Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On the Run

In the spring, I was driving through Montevallo when the car in front of me swerved to avoid running over something in the middle of the road. I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting a tiny puppy lying in the middle of busy Hwy 1-19. Another driver scrambled out of his truck and placed the puppy on the side of the road, but the little puppy waddled back into the middle of 1-19 and collapsed in front of my front tire. What would you have done? If you would have placed the puppy in your car and brought her home, my husband would not agree with your answer, but that is exactly what I did.

She was in terrible shape, scraped up and missing the hair on her tail and legs. I took her to my vet, where the receptionist said I was a “hero” for rescuing her and that she would be the best dog because she would be so appreciative for me saving her life. That has not turned out to be the case. She destroys anything in her path. Just last week, she destroyed my blinds and chewed up a bag of 500 BRIGHT orange paint balls. You can only imagine the mess that made. I could go on and on about all the things she has destroyed, but I will spare you the details. Did I mention the fact that she grew from 5 lbs to 80 lbs in just 9 months? Long story short- Steve does not share the receptionist’s view that I am a “hero” for bringing her home.

The destruction is not her worst flaw. The main problem is that she keeps getting out of our fence and running off. I have lost count of the number of times that I have chased her through the neighborhood. One day last week when it was very cold, she escaped while I was getting ready to go to work. I had just gotten out of the shower when I realized she was on the run. On this freezing cold morning, I had to chase her down the street in my robe with wet hair. The more I called the further she ran. Just as I would get close enough to grab her, she would take off again. I called and called her name, but she would not listen. I was so mad. I even received a scrap on my neck trying to tackler her. Finally, I caught her and dragged her back home. As I was pulling her home, I fussed at her the whole time, saying “Is this the thanks I get for saving your life?” and other things that I won’t repeat.

Now let’s contrast that ugly visual with a parable Jesus told in Luke 15:3-7 that I read last week in our weekly reading:

So He told them this parable, saying, “What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?

When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!"

I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.

Notice the tenderness as the Shepherd places the sheep on his shoulders and carries it back home. The Shepherd is not frustrated that he had to go looking for the sheep. He does not focus on the fact that the sheep wandered off or the inconvenience of having to leave the other 99 just to look for the one. The Shepherd is not concerned about the past but is overjoyed that the sheep was found. Instead of anger, there is rejoicing.

He did the same thing for me. When I was lost in my sin and had run away from Him, He lovingly found me, placed me on His shoulders, and carried me home. He did not scold me for straying but rejoiced that I was found. What a great and loving God we serve!

Please join us this week in our Tuesday Together in the Word by sharing a verse that really spoke to you this week. Please post your verse or comment at DeeDee's site. If you did not start reading with us at the beginning of the year, why not start this week. Here is this weeks reading plan:

Tuesday January 27th- Luke 20
Wednesday January 28th- Luke 21
Thursday Janaury 29th- Luke 22
Friday January 30th- Luke 23
Saturday January 31st- Luke 24
Sunday February 1st- Psalms 16 & 17
Monday February 2nd- Proverbs 3

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Under His Wings

I am really enjoying our "Tuesday Together in the Word" blog. There were several days this week that felt too cold to get out of bed early to do our daily reading. Thanks ladies for your accountibilty- it really helped me stay on track. To read more, go to DeeDee's site.

There were so many great verses this week. The verse that really grabbed me this week was Luke 13:34:

O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!

This scirpture reminded me of a story that I read years ago in Beth Moore's study "A Women's Heart":

After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother's wings.

The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

What a beautiful picture of Jesus' love for us! He could have come down off the cross but His love for us kept Him there to die in our place.

In Luke 13:34, why did He not gather Isreal into his arms like a hen gathers her chicks under her wing? Because they were not willing. They choose their own way over the warmth and protection of life beneath His wings. As a result, Isreal was defeated. The same is so true of our lives. Jesus longs to gather us under His wings but we want to live our own lives and make our own discussions. Our lack of obedience cause us to step out of his protective care.

I love the way that Beth Moore puts it:
Christ Jesus longs to draw us under the shelter of His wings- so close to His side that we can hear His tender heartbeat. He yearns to lavish us with His possessive, protective love. To cover us from so many unneccary harms. There is a secret place. Go, beloved and hide.

