I started a new devotional this morning. It seems that lately I keep seeking to find inspiration through people who I admire…people who I know are way further along in their walk with Christ and can maybe help light my path. Sometimes I beat myself up for this. This need to be inspired by someone else’s writings and thoughts. Why can’t I seek and find inspiration on my own? I go back and forth on what this says about my walk and my “study life” as far as God goes. I don’t think that being inspired by others is necessarily a negative. There are some amazing people out there who God has given beautiful gifts to and I am thankful they share those gifts. Then I sometimes think that if I can’t just merely sit down and open up the gift that God gave me – my Bible – then something is lacking in me. I am missing something if His inspired word is “not enough.” Yes – this is what I do – argue with myself, beat myself up, etc. After much reflection this morning, I actually think that a balance between studying the word of God and reading other’s words and thoughts is healthy and good for my soul. I don’t have to be a Bible scholar, but I can spend time reading my Bible and it WILL speak to me. God WILL reveal himself to me through those pages. I can also receive blessings, encouragement and inspiration through other people and will hear God through their words. I thank God for his guidance and instruction he inspired through the Bible. Time spent in those pages are time spent with my Creator. I also thank him for gifting people with such creative and insightful spirits whose words touch me and make my spirit soar. Writers like Ann Voskamp are so talented and produce such beautiful thoughts to share that there is no doubt in my mind she is speaking out her gift from God. I spent this morning reading Psalms of praise and thanksgiving. Recorded for me there is a picture of true adoration of God and the words of David inspire me to live a life that praises more, worships more, thanks more, and adores more. And then, in the same time of study this morning, I read from Ann Voskamp’s “One Thousand Gifts Devotional” about her understanding of thankfulness and what God has revealed to her about being truly thankful, and I know that her words are a gift from God as well. So as I continue to reflect on my walk and my relationship with God, I am realizing that I am doing ok. I know that the desire of my heart is to seek God in all that I do. And it is ok if I seek him in many ways, places, and words. His Holy Word will always be my ultimate authority. But I also realize that he can and will reveal himself to me through others. For all of it, I am truly thankful.
Hi there! Me again. It’s been 3 months since my last blog. I am ashamed of that but I’m back and starting again. I think I have had lots of thoughts and ideas for posts in the last three months, but I haven’t allowed myself to sit long enough and make them happen. But then today, something that I said to Brian after lunch kind of collided with a few things that Pastor David spoke about in his sermon this morning and I knew I needed to explore them here.
Brian’s dad, Dennie Suman, is battling cancer. He has been for a few years, but about a year ago it was “under control” and he was on monthly “maintenance” treatments. Recently it has begun growing again, and now the doctors are finding new tumors. He is rapidly losing weight and honestly, things do not look good. It’s sad to watch. Brian was moved to go spend some time with his daddy and really ask him where he stood with the Lord. He was able to pray with Dennie, and invited him to church today. I’ll admit I was a little surprised when I turned the corner this morning and found he and Pat (his longtime “girlfriend”) in the lobby. I had feared that he would just be too tired to get up and out the door for church – but he made it! I did my best not to let the shock of his sunken face and dramatic weight loss show on my face. I was thrilled they were there to worship with us.
Pastor David continued his series entitled “Who We Are” and spoke of how the world views us as Christians. Are we a people who would walk to the other side of the road and right past someone in need? Or do we stop and help people out of their ditches and love on them and let them see Jesus in us. (Okay…there was much more to his sermon – this is what really resonated with me). Are we, as Christians, telling people what they need or are we showing people Jesus in our actions and in our lives?
So – here is where these two parts of my world came together today. After having lunch and a tearful, tough goodbye to Dennie and Pat, Brian and I quietly came home – both kind of fighting tears (he may not admit that). I told him that I just feel helpless and that we need to do something for his dad and Pat. Maybe I could cook some dinners, maybe we could go do yard work or clean their house. Whatever!?!? I just felt like we needed to DO something. But why? Of course any or all of those things would be nice things to do – and I’m sure they would be appreciated and helpful to them. But those things were really about me. Why did I feel the need to just do and do and do? I guess because I don’t know what else there is…If I could run out and find a cure for this horrible disease, I would certainly do that. But I don’t know what else to do! And then I was reminded of this morning’s sermon…maybe I don’t need to necessarily DO….maybe I need to show. Perhaps what Dennie and Pat need the most right now is to be shown the love of Jesus. Maybe they need to see Him in the midst of our prayers and tears. Should we be showing them our belief that if it’s God’s will that he will heal Dennie. Can we show them God’s love for them through us in a prayer-filled visit?
