Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unashamed

What is our purpose on this big blue marble?

Are we here to entertain the gods?

Are we here to struggle, wonder why, curse the day, and return to dust?

Are we here to pretend everything is always okay as  we live in our own world of make believe?

Maybe we are here to buy the biggest toys and be the most successful on the block.

Stop.

Right.

Now.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ for it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes.

There it is. All summed up for me in one short Bible verse.

Our purpose on earth is for a relationship with Jesus that overflows and spills out onto those around us, leading to a relationship with Jesus that overflows and spills out onto those around us, leading to a relationship with Jesus that overflows and spills out onto those around us...

Forget the gods of this world--sports, money, personal satisfaction, success in business.

Forget the struggles of life that many of us like to think we experience in solitude...truth be remembered, every person (believer and non) struggles with the difficulties of life. Because...that's life.

Forget  looking to the make-believe that keeps us from staring reality in the face. Pretending we have all the time we need to come to terms with the gospel...pretending tomorrow is the day we will choose God...pretending personal beliefs are truth regardless of what the Bible tells us...

If Romans 1:16 is a true statement for each of us who  claim Jesus as Savior and Lord...what difference does it make?

For if God has the power unto salvation, can we not trust Him with all other matters of life?

God seeks and saves.

Our purpose on this big blue marble is that of a relationship with Jesus that grows and flourishes to the point of wanting all those around us to know the joy of salvation.

The freedom in forgiveness.

The peace that comes in trusting The One who created and knows all...

Let's be unashamed together.

Let's grow and flourish and tell our friends, co-workers...strangers in the grocery store...that Jesus still offers life eternal.

VBS makes me think of these things in a magnified way...

Won't you join me?

I am unashamed of the Gospel of Christ.


Picture props belong to my sister, Cari. She describes this pic as the path in her mind that leads to her real home, heaven. How perfect.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Melania's Wardrobe, Floating Yoga and Twitter Troubles

Headlines are full of fascinating and helpful information.

Ben Affleck's new girlfriend, Shia LaBeouf arrested, Germany's Prince Ernst married, and Ashton Kutcher got himself in hot water over a tweet...

Seriously.

We can, with a quick click, read about floating yoga, Netflix, and Melania's wardrobe.

This.is.news?

If we dig a little deeper we can even read about a bear that mauled a shepherd in Romania.

Mmmm...yeah...not impressed.

As for me, I'm involved in something more important that some Hollywood misstep or even balancing myself on a floating mat--which is really good, because I'm not into yoga or water-stuff.

Days filled with people and prayers, rockets and glow-in-the-dark stars. Attention given to allergy alerts and friendships, background checks and glue sticks.

Having a plan in place to buy new shoes for a child who wears a pair two sizes too big and being sure the volunteers are ready to fix food to fill hungry bellies.

Reminding my friends that for one full week, for every child who walks through our doors, we are the hands and feet of Jesus.

Those of you who know me well, know I am full-swing into the final days of preparation for Vacation Bible School.

This blog is asking you to click the X in the top right of your screen...after you finish reading, of course!

Put your phone down and say a focused prayer for the most important week of the year. The week set aside for sharing the great news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with boys and girls.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, Jesus is not just for kids. Jesus lived and died and lives again in order to provide a way for us to have a relationship with Him.

God is real.

He is good.

He is faithful.

You can trust Him.

I do hope Shia straightens up and I wish Prince Ernst well and I mean no disrespect to any of them when I say I didn't read past the headlines...

But...

seriously...

if you'll excuse me...

I feel a worthwhile tweet coming on...













Saturday, July 1, 2017

America's Son

It was early July, 2011.

We were there with others. We looked on with pride and fear as America's sons, brothers, and fathers took their places in line up.

We were there to support them and pray for them and to wish them well and to say "We will see you later."

And we watched with pride and fear as America's sons, brothers, and fathers boarded the bus.

As for me, I couldn't breathe. I looked at my tall, strong young man and I saw the little boy who spent years in the dirt. The boy who farmers sought out on Sunday mornings, asking him to pray for rain. The little boy who preferred anything outdoors over anything indoors.

And I saw the light-hearted boy who stood next to me as we watched the towers fall the day before his 12th birthday. The day that something moved in his heart.

I saw the teenager who talked with me--sometimes late into the night--about school, football, his future, life and love and God.

I saw a young man who determined 10 years earlier to make a difference.

America's son, the young man who told his "Pop" and me, "I am safer in God's will in Afghanistan than outside His will in Greeneville,"

After the bus drove out of sight, the families of those who came to support, pray, wish them well and say "We will see you later" solemnly slipped into their vehicles.

There were no words in our car. I can't say what moved through the hearts and minds of our young man's pop and sisters...but I remember clearly what moved in me.

