,

Destiny and Opportunity

I sit at my desk typing on my iMac and listening to iTunes. Yes, Steve Jobs influenced all of our lives for the better. I am saddened by his death but he gives us a powerful illustration that all of us must face death. Whether young, old, brilliant, less than smart, rich, poor, famous or annonymous…we all will face the final hour. I don’t know much about his personal life other than he had 4  children and from what I could gather from news reports, he was a Buddhist. He entered a Christless eternity. That increases my sadness but encourages me to pray for his family.

Did he ever hear the Gospel of Jesus? Did he have a praying mother? Were there those around him that failed to present the good news of Christ to him because they were intimidated? Did he reject the good news? I have no way of knowing.

God blessed him with a brilliant and creative mind. God gave him another chance to live after his liver transplant. God gave him his family and God gave him great success. God loved Steve Jobs. “For God so loved Steve Jobs that he sent His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth on HIm should not perish but have everlasting life.” God loves each one of us – the Bible tells us that God is not willing that any should perish – that is why Jesus died so that no one would have to go into a Christless eternity.

Are you sure of your destiny? Is Jesus your personal Savior? If you are not sure, take just a moment today to repent of your sin (we are all sinners) ask His forgiveness and ask HIm to come into your life as Savior and Lord. It’s quite simple to do – so simple many miss it. In the instant you tell Him, you then belong to Him forever and ever.

And for those of us who have Jesus in our lives, let’s not keep quiet – but openly share the good news to those around us. Our destiny in Christ is sure –  let’s not keep quiet.

God is in control

So much has happened…I have moved into my new house…they moved me while I was in Florida for the premier of Fear Not Tomorrow, the Worship Experience at Disney World. I left them unpacking as I left for vacation.  On the way, I stopped to visit my father who seemed very tired and weak. That same afternoon he had a visitor who stayed 2 hours so he was worn out. He was a dear and fully present – just very tired.

The day I left Disney World, I was having breakfast by myself and noticed a family at a table next to me. The mother was agitated and being rough with her little girl – yelling, grabbing, pulling at her all the while on the phone. I glared at her. The little girl stuck her thumb in her mouth and went to cuddle under her father’s arm. My heart ached for the child. When the mother was off the phone I approached her and said that she seemed distressed and asked if there was anything I could do. She told me that their home in central Pennsylvania was being flooded – this was the first vacation they had in 6 years and now their home was flooded. She was weeping; my heart ached for her. (how our attitude changes when our perspective changes – I had judged on the surface!)  I happened to remember that I had a copy of Fear Not Tomorrow in my suitcase…I gave it to her and told her that I was sure she was overloaded but just to hear the title: Fear Not Tomorrow God is Already There. Hang onto that. She thanked me and I left but have thought of them and prayed for them often.

I have had 2 weeks at the beach. Last week we had great weather and 4 of my grandchildren were here – so much fun. They loved the water and the 1-year-old thought the beach was just one big sand box for him. He had sand everywhere! They left last Friday to get back in time for an Earth, Wind and Fire concert. On Saturday I spoke twice in Myrtle Beach – such dear ladies….I left there immediately to drive the 2.5 hours to Charleston to attend my dear friend’s son’s wedding. It was lovely. I got home by midnight…long day. The next day the mother of the groom came to spend the night and we had fun reliving the wedding.

As she left, I went to the airport to pick up a friend from Maryland who stayed with me until today. We had so much fun…talking, shopping (finding great bargains), eating fresh seafood and since it has been cool and rainy did not get on the beach except one time.

I will clean and pack up tomorrow…and leave for home Saturday in time to join my kids for fondue as a birthday dinner for my 8 year old granddaughter. Hard to believe – time has gone so fast.

I am eager to get home and begin to put things away and get settled into my new home. On Tuesday I leave for Illinois to speak…

The day I drove down to the beach was the day we commemorated 9/11. I stopped to attend church in Spartanburg with my special friends, Jane and Larry Bateman. Their pastor called us all to the altar to get on our faces and pray for this country. It was quite moving…and an appropriate way to remember the ones we lost,  those who grieve, still serve and those who lead our nation. We must “humble ourselves and pray, seek God’s face …” Especially as we anticipate new elections and the political season…pray, pray, pray. I am so grateful to know God is on the throne and “He sets up one and puts down another”. He is in control and He is trustworthy. We need not fear tomorrow, He is already there.

