Archive for January, 2009

Before Baby Girl Comes

As the time for Baby Girl approaches, I’ve been feeling more and more reflective. I told AJ that a few days ago, I looked for something in an old purse and found a diaper and wipes and had that wonderful feeling come over me just how blessed I am to have babies in my life. I love it so much.

Late yesterday afternoon I asked Amanda if she and Curtis wanted to have a date because I’d so happily keep that boy of theirs. They took me up on it and by the time Jackson got to Bibby’s house, I’d erected a tent in the middle of the floor (made out of chairs and a big bed spread) and had a home-made track for our Hot Wheels coming out of it like a long tongue. After we played a while, we sat, he and I, at the dinner table and ate supper (macaroni and cheese and the world’s best white cake leftover from Baby Girl’s LPM shower – but we didn’t exactly eat them in that order. Don’t tell mommy.) I took in everything about him last night. Every word he said. Every expression he made. Before we know it, there will be two to share our attentions and we can hardly wait but it’s still so good to have a moment and reflect on this one little dude and the huge impact he’s had on three families.

Lord have mercy. He’s such a boy. Three years ago, he turned our girly Moore-lives upside down and we’ve been drunk on him ever since. I remember when Amanda first began entertaining that she might want to have children but one thing she knew for sure: they’d need to be girls. Only girls. She couldn’t handle…that other kind. Then we found out about four and a half months into her first pregnancy that she was having a man-child. I was ecstatic! It was about time for some more Testosterone around here. She was happy about the prospect by then and Curtis was completely beside himself. I remember Amanda having a dream some days later that a nurse came to her with a baby wrapped in pink and said, “Mrs. Jones, we have your baby now. You can trade back in that baby boy.” And she said what you think she said. Not on your ever loving life. She was hooked.

Tonight my full-term darling firstborn is going with her man and her nearly 3 year-old son to the Monster Truck show. (Yes, with earphones for protection and extra wraps. Please don’t make her more overprotective than she already is!) This will undoubtedly be the best night thus far of Jackson Curtis Jones’ entire life. He could practically say Monster Truck before he could say Mommy. Slight exaggeration but I have never seen a little boy more obsessed with vehicles in my life. I, the slowest driver in the entire Gulf Coast and the leading cause of road rage in America (per my daughters), have been known to break the sound barrier just to catch up with a truck I knew he’d want to see. “Go faster, Bibby! Faster!” So I put the pedal to at least 45 mph of metal just to make that boy squeal.

Of course, the men could go to the Monster Truck show without Amanda but she’ll have nothing of the kind. To be honest, I wish I were going myself. But could you imagine my hair afterward? Don’t you think the noise could do follicle damage?

Amanda, on this eve-season before Baby Girl blesses our lives with every shade of pink, I want you to know that you have been a fabulous boy’s mom. I will treasure for the rest of my life seeing cars in your purse every time you open it to get out your wallet. I know all the times you’ve nearly gotten your hind-end stuck, crawling into the playground equipment to make sure your wild little man wasn’t killing himself. And all the while your friends with girls got to actually finish their conversations. He is an incredible little boy. So full of life. And, yes, I know, such a handful. You’re not imagining things. He is a whole lot of person. A whole lot of delightful person.

Curtis Jones has been one of the best dad’s I’ve ever seen in my life, but, young lady, I want you to hear your mother say this loud and clear: YOU HAVE BEEN A TERRIFIC MOM TO THAT UNSTOPPABLE LITTLE FORCE WE CALL JACKSON JONES. Great job. G-R-E-A-T J-O-B.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, let’s have us a girl. Feel anything at all?? A single little cramp? Like every five minutes?

PS. Tomorrow’s Scripture memory day, Siestas! Have yours ready and look for that post.

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A Couple of Hard Cases

Greetings Blogworld… from the great and beautiful city of Atlanta.

