Hey You!

Huni and I have moved and ever since we planned on doing so, it’s been a struggle for me to get myself to this computer and practice discipline, sit down and write!  But it’s been some of the things that have happened as a result of our move that have driven me here with laptop aptly placed in lap . . . writing.  Life can be like that sometimes.

Huni was born and raised in a small town that he has always dearly loved.  There’s not much to this place, but he holds fond, dear memories of his childhood here and it means a great deal to him.  Over the years we have seen it decline.  I used to visit fairly often when we were dating and even I’ve noticed the changes within the last ten years.  And they haven’t been all bad, but it’s been mostly a pretty depressing, slow decline to the quality of life of the people who live there.  Job opportunities have become a “search and find” of sorts, the local schools often get more complaints and poor grades rather support and top performing students, crime is on the rise, drugs are still deeply effecting the youth and it’s not hard to see which ones of them are held firmly in its grasp, the churches are in desperate need of leadership and spirit filled truth tellers and the people just want more altogether.  So Huni decided that we should gather all of our things and move our whole life here.  To help.  (staring off blankly, blinking eyes rapidly)  I’ll save the conversation about all that happened to get us here for another post, but let me just say that no matter how ill-equipped or incompetent I felt in this calling, God’s grace was and is on us for such a time as this.

We have some pretty huge goals for this town, some things that we are believing God to use us to initiate–whether He uses us to actually do the work or to encourage and assist others in doing it.  So far we’ve started three small group bible studies; Huni meets with a group of men and I meet with a group of women and a “group” of teen girls (more on that “group” of teen girls later!).  I know that ministry is no joke, but I never knew that it was going to be this blasted hard!!  And right now, as we prepare to transition into our space, we are living with Huni’s parents.  (swallows hard, takes deep breath, then stares off blankly, blinking eyes rapidly)  :0)  I have to say, since I got married, I have always been one of the most blessed married women I know because of the man God gave me, his family of origin, and my relationship with them.  It’s the real deal.  I love them as if they are my own and we, honestly, have no issues.  But even as much as I love my mommy, the one whose womb nurtured me for some months and who raised me and helped shape me into the woman I am today–I am in no hurry to return to her home as my temporary residence!!   And I do dearly love my parents that my Huni gave to me, buuuuuut. . . .you get the picture . . .  :0)

SO, I’ve been stretched, changed, and gone through the whole gamut of emotions.  And I’ve only been here a month and a half.  And I know that it’s only just begun.  (staring . . .blinking . . .)

But there is just a sweetness to belonging to God.  He just knows me, and He takes the time to let me know that I am known and seen and loved and watched over and cared for.  He’s using Huni, my children, my parents, my circle of sister-frans and the women in this community to reinforce that just when I need it.

This week has been a hard one.  I know, it’s only Tuesday.  But that’s what I’m saying.  It’s only Tuesday and already I’m like WHOA.  But I got a really sweet email from one of the women in the women’s group named Michelle.  I wanted to share part of my response to her to give you a glimpse of what’s already happening here.  Hope it blesses you and glorifies Him.

Miss meeting with you here in this space.  But I think I’ve found my groove again ;0)

Michelle,

     I don’t even know how to start this email!  I’m a very emotional girl.  Always have been.  My mom says that when she was pregnant with me, she spent most of her time crying and going through.  I’ve used that to help explain why I cry so much now and why I spent the better part of my first 16 years of life being so tenderhearted, and crying at the drop of a hat!  All of that to say, it doesn’t take much to get my tears to fall.  They lie in wait at the first chance to release themselves.  They used to be a permanent part of my face but I am truly, so very grateful that I now understand what it means to have the JOY of the Lord as my strength.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t cry, it just means that I receive His joy as I understand His purposes for my WHOLE life, not just the parts I like and am proud of.  But you’re right, I have experienced a great deal of pain and it is still present with me.
     I recently had the privilege of going through some counseling at the church E and I were members of when we lived in Raleigh.  Michelle.  It changed my life.  But it opened up some wounds that, for the longest time, I didn’t even want to admit were there.  Our childhoods, most often, shape our lives.  Through the power of God, who trades beauty for ashes, all of those things that happened to us in our youth, no matter how ugly or destructive they seemed, show up beautifully on us.  Just like we discussed last night when we talked about the long obedience in the same direction–being able to say yes however many times it takes, and say no however many times it takes–I have had to work consistently to change my thoughts in order to believe that everything that has happened to me is showing up beautifully on me.  I ran away from it for so long because of the shame attached to it. And the “it” that I am referring to is so many things, including but not exclusive to most of the things you mentioned that you’ve dealt with.  I’m still gaining the strength and wisdom to tell my whole story and not allow Satan to pull me back into the shame that kept me hidden and afraid for so many years.  It’s women like you who put their whole selves forward that God uses to really encourage and strengthen me to do the same.  
     This study is just as much for me, as it is for all of you.  I know that the Lord called me to it, but He called me not just to use me, but continue to make me whole and holy.  It’s like I told you before, every email you send me, and every text, they make me braver and strengthen me just a little bit more every time.
     What I want in this season of my life is to attain true freedom in Christ.  I want to understand His word in such a way that it frees me up and gives me power to walk like a woman who is free, understands the word of God and the role it plays in her life, and who understands her purpose.  All of the pieces are coming together–the hurt, the pain, the laughs, the joy, the sadness, the accomplishments, the mistakes, the downfalls, the slip-ups . .  all of it . . . and it’s all showing up beautifully on me.  In Jesus’s name. 
 
