Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Answered Prayer Reminder

In June, my little girl had her tonsils out. It was something that needed to be done for awhile. Nevaeh had been plagued with strep throat so often that if she went for a considerable amount of time without a sore throat, I began to worry!

We had a friend whose young daughter had her tonsils out several months before Nevaeh. I grew increasingly apprehensive as her mother told me of the complications that her little girl had suffered. Throwing up, bleeding, pain...all things that no mother wants for her child. My husband and I prayed every day leading up to the tonsillectomy. We prayed for NO complications and that our child would get through this with little or no pain, no throwing up and no bleeding! I trusted that God would get us through this.

Nevaeh was scared, but each day we had prayed together boosted her confidence that God was going to see her through this. As she awakened after the surgery, she smiled at us sweetly. She immediately drank the ice water the nurse gave her. She accepted a Popsicle and was excited to get to ride in a wheelchair out to the car. Before leaving, the nurse gave us a little dish in case she threw up and assured us it was normal. She even loaded us down with extra tissue in case this happened on the way home. Needless to say, she never threw up once before, during or after having her tonsils out.

The other night as Nevaeh was getting out of the bath, I was picking up her toys scattered in the tub. There was the little throw up dish and I said to her, "We really should throw this away. I didn't realize you still had this." Nevaeh looked at me and said "Mommy, I like it. I want to keep it. I never threw up in it." I knew this, but still saw no reason to keep it. When I saw it, I was immediately taken back to the day of surgery and the soreness after having her tonsils out and her little face so sad....but, she didn't feel that way. I asked her why she wanted to keep it." Her answer, as always floored me and made me look at her little "throw up bowl" differently.

"Well, we prayed I wouldn't throw up and I never did. So, when I play with it, I know God helped me not to throw up."

I was looking at this object and remembering that my baby had surgery and was in pain...Nevaeh saw it as a reminder of a prayer answered!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Child's Mite

Sunday mornings are such a busy time in our household! My husband tries to get up before anyone else and go over his sermon in solitude. Just as I have a strict routine during the week with my daughter...Ken is in his own zone for most of the morning. Being a pastor, he has to be in tune with God at all times, but Sunday mornings he prays even more and listens even closer. So, it is left up to me to try (and sometimes I fail, but that's okay!) to keep things running smoothly and allow him to do "his thing."

I like to have all of our clothes picked out by Saturday night for church on Sunday. Less scrambling and decision making at the last minute before church. I lay my husband's suit, shirt and tie out while he is showering, so that is one less thing he will have to do. This is something that is not expected of me, but that I enjoy doing. Before I ever even start to get myself ready, I get Nevaeh all dressed and lay out her Bible, her offering and a canned food that she takes each Sunday to give to our local food pantry.I then focus my attention on my Sunday School teaching materials, making sure they are in the bag. I check to make sure all of the necessary items needed for the children's message are in the bag too. So, as you can see, there is a lot to do to actually make it all run smoothly and get us out the door by 9:30 a.m.

On Sunday, I was a little behind schedule, so Ken went on over to church. I had everything ready to go out the door and the only thing missing was my little girl. At the last minute, she had turned and ran back upstairs. I have to admit, I was getting a little impatient. When she returned, she had a few dimes and pennies in her hand. I snipped that I had already given her a dollar for her offering and she said "This is in case some other kids don't have offering mommy!"

For a minute, I thought that the other kids would think it was silly that she was handing out pennies or dimes. I hurried her along and got to church and she went her way and I went mine. I teach a Sunday School class for tweens. As Sunday School started, I took up offering. I was just about to seal the envelope when one of the tweens that comes to church alone says "Wait a minute Ms. Julia...I have offering." She reached in her purse and groped around until she pulled out a dime. She smiled and said "Nevaeh gave me this before church."

I have to say, I was one proud mommy! God spoke to my heart through those two little girls. One a 7 year old, the other a tween. He spoke to my heart even more when I got home and went into my daughter's bedroom and noticed her pink piggy bank lying on the floor and empty. It wasn't a lot that Nevaeh had in that bank...but it was ALL she had and she gave it so willingly.

I thought of the check that I had given in church that day. Funny, I think that Nevaeh actually gave more that day! Remember the widow's mite?

Friday, September 17, 2010

It Just Sounds Prettier

Every night in the Wallace house at 7:00 p.m. sharp, the bedtime routine begins! My daughter and I go into the den and she reads to me from her school reading book, the story for that particular week. She will lay her head on my lap, rests the book on her bended kness and begins to read. I usually stroke her hair and just generally put my other arm around her. It is one of my favorite times of the day and I look forward to it.

