Friday, August 29, 2008

A Real Prayer Meeting

I have spent the past three days in Duck Hill, Mississippi. Home of my God-fearing in-laws Bobby and Leona Russell. I count myself blessed indeed to be their daughter-in-law. They have taught me much.
Unfortunately, lightning hit their home a couple of weeks ago and the resulting fire left their home in ruins. The charred upstairs, the water damage from the fire hoses and the stench of lingering smoke has turned the happy humble home into an unimaginable mess.
It was sad indeed to see an entire lifetime picked through and eventually thrown into garbage bags. As I worked side by side with Leona in the mess,.... she was a living demonstration in peace and good nature. I've tried to imagine how I would be in similar circumstances. My "possessions" are very dear to me. In fact,..I have a list of things I would grab in case a quick evacuation was necessary.
Most have to do with Jae.
My tangible links to her.

On Wednesday evening,..we went to the Grenada Church of the Nazarene where the Russell's have invested most of their serving adult years. The tiny membership is deeply saddened because of the fire. For the pain my in-laws are enduring,....but for their church as well. That body of believers knows that Bobby and Leona will now move to Arkansas.

Wednesday night prayer meeting.....
I don't know about you, but my church has that scheduled every Wednesday night according to our bulletin, however,... last time I went, I don't recall spending a great deal of time in prayer.
I have had to miss it lately because of work or responsibilities in the Youth department.

Wednesday night "prayer meeting" at the Grenada Church of the Nazarene does the real deal. The few of us there this past Wednesday night gathered around the alter on our knees and prayed for a solid hour.
A solid hour!

One white-haired older man probably spent 5 full minutes on Praise and adoration of the God who saved him and loves him. In fact,...I think I now know how King David would have sounded if he had a deep Mississippi drawl.
Another pray-er was a handsome tattooed young man who had just moments before, witnessed his second child be born into this world. His prayer was so heartfelt and touching that I raised me head to watch him speak to our God.
Bobby and Leona Russell's prayers never mentioned the hardship they are in the midst of.

The entire prayer time was one of the best sermons I've heard.
I am convicted.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Becky's List

Coming home.
The smell of gardenia.
Driving in my car alone.
Listening to Abby play "Somewhere over the rainbow" on her guitar.
Hearing Casey laugh.
My videos of Jae Lynn.
My jacuzzi tub in the winter.
Ralph Russell foot rubs.
Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Barry Manilow, The Carpenters, John Denver and Neil Diamond.
Cookie dough.
Jae's bedroom.
Making other people feel better.
A good book.
A good haircut.
Full moon.
Dark starry nights.
Talking life and theology with Kay.
Starting fires (real ones)

Being cold.
Discord among family and friends.
The emptiness of Jae's bedroom.
Wool blankets.
Casey's longing for her older sister.
Fish fat.
Leaks under the sink.
Walking in socks and stepping in something wet.

Mean people.
Military levels of seniority.
Why I can't grow plants.
People who won't communicate.
The minor prophet books of the Bible.
Where my ink pens go.
Gas prices.
Computer language (which is why you seldom see bells and whistles on this blog)
God's ways

Talking in front of 1500 people.
Being nerdy (good thing!)
Graveyards at night.

Working in the church nursery.
Getting poked unexpectedly in the side. (stop it Bobby!)
Having bad breath.
Concession stand cash registers.
Burying another child.
Burying anyone I love.
Disappointing God.
Late night phone calls.
Demonic dreams.
Getting burned.
Having the "3 Cheerleaders" scholarship project fail.
Being broke.
June bugs.
That everyone who reads my blog will think it's stupid, boring and never return.

******(end of list!)******

So there you have about 30 things about me that you could have gone all day without knowing! Actually, I made this list a month or so ago and put it in my "draft" folder. Dusted it off this morning and gave it to you.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Go Down Death!

Man! I love this guy's voice.

When he was younger,..he appeared often on "Soul Train".

(Is that cool or what?)

I have spent hours listening to Whintley performing this song about death and Heaven.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ageless Children

First day of school.
Lots of fun for most people, clothes, with backpacks, sharpened pencils,..etc.

Agonizing for others.
Yellow school buses pass the driveway and do not stop.
Classmates move on.
Most children get older.
But death keeps some children forever young.

