Thursday, May 29, 2008

I'll Be Right Here

A couple of days ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with emotions that I wasn't working through very well. These emotions are ones that historically trigger negative thinking patterns and so I was fighting to keep a positive attitude. I went to a yoga class and found myself weeping on and off through portions of the class so when I left, I quickly made a phone call to one of my very best friends in Virginia. She and I have been through a lot together and I knew that she would quickly understand exactly what I was dealing with. I was quite distraught and it was nice to hear her voice.

I poured out my concerns. Most of what I was dealing with had to do with conflicting feelings regarding my upcoming trip to Virginia. My emotional immunities are a little low these days with having a teenage daughter, my mom's upcoming surgery and some personal things that I am working through. My friend listened. She asked a few questions, some of which I had to really think about before answering. I imagine she must be tired of hearing about this stuff since I have been dealing with it on and off for quite a long time. However, she was patient and attentive as I went over things that she has already heard.

As we were wrapping up the conversation, I acknowledged that what I was facing was fear. We laughed at how crazy the human mind works. I shared some of the outlandish thoughts that pop into my mind at the thought of running into people that I don't want to run into, being hurt by people who don't want to run into me, and also feelings of fear about being in this place that I called home for such a long time and having to say good bye - again.

She responded with one of the nicest things that has been said to me by a friend in a very long time, and it counter acted the exact fear that I was facing - being alone.

She said, "Just remember that when you are here I will be right here with you the whole time."


As I pondered this sentence and the encouragement that it brought, I thought about how wonderful it is that God is so faithful, that He does care about our needs and He does answer prayer. He even provides more than we need as He did in this situation. I know that God will be with me as I travel to Virginia. I know that He will protect me from what He does not intend to use in my life. But He takes it a step farther. He gives me a great friend, a Godly friend, one who knows me as well as anyone on earth could know me and provides her strong and God-like support as I walk into a situation that might bring some pain. Don't misunderstand, the trip will be fun and there is a whole lot I am looking forward to; however, there are a few things that are emotionally scary for me. No way would I want to walk through it without God, but He is SO gracious to give me a friend to be beside me - one that I can hug if I get scared or hurt.

To hear the words, "I will be right here with you the whole time." is a wonderful promise from God and a wonderful promise from my friend too.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Ugly Truth / The Beautiful Truth

It is true that the people that we love the most can also deliver the deepest hurt. Sadly, I, like many others have experienced this first hand. Sadly, I, like others have been on the receiving end of the hurt and as well as the giving end. I can't make up my mind which one hurts more.

I have a friend who I have loved like a sister. The enjoyment of our friendship was very "David and Jonathon", if you will. We understood each other easily and without effort. But, due to the influence of various events, our friendship has taken very drastic turns in our ability to remain close. Some of these changes are out of our control, but some are changes that one or the other of us have purposefully made. A few of them were meant to have positive results and a couple of them have been made in response to hurt. It may be one of the most painful experiences of my entire life...ranking right along with death of loved ones and my mother's horrible accident. I am shocked at the depth of the anguish that tries to stick in my mind and heart. I struggle with wanting to hold on to resentment. I think this is a natural, human way to react to feeling hurt, but it is not the way that I choose to react. It certainly is not God's way.

The greatest danger for me in admitting resentment in my mind and heart is it often leads to the desire to retaliate. I feel justified in wanting to even the score, hurt back and try to do it with a deeper hurt than what I experienced. I want to pay back to others what they have done to me. That is the ugly truth about me.

But I have to stop and think. How can I logically and mercifully consider trying to punish someone for what she did to me? I cannot possibly understand her motives or intentions. Could it be that the hurt was not intentional? Maybe I am being over sensitive? Even though I might know the person that has hurt me, and know her well, I cannot judge her heart based on her behavior.

Nobody has given me the right to punish anyone for anything. My God reserves that right to Himself. "Vengence is mine, saith the Lord." Therefore any attempt at retaliation for an injury can only react unhappily on me. (ODAT in Al-Anon)

The beautiful truth is that with God, I can handle all things that He allows into my life, even this. I will respond with grace and mercy, acknowlegding the wound and allowing Him to heal. I choose to not become hard hearted and self protective, but to learn from what I have experienced and be tender hearted toward the friends that are in my life today.

(The Lord) heals the brokenhearted and binds up thier wounds. Psalm 147:3

Monday, May 26, 2008

Worship...Places and Postures

In the course of this journey called my life, there have been many different terrains that I have traveled. My personal experience of what it means to worship God has changed many times over the years and it seems that I am on a new path that is very wonderful.

As a child, I attended a church service every week. I sat in the front pew on the right hand side of the sanctuary at the 8:30 a.m. service of a very traditional Lutheran church. Week after week it was pretty much the same...the liturgy which included several settings of the Divine Service, Responsive Prayer, the Litany, and brief time for individual and family prayer. I loved going. This type of service holds a very special place for me and I would welcome the opportunity to occasionally worship in that setting, but it is not the only atmosphere conducive for worship for me.

