October 29, 2008

"If the barn needs paintin'..." and update on Melanie

First, the update on Melanie. She is responding more to painful stimuli, which is a good sign. The latest request is prayer for Jeff and other family members, as this trial continues. As always, you can check the CarePages site for the latest word on Melanie.
Jill is back home with her family in Michigan and while she is happy to be home, she is still praying for Jeff and Melanie and their precious little ones. Many of you have checked the CarePages site, and I appreciate your prayers for this family. Y'all rock!!!

Okay, on to the barn.

How many times have I heard a preacher say, "If the barn needs paintin', then paint it", especially in connection with a woman wearing make-up? Oh, too many to count. And it has been across denominational lines, from the Baptist to the Assembly of God to the non-denominational!

So, why am I writing this blog? Because I heard a story, not sure if it is fact or fiction (and the sad part is that I can't even remember where I heard it), that gave me pause...especially being the Mom of two teenage girls!

The story relayed was about a pastor and his wife and it was said that in about 17 yrs of marriage, he had never seen her without make-up on. She would apparently rise early in the morn, wash off the previous days make-up and re-apply, all before her pastor husband awoke. Then something happened that she was not able to keep her routine...and the pastor saw her true face. The story concluded by saying that within a year, the marriage ended in divorce....more than likely because of deception!

I was telling my dear hubs about this when a question dawned on me...why can't pastors just say from the pulpit that all women are beautiful in the eyes of God. Why have they spread for years the very idea that the 'barn' may need paint??? And, do I really want to be compared to a barn?????

See, I struggle just like many other women, with being beautiful. I know that dear hubs loves me, but "You're beautiful" just can't seem to cross his lips! I know that to the worlds standards, I'm not beautiful...but do I really want to listen to the world or to what God says about me? I'm short and have always been on the heavy side...or at least felt like it! I was never 'thin'! My legs are short, of course!, and much like the lover of Solomon, I can say they look like tree trunks! My face is scarred from years of acne and the chicken pox (at 16!) and my hair looks like I comb it with a rake, unless of course, I spend money on product and time and energy getting it into 'place'! My hair is curly, which for me is another way of saying it is unruly!!!

I don't usually wear make-up, unless we are going to church or out somewhere nice, it is too expensive to use everyday. When I do wear make-up, I don't use much...enough to cover and give some color. I know dear hubs doesn't mind, because he will show up at random times of day and ask me to go somewhere with him...and he says it doesn't matter how I look! For most of our marriage, I have taken this to mean he doesn't care...about me! However, I am just now beginning to understand that it means I don't need makeup for him to love me. While he may not be able to say the words, he does find me attractive, just because I am me.

So, our youngest has fought the battle of make-up with her Dad for years! We would catch her at school wearing another friends make-up...way too heavy or the wrong colors for her! She didn't care...she just wanted to wear make-up. I always questioned how I was supposed to make her feel okay about herself, when I didn't feel okay about myself? Her Daddy kept saying she didn't need make-up, she was pretty just like she was, and I agreed....but she also saw me in my insecurity!

Well, God has used the story above and two scriptures to draw me a bit out of my insecurity...1 Peter 3:3,4 says Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. And another popular one, 1 Sam 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."

In typing this out, I am beginning to see that the original change of heart began when dear hubs and I began having devos together. As we seek the Lord in unity, I am beginning to feel more attractive...even if I look like I comb my hair with a rake! Why? Because God knows my heart! Because as we come together in unity before God's throne, we both look good in our Heavenly Daddy's eyes! And boy, does hubs look good!!! (but only to me!!!)

Now before ya go tellin' me 'bout it, do I think we should look our best??? To be honest, I'm not sure how to answer that! Just like every other lady, I so enjoy getting dressed up...it makes me feel beautiful, even if no one else sees it that way! However, I desire to be beautiful, no matter what I am wearing - whether Prada or Wal-Mart...because it is not what I have on that counts...it is the heart! See, we are right back to the issues of the heart!

I will agree that especially in this day and age, we as women must dress modestly! I think sometimes we get so caught up in following a certain 'rule' that we forget the heart of the matter - the heart!

