Saturday, July 31, 2010

The LORD is good,
a refuge in times of trouble.
He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7

God is good! We have all, for the most part, said these words at some point in our lives. Almost always these words are said after something good has happened. Tuesday, a week ago, I received word that my very best friend got concerning news on her 20 week ultrasound. She is due to deliver her first child the same week I am due to delivery my second child. She was told there was something wrong with the baby’s heart. We have since learned that there is a larger chance it is nothing (possibly nothing more than a shadow), but for 2 days we were led to believe the worst. My heart broke and I sobbed for those 2 days. I kept repeating “God is good even when the news isn’t”. I really wanted to write about that then, but the words wouldn’t come.

It is 3:30 am and I have not slept since at all. As most of you know, we received word that Ty (my brother) has a mass on his brain. This came out of nowhere really, he was just having some vision problems this week and now, here we are. He will undergo a biopsy in a few short hours to determine what it is and for the second time in less than 2 weeks, my heart is broke. I will be flying to Tallahassee on the early flight at 7:00 am to be with Ty and my family, but what can I do exactly?

I guess I can pray… that is what you would tell me to do, right? That is what many of you are doing (and the prayers are coveted). But today, my prayers seem hollow. They seem like they are going nowhere and while I pray I am being attacked and told things that I know are untrue. It is in times like these when the quiet voice of God is hard to hear over the shouting voice of Satan. I know, however, that Truth remains true even when words won’t come and answer are unclear. I know that God is good.

I went for my ultrasound on Tuesday. I was a little saddened to learn that the Caroline in my stomach was actually an unnamed little boy. I was thrilled to learn, however, that he is perfectly healthy. I sat waiting for my doctor while praising the Lord for such good news. How great he is that he can create something so perfect! I marvel at his goodness. I cannot and I will not praise Him one day and curse him the next. Sure, I’m scared and honestly there is some anger mixed in there as well. I just don’t understand.

As I struggle for sleep I cannot get the words out of my head ‘The God on the mountain is still God in the valley’. I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know what the results of this biopsy will bring. I don’t know when the tears will stop, when the fear will subside or when the loud voice of Jesus will drown out the enemy. But I do know that God is good. He is faithful. I will trust Him.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lessons in the Night

Like most married couples with children, George and I have our best conversations late at night once the kid(s) have gone to bed. These conversations can be anything from decline of our nation to what’s for dinner tomorrow night. Most of the time it’s about our parenthood survival plan – this involves fear and trembling!

A few weeks ago we were laying there and George asked a very simple yet important question. He asked ‘Why is it that so many people seemingly worship the Virgin Mary’. I could feel myself getting in position to ‘teach’ him. I do that sometimes. George often comes to me and asks me ‘Bible’ questions and I find myself sometimes prideful because I know the answer and can enlighten him. Such a good little Christian I am.

I first explained to George that it annoys me when people call Mary ‘The Virgin Mary’… news flash, she had other children after Jesus. Their father was Joseph. She birthed them. Are you following me here? The Virgin Mary is just Mary now. Can we please post that in the bulletin this Sunday?

I then got a little more serious with him. It is a topic I have given much thought. I mean, I don’t want to give someone less honor than they deserve. Should I honor Mary more than I do? What Mary did was incredible, there is no doubt. She was the vessel for the Son of God to make His way to Earth and die for our sins. Where would we be today without that? Sacrificing lambs I suppose.

Let’s first look at what Mary was. First she ‘Highly Favored’ by God (Luke 1:28), she was good. Second she was a sinner. Romans 3:23 says ‘For all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God’. All means all. Third she was obedient. She was scared and feared what would happen to her if she carried this child, being unwed at the time. But, she was obedient to God’s call.

None of us can deny that God used Mary in a mighty way. But when you look at Mary you should rejoice and get excited. Might the Lord want to use you in a mighty way? Mary was a sinner who needed a savior. No different than you and I. Mary could have said no. You may think that she had no choice, but in her heart I believe she did. Had she not been obedient what do you think would have happened? I’ll tell you what. We would be talking about the Virgin ‘Rachel’ or ‘Hannah’ or ‘Jane’ or someone else who was obedient. When we are not obedient to God’s calling he finds someone else who will be. Mary was replaceable, lucky for her, she chose to obey.

