Archive for May, 2011
When God first drew me to Bible study curriculum, I had no thought of ever having an office or even a “ministry.” I fell in love with Scripture at my old dining room table in my late twenties after taking a Bible doctrine class. Over the course of weeks, months and then years, that table was bow-legged and piled halfway to the ceiling with resources, pages, colored pens. It hardly ever had an actual meal set on it. If folks needed to eat, I reasoned, they could eat at the breakfast table. My man got so weary of book-tyranny that he practically did a cartwheel in his cowboy boots when I found a tiny office space at a nearby building that we could (barely) afford.
Over the years and one wonderful person at a time, God built a true team and led us from that office building to our own (house-like) ministry building. (Only about 14 of us work in-office, in case you’re trying to picture the size.) One of my very favorite parts about working here amid these fine women of God is lunch conversation. We have staff prayer time on Mondays at noon so, between the other four workdays a week and my travel schedule, I usually average about 2-3 lunches a week with these dear sisters, ranging in age, in background and denomination. But those times are highlights for me and we talk a hundred miles an hour and, many times, laugh a creak in our necks. Occasionally at lunch I throw a topic out on the table and hold a mental bucket wide open to catch what tumbles out of my coworkers mouths. If Curtis happens to be at lunch that day, it’s even better. He is man enough and opinionated enough to provide a welcome shore for this sea of estrogen. Today there were only 6 of us girls so, late in the lunch, I said to them, “OK, I have a question for the table.”
I told them about one of my LPL praise team members showing me some writings that his new wife had done (with her permission, of course). They were psalms, really. Gorgeous outpourings of love and need and wrestling and waiting that she’d written to God over the course of what I’d suppose was a decade. The book was compiled from portions of her prayer journal and, as I read them, I marveled at the beauty and almost blushed at the intimacy. One thing was certain: Jesus was and is the uncontested love of her life. And, from her husband’s point of view, he was twice as loved and blessed because he was second to God (and God alone).
Reading her journal stirred up a fresh longing in me. I know a woman who poured out pages and pages and pages like that. No, not as beautifully most of the time, but often as intimately. Jesus has been life to me. Redemption from wreckage. I know He has been the same to many of you. But here is the conflict her journal whipped up in me. In many of those extended periods of time when I’ve poured out my heart like that days-upon-end, I was going through extreme crisis and marrow-deep healing. (One season was as recently as nine months ago so, certainly, not all of these are in the past.) In my normal practice when I’m not in complete crisis mode, my sweetest and dearest relationship in life is still with Jesus. Even in all my frailty and fallenness, He is how I start my day. I always make confession of sin toward the beginning, get into His Word then pray for myself for several minutes right at the end but, in between, Girlfriend, I HAVE A LIST! I mean, mature believers are meant to have healthy intercessory lives, right? The New Testament summons us over and over to pray for one another. I keep a prayer journal of intercession with multiple people on it everyday. And, then, all these natural disasters! We have to be on our faces, don’t we? And, what about the spiritual condition of this country?? It needs prayer, doesn’t it? “If My people who are called by My Name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face…”
Yes and yes and yes and yes and yes, yes, yes, yes, YES. BUT, we will miss out on the new wine of life if we do not also spend time in the presence of Jesus just simply being present with Jesus. Most things don’t fix on their own. We don’t automatically forgive on our own. Or heal on our own. Or put others first on our own. Or discern between good and evil on our own. Or comprehend the Scriptures on our own. We are the children of God and our hearts need tending and mending that only He can bring. And, in our intercessory roles, we’re also wise to come to grips with the fact that we’re not in control and our whole worlds won’t fall apart if we don’t get through our lists today.
SO, here’s the question! How do we balance both kinds of prayer: for others and for ourselves?? How do you grapple with this dilemma? Most of the time, I let crisis be my guide and when I need more personal tending, I spend more personal time with God on matters concerning my own heart. I think that’s a good plan and it’s worked fairly well for a long time. But, then, I read something like that young woman’s journal and I long for that level of personal intimacy with Christ every single day. Anybody else?? I know there’s no getting this thing down pat but I think I need some shifting and sifting in my prayer life.
