What was meant for evil…

21 06 2015

I believe that my steps are ordered of the Lord. I work in a crazy, talent filled, ADD inducing, creative, grueling industry with all kinds of people. I never sought out to work in the film industry. MY plan was to be a gospel singer/worshiper and travel the country sharing the message of God’s inexplicable love. God has placed me in Charleston, SC for a time such as this. I know that I know that God has a purpose for bringing me here, NOW. I have had the privilege of praying for several co-workers in the past 9 weeks. I have also found myself at the foot of the cross on several occasions confessing my failures and feelings of inadequacy. It is a great comfort to know that there are people of faith who pray for me. I need every single prayer that has been offered on my behalf.
Along with the rest of our country, I have witnessed the power of God at work in the hearts of His people who are suffering an unimaginable loss and heart ache. And yet, they stand before a young man who killed their loved ones and say these words, “I forgive you.” We are witnessing a supernatural act of God. He is working in the hearts of His people. He is close to the broken hearted and He binds up their wounds. These people are living out their faith as they have been taught to do by their Pastor who was taken from them in a violent act. Pastor Clementa Pinckney taught his congregation well.

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Today, I am reminded that this world is filled with evil, BUT GOD! God can bring good out of evil designs. By his own words, what this young man meant for evil, God is turning it for good. This young man has stated that he meant to cause a race riot. Instead, people of all races are standing together to rebuke this notion.
Lives have been tragically ripped away, hearts have been torn in two and people are walking out their faith in a God who loves. People who are broken in the face of hatred and violence are living out of the abundance of mercy that a loving God has poured into their hearts.
I know my steps are ordered of the Lord. He has ordained that I am in this great city right now. I am learning from the people of Emmanuel AME church. And hoping that, on some small scale, I can make a difference.





This one is pretty churchy, read at your own risk.

30 03 2014

Have you noticed how many churches have adopted the moniker of being Seeker Friendly? The nearest I can come to a definition of a seeker friendly church is; a comfortable environment in which to seek spiritual development. This definition is not all encompassing but I think it describes, in a nut shell, the direction of a seeker church.

I find that in attempting to become “seeker friendly”, the church has become more like a the seeker than like the Bride of Christ.

The problem I see with this idea is that we do not give the, so called, seeker enough credit. Seekers are already uncomfrotable and discontented with what they presently believe. That is what propels people to seek something else. People who are brave enough to search for something different are seeking the Truth. They are not satisfied to believe that what they know now is all there is.

I was seeking when I finally made the step to go to an AA meeting. I was confused, depressed, suicidal and of a very fragile mind. The only thing I was absolutely certain of was that I was going to die if something did not change. No one in AA was concerned with my “comfort”. I was desperate for my life and they had the answer. No one babied me. On the contrary, they said things to me like; “sit down, shut up and listen; go to 90 meetings in 90 days; you have nothing of value to add to a meeting until you have spent 90 days listening and learning.”

I had ADD before anyone had a name for it. I would get up for coffee a half dozen times in 90 minutes. I would try to sneak outside for a cigarette and to socialize with other people who had ducked out for their own reasons. My sponsor grabbed me on one of my wandering excursions and asked me what I was doing outside. “Your sobriety is not out here. Get your a$$ inside, sit down in the front row, shut your mouth and open your ears.” As angry and humiliated as those words made me feel, they were truth! Not what I wanted to hear, what I needed to hear. It takes a deep love and a certain courage to speak the truth. I am grateful for those who spoke truth to me, especially when I didn’t want to hear it. It did not chase me away from AA. It did not force the brakes on my journey for a different way of life. I was sick and tired of my old way of life and I became willing to grasp onto this new way of life.

So, back to the church and the seeker. My concern is that we are pointing the seeker in the wrong direction. Are we trying so hard to make the unbeliever comfortable that we are presenting the church as a party place? Honestly, some worship services look to me like a bar room band concert minus the alcohol. And, sometimes it is not minus the alcohol because I can smell the previous night’s activities on the stage. Sometimes, the musicians are still high or hungover. Is this the worship that our God deserves? Are we pointing to the lights and the fog machines and the musicians? Are we teaching by our behavior that we are no different than the rest of the world? What used to be a Bible study time has been turned into “fellowship” and sometimes they just happen to meet in a bar. Is it really okay to have one beer? As long as you invoke the name of God somewhere in the conversation, is that what makes it a “Christian” get together? Oh yeah, and if so and so, you know, the alcoholic, shows up then no one should have a drink. Does that make it okay? Are we teaching new believers more about freedom in Christ than about making sacrifice to remain Holy? Do we even know anymore what God meant when He said, “Be Holy because I am Holy”? What does the word sanctified mean? What am I supposed to set myself apart from? What did Jesus mean when He said, “They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.”? These are all valid questions that arise.

And here is the BIG question. Are we using the notion of being seeker friendly to justify living in a way that allows us to practice our creature comforts?

The seeker already knows what the world has to offer. Show them Jesus. Show them their own worth because God left Heaven and took a beating and was tortured and murdered to save them from their sin. Act like we know this to be true. Then, and only then, do we begin to do the seeker a service. Seekers deserve to know the truth.

