Tuesday, May 20, 2014

He fills our life with good things....

I was one of those little girls who taught hundreds of "lessons" in math and science to her dolls in the playhouse.  I had a love for teaching and learning but more than anything else in the world I wanted to be a wife and mom one day when I was grew up.

"An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels."
Proverbs 31:10

I was finishing up my freshman year of college at the University of Arkansas when Warren and I found out our sweet, wild Tyler was in our future plans at this time of the year, 18 years ago.  Warren was graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in English.  We had been married for almost a year and we had spent the two years before marriage dreaming of what we wanted together in life.  We both agreed that it would be good and okay for me to stay home with the kids God would give us.  I also wanted some Holstein cows and a house with a front porch in the country.  We would dream of traveling and where we would live. 

"The plans of the heart belong to man,
But the answer of the tongue is from the Lord."
Proverbs 16:1

We made a decision to move south of  Fort Smith where Warren would take a full time position with 40/29 TV and I would stay at home with Tyler. I am sure there were some people who thought it  was a bad choice for me to "quit" school but I was never more confident about this decision.  Over the course of the next 3 years we would move to Denison, Texas for a television job and eventually surrender to full time ministry and moving to Waldron, Arkansas to serve.  God would add another set of pitter patter feet to our home as well.

"Behold, children are a gift of the Lord...."
Psalm 127:3a

During those years I would serve with all my being in the local church teaching and organizing the children's ministry.  Tyler, Ethan, and eventually Elise would spend hours with me painting Sunday School rooms, putting up bulletin boards, organizing puppets, decorating for VBS, and preparing weekly AWANA and children's church lessons.  Those were very sweet and precious days.

"Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it."
Proverbs 22:6

During those years I would occasionally substitute for a little extra income while my mom would babysit my kids or I would paint for friends in their home.  I did struggle inside my heart with only having one year of college under my belt.  There is something about me that loves education and always growing.  It was  during those days at home with the kids that I decided to go back to school online and get my associate's degree.  This was done when Elise was a toddler.

"Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;"
Isaiah 41:31a

During those years I would see my children's first footsteps, I would never worry about juggling days off to rock a sick baby, we would play in the sand, watch the Wiggles, I would sit for hours watching Tyler play trains at Learning Oasis, read books upon books (of course skipping a page or two to get through), and do all I could to make sure they were ready for kindergarten.  One car (a maroon Mitsibushi Galant) was what our family had in return for those years of only one income, but never would I trade the days of naps together (which I am still having withdraws from), songs we sung down the quiet,early morning aisles of Wal-Mart, rise and shine appearances at school, and shopping days with my mom.  I would never trade having three young children squished in a back seat and heading to the park to ride the "choo-choo" on a beautiful spring morning.  It was on those drives we would practice Cubbie and Sparkie verses, talk about Jesus, practice our ABC's and learn how to get along with each other.  Especially your siblings.

"...So are My ways higher than your ways..."
Isaiah 55:9b

But once the kids were all in school during the day, God gave me a new season of life.  A season where I would work outside the home.  It was good for the whole family.  It enlarged our ministry circles.  My first job was working with a coalition to coordinate a $600,000 grant.  I am forever grateful to the board and community members for allowing me to learn to be director of that coalition and grant.  Looking back I stand in awe of God's grace and goodness to let me learn so much, so fast.  Our whole family was blessed by the years I worked for that grant.

"God be gracious to us and bless us,
And cause His face to shine upon us-
That Thy way may be known on the earth,
Thy salvation among the nations."
Psalm 67:1-2

A move to El Dorado would mean a resignation from the coalition.  I went to El Dorado thinking I would just try the stay at home and go to a ladies Bible Study.  Some coffee and lunch dates with friends seemed fitting as well.  But the Lord had other plans and stirred a desire in my heart to seek a job.  God basically sat a job at a local elementary school in my lap.  Those 3 and half years were some of the best.  I was able to be with Elise at the elementary for all but half a year of that time .  I learned so much during those years.  It was also during those years that I decided to go back to school to become a teacher.  I worked during the day and attended school at night for 2 and half years.  At times it was tough, but God carried me through.  I mean really carried me through. 

