Friday, June 26, 2009

A Remembered Message -

This message was one I delivered at a Women's Retreat Last Fall. It is nice when God gently reminds us through our friends of the messages he has led us to deliver. I had not thought about this message in a while and it came at a very appropriate time in my life. Renee captured the message and wrote a beautiful tribute. To read other messages from Renee visit her blog at "By His Grace, For His Glory" @ Thank you Renee.

The Broken Shells - Renee Myers
June 25, 2009

A broken shell sits atop my roll-top desk among other sentimental treasures. Two other broken shells sit on my bathroom counter among a few seemingly ‘perfect’ shells. The shell on my desk is from our recent Spring Break trip. The two on the bathroom counter are wonderful reminders of our women’s retreat, held at the beach last fall. It was there that I learned to treasure the special beauty of broken shells.

I’ve always collected shells. At age 47 I STILL can’t resist picking up shells as I walk along the beach, and I LOVE to walk along the beach! I used to only search for unbroken, whole shells. However, now I see special beauty in the broken shells, too. I learned to appreciate the beauty in broken shells after hearing one of my friends excitedly share the story of how God had spoken to her during her early morning walk on the beach at our women’s retreat. I don’t recall exactly what she said, but the lesson God wanted to teach her was something like this:
We, like shells, get tumbled around on our journey. Sometimes we take hard knocks and get battered around by life, and these rough times can cause wear and tear, cracks, and even break us in places. Other times we allow ourselves to remain dormant in troubling situations and ‘barnacles’ of anger, resentment, jealousy, pride, doubt and other negative influences begin to attach themselves to us. Eventually we’re like the broken shells that wash up upon the beach, but that’s ok! As the friend who shared her story says, it makes us ”beautifully broken”. God sees beauty and opportunity in our brokeness. It’s in those times and places within us that He can do His best work!

We are ALL broken shells! None of us have arrived where we are today completely unscathed or untouched by life situations. Each of us has experienced pain, fear, disappointment, loss, illness, injury, and the list goes on. It’s been through those times that we’ve had the opportunities to grow, mature, and become even more beautiful! Since becoming a woman of faith, it’s been in those times that God has shown Himself most beautifully to me. In fact, if you look closely at what appear to be perfect shells, you’ll see many scratches, marks, and imperfections. Pssst…people are like that, too! They might look all perfect and whole at a quick glance, but if you look closely you’ll see signs of imperfections – in EVERYONE!

Many people pass by the broken shells on the beach or even toss them back into the ocean. They might do the same with us, but not God. He sees the beauty in us no matter what! It’s when we wash up on the shores of life looking broken, damaged, and having signs of wear and tear that He most wants to be with us! He wants to be the first to pick us up so He can add us to His collection of the “beautifully broken”, for it’s in those times that He truly can create beauty from the broken times of our lives.

It’s quite appropriate that God shared this lesson with my friend because she calls herself “beautifully broken” in the title of her blog site, Beautifully Broken Amanda. How about you? Are you ready to call yourself Beautifully Broken? If not, please let God turn your brokeness into beauty as only He can. And, you know what? It’s because of the broken places on the outside of the shells that I can see the special hidden beauty on the inside of the shells. Haven’t we always been told it’s what’s on the inside that counts? God bless you and your brokeness, too!

Dear God, Thank You for making beauty out of the broken places of my heart and the broken times of my life. Help me to always see the beauty in the brokeness of others, too. And Lord, please help others in their brokeness, too. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

That Girl

Psalm 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.

Years ago I lived in a Townhouse community. The rows of two story units adjoined together in groupings of 4. In townhouse number one lived a single lady with her young son. Day in and day out she would whip her car into her parking space and blaring from her windows, which always seemed to be down, was Christian music. Sometimes the music moved her so much that as she drove with one hand she was praising with the other uplifted. Often times you could hear her singing along with the music. Other days, the car was filled with the sound of a sermon she was listening to, no doubt at the time on cassette tape. If she was not in her car, it wouldn't take long before you could hear her music or sermon coming from inside her unit.

I have to admit, that although I was a Christian, I felt weird being around THAT Girl. I thought she was crazy. I thought she was too obsessed with her music and tapes. I thought something was wrong with THAT Girl. I couldn't place my finger on it, but I was pretty sure that no one in our little group of four really cared much for THAT Girl and as a matter of fact, none of us ever talked with her or invited her in, because well....she was very very strange.

