Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Did It My Way

I left my parents home earlier tonight. There is no way to describe how devastating it is to me to see the state of their health. To see them so debilitated is so disheartening to me. It is almost more than I can bear.

Each day of our lives we make choices, and each new day is etched with the consequences of what ever choices we have made in the past. As I look at my parents today I see choices, both good and bad, and the price of those choices.

There is an old secular song from some time ago called "Like a Rock." My husband who listens to secular music stopped on it on the way home tonight from Fall Festival at church. I was already feeling blue from my brief visit earlier with Dad and Mom and I guess this just sent me into a blue funk.

The song is about a man who is reflecting on his youth that is long gone, how strong he was, how his "eyes were clear and bright" and his "walk had purpose," his steps were quick and light. And he wonders where the years have gone, where the youth has gone.

He says that sometimes late at night he sits and remembers...

This just saddened me beyond belief to think of my own sweet Dad sitting in his chair in the den remembering....

Remembering the days when he could take on the world and win, when people stepped out of his way and when his assurance was apparent to anyone who got in his way.

What it must be like to look back.

My Dad lived life without regard to what anyone thought of him. He lived it under his own power, his way.

Now I wonder if he looks back at all he could have done as well as all he has done. Does he regret those youthful days he spent chasing the middle class dream and would he go back and give some of that boundless energy that he used to display to the One who gave him everything?

It is my prayer that he and my mother will soon be well enough to be back in church, hearing the Word, living the life that now seems out of their reach. I pray that they have peace in this time in their lives and that I can be everything for them that they need.

I want to live my life His Way... That is my desire. He is my Rock.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Keeping Your Garments

What an awesome message my Pastor preached last night. It is always wonderful to hear a message about the foundations that we stand on. He did an incredible job, as always, preaching from Revelation 16:13-15.

I would that I could recite each detail for you, but that would spoil it. I will be happy to get a copy for anyone who is interested.

But he did talk on the fact that people are hung up saying that the outward man doesn't matter. And it is so true. You cannot read the Bible without seeing what a contradiction to truth that statement is. Over and over God speaks to our outward man, and usually nakedness is mentioned in context with shame...hhhmmmm.

Does it matter? Should the world at large be able to pick us out of a crowd and know what we stand for? He used the example of fruit. When you go to the store to buy and orange, you know what an orange looks like, you don't take a bite and then say, "oops that's a banana!"

I have actually had people tell me, "you know Sheri, you would look sooo much better if you would put on a little makeup (cut your hair, etc)." I am not supposed to be offended by this comment. But heaven forbid I should ever say "if you would tone that makeup down some, you would be so pretty."

I am not a barn that needs to be painted. And I cannot understand why more women are not offended by the concept. It is as if men are saying "we are OK, but you need some help." And since it was men that started the makeup industry, well, that speaks volumes to me.

I happen to think I am beautiful the way that I am, because it means something to me. My hair means something to me, my face devoid of makeup, means something to me. This is who I am. I am devoted to God, on the outside and inside.

To some this may be offensive. If so, I make no apologies. I live this in your faces every day without apology. It would be so much easier to live as the world. But I have to keep my garments.

This is my protection from worldliness. This has served as a hedge about my children. This separation from worldliness has protected them from any manner of problems. And because of my love for all the things of God, my children have developed a love also.

I am so thankful today to have a Pastor that obeys God. So many today have backed down on this message. I am grateful that God put a man in my life and in the lives of my family who is not afraid to preach with conviction things such as holiness. I love You so much, Lord, and what the world sees as unnecessary, I am so thankful I see how necessary it is, how beautiful it is. I wouldn't take nothing for my journey now!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Courage to Speak....Courage to Hear

I have this nifty little program on my phone called "Wiseman." Everyday I can look at it and find a different quote waiting to inspire me.

Today I was inspired by Winston Churchill, as I have found myself being inspired in the past.

He said "
Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."

When I was a very young girl, up until I was in college, I was painfully shy and terrified of anything that even remotely hinted at being in front of a crowd. I was once given the superlative the quietest girl in my class, and although my speaking voice still remains soft, give me a mic, I'll speak, no matter the size of the crowd.

While in college in desperate need of a job, I found one as a disc jockey. It was during that time I realized that people were listening whether I could see their faces or not, so what did it matter. That *cured* me.

But having the courage to stand in front of a crowd and speak about things I am comfortable with, and having the courage to stand up to someone and speak something to them that I would rather not say are two totally different things. And more times than not I have to totally rely on God to be able to do that. On my own I get either physically ill, or I mess every thing up completely.

