Friday, January 30, 2009

Whispers in the Chaos

I live in Aggieland. I have the pleasure of knowing college girls, of having them all around me. We love us some Aggie girls!

Aggie girls come to my house and offer adult conversation when all I've said for the last ten hours are sentences on a five-year-old level. Aggie girls put up all my Christmas decorations when I'm six weeks pregnant, hosting Christmas dinner in five days and need help, major help. Aggie girls play chase, read books, ride bikes, wash dishes and fold laundry. Aggie girls love my kids like crazy and babysit on short notice.

I've always been "big sister" to my Aggies. You know, the coolest, hippest, funnest big sister type just away from home. But the seasons are changing, ya'll. Yesterday I was told, "I'm adopting you as my mom." And I didn't even feel old! I felt honored. I felt a new season shouting its presence. I felt excited. I still feel cool, hip and fun. But now I also feel like the coolest, hippest, funnest and especially the youngest mother ever!!

I have a couple of Aggie girls that are hanging out with me this semester (Hopefully they won't go and graduate on me anytime soon!). Hanging out is code for mentoring. Mentoring is a fancy word for doing life with each other. They are both so incredibly precious. One said something to the effect of this, "I love God so much!!! I just need someone to show me what to do." Have you ever heard a sweeter, more sincere invitation for God to show up and stir up a searching heart?

I have a feeling God is going to make Himself known in a big way in all our lives this spring just like He did for Job...from the whirlwind. I love closing my eyes and imagining God's presence swirling around Job as God himself challenges Job to right thinking.

I've never heard or seen a whirlwind but I don't imagine them to be calm or quiet. I imagine them to be wild. Webster's says they are: any circling rush or violent onward course. Violent. Rushing. I am thinking Job did very well to hear God's voice in a violent, circling, onward rush.

Do I hear God's voice in the whirlwind of my life? Because my life is certainly that. There is rushing onward all around me. A violent course of busyness and expectation calling my name each day. I only hear God's voice in the whirlwind when I quiet myself so that I can focus on the swirling air and listen to the course it is taking.

Here's one such time. Over the crazy, chaotic, filled up, sped up break that we called Christmas, a friend of mine was coming to town to visit her family for just a few days. We both have children and know how tough it is to see friends and really talk when children are involved especially in the midst of Christmas festivities. We were both praying. We both were sure God would bless us if we could figure a way to meet. We began to search with all our hearts for a way to be still during the whirlwind of the season. That way ended up being way early on New Year's Day. And, God's power showed up and He spoke and ministered to us in an amazing way!

His voice is a whirlwind. With one word our hearts are stirred. The wind of His words changes our life's course in an instant. God orchestrates wonderful blessings when we learn to simply distinguish His whisper in the midst of the storm.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Out of the Shadows

"But by means of their suffering, he rescues those who suffer. For he gets their attention through adversity." Job 36:15

God allows suffering so he can rescue us. Suffering causes us to incline our ears to our God. What can happen when we pay attention to God in our trials?

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation." Romans 5:3-4

Suffering develops endurance, endurance leads to character and character gives way to hope. Awesome! So how do we want to act while suffering or in the midst of challenging situations?

"Do not long for the cover of night, for that is when people will be destroyed. Be on guard! Turn back from evil, for God sent this suffering to keep you from a life of evil." Job 36:20-21

Have you ever "longed for the cover of night" or kept a deep, dark secret in your life?

Women struggle with depression, anxiety, perfectionism, eating disorders, anger, jealousy, people pleasing and gossip to name a few. I've struggled and hidden much but I also know the truth. Life is so much brighter lived in the light. Sometimes the darkness that threatens to destroy us is an abuser or a family dysfunction. Same truth. Walking in the light leads to a very bright future.

If this is you right now and you're hurting, decide you want the light, talk to someone. If you need help, get it. Ask for it. Beg for it if that's what it takes to be free. If you need accountability, ask for it. Call a friend, a pastor, your husband, a doctor or find a bloggy friend. Let someone speak into your life and listen and get help! We were not meant to walk alone.

"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." James 5:16

The first step towards the light is the hardest. Once you get a small taste of walking with the Light of the World, you won't ever want to go back into darker days. Trust me.

In one particularly difficult situation in my life, I was forced to choose between light and darkness. Choosing the light meant my friends would become divided. I would probably lose some. I knew the right thing to do but did not want to do it. I did not want to believe that God would ask me to because I loved my life and my friends. I wanted things to stay as they were. I was scared. I was hurt. I felt guilty. I felt betrayed. I desperately needed the light. As I prayed and cried out in anguish, God spoke to me. "How much light do you want in your life?"

Even foggy, dreary days full of clouds and rain have light. The sun comes up each day. Only on perfectly clear days does the sun show itself fully and shine brightly. The sun is there, it's not as visible. Well, if you know me, you know I want the brightest Son shining so everyone can see Him in my life. No matter what the cost.

I don't want to stay in the shadows. I want wonderful light. What about you?

"But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

So Dirty the Maid Quit

A friend recently emailed me her thoughts on living a life of thanksgiving. It was insightful and made me think about my life. She wanted her friends to not only thank God for the good things but to thank God specifically for the detail in things. He is a God who cares. About every single tiny detail of our lives...He cares. When you practice thanking Him in this way, you can't help but see the evidence of His nature.
The Lord has had me here. But, to the next level. That is, thanking Him when things don't seem to warrant thanksgiving. It all started on this day a few months ago...

Our fall was busy, busy, busy! My wonderful hubby finally noticed that if I wasn't at home than in a few weeks our house would look as if it would fall down on top of the stacks of clothes, dirty dishes and paper airplanes. We did what any busy and bothered people would do. We hired a maid.

She came. She cleaned. She charged an outrageous amount of money to do all the things I would do for free if I had the time. But I paid the check and enjoyed the smell of Lysol every other week. Until the end of football season. Football in Texas is crazy and hard core. It's every day for hours on end. My son wanted me there. The girls played soccer and softball. We were every where with this athletic schedule. Exhausted. Worn out. Looking forward to the smell of Lysol every other week.

One day during this chaotic season, our maid quit. She just left me a note telling me she couldn't clean my house because it was too dirty.