As an adult woman, first as an unbeliever and now as a follower of Christ, I have participated in many different worship atmospheres. Some of these have been in church settings. I have worshiped in different styles of traditional services along with some more contemporary ones. Most of my experiences have been positive and I was able to express my love and praise of God and I am pleased to have the freedom to do so without fear or condemnation.

Recently though, I came into a season where my time of worship was not what it should have been...not what it could have been. I found myself in a place in my life where I was "doing" church. I was over committed - in all the right things. Although I loved the areas of ministry that I was serving in, (and I am still certain that God was the one who directed me into them), my heart became hard. My personal time with God was good but the time I spent in corporate worship was dissatisfying and strained. Satan had stolen a small part of me and his deception was hindering my ability to express my praise and love.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Ps 34:18

God moved me. He not only moved my heart, but He moved me away.

I have traveled over three years since that time and He has shown me many things. He has given me time... lots and lots of time. During this time, I have been able to see things that I desperately wanted to change. He has revealed things that He desperately wanted me to change.

I (along with my family) have worshiped in a dozen different churches since our move. I have worshiped in more than a dozen locations, that are not church buildings. God provided time for my family and I to rest and to heal from some hurt. We attended a mega church for over two years; actively giving, serving, and participating in a ministry that is thriving and providing a place for many, many people to learn more about Jesus.

The last several months, we are worshiping at a smaller (but still large around 5000 instead of 20,000) congregation. Each move that God initiates, He moves me closer to Him. My faith is increased. I trust Him more, and not just Him, but "the church". I can sit in a service that is planned and prayed over with the purpose of bringing people closer to Him, and it does! My heart is becoming tender. Worship has become new and refreshing. It has become a time of joy and something that I look forward to. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry. His word has become alive again, the songs have become prayers again, the rejoicing has become real again and He is changing my life.

I am free to worship and I worship a God who is on my side!

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands.
Ps 63:4

Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker Ps 95:6

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.
Ps 105:2

David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the LORD with all his might
2 Sam 6:14

Worship - lifting hands, singing, kneeling, praying, dancing...

One of the places where I enjoy worship, the gathering of the church.

Another location to worship, the best room in the back porch.

A great place to worship, in the quiet hours of the morning before the family is awake.

A place that I miss where I love to worship. (I will get the chance in a few weeks!)

I love God. He is so awesome. All praise and glory to Him.


Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.
Ps 96:9

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Pray for the family of Steven Curtis Chapman as they say their earthly farewell to Maria Sue Chapman.

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'" Revelation 21:1-4

My Friend

Life is more joyful

Because you're my friend
The joys are doubled
The sorrows are shared
Our souls are connected
Our hearts we did bare

Sometimes it's so wonderful
To have you around
And sometimes so painful
When in pain we are found
Forgiveness and mercy
In God's love we're bound

The friendships of women
Go deep and can hurt
But the sharing can cover
huge triumphs and real dirt
I give you my secrets,
my trust
and my shirt

Mistakes have been made
on both of our parts
But forever you'll have
a piece of my heart
My goal is to love
and not mess up, if I'm smart

I have broken your trust
I have hurt you with words
And I'm am so very sorry
God's best - not just good
is my hope for the future
His will and I should

Best friendships are rare
and a gift, I am sure
to be treasured forever
with a love that is pure
Life has more beauty
When friendship endures


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Monday, May 19, 2008


One of my favorite blog friends posted this video on her blog this week along with a story of how God has changed her life. It is a beautiful and encouraging, and honest story of her journey with God. (You can read it here)

I watched the video this morning. After the week that I had, after the way that I found my way back into the arms of God, for the hundredth time in my walk with Him, I was rejoicing at how He always wins!

My journey has not been easy. I did not know Jesus until I was in my twenties. My childhood was happy, but not perfect. I experienced things that made me question the reality of a loving God. I knew children who had been abused as my family cared for them in foster care. I knew the effects of alcohol and the chaos that the disease of alcoholism will bring into one's life. I knew of drugs and the consequences of trying to find love in all the wrong places. I was abused by a boyfriend. My brother committed suicide. My parents divorced. My concept of God was that He could not possibly be there, and if He was, He certainly did not care about me. By the time I was 18, I was a self proclaimed atheist.

But then I met Him and my life changed. I felt the love and security of what it is to have Him in my life. I knew, for the first time, what it is like to have someone love me, no matter what I had done, no matter what I had witnessed, and no matter what questions that I had for Him. He was patient. He taught me about Him. He loved me. He stood by - and still does - watching me, protecting me, and fighting my battles when I ask Him to step in. My life sometimes still looks like the young girl in this video. I know many others who can say the same thing. But what really counts, what really matters, is the way He steps in and makes all things right. He really is everything.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Music Is Medicine For The Soul

Sick. Hurt. Brokenhearted. Afraid. Disappointed. Terrified. Exhausted. Alone. Remorseful.

