Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jesus Was At The Hospital

A few days ago, the P31 devotion discussed making decisions based on the “Jesus Approval” stamp. I can relate to that concept because of a decision my husband and I had to make recently.

Many of you know that my six-year-old son had surgery on his feet last Friday. I kid him about being bionic now (think six-million dollar man!) because he had titanium implants put in each foot to keep his ankles from rolling in. This wasn’t a surgery that was considered essential by some, but Shane and I wanted it for him so that he won’t suffer the same back problems his flat-footed great uncle now suffers, when he becomes an adult. I had prayed for God to show me through His Word if this surgery was against His will. I mean, a part of me wondered if we should just leave the situation in the hands of the Great Physician, ya know?

But God never gave me that nudge not to proceed; in fact, I perceived quite a bit of confirmation to go ahead. I knew right then that God would use our being at the hospital to bring himself Glory and I realized I could stamp this decision with “Jesus Approval.” Just look at what God did while we were there…

*Skylar’s attitude was remarkable during the whole thing…no crying or whining, except just as he was waking from the anesthesia. Many staff members commented on his cute personality and cooperation, and I believe (at the risk of being a biased parent) that this kid was a tremendous witness for Jesus by his bravery and peace.

*When the surgeon came out to the waiting room after the surgery, he said, “God was looking out for your son today.” (I had my Bible open when he approached, so I’m not sure if his comment was based on that or if he would have said it anyway.) I said, “Well, we already know that, but what do you mean?” He proceeded to tell me that the place Skylar was originally scheduled to have surgery across the street (checking in that morning had been a bit “wearing”), had been evacuated due to a chemical spill! If the original plan had unfurled, Sky’s surgery would’ve been post-poned—NOT cool with school fast approaching--or worse, interrupted!

*A bit later in the waiting room, a woman burst through some swinging double doors crying. As she sat, her heart-wrenching sobs touched everyone within earshot. A few seconds later, a few other women came out behind her, one of whom was my friend from ISU, Mary Ann, the Department Secretary.

All the sudden it clicked! The woman who was upset was my friend, M’s mom! M teaches at ISU too but she was out of town. Mary Ann had come to the hospital to see me, check on Sky, and offer support to M’s mom, who had just found out her husband’s foot would likely have to be amputated because of diabetes. Now, what are the odds that on the very same day, at the very same time, I would be in the exact same place as the mother of my friend, both of whom had just learned some very disturbing information.

Warriors, this was the most visual, vivid call to prayer I’ve had recently. M’s mom was crying that all those prayers had been useless and when one of her friends said she’d keep praying, M’s mom shouted “NO! God had his chance. I’m not praying any more.” My heart aches for this woman and I so want to see her and her family have peace. Please join me in lifting up this family in your prayers.

So you see, The Great Physician was at the hospital that day. He was protector, orchestrator, encourager, and intercessor. He blessed, and I'm pretty sure he was blessed, too. I can hear that stamper now...

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

VBS 2007

Another year of VBS has come and gone. And with it came some commentary from the ankle-biters—some of it annoying, some of it hilarious, some of it moving, and some of it downright dumbfounding. Just to set the scene for these little quips, let me tell you how we do things in the drama department, otherwise known as “Bible Adventures.”

To transport the kids as much as possible from craft/games/snack mode, we bring them upstairs, out of the norm, and into kind of a mysterious place. We cover the walls with black plastic and except for a few strategically placed spotlights, the room is dark. The set varies from night to night based on the Bible story. We’ve had everything from campfires to the marshy banks of the Jordan River that kids had to cross barefoot (have you ever walked across wet, squishy towels? It DID feel like mud!). Since I mostly leave the acting to others so that I can do all the behind-the-scenes stuff, I’m hidden behind the black plastic, working the soundtrack or providing other effects.

One night our actor, Michael, instructed the kids to pray in their groups. One kid piped up: (and imagine diva-like attitude here) “YOU pray!” Michael would say, “Let’s be quiet.” The kid would retort, “YOU be quiet!” You get the idea. Hecklers!

On that same night, the crews were to discuss tough things or problems in their lives. I heard a precious little girl just inches away from me on the other side of the plastic, share that she has to move again because her mom got a new boyfriend. Wow. (Kudos to that crew leader.)

Kelly, who was playing Rahab, (we didn’t mention her occupation to the kiddos) kept “hushing” the kids because there were soldiers around looking for the spies. But every time she said “God is with us” they were supposed to yell “Wa-Hoo!” Imagine the confusion! After one particularly loud Wa-Hoo, which was encouraged by Rahab, I hear MY six-year-old’s voice over her following hushes, “But YOU told us to!” Murmers of agreement followed. Those kids thought she was nuts! :-)

On "Jordan River" night, as kids came forward to get a river rock and erect an alter, one kid proclaimed, “I have a rock and I’m not afraid to use it!” During that same chaos, someone apparently said “freaking” because a stern response of “We DO NOT say the word “Freaking” shot back and quieted things down.

