Friday, January 7, 2011

Word of the Year-2011

Even as I was frantically doing my last post on joy, I knew where I was headed for 2011. I want to go DEEP. I had been thinking on it for several weeks, planned some books to read and felt compelled to move forward. Why DEEP? To me, it implies growth. It is my prayer that all the Turners have measureable growth this year. As a family, we will focus on the spiritual disciplines as a tool for growth. Growth that makes Him more recognizable. I pray we will go DEEP enough to go where we've never been.

DEEP enough not to shrink back or drift away.
DEEP into the light of Jesus.
DEEP enough for a spritual growth spurt.
DEEP enough to be broken.
DEEP into the Refiner's fire.
DEEP enough not to be the same.

You are welcome to come along. Let's Go Deep!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Speaking of Being in the Middle of a Miracle

As promised months ago, here is my post about Holland. She was indeed a gift that God scattered in our path. The story surrounding her coming into our family was one we could not miss. Her story is also one that was played out as a miracle. Like the story about church, I was in the middle of a miracle and did not know it. Go back twelve years with me. It was spring of 1998. Nelson and I were pregnant and were delighted to be adding a second child to our family. That joy was short lived, as the Lord took that baby home with Him very early in the pregnacy. The pain of a miscarriage is one that is hard to describe. In short, it was gut wrenching. We managed to get through it with the support of friends, family and the Lord. Christmas of 1998 was hard, as there was a constant reminder that someone was missing. We made it through it and moved into 1999 hoping for a better year. Almost twelve months to the date, I returned to work and to a phone message from a college friend. She had tried to call our home several times over Christmas break and I did not answer. I only did what I had to do that Christmas, as the grief was so fresh. I returned Sandy's phone call, to hear of a baby girl being born in February. Her birth family was looking for a forever home for her. Sandy had remembered that I had spoken of adoption in college. During that conversation, Sandy gave me the email address of Holland's maternal birth grandmother, Gayle. I immediately called Nelson and asked him if he wanted a baby girl in six or seven weeks! He reminded me that he thought the process was roughly nine months! After further explanation, we decided to proceed. I then emailed Gayle. We soon talked and two weeks later she was here to meet Nelson, Tyler and me. We met her for lunch, along with her friend Alma. We got a pictorial and oral glimpse into the life of Holland's birth mother, Errica. She was a very beautiful girl/young lady. Holland now reflects that same beauty.

I have to interject and tell you how Sandy knew Gayle. Sandy sold Mary Kay. Sandy recruited Alma. Alma recruited Gayle. Sandy called to welcome Gayle to her downline. In that conversation, they discussed this precious baby girl. Sandy remembered my desire, shared it with Gayle and the next step of the miracle was taken.

Allow me to interject one more time and tell you about a concert Nelson and I went to when Tyler was a baby. The artist was Michael English. During the intermission of that concert, someone named Nancy Alcorn spoke of a ministry that she had started. The purpose of the ministry was to support young woman through many issues, including pregnancy. Given the ministry was also an adoption agency, I picked up a packet. Fast forward six years later and after that lunch with Alma and Gayle, I was able to go home, pull out the packet and start the paper work. Yes, you guessed it. Holland's birth mother, Errica, was participating in the program at Mercy Ministries.

After that, things moved very quickly. There was lots of paper work, medical reports, reference letters and of course the most important thing-shopping! About a month later, I received an added gift in this miraculous story. Errica gifted me with the privilege to be in the room for Holland's birth. That was an amazing experience! It was that same day, we met Holland's birthfather, Carlos. I will never forget the tears of love he shed that day. What am I saying?! We all shed tears!

There are many more facets to that amazing story. There are two that stand. We learned from Carlos' mother that Carlos rubbed his fingers together when drinking a bottle, the same way she witnessed Holland doing when she met her. Holland and Errica both love Food Network. Ironically, while I am typing this Holland is filming a segment of Food Network Challenge with her new camera. The "challenge" was trying to get her mom to eat healthy. I heard her tell the camera, she knew I would pick the chocolate when we offered me the choice between an orange and chocolate. Yep, I picked the chocolate! I did use the excuse of not wanting to get orange all over my computer! She told her audience, she knew I would make up an excuse to choose the chocolate. :)

So take a college conversation, a concert, a miscarriage and a precious baby girl and you have the makings of a miracle. Had you told me I was in the middle of a miracle when I was grieving, I would have said no way. This story reminds me of a line from a devotional that I read recently. The author said, "His ways are beyond knowing." A lesson for all of us is that we can rest in the fact that His ways are good. Remember, you might be in the middle of a miracle. Be on the lookout for one.

Being Holland's mother has taught me so much. One of the first things that come to mind is controlling my envy! She is so creative and can do things that I can only dream of doing. She is amazing with pottery. She has already sewn two quilts. I don't even know how to turn on a sewing machine! Her drawings are amazing. She knows how to crochet. Does the chain stitch I can do count? She does an amazing job with food presentation. Stayed tuned for her new blog. Those of you that know her middle names will really appreciate the name of the blog. I could continue to list her creative talents, though I have to stop to keep the envy to a minimum.