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance."
Ecclesiastes 3:4

Interruption.  Yes, a move to Vilonia with one semester left of school.  But as always, He was faithful.  I was able to student teach at the school near our home.  I was placed with a teacher and class that made me feel so welcome in the community and in the classroom.  And finally I graduated!  G5 was so very happy!  We did it!  I guess that's one of my favorite things about my family, whatever we do in life, we celebrate as a family. 

"God is faithful..."
I Corithians 1:9

I pulled out my old Bible, the one that was stolen in St Louis and returned.  I had put it on the shelf in our new home because of its fragile condition.  I pulled it out yesterday and buried my head in it because I needed the peace that God had been faithful in the past and would continue to be even now.  I had interviewed for a job at a school I student taught at and fell in love with.  A place I felt I could teach the very best.  Now I would have to pray and wait.   I waited for the call that I would be a real teacher, in a real classroom.  It seemed like eternity!  Finally at 10:00 last night it came!  We all jumped up and down!  I even tackled Ethan!  What laughing, joy, and thankfulness in our hearts!

"He fills our years with good things...."
Psalm 103:5a

18 years ago, I didn't understand the seasons of life that would come.  I had no idea that God continuously changes our circumstances in order to bring glory to Himself through our lives.  .  And today I still don't understand it all. Seasons are beautiful and sometimes tough.   I love life, yet dread when death comes.  I love joy, but despise the mourning.  I love when the Lord gives, but heartbroken when He takes away.  But as I think over the seasons of G5's  life,  mine as "mom" in particular, I am able to see His work.  I realize that what I saw our life to look like when I was 18 years old, is not His design.  And what the world thought my life should look like, is not His design.  It's not that I missed His timing or did life wrong.  Instead I am reminded that I am not, nor anyone else,  a  "cookie cutter" design.  So humbled and thankful for the life He has given me through the seasons.  I am also glad my dreams are not His.  (I am not sure I could milk cows everyday!)   I am looking forward to this new season in 1st grade at VPS. I got the job!  I am blessed!

"And we know that God causes all things
to work together for good to those who love God,
to those who are called according to His purpose."
Romans 8:28

Monday, April 28, 2014

We are here. Hands, Feet, and Heart.

Moving to a new community is tough.  We have been in Vilonia for 4 months now.  It's been a new way to enter the community for us.  We have always been the new youth minister family and greeted by a church with warm and open arms.  Now we search for a church, friends, and our place in the community.  We are not introduced as our youth pastor's family or associated by a certain church.  Instead we usually spend 5 minutes trying to justify why we chose this little community east of Conway as our home. Warren commutes 45 minutes everyday.

God.  We truly believe He was the one who led us to this community.

We were blessed by sweet friends to help our children get acquainted with Vilonia children the first weekend we moved here.  Will never be able to thank God enough for these friends.  These students have made going to school easier.  They challenge my children in not only sports and education but also the Lord.  In fact, one of the students that my son was introduced to (and is now a good friend with) was saved 1 year ago .  At a DNOW Warren spoke at.  Warren had no idea that decision had been made until the boy shared with our son during a run at track practice. 

God's ways are higher and are so good.

God opened a door for me to student teach at Vilonia Primary School.  It's less than 3 minutes from my house.  I could not have chosen a better school or teacher to be with for this season of life.  The third graders in our class will make my last day, May 2, very tough.  They are very precious to me. 

God.  We truly believe He was the one who led us to this community.

A home.  Oh how we prayed.  How I prayed He would lead us to a home we could feel safe, comfortable, and minister to others in.  So many homes we looked at, considered offers, and finally led to where we sit right now. 

He is so good.  So very good.

Prayer.  I have prayed daily how God wants to use us in this community.  Where He wants us to serve Him at a local church.  I have prayed how I can most be used.  Ball Team?  School?  Small Group Study in my subdivision?

4 months later.

