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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Listening to My Father Today

It is almost 10 pm & this has been a most remarkable day! I thought I should chronicle this before it eludes me!!

I have been walking in the most incredible season of restoration like I could never imagine!!! Last year at this time, people began returning into my life because of facebook.  I found people that I have known since the 4th grade or even kinfolk that I have known since infancy! This to me was God’s beginning to reveal to me what He has in store for me!! Finding people who remember me from a time in my life when I was so much happier, joyful & carefree! I haven’t changed so much, but the baggage I was carrying made my countenance so much more serious & actually pain-filled. Those days are over & that season has ended. It’s a new day for me in every single facet of my life!!

I am sitting in a rehab hospital room with a lady who is recovering from hip surgery. I haven’t met her before, but I have known her my whole life!! Sit back while I tell you what I am talking about. So amazing & unpredictable but absolutely wonderful is my life!

I got up today at the usual time 6:30ish. I rode my bike for a half hour then came home to do some chores. It is lovely weather---felt like somebody left the fridge door open all night. A little crisp, but perfectly lovely outdoors!! I made a menu plan & shopping list to prepare for my ‘1st Sunday Family dinner’ for my children tomorrow. Then I called the family I was sent to babysit for & they live in an adjacent neighborhood only a few minutes away. I was to meetup with them at 10:45. So I go over there & they have a boisterous happy chocolate lab.  I asked the dad if I could take them to the dog agility competition. He says sure! The 2 little girls were adorable & we had a wonderful time watching. My friend LeAnne who is also a ‘restoration friend” had dogs she was working in the competition. Her dog won too! How fun!

Then we went to Chick Fil A where they enjoyed lunch & played in the indoor playground. They saw their other babysitters’ brother (more small world stuff) then we came back home to their place & played & colored till Papa came back. Such a refreshing time of fun -----not seeming like work at all. And $80 later, I’m so happy!!

Following babysitting I go to my friends the Irvins for spaghetti & meatballs dinner. What an anointing is over that family!! They are so genuine & real & the love of God just beams from them like few folks I have encountered. I made the meatballs & brought the salad. We had a delightful few hours together & it is easy to be with this family. While I am there, a friend of theirs who is in a transition time was tossing a lot of her household items. She walks in holding a ‘Paula Deen’ saucepan with a lid & says to me, do you know anyone who can use this? Now let me pause here & tell you something about how much my Father loves me!!!

Last year about this time I was with a friend in some store & when we were looking for some things for a project, we turned the corner & saw the collection of Paula Deens cookware. She said my eyes lit up like she had never seen before. My birthday was shortly following & she gave me a beautiful bright red Paula Deen Stockpot. I love it & have used it several times. What a blessing!! It really surprised me but it made my heart sing I was so over-the-moon happy!! One Paula Deen Stockpot & I was in sublime bliss!!

Debbie is the friend in transition & she says, “Where’s your car & I’ll just go put the set in there for you. Is it unlocked?” Well, I know I heard her say that, but it just really didn’t sink in. Just prior to sitting down to eat & I went out to the car, opened the door & saw 4 saucepans & lids nesting inside each other like those little Russian dolls. It touched my heart in the most soulful way! In that flash of time, I was transported to that split second when my heart leapt with joy over seeing something that would make my heart know I am here doing what my Father placed me for!! I LOVE to cook, but mostly I LOVE to serve others & make them happy by meeting their needs. I am a servant, a helpmate by nature & a nurturer/encourager by choice. Is my Father good at reading me & knowing my love language or WHAT?

Debbie is a single mom facing some collossal problems & was seriously needing some encouraging words. Every encounter I have with anyone these days is like the ‘Rising Tide’. Rising tides lift all the boats! I seek to sow seeds of encouragement as often as possible. Not to be offensive, but rather to make it a priority to share the love of God to every person I have a brush with along my path. If I have dropped an encouraging word or thought, I have loved them & that is what is required of me. No more & no less.
So while we are enjoying this meal & the house is brimming with activity, I get a picture message from my friend Holly. ANOTHER AMAZING RESTORATION!!! Brace yourselves…this is big!!

I have lost so many things & none of them really mattered at all. It isn’t about the ‘things’, it’s about the assignments we give them. When I lived in my house with my kids, I had a ‘blue bottle tree’ that was made from old blue bottles & nails I pounded into an old scrub Mulberry tree. It is a piece of junk art that I particularly loved when the light beamed through those bottles. The legend of the blue bottle trees is deep & profound in the African American history of the South. In a word or 2, the spirituality of the blue bottles is that they believed that the upside down BLUE bottles captured the evil spirits that emanated from the ground. This belief is also why many of the ceilings on the verandas of the antebellum homes of Charleston are painted blue.

Now my ex-husband & kids live there. I live in an adjacent townhouse by myself. I don’t regret anything  that I have left behind. The blue bottle tree was dismantled with a vengeance & all of the bottles broken. I don’t really care, but I do take offense at how some people who are very important in my life have such little regard for me & the things I care about. But as I said, it isn’t about the things, its about the condition of the heart & attitude of the mind. I’m not offended by it, I forgive them all & know that my Father has better things in mind for me!

