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

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Angels Unaware?

So, it happened like this. I awoke Friday morning with an anticipation of the day ahead. After all, I had planned it for months: a trip to Atlanta with the destination being Beth Moore's "So Long, Insecurity" conference on Saturday. I opened my Scripture tea, and as I've grown accustom, anticipated the Word for the day. It simply read, "For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways. Psalm 91:11." I couldn't resist wondering how that might play out during the day.

It was an event-filled 27 hours to say the least with the first being a near "mishap" on the interstate. I was attempting to pass an 18-wheeler on my right when the car on my left decided to enter my lane leaving me with no escape. Think Psalm 91:11.

The ladies with me and I checked into our hotel, grabbed some supper, and headed for coffee and dessert at The Daily Grind where my son works.
A quick shot during his break

As we readied to leave, I switched the ignition. Nothing. I tried again. Even less of nothing. Thank goodness, my husband had signed us up for AAA a couple of months ago, and they were about to get their first phone call from us.

It was a congenial 2-hour wait even though no one had thought to bring cards or a board game. We laughed a lot and my daughter continued to amaze us with all the wealth of information she had gleaned from the morning paper. And we got a huge kick out of the fact that when I pressed the horn on the steering wheel, there was no sound, but the light on my phone lit up.
Marynan and Adrianne made the most of it all by folding down the back seat and making a bed.

At precisely 12 midnight and just as the first raindrops began to fall, the much awaited tow truck pulled up into the deserted parking lot. The attendant wore a cap pulled down on his head, but even as "frumpy" as he was, I made mention to the girls what a sweet face he had. As is often the case, I took a few pictures to "capture the moment." The driver of the truck even struck a muscle pose for me.

Yep, that's the tow truck driver in both shots. I'll leave you to your own conclusion as to why he only showed up as light.

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, April 16, 2010

A Grace-filled Moment

In my devotional readings for the last week and a half, I've been reflecting on "looking for God." At the end of the day, I question myself, "Where did I see Him?" "Where did I meet Him?" Well yesterday's evidence of His presence left me in wonder.

I made the dreaded trip to Wal-Mart for a few grocery items. I whisked my way through the aisles, loading my buggy while I checked off my list and preceded to the check-out. With such a few items, I opted as I always do for the self-service, but for some reason, changed my mind right at the last and swung my cart toward the "20 or less" lane.

I noticed right away the girl behind the counter was singing softly as she scanned the items, and because I like to interact in some way with the cashiers, I said, "Oh, you've got a song in your heart this morning! What are you singing?" She responded, "I don't know; I don't understand the words. It's the Holy Spirit singing in me." And so I said, "Well don't let me stop Him." And so for those few moments -- standing in line at Wal-Mart, of all places -- I let the singing wash over me. Finally, as I was putting the bags in my buggy, I think she felt compelled to share with me, "People ask me all the time why I'm so happy, and I just tell them it's the Holy Spirit. He's the One who gives me my joy. Normally, they don't understand." I asked this sweet smiling thing, "What's your name?" And she responded, "Annie." Yes, that would make sense. Her name means "Grace."

As I pushed my cart to the car, I felt a huge smile playing across my lips, maybe even a skip in my step, and most certainly an unexpected joy in my heart. And why not? I had just experienced a Grace-filled moment. Yes, I met God at Wal-Mart.

Just an ordinary moment....

Monday, April 12, 2010

Red Healers, Tea Bags and a little Foster

At precisely 5:07 this morning, our sweet little but somewhat overweight red healer, Rusti, started barking. She rarely ever barks -- especially at night! What was so special about this one, for crying out loud? Must have been an armadillo or some other kind of creature invading her space. I lay there for a few moments wishing myself to sleep, and then I had the strangest thought: does God's voice ever sound like a dog? Was He urging me to deny the flesh this particular morning? I can't say for sure, but after listening to that eerie "wake-up call" for a few moments longer, it was all I needed to make me swing my legs over the side of the bed.

I put the kettle on for some hot tea -- as a bit of caffeine was needed for such an early start. A sweet sister had given me some Scripture tea for my birthday -- chai green tea to be exact. One of my absolute favorites. As I opened the bag, I sensed in my spirit, "this verse is for you." My heart rate accelerated a smite as I anticipated maybe a word. And there it was in black and white:"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21 NIV." Wow!

Ever been at a formal event where everyone's dressed in black and someone walks in wearing a red gown? No doubt, the Scripture on the tea bag stood out just as vividly. But it didn't just stand there, it jumped off that tea bag straight into my heart.

