, but if the one who builds has intention, has purpose, and keeps Him very near, it will Shine. I am very glad for what I felt today, glad for what I still feel, glad He took the time to answer my prayer today. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

That Jesus

I've had The Cross on my mind ever since our song director stood to Testify last Sunday. He asked us to think about what The Cross meant to us. I immediately thought of my cross necklaces. I only wear them when I'm going to be away from my family, out there in the big world working. I wear a cross because it reminds me...

I find myself many times at work reaching for the cross and running my fingertips over each edge and I know that whatever I face, I've been provided a place, a permanent Home, and it's because of That Cross. Even though I know there was pain and suffering experienced by the flesh that hung there in my place, it's also the greatest love story anyone could have ever written, and it was written for me. Ever so often, a random stranger will say to me, "I like that necklace." I know they like That Cross, they like That Jesus...

Church began as expected this morning. There was an unusual silence behind the songs. Everyone sang words, and they sounded beautiful but after each breath, after each note, silence pierced the room. Not necessarily an empty silence, but an attentive silence. Today, we were to listen, and I did just that.

I took my tiny tots down to our Sunday School room and we reviewed last week's lesson. "Tell me about the sheep. There were a hundred sheep and what happened to the one?" I asked my group ages one to four. The child of a preacher man spoke up excitedly, "It got lost. We had to find it." A smile lifted my eyes as the little shepherds looked around the room for the lost one. We went on to talk about today's lesson and their eager little minds discussed how God wants us to love everyone, even if they upset us sometimes. We talked about ways to help others and be a good friend, brother, sister, neighbor, child and treat others how we want to be treated. When the bell rang, I returned them to their parents and took my seat on the pew of peace.

Again, songs filled the church and I could hear voices I've never heard before, and they all sounded full, though the quiet was still present. Our preacher eventually stood and during his message he spoke of That Jesus. He said how much he loves That Jesus that picks him up and brushes him off and encourages him when he needs it but he also loves That Jesus that will correct him when he needs it. He said that The Lord will send what he needs when he needs it and I suddenly realized I could no longer hear silence. I was hanging on every word this preacher was saying and knowing just how right he was.

I thought again of the cross. I looked around at all the little children who all know what happened on that cross. I can tell them Jesus died on it, I can explain how to be a good shepherd and love thy neighbor and honor thy Mother and Father but one day, it'll be That Cross, it'll be That Jesus that gives them Home...and that's a beautiful thing to pass on, the greatest love story ever written, and it was written for them. I love That Jesus.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Until The Sun

I've let my days fall to ordinary for a while now. Today, I walked out into the dew soaked grass to see, to feel, to breathe...anything but ordinary. A pink rose called me over and my feet took me there. She was planted there by the hands of my own child and now standing several feet high, I wondered how long she had been calling me before I took notice. I reached out to touch her soft petals and as soon as my skin touched her's, the air smelled sweeter.

 I left that rose just as I had found her and walked up to higher ground because I knew there was more. I prayed with my eyes wide open. I prayed for my children, I prayed for the church, I prayed for the man that stood before us the other night at church. He said he had been praying and praying about something but it seemed like he might need our help getting his prayers up to The Lord. So I lifted my prayers as high as I could get them this day, and I waited.

I watched the sun climb the trees right in front of me. Suddenly, the field I had been gazing at was painted with the brightest gold I'd ever seen. The trees were dressed with highlights, tinting leaves that had went unnoticed before the sun. I looked around and more flowers awakened and called my name. They had been there all the ordinary days before, but until the sun, I took no notice.

That's how it is in everything. You take the sun [The Son] out, and it's ordinary, it's shaded, it's sometimes unseen. But you add The Son to your morning, and the fields will be golden, the roses will speak and you'll see light shining on everything. Feeling awfully Blessed this morning and I'm thankful for The Son.

I ask for prayers as I begin a new journey as a Sunday School teacher. One of my first visits to our little country church, our pastor said, "Look beside you. You might be looking a future Sunday School teacher," as he spoke of our unknown futures. I never in my wildest imagination thought he was talking about me. I have lesson plans already, I have vocabulary planned out, I have all the preparations I can possibly make on my own for the age three and under class, but I know it'll be nothing until The Son shines, lighting our paths. Just like the man who stood asking our church to help lift his prayers, I'm asking for a whisper of your breath, that I will  always walk in the light and teach these babies, to seek the sun.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Underneath that Tent

My bare shoulders and legs were no match for the crisp Autumn air that had finally reached my home up on the hill but I kept walking towards the old cabin. A smile had found my face as the thought of HIS perfection surrounded me this morning. HE knew all along...

I found myself inside two different revivals within the past seven days. As I got ready for each one, I thought of old fashioned tent revivals. I just don't see those anymore and I longed for the excitement, the anticipation of being a child and walking into one of those...but I never got to. We always drove past the large white tents full of folding metal chairs and my eyes never saw what really happens underneath the tent. As a child I used to wonder why they needed so many seats because each time we drove past one after it had already begun, everyone was always standing, you could hear their shouts from the road and the multitude just spilled from the sides of the huge canvas top. But HE knew all along...

As I sat on a pew of church not far from my own, there was the most unusual voice that rang out, one I had never heard before. He carried a single voice but it sounded like a thousand and I immediately placed myself inside a tent revival and pretended the man's voice reached beyond the four walls and spilled from the sides, right onto the road outside where a child riding past could hear, and plant that longing inside her, she would carry for years to come, and HE knew all along...

Last night, I found myself on another pew even farther down the road from my home church. We knew of the preacher that was leading the services and my child and I, along with my dear friend found our way to this meeting. Again, I longed for an old fashioned tent revival. The large church with echoing footsteps upon the hardwood floors made me miss my little country church that had already started their Wednesday night service by the time my Bible was placed on a random pew. A little anxious, I looked at my friend as this church seemed to swallow us whole, and confirm that I didn't see the preacher we had thought we were coming to hear. I reminded myself that I had come to Worship, and the particulars of the evening should not interfere with that. I looked around the large room and echoes from voices filled the air but my friend said to me, "It's okay. We are exactly where we are supposed to be." And she was right, no matter who preached, no matter who sang, we were supposed to be there, and HE knew all along...

As soon as the songs began, I could hear that voice again. It sounded so much like the one from the other revival but a quick search of the front of the church revealed the man wasn't there...just his voice, the voice of a thousand. The Lord placed that comfort within me on purpose and a smile crossed my face. HE knew. Song after song rang out and though the voices were all different, the words were familiar and have been heard in my own little country church. My mouth moved silently as the singers stood but the words were ringing loudly from my heart and only HE could hear them. There were so many people from so many different churches and it didn't take long for the walls to fall. It seemed I had been placed right in the middle of a large white tent and there were no boundaries. Soon the preacher stood and I recognized him as the one I had expected but there was no need for relief by this point. I knew I was where I needed to be no matter who stood. But HE knew all along...

