Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Shoes For Ruby

I try not to share things on my blog that are too personal, especially dealing with finances. Mostly because I never want to seem ungrateful for all God has done for our family. He has brought us through so much, but our life is still very much a walk of faith. Every day He provides for our needs, and I thank Him because I know it is by His hand we have the things we need. Many times I want to jump to my keyboard and share, but most of the time I just treasure the miracles in my heart. This time, the Lord impressed upon me to share, because someone else might need to be encouraged. Someone else may have a need and they wonder if God sees. So I must give testimony to the good things He has done.  

Christmas is a crazy time for our family. At Mission OKC, we make Christmas boxes for the kids who are a part of our ministry. The process for gathering and distributing these boxes starts in September, while Christmas for our family usually comes together at the last minute.

Somehow, every year we end up having a great Christmas. Some years we’ve even been able to take a trip before the kids go back to school from winter break. Still, as a mother, I have a nagging anxiety through the month of December that we may not get it all done.

This year, while we were putting out our Christmas decorations, Chad and I sat down to talk about what the kids have told us they wanted for Christmas. Their requests weren’t too outrageous. Ruby asked for an Easy Bake Oven, which BTW seems to be making a big come back this year, while the boys have certain clothes and games they want. Our discussion was around getting each of them some nice clothes and shoes this year instead of a bunch of toys; then maybe one super fun thing to play with Christmas morning. We talked about budget and made it a matter of prayer.

The next day, after Chad and I had our conversation, I got a text from the mother of one of Ruby’s best friends in the neighborhood. Ruby spends so much time with this friend that they’ve tried to convince the other girls in the neighborhood they are actually sisters. Anyway, BFF’s mom had been cleaning out closets and found three boxes of brand new shoes in Ruby’s size. She texted me pictures of the “fancy” shoes and asked, “Do you want these for Ruby for Christmas? They are brand new, never been worn! You can just wrap them up and put them under the tree!”

I was so moved. We have accepted a lot of hand-me-downs over the years, but this was special. God knew the conversation Chad and I had, He knew the delicate balancing act we are trying to pull off and was already en route to provide. 

Is your heart bigger than your budget this year? Is worry blinding you to the wonder of this season? Instead of wishing on the magic of Christmas, trust in the Lord.
1 Peter 5:7 instructs, “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.”

Someday, when our kids are grown, we’ll tell them about all the miraculous ways God provided for their great life. Right now we will teach them to be thankful to the Lord, for He is good. And His perfect Love is the greatest gift we will ever receive.  

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Momma Died

When I was a college student, a young mom on my church van route invited me to a candle light party in her small unairconditioned rent house. In preparation she had set up a full display of her candles and candle holders. Arriving late, I packed into the small living room with about ten other women who, between the lot of us, couldn't have afforded to buy the seasonal candle snuffer. Still, out of politeness we sat in the heat with our backs against the fish tank pretending to sniff the candles and awkwardly flip through the catalog.

The mood changed from awkward to intense when grandma, who was supposed to be watching the kids dropped them off extra early, leaving the mom to continue her presentation with the "help" of three kids under five and under foot.

The oldest child played at the mom's feet and watched the baby. The middle child was obeying the mother's orders to "stay in your room, or ELSE" but made his presence known by yelling from his room a series of long drawn out momma calls that built in loudness and intensity, "MooooooommmmmmmAaaaaaaaHhHhhh!"

Watching the mom's face as she attempted to close out her presentation was like watching Mercury rise. Nevertheless, she soldiered on until it happened. She cracked. The boy in the back hollered "momma" one too many times and finally got a reaction, just not the one he was looking for.

The smile faded, the sweat beaded up and rolled down her powdered T-zone. She slammed the candle holder down on the table and yelled back in a shrill voice, "MOMMA DIED!!"

There was a moment of silence, as we watched this young lady try to regain her composure.

Finally, the time came when I was released from this tension and candles party. Having no children of my own at the time, I judged this woman harshly. "How could any God-loving mother ever announce to her own children that she had died? And this in their moment of such intense need that they are calling out to her?!?"

Now, having three children of my own and having reached the end of our summer fun, It seems I have found my own personal threshold for the "momma call". As a matter of fact, every time I hear "mommmmmmmaaaaaaahhhhh" yelled from across the house, I think of this dear candle woman and her "MOMMA DIED!" response. "So fitting." I think to myself, "Just brilliant. I want to give that mom a hug and buy all her candles."

Hold fast mommas, we are not dead, we are still very much alive, and very important (evidently) to the little lives who call out to us. So we shall carry on with our swim supervising, game inventing and snack preparation until the time comes that they return to their studies. And we shall miss their siren call.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Front Seat Faith

This picture was unearthed from a junk drawer last week and left out on the top of my dresser. At first glance, it appears to be just a girl standing on a motel porch. To me, however this is a snap shot of a living testimony; a reminder of God’s proven faithfulness in my life. The day I found it, I was in desperate need of such a reminder.
      The girl in this picture is myself at age six, blissfully unaware of the grand faith adventure I was on. My father had been called to serve as a pastor in Anchorage, Alaska and our family had embarked upon the mother of all family road trips which began in East Texas and would take us 4,000 miles cross continent.
     Some of the things I remember about the trip are the overnight stays in “it’ll do” motels and falling asleep gazing at stars out the window of our Chrysler station wagon as we drove through the night. We enjoyed lots of picnics, and encountered as many interesting characters as there were truck stops along the way.
     At one point I leaned up and asked my dad how he knew the way to Alaska. His answer, “I’ve got a map. I just point the car in the right direction and stay on the road.” That was a good enough answer for me back then.