The thing she has taught me spiritually also makes me envious. Do you detect an area of prayer focus for me?! Contemplation comes naturally for her. I will forever be needing to grow in this area. There is a quietness to her that makes her walk with the Lord special. Last month, I was introducing Trent to the concept of writing a friendly letter and reviewed it with Holland. They both wrote to Santa and Jesus. In Holland's letter to Jesus, she told Him how much she was thinking about Him leading up to Christmas. Her quietness and stillness before the Lord is sweet. Her little brother mentioned to Jesus that he had put some money in the offering. He was hoping that would help with the gifts he got to celebrate Jesus' birthday. Oh my! We've got a bit of work to do there!

My miracle girl is everything I could want in a daughter and more. She is also pretty special to her dad. Who else would accompany him to Lowes, go on long bike rides and hold the ladder for him?! I remember one day my parents drove up to see Holland outside with Nelson, pushing the wheelbarrow and her big brother was inside. My mom was appalled. Holland was right where she wanted to be. Tyler was too! More on him next.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Down to the Wire~Frantically!

I guess that should have been joyfully rather than frantically. After all, that is my word of the year. To squeeze in this last post on joy, I need to interrupt the regularly scheduled program, blogging about Holland, to beat the clock. It is my hope to share about Holland and Tyler soon. It is my goal to try to be a better blogger in 2011.

Joy. I picked the word because it has been a hard posture for me to sustain in times of trials. I would love to say I have now fully overcome that. I can't say that, but can say I have thought about situations in light of the joy grid many times this year. Admittedly, most of the time, it was after the fact. Though there is plenty room for more growth, I did learn a lot. The second book I read, many months ago, helped immensely. I read The Myth of Happiness, by Rich Wagner. Fortunately, I noted several things I wanted to share with you, knowing that I could not rely on this over forty brain.

He nailed me early on, stating that many of us are "paced for happiness, not joy." He goes on to say that we are preoccupied with immediacy. Ouch, the truth hurts. The good news for me/us is that we do not have to stay there. We can experience joy, in its transformative sense. The Lord is all about transforming us. The foot of the cross is a great place for this work to begin. On our way to the base of the cross, we need to remove all the garb that helps us confuse happiness for joy. The Lord is also all about stripping us of the things that distract us from Him. Wagner says, "joy emerges from Scripture as one of the primary ways in which God chooses to reveal Himself, to express His amazing love to mankind, and to equip us for living in a fallen world." He points out that joy, in its various forms is mentioned over 350 throughout scripture. This quote, he uses, from Oswald Chambers emphasizes this. Chambers says that "joy is the great note all through the Bible." Wagner lists six dimensions of biblical joy: a permanent presence, a choice, unlimited, our spiritual lifeblood, experienced with other believers and rooted in eternity. If I try and unpack those, I will miss my midnight deadline! Actually, I encourage you to read the book to see what the Lord might have you learn from those points. However, I do want to share another lesson I learned. It was a hard lesson. Most of them are. Though the story is personal, the points can be drawn from the book. Allow me to share both parts. Wagner lists some attitudes that believers need to guard against, as they are joy busters. Try these on for size: discouragement, fear, grumbling, guilt, and unforgiveness. Ouch again! He says these have the obstructive power to block the joy from flowing through the life of the believer. I think he is on to something, as I not only tried most of them on, but wore them for awhile. I acquired the new wardrobe about two years ago. It happened when our pastor resigned. The discouragement was immediate. I lost a pastor, a co-worker and a friend and it hurt. For months, I walked around in the heavy boots of discouragement. Eventually, my jeans did not have a denim feel, but a texture of fear. I feared that the Lord's hand was not on my church. I feared more good-byes. They were inevitable, but I still feared them. Good-byes hurt. After awhile, my sweatshirt no longer had a Carolina logo, but one that said, "grumbler approaching-beware". I grumbled when more people left. I grumbled when it seemed to be taking forever to find another pastor. I grumbled when we did the necessary work of preparing for a new pastor. I soon added a scarf a green shade of guilt. I felt guilty for feeling discouraged. I felt guilty for grumbling. Of course, feeling guilty made me feel more guilty. For the record, I do not wear hats, but soon tossed on one lined with unforgiveness. It seemed that daily I was finding someone I did not want to forgive. My former pastor, my church, people that left, people that stayed...that hat most have been made of wool because it was very uncomfortable.

