Joy in the journey!

Joy in the journey!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The day two father's came to my rescue

I will never forget the day, I was in the floor sobbing. I was a teenager and just feeling completely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed was an understatement. My self esteem was at an all time low, and I was angry. In all my anger and hurt, sitting there in the floor having a melt down.... the door opened and there he was, my precious Dad. He sat in the floor with me, scooped me up in his arms, and cried with me. He cried and he prayed. He didn’t know what to say in my fit of rage, so he just loved me and sat there with me asking Jesus to wrap His arms around me too. I remember he sat there for hours praying for me, and I will never forget how his lips quivered as He tried to stop the tears and hold back the hurt from his face so I couldn’t see just how deeply he was hurting, because I was hurting. That day was a turning point for me. I had two Father’s running to my rescue that day, and my earthly Father was there to exemplify my Heavenly Father’s love. My Dad’s arms were the extension of my Heavenly Father’s arms. Jesus knew I needed those arms so deeply on that day, and my earthly Father was there to cover.

From the day I was born, my Father has loved me with a love I really cannot describe. The older I get the more I realize how rare a Father’s love like his truly is. I have had many people ask me what it was that catapulted me into such a close relationship to Jesus. In fact I was asked this question a few days ago. I can quickly answer that question without hesitation whatsoever. It was because I had an earthly Father who adored Jesus, adored His family, and loved me so deeply, it made it so easy to see how much my heavenly Father could love me. The role my Father has played in my life goes so much further than just being a “Dad”. His example to me drew me to Jesus. His love and prayers throughout my life are the reason I know I adore my heavenly Father.

My Dad has been through the darkest of times with me. He never, and I mean never wavered in his love and support. When most Dad’s would have fled from the scene, He only loved deeper, and trusted God more. He is one of the most humble men I have ever met. Integrity defines every part of who he is. When I was left to face life alone as a single Mom years ago with a newborn baby and a 2 year old, my father stepped in and prayed and loved my kids and took on the role to guide them. To this day, my kids have the most precious relationship with Jesus and I know my Dad was key in that path of their lives. The same love and guidance I received....they received as well. They to this day remember so vividly memories of doing things together and how Dad would talk with them about the Lord. I remember seeing Dad hold my kids just like he held me when I was young. I am forever in awe of his love.

One of the most important gifts my dad has given me is his adoration for my mother. He utterly adores the ground she walks on. He has never spoken a cross word to her, and in all my life they have never argued. His affection for her to this day blesses me more than words can convey. I remember his hugs and love pats and sweet words of affection to her growing up. I remember the security I felt knowing they would always be together. Their love for each other really is undefinable. It’s so deep. Seeing this love for her helped me not give up when my dreams of marriage were shattered. He taught me to hang on! God had a beautiful plan for my life. God would not leave me and these kids alone and forsake the dream He had placed in my heart. And through his prayers and encouragement....I indeed met and married the man of my dreams. Almost 10 years now I can not believe I could love a man so deeply. He adores my children and together with our beautifully blended family....I once again, know I could not have reached this place without my father.

Dad, if you are reading this I cannot thank you enough. Because of you I didn’t give up. That day you held me in your arms when I wanted to give up....changed me in ways you never knew about. You have always thought I was beautiful, even when I didn’t. You have always believed in me, even when I didn’t. You have walked a very painful journey with me through Mom’s cancer the past 2 years, and we grew even closer. The harder life hits you, the closer you get to Jesus. Thank you. Thank you for giving me the most precious gift you could ever have given me. You gave me Jesus.

I have a Godly heritage, I have a wonderful legacy, I have Godly favor on my life because of the life you have led with Mom. The Godly choices you made, and the example you set have laid a path for me and my family that I am forever grateful for.

No matter how old I get I will always love hearing “Hellooo Sweeeeets” when I walk through the door! Oh, and the hilarious animal sounds you make every time you see any type of animal. If it’s a mooo or a bark or meow....or even a’s just such a great memory! (and you don’t even know you do it!) I bet you are doing it now reading this!

I love you Dad....thank you for making my life wonderful! Someone said to me the other day....You are so much like your Dad, Lisa. That was the hugest compliment I have ever received. Thank you.

Happy Father’s Day Dad.....I could not be more proud of who you are and to be your daughter!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wrestling With Worry.....God Wins!

