Saturday, August 30, 2008

Who Would You Invite?

I was reading this morning in Luke chapter 5: 27-32. This is about Matthew the Tax collector. I have read this story so many times and to tell you the truth, I almost skimmed over it. But, then I was reminded of my commitment to read to learn. So with a heavy sigh, I asked God to teach me and began reading. Wow! was I surprised! Here let me set the stage for you...

Jesus has just healed the paralytic man. The ones that his four friends had let down through the roof. He had also ticked off the Pharisees by forgiving the man his sins. Luke 5:27 says, "After these things He went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." v.28 So he left all, rose up, and followed Him."

Now, I know you have heard this story just like me. So in order to read to learn I stopped and pondered it in my mind. What did Matthew already know about Jesus? Did he know or see what had happened to the paralytic man? Because he was a tax collector, he was a despised low-count as prostitutes to the Jews. That brought up more questions: How did he end up a tax collector? How is it that he took a job knowing that his own people would hate him for it? The Special Ed teacher part of me wants to find out about his self worth at the time he took the tax collectors job. I'll have to ask him in eternity. But one thing I do know, He had to be smart. Not only because it would require education to be a tax collector but also because we later see the Gospel he wrote. After pondering this I remembered that Matthew wrote this gospel with an emphasis to the Jews. The very people who had hated him as a tax collector. He wrote the gospel to try and convince them of the Deity of Christ.

We know that Matthew got right up and followed! No, who are you's? No , I have to work now. Can you come back at 5. He just left all! You know, this is confession time for me. I still wonder sometimes if I would get up and immediately leave all. I'm struggling now with the change in my job, yet I'm not ready to just leave all. Anyway, back to the scripture.

This next part is one of those, "I've never noticed that before" moments. Vs. 29. "Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them. vs.30 And their scribes and the pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?"

Before I get into Jesus answer, I want you again think about Matthew and what he did. He just left his job! He is now unemployed. What does he do? He throws a feast! Not just a little dinner party...a huge....big dog feast! God is changing my own job and what do I do? I am pinching every penny as tight as I can! What was different about Matthew? I think it was because he knew that his life was changed forever. I think he had so much faith and trust in Jesus that he knew how little the material things now were! Look tax collectors though hated were wealthy men. Yet Matthew knew that this was no longer important. What was important to him now was Jesus! We can see that in who he invited. He didn't go to the Jews, or the scribes and Pharisees. He invited the other tax collectors and sinners! He wanted them to know and see and experience Jesus! Oh, how I wish that had been my focus these last few weeks of worrying and whining about my job change.

Excuse me a minute.

"Lord, please give me the strength, the faith and the focus to stop complaining and see who I need to invite to experience You."

Jesus answered the Pharisees by saying He did not come for the righteous but sinners. (paraphrase)

I am amazed at Matthew. If I were to throw a feast today, Who would I invite to experience Jesus? I teach at a Christian school, my husband is a minister and all of my friends are believers. What about you? Who would you invite?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Learning to Read or Reading to Learn?

Hi Ladies,
Please continue to pray for us. More change is happening. I'll let you in on more specifics later.
I am trusting God and reminding myself that I have already given Him my toothpick.

Fourth grade is a big transition year. As we sat a few weeks ago in Zoie's new fourth grade class during Orientation, the teacher made this comment. "Up to the fourth grade your child has been learning to read. Now, things will change. Fourth graders start reading to learn."

Now, reading is one of my all time favorite things to do! I love to read! I'll read anything! I also love learning. I get it from my dad. I used to see him reading encyclopedias, while we waited on the school bus. He did it for fun!

So, I'm thinking about this statement and I start wondering about the difference in just going through the reading process to decipher information and processing the information obtained into learned behavior. (Sorry, the teacher in me just came out.) What I mean is...Do we read to decode words or to learn information?

A little deeper...Do I read my Bible during my quiet time just to know what it says or do I read it to change my life? When I read my Bible am I just practicing my reading skills or am I reading to learn about my Lord?

I have to confess! Sometimes it is just to practice my reading skills. You know the times..."Oh, I need to read my Bible. Huhmmm? Here it is. Oh No! I'm at the begots again! Well I need to read it anyway." Instead of asking God to help me learn something new even out of the begots....Beth Moore does. So it can be done....I moan, and practice my reading through the chapter or passage.

Ladies, the Bible is the only book where we get a chance to sit with the author every time we read it! I don't want to waste that time anymore. I am going to choose to read to learn!