I listened to the preacher speak truth. His straining voice didn't try to sugar coat the words as he spoke of "this day"...not tomorrow or yesterday, just "this day". He went on to speak of us, our roles as Christians and said, "It's time for you to feed somebody else." That really hit home with me as I have often entered The Lord's House hungry. I've taken, I've been fed, but there comes a time, when you need to feed others. As the revival came to a close, I could still see the white of the roof over my head but there were people everywhere and the multitude began to spill. The Altar was flooded and I saw a young man in his plaid shirt, sitting with the other youth up front. He didn't just drop to The Altar, he dove. My eyes filled with tears as another young man grabbed tightly to the one sitting near him and they too dove down and buried their faces low. Within seconds, I could feel The Spirit as HE stood at the front of the church at The Altar with HIS arms outstretched as wide as the church. It felt like The Spirit moved very fast from front to back with one clean sweep and everyone was shouting, weeping, raising their hands or smiling. There were no walls because we needed to spill. There were people to feed outside of that church and HE knew all along when HE put us all together that The Spirit would visit, sweep across the multitude so we would just spill right out into the world. HE gave us all jobs to do last night, and I'm still smiling and crying at the same time. I am very Blessed this morning that HE knew all along.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Marrow for the Bones

My heart was beating and my eyes were crying, for I had no control over either. I heard someone say he was glad he'd be going to Glory with the likes of us. The entire church seemed to be in full worship, undivided attention focused on Praises to our Lord as needs were being met among the pews. We were all standing, singing a hymn from the old red book which lay open in the palm of our hands. My eyes looked at a pair of crystal sea blue eyes which looked back at me. I didn't smile at the child, just looked at her with tears rolling from my eyes. She normally turns away in withdrawal to hide those beautiful bashful eyes, but today, she just looked back at vulnerable old me. Her blond streaked hair fell around her tan face and she looked down at the hymnal she held, pretending to read the words that correctly fell from her lips. She knew the song by heart and I took a deep breath and looked at my book, knowing I need to see the words.

I couldn't get the children off of my mind as I walked to the old cabin. I walked past a single footprint left in the dirt by my own child. I knew HE had something special for me, and I began to cry heavily knowing HE could feel me coming HIS way as one foot managed to step in front of the other until I reached the wooden steps. Already in prayer, I asked what HE would have me do today. What could I give the children, I asked.

A man had stood before us at church and mentioned that when people are lacking one sense, another one gets stronger. When my own children can't hear, they see. When the day falls dark and they can't see, they feel. Being deaf, The Lord gave them a deaf ear to listen with, and a body of good bones and heart to feel with. The sun was blinding and I closed my eyes and continued to pray. A smile came across my face as I realized what HE was giving me but tears released with a steady flow. I could hear baby birds screaming for more meat as their hunger cried from atop a nearby tree. I prayed harder but their screams were so loud. I dared not open my eyes. I placed my hands up over my ears and squeezed as hard as I could to drown out the hungry birds and I was still asking The Lord, what could I give the children, not just my own, but the ones I am blessed to teach from time to time, the ones that watch me with sea blue irises.

My heartbeat pounded through my ears as I prayed harder. I could feel the warm sun burning the flesh of my bare legs. My smile kept growing as I knew HE was listening to me, little old me sitting on the cabin porch right in the Bible Belt of Alabama. When I finished, I opened my eyes and uncovered my ears. I could hear the birds again and I saw the mama frantically pecking the ground below as she searched for more meat. She came up short so she dug a little deeper. She flew up to the fence post where she shouted from her chest that her mouth was full of meat. Her children quietened and she flew up to the tree where they were fed. My own bones no longer felt brittle and dry and I became acutely aware of the marrow...the marrow to the bones.

I knew I needed to provide good "meat" to the children. That's all they need right now. They need some marrow for the bones. Feeding them, clothing them, providing shelter alone can be hard enough in these trying times many of us are facing...but providing the "meat" they really need to sustain them cost no money at all. I must dig deeper if that's what it takes. I must close my eyes so I can hear and close my ears so I can feel. HE has always provided us with what we need exactly when we need it. Today, we feast on meat because the children are hungry, all of the children are hungry. I hope that I have the discipline to continue digging when I fall short, because HE will provide.

I am so Blessed to be going to Glory with people who inspire me, people who try to pray without ceasing, people who want to take of the "meat" for strength to cross one more day here, to be next to HIM. "How beautiful Heaven must be, sweet Home of the happy and free, fair haven of rest for the weary, how beautiful Heaven must be..."

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Returning Home (part 2)

It is just a Thursday. The Bibles I no longer posses haven't crossed my mind in days. I ventured up the hill to the old cabin, determined to speak to HIM, and then listen when He speaks back. I sat comfortably in an old wooden chair and watched, and waited. Distant lawn mowers could be heard in the background of the sunniest of days we've had in weeks past. Rain has soaked the land and this is the first chance I've had in a while to just look out at crisp clear beauty.

I looked past everything and saw nothing. The shadows moved rather quickly as the sun peeked out in full from behind a pillow of cottony clouds. Suddenly everything my eyes had just scanned past, looked different. The tree in the field just beyond wore golden highlights not seen before. Leaves twinkled as they waved goodbye to the old tree and they fell in groups to the land below as if it were the middle of Autumn. I tried to turn my head but my eyes were fixated on the tree. I looked at the thick bottom of the trunk and my eyes lifted to find that the trunk was actually split right in two as if it were two separate trees, living as one at the base.

I offered the tree a smile and tried to turn away but just as my head began to move, more leaves fell grasping my attention. The sun shifted again I could see how many limbs grew in all directions from both sides of the tree and I wondered how the thing stayed balanced all these years when my eyes fell back down to the base of the tree. Of course, I thought...the foundation. Just like was mentioned in church. I began to think of the family tree again, the blue-eyed one rooted partly by the little lady that sits right behind me each Sunday. Her other half has long been gone having returned home some years ago...I never knew him.

I tried to turn my eyes from the tree but more leaves fell and the sun shifted quickly and I looked back to the limbs which now held branches. The branches held sticks and these sticks clung to the remaining leaves. They all began to dance in one accord, for one purpose and it was the most beautiful sight to see. My mind filled with images of the old lady's Bibles which I had returned to her family, she was a strong tree. I thought of the blue eyed-lady, her kids and their Bibles. I thought of how barren my own Bible might seem if it were to land in the hands of a stranger. I knew I used it but I became aware that it might not be apparent to others so I jumped to my feet and found my own child looking at me and then at the tree. I knew the child would always wonder why Mama stared at trees so much, but I scurried off the porch with immediate purpose and ran as fast as I could to my Bible. I opened it up and with a highlighter, I marked this verse:
Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
I wrote carefully underneath it with a blue ink pen Thursday 7-25-13. I hope that one day, after I've returned HOME, that my children will remember me watching trees...and know why I did.

Returning Home (part 1)

The Bibles have been on my mind. Ever since we received a bounty of the used books as a gift, I knew that four of them belonged with someone else. A lady's name was clearly visible on some as the eight letters had been bound within the leather cover across the front. Her entire family tree was inscribed within the pages of another in her own handwriting, dates of births, marriages, deaths, even hospital stays with room numbers next to the names of the sick. Dates were written beside certain scriptures, sometimes several dates marked a single verse and I wondered what made her go back over and over again to the same one.

I found an heir of the family from one of the names inside and last week, I returned them. I carefully opened one of The Books to show her great-grandson the inside. His first words were, "Wow. That's her handwriting." He gazed in amazement at the history of the tree, rooted from his mother's mother. He thanked me over and over but I was Blessed more than he'll ever know from a lady I never met, that has lived with The King for over a decade now. I touched The Holy Bible one last time, and my job was done. I left them with him, to do what The Lord instructs him to do.

