Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Touched by an Angel

Over the weekend I had a chance to help feed over 400 homeless people in downtown Columbia. And while I could probably write for days about what I saw and experienced and the people whose lives touched me, probably the two people who had the greatest impact on me weren't homeless.  Nor were they part of the group from my church that was down there serving.  Honestly, I'm completely convinced, they were


And not your typical angels either.  They didn't come floating in with wings.  There were no halos or long flowing white clothes.  Rather they drove up in a completely pimped out Lexus:  heavily tinted windows, chrome wheels, laser lights and LOUD music.  

Angels, I'm telling ya.

They parked close to the area where we were setting up and I just happened to be the closest person to them.  When they got out, I must admit, I was scared.  For those of you who may not know this, I lived in the highest crime rated section of Orange County, FL, for several years (by choice, FYI).  Drug dealers, prostitutes, homeless folks and the like were the norm in front of our house.  After the first month or so, gun fire no longer made me flinch.  These two men, however, terrified me.  I instinctively moved to the closest male person I could find for protection - so what if it was a short little Asian man with no teeth.  I was scared.

They stood by their car for a few moments, looking like they were checking out lay of the land, then walked around to the back of the car and opened the trunk.  Everyone had stopped what they were doing and, as if we had practiced, we all took two steps back. 


All eyes were focused on these two men.  No one moved for what seemed like an eternity.  The only sound was the music coming from their car.  Finally the men walked out from behind their car caring the largest roasted turkey I've ever seen.  They brought them over to where we were, set them down and went back for more.  For the next 10 minutes these two men kept bringing out more and more food.  Easily tripling what we already had.  They had turkey, ham, numerous casseroles, and it just kept coming. 


When they were done, they stood on the edge of the crowd (none of us had moved), told us thank you for what we were doing and that they loved us.  They turned, got back in their car and sped off.  Three hours later when we had fed everyone and had virtually no leftovers, someone remarked, had it not been for those two men, we would have never had enough food.  We wouldn’t have even come close.  But because of those two strangers, not one person left there hungry.


"Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained
angels without realizing it!"  (Hebrews 13:2)

I admit I wasn't very hospitable to those men.  And I learned my lesson.  I am completely convinced that they were angels.  No one knew them.  Even the guy who organized all the food and donations had no idea who they were.  They came.  They gave.  They left.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Everyone Needs Hope

Everyone should have Hope in their life.  I love this girl.  She is such a blessing to me.  The tears and joy this card brought to my life is beyond description.

Thank you, God, for creating such an amazing, beautiful and wonderful creature.  Thank you for allowing me to play a tiny role in her life.

Happy Monday, y'all.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It's All In The Preparation

I love Christmas.  I don’t mean I think it’s a cool time of year and I enjoy it, I mean I L.O.V.E. CHRISTMAS.  The sights, smells, music, weather, lights, food – you name it, I love it.
Love it.
Right about now, I start getting my house ready to be consumed by the joyous day.  I wash my mom’s china and pack it away to make room for my Christmas china (yes, I have Christmas china!).  All of my normal chatski stuff is given a good dusting/cleaning and put away until January 1.  I clean, wash, rearrange, condense, make lists, check those websites that leak the Black Friday ads, start playing Christmas music (actually that started November 1) and basically spend the middle two weeks of November getting ready to usher in the most wonderful time of the year.
Love it, I tell ya!
This morning as I was trying to squeeze 1 more minute of packing my mom’s china away before I had to stop to have my quiet time, it hit me… I spend more time PREPARING to decorate my house for Christmas than I do PREPARING to fellowship with my Lord.  My preparation is usually something like this, “Father God, forgive me of my sins.  Give me….. Bless me… Help me… Amen.”
Excuse me?
Over the past week I’ve read in several places by a few different authors the importance of us Christians confessing, by name, our sins to God daily before we talk to him about anything else.  Those very sins are what hurts our fellowship with our Father.  And by just saying, “Forgive me of  my sins,” does that really make us cognizant of WHAT sins we’re doing or does it just allow us to kinda gloss over what we’re doing so that we’re REALLY not admitting that we’re sinning?  Taking the time to confess my sins, one by one, is part of the preparation I need to do to in order to experience true fellowship with God.
It’s kind of like trying to spend good, quality time with a dear friend when one of you has offended the other.  Until that offense is cleared up, and have genuinely forgiven or been forgiven, any time you spend together seems empty because there’s that THING between you.
On Sunday I had the pleasure of hearing my friend Tommy Bolger preach at his new church, Friend Church – Florence.  He challenged each of us to not just go to God asking for things, but instead to ask God to use us to bless others.  Huh…  He said that we come away far more blessed than if we just keep asking God to bless us (MAJOR paraphrase of what he said!).
So here’s where I’ve landed… preparation for ANYTHING is GOOD - ESPECIALLY when it comes to talking to God.  If I spent even a FRACTION of the time preparing my heart to talk with Him, IMAGINE what He could do!!  PREPARATION for most things is NECESSARY especially when it comes to going before my Father and humbly asking for anything.
It’s good to be back, friends!  Now, I must prepare to write something tomorrow!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'm Not A Mother - I'm Aunt Alice