This is a truth I have to remind myself of every day as I face uncertainty.

,

Heaven Listened and Joined In

Well…life has picked up speed! I am meeting myself coming and going.

I move to a new house next week while I am in Orlando (pray that all the details fall in place)…I am going for the Experience Conference which is the national conference for worship leaders. We are presenting, Fear Not Tomorrow, a Worship Experience. As I mentioned we premiered it last Sunday night in Knoxville at First Baptist Church Concord. It was amazing! About all I could say was, “Wow”! It was such an incredible experience. They had about 4500 people in the church, 250 in the choir plus a full orchestra and we raised the roof with praise for the God is always there. I cannot describe how I felt – and much of the time I was just plain teary. I was overcome with emotion. It was a powerful experience.

The music writer, Sarah Mentzer is amazingly talented, as is the lyricist, Brandee Vander Griff and arranger, Tim Paul. Everyone involved is precious and not self-seeking. We had wonderful support from Robert White Johnson, Al Denson and Randall Bayne. A fabulous team!

The  church was very gracious to me and the pastor, Dr. Sager and his wife, are so authentic, so transparent. The whole church is an authentic community – like I have been talking about with The Transparent Church. First Baptist Concord is a great example. The folks there are real with God, each other and yet lovingly so. And what can I say about the music director, Jeff Lawrence? What a gem of a man. He never seemed to stress – he never yelled at his choir or even used a harsh tone. Always a smile on his face but very serious about his craft. There didn’t seem to be any backbiting or jealousy about who got to do what solo. And even when he jumbled them up putting sopranos next to altos and basses, they all rolled with the punches. And the sound they made was heavenly.

As a matter of fact, I am quite sure heaven listened in and was very pleased with the offering of worship. I think they joined in! (Now don’t anyone fuss that I am being presumptuous. I don’t know what happened in heaven but I do know what happened in that church.)  I was humbled by the experience. That someone had the vision and talent to put my words into music and for it to be so worshipful just made me want to worship the One who has never left me and is in my tomorrow with its packing and upheaval. He has prepared a place for me!

When your world is shaken!

Wow!

My assistant and I were at our desks when the house began to shake. Not quite knowing what it was, I sat still to wait for it to pass. It didn’t. A picture fell. Books toppled. It went on for quite a few minutes – probably seconds – but it felt like minutes. Finally, I said to my assistant, Krista, “This is an earthquake!”

They are very rare for us in our part of the world. My home is a solid brick house and it shook! For what seemed like 5 minutes and then there was an aftershock. The ceiling fans rattled and continued to rattle. Soon my husband called up and said, “I need help here.” A bottle had fallen and broken spilling its contents on the floor. We got busy cleaning it up.

It was odd to stand in my upstairs and realize there was nowhere to go – it was all shaking. Nothing to hold on to. Nothing to run to. It was all in upheaval.

I was reminded that Christ is our solid rock, strong tower. We are safe in Him.

Years ago when my world was rocked by heartache, I remember memorizing this verse, “For though the mountains be removed and the hills may shake, My loving-kindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken, says the Lord who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54: 10

God and His character are the one solid thing. We cling to Him.

By the way, if any of you are near Knoxville on Sunday, the premier of Fear Not Tomorrow, the Musical Worship Experience will be held at First Baptist Concord Church. I’ll be there and am so thrilled to be part of this amazing work. If you can, join us as we worship this unchanging, unshakable God.

Moving!

Thank you for praying! My house has sold!  A few days ago I was with someone who prayed that a person would come along from out-of-town and want to live in Charlottesville. And would you believe a lady came in from California? And wants to live in Charlottesville! She signed a contract and wants to move September 15th. Yikes. Lots to do before then… And I will be away when I have to move so… I have to begin to get ready now!!

In this market, I am so thankful to God for allowing this. Huge burden lifted. Without a second income from Greg, I just could not carry this house any longer.

If you read my last blog where I was frustrated with God and yet wanting to put a “spiritual” face on it all. Well, this was it. I was so frustrated that the house wasn’t selling.

So…would you praise God with me today! And pray that all the logistics come together.

