Give freely, or…..be disappointed

What were you teaching me, Lord, when you brought me into an encounter with a woman in need?

She had hoped to be offered a ten, perhaps, if I were generous, a twenty and I would be on my way, so she could be on her way.

She wasn’t prepared to be offered to shop together! How dare I intrude upon her own personal choices with the money she would receive. The handout. The unearned gift.

But she gazed into my eyes, a brief moment of hesitancy, before she said, “Yes! Thank you.”

I didn’t think I had any expectations. I had no idea what she would choose to buy, or how much. I was totally open to whatever she put in the basket. The family sized lasagna, the day old French bread, the six pack of Root Beer, and the dozen and a half eggs.food-shopping

Willingly I paid. Returned the bags to the cart and hugged her. We each said we would pray for one another. Her pastor and she would pray for me, she said. I told her God bless you and walked away. No strings. No expectations for a return……..or was there?

Why did my stomach churn when I saw her moments later walk over to the Starbucks and order a tall cold drink? Why did I watch her from a distance as she studied the many packages of fresh coffee on the shelves? Was I stunned that she would have enough pocket change to purchase a drink normally above her means? Did I feel I had been taken advantage of? Conned? Did she really have a twenty in her purse to spend on dinner for her grandkids?

Father, I pray, examine my heart. My own motives. I guess I had some strings hanging on to my debit card. She was supposed to walk out to a bus or a beaten up old car, get in and feed her grandchildren with what I had purchased for her and be grateful!

Forgive me, Lord, for holding on to preconceived notions that the poor were penniless. That when someone asked me for a handout they were supposed to be grateful! Forgive me, Lord, for being ungrateful to you! You, who gave completely all that you had for my life whether I thanked you or not!

There were no strings on that cross! No preconceived expectations! You gave freely. Oh, Father, may I grasp what You did for me and why. You gave. Out of love. For me. You ask only that I love you and revere You as my Lord and then to love my neighbor as you love me. No strings. No expectations. No worries. Freely I give. Lesson learned. For today.  God bless Yolanda and her grandchildren.

“Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. And do not pass judgment and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you shall not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For whatever measure you deal out to others, it will be dealt to you in return.” Luke 6:36-38

“I have him,” He said to me

 

Have you ever experienced a perfect day yet felt some sort of unknown angst in your spirit and you didn’t exactly know why?

Today was one of those days. The weather forecasted light rain coming in from the Gulf off and on all day. Navy clouds hovered over east beach early this morning but by 8:00 they had dissipated and the sky was soft blue with puffy clouds over us all day. The wind blew in from the east; something that had not happened nearly all summer. One of the ladies I met at the star gazing party a couple of weeks ago said when the wind blows in from the east the fishing is the best.

My husband  and I headed out to the beach this morning rather late for us; he on a walk, and I on the mountain bike. I was going to try to go further on the sand on this bike and I did! I learned that cycling closer to the surf was better; the sand was packed down much harder than the lighter sand closer to the dunes. It was a great ride.

My son called to say hello shortly after I returned from the bike ride. Seems he is frustrated at his job, the one that was practically handed to him from above back in mid January. But no one even says hello to me, he complained. Remember how hard it was to get work the first time, I reminded him. He was now considering how great it would to travel as a missionary for eleven months in eleven countries. Well, I said, it’s grueling hard stuff too. And not everyone likes what you have to say, the weather and terrain can be mean and nasty and yes, you have to raise your own support and it’s hard work. I kept thinking, he has such great ideas, but not always willing to work at making it happen. When it becomes hard, well, I’m done he seems to have a habit of saying.  Later in the afternoon, I saw his Facebook post: “Today is my last day.” That’s exactly when the angst hit me.

As we began digging the four holes at the back of our beach home property for the crepe myrtles my husband and I found on sale for 5 bucks a piece at Lowe’s, I just couldn’t shake the uneasiness. How good you are to Beloved and me, God, I kept thinking. Why don’t I have some peace about it? And then I asked Jesus, “Help me know your peace.”hand-on-shoulder He did. He told me down deep in my spirit, “I have Joe.” And then, I sensed such a relief. His hand was on my shoulder, comforting me. I knew then, as I had not really cared to know down deep before. I owned it now, the reality  that He, Jesus,  has my son. There’s only one thing I, the Mom,  can do for him. Have been doing for him. Praying for him. Lifting him up in prayer nearly all day. Even before I saw that post.

