Writer, business woman, lay minister...mother, daughter, wife, friend...with a past and a future. This is my story. This is our story. This blog is the compilation of my experiences and the women I meet in the ministry. It is our gift to you.
*Names may be changed to preserve the confidentiality of the work we do. The facts of their experiences will not be altered. I hope to be honest, unbiased and clear; however, this blog is not a politically correct place. This blog will be used to glorify God, spread the Good News of the saving grace of Jesus Christ and to encourage other believers in their own walk.
I was once taught the shortest verse in the bible was "Jesus wept." (John 11:35)
Today I wept; I'm not sure if I wept with God, in submission to God, or because of God but I wept. Deep in my heart as I prayed for myself, my family, my sins, friends who are in times of despair and trouble, for endings and changes that I didn't understand, I wept. I cried out to God and I just let Him hear me in my most honest of places, sadness, confusion, resentments and angers that I know I have not let go. I bore my soul open as completely as I could to Him to receive His cleansing love and then I opened my eyes, picked up the phone and began my day again.
We have made large and radical changes in Spirit House, which of course should not surprise us as change seems to be God's way of putting us back into His will, but I cannot say I have done so without some guilt and sadness and confusion and yes, a tad bit of anger.
On Sunday night I found out another of the ladies I have ministered to since early 2010 is back in jail. A broken heart indeed and though I trust God is protecting her from herself, I am saddened and again wept for her this morning.
But the one thing I am most certain of; no matter how one interprets the passage, "Jesus wept." I know He did and therefore I know when I go to Him in tears, no matter their source, He understands and He accepts my weeping and hears my cries out to Him and I can trust His work that He immediately puts into motion. I know this because I trust His emotions, His weeping and His creation of our feelings. He gave us and created in us each and every emotion that passes through our hearts and because of this I can experience them, take them to Him and know without doubt that He understands them.
Yesterday was a good day; I accomplished much and felt totally buoyed by my Lord that He was seeing things get done that needed done and they were all happening so smoothly that only His hand could have been on the situation. The day ended with a frustrating conversation with Mark and for no other reason than we don't see eye to eye on how to close out some business in the old units and how to move forward in the new direction God is leading us. I can honestly say that neither of us has a clear direction right now and we pray and pray and still God hasn't given us that "booming" voice that we have been asking for, begging for actually.
So today I did all I knew to do; pray. And as soon as I began praying, I began crying. I cried out to the Lord and am confident that He is listening and acting. I have no fear that I wept for if my Lord wept over an event, His people or the condition of faith in the world; I too can weep and I can share this with Him who understands.
The saying goes, "If you want to make God laugh, make plans."
As I sat in county jail, most of us waiting for the outcome of our cases, the women I was housed with would ask the guards for the Sunday paper or any newspaper, advertiser or other outside media. They would circle apartments, furniture for sale, writing down numbers and taking note of prices. This seemed an odd practice considering many of us faced long jail or prison terms. Few of the women that participated in this ritual ended up "pulling chain" to spend some time in Gatesville or other TDCJ facilities or rehab.
Over time I found myself taking notes as well; movies to see, churches to visit, jobs that sounded like they might hire "ex-offenders", apartments that didn't require background checks. I wanted names of the women I had been incarcerated with; including their phone numbers and addresses in case later they would have information about jobs, housing, etc.
There was something about this activity that made us feel empowered, normal, productive. In an environment that was anything but ordinary, pouring over a a newspaper in that Erin Brochovich kind of determination made us all feel like we were taking charge of our lives. There was hope in the "doing".
Psa 31:24 So be strong and take courage, all you who put your hope in the LORD!
Hope was something in high demand and in low supply. Once a week or so we would have the visits from clergy but few of us took advantage of the richness of these ladies as they sometimes sat alone at tables waiting to be approached by someone. I was one of the reluctant who still tried so hard to make my life plans, taking notes from newspapers far outdated by the time I would be released and still feeling that what I would make of my life rested in my efforts alone.
But because I was so unfamiliar with the Lord, hope resting in Him wasn't my first "go to" when I felt fear or need creep into my heart. I wasn't alone in that.
Today, as I think of our ministry, my families needs, the challenges of the women who walk through our doors; I realize that the hope of our life rests firmly and only with the Lord; His plans, His will and His perfect love for us. But imparting this to others cannot be done! It is something we must experience individually in order to put our fallible human heart and brains fully engaged in this way of thinking and operating.
And EVEN THEN, we still continue to plan and bargain and pray in ways that must make our Lord wonder if not outright chuckle. IF ONLY we would just let Him have the things that worry our hearts, how much He would delight in working with us and directing us!
Psa 37:4 Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Tonight, with a heavy heart, again we've had to make tough decisions around the housing units, the residents and the ways in which they have chosen to manage their lives. It breaks our hearts to exercise the tough love that changed our lives (Mark and I) that we had to bear and while we certainly do not consider ourselves beyond sin or poor choices, we do know that our walk with Jesus has so changed us that we cannot imagine making decisions without prayer and putting before Him those decisions that have a need for His direction.
How silly we are as each day we are reminded that even spending $10 on a Starbucks is something worth talking to our Lord about! Should I purchase this new pair of shorts or do I show restraint and use the monies He has blessed us with elsewhere. More and more the details of our life get His attention as well as the BIG things and we know that He will never fail us with guiding hand.
Today, Mark finally succumbed to his back pain and made a doctor appointment. A big deal for him, he isn't all that fond of doctors. As he was leaving, without much thought I said, "Do you want me to go?" (What? me get out of bed early to simply go and sit in a waiting room? As I have often been heard saying, "seriously?") But something just had me act. I got out of bed, threw on some clothes and headed out with Mark to find out what was causing his back pain.
Our wonderful doctor, we have two really wonderful doctors who we feel truly has a personal interest in our care, was attentive and quickly was coming up with an aggressive treatment plan to get him out of pain. She was prescribing some meds but also prepping Mark for some electro something or other to contract the muscles which was to help realign his spine. This sounded like a great plan. But somehow, I was there and somehow a little voice told me to speak up and I said, "Now does this interfere with his pace maker?" I can't explain why I got out of bed, went to the appointment and spoke up when I did but when all was said and done, yes, the treatment plan we had worked with our doctor to create was a risk for him and his medical history.
Of course, I take no credit for any of this! Glory to our God that He put on my heart to go, speak and simply obey something I did not understand. Was going to the doc with my dear hubby on my list of to do's today or at all in my plans? No. But the again, what we plan is so often interrupted by our God who knows what we do not.
Yes, Mark and I visited a property today to see if it would be a good fit for our housing units that we now are in the market for with the move from Coryell County to Williamson County. Yes, I spent time pouring over the paper to see if there was anything that struck me as a good call to make. But unlike those days in WILCO where my hope was in the doing, today my hope was in the Lord. I flipped page after page of our local advertiser paper and simply said to Mark, "Just checking to see what God might have in here for us."
Today there wasn't anything there. Tomorrow I'll make some calls, look through this weeks advertiser and check in with God several times to see where He leads me. I know He wants to give me the desires of my heart and I know that it is in the delight I take in our relationship, that of Jesus and I that He will direct me in way I should go. My hope lies in Him. His ways are my desire, and I will try hard tomorrow not to make any plans.