Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Favored One

Today is totally unplanned.  A very hard day to say the least.  I think I am having a harder time being patient and making wise decisions.  I got a call this morning that my dad has been admitted to the hospital, put in ICU, and now being transferred via ambulance to the Oklahoma Heart Hospital in OKC.  Warren and I are trying to make decisions and get things in order here in El Dorado to possibly head that way in the next hour or so.

I don't like this one bit.

Me and my dad back in the day

As I am waiting to hear what the doctors in OKC say, all I can think about is Warren's email he sent to the parents of students in the youth ministry a few weeks ago:

(From Warren's email)
Thru the Christmas season I’m doing some devotionals from the “YouVersion” Bible app on my iPhone. Today’s devo brought up the angel Gabriel calling Mary “favored.” I wonder if a physical representative from the realms of glory showed up in my room and told me that I was favored by God how I would react. The initial thoughts probably would be that my life had just turned comfortable, that everything was worked out, smooth-sailing. “Favored by God” would surely mean that He’s going to mow down my enemies, provide riches, and release all the stresses of life. But that is NOT what it meant for Mary. Very soon after she heard those words, her betrothed, Joseph, would consider divorce. Her community would ridicule and scorn. She would soon take a journey to Bethlehem that was dangerous. She would very much be concerned about the provisions for her family. She would be giving birth to whom she thought was the Savior of the world … in a stable. Physical worries, financial worries, relationship worries … none of that sounds like “favor.”
A lot of Christianity today focuses on the “favor” of God making it sound like a life of ease and comfort. However, in reality, following God does not mean a life that is trouble free and one where all your dreams come true. The mother of Jesus alone teaches us that. “Favor” means, very simply, that God is willing to use you, willing to speak through you, willing to work through you, willing to show Himself strong in you. And often, that happens most in difficult and trying situations. God’s favor meant that God had invaded Mary’s life. He was no longer a concept, an idea, a thought. He was no longer a story. He was no longer Someone high above and distant. He WAS near… active … personal … acting … guiding.
Deeper into the holiday season, my prayer is that we sense God’s favor on our lives, not a life where “all our dreams come true,” but a life fulfilled knowing that God is working on us, in us, and through us. “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:30

What comforting words today.  Lord, I need Your favor.

I will keep you posted on my dad~ MG

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Baby Jesus costs too much!

Tomorrow I am heading to Little Rock with some gals from school for a couple of days at a Reading Conference.  I am so excited about the conference and the things I will (hopefully!) learn. 
While we are in Little Rock, I am pretty sure we will do some shopping and eating!  I personally don't have a whole lot of shopping to do.  Over the past month I have done an excellent job (for me!) at ordering some Christmas gifts for the kids.  In fact, I have all of Elise's Christmas shopping finished!  I have been detouring Elise from seeing the UPS, FedEx, and USPS deliverers and have hid the gifts well (or at least I hope so!). 

SHHHH....Don't tell Elise the hiding spot!

The Christmas season is beginning!  Downtown El Dorado businesses have began their open houses.  The stores are beautiful!  The City is doing their Lighting Ceremony on Thursday.  People are putting up their trees!  Oh my!  Didn't we just take all that stuff down???

I tried my hardest this past week to get in the "spirit".  I thought that a visit to Seasons or Wreaths and More would motivate me to put up the Christmas tree.  I even purchased some wrapping paper and a few decorations while I was there.  But it is just not happening.  The pumpkins are still working just fine for me.

My Christmas "motivation" pile!

When I was shopping last week and having such a hard time at getting "antsy" about decorating for Christmas, I remembered the story about Ethan.  Our Ethan has always been a interesting kid.  The things he says is so random.  The way he does things is can't even describe it.  He has always been like that.  Very obedient for the most part. (He has caught the teenage attitude bug lately, urghh!) 
Ethan and Tyler at the Razorback basketball game

A couple of years ago Ethan was really into playing Farmtown on Warren's Facebook account.  He was very committed to making sure he harvested those crops.  He would plant corn, rice, pineapple trees, and Christmas trees all together on a 5 x 5 piece of "land."  I would periodically check on it to make sure he was doing what he was supposed to.  On this particular day, Ethan and I were sitting on the couch.  He was real excited about his plot of land.  He showed me all the newest things he had a bought.  He had some new palm trees, a pond with a yacht in it, and even some camels.  As he moved around on his land something caught my eye.  It was a nativity.  Wise men, Mary, Joseph, Angels, animals, and a stable.  But something was missing.  Jesus.  I looked at Ethan confused and said, "Where's Jesus?"  Innocently he replied back to me, "He cost too much."

"And this will be a sign for you;
you will find a baby wrapped in cloths,
and lying in a manger."
Luke 2:12

Every year at Christmas I remember this conversation I had with Ethan.  I remember the shock I was in when I saw his nativity.  He had everything else about Christmas perfectly placed.  Bought. Wrapped.  Hung.  But no Jesus.  He had the story in mind.  The important story there.  Good intentions.  He wanted Jesus, there just wasn't anything left.  So Jesus had to be left behind.

The Christmas season is here and I don't want to miss HIM.  I don't want to have good intentions and no Jesus.  I don't want to have everything else perfectly in place and realize I  have no more money or time for Jesus.  I need to choose wisely how I will "spend" this Christmas season.