Those were the emotions and feelings that occupied most of last week for me. It started out with the Mother's Day fiasco and continued. I had to rush my daughter to the emergency department for a laceration repair, my mom found out that the hardware that holds her broken leg together fell apart, and I ended up more ill than I have been in years and years. I am still sad and disheartened over the circumstances in one of my close friendships and even my husband and I were not clicking along as we usually do.


I did all the normal things that I know to do during seasons like this. I spent extra time with God, I read His word and other material that would help me see things in a more positive light. I contacted a couple of close friends (I was so down that even THAT took a couple of days) and told them what was going on. I went to my yoga class, ate healthy, got extra sleep and tried keeping my focus on God and His wonderful goodness. I almost canceled out on my Thursday night support meeting, but went anyway, knowing I needed the encouragement and support more than anything.

But I still felt yuck.

However, there were two events this week that lifted my spirits and soothed my soul. On Wednesday night, I attended my daughter's end of year band concert. I was running a horrible fever and felt like I had been under the rear of a sitting elephant, but she was playing three solos in this concert and I wasn't about to miss them. So, I drugged myself with ibuprofen, put extra color on my pasty cheeks and went to the band concert. Now, I really enjoy middle school band concerts. Some people complain about them, but they warm my heart. The director always is so proud and the kids are so fun to watch. No matter how they play, they believe they played beautifully. I love to give them tons of applause and I love to watch them stand and bow to the audience. Tonight was no exception. My daughter played perfectly. She looked lovely. And the concert warmed my cold and hurting heart. The Beginner band played my favorite song from my third grade music class. The memories came flooding into my heart and for a few short minutes, I was eight years old again. It was well worth the effort it took for me to attend and I experienced joy in the midst of a crummy week.

A couple of days later my daughter, my mother and I attended the Texas Flute Society Annual Flute Festival at University North Texas. This has become an annual event and it has been so much fun in past years that I invited my mom to join us. And we were not disappointed. The sounds of flutes filled the buildings and the air outside. Children and adults young and old, there to learn, to perform, to enjoy and to participate in the wonder of music. The highlight (besides my daughter's performances) was our introduction to a Beat boxer and his "band".... Greg Patillo and Project. Cool, cool stuff. His concert was amazing and my daughter was impressed. We had the opportunity to talk to these musicians, get autographs, and even a photo. Rebecca's flute case is now permanently signed by Greg Patillo and she will cherish it for years to come.

As I walked around, sat and listened, and allowed the music to fill my being, there was a renewed sense of what is lovely in the world. I still felt a little under the weather due to the sinus infection that I have, I still felt upset about my mom's leg and upcoming surgery, I still felt remorse for some things that I have done wrong, and I was still sad over the condition of my friendship, but it was OK. I was OK. Life is OK, in fact, not just OK...beautiful. The antibiotics will take care of the illness. My mom's surgeon is very capable. My daughter has forgiven me. And there is hope in my friendship.

As we left the festival, my attitude was different. My circumstances were the same, but my prayer had been answered, I enjoyed what was present. God is with me right now, and if I am living in the past or looking to the future, then I will miss what He has for me today. He showed me that in a big way this past weekend. And He used the beautiful language of music to speak to me, to help heal me. Music is medicine for the soul.

Our God, I am faithful to you

with all my heart,

and you can trust me.

I will sing

and play music for you

with all that I am.

Psalm 108:1

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Girl's Night Out??

Recently, Angela, a friend of mine from Canada came into town and invited all her Texas girlfriends out on what is typically called "Girl's Night Out." I was eager to see my friend and looking forward to some time out on the town, if you will. I always enjoy spending time with her and have come to enjoy the friends that I have met through the Girl's Events that she hosted when she lived in Texas.

One thing that was different about this night out with the girls is that my friend, Kim, (behind me in the photo) and I decided we wanted to take our "men" with us. So, we both asked them if they wanted to join us on a Girls Night Out, and they hesitantly accepted our invitation. We did not have the opportunity to alert Angela and the other ladies that we were crashing the ladies night with men, but we hoped it would be well received.

Now, here is where the interesting part of the story comes in for me. There were many, many years that it would have been a very cold day in a very hot location before I would have invited my husband along on a Girls Night Out. Usually, I was ready for a break, some alone time with my girlfriends...not that I don't enjoy my husband or would do or say anything with my girlfriends that I would not do or say in front of him, but I just liked my time. So what has changed?