I have this, Jesus says. I have your son. I, the Lord, have you. I have your burdens. I have it all. So you can rest in me. Only me. Right now. My son has chosen to hang on to his job and continue to learn, focus, and be content where he is. Learning process.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

 

Choosing the Best over the Good

two-women-talking

As Susan opened her door for me to come in, she sighed and said, “Aren’t we just so crazy?” She laughed and we hugged. I went in to her den and found the two white poster boards in which she had penned the words to Hebrews 11:6 so beautifully in royal blue. Large. Legible. One for each team.  The children will easily see and memorize. “Oh, Susan, this is perfect! Thank you!” I exclaimed. As I picked them up she and I began to laugh about how utterly overflowing our plates were. Wasn’t summer a time for relaxing, we both wondered.  She, being tugged to Oklahoma to be with her working husband on weekends; her many grandchildren, whom she cherishes beyond words, off and on with her nearly all summer with their activities; and now, she is taking on presenting the Gospel in Summer Good News Clubs at an apartment complex and the YMCA one hour each per week for six weeks. And don’t forget VBS. And “cousins’ camp.” And…….on and on. I looked at her as she began to apologize for not being at the first Good News Club because her husband needed her with him this week.

“Wait,” I said, looking into her lovely burdened eyes. “Your husband is far more important than this Good News Club! Our marriages are what God instituted first. The church came next. We have plenty of leaders. You go with no guilt. He wants you. Needs you. Go be with him.”  She looked at me and smiled. “You’re right, Dianne. So right. What I do for and with my husband is speaking volumes to my grand children. They are watching and if they see that busy church work is more important to me than their granddaddy, then I’ve really made marriage look less important and greatly dishonoring to God.”  We looked at one another somberly. I understood her struggle to please her husband and yet to do busy gospel work. My husband and I had just purchased a beach home, something we each couple-in-galvestondesired to do some day in the future. Now the future was present. And we were planning to spend some weekends there fixing it up as well as relaxing together. Yet, I was the one who brought Child Evangelism Fellowship to the attention of our Missions Pastor a few months ago. My fault! I was in all the way this summer. No wonder my neck was stiff and my head throbbed. But, I also knew the huge importance of my being with my husband. He is my covenant partner for life. My man. I’m his only one. There are others to fill the shoes of sharing the gospel for awhile. But to show the world that doing church work at the expense of being with my husband these few weekends in the summer is truly slamming the whole idea of what Christians preach about marriage being so paramount in God’s eyes. Well, it IS paramount. It is the picture of a relationship between a man and a woman, fully committed to one another as God is committed to His people. His people to love and obey Him.

Susan and I also knew that on the other side of the coin, our men had given each of us a lot of room to go and do all year; mentoring school age children, greeting folks on Sunday mornings, teaching Vacation Bible School, presenting the Gospel once a week in the local elementary school. We were not shunning church work totally. We were struggling to live in balance. My husband has his competitive pool league. I have my young mom’s group. We have separate interests. We also serve together when our friends or family have needs. We come together when needed. Our men need us now. So we go. No guilt. We pray for others in the church community to come along side us and fill in when needed. We come together and help one another out and to lift up those whose husbands have called us wives to be with them. It is a huge witness to the world who sees marriage as less than important in the culture, both in the evangelical community as well as the world in general. We cannot let that happen. Oh, Father, help all of us to see how much you desire us to hold tight to our covenant marriage and treat one another with Godly respect and to be that picture of His love for us. “Marriage should be honored by all.” Hebrews 13:4

Come as a child

The disciples were regular men like men are today. Full of themselves. Did I say that? Yep. Here they were in the area of Capernaum,  three of them having just witnessed the mountain top experience of the Transfiguration;  the others down below not able to heal the man’s son because of their unbelief, and when they finally got alone with Jesus they asked Him, “Jesus, who will be the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?” Not too full of themselves, right? Boy, did they have a pride issue! Pride was exactly what got the angels who sinned out of heaven!