I had the most amazing Mother’s Day yesterday.

Since my mom passed away in 2001, Mother’s Day, for me, has been just another Sunday. I try to make sure I let all my close mom-friends know how much I love and appreciate them, and generally make sure to call my Aunt, but I have certainly never felt the need to be made to feel special or appreciated on that day.  I don't expect breakfast in bed, flowers or presents.

I’m not a mother, after all.

I’m just a single girl, with a dog and a cat and a smathering of AMAZING young women (all 16 and under) who call me Aunt Alice. Each of those beautiful ladies puts a HUGE smile on my face every time I see them or hear from them. I’ve gone from playing Barbie pet shop to talking about boys (“Aunt Alice, is it wrong to flirt?” HOW do I answer THAT one??) I’ve laughed with them, cried for them, crawled the mall with them, travelled to another country with them (well 2 of them) and most importantly have had the incredible blessing of watching each of them as they grow into Godly women.

Yesterday morning, as I got ready for church, I got the sweetest text messages. All of them basically said, “Happy Mother’s Day, Aunt Alice. I LOVE YOU!!” After I responded a few times, I got one back that said, “I’m so glad God put you in my life, Aunt Alice.”

That one made me cry. Wash-my-face-reapply-my-makeup tears.

I felt more love, more appreciation yesterday for just being me than I ever have. It was breakfast in bed, flowers and presents all wrapped in one text messge.

I had the best Mother’s Day EVER!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Parce que chaque jour j'ai pensé à toi.

Ok, I admit, I don't think I've seen the movie Braveheart in its entirety. (But hey, my friend Jim Hale has never seen Princess Bride, so I think we balance out the universe.)  I know the basic premise (there's a wee bit too much blood and gore for my liking) and I'm sure if I weren't so squeamish, I'd love this movie and be able to draw as many parallels to the Christian faith as my friend, Tim Suggs, can (no I couldn't, Tim's WAY smarter than me).

Anyhow, yesterday one of my FAVORITE blogs, (In)Courage was written by an incredible writer, Sarah Mae. She wrote about the freedom she felt when she let go of something that directed and controlled her life.  She talked about the release and joy she experienced once she realized that that THING didn't have to control her and that instead honoring her husband and also her God was what brought true freedom and joy.

Earlier in the morning, I experienced the same freedom - to a point of near giddiness (ok, MINUS the honoring my husband part, obviously!) but it wasn't until I read Sarah Mae's blog that I had any idea what and why I felt the way I did.


The night before I simply didn't do something that I had been doing for many months (don't worry - it's nothing bad).  It wasn't that I didn't miss it, I did, but it was as if God gave me a release from doing it (ok, it's all just sounding so BAD but TRUST ME!  It's not!!  It's rather silly actually.  Just ask Amanda - she can vouch for me on this!!).

