Sunday, December 26, 2010

A White North Carolina Christmas

Grandpa and Grandma's home sweet home

My sweet dad and mom...Grandpa and Grandma

The beautiful backyard

I went out this morning to take pictures of the winter wonderland and daddy caught me. He was busy taking pictures of me taking pictures...

catching snowflakes on his tongue

J and Kase

Graham has had yet another ear infection...we had to call in more medicine on the way to NC but the poor little guy is getting better...

These little red boots were first Leah's then Kristy's and then mine....then they were passed down to the grandkids.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...where people live....

The Lord has opened up some doors for me to teach the Bible to a local Boys and Girls Club in a government housing project in our area. Last year I was able to tutor some of the teens in math and English, praying and hoping that one day it would open the doors for the teaching of God’s Word to them. This past year it has transitioned into teaching the Gospel of John right there in the club to the teens. We have been working with the teens for over a year now, but over the last months the Lord has put on my heart the younger kids as well. The Lord again opened that door and I began a reading time with some of the younger ones. I was reading to the 4-6 year old class The Jesus Storybook Bible this past week. After reading I was trying to emphasize that the earth’s not perfect because sin. And we all have sinned. I was asking the kids how they knew the world wasn’t perfect. Hands flew up…one of the little girls somewhere from age 4-6 told me she knew the world wasn’t perfect anymore because “some bad guys came and shot my cousin and killed her.” Her response just keeps coming back to me and hitting me…I guess mainly because it was such a young girl. One of the young girls there had seen her mom get shot. It’s just so obvious that the world is not perfect. There’s so much need. There’s needs across the world, but there’s need right down the street too. Many times we spend money going hours and hours away to places to share Christ’s love when we neglect to live that kind of lifestyle right here in our own neighborhoods and cities. I don’t want to miss either one. I’m thankful I have such examples in my life. One of my favorite passages of scripture is Is 58.

“….to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free and break every yoke….
sharing your food with the hungry
and to bring the poor and homeless into your house,
to clothe the naked when you see him
and not to ignore your own flesh and blood...
Then your light will appear like the dawn
and our healing will quickly appear.
Your righteousness will go before you
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer…he will say: Here am I.
If you get rid of the yoke from those around you,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like noonday.
The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age old foundations;
you will be called the Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorers of streets where people live.” (NIV and HCSB)

I desire that "spent" life. God’s got His work cut out for Him when it comes to me, but I’m so thankful for the many promises that He has for me. That’s another entry- but I’m just left trusting that He will do what He says He will do in my life. His word never fails. No matter how many times I fall and fail, His Word stands strong.

In thinking of the plight of people right here in our own nation, the people right down the street, the people we may know, the people we may ignore…the poor…the needy, rejected, the lost…I can’t help but to think of the relationship between the rich, meaning the rich in Christ- all those who have been given the greatest wealth of all, and the poor, needy. I wonder if part of the problem is that we don’t see them. Is seperation part of Satan’s strategy? We are so separated from the plight of the poor right here in our own backyard. We live away from “them”, we stay away from “them”, we definitely don’t invite them home to be with us, we walk on the other side of the street so many times…I wonder if we have somewhere lost the sight of how God pursued us. I can picture Christ pursuing us a Prince pursues His precious Bride. How in an adventure story the Hero rides off on his horse to rescue the beloved…leaving all behind for the adventure that awaits him. What a beautiful scene. So who are we pursuing? Seeking out? Maybe just in prayer right now….maybe we can have the privilege to cry tears for someone before we even know them…asking God to reveal Himself to them and do a mighty work in lives around us. Waiting and watching. Waiting, in the divine action of intercession, before we see the Work of God around us. Waiting in divine expectation- ready to move about or speak out. Maybe the person we’ve been sharing the love of Christ with just needs to hear the gospel explained. Sure we can share Christ’s love with someone without ever saying a word, but there comes a time when we have to say, to tell, to share with words- Jesus Christ.
One of the things I am praying for right now is one specific little girl and boy that the Lord has laid on my heart. I started praying for a chance to meet their mom and several weeks ago I was able to meet her in passing- at first she looked a bit confused on who I was and why her little ones knew me, but she knows my name and face now. It’s so fun to see how the Lord works- not my working- His working and just our willingness to listen and act on command…or on whisper!