pamela t.

Wednesdays with Beth: The Calling pt. 2

I’m often reminded of Esther when I think about God’s providence and His call on our lives.  I recently finished Beth Moore’s study on Esther and it was just . . . rich!!  Seriously rich and inspiring in personal life application, seeing God’s providence in my own life and moving into His call on my life.  So, I am enjoying hearing her perspective in this format on God’s call and adding to my level of wisdom as I move forward.

Last Wednesday, August 1, Life Today aired part two of Beth Moore’s speaking series on the call of God on our lives.  This week we get a chance to catch up, in case we missed it, and see that same video again.  You can view it here .  And if you missed the first video check it out here.

Enjoy!!

Genesis 3:1

So, this year must be THE year to get married!  Who knew!?!  I have several family members and friends who have agreed and set a date to enter into covenant with another person this year.  In 2012 I am a part of 5 weddings.  Yep, 5.  The first two of five weddings have already occurred with the most recent being one of my little brothers, thus my mysterious silence for the past two weeks.  The first was for a dear Fran of mine from college.  She’s probably one of the sweetest people I know and I was so honored that she has cherished our relationship through the years so much that she would desire to enter into this covenant with my prayers and support.  So, I figured I’d share what I’ve been up to by sharing some of what happened with the weddings!

My Fran, Ayana, and her husband J.R.were married in Charleston, SC on July 7, 2012 at the Charleston Aquarium.  She had a short, sweet ceremony with the Charleston Harbor as the backdrop.  Even though there we were in the middle of the fierce July Charleston heat, there was a cool breeze blowing off from the water, at times so strong that we had to anchor ourselves or be blown away by more than just the love and beauty of it all!  So, here are a few flicks from the day:

So pretty, right?  And again:

Planning a wedding can be so stressful.  And my dear Fran Ayana has waited a long time to meet her special someone, fall in love, don a beautiful gown and mark the start of their lives together forever with a beautiful day.  It was so good to see her smiling and having such a good time that day.

My huni and I had a good time as well.  I was a bridesmaid and that can keep you pretty busy but I was able to hook up with him and have some fun taking a few flicks, being our fabulous, zany selves.  There we are!  The fierce bridesmaid and her hot boo!  (I wanted to write, “the fierce bridesmaid and her fierce boo,” but I figured he might have a problem with me using the adjective “fierce” to describe him . . . .)  :0)

     

Another fun, fun, fun part of the weekend was hooking up with all of the other bridesmaids.  You can tell a woman by her Frans, and Ayana is just so abundantly blessed because she has some WONDERFUL women flowering her life!!

A couple of the women that Ayana chose as bridesmaids, turned out to be women I knew from undergrad–which is where Ayana and I met.  We went to different schools but we were in the same campus ministry and met at a retreat. (this same organization is also where I met my huni!)  So there were some women there who were a part of the ministry, a woman there who I actually went to undergrad with and had no idea that she even knew Ayana and there was a woman there who attends the same church that I do and we had never met until she came to my house for the bridal shower that we had for Ayana!  Craziness!  Sweet, sweet, craziness!

