Thursday, September 29, 2011

The King is enthralled with your beauty!

I know my Tutwiler girls laugh at me. They did several times last night. But I hope what I'm saying is beginning to really sink in.... because I so very badly want them to KNOW W-H-O they are.... simply because of WHOSE they are!

Our lesson last night was on our being "ambassadors" for God in His Kingdom. And how we live in a foreign land to represent Him. Represent... as in re-present (as I like to think of it).... re-present or to "present" (as in GIFT) Him again to those who don't know Him!

At the end of the lesson I reminded them of a story about me that I'd told them before. A silly one. But one that to me is really, really real... and means a lot to me (even in its craziness).

I was in the middle of teaching a Wednesday night's series at church about our INsides showing OUT. Several times I had reminded the girls (in our church group) of who we really are in God's Kingdom. His daughters. His "princesses". Our Father is The King of all kings. The Lord of all lords. Our Prince... our Knight in Shining Armor... was / is, no less than, The King's Son Himself! A girl in my class had made a gift for me for my birthday. It was a pink cowgirl hat... with ribbons and feathers dangling down the back in the girliest colors. After leaving the restaurant where she'd given it to me, I pulled off on the side of the Interstate and cried over how much it meant to me. The symbolism in that crazy looking hat! I felt I had been "crowned" by the King Himself... as if I'd been given a royal tiara that perfectly was individualized and made specifically to personally fit my head, my character, my personality. I went out of town soon after that blessing to visit an out-of-state best friend. I wore my hat along the way on the road and knew I looked silly to all those who passed. I kept thinking IF THEY ONLY KNEW what it meant!

I had to stop to get gas. I debated on rather to wear my "crown" inside the station where I'd stopped. I thought that if anyone asked that I would talk to them with an adopted accent and tell them that I am a princess from a foreign land, that my Father is The King, that I have been sent (by Him) here on a mission, to bring others back to Him as His adopted children.

I wasn't brave enough to go to that extreme. But I FELT the 'royal' blood that now poured through my veins! I felt the urgency of the mission that I'd been called to and thus sent on. I knew I now live on alien soil, only awaiting my time to go Home, but first there was work to be done!

The girls always laugh at me when I again remind them of that story. Their current 'home' (their alien place) right now consists of a prison. But just as surely as they were sent there because of something they had once done, they've now been redeemed!... bought with a price.... adopted as daughters (by the Heavenly King).... and they are now not only there because of what they've done, but also now there because of what they could do! Their mission (for the moment) is on that soil. And they are to tell others of the Prince that desires them... and the Father Who wants to adopt them... to give them a Life that they've only dreamed of yet never known.

Funny! I came home last night to my daughter packing for an out-of-town trip with a friend. You'll never guess what she held in her hand as she was leaving. A crown! A tiara! Only a fake one. But I laughed when I saw it! I thought: she is her mother's daughter! She KNOWS W-H-O she is... and feels like royalty! :)

I was thinking about the girls in my class and decided to look up the meaning of their names to see "who" I had sitting there before me on the days that we meet. I found we had:

Terry - "the harvester or reaper."

Geraldine - "mighty with a spear"

Rebecca - "servant of God"

Joy - "joy; rejoicing"

Alicia - "sweet; of nobel birth"

Leah - "weary"

Deborah - "honey bee"

Melinda - "honey"

Amber - "precious jewel; fierce"

Elaine - "light; shining light"

Gloria - "glory"

Connie - "strong willed or wise; constant; steadfastness"

Matty - "strong fighter; strong in war"

Anna - "gracious; favor or grace"

Janice - "gift from God; God is gracious"

Michelle - "like God; close to God"

Woe! True royalty sitting all around me! Me, as one, and sitting with daughters of a real live King! A REAL LIVE KING!!! In a real live Kingdom!!! 

How can I not be reminded of the verse, "The King is enthralled with your beauty, honor Him, for He is your Lord" ~ Psalm 45:11. Oh, at the beauty that sat all around me!!! Oh, at the beauty that our God sees!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I laughed til I cried!!!

I got this in an email from a sweet friend of mine. I got so tickled when reading them that I could hardly see to read the next line... and hardly had the voice to continue to read them aloud. These are hilarious! My husband loved them! And some (perhaps all?) are at times a little too close for comfort!

