An empty seat at the lunch table~

This past Saturday I had the joy to attend another Beth Moore Simulcast. If you aren’t up to date on this blessing, a simulcast is a live streaming video of an event that is happening somewhere in the world. One of THE best uses of the electronic world that has ever happened, in my opinion. I am in SW FL, Beth broadcast from an arena in Indiana. On board together; all viewing, all praising, all worshiping…. AT THE SAME TIME, were 190 thousand of us. In unison. 11 countries included. All 50 states represented. It’s just amazing to even attempt to wrap my finite mind around. What a beautiful thought it places into our souls when we experience days together like Saturday. Snapshots of tribes & nations & tongues, praising/worshiping, knee deep in the word, as heaven calls us to do. If that doesn’t just take up depth & residency in your core & bring your heart to its knees, well then I am not sure what gets your spirit cranking. This joy absolutely smothers me beyond words.

Before this event, as I do in my daily prayer & study time, I asked God how He would reveal Himself to me. How would He give me the spiritual ears to hear Him discerningly & unscaled spiritual eyes to see Him front & center? It seems after all of the years of His arrival in my life, that I would stop expecting these grandiose entrances & remember He comes in the simplistic moments. And He came Saturday, as He did so many times in the Bible…..over a meal.

Let me set the table for you mentally: we broke for lunch, all of us high on Jesus. We filed one by one into the Fellowship Hall of the host church to choose our table. My women’s group came in a cluster of around 17 of us, regular attendees & guests. So we piled into the room & did that deer in the headlights room scan to decide where the bulk of us would congregate to eat. (not sure why picking a table is such a big deal but boy was it) As nothing in God’s time table is ironic or by chance, neither was the table we sat down to enjoy our meal.

After a few minutes of unwrapping our food & chatting, checking up on our families on our cells, a very nice & attractive young women was seated at the only vacant place at our table, which was directly in front of me. We all continued to talk & included her in our conversation until I realized I had not even personally introduced myself. I noticed my friend had engaged her in chat & before I had a chance to stick out my hand, she looked at me & said, “Jada she is homeless, you need to hear her story” And that’s where the day pivoted & God’s spirit in me went into combat mode & I almost choked on my turkey sandwich.

I have a huge heart for the homeless. I’ve served in homeless ministry & developed friendships over the years, with those still homeless & many who have phased into housing. Their hand ups allow many to serve back into the homeless communities they were released from. I will tell you something right now, there is an incorrect stigma in 2014 that attaches itself to people who are homeless. When you meet them on their ground, you meet their stories & their stories will change your life & your view over the things you take for granted each day. I understand there are many on the streets that are riddled with drug & alcohol abuse…..but many are NOT & this was a story, that only a snapshot of my day encountered, was still a moment that has forever affected me & those involved, with how mighty God moved on & through us all last Saturday.

Lisa & her TWO little girls, ages 7 & 3, are without a home. She was evicted from her home in FT Lauderdale. The FT Lauderdale which is 3+ hrs & 218 miles away from the event we were attending. She spoke about moving forward & how she knew that God brought her to this event for a reason. And when Beth had said, someone is here today & didn’t know they’d be attending, someone just found out last night that they’d be in attendance…. she said with tears in her eyes, “That’s me. I am her.” She explained that even her very best friend hadn’t offered she & her girls a place to stay. She did have a chance to put her whole life in storage before she had no where to go. She contacted shelters, but because she was not in danger of abuse, she & the girls were turned away….one agency even told her to take the girls to an underpass or sleep under a bridge for the night, which she obviously refused to do. She said she was just about to helplessly show up at a police station & beg them to give her & the girls a place to sleep & the offer to come here arrived.

Someone purchased bus tickets & off to our event & town they came. She told us that when we had our afternoon break, a lady was transporting her & the kids to a church based shelter located an hour away. She was very grateful for this chance & so positive & faithful about what was ahead. I asked her if over her life course, she’d ever had a chance to know & accept Christ? She said yes & accredited that belief in being why God had placed her there that day. She shared the momma worry over her girls well being. How the oldest missed school & was an honor student & the child feared this situation would cause her to lose that giftedness. It was such a tender moment. Our group decided we’d take a love offering between us, like the widow with coins, whatever we had, all in. We told her not to leave because we wanted to surround her in prayer before she went to the shelter.