Jesus, calmly went over and sat among the people and called out to a child who was nearby and asked him to come to Him. He gathered him in His arms, smiled at the child with those “I love you” eyes, and then looked up at his disciples and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3-4). Unless you are converted or changed; turned around; repentant. I like what a pastor said once about the word “repentant.” – Rethink. Rethink the direction you are headed.Jesus with a child

Jesus chose to use a child to help his self-centered disciples get the point. We aren’t to be childish as the disciples who quarreled over who would be the greatest, but rather child-like. Humble with a sincere heart.  Jesus also took a child, who, in those days, had no rights according to the Law, and stood him in front of Him and told not only His disciples but those all around him, that greatness in the kingdom is not based on works or words, but on a childlike humility of spirit.

 

Children. Young. Innocent. Full of wonder and excited about life around them. Also they are teachable; complete sponges. What did Jesus mean? Jesus takes those who come  with total abandon. Unconditional love and trust; humble and simple faith, forgiving, gentle and kind.

But isn’t it like all of us who want to be known and  have some notoriety even among other Believers? But over and over Jesus demonstrated as well as used His words to convey to these men that to be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven was to be a servant. To be unknown. To be humble of heart and spirit. He must increase, John the Baptist said, and I must decrease. (John 3:30).

What does that look like in the everydayness of our lives?  I come as a child in abandoning my failures, my inhibitions, my fears and toss them all to Him and then experience His gentle hand upon my shoulder when I have taken back my angst over my searching son and hear Him say, “I have your son.” And resting in His promises that He does! He really has my son, so that I can truly experience the joy He promised. “I came,” He said,” to give you life and to have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). It means watching to see where my guest sits at the round tables at Bible Study and sitting with her, even though I had wanted to sit up front so I could see. It means taking a meal, or praying for the mom who is in front of me  in line at Wal-Mart, struggling with two busy, tired kids at the end of the day.Maybe even give her an understanding “I’ve been there, too” smile.  It means……you know what it means. Stepping back and giving someone else their due. It means closing your mouth before you say something saucy. woman lifting up hands two

It also means that it starts all over again the next morning. That coming to Jesus, opening up your arms and giving it ALL. All to Him. Surrendering. It means asking Him to be real in all those moments and putting yourself aside. Your pride. Your self-centeredness. Let’s face it, Girlfriends (who are generally the ones who read this blog). We are just like those disciples who asked Jesus who was going to be the greatest. We are.  Take some time today and ask Jesus to convert you. Rethink those places where pride is lurking and give it to Him so you can truly experience His presence. His joy. Because you’ve chosen to come as a child. Humble. Simple faith. Totally trusting. Unconditional love.

Now may you…..Go out with His joy and be led forth in peace. Isaiah 55:12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Providence

Early Monday morning I had to be up and out the door and a forty-five minute drive over to Mother’s by 6:30 to take her to an 8:00 doctor’s appointment downtown at M.D. Anderson Hospital. I was worn out from a weekend of emotional pain since our younger teen-aged son had had a falling out with his dad and had run away from home. But when your mother needs you, you suck it up and plunge right through. She needed me now and I had no idea how to help my son at this time anyway.

When I arrived at Mom and Dad’s home I found her still in bed with much pain in her stomach. She could hardly move and she was white as a sheet. “Mom, I need to call a nurse for you,” I said when I saw her. “I don’t think I can get you to the doctor.” When I talked to the doctor’s office so very early in the morning, they simply said to bring her in. Mother had had a complete hysterectomy due to uterine cancer just the week before and had only been home over the weekend. This scheduled visit to the doctor was supposed to be a routine follow-up. The whole family had been praying and was expecting her to be home by now and recovering

Painfully she walked to the car and got in and we drove as quickly as we could through early morning rush hour traffic all the way down town to the Medical Center. She was alert enough to give me directions from her home or we would still be driving all over the area trying to find the parking garage. Wheel chairs were parked there in the parking garage for those who needed one and this time we certainly did. I wheeled her to the doctor’s office. While she was in the back in the examining room with the nurse, I tried to make an appointment with a Christian Family Counselor for me. I was such an emotional wreck over the choices my teenage son was making that I could barely go on. My mind was with Mom. My heart was with my lost son. My body was wrenching with pain. How does one manage in two places at once? They don’t. Not well at all.

