name='verify-v1'/> Big God - little d: December 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pushing Past My Feelings

(I wrote this earlier today...)

I am sitting in the terminal at Love Field Airport in Dallas, TX waiting to catch a flight back to San Antonio. In the past 36 hours I have:

· Called on prayer warriors to bathe my latest house hunting trip in prayer
· Declared, in faith, that I was going to Dallas with the goal of coming home with a "new address"
· Left my kids "home alone" to navigate a few hours on their own (last night) and to get themselves up and out the door (this morning) without adult supervision
· Spent the better part of yesterday looking at 12 homes with my agent and ruling most of them out
· Met with Marty (my husband) to scrutinize the three "finalists" on the list
· Ruled out two of the three (on the spot), leaving us with house #3 that required a stretch (on all levels)
· Climbed into bed exhausted and wondering what to do about house #3
· Woke up, planning to talk our options through, only to discover that it wasn't "business as usual" at ATT this morning. Marty had to head to the office. House decisions would have to hold until the weekend.
· Cancelled my 1/2 day with the agent.
· Switched my return ticket to an earlier flight.
· While waiting to depart, my agent called. Because of additional information she just received, house #3 is no longer a viable option.
· We are back to square one - no house.

I feel like a failure. I am discouraged. The doubt (did we pick the right city?), the anxiety (we only have five weeks until the kids start school in Dallas), and the despair (our list of wants/needs isn't making our search easy) are creeping in. I do not feel like a strong Christian. I do not feel like a woman of deep faith. I am struggling to hold on to hope. I hate being in this place of uncertainty.

So this is my confession, Lord. I am overwhelmed. From experience, I know that the only way out of this is to push past my feelings and recount what I know about You. So here we go...these are the tangible ways I have seen Your hand at work confirming the city of Flower Mound as our new hometown:

• The two high schools we visited both had visible signs of Your presence...posters announcing Bible studies, Young Life activities, a counselor with a Scripture rock on his desk.
• Both high schools have strong band programs with great directors
• After contacting a former member of our church, who now resides in Flower Mound, I received a lengthy email detailing the city, a vibrant church, Bible studies and community. She also extended an invitation to dinner and a tour of the nearby church whenever we are ready.
• Surprise! I received three additional emails from friends of the former church member who also live in Flower Mound. They spoke high praises for the school system, community, and churches. (Methodist church)
• I contacted someone (daughter of one of our former pastor's) who is now a girls' senior high youth director at a local church (Lutheran church) in Flower Mound. She also spoke highly of the area and gave me great feedback on both of the high schools and churches nearby. She offered to meet my teenage daughter (over the Christmas break) so that she would know someone before she actually moved to Flower Mound.
• A law student in nearby Ft. Worth (former youth at UUMC) found out we were moving to Flower Mound and offered to take us to her church (Matt Chandler's) and get our kids connected in the youth program. She drives 45 minutes each Sunday in order to attend church in Flower Mound - loves the church!
• Found out our real estate agents are both strong Christian women. One of them also happens to have grown up in St. Louis (my home town), attended college at Missouri State University (Marty & my alma mater), pledged the same sorority as me, and has a brother-in-law who is youth pastor at nearby church (Lutheran). How small of a world is that?!
• Contacted a friend's cousin, who lives in Flower Mound, and just so happens to be the Assistant Superintendent of the Lewisville School District (school district for Flower Mound). We were able to talk to her and get more information about the schools (all good) and received a friendly offer to meet us anytime we were in town & and an invitation to attend their church (Chuck Swindoll's) with her and her husband.

I feel better. Once again, I see the evidence of Your fingerprints all over this move. You have gone before us to Flower Mound. You have prepared a place for us. We just haven't found it yet. Yet.

I am claiming the Scripture that was a part of my daily reading today. I have been speaking these words for weeks without realizing they were actually Your Word. Thank You for putting them in front of me, this day, when I needed them most. No wonder I have been clinging to them so tightly.

"I am counting on the LORD; yes, I am counting on him. I have put my hope in his word." --Psalm 130:5

I do believe. Help my unbelief. And please, Lord, show us the right home for our family. I am counting on You. In the mighty Name of Jesus. Amen

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Grieving Differently

"In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." -- Philippians 1:4-5

Our upcoming move to Dallas, TX will be the second time, as an adult, that I have packed up my family and started over in a new city. The first time occurred 13+ years ago, when our family left my hometown of St. Louis, MO and headed to San Antonio, TX. It was a time of great difficulty for me: emotionally, physically, spiritually. But as I've pondered the differences between that first move and this one, I am aware of a radical difference in myself.

Move #1 - I had just begun taking baby steps in my faith journey. For the first time in my life, I understood the concept of a church "home." I was afraid to leave and concerned that I wouldn't find another body of Christ that would nurture me and show me how to grow.

I grieved for those things that never had a chance to take place.