Maybe since there is nothing that I can say or do that my husband has not already heard or seen. That makes him a very comfortable companion. Or maybe because I have the freedom to spend regularly scheduled time alone with my girlfriends that it is not as sacred as it used to be. I have a meeting that I attend once a week...and I have only missed one in 5 months that satisfies my need for girl time. And the prayer group of ladies that I see once or twice a month meets even different needs. Both of these groups are deeply intimate, full of accountability, helpful but with heaps of laughter. These ladies know the same deep, dark secrets that my husband knows, but they see me from the feminine perspective. They understand the relationship struggles, the emotional struggles, and the mood swings. They also understand my need for chocolate, my occasional feelings of repulsion at the thought of exercise, and why I cry when I am laughing and why I laugh when I cry.

So, the well balanced relationships, the needs all being met, have changed something in my social life that blew me away. I wanted my husband along on Girls Night Out. And what a blast it was! He and Joe were amazed at the conversation. They laughed out loud because there was no holding back by these gals. Our men heard it all...from PMS to libido. They watched flirting and food fights. And they were told what wonderful, excellent man partners they were to Kim and myself. My husband was told about the last ladies night out I was on with this same group where I talked him up quite a bit. It was fun for him because all the nice things I said about him were repeated back to him, not by me, but by the ladies that heard them before. What a great thing for a man's ego, to go out with his wife's girlfriends and hear what nice things she says about him. He was beaming from ear to ear.

What fun stuff! To be able to comfortably, happily, and without regret include my wonderful husband on Girls Night Out.

Here is my great husband, hanging out with me and my girlfriends, Angela and Kim. The photo below is Kim's great man, Joe hanging out with the girls! Take a look at these great guys!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Mother's Day Lesson

It is the end of Mother's Day weekend...the weekend where this mom was expecting to be pampered and spoiled. For the most part, I was, but I forgot that I have a daughter who is 14. That means she is at the age where she believes the world revolves around her, a lot of the time.

When my daughter first hit this phase of her life, I posted a blog about her. (Having a Teenage Daughter.) It is still very much true about having a teenage daughter and I have heard that it can last until she is 18 years old or so. Oh, I need prayer.

Saturday night my husband and I went out and our daughter went to the mall with some friends. She had shopped for my Mother's Day gift and was so excited that she waited only until midnight to present me with a pair of beautiful tri-colored hoop earrings. They are beautiful and I really love them.

But something happened on Mother's Day afternoon and my excited daughter became angry with me. She decided that I was undeserving of those earrings and wanted to take them back. It broke my heart. Even though I knew she was upset, it crushed me to know that she changed her mind about giving them to me.

Long story made very short, the earrings were presented back to me. Not without tears and apologies.

I had planned on wearing the earrings today and decided not to. My daughter and I were still at odds this morning and we had another wicked fight. I was hurt, she was hurt and I could not wear the earrings because I did not feel that I deserved to.

This evening my daughter asked me if I had worn them. When I told her how I felt, she made me promise to wear them tomorrow. I think I will.

I know that I don't deserve them. I don't deserve her apology and honestly she doesn't deserve mine either. We both behaved very badly. This morning, when I was tempted to behave the way she deserved (at one point I did), I was challenged (by the Holy Spirit, I am sure) to respond to her in the way that God does when I don't deserve his grace and mercy. This thought stopped me in my tracks. Unfortunately, it was not soon enough to say I was Christ-like through out the entire conflict, but He did get my attention. And I realized how many times I have yelled at Him, thrown things at Him, told Him how much He has let me down and He never yelled back at me, never threw anything at me, and only tells me how He wants what's best for me...even when it is hard for me to understand.

As a mother of a teenage daughter, I must keep this in mind as I deal with her outbursts, her self-centeredness, and her irrational behavior. She looks just like me. I pray that I will be able to show her even some of the amount of grace, mercy and love as what God does when I act like a 14 year old in His presence.

So, even though my Mother's Day was not perfect, neither am I. But, I had the perfect lesson for me and for my daughter as we love one another and as I continue to try and point her to Jesus Christ. After a day like today, she does know that it is only through Him that I can be a good Mom.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Waiting....Be Still and Know That I Am God

Life is so fragile. I have found myself thinking about this quite often in the past few weeks. Mostly because my husband's father was diagnosed last fall with cancer. He was reportedly in remission but last week had a very scary week. We were on stand-by, if you will, to make that one last trip...the one that you dread but hope that if you have to make it, that you will make it in time. I am happy to say that God seems to have performed another miracle in this man's life. And now I am looking at what will happen next. You see, God has used close calls in the health of my father-in-law to teach me very important things about Himself.

The first time was in 1987. My father-in-law had a sudden attack of pancreatitis. I did not know at the time what that was, but I did know it made him very sick. Instead of getting better, he got worse and developed peritonitis, a condition that fills the abdomen with infected fluid. After two months in the hospital with little improvement, the doctors sentenced Bob, my father-in-law, to death. At this time, I did not believe in Jesus Christ. In fact, I was a pretty strong atheist. But, I watched this family, now my family through marriage, seek this God that they claimed could perform miracles and they asked for one. Their God answered that request. Bob began to improve and eventually was discharged from the hospital and went on to recover beautifully. From everything that I witnessed, it was a miracle.

