Hey, Sisters! I hope you’ve had such a fun weekend (or maybe restful was more of what you needed) and that God’s done something particularly sweet in your behalf. We’ve had such an unexpected blast. Amanda’s husband, Curt, has been scheduled for some time to speak this weekend in St. Louis, so Amanda and Jackson decided to drive down from the Dallas area and spend the time he was away with us. When I told Melissa on Friday that her sister and nephew (and Golden Retriever, Beckham) were on their way, she hopped online to see if she could get a cheap airline ticket from Chicago and come, too. God provided one of the lowest fares we’ve ever gotten and for a flight within about 18 hours. We were so excited. Melissa’s never come spontaneously like that because she always has too much school work to do. We couldn’t believe she threw caution to the wind and did it. We’ve had the whole weekend together and eaten everything under the sun. (Amanda speaking now. I came having lost 3 of my 5 pounds but it looks like I will be working extra hard next week!) My den is gloriously strewn with all sorts of baby toys and you can’t take a step without a dog under your feet. It’s the next best thing to heaven. Earlier I noticed that I have a bruise on one knee from playing crawling-chase with Jackson. I bear the marks of a happy granny! Both girls will head out in the morning but, boy, has it ever been fun while it lasted. I hope God filled your life with some abundant relationships this weekend…and then we’ll all go back to work on Monday and get some rest! I love you guys!
Archive for January, 2007
Hey, Dear Ones! Thank you so much for praying for the launching of our Houston Spring Bible study! God brought us a fabulous group of women and, even more vital than that, He brought us Himself. We sensed Him there from the time we arrived to pray over the empty sanctuary. God constantly reminds me when I’m so tempted to beg Him to show up that He is the initiator of all things faith. He is the One who invites us to Bible study. Not the other way around. Our part is to, in turn, invite Him to come in power and do whatever He pleases.
I love my Houston home girls like crazy and last night, to our great delight, God further blessed us with at least 500+ newbies. I asked those who’d never been to Bible study with us before to raise their hands and God took our breath away with their response. We were ecstatic. I’ve told our group before that if we don’t have new women come and join us, we need to ask ourselves why our love for Christ and His Word is not more contagious. Our Tuesday night group is the neatest mixture of women. Extremely varied. Every denomination. Every kind of background. Young to old. Getting increasingly colorful which means so much to us. I love them so much, just as I’d have the joy of loving you all the more if I got to study with you face to face every week.
We are thrilled about the new series God is giving us. “Wising Up” is a topical lecture series on the Book of Proverbs. We hope to hear from God about all sorts of themes over the next eleven weeks like friendship, marriage, business, managing money, parenting, and the like. We launched last night with inspired words from Proverbs 4:7 – “Wisdom is supreme! Therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding.” We established that we are not coming on Tuesday nights to study wisdom. We’re coming to GET IT. And God’s the Only One who is giving it. We have been asked a number of times if this will be taped and released publically and the answer we believe is yes. We are taping this series in house this time and it will be published through Living Proof Ministries because it doesn’t have any written work with it like those we do with my buddies at LifeWay. LPM will prepare a study guide for it but this one will intentionally not have homework. (The next homework I’ll write is for the study of Esther over the course of the next year.) I hope a convenient thing about the Proverbs series on wisdom will be that the audio tapes and DVD sessions will be released individually as well as in compilations of similar themes. I think the target time to begin releasing the earliest sessions is early summer but I’m not sure. Keep posted for updates there. My staff is in charge of that part of it. And, of course, every single bit of this is a ministry plan based on our best understanding thus far. Only God can bring it to pass and we only want Him to do that if the series glorifies and pleases Him.
You guys are so sweet for caring and praying about our local Bible study. We wish so much we could be under the same roof with you, worship before God’s Throne with you, seek the heart of Christ as one, and serve you face to face. Oh, how blessed we’d be! But the relationship we have with you even at this long distance is delightful and tremendously satisfying. We are truly sisters. I’m just crazy about you. Jesus is everything, Beloved Ones. Let’s follow hard after Him.
