PRAYER TEAM

I am on the prayer team at my church. I didn’t realize that I was supposed to be there last Sunday. I had a very busy weekend with events and parties to attend and I skipped church.

It wasn’t till sometime during the week that I noticed the email notification about the prayer team. I felt horrible.

But it was more than just missing an opportunity to serve. I missed going to church. It was like I had chosen to skip the most important and fun part of my week. Not good.

This weekend I was slotted to work on the coffee team. Lately I have had some pretty severe back pain and hip pain. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. There is quite a bit of lifting involved in serving on that team.

I prayed about it and went to church. I couldn’t believe it. The moment I needed help, God produced a 12 year-old girl, Abby, who pitched right in. She swooped right in and out like an angel and helped me with whatever I needed. I finally realized she was the daughter of my friend, Lori. She is just like her mother, always eager and willing to help.

While setting up I talked with a fellow congregation member, Mark. His wife, Paula, had told me about the pain he is experiencing. He had cancer and had to take so much chemotherapy that it basically fried his nerves. She said his arms and legs feel like they are going through a revolving door of fire.

He had had a neurotransmitter block on a trial basis which had resolved his pain but it was just a trial. They had to take it out and wait for insurance to approve a permanent placement. I have been praying for this to happen ever since I learned about this. Today I found out it happened! So excited for him! Praying that it resolves the pain in his legs and hoping that the same can cure his arm pain.

So today we discussed our pain and I mentioned to him that I was having surgery again on the 20th of December. I have some metal I want removed from my right collar bone. The metal is beginning to bother me a lot and I am having upper right sided pain quite frequently. The metal has been in my body since I fractured my collar bone several years ago.

When they asked for people to come up and request prayer it didn’t even occur to me to ask for prayer. I know that Mark’s surgery is far more concerning than mine. Yet both him and Paula came to me after the service and asked to pray for me regarding my surgery. I was so touched.

To have been regarded in this manner, when I had totally been derelict in my duties last Sunday, was so humbling.
To have a church like this which is so loving and forgiving is truly like being a part of the body of Christ. So thankful for them!

 

DRAINAGE AND COMMUNICATION

I needed someone to put a drainage system in my backyard. I got three bids and decided on one company. I told the guy how I wanted it done and he did something different than what I wanted.

I overlooked that because I thought if it still worked, it would be all good. He was a hard worker and seemed to know what he was doing.

After he was done in my backyard there was still a problem. I kept calling him and he came out once or twice and the last time he came out was close to Thanksgiving. He turned off the water to my irrigation at that time.

Alright, I may be a bit OCD about watering my lawn and my gardens but if you had soaked as much money into your yard as I have in mine I imagine you may be too.

The reason why he turned off the irrigation was because I had a leak in my back yard. It was a puddle every morning near my rock ledge and rock steps that bordered my flower garden.

In the mean time, every thing else in my back and front yard was going brown. He said this was good because it was going dormant at the right time and the energy was being diverted into the root ball. I hope he is right because every tree in my front yard looks dead as a nail and if he is not right I will be upset next spring.

So he said he would call me a week after turning off the water to check and see if there was still a leak. I waited for the call. It didn’t come. So I texted him a picture of the puddle and a nice text message.  He didn’t call. So I called him and left a message. He didn’t call. So I set an appointment with his online scheduling for last Tuesday morning and he didn’t show up or call.

I started reading the reviews on his company and his lack of communication was a strong thread throughout all of his reviews. I thought just a moment about how to handle this and realized that he may not be good at communication but I am above par in written communication. So I posted a review on as many sites as I could and it wasn’t a favorable review.

Guess what? He called! He left a message. He said he had been on vacation and was not returning calls during his week of vacation. I guess I was supposed to know this by osmosis because this was the first time I heard this excuse. For the record, the text message I sent was sent the week before his supposed “vacation.”

He said my review could hurt his business and it would be really hard for him to come out to my home after reading that review.

Okay, like by this time I am scratching my head in awe at the gall of this man. He wasn’t coming out to my house to begin with and my review was reflective of his poor customer service.

Then he texted me that customers were texting and calling him about my review. I told him that did not surprise me because I was a professional writer.