I accepted Jesus Christ that year.

Several years later, my husband and our family had been living in Virginia for going on ten years when Bob got sick again. All of my family, and my husband's, live in Oklahoma. So, for my husband or myself to be available during these times of possible family crisis, it seemed near impossible. I was not comfortable with this, but resigned to the restrictions we had living so far away from our family. A few weeks after his second brush with death, I was on a business trip with my very good friend, riding on a bus to go to a conference, telling her about the condition of my father-in-law. In that conversation, I expressed that I was starting to feel like it was time to go "home". She agreed to pray with me about this because she knew it was heavy on my heart. God was the Great Physician - again - and Bob recovered when the doctor's thought it would be the beginning of the end.

The next thing that happened was my husband was layed off and a year and a half later, accepted a job just five hours away from our family home.

Six weeks after we moved, my mother and her husband were in the motorcycle accident that changed our lives as we knew it. I am so glad that I was here, close enough to be "home" in a few hours, close enough to stay with my mom for nearly two months while she convalesced, close enough to say good-bye to my step father of twenty two years when he passed away a few days after the accident. And it was no accident that our family was close by. God knew way ahead of time. He had everything under control and set things up just how they needed to be.

So now I wait. I expect that God has something coming but I don't know what. I have learned how to recognize His work in my life. I also have learned some of the patterns of the ways that He gets my attention. This is one of those times, I feel it. I sense it. And even though I am a little nervous, He always knows what's best and what is right. I am keeping my eyes on Him and waiting.

I pray that my husband's father will experience another miracle. His condition has improved the last two days.

And I pray that I am walking close enough to my loving Father, my gracious God, and my Savior to be ready for the next lesson that He has for me.

Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10


May these words speak to your heart like they speak to mine.

We condemn a man for stumbling this morning, but we didn't see the blows he took yesterday. We judge a woman for the limp in her walk, but cannot see the tack in her shoe. We mock the fear in their eyes, but have no idea how many stones they have ducked or darts they have dodged.

Are they too loud? Perhaps they fear being neglected again. Are they too timid? Perhaps they fear failing again. Too slow? Perhaps they fell last time they hurried. You don't know. Only one who has followed yesterday's steps can be their judge.

Not only are we ignorant about yesterday, we are ignorant about tomorrow. Dare we judge a book while chapters are yet unwritten? Should we pass a verdict on a painting while the artist still holds the brush? How can you dismiss a soul until God's work is complete? "God began doing a good work in you and I am sure He will continue until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again" (Phil. 1:6)

In The Grip Of Grace

You will be judged in the same way that you judge others. Matthew 7:2

Thursday, May 8, 2008

God's Love Goes to Myanmar

Six days ago, a cyclone hit the Union of Myanmar (historically known as Burma). The death toll is high and several thousand people are missing. Myanmar has a disturbing politial history and has not accepted aid from foreign countries in nearly two decades.

The church that I attend is a church that reaches out to spread God's love and help in disasters here in the United States and overseas. I am proud to be part of a congregation who seeks to be like Jesus in times such as this. God is glorified and needs are met. Thank God for a godly pastor who prays, encourages, and honors God as he leads the church family that God has called him to oversee.

Please be encouraged by the letter Pastor Matt sent out to the church. Pray for the team going from The Village Church. Pray for the other's from the US and other countries as they go into this difficult situation. Pray that the people and the government of Myanmar will see God in this disaster.

It is an honor to be part of a church that is honoring God and it is my joy to be witness to His glory!

Pass it on.

May 2008 / Issue #2

Dear church family,

Once again, I tip my hat to you. Thank you for responding with passion to the plea that went out earlier this week about the relief trip to Myanmar.

Five members of The Village will board a plane Thursday morning on their way to Myanmar to assist in relief efforts for the next 14 days. They'll be working with an agency called Thirst No More, and their main goal will be to provide clean water to the area.

Thank you for making it possible for the five to go. In all, we had more than 100 of you respond in a matter of hours, with offers to sponsor someone or make the trip yourself. Matt Elkins, our church's short-term missions pastor, and Josh Drew, worship pastor at the Denton campus, will be joined by Ashley Massingale, Lauren Taylor and Brian Padgett. The group will be leaning heavily on our prayers.

Officials now estimate the death toll at more than 100,000. It's hard for me to imagine that. I beg you to pray for this country and for our five-person group. Pray that amid horrendous devastation that our Lord's name will be glorified. Pray fervently for the things our group will see, feel and touch ... that God will draw them closer through this experience. We'll keep you updated on the group's progress as soon as we hear from them.

When our church responds like it does to these calls it reminds me that five years ago we decided that we would not gauge our success here at The Village by numbers. We weren't going to simply look at weekly attendance or offerings to judge our success. We made our mission at The Village to glorify God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's why I have loved the video testimonies we have been showing in the weekend services. They reveal that we are doing what we set out to do. Lives are being changed. They are being changed by the gospel of Jesus, and those lives are glorifying God. It's easy to preach after those videos.

