Sunday, October 11, 2009
I finally have the photos uploaded from Tuesday night's church service when the kids performed Born Again by Third Day. To see kids this age who are so earnest and bold about their faith blesses me more than I could ever express. Statistics tell us that kids who attend church consistently have far less incidence of criminal behavior (including illegal drugs and illegal alcohol) during their teen and young adult years. Knowing the hearts of these young people causes me to believe that.
The little country church we attended was so sweet. Everybody there greeted us with hugs and handshakes and smiles. They made us feel so welcome. The preaching was awesome. The message was titled: The greatest force in the world - Love. The minister was definitely speaking my language!
These are the kids before the performance, my youngest daughter, Melanie, 12, our friend, Angel, who is here from the Philippines because her dad, a missionary/pastor, has stage four lung cancer and needed treatment in the US (he's from here in southeast Louisiana and her mother is Filipino), and my stepson, Billy, 17.
This is my friend/angel of mercy (mentioned in my treadmill blog), Michelle, and her adorable grandson, Randen, who is one of my favorite kids in all the world. Michelle's mom is the pastor of the church we were visiting.
Melanie and Angel remaining calm (sorta) before the performance.
The kids on stage. For the link to a YouTube of the song they did (with lyrics), click on the address in my "I'm Moving" blog.
Angel performed a second song, alone. It's astounding to hear such a BIG voice coming out of such a tiny little girl!!
I thank God for my kids and for the fact that they love Him and strive to serve Him. I pray that they will have a hunger to please Him and be used by Him all the days of their lives. Thank you for letting me open my wallet and brag on my beauties for a bit!
Thursday, October 08, 2009
I shared a bit of this story with one of my SparkTeams and I felt like the message was important enough to blog it for others, too.
We never know sometimes the impact we have on people. When I was younger, I was involved with a ministry called Teen Challenge. Among other things, we used to do a lot of street evangelism down in the French Quarter in New Orleans. For years we were there two or three days/nights in a weekend.
There is a VooDoo museum on Bourbon Street. I would never step foot in it. Nor would we go into a bar, no matter HOW bad we had to tinkle or how thirsty we were. We felt it would damage our testimony for the Christians to be seen coming out of a disreputable place.
One night the Lord very clearly spoke to my heart and directed me to go into the VooDoo museum. Huh? ME? Lord, I'm the big chicken of the group! Don't you mean one of those stronger, more mature Christians? My knees are knocking just THINKING about going in there!! Yes, you, was the reply.
I told my street witnessing partner what God had put on my heart and he very graciously let me go. Alone. Turns out he was a bigger chicken than I was! lol So up the three steps I went and into the door. I was greatly relieved to not feel monsters attacking me as I crossed the threshold. I mean after all, I'd heard some of those church groups praying in a circle in front of that building, demanding the walls to fall down and the demons to come running out in Jesus' name. (The term quacks came to mind a few times, I'll admit. Those folks seemed more concerned with the building than the souls within it.)
I didn't venture in any farther than the front door. It STUNK in there. Lots of incense, candles, herbs and I didn't know WHAT all. There I stood, determined to be obedient. There was a customer at the register and the store clerk was checking him out, chatting. I was grateful for a bit of time to collect myself and pray within my heart. What if those walls decided NOW was the time to come down?! I didn't want to get crushed in the fallout!! lol
When the customer left, an innocent looking bag in his hand, me wondering what in heaven's name was in there and what he was going to do with it, only the store clerk (turned out to be the manager) and I remained. She turned to me and her face LIT up, HUGE smiles, like I was her long, lost friend or something. She yelped out, "It's YOU!!!" I panicked. lol What kind of evil, sinister, terrifying, demonic, hellish, horrible plot was at work here? Had demons been discussing me with her? Had they sent out search parties for me? I was beginning to feel a little bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz!!
This lady didn't look anything like the Wicked Witch of the West, though. She looked like anybody's next door neighbor or any one of my kids' teachers. She looked, in fact, a lot like me, typically Creole, a blending of French and Spanish, dark hair and eyes, mild Mediteranian features. And she was smiling. She was smiling BIG. And coming at me. I mean AT me, too. Her arms were open wide. This woman was going to HUG me. *tremble*
What do I do NOW?!!! Well, for goodness sake, what does any self-respecting Southerner do when someone reaches out for a hug (or looks like they might want a hug, or looks like they might need a hug, or looks like maybe they haven't had a hug in far, far too long)? I hugged her back, of course. And it felt right. And I felt the love of God well up in my heart for her. That love trumps unsavory surroundings, questionable circumstances, stinky environments.