I walked into church Sunday wondering what my Lord was going to do next. A touching Sunday School class led me to tears by the time our actual worship service started. There seems to always be some sort of unexplainable comfort when the blue-eyed lady makes her way to sit behind me on her pew of preference. As soon as she sat, I again thought of the Bibles. Several of her children, grand-children and great-grandchildren filled the church this Sunday morning and I wondered what they would do with her's when she is living with The King. My eyes looked at her grown son on the front pew and wondered the same about his Bible. I looked down at mine and saw that it was beginning to show signs of use. A semi-worn cover, marked pages on the inside by ribbons and bookmarks filled my book but the pages remained clean. Little did I know, that would soon change.

A daughter of the blue-eyed lady walked on painful knees to make her way to the front of the church where she stood by her husband to sing next to the old wooden piano. A familiar song passed over their lips just as soft as the first time I had heard it. Every word created a picture in my mind as I slipped in and out of prayer with every verse. As the beautiful song was about to see end, I heard a sweet little voice from behind, sing the last few words along with her daughter. A tear formed in my eye as I thought about the blue-eyed tree...

(to be continued)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Like a Servant

The word servant has been on my mind. No matter how hard I try to shake it, I see the word in everything I do lately. People ask me about my new job and as much as I want to describe it as being a servant, I choose other means, other descriptions because I don't want to be misinterpreted. I do actually get paid to be nice to people, to help people, to provide people with the best service I can possibly really my job is no different than what most people do, but I do often feel as a servant when I clean a toilet if it needs cleaning, wipe down tables in the lobby or pick up after people who might leave a mess. I've never had a job like this before but I have to say, it really is quite rewarding. Most people are kind that I come in contact with. Those who are not, make me a better person. They boost my efforts to be extra nice to others, especially to those who serve me in grocery store check-out lines or the drive-thru when I drop by for coffee.

Exhausted from long late hours of work, I sat on a pew Sunday morning as usual, just Blessed that I could be there. Every song we sang was about serving The Lord. The children even came from Sunday School wearing paper headbands that read, "Speak, for your Servant is listening." I began to realize why the word Servant had been on my mind. HE was showing me something. I have the opportunity to be a servant in the flesh at work to hundreds of people on any given day. I also have the opportunity to be a Spiritual servant for HIM in front of all of those people just the same. Though it's not my calling to preach to those who walk past me, there are other things I can offer from a genuine smile they might need to see, to a prayer they have no idea I'm lifting for them after they've gone on their merry way. There are things we can do without being actual servants in the flesh, sometimes that just isn't enough. Being an actual Servant of God will help people much more than a fresh set of towels and I need to remember that...

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Within the pages

I sat down in the floor where The Bibles were all spread out in a large display. A neighbor dropped The Books off hoping we could find them a good home after running across them as they were out shopping for antiques. They couldn't dare sell them knowing the importance of the content so I sat down on the rug, and my hand reached out for the one which looked most interesting.

In my palm, I held history. I could feel the treated leather which bound the pages and my fingers gently ran down the worn spine of The Book which read Holy Bible References with no words on the front or back of this Book. The golden edges of the pages were faded and only a hint of color was left near the binding. I was careful not to move the ribbon bookmark still oddly bright red after all these years. I placed my fingers near the marker and gently opened The Book. It was the end of Colossians and the beginning of Thessalonians, and the first verse at the top of the page read, "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."

The pages had tanned over the years and words were underlined with green ink and the date 11-25-81 was marked on the page, also in green ink. Verses were grouped in parentheses in blue ink pen with the date 12-11-96 also scripted on the page with the same blue ink. I knew this person had read these pages more than once in a fifteen year span. The aged pages smelled reminiscent of a forest, pine or cedar maybe and I flipped through more pages of history.

I could tell the reader of The Bible had just begun to show age as well during ownership of this Book. Several pages in the front marked births, marriages, and deaths of generations surrounding her. I saw her name, her husband's name, the date of his death and their children's names. I knew right then, I was holding The Bible, of a Godly women, who was now with her Heavenly Father.

As I flipped through a second Bible, with larger print than the first, her name printed on the cover of this ragged edged Bible, I knew this one had to follow the first one I held. There was less family history noted in the front of this one and the handwriting looked more concentrated, older, and had the look of a quaking hand that was no longer steady. I opened The Book to a page that had been marked with two (now dried) four leaf clovers. I smiled and placed them carefully back down, right where she too had smiled and once placed them.

I looked through all of these books and I knew exactly why the neighbors couldn't (or wouldn't) sell them. Though many were in excellent condition and probably were gifts to her from family or friends, she reached for the same ones over and over, year after year. There's more for me to see within the pages. She has something more to say, more to teach though she's been long gone from this earth I'm sure. She could never write down the date of her death in that Bible, along with the rest of her family and in a way, she's living on. She's been a Blessing to me already and she could have never known she would be...but HE knew all along! Thank you for the Treasures!

Friday, June 28, 2013

When the Sheep Cry

I turned off the ignition and couldn't wait to get inside the little country church. My mouth dried with incredible thirst but I walked past the water fountains and took a seat on the opposite side of the church for a change. I knew HE would supply me with exactly what I needed and soon it became apparent that we all came to revival thirsty. I expected it to pour inside, soaking everyone on every pew, and I left there with exactly what I had expected, and more...

My fingers began to glisten with tears as I made half-hearted attempts to wipe them away but soon, my hands couldn't keep up with the mighty flow. The man in front of me kept lifting his right hand in praise and he was completely unaware that his heart was glowing from behind. I couldn't take my eyes off of the white circle of light placed on his back directly over his heart. It was reflecting a rainbow along the outer edges of the light and the prism bled outward impressing color across him, and he had no idea.

Flashes of the cross kept claiming my vision each time I shut my eyes in prayer. Every time I would open them, more bodies knelt near The Altar and I could see the children of God crying from every direction. Each time one would stand with resolve in their souls, I smiled. Some stayed longer than others, some wept helplessly before their legs gained the strength to stand tall again. All I kept thinking was that The Shepard would come, when the sheep begin to cry. The Spirit was moving within our little country church brushing over one, then the other...

I could see him out of the corner of my eye. His face was drawn taut and I knew The Lord was giving him what he needed. Every few minutes I could see him, still seated but soon he lifted to his feet, and The Tall Man spoke. I was touched by his words as my eyes scanned the room around me. Amens and Bless Hims came ringing from all around.

Another man spoke at some point and said his wife had to bring him clothes because he had car trouble but he aimed to get to that pew, even if he had to come dirty. Our preacher soon stood and shouted we all might be a little dirty, but a cleansing awaits right down near that Altar. Another flock of sheep soon fell low but still, The Sheppard knew the cry of HIS sheep. Hearts were changed, people were Touched, and I was no longer thirsty. I can't wait to go back tonight and see what The Sheppard has for his flock, as we go in to worship, and walk out revived.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Fly

I had so many people on my mind as I walked outside to sit in the morning's rising sun. I wasn't sure HE had anything for me as my footsteps were heavy and deliberate. Normally I feel a pull, an urge to go out and receive but this morning, having few burdens of my own, I had the weight of others on my heart. I stepped onto the old porch and took seat. You could see my wet footprints across the wooden planks and they were all pointing towards me.

I heard the buzz of a fly that seemed to remain in endless flight and I watched him, wondering if he would ever get tired. About that time, he landed on the railing and I watched as he hurriedly walked across, only to soon take flight again.