I looked, in between trips, for a house in the Shenandoah Valley where I had lived for 20+ years. I really wanted to be back in my old neighborhood. I loved it. But the 2 houses I looked at, one was too small and the other too expensive and not kept up.  Finally, found a lovely house that was not on the market – it’s in a great area – very private. It has great storage. Everything has recently been painted or upgraded. It is in a homeowners association situation so the grass and snow and mulching will be taken care of. Now I will be gardening for fun not just to keep up with the weeds!! The house, is not big but has room for my children and grandchildren to come visit.

I will be gone a good bit before the 15th and , in fact, will not be here for the actual move! So I will recruit friends. God is going show me new lessons about trusting Him. While it is a AA slogan, it is a good one, “Let go and let God”.

As I am able, I will let you know how it is going! If God has brought me this far, He’ll see me through the whole move.

If you are struggling with a situation where God doesn’t seem to be answering…let this be an encouragement to you. He does answer in His time and way and in ways that are so much better than we can imagine. Our job is to trust Him. He knows what He is doing.

,

God Interrupts

This summer I had the opportunity to listen to Tim Keller’s sermon series on the fruit of the Spirit. When he taught on love he said that so often our motivation isn’t because we love but because we want to look good to others. If I take a casserole to my neighbor, is it out of love for her or to make myself look good? That sort of idea.

I have been struggling with trying to manage a bad situation God’s way. I have placed myself under some Christian leaders who have prayed for me and walked the path with me. Dear men. But the situation is not getting resolved and I am frustrated. This morning I was taking my walk and talking to God. As I had told these men, I told God that I really wanted to do things His way.

God’s Spirit interrupted me! He let me know that wasn’t true. He showed me that I was saying I wanted to do things God’s way to make myself look good. So that these men would think I am more godly than I actually am! (Now they may read this blog and find out what I am really like!)

When God’s Spirit tells you that – you don’t argue. I confessed that He was right and asked for forgiveness.

There are several situations in my life right now that I wish God would just get settled. But He is teaching me and I know that even in my frustration, He has a much better plan than I do. He sees my tomorrow. He knows my needs. He will take care of me. He will guide me. And interrupt my prayers if need be!

God is so good. I know I can trust Him – sometimes it is hard for me to put that into practice. It’s hard to wait in the dark but that is really what life is all about. I once heard someone say that this life is the only opportunity we have to trust Him in the dark. Once we get to heaven we won’t need to trust – just adore.

 

Taking the plunge

I had a challenging 3 days in British Columbia with a group of writers, publishers, thinkers – people who were strangers to me when I got there. But it wasn’t long before we were all bonded friends. One thing that did it was leaping 20 feet into glacial water. I vowed I would be the little old lady huddled under a blanket while the others leapt from the ledge into glacial waters. But…I did not want to be out done by young whippersnappers!

When the boat arrived at the rock, I jump off and hurried to the ledge, asked a few questions as to where to jump – how to best approach it – then JUMPED! Before I could let reason rule the day. Wow! The water came straight from the glacier and it was bone-numbing cold! Jumping from 20 feet also jarred these old bones! I’ve been on Advil ever since! Would I do it again? Maybe….I was told on the last night, “You’re a feisty lady.” Good! My mother was, too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was a terrific gathering of thinkers, writers, publishers… We had time for introspection guided by Donald Miller. Worship led by Ian Cron. Fun organized by the Goff family. Small group discussion lead by open hearts – transparent about what was happening in their lives. Such an encouragement to me. The first day as we were winding our way to the water taxi, I was challenged by Luke Hendrix who said the words, “submit” and “trust”. Those are my struggle areas but it was clear to me that God wanted me to meditate on those while there. How did Luke know? 🙂

While there wasn’t time for “rest” as in sleep and being inert, it was a great change of pace. I found a kindred spirit in Henry Cloud who had come hoping for inert-ness, like me. But we found so much more.

I will share more but for now I just had to brag about my jumping off the ledge!! 20 feet! Hooray for me!! I took the plunge and am so glad I took the risk. Reminds me of that great book by Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day. All about risks and growing through them. I think I grew a lot on this trip.

I owe so much to those who encouraged me. Accepted me where I was. Allowed me to be transparent about my journey. Prayed for and with me. Laughed and cried with me. They didn’t offer advice they just listened and loved.

