She Facebooked her Friends and said “Rejoice with Me!…

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…for I have found the piece which was lost!”

Several sisters have asked about the lost dress. Facebook can be a huge umbrella of encouragement even in the mundane.  I know life’s not all about finding Cindy Colley’s heirloom dress, of all things, but I was truly humbled and amazed that so many of you cheered us on as we searched for and found a little dress that I very much wanted to put on BabyG2 next September.  Hundreds of you (literally) and many that I’ve never met have been the sweetest sisters a woman could ever have. I love Facebook for giving your encouragement to me. 

The dress was deep in a closet at Hannah’s (my daughter’s) house. It was in a garment bag hiding behind her wedding dress, which was in the back of that closet in another very huge garment bag. The funny thing was, I had everyone looking for a pink box in which I’d originally wrapped that dress for the gender reveal two years ago…the gender reveal that turned out to be for a boy. Thus, the dress was never opened at the reveal. 

What I had forgotten was that the dress had been removed from the box and used as an illustration at a ladies day in Middle Tennessee a few months after that reveal…the very weekend, in fact, that Ezra was due. (Thus the reason it never got out of my car at my house….It just went straight to Hannah’s house and got hung in a closet there because hospital luggage is not conducive to dress preservation.) That’s just where Facebook became very helpful. You found out I was looking and three of you remembered the dress. You identified where you saw it and the garment bag in which it had left the church building at East Main. In turn, I told my son Caleb (via his Facebook page) to stop looking for a box and start looking for a garment bag. Truth be told, I don’t think he’d done a whole lot of looking for either. (He’s a good egg, though.) But Hannah, being the faithful Facebook follower that she is, immediately saw that post about looking for garment bags. She had moved all the hanging clothes in that closet more than once, laid them on the bed and searched the back of that closet for a box. But this time, she rushed home and actually looked through those clothes she’d been moving  back and forth. She looked for a black garment bag. She found the dress and tried to call me…twice. Unable to reach me, she called her Daddy, who got in the car and drove across town with photos on his phone to spread the cheer.

When he walked in the kitchen door in the middle of last Tuesday, I was surprised to see him. 

“What would you give a man…?” he began. 

“You found my dress??!!”

“I think so. But what would you give a man?…Is this the dress?” He offered his phone and a series of photos.

“You found my dress!!!!” 

“Yes and you should call your daughter on that phone that I don’t even know why I pay for.…She wants to hear from you.”

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There are always lessons, of course. Here they are:

  1. If Facebook can find a lost dress, surely we can connect some dots and find some lost souls, too. Facebook is a more personal and encompassing kind of outreach than email or USPS. It’s the kind of networking in which you never know if a click that posts or comments may be the click that does click with some lost soul and opens a door to a relationship, a study, an invitation that could result in a saved soul.
  2. Facebook is a neutral commodity. You get to decide whether your use of it is for the Lord or for the devil. Now, finding a dress is not a work of the Lord. But encouraging each other, as Facebook friends did (and do regularly for me) through this medium, is a great way to get the most good out of something the devil loves to control.
  3. You’re never going to find what you’re looking for if you’re looking where it’s not. That dress was not in all those absurd places (like on top of way-up-there kitchen cabinet and in overflowing trunks where I would have never crushed that batiste and damp basement corners) where I was looking. Sometimes life is like that. We can’t find contentment. We look in all those hard-to-do absurd places instead of the obvious place where the “owner” of truth has put it in the first place. 
  4. You may be own, be picking up, carrying, and moving about the answer to all your dilemmas. But until you recognize that, open it up and really look inside, you won’t find what you’re looking for. Hannah did that with that garment bag. She moved it over and over as she looked other places, to no avail. That’s what we do with our Bibles. We lay them on the table beside our beds. We pick them back up and take them to worship. Sometimes we move them back and forth and back and forth without ever really opening and examining them. We move the book, but we don’t meditate on it, memorize it or mark it. There are many people who own a Bible but do not own truth. It’s very important that we show our kids the difference. The Bible is not a lucky amulet. It’s what’s inside that can bring us joy. But that joy exists for me only when what’s inside the book gets inside of me. Hannah had a garment bag that she was transferring mindlessly back and forth, while what was inside eluded us all. 
  5. Some people are so close to what they really want, but just not quite there. Jesus told a scribe as much in Mark 12:34. “You are not far from the kingdom,” Jesus said. I have many friends who are close to the kingdom. I hurt for them because, of  course, being close to the kingdom of God is not enough. Hannah was near that dress we were hunting each time we talked about it on the phone. It was sometimes right there in the same room with her. Close is not good enough. We have to give people the information they need to identify that for which they search. 
  6. Some news is so good, you want to personally deliver it. I love that about my husband. He loves to bring joy…not just to me, but to everyone in all circumstances. We have the very best news of all. When we understand the wretchedness of that from which the good news— the gospel—rescues people, we can’t be stopped. We are going to those people. We will move heaven and earth to reach them with the good news. In fact Heaven has already moved that they might have this good news. It’s up to us to make the move on earth. We simply must. We are going to tell them that we’ve found that for which they are searching. 