Yesterday morning, I woke up with a smile on my face.  I had accomplished something, had overcome something that had become so ingrained in my life that at one point thought I could never live without.  It's silly and small and to 99.99% of the world, incredibly insignificant.  But to me - it was sweet... well bittersweet, but sweet nonetheless.

And when I read Sarah Mae's post, I realized what all those feelings were.


I know that the discipline I used and the prayers uttered when temptation struck honored God.  It's my prayer that I have more nights like last night.  I know I will - because I am TRUSTING that God hears my prayers.

Peace out, y'all.  Have a GREAT weekend.

(I have no idea what language that is up in my title, but when I was searching for a William Wallace quote on freedom I found that.  And I fell in love with it.  It has the SWEETEST translation.  I encourage you to look it up for yourself.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

"I am still confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."  (Ps. 27:13-14)

About two weeks ago I read something that I had written in my bible, "Everything can be affected by prayer."  I have no idea who said it or when, but those words are having more of an impact on me now than they probably did back when I wrote them.

Everything can be affected by prayer.

 My worries.

My thoughts.

 My feelings.


" God hears.... for sure.  Our trusting of Him is another story, even surer."  (Greg Stuckey)

There was this AMAZING double rainbow right outside my door early yesterday evening.  God put that rainbow there for me.  It was a reminder of His promises.  A reminder of Him.  It was a direct answer to prayer.  It was a promise to me that He does hear my prayers.  

But trusting is another story.

It's the trust I'm working on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Backburner Faith

How do you recover from admitting that you don’t trust God to answer your prayers? That you don’t believe He’s even listening? That the last 5 months has found you making compromises, deals, and excuses for things that you know are wrong, but since you weren’t brave enough to trust God with one tiny thing it exploded into one GIANT thing?

How do you admit that you’ve put God on a back burner?

Just so you don’t think I’ve totally lost it all, I have been praying to God. A LOT. About a month ago I had to have a rather difficult conversation with someone. For weeks leading up to that conversation I prayed about it so much that I was certain God rolled His eyes whenever I started talking to Him about it. The day of found me in a non-stop dialogue with Him over it. I prayed for peace. I prayed for clarity of words. I prayed for the other person (whom I knew I was blindsiding with this conversation). And most of all, I prayed for redemption of the relationship afterward.

God honored those prayers and so much more.

Why was it so easy for me to trust Him with that but not this?

I don’t have the answers. I know that this morning found me on my knees begging for the ability to trust Him completely. I wish I could tell you that a switch went off in my heart and that trust was completely there.

It wasn’t.

Instead I was overcome with the strong realization that it was going to take a daily, no hourly, decision to trust.  As this process of finally dealing with the BIG things progressed I would have to make a conscious effort to surrender it all to God.  All the thinking, obsessing, worrying that had started to creep in since I started to deal needs to be replaced with trust in the ONLY One who can sort this out.

The ONLY One who deserves the glory when all is said and done.

Last year a dear friend shared with me these words from an old hymn.  They are a sweet reminder of a real truth.

God is too wise to be mistaken.
God is too good to be unkind.
So when you can't see His plan,
When you can't understand,
When you can't trace His hand,
Trust His heart.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Major Epic Fail

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been avoiding processing BIG thoughts.  BIG time avoiding BIG time thoughts.  So last night when I got home (THANK YOU, my BFJ, for your lovely words of encouragement!) I sat in my comfy chair and tried to think the thoughts that needed to be thunk about.  (I know thunk isn't a word.) In the whopping 10 minutes I managed to sit there, I thought about the massive dust bunny under my dining room table, what to wear to work the next day, would my stash of Coke Lights last until another team went to Belize (sad, but true), and, finally (oh the shame) was tonight’s episode of “Big Bang Theory” new or repeat (repeat, FYI).

MAJOR fail.

Then, I had the not too brilliant idea of taking a walk around my neighborhood.  I made it to the end of my driveway when the pain from my broken toe (yeah, broken toe) was too intense (can you say WIMP) and I limped back to my house.

Major MAJOR fail.

