Giving Thanks

Thank you Lord for holidays, holy days and paid-days-off from work.

Thank you Lord for jobs and work, challenges and monotony.

Thank you Lord for paychecks and bills paid.

Thank you Lord for cooler weather, open windows, breezes blowing.

Thank you Lord for quiet days at home.

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Thank you Lord for loud music to clean by and soft music to read by.

Thank you Lord for flannel sheets and fluffy cats.

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Thank you Lord for turkey dinners and iced tea.

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Thank you Lord for homemade cornbread dressing two days in the making.

Thank you Lord for new friends.

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Thank you Lord for long-time friends.

Thank you Lord for conversations in cozy living rooms.

Thank you Lord for divine appointments.

Thank you Lord for the carefree spirit in children.

Thank you Lord for friends with open arms, open homes, giving away seats at their dinner table.

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Thank you Lord for open doors and for those You have divinely closed.

Thank you Lord for phone calls, Skype and email which make far-away people feel near.

Thank you Lord for sales and bargains.  Thank you for those times that you protected me from impulsive purchases.

Thank you Lord for the gift of variety, for taste buds and the nudge to try new things.

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Thank you Lord for smiles and laughter.

Thank you Lord for prayer.

Thank you Lord for movies with happy endings.

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Thank you Lord for mornings which require no alarm clock.

Thank you Lord for Christmas decorations.

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Thank you Lord for responsibilities.  Thank you Lord for rest.

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Thanksgiving at Work

Today, the Division that I work in came together to celebrate Thanksgiving with a covered dish lunch. I entered the day a little melancholy because I still miss my old job, my old office and my old work friends. I always enjoyed planning our holiday celebrations, to include games and surprises and I was feeling a little twinge of loss.

And then I walked into work today and saw this.

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Folks spent their own money to purchase these decorations. I watched a supervisor who stays locked in his office all day every day hang decorations, smile and kid. I thought to myself, “That’s a side of him I’ve never seen before.” And holidays have a wonderful way of doing that.

We gathered for the meal and our Division Manager stood up and spoke a few words. He acknowledged the staff that were not with us, either due to family commitments or those recently retired. He recognized a few employees who will be retiring in the upcoming month. He thanked us for our efforts and reminded us to be thankful and enjoy our families and loved ones.

And then…

And then…

…he asked for an employee to volunteer to pray a blessing before we ate.

And a man prayed for local Government, our Nation, our Armed Forces, peace in the Middle East and for the employees in the room. In Jesus’ Name.

In Jesus’ Name.

And I was so surprised and amazed that with my head bowed and my eyes closed my heart just welled up at this reminder that God is in control and He is bigger than political correctness.

In a secular environment, I witnessed a leader prioritize God.

And that’s Thanksgiving at work.

When My Soul Goes Home

There was a time when I did not long for the return of Jesus.

There was a time when I did not look forward to Heaven.

I thought I’d be missing out on something.

I wanted to experience love and marriage, motherhood and success before being subjected to never-ending harp music and whatever else I misunderstood Heaven to be.

Now, I long for Heaven.  I long to walk with Jesus in the cool of the evening like Adam once did.  I was made for Heaven.  I was made for unbroken, unbridled fellowship, intimacy even, with Jesus.

Living on this earth as a foreigner can make you weary.

I’ve heard this song two dozen times, at least.  But tonight, I listened closely… and wept.

A bit of the lyrics that just moved me… “I understand that shadows flee and everywhere is LIGHT, but what about the moon and stars and dreams I dream at night? … I never thought I loved the earth, until I held Your Hand.  I felt you take my heart and you made me understand that God is love and touching Him was also touching man… So dance in the grass, let the Word become flesh and wash the world in song… And thank the God of Heaven ‘n Earth until my soul goes home…”

This song is so beautiful and it stirs deep within me a longing this earth will never satisfy.  I weep too because of the beauty of this song…realizing that all of the talent that wrote and crafted this piece (and so much more of the musical art I enjoy daily) pales in comparison to the sounds of Heaven.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined the things that God has prepared for those who love him.”

Women of Faith

On October 10th and 11th I attended the Women of Faith conference at the Amway Arena in Downtown Orlando. This was the first time I had ever attended a large, Christian conference like this and I was excited. I went with friends from my former church, Calvary Assembly of God. We sat together and carpooled both days. It was so much fun!

The theme of the conference this year was: From Surviving to Thriving

Here’s a picture I took inside the arena Friday night. This place is huge and we were up high!

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I got to sit next to my dear friend and mentor Toni all weekend long. She is lovely in every way and has such an amazing testimony.

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The conference opened with comedienne Anita Renfro who told us a hilarious story of going to the doctor, being confronted with a BMI chart which caused her to have an outbreak of the disease fibromyalgebra. Finally, the doctor deciphered the chart for her only to find out her diagnosis: she’s not tall enough. She went on to share that she remedied this problem by regularly wearing high-heeled shoes.

