Thursday, August 28, 2008

On a Lighter Note . . .

Because who doesn't need to be cheered up after that last depressing post? well I do at least.

and Dwight never fails to cheer me up

oh and also helpful in bringing cheer is that the Dawgs play their first game in just two days! :-) wohoo!

Freedom for the captives

A long time ago (as in years and years ago) I read Beth Moore's book "Breaking Free." I know people have mixed feelings about Beth Moore and her Bible studies etc - and I will admit they sometimes have a certain amount of cheese, plus I'm totally not into the whole "fill in the blank" Bible study approach (I dont think about it, I just look for the "right" answer). But I'll tell you what, Beth has a WORD from the Lord in that book. When I read it, it literally changed my life - I feel like I was able to move from captivity to freedom (not overnight obviously, but as a result of God's Truth and principles working in my life).

Lately, there's been some things going on in my life and the life of some people around me that has made me start pondering strongholds and captivity all over again. It's slightly ridiculous how easily I fall back into captivity. It's like I offer Satan my wrists and let him bind me up without even realizing what I'm doing. Like the Isrealites, I grumble about my new-found freedom and forget what a mighty work God did in my life to bring me to the Promised Land. I am baffled at how Christians who love the Lord and have His Spirit can continue to live their life in bondage to sin. We can be held captive by so many things: fear, insecurities, addictions, sin . . . I'm realizing that I need to again examine my life and tear down the shelters and strongholds that I've built to try and protect myself from this captivity. Because the truth is that my shelters aren't keeping me safe or free . . .

Sometimes God lets things get so bad that we're forced to look up. Victory always begins with looking up.

Friday, August 22, 2008

A Father's Love

So yesterday, I finally watched the clip of Steven Curtis Chapman on Good Morning America (I know, I'm a little behind the curve). It was absolutely heart-rending and encouraging at the same time to watch their family as they struggled through doubts, faith and forgiveness and how they are continuing to rest in God's faithfulness, despite the hurt. I cannot even imagine how I would respond or what I would do. Their situation is one of those times when I look up at the sky and wonder what in the world God's plan is. For those of you who dont know the story, Steven Curtis Chapman's youngest daughter Maria was killed when she was hit by a car driven by her older brother, Will Franklin.

Lets face it, I'm pregnant, so I bawled through the entire 8 minutes of the clip (or however long it is) However, there was one part in particular that I haven't been able to get off my mind or heart. As Steven (Curtis Chapman - but we're clearly on a first name basis) was getting ready to go to the hospital with his daughter, he rolled down the window and yelled out to his son (the one who was driving the car) "Will Franklin, your father loves you!"

Oh my word, the depth of emotion and grace that is extended in that moment. I cannot think of a more beautiful picture of how our heavenly Father reaches out to us. I've wounded Him, He's saddened by what I've done, and I've cost Him His Son -- and yet, He yells out to me "Rebecca Anne - your Father loves you!"

When I am most disappointed in myself, most unwilling or unable to carry on, to simply put one foot in front of the other; that is exactly when God yells my name and shouts His love. In the times when I struggle with my many insecurities and shortcomings, and I wonder how anyone could love me -- it is in those exact moments that I can hear God yelling (or sometimes whispering) that He loves ME. Not a collective "you," not all of mankind. But ME, Rebecca Anne . . . . my Father loves me. Now, if that's not life-changing, I don't know what is.

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” Isaiah 49:16

ps - my thoughts today were inspired by my friend BigMama

Oh and by the way, Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife must be SO proud of how Godly and wise and mature their three oldest children are - and how strong their faith is through this tragedy . . . I pray that Jayci will have that kind of faith someday!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kosovo and Inner City Atlanta

This summer at camp, Adam had his hands full with discipline on the boys side of camp. I dont remember it being nearly as intense last year, at least as far as issues and discipline problems go. One of the most frustrating things about working with kids from the inner city is how they respond when they get in trouble or get upset. They either get angry and violent or shut down completely. I was telling Pastor Steve how frustrated I get when they shut down because they wont tell you what happened, why they're upset or what they want; instead, they sit silently (usually in tears) refusing to let you in. I understand that it must be some sort of defense mechanism, or survival instinct where that's the only way they can safely respond to situations where they live. But Pastor Steve opened my eyes to the depths of their situation: he told me about how he went on a mission trip to Kosovo to work with war victims and children who had been affected or displaced by the war. And the kids in Kosovo respond in the exact same way that our kids from down-town Atlanta respond. I was blown away to think that these kids had experienced as much trauma as war victims - what, I wondered, could possibly be so terrible in our city?

So I began asking the kids questions, and paying attention to their responses. One of the boys who kept trying to run away described how he watched his brother shoot and kill someone. Another little boy who Adam kept having to discipline explained that he didn't like where he lived because there was shooting every morning and every night and his sister's house got "all shot up." One little girl had just been evicted from her home, and she woke up multiple times in the night crying and screaming with terror. One boy got in trouble for bringing a gun to school because he was going to use it on his mom's boyfriend who beat up his mom . . .

Realizing the depths of these kids' pain makes it easier to understand and extend grace when they respond inappropriately, angrily or by shutting down. They are victims of injustice, and I cannot help but hear Micah 6:8 echoing in my heart: "What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Camp Grace Again

Once again, I've been trying unsuccessfully for days to write my Camp Grace update. For some reason, I thought it might be easier to describe or put into words the second time around. Although it wasn't as life-changing for us as last year (and what I mean by that is simply that we already know inner-city ministry is where God has us, whereas last year it was a big surprise for us that changed the course of our lives . . . )

That said, camp this year was just as moving as last year - we loved it just as much as we did last year, and we felt confirmed in the direction our life has been moving.

I wanted to share some stories with you, as well as just a few of the things that God taught Adam and I this year about His love, grace and movement through His people. Of course, we all know that I tend to ramble and write long posts, so there's no way I can share all that in a single blog post (unless you feel like reading an online novel, but most people - besides myself - have far more important things to do with their time). So over the next few days I will try and share in small quantities and hopefully your heart will be moved and transformed just as Adam's and mine have been.

Friday, August 8, 2008

34 Weeks Down . . .

Only 6 more to go! Now that we're home from camp, and I actually have time to breath and contemplate the fact that I am going to be a mom in just six short weeks, I am starting to feel that familiar feeling of being sort of breathless (especially now that she's kicking hard enough to knock the wind out of me!) and overwhelmed by the whole thing. Luckily, my friend BooMama had a post up on her blog that just absolutely put everything in perspective and reminded me yet again that this whole process (being pregnant, giving birth, parenting . . . ) is in the Lord's hands. For anyone else who is feeling overwhelmed by motherhood or even just life in general, I hope you will enjoy her little reminder and be comforted by the fact that we serve a big God who is in control of everything!
To Know this Love that Surpasses Knowledge


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