I just had the most surreal moment. I was standing in a coffee shop a few minutes ago (no big surprise) when I heard the song “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart” by Shenandoah and Alison Krauss. Have you heard it? I kid you not, I was teleported back to my 8th grade dance. I had forgotten how awkward yet glorious that historical moment was. Awkward because I was still sporting my braces but glorious because a person’s first big school dance is a rite of passage. Good or bad, it remains a milestone. I mean, I spent a month in a tanning salon preparing for that dance! I still remember exactly what formal dress I was wearing and even what my corsage smelled like. My date and I were attempting to two-step to this very passionate country tune. We were very much wrapped up into the song, so much so that I think I may have even put my head on his shoulder. Who doesn’t get caught up in the moment under a disco ball? You laugh…but this was a big move for an innocent thirteen-year-old girl with very well known parents. In between our very emotional embraces I would glance to make sure my homeroom teacher wasn’t looking because I knew darn well she was going to tell my Mom. Total downside of having your homeroom teacher doing your mother’s Bible studies. Okay, I digress, but today as I listened to the lyrics now from the perspective of an adult, I about died. Please take a minute to read the first two verses of this song:

Thousand miles
Of lonesome highway
Drinking gallons of coffee in a little cafe
Brought me here, and it’s so good to find there’s someone who’s got
The same story as mine

Just look at us, we’re a couple hard cases
So how’d we end up where we are?
Somewhere in the vicinity of the heart
I feel somethin hittin me awful hard
I don’t know where it’s gonna lead
I just know it starts
Somewhere in the vicinity of the heart

When I heard these lyrics again today I nearly went into hysterics. To think that a couple of suburban kids who had never so much as kissed were honestly identifying with these lines is completely absurd. But there we were. We were identifying, alright. Just a couple of hard cases looking for someone else with a similar tumultuous relational past.

Okay, so it’s your turn- I want to know what takes you back to the past? What was your best or funniest memory at a middle school or high school dance? To what songs did you dance?

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A Great Time in the Big ATL

Hey, Siestas! I’m so glad to talk to you today! I’ve wanted to get on here since the moment I sat down on the plane to head home from Atlanta but I had a lesson to get ready and had to wait. However, I am so glad that my delay gave AJ the opportunity to blog because she used the word “inhairitance” and it is quite possible I have never loved her more.

OK, I had the best time. The only thing that would have made it better is getting to see every last one of you at the Siesta luncheon. The Southern Siestas (what they called themselves) were so cute! All sorts of different ages and types! I just love that. And how about Melana sending Miesta Moose with his little suit case since she couldn’t join us? That right there, Girlfriends, is why your Mama loves you so. You make me laugh and you make me love Jesus more. That is the highest praise I can give a soul on this earth.

That forty-eight hours in Atlanta were so packed that I can’t give you a play by play in the limited time I have. Instead, I am going to give you 10 highlights (I love that word. It reminds me of my inhairitance) in no particular order of priority. There were so many other things I’d mention if I had time. It was delightful from beginning to end.

1. Seeing Melissa and Colin in baggage claim after I arrived. It was a Saturday morning so she was just in jeans and a t-shirt. She had her bangs straight back in a barrette and looked about 15 years old. And, Lord have mercy, I love that man of hers. He is the sweetest thing ever. We had a quick lunch together then headed to the blessed madness. Melissa worked her tail off all weekend assisting her mom. I am so grateful to her. She never knew it was a weekend.

2. Walking into the sanctuary at the beautiful FBC Woodstock for dress rehearsal late Saturday afternoon. The 300-voice choir was already in the loft and the stage was all set and the lighting perfected and I just kinda had a moment. I knew we were about to be part of something BIG. And I was overwhelmed by God’s gracious goodness to my buddy Travis. We make so much fun of each other and are rarely serious about one another but it hit me between the eyes that moment how really special the dude is. I mean, I’ve known it for 10 years but sometimes you just have a surreal moment where you’re stricken by the extraordinary. I also thought to myself, it’s too bad the boy doesn’t have any friends. When I tell you that his friends rallied, I am not kidding. He honestly has more BFFs than any person in the universe besides Jesus…and sometimes, like when he gets to tape in a place like Abbey Road studios in London, I think he may be Jesus’s BFF.

