Archives for October 2016

Finding Him in Jeremie, Haiti {Day 6}

Today I heard of 128 killed in Jeremie, Haiti, by Hurricane Matthew.

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My sister’s church is deeply invested there. They’ve built schools and planted gardens. They bought 55 goats at Christmas. Some have adopted children from Jeremie.

I sent this to my sister after seeing it  on Facebook:

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She says…

They lost their gardens and livestock. And it’s possible their fresh water well was contaminated by seawater. Hard to understand.

I see Jesus in Dawnna and her church. The ways in which they’ve gone into all the world to love and share Jesus through education and resources.  I see her church family sharing news of Jeremie; their hearts breaking for what breaks the heart of God. The Jesus in my sister and her church is evident as they pray and plan to keep loving the people of Jeremie – all the while wondering…who is gone? Can those who remain survive?

Friends, if I am honest, I am having trouble seeing Jesus in “the people are alive…they survived. But soon, they may starve. They’re cutoff.”

I know He’s there and I pray the survivors can feel him. But, like my sister, I just don’t understand. And I know His ways are not my ways and He allows and the world is broken. I know all of that. I promise.

But, all I can do is watch video and hear stories while clutching a tissue. I will never understand why I sit comfortably in sizable brick home with a refrigerator full of food while someone born in another place fights for life in the midst of wind and water while wondering if they’ll starve to death.

My heart has no idea what to do with that today. But, I am asking you, friends, to pray. There’s power in prayer.  Keep asking God for more mercy.  Ask Him to hold those in Jeremie, Haiti tight. Intercede for those who remain in Matthew’s path.

Lord, we love and trust you. We may not understand, but we don’t have to. We simply keep loving and giving.

Finding Him in Memories of My Dad {Day 4}

A glance at my phone about 4:30 this morning wasn’t even necessary.  I don’t need Apple to tell me it’s October 4. It’s a day I can feel coming in the deepest part of my heart.

My Dad’s birthday.

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He would have been 67, but on January 10, 2008, God thought Dad’s time on earth had ended. And as I held tightly to his hand and whispered “it’s ok to go, Dad,” he took one last breath.

I disagreed with God.

I had a 7 and 5 year old who adored their Poppy  – the Poppy who played with toys and hunted eggs and gave piggy back rides. How could God take my Daddy? Their Poppy? My Momma’s husband? How could this be? My parents had worked so very hard all their lives. These were supposed to be the good years – the “well done” restful years of retirement. Not goodbye.

So every October 4 and January 10, God and I have the same conversation. Me telling Him how I wish it could have been – how I wish it could be for me, my sister, our kiddos, and my Momma. Of course, I never win.  I know God listens and sees each tear. But, Dad still isn’t here. And I still don’t understand.

I think my sister described this struggle best…

Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 67. My first thoughts are…he would be retired…he would love Chloe (her daughter/my niece who is 2)…he’d be proud of Hannah and Owen (my kiddos)…he’d still be following Poca football (the high school my entire family attended)…we’ve been cheated by not having him here for the past 8 years.

However, I trust in a sovereign God that works all things for the good of my family because we love Him. While today is no easier than any other day since my Dad went home to Heaven, I’m so thankful knowing he’s there and I’ll be with him again someday. Happy birthday, Dad. I love you and I miss you so much.

And in the comments of her post…

Pud was a great family man.  From my sister’s friend.

Happy Heavenly Birthday to the best dad I have ever known. From a high school friend

I often think of the great times we had together watching Poca football or WVU or Dallas after the game on Friday night and making candy.  From a dear friend of my parents

Love love loved your daddy! From a high school friend

So many loved and respected my Dad.

And this is where I see Jesus today. In memories of my Dad. Jesus knew my Dad’s days were numbered, so we didn’t waste time on accumulating wealth or stuff; we didn’t waste time on what others thought or on trying to move up the social ladder. My dad focused on his family. And because he considered Husband, Dad, and Poppy to be his greatest achievements in life, we are left with an abundance of sweet (and many hilarious) memories.

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Remembering who he was and how he loved sustains us until one day we see him again.