Finally, I thought if I sat on my bed, with the TV off, my computer closed and my foot propped up, THEN I could do major thinking.

EPIC fail.

This morning, EARLY, I took my oatmeal, bible and journal and sat in my driveway.  After a few moments of making sure Lucy wasn’t going to wander the neighborhood without me and that Sweet Kitty wasn’t going to go off into the woods, I got quiet.  Real quiet.  Just me.  Just my thoughts.

Just God.

The things I need to process aren’t all BIG, but they are intertwined with some that are HUGE.   As I started to unpack them all and talk to God about them, I stopped and I realized – I couldn't talk to God.  Then a feeling washed over me that left such a deep, dark hole I thought I wanted to die...  I don’t trust God with any of the things I needed to process.  I mean, I TRUST God, but when it comes to hearing and answering prayers SPECIFICALLY in this area, I don’t trust Him.


I first shared about the fact that I didn't think God hears my prayers here, and honestly I thought I was past it.  Really and truly thought it was a thing of the past.  Then I remembered a thought I had Monday , “I don’t know why I bother telling God about ________________ - it certainly isn't like He's listening to my prayers.”  

Yup – I thought that.  Me, the girl who has been a Christian since she was five, been on countless missions trips, had lived in the hood where gunfire, prostitutes and homeless people were regulars outside her door because she knew God would protect her and was convinced it was His will, doesn’t trust that God listens to her.

I have no major lesson learned, no impressive insight.  Just raw emotion and suffocating admission - I don't trust that God hears my prayers.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Happy Thoughts

I was reading one of my favorite blogs today (Sarah Markley – The Best Days Of My Life) and she asked the question, “How do you process thoughts that seem too big for you?”

This stopped me dead. I sat here staring at my computer for what seemed like an eternity because I realized that there are several “thoughts” that need processed and I’m avoiding them. Much like I avoided doing my chores as a teenager. I’ve preoccupied myself with other “happy” thoughts, and pushed BIG thoughts aside. I’ve been doing this for the better part of 5 months. And it’s time to stop.


Turns out one of the ways I process big thoughts is by blogging and I haven’t done that since the end of January and even in January I only posted twice. After reading Sarah’s post I realized I’ve been avoiding processing BIG thoughts like the plague. I know I have tip-toed toward them once or twice but I always went running home to momma when the process got too hard or the thoughts got too overwhelming.

Happy thoughts.

This past weekend God started to bring some of those thoughts to the forefront of my thinking. One, in particular, He SLAMMED into me like a wrecking ball late Sunday afternoon. Today I realized I can no longer hide from them and no longer avoid them. I need to process them. I need to sort them out. I need to go before Him humbly asking for forgiveness, guidance and help.

I need to stop running.

Strangely there’s this part of me that is looking forward to this. I realize that just contradicted everything I’ve said already, but I am. I’ve been in bondage to some of these thoughts and I’m ready for them to be GONE (just because I haven’t been processing them, doesn’t mean I haven’t known they are THERE!). I’m ready for it to be six months from now when these thoughts are lessons learned and tears cried and bittersweet memories.

I’m ready.

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Several years ago I was in Atlanta visiting my Uncle Donny and Aunt Marlene. Unfortunately a few days before I arrived they had been robbed. So a portion of my time there was spent helping them file a claim, get copies of police reports, blah blah blah. On my second day there, my uncle programs my aunts GPS, gives me the keys to her car (oh yeah, did I mention it’s a Jaguar??) and sends me on my way to run several errands for them.

Now I can guarantee you, if I see the words “Antique,” “Used Furniture” or a gently loved dresser sitting in front of any place with the words, “SALE” nearby, I’m stopping. So while being expertly guided to the Sandy Springs Police Department by Karen (the voice of my Aunt’s GPS), I saw, quite possibly the most heavenly sight ever – an entire city block of those very words.


So I took a quick left (which is easy to do in a sporty little Jag), and Karen, very calmly said, “Recalculating.”

