Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Too much to say, don't know where to start

Have you ever been in a place where things are just going so fast, in so many directions that you just want to bury yourself under the covers of your bed and wait for the ride to be over? 

I'm doing that right now.  LOL.  Some is self-induced and some is outside of me.  Things that I have no control over and things that I do.  Unfortunately, when I start getting too busy my writing suffers.  It's interesting to me that the major thing that feeds my soul, that sustains me day to day and that I love is the first thing that "dries up" when life gets too crazy. 

It's not that I don't have anything to write about, it's mainly that satan is trying to get a foothold.  He's been doing that a lot lately and I feel like my eyes have been opened to it for a reason, but we will come back to that at a later date. 

Right now I want to encourage my readers to check out a blog http://www.karendawkins.blogspot.com/  Karen is an amazing woman of God who inspires and challenges me.  I believe that God places people in our lives to help us travel down the segment of the narrow road where we are at that specific time in our life.  Karen is traveling this with me and is giving me much to think about, chew over, and process.  Her blog pours fresh words into my soul, fresh insight into my mind and helps me fall deeper and deeper in love with my Jesus every day.  I'm not putting Karen on a pedastal and she certainly doesn't expect it, but I do know that writing and blogging and pouring our souls out on paper (or pixels) can be challenging and even lonely, and so for now, while I'm wading through the muck and mire stop by Karen's, grab a cup of coffee, and read a bit.  It's time well spent. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's love got to do with it?

Satan is trying to diffuse the biggest weapon God has placed in our arsenal. Love. Follow the link and read the following passage 1 Corinthians 13 but come back!!!!  Below are the first 3 verses.  Most of us skip those.  I know I did until God opened my eyes recently. 
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.
Many of us, who have studied and read these verses, begin at verse 4 with “Love is patient” stop at “Love never fails” and that is so true but God is giving us something so important in the beginning and the end of this passage.
1If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
Speaking in the tongues of men and of angels. Men (the world) can speak pretty words. They can entice, encourage, compliment, and give assurance. The tongue of angels, in my opinion, are “pretty words” music, poetry, praise and exhortation. Don’t we hear those things over and over again throughout the day? In the media, the songs on the radio or on our Ipod, the books that we read or download to our Kindle, the movies that we watch or rent from Red box. Over and over again our brains are saturated with beautiful words that sound like love, but do they contain love? And bring it closer, how much of what we speak on a daily basis contains love? The way you speak to your spouse or your child? What you mumble under your breath in traffic or waiting in line at the grocery store? Are you a clanging cymbal or do your words flow like a soothing breeze over the hearts of those around you?

2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Wisdom, prophecy, understanding what is to come, discernment, and faith. All things that we can correlate with God and so many “see” as Christianity, but we can easily be misled. There have been many prophets, preachers, teachers and proclaimers of Christ who were “wise”, who had “faith”, but the only love they felt was for themselves. I am not sitting in judgment of anyone, that is not my place, but we must ask the question of our spiritual leaders and of ourselves, is our wisdom and prophecy and faith focused on furthering our own agenda or is it supported by a love for Our Heavenly Father?

3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Surrendering my body to the flames? Sacrificing for someone or for a belief. Well, that should be proof of what a “good Christian” I am. No, it's not.

You can give all you have, but why are you doing it? We have to check our hearts and be honest with ourselves because God already knows your heart.  Are you “giving all you have” so that others will be impressed? Are you sacrificing and surrendering so that you can look like a “super Christian?” to those around you? Are you doing all that you are doing because you believe that you can be "good enough" that you can "give enough" or that your works will "be enough".  It's not good enough, you will never "give enough" and you will never be able to "do enough". 

I truly believe that the only way we can love, truly love the way 1 Corinthians instructs us, is to have God living in us and therefore through us.  We cannot do it on our own.  We don't have the strength, the power, the capacity to love, truly love.  But God does.  Watch this. This is from scripture, not embellished, not interpreted, just truth from His word.  He's talking to us.  The love that we are all searching for, it's here my friend. 

That is love. We will talk about the rest of this passage tomorrow.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Thin Places

This post below is my entry to win a Kindle based upon Mary DeMuth's newest book, "Thin Places." To enter you have to write a 259 word essay (the cost of a Kindle) on a thin place in your life. You can enter too if you're interested.