Please join us this week as we read:
Wenesday-Luke 15
Friday - Luke 17
Saturday-Luke 18
Sunday- Psalm 10-12
Monday- Luke 19
Tuesday- Luke 20

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


I have been attempting to read our “Tuesday Together in the Word” reading plan with my boys. I was reading chapter 5 of Luke with them, when one of my sons stopped me after I read the section about Jesus calling Levi the tax collector as a disciple. He said in his most interested voice, “Hey, wait a second. Read that passage again.” I was proud that my son was so interested in the Bible that he had me to read the passage again. After he intently listened to me read the passage again, he asked the following very profound question: “Is Levi’s name spelled the same way that you spell the brand of jeans?” I thought we were about to have a deep spiritual discussion, but instead we discussed whether the blue jean company was named after Levi of the Bible. I quickly realized that I need to lower my expectations with family devotional time.

Nevertheless, I really wanted my sons to be interested in this particular chapter. I had read the chapter that morning, and it really grabbed my attention. The story of Levi (who does not have a blue jean company named after him) was not the section that really affected me that morning; rather, it was the story of Peter following Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11
Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret ;
and He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake ; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets.
And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.
When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch."
Simon answered and said, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets."
When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break ;
so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink.
But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus' feet, saying, "Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord !"
For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken ;
and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, "Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men."
In this section, Peter and his partners had been fishing all night and had caught nothing. Jesus instructs Peter to launch out into the deep and let down his nets during broad daylight. This made no sense to Peter. They had just fished all night and caught nothing. Following are a few reasons why Jesus’ instructions seemed so strange to Peter:

1. Normally, fish in that particular lake were caught with nets in shallow water at night because the fish would migrate to deep waters during the daylight hours and were at such low depths that net fishing was nearly impossible.
2. The nets that they used during that time were made of linen, which made them visible to the fish during the day. This type of fishing was only successful at night when the nets were not visible to the fish. During the day, the fish could see the nets and avoid being caught.

Jesus asked Peter to do something that logically made no sense to him. Has Jesus ever asked you to do something that made no sense? I think all of us during our Christian walk will be called to follow the Lord in an area that just does not “make good sense to us.” In these areas that defy our logic, the Lord will truly reveal his himself strong. He wants us to follow Him, not human logic.

However, by nature, I am a very analytical person. This is a good quality to have in the field of accounting, but these qualities sometimes get me in trouble in my Christian walk. I want everything to make sense and be logical. However, God calls us out of our comfort zone. In the past, He has called me to do things that simply did not make sense to me on several occasions. However, in each of those instances, He met our needs in amazing ways.

In 2004, our church planned a mission trip to Mexico to work with Robin and Charlie Janney. I had felt a draw to foreign missions for years. However, looking at our situation at the time it did not seem logical for me to go on the trip. At that time, Steve was in nursing school full-time and I was the only one who was working. Going on the trip would mean missing seven days of work, which would mean missing seven days of pay since I had no paid vacation time. Not only would I have to find the funds to pay for the trip, but my family would miss over a week’s pay. Even though our financial situation did not support this decision, I felt that God was calling me to go. I asked my boss if I could take off for seven days. He also thought that my choice to join the mission trip made no sense. I think his exact words were, “That is the dumbest thing that I have ever heard! You will miss a week and a half of pay to go off to Mexico and probably catch Malaria.”

During that same time, my oldest son came to me and asked if he could go on the mission trip with me. He had already made a list for how he would raise money for the trip. His list included selling all of his toys and his hamster. How could you turn down a boy willing to sell his hamster? We both signed up for the trip even though I had no idea how we would afford it.

Back to Luke 5-How would the account have changed if Peter had caught a boat load of fish the night before? What would Peter’s reaction have been if they had experienced a very successful night of fishing or if Peter could see a large number of fish swimming around the boat at the time of Jesus’ instructions? He would not have had the same reaction to the miracle that Jesus performed. Notice how Jesus used Peter’s failure the night before to reveal His strength. Just as Jesus used an empty boat to show His strength to Peter and the others, he used an empty bank account to show His strength in my life. He allowed us to raise the money in amazing ways to pay for both of our trips. The God’s provision for His people is amazing.

Also, in the months leading up to the mission trip, my boss lost his job and another girl in my office quit; therefore, I had to work a lot of overtime. When I finished working the required overtime, guess how many hours I had worked? I had worked the hourly equivalent of 7 days of pay. I was able to bank my overtime and use it when I was in Mexico!

God’s timing is so perfect. After I worked on this blog last night, Robin Janney called us from Mexico. We are a “second mom and dad” to a precious 15 year old girl who lives in Mexico. Her name is Cinthia, and we met her on our mission trips to Mexico. Robin told her about Steve’s dad passing away, and she asked Robin to call us last night to check on Steve because she has been so worried about him. This really touched us both. The phone call was such a reminder of the beautiful blessings that I would have missed if I would have looked to logic instead of the Lord and missed the opportunity to serve Him in Mexico.