One thing I have learned from the Lord this year...NOTHING CAN CHANGE UNTIL THE HEART BEGINS TO CHANGE!!! Yes, I can tell Bunny to not wear make-up but until she begins to understand that this rule is because she is beautiful and doesn't NEED make-up, she will continue to rebel against the rule. Although, being a freshman, even her Daddy has begun to let her wear make-up! We as parents have to prove to her precious heart that she is beautiful...inside and out!

This is hard, y'all! My heart aches to see so many young girls trying to get away with too much make-up and too little clothing...and Bunny is one of those struggling to find who she is in Christ. I wish I could tell my 16 yr old self what I have learned in the last few months! I would have saved a lot of tears and anguish!

Ladies, you are beautiful to your Heavenly Daddy! He doesn't ask anything other than for YOU to come to Him. For my college aged friends, God finds you beautiful! He made you beautiful, you are the work of His hands...as are we all!

Oh, and a miracle...I'm standing in the kitchen last night, cutting hubs a piece of banana bread when he comes in the doorway and says, "You look good!" Oh, yeah!!!

I hope and pray that you feel beautiful today! You are!!!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

God's girl, Pamela

October 24, 2008

Please pray for Melanie

Melanie is my good friend, Jill's, sister-in-law. On Oct 17, she was shopping in Target with her 4 yr old daughter when she passed out and subsequently, stopped breathing. She was quickly given CPR by a fellow shopper and the ambulance was apparently there quickly.

It has now been determined that Melanie does have an electrical issue with her heart and they inserted a defibrilator to keep her heart beating correctly. For the first few days Melanie was responsive but then, my understanding is that she had a seizure and has not been quite as responsive since then.

This is one of those times when I felt that God called an audible in my life!!!

When the first e-mail came, I was not feeling well....turns out Bunny and I had bronchitis! I prayed for Melanie and the family, felt a tug on my heart to send Jill a comforting e-mail since Melanie is in SE Texas and Jill lives in MI. I have though, for the most part, sat on the sidelines. I read the e-mails, I prayed for Melanie and for Jill, I checked the CarePages and left comments there. I didn't see where there was much more that I could do.

Until today! God called an audible and asked me to get off the sideline!

I got a call from Jill, who is now able to be with her brother and other family members in Houston. She simply asked if I would send out the next e-mail update to her address book. Oh my, how could I say no? You see, Jill and I have been friends a long time....and at one point, we were prayer partners. Even though she is now across the nation from me, God has given us a special bond through a year of praying for our husbands, marriages and children.

I could not say no!!! I did not say no.

However, as I was typing up the e-mail, I felt this nudge on my heart....add your list. "But, Lord. This is one of those situations where very few people that I know at this time know Jill. So, they will be praying for a friend's, friend's sister-in-law. There is too much space here."

I felt it again....add YOUR list.

So, okay, I'm adding my list! Here you go....please pray for my friend, Jill's, sister-in-law, Melanie. She is a 31 yr old mother of 2, a 6yr old and a 4yr old. She is wife to Jeff, Jill's little brother. She is loved and she loves our Lord.

Please feel free to visit the website at CarePages. But most of all, please pray. The word today is that Melanie's body is working properly, her brain just needs to wake up. And we know that our God is big enough to do that!!!

Thank you so much for caring and praying for this precious family. If you got the e-mail, thank you for reading this again.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...(like a young Mom waking up!)

God's girl, Pamela

October 22, 2008

What is the Message?

This will probably be a long blog, so go get a cup of coffee or tea and join me for awhile! I have had something on my heart for a few days and a local news story last night has really added to the heaviness. I will not say that I have the answer....I don't! I am still working through a process of understanding truly following God with my whole heart and I feel this is just a part of that process.

God graciously blessed our home with two beautiful daughters. We were young when they came along, both physically and in our marriage. I learned I was pregnant with DD1 within weeks of my 21st birthday. We had not yet celebrated our first wedding anniversary.

By the time Bunny entered our lives three years later, we were older but I'm not sure we were wiser. During my pregnancy with her is when our marriage began to unravel....or at least what I thought was our marriage. It took a year and a half for the secret to unfold between us, and then we had a 4 yr old and a 9 mo old and a huge elephant in the house!

While we were preparing to wed, I had made the statement that I did not want three children, I am the middle of three. I had said it was either two or four, I would not have one stuck in the middle! My dear hubs is an only and some of you can imagine how that played out in our marriage...middle of three used to sharing everything and an only that didn't even have to share his bathroom!