As we were released for the break, we were called by Beth Moore to use our sanctuary’s or wherever in the world our groups were simulcasting, as a place for prayer & ministry if needed. That couldn’t have been more of a perfect, divine appt for us. We circled her chair, one of the women with us anointed her head with oil & we laid hands on her, praying & believing for her with prayers through God & tears. It was one of the most emotional & lovely things I have ever experienced. I think more so because of the surprise & divinity of the whole thing. We met her precious daughters as they were leaving & their little faces are so imprinted in my mind & on my heart. They’d had a great day playing with the other kids on site & were enjoying snacks. They had no idea what their momma was facing. No idea they were headed to a homeless shelter & how momma’s heart felt. I will be honest, mine felt like it was being ripped out piece by piece.

If you pray, I ask that you lift up Lisa & her daughters & their future. I never would’ve dreamed she was a homeless woman; which is why we never need to judge someone’s outward appearance as having it “all together”. When we’re obedient to communication & words of kindness, God opens doors for us to be used to love & support one another. Ways where we direct others back to Him through the love we have been so blessed to share. Like I have said before, we are all one crisis & one checking acct away from the situation she is experiencing. Not everyone has an army of family & friends to throw their doors open, but the church assembled through Jesus Christ does. We are all called & commissioned for these moments. You ask, He’ll deliver.

I thanked God so much for placing her at my table & even though we may never see her again, we are promised that one day in His kingdom we will be seated together for a mighty banquet. It is definitely true that some of the greatest moments God uses occur over meals, breaking bread & thanking.

I encourage you as well, to always leave an empty seat for someone at your table or in your own life….. God will be faithful to always fill it.

 

Facebookless in FL…….

After 7.5 years I decided a few weeks ago to finally take down my personal FB page. I think it’s almost 2 weeks. Maybe more like a week & some days, nonetheless this was a monumental day for me. Still is- I am seriously still in some sort of dis-attached & foreign world; as absolutely ignorant & 4th grade it is for me to even type that.

I had mentioned on Twitter, which is a whole new weird world for me too, that the hours leading up to the deletion process kept growing increasingly hard. Then it hit me like running into a brick wall, what I had really known all along; FB wasn’t a hobby, it had become an idol. Things that have no control over us are very easy to walk away from- this was surprisingly difficult at first.

Now I am one of those that will tell you whole heartedly & truthfully, FB wasn’t an idol cast that misplaced my daily time with God, my care for the fam, my daily responsibilities, etc. Because I knew that part to be true, I thought I was in a safe zone since my important business was being attended to each day & 1st. See that’s the tricky thing about idolatry, you do not see the statues being erected, you just seem to “show up” one day sacrificing to a brazen altar with the slaying of your time & attitude, having no idea how it happened or how to back out of it. And as one of my favorite quotes states, “the sin in your life which has the most control over you, is the one you defend the most.” (<—- if you feel that quote not to be true, take the top 3 things in your life, besides time w/ God each day, & challenge yourself to walk away from those things for one month…two weeks… that is precisely where you will find your strongholds. Needless to say I had a list of others beside FB & this has been a very challenging & revealing month for me in the walk away dept.)

As I was pondering what I would say to you in this blog about my absence from FB, I started to jot down things, just in A WEEK, that I was noticing about myself & my world bubble. I know again, it’s preposterous to even have this list, but I think it’s absolutely necessary seeing as how everywhere I turn, from babies a year old to the elders, seem to have their heads down swiping an electronic device. For those who can read, what exactly are they reading? Billions of people. Face buried. Reading, absorbing, internalizing, externalizing, having seeds of fear & anger planted, dividing, over thinking, believing things that are overly sensitized or untrue, arguing, bullying—- What are we anymore? It seems to me that through FB & other entities, we have become a people who are simply programmed. What to think, what to believe, what to say, wear, eat, drink. How to spend our money. Where to donate our money. How to raise our kids, how not to, how to speak to our spouse. How to vote, how to pray….I mean it’s NEVER ending & frankly I am over it. I am absolutely exhausted with the whole thing. Obesity, stress, addictions, adultery, Godlessness, materialism, debt, anxiety….at its highest, especially in the U.S. Why?? I don’t think that answer is rocket science & I know you don’t either. However, being aware & knowing something, is completely different than actually moving on it. It’s so easy to talk, so hard to act.

