Thy Will Be Done (thank you Hillary Scott)

This was written and published on Facebook on Monday, July 17, 2017.
I feel like it needs to be here, too.John 11-40

This morning, I became a part of BEAST MODE week at Oak Hill Christian Service Camp. The lesson I taught was about Lazarus’ death. I read through the lesson quite a few times gearing up to teach today, but as I was actually teaching it – and looking at the questions Heather had laid out for me to ask, Jesus spoke directly to me.
See, one of Heather’s questions following the passage was “Why was Martha crying?” The simple answer is that she was sad that her brother died.
But really, don’t you think she was upset that Jesus waited TWO DAYS to come? By the time he arrived, Lazarus had been in the tomb for FOUR DAYS.
Sure, Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, but he also could’ve healed him before he died.
But that wasn’t the point – the point was that Mary and Martha BELIEVED that Jesus could do anything and so they saw the Glory of God.

Over the past 20 days since daddy first went to OBX Hospital, I’ve had moments where I question why it’s taking so long to get an answer… I’ve had moments of frustration when tests that were designed to tell us what was going on in his heart weren’t telling us anything. I’ve cried in that frustration of a lack on concrete answers and direction.
I admitted this much to two different groups of 3rd-5th graders and their counselors.

But then I read the scripture in the image posted above…
John 11:40, “Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” (NIV)
Let’s hold hands with Romans 8:28
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Ella did not sit in my classes, opting to play with Joe on the playground even though it is her age group at this week of camp. She didn’t hear me talk about her Pop’s surgery and the possible outcomes. So in the car on the way home, she started asking some questions about Pop and his surgery. I couldn’t hold back my tears when she asked, with all the innocence in the world, if Pop could die.
I answered her honestly through my tears and then reiterated that we’re focusing on the facts of Pop’s case and our FAITH in God.
She said the sweetest prayer for Pop’s healing and for his doctors. I couldn’t help but hold back sobs as I drove listening to her. Then, the kids asked for the radio and what song was on? “Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott. This song has come to me in many moments since I first heard it – all moments I needed it’s message deeply. I’m listening to it now. Sobbing as I type.

There are moments when those who have been around me wonder how on Earth I’m not more of a wreck knowing what’s possible next week. To that I say, “God hold my daddy’s heart in His hands. Should my daddy die, he’ll wake up in Heaven seeing Jesus’ face.”

Anyway, I typed up the update on daddy posted just a bit ago and called mom to read it to her. After she approved it, I shared with her about this morning and how the lesson ministered to me just as much as I hope it ministered to those sitting in my class and she read to me the devotional she’d read today.
It’s dated July 16, 2017 – but she’s a day behind and read two – reading yesterdays today. Guess what it was about!
Lazarus dying and Martha & Mary BELIEVING in Jesus and seeing the Glory of God.

Oh, my God in Heaven.
Thy Will be Done.
I may not like it. It may hurt. It may break me in a way I’ve never known.
But I know YOU. I know you’re good. I know you work anything for YOUR good.
I know you catch my tears in your hands. I know you hold me there too.
I know you hear my prayers – those out loud and those whispered in the depths of my heart.
Thank you, God. Thank you for my daddy.
Thank you for the lessons he’s taught me.
Thank you for using heartbreaking circumstances to draw us closer than we’d ever been.
Thank you for the sermons I’ve dozed through and the sermons I might be able to repeat word for word if I tried.
Thank you for loving me. Even when I’m mad and questioning your goodness or timeline.
Be with my daddy. Be with my mama. Be with my brother. Be with me as we face the scary unknown of next Monday.
In your Son’s most Holy and Sacrificial name,
Amen.

My Mess…

Don’t worry… I’m not going to spill the details of the messiness of my life right here right now; though it’s tempting to do so and just get it all out of my head and my heart.

I’ve shared my heartache of the weekend with my mom and my best friend and for now, that’s all who need to know.