What is a Thin Place? "those times where the division between this world and the eternal fades; they are snatches of holy ground, tucked into the corners of our world, where we might just catch a glimpse of eternity."

I experienced a thin place this week. I had been disobedient to God, not intentionally at first, but over time, 6 months time, it became true disobedience and I suffered the repercussions. The fallout from my disobedience was escalating all around me. I refused to do the one thing that would fix it, and that was to tell someone that they had said something that had hurt me. Our words are the most powerful weapon that we have in our arsenal. Satan had used someone words to wound me and God was aware and had given me the weapons to fight what Satan was doing, but I would not follow God’s instruction. I was going to do it my way, the way the world said, and just “get over it” but the wound would not heal. It festered and spread, and poisoned, first the relationship with my friend, and then those around us.

This week the band-aid was ripped off, the wound exposed, and the poison removed. My precious friend had no idea that Satan had gotten a foothold that grew into a stronghold. By my being honest God destroyed the stronghold. Looking into my friend’s eyes and hearing her laughter and feeling her hand in mine God healed the wound and even rewarded my obedience (finally) by replacing all that hurt and pain with joy, and love, and gratefulness, and forgiveness of my disobedience.

When we walk as God instructs us, we are allowed the thin places, glimpses of glory, to cling to when the world gets hard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Our New Normal

We are going to Duke Children’s Hospital today. We will be there at 7:00 a.m. and I’m not sure how long we will be there. It doesn’t matter. We could stay an hour or two, or if they need us to, we will be there until 9:00 p.m. It’s the Children’s Hospital annual radiothon. Seven years ago this month, we made a trip to Duke on a Friday afternoon.

In looking back I guess I noticed that something was “not right” around Christmas. Normally any 6-year-old would have been bouncing off the walls, but McKenna took a nap halfway through opening her presents. She just seemed to be so tired. A few days later she was at a friend's house and had a nose bleed. Not just any nose bleed, but one that wouldn’t stop. I called her pediatrician the next day, a Wednesday.

They drew some blood and sent us home with an antibiotic and instructions “not to worry.” So I didn’t worry…until Friday.

On Friday she went to school and I went to work. Around 1:00 in the afternoon I got the call. It was her pediatrician. She asked, “Where is McKenna?” I told her that she was at school. The doctor said, “Go get her right now.  You need to go to Duke Hospital, they are waiting for you.” She said, “We think that McKenna has leukemia. We just got her blood work back and she has no platelets, no red blood cells and very few white blood cells.” I didn’t know what half that meant. I don’t remember much of the conversation beyond the words “leukemia and they are waiting for you at Duke.”

We walked into Duke Children’s Hospital at 3:00 p.m. They ordered more blood work and we waited. The clinic emptied out, and we waited. At about 6:00 she came back in and said that McKenna’s blood work was concerning and they wanted to do a bone marrow biopsy. Now.

So they applied some cream to her hip, and started an IV and gave her some medicine to keep her calm. They put a Disney movie in and they let me hold her hand while the doctor took the marrow. I remember watching her place something so small, but a part of my baby, into a tube to be tested and being so scared. And then we waited.

We found out that night that it wasn’t leukemia but we knew we had a seriously ill little girl. For months, every Friday, we spent at Duke getting blood drawn and waiting to see if her platelets had started trending upward again. She was diagnosed with aplastic anemia and her life changed completely. No more learning to ride her bike, no more trampoline, no more gymnastics. No more running and playing. No platelets meant that she could bleed internally just from a simple fall and she could get very sick over something very common, like a virus.

A few months later her doctor asked if McKenna could go to camp. The hospital provides camp for a week, free of charge, to patient’s that wouldn’t normally get to go to camp.

My six-year-old, critically ill child, going to camp??

Her doctor assured me that she would be with her and would be keeping a very close eye and honestly, we just didn’t know if she would ever have the opportunity again.

So we packed her bags and in July she left to spend 6 days just being a kid, surrounded by nurses and doctors, residents and interns, and she got to play and laugh, and yes, she was homesick, and so was her mommy. But she had fun and she made friends, and for a little while it wasn’t about test results and what she couldn’t do anymore. It was about laughter, and playing games, and being just like everyone else, around other kids who had to take medicine and get blood draws. But for a week, they were just like everyone else, and if they had to rest, that was okay, or if they needed a breathing treatment, that was okay, or if they got hurt and everything had to stop for a bit, that was okay too and no one stared, or made fun, or thought they were weird, because it was everyone’s normal.