3. Seeing my whole praise team and many of my other LPL team members who I love so dearly like Paige (she runs women’s events at LifeWay), Rich and Gretchen (she had the cutest new hair cut!), Stephen (the world’s greatest graphics guy) and Nate and Shelly (she’s one of our young and very gifted Siestas. I love her and her man like crazy. They get married in two and a half weeks. Not a moment too soon based on the way they look at each other. That’s all I’m saying). Seeing my beloved Angela Cottrell and also Boomama (Sophie) AND HER MAN and Bigmama (Melanie, whose man is always hunting like mine). I LOVE THEM!

4. Working with Max Lucado. He is such a great guy. Delightful to be around. Very approachable. You’d like him just as much as you think you would. He and I did these little vignettes at various times in the worship experience. You’re going to love what he shared. (For those of you who were there and are totally confused at this point, Max could only be there on Saturday night so his vignettes were taped at dress rehearsal. Two of my segments at the actual event were fill-ins for his. He will be a big part of the DVD.)

5. OK, brace yourself because this one is a huge one: Heading over to the Governor’s Mansion after dress rehearsal where Melissa and I had been invited to have dinner and…are you still with me here?…SPEND THE NIGHT. Yes. A slumber party at the Governor’s Mansion. (Not one word of this has a danged thing to do with politics. I want you to know something about a brother and sister in Christ who happen to hold political office.) Our time in that home was something I will never forget as long as I live. I knew Governor Perdue and Georgia’s First Lady, Mary, really loved Jesus because…

a) I’d heard that, particularly in reference to the prayers over Georgia for the drought a year or so ago, and
b) Mrs. Perdue had come to our Deeper Still event in Atlanta and I could clearly see she was a real, live follower of Jesus and not a nominal Christian looking to make political points with constituents.

You’ll find this little bit of Siesta trivia interesting: Mrs. Perdue and our very own Georgia Jan are very, very good friends. Family friends for decades. Georgia Jan is simply one of the most delightful people you will ever meet in your entire life. She is laugh-your-head-off hilarious. So witty. Digs Jesus like crazy. She was our big connection there and, of course, was at dinner and also spent the night (and the next) there at the mansion. By the way, Georgia Jan’s husband can’t remember the name “Siesta” for us for anything. He calls us the “Salsas.” It made me so happy. We’re a pretty salsy group of God-loving Siestas if you ask me.

We had the most marvelous dinner. Mrs. Perdue (I did call her by her first name face-to-face but I can’t bring myself to do it in print) asked her two beautiful daughters, Lee and Laura, to join us and Lee’s twin 9-year-old daughters, Mary Kate and Sunni, were our extra delights at the table. If you know me well, you know I love little girls! Especially pre-adolescents! They were the cutest things ever. They later took us on a tour of the mansion and, oh, if you could have seen the historical place through their eyes, you would have loved it! The Governor was so gracious to us that he won me forever. He helped clear plates and all sorts of things but where he had me was in his attentiveness to his bride of 36 years. The whole time we sat and chatted after dinner, he had his left arm propped on the back of her chair and he played with the back of her hair. They are flat out in love. It did a heart good.

Would you believe I got to sleep in the president’s suite??? That morning I woke up and said out loud with my head still on the pillow, “Good morning, Lord. It’s me. I’m here in the Governor’s Mansion in Atlanta and I’m in the president’s suite in case you’re having trouble finding me. I know I seem a bit out of place…” And the Lord and I laughed.

PS. Georgia Jan, I’ve nearly hurt myself on that Gevalia Coffee. Ordered 4 pounds when I got home.

6. Church with Melissa and Colin. We went to Buckhead Church where they attend and the whole experience left me bug-eyed. Melissa is friends with their worship leader, Carlos, and his darling wife, Heather, and I loved meeting them so much. They have been so gracious to make her and her man feel welcome so far from home. Carlos is a fabulous worship leader. The congregation was fabulous, too, but, all in all, they stayed remarkably calm while I, on the other hand, was just about ready to run a lap. I had Melissa on my right (blocking the aisle. Actually I don’t really take laps but sometimes I wish I could) and one of my other favorite people on earth, Janet Reeves, on my left. (She’s one of the best things that God has ever done in Jesse Reeves’ life. He’s a big part of the Chris Tomlin Band – bass player, vocals, co-writer – and I love him like crazy, too.) I do not have words big enough for my reaction to Andy Stanley. He is simply one of the most extraordinarily gifted communicators I have ever seen in my life. I was nearly slack-jawed. And, yes, I’ve heard him before but it hits me every time. His message on giving is still rolling around in my head and making me itch to get the checkbook and give some money away. Haven’t had a chance to talk to my man about it but I will.