"For a child will be born to us,
A son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6

I will soon need to put that tree up.  We love it so! We love all the fun that goes with it!  The music, the HOHOHO, the candy, the gifts, the excitement like a child.  It is the most wonderful time of the year!
Elise, Uncle Wade, Ethan, Santa (Warren), Tyler, and Poppa Gene.  Christmas 2004

 But I cannot let beautiful tinsel or gorgeous red ornaments get me in the "spirit."  Instead I need the ONE who makes all things beautiful and shed His blood for me.  I need Him to fill my heart with His Spirit. That is what Christmas is all about.  I don't want to miss HIM!    I don't want to be shocked that I missed Him in 37 days when I am taking that tree down. 

"Do not be afraid;
for behold,
I bring you good news of a great joy
which shall for be for all people..."
Luke 2:10
"...a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11b
Put on your shopping shoes, check that list twice , grab that big handbag, make memories, and be sure to stop for  a Starbucks along the way. (I suggest a caramel brulee)  Just be sure you don't pass Jesus by as you go.   Happy Black Friday Shopping!

Elise, Warren, Ethan, Poppa Gene, and Tyler.  One of the very last time Poppa Gene played his fiddle.  Christmas 2004

Monday, October 22, 2012

The power of days

On Saturday Warren, Elise and I went to Ethan's last 7th grade football game.  The 7th grade Wildkittens A and B teams went undefeated this season!  What a fun time they had.  What makes it even more fun is how much they like each other.  Best friends. I love to watch these guys together!

"A friend loves at all times,
And a brother is born for adversity."
Proverbs 17:17

After the game we stopped off at Michael's to pick up a few things I needed for school this week.  I haven't been to Michael's in a long while.  It was a Texas Michael's to boot (We were in Texarkana).   I was like a kid in a candy store in Michael's.  I liked everything!  Elise and I were flying through the aisles as Ethan and Warren waited for us in the vehicle.

Growing up in Texas means that I did homecoming Texas style until I was 16  (I moved to Arkansas when my parents divorced).  This consisted of a larger than life homecoming mum.  It jingled and jangled and blinged and tore your shirt down all night long!  But oh the joy of having one!  Even better was having a mom that could make them!  This meant weekly,  and at times daily,  trips to Michael's (and Garden Ridge Pottery).  When I saw those many aisles full of homecoming mum making supplies, I became giddy.  I wanted to grab one (or two!) of each just because it reminded me of my mom.

My oldest son was running a cross country meet in Lake Hamilton on Saturday.  He was getting to run with friends from Waldron (where we lived previously for 11 1/2 years).  Only this time he was running against them!  Last week Tyler posted on Instagram  a post that said:

So much wisdom is in that phrase. 

Time is powerful.... Our days do so much for us.  It's what God uses to put us back together. To heal us.  To make us whole. 

"...I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him..."
Isaiah 57:18

Wal-Mart put out their pumpkins AND santas last month.  These two seasons remind me of my mom so much.  She was a Halloween baby.  Born on October 31.  And more than anything she loved Christmas.  She loved Christmas gifts, icicles on the tree, and making Christmas candy so very much.

It was 8 years ago.  I had no idea that this picture would be the last Christmas to spend together.

"...And in Thy book they were all written,
The days that were ordained for me,..."
Psalms 139:16
Our dear friend in Christ, Neil Cherry would knock on our door in the middle of the night to ease us into the news that my momma had passed away.

 My heart ached.  Broken. 

"If  I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
and the light around me will be night,'
Even the darkness is not dark to Thee."
Psalms 139:11-12a

It was a month after we buried her that Dr. Larry Brown called  and checked on me one afternoon.  It was my 28th birthday.  All I could do was listen.  It still hurt so bad.  He said one of the few things that day that I remember from that time and still minister with.  Time will heal the pain.  The memories will become sweet.  God will carry you through this time.

"Be gracious to me, Lord, for I am weak;
heal me, Lord, for my bones are shaking."  Psalm 6:2

Beauty from ashes.

"To grant those who mourn in Zion;
giving them a crown of beauty instead of ashes."
Isaiah 61:3

My security blanket was lost that day on November 19, 2004.  The one I called when my heart was lonely.  The one I called when I felt joy.  The one who would shop til you drop with me.

The one I worried about.  The one I wanted to take financial burdens from.  The one's broken heart I wanted to heal.

The one who could make Garth Brooks seem in the room, the one who spoiled my babies rotten, the one who forgave easily.

8 year later, I miss her.  There are times I just want to pick up the phone and dial her number.  There are times I wonder what her Facebook page would look like (she would have loved it).  I would love to shop one more time for a homecoming mum.

But God healed my heart.  He took my pain and mourning and turned it into joy.  I can sing because of His faithfulness to fill the holes in my heart.

"I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever;
To all generations I will make known Thy faithfulness with my mouth." Psalm 89:1
His word says He makes beauty from ashes.  He makes all things new.  Behold He is doing new things.

The Lord has so much compassion on us.  He provides just what we need to make us well.  Just when we think we can no longer breath from the hurt, He holds us and we breath again. 

We just have to choose to let Him heal us. 
And then tell the story.
 I was wounded, broken, empty.  He picked me up, filled me, and made me walk again.

We all need a beautiful day.  Sometimes it just takes time.  But it comes. 
Trust His heart when you can't trace His hand.

Today I stand in awe of His mighty ways.  Thankful for the promise of heaven. 
Makes me a little homesick.