Recently I was having a conversation with a member of my family. I was asking about someone that I had met for the first time, to find out more about what the person was like and the response I received was very well stated and very honest. I was told that the person was indeed very wonderful, *but* it didn't take long to realize that while they were talking with you, their mind was moving in a million different directions, never really hearing anything you had said.

So many times in my life I have nodded and answered what I hoped was appropriately, but I never really heard what was being said. On some occasions I have even found myself sitting in the House of God, needing His Word, only to be thinking about something else entirely.

Or I have listened to my Pastor and thought "Boy, I wish *fill in the blank* could hear this, when, if I had been honest, it was I who needed to hear.


Courage to stand up and speak, to stand up in the face of adversity, of the adversary, of our peers, of our family, and speak, without compromise, without backing down or giving in.

Courage to listen, even when it means we may have to change, we may be wrong, we may be an obstacle to growth, or a stumbling block for our own growth may need to be removed.

Do you know what courage always brings??



Winston Churchill also said, "
Courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others."

How true, how true.

Lord, I have prayed so many times that You would be my strength. How I still need that. Give me the courage today to admit that I need You in every area of my life. If there is something in me, Lord, help me to listen to You so that I can become fit for Your use. And never let me lack the courage to live my convictions and to stand up to the world around me. You are so precious to me. I love you so, so much.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Rose

I do not have words to describe how it felt to see my beautiful niece become a wife this weekend. She was radiant, and I guess that is an understatement. Her whole countenance shown.

I happen to love the song "When God Unfolds The Rose." There are some things that man cannot do, and one of those things is unfold the petals of a rose. Saturday I watched a rose bloom in the midst of a room filled with love.

And each petal was in place because everything came together in His time.

To my beautiful D'Ann, I am so proud of you, because of who you are, because of what you stand for. I see in you and your sister so many promises yet to be kept and I am so very thankful for you. I love you so very much.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chicken Little Versus The Ostrich

For those of you who have not lived life in my shoes it would be hard for you to comprehend my thought processes. Perhaps it would be hard for even a renowned team of experts to comprehend my thought processes, but that is neither here nor there.

But for those who are the least bit curious as to what it would be like to float around in my thoughts, (float being an appropriate word here) I'll be ever so happy to share.

Within my being rages an epic battle, the battle of *Something bad is coming, I just know it* and *I'm just going to stick my head in the sand and pretend everything is beautiful.*

It really gets heated when I am able to pretend for a week or so and then get body slammed by the falling sky.

So I have been anticipating with great joy the marriage of my beautiful niece, so much so that I have managed to purposely lodge my head as deep into the dirt as I could possibly get it, only to have my posterior slapped with a hunk of diving atmosphere. Now I'm stuck somewhere between desire and despair wondering what will win out.

I need You so much this morning. You said to come to You, all that were weak and heavy laden and You would give us rest. I need that Lord, real rest in You, not just pretend rest. I need a way where there is seemingly no way today. I'm depending on Your love to see me through.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Our Heritage

"Thy testimonies have I taken as an heritage for ever: for they are the rejoicing of my heart. I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statues always, even unto the end." (Psalm 119:111-112)

I'm feeling melancholy today. Another of our little birdies is about to fly out of the nest. It makes me sad for all the years I missed with my nephew and my nieces. It is hard to comprehend how what starts out as one unit can fragment through the passage of time, yet still have one heart. There are so many moments I have missed, but I still feel like they are my babies too.

Looking into all of the faces of the children in our family it is so painfully obvious that time marches on. When I think of Jacob, a big grown man with a wife and a business of his own, and my sweet D'Ann about to embark on her own happily ever after it makes me long to hold on to what time I have left with the rest, especially since all these weddings of late have my own dumplin' and her fellow talking about just how their own *big day* will play out.

You see, almost 48 years ago two people vowed their own lives to each other, for better or worse, through sickness and in health, till death comes to part them. And because of that love three new lives came into existence. Now that number has multiplied it will continue to do so.

And like a grand symphony God has orchestrated each note of our lives, each crescendo and decrescendo, each change in tempo, He has become our conductor.

Someday my own children will be in this place in life, thinking back over the years, the highs and the lows, remembering.

I have heard so many people say things like "My Grandmother loved the Lord" or "My Grandfather knew his Bible." It almost seems like a whole generation was skipped because I don't ever really hear people from my generation speak of their own parents in such manner.