So, when Bunny was 10 mo old, I had my tubes tied! I did not want another pregnancy...it became a real and serious fear for me! With all that I had gone through in Bunny's pregnancy and then our marriage struggling under a huge secret after she was born, I just could not imagine doing it all again.

After DD1 was born, we were asked by family friends if we were going to 'try' again and a response from a very close family member still haunts me. He said, "When you do it right the first time, you don't have to try again." I did it 'right' the first time, God gave me a beautiful, healthy baby girl that has grown into a wonderful young lady that truly seeks God with all of her heart! I did it 'right' the second time, too, when God gave me a beautiful healthy baby girl that has now become an absolutely awesome teenager that is still searching how to live in light of God's grace.

I was later told how I had disappointed a family member by not 'trying' to have a boy...as if that was the only reason to have children! How many girls would it have taken for this person to become happy with herself and not pin all hopes on a boy?

Do I regret having my tubes tied? NO
I know dear hubs Grandmother asked if I felt I needed to ask forgiveness for having the surgery...and I didn't. Knowing who we were at that time in our lives, I don't think our marriage could have survived a third child...it came really close to being over with just the two. The struggles in our marriage were not about our children, it was secrets we had both brought into our marriage, not having learned how to process through some tragedies of our childhoods.

Well, the news story that broke last night started like this....Baptist preacher says birth control is 'murder' . The news story can be found at WFAA. This morning I looked up the full chapel session where this was preached.

I understand the heart of the man's message, I really do. However, in his zeal I think perhaps he did not fully get across all that he wanted to. I know that hubs and I do not have a quiver full of children, according to Ps 127:5 and that is his scripture reference.

I also know couples that have never been able to have children, and some of those have chosen to live as just a couple. One couple I know has time to work in the yard every Saturday...no b-ball games or band activities. They change out the decor in their home according to holiday or season. She has a craft room that she only shares with the piano. Would I want her life? NO WAY!!! I think I would be bored to tears!

I also know couples that God has blessed with 5 and 6 children. Their house is always hopping! Am I jealous? NOT ON YOUR LIFE!!

I know this may be hard to follow...as I said, I am still trying to process this myself. However, I feel this is one of those issues of the heart! God knows our frame. And our frame of mind. His grace is sufficient for where we are.

I guess my question is two fold. First, how do you feel about the message being portrayed in the news cast? Second, are you someone that sees a large family coming and asks, "Don't they know what causes that?" or do you see a childless couple and think how selfish they must be to not want children?

I know in my own life, I have felt both ways. I know God is calling me to a higher standard of grace, by not judging people on the surface.

I can also say I am so thankful for the two precious children God did give me.

I am also thankful that our marriage has survived and that we truly love each other more now than we did 20 yrs ago. I am thankful to know that God has continued to draw us together in unity for His glory over the past 5 yrs.

If you have waded through this with me, THANK YOU! I hope on some level it makes sense. I know God is drawing me closer to Him and I am really trying to learn how to love according to Luke 10:27.

I pray your day is blessed!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....(especially my daughters!)

God's girl, Pamela

October 16, 2008

I've been officially Churched

I did finish the book, but not without some laughter, a few tears and a nightmare....seriously!!!

If you know what the actual name of "Fyles Sanderson College in Indiana" is, you should probably read the book!

Matthew Paul Turner writes with such humor and wit that it makes me believe he and Wendy Bagwell would be friends! The common thread between them: they both take God and their relationship with Him seriously, but not religion! I think if Wendy were still alive, he would give Churched his stamp of approval!

I had to laugh as Matthew wrote about his first visit to the barber, after becoming Baptist! Oh, yes, the Fundamental Baptist haircut! I've seen a lot of them because the guys in my Christian school, much larger than MPT's, had to have their hair cut the same way! And my Daddy being a barber, he was really good at the Baptist hair cut!

Reading MPT's memory of A Thief in the Night apparently brought too much information to the front of my mind because I really had a nightmare about it!
I watched the movie as a 12 yr old. That movie scared the bejeebies out of me!!! I remember lying in bed on several occasions watching out the window as airplanes crossed the sky, praying it was not the Russians on their way to take part in Armageddon!