Sister to Sister Holiday Archives: There Arose Such a Clatter

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The past week has held some devastating news and sorrowful days for several different families I know in the family of God. Because we live in a world that has fallen to sin, we will suffer the pain of sickness, disease, disaster and death. But, because we live in a world that has been visited by the Savior, we can also experience redemption, grace, hope and eternal life. While the storms come, we have shelter and protection. We are safe in  the house of our Father. We should remember the great hope that sustains us every day. But it’s in the times of sorrow that I find the heart to praise Him most for the realization that this world is not my home and this life is not all there is. Here’s a reminder from another holiday season.

 

There Arose Such a Clatter

 

It was a shocker, alright. It was in the very early hours of Christmas morning when the huge, noise that shook the house abruptly woke up the neighborhood. Glenn looked at me with terror in his eyes and then ran into the room where Hannah was sleeping. He “sprang from his bed to see what was the matter.” I heard him mutter something about a bomb as he ran out of the room. The last time I had heard a noise like that had been many years ago when a big trash truck had bolted over a curb and into our house (but that’s another story for another post). The kids were both okay and, on investigation, we found that, this time, a huge part of a tree had fallen on the house. There was damage, but safety for all. 

Later in the day, the kids and I were talking about how their dad reacts to unknown perceived threats.  He inhales hugely! (BIG gasp that’s a little funny on reflection). Then he runs (dressed or not) to wherever his kids are. The amazing thing was that his reaction was just the same when they are twenty-something as it was when they were 2 and 6. He instinctively runs to his children. Their safety and protection are his only immediate concern. While we were talking about this, Hannah said she could remember one occasion, as a child, when a bumblebee woke her up buzzing around her head. She said, “I was scared of that noise in the dark, I cried out and immediately heard Dad’s footsteps–loud running footsteps– as he ran into my room and took me in His arms. Then he killed that bee. Anytime I yelled in the night, he was right there, right then.”

I think every child who has a good father remembers what it felt like to be in his arms. I remember pretending I was asleep in the back of our station wagon when I was a child just so my daddy would carry me in the house. Ultimate protection, strength and safety were wrapped all around me.

That’s what God does. The Bible describes our God as “a very present help in time of trouble” (Psa.46:1). He’s right there, right then.  He is the Father who pities His children (Psa.103:13), and hears their cries (Psa 34:17). He is the one who offers His help to His people “right early” (Psa.46:5). Deuteronomy thirty-three, verse twenty-seven says he puts his everlasting arms beneath us.

Let me assure you, even if you’ve never felt the need to cry out to your Father or to feel his arms beneath you, there will come a time when a huge clatter will arise in your life. You will look in horror at the prospects before you and you will desperately want to cry out to Him.  Are you secure in the house of the Father? Will he hasten to your side when you cry? If not, will you contact me and let me help you find that security? I wish this safety for every reader.

Sister to Sister: Intruder in the Night

th-2Footsteps in the night. It was this last Friday night at 1:30 a.m.  Glenn had locked all the doors tightly before we retired. Something was terribly wrong. The footsteps were a bit muffled, but they were clearly the sound of a human intruder.

My heart skipped a beat as I turned to Glenn and quietly said “What WAS that?” He was already half-way over to the drawer where the pistol is kept. Rushing back over to the bedside to throw on more clothes (after all, you don’t want to be immodest when you appear before the thug who is probably going to kill you), he said, in a voice that signaled his rush of adrenalin, “It  sounds an awful lot like footsteps.  And it did…and it was still happening…and sometimes it sounded as if they were in the kitchen, right beside our bedroom door, which was already slightly ajar.

“Yes it does,” I replied, still in disbelief. I had never been afraid in this house. But this was NOT our normal autumn squirrel in the attic.

Glenn stole over to the bedroom door, and standing behind it, gun in hand, he peeked out into the kitchen. Someone was out there. Now there was no denying it. Moving shadows, shuffling, the kitchen door ajar. I heard the metal-to-metal sound as my husband pulled back the slide and threw a round into the chamber. I could not believe this was happening. The bullet was in the barrel.