This week, we have been reading the story "Tara and Tiree" which is about two dogs that save their master's life when he falls into the frozen lake near their home. One of the things that Nevaeh does each week is...she will ask one question at a particular part of the story and I will answer it and from that first day on, like clock work, when she gets to that part again...she will ask the same question! Every night. She knows that the answer will remain the same, but she asks every single night!

As we were reading on Wednesday night, she came to that part and asked the question of me yet again. I thought I might try a different approach, so I said to her "You know why the man was afraid for his dogs. Why do you think?" She thought for a minute and then she looked at me and said "I know the answer. It just sounds prettier when you say it."

After the entire nightly routine was completed....she reads to me, I then read a chapter of a book we are reading, we watch one episode of "Family Affair" in her bed snuggling, Papa reads the Bible story and then prayers and lights out...I went back downstairs and kept thinking of what she had said.

I have read the Bible for years. I know what is in there. I also know that all scripture is God breathed. Every morning and several times during the day, I reach for it and long to hear the Words that my heavenly Father spoke. I nestle in with my Bible and for a period of time, I feel, I suppose, the same way my daughter does each night when she is snuggled in my arms and we are together. Questions come to mind and He hears the same questions I ask over and over and even though I know that the answers remain the same....I just like hearing Him....because it just sounds prettier when He says it!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lesson Learned

I love mornings! I love waking up. I love hopping out of bed. I love my quiet time with the Lord before the busy day begins. But, most of all, I absolutely love and cherish the mornings with my little girl. I never take for granted that I get to wake her up, get her ready and then drive her to school.

Often, there is a lot of chatter before we ever leave for school and this morning was no different. There are times that I get into a hurry trying to make everything run smoothly and on schedule and my Nevaeh is more of a "stop and smell the roses" type of kid. I told her to do something this morning she asked me why she had to do it that way. I have always hated when parents say "Because I said so." I have a way around that....I simply reply "That's just the way I roll." She looks up at me and says "Well, I was trying to roll that way too, but you wouldn't let me." I got a good chuckle out of that.

On our way to school is usually when the "deep conversations" take place. Nevaeh began to tell me that in class yesterday, the teacher was showing them different kids from all over the world. She noted that each each child represented a different country and they looked different. She said that one boy laughed at some of the kids but she didn't. Her next statement seemed very profound for a 7 year old.

"I didn't laugh because I am sure if those kids saw pictures of us, we would look different to them. It is just the way God made all of us."

What she was saying in her very simplistic, 7 year old way was....God made all of us in His image. We all look different, but that's ok.

During a time when the world is so focused on others religious practices and so intent on labeling each other...this was a lesson that I needed to hear and I cannot think of a better teacher than my child. I had to tell her how proud I was of her for not laughing and the depth of her understanding and tolerance. Being the child that she is, she simply looked at me and smiled as she said.....

"That's just the way I roll."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

More Than A Pastor

One of the things that I enjoy doing with my husband the most is visitation. He is a pastor and as far as I am concerned, he is the BEST when it comes to visiting those who find themselves in the hospitals, nursing homes or a shut in. I've seen him get up as early as 4 a.m. to be at a hospital in Nashville before someone has surgery and he is more than willing to sit all day for results. He is extremely dedicated to the calling that God placed on his heart over 30 years ago.

I have had a deep love for the people in the nursing home for as long as I can remember...even as a child. Ken and I like to visit our little town's nursing home together on most Fridays. This past Friday, I witnessed Ken doing something that I have seen him do on countless occasions, but it took my love for my husband to an all new level on this particular day.

We had visited with several of the elderly and our last stop was in the area of the nursing home where some of the residents are kept behind locked door. A lot of these sweet people suffer from dementia and other mental, they are watched very closely here. We visited with a church member's sister who is on this side of the building and as we were leaving, her roommate began talking to my husband. If I were to venture a guess, I would say this woman is in her late 60's, maybe early 70's...but she began by telling Ken she was 40 yrs old and told him this long story, which we both knew was not accurate...but, I watched my husband stand holding her hand and listening intently as she spoke and then pray with her over this story that was distressing her.

I loved seeing how for those few minutes, my husband the pastor, made this woman feel like everything she had to say mattered to him. He was kind and very sincere with her as he prayed. He probably could have brushed it off and made light of it and a few minutes after we left, she might have forgotten we were even there. Instead, he gave of himself.