These ageless children have moms and dads who are heart-sick on the first day of school.
I am so sorry.
I know.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Happy 28th anniversary

Ralph and I just returned home from a 2-night stay in Branson MO for our 28th wedding anniversary. I wished a thousand times I had brought my camera to spice up my post here, but then again, would have been my 29th wedding anniversary before I loaded them all onto the post.
Here are a few of my thoughts from the absolutely beautiful relaxing weekend I shared with my tee-rific husband.

**Branson is full of places to stay. However,..the best accommodations have finally been discovered! It's cabin #2 in the Westgate Resort. (Ralph found it on some "Branson log cabin rental web site). I will stay there from now on if it's possible. You should too.

**There is motel in Branson named: "Hi Ho". (Hee hee)

**Of course,..Branson is known for it's entertainment. The show for us this weekend was "NOAH: The Musical". The stage was phenomenal,..the singing was good,...the actors also good, the ticket prices horrible,...but the Faith lessons,....Oh the Faith lessons! Ralph and I have talked about them all day. VERY encouraging. I think I may start praying like Noah and his sons did,...looking up to God, praying out loud while holding my hands in the air.

**Ralph and I discussed all the important things. I think it is a good thing to take "inventory" of relationships, finances, spiritual walks, church work, children issues and every other important thing in our life. It's been too busy to have conversations like that in every day life.

**Ralph is a good shopper. What a guy. Comes from living with 4 females for all these years.

**There is a deep thinker in a teeny town called "Pindall, AR". Some of the street names are:

and then,.....
Fillmore (Oh well)

**In Pindall,..there is also some sort of dragon sculpture which belongs in China. It's right there right beside somebodies ditch. It's probably 25 feet long. You pass something like that in a place like Pindall and wonder,.."did I just see a dragon?"

**Right past Pindall is a eatin place called "Roscoe's cafe". It must be good cause it was packed. It's near Pindall too.

**Ralph and I decided to meander home and stop whenever we had a fancy. We passed this auction place near Damascus and parked to look around. While shopping inside one of the junk stores,..a group of about 250 people gathered around the junk piles outside. I thought at first they were auctioning off our car, but ran outside and to my great relief saw they were only in a screaming bidding war for boxes of dirty broken toys, puzzles and kitchen gadgets. I heard somewhere that I would enjoy auctions. I see now that I would not. It's been a long time since I seen so much junk in one place. (My daddy's barnyard excluded).

**The same flea market/auction has a honest to goodness gallows. Trap door, long stairway and place to hang the rope. It's right there beside the rusty, portable metal jail cage. Except for the junk being auctioned off, we saw real treasures scattered around that place. Much of it was in a massive rusty junk pile which has been there as long as I can remember. However,..when I asked the price of one of the rusty pieces, guessed it,...the price was absurdly expensive. It's right beside the highway. I could go steal it tonight and no one would ever miss it.

**There's a church in Marshall, AR who said on their church sign that they were "Roundin up Souls for Jesus!". I wanna be in that posse.

**I signed up at the BumbleBee gas station to win a Harley-Davidson bike. Woo! That'd be fun.

Eating at the Cracker Barrel in Conway is always the sure sign that home is the next stop. In spite of the good times away, I could hardly wait to get there.
Home is where I belong.
Home is where my loved ones are.
Even though I was miles away, my loved ones were never out of my love or my thoughts.
The distance apart does not lessen the love.
The love is not lessened by the distance.
Whether my loved ones are on Centennial road or in Heaven, doesn't matter.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

49 things

Each Sunday morning, I have the radio on in my bedroom as I get ready for church. I love the 8:00am "Call to Worship" music program put on by somebody somewhere. It has become an excellent way to focus my mind on where it needs to be early on the Lord's day. The music is not exciting, but is extremely "reflective".
(Casey and Abby say boring.)

This morning, right after my Call to Worship music, the next program came on and a preacher announced his 49th lesson in the series.
There is a series with 49 lessons and (evidently) more?
I immediately felt sorry for the regular listeners.

I laughed out loud and wondered if I know 49 things about any one subject.