She came home, tanned, tired, but happy in her heart and with camp songs, and friends and memories. Precious memories. And we have done this every summer since for 7 years.

Eventually her platelets started to go back up, her red blood cells and white blood cells increased. We still have go to Duke to have her bone marrow checked and blood draws but right now, she is doing great. I still get apprehensive if she seems overly tired and I tend to be a bit over protective, but that’s our normal.

Today though, we get to go and tell a bit of our story. We get to talk about how much Duke Children’s Hospital means to us and how much we love Camp K. We get to help raise money so that the kid who is walking into Duke today and entering into a new normal can learn camp songs, make friends and bank memories to hold on to while they wait for the next bone marrow biopsy, the next CAT scan result, or for the next blood draw.

The medicine is important, the research is important, but the memories last forever. Thank you Duke Children’s and thank you Camp Kaleidoscope for giving us the memories to cherish for a lifetime.  And thank you Bill, Lynda, and Vanna and all of the volunteers at 101.5 FM for doing the radiothon and helping the kids. 

So if our story has touched your heart consider making a donation today, for McKenna and all the other kids who have a new normal that they live with every day but for a week each summer they get to go to camp and be “just a kid.” This overprotective, extremely grateful mommy thanks you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Radical Obedience

I tried to be obedient when I was growing up. I listened to what my parents said and obeyed (most of the time). As a young child I obeyed out of awe and some amount of fear (they were bigger then me) and as I became a teenager I tested the boundaries and in some respects flat out disregarded my parents instructions. I was radically disobedient. I didn’t understand that my parents were on my side.  That other then God my parents loved me more then anyone and that they wanted me to be happy. They were old and old-fashioned and didn’t understand what it was like to be me. And yes mom, you were right, I do understand now that I am a mom. 

Obedience means to obey or the willingness to obey.

Radical is “departing markedly from the usual or customary, extreme”.

Moses and Noah were both radically obedient.

John the Baptist was radically obedient.

Mary, David, Saul/Paul, Timothy, Stephen, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham,
Matt and Martha Fry, all have been radically obedient in their own time.

Wait, who are Matt and Martha Fry?

My pastor and his wife.

Radically obedient? How?

Where our church stands now was a tobacco field.

But my pastor had a vision and a desire to be radically obedient. Was it easy? No. Are there still struggles? Yes. Are there times when things happen that others may not understand? Yes.

But that is what being radical is all about.

Listening to what God is telling you to do and DOING IT no matter what “the world” says.

Matt Fry was willing to be radically obedient to our Heavenly Father and Martha, his wife, was willing to be obedient to her husband’s calling and vision. They both trusted God completely and it was through that obedience Matt and Martha opened a door for hundreds of people to come to know God and to understand salvation and redemption. Because Matt was willing to obey God’s instruction for his life, even if he didn’t understand it, God, through him, is able to reach people that would still be walking around in the dark, lost, and in despair.

I know this to be true because I was one of the lost. My husband and daughter were surrounded in that darkness as well. Did we know what was missing at the time? No. Did we have any idea a little over 3 years ago that we would be making the changes and taking the steps we are today? No, not in a million years. But you know what?

God did.

God knew that what was once woods, and then a field growing tobacco and cotton, would one day be a house where Christians would be planted and would grow and here, 10 years later lives are being changed, impacted, marriages restored, children and grandparents giving their lives to Jesus, the harvest is ripe.

Is our church perfect? No, thank God, if it was, they wouldn’t let sinners in and then it wouldn’t be a church, it would be a country club, and I don’t get to love my Jesus at the country club. If perfect is what you are looking for you will not find it in ANY church. But what you will find in churches that are living for God are people that are radically obedient. Not just in the church that I love, but in churches all over the world, God’s cool like that, He can be everywhere at once, as long as He’s welcome.

Are you obeying the call God has placed on your heart to become radically obedient? It can start small my friend. Saying yes to daily quiet time. If you have never had that with our Father, then this is radical obedience. Are you faithful with your tithe? Giving your tithe, first fruits, for a lot of us that is radical obedience. Are you serving at your church? Opening a door, helping with the children, parking the cars, these are all forms of obedience and if it is stepping out of your comfort zone, then my friend it is radical. And once God sees that you will be obedient to Him, then what He asks will stretch you and you will grow and you will be working WITH God to further His kingdom. 