My staff’s pretty funny, posting my second office, now aren’t they??? IT’S TRUE! I ADMIT IT! I check to see if there are any ministry opportunities in the Starbucks near our office every single morning. Grin. And I might add, I never fail to be ministered unto. Never underestimate what God can do through a grande non-fat cappuccino. He leadeth me beside the Starbucks and my cup overflows.
I heard from some of my “Raleigh Girls”! I am so excited! I so hoped you guys knew I would keep my word to you and not forget that I promised to see the study through on the Psalms of Ascent, as God so led, then dedicate it to you. I want you to know that I have never gotten over my time with you. If a dozen Living Proof Live events stick out in my mind when I am old and gray (scratch gray), that will undoubtedly be one of them. I tend to expect to sense the power of the Holy Spirit most intensely in more intimate surrounding (like the one I’ll have in two weeks in Seattle. Pray to that glorious end!). God blew my mind in Raleigh. I could practically sense His Presence on top of our heads. I love Him so. All of you guys (not just my Raleigh girls) give me such joy and encouragement in Him. Let’s keep cheering one another on in our race. Oh, to see Christ’s beautiful face! Run like the wind for the Joy set before you!
While I’m waiting on a scheduled call from my buddy, Louie Giglio, to do a post-Passion 07 podcast, I thought I’d drop you a line. Something very special happened today. Something my heart’s really tender about. It’s only happened to me 12 times in the last sixteen years so it’s a big feeling every time. To God’s stunning glory, I just finished writing a Bible study today. It’s a six-week study on the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134), the very specific things they meant to ancient Israelites and what they can mean to us. I cannot express how much I enjoyed the personal journey with God through all the research and writing. I have no idea how it will hit anyone else. I only know that I am marked.
God’s Word continues to be my joy and delight and I know that He alone has fueled that fire. I’m actually not sure exactly when the study will be released. I think maybe next Christmas because LifeWay is going to release the updated and completely retaped version of A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place first. (I think it comes out early this summer.) Whenever the study on the Psalms of Ascent is released, it will be dedicated to the women I call “the Raleigh Girls” who attended an event over a year ago in Raleigh, NC. That’s where I first spoke on the subject matter and God used their excitement and feedback to stir a passion in me to formulate it into a six-week series. The sessions were all taped in the early Fall with a studio audience in Nashville and, as of today, the homework is complete. I want to say something as many times as it takes to as many people as will listen: God’s grace is unfathomable. He has never chosen to redeem any life more covered in mud. As long as I live I will testify to His infinite mercies and to His Truth that sets the most hopeless captive free. He loves you so. You have not done too much or gone too far. Christ wooes you to a place of wholeness, one step at a time, and loves you with a heart that is one hundred per cent pure. He is like no one else you know.
Did somebody say “grandmother”? Yep, I believe one of you opened a door a few days back that none of you may be able to shut. I’d like to point out that we’ve now had the official LPM blob this long and I haven’t yet indulged. But I’m about to. Today our darling Jackson turned eleven months old. We are on the countdown to his first birthday party. Nothing could have prepared me for the ecstatic joy and familial commotion this little guy has brought into our lives…AND the toys he’s brought into our closets. Every time I put something away, a button accidentally gets pushed on a toy and a silly song plays. We have a full size crib up in a bedroom and the same heirloom high chair for Jackson that his mommy occupied at her grandparents’ house.
I knew I was going to be crazy about him. I just didn’t know he would move into my brain with the same force of Amanda and Melissa. I didn’t know I’d think about him as much as I think about them. I didn’t know I’d love him – yes, every single bit – as much as I have them. It is HUGE. And, no (not that you would ask but someone would), I don’t have to work him into my schedule and try to make time for him. He, like his mom and his Aunt Melissa, gets to play havoc with my schedule. (Case in point: the reason why I didn’t finish the Psalms of Ascent homework when I’d planned to is that I got to have Curt, Amanda, Jackson and Melissa for two weeks over the holidays and I wasn’t about to spend a moment of their time here writing. And God was glad.)