BUT, I will share that I just posted this on Facebook:

Sitting here in tears over this post…
Jesus knows what parts of my life I consider to be a “mess”, but without HIM those messy parts would never be redeemed.

I’m struggling today, friends. Focused on my mess and wishing the Messiah would just take it away or make it perfectly whole in Him.
But I know that he IS the Great Redeemer and every messy part of my life will one day be redeemed through his love, his grace, his perfection.
I just have to put my trust in him…
“I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

Here is the post to which I’m referring…

4/15/17

Today’s quote:

Without the Messiah, life’s just a mess!

TRUTH

These words immediately came to mind.

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from heaven
Jesus
Messiah
Lord of all

What an absolutely beautiful praise chorus.
I remember it well.

Messiah occurs only twice in the NIV.

John 1:41,42a:
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
And he brought him to Jesus.

I love Andrew.
He was always bringing people to Jesus.
His brother Peter.
The little boy with the loaves and fishes.
The Greeks who were seeking Jesus.

What is the point of Christmas and Easter, if we are not bringing people to Jesus, the Messiah?
What is the point of every day, if we are not helping people find the Messiah?

Maybe that is why we have the quote.

Without the Messiah, life is a mess.

Maybe that is why the world is in such a mess.
Maybe the world is in such a mess because we have not told the world about the Messiah.

John 4:1-26
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
Verse 25,26:
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

Shiver me timbers!

John 4: 39-42
Many Samaritans Believe
Verse 39:
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

If you have read the story then you know what Jesus told her about everything she had done.
What a powerful testimony she had, for the Messiah, in that village.
Her life was a mess.
They knew it was a mess.
Jesus knew it was a mess.

Just like he knows about my mess.
Just like he knows about your mess.

Without the Messiah, life’s just a mess.

I could not possibly say it any better than that.

That’s my dad’s Facebook devotion on his church’s Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/133021133399648/

For years I’ve given my dad a church sign daily calendar.  2017’s came from my mom, but for the same purpose.  Daddy shares what the church sign for the day is, then types a devotion off of that.

This weekend, another layer of a major mess in my life was laid bare and I’m struggling to move past it.  But this post reminded me that my mess will be redeemed through my Messiah.

I hope you made time for Jesus this weekend and didn’t just focus on Egg Hunts and Bunnies that deliver baskets.  Because there would be no Easter had Jesus not died for our sins and rose again to conquer death and Satan.
If you do not have a church “home”, let me tell you about mine some time.  If you’re local to Richmond or just passing through I’d love to have you come sit and worship by me.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Image Vs. Substance

In Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, he says, “Saul was all about image, but David was all about substance.”  He’s referring to the fact that David danced when the Ark of the Covenant entered Jerusalem while Michal, Saul’s daughter, felt contempt for him (Bible: 2 Samuel 6).  Batterson goes on to explain that Michal was the daughter of a man who was “kingly” where David didn’t worry about looking regal as he celebrated his excitement about God.

This comparison between Saul and David struck a chord deep within me.

I have someone extremely close to me who accuses me of projecting a certain image even when it isn’t the truth.  To tell the truth, I strive very hard NOT to do this, though some Sundays my smile might be strained as I fight against Satan’s desire to make me crumble under my past bad decisions.

I asked on Facebook recently if I was a complainer.  The answer ran the gamut as I expected since different people know me from different times or for different lengths of time.
But one answer made me feel good – that I was real.  I strive to be real.  It helps that I’m a preacher’s kid whose life has been told from the pulpit for the last 35 years.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been used as an illustration in a sermon because I lost count years ago.
Honestly, it’s only bothered me a few times.  It made me live a transparent life and I believe that is something that God has called me to.

