The Foxes in the Vineyard

Every so often I come across a song that ministers to me deeply. I don’t know what the Lord uses to speak to you intimately, but besides His Word, for me, it’s music. It is very easy for me to recall songs from different seasons that carried me, and more often than not, they were actually words from scripture put to song. I like that a lot.

I remember being really into Shane and Shane’s Psalm CD my first year of college without realizing the songs were all actual Psalms. I know, label me flakey. Anyway, it wasn’t rare that I would come across a Psalm and suddenly realize I already had the whole thing memorized because I’d been singing it for years. Things like that make me so happy.

A couple months ago Audrey Assad came out with a new CD that I immediately fell in love with. (If you’ve not heard any of her music, you’re missing out on an angelic blessing.) Two songs in particular I played over and over and over again and, to this day haven’t grown weary of them. In fact, the more I listen to them the more they make my heart swell. It’s these two songs that I’ve listened to in some dark and lonely moments that have brought me back to the goodness of who God is.

The first song I heard off of that CD and clung to for dear life was Good To Me.

I’ll pause and give you a minute to go download it on iTunes. (I promise you won’t be disappointed. And if you are, let me know and I’ll pay you back that 0.99 cents.)

Side note: I just realized you are able to listen and download the song here. You’re welcome. (And that’s straight from Audrey’s website, in case you are skeptical of that.)

And if you needed any more convincing, here are the lyrics. Let them soak into your soul.

I put all my hope in the truth of Your promise
And I steady my heart on the ground of Your goodness
When I’m bowed down with sorrow I will lift up Your name
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me

I lift up my eyes to the hills where my help is found
Your voice fills the night – raise my head up to hear the sound
Though fires burn all around me I will praise You, my God
And the foxes in the vineyard will not steal my joy

Because You are good to me, good to me

Your goodness and mercy shall follow me
All my life
I will trust in Your promise

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that it took me one listen to fall completely in love with this song, but I’ll readily admit that although I could pinpoint the obvious scripture references, I was confused by the foxes in the vineyard stealing my joy.

Some of you might immediately recall that reference, but me? Not so much. If you’re anything like me, you appreciate song lyrics, but more than that, you want to know what they mean and what you’re singing, so I looked it up.

And that’s when I came across this word picture:

“Catch the foxes for us, the little foxes, that ruin the vineyards–for our vineyard is in bloom.” Song of Songs 2:15 (NET)

Since Song of Songs isn’t my go-to book these days, it’s no surprise that I found that reference hidden in there. I don’t pretend to be a scholar and am certain I’ll never be labeled as one, but I have to believe that although I’m not married, because this is found in scriptures, it applies to me just as much as it would apply to anyone.

Because those foxes? They represent all the little hindrances and obstacles that threaten to sabotage my relationship with Christ. They restrain, restrict and put up barriers between Jesus and me. I can only imagine the foxes that sneak up on marriages. Or relationships.  Or families.  Or neighborhoods.  Or churches, for heaven’s sake!

Jealousy, envy, discord, anger, bitterness, insecurity, anxiety, lust, discouragement, hatred and the list could go on and on.

If we don’t continually nip them in the bud, the foxes will seek to spoil the growing fruitful vineyards.

What are your foxes? Last week I sat down, and besides the obvious circumstances I can’t control that threaten to steal my joy (and oftentimes they do), I listed out each of the foxes I’ve let in my vineyard. The things I do have control over because of Christ in me. It was amazing the difference it made in my week. Declaring out loud those ugly flaws. I dare us to ask the Lord to deliver us from them, ask the Lord to catch them before they can ruin one grape. Before they can pounce on you at the first sign of any good fruit.

Deliver us, Lord. Let not one fox steal our joy, because YOU, God are so good to us.

In the words of a very wise Bible study teacher, Joy Cometh!

Amen.

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 23!

My Border Collie, Queen Esther, is just about as handy as a GPS if she’s been to the destination at least once. The closer we get to where we’re going, the more hyper she becomes. The backseat of my car may as well be a treadmill. In fact, if I’m on the phone, I usually have to hang up because the person on the other line becomes too distracted to talk.

What is that?

My dog. Sorry. She’s a little over excited.

Is she hurt?

No. She’s happy.

What does she want?

Out!

She jumps from window to window and commences – not to bark exactly – but to yelp. I constantly insist to Keith that I have the gift of interpretation for the tongue Queen Esther speaks and, when we’re coming up on our destination, I am absolutely sure of what she’s saying: Let me out of this car so I can run the rest of the way!