Karen wanted me to go straight for 2.3 miles, but I wanted to do a quick U-turn and park in front of a beautiful store with the most amazing dresser in front of it. (Hey, I’m from Pittsburgh, U-turns and parallel parking are taught in 3rd grade.)


From there I wanted to do another U-turn (oh please don’t let my aunt and uncle be reading this) and drive several blocks, go left to what had been promised to me to be an antique, used furniture, dresser mecca.


Here’s the thing. Regardless of how many turns I took or how far away I got from my ultimate destination, Karen ever so gently and calmly always responded with, “Recalculating.” She never got angry. She never got frustrated. She never said, “FINE! Find it your own *&%$ self!”

Last week I got an email from a sweet friend “wondering how my heart for increased mission’s involvement is shaping up??” Uhhhh… well… ummmm…

You see… there was this dresser…

No wait.

How fortunate am I to have a gracious and loving Father, who when I veer off the path He has laid before me doesn’t get frustrated and mad and swear at me using strange symbols, but gently and lovingly says, “Recalculating”? No matter where I turn, how far away I get from His perfect will, or how distracted I get, God is always ready and willing to say to me, “Recalculating.”

He’s always there. Ready to re-direct my path. Sometimes indulging my silly turns, but ultimately and always bringing me back to the place He wants me.

Does God need to do some recalculating in your life?

Monday, January 25, 2010

I Ate A Lima Bean

My friend Greg tells a story about when he was a guest at some tribe in Peru (or Belize or Bolivia or New Jersey) and as a way of honoring him and welcoming him they served him grubs. Yes, grubs. That’s not a typo. I didn’t miss understand him. Grubs. The slimy, bug things. Grubs.


BUT like any well-trained missionary knows, the LAST thing you want to do is offend your hosts (or in this case scantily clad men with large spears and a possible penchant for cannibalism). So Greg did what he should – he ate the grub.

Take THAT Survivor contestants!

Recently I was faced with a similar situation. Well sorta. Well… ok… not exactly. I wasn’t with some tribe in another country, but rather in a very lovely kitchen in Chapin. And the folks I was with certainly weren’t scantily clad, but dressed rather nicely. The only spears nearby were butter knives and though I’m not 100% positive, none of them have a fondness for human flesh.

But when dinner was served there they were, leering at me in all their green, slimy glory… lima beans.



I hate beans. All beans (with the exception of the cocoa and coffee bean once they are refined to their sweetest, purest form). Butter, pinto, red, black, kidney, garbanzo, and yes, especially lima – I have a great disdain for all. I have managed to go to multiple countries were beans are a staple and served at every meal and NOT eat even a tiny smidge of a bean. I have become a master at hiding them under rice (which I dislike ALMOST as much as beans), acting distracted when they are being served and thereby “missing” my portion or, and this takes some planning, claiming to not be hungry and then later scarfing down a peanut butter granola bar.

I REALLY hate beans.

But there I was. And there they were. A big bowl of them.



To not take any would be rather obvious. To take just one (yes I considered that) would look stupid. The rest of the food did not offer any possibility of hiding them. And drat them, they had no dog that I could somehow feed them to when I thought no one was looking. I resolved to put just one serving spoonful on my plate and PRAY I could eat them without getting ill.

I swear their serving spoons are the size of a Smart Car. But I did it. I avoided the foul things for as long as I could but at some point figured if I mixed them with something else on my plate that MAYBE I could swallow them without spitting them into the face of my host.

I did it.

I ate a lima bean (ok maybe 12 of them). I kept them down. All 12 (ok, maybe 10). I felt like a small child who had just learned how to ride a bike. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! Call all my friends. Change my Facebook status.


I still hate them (the beans - not the folks I had dinner with - they're quite wonderful actually). And thankfully they all now know of my great dislike of all things beans and I’ll no longer be expected to partake of any (THANK YOU LORD!). But I feel that FINALLY all my years of missions experience has paid off. I was culturally sensitive and I ate a lima bean.

Oh shine – what do I do if they ever serve liver or brussel sprouts???!!!