This was really beginning to piss me off. He doesn’t communicate. I call him on his poor customer service and he tries to make me feel guilty?

So, I pondered a moment. I don’t like hurting someone else’s chance to make a living and he was a hard worker. Plus a verse in Ephesians came to my mind about only using words that can build someone up. (Sometimes I think I know the Bible way too good. lol)

I came to a compromise. I said I would pull down the reviews and give him one week to resolve the matter. If it was not resolved I would repost the reviews.

I have already called another company and have them on standby if this guy doesn’t respond. His lack of professionalism is not my problem but having a job done incorrectly at this time is my problem.

I have learned something from this upsetting experience.

Posting well written reviews is an effective way to get people to respond and also to warn others about incompetent professionals.

PRIDE AND THANKFULNESS

Recently my brother went through a very difficult day. This was the day his wife was scheduled to move out some items from his house because she has decided to end the marriage. I was really worried about this and he was too.

I never thought the two emotions I would experience at the end of this day was pride and thankfulness. Yet, because of God, that was the reality of this day.

My brother’s wife had contacted him earlier and given him a two page long list of things which she wanted. She was considerate enough to give it to him in advance so that he could look it over.

Then she told him that there would be ten people who would come to help her move. All of the people were from the church where my brother attends. That was difficult to digest. The preacher was also coming. In addition to this she said the sheriff was going to be there also.

I don’t know what it is about my small home town but when there is drama it is a big drama and this was setting up to be a dramatic scene.

My brother asked that the amount of people who came be limited to six people. He didn’t want anything stolen. She agreed to this.

My mother looked over the list of things that she wanted and there was a verbal exchange between her and my sister-in-law over two items. These were items which were heirlooms and in this instance I think my mother had the right to demand that those items stay within the family.

So the day of the event happened and I kept my brother in my prayers.

That evening I called him while out on a walk, expecting the worst.

I asked him how it went. He said, “It went surprisingly good.”

He said that the only anger was between my mother and his wife over those two items.

He went on to say the hardest thing was that he still had feelings for his wife and still found her very attractive. She is the only woman he has ever loved so this is heart breaking for him.

During the time of moving her things out my sister-in-law did not cross the line into deceit. There were some things that he thought she would take but she had remembered that those were purchased before the marriage. She was honest in that regard and I am so proud of her for that. My brother had not remembered so she could have took advantage of him but she chose not to.

Where I am thankful that she was honest, I was so proud of how my brother reacted I could have busted open with pride. My brother chose to act with compassion, (So Christ like). He helped carry things out and tried to be as non-confrontational as possible. He offered to trade with her over some things in the future if she needed some items that she had not taken.

I was so happy to hear that it had went well. I told him I had been praying for him. He said “A lot of people had been praying for him and he thought that was the reason it went so well.”

To see the Holy Spirit work within a situation which could have turned so ugly work out for the good of everyone involved just filled me with pride and thankfulness. I believe because of the prayers of so many people God took this day from the devil and claimed it for himself. It is ironic that this event happened on the Sabbath.

The funny thing is the sheriff never showed up. You don’t really need law enforcement when God is present.

Praise God!

BURDEN BOUNDARIES

Those of you who follow this blog know that my brother’s wife left him several months ago. This was after thirty five years of marriage.

I loved her like a sister so this was a big blow to me. She was one of my closest friends. I still love her and I know my brother still loves her also.

Even though I love her, I love my brother so much more and to see him go through this heartbreak is very unsettling.

In the Bible it says that we should carry each other’s burden. Well that is all fine and good but I live in Texas and my brother lives in Nebraska. My arms are long but not that long!

I moped around my house for the first few weeks after she left, getting very little sleep. I still worked and kept up other obligations but this really was a hard thing to swallow.

My daughter and I had several conversations about this break up. She said that I shouldn’t let his impending divorce affect me so much.

Yet the Bible says I should carry his burden.

So how do I carry his burden?

Number one-I pray for him. When I know he is facing a hard day, I pray extra.

Number two-I call him and encourage him as much as I can.

Number three-I cook and bake yummy items and send them to him. He has gotten soup, cookies and other items from my kitchen. He is so thankful for them. My mother has him over for one meal a day too. He needs some fattening up so I am all about sending him food.