She said, not in any way offended, "You don't remember me."
I had to reply in honesty, "I'm sorry. I don't. have we met?" I thought maybe she'd been a friend of one of my friends or a family member.
She said, "No, we haven't. But I was having a particularly difficult time a few weeks back. I was greatly troubled. I went to the cathedral for novena (meaning St. Louis Cathedral, behind Jackson Square, in the heart of the French Quarter)." For those of you not raised Catholic, novena is a special prayer, apart from attending mass.
Sometimes, after a long night of street evangelism and crisis intervention, we'd gather in front of the Cathedral, sit on the ground in a circle, and have a quiet time of reflection and silent prayer, softly playing guitars and singing songs of praise. It was a good way to unwind after dealing with the needs of so many desperate people.
The lady said, "When I came out of the Cathedral, I saw you and your friends sitting in a circle between the church and the Square. Some people were playing guitars and the rest of you were singing the sweetest songs. You all looked so happy and peaceful. When I came near, you turned to me and you smiled at me so big. And you MEANT it. That smile went all the way through and through you. It made me feel less alone. It made me feel like there are people who do care about me. Thank you."
I was so humbled. I was so stunned. How God could use a simple smile at a stranger to touch someone's heart in such a meaningful way was beyond me. How I could ever doubt God's plans was also beyond me. How Mosesish of me to argue with God when He gave me an assignment of eternal consequence. I was ashamed and I repented.
Smile to others. Show them that someone has noticed them. Show them that someone cares. You may never know what a smile or a kind word means t someone. Listen to those little tugs at your heart's strings and obey them. Ask God to give you divine encounters of eternal purpose, and He will be faithful to do just that. Love people. We all need to be loved in such deep, deep ways. We will not show this world we belong to Jesus by attending a church or spouting theology or doing great acts of generosity or piety. Jesus said they will know we are His by the love we show. If loving is scary business for you? Do it afraid. Even when it doesn't come easy, LOVE, and let it SHOW.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I surely hope I am able to put this little video clip here for you to see. If not, at least you will be able to see the photographs. This thing has kind of taken on a life of its own! Angel has graciously asked our youngest two kids to sing Born Again with her. A week from tomorrow they will be performing the song at the church Michelle's mother pastors. How cool is that?! I will be the one sobbing. lol Coming over to sing that song for me was one of the sweetest gifts I've ever been given. God always knows just how to bless us in the most meaningful of ways, doesn't He?!!
This is Angel
This is Melanie and Billy practicing with Angel.
This is Michelle and the kids. If you read my Treadmill Blog, you will remember that Michelle was my God-sent angel of mercy throughout my accident, amputation, and wound care. She blesses my life in more ways than I could ever, ever describe to you. I am SO blessed, blessed beyond measure.
I showed Michelle and Angel my previous blog and the comments. They pass along to you their thanks for your prayers for Ferlin (Angel's Dad) and the family. I thank you, as well. I expect a glorious testimony from this entire situation unto God's glory. Thank you for caring about what goes on in my life, for allowing me to share what's important to me. I appreciate you, dear SparkFriends!
Here goes nuthin! I'm going to try to post the video file now so you can hear the kids singing. Keep in mind they're not professionals, but kids who love God and love to give of themselves.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Most of you can't relate to what I'm about to say, and I'm so thankful that you cannot. Some of you, though, know what it means to be unable to move freely, unable to move without pain, unable to stand up for more than a few moments without trembling and sweating, unable to walk even short distances without becoming winded, unable to look at the distance between a parking space and the door of a store without a feeling of dread and defeat.
A friend of mine (Michelle, my angel of mercy I told you about in my Treadmill Blog) has a brother-in-law who is a missionary to the Philippines. He is married to a Filipino woman and has three children. They pastor several Christian churches in the Philippines. The missionary/pastor has been diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. He and his two older children are here now and he is receiving treatment. His wife and their youngest child are facing struggles getting the necessary documentation to come here since she is not a US citizen. Angel and Jireh are the children who are here now. They and their father are staying with my good friend and neighbor as they await the rest of the family's arrival.
