Old Green Eyes

“Grammy, watch me.” 

“Grammy, look at what I built.”

“Grammy, watch me jump in the pool.”

This summer, Gaylon and I  have spent a lot of time with grandchildren.  Tucker, from North Carolina, spent a week with us.  Our Louisiana girls, Madison, Alana and “Erin” were just here.  “Erin” is a foster child, but has been in our family so long, we claim her.  And, Joseph, Andrew and Luke, live about twenty miles away, so we are blessed to see them most weeks. 

One of the things I often encounter with these precious children, is that they want my attention.  They yell to be sure I see what they built, how they went down the slide in the park, how they jumped in the pool, and on and on.

Recently, one of our grandchildren had snap-together blocks and began to build things.  Literally, every two minutes, I heard, “Grammy, look.”  This went on for a while.   After about thirty minutes of this, Grammy redirected the child’s interest.  It was impossible for anyone else to get attention, or much to get accomplished because it was all about seeing what that child accomplished.

Now, that’s cute when  you are a child, and understandable when you are a child.  It’s not so cute, when as an adult, it’s all about ME!  Let’s call it, the “Watch me jump in the pool” person.

When serving God, there is a temptation to want others to notice us.  “Watch me jump in the pool.” We don’t say it, but perhaps we demonstrate it.  It can especially be difficult, if we are hearing how great someone else is diving into the pool.  It is tempting to say, “Hey, watch ME jump in the pool.”  

It is very easy for old green eyes to show up.  The green-eyed monster of envy loves to get its grip on us.  Even John the Baptist was tempted to get caught up in envy.  In the gospel of John, the disciples of John the Baptist come to him with words that seem tailor-made to provoke envy. “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness — look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him” (John 3:26).   

What a moment of decision for John the Baptist!  He could fix his eyes on how many baptisms Jesus was doing, and lose sight of being faithful in his own calling.  He could have thought, “Hey, watch ME jump in the pool.”

John’s response was so mature, “John answered, “No one can have anything unless God gives it. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I have been sent ahead of him.’ – John 3:27,28.”

John simply accepted his call, and was faithful to that call.

Beloved, let’s accept who we are in Christ.  Let’s use the gifts He has given to us.  Let’s be content to be who He has called us to be.  If we get caught up in, “Hey, watch ME jump in the pool,” we might find ourselves drowning.

“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” – 1 Peter 4:10

“I Got You, Baby!”

Joseph hangs out at our house at least once per week.  He and his brother Andrew, take turns spending the night, and being spoiled at Papa and Grammy’s house.   

Five-year old Joseph continues to amaze us as we watch him press through difficulty.  Autism makes things a little more difficult for this little guy, but what a champion he is.  One of the things we have all done, is stand right by Joseph’s side, as he tries new things.  Many, many times we have said, “I got you, baby. You can do it.  I got you, baby.” 

As Joseph was with the occupational therapist recently, she had him try a new thing in the gym.  He was to walk a circular, slightly elevated “plank” on the floor; the object was to not fall off.  Occasionally, he’d almost lose balance, but he’d steady himself and say, “I got you, baby.”   The OT chuckled and said, “This boy has been taught that somebody has him.” 

Joseph steadied himself and confessed, “I got you, baby!”

In short time, Joseph totally mastered the walk.  He could have fought against the walk required of him, but instead he trusted. He had learned that when the path gets a bit tricky, someone is standing there to catch him.  He declared what he knew, “I got you, baby.”  When it seemed he would fall, he steadied himself and continued the walk.  “I got you, baby.” It was his assurance that no matter how scary it felt, he was not alone.

My mind immediately thought of walking the plank of life.  There are times, that it seems impossible not to fall off; but, as a child of God, I hear my Father say, “I got you, baby.”  I steady myself and remember His words.

The circle of life presents challenges.  As believers, we sometimes need to stop, steady ourselves, and remember we are not alone. God has us.  “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Perhaps today you find yourself in a place that seems a bit shaky.  Maybe you have health issues, family  issues, work issues or financial issues.  Maybe God has been asking you to take a leap into deeper faith, or to serve beyond what you think you are capable. Or, He’s asked you to lead, and you’ve always followed.   Stop, steady yourself, and remember that your heavenly Father is saying, “I got you, baby.”

When life pushes you to the edge, trust God fully.  He will catch you when you fall, or He will teach you how to fly. Either way, God’s got you, baby!

When Hosanna Changes To Crucify

Today is the Palm Sunday. It is the day we acknowledge Christ Jesus riding into the city, with people celebrating Him.

