Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Friends Are Friends Forever...If the Lord's the Lord of Them!

There is a certain grief that cannot be understood unless you experience it.  I have experienced all kinds of grief in my years on this earth.   Each has its own special feeling.  As a child we moved a lot and I lost places and people who had been a part of me.  In high school a hurricane changed life for my whole community.  In college, I lost the love of my life and thought I would never recover from it as he moved on to better things.  The grief of death came later in life when I lost my parents 6 weeks apart the year I turned 40. 

Today, I am experiencing another kind of grief I didn’t know could hurt so badly. I grew up an only child (I had a half-brother but he never lived with us).   Growing up like this, you tend to be different than other kids because you hang with grown-ups all the time and you tend to attach yourself to friends more strongly than others with siblings might.  Your friends become “brothers and sisters” with whom you share your life dreams, your hurts, and joys. 

I have lots of people in my life with whom I have great relationships but there have been only a very small handful who have been those with whom I share the deepest parts of my soul.  These friendships are different and carry with them a grief I didn’t understand.

When someone is dying, there is an outcry for prayer for the family…and this is certainly needed.  Losing a family member is traumatic.  I know how the prayers help to comfort and to give peace in these terrible times.  I also join with others to pray for the family of a lost one.

Recently, however, I stood next to the coffin of one of the closest friends I have ever had.  She took with her to her grave confidences no one else knew.  She shared my deep feelings, hurts and listened patiently to my confessions of insecurity and despair.  I in turned listened to her and wept with her over struggles she had.  She was closer than any sister I could have ever had. (at least I think so, since I never had one!)

This grief has affected me in ways I never thought losing “just a friend” would.
  • Sunday, I was tempted to text her when my Saints were losing… she would have texted me back saying, “Breathe!” and I would.  Sunday, I got no such text even after they won and I found myself grieving.  No one understood my silly obsession with the Saints like she did.  She had the same obsession for her Rebels!!
  •  I spoke at her funeral and wanted so much for her to tell me that I could do it…she understood how insecure I am and chided me for it regularly…no one else will do that because no one else understands how little confidence I have.  For this I grieve.
  • I grieve over the loss of sharing those deep things…about our lives, our families, and most importantly, our faith.  She would listen to me share a scripture that had spurred an excitement I had to tell and she would answer with an excitement of her own about what God said to her just that day…often with the same scripture.  I will miss our conversations about God’s Word and what God was doing in our lives!
  •  I grieve over the loss of laughing together until our sides hurt…mostly over things we had done or said…we were both blondes and those times came often!  We also would just understand something when we saw it and would burst into spontaneous laughter!  Laughter was so important in our lives…I will miss that.

God understood my feeling out of place the day of her funeral because He sent a few people who came to me to say they were praying for me in MY loss.  I cannot tell you how those words washed over me like a balm.  They understood the connection of friendship and they ministered to me in ways they will never understand. 

I wonder if I will ever have anyone again like this in my life.  Probably not.  Just like her family will never have another mother, sister or wife.  There is a hole left when someone like this leaves your life.  Grief comes, and all of us will eventually return to life, but it will never quite be the same. 

This writing is not to complain or to want sympathy but to rejoice in the fact that I am grieving…because in this grief, it means that I had this kind of relationship this side of heaven.  I rejoice in the fact that there was someone who made my life better just by being a part of it.  This is a rare blessing and I do not take it lightly.  Proverbs says, “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.”  I believe I had a friend that stuck closer than a sister.  Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to experience this in my life.

If you have a friend like this, cherish that relationship…spend time with them even if you are too busy.  Pick up the phone, call, and catch up.  It is a gift from God!!

If you do not have a friend like this, cultivate one.  It will take time, trust and transparency.  You might have been hurt before by someone…don’t let that stop you. Find ONE.  If you when you die you have ONE person like I described, you will have been rich beyond measure.  

So, to friendship!  I will see you again, sweet friend, and we will have an early breakfast and talk through the lunch crowd again--- if Jesus lets us!  Until then, I miss you.

