I am home! How good it is to be home! Home at last! Finally home!
Have you ever dwelt on the word, H-O-M-E, and what it means to you? Home can be a house, an apartment or some other type dwelling. Home can be a town or a community, yes, simply a location. Home can be permanent or temporary. Some people even have more than one home. I’m sure you’re also acquainted with the same phrase I’ve heard all my life, “Home is where your heart is.” Well, while living in Saudi Arabia, I thought a lot about that particular phrase and all those qualities which make up the special place I call home. There were a number of things that entered my mind as I compiled my mental list. First were the longing thoughts of my country and all the freedoms I dearly missed back in the USA. Those freedoms were fought for and attained by family and friends, yes, bought and paid for with their blood and my love and gratitude for them are very near and dear to my heart. Next were my thoughts of the state in which I was born and raised. Texas, for me, is like unto none other. My heritage runs deep in the piney woods of east Texas where my Grandfather, Amos DuBose, was the first Judge in Newton County. After that, memories surfaced of living in many towns before venturing afar to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where I lived in a villa temporarily for seven months. Unlike those of you who still reside in or close to the town in which you were born and/or grew up in, I have lived in sixteen locations throughout my adult life. As I thought about each of those locations, I automatically attempted to focus on the positive aspects in my life at each particular place. I attempted to recall those things that caused me to picture myself at “home” there. I have to admit, in some locations the task was impossible. If you have lived in multiple locations, you most probably favor some more than others and feel some were truly “home” as opposed to others feeling uncomfortable or temporary. As I narrowed my list to those which felt more like “home” to me, it was very easy to pick and choose based on the important things that happened to me while living in each location. But something else was very apparent to me as I tried to rationalize what “home” actually meant to me now as compared to then.
Of course, my first and foremost thoughts were of the location where I grew up in a house with my family. For me, this was LaBelle, a small community in southeast Texas. There I was surrounded with love and protection. Hmmm… but it occurred to me that some of the best and worst memories of my entire life also happened there. Never the less, LaBelle is where I also returned to live a second time and where my younger son was born. I made life-long friends in LaBelle. Again, some of the best and worst memories of my entire life happened there.
Second on my list was San Antonio, Texas, where I also made life-long friends. I also lost friends during war while living there. This is where my first son was born. Here too, some of the best and worst memories of my life reside.
Third was Brazoria, Texas, which is where my two sons grew up. In this location, I was close in proximity to my family and also made life-long friends as well. And yes, Brazoria is another location where some of my best and worst memories also reside.
As you can see, there were good and bad memories in each location, so I derived that circumstances are not the determining factor in whether I felt at “home” or not. No other places have come close to feeling like “home” until now…here in Junction, Texas. The fact that I am here is simple yet complex, so yes, it’s a result of God’s master weave in my destiny. I have already made life-long friends here and continue to meet and get to know more wonderful people every day. Junction is not as near to my extended family as I’d like but we have e-mail, cell phones and I can physically reach them in four to six hours. That is a small drawback in comparison to the specialness I have found. I love the solitude I find with my Father on our ranch. I dearly love the Texas Hill Country, the spectacular views of His creations, the opportunities for friendship and fellowship, the abundant wildlife, history and nature’s stories. I love the rivers and exercise finally rocks when kayaking in the South Llano! We’re also building a house on our ranch. That, too, is exciting in and of itself, but the realization that it belongs to God is ever present in my mind. He is, after all, the only reason for it’s possibility. Yet all these things I’ve mentioned are still not what makes Junction my true “home-sweet-home” now. The “specialness” I referred to earlier is not due to the location or qualities I’ve found in Junction. It’s due to the location of my heart and my closeness to God. There has been a long time of waiting…a time of patience…a time of teaching…a time of learning...and finally a time to stand strong and move forward.
