A Flag, The Devil and a Highway

Monday I had a meeting in Calera, a smaller city that sits on I-65 just a little southwest of Birmingham, Alabama. Normally when I drive to Birmingham I take highway 280 because it is the straightest shot to The Summit shopping area (Anthropologie, anyone?), but Calera is on the other side of Birmingham so from Auburn I drove south on I-85 and then north on I-65.

I don’t travel on I-65 between Montgomery and Birmingham very often anymore. As a child I found myself frequently riding down that road as we would drive from Birmingham to Montgomery to visit my grandmother or on to the beach for a vacation. And sometimes you forget what’s on a stretch of road if you haven’t driven it for awhile, and sometimes things on a road can change quite a bit.

As I’m driving to Calera I start to see an extremely large flag come into view just north of Prattville. My assumption was that it would be an American flag, but just imagine my shock when I got closer and realized it wasn’t an American flag at all but a ginormous Confederate flag! Now I wasn’t shocked because it offended me. I was shocked that it was still there. It’s still there because it is on private property and was erected by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and at least for now, the government can’t make them take it down (but just wait – I’m sure that’s coming).

After that I drove up a little more and to my right saw the sign that as a child scared me to death every time we drove past it. It’s still there, again sitting on private property so there it will stay. Its message is pretty simple:

devil sign

And lastly I came up on a highway sign that simply read:

War on Terror
Memorial Highway

As I drove on to Calera I thought about how all 3 are related and high on people’s minds these days.

“Go to the church or the devil will get you.” “Sons of Confederate Veterans.” War on Terror Memorial Highway.”

All these signs point to issues that are prominent in the America in which we live today.

And all are issues that the enemy uses to confuse and destroy friends, families and yes, this country.

John 10:10 starts by saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” And let’s be clear that the thief is our true enemy – satan. He comes to steal our joy, kill our hopes and dreams and destroy our families and our country. It’s what he does. It’s his single mission. It’s his 24/7 obsession.

But our hope lies in the second half of that verse: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s why Jesus came to this earth and died for our sins – so that each one of us can have an abundant, full, joyous life. And if you never go to church to hear the gospel or you get offended when someone flies a flag you don’t like or you refuse to acknowledge terrorists want to destroy our country because we are (or at least we used to be) a Christian nation, the sign that terrified me as a child will come true in your life. The devil will yes indeed, get you.

Sharing the gospel is THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING any Christian can do right now. Let’s stop being offended and scared of what really doesn’t matter and start being bold about the only thing that does matter – where a person will spend his or her eternity. Share. Be bold. Stand up for Christ. It’s what Jesus did and it’s what He calls us to do, or else… just read the sign.

Blessings!
Leigh

Guardrails

Years ago I was part of a small group which studied Andy Stanley’s message series called “Guardrails.” It’s an awesome series based on the basic principle that we need to set guardrails in our lives so that we don’t go over the cliff in our friendships, finances, marriages, etc. (In other words, where do we draw the line that we absolutely won’t cross?) Tuesday I revisited the message on friendships for my current small group as a great reminder of how to help our kids set up guardrails with friends as they navigate the treacherous roads of high school and college.

Now what I should have done is clamp down on the guardrails concept and work through that in all sorts of areas of my own life. I should have thought about the fact that at 7:00 (or more likely 7:30 because of the amount of fouls that occur in a varsity girls’ game) I would be at our first high school varsity boys’ basketball game, and yep – I should have set up some personal guardrails before heading to the gym.

I’ve said many times I don’t go to basketball games (or football games, even though my son doesn’t play football) to socialize. I’m there to cheer my team on to victory, much to the dismay (and hearing loss) of many who have chosen to sit near me during a game.

So I strolled up to the gym a bit overconfident. I confess I believed our own press. (not that the press was actually writing about our small high school team, because they weren’t). But I had listened to the kids talk about our opponent for Tuesday night, that since most of the opposing basketball team played football and they were in the football playoffs they hadn’t had any time to practice basketball.

As I said, I went into the game a bit overconfident – as did our team.

At the half we were down 21-16. Momma wasn’t happy. And you know the old saying, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…”

Only through Jesus am I better these days than I used to be, but I’ve still got a ways to go in the sports momma attitude category. A lackluster first half plus some bad calls in the 2nd half plus no guardrails made me really grumpy and a little more vocal than I would like to admit. (I know what you are thinking – yeah, sure the calls were bad. But they really were. Last time I checked you couldn’t use your forearm to muscle a guy out of your way as you drive to the basket. But I digress…)

Now I wasn’t to the level of getting kicked out of the gym or anything like that, but I’m not sure anyone would look at me and think anything other than I’m a crazed basketball momma with a big mouth. Which I am.

A few guardrails would have really, really helped me. Guardrails such as I will NOT stomp my feet not matter how many shots we miss and I will NOT scream, “THAT’S TERRIBLE!!!” at a ref at any point in the game would have been helpful to keep me veering off the road of normalcy and down the cliff of crazy sports momma.

guardrails

Proverbs 4:25-27 says it this way:

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.”

Staying on the straight path is always better than swerving to the right or to the left and ending up in a ditch. Guardrails work in all different areas of our lives if we will take the time to ask God what guardrails should we put into place and then commit to getting back on the road if we approach one.

We have 2 – 3 basketball games every week, so I’m gonna need some guardrails.

Where do you need to put up some guardrails so that you don’t swerve off the path God has for you?

Blessings!
Leigh

MOVE!!!