Love Pamela

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pink Shoe Purpose

Hi Friends!
Thank you so much for celebrating my birthday with me.

To tell the truth, I don't really like my birthday. I think that's why I always go a little over board telling people to say, "Happy Birthday."

I think Birthdays are among the many things that set us up for "Unmet Expectations." Yes, I know "unmet" is not a real word but it fits perfectly. I think we set ourselves up for some secret expectations, that we may not be able to even communicate. It is deep in the emotional part of our brains, right along side desires and dreams. But, when these expectations are not met we feel loss, sadness or even anger.

Some of the unmet expectations I have come to recognize around my birthday is that somehow it ought to be know like Cinderella at the ball. I should magically be transformed to a size 4 and be as tall as a model. (In reality I look more like the fairy godmother--- only not as old!) Life should be like the fairy tale also. Everyone would celebrate and birds would sing around my head. I wouldn't have to work, or hurt, or wash a dish, or even a nose! My husband would lavish me with kisses and we would dance across a ballroom, while everyone watched and clapped.

OK, maybe I don't really expect quiet that much but the truth is birthdays, no matter how wonderful, are always somewhat of a let down. Not the right present, (They did great this year) or having to work, or an argument between my husband and daughter, as to who picked out which gift!

I think these unmet expectations come from trying to celebrate ourselves. My father joked to his coworkers yesterday, that I ought to give him a present, because He brought me into the world. We all laughed, as he told us about the reactions he got for saying that, at supper last night.

This got me to thinking...I think instead of trying to celebrate myself. I think next year for my birthday, I am going to take the day and truly thank my creator. I realized that along with unmet expectations, or maybe because of them, I don't like being that kind of "center of attention." In my mind, I never measure up to the princess birthday girl, and therefore I am constantly faced with what I'm not, rather than what I am.

What am I? Created for a purpose! I am created to love and be loved by the creator. I'm created to share that love with everyone, but especially women and those with special needs! I'm created in His image. God designed me and knew everything about me before those first two cells came together in my mother's womb. I'm created to share a message God has placed in my heart...He loves us and cares so much about everything in our life! Everything!!!

I don't think we honestly believe that Jesus loves us as much as He does! If we did, we would never have unmet expectations! We would celebrate our birth everyday! We would serve Him, and consider Him in every second of our life, and we would sacrifice anything for others to believe that too!

I was created for a purpose. To show women that God loves us enough to even allow this short, plump, woman with a limp to wear HOT PINK SHOES! That in God's sight, we are all more beautiful than any "Cinderella" could ever dream of being!

Thanks again for celebrating that purpose with me yesterday! I love you all! I'm going to look at my hot pink shoes!

Love you all!
Pamela R.

Friday, August 22, 2008

There Is Something I Want You To Say

Hi Friends,

When you stop by today will you say something for me?


My husband has teased me for as long as I've known him for asking people that on my birthday.

But it is fun to see the expressions on people's face when you ask them to tell you happy birthday!

I wish I could see your faces as you read it!

I hope to come back this afternoon and give you some updates on my last posts but I've got to get all of us ready for school and work.

Love you bunches more!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I'm Giving God My Toothpick

Hi Ladies,

I gave God my toothpick!

Several years ago when my daughter was in first grade, she came home one day with some goodies a little boy had bought her from the school store. Her dad and I talked to her about why we shouldn't accept gifts like that from other children. We explained that his mommy may not be happy with him spending the money they gave him on little girls. A few days later she came in and tried to hide her backpack from me (A SURE SIGN I NEEDED TO LOOK IN HER BACKPACK!) Sure enough there were more goodies! This time from another little boy! This time I added up the value of the items ($3) and we took that out of her bank to give back to the little boy. I also wrote his mom a note thanking her for raising such a generous son but now we would like to give him some money to spend on himself. Oh, my friends the evil flesh reared it's head in my daughter hard at this! The next morning I caught her being deceptive either in words or actions three times! I was working that day and walked her into the classroom, because I needed to let her teacher know where to send her after school. As I walked over to her cubby to say goodbye, I caught her once again trying to hide the money and note in another part of her backpack! This time we walked over and handed it to the teacher so she would be sure the boy's mother got the note!