“Mom, they took everything! They took all my computers, cameras, guitars, books....everything.” I remember the sound of silence and me gasping for a breath when he gave me the news. Jordan was about to go back to school in Nashville after his spring break. That is until he got the news from his roommate that they had been robbed. They took everything, even the vacuum cleaner. OK, this was not in my plan. I began to take on the worry of it all, and try and figure it all out on my own. My son had the right idea. He went upstairs and he prayed. I should be doing that! As I walked around the room, (pacing is more like it) just asking God what to do, I heard Him say as He always does in that still small voice, “Lisa, don’t worry.” Don’t worry? Me? Oh I wasn’t worrying! I was trying to figure out a plan! Really? Nope, I was smack dab in worry world. My husband and I prayed together, and I was determined I would walk in peace through this journey. I had walked through big things this year, hurdled some pretty big hurdles..... but what made this journey different is that it touched my child! I think as a Mom we can all agree, when it touches your child, it puts it on a whole new playing field you know? And boy was my trust in God put to the test! “Lisa, don’t worry.”

You know what I learned through this journey? That peace is faith resting. Faith in a God who does not make mistakes, and who has this whole world in His hands, including my worried world. It releases me to laugh in the darkness, and dance in rain. It makes a way when there doesn't seem to be one. Peace is faith resting in the fact that God will carry this worry for me. Faith counts on it. It is my soul saying “Jesus I will trust you and I will not be afraid” (Isaiah 22:2) Though the mountains fall down and my world disintegrates, I won’t fall down and disintegrate, for I am banking on a God who is my refuge and strength, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalms 46:1,2; 19:14)

Resting is hard for me. Anyone who knows me knows this. I want to be up and doing something all the time. But through many events this year, including my surgeries and health issues, God has taught me to rest. Not just physically but spiritually. It’s a mindset, and I had to learn how to walk in that mindset of rest. Walking in rest, wow! God’s work is to provide His serenity in the midst of the storm, my work is to stop trying to manufacture it myself and to be at rest!

I learned that prayer was the beginning of rest. Have you ever asked the question....“But how can I pray when I am worried?” I have! Prayer is simply verbalizing your worries to God. I have learned this year that instead of worrying...pray. Prayer combats worry by building trust. What I see in my life is that sometimes prayer changes things, but most times, prayer changes me. Many times God does not answer the prayers like I would like. He has a different plan, a much better plan. I have learned that prayer is much more than specific requests I make of the Lord, it’s just being with God, enjoying Him, and absorbing His will for me. It’s not just something I do, it’s somewhere I go to experience the presence of God. I have learned about that lesson this year more than ever. It’s always in that presence that my perspectives change and rest becomes so much easier in His arms. I stop the struggle, and I rest. It is at that point I can put even the hardest things for me to release, like my children, in His arms... knowing He will cover them far better than I ever could. It is my job to release them into those loving arms. He will not let me down.

Phil 4:6 talks about praying about our worries with thanksgiving; “In every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Now what does He mean by that? Thank God for worries? No. Thank God for who He is in the midst of the worries. Thank God for His strong eternal shoulders that are perfectly capable of carrying all the burdens of worry in the world.....mine and yours included!

It’s been 3 months since we got that bad news about Jordan’s apartment. And it has been 3 months of daily miracles. The enemy tried to steal, God restored. There were times we didn’t understand why, but we are seeing things more clearly. I know that as we look back years from now, we will see the whole picture even more clearly. God is bigger! I have learned so much through this journey with Jordan. I have learned to trust God with my children in a deeper way. It’s such a wonderful thing knowing that God not only carries us, but has our back! Though the enemy comes in like a flood.....God’s boat is bigger! It may be tempting to take a swim out there in the sea of worry, but I think I’ll stay in the boat, and enjoy the ride. Amazing what you will find in that boat! It’s a wonderful worry free ride! Let’s go!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Heavenly Interruptions

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head and it played and played over in your mind throughout the day? Well yesterday I was singing “raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens....brown paper packages tied up with string".....and you know the rest. Yes, Julie Andrews and the Von Trapp family were filling my mind with the song about “favorite things.” I don’t know why it was in my mind, but it made me start thinking about my favorite things. What put a smile on my face? What brought me delight?