NINE WORDS WOMEN USE... Just for fun 

(1) Fine : This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

 (2) Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

 (3) Nothing : This is the calm before the storm. This means something(!), and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with "Nothing" usually end in "Fine".

 (4) Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

 (5) Loud Sigh: This is actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of "Nothing".)

(6) That's OkayThis is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. "That's okay" means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake. 

(7) Thanks : A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say 'You're welcome.' (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says 'Thanks a lot' - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'You're welcome'.. That will bring on a 'Whatever'). 

(8) Whatever : Is a woman's way of saying...Go away! 

(9) Don't worry about it. I got it : Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man (or her children) to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to # 3.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

She begged for a king...

I friend of mine Facebook messaged me to tell me that her daughter is getting married.

I messaged back telling her that I'd heard, my daughter had told me. I asked her what she thought about it.... telling her that I didn't know the guy so had no opinion of him. 

She replied:

"Well, I don't know how I feel truly. Or, maybe I do... I feel like I love her more than life itself and her decision is made and that I will be by her through thick and thin. Remember when the children of Israel begged for a King and God tried to warn them, but gave them what they wanted? Well..... that is the example that keeps coming to my mind..... The children of Israel and all that God did to give them what they wanted..... all the while knowing it wasn't the best thing... but still.... loving them beyond what we can comprehend. He is truly an amazing God and all that I know to do at this point in my life is to look at Him and try to do as close to what He would do as my human side will allow. I know that doesn't really answer the question.... well, yes it does.... because I know this is Spirit talk and we Spirit talk well together."

I wrote her back:

"My first thought (because of something I'd just written) was: He can turn the heart of a king!!! Because where I am right now (in prison), I am definitely being privy to see His workings in doing just that. Wow though.... in all that you wrote................... We do pray for "kings", don't we??!!?......... Not realizing the journey that they will one day take us on..... nor all that they'll require and take from us. We sure, too often, make this road we walk on harder than it ought to be, you know? I am reminded often of what I heard Jill Briscoe once say that someone said to her. She told her, "I'm living right next to King David." Woe! I know that you were talking about a different king (not King David, but King Saul), but even that one, at one time, was dangerous! 

Why do we so wish for, want, and long for kings? Kings of all sorts, really. Yes, kings as in knight-in-shining-armors. Kings, as in jobs with bosses. Kings, as in desires.... like drugs and drinking (though never at first would we see such as kings!)... as in things that rule us (without ever truly realizing that one day they will). Wow... you've prompted so many ponderings inside me..... I could go a thousand different directions from what you've provoked my mind into thinking. I'll try to resist and reel it all back in and rein it back to your direction............ You said that often we beg..... and that when we do, God gives us what we've begged for, pleaded to Him for, and wanted so badly......... How scary! How seriously badly we want it. But how scary! The great thing about God though.... is that (usually after a detour of horror), He can ransom it, redeem it, renew it, refuel it, make it better, show His glory in it, make it a Display of His Splendor. We may be scarred... but mended. Hurt... but healed. Broken.... but repaired and made better. And then, wildly used for His Glory! A testimony to tell of His Story.

Just remind her before she says her "I dos" of the Velveteen Rabbit..... You don't become real overnight.... it's when someone loves you for a very long, long time, not just to play with anymore, but really loves you through everything still, then you become real. To make it "real"... it takes a lot of tatters. You get forgotten and left in the rain sometimes. You get hurt. You get torn. Your skin tears. You become really shabby. Your hair falls out. Sometimes your eyes do. You'll be worn.... but you'll be "real." And everyone knows that once you're "real" you can never become unreal again.

Crazily, I said all of that to say what God said in His way even better. Love is patient! It's kind! It keeps NO record of wrong! It isn't easily angered. It isn't rude. It forgets. It keeps on. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It always perseveres. It doesn't self-seek...... It covers a multitude of sins!

Meanwhile.... before these "I dos" take place, I will be praying. God knows what I don't. I will fervently be seeking His will and His way and even His words to pray.

I love you! Oh goodness, girl, there's LOTS to do if there's soon to be a wedding! Oh my... the thought is staggering...........

But.... back to the king issue. What kind of "king" have you been praying for? You don't know it's a "king". It doesn't look like a king. No one's ever called it a king. But make no mistake, disguised as it may be, it may very well be a "king"... and if it's a "king"... underneath its deception it's mean, and it wants to control, master, and rule over you.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

So here's what I want you to do...

