Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Utmost... Part 1

Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) was born in Scotland and spent much of his boyhood there. His ministry of teaching and preaching took him for a time to the United States and Japan. The last six years of his life were spent as principal of the Bible Training College in London, and as chaplain to British Commonwealth troops in Egypt during World War I. After his death, the books which bear his name were compiled by his wife from her own verbatim shorthand notes of his talks.

Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God by David McCasland

I find myself very inspired and moved when I read Oswald Chamber's devotional My Utmost for His Highest. Although I found out recently that it was his wife, Biddy who actually compiled his lectures and sermons to publish the book. A friend of mine loaned me Chambers' biography and it was a really great read. I think reading his daily devotionals will mean even more to me now that I know his story.

I would like to share here just some of the things I took away from the book. I have quite a few pages earmarked which is why I titled this post "Part 1." There is no telling how many "parts" there will be by the time I am done. The following words are taken directly from the book and are not my own.

  • [at Oswald's funeral] ...she [Biddy] closed her eyes and saw Oswald, a few months before... They had just visited their friend suffering from typhoid fever and lying near death in a hospital. Biddy had said, "I wonder what God is going to do." Between brushstrokes, Oswald had replied, "I don't care what God does. It's what God is that I care about."

  • "It takes me a long while to realize that God has no respect for anything I bring Him. All He wants from me is unconditional surrender."

  • Diary, 26 April 1896: The Holy Spirit must anoint me for the work, fire me, and so vividly convince me that such and such a way is mine to aim at, or I shall not go, I will not, I dare not; ...No man by mere high human wisdom would dare undertake a step for Jesus' sake unless he knows that the Holy Spirit has directly spoken to him; and until He comes, I shall not go. Here is the lamb and the wood, but where is the fire? Nothing but the fire of the most Holy Spirit of God can make the offering holy and unblamable and acceptable in His sight.

I'll leave it at that today. More tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dirty Clothes Alert

"...Put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:20-24

My boys have a habit of leaving their dirty clothes laying on the floor when they're getting dressed in the morning or getting in the tub. I have a famous phrase that I say when I walk by.

"Dirty clothes alert! Dirty clothes alert!" I exclaim.

It's cute because now they both say it when they're picking up their clothes to take them to the hamper. I wish I had an audio clip to link here because they are so cute saying it in their little boy voices.

In my Sunday School class, we are doing a study called Changed Into His Image by Jim Berg. The lesson we are on now is called "The Evil Within." He uses a tea bag illustration to talk about how how we all have a sin nature. We don't sin because someone else made us sin. In the same way, no one can make you angry. No one can make you joyous. Matthew 15:18-19 says, "But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false, testimony, slander."

Using a tea bag as an example, Berg illustrates how when you place a tea bag into a cup of water, the water is not what creates the taste. It simply draws out the flavor from the tea bag. Circumstances and/or other people do not make us angry, bitter, jealous, etc. They simply draw out the evil from within our sinful hearts.

I was thinking about this the other night because of something that the Lord revealed about the evil within my own heart. I don't want to feel the way I do about this particular circumstance. Even though I feel like there are some things I should be offended by, I was holding onto it and it was draining me. I am tired of holding onto it. In effect, I was being held in bondage to it by not relinquishing it to God. Sooner or later, He will make everything good. He alone will right all wrongs.

I started to confess this darkness of heart that the Lord had revealed to me to Him in prayer. As I was praying, a beautiful picture came to my mind. It was early in the evening on Easter Sunday. The images of the Resurrection were still fresh in my mind.

All of a sudden, I imagined myself nailing this bitterness of heart to the Cross. I imagined it being buried in the tomb. On the third day, I imagined myself walking out of the tomb victorious with Christ while my old dirty clothes remained buried in the tomb. The clothes didn't disappear. They were still there. But I had victory over them because Christ defeated them through His death on the Cross. While they didn't just go away, I now had power over them because I am a daughter of the King. I think sometimes it's important to see that the clothes are still there because if we couldn't, then we might not remember why the Resurrection was important.

O victory in Jesus, my Savior, Forever!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Remember When...