I want to invite you to join us next Monday, May 12 at 7 p.m. at the Denton campus where we are going to get together to do a little bit of worship and a lot of praying. We'll do the same in Highland Village on Tuesday, May 13. The last nine months have been crazy with the addition of the Denton campus and the purchase of the Flower Mound campus. We want to come together again and ask God to bless us, to cry out that He is what we want, He is what we are after, His name exalted, worshipped and enjoyed. We want to ask God to protect us and guide us through the next few months. There is nothing more important that we can do than humble ourselves before God. Please join us at one of the gatherings.

This weekend, we'll be talking about the eternal purposes of why we live where we do, work where we work, have the friends we have and enjoy the games we play. I can't wait to see you.

For the joy of all people,
Matt Chandler
Lead Pastor

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Keeping Our Vision Clear (Chapter 7)

So, I am a little late on my post this week. I had quite a few things to ponder from this chapter, the first one in how many times I have sounded like Lysa as she fought for her new kitchen curtains. But what really spoke to my heart was the countenance on Lysa's face as she looked in the mirror post victory after winning permission for the curtains. My husband recently told me that my own facial expression seemed much more relaxed in recent months as I have let go of some self focused vision of my own. I looked back at some photographs taken during the time that I was really struggling and realized that my own expression was harsh and the smile was forced. I knew that the only way that I would regain the genuine joy in my face was to focus on God and quit looking at myself. It was a timely reminder.

I loved reading the story of Peter's radical obedience. Read the story here. And the three truths that Lysa pointed out were radically simple but radically important to our vision of obedience.

Our call to obedience may challenge our pride.
How true and what a great example in Peter's story. Peter was, after all, the professional fisherman and Jesus was a carpenter. When Jesus told Peter to drop his net on the other side of the boat, I love how Peter didn't argue that he knew more about fishing than Jesus did. He just did it, swallowed his pride and did it.

God uses our experiences to equip us for our calling.
This is a truth that I have believed in the past, but realized when I read this section that I have stopped living like I believe it. Maybe my more recent experiences have been so difficult that I just want to dump them when it is over. I have even prayed and looked forward to the change that I am certain God has in store for me when He sees me to the other side. But to equip me for my calling? Somehow along the way, I quit looking at my current and recent experiences as part of my "training", so to speak. What a wonderful thing to grab hold of again. Knowing that really and truly, what He is bringing me through will be necessary for me to do what He calls me to do.

Our obedience may inspire others to respond.
Good stuff. Isn't that what it is all about? And Lysa hits a great point as she addresses what Peter did with all those fish he caught...he left everything and followed Jesus. Our obedience is not to be about the blessings that we receive because of our obedience, but how we glorify Him and point other people to Him.

The other thing that challenged me was Lysa's story about Art's hunting trip in Africa. My husband is considering making a very large airplane. (we should have this decision by the end of the month...please pray with me!) I want to be encouraging and know that it is something that he has always dreamed of. So far, I have managed to give only positive feedback, but occasionally, my focus becomes very self centered. I think about the things that I might have to sacrifice, financially and regarding my husband's time. I sometimes am hit with how frivolous this purchase seems. But, what I really know is my husband is a very wise man. He makes great financial decisions and I have no reason to not trust him. I also know that he has sacrificed almost everything that he has wanted for me to stay home with the children, to pay for college tuition so we don't have to take loans, let me drive the newer car - ALWAYS - and many, many other sacrifices over the years. I believe that it is absolutely possible that making this purchase could change him, in positive ways as well. ( my dear husband is a little uptight when it comes to spending ) My desire is to give him the respect that he deserves and desires. My vision may be a little narrow here, but I want to see the bigger picture in this situation.

So, I end this chapter with Lysa's beautiful prayer.

Oh, Lord, give me the desire to be too busy looking at You to consider anything but Your plan! Strip away my short and narrow vision to see the wonderful adventure of truly being Your follower. Help me to be like Your disciples who followed immediately and fully rather than like the people who simply played games at the foot of your cross.

My favorite quote this chapter: "Truly a woman who says yes to god knows that her life will follow where she focuses her vision."

Monday, May 5, 2008

Summer is Coming

I love summer. I love the lazy days of spending time with my family, friends, and enjoying the beauty of the plants and creatures that come out to play in the warm months. Sunday afternoon was the start of these days coming. My husband and I went to church (yes, the service where I laughed a lot) and enjoyed a nice meal together. (I have to admit, it was a better date than the night before.)

