Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Prayers Changed

I've witnessed it before.

Prayers spoken in a church in Kenya.

I saw it last month.

When I was there.

It's startling.

The difference.


The prayers I've heard and seen.

Are often.




Void of expectations.

Not there.

Once the pastor initiates prayer.

The dirt floor.

One room church.

 Is flooded with voices.

Voices of people praying out loud.

All at the same time.

Not quiet prayers.

But pleading prayers.

Talking out loud prayers.

In a simple, tin-roofed church.

I imagined the voices were billowing up.

Like smoke drifting up toward the heavens.

And I knew.

He had to hear them too.

Some of the mamas were down on their knees.

Others were sobbing.


Pouring out their hearts.

It's always startling.

The genuineness.

The belief.

They pray.

Like people who believe.

He hears them.


My prayers changed.

From witnessing it.

It's been my practice for many years now.

To begin my day with Him.


Before anyone else is up.

And in the privacy of that space.

I've learned to get honest too.

There's something about approaching prayer.

And visualizing.

That Jesus has pulled a chair.

Right up next to mine.

And He's leaning forward.

Towards me.


And listening.

For what I have to say.

When I think of Him there.

I get honest.

And as I get honest.

Many times.

The tears flow.


Often times.

Tears are my genuine barometer.

My tears mean I'm getting down to what's really on my heart.








Whatever's on my plate.

Or going on in my day.

I get it out.

And get it said.

Just like the voices billowing out of that small church in Kenya.

They prayed like people who believe.

Believe that God really does hear their prayers.

And because I know it too.

My prayers.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Christmas Passed to Me

My mom always made Christmas special for me and my brothers.

As we were growing up.

I remember.

The Christmas trees that came from my uncle Horace & Marvin's place in Greenville.

Loading them with ornaments mom collected through the years.

Family dinners.

That green jello recipe she made with nuts & pineapple & marshmallows.

Mounds of made from scratch sugar cookie dough in the frig.

Carefully wrapped in wax paper.

My grandma Robertson's candied yams swimming in a sea of butter on the stove.

My grandma Lila's made from scratch biscuits.

Rolled out with a rolling pin.

She always let me have the edges left from the round biscuit cutter.

She also had this spectacular artificial Christmas tree.


With a rotating color wheel that sat in front of it.

Turning the silver tree red.....then green.....then blue.

It's funny what sticks with me.

Christmas plays at church.

Socials that time of year in the community building.

Piling into the back of  our station wagon.

To go caroling with the kids I grew up with in church.

My oldest brother, Scott, waking us up at 3 or 4 a.m. to open presents.

The anticipation of Christmas morning.

When the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seemed like an eternity.

When I was a kid,

Mom always made Christmas special.

And it was a wonderful gift to me.

I know I'm fortunate to have those kind of memories.

I've lived long enough to know.

That not everyone does.

My girls are grown now.

And this is the very first Christmas.

Scott & I have no children living at home.

Oh, they'll be back on Christmas Eve.

And my mom will be here too.


It is different.

It has changed.

The thing about change.

It's a guarantee.


Can still be good.

And meaningful.

Plenty of ways God can use me.

Plenty of people I can choose to invest in.

Plenty of ways to honor the true meaning of Christmas.




My life is full.

I am thankful.

Not just for what's behind me.

But what's here today.

And what's still ahead.

I pray to keep that in mind this Christmas.

And in all my Christmases to come.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

I Never Get Used To It

We've been back for 15 days.

And I've thought about the trip.

A million times.

And missed these guys.

Like crazy.

We were a small group.

The smallest I've ever served with.

Just 11 of us.

And we became tight.

No surprise.

And going with him?


I loved it.

It was like going home.

And reconnecting with family.

While a few of us had been before.

Most of the team had never been to Africa.

Never seen this part of the world.

So I had the added gift.

Of seeing Segera through their eyes.

For the first time.

There were unforgettable moments.

and great beauty.

photo by brandon bartlett

It's a strange experience.

To go there.

And come back.


All of it.

I never get used to it.