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

Monday, July 19, 2010

Two Missionaries -- One Mission

Missionary #1: Kristin
Kristin is married to my son Robert. In fact, the way they were introduced was by the Rev. Bill Strickland, her pastor at the time, as he pointed at Robert and said, "There's your man." Of course, he was speaking of the male chaperon she needed to accompany her and her youth group to Costa Rica that year and not the man she would marry. However, as God would have it, Bill was more prophetic than he knew and my son ended up fulfilling both of those positions.

But missions had been on Kristin's heart way before Robert entered the picture. As a youth pastor, she has ministered on numerous occasions with sometimes lengthy stays in Costa Rica and has led teams to Guatemala, Honduras, and Mississippi post Katrina, just to name a few. And today as I write, she and a team from her church in Marietta, GA are in Scotland holding a youth camp. They are not only spending long hours of the days and evenings with these teens through worship, fun and fellowship, they are praying mightily that these young men and women would encounter Jesus and grow in their love for Him; that they would be awakened and revival would come to their very spiritually dark land. Just this morning, I was able to tune into their midst through a live feed and actually watch Kristin on the other side of the world share her personal testimony with these campers and beckon them to a love relationship with Jesus that is real. A relationship she knows only too well herself; one that defines her as His beloved and He as hers. How proud I was and am of this little tiger who doesn't even stand five feet tall except when she's wearing her "big girl shoes" (meaning high heals). God knows that she's huge in the kingdom.

Missionary #2: Adrianne
Adrianne is married to our oldest child Charles. I was just plum tickled when they started dating because I was sure Charles would never get a woman after I witnessed him making her pay for her own cappuccino at a local coffee shop. He kept assuring me it wasn't a date. And she did confide later that she was still "attached" to another and that this was a just a "ministry" meeting. Yeah, right. Let's just say I couldn't enjoy my own non-fat decaf 2 pump sugar free caramel macchiato for the less than intelligent move on my son's part. But all's well that ends well, and here we are 3 years into a marriage. And what a treasure she is.

As far as I know, Adrianne has never left the country; but her role as missionary is not defined by acquired air miles or passport stamps. She ministers daily as an administrative assistant to the pastor of a vibrant church in Macon, GA. Nights often find her hosting a ladies' Bible study or holding a girls' small group in her home when she's not attending her husband's youth group meetings -- generally just filling the role of a young youth pastor's wife.

But lately Adrianne has added yet another role to her resume: that of caring for her mother who was diagnosed earlier this year with stage 4 cancer. Being an only child and her mother's only caretaker during this time, Adrianne has stepped in with a vigor and call that equals the work and duty of any missionary on any foreign soil. Each day after work, she drives the 20 miles home and then another 15 to cook and take care of her mom, seeing her in bed and settled before she returns home to her own chores and bed. To me she exemplifies John 15:13 which says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friend."

I could not be more proud of my two daughters-in-love. Servants in the Lord's eyes and champions in mine. Two missionaries. Yet one mission: to be the hands, the feet and the heart of Jesus. He and I sure do love these girls.

Now tell me, where is God performing His miracle mission with you?

Just an ordinary moment...

Friday, July 9, 2010

Second Chances

Like anybody else, I have pockets of remembrances. Vivid images that remain planted in my brain of past childhood experiences. Some good; some not so good. One such "not so good" memory is that of my standing in the hall in grammar school and laughing at a classmate. But I wasn't the only one. The entire class had joined in on this particular occasion. Laughing. Making fun of someone who was totally humiliated and embarrassed by a situation that was common to him yet beyond his control. I don't know why that particular image has stuck with me, but in the last couple of years, it has not only planted itself there, it has haunted me. And so I began conversing with the Lord about it. I begged Him to forgive me for such disgusting and insensitive behavior and asked Him to heal in this man now in his early 50's any wounds that may still be causing him pain or discomfort. And then I added, "And, Lord, if You should see fit for this individual and my paths to cross again, I promise You I will make a personal apology to him." Seeing that I had not even seen nor heard of this classmate in over 40 years, I really didn't expect that last portion of my prayer to materialize. In fact, I assumed it was quite a safe prayer to pray. I thought God would surely take care of the situation in an "internal" manner. So you can imagine my surprise when some time later, this man's name popped up in my facebook sidebar as someone I might know. I think my first thought was, "Well, darn it."

And so I sent a friend request thinking he probably wouldn't even remember who I was. It didn't take long to receive the acceptance of friendship, and there I sat. What in heaven's name do I do now? Well, I figured if God had fulfilled His part, I ought to own up to mine. And so I wrote one of the strangest letters I think I've ever scripted and asked for forgiveness from this one whom I had surely offended some four decades ago with my heartless behavior. I prayed for mercy -- both for me and him, hoping I wasn't opening any old wounds -- and I hit the "send" button.

Time passed to the point that I actually forgot I had even written the note, until about 2 weeks later when I received a very gracious response from this one whom I had abused. His reply was evidence that God had surely done the work in this classmate's life way before He did the work in mine. The Lord not only gave my friend a second chance, He gave me one as well. I could not have been more grateful.

Why all this about second chances? Because I need another one.

Present day. Last week my husband and I took a little day trip and ended up visiting a Farmer's Market in a small community on a square. While most farmers and artisans were beginning to take down their tents and pack up to go home, one remained with all his wares in place. As I was looking at his goods, he engaged me in conversation about his material. When I looked up at him, I became immediately aware that this man was very different from me. Without going into detail, just know that my mind was racing and turning a thousand different ways, not knowing exactly what to make of the situation nor how to respond. And so I carried on politely before walking away.