Once the nurse saw Mom, and how very pale and in pain she was in, they instructed me to take her to the ER right away.  I was told how to take her directly across the street by way of the Sky Bridge, so off we went. All of a sudden my phone went off as I was pushing Mom as fast as my tired body would go. “Hello?”

“Hi Dianne! This is Jay. How is your mother? Isn’t she home from the hospital?”

“Jay, I am taking her to the ER right this very minute and can’t talk right now. Love you. Thanks for calling. Bye.” I hung up on one of Dad’s beloved nephews living in Virginia before I spilled my guts and collapsed right there on the walkway with Mother in dire pain.

Once in the waiting room of the ER at M.D. Anderson, I looked around and already at 9:00 a.m. the waiting room was full. Packed. Mother won’t last through this wait, I thought, anxiously. She’s hardly even alert anymore and she’s in such pain! All of a sudden I saw the most beautiful angelic face looking at me from across the way in the waiting room. She was pale, wearing a most darling red cap and bright red lipstick that accentuated her radiant smile.

“Hi Dianne. I’m Medrith Peacock, your mother’s friend.”

“Oh, Mrs. Peacock, I know you! You are beautiful today!” I exclaimed.

“Your mom doesn’t look too well. I surely hope they take care of her quick. I will pray for her.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Peacock and I will pray for you.” I was dying to get up and go over and give her a hug. But I was so fragile. I was so afraid of spilling my heart out to her. She needed comforting herself! She didn’t need to hear my sad story!

A few minutes later a male attendant came up, took Mother’s blood pressure and immediately got her into a room down the hall and suddenly nurses were all around her bed poking her and putting in an IV. I just stood there. I had no idea how to help her but to be with her.

Several hours later – long into the night my phone rang and it was my husband, Bill. “When are you coming home?” he asked me. He seemed so very far away.

“I don’t know,” I said, still trying hard to hold it all together. “They’re going to take her downstairs to do a test – a CAT scan, I think, and I need to be with her. Are you home?”

“ No.”  He hesitated. “I’m headed to the jail. Joe’s been arrested.”

I didn’t think my heart could sink any lower. I nearly collapsed on to the floor of that little room. “What happened?” The tears just pushed through. They had been ready to roll for such a long time.

“I’ll explain when I get home.  I’m going to bail him out. Come on home when you can.” I thought I detected some anxiousness in him, too. The last thing I wanted to do was go home to an empty house.

“Okay,” I said weakly. “Praying for you.” Though, I had little left energy to pray.

Suddenly my phone rang again. “Hi Sweet Friend, this is Tammy! How are you? I was just calling to say hello!” That’s when I took the phone and went just on the other side of the sliding glass door of Mom’s little room and slid all the way to the floor and cried my heart out. A friend from Austin had called me. And she had no idea what all had transpired the past week.

She listened. She shared some scripture and fortunately I had my little Gideon New Testament and read along with her. She let me cry and cry. Then…….my cell phone died. After all, it was 9:30 p.m.! No charger. That was it. But oh how her call ministered to me that night. She was God’s glorious way of reaching me at a time of deep emotional crisis.

Mom was in the hospital 3 weeks with an infection before she was well enough to go home. She then went through 28 rounds of radiation treatment and was declared cancer free. My son’s journey through some rebellious years lasted awhile. Now, by the grace of God he is sober and working a steady job and living on his own and gives all the glory to God.

Do you think it

 

woman crying

was just coincidence that Jay called that morning to check on Mother? Or that one of her

closest friends was in the waiting room at the very same time that Mother came in? Or that Tammy just happened to call late on a Monday evening?

I have never doubted that God in His glorious Providence back in 2009 provoked Jay to call that morning to say hello and check on Mother. Then He brought Mom’s friend to the waiting room t

o pray for her. Of all the nights that Tammy would call me out of the blue. No. Totally orchestrated by God Himself. It’s His way of taking care of His children when they are in such hard places. My heart prays that I could be that friend one day who calls out of the blue……to be a tool in the Master’s hand.

A man of many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are May ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9