"...for I go and prepare a place for you.....
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life......"
John 14:2b, 6a

Monday, September 24, 2012

My man

I am a blessed girl.  When I think about the road to the pit I was headed on 20 years ago, I cringe.  (Did I just say 20?  EEK!)  In one of my first blogs (Run and Never Stop) I talked about my story of Christ rescuing me from that pit I was headed to.  In my blog, A Call in Texas, I shared about how God called us into ministry.  Those are the two foundations in my life.  The rocks.  The reasons.  The rescue.

"For who is God, besides the Lord? 
 And who is a rock, besides our God?"  2 Samuel 22:32

But right in the middle of those two life changing times, God brought me my man.  Warren G. 

It was at this time of year 19 years ago that I was beginning my junior year of high school and he was about to leave for his sophomore year of college at the University of Arkansas. I had only been in Arkansas for about 8 months.  My parents had divorced and my mom moved us to Arkansas from Texas to be closer to her family.

Warren in Razorback band at UofA
Me playing in band at halftime and cheering the rest for MHS

 My younger brother, Kyle was at the FBC Mansfield, AR basketball court playing ball with some guys.  I was on my daily jog around town when I stopped to relay a message to Kyle from my mom.  That's where I started talking with Warren.  I had seen Warren around that summer at church and with some friends.  But it was that day that we spoke to each other.  After a good while of standing around talking, Warren asked Kyle and me if we wanted a ride home.  Probably not a great idea getting in the car with a semi-stranger, but we did.

Little did I know, this was the man God had for me, for life.  The one I would marry 2 years later, drive crazy for the next 19 years, devise plans for disciplining our children with, physically walk many miles with, dream with, travel with, minister beside, laugh with, dance in the kitchen with, hide behind when I felt weak, cry with, gain strength from, and in the depths of my soul, dread the day I would ever be left on this earth without.

That's my Warren.

"I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine,..."
Song of Soloman 6:3
This past week a precious family from our hometown lost their husband, dad, and grandfather.  A man still young and so very kind.  Gary would stand outside the doors of Upward with Pam for many years at FBC Mansfield and greet those that entered.  Their daughter was Tyler's first grade teacher.  Such a godly family.

Pam posted on her Facebook later in the day after his death.  "Made it home. Long drive."
After I read this post I walked into the living room, wanting to tell Warren what she had said.  I also just wanted to tell him how my heart ached for them. 

I told him what the post said and I lost it.  Nothing else could come out of my mouth.  My eyes were filling with tears.  I turned around and walked out, my eyes flooded.    My heart was broken for Pam.  I saw my man sitting there in the chair and could not imagine life without him.  This is who I do life with.  I couldn't even imagine her pain.

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
 I fear no evil; for Thou art with me;"
Psalm 23:4
This Friday (28th)  is Warren's birthday.  Elise and I love throwing a party.  Streamers, balloons, cupcakes.  So much so,  that when she was little, we would throw parties for her baby dolls.  The boys would ALWAYS roll their eyes.  I am sure now they wouldn't even participate.

We always ask Warren what he wants for his birthday.  His answer is always the same year to year.  Peace.  He wants peace.  On my birthday I want a piece of cake.  But no, all he wants is peace.  Peace?

So I began dwelling on what to REALLY get him this year. Peace just didn't seem like a gift.  I wanted something I could wrap up and put a bow on top.  Or better yet, throw in a bag with cute tissue paper. 

 It was during this time of planning that Gary passed away and I couldn't shake what Pam must be feeling.  Couldn't even begin to know.  As I was praying for the family, that gift request of Warren's  came to my mind.  Peace.  So that's what I prayed for the family.

Peace.  God's Peace.  Peace that surpasses all understanding.  Peace He leaves with us.  Peace in the midst of storms.  Peace in the land.  Peace in our lives.  Peace made in families.  Peace like a river.  Peace given by the Prince of Peace.  Peace with God.  Peace, Patience.., Peace through His blood.


He came to give us peace, to place peace in our homes, bind us together in peace, to be peace to us, give us peace of mind, multiply peace in our lives when we need it the most. 


Peace to seek, peace that guards our hearts, peace when we are far or near, Peace in a dark world, peace that is open to us, Peace and joy, perfect peace.


As Elise and I plot out the final touches to his birthday week, we want to give Warren the best gift ever.  Maybe Razorback tickets?  A new razor?  A shirt?   IPhone 5?  Oh, he would love a truck!  Old or new!

But one thing is for sure, we could never give a better gift than God has already given His children.


It is a gift that never ends.  Never gets old.  Never wears out.  Never misses a pass.  Never fades.  Never gets dents.  Never changes. 

It is a gift that gets us through life. It's what we will need to walk through this life.  It makes the joys complete and the hurts heal.  It's what binds families and faith. 


"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you..." John 14:27
Happy Birthday to my favorite person on this earth. 
Overwhelmed that God would choose you to be my man!

Monday, September 17, 2012

What? Science Expectations in Deuteronomy?

Things are crazy around the G5 plot of land as usual.  (And I am pretty sure that will never change!)

Sometimes I try to figure out my identity.  Am I bus route driver or mom?  A student?  Or a volunteer? Maybe an employee?  Maybe a wife?  Cheerleader? Encourager?  Maid, chef, shopper, communicator?  Decorator?  Detailer, or maybe a secretary?  Am a personal tutor, bug exterminator, lawn service, and dog trainer?  Driver education instructor, nurse, and trash lady?  or, I know!  A beautician, stylist, and personal trainer.