We had the richest conversation over it at lunch time and now I’d love to hear your take on it. So far from our conversation, I think I’ve decided that I’m going to stay with my usual early morning prayer-practice with the primary emphasis on intercession for most days a week, but, at least for a little while, I’m going to take two mornings back a week, primarily just for Him and me. Times just to bring my own needy heart before Him with concentration and complete transparency for fresh intimacy and revival. More than the few minutes I spend on other days. Needless to say, this is all subject to the daily leadership of the Holy Spirit and He can turn the whole thing upside down any time He wants but I think I’m about to get that pen back out and write some new love letters to the dearest Love of my life.
Anybody else struggling with how to pray? I’m not talking about formulas here nor doing the same thing the same way every day. I’m just talking about some basic balance. Anybody found some?? Let’s hear it! (Not too long, ladies! Think succinct!) Scripture tells us to encourage one another and stimulate one another’s hearts and minds toward the Lord Jesus. That’s what Siestaville is all about. Don’t freak out if it’s morning before we post many of your comments. Keith just called me and wants me to go somewhere with him this evening so I won’t be able to bring in comments much tonight. I’ll bring in a few this afternoon then K-Mac and I will get the rest of them posted as we can. You are dear to us around here! I missed you at the lunch table today.
P.S. Make me a promise that nobody falls into condemnation here. I am well aware that some of you moms of young children (and some of you caring for elderly parents) are doing well to get ten minutes alone with the Lord. He meets us where we are. Let’s stay healthy here. Let’s also encourage one another to grow in our intimacy with Christ.
Siestas, this is Amanda checking in with a broken heart. You may know that I married into a wonderful, godly family from Southwest Missouri. I can’t count how many times I’ve sat shotgun next to Curtis as we’ve made our journey down the highway from Springfield to Houston. It has always been our tradition to stop in Joplin for something to eat on the way home. My heart aches every time I see another headline about the tornado that ripped through the city on Sunday – the latest calling this the deadliest single U.S. tornado since they began keeping records 60 years ago.
I can’t fathom the death, destruction and fear that has gripped that city. I pray God is showering down strength and the hope of the Gospel onto those people. There are some incredibly faithful, hard-working, Jesus-loving folks in the state of Missouri and I pray that God is equipping them to minister to these survivors with incredible compassion and effectiveness. I pray that the ones who have lost everything will find Jesus to be so very near. I pray they will see restoration. For the ones who have lost friends and family members, I pray for comfort and peace. If anyone reading this has been directly affected, I want to tell you that I’m so very sorry for what you are going through.
I am praying for God to be merciful as another round of storms is due to hit the region. Curt’s sister, Lindsay, is due to have our first little niece this week. Of course I’ve been obsessing over her like any good sister-in-law, and even more so now. We are going up there next week to meet the baby. All that to say, Missouri, you are on my heart every minute. And we are all praying for you.
Hey, Siestas! I just printed out Day 1 of Week 5 of the James manuscript (ultimately, there will be seven weeks of homework, God willing) and decided to take a few minutes before I dive into the next thing. Actually, I wish we could just sit and talk for a little while. I’m in a chatty mood. One day soon we’re going to figure out how we can do some informal live streaming video and skype some of you guys on here. Wouldn’t that be fun? I have one of my trusty coworkers looking into that right now and I’ll keep you posted.
I’m working from home today because Keith is out for the day and two dogs are WAY too many to take to the office. Talk about mass pandemonium. Geli (Keith’s bird dog) is big enough to jump the back fence at the office and, when I bring her inside, she decides that any toy Star picks up is exactly the one she’s always wanted and barks her head off with that really jealous kind of yelp. So, I’m home today and getting to take a break right at my very own breakfast room table. (And dining room table and all-purpose visiting table and our only table.)
I wish you were sitting right across from me and, while we were taking our Bible study break, I’d fix you some of this, too.
That’s one of my favorite afternoon snacks. It’s actually tea instead of coffee because it goes so well with the Milano Cookies. I dip them into the hot tea so the chocolate melts and then I hold it on my tongue until it disintegrates. Yum. That sounded so good that I’m stopping for another bite. Lord have mercy. I’m so glad He gave us tongues.