George and I had a good talk that night. I rolled over and continued in my thoughts. I just couldn’t understand why some people, many people worship a person. Why can’t people just see that Mary is a person, much like you and I? That’s when it happened… that still, small voice. The Lord very gently pointed out to me that I am so guilty of the same thing. Huh? I don’t worship Mary!

Libby, he said, You have been striving to be an ‘Esther’ since your early 20’s. You have prayed to be like King David – to be woman after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). You have hoped to have the heart and determination of Paul. You have fallen short so often. Ouch…
He was right. It became clear to me that I, and so many Christians, look to our “Bible Hero’s” for a role model, a guide as to who we need to be. Why do I do that? There is only one person to be looking to. Jesus… as Christian’s we need to strive to be more Christ-like, not more ‘Paul-like’, ‘Esther-like’ or ‘Mary-like’. As we become more like Christ – He will increase and we will decrease (John 3:30). And when that happens, we are used in mighty ways.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Prayers of a Mother

I get the joy of celebrating Mothers Day and Andrew’s birthday in the same week each year. While Mother’s day isn’t a holiday I think of myself on (for me, it is about the Mothers in my life), I have a constant reminder that it is indeed about me. You see, two years ago this week I brought that sweet child home and much to my surprise no one has come to take him back. Those people at the hospital really sent him home with me thinking I had the ability to raise him. Someone should tell them about the bottle of tap water I nearly gave him at 2 weeks old!

Things went well for a while and I fell head over heels in love with him. I mean I could eat him on a Frito – I just could not get enough of him. As I type this today…. 3 days before his second birthday, I realize that is all a part of God’s plan. You see… God, in his infinite wisdom gives you roughly 2 years to fall in love before he rips the mask off of what that child really is. An urchin, who wakes up in the morning plotting how to make you cry, scream, pull your hair out and consider becoming an alcoholic...all before noon. Just yesterday he slung refried beans across my kitchen, ran naked around the house making me chase him from one end to the other, ate half a crayon and spit the other half in my hand and filled a diaper so violently that I am still nauseous today! I was never so glad to see the nursery workers at church as I was at 9:30 am yesterday. I nearly left him until 6 pm.

As I laid down last night I had a major realization – Mother’s day is just another day to be a Mother. And this mother was tired. I laid there drifting off to sleep and I thought of my mother who I am sure was laying there thinking of her mother. I thought of how great a mother she has always been and how I hope to be half the woman she is. I thought about the many times over the years that she has been there when I needed her. Never complaining and never tiring. And then I thought about the best advice she ever gave me, as a mother. She told me, not long after the urchin I love so much was born, that the only way to raise children is on your knees, in prayer. I know this has been her method of raising kids… and I think she has done a great job.

I rolled over and I began to pray for Andrew. Now, this isn’t the first time I have prayed for my child. I pray for him regularly. I always pray for his safety while at school. I pray for his well being and the normal things parents pray for their children. But, as I watch Andrew begin to grow up, I am faced with the reality that he is becoming more and more independent and with that comes less of a need for mama. Sure, I have a long time before he is totally independent, but the day will come and it will come quickly. Who will he be when that day comes?

I could just stand by and let life mold him into the man he will become. I could just do my best and hope he is all I have imagined. Or, I could pray. I can pray the prayer of Hannah (1 Samuel 27-28) and give what God has loaned me, back to Him. That has to be a constant decision. A constant acknowledgement that God knows what is best for my child and loves him more than I do. Hard to imagine sometimes, but I know it is truth.

As I prayed for Andrew the tears rolled. I know he will stumble and he will fall. I cannot pray that he doesn’t, it is a given that we all stumble & fall – it is why we need a Savior. It is why Andrew needs a savior. I pray for the day when he comes to know the Lord. What a glorious day that will be both in Heaven and on Earth. I pray that he will come to know all the plans that God has for him and that he is blessed beyond measure. I pray that he not only knows the Lord but has a relationship with Him and desires that closeness daily.