I thought of yesterday's service as the preacher stood at the front of the church. One of the long-time members, a respected elder of the church, the man from the front pew that reaches down with his right hand to feel the cross engraved underneath him with the palm of his hand...went up to the front. He spoke of Moses. He told of the story in Exodus 17 when Moses stood at the top of the hill with the elders, with his hands uplifted. Our pastor raised his hands and he did his best to keep them in the air but the unrehearsed story of our own church elder showed us how soon, we will tire. He said that Aaron and Hur walked up to Moses and each took an arm, and helped keep them raised. I watched my preacher stand with one hand in the air held up by the church elder and one hand down at his side with no one to help hold it up when he had grown tired. The elder asked who among us would be willing to hold up his other hand and one by one faces fell at the altar. I was frozen at the sight and my heart grew at the sight of so many praying right at that very moment. The tissue I had couldn't hold my tears so I let them run free. Walking up from the left side of this little country church, I saw her...

The wife of the elder walked up to the front with confidence in her backbone. She stepped past the sinners who prayed and she walked past her husband who held the preacher's hand high and she reached down with her gentle hand, placed it around the wrist of the pastor, and lifted his other arm into the air. She was the one. I can't tell you how many mountains she has stood upon in the past having battled cancer several times, along with other trials of life...but this day, she was the one with the strength. Tears rolled from the pastor's eyes and I could see the water Moses promised the people who were thirsty. It was the most beautiful sight, knowing that we have people in our little church that can grow tired, yet The Lord has supplied us with strength through others to keep going. I didn't know what HE had for me this morning. I'm thankful for the fly, who grew tired and rested his wings just at the right moment today, for me to be able to lift my arms in Praise this beautiful Monday morning!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Stir

I knew HE had something for me, all I needed to do was reach out and claim it. I saw one child off to VBS and I, along with my coffee, took a seat on the old cabin's porch. A chill rose beneath my skin and I looked out across the land. The morning sun lit my face and the heat was only tolerable. It only took moments for my flesh to become uncomfortable I was looking for shade or even a shadow to run behind.

As my head turned in every direction, looking for the cool, the comfortable, the wind began to blow. A gentle breeze twisted blades of grass and I could see every green, every yellow hue that clung to the ground from which it was rooted. The pear tree that is so covered with fruit, we've actually had to prop up every limb to keep them from dragging, blushed with the faintest red as the light current approached its leaves. I was very aware that the trees just beyond didn't move, only the ones around me. The warm still pierced my skin and I wanted to be inside the stir, I wanted to feel it but sitting within that still, I felt nothing on the outside of the flesh and I felt like an outsider within just watching, and wanting. HE was getting louder and louder. I could hear it, I could see it, and in Spirit I began to feel it, but my flesh still wanted to feel so I moved out into it.

I smiled up at the blue sky and wondered if that's how people felt who sit through worship services and never truly worship. I wondered if they could see it, and hear it, and want it, but just never be willing to move  out of their own way for it. I felt cold wet grass against my ankles. The air was clean and filled my lungs all the way up. I could almost hear the leaves twinkle as if HE had purposely played them like a wind chime, just for me. I am Blessed this morning, thanking HIM for a stir.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Steady

The voice of my oldest child said, "Look Mama! Look who's here!" I looked behind me and I could see her, the blue-eyed lady. She is either the mother, the grandmother or the great-grandmother of about half the people in our little country church. I wasn't sure I'd ever get to attend a worship service with her again, but HE knew I would. I love those unexpected Blessings.

I could hear her confident voice a couple of times during the service speak out small concurrences when others stood to Testify and I forgot how much I had missed that. We sang a few songs before the Tall Man walked to the front. He led How Great Thou Art and I guess that's when it all started...

I found myself no longer sitting on a pew of a common Alabama church. I was singing to HIM and it didn't matter the quality of my voice, it mattered only the quality of my heart. I could see, though blurred by this point, the light shining through the etched panes and I was moved by the amount of love we all felt for our Savior. I could almost see hearts swelling from the chests of others and I was so glad they loved HIM as much as I did.

The blue-eyed lady's daughter walked to the front and stood by her husband as they prepare to do as requested, and sing. Her husband apologized for any imperfections they may stumble upon during their song, and he prepared us in case he couldn't stand for the entire duration. Life has added trembles to his limbs but once he began to speak, he could do nothing but praise HIM. He stood for the entire song and my eyes were no longer viewing people as they seemed with initial glances. I saw the steady amongst the tremors. I saw the health amongst the sick. I saw the strong amongst the weak, and I saw the right within the wrong. I could have stood in front of the mirror and seen all this just the same. I told a friend this week, "The Lord sure does like me for some reason," after receiving just what I need, day after day.

A friend spoke. When she didn't get it all out, she spoke again. I watched her juggle babies and Testify but she held a desire to speak her heart and then her confidence in HIM, bloomed into Truth we all needed to listen to.

I was thankful for all that HE let me feel today. The same man stood once again at the end of the service after he wasn't sure he could make it through one song without propping up or even sitting back down. He all but preached from his pew as he was given more from The Lord. I watched the steady hand that had little control previously hold onto his Bible. Just as steady, the other hand moved about freely as he gave us what we needed to hear. I knew that The Lord had placed the steady upon this man just as HE had given him a message to express. We are Blessed people. I don't sit on the pew of a common Alabama church nor am I the common sitting on a pew of an Alabama church...not to HIM. I don't know why HE loves me so much, but I'm so very thankful that HE does!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

In the Clearing

I could hear the words, "I claim the blood Jesus shed on Calvary..." before my eyes even opened. I knew by the darkness it was still early, but I couldn't wait to see what HE had for me. I quickly thanked HIM for another day and my feet soon felt the cool wooden floor beneath them. I went straight to the window where I look for the sun every single morning and I could see a dim light behind a thick layer of fog. I felt a sense of urgency to get out to the old cabin to watch the sun rise so I kept singing the song over and over and within minutes, I heard the screen door slam shut behind me.

Wet blades of grass graced my ankles as cool damp air filled my lungs. I could smell the wooden planks which covered the shell of the old cabin and I sat just watching the sun. The remaining drops from last night's rain fell slow and heavy from the edges of the tin roof. I heard her voice singing...the lady from church who sat behind the piano last night. Her unique voice was a gift to our little country church and I was Blessed with hearing it one more time.

Physically I still sat on the cabin's porch but Spiritually, HE has brought me back to the Wednesday night church service where someone near me requested a song. I watched my Sunday School teacher walk up with a microphone clinched in his hand. The lady behind the piano began to play and her voice moved around me. I could feel my heart beat deep and loud within, as the Sunday School teacher just stood there. The piano player kept singing the words, "Thank you....." Emotion poured from the man who could not sing and he could have sat down at any time, but he didn't. He just stood. He didn't have to say a word, his tears spoke loudly. We all found ourselves watching behind blurred visions as salty water filled our eyes. I kept wondering if he would give up and walk back to his seat, but he stood there...receiving every single word, and that was powerful.

I was Blessed to be able to sit on the old wooden porch and hear the sermon in its entirety once again. I thought about being sin-sick and how contagious that can be, just like our preacher spoke of last night. I knew that to be true. I heard trembling voices from parents thanking The Lord for His Blessings and I looked up at the young man in front of me. I couldn't see his face at that moment but I knew it displayed wounds, healing from the car accident that could have easily been a lot worse. My stomach quaked as the parents spoke and I felt their heartfelt words. They didn't have to say much and I found myself with blurring vision again at how powerful their thank you was.