Amanda is the one who got me started on a spot of tea. (Just a small spot. Not a true devotee.) She never got into the coffee mania of renown with her sister, father, and me but we were ecstatic when she developed taste buds for hot tea while she and Curtis lived in northern England. She took to their very basic (cheap) variety and it’s a good thing because it’s easy to get here in the States. I keep a box of it in the cabinet at all times so she can have tea when she’s over while Lis and I have coffee.
As I sit here sipping tea, these are a few of the thoughts rolling around in my bleached blond head…
I totally dig turtles. They’re such a mixture of hard and soft.
How I love looking at Star after she’s been to the groomer. I took her today for her second hot-weather cut. Once I realized she wasn’t going to be shamed by it (grin), I asked them to go a little shorter. She’s just darling. Looks just like a puppy. I wish you could see her tail because they left it really fluffy. It looks so odd that I can’t quit grinning at her. I keep telling her that I’m laughing with her and not at her but that’s what my girls say to me and I know better.
How fresh this verse is hitting me. It came up in my quiet time yesterday (out of the fifth week of “Brave”) and I thought how much that one half-a-verse answers. Just think about it! Revel in a pure-dee NEVER, EVER! In a life of grays, give me some black and white! I took it to staff prayer time yesterday and we worked on memorizing it together.
One by one we coworkers mentioned various concerns we had, all the way from personal to global issues, then we followed each one up by saying the verse together in unison. We truly felt the power of God fall on us. Then we played a goofy word game. On rare occasion, I feel just devious enough to see if I can bring out the friendly spirit of competition in my very godly staff members. I was feeling it yesterday. I had printed multiple copies of the verse out in a big font and in as many different colors as I had coworkers. I then cut out each word, threw them all in a bag, shook them up then, after our lesson, poured them out on the table in a big mess and said, “GO!” They had to choose a color (some shades were gleefully similar) and arrange each word of the verse in order. As I explained the objective and was just about to pour them out, one of them said in a frenzy, “Are we trying to see who can do it the fastest?” No, I said. But I wouldn’t mind if you tried. And it was a free for all. Made me really laugh. It’s a wonder they didn’t draw blood. Love them so much.
Let’s see what else has been going through this head…
TOO MUCH!!!!!! Amanda has cried two dozen times and I’ve cried one dozen. Curtis is so proud he can’t stand it but he’ll bite his lip bloody trying not to join Amanda and I in our sappiness. Our man-child! We’ll have a kindergarten student in three short months. Good grief. Somebody stop how fast this is going! He is one of the most wonderful things that has ever happened to this family. So full of life. So hilarious. So BIG in all his feelings and reactions. He left these by Melissa’s old bed last week when he went to sleep at our house and I can’t bring myself to move them one single inch.
I am so excited about this one! (I know you’re thinking “You say that every time,” but somehow God stirs up a unique brand of anticipation in my heart for almost every single one. Sometimes it comes from pain. Sometimes from joy. Sometimes it comes from passion for a Word burning a hole through me but it always comes with a feeling toward that event in particular. Only Jesus can do that.) God began speaking to me about the subject matter a week or so ago and I’ve been trying to listen hard and wide. I’m sad to say that we won’t have a ticket giveaway this week because this one blew our minds by selling out a while back. We’re in a church this time so there’s not the seating of an arena but it’s still a whopping forty-three hundred women. Make no mistake. That is a big group! Anything past 200 gives me a serious case of butterflies and, if there are any men in the less-than-200, that gives them to me worse. Give me girls, Lord.) We are thrilled to be in a sanctuary and cannot wait to meet the group God is drawing. Any time an event sells out, we think, “Wooooo-EEEEEE!” (Hear that like Jed Clampett) “If God has stirred up that kind of expectation, He must be up to something! We don’t want to miss Him for the world!” Well, OK. I’m probably the only one that actually says “woooo-eeeee” (well, Travis – AKA Jethro – does, too) but we all feel a blast of anticipation if that body of believers shows a heightened expectation of God in any discernible way. If they’re especially excited, so are we!
I guess break time is over but, man, you were good company while it lasted. I think of you everyday. I’m so proud of you guys for pursuing Jesus amid the train wrecks and derailments of life that I hardly know what to say. He is so worthy, Sisters. He is so worthy.
Keep turning your eyes to the skies…
“For You, Lord, have NEVER forsaken those who seek You.”