Afterward, we decided that we would do a little work in the yard. I had a few plants that I wanted to plant and some weeding that needed to be done. I also wanted to take a picture of my son's plants that we have inherited since he went to college. Adam has always had an interest in carnivorous plants and we have babysat his plants since he went off to the mountains to go to school. These plants only thrive in zone 8 or 9, so when we moved to Texas and he stayed in Blacksburg, we kept them with us. They have been very fun to have around and I was kind of dreading the day that we would have to return them to him. I had already planned how I would transplant a few of them and keep some for myself. However, since he know lives in the DC area, it looks like I will get to keep them a few more years anyway. They are great conversation starters when people see them and I love talking about my son, the plants, and how he has been studying them since he was a little bitty guy. This year, the plants have gone a little wild. They are flowering and feeling real happy, I guess knowing that they don't have to move back to the east coast. So, I took some pictures for my son, so he could see how happy they are.

After taking photos of the flesh eating plants, my daughter and I decided that we would enjoy a little time in the sun. When we bought this house, we knew that we would spend a good deal of time outside, and we do. We spend lots and lots of hours out by the pool...talking, reading, napping, and just being together.

Now, I have to back up a little bit and tell you that when my husband and I were looking at this house three years ago, I knew that I loved it. But the final decision came when I was standing in the backyard and a gecko walked along the brick ledge of the back porch. Keep in mind, that my nickname is "Lizard". Not only is it my nickname, but I like lizards. I think they are cool and funny so when I saw the gecko walking toward me, I told my husband, "I think this is our house." So, contrary to some of the Texans in the area who dislike these little reptiles, I enjoy them, talk to them and even name the ones when I can tell they are living in the same area of the garden for a length of time.

Rebecca and I put on our swim suits, got our drinks and books, and prepared to spend some quality time in the sun. As we got ready to position our lounge chairs in just the right angle for ideal sun, I realized that we had a guest. So, I spoke to our little gecko friend and asked if I could have my chair. He looked at me and refused. So, I drug my chair across the deck while he rode to the new spot in the sun. And I sat down, with the gecko, to bask in the sun. Maybe I am a lizard?

We spent the entire afternoon, lounging and talking, soaking up the warm Texas sun. This home is such a blessing to us. We love to relax amidst all the green and the flowers and butterflies and birds and geckos that share our habitat. And we are excited for the days to come doing exactly the same thing. What a wonderful way to spend the day. I am so glad that summer is coming. We had the first taste of it yesterday.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

What is Funny?

Last night, my husband and I went on a date. We don't get to do this very often because he is getting his Master's degree, but last night we set aside some time for just us. We went to our favorite bar-b-que restaurant and chowed down. (after 8 weeks of vegetarianism, this felt very sinful!) Then we decided to go and see a movie. I had heard from several people about a comedy that was suppose to be quite funny - Baby Mama. I had seen the previews and watched the trailer on the Internet and it looked pretty good. My husband did what he likes to do, read the review and check the "grade" that it got in the newspaper. Our paper rated this particular movie a B. Pretty good for a chick flick type comedy, so we decided to give it a try. I was in the mood for a good laugh after having thought about some serious and somewhat sobering things through out the day. My husband's father is in the hospital (again) not doing well, another friend on chemo is not doing well, and a friend of mine is feeling frustrated with me over this trip to Virginia. I thought it would be good for both my husband and myself to laugh at some totally silly stuff.

We sat through the movie and even though it was cute and entertaining, it wasn't really that funny. I am not sure if I even laughed out loud. If I did, it was not one of those belly laughs that I enjoy. Sadly, all the funniest parts were already revealed in the previews. My husband and I left the theater, just a little disappointed, but not really wanting to say so. I started thinking about the friends who thought it was funny. One of them is a friend who I know that I don't agree with when it comes to comedy. Even though she and I think a lot alike in some ways, when it comes to what is funny, we just aren't on the same page. I realized this when she actually was happy to own "Cheaper By The Dozen" and I found the movie nerve racking and stressful.

I sometimes wonder if there is something wrong with me because I do not think these kinds of things are funny. And I believe that I have a sense of humor. In fact, my boss says to me several times a week, "You are so funny!" (I never have thought of myself as funny...some people do though)

All day today, I have pondered the type of things that I think are funny. When I was in the worship service today, I laughed more often and with deeper feeling than I did at the movie. My pastor is very funny, very intelligent, but also very funny. I wondered why I laugh more at church than at a funny movie. I guess I laugh at things that I can relate to. I can laugh at Matt's jokes about silly human behavior...I do some of things that he makes jokes about. I did not really think it was funny to watch someone urinate in a sink. I snickered, but really funny? Not really.

Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy comedies. Some of them are very funny. I should be embarrassed to admit that I like humor that is slightly Seinfeld. LOL! That has to be one of the funniest shows ever. And Friends. So, it has nothing to do with urine since one of the funniest Friends episodes ever is when Chandler pees on Monica because she got stung by a jelly fish. So, I don't know, maybe the fact that the movie we saw last night had a good amount of dishonesty and a lot of hurt and disappointment. Maybe those things disturbed my thinking enough to inhibit the funny bone and keep me from laughing.