I could hear the thump of the rain droplets as they hit the ground as if they weighed a hundred pounds and I lifted my head back up to the sun. I now sat in the clearing. I looked around and fog was still surrounding me but the sun peaked out from behind a tree. Fog still caressed the fields and the trees, but where I sat, it was perfectly clear. The prettiest rays lit various areas of the landscape in front of me and I smiled as I received my morning Blessings.

The cool damp air had warmed a bit and was welcomed upon my skin. As it soaked into me, I thanked HIM for everything HE'S given me to see, to touch, to hear and most of all feel. I sat in the clearing this morning, and it felt good. All I could offer was a meek thank you, but I knew the power in those two words.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The End of a Soldier's Tour

I lifted my head up fast. Sweat beaded on my forehead and my heart raced yet I had no idea what I had just dreamt...but I knew The Lord had something else to show me. A few deep breaths and I lied back down and awaited, fully awake. I began to watch people of a foreign town walking about. Their eyes squinted as they looked in my direction and their darkened leathery faces shown red as the sun lit upon them. I heard a very loud screeching sound, so loud that I had to shut my eyes. Suddenly, I could see nothing but a couple of puffs of pale blue light flash in front of me. I felt my bones vibrate gently but I could hear and see nothing. I wanted to look around for the people with red sunlit faces but saw nothing other than softness. For a moment I felt others, as if we were bumping into each other and then the most inviting tug lifted me. I could feel the smallest breeze as I moved, yet it didn't seem to caress my body as it had so many times before. There was no air moving around the nape of my neck, or blowing my hair, I just felt it inside me. I was on my way...and I smiled up at my ceiling as the scene faded away as if it were the ending of a great film. I took peace from that, and Trusted that it was just that easy.

I got out of bed after an exhausting weekend and told myself I don't have to cry anymore, but I knew I would. My little cousin has done his fair share of tours overseas after serving 8 years as a United States Marine. We said goodbye to him this Memorial Day weekend as he arrived back to his hometown after contracting to go back into Afghanistan. The Lord decided it would be his last tour of duty there, and here on earth and a suicide bomber ended it. I was very angry at first but after a few days of praying, I know that The Lord knew which families to make it REAL. These soldiers are willing to risk their lives to train the innocent to stand on their own feet so that one day, men and women can come home to their families safely and hope their own children won't have to do and see the things they've had to.

I had to watch a twelve year old, a four year old and a one year old look at their Daddy's picture next to a delicate flag while Marines saluted them and wonder why can't they just see him again. I watched a beautiful widow hold her head up because she had to, and a mother that only had her child for 33 years wipe tears from her grieving eyes. I watched an amazing little sister on the news speak of her big brother that's always been her hero, as he now he is being recognized throughout the world as our's. Marines spoke highly of this honorable soldier and I listened to a father speak of his stepson in front of a packed funeral home as the biggest Blessing, having been a part of him for most of his life. All I kept thinking was...I need to be a better soldier. One day, my tour here will end as well and I may not see it coming. I may see the baby blue flashes and feel that small jolt in of my bones and feel that inviting tug. I hope that the country Baptist preacher is able to stand and say what a good soldier I've been.

We have many battles while our tour rages onward and with every single day I rely more and more on the shield HE provides. I have all the weapons I need though they can't always be seen. I had to ask myself why can't they? I should walk proudly with all my armour and the sword of Truth but often I fail. There are much bigger battles lying in our paths ahead, unseen by us and there is only one way around them. I have to remind myself all the time that for every Goliath, there is a David.  "...I'm on the battlefield for My Lord, I promised HIM that I...would serve HIM 'til I die now I'm on the battlefield for My Lord."

The exhausting weekend is behind us now. Days ago, we didn't think we'd make it through but He led us here and He led us to the other side. We face mountains not sure if we have the energy to climb but there's always a gentle tug helping us up if we only ask. I am once again Blessed to be HIS child. Rest in Peace Joseph Elrod. You've already made me a better soldier.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spoonful of Pride

Once again, I offered my hands to write. I looked outside at the damp, at the cold, and knew I had to leave the warmth of my house behind and walk into the rain. The glass storm door slammed behind me as my steps were labored up the slick hill. I stuffed my bare hands into my pockets and thin drops fell from the sky with abundance as I made my way to the porch beneath the old tin roof. I stood listening to the music of the blackberry winter shower, but my body remained warm. I was both thankful and saddened to be out of the rain, because while I was in it, at least I could feel. For a brief moment I wasn't too busy, I wasn't distracted.

I closed my eyes and listened to the singers from yesterday's church service sing "...the battle's not mine, said Little David..." and I saw his hands shaking. The teen held up the piece of paper with the words scripted upon it and I knew he wanted to be back on his pew, but for a moment, he put himself aside, and sang for The Lord, and I smiled at the sweet thought. I could see all the smaller children standing up at the front of the church getting ready to sing their song when I heard her voice growing from behind me. I couldn't see her, but she stood and spoke as all the little children peered at her. I imagined seeing through a pair of those little eyes and watching tears fall from the adult congregation. The piano player also spoke and for a moment I couldn't breathe. Tears fell and a burst of air came into me when I could find none. For a split second, I could feel HIM, I could smell, taste, hear, and see HIM all around me. HE was in the voices that spoke and sang, HE was in the eyes of the children, behind the fire that fueled the preacher, and the seconds slowed down for me to take it all in.

I reluctantly opened my eyes and I was still standing in the cold but still felt warm. The rain drops were now thick and fell in slow motion. They landed with a profound thud as water rippled the shallow puddles I wondered what HE was going to have me write this day. I knew I had to go back into the rain. There was no desire of the flesh to walk out of the comfort but I knew I must.

My feet trotted through sandy mud and I could hear it crunch beneath the soles of my shoes. Still looking for HIS words to write I traveled until I felt the cold. I walked back inside and sat down to write, unsure of the message. There was an overwhelming desire to read The Bible, instead of write. I think I ran through the house searching for the first Bible I could find, having no idea what I needed to read. I looked blankly at the tabs reading over words, Titus, Acts, Ephesians, and felt no desire to open it. I saw a crooked tab which read Obadiah, and I knew that was it. I opened The Book slowly and read the small book of only one chapter.

What I understood it to speak of in the beginning was pride. "Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle....thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD." I studied the book and I read of how we must not take advantage of the misfortunes of others, the distress of others, the calamity of others. I understood it to go on and say that "all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down..." I wondered what all I would have to drink and swallow down when it came time for my judgement...and I felt sick.

I put down The Book and was confused. I wondered how all this would apply to me, what did HE want me to write, what did HE want me to say? I stood at the back door not wanting go back into the cold rain. I knew there would be nothing on the other side of that door, but my feet moved anyway. I again felt the rain hitting my flesh and this time I could feel the cold immediately. I kept asking HIM, what are you trying to tell me?

In that very moment a loud noise came over the mountain top. The clouds were so thick I couldn't see a thing but I knew it was a low flying military helicopter. It flew right over me but I saw nothing. I could feel it move over as the ground shook beneath me. I had no reason to question its existence, its sound, its path.

I had to swallow a big spoonful of pride and realize that it's not always about me, for me, or to me...but I can't question the message. I don't always need to write out of obligation, out of desire or even, at times, pride. There is a reason I needed this, whether I can see it all yet or not. I can spend all day in the rain and within myself, not figure out everything...but I trust in HIM, and HE will give me what I need, when I need it.