Do you ever feel like that?  Simply filled with so many titles that at the end of the day you wonder if you really missed IT?  Maybe you have missed your real identity.  Christ follower.  Child of the King.  The redeemed.  Sinner saved by grace.  His.  Able to do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

There are times that I drop off my children at school and think to myself, Do they know who I am? 
If today was my last day on earth, would they know my heart's deepest desire?
 How would they describe me? 
Who do they think I am? 

What do they think our family's journey of life is all about?

So I asked Ethan.  I knew better to ask Ethan, but I did.

Me: "Ethan, what is my greatest desire?"
Ethan: " Your desire is to drink 20 diet cokes a day."

There you have it. 

What will they answer Monday when the rat race starts up again?  When we are trying to get out the door with lunch pails, homework, piano books, and our sanity?

Or after school as the bus route service Warren and I provide to them via our minivan and suburban passes through?  Picking up one, dropping another off, all evening long?

God has opened the door for me to teach science in third grade this semester at Hugh Goodwin.  (see my previous blog for more insight into this matter) I am having a great time.  I am getting to apply things I am learning in my education classes (at SAU) every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday in science.  I have purchased a lab coat and goggles to enhance the experience for the kids when my cart rolls into their classroom.  On my cart is LabQuests, ready to be used for learning.  I decided it would be a good thing for the students to be aware of the expectations I have for them.  So a set of Science Expectations were developed and posted on my cart.

As I was going  over these expectations, God spoke.  Somehow God uses the everyday little things in life to change, remind, and show Himself to me.   And science expectations was no exception.

The expectations I have for the children in science is no different than what He has laid out for His children in life.  Expectations for family.  What my main role in life is.

Science Expectations
Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 18

1.  Be ready to learn!
(Anytime the Lord speaks, it should be time for us to learn!)
2. Listen to all instructions!
4 Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!   

3. Follow all  instructions!
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
 6 These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
4. Complete all parts of the lab!
(sometimes my family seems like a lab!)
7 You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
5. Have fun learning!
....that it may be well with you..." (6:18)
Just as I am giving the students in my science class expectations to protect them and keep them from failing at the lab, so God does the same with this passage in Deuteronomy.  He wants to protect our families and give us all we need to be "well with us."  We have to be ready to hear Him, Listen to what He says, Follow Him, Obey Him, and Delight in His goodness.  He wants that for your family and mine.
So, I choose to love the life (as crazy as it may be!) God has given me and not for a moment miss the purrpose of this life's journey in my family.  Making the most of the opportunities to teach, talk, walk, and write the Words of Life on the hearts of my children. 
This is who I am called to be in life, all that other stuff is just an added bonus.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

A life unplanned.....

I am a planner/organizer to the core.  The calendar/planner aisle at Wal-Mart makes me happy.  I am also as proud as a peacock to say that I am raising a daughter who is a planner.  We are the type that wakes up with a plan everyday.  Now whether or not we accomplish it is a totally different  story.  Elise and I dream big when it comes to plans.  One of the most exciting things that has happened to us was the invention of Cozi.  Cozi is a family organizing app that has revolutionized our family schedules.  If I have said it once, I have said it a million times to my family, "It's on Cozi." (in response to them asking the plans for the day)  I love Cozi and I organize G5's life on it.  If it's happening, it's on there!

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

But at this season of my life, planning has been a little tough to conquer. (urghh!) From little things, to large things, God has allowed unplanned things in our life to teach us much about Him and and to do His work well. 

 "I know, O Lord, that a man's way is not in himself;
Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps."
Jeremiah 10:23

Like today.

I sit in my brown chair this morning, embracing the sound of rain falling outside, thanks to 'Isaac'.  Our sunroom is a glorious place to be (except when it is over 100 degrees or under 40 degrees outside!!!),  especially days like today.  It's very peaceful today.  I was just reflecting back on how unplanned it was for me to be sitting here at 10:00 in the morning.  A weekday morning.  I am usually working during the school year, but due to school budget cuts, I am not this semester.  (and boy do I miss those kiddos at school!!!)  Unplanned. (FYI-on Cozi I had me going back to work on August 20!)

"For I know the plans that I have for you,
declares the Lord,
plans for welfare,
and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."
Jeremiah 29:11

And yesterday, school, like in college,  started up again.  Last August the Lord placed on my heart a huge desire to go back to school for teaching.  So I enrolled at Southern Arkansas University last fall and completed the hours needed to enter the education program.  I started Block I in the Early Childhood Education program yesterday.  Totally unplanned, but it has turned out to be a huge blessing.  God has been very gracious to provide the time, energies, and finances for this to happen.

And I cannot ever forget about the unplanned summer 2012.  I did not have on Cozi a trip to Boston!  Up until all 5 of our feet touched the airplane floor in Little Rock, we were living by absolute faith.  No sight at all, other than God's faithfulness and His Word.  Totally unplanned for all 5 of us to go to Boston.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Neither are your ways My ways, " declares the Lord.
Isaiah 55:8

And then there was our time in Boston.  I had a bucket list of places I wanted to go to in between Ethan's games. I wanted to make this most of the trip!   God had provided the means for us to go at this time and we had no clue if we would ever be able to come back to this part of the country.  So it was so important to Warren and I to make memories together as a family.  But no matter how much planning I did, everyday was unplanned in its own way!  We never knew what we would find along the way, the means we traveled by, or the places we would pass by.
We stumbled upon Walden Pond (Thoreau) on our way to Vermont.  Loved it!

