Thursday, May 13, 2010

Hello world, How is your day going?
I was just with someone who is really hurting about their teenager, who is threatening to run away. Immediately, I responded with the utmost confidence, "Well, that'd be okay, because he would just run smack dab into the arms of God."
Why did I say that?
Because that family loves the Lord and have done their best to raise this kid up right. Furthermore, I"m sure they had their baby dedication day when that kid was an infant. And I'm sure that they are not raising that kid alone. They pray.
The parent's response was a weak, "i hope so" to which I said, "No, you know so!"
Why did I say that?
Because that parent has prayed about the turmoil this kid is going through. God heard the cry of this pained parent's heart. And though we can't always see it as it is happening, God is there threading His love through the earth like a chord. He has an interest in this kid. You know He does. That's what we should focus on.
I drew them with gentle cords, With bands of love, And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them. Hosea 11:4
Not only is He interested. He's a participant in our kids' lives.

p.s. My book WordSpeak: His Word, Your Voice is now available for purchase. There are lots of stories in it that illustrate how God participated in my life. Just email me and you can buy it for $16.00.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy 2010!

I love the sound of the year "twenty-ten." It no longer sounds awkward, but it has a feel like we have really arrived in the 21st century. We are no longer newcomers. We are established and running in this century. Time goes fast. Those of you who are young may not quite understand, but the older you grow the faster it goes.

Which is why I want to write to you about stillness today. I have a lot to do this week. I feel pressured, and a little frenzied. Getting back into a routine after the holidays actually feels good. Regular schedules, common food (finally the Christmas cookies are gone!) (Oh wait, last night I baked a new batch of chewy oatmeal cookies from the dough I had left over in the fridge). Well, almost, I got into my routine after-the-holiday-diet.

Anyway, after reviewing my journal from last year's vacation, I came across this one entry where I was expressing heightened frustration. I remember it well. Though hidden within its message, ultimately it is a story about stillness, and taking the time to connect to the Almighty God. See what you think:

I had the map! I could see it was better to go from route 5 to highway 8 to get to our destination. They, on the other hand (those in control of the steering wheel and the advisory team in the back seat) took another path, one that was circuitous, windy, and crowded. In the end we sort of fell onto route 5, eventually merging onto highway 8, where we could have been if they had listened to me.

I could have saved them a lot of time and frustration, but "nobody listens to me." I sat quietly, but my insides were churning,thick as butter. It occurred to me that I said this alot - "Nobody listens to me." Or my public version, "Don't listen to me, after all I am holding the map," promptly bringing the response, "Yeah, Mom, poor you,nobody listens to you." Okay, maybe I deserve that.

I tried to distract myself by continuing my read through the Bible, but I was trudging through the Old Testament and the the story was tediously the same. God was forever sending His children messages through His prophets to turn back and follow Him, and Him alone. He would say, "Don't go that way, go this way," or "Don't do that, follow my way." They repeatedly ignored these words bringing years of destruction, eventual repentance and repair only to fall back into that pattern again.

I thought myself, "Just how stupid can these people be? Don't they know they can avoid so much trouble if they simply do what God is telling them to do?" But like my people that day, they had a mind of their own and wanted to try it their way first. "So much unnecessary pain" is all I could say.

Back to my lame-duck position in the front seat of the car where I sat nursing my grudge, I couldn't be distracted from the current logjam we were experiencing on the road (which we might have avoided had they listened to me).I began to hear a voice, the still-small-voice kind that sounded like a close friend who was reading with me over my shoulder: "They don't listen to Me either."

I chuckled aloud. How funny to hear God speak in this familiar way.

"Oh, good morning, Lord, how are you today?" I said in response. Then thinking that now that I had His attention (or was it, He had mine?) I began to ask Him about our plans for the day.

"Which way should we go? What's the best attraction to visit first? What's the weather going to be like?" Etc, etc. But of course, there was only silence.