Happy Birthday, Dad.  We talk of you often and remember you always. We wish we could celebrate alongside you today, but instead we will celebrate in our hearts, remembering the dad who followed us to every event, who was the Mountaineer Parent of the Year, who twirled a baton and fixed fried bologna. Who took us camping and made us clean our rooms. Who taught us to drive and how to love. Who took in every person that ever needed a place to lay his/her head -even if we didn’t have room.  We didn’t know it, but we were watching and gathering every moment into our hearts. We’ll hold them tightly until forever comes.

Finding Him in Youth Sports {Day 3}

He comes down the stairs clad in his tennis sweatshirt and warm-up pants. Uniform on. Hair gelled. Teeth brushed. His official “tennis” shoes tied tightly.  It’s championship day, and his seed looks as best it can.

I fry his egg and make his sandwich. Fill his water bottle and place his favorites in a cooler.  We are ready for a day of tennis.

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I watch him sit quietly at the table. We engage in small talk, but I think he’s nervous. He’s a serious child who wants to please and do well. Don’t we all?

As his momma, I want him to win. Not so I can post pictures on Facebook and take credit for his superior tennis skills (I have zero athletic ability), but because I love this boy and want him to be confident and successful.

I say a prayer as I follow him out the door. Lord, be near today.

We arrive at the courts, sing the National Anthem, and head to Court 4. 

Again, silent prayers for calm nerves and accurate shots. I know, you may say, it’s middle school tennis. That’s a bit shallow. To which I’d say: I am his MOMMA. Momma’s cheer on and pray for their littles regardless of the situation and score. 

Yet, as I say a prayer and take a deep breath on his behalf, I am aware of those around me. A long time friend pulls for his son on my left. Another friend coaches the boy playing my son. I see my son’s opponent’s mom sitting to my far right, folding her hands and staring intently at the courts.  I notice her stand a bit later.

I watch a dad hug his kid and give him a tickle after a tough loss. I listen to the parents of the bottom #8 seed stand behind me and say in a most encouraging tone…oh man, thought he had that one. Good try!  That was a tough one.  (Too many sweet moments to mention!)

As I survey the 10 courts with parents and grandparents and coaches lining the fences, I am reminded that so many kids are well-loved and supported.  God also reminds me: every person here is pulling for someone. Many prayers are going up for calm nerves and accurate shots. Captain Obvious, huh?

But do we always remember this? That we’re all in this together?

While I fully realize and say often “this is middle school tennis and no one will remember in two years who won these matches,” something inside us wants our people to come out on top. And that’s ok, normal, well and good – especially in middle school tennis (as long as we act civil and kind;)

But, what about in life? After the days of youth sports pass, is that always our goal? To come out on top at the expense of another? Does someone have to lose for me to win? Does some one have to be less than for me to be more?

Because that’s where I saw and heard Jesus today. My son doesn’t have to win anything or be great at anything to be loved by God. I don’t have to focus on making Sarah great again. My kiddos don’t need the highest grades or best serve or front row spot.  That’s not the goal of this life. The goal of this life is to love God and love others.  Sure we run the race, persevere, learn, and come out better than we were. But ultimately, we have to stay focused on the real race. The real reason we walk this earth: To make Jesus famous. And when we are focused on loving our neighbors, not besting them, we see His kingdom come to earth as it is in Heaven.

Finding Him in a Conversation {Day 2}

Often when someone asks, “How are you?” she’s not looking for the paragraph answer. More the sentence answer. So, I mostly respond with, “I am good, how are you?”

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Not this friend.

She asks “how are you doing?” and genuinely wants to know.  So, I give the paragraph answer – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Of all the things I shared, she chooses one detail and asks me why my heart isn’t in that.

I am honest: That’s a good question. (Because I have not even stopped to think why my heart isn’t in it!)

Her response? I see the light that you are and I am thankful that you are there bringing Jesus.  

Well, she sees Jesus, and I see drudgery. Interesting.

Then, she shares her life in a very honest way.  And of one part of her world she says, “I know that God provides and moves no matter the place, but I do believe that this is obedience for us right now and that we will see the blessing in it.  But schedule wise, I am full up and so I am looking for how God wants me to live in rest, health, and margin.”