I wrapped my hands around the warm mug and found my way to the spot on the worn couch out in my "garden enclosed." I had yet to read my morning devotional. Since Easter, I've been using Richard Foster's A Year With God: Living Out the Spiritual Disciplines. Each selection offers a Bible passage along with comments pertinent to the week's discipline, with this week being "The With-G0d Life." After just having the tea bag experience, my senses were heightened a bit, and correctly so, for right there in black and white I read, "We are called today not to repay evil for evil or to return abuse for abuse, but to repay evil with blessings" (ref. 1 Peter 3:9). Another red dress moment.

Yes, I know that God loves me and desires an intimate relationship with me -- one where we converse back and forth. I talk to Him and He talks to me. But why am I always so shocked when I actually hear Him speak? Indeed, Hebrews 4:12 says, "The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." And not only that, but God's Word is so relevant. It's always a "now" word. A "today" word. It speaks to my current situations, and never more so than this morning.

God knew the exact word I needed to hear. But the thing is it didn't come from the sky or a billboard or a megaphone pointed at my ear. He got me up early through the sound of a dog's bark, and met me right where I was in my daily activity in a way that simply could not be ignored.

And quite frankly, tea has never been so good -- or so sweet.

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Glory Hallelujah! He's Alive!

Sometimes life just plain surprises me. I had one of those moments Sunday morning, Easter Sunday morning, which should have been a clue in itself that God is into surprises. I had the added favor of attending worship with my oldest son and his wife -- and what a blessing it was. When I got to the church, I noticed immediately before even entering the portals of the sanctuary that it was still dark. Not only were the lights off but everything remained dressed in black from the previous Good Friday service. Yes, I knew I would not be disappointed this morning. Charles had saved me a seat on the 3rd row -- center aisle, no doubt. Whether he did that because those were the only seats available or because he knows his mom loves being in the center of the worship activity, I don't know. But I was thrilled.

After the chiming of the 11th hour, soft piano music began. And then it happened. While it was still dark, the lit Paschal candle lifted high above the bearer's head was carried in from the back of the sanctuary. After it was placed in its stand, one by one, the paraments were transported and put in place -- along with a pulpit Bible, the offering plates, and Easter lilies. As the pastor walked down the aisle, passing on my left, something registered with me as "different" or not completely right, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Not until he began removing his suit coat anyway. Ah, yes, that was it. He wasn't wearing a robe. But a woman approached him with his vestment and assisted him in putting it on. He then dropped to one knee and bowed his head as she placed the ornate stole around his collar. The pastor arose, removed his shoes, and then received from the last attendant, his personal Bible -- the Word of God. The symbolism almost sent me over the top! But that wasn't the highlight for me.

The service progressed with shouts of "He is risen! He is risen indeed!!!" throughout the hour. Children were confirmed as almost every parishioner stood around with their hands laid upon them as the pastor prayed and anointed the young with oil. Hymns were sung, affirmations pronounced, praises and concerns lifted and prayers offered. It was during the pastoral prayer that I felt the need to look up. When I did, I almost came undone. There at the altar kneeled a shoeless shepherd interceding for his beloved sheep. Oh, my goodness. My heart nearly exploded at this point as I saw being played out before my eyes what we were celebrating: Jesus interceding for humanity. A Shepherd for His sheep.

The sermon was all I expected and more as the pastor not only captivated his listeners but was himself engaged in the story of the resurrection. Someone had asked him earlier how he could do 4 sermons in one morning. His response: "Because they won't let me do 15!" But even as powerful as the sermon was and as strong as the given imperative mandate, that was still not the highlight for me.

As the offering was being received, the small choir of 11 members stood to sing. Almost immediately, the sound began lifting the rafters as the exuberant voices sang, "Glory Hallelujah! He's Alive!" Not only was the news coming from their mouths, it was shining through each face. But what did it for me was the solo by one of the elderly ladies in the group. Her voice rang above the others as she sang counterpoint to the rest of the choir. "Glory hallelujah! He's alive!!!" Was her voice what it was 30 or 40 years ago? I highly doubt it. In fact, probably much of what she had is gone. But over and over she sang it, and with each repetition, I found myself whispering louder and louder, "Praise You, Lord. Praise You, Lord." For crying out loud, less than 36 hours before I had spent worshiping with the likes of Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman, but none of it compared to this moment on Easter Sunday.

Yes, Jesus died and bore the sin of the world. Hallelujah. But He didn't stop there. He sanctioned life by rising again. And that's what blew me away this particular morning. You see, so often the elderly are cast aside as not important, as if they have nothing to offer. We see this so much in our culture. And sadly we're seeing it more and more in our churches as well. But this peculiar morning, I witnessed the validation of a life of one who obviously loves Jesus and was willing to shout it to the rooftops in a voice that spoke more than just her age. It spoke her heart. "Glory hallelujah! He's alive!"