Go to DeeDee's blog to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" blogs. Please join us by either commenting or even starting your own blog. Here is this weeks reading plan:

January 14th: Luke 10
January 15th: Luke 11
January 16th: Luke 12
January 17th: Proverbs 2
January 18th: Luke 13
January 19th: Luke 14
January 20th: Psalms 8-9

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Don't Leave Jesus Behind

I am excited to be joining in on the first “Tuesday Together in the Word.” We are a group of ladies reading through the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs together in 2009, and sharing what we are learning along the way. Visit DeeDee to read other "Tuesday Together in the Word" posts.

As I read through the first few chapters of Luke this week, one event in Luke 2 caused me to think about an event that happened to me that I would just as soon forget:

When Stephen was in Kindergarten and Joshua was in Preschool, I was having one of those afternoons when I did not know how I was going to be able to get everything done. I left work and picked up the boys from school at 3:00. I had 1 ½ hours to go back to the school to do a report that “had to be done” for a PTA meeting, I needed to deliver something to the church, and I had to get 75 baby shower invitations to the post office before closing. Earlier, I had talked to Steve and he was on his way home from his classes. I quickly went into list-making mode and mapped out my plan of action. I would drop the boys off at home with Steve, go back to the school, head to the church and pull into the post office with time to spare before the mail was picked up.

I put my plan into action. I arrived home, unlocked the door for the kids, and quickly got back into my car and headed to the school. I was feeling pretty good as I was driving down the road. Who says you can’t do it all? Then it happened…..

I passed Steve in the car. At first, I happily waved at him and then it hit me. If Steve is in the car that I just passed on the road, then who is at home with my children??!!?? I quickly picked up the cell phone to call home.


Stephen: I am trying to keep Joshua from calling 911. He thinks we should call and let them know that we were left home alone.

Me: NO, DON’T CALL 911! I will be home in a minute. I am so sorry! I did not realize that Daddy had not gotten home yet.

Stephen: You didn’t notice that his car was not in the driveway?

Me: No, I thought he was already at home. When did you realize that he was not home?

Stephen: The minute you drove off. Joshua tried to chase your car through the neighborhood but he couldn’t catch you.

As I type this seven years later, I still feel horrible about it. I imagine that I will be sharing this story from a nursing home 40 years from now, still feeling bad about it. I was so focused on all the little details that I forgot what was REALLY important.

I realize that you may be wondering what this story has to do with Luke 2? Hang in here with me – there is a point.

In Luke 2:41-50, we read about Mary, Joseph and 12-year old Jesus traveling to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover. As they were returning home, Mary and Joseph realized after a day’s journey that they had left Jesus behind in Jerusalem. They had assumed that he was with their caravan but he had been left behind. They anxiously looked for him for three days. They found him in the temple astonishing all those that were listening to him.

The point of my story is NOT to justify my leaving the boys by saying, “At least I wasn’t like Mary and Joseph who lost the son of God for three days.” The point is to realize the number of times we travel along in life and forget that we have left Jesus behind. Mary and Joseph were headed from the Feast of the Passover but they left behind the True Passover Lamb. We just celebrated Christmas, and Jesus was the focus of this holiday for many but how many of us quickly loss focus after the holiday is over? We tend to get caught up in our daily lives and leave Him behind.

The passing of my father-in-law last week has really opened my eyes to how short this life on Earth really is. Over and over this week, I have been feeling the Lord leading me to focus on the important things and let go of the rest. This is not an easy task for me, especially with my “control freak” tendencies.

I want to have a Jesus-filled year. I don’t want to leave Him out. I don’t want to forget Him because I am too focused on other things. My theme for 2009 is going to be “don’t focus on the trivial and miss what is truly important.” I have spent way too much time in my life focusing on things that really don’t matter.

I am excited to be part of “Tuesday Together in the World.” I look forward to growing together as we learn from the Word and from each other. Please join us in our reading for this coming week. Here is the reading plan:

1/6/08- Proverbs 1
1/7/08- Psalms 3-5
1/8/08- Luke 5
1/9/08- Luke 6
1/10/08- Luke 7
1/11/08- Luke 8
1/12/08- Luke 9

Monday, January 5, 2009

The Death of a Great Man

My father-in-law passed away on Sunday, December 28. He truly was a wonderful man who loved and was loved by so many people. Not only has his life impacted so many, but his death has forever changed how I view my life, my family and my savior:

· His love for his wife
He died holding his “sweetheart” as he called her. They were a couple who were still in love after 54 years of marriage. When his breathing became labored, she calmed him by singing Amazing Grace, quoting scripture and talking to him about the home they would have in heaven. He died in the same exact house where he was born. They never owned a mansion, had a vacation home, or took trips around the world; but they had what really mattered- a deep, lasting love.