And God totally turned my direction for serving at church this fall around.  I had picked out, purchased, put on Cozi, and communicated with Warren my intentions to teach a ladies class.  The Lord had different plans.  He grabbed my heart a few weeks back and placed it in the student ministry for this fall. I just want to love on and encourage the students.  So that's where I will be!

This verse in Proverbs continually crosses my mind.  In fact, I cannot put something on Cozi without being reminded that I may plan, but it is HE who directs and decides those steps.

"The mind of man plans his way,
But the Lord directs His step."
Proverbs 16:9

And I am so glad. 

"Commit your works to the Lord,
And your plans will be established."
Proverbs 16:3

I am so glad He has me with the students right now. They are so precious and hungry for the Lord.  I don't want to miss the privilege of being a part of that.

I am so glad that the trip to Boston was in His plans and not mine. Otherwise, Elise and I would have never seen this most beautiful sight. 

I am glad that 15 years ago, God interrupted where I was in college with a blue eyed boy.  I wouldn't trade that time for anything.  (especially the naps! ) Now God is using the current college season in my life to reach classmates for Him, encourage my children educationally, and cause me to grow in so many areas. (including a desire to learn!)

And how thankful I am that God has given me a season of rest, even if it is for just a semester.   (although I will be volunteering teaching 3rd grade science starting next week.)  Only He can plan something so good.

So when life seems so unplanned.  When it seems so not in the plans.  When it seems not according to the plan.  He knows.

"O Lord, Thou art my God;
I will exalt Thee, I will give thanks to Thy name;
For Thou hast worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness."
Isaiah 25:1

Friday, August 3, 2012

Summer Fun! or maybe craziness??

I can't believe this summer is winding down already!  I heard some friends of ours call it the 'summer that wasn't.'  That makes me laugh because this summer has defeated all "normal" thoughts of summer.  It's been good, though.  I have stood in awe of God's ways all summer long.

The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
Psalm 126:3

This past week was extra crazy, to say the least.  I feel like we were on a roller coaster ride all week!
It was just a few hours after I finished my blog last week that I heard the news of the reporter in St. Louis.  The reporter was out for a morning run along the Mississippi River.   He stumbled upon some of our things that were stolen.  Bibles, journals, a moldy retainer (our Tyler's), inhaler's and medication were all found.  This man was nice enough to even go back and look for more items that could be ours after he talked with Warren.  When the package arrived, this note lay on top.

In that box was my Bible.  It had been ran over and is a little torn, but boy did it feel good to hold.  I smile every time I open those pages.  I will even admit that I have hugged it like a long lost friend!

The fear of the Lord is pure,
enduring forever.
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
Psalm 19:9-10

We also had the excitement of  Ethan's baseball team making it to the World Series!  They beat Crossett's 12 year old all-stars in Lamesa, Tx to clinch this spot as Southwest Champions.  We will all board airplanes Tuesday and head to Boston, Massachusetts.  That was definitely NOT in the summer plans. 

And Tyler passed his driver's test this past week.  Oh my!  When you look over and see your little blond hair child with your life in his hands, you are thankful our lives are in HIS hands.  Wasn't it just yesterday he was running over my feet with the plastic Today's Kids golf cart?

This past week I found myself praying to God, "I have no idea what to say."  My heart is so full of so many things now.  I am overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed by His blessings, overwhelmed with life, overwhelmed with His goodness, overwhelmed with schedules, overwhelmed by His mercy, overwhelmed with flight schedules, overwhelmed by the faith required.  Just plain overwhelmed!  It's so hard to describe!  I am sure you can relate. 

People were overwhelmed with amazement.
“He has done everything well,” they said.
“He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:37

In my prayer journal for the past couple of weeks (which was returned by the reporter, too!), each day basically starts like this:

"God, Guide us.  I don't even know what to say."

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

It seems the situations in life are so much bigger than us, but not our God.  And I just don't want to miss Him, while overwhelmed.  Crazy statement, huh?  I just don't want to miss what He is up to.

The huge miracle of having my Bible returned to me in a city of 318,000 people and 65 square miles, is so much bigger than me.  I can't even wrap my mind around it.  And the note, I really can't wrap my mind around it.  It's a daily reminder how powerful God's Word is.  And how God answers prayers, wow!

Ethan's team heading to the World Series and the awesome ways God has worked in the relationships and now provisions.  It's way beyond words for me.

And that child of ours driving.  Enough said.  His grace is enough and more than I can express.

So God, guide us.
Guide us in the way that brings You glory.
Guide us in the way that brings others to You.
Guide is in the way that brings Life.
Guide us in this "overwhelmed" time.
Guide us.

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine on us—
so that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you. 
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples with equity
and guide the nations of the earth. 
May the peoples praise you, God;
may all the peoples praise you.
The land yields its harvest;
God, our God, blesses us. 
May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Psalm 67

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Good Grief!

We are home.  Again.  We arrived home last Sunday evening from a mission trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota.  Minneapolis is a city so in need of salvation.
I want to so desperately tell you all about it.  And I will, promise.  But not today.
I am going to tell you about our trip in rewind.  That way, when I tell you about the trip, we don't have the end of the trip hovering over me and you.

