I Just Came To Testify

As I sit in Panera Bread in Baton Rouge, LA, this morning, I am enjoying a wonderful cup of coffee.  As I look across the room, I see women of varying ages, and for some reason, it caused me to recall my years from childhood until now.  That’s a lot of years!

That walk down memory lane, brought a few smiles and even a few tears.  But, on that walk down memory lane,  I began to thank the One who has been by side – Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

I just came to testify!

I think all of us, who know Christ, need to take the stroll down memory lane occasionally. When we see how God has been with us in the past, it gives us faith for the “now” we are experiencing.  If you have heard me speak, you might have heard me burst out in song,  “If you could see where Jesus brought me from, to the place I am today, then you would know the reason why I love my Jesus sooooooo!”

I just came to testify!

Life will not be without sorrow.  It just won’t.  Sometimes the sorrow is unfair, unavoidable and so very painful.   My story is one of unshakable faith, as God has proven Himself to be a God who walks by my side.  He has sustained me, provided for me, and comforted me. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, I believe Him, when He says, “I am never going to leave you, Barbara, never.”

I just came to testify.

Among my sorrows:

  • Childhood abuse on several levels
  • Poverty
  • Rejection because I didn’t fit in
  • Food addiction to try to take away the pain
  • Miscarriage
  • A teenage son with cancer
  • Church pain
  • Losing a son

My story has not always played out the way I wanted, but God is the writer of my story. The plot has a lot of twists and turns, but He is still writing wonderful chapters, and I know the ending will be outstanding.  He has carried me when I was at my lowest, and I can truly testify He has turned my mourning into dancing.  My Lord has taught me that  His love for me is greater than my greatest sorrow.

I just came to testify!

I thank God for my story!  I thank God for his redeeming power.  I want to steward well the story He has given me.  I want to give hope to others, when they feel that life has knocked the wind out of them.

I just came to testify!

We all have a story. And, I believe part of our story is using what we have been through, to help encourage someone else.  I made a choice to proclaim God’s love and power, rather than drown in a sea of bitterness.

What is your story? Will you allow God to heal your hurt?   Will you allow Him to write new chapters?  Will you use your story to lift another up?  Will you point them to the One who can offer hope and life?   Join me in doing that. 

I just came to testify!

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:  Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:21-23

Be Still!

Sometimes we just need to be still and know that He is God.

Luke, who is seven-months old was visiting Papa and Grammy, along with his two brothers.  Our home was a station of activity, noise and laughter. Ahhhhh! Grandchildren!  Need I say more?

Gaylon had taken the two older brothers outside to play, and I stayed inside to feed Luke.  After eating until his tummy was full, I could tell Luke was a bit sleepy.  I rocked him a few minutes, and his little eyelids were almost closed, and then one of the boys came in the back door wanting something.  Luke opened his eyes and lifted his head.  No way was he going to miss anything.  He had to be in the middle of it all.  No time to rest when there is something going on!

After this scenario repeated several times, I decided to put Luke on the rug.  I walked out of the room for a couple of minutes, and when I came back into the room, there was Luke, face down on the rug, and sound asleep.

I think sometimes in life we grow so tired.  Maybe we are tired of the many interruptions and activities that vie for our attention.  In our weariness, we pop up and get in the middle of all the action.   As Christians, we often get involved in sixty things!  I’ve been there!  I’ve been there when trying to minister to everyone else, and my own soul was on life support. 

I’m honest enough to say that I have hit the wall a few times!  I’ve cried out to God in those moments, “Give me energy.  Help me.  I’m exhausted! You said, come unto me and I will give you rest!” 

God reminded me that He also said, “Be still and know that I am God.”

Mom, while those babies are still running around the house, you don’t have to be involved in everything that comes around.  Too much will steal your rest.  You will never recapture those moments.  Older couple at home, just because you have no children at home, doesn’t mean neglecting each other is wise.  But, so much requires that “I” be there!  Too much will steal your rest. You will never recapture that time in life. Being single doesn’t mean that you have to do it all, because others think you have few responsibilities in life. Too much will steal your rest.  

I could go on and on.

What is the answer?  I don’t have the counsel for everyone’s personal situation, but I do know that we are often a people with our noses buried in texting, social media and group activity. Those are fine within reason.

More than once God has shouted a verse to me, shouted because when he whispered, I was busy.  “Be still and know that I am God.”

Be still.

Be still and know.

Be still and know that I AM.

That’s so hard to do when we’re always texting someone, checking messages, answering every call on our cell  phone, attending every activity that  presents itself.   Each person will have to work it out, but one thing I’m sure of, we need to stop going so much. Stop texting so much. Stop reading everyone’s saga on social media.  Stop filling up our every free moment. You can’t come to God for rest, without being still.  Even if for fifteen minutes, be still and know that He is God.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” – Psalm 46:10

When Someone In The Church Hurts You

News alert:  people in the Church are going to offend you sometimes.  

My husband began his first pastorate in the little town of Camden, SC.  I was only 20 years old.  I was a naïve, immature child of God.   With honesty I can say, I had little to no clue what I was doing, and I can honestly say, I really thought everyone in the Church would play nice.  Here I am forty-five years later, testifying that as we have served in ministry, not everyone was nice, including me. 

I’ll spare the details, but a woman hurt me very deeply in one of our pastorates.  She accused me of things that I did not do, and proceeded to spread the accusations.  She contacted church leaders, friends and probably even God!  In front of others, she told me what she thought of me.  I was devastated. 

During the season of hurt and disillusionment, I pulled away from the church emotionally, trying to breathe, and trying to survive.  It was a difficult season, but God met me during that season and renewed me.  The woman did not apologize, and even after God touched me, I still had to see her in the pew  every week.  (Maybe it’s called a “pew” because God’s people can stink some things up!)

Over time, I was able to become stronger in God, and know that the storms created by people in the Church were not going to kill me.  They would hurt, but not kill me.   I learned that there is a safe place in God.  I learned to be careful not to pull away from God because of what people did.  God did not hurt me.  One of His children did.  It’s easy to get the two mixed up.   It’s easy to lose sight of the One we serve, the One we love and the One who loves us. 

Many, many years later, while speaking in a city, my path crossed with that woman.  As she came up to me, I was braced for another tongue-lashing.  Instead a beautiful spirit of repentance and sorrow came from her.    Now, I could have rehashed all she had done to me and my reputation, but that would do no good.  We hugged.  We teared up.  We walked away in total forgiveness, continuing to grow and serve God.

Are you in a season of hurt?  God sees.  Does it seem like the person is getting away with it?  God sees. 

It’s easy to want God to punish the person, who has hurt us, but it is necessary to give God the time to work in people.  He can change a person. I cannot.  He is doing a work beyond my natural vision.

Thank God that He doesn’t hit us with a bolt of lightning every time we do something foolish.  Otherwise, I would not be writing this, and you would not be reading it!

Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin!

“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.”  – Philippians 2:13