You see, all sixteen places I’ve called “home” were and are temporary to me…yes, even now. The same change is within me just as it was for Moses. It’s about God’s timing and the realization of His overwhelming presence and call on and in my life. Unlike Moses, I wasn’t sent into the desert to tend sheep for forty years after experiencing my mountain top in LaBelle, but I did travel an empty road of discouragement…trying to create my own happy “home” in so many places. Then at long last, I found myself facing God and asking Him “me?”… “now?” So the true meaning of “home” for me is, indeed, “where my heart is!” And guess where that is? My heart has experienced a time of great personal growth as a result of God’s call and that of waiting upon Him. I find myself loving the Lord, my God, with all my heart, with all my soul and with all my strength!
“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” -Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT)
How does God know when we love Him? He says that if we love Him, we will obey Him. When we obey God, we set our heart on Him and we truly commit our way to Him. He is in me and I am in Him. I now have true fellowship with the Holy Spirit and oneness with the Lord Jesus Christ and I am at home with my Father…now and throughout eternity!
“Be careful to obey all the commands I give you; show love to the Lord your God by walking in His ways and clinging to Him.” -Deuteronomy 11:22 (NLT)
Also, remember how I said I love the rivers here? Well, Junction is known as the “Land of Living Waters.” Maybe it’s just in line with my destiny, but I find so much enjoyment in connecting one of my favorite verses…
“He who believes in Me … out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” -John 7:38 (NLT)
Yes, I am home! How good it is to be home! Home at last! Finally…and yes, with a much deeper sense of home!
Captured in His reflection,
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
The other day I read a post from one of my Facebook friends who wrote, “potential recognized, potential realized,” and she requested thoughts regarding her statement. My reply was as follows:
Someone else quoted H.W. Longfellow today: "We judge ourselves by what we are capable of doing, but others judge us by what we have done." And yet another said she'd heard, "We judge ourselves by our intentions; others judge us by our actions." The problem with both is the human factor involved in that "we" (humans) are doing the judging and surmising our own degrees of "potential." It's best when we doubt what we recognize as our potential and know how very inadequate we are...thereby placing our entire faith in God's insurmountable and omnipotent potential. Then and only then is His potential in us “realized.”
"For nothing is impossible with God." Luke 1:37 (NLT)
Well, the subject intrigued me. The main reason was that I had been dealing with this very thing ever since I shelved my infamous autobiography a few months ago. This was the book that was to be my personal GONE WITH THE WIND…but more than that, it was to be the accumulation of my life’s journey, complete with all the wrong turns which inevitably brought me here…to the foot of the cross…where He's teaching me once again. This book was to be something shared with other Christians who were floundering while riding a merry-go-round of disappointments and who were oblivious to God’s purpose in their lives; more importantly, who were oblivious to His presence through His Holy Spirit within them. And I wanted to document as I wrote this book that I couldn't help wondering as I rode this merry-go-round in my life, "Did our paths ever cross? Did you see me? Did you hear me?" I wanted this book to reach out...
Why did I shelve my book? I realized once again that God was sitting His daughter down to teach her…that would be me. And here I was in Saudi Arabia, sporting a bracelet engraved with the words, “Embrace the journey.” This was to be my adventure in a foreign land while I wrote my book...uh...for God. The organizing perfectionist within, once again had it all planned. Yet the plans were not my Father's, they were mine.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you... to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
Instead God blessed me with writer’s block. Ever notice how He is so good at giving you what you least expect when you least expect it? Well that is so very true for us organized-perfectionist types who just know we are on the right track! After I faced my dismal wall, He also blessed me with a multitude of alone time to get me back on His track. He gave me a thirst in the desert that only He could satisfy. He gave me time alone so that I could be still and know Him better as I read and studied His Word. He gave me quiet to pray and seek Him out and to listen to His voice within. I couldn’t even drive in Saudi Arabia! So we began…just Him and me. We had a private refresher course in love and humility. That's when I came to the realization that my book would have the unintentional potential to hurt others. I realized this book was not orchestrated by God after all. That revelation hit me square in the face and knocked me down to my knees. Need I say more? When I am on my knees God has a captive audience and a willing pupil. Again, that would be me. Dumbfounded by this truth, I sat and thought, well what then? If everything I’ve been through cannot benefit others, then what is it, God, that you want me to do for you at this stage of my life? His answer… “Be patient…pray…wait…and understand (again) that your purpose is ENTIRELY about me and for me. It cannot and will not ever be about you or within your timeframe.” I prayed, "Father, how very weak and inadequate I am in following your will." That's when He said to me, "Now, you are ready." Tearfully, my eyes were clearly opened to the fact that I had been utilizing the talents gifted me while judging my own potential...instead of focusing on His. “Again? I've done it again! I hear you, Lord."