     I was just a passenger with my coloring books in the back of the family car going along for the ride. It was later, as an adult that I learned how the church we were called to was praying us all the way there. They took up an offering and wired it to mom and dad so we could make it through Canada. Then they took up another offering when we arrived to rent us an apartment until we found a house.
     The moment mom and dad arrived they went to work reaching out to the growing population of single adults. The entire journey was an act of faith and obedience.
     My mother kept a journal of this faith adventure. The last entry was dated the Wednesday night after we had moved into the apartment. She was excited because they had invited everyone to a “pizza fellowship” at our new home and were expecting a lot of new single adults who had never been to church.
     Last week, I longed to be the little girl in this picture instead of the woman out front. But I’d be missing out on important growth and awareness of my dependence on God. Every day when I get home from Mission OKC my body is worn out. While I cool off and rest, my brain begins to process all of the meaningful conversations, seeing the Word of God brought to life, the hugs, the smiles and the hungry bellies filled. My heart is encouraged and spiritual growth is happening in me. This is how faith comes alive, through action!

“So we do not lose heart . . .” as Paul said. “Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. As we look not to the things that are seen but are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16 &18

Friday, June 26, 2015

In His Time

On Tuesday, I was delivering lunches in an apartment complex where we have yet to serve many children. I was stocked with twenty lunches and only three kids came out to eat them. Becoming impatient, waiting in the heat for these three children to eat thoughts of "other more important things" I should be doing began to dance in my head. 

These thoughts were interrupted when the smallest little girl finished her orange. She saved the seeds in the palm of her hand. As I was packing up to leave, she held them up to me and said, "Miss Anna, will you help me make these pretty flowers?" 

Looking down at those orange seeds in her hand, at first I laughed. "Well, those aren't going to grow into flowers!" I explained. "They are going to make oranges, and you'll have to wait a looooong time." 

She looked down into the seeds kind of disappointed. Thinking on my feet, I grabbed a cup and some cotton balls out of my craft kits for the day. My plan was to put the seeds under the cotton in the cup, add a little water and pray for the best. It was better than a flat out refusal to help, but in my heart I knew those orange seeds didn't stand a chance. 

It was when I looked at the cup, that I knew the Lord was teaching me in this moment. The day before, in preparation for our craft, I'd written "The Lord keeps His Promises! Deuteronomy 7:9" on every one of the cups. 

I looked at the smile on the little girls face as she held her freshly planted orange seeds, and thought about how, really she and I are in the same boat. Everyday when we are delivering lunches and planting God's Word in the hearts of others, I feel like I'm holding up two little seeds to God and expectantly asking, "Will you make this grow into something beautiful?"  

And every day He reminds me of His promises and His faithfulness to keep His promises. The seeds that  are planted in His Name will go forward to accomplish all He has planned for them to accomplish. 

We must not grow weary! I am learning to be patient, to be faithful and grateful for these little glimpses of His Glory. 

Lunch Ministry Update

At the other two complexes on my delivery route I have a growing group of children who meet me each day. I've introduced different activities to do with the kids each day while they enjoy their lunch. We have Scripture Memory contests and good old fashioned Tic-Tac-Toe tournaments. 

On Thursday, my friend Mary Brown went along. Mary has a passion for literacy training, so we took some donated books along with us to give away. Mary sat at my table and sorted the books according to reading level. Every child received an age appropriate book and even enjoyed story time along with their lunch. 

It is truly a joy to walk with the Lord every day and witness how much He cares for those that many of us would overlook. If you would like to join us as we deliver lunches please contact me at or call or text (405) 694-8380

Monday, April 27, 2015

The Citizen's Band

My brothers and I grew up during the golden era of the CB radio. I remember having these fancy radios in our cars and they provided all kinds of entertainment during long road trips. We would figure out which channel had the most traffic and tune in to hear the long haul truckers banter back and forth. Usually it was “channel 19”, so channel 19 on our CB radio became known as “The Learning Channel”.
The trouble with the CB radio was indicated in the name. “CB” stands for Citizens Band and any one with the gumption to plug in the radio can get on and say whatever is on their mind. Many times we would find ourselves on the receiving end of some colorful radio rants against our misuse of the “Citizen’s Band”. The serious radio operators didn’t appreciate us littering their airwaves with funny impersonations and roadside observations. Our silliness was disruptive and caused confusion and we really didn’t care.
It seems there are a lot of voices these days that are being amplified, they have a message and they’re delivering it loud and clear; but should we give their voice a place of authority over our life? 
 This morning I woke up to see Kim Kardashian on the morning news. She was being interviewed as if she is a head of state when in reality she is only a spokesperson for her family on the subject of her step father’s new gender revelations.
The media shows such reverence and respect to anyone who will deliver their talking points. They will give platform to anyone who will stand and be a spokesperson for their brand of morality; thus lending their choice of voices a worldly authority.
For many, this bombardment can be very confusing when it seems our entire culture, even Christian culture shifts and begins marching to the beat of the loudest drum. How do we get clarity on this chaotic “Citizen’s Band”? How can we discern between the amplified voices and the Voice of authority?