Right about now, you’re the Queen – the real kind and not the canine variety – and it’s the perfect time to start your happiest yelping. You can see from the view out of your window that we are almost to our destination and, after a whole lot of hard work, I hope everything in you is hyping up and hollering, Let me out so I can run the rest of the way!

Good grief, you’ve been fantastic. I cannot recall ever having a higher percentage finish out the year. I’d have to check past years to confirm that but I don’t remember ever having a more active group from start to finish. I wish you were sitting right here with me in my chilly den in front of this fire and we could talk face to face instead of line to line.

Our heater is out and it is just about as cold in Houston as it gets most winters. We’ve already had the repairman out for hours but he’s been unable to fix it and advised us to call our builder. He thinks it’s a malfunction in the unit. You have to write an email request to the builder for a repair and we haven’t heard back from them yet so it could be a frosty few days. I just worked out on my elliptical with a jacket on if that tells you anything. I don’t mind so much though, as long as it’s fixed pretty soon. It’s gorgeous outside and I love sitting by a fire anyway. The part I don’t like is that Jackson and Annabeth’s room at my house is like ice and they really can’t even play in it right now when they come over. No worries, though. I expect it to be repaired surely by the first few days of this week.

If you were here, I’d also serve you up some cinnamon rolls in about an hour. I made homemade rolls for our Thanksgiving feast and I almost always roll out cinnamon rolls with the leftover dough several days later. They’re rising right now under some lights in the only warm end of my house.

Some of you are observant enough to ask me if I pulled two of them off the one pan and ate them raw because of those 2 circles of flour. No, I didn’t – though I was tempted – but I did peel them off and put them on the second cookie sheet because the 3 rolls that wouldn’t fit on the first pan looked so lonely over there. My cold house is going to smell like heaven in a little while. Sometimes I make a thick butter icing but, really, I prefer a thinner glaze made of powdered sugar, vanilla and a tiny bit of half and half. Too much icing takes away from the homemade flavor of the rolls in my opinion.

The inevitable question I get at a time like this is, “Do you always eat like that?”

Lord have mercy, no. But, Girlfriend, it’s a holiday.

I could make you hot tea or coffee to go with yours, depending upon your preference, and we’d chat a while and then we’d trade our 23rd verses.

My selection came up in my devotional this morning and catapulted me into prayer. I’m actually memorizing the 2nd chapter of Colossians right now but sometimes the section I’m working on next is too awkward out of context to post as an SSMT verse. For instance, if Colossians 2:21 were next, imagine this as my SSMT selection: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” See? Awkward. So, if I’m in the middle of a long portion, I usually go off road for SSMT and select a verse that is more user friendly so that women who are drawing a blank on their choices can go with me on mine if they wish. Here goes:

 

Beth, Houston. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. 1 John 3:8 ESV

The second half of it drew me into intercession. It does not say that the reason the Son of God appeared was to deny the works of the devil. It does not say that the Son of God appeared to downplay the works of the devil. It does not say that the Son of God appeared to decrease the works of the devil. It says He appeared to DESTROY the works of the devil.

So I started pinpointing some areas around my life and the lives of my family members and loved ones where the enemy is rearing up his ugly head. And with great joy and a sense of victory in my chest, I thanked Jesus for coming to destroy his works and asked Him to demonstrate that destruction right before our eyes in those areas. We know that “the ancient serpent, who is the devil” will not be completely bound until the Kingdom of the living Christ comes in its fullness and His throne is established right here on earth. At that time, the prayer we’ve prayed more than any other will finally be fulfilled: Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

But, until then, we are meant to experience stunning victories where we see living, breathing evidences that the enemy has been overcome. We’re meant to give the devil a taste of what he will experience in the Kingdom when he is bound for a thousand years. (Revelation 20:2)

Let’s not let him off the hook. Let’s remind our enemy every single day that he is not only defeated. His works are destroyed in Jesus’ great Name.

You, my dear sister, are a great privilege to serve. Walk strong with your God, young lady. Ask for a fiery faith to believe Him and for eyes to see His works manifested right here on this ailing planet. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4) 

Let’s toast to that.

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My Soul Knows

Hey, my beloved sisters! I have you on my mind right now, wondering how you are and what God is presently sowing into your path. I’ve been writing to you steadily through Children of the Day but today I found myself longing for real-time interaction. I’ve been thinking about a verse that I’ve known and loved a very long time. I like it in almost any version but it’s by far the most gorgeous in the King James.