This is the moment I look over my shoulder – CERTAIN that Jesus is right there. My schedule feels full up. I struggle with health, rest, and margin. And I feel this is Jesus saying through my friend: This is obedience for you right now, Sarah. You will see the blessing in it someday.

As we continue talking about a new season in her life, she says, “ Sometimes it takes me a bit to get on board when my schedule and comfort are involved.”

Ummmm…are you reading my journal? I even say to her: ME TOO!  Perhaps that’s why my heart is not in one area of my life right now. I can’t get on board because it’s not comfortable and it keeps me from doing what I want to do.  Ugh. That’s a hard reality.

But.

How thankful I am to have such a wise, obedient friend who’s honesty about her journey builds my faith and helps me to understand Him and his ways better.  And when I look back at how God connected us across many, many miles, I sit in wonder at His orchestration.  At this gift. And at how Jesus showed up in a conversation today on Facebook Messenger, using my friend’s obedience and faith as an example to me. He really is in the small.

Thank you, Lord. (And, I love you, friend!)

Finding Him in a Day at Home {Day 1}

Choosing to write for 31 days about something revealed daily has this planner a bit disconcerted. There’s no writing ahead or scheduling.  Just looking for Jesus each day and waiting. Listening. And on a Saturday when you don’t leave the house much…when you spend the day at home wading through the to-do list…it’s hard to stand back and say…wow. I saw Jesus in the dos and the dishes.

But,  friends, just as I made that joke, He said to me…well, I am here…

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I provide these jobs and tasks. I give you the gifts and grace to complete them. I connect you with each person. You can pay the bills because I provide. You can wash the dishes because I give water and soap and food and a stove and electric. You can answer emails and make graphics because I position you on a ministry team for such a time as this. You can help others. You can pray. You can even listen to your alma mater play football on the radio because that school is part of the story I’m writing for you.

The sweet text from your daughter?  Loving you even though it’s not your weekend. A reminder that I am sovereign, especially in child rearing.

Your son’s sympathy for the opposing team’s field goal kicker? (You should know…we won because he missed!) That’s a gift of grace and mercy as you teach him compassion.

The open window and autumn breeze?  All me, Sarah. The book you read before it’s  released?  A gift from Me to you.

You scroll through Facebook and sit in a warm, cozy home because of my provision. You match missionary pictures with retreat registrations because I’ve given you the privilege of Revive.

The Revive gal who checked in with you this morning?  I connected your hearts and she followed my nudge to love you well.

The bed you got out of? The shower you took?  The car you drove?  The meals you ate?  All me.

The coffee from Tim Horton’s, and the woman who made it? She’s my child. She served you today. Your love of Oh, Come All Ye Faithful? I wrote that. (Yep, I listened to Christmas music today.)

So where did I see Jesus today? In the mundane. In the normal of my life. In a day when I was feeling a bit cooped up at home. Working.

He showed up there.

And without this intentional seeking, I think I’d have missed him.  My messy house and to-do list would have hidden him.  Thankfully, He tapped me on the shoulder with a big A-HEM!  And said, “I’m here.”

Where did you see him today?

Finding Him in the Small {31 Days}

My friend, Ali, and I have spent the year seeking God in the small. We both have big personalities and like to go big or go home. We are both leader types who love people. And we both felt God leading us to the small – an idea birthed with our friend, Marla, after listening to God, Make Us Small.

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Each month we ask God for a “theme” – some idea or action that will lead us closer to becoming smaller and smaller so he can be bigger and bigger in our lives, families, and communities.

In January we focused on becoming better listeners. Submission in February and wonder in March. And on and on. We’ve focused on serving and hospitality. On self-care and stillness. It’s been a harder than I ever imagined.

Yet it’s caused me to end most days pondering…where did I see Jesus today? How is He at work? Where is He showing up in the small? The unexpected?

And I’ve discovered that when I look for Him, I find Him.

So for the next 31 days, I plan to share with you where I see him. Why?

Because I believe in the power of story and of noticing. If we can begin to see Him everyday, our faith and joy will grow as begin to live thankful for the ways he shows himself everyday.

I also pray you’ll share where you see him.  I think we have so much to learn from one another.

There’s miracles everywhere – if we only stop and notice.

I look forward to seeing Him and growing in faith alongside you in October!

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