Old Acquaintances

Yesterday I had an amazing experience. I heard the Lord speaking through an old friend. His name is Brian Mashburn and we were undergraduate students at Harding at the same time. We both started school in the fall of 86 and pledged brother/sister social clubs together. Although he wasn’t in my immediate small circle of friends, he was in the next wider circle of acquaintances.

Brian was a very energetic, life-filled person. He seemed to love being in the spotlight and having the attention of the people around him. He was a nice guy — not conceited — but really enjoyed the limelight. He swallowed live goldfish on the campus tv show. He ran for SA president with the idea that people should vote for him because his last name — Mashburn — was a combination of the title of the coolest tv show ever (M*A*S*H) and an 80’s term that meant “really cool.” Funny guy.

Brian left Harding and went into youth ministry, a career choice that made perfect sense for his personality. In time, he was asked to speak at youth events on campus. When my girls came up for Uplift, he was often on the speaking rotation. My memories of Brian convinced me that he was probably very funny and I assumed he had a good message, but I kept thinking, “Brian the goldfish swallower?”

Yesterday he spoke in chapel. He spoke about the need for being genuine. He spoke of his own personal journey from a mental assent to a no-holds-barred relationship with Jesus. He spoke of betrayal and reconciliation. He spoke of our need for communion with God and others. He spoke of the need for us to share our stories with others. He spoke of reaching people through being Jesus to them rather than teaching them facts.

He was scheduled to speak again at 11:00 and I felt compelled to listen to more. This time, he spoke of our need to change and become humble. He spoke of the only time Jesus described his own heart, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” He spoke of our need for humility and how our personal and corporate ministry would be so different if we saw Jesus when we saw others. How humble would we be if treated children as if they were Jesus? “Whatever you do to the least of these, you do to me.”

Because Brian spoke so personally of his own experience, it was impossible to listen to him and think, “Brother so-and-so really needs to hear this.” All I could think of was myself. How I’ve fallen short. How there’s too much of me left. How much pride I still bring into my daily life. How poorly I treat others and yet how often I tell myself and God I’m doing the best I can.

The truth is, I probably am doing the best I can, but God does not call us to do our own personal best. He asks us to set ourselves aside and do his best. To be his hands, his feet, his voice. Immanuel — God with us — is still here. We are to be Immanuel now; we are to be the physical presence of God in this world. I am to be Immanuel; I am to be the physical presence of God in this world. In my world.

Amazing love, how can it be? That you, my God would die for me!

September 11

Although it’s been on my mind all day, it’s still hard to believe that it’s been five years since the World Trade Center attacks. Growing up, I didn’t understand why people had such vivid memories of where they were when JKF was shot, but on September 11, 2001, I understood.

We lived in Monticello, AR and were still in our homeschooling years. All five of our children were at home with me and we were getting ready to leave the house and go a Bible study that I attended each week. Keith called from work and told me to turn on the tv. I’m not much of a tv person, so I rarely had it on. He said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center and asked me if I could watch a while and call him back and give him more details.

I watched the only channel we got with our antenna and stood there, shocked. They were discussing “the crash,” hoping there would be survivors and then the 2nd plane flew into the other tower. I thought it was a replay, but then saw that it was another plane hitting the 2nd tower. I think my worldview changed in the moment I realized this was not an accident. It was deliberate. Planned.

I finally gathered everyone up and we left for Bible study. By the time we arrived at the church building, the third plane had hit the Pentagon. Our Bible study schedule was abandoned and we spent the time in prayer. There were about 25 women from many denominations and we prayed and cried together as we thought about other mothers and children dealing very directly with our nation’s loss.

My friend Denise wept as she prayed for Ishmael’s sons. My friend Ronda prayed those in the military, one of whom was her husband. I prayed for the President, thanking God that we had a president who trusted the Lord.

Later I called everyone in my family. I don’t know why. I just had to hear their voices.

I was glued to the tv for two days but finally had to turn it off. I was overwhelmed by the tragedy. I thought of families in Israel who for years have been unable to go to the grocery store without risking death.

Father forgive us when we use faith as a weapon, whether it’s airplanes exploding into towers or bombs exploding in abortion clinics. Forgive us.

Alicia has left us.

Friday, September 8 was Alicia Adams’ last day to work in the Brackett Library. She is leaving to join a mission team in Bremen, Germany for at least two years.

Alicia is a remarkable young woman. She’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve met and her heart for the Lord is obvious. In the library she supervised the student workers and she loved each of them as if they were her own younger brother or sister. She paid close attention to detail (always necessary in a library) and was able to find a way through sticky problems at times. I never saw her lose her cool with a student or patron in the eight months I worked with her.

We laughed together and cried together. In time we learned that she lost her brother the same year I lost my beloved Grandmother. We talked about grief and how we realized that the American culture doesn’t really allow people to grieve deeply. We learned that we love a lot of the same movies, books, and that we both love words and grammar! We took it upon ourselves to get more reader-friendly linguistic books in the library collection, and I think we did a decent job of it.

You can keep up with Alicia’s journey to Germany through her blog:

Thank you, God for Alicia Adams! Keep her safe while she is away and bring her back to us someday.

One of THOSE days

Yesterday was one of those days. I had an assignment due that I could not get my brain wrapped around, a meeting in the morning,my kids had activites from after school until 8:30 that night, and my other grad class met from 5:30 until 8:00. This is an online class and I kept losing internet connection so I was constantly getting kicked out. I was able to get the gist of the lecture and discussion, but it was a very frustrating experience.

On the way home, I prayed a lot. Prayers that God would help me manage my time better. Prayers that I could somehow wade through all this busyness and still manage to be a good mom. Prayers that my children would not wind up in therapy due to their perpetually absent mom. Prayers that I wouldn’t cry while I was driving and have a wreck.

Then, I got home and found out that I’d left Noelle on campus! Poor baby was supposed to meet me in the library after a soccer ref’s meeting and ride home with me. I forgot her! Left my own flesh and blood stranded! What kind of mom am I?

Thankfully, like all days, yesterday ended. When I finally got into bed, I could still hear the Lord singing me to sleep. I woke up this morning and my children still loved me and, like all days, God’s grace and mercy were waiting for me again. I’ve sung these words thousands of times, but they mean more and more to me as I get older: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore, I will hope in Him.'”

Father God, help me to love the way you love and help me to abide in your mercy and love each day. Even on THOSE days.

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