The Hope of Moore, OK

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I am not one that boasts about the things that I do nor am I boasting now but I would like to share with you my experience of being in the mist of the devastation and tragedy of a place called Moore, OK.

Moore is a town of roughly 50,000 people. I do not know what the place looked like prior to May 20, 2013 but I know what it looked like a month later on the one month anniversary,June 20th.

I went with a team of 7 from my church. An amazing group of people. The time that we worked together was, in my opinion, not long enough. I did not want to leave but family and other responsibilities was calling each one of us back to our homes. I don’t think that I am speaking out of turn when I say that each one of us left a little piece of our hearts in Moore, OK.

One experience in particular was working for a home owner named Moreen. She was a beautiful African women who carried a British accent with such class and grace. I could listen to her talk for hours. We helped clear her property and clean out her possessions from within her home in preparation for demolition. Her house from the outside seemed to be salvageable but what was unseen was that the foundation had been compromised and her home was on a list to be taken down and discarded. She would not rebuild and was not sure if she was going to stay in that area. She was not bitter. In contrast her smile was contagious and the joy that she permeated from herself made you want to be around her. Through out the course of the day when she was among our group she said two of my favorite words, “But God!” “But God” she said, “He has a plan in all this.” Oh, what two beautiful words…But God… Our time with her was coming to an end and as we said our goodbyes and walking to our van she hollered these words, “Please do not forget me in your prayers.” This grips me to the core because I have not been diligent in my prayers for her. I go on with my own life tending to my own family. It is so easy for us to leave someone who has been affected by a devastating blow and quickly forget them days later.

Another day that we were there we drove around one of the neighborhoods that did not have one house left standing. We saw a lady going through some rubble where her brother-in-law’s house use to stand. We told her that we couldn’t do much but we had rakes and shovels and able bodies that where willing to help. She explained that her brother-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and that the cancer has spread to other parts of his body. The family was unable to pay someone to bull doze the pile of debri that use to be there home and move it to the curb in order for the city to pick it. She has been doing this labor intense work herself with some help from other ministries and neighbors. We were more than eager to jump right in and help. So we began with shovel in hand little by little putting what once use to be someone’s home to the curb for removal. In this process the sister showed us a video that the news did on her family and in that video there was a small child shoveling what use to be there home. I asked her who the small child was and her response gripped my heart! This young girl 8 or 9 years old came with her mother from Shawnee, OK. They too were hit by this devastating tornado. When asked why they came to more there response was “Shawnee is O.K. but Moore needed our help.” Can you believe that? A young girl leaving what she knew because there were people that was worse off then she was. Tears just fill my eyes when I think about that.

I observed multiple houses that declared “God is still good!”, “Jesus loves you”, “The tornado took our home but can’t take our heart.” These were sprayed painted on the houses that may have a wall left or half a roof. This is the cry of Moore, OK. These are the people that live here.

The memorial for the 7 young souls that lost there lives at the elementary school will be a sight that will forever be burned in my mind. A line of volunteers t-shirts have made a wall on the fence guarding the 7 precious cross’s that bare the name of each child. To be there…to be there…as tears fill my eyes I can’t fully explain what it is like to be there. It is an overwhelming feeling that captures the inner most part of your heart. Each cross has a plack and engraved is each child’s name. I cannot tell you how many times I read there precious little names and thought of my own children. Anguish for the reality of the terror that these children and the one’s that survived must have faced. That day many parents dropped there children off at school never to see them again. No more bedtime stories, or goodnight kisses, no more little faces staring at you in the morning waiting for you to open your eyes and wake up, no more play dates, and mommy dates, no more hugs and little whispers that say, “I love you mommy.”

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Moore, OK…Many lives there will never be the same…BUT GOD…is your strength, your comfort, your very present help in time of need. There is no other. God is the HOPE of Moore. The HOPE that they will rebuild, they will be restored, they will heal and that life does move forward. Jesus Christ is the HOPE of Moore and it is evident with the writing on the wall of many of the homes. Another one being “Jesus Saves”. I cannot think of a better way to end that with these words, “Jesus Saves, He is the HOPE of Moore, OK.”

You have one life. Do something.