That afternoon, after school, I tried again to explain to her why she was being punished and that deception was wrong. I told her it was important for me to trust her and I handed her a toothpick. "Trust is like this toothpick I just gave you. I freely give it to you. But today by being deceptive, you broke that trust." I reached over and broke the toothpick. I then handed her a new one. "Trust is a gift. I will choose to trust you until you prove to be untrustworthy."
She understood and the toothpick has become a symbol of trust for our whole family.

Last night I discovered that I needed to give God my toothpick! No He did not break my trust. I found that I have been breaking it up into bits and pieces and handing it to Him to put back together himself. There are times when I don't trust! Not God! Not Man! Not woman! Child, or even dog!

So last night I gave God my toothpick! The whole thing! I may have to give Him another one as He reveals more areas in my life but right now I am choosing to trust Him!

I am trusting Him:

With my job and benefits.

With my health...I discovered Monday that I have a herniated disc and will be going to a pain center tomorrow to see if we can treat it without surgery. It has been hurting for over a year now. Yes....I put off going to the doctor that long! The other health issue is of a feminine nature, but the issues are right now on-going.

With our new church and being a pastor's wife...I am way to outspoken to be a sweet and gentle pastors wife. Pray HARD!

I have deadlines looming and conferences to prepare for all to be done before the first two weeks in September!

I am learning new duties at my job and learning how to be a part-time teacher----I just don't think that is even in my nature!

All of this is why I needed to give God my toothpick!

And now dear Friends if you have been paying close attention I have also given one to YOU!

I love you!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Counterfeit Castles and Fake Pearls

I love being a princess!
I love all the stuff that goes with the fairy tales too. I love castles, crowns, beautiful gowns, and of course the jewels! But most of all I love having a father for a King!

However, I am often a confused little princess. Sometimes, while I am out here working and serving in the kingdom I get lost or afraid. The kingdom outside the castle grounds can be a scary place at times. And when I get lost or afraid I will sometimes run. I mean RUN! But more often than not, I run to the wrong castle. It looks like My father's refuge, but it is a counterfeit castle! It is one My Father's enemy has set up to fool me. It will take different forms. Sometimes it looks like a friend..even a Christian friend. Sometimes it looks like church...yes, church can be a counterfeit castle. Sometimes it looks like wouldn't think that I would confuse food with my Father's refuge but I do. Sometimes it looks like an old know the kind...the kind I left when I completely surrendered to God. (I usually recognize this one.) Sometimes, the counterfeit castle will look like my family or even my husband. (Now, that is sneaky!) But all these things, even the good things, like my Christian friends, church, and husband are counterfeit! They are not the refuge My Father the King has for me. The true refuge, the true castle is Him! Anytime I run to anything other than Him, even when it is a gift from Him, I have run to a counterfeit castle.

Matthew 11: 28 "Come to ME all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Psalm 91: 1-2 "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him will I trust."

Yet, there is other counterfeit or fake things in the kingdom that also trip me up. Sometimes I settle for fake pearls. Here is a story I heard long ago. I wish I knew the author. I would hug her neck hard for the many times this story has ministered to me. I hope God will use it for you too.

There was a little girl who loved her daddy oh, so very much! Every night she would climb in his lap to say goodnight. "I love you daddy!"
"I love you too baby girl! Do you really love me baby?"
"Oh, Yes! Daddy I REALLY love you!"
Then she would kiss him goodnight and run off to bed.
One night after this exchange the daddy stopped her and handed her a white box. Inside was a necklace made of white beads that looked just like real pearls. She loved them! In fact it was hard for her to even take them off to go to bed.
After a week had passed, the little girl climbed into her daddy's arms and began their nightly routine. Only this time, the dad did something strange and frightening. After asking the little girl if she REALLY loved him, he asked her to give him back the pearls. She laughed, kissed him on the cheek and went to bed. But to her surprise he began asking this of her every night...getting more firm each time she refused. Finally, she crawled in his lap and with tears knowing that dreaded question would come, she began again their nightly routine. This time when he asked, she took off those precious beads and weeping handed them to the dad she loved so much. He smiled gave her a big hug.....then handed her a box with a necklace made of REAL PEARLS!
So often I hang onto things that I think are good when God, My Father, wants to give me something so much better.

What about you? Are you running to counterfeit castles, or holding onto fake pearls?
Reach for the REAL THING....JESUS!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Through a Knot-hole!

God is so good to us.