 

I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    Marvelous are Your works,
    And that my soul knows very well.

     Psalm 139:14 NKJV

It’s the last line that I love so much. Life is hard and all our unanswered questions and unsolvable mysteries can make us feel like we’re getting sucked further and further into a black hole. We can come to the conclusion that there is really very little that we can know and, for the most part, we earthlings are victims of gravity, the soles of our feet stuck to the dirt and growing more callous by the day. Depression runs particularly rampant this time of year and darkness can be even darker for children of light. We know it’s not where we belong but we don’t always know how to crack the door to the sunshine.

We’re going to give that a shot today.

My challenge to you in the midst of all our questions is to behold what we each – individually, not corporately – really do know all the way into the dark folds of our souls. Here’s the 2-part assignment:

 

1. Complete this sentence: Right now I don’t have any idea… (pick only one thing, the thing that you find most confusing right now or most removed from your knowledgeable reach).

 

2. But these things my soul knows very well: (Write 5 things you know – really, really know – even in the black of night, even when you don’t feel well, even amid your thousands of other questions. Don’t just come up with 5 things by rote because you know they’re the right things to say and they’d be the top 5 priority pieces of information for people of our faith. What 5 things make the most difference to you right now in your circumstances?? What does your soul know very well? 5 things, Sweet Things. Don’t copy anybody else’s answers. Don’t even read anyone else’s list until you leave your comment. This is not about their relationship with your God. This is about yours. In a world of wondering, what do you know, Sister? Resist being predictable. Think about it. Don’t say it if you don’t know it to your core. For instance, don’t say, “I know God loves me” if the truth is that you doubt it every single day. Say what you know.

 

And those things will bridge your faith over to what you don’t.

 

I love you so much.

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When a Longing Goes Unmet

Last week through twitter I happened to come across an article on singleness. (Let me say upfront that although I’m using that as a springboard, this post isn’t about singleness, but rather each of our different longings. Because let’s be so honest, that is one of many longings left unmet. Okay, I feel better now. Grin.) Before reading it all the way through I quickly glanced through bits and pieces and the sweet girl who put herself out there had mentioned that she was 23 years old. A couple hours later when I had a moment, I actually read the entire post but realized her age had been removed.

And then I got to the comments.

It was no wonder that she removed her age because the first comment that I laid my eyes on was from someone ripping her to shreds for writing an article on singleness at the age of 23. What did she know? They were 34 and had waited a lot longer. How dare she?

Instantly I got defensive for this poor girl because a) I know all too well what it’s like to put yourself out there to then get slammed by the people instead of built up and b) since when was there an age limit that we could talk about singleness? Since when could we not express our desires until we had been labeled an expert? I didn’t comment because my blood pressure was too high and I’m pretty sure I would have said things I would have later regretted, but here is what I know and I would have said to that sweet girl if I could go back to that post:

The longings the Lord gives us are real. I don’t care if you’re 16 or 67, each desire and longing the Lord puts in us in something we have to lay down every single day.

At 23 I thought the world was ending because no one had put a ring on my finger. It was right after college that I was swimming in the deep end of all things weddings because that was the age that I watched seven of my close friends walk down the aisle to their beloved. Every turn I took I ran into another wedding, and with great joy, mind you, but I was reminded that I too had a longing that had yet to be fulfilled. If there was ever a time I could have said, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride” that would have been it.

Following that year, I’ve learned a lot about myself, grown a lot and matured in many ways regarding my present season, but I don’t discredit that year any more than I do this year.

When we are vulnerable, I don’t think we’re asking for someone to slam us into the pavement, rather, we need to hear, “I understand.”, “I’ve been there, too.”, “There is hope!”  “I’m so sorry you’re hurting.” and “You are not alone.” While I need people speaking truth to me every day and believing for me when I’m weary and tired, I also just want people to listen without fixing or listen without giving me their go to Jesus answer. We know God is sovereign, God is good and God has not forgotten us when life looks strangely dim, but we also need a safe place to share our longings and not be shamed for feeling alone, or misunderstood. There’s a time and place for correction and truth, but when compassion is extended, even if we don’t fully understand, that’s when ministry happens. Heaven forbid we become people who throw the first stone at those who are trying to live honest lives.