After a few seconds,I became still, feeling a little embarrassed. He felt so present. In an instance, I had experienced the other side to my quandary. I wanted to get the answers to my questions, and hadn't even considered being still and listening to Him. He didn't want to talk to me about my plans right then. I sensed more than knew that He just wanted to share this moment of frustration with me, frustration at the waywardness of His children, frustration that they don't listen to Him either.

I felt like a channel of frustration through which God could be heard and understood. And why not? I needed to be heard and considered. Why wouldn't He? So I decided to simply allow the feelings to flow between us. I would make a space of stillness and quietness to allow God to be heard and understood though me. I know this sounds strange, but it made perfect sense to me at the time. I am no prophet, and I certainly did not have an audience to share this profoundly simple experience with ("Hey guys, God just spoke to me and He's frustrated to about not being listened to. Isn't that cool?)

But it seemed enough, to be with God experiencing the same emotion, and if only for a moment to connect with Him in such a personal way. It made a difference to me to know God understood my frustration and I His. We felt like friends.

I know this was an authentic experience because it changed me. Even now, months later, as I run into His presence to ask Him about the plans for my busy days, occasionally I am reminded of that day in the front seat of the car. And I remember what it felt like for God to stand by and watch His own kids make their paths through trafficky places, thorny and aligned with frustration. He could have helped them. He has the map. Heck, He created the map and had it leather bound. And I hear again the frustration echoing down the corridors of the Old Testament, "If only they would listen to Me."

Not often, but at least now, sometimes, I turn my ear to Him and ask, "What do You want to talk about today?" My paths seem secondary at that moment. I know He'll let me know the way in which I should go, but for now I hear His heart lovingly beating the words, "Just be with Me." My soul settles down and I share some of the best moments of my day with my best Friend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


The holidays are fast approaching. Company is coming. I haven't even started to clean. I'm finishing a portion of the book WordSpeak: His Word, Your Voice that I decided to share with you instead of talking about holiday woes and wonders. It's a story about the wonders of obeying the Lord. Hope you enjoy it. . .

The Power of Obedience

You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there. So he did what the LORD had told him. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. (I Kings 17:4-6)

For several weeks, we had been batting about the lessons we had learned at the most recent CBMC Family Camp. Our Bible teacher, Maj. Ian Thomas taught a beautiful picture of faithful obedience from 1 Kings 17, when Elijah first came on the scene. Each time the word of the Lord came to Elijah asking him to do some thing, Elijah faithfully “went and did according to the word of the Lord.”

God sent Elijah to a widow who was struggling to feed her son during the awful three year famine that Elijah had pronounced upon the land. When Elijah came to her, he asked her for some bread and water, which she would be hard-pressed to supply. She explained that she had only a handful of flour and a little oil left in the jar, and was planning to prepare it for herself and her son, so that they could “eat it and die.”

Then Elijah did a remarkable thing. He asked to her go ahead and feed him first, and if she did, her jar of oil and barrel of flour would never be empty until the Lord sent rain on the face of the earth. So she “went and did according to the word of Elijah” and sure enough she never ran out of food, according to the word of the Lord which Elijah had pronounced.

Maj. Thomas began his discourse on the power of an obedient life by informing us that “If you’re told what to do (by God) and do as you’re told, even the ravens will feed you.” In other words, when we do what God says, He provides. The participants of the camp had fun trying to quote the motto back and forth to one another. At camp, it was easy to believe in miracles.

Coming home was always a challenge to carry forth the great things we’d learned at camp. Since our coffers were thin much of the time, we were greatly impacted by this teaching. Upon returning home, when challenging events continued to occur, my husband, the consummate cheerleader, would often quote this motto to me -- “If you’re told what to do, and do as you’re told, even the ravens will feed you” -- and, he would add, “I’m an obedient sucker!” He truly was doing all he knew to do to support his family, but the pantry was getting thinner and thinner.

I being the consummate “stuffer” had stopped complaining about how low our food supply was, and one night it felt as if everything came to a screeching halt. Our Sunday School class was having its desert party at our house, which meant I supplied the house and they the goodies. I literally had nothing to feed the kids that night, but was anticipating the snacks that were coming.

