I love it down here. Time seems to stand still. I know it really doesn’t…time itself does move on, but the pace is so much slower. I have been coming to southern Kentucky since I was a boy. Both of my parents grew up here and we made several visits a year. Many of the trips I deemed as “boring” – oh I enjoyed playing with all the cousins but when they weren’t around things got awfully still. But now I relish the slower pace that I seem to find when I come. It’s 10 AM on the Saturday before the 4th of July…my family has been up for 2 hours. My cousins, with whom we are staying were in a bad accident 2 weeks ago so we are trying to be as quiet as we can so as not to disturb them. Still yet, sleeping until 8 o’clock is a big feat for me. A lot of it had to do with the basement – dark, cool, quiet…well, I am looking forward to spending time with my extended family this weekend. Kids are waking up…not quiet any more 🙂
Wow, what a month! I can’t be sure but this may go down as my busiest month ever! There are only 28 days! My last post I mentioned I was sick – well thanks to the vaccine shortage, I didn’t get my flu shot this year. But I DID get the flu – how convenient! I was in bed for a week! Tried to get out on Thursday of that week and it relapsed worse.
That Thursday night Michalie came and wanted to talk about becoming a Christian. So I put on my “I’m feeling better” face and we talked for about an hour and a half! What an awesome night! After we shared for about an hour about God’s love and our state of being lost and away from Him, we prayed and cried and she made the decision to be baptized! AWESOME!!!!! She wanted to invite grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles. It also happened to be “Children’s Ministry” Sunday that day…what an awesome feeling – to baptize your child into Christ!!! She’s yours Lord, she always has been…I am just trying to not mess her up while you’ve entrusted her to me:)
I stumbled around for a week getting ready for Winterfest – still with no energy and a huge cough!!! Winterfest was awesome! But my “flu” relapsed again!!! I had planned on taking some vacation time the week after anyway…but I didn’t plan on it being in bed!!! AGAIN!
We had a great weekend at NC. A very encouraging planning and vision weekend! Lots of good things going on here! God is definitely at work!
Well that is the last month in a nutshell –
God is definitely at work in my life…He’s grinding me through some things right now…maybe on the other side I can see what He had in mind 🙂 Isn’t that the way it always is…try as I might – I just can’t seem to get a hold on His perspective when I am going “through it”!
I was so tired and had taken on a cold. We had spent Friday night and most of the day Saturday, cleaning the house, cooking food and getting ready for the big birthday bash to honor Malachi and Maleah with all the grandmas, grandpas and cousins. After 3 or 4 hours the house was quiet, the party over and it was time to clean up – again! I have long contended that we should not waste our time cleaning up BEFORE folks come over, let’s just wait until after and do all of the cleaning then. Lee Ann has never bought into that. So finally, about 11 PM my head hit the pillow.
Sunday morning, the alarm clock sounded and even though it was the time I had set, it seemed way too early! My head was pounding and my chest heavy with cold now. I had a small inkling of staying home in bed. After a hot shower, I was feeling better. It soon became apparent that the kids were not going to make it to early service without getting them up and they had had a busy weekend so we decided to let them sleep in. I went on to the building for early service since I had a meeting scheduled for late service.
The morning was fairly uneventful, just people paying for Winterfest and making Honduras deposits but nothing out of the ordinary. We had a lot of visitors and I try to meet them all – especially the ones with teens – a difficult task with two services and so much going on. I had an encouraging meeting with a family that we have been close to since the day we moved here 12 years ago! Then I went to what was left of late service to sit with my wife. At the end of services a young lady (teen) who has been visiting made a bee-line for the front. In fact I almost missed her, she was going so fast. Lee Ann and I went to the front to be with her – she had been studying and wanted to be baptized! Lee Ann had been able to connect with her through a Sr. High girls class last quarter and was able to develop a bit of a relationship with her. (side note: I have an awesome wife who is far better at youth ministry than I could ever hope to be).
After getting ready, I helped her into the water. As she swung around, she looked at me with tears flowing down her cheek and said, “I am deathly afraid of water!” So I talked to her for a moment and then addressed the congregation and took her confession. I started to lift her arms and lean her back and she went stiff as a board! Uh oh…so I stopped and tried to reassure her. Nothing doing – when she said “deathly afraid”, she meant “terrified!” After what seemed like 10 minutes (I’m pretty sure it wasn’t more than a minute or so) she relaxed just enough. We were both soaked 🙂 but it was awesome. A huge hug and an awesome smile from this young lady who has been through so much in her short lifetime. The very act of being baptized tested this young lady’s faith. That’s why she had bolted for the front…she was resolved to do it and didn’t want anything to hold her back any more. She knew God’s calling in her life and knew that unless she laid down her fear, she could not be in full submission to Him!
Many of us are fortunate – we do not struggle with the fear of water – so the “walk of faith” has not been so dramatic. I can’t help but wonder how many people keep their lesser-seen fears from letting them do the right thing.