I knew just enough about God and His word to cling to His promise that He had a plan for my family and me (Jeremiah 29:11-13). Unfortunately, I didn't have enough of a relationship with God to trust Him to keep His word. What I was lacking was faith.

I hoped He would keep His word.

Move #2 - I may have arrived in San Antonio, broken and scared, but I am not that person anymore. I have been blessed by a church that embraced my entire family. I have been nurtured in my faith, been given opportunities to explore my spiritual gifts, and encouraged to follow the Lord as He reveals my own unique calling. I have been loved well by others and have been given the opportunity to love in return.

Now I grieve for all that has taken place.

This time, I know enough about God and His word to believe that He has already gone ahead of us. I have faith in His plan.

I expect Him to keep His word.

So I grieve differently. This grief is sweet. It is mixed with joy, love, and a deep gratitude for the men and women of faith who have helped me become who I am today. Truly I am blessed.

Most people wait until they leave to say goodbye. Well, I am starting a month early! It is important to me to say thank you - to say it often - and to say it well. To my family of faith at UUMC: You have blessed me beyond measure. You have represented Christ faithfully. And, I will always give thanks to God for each of you. Thank you for all you have taught me. Grace and peace, Denise

In all my prayers for the people of University United Methodist Church, I pray with joy because of their partnership in the gospel from the first day I arrived in San Antonio until now, being confident of this, that You who began a good work in them will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. I believe You will do it and I thank You in advance. In the powerful saving name of Jesus, Amen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Celebrating Someone Else's Faith

"For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?" --1 Thessalonians 3:8-9

A few days ago, I met a friend at Starbucks. For the better part of 2 hours we took turns catching up on each other's lives. Our time was precious and bittersweet because my time in San Antonio is drawing to a close.

It is hard to believe that we have only known each other for one short year. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance who thought we would benefit from knowing each other. My friend prefaced the invitation by sharing that the person I was about to meet was grieving a great loss, facing an uncertain future, and doing their best to remain strong in their faith. Would I walk alongside this person for a while?

I agreed. Soon, my new friend and I settled into a routine of meeting once a month at Starbucks. In a way that only God could have orchestrated, our conversations skipped right past the trivial and dove right into matters of life and death, faith and hope, battles lost and battles won. I was humbled by this person's willingness to trust God and me with matters that were deeply painful and personal. In turn, I was free to share the struggles and victories that were a part of my own journey of faith.

Over the course of this past year, the Lord has continually comforted, delighted, and humbled us during our time together. He has always been faithful to provide clarity and revelation regarding the bigger picture of how He is at work in each of our lives.

So the other day, as I sat across from my friend and listened as she related her most recent adventures with the Lord, I couldn't help but celebrate. My friend has persevered in the midst of tragedy and stands firm with a faith that has grown deeper and stronger through trial. Her faith brings me great joy.

I will forever equate the smell of Starbucks with my time spent with this friend. She has inspired me and taught me much about the resiliency of the human spirit. In a similar way, the fragrance of someone standing firm in their faith must bring great pleasure to the Father. I can just imagine whenever He sees one of His children exercising their faith...He stops, breathes in deeply, and smiles with great contentment.

Thank You for the privilege of witnessing the growing faith of my friend. Thank You for the celebration that comes as a result. Give me eyes to see those around me who are standing firm in their faith. Help me to acknowledge and affirm their faith; reminding them that it is a reason for celebration on earth and in heaven! May we send up a continual fragrance offering of faith to Your heavenly throne. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Joy of Being Expected

"Praise the LORD!

I will thank the LORD with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the LORD! All who delight in him should ponder them. Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails." -- Psalm 111: 1-3

I am sitting at the car dealership while my car is being serviced. It may sound strange, but I love coming to this place. They know how to treat a customer and they do it well. It is a fairly new facility. They have thoughtfully provided room for people to sit in comfort and wait in their choice of: a TV room, children's play area, or work center complete with cubbies & complimentary computers. For those of us with our own laptops, they provide free wireless access. There are always fresh donuts, coffee, tea and water bottles in the hospitality center. And best of all, each and every time I show up, they are expecting me.

It is a good feeling to be expected.

Yesterday, I had two very important appointments on my calendar. I looked forward to both with a mixture of hope, anticipation and the uncertainty of the unknown. Both meetings represented new adventures with the Lord; the kind where you are about to step off an old familiar path, and in faith, trust your feet will land on something solid.

In both meetings, I was expected. The individuals involved had prepared for my presence through prayer and reflection. I was blessed by the gift of their time. I was blessed by the fruit of our discussion. I was encouraged by their willingness to walk on this part of my journey with me. Each asked questions and provided me with further things to ponder until the next time we meet. And that was the icing on the cake...there is more to come.

It is a good feeling to be expected.
It is an even better feeling to be expected and welcomed in the name of Jesus.

O Father,
Thank You for the godly people You have placed in my life. Thank You for the joy of being welcomed in the name of Jesus Christ. Help me to remember to welcome others with the same hospitality. I love You. In Jesus' name, Amen.