Holly’s daughter participates in an art program whose teacher is very active in African-American Cultural promotion. She told Holly that they were putting a blue bottle tree in the lawn in front of the "Avery Center" at the College of Charleston, which is *nationally recognized*, & asked if she would like to decorate one to place on the tree. So yesterday we got together for a few brief minutes to adorn a blue bottle that I had from a fun time with my neighbors who love Riesling as much as I do. (Riesling comes in blue bottles!) I brought a string of pearls & envisioned them in waves on the sides of the blue bottle. Holly found some ‘Carolina Orchids’ which are native to SC & the plan was to place them on the neck of the bottle. While I am sitting chatting with Debbie, trying to digest the scope of the trauma she has endured & how courageously she is facing her future with her kids, my phone chirps like a bird! This is a text message arriving. I check it & there is a pic that Holly sent of the finished bottle sparkling with the waves of pearls. Can you spell “Rising Tides” & “Restoration”? Well I sure can!!

Now imagine with me for a second how terrific is it that the bottle I helped to adorn will be in a place of highest esteem by throngs of admirers! Can you believe this? I am utterly stunned & awed by my loving Father who knows all the pains, hurts, losses & whatever else I have endured. But He is totally all about this restoring me to places of high honor in victory over everything that has attempted to take me outta the game. Yes, my enemies who sought to harm & inflict pain have been defeated! The JOY OF THE LORD IS MY STRENGTH! Nehemiah 8:10

Sharing this with Debbie in that very moment was surreal! Speechless!! But I am FULL of praise & thanksgiving to God for assigning & arranging such magnificent things in my path! How can I keep from singing?

Now to head this in for a landing, remain seated, ladies & gentlemen. While I am about to finish up at the Irvins’, I share a couple of snapshots of tremendous blessings in my life. It is most certain that I could no more conjure up such things for myself than run a marathon (although that just might be in my future!) While we are sitting there, my landlady calls around 8pm. This is unusual for her to call at such a time, but I pick it up. She asks if I am busy & if not, could I go sit with a friend of hers who is desperately needing someone to attend to her following hip surgery. She said, “Her husband is overwhelmed & is recovering himself from some health issues. They will pay you well for your time & maybe you can help them otherwise, Carolyn”.

So I was here by 8:30 & the room number was on the 8th floor, but the elevator only went up to 7. I “mash” the button & it stops and an employee walks into the elevator with me. As we ascended to the 7th floor, I asked her if she could help me find room 892. She says, “Oh sure! You would have never been able to locate this without help, follow me!” My Father knew that I would need this assistance & sent her in my EXACT moment of need.

 He says, “Trust me, listen to my Spirit!! Carolyn, you will have all that you could ever need or even imagine! I am your God! Will you please be my daughter & servant? I have so much in store for you. To give you the desires of your heart so that you will know it is ME!!! I have known you since before the dawn of the ages & planned for every single step you take, Carolyn! Will you please let me bless you & use you so that you will be a tremendous blessing to others? I have gifted you in so many ways that no other person could ever appreciate! No one knows all that you have suffered or lost, but I do! And I care for you because you are my little precious lamb! Will you please continue to walk with me? Watch what I will bring to you! Watch & see the tremendous places I will put you and your ‘seed.’ Where I lead you will not be like anything you have ever seen or heard or even imagined!! Carolyn you will be a highly favored & anointed servant whose works cannot deny My mighty hand! All the pettiness of your past is just that….petty. Don’t look at that nonsense! I am doing a new thing & this is a new season for you & your seed. Prepare the way of the Lord! I am the Way, the Truth & the Life!! No one comes to the Father except by Jesus! This is your call, your time to reap the harvest so abundant that no one can look at it & say it was from anyone or anything BUT GOD! I am He who cares for my own. You are mine & I am yours. Rest in it, listen to me & let me do your bidding. I am that I am. Love, God” Well, I am pretty certain it was not audible, but I got the message loud & clear. And my reply to Him is “Yes Lord!!”

I walk into the room & these precious older people were awaiting my arrival. The gentleman was so anxious. The beautiful woman, who was once a New York high-fashion runway model, was writhing in pain when I got here. I know that I am on assignment for My Father & I will have everything I could possibly need to attend to her. I stop at the nurses’ desk to ask what’s going on with her & they simply said, “They really need you. She is over there”. I stop to introduce myself & she says, “You look like summertime! Like a ray of sunshine. I have been meaning to tell you that you look stunning!.” Wow!! Rising tides!! Then she is back into the writhing pain.  Her pain is obvious & he poor husband was desperate.

The only thing I know is that she is about 2 weeks post hip replacement surgery & has had a rough recovery. She has a bruised face & stitches over her lovely eye which tells me she had a fall recently. I ask where she is hurting & she says it’s her undergarments which are all twisted up. Nothing worse than having your britches all in a bind & being unable to do a thing about it! So I step out to the nurse’s station & they are all busy attending to the needs of other patients. Since I can’t really do anything about it, I decide to teach her what I know about coping with pain & stress. A little trick called square-breathing. So the lovely model, her sweet husband and I are all inhaling & exhaling slowly. Inhaling all fresh new things & exhaling all the old used up & useless things. I listen carefully & I am seeing the tension fade away from this whole situation. Inhale---hold it. Exhale---hold it. The situation which was palpable a minute ago is now utter peace.

We are all being continually refreshed & renewed by the new things God is able to do with us when we tune in & let Him be God. I will never look back at how difficult things have been. That was then…this is now & God is calling me to a deeper, more profound one-ness with Him. I call this Holy Communion. Yes, Lord, Holy Communion indeed! A ONE-NESS with God that is only available through Jesus. The unbroken fellowship with Him that is His delight to give us if we will only ACCEPT IT! ‘Holy Communion’ with Him is where it’s at!!***This I know!