 

 





I call BS.

26 12 2013
deep thoughts

deep thoughts

 

There are a couple of phrases that are always said with the best of intention in the worst of situations. One of these is, “Forgive and forget“. For years I have allowed myself to feel guilty because I have not forgotten. I think it is time to call BS on this one. I do not think it is possible nor practical to forget. I have forgiven some pretty life changing and heinous events Even when the offender has not asked forgiveness. But I do not forget. For example; At the age of fifteen, my virginity was robbed from me in a brutal act of kidnap and rape. After years of alcoholism and drug addiction and some deep counseling by a Pastor and his wife, I have been able to forgive. Truly forgive, as Christ has forgiven me.
Like most fifteen year old children, I thought I was invincible and I left myself open to many dangers. I was rebellious and arrogant and that permitted me to be with the wrong people, in the wrong place at the wrong time. What I did not know is there is always some sicko lurking and waiting to take advantage of just such an attitude. I have forgiven me for putting myself in that danger. I have forgiven the sick man who robbed me. I have forgiven God for not bursting through the night sky and ripping this pervert off of me. Done and done.
I am sixty one years old and I haven’t had those nightmares or re-lived that event in a very long time. My heart is no longer bound in anger, fear and hatred. But I do not forget.

There is another phrase that irks me of late. “Time heals all wounds.”

I must call BS on this as well. I do not see myself as wounded and bleeding any more although my heart is under going surgery right now. My heart has never been so broken as when Eddie the Baker left me here alone. I miss him every single day and feel somehow incomplete without his words of wisdom in my ears and his daily pledge of love to me. This does not feel like a wound. It feels more like an extraction. A portion of my soul has been torn off and the heart ache is quite literally an ache in my heart. It has been more than two and a half years and I still cry every day. Time is not healing my heart and soul. But God…  I know that God is mending this. Every wound my heart has ever experienced has been healed by God and this is no exception.He has promised never to leave me. He has promised to bind up the broken hearted. He cares for the widows and the orphans. It is God, not time, who heals all wounds.

I have recited both of these phrases to hurting people in the past. That will not happen again. And I will politely nod to those who say these things to me, choosing to see their heart and not just listening to the words. And maybe, on the inside, I will find myself calling “BS.”





A widow’s journey. Year 2.

15 09 2013

Photo 97yep< i am still wearing the rings. I just don’t see any point in removing them. I am not interested in a relationship because, well, I am still in love with my husband. I tried taking them off once and it felt weird. Plus, it didn’t make me think of Ed any less. So… they are a piece of me and they remain.

I am learning to trust my decisions more. This last year has been filled with some pretty tough ones.

I fired my family physician of twenty years! I have been uncomfortable with him and his office staff for a few years but I thought it was just me being particular. It wasn’t. Got a new doctor and I am much happier.

I left my church of 10 years. They have been an amazing family to me and it was one of the toughest decisions I have ever had to make. I still love the Rock church and it’s members. This whole seeker friendly thing has become a thorn in my side. I just can not reconcile myself to it. The best thing for me to do is get out of the way. I have prayed HARD about all of this and God has given me some clarity on my situation. My choice is not right for everyone. It is right for me. I am patiently waiting for God to put me where He wants to use me for His glory again. In the meanwhile, I am quite busy praying for those precious people God puts in my path in my marketplace. So many folks need prayer and encouragement right now. It is my honor to touch Heaven with requests on their behalf.

God is teaching me hard lessons. He has stripped away most of the people that I thought would be with me through thick and thin. Some of that stripping has been excruciatingly painful. I have mourned the losses that I do not comprehend. Sometimes, I ask myself if I have done something to offend or if I am being judged… but, through it all He has spoken to my heart over and over again. “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

He is teaching me that He alone is my source and He is well able to handle my every need. As I depend on Him for my support and even the breath I take some days, He puts people in my life. Not to depend on but to lean on. I am reminded that even Moses needed help from people. Life can be demanding and hard. It is okay to lean on people some times but… they better be the people that God has placed in my life for this purpose.  God knows exactly what I need.

God knows who needs me too. It is a challenge to stay alert and aware of who God is putting in my life and what I can do for them. Sometimes it is as simple as a smile. Amazing how many people need to be smiled at. Sometimes I am called upon to just listen. It is amazing how many people feel unheard. I have become very good at keeping things told me in confidence too. My secret is simple. I bring the matter to God right away, before it has time to take up residence in my mind and make me think it is MY problem to solve. Then, I walk away and most of the time, forget. I am not sure if that last step is a gift or just a very bad memory. LOL. Either way, it seems right.

I still weep when I stop to feel the longing in my heart for my Eddie. I am not generally a weepy person, so I fight this a lot. Wet face, runny nose, puffy eyes. These are not pretty things and I like things to be pretty. But, alas, these are some of the things that make up life. So, I dry, blow and apply make up, pull up my big girl panties and march on.

 





Who is that missionary?

