Thursday, May 22, 2014

Your Daily Brush With Death

This past Sunday was a day unlike any day I have ever faced. After being in ministry for 20 years, you begin to think that you've seen it all. That is so untrue..

We arrived at church earlier than usual on Sunday, when we pulled into the parking lot, Derek noticed something on a picnic table in the field near the gym where we meet for church. Derek said, "Is that a body?" I was like, no way, that looks like some sort of tarp - please Jesus let that be a tarp! I took Kate into the building and called over to a friend to tell him what Derek suspected.

Derek made a beeline to the table to check out the situation, and our friend, Tim also made his way over to the table so Derek would not have to be alone. After they surveyed the scene I watched them pull out their phones, and I knew that was not a good sign. A woman was so distraught that she took her own life the night before and her body was laying in the field right next to where we have church.

How do you take all of this in? I wanted to curl up in a ball and mourn the loss of a woman who I had never known. The heaviness was thick as all of the band and the set up team looked out at a lifeless body lying 200 feet from us. It was then I knew we had to do something other than sit in the thickness of the heaviness that had descended upon us all. We prayed for the woman's family and just prayed for peace. Then the guys stepped up and finished the task ahead of us.

It is times like this that you realize what a leader looks like. A leader has to step up and do what is best for the team and not what he or she feels like at that moment. Many of us wanted to mourn her loss but we knew that the enemy had stolen one life already and we could not allow him to steal any longer. I was so proud of our team, how they stepped up and led the church on Sunday. I was thankful for my husband, who had seen a tragic scene but stood up and preached a beautiful message on compassion.

A friend of ours said later that he never even noticed the woman's body that morning. Walked right into church with out realizing there was a dead person nearby. He poignantly quipped, "How many people do we walk by everyday that have death inside and we don't even notice?" It's true, there are dead people walking by us every day. Christians, it is time to get our eyes off of ourselves and reach out to a lost and dying world. There are people we encounter on a daily basis that are full of hopelessness and we carry the very hope that they need. We carry the resurrection life of Jesus. We must open our eyes to the needs of others.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Wish That I Had Stacy's Dimples

Over lunch today, I was looking for a picture for Throwback Thursday and came upon this lovely gem. It is amazing how just looking at this picture took me back to my eight year old self. I vividly remember when I was posing for this picture. I so wanted to have dimples like my friend Stacy. I thought that smiling like this would somehow make sweet little dimples appear.

This made me laugh at how we are comparing ourselves to others, and in an attempt to be like someone else we just look silly. So, happy Throwback Thursday y'all. Let's embrace who God made us, just the way we are - with or without dimples!

Ephesians 2:10 says "We are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago."

Thursday, May 8, 2014

My Almost Affair

Ok, I feel like I've been pretty open and honest here, but today, I'm going to just lay it all out there. I feel like marriages are under attack in this day and age, and I have a story that I am hoping someone can learn from. Wouldn't it be nice if I could just let y'all into the pretty places, the places where I have done everything right and you can learn from that? Well, no one can relate to perfect! So, here we go...

About fourteen years ago, Derek and I were in the process of building a home. I was a stay-at-home Mom with a two year old, and Derek was traveling about 150 days a year. Needless to say, I was a little lonely.

During the process of building our home, I began to spend quite a bit of time with our builder. He was the same age as me, attractive and very attentive to my needs. So, I began looking forward to our time together. I also made sure that I looked my best when I knew that I would be meeting with him. This is a slippery slope...

One day, as I was getting ready, I found myself thinking about this man and all of the sudden, I sensed the voice of the Holy Spirit saying that I needed to tell my best friend as well as Derek - THAT DAY. Whoa, that weighed heavy on my heart. I mean, I hadn't done anything really wrong, had I? Yikes, I had to expose a secret about myself to my two closest friends.

I am someone who, when I know that God has told me to do something, bless God, I am going to do it. So, I knew I had to tell Derek and my friend that day that I was enjoying the attention of a man who was not my husband!! How do you bring that up? I mean, over my chicken nuggets with our kids playing at Chick-filA, was I supposed to say, "by the way...."

I agonized over this all day and finally broke down and told my friend. I love how she responded to me. She didn't judge me, she prayed with me. When I told Derek, he didn't get upset, he also prayed with me.

It was amazing that, the moment I brought this issue to light, how a weight was lifted off of me and I really didn't think about that man any longer. I am so thankful for the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to tell me that I needed to bring this issue into the light. Nasty things grow in the darkness. Once things are brought out into the open, they can be dealt with.

If there is something you are struggling with, confide in a friend. If you do not have a friend who you feel is close enough to handle such a situation, find a counselor. I truly believe that if I had not brought my struggle into the light, it would have grown into something that would have devastated my family.

Let's live our lives in the open. Let's let people into the hurts and struggles we have so they can help us along the way. No one is meant to walk this life alone. Invite people into your struggles, and I believe those struggles with have less power over you once you take those steps. True freedom is found through community.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Digging Deeper

I have loved Reader's Digest since I was 11 years old. People have always made fun of me for my fascination with what most consider to be an "old person's periodical." I guess I've just always been an old soul.  I came upon an article entitled, "Questions That Will Save Your Relationships." I found this article fascinating.

Derek and I always ask each other - every morning - "so, how did you sleep?" Not digging very deep there, are we? Then when my girls get in the car after school, I ask them how their day was. I try to dig deeper and ask what my Father always asked me, "What did you learn today?" That doesn't seem to go very far either.

Over dinner, we always tell  our favorite thing about our day. I love hearing stories from my girls and Derek's day - it is one of my highlights. The article gave me some great tools on digging deeper with the people who I care about the most. Here is an excerpt from the article.

"After going to therapy we learned to ask each other better questions. If we really want to know our people, we need to ask questions that convey "I'm not just checking the box here. I really care what you have to say and how you feel." If we don't want throwaway answers, we can't ask throwaway questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love. So we don't ask each other "How was your day" anymore.

After a few years of practicing intimate question asking, we now find ourselves asking each other questions like these:

  • When did you feel loved today?
  • When did you feel lonely?
  • What did I do today that made you feel appreciated?
  • What did I say that made you feel unnoticed?
  • What can I do to help you right now?
I know. Weird at first. But not after a while. Not any weirder than asking the same empty questions that elicit the same empty answers. Now when our kids get home from school, we don't say, "How was your day?" Because they don't know. Their day was lots of things.

Instead we ask:
  • How did you feel during your spelling test in English class?
  • What did you say to the new girl when you all went out to recess?
  • Did you feel lonely at all today?
  • Were there any times you felt proud of yourself today?
And I never ask my friends, "How are you?" Because they don't know either. Instead I ask:
  • How is your mom's chemo going?
  • How'd that conference with Ben's teacher turn out?
  • What's going really well with work right now?
Questions are like gifts. It's the thought behind them that the receiver feels. Love is specific. The more attention and time you give to your questions, the more beautiful the answers become."

Y'all isn't this a great idea? Let's dig a little deeper with the ones we love. Let's be a little more intentional with those we most care about. It may seem awkward at first but it's worth it!