“MOVE!” seems to be my word of choice in so many situations. When the traffic light turns green and the car in front of me is just sitting still – I say it. When I’m trying to cook in my kitchen and I barely miss tripping over my dog for the 10th time – I mutter it. When someone in Kroger is taking her sweet time paying for her groceries and getting out of my line – I think it (even though I have the sweetest smile plastered on my face).

Impatient much?

Now I have made progress in this area – I really have. I can usually get my mind to focus on the person, not the situation, which helps. I make up scenarios in my mind, like the guy in the car is probably older and doesn’t drive as fast as he used to. Or the lady in the grocery line is flustered because she is hoping she has enough money left over to pay her rent this month. But my dog – well, I don’t cut her any slack. She just gets in the way.

How many times have I wanted to say to God, “MOVE – WILL YA’???” Gosh we get so impatient when He doesn’t move at our pace. When it seems as though nothing is happening in a situation we throw out questions such as, “Have I not prayed enough? In the right way? For the right outcome? What gives??? Why can’t God just make this situation better?”

We have to be so very careful to guard our minds when we don’t see any movement in a situation. Thoughts such as, “A lot of good praying for THAT is doing,” or “I guess God is just to busy to care about THIS” can start creeping in and taking over our thoughts, which will in turn take over our faith or words, our actions…

When I cannot see past the overwhelming mountain in front of me, I try to remember the following Biblical truths so that I don’t give up:mountain

First, God is sovereign. He has supreme authority over this earth and everything in it. I am not in control, He is. As an OCD control freak that truth used to bother me, but as I’ve gotten older I take great solace knowing nothing catches God off guard, nothing surprises Him because he knows what was, what is, what is to come, and He is in control of it all.

Secondly, God answers all prayers, and God’s timing is perfect timing. God answers all prayers with either a yes – those are of course the easiest for us; a no – which requires going back to point #1 and trusting that God has something better in store; or a “You’re gonna have to wait awhile and learn what I want you to learn.” – which are sometimes harder than the no’s, but they also provide a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth if we will pursue God with everything we have and not give up.

And lastly, no situation lasts forever. We have this beautiful promise found in 1 Peter 5:10 – “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” And yes, that goes for loved ones suffering with incurable diseases. As Christians we have the hope that this world is not our final destination, and therefore our ultimate restoration, confirmation, strengthening and establishing will take place when we reach our eternal home.

A point to remember: Just because you can’t see the movement on the other side of the mountain doesn’t mean God isn’t doing anything.

“while I was still in prayer, Gabriel…came to me…He instructed me and said to me, ‘Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given…’” (Daniel 9:21-23)

As soon as you begin to pray, an answer is given. Trust God’s answer – and in His perfect timing delivering it.

Blessings!
Leigh

College Students, Halloween Night and the Emergency Room

Where is the last place you want to end up Halloween night?

Any emergency room in any hospital in any city in the United States.

Where did my husband find himself Halloween night?

You guessed it.

Long story short: My daughter brought home 2 girls and 2 guys from Ole Miss to Auburn for the game this weekend. Ole Miss won, which should have made for an awesome weekend for this group. And it did, until…

Saturday night the weather here took a nasty turn for the worse – massive rainstorms.  And these kids were exhausted because they typically burn the candle at both ends. So they decided exhaustion + torrential rain = hanging out at the house and watching a movie Saturday night. (Now there’s the difference between juniors in college and freshmen. They actually think about how tired they are, what all they have waiting for them when they get back to school, etc.) So there they were, in my upstairs den totally behaving themselves, watching a movie when one of them had an all out seizure.

That’s right. A body-go-rigid, drool-coming-out-of-his-mouth, profusely-sweating seizure. The kids rushed down to get my husband and I out of bed (my gosh it was 11:00 so you know I was in the bed) and after this young man became a little more coherent my husband loaded up all 5 of them and took off for the E.R. in a driving rainstorm. Could Halloween night get any worse?

Apparently it could – not for us really but more for the parade of characters coming into the E.R. on Halloween night. Caesar (remember it’s Halloween) brought in a girl who was totally incapacitated. Spartan cheerleaders Craig and Arianna sat next to a boy with a gash on his nose. Then you had not one, but two college students who had been hit so hard in their mouths that their jaws were probably broken. Add in a guy who was escorted out of the E.R. in handcuffs by the police and a girl wheeled into the E.R. with gunshot wounds, and you have quite the cast of characters, all looking like they drank their way to the bottom of a “handle” of some brand of liquor producing extremely painful results.

The first reaction might be to judge these kids. “How could they?” “What were they thinking?” But that’s not what my husband said as he relayed these stories when he got home at 2:45 a.m. His words to me were, “Someone needs to be praying over that E.R.”

ER

And by “someone,” he meant us.

It didn’t hit me until later that my husband’s reaction was exactly what Jesus would have wanted. Instead of judging these kids for drinking to the point of an E.R. visit, we should be praying for them. We need to be praying that the driving force (i.e. the enemy) behind the drinking would stop, praying a trip to the E.R. would be a wake-up call for these kids, praying that the parents would somehow be made aware of what was going on with their children so that they could help these kids work through this issue and start making better choices.

The Bible is full of relevant verses to pray over college students and here’s one that was extremely relative for the E.R. on Halloween night: “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” (Ephesians 5:15-18)

College campuses and college students need prayer warriors.

And yep, so do emergency rooms.

Be one.

Blessings!
Leigh

P.S. Turns out the E.R. doc thinks the seizure was brought on by stress and lack of sleep. So I guess we got the best outcome out of a scary situation – praise Jesus!