"Bring joy to Your servant's life,
since I set my hope on You, Lord." Psalm 86:4

We left Minneapolis early Saturday morning (July 14).  We were looking forward to our late afternoon stop in St. Louis.  There were many of us that had never seen the Arch.  I was one of them.  I had no idea what to expect.  It was so cool how God worked it all out, but our dear children in the Lord (Natalie and Daniel) were close to St. Louis at the same time we were.  We were so excited to see them again before they made it back to New York. 

Warren and Sterling were the bus and van drivers and had a hard time finding a close parking spot, so they dropped all of us on the trip off in front of the Arch.  They went on and parked.  A little later Warren and I caught up with each other.  The Arch was so much more than I had imagined.  I had no idea about all the things they had underground.  Half of our students were able to get tickets to ride the tram up, including our Tyler and Ethan.  The other half was not able to.  So we decided to go eat dinner down the road (and on the way to our buses) at the Spaghetti Factory.  The walk there was fabulous.  The streets of St. Louis have so much history.  Up to this point, I was loving it and ready to come back on a family vacation.

We got word that the other group had finished the tram ride on the Arch and was heading to the bus.  We were getting our dinner tickets about that time.  We were in the middle of paying our waitress when Warren received a call from Sterling that our bus had been broken into.  At the point of the call,  we weren't sure of the van.  Our Tyler and Ethan had been riding on the bus with 27 other students and adults.  Elise was on the van/trailer with Warren and me and about 8 seniors.

"My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart,
my portion forever."  Psalm 73:26

We hastily walked down the crowded, busy St. Louis street passing bright lights of casinos and people everywhere.  We walked into our parking lot, passed the security attendant, and cars.  As we got closer, we could see the police, upset students, and glass.

The bus had been completely ransacked.  The thief had taken so much.  The detective on the scene was carefully instructing students to stay away while he looked over the situation.  It wasn't long before the crime lab arrived and took fingerprints.

The detective would have students look carefully and see what items were missing. Much was.   IPods, Ipads, money, checkbooks, prescription glasses, retainers, laptops, backpacks, clothes, shoes, movies, cd's, Bibles, wallets, phones, chargers, sunglasses, keys, picture books, tax information, headphones, Bible study materials,  but most significantly, trust .

"I cry aloud to God, aloud to God,
and He will hear me." Psalm 77:1

After the awe of material things being gone, the kids stood there in a greater awe that someone would do this.  To them.  Teddy bears thrown to the ground by this thief.  Gifts from relatives were taken just like that.  Bibles they had received from loved ones, gone.  A child's bag of crayons and coloring books foolishly taken.

The students had so many questions:
"How could someone do this?"
"Why did God allow this?"
"Is the man going to find me?"
"Will I get my stuff back?"
Tough stuff and tough questions.

The only thing seen on the ground of the scene was an ipod cord, glass from the broken window, and Elise's Bible study book. 

I lost quite a bit of material things as well.  I am nervous that I lost tax information that was on my stolen computer. Money gone.  Chargers stolen.  I am bummed that I lost my Beth Moore James book, Kelly Minter No Other Idols and Ruth books, Radical by David Platt, Timothy Keller's Couterfeit God's, and Sarah Young's Jesus Calling. (Is God teaching me something about idols or what??)  I hate that I lost my awesome 31 bag and many other things.  Overwhelmed that our budget for the year is now on the streets of St. Louis.  My bamboo pink lipstick is melting on a street corner somewhere beneath the arch.

"Do not have other gods besides Me." Exodus 20:2

 But let me tell you, I have literally stamped my little foot about my Bible.  I did!  In the Suburban as we traveled home from Monroe the other night.  I have had this Bible for over 16 years. I purchased it while pregnant with Tyler when I began my first Precept class, Philippians.   I have prayers I prayed for my mother in it.  Prayers of thanksgiving when we learned we were having a daughter.    Prayers for the knots on Tyler's head to be healed when he was 2.  Outpourings of forgiveness of sins.  I have underlined many, many, many verses that God has shown me.  It has dates of salvation for many of our youth through the years.  I absolutely treasured this Bible.

 Just a month ago I had failed to open it for a day or 2 due to busyness.  I had been satisfied in my hurry with simply doing a "devotional book."  After those couple of days, I laid in my bed and just slowly flipped my fingers through my Bible.  It was wonderful.  I just read through some of the things I had written in the margins and the verse joining it.  It was a sweet night being reminded how good God is.  So faithful. 

I love to do my quiet times and study in my brown chair in the sun room at our home.  And I won't even try to deny it, I am struggling to plop myself there in the morning.  (Yes, my eyes are fighting a good cry right now as I upload these pictures)  I miss that brown Bible.  It's pages stained by me.  It's words are life to my soul.  I have pleaded with the Lord here.  I have praised the Lord here.  I have been humbled before the Lord here.  This Bible has met each morning through joy, pain, and loss. 

So we move on and learn so many things.
Missions is hard.
We live in a broken world.
That is why Jesus came.
That's why we go.
God is good.
God is faithful.
God is our protector.
God loves us.
He is enough.

So I will soon go to Lifeway and search the shelves for a new Bible.  It will have crisp pages (yuck) and the binding perfectly intact. God will teach me new things that I will mark.  Many prayers will be penned in the margins.  And I will love it, just as I did the old. 