First of all, reread that sentence again and find the irony in it. I actually thought I was paying her to clean our house. I knew I needed help so that's why I called her.

Second of all, it made me feel like a slob and a failure. In a deeply profound way. Seriously, what kind of wife would do that to her husband and what mother would do that to her children? You know, make them live in the filth of our life...

Now that you've all earned it, have a good laugh at my expense.

I pouted and sulked and cleaned all night long every night like a madwoman for a few weeks. One night when I was pushing the broom, God spoke to me. He whispered some precious words to my heart. "Never stop thanking me for this."

I replied with a shaky, "Okay?"

As I began to thank God, He began to show me things about myself and my home that needed to change. My priorities had gotten a little skewed. That's when I began to put the chores out of mind knowing that if I just listened to God and kept my eyes on him the house wouldn't seem so bad and I'd have more time for the people who needed me the most.

Then I began calling around to price other maid services. Almost all of them were half the price of what I was paying and did more work. Some even do windows. I was greatly encouraged and have not stopped giving thanks to God for the day my maid quit.

A maid quitting may seem insignificant compared to those who are suffering with cancer and other diseases or being persecuted in a foreign country for being a believer. I actually heard a man on Focus on the Family giving his testimony about his battle with cancer. He said God had been so near to him during his illness and revealed parts of his character to him that he'd never seen before that he now calls cancer his friend. Oh, he said he battles it on a daily basis, fighting for his life and fighting to beat the cancer but that he wouldn't trade what God has taught him through cancer for anything in the world including his health.

As evidenced in Job, God allows dark times to come into our lives because light can be seen much more brightly in the darkness.

In Job 28 Job is talking of uncovering hidden and valuable treasures that are found underground..."They uncover precious stones...and bring light to the hidden treasures." Job 28:10-11

With this in mind, the treasures found in darkness, the treasures nobody has seen before, are the most precious. Even though the enemy means darkness to destroy our faith in God. God uses it to reveal himself to those who seek him.
If you know the end of Job (I just can't help jumping ahead!) you know that Job says, "I have only heard about you before, but now I have seen you with my own eyes." Funny thing, it was living in darkness that gave Job new eyes.

Let us thank God daily, even on the days the maid quit! Let us thank him at all times.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wordless not Word-less

Yesterday was a "normal" day for me. I overslept, woke sleepy, grumpy kids, a toilet overflowed, a child was running fever while painting his fingernails orange, had a teacher conference in the school parking lot, was late to bible study, my bus to a KW engagement in Houston kept departing 15 minutes earlier every time I checked my email, had the electricity go out while my son was undergoing speech evaluation and my babysitter/mother barely made it to my house in time for me to leave. That's it. What each and every "normal" day is like in my house.

When a decorated Christmas tree with pretty, beautifully wrapped presents is added to that picture, all blogging ceases because words stop flowing. That's what happened to me during the holidays. That's why there was such a long, eerie silence on this here web page. I was busy. So busy in fact, that the kids took it upon themselves to do a little Christmas decorating...

I was busy. I was wordless but not Word-less.

During the two weeks around Christmas, we traveled to Dallas, Austin, Conroe twice and Houston twice. We bought all our presents, decorated our house and grocery shopped for our traditional Christmas meal. On top of that, our two-year-old had his tonsils removed. Whew! Tired, yet?

As I sat in the hospital after his surgery I began pondering the holidays. I love the days before Christmas. Gingerbread houses, Christmas shopping and last minute decorating are my favorite parts of the season! This year, however, I simply ran out of time.

As I sat in a hospital room waiting instead of my kitchen table decorating gingerbread houses, I began to think about Mary.

How she must've been exhausted from riding that donkey but full of joy at the revelation that she was going to the place God said his Son would be born.

How she must've been frustrated when innkeepers kept saying, "No room!" but filled with awe and relief as God provided for her the mother of his Son.

How she must've been disgusted that God would allow his Son to be born into a dirty place filled with smelly animals but full of joy as she heard the shepherds tell of the heaven's rejoicing.

How she must've been disappointed as she pulled hay out of her hair and laid her Son in a feeding trough but full of joy as God revealed how he was using Jesus to bring light into dark places.

How she must've hurt that the whole world didn't come to see her Son, His only Son, but rejoiced as the wise men came from a faraway place.

Somehow, I don't think that very first Christmas went quite the way Mary envisioned it. I don't know how Mary was able to celebrate in that barn. I mean, kinda gross, right? But she did, I feel sure, by seeing as God sees and hearing his voice.

I pondered how Mary could live with hope knowing she would lose her son and wanting him to be treated like the King of Kings. Quite simply she couldn't. Unless, she kept her dreams and God's promises always before her. I'm sure her dreams didn't look quite the way she'd envisioned them. I bet when she thought she'd be giving birth to the Son of God, she thought she had a good chance of being treated like royalty. Giving birth in a barn must've been a huge disappointment. But God was never disappointed. I believe Mary kept hope alive and disappointment away by pondering God's words to her and keeping them before her at all times.

"But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
I pray I would do the same. At Christmas and always. Never losing sight of the dream. Always pondering the words God has spoken to my heart.

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" Luke 1:45

What dreams has God breathed into your heart that have yet to be accomplished? How does living the dream look different than what you thought? It may a holiday dream or an everyday dream, either way let's ponder His voice together and send disappointment far from our hearts. Let's keep on believing together!

Thanks for the reminder, B!

Monday, January 26, 2009

My Story Monday

Over the last couple of weeks, I have had the awesome privilege of meeting many wonderful ladies here in the blogosphere. I am on a journey through the Bible with them and hooked up with many more through Lysa, Renee and the GNO postings. I have just perused many, many fine blogs that tell of amazingly powerful stories and I truly sit in awe of what our Savior has done in your lives. I have been weeping for hours asking the Lord what seems like a zillion questions.

After reading Lysa's post last week the Lord began preparing my heart to hear his voice, you see I'm beginning to recognize his beckoning. That's when I decided to quit procrastinating and figure a way to go to hear her speak. God came near as I sought Him and worked miracles so I could leave town for an entire school/work day to be with Him. After Lysa's talk, I was truly feeling inspired. I was really feeling God's pull. You know the tug. The one that gives you hope that the dreams you have, the secret ones in the very deep places, the-ones-you-never-speak-aloud-because-you-just-don't-think-you-can-take-what-the-naysayers-have-to-say-dreams could actually become more than just dreams one day. And by naysayers, I mainly mean the enemy of my heart whose loudest insults occur in the silence of my mind and resound in the darkest depths of my soul. You can't. Why would you? Who would believe?