Somewhere along the path of my "what not to wear" season, a dear friend/co-worker felt compelled to share how she had a peace about waiting. I wanted to feel that way, but I was holding tight to my uncomfortable clothes. Soon I found myself saying what she said. It was not because I was there, but wanted to be. In the midst of needing to shop/pray for a new outfit, the Lord gave my church a very clear message from a brother from Africa. Kyama was visiting us and when he comes to town, he is asked to preach. He began his sermon by saying that when he asked God what He wanted him to tell CHBC, he said God gave him a vision. He saw a picture of very full coffee bushes, like the ones his grandmother used to grow. What he did not know was that God had given my friend previously mentioned, a vision of a peach tree being pruned several months prior. The Lord indeed had plans for us. I slipped off my boots of discouragement during that service. As I wiggled my toes, I thanked God for His faithfulness. Though my feet became lighter, my clothes were still not fitting right. I would leave a meeting with a pastoral applicant and felt like stopping by the mall for new jeans and a new sweatshirt. The old clothes were growing increasingly uncomfortable, but I stayed in them. Last October, a great month for new jeans and a sweatshirt, I met with a new pastoral applicant and his wife. It seemed so evident that this was who the Lord had planned for us. A new outfit was in order! For some reason, I keep the scarf. In November, I was able to toss the scarf. Our church celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was a time of healing, as our two former pastors spoke and extended blessings to the church. The following morning, another brother from Africa spoke to culminate our celebration. Oscar, like Kyamba, had a very specific word for us. The Lord instructed Oscar to emphasize that during our season with no lead pastor, dwindling numbers, periods of doubt, etc. we were in the middle of a miracle and perhaps we had not recognized it. He reminded us of how God's hand had been on CHBC for 40 years and He was not done with us. He encouraged us to stand firm in those promises and charged us to move ahead resting in that assurance. That same week-end, a formal announcement was made that our search team had put forth a candidate for lead pastor. I left that itchy scarf at church that day. I would love to say I have tossed that awful hat. I find myself wearing it when I struggle with unforgiveness. I sense the Lord unraveling it. Pray with me to that end.

What does all that have to do with joy you might ask? For me, it was a strong reminder that God is always in control, always out for my good and is constantly orchestrating miracles in my life. Joyful, joyful, I adore Him! I need not adorn the joy busters! What about you? Are you wearing some of them and need get a new wardrobe. I hear there is an amazing sale on new clothes at the foot of the cross. The price can't be beat. FREE! Hurry your perfect size awaits.

I'll end with one last quote from Wagner. "Jesus did everything in the spirit of joy. The primary distinguisher of Jesus Christ while on earth was His joy."

Let's try and be more like our Big Brother in 2011.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Nature Reflections

Given that we are just days away from spring, I decided I had better hurry and share some thoughts I had on a day that it snowed in January. For us North Carolinians, we had a big snow! A few inches, but it's all relative! One of my favorite things about that day was watching the birds right outside my kitchen window. I like snow from inside the house. :) I sat at the kitchen table and just took in the wonder of birds. While I sat and watched, I asked Nelson to snap a picture of Mr. Cardinal. He or his twin keep coming to the feeder that we have attached to our deck railing. I then asked Nelson to scatter some extra bird seeds on the railing and the ground near the deck. Of course he did. It comes on handy that his love language is acts of service. I watched with renewed vigor, as more birds came. I was struck by the way they were drawn to the "gift" that Nelson had scattered for them. That's when I had my AH HA moment. I wondered how many times the Father scatters gifts in my path and I am too busy to stop and notice. You know, He is like that. He is the giver of good and perfect gifts. I just need to be still, listen and enjoy Him. He loves you and me so much. Join me on the search for all that God has to offer. Eleven years ago He scattered an amazing gift in my path. I will tell you all about her tomorrow.
Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Joy Journey Book

I have started my first book on my Joy Journey and I want to share some thoughts with you. Immediately, in the forward, I was challenged to recognize the difference between fleeting happiness (outward) and real joy (inward). The assurance that the enduring work of the Holy Spirit was sent, in part, to give us His joy is evident.

I loved these lines from the introduction, " one's temperament is irrelevant when it comes to joy."

Join me on the journey of "not what people call happiness, but joy. Not health or wealth, but joy. Not an easy ride and fun, but joy." It's the joy that is unspeakable and full of glory!

Let's journey on!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Trent, Our Caboose

My most competitive child was born last and has the last birthday of the year for our family. He longs to be FIRST, the BEST, the WINNER and really wants a little BROTHER, so he's not the youngest. I can't help him with the latter request, but I can blog about him first! Where do I begin? Let's start with the morning. He gets up quickly and is ready to start his day. He knows what to expect because that is the last thing he asks before he goes to sleep. He likes to follow a calendar and he already makes lists. He loves to get his school work done quickly and if I am not quick enough, he will check his work! Just yesterday, while doing math, I asked him to rewrite the number two. When he did, I said, "That's better." He said, "Mom, I thought you would say outstanding!" What's a mom to do?! She lays him at the foot of the cross and ask God to grant him a heart that puts Him FIRST, that he would give his BEST to Jesus, that he would help WIN souls for Christ and that he would be instrumental in bringing lots of LITTLE BROTHERS to Christ.

Mothering Trent has taught me so much. I've learned lots about trusting, grace and forgiveness. Trent is our question asker, so that keeps me seeking the face of God, as I only teach about God from my overflow.

Now you've met my third gift, join me in praying for him.

My Three Gifts

This is what the Sovereign Lord chose to give me as gifts. I am forever grateful for them. Over the next week or so, I 'll introduce you to each of them.