Romans 12:1-3,

"So here's what I want you to do,
God helping you:
Take your everyday, ordinary life
- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life-
and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you
is the best thing 
you can do for Him.
Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
 fix your attention on God.
You'll be changed
from the inside you.
Readily recognize what He wants from you,
and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you,
always dragging you down to its level of immaturity,
God brings the best out of you,
develops well-formed maturity in you.
I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me,
and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you.
Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace,
it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who
are bringing this goodness to God.
God brings it all to you.
The only accurate way to understand ourselves
is by what God is
and by what He does for us,
not by what we are
and what we do for Him."
(The Message)

I love the old way that I am used to of seeing these Scriptures (in the NIV version)... but today, I was blessed by seeing them afresh in a new way.

I was blessed too by the way the New Living Translation put half of the second verse, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."

Again, "FIX YOUR ATTENTION ON GOD"... and "YOU'LL BE CHANGED from the inside you."

"So," as the writer writes, "here's what I want you to do...".(I love that line!).... simply give your everything to Jesus... and let Him, the Son of God, transform you!

It sounds so simple. And, the thing of it is, it is(!)... but only when we simply just do just as He's said! Hey, "FIX YOUR ATTENTION".... and the rest is up to Him! :)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

She's back... and the news devastates me!

The news was like a punch. It hurt. My breath seemed almost kicked right out of me. I felt sick. I felt weak. I wanted to cry. I still do.

I just found out she's back. And I so don't want her to be! It's almost ruined my day. I wish it weren't so.

I met her for the first time at 8 o'clock on a November 9th, 2010, Monday morning. Having never met her before then, we picked her up from prison upon her release. I wrote about it then. You can meet her here (Kimberly). 

I guess unconscious concern for her as I was working the next day popped a horrified visual inside my head. Sadly, my visual proved almost providential. The traps, indeed, were set. She took the bait. She reached for the cheese (click here). The spring snapped. And she got caught again.

Really.... I don't know what to say. I'm sad................... But hopefully, I'll see her soon. I can't wait until I get to.

Ugh! I hate the evil schemes of the enemy!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

An Update to the Update... and the post that followed


I just got up off the floor from bawling. I mean, for real, it was the complete uncontrolled embarrassingly ugly cry. And while there I kept saying to my Savior, "What are You doing? What are You doing? What are You doing?"

I said a whole lot more than that. We had a great intense unadulterated pouring out of overwhelmation on my part. I keep saying to others that God is blowing my mind.... well, minute by minute He continues to.... and I can hardly, at times, anymore stand up under it.

After finishing my earlier post.... I mean, even before I had a chance to "publish" it, I got a call from  the commissioner's office. Without even knowing what I've been saying on here the past couple of days, the man that called told me that I have "no idea what is about to burst open. This is about to be BIG!" My response was that that didn't surprise me.

He said that he'd just spent the last hour with SBC. For those that don't know, Justice C is a former Chief Justice of a state's Supreme Court.... who may (only time will tell) one day run for governor. He told me that she said, "I don't want to steal her from you, but I want to meet this girl that I keep hearing about." Hmmm... without realizing it, that "girl" is me! She, too, has a heart to help those incarcerated (wild to think such from a judge!)... and who knows where all her plans plan to go from there?? Partnering of some sort with us somehow, I know for sure.

"You know what this means, don't you?" Dr. L said to me.

No. It sounds huge, but no, I really don't.

He said, "This means that we're about to have possible input into the legislature. All of this is about to get official" And... he said a lot of other stuff that went way over my head. 

All I know is.... is that I don't know. All I know is..... is that God does! And I keep thinking about what I said (in the earlier "MOVIE NIGHT in the prison" post that I wrote), "Thank YOU, Lord God, for loving me!!! Thank YOU for loving the "least of these"!!! And woe... blow our socks off tonight as we start our new programs (also behind bars) exercising for Jesus!!!!! They have no idea, do they Lord? And I grin as I say that, for I feel You saying back, You have no idea either, Sharon! Just wait! As it is now, your mind cannot even begin to fathom!!!!" .......... WHOA!""