Even when life looks like it is could swallow you up...God is good to us! Last Saturday night, my husband and I hosted an "ole fashion singing" at a campground near our home. We have been doing this every two weeks all summer. We have singers/bands from our area come and preform for the campers. We also have someone give a brief testimony or devotional thought about midpoint through.
We found out Saturday morning that our designated speaker had a conflict and could not make it. My husband made a few phone calls, but by the time we drove up to the campground we still had no speaker. I asked my mother who has a tremendous testimony, that I will share with you at some point. She said no. She wasn't feeling that well and did not want to share. So Mike turned to me. Knowing that there is a story always in my head it fell on me. As the crowd started to gather, I noticed there were a lot of children, so I decided to do an old stand by children's sermon.
The singing started and soon I noticed that I was next. I rose to my feet and was dismayed when all but three of the children (one was mine) left! Their parents came and got them and they left. I sent up my "Help me Jesus" prayer and a story I had written long ago came to mind. I took a deep breath and went for it.
The story is about two boys playing along an old, but high fence. One boy is deaf and can not hear anything. The other boy hears something on the other side of the fence, and looks through a knot-hole. He gets excited and wants to show his friend what is happening on the other side of the fence. But every time the boy that is deaf doesn't look inviting or fun. He can only see or understand what he can see through the hole. (Such as the back end of a horse!) Finally a man pulls up in a truck and both boys climb to the top and look over. They are both happy now because on the other side of the fence... was a grand parade.
The lesson of the story is that sometimes that is all we see of our own life. Sometimes like myself right now, our finances look like the back end of that horse. The boy that could hear the parade are like our Christian sisters (you my friends) who understands that God is taking care of us and really, if we could see the whole picture, we would know that it truly is a gift...a parade. The man is like God, without His help and understanding none of us could ever see the whole parade.

That is a shortened version of the story. If you would like to read the whole thing, e-mail me and I will send it to you. God used this story to speak to my own fears Saturday night. I still don't know what my parade looks like right now, but I am trusting harder the One who does. He did however give us one big knot-hole glimpse Sunday morning. My husband is now the Interim Pastor for the new church start. (it is not nough to fix our loss of income but every little bit helps. We just need God to do some loaves and fishes with our resources) It could and hopefully will lead to a more permanent position, but for now we will rejoice in our knot-hole!

What about you? What do you see through your own knot-holes? Please share and we can rejoice and pray together.


Friday, August 8, 2008

God Is In Control

"God Is In Control."

I have been singing that song in my head all day.
He is in control of the good times, like our vacation, which by the way was wonderful!
We had the best time we have ever had! More about our trip at another time.

God is in control.

Does it seem to you that God will bless your socks off right before a storm hits?

God is in control.

Today I had a meeting at the Christian school where I teach Special Ed resource. It seems that there is not enough funds this year, so my full-time job has become part-time/adjunct faculty. Long story benefits and pay was slashed by almost everything. The school is doing everything it can to keep me on, and for that I am grateful! They have went above and beyond what I would have expected. Everything is contingent on the parents being willing to pay above tuition for Resource services. So my work load and pay will increase as the need for resource services increases, but I still won't qualify for benefits. I am praying hard!

So...God is in control.

I don't mind admitting that my fear factor is fluctuating like crazy! One minute scared to death---the next I'm soaring on the wings of faith and wonder.

I know God will take care of us financially....He has many times before. Yet, I am scared because I will miss the discipline, fellowship, and consistency of working everyday.

At the same time...I have an excited anticipation at seeing what God is fixing to do! Is there something He wants me to do that a full-time job would have been in the way?

So my dear friends here is how you can pray for me:

Pray that I will walk by faith and not by sight.
Pray that we will be able to decipher all the details about my insurance now.
Pray that God will reveal how He is going to take care of this in His time. I wanted a direct e-mail when I got home. Of course He did that...NOT!
Pray that I will have more speaking opportunities. I have two scheduled for September then nothing after that.
Pray that I will have more writing assignments.
Pray that God will lead my husband to the right church position soon. We are close to this one being answered but it isn't final yet!
Pray that we will be an example of faith for our daughter during this time.

Thank you for loving us and praying for us.

I am scared but......NEVERTHELESS....GOD IS IN CONTROL!


Saturday, August 2, 2008

Gone Fishing.

Hey Friends,

I will temporarily be out of pocket for a week as we go to the Great Smoky Mountains for a much needed retreat.

I love you all and I know I will miss you. I will tall-tale you all about it when we get back.

See ya!

Pamela R.