Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Few of My Small Town Friends

These ladies are a few of my small town friends after a fun evening at Chili's. From Left to Right: Karen, Jenny, Shonda, Shelly, Barbara, Mary, Shirley, Tiffany, Michelle. Sitting in Front: Sister Shellee

Only in a Small Town

I have lived in the same small town on the border in Texas for 19 years with my husband and children. Truly I must say that for the first 15 years I spent trying to find a way out of it. My first friend in this town told me, “Oh everyone who moves here wants to move away, but it will grow on you and you’ll stay.”

I replied, “Yeah, right!” I begged and pleaded with my husband to put in for transfers. When he did, I didn’t want to move to the places for which he applied. Those places are more remote than where we are. Oddly enough when offers came up he passed them by or he wasn’t selected. So we’re still here.

At the 14 year mark, my husband’s job sent him to Charleston, South Carolina, for six months. The boys and I packed up and went with him. We had a great time. We got to experience all the things the city offers—museums, weekly family activities, beaches, fishing, canoeing, great restaurants, multiple movie theatres, plenty of golf courses, choices of schools, lots of books stores, libraries, community clubs, churches, high speed internet, digital cable and lots more (especially noting a Starbucks inside a Barnes & Noble—my favorite place). Nevertheless, we had something to do every weekend. The boys and I were on a six month vacation.

When the six months ended, we came back to our small Texas town on the border. I had city withdrawals for a spell. I did not have high speed internet; we were fortunate to have dial up back then. Only one small book store. One movie theatre. One library. Few community clubs. Few choices of churches. No Starbucks! (I was addicted to Starbucks by this time and had severe withdrawals.)

But one day shortly after returning from South Carolina, the Lord let me see some things that are great about small towns. I went shopping at the local Wal-Mart (which while we were gone they opened the Super Wal-Mart—we were moving up). While I was paying, I was chatting with a neighbor that lives down the street from me. Unknowingly, all the bags did not make it in my cart when I left. I loaded the bags in the car and started to leave the parking lot. As I was driving out, my neighbor stopped me and told me I forgot two bags of groceries and he was on his way to bring them to my house. I was so grateful. I remembered then no one even talked to me in Wal-Mart in Charleston much less made sure I got all my groceries. I didn’t know any one there.

At that moment I was grateful for living in a small town. Four years have passed since that small town experience. I’ve been slipping back into the “I miss the city” mode. The Lord knows I needed another reminder and He kindly let me have another experience this past weekend.

I was helping my friend, Jenny, who lives on the other side of the block with a surprise party she had for her husband. I had some tables and folding chairs set out for her to borrow. She called on Saturday afternoon and told me she was sending her nephews over in the truck to pick up the table and chairs. I told her to let them know it’s the house with the white Yukon and a trailer in the drive way. The chairs are against the trailer. An hour had passed and I had to leave to go pick up some items for the party—the best homemade tortillas in this state. I called her to tell her that the boys hadn’t arrived yet. I had to leave so I would drive around the block and leave them in her driveway if she would have the boys meet me outside. Sounding surprised, she asked, “Are you sure they didn’t pick them up?”

I’m loading the last chair in the Yukon and I said, “Yes. I’m on my way over.” Then I hung up. I didn’t think much of it because they’re teenage boys and who knows what happened as teens in general can be unpredictable.

When I drove around the block, I saw another neighbor and friend, Karen, passing by with a confused look on her face waving at me. She went and parked her truck and walked over to where I was unloading. She said her son called her and someone took tables and chairs from her driveway. Jenny’s nephew met me outside as I started unloading and told us that he got the table and chairs from the house down the street. Someone even helped load them in the truck. Karen informed them that was her house. Her house fit the description I gave. There was a white Yukon with a trailer and tables and chairs! Why wouldn’t these teens think that they had the right house?

I couldn’t contain the laughter for a good five minutes. I truly had one of those really good belly laughs. Where else can you live where you have more than one neighbor who has a white Yukon, a trailer, with tables and chairs for you to borrow in their driveway?