And I read in Psalms 78:5-9 "For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God."

I am so thankful that my parents have both been baptized in the Name of Jesus, that Name above all names, the ONLY Name by which we MUST be saved, but it was their children who led them there.

My prayer is that someday when our children relate about the character of my brother, my sister and myself they will say, "My Daddy loved God with everything he was," " I can't count the times I have heard my Mama cry out in prayer before the Lord," "She had the heart of a servant."

I don't have a heritage of being raised in the church, but I have a heritage of the Word. And that heritage is rich and deep. It flows through my blood, fattens my marrow and strengthens my spirit. Every beat of my heart sounds out a testimony for my God, the One who loved me enough to give His very life for me, a child that was not even in existence yet, but still He knew me.

And someday, somewhere down the line that my husband and I have begun (if the Lord tarries), there will be a child, praying at an altar, my heritage.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Perfection Comes With A Price

I wonder at times what it would be like to be perfect. Oh, I'm not talking only physical perfection, but total perfection. To never lose my temper or have a bad thought, to just walk constantly in *heavenly places* and never worry or lack trust.

There have been times over the last year or so that I have prayed for just one normal week, just one week where there was no crisis or trauma to have to contend with. And to be totally honest I have finally redefined *normal* for our lives.

But still I fail, I fall short. I am not a perfect wife, nor am I a perfect mother. I'm not the perfect child to my parents, or to my King.

And life continues to happen to me. Each day I wake up and life is still there, problems are still there, and I still have to put one foot in front of the other and muddle through.

I think one of the things that makes Paul probably my favored New Testament contributor is that he was real. He had shortcomings and he didn't pretend otherwise.

And over the last year I think I have taken on whining to God. I'm not proud of it, but in some of the situations I have faced I have felt like stomping my feet, and throwing myself on the floor and having a good old fit. I'm sure NO ONE else has EVER had these feelings. I have never asked God "why me" or said it has become more than I could bear, but I have, well, begged for help.

My Pastor's wife went through a very traumatic situation several years ago. Her mother related her side of it one day to us. She said she had become bitter and questioned God as to why this had happen to her daughter in the way it had happened. She said her answer was "why not."

Why should I not have troubles and trials? Why should I be exempt from the problems of life?

Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 "And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I made strong."

Every trial I have faced, every situation I have struggled through, every time I have been broken and pierced with the thorns of life, through all the times I have thrown myself at His mercy, and wept painful, sometimes bitter tears at His feet, He was working perfection in me.

And just like Paul, I am thankful. I look back over my walk with Him and I see where He has brought me to, and I am in awe of all He has done in my life, in my family.

I won't say I welcome trouble, but I know trouble comes. I know that I can partake of His perfect strength in my times of weakness and trouble. So like Paul I have learned to see the blessing in my own thorns.

Lord, I see the world around me with its shallow view of perfection. Looking only at the outward man they become meaningless, empty shells, with hollow lives. I know I have faced so many things, but I can look at each problem and see Your grace, and it has been more than enough. You have always been my strength. I'm leaning on You.

Monday, October 8, 2007

On Second Thought

While most of you are getting up and getting ready to begin your work week, I am coming home from my 36 hour weekend and getting ready to hit the sack for a few hours. I have SOOO much to do today that my original plan was to stay up and get some of my long *to do* list completed....

But, on second thought, I think I'll nap first.

I really enjoy my job. I have loved being back on the floor, back in my comfort zone. I hate missing church. And the hate seems to outweigh the love for me. I know I have so much I need to accomplish for God and I am having NO second thoughts about my commitment to Him. So I am praying for a way to have my cake and eat it too. I know He will honor my desire to serve Him.

So...I'm off to bed to end one hectic week and prepare for another. I pray that you will remember how faithful He is today and be just as faithful to Him. I have a renewed commitment to fill every inch of my life that I can with Him. I know when I do so He takes care of the details of the rest of life....He's just good that way.

I'll post a few pictures from the wedding today. Give me some feedback. I am praying this is my *door of hope!* I was trying to rush some shots to get out of the way so some were disappointing. It will be so much better when I have the ability to say "Hey, I'm the photographer!"

OK...that's it for me, my eyes are rolling back in my head...well, on second thought...maybe I'll fix me some pancakes...hehe

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

A Simple Question...No Simple Answer


In my life I have heard the question so many times. "Just because" was usually the answer when I couldn't come up with anything better when my children were small. I know, it wasn't adequate for their young and curious minds, but at times that was the best I could come up with.