Well, The Word of God is the best place to start.

In Mark 9:2-8 we see the account of the transfiguration of Jesus.

“After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John and led them up on a high mountain by themselves to be alone. He was transformed in front of them, and His clothes became dazzling – extremely white as no launderer on earth could whiten them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here! Let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses and one for Elijah’ because he did not know what he should say, since they were terrified.
A cloud appeared, overshadowing them, and a voice came from the cloud:
This is My beloved Son;
   Listen to Him!

Then suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone.”

Jesus was revealing His glory, as God, to the disciples. They were awestruck and fearful at the sight of Moses and Elijah there with this bright and glorified Jesus! Their reaction was to say, “Great! We’ll build three tabernacles here! One for Jesus, one for Moses and another for Elijah!”
             God Himself created a whole different station for the disciples to listen to. He gave them Jesus, God the Son. God was showing Peter, James and John that moving forward as disciples there should be no question in their hearts whether or not the man they were following had the authority to lead them. In verse 7 it says a cloud overshadowed them and a voice coming from the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son; LISTEN TO HIM!”
            I heard that call this morning in my Spirit when I prayed, “Wow, God there are so many messages out there about everything, how do we stand! How should we respond?”
            He points to Jesus, His only Son! Jesus lived to please the Father, He gave His life for this sinful world, for me. Look to Jesus, Listen to Jesus! As followers, we have to tune out the voices that are not speaking truth, trust in His word and keep following. 
            “Then suddenly,” it says, that the disciples were looking around and no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus alone. In Matthew it says that they fell on their face before Him.
It comes down to whom we’re living for. Whom and what are we worshipping? Whatever we worship will have the most influence over our life, those voices will speak loudest, drowning out all others. Jesus made it clear for His disciples, and He offers us the same clarity – there is no other standing, there is no one more worthy than Jesus. He is the ultimate authority on all things. He is Lord of all. Seek Him with your whole heart today.

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise – dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.“ Philippians 4:9-8

May the God of peace be with you today as you continue in your walk with Jesus.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sunday School Answers

 I don’t ever write on Sunday. We are always involved in worship and preparing for worship. But a word has been stirring in my heart all weekend; then this morning I wake up to see grieving families standing at the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial and my brothers in Christ lined up along the beach ready to give up their lives for their faith. The gravity of these events has pressed my heart and the conviction God has been giving is even clearer to me now.
It was actually just a funny story that provoked a thought. On Friday I take guitar lessons. My instructor, Ernie is also a worship leader and he helps me develop the songs that I lead on Sunday. We got to laughing about the lyrics of an song. He said, “That reminds me of when I was a kid and all I knew was to give Sunday School answers.”

Any kid that grew up in church knows what Sunday School answers are. No matter what question the teacher is asking the answer is going to be one of a few options. Kind of like guessing on a multiple choice test, only instead of guessing “A”, “B” or “C” the answers are “The Bible”, “God”, or “Jesus”.

He said one Sunday when he was a little boy in Sunday School his teacher told the class, “I’m going to describe something and I want you to tell me what you think it is that I’m describing.” The teacher went on to ask, “What can run real fast, it’s covered in fur, it likes to eat nuts, it lives in a tree and has a big bushy tail.”

Ernie said, “It sounded like she was describing a squirrel! I wanted to say squirrel so bad, but since we were in Sunday School I raised my hand and answered, ‘JESUS!’”

I grew up listening to the Andrae Crouch song, “Jesus is the Answer”. My parents had it on 8-track and would rock out to it in our station wagon. We sang the song in church, and I grew up believing every word.

“Jesus is the answer for the world today, Above Him there’s no other. Jesus is the way.”

But deep down I wondered what it really means. How does singing about Jesus solve the big problems our world is facing today? The answer is, it doesn't. 

I have learned that my Sunday School answers aren’t enough anymore. I believe that Jesus is the answer, and it has to become more than a line in a song to me. These words have become my marching orders.

We go to the dark places. We live sacrificially. We obey though faith is required and we love the un loveable, because of Jesus. It’s not enough to just read about Him, and know who He is. He has called us to bear witness to His power with our life.

It’s what Paul was talking about in Ephesians 6:19-20 when he said, “Pray also for me, that the message may be given to me when I open my mouth to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel. For this I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should.”

 I am going to begin praying for the same thing as Paul, that when I open my mouth to speak, that the mystery of the Gospel will be made known. As an ambassador of this message, I pray God will continue to send me out and give me the courage to speak and live as I should. To say and do the hard things, and to demonstrate with my life what my heart believes. The answer is Jesus!