Sunday, August 31, 2008

What I'm clinging to...

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform.
He plants his footsteps in the sea
And rides upon the storm.

Deep in His dark and hidden mind,
With never-failing skill,
He fashions all His bright designs,
And works His sovereign will.

So, God, we trust in You.
Oh, God, we trust in You.
When fears are great
And comforts few,
We hope in mercy ever new
We trust in You.
(William Cowper and Bob Kauflin)

From Psalm 107
Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good,
For His steadfast love endures forever!
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
Whom He has redeemed from trouble
And gathered in from the lands,
From the east and from the west,
From the north and from the south.

…they cried to the Lord in their trouble
And He delivered them from their distress.

He made the storm be still,
And the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
And He brought them to their desired haven.
Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love,
For His wondrous works to the children of men!

…He raises us the needy out of affliction and makes their families like flocks.
The upright see it and are glad,
And all wickedness shuts its mouth.
Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things;
Let them consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

Please pray!


Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in Hisglory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, andexpect great things! -- Andrew Murray

I'm in Marksville, LA with some family, watching and waiting. Last night, my mom went to visit with some of her cousins and my brother and I stayed in the room and watched TV, alternating between a CSI marathon and the Weather Channel. And, I just got scared. Last night before we turned off the TV, Hurricane Gustav was a Cat 4 storm with winds reaching 150mph.

When Katrina hit, it wasn't that strong and I was at least semi-displaced for 3 months.

And the kids are on their way to Texas...who knows for how long.

Typing that causes a huge lump to form in my throat.

So, mom came home from her visit at about 10:30. We caught the 11pm update and then she rolled over and went to sleep. I lay there, praying. And then I got up and prayed. I thanked God for who He is and that He is sovereign. I thanked him for getting everyone I love out of harms way. I thanked him that my brother Brad is with us because he makes me laugh. Then I asked him to protect my brothers, sister-in-laws, and the kiddos as they traveled. I asked for protection for everyone I work with and my friends, by name. And then I just begged for mercy...for my family, for our city, for the company I work for, and that I would be able to see the kids soon. And, then, I begged for mercy again. Finally, I begged for God to perserve my trust and give me peace. I prayed back to the Lord what He says about Himself, His sovereignty, how He makes Leviathan his brush, rides upon the storm, and works all things according to His good pleasure.

And now? Now I'm trying not to be afraid and expecting good things from God.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Evacuation: Day 2

I had planned for this post to be filled with amusing tidbits from the day, like my brother, The Crack Head, re-enacting a scene from elf in our shower and funny conversations I had at the family reunion and so on, but all I can think right now is this:


The word the weathermen have been using a lot this afternoon is "devastating". In New Orleans, we thought we knew what devastating looked like. We saw it 3 years ago. But Katrina wasn't 150mph, and the kiddos were not heading to Texas...possibly for good.

So for now...150mph is all I got.
And I beg anyone who reads this to pray, pray, pray.

"I am compassionate."

From Today's Daily Light.
The king . . . held out to Esther the golden
scepter. . . . Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter. “If he cries to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate.”So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us.—Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.— For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.—We have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him.—Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Esth. 5:2; Ex. 22:27; 1 John 4:16-19; Heb. 10:22; Eph. 2:18; Eph. 3:12; Heb. 4:16)

One of my favorite devotional books is Daily Light. It is a daily set of readings made entirely of scripture. There are no poems or personal commentary, it is just bits and pieces of scripture strung together to say one things. The book was written by a father to lead his family in daily time with the Lord...and it is wonderful. It is very rare that I walk away unaffected, and without a nugget or two that specifically speak to, and help, my current situation. It's also neat when, unbeknownst to me, I walk away with something for someone else.

But, sometimes, when I read a section like the one above, I wonder if it would have the same impact on me if I wasn't already familiar with the context of the various scripture references. For example, the first line effected me "The king . . . held out to Esther the golden scepter. . . . Then Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter." Now, contentually, this is not "I am compassionate" or "let us draw near...with full assurance of faith." But, I know the story and that snippet was enough to immediately speak to me and set my mind to see the other, generally more familiar verses, with new eyes.