I don't remember if my house was always clean growing up. I do remember my dad taking me out on "dates." I remember my mom making these little scavenger hunt games for my sister and I while she was at work and we were home alone. I remember playing with my childhood best friends, Sara and Angie, in the back yard. I remember playing with dolls with my sister. We used to have so many dolls lined up on our beds at night that we had to end up sleeping on the very edge! I remember going camping at Jellystone campground with my family. I remember my dad dressing up as Yogi Bear on those trips. I remember my dad pulling me around the house on a big blanket. I remember my mom teaching me how to make tacos. It may have been there, but I don't remember the Sweet Smell of PineSolTM.

I have alluded several times in my blog to one of my favorite devotionals from Proverbs 31 Ministries. Well, this morning it was sent again so I thought I would share the entire thing because it offers such great perspective.

The Sweet Smell of PineSolTM

T. Suzanne Eller

"Jesus said let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14

I admit it. I'm the world's worst at preserving photos. I have boxes of photos stacked in various cubbyholes. I tried to organize the pictures once. I divided them and placed them in large envelopes. My next step was to put them in albums. They are still in envelopes - stacked in a box.

My children, Melissa, Ryan, and Leslie are now in their 20's and newly married. The chances of me ever getting these precious memories organized are slim to none, but I'm realizing something powerful. Memories aren't limited to pictures.

Remember when, Mom? is a common phrase in my house now. We have become the hub, a privilege once reserved for my husband's parents. At holidays and special weekends, they drive up and unload luggage and pile into guest rooms. We laugh and reminisce a lot around the table. Remember when we went on treasure hunts in the pasture? Remember when you jumped on the bed and popped Ryan up in the air so high is scared you? Remember that yellow Slip-n-SlideTM?

I do remember. But I also remember a young mom with three little ones who worried that her house wasn't spotless when an unexpected guest showed up. I remember the angst of trying to do everything and the fatigue when my day ended before my chores did.

I also remember days that I threw caution to the wind and jumped on the bed, even though it might make others frown. I grabbed the shovel and gave the kids plastic buckets and we looked for old bottles and trinkets at the abandoned homestead nearby. We mixed dishwashing liquid and water and I laughed out loud as the kids flew like greased lightning across the yellow slippery slide.

Some of those memories are captured in that pre-digital age, but most were not. However, they are etched on the heart of my young adult children.

What they don't reminisce about is the sweet, sweet smell of PineSolTM. Whether my house was perfect or how it compared to others' is not even on their radar.

Why did I worry so?

Take a moment today and look past the clutter and the to-do list and be a child again. It might not be a picture perfect moment, but it will be a memory.

Dear Lord, time passes so fast. Slow me down. Let me enjoy the smallest pleasures. Let me play with my child instead of only knocking down a to-do list. Let me laugh with my teen instead of fussing at him. That you for sweet memories. Amen.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Narrow is the Road

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." Matthew 7:13-14

Below is an expert from an article I read a while back that I found interesting. It was an article in the Fort Wayne Examiner titled "The Megachurch and the Myth of Christian Majority" written by Mark Turney and published on July 12th, 2010. This is not the entire article, just parts that I found interesting and thought provoking.

Christian America is obsessed with the megachurch. The pastor who shepherds a church with thousands of regular members is becoming the shaker and mover du jour, but is large attendance a proper criteria to legitimize a ministry?

The Hartford Institute has calculated that there are around fifty churches in the U.S. that have 10,000+ members. But large numbers doesn't necessarily mean that God endorses the teaching. Attendance might signify that the message is annointed, or it might merely be popular. Jesus was not always so popular.

Bigger is not always bad. Megachurches have budgets that are able to sponsor more missionaries than the average storefront church could afford, so the gospel efforts overseas sees an obvious advantage. And there is the double-edged sword of a TV spot; charasmatic preachers from all walks of life can spread the gospel to millions of viewers on the airwaves. [However], if these men fall, the crash hurts churches all over the nation. So why are believers so obsessed with numbers? Is there some sort of authenticity in having a large following? Does the Bible preach that a majority is a sign from him?

