Friday, August 19, 2011

Shut de doe (Keep out the devil!)

What a year this has been!  I am rejoicing for so many things that the Lord has done in, and through, the lives of our family.  A year ago I was facing fear like I had never known before.  Fear is an ugly thing in the life of a Believer.  It goes against the nature of Christ, and as Christians we are told over and over in God's word that we should not fear.  Knowing this is one thing, being faced with a situation that causes you to walk it out is another.

I remember going to the Jaycee's Haunted House when I was a teenager.  I don't know why I went.  I guess I wanted to prove that I could face my fear, and to show myself I could make it through.  Well, I learned very quickly that I could hold on to Jill Phillips's shirt and I could close my eyes and still walk through this thing.  Sarah Braswell was behind me, so I felt safe on that end.  At one point a Freddy Krueger guy jumped out at us.  Sarah and I got separated from the rest of our group.  I couldn't close my eyes and see where I was going.  Then, someone jumped out of a jail cell and tried to corner Sarah.  At the same moment, one of the scaries caused me to bump into something, which knocked off my glasses.  I was done.  Yes, this was supposed to be scary, but I had had enough.  I YELLED at the scaries.  I told them to get away from Sarah, and that they better NOT touch me because they had already knocked off my glasses.  Have you ever seen scaries in a haunted house look confused?  My blood was boiling and I wasn't scared again through that stupid house.  We all made it out in one piece, and our little group was together again.

The fear that I felt at this point last year was much the same.  It crippled me for a bit.  Then amazingly some really awesome friends allowed me to just close my eyes for a while - as long as I kept walking forward.  I was so weak.  I knew Jesus would never leave me, I just had no idea where we were going.  Many of the fears that I had concerned the far-off future.  Jennifer Eidson held my heart as I first spoke the what-if.  She held me up and encouraged me when I was on the floor.  Michelle Sanchez got me through many late nights when everyone else was in bed.  Alice Worsham needed to see my eyeballs and look into my face as she assured me that our God had this.  Debbie Roberts gave me time to be weird, and loved me and let me right back in when I was done with that.  Tracy Moore was a rock sent straight from my Jesus to me.  She listened to me say things she never thought would come out of my mouth, and she didn't judge me.  She did, however, get me to the point where I needed to scream at Satan - just like in the haunted house.  He had filled my head with lies, and he touched on every insecurity he could see.  Finally, I was ready to move forward - eyes wide open- to see what the Lord was going to do in my life, and in the lives of my precious family.

I had more warriors in my journey who saw me everyday, and they made sure I walked my walk.  Sherry Turner, Tyra Jordan, Tamar Thomas, Dian Gibbs, Shannon McCray, Jenny Barrett, Nicole Hays, and Colleen Lea supported me like they were truly my sisters.  They let me cry, and then held me accountable to believe the promises I knew were true.  Shea Friday came to my rescue, and taught my class and loved them as she loved me.  My neighbors Lori Kersh, Jill Hayes, and Rachel Smith talked to me and supported me through encouragement - and promises of babysitting. :)  Jesus knows my heart, y'all.  He knows how much I love my friends.  That is exactly who He used to show me that He would take care of me and my fear, and that He had a destiny for me to fulfill.

There are a host of other friends who helped me in so many ways.  I appreciate ALL of you!  So, you know the story of Aaron's birth already, now fast-forward to May.  I came back for the last 5 weeks of school.  I realized the Lord truly has put a love in my heart for teaching.  I missed my class so much, and I was loving being back with them.  I knew my time at Hilldale was coming to a close, and my last week of school was heart-wrenching.  There was such a conflict going on inside me.  I couldn't teach 5 days anymore because there was not a 5 day class for Aaron.  All indications were saying I needed to find something else...somewhere else.  I felt like I was moving far far away from my family, and it hurt!

So, I spent the summer putting in applications, going on interviews, getting my hopes up, and having doors close right on my nose.  After walking through the fourth door, and thinking this was the one, I left all my ideas about what the Lord had for me in the lock of that door.  I made it to my car before I burst into tears.  I knew in my heart that I wasn't supposed to be at this place, but I was so confused.  I told the Lord that I had no idea what He had in mind for me, and that I was getting scared, but that I trusted Him. I was so weary, not tired, weary.   He knew our needs better than I did, and I was determined to trust Him with my eyes wide open!