Like I want the Church to be. Like the Church was meant to be.

,

Walls

There is a scripture in Isaiah 49:16 that reads, “Your walls are continually before Me.”

I have been feeling a bit hemmed in lately. Impatient to break free and grumbling to God. After all, can’t He see that these walls are hindering me, hampering me? I am feeling cramped and want out! Sooner rather than later.

This morning as I went for my early morning walk – to try to beat the heat – I began to ponder again this idea that if He sees the walls and the frustration they bring to me, why won’t He take them down?  Set me free. Here I am trudging along with all of nature praising God – the trees with their limbs lifted high, the birds singing in an orchestral chorus – and I am one of His creators grumbling about what He isn’t doing in my life! Who do I think I am?

Then I began to ponder “walls”. Walls don’t just act as a barrier to keep us from being free – they protect us! Walls strengthen. Defend. Mark territory. In biblical days, a city without walls was exposed to great risk.

So these walls that I was grumbling about have been placed by God to protect, strengthen, defend and mark me as His own child. So I can praise Him for these walls…He is working to make me all that He wants me to be. The walls don’t hinder Him! My job  is to confess my grumbling, “murmuring”, and begin to trust His plans and purposes for my walls. He is protecting me – perhaps from myself!

 

Caterpillar Purpose

While I was on my retreat several weeks ago I had a fun experience.

I had taken a walk and spent some time praying. I was relaxed and enjoying nature. As I walked the gravel road I looked down to see a small caterpillar. We call them “wooly worms”. He was marching a long at a fast clip – for a caterpillar. As if he was late for an appointment. Nothing distracted him.  He was determined to meet some deadline he had. In a hurry – as caterpillars go. He maneuvered gravel, dirt, cow pies…or this “giant” that was walking beside him watching. He was focused.  Nothing discouraged him. He just kept marching along.

I began to think about him…as he maneuvered his caterpillar obstacles around the gravel and dust…did he know that he was a butterfly in disguise? Did he know one day, very soon, he would have wings and fly? Did he know he would soar above it all?

I doubt it. Onward he marched. But it didn’t alter the reality that he was going to be changed. He would rise above the dust and gravel in beauty  – floating upon the breeze to see the glory of the floral world and spread the pollen for all that God created him to be.

We will too. No matter the circumstances – and we may be marching as fast as we can – but God has built into us a beauty and purpose that perhaps we cannot even imagine in our daily “march”. God has built into us an amazing purpose that He will fulfill in us. Let us yield and not be impatient with our caterpillar stage. God has a glorious future for us.

4th of July pictures

I hope you each had a great and safe fourth of July. I certainly did. I drove back down to N.C. to be with my 3 children and all 8 of my grandchildren. We had fun at the Montreat parade which is a typical small town event. Everyone comes out in festive wear and almost anyone can be in the parade. You see people you haven’t seen in a year or more. The town is so small that the parade circles back around on itself! The favorite for my grandson was the fire truck! And the fact that the paraders could throw candy…and did.

I ate too many hot dogs! But I enjoyed each bite! Late that night we sat in my father’s front yard and watched the fireworks in the valley below. We had perfect seats and no crowds.

We were joined by friends from Waynesboro, Glen, Kim and Kristen Holmon. He pastors the First Presbyterian Church in Waynesboro which was the church that sent my grandparents to China as missionaries.They seemed to roll with the punches – mass confusion, laughter, cheating at Rook, family “stuff” and antiquing! And I was so happy that my father finally had the opportunity to meet them. They have been special in our lives.

My son-in-law, Todd, was kind enough to go up the night before and park his van along the parade route – under a trees so we’d be in the shade. He is thoughtful and always up for adventure. Perfect husband for Windsor.

I enjoy my children and wish they all lived closer. I keep trying to talk Windsor and Todd into moving south.

Pictures: watching the parade (Walker, my oldest grandson is in the cowboy hat) little Payson being held by his mother, Windsor, is leaning out the window, the Holmons are in the very back, picnic on the front lawn, family with Daddy but I have to get a picture of Windsor and her fmaily from someone else…mine didn’t turn out well. Plus her husband has great photos of my family with Daddy. I’ll post them soon.