I am sitting in my comfortable home 2 miles from complete devastation. Overwhelmed by the fact homes that we considered purchasing now lay in ruins.  A feeling of helplessness.  I text with families who have lost everything.  Homes.  Cars. I am amazed at the miles photos are being found of people that I know.

  I look forward to digging in to whatever I can do to help those in the community tomorrow.  My prayer for these people is much deeper now.  We have hid in closets, laundry rooms, and shelters together.  We stand in unbelief of our community together.  Our hearts are totally broken for those who have lost their lives.  We are overwhelmed for those that have lost their home and businesses.  We are committed to helping the community rebuild.  We are eager to share Christ and His love when we are privileged with opportunities to be His hands, feet, and voice.

This is home now.  Vilonia, Arkansas.

The best way to help the people of Vilonia is financially, through gift cards, and other needs that have been listed  on trusted sites.  Arkansas Baptist State Convention has an online place to give.  They are actively involved in relief efforts in Vilonia right now. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Bucket trucks in life

This blog was written in El Dorado in early December 2013.  So thankful God has richly blessed us with “bucket trucks” in our life over the past couple of months.  He is faithful.                     –MG




It’s amazing how crazy busy life can get with one decision.  And then another.  And another.  And before long, life is slipping by and there’s no time to take notice.  No time to notice the things in life that take time to see.  Conversations, smiles, the writing on the wall.  No time to just sit and stare at beauty.  No time to stand in awe.

One of my favorite things about working at school is watching children have “aha” moments or be intrigued by the simplest of things. 

This past week I was facilitating an interim assessment at the school I work at.  One of the children in the class is a student I have worked many hours with in math and some in reading.  He really struggles with learning but is a hard worker.  He also wears braces on his legs.  This year he has not been wearing them like he should.

After we finished the test on Wednesday, three of the students had to go play outside with me because their regular class was still testing.  As we headed to the playground, this child caught sight of a piece of construction equipment.  He took off running (without his braces) as fast as he could to the fence so he could get a closer look.  His arms swung back and forth as hard as they could.

From a distance I could see him turn to look to see if the other two students and I were coming.  I stopped at the sidewalk and the other two students headed to the slide. 

His eyes were fixed on the bucket truck.  He turned to me and yelled, “It’s a bucket truck.”  I smiled at him.  I continued to watch him.  He would look back at the slide where the friends were.  And then would turn and stand in awe again of the bucket truck.  It seemed he stood there forever, just gazing at what he thought was divine.  Something that he loved.  Something he could relate to.  His father worked as a construction worker.

After a few minutes, he turned and ran to the slide.  He climbed up the ladder, went to the top, and said “Guys, it’s a bucket truck!”  The kids looked at the truck and then him.  They just kept playing.  He climbed down and ran back to the fence.  The man in the bucket truck waved at him.  The boy waved largely back to him.  He ran to me, “Mrs. Gasaway, he waved to me.”

I wonder if I am like the kids on the slide, if I ever see life as just “ordinary.”  Nothing catches my eyes and attention.  I am just too busy to even see.  Too busy to see what He wants me to see.  The miracles He does every day in my life.  The grace He bestows upon my family, the love He has for me.

I choose to see today. Through His eyes.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Wherever, Whenever, However.

Okay, so I am the one who wrote about the Arkansas Baptist State Convention (ABSC) in my Arkansas History class 2 years ago.  No joke.  This probably qualifies me as a church nerd.

At age 16,  by God's grace I was saved.  My parents had just divorced and I was in a new state and new school.  Mansfield High School.  A new friend shared Christ with me at school before track practice.  That same friend made sure I was at church for the next several months.  First Baptist, Mansfield, Arkansas.  It was there at FBC Mansfield that God used a group of friends and adults to disciple in me a girl who loved the Lord and loved being a Southern Baptist.  At that church I learned how to be a godly wife, teach my children about Jesus, and love sharing His Word through teaching and evangelism (not that I have ever been proficient at any of these!).  Hospitality, love for His Word, and community in a group of believers was cultivated in me that church.  I can remember KNOWING and telling my mom I wanted to be in ministry when I grow up (I am sure she thought I was nuts!).   No clue that my main man at the time would become my husband and God would choose us to serve him through full-time ministry together.  Totally overwhelmed by His grace. 
FBC Mansfield, AR youth group
Mission Trip to Dauphin Island, AL