Depending on what season of life you are in, your source of delight may vary. “Delight” simply describes something that provokes in you a pleasurable emotion, a sense of deep enjoyment or a high degree of satisfaction. Daily delights are all around us, if we only look. We many times forget that God will use what we take delight in to accomplish His will.

I was talking with a lady not long ago who felt she could only hear God’s voice in the desert, in the dark times. She struggled to hear Him on her day to day journey. At times she felt like He was not even there. She was feeling so discouraged.

Many people assume that an encounter with God can only be experienced through pain and suffering. But there is good news! While trials do teach Christians a great deal, they are not the only catalysts God uses to accomplish His will in our lives! If I have learned nothing else in these past 3 years of walking through my Mother’s cancer journey and through my own health journey it is that God can be found in a valley or on a mountaintop, and every place in between.

One of my favorite verses is Psalm 37:4. It reveals that the Lord speaks as powerfully through pleasure as He does through pain. I am learning to not make the mistake of only listening for God’s voice when disaster hits, or finally reaching out for His hand when there is no place else to turn. Instead I am realizing more than ever that God’s still small voice is in the midst of my daily duties and I have learned to sense His holy presence in places I routinely visit. I have learned to not only be open to God’s surprises but also ready and eager to embrace them. When King David said, “Delight yourself in the Lord,” the object of David’s delight was not a thing: it was the Lord. Learning to delight in the Lord is the completion of the first step toward walking in those holy moments.

Did you know that the bible uses the word “delight” more than 60 times in reference to the Lord? Most of the instances are associated with obeying God’s laws, following His commands, rejoicing in His testimonies. I want to walk in that obedience. I also have realized more than ever that another thing God delights in is prayer. (Prov. 15:8) God has answered some big prayers of mine this year. And I am realizing that those answered prayers are holy moments I often fail to recognize. Has God answered any of your prayers? Then you have already experienced a holy moment of your own as well! As you make prayer a part of your life, don’t forget to be on the lookout for God’s extraordinary response.

It’s easy to find evidence of God in the midst of extraordinary circumstances. It’s not so easy to detect Him during the ordinary events in our lives. And isn’t that where we are most of the the daily ordinary routine of life? We live in the “normal” daily routine where God’s voice many times echos somewhere off in the distance, not thundering from the mountain peaks. That is exactly the reason we need to be sensitive to His quiet voice and gentle leading, to those holy moments we often overlook as we rush madly through our daily routines. God longs to intersect our paths with His heavenly interruptions.

I hope as you go through your normal routine today, that you find many holy moments, and many heavenly interruptions. Look for them! They can show up in the most surprising ways. Enjoy those interruptions! God’s hand prints are all over them, and He delights in sending them your way. He’s already there waiting for you!

Isaiah 65:24 “I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will answer their prayers!”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The eyes truly are the window to a soul...what's in your window?

As I stepped out of the van, I was immediately pulled out by one of the helpers to come down to the basement where they housed the food pantry for the homeless. "It was an emergency", he said, and my arm was the first one he grabbed to help. What was going on? I was in the middle of our Music Ministry Tour with my ORU Music team many years ago. and we were ministering in the Bronx, NY. It was in the worst part of town, and we would be there for a few days. Little did I know God was about to put the Bronx forever in my heart. Things were about to change, really fast!

As I was taken downstairs, the staff director said to me, “she’s been beaten again, this time with a baseball bat. She was hit so hard, they found the bat broken in two pieces. We don’t know how long or if she will even make it. The E.R. probably won't come because this happens weekly to her. She was homeless. Just stay with her OK?” OK? What was I walking into? Why was I the one chosen? God...HELP!

It was all a blur until I saw her. There she was on the floor in the fetal position, blood everywhere, so thin, so frail, her hair falling out, some of her nails missing, bruises everywhere. She was bleeding internally. I could not even find a patch of skin that was not purple. I remember uttering out loud, but my voice not making it out....”Oh Jesus, I need you....oh how I need you.” Immediately a warm rush flooded my body and I knew the Holy Spirit was right there with me. I instantly felt calm. That empty cold basement with one chair that was now filled with just me and this precious woman....was instantly filled with His presence. I picked her up, and put her in my arms. I sat in the creaking rocking chair with her, and I rocked. I found out later her name was Sarah. She was not conscious. Where were the people? Where was the help? Why wouldn’t they help her? I didn’t know the answers, I didn’t need to. God knew. So I just rocked. That picture to this day is forever etched into my mind and heart.