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Irony Is Too Much

Being in Women’s Ministry, I get to see women at their best and women at their worst.  God gave me a heart for women…for their insecurities (which I often suffer) for the parenting issues, aging issues, friend’s issues and the list goes on.  Women it seems are never satisfied with the way God made them and that makes them vulnerable to women who seem to have it together.  When these insecurities raise their ugly heads, I have found that comparisons begin to take shape.  You know what I mean: If I could be skinny like… If my husband was like… If my children were like…  If I lived there, then… If I had a college degree and this list has no end.  When we do our own comparisons and don’t measure up then we get the jealousies going…which lead to turning into mean girls. 

Now, none of that is new.  It has been going on since the beginning of time and most women struggle with some of these issues throughout their lives. God has and will show Himself faithful in over-coming them.  There is, however, among Christian women, a new comparison, which is causing unneeded comparisons and divisions.  It is the most ironic comparison I have ever seen. I was faced with it last week and I walked away shaking my head in disbelief. 

Before I tell you what it is, let me also mention that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made and each of us has a preferred way of learning. We are unique and often “one size does NOT fit all!”   Being an educator, I know there are different learning styles and when I teach I try to incorporate a bit of all of them when possible.

We also are in different stages of our lives…a single woman is different than a mother with an infant, who is different than a mother with teenagers and still yet different than a retired person.  Each is in a different stage of life.  Time constraints are different in each stage.  Some women are working while others stay at home.  All of this to say, while women are the same we are all different in our needs and abilities afforded to us.

I love studying the Bible…those who know me know I am also a theology geek. My personal method is expository study.  I love to look up the Greek and Hebrew meanings of words and search out truly what the verses are saying…in context and in original language.  I have time to do that BUT I didn’t when my children were 3 and 4.  I studied what I could, in the bathroom, in-between crises!!  When I taught school and volunteered to make sure my kids were supervised, my time was limited.  I found more time to get into the Word of God but it still wasn’t hours on end!  God understood and filled me with Himself in the time I had.  He was with me 24/7 reminding me of His words to encourage and keep me going as I navigated my busy life.  My ministry then was raising my children and God’s word was there to help me do that to the best of my ability.

My ministry now is to women…those who are young mothers…those who have teenagers, those who are going through the empty nest…  Women who feel they aren’t as good as other women, as smart as other women, as pretty as other women are my ministry. That is why this new comparison bothers me so much.

Are you ready??  This comparison is the method we use in Bible study!  We are blessed in this day and age to have so many strong, biblically sound* resources available to us.  No other generation has had the volume of studies in various learning styles. We should be so glad but instead we are like college sororities creating “Bible study cliques”.   I am sure you have seen it: The two most popular are:  Beth Moore groups and the Kay Arthur, Precepts groups.  There are more but these are the most prevalent.

Both Beth Moore and Kay Arthur love the Lord with everything they have within them.  Both have wisdom to share…so do Priscilla Shirer, Jennifer Rothschild, and many more.  God has gifted this generation with many women who have an ability to make the Bible come to life and therefore make us grow spiritually.  They are just different in their approach just as we are different in our learning styles.

II Timothy 3:16-17 says:  All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training the righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

Notice it doesn’t say it is useful if you use Precepts, Topical, or an Expository method.  The Word of God is to equip us for every good work. The Holy Spirit will use whatever scripture we put into our minds, no matter how it gets into us!  Let’s be very careful to not put God into our own comfortable little Bible study box for that is when pride will take over.  If your method is biblically sound use it.  Make sure that what you study changes you and equips you for every good work!  Make sure you are not putting others down spiritually because they don’t use your methodology. Watch out for Bible study cliques…for they exclude instead of include.

Isn’t it ironic that again what should unite us, satan uses to divide us.  Be watchful for his devices!

Now, go get some of His Word into you so you can be equipped.

  *There are studies that are opinions and not sound theology.  I do NOT endorse those. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Too Old to Sin???

I have gotten to the point where I blog only when something really bothers me!!  You know, when the Holy Spirit won't let something go!  Today is one of those days...and if I am honest, one of those months.