This caused me to reflect…and guess what? God had purposely made the time available here in Saudi Arabia for me to do that also. I was eleven years old when I accepted Christ as my personal Savior and I was fifteen years old when I again walked down the isle of the same little country church to surrender my life to God’s call into special service for Him...the music ministry. I had been singing in church since I was eleven and there was nothing I could do better to serve God than to give Him the glory in the gift He’d given me. He had blessed me with so much more than a singing voice. He allowed me, at a very young age, to experience hurt and brokenness which captured me in His reflection even then and He ministered through my singing. I longed to reside there...close to Him and within the protection of His love. This insight gave me so much understanding in the depth of meaning and the feeling behind the words in the songs I sang. I not only sang of that deep meaning from my heart, I felt if I couldn’t live what the words expressed, I should not stand before others and proclaim them. The understanding of each song's origin, it's nature, compassion and truth that He blessed me with in conveying those written words are what He caused to touch the hearts and lives of others. There was never a doubt in my mind that God was using me for His glory and I was so excited and willing to serve Him. I can remember so much happiness at that stage in my life. It was not an easy task for my small church to award me a music scholarship to East Texas Baptist College and I was on the mountain top! Little did I know that God would ultimately be my life teacher and not simply my avenue toward this tremendous opportunity. He knew, at that very time, the lessons I was about to face. Lesson one, and I miserably failed. My world cratered when my parents told my pastor and music director that I would not leave home except on the arm of a husband. While in shock, I forgave them yet I still married quickly just in order to leave home. So much happened, so many mistakes were made before I understood that even this had the capacity to be part of God’s long-range plan. Though He blessed me with two wonderful sons in my first marriage, it still took me years of anguish and pain before I finally understood how the Master Refiner melted away my impurities while holding me in the flames. You see, that devastation cast over me years ago was the beginning of my merry-go-round ride through life. Of course, I realize now…through all my wrong turns…that God had so much more to teach me in order to use me in recognizing His potential and not my own. Ever think that you know what you know that you know because you know? That’s where I was…much like “knowing” a while back that I was supposed to write my autobiography “for God.” It’s taken me many years, but the most recent lesson I’ve finally learned is that God will forever be my teacher and He will continually reprimand His children. He used the brokenness in me to teach me that perfection and completeness can only be found in Him and His healing and comfort were given me in order for me to show others those same qualities. I know in order for Him to continually shine through me, I have to let go of my own plans and rely entirely on Him. An organized perfectionist is still in my nature but now it causes me to laugh at myself more often than not. I also continue to catch myself falling off track and He still uses my mistakes and my inadequacies to remind me WHO is in control. I'm completely His now, so I remember that it's not my limited and obvious potential others are to see, it's the limitless horizons of my omnipotent Father. I also know that the only way to achieve His purpose in me is for me to stay focused on Him and not on myself or this world...but to honor Him with my presence continually and to give Him my availability without the hesitation of focusing on my own ability. How do I do that? I remain...
CAPTURED IN HIS REFLECTION.
“Are we beginning again to tell you how good we are? Some people need to bring letters of recommendation with them or ask you to write letters of recommendation for them. But the only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves! Your lives are a letter written in our hearts, and everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you. Clearly, you are a letter from Christ prepared by us. It is written not with pen and ink, but with the Spirit of the living God. It is carved not on stone, but on human hearts. We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ. It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:1-5 (NLT)