A Reminder Tucked Away…

I found a note when cleaning out my wallet the other day. I have tons of these sweet memorabilia tucked away, from the tulip drawn by granddaughter Hollyn when she was four to the ticket stub from our last date night. I’m a sentimentalist and treasure these things above all other.

But this note held even more meaning because it was a message from the Lord.

It was a simple yet direct word that He gave shortly after we moved to the Coast, in my first few weeks of ministry.

Many will come bearing no fruit. Be not dismissive, neither waste your time.

I absolutely love how the Lord can say in 13 words what would take me two pages to explain. That short message was prophetic, warning, and encouraging at once.

Many will come:  Some were coming FOR help; some were coming TO help.

bearing no fruit: They were saying the right things but their actions didn’t line up. Some were deliberately deceitful; some truly believed they were in the right spirit. (This also alludes to the fact that some WILL come bearing fruit.)

Be not dismissive: Be compassionate. Don’t get mad at the blind man for not being able to see. Do what you can to help….

neither waste your time: ….but don’t spin your wheels. There are some you need to walk away from. There are others you must draw the line between helping and enabling. We offer a chance for a new life, the hope in Christ. We plant a seed; we sometimes stick around to water it. But we don’t plant, dig, replant, water, watch, fret, add fertilizer, water some more, pull the stem out of the ground…

It was a great message and it’s served me well. Looking back, I see many people who’ve come along to minister with us who’ve fallen by the wayside. They were on fire for the Lord and now they can’t be bothered to even get out of bed on Sunday mornings. I’ve seen others denounce Christ and begin practicing witchcraft. Others, ravenous wolves from the beginning, have had their sheep masks torn away.

But in the midst of it have been the ones who’ve bloomed much fruit. So much fruit that their fruit has poured over into our orchards! We’ve met some incredible people, many of whom are still in our lives today. There have been some whose journeys only briefly intersected with ours but we still shared the same goals.

Some of the ones I thought were great Christians were not. Some of the ones I thought were (um, shall we say…) “different” were actually wonderful servants of God.

I think this is why the Lord told me to be not dismissive. Because it wasn’t just about compassion, it was also about me not rushing to judgement. Sometimes it takes some time to see clearly.

But once you do, then you need to either grab on or go on.

But don’t waste your time!

Your Viewpoint Determines Your Life. It’s Not the Other Way Around.

What a week I just had!

And not in a wow-that-was-great-let’s-do-it-again kind of way.

It was sad. And scary. And stressful. And unending.

Yet in the midst of it all there was grace. And gratitude. And thankfulness. And laughter.

Have you ever seen the movie Flipped? It’s a coming-of-age story told between the perspectives of two young kids, a boy and a girl. Same events but different viewpoints.

Life is all about your perspective.

My week, in order:

One of my best friends ended up in ICU last week.

An old high school friend was diagnosed with cancer.

My mother suffered a stroke.

A dear friend died.

I could elaborate in my misery:

My friend ended up having to have a pacemaker put in. After promising to be there with her every step of the way, I ended up leaving town the next day. Her surgery was delayed several hours and we were terrified that the increased anxiety would lead to complications.

The cancer diagnosis came just a couple of years after she became a mom, a late in life baby who’d just begun to live as she now faces death.

My mom was five hours away and I was the last to arrive at the hospital. I was helpless, and afraid, and hated that I didn’t live closer. She’d just had a medical issue where a head injury required stitches and I hadn’t been there for that, just like I hadn’t been there the last couple of times she was hospitalized.

I was with my mom when I got the news of my friend’s death, unable to help her family with arrangements, too late to make that call to check on her, the one I’d been putting off. I knew she’d been once again battling the demons inside and it cost her her life.

This viewpoint is a completely negative, glass half-empty perspective.  Not to mention that every statement above is focused on how it makes ME feel, when the truth is, while I was affected by the events above, they aren’t even about me. Allowing yourself to look at life through this lens is not only bad for you, it’s sin.

For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;  Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ…      2 Corinthians 10:4-5

If I want a life filled with peace and joy and obedience to Christ, I have to change my perspective. The situations didn’t change- one friend still has cancer and the other is still gone way too soon-but there’s a lot to be grateful for as well.

My week through the eyes of Christ:

One of my best friends ended up in ICU last week. She had a pacemaker put in and the surgery went well. She’s at home recovering now and I’m planning a surprise movie afternoon for her later this week with her favorite dvds and snacks.