I’m not a natural parent – I’ve covered this before.  I don’t need anyone jumping to convince me otherwise.  Just this morning, I came home from the bus stop to Jeff and Joe playing Sequence for Kids.  Jeff needed to go to work, so he tagged me in.  This was SO HARD for me and he laughed many times as he finished getting ready and listened to me trying to teach Joe the rules of the game.  I do not “play” with kids easily.  I love kids and can teach them with no problem – I’ve gotten some wonderful words of encouragement and love from my preschool students from last year and this year.  I can read books and teach Bible lessons and push swings, but I don’t PLAY well with kids.  I don’t imagine easily or enjoy being outside all that much.  I do love reading to my kids and watching movies with them.  I do my best, but I’m not the most natural at this game.
I’m not a fantastic wife… Catch Jeff in a moment he’s willing to be honest about me.
I am not cuddly.  I am barely affectionate. I am snippy. I am tired. I am consistently overwhelmed, yet can’t show a good reason why.  I’m not a very good housekeeper, so it isn’t chores that are wearing me out.
I love to sit and read side by side or watch movies (though I rarely want to watch something he’s picked and tend to whine about it).  I love to go places and travel and really love to experience things with him.
But I don’t fill the role of wife the way I thought I would OR how I promised to him I would.

I’m a Christian, but I’m not great at recruiting others…
Just this afternoon I came home to find rescue vehicles outside my house for the neighbor across the street.  Based on the number of vehicles and actual police cars, I deduced that this was not going to end with them reviving him from a diabetic episode.  His wife arrived and her sister-in-law rushed to meet her as they dissolved into tears.
He’s gone and all I can think is that I’m not sure I ever shared Jesus with him.  And will I be able to share Jesus with his wife as I tell her I’m sorry for her loss and take food and try to meet needs that might be there.
We’ve lived across the street from each other for ages.  They used to see the church van parked here.  There is no doubt that they know my family was a Christian family.  They might even know so much as the fact that my daddy is a preacher.  But never once have I asked them to come to church with me.  Why not?

I’ll be asking her how I can meet her needs.  I think our church as a grief group – I’m going to check and give her information if so.  I need to not just tell her I’m praying for her, but to actively talk about my faith with my neighbors – the people that I meet when I’m walking down the street.  I see these people every day and while I’m sure they’ve seen the PRAY stickers on my car, I need to be sure I witness.

As a young high schooler, we watched a movie at camp about teens who died in a car accident.  They were standing outside of Heaven’s gate and one of the teens who was going to Hell asked a teen who was (potentially) going to Heaven why she had never told him what he was missing out on.  It scared me out of my mind, but not enough to carry that fear for others…
My friends know I’m a Christian.  Heck, this political season has brought that out more than any other time in my life.  I’ve spoken my beliefs in many ways on social media – not wanting to judge anyone, but not wanting anyone to perish… but I don’t think I’ve mentioned Jesus to my own neighbors.

I don’t want to project an IMAGE.
I want to project the SUBSTANCE of God in Me.

What about you?  Do you follow Christ?  What about when it means you don’t agree with your friends or connections on social media?  What about when it makes you unpopular or brings about ridicule?
Don’t get me wrong – I believe that we should love all people – whether we agree with them or not – but are you sharing with those you love what the Bible says?  You can do that in love.  They don’t have to agree or even walk away from what the Bible says is sin.
We all know that every person who shares Biblical views is a hypocrite because we ALL SIN…
But are you projecting the SUBSTANCE of God in YOU???
Am I???

I want to conform to Christ instead of this World.  Pray for me, will ya?
Pray that I will be more worried about the substance of my life – to my husband, to my children, to my family, to my friends and to total strangers – than the image.

The road to Heaven in narrow and I want the line to get in to be long and full of people who have seen God’s evidence alive in me.

Sorry for the ramble today… pretty sure this was all over the place, but it was too much in my head and I needed to get it out.

Please pray for Joan Bailey.  She’s the wife of the man across the street who passed away this morning. Pray that I’ll be able to meet needs for her and that I’ll find a way to share the love of God in her grief.

Thanks, friends.