In the book of Esther, it tells the story of a young girl who is gathered up along with every other virgin in her town, to "try out" as the new queen, i.e., become part of a harem for the rest of her life in hopes of being chosen as queen. Esther was chosen (naming the book after her sort of gives that away right at the get-go). But, even as queen, there were certain rules and regulations she was given. One was that she was only allowed into the King's presence if he asked for her. In fact, she could have been banished or killed if she dared presume to go to the King without an invitation. However, in a state of desperate need to protect her people, she approached the throne room and instead of sending her away to a dungeon or death, he held out the golden scepter and heard what she had to say. Why? Because he loved her and had mercy on her.

So it is, only infinity times more, with God. He loves, so he beckons us into His presence. He listens and He has compassion.

There have been few times in my life that I have been more thankful for that truth than right now. There's been a storm brewing in my family. There is a storm brewing out in the caribbean which just might be headed to once again destroy the City I call home. The kiddos (my nieces and nephew) are going to be in another state for at least the next week while we wait and watch and see where the God who rides upon the storm plants His feet. And, yet, this morning, despite a twinge in my chest when I think about the kiddos...I'm at rest.

That wasn't the case yestderday or the day before or the day before that...but it is today because He heard my pleas for mercy and has answered with peace.

God is faithful, even when we are not. Even when our emotions or our sin are so clouding everything else that all we can muster is a "God help". Even when we can't muster that, He is praying and interceding for us, and is ready to hold out the golden scepter to us when we "dare" to approach His throne room.

So..."Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

He is compassionate. He will hear. He will show mercy and grant us peace.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Evacuation: Day 1

Part of my family and I left home today, partly to flee the coming storm and get a jump on the crazy evacuation traffic and partly because we have a family reunion in the central part of our state. The latter would be far more exciting were it not for the large mass of swirling, churning destruction staring us down from somewhere just behind the Cuban border. But, I'm not one to quibble over details...

All in all, the evacuation was smooth and uneventful, as all good evacuations should be. The traffic wasn't too bad and the drive wasn't too long. When we evacuated for Katrina, I got car sick about half way through a 14 hr drive. Not good. But no nausea or headaches or any other malday this time. Yay!

Along for the ride were My oldest brother, his girlfriend and her daughter. They were the lead car. Behind him, my 2nd to last brother, then Mom, then me. Yes, we each took separate cars. Better than leaving them home to get flooded, right? There were times that I wished I had someone in the car to talk to and help distract me from the fact that the kiddos weren't with me, and were in fact, headed in a completely different direction for an indefinite period of time, but...that was usually right before my 2nd to last brother (a.k.a. "the crack head") would text me something like this: "I order a mandatory evacuation of my bowels."


We stopped for dinner, and the aforementioned evacuation, at a Shoney's about halfway between home and our destination. I sat next to the crack head and we had some good laughs ...about what I can't remember now. But, I do remember thinking and saying that I was so glad he was with us. He always makes me laugh. And, just for the record, he doesn't really do crack, I just call him that. It's a term of endearment, really.

Anyway, now I sit in a dismal motel room listening to the sound of the AC and wishing the kiddos where here to snuggle me to sleep. But they're not, so I just pray they are safe, unafraid, and that I will see them real soon...and that the crackhead doesn't snore too loudly tonight.


My Psalm of the Day

Psalm 29
Ascribe to the LORD Glory
A Psalm of David.

1Ascribe to the LORD, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.
3The voice of the LORD is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the LORD, over many waters.
4The voice of the LORD is powerful; the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
5The voice of the LORD breaks the cedars; the LORD breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the LORD flashes forth flames of fire.
8The voice of the LORD shakes the wilderness; the LORD shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the LORD makes the deer give birth and strips the forests bare, and in his temple all cry, "Glory!"
10The LORD sits enthroned over the flood; the LORD sits enthroned as king forever.
11May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


It's hurricane season, and for those who don't live along the Gulf Coast or the Eastern Seaboard, that might not mean a whole heck of a lot to you. But here, in post-Katrina New Orleans, it means "PANIC!"

