Saturday, July 31, 2010

Father, forgive them, they know not what they say

It's obvious if you've read many of my post that you know that God has given me a heart for those imprisoned. I can't help it. I didn't choose it. I didn't go looking for it. I didn't ask for it. It chose me. It gripped my heart. It's just part of who I am. Evidently part of what I was made for. Part of my purpose. Part of God's plan. Part of how I was created. Part of God's will. It's what my feelings bleed for. They've captivated my thoughts. I cannot help but think about them and want to help. It's my passion. A "compassion" if you will... because it's a passion that has to go, has to "come" to them. My love compels me. Or rather, God's love in me compels me and moves me to do so.

So... it's in the prisons I go.

Granted, it's not for everybody. None of us all called to do everything. My calling isn't yours. And your calling isn't mine. And aren't we glad, because there's so much work everywhere to get done.

Here's my problem.

I didn't mentioned it to the person I was talking to. They brought it up. They knew that I went. And here's what they said, "You know, in the bible when we are told to visit those in prison it was talking about those imprisoned for preaching the gospel."

The statement stunned me. To be honest, it hurt. It startled. It saddened. It devastated. It was a Christian that said it. I didn't see it coming. I love the one that was saying. I highly esteem them. I respect them greatly! I guess that's what hurt me so much. And all that I could answer back was, "But Jesus came to set the captives free, to release the prisoners from their darkness" (Is 61:1).

Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick..." Mark 2:17.

Seriously, are our hearts so blind and hardened that we miss that? I can't tell you how many times I have been discouraged from going. I can't tell you how many times people, in essence, have told me they're hopeless. I can't tell you how many times that I've been told that they're "cons" and they will never be anything different. I can't tell you how many times that I've been told that they are "the scum of the earth" and aren't worth the trouble. I can't tell you how many times I've been told that there is "no rehabilitating"....

And sadly, it's "Christians" that are the ones telling me.

Father, forgive them. They know not what they say. Change our hearts. Change our attitudes. Heal our blind eyes from their darkness. Transform our minds and our thinking. And fill our hating hearts with Your love.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

She was different today


She was different today. And I'm angry. And aggravated. And frustrated. And tired.

But I'm proud too.

She sported a different look than normal when she walked in. You could spot it immediately. She said that she needed to talk. She needed to say something that was hard for her to say.

She proceeded to tell us that she's been incarcerated already for more than 10 years. She comes up for parole in March. March the 25th will be her 11th anniversary inside. "But," she said, "I want to see if I can get them to postpone my parole hearing for a year. I'm not ready to get out and go home."

Wow. That's a new one. That's different. That was a surprise. That wasn't expected. That's one that I hadn't heard before. And, of course, I couldn't imagine it, and wondered why?

Here's what she told us:

She told me that the use of drugs contributed to her crime and is the reason that she's here. And yet, she's still been doing drugs the whole time of her incarceration. She's still using. "And," she said, "I need to get myself well. I don't need to go home still having this problem. I'm afraid of what will happen if I do. I mean, I want to go home. I know my family, my daughter(!), wants me to. But they don't need me like this. I'll only make things worse if I go home still sick."

She's signed up for all of the drug rehab programs. She's got a determined mind. She wants to be different. She wants to beat this thing.

She cried the whole time she talked. Her tears literally dripped from her cheeks. I don't think she could believe that she was saying it. She said that the people will think I'm crazy in here. Who does this sort of thing?

I've never been so proud of her. I guess I'm totally clueless. Though I knew something... this, I never would have known. But, like I said, her face already looked different. More relieved. Tired. But more open. Beaten. And shamed. But looking up because she'd hit rock bottom. Hopeful. Relieved. Ready. :)

I don't know if the extended stay is her answer. We're working toward figuring that out. I think that perhaps if we could get her paroled that we could get her in a transitional home with programs to help and perhaps that would be better than the place that she's in. I'm searching for answers, asking people who know more than I do, and praying a lot. God will give us the wisdom. I trust Him to lead us in the right direction.

Meanwhile...

and this is what gets me.

Though I guess I've known about it, I've been infuriated ever since! It's not new news. I've heard the tales. I've been told the stories. It seems to run rampant in most (if not all) prisons. But why can't we do something about it? Why can't we stop it? Why are drugs so prevalent in our prisons? If drugs are so often the enemy behind why the person was imprisoned in the first place... then why can't we get it out of the prisons while they're incarcerated in order to help them detox??? How are they doing this? But more, what can we do about it? Ugh... tonight it makes me saddened and sick that our system so very much fails us.

Tempted... to tuck tail and run


I need to get over myself. And I will. But....

I get scared. Overwhelmed. Find myself wondering, "Oh my goodness, what in the world am I doing?" And fear wants to take hold of me, grip me, ensnare me, trap me, and turn me around.

I found myself there today. Several times.

I was on the way to the Criminal Justice Building for a meeting. The same building that I am soon to have an office in, with a swipe card for the locked-security's entrances, and a computer that supposeably already now sits on 'my' desk. What am I doing with an office there? How in the world did they let me in? Accept me? Welcome me? Invite me? Allow me?? Having nothing to offer them in way of knowledge, or training, or credentials? Without asking? Without planning it? Without getting paid. Without thinking it? Without even imagining it? 

This is pure proof that God confounds the wise and uses the foolish things of this world. Me, being the foolish thing in this particular scene! It doesn't make sense for Him to use someone like me... yet, it looks as if He's decided and chosen to do so in the most unexpected and strategic of places.

I rode to Birmingham today with one of the assistant commissioners and the re-entry coordinator for the state Dept of Corrections for a Critical Incident Debriefing of a suicide incident that happened to an officer in one of the prisons. How I managed to find myself on the Critical Incident Team is another wonder of mine??? But I am. And I did. And oddly, here we go.

Too, Dr. L told me yesterday that as soon as the recently purchased building for our inmates gets renovated that he hopes to set up an office in the prison there for me, as well, so that I can at least go in once a week to do I have no idea what at this moment, but I guess something he knows.