God would take Warren, Tyler, and me to Denison, Texas for a season of our life to call us to go wherever, whenever, and however.  I wish I had a picture, but I know God chose to engrave it on my mind forever.  Our little Tyler was 20 months old and his tiny little knees knelt  down on that hideous pink carpet in our apartment with Warren and me and we made that commitment with God as a family.  Wherever.  Whenever.  However.  God used a Texas Southern Baptist Church and its people to help us see His plan.  Parkside Baptist Church.  We were there for only a year and a half but God used this time to reveal His call on our life.  God's grace.
Tyler and me at VBS at Parkside Baptist Church

11 1/2 years is what He gave us at Waldron.  Definitely one of the toughest things we have ever done.  Leaving local ministry with family.  God used our time in Waldron, AR to cultivate, mature, grow, disciple, encourage, love, forgive, and be comforted.  First Baptist Church Waldron mourned the death of our parents with us, celebrated the birth of 2 of our children with us, rejoiced in the salvation of 2 of our children with us.  Waldron is where our children call home.  We poured every fiber of our being into the student and children's ministry there.  We stacked chairs, moved tables, unlocked doors, started ministries, traveled miles, and had the privilege to love on an Arkansas Southern Baptist Church with all of our hearts.  Our home there was filled with ones we consider spiritual children.  God's grace.
FBC Waldron students, 2010

This past Wednesday, I was on my way to Hampton to the place where I am doing my field experience for school this semester.  The Ouachita River was absolutely stunning.  I just wanted to stop on the bridge and stare.  The sun was rising in the distance, the trees were beginning to show signs of color, and the water had a little "steam" rising from it.  Gorgeous. (Even though the trees are too tall to see sunsets, South Arkansas is still pretty.)  Just before this, Warren and I  sat in PJ's coffee shop on the square in El Dorado and enjoyed this community we have called home for 3 1/2 years.  We love our walks at Mystic Creek, Sunday lunches with friends at Poppy's Pizza, and sitting on the porch of Laredo Grill.  Murphy money for Benchmark scores has always been great to get too!  Our children have some of the best friends anyone could ever have here.  One of the many great things about following Christ is the heart bond we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

Our time in El Dorado serving at an Arkansas Southern Baptist Church has been sweet.  We have seen students, parents, and our own daughter saved and baptized here.  We have been blessed to see students grow, serve, and be passionate about Jesus. We have traveled miles with students and watched families want to be in church together.  Immanuel Baptist Church has a heart for others.  Inside the walls you find that there is very selfless people.  People who took care of us so we could make memories, people who have never hesitated to give for students to be provided for, people who will fill shoe boxes, and people who don't mind going wherever needed to love people. 

We have also experienced community in El Dorado.  We have had the privilege to share the love of Christ on the baseball field, in social organizations, school system, and sports stadiums and arenas.  We have never been anywhere where God has opened doors like these before. 
IBC ski 2012, Durango

And now He sends us to love the Arkansas Southern Baptist Church from a totally different position than we have ever been in.  A place of a missionary.  We will get to love on and encourage Southern Baptist Churches all through the state of Arkansas.  We will soon begin our journey together as a family in Little Rock.  Warren will be a strategist on the Evangelism and Church Growth Team at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.  (www.absc.org)  I have never felt more like Sarah, Abraham's wife, than I do now.  We have no idea where we will live, but HE does! As we look in the land we are heading, only giants we see.  God knows this very well and is leading us safely in.  God's grace. 
"At this also my heart trembles,
And leaps from its place.
God thunders with His voice wondrously,
Doing great things which we cannot comprehend.
Listen to this, O Melissa, (my addition, it really says Job :))
Stand and consider the wonders of God."
Job 37:1,5,14
"Now you shall see what I will do..."
Exodus 6:1a

Whenever, Wherever.  However.  We will go.

"Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to the cross I cling...
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide my self in Thee."
-Augustus M. Toplady, 1776
Generations of student ministry.
From our very first student in 1999 to our present day student in 2013.
Totally Blessed.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Filling My Toolbox

Here is the scene.  Brown chair and ottoman in the sunroom.  A laptop computer.  A bag of fall Reese's miniature candies in cute fall colored foil .  A 3-page single spaced paper due soon.  Real soon.  That's my world this evening.  In the background I hear Elise jamming out to some music.  I stop and dance with her on the way to the printer.  Grab my papers.  Dance with her across the living room and back to my chair I go.  I have been at this for 5 semesters now. 

Filling my toolbox.

"The Lord is my strength and song,..."
Exodus 15:2a

A couple of years ago at a Beth Moore Living Proof Live in Little Rock, AR, Beth's message on "What it takes to fulfill our ministry" confirmed so much of what God was doing in my life.
Beth Moore, Little Rock, 2011

Beth posed the question:

What would it take to be excellent
at what God has called me to do?

  Don't you just love when God does that?  It's like He is talking to you solely.  Her second point is what hit home for me: ACQUIRE the Appropriate Tools.  I had talked to Warren already about my thoughts to go back to school.  It wasn't just to have a degree, add stress to my life, or make money.  It was to have the "tools" necessary to go and do and be wherever God led.  If He wanted to take us to the deepest parts of India or the bush of Africa, I had "tools" that He could use.  If He wanted to send us as church planters one day, I had a "tool" He could use to reach families.  If He wanted to place me in a school to love children and their families (which I absolutely love and have for so many years!) , I was able.  I had the "tools."  And trust me, this "tool" has been costly and a sacrifice to obtain with a full time job and family.  The bags under my eyes don't lie.  But I will be honest, even now, in the thick of 18 hours of school work and working full time, I never cease to be amazed at how God brings me through day to day and week after week.  Alive.  Well.  Succeeding.  Blessing me with opportunities to talk about Jesus.

"My hope is in Thee."
Psalms 39:7b

He is always adding "tools" to my toolbox.  Just this past week I picked up passport papers for my family.  We have no plans.  No open doors.  A great interest.  But if He does open a door to an overseas mission trip opportunity, I want to be ready.

"And He said to them,
"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation."
Mark 16:15

I want to "live" in front of my children the message we surrendered to the Lord as a family almost 15 years ago.  Whenever and whatever God.  We are our yours. 

"Know therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments."
Deuteronomy 7:9

So, I continue packing my toolbox with Bible Studies that challenge me daily to share Christ.  They press me to pray without ceasing and know the great I Am.  I will learn to love Hebrew and Greek words and how to keep idols out of my life.  I will pass up really cute hair when necessary,  in order to sit before His throne in that brown chair every morning.

"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching,
for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
that the man of God may be adequate,
equipped for every good work."
2 Timothy 3:16-17

I want my toolbox packed with whatever tool He leads me to, so His ways can be made known.  Until that day.
"I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the course,
I have kept the faith;"
2 Timothy 4:7

*By the way, I left 4 of the candies in the bag.  I didn't want Warren to think I ate the whole bag :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Stray Dogs and Toilet Paper

I love non-fiction books.  I love biographies.  When I was Ethan's age, Elvis and Me by Priscilla Presley was my favorite book. I also love encouragement books, how-to books, and devotional books of all kinds.  This summer I have read many books and hope to share some of those good book finds with you later this week.  But I am so very excited to share with you one of the best books I read this summer.  This book first came to my attention when a friend retweeted  a quote by this author on Twitter.  I became interested in finding out more about Ann Voskamp.  As I dug into some information about her, I found out she had a gorgeous book called one thousand gifts.

With school and school this past semester, I had no time to dig into it once I had purchased it from Lifeway.  But the book stayed on my mind.  I would read the book cover, inside cover, and even scan it every once in awhile.  I was really excited to dig in.  Did I mention the cover is super cute?