Wow! We'll just wait and see then.... because as it is now, right now,... I'm awed at whatever it is that He's doing without me even realizing whatever it is that that "whatever it is" is............ It's a good thing that I don't have to figure it all out, because He already has......... and as I keep telling Him, thank You for choosing and allowing me to be a part in whatever it is that You're doing. I LOVE those incarcerated! I mean, I LOVE (with an unexplainable love... with a love that so often loves so big that it hurts!) those in prison! Man, woman, and child. No matter where they've been or what they've done. No matter what they look like. No matter their size or their color. I have a love for them that is beyond  my own comprehension. I want them all to know Jesus! I want them all to feel (and to be filled!) with His freedom!

The sweet part of it is... actually, the best part of it is... that GOD loves them BIGGER than I do! It's God that's placed the love for them inside me! And more than I ever could, God wants to free them more than anybody! He sent His Son to save them. And sometimes... on some days... He sends me.......................

WHO is like the God that we serve!!!!!! Who can fathom His wonder!

"..."Who is like You, O Lord? You rescue the poor from those too strong for them, the poor and needy from those who rob them."........... "For who in the skies above can compare with the Lord? Who is like the Lord among the heavenly beings?.... He is more awesome than all who surround Him. O Lord God Almighty, who is like You? You are mighty, O Lord, and Your faithfulness surrounds You." - Ps 35:10b-11; 89:6-8.

Oh my! Look what I found!



I don't know where all that this has been. I don't know how long I've had it. I don't know how it ended up in my drawer. I don't ever remember seeing it before. But. It sure was a wild feeling finding it here today.

A cancelled check.

Drawn on: Union Bank & Trust Co.

Against the account: Wadsworth Angus Farm

Written to: St. Margaret's Hospital

Dated: October 5, 1962

For: Wadsworth, Mrs. Sally

In the amount of: $130.00

Signed by the very hand of my daddy: Sonny Wadsworth, Jr.

The check won't mean much to anybody anymore. It's old. Already cashed. No longer worth monetary value. The account no longer exists. The bank doesn't either. Nor does the Angus farm. And saddest of all, my daddy's gone too (though the happy part of that is that he's moved to Heaven).

So. Why so significant? Why so exciting? Why so priceless? What is it about it that so moved me?

Me and my twin sister were born on October 6th, 1962. By Sally Wadsworth. Fathered by Sonny. In St. Margaret's Hospital. Just a mere one day after this check was written. Whoa... at all the what-alls that's happened since!

I miss my daddy! I miss the farm! Crazily, that bank was ours for so many years, that I miss the bank and hate when they closed. As for the hospital??? Want to know about the hospital??? My head is doing its shaking-back-and-forth thing again. My lips are grinning. Because you know what? That same hospital that I was born in that no longer exists? It's now our Criminal Justice Building. That same building that I've been wildly excepted into without asking. That same building that I've been given the keys to without human reasoning. It's where the Dept of Corrections is found.... with the Re-Entry Coordinator that's for some reason (God!) has decided to adopt me into voluntarily assisting him.... with his office in the commissioner's offices... who has also welcomed me into their world. 

Wow. That check is priceless... for a whole lot of reasons! Most too tender to put words to.

But I find it wild, also, to know that when God had my mom at one time birthing me there that He already knew then that one day He'd bring me right back to that same building to be doing His Kingdom's business in! A "birthing" of another kind! One, right now, that is too huge to fathom! Too huge to wrap my mind around! Too huge to even begin to wonder at what all is soon to be happening......



Update from last night (after yesterday's post)....

And... as this post's title reads: THAT WAS SOOOOOOO MUCH FUUUUUNNNN!!!!!!

I bet I echoed that a thousand times after I got home last night. "Oh, that was so much fun!" "That was so much fun!" "That was sooo muuuuch FUN!" The kids eventually started mocking me and echoing me as well. But, I'd been filled to spill.... and I couldn't put a lid on it. It's excitement kept spilling out of me every time I opened my mouth. My heart was full... and my tongue had to tell of it!

Woo! God has just opened a door that the whole campus wants to flock to. The debilitating part of it is that our space is so limited. And sadly, too, our time!