Or at least that's the way it seems. My mom has had heated conversations with relatives about where they are going to evacuate to, booked hotel rooms in a town 3 hours north of us, and started putting together an emergency kit. All this, and the storm isn't even in the Gulf yet!

Me? I'll probably go where my parent's go.

I have no bags packed.

I have no emergency kit.

I don't even have a can of vienna sausage.

But, still, I think I'll be ok. :)

Being an Aunt is hard!

It's no secret to anyone who visits this blog that I am the proud aunt to three kiddos: The Dudler, The Princess and The Diva. They are my heart...and let's face life. I'm single, don't have a significant other, and don't "party" so what else is there to do besides babysit and have sleepovers and take the kiddos on fun outings?

I can't think of a single thing.

But, being an aunt isn't all fun. In fact, it can be really, really hard. I don't mean hard like motherhood and the chronic sleep deprivation and constant busyness and trying to force oneself to be consistant and organized and even-tempered when you are not naturally inclined to those dispositions. I mean hard like on your heart, hard like you worry so much you'll give yourself an ulcer! It's hard because 1) I'm not the momma. 2) They aren't attached to my hip at all times. and 3) I'm not the momma.

Because of items 1 and 3, I have no say in anything. My opinion doesn't matter. I can't protect or guide. I can't make decisions. And I shouldn't. I say that firmly. I shouldn't because...I'll say it again...I'm not the momma. But that doesn't stop me from wanting to, and, if I'm honest, from thinking I know better from time to time. It is something I ask forgiveness for often. Therein lies the impending ulcer and the source of conflict that arises, whether within or without.

James 4:1-3 says:
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your
passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

I want and do not have...then I slip into ulcer-making mode.

See, the reality of it is, that being an Aunt is hard partly because I just love the kids a lot, but also because I make it hard by wanting what is not (in effect charging God with wrong), and not believing that His word is true or that He is sovereign over their lives. Just like the sin in Eden was not about an apple or a snake or a woman, my sin in this is not about the kids or my singleness, it is about me and God. It is about me believing He is who He says He is and that He will do what He says He will do. Period.

I want a comma and a "but" there. But there isn't, and there shouldn't be. Period.

Like in everything else, I am called to simply surrender. In scripture it is called dying daily. It is just taking every care, concern, preference, motive, desire, habit, relationship, segment of time, ...everything...and surrender it, submit it to the Lord. It is His because I am His. And in submitting, I humble myself before my God, my Creator, My Savior, My Lord and trusting that His response, no matter how it touches that particular thing, will not just be good, but the best. I can't surrender if I don't believe that.

I haven't been believing that...and that just breaks my heart. But God...

A friend of mine asked me the other night, "What is your favorite thing about God right now?"
My answer, without hesitation was, "That He is faithful even when I'm unfaithful." Despite the fact that I've not been believing that He is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do, He has still been very near to me. He has still whispered words of peace and comfort. He has still met me in worship and used me and heard my prayers and continued to intercede for me. And, He has still been about the business of working all things together for my good.

That is simply amazing. I pray this truth will soon be more amazing than being an Aunt is hard.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Faithful God

From today's "Daily Light":

His faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
When God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. “The faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.”—All the paths of the Lord are
steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.—Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the
Lord his God . . . who keeps faith forever.

Monday, our family got some upsetting least it was upsetting to everyone but me.


The news was that there was an issue with my nephew and school. Now, normally, anything that touches the kiddos lives in even a potentially negative way sends me into a tailspin of worry and forecasting doom... and nachos. But, not this time. This time, the news was delivered and I had this settled peace and soon after felt the Lord say to me "You see this! I'm in this! I mean business! I will have this boy! I will have his mother! I will have this family!"

Man, was I pumped then!

And, you know what? Though nothing is certain or settled, things just keep looking better and better for the future of my nephew and our family. And, for the first time in a long time, I am looking a year down the road and feeling hopeful! Why? Because this God “the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations" has assured me that He sees, He knows, and He is moving on behalf of my family; in response to fervent prayers for intervention over recent weeks; and because of His lovingkindness. What circumstance (favorable or unfavorable) could trump a guarantee from God that He is in the midst of the trial and has (and will continue to) extend mercy and kindness?