Another night, Dale and Michael played officers in Joshua’s army and Dale was supposed to stall as he marched around the walls of Jericho. The kids were in pyramids (they were the walls, so the stalling was quite a problem.) It went something like this…

Dale: Okay, that’s four times around…oooh, I lost count. Let’s start all over.
Kids: NOOOOOOOOOO!!! That was FOUR!!!
Dale: Oh. Okay. Fiiiiiiive. Oh no. I need a potty break. Let me stop for a minute!
One kid: Go in your pants.
Dale: (Whiney) Ooohh…I don’t like to go in my pants—they get wet and squishy.
Kid: Do it anyway. Keep marching! (Oh, the lesson there!)

The last night, Dale was a Doctor of Leprosy and he used an onion analogy to show the kids how badly a leper would want rid of the disease. Each kid’s right hand was rubbed with an onion (they were rid of the smell by the end—really cool trick—ask me about it!), but in the meantime, imagine the smell in the room! These analyses were heard:
Smells like an armpit in here!
I like that smell!
Do NOT rub me with that onion!
Smells like my dog’s poop!

Well, there ya go! Fragrant oil was later passed around to symbolize Jesus’ sweet grace and healing. As the crew leaders put a drop of oil on each child’s hand, they were supposed to say something like “God loves you, So-and-so” including their name. One little boy grabbed MY hand, dabbed it with oil and said “God loves you. You be blessed too.”

And THAT'S what it’s all about!

Monday, July 2, 2007

She Speaks, Part 2

Meaningful experience #2—God works through us, even when we're oblivious!

To fully appreciate this “God-incidence” you have to go back with me to She Speaks 2006. It was my first time at this conference, or any writing/speaking conference. I had signed up for the writer’s track and on the first night we had the option of meeting with other writers for a peer evaluation session. Since Satan was doing a number on my nerves, I was on the lookout for friendly, encouraging faces. All alone at a table towards the back, I saw a woman I was just drawn to for no apparent reason other than she just looked “cool”—someone I could hang with. Plus, she was smiling warmly at me, so I asked if I could join her. Her name was (and is!) Lisa Marrone and I liked her immediately.

We ended up with three or four others in our group, read each other’s work, and gave encouraging feedback to each other. I remember Lisa’s article was about the Fruit of the Spirit and I loved its insight.

Throughout the rest of the weekend we ran in to each other quite a bit and would stop to chat. She asked how my appointment with the literary agent went and I shared how it was less than stellar. She didn’t have an appointment, but did have a book idea and wondered what I thought about her approaching him with it. My viewpoint was, “Why not? Go for it!” When I saw her later, she shared that she had pulled him aside and he seemed interested in her idea. I congratulated her, we exchanged contact information, and we parted ways at the end of the weekend.

Flash forward to early 2007. I was on the P31 website looking at the registration information for this year’s conference when I noticed a testimony in the side-bar. It was written by a physical therapist (hey, wasn’t Lisa a physical therapist?) who said the world of writing had been foreign to her (hey, didn’t Lisa share that with our group?), but because of the conference, was signed by the William K. Jensen Literary Agency and had a two book contract. NO WAY, I thought. I went to the agent’s website and sure enough, there was MY Lisa’s picture! She did it! He signed her! When this year’s conference rolled around, I wondered if I’d see her again or if she’d be too busy working on her books and marketing them to attend.

As it turned out, I didn’t even have to search the crowd for her. I hadn’t been in the hotel five minutes when, upon checking in, I turned around and saw that beautiful smile accompanied by a friendly wave. She came over to not only hug me, but to impart a warm kiss on my cheek. I congratulated her on being signed and asked how things were going. We had breakfast together on Saturday when she blessed me more than she’ll probably ever know. That is when she shared with me that when she speaks to groups, she includes me. A little confused, I asked, “What do you mean?”

She explained that when we connected last year, she took my feedback as confirmation from God for her to pursue her book ideas. She didn’t consider herself a writer at all, but knew God was asking her write. Though she doubted her ability, she valued my credentials as a writing instructor at ISU and said God used me to show her that “someone who should know” validated her writing. I was a piece of the overall puzzle. Wow. I cannot put into words how humbled I was by that. Praise the Lord! If you want to check her and her books out, go to and click on authors. That’s my Lisa! What a blessing!

Ya know, we go to things like conferences and seminars and even church with our own preconceived notions of what will go down, how God will show Himself, or even what we will or won’t get out of it. As if we can predict God’s plan! I thought I knew my purpose there last year (why, to get published, of course! Ha!), but I had no idea…wasn’t even close. Praise God for using a broken vessel like me and praise Him for using Lisa and hookin’ us up!