I would love to have that old Bible back.  But I would be so very mad if I did get it back, because I know what that Bible holds in it.  Words that change lives forever.  It did mine.  My prayer hours after the incident are still held true today, blow wind, blow.  Scatter Your word.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. But He, Jesus, has come to give us life and give it more abundantly. Praying TRUE LIFE is found in the lives of the ones who encounter my Bible. In it is found the pourings of my heart to God for 16 years. His Word never comes back void. May the pages fly out all over this city and stumble upon the feet of the desperate. May they see the margins and know God is ALIVE and Good!! Pray for our students to feel total secure in the Lord's protection.

and so we "cry and walk." (K. Minter, Ruth).  God is faithful.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stop Your Whining!

I am sure all you "camp parents" have enjoyed the small bits of information your students and kids have shared with you after arrriving home from church camp or Super Summer.  For some of you out there, the information they shared with you about their experience is the only details of life you will get for the next couple of months.  After this, you will have to pull teeth to get practice schedules, details of new classes, and at least a day's warning of needed school supplies.  So I guess we all need to take a moment and savor that bit we got from our teenagers.  Because it's just about over.  :)
In our family Tyler is more of the talker when compared with Ethan.  Ethan's details come in bits and pieces and they are always so vague. I am still trying to put all the pieces together from his time at camp. 

Ethan at Super Summer

Tyler tells you all at once.  Fast.  So fast that I am still trying to figure out what he said.  I heard what everyone said, did, what the speaker said, songs sung, and highlights of camp within the first 30 minutes of being home.  Now I am just trying to let it soak in.
Tyler at Super Summer

One thing I did understand from both of the boys was that they really enjoyed the speaker for the week, Ed Newton.
Ed Newton

On the way home from Super Summer, Tyler shared with me many things he had gleaned from Ed's teachings.  I will admit, I have no idea what the point was, just his thoughts as he processed it.  Tyler told me that he realized this week that he got all his good qualities from his dad.  Ouch!!  I asked calmly (trying to remember my advice in "walk down the mountain" blog from a couple of weeks ago), "Tyler, what qualities would those be?"  He went on to describe Warren's kindness, mercy, friendliness, communication skills, easy going, ........................................................................... and on he went.  

So at this point,  wondering just what qualities he felt I beheld, I ask "So, Tyler, umm, what good qualities do I possess?"  Tyler goes on to describe the kindness, organization,cooking and friendliness in my life.  He did use the words "sort of" a whole lot.  He then adds a tidbit about how I am always making them clean the house, do chores, and more strict than Warren.  As he stops there, I think to myself, That's it?  15 years of effort and that's what he thinks of me? 

Side note I have written in my Bible.  Wrote it many years ago.

It wasn't but a few seconds later down the road, as I was digesting all of this "bad news", Tyler started again on my qualities.  He says, "You know, but you also, like, are really good at telling us what the Bible says we should do and how we can apply it.  You play the Jesus card a lot.  And you know a lot of scriptures.  You are really good a that.  I like that about you.  You are nice to people and want them to know Jesus."

Hallelujah!   My efforts are not in vain. 

"Be dilligent to present yourself approved to God as a workmen
who does not need to be ashamed,
 handling accurately the word of truth." Hebrews 4:12

Tyler also went on to tell me about the over 100 scriptures Ed said by memory and where they were located.  Ed uses an app called Fighter Verses to learn the scriptures.

I told Tyler this would be a wonderful app for him to use.  I encouraged him to use this in FCA at school or find an accountability partner in the student ministry in our church.  He agreed and on he went.

"Thy word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against Thee." Psalm 119:11

Later that night,  he walked into my room and said, "since we paid $2.99 for the app, you need to downlaod it."  That's when God grabbed my heart and I knew to ask, "Why? Are you wanting me to be your accountability partner and memorize these verses with you?"  And he reponded, "yes."
Oh no!
I can barely remember my own children's names.  I have to check 3 or 4 times a month whether I mailed all the bills or not.  I have to go through the alphabet to think of peoples names.  And he wants me to memorize a new scripture passage every week?
I won't lie.  I am being completely honest as I write this to you.  I have kicked, screamed, and whined, A LOT!  The first verse is found in I Peter and it has been many hours of studying to get it.  So here it goes.

"Resist him.  Firm in your faith.
Knowing the same kinds of suffering
are being experienced by your brotherhood
throughout the whole world.
And after you have suffered a little while,
the God of all grace
who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and confirm you.
[To him be the dominion forever and ever.Amen]
I Peter 5:9-10 [11]

I had no idea that my enjoyment of "camp talk" would lead to memorizing scripture with my son.  But it has.  Tyler and I go back and forth saying what we know everyday.  Tyler completely learned his first verse in 2 days. (but note-he probably knows every detail about North Little Rock's Payton Holmes, Kenny Howard, Gary Vines, Rodney Bryson, Juan Day and Altee Tenpenny in Hooten '12 already)   It has taken me the full 7 days to memorize this verse, but I have it!  We sit at Twisted Cow saying our verse.  We drive down the road saying our verse.  Ethan hears it.  Elise hears it.  He tosses his Bible at me and says, "Watch out!  It's sharp enough to pierce our hearts."

"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword,
 and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow,
 and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of heart." Hebrews 4:12

Good stuff.  Having to obey and choose to leave a legacy with my family by memorizing scripture with them and being in God's Word is the time worthy stuff in life. 
I encourage you today to do the same.  Introduce them to this app or come up with your own plan.  Memorize His Word as a family or with one of your chldren.  Even if you have to kick, scream, and whine like a two-year old for a toy in Wal-Mart at first.  It is worth it!