What I prayed for most of all was the hard times that will come his way during life’s journey. It was hard and it pained me to think of the trials he will go through. I want to save him from those tough times. Times that he brings on himself due to sin and times God just puts him through. I want to protect him from the hurt, but I cannot. And as much I want to, I would not. I am who I am today because I have scars on my knees and palms of my hands. I have fallen and I have gotten back up. I have fought many battles, but because of who I am in Christ, I have won.
I want Andrew to win. I want him to feel Grace and Mercy in a way that can only be felt when you ‘Get Up’ from the battle. I want Andrew to be used in a might way for Gods glory & for His honor. If he never walks through the fires of life, if he never messes up, if his halo never tilts then tell me how can he ever be used in a mighty way?

Andrew is special. Not because he is my child, but because he is God’s child. I will pray for him continually that he may grow into the man he was created to be. I will pray that he loves his God. I will pray that he gets up every time he falls down and that he unapologetically proclaims the Grace and Mercy of the God who created him.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher.
~Elbert Hubbard

I have been thinking a lot recently about being brainwashed. I mean seriously, have you considered how easy it is to be brainwashed in this media crazed world we live in? Several years ago I stopped listening to rap music. I know… the thought of me listening to rap music is odd; odder still is the thought of me dancing to it in my car. I had moves… moves that George describes as seizure-like! I gave it up… but I do miss ‘the moves’.

Why did I give up rap music? Well, as you can imagine, the lyrics are really bad. The music is good (to me), but the message is B-A-D! I was at a point in my life where my convictions were being challenged greatly on a daily basis and the message I was getting on my 45 minute commute to & from work was not reinforcing my values. In fact, the message was making me ‘long’ to straddle the fence just enough to feel like a normal person; live my 20’s with gusto! What I knew in my heart never changed though and I eventually realized either the music had to go or my values did because the fact of the matter was ‘Ludicris’ was brainwashing me… and I was letting him.

You may have missed the big news, but I am a mama now. Crazy, isn’t it? It was a shock to me as well… a BIG shock! I try to be very purposeful in raising Andrew. I try to keep focused on the big picture… the man he becomes. I want him to realize and receive all the things the Lord has planned for his life. I would love to be the mother of the next Billy Graham. Maybe he will be musically inclined and win a DOVE award? Or maybe he will be a software developer and teach Sunday school or just be a greeter for the morning service? I don’t know what the Lord has for his life, but he has something and I want him to seek it out.

So, how do I guide him in his journey? Well, for starters we go to church – Sunday School too. We listen to children’s church songs on the car, watch Veggie Tales, say the blessing before dinner and say a prayer before bed. He has come to expect these things and can even say the prayer with me at night (although rather unclear) and don’t even get me started on the way he holds my hand, bows his head and says ‘Amen’ at dinner. Have you any idea how hard it is not to consume that child!

Most of you would say this makes me a good parent and for the most part I would agree – at least I try to be a good parent. But, what would you say of the Muslim family across the street that uses every opportunity to instill Muslim values into the lives of their Children? You would probably wouldn’t rush to call them good parents; although if pressed you may have a hard time putting your reasons into words.

I have heard it said many times and have actually said it myself – these children are brainwashed. We have no problem believing that children raised in homes that preach values drastically different from our own are brainwashed. So, doesn’t that mean that I am brainwashing Andrew? Wow, that’s a very hard thought. It came to me about a month ago and caused me to sit and really think about it.

I’m a Christian… I know what believe and more importantly, I know why I believe it. I have always known the ‘what’… always. I have known the ‘what’ because my parents and people near & dear to me told me the ‘what’ over and over and over again. But, the ‘what’ doesn’t get you very far in life, does it?

I am firm believer that you cannot truly believe something until you have questioned it. I cannot simply take what I have been taught my entire life and assume that in this world full of trials and temptations, those ’whats’ would prevail without a ‘why’! I cannot tell you how many times I have sat in silence with a piece of my faith, a conviction, a truth and questioned whether it was ‘The Truth’ or just ‘good teaching’. The key to questioning what you believe is having an open heart for the answer. This is how you get to the ‘Why’!

