Why I Can’t not

When I was 2 years old, my family moved to Thailand for the purpose of taking the Gospel of Christ to a lost nation. My parents, along with their 5 children, ages 2 to 12, took a spiritual son as well, Bobby Nishimoto. He was in his early 20’s and shared my Dad’s vision to take the message of hope to an unreached nation.  The move there was not easy on my parents nor was life there. After only a short time in Thailand, my dad became very ill. Though sick, my dad pushed through to get the ministry of printing Gospel tracts going.  Soon my family was forced to return to the states as my father was dying.  We did so but without Bobby.  That was more than 50 years ago and to this day Bobby remains in Thailand sharing Christ with the people that he now considers his own.  A number of years ago, I became aware that he no longer had the base financial support from the church that had “sent him out” and that many of his individual supporters had died with no one to replace them.  My heart broke that a man who had given everything for the cause of the Gospel would have to worry about how he was going to pay bills!  The burden was heavy and I knew that I must do something to help. My husband and I determined how much we could give a month and  I reached out to people who knew Bobby asking them to consider giving.  I gained a little traction, but not enough.  I had to do more.  There was no room in my life for a typical J.O.B. but I was determined. Lord, what could I do?

Insert here a phone call from my dear friend, Gail McWilliams.  She called me on a Monday morning at 9:00 a.m.  Funny how you remember details like that when your life is about to change!  She began telling me about a business opportunity to partner with her selling skincare. Out of respect for my friend, I didn’t laugh at her, but I wanted to!  “I’m honored you wanted me to join you, Gail, but it’s not for me.”  Direct Sales ~ Network Marketing – uh…….NO.  I told her I would gladly be her customer as I really did like the product she sold.  She wasn’t happy with that answer and brought her business partner on the phone call.  She was a very sharp, kind and polished gal who made some very valid points about the opportunity, but I wasn’t convinced at all.  They asked me to pray about it and get back with them.  That was easy enough as I figured I knew the answer.  Because I told them I would, I prayed, then He spoke.  “This is a tool I can use for you to send support to Bobby.” What God?  Really?  Network Marketing? Skincare?  Oh man…….. Are you SURE God???   My husband agreed with God and over 4 years later, it’s what motivates me to keep going.  Knowing that He put the compassion and desire in my heart and then gave me the tool to do it is WHY I do it!

Bobby could say, “I’ve served 50+ years. I’ve paid my dues. I’ve done my part. I deserve to rest now.  Time for others to pick up the baton.”  But he doesn’t.  He continues to share the Gospel in the place God led him to.  He continues the Kingdom work he and my daddy started together long ago. If he can do that, I can get out of my comfort zone and ask people to consider improving their skin.  I know in my heart that I have a great product to offer, but it’s WAY bigger than that!  I know that the work of a humble man on God’s mission will be supported.  This skincare gig is a tool placed in my hand and Bobby is why I can’t not do it.

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Less Selfie….. pleeeeease

Recently I came across my mom’s diary from her late teens.  There wasn’t a lock on it, so I started reading it.  She was a very good writer and was quite descriptive, especially regarding what she and her friends wore, what they drove and how they smelled.   It was so interesting and really fun reading her entries and gave me unique look into the life of my mom when she was a young woman.  No pictures here – just words. It made me think.   Future generations will be able to google their parents and see pictures – oh so many pictures – of their moms as teenagers standing in front of a mirror posing and pouting for the phone in their hand. Over and over and over they pose and pout. Cleavage, midriffs, perfectly tousled hair, a new tat or piercing in a special place are just a few of the images I’ve seen far too much of in recent years. Add to that pic filtered light just right then cropped down so their messy rooms or public restroom stalls are not as easily seen. And there they are in all their sultry glory, looking so inviting to any who choose to follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or whatever the next social media rage is. Guys do it too.  Posing without a shirt, flexing right after they get pumped up – “swoll” to put it in modern vernacular. Or, pictured with 2 or 3 girls wearing dresses far too small, their sculpted bodies billowing out along with their tongues as if to say “the party starts here” and “this guy is the lucky recipient of our teasing tonight.” Ok, maybe I took it too far, but you get it. I have no doubt you get it.bad-selfie
Could someone tell me, why all the selfies? What’s the point? Do they even think past that click and post as to what they are saying or modeling to the people that see their posts, whether now or later? Possibly, much later?