Plus, I got another email yesterday that I have yet to respond to asking me to speak again at another men's prison. And honestly, I'm scared! I look around and none of it makes any rhyme or reason without God. None of it makes sense. And though I have no doubt it's Him, I am so unsure of  myself! My mind goes through things like: Who am I? What do I have to offer? Why would they want to listen to me? What good will one visit do? What lasting effect or impression can happen in one hour?......?..........?.......................? The questions stalk. The questions bombard. The questions continue. 

Fear is knocking! It's trying its best to stay me.

While riding in my car lately I find myself riding in silence. When praying I shake my head telling God that I don't know what to say. I ask for His wisdom and His will and His empowerment. Yet lately, I am so blown away that I haven't a clue how to verbalize it. I think it's awe-struck-ness. Woe-ness! Whoa-ness! Uh, what? And wildly, wow! Who knows really, other than the fact that I'm stunned into silence.

I'm embarrassed now for even saying all this. I don't exactly know why I did, other than perhaps it's somehow therapeutic in the saying?? 

Forgive me. Ignore me. Pretend I didn't write. I know that God hasn't given me a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Tim 1:7). Yet honestly, sometimes we're simply really scared.... but we have to refuse to bow to the feeling and get up and go anyway... not because of our trust in ourselves, but because of our total trust in our God and our Savior.

I suppose I'll get up and email the prison's director in the morning to let them know that I'm coming. God has given me a huge opportunity. One like I said that totally doesn't make sense and isn't given to everybody. How right would it be for me to refuse it and turn my back on what "I could do" for fear that it's too little really to be enough?

I don't think it's ironic that God has reminded me of all of the "fear not"s in His Book. I don't think it ironic that tonight's studying took me to Jesus feeding the 5,000 with five small loaves and two little fish. Nor do I think it ironic that it also took me to the pages of Jonah when God told Jonah to go, but he turned instead and went the other way. And mostly, I don't think it ironic that God reminded me of the scripture that tells of the woman who "did what she could." God didn't expect her to do what she couldn't. As I once wrote earlier in another post, "every could that does counts."

Nope. I don't think it ironic. I think it's my Father trying to encourage me. The Holy Spirit trying to comfort me. Jesus wanting me to follow Him. He came to set the captives free... and sometimes He uses the skins and feet and mouths of people to help Him do just that. It's not what we can do... it's what He can and plans and purposes and wills and wants to do through us! It's not just about us, it's about the people He still wants to reach.

Oh, Jesus, do only what You can do and let this skin of mine be a "Jesus with skin on" to those looking and longing to see Him.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

She's hungry!!! (And I am too!)

A friend of mine was talking to me. In the present, she's about as down as they come. Depressed. Unsettled. Unfulfilled. Unsatisfied. Not happy. She's got nothing really to complain about, yet everything. Not really. But depression produces reason to complain... it's got to look for some place to lay blame. So, it seeks something somewhere and decides surely that's why, surely that's it, surely it's this reason or that one,... or if this particular thing happened, I'd instantly be happy again.

Yeah.

Right?

No.

I doubt it.

That rarely happens.

She told me, "Seriously though," she cried when she said it, "I don't really know why."

I know. I could relate. I understood. I've been there. I could often find myself there still if I didn't refuse the offer to join when my own pity party invited. Sadly, the invitation tries to come often. It comes in all forms. I'd say "no two are alike," but that's not true. The party that you've pitied in before very much remembers. It keeps your name on the list and invites often as if hoping you'll come back again to join it. And yet, new invitations in all sorts of disguises come too. Satan came to steal, kill, and destroy.... he's creative in the ways he tries to take and butcher and devastate you. It doesn't have to necessarily even be sin. It's so crazy that sometimes it really doesn't have to have a reason. We can fall in despair over an "I don't know." We can sulk in a stew of depression with no real why of doing so. What crazy creatures we are! How easy it is to have an unfulfilled feeling.

Personally, I think she's hungry.

Matter of fact, I know she is.

How do I know?

Because I've been her. And sometimes I am her still.

She lost her job a couple of months ago, so she's antsy. A bit anxious. But, it's more than that. Like I said, I think she's hungry for real. Just because we don't live in poverty in another country and our bellies aren't caved in or protruding from starvation doesn't mean that we're not starving on the inside and in desperate need of feeding!

In John 4 we find that Jesus talked with the Samaritan woman... the woman at the well... the woman that had been married five times and was now living with a sixth man. Jesus, no doubt, knew she was coming and had made it His purpose to 'happen' to meet alone with her there. The sixth verse tells us that He was tired from His journey..... (again) no doubt, He knew that this woman was tired from her 'journey', as well. (How I love that about Him!)

The third and fourth verses say (KJV), "He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And He must needs go through Samaria" (emphasis mine). That "must needs" is the Greek word dei. That particular word is often used in scripture when talking about the plan or the will of God.

Examples, dei is used in:

·    Luke 2:49 when Jesus asks His parents, “Did you know not that “I must be about My Father’s business?”

·    Matthew 16:21, “"From that time forth began Jesus to show unto His disciples, how that He must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things..."

·    Matt 24:6, "And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet."

·    Mark 13:10, "And the gospel must first be published among all nations.”

·    Luke 4:43, "And He said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent."

·    Luke 24:7, "The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified..."

·    Luke 24:26, "Ought not Christ to  have suffered these things, and to enter unto His glory?"

·    John 9:3b-4, Jesus is talking, "... "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in His life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him Who sent Me..."" (NIV)

·    John 20:9, "For as yet they knew not the scripture, that He must rise again from the dead."

The definition insinuates that it was necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria, it was needed, it was a "necessity in reference to what is required to attain some end." Jesus didn't say or act anything or in anyway except what His Father told Him to do or to say. In other words, it was necessary for Jesus to go there in order to establish the purpose meant by His Father to do and to say what God had willed to be done and so told Him.