Dang, I’m running out of time! Meeting at 12:00! Speeding up!

7. Surprising the Southern Siestas at the end of their lunch on Sunday afternoon. They were so much fun! I know I already mentioned it but it was too good not to make part of my ten!

8. Meeting Shaun Groves. Good grief. He’s just so cool and so passionate about the work of Jesus that it’s stupid. (I mean stupid in that really wonderful way.) Meeting Cindy Morgan. She is the tiniest thing you’ve ever seen with one of the biggest gifts God has entrusted to a song writer/vocalist in our generation. Trav had been on the Christmas tour with both of them this year and loves them so much. I certainly could see why.

9. The worship experience itself. It is TREMENDOUS. I can’t wait for it to come out on CD and DVD. You will love the music and it will most definitely do it’s job. Girlfriends, you will be led to worship.

10. Angela Cruz leading out on the Mercy Seat song (can’t remember but I think it may officially be called “Running”. I don’t know. I’m so dumb). The whole sanctuary was nearly overwrought with the Spirit. I’m not kidding. It was so powerful, it was nearly painful. Travis transitioned the song into “Lord Have Mercy” and I nearly had to hit the floor. I felt like God was literally pouring out mercy upon us like a torrent. It was a moment in corporate worship that I may never forget.

Well, that’s my run down and I left so much out! I also don’t have time to edit. I’m just gonna have to pitch it out there as it is! I love you guys so much and wished every one of you were with us. This is my way of hoping you’ll feel just a tad like you were.

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Siesta Group Picture

If she didn’t have a Bible study class to teach tonight, I know Bethie would be on here right now talking about how much fun she had meeting so many Siestas in Atlanta. (You almost got a post from her last night but she decided to cook dinner for us instead. Sorry, but it was really good!) She told me she had a blast and that all of you were hilarious. Thanks to Lisa/The Preacher’s Wife and my co-worker KMac for supplying pictures.

Miesta Moose made an appearance!

I’m now 17 days away from my due date, but who’s counting? It’s not like I’m getting impatient or anything! I had an ultrasound yesterday and Baby Girl looks great. Today I got my highlights done, so we are one step closer to being ready. Y’all, I went into the salon as prepared as possible. I didn’t take a pickle jar or a bottle of Sprite, but on this very spring-like day I did take a big jacket to tie around my waist if necessary. Thank you for that tip! The princess got a little excited while my hair was getting foiled and I was just praying she wouldn’t knock anything loose! I cannot think of worse timing than to have chemicals and aluminum in one’s hair when labor begins. I don’t want to scare my daughter when she sees me for the first time. I’d rather her first thought be that, indeed, she has a beautiful inhairitance. (Ps. 16:6, ESV) (That was for my mom, whose love language is speaking in puns.)

I need to get ready to pick up my boy from mother’s day out, but I have to share this real quick. Last night Curt was getting Jackson ready for bed and I overheard him ask if he’d ever seen an angel. Jackson said, “Yes.” Then Curt said, “Well, what did the angel look like?” Jackson said, “Mommy.” Is that not so precious? Don’t think VVPG didn’t almost start crying! Y’all have a great Tuesday!

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Almost Baby Time!

Hey Siestas! It seems like everyone is in Woodstock, Georgia, this weekend for the live recording of Travis’ new album. Very Very Pregnant Girl (that’s me, AKA VVPG) is unable to travel and join in on the fun. I feel like I’m just waiting around for something exciting to happen at this point. The countdown to my due date is just nineteen days. I’m considered full term now at 37 weeks and am definitely feeling it! I believe all Baby Girl is really doing at this point is gaining weight. I always think about how wise God was when He planned it this way. How much would it stink to carry around a seven pounder for several months? It’s proof of God’s mercy that they don’t get this big until the very end.