Look at me. I'm a constant glutton. Give me a little... and I want more. Yet in this case we've already been given a LOT... and this "lot" has only whetted my appetite.... and from this one spark, my vision (my want!) has sparked to much greater wanting! It'd be too long to even begin to write here of all of my mind's dreaming!!!!!!!!!!!! But trust me on this.... the wheels are turning!!! And I'm so excited where this might could lead that I can hardly stand it!!!!

It was perfect! It was fun! The girls loved it! The warden loved it! The instructors loved it! The chaplain loved it! The participating officers loved it! The UN-participating officers (those that chose to be by-standers gawking and laughing at our ridiculousness) loved it! And now... we ALL left with a "continual lust for more"!!! We are GREATLY anticipating our Thursday night's meeting!

Oh Lord, talk about me dreaming.... I'm sure my mind cannot even being to fathom where Your mind is going on this. What Your plans are! What Your purpose in all of this is. I'm sure that  my mind can only think "this" far.... while Your mind KNOWS and Your mind has NO LIMIT! And thankfully, Lord, not only do You have the knowing, and the unfathomation (made-up word) of it.... but You've also got the power and the ability to accomplish it! You, dear Lord, can turn the heart of a king....... and oh my, how clearly obvious that is here!!! You so blow my mind! Do this thing, Lord! Raise up Your Kingdom behind the fenced in walls of a prison. Change and transform these girls from the INside while they're on the inside... to then send them out so that others can see You! I cannot wait. My excitement has me holding my breath and hardly breathing..........................

I feel (I KNOW!) that I can only see the tip of the ice burg.... and what lies beneath this thing that's started (that is only one, lately of so many) that's yet to be revealed has me baffled to speechlessness! I left our Zumba class and after quickly changing ran to our Bible study. I sat there stunned as I told our group of girls there, "Oh my goodness, girls.... I think we have no idea what's about to happen. Ya'll may not can see it from where ya'll are sitting.... but girls, God's favor and focus is ALL OVER this prison!" I told them to pray... to pray like they've never prayed before.... because God is opening doors and doing things that doesn't make sense to man. May He finish what He's started......... and rock our worlds, blowing our minds and changing our lives forever eternally with His wonder! May He light a fire inside those walls whose fire is wildly contagious! May He (as I prayed on the very first night that I ever walked in) turn this Maximum Security Women's Prison into a Maximum Security-IN-Jesus-Christ Facility. May He raise up mighty warriors and send them out doing His Kingdom's Business when they leave. Wow, woe, whoa..... there is no limit of what can be done with Him!

Thank You, dear Jesus, for this incredibly wild adventure and opportunity that You've allowed me to be a part of! Give me vision... and boldness.... and may every day I be about doing all that You've purposed and called and planned for me to do in this wondrous plan that You've come up with. I never could have guessed all this..... and now, You've got my engines roaring! Point me in the direction.. and fuel me.... guiding me and empowering me every single step of my way! Awed! I'm simply awed at my Savior and at all the work that He's done and is STILL doing! Glory! Glory! Glory! I love You, Jesus!

Monday, September 12, 2011

The countdown draws closer

As silly as this sounds..... and as excited as I've been.... now, as the countdown begins..... I'M SCA-ARRRED!!! 

I'm dressed. I'm ready. I'm early. I've got my clothes packed for a quick change after exercise class in order to go straight (stinky, sweaty, melted and all) from there to teaching Bible. I'm prayed up. For them. For me. For the instructors. For the officers. For the warden. For everyone in proximity. And now... I'm thinking...... .............. ......... ............... ............ ...... WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I DOING ATTEMPTING TO play a part and participate with them??????????? I don't DO exercise! I've not exercised in..... what???.... how many years (if EVA!)??? And here I am trying to start out cold-turkey in a Zumba class? Okay, with prisoners, who maybe have never exercised either.... BUT STILL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Where is my pride???? (And I know exactly where my pride is.... my vanity is hollering: "STOP HER!!!!!")

Oh no! Somebody hide me!

This sure oughta be fun. I'm sure I'll be soaring upon my hobbling exit. I'm sure I'll leave as high as a kite just as I left prison last night. But for the moment, fear grips me...............................

Dun...dun...dun... dunnnnnnnnnnnnnnn!

Okay... all that.... and even while shaking, I'm grinning......

MOVIE NIGHT in the prison!


