Thursday, August 14, 2014

Good-bye (Revised)

It's a little odd beginning my welcome blog with a word on good-byes.  But it is that time of year when many of my friends and co-workers are saying good-bye to their children who are leaving for college or to children who are enlisting in the military. 

There is such an ache that comes with good-byes.  For days or even weeks ahead of time (and occasionally months, like me) we feel a stabbing in our heart.  It is real.  I have felt it myself when my own child got married.  I couldn't bear the thought of not kissing her in the morning; or when she came home from school or work; or especially goodnight.  If you are blessed with affection between your family members, you know what I mean.  But even if there weren't always kisses and hugs, if there was the respect from the child you raised, it hurts to see them leave.

So you leave the room and hide in the bathroom for a little while or run to the store real quick so nobody sees your tears and makes light of them.  Because this isn't funny, this is real!  Your baby is leaving home for the first time.  Your little baby, the one that made you forget all the hours of labor when you held him when he was first born.  You think of how you were a little afraid of bathing him the first time.  What if he slipped from your hands?  

You kissed her precious little feet (now a size 10) and put her hands on your mouth as you smiled and cooed and told her you loved her.  You could hardly wait until she was old enough to have longer hair that you could put a bow in.  Or until he was old enough to fit his hand into a baseball glove.

You went to all the school plays and sent everyone his school picture every year.  You made sure he bathed and brushed his teeth, and ate all his dinner before he went to bed.  You helped him for endless hours with homework.

You fought and you forgave.  You rewarded her good behavior, and disciplined her disrespect for you or your spouse, or her teacher or coaches, brothers and sisters, and even strangers.

You tried to instill in him a sense of worth.  And now the time has come to say good-bye for a while.  Yes, you can call and email and Skype or face time, but you can't see him in your kitchen.  So what do you do?

If you know God, and have raised your child to know God, you take comfort knowing that He is still in charge of this loved one's life.  You prayed over her as a child, and you pray over her today.  In your heart, you know that everything will be alright.

If you know God but haven't had a very close relationship with Him, or if you don't know God at all, don't worry!  He knows you!  And He knows your child.  He created that loved one just for you.  He will be taking care of him, and you.  He always has.  All those fights that eventually wound up in hugs, all those tears that were replaced with smiles, all those worries when he got hurt or was late coming home that ended up alright, that was God taking care of you all.

If you know nothing else about God, know this.  He is love.  He cannot not love!  That's all there is to it!  He knows your heart and your pain, and your sorrows.  And He wants to help you get through it.  He won't make you feel bad about not knowing Him, He's ready to show you just how much He loves you.  All you have to do is ask.

So it's all right to cry those tears at good-byes, the Bible says in Psalm 56:8 (CEV), "You have stored my tears in Your bottle and counted each of them."  Put your hope in Him, He will protect your baby.

And if YOU are the one leaving for the first time, there is that great sense of adventure! "Finally, on my own!"  Sometimes that excitement comes with a sense of anxiety as well.  You're all grown up, but you'll miss your mommy.  Don't be ashamed, I guarantee her heart will melt if you called her that today.  You may wonder if you did enough for your parents while you were at home, or now feel a little regret that you had an attitude.  They always bailed you out of your messes, and always forgave you.  You may wonder," now that I am gone, will they still love me as much?"  Of course.  Now they have something else to be proud of you for.  You're going to college!  You're enlisting in the Military!  You're getting married! They will have new concerns, but they believe you're up to the challenge.

Grow!  Learn!  Plan your future.  Ask God to help you every morning.  Ask Him for strength.  Ask Him to protect you and your family.  And above all, love Him.

