Saturday, June 12, 2010

Whew....what a weekend!

Last week, I lived in fear of the unknown. You see, my mother-in-law along with 2 of my husband's cousins were coming to visit us for the weekend. Every night for a week, I laid in bed and feared the worst. What if they did something to my children? Or me? Or what if they influence my children in a wrong way? Will I have to put them through "Mommy Boot Camp" when our guests leave????

You may ask, what is the big deal? Doesn't everyone have relatives come and visit from time to time?

Yes, but I feared the unknown. My husband and his family grew up in South Chicago. Most of his relatives have a "community" that they belong to which is an unfamiliar way of life to me. Some have been shot, some killed, and some have killed. Who are these two guys coming to stay with us? What were they going to bring into my home??

They arrived at 4am on Friday morning, so I did not see them until around noon that day. When the bedroom door opened, my palms started to sweat, and I began to shake. Each were covered in their preferred tattoos that painted a story of their lives, and their walk was hard. I prayed, "Oh, Lord, I need you now!"

I got up, introduced myself, and shook their hands. Why do they not look me in the eye? Why do they turn when I shake their hands?

"Can I get you anything to eat or drink?" They politely refused with the words, "No, ma'am."

I went ahead and started making preparations for dinner. Romans 12 kept playing through my head, "Love must be sincere. Hate what was evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality." Vs. 9-13

I was filled with conviction. I should fear no one but the Lord Himself. I pushed through a lot of emotions that weekend, but the thing that I am most grateful for is the need to serve those who do not know our Father.

At one point, one of the cousins said, "Man, it's quiet here. There is no shooting." My heart sank deep! I can not imagine a life of poverty, drugs, beatings, & shootings. A life of always watching my back for fear of getting taken down or "out". Each cousin has his own story. One was shot for his hat tilted the wrong way....the other, well, because he chose a "community" other than the shooter.

After the weekend was over, one cousin posted on Facebook about his time here. He had given up "Mary Jane" and knows that it will be a fight. He also mentioned that he is not a religious guy, but knew that they were watched over after driving through a tornado.

A joyful celebration went through our house upon reading his words. If one weekend could influence change in his life....what could more time investing do? Could he give up his ways and follow Him??!!!! YES!!!!

This is why my family will continue praying for an opportunity to serve in the city somewhere. God can change the hearts of hard men & women! We want to be His vessels in order to reach the lost, to educate & stop the shootings, and to shine bright where there is only darkness.

I would not change a thing about this past weekend. These men have made me a better Christian and at times, I had to check my own heart and memorize Romans 12:16, "Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited."

Lord, may my heart always be opened to love, to serve, and to honor all that you put into our lives.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

New Beginnings....

After several attempts at starting a blog, I have high hopes of this one actually succeeding!!

Have you ever thought about who you are and then tried to write it out for the world to read?! Is it as hard for you as it is for me to not paint a beautiful picture of who I'd actually like to be rather than the person that I truly am??

Well, here I am.....

I grew up in Owasso, OK which use to be a small suburb of Tulsa. I lived in a perfect, little town, but my childhood was beyond anything close to perfect. Please don't get me wrong, my mother did the best job she could with the resources she had to love us and raise us as she knew best. However, my parents divorced when I was 6 and there was always some type of drama going on....whether it be living w/o utilities or playing in the parking lot of a jail so that our dad could see us while he served time for drugs.

My dad was in and out of our lives growing up and I longed for him to be around and for his approval. It didn't matter what was going on or where he was (jail, drug rehab), I just wanted his love.

Once I got older, I realized that I could experience "love" from others. Boy was I wrong! This was not love at all. This was giving myself away in order to fill a deep wound left unfilled.

I attended a Christian College in Missouri and spent hours upon hours studying the Word and learning about the love God so freely gives. It was hard for me to grasp because I would relate God to my earthly father rather than my Heavenly Father. So, at times, I would sink back into my self-gratification state and seek out to fix my deep wounds myself.

I made some horrible mistakes that I will carry for the rest of my life, but by His grace, my life has been transformed & I live renewed and filled by His Spirit!

I met my husband during this time of soul-searching and renewal. He has recently said that no matter my past, the decisions that I've made, he has no shame for me, I am his wife.

My story is long, as many of yours are, but I'd like to keep it brief for now. One can't simply share everything in the first post, right?!

And although this does not paint the most beautiful picture of myself, I can't wait to share with you the beauty of God's redeeming love through daily life experiences!