I mean with all that praising going on, we were just certain THAT Girl was no fun at all. That Girl probably spent every waking moment on her knees. I will even admit to thinking, that is no way for a child to see his mother behave. My word, THAT Girl is going to turn off her son from religion forever.

No one really wanted to know THAT Girl.

Fast Forward fifteen years. I think of THAT Girl every once in a while and I smile. I think of her long brown hair flowing with the wind as she drove. I think of the constant joy and warm smile she was always willing to give. I think of her young son who always seemed to be dancing and happy. I think of the music that I would hear or a clip of one of her sermon's on tape. I think of how I never heard her gossip (as we had done about her). I thought of how, when her windows were open, her home always smelled inviting.

The reason that I often think of THAT girl, is now, fifteen years later, THAT girl is ME. I laugh as I drive singing at the top of my lungs to the praise music that fills my car. I get tears in my eyes as my two young daughters sing along with me. I will often purchase a sermon from our church that particularly touched me and listen to it again. In warmer days, I open up the windows to my home and the girls and I sing and dance to our Christian radio station. In church I am the crazy girl with her hands thrown up in the air when a song moves me to do so, or a loud Amen when the pastor or speaker really touches my heart. I am the one who would love to invite you in, if only you would let me.

I am sorry for the way that I treated that girl. I never even knew her name. I pray that she would know that she is thought about and loved by the person who would not give her the time of day fifteen years ago. My eyes are full of that wet stuff, as I think of the opportunity I threw away to get to know someone who was probably pretty amazing and how ashamed I am that my judgement of her was so harsh. I pray that one day I will get to see her again, and throw my arms around her and together we can sing praise to our Lord.

Maybe you have a THAT girl or guy in your life. Give them a chance. Let them share their love and joy with you. Because you never know when THAT girl will be YOU.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Whose FACE are you seeking: The Facebook Experiment

"Seek the LORD and His strength; seek His face evermore." Psalm 105:4, NKJV

So, I caved. A few months ago all of my friends were raging about Facebook. You know, the computer site where you sign up with all your vital statistics, and put a big old picture of your face on the front. It is really cool, you can search for old friends, keep connected with current friends and stay in touch with family. You can post pictures, take fun quizzes, etc... You can even have a dog that you pet and play with and feed. I finally decided to give it a try when my niece said, "Aunt Amanda YOU DON'T HAVE A FACEBOOK?" You would think I had committed some sort of cardinal sin. I all of a sudden felt every bit my age. "A facebook? Ugh, not you too!" So...feeling like the uncool Aunt that I had all of a sudden become, I took the plunge and plugged into this cyber world we know as Facebook.

I realized quickly that it was going to take every bit of my willpower to stay off the computer. I had people immediately request to be my friend! Woohooo, people want to be my friend! I had old high school and college classmates to catch up with, friends from other States to look up. Oh, and let's not forget my newly formed family tree so that my whole family could be involved with one another.

Pretty soon people were sending me plants, bling, scrapbook supplies. By sending and receiving plants I could actually help the environment. By sending people virtual scrapbook gifts, it made them smile. I could add all sorts of applications to my facebook and chat with tons of people who had fallen by the wayside over the years.

In the beginning, I was spending A LOT of time on the computer and a whole lotta time on Facebook. One day while I was happily letting my free time sift like grains of sand through the hourglass I heard a still small voice, "Whose face are you seeking today?" Of course I just chalked it up to my new obsession. Then I heard it again a bit louder this time, "Daughter, Whose Face are you Seeking Today".

Oh Boy....I knew what was coming. I had spent so much time searching for Faces, that I was forgetting the most important face of all. God. I had not cracked a bible in day's or dropped my head in earnest prayer. I had not spent my "free" time wisely. I was so wrapped up in seeking the face of others, that I forgot to seek the Face of my BEST friend, the one who never fell by the wayside over the years, the one who carried me through every tough time, the one who loves me so much he sacrificed His only Son for me. I forgot to seek the face of God.

I was ashamed. How could I let something so "innocent" suck me in so fast. In reality, my "obsession" lasted only about a week. Then I turned it way down. As I focused on the Face of my Lord, I was able to visit Facebook at a more moderate "check in" level and I would go weeks without checking it at all. I realized that although I love finding and catching up with old friends, it doesn't mean a whole lot if I am not checking in and catching up with my Best Friend.

I would challenge you to ask yourself honestly, Whose Face are you Seeking Today?

Will you find me on Facebook? Yes, I still love some of the wonderful friends I have reconnected with. The difference is that before I seek a new Facebook friend, you will see me seeking the Face of God first.