Jesus' disciples had left Him earlier to go in search for food. Upon their return and at their urges for Jesus to eat ("Rabbi, eat something") Jesus said, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."

Confusion set in among them. They wondered with each other over who could have brought Him some food?

That's when He answered. "My food," Jesus said (listen to this!), "My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me and to finish His work." To which then He continues, Open your eyes and look at the fields, they're ripe for harvest!

In other words, He's about His Father's business. Even this was the will of why God sent Him. Jesus considered it His "food" to do what His Father willed for Him. It filled Him! It made Him NOT hungry! No food is like our Father's food! And not only that, there's so much more work to be done.

There is a satiating filling in accomplishing the work that God's prepared for you to do. There's a hunger inside us to do! If we're not fulfilling our purpose, accomplishing our work, doing what God has created and willed for us, going about our Father's business...then, we're left lacking. We're empty. We're anxious. We're depressed. Unsettled. Unfulfilled. Unsatisfied. Not happy. We've not really got anything to complain about, we don't even really know why but.......

We're frazzled, not 'right', not filled in our feeling!

You know?

We're not only hungry for the manna of God's Word! But we're hungry to do His work! What's He's willed for us, what He's made and created us for, what He's purposed and planned... the work that God prepared in advance for us to do before we were knit inside our mother's womb (Ephesians 2:10, Psalm 139)!

It's back to the verse we talked about in my last post, "Turn from evil and DO GOOD." We're to turn from.... but then, we're to turn to and in turn do... something good, something useful, something to benefit.

Jesus told Peter, "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat, but when you come back, strengthen your brothers." He gave Simon a purpose, a job, a will for His life, a something that God wants done and wants him to do, after he'd returned from his sifting.

Whether we like to think so or not, we're made to labor, we're made to serve, there's fulfillment in the work that God's given and left for us. The harvest is plentiful! We're called to be a worker! We're called to labor the fields! And we'll be hungry, lacking, unsettled, unfulfilled if we don't.

I understand such hunger! Being hungry is good! We need the stirring, the anxiousness, the growling. It points us in the right direction. We need to feel empty, we need to feel lacking, we need to feel some dissatisfaction... so... that we'll feast on the "food" of our Father! First His manna... and then, on the work that He's planned and given us! Not the work that He's given to somebody else. Only our food will satiate, sustain and satisfy. Only what He's purposeably made for us each individually to do.

I like the hunger. It's an invitation. The growling is purposed. Perhaps it's one of the greatest blessings ever for it causes us to be uncomfortable and gets us to search for our 'food'... the feast that awaits us that our Father wants to put on our plates. May I never feel so filled that I miss the ultimate filling!

She's hungry. I am too. We all are. We have need because we're made for something to do....

I'm hungry, Lord! Show me, Father, what You want done!

Friday, July 23, 2010

We're Do-ers! We're gonna Do!

Sin is a tempting thing! It's often hard to resist. Its lure is deceiving. It looks good! It appears promising! The wrapping it comes in hides the snare inside it. And once you fall for it and it's caught you, the trap is often one of the hardest things in the world to get out of. Even with the want-to behind it, it's that imprisoning. It's that deep of a pit.

But then....

Once you've finally worked your way out with the power of God and all the determination it took... what then?

Not too long ago my daughter was talking to me about it. After days of being determined to "not go there again," she told me, "Mom, I can't keep focusing on what I can't do. I'll never make it if I keep focusing on my can't. I've finally figured it out. Instead of focusing on what I can't, I've got to instead focus on what I can."

Amen! She's right! Focusing on what we can't do only makes us miserable and keeps us on the verge of falling again. We're Do-ers! We're made to do! Regardless of where we're focusing we're always going to be do-ing something!

I've got the verse for that. It's found in Psalm 34:14. It's simply put, but profoundly said. It's wise in its wisdom. It says, "Turn from evil and DO good..."


Turn...
  • Depart from
  • Turn aside from
  • Avoid
  • Remove yourself from
  • Go away from
from evil...
  • from bad
  • from evil (pain, unhappiness, misery)
  • from disagreement
  • from malignant things
  • from unpleasantness
  • from sad
  • from unhappy
  • from distress
  • from misery
  • from injury
  • from calamity
  • from adversity
  • from wrong

and do...
  • accomplish
  • make
  • produce
  • work
  • act, act with effect, effect
  • prepare
  • bring about
  • execute
good...
  • good
  • pleasant
  • agreeable
  • excellent
  • rich
  • valuable in estimation
  • benefit
  • happiness

Instead of doing what brings havoc and makes miserable... Turn from that! And... DO GOOD! Things that are beneficial, things that are if value, that are rich and excellent, that are pleasant, that brings happiness.

I like that. We're made to do. We're gonna do. We're Do-ers. That's what we were created for. It's not To-Do or NOT-To-Do! It's what you're do-ing that counts. It matters at the end of the day what you've done.  It just depends on what you're do-ing that either makes sad or produces happiness.

If it's not a good thing...TURN FROM IT... and do a worth-while thing!
\

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

We couldn't... so they did!

We totally had one of the very best nights E~V~E~R!

Our inmate girls just finished a two year program. Tonight we had their graduation. Diplomas and all. It was such fun! I was so proud of them. It's hard work to last that long, to give that much time, to be that committed, to refuse to quit when the want-to hit and persevere after it. 

We wanted to throw them a party. We did for our Work Release girls. But the warden in this particular prison refused our request. And... being that we couldn't throw them one... they simply threw one for us instead!

Wow!

How sweet! I wanted to cry all the way home. It's been a sappy day, why not add to that and cry more? I kept thinking that though they don't have much everyone pooled together and gave what they did! We had popcorn, and cookies, and "prison smores," and small sandwiches, and canned cokes. When asked how they got the sandwiches, we were told that they got them in the sandwich line. They bought several and cut them up to make them multiply into enough. They were good. Perfect. But the thought and the price even more!

Precious!

Priceless!