Now that they are growing older the question becomes even more complex. "Why is it they are just handed everything? And why don't they appreciate what they have?"

"Just because" definitely doesn't work like it used to.

Did you know that even the Lord asked "Why?"

"And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you. And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?" (Judges 2:1-2)

I take the Word of God very seriously. I am pleased that I do not partake in "Cafeteria-Style Christianity." And to the world around me that obviously is hard to understand.

Long ago when my children asked the why's concerning this Apostolic life, I was honest, I gave them scripture, and most of all, I shared my deep love for all that we believe. I showed them the "beauty of holiness" and the blessing of living a life separated from the world around us. And in doing so I have seen my love for all the things of God grow in their lives.

Because of the situation in my home for so many years, there were things that my children were exposed to that I would that I could have shielded them from. But as they matured and the questions continued they were able to make the right choices for themselves based on the biblical answers we found to each situation.

The most important thing I have taught them is that God does not change. He does not change. And it pains me now to see the line of separation blur for so many. And I don't know the answer to the question of why.

I fear the answer to the question of "What next?"

Do not be deceived. This world will not be impressed with the things we "back up" on. With each stand we have taken for all these years we suddenly let go of, do not be fooled into thinking this will affect the world around us. Because, my friends, the world won't be affected if we let go, but we will, we will.

Judges 2:1-3-

1And an angel of the LORD came up from Gilgal to Bochim, and said, I made you to go up out of Egypt, and have brought you unto the land which I sware unto your fathers; and I said, I will never break my covenant with you.

2And ye shall make no league with the inhabitants of this land; ye shall throw down their altars: but ye have not obeyed my voice: why have ye done this?

3Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be as thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

This world has it's gods; fame, fortune, celebrity, status. You only have to read the headlines to see where these things lead. Those bright lights and the recognition associated with them lie in the shadows of the stage of life like a giant hook, waiting to drag away the *realness* of all we stand for, and before you know it our most precious jewels will be led away captive, dressed up like dancing clowns, entertaining the masses. And all we have held so dear, our separateness, our PROTECTION from worldliness will be all but forgotten.

Oh God, my Jesus, may I never forget *why.* Let me live the *why* in front of the world, without shame. I don't want to end up another face in the crowd, I want to be YOUR face in the crowd, refusing to bow down to the dictates of the world. I want to remember, to know that it is not the world I serve. And I want to always be assured that You would NEVER ask me to compromise myself to win the lost, because in compromising myself, in compromising YOUR will for me, I become lost. I love You desperately. Even so, Come Lord Jesus. Come....

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Door of Hope in the Valley of Trouble

During prayer last night before service I felt God was going to send a word for me. And He did, through Bro. Phillips who was filling in while my Pastor and his wife to a much deserved break.

What a wonderful message sent straight to me in my Valley of Achor.

Hosea 2:14-15 states, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. and I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt."

It is amazing that even in times of trouble God will come and speak to our hearts, but not only speak to us, He will put us at ease even when He brings us into the wilderness Himself.

I don't know why everything that has happened has happened. But I am assured that He knows. And even in this time of trouble He comes and speaks to my heart, He comforts me.

Not only that, He will sustain me, in times of trouble He will provide the sustenance that my soul needs to keep going. And it does seem that during this time He has fed me from the richness of His Word over and over and over. He has provided me with strength to continue on.

The most amazing part of all of this is that He said that "she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt."

He said he would trade "the Valley of Achor for a door of hope." My trouble for hope, my sorrow for hope, my loneliness for hope, my despair for hope. And He will have me rejoice as I did in that day when He delivered me from my life of sin and heartache. He said I will be singing in my troubles.

He has allowed me to do just that. He has made a way for me when I could see no way and now as I lift my voice to Him my worship is real and heartfelt as it always has been. It is my privilege to give Him my praise. He is my strength and my song.

As I stand and lift my voice to Him it is my heart that sings, it is my trouble that I lay aside to give Him the praise He deserves for who He is in my life.

Troubles come, I can attest to that. But the troubles are not my testimony. My testimony is a door of hope that He gave me in the midst of the valley of my troubles. My testimony is the unchanging hand of God. My testimony is His faithfulness to me.

I'll not sing about my valley today, I'll sing about the hope that is mine. The hope that comes from an ever present Savior. My love song to Him.