This will be a long read, but there were a few posts, 5 in fact, that I couldn’t let go into the archives never to be seen again. Enjoy some favorite posts from the last few years of Coffee tea and Thee. 

Blue Jeans and Ponytail

I told this story recently. I had not thought about it in a really long time. When asked about my faith journey, all of a sudden the memories came flooding back…

When I became a Christian my junior year in college I was briefly mentored through the first months as a Christian newbie. Looking back, I knew nothing really; only that my heart had been changed by believing Jesus died on the cross for my sins. A friend told me that the word believe in the Greek meant to receive personally, and in a tiny dorm room late at night, I got personal with Jesus and confessed I was lost and hurting and opened my heart to receive my Savior.

What took root in me was belief. I believed, but I didn’t know how to grow. After college and  wildly in love with my new husband and my new city (Our City), I became immersed in growing a marriage and a family and enticed by everything the world set before me. I wouldn’t quite call it keeping up with the Jones’ as much as keeping with ‘me’. I had some pretty steep dreams and felt continual disappointment by my failure to reach them. I call these my back burner years because my faith sat barely summering on the back burner as so many other things boiled out of control.

It took me about five years to grow desperate.

My husband and I had four little stair-step children and by the time the last two were off to kindergarten I found myself, for the first time, able to breathe a little. I was desperate for “me” time. The long list of ideas to satisfy my dreams ranged from golf or cooking classes to a crazy array of entrepreneurial ventures. Interestingly, through all the back burner years and   obvious desperation, my mother repeatedly relayed to me faith stories from a Bible study in which she participated. I listened but the interest stopped there.

One day standing around with kindergarten moms, I was telling the things on my ‘free time’ list. A girl I barely knew asked if I would consider a Bible study. As she talked about it, I thought it sounded familiar, a lot like the one my mother kept telling me about. And it was,  the same one – Bible Study Fellowship. Right then and there something changed in me. I knew I would go, wanted to go; in fact there was nothing that would keep me from going. I tore up the rest of my list and on the second Wednesday in September I walked in BSF and found what I was desperate for.

I’ll never forget the first day. I didn’t know a soul, everyone was so nice and also more dressed up than I was. These were the days of skirts and sweater sets. From the minute I walked in my heart was pounding – not from nervousness or being under dressed, but from the Holy Spirit’s confirmation in me that I was exactly where I was  supposed to be. Each week I snuck in, sat on the back row in blue jeans, with my hair in a pony tail. I didn’t care if anyone else saw me; I knew God saw me. I found what I’d been desperate for – a relationship with Jesus.

Wednesday’s became my favorite day of the week. I came home and at the dinner table re-taught what I had learned. My husband said Wednesday’s were his favorite day of the week because I was so happy. The Bible came alive to me. I was completely floored that Jesus was alive. I could prove it – He was alive in me! Every single week there was another truth that I had never heard or thought of. Girls in my small group talked about God planting seeds in their hearts. With me, God was not planting a nice little garden; He was planting a farm, plowing up hard ground and planting row crops!

One of my strongest memories is how I revered the lecturer. In December, after listening for four months to her weekly talks, I wanted to simply thank her. I tried to make it from the back row down the aisle but halfway there I started crying, just rehearsing  the words I wanted to say. I left the church with a full heart and unspoken words of gratitude.

To this day two things mean the world to me. Spiritual growth.  I remember what it feels like to be starved and hungry for God and the Holy Spirit’s spark. When I see it – in others, in myself, I still feel the first-time fire.

And then this: it has happened a few times after I have taught God’s Word that someone in the audience will approach me with tears in her eyes. She has no idea what I remember, and I always love her for her bravery.

 

Waiting: 3 pitfalls and 1 remedy

This is the waiting game. It doesn’t matter if we are waiting on medical procedures, for a phone call, for the house to sell, for our workplace to render a decision, or for Mr. Right to walk in the door, a few pitfalls await us all in the wait.

#1. Imaginations gone wild.

We dredge up the absolute worst scenarios and play them out over and over in our minds. The more we imagine, the more we fall into the “what if” pit. What if, at the end of the wait, the news is bad? What if we don’t get, ever, what we are waiting for? What if God’s answer is not just wait, it’s no? That’s the hardest.

#2. Exhaustion.

How can we be so tired, can’t hold our eyes open tired, when all we’ve done is sit? And wait.

#3. Thinking of ways to hurry up the wait.

This is spending loads of time strategizing ways to speed up the wait. Worst of all, implementing the ridiculous strategy we’ve come up with. One of the worst examples of ‘strategy- implementation to relieve waiting’ has to be a memory of a girl in college who, waiting on her very nice boyfriend to drive six hours to visit her, would play a beer drinking game to hurry up the wait. By the time he arrived, she was well on her way to not knowing he was there. I’m sorry to say I remember her well.

THE REMEDY

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14
Of course the answer is in God’s Word; every answer is in God’s Word.

The psalmist says to wait FOR THE LORD. For us, in the wait, to set the Lord in front of us. To develop spiritual eyes to watch for Him. To hear His footfall in our everyday hours. To look, not so much for His answers, but for HIM.