How can you thank such hearts as theirs? We went into the prison to bless and we're the ones that are daily reaping the blessing.

We weren't only proud of them, they were proud of themselves. It showed. They grinned. As my husband would have put it, they glowed! We all laughed and cried and shared stories and jokes with each other. There's a sisterhood among them, and we are included as one of their sisters! I loved every minute of it! There is grace, and love, and sacrificial lives living their sentences out in the prisons! I know. I've met them. And I feel God's favor for giving me an opportunity to serve and be served by those ladies in their uniform whites with robes of white awaiting them in Heaven.

PWHD, indeed! Princess Warriors in Human Disguise!... I know Jesus is loving living out the Display of His Splendor in their skins!

Here are pics... not of tonight's group, but of some of the girls in the other prison

Monday, July 19, 2010

I looked a mess!

I didn't sleep a wink last night, so my eyes were already red. I did the best I could with make-up, but still my eyes burned with fury from my night's abuse. It wasn't that I hadn't planned on sleeping. I did. I went to bed earlier than usual, about 11 o'clock. Early for me, because I knew my morning would start especially early. I needed to be up by five, definitely not a minute past 5:30.

I turned the light out. Turned over. Pulled the cover up just right. And snuggled in. And then...

My oldest daughter walked into my room. She peeked at me, then turned to tiptoe back out. I rose up to tell her "Hi."

She answered, "I thought you were asleep."

"No," I said. "I just laid down."

So....

She crawled up in the bed with me and her talking began. She'd been out-of-town. She was asleep herself when I got home. But now she was awake. And she wanted to share. So share she did. And we had the best time. She didn't leave my room until two o'clock this morning.

Woe. By that hour I knew I didn't have long. But I was wired. No sleepy at all anywhere in my body. I got Online to do a few things, hoping the screen's reading would make me sleepy. It didn't. By the time I probably could have gone to sleep, it was too close to time to get up. I vetoed the whole idea and just got on up anyway.

That was part of it, but that isn't the total reason I looked so bad.

Today was one of our oldest girl's parole hearing. I couldn't wait. I was excited. Giddy. Wanting release for her so badly, but scared for what might happen. It's my first parole hearing to attend, I'd never been to one before. I was so proud of her family and friends. She obviously has lots of support from those that love her. I met her sister, and her aunt, and her daughter. Their similarities were striking. I imagine with a bit of make-up (and a wig like theirs **smile**), they would even be more so. Ah, I could picture it already... our girl all fixed up on the outside of the fence and smiling her million dollar smile of thanksgiving!

We sat there for 2 1/2 hours before her name was called. We lined up and marched in. Quiet. Hopeful. Full of wonder and silent prayers. We packed the house on our side of the room. The lone woman on the other side was an assistant to the District Attorney General.

Three of us from our side were given the floor to speak of the reasons we deemed her worthy of being released from her sentence early. The other lady spoke of the reasons why she shouldn't. Her mercy (or lack thereof) now sat in the hands of the parole board that we sat before. They told us that they had heard both arguments and now they would deliberate and give us their answer. Surprisingly to me, they stayed sitting right there while they discussed. Everyone's eyes in the room were riveted toward theirs. No one said a word. No one moved. Everyone speaking with silent prayers.

The verdict was in. The decision had been made. And we were told that her parole would be granted!

I could hold back my tears no longer. My mascara was making a mess of my face! After hugs with the girl that I teach with and her family members, I was too full, I had to spill out. I cried myself all the way home. If that was me, just imagine what the news will do for our girl once she hears it! We'll get to see her tonight. She should already have been told by then. I can only imagine that I'll be a mess herself when I see her! Today, I'm fine with looking a mess! Today's "mess" was totally worth it!

Tears always talk. Tears always have a message to tell. God doesn't just keep our tears in bottle, but those tears have something to say to Him. Indeed, today's tears were no exception. Today our tears thanked our Savior! He came to release the captives. He came to open the doors of the prisons. He came to lose the bonds and break the chains that bind. Today He opened the door and gave flight to a girl who once sinned, who's sorry, who hates what she did, but now is grateful way past saying to a God that forgives, heals, and redeems!... so, her tears and ours talk to our Jesus to say what verbalized words will never have power enough on their own to say! Some things aren't said with voice. Some things are said through a liquidized dripping!

Thank You, God, for setting this captive free!


For another post that talks of our tears click here: He Keeps Our Tears In His Bottle?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Chasing Salt Water Substitutes

The question was: "Tim, the guy on this video says that "We chase after 'salt water substitutes,' things we think will satisfy us but leave us more thirsty than we were before. Why do you think people, even people who believe in Jesus, who read their Bibles and go to church, do this?"

A guy at church had asked my husband if he would be interviewed to answer some questions in class on a Wednesday night? Tim emailed the questions to me and asked me how I'd answer? He called to tell me he'd sent them, to which I replied that they were his questions, not mine. BUT then.... I did have much to say in answers to the questions he sent. :) He knew I would. I'm a "sayer"... I couldn't help but "say"... so here's what I "said" in response to him:

Why do people, even people who believe in Jesus, who read their Bibles and go to church still so often chase after salt water substitutes instead of feeling filled by the Living Water?

Because, I said, rarely are people (Christians) actually FILLING UP on the Word! As a whole most might read it a little bit. Read it enough to say that they did. Or read it because they know that they're supposed to. But most of us are not spending enough time, reading enough, eating enough, filling up enough! And we, as people, like to be FULL! We're vessels, jars of clay, containers... we're made to contain. We're made to fill up! We're made to hold lots of something. And the emptiness inside seeks to be filled to the top. If we're not FULL of Jesus and what He's said (the Living Water, the Manna of His Word), then we're looking for something else to fill us until we're full. A little is never enough! We're seeking a fullness, a satiation, always! If you don't know what you're filled with... watch your spill! (i.e. If you're filled with anger, you'll spill mean. If you're filled with discontentment, you'll whine and complain. If you're filled with lust, you'll talk of your desires. If you're filled with bitterness, you'll be negative about everything.... etc.)