Last week I happened to have a little more alone time than usual and in some silence, I realized I had let a handful of anxiety slip into unnecessary areas of my life. I was achy and although on the outside things looked peachy, my insides were a hot mess. Later on in the week after I had the wherewithal to put my thoughts to paper (which doesn’t always happen, by the way) and I was able to make some sense of the stirrings I continually sit with. The truth is, I know I can sound like a broken record, and maybe you feel like that too, but in reality, no amount of freedom, success, friends, right words, traveling, passions, sleeping in (all of the perks of singleness) can suppress a deep longing that gets left untouched. (This is true of any deep longing in any season of life.) That list of pros are things I pursue and do all the time, but it doesn’t fill the void where some true longings lay dormant. This I do know, some longings are to be placed at the feet of Jesus everyday, it’s a faith journey and a trust walk that honestly gets more personal every year. This is true for every longing or dream that’s been shattered whether you’re 20 or 72. The thing of it is, when we entrust ourselves to Jesus, we don’t get to pick and choose how He develops our character to reflect Him. That’s where faith comes in. Trusting that He really does know best and do best.

But at my ripe age of 28, I’ve also learned that every longing inside of us, though we may not know it at the time, is a deeper longing for Jesus Himself. An emptiness He’s put there that can only be met by His love and mercy. When we’re dry and weary, we really want Jesus. When we’re discouraged and lonely, we really want Jesus. When we’re hungry and searching for something, anything to sustain us, we really want Jesus. A day is coming when every longing we’ve ever had will be met by Jesus Himself. That alone gives us some joyful expectation and hope.

Instead of hitting on an already bruised soul, might we extend some kindness and ministry to those that share with us so tenderly? Let us be the ones to remind them that God really does withhold no good thing, and if He is withholding something, as much confusion and pain as it brings at that time, it is ultimately for our good. We’re all deeply flawed humans just trying to get along with and love other deeply flawed humans. Kind words, tender hugs, and a chance to weep with those who weep goes a long way in a cruel and unkind world.

So to you who have an unmet longing, whether it be a husband you long to share life with, a child you long to bring into your home whether through adoption or naturally, a wound from a relationship that is still so fresh and you’re longing for the redemption of a bruised heart, a longing for a dream or passion to come true that’s laid dormant for years, a longing to do something you’ve been waiting to do, a longing to move up in your career, the longing to grieve something you’ve lost, whatever it is, to you I say:

Your longing is safe with Jesus, and please, Lord, I pray you’re longing is safe with us. You can weep for what has yet come to pass. You can be honest. You can rejoice when that thing for which you’ve prayed so long comes to fruition. You can talk about it in the here and now. You don’t have to talk about an unknown future. Sometimes the hardest question to answer when our lives are spinning is, “What’s next?” We want to know, “What’s now?” What is Jesus doing in you today in the midst of your unmet longing? Here you have permission to be honest. You have a voice.

Because Jesus cares. Jesus is holding every tear. Every unmet longing. And Jesus is working everything out for your good and for His glory. Lean into him. Do what it takes to trust him, whether that means putting yourself out there or keeping it in the secret parts between you and God. Your longings are not foreign to Him. To you and to myself I say, God is so faithful, dear sister. Take heart.

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

On my bed I remember you;
    I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
    I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your right hand upholds me.

Those who want to kill me will be destroyed;
    they will go down to the depths of the earth.
10 They will be given over to the sword
    and become food for jackals.

11 But the king will rejoice in God;
    all who swear by God will glory in him,
    while the mouths of liars will be silenced.

Psalm 63: 1-11

 

 

O Lord, all my longing is before you;
    my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs; my strength fails me,
    and the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my plague,
    and my nearest kin stand far off.

12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
    those who seek my hurt speak of ruin
    and meditate treachery all day long.

13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
    like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
    and in whose mouth are no rebukes.

15 But for you, O Lord, do I wait;
    it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,
    who boast against me when my foot slips!”

 Psalm 38:9-16

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A Lot of Sweet and A Lot of Savory and a Little Giveaway

Ladies! Y’all are so fun. I just need you to know that when it comes to breaking out all things Christmas, most agree to wait until after Thanksgiving. (Again, no judgement to those that decorate in September. Huge grin.) But, without further ado, here are our 20 pie winners that won completely at random, thanks to random.org. (Also, you’ll see a number by a name, that is the number of your comment which helps identify the winner if there isn’t a first and last name!)

Drum roll please….

14 – Melissa Embry

20 – Mary Lou

36 – Margee

43 – Joanne Swanson

44 – Robin Ballew

73 – Debbie Whitman

110 – Pam T.

222 – Linda Bennett

268 – Amanda C.

