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.

SISTER-IN-LAW

I mentioned yesterday that my brother was facing a divorce. I never really liked my sister-in-law. I didn’t think she liked me so I wasn’t going to waste the time on her.

Then one summer my brother and her decided to visit. I discovered on that trip that I liked my sister-in-law. I mean, I really liked her and may even go so far as to say that I loved her.

The more I opened up the door to a friendship with her, the more I began appreciating her. I knew that my family was not the easiest bunch of people to assimilate into and so I tried to make her feel as comfortable as possible when I was around her.

She was one of my dear friends.

Now that she is divorcing my brother it would be easy to jump over the fence into hate.

I have not made that jump. I still love her.

It is interesting to note that my mother never liked her and now my brother says that she is mentally unstable.

I listen to both of them but keep my opinions to myself.

My sister-in-law was temperamental but that is a far cry from mentally unstable.

She is also the mother of my two nieces. Every time I think about responding in an ugly manner to her, I think how it may affect my relationship with those two young women.

It is a tenuous path of discipline and self-control to sit on the side lines and see her hurt my brother but I have held my tongue when I wanted to lash out.

This morning in church I was reminded that we can grieve the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 4:29-32

“29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

This trial, which vexes my heart, I am sure also saddens God. It is important for me not to speak evil of others, even if they are doing what I consider an evil act.

It is my privilege as a Christian to keep leading those who are so beset by evil back onto the path of faith and love. Even if they don’t want to be on that path, I need to keep shining that light.

DISTRACTIONS

There are so many distractions that the world can lay in your path.

In the Bible it says, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things shall be added unto you.”

That is easy to do if your path is not fraught with the dangers of heart ache and heart-break. I find that when the devil seeks to destroy me and those I love, my mind becomes obsessed with the chaos that is left in his wake.

At the present, my life is wonderful and I AM focused on seeking God first. I have some issues to straighten out with certain people in my life which may result in some broken relationships. Yet, overall, my life is drama free.

Unfortunately, I can not say the same thing for my brother.

He is living in the town I grew up in. It is a very, very small town and is smaller yet, in its ability to abide by the Word of God.

It is not that people do not go to church in that town. They go as if addicted. There are five churches in that town for less than 1,000 people.  Most Sundays they flood the churches like fire ants at a picnic.

My brother is the only one of my siblings who stayed in that town. He is tending the farm which I grew up on. He married his high school sweetheart. Their marriage has lasted for thirty-five years. They have two grown daughters. One which has struggled with cancer.

I have always marveled that he could stay in that town and be happy. He was quite happy until his wife left him just a few weeks ago.

They had a big fight and he had been insensitive to her feelings. She walked out and moved in with her parents. This happened right after he had completed building her a fabulous mansion out in the country.

Then the lies started and gossip spread through that town like a wildfire.

My brother was accused of having an affair with another woman, even though all that they did was have lunch. My brother was never behind closed doors with this woman. He liked her as a friend and that is all.

That lie started the fuel for another lie. Soon the rumor was that my brother was having an affair with his physical therapist. Those idiots don’t even know the difference in therapists. He didn’t have a physical therapist. He only had a massage therapist and he certainly didn’t have an affair with her.

The divorce papers were served a couple of weeks ago.

Apparently Nebraska considers women to be much more important than what Texas does. His wife has filed for half of his net worth.

I actually had to pay my ex-husband in my divorce and I got no alimony and little child support. If I ever get married again it is going to be on another continent or Mars. I will never make that mistake in Texas again.

When you are a farmer, much of your net worth is tied up in the equipment. My brother went into horrible debt to build his wife their new mansion. He doesn’t have any net worth. He has only debt. So he will have to sell his equipment which will cause him to have to quit farming. On top of this, his wife is demanding alimony. Don’t know how he is going to do that if he can’t farm.

My concern is not for his finances. I fear he will not survive this ordeal. He has chronic health problems which are worse with stress.

My only hope is that somehow he can survive this ordeal. My other hope is that I can stop worrying about what this may do to my brother and my family. It is difficult to seek the Kingdom of God when the devil is attacking the brother you love with your whole heart. Very difficult indeed….

 

 

LONELY

Anyone who reads my blog may think I rarely have times when I feel lonely.

I live in a beautiful suburb of Fort Worth.

I have a darling daughter who has roomed with me for the past five years. She has transformed from a hostile and surly teenager into a beautiful and loving young woman whom I simply adore.

I have friends. Quite a few, in fact. I am on good terms with all of my neighbors. I have a good number of women who are my friends. I also have some guys who have become dear friends of mine.

Yet, just a few months ago I was crying our to God for more. There was a hunger that I had not quenched. It has been a hunger that has been raging in my soul for most of my life.

When reflecting on this, I believe that this hunger is tied to the calling on my life to minister to other women in Christ. This calling on my life is woven into my passion for Christian writing.

Yet, I have women friends, I am continuing to write posts on my blog, as well as completing my novel. So in some ways I am fulfilling my destiny but there was still a sadness within my heart.

I was missing something.

I had been going to a megachurch where the pastor was quite excellent. Yet, I felt invisible. Nobody knew me and no one cared about me.