Sometimes I get defensive when I hear young(er) people talk about how judgmental the church is. You see, I try my very best to look at each person and see them as Jesus does.  I don't always succeed, but I do try. So, I become defensive...that is until this month.  God allowed me to over-hear and see some things that showed me that maybe the "church" is judgmental.  Stay with me.

After our Easter service a comment was made that it is so much more worshipful when we are dressed nicely and in robes and the next week some women began counting the number of women in pants and the number in skirts with those in skirts being the more spiritual.  I laughed that off.  But then last night I over-heard this comment, "The person speaking tonight only talked about sin.  Can you believe that? He was talking to a group of senior adults about sin?"

That was when it really began to bother me because I think I finally got what those outside the church meant!  We in the church think we can get too old to sin!!  (tongue firmly planted in my cheek!) We (because the church is one and is judged by every member) also believe only young people sin and we must always call them out on their wayward ways.  We seem to be saying, "We older people have arrived."

That just might be what is happening in our congregations, we think we have arrived.  It reminds me of what the angel said to the Church at Ephesus:  "Yet I have this against you. You have forsaken your first love.  Remember the height from which you have fallen!  Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from it's place." Rev 2: 4-5

When we forget that it is about Jesus we lose our light. When we forget where we have come from, we will look at others in a prideful way.  Pride goes before a fall, removing God's lampstand in the process.  The lampstand is the light that leads others to Christ.   We need to always remember who we are in relationship with a Holy God We have no right to think more highly of ourselves than we do others.  As a matter of fact, the opposite holds true: we look at those who are caught in sin and remember our own behaviors and we have nothing but mercy on them not judgement.  As James 2 says, Judgement without mercy will only lead to us being judged without mercy.  I love James 2: 13 "Mercy triumphs over judgement!"

I am not judging these sweet people...they are just deluded into thinking that because they have gone to church FOREVER that they don't have to worry about sin. Many think of only outward behaviors. Those are easy to spot but the sin of bitterness, anger, unwholesome talk, and pride far outweigh those outward sins.  These sins come from deep within the heart and cause our lights to go out.  Instead of drawing people toward Jesus, we push them away.  The Pharisees were experts at this and Jesus had some very harsh words to say to them.

So, do we get too old to sin?  I don't!  I need to be reminded of how far God has brought me and thank Him for it.  I need to be reminded, for as long as God leaves me here, I will struggle with the enemy.  Sometimes the enemy wins and that saddens me but it keeps me on my toes...reaching out to God for wisdom and strength and His MERCY.

I apologize to those who think we are judgmental...my eyes have been opened.  I know I have not yet reached His goal. For you who have not gotten there either, I would love for you to run along with me as we, together press on toward the mark of the Glory of God.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why I Disappeared!!

Yesterday I “disappeared” from any social media to show what it is like to have someone disappear from your life.  Every day this happens….as a matter of fact one of my facebook friends posted that her daughter had been missing since the day before.  She was an honor student and had lots of things she was involved in that were positive.  She just disappeared with no trace.  Sadly, this is happening more and more in our country.  And while what I am going to state in this blog is not the situation for some of these disappearances, for a huge number it is. 

Human trafficking is becoming epidemic in our world.  What is it? Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings. It has been perpetrated mainly for the purposes of sexual slavery or forced labor; other purposes include extraction of organs or tissues and even surrogacy and ova removal.

While we want to pretend that everything is fine in our little world, it behooves us to realize that even in our communities this heinous situation exists.  There are transport trucks passing us on interstates filled with victims of this industry…and yes, it is an industry.  Big money.  But there can only be an industry where there are customers and that is a secondary purpose of this blog.  We have so taken purity lightly that sexual appetites have gone wild.  God set boundaries for His people but many have broken those boundaries and we are reaping the devastation.  Now, I am not saying that we, ourselves, have participated in pornography or an illicit lifestyle, but not teaching or standing for purity has caused a lethargy toward what is truly destroying many lives.  Our uncomfortable feeling toward standing against what God had deemed detrimental to our lives is showing what can happen.  The world would say it is ok and that anyone who stands against such things is “old Fashioned” but the ONE who made us knows what will destroy us.   Not standing for values is the same as saying they don’t matter.  