Can you fathom that we are on our 10th memory verse??? Good grief! 2011 is almost halfway over! Amanda and Curtis just got Jackson’s preschool graduation pictures and we all nearly flipped. It is the cutest thing ever, especially with that missing front tooth. His ceremony is in a few days but the little blue cap and gown just about put all of us over the edge. We will have a kindergartener next year and a mighty fine one at that. It just sails by. And how well many of you know.
I am getting lots of questions about whether or not we’re having Siesta Summer Bible Study. I want to say yes so badly. I have tried to turn this puzzle piece every conceivable direction to see how it would fit on the table. Between SSMT every 1st and 15th, the summer Living Proof Lives, the final Deeper Still, and, probably the biggest factor of all, the complete James manuscript due date at the end of summer, I just can’t make it work and still be a wife, mom, and active Bibby. I also don’t have my faithful blog master, Amanda, here to assist me with all that summer Bible study entails right now. I am, however, presently thinking of some ways that we can hold one another accountable to stay in the Scriptures this summer and also give you the opportunity to connect with other Siestas who want to do some of the same studies. Stay tuned for that. For now, I’ll joyfully recommend to you two that I’ve done this Spring:
Duty or Delight by Tammie Head (Many of you will remember getting to know this brand new author in April through our blog video. She is dear to me and will no doubt become dear to many of you.)
Brave by Angela Thomas (Angela is a gifted teacher and writer and I try not to let anything she offers sit on the bookstore shelf for long before I bag it and read it. I’m almost finished with this study and have been tremendously blessed by it.)
Both of those women love Jesus and communicate His Word beautifully. And you know how I feel about Priscilla Shirer and everything God uses her to bring to the table. You’ll never miss on her. Man, I wish we could do one of their studies the traditional way in Siestaville this summer but sometimes we realize that even another good thing is perhaps the wrong thing for now. If the Lord is willing, we’ll definitely do a study our usual way next summer on the off year from SSMT.
OK, young ladies, how about that 10th verse?? NO DROP OUTS!!! This verse is trying to leap off the page at me this time around and not so much for my own plight right now but for some people I really love:
Beth, Houston, Texas. “The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He delivers those who are discouraged.” Psalm 34:18 The NET Bible
Praise You, Lord. You are so faithful. Close in on those who are brokenhearted and hold them in Your healing grasp. Deliver the discouraged in such dramatic ways that You alone get the credit. We exist here in this blog community to give You glory, Lord. Come and get it. Our eyes are to the skies.
Hey, Sweet Things! Amanda, Melissa, and I are on a night-or-two-close-by-getaway and we watched that silly video together last night and nearly laughed till we cried over how tired that woman was. The irony was that I actually thought I had rested up a bit. (And said so.) I could hardly put two words together. BUT, it was done with love! If not brain cells! You are good sports.
Hey, Sweet Things! Today is my first official day back to work after the James taping and the first thing I did, after hugging coworkers, was sit down and tape a video greeting to you. It takes a day or two to get it on Vimeo but we’ll have it up here on the blog just as soon as we can. It’s, of course, mostly ridiculous except to us Siestas so rein in your expectations. It’s just me saying hey to you after being away for so long and thanking you for your prayers. But as God would have it, I have another reason to hop on here today. I’ve been waiting for it to come in so that I could tell you about it and we literally just opened the box. Here it is:
It’s the brand new (workbook) So Long Insecurity Group Experience! Look really closely now:
Exactly right here:
Lean on in!
One more time!
This one’s for you, Siestas. It hits the shelves this coming week. I love you so dearly. We’ll do a giveaway soon but I couldn’t wait till then to show it to you. I’m not meaning to make a bigger deal out of it than it is but, Girlfriend, it’s big to me. Your Mama.
Before I became a mother, it was easy to pick out a Mother’s Day gift for my mom. I had the privilege of ignorance. But on February 17, 2006, that ignorance flew out the window of Baylor Grapevine Hospital when a baby boy was placed in my arms. Now I knew.
Having heard on my birthday every year about the 14 stitches my mother suffered during childbirth and how many months she felt that pain, I now felt it.
Having heard my mother say that having a child is like carrying your heart outside your body and letting it walk around, I now carried it. I now saw it take first steps.
