June 24, 2011

Blessing the "Yes!"

Today's my devotion is running at Internet Cafe Devotions. It's a topic I've written a lot about, but one that keeps knocking my socks off. I hope you'll read on and join me there.

Three years ago our couples’ Friday night Bible study tossed around missions ideas we might do together. From the comfort of our college-educated, suburban lives we made logical suggestions—the homeless shelter, tutoring, a food pantry or Habitat for Humanity—but we rejected them all. As our minds searched for new ideas, someone said, “What about prison?”

No one said “no.” In fact no one said anything. We sat stunned and silent. Seconds clicked by and God stepped in. We agreed in unison, “Yes! Prison ministry.”

Moments later I wondered, “What have we done?”

None of us brought a single qualification to prison ministry yet we pursued the idea anyway. Through several “coincidences” God led us to a local prison ministry that ran a weekly worship service. To our surprise its leaders welcomed us, and within a couple months we made our first visit to a maximum security men’s prison.

We weaved our way down the institutional hallways, deeper into the prison, to the chapel.

The service was nothing like I expected or had ever experienced. The inmates who attended were friendly and polite, not scary or threatening. And the service was loud, joyful, spirit-filled and uplifting. Today the prison chapel is my favorite place to worship.

Yet I still struggle to find my place in the ministry. The little voice inside reminds me I don’t belong. First of all I’m a woman—a bit out of place in a men’s prison. My life story doesn’t resemble the harsh realities the men have faced, so I can’t relate to their specific struggles. Plus, I don’t lead worship or sing or play an instrument.

My sensible side adds up the facts and says, “leave.”

But God says, “stay." {Keep Reading}

June 14, 2011

They're In and They're Perfect!

Sorry to keep you hanging! A few of you asked about the grand door adventure and how it turned out. I am happy to report that all went well. The entire installation process went smoothly and we are now the proud owners of new front doors. The front of my house is smiling and so am I. I can't believe what a difference the doors make to the outside and inside of our house.

In the end it was worth the wait and worth the indecision. I am one happy homeowner (and Dan is too).  

Thankfully they are the correct doors! Fresh off the truck and ready to be installed.

What a difference. The foyer is so bright now! (The green in the glass is the grass and foliage.)
After so much indecision, I am SO happy with our choice! And SO happy to be done thinking about it!

What home improvement projects make you happy?

June 10, 2011

Today is THE Day!

Today is the day! After months and months of deciding, hours of researching choices, dozens of times changing my mind and weeks of waiting for delivery, today is the day our new front door will be installed!

As you may recall, deciding on a front door had me tied up in a knot of indecision. Dan and I have made lots of home improvement decisions in our twenty years of home ownership, but making this decision was the hardest. Don't ask me why. All I know is that I'm at peace with the decision we made and I now know A LOT about entry doors! I also know the staff at our local Lowe's very well.

Wesley, my main contact in the door department, deserves an award. I told his boss he needs a raise. Through all of my mind-changing, re-configuring, re-estimating, follow up phone calls and repeat visits, he kept his patience and sense of humor. Last month when we sat down to finally write up the order I asked, "Has anyone ever taken so long to buy a ..."

Goodbye banged-up, dingy, wobbly door
Before I finished my sentence, he said, "No!"

I joked, "But, look how much joy I've brought to your life!"

I've been in Lowe's a lot recently and whenever I have a few extra minutes I swing by the door department to say "hi" to Wesley. He told me he'd been keeping an eye on my door while it sat in the back waiting to be installed. (I think he wants this job finished as much as I do!)

Customer service is such a lost concept these days that when I actually receive it, I'm surprised--and appreciative. My door's not installed yet (and I'm not getting paid for this endorsement) but I must say that all the staff at our local Lowe's is terrific. They're attentive, friendly and thorough. 

I'm hopeful my door will testify to these facts as well!

** This just in . . . the installer just pulled up to the house! I am so excited!!! I just love changes and improvements. Especially when someone else is doing the work. Stay tuned . . . **

It's finally here! But is it the correct door?

June 8, 2011

Nothing But the Blood

It was a sacred space. Time and place set aside. An anointed offering.

Though I was there, I was more witness than participant. I watched and listened. I stored those holy moments as treasures in my heart. And I remember.

They came in slowly. One or two at a time, eventually filling the cinderblock room to half full. They sang, clapped and swayed to the music. Soul-filled prayers touched dark corners and broken places. Some shared an embrace or laid on a hand of encouragement. Some knelt and prayed. Tears flowed freely. Sobs of agony, shouts of affirmation, words of praise shot heavenward like rockets.

Worship in the prison is always unexpected, but last night was different. It was chaotic. It was spontaneous. It was divinely powerful. And it was incredibly personal.

“Have you way with us, Lord” they prayed. And He did.

I saw with my eyes and can testify. There is no dominion too evil, no heart too broken, no walls too impenetrable that the Spirit of God cannot overcome, penetrate and transform. 
“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
 Brokenness. Pain. Rage. Weakness. Unforgiveness. Insufficiency. Sin. Revealed, acknowledge and presented to the Judge.

The verdict?

“I love you,” He said.

“But look at me. Look at my life. Look what I’ve done,”

“I love you,” He said.

"But . . ."

"I love you," He said again.

All because of the blood. The blood. The blood.

Nothing but the blood of Jesus.