Number four- I give thanks to God for my brother and for seeing me through my divorce and other events which have been heartbreaking for me.

I think the most important thing I have learned is to step away when I need to, in order to preserve my own happiness.

I have recently ended a long term relationship with a man because he kept stealing my happiness and I am not about to let any other person steal that again.

THE PERFECT HUSBAND

Every woman wants the perfect husband. Someone who will care for her and respect her.

Although many say there is no perfect man I dare to disagree.

When my husband left me twenty years ago, I was devastated.

There is a verse in the Bible which says that God is a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows.

I do believe that God is a father to the children of single mothers and I know that he has defended me, even though my ex is still living.

It is amazing to me how much my love for God the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit has grown over the years when I have been a single mother.

I remember when I was first single how he protected my children from a pedophile who preyed on children of other single parents. My God did not allow that man anywhere near my children.

I also felt His counsel one night when I actually heard a demonic sound outside my house. He told me to stay inside and put on every outside light that I could. It was that night that someone was murdered in their driveway and it was right in my neighborhood.

So He has protected me but how has he loved me?

The one time I asked Him out on a date when I was in Florida. He showed me clothes that were beautiful and also on sale. But more than that… He changed the weather because I was just a bit too hot.

Then there was the time I was driving through Oklahoma while going home to a family reunion. The rain was pelting my rental car and I was pleading to God to hold back any hail. I didn’t have insurance on the rental car for damages. As I was praying I saw a rainbow out on the horizon and within minutes God had put the start of a rainbow within a stone’s throw from my car. I know of no other person who has actually seen the start of a rainbow that close.

Do you know of any husband that can do that?

These memories are so cherished by me.

Yet there is an intimacy between people who have been married for several years and who have raised children. Where is that intimacy?

The other night my son did something very sweet for me and my daughter looked at him like he had lost his mind and then asked if I had asked him to do that. I said, “No, he just did it because he is a sweet son.”

Later on that night I heard the Holy Spirit “Did you see that look on Natalie’s face when Cameron took out the trash?” Somehow just the way that thought came to me it started busting me out in giggles.

Then the Holy Spirit came to comfort me and to explain to me in words I can not even express; why it was I went through a horrible heartbreaking time with this very son. During this time, my son was not living with me but my love for him did not wane, His character grew in ways I never could have imagined while he was away from me.

It has become amazing to me the level of intimacy I have with my perfect husband, which is Jesus Christ my Lord. We have gone beyond talking and listening. He knows my thoughts and it has come to the point where I know His thoughts in many circumstances.

People say they hear God speak. For some reason I have been privileged enough to go deeper than that. God doesn’t speak to me much. He thinks to me now. It’s the craziest thing. I can absorb a whole story from God in a second and it always makes such perfect logical sense.

If you are a single mother I would encourage you to draw close to God. He is the best provider, defender and lover you could ever wish for. Don’t keep throwing yourself at men if they just want sex. God wants better than that for you. He wants a man who will love you like He does. Unconditionally and without an agenda.

 

 

THANKFUL

I never thought I would say this. It has tooken me twenty years, a lot of pain and a great deal of reflection to come to this point. Yet this year I have added one more person to my list of people that I am thankful for.

I am actually thankful for my ex-husband.

I am thankful that he has been present and very involved in the lives of my children.

I think it is extremely important for both parents to be involved in the upbringing of children.

I am thankful that he allowed me the privilege of doing most of the raising. He had them every single weekend but I was more nurturing and I had them the majority of the time.

During the teenage years he wanted the boys to live with him in Florida. I resisted but now I see that this time with their Dad and stepmother taught them a lot about life.

This past week my youngest son stayed with me and he was such a help to me. He fixed so many things in my house and helped me in so many different ways. He is such a good son and he is a remarkable young man.

I know that his Dad taught him how to do drywall and that is what he did in some areas of my house. I am thankful that my ex taught my sons how to be resourceful and how to do home repairs.

I wish he would have been more generous in child support but I managed. I have always been good at managing money and as a result of not getting much child support I was forced to become successful in my career. I am very respected as being a competent professional in my field.