So as you say good-bye and start this new chapter in your lives, let's also say hello to God's blessings for our future.  His word says in Jeremiah 29:11, "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." (NIV)

Smile, life is good! God is in charge!  @dft  (Previously posted in 2011)




Sunday, June 22, 2014

Please Agree With Me in Prayer, Dear Reader

Dear Reader,

Today I ask for your prayers from all over the world!  I ask that you agree with me for the healing of a friend.  Her name is Donna.  She has recently had several major surgeries including lung transplants, and I totally believe in her full and glorious healing!  I ask you to stand in the gap with me as we fight the enemy who would try to come and kill, steal, and destroy she who God has already claimed as His own.  The Bible says:  "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in Heaven."  Matthew 18:19.  So, dear Reader, I thank you and I hold you in my prayers for your needs as well.  Thank you, and thank God for you, may He bless you today and always!  If you need healing, please feel free to add your name along with Donna's.

Dear Jesus,

Good morning!  I sing a song of praise to You today.  You fill my heart with yearning and my soul with awe.  I am Your child, not a child of the evil world.  Those days were before, now I know Your name and hear Your voice leading me in the way I should go. 

I believe in You.  I believe what You say is true.  There is but one God, and You are my God.  Your love reaches out beyond my awareness.  Your hand touches all of the universe.  Your power is beyond my limited comprehension, and Your faithfulness employs no deception. You are the One True God, Who was, even before the stars came to be.  It was by Your mouth that all of creation sprang forth, and beauty and wonder became my world.

I worship You with all that I have, with all that I am!  I call you my Own.  I am not afraid of You, You are my Savior, my Brother, my Deliverer, and Healer!  What You did for the lame and the blind and the destitute, You have done for me!  You have taken me from the ashes and brought me new life! 

Jesus, it is in Your holy name that I ask for Donna's protection from the enemy.  I ask that a legion of angels are encamped around her ready to fight at the slightest move from the enemy.  I believe that You have held her hand throughout this time, and that You continue to.  You would never leave her nor forsake her, and she and her family should never fear, because You are true to Your word.  I ask for supernatural healing as you listen to Your sons and daughters all over the world praying these same words and asking for Your grace upon Donna, and Your kind mercy to flow over her. 

I ask that Your Holy Spirit fill her with strength and keep her receptive to hear Your word in her heart so she is constantly reminded that there is nothing to fear, and that you will never leave nor forsake her or her loved ones.

I trust You.  I believe that there is no power under the earth or on the earth or above the earth that is mightier than You.  I believe that You have already died for her sins and that You earned the Victor's Crown!  The victory is yours, the enemy is defeated!! 

I thank You, Jesus for interceding for us, and for divine healing!  You are everything to me.  Amen

Please enjoy and believe the words of this song, "God is Fighting For Us" by Darlene Zschech.  Some of the words:

"God is fighting for us,
Pushing back the darkness
Lighting up the Kingdom
That cannot be shaken
In the Name of Jesus,
Enemy's defeated
And we will shout it out,
Shout it out

I will live, I will not die
The resurrection power of Christ
Alive in me and I am free
In Jesus' Name
I will live, I will not die
I will declare and lift You high,
Christ revealed and I am healed
In Jesus' Name, in Jesus' Name
In Jesus' Name, in Jesus' Name"

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day to Those Very Dear and Precious Other Moms

Dear Reader,
I wanted to write something special for Mother's Day today, and as I sat at my computer this morning, nothing came to me that hadn't been said by someone before. I tried and tried, but my heart just wasn't in it. So I closed down and went to get ready for church. I thought about just putting "Happy Mother's Day" out the
re, but then thought otherwise.

I try to encourage with this blog, or to lift spirits or to be a vessel that God uses to get His message across. While I was getting ready for church, God opened the window of my heart and placed a very special message in me for today. Although unusual, it is profound, as is everything the Lord has to say.

There is a group of Mothers that very few remember. You won't find a card for them at the store full of pretty sentiments, and no flowers are delivered for them today. They sit through this day cloaked in pain and sorrow because these are the mothers who lost their children through miscarriages, SIDS, abortion, and stillborn births. For some reason their babies, the children that they would have cuddled and nursed did not live long enough to fulfill the natural feeling women have to nurture. So they don't have a child making hearts with sweet but sloppy sentiments for them. They can't see their daughter get married, or their son become the man she dreamed of.

