Month: July 2016

power of one word

Maneuvering the hallway lined with perfectly polished women, I keep my eyes downcast. Grasping my welcome bag and holding back tears, I rush into my hiding place: the ladies restroom. Why am I here? I must be crazy. Dabbing at my eyes, I catch my reflection in the mirror.  Good grief! Look at me!  My yard-sale find, a brown sweater, stares back at me reinforcing my unworthiness. As the tears begin again, I know only two things :  I do not have enough tissues and I do not belong here.

Attending a women’s conference in Charlotte, North Carolina seemed like a good idea six months ago.  Now, I am questioning my sanity and decision-making ability as I sink deeper into  yard-sale-girl-crying-in-the-bathroom-alone.  Staying here will only keep me locked in this dark and sad place feeding on the enemy’s lies.  Another woman, not wearing a yard-sale sweater, will eventually need to use the restroom.  Leaving my make-shift sanctuary is my only viable option.

Trying to re-establish my composure, I realize I need to do something, anything. A comfortable and familiar activity pops into my mind: eating! Yes, I will find something to eat. After making several wrong turns in the massive conference center, the lunch buffet for attendees comes into view. Choosing a table away from the chattering crowd, I engage my cloaking device for invisibility.  By burying my head in the thick conference notebook, I play invisible. However,  I am thankful my soda glass is not hidden as the kind staff continually fills it to the brim.  But then…

Hello.

One word. Just one word causes me to lift my head.

One word and I reach out to grab God’s life-line.

One word and I am looking into the eyes of a lady who is also searching and alone.

My new friend takes the seat across from me and begins chatting away in a lovely southern drawl. We easily slip and slide into each other’s life. We share. We laugh. We cry. We contemplate dessert choices and decide to get both.

One word. With one word, I am no longer alone.  With one word, I gain a lunch partner, a conference buddy, and a new friend.

My friend was brave to offer me one word; I want to be brave and offer one words freely to others. A simple one word like Hello. But maybe those who cross my daily path  need to hear the one word, Thanks, more generously.  My family needs to hear more often the healing one word, Sorry.

It is amazing how much meaning and power there is behind one word. But the greatest and most disarming one word of all is the name of Jesus. I want to be brave to offer ‘Jesus’  to someone who needs to hear this saving one word. I need to offer it to those outside of my church, small group, and safe places.  Maybe someone you know needs to hear the most important one word,  Jesus.

By myself I have sworn,
my mouth has uttered in all integrity
a word that will not be revoked:
Before me every knee will bow;
by me every tongue will swear. Isaiah 45:23 NIV

Only one word will cause others to lift their heads.

Only one word will offer a  life-line to someone who desperately needs it.

Let’s Walk Worthy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pray like it matters

While in Tanzania, my itinerary included a visit to the country office on Friday morning.  As we drove toward the office, my guide informed me that Friday was prayer day. He said it with an enthusiastic anticipation that I usually reserve for a planned shopping trip with dinner and ice cream afterwards. He knew what was coming and he was looking forward to it.

Compassion International battles poverty in 26 countries, working through 26 unique in-country offices. So on Friday morning, we headed to Tanzania’s country office which is located in the city of Arusha.  The plan was to join the staff for morning devotions before heading out to visit a Compassion Center nearby.

The Compassion staff gathers for devotions every morning. However, Friday mornings are special because they are devoted to prayer. So after a time of worshipping God through singing, we got busy praying.  We prayed and then we prayed some more.  We prayed corporately and we prayed privately as some of the Staff sought a quiet place in the room.  Some prayed standing, some kneeling. We paired off and prayed with a partner. If there was a way to pray; we found it and we prayed!

During corporate prayer, we prayed for a country where Compassion is currently serving approximately 137,000 children. This country is facing questions from the government about their program. Will Compassion be asked to leave this country? What would become of the children? Such heavy burdens.

We  prayed for the sponsors. Yep, we prayed for you and me (if you are a sponsor). I was humbled. Then these questions popped into my brain: Why are you praying for me?  Why are you praying for sponsors?  None of us live in or near extreme poverty that exists right outside this office door.  That didn’t matter. I was prayed for and all the sponsors were prayed for.