Another thing I have been pondering right here in America is the wealth even that some of the poorest have…at least in comparison to the poor in other countries. As I have prayed, I understand that there is need that has to be met by the means of money, but what many people lack most, even the poor, is just plain old intimacy. I think of John 15 and the Master Gardener. I often think of His hands, a gardener’s hands are rough, dirty, nothing glamorous. I think about how a gardener often has to pull up old stuff, get down deep into the soil, not be afraid to get down on his knees and work hard, sweat and get a little messy in the process. I am so thankful that the Lord has gotten down deep into the soils of my soul and heart. That He hasn’t left me on my own, but that He has gotten His hands dirty with all the work He has had to do and still has to do with me. Now imagine those same dirty Hands as the Hands of the King. And so many times, I am afraid to just go a little bit deeper…it may get too dirty…. In John 11 we see Martha telling Jesus that the stench of Lazarus’ four day dead body would be horrible at this point, but Jesus wasn’t scared away by the foul odor. The reek of a four day old dead body didn’t hinder him. The stench just didn’t bother Christ. Will I be able to stand the stench? He does- so I think I should too. If I love Him, I will follow Him. I was thinking of something more that we could do for this one specific lady that we have grown to love….this lady gets help for essentials- in comparison to other countries she is doing pretty well. As I prayed the Lord seemed to whisper the word intimacy. Deeper intimacy. Deeper still. Love like Christ loved me-He looked beyond the ugliness, the filth, the stench, the very things that God hates He looked beyond when He pursued me. And He didn’t just stop when things got a little “too much”…He always keeps on…going deeper and deeper. He loves me no matter what. And oh how that makes me love Him more! Sin doesn’t increase, love increases with that kind of love. I love that kind of love! Who wouldn’t? Not just a gift. But a life shared. A gift implanted. A life planted. Even with the worst. Because at one time I was the worst. I was the enemy of God. He loved me and died for me while I was a sinner. While I was filthy, nasty, lying and playing in my own sin. And He continues to pursue me when I fail. He doesn’t give up on me. I am so overwhelmingly thankful He has not given up on me. I would have given up on me. But, I pray that He never will. I cling to the promises that He never will. I memorize, meditate, recite some of those promises that He won’t give up on me. I can put all my weight on those promises. I think at times I do give up on me, but He doesn’t. And He won’t. Wow. That’s exhilarating. And at the same time it gives me rest.

I look around at some of my friends here, at some of my friends in other places of the country and world, and then I look at our families… We have been so blessed with examples and relationships that bring us closer to the heart of God….the Lord continues as He always has to love on people through His people. God’s people willing to get dirty in the lives of others just as God Himself has had to reach down and get deep into our own lives. Not just a handout, not just money thrown their way, not just a moment of thought…but real, real intimacy. Intimacy that says I’m not afraid of how dirty my hands will get, I’m not afraid of the work it will entail (it’s not my work anyways- It’s God’s work; His yoke is easy the burden is light.) An Intimacy that just says that I’m not afraid of the stench. (That’s something that we all need, huh?) A people who aren’t afraid of a life that has not yet been touched by God’s saving grace. Why would we back down from that invitation? Oh that we would not love our lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev 12:11). Death is the only way resurrection life comes.
Hope given and Light breaks forth. Noonday.

Sunlight through a window. A Door of Hope.

I just want to add on the reminder that God is a prayer-answering God. I once heard the pastor of Brooklyn Tabernacle preach while I was at Liberty University- I don’t remember much from that sermon but I will always remember that he kept saying to “pray through.” To pray until we see the answer- maybe not always the answer we wanted, but to always, always be praying. Always be praying. Oh that I may not ever waste a day without prayer. To walk in prayer, to live in prayer, to love in prayer. I wish I could sit down with all the followers of Christ and hear all the answers to prayer and all the stories of how God works…I just love hearing how great our God is amongst us normal, ordinary people. My sister and parents with a group from their church just returned from Jamaica a couple of weeks ago…I love to hear them talk about how God has miraculously worked on behalf of the people there…I can’t wait to sit around the living room and hear more stories and look at pictures of God’s workings in a little place called Canterbury in Jamaica. Maybe that’s something we will do in heaven- we can all just share those stories with one another…maybe around the table of the marriage feast of the Lamb…At the end of our lives, may we all have stories to share…all to the glory of the Father. I wonder what our stories will be….

Monday, December 13, 2010

A wonderful Thanksgiving!

My sister and her kids got to come for Thanksgiving! We had such a wonderful time!
The favorite thing was walking to the creek...and in the creek! We love going here on pretty's just a couple of minutes from our house....

Kase and J got deep!

Pretty Kali

I thought this was sweet of Kobe helping little Hud

Kobe and Graham

oh boy.... Wild man Graham

Working out!! He's big stuff! ha!

Dress up with five boys was a bit interesting....

We had so much fun with you guys! Wish you could've stayed another week or two!! Come back soon!!!!!

Last soccer pictures....

I enjoyed seeing J make some of those same memories I have of soccer in the rain....we had such a blast! The season is over now and we are looking forward to next year!

He scored three again!

Wet but happy!!