What would I have done if it were me in their shoes?  I was the last of 5 kids.  My mom was a very busy widow who had a strong tendency to lose herself in her work.  My dad died when I was 3.  God bless my mama.  Thank God she was able to serve in her Dad’s church in the ministry she loved, as I think it kept her from dying of grief.  Mom adored her Daddy and with good reason.  He was a Saint. He was like the living, breathing Jesus that brought us all in line. Not because he forced us, but his very purity demanded it from us. If we were going to be in his presence, without question we would dress appropriately. We wouldn’t want to embarrass him by showing too much skin, which included arms and legs. One of my most memorable moments with Daddy Jack was when I was a Tween and I wore my friends dress to church. This was back in the miniskirt days and I had spent that Sunday afternoon at her house. I was so excited to wear something a little more “in” than the boring clothes and shoes I had worn that Sunday morning. When we arrived, I headed down the back hall of our church to the choir side room (yes, I was in the choir at that age) to grab a robe, which would cover my long skinny legs, though not the too grown up high heels, then onto the platform. I remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach when I looked up to see my pastor grandfather coming my way down that long narrow hall. He happily said, “Lu”, as he dug in his back pocket for his wallet, “here’s $20. Go buy yourself a dress that fits.” I was mortified! I was so sad that I had run into him, and even sadder that I had worn that dress knowing it was way too short. I guess I thought I could just hide under that robe. Did I ever think about having to take that robe off after church and see people, or worse, BE seen BY people? My mom? My Aunts and Uncles? My Grandmother? My older siblings? And the list goes on and on………No. I absolutely did not think that far. So, I suppose, neither do these beautiful and handsome young people, posing and posting, ever give a thought about the long lasting after effects of their quick click. It’s been nearly 40 years since the short dress and $20 but I still remember vividly in my mind the dress, shoes, navy shorts under the dress (so my undies wouldn’t show if the dress inched up!). I remember the quick thinking of my precious grandfather, who most likely wanted to scoop me up and paddle me, but was too embarrassed by how dangerously close to showing my backside I was. These are my mental pictures. Memories. They aren’t posted anywhere but in my mind and in heavens vast theater of moving pictures that document all of our lives. (I don’t have any proof of this last statement, but I sure hope that heaven does have that – showing only the good stuff, of course!)  But for my children, their children and so on, the internet provides real and lasting pictures for any and all to see. The good, the bad and the just plain stupid.
What I wish I could shout to young adults is “T h i n k !” Think about more than just you at this moment. Consider that there may be future generations looking back at what you do and post today.  As my Mom used to say, “There may be something you don’t know.”  Like who will be looking at that in the future!

Proverbs 31:30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

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Naked but Not Ashamed

Today is July 8.  A heartbreaking day for the City Dallas, for those in law enforcement and for our whole nation due to the senseless murders of 5 police officers last night.  Men in blue who were faithfully protecting people who were protesting against them.  The officers were there to do a job that they had committed to do, even if the people they were serving and protecting hated them and wanted them dead.

Today is also a day that the company I work with, Rodan and Fields, has marked as #RFGoNaked day to raise money for a charity called buildOn, that was created to “Help Break The Cycle Of Poverty, Illiteracy & Low Expectations”

As I approach this day, my heart is so heavy for my city, my nation, my fellow-man.  What has happened to us?  I’m thinking about the whole “naked” day as well and if to even participate in it.  As I was pondering these questions, the passage in Genesis 2:25 came to mind, “they were both naked………and were not ashamed.”  Can you imagine being naked and not ashamed?????  Ok, maybe some of you don’t have a problem with being naked, but most people do!  We are embarrassed by things about our bodies that we don’t like, were teased about, or rejected by others because of.  Did you know there is a movement now to help people be naked and not ashamed?  It’s sort of weird, really.  But, they are trying to help people accept their bodies just as they are.  Nice idea, but if you ask me, they are missing the point.