I can't tell you how often I leave that place wishing I had a picture! Their faces were priceless! They're such a fun crowd! Always animated! Boisterously verbal! They holler. They laugh loud. They talk to the screen. They talk to the characters. They yell at the ones they feel worthy of yelling at. They encourage the one they feel need encouragement. They praise Jesus! They "Amen!" They "Glory!" They dog the devil. They get so into it. They're great participators. I LOVE being a part with them! They're often more fun to watch than the movie we're showing. 

I was simply soaring when I left. I came home and my daughter asked me what I'd been drinking? She was kidding , of course. But I'd been drinking Jesus and yes, filled with HIS Spirit!

The girl that I go in with on Sunday nights is quite a character herself. Older lady, but beautiful and very young looking. She's a fiesty thing. She went in early and set everything up. She'd spent the whole afternoon popping popcorn to bring. She couldn't stay though. So after set-up she left and I was left manning the program alone. I called to tell her how it went after I got home. She wasn't there, her husband answered. After getting off the phone with him, I wondered what he makes of her? She's so fired up and full of Jesus! She's bottled up wine and spilling over on all who near her! You add her fire to mine and we're a serious fire that no man can put out! I love the people who God has coupled me with to serve! I'm constantly floored and amazed at all that He's doing! Boy... BoY... I mean, BOY... He's sure all over and about the prisons right now! He's sure got a mighty thing going!!!!!!

I lay in bed last night... awed with His favor! Shaking  my head at what He's accomplishing that makes no sense in man's mind to accomplish. I often think of the song that sings, "His eye is on the sparrow".... and the "sparrows" that He's so seeing right now with mighty magnified vision are celled in the prisons. If only they realized His intense and intentional focus... and yes, like I said: His favor!

Wow, Lord,.... I don't quite know what to say. Tears are streaming as I wish I could verbalize my heart's filling/feeling......... I'll never be able to thank You enough for the grace You have... Your mercy.... but most of all, Your unconditional, unfailing, never-ending, all encompassing LOVE! It cannot be measured! It cannot be contained! It cannot help but run and seek to show itself to all of us... even those, who'll never chose to see and accept it. Who are You that loves us so... and who goes to such extremes and measures in hope to woo and captivate us in order to SAVE us?

Thank YOU, Lord God, for loving me!!! Thank YOU for loving the "least of these"!!! And woe... blow our socks off tonight as we start our new programs (also behind bars) exercising for Jesus!!!!! They have no idea, do they Lord? And I grin as I say that, for I feel You saying back, "You have no idea either, Sharon! Just wait! As it is now, your mind cannot even begin to fathom!!!!"............. WHOA!

Do it, Lord Jesus! Do what You do!!!!! With all power and praise and honor and glory... magnify Your glorious name!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Needing a donkey... and a Good Samaritan

I don't think that they intentionally failed to help. I don't think they meant to, set out to, purposed to, planned to. But........

A couple of weeks ago (out of desperation) I sent out a mass email to all of the men who had signed up to do prison ministry, it was men from several churches partnering with the Dept of Correction's Re-Entry Program. Quite a list of men, really. And only the men. I purposefully didn't send the email to any of the ladies. I was seeking to find a willing soul with a "donkey." Here is a copy of how my email read: 

I have two guys from prison that needs transportation from any willing soul that can help them:

  1. One guy needs a ride to the airport on the 15th of September.
  2. Another (an older man) needs a ride to Prattville on September the 20th.
My email continued:

I keep thinking about the expert of the law that asked Jesus, "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus' answer was to "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind;' and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" It's then that the man looking for a loophole asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"Jesus replied with a story. You know it well. 

Once there was a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On his way, he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him, beat him, and left him half dead on the side of the road. A priest came along, but when he saw the man, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A Levite came and did the same; he saw him too on his path, but passed him by, as well. The only man that didn't pass was a Samaritan. This man "saw" him too, as the other two had; but his heart went out to the wounded guy. In his "seeing"... he felt compassion for him and stopped to help him in his immediate need. Going over to him, he bandaged his wounds, put ointment on it, and then lifted the "beaten and robbed and left for dead man" and put him on his own donkey in order to give him a ride to an inn so that he could be taken care of. 