Only in a small town!!

What a precious gift I received from the Lord this past weekend. I have wonderful friends in this small town. Real neighborly neighbors. I am glad I live here and I’m glad for the friends the Lord has given to me in this small town.

As children of God, He has determined the time and the place we are to live. As Paul spoke to the Athenians in Acts 17:26-28, he said:

“From one man he [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 'For in him we live and move and have our being.' As some of your own poets have said, 'We are his offspring.'”

We are to seek the Lord; reach out for Him. That’s why He determined where we are to live.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Just Finished--Acts

Since February I have been studying a course from the university on the book of Acts. This has been a very spiritually rewarding study. Two weeks ago I submitted the project paper. This past week I poured myself over reviewing all the text for the final exam. I spent a lot of time this weekend in the Bible and the textbook. Today I met my proctor and took the final exam. This exam certainly seemed more demanding than the last one I took. I hope I passed. I will know in about two weeks. Then I will have only 7 more classes to go to reach the first step of my goals.

As of this moment, I will taking a break from university work to catch up on household chores, get ready for my youngest son's birthday party and lesson planning to start school in the latter part of August.

As I reviewed the material last week, I felt the Lord pour ideas in me to write about. I pray I will be able to put those pieces together over the next few weeks and post them on this blog. I have my notes before me now and my mind is start to race again. But for now I need a good night's sleep.

Blessings in Christ!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lesson Remembered

Today as I was working on laundry and regular household chores, I missed the days I had a housekeeper. When I worked full-time I hired a full time housekeeper/nanny to stay with my then baby boy. One day at lunch I came home crying in despair over some event that was taking place in my life. I asked my housekeeper, Bertha, to pray for me. At that moment she showed me something I will NEVER forget. In her broken English she told me, “Shonda, I pray for you and your family everyday.” Then she walked me over to where she had the ironing board set up with clothes ready to iron. She said, “Every day as I iron your clothes, I pray for you.” She walked me over to the dishes in the drainer and said, “When I wash your dishes, I pray your meals be blessed.” She walked me to the bathroom and showed me that when she cleaned it she prayed for us. She walked me over to the bed and said, “Each day I make your bed, I pray for your marriage.” She opened the closet and said, “Each day I put your husband’s shoes away, I pray for him and his work.” Everything she did in my home was prayed over! I realized that the Lord has blessed me with a full-time intercessor in my home. I knew I could never pay her what she was worth. But each day that I did not have other commitments at lunch, I came home to have lunch with Bertha. I learned so much from her.

Well the time had come five years ago that the Lord answered my prayers to be a full-time stay at home mother. Bertha had been preparing to go into full-time Christian counseling. This season for both of us was over. I had learned from the best intercessor how to take care of my home.

So back to what happened today. I started to feel overwhelmed with all the laundry, ironing and mundane household chores. Then I remembered what I learned from Bertha. I realized earlier and was reminded today that this is a ministry. I am blessed to be a full-time intercessor in my home. Today I prayed over my husband’s laundry, the boys’ laundry, the towels, over the dishes, the groceries, when I made the bed, and when I prepared the meals. I will strive to pray for my husband and children as I work in the home. This is the ministry work the Lord has entrusted to me at this time and I should perform these duties with joy in my heart.

Scriptures for thought:

Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

1 Peter 4:7 (NIV)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

God's Timing

I love to study the Word of God! HIS WORD is absolutely amazing! I’m studying the book of Acts from the university. I am preparing to take my final next week. I am in the process of reviewing the material to take this exam. As I just reviewed a lesson, I feel compelled to share this information I learned as I find it absolutely fascinating!

Okay—here goes. As we look in Leviticus 23 we find the list of the feasts of the Lord listed.

Lev 23:5 The Feast of Passover

Lev 23:6-8 The Feast of Unleavened Bread

Lev 23:9-14 The Feast of First Fruits

Lev 23:15-22 The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

Lev 23:23-25 The Feast of Trumpets

Lev 23:26-32 The Feast of Day of Atonement

Lev 23:33-36 The Feast of Tabernacles

The first four Feasts occur in the spring (April-May) and the last three occur in the fall (Oct.—Nov.). The Feasts are separated by an interval of approximately four months. Each of these Feasts is prophetic.