305 – Bernadette

335 – Shannon

505 – Tammy Wong

529 – Caroline

589 – Robbie

661 – Landa

734 – Kathy

737 – Tonya Leiva

832 – Ellen Yopp

930 – Sister Lynn

986 – Michele Oates

Congrats, ladies! You’ll be getting an email from me ASAP so that I can get your mailing address! We are so pumped for you. Goodness awaits you, for sure!

 

*Comments are now closed, ladies! We’ll be back soon with our 20 winners!

 

I’m not sure if you’ve ever picked up a clue that we are serious about two things around here: Jesus and food.

Man does live on bread, just not bread alone. (I wish you could see the big grin on my face.)

Just last week the Holiday Feast started around the LPM office. A little early if you ask me, but ready or not, we’re about to be bombarded with all manner of treats, and you won’t here one peep or complaint from our lips. There comes a time at LPM when I get serious about my workout regimen, and that’s always around Christmas and Thanksgiving, but regardless if I hit the pavement or not for a quick jog, I certainly enjoy every last bite of deliciousness around here.

When I say the feast started early, what I mean is a sweet friend of the ministry, who also happens to do all of our printing for Tuesday night Bible study (which starts in a little over eight weeks here…egads!), sent us one of our all time favorite pies.

What kind of pie, you might ask? The Brazos Pecan Pie that comes presented in the most fabulous wooden box from Goode Company. Goode Co. is a chain of all sorts of restaurants ranging from hamburgers and seafood, but they’re mainly known for their BBQ, and rightfully so. And they happen to make the world’s most delicious Pecan Pie.

“A decadent balance of sweet and savory” is how they sum it up on their website. Perfection if you ask me!

When I say we devoured the pie last week, I mean that in every sense of the word.

Allow me to share a visual with you.

Devoured. (And, for the record, this picture is as is, no filter.)

We may or may not have topped it off with a little whip crème.

If only we’d of had a little Blue Bell Vanilla Ice Cream lying around.

(Y’all, I’m salivating right now.)

Last year for Thanksgiving, LPM graciously gifted each staff member with a pie and when I walked in with that little wooden box to my house, you would have thought I walked in with a little Blue Tiffany’s box with diamonds inside. My family knew what the treat they were in for.

(Random Side Note: A couple years ago, my dad made a Mandolin out of said box. It’s true. I’m still impressed.)

Here is a picture of my pie from last year. It was too pretty not to photograph! This is what you’ll be receiving, for real. And believe me, it tastes as good as it looks!

Because the pie is something we all love so much, we decided for the Thanksgiving holiday to share the love with you (and your Thanksgiving table), our Siestas. It feels like the perfect giveaway, does it not?

If we could gift one to everybody, you know we would, but we’re going to give away TWENTY pies! Woohoo!

If you feel so inclined, I have one question for you: I respect those of you who pull out Christmas long before Thanksgiving rolls around, by I personally can only deal with one holiday at a time. I’m all for listening to Christmas music the day of Thanksgiving while decorating the day after. It just feels like a natural progression to me. Plus, there’s something to be said about Thanksgiving and just slowing down to enjoy the day without the hustle and bustle of shopping and wrapping presents.

When the pendulum swings, which side do you land on?

No judgment to those of you that put up your Christmas tree in September. To you I say, to each its own.

Okay, ready, set, let’s here from you! Your name and email address would be so helpful.

I’ll leave comments open for a little over 24 hours and close them tomorrow (Tuesday) at noon.

We’re SO thankful for you, Siestas. We thank God for you AND we get excited when we talk about you, which is every single day!

Happy Monday!

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2013 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 22!

Hey, Sweet Things! I’m writing you from the same pajamas I put on this morning after a bath. The flu hit the Moores and Jones with a fury at the first of the week and, at this point, Keith, Melissa, Annabeth, and I all have it. Our little four year old ran 103 degrees today. It broke our hearts. She’s been to the doctor and, needless to say, Amanda is not getting an inch from her. You will not waste a prayer on all of us and I’m going to stop and pray right now for those of you who are ailing or have sick families.

