Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"If We Are The Body..."

We have lived in our new town for approximately 3 months. During this time, we have attended several community events. We have also visited 6 different churches. Do you know how many people have contacted us directly from the churches? Two. Maybe. Out of 6 churches. No one has visited us in our home, even tho we are new to town and checked the "I am interested in your church" box on their visitor's forms.

What is going on? 

I think we have decided that a form letter from a church that is signed by the pastor is an acceptable form of evangelism. It is not. One of the churches we visited sent us an email. personal, right? Now, Jim and I aren't sitting at home waiting on someone to come and meet us, and hold our hands as we walk thru life. Seriously, we aren't. And we already ARE Christians, so no one has to come and "evangelize" us. But, what if we weren't? What if we were new-to-town AND we weren't Believers?

We are failing, people.

Nearly every Thursday night, I go up to the field-house with some Football Moms. There are about 6-8 women who meet and make posters and fill up treat-bags for our boys. Our family has been to nearly every Varsity football game, but we've been to EVERY sophomore and JV game. The home games AND the away games. Do you know how many people from the Football Moms group or people at a football game have come up to meet our new-to-town family? None.

And, there are a lot of people at a Varsity football game...sometimes, it's even hard to find a seat. I get that. But at a JV game? A SOPHOMORE game? Give me a break. When we walk in, our family of 3...Jim, Joshua and's OBVIOUS that we are new. I mean, there is no one else that looks like Joshua in the stands. Obviously, we haven't been around before, right?

And yet all we get is stares.

What are the words in the Casting Crowns song, "if we are the body, why aren't His arms reaching?"

Because talk is cheap.

I bet if you took a poll from that any given high school football game in our town, 90% OR MORE would claim that they are Christians. Probably would say they attend church on a regular basis. Probably were there last Sunday. Might've even sat by you. Or by me.

Why? Why do we even bother to go?

Because this ain't workin'.

How can we expect to reach the world for Christ, when we won't even reach out to the ones in our own churches, schools, and neighborhoods?

I'm sure there are people who would say, "well, why don't you be the bigger person and go over to meet THEM..." and in certain situations, we have done that. It's just really hard to move to a new place and not know anyone. It can be such a lonely time. The last thing I want is the entire responsibility of meeting people. Work with me people. It's exhausting, moving. At times, I've felt invisible. It doesn't bother me so much at community events as it does when it happens in church.

Church is supposed to be the place you go where you feel safe and loved; where you hear God's word and sing His praises, and you are convicted and humbled and inspired. But all of the warm feelings of Christian fellowship and community aren't supposed to stay inside the building. We're supposed to take that Light out the door and down the street...and into the schools and work-places, and to the grocery and Target and the DMV and everywhere else that we go.

Because people are DYING. They are dying for someone to love them, yes...but they are also DYING and missing out on the blessing of Heaven because they don't know Jesus. Because maybe they heard about Him in church, but never really MET Him. Because maybe they never saw anyone being His hands and feet.

"The patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish..." (2 Peter 3:9)

I'm not meaning to point fingers, even tho I guess I am. I've been guilty of it, too. I've been too busy...been too comfortable in my own group of friends. It's just easier to see wrong in someone ELSE...or when the tables are turned and it affects ME. So I'm doing the whole 'remove the beam from your own eye' thing, and I pray that God will make me sensitive to the people around me.

"Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers..." (Hebrews 13:2)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Matt Turner

It's unnatural, the death of someone so young. I think we all hope for a long, healthy life. If not for ourselves, then for our loved ones and our friends.

In this case, he was a son...a brother...a husband...a young father...a friend to many.

A tragedy.

It's not right.

When my Mom died at age 59, my Grandmother was distraught. No amount of love or counsel from pastors, family or friends would comfort her.

She was no stranger to loss. She had lost a sister, her parents, two husbands...and countless friends.

This was different.

She said that parents should not outlive their children; that it was wrong no matter how old they were. She never got over it. She spent the remainder of her days grieving, her mind in turmoil. The "what-ifs" ate at her daily. On more than one occasion, she said she would gladly have given up her life in exchange for my Mom's.

But it doesn't work that way, does it?

God sees life differently. The Bible says it's a "vapor (James 4:14)," a "breath (Job 7:7, Ps 39:5)." That "better is one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere (Ps 84:10)." That to be "absence from the body, is to be present with the Lord (2 Cor 5:6)." In 2 Corinthians 4: 16-18, the Bible speaks of  "light and momentary affliction...that will produce for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison..."

Why does it hurt so bad?

Death is just hard...on the ones who remain. The husband? He is in Heaven. But his young wife, what is she to do? Even with her strong faith, how will she ever pick up the pieces of her life? Because it's more than the loss of's the loss of a companion, a soul-mate, a friend; the influence of a Godly husband and father; the plans of raising their daughter, growing a family...growing old. Together.

Now what?

I've been reading the book by Angie Smith entitled, "Mended." In it, she tells the story of shattering a vase, and then trying to glue it back together. It was a painstaking process, but of course, it didn't go back the way it was. It couldn't. She would argue it wasn't meant to. Some of the pieces never fit back right. It left cracks and scars. Places you could see through. Angie says she felt God telling her that the cracks were places where He could seep out of her life.

For those who knew Matt Turner, who know his wife, Julee and baby Preslee...this is a big crack in Julee's "vase." In her life. In the lives of his Mom, brother, co-workers and friends.

Big, big crack.