You see, I have a dream. I dream that God would use me. Just me. It's not that I'm special or even talented or even have anything to offer. I just have these words. Simple. Nothing profound. I have this story. Ordinary. Average, really. You see, I just want my life and my words and everything I do to SCREAM praises to my Rescuer. That would be the biggest honor imaginable. Truly.

As I began to spend time with these ladies, all I heard was how I couldn't do that, how my blog was so inferior and who would care anyway. Silly talk. But the talk I heard. I silenced it by taking every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5)and by birthing a new determination. A determination to you...My Story.

Just like Job said,"I will teach you about God's power. I will not conceal anything concerning the Almighty. " Even if it embarrasses the mess out of me and leaves me soul bared, eyes red from weeping, hiding-behind-my-computer-screen scared, I will tell of God's mighty display of power in my life.

So for the next few Mondays...or until my story is over, I will share bits and pieces of it here...with you. There are a million ways my Rescuer has shown up just in time to give me life when destruction was certain. Many of these times have never been put into words anywhere but deep inside my heart. So read carefully and handle with care, my heart is fragile but I'm entrusting it to you, my faithful friends.

Because His love beckons me,

Friday, January 23, 2009

My Day

Girls' Day Out in Houston was awesome!

My day started with the wonderful surprise of an email from Annette. I discovered Annette's blog a few months ago when I just read something she wrote and it sunk so deeply into my heart that words bounced out of my mouth. Crazy enough, she is moving to my town so we have determined that we will meet. As a result of the email, we talked on the phone and it was so great. I love this bloggy land where instead of sticking out your hand when you introduce someone, you stick out your heart.
Read it and reject it with an instant one ever knows. Read it and weep, leave a comment and you will probably make a friend for life. Because that's what every writer really wants. To be read. But to be read and to connect, to strike a chord, to identify. That is the best!
So meeting these bloggy friends and turning them into "in real life" friends is incredibly exciting and wonderful and encouraging.

Anyway, back to KSBJ's Girls' Day Out! Woo-hoo! Where I had the fun privilege of meeting bloggy friends Lysa and Renee.

I have "known" Lysa for years. Her testimonies of God's call to a deep relationship with him in her life have hit home with me. Her pleas to, "Say yes to God" have encouraged me when I was greatly discouraged. Her style of writing has drawn me to a place that says, "I can do that." Her life, from afar, has been one that made mine matter. So, imagine my excitement at meeting her, seeing her in person, hearing her say, "Oh! I recognize you!"
Ahhhhh! Loved it. Nearly died from excitement right there at the book table in Houston. Nearly.
It wasn't nearly long enough, our chat. But it was so encouraging and I know it birthed a friendship that this here blog will continue to feed. Thanks, Lysa.

Now let me tell you about Renee. I've read her devotionals, heard her on the radio and perused her blog. But, as she spoke, we really bonded. You see, we have the same olive jacket, the same stone necklace with silver pendant and the same testimony! The woman at the well was just like us. I really made a new friend with Renee and can't wait for the words of her blog to help me get to know her better! Looking forward to it, Renee! As a side note, Renee looked like her blog. Not the pictures of her on her blog but the decor and design of the blog itself. Renee, it really reflects you!!

And, Kate.

Kate is so honest. Brutally honest. I can respect that, identify with that and even admire it a little. It's all God's was her message. His timing. His choice. His plan. I was touched by the fact that she was such a minority in that she decided against the odds to keep all six of her babies in her womb. She chose life in a place where death is the norm. She received all the Lord has for her and won't shrink back and I admire that. I am praying for you, Kate, as you journey on with the Lord.

As for the rest of our day...
We left on time, set out for Houston and, if you know me, promptly got lost. Well, not lost really just got to the church in a round about way.

We only missed the box biggie! We got love and laugh and chat in the car. So fun, so fun!
My friends Becky and Kathy went with me to the event. I love my fairly new but very special friendships I am growing with these ladies.
I met Becky because my husband and her boyfriend became friends...from work, from the gym, from common social circles. Our men planned a vacation for us and all our kids last summer. Between us we have seven ages 2, 5, 7, 8, 8 & 9! We had to start talking to help get the essentials included in our trip. Our guys would've taken lawn chairs and summer sausage to the beach and called it successful! I immediately loved her decisive and motivated attitude.

I met Kathy at our office. Her desk was near Andrew's office at Keller Williams. Then I saw her at church. I saw her everyday until I just started talking to her. I immediately fell in love with her heart for the Lord and hunger to hear his voice and obey.

I met these ladies and a few others at a time when God was talking to me. He was saying, "Start a Bible study." I was saying, "Okay...Who will come???" These friendships and our amazing journey together is what happens when women say yes to God.
The unique thing about this group of Friday night ladies is that they come from my real life. You know what I mean. The life I live Monday through Friday. Not the Sunday, retreats and blogosphere life. They met the "real" me, the me you see, the me you get before they met my heart. I like it when my life, my heart and my friendships all intersect with my Lord. It makes for a great combination of loving and living. It gives God great opportunities to work. It keeps me on my toes and helps me examine my heart and seek to ooze my Jesus out of my skin in an everyday, everywhere type way.

I love the ladies that meet the heart first. I love the ladies that meet the flesh first. I pray that they can all see the same lady. This lady who loves, loves, loves her Jesus and says, "Yes" every single second of the day.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Language of Love

"Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was." Job 2:13
Seven days and seven nights of silence. Complete silence. No words. Did they clear their throats, cough, weep, hug each other? Silence.

Job's predicament was so complicated, so mournful, so offensive there were no words adequate enough to console their friend. Job's friends remained silent.