Needless to say, this is a difficult time for the entire family. The two kids who are here are afraid for their father. Tthey miss and need their mother. They're away from all things familiar and in a culture very different from their own. They are great kids. Angel is a very gifted young lady and mightily anointed. She is a child of great faith. She sings incredibly well and dances beautifully in expressive worship. She has done so since she was two years old, with lives around her being touched greatly by God through her young life.
My friend, her aunt, arrived at our house this afternoon with Angel. They were both wearing BIG grins. They'd been out shopping and purchased a soundtrack for a song I particularly like from the new Third Day CD, "Revelation." Angel sang the song for me, here in my kitchen. I so wish I had videoed it for you so you could appreciate the incredible talent of this little girl, the greatness of her heart. In moments I was reduced to a puddle of tears. (In all fairness, though, I must tell you that I cry for TV commercials, too. As my husband puts it, I leak when my heart is full. lol) I will do my best to get a photo of her to share with you soon. For now, the best I can do is share this song with you. It was her gift to me and it is now my gift to you. I hope this song will bless you as much as it has blessed me.
With 64 pounds less of me putting undue strain my body's frame, I really do feel like I am MOVING for the first time in my life, this new life, that is, where I am in control of my choices, no longer fettered to the dictates of my taste buds.
I am MOVING in the right direction now, instead of remaining in a stagnant place of duress that seems endless.
I am MOVING in a realm of empowerment based on newfound intelligence and personal accountability.
I am MOVING alongside people who have also purposed to become healthier as we motivate, encourage, and embrace one another.
I. Am. Moving!!!
Saturday, September 19, 2009
My oldest, Michelle, asked me this past week to please make some jambalaya for her. How could I resist?! She attends our local university, works every shift possible as a waitress here in town, and lives nearby. We rarely see her. Usually when we do, it's at family gatherings with gobs of people here. Today was to be just the four of us and Chelle and her beau, Josh. Wow, what a treat!
Last night my husband and son went fishing. Notice I said fishing, not catching. I don't get it. I come from a long line of commercial shrimpers. The purpose of going fishing is to bring home fish. Right? NOT SO! My fisherman husband has educated me a great deal. The purpose of going fishing is... well, it's fishing! This was BIG news to me. Catching or not catching, my Irishman goes fishing for the pure enjoyment of being there.
While the boys were gone, my youngest, Melanie, now 12, and I worked on the jambalaya, including picking the meat from a ten pound bag of leg quarters. I finished making the jambalaya about 11:30 last night.
Since Chelle and Josh had plans this evening, we had everything ready for noon. Our son, Billy, now 17, was heating the jambalaya in the microwave for me. Everything went well with the first container. The second one, however, slipped out of his hands when he took it out of the microwave and splattered to the floor, decorating the front of the hutch, the walls, the side of the stove, and lots of the floor with delicious jambalaya that we would now not get to eat. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. A lot of expense and time had gone into preparing that meal. Here's the recipe for anyone who doesn't know what jambalaya is: recipes.sparkpeople.com/recipe-detai
We fed the remaining jambalaya to Michelle and Josh and sent the little bit that was left home with Chelle. That left me with the issue of feeding the four of US. I was in NO mood to solve that particular dilemma.
Turns out my fisherman did, indeed, come home with what he called an embarrassingly small redfish. In fact, he was reluctant to let me take a picture of it because it was so small. Looked pretty big to me, though. Whatcha think?
Bill gutted and filleted that little critter and we each got a delicious four ounce piece of fish. He sliced a couple of potatoes and some onion up thinly and browned them in a bit of Pam. Talk about a FEAST. It was by no means the hefty calorie- and fat-rich jambalaya I'd factored into my values for the day. As an alternative, it was much healthier, VERY tasty, and it was caught, cleaned, and cooked just for me by my husband! How's THAT for a treat?!! I am BLESSED!!
P.S. No, I didn't kill the boy, for those of you who were wondering. LOL
Get An Email Alert Each Time YATMAMA Posts