"What He ordains for us each moment is what is most holy, best, and most divine for us." Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Friday, January 30, 2009

When I Grow Up

Okay, I really don’t get into name dropping. At least I try not to. I know it makes me sick when I hear other people do it; therefore, I would hope it would make me sick should I do it. Besides, if I have to use another’s power or name to exalt myself, then shame on me. But today I make an exception – with a bag nearby. But, hopefully, there’s a point to be made. And quite frankly, it was just an ordinary moment turned thrilling for me.

Two weeks ago today, my friend Julie and I stopped by a neat little café in Alpharetta (on our way to Rome – Georgia not Italy) to have lunch with her son Jonathan and “the Passion crew,” as he called it. All ten or eleven of these darling crew members awaited us when we got there, and we took the two empty seats next to and across from Julie’s son. Blake, I believe, was on my right and Shelley on my left. Lunch was ordered and served, and conversation was plentiful. The liveliness of it alone made me almost forget I didn’t feel my best nor was able to rotate my head to look to the left or to the right. (Even as we talked, I wore a Tens Unit, a little battery operated electric stimulation device on my neck.) I especially enjoyed talking with Shelley. She, too, had recently had some back problems; therefore her empathy was sincere and her remembrance fresh. In fact, I believe the Lord sat me right next to her so she could understand and encourage me in this slow healing process. I certainly needed it, for goodness sakes. She even offered the name of her doctor who had taken such thorough care of her. She was as genuine as they come, not to mention beautiful, and I became immediately fond of her.

Somewhere during lunch, I asked Blake what she did at Passion and she told me that she was pretty new – she had come on board as an intern just weeks prior to their World Tour last summer and was now full time. Later I asked Shelley. She began with, “Hmm, what do I do at Passion?” At the moment, I didn’t understand her hesitation. And so she began with a list of things, one of which was overseeing the recording label, Sixsteprecords. Maybe you’ve heard of Charlie Hall? The David Crowder Band? Chris Tomlin? Matt Redman? Not a shabby list to say the least. Come to find out she doesn’t just “oversee,” she’s the president of Sixsteprecords. But then she gave her real "job" description: “And I’m married to Louie.”

Oh, my goodness. I was having lunch with Louie Giglio’s wife and I didn’t even have a clue! All I knew is that I liked her, she was classy, and she seemed sincerely concerned about me. I tried not to act like an idiot from that point on, but I’ve been such a fan of Louie’s ever since I heard him speak on the glory of God some seven or eight years ago, that I’m not sure I made a cohesive statement from then on. As we parted at the door, Shelley hugged me and told me she would pray for me – and I believed her and was grateful.

So why the name dropping? Because here is a woman who is gracious, unpretentious, authentic and sincere. And from what I could tell, it doesn’t take her husband or a recording label to make her who she is. She is the real thing, bathed in the beauty of Christ, and confident and complete in Him alone. And that’s what I want to be when I grow up.

It was just an ordinary moment. Now where’s that bag…

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Amazing Love

It was one of those surreal moments. Or maybe even proud might be just as adequate a description if used in an indebted kind of way. At the last moment, I asked a friend to take my place at the piano for the evening worship Sunday night and I slipped out to The Warehouse, a new contemporary service at Crossroads UMC. The music was loud, due to my placing myself in front of the speaker, but in only a moment, I was able to enter into a worship experience that touched some deep places in me. I can cry like a baby when it comes to singing Amazing Love. “Amazing Love, how can it be that You, my King, would die for me?”

But after we finished singing came the real reason for my being there. My firstborn was bringing the message at this gathering. The reality of it hit me, and if I cried while singing, I blubbered like a fool when he walked up the steps onto the stage. (I’m so glad the lights were low so he couldn’t see me! He would have been so embarrassed.) But at that moment, I recognized the powerful authority that was on my son to bring the Word, and I was just overcome with gratitude to a God who is so faithful, not because of me or any parenting skills, but in spite of me and my lack thereof. What an amazing love.

It was indeed a very special and holy moment – and nowhere close to ordinary.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Body

Having married off all three of my children within a year and a half, the last couple of years of my life have been nothing short of, well... active. Add all the “normal” stuff in there and I can say with much assurance that life has been full, emotionally if nothing else, and that God has been very faithful. But over the last several months, I’ve been saying, “If I can just make it to January." "If I can just make it to January.” Well, January arrived; the adrenaline stopped pumping, the body felt the effects – and I fell apart.

For several decades, I have suffered from a degenerative disk in my lower back as well as very tight shoulder and neck muscles (due to years of sitting at the piano). I've heard it said that stress will attack the weakest part of the body, and for me, it’s definitely my back and neck. And attack it did. It began with a stiffness in my lower back and slowly began working its way down my legs, into my feet, and then up my spine and into my shoulders. It has indeed been one of the strangest things I’ve ever experienced as I’ve been almost totally out of commission for about 3 weeks now. I even gave up my gym membership to my son-in-law and turned my trainer over to another. I spend a majority of my time these days at the chiropractor’s, at Sapp’s Physical Therapy, getting massages, and laying on ice.

