I pulled in the drive and immediately began smiling. There they were - those crazy Highlands College guys. They were pointing and shaking their signs at me. They were so excited that I chose to drive up the driveway they were working. I began honking at each set of sign holders. Then I would look to the other side, and there were more! Each one was waiting on their honk from Jane Honda. I played the game fairly -waving and honking at each one. I have no idea what their signs said, until I reached the last one. "You are Beautiful". My laughter ceased. Tears began rolling down my cheeks. There was a catch in my throat. It was as if Jesus was standing right there holding that sign, just for me.
As a young girl, I hated for people to see me cry. I definitely considered it a weakness - something I needed to overcome. That girl is long gone. I gave up the battle. When the Lord is dealing with me, when He is breaking my spirit, whatever has been a hard solid turns to a runny liquid, and it presents itself in my eyes. So, I knew the Lord was up to something, and I knew it was deeply personal. With this knowledge I pulled into my parking spot and offered up my surrender. "Already?!" When we first began coming to Highlands, back when we met at Mountain Brook High School, I had been so dry. By the end of the service I was usually in tears. One morning it started during the opening song of worship. Randy looked at me and said, "Already?" with a smile, of course. I was all ready for whatever lay ahead for me.
To be sitting in this parking lot was a feat in itself. Every year I had come up with reasons I didn't need to come. Enter Aunt Jodie. She called me this summer and wanted to know if I was going. After hem-hawing around the subject, I said, "You know what, I'm just going to make it a priority. Yes!" She called back a few minutes later and said she had just bought my ticket. Have I told y'all how much I love her? This is a huge lesson in blessing others. Several different events were going on with my kids, and if I had paid for my ticket, I would have missed Friday's session and just come on Saturday. But, you see, Aunt Jodie bought my ticket, and it would have been rude if I skipped out on something she had paid for me. Aunt Jodie and Kaci were there early and ready to get us as close to the front as we could get. Bless us, we are all people watchers with a touch of ADD. We all needed to pay attention, and sit close!
I can't even build the anticipation for you. She got us on the very front row! Christy Nockels was leading worship that night (my all-time fav), and I could almost touch her. Memories. My mind raced back to so many years that Randy and I traveled to Franklin, TN to attend Worship Together. We heard the hearts of Christy and her husband, Nathan. I looked up and there he was, on the keyboard playing as she sang. Preciousness. I remembered the rides home, talking and writing. Getting home and seeing a scene resembling what was on stage in front of me, with my husband playing his keyboard and praising and worshiping our Lord. Preciousness. Those days seemed like centuries ago, but the Lord was bringing them to the forefront of my mind. He began revealing to me how He sees my husband, and how He wants me to see him. Randy and I had just been praying together out LOUD for the Lord to PLEASE allow us to see each other through His eyes, because we were obviously missing something. We laughed about it, but we were serious! Now, here I stood having my prayer answered, and my spirit and heart broken.
Here is where I'll introduce you to Kaci. When she was little, she would tell everyone that she was "precious". She was speaking prophecy. She is my sister from my mama's sister. She is the first person whom I have loved from birth. (Can you think of who that person is in your life?) I am 6 years older than her, and after we both survived my teenage years (and her obnoxious years), we are each others' favorite. We are such opposites, but so enthralled with each other. She recently rescued the ugliest cats I've ever seen. They are 8 year old Persians - brother and sister, and they really are cute. She calls them "smooshiefaces", and I love that. The three of us ladies spent the night at Kaci's , and as if my night hadn't already been so excellent, I now got to spend the night with my favorites AND play with cats! Every girl's dream, right?
After you spend and evening with Jodie and Kaci, your sides will begin to ache. Either of them is funny on her own, but together they are too much! As we were getting ready the next morning, I realized as I was in Kaci's shower that my hygiene regime is pretty boring. There were all kinds of fun stuff in there! I used it all!!!!! Another thing I should tell you about Jodie and Kaci is that they are beautiful through and through. They always look polished. They are the ultimate Pretty Pretty Princesses. They speak fashion fluently. Jodie showed me some tricks for my hair, and told me to "try this". I love this about her. I told my girls that Aunt Jodie is the one who taught me how fun it is to share. Anything she has ever had, I have always felt welcomed to it. So, here we all were. I realized I had left my make- up in my car, so I just used Jodie's. Kaci was putting on her finishing touches as I stood there admiring my jeans I had scored from the Lost and Found at dance. You might think I felt out of place, but really, I didn't. It felt like home to me, and I'm comfortable with their prettiness and my naturalness.
Again, I heard the word "beautiful", this time from Aunt Jodie. She was talking about my eyes. I thanked her and moved on. She tried to linger on the issue, but that was enough. A few minutes later, a stranger asked me for Ibuprofen. I was looking through my pouch, and as I looked up, she said, "Oh, your eyes are beautiful." Aunt Jodie chimed in again. I thanked them both, and felt uneasy. "Why are you repeating this, Lord?" I was uncomfortable. Why was I uncomfortable? I mean, I'm wearing my t-shirt and my lost and found jeans. I'm not supposed to be beautiful. I'm natural, and plain, and comfortable. Beauty takes work, and "ain't nobody got time for that!"
By now you know I like cats. I love BIG Cats, too. I have a healthy respect for them, but if I had a chance to pet a tiger, I totally would! Lisa Bevere spoke to us about the Lioness. You absolutely must google this! It is powerful! What I heard was this... Lionesses calculate their ovulation cycle so that they can have babies at the same time. They raise their cubs together because there's strength in numbers. A lioness hunts in the dark, but she lives in the light. She is strong, and powerful. Her power comes from knowing her strength. When we humble ourselves, His power becomes our strength, and only when we understand this is Christ's beauty truly revealed in us. I had to be broken before His beauty could be revealed in me. "Your eye is the lamp of the body, when your eye is unclouded, your whole body is full of light. But when your eye is evil, your body is full of darkness." Luke 11:34.
The lioness is also the huntress. She stalks and kills her prey. She must do this in order for her family to survive. She embraces her prowess, and she uses it to her advantage. Sydney found a defintion for the word "prowess" that we love - to study, observe, and practice. I will close with the story of a lion and 2 lionesses. I am totally stealing this from Lisa, so read her book, Lioness. This family of 3 had been raised in captivity. The time had come for them to be released back into the wild. The problem was they would not step over their boundaries. The keepers decided they needed to stir up a hunger in them. Still, nothing. Finally after days, the keepers killed a bull. The Alpha Female smelled what would satisfy the hunger in herself, and the other 2. She leaped over the boundary and approached the kill. She made eye contact with the other lioness. Now, the two of them were standing over the bull. The lion was still inside the boundary, hesitantly waiting. The two lionesses pulled the bull back inside the boundary and laid the bull at the feet of the lion, where they all 3 ate their meal. The lioness honored the position of the lion - not because of how he was acting at the moment, but because of what he would become in the plan God has for his life. She knew the strength of her power.
How is your prowess? Are you studying, observing, and practicing the things God wants you to? I pray that you find all God has for you. I pray that we will be able to honor those whom God has placed us under. I pray that we will all realize the strength of our power, and that we will humbly use the gifts He has so graciously given us. I pray that we will work on the things that He speaks to our spirits, that we will allow Him to break us, so that He can place upon us all that He has planned for us. " Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us." Psalm 90:17