I find this to be sage advice when a close, very close friend is confronted with something I have not experienced up close and personal. When I had my miscarriages, lost my babies, she called me and simply sat on the other end of the phone for what seemed like an eternity. I didn't hang up or say a word. I sat and wept. She sat on the other end of the phone miles away as hot, silent tears streamed down her face. "I have no words," she whispered in a hoarse broken voice. Her silence spoke more than any words she had ever spoken to me. Volumes of love lived in the silence. Such deep compassion and caring were present that day.
I believe Job's friends sat in compassionate silence comforting their friend. I don't think it was awkward or long. I think it's just what one does for friends you love like a sister...or a brother, in this case.

Now I like some of what Job's friends had to say. Some of my favorite verses are found here. "Having hope will give you courage. You will be protected and will rest in safety. You will lie down unafraid, and many will look to you for help." Job 11:18-19
A question I'd like the answer to as I read Job lies in the why. What motivated his friends to speak? As I seek the motivation to their hearts, I get hopeful...
And I think I already have an idea.

As I continue to read Job I am going to try reading it as if his friends are speaking with a tone of love. As words from friends who loved Job so much they were willing to sit with him in silence for seven days and seven nights. Words spoken from the mouths of friends who loved Job so much they longed to give him a reason, an answer, a solution to end his suffering because that's what people who love us do. They long for our hard times to get easier. They pray for cursing to turn to blessing, weeping to turn to laughter and mourning to turn to dancing. They beg us to examine our lives for sin and its consequences. They point our heart to the Lord when agony and bitterness threaten to take up residence. They love us so deeply that we listen to their words without anger even when the words are not exactly what we want to hear. We listen because we can feel the love.

I'm going to read with a tone of love because sometime after that day of silence my friend spoke again. She spoke to me and I'm sure I was still grieving when we spoke. I can't remember exactly what she said but she pointed me to God and his infinite love for me. I know she reminded me of his promises and his beautiful and good plan for my life. I'm sure that I knew that already even if it wasn't just what was on my mind that day. I'm sure that I probably didn't feel like being reminded of it at that point. But I listened. So I will read with love in mind.
And because after many years and many words she remains one of my closest friends...I read all the while thinking of love.
And now I am to the KSBJ Girls' Day Out with Lysa and Renee from Proverbs 31. Woo-hoo! Sorry, Kate (from Jon & Kate Plus Eight) It's not that I'm not excited to meet you. It's just that I don't know you that well. You see, I'm a busy mommy myself and I don't have much time for TV so i don't watch your show on a regular basis. I have seen it once or twice but not enough to fall in love. Just enough to think that it looks a lot like our house and well, with limited time and all, I just wanted to escape not get a good dose of reality. So win my heart today, show me God in the mundane, let's really bond and I'll invite you to come into my living room each week where you can share your heart as I sit on my couch and fold laundry. It's a real safe place and many others have done so before you. I'll be praying for you today and for my old friends Lysa and Renee. I'll post pics and tell you all about it tomorrow. Pinky promise.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Worship and Suffering

***IMPORTANT UPDATE***I am attending KSBJ's Girls Day Out in Houston tomorrow with Lysa and Renee from Proverbs 31!!!!!!!!! If you are visiting and you'll be there, leave me a comment or email me so we can meet. I'd love to see your face and hug your neck. Then I get to move you from the "bloggy friends" column to the "real life friends" column! So email me, find my email address in my profile.

In regards to Job, this is what I love.

One by one his servants have come to tell him horrible, devastating, grievous news. Four messengers came. Not one hard thing. Four hard things. Not one child's death. All children dead.

"Then (Job) shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship." Job 1:20

That's it. The stuff that made Job ordinary was stripped away. The stuff that made Job blameless was put to the test.

Job fell to the ground to worship. Not to grieve. Not to mourn. Not to scream in agony. Not to weep in pity. But to worship.

Oh Lord, that my first response in suffering would be to worship. I think my normal response to suffering has been to ask God to take me to a place where I can worship. But worship as my first response? Isn't that asking a lot? Yes, and God deserves it! I pray that my automatic response to good and bad would be to worship. I want my response to God and what he brings to always be to worship.

I love, love those sweet words.

To worship.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Forgiveness and Redemption

After Jacob died, Joseph's brothers once again get afraid that he will seek revenge. They think he will seek justice for the wrongs he suffered at their hands, at their expense.

Wow! He has forgiven them, wept over them, blessed them, rescued them, loved them, protected them, trusted them, spoken freely with them...What more do these guys need to see that they are truly forgiven?

They still have to fabricate lies to try to protect themselves. They tell Joseph that their father, on his deathbed, requested that he fully forgive them.

When Joseph hears this lie, he breaks down weeping yet again.

And I wonder. How many times do I continue to make excuses for my sinful behavior? How many times do I cast blame on others because I am afraid to walk in forgiveness? I hide behind my fear afraid to live in freedom. Fear. It's crippling. It's wounding. It's all the brothers can see. It surrounds me and clouds my vision when I'm focused on my mistakes, sins and shortcomings too.

I am touched so much by Joseph's response. He breaks down weeping. Then he calls his brothers to his side and reassures them of his deep love and forgiveness by pledging to continue to care for them and speaking kindly to them.

God has so powerfully redeemed Joseph's suffering and showed his sovereignty in the purpose he has for Joseph over and over again that this is so not an issue with Joseph. Only with his brothers.

And I wonder. Do I believe the purpose God has behind every situation that comes my way, both good and bad? Do I know that nothing can stop God's plan? Is my faith so strong that forgiveness and blessing ooze out of my life? Really, do I rest in the peace of God's sovereignty? Or do I focus on my hurts, my offenses, my losses? So often, I am so focused on what went wrong that I can miss what went right. Joseph knows. Listen.

"But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21

I love these verses. I read them. I soak in them. I meditate on them.

And I wonder. Do I live like Joseph or do I live like his brothers. Do I believe I'm forgiven? Do I accept God's promises as my own? Have I seen redemption played out so many times in my own life that I believe in God's sovereignty over blaming others? Have I experienced the type of forgiveness that produces abundant life and the ability to love others? Do I really live like one who God has rescued over and over again? What was meant for evil, God used...For His Good...Freedom lies there. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good...So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them." Healing words. Gentle words. Tender words. Words-that-turn-away-wrath words. Living words. Kind words.