To Lisa whose driving quickly enhanced my prayer life. Your heart to “help people” is amazing and I am so blessed to be able to call you my friend. To Genie whose gentle quiet spirit and love for things pure is to be admired. You and I are truly kindred spirits. To Tony who most of the time was quiet but when you spoke everyone listened. I enjoyed working with you my friend. To Jim who made me constantly laugh. To Carl whose child like faith is inspiring. May the Lord bless you with all wisdom as you continue to seek Him. Your faith is contagious. To Gordy who joined us while we were there. You quickly became one of us and it was a pleasure getting to know you. And last but certainly not least my precious daughter, Jamie. I am so very proud of you. Your heart to serve will take you many places as you seek your Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Always follow after Him.

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This Day…

 Have you ever dreaded a date on the calendar? I mean when you look at the calendar on your desk and that particular day just seems to glare at you, mock you, and laugh at the hour of its arrival. It is almost as if an audible voice taunts “you cannot escape my coming!” Oh, how pathetic I may seem to even openly confess this. I have to believe that I am not the only woman that has felt this way! There must be other’s…there has too. If not than I am left to ponder exactly how alone I am in this.

My dreaded day this year is my birthday. May 20th. I have never felt like this in my whole entire life but something is seemingly different about this year. I have not accomplished all that I thought I would at my age. I find myself feeling as if I have to put one part of my life on hold in order to play catch up with the other half. I even heard someone say that the new middle age was 25. 25! That must put me in the category of…well, old! Can anyone relate?

I even lied about my birthday. I spoke of my new job in another post and part of my “side duties” is to keep up with everyone’s birthday. I post a little flyer by the sign out board we have and try to make it colorful and fun. Everyone really likes it because on the bottom of the flyer it always reads “Celebration will take place on the 3rd Wednesday of the month with donuts!” So, naturally one of the employees inquired about the empty wall where I post the flyer. He left in disbelief that there was no birthday’s this month. I went along confirming that there was no birthday’s this month. It was very disappointing because birthdays mean donuts! Silly I know.

I love how God talks to us in the midst of our silliness. If I continue to look behind me and focus on what I have not done then I miss what He has for me in the future. If I focus on the things that I “wish I had done” I don’t notice the things that God has done for me now, in the present. I quickly realized that I was allowing what I thought I should have accomplished to define me. I was measuring myself and my worth by worldly standards.  My accomplishments or success do not define me and the same goes for my mess ups and failures. I shook my head in disbelief that I allowed these asinine thoughts to invade my mind. I did not pay attention to what I was thinking and they slipped right on in. I didn’t take hold of my feelings when I first felt them and how quickly they led me to places in my mind that I did not want to go.

At the end of my life the only thing that really matters is who I allow to define me and that is Jesus Christ. I want my every being to resemble Him. At the end of my life it doesn’t matter the material wealth or possessions that I have acquired or what kind of title I carry in front of my name. At the end of my life I want only this to be said of me…

My Wife…

My Mother…

My Daughter…

My Sister…

My Friend…

She followed Jesus with all of her heart.

My friends, at the end of the day that is all that matters.

Lord, Thank You for every year you allow me to celebrate the day of my birth. I will celebrate each day because it is a gift from You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

Not for one moment…

Sword_and_Shield_original_by_angelfire7508I don’t think that I have seen the sun in days. If  it has been sunny I haven’t noticed. All I see is a grey sky. I walk outside and take a deep breath the cold February air fills my lungs. I exhale slowly. Today will be full of many battles. Most of them are in my own mind. Most battles aren’t won over night. They take time, strategy and a commitment. Even when those things are in place there is something needed that is even more important. Let me rephrase that, there is someone that is needed.

Today is going to be grueling. I am so in tune to this particular battle because I seem to fight it so often. The enemy knows when I am wearing down. I am usually aware of his coming. I can hear him approaching. Most days when I hear him approaching I turn and run away; not today. Something inside me is telling me to holdfast and stand my ground. He is within range now I can see him waving his banner. Loneliness has waged war and he is not alone. Today he brought Rejection with him. I want to run but for some reason I cannot move. I am frozen in fear. I feel the wait of the two as they approach. It is almost more than I can bear. They mock and ridicule me. It is too much and I fall to my knees. My struggle is great and I cry out to my God. They laugh and they scorn, “Where is your God?”