As these words flow through me to this screen, I’m thinking – well isn’t helping them with daily chores a way of showing them Jesus? Can’t we be the hands and feet of Jesus through small acts of service? Yes – those are ways of showing love – but what if what they need is more than simple chores done around their house! To me that is showing – and doing out of love. But I think that sometimes there is more. Can we show them our faith through this storm by not wavering and by leaning in to God through these scary times? We can show them our worship and praise to a God whom we KNOW is bigger than any of this on earth. I believe that if we really need to DO something for them at this point, it should be by SHOWing them that we believe in our heavenly father and will follow him and trust in him to make all things good, so that he may be glorified.
Yesterday, we said farewell to our Pastor, Paul Mills, and wished him well as he and his family begin the next chapter in their journey. As I prepared for the service, I placed a travel pack of tissue in my pocket, and went easy of the application of my mascara. I assumed that there would be lots of tears as Pastor Paul spoke his “Last Words” (his final sermon series for us). I pictured a sorrowful service with tears and memories of the past 8 1/2 years of service. What I got instead was far different. I knew as the worship team started the first song that this service was not going to be about a sad farewell, but rather it was going to be a celebration. NOT celebrating the fact that we were losing (or getting rid of) our beloved Pastor. Celebrating all that God had done through him for our church family. Worship started with an upbeat song that was loud and happy…and it included the entire congregation jumping! It was an amazing display of God’s people jumping for joy and happiness. I was simply blown away by such joyful worship. The remaining worship was powerful (for lack of the right adjective to describe it). It was during this time of worship that, for me, the tears came. Not sad tears…but tears of peace and comfort. Tears that come from begin overwhelmed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It was incredibly moving. Worship truly speaks to me. Seeing a room packed full of people with hands raised to God fills me with peace. Hearing voices of all ages singing praises to our God fills my soul. Being so filled with the presence of God became so overwhelming to me that the emotions came out in the form of tears. And then – as if that were not enough for one day – Pastor Paul delivered a beautifully spoken message about love. His words were heart-felt, but not weepy. For a farewell sermon, I thought it was just wonderful. He combined some memories from the past with wishes and thoughts of our future with a new pastor. It made my heart happy to be there and to be a part of such a special service. It made me joyful to be a part of a church home. I am so thankful that I serve such a loving God who knows our needs so intimately, and fulfills them as he knows we can accept them and truly appreciate them. Brian and I had prayed for such a long time to find a church home. Not just a place to attend church…but a church home complete with a church family. After such an amazing service, I was overwhelmed with joy to belong to such a loving home, and a welcoming family. I am thankful to God for giving us somewhere we belong, and I am confident that God will guide our future as a church family as we welcome a new pastor.
As we pulled into the driveway and began to unload our bags, I already wanted to go back. Back to Happy Church, with its big yellow smiley-faced sign, and it’s peaceful setting, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of eastern Kentucky. But even more beautiful than the mountains are the people. It’s funny…I always say I’m not much of a “people person” but I do believe that God is changing me into one. And I am becoming attached to the very special people that I spent time with this weekend. God is pushing me out of my comfort zone and asking me to step out in faith. And I thank him immensely for the nudge. While in Breathitt County we got to visit with our friends Randy and Janet and meet new friends, Mike and Connie. They all work/serve at Happy Church and are all amazing, obedient people of God. We cooked out with some families from the community, sat around the campfire and sang songs and made s’mores, played cornhole, and just relaxed. And began to build some great relationships. Sunday morning Brian and I got the chance to lead worship and walked away so blessed from that experience. It was a spirit-filled time with new friends and with God truly moving in that place. In a county that is one of the poorest counties in the nation, there is so much pain and sorrow and hopelessness. But there is also so much to be Happy about, there are so many blessings and God is working through the lives of several dedicated servants. Children are hearing His word, they are signing songs of praise, they are learning to live their lives with His guidance, and they are being loved like Jesus would love. I’m praying tonight about what Brian and I can do to help in some way to support that Happy effort. I’m praying that God gives me a heart to love on people more every day. I’m praying for our friends in Breathitt County. And I’m praying a prayer of thanksgiving for our time there.