Overall, the date with my hubby was good. We laughed over dinner and laughed over how we didn't really laugh at the movie. It was cute, but not outstanding. I don't regret having seen it, but won't be tempted to buy it and watch it again. And I will keep trying to figure out the answer to my question to myself, "What is funny?"

...a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...
Ecc 3:4

Friday, May 2, 2008

Give and Take

This morning I called my friend, Tina, for one of our early morning chats on my way to work. I had not talked with her in a couple of days because I had been feeling just a little bummed. There was no real reason for this, but as an old friend of mine used to say, "Things just aren't lining up for me." So, I called her to touch base before the weekend and I told her that I was feeling a little out of sorts. Oddly, she had been feeling a little the same way the last couple of days (most likely why she hadn't called me either), so we encouraged one another and I prayed for her when we got off the phone. And, as usual, I felt better after we talked and was grateful to have a friend that I can talk to and be honest when I don't feel quite right and I don't know why. Plus, we went over some planning for my trip out to Virginia that really was good to discuss and hammer out, so to speak. When the conversation came to a close, I told her how glad I was to have her as a friend. I didn't say (but I should have) that I was glad that I called her. Talking to her turned my attitude around. I guess I could say that it was more "take" on my part, since I don't feel like I "gave" much to her. But, it will come around in due time.

I went into my work day feeling a little more upbeat than I expected. However, I became challenged in this area too. Long story short, another department is moving into the area right next to mine. I had discussed with the supervisor of this department some of my concerns and he assured me that my desires would be met. What neither of us anticipated was having to share a printer/copier and the workspace around it. After speaking to him, I went to discuss my concerns with our Chief Billing Officer, Jeff. Thankfully, he has an open door policy, which I have used on a few occasions so our relationship is well established. Also, we have a good personal repore, which helps. He listened to me and agreed to assist me and then changed the subject by saying, "Hey, I have something for you!" My response was, "WHAT?" He looked in his briefcase, his wallet, and finally in his desk drawer and pulled out some concert tickets and handed them to me. I squealed when I saw that they were tickets to the upcoming Radiohead concert. I had asked him about them back in February when we were all on the ski trip.
(that's Jeff in the background carrying Felicia's ski's...see blog titled Girls Gone Wild)

He gave them to me and I took them.

So, there is a young guy who I have become friends with at work who really wanted to see the concert. He seemed a little too shy to ask for the tickets (long story...our boss has concert ticket hook ups) so I thought I would ask for him. So, today, when Jeff handed me the tickets, I was thrilled. I did call my husband to see if he wanted to go. (he likes Radiohead...I think they are OK) My hubby declined and so I told him that I would give them to my friend. He agreed. So, I gave the free tickets over to my young 25 year old friend and he was stoked! It was the most fun thing I have done in days...maybe even weeks! He was so excited that he was shaking. He even gave me a hug. It was great to make him so happy.

Let me tell you what, my day was outstanding from that moment on. If I started out feeling out of sorts, I rediscovered the joy of making someone else's day. I continued to relive the excitement that my friend expressed as he found out the tickets were his.

It was a day of give and take. And it was beautiful.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

National Day of Prayer

On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law. 1972 the National Prayer committee was formed which went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force for the purpose of coordinating events for the National Day of Prayer. In 1988, Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law decreeing that the National Day of Prayer should be the first Thursday of May.

The intention of the National Day of Prayer is that it should be a day when members of all faiths could pray together in their own way, involving all faiths, any faith and no organized religion who wished to participate.

To read more about the National Day of Prayer visit the website.

Here is a devotional from Max Lucado taken from Grace For the Moment. Perfect for today...

Prayers Are Precious Jewels

The Lord sees the good people and listens to their prayers. 1 Peter 3:12

You and I live in a loud world. To get someone's attention is no easy task. He must be willing to set everything aside to listen: turn down the radio, turn away from the monitor, turn the corner of the page and set down the book. When someone is willing to silence everything else so he can hear us clearly, it is a privilege. A rare privilege, indeed.

Your prayers are honored in heaven as precious jewels. Purified and empowered, the words rise in a delightful fragrance to our Lord....Your words do not stop until they reach the very throne of God...

Your prayer on earth activates God's power in heaven, and "God's will is done on earth as it is in heaven."...

Your prayers move God to change the world. You may not understand the ;mystery of prayer. You don't need to. But this much is clear: Actions in heaven begin when someone prays on earth.

The Great House Of God

Take time today to lift prayers up to God, in the many events that are being sponsored today across the country and privately. Pray for our leaders, the upcoming election, the servicemen who are serving our country. Pray for those who do not have enough food, or water, or shelter. Pray for your family and your own walk with the Lord. Pray for those who do not know Him to see Him all over the place and be drawn to Him. Pray that you will be available to help Him with that. Just pray.