Gracious Father, touch us with Your outstretched hand, heal and restore us. Take authority over our bodies and our households and command all sickness to depart in Jesus’ Name. Forbid any further spread of viruses, Lord, and speak wellness and strength over us. Show tender mercies particularly to our young and our elderly. Grant us the wisdom to acknowledge Your goodness and faithfulness to us and to give You all glory for the full restoration of our health. Apply the power of the Cross to all that concerns us. You are worthy of all praise. By Christ’s stripes we are healed. You are faithful and true and we adore You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

At the first of the week before my fever spiked, God had me in Jeremiah 31. It is such a beautiful chapter of Scripture about restoration and the way back home for even the furthest wanderer. I’ll post the verse I found most visual as my selection for our 22nd entry. Here goes:

Beth, Houston. “I will say, ‘My dear children of Israel, keep in mind the road you took when you were carried off. Mark off in your minds the landmarks. Make a mental note of telltale signs marking the way back. Return, my dear children of Israel. Return to those cities of yours.'” Jeremiah 31:21 The NET Bible

I’m going to go ahead and post this an evening early in hopes of sleeping in a bit in the morning. I’m planning to be back at work with full strength on Monday, God willing and grace-bearing. I love you and it is such an honor to serve you.

OK, Sisters! Let’s hear your verses! Only 3 more to go!

 

 

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Mindful and Grateful and a Tad Pictorial

Hey, my dear sisters!

Although I won’t post this until Tuesday, I’m writing to you on the afternoon of Sunday the 10th. This is about the thousandth time I’ve corresponded with you from somewhere around an altitude of 27,000 feet. I’m on my second Delta flight of the day, heading home to Houston with so many memories of the last 8 months swimming around in this blond head. As many of you know because you so faithfully prayed us through, we wrapped up our final Living Proof Live event for 2013 this weekend. God just flat-out could not have given us a louder, more wonderful congregation at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach, Florida for a finale. They wanted Jesus and, in His unfathomable grace, He showed Himself faithful.

As any of you in a travel-oriented ministry know, life is all the while taking place while you live out a schedule that was set in stone way before you got a whiff of what the year would hold. We’re better off that way, aren’t we? If we could see what was coming, we’d insult the grace of God by our faithlessness that He’d not come through when the time came to meet the need. The greater Moore family – and, by that, I mean Amanda’s 4 Jones, Keith’s parents who live next door, Melissa, my man and me – have had a year with as much upheaval and pain as we have met in a decade.

Jesus graciously allowed Keith and me to have, hands-down, the most peaceful year of our marriage. You know the kind of people who are carefree and smooth sailing? Well, that would not be us. We both tend to be on the feisty side. And I write that with a smile. I’ve been so thankful for this, our closest-ever kiss of bliss. I don’t know what we would have done otherwise. Our children and our parents needed us badly. Needed Jesus badly. We just tried to be constant and present reminders that He was there and that we were right beside them. And we ate a lot. Sometimes that’s the best way to show a little extra love around here. We are a close family and close families laugh together and cry together and, in our clan, when an unforeseen collision happens, all of us are in the car. Some are in the front seat. Some in the back. But, make no mistake, we’re all in the car. And that’s how we want to be. I know many of you can relate.

So, through many ups and downs, twists and turns, needs and bleeds, we’ve lived these last many months on drips, streams, and gushes of God’s grace. I’ve flown north, south, east, and west this year earning Platinum status on United and turning on my cell phone at the first touch of the wheels on the tarmac to see if everybody at home was okay. I could cry typing and not just over memories that make my heart ache but because Jesus has been so faithful to us. He has gotten us through. He’s still getting us through. And He will get us through again in 2014 when we, then, live out a schedule etched on the calendar before we had any idea what was coming.

Jesus is coming. That’s what I know. And that’s why we Moores and Jones will stay at it, come what may.

With the finish of our last Living Proof Live event for the year and with your patience, I thought I might introduce you to some of the people I have the privilege to serve alongside. Some are more familiar to you because you’ve seen them on the platform but all are huge, vital contributors to the ministry that takes place. Most of them come from Nashville, Ron (security) comes from Louisville, Shela-Lyn, our beautiful and gifted sign language interpreter, comes from Phoenix, and I am the lone but happy traveler from Houston. Some come by 18 wheelers to the events with all the big equipment. The rest of us fly but the end result is the same: we arrive and get to work. There is not a single slouch. We couldn’t make it with a lazy team. We’ve never found a formula or a system that works every time. We have to be ready for almost anything and I do mean spiritually, physically, emotionally, and technically. Everybody multitasks and nobody quips, “That’s not my job.”

All of our job descriptions have morphed through the years. If something needs doing, somebody just gets up and does it. For instance, Ron doesn’t just run security. He sets out the elements for my team and me to take communion before the opening on Friday night. Rich used to just be in charge of picking me up at the airport and driving me to the event and keeping a general eye out for me. While he still does the driving (because we will not let him go), he also developed into a spectacular, in-demand professional photographer and, because of him, we have the whole LPL lifetime archived in pictures. He is also our resident foody, although you wouldn’t know by looking at him, and he does the restaurant planning.

