Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I should have been prepared for this...

No longer just something I carry around in my heart, I have now  begun to fine-tune the words on the page. What began as God's quiet prompting seems clear and perfect in the dark moments right before dawn,  but then,  the rest of the world wakes up and cloudy and ugly.  I am vulnerable and find myself  ill-equipped as I walk this out into the world.   As I edit, I  wonder who wrote this. The writing is terrible, the sentences childish, and  I don't want to continue.  
     But I know this isnt God so I'm fighting my way through it. I cut and paste. I re-write and re-write and re-write. I am choosing to persevere. In my heart I want nothing more than to glorify God and I know He knows. I can feel Him right beside me.  
    So....I go back and read my own beginning in my own words and it reminds me.  
     And here I am. My feet still planted on the road to God's glory, but in truth,  this latest stretch is rocky and hot  and I really just wanna get off.  But I wont because God has put me here and I trust him. So I'll  take another step, blister or not, and keep my eyes on Jesus.  I will trudge over its hills and pull its thorns out of my feet.  I will pull my shoes from the sticky tar,  and when I cry out  because I step on a sharp rock, I will know my Father hears me cry. I will hop through the hot spots because of the cool green valley at the end of the road where fragrant flowers will take my breath away and the babbling brooks will sounds like worship. I will bring glory to my God...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Glory Road ...a bible study and more

     As I sit down to begin this journey, I am still trying to wrap my head around this place that God has brought me. I am so overwhelmed by His presence at times that my eyes fill with tears. I am flying into this by the seat of my pants, but I’m excited, ready, and willing because God is my pilot.
     I am the girl in Bible study who constantly had her hand up. I often thought scripture was hard to understand and I found myself confused sometimes. But God's word had already captured my heart, so I kept going. I continued to ask questions and put many things down before the Lord in prayer.  As I talked openly with my sisters in Christ, I realized I was not alone in this place. Not only had God been with me every step of the journey, but many of the women appreciated my honesty. Before I knew it, I was asked to lead the discussions in our group.  I was hearing from God like never before and Scripture became alive. As it filled me with truth, I began to really believe the promises of God.
     If I'm completely honest, I still struggle with understanding at times, but what I know to be true about God, what He has shown me personally, and what I have witnessed in the testimony of others, is enough. The rest can be a mystery until it is revealed to me in the Kingdom of Heaven.
     Knowing all this, you might wonder why I feel equipped to write a Bible study of my own, and the answer to that is simple. I don’t and I’m not. In my own strength, what I'm attempting here would simply not be possible. Writing a Bible study was never a part of my plan. I was, in fact, several years into the writing of my, “great American novel” and believed God was on board with this plan of mine. I believed that He had equipped me for the undertaking. So, when the day came that God asked me to give up writing fiction, I thought I had misunderstood Him. Our conversation went something like this.
     “You’re joking me, right, Lord? You just want to see if I’ll be obedient? Right?”
     “No daughter, you're wrong.” He said. “That's not it at all. I just want you to lay it down.”
     “But you met me here, remember?” I was arguing with him now. “We’ve talked about this already.”
     “And now I’m talking to you about it again,” He told me, “I want you to stop.  I’m taking you somewhere else.”
     We were in the wrestling ring now.  “What other place?” I asked Him. “I want to finish my novel. You know how hard I’ve worked on it. What about all the workshops, conferences, and study I put into it.  You’ve been right beside me.”
     “Oh precious girl. I have been beside you. You are right about that.  But you are wrong to think this has ever been about you."
     “What?” God was asking me to give up something that I truly loved and had spent years studying and devoting my time too. It did feel like it was about me. I was upset and confused. Yet, God was very clear. I knew our talk was almost over.
     However, because of His gracious love for me, He allowed me to fight it for a few more days until it became clear who would win the match.
     Cried out and defeated, I surrendered.  "Will I ever get to finish my novel?" I asked him.
     And again, because of His love for me, God did not answer. He knew that I might not be ready to hear His answer and knew quite well that t I had already had a very difficult couple of days.
     I kept the news to myself for a week or so as I let it settle. Many people knew I was writing a novel, and I was not yet ready to admit that it was finished before it was finished. However, as it always does when we settle inside God’s will, His peace came…
     I've known since the day of that wrestling match that God was preparing me for something else. His presence over me at times had felt like a second skin, and I knew He was doing a work in me. I did not, however, imagine I would be doing anything like this.
     Here is also where I want to tell you that this Bible study is different from most in its format. I believe this is because it comes from a place that is so unique to the way my Father made me and the way He speaks to me, that it can be done no other way.
     That being said, "The Glory Road" will include some chalk renderings I've done of photographs I have taken. These are places were God has spoken to me. Places where the glory of His creation brought me to an incredible place of worship.
     And because my Daddy in heaven thinks I’m precious and loves me so much, I am also getting to do a little of what I love. Alongside this Bible Study, and I'm not sure how it will fit yet,  I will also be telling you a tale. A tale from a kingdom long ago that stars a beloved princess and her magnificent King.
     So now, as we step onto the “Glory Road” together, I ask for your grace knowing that this is just one daughter’s journey. In addition, it is my prayer, that as you turn the last page, you will be in a new place of relationship with your Heavenly Father and have new insight as to what you were created for.
    Oh Lord Jesus! Let it be our absolute desire to live a life that brings you glory. Help us see the world through your eyes. Give us a heart changed forever by the power of your Holy Spirit and the immense love of our Heavenly Father. May we realize the, (beyond-amazing) imagination of the Creator of all things beautiful and lovely, and, the unfathomable sacrifice of a Savior who gave His life to save our own.
May you receive our constant praise and be glorified forever and ever and ever.
     And the angels cry…“Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” Rev. 4:8
     Now let’s take the first step together …the Glory awaits.