Here (on the 15th and 20th), we have an opportunity for two guys to borrow someone's "donkey." They've been robbed and stripped and wounded too.... even if self-inflicted, by the enemy who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. They, also, will be put out and left on the side of the road... hoping for some man of compassion to stop to help them. They don't need a ride to an "inn"... but one to the airport, and another to a friend's. I'm sure it would be nice to them if they had a "donkey" of their own so that they wouldn't have to ask to borrow ours. But being that they don't, I'm just looking for a Good Samaritan and a few minutes of their time. And woe, it's a great time and opportunity to share and show Jesus! I love picking up the ladies... I can't even begin to tell you the reward in it!
And... if you are unable to... but know someone who might can, please pass the message along. Thank you. And God bless!

It was what happened next (after emailing).... or the failure of what next happened... that both surprised and disappointed me. Out of all of those men, not one of them responded. No one offered. No one said a word. All of them saw. But they all "passed by." No one... not even one... stopped to offer to help either of them.

I'm sure their failure wasn't out of spite. I'm sure that each thought another somebody else would "see" and help. I'm sure most were busy with their jobs... and that some really couldn't get off. I'm sure they didn't feel the real need, the desperation, the great need for help.

But, isn't that what all of us too often do at times? We sign up to help. We intend to. We plan to. We want to. Our hearts are truly pulled to it. But when the time comes, we just don't feel the true compelling to. We're busy. On the way to wherever we're going on our own road. And we "pass by"..... we "pass by".... we "pass by" way too many people that are begging to truly be seen who truly, truly, truly, really, really, really, really do need our help.

Oh Lord, please help me not miss those sitting in my path just waiting to be seen and needing a little bit of assistance! I've been the stripped-and-beaten-and-left-for-dead-man-on-the-side-of-road.... and YOU, Lord, have NEVER passed me by! Dare let me to pass by another. Help me to "see"!!! MOVE ME with YOUR compassion!!!... passion that doesn't pass by, but that comes to the need of another!

"'You must love the Lord your God will all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.' And, 'Love you neighbor as yourself.'".......

After telling the story of the Samaritan, Jesus continued, "'"Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?" Jesus asked. The man replied, "The one who showed him mercy." Then Jesus said, "Yes, now go and do the same." - Luke 10:36,37

Yes! Now go! And do the same!

"Blessed is he who has regard for the weak; the Lord delivers him in times of trouble." - Ps 41:1

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Finding the whos to their yous..

My excitement has me nearly jumping out of my skin! Meeting with three of the girls at Applebees the other day, I told them that if I start floating toward the heavenlies every now and then, to just reach out and pull me back down to keep me grounded. I was talking ninety-to-nothing and grinning from ear to ear. Boasting in this miracle. Basking in where this could lead to. Soaring at this opportunity that our Savior has given. Awe-ing at the door that's been opened. Grate-FULL for the invitation!

Woot! Woot!... might I say that by next week (starting on MONDAY!): Let the parties begin!!!

I've thanked God for their excitement, their enthusiasm, their selflessness, their willingness to use what God has given them to sacrifice their time and talents in order to serve another,... their want and their desire and their determination to be about their Father's business wherever He wants them just as Jesus was when in human flesh He walked this earth over 2000 years ago. I loved the fire inside them that burned to high blazes with the same fire that burned high and hot within my own heart. Let me tell you, I felt us all so ablazed with God's Glory as we sat together, huddled in that booth, stuffing our faces, while discussing exercising in that corner where we'd been led to and told to sit in that restaurant... I wouldn't at all have been surprised had the fire alarm gone off!

Those sweet thangs are the answer to my prayers! I have been seeking the "who"s that God has called to this new ministry. It's not been an easy "seek"! Mostly because I was seeking the "who"s from my own acquaintances instead of seeking outside my realm of knowing. And yet, the moment it was placed in our church's "classifieds" email (which I thought NO ONE would respond to).... I got bombarded immediately by these very girls... and a few others also very much interested. I can't begin to convey my thrill!

The warden from one of the prisons that I volunteer in decided she wants to start an exercise program. She asked the man I assist if he knew anyone that might be interested? He told her he didn't, but he knew exactly who would! And then, he turned right around to call and give me the assignment. That conversation spurred many another between the warden and myself. She'd like to fill every spot open (each morning and evening every week day at 5:00).... As of today, I've filled four of those times! And beginning on Monday... and all next week, we will be offering aerobics, and Zumba, and kick-boxing classes.... with the goal to work on both their physical, but mostly, spiritual bodies while we're at it. Woo... my Lord can use anything to ride Himself into a village! He once used a donkey.... and next week, He'll use some exercise instructors!