Forgiveness is in those words. Accept it. Extend it. His purposes are prevailing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reunited and it feels so good...lalala

I wanted the reunion to be awesome! I had carefully and thoughtfully, as thoughtfully as one with four children chattering all the time can get, planned my wardrobe, my hair, my jewelry, my route to the metroplex. I had it all planned. I was leaving early, by myself!!, having dinner with my grandparents and then getting to the big Richardson Heights Baptist Church youth group reunion early...after all, there would many to see and hug.

Well, starting out I had very little time to pack. You just can't stand around thinking in a house with four kids, two dogs and one husband. As much as you want to, you just can't.

I left only 18 minutes off schedule. Set out for the funness of Dallas and promptly got lost. I ended up in Ft. Worth. It was okay, I needed a recent tour of cow town. It's been awhile.

I got to my grandparents an hour and 18 minutes late for dinner, had to wait another 45 minutes for dinner. That was okay too since I wasn't going to rush through any part of my time with them. I love, love those memories I have with them growing up. They nurtured me, took me to piano lessons (the ones my mom can't even remember) and let me sit on their laps (even when I got bigger than them). They pray for me everyday and we just had to sit and celebrate Hunter's profession of faith. They have seen another one of their 13 great-grandchildren come to know the Lord and start a life of following hard after Him.

After dinner was served, we ran back to their place so I could change. I had not completely packed. (I later found the items in my bathroom at home. You know, the ones that never quite make it to the suitcase...) I had a black shirt, black boots and a brown jacket. The jacket that hides my muffin top quite well. **sigh** I would've rethought everything from boots to jeans and jewelry without the jacket. Determined not to let this spoil the evening I continued on...only to realize that I had no hairspray or deodorant,

So, with flat hair, stinky pits, muffin top and saddle bags apparent, I went.

This is all really ironic because as I was trying so desperately to think about packing my outfit, the Lord spoke to me. "You should care more about how your heart has changed than your appearance." What good is a perfect face if my heart is not reflecting more of my Jesus?

I knew that hardly a person would notice how tight my jeans were or how gray my hair was or even how leathery my face is after all that tanning. ("If you can't tone it, tan it!!!") But, if it looked as if my heart had become hardened to the Lord, my friends would worry, they would be disappointed a little and they would surround me with love. I can say with confidence that my heart reflects his more today than it did then. It's a promise I have in scripture. "And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Philippians 1:6

I can also say that Kevin Joyner looks more like Jesus too...David Whitson did. He walked right up to us talking and said, "Kevin, you've totally got the face of Jesus going on!" And, here's the picture to prove it.

Speaking of David, he's a pilot for Continental. He is proof that dreams come true. When he was 14 years old and probably even younger, he would always tell me he was going to fly someday. I am so proud of him.

I hugged my JoAnne Tanner and I cried. Still cry thinking of it. She is one of the many. The many young moms that worked in the youth. The ones we emulated. They had cute as a button children, loved and served the Lord and gave us gawky, gangly, awkward kids encouragement and love like we couldn't find anywhere else. These 30 somethings sacrificed time to make us feel welcome, loved and to give us hope in the future. Hearing her say how proud of us she is brings such healing and freedom to a place that loves The Heights so much. There were more...Where are you, ladies? I miss you and love you!!!

I loved seeing Parker Eng and Andrea Dougherty and other long lost friends. Those who witnessed God doing miracles in my heart. Love those folks!

Seeing the women that I loved so much, poured into so much, prayed for and spent many long hours with during my college years and have lost touch with was wonderful.
They are all so beautiful...Jeannie Harr, Tiffany Lemke, Kami Ford, Kathy Lineberger (she traveled so far),
the list goes on...I will not lose touch again.

The Lord told me in advance to prepare for the high highs of seeing those long loved and so influential after a long silence. He also told me to prepare for low lows of grief over the twenty years. How can it be? I haven't seen most in 15-20 years. Some briefly at my wedding...But not enough.

I loved being that girl again, for one night. The girl with all her dreams ahead of her. The girl who is still on a honeymoon with her God. I love feeling the hope that was reborn because of it. I loved remembering who I am. That I am still the girl I was then. All the dreams that I won't give up on. The honeymoon that continues just in a deeper, more mature way.

I loved seeing the people that were a family to me when I needed that and couldn't get it all were I was looking. I loved seeing that most of the guys in our youth group are in full time ministry.
I loved seeing the girls as mothers.
I just loved all of it. You all make me so proud! I loved hearing some saying how this whole reunion stirred up the call of God in their lives they heard long ago. It made me think of the verse we claimed as our own in those days. "I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs." Isaiah 41:18
I think being reunited is good. It's very good.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Tuesday's Post

I have no post for Tuesday. It was a busy day. I didn't even turn on my computer but boy, oh boy, what a day!

As we were driving to school reading our devotional, we began to talk about knowing Jesus and being born again or placing your faith in Christ. We believe that his death and sacrifice on the cross is all we will ever need to spend eternity with him in a relationship that will ultimately end in living forever in heaven.

We began to talk about people we should be praying for and sharing with. Julia so sweetly said, "Palmer." Alyssa matter-of-factly said, "Hunter."

I was praising God that my boy, Hunter retorted with this, "Uh-huh, I have asked Jesus into my heart and I only have to do it once. Quit saying I haven't!"

There you have it. Faith of a child. Hunter Isaiah Smith is His. He belongs. The foundation has been laid on the Truth. Would you pray with me that we would continue to lead him to the Rock for strong building?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Becoming a Blessing

Thinking of Joseph today and asking some questions. His reunion with his family must have been incredible. I imagine the guilt of his brothers being erased and the joy of his father being restored.

Then I remember Joseph's dream so many years before that day. Is this how he thought is would be? The Joseph that others bow before is so humble. The rainbow robe long gone was replaced with rags for a time. He actually became the brother his brothers desired him to be living in prison. Until a good God sovereignty lifted Joseph out of the pit with a loving hand just as He said He would.

So often we have dreams. We want to be used by God. We want our inheritance as Abraham's descendants and heirs with Christ. When God uses us, when those dreams come true, do they look like we thought they would?

Did Abraham think being the father of many nations would mean years upon years of infertility and barrenness?

Did Isaac think being a miracle child, born for the sole purpose of carrying on his father's legacy would look like his sons fighting and running?

Did Jacob think receiving blessing would contain living in fear of his brother or working and being cheated for 14 years?