There are things given to us sometimes because someone else needs it. There are hardships given to us, because someone needs to watch us go through them. We can't question the path, the way it looks or sounds or feels as we travel just because we don't see all the curves or see what we'll encounter along the way but as long as HE leads, we'll find our way HOME. Thankful that I can feel, even if it seems like a lot to swallow.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

For Such a Small Bird

My knees bent and my back crooked over them as I placed my hands flat down. My head found rest upon the carpet and my tears spilled into the rug as I shamefully confessed how undeserving I am. I have a calendar filled to the max with events of the flesh but I've not made time for my Lord. Rushed prayers and a handful of leftovers is all I've offered in the past several days and chaos has consumed me.

He forgave me, yet again. and I lifted my head to do better. I walked towards the old cabin's porch and I waited for HIS words. I expected calm so I took a deep breath in and waited. Chill bumps filled my arms as a cooling breeze swept through and I could hear the creaking of the old wooden rocking chair. A bird landed right in front of me with a huge grub worm held tightly between his beak. I thought to myself what a great feast for such a small bird. I heard a dog barking in the distance and he sounded very angry, but I knew I would never know why. I know people that bark all the time and I know they are angry and hurt but sometimes it is not our place to quieten their bark, it's our place to listen to it.

The dog continued and I closed my eyes looking for quiet, looking for calm but it wasn't there. Everything got louder. Birds were flying rapidly and in every direction and my heart began to beat faster. Even though I wanted nothing more than to get up and walk away, I trusted HIM. I sat in the middle of the chaos until I felt compelled to get up and walk toward the barking dog. It could have been a mile away through the woods but I knew I was supposed to walk away from that porch, so I did.

As I walked through my yard, the dog stopped barking. I stood there waiting for it to begin again, but it never did. It just stopped. I looked behind me and I saw color. Flowers were filling the meadow and blooms filled my yard yet I had walked right past it all, unaware because of a little noise. I looked over at the field of deception, the field full of weeds which the farmer had treated a couple of weeks earlier. The field was left almost barren but now that the weeds were gone, it was green, healthy, and productive. I had almost missed that also but I too, have been stricken with weeds, barren and unproductive.

I carried on throughout my yard until I found myself standing in front of a rose bush crying. I remembered as a child how I would see elderly ladies outside their homes staring at their flowers. I always wanted to be like that...have nothing to do but stare at pretty flowers. I walked up to my favorite little tree near my front porch. The faint smell of honeysuckle filled the air and ground was carpeted with white flowers. My husband says that was always his grandmother's favorite tree too and I stood there for awhile, in the peace, in the calm.

I knew I had walked through the chaos and into the calm by trusting His lead. I didn't bother wiping away tears as they fell onto my collar. In the light breeze I began to hear something...something so far away. I couldn't tell what it was but it sounded so beautiful and I wanted to hear more. I stepped deeper into my front lawn trying to figure out what the sound was, but all I knew is...I wanted more.

I stood very erect and very still. The wind stopped for just a brief moment and I heard it again. This time is very prominent and I knew it was the song of a distant wind chime, though I have no idea where it was coming from. It was just there. It reminded me of playing in my yard as a child and hearing the noon-time toll of the local church bells. I listened for as long as it played, back then, and now.

I have found myself in the middle of chaos, in the middle of noise. For once I didn't run from it, I walked into it, knowing I can't always make it go away. I listened to it until it got quiet. I smiled knowing that once again, my Lord has provided such a great feast for this small bird, but I thank him for it all...for the chaos, for the quiet, for the feast, for it all.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Into the Rain

I awoke asking for HIS help, and HE provided immediately, I just didn't know it yet. I raced through my morning with the words to a familiar song ringing loudly, "...the battle's not mine, said Little David..." I suppressed the song as best I could as I greeted people along the morning's way only to find it ringing louder than before with each step forward. I knew HE was working on something, and I needed to collect the pieces to finish the custom puzzle handcrafted just for me. People expect certain things from me, and right now, they're standing everywhere in need...only I can't do it alone, so I sang on, "...the battle's not mine, Lord it's Thine."

I went home and studied David and Goliath (again) to see if I could find something, though I knew not what I was looking for. I kept studying the words Faith vs. Pride. I looked at the size of Goliath's pride and despite the size of it (and him), they were no match for Little David's Faith and Trust in The Lord. I continued to sing the song all day and awaited my next clue.

The sky outside clouded and I knew the rain was coming. It didn't take long before I had decided the rain was just enough to stop me from attaining a seat under the steeple tonight. I originally wanted to go church, but I was surprised by the growth the excuse of rain had in a matter of minutes. I soon found myself go. I pictured myself on that pew singing and then watching someone give Devotion, watching people stand and then listening to our preacher. I knew I wasn't like David. I have grabbed too many stones and none of them are the right I prayed, and again, HE provided.

I soon found myself driving down the road, headed for our evening service. The rain had slowed to a mere drizzle and I noticed the green. I had almost forgotten how bright, how fresh, how beautiful and crisp everything looks after a Springtime shower, and I thanked HIM as I pulled into the parking lot.

After the songs had been sung, a man walked up to the front of the church and placed his Bible down. He happens to be my Sunday School teacher and his Devotion was on Pride. I looked down at my Bible shocked that I'm hearing similar content that The Lord has placed on me this very same day...apparently I needed this. The Sunday School teacher asked for us to speak up if we had something to share about what The Lord has done for us this week. Immediately the channels in my head started changing really fast. There were so many things to look at, I couldn't slow my mind down long enough to watch any of it.

I listened to the preacher talk about Pride and daily temptations and struggles. I thought about the rain, and how pretty everything was today. I knew that if it hadn't rained, the view would have been ordinary. After church was over, I was ashamed that I had almost let the rain stop me from coming to church.

As miles fell behind, putting me farther from church and closer to my house, I thought of how fast life is moving right now. I smiled knowing tomorrow will be slower because I went into the rain. I knew I would take time to laugh tomorrow because I had went into the rain. I knew that I would recognize HIM tomorrow because I went...

I couldn't help but thank HIM for putting me into this rain because I didn't go there on my own, I couldn't. It feels like with so many obstacles my family has faced this past week, we have really been standing in the rain for a while now...and I thanked HIM for that too. I knew that I could now see the green because we've walked through rain, as I choose to stand in it no more.

I still don't have this full puzzle put together, and I imagine He has more to show me, but I'm dropping my stones, one by one for I have too many. I only need one, and Faith will walk me into the rain, and Faith will walk me out of the rain.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Playing Church

I walked in with an upright stature. No one could see my spirit that dragged behind me with its hands grasping around my ankles, not willing to let go. I took a seat and looked around the room, knowing I'd be playing church soon. I didn't even have a Bible in my hands like everyone else, but I was there because I just enough good to desire the position on the pew, and just enough bad to know I needed to be there if I ever wanted my spirit to walk as one with me again.

A preacher stood and he began to speak to me as if we were the only two people in the room. He spoke of enemies. We all have them in some form or fashion, he said. My heart raced because there's no way he could see how discouraged and angry I was. There's no way he knew our lives had been tossed upside down, shaken and then placed back into our own hands to make sense of the mess. But he knew I had enemies, and that is exactly what pushed me through those doors to begin with. This was as real as it gets and I was no longer playing church.

It's been over two years since I walked in that little country church for the first time. I not only learned that I had enemies, but I learned to forgive and forget. I was taught that I needed to be able to face my enemy without reminding myself of how often I've been mistreated, that's what true forgiveness is. I was soon able to walk myself down to the altar and forgive, and I prayed for the enemy.