Jesus told us to "abide" in Him and He'll "abide" in us. But instead, we're abiding in television, or abiding in sports, or at the mall, or in gossip, or in jealousy, or in wants, or in an old hurt, or some sort of misery... you name it. We're all abiding somewhere... and what we talk about shows what we're filled with and where we've been abiding.

What are we feeding on? From out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. It's like a spiritual burp. People can smell from our words what we've been eating. It's simply so, whether we want it to be or not, whatever we've filled ourselves with eventually burps out.

I noticed this several years ago. I saw it first in other people and was so astounded by it that I took a closer look and noticed it also in me. There were certain people that I every time I got around them I knew exactly what they were going to say. I knew what their conversations would consist of, because it'd been the same conversation that they'd been having for years. It's then that I so very much noticed their filling, what they'd been feeding on, what they'd been eating. Try as we might to try to hide it, we can't help it, it shows in our talk.

Back to our lack of feeding on the manna of God's Word. I told Tim that sadly "Christians" (not all of them, but way too many) will maybe spend a few minutes, maybe 10? maybe 15? maybe 30 (on a good day) reading the Bible. I told him to try watching a good movie or reading a good book that way, just 10 or 15 minutes a day.. .and now and then skip a few days completely..., read or watch it like that and before too long, before you've watched very much of it at all, you'll soon be disinterested and won't finish the movie, you'll never finish the book. We lose interest, because it took too long. So knowing that, why do we think 10 minutes a day can suffice for our need and fill us up and equip us for the endurance we'll need for our day? Why do we think little bites, just nibbles, will fill us to full and thus, fill the feeling we need filled? Honestly, a bite only makes you hungry for more! A nibble will never be enough, it'll only have you searching more for something!

Here is another thing that I had never really noticed before and put together with "filling" us, or satiating our hunger, our "food" for the soul. In John 4 where it talks about Jesus stopping at the well in Samaria. He sits down there "tired" from His journey while His disciples go into the town to get some food. They come back after He has talked with the Samaritan woman about Living Water and when they try to urge Him to eat He tells them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." The disciples are wondering who could have brought Him some food when He says, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work."

Wow! "My food is to do the will of Him Who sent Me." His food was to do His Father's work. We're made to DO! We're made to serve! We're made to fill and then pour out and spend our lives for another. Kind of like what Jesus told Peter to do after he'd been sifted as wheat. He told him that when he comes back "to strengthen his brothers." Until we pour out into another one's life, we'll never be filled.... it's simply part of our "food"! Our problem is that we are too self-absorbed... and we're miserable! It's killing us! We're not turning around and spending our lives for somebody and something else living for the Savior and serving our Lord by ministering in all sorts and kinds of ways to His people and those that don't know Him!

To emphasis my above's point, one more thought before I'm done:

Sometimes it takes a fasting to have a filling. Isaiah 58 coins this perfectly! (Of course it does, it's God's Word!) Starting in verse 6, He says, "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the cains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - when you see the naked to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say 'Here I am.' If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The LORD will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail..... If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on My holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the LORD's holy day honorable and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob." The mouth of the LORD has spoken."

We need to let some things go, let some people off the hook, stop pointing the finger (no one has right to cast the first stone), and start helping someone else. Feast on the Word and then start sharing what we've learned. Fill up.. til FULL.. then spill out His goodness on others!

So... how much are you eating (reading, doing)? And how "full" are you?

Let's go get full... I'll meet you at the Fountain! And then, let's go and take some Water to someone else that's thirsty! It's a good filling.... and the only kind that can satisfy and fill us up to fullness! I want to be filled with the Spirit and full of my Savior!


P.S. Here's a similar post that talks about our fillings (Evidence proves that I've been on this spill for a very long time **smile**): How are your fillings?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A bad mood in the forecast!

Beep! Beep! Beep! The National Weather Service has issued a warning. There is a severe thunderstorm moving into the immediate area. An advisory is also for the surrounding areas. There have been numerous trees that have been blown over and powerlines down. Take cover! Use extreme caution. Stay inside. Get to an innermost room or under a sturdy surface or staircase. Forecasters say that the storm is capable of producing multiple tornados. Radar shows damaging hail and wind gusts of up to 72 miles per hour and possibly on the increase. 



Not that I wanted to. But all day I could see a bad mood in the forecast! I felt that I needed to send out an alert! And with my thinking, it made me think of how much damage a thunderstorm can do! Especially with the strong winds (the angered breath of one's words) and tornados (targeted fury) that it produces knocking down buildings and powerlines and wreaking disaster and leaving havoc in its wake. It's mean and ferocious! It doesn't care whose in its path or whose house it takes out. Not only that, one thunderstorm often has other storms break off from it causing more destruction in other areas too. Woe, at how contagious it is! Its power is destructive and mighty!


A storm isn't scheduled and doesn't ask if this is a good time. It doesn't require a good reason for coming. It comes uninvited and whether we want it to or not. It does what it wants to, there's no controlling it. Only God can turn it or Jesus peace and still it. But yes, just like then, Jesus can still speak to our storms and stop it completely in its tracks.

I felt like I was on the verge of becoming "a roaring lion seeking who I could devour." Horrors! For that is the description of the enemy, and I didn't want to adopt his trait and his spirit. I wanted, instead, to have the Spirit of my Father and show me as a child of His.

I kept telling God, "the joy of the Lord is my strength" in hopes that He'd send me some. The answer I felt from Him that kept resonating in my bones was that this time your strength will be found in some sleep.. for I have been extremely overloaded and sleep deprived!

A bad mood doesn't look good on anybody. It isn't pretty, doesn't act pretty, doesn't produce pretty, doesn't leave anyone else around it feeling pretty either. Shooo.... I felt the forecast, heard the warnings, and cried out to my Savior that once walked on water. What I can say is this... That when we cry out to Him, He's always faithful and always able. He's spoke to my storm, stilled the winds, and peaced my world! Oh, what a Savior we serve!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Dumb as dirt. Maybe Dumber!