Just an ordinary moment...

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Passionate Good Friday

I'm not one to normally to pick up and go, but the opportunity presented itself Thursday evening at dinner, and so I took care of some necessary commitments, threw a few things in a bag, and headed out the door the next morning to Atlanta. The occasion was a friend's extra ticket allowing me to enter the gates of the Verizon Amphitheater for Passion's Good Friday service. The Easter weekend/summer break traffic was horrific, but good company and a heart full of joy over such trivial matters made the trip easy and short. (And now I can say I've actually been through the metropolis of Locust Grove.)

I have to admit I've never stood in line to get into a church service. Not until now anyway.
Fortunately, Julie and I didn't have to fight for our seats. (If anyone knows me well, they know I'm serious when I say that.) It's all who you know -- and we knew the right person this time.
They don't start until Julie's son Jonathan says "Okay."

Okay, so he does have a boss who gives the final word: Shelley Giglio. A beautiful woman who glows with Christ. (L-R) Me, Jonathan, Julie and Shelley

The grassy knoll was covered with souls eager to worship. I wonder if this in any way resembled the mount when Jesus taught the multitudes.
It was an amazing evening to say the least. I normally don't take pictures in worship services, but for the sake of the blog, I did manage to snap a few shots during the 4 hour service.
Chris Tomlin

Matt Redman

Kristian Stanfield

These 3 guys, along with their worship teams, ushered us into the Presence. As Louie calls it, they were the "door holders."

Louie Giglio

And Louie led us to the cross. Rejoice with me for the lives that were exchanged this night.

It was a night filled with singing, with dancing, with shouting, with bowing, with offerings, with tears, with joy. It was a moment of looking back as well as forward, of knowing I no longer have to "do" because it has been done. It was a powerful evening ending with a huge exclamation mark as all the stops were pulled and the noise resounded far into the night skies toward the heavenlies. It was a night of worship, the kind where every vibration was felt and every emotion experienced.

And yet, in these last moments before the Easter shout is heard, I take one more look upon God's Son, His broken body, His bruised face, His bleeding head, His open side, and His hands and feet split open with nails -- and there is no response but silence. Anything else would be inadequate.

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven ... a time to be silent ... (Eccl. 3:1, 7b)

Just an ordinary moment...

Thursday, April 1, 2010


A number of years ago, our middle child was playing football in our neighbor's backyard when he stepped in an ash pile. Coals from the trash heap were still simmering from the burning that had taken place earlier that week when Robert went after the ball and inadvertently (so he says) jumped in the middle of the mound. Quite surprisingly, one of the hot coals lodged in the top of his shoe under the tongue and began searing into his foot. Even today, he carries a nice pretty scar from the wound he received that summer morning. I'm sure he remembers the pain of the burn each time he looks at it, as well as the fact that he couldn't wear a shoe for months. And surely we all recall the numerous washings and bandaging and doctor visits in Savannah. But we also remember gathering around him as a family and speaking "life" into that dead place so he wouldn't have need of a skin graft, and then witnessing to a stunned specialist about the power of prayer and of a faithful God as the doctor looked in awe at the new bud of flesh breaking through that which was so dead.

We all have our wounds. I have them; you have them. Some are worse than others, but the fact remains: wounds happen and when they do, they hurt.

I have been carrying around a wound now for a year; one that goes deep, but not physically so. In fact, as the Psalmist says, it was "a man like myself, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked together in the house of God." Yes, I think those are some of the toughest wounds because they are so relational. I've considered the pain of this wound. It manifests itself in a number of ways: anger, resentment, a desire for revenge. And no doubt, it steals even my peace. Yes, wounds are painful. They rob the inflicted of wholeness.

But I'm reminded this Maundy Thursday that by His stripes, His wounds, I am healed. And as I approach resurrection morning, I also bring to mind that those wounds were not removed when He arose in His glorious state. In fact, they became part of His glory; even the way He made Himself known to His disciples when He showed them His hands and His feet. So could it be that my own places of injury are destined not as roadblocks, but to become glorified -- and just as Jesus was identified by His, so will I be identified by mine in my eternal life in God?

Yes, only an all-knowing, loving, compassionate God can take such woundedness, such pain, such brokenness -- whether it be a foot or a heart -- and bring glory. That's enough to make me want to shout an early, "Hallelujah!"

Just an ordinary moment...