In a stunned moment of panic, I said “Don’t shoot Gideon!” I mean, what IF one of those little boys who are temporarily living in our back-yard cabin had been sleep-walking or even pranking someone and had wandered into the house in the middle of the night?

Then it all happened. I was lying there replaying the last moments we had spent together through the day and thinking, “This could be for real. My husband may die. I will have to find some way to make it without him for a time. But I will see him again. ”

Glenn stepped over the threshold into the kitchen, a moment of shuffling as the gun was being raised and the perpetrator looked him in the eye. My husband’s shout was piercing. “Caleb!”…It’s you!”

Moments later, after the “Mommm!!!..Why did you not tell Dad that I was coming home tonight?”  and after we all realized that he, indeed, had told me, albeit weeks ago (and that’s way too long ago for my shorter-all the-time term memory), we crawled back into bed.

Glenn was still trembling, as he put his arms around me. “I almost shot my son. I almost shot Caleb,” he said. “I am so thankful that I paused for one split second to discern who he was. I did not know that I would do that…And those silly lights of yours in the kitchen (He was talking about rope lights that line the top of my pantries; lights that we only have because he’s conceded to the decorator in me.)…if it were not for those lights I probably would have shot before knowing it was him. I’m so glad we have those lights. Someone…no, everyone, in this house could be deeply harmed.”

“I know,”  I said…”Life, as we know it, could have been forever-and-ever irreparably changed. We are so very, very blessed…unspeakably blessed.”

Then he said this: “I just kept repeating in my mind as I stood behind that door…’There is no one who has the right to be in here. No one has my permission. No one has the right to be here.’ But, of course, I was not thinking of my son.”

Then we prayed—a deep emotional prayer of thanksgiving and praise. I cried. And somewhere in the moments just before dawn, we finally fell asleep again. I think, for me, it was around 4 a.m. Even now, 36 hours after that panicked awakening, it still does something to my body to recall it.

There are some take-aways in every painful recollection. Lest you think the lessons are about gun safety—even gun control–please know that we are extremely careful with firearms in our house and we are also pretty convinced that the world, in general, is safer, when citizens have the right to bear arms. The lessons for me are practical and spiritual truths, about which I am keenly reminded as I treasure the relationship I have with the man who will always be my child—my firstborn. I think when he walks down the aisle next month to be married I will drink a little more deeply in the joy of imagining his future and bask a little more thankfully in the realization that he and his bride will have precious time together in this venture we call “life”.

The take-aways for me:

  1. The first is the obvious one. We should all be prepared to lose our loved ones to eternity at any point in time. The part of that last phrase-“in time” is not just rhetoric. If it’s a point “in time”, it’s fleeting. It’s a point that you can identify by a date, hour, minute and second, but, by the time you do, it’s as far away as if you’d never marked it. Gone. But, when we say “a point in time” we really are deferring to eternity. Have you ever thought about the fact that there are no “points” in eternity? A realm so far beyond our grasp of imagination or reason and yet only a heartbeat away for any of us! For the Christian, that’s the adventure of living. It’s getting ready to be forever whisked out of this world and into one beyond the scope of human thought. It’s not just getting ready, but it’s also “being ready”. It’s sometimes, in the panics of life, still being able to know “It is well with my soul.”
  2. I should write things down when they are appointments I am making weeks ahead of time. (I should write things down when they are the next day.) Old people like me are not mentally invincible. Not even close. And, sometimes, that matters. (The silver cord may be snapping or the golden bowl being broken [Ecc. 12:6]) I should write things down.
  3. Pausing for discernment can be a really good thing before big irreversible decisions.
  4. Light is invaluable. It illuminates truth. If we walk in darkness, we stumble and we do not know where we are going (I John 2:10,11). We do not properly assess danger and we do not properly protect  what is good. Psalm 89:15 says “Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O LORD, in the light of thy countenance.”  A little light in the darkness kept Glenn from pulling that trigger. It was a joyful sound when I heard him shout “Caleb!” But the illumination that comes from the light of the world keeps us from eternal hell (John 8:12). That’s real joy.
  5. The son has the right. Glenn just kept saying, “No one has the right to be in my house!” But the son had the right. Caleb has full access to us at any time—complete and absolute access. In the same way, no one has the right to the Father’s house. There is nothing I could ever do that would gain my entry into that house where there is warmth, security, peace and salvation. But the Son? He has the right. And because He is the great Intercessor, he has unlocked the doors for me (Matthew 16:15, 16). Because of the Son, I have gained entry and full access to the throne of the Father. He has the right and I am so very thankful.
  6. Thanksgiving is not the holiday of the week for the Colleys. It is the mantra of the last few days. I pray that our family will live every day in thanksgiving; not just for amazing blessings like the sparing of our son’s life in that surreal moment in the kitchen Friday night, but, most of all, for the Son, who has the right to be in the Father’s house.