Adam and Eve were unashamed because they were perfect.  What I mean by that is they knew no sin.  They had no need to be covered until sin entered the picture.  Once sin entered, it never left.  We are born in sin – a sinful world, not a perfect, sinless garden.  We need to be covered too.  No, I don’t mean with clothes, although that is highly recommended!  We need to be covered with what only the perfect and sinless One can provide for us, robes of righteousness.  We can’t hide our dirty and hate-filled hearts from the One who judges all hearts.  He sees it and, with time, all will see because our actions will ultimately reflect what is in our hearts.  We can try to hide it, mask it, wish it away, but nothing will erase it except the miraculous work that was done on the cross when the final sacrifice was made and the sinless, spotless, perfect lamb laid down His life on our behalf.  One life for ALL lives.  From that point forward, ALL LIVES are given an opportunity for redemption.  He ALONE redeems. He ALONE restores. He ALONE rebuilds.  He ALONE renews.  He ALONE reforms.  He ALONE reinstates the perfect and pure hearts that He created in the garden. Sin still exists and attempts each day to dirty the heart redeemed, but He just keeps on renewing us day after day, making us new again and again.

Makes me think of when my children were little and they would play outside and get dirty and smelly.  They would come in the house and, guess where we headed?  To the bath to clean up, of course!  I didn’t keep them locked in the house all day so they wouldn’t get dirty!  I knew if they went outside they would need to be cleaned up at the end of the day.  God actually sends us into the world knowing that we too will need to have His cleansing flood wash over us to purify our hearts and minds daily.  We need spiritual baths even more than we need physical baths.  We, like Peter, get a little off-balance sometime thinking that clean bodies, hair, clothes, etc, are more important than a clean heart and mind. Not true.  Jesus said we are to love one another.  We can’t love if we also hate.  We can’t have a divided heart. A purified heart loves.  One who loves serves.  One who serves is like Jesus who took on the form of a servant and washed his disciples feet.  (that had to be some pretty stinky and nasty feet!  I’ve wondered if he gagged a little.  Just being honest.)  John 13:5-17

Jesus died so that we would get it.  ALL LIVES really do MATTER.  Why have we forgotten that He died for ALL? Because of sin, lies and the killing of truth. Because of the deception of the enemy of our souls.  Jesus came so that we would have life. Satan came to kill, steal and destroy life.  It’s simple.

Jesus is color blind, but He has x-ray vision. 

He doesn’t see the color of our skin or the masks and labels we wear.  He sees the condition of our hearts.  And, He’s the only ONE who CAN fix it.  As my dear friend Suzy says,

“Fix it Jesus!”

We need Him more than we’ve ever needed Him before.  Let Him wash over you today and purify your heart.  ASK HIM to do what only HE can.  Only Jesus can change our hearts so that we can LOVE like He does.  Pure. Unashamed. Willing to lay down our lives for others.

“And no creature is hidden from His sight, but ALL are NAKED and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”  Hebrews 4:13

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brooke 2015.1As I wind down this day, I have one thing on my mind.  2016 High School graduates.  Life School graduates. Life School Red Oak graduates, to be exact.   Tomorrow, May 28, they will walk the stage and receive their high school diplomas, many of whom have been at Life School Red Oak since the day it opened.  I was there that day in 2003.  I vividly remember walking up to the school that beautiful morning with my kindergartner, Brooke and 2nd grader, Joseph.  Yes, the below photo was taken that morning.  As you can see, their new uniforms were sharp and fresh, and every hair was in place.  They, with shiny new backpacks filled with supplies and the first of many sack lunches, were ready, along with 100’s of other bright-eyed little people. Life school day 1 The foyer was filled with loud and high pitched excitement as children met their teachers and found faces they recognized from Sunday School.  Many parents looked anxious,  some quite harried and even others looked relieved as their “babies” weren’t crying as they had to let go of Mama.  I saw quite a few Mom’s holding in tears themselves as they quickly exited the building.  Hard to believe that tomorrow marks the day of completion for the kindergartners from that particular day.  I imagine the foyer will be just as loud though the voices will be those of, well, adults.  The parents again will have some anxious, harried and relieved feelings and am certain tears will be flowing openly.   I already have tears streaming down my cheeks writing this.   I really have deep emotion for this class.  My baby, Brooke, was part of the 2016 class and would’ve been walking that stage as well, but baby girl chose a different route.  The summer of 2014, prior to her junior year, she decided she wanted to graduate early by condensing down 2 years into one.  She convinced her dad and me that she could do it and, without pomp and circumstance, she quietly completed high school graduating the summer of 2015.  Yep, she did it! brooke's high school diploma And though only 17 years old, she then took off to attend college 5 hours away from home, while her former classmates started their much-anticipated senior year.   She has watched on social media as they celebrated all their “lasts” of high school and enjoyed Homecoming, Prom, award banquets and more.  She’s missed much, but tells me she has no regrets.  She wouldn’t trade the  year of college she has under her belt, which included sharing a small 2 person dorm room, a community bathroom, and chasing down most meals in the school cafeteria.  She’s learned her way around a college campus, a new town and has just landed a summer job.  Brooke won’t walk the stage tomorrow, but this mama heart sees her walking the stage of life with her beautiful head held high and her gracious smile shining.  I’m proud of you Brooke.  I’m also proud that you will be there tomorrow cheering for your classmates  as they walk across that stage.   This marks the beginning of a new chapter for the class of 2016.  As they embark on their journeys, my prayer is that they too can  be as brave as you, Brooke Evangeline Bryce!brooke 2015