So, as I sat in silence asking whether I am being a good parent or whether I am brainwashing my child, God revealed my journey to me. It wasn’t long before I knew with assurance that I am not brainwashing Andrew – I am giving him the ‘what’. It is up to him to find the ‘why’.

Do you know what you believe? More importantly, do you know why you believe it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old,
he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

George and I got a family bible as a wedding gift, which happens to be one of my favorite gifts. Growing up in the Bible Belt, I thought everyone had a family bible sitting on the living room table. I have come to find out that is not the case. When I moved into this house, we had only the TV stand to actually call a 'table' and it wasn't an appropriate place for a bible. So, I am sad to report that until recently it has been tucked away nicely in the top of the closet in the guest bedroom. Thankfully, this weekend our long awaited formal living room furniture arrived and out came the family bible to take its rightful place. Even better is the fact that I quickly found a use for it... we are actually reading it as a family!

We started 'Resurrection Eggs' with Andrew this week. By we, I mean 'I' since George is traveling and I am flying solo with the kid this week. I have been anxiously awaiting doing this with Andrew since I heard of them last year. I went to get them a week before Easter and they were all sold out, this year I got them early and have been waiting. I decided that I would do 1 egg a night for the 12 days leading up to Easter finishing the night before. I think trying to cram all 12 eggs into one day would be too much for Andrew. Having completed 2 nights, I realize it would be too much for me!

Have you heard of 'Resurrection Eggs'? Fascinating concept, I think. Twelve plastic eggs, each filled with something representative of one aspect of the Easter story. There is an accompanying book that give a scripture the egg is in reference to and a short explanation. Egg #12 is a golden egg and is empty representing, of course, the empty tomb! I am in love with these eggs, I seriously am.

Clearly stated on the box are the words 'For ages 3 & up.'... puh-leeze! Andrew loves story time and this would be a variation of story time, right? I know he is only 22 months, but I have a plan. We can handle one egg a night for twelve nights; we're a model family, after all. Here is how it all went down...

We went to the living room (as a side note, how many people find it odd that we actually sat in the living room - the one room you were never allowed in as a child because it would get messed up and.... the horror... company would foot prints on the freshly vacuumed carpet!). Again, we went into the living room and I opened the booklet and opened the bible to the scripture for egg #1. All the while, Richard is running around barking loudly, jumping on me, jumping on Andrew, but knowing his life was in danger if he jumped on the new furniture! Mind you, Andrew is neither interested in the booklet, the bible or the dog. No, he is interested in this...

I was seriously trying not get frustrated and remember that he is not even 2 years old yet. The box did tell me 'ages 3 & up' after all! I read the scripture, fully aware that I was reading to myself. Thinking back on it, I wonder why I took the time to convert 'Ass' to 'Donkey' while reading since he was oblivious to the Word of God anyway! Thankfully, they only give you 2-3 verses to read and then you can open your egg to see what has been hidden inside. What was inside the blue egg?

A Donkey... of course! And that one blue egg and enclosed donkey was all that Andrew was concerned with. He couldn't care less about the remaining 11 eggs, just the one blue egg. It was as if he knew we were on 'Day 1' and day 1 was the blue egg. Oh, he is a good little student; I have raised him right! Perhaps I got ahead of myself since at some point I think he threw the donkey and the egg from one side of the room to the other.

Finally (thankfully), the end of our 'lesson' was drawing near. I pulled Andrew close and told him we were going to say a prayer. It only seems appropriate that we should end in a prayer, right?Why did I put myself through this? Well, I had good intentions but I was so flustered at that point that I actually found myself thanking the Lord for donkey's and thanked Jesus for his son... Jesus. I had to laugh... I am so glad that God knows our hearts, aren't you?

You may be thinking that Day 1 wound up being the last day, but it wasn't. We gathered around the pink egg last night which contained silver coins and we talked about how Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 silver coins. Again, Andrew only cared about that pink egg and its contents. We played with the egg for several minutes and then we ended in prayer which went somewhat better... somewhat!

