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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to School

Today I officially registered for classes as a graduate student at Dallas Baptist University. I am excited to finally be moving forward after spending nearly 2 years waiting on God to point me in the right direction. I will be pursuing a MAWL - funny degree for a girl who doesn't even like to shop. (sorry, couldn't resist)

MAWL = Master of Arts in Worship Leadership, with a concentration in media/journalism. Let's just dispel all of the rumors up front. This is not a singing, lead the band, and direct the choir kind of degree, but a writing, publicity, media, public relations type of degree. I have no idea exactly how I am going to use it in the future, but I decided that I will worry about that when the time comes. Going part time, I will have plenty of years to decide what type of career I might be interested in pursuing.

I have appreciated the dean of the department, Dr. Brooks, walking me through each step of this process. I met him at the National Worship Leader Conference, but I didn't realize he was the dean of the Worship Leadership department. When my application came across his desk, he remembered me, called me up to touch base, and since then has worked hard to make sure that my return to school goes smoothly.

I am nervous about doing well in school. It has been a long time since I was a student, and my brain doesn't function quite as well as it once did. I am also nervous about financial stuff. My financial aid application is on hold because I am missing a college transcript from a school where I took one correspondence class back in 1993. (For my younger readers, this is how we took classes at other universities before the internet. The instructor mailed us questions, we wrote down the answers and mailed them back. In an envelope. With stamps. At the post office.) I am hoping to have all my paperwork in place within the next few days. I had to make a huge downpayment today....don't know where the rest is coming from.

However, I am certain that God has a plan. I would appreciate your prayers as I prep for a new school year with a new team, work diligently alongside my husband in the church plant, parent four kids, and now go back to school. I want to make sure that I use my time wisely, that I don't have a lot of regrets about how I spend the hours of the day this next year. I tend to be scattered, and I need to find focus. So here I go, both arms up, ready for the roller coaster ride of my life!

Monday, August 9, 2010

I like wrinkles and gray hair, too

I like my husband's snoring. Wrote about that in the last post. But there are other strange things that I really like about my husband. The list is quite longer than any of you want to read, but here are two of my favorites.

Wrinkles. Shawn has fewer than I do, but he does have some. I love to catch him when he's watching tv and check out the lines that have started forming on his face.

The beautiful thing is that he is getting laugh lines around his eyes and at the corners of his mouth. This is beautiful because it means we laugh a lot in our home. Our voices are almost never raised in anger, and overwhelming joy is prevalent more days than not. As I see those laugh lines forming, I know that the kids and I have had a large part of making those fun memories with him.

My other favorite thing is his graying hair. He hates it and has been known to sneak down the just for men aisle and look longingly at hair dye. But for me the gray hair reminds me of all the water under the bridge. I am reminded that while we once were children watching Saturday morning cartoons together, we are now adults facing down teenagers together. (thus the gray)

In the gray, I see forever. It reminds me of how long we have been together, and that we still have a lifetime left to share. It reminds me that we've stuck it through some tough times together, endured great loss and pain, and come out okay on the other side.

I guess the wrinkles and gray hair bring back good memories from our past, but they also reminds me that we can face whatever the future holds. I know that even tough times can lead to joy if you just hang in there long enough.

That's it - that's what I see in the wrinkles and gray hair - victory. We've fought some tough issues and come out still on the same team. That's why those are two of my favorite things.

I love a good snore

As I lie awake late tonight, unable to sleep, I am reminded how blessed I truly am. Next to me, snuggled up under our old worn out comforter, is a giant snoring lump of man.

I know lots of women complain about their husband's snoring, but it is one of my favorite things. There is something beautiful about being awake late at night and hearing Shawn's contented snoring. For me it is the sound of happiness.

When Shawn isn't snoring, it means he isn't sleeping. He rarely struggles with insomnia, so if he's not sleeping there's a crisis. When I hear that chainsaw buzzing sound in my bed at night, it's a sound of security. It means that my husband went to bed a happy man.

For me, it is a reminder that God has richly blessed me with family. I have heard many great love stories over the years, but I don't know that many rival my own. I am grateful that God has given this to me.

That's what I hear tonight as I listen to the rumbling in my bed. I hear that I am blessed.

Monday Morning Update 8-9-10 (postscript)

I had the sudden brilliant idea to go to a Sunday night service. Lots of churches still have those! I could slip in, worship, meet with God, and be ready to face a new week. I looked online to see where I could attend, and decided that I would really like to try The Village, where Matt Chandler pastors. It is an hour's drive to Denton, but off I went. I had the idea to go at 3:44, I was sitting in worship at 5:00.

I could talk about the technical aspects of their service, discussing what could be improved, and also what could help take our services at The Crossroads to another level. However, since the original update focused on my heart, I think it is fitting that the postscript does as well.

The worship band played one song, "The Wondrous Cross." I was just beginning to worship, but then we sat down and the sermon began to play on the screen. I was surprised and very disappointed that I didn't get to really release in worship. But God knew what my heart needed to hear. Matt Chandler spoke from Col. 4:2-4. He talked about prayer and about obstacles to praying. He talked at great length about spiritual warfare and about being alert. He reminded us to live like we are at war against evil, and to not be lulled into sleepy apathy. I also loved his statement that God is not waiting for us to be good enough to love us. He loves us today, right where we are. There was lots of great stuff in his message that just washed over me and filled up my hungry soul.

Then after the message, the band came back on stage and played about 5 more songs. It was a great opportunity to worship with a full and grateful heart after the message. I don't know that I have ever done a worship set after the message before, but it was amazing. I had heard from God and was ready to lift up some praise. Instead of the music making me ready to hear from God, hearing from God made me ready to worship with music. I especially enjoyed the opportunity to take communion. I needed that moment to remember what Christ has done - that his righteousness now covers my sin.

As a staff member who is always involved in ministry, I would highly recommend to other ministers finding a service occasionally where you don't have to carry any responsibility so that you can be still and hear from God. I love being active in my church. I love ministering to others. I am very thankful that God uses me. But it was amazing to be invisible, and to be refilled and refreshed. Not only did I come away with new ideas that we might be able to use, but I came away ready to face down the dragons. I am ready to face the work week, and I am ready to pour out my life again in ministry. It was a great end to a rough day.