Blurry vision and still unable to breathe, I determined I would pray every day...okay, without ceasing...and trust God to be who He says He is.

Just as events change lives forever--births, deaths, storms, graduations, illnesses, weddings--deployment changed me forever.

There are truths in life that have always caused great awe in me...

The American flag.

Veterans, old and young.

The Star Spangled Banner.

The Constitution.

The Declaration of Independence.

The thought of a God who created us and cares about the details of life.

And watching God work in and through my children.

It was early July, 2011.

Yes, the star spangled banner still waves, o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Thank you, Lord.

Thank you, USMC Sergeant Pierce.

Thank you, American Military.

I still pray without ceasing.










Monday, June 26, 2017

My God is so Big

I remember a Christmas many years ago. Many. Years. Ago.

I asked for a typewriter. (Okay, now you have an idea of how many years ago)

I'm not sure how they managed it, but that Christmas Eve I opened a gift and saw the most beautiful blue typewriter ever!

And I sat at the table that night, wondering if I should write about my dog or my sisters or my mom's crocheted slippers or my parents...

I don't remember what I wrote that night. I don't even remember what happened to that most wonderful gift.

I do know, God planted a love for words deep inside me. It came to life in school. B.B. Hall's speech class taught me the power of words, spoken or written. LaRue Speights' English and Literature class taught the importance of order, syntax, and the impact of story. (I'm sorry Mrs. Speights, I still struggle with a few things. I'm so thankful for editors!)

Several years after we married, I told Tommy I wanted to write curriculum for LifeWay Kids. He encouraged me. I applied and God allowed me to write for them almost ten years. It was a wonderful experience.

During those years, life happened.

And lessons were learned.

And I began learning to give my failures to God and trust him to do what only He can do.

Opportunities presented themselves.

Children. Hundreds of children. All needing to hear the gospel and know God loves them.

Through the ministries of Towering Oaks  Baptist Church I have been gifted with the opportunity to teach and serve among those who teach. Bible study, small groups, Vacation Bible School...so many opportunities.

And the love for words continues to grow and the desire for those words to make a difference in lives continues to grow.

And in a terrifying, exciting whirl of activity God said "Yes."

My mom has been a cheerleader with this writing thing. All along my prayer has been "Please Lord, your timing." When we learned Mom's cancer is back, my prayer changed. "Yes, Lord, I want your will. But, Lord? Please send a contract so my mom can share in it."

Mom is strong and doing well and your prayers are more coveted than they have ever been. When I learned of the book contract, my first instinct was to praise God for being larger than obstacles and more powerful than doubt. Then I called Tommy. Then I called Mom.

God is so good to give me this desire and to open doors.

God is so good to give me family and friends and opportunities.

May HE forever by glorified!

My GOD is so BIG. so STRONG and so MIGHTY! There's NOTHING my GOD cannot do!




Monday, June 5, 2017

Thank you, God, for Pastor Tim

I woke up at 2:30 this morning. It soon became obvious I would not go back to sleep anytime soon.

I prayed for the list of requests that easily came to mind. My mom, my children, my church family, Vacation Bible School, kids camp... I praised Him too. I praised Him for my mom, my children, my church family, Vacation Bible School, kids camp...

I got out of bed and worked on kids camp. It's right around the corner. Many children will be there, ready to have a blast. They will arrive with questions, questions they won't ask out loud.

Questions such as:

Why did my mom die?

Does God care that I am lonely?

When will my mom and dad stop fighting?

Why don't I fit in?

Can God hear my prayers?

Pastor Tim has prepared messages and music for these kids. I am almost finished with the devotion book. The t-shirts are ready for pick up. Long View Ranch is ready for us.

One thing remains and is needed now until next weekend.

Prayer.

Prayer for safety.

Prayer for strong friendships.

Prayer for health.

Prayer for powerful worship.

Prayer for great weather.

Prayer for super-amazing fun.

Prayer for our counselors to be sensitive to the needs of the kids.

Prayer for kids to leave camp with a greater, stronger realization of who God is and just how wide and deep His love is!

Won't you join me in praying for the best camp experience ever?

Won't you join me in praying for Pastor Tim and our counselors?

I love watching God do amazing things! We don't have answers to all of life's questions, but we serve a God who keeps His promises. He is all we need.

Thank you, God, for Pastor Tim!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Watch God Do Amazing Things


The children of Israel watched from afar as the Levitical priests carried the ark of the covenant. Just as God instructed, the priests entered the waters. Just as God promised, the waters stopped flowing as soon as their feet came in contact with the Jordan River as it overflowed its banks.

One day prior, Joshua gathered the people and told them to get ready.

"Consecrate yourselves (set yourself apart for God's glory). Stand back and watch God do amazing things!)