And for those of you who love me enough to read my thoughts even when you don’t agree with them – if you’re local to Richmond and want to come check out the church I attend, TELL ME!  I’ll give you directions and details.
If you’re not local to Richmond – I’ll help you find a church where you are.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Hello, God… is THIS what you mean?

I have the best intentions.

In September 2015 I spoke as a breakout speaker at Oak Hill Camp’s Ladies Day. My topic – Being in God’s Word daily.  Guess with what I’ve struggled with since that day…

In September 2016, I spoke again at the same event on the topic of Following your Godly Passion.  At that time I had a PLAN all laid out for the next few years.  I was excited – on fire – to get back to what I started college as a sweet 18 year old for… teaching middle or high school.
The plan in September was that by right now, I’d have my license to teach Middle School Math.  I’d be using Fridays to sub in the middle school math classes in Henrico.  My goal – to be in the classroom as a full-time teacher in September 2017.

Then, an amazing chance came up… something that I would never have said I felt “called to”, but I really did.  Maybe it was that I had such amazing cheerleaders cheering me on to apply for the opportunity.  Maybe I just loved the idea of the place I’d be working at…
Either way, that didn’t pan out.  It evidently wasn’t in God’s plan.

BUT, what was in God’s plan was a conversation that my husband and I had over the Christmas Holiday about IF that plan didn’t come to fruition, I still would not be going back to work full-time this Fall.  I felt such peace and even more excitement with that decision!  I get to stay at North Run teaching 3- and 4-year-old littles about colors and numbers and letters and shapes and JESUS.  AND I get to be HOME for Joe’s first year of elementary school.  That’s one thing I discovered in December that I really wanted.  I don’t want to miss going to the zoo as a chaperone. I don’t want to miss out on any way I can actually help at their school that I can’t do now because he’s not a student (due to insurance liability there are very few opportunities to help during the school day with a little one in tow).

I’ll get to go on their school’s sub list and sub there on Fridays as needed.  What a blessing!

So, I still sit here and wonder what God’s plan is for me…
I’m 39 and I’m still not 100% sure…
One tiny decision at a time feels right, when there are moments that I just want a timeline laid out for me.
Just once, I’d like to say something publicly to a group of women and not have it come back to bite me… I’m still in God’s Word, but that “regular time” thing doesn’t work out each day.  Really – I used to get up every day at 5:15 to do my Bible Study homework and I can barely drag myself out of bed to get Ella up and ready for school right now… or for the past year plus.
My Godly Passion… I was SURE I had that figured out, but I’m discovering that maybe God wants my passion focused on my kids and how I can best serve them and teach them for the time being.  Ella asked this weekend to start a daily devotion time.

So that’s what’s next.
Getting myself refocused on my time alone with God (oh, mercy, 5:15 is early… but any other time of the day I’m not alone and once the kids are in bed we’re lucky if I’m awake long enough to use the restroom and brush my teeth).
Getting Ella up 10 minutes early to do a devotion with me – just us as often as Joe will sleep that extra 10 minutes.

Prayers are always appreciated, friends.  I often fail after I declare something… I’d like to NOT fail at pointing my kids to Jesus.

As for that job I didn’t get – someone got it and is rocking it.
I’m enjoying getting to see them take the reins and make it their own.

My Word (and an update)

I’ve shared a couple of my older posts this weekend – one about being content and one about myself as a mother.  I promise, I’m not getting down on myself unnecessarily or lamenting my failures.

We all have failures, don’t we?  And one of the best things to do on occasion is to look at ourselves clearly and make the changes that need to be made.  This could be hairstyle, weight, wardrobe, or a real change with our behavior and attitude.

One of my biggest shortfalls is that I react to my kids and husband very, very quickly – and not usually in a good (healthy) way.  I expect the kids’ room to be clean, but I have a stack of boxes with some clothes on top of them in my own room.  When I walk into their room and it’s a wreck, I loose it.  When I’m not in a touchy-feely mood (that mood is rare for me), I snap if someone touches me “too much.”  When my kids start yelling at each other, I yell at them.  I react in anger quite often and that needs to change.

