Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jeanie's blog 2: Unexpected gifts

Unexpected gifts:  November 26, 2012

I am often amazed at the sweet moments God allows us to be a part of.  As our Pastor Brett reminded us in his recent sermon, we should look for unexpected gifts--and I do!   They are gifts from the Holy Spirit that say, I am here and I love you.   When they come it is like a feeding, filling me like nothing else and nourishing me for days, sometimes weeks!

 Last Saturday,  Joey and I, as we have done for the last five years, set up our ministry outreach booth on the street behind the church --at the Farmer's Market. We both were a bit concerned that day. We would be there for four hours and knew we had three other music commitments that afternoon, which is so stressful vocally and physically. We prayed that God would help us work it out since we know our time in the street at the Farmer's Market is always important.   We came prepared to amplify our music for the first time, by request of the new market coordinators.  When we arrived the coordinator came to speak with us - anxious - saying she had accidentally double booked and another musician was also scheduled to play for the market.   I suggested she put him at the top of the street and we would be in the middle - plenty of room for both…I thought.  Since the other musician was to amplify, we decided to keep our music acoustic so there was no competing sound. Disappointing, we thought, but the right thing to do.    It wasn't long before we realized the only time we could actually sing was when the other musician was between songs, because while he was very talented, he was SO extremely loud.  Admittedly  we were a little annoyed at first, but I told Joey we should look at it as a time to practice songs and just enjoy having less pressure. When we let go of what WE "hoped for" with our music that day,  HIS gifts began. People started to stop to chat, some friends, some we did not know, so instead of exhausting ourselves, singing for four hours, we were relaxed and enjoying time with people.  Gift #1: God was giving us an easier pace so we could manage the rest of the day)  

One of the people who stopped by our booth was a friend (I'll call her Sally).  She had a relative (a young woman) with her who was not a Christian. Sally took me aside and asked if I could pray that she would have the opportunity to comfortably talk to her relative about Jesus before their visit was over.  After we shared a few fun stories, the two women moved on down the road.   In a short while, they returned and Sally wanted us to sing a song for her relative.  Joey and I chose a happy song, a song of the joy of Jesus. As we sang and clapped, then it happened, The young woman wept - openly.  She had been touched. By the song, I wondered? how strange since it was such a happy song. The next day I found out, Sally had indeed talked with her relative about Jesus.  The young woman had experienced the Holy Spirit as we sang to her at the market and her heart was open to hear!  God used a happy, clappy song - not an emotional heart tugging song to speak to this woman. Wow! Gift #2: God allowed us to be a part of the process of Sally’s relative becoming touched by His Holy Spirit.

A short time later two young women came by our booth with handmade crosses that they had.  They were not fancy but were bright colored crosses made from thick yarn.  They asked if we would like to buy one for five dollars.  Joey said “no thank you” and I brushed them away promising to buy another time --- not wanting to spend five dollars on something I didn't really want.  As Joey played the guitar and we began singing another song, the women smiled and walked up the hill.  In a few moments, I felt this warm electric sensation that I have felt so often in my life.  That feeling when God is all over me, telling me...."you are gonna miss it....this is important.....don't you get it??....hurry up...I sent them to you!"  I told Joey -  "this is a deeper thing than ladies selling crosses - I have to go after them". He agreed and admitted, he had actually wanted one of the crosses.  As I left the booth to find them, I didn't know if they were scammers or what but that didn't matter, I just knew I had to go.   I ran up the hill and when I caught up to them, I touched the one woman on the shoulder and felt a sensation that feels like dipping my hand in warm butter- Also a familiar feeling when God is speaking to me.  The young woman turned and smiled.  I said, "come back - I want to look at the crosses you have for sale".  She and her friend came back to the booth and I told her that I felt in my spirit that I should buy a cross and thanked her for coming back.   As we made small talk , I looked at her and said, "that church over there is our church. There are a lot of wonderful people that will be there tomorrow and we would love for you to join us for worship".  I said, "there is no need to dress up - come as you are and you will be welcomed".  They said they were familiar with our church.  They told us they are homeless and have lived in the woods for almost a year.  They said they eat dinner on Wednesday nights at our church.  They said, "your church feeds us".   I told them I would be eager to see if they would join us Sunday morning.  Gift #3:  They came....Sunday morning!  After the service, the young woman, in her old clothes and cheeks rosy from her life living outdoors,  came down the aisle at church with tears in her eyes and hugged me so tight and didn't let go easily.  Her friend and two men were with her.  She said the men were their husbands.  She said they had tried attending other churches but this was the first time they had felt at home and not judged.  I introduced them to several people and everyone eagerly greeted them.  I told people about their beautiful crosses and many eagerly asked to see them and bought the handmade yarn crosses.   Go church!    ...go God! 

As The market wrapped up on Saturday, we were energized.  The other three commitments were at a pace of leisure. 

God had it under control the whole time !  Imagine that!

I realize that even with these gifts that I still get weary at times from the life issues that arise and mountains I am faced with and so much suffering that I see. I do find myself at times caught in a spin and God can't get in.  In those times, I envision me as a tornado and God standing, waiting for the spinning to stop so I will see him and feel his heart.   In that spin, I wonder if my longing for the broken to find solace in a place is possible or is it fantasy. When so much is wrong, can it really be better?  Can we, the church, really see others as Christ sees us?  But in the spin, I do know God is there and waiting and maybe laughing a bit at my humanness.  I do know that it is possible, and I hate that I ever slip into doubt.

Joey often says, "God CAN-DO-IT if we are the CONDUIT"  I think that brings us to Pastor Brett's sermon message from yesterday.... re-creating the world.  I do hope and pray that other church congregations are loaded with the Spirit and ready to re-create God's kingdom , reaching out - one person at a time.  And I truly realize that our church - Memorial UMC is doing it!  It makes me happy to know our church will welcome those who God sends to us.  It makes me know that through God all things are possible.  It makes me abundantly thankful for unexpected gifts that feed me and make those times of spinning less and less as God shows me how to use his faithfulness as my anchor.  I am thankful.

in His Name............jeanie




jeanie's blog #1: He Told Me and I didn't Listen

He Told me and I didn't Listen:                     November 25, 2012

When Joey and I started our non-profit  (Crowns of Creation Ministries) in 2008 we were consumed with an overflowing of affirmations from God that we were to prepare ourselves,  (in Joey's words) "suit up and show up" wherever God calls us, and let the Holy Spirit take it from there.  We quickly found that whatever we think we are preparing for, is NEVER what we are actually there for and we leave our music ministry outings with stunned amazement.

Joey has reminded me many times over the years that he thinks I should blog about the ministry journey that God has us on.  I am well-intentioned, but kept placing it on the low end of my busy schedule priority list.  To be completely honest, I didn't think anyone would want to read my wordy thoughts.  I am the definition of a woman of many words!   But God has, more than once, grabbed my thoughts to prompt me in the writing direction but, I think - "no, I just must be mishearing you God - surely you don't mean it!"  Well, last night I was struggling to get to bed and thought, "okay God - you win - I need to write!"   It is amazing how relaxed I felt when I finally was obedient to that call.

So ....it only took me four-ish years to listen!  But today  I officially begin writing and pray for the words that will encourage people, will bless the reader, will maybe find a laugh or two along the way.  I have insecurities about placing my thoughts out for public consumption but I know God has me covered, even if I stumble.

I will simply call it Jeanie's blog!  Ha!  So profound!

Joey and I formed this ministry to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  These hands are typing for Him....

........love in Christ.....jeanie