Yesterday, I was listening to a preacher on the radio talk about these verses:
Matthew 7:9,10  "Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?"
I teared up, still driving down the road and listening to this preacher, as I realized that all those years I carried an enemy with me, it was by choice. I could have truly forgiven earlier, and should have, but chose not to. I realized that all those years this person was asking for bread, I only gave stone and when asking for fish, I provided a serpent.

I no longer waste time reminding myself how much someone has wronged me, or how little they have given every time I see them. The memory is still there but I no longer see it when I come in contact with them. I remember seeing a quote similar to this once, "When someone deserves your love the least, that's when they need it the most." In the world we live in, I must remind myself of this often. Pray for someone the flesh tells you not to, give fish and bread to those who hunger. You may soon find your spirit lifting, rather than dragging behind you. It's been two years since I swallowed my pride and bent my knees and thankfully, I've been doing it ever since. I walked into a building expecting to play church, but I was asking for bread and fish. The Lord gave me bread and fish.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cawing of the Crows

I stepped quickly with every intent of listening to The Lord this morning. Up the hill I walked until I reached the old cabin's front porch. The air was clear and the sun shown brightly onto everything my eyes peered upon. I was surrounded by the prettiest music a band of songbirds could play but something kept distracting me. Over beyond, just out of my sight, I heard the cawing of the crows. Their sound wasn't as pretty as the songbirds which surrounded me, but for some reason, my attention kept arriving on the clutter of noise in the trees beyond the field rather than what I had intentionally surrounded myself with.

I began to pray with my eyes wide open and never could bring myself to say "Amen." I left that dialogue open and perked my ears and darted my eyes so I wouldn't miss a thing. The cawing of the crows grew louder but so did the songbirds that enclosed the cabin's porch as they watched to see to whom I would listen. A loud flutter of wings pelted the country morning. Dozens of black crows lifted into the air and they were gone. They no longer had anyone to squawk for.

My eyes fell onto the field that was covered with a thick blanket of green just days before. It was stricken with brown death which I had noted the evening before. I thought about the answer my husband had fed me when I questioned the lost beauty of that field. He said that the farmer killed the weeds. I now sat on the old wooden porch and gazed at the field. I could feel HIM speaking to me as a sudden soft overwhelm raced my heartbeat faster. I had just heard a preacher on the radio speaking of false teachers and how we can let ourselves get conditioned to accepting that which they teach. If we see it over and over how our friends accept the wrong, we can become hardened over time and believe the false teachings aren't so bad after all, and that is wrong.

I thought of the cawing of the crows. I didn't like what they had to say but still, there were so many and they were just so loud, they got my attention anyway. Often it's that way in life. Many will hop on a wagon because they see their friends encouraging the ride, but it doesn't make it right.

I looked around at the brown field which brought me to my feet. How deceived I felt now that I know it was full of weeds. It had been so green and from a distance the weeds blended with the grass so well. They didn't deceive the farmer though, for he had walked into that field. He reached down with his own hands and knew something was wrong. He looked closely with his eyes and he could see some were not like the others. He took action to save the field and I could now see it was almost too late. Thin blades sparsely scattered, stood erect and young. The prettiest shade of tender green would soon cover the brown with the right encouragement.

False teachers are among us, walking in our fields, cawing from the trees. How easy they can deceive. I have a stronger desire to arm myself with the shield of The Bible and a tongue bladed only with His Truth. I have a desire to seek only the teachings of those cloaked with His Blood who are also shielded with The Bible and sworded with a tongue of Truth. I am Blessed this morning HE took time out to show me.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Left Behind

After a really great Revival this past week, I couldn't wait to get to church on Sunday. It didn't take long for us all to get carried away in Spirit and Worship broke out rather quickly, even though I brought in my burdens and sat them on the bench with me. These weren't the kind of burdens I wanted to take to The Altar and rid myself of...they were burdens I should have been carrying a long time ago.

In our little communities, more than one car accident had claimed the lives of several young people this weekend. Two teens that left this world had actually sat under the sound of my voice as high school students when I had the honor of filling in for their teachers. As soon as I heard the news, I felt a huge burden for all of the other children, the families, the ones left behind. Another accident claimed the lives of two young men. One was about to be a father for the third time, and one left actual video Testimonies about what God has done for him. I was thankful to hear they were Home now, but those left behind were weighing on me heavily.

I felt The Spirit moving in that morning service and I left there knowing HE wanted me to keep those burdens. I sat in the warm sun all afternoon reflecting on the services past, and praying. One statement made in Revival kept standing out, "If you don't have a Testimony, The Lord can give you a Testimony." I thought about all those families affected by the accidents this weekend, and knew HE was speaking to some of them now, and being recognized for it. I just prayed that the rest of those left behind would listen to HIM too.

I let a couple of small afternoon disappointments rob me of my joy. As I drove back to the evening service my head was hanging low despite all HE had given me. I shamefully sat on a pew in hopes that the preacher had the answer I needed. I looked around and once again was disappointed that so little had shown up this evening, but apparently, this was my day to feel selfish. I thought a good stern preaching would probably fix what ails me but I soon would hear the words, "I'm not gonna preach tonight." My heart sank as I began to wonder why I kept finding disappointment on this day when I needed inspiration, when I needed a swift kick in the right direction. As his voice broke, he wiped away tears and told us that we didn't have to participate if we didn't want to, but we were to go down each pew, and speak of the day of our Salvation.

I was almost in shock but smiling at the same time because HE knew exactly what I needed to hear. On this day, it wasn't words from the preacher, it wasn't songs from the hymnal, it was the breath of my fellow Brothers and Sisters. Mothers & fathers, grandparents and children went back in time, and spoke of that day, that night, that moment when they fully surrendered. I sat crying and listening to each and every story of the most beautiful day of their lives. I spoke of my day when my best friend took me by the hand and knelt beside me. I had hoped she could do it for me, but she told me I had to do it myself. We were at my childhood home, in a bathroom that echoed my words when The Lord entered my heart to remain forevermore.

I went home and cried some more knowing I already had what I needed most. I was inspired and I left there knowing that HE has given me a Testimony for a reason. The best way we can help those left behind is to use it. Whether those left behind are grieving for the loved ones lost this weekend, or maybe those we will one day have to leave behind...there is love in a Testimony, there is truth in a Testimony and most of all, you'll never find disappointment in a Testimony. I'm feeling awfully Blessed once again to know that HE gives me what I need, when I need it.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Reviving the Drowned

We rushed in, hurried from anxieties of the afternoon. Despite recognizing The Lord several times throughout my day, I wanted more, but I knew I deserved nothing. I fought back tears as I took up space on the pew I didn't deserve to occupy because I knew I had not prayed hard enough, long enough, yet I was wanting more of HIM and I was drowning. As people filled the room and moved about, I thought of how much time HE had already given me this day and I began to thank HIM. My heart began to calm as I was thankful to be alive enough to recognize HIM.