What makes me so stinking mad about all of this is the later realization of my own depravity. God revealed to me my heart; and it was ugly. I walked away having labeled this man a freak, because I looked upon the outward, when what he really is on the inside is a precious child of God crying out for identity -- "Who am I?" This was indeed one of those moments that Bruce Wilkinson writes about in You Were Born for This. I had prayed "Send me, Lord" and then walked away from the very miracle mission He had for me. And by doing so, I missed out on being a conduit of God's incredible grace and magnificent love.

So here's the deal. In our short exchange under that tent, I discovered that this talented and creative craftsman is moving within 2 miles of my own home. So I'm asking God for a second chance. For if He can orchestrate and bridge a 40 year lapse, certainly He can arrange yet another divine appointment within a much shorter period of both time and space. And until then, you can bet my eyes will be wide open in anticipation and expectation.

O God, give me a second chance to be a living link between heaven and earth!

Just an ordinary moment...

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Normally when I travel to North Carolina with my husband on his business trips, I take lots of books, and except for the occasional midday walk to town for lunch, I stay cloistered in my hotel room overlooking the marina doing what I love doing -- reading and watching the boats come and go. And so once again, my man loaded my portable "book case" into the back of his truck and we were off. And the first day, I did just that.

This particular trip, I took such as Francine Rivers' The Atonement Child, Bruce Wilkinson's You Were Born for This, and Sybil MacBeth's Praying in Color ... to name a few. I also had my new sketchbook and a host of magazines for journaling.

It's what I love doing. I also love eating. And so on my first day alone, off I went for lunch; but on this particular outing, I was in for a greater blessing than reading or eating. God was about to treat me with His own flesh and blood.

Meet Russell and Dorry. Russell is one of the first people I ever met -- literally -- when I went to New Bern, NC some 5 years ago. At the time, he was the bellman at the Sheraton (now Hilton) when we checked in. He's a retired accountant who never meets a stranger and can even be found walking the neighbor's dog at night on the grounds of the hotel. He's also the one who suggested I try Stanly Hall Cafe this particular trip and their chocolate grits. (I'm forever indebted for that one, Russell!)

He and Dorry own Bear Essentials down on Middle Street, which, yes, runs smack dab through the middle of downtown. I never miss the opportunity to visit the shop. One knows right away upon entering that it's a special place. Herbal teas and organic chocolates are just the beginning of this sensory experience as the smell of essential oils from the candles and natural bath products send the olfactory nerve into a heaven all its own. But it's Doree's calming countenance and soft voice that puts it over the edge and makes anyone's day slow down and cause them to experience the moment. And whether I leave empty handed or with a bag slung over my arm, I always leave feeling refreshed after having visited with this woman.

Meet Emily.
Carved into the building just behind Bear Essentials is Etched in Time Designs. Having just located to their new location downtown, this was my first visit with this vivacious lady and her joy-filled husband Joe. After looking at a few of their items, I commented, "Y'all must be Methodist!" It was then that Joe popped his head around the door from the back room and looked to see who would make such a brash statement. Sure enough, he's a retired United Methodist minister now serving the community at Bridgeton UMC just across the river.

What an absolute delight it was spending time with this precious couple and hearing their stories. No doubt, there was a kindred spirit an immediate bond that can come only from the indwelling Holy Spirit who binds us together. I just love that about the Body and I'm always so grateful for such opportunities to meet siblings in Christ -- and this was no exception. When I went back the following morning for a picture, Joe was unavailable. He was teaching Bible study. But Emily and I had a few more good laughs, and I'm already looking forward to my next trip back and throwing my arms around both of them.

Meet Patti.
Every time I've been to New Bern, I've wanted to check out The Next Chapter Bookstore, but always hit at an inopportune time -- until now. And what a treat it was. I was the only customer in this used bookstore for a period, and so I just pulled up a stool and made myself at home. But as much as I enjoyed looking through the mass assortment of books, the thrill was meeting this beautiful northern transplant and just chatting -- for an hour and a half! We determined quite quickly that the War of Northern Aggression was over and I was able to admit my gratitude that my side actually lost. Patti and I share a love for learning and for books. She told me about the ones she was reading right now and I told her of mine -- and we each wrote the other's down. I found a sweet spirit in this lady and am looking forward to more hours of communion.

Yes, it was a delightful day of new relationships founded and old ones renewed. It was an afternoon of restoration and joy. It was a day when the Lord brought His children across each others paths to nourish and sustain and, quite frankly, to bring healing to a weary traveler.

And so I bless each of you: Russell, Dorry, Joe, Emily and Patti. Each of you in your own right is an ambassador and you greeted well this stranger to your land. I pray that the Lord's favor would be upon you and that everything that you put your hand to He would establish and cause to succeed. May you know His great love for you and may you walk in a greater awareness of His presence with you, for each of you is the apple of His eye and His desire is for you. Thank you for welcoming this sojourner into your life on such a hot and muggy June afternoon and allowing the Lord to use you to bring restoration to this body, soul and spirit.

And to the rest of my readers, you, too, are ambassadors, and I exhort you to pay attention to the people who come across your path this week. After all, it just might be a God-thing. In fact, I have every suspicion it will be nothing less.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
for which I am an ambassador...

(Eph. 6:19-20)

Just an ordinary moment...