Not long before the guests were to arrive, my husband came home and upon opening the refrigerator he noticed it was decidedly empty. “Whatcha feeding the kids?” he asked casually.

“Nothing,” I replied, as he went to the pantry to find it truly bare. Panic rose in his voice and face as he realized the situation.

“Why aren’t there any groceries?” he said going back to the freezer, knowing full well the money had run out. “I’ll go out and rob a bank if I have to!”

“Let them eat cake.” I replied with very little tongue-in-cheek. Then I quickly assured him that the kids could eat the cheese and crackers and fruits that were coming before I let them eat the cake. Food was on its way.

Before you judge me harshly, I had been trying to tell my husband for awhile of our impending shortage, but not only was he distracted, he had heard it all before. He seemingly had tuned me out. Besides we had been invited to a CBMC luncheon the next day and I knew we would be okay for one more day. And we did have over $25.00 in our checking account.

Sitting in church always feels safe, so we went about our Sunday morning routine, having eaten the leftovers for breakfast. When the offering plate at church came around my husband took out the checkbook and looked questioningly at me. I knew what he was about to do, and I totally approved. It was literally the last of our barrel. I felt much like the widow from the Elijah story - it wouldn’t make much difference anyway. So breathing a prayer, my husband laid his offering of twenty-six dollars and fifty cents in the plate.

Looking back, I realize how depressed I truly was during this time period. Much of the time I was just numb. At home while changing clothes for our lunch engagement, Stan found a quarter in his shorts and pulled it out saying, “Look, Laura, it’s already started.” Going to the car to scour for change for the toll booth, he came back truly excited, with four more quarters in his hand.

“It’s already multiplied 400%!” he exclaimed. “If you do what you’re told. . .”

“I know,” I interrupted, “even the ravens will feed you.” I thought he was having much too much fun for our dire circumstances. But his attitude no matter how real or contrived was contagious. Deciding not to take the toll, instead he laid the $1.25 in change on top of our sideboard so it could “mate and multiply while we were gone,” so he said.

We all hopped in the car and began the long drive to our destination, where we would be fed in return for serving on a family camp committee. We followed the directions down the side of the toll road, off onto the side roads and turned into the village until we came to a stop light.

“What street do we turn on?” Stan asked, interrupting my daze. “You have the directions. Do I turn here?” I looked up at the large green sign hanging over the cross street and down at the directions. It took a second or two to answer.

“Yes, it says to turn right on Ravensway Blvd.” and then I asked, “Is this some kind of joke?” But there it was, the biggest, greenest street sign I had ever seen. And just in case, we missed the joke, the directions continued to guide us past “Ravens Caw,” Ravens Nest,” Ravens Pass.” Well, you get the picture.

We arrived at our destination and I gave the kids their last minute admonitions to be polite, say “thank you,” punctuated with the tag “Be sure to go back for seconds!” We walked up to the door, rang the bell, and were greeted by our host who, I kid you not, had the blackest hair and beakish nose which gave him the unmistakable appearance of a raven.

Inwardly, I chuckled for the first time in a while, “So, Lord, these are the ravens who will feed us? Bless them.”

It was a wonderful day, and even though no one could know of our inward fears, I felt relieved by nice friends and good food. Going home everyone settled into our warm car with full stomachs for the ride home. Stan laid between us a small book given to him by his friend, Bruce Witt. Stan had shared with him during the day of our morning’s struggle. The book was called, Let Go, by Fenelon. “If we let go, we’ll drown,” I thought spontaneously and I began to flip through the book. As I did, money just spilled into my lap - $120.00 in cash.

“What did you do?” I asked, “Ask him for money?” How sad that the only emotion I felt in that instant was embarrassment. But looking at Stan I could see his answer. Tears were streaming down his face as he shook his head from side to side, mouthing the words “no” he did not.

“You don’t know how hard it was,” he said finally gaining his composure, “for me to put that money in the offering plate today. It was like taking food out of my kids’ mouths.”