I read a poem? concept? something about pausing before you react to the world and people around you.  Over the course of the last two weeks with my kids at home and the last week with my husband home I’ve discovered that I do not incorporate the pause at home very well – with the people who matter the most to me.

So that’s my word for 2017 – PAUSE 

I’m going to work on pausing before reacting to my kids & husband – and let it bleed over into the rest of my world, though I already pause better there.

And an update:
My last post announced that I had something big going on.  Well, that something big didn’t come to be, but it did help me redefine some priorities.

God loves it when I make plans and especially when I make big public declarations of those plans.

I taught a break out session at this past Fall’s Women’s Retreat with Oak Hill Camp.  My topic was Godly Passion.  I had just finished going through some meetings about going back to work full-time teaching middle school math and I was PUMPED about all the opportunities there and fulfilling a plan I made 15 years ago and never got to follow through.

Then, a really cool part-time job was coming open at my church.  I’d be getting paid to work for God – something I’ve done in the past and regretted walking away from.  I was so sure I’d get it, too.  I had several big time cheerleaders behind me on the position I was seeking and I really did feel like it was a sure thing.  I starting putting things into place to make it work and told a few people it would affect.
I even talked to Jeff about wanting it to be my goal instead of teaching full time.  I want to have a more flexible schedule next year when Joe is in kindergarten.  I want to be his room mom and go on field trips – something my current job and the job I was seeking would allow.

It didn’t happen.  I didn’t get the job, but will support the person who did in every way I can.  Church folks reading this – please know that I’m not disappointed.  I just know God has something else in mind.

Maybe he wants me to go through with teaching full-time, so he didn’t want me to take this path into something that would prevent that for more than a couple years while I get Joe settled into elementary school. I do miss working with teens full time & miss my sarcasm landing instead of soaring over the heads of my 3 & 4 year olds.

So, tomorrow I go back to the preschool I’ve come to love and DREAD leaving if that day ever comes.  I’ll work at North Run for the rest of my working days if I can make it work.  Honestly, while I never saw myself working with preschoolers, I love it more than I ever thought I would and would miss it.
I’ll continue in my volunteer positions at church (something that would’ve had to go if I’d gotten the job) and love the people and kids I work with in those.
I’ll keep my ears & heart open to God’s leading in the next couple of years to see where He’s really leading me.

Over and over again I hear the song, “Thy Will”.  Melanie Savage sang it in church a few months ago.  I’d heard it before, but really paying attention to the words when she sang it made it become a focus when it comes on.   Funnily, it played on the way TO and FROM church yesterday – the day the new position started with someone else in it.
Obviously, God is telling me that HIS WILL is at work and I need not fear or worry.
I know he sees me.
I know he hears me.
His plans are for me.
Goodness he has in store.

But first, I PAUSE…

http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=1JM9ECNU

There is a Post Coming

I have so much to share – so much to say… but I can’t right now.

Which kills me!!!!

I’m an OPEN BOOK and right now, I’m keeping some things very close to my heart.

It will all come out within this month, but until I get some answers to my prayers, I can’t post what is making my head spin here.

Here is what I will share today – God is working in my something mighty.

I don’t know exactly what it is yet… but He’s at work and I could use your prayers about it.

Have you ever been here?  The place where you can feel God tugging at you, but you’re not exactly sure what direction he’s pulling you?  It’s scary and exciting and can only mean that I’m tuned into him.  I just wish he’d light the path he wants me to take with neon.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

God, I am seeking your will with ALL my heart.  I am calling to you and praying to you for answers and guidance… and a neon pathway.

I don’t want to be a people pleaser – I want to be a God pleaser.  Starting right now.

That post that I’m writing, but can’t publish yet?  Pray that answers will be neon clear to me post haste.

Thanks.