Realize, friends, I had exhausted every option that I could think of that would work for Aaron and me.  There was nothing else.  I would have to brainstorm and maybe do more than one "job" that might not be as ideal.  End of my road.  Nothing.  Then I found this verse, "The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly on him."  Lamentations 3:25  I know you feel it...       THEN, the next day I got a text.  This is what it said, "Ash, call me ASAP!" - Dian, as in Dian Gibbs, Principal of Hilldale Christian School.  Something had just come up, and she wanted to know if I'd be interested in a 2 or 3 day class.  She still wasn't sure where she might need me.  WOOOO HOOOOO!

So, the question of the summer is, why did I have to walk through all those doors only to have them close on me if I was going to go right back where I started?   Well, let me answer that by sharing what my friend Debbie felt the Lord wanted her to share with me. :)  "I know your deeds.  See I have placed before you an open door that no man can shut.  I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."  Revelation 3:8  Are you smiling?  If I had not gone the route I went, I would not appreciate my new job the way I do.  I had become too familiar, too complacent, and too complaining!  I have a new stride in my step.  The Lord is up to something, and I get to find out first hand what that is!

Many of you have prayed for me and my job, and I thank you!  I wanted to share this little journey because I know so many of you are going through similar circumstances.  Hang on!  Even though you may not see the answer, He's got it all worked out for you.  Let me say something that might be hard right here.  Ladies, He has to be your Lord.  He can be your Savior, and He can provide a "get out of jail free" card.  If that's all you want, He won't force anything more.  If that's not enough, if you're hungry and thirsty, and something deep inside of you is saying, "more, more", then surrender it all to Him.  He wants the BEST for you, not the best you can do.  I encourage you to seek Him, and put Him first.  I can assure you, you've done much harder things in your life than surrendering your life to the One who created it in the first place.  Oh, I used a lot of names in this blog.  I could have said "friends", but each one of these ladies gave me something over this past year.  Putting their names on the screen won't do much for them, but it will let them know, in case they have ever doubted, that I love them with every part of my heart.  Now, they know, and you know. Jesus does the same with us.  He calls us by name.  He knows us, and He will let the world know that we are His.  Let Him lead you!  But now, this is what the LORD says—
   he who created you, Jacob,
   he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
   I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
   I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
   they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
   you will not be burned;
   the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the LORD your God,
   the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
   Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
   and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
   nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
   I will bring your children from the east
   and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
   and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
   and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
   whom I created for my glory,
   whom I formed and made.”
Isaiah 43:1-7