Monday, November 1, 2010

So it begins...

    The title came to me in my car as I sat underneath a rainbow along highway 395. I was coming home from San Deigo after a visit to Texas. I had just had eye surgery and afterward had attended the last few sessions of a "Kairos conference at my sisters Gateway church in Dallas.
     Overwhelmed by the glory of the rainbow and the things God has been saying to me, I pulled over. Looking at the clock, I realized that the rainbow had appeared at the same time was sister and niece were being baptized in Texas. God's love poured over me in that moment, and I could almost feel him planting my feet on this road to His glory. "You're ready for this." He said to me. "I've been preparing you for a long time."
    I wanted to shout with joy,  and keep it a secret, all at the same time. I was full of excitement one minute and flooded with fear the next. I knew I couldn't do what God was asking of me in my own strength. The very idea of trying to paint creation pictures was enough to stop me. So... I waited and prayed.
     As I did, God began to remind me of things. He reminded me of words my sister said to me. He reminded me of things my church family had spoken over me in the last few years. These were things I did not understand at the time, but were now becoming clear as God began to lay out His plan before me.
     He showed me the unique way I had been created, and how, as far back as I could remember, I had seen his face and heard his voice through the glory in his creation. "This is why I chose you for this."  He said,  and I was suddenly bombarded with memories and images. Childhood turtles, frog hopping contest, thunderstorms and tomato worms. Garden blackberry bushes, mountain sunrises, cloudy summer afternoons. Grandsons, whales, stars, and baby monkeys. He said, "You see me everywhere." I knew it was true.
     So here I am with my feet on the, "Glory Road", because God placed them there. I will do my best to honor all that He asks of me because I want to make Him proud. I know He will equip me and light the path. I am ready for the journey!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dear Beth Moore...

    (Okay...so...I'm admitting on the front end that I know this is a little weird considering the person I'm writing this to will never read it, but that being said, I'm going to write it anyway...)