I Am Not Afraid…

“The reason why we look so crazy as Christians, is because we see a world that the rest don’t see. We see a God-bathed world in which we are perfectly safe. So safe, so set free from fear that we can even love our enemies without thought of the consequences.”
– Skye Jethani

My friend, Chris, just posted this quote on Facebook and it floored me.

I’ve been told more than once, that my optimistic view of life is annoying.  Though I don’t actually see myself as an optimist.  I’m definitely a pessimist (though those who called me annoying are).  I’m actually very much a realist.  I see a problem and try to work to resolve it.  I don’t leave it be figuring that it will just work itself out or even that God will work that problem out for me.

I’m a realist, but I’m a realist who sees everything through God’s eyes – or at least I attempt to.  That doesn’t absolve me of responsibility.  I’m definitely at the root of many of my problems.  If my kids veg in front of the TV all day – that my fault.  I can’t blame their insane behavior on anyone buy my own self for allowing them to veg instead of going to do something active – like play in a park (which we will be doing shortly).

When everything is crashing around me, I have a very steady God to hold on to through my storm.  Our sermon at Fairmount this past week focused on God being our ROCK!  It is that concept that has allowed me to face divorce at 22 when I didn’t believe it was God’s will.  It is that concept that keeps my head above water when I look in the mirror and see the parts of me I don’t like – the mom who yells even though she doesn’t want to; the wife who isn’t affectionate; the daughter who doesn’t call as often as she should; the friend who doesn’t “show up” when another friend is in real need.

There are so many things that we face that are dead scary – the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, a marriage crumbling…  And some things that are exciting scary – like the fact that I’m going to meet with the math supervisor for Henrico County Schools this Friday to see what’s next for me in getting into the classroom in the next couple years.

BUT GOD… If you are are follower of Christ – a Christian not just in name, but in action – then every scary thing isn’t a desolate place where you are alone.  GOD is with you.

God was with me in high school when I watched a friend die from a vicious cancer that ate him to pieces and took his life.

God was with me when I laid on a floor, brokenhearted, at 19 years old wishing that the boy I loved more than my own salvation (totally dangerous territory) would just love me in return.

God was with me when I rebounded (i.e rushed like a roaring freight train) into a marriage to a man who was everything I’d ever prayed for, yet couldn’t let go of his own perfection to see that marriage is HARD and we were both at fault for our issues so he walked away and took every penny.

God was with me when I made decisions out of His will that will affect my life every day for the rest of my life – decisions that I pray daily that he will take control of the results and help walk me through the consequences, good and bad.

God was with me when I found out I was pregnant earlier in my marriage than we’d planned and that pregnancy derailed all my plans for my future.

God was with me as I looked into the face of that beautiful child and promised her that I’d let her down over and over, but that I’d teach her about our forgiving, loving God who would keep me afloat with every parenting failure.

God was with me when my best friend was in another state facing a cancer trial, then died before I’d bought my ticket to go see her.  God was with me as I faced down that guilt from the failure of “showing up”.

God was with me when I was thinking that I needed some sort of job and he opened a door to a classroom at North Run and invited me to walk through it.

And God will be with me no matter what comes next…

I am not afraid because I’m able to look out into the world and see every person as one that God loves.  If I look at my enemy as a creation of God, how can I spit in their face?

If you don’t have a relationship with Jesus, let’s talk.  Because being afraid of this world is a hard way to live.  And don’t get me wrong – I know that more bad is in my path and I just can’t see it yet.  I know that Satan will work harder today to get me to fail because I’ve posted about God being my rock and trying to live my life following Jesus.  Again, I see the reality of this world… but my faith in my amazing God allows me to say to Satan, “Bring it on.”  (Whew!  That’s a scary thing to really put out there in a real way!)

I’m not a perfect Christian.  I’ll say that over and over again.  But I have a real hope to attain perfection someday in Heaven and I’d love to share that with you.  Call me a crazy Christian – it’s a label I’ll wear with pride 🙂