We were at the beginning of a remarkable time of experiencing God’s grace, of getting to know God as Father in very personal and practical ways. The words of the motto from camp weren’t simply catchy, they were true. An alarm bell in heaven went off that morning when Stan offered God the “last of our barrel.” God knew of our dilemma and moved on our behalf. I believe it became very personal to God when we put the full weight of our trust on Him. Because my husband had planted the smallest seed in faith, God came in and took over.

By the end of the next week, Stan received a raise from his part-time employer which was initially paid to him in the form of a check for $1200.00. A week after that we received an unexpected refund from an insurance company for double that amount. Does God have a sense of humor? Probably, but these provisions weren’t a whim of God. They lined up with a law of God, that says the just shall live by faith, and whatever a person sows that is what they reap.

The Lesson: If you do what you’re told, and you’re told what to do by God, even the ravens will feed you. (who can improve on that?)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Please tell me what you think (or maybe not)

We're far past the last supper, which I lovingly prepared (for the 3rd night in a row, see below). The "eagle has landed" meaning Jennie is now settling into her new nest in Dallas, TX as Jill's roommate. Everything went so well.

I'm now settled down into finishing this con-farn'd book called, WordSpeak: His Word, Your Voice. I'm about to pull my hair out! Who knew it was so hard to write a book? I thought it was perfectly finished and then the editor entered the picture and took it all apart and told me to put it back together better. Well, this is what I have to say about that . . .

Thank God for editors. She was correct about what she saw in the "perfectly penned" words I had written earlier. A lot of it needed to be thrown out, condensed and evaluated. It's amazing what we can get away with when no one else is looking over our shoulder. In the privacy of my own mind, I thought it was tre' wonderful.

Indeed, the editor praised the content highly. In fact, I had gotten quite a bit of encouragement about the book when another editor reviewed it. But, this time, I got the reader's perspective and that is, after all, who I am trying to reach.

I think there is a far-reaching lesson here. Don't we all think we are just fine the way we are when there is no outside interference? I know I did. But I am so thankful God put someone in my life to pull me up a bit short and say, "Let's think this over." Those of you who will be forced to read the book one day because you are my friends and family (because you have to!) will be ever so grateful for the scalpel-wielding editor. I believe she saved me from humiliation.

So the little lesson is this. Welcome the people who criticize you. You can't do life successfully alone. Hopefully they will have some grace to soften the blows, but consider this: maybe they are sent by God to clean you up a bit, or make you more useable, or just to polish the facets of your diamond. I have to go pray for a teachable spirit now. . .

And get back to work . Ugh.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

back to the little things

It's nice to get back to the little things I was talking about before some of the "big things" hit. This week I took the time to prepare a nice dinner for my family. It was so weird because I cook dinner most of the week nights, but this time it was different. If you begin to think that this woman is going a bit "balmy" after you read this, rest assured, I'm really okay.

But this time I took my own advice (about being careful with the little things) and decided to prepare this dinner with love. I know it sounds hokey, but there it is. My little experiment had an effect on me. I wanted to make something extra delicious and "homey" cause this is the last week my 20-something daughter, Jennie, will be with us. She is following her destiny to Dallas.

I started earlier in the day preparing a turkey dinner with our special cornbread/broccoli dish, with stir-fry veggies, sizzled with olive oil and shallots (mmm, smells so good). I wanted the smells to meet each person at the door, instead of my usual throw-it-together an hour before we eat. I find that to be stressful for everyone, and not enjoyable for me. So this time, I decided to enjoy the prep work. So, while I was working I was pondering all the good times I've had with my daughter this year, and how much I love her and appreciate who she is.

Anyway, before I get sappy, and start slobbering. . . I was sort of applying this love thing to the dinner, being careful with each dish and utensil as if this was some sort of ritual - a love-sending one. I had everything ready on time; the turkey was actually "resting" (before you carve it- 20") I was so calm and proud and expectant. But guess what?

