Friday, March 18, 2011

Feels Like Home...

It's amazing how when you really began to search for meaning in life, God just shows up. He makes HIS presence known...whether it's in a book you're reading or a TV show you might be watching...somehow HE just shows up. For me, it was in a song. Obviously since I'd lost sight of who I was, my music choices weren't the godliest to say the least, but as I listened to the soundtrack of one of my favorite shows at the time, HE spoke. I knew without a doubt it was HIM letting me know I was going in the right direction. I'll share the words from that song at the end of this blog and while it was written as a secular love song...they were exactly what I felt as I traveled back the arms of JESUS.

When I first stepped out of my car at the church, I was met by a beautiful, tall, dark haired lady...her name was Drema, she was the pastor's wife and she'd been waiting for me. All I could think as she introduced herself was how much she reminded me of my Sunday School teacher as a child. We chatted as we walked into the church. She led me down a set of stairs to a room full of 20 somethings, explaining that the teacher was out of town but one of the young men had stepped up to teach while he was gone. The door opened and there were two other couples in the class that morning and two brothers, one of which was about to teach the class. No one was overly friendly, but they were accommodating and nice.

"Hi, I'm Earl. This is Brother Ed's class and he's a great teacher so I really hope you'll come back and hear him." I didn't matter what type of teacher he was as long as I could meet God here I knew I'd be happy.

After Sunday School, we went upstairs to the Sanctuary for service. That's when I met Pastor Hobbs. My mind instantly began to think of my Pastor I'd grown up under. He looked so much like him. The service began and I felt comfortable for the first time in a long time. The church had about 100 people in the service, which was still larger than what I was used to, but much better than the one's I'd visited with 1,000. As I left that day, I told Pastor and Drema I'd enjoyed the day and assured them I'd visit again.

As I drove back to my apartment that day, I kept thinking of how much I was reminded of home...not my current living place...but home...Southwestern Virginia...the small town I'd so desired to leave, yet so longed for at that moment in my life. And that's when the words of that song echoed in my mind and I decided, Wooddale feels like home.

Feels Like Home...Chantal Kreviazuk

There's something in your eyes
Makes me wanna lose my self,
Makes me wanna lose myself,
in your arms,
There's something in your voice
makes my heart beat fast
Hope this feeling lasts
the rest of my life

If you knew how lonely
my life has been
And how long I've been
so alone
And if you knew,
how I wanted someone to come along
And change my life
the way you've done

It feels like home to me
It feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back
where I come from

It feels like home to me
It feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back
where I belong

A window breaks
down on a long, dark street
And a siren wails in the night
But I'm all right
cause I have you here with me,
And I can almost see
through the dark there is light

Well if you knew how much
this moment means to me
And how long I've waited
for your touch
And if you knew how happy
you are making me
I never thought
that I'd love anyone so much

It feels like home to me
It feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back
where I come from

It feels like home to me
It feels like home to me
It feels like I'm all the way back
where I belong

It feels like I'm all the way back
where I belong.

"Feels Like Home" Video

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Beginning...

As I've been pondering what is happening in our world lately, I started to feel defeated. If only I had more money, more time, more resources to help those hurting in Japan and then I remembered, I have the best gift of all...prayer. My prayers can change their reality. My prayers can heal their broken hearts. My prayers can protect them from any more devastation. My prayers can provide them food, water and shelter. My prayers really can do all of that...but not because they are MY prayers, but because of WHO hears them.

The story I'm about to share on this blog is just that; a story of prayer and it did all of the above for me.  Although the characters and their actions may not always seem to make thing was was always constant...HE heard my prayers. HE did what I asked, not in my time or in the way I thought HE should have, but in HIS time and in HIS way. I hope if you are reading this, you will consider what HE wants to do for you as well.

In the summer of 1999, I was a junior in college. At the age of 13 I was saved and baptized, but somewhere along the way, I lost sight of who I was. Although, I'd always been the good girl in high school, college was so different and I felt so small. Leaving behind that small coal mining town nestled in the hills of Southwestern Virginia had always been my dream. When I was 5 years old, I looked at my dad and told him I wanted to go to the University of Tennessee and I never strayed from that. I always believed I was meant for greater things than I could ever achieve in those mountains...I was the big city girl trapped in a small town. And now that I've traveled the country, I realize Knoxville isn't the BIG CITY I thought it to be upon my arrival, but at that time, having never been farther than 2 hours from home, it was.