· An amazing man
I thought that I knew everything about Steve since we have been married almost 16 years. I was wrong. I learned so much about my husband this past week. I have images in my mind that I will never forget of Steve taking care of his dad right before he died. I have pictures in my mind of Steve holding his dad and kissing him on the top of the head while he told him how much he loved him and of him lying in the bed beside his dad closely watching to make sure he did not need anything. Also, I never want to forget the faith he had as he stood over the casket seeing his father’s face one last time and telling our boys that we are not saying goodbye to their PawPaw but “see you later.”

Steve’s mom told me that she hopes I realize what an amazing husband I have. She said the way he nursed and loved his dad at the same time was just amazing. It really was. I knew that God called Steve to be a nurse. We never realized how the Lord would use it to bring such comfort to Steve’s dad. His dad wanted Steve right beside him. The love and compassion that Steve gave was straight from the hand of God. I am so thankful to be married to a man who has such a deep love and devotion to his family.

· The importance of family
When Steve and I first started dating I was a little taken aback by his large family. I come from a small family. The first time I met his family was Christmas, 1991. I am not by nature a “hugger” so I was a little overwhelmed by being hugged by so many people who I did not even know. It did not take long for me to realize that I was marrying into an amazing family. I even got used to the hugging. Having such a large, close family really has given us so much support during this time. The closeness of this family and their love and devotion to each other is truly a wonderful thing to behold.

When we first got married, I wanted to wait several years to have children but Steve said that he wanted to have kids right away while the other cousins were still young so that our kids would have cousins to “hunt Easter eggs with”. I have had the opportunity to see my boys hunt eggs with their other cousins and now that they are older and “too cool to hunt eggs,” I have been able to see them love and support each other through the death of their PawPaw. There are 11 cousins and I was really impressed with all of them this week. They all looked out for each other and took turns taking care of each other.

About 12 hours before Steve’s dad died, a hospice nurse came to examine him and she told us that he may not make it through the night. It surprised me that she felt he only had a few hours to live because he had been alert and up that day on the front porch and sitting in his recliner. After she told us the news, he was sitting in his recliner as grandchildren and children sat on the floor surrounding him; each one telling him how much they loved him and he was able to tell each one that he loved them. Then, we realized that we could not find the younger cousins. Steve found them outside sitting around the corner of the house in a circle crying. They said they were talking about the good memories they had with PawPaw. Steve encouraged them to go inside and tell PawPaw how much they love him. When Stephen came inside, PawPaw was walking from his recliner to his bed. Stephen said, “I love you PawPaw” and Steve’s dad reached out and took his hand and said, “I love you, Buddy.” Right when he got into his bedroom, Joshua was walking into his room to talk to him but everyone started leaving the room to let him sleep. He did not get a chance to tell him that he loved him. A little while later, Brooke was taking the kids to get ice cream to get them out of the house for a little while. As they were leaving, Joshua quickly came back into the house and told me to “please tell PawPaw that I love him.” I told him that I thought he should tell him himself. As we quietly went back into his bedroom, Joshua leaned over him and told him that he loved him. He was able to tell Joshua that he loved him, too. Both of my boys received a wonderful gift: their last memory of their PawPaw is him telling them that he loves them.

The funeral also was such a wonderful testimony of his life. Steve’s oldest brother, Dusty spoke, our nephew sang and my niece read a wonderful paper that she had written about her PawPaw three weeks before he died. As a Human Development class project, she had to interview someone over 65 and record their answers word for word. She read his answers and it brought tears and laughter as she read. I will post this interview on my blog in the near future.

· The importance of faith
Several years ago, Steve went to his dad’s house to talk to him about his faith. Steve wanted to talk to his dad one-on-one about his dad’s belief in Jesus. The conversation they had was a wonderful confirmation to Steve that he knows exactly where his dad is today. His dad was very committed to giving to his church and the Lord. His preacher shared of the commitment Steve’s dad had to Shiloh Methodist. He said even when Steve’s dad was very sick he would come to church meetings even though sometimes he would feel so bad that he would have to lay his head down.

The Lord promises to reward those that love Him. I have seen this week some of the blessings of that reward in the great love of his family and the number of people his life impacted. Just as Steve told our boys, we will see him again. While we are all sad that he is not with us, we are so thankful that we know he is enjoying his savior at this moment.