An old high school friend was diagnosed with cancer. She has a bevy of friends rallying to help her and her family with financial expenses, as well as meals and babysitting. With a new baby at home, her spirits and determination are high. I’ve been honored to be able to help plan a benefit, one of the things our ministry does often.

My mother suffered a stroke. She fully recovered. Every member of my family that lived nearby, along with many friends, was in the waiting room that afternoon showing their love and support for my parents. My sister lives near our parents and I am so grateful that she is there to take care of their day-to-day needs, along with my two youngest daughters. I was blessed to be able to spend the week in Louisiana, spending time with them in the hospital and helping out once Mom came home. We had some great family meals after Mom came home, without the usual family holiday stress! I even got to spend time with my grandsons and my great-nephew while I was in town. I 100% believe that Mom’s stroke happening at church, along with me getting the call while I was in my church, allowed for immediate prayers to reach the Throne, causing a miraculous healing. While her quick turnaround was more indicative of a mini-stroke, the MRI showed an incident that should’ve been far worse and was indeed a full-blown cerebrovascular accident.

A dear friend died. I won’t sugar-coat this one. It was tough. I know people say things like She’s in a better place and Her suffering is over. But I don’t know. I pray that she did accept Jesus as her Savior. I know that we talked about it many times. I’m grateful that I had the chance to know her. I’m thankful that we were able to spend time together, a couple of middle-aged women who loved playing games and riding go-carts! I know that she had a chance to come to the Lord, and I’m so glad that I was placed in her life during that time. I will forever be aware that sometimes God places people in our lives who will only be there for a short time and we should use that time wisely to share His Love and His Message.

In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul. Psalm 94:19

You can allow the devil to have free rein in your head. You can have a pity party and you can invite all your Facebook friends to join in with your woe-is-me posts. You can crank up the music that knows exactly how you are feeling and will commiserate with you. But make no mistake, you are only feeding your flesh and in your flesh is no good thing. (Romans 7:18)

If you want true comfort, the comfort that nourishes your soul, put your focus on Christ. Even in the midst of the hard times.

What’s Your Scene?

My husband and I went to the College Senior Bowl last week-end. I enjoyed the game but the rest of it was not my scene.

As we passed through throngs of people, the smell of alcohol wafting in the air and the deafening music assaulting my one good ear, I looked at him and asked, “Is it bad that I’d rather be home with the dogs?”

I really had to think about the answer for a moment because I feel it’s important not to waste my life away on my couch, that I get out and really experience life.

But this was not the place for me.

Everyone’s different, though. I mean, there are places that I love that aren’t really my husband’s cup of tea.

For example, our Ladies Group went bowling last week at a giant arcade. I loved it. I tried to get everyone to join in when I started singing “Hey Paulette, take a look over here…”

I mean, who doesn’t love an impromptu number from Grease 2?!

I also love going to the movies. I have no problem going to the movies alone. I laugh, I clap, I cry with strangers as we share a common experience. (I’ll also tell you to turn your phone off if the light is shining anywhere near me, but that’s another story.)

Game nights are one of my favorite things ever. I laugh, I have fun. I get a little crazy. I also get a little embarrassed about how much celebrity trivia I know but I’m too competitive to not answer a question I know the answer to! And I most definitely ALWAYS start singing my answers after a couple of hours!

Want to buy me the perfect gift? You’ll never go wrong with tickets to the Saenger in New Orleans. I spent my 30th birthday seeing Beauty and the Beast with my girls. They took me to Aladdin last year for Mother’s Day. You can put me in the orchestra or in the top row of the balcony, I’ll be happy either way…I absolutely love a good musical on stage.

This weekend, I’m headed to an SEC Gymnastics meet. I bought the tickets two months ago! I can list the names of every all-arounder in the SEC, tell you which girls were Olympic alternates and/or contenders, and who has scored perfect 10’s in the last two years. By the time the Olympic Trials are over this summer, I’ll know everything there is to know about the other three girls. (Simone Biles is a lock!) It’s my thing!

My point is this, God wants us to enjoy life. He wants us to have full, rich abundant lives. We can find things that we enjoy that aren’t contradictory to God’s Word and plant ourselves in the middle of its scenery!

Go out and enjoy life this week!