Profound Typos

Hey sisters!  Long time, no see.  I’m working from the church today to prepare for some teaching Saturday and Tuesday and thought I would take advantage of the wi-fi to visit a bit.  Obviously we still don’t have internet at the house but I’ve done some research and have about made a decision on the route we need to go.  I really thought we could function without a home connection but it’s hindering working from home in a bad way.  Hopefully soon!

So what’s been going on with you?  Life is crazy as usual in our neck of the woods.  My homegirls just went on our annual retreat at Shocco Springs (Birmingham area) and had a fabulous time of just being together.  I love these women like crazy and considering the year we’ve all had around here, we were overdue a couple of uninterrupted days to study and laugh and cry and pray with one another.  The Lord must be coming back soon and the danged devil is in overdrive because 2010 like to have killed most of us for one reason or another.  The seclusion of  the retreat center was a balm to our souls. ( Shocco was a wonderful host and if you are interested in all in using their facility for your next event, I have a 10% off coupon to use toward your registration once you book.  Just email me and I’ll send it to you.) 

Since blogging hasn’t been much of an option for me lately, I’ve taken to the Twitter more than usual.  The thing about my phone is that it likes to auto-correct my words which can be either mortifying or profound.  Just this week I was having a terrible time with our old cable company’s customer service and meant to type the phrase, “About to lose my religion with these cable people!”  (Notice I didn’t say lose my salvation but no theological debates here, please.  If you don’t know me by now, you will never ever ever know me…hoooo ooo ooooo)  Instead my phone auto-corrected me and it came out, “About to LIVE my religion with these cable people!”  When I read it before I tweeted (because I’ve learned my lesson on that) I was ashamed at myself (because I hadn’t lived it with the customer service agent I had just spoken with) so I just deleted the thing.  But that doesn’t mean I stopped thinking about it.

What if, in those moments we are about to lose our religion we live it instead?  That we would get to that point of explosion and rather than vomit rage we would be a geyser of grace?  That we would lay down our pride and get over ourselves for just a minute?  Luke has been preaching a series on revival and it’s eating my lunch.  One of the big issues I have faced this year is how to guard against bitterness when my family is maligned by those who have absolutely no clue what they are talking about.  My flesh tempts me to respond in kind because I’m so over it.  OVER IT.  But Jesus has reminded me so many times in my spirit, “Forgive them, for they no not what they do.”   I have to remember that the majority of people who lash out are doing it out of their own issues and that those have nothing to do with me at all. Hurt people hurt people.  So do I hurt them back?  No.  I reach out.  I entreat.  I apologize for any real or perceived offense.  If there is no response and they continue their angry tirade?  Well, then I love them with the cross in between us.  The end.

I don’t know if that means anything to you at all or if you find yourself at a similar crossroads of losing it or living it.  I would love to hear what you have to say on the matter. 

Have I mentioned I’ve missed talking with you?

A Tag Team Testimony

If you’ve been around here any length of time you’ve heard me talk about my friend, Josephine. We are an unlikely pair but this woman is knit into my soul like few other people. You really need to read here for the back story if you have no clue what I’m talking about. In fact, I insist that you go read it now! I promise you’ll get chill bumps.

A little history:

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This is a photo of the first day I met Josephine in 2007. She is on the far right with the gray hair and gray shirt.  She was a crack addict who often slept in the gutted apartments in this inner city housing project.

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Josephine was born again during our church’s mission work in her housing community. This is our reunion one year later in 2008 – still drug free and working the first full-time job she’d had in years. Doesn’t she look like a different woman than that first picture? That’s because she is!

josephine

This past summer. Community of Hope – the organization who hosts our work in Smiley Court – arranged for J. to be given a car so she wouldn’t have to rely on public transit for work. I’ve never seen anyone any more proud of a vehicle in my life.

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This past week I went to a fund-raising banquet for Community of Hope where the Director, Lou Ann Raughton, asked us to give a tag team testimony of how the Lord had brought us together and what He had done in Josephine’s life since then. Josephine had already spoken at the previous year’s banquet. Can you believe my girl went from smoking crack to speaking at banquets? Only God!

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J. acting silly with her beautiful granddaughter. All but one of Josephine’s daughters were with her at this dinner and the one who wasn’t lives in California. There wasn’t a dry eye when she shared how she used to steal from her girls to support her drug habit. What she said next sent me straight into the ugly cry. “My oldest daughter put me out because I stole from her too. What I’ve learned from Christ is that I don’t have to steal any more because He freely gives me everything I need.”   Profound.

It’s now been 2 1/2 years. Josephine is still drug-free and is working as both a restaurant hostess, and get this, at a church in a food/clothing pantry. She told me, “Lisa, they gave me a KEY! I’m moving up in this world, girl!”   Indeed, she is.

A couple of things I want to say:

1.  I’m not sure where your church is located but if you are considering a North American missions effort, Community of Hope in Montgomery, AL should be on the top of  your list of host organizations.  Most of y’all know I’m a Southern Baptist girl and proud to be.  One of the criticisms I hear about our denomination is that we strategize missions instead of doing missions.   That may be true in many cases but I can promise you that Lou Ann and her team are DOING the work of sharing the good news to those often overlooked by society.  Visit the link to learn more about their ministry and find out how you can help. 

2.  I am so proud of Josephine my heart threatens to burst out of my chest every time I see her.  She has Lou Ann and others around her for strength but she still battles those who would drag her back to her former way of life.  Would you consider leaving a comment here to encourage her?  She doesn’t have internet but I would love to print off this post and mail it to her so she can have a tangible sense of the pryers being offered for her when she is feeling weak.   

Y’all are fabulous!

Held

Yesterday, I had a phone conversation that will haunt me for the rest of my life. Some of our dearest friends on this planet, Bruce and Ruby Pritchard, lost their treasured 18 year old daughter Kaci in a tragic car accident. Dear God, I can barely type it. This family took us under their wings in our first pastorate in North Carolina and ministered to us much more than we ever did them. Most of you have a Kaci in your life – a vivacious young woman who loves family and Jesus and for whom the world is full of promise and opportunity. We love this child so much and to think she is gone is more than I can put my mind around. This is my favorite picture of her and the boys taken a few years back. There was never a darlin’ girl who enjoyed my kids so much. The affection was completely mutual.

My favorite devotional is called Daily Light for the Daily Path. It is simply a stringing together of like verses and my ritual is to pray through each of the scriptures each morning and then journal what resonates with me. Reading yesterday’s entry, He proved once again that His Word never falls upon us accidentally:

“God raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:6) Do not be afraid;…I am He who lives, and was dead. (Rev. 1:17-18) Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory. (John 17:24) For we are members of His body. (Eph. 5:30) He is the head of the body, the church , who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. You are complete in Him, who is head of all principality and power. (Colossians 2:10) As the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release from those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (Hebrews 2:14-15) This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this moral must put on immortality. Then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written; ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ Therefore my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor. 15:53-54, 58)

These words are balm and I would ask that you would pray them into the gaping wounds of this family and those who love them.

Also beyond coincidence, just two weeks ago I discovered Natalie Grant’s song, Held, on an old WOW cd I found in the car. Can you believe I’d never heard it? I’ve cried every single time it has played. Now, it not only speaks to my heart but from it.

Bruce and Ruby, Stephanie, Bryce, and Ryan, family and friends: We love you so much and grieve deeply with you. May the God of the Universe gently, tenderly hold you in the palm of His sovereign hand.

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