My husband is a wonderful pastor...but, to me, and possibly to that precious little old lady...he is way more than a pastor!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Dancing Song

Recently, my daughter and I had what we call a "Mommy Day." What does a Mommy Day consist of, you ask? It is simply a special day that I put aside once or twice a month to spend with my 7 year old daughter, Nevaeh....just the two of us. She makes a list of five places she would like to go. It is totally up to her. On this particular day...these were her 5 choices:

1-Movies (Despicable Me...loved it)
2-Once Upon A Child (she has no desire to buy anything, just loves the play area)
3-Toys R Us (again, never asked for anything, just a 1 1/2 hr tour of the store)
4-Mawmaw (my mom)
5-Auntie Joyce (loves her cousin Gebriel)

As I have mentioned before, we live in a tiny little town that is 26 miles away from where we do all of these things. We have one long highway that can get boring for Nevaeh, so she will usually watch a movie on her car dvd player. I turned on my music...Mandisa always blesses me as I drive. The first few songs, I was alone in my praise and worship time and then suddenly....the song "Shackles" came on and my little girl did something I've NEVER known her to do. She turned OFF her movie and listened as the song played. Not only did she listen....she started dancing and throwing her hands in the air.

"Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance...I just want to praise Him...I want to praise Him..." I watched in my rear view mirror as she lifted her little hands in the air and shouted "I want to praise HIM!" and I just knew she totally understood! In her little way she was praising God. She didn't care if a car passed and saw her...she just did it!

Each time the song ended, she said "Play the dancing song again!" We listened to it 6 times! Just as it ended that last 7 yr old asked me who was the singer and I told her and then she lifted up this heartfelt prayer.....

"God, thank you for Mandalisa and this dancing song"

I corrected her "Honey, it is Mandisa"

"Whatever, God knows her name....and He knows I love the dancing song."

So, not only does Mandisa have a new fan...I can replay my favorite song as many times as I want when Nevaeh is in the car with me!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What A Mess

I know that most people have a junk drawer or two in their homes. It is usually in the kitchen. I happen to have one in each room of my house, if I am going to be perfectly honest. I am not sure how and when we have accumulated all of this added "junk" (one man's junk, this woman's treasure), but we have it!

In my house...we actually have a room that is considered the junk room or the over flow room as I like to call it! It doubles as a sort of in home office. For some reason only known to God...whenever we are in a huge hurry, which is a lot of the time, we toss a stray item in the overflow room.

Well, the jig is up! The time has come to clean and organize that room in my never ending quest to have a neat and tidy home. I walked into the office yesterday and just stood in the door surveying the mess. Books. Papers. Boxes of Valentines bought on clearance. Purses. Movies. Workbooks. A couple of desks stacked with all sorts of paraphernalia. And then it happens.....I am hit with this heavy overwhelming spirit that I do not like. Standing there a little longer just looking.

I had already organized and cleaned the laundry room and it had taken forever. (Or so it seemed) I went so far as to take pictures of the mess in the office. As I viewed each struck me that before I accepted Christ.....I was a mess. It didn't happen overnight and even after the relationship with Jesus began, it has been a work in progress for me. He cleaned out all the junk that very day...but, my keeping everything clean and in working condition and not allowing all the overflow of the world to fill me up, has been an ongoing process.

So, today I will attack that overflow room and make it a functioning room cleared of junk....the same thing Jesus continues to do for this girl's heart each day!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Counting It All Joy

Let's face it....there are days in all of our lives that seem less exciting than others, right? I wake up some mornings eager for the day to begin and others, frankly, not so much!

There are mornings I have to talk myself out of bed. Yesterday was one such day. I knew that there was a lot I needed to accomplish and I had a very set amount of time to get it done. I started the day off with my quiet time with God and a cup of coffee. It was a "two chapter reading" type of day. As I read my Bible I was trying to suck up any and all energy and enthusiasm that Paul seemed to put out on a daily basis in his travels and preaching. I wouldn't be traveling OR preaching, but I had a journey ahead of me.

CLEANING the parsonage! That's right! The down right dirty, nitty gritty cleaning that happens a few times a year. Moving furniture, polishing hardwood floors, baseboards, windows....not for the weak at heart cleaner! I worked several hours straight and without total exhaustion. I prayed for energy and God gave me energy! As I accomplished one goal, I'd stand for a few minutes and allow myself to enjoy the success from my labor.

I realize that my cleaning is not going to make the news as anything extraordinary or amazing to others. But, I realized that as I cleaned....I wasn't viewing it as a CHORE. I was happy as I worked. I was finding the joy in the cleaning.

What will you find joy in today?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

You Have A Father

There is a precious lady that is a member of our church that lives in an apartment complex in our little town and she is a magnet for all of the kids that live there. They all affectionately refer to her as Granny Gail. She is in her 60's and a tiny little wisp of a woman. She has not been blessed with the best of health, having to be on oxygen at different times. Gail is definately on a very fixed income and does not have a lot of extras in life. However, the one thing that I admire the most about Gail is that she has bloomed where she was planted.