God wants you ladies to know that you became mothers the moment you conceived. If your baby only lived for a few hours or days or weeks or months in utero, you were and still are, a mother. Your child is sitting at God's side, alive, and happy, and waiting for you. Do not feel sorrow or pain anymore. Although in this world you can't hold that child, you will one day! You were the vessel God used for creating a life. We can't begin to understand why God does what He does, but we must remember that every single thing He does is filled with love.

He knows how you feel. He wants you to know that you are much stronger than you think. You have grown to take that same love you would have had for your own children, and you have given it to other people's children. You have watched and wished, but you have loved beyond what most people can imagine. You have found that place in your heart to give to others unselfishly. You have been an example of grace.

Ladies, I honor you today! I wish you joy and fulfillment in the ways that God has given you gifts and talents. I admire you for being so strong. Please, take my best and most heartfelt wishes for a Happy Mother's Day! God is still blessing you, and although some of you may not know or understand how, He is, and it will become apparent to you in His time.

My own daughter suffered a miscarriage four years ago the day after finding out she was pregnant. In that short 12-hour period, my husband and I had discussed who it would look more like, how that Christmas there would be a baby in the house, and how absolutely delighted we were. But things did not turn out the way we all expected. Still, three years later the Lord blessed her with a beautiful baby girl. But she is a mother of two, and one day, on the other side of the rainbow, she will meet the first child she carried, even for such a short time. One day that beautiful child will reach for her while angels sing praises to God. And she will know, as will all you Moms, what a holy and blessed reward it is from God to be a Mother, even one who has lost a child.

For all those Moms that have been a Mom to a dog or cat, thank you and Happy Mother's Day to you as well. Thank you for taking care of God's creatures as He tells us to in the Bible.

Happy Mother's Day! May you see God's blessings all around you today! You are special and have a special gift that no one else does. Smile, and feel joy today! He is in your heart, loving you!

"For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" Hebrews 13:5

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jesus is Always at the Wheel

On 28 August 2012 at 12:30am, I wrote down a dream I had.  All my note says is, "I sit in a wagon full of sorrows and Jesus is at the wheel."  And then,  "When I go over a mountain of trials He is waiting at the top smiling at my accomplishments."

As you may remember, dear Reader, my church, Grace Christian Center in Killeen, Texas, lost our senior Pastors, Terry and Jan Whitley, and our Lead Associate Pastor, Steve Timmerman, in a tragic one-vehicle rollover in Pflugerville, Texas, about an hour south of here.  (See blog, 8 Seconds to Eternity, 1 December 2013).  It is now five and a half months since that night that changed so many lives. 

As in my dream from a year and a half earlier, I think a majority of those in our congregation were sitting in a wagon full of sorrows after hearing the unbelievable news.  But the first night after their deaths, a gathering of our congregation was joined in sorrow and blessed joy.  We worshiped the Most High God, and sang praise to the Name Above All Names.  We cried and consoled those around us, grieving and comforting at the same time.  Although feeling shock and pain at their untimely deaths, there was also a feeling of sweet surrender for me.  I knew that my three Pastors, beloved by so many, were home, where they belonged. 

Over the last five and a half months, the Pastor's pastors and advisers came from around the world to preach to us on Sundays and many Wednesday nights.  These were men who had been part of Pastor Terry's inner circle, his closest friends, men who spoke many times at our church while he was alive.  Our Associate Pastors, Youth Pastor, Children's Pastor, and Music Pastor moved forward and grew in ways that make me stand in amazement.  They had a large mantle to take, and they rose to the occasion.  Each one sacrificed even more of their time to keep Grace running and continued to serve the congregation and God.  Instead of our numbers decreasing, they have increased.  Instead of continued mourning, we as a church have found ourselves moving in new ways, against the odds, and against the naysayers.  We were left with a legacy to fulfill.  There was no longer time to sit back, but time to move forward! 