What was I supposed to do now? I heard the Lord whisper in my heart. “Sing over her, pray over her, love her with your heart, let me do the rest.” Your eyes are the window to your soul, and she will see.” How could she see? She was unconscious!

So I sang. I sang Jesus Loves Me, I sang songs my Grandma and Mom would sing over me when I was hurting, I sang songs we were singing on this tour, I sang about heaven, I sang about healing. I sang prayers of healing over her. I just sang. At one point I thought she had passed away, but I saw her little finger move. I kept singing. As I sang I felt a presence of the Lord like never before. He was there in that room, helping me hold on for this dear lady. She may not have mattered to anyone, she may not have had family, she may have been homeless for years and had nobody, but she mattered to Jesus. She mattered so much to Him that He was holding her in His arms, and God chose me to be those arms for Him.... and He was holding me as I held onto her! After 4 hours of singing, and what little voice I had left....still singing...I saw her eyelashes flutter. I saw a deep purple in her body which they said was internal bleeding, begin to lighten. I felt her skin begin to change temperature. I sang and I prayed “Oh Jesus! please heal her, please give her purpose, please be her Savior and save her!” To this day I don’t think I have cried out like that ever. It was pure desperation! God knew. God heard. She ever so gently reached over and grabbed my finger. She squeezed it with a gentle squeeze. It was like she was holding on with whatever bit of life she had left. Would I be the last person she would see? I just held and kept singing, wiping my own tears at this point.

I missed the concert that night. I was in the basement holding this sweet lady. My songs on this night would be sung to one, not hundreds. After 4 more hours, her eyes opened. They were crystal blue. I remember through all the broken blood vessels, that beautiful blue. They looked up at me and there it was. A beautiful smile! She was missing most of her teeth, but it was the most beautiful smile I’d ever seen. For the next hour she watched me as I sang, I never talked to her....I just sang. At one point I stopped, just looked into her eyes, and asked the Lord to speak everything He wanted her to hear, through my eyes, not saying a word. It was the only way I could communicate to her at that moment.....He answered.

There was a knock on the door, and an E.R. tech was there. He was expecting to come to pick up her body. By then, her color was pink, her eyes were clearing, and she was sitting up drinking some water. All I remember was the look on his face of sheer shock, and him uttering the words....”are you kidding?” Nope, I was not kidding, and neither was the Lord. He took this very seriously.

In fact He took it so seriously that a precious family in the church took this lady in. They paid for her medical bills and took her to the hospital. They were so touched by the miracle of her life, and her story and knew God had plans for her. I will never forget this family ever. Angels sent from heaven, and answers to my prayers for this lady. Before we left for our next stop, the family found me and had news to share. They told me that when they began talking with Sarah after she became completely conscious, they asked her what she needed or wanted. Her reply was “I want what the lady singing to me had in her eyes.” The family told me they prayed over her, and she accepted the Lord that day. They said it was a precious time. As they told me this story, I fell to my knees, literally. I began to sob. I didn’t even have words. What a mighty God I served! I just cried and hugged this family. I was so thankful for them.

I lost touch with that family but the last communication I had with them, Sarah was doing great! She was regaining her health. She was involved in a support group at the church that helped battered women and she loved singing in the choir. They said Sarah’s passion was to sing! She glowed when she sang. They said that singing gave her purpose. Sarah found her purpose! She was a praiser! Oh I knew God had big plans for Sarah. I write about this story with tears streaming down my face. Sarah changed my life that day I held her in my arms. I learned that we hold heaven in our eyes, we hold healing in our spirit, we hold life in the darkness when we can’t say a word at all. God uses it all, and makes miracles happen even when there are no words involved.

I have learned that some of the most life changing speeches, have no words at all. They can touch the untouchable, reach the unreachable, love the unlovable....they can touch a hurting world for Him.

There was a song that we sung on tour called “Heaven in Your Eyes” by Jeremy Dalton. It was a duet that I sang with my dear friend on tour. From that day on, I could never get through the song without getting choked up. The words became a reality to me the day I held Sarah in my arms. I would never be the same.

We are mirrors.....what do we reflect? What shines out when we look at those who are hurting. Do we have heaven to offer? When others look at us, what will they find? We can change the world without saying a word. We can live out loud and not utter a sound. How very true it is......

Love never fails. Never. Just ask Sarah.