The answer is emphatically, "No!" But these are snippets of lives of ordinary men picked by the hand of a sovereign God to demonstrate his grace throughout all generations. There must have been many, many times these men cried out to God asking him how long. The result was their characters were molded to reflect his goodness and mercy as their destinies were being fulfilled.

As I wrestle with what God's sovereignty and grace look like in my own life (After all, I do have a reunion this weekend!) I am reminded as I measure all the places that still fall short that this is only a part of the story. May the fullness of his grace be revealed as my story continues.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Food for the Famished

Through all of Joseph's suffering and hardships, he repeatedly pointed those around him to God. Any time he received honor, knowledge or responsibility, he gave God credit and glory. Even in prison.

He told Pharaoh that interpreting dreams was beyond his power but not beyond God's. As God used Joseph, Pharaoh believed the truth, that it was actually God working. He calls Joseph "so obviously full of the Spirit of God." Way cool. How I long to be obviously full of God's Spirit!

Joseph's reputation is firmly established in God. God blesses him greatly. He is put in charge of mutiplying the food supply, in light of a future famine, for which God gives him a strategy.

Now for the kicker..."So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain..." Genesis 41:56

I pray that I, like Joseph, could open up the storehouses and feed a starving world. I am asking God for a strategy. Will you join me?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Seeking & Guarding

A common phrase that I've been hearing lately is this: Guard your time.

I've come to set aside a time for the Lord and protect it at all costs. Some days this time is an oasis in a dry place and others this time is a war.

I want to give God my best. That's when I can hear him best. For me, it has to be when the slate of my day is cleanest...That's the morning before anybody needs anything and before I have failed them! And before I've failed God by messing up any of it!

It's also last thing before I go to bed at night. In lieu of television this year, I am reviewing my daily Bible reading, reflecting on my day and any changes to made tomorrow and recording my thoughts.

We're doing the same thing as a family. Morning devotions are still taking place on the way to school but in addition, we are praying and reading through the Bible as a family. We are using The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I highly recommend it for any age as I always take a lesson away from the readings myself!

Before we go to school, before we go to bed, before brushing teeth, before chores, before sleep...Seek Him first...

"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need." Matthew 6:33

...And, I'm praying it sticks!

Monday, January 12, 2009


As I read about Abraham sacrificing Isaac, I wonder why. Why would God ask that of him? How did Abraham do it? Why didn't Isaac overpower his 110-year-old father and run for his life? Why?

Then I see an old man chosen by God before the beginning of time who knew his God's voice, trusted his God's provision and never doubted his God's goodness. "I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then I will do for Abraham all that I have promised.” Genesis 18:19

This was yet another way God would use Abraham to pass down the knowledge of God's ways to his sons. This was yet another opportunity for Abraham to allow God to use him and provide the grace to obey in a seemingly crazy call of God on one man's life to fulfill a destiny for a world of people. Are you starting to believe in the "ripple effect"? How God used these ordinary men to carry out his legacy is amazing to me. It is hopeful to me. It is grace and light and life to this ordinary gal.

I think of my own kids. I hear "why" much more than I would like. I'm teaching them to trust me to obey without question or hesitation and to believe that I am good to them. I want it to be second nature for them to believe God like Isaac did. I want the type of grace Abraham experienced when he was able to calmly and confidently bound Isaac to the alter. I need the reassurance that comes from the fact. God uses ordinary men...and women. He uses people like me to change the world. He uses people like me to raise Godly children. He uses people like me to make his destiny known. He uses people like me to bring his purposes about in the world.

Thank you, God for trusting me with the legacy. May you find me worthy as I receive your grace.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Game On!

This week I've read about a God who speaks a word and makes something lovely out of nothing and a God who fills barren women's tummies with wiggly life and I am convicted.

I am convicted because when I pray my mind thinks things like, "I believe you can but I really don't think you will..." When I pray I see the way people have always been, the junk I've always faced, the fallen state of the world. Starting today I want to see the unchanging nature of a good God who hears and has power. Instead of seeing the way things have "always been" I want to see things the way they could always be.

From blackness to beauty with just one word. From barren to baby with a breath. That's the God I call on to change things. Starting now I'll no longer be viewing people or circumstances on a sliding scale from bad to worse, from slightly fixable to permanently damaged. I'm looking to a God who is mighty to save. A God who sees me, a God who hears me and shows up...never late.

It seems life in this fallen world has dulled my vision and time in his word has sharpened my focus. As I pray to a God who was, who is and who will change the world, I invite you to join me.

Friday, January 09, 2009

There's No Cheating Grace

As I read about Jacob cheating Essau, I have two reactions. One is how much I identify with Jacob. When I want something, I focus, I scheme and I never give up until I own it. Accomplishment, award or material possession will be mine or bust!

You see, by nature I am extremely competitive and manipulative. A hearty combination for none other than sin! I understand Rebekah. Little white lies never caused much guilt, right? We don't know if the blessing was tainted by the scheming and manipulation of God's prophecies. We do see Jacob humbled later on in scripture so my guess is just a little...

My second thought is about how unfair it all is. I feel like a child screaming, "That's not fair!" as I read about poor Essau. Except...I find myself asking if I value my destiny. Do I protect who it is that I am? I want to learn from my history. And, this history is mine.

Why would God use someone like Jacob to carry out our destiny? His legacy?

I think he is trying to make it clear that the ultimate plan for our redemption began long ago before the beginning of time. It was put into place in a perfect garden even when it seemed no plan was needed. Yet there was still a plan. A perfect plan made by a perfect God to use imperfect people to reveal his grace.

And once again I'm encouraged because I'm far from perfect and I need his grace desperately.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

walking in the cool of the day...or night

day 7 & 8
"One evening as he was walking and meditating in the fields, he looked up and saw the camels coming." Genesis 24:63
Once again we see blessing and answered prayers from that inward ministry to God.

How excited Isaac must have been to see those camels coming! Remember being young, single and just waiting for God to "reveal" his plan for your mate? I wonder how many nights before this night Isaac had walked with God and watched the horizon waiting for his bride.

Just as Isaac waited on God, trusted Abraham's judgment and trusted in God's plan for his future..."He loved her deeply and she was a special comfort to him..." Genesis 24:67 Such a picture of a Godly marriage.