Well, if I don’t stop this, you’ll get bored and I’ll never get done so let me get to the fun part: some pictures that I just happen to have on my cell phone.

 

Here’s all of us, the Living Proof Live team:

I love them so much I could bawl. Here is the praise team and a few of our other hardworking buddies like Stephen Proctor who runs and masterminds our visual worship (in the very back) right after the simulcast this year.

Here’s me and my old dead man of sin at the simulcast. Laughing. (If you weren’t there, this was a way of illustrating Romans 6.)

Here’s the whole LifeWay women’s event team (that puts on LPL) all living out their dream of being the praise team. Makes me so dang happy. That’s Flat Travis with them in case he looks a bit…well…flat. They are stellar women and hilarious. I’ve had the joy of serving with a publisher full of people who pursue Jesus Christ at fever-pitch. I do not take it lightly.

This picture was taken when we all first got to Daytona Beach and met up for team supper on Thursday night. Betsy oversees all our LPL events and we’re nuts about her. Susan provides something for us beyond all price. She welcomes those who receive Christ as Savior, prays with anyone who needs it, and often counsels women at the event who are really hurting. Paige Green, right next to me, oversees all LifeWay women’s events (like dot.mom, Priscilla Shirer Live, etc.) If Paige and I lived in the same city, we might be BFF. I love working with her so much but she is also a personal friend. I even love her mother. It’s that kind of thing. That’s our buddy, Stephen Proctor, on the other side.

Saturday night after the event, a small handful of us braved the amusement park there on the boardwalk in Daytona Beach and, honestly, we laughed like 10 year-olds. I’m scared of rides, by the way, but my fears meant nothing to this team but grounds for mockery and scorn. Once a gauntlet is thrown down, my pride usually exceeds my fear which is why I’m on this ridiculous roller coaster. And why we rode it over and over and over. Trav took this picture of Angela (his wife, dear as blood-kin to me), Paige, Bradford (who works at Travis’s church in Jackson, TN and is often a part of our team on the road) and me.

This action shot of Ang and me absolutely kills me. Please try to wrap your head around our Texas and Tennessee hair. It looks as though we are battling the very flames of hell but, clearly from our expressions, God is giving us the victory.

Ang is one of the most powerful women of prayer I know and, Girlfriend, I know some. I work with a whole staff of them. We’ve been doing something different in the 3rd session of Living Proof Live this year, spending a good bit of it in intercessory prayer for whatever segment of women the Holy Spirit lays on our hearts. Here I asked Angela to pray over all the moms in the room who are still actively raising children. The whole picture moves me so much. Look at the men on the front row (Travis and the guys on our praise team) pressing in. You’ll also see our friend Christine Caine on the edge of the shot (standing). We were amazed with her busy schedule that she’d come and attend this LPL. (She was speaking at a large church in the area the next day.) She has two of the cutest daughters you’ve ever seen so, in this picture, she is very actively engaging in prayer as a recipient. I asked Christine to pray over the young women in the room just minutes before Ang prayed because she has a divine gift for mobilization like few people I have ever met. I’ve heard from a number of those young women on Twitter saying what a powerful time it was.

I suppose I’ve just about worn you out by now, haven’t I? So I’ll go ahead and wrap up our 2013 LPL wrap-up. This is Travis, my dear and true son in the faith, Bradford and me on that silly roller coaster.

That picture sums up the entire 16 year journey of Living Proof Live. Jesus has been outrageously faithful on this ride and allowed us to worship Him and seek Him with congregations of the most fabulous and diverse women we could ever have imagined serving. We want so much to lift Jesus higher and higher next year, to say His Name louder and louder, and to proclaim His Word clearer and clearer. If God chooses to increase His glory through these events in the coming years and make this group of Jesus freaks the least bit useful through His magnanimous grace, then we’ll have cause to keep doing this.

 

The team and I won’t go back on the road together until next April because I (ecstatically!) start Tuesday night Bible study in Houston in January then head back to Australia right after it concludes in mid-March. When I land back in the States, it will be time to pack the LPL suitcase again. By that time, if I don’t have the manuscript for Children of the Day complete and turned in, I may be fried like a chicken.

Thank you for humoring me today with my sappy sentimentality over my beloved team. I am nuts about them. As wild as we are about one another, we have one thing on our minds the moment the event is over: getting back home to our people. My darling and me. There is no place like home.