I forgot that everyone wasn't going to be there for supper. My husband had a focus group, and Gracie came in late, so the rest of us sat down to eat, and then everyone had to dash away, leaving me with all the clean up. But I didn't mind; I was still in that zone I was telling you about, and so lovingly and carefully, cleaned and scrubbed all the dishes. Later, Jennie, came in and apologized because she knew what I had envisioned hadn't happened.

"It's okay, Jen," I told her because I was the one who benefitted from all the "love" preparations, and it still felt good. Maybe I had made the dinner to comfort me. I would be ready the next night to prepare another love feast with the left-overs when all the family could be there.

So I started the process all over again the next night. Again, I wanted it to be ready when all the troops hit home. I knew they'd be hungry. And so another beautiful dinner was ready about 6:00 (earlier than usual) when everyone hit the roost, steaming and streaming lovely smells, . But do you know what happened?

Everyone had to leave as soon as they walked in the door, one to get boxes for packing, one to get the truck and one to drive the other car home. All my family was in a "tizzy" as they say down home, and scurried away. At first I was soooo put out, and told my husband so, but then I remembered the love thing, and realized I could de-bone the part of the turkey while they were gone to make a casserole for the next night, our last one with Jen living in the house.

They all came back and we sat down together. But everyone was stressed and hungry and conflict was in the air, and the beautiful dinner suddenly wasn't so appetizing. Before you feel sorry for me though, let me tell you, my family is most appreciative of the meals I prepare. I know they recognize my labor. But here's the coolest thing. I found a little treasure in the Bible that I want to share with all the cooks out there everywhere. Our reward will go far beyond the miniscule appreciation we get for preparing the meals. LISTEN to THIS!
"Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, that he will put him in charge of all his possessions." Matt. 24:45 ff.

Ha! We cooks of the world who feel so menial will have a special place of honor in heaven. That means God notices all the little labors of love we produce in the kitchen. I think somehow God loves food. But even if that's not true, I know He has a special place in his heart for the cooks.
Even if that reward wasn't out there, I just noticed how much of a reward I got for lovingly preparing those meals this week. I felt good about myself and those I was serving. Just one of the little things that make a big difference.

So we'll try again tonight. You can be sure I'll talk to Jesus about it - I know He understands the importance of the "last supper." Stay posted, I'll let you know next week how it goes.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A "Marked" woman

As you might have read, years ago I began an adventure of taking God at His word and standing on the promises I have found in the Bible. A different road than my particular brand of religion.
Things have gotten more personal between God and me, and it has been an adventure to say the least. So much has happen that I've recorded in my book coming out in the spring called, WordSpeak: His Word, Your Voice. Recently, a most wondrous thing has happened to me.

I have suffered with migraines for 12 years. Taking med's, seeing doc's, feeling suppressed and depressed, the whole gamut. Some of the med's lead to physical depression. So many of my days have been stolen by the nauseating vise that grips my head, at times for a week or more. I have even gotten to the point of wondering what's the use of living like this.

But not anymore.

You will have to get the book to read more of the details of the new philosophy of prayer (cheap plug, I know). But the gist is taking a scripture promise that applies to a specific problem and praying it and then declaring it over my circumstance. Recently, I began to notice a verse in my consciousness that said, "He sent forth His word and healed them"(Ps. 107:20)
so I began praying that exact verse over my head. For about 3 weeks, the verse kept floating into my conscious mind and I would simply declare it as I walked from one room to another.
"Lord, send your word and heal my head" I'd say, or "God, you have sent forth your word and I am healed." Honestly, I wasn't particularly invigorated when I said it. It's just a routine I'd gotten into.

However, a few weeks before I'd received a text message from an unknown phone# asking me how long I'd had the migraines. "That's weird," I thought, and texted back, "Who is this?"
Turned out to be a new number from one of my kids. SoI counted up the time and concluded it had been 12 years since the migraines began in earnest. But I never heard back from them.

This incident reminded me of a prayer I'd prayed this past year after I'd read the story of the woman in the Bible who was healed by touching the hem of Jesus' robe. She had suffered from hemorrhaging for 12 years and had been to many doctors, but it had only gotten worse. Boy did I empathize. But she was healed. So I did the same thing, reaching out to touch Jesus' robe like a mime, I prayed, "Jesus, you healed her after 12 years, why not me? 12 years of migraines is long enough!" I said with emphasis. But I continued to have them.