 

“I Am Going to Do That One Day, God Willing”

what-are-you-waiting-forMy first phone text of the new year was to a friend who has not yet obeyed Christ. She’d messaged me to wish me a happy New Year full of many blessings and to say that she loves me. I messaged her back reciprocating good wishes and then added that my wish for her for the new year is her obedience to the gospel.

See, my friend knows what to do to be saved. We’ve studied that over and over and she understands. So I encouraged her to stop putting off this important decision.

My friend has a preschool child. So I appealed to her regarding her daughter’s need to have godly maternal guidance in the formative years.

She attends only sporadically, but is always enthusiastic and engaged in worship. Her husband recently even attended with her and is beginning to show interest in the church.

After encouraging her to be baptized into Christ, I simply asked my friend, “So, why are you waiting?”

Her response was “I am going to do that one day, God willing.”

That response reflects a huge misunderstanding of scripture. Our obedience is never contingent on God’s willingness for us to obey and be saved. A man’s salvation hinges on His own will. God is always willing.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17)

And again: The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9)

I’m not sure my friend really understood the weight of her statement. I think she surely knows that her washing is not waiting on the consent of the Lord. But there are many in today’s religious world who do believe just that. Many of my friends don’t believe that salvation is available to everyone; it’s only for those who are divinely chosen. Some believe that a person must be directly called in some extra-Biblical way before being saved. Others believe that God shows his acceptance and blesses a person with his saving grace only when he “prays through” and feels some kind of “amazing peace and bliss.” These common beliefs are all commensurate with my friend’s statement. “I am going to obey, one day, God willing.”

So I texted her back “God IS willing. I am going to pray that you see your desperate need for the washing that comes when you contact the blood of His Son.”

Is there a reader today who is beginning 2014 outside of Jesus? If so, you have a desperate need. Are you waiting for the Lord to “call” you to be part of his church? If so, may I encourage you to contact me at byhcontest@gmail.com? I would love to talk to you about the invitation that has already been extended to you—an invitation to enjoy the forgiveness and hope that is found only in Jesus. 2014 can be the year in which you are saved…the year in which you decide to be in heaven for eternity. God wills to save you. But YOU will determine whether or not He does.

Merry Memories Countdown: #3

While We Were yet Sinners

Sometimes during the holiday season, we’re blessed to hear praise for the Savior in a much more public forum than at other times of the year. While I know that Jesus’ incarnation deserves no more glory and praise in December than at any other time of the year, I find myself being very thankful that there is any time of year in our secular society when more people take the time to think about that baby in the manger. Mostly, I find myself wishing that these same people would flex the mental and emotional muscles that are required to really contemplate the grown-up Jesus–the one who taught the difficult sayings of Matthew 23 and Matthew 19; the one who gave us the keys to the kingdom that’s eternal in Matthew 16.

I heard this song emanating from a popular radio station a couple of days ago. I looked up the lyrics–words of poetry from the perspective of the wise men. These are the kinds of words that you just have to wish were not once-a-year sentiments for typical people in “christendom” today. There really is only one God who poured out His heart for unthankful and unholy people. While we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). May we step up for the King who stepped down–every day of every year. May we remember that his incarnation is not just about a manger in Bethlehem. In fact the “good news” is his death, burial and resurrection (I Cor. 15:1-6). May we learn, in the process of becoming thankful, how to become holy. And may we be willing to make the difficult daily decisions required to follow the Savior back to the Father. So many will give Him a nod of recognition this weekend, almost as if greeting an acquaintance at an annual business convention. Then He will be relegated to his eleven months of practical irrelevance. For those who know ABOUT Him, but who do not know HIM, judgement will be severe, for with knowledge comes responsibility. Finding comes from seeking, receiving from asking and open doors from knocking.

I want to claim more than a place in “christendom.” I want to be in Christ. Can I help you give Him the relevance He requires in your life during the next year? It’s my prayer that, through this blog, there may be one woman who finds the gospel–the good news for every day of every year–in 2012.

How Many Kings?
How many kings, stepped down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
How many Gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that has torn all apart?
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?
Only one did that for me.

Composer: MARC MARTEL / JASON GERMAIN
Copyright:   2008 Centricity Music Publishing/ Downhere Publishing (ASCAP)