Our Revival was about to begin. My ears perked as enthused hands clapped with the songs. I watched and listened as I expected The Holy Spirit to move through soon. Sweat formed from the uncomfortable heat in the room and I knew that too was probably a good thing. Being uncomfortable sometimes is just what people need. I took one look at that large cross still standing in the room wearing a crown of thorns atop the name Jesus and a cool chill ran down one of my arms. A familiar group of three walked to the front who had sang at our last year's revival and my heart beat with anticipation. Soft words began a trickle that would soon flood the room with the powerful flow only The Lord could have given them. I watched her and waited as her voice grew stronger and soon she closed her eyes and lifted her hand in Praise. As she belted loudly I could feel her song pierce right through my ribs into my chest. Her mouth opened wide to let loose of what HE gave her and I could have swore I saw white doves take flight right out of her. With her Daddy and brother standing by her side, all three were giving what they had, and I was thanking HIM for that.

The visiting pastor who was preaching our Revival walked over to the piano along with his wife. The brother of the lady who could sing doves began to press those ivory keys for the couple's song. This preacher's sound was unlike any other I had heard before. It was full of a diversity of tones I had never witnessed one voice hold.

Our own pastor noted how the singers delivered with authority and I pondered on that word for a while. He mentioned the words "Big Brother Jesus" which I haven't heard very often in my 38 years termed just like that. My eyes widened knowing I had read the exact same words just hours before, while at a local high school trying to teach a Bible study class. The Lord needed my attention and HE had it. I had studied with the children the verses in Hebrew chapter 3
13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.
The visiting preacher stood to begin what The Lord had laid out for him. He spoke of a man mentioned in The Book of Mark that had a withered hand. He went on to say how he'd rather be stricken with a withered hand than a hardened heart. My heart was beating faster as the entire day was pulling together right before my eyes.

I had entered that room drowning in world of flesh and The Lord was letting me know, HE was still right there. I didn't plan to drown, but I had taken my eyes off of HIM, just like Peter did when he had once walked by Faith. I'm so thankful HE reached into my waters and pulled me back up.

I entered day two of Revival better than I had on day one. I didn't wait around to feel HIM, I brought HIM in with me. Another great night full of Reviving and songs. Children sang in voices that could melt even the most hardened of hearts of stone. I'm trying not to take my eyes off HIM today, I don't want to drown anymore. You can't see clearly under the water, you can't hear more than muffles under the water, and your every breath becomes labored and you sink lower and lower. I am Blessed this day, thankful for HIS hand once again.

The Sound of HIS Ring

I almost didn't answer the call to teach because my plan was to stay at home on this first day of April, this first day of my 38th year, this first day of Revival at our little country church. I wanted to be prayed up, I wanted to be where I needed to be Spiritually before I walked back through those glass doors to claim a spot on one of those old pews. I had a difficult choice to make here. I stood over the phone and listen to it ring, and I knew I had to answer. I knew HIS plan was bigger, HIS plan was better, HIS plan was where I needed to tread upon. On the other end of the line was high school teacher who told me the essentials and that I would need to just "muddle through" her Bible study activity period I would have mid-day and I could only smile as HIS plan began to unfold right before my eyes...

I rushed through my morning only to watch the clock as teens came in and out of my classroom. An old white dingy Bible sat on her desk and I gently pulled on the fragile gold painted zipper and opened The Book. I began reading Genesis chapter 23 silently which was about where I had left off at home. I must have read several chapters before I heard the bell ring and I knew it was time.

I watched the door knowing that I would soon be disappointed at the low number of children who would walk through that door but I figured there had to be three or four that would choose The Bible over archery or some of the other selections so my heart pounded as I waited for them.

Two walked in and found a seat, and another rushed in too. One minute until the late bell rang and I opened The Bible to Hebrews, which is what they were to study. I heard voices, and several walked in together and there must have been seven in the room already. I smiled at their young faces expecting to see a hardening from their teenage eyes but I saw no such thing. Thirty seconds until the bell would ring and I counted as more walked in, HE had sent me twelve. I was very pleased that this many had chosen to come and before that bell could ring, almost every seat was full. Seventeen teenagers came to study The Bible.

We reviewed, we read farther into the scriptures, and they listened. More than one spoke, and more than one answered my questions and every time I looked across that room, all of their eyes were on me. We only had thirty-seven minutes together but it did my heart good to witness a room fill up with children who are pressed with burdens, who are living tough times, who know sin and recognize it, but strive to live under HIS Word. I almost didn't answer that call, and I'm glad I knew the sound of HIS ring because what a Blessing I received on this first day, and I hadn't even made to church yet...

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Name on The Cross

The air was clear when we left for church. The sun couldn't be seen in the clouded sky. As we traveled down the road getting closer to church, I began to notice a light fog obscuring my vision. The closer and closer we got to church, the thicker the fog seemed. I found myself trying harder and harder to see, and I knew HE had intended it to be so...

I watched for the steeple as we rounded that curve and when my eyes found it, I smiled with comfort. Entering that room, my mind went backwards in time as I took my seat. Two large crosses were placed in the very front of the church and I thought of yesterday. The words that left the teenager's body at an Easter Egg hunt we attended rang loud, "Had it not been for a place called Mount Calvary....had it not been for the old rugged cross..." Here on Easter Sunday, I sat facing an empty cross, and another draped with a cloth and topped with a crown of thorns. The bare one said nothing but the one with thorns wore the name Jesus. I teared up as I tried to quieten the teen's voice but it got louder, "Had it not been for a man called Jesus..."

As people poured inside the tiny country church I could barely look at the crown of thorns. My optics became occupied with children, hymn books and distractions because every time I looked up, I saw The Name on that cross and my heart began the tremble. I knew HE was about to tell me something and no matter how thick the fog, I had to keep my eyes open, I had to keep looking, and I would see...

I had to sit through a very difficult Sunday School lesson as our teacher read one account of what it must have been like for the human body, to be crucified on a cross, like the Son of God. I hid tears as emotion filled me, and after listening to all of that, I couldn't wait to get back and sit before the crosses. One was still empty and the other still held up HIS name. I wondered what HE wanted to show me so I prayed that my eyes wouldn't dim.

I noticed some of the children around me, the really young ones had little crosses in their hands from their Sunday School class. The music played and family after family made their way up to the empty cross, and placed fresh flowers all over it. It reminded me of a funeral as I watched my friends go up and place their flowers. Tears rolled from me but my vision never clouded. As my family walked up to the front, the aroma of fresh blooms met me at The Altar. My eyes were dried and I began to smile as one by one we all made that cross beautiful...

We sang some more songs and I couldn't take my eyes off of the child in front of us. No more than four or five years old, she sang words to a song she could have only learned by being surrounded by it. She clinched tightly to her little white cross and I noticed something was written on it. I must have stared it through the entire song until I finally saw it had her name on it. I teared up as I knew what HE was telling me.

I looked towards the cross with the thorned crown and my heart read the name Jesus. His Name was on that cross for her. His Name was on that cross for me. About the time my tears began to flow again, she turned her little white cross over and on the back it read, "Jesus loves..." When you turned it to the front, their little names were all written on the fronts of their crosses and I sat there thinking about that. We stood for a final song I looked back at the tiny little girl to see if she was still holding onto the cross but I was met with the biggest blue eyes I've ever seen. This time, she had been watching me. We both smiled at each other and in the eyes of a child, HE confirmed HIS message.

As our pastor said, "A cross is just a cross when you remove Jesus." Know He was there, and know why HE was there. Look towards the cross no matter how difficult, because you just might find little eyes looking to you, as you look for HIM. Tomorrow begins our Revival at my little country church and I know how physically exhausting and Spiritually exhausting this can be. It will be the first day of April, the first day of Revival and the first day of my 38th year here on this land. I can't wait to see what HE holds for me...HE LIVES for me, so I need to live for HIM.