Okay. This has come up so many times in my mind lately (today again too!) that I can no longer refrain myself. It seems I don't have a choice! I've got to stop and blog about it!

On the LPM blog Melissa had posted pictures from her mom's garden. She was asking us if any of us had one and the green thumb that comes with it? Goodness knows, I sure wish I did. Sadly, my thumb's black! Both of 'em! Every plant that's encased in my care soon withers to its death. It's equally as hard for me to care for the artificial kind! I wrote to her in reply to what she asked saying,

Well, to be quite honest, the only seed that I’ve been successful with sowing and God growing is the Seed of God’s Word! I’m like you, Melissa, I’m gifted in killing any plant that is purposed to grow! I hate that about me. But plants don’t want to come to my house! They won't live long. They'll soon have to be cast out!

BUT!

Let me share an example of God's miracle growth with His Seed in my soil! He's faithful to grow what every man can't! I'm living proof of the wonder of His!

On the day before my 40th birthday my husband came in our room to get into bed. I had every version of Bible and every kind of dictionary or lexicon or commentary you could find on it. I had to bring the bulldozer in to scoop it all off. As I was scooping I told him, “I wish I wasn’t so dumb. I wish that I was smarter than I am.”

His sweet response was, “You are smart.”

“No,” I said, “I’m not."

"You are smart."

"No," I said, "I'm definitely not. I should be smarter.”

"You are too smart," he said again.

"No," I responded once more, “I'm not. But that's okay, I'm okay with it. Right now I feel like if you looked at me all that you would see would be just a dirt field. Dirt. Dirt. Dirt. Everywhere you looked... Dirt. Nothing but dirt. Yet I am ferociously planting the Seed daily, and others are watering… and then, in His timing it’ll be the Spirit alone that will bring the increase!”

I not only told him, but I had it written for weeks all over my journal.

Next morning….. (birthday morning) was a Sunday morning. I checked my mail before church. I got a card from some random card company (mind you, no personal friend!, no one who knew me)…. after seeing it I was floored! Eyes widened huge as I turned to my husband and said, “Oh my goodness, I just got a birthday card from God!!!” After looking at it himself he was just as floored as I was and then said the same thing that I did, “Oh my goodness, you did! You just got a birthday card from God!"

It was an animated card and started with a picture of a plain field…. A farmer walked across the screen digging, digging, digging…. then walked back across the screen the other way digging some more. Then, he came back throwing the seed, throwing the seed, throwing the seed…….. both back and forth. Next time, he came with his water, watering the seed that he’d sown, watering, watering, watering, walking across one side of the screen, then back to the other…………. And then, it sprouted growth, a garden grew and then words popped up to tell me: Happy Birthday.

Woe! HUGE! It blew my mind! I’ll never forget it! And the thing of it is, God’s been so faithful! I still have so much to learn, but I’m smarter now in Him than just the dirt field that I used to be!

If you'll click this link you’ll see the card that this card company ‘just happened’ to send that I totally know-that-I-know-that-I-know actually came from God: Blooming Birthday.

I'll never be able to fathom His greatness or thank my Savior enough!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I used to talk to your picture

One of the girls was crying last night at the prison. I wondered what happened? I wondered if I should ask? I was told that she had been talking on the phone and was really upset. Her eyes were red and very swollen when she walked in.

I didn't get to talk to her until afterward. I hugged her big. And told her I was praying for her. She told me that she got a letter from her daughter for the very first time. Then, as she was pulling it out from her pocket she told me that she wanted to read me something.

Her daughter turned 16 in May. She hasn't seen her since she was a baby. She's been incarcerated for a very long time.

She had a three page letter filled on both the front and back in precise teenage print. Flipping back and forth from her excitement, she finally found the sentences she'd been looking for. It read, "I used to carry a picture of you everywhere I went when I was little. I always wanted to talk to you, but since you weren't there, I used to talk to your picture. I didn't know where you were. No one would tell me. But I used to tell your picture that when I turned sixteen I was going to go and find you and that no matter where you were, I'd bring you back home again."

She cried as she read it. I did too. And then she said with tears streaming from her eyes, "I've been a horrible mom!" I said, "Haven't we all in some way or another? That's why we have redemption!"

I'm so happy for her! Happy that after all these years she's finally heard from her girl. Happy for the excitement it brings. Happy... but sad too. Sad for the guilt she feels, because she has it. Sad that she wants to do something to make up for all that's happened, but she's stuck behind bars and can't get out to do it. God can still restore what's been broken, even while behind bars. But I know she wants to get her hands on her... and to have a daily relationship and encounter with her baby girl.... who, I'm sure, greatly needs her mother!

Wow, sin costs a lot... for a long time... for everybody! I hate it's deception and it's trap once you fall for it. Thank God for a Savior that's able to ransom, redeem, and restore it. Tonight, I'm praying for both this mom and her daughter... for God to do a mighty tapesty work of mending, and weaving a display of His Splendor on both of their canvases when done. And I'll thank Him too... for giving a renewed hope for two broken-hearted girls... and for a Savior that came to bind up those hearts that have been broken and to set free the captives.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dear Tabor ~ A letter to that man-child of mine.


Dear Tabor,

Hey you cute thang!

What do I write to the only man-child of my life? Do you have any idea how special you are? How much you mean to me? How proud I am of you? How much I believe in you in all that God surely plans for you to do?

I prayed for a man-child… and God gave me you. And I’ve been smitten by that smile and charm of yours since the minute you entered this earth!

You’re such a sweet heart, Tabor Lee. You have such a tender heart toward people. Such a caring heart. A forgiving heart. A believing heart. An encouraging one. A pleasing one. One that wants and is willing to serve. So many people look up to you. You are such a leader. And that’s not just because of that charm you’ve got, that’s because it’s a gift that you’ve been given by our Creator.