     Dear Beth...
      I picture myself sitting across a small table with you in a quiet corner of Starbucks laughing. This scene is a picture of two woman who are made so uniquely alike by their incredible creator, that he ordains their meeting, and is sharing in the joy of the moment. 
      I don't know which one of us is older, but I think our Father saw what a kick he was going to get out his beautiful and unique creation, that he couldn't help himself from making a second one so much like the first. 
     These two women, born in the mid-west around the same time both raise children alongside each other, yet they are hundreds of miles apart. Both watch their firstborn daughter's, with head fulls of thick brown hair who smile and roll their eyes when their Mother's tell stories about them, fall in love with amazing young men and begin lives of their own. They watch these precious daughters become wives and then mothers. They both become the giddiest of Grandmother's and can not stop gushing about these precious baby boys. Both of these women are more in love with their husbands than they were thirty plus years ago, and share, with precious tears, each of these things alongside their men.
     To one, He gives gives a southern accent, a painful childhood, an amazing testimony, and a redeemed life. He takes this precious little buck-toothed daughter from Arkansas, moves her to Texas, and gives her a huge ministry. She is a fashionista, a Starbucks coffee lover, a girl who knows and appreciates big hair and is a dramatic and funny storyteller. She is a woman who loves His word, a woman who is transformed by His love and grace, and whose heart and obedience directly effects the other. 
     To the second woman, He gives a bit of redneck spirit, a husband at age nineteen whose childhood was so painful that it is unimaginable, and He redeems them both. He takes this precious little daughter, (who had extra teeth growing in under her tongue and wore a a device to school that went with it ) and moves her family to a tiny mountain town in the Eastern Sierra's of California where she leads the other woman's Bible studies. She too is a fashionista, a Starbucks coffee lover, a girl who knows and appreciates big hair, a dramatic storyteller, and a lover of His word. She too is transformed by His love and grace.
     The second woman wants to tell the first one how her heart for, and obedience to, Jesus, changed her life. She wants to thank her for her dedication, thoroughness, and consistence in writing Bible Studies and traveling the country. She wants the first woman to know that there are woman in a little California mountain town that call the second woman, "Mini Beth," and that have been changed, healed, set-free, and empowered by the gifts of the first one. She wishes they could share stories across a table about Jackson and Jude and laugh so hard that they almost cry. She wishes they could talk about clothes, hair, sin, the challenges of this life, the promises of the next one, the power of prayer, and the blessings that come from a life lived for Him. She knows that words like darlin' and precious, would be exchanged and that tears would flow. And, she believes, their loving father in heaven would see this all play out, and smile...
     So in closing, this second woman wants to tell the first one that she is not only her precious, Sista, but also appreciated, understood, and loved...
    Your California Kindred....Pam

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Remembering a Father...

      A Father’s day gift_

     When I think about my childhood, and remember you in the midst of it, I see four clear sets of pictures.
     In the first set, I hear you laughing. I hear the funny noises you make and I see you playing with us in the yard on warm summer nights. I remember how you taught me to catch fireflies, and how you hammered small holes into the lid of a miracle whip jar for me to keep them in. They became my bedside nightlight.
     I see you happy, smiling, and I understand clearly that my playful nature comes from you. I see us sprawled across the living room floor playing a board game, or playing cards around the kitchen table.
I hear you laugh aloud as you watch, “Rowan and Martin’s laugh-in” and “Hee Haw.” I remember how your laughter comforted me, how it settled my spirit. It made me happy.
     The next set of memories is of a Dad who fixes everything. My childhood is full of snapshots of you behind the washing machine, re-wiring electric sockets, putting in a ceiling fan. I see you under the hood of the car, and lying on the garage floor beneath it.
I remember the day we heard baby kittens crying inside the pantry wall, and being amazed that you knew right where to cut a hole to rescue them. They came out covered with drywall chalk. I remember the time the baby chicks caught on fire in the utility room, and how safe I felt because you were home and in control of the situation.
     We could count on you to take care of whatever needed taking care of. There was order and purpose to the things you did. You were reliable and trustworthy, and I always felt so safe because of that.
     I love the look and smell of fresh cut grass because of you. I remember the long bike rides I would take on summer nights up and down the streets of our neighborhood and remember how my heart swelled with comfort and pride as I headed home and our yard came into view. Our grass was always freshly edged, mowed and manicured. The nicest on the block, and I knew that you had given it the best of your care. And that care, spilled over onto me.
     I remember the time you found tomato worms on the plants in the backyard and took me out there to show me what they looked like so I could help you find them .We sat together for a while and watched the giant worm eat its way across a leaf and I was mesmerized. You showed me how to handle them and how they used their large thorn as a weapon. Then I watched you poke it with a stick and I saw it bend its back end over itself as it attacked the stick with its thorn. I remember being amazed. I could not stop watching it.
      I remember running out to check the plants, so excited, yet also freaked out, every time I found one.
     One night you came home from work and I had three of them trapped in a Miracle Whip jar. I remember you were proud of me.
     (We sure put those Miracle Whip jars to good use, huh?)
     The next set of memories comes from a Dad who loved sports. I do not remember how old I was when you played softball, but I have a clear memory of knowing that you were the pitcher and that that was quite a big deal. I remember your wind-up and how fast the ball flew from your hand. I remember standing around with some kids one night by the concession stand and saying proudly, “My Dad’s the pitcher.”
     I remember all the nights we spent at the bowling alley during your years in bowling league. There are smells and sounds buried deep inside me unique to that place. Every time I walk into a bowling alley, the sounds and smells take me back, and I remember. I watched you throw a bowling ball so many times, that I see it clearly if I close my eyes. I see the curve of your ball right before it hits the center pin to make a strike. You would do it over and over and I'd hear you, “Whoop,” and watch you do that funny little jig that always followed it.
     You sat in the recliner and I sat on the floor beside you while we watched John McEnroe, scream at Jimmy Connor’s on the tennis court.  How that entertained us.
    I learned about Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicholas’ golf stats, and I watched you sit on the edge of your seat as they made their putts.
     But my favorite was the boxing. It was Cassius Clay who sucked me in, but by the time Clay became Ali and fought Norton and Frasier, I was hooked. To this day, whenever I see a boxing match my blood pumps up a notch.
     You taught me how to throw a ball, (well, you tried to anyway) to swing a bat, (and boy did you smile when I pounded it.) You taught me how shoot a basket, ride a bike, roller skate and water ski.
     The last picture I have of you begins at the beginning and stays consistent throughout my childhood. This is the Dad in the suit who left in the morning, and came home every night at 5:30. This Dad provided for his family and was faithful and responsible every day of my childhood. Because of this, I felt safe, care for, loved and protected…
     So thank you Dad, and Happy Father's Day...I love you!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Missing Summer Storms...