The people did what God commanded. They gathered 12 stones--boulders--from the riverbed and made a remembrance monument on the banks. They built this remembrance so the children would one day wonder at that pile of large rocks.

How did it get there?

Why?

Those questions opened the door for parents and grandparents to tell the children of the amazing way God protected and cared for them as they walked in the wilderness.

Remembering is important.

I have a picture in my mind of our daughter, Hannah, just a few weeks old. She is snuggled up in a baby swing, sleeping soundly. I stood and watched her and thought "I will remember this moment and this beautiful little girl always."

The last time I hugged my sweet "Big Grandpa" as we called him, the Holy Spirit whispered to my heart and I knew I would not see him again this side of heaven. I vividly remember that hug.

I enjoy remembering sweet moments in time.

The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference at Ridgecrest in North Carolina just wrapped up 2017. What a privilege to get to attend.

The worship was very special. As I sang along with my writing-family, I began to remember what weighed me down a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that.

There are reasons to remember the not so sweet moments.

We all have concerns that weave their way into our thoughts. I really have no need to list any, because you are listing your own write now.

So go ahead, and just for 30 seconds or so, list them.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi . . .

Times Up.

Now think back to this time last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.

Can you remember what weighed on you? The best part of remembering is recalling the ways God worked. Now, this is your queue to praise God for His faithfulness in your life. Notice, I didn't say God did everything your way. God is wise and just and powerful and merciful and loving.

When we trust God to be God. . .when we choose to rely on Him through faith. . .we can know that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, God works in all things to bring good to those who love Him.

As I worshipped at Blue Ridge, I counted the ways God worked and provided in the past year.

The God of Joshua hasn't changed.

He is my God.

And today, I choose obedience.

And I'm watching, because He will do amazing things.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Memorial Day and The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat

Those who know me, know I make a habit of Red Friday posts on social media. I've done this for several years and will continue as long as Facebook exists.

I look for quotes and stories, Bible verses and personal thoughts to draw our attention to the ones who lay it all on the line so we can freely and safely go to the grocery store, send our kids to school and worship without fear.

This past Friday, I felt especially heavy hearted as I looked for the proper post for the day. Thinking of Memorial Day just a few days away. . . I couldn't help but think of the Mom's who are without their warriors this year.

I came across an old poem, The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat, and the story of its author.

John Hunter Wickersham, born in 1890, joined the army and by the year 1918 he served as a Second Lieutenant in the 353rd Infantry Regiment in France during WW1.

September 11, 1918, just prior to taking part in battle, Wickersham wrote a letter to his mother. The letter contained a poem he wrote while thinking of her.

The next day, John Hunter Wickersham was seriously injured in battle. He pressed on and led his platoon until he fell later September 12 and died. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 1919.


Second Lieutenant Wickersham's official Medal of Honor citation reads:
Advancing with his platoon during the St. Mihiel offensive, he was severely wounded in 4 places by the bursting of a high-explosive shell. Before receiving any aid for himself he dressed the wounds of his orderly, who was wounded at the same time. He then ordered and accompanied the further advance of his platoon, although weakened by the loss of blood. His right hand and arm being disabled by wounds, he continued to fire his revolver with his left hand until, exhausted by loss of blood, he fell and died from his wounds before aid could be administered.

Here is the poem he wrote the day before he died:

The Raindrops on Your Old Tin Hat
The mist hangs low and quiet on a ragged line of hills.
There’s a whispering of wind across the flat.
You’d be feeling kind of lonesome if it wasn’t for one thing
The patter of the raindrops on your old tin hat.
An’ you just can’t help a-figuring sitting there alone
About this war and hero stuff and that.
And you wonder if they haven’t sort of got things twisted up,
While the rain keeps up its patter on your old tin hat.
When you stop off with the outfit to do your little bit,
You’re simply doing what you’re s’posed to do –
And you don’t take time to figure what you gain or lose –
It’s the spirit of the game that brings you through.
But back at home she’s waiting, writing cheerful little notes,
And every night she offers up a prayer,
And just keeps on a-hoping that her soldier boy is safe –
The Mother of the boy who’s over there.
And fellows, she’s the hero of the great big ugly war,
And her prayer is on the wind across the flat,
And don’t you reckon it’s her tears, and not the rain,
That’s keeping up the patter on your old tin hat?


Second Lieutenant Wickersham was 28 years old.

This Memorial Day weekend I offer prayers of thanksgiving for the heroes who gave their lives for our freedom. I pray for the families who must display the tri-folded American flag and long to hold the one they love.

I will go to the church picnic and enjoy time with family and friends.

But I will not forget what this special day is meant to be.

And I will not forget the men and women whose blood makes American freedom possible.

God bless America.