We’re almost completely ready for Baby Girl to get here. The nursery has been transformed from blue and brown to pink, yellow, green, and blue. Her closet is perfectly organized and filled with all kinds of wonderful things. I’ve got a package of newborn Pampers Swaddlers ready to do what they were created to do. I have an appointment for fresh highlights on Tuesday. Oh, and a friend gave me a gift certificate for a pedicure so I’ll have pretty toes in the hospital. How sweet of her!

I’ve been packing in every opportunity to do this or that with friends since I will be home bound for a while once she comes. Curtis and I are having a date night tonight since we never know when it will be our last chance! I’m sure we truly do have 19 days to go, but we feel like we’re in any-minute-mode.

So I’m having the common fear of every VVPG. What if my water breaks in public? Y’all, I’m terrified of this. I really wasn’t afraid of it when I was expecting Jackson because I’d never experienced that phenomenon before. Ignorance was bliss. When it happened to me in my hospital bed I was horrified. I will refrain from describing it in detail, but it was much more dramatic than I was prepared for. I actually cried, y’all. It was the beginning of the end of my modesty and dignity, which were basically decimated during the next few days. Is anyone with me on this? And look at the result – three years later I’m writing about my water breaking on a blog!

I was telling a friend that I’m preparing to sequester myself late next week so that I can avoid my water breaking in public. (It remains to be seen if I will actually stick to this.) Then she asked me if I’ve ever actually known anyone who this happened to. Nope. Can’t think of anyone.

Since we women love to tell our birth stories, I thought some of you who have experienced your water breaking in public might want to share. Was it awful or were you too excited to care?

I’m not sure my mom and sister won’t be horrified by this blog post. I have no way of knowing since they’re at Travis’ concert. Maybe my acid reflux, swollen ankles, inability to breathe well, crowded rib cage, and frequent trips to the powder room are clouding my judgment. If this post disappears, you’ll know why. In the meantime, I’m claiming that it’s better to ask for forgiveness than for permission!

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Fruit Dipped in Dark Chocolate

Yesterday a really nice dude delivered the most beautiful red box to my door (looked like new shoes, was hoping it was new shoes) with the words “Edible Arrangements” on the outside of the card. The inside had a fun note from Travis and Angela saying how happy they were that I was coming to the taping of his new worship CD this weekend. I can hardly wait. I am so anxious to get back with my team and I also get to see my baby girl – and, by the way, Georgia Jan! I opened the box to behold the most beautiful array of big, fat strawberries and quarters of green apples you’ve ever seen and each dipped (maybe even double-dipped) in dark chocolate.

It’s sort of a joke between us. You see, I hate fruit. I don’t know why. I just never developed a taste for it. For one thing, it was expensive to buy for a family of eight and my family growing up not only didn’t have an extra dime. We could have used somebody else’s. We mostly ate Twinkies and Ding Dongs because they came in a family pack. I think I started the chocolate-covered fruit thing with the Cottrells several years ago when I sent a package for Travis’s birthday. I thought it kinda cleverly described our two families. They love fruit. We love chocolate.

Anyway, the only reason Travis Cottrell eats remotely healthy is because of his wife. I have long said that the greatest proof of God’s love for Travis beyond his salvation is Angela Cottrell. She is Wonder Woman. Years ago when she may have been at the summit of her culinary health-consciousness, I got to stay in their very sanguine home. Jackson, their oldest (middle schooler now, and, yes, where we came to love that name), was really young. Maybe five. Levi wasn’t even a twinkle in his parents’ eye yet. Jack and I were sitting in our pj’s at their breakfast table and Angela announced, “Beth, since we have company this morning, I’ll fix pancakes!” I was elated. I adore Angela Cottrell and would eat anything just to sit at the same table with her. She is one of my favorite women in the world to muse over God’s Word with. But, we weren’t having Bible study that morning. We were having breakfast. And, to be honest, I’d anticipated that we might have something like granola and soy milk and we’d chug it down with barley green. (I’ve witnessed this very phenomenon at their house a number of times.) I think I’ve told you somewhere along the way that I was raised on Jimmy Dean sausage, burned to a crisp, and cheap canned biscuits for breakfast. (Still love it. Had that very fare within last 48 hours.) Pancakes. I couldn’t have been happier. Then out came the whole wheat flour from the cupboard. Hope deferred.