It had only been 4 or 5 hours since Maleah had received her cat for an early birthday present. She had it in her room playing and I walked in. She was holding the kitten tightly against her chest and she looked up at me and said, “Daddy, this is the third best day in my life”. I was a bit puzzled. You mean I had gone to all this trouble and expense of getting this thing and surprising her with the one thing that she had repeatedly asked for since she could talk and it only ranked third!!! I had been outdone by some Polly-Pocket or other goofy toy – I should have just gone to McDonalds to get a Happy Meal!
Fortunately, my external reaction was a bit more subdued. I knelt down and and said, “The third best day of your life, Maleah?”
As she pet Sadie (that’s the kitten’s name) on the head and under the chin – it’s so small both can be done at once, she looked me in the eye and said “My first best day will be when I get to heaven, and my second best day will be when I get married, so my third best day is today.” I kept my composure long enough to reaffirm her priorities and walk out of the room. Then I wept.
I did get that chance to be quiet! Usually when I do something that I like to go away. To a cabin in the woods, a walk on the beach, a weekend away. It was too cold to go to the cabin, to far to go to beach and I just didn’t have the time to get away. So I sat in the chair…just the little chair in the corner. I read a little, prayed a little and listened a lot. God is faithful, he answers our prayers – not always as clearly and decisively as I would like – but he does answer.
God is on the move…do you hear Him? Well, you may not…there are times when I don’t. Often more times than I care to confess, I am deaf to his moving in my life. But this past week in my life, this past week it has been unmistakable. Loud, thunderous movement – problem – I can’t tell from which direction. I have prayed and prayed, thought and pondered, sought advice and counsel but still nothing clear.
1 Kings 19:11 “Go out and stand before me on the mountain,” the Lord told him. And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. ”
I think I know the problem. It’s the same problem I have faced for most of my Christian life. I just can’t remember to be quiet on the front end. Usually after I struggle a while, I remember. Why can’t I learn that lesson?
“God, do you not hear me? Why will you not answer my prayers?” Don’t get me wrong…life is going pretty good right now. My Walk is good. My marriage is awesome. My kids are great. I love being a youth minister. “So what is it?”, one might ask. Well, I don’t know. God is moving, he’s getting ready to do something in my life. I can’t tell you if it will be visible externally or if the call will be an internal one. I can’t tell you what that is right now, but I think I will do what I’ve needed to do for quite some time – Just listen for a while.
“Be still, and know that I am God” – Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
It’s a long story. Ever since she could talk, Maleah has wanted a kitten. “Maleah, what do you want for Christmas, Maleah, what do you want for your birthday?” The answer has been the same for seven or eight years now….”A kitten – that’s all I want.” Our reply has been the same for that time as well – “What would be next on your list!”
I have done the cat thing most of my life. I was a little boy when I first got Butter, then Samson, Merlin then my sister got Abbey then Chiena and when I married Lee Ann we brought Chelsea to live with us. I love cats but when we started having kids…yikes we could barely get them fed! We had a dog, a Lhaso Apso – she was our first baby. We got her when we first moved back to Indy. That’s been a full twelve years…Brandi is still with us, she is spoiled rotten. We tried to hold them off with a pet rock, then we moved to hermit crabs and fish.
Well, we finally gave in. Maleah’s birthday is at the end of February. She will be eight. We combined the family birthday gathering with Malachi’s, who will be three at the beginning of February. We were going to give it to her then, but we found it early. A little gray tabby with a white chin and chest. It looks like have the stuffed ones on her shelf. To make a longer story shorter – we had to hide it for two days – not an easy feat! That may be another blog! We moved it up a week. We didn’t think we could hide it for nearly 10 days! So we invited grandmas and grandpas up for breakfast and gave it to her this morning! I don’t know who was more excited us or Maleah. It was cool.
I thought about Matthew 7 – “Keep on asking, and you will be given what you ask for. Keep on looking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened. 8 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And the door is opened to everyone who knocks. 9 You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” (NLT)
I thought about my relationship with God – he just can’t wait to give me good things! Wow – he’s my Father. As much as I loved going through the process of giving Maleah the “kitten”, Sadie is nothing compared to what God wants to give me! I love to see my children smile, who am I to think that God wants anything less for his child.
Last night, I was putting Maleah to bed. She is our middle child, the most introspective and thoughtful of my 3 children (at least at this point). I was kissing her good night and saying prayers. She was trying to decide which stuffed animal she wanted to take to bed with her. She finally picked one called it by name and said, “Dad, tomorrow night I will sleep with (I can’t remember any of the names), then (another name)” and went on and on until she had named every stuffed animal on her shelves – believe me this was no small task. She has an 8 foot shelf full of stuffed, fury friends! As she went through every name I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that God knows me just as well – actually more so. He can call my name and know everything about me and wants me to know Him. Pretty humbling – the Creator – knows me.