When God judged the earth, there was a minority of only eight people who were saved on the ark. It was a minority of three who escaped the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. When the Israelites sent out twelve spies to the Promised Land, it was a minority of two who came back with a favorable report. It was a minority of those who left Egypt who entered the Promised Land. It was a minority of 300 that God used to defeat the multitude of Midianites, the Amalekites, and the children of the East. David was a minority when he alone was willing to stand against Goliath and the host of Philistines.

Bigger does not necessarily mean better. There are fine congregations with less than fifty members, where the word is preached with power and conviction, where the members grow in discipleship and maturity, and there are tiny congregations that are cult-like and dangerous in their doctrine. There are megachurches that have seen adultery, embezzlement, and church splits, and there are huge congregations that walk the straight and narrow, who are mighty in word and worship.

Believers need to look past the glitter and glamour, past the showmanship, and look to see whether Jesus is taught in truth and glorified in lives. We need to focus on what God sees and not what we see in the flesh.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Embracing Suffering

"There was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'" 2 Corinthians 2:7-9

I was listening to Chris Fabry Live today on Moody radio, as I usually do on my drive home. He usually has a special guest on to talk about a new book or various practical issues. Today, he talked with Jeromy Deibler of the Christian music group, FFH.

The introduction on the program website states this: How do you embrace suffering? Chris talks with Jeromy Deibler of FFH about living with Multiple Sclerosis, black mold and how suffering has strengthened his faith. They also talk about Jesus' suffering on the Cross for you and for me.

I only heard the last 30 minutes or so of the interview, but it was excellent. If you have a chance to swing over to the website, I definitely recommend it. Click the link to listen to the broadcase from 4/19, hour 2.

Jeromy talked about being diagnosed with MS back in 2005 and how he has embraced suffering. He talked about how well meaning friends would talk to him about pain and suffering and sickness coming from the fall of man and from the devil and that they would "pray it out of" him. He explained to them that they were welcome to pray for him and pray that he would be healed of MS, but he has sensed something of God through all of this that he never did before. God has used his MS to draw him closer to Himself. He said that in the meantime, because of that he is going to embrace his suffering until God calls him out of it.

Jeromy talked about how he doesn't understand why our culture is so quick to run away from suffering. Jesus didn't. He never said it didn't hurt. But He knew He had to go through it.

My favorite part was what he said in the end. He talked about how his wife said she likes him better after MS than before. Not because of the disease but because of what God is doing in his heart and his life... in the midst of that process. He said they both want him to be "that guy" without MS. But if he won't be, then he said "keep the tag on me." He said he would wear the MS tag if he had to, as long as he could stay "that guy." The one with the changed heart and life.

I can so relate to that. I feel like my tag says "divorced/rejected." That was painful... The most painful thing I have ever had to go through in my life to this point. But I wouldn't trade who I am now for who I was before for even a second because God has done such a mighty work in my life. Although that trial and suffering was horrible and I prayed many times for God to take it away, I'm thankful for the way that God has brought ultimate good from it and revealed His power through my weakness.

This process of being continually changed into the image of God has been painful. But if suffering is what it took to bring me here, then every minute of it was worth it. I can see that having come through that particular suffering. Lord, I pray that You will help me to remember that when the next trial comes because we are guaranteed to have suffering in this world. If even your One and only Son had to suffer on a Cross for me, then I, too shall have to suffer on this earth. I Thessalonians 3:3 says that we are destined for trials. But praise God that there will come a day when there will be no more suffering and no more pain and the Lord will restore what the locusts have eaten away.

Praise You, Lord.

*Postscript: I have been reading Ecclesiastes for the past couple of days. I went to bed last night after writing this post and woke up and read just a few more verses in Ecclesiastes this morning when I woke up. I read this verse that is so fitting to this topic and to the theme of this blog, Living Malachi 3:3. It is Ecclesiastes 7:3. "Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us." (NLT).Wow. Such wisdom in Solomon's words. Sorrow and sadness do not feel better but without them, there would be no refining. Therefore sorrow actually is better than laughter.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dream Dream Dream

"When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought 'Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.'" Genesis 28:16

My plane landed last night. It didn't crash. It landed! I'm taking that as a good sign.