If I had gotten the full amount of child support I may have become dependent on him instead of independent in my own right.

I like being independent. I also don’t hold any animosity towards him or his wife on account of money. They give as much as they can to help out the children and I am thankful for everything they have done for the children.

I think this may be the ultimate in forgiveness.

When you are thankful for someone who may have hurt you and you think of them with gratitude, instead of pain. I think at that point you may have crossed the threshold from pain into forgiveness.

I can tell you this. It is like stepping out of a horrible, blinding storm and walking into the brilliance of a sunset.

WANTING TO BE LOVED

I am currently reading a biography of Rita Hayworth.  She was a beautiful movie star. It is interesting to note that her life was not without some challenges.

When I first became interested in her I heard her father had trained her to dance.  He supposedly had a dance studio and she was his star pupil.

I was a bit envious. I wanted to dance so bad when I was a little girl, but my Dad was a farmer and we lived in a little town where dancing was considered a sin. So my dreams of becoming a ballerina were not fulfilled.

As I read the biography of Rita Hayworth, I realized she didn’t really want to dance and there is a good chance that her father molested her.

I would take my father over hers any day of the year. Having a father who respects sexual boundaries is far better than one who could teach me how to dance.

However, there is something else I noticed in her biography. Rita Hayworth wanted to be loved. She married several times and always wanted a peaceful home life where she could feel loved.

I have known several people who said all they ever wanted was to be loved.

You would think it would be easy to fulfill that desire wouldn’t you?

It isn’t. It is the most exasperating challenge to encounter.

There are two people in my life who have said this to me.

I have tried my hardest to love both of them but it was never enough. It was exhausting to continually put my goals and ideals aside to try and meet theirs.

Each time I thought I had pleased them, the bar would just be set higher for the next round.

I ended losing my zest for life and abandoning my passion of writing to try and prove my love for them. Even with that sacrifice the constant neediness of their weakness was not satisfied.

Rita Hayworth was so devoid of love she got involved with more than one man who was married at the time. I am in no way judging her, just stating the facts.

It seems as if sexual immorality is a character trait among people who want to be loved.

To want to be loved is not a bad thing in itself but to desire physical intimacy outside of marriage is.

I see it merely as having your priorities mixed up. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul and mind first. Then love our neighbors as ourselves. (Matthew 22:36-40).

If you are willing to sin to show someone else that you love them, then they are not from God, no matter what they may proclaim.

To love God is to honor and obey his commandments. “In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3.

When you love God first and others second, priorities tend to fall in place like a gentle spring rain and you feel refreshed, instead of exhausted.

GOING TO CHURCH

There are several reasons why I go to church. One is to hear the word of God being spoken and to learn more about God.

The other is for the fellowship. I have finally found a church which feels like a warm and welcoming family.

I also have found that it is important to serve if you are in a body of Christ. Because my church currently meets in a warehouse we always have to set up and take down each Sunday. I help set up the coffee table one Sunday a month. It isn’t much but it is what I can do.

I consider it a privilege to tithe 10% of my income when I go to church. I find it amazing that God only asks for that little when I know how much He has done for me.

Since I have started attending Vibrant Church I rarely miss. One of the reasons I don’t miss is because the sermon is the highlight of my week. The other reason is that the church members would notice if I was not in attendance. I would miss seeing them and they would miss seeing me.

The reasons why I go to church are all good.

Recently my mother mentioned to me that my brother had stopped going to church.  Since his wife left him, a lot of the church members have succumbed to the poison of gossip. They have been complicit in spreading the lies.

So my brother stopped going to church because he didn’t feel welcomed there.

I haven’t prayed that he would go back. Why should he?

He grew up in that church with those people teaching him in Sunday school and DVBS. He was married in that church. He served that church in various roles. People in that church, more than any other people in the universe, should know the character of my brother.

He is a good man.

They should have never spread the lies without confronting him in meekness as it says in Galations 6:1. “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”

If they had confronted him then he could have told them the truth about his relationship with this “Other” woman. The fact is that he didn’t commit adultery but they have committed sins by using their words for evil instead of good. Ephesians 4:29  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Nonetheless, I still have tender feelings about my home church. So I considered praying that he would return there.