My knowledge about God and His things can be summed up like this:

The more I learn,...the less I know.
God loves me.
I love God.
He wants me to love others.
I used to think I knew more. Who knows, maybe in my other life I could have written a series with 49 points.
But surviving the scary shadows of death has, in a way, set me free. After being raised in the church (every time the doors were open!), you'd think I'd have some kind of idea of how big God is. A lifetime of sermons can obviously provide some prep for a Christ-follower to deal with adversity,..but the lessons won't stick until the student is given the test.
The test becomes the real lesson. Or it did for me anyway.
Last night, I was treated to my first Stephen Curtis Chapman concert. (In the rain!) I enjoy several of his songs and actually, one of them even made it to the list of songs I had compiled for my "music to heal by" (or as Ralph said,.."music to sob by") as I traveled to and from work in 2004 and 2005.

I have no idea how Stephen's concerts were before he experienced the home going of his 5 y/o Maria, but I am absolutely positive that his ministry will forever be changed.
He says the things I feel about death, life and God.
New passion from wonderful horrible new insights.
I also heard Stephen make no attempt to explain God's ways.

Psalm 139: 6 and 17-18.
This is too much,..too wonderful--I can't take it all in! Your thoughts (of me)--how rare, how beautiful! God, I'll never comprehend them! I couldn't even begin to count your thoughts of me--any more than I can count the sand of the sea.
(the Message)
I don't need to know 49 things,..I just need to know He loves me in more ways than the sand of the sea.
He loves Jae Lynn that way too.
It's good for this mama's heart to know that she's more in the middle of God's love than I am.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Acting Like Sophie

At our monthly Bereaved Parents meeting last night, we had a special speaker. Sam Adkins (Ph.d) has never lost a child, but somehow has become fairly adept at counseling parents who have.

He reminded us moms and dads that it was normal to wonder about the purpose of our pain. You and I are rational creatures with an inborn and natural need to make sense of our lives. I may not question everything in my life, but I crave understanding about other things.

My dog does not have this need.
If she pees on the rug, I swat her in the butt and she stops.
She does not run to a corner and wonder if I love her.
She does not become depressed over the fact that I took a swat at her.
As far as I can tell,..she makes no attempt to understand me.
Her desire seems to be to sit in our lap, eat and sleep with us and try not to get a butt-whuppin.
At any and every given time, she leaps into my lap and cuddles with me.
It's how she was made.

I, on the other hand,..was created with an intense need for purpose and rationales. I search for purpose to the suffering I see around me. It's how God made me.

Then,...He tells us in Proverbs to "...lean not on our own understanding,.."

It's not fair to make me one way and then require something different of me.
(Oh poor poor whiney me)

Sam said that a huge Faith step was learning to "let go" of our need for understanding and trust God with the purpose of this life.
Do tell.
I'd say that's an understatement.

Well ,..OK.
I can let go.
For tonight anyway.
Tonight I think I'll just act like Sophie and enjoy God's love for me.
I'm too tired to figure Him out tonight. :)

Friday, August 1, 2008

You, Me and the Apostle Paul

I and a friend are trying to study a different book of the Bible each month.
This month is Philippians.
Yippee!! I am done studying Isaiah!!

Usually, as I begin each book, I spend time "setting the stage" for what I am reading. You know,..who's the author,.... what's he doing,...who's he talking to,..who are the intended readers,..etc.

I wonder if the Apostle Paul knew that his letters written to his friends at the church at Phillipi would ever be used as they were. Do you think he knew he was writing a portion of the Bible? It doesn't sound like it. His words to them from the prison cell are very personal.
I just bet he had no idea that millions would read, quote, memorize and apply his thoughts as actual words from God.
If he had known, do you think he would have written the letters differently?

Only God knows how our daily actions will impact the world.
We tend to think very small.

One of things the apostle Paul did for his friends, the Philippians, was to tell them the things he prayed about.
I think it's good to let people know how they are prayed for.
Therefore: Consider yourself told.
I prayed for you this morning around 9:30am.
Each reader of this post.
I prayed for you to not underestimate your impact on the world around you.
Think big.
Humility is good, but so is Faith.

God specializes in using broken-up people living life in a wonderful, crazy, messed-up world.
We won't know until eternity how important our obedience is.

I bet Paul is still shaking his head in amazement.