So, how does this start?  It starts by letting loose of morals one step at a time…by accepting them as normal and perhaps laughing at them.  Once a sin is laughed at, it tends to no longer be looked upon as a sin.  (just watch the new comedies on TV!) It is that first look at a magazine…or reading “that” book…or watching “that” movie.  Our boundaries are eroded bit by bit.  For men, it might start with the computer until seeing sexual images becomes an addiction…they then not only want to “see” but want to “experience” and so on.  I need not to go farther with this…you get the idea.  The scripture says, “God gave them over to their evil desires” and we are seeing the harvest.  Many innocent girls and boys are sacrificed for lusts needing to be satisfied and the industry grows. We need to begin working on the cause and not just the effects.  Begin standing for what is pure and wholesome and stand against the evil one. 

So, what can we to do to fight what is already an epidemic?  First of all, get your head out of the sand and see that this is truly modern day slavery and it is happening right in your back yard.  Secondly, educate yourself about who these enslaved people are. Perhaps some are those missing girls you hear about or perhaps the next time you get your pedicure, wonder if the woman at your feet is there by her own will or by the force of others on her life. Let the Holy Spirit guide you.  Thirdly, check out web-sites on human trafficking and spread the news. Lastly, be aware and pray for a stop to this illegal trade.   Mississippi has two bills right now concerning this.  Here is a plea from Sandra Nash:

 I received the following from an attorney with the MS Attorney General's office in regard to the Human Trafficking bill-- “I don’t think either the Senate or House has considered the other chamber’s bills, yet. The house bill has been referred to Senate Jud B, and the senate bill to House Jud. B. Continuing the phone calls expressing your concerns regarding this issue is extremely important; we don’t want this to fade from their radar….
During the session, when each chamber passes a bill, it must be transmitted to the other chamber for consideration. The bills are then referred to a committee. Our HB 673 has been referred to senate jud b, and SB 2719 has been referred to house jud b. The deadline for these committees to act on the bills is March 5th! The next deadline will be March 13th, which is the deadline for floor action on these bills in each chamber. “

I found the names of the committee members and how to contact them; I hope you will make some contacts and let them know we need to pass the Trafficking Bill.

Members of House Judiciary B
Andy Gipson, Chairman; Kimberly Campbell Buck, Vice-Chairman
Members: Willie Bailey; Nick Bain; David Baria; Charles Busby; Gary Chism; Dennis DeBar; Casey Eure; Jeffrey S. Guice; Joey Hood; Kevin Horan; Timmy Ladner; Sherra Hillman Lane; Sam C. Mims, V; Alex Monsour; John L. Moore; Brad A. Oberhousen; Ferr Smith; Greg Snowden; Tommy Taylor; Joseph L. Warren; Jason White; Adrienne Wooten; Henry Zuber III
To find the phone number or e-mail address for the above Representatives go to http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/hr_membs.xml
Members of Senate Judiciary, Division B
Hob Bryan, Chairman; Chris McDaniel, Vice-Chairman
Members: David Blount; Sally Doty; Angela Burks Hill; W. Briggs Hopson III; Sampson Jackson II; Perry Lee; Derrick T. Simmons; Sean J. Tindell; Gray Tollison; Giles Ward; Michael Watson; Brice Wiggins; J. P. Wilemon, Jr.
To find the phone number or e-mail address for the above Senators go to http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/ss_membs.xml
Thank you for your help!

There has been some bits of good news!  During the Super Bowl (one of the industries most profitable weekends) women all over New Orleans were out on the streets fighting this plague and just by telling others this exists great strides were made to help fight this evil.

I disappeared from Face book for one day.  Some people missed me, I hope.  But everyday children and women go missing and never show up again.  Often they are thrown out after their usefulness is gone.  Pray for these.  Pray for those on the front lines fighting this.  Pray for yourself that you will not be so calloused that you do not care.  I will be back on face book…but I will never take my freedom for granted.