I was also able to see another of my good Frans, Quiana, who was there to witness the union between Ayana and JR.  Please send prayers up for Qui.  She’s getting married in September and if you’re married, ever planned a wedding, or anything associated with the two, you know how pressing and full this time can be.  I’m praying joy, grace, favor, peace, and love for her and her fiance, Josiah, during this time and beyond.  Please agree with me on her behalf.

SO here are the last few flicks of the girls and me:

   

   

Good, good times.  Really.  We had so much fun.  Sweet love, new friendships, good food, dancing, laughing, woooo!  It doesn’t get any better than that!!

Just about a week ago my little brother took a lady by the hand, said some originally written vows, poured out his love and decided to spend his happily ever after with Mrs. Brendalyn Thompson.  The two were married July 28 in Durham, NC and had a nice, contemporary wedding true to their own unique style.  We were all swept away by their ceremony and danced the night away with the happy couple.  I didn’t get to take as many pictures of this event but I definitely wanted to share the few that I have:

Boooooooooooooooooooooooom!!  It’s official!!  Wooooop Woooooop!!!

Big, sincere, loud, congratulations from my heart to both couples.

Seeing two people unite and decide to share their lives together can be one of the most beautiful events to enjoy.  It is sentimental on so many different levels as it is an incredibly important and big decision for any one person to make.  Almost every woman I know wants this.  She wants someone with whom to share all of her life, for the rest of her life.  It’s a holy thing, marriage.  It’s a covenant.  It’s one of God’s many dwelling places and it is an instant ministry through the testimony that it offers its witnesses.  Everyone is watching.  Everyone.  Including our enemy.  It’s no small wonder marriage is so hard.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh.

22 And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man.

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.

3 Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? (Genesis 2:21-3:1)

Ever since Huni pointed it out to me, it has done nothing less than intrigued me that after the man and woman are united, free, naked and not embarrassed, having forsaken all others, moving in complete oneness and in agreement . . . we meet the serpent.  And from the moment he enters the picture, he begins his evil regime to steal, kill and destroy like only he can.

We know what he’s all about so I won’t give him any more shine than that.  I’ll simply say this: After we’ve cried with the couple, laughed with them and celebrated their decision, they really need our prayers.  Actually from the moment we learn of their intention of courtship and all throughout the life of the marriage, they need our prayers!  They need for us to hold them up and support them by speaking truth, kind words, and pouring into and onto them goodness, love and mercy as they move through life together knowing who their enemy is.  And Frans, he is tireless.  So should be our prayers.

Please pray that people would honor God in their marriages, their families and their lives together.  Every time you want to open your mouth to criticize or critique another person’s marriage, pray.  Submit yourself and your loved ones to Christ and trust Him to do the necessary work in you and them.  Don’t let satan use you to disrupt God’s work–whether you agree with it or not.  And Frans, I am talking to myself here!  Wooo!

There are times when Huni and I get into it and at just about that moment when I am about to totally let my flesh have her way, spotlight, microphone, music and all, I get a glimpse of satan, reclined, knocking back root beer floats, eating hot buttered popcorn enjoying the show.  And I come to a screeching halt———MAD, because I forgot who the real enemy is–it’s not huni.  It’s satan.  How quickly we forget.

We need each others prayers and support.  Please choose to participate in giving God glory, not in helping satan fool us all.

Marriage Letters: On Our Anniversary

Oh, Huni.

Seven years.  Wow.  Seven years ago today we trotted our little scared but in love selves down that wide aisle, ready to give ourselves away all for the chance to love each other the rest of our lives.  We had no idea what our tomorrow would look like but we were sure that no matter what the view, we wanted to see it together.

Remember that wave of fear that rushed over us when we stepped into the vestibule, after we said I do and you planted a big one on me?  Emmanuel!  We were sooooooo scared!  Who’d a thunk it?  And I’m not even sure why.  Those few moments alone, without all the hustle and bustle of making  preparations for the wedding, without the swarm of family and friends excitedly supporting and anticipating the union, all we had was ourselves and all this love that was supposed to get us from there to eternity.

We have since learned that love, as great and important as it is, is not enough.  You need my respect as well as my love and I have learned that the more I love you and respect you, the more I participate in the Lord’s work of making you the man that He’s purposed for you to become.  I apologize for all the ways that I have not loved you and the times that I allowed myself to think that I knew better at the risk of disrespecting you.  I’m really sorry, Emmanuel.  Our marriage is a big deal to me but I am only now opening up to allow God to heal all the broken bits of my heart and while He’s doing major surgery on me (which is probably going to last a lifetime) I’ll have these bouts of hard-to-love-me and hard-to-see-my-love. It’s a side effect of brokenness.  But I’m in the fray.  And I ain’t going nowhere.  And I’m grateful to have a partner who’s as committed to this thing as I am.