Oh, but the company was good. Jack and I talked a million miles an hour. When he was little, he thought my first name was “Bethmoore.” He called me the whole thing like it was just one word. It was terribly endearing and made me smile every time he said it. (I still love Jack. He was my handsome, very polite and engaging date to a wedding in Nashville not very long ago.) We talked it up while Angela flipped whole wheat pancakes and I got hungrier and hungrier. Finally, she put a plate down right in front of me, stacked three-high. They looked a little odd. Kinda like someone had spilled the Quaker Oats in the frying pan and she forgot to wash it before she poured the batter. I was raised with too many manners not to eat what my host set in front of me and, anyway, my stomach was growling so loud that their wiener dog was practically growling back. I took my first bite.

And they were incredible. I couldn’t believe it. Listen, this is a woman who feels pious when she eats wheat bread and if I drink a bottle of water, I tell everyone all day long that I did. They don’t care but I tell them anyway. I mean, stinking incredible. My plate was empty long before Jack’s pancakes were even on the table. I looked at him while I was eating them and said, “Jack, these pancakes will change your life.”

“No, they won’t.”

“Yes, Jack, they really will. I’ve never tasted a pancake this good. Your mother is the best cook in the whole wide world. I’m serious. These pancakes will change your life.”

“No, they won’t, Bethmoore.”

“Yes, Jack Cottrell, they really will. They will change your life.”

About the time I swallowed my last bite, Travis hollered at me from the other room and told me that if I didn’t get with it, we were going to be late. (Don’t even remember now where we were going. I think I had a flight home.) I hopped up, thanked Angela, probably kissed Jackson on the head and shot upstairs before he even got his pancakes. Angela said the kitchen was silent for a couple of seconds. Then that precocious boy said, “Bethmoore makes me hungry.” We’ve howled about it ever since.

I know that’s random. I don’t even know why I wrote it. I think because I have HONESTLY eaten more fruit in the last 12 hours than I have ever eaten in my life. And I feel high. Do you think it was the fruit?

Or the chocolate?

Gotta go. Sausage and biscuits almost done.

I love y’all today.

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Drive Thru the Bible

Hey Ladies,
This is Curtis. I wanted to take an opportunity to let you know about a new resource for men at Living Proof. We have created an audio daily devotional called Drive Thru the Bible. It consists of fifteen 7-10 minute messages you can listen to on the way to work, dropping the kids off at school, or running your daily errands. This 2-CD set on the life of Elijah was designed with men in mind, but would make a nice resource for anyone who might have trouble finding daily time in God’s Word or who just wanted an extra helping during the day.

Since it can be difficult giving a loved one a spiritual gift they weren’t asking for, here are a few helpful hints.

How to Give a Bible Resource to Your Husband

1) Picture how you would want to receive a gift and do the opposite.

2) Don’t hold him accountable if he hasn’t asked you to hold him accountable.
-To a man this is like calling an offsides penalty in the middle of a baseball game. He won’t want to play by your rules if he hasn’t agreed to play your game. *If you did not understand the sports reference above, just see rule 1 again.

3) Try not to create a universal standard for godliness.
-His approach to God will probably look different because men are not wired the same as women. You can find a calculator and an alarm clock in the electronics department, but they won’t output the same information. I’m the only one in our family who has done all of Beth’s Bible studies (I’m on the last week of Esther right now), but sometimes I have to split one day into two because I can’t focus for that long. So, don’t expect your husband to join you in a 45 minute in-depth Bible study session right away. Jesus may be more than happy with 8 minutes with your husband.

4) Tape the gift to a Sears, Lowes, or Home Depot gift card.
-It may also help to tell him that for every day he does his daily devotional the amount increases by $5. I understand this is a bribe, but how do you think I’m training my son to go to the bathroom on the potty?

5) Do not nag! REPEAT: Do not nag!
-If you want to see if he’s using it, look in these 3 places:
a) Where you gave it to him.
b) Wherever he keeps the cash he’s been saving, but doesn’t want you to know
about (but you already know about and help yourself to while he’s at work). *Amanda would like to add that she didn’t know it was his birthday cash!
c) Check his car. He might surprise you.