I had never loved my mother more. Now I knew. The magnitude of what my mother had done for me all my life started to sink in.
So how exactly am I supposed to say thank you to my mother now that I know?
For countless meals fixed or fetched, for hairdos perfected before school and messed up before the bus got us all the way there, for refereeing more sibling battles than one can count, for pretending and being silly, for enduring back to school shopping with two daughters year in and year out, for carpooling, for taking us on vacations to places we wanted to go, for protecting us from harm, for comforting us when kids were mean, for correcting us when we were mean, for listening to kids’ music in the car, for teaching our VBS classes, for volunteering at the school, for confidentially counseling our friends, for cheering us on from the bleachers even when our team couldn’t win a game, for enduring our adolescent mood swings, for playing basketball in the driveway, for teaching us about Jesus Christ, and for doing all these things with love and a smile on her face. HOW? How do I thank my mother for raising me? And for doing it without letting on how hard it was?
Mom, truly, I thank you. Now that I know, I don’t know how you did it. But I’m grateful. And I hope I can raise your grandchildren in such a way that they remember me with a smile on my face. Even if I put all my money in my purse and spent a year doing nothing but shop for the perfect Mother’s Day gift to accurately reflect your worth to me as a mother, it would elude me. Nothing in a store could ever measure up to your value.
I may have a little gift in my hand for you on Mother’s Day, but I also want to give a gift that means something more. I want to show you your value to me by showing a little girl in India how much value she has to Christ. She is living in a very dark, unsafe brothel and her own mother is a slave to many men. Her mother is unable to care for her because she is not free to stop working. Her mother could sell her young daughter to the brothel and escape a living hell. But her mother wants freedom, protection and life for her child. Her mother is saying, “Help me by helping my daughter.”
With a financial gift made in your honor, God is providing a means of rescue for this little girl through As Our Own. The little girl’s mother will entrust her to their care. When she visits her daughter she will see her thriving and healthy and she will know that she has given her child a priceless gift. The child will be raised by loving women who will nurture her like their own daughter. She will go to school and be educated, which will change the path of her future. She will be introduced to Jesus Christ, who loves her and gave Himself for her. For the rest of her life, a family of believers will devote themselves to her well being.
Rescuing children from horrific exploitation and eventual death from AIDS does not come without a cost. For those of you reading this, the cost is financial. For a team of believers on the ground in India, the cost is spiritual and physical. Today I am looking for people who will partner with us by giving sacrificially to As Our Own. Let’s equip them to do the work God has called them to do. They are anointed for this work. They are even training pastors to take up this cause so that the church in India will become a mighty advocate for these children. The momentum is building and I ask you to please be a part of what God is doing.
Honestly, it is easier not to know about these things. I could have written details in this post that would have made you sick for the rest of the week. What happens in that red-light district haunts me daily. But I will not turn away because it’s easier. I will consider what is happening, how I can help, and I will take five minutes to go to their new Web site and actually do it. The beauty is that right now you and I can impact a child’s future and honor our moms (or a special mother figure in our lives) at the same time. Who is with me?
Donate in honor of Mother’s Day: AsOurOwn.org/ThanksMom
About As Our Own
The extreme poverty in India places girls at great risk for exploitation, enslavement, and neglect. Girls are regularly abused and degraded, forced into lives of bonded labor, either in organized begging or the sex trade.
These girls will face a dark, horrific future—unless someone intervenes.
God has opened the door for As Our Own to rescue girls before they are exploited, giving us the privilege to care for each one as our own—for life. We are building strong communities through our Lighthouse church network and training strong leaders and pastors at our Hope College, all to break these cycles for girls in future generations.
Your gifts make a lasting difference for these girls. Thank you!
Hey, you mighty warriors!