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Last LPL Recap of 2013 – Daytona Beach

Siestas! It will be another five months until you see another post about Living Proof Live. Can you even believe it? I can’t wait to hear how this weekend went from our Siesta Mama. She’s off today resting and recuperating, and rightfully so. I heard a rumor, however, that a fun picture post might be coming your way this week. Woohoo! Until then, here is your last LPL recap of 2013, thanks to our dear friend Rich.

Living Proof Live | Daytona Beach from LifeWay Women on Vimeo.

Thank you, Lord, for all you did in the lives of each participant at Living Proof Live this year. You are Healer, Redeemer, Savior, Father, Lord Almighty, Defender, Protector and so much more. May you continue to pour out your Spirit among each of us! We love You so much and are forever indebted to You. You are faithful.

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The Meal of Champions

A couple nights ago I was leaving a friend’s house when we landed on a really serious discussion. It was so serious that I set my purse down and sat back down on the couch. What was so important, you might wonder?

Cereal.

Not just any cereal, y’all, we were salivating over the sugary, good, delicious, unhealthy, childhood cereal that we all secretly dream about while we choose to eat the healthy cardboard junk. Who invented Kashi cereal anyway?

Even as I type this I’m feeling all giddy again.

I went on to explain to my friends that growing up my mom might have well been named the Junk Food Queen. We had every imaginable sugary cereal and Hostess Cupcake you can imagine. I wish it weren’t true. In fact, I’m almost certain that if I were to open my mom’s pantry door today, I’d see remnants of my childhood. (Well, they wouldn’t be THAT expired, but you get the point.) My mother still doesn’t believe in food tasting like cardboard and I don’t blame her.

(I think she got the habit from my Grandpa who, until the day he passed away, would eat Cap’n Crunch nearly every morning. I ate it in his honor the last time he visited, because you better believe he had a box left.)

Since I am now considered a grown up, I try to make healthier food choices, including the cereal I eat. (And let’s be so honest, any evening that includes cereal for dinner is a really good evening.) This means I steer clear of the Cookie Crisp, the Corn Pops, the Cocoa Pebbles, the Apple Jacks, the Cap’n Crunch, the Frosted Flakes, the Fruit Loops and well, you get the point.

(And don’t even get me started on how Lucky Charm marshmallows should be saved for the end of your bowl and then eaten all together. Or the fact that you can buy Lucky Charm marshmallows separately and if that doesn’t make you happy, I don’t know what will. If you’re one of those eat-one-marshmallow-with-each-bite kind of person, I don’t know if we can be friends.)

I could name twenty more cereals and add a jingle or a tag line with each one of them.

(Oh, and shall we discuss at large the leftover milk if you’ve eaten Fruity Pebbles or Cocoa Pebbles? It was one of the best parts of the cereal eating experience.)

After our detailed discussion we decided we needed to have an official cereal night. There are a bunch of us that frequently eat dinner together on Sunday evenings, so the rule this past Sunday for all who decided to join was to come with your favorite sugary cereal. I’m not even kidding, y’all. These are adults I’m speaking of. We usually eat very adult meals with an occasional chicken nugget thrown in, but Trix aren’t really just for kids.

I failed to get a picture of our cereal choices Sunday evening because I was too busy eating said cereal, but despite my lack of photographing that particular evening, I struck gold when I reached this aisle the day before and bought myself a box of Cocoa Pebbles. Not for the Cereal Extravaganza of 2013, but just because.

I think I even heard angels singing.

This entire conversation and experience is something I felt so passionate about, I knew I had to share it with you guys. I know how you people get all excited about the little things with us. Even if it’s about cereal.

So can we all just take a moment and relive our childhood by naming off our favorite all time cereal? And by all means, throw the slogan in there, too.

And if your mom never bought you the good stuff, today we grieve with you. But please, for the love of all things normal, go buy yourself a box of Fruity Pebbles.

They even make those gluten free.

Boom.

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That Beautiful Word “Immediately”

Good morning, ladies! Just a quick disclaimer: We recorded this video a week ago Tuesday and are getting a few emails and phone calls about conflicting dates. Just so we’re all clear, Daytona LPL IS this coming weekend, the 8th – 9th and it is sold out! Originally you would have been watching this video last week, so the timing would have made more sense. We are so sorry for any confusion, but hope that helps. Thanks so much for your grace as we are far from slick. Blessings!

That Beautiful Word “Immediately” from LPV on Vimeo.

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