God cares about this and so should we.  Commit to pray for this and perhaps one day we can feel safe again.  Until then, watch, teach your children God’s way but also teach them to stay safe and away from strangers. 

For more information, please check out the follow sites:

Also, if you are on Face Book and from the Jackson area, go “like”

·      Metro Advocates for Freedom
·      SWAT Ministries  (Spiritual Warriors Against Trafficking)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Why I Love Football!!

People often ask me why I like football so much.  It is a valid question for I am female and involved in Women’s Ministry…shouldn’t I love shoe shopping instead??  At first I didn’t think it strange that I had this love but I must admit my conversations concerning the last SEC or NFL playoff game with other women tend to be very short.  When I try to talk to men, they just look at me like I am sporting one eye in the middle of my forehead!  It could be a very lonely existence but God has been gracious to give me one girlfriend who loves football as much as I do, so I don’t feel completely alone.  This season, however, I began to ask myself the same question, “Why do I like football so much?”  I often say because my daddy did…and he liked it but his favorite sport was World Federation Wrestling and  (to the relief of all my family) I don’t follow that at all.  So, why do I?  It is not to support my husband because he really could care less…he will watch it with me but would rather watch Pawn Stars or Duck Dynasty! (a blog for another time!)  I would like to think it is because I am supporting “my” team…but it really doesn’t matter who is playing…I get involved.  Now, I LOVE the Saints which brings another dynamic into the mix…  So, I went to my little quiet place where I contemplate the big things in life and asked myself, “Why?”  Here is what I came up with!!

·      I love that at the beginning of each game there is hope!!  The scoreboard is even…the field is freshly painted and the crowds are cheering and hoping for a victory!!  It is like the life God gives us through His Son!  We start out each day with a clean slate and the hope that today we are going to win the race!! 

·      I love that like life, there is going to be opposition to getting to the goal line.  It excites me to see the players pushing on to the goal without giving up.  I used to love to watch Deuce McAllister carry an entire defensive line on top of him as he moved closer to the line that would bring a first down or a touchdown.  I want to be that person…one who will push on…one who won’t give up when it gets hard.

·      I love that even after a mistake (interception, fumble, or missed tackle) that the players come back out on the field and play like it never happened.  This is where I really wish I could would learn the lesson because often in my life when I mess up (happens a lot!!)  I just want to go to the sidelines and have a pity party…I want to just quit the game rather than go onto the next play.  People like Drew Brees, who comes back every time, inspire me! 

·      I love it when my team wins!!  But I also realize for that to happen another team must lose and believe me, I find myself feeling sorry for particular players on the other team who played their best and still lost!  When I have victories in my life I want to shout it from the rooftops but I want to be aware that there are those who have fought hard and still their victory hasn’t come.  I don’t want to be so consumed with my life that I forget those who are struggling to find some small victory…I want to urge them on to try again.

·      Finally, I have learned that sometimes my team doesn’t win!  (this year has been a great example of this lesson!!!)  I often say, “Next year!”  and I mean it.  It is also like life…sometimes things don’t turn out like we thought it was going to at the start but God in His graciousness, gives us more games to play.  I want to learn from my losses---not wallow in them.  I want to become better because I learned what to do and what NOT to do next time!  Most of all, I don’t want to just stop playing the game.  Many of us do that when our losses become more than our victories…I feel like doing that but then I look at my Saints…who lost more games than they won even to the point of being called “the “aints!”  The fans returned every year with hopes of a winning season time after time only to go home empty handed.  But then came that year!!!  We didn’t know what to do with win after win…then the playoffs…then the Super Bowl.  Finally, we had a victory after years of defeat. 

And after that big win life hit hard again and it starts all over because victories in this life are short-lived…and for many teams it is back to “next year!” 

I guess that is why I love football…the hope that it can be better next time…if we listen to our Coach….work hard to prepare and don’t give up!!   Paul said it best in Philippians 4:13  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  It is not about giving up….it is about pressing on toward the goal!!!  I guess I just took that goal literally. 
So this New Year, learn the lessons of football and Geaux Saints!!!!