Oh, you didn't know I was traveling anywhere yesterday? Well, I didn't. Not exactly anyway. It was all a dream.

You see, I've been doing some dream work lately. There's a lot you can learn and understand about yourself through your dreams. Especially recurring dreams. It's important to pay special attention to things that occur over and over again in dreams. They symbolize something you need to deal with in waking life and will keep recurring in your dreams until they are dealt with. However, we dream in symbols because the unconscious mind is not organized like our waking minds are.

I have recurring dreams of plane crashes. I don't ever die in the crash, but they always crash. Sometimes they catch fire when they crash or split apart. I wonder if this is why I have a fear of flying? I will do it but I hate it. But you know what? Dreams about plane crashes are not really about airplanes at all. Flying is a dream symbol.

Can we physically fly in real life without an airplane? No. Symbols are unique to the dreamer but sometimes dreams about flying are linked to being out of touch with reality. Flying above real life. So I guess it's a good thing that my dreams are about the planes crashing. It makes sense when I think about it because for a long time I lived in the land of make believe... in a world of idealism. But in my dreams, I always crash back to the earth... the real world.

Although crashing isn't necessarily fun either, is it? I'm wondering about the circumstances in my life during the times of my plane crash dreams. Had things happened that forced me out of the land of ideals and into reality? That would be an interesting study.

Well, last night for the first time ever, my plane landed smoothly and I got off. Yippee! I'm taking this as progress of living in the real world. Now, the real world is not all peaches and cream. I think that's why I got on the airplane in the first place. I would prefer my peaches and cream. The real world is sometimes Rocky Road instead. In the real world, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes God doesn't bring the type of healing I would prefer. The real world doesn't always bring fairy tale endings to every circumstance. But we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him. It may just not always seem that way at the time. God is sovereign. His ways are not my ways, therefore I do not always understand them.

Just because I landed last night, I don't imagine that I will never get on an airplane in my dreams again. Sometimes it feels safer to be up in the air when the ground is shaking and our defenses naturally take us there because that's how they've always done it. And maybe that's okay for a time until the earth trembling calms down. As long as my plane doesn't stay in the air circling the airport forever I'm okay with climbing on board for a short trip while I'm waiting for the blinding rains to subside. As long as I don't stay there and am prepared for landing.

Dear Lord, thank you for teaching me truth in the innermost parts through dreaming. Thank you for giving me a mind to understand them and for teaching me who You created me to be in Your image. Thank you for my recurring dreams to show me the areas where You desire growth as I am being changed into Your image. I also thank you that you will carry this work of being transformed onto completion until the day of Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Virtual Reality

"Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another - and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:25

I had 223 facebook friends. Do I really have 223 friends? That's a lot of friends. Of those 223 friends, the number that I actually talk to in person or over the phone or ever get together with is drastically less. I was thinking about how in reality, I never talk to half of these friends. I see what they're up to on facebook and they see what I'm up to... but are we really friends? If we are really friends then why don't we ever spend time together? Why don't we ever speak to each other?

This morning I read a devotional by Renee Swope of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I could completely relate to what she wrote. Here is a little bit of it...

Do you ever catch yourself checking email repeatedly?

Yes! Yes I do! (this is me speaking...)

One morning, I checked my email as soon as I woke up. Then I made breakfast and checked it again. Had my devotional time and checked it again. Ran some errands and when I got home, checked it once more.

Now I admit, I have a thing about keeping white space in my inbox, but this was about more than managing emails.

I was going back for a reason. I sensed the Holy Spirit nudging me to pause and ask myself, "Why do you keep checking your email?"

I sat there and let my heart respond honestly. I wasn't sure if it was God or me answering, but my thoughts intertwined with His Spirit whispered: You keep coming back because your heart longs for connection with a friend.

Yet no matter how many times I checked email, it was never enough to satisfy my craving.

This is so me. I was thinking how with technology these days and the of rise social networking, it would seem that we have more ways to connect. Through facebook, we can find that long lost friend from 2nd grade or family we haven't seen in years. It seems like we should be more connected. So why don't I feel connected? With 223 friends, why do I still feel lonely sometimes?