About three months before he died, Pastor Terry had prepared us for new levels, and had initiated The Next Step, where each of the congregation could find a place where they belonged, whether it be Grow - a way to find out more about what it means to follow Christ and how you can grow in your relationship with Him; Connect - discovering ways that you can connect and experience real-life friendships in a large church setting; and Serve - learning how to get involved and give back by serving in one of Grace's many volunteering opportunities, the Ministry of Helps.  There is so much joy in my heart watching what our Pastors began come to fruition.  There truly is
beauty for ashes.

In November, the Board called someone many of the congregation knew, because he used to be the Music Pastor a decade or so ago.   They asked if he would give the sermon on the 24th.  It was a warm welcome that he received, he had been genuinely loved by those that knew him.  He is currently Senior Pastor at Covenant Life Church in North Richland Hills, Texas.  His message that morning was about living the Kingdom life.  I liked him.  He made a point of introducing himself to me and others that he didn't know that morning, and his genuineness was palpable.  He was downright likeable, and his sermon was wonderful and greatly received.  He spoke again in mid-January, and once again was right on point with his sermon on how when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices (Proverbs 11:10).  He made a call for the church (The Church) to serve the cities that they are part of.  He referred to himself as a Son of God.  That men were Sons of God before they were pastors, presidents, husbands or fathers.  And Sons of God serve.  And they serve on their knees.

As time moved on from the loss of our Pastors, I found that I was no longer sitting in that wagon of sorrows.  Jesus had been at the wheel, He led the way through my grief, my sorrow, and my loss.  He allowed me to sit in the wagon while He drove it, assuring me that not only was He was never going to let me go through any trial alone, He would go first.  My husband and I were led to start doing more for our church.  We are walking in new directions, but still on the path that God has chosen.  We feel led to serve.

On Sunday, 2 March, the President of the Board of Trustees for our church announced the choice and acceptance of the new Senior Pastor.  The Board had the responsibility of finding this man.  They were cloaked in prayer and in the faith that they would only choose who the Lord revealed to them.  It is the same man who challenged us to serve more, not just at church, but in our community as well.  His name is Mark Price.  When his name was announced, the cheers and applause were almost deafening.  He is welcomed with open arms and hearts by Grace Christian Center.  Pastors Terry and Jan had a vision for our church, and we are living the legacy by getting more involved and offering our services wherever we can.  Our new Pastor has the same vision, to continue being a world outreach, and doing more right here at home.  He is bringing a freshness that is welcomed.

Jesus was at the wheel through our darkest hours, and now, as we accept that life moves on despite our sorrows, the time has come for someone else to take the helm and move us as a church in the direction that a Son or Daughter of God should go.  Jesus is waiting at the top of that mountain smiling at our accomplishments.  What could be better than knowing our steps are ordered of the Lord, and He chose the Joshua that would lead us into our future, surely our promised land. 

Welcome, Pastors Mark and Teresa, and Kortni and Tyler!  I am very much looking forward to serving you.  I appreciate that your own church will be somewhat going through what we did, losing our Pastor.  I'm sure there is sorrow there, and the wonder, why did he have to leave?  But God saw it all before the foundation of the earth.  He has us in His heart and He leads the way.  There is victory in these changes, and blessings in abundance for both churches.  I thank our Lord for His infinite wisdom, and for the blessings He is showering on Grace Christian Center and each of us who call her home, whether we live in Killeen or serve in Afghanistan.  We serve a good God, a kind God, a God who only looks after our best interests.

Though we say goodbye to Pastors Terry, Jan, and Steve, we will never forget them, nor would we want to.  Instead, we continue to run the race that they began, knowing the greatest prize is at the end!  May God bless you, dear Reader, and keep you wrapped in His love.  Deirdre

Senior Pastors Elect Mark and Teresa Price