As we take a look at New Testament scriptures, we’ll see that the first four Feasts have been fulfilled through the life of Christ.

The Passover

1 Corinthians 5:7 (NIV) Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

Christ was the Passover Lamb who was slain for us. His blood made atonement once and for all for our sins.

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

1 Corinthians 5:6-8 (NIV) 6Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? 7Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

Yeast represents the sin in our lives. We’re to live our lives without leaven—that is sin. We’re to live with the unleavened bread of “sincerity and truth” which as been made available to us through the blood of the Passover Lamb.

The Feast of First Fruits

1 Corinthians 15:20 (NIV) But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

After the Sabbath the priests gathered the first harvest, took the sheaves back to the temple to be waved before the Lord as an offering. After the offering was made, the spring crop could be harvested and the product could be eaten. Christ was the firstfruit offering of those raised from the dead! He rose on the very day of the Firstfruits. He was the resurrected life that was waved before the Lord. None of us could have a resurrected life until Christ resurrected!

The Feast of Weeks (Pentecost)

Seven weeks after the Feast of Firstfruits is Pentecost. At this time, the harvest is in and instead of a grain offering a loaf of bread is the offering. On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, the 120 were told to wait in the upper room. As they were obedient and waited they were filled with the Holy Spirit. Pentecost continues through this day and age because Christ’s harvest of souls is not yet completed. This Feast will be completed when the Lord returns!

Now that we’ve seen that the first four Feast have been fulfilled as prophesied. They represent the life and work of Christ in this age; the final group of Feasts represents the age to come.

Trumpets: the taking up of the church (1 Thessalonians 4:16)

Atonement: the salvation of Israel (Zechariah 13:1; Romans 11:26-27)

Tabernacles: abiding with Christ eternally in the new heavens and earth (Revelation 21:3-4)

The last Feast to be fulfilled was Pentecost! The timing for the 120 to gather and receive the Holy Spirit is God’s timing. At this time there were numerous people who traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. On the day the 120 were filled with the Holy Spirit, 3000 were added to the church. Thereafter, many became to believe on the Lord Jesus daily. As these people traveled back to their home countries, they took the gospel message with them. Thus, this was part of the fulfillment of Acts 1:8 (NIV) “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This is WOW to me! Can you see God’s prophetic calendar? How perfect HIS timing is?

This makes me think about times I’ve prayed for something and I don’t see the answer. Maybe its no; but just maybe it’s not time yet. HIS timing is perfect!

God Bless you all!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Abundance of Stuff

John 10:10 NASB

"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

I haven’t pondered on this verse lately, but recently it has been coming to my mind quite frequently. A few weeks ago sitting in a Bible class for evangelism I saw a video segment where people on the streets were asked what they thought Jesus meant when he said he wanted us to have an abundant life. Not surprisingly the responses were nice homes, nice cars, getting into the university of my choice, nice jewelry and health for family. Most of the responses were materialistic.

The video facilitators brought up that all those in the New Testament, like Paul had abundant lives. Lives full of persecution, abandonment and imprisonment. The apostles faced circumstances that caused their faith to grow greater than I can ever want to imagine. Yet they continued to witness the gospel wherever they went. They never let circumstances prevent them from fulfilling the great commission nor did they complain against the ones who persecuted them. In spite of all the trials and persecutions these apostles faced, they had an abundance of joy, peace and insurmountable faith in God.

As I started assessing my own life, I realized that I have an abundance of stuff. I have such an abundance of clutter that I need to go buy more stuff to organize the stuff. Perhaps, I should give what I don’t have room for to the needy. Toys are busting out of my son’s closet. Clothes sit in piles and no one misses them for weeks or months. Shoes are busting out of my closet. Not another coat or jacket will fit in the coat closet. Books are piled on my desk and shelves. As I do a quick review in my mind about the apostles, I don’t recall any of them receiving instructions from God and them asking God to wait while they pile up more stuff or go shop for more stuff.

