God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. . . You've always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all...... And I'll be the poet who sings Your glory!
Psalm 61:1, 3, 8 The Message
This summer Hillary Scott (and family) released a new album called Love Remains! If you follow country music you know Hillary as part of Grammy-winning Lady Antebellum. The single from the album "Thy Will" brings you to a place of surrender, a place where God abides even in the crisis, prevails even through the grief, comforts even with not understanding. God's goodness is greater than any disappointments. I hope you will take a long listen, and maybe a few more listens as you find those tender places of life and a God who loves!
My devotional this morning offered words that bring comfort and resolution, even when difficulty kidnaps my joy, even when disappointment holds my heart hostage. Warren Wiersbe writes, "God always writes the last chapter." God's goodness and love, His power and provision find us even beside the shadows of doubt or inside the embrace of grief or outside the borders of loneliness. He abides with us throughout all the chapters of our stories. The last chapter includes His Glory forever more. Now that's a great ending! - dho
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
This fall our Women's Ministry is taking a group to the Belong Tour when it comes to Charlotte, NC, in November. I get emails with updates called "Belong Buzz". (You can sign up for them, too, on the BelongTour.com website!) Within these emails are encouraging blog postsand other tidbits of information. I'd like to share one of the blog posts this week from Amy Potts titled, "You're Beautiful". (see her bio at the end of this post)
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.” Is this not so true? I believe that resting inside each of us is a beauty that is waiting to be released. It’s a beauty that only you possess. It’s the smile you give a stranger. It’s the warm hello you offer to a coworker in passing. It’s the acts of kindness that you perform even when you feel anything but kind. Deep inside you there is something; someone very beautiful. Amy Potts(excerpt from her post)
Writer/Musician/Photographer/Barefoot Preacher Amy Potts says she has “so many things for which I’m grateful.” These include husband Mike, is (cheerleader and best friend in all things), Chloe the Corgi and Carlos the Cat. A native “Iowegian” transplanted in Kansas to learn and grow, Amy’s message is and always will be about encouraging others. “When one person finds hope, they have been given a gift worth sharing.” When she’s not writing you can find Amy out in the country or in her favorite park, hiking and seeing the world through the lens of her camera, which is “always calming and inspiring and ultimately what spurs me to write the next post.”
Matt and Angela Morgan, along with their three delightful children, are serving as dorm parents at French Camp Academy. They must merge supervision with spiritual truth, discipline with disappointment, compassion with chaos. Words like "sacrifice" and "obedience" and immense dependence on God's guidance fill their moments. In this last sharing of the mission experience in MS, I leave you with insights that Matt and Angela shared with us. Angela is featured in a video on French Camp's website. Her story brings a depth as she, too, was once a student and graduate of FCA.
As we listened, Matt and Angela share their FCA experiences during our devotional time. Themes of betrayal and brokenness, emotional and physical pain, heartbreak and hope filled their stories. Carl asked both of them to share a time when their hearts had been broken. Matt told of a girl in their family unit leaving FCA and Angela of a broken relationship after investing much to establish a bond. Sacrifice - real sacrifice - continues to be a choice, a struggle, a stark reality for the entire family. For the FCA girls of "His Way Home" emptiness and anger frequently compete with desperate needs to feel loved and learn what love really means.
One of the lessons that Angela explained is "Rules without relationships = rebellion." The Morgan's believe their mission is "to live like a family as God intends and to model that for others." They spend much time and energy building relationships and modeling what a healthy family looks like. The girls in their home come from broken places and dysfunctional families. Too often rebellion raises its head. Pain from emotional abandonment and physical abuse reveal hardened hearts and trust issues. Consistently showing kindness and love sometimes softens hearts, however, too often they stay trapped in their brokenness. There are success stories, too! The phone calls after graduation, team building and service projects that put the focus on someone else, and typical family things like birthday celebrations bring hope. Angela had one girl say to her, "You are the first person that ever told me the truth." Stories about rebellion and relationship, stories about restoration and refreshment have filled these days!
During our stay, we had two opportunities to share dinner with different sets of dorm parents. Sitting around the Morgan's generous table, laughter came as easily as their dedication to serve French Camp Academy. There was joy and honesty in the breaking of bread. As we gathered in the living room together for devotions this final evening, reflections of FCA staff and their optimism and willingness to serve was recognized and appreciated. Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! Truly, French Camp Academyis One Fine Place! -dho
Rollers and brushes and lots of strokes covered the walls throughout the morning. Conversations flowed easily into the empty room, a sharing of life experiences and campus life. I found myself thinking back to something Angela said last night, "Sometimes, even though so much is happening here, this can feel like a spiritual desert. You (Snyder team) may have thought you came to do painting and construction projects, but the refreshment of community you have brought to us is your greatest gift."
Matt and Angela Morgan and their three children are missionaries. Although not in a foreign country, their obedience to God's call brings its own sacrifices. We listen as they share their call and experiences, disappointments and joys, hopes and realities. We hear the cost of discipleship and the immeasurable rewards. Each night one of our team would lead us in a time of devotion. Carl (Broadhurst) said during devotion, "God is at work, and we are called to work where God is at work." Including the Morgan children in this time, he reminded them that God had called their parents but they, too, were serving. A little worn and weary from the day's work, we find joy in knowing we are working where God is at work!
Rollers and brushes and ladders take action. Renovations requiring caulking and wiring, floors that need sweeping and vacuuming find willing hands. Pressure washing refreshes surfaces. Hammers and saws and nails repair. All the tasks may seem to be the main reason for this trip. Yes, they are purposeful, but seeing God revealed through the work, through the relationships becomes the greatest outcome.