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It was just a casual comment on Facebook…nothing profound, shocking or weighty. Andrea had simply responded to the fact that I call her sons “my boys.” She said, “Absolutely – we consider her blood kin now.” Even as I write that my throat tightens and tears come to my eyes. You see, the promise God makes in Psalm 68 is a reality in my life…He sets the solitary into families.
Since becoming a Christ follower in 1992, I have the joy of being welcomed into many families as if I were their blood kin. The first family was the Jones’ which then extended to their daughters’ families, the Jenkins’ and the Strickland’s. The next family that really embraced me, and it happened at almost the same time, are the Riley’s and their daughters’ families, the Warbington’s, Deagle’s and Kirkland’s. What fun memories come flashing through my mind as I think of the weddings of four of these five daughters!! I was honored to serve the families at these events.
After moving to Houston, I really began to realize how true it was that I was a part of their family. Many children have been born into these families since my move, I think six out of seventeen, but they all call me Aunt Beck. While in Houston, God brought even more families to welcome me into their fold, the Smyth’s from Brandon, Manitoba, the Heath’s from Edisto Beach, SC and the Hulzebos’ from Lakeland, FL!
All of these families are my families. I would not hesitate, regardless of the hour or the issue, to call any one of them and say I need your help. I know that they would be there for me. I could show up at their doorsteps unannounced and they would welcome me in and ask, “Can you stay a long time?” They have prayed for me, counseled me, rebuked me, supported me and loved me.
During my time in the Middle East, I had much time to reflect on my life. (Reading Who Are You and What Do you Want? has really helped in facilitating this reflection.) While there, I missed several “now or never” moments with these families and I don’t want to do that again. Also, living alone in a culture that is so familial and relational has only increased my resolve to do all I can to develop even deeper relationships with these folks as well as with my biological family. Having the freedom to live in the Tampa Bay area is such a gift as I am able to spend quantity as well as quality time with my mom, dad, stepmom and brother.
Are you solitary? Trust God and begin asking Him to settle you in with families. And don’t be afraid to do life with them. Are you a family? Reach out to those who are solitary. Extend invitations to welcome them into your home for dinner, for ballgame watching or just hanging out. Be the tool God uses to settle the lonely into families.
To see my “family” as well as some friends, check out this photo album.
(See last week’s blog for Part 1)
Oh, I had very little faith that it could really make a difference – I had no life changing experience or revelation that called me to pick it up. I was just so desperate that I was willing to try anything. My years of church attendance had taught me that living the Christian life is not complicated – an aerospace degree was not necessary to figure this out. Three simple actions that needed to be taken on a regular basis: #1 pray, #2 read the Bible and #3 fellowship with other believers. That was it. Doing these three things with your whole heart for an extended period of time is the definition of a Christian walk. But really, could something so simple take the mess of my life and turn it into anything good? Since I had nothing else to lose I might as well try it and being an all or nothing kind of girl I went all out.
It is interesting now to look back at those early years – 1992, 1993 – and read my journal entries. Every time – and I mean 100% of the time – God revealed something to me in His Word. It was not necessarily some profound theological concept but it was a slow realization that this book – this Bible – was something special. Here is an entry from November 24, 1992:
II Peter 2: v. 9 The Lord can and does do what is right and what He wants to do. He has the power to do all things. v. 19 No matter what, all people are slaves to that which masters them – it could be God, money, sex, people, satan, etc. but they are all slaves.
Or February 13, 1993: Luke 10: v. 37 Jesus Christ had mercy on him – not giving others what they deserve – the homeless person may have brought his troubles on himself but we cannot throw him in the “ditch.” We must give mercy unto him. v. 18-19 Jesus saw satan fall from heaven like a lightening bolt; He has been with the Father since the very beginning. Thank you, Jesus!
Despite the fact that I had been to church hundreds of times and was even on the cradle roll at First Baptist Church, St. Petersburg, Florida, I was clueless to actually were the books of the Bible were located. I was so thankful for the Table of Contents in my Bible and used it without shame and regularly. Since I am a bit challenged, phonetically, the first few times I had to turn to Psalms was a bit of a struggle because I kept looking for the book of Salms. What a relief when I looked on the person Bible next to me and I realized the “p” was silent!
It was at a Metro Bible study that I learned a truth that today still rocks my world. II Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” What this verse is saying is that the Bible is able to answer these four questions:
What is right? (useful for teaching)
What is wrong? (useful for rebuking)
How to get right? (useful for correcting)
How to stay right? (useful for training in righteousness)
If we add in verse 17, “So that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work,” the Bible even shows me what I am equipped to do – every good work!!
I don’t know where you are – is your life a wreck or are you just coasting along nicely. Either way, the Bible is a book that is able to guide you in all areas of your life. Will you just take a risk and try it out for yourself?
Or maybe the Bible is a big part of your daily life, would you please share with me some of the cool things you have learned or experienced as a result of being in the Word?
Sitting on an antique piece of furniture in my living room is a baby sized, white, leather bound New Testament Bible. On the inside flap it reads, it says “Presented to Becky Turner January 29, 1965 by First Baptist Church of St. Petersburg.” Even as I write this tears come to my eyes as I ponder the fact that what has become a treasure in my life was available to me from the moment I took my first breath of air (January 29, 1965 is my birthday) and for 27 years I never sought it out. What is so unique about me still having this little Bible is that I am not the least bit sentimental and I tend to purge more than I hoard. However, I have always had a healthy respect for the Bible but to think that it held everything I needed for life and godliness? Give me a break.
