Posted in Journal

Love, given quietly

Last night I attended a community Thanksgiving Service at the church of my childhood. (Virtually, of course). Poplar Spring Baptist Church in Shelby, NC. Although more on the outskirts of Boiling Springs. It brought back so many great memories of Thanksgiving, Christmas plays and cantatas, Sunday night singings, dinners on the ground. Sunday School, Training Union, GAs and Acteens, Youth Choir.

Poplar Springs is the church where my dad and my brother were ordained. The church where my dad and my sister had their funerals and are now buried. The church that took us in and helped raise us after my dad died. The chuch where Dan and I were married. Then too, the church my mom and stepdad got married in. So many good people and so many good memories! I share this because since I am no longer there it is a piece of my life I have seldom revisited in person since I left Shelby in 1996. But, oh did that virtual visit make me homesick.

This is the church our family cleaned for years while my dad was preparing to go into the ministry. We cleaned every day of every week. Certain chores had to be done and we all had our assignments so that everything was nice and clean at service times and special times. We also did all the lawns, including the cemetery. Many were the days I sat out in the graveyard trimming the grass around tombstones with a pair of scissors.

Back then, we cleaned the toilets by hand, and there were about 20 of them. Cleaning toilets, though, in my opinion, was not the nastiest job – cleaning out the cigarette urns and picking up all the cigarette butts from the front steps was!!!! Boy, times have changed. Some say that change is not good, but I appreciate that there aren’t many men congregating outside on the church’s front steps to smoke these days.

I learned about missions and sharing the gospel, and I learned the Word of God at this church. I loved the youth group and youth choir, but as an awkward seventh grader, my parents had to force me to go because I was so shy. I am so glad they forced me. I learned to honor the elderly by visiting the shut-ins and the nursing home down the street. We didn’t do it just on special occasions. We just went. At first, I visited with my dad and later on my own. I have such good memories of those I met there.

I am so thankful for this place and all they instilled in me in those years. I am so grateful that they made sure I felt loved and cared for. These were a special people, and many (maybe most) have now moved on or passed on. Nothing much stayed the same except those stained glass windows and the pianist still playing all these years later. Oh yes….and what they placed in my heart. It is still there!

Love others and as God blesses you, bless others. Where would I be today had this church family not given sacrificially and faithfully to me and mine? They gave not just once but often over the years. These were not people that had great worldly wealth. They were farmers, teachers, nurses, and business people. I had no idea back then because they gave quietly. But I did know they were always there, ready to encourage or correct. They provided, and in the process, God used them to teach me to be a giver too. I am thankful that I learned all those years ago that LOVE feels great – oh yes, it does!

But, LOVE also looks like something. Maybe a smile, perhaps a visit, or sometimes it looks like a warm house. Love looks like many things given as needed – and now and then, given quietly!

Posted in Hiding His Word

The Shedding

There is a shedding.

It’s a stripping away of me, from me.

Not only can it not go where’s He’s leading, but the old stands out. It gets attention in ways He doesn’t desire, and so I don’t need.

There is a “putting on” of Him.

Something else that is conducive to the coming assignment and is camouflaged to all but Him.

I am on a path I knew I would travel – someday. Always someday.

But here I am.

I’ve no trail markers, maps, or a compass. I have no earthly companion to discuss the way.

But, I do have the Word, and I do have the Holy Ghost speaking and faithfully leading even as He led me to this place.

The path is overgrown with brush and thorns until it appears as no path at all.

You would think no one ever traveled this way.

They did.

The mothers and fathers of the faith.

I would be able to see their footprints had I not waited so long.

But maybe that was never His plan

There is a shedding.

And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left. ~ Isaiah 30:21

Stained Glass: Trust the Artist

If You Think

If you think I’m selfish, you don’t know me.

If you think I’m weak when you see my tears fall as I cry out of my brokenness, my deepest hurts, or my burdens (or out of yours), you don’t really know me.

If you thought I  wouldn’t survive attacks of deception set to destroy everything I have hope and faith in, then you really don’t know me.

If you think you have me in a place that doesn’t line up with the place God called me to,  you REALLY don’t know me!

If you think you have the right to speak negative things over me or my family or friends, and that I will let it go – then you REALLY, REALLY don’t know me!

If you think I will eventually give up or give in, and that is a part of a grander scheme, then frankly, you don’t know anything about me at all. I learned early on giving up is never an option.

So if you think I will give up on you … well, you should know this about me – I definitely won’t.

Because I have the power of the Holy Ghost burning on the inside of me, and I have the authority to decree and declare God’s Word over every inch and detail of my life. Every Word over every detail. I love the details and you are somewhere in my details.

Words

I believe in who HE is and who HE says I am. I believe Him, who holds my beginnings and all the steps of this journey! I believe that the great I AM resides with me always! I will stand and believe that for you too!

I believe this scripture, (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds); 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

I believe we create or tear down with our words. They are chosen. What are you saying?

I see words that build up as brick and mortar.

I hear words that tear down the same brick and mortar – over and over until the piles become impassable walls. What are you saying?

I can honestly say I lived by natural words for a long time, and they defined much of who I was. Living like that kept me broken, of low esteem and little confidence.

My fault. I gave permission to build up as mortar and bricks but then turned around and gave permission to tear it all down.

No more!

Be careful what you say. Speak words that build and declare the glory of God. Speak Words of LIFE!

Be careful what you hear! Listen only to Words of life!

Be quick to believe what He says about you! Be quick to discard words that don’t fit PERFECTLY with who He says you are.

Stained Glass

Don’t force the glass into just any part of the fame, or you will break it. There is a place designed for each piece. Trust the artist!

One of the last phases of stained glass creation is when the artist places the painted glass in a kiln, so the paint fuses with the glass.

Your story is your story. It is fused into the fiber of your being and really into mine too. There are different layers of washes and paint that step-by-step bring out all of our glorious details.

If we live in Christ, then we must believe we are the Temple. Step back and look at the stained glass windows. They reveal the whole story and it is breathtaking!

Trust the artist!!!

Posted in Hiding His Word

Faithfulness

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love

I love this hymn, and when I hear these words, they remind me of faithfulness.

To be faithful is to be reliable, loyal, and unwavering. The Bible speaks of faithfulness in four ways: as an attribute of God, as a positive characteristic, as a characteristic many lack, and as a gift from the Holy Ghost.

The Bible also warns us of the consequences of unfaithfulness. These warnings are necessary because, as the words of the hymn tell, our hearts are too often found fickle, despite our best intentions. Fickle to God and others.

Faithfulness affects every relationship we have, as does unfaithfulness or to disavow faithfulness. It is a gift. I am so grateful that despite the fickleness of all of us, God is always faithful. Bind my heart to Thee, Jesus!!!

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O Lord, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth. ~ Isaiah 25:1

But the fruit of the Sprit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentlesness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  ~ 1 John 1:9

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faitful, putting me into the ministry. ~ 1 Timothy 1:12

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Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I’m fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I’ve come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in the blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy wondrous grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Here’s my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

~ Robert Robinson (from Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing -1758)