Remember that picture of you walking with fishing pole in hand, tennis-shoed, shirtless, with jeans? As you know I cried the first time I saw it, because I saw your future in its symbolism. I KNOW that God (in however He wants and plans to do it) will make you into a fisherman of men. For Him, for His name sake, for His Kingdom, for His Glory. You can decide whether to follow Him or not…. but it’s already obvious that He has given you a heart that wants to. You may do things sometimes that you know you ought not do, but He always tells on you and turns you around from the wrong path that you started making steps toward. How good God of to do that! How blessed we are when He corrects us. He tells us He disciplines those He loves… and boy, I don’t know that God lets you get away with anything ((*smile*)). That, my dear child, is a compliment!!! May He never let you get away with anything… so that He can keep you close in the palm of His hand and in righteousness.

Life is hard. It’s so serious. There are so many decisions to make. A zillion daily. Each daring you to make the right one. Satan does his best to lure us with some many very tempting bait. You’re bigger than that, stronger than that, more courageous than that, better than that, and have a greater end planned than that. Don’t let the enemy snag you and trap you into a place that is almost impossible to get out of once gotten into. If not for God, then we’d all stay imprisoned to all the crazy things we fell for. God knows we’ll fall, that’s why He sent a Savior. But don’t ever stay there. Living in a pit is no kind of life to be living! Remember the verse that Buddy just spoke on not so many Sundays ago, “The prudent (the wise men) see danger and seek refuge, the simple (the foolish) keep on going and suffer for it.” Sin has its price… as well, as right does! Everything costs! But sins price is a whole lot harder in the end than the right is.

I love you! I’m proud of you! I have such hopes for you! And I cannot wait to see what God has planned for you! Indeed, He does have a purpose and plan and will for us. May you walk in His plan… and you will live the abundant supernatural Life that Jesus offers. Be a mighty warrior!!! And remember whose side of the war you’re on. Remember who and what you’re fighting for. Don’t forget that this life is a fight! Overcome evil with good. And always turn and help the wounded (or lost) warriors around you! This life’s a fight together. Be a hero in the eyes of the Lord. A man like David with a heart after God’s Own! Read God’s word like it was written to you personally… because it was! It is encouraging, inspiring, equipping, healing, and empowering. There’s no other thing like it in this world. And too, surround yourself by other Christians on fire for their God… so that your fire can burn hotter while you walk this earth.

I love you more than my life itself! May God blow your mind in the wonders of Him!

I love you, Tabor Lee!
Mom

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My backdoor is locked... I miss my son!

Awww... I always leave the backdoor unlocked, for its the door of choice that my son choses to strut himself in through. He's a 17 year old heart-throb! A sweet heart! Dashing! And charming! A Mr Flattery King (he has me wrapped around his finger!)! Beautiful from the inside out! He left for California today for camp for two weeks along with his sweet baby sister, Sabrina. She's excited. Ecstatic! Besides herself. She's been on a countdown for weeks! He's less so. Unsure. Not necessarily unhappy, but not superbly super thrilled. As we left he told me, "I'm already missing my truck!" I knew he would be! He loves it!

We left home at 3 o'clock this morning to drive them two hours away to the airport. We didn't go to bed at all last night. It's 9:19 p.m. here right now... and bless their hearts, my babes are still traveling! I just texted them, they haven't gotten there yet. Two planes ride later and a car trip once landing on ground... makes for two very tired children.

I went to let the dogs out a few minutes ago. I came in... locking the door behind me... the door I don't usually lock until he walks in behind it! I couldn't help but think of him when I did. Like I said, I miss my son! And I'm already, too, missing girl! Who will both be fine and having fun without me. Thank You, Lord, for all of those blessings of mine!

Sixteen already???!!

My little girl turned 16 today...... how did this little thing grow up to be so big so fast? She makes me laugh so hard! And love more than I ever knew that I could! Happy Birthday, Sabrina, you're one of the dearest girls I know! Dear Lord, thank You for the wonders You've given me in the three babes You've let me borrow through birth! Each one's a treasure that I could not fathom, so precious, so darling, so stupendous, and so unique.








Dear Sabrina,

Now where do I start with the wonder of you? Wow, you were a SURPRISE!!!.. and a joy from the very beginning. My goodness, you were (and still ARE!) the cutest thing! With your dark hair and blue eyes and sweet chubby cheeks! At church, it didn't take long, you quickly became everybody's favorite! You not only made everybody that was around you laugh, but you had a gift for making them feel special. They all felt that they were the favored! Everyone told me how you liked them the most. The competition to was hilarious! And wildly, you had a super-special gift for making those without children (that desperately wanted children) feel special the most. It was the wildest thing! Remember Halo and Sandy… and then, Donna and George? They loved you for how much attention you gave them. They felt you were theirs! I loved how you loved them! Even Mark felt you felt him special. I so loved how you did that! I still do!  remember them talking to me, they would tell me that it’s like somehow you knew. And wildly (like I said), it seemed like you did!

I loved that even as a little-bitty girl you were content to play with others or content, too, to be all by yourself. You could entertain yourself perfectly for hours, when most children want to be entertained by somebody else or they’re miserable. No. Not you. Your creative little self would find something creative to do. It still does! You can get lost in your room with your thoughts and your stuff all day if you’ve got the time to…. working on something secretly. Simply happy in what you’re doing where you are.

Oh my goodness, remember bitiing that little girl's face at Mother's Day Out? Woe, she wore those teethmarks and that bruise for days! I was so hugely embarrassed! I've forgotten what she did that warranted the penalty, but horrors, her mom was none too thrilled about it! And I hated its constant reminder!

You used to always tell me you were going to have 10 babies and 10 swimming pools when you grew up. And every single new baby-doll we bought you, you named them all the same. Remember that? Every next doll you got, I'd asked you, "Sabrina, what are you going to name her?" And every single time you'd look around and think real hard and say (like you've never said before, yet everytime did), "I'm going to name her Sabby." I'd laugh and act all surprised! We had a gazillion Sabbys! And everyone preciously loved!