Use it, Lord...because our human eyes, it would seem like such a waste.

Comfort them as only You can.

And use us all in that process...

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His godly ones." Psalm 116:15

Thursday, October 4, 2012

10th Grade

It was like 10th grade all over again, when I was the new kid...coming into class late on the first day.

My Dad was in the Air Force and we moved all the time. In fact, I think I counted up 16 moves before I graduated from high school. My 4th grade year, I went to 3 different schools. THREE. DIFFERENT. SCHOOLS.

Explains a lot, huh?

So, it was part of the routine. After the move, my Mom would take us up to the school to get registered. This was almost always AFTER the school year had already started. And, the administrators always walked us into our class AFTER it had already started...and we had to bust up in there right in the big middle of it.

My stomach hurts just thinking of it.

Ever watch the movie, "Mean Girls..." the part when Lindsay Lohan is walking through the cafeteria? that. Everyone stares. They look you up and down, whispering to their friend. You are sure it's about you.

In my case, it WAS about me. And here's why...

Our family had just moved to Oklahoma from Taiwan. I knew nothing about fashion, music or movie stars. I had lived on a rock for 2 years...give me a break! My mom had a lady who sewed for us while we were in Taiwan. My mom had such fun picking out patterns and material. The sewing lady was amazing! My sisters and I had lots of coordinating clothes (even now that makes me want to throw up a little in my mouth, because..10th grade). But while the things she made for us were great for Oklahoma? NOTSOMUCH. It's a thousand wonders I didn't get beat up on the first day.

In what I would call a major lack of judgment on my part (and my mom's for not knowing any better), I headed out to my first day wearing ORANGE pants and an ORANGE print shirt. To school. In Oklahoma. In the 10th grade. Add to the fact that we had been living in guest housing for 3 months before we actually moved, and had spent each and every day at the swimming pool. We were seriously tan...which probably only added to the serious brightness of the orange.

Oh the orange.

(And on another note: I had never worn a pair of jeans. EVER. Did not even own a pair. In 10th grade)

As Clark would say: "notthepoint..."

So, fast forward to this week. Our school's JV football team had an away game. We parked on the "home" side and walked in that gate. We had to walk across their side and down the infield side to get to our bleachers. It was a beautiful afternoon and we were just walking and talking and laughing the whole way, Joshua, Holly and me.

As we got to our side and started to climb up to find a seat, I was acutely aware that everyone was staring at us. It was mainly a group of women, all sitting together, who were staring at us up and down. I felt my face get flushed...was my hair messed up? did I have lettuce in my teeth? I sat down and looked at the 3 of us. We looked FINE. We all 3 had on our school looked good...teeth were white and shiny.


I am used to getting stares when I have Joshua, but this was ridiculous. Was it really just because of him? Or because we were "new?" I mean, we have been to every stinkin' game. I guess I will never know, but it infuriated me that people could be so rude. Especially those women.Were they talking about us? About Joshua? I was even more infuriated that I let it bother me. I am a mom...just like them. I love my husband and my kids...just like them.

Girls are just the worst, aren't they? If you have one, you know what I'm talking, church, boys...the drama never ends. Some of those mean girls grow up into mean women. I guess it's been that way since the beginning of time.

I realized again that I can't change anyone. I can only, with God's help, change ME. And I realized that changing ME, how I act and REact, might end up...some day...changing someone else. Everyone struggles with self-esteem and confidence issues. How we cover it up is that when we are little...we get in a "group," or we try to. That way, we feel stronger than we do when we are just alone. But guess what? Sometimes you have to stand alone.

That's what I've always told my kids...

It's a lesson I can never stop learning.

Lord, help them to see You in see You, not me...

"Together, we are His house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus Himself. We are carefully joined together in Him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord." Ephesians 2:20-21

Monday, October 1, 2012

The View

It's October 1!

This morning, since we didn't have any plans until after lunch...I decided, after Clark and Jim both left and Joshua had eaten crawl back into my bed. I took Jim's iPAD and turned on the tv and snuggled all up in the covers. Ahhh...

But I'm not a big 'napper' type of person, and so that lasted about 10 minutes before I decided to pad into the kitchen and face the day. It was about 8:30. I knew I had some errands to run and a package to mail to Logan later, but last night I decided that I would make some cookies to send to him today as well. My kitchen was a WRECK from the night before when I decided to make homemade ice-cream and it took...ohhh...almost SIX HOURS to make...from start to finish.

Good times.

I was unloading the dishwasher when I heard the lock turn in the door. It about freaked me out, because I knew Jim had to go out-of-town today...and Clark was already at school. Eeek!

It was Jim.

He had forgotten his cell phone.

He rushed into the bedroom to get it and paused as he passed by the kitchen...and just stared...

Let me paint the picture: The kitchen is a wreck. My hair has not been combed and I am wearing NO make-up. I've got on pink flowered-y and bottom. I have on my short, white robe with the blue and yellow flowers on it. I've had this robe for at least 15 years. Maybe more. (I'm pretty sure my sister has pictures to prove this). When I got up early to pack Clark's lunch, my feet were cold, so I put on some white crew socks. So, the robe comes down to my knees. The pajama pants are capris and hit 2 inches below my knees. There's about 3 inches between the pajama pants and the top of the white socks...where you just see my lovely, dry skin. And to top off this ensemble...I am wearing my pink pig slippers.

A vision, I tell you.

Take it ALLLLLLL in big boy!

Happy Monday!