As I entered college I tried going to church a few times, but I never found a place to plug into. All the churches were so big compared to my small country church of 40, so I gave up. I allowed the world around me to shape and mold me into who I thought it wanted me to be, but it felt so empty. As a teenager, I remember thinking I justed wanted to go somewhere where no one cared who I was or what I was doing...that's life in small town...everyone knows you...knows your family...knows what you're doing before you've even done it sometimes. But after 4 years of that (I took the 5 year plan for my education), I realized all I really wanted was for someone to care where I was and what I was doing because really that's all we all want. God created us with an inordinate need be loved and have relationships. So at that point, I began searching for a church again. I knew it was the only hope to overcoming the loneliness that shadowed my soul.

As I began my search, I tried the bigger churches again hoping to find a place I'd fit in, but I just didn't. So I began to pray. I asked God to show me where to go. My dad came down for a visit and suggested we try to find a church in the denomination that I had grown up in, because those churches tended to be smaller in size and I might be more comfortable there to start. So he got out the phone book and proceeded to look them up. As he did that I remember thinking, "Honestly, he's delusional! Free Will Baptist Churches don't exist in big cities. They were only small town, backwooods churches and there were certainly none in a BIG city. " When he told me there were five, to say I was confounded is an understatement. He began calling, but there was no answer at any of them, so he left messages. It was very much a surprise when only one called back. Wooddale Free Will Baptist. Now, I'm quite certain if I were to call all of these churches this very day, as a prospective member, that I'd more than likely receive a call back from ALL of them...but that wasn't GOD's plan. HE knew where HE needed me in order for for HIS plan to come to pass.

As the phone conversation between Pastor Robert Hobbs and my dad took place, there is only one thing I remember about what was said, and at the time the statement seemed ridiculous. Pastor Hobbs' wife, Drema was in the background telling him to tell my dad they had lots of cute, single guys at their church. When dad relayed that message to me, all I remember thinking was, "I don't care about that! I've got to get my life on track with GOD right now! I'm not interested in boys!" They made plans for me to meet Drema just outside the church on my first day and I felt relieved. Finally, maybe this was it...this was the church I could be a part of and figure out exactly who I was supposed to be.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Peanut Butter M&M's

Over the last few years, I've considered writing here and there, but I kept saying to myself, "Who really cares what I have to say?" And then it happened. God said, "Let there be writing!" All joking aside, I really felt a calling to begin writing again. Whether anyone cares what I have to say is irrelevant... because God cares. Every thought I have, every idea that crosses my mind, every part of me He completely loves and embraces.  My whole life I've been told I should write...all through school, in various jobs, but I never really believed it. After hearing God speak it, I decided I should believe it...after all He designed me, He knows better who I am than I do. I guess that means, I have finally come to terms with what He has laid on my heart. I have a story to tell that others need to hear. Without further ado, here is my first attempt at conveying how God has worked and still is working within me.

A couple years ago, I spent some time on a retreat with some of the most beautiful women of God I've ever known. Our speaker for the weekend began her Saturday morning session by doling out Peanut Butter M&M's...but only to a select few, one of which wasn't me. At the end of her lesson, she compared the M&M's to God's blessings in our lives. She pointed out how we often fail to share what God has given us or done for us with the rest of the world. We may share it with those around us, especially those in our church circles, as we should; however, what about those who don't know the power of Christ? Do they ever hear how Jesus made that last dollar turn into $100 when you gave it? Or what about when Jesus sent someone to bring you food without even knowing your fridge was empty? How often are we sharing today's miracles? They happen you know...miracles...God still performs them.

So the goal of this blog is that and more, I'm going to share my miracles. I'm going to put them into words for the world to see...words that will prayerfully change who you are and challenge the beliefs you do or don't have about my Jesus. You see, He is real and I've experienced Him as Lord of my life in a magnificent way...a way, or rather THE WAY...that will transform you. So would you like some Peanut Butter M&M's?