But I’ve learned something through all this. Something about the body. You see, in the beginning, only my lower back hurt – my 5th Lumbar to be exact. But through the swelling, it began affecting the part of the body next to it, and so it went, until every part of my body was touched in one way or another by the inflammation of that particular disk. I’m talking toes, fingers, and even my jaws. Not all at one time, just gravitating from place to place.

Paul writes to the Corinthians and tells them that they are the body of Christ – that each one is a part of it, and that if one part suffers, every part suffers (1 Cor. 12:26-27). I’ve always viewed that verse as a “when you hurt, I hurt” kind of thing. But this back ailment has put a little different angle on it for me. I’ve been thinking about attitudes. For example, if I determine to have a bitter attitude or negative emotion, in other words, if I swell up about something, that thing is not safe just with me. It’s going to affect the person next to me. And then it’s going to affect the next person, and the next, until that things travels all throughout the body bringing inflammation.

The irony is that my lower back is almost completely back to normal, but my neck, hands, and even fingers are still feeling the affect of that initial swelling in my lower disk. I may think my attitude – my anger, my bitterness, my self-righteousness, my unwillingness to forgive – might be hurting no one but me, but according to Scripture, every part of the body will suffer. That’s something to think about the next time I get an inkling to "swell up".

Just an ordinary moment…

Friday, January 9, 2009

I've Been Remiss

Yes, I've been remiss. Sandy and I became grandparents over the Christmas season -- twice, and I've failed to brag. May I do so now?

First of all, we welcome Maddie McLendon into our world. She's a darling little bassett hound who was only 5 1/2 weeks when she spent her first Christmas with us. The proud parents are Robert and Kristin.

May I also mention she's already quite spoiled? But isn't that what a grandmother is suppose to do?

Our second addition came the week after Christmas and his name is Cocoa -- a cataloopa leopard Australian shepherd mix. Different, I know, but darling all the same. He is already 8 months old, very playful, and already house broken much to his parents', Charles and Adrianne's, delight. He has quite an under bite, but two of his great uncles are dentists.

Cute, aren't they?

By the way, kids, I hear that 2009 is the year of the grandmother. And I don't think they were talking puppies....

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Woman's Heart

I had one of those moments of realization this afternoon that left me sobbing like a baby. It all came while I was reading a blog of a beautiful woman whom I knew while living in Richmond Hill. Actually, we met just months before I left and moved to my present address.

It was the very first women’s Bible study I ever facilitated: Beth Moore’s A Woman's Heart: God's Dwelling Place and I was probably as clueless as the next person, but we met for the 10 weeks of study. I really don’t ever remember seeing Heidi again until seven and a half years later when we were sitting in the Savannah airport waiting for the mission team to fly in from Honduras. (The team had been in a horrible bus accident on that foreign soil and this mother -- being me -- was going to see her son off that plane. Heidi was there to see my soon-to-be daughter-in-love safely home -- and because her heart had been with the team the entire time as well.) Heidi approached me, re-introduced herself, and told me that she had been in the Bible study I had led and then proceeded to tell me that not only was it her first Bible study, but that it was what started her on her journey of faith. Of course, I was thrilled to hear that, but never more humbled or overcome with emotion than when I began reading her blog this afternoon. I encourage you to go there and maybe you will get a clue of what I’m talking about.

My prayer time with the Lord this morning is way too personal to share, but may it suffice to say that Heidi’s testimony through her blogging touched very deep places in me. She is indeed a woman after God’s own heart.


Just an ordinary moment…

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Golden Canon

Each week I receive a Leadership Weekly newsletter which is geared for just that: people in leadership in the church. In the last issue of the year, they presented us with The Golden Canon which was a list of “the best books for Christian leaders in 2008.” I was quite excited to go to the site to see just how many of the ten I had actually read. Priding myself, I guessed six. One can only imagine my disappointment and shock when I found that not only had I not read any of them, I had not even heard of them!

But 2008 has come and gone and the list is now obsolete, and so I move on only hoping to read something of value in 2009. I often take my reading clues from what others read and maybe you do, too; so I’m keeping an updated list in the margins of this blog of the books, devotionals, and Bible studies I'm reading and using with the thought one might spark an interest with you. But mind you, my choices do not make the top 10.

The great theologian Charles Spurgeon advised his students to be discriminating about what they read, and told them to bathe in good books "until they saturate you." He said, "A student will find that his mental constitution is more affected by one book thoroughly mastered than by twenty books merely skimmed."

Now put like that, there’s really only one Book worth reading, wouldn't you say? And it surpasses anybody's list of top 10.

Just an ordinary moment…