So. Here we are.  Seven years later.  No longer afraid,well, at least not for the same reasons that were there seven years ago. . .

You’re my gift.  I get so humbled when I think about my little girl self and see the woman that I am today.  God is so great.  He’s so good, so incredibly sweet to me to have built me to be a woman of great strength, wisdom, and power in my own right and then put a little polish on me when he gave me you.  I’m a movement by myself but I’m a force when we’re together.  ;0)

I’ll take this seventh anniversary as a chance to tighten my grip on your hand as we  move from waltzing to marching into our purpose.  And the beauty of it is that in this season, we’re a great deal clearer about what it is and how to do it.  SO here, we go!  So excited to see what this next chapter brings.

loving loving you,

pamela t.

Wednesdays with Beth: Filled to the Measure

It’s Wednesday so that means we get to tune in to Life Today and hear what the Lord is speaking to us through Mrs. Beth Moore.  If you watch the program regularly and have done so for a time, you may have already seen this one before.  I have seen this one and the story she tells in it has been referenced by others who have seen it.  But this video still came right on time for me.

God’s sovereignty and providence is sure.

I had an experience just last week that just seemed so weird but, in the moment, I was so sure that I was being prompted by the Holy Spirit to be obedient to the things He was speaking to my heart.  I wrestled with myself and the personal cost of my obedience all the way up until Monday for sure and then finally, I just decided to let it go and trust God to confirm for me if I had indeed heard Him or if I was just a loon.  And with just the seed planted in my mind that I had misheard and was wrong, acting crazy and unable to hear from the Lord, satan had a field day and really put in work to discourage me.  But God is so faithful, Frans!!!  I know that I have some readers who are not Christian and to them all of this talk compels them to think, “No ma’am, you actually are quite loony.”  But something happens when we engage God through His holy spirit, allow His words to abide in us and we respond to the call. . .   We get to participate in the divine.

Check this out:  http://lifetoday.org/video/filled-to-the-measure-3

Been worshiping to this song since we sang it during church service on Sunday.  One of my faves from Hillsong.  Hope it blesses you.

The Marriage Letters are Coming Back!

So, just a few weeks ago, I went to a bridal shower given in honor of a new Fran, Ms. Jessica Orr.  It was really my pleasure and delight to spend time with her while some of the women she loves gathered to celebrate her.  She’s a sweet, funny, pretty, cRaZy woman who loves Jesus, likes to be called Jecca, and who cannot wait to marry this dear man she’s fallen in love with, Mr. Colton Janes.

There she is, kissing some other man . . . :0)

We sat talking and laughing, like ladies do at bridal showers, and she told me that she’d been on the blog.  She said that she really enjoyed the marriage letters and that she and her husband-to-be wanted to try and write marriage letters to each other once married.  :0)  So sweet, I thought to myself, and I was really encouraged that she felt so inspired by the letters.

Many of my Frans and readers have commented to me about the letters and so I thought that it would be a great idea to bring them back.  Huni and I really enjoyed them and they sparked a great deal of reflection and communication between the two of us.  Much of the hope that the originator, Amber Haines from therunamuck.com, hoped for the letters have come to pass in our marriage and others who’ve read the letters posted here.

Next Monday is our anniversary and, I felt, a great time to bring them back.  So, there it is!  The Marriage Letters are coming back!  Talking with my Fran, Rey, this weekend I got some good ideas about some topics to start me off, but I’d love to hear from any of you as well about some topics for the marriage letters.   Please leave your ideas in the comments.  For those of you who prefer, you can email me:  mrs.pthompson@gmail.com.

For more information on the marriage letters series, where it came from and why I joined and am excited to do it again, check out www.therunamuck.com, which is where I first got the idea and linked up every Monday in April, and also check the category titled “marriage letters” here on pamelluce for the letters previously written.