All during the month of May, I thought about what this book held inside it.  I knew it had to do with thankfulness.   I began to think about the gifts God gives our family.  Things we rarely appreciate anymore because we don't take the time to notice or even realize they are a gift.  That's when I got the bright idea.

The day we arrived back from our Texas trip to visit my dad, we started our 20 day project.  Every day that we were at home, for 20 days, I placed 10- 1x2 inch strips of paper on the counter for each family member.  When they climbed out of bed, their "thankful" papers would be waiting for them on the counter. They would then crumble them up and drop them in the jar sitting on the shelf in the kitchen.  At the beginning, I won't even lie, Ethan and Tyler were not so sure about this little project of mine.  Ethan was not too keen about having to think of 20 things he was thankful for and having to write them on the paper.  For at least the first 5 days it was the same dad, mom, sis, bro, dog, water, toilet paper, .........for Ethan. Tyler's tended to be a little one track minded at the beginning too.  Running and sports seemed to be his choice for "thankfuls."  Even Dick Vitale showed up on one of his "thankfuls."   Elise was a little more into it.  She was very descriptive with her "thankfuls."  I even noticed some texting lingo coming out in hers!

At the same time we started the "thankful" papers, I began the journey of reading the book with the cute cover that had stirred this idea in me.  This book was a little difficult to read.  I wasn't sure I was going to make it past the poetic and large vocabulary writing.  But as I kept reading, the more I was drawn in.  The words began to jump off the pages at me.  I could only handle the thoughts of one chapter a day.  The word Euchariesto grabbed my heart.  Thankfulness.  Throughout scripture we find the importance of thankfulness.  The gospels are full of  gratitude.  Paul learned the importance of thankfulness.  Thankfulness.

"And give thanks for everything
to God the Father
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 5:20
"One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back,
praising God in a loud voice.
He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked Him-
and he was a Samaritan."
Luke 17:15-16
"magnify Him with thanksgiving."
Psalm 69:30
"My soul doth magnify the Lord."
Luke 1:46
"(Daniel) prayed three times a day, just as he had always done, giving thanks to his God."
Daniel 6:10
First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him."
I Timothy 2:1
Oh, how thankfulness changes our perspective.
  About halfway into writing 10 "thankfuls" a day and dropping them in the jar, I had an idea.
After the 20 days were up, I made a trip to Hobby Lobby for a very large frame.  I cut a taupe colored mat the size of the frame.  I attached a sheet of paper with a verse, quote, and date to the center of the mat.  I also printed a picture of our jar, filled to the brim with thankfulness.
At first, I was convinced I could get all 1000 thankfuls on the mat.  My family did not agree.  I worked morning and evening for 2 days straight trimming, pasting, and putting together what I envisioned to be a really neat project.
As I unwrapped each of the "thankfuls" that had been stuffed in the jar, my heart would melt.  I had no clue how special this project  would be.  I had not imagined how beautifully the heart of my family would be poured out on these small pieces of paper.  No clue what  treasure laid in that jar.

My family was right.  All 1000 gifts would not fit on my mat.  I had to cover every inch of the mat and even spill over to an 8x10 frame.  I cannot even explain to you how moving these frames are.  Thankful. 
One act of thanksgiving,
when things go wrong with us,
is worth a thousand thanks when things
are agreeable to our inclinations.
~Saint John of Avila