“I am right here!” His voice was like thunder! Loneliness and Rejection trembled with fear. They knew they were finished.  They were quickly taken away by the power of His glory. With a gentle hand He lifted me up and wiped my tears. “I am always here for you.” He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you. The battle is not yours but it is Mine.” He then wrapped His arms around me and filled my heart with His love. It was in that moment that I realized that throughout my whole entire life He has always been with me. He never left me…not for one moment.

Father God, I come to you in the name of my Savior Jesus Christ. I praise You for who You are. No matter who rejects me, mocks me, ridicules or spreads lies about me You hold me close. You speak Your truth to me. You vindicate me. You rescue me out of all my troubles. It is for Your name sake that You would think of me. It is Your loving kindness that You brought me out of a dark place. It is because of Your heart that You would send Your Son to die for the whole world so that each one of us could have a relationship with You because of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. It Is so the whole world may know that You are God. The One and only! Amen.

How precious is the gift?

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours” 2 Peter 1:1-2 (NIV)

Conversation with God….
I was talking with the Lord one day when I suddenly realized that I do not remember what it was like not to have Him with me. What I mean is the moment you are saved your body becomes the temple of the Holy Spirit. I was saved at the tender age of 6, so, since then I have had the indwelling of the Holy Spirit living on the inside of me.

When I walked away….
Don’t misunderstand me. I know what it is like to walk away from God but HE NEVER LEFT ME! Like I said, I was saved when I was 6 years old. A marvelous day it was and I will never forget it. Unfortunately, as I grew up, the experiences of life and the pain it brought started to lure me away from my love of God. I questioned the character of God. I started to question if there even was a God. When I turned my back from the Truth of who God was and what His Word said I opened the door for more pain than I could ever imagine. I walked into a lifestyle that I thought would help stop the pain but it did just the opposite.

The Holy Spirit was with me….
The Holy Spirit was there every step I took; urging me to turn back to God. “Urging” is too light a word. The pain of my sin before me was so great but instead of repenting I tried to mask that pain as well. Hide it! As if anyone can hide from God. It was an ugly, vicious cycle I found myself in.

Those who bear witness….
When I would be dragged to church (yes, I mean literally dragged) the hand of the Lord was so heavy upon me that I wanted to run. I felt discomfort like I had never felt before. So, what did I do? I would like to say at this point I turned from my sin but I didn’t. I did the what a lot of us do. I avoided church.
Whenever I was around Christians who lived a godly life there was the hand upon me….pressing. I wish I could tell you that I learned from their example and repented. I didn’t. I determined in my own heart that I hated Christians.
I do want to make this one thing known. At this point in my life I had many people around me who called themselves Christians. These Christians lived the same as I did and I never felt the Holy Spirit convicting me of my sin when I was around them.

Repentance equals Freedom….
Fifteen years I played this cat and mouse game with God until I could play no longer. I was tired and there was no more fight in me. I collapse on my face before my Savior and poured all the garbage before Him. All those years I was searching for freedom from all the years of pain and I found it in those few precious moments. God is so patient with us. He was so patient with me. The very thing I was running from should have been the thing I was running to. I was free.

Our faith is precious….
That decision I made so long ago was the best decision I will ever make in my lifetime. Although, at the time I did not know it. I did not value my salvation, my relationship with Christ as something to be valued; precious!
As the realization fully came to me I was in awe. I have never NOT had Jesus with me. The Holy Spirit constantly convicting me of my sin because He knew God’s plan for me and it was so much better than the way I was living.
Oh, precious ones, how I have to rejoice and praise the Lord for the gift of my salvation. It is so very precious!

Digging Deeper….
There is a spiritual lesson to learn here.
Why do you think it was so easy for me to walk away from God?
Dig into the Scripture and see what it says about “falling away”. Hint: Look up Hebrews 3:12-13. See what the Scriptures say about “soil” in Mark 4.

Application….
Do you see yourself in any of these passages of Scripture? How about when you read about the soil? Are there any changes that you need to make in your life? Any sin to confess? Maybe, beloved, it is you that have turned from God and desperately want to be whole again. Turn my friend. Don’t wait as I have done. I wasted so many years. Jesus has His arms wide open waiting for You. He can wash you clean. Run to Jesus. His gift of salvation is precious.