Then when his beloved wife was barren, he went to his good God. The God of his father Abraham. Surely God would hear and give him a son. After all, God had already spoken concerning the promise. Isaac himself was a miraculous demonstration of the legacy. Our legacy.

I imagine that in his evening walk, once again, he pressed into the Lord, "Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife..." Genesis 25:21

I love the word pleaded. It means "to appeal earnestly" or "to afford an argument or appeal."

Isaac pleaded to a "God who hears" and that same God who heard his own father's pleas answered.
I am taking Isaac's challenge to take inventory of the dreams I once shared with my husband and the unanswered prayers we have ceased to even mention to God anymore. I want to walk in the cool of the day like Adam did with God. I want to walk in the evening while meditating and praying like Isaac did. I want to be so sure of God's character that I plead earnestly because I know I am talking to a God who hears, a God who answers and a God who's promised. I will pray with a renewed hope and a renewed focus to a God who hears and a God who answers. The God who will always do what he's promised!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Outward vs. Upward

day 6 & 7
Like I said, I overslept yesterday. I woke up with a choice. What kind of words would I use? This is a choice I have every day.

When God spoke to me about 2009, he spoke the word, "Outward." He showed me he can't help but use someone who is devoted to him on a inward journey to move upward. It's a promise.

He then showed me about my words. How the ones that go upward are used to change the world starting with my small corner. He showed me how few those words really are and how powerfully good those words are. He showed me how most words go outward and fall lifelessly to the ground or worse. Some words even bring death when God uses words to speak life, I can be so guilty of using words to mortally wound those I love.

God showed me the ratio of up to out...Not good. This year many, many, many more words will go up rather than out I pray. I want my words to be fitting, worshipful and uplifting. I want my words to be worth their weight in gold. In order to do that, they need to become more rare. Not in a silent monkish sort of way (which can be good in a monastery) but in a gentle mommy and loving wife sort of way.

"(God) has singled (Abraham) out so he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. Then God did all he promised." Genesis 18:19
Lord, teach me to lead them by example for I know you will do what you promise. There are certain things the Lord has singled me out for...parenting these particular children, helping this particular man, living here, working there, leading them..."For 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
Lord, let me be trusted to do what you've called me to do. Single me out for your purposes.
"Abraham was now a very old man, and the Lord had blessed him in every way." Genesis 24:1
This was before Isaac married. Blessed in every way. Every way.
There was peace Isaac would marry well. Belief God would fulfill the promise through Isaac. Our legacy.

The whole story of Isaac, from birth to marriage reminds me to pray for my children. The more I take my cares concerning them upward, the more I can hear God's promises concerning them. When God speaks worry leaves...Today I am encouraged to speak more words to God on my children's behalf, teaching them to keep the way of the Lord.
I pray you are encouraged by his word today.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sarah's Laugh

"The Lord kept his word and did for Sarah exactly what he had promised...this happened at just the time God said it would." Genesis 21:1

I didn't hear my alarm this morning. I woke up way late. Yep, just the day after I posted about 5 AM. Isn't that ironic?

Well, I got up determined to not yell at my kids, "Hurry! Hurry! hurry! Hurry!" So I tried to gently urge them along, helping them all at one time, which required using my third, invisible arm that I morphed the day I became a mother.

I tried to remain calm and focused. The reality is it takes them about the same amount of time each day to get up, get dressed, eat breakfast and load the car. If I don't get them up at the same time each day, only then do we have a problem.

They were not unusually slow today. I wanted them to conform to my time table. A short and small one this morning.

I wonder if Abraham felt this way. I know Sarah did.
What are waiting for God to do? Have you given up hope?
"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness." 2 Peter 3:9

Monday, January 05, 2009

Inward and Outward

day 4 & 5:
He will use me. He has promised.
"...and you will be a blessing to others."

When I had many small children at home. God spoke to my heart and freed me. He removed so much guilt that I had over not making it to Bible study each week by simply whispering to my heart.

He just reminded me what Bible study is really about...Him. He reminded me my ministry was wrapped around my legs. He also told me to focus on my inward ministry. To nurture the relationship that was born and living in my heart.

He instructed me to stop calling my time with him a quiet time and refer to it as a time of devotion. My time in God's Word became less and less of a duty and more and more of a time where I poured out my devotion to the One I love by listening, by receiving, by worshipping. He built in me the discipline of solitude. And he continually reminded me that I couldn't help by become more involved in outward ministry as a result of this time.

When God spoke to me about 2009, he told me this would be an outward year but now I know that outward begins with inward.

When Lot got captured by the rebel kings (Genesis 14) some of his men escaped and ran to tell Abraham. Abraham had abeautiful inward relationship with God. Abraham went and rescued Lot. This is a beautiful picture of intercession. An inward ministry breeds an outward call to action. When those around me face trouble, do they know who to call to help rescue them? I know the Rescuer. He is a God who sees us. He is a God who hears.
"You are the God who sees me." Genesis 16:13

The Fame of Abram

days 4 & 5:
"I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others...all the families on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:2-4

As I read about the call of Abraham, I was reminded how my life is much the same. I remember God speaking to my heart, "Just do what I say and I'll make you successful beyond your wildest dreams." So Abram departed as the Lord instructed.

And, since then I have left my home. I am living in a strange and foreign country (right here in College Station.)

I do get scared. I do forget. I do try to make it happen on my own and tolerate those who do. I do laugh sarcastically when I think all hope is lost and the time has passed. I do.

I need God to remind me over and over again of his promises. I need to remind me that he's given me a new name. He's made me new and I need to hear that. All the time...or I forget.

And, he's going to bless me. He said so when he told Abraham.

"...all the families on earth will be blessed through you."

As for my reading...

day 2:
Cain and Abel. I was saddened over Cain and his mediocre sacrifice. Why didn't he just freely give all that God deserved? Why don't I?

The Lord spoke to me not too long ago about firstfruits. He spoke to me specifically in regards to my time. He patiently guided me and disciplined me into getting up and spending time with him early in the morning. When I had tiny babies and preschool-aged children early was 7 or 8:00. As I've transitioned into a mother of school-aged children who has duties outside the home, early has become 6:00. Then 5:00. Some days it is 4:30.