Then last Sunday the Massacre in Sutherland Springs happened and I realized that some people go to church for the wrong reasons. They go to church to exact vengeance on others.

I became thankful that my brother is not going to church at this time in his life. The people in that town need to seek truth instead of lies. They need to reach out to my brother with compassion and love.

Until they do this I hope he does not cross the threshold of that church. Because if it isn’t a place where he is loved and where he can worship God, it isn’t really a church anyhow.

MY BROTHER

I have posted recently about my brother’s wife leaving him. This event has upset the apple cart of my family of origin.

My brother is a farmer and his wife left him right before harvest. She was his grain cart driver and she was very good at that. I went with him last year on a combine run and I took note of how well she performed this task.

This year he had to hire this task out. His hired hand could only work until the end of this week. Problem is that my brother is not done with harvest.  So my brother-in-law, John, is coming to help him finish harvest.

It is such a relief to all of us that God has provided help for my brother through this time of hardship.

Yet, it is not the harvest which vexes my soul as much as how the little town I grew up in has responded to this hardship.

I am hearing all kinds of lies and rumors about my brother. My brother has been rumored to have had an adulterous affair, someone has lied and said he was the father of this other woman’s baby, the rumors have grown in their evil to include his massage therapist also.

I do not know who is spreading these rumors but they have hurt my brother so much that he doesn’t want to even go into town.

I know that some of the ones who have spread the lies have been church members of the church I grew up in. I have wanted to go back there and take over the pulpit and give those small town idiots a piece of my mind.

As I have been cooking for my brother to send him care packages I have been rehearsing my speech. I have been full of self-righteous indignation at the lunacy of those small minded people.

Then yesterday I was listening to Christian radio and the Turning Point sermon. The pastor quoted Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”

I had to check myself. I was not thinking about these gossip mongers with any bit of gentleness. I was willing to throw hell fire and brimstone at them on account of my brother. I wanted to wring their necks. What God wanted me to do is most likely to pray for them.

There is a reason why I moved away from this town. I am so thankful I am not within driving distance of it because I know I am not yet at the stage of “gentleness.”

I know my brother did not do wrong.  He only had lunch with this other woman but he should have always had his wife present. He did not engage in any physical intimacy with this woman. A sexual affair was out of the question.

My brother is having his divorce hearing this next Friday. I would like to ask for intercessory prayer for him. He is at risk of losing everything he has worked for all of his life.

There are few people in the world which I love as much as I love my brother. Even though he was three years older than me and a boy, as a little girl I knew one thing was certain. I would always be his protector because I was fearless and he always had so much fear.

I would also ask that you pray for me. To see him go through this much pain is torture for my heart. To lose a sister-in-law which I dearly loved is even worse than torture.

I am realizing that the path from heart break to gentleness may be a very long and tortured road.

HELPING THE HOMELESS

I have mentioned my friend, who is homeless, on my blog before. I met her at Starbucks where she offered to pray for me. This amazing child of God had nothing other than a tent in the woods and some clothes to wear.

Even more amazing was that she always prayed that God would bless me with prosperity. I have a house, a nice house, and a car. Here she was with so little less than what I had and she was asking for God to bless me with more. Her purity humbled me.

As I said, I have a house and she was homeless. I have guest rooms upstairs that are unoccupied. I kept asking God what he wanted me to do for her. There were several days I took her food. There were other days I took her Bible verses and prayed with her.

I kept hearing from God that she needed to go to a home that was backed by a church. I have a lovely church I go to but she has not attended that church. She was attending other churches.

I kept praying and receiving the same answer. Then I went to that Starbucks and she wasn’t there. I went again and asked around. No one knew where she was.

I had her phone number so I called her and she answered. She was living with a family who was backed by a church who ministered to Jewish people.  She was so excited to be in this home. When I met her at Starbucks she showed me a picture of the beautiful family she was staying with.

I am so thankful that I was obedient to God in this matter. If I had invited her into my home she would have never met the wonderful family she is staying with.

God knows my limits.  Although I love my family staying with me I don’t know if I would be so kind to others.

I am so thankful for the counsel of the Holy Spirit who guides and protects not only me but also my dear friend who used to be homeless.