There was a missionary in Africa who had a certain way of using his machete to cut a path through the jungle. When the natives saw his trail, they would remark, “This is the mark of the God-man.”

In our waiting, the psalmist, in this case David, is saying to look for the marks of the God-Man. The Son of God-Man.

Wait for the Lord to show up in His way and in His time. It could be in a person, a conversation, a circumstance, a smile, an encouragement, millions of ways. His markings are endless. But, in our wait, He shows up. He is not leaving us stranded during the wait, He walks the wait with us.

Molly’s Story

This post is by my daughter, Molly. She had a remarkable occurrence during Ben’s first few days in the hospital. It is her story to tell, and I have been waiting for her to tell it so I could share it. From the first time I heard it, Molly’s story never made me uneasy; it was a great comfort to me. I had felt God so very close, closer than ever before, and through her eyes I saw more clearly that Ben continued to be under God’s watchful care.

So much of the week is a blur. But one thing is definitely NOT a blur!

The second night! Houston encouraged me to take mom home to sleep and we were glad he
did. We needed those few hours of sleep because, only a few hours we had! Mom came in and
woke me up to tell me that the hospital had called and dad was starting to wake up. He was
very agitated and they thought she might could help calm him down. She wanted me to sleep
and come to the hospital later. She left and I tried to go back to sleep but I couldn’t. I got out of bed to check the time. 1:45! I knew I needed to go to the hospital. She couldn’t stay with dad from 2-6 by herself. She would be exhausted.

I decided to go and started to get dressed. I’m not sure exactly when the shaking started but I remember when I was getting dressed I was shaking so bad I couldn’t hardly get my pants on. It wasn’t a shiver or a nervous shake. It was something I had never experienced before but I knew that God was trying to speak to me. The human body does not shake for no reason! I knew this wasn’t my brain telling my body it’s too cold so shiver. This was God getting my attention. (Now I know it is called a “shaking of the spirit.”) As soon as I verbally announced that I knew I was suppose to go to the hospital and I was listening for any more direction the shaking came to an immediate stop! And this, I will NEVER forget: It was like the curtains to my natural eye-sight closed and in a split second reopened and I was standing in my dad’s hospital room. I knew I was having a vision.

Standing at the side of his bed, I could see an angel as big as the door and as bright and radiant as the sun standing in the door way looking out into the hall. It was almost blinding to look at it was so bright. Then in a split second a demon poked his head in at the angel and screamed an awful scream at me. Then another and another. Three demons. The angel fought them away. They never got to the threshold of the door. But God made me understand that dad was protected. He was safe and covered in prayer but there was someone on that floor that “had evil upon them” and those demons would be looking for someone else to latch on to and wouldn’t want to look very far. Dad was prayed over and protected but we needed to pray for everyone that came in and out of his room! Then, just as before in a blink of an eye I was back standing in my parents house.

God told me that he had “anointed me with the Spirit of Understanding”. I would understand Him and I would understand dad. He gave me this verse: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly.” I was told not to be proud and prideful about having a vision but use it for Him as He instructs me. Pray for everyone that enters that room!!

And now- for the real goosebumps (not goosebumps but GOD-bumps)-
Later that night when dad was much more awake. He was practically hanging out of his bed to look out his door way. He kept saying “they’re floating.” We laughed when he said it was like floating sheet rock and he thought we were in the sheet rock plant. But, no doubt he was mesmerized! When everyone left and it was just me, dad and Casey. He started watching again, “look out there Casey! It’s so awesome! They’re flying ’round like jets!” Then he turned right at me and I was standing exactly where I was in the vision and he said, “Molly, I KNOW you see it!” I said, “well, I can’t see it right now but I think I know what you are talking about. There was no doubt in my mind! There were angels among us in that room!!

Please pray for Ben

Ben is in an all out fight for his life as I write this. I am sitting by his bedside and it is 4:15 am, July 26. I am desperate for your prayers.

Less than 24 hours ago we were sitting at our house, waiting to go to a dental appointment. Everything was fine. We had to leave at 9:00 to get to the appointment on time. He was sitting on the couch in the den; I was finishing up something on my computer. I went to the chair beside the couch and sat down. I had this odd random thought, ‘why was he sitting here with the tv turned off?’ I grabbed the remote to turn it on and find something interesting for 10 minutes before we had to leave.

I heard a very loud gurgling noise, almost like snoring, in fact for a split second I thought it was snoring. I glanced at Ben, immediately realizing something awful was happening. He was gasping for breath, full sweat. I shook him, tried to get his attention; his eyes were opened and unfocused. After one more failed attempt, I called 911.

This began the minutes of my hyper focus, full meltdown. While I was physically sobbing, I was also in full control. My brain was on pointe. I can remember everything in vivid sequence, even if I cannot remember the amount of time that passed. It was obvious to me that the Holy Spirit had me in His grip. I was talking to the 911 lady, talking to Ben, praying to God, running to the door to meet the ambulance. My one thought was to get in touch with my neighbors, both County Commissioners, both trained as paramedics, both family friends.

I don’t know how much time passed then the medic arrived, followed by the ambulance, followed by Dale Strong, our Commission Chairman. When he walked in the door, a sense of peace came over me.