Five Minute Friday: Risk

I’m joining The Gypsy Mama over at lisajobaker.com for Five Minute Friday today, where Lisa-Jo invites bloggers to “write for five minutes without worrying about getting it right.”  That’s right.  I had five minutes to write about a topic she pre-selects, today it was “risk,” without over thinking, spell checking, correcting, re-reading, all of that stuff.  yikes.  So, I had up one post and I followed all the rules as I wrote it but then  I had another thought so I scrapped the first, set my timer and wrote the post below.   Here’s my first attempt, which turned out to be more like ten minute Friday since I scrapped the first try.  :0/  Mercy, Frans.  :0)  Check out the post and then hop over to the site and see how some of the other bloggers are pondering and writing about risk.

START

We all knew that it was a healing service.  And we had been told just the day before that we needed to “get our faith up” because if we wanted to see God do anything miraculous, it would require our faith, for His word does indeed say that without faith it is impossible to please God.

As I sat in my seat, I could only imagine what were the needs of the people gathered there around me.  I knew that I was coming searching for healing for the broken places in my mind and in my heart but what were the other needs?  Was there a lame man who would dare to trust God to give his legs back their mobility, right there for all of us to see?  Was there a blind man?  A bleeding woman?  What would we see that night?  Who would dare take the risk to trust Him?  And is there really any risk when you are dealing with the things of the divine?

To my surprise, there were many.  And yes, there was a man who was was not lame but he had a crippled walk.  All throughout the service, I heard him and I watched Him.  Sitting there, in his wheelchair, he worked to get his faith up.  He came for something that night and the risk of going back home with it cost more than giving his whole self to God.  Frans, he got up out of that chair, and out loud he called the devil a liar.  And he walked across the floor.  And He stared risk right in the face and said, “Lord, I trust you.  Make me to walk.”

STOP

Oh For Shame . . .

I’ve been doing the Esther study written by my Fran, Beth Moore.  ;0) In the week three video session, she says this:

“One of the most important parts of fulfilling your destiny will be your transparency.”

Now, I loves me some Beth Moore, but I was quite irritated when I heard her say this.  In a room full of other women eager to hear the word of God, I wanted to shout, “Hey Siesta, mind your own business!”  :0/  I was just so frustrated that the Lord would be using her to, once again, make me uncomfortable with the covering I had afforded myself adapted by and from shame.  ugh.

Has anybody out there ever struggled with being ashamed of themselves other than me?

Those of you nodding your head yes, know the things that we do to try to make ourselves feel better and look better.  But it never works.  God is authentic and He came that we may have life and have it to the full (see John 10:10).  Operating under illegitimate shame cannot work in tandem with His work for us to have an abundant life.

But hold on!  Help is on the way!

There are two kinds of shame: legitimate shame and illegitimate shame.

“Legitimate shame is the same inner experience as biblical humbling.  It is the recognition of our state as desperate and our response to our rebellious condition as deplorable, deserving condemnation and death. . . Legitimate shame, in other words, always leads to a sense of being lifted up by God to possess what is surprising, unnerving, and undeserved. . .Shame is experienced before the one I’ve entitled or given the right to judge me.  Ultimately, that is the prerogative of  God alone.  To give that privilege–in essence, the opportunity to bestow or retract life–to anyone other than God is idolatry.  This concept helps clarify further the difference between legitimate and illegitimate shame.“~Dr. Dan B. Allender

If you have sinned, repent, receive God’s forgiveness, and move toward Him.  Do not take direction from our great ancestors, Adam and Eve,  who sought cover through fig leaves and hid from Him (Genesis 3:7-8).  Satan knows what he’s doing.  When he can convince you to walk around with a lowered head, feeling less than who God says you are, and living beneath what God has for you, not operating in your destiny nor getting any closer to it, he’s won.

We serve such a loving God.  Even after Adam and Eve sinned, God was there to correct and deal with the sin but He was also there to provide.  He got rid of those pitiful fig leaves and “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)”   Every attempt we make to act independently of God will render us pitiful.  Whatever your fig leaves are, drop ’em.  Let Him clothe you in His love.

Photo found on Google, from http://rockthenations.deviantart.com/art/sadness-64267947

Anything?

Saw this today in my email from (in)courage.  Got me thinking . . .

Check it out.

Jennie Allen was also featured on Life Today with James and Betty Robison today.  Today she spoke about her bible study Stuck and she had some very relevant insights.

Today was the first that I had heard of Jennie Allen but her current project, Anything, really spoke to me and I thought that you may enjoy it too.

Risky prayer to pray, “God, I’ll do anything.  I’ll give you anything . . . even the very thing of which I am most afraid.”

Or is it?

Are you desperate enough for God to pray that prayer?