6) Don’t give up.
-”And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

*You can find Drive Thru the Bible: Elijah in the “new products” section of our LPM online store. You’ll see it if you click here and scroll down a little.

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A New President

My Dear Siestas, I can’t think of anything more appropriate and more Biblical than reserving this day on our blog for heart-felt prayers for our new president and his family. You are welcome to write your genuine words of intercession as a comment to this post just as you’d lift them before the Throne of Grace for President and Mrs. Obama and their two precious daughters. Today it makes no difference how anyone voted. God in His sovereignty has appointed this day and our new president needs our prayers. “This is good, and pleases God our Savior.” 1 Timothy 2:1-3.

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Cheers to the Doer!

         Hey Ladies, It’s Melissa! Have I mentioned how amazing you all were in giving so many tips for my budget? I will report more about this soon!  For now, I came across this lengthy quote by Theodore Roosevelt, the twenty-sixth American President, and for some reason it brought tears to my eyes.  There is a good chance you have already heard it or read it but I think it is worth reading multiple times.  It goes like this:

          “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without effort or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with these cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” (1910)

      In truth I know very little about the life of Theodore Roosevelt and actually am not even sure of the precise context of this quote but I think the gist of what he is saying is pretty clear.  And I think it has a general message that could apply to many situations.  Now, I realize I am a little boyish in the sense that I love battle imagery. If you’re an all pink lady, this quote may not be for you. For those of you who are still with me here, the reason I love this quote is because it reminds me a lot of the criticism that sometimes fills our pews.  You see, I spent a lot of my time in college and graduate school critiquing the methods of various bible teachers, pastors, and writers.  Criticism is the name of the game in most academic institutions and rightly so.  It is quite appropriate in those contexts.  The difficult thing about studying the Bible in an academic institution is that it invades your entire life…I mean you can’t even escape your field of study when you are sitting at church trying to get a breath of fresh air.  This makes for an interesting dilemma.  As I would sit through various sermons I would think to myself, “Oh no! Gasp, a topical sermon, but wait, I only approve of expository preaching.”…“Did he/she teach that text appropriately?” “Was that even in the right context?” “Well, he/she obviously has never read this passage”… “Is this worship song really fit to be sung in these hallowed corridors?” 

Now I am not saying that these are bad questions to be asking per se, but simply explaining my personal situation.  Well, interestingly, it was about that time that I got so fearful to even lead a small group Bible Study in fear that I would pronounce something wrong or spread heresy.  And God forbid, that someone would say I just wasn’t a very good teacher/leader. I had apparently sat with my arms crossed during one too many sermons.  You see, the more I sat under teachers, pastors, and worship leaders with the goal of sizing them up, the more fearful/timid I was becoming to even serve in a very small ministry capacity. 

The Lord has done a great work to change my heart over the years.  He has done it through His Word. Frankly, I think I was becoming a modern-day Pharisee.  The first time I became fearful of who I was going to become was when I was at a church in Grad school and immediately after the sermon a man (who apparently took great pride in having been to Seminary) rushed up to the Pastor and “proved” to him that he preached one of his points wrongly. The dude didn’t even thank the Pastor for his wonderful message. Nothing. Just criticized him for something so trivial and silly.  I was for sure “dumber”. Yet wiser. Because I saw a vision of whom I could become. I mean, easy for this dude to sit back and wait for the Pastor to slip while this faithful man had to get up and preach in front of thousands of people.  He had prepared all week for a man to immediately rush up to him with a pointed finger in the biblical text. Sounds like something you would hear Jesus condemning in the Gospels, doesn’t it?

I have come to realize what a miracle it is for the Lord to use us in spite of our weaknesses.  We are going to make mistakes and dangit, we may even teach a passage of Scripture a tiny tiny little bit out of context at some point. Not because we want to or because we are maliciously trying to lead people astray, but because we are simply human. I am all for being trained to study the Bible. It’s the biggest passion in my life, but the truth is, we still just see through a mirror dimly. We don’t see fully yet.  The truth is we may study and study and study, and then get something slightly wrong.  Or think about this- maybe we are teaching a Sunday school class and we got all the doctrine/theology down perfectly, but our delivery wasn’t smooth.  In fact, it sounded terrible.  Well, the glorious thing is that the Lord uses the truth we taught anyway.  And maybe we’ll improve the eloquence of our delivery the next time.  I love it.  I really do.  Our fears of not getting it all right should never keep us from serving faithfully.