In reality, I think technology sometimes makes us less connected because it's easier to follow someone on Twitter than to pick up the phone and plan a night out with that same friend who only lives five blocks away. I may know what Bobby Sue is doing because I can check out her status updates but still know very little about how she is actually doing because we never get together for that casual lunch, etc. I am so guity of this. Virtual reality.

My good friend, Joy and I have started getting together for lunch one Friday a month since we work near each other. I have it on my outlook calendar so I don't forget. Sure, we're friends on facebook and I can see what she's up to and look at her pictures of all the cool things she does. I enjoy that part of our friendship as well. But what I enjoy the most is when we get together in real life. Sometimes we'll also get together and take the kids to the library, etc but if life gets in the way, I know we'll still have that last Friday of the month to catch up again. That's because we are friends. Not virtual friends. Real friends. When we get together we can laugh and tell stories and also share thoughts of encouragement that just isn't the same through email. Every time we leave we always say, "This was so fun. We need to do this more often." It's just different than chatting with someone on email.

Renee Swope continued in her devotional...

My heart was craving more. God had revealed the source of my incessant email checking and shown me that I needed to fill the lonely place in my spirit with friends I could talk to and share life with - in person.

It was just what I needed: face-to-face, heart-to-heart, eye-to-eye connection and conversation.

I know friendships are not easy to build. They take time. And time is limited with lives that keep us so busy. But in this age of technology, it's important to evaluate things in our lives that create a false sense of connection like email, television, text messaging, and overboard activities.

Although these things are fine in moderation, they can't substitute real life relationships.

I had thought about deleting my facebook account. But then I felt like I would be swinging the pendulum to the other extreme. I think it's about finding balance.

Lord, I pray that I would allow You to fill the empty places where I am longing for connection. And I pray that you would help me to build friendships and real connections here around me and not give up meeting together, especially as the last days draw closer. I have always found it easier to connect through virtual reality than through real life connections... I pray that those scales would begin to balance themselves without extremes to either side and always with You, Lord as the center balancing agent. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Confidentiality vs Secrecy

"If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds." 2 John 1: 10-11

What is the difference between confidentiality and secrecy? This is the question that was posed to a group I met with earlier this week. Very thought provoking. I love thought provoking questions. As we talked about it, here were some of the things I came up with as the wheels on the bus continued to go round and round in my mind:

"A secret is more toxic with the ability to hurt someone." I was thinking of things like gossip and rumors. "Hey did you hear about..." I guess that was partially right. But what makes a secret toxic? Are all secrets toxic? What about when a couple finds out about the sex of their unborn baby and decides to keep it a secret from their friends and family until the baby is born. Would that really be considered toxic? Hmm... not really.

So then I came up with, "A secret is more one sided with person A telling a secret to person B and saying that person B cannot tell anyone. Sharing something in confidence is more agreed upon as a topic to discuss only between a certain number of people and not to be shared outside those boundaries." Well, that's partially right too, I suppose. But what about if a church member goes to talk to their pastor about cheating on their spouse. What is the pastor's responsibility then? Do they hold it in confidence, knowing the spouse not present has no idea what's happening? Or do they break confidence in effort to bring the actions to light? Is there a right answer to that question?

I think I also came up with a few more answers to the question but as I was sitting at work today, I came up with the "Aha!!!" answer.

I am in charge of timekeeping for about 120 employees at work. Sometimes as I am logging employee time away, I notice that certain employees commonly call in "sick" the day before their scheduled vacation or the day they are supposed to return. It is annoying but there is not a lot I can do about it other than log it in their timekeeping records and notify their direct supervisor if I notice a pattern of things like this happening often.

Yesterday I took the day off and spent the day at a water park with a good friend of mine. It was great fun. Today when I returned to work, I was going through the call-offs from yesterday and I started thinking. What if I had been at the water park yesterday and saw a co-worker there and then returned to work today to find that they had called in "sick." What would I do? I would probably wish that I hadn't seen them so that I could remain in ignorance. But if I really had seen them, I would have to document it.

I continued to develop the story in my mind. What if I not only saw them at the water park, what if they saw me as well and asked me not to say anything when I went back to work? What if they asked me to keep it a secret? What would I do in that instance?