When it was time to pray with a partner, I looked around for my guide. Partnering and praying with my guide seemed like a comfortable choice. But he had moved to the back of the room during the private prayer time. Nearby, a tall lady with a warm smile looked my way. Yes, let’s pray together. So we stood, faced each other and joined hands.  And we prayed. IMG_9568

What struck me most was how she prayed; how everyone in that room prayed. They prayed like it mattered. They prayed like they knew God was in the room, standing amongst us.  They prayed boldly and with authority.  They prayed like they knew their prayers made a difference. They prayed like they knew God was actually listening.

They rocked my prayer world.  Do I pray like it matters? Not usually. Do I pray expecting God to answer? Uh….maybe sometimes.

Sadly, I have to admit that my approach to prayer is very vanilla and lightweight.  When I take the time to pray, I lob softballs to God. I use the excuse that I am just too busy to really pray. But I make time to check Facebook and play cookie jam on my phone. That must make God sad too.

Recalling that day, I realize what an honor and privilege it was to spend time in prayer with my Tanzanian brothers and sisters. They taught me so much as they demonstrated how important prayer is to them and their work. They know they serve a Big God and they talk with Him openly and honestly – like it matters.

A little bit of Heaven moved that Friday morning because God was listening.

Pray like it matters, because it does.

 

Let’s Walk Worthy!

photo credit: dailyverses.net

 

 

The Collector

The  room is filled with the most beautiful  bottles you can imagine. Various shapes and sizes; all sealed with elaborate stoppers, not inexpensive twist-tops. They stand side by side, filling shelf after shelf. The shelves encircle the room  floor to ceiling. There are too many to count! The bottles are transparent enough to see that they are filled to the top; each and every one of them.IMG_9474

The door opens and the Collector enters. He has come for another bottle. Upon entering the room, His Brilliance illuminates everything inside. You and I would need to shield our eyes from the intensity, but the Collector carries on with His work unfazed. In one hand, He carries a book.  His other hand is closed tightly, like He is protecting something precious.  Approaching the bottles, He places the book aside for a moment.  His attention is on a particular bottle as He lifts off the stopper. He moves about slowly; His mood appears somber.  What could cause the Collector to be sorrowful?

 

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Then the Collector raises His hand above the bottle and releases its contents. Out of His hand and into the bottle pours a steady stream of a sparkling but clear liquid. The Collector studies the flow as if He recognizes each individual droplet. As He closes the bottle, He slowly bows His head. Gradually, He brings the bottle up to eye level and with a tilt of His head, nods, as if to say He understands.

         You keep track of all my sorrows.

        You have collected all my tears in your bottle. Psalm 56:8

The Collector then turns His attention to the thick book. He flips through the worn and yellowed pages revealing line after line of entries.  Using only the tip of His finger, He goes about recording this new entry.

Date: May 31, 2016   The tears collected saying goodbye to Jackline.

I remember that day! At the end of our special day together, Jackline and I both cried. I brushed away her tears as my own tears rapidly fell. There were so many of them; it was a busy day for the Collector.  He helped me to my feet when I thought it would be impossible to stand. He was there; gathering all those tears into His loving hands. I remember my deep sadness. IMG_8075

The Collector pauses and flips back several pages.

His book reveals numerous entries during September 1993 and November 2000. Yes, many bottles were filled during those seasons. Entry: Parents’ Home-Going

          You have recorded each one in your book.  Psalm 56:8

Again, the Collector pauses; He remembers too.

As He surveys the room, He can recall each time He has entered this room and filled another bottle with my tears. Tears from the dark days.  Tears following harsh words and unkind actions. Tears brought on by death and life. Tears collected when I thought no one else was around. But the Collector was always there. I was never alone when my tears fell. They were gathered into the caring hands of the Collector.

One day, “He will wipe every tear from my eye. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. ” Revelation 21:4 (NIV)

And all those beautiful bottles will be empty.

Let’s Walk Worthy!