Monday, August 1, 2011

Sylvia's Daughter Dances

The Lord has a way of turning our mourning into dancing, giving us beauty from ashes, and teaching us that there is nothing we can do to make Him love us less.  I have mentioned before a subject that was for another day.  I've chosen today to tell this story.
I have always loved being on the go.  Home is my landing spot, but out there is where I love to be.  I have been this way since I was a child.  I would go anywhere, especially if it was to visit with family or friends.  So, in June of 1985 when I went on a softball trip with my aunt and uncle, there was no reason to think it would be a trip I would never forget.  I was a ballpark kid.  There's probably dirt in my blood.  Tournaments were so much fun to me - hotel rooms, pools, sometimes being batgirl, and cheering on my players.  I remember at one game, watching my dad in center field.  He climbed up on the fence did a quick turn  and caught a ball that should have been a homerun.  Then I remember a player from the other team yelling at my dad that he belonged in the zoo with the rest of the monkeys.  We still laugh about that game.  My dad and Beverly were also at this tournament, and we were all ready to have a great time!
When we got back to the rooms, there was a message.  I overheard what the message was about, and I was as scared as I had ever been.  My aunt was talking to one of my uncles on the phone.  She said, "You're going to have to go down and tell Mama and Daddy, I can't tell them this on the phone.  Sylvie has had a heart attack and is in a coma."  I knew what both those terms meant, but I could not comprehend this happening to my mama.  We made the trip from Chatanooga to Birmingham in rain, the whole way.  We never spoke of the conversation I had overheard, and I convinced myself that it was raining because God was crying because He was not going to take my mama with Him.
She remained in a coma for almost 2 months.  I overheard another family member telling of a dream she had had.  I went in to see my mom, and she came out of the coma.  I tried to go in to see her.  I got past the ICU doors, and I stopped in my tracks.  My body would not walk forward.  My mama had never not responded to me.  I was so afraid, so I turned back and I never made it in to see her.
On July 27th I woke to voices downstairs.  Why are they here?!  I was spending the night with my best friend.  So, those voices meant someone was there to pick me up, and I wasn't even out of bed yet!  This was so not fair!  I went downstairs demanding to know why they were here so early, and declaring that I was not ready to leave.  We had planned a bunch of fun for the day, and I was not ready to give that up.  No one would give me an answer.  Then, everyone left the room - except my daddy.  His eyes were not looking at mine.
Then they did.  I wanted to run!  Now his eyes would not let mine look away.  He started to talk, but I didn't want to hear what he was saying.  Rewind! Rewind!  Go back, don't tell me this!  Just stop saying this, and it won't be true.  My daddy had to give his daughter the worst news a daddy could give.  He held me, and told me what had happened during the night.  My mom could not fight any longer.  She left this world - she left me. 
For a while, it was unreal to me.  My mom was always the one who delivered the bad news.  She was good at comforting me, and assuring me I would be okay.  So, she couldn't be dead, because who would give me that comfort?  My daddy was and has always been my protector.  He is good at his job.  I will never forget standing at the end of the "viewing" line, and my dad and my Aunt Jodie coming on either side of me, and walking me past the front of the line and into the room that held my mom's body.  I stopped in my tracks - much like I did in the ICU.  Only this time, they didn't let me stop.  They talked to me and we walked inch by inch until I could stand and look at my mama.  Only, it wasn't her - not the way she was.  Suddenly it became real.  I was not going to have her anymore, and there was nothing anyone could do about it. 
Daddy kissed my head through his tears about a hundred times.  He didn't have many words, but those kisses were like a balm that was trying so hard to heal my little broken heart.  Nothing would, though.  So, from then on, July 27th was a day that reminded me of the most horrible thing I have ever had to experience.  My heart still breaks for that 10 year old little girl. 
Time does not heal, but Jesus does.  I still miss my mama, but I have peace.  I will see her again, and I have a love for people that I cannot explain.  I learned early that you're not promised tomorrow, and that every person has a purpose.  Certain people come along that Jesus allows me to love the way He would love them.  I love to look deep into people.  I don't want anyone to walk around in a coma - not understanding the love and life that Jesus has for them. 
Recently, we celebrated Asa's 7th birthday.  He was induced seven years ago, on a day that my doctor said would be the day he needed to schedule me.  His due date was August 4th, but he was a big baby who needed to come early.  Some of you know this already, but Stephen Asa Morrison was born on July 27th.  :)  So, you see, the Lord turned my mourning to dancing in 2004.  No longer is that a sad day for me!  I know my mama was smiling about this decision.  Maybe she rocked him and kissed him before he was delivered to me.  This was the day my mama went to be with her Lord, and now it is the day that my Lord blessed me with life - no more death. 
Asa's name means healer - physician of the heart.  He did just that for his mama.  He brings me such joy and laughter, and he gives such love to his mama.   I am amazed at how my Jesus loves me, and when He does things like this, that He didn't have to do, I feel so favored and loved.  Yes, I still think about my mama, but it's with a smile on my face.  The little girl she had to leave behind has been blessed with four little lives to be a mama to.  I am the mom I am because of the mama I had.  She loved me like no one else.  It was fierce, and it was comfort.  I take this with me in my own motherhood journey, then I add the grace that Jesus gives me, and so far, so good. 
I don't know what your biggest hurt is.  Jesus does.  I believe He is waiting to turn your mourning into dancing, and He'll do it in a way that you just can't mourn anymore.  I'm praying for you now.  Let Him renew a spirit of gladness in you.