I was searching for something more meaningful. I cried out to God to quench this sadness within me and He came to my rescue in the most wonderful way…

I have always been a nut about keeping slim. After menopause this became quite difficult. When I saw  a Cardio dance class that was starting up in my neighborhood I jumped in.

That is where I met my friend, Erin. She led the class. I really liked her.

One of the women in the class had asked if anyone knew of a church that they could recommend. Erin suggested that that we try out her church, “The Vibrant Church.”

Then Erin backed out of the Cardio dance class. She was struggling in her personal life with some issues which haunted her from her childhood.

I became concerned about her and I started going to her church because of my concern for her. In the mean time I was really starting to like the sermons.

Then my best friend, Kathy Raney, died. I decided to start volunteering in honor of her because she was always helping someone.

I began to enjoy serving in the church.

Then I got scheduled for vocal cord surgery. My friend from church, Lori Petty, ministered to me through that event as if she was an angel from God.

I realized the other day what I was looking for was not a second husband, not more girlfriends or guys who are friends but I was looking for fellowship.

I needed a church which cared about me as if I was their sister in Christ and I have found that now in the Vibrant Church.

VOCAL CORD SURGERY

On October 12th I had vocal cord surgery. My dear, sweet boyfriend was kind enough to take me into the hospital early in the morning. When I walked in the door at Harris Methodist Southlake Hospital it almost felt as if it was a vacation, the staff was so kind.

When I woke up my sweet friend from church, Lori Petty, picked me up from the hospital. ‘

My daughter had soup, croissants and a bouquet on my counter to welcome me home. She also wrote me a very sweet note.

I had so many friends who were praying for me and the vocal cord surgery. I was very humbled and grateful.

I could not talk at all for five days but on the fifth day I started. My voice was lower than it had been before in tone and I liked it a lot.

I made the mistake of using bad words for a bit and then caught myself. I had been forced to whisper for over a year due to this ailment and I thought I had learned to choose my words more carefully through this experience.

There were things that had happened recently that caused me to become frustrated with life. My brother’s marriage of 35 years fell apart at the seams. One of my best friends had passed away and I lost two dear pets whom I had loved.

When I get frustrated I can choose wrong words to vent my frustration. That does not do anything to solve the problems.

So I knew I had to get a grip.

Out of a need to divert my attention from all of the sadness that had enveloped my world I started watching the Netflix series, The Good Place. I became hooked and binge watched the whole first season.

In The Good Place, they are not allowed to use bad words so instead of saying “f…  you” they say, “fork you.” I though that was so cute and funny. Every bad word had an r inserted to transform the word, so that sh.. would turn into shirt and so on and so forth.

Yet, I realized I needed to choose other words entirely to get my point across, so as not to offend the Holy Spirit.

I remember running across a quote one day which said, “Profanity is a weak mind trying to make a strong point.”

I am trying very hard to use my new voice to honor God and I believe strengthening my mind in the process.

WORRY AND ANXIETY

I am usually a pretty laid back kind of gal. I don’t sweat the small stuff and pretty much everything is small stuff. However, I am having vocal cord surgery on the 12th of October and I must be honest. I am now the owner of worry and anxiety.

It shows up mostly in the mornings when I am laying in bed. I start thinking about the surgery.  My right vocal cord is paralyzed and so they have to open up my airway and inject a filler substance into my vocal cord.

No biggie, right?

Yeah, well you have the pathway to your lungs being messed with and see if you don’t freak out too.

My concern is not so much the actual surgery but my bodies response to the filler. I am highly allergic to most medications. My allergy list exceeds ten different medications and it is growing daily.

So, what may be a walk in the park for most people, may be a life threatening situation for me. If the filler causes my right vocal cord to swell too much then I have lost my airway. Kind of scary…

Now, I am all good with passing on. I don’t really think that this life is in any way better than a life with God in heaven but I have not finished my novel. I truly believe that is the main purpose for me being alive and I am very goal driven. The thought of not fulfilling my purpose for God is the most horrid thought.

So, all of these crazy thoughts were going through my mind the other day, when an unusual event occurred.

I was sitting at my desk, in my bedroom, and I kept feeling God nudge me.

I pushed Him aside, as if he was a love starved cat. He kept nudging me to look at the Bible verse calendar on my desk. I have three different ones and then another one on my wall but most days I don’t pay them much attention.

The Holy Spirit kept pestering me until I finally picked one of those desk calendars up and started leafing through it until my eyes found the one for October 7.

“I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefor my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body will also rest secure.” Psalm 16:8-9

I think I heard God sigh when I found that verse. I was so excited. To have a verse which I can claim over my body when going into surgery is just beyond belief the greatest assurance that He is in control.

In addition to this, I have so very many people who have said that they will pray for me. One sweet lady in my church even put it on her phone calendar. I can not tell you how thankful I am for all  of those prayers.

If you would like to pray for me I would welcome your prayers also.

I intend to blog a lot after the surgery because I have five days where I am not supposed to speak even one word. Kind of stoked about that too because it will give me time to write.

