Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Worth It

Ministry life is not always easy. Yet, there are special moments in ministry that I am both blessed and humbled to get to witness. These special moments make any difficult times worth it. Today, I would like to share with you ten things I love about being in ministry.
1)      Seeing people “take up” their "cross" and follow Jesus.
2)      Hearing testimonies of God’s power and provision in people’s lives.
3)      Being able to pray for individuals' hurts, struggles, and healing.
4)      Seeing people grow hungry for the Word of God.
5)      Having spiritual and theological conversations.
6)      Seeing people experience authentic worship.
7)      Talking with people about what they are reading in the Bible.
8)      Seeing people change the music they listen to and the books they read.
9)      Watching people realize and answer the calling God has placed in their lives.
10)   Developing precious friendships that will last for life.
Because of these things (and many others), I am beyond thankful to God for my life as a minister’s wife.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Different Kind of Mother's Day

“Are you a mother?” the sweet waitress at our restaurant asked me this afternoon. She stood by our table, ready to give me a cupcake should I say yes. There is no way that young lady could have realized the emotions she stirred up inside of me with that simple, innocent question.  As I looked around the restaurant, I said a silent prayer for any of the women who were also experiencing sadness this Mother’s Day.
On November the 7th, I thought I would be spending Mother’s Day 2011 eagerly anticipating the bundle of joy that was to arrive the first week of June. One day later, I found out that would not be the case. Instead of excitement, I feel pangs of unresolved grief as I think about that little one whom we never got to meet.
I never really understood why Mother’s Day was so hard for so many people. But now, in some small way, I do understand. This day can stir up all sorts of emotions for so many different reasons. Those emotions range from grief for a mother who has passed to sadness from a broken relationship.  Perhaps you have experienced miscarriage and, like me, you are fearful about what the future will hold. Maybe you are battling with infertility, and your heart yearns and breaks all at the same time on this day.  
For me, this holiday is different than ever before. It is difficult to have all these emotions stirred up.  I know I am not alone; many of you are experiencing pain on this day from past wounds. Many of you have wounds that are far more difficult than mine. My heart goes out to you.
Dear sweet sister and friend, whatever hurt this holiday may bring back to you, know this: you have a great High Priest who bears your grief and pain. You do not have to bear it alone. Others may not know what you are going through, but Jesus does.  I am praying for you today.
Surely our griefs He himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted. (Isaiah 53:4).

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Water is Rising.

Over the past few days I have almost gotten used to seeing people with moving trucks parked in their front yards. As I complete my afternoon runs, I see people throwing laundry, furniture and other belongings in the back of vehicles. I know many of the houses in my neighborhood are empty or being emptied. Preparations are being made for worst case scenarios.

On May 22, the Mississippi is projected to crest at 64 feet (it was originally 65 feet, and has dropped Praise the Lord!). This is six feet above the highest crest in recorded history, which was during the Great Flood of 1927. At 64 feet, the river will be about 21 feet higher than the elevation of our house, and will be 4 feet from the top of the levee. We live about 6 blocks away from this levee.  The levees are expected to hold strong, and it is expected that there will be no flooding in our town. Still, the list of things that could go wrong is scary, and has set many into panic mode. Some people are moving everything out of their houses and across the river to Natchez which is at a much higher elevation (about 190 feet higher than Vidalia).

The river at 53 feet. It will crest at 64 feet on May 22nd.
The whole thing became very real to me on Wednesday, when there was an unplanned after-school meeting for the teachers. In this meeting, we were told of the evacuation procedures in the case that an evacuation happened during school hours. Also, we were told that school would end two days early. I was advised to move my textbooks and important supplies to the top shelves in my classroom. As I moved my textbooks to the very top shelf, it hit me.....Wow, this is real.
So, I began precautionary measures.......I have packed up my pictures, keepsakes, and non-replaceable items. The laundry basket that they are in will be sent with some sweet friends to their home in Natchez on Sunday along with some of Stephen’s guitars.  We will take a couple pieces of furniture to another location. We have a place to stay across the river, should there be an evacuation. I plan to stack the remaining furniture in the house as high as possible should we have to leave. So, there’s the plan.

My basket of photos, keepsakes and important documents.
During all this planning I have realized much. In the past, I have been quick to say I would leave everything and go to the mission field should God call me. But, the prospect of losing everything to flood waters revealed that I was more materialistic than I thought. Maybe materialistic is the wrong word, and it is more like idolizing comfort. Losing my stuff did not bother me as much as the hassle it would be to replace it. I was concerned with comfort and convience.
It is interesting to think about how your actions reveal your beliefs.  I don’t want to be someone who is anxious about “stuff” as I believe that stems from a lack of faith. I don’t want to claim that I know God will spare us, because I don’t know his plan. But, I do know that I want to trust in Him. I want my actions to reflect my trust. I want to trust that He will reveal himself through the outcome, no matter what happens.  A song by Laura Story says it best:
"Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?"
Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer, and our city had a gathering at the city hall. As you can imagine, the attendance was high and the flooding was the main topic of the prayers. I did not get to attend, because of work. However, today I read a quote in the Natchez Democrat taken from my husband's prayer at the event.

 “Even if we are under 15 feet of water, you are the same God,” he said. “You are the same God in the sunshine and the rain.”

I don't know what will happen. But I do know this: God is still good, holy and just. Not because the levees hold, but because He is God.

As I type, the water is rising. I pray our faith rises too. Not “faith” that God will give us what we want, but faith that He is good and will provide for us what we need, no matter what happens.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Honduras Update

We are three months away from leaving on a mission trip to Honduras. THREE MONTHS! Stephen and I have been to Honduras several times, this will be my 5th trip and his 4th. This trip, however, will be so incredibly different from all the others. We are leading this trip. I can’t believe that we will be leading a group of 14 other people to a third world country.  It is scary, but so exciting.

Today, we had a flip-flop drive at our church. Our church brought 548 flip-flops! We will be able to put flip-flops on the feet of 274 precious souls. We will take these with us, along with care bags and other supplies to attempt to meet some of the material and physical needs of the Honduran people. However, this is not the focus of our trip. The most important thing is that we will take the good news of the gospel. We will share the story of Jesus.
 The people of Honduras have absolutely stolen my heart. The love I have for these people, people I don’t even know is overwhelming. My heart breaks for their bondage. I am so burdened for their lostness. I cannot wait to place my feet on that soil again, and to share the love Christ, which knows no language barriers.
I cannot wait to spend a week our team, and see the unbelievable things God will do. I am overcome with emotion as I imagine what it will be like.  As I type this, tears are steaming down my face, out of pure anticipation.
But, I know that our trip must be surrounded with prayer. So, I ask you to join me in praying for this trip. Please pray that god will allow all the details to work out, including finances, supplies, passports, and plans. Pray that God will begin preparing our hearts so that we may minister effectively. Pray that our team members’ health remains strong in the next few months.  Pray that individuals’ hearts will be open and sensitive to the Gospel. Pray that the strongholds of the country to be broken. Pray that we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Pray that Stephen and I would have wisdom to lead well. Pray that God will do exceedingly more than we could ever imagine! 
I thank you in advance for your prayers, you have no idea how much they are appreciated!
There are so many details to be worked out, but I trust that God has a plan for us in the beautiful country of Honduras........ 61 days and counting.