That's when I realized what the difference between a secret and holding something in confidence is. If I kept the secret, I would now be sharing with that person in their deception. I would be just as guilty for not saying anything as the person who lied and called in sick.

A good friend of mine left her church recently when she and her husband started noticing subtle inconsistencies in the preaching as compared to Biblical Truth. Things that sounded good but didn't seem to line up Biblically. For those who did not know the Bible real well, they probably didn't even notice. The words sounded sweet. But it turned bitter in my friends' stomachs. Something just didn't seem quite right. It was not a small, dying church. Outwardly, it looked very much alive. They had all the latest modern technology, programs, recovery groups, etc. But inwardly, they were dead. My friend's husband went to speak to the pastor about it, hoping it wasn't true. Hoping that it was just a misunderstanding. However, the pastor only became defensive and the Sunday following preached in a diaper, a sermon about not complaining and mentioned my friends in his message, although not by name.

Could they have chosen to stay at the church? Sure. They had a lot of friends there. There were many programs. However, if they had chosen to stay after knowing what they knew, they would have been partners in the deception.

Sometimes ignorance really does seem like bliss. Choosing to see certainly won't make us popular. But it will lead to the road of righteousness. As Christians, we will have to make a lot of difficult choices. In Acts 5 when Sapphira chose not to reveal her husband's deception that she was fully aware of, she dropped dead. The Bible said that it was her husband who kept back part of the proceeds from selling a possession. But because she was aware of it and kept his secret, she became as guilty as he was for not taking a stand against sin.

Am I saying that we should choose to wear blinders so that we won't be held accountable for sin? Absolutely not. If we choose to be blind, then we may be easily led astray by false teaching. The Bible says we are to be self controlled and alert because our enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

So this is what I have decided as my answer to the question posed in the group earlier. A secret = Your silence is taken as agreement if you don't speak up.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Childlike Faith

"For everyone who asks receives..." Matthew 7:8

My friend, Lisa is down visiting from Canada this week. Last night we made plans to go out to dinner at my favorite pizza place on the beach. We made quick plans over the phone as I was getting ready to leave to pick her up at her condo on the beach and I told her I would give her a call when I was getting close so that she could come down.

I made my way down towards the beach with my boys in the back seat. As we were crossing the causeway towards the hotel, I reached in my purse to grab my phone to give Lisa a ring to let her know we were almost there. I reached around and all I felt was an empty pocket where my cell phone usually is.

At this point, I wasn't sure what to do. Should I go back home and get the phone? Should I keep going and hope that she eventually gets tired of waiting for me and comes downstairs on her own?

I said out loud, "Oh, no I don't know where my phone is."

My oldest replied from the back seat, "Jesus knows where it is, mommy."

"That's right. Jesus does know where it is," I answered. "Maybe if we just keep going, Jesus can tell Lisa to come downstairs since we can't call her. Do you want to pray and ask Jesus to tell her?"

He did. His simple prayer went like this, "Dear Jesus, please tell Lisa to come downstairs. Amen."

At that, I don't think he even gave it another thought. If he asked Jesus to tell her, Jesus would tell her. Oh, if my own faith could be like that of a child sometimes!

As we pulled into the parking lot of the resort, I thought maybe there would be an office where I could go in and ask for the number to her room. But I didn't see anything. All I saw was a parking garage area underneath and a little driveway around the back of the hotel. I thought maybe if I followed the driveway, I might find an office. I didn't find an office but I did find an open parking space right on the end before the parking lot stopped at the water.

As I sat there wondering what to do next, I looked up and saw Lisa's dad on one of the balconies, as he was staying at the condo as well. I started shouting up, "Allen!!!" He looked down and saw me and I yelled up that I had forgotten my cell phone at home and asked him if he would let Lisa know that I was there.

As we sat and waited for Lisa, I turned around and saw my smiling six year old in the back seat. Jesus had answered his prayer. It was awesome! I loved being able to experience that with my kids.

Actually, it turned out after Lisa got in the car, that my phone had been there the whole time. It had just fallen out of my purse and onto the passenger seat. I'm glad that it did because it gave us a chance to see faith in action!