Therefore, I ask this—Could this stuff distract me from focusing on what the Lord has called me to do?

If I had less could I do more of what the Lord has called me to do?

What do you think? Does clutter—clutter your thoughts and productivity?

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What Do You See?

I suppose my husband does not have enough honey do’s. He has adopted a new project. Recently his friend gave him an old Jeep Willis Truck. Of course this truck is in dire need of refurbishing. It looks like junk to me. But my husband loves Jeep’s.

We traveled six hours to procure this free truck. Of course we hauled a flat bed trailer to put it on. We had a great time visiting with friends and family in the process. But I just wonder how many of you would have the same reaction I did when I saw this truck. I didn’t think we should even take the time to load it and bring it home. No wonder our friends wanted to rid themselves of this problem.

We loaded the heap of junk on our trailer and started on our journey home. We stopped at a gas station to fill up with gasoline to make the long trip home. While at the pumps, guys start coming up to the old truck on the trailer. They made comments like “Cool” and “That’s a great truck!” I couldn’t believe it. I just blew it off.

A couple of hours down the road we had to stop for a bathroom break. What happened when we stopped? Of course men were coming up to the truck and commenting on how cool they thought the old heap was. I just shook my head in disbelief as we took off down the highway again.

Halfway through the trip we had to get more gasoline. (Our vehicle uses more gas when it has a trailer in tow.) At this stop a man walks up to my husband and proceeded to tell him that he knows where he can get another one just like it. He tried to sell us another one. My husband told him where we just came from and it turned out this guy is brother-in-law of my hubby’s friend. We just picked up for free the truck the brother-in-law tried to sell us. What a laugh!

One last pit stop before we arrived home. Hubby and youngest child were inside the store and I was watching the pump. While I was adjusting items in our vehicle and the gas was pumping, a man climbed all over the trailer looking at this old truck. I could hear him making comments such as “Sweet” or “Cool” or “Wow.” He got off the trailer and looked at me and thanked me. I nodded my head and thought, “I could charge $5 a person for this!”

We arrived home after dark so we parked the truck and trailer in the street for the night. The next morning my neighbor, friend and walking partner, Anna saw the truck and said, “Wow that’s an old truck! What are going to do with that?” Of course I explained all the plans my husband shared with me about this refurbishing project.

Eldon looks at this truck and see the potential that is in it. He plans to put in a Chevy engine. Put in a lift kit to raise it up. And paint it burnt orange. He wants to be able to drive it to and from work.

I see it taking up space in my back yard. But one day as I was looking out the kitchen window I saw something different. Out of my mouth I said, “I think its name is Maynard.” I went to my name book and Maynard means brave and powerful. That is how Eldon sees the truck after its restored state. He can see the potential in this truck once he restores it.

Once I saw this, I realized that is how God looks at us. The world may see broken vessels. We might look like pathetic human beings to others. We may have been through so many trials and battles that we’re broken up and scared. But God knows what we’re capable of doing for His glory.

In Judges 6, the Lord called Gideon to lead an army to defeat the Midianites. The Lord called Gideon a valiant or mighty warrior. Gideon’s response was that he was the weakest. But then the Lord told Gideon to go in the strength that he has. God promised him to be with him and that all the Midianites would be struck down. Then Gideon goes on asking for signs before he actually goes out. The Lord decreases his army and do you remember who wins? Of course, the Lord’s army led by Gideon.

What do you see when you think of yourself?

Gideon did not think he was capable of doing what the Lord called him to do. The Lord knew what Gideon could do with Him.

We may not think we are capable of doing what the Lord calls us to do. However, the Lord knows what we can do with HIM. Let us put our faith in Christ our Lord and Savior. Let us do what the Lord has called us to do. The Lord sees us differently than we see ourselves or how others may see us.

Romans 8:31 NKJV

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Romans 8:37 NKJV

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.

Blessings in Christ--