By the time you get this SSMT post, I will be on my way to Nashville for the videotaping of James: Mercy Triumphs. It almost makes me cry to see the actual (recently settled-upon) title in print. So much time and focus and prayer and frustration and second-guessing and bewilderment and wonderment – and learning and thrilling and growing and wallowing – go into the whole process of a Bible study journey. Many tears. Healthy laughs. Big eye-openers. Rich conversations. Moments of, “What on earth was I thinking??” Above all, so much desperation for Jesus. If God doesn’t pour His Spirit into it, it will fall flat like a collapsed pup-tent. That’s the God’s-honest truth. After 14 journeys similar to this one, I know just enough in advance to be dangerous. Enough to start shaking (not with anointing but mostly with anxiety) when the outline first goes on paper. I know now how life’s going to go on in the middle of it and how all sorts of unplanned ups and downs, woes and joys will mark its pages. I know now how I’m going to end up writing about things in my life and family that haven’t even happened yet. Some of them will be wonderful. Others will be painful. It’s kind of like starting a new journal. There is a certain amount of trepidation because you simply can’t guess what will fill those pages. It’s a stomach-knotting blend of anticipation and raw fear. But what I forget sometimes in that anxious moment when I know there’s no turning back is the grace. The goodness of God. The fact that I’m invited to believe He was the initiator of it, as He is in all things faith (Hebrews 12:1-3) and that I don’t have to assume complete control over it. I’m invited to remember what life the Scripture has and how much this woman has to learn.
Good grief. I’m sitting in a salon chair about to bawl my head off. (Writing this to you on Friday.) I’ll try to rein this one in and quit being so dramatic. This is no time to wear you guys out about the James Bible study because Melissa and I still need you to pray us through until the complete manuscript is turned in at the end of summer. The beauty of all the studies prior to Esther is that they were pre-blog and I didn’t gnaw you like a bone throughout the whole ordeal. It’s too late now.
Make no mistake. The studio audience, the LifeWay video crew, and I need your prayers like crazy this week. Yes, pray for us during the day when preparation is taking place but especially pray for us in the evenings on Monday (tomorrow) through Thursday. That’s when the actual sessions will be taped, two per night, back-to-back. And pray big things for the participants, too! They are so incredibly important in the process. Pray for them to get totally caught up in the Scriptures and in what God is speaking into their lives and be oblivious to the cameras. Pray for them to experience a powerful encounter with Christ through His Word and for Him to do something utterly remarkable in each life. THEN, pray for that anointing to also transfer just that heavily to the women who will one day watch the series on the other side of the screen. I requested a smaller group of participants this time (like I have at Life Today – the perfect size!) but that means the cameras will be much more obvious to all the ladies in the audience. Pray also for us to bond in the Spirit right from the beginning.
Thank you so, so much.
I won’t get a chance to blog much (if at all) while I’m in Nashville but Amanda and Melissa will chime in. I will try to get on Twitter a time or two a day perhaps so, for those of you who like that, we’ll stay in touch that way. (@BethMooreLPM – writing that kind of thing always makes me want to throw up in my mouth.)
After the sessions are complete, the video team and I will spend all day Friday doing some additional taping that won’t require an audience. Later in May they will come to Houston and we will do yet more taping. At that time (later in May), I’ll do the intros to the session and also an on-camera dialogue with Melissa over the project. She has been a huge part of this journey. In fact, she was the first of the two of us who felt drawn to this book of the Bible. She is not a camera hog and won’t let me add her name on the cover but it would be a crying shame for the women not to get a chance to connect with her on screen. She has zero interest in entertaining but she has a huge interest in studying. That’s enough to make her push past her discomfort and get on the screen. In case you’re not up to date on her part of the project, she is writing extra study portions 2-3 times per week of Bible study for the student that wants to go deeper.
I am always reluctant (as both my daughters are) to mention two of us instead of three. Amanda, Melissa and I are, as my people would say, thick as mud and we don’t like to pair off. As I mention Melissa often in this process, rest assured Amanda is cheering us on and praying for us every step of our way. She is not actively participating this time in the editorial process (I miss her so much) because her focus and energies need to be on her family but we three women are together continually.
SO, did you think I’d forgotten what we’re doing on here today???? No ma’am. I most certainly did not. All I’ve just told you led to the Scripture I’ve chosen as my ninth verse.
Beth, Houston. “Rely on the Lord! Be strong and confident! Rely on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14 The NET Bible
Yes, Sir! If this selection resonates with you, join me with it! I’d be honored to memorize with you. I will say it over and over this week. Maybe you will, too, and He will hear us each time and find joy in it. I pray with all my sappy heart that the Spirit of God loves to hover over this community.
OK, so what are your verses, Sisters??? DON’T YOU DARE QUIT!!!!!
I love you to pieces.