The majority of the kids that live in this particular housing area live in single parent homes. Their mothers work and Gail, being home, welcomes them into her home after school so they do not have to go into their apartments alone. She is more than a sitter to these kids. They consider her a dear and trusted friend. I learned that from some of those kids this morning in Sunday School when we were talking about friendship.

On Sunday mornings, Granny Gail gathers up all of these kids and brings them to our church. Usually on Saturday nights, she has sleepovers at her house. The kids come, they play board games and watch movies. Granny Gail irons their clothes for church and gets them all up, feeds them breakfast and brings them to church. She also gives every child that goes to church a dollar to put in the offering plate. This comes from a woman that, to the world, has so little to give...yet she gives of what she does have.

Today she needed someone to pick up two kids that had just moved into the complex this past I picked them up. As I was driving to church I was trying to talk with the new kids...asking how they liked their new apartment...tried to tell them that they would like their new school, what grade my daughter was in....and I said something about their parents and the little eight year old boy said something that pierced my heart.....

"I live with my mom. I don't have a Dad."

There are times that I THINK that I hear the Spirit speaking to me and other times, I wonder is that what I am truly hearing....but, today the Voice that I heard was without a doubt the Spirit when I heard these words....

"You are going to a place where I hope you meet your Father."

I prayed silently the rest of the drive that God would place such a love in every heart that these kids came in contact with at our church...that in that sense...they were being introduced to their Father. Granny Gail got the ball, the rest was up to us...the body of Christ!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Patience Is A Virtue....I Want It

As everyone that follows me on Twitter or Facebook knows, I have been rereading the book "Battlefield of the Mind" by Joyce Meyer. I try to read it once a year as a "fresher course" for the renewing of my mind. I seem to get more and more out of it each time that I read it. Or do I?

I pick up my daughter every day from school. I go early to get in the car rider line and use the time spent waiting, reading the book and my Bible....a much needed "snack" in the middle of the day. So, yesterday, I was reading Chapter 20 and it deals with PATIENCE! This lovely virtue that I have struggled with for years...the lack of having it I should say. As I read, I underline really good points that Joyce makes and I even knod and silently agree. I totally get what she is saying and I promise myself that I am going to start putting all of this into practice. I go so far as to look the scripture up in my Bible and highlight it. Boy, I'm cooking now!

Joyce says in this chapter that ""Impatience is the fruit of pride." As I read more and more I realized that I have a lot of pride....but, from this day forward I am going to work on that! I ask God to help me in this area. You know, how often do we pray and really expect God to answer us right now? I tickle myself at times....I am praying this prayer in the car line at school...I have my Bible with me, my Joyce Meyer book, my highlighter AND pen...feeling the words so deeply both from the book and the scripture...and my Spirit says to me "Ok Julia."

My little girl comes out of school and she hops in the car and New Improved Patient Mommy says "Hi sweetie, how was your day?" She answers "Part good, part bad." I am beaming on the inside because whatever it is...I've asked God for patience...I will handle this beautifully!

She had two sheets sent home that needed to be redone and returned. Remember, I am patient now...I asked God to give me patience! I prayed that prayer with sincerity and I am reading the book...AND highlighting! As we pull out of the parking lot and get on the busy road towards home...she says "But I forgot my book." This has become a habit of my child's...forgetting the things she needs and we have made several return trips to school. Guess what happened next?

I'd like to say I took a deep breath and smiled at my child, relieving her anxiety and patiently turned the car around.....but I didn't. I grumbled and complained and told her she was going to have to get it together and marched in that school with her to GET THAT BOOK!! I continued to lecture her on the way home...and then, a bus driver had the audacity to pull out in front of me, probably in a hurry to get his second load of kids from another his unairconditioned bus...but, how dare he do that when I was trying to get home in a hurry. And then it Spirit says to me "You do know that this is exactly what the book was think that YOU should not be inconvenienced. You did not show patience at all...but, we will try again."

Funny thing is...I did not feel deflated this time. Usually when I mess up, I beat myself up. Not this time. How was this time different? This time, I heard that small voice telling me "Okay, so you messed up. I will keep letting you know and you will continue to pick yourself up and try again." The Bible tells me that I am more than a conqueror! I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me! Patience is a fruit and I will water it and feed it and treat it with kid gloves until it is FULLY developed.

I did ask God to help me develop, I am more than prepared for what He will throw in my path to help build that muscle! Bring it on!