Dale Strong saved Ben’s life. He asked me to step out of the room and I stood in my garden room praying with my neighbor and listening to what was going on in my den. Ben was in acute cardiac arrest. I knew they were working hard, I knew it was beyond serious, I knew I had to call my children.

I knew God had me. He felt close.

Whatever they were doing was working and Ben was stable enough to get to the hospital, breathing on his own, heart pumping on its own.

The ER team, the heart team, our private room, friends showing up, prayers, doctors in and out, us in and out of the ER room, our minister arriving, friends bringing food, lovely faces, hugs, calls, texts, the warmth of love was surrounding us like a blanket of cotton.

Ben had a hypothermia treatment where they cooled his body in an ice bed to 91.4 or 33 degrees Celsius. Now we are in the crucial 24 hours following. They will slowly warm him up, one half degree every hour.

Pray for his brain, his heart, his lungs.

I keep thinking of our Bishop, Thad Barnum. He anointed Ben on the day we joined Saint Andrews Anglican Church. He prayed over him, calling Ben a mighty man of God, to be used mightily for God.

Pray that our mighty God gives my mighty Ben a long and mighty opportunity.

Peanut Butter BallsThis is the dearest story of God’s call on a young life and how it has come to fruition. This may be my favorite Coffee Tea and Thee post ever, so if you do not have time to read please come back to it. If you do have time to read it through, take a few minutes more at the end for a word of prayer and a word of praise to our God for a ministry such as this. I received permission to tell this story with my most ardent promise that I would give only God, and none other, full Glory. Soli Deo Gloria.

Once upon a time there was an 11 year-old girl named Fran. She lived in our city, in an affluent neighborhood, went to a good school and a large church. At this early age God began to tender her heart toward those who were hungry. She desired to go into the government housing projects to take food to people. And she wanted to teach Bible stories. She shared this desire with her mother who surprisingly agreed to take her. I’m not sure if this was surprising for Fran’s mother, but it certainly would have been for mine. The next Tuesday they loaded up the family car with peanut butter balls, Kool Aid and Bible study materials, and headed to streets unknown. Fran says these were the days when every mother in the south was making peanut butter balls, and every kids had their favorite flavor of Kool Aid. Ah, I remember those days. On their first visit they slowly drove into the projects, stopped the car and got out. It was only when they pulled out the peanut butter balls that a few kids came around to check them out. The next Tuesday afternoon they attracted a few more, and within a month Fran and her mom had over 20 children leaving the tv and their after-school kickball games, to get a peanut butter ball, a cup of Kool Aid and Fran’s Bible lesson. The crowd grew to even higher numbers. You are getting this, right? She was 11.

Fran’s mother continued to drive her, and foot the bill for peanut butter balls and Kool Aid, until she was 16. And on Tuesday afternoons no less! Not on a weekend when it might have been more convenient, but on a Tuesday when she had to rush home and get dinner for five children, get their homework and to bed! Fran says she never grumbled or complained. She was raising her children for His service! A true servant of the Lord. I write this to encourage those of you I watch who are doing the same thing. Keep listening to your kids and serving their need to work for God, and keep doling out the money to underwrite their kingdom work. Bless all of you! Then Fran got a license and a car, took over her ministry and drove herself. In her her own words, she says that she was quite proud of her Bible lessons and abilities to keep a crowd coming!

This continued until she went to college. After college she moved away and it was a long time – like 10 years – before she moved back. Okay, hang with me here… One day she was driving an unfamiliar route in an unfamiliar area. Remember she had been gone quite a while. She needed a few groceries and pulled up to some kind of market in a not-so-good area of town. As she was checking out, a young man, African American, kept looking at her oddly. He asked her, “Aren’t you Miss Fran?” She said yes, he told her who he was, and she remembered him. He had come to her Bible studies years earlier in the projects. If you know Fran, you would know that she whooped and hollered and gave him a big slap on the back. Made him feel loved and happy and welcome and important.

She must have made him feel all of that because he opened up to her in a few short minutes. He said, “Miss Fran, you know all those Saturdays when you came to teach us Bible stories? I didn’t really come for your stories. I came for your peanut butter balls. I would eat one of your peanut butter balls on Tuesday and I would sneak two more and hide them in my pocket. We had very little food. On Wednesday nights we ate at the church. From Wednesday until Sunday when we ate at my grandmother’s, I would ration out my two peanut butter ball and be able to make it until I could get back to you on Tuesday. Miss Fran, you kept me from starving.”

Are you sobbing yet? I can’t tell, write or hear this story without bawling. That very day God grew Manna House. Fran is still feeding people, still whooping and hollering and still making everyone feel loved. She works with churches and businesses and hundreds of volunteers. She asks God to fill the need and then waits to see what will show up. One time someone needed Pepto Bismol for an upset stomach. Reluctantly Fran said Pepto Bismol wasn’t really food. Two days later God sent one lone bottle of Pepto Bismol in the middle of a pallet of food. Fran says things like that happen all the time.

Manna House does more than serve food. Manna House serves love. The concrete floors and few rooms are God’s workspace. It is holy ground.