Archives for September 2015

How to Handle Life’s Curve Balls

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What do you do when unexpected curve balls in life are thrown your way? Dawn and Chris Carr know how to handle curve balls. They have always been such a precious couple in my life. They met when they were 19 years old at college and were inseparable. We as Dawn’s best friends knew they would marry.  They married right after college, in September 1997.  They epitomize–then and today– a Christ-centered marriage.

For their whole marriage of 18 years, Chris awakens daily at 6am to have his quiet time and Bible reading, eats breakfast with his family, then he leaves for work.  They pray together, laugh together, work hard together, and have fun together as a family. Life often seems so perfect in the calm before the curve ball.

Their curve ball came in 2003, when Dawn was 30 years old. While enjoying their two-year-old son Carson and pregnant with their second child,  Dawn was diagnosed with colon cancer. Just typing those words brings tears to my eyes, recalling the shock. How could someone so young have to hear the “C” word, especially Dawn who was pregnant? For that matter, why does anyone need to hear the dreaded “C” word?

A prayerful decision was made to operate. When the growing baby in her womb was five months along, anointed doctors made an incision from her breasts down to her pelvis. The nurses held that baby outside of her body while 13 cancerous inches of her colon were removed. They then gently placed the baby miraculously back into her body. Miracles never cease.

The surgery was not the worst of the battle. Her incision down the front of her body had a difficult time healing because, as the baby grew inside of her, her skin and stitches stretched tautly. Dawn could hardly stand up straight because it hurt too much to stretch her healing incision. Not only could she not stand up straight, she also was not supposed to pick up her beautiful two-year-old son Carson. Her incision healed, and Dawn, in her hilarious humor, calls her scar her “front butt.”

How did we respond as Dawn’s friends? What did we do? We prayed and rallied around her. We showed up. We all came to Charlotte, took Dawn out for a spa day with a manicure/pedicure, then rented a hotel suite to have a slumber party. She was real in telling us all the details. We were real to listen. To cry with her. To laugh with her (although it hurt her incision to laugh, she loved and still loves to laugh). To hug her. To hear her. To let her know we love her and value her and are praying for her.

Dawn, Chris, and Carson came to Charleston to visit and stay with me two months later. By this time she was seven months pregnant. I remember us going to Fort Sumter and Dawn trying to push Carson in his baby stroller, and she couldn’t stand up straight. We heard the ferry boat whistle indicating that we needed to get on the boat. Dawn ran like “ET” with baby stroller while Chris ran ahead with our tickets. We laughed so hard. We had so much fun. Dawn laughed through her pain. She is the life of the party.

Dawn delivered baby Zackary on Mother’s Day 2004, the miracle boy. We say he was “born again” on the day he was birthed. Dawn began chemo two weeks after he was born and couldn’t breast feed.  Both Zackary and big brother Carson have hearts of gold. They are good boys, good students, are good role models. I love them as I would my own children.

Dawn and Chris  go on date nights often, and go on “Celebration of Life” cruises each year on the anniversary of her cancer surgery. They just enjoyed their 2015 cruise last month. They savor every moment. Dawn and Chris are such an inspiration, and their marriage is one of dying to self and living for God, each other, their two sons and others. Those are the keys, my friends, to handling life’s curve balls.

Happy 18th Anniversary, Dawn and Chris!

Christian Broadcasting Network’s “700 Club” featured Dawn and Chris’s story in December 2012. Enjoy their poignant feature video clip now by clicking on the link below.

 The 700 Club–Baby Born Again, featuring Dawn, Chris and Zackary

Reflect:

–Why does it seem sometimes that bad things happen to us? Please comment.

Renew with One of Dawn’s favorite verses:

–“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” –Joshua 1:9

–“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Recharge:

–What can you learn from the testimony Dawn, Chris, Carson and Zackary? Please comment.

Resource:

— http://www.cbn.com/700club/features/amazing/Carrs121206.asp

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Let’s Get Out of the Huddle

Ahhhh…’tis the season. Crisp mornings, where we see our breath. Changing leaves falling, crunching under our feet. We are in the full throws of pumpkin spice, harvest décor and football games on every channel and in every stadium.  Even from my front yard on Friday nights I can hear the high school band playing and football fans cheering at the nearby Cuthbertson High School.

Imagine paying for college or professional football tickets. You’re in the stands, greasy food in your hands. You’re adorned in your favorite teams regalia, the fans are cheering, momentum is building….Your favorite team runs onto the field and gathers in a huddle. The huddle lasts for 10 minutes, then 20, then 40, then one hour! Then they walk off the field. What would you do? How would you respond?