Have I said I'm excited???!!!!!!

I am not super keen on exercising. My beef against it is that I don't like to sweat. Sweating does horrendous things for the look! (And wow, I've heard Zumba's intense!!!... Am I ready for this?... I'm scared!) But girl, you can bet your bottom dollar that I will NOT miss out on this opportunity! I'm going to every single class (at least for a little while) in order to help them feel comfortable and to get them started. But my real reason, is because I LOVE those girls... and it will be a perfect time to use to share and show Jesus to a very captivated (*smile*) audience!!!

I'll close this post with my newest faved verse. It's found in 2 Corinthians 10:13. When I read it, it was as if for the very first time. I NEVER remember seeing it before! UNTIL, that is, I realized how I had underlined and dated and highlighted it.... and when I saw the note that I'd penciled beside it to the who that I once gave it to. I actually gave this verse to a friend of mine years ago. The verse reads,  "We, however, will not boast beyond our proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to YOU" (emphasis mine). Another version, "... but will boast only with regard to the areas of influence God ASSIGNED to us, to reach even to YOU."!! Another, "... but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as YOU." One more, "... Instead, we will only brag about what God has given us to do - coming to where YOU live"!!!

I absolutely LOVE this verse! It so very much encourages me! Even though I knew it before, it lets me know it even more: We've all been "assigned a field"!!!... And my "field" is in the prisons. And the "you"s, that I've been called to, are the girls that at this time are residing there! And even a lot of those "you"s, once they get out and walk now freely on this outside of the fence.

The whole time (almost two months) that I was seeking instructors I KNEW that GOD KNEW His "who"s.. that He wanted to be there! I knew that this "field" had already been "assigned" to the very "who"s that He'd already planned and prepared it for. And now that He's let me in on those that He's sending... I can't help but be thrilled for the "you"s that He is sending them to! How incredibly and wonderfully blessed we ALL are in this process!

I doubt there are many people reading this... but those that find themselves still stuck here and reading this post... I can't help but wonder where YOUR "assigned field" is? And if you're working it? WHO are the "you"s that God wants YOU to reach? Who are the "you"s that He's assigned to you?

For lest we forget, let Him remind us: "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus TO DO good works, which God PREPARED IN ADVANCE for us TO DO" ~ Ephesians 2:10.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Life without?? NO! Life with!

We had a powerful service in the prison Wednesday night. The ladies were grinning from ear to ear when they came in, greatly anticipating our worship and the message that God had put on our hearts to share. Can I say, "Ready?" Those girls were so ready! Super duper ready! I mean like majorly ready! Smiling so big. So happy. So excited! And as He always does, God showed up huge and spoke both powerfully and loudly! Miraculously. Majestically. It was a wonder!

I didn't count the responses we had. I was so enraptured by every next girl that had come to me to pray for her that I couldn't see the lines beyond them. But from those that are into numbers, I heard that we had a lot. I love their hearts! I love the simple-ness in the prayers they request. I love the sincerity in the requests that are hard to ask. I love their preciousness. I love their hugs.

Afterward, as the inmates were leaving with only a few still dwindling, one sweet lady came to me to thank us for coming. She said to me, "I love it when ya'll come. We can't thank ya'll enough. And it's especially good for us "life without-ers"...."

"What?" I asked as I grabbed her arm and pointed toward the heavens. "NOT "life-without!" I said, "But Life-WITH Him! And girlfriend, you'll never be "life-without" again!!!"

I was grinning so big when I said it. My heart swelled! I continued...

"What that means is that this is your "assigned field" for the rest of your time left on this earth. And oh my," I told her, "at the opportunity that you have with all of the lives of these girls! And without distractions! Without the distraction of thinking about all that you can do when you get out. But instead, with the focused determination of all that you can do while you're still in!" 

It wasn't a pre-thought out answer. I hadn't considered the wonder of that before. God just gave me the heart and the words to say it in the very moment it was needed. He simply just took over my mouth and gave me overwhelmed enthusiasm! I love His wisdom! For who would have thought that but Him?

No longer EVER life-without.... but for all eternity: Life-WITH Him! Wow! Whoa! Woe! What a thought!........