Following Anita was Lysa TerKeurst, founder of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Lysa spoke on “One Wise Woman” from II Samuel 20. She was very honest and humble about her testimony which includes an abortion a long time ago. She spoke on motherhood and their adoption of two teenage boys from Africa. I enjoyed her teaching very much and only wished she had been allowed to speak longer. Over the weekend, I noticed that the schedule only allowed for roughly 30 minutes of teaching per session.

Friday night ended with a mini-concert by Natalie Grant. I own some of Natalie’s music, but I must say hearing her live gave me new admiration for her talent. She was truly phenomenal and the best performer all weekend. She sang a new song called “Burn Bright” and she shared the real-life heartbreak behind the song: her young nephew in bondage to drug addiction, forsaking his family and his future for life on the streets. I was in tears. I know the pain of watching someone you love choose darkness over light.

Eight thousand ladies leaving an arena and parking garage causes quite a traffic jam, but my little carpool was busy talking about the great evening. I got home after 11pm and tried to settle down right away since we had an early start on Saturday morning.

Patsy Clairmont took the stage bright and early Saturday morning. She bounced all over the stage with energy and humor. Her opening line into her microphone was, “What are you going to do with your one precious and wild life?” She wove humor and truth together so well, it was as if I was laughing and getting knocked upside the head simultaneously. She talked about fear and how fear has friends. If you let one fear linger too long, he’ll invite his friends over. She talked about obeying God and living for Him and how for her that started by getting out of bed…literally…and then making her bed…so she couldn’t just crawl right back into it. She reminded us that when something gets ripe, it starts to rot: so always learn & grow. She concluded the exact way she started by challenging us to consider: What are you going to do with your one precious and wild life?

Sheila Walsh spoke next and although I don’t know her that well, I have a soft spot in my heart for her. She shared how as a little girl growing up in Scotland, she liked to walk the beach especially after a big storm because the wind and waves would often toss treasures from the sea up on to the shore. She used this as an analogy for how the storms of life can bring up to the surface things we didn’t know were buried within us or we thought we were over. She shared her testimony of an emotional breakdown and struggle with depression. Her victory has comes through learning and believing who she is in Christ Jesus. My notes include these quotes: “Forgiveness is God’s gift to us to enable us to live in a world that isn’t fair. The enemy has nothing in his arsenal to combat forgiveness.” “Guilt tells you you’ve done something. Shame tells you you are something.”

Next up was 48-year-old powerhouse Pentecostal preacher Christine Caine. She shared her testimony of finding out at age 33 that she had been abandoned and unwanted as an infant and that the parents who raised her were actually her adoptive parents. She encouraged us to latch on to the truth that we ARE Christ’s workmanship, created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). She shared a testimony of past abuse and offered this definition of abuse (which I found enlightening): to use something or someone for a purpose other than what it was designed for. She encouraged us that Christ shines beautifully thru our brokenness – and our brokenness is a bridge to people way more than fake success ever could be. She challenged us to realize that the work of Christ is fully complete. There’s no waiting. “Ladies, there will be no altered tomorrow to step into if you don’t do something today!”

After lunch and a mini-concert by Matthew West, the conference concluded with one final message from speaker Lisa Harper. For the last year, I’ve been following on social media Lisa’s journey to adopt 5-year-old Missy from Haiti. Lisa had a wonderful slide show of pictures and Instagram videos to show us…but the real treat was when Missy came out on stage. Lisa is 51 years old, never been married and now a new Mama. The amazing grace and adventure of God. After Missy left the stage, Lisa got right into her message out of Revelation 2:4. She challenged us to realize that all of the wonderful messages and truths we’ve heard this weekend will fall flat in time if we do not keep God as our first love. Our revival will be short-lived and we’ll be right back in survival mode if Christ is not given proper place in our hearts and lives. She shared a story of watching Missy play on a swingset at a park and Missy encountered a mean child. At first Lisa just observed the situation, but when the bullying reached an unacceptable level, Lisa intervened. She went in like a bull in a china shop to protect and defend her little girl. Later, she said The Lord nudged her, “I wish you’d fight that hard for me.” She closed by telling us that “Passivity is not an option. God wired us to fight.”

One particular highlight of the weekend was on a restroom break, Toni and I ran into Sarah Wehrli and Jenny Kutz, my pastor and a girlfriend from my new church.  For me, it was like two worlds colliding: Toni from my Calvary season and now people from my new season…it was such a neat few minutes talking about the conference and the goodness of The Lord.  The Holy Spirit even imparted a word thru Toni for Sarah.  It was a sweet, divine appointment.

As I conclude this post, I pray I will remember and apply all that I learned and daily walk as the Woman of Faith God has equipped me (and you!) to be!