Pastor Harvey Carey is the pastor of  a thriving, mission-minded church in Detroit, MI. Pastor Harvey is the one who gave the aforementioned analogy about the long huddle at a football game.

Located in one of the poorest zip codes in America, Pastor Harvey Carey’s church was identified as one of the top churches in growing people spiritually. He says that some Sundays when his congregation shows up for church, they all walk right back out to go spread God’s love on the streets around the church for that hour.

Isn’t that what we do on Sunday mornings as Christians—huddle for one hour and go off the “field”? How do you think God reacts when He sees us all “huddled up”?

Pastor Harvey’s passionate sermon was quite convicting. I am guilty as charged, sometimes also staying in my Christian huddle of friends and family. Many of us “huddle” from one Sunday, one week to the next. We often don’t actually “play the game” of our faith, loving our neighbor as ourselves, fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28) and serving the “least of these” in Matthew 25. We can go to all these seminars, retreats, and conferences year after year, collecting binders of information on our shelves, which only collect dust. When are we to play the game?

After really feeling convicted about his sermon, I thought of the uplifting seminars and retreats and conferences I’ve attended. Have I been in a “huddle”? Maybe I’m wrong, but I liken them to Spring Training or Boot Camp to condition my/our spiritual muscles for the “game of ministry.” Fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, you are conditioned, you are prayed up, you have done your calisthenics. Let’s get out of the huddle now and play this Game of Life. Go serve! Go minister!

Reflect:

–In what ways are you still in your comfortable huddle? Please comment.

–How will you execute your plans from the huddle and play the game of Life?

Renew:

–“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'” –Matthew 25: 40 NIV

–Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…’” –Matthew 28:19 NIV

–“Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” –1 Corinthians 9:25 NIV

Recharge:

–Name three “Fields” you will play on this month.

–What is one way your family can help “the least of these’ or your neighbor?

Resource:

 www.citadeloffaith.org

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It’s a Dew Perspective

Dew on lantana

It was the dew. It caught my eye, made me blink, as the early morning sun glistened over the shimmering landscape.

I was simply blow drying my hair, gazing out the bathroom window at the peaceful backyard as I do daily. On this particular Sunday morning the view made me smile. The beauty overwhelmed me.

The heavy dew refreshed everything and caused it to shine brightly, reflecting light on the grass, flowers, bushes, fence posts, Adirondack chairs. I couldn’t help it. I had to get an up close view. Wearing my church dress and high-heeled shoes, I trapsed through the drenched grass to snap photos of the lantana. The wet grass clippings stuck to my heels, and I didn’t care. The sweet journey was worth the effort.

My heart was enlivened, reminded me of the reassuring verses in Lamentations 3:23-24.

 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every  morning; great is your faithfulness.

What a sweet, dew perspective. No matter what we are going through in life, God’s “dew” of mercy, grace and love is fresh every morning. What hope. What encouragement.

Another way to refresh your soul first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed, is to download the FREE Proverbs 31 Ministries First 5 mobile app on your phone. Just search in the App Store on your Iphone or Ipad (Android available also) for “First 5.”

An alarm is built right inside the app. Once you set the alarm and swipe it in the morning, you are taken straight into God’s Word for a five-minute inspiring Bible teaching.  One chapter of the Bible is highlighted per day, in order. Currently the book of Genesis is being studied. The book of John was just finished and can all be found in the “Archives” tab.  Amazing and profound Weekend Wrap-up summary videos are featured each Saturday. In 3 ½ years, with just five minutes each morning, you will have read the entire Bible. You can even purchase the “Experience Guide” journal from Proverbs 31 Ministries to enrich the book of the Bible being studied.

As Proverbs 31 Ministries President and friend Lysa TerKeurst says, “We must exchange whispers with God before shouts with the world.”

What hope. Just like the fresh dew in the morning, may we refreshen our hearts daily by going to God’s Word first.

Reflect:

–When have you felt “dried up,” in need of refreshment or morning “dew” for your soul?

–How will you look differently at the morning time and dew?

Renew:

–“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You and wait in expectation.” –Psalm 5:3 NIV

–“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.’ –2 Peter 1:19 NIV

Recharge:

–Please join more than 400,000 other people from 199 countries who have already downloaded the First 5 Mobile App. Download it today and tell your friends.

Resource:

First 5 Mobile App

Proverbs 31 Ministries

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