      I grew up in the Midwest, Oklahoma City to be exact, right in the middle of tornado country, and there, spring always announced itself in the very same way.
     Late in the afternoons, the horizon would grow dark as blue-black clouds bellowed and burped their way across the sky. I have vivid memories of watching them roll in and knowing their power. My heart would beat faster as anticipation, fear, and awe all fought each other for their rightful place inside my spirit.
     There was a drill in my family and we knew what to do. When a storm began to make its way across the sky, we would head home and turn the TV on to Gary England. He was our local meteorologist, and he would be the one to tell us when to worry. He was the man who would change the, “Thunderstorm Watch” into a “Tornado Warning.”
     If Dad was home, and it seemed more often than not, he was, we would head for the garage where Dad turned on the radio, and our ritual began. My two sisters, my brother, and me, would gather our lawn chairs and line up side by side next to Dad just inside the open garage door. We would scoot to the very edge and lean out as the sky cracked open with lightning, and we would shriek as the gigantic booms of thunder vibrated forth from the darkening sky. We would compare lightening bolts and cracks of thunder, and on evenings when each one seeming brighter, closer, and more powerful than the one before it, we knew the storm was headed right for us.
     Sometimes, just when we thought the sky couldn’t possibly get any angrier, it would open up and explode with hail. Once, hailstones rained down the size of golf balls, and shocked, I stood holding my ears, mesmerized by the sight. I had never seen power like that, or heard a natural sound so loud. Other times, we watched funnel clouds dance down from the darkness looking for a place to land, then they would hop back up and disappear. But if the sirens sounded, and they often did, we had to go inside.
     I felt safe if Dad was home when this happened, but his expression and the glances he gave my mother, told me if he was worried. On these occasions, he gathered us kids into the bathtub, he and Mom on the floor beside us with a mattress from their bed as shelter.
     The worse tornado of my childhood, one of the bathtub times, took a neighbors roof completely off his house and sat it down on the roof of a house two streets over. No one was hurt, but when Dad came back from visiting them the next day he took us over there to see it and he showed me a vase of flowers on their kitchen table that never even tipped over.
     I remembering standing there and looking up from that table at nothing but blue sky, as I came to a new understanding about the power and awe of a God that had control of something like that.
     As I recall these things, and share this story, I can’t explain clearly, why I miss all this so much, but know that I do. I believe it is the power of God that draws me in, but I also see his glory in the lightning, hear it in the thunder, and smell it in the rain.
     And in our neighbors kitchen that had no roof yet held a vase of flowers untouched on the table, I felt God’s Glory.
    This, I know, is why I miss them.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