Last night I hung the large frame and small frame.  It's hung in a place that we pass as we are hurrying out the door everyday.  I pray that these frames will stop us at times and remind us to be thankful.  For everything.  For every circumstance.  In little and in much.  In times of contentment and in times of change. 
Thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life.
~Ann Voskamp
Thankfulness helps us to believe, to forgive, to see, to heal, to fill, to be joyful, to make life full and large.
1.Rascal (the stray dog at our house for 2 days)
2.toilet paper
4.memories and dreams
5.When Tyler plays with his brother and sister
6.dying on the cross
7.calendars to schedule things
8.places we can call home and family
9.laughter of our children
12.a smokin' hot wife
13.light switches to turn the lights off and on
14.ability to forgive
15.hand sanitizer
17.Thanksgiving on the mountain
18.white swing
80.serving the Lord as a family
212.Arkansas Razorbacks
323.Hooten's magazine
433.wasp spray
567.my mom's opinion in different occasions
639.hair detangler spray
744. fires in the fireplace in winter
888.years I had with my mom
902.family dinners.
998.another day to wake up
1000.summer Bible studies with my man
"Give thanks to the Lord of lords.
His faithful loves endures forever.
Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights-
His faithful love endures forever."
Psalm 136:3-7

Friday, July 19, 2013

liberty and freedom

It was three years ago this past April that I woke up with a very heavy heart. I knew exactly what needed to be done. I walked into the living room where Warren was drinking his coffee and rather than saying 'Good Morning,' I proclaimed 'today is the day.'  I had tossed and turned all night and knew it was time.

"I will instruct you and teach you in the way
which you should go;
I will counsel you with My eye upon you."
Psalm 32:8
A relationship in our lives was broken. Severed. Disunited. The events surrounding the broken relationship was confusing and really there was nothing at the heart of it. Just some feelings hurt. But it was a broken relationship. My husband, kids , and own heart were heavy everyday because of this broken relationship.  I am sure it was even affecting ministry and the church.
It was on that morning 3 years ago that I had my Esther moment. Not the beauty part. Not the Queenie part. The Courageous part. My people needed me. The 4 people in my house needed me to be courageous. I had to put aside my fear and pride because something way more important was at stake. 
"The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the defense of my life;
Whom shall I dread?"
Psalm 27:1
That day I searched the scriptures like I never had before. This broken relationship had produced silence for almost 4 years now. The broken relationship caused so much to be missed out on for both parties involved. My three kids were missing the memories.  Warren and I were finding ourselves making excuses, making intentional opportunities to avoid this relationship, and become somewhat numb to the fact this relationship needed repair.   But I was SO SCARED! In fact, scared may have been an understatement. Terrified. Terrified of their reaction to me, scared of the humbling I may have to take, and nervous about the road from here.  I have to admit, I was a  little prideful as well. But God quickly reminded me who I was in HIM and what our family had been called to.
"...To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives,
And freedom to prisoners..."
Isaiah 61:1
How can we do that when we are prisoners to a very binding broken relationship?
How can we tell others how to be set free and find liberty in Christ when we have chains of a hurtful relationship always on our minds?
"Now all these things are from God,
who reconciled us to Himself through Christ,
and gave us the ministry of reconciliation..."
 2 Corithians 5:18
There was only one thing to do. Call. Make that call. I couldn't completely serve, love, and honor the Lord with this broken relationship in our lives.
"If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar,
and there remember that your brother has something against you,
leave your offering there before the altar,
and go your way;
first be reconciled to your brother,
and then come and present your offering."
Matthew 5:23-24
So I made the call and the rest is history. Praise the Lord history. Thanks upon thanks history. God is sooo good history. Humbled like never before history.  I mean it was very humbling. 
Why was this so important for me to do? Jesus. Simply Jesus.  Jesus.  His kingdom.  Sharing HIS good news. Salvation. Healing.  Oh, the healing.
But it was also important for generational changes. Doing things different. Our children. Being a family who is on mission together.
"Know therefore that the Lord your God,
He is God,
the faithful God,
who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness
to a thousandth generation with
those who love Him and keep His commandments;"
Deuteronomy 7:9
So a stone was laid that day 3 years ago on April 28,2010. The stone of God's faithfulness. I don't want to forget what His faithfulness and goodness is. I don't want Tyler, Ethan, or Elise to forget what it is. The stone is also a reminder to forgive, be forgiven, be humble, without bitterness, love, serve, and do whatever you can to be reconciled with others. That's what ministry is all about.
"Let this be a sign among you,
so that when your children ask later;
'What do these stones mean to you?'
then you shall say to them,..."
Joshua 4:6-7a