A couple of weeks ago, I heard that my son and brother, both named "Mark," had attended a healing prayer conference in Dallas, TX. At the end of the session, the teachers called out conditions to be prayed for. One got up and said, "Some woman who has suffered from migraines for 12 years is being healed tonight" When no one stood, they went on,"It's not someone here, but it's someone's mother or sister."

My son immediately reached for the phone and texted me asking how long I'd had them, but he didn't receive an text back, (even though I thought I sent it). But being moved by the Spirit, he excitedly stood up saying, "She's my mother and your sister, Uncle Mark, so I'm standing for her!"

Weeks later, I got the news from my sister-in-law who had attended the session and she excitedly said, "Laura, that was you, you are healed!" But inwardly, I wasn't so sure. After all, I had been to numerous healing lines over the past years, and had been believing God for healing all this time, only to wake the next morning with a migraine. But another day headache-free came and went, and came and went. I spoke of this to my husband and daughters, who said, "Mom, you'd better receive that." So I did, inwardly fearful of another disappointment.

A few days later, I happened to come across a book sent to me by another friend in Houston, about divine healing, but I had read them all, and hadn't taken the time to look into it. I glanced at the book which fell open to a page entitled, "Jesus healed through a Spoken Word"
The story of the healing of the centurion's servant was on the page, and I realized that the servant was healed simply by the spoken words of Jesus. The faith of the centurion who told Jesus He didn't have to come to his house, but only had to say the word, and he knew his servant would be healed. Jesus was astonished at this man's faith, and told him that the servant would be healed that day. And he was.

Amazing. I thought. And then the dominoes tumbled. The prayer for healing after 12 long years, the "act" of reaching out to touch the hem of Jesus' robe, the spoken word prayer, "He sent forth HIs word and healed me, " the spoken word at the conference, my son standing on my behalf - it all had worked together for my good. And there I sat, miles away, with no stars or lightening bolts, being healed of a debilitating condition after 12 years.

Today marked the official one month anniversary. I never remember going that long without a headache for 12 years. I have had neck aches, and odd sensations in my upper shoulders and back which used to signal an oncoming headache, but it stops right there. It's as if God's hand is on the base of my head protecting it from any more assaults. My emotions are rising, as I think of how very personal my God has been to me. To think of how precious it is to be thought of in such a significant way.

You may be thinking, "Wow, nothing like that has ever happened to me." or "That kind of stuff doesn't happen for me" but I guarantee you I thought the same thing at times. I'm telling you this story because it is so wonderful and I want to publicly thank God for healing me, and praising Him in front of you all. But also, to encourage you to press for that which you need the most. I believe He desires to give HIs children good things, but there is a lot of debris in the way. It takes time, sometimes. Plus, when pain and discouragement rides so closely along with you, you need others to stand and believe for you like I did. That's why it would be nice to hear from you, what you want to believe for, and let me and others believe for you. Let's press in together, and then we'll all be singing praises to the rafters. What do you think?

Monday, October 12, 2009

30 Days & Counting

Who would have thought 30 days ago that I would not yet have a migraine ? What I mean by that is nauseating pain radiating up and down my neck and into my left cranium. Sometimes the nausea comes first, and sometimes just the pain. But who could have known then, 30 days ago, that that would be for me a thing of the past. Certainly not I, who has experienced these persistent little suckers for 12 years. That's right. For 12 years, every week, sometimes 3-9 days in a row, I struggle to stay present in my world. Between the pain and the medication, I felt wiped out most days. When I would have a headache, everyone around me seemed to know even though I tried to hide it. They could see it in my eyes.
"Why don't you just lie down?" my exasperated husband would ask me.
Because I would answer, that would be letting the migraine win. Not to mention just robbing me of one more day of life. But that lifestyle ceased to exist 30 days ago. I can't wait to tell you what happened. But that will have to wait until tomorrow. -L