I love your creativeness... especially with make-up. WHO does that, but you??? Or your creativeness with any other thing that you put your mind to. Man, you've come up with some wild things! It makes me so wonder what you’ll be when you grow up? I admire you for never giving up when you struggled so hard with learning. I am amazed at how you did what you did when you couldn’t (for a long time) make the words make sense to you. My conclusion was how smart you are! Tremendously smart to have managed how you did for as long as you did! Wow! You just learned a different way of doing it, which proved a whole lot smarter in the long run. I admired your persistence in your struggle and not giving up, not letting it get you down (or at least not letting it make you stay there if it did).

And now, of all three of my children, you are my adventuress! You are always looking for an excursion, a creek to wade in, a lake to play in, a field to camp in, a mountain to climb, a cliff to jump from…. and now, a JEEP to take you to all of those places! Okay… the jeep was a bit of a detour, but it sooo seems to fit with the motif of all of your trails that you love to wander on. Sabrina, I soooo hope you get it!!! And my goodness, I can’t believe that it’s time to! Goodness, I can’t believe you’re already sixteen!

Remember (and of course you do) the night that you cried on my bed for so long because of your want to do right and your want for your friend to do right too? I so admired you for that! That takes more guts and more character than following the crowd does. Or simply not caring at all where they go and what they do. That’s hard. But that’s what Jesus is all about. I don’t know if there was a moment ever when I was more proud of you. Standing up for Jesus and standing firm in how He’s commanded us to live is sometimes the hardest thing in the world. But then, not really! For it’s the life that lives in rebellion that costs the most… it’s that live that will be the hardest in the long run. For it’s fun for a while, but then eventually the sin catches up with you and you’re so caught in its trap by then, and it’s already robbed so much of you that it seems that it’s impossible to get out of and turn your life around. Remember the enemy is deceitful. He’s good at making wrong look attractive, look fun, look harmless, look too irresistible to pass. Stay close to God and keep your life centered in Him and you’ll know when satan’s deception knocks.

I know God has great plans for you!!! We don’t always know what they are, but He does! Goodness, He knew while He was knitting you in my womb! What's wild is that He knew even  before then! He has a plan! He has a purpose! He has a will for your life! He created you and made you for a specific something! You have to keep seeking Him and asking Him and He will show it to you and equip and lead you there. He loves to stretch us from our Comfort Zone, but that’s so that we’ll rely on Him and not rely on our own power. Stepping out and doing what we know we can’t without Him is an adventure in itself and some of the funnest of things ever!

Which reminds me of the devotional you did for school. I was so proud of you in that! You’ve got such a great heart, Sabrina!! Such a tender one! I love how you love what people often think is unlovely. I love how you can make a lesson out of just about anything. I love when you write (you just need to start posting it!)!!! Wow, at what insight you have! I love your tenderness. And my, I love how hard you’re willing to work! I know you know this, but out of my three… who else works as hard as you’re willing to?

You’re one of my greatest treasures! You are absolutely beautiful… stunningly so… both inside and out! And I have never been more proud to call myself mom to the three sweetest children that I know of!

If you’ll follow the wisdom given in Proverbs 3:3-6, then your walk will be straight and you’ll live a blast of a life with our Lord, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of the God and man. Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in ALL your ways acknowledge Him (ask Him), and He will make your paths straight.” ….. Another version says of that last part, “Seek His will in ALL you do, and He will show you which path to take.”

May you LOVE God more than any other thing always for all of your life and may you live being a Great Display of your Lord's Splendor!!! Show Him loud! Show Him bright! And help to light the pathway for others!

I love you, Sabrina Wynn Lee,
more than words can say...
more than all of this earth and everything in it!
I’ll love you for always and all ways and forever!
I thank God so very much for you!
Mom

Some things are just too big to tell

That's the way I feel about most of my life right now... a whole lot of it is just plain out too big to tell. God has been rocking our world! Out-doing Himself! Showing up everywhere! Speaking in everything! Thrilling us at every turn! My husband's ecstatic. My oldest daughter is so soaring on Cloud God! I'm whoa-ing in wonder. And my youngest two are about to embark in their own two week "set-apart" adventure seeking Him at a camp that's totally all focused on and consumed in Jesus. How can I thank Him enough for all that He's doing in our worlds?!

It's God-this and God-that all over the place at my house. We're all scambling on top of everyone else's conversations wanting to share the next thing He's done in our moment. I love it! I've never had such fun!

God is especially wow-ing my oldest daughter. She can't fathom His goodness... nor His fun! He's going over and beyond in His woo-ing her and showing her His favor. She can barely ask Him a question or tell Him what she wants before He's answering her already and giving her what she's asked for. She wrote to me during the sermon on Sunday telling me that He was trying to be too cute, for the preacher was saying to her again all that God has already been saying!

She was at a friend's house last night, her and another girl, sharing the awe of their Lord together. I kept texting her from hour to hour wondering when she'd come home. She was basking at 12... and basking at 1.. and basking at 2... and still basking at 3... and then finally at 4 she texted me saying this, "I'm spending the night! God is sooooooo cool! I'm so happy, I was textin Justin and he said, "Are you drunk" I said,, "my cup is overflowing with Him".. he didn't get it. haha. I've turned into YOU! Scary!" 

I laughed and texted her back, "Oh good. Glad you're enjoying God's splendor. night. I love you. God is the God of wonder and miracles. I've told you a thousand times that He is the funnest thing I know. My biggest thrill daily. Who can explain it unless you know? Talk about drunk, God told us not to be drunk on wine, but to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit. Love your fullness to overflowing and your drunkness on Him!"

Can you tell we're having a feast of our Savior at my house? Loving our Lord out loud together. Gapping about the Goodness of God. And seriously basking in His wonder, wanting to share Him, wanting to show Him, wanting to serve Him because of His mercy and grace and the kindness He pours so laviously on us!