God Amidst Technology

     I was at my daughter’s house the other day when she handed my 2-year-old grandson her Iphone. “Watch this Mom,” she said with a glint in her eye, “It’s pretty amazing.” Jude then took the phone, smiled at me, and proceeded to flip through the application pages until he found an icon called Monkey Lunchbox and then he opened it. I sat with him in my lap in utter amazement and watched him play a game similar to the card game we used to call concentration. His memory of where the matching fruits were astounded me.
     This precious two-year-old seemed to have an innate ability for this type of technology, and I was reminded of another time with my own son, Michael. He loved to build things with Lego’s, and when he was about four, Lego came out with these new intricate designs. Michael saw this Pirate ship one day when we were out, but there were hundreds of pieces and I thought it would be way too much for him. But when he kept asking for it, the day finally came to make the purchase, so I blocked a chunk of time out of our day so I could sit with him and help him build it. As Michael settled on the floor with the box, I went into the kitchen to fix a glass of tea and make us a snack. When I came back into the room, he had half the ship put together already. I remember being amazed by that too. No instructions necessary, just the picture on the box alongside his little brain and hands.
     The truth is that the Lego Pirate ship challenged me that day, and I was not prepared for all the technology that lied just around the corner. However, what I know now, is that our God was prepared. He was not surprised or amazed by any of this. He knew exactly what kind of world Michael and Jude would be born into. He knew the skills they would need to be successful in 1989 and in 2010. God knew all of this was coming.
     So…my point is this. Although I am constantly challenged by all the latest computer and phone technology, I am embracing it. My husband used his upgrade and got me an Iphone for Mother’s day. Most of my family members already had one, so it was not a new deal in my world, but I wanted to figure it out all by myself, so I did. Well…I may have called ReAnnon once or twice.
     And now, I can't imagine living without it. I love that I can play scrabble with daughters, nieces, friends, and Mother on and off throughout my day. (This also keeps my brain working) I love that I can take a quick minute to engage with them, or send a simple text of love or encouragement. I can leave a quick comment on a friend’s blog post, or laugh with someone on Facebook…and all this…I can do in my car in between errands, while I water my garden, when I stop at the creek on a walk, or when I take a work break.
     The other day, while I was watering, my niece sent me a picture text of her Mom, my sister, wearing a hat like one that I have. “She’s looks like you, Aunt Pam,” her text said, and I laughed. They were traveling in the car, and after a few texts back and forth, I felt like I was in the car with them. What a precious gift that was. Then my youngest daughter, a big city girl, found a curio cabinet the other day and sent me of photo of it right away. I then got another photo a few hours later after she had filled it with all her special treasures. I felt like I was right there with her too. Another gift.
     So whether you’re on board with all this new tech stuff or not, it is the world we live in and the way of the future. The social networks, like them or not, is how people communicate these days. My parents, siblings, kids, nieces and nephews, friends, all of us, we laugh, post pictures, and share our lives with each other this way. And as God inspires me to write about what He is doing and what He has done, I can share those things with all these people as well.
     I watched my oldest daughter bring God Glory amidst some very difficult suffering by way of a personal story a young pastors wife shared on a blog of her own similar journey.
     I believe that to be a successful disciple in the world today, to share the Gospel with the largest audience possible, we need to Facebook, Blog, Tweet, set up Web sites, and Email, because it is the way of the world. You may not like it, and you can fight to the end, but you will lose. It is our future.
     I understand the internet can be a dark place, but it is not going away. If we want to be in touch with our children and grandchildren on a daily basis, and I do, it is our only choice.
     As we embrace it, we need to use it for the Glory of God. Let us not lose the foundations of biblical truth and the heart of God among all this new stuff, but let us instead teach, love, minister, and encourage more people than ever before through these amazing tools that God has placed in front of us.
     So I encourage you to learn how to use this stuff. Embrace it! If my Mom can do it, and I can do it, you can too. It’s all part of God’s perfect plans…