I am hoping I can talk normally after the surgery and I have always asked God to work on my singing voice because I am so off tune I could crack glass.

Who knows? Maybe I will not only be able to talk again but have a voice which is pleasing to the ears when I sing. Hoping, hoping. hoping….

A NEW CHURCH

I have gone to a mega church on and off for the past few years. I actually don’t think that mega churches are biblical. I think when you reach a certain stage in church growth you should split off and start a new church.

It wasn’t that the pastor wasn’t good. He was amazing.

It wasn’t that he didn’t use the Bible as his source for preaching. He consistently stuck to the Bible as a foundation for his sermons.

It was that I missed the intimacy that I need from a church.  No one knew me. They didn’t care about whether I went or not. I could stay home and watch the sermon from my bedroom and no one would even know I hadn’t attended that Sunday.

So, when my friend, Erin, mentioned the church she was going to, I decided to attend.

I liked it a lot at first. The pastor was Bible based in his preaching. He throws out awesome quotes like candy at a parade. I take notes like crazy because I don’t want to miss one nugget of wisdom.

The pastor’s wife is amazing also. She is so sweet and her eyes sparkle with the joy of the Lord when she sees me.

But I didn’t know if I really wanted to get involved. I mean that would be a whole nother step you know?

But at least I could attend the Vision class. I felt it was always good to know the mission statement of the church and all of that kind of stuff.

So I attended. Lord, I not only attended, I also volunteered. I signed up for the coffee team, the prayer team and the meal chain.

What on earth had happened to me? I had always been fairly good at not getting too involved in things.

Lord almighty, it seemed like I dove in the deep end of the pool with no life jacket.

The first Sunday I was supposed to help set up the coffee table was the same day as the Celebration of Life service for my dear friend who passed away. I figured I could say “No, sorry. I have that afternoon reserved. (Yes, I know church is in the morning)

The problem with that is that my friend who died would have probably shot down from heaven and slapped me across the face with a good dose of reality. Of all my friends she was the one who always was offering to help others. She would be pleased as punch if I was helping my church on the same day I went to honor her.

However, I did show up late and the coffee table was already set up. However, Erin was nice enough to show me the ropes for next time.

Next time came soon. It was yesterday and I got some wonderful instruction as to how to set up the coffee table. We have to set up and take down because we are currently meeting in a warehouse. So I set up, then we had the service and after the service I took it down with some help from others.

As soon as  my coffee table put away. I looked around for other things to do. I spotted a little boy who had caught my eye earlier.

His Dad was busy putting the sound equipment away and his mother was working.I was a bit worried that he would get hurt running around.  So, I scooped him up and sat on a chair so that he would be out-of-the-way. He was such a little sweetheart. I made sure that we were within eyesight of his Dad so that the little chap wouldn’t be scared.

His Dad thanked me profusely, as I gave the precious child back to him. . My goodness, I felt like thanking the Dad because it is not often that I get to hold such a sweet child in my arms.

As I left church yesterday morning, I left with a grateful heart.

So thankful that I can worship in this great country according to the belief system I have chosen. Grateful that I have found a small, Bible based church. In addition, I have found a joy in serving that I didn’t even know was there.

I have reflected on this church many times since I first attended and it always brings a smile to my lips. I realize that I liked it a lot at first but it is more than that now.  I am beginning to love this body of Christ as I believe Christ would yearn for me to.

WORKING ON A SABBATH

I had agreed to work on Saturday but I really wanted to be off on the Sabbath. I had to help out at church and go to a Celebration of Life service for my best friend. It was only one appointment and the patient was one of my favorites but I really didn’t want to work on the Sabbath.  I had made this very clear to my scheduler. There should have been no confusion.

I opened up my schedule on Friday night and there she was, scheduled for that Sunday. The very day I had asked off. I was enraged. I threw off the cloak of righteousness that Christ has given me and rummaged through my closet for my Diva robe. I put on my Diva robe and tied the sash tight. I was going to give that scheduler a piece of my mind.

The only problem is…

I can only whisper due to my vocal cord problem. It is very difficult to get enraged when you do it at a fraction of the decibel that most rage entails.

So, I went to sleep instead.

On Saturday I was going out the door to see my patient when I felt a tug on my Diva robe. That tug was the Holy Spirit. Then the Holy Spirit brought to mind James 1:20, which is one of the verses I have hidden in my heart.

The thoughts in my mind proceeded to tear at the sash of my Diva robe.

“It wouldn’t kill you to do that visit tomorrow. You know the scheduler has had added responsibilities put on her plate. She not only works during the week but takes call every single day so that you don’t have to. She is also taking care of her mother who is very sick. Furthermore, this is the only company that has ever given you weekends off. So, what is the big deal?”

I felt the Diva robe slipping from my shoulders and landing in a puddle at my feet. “Ok, I will call her and tell her I can do it.”

I called her and told her that I noticed that that visit was still on my schedule for Sunday. She started making excuses. I told her that was ok, I would do the visit. I would just have to do it in the evening when I was done with the memorial service for my friend. She was so grateful. As I was doing so, I could feel the robe of righteousness covering my shoulders with grace.

James 1:20 “For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness which God so desires.”