I don't expect Andrew to come out of this in 2 weeks knowing the Easter story. But he is smart and he picks things up very quickly. He knows you aren't supposed to eat before you say a blessing, you aren't supposed to go to bed without saying a prayer and when you ask him where Jesus is, he points to the sky and his heart. He doesn't understand the why of everything right now, but one day, I pray he will. For now, I am simply preparing the field for rain.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Who Dat? Dat's ME!!!!!

This past weekend was the biggest sporting event of the year – I’ll give you one guess as to what it was! Correct, the Super Bowl! Did you watch it? We were able to catch the first half and the fourth quarter (all that really matters). We had to leave the party we were at during half time to get Andrew home and in bed on time. We are on a strict schedule these days and I am so happy and proud of it that I would walk home from any party, anywhere just to keep him on said schedule.

This Super Bowl has really been heavily promoted since the New Orleans Saints have never even made an appearance at the Super Bowl much less win one. In the weeks leading up to the event, things were pretty lively in my neck of the woods. Living in Houston, not far from Louisiana, there are many Saints fans. People who aren’t die-hard fans tended to lean that direction given the choice. It was a huge deal, and in the end, the Saints pulled off a victory. Don’t we all love a Cinderella story?

Well, all the talk and excitement leading up to and immediately following the game kept me rather excited too. Not because I am a huge Saints for or even a Super Bowl fan – my heart will always be in college football. No, my excitement was due in part to what the Saints brought with them… endless variations of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’. It’s been stuck in my head for weeks!!

I am sure you heard this classic hymn at some point over the last 2 weeks. I got up early one day last week to join the 5:15 a.m. spin class at the YMCA. I will tell you right now, I am not a pretty sight at that time in the morning. The instructor hopped on her bike and announced she had a surprise for us. As soon as the zydeco started playing, I knew what was coming. There it was at 5:15 on a weekday morning when all the people who had brains were still sleeping and I was singing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’ with a bunch of other crazy folks.

I sang that song until I nearly cried… for several reasons, not the least of which because that little seat and my big seat no longer match up correctly! It was such a happy, fun moment though because we all knew the song (and I am sure at least half of the folks thought it was written specifically for the New Orleans Saints); we sang loud and in unison. Right smack dab in the middle of the sang a chant bursts out – this was a verse I wasn’t familiar with – this piece was written specifically for the Saint’s. It goes like so “Who dat say they gonna beat dem Saint’s? Who Dat? Who Dat?” (Cajun accent used here) – very catchy. I caught on and kept the pace with the rest of the group for the remainder of the song.

I consider myself very blessed for many reasons, but none more than this… When the Saints go marching in, I not only want to be in that number, but I WILL be in that number. I settled that issue a long time ago, as did many of you. I live with many regrets in my life and long for ‘do-over’s’, but because of the blood of Christ, I am a saint, part of a royal priesthood and on that day, I will go marching in. Isn’t that the greatest thing you have heard in a very long time?

George and I have had a lot of fun with this song in the last week. We have danced all over our house singing both the traditional hymn and the ‘Who Dat’ addition. We feel the need to include the ‘Who Dat’ portion to our dance routine because it’s really a lot of fun and frankly, in the end, the Saints do indeed win! It’s been great having this song stuck in my head because it has been a constant reminder of who I am in Christ. The world is a constant reminder of who I am in flesh and of past mistakes, but ultimately I am a child of God, marching upward to Zion.

What about you? Is this just a catchy song that you know but have no clue as to what it really means? Do you assume you are a Saint because you were raised in America and we are a (supposed) Christian nation? Will you be marching in with the other Saints on that day or are you just not sure? Some would tell you that there is no real way to know, you live life as a good person and hope for the best. I am telling you that simply isn’t true, but the free gift of Jesus is too simple to pass up. The knowing and peace that comes from accepting that gift is better than any blessing you have on this earth, or will ever have – I promise you that. If you aren’t certain of your marching orders, then follow the link below for the simple steps to being a ‘Saint’… and SING!