4 03 2013

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Here we go!!!

From left to right is, Yours Truly, Coni; Peggy Laney and Margo Talton. We traveled together from Wilmington and met Naomi Tepper in Spain. Naomi flew in from NY the day after the blizzard. The original plan was for us to fly the day of the storm from ILM to NJ to Madrid but all flights got cancelled due to the storm. So, the travel agent got on it immediately and we were able to fly out the next day with an added stop to our route. We lost the first day but rehearsal and blocking with power point and sound and translators started right on time on Monday morning.

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Margo, script supervisor. Peggy, interviewer. Naomi as Ruth, interviewee. Becca, awesome translator and friend.

After our morning of work, we were blessed with a trip into Madrid with the very best ever tour guide, Elliott Tepper. He also happens to be the founder and CEO of Betel ministries. Elliott has a mind that retains an incredible amount of data and our visit was resplendent with pointing and facts. I will attempt to remember some of what he showed us by stating it under the pictures.

2013-02-11_16-05-16_989A beautiful street we walked on the way to a square filled with restaurants and shops. Hey, hostal macarena!! Love the wrought iron patios.

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This is an inner wall in the shopping square. The right of the wall is covered with fresco paintings that we thought quaint and beautiful. Elliott was amused to inform us that we were taking pictures of pornography as the men and women displayed were naked. No close up people!!!!

Last trip here we ate in one of the restaurants in this square. This time we ate a very late lunch in a cave!

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Naomi Tepper, Margo Talton, Coni Andress, Peggy Laney. And, Fernando!

We ate some lovely meals in between ministry and travel. Okay, the bowl of baby eels was not so lovely!!

2013-02-14_14-28-28_998yeah! I thought it was noodles at first. I did eat ONE, just to say I did it. Even with all the garlic, it was not delicious to me.

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This paella was pretty amazing though! This trip was not all about the food but I must show you one more place that we stopped to eat along the road from Madrid to Malaga, a six hour drive through the mountains and acres of olive trees.

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2013-02-13_15-11-23_261This is our host, founder and CEO of Betel ministries, Elliott Tepper.

2013-02-13_15-13-06_271A lovely lunch that we all shared on the mountainside patio. Lots of bread and olive oil too.

I hope I have not bored you with pictures of food and scenery. There is still so much more to tell you. I cannot promise you that the next post will not have another picture of food and fellowship because Spaniards know how to treat their guests. We came to be a blessing and we were so blessed by Betel.





Serving in Spain through the arts

24 02 2013

The message we are carrying to the women of Betel International is this: Live the Lord’s Prayer. Forgive those who have hurt you and walk into your new life without yesterday’s baggage.

It sounds like a simple message but, I promise you, more people than we think get stuck in sorrow and unforgiving. I know this from experience.

The women here have been through a lot. They have been on both sides of the fence; needing to forgive and needing to be forgiven. It is often so overwhelming to be in this position that people can not find the beginning of the road to healing and freedom.

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We are using the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament, an old widow and her daughter in law who is also a widow, to put into pictures how to move forward. This is the basis for the conference that we built to bring to the women. We call it Victorious Warriors because it takes a warrior to battle through the sorrow, shame, anger, and humiliation that has been heaped upon us over the years. We are survivors, and that is a good thing but a survivor can still remain a victim. It takes more to be victorious. It is a battle of the mind to stop believing the lies of an enemy who tells us we are worthless and doomed to fail at every endeavor. It takes a warrior’s courage to find the strength to try; to move forward; to believe that God has a better plan and He is not mad at us. It takes tremendous strength to take that first step toward HOPE.

When the women first enter Betel Ministries, they are broken and defeated. It sounds like a bad place to be but, in truth, it is the best place to surrender from. Sometimes the warrior must surrender in order to win the battle. We surrender the lies, the escape paths through alcohol and drugs and we surrender our wills. It is from that place of brokenness that we can begin again. We lay down the running and squarely face our failures and stop making excuses for them. We stop lying to people. We lay down the lies we believed for so long and accept the fact that God loves us and no one is worthless. And we lay down our self will and begin to learn how to embrace God’s will for our lives. It is good, His will for us. We have made a mess of things and He is waiting to restore us to sanity and a good life.

I read a lot of Facebook posts and some of things that crack me up end with the words, “said no one ever”. I have one that fits here. I want my old life back of lying, stealing, disrespecting myself, being drunk enough to pee my pants and high enough to puke on the police officer’s shoes… said NO ONE EVER.

Betel ministries all over the world provide refuge and a place to begin again. The people of Betel are courageous warriors. I am grateful for an opportunity to serve them.

 

 

 





six things it has taken six decades to learn

22 09 2012

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These are things I know:

  • We are all just passing through this life, we can not hold onto anyone.
  • God is the one constant that I can not do without in this life.
  • It is important to tell the truth.
  • Honesty can be mean if it is not accompanied with love and humility.
  • No army can defeat me and Jesus together.
  • That quiet voice inside is telling you the right thing to do.

What have you learned in your decades on this planet? I would love to know. Let’s share and encourage each other.