“Then the disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them, and they brought the donkey and [a]the colt, and placed their coats on them; and Jesus sat on the coats. Most of the crowd spread their coats on the road [as before a king], while others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them on the road.  The crowds that went ahead of Him, and those that followed Him, were shouting [in praise and adoration],

“Hosanna to the Son of David (Messiah); Blessed [praised, glorified] is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest [heaven]!” – Matthew 21:1-11

What an atmosphere it must have been!  The celebrating! The joy!  The shouts of Hosanna! 

The will of God is so much fun when people celebrate what we are doing, what we believe or who we are!  Let’s be truthful; it is nice when we are in the center of God’s will, and people are not only cooperating, they are celebrating us! 

Yet, just days later, the people were saying, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”  Just-a-few-days-later. What a change of atmosphere.  The One who had been celebrated, is now ridiculed. 

Jesus had learned that doing the will of God is not a popularity thing.  Jesus served God, when the crowd applauded Him, and He served God when the crowd was against Him.

I could pontificate on this for many paragraphs.  Suffice it to say that all of us have and/or will experience what Jesus experienced.  People will flatter us, bless us, and love us, and some of the same people will begin screaming, “Crucify!”

Following God is about the applause of Heaven, not the applause of earth.  Too many of us become crippled because others turn on us, or don’t accept us.  Jesus had learned to work for a cause and not for applause. 

When “hosanna” changes to “crucify,” keep walking. Keep running. Keep climbing. Keep sacrificing. Keep growing in grace and knowledge. Keep giving. Keep serving. Keep your eyes on God…what HONORS and PLEASES Him…and receive the APPLAUSE of heaven and all the other blessings and rewards that go with it!

Thank You God For Blessing Me

Eleven-and-a-half silver dollar pancakes, a tube of yogurt and a cup of milk!  That’s what my three-year old grandson had for breakfast this morning.   I gave him a little at a time, but he kept asking for more and more. 

As I walked to the kitchen to get the last couple of pancakes, I could only think of how blessed I am.  I have actually  known a time in my life, when groceries were scarce, and my car was running on gas fumes.  

On this day,  Andrew wanted more pancakes, and I had plenty of them. 

As I placed the pancakes on the plate, I looked up and said, “God, I thank You for pancakes.”

I really have no lack in my life.  Like others, there are things that I would like to have, but I can truthfully say I have no lack.   I have a roof over my head,  too much food in the cupboard, a car that runs well (even with 193,000 miles on it), a warm bed for resting, more clothes than anyone needs, a great family and Jesus Christ  as my Lord and Savior!

It’s so easy to take for granted the daily provisions of God, because we are waiting for that big breakthrough.  I certainly have big things for which I am praying; some are breakthroughs that only God can bring forth!  Yet, I can still testify I have no lack.

I don’t want to walk through life waiting for the big breakthrough, and yet not thank God for all that I do have.   When I was much younger, there was a southern gospel song that hit the airwaves.  I can still remember the lyrics decades later.  I want to sing this to God every day of my life.

There’s a roof up above me
I have a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank you Lord
For your blessings on me! 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” –  1 Chronicles 16:34

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

Truth Is Still Truth

As the times change, and what is permitted on television changes, I watch less and less.  I do have a few shows that I record and watch, so I can avoid commercials.  Not only do I not care about the commercials, they often have content I don’t care to put in to my mind’s eye. 

I do like a good court show. It fascinates me to watch the judge get to the truth of the matter.  The judge sits and listens to two people telling very different stories, and I watch as she asks questions, eventually painting one of them into a corner.  Eventually, either the plaintiff or the defendant has no real truth to back up what they are saying.  

Often during the case, one side will begin to repeatedly yell the same statement over and over, a statement that is not true.  Many times it is the written word, text or email, that shows the real truth.  The written word trumps what is being said.  

Finally, the judge will say, “Just because you repeat it over and over, doesn’t make it true.”

That is kind of where I am today, as I see what is unfolding in our society.  Untrue statements have been repeated so many times, that they are now repeated as truth.  One arena in which this is so true is the arena of sexual issues.  While I am not going to list and dissect every sexual issue that is in the news today, without hesitation I say, “Just because you repeat something over and over does not make it true.” 

I challenge God’s people to educate themselves, as to what God’s word says about sexual matters.  It is very clear, and I find little to no ambiguity.   Notice that I said God’s people.  I can’t make someone live a life based on the truth of the Word of God.   Yelling scripture at people doesn’t change them.   But, God’s people are responsible to know the truth of what God says.

We must be careful that we not let emotions change what the word of God says.  We all have friends and family that are on the “other” side of issues.  We should love them no less, and we should treat them with kindness.   That should not and will not change what the word of God says on these matters.  Truth is still truth, even if unpopular.  The written word trumps what is being said.

“Just because you repeat it over and over, doesn’t make it true.”

Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:5

Is God Just A Fairy Tale?

“Your God is just a fairy tale, for the weak-minded.”   That was part of a conversation in which I was involved recently, and it’s not the first time that I’ve heard something along this line.   