So we finish week one and go to week 2.  And good news!  It's an easy verse!

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
The righteous run into it and is safe." Proverbs 18:10

Maybe one day when I have left this world for my seat at Jesus' feet, those 3 that I "make clean house" will have engraved on my headstone, "Mama G: Lover of the Word." 

That's the quality I want to leave.

"For it is not an idle word for you; indeed it is your life...." Deuteronomy 32:47

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Call in Texas

I have so many things I want to write this morning!  It is Monday and I missed writing last week while I was out of town!  I will spare you all the craziness and just share with you what God reminded me of as I sat in the auditorium of Jones Performing Arts Center (JPAC) on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University this past week.  It was a sweet remembrance of just what God has done in our family.  I think it's important to reflect where the stones are laid in our lives and the promises God has kept.  A time to remember how he has rescued us.   Loved us.  Taught us.  Provided for us. 

Super Summer Arkansas (SSAR) was GREAT this year!  (SSAR is a camp held in Arkadelphia, AR for students)  God did some amazing things in many students lives this past week.  Everytime we go to SSAR, it feels like we are at a BIG family reunion. Current students, college students, families of student minister's, all traveling to the same place, with the same purpose.   Kind of makes me think of what the Festivals in the Bible probably felt like.  An opportunity to meet with the people who you have crossed paths with at some point in your life, meeting together to worship.

"For these things I remember, and I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and thanksgiving,
a multitude keeping festival." Psalm 42:4

This year was extra special because it was Warren's turn at being the Super Summer Chair.  He had the privilege of choosing the theme, scripture, and having the responsibility to lead the camp this year.  When he first told me his theme idea, I wasn't too sold on it.  But as the year progressed and I learned what and how important the feasts/festivals were, I was passionately sold on the theme.  It was at the festival of Booths that Jesus stood and said,

"If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink." John 7:37

(This verse has much meaning when you are at rec at SSAR!)

Seeing Warren on stage leading at different times caused me to think back to where all God has taken us as a couple and as a family.  As I sat in the front row seat on Tuesday night, all around me sat former students that are now in college serving the Lord.  We have known most of them before they could even tie their shoes.  Several rows behind me sat current students, yelling with excitement .  In that section sat our Tyler.  Loving the Lord.  I just can't tell you what it does to a person when you are sitting in an invitation and you see students you once led to Christ or discipled, now leading others to Christ/discipling.  Very humbling.  A sweet taste of God's grace and love.

When Tyler was 6 months old, Warren and I were living in Huntington, Arkansas on his parents homeplace.  Warren was working for KHBS Channel 40 in Fort Smith in the promotions department.  He had been working at this job ever since he graduated the University of Arkansas with a degree in English.  During the Summer of 1997, KTEN in Denison/Sherman, Texas called Warren and offered him the director position for promotions/production at the station.  After much prayer, we took the job.

Warren liked his job pretty well.  But God used this job to make us uncomfortable.  Warren lost his passion for television.  It began to really bother him.  He would come home unfulfilled every day.  No passion.  The only thing keeping him going at work was the ministry opportunties he saw and was trying to take advantage of.
The building in Denison, Texas where KTEN was housed

Warren and I would search the scriptures over the next year we were in Texas.  We studied a Precept study together, I Timothy.  God used this book of the Bible as well as  the youth minister and yourthworkers at Parkside Baptist Church to work in our lives.  He also used a 12th grade Sunday School class that we taught to help us discern God's will for our lives.  We knew God was doing something.  We just had to seek Him for the answers.  We lived in Denison for 18 short months.  God brought us to this place to do a new work in our lives.
Parkside Baptist Church (Denison, Texas)

"And you will seek Me and find Me,
when you search for Me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11

After sensing a calling in our lives to the ministry, Tyler, Warren, and I knelt down on the rose-colored carpet in our apartment.  I will never forget the spot and those tiny knees of Tyler kneeling on that floor.  We confessed, committed, and gave our lives to full-time minstry, 
Whatever that would mean.  We were ready to go.

Tyler and Warren at our apartment in Denison
That was 14 years ago. God would lead us to youth ministry where Warren has served in 2 churches as youth and associate pastor/youth and family minister. 

Blessings.  Growth.  Joy.  Struggles.  Passion.  Fulfillment.  Humbled.  Purpose.  Ministry has been this and so much more for our family since we surrendered to the calling He put on our lives.

Calling.  God calls each of us to different tasks to complete His will on this earth.  He doesn't call everyone to full-time ministry like our family, but he calls all of us to minister to people.

What does the ministry in your life look like? 
How about your family's life?

I know for me, one of the greatest blessings on this whole entire earth is serving with Warren, Tyler, Ethan, and Elise. I love mission trips with them.  Camps.  I love having dinner with them and the friends we are trying to reach.  I love ministry at ballgames with my family. There is nothing better than having a vision together as a family about a person or another family that you would like to reach for Christ. 

So I encourage you, find a family that needs Jesus.  Sit at the dinner table and pray for them.  As you drive down the road, talk about ways to build a relationship with them.  Intentionally cross paths with them as a family.  It's our calling to always be doing this.  Always to be sharing Christ.  It's important enough that Christ's last words to us was just this.

" shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and even to the remotest part of the earth." Acts 1:8

You won't regret it for a minute.  Ministry. 

"...walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
showing forbearance to one another in love,
 be dilligent to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3