The morning they were leaving after we’d all been together for two weeks, I was trying to hide the tenderness in my heart at the thought of saying goodbye after getting a tad accustomed to seeing him every day. I so badly do not want to be obnoxious and emotionally manipulative with Amanda and Curt about their little guy. I want us all to have healthy relationships and appropriate boundaries and that means if I feel like crying over him, it needs to be after they leave and not before! A little while before we all went our separate directions, Amanda, Melissa, Jackson and I were in my bathroom where I was throwing on some mascara. Jackson crawled over to me, pulled up on my leg, and reached for me to pick him up. When (of course) I did, the little guy leaned forward, puckered his lips, and gave me a kiss right on the mouth! Totally without warning or solicitation! We didn’t even know he knew how to kiss like that. We all laughed and laughed. He and I had spent a lot of time together over those two weeks. I think he wanted to tell his granny that he loved her. Man, oh, man, does she love him, too.
Thanks to his sweet and generous parents, I get to see him every couple of weeks (and usually for a few days) and I talk to his mom about him at least twice a day. Curt and Amanda have invited both sets of Jackson’s grandparents to be intimate parts of his life. After all, it’s his heritage. Grandparents have been active parts of their grandchildren’s lives for generations on both sides of his family line. We are blessed beyond measure. Amanda keeps us up on every milestone and right now I get a report on something new almost every day. Jackson is learning so quickly that we can hardly keep up with him. While he was at my house over the holidays, he began squatting without holding onto anything and he’d look around at me to make sure I saw him. By the time Amanda got him home, he began free standing. Amanda told me that the first time he stood by himself for a whole minute, she was having a play-date with her buddies and their babies. He balanced himself on his plump little feet, looked around to make sure everyone was looking then clapped for himself. Before we know it, he’ll take a step. And his mommy will take a hundred. I’ve never had such a blast…and she’s never been so busy.
We’re facing some icy conditions here in Texas at the moment. Extreme heat we can deal with, but ice is not our forte. Our spring semester of Bible study on the Book of Proverbs was to begin tomorrow, but we feel the wisest thing to do is to postpone it until next week. Beth will spend the week finishing the last four days of Psalms of Ascent. For our Houston girls, here’s the email we sent out just in case it didn’t get to you:
My Beloved Bible Study Sisters,
Because your lives and your safety are so valuable to us, we are convinced the only wise thing we can do with the weather forecast for Tuesday night is postpone the beginning of our January series one week. We will now launch our new series Wising Up, a topical study of the Book of Proverbs, on Tuesday evening, January 23rd. I was so looking forward to seeing you and studying God’s Word with you but I will have to wait one more week. The forecast shows a high probability of precipitation and a high temperature of only 32 degrees on Tuesday. Almost all of you reach the church via various freeway overpasses. I just can’t take the chance with your safety. Even if the weather lets up, the decision has to be irreversible because of all the personnel that must know in advance. Thank you for your understanding. I hope to see many of you on the 23rd! I’m really excited about this series! God’s Word is life and power, Sweet Sisters. Let’s keep our knees on the ground and our face in that Book. I’m crazy about you and so thankful to serve you.
In the everything Name of Jesus Christ,
One last thing…Mom and I want so much for this blog to be a blessing and not become a source of frustration for those who are seeking specific answers to questions. We have a much better avenue through the Living Proof Web site’s contact page. Thank you so much! Have a happy and blessed Monday!
Good word, young lady! Now, that dog’ll hunt! (Translation for those of you who don’t speak Texanese: that lesson will teach!) You spoke to your own mama. As Amanda knows, I have a strained relationship with an extended family member that I want so much to get right. I want to feel loving toward this person. I could offer you several reasons and countless excuses why I haven’t but none of them hold up before the command of Jesus to love even our enemies. I’ve been feeling discouraged about it because, like Amanda said, I believed the lie that it is too far gone. You might be intrigued to know this person doesn’t even realize that I war with my soul to feel the right things toward him/her. It doesn’t matter. God knows. And it’s not too late.