There have been a few times that the words rang in my ears, and I even wondered, “What if this is all a big fairy tale!” 

According to one man, talking about God is the equivalent of talking about fairies or goblins. It’s the reason he doesn’t like to use the word ‘atheist’ to describe himself. ‘Call me an “a-fairyist” or an “a-goblinist”,’ he says, ‘because to me it’s the same argument.’

Now, I believe God is real, very real.  He has stepped off the pages of scripture, and walked right into my life.  But, there are still those who believe it’s all one big fairy tale.

Even if serving God and believing Him to work on my behalf is a fairy tale, I have no regrets.

This “fairy tale” has:

  • Given me hope in life.
  • Caused me to believe that I could overcome an abusive childhood.
  • Planted in me a desire to help other people in need.
  • Given me opportunity to travel across this nation and other nations, to speak good news.
  • Taught me to forgive more easily, and not live with the negative consequences of bitterness and unforgiveness.
  • Placed in my heart a desire to be generous. Before my “fairy tale,” I wanted to hold on to the almighty dollar!
  • Provided me with tools to be a better woman, wife, mother and grandmother.
  • Helped me to be kind-hearted towards my fellow humans.
  • Placed wonderful people in my path, who have been steadfast, dependable friends.

I could go on and on and on.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been life-changing, and healing for this old girl. 

Is God a fairy tale?  I certainly don’t think He is, but if He is, I like a good fairy tale.  A good fairy tale starts with once upon there was … and ends with they lived happily ever after.  That has been my life.  Once upon a time, I was a mess, the Prince came and rescued me, and one day I shall live happily ever after with Him!

I believe in God our Father, I believe in Christ the Son
I believe in the Holy Spirit, Our God is three in one
I believe in the resurrection, That we will rise again
For I believe in the name of Jesus

“Know that the Lord, He is God;  It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. – Psalm 100:3

God Is Singing. Why Don’t You Join Him?

While sitting in the waiting room at the therapy offices, I get a lot of lessons.  The therapy offices to which I am referring, are for therapists who work with children.   Our grandson Joseph gets both occupational therapy and speech therapy, and sometimes I get to take him.  Joseph is on the autism spectrum,  and these therapists work hard to help him.  It’s often slow progress, but it’s progress!

Truly, I could write several pages of watching the children in the waiting room.  They are amazing to watch.  They are determined to overcome.

This week, as we were waiting for Joseph’s therapist to come take him back, Joseph began playing with a toy that is similar to a house.   A child can climb through the door, and to the “inside of the house.”  As Joseph climbed through, he saw the light switch, and said, “Turn on the light.”  And, he did.  Then he said, “Turn off the light.” And, he did.  Then he went back “outside the house.”   Joseph stood up and said, “Good job, Joseph,” and clapped for himself.

I smiled, and I almost teared up.  Two years ago, this would not have happened.  Two years of hard, repetitive work is being rewarded.  Hard. Repetitive. Work.

Joseph reminded me of two things that day.

First, if we continue with hard, repetitive work, results will come. Even if they are slow, they will come.  It takes work to see results.  So many want the reward without the work and commitment, both in the natural and the supernatural.  Thank  God for His Spirit and His power!  But, that doesn’t mean results are automatic.  It often takes hard, repetitive effort, and sometimes the results can be slow in coming.

Too often, people give up on their dreams and prayers, because it doesn’t come quickly, or easily.  I am so thankful that none of us gave up when Joseph did not see quick results. Today, we are seeing results, because his parents, his extended family and his therapists refuse to give up!  I know we will yet see more growth in Joseph, but it will take prayer and hard, repetitive work.

Second, we need to pat ourselves on the back  occasionally.  Joseph has had many pats on the back, and much applause from his family and therapists.  When he masters a new thing, we applaud, no matter how small the thing is.  We get excited and celebrate the smallest victories.   This has taught Joseph to celebrate his own victories, no matter how small.

So often, we stay sad and depressed because no one is patting us on the back.   Look at your life?  Have you made forward progress?  Have you grown as a person and a believer?  Then stop right now, and applaud yourself.    I am not talking about an attitude of bragging and arrogance.  I am talking about looking at where you used to be, and where  you are now!   Don’t wait on someone else to clap.  Stand before God and clap, thanking Him for the progress you have made, and are making.

Those who have heard me as a speaker, know that I will often break into song in the middle of a message.  One of my favorites to sing out:

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 so!

Trust me, writing it doesn’t have the same effect as singing it!

Don’t beat yourself up today.  Today, stop and thank God that you are not who you used to be.  Even if  you feel your progress is slow, rejoice!   Why not join heaven today in a song of rejoicing over YOU!

“The  Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior.   He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”-  Zephaniah 3:17