 ………….I have finished the course. I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

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Dear Van Cliburn

imageVan.  A household name, well, for me anyway.  Growing up, my siblings and I just referred to him as Van.  He was the greatest pianist in American history.  He was a Cold War Hero. We knew who he was and, most importantly in our home, what he had meant to our mother.  He was filling the stages and concert halls that she too was trained for.  Trained alongside him, but, she had chosen to take a different path.  A path that included the musical training, only for a “higher purpose”.  Mom was trained with Van by his dear mother, Rildia Bee Cliburn.

Mr. and Mrs. Cliburn came into my grandfathers life as customers in 1934.  Mrs. C was pregnant with the miracle baby.  Daddy Jack, as we called my grandfather, built them a home in the Broadmoor section of Shreveport, Louisiana.  When he found out that Mrs. C taught piano, he made a deal with her to teach his little girl, my mom, who was only 6 at the time.  As the story goes, Mom would go twice a week on her bicycle laden with 2 bottles of “Millie’s milk”.  Millie was her cow that she milked every morning. She would arrive out of breath yet relieved, if she arrived with both bottles intact, as she had been chased all the way by neighborhood dogs. Mom would tell us that Millie’s milk was good because it grew strong fingers on Van.  She too had the strongest hands on any woman I knew.  More likely the piano work made them strong – sorry Millie.  But, thanks to that infamous cow, my grandparents had the means to secure the best piano teacher in the city – probably the country – for their daughter.  Mom had the opportunity to be eye and ear witness to the beginnings the greatest pianist ever known from America, her “dear Van”.  After Mrs. C would give Mom her lesson, Mom would watch over baby Van as the other students came through.  At the age of about 3, he began to go to the piano and play, by ear, the songs that he had heard the other pupils playing.  He was a prodigy.  His mother had to have been an incredibly wise woman to have been able to capture the gift and then, personally train, mold and shape it.  It’s a very difficult thing for parents to be able to do this with their own children.  God was obviously with her.  My mom always said they (the Cliburn’s) were good Baptists and she, Mrs. C., was a very prayerful woman.  Mom also said, when Van began performing on big stages and in concert halls, Mrs. C would always be with him.  She would sit back stage where she could see his hands, and pray the entire time.  She loved her son. We all did.

Mrs. Cliburn’s praying reminds me of my own grandmother, Mimi, telling how, when pregnant with my mom, she would sit with one hand playing the piano and the other on her swollen belly, and pray.  She believed God told her that the babe in her womb would be a pianist so she “marked” it with prayer.  It worked.

It seems to me that God took the gift of Daddy Jack’s construction business and used it to connect with the Cliburn’s.  Then, the gift of the cows milk was used as payment for piano lessons for the girl who had been prayed over in the womb.  The marked girl began piano lessons by a woman whose womb had been barren but now pregnant with a gifted son.  His gift was used to open lines of communication between two nations.  Her gift became used by the creator of all nations to open hearts to Him.

Today as I hear of the death of the man, Van, I think of my own son who is in Russia as a student this semester.  He may not have been given the opportunity to even step foot on Russian soil had it not been for Van.  I am reminded to thank God for the lives touched by his life.  Mine certainly was.  Probably yours was too.

Rest in peace, dear Van.  The music of heaven has never been so rich.

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