My absolute favorite part of the book is in the chapter titled Seven, not chapter 7, but the chapter titled Seven. The one phrase, "...put his love for people before his love for rules.", is to me the crux of Christianity! God desires us to follow His rules, not ones made up by man. Luke 10:27 NIV
He answered: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself. It seems to me the first 'rule' is LOVE! Yes, I am still struggling with this one, but I pray I am growing closer to God through the process!

I will end with the Christian Character Award! Reading Matthew's account sounds somewhat like my story except mine wasn't given by the leadership but rather by peers - in the choir...still bigger than MPT's Christian school!!! The funny thing is, when we first moved overseas that plaque hung on the wall but I have not seen it in years....and I haven't missed it either! If those choir kids had really known me, they would have NEVER chosen me as the recipient! While I was a goodie-goodie on the outside, the inside was not so good! I was more like the parable in Matthew (the book of the Bible!) about the white-washed tombs.

So, yes, I have laughed and cried my way through this book! It has been a healing balm for me in many areas. I thought I had worked it all out over the past several years but some memories would come out of nowhere while reading and I knew the Lord really wanted me to deal with them, NOW!!! His healing touch is so sweet!

Note to my Momma: I know y'all did the best you knew how to do and I do not hold you responsible in any way for the memories this book brought to mind. We are imperfect people, living in an imperfect world, led by imperfect people. What y'all did was give me a good foundation so that when I was ready to seek out God, I knew where to find Him!

I hope you have a chance to read the book! I am looking forward to reading more of MPT's works in the near future!

Y'all have a fantastic day!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow...

God's girl, Pamela

PS...On Saturday night, Bunny's band came in 10th place overall. They were pretty bummed about that but they redeemed themselves last night by once again, 18th year in a row for the school and director!, getting a 1 at regioinal UIL!!! I think a week from Saturday they head to area UIL and when competition is over, Bunny will get to march in the Halloween half-time!
Tomorrow night, the girls schools play one another in football! Oh, yah, I'm a Rander Mom for sure!!!

October 11, 2008

I'm not sure what to title this. I'm not yet sure what all I am willing to share with you! Is that a horrible confession?

Yesterday was my 40th birthday. OOOOOHHHH! I really don't like saying that! I enjoyed being in my 30's! Oh, but I digress!

I'm not sure that it can be explained, but my sister and I have birthdays just 3 days apart and somehow as adults it seems very important for this one day to be extra special for us! We try to do it for each other, but there just seems to be something missing when my immediate family 'forgets'! But, I am tired of looking so childish about the whole day, so I determined in my heart to make yesterday good, myself! And of course, with God's help, it was an absolutely beautiful day!!!

As I was taking the girls to school, there was the most awesome sunrise! I told the girls it was my kiss from God, my gift for my birthday! It was truly gorgeous, lots of gold, pink and purple in the sky against the backdrop of blue...what could be more beautiful than one of God's creations?

I decided that for dinner, I wanted to have a nice, candlelight dinner! It was really neat! This was only the second time in our marriage that I have used my china...which you can see here. I thought it was beautiful! It really filled up the feminine side of my love bank and dear hubs didn't snivel at all!

This is just not his thing and he would really never think to do this for me, so if I want to have a candlelight dinner, I need to do it for me! And that is okay! God did not give my family to me to make me happy, He gave me the ability to lean on Him and find joy in the smallest of tasks! Or the prettiest of tables! Or the most beautiful sunrise! Or the embrace of my dear hubs and girls!

It turned out to be a wonderful birthday! Bunny really enjoyed the dinner; romance is something she craves even at her young age!

Now on to other things; I have been reading Churched and I got to a point that brought up some really painful memories. Most of it has made me chuckle, even laugh out loud and have to read a portion to my family! But then, I hit about midway and the Lord just really let me know in no uncertain terms that I need to deal with some memories! I hope to get back to the book soon!!! I have a feeling this will not be the only place I have to stop for awhile!

Bunny has a long day ahead of her today, it is a pre-UIL band competition. If they make it into the finals, they don't plan to be home until 11pm! We have not yet heard where they are in the standings but I will let you know in the next week. They have our town's Band Fest on Monday night, then actual UIL competition on Wed. Busy week ahead for her!