I just want to give a shout out- a toast of sorts- to all of you women who will serve tomorrow morning in your various congregations in spite of your fear of not being perfect and polished.  You are putting yourself out there for the sake of the body of Christ- you may be bloody and bruised, but you’re in the ring, right?  Sorry about the sports metaphor, pink ladies…lucky for you- I am done ranting.

      CHEERS to “the doer, not the mere critic- the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done” (Roosevelt, 1891). For, “Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable; but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it.  The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness.  It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger.” (Roosevelt, 1894)

 

 

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A Group Hug

Hey, Darling Things! You guys just equipped me with some of the most profound material and insight I have ever seen in that previous post about “Acting a Fool.” Lord have mercy, I can’t tell you how many of those entries made me nod and say out loud, I’ve been THERE. Thank you so much for helping me out. I just closed the comments because the numbers can get so overwhelming that people tend not to read them anymore. I’m cutting and pasting them on a document and printing them out for a notebook I’ve already begun on the subject. You have helped me immensely. Pray that God will use this material to bring forth much fruit.

The thing that made me laugh out loud was the comment that I just brought in a few minutes ago on that post that said (in all caps like this), “Beth, WE WOMEN NEED A GROUP HUG!” Yes, we do! And I know a huge God who has everlasting arms and is up for the task! In fact, I’ll just quote the whole passage: (BTW, this was a memory segment I wrote in a spiral two years ago and still think about all the time)

“There is no one like the God of [you and me], who rides on the heavens to help [us] and on the clouds in His majesty. The eternal God is [our] refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out [our] enemy before [us] saying, ‘Destroy him!’ So [we] will live in safety alone; in a land of grain and new wine (new Welch’s for the Baptists), where the heavens drop dew. Blessed are you, O [Child of God]! WHO IS LIKE [US], A PEOPLE SAVED BY THE LORD? He is [our] shield and helper and [our] glorious sword. [Our] enemies will cower before [us] and [we] will trample down their high places.” Deuteronomy 33:26-29 NIV

Girlfriends, we may have some sad and embarrassing stories back there but we are not a sad, pathetic people. Who is like us, a people saved by the Lord? We have a Healer! A God who grants “incomparable power” to those of us who keep believing Him. It is the same power that He exerted when He raised Jesus from the dead. (Ephesians 1:19-20) Lord have mercy, if He can raise the dead, He can heal our insecurities. Now, here’s what I want from you in response to this post. Write ONE PHRASE or ONE SHORT SENTENCE (no longer than that or they won’t be able to be posted here) that testifies who we are or what we possess in Christ. Let’s balance off the previous post with some mighty confessions that can help demolish strongholds of defeated thoughts that make us feel and act insecure WHEN WE’RE NOT. This is a defeated frame of mind, not a defeated state of life. If we’re believers in Christ, the truth is, we’re NOT insecure. But we do indeed feel that way. And too often behave that way. We need an overhaul, Girls. Let’s shake a little ground by confessing some Truth! These do not need to be anonymous. When you read these comments, say them out loud, personalizing every single one of them for yourself. You’ll feel the power of confession. Keep in mind, Girls, we most believe what our souls and mouths most often confess.

PS. As for our Siesta who is doubting her salvation even though she truly accepted Christ several years ago because somebody with authority told her he doubted it, please read Romans 10:8-10. If you’ve done or will do TODAY what those Scriptures say, you are as saved as Billy Graham. None of us lives consistently every moment but we press on toward singlemindedness.

It may take me a while to bring these in today so be patient if you don’t see your comment right away. The Mister and I had a slumber party last night and in a little while Mommy (who calls herself VVPG – Very, Very Pregnant Girl) will be over here and we’ll spend the day doing all sorts of things out and about. Curtis is speaking this weekend so Bibby is jumping with glee into her official role as family party animal. 2 Girls and A Boy just wanna have fun.

I love you guys!

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