You see I grew up in church. For many years, when the doors were open we were there – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night and every night of the annual spring revival. Dad served a term as chairman of the deacons. My parents taught a Sunday school class. The church used our swimming pool as the baptism until one was built at the church. We participated in marathon gospel hymn sings and I even broke my arm one Wednesday night while doing a cartwheel in the church’s courtyard. But going to church and doing all the activities does not translate into a transformed life if the Bible is not a part of one’s day-to-day life. The Bible had been a small part of my life but I never cognitively came to the understanding that the Bible – God’s thoughts, written by man, inspired by the Holy Spirit, condensed into 66 books – could have such a huge impact on my life.
Well, at least no personal impact on my day-to-day living. The Bible does impact us at a corporate level because so many of the laws of the United States were founded on the commands of the Bible. Who doesn’t want to live in a society were stealing, killing and even lying are not punished by the governing authorities? But to think that this book that was written 1,000s of years ago, could help me live my life today was a foreign concept.
For me to study the Word, memorize the Word, apply the Word, to believe the Word, to take the Word as being the final authority on life in my own personal life, no way. It is just another book, right? Like Aesop’s Fables or the Koran or the Old Farmer’s Almanac – a book with stories, guidelines for living and some sage wisdom.
I remember many Sunday mornings searching for my Bible before church and then remembering that it was right where I left it last Sunday – the back seat of my car. And there it was – a little sun bleached and full of the previous weeks bulletins because I never picked it from one Sunday to another. It just sat there…waiting…not being used…available but ignored as I went about making decisions based on man’s wisdom and my own experiences. Until this decision making lead to a wreck of my life and finally, as I came to the end of myself, I reached out to it.
See next week’s blog for the rest of the story.
There are some areas of my life were I am definitely a snob.
Technology – I always want the latest and greatest phone, computer, apps, etc.
Seating – I will chose to leave an event if I do no have a great seat. Some of that is because I am so easily distracted but a lot of it is because I am a snob.
Ink Pens – If it does not flow smoothly, it is in the trash. Won’t find any hotel pens in my purse.
However, I did not think that I was a coffee snob. Now don’t get me wrong, I am definitely a coffee lover (read addiction here) and I will bellying up the Starbuck’s bar with the best of them but I will also drink McDonalds, Waffle House or Bob Evans coffee without any problem. So when I was making plans to come to the Middle East and knew that coffee pots were rare, I thought, “I can do Nescafe for six weeks. How bad can it be?” Well, it was pretty bad…but I run ahead of myself.
The first sign that maybe this was not going to work was the fact that I had to put so much real sugar and real cream into it to be able to drink. The next sign was the time about three days into my first week that I thought, “I think I will have a cup of coffee” and then I thought, “On second thought, I don’t think I want one.” Me not wanting a cup of coffee? This was getting desperate!
I shared my concerns with my fellow Americans – who also happen to be coffee lovers and lived in the home with THE coffee pot and a solution was found. I would have a pour over every day (actually several of them)! “What exactly is a pour over?” I hear you asking. It is basically my own automatic drip coffee maker that is not automatic.
Mark grinded me up some coffee beans. (Of course, they not only had THE coffee pot but only whole beans – no, I wasn’t bitter – I had the swimming pool at my house.) Found a filter that would work and voila my own personal coffee maker.
The next morning when I made that first cup I thought this is not going to work at all but when that hot, aromatic coffee touched my taste buds for the first time not only did it make me want to slap my mama but also made my tongue slap my brain!!
Now, despite the fact that it takes about 5 minutes to make each cup of coffee, I never hesitate when my brain says, “How about a cup of coffee?”
I guess the point of this whole story is how stinking spoiled I am! I was whining about coffee while living in a city where the slums are like a scene from a Mad Max movie and the compound in which I live has a humvee at the entrance and the guards I speak to each morning are holding M-16 rifles. Get some perspective here, Becky!
What about you? Are you whining about something when it really might not be that bad? Do you need a perspective adjustment like I did?
It was early evening and the restaurant was not too crowded when a family of four came into the restaurant. You could see the dynamics before they even spoke a word. Dad’s Windsor knot was open to about the third button on his shirt. Mom was still in her workout clothes from her morning aerobics class. The teenage boy was riveted to his handheld video game and his little sister just wanted someone to talk with her.
Once seated it was not long before the waitress had brought their drinks and were awaiting their orders. Dad, mom and son were Johnny on the spot but the daughter was really struggling.
“Just pick something, Amy.”
“But, mom, there is nothing I really want very much and I am not that hungry.”
“You have to get something. It doesn’t matter. Just decide.”
“Ok, I guess I will take the chicken fingers.”
We have all been there, seen this and have played the role of Amy and mom in this story. Just pick something. Anything will do. It is really not that important. Average or just above will work. It is good enough. Settle on something. And in many ways what Amy chose for dinner would not propel her down the path of destruction or happiness but there are many times in our lives that the choice will greatly affect us.
Or how about when others settle for us? “This is what you are going to get – be satisfied with it.” Now don’t get me wrong…there is a level of truth in that statement and we can’t complain and be disgruntled about everything that comes into our lives. But, when fine is good enough all the time or when we are afraid to wait out for the best – for the promise land of God – and chose to settle for the ordinary, our lives will be impacted.
When I think about settling, I can’t help but think about a house settling. As a home is being built, the foundation is poured, the framing is done, the roof is laid and the walls are established. In five or maybe ten years, the home settles into the ground and the cracks in the walls begin to appear. The foundation of the home is hard as a rock but the ground under the foundation is sifting sand.
When we settle and are content with mediocrity, day in and day out, we limit God’s blessings in our lives.
Is there an area in your life that you have already settled? “So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” Joel 2:25
Are there areas in your life were you are tempted to settle? To not wait on the best? “The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him!” Lamentations 3:25
In your work, do you have an attitude of settling? “B- work is good enough.” “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.