Nothing I can think of...

And that, in and of itself, is another praise and answered prayer!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sweet Home Alabama

About 2 months ago, I took a new position within my company. One of the perks of this new position is that I get to travel around and visit all of the branch offices on a fairly regular basis.

I like traveling and visiting.

This week, I was in Alabama visiting with the folks in two of our offices there. It was wonderful! The area surrounding our offices are beautiful. The people are really nice and fun. The meetings I had there were very productive. And did I mention the people are really nice and fun?

Well, they are.

But even with all of that good stuff, the thing that I come away with most each time I go there is just how Christian...the climate and culture of those offices are. There, the watercooler talk is often about church activities, bible studies, theological books the men are reading and so on. Of course, there is also talk of hunting and fishing and kids and movies and thing like that...but the Christian topics get equal coverage. This is something that just does not happen at my home office. When a group goes out to lunch, one of the guys says a blessing over the meal. This just does not happen at my home office. And, when someone gets a bad report from the doctor or an upsetting bit of family news their friends and co-workers gather around them to pray. This just does not happen at my home office. I love the people I work with...I do!... but visiting our Alabama offices felt more like "home" to me than being home at this office does.

In Alabama, we speak the same language, we (mostly) think the same way and care about the same things and have similar priorities. Here, I often feel like I have to turn down the volume of who I am OR (when I don't) like I'm running my nails down the chalkboard of another's life.

I don't always feel that way, thankfully. And the people here are also fun and nice...just a different kind of fun and nice. That's not a complaint, just a statement of fact. I also realize I work for a business not a church and that New Orleans is in the buckle of the Bible Belt and the demographic of our office is just different and more mixed culturally and religiously and that is a good thing, too. All I'm saying is, for me...the difference in Alabama was good and even now, before my work day has begun, I miss it.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Three Things

3 things3 things that scare me:
1. The thought of my nieces and nephew growing up worldly, angry and without knowing the Lord...and all the bad choices that goes along with that condition.
2. Dying alone.
3. The thought of my family "breaking up".

3 people that make me laugh:
1. Mandy
2. Jonathan
3. The kiddos...they are always doing something silly!

3 things I love:
1. Jesus
2. Music
3. That tingly, giddy, warm, eyes-watering feeling I get when I just really love somebody.

3 things that I hate:
1. My sin
2. Going days without laughing
3. Feeling rejected and alone

3 things I don't understand:
1. My sinfulness
2. Racism
3. Gangsta Rap

3 things on my floor:
1. Luggage from my recent trip to Maryland/D.C.
2. Clothes in need of washing
3. Shoes

3 things I am doing right now:
1. Typing
2. Listening to Aretha Franklin
3. Thinking about how I want my "hair did" today.

3 things I want to do before I die:
1. Be more like Christ than I am now
2. Be a normal weight
3. Be a wife and mother

3 things I can do:
1. Sing
2. Crack myself up
3. Bake a mean Peach Cobbler

3 things that describe my personality:
1. Emotional
2. Tends towards pessimism
3. Silly

3 things I think you should listen to:
1. The Word of God
2. Older, wiser folks.
3. Your gut.

3 things I don't think you should listen to:
1. Most anyone involved in or broadcasted via mass media
2. Any lofty idea that raised up against the truth of the Word of God
3. Anyone who insists that a mullet is a good idea

3 Favorite foods:
1. Nachos
2. Pretty much anything involving rice, except sushi
3. Meat

3 beverages I drink regularly:
1. Coffee
2. Coke Zero
3. Water

3 shows I watch:
1. How Clean is Your House on BBC America
2. Jimmy Neutron, SpongeBob, iCarly, Drake & Josh on Nick
3. Numb3rs

3 books I have read more than once:
1. The Bible
2. A Chance to Die (biography of Amy Carmichael)
3. Pride & Prejudice