This is truly a miracle in my life. God touched me and I have become changed. I can jump out of bed to meet with him and he always shows up without fail. My firstfruit time is so much richer. It is worth any and every sacrifice I've ever made. Truly.

day 3:
Noah obeyed God.
Noah was a righteous man.
God found favor with Noah.
Then God blessed Noah.
Enough said.

***I just wonder if Noah ever doubted any of this during those 150 days on that blasted ark.***

Artist of the Soul

day 1:
The divine artist spoke.
The Lord spoke and it was so.
All it took was a word and everything changed. What once was a deep, dark void became light and life and beauty.
Lord, do that in my heart. Speak into the voids, the deep, dark places where there is nothing. In the dark silences make light and life and beauty happen.

Then the whole tree thing...
"You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden--except the tree..."
Why? Why did Eve choose to eat from the tree in stead of The Tree? This drives me crazy! I like to think that if I were there I'd listened differently, done "better."

The truth is my life is much the same. God himself is calling me daily to sit at his feet as he claims the throne in my heart yet I choose so much less. Gazing at the pretty things that please my eyes instead of fill my soul is where you'll find me glancing most of the time. A clean house. A fit body. A lunch date. A nap. A movie. A phone call. A trip to the mall.
Lord, let me live like you've called me to live obeying you in love and devotion.
"He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds." Titus 3:14

Then the desires I have for my husband...
so basic, yet so true. Lord, help me to be a godly wife loving, supporting and following my husband's lead. Speak to him as he reads along on this journey. Change him with the power of your speak
and it is.

The truth is I'm just like Eve. The plan for redemption which began in the garden was completed when on one tree of Calvary Jesus, who is the life, hung.
"He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed."

Saturday, January 03, 2009

This is The Day!

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

Today is Grandmother's birthday. Some of my large and spread out family is having a party. This means lots of good food, lots of loud chattering, good guitar strumming and a heavy game or two of Skip Bo and Chickenfoot. Some might even toss a football around the yard. Good times.
Good times that have shaped me into who I am.
I wish I possessed super powers. Flying or time travel would be helpful right about now. But strep throat has me down and seven day trips over the week of Christmas has me a little less than eager to jump in the car for four hours, stay a couple and turn around and head back home.

I've said before that my Grandmother gave me more than she'll ever know. When I was a young girl needing stability, reassurance, acceptance and hope. Grandmother and her home offered it to me. Even though I know that taking care of a young girl was not in the retirement plans of a busy grandmother, she welcomed me. She never let me know if I ruined a bridge game or placed her at home when she'd rather been elsewhere. She taught me how to run a home, how to manage laundry and dinner. She set boundaries for me and played endlessly with me. Cards, swimming, counting pennies and reading books. Such wonderful memories during a painful time.

Thank you, Grandmother. Happy Birthday! We are celebrating you today by being a family. That's what you gave me, family.
Today I rise up and call you "blessed." You are truly praised among all women. I wish I was there to give back part of what you've given me.

I love you endlessly!!! XOXO

"For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." Psalm 100:5

Friday, January 02, 2009

Celebrate 2009!

***Update***As I was typing this, oh so seriously, my wonderful children, all four of them, were in Julia's room decorating and making a jillion Get Well cards for me. (I have strep throat.) They called me in, sat me on my "throne" and had Palmer throw the "confetti" cards over the top of my head as the older three held word signs up in the air saying, "I love you" and "Get well soon." So precious. So precious I started sobbing. I love my kids. Their cards are so sweet. One has hearts drawn on every visible space and says, "I love you sooooo... much!" One says, "I love you my sweet and pretty sunflower!" (I love sunflowers.) One is a picture of me holding one of my child's hands with labeling for sweet effect. Guess which child drew which card...***
I began 2009 by sneaking out of bed early, donning my new velour sweatsuit and heading to Starbucks to meet an old friend for a cuppa java. I arrived early so I could embark on my 2009 journey of reading the Bible chronologically.

Bev got me desiring to read chronologically instead of Genesis to Revelation. I ordered the NLT from Proverbs 31 and I got a message in my inbox from Wendy. (I ordered mine from P31. Lifeway has them on sale. You should be able to pick one up at your local Christian bookstore or I just did a search for one-year chronological Bible reading and found a schedule you can print out and join us.) So I will have tons of online company along the road. If you'd like to join, come on! It's not too late and don't worry about getting's always time to get in God's Word!

I will post once a week about insights, questions and ponderings I have gleaned in my readings. But look out, they may be a little disjointed. I usually ponder the things I write about for many weeks if not months before they appear here. I'm just an unusually deep and crazy thinker...

Back to the coffee...

I couldn't help but feeling like this was the perfect way to usher in the newness of 2009. Quietly. I was the only one at Starbucks until my friend arrived. Peacefully. Watching the darkness of night leave and the new morning dawn. Reflectively. Touching a deep place in a friendship that hasn't had the chance to go deep in many, many years. Thankfully. Reconnecting with someone who lives far away, works, mothers and lives a life much like mine. A life that sometimes takes every ounce of everything within us to stay connected to those under our own roof, those we see each day, those whose every need depends on us leaving virtually no time to go deeply with those we long to connect with all the time.

I am very blessed to have many "heart" friends. These are my girlfriends who I don't see much and I don't talk to often. They are the ones I send one word emails to containing the word, "Pray!" They are the ones I can text or leave messages for in my craziness and they don't need an explanation. They are simply "there" for me.

When I feel I've lost one of them, I grieve. The Lord is quite simply...restoring them to me, one by one. Okay, so it took us three hours to catch up, draw tears and retire to the car with the darkest tinted windows to pray so people didn't think we were experiencing a trauma with our uncontrollable tears and loud sobbing. When God does something amazing, He does it in a BIG way worthy of many tears (if you're a cryer) and worthy of many cheers (if you're a talker) and worthy of much praise. No matter who you are.

I started 2009 off celebrating God's restoration and redemption in an awesome way. I left Starbucks with life spoken to a dark and dead place deep in my heart. Feeling where there was previously numbness. Encouragement where tiredness had been prevailing. I received vision for 2009. Words spoken by a friend, a gift from my God that I was so desperate to hear.
Come. Celebrate 2009 with me!