DD1 is enjoying her presidency of the Christian club at school! For the next few weeks, a couple of her officers will be giving the lesson so she has had time to work on European History this weekend! Next weekend, they are planning a party for the Christian club to get everyone together off of school grounds and hopefully get to know one another better.

Thank you for continuing to pray for my girls. It is really neat to see how God works in their lives. They are so different and His love towards them is tailored just to fit their needs, just like the rest of us!

I guess I really have no scripture to share today. And as far as what all I did tell you, I also deleted the first half of the post...it was just not good, it was not from God! I really want all that I share here to have His stamp of approval! I desire to encourage you in your walk with our precious Savior.

Hope your weekend is awesome!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

God's girl, Pamela

October 7, 2008

Have you been Churched???

The book comes out today and I am so excited, I absolutely cannot wait to get my hands on it!!! I am hoping I can find it at Mardel, if not, I will be asking them to order some copies, then heading straight to Barnes and Noble to find it!

And, I have Churched bookmarks if anyone is interested! You can comment me and let me know where to send one. I only asked for a few because I'm still not sure just how many I can give out!!!

Today is also my big Sissy's birthday! Happy Birthday to the most wonderful sister in the world!!! Yes, I should know because she is mine and that makes her the best!

Some of you may have noticed a new name on my blogroll: Without Wax. He is a pastor in Nashville, TN and is really making a difference! I am enjoying reading his blog and I pop over on occasion to his wife's, as well. They are really sweet and have such a heart for God!

I hope y'all have a terrific day...it is finally cooler here so I will be enjoying the beautiful weather; high of 79 and sunny skies! Maybe even take Christy for a walk!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow....

God's girl, Pamela

I went to Mardel and they were already sold out of the book. She said they were putting in another order today and it would be in by Friday and she could put a hold on one....ummm, no thanks! I am too excited to have to wait a few days! Then, I went to Barnes & Noble, they had 3 books but the price was right at what I had to spend...my birthday money! And I am nothing if not cheap!!!
Then I headed to Target and Wal-Mart and neither of them had the book and by this time, I was beginning to get frustrated! I came home and found a $10 gift card in the mail from a survey I did back in the summer!!! So, after some lunch, we headed back to the mall and bought the book at B&N!!! Yeah! I'm gonna go read now so I may be awhile!!! Y'all enjoy the cool weather!!!

October 1, 2008

Issues of the Heart

I have been reading Waking the Dead by John Eldredge and I am almost finished with it but I'm not ready for it to end! This may be a book that I absolutely must buy just so I can re-read it every few years!!!

We also saw Fireproof, the movie this weekend. These two things have brought about a lot of searching for me.

As fallen beings, our hearts have just been overrun by the world and the prince of darkness, satan. I for one, am tired of satan having free reign over my heart and the hearts of my husband and children, when by the power of the resurrected Christ, we have been given a new heart! I am learning by the power of the Lord, how to fight for my heart and those of my family.

We've all heard the scriptures; Prov 4:23 Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life, or Ps 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. But do we live these in our every day life?

I haven't. Even on days when I do my Bible study, or have actual devotions, I am not always consciously exchanging my heart of stone for the heart of flesh that my Lord so desires to give me. Ez. 11:19 And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh....

Please, I am asking you my bloggy friends, to hold me accountable to fighting for the hearts of myself and those around me. And please be graceful, my heart is so bruised right now...it hurts still. I know if mine is this bruised, that Bunny's is even more so and that makes me hurt even more.

Happy Birthday to my sweet Bunny!!! Tomorrow she will be 15! Yikes!
She is a bit unhappy because she is not yet marching in the band, she is still shadowing an upperclassmen that she thought had failed the first 6 wks so she would have a chance to march but found out that he somehow passed. So, she is thinking right now that she won't get to march the rest of the season. Please pray that God would comfort her and keep her during this difficult time. She is also fighting again with her 'best' friend. Not the first, but we are praying it will be the last fight these girls have!

And before I close, I want to give a shout out to Baltimore, MD!!! I know four beautiful ladies in that fair city and I pray God's best over them today and in the future!

I know this is an awkward end but I need to get Bunny's gift started! I am burning daylight here so need to run!!!

PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW....(especially my precious children!)

God's girl, Pamela