Not everyone is called to start a church. Not everyone is called into the mission field.


Everyone is called to be obedient. Make it radical and see what God will do.

Thank you Matt and Martha Fry, thank you staff and leaders, and volunteers at C3 church for opening a door, pouring a cup of coffee, giving a hug, saying a prayer, singing a song, and just wrapping your arms around every person that walks through the door. Because you each have said "I will do it" God’s love is growing and touching lives in ways you will never know this side of heaven. All because you were radically obedient to Him.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I am not worthy.

I have heard that a lot in the past few weeks. Satan has whispered it in my ear. Friends that God has put into my path, people that are hurting or have made mistakes, stumbled and even fallen, they too cry out, “I am not worthy of God.”
And they are right.

None of us are worthy of God. Not one.

Mother Theresa was not worthy of God. Billy Graham was not worthy of God. John the Baptist, the 12 disciples, Mary or Moses, none were worthy.

(25As John was completing his work, he said: 'Who do you think I am? I am not that one. No, but he is coming after me, whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. Acts 13:25)

No matter how great, no matter how small. No matter if we cure cancer, fix the national deficit and balance the budget, feed every mouth, shelter every body, and adopt every orphan.

It still won’t matter; we won’t be good enough.

How good we are makes no difference because we cannot be good enough. We will always mess up. We will always fall short. Which is why we need Jesus.

I have a debt I owe. It’s more then I can ever repay but Jesus has paid it in full. There are so many people walking around who cannot put their head around that. They doubt their salvation, they doubt that God could love them, they don’t believe that He could love them. But this is a lie that Satan has planted in our heads.

It is impossible to grasp the enormity of our God because we believe that God views us as we view each other. God doesn’t work that way. You need to take Him out of the box, break down the walls and open up the door to your heart.

Think with me for a minute about a person in your life that you love. Just picture that person standing in front of you. It could be someone living or dead, a child, a parent, a spouse, but just one person. Think about how your heart fills when you think of that person. Think about how much you miss that person if they are gone, how your heart hurts if they have passed. Taking this journey right now might be painful, but it’s important, because my friend, no matter how much you love that person you are thinking about, GOD LOVES YOU MORE.

Think about that for a minute.

And then accept it.

It is simple, but it’s not easy, but I promise, it is worth it, and so are you, through Jesus.

Monday, February 1, 2010

It cannot help if you don't take it.

I'm not feeling well today.  I think I have a bad cold (I've never met a good cold though).  I woke up several times during the night with pressure and pain and now my neck is extremely stiff.  When I got up this morning I decided I needed to take some medicine. I am blessed to be able to work from home and I felt like I needed to find some relief this morning so that I could focus on my job.

I went and got some medicine from the medicine cabinet and made my tea and put the kettle on.  I came into the office and started my quiet time when the kettle went off.  As I walked back to the kitchen I started to wonder when the medicine would kick in and I would feel better. I debated if I needed to take something different, stronger, or maybe this wasn't just sinues/cold and something that would require a physician.  All this as I'm going into the kitchen and preparing my oatmeal. 

I came back into the office still focusing on how long it would take before I could get some relief when I sat back down at my desk and saw it.  The medicine that I had gotten out of the cabinet over an hour ago, sitting on my desk, I hadn't taken it.  No wonder it wasn't working. 

If you have been reading this blog long at all, you probably already know where I am going with this.  The medication was not at fault.  I was because it couldn't do it's job until I used it, until I had opened it and taken it in. 

Yeah, just like Jesus.  How long has it been since you have opened up your bible?  Is it still sitting on the coffee table and are you dusting it once a week?  It's not going to do you a bit of good unless you open it up and take it in. 

What about our Heavenly Father?  He sent His son but unless you open your heart to Him and accept Him, take Him in, He cannot do you one bit of good. 

God is the great physician, healer, and the giver of life, but He cannot work if we do not believe in Him and just because you buy the medicine and put it in your cabinet, or even open the package and put it on your desk, it cannot do what it was created to do unless it is inside you.

Friends, we cannot do what God has created us to do unless He is working inside us.  So do me a favor, take your medicine. 

Today's verse: 
23Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. (Matthew 4:23)