 

In no particular order, here is my never short & explained list of things realized in my time off FB aka feeling like The Prehistoric Age:

  • Time wasted: A LOT! Obviously, that isn’t an educated or realistic time frame, because I have no idea how much time I have taken back lately. I don’t time myself. Now granted I have done no life changing things with this extra time & have felt myself on more than one occasion staring into space for 15 minute increments, totally glazed over. Yes, I have accrued extra time, still working on accepting it & making well use of it. Like maybe reading the 37 books I didn’t “have time” to read over the summer.
  • Judementalism: In real life I love getting to know people. I love hearing their stories & testimonies. I love seeing pics of kids & well traveled lives. I love a great quote & an impactful blog or story.  I however, do not like 700+ people’s dinner lists, hourly itinerary, complaints, gripes, aches, & pains inundating my zone- I do not like to watch people I respect turn into critical hate mongers of others. I do not think everyone has a right to express their opinions on social networks without having a sane minded person review said items first. I do not want to “read your diary/journals” to the world all day. I don’t want to read your political & controversial ideas, because many are SO rooted in unChristlike attitude, bigotry & close mindedness that my head may blow up. And above every thing about FB or anything else I am plugged into, what I truly do not want, is to be 24-7 purposely judging someone or a bunch of someone’s inside my already full mind. Which is precisely what I had become. I am not being rude, I am being absolutely honest with you, as I know that almost everyone reading this, if not everyone reading this, who logs onto FB daily feels this run through their heads when reading others posts. Correct me if these aren’t some things you’ve had trample through your thoughts: “oh wow another bad day for you, big shocker” “another physical ailment, today it’s your big toe, what next” “nice scripture about faith this morning, way to follow it up with a post about how bad your life is lately; great example of faith” “cool weekly motivational post, however you are doing the same nothing that you were doing x years ago when you were about make to monumental changes” “your kids don’t respect you or themselves online or anywhere else…yes ’tis a mystery who they model that behavior after”  Like I said, stuff like that sounds horrible to think about others, because it IS horrible, especially for someone, like myself, who does NOT want to live this way. So I & you have a choice. That’s why I made the choice I did. There’s no boldness in that, maybe there is, but there is freedom in unchaining ourselves from things that make us unhappy or terrible people who drain us from being our real selves. Our conversations or texts & emails should not be about what people do online. Even taking screenshots of their behavior & sending as an entertainment method to prove what a nut job they are & we have all our ish together. No matter how ridiculous someone is or acts, even against us personally, it is not our place to stoop & retaliate or judge them. I am a victim of people doing this TO me & I am also too many times doing it in reverse….as everyone online is also doing or has been doing. Whether silently or outwardly.
  • Isolation: Over the past 7+ years, I have watched something happen to me & to all of us. I see it happening to my teenagers & friends. With all of this virtual communication we have stopped the communing face to face & created electronic worlds instead. Only until we need a night out, someone to call on the phone, a group to watch sports with….do many realize they have isolated themselves into a place where no real people actually exist. Insert the sadness & depression. In this isolation & online identity, people don’t really have any effort or accountability in/with their personalities anymore. We read each other’s words in our own voices, in whatever mood we are in that moment & we create characters out of each other & in some way ourselves. Why is social anxiety & social awkwardness on the rise? Why are people growing increasingly rude & self serving in public, in traffic, on planes? People just do not know how to act & react in person anymore. Families even sitting in the same room, the same home, on the same couch, are texting & FB’ing vs actual verbal connecting & communicating. Don’t get me wrong, my life is totally crammed & sometimes a text is all I can give to someone, like many people, but when we are a society who says I can’t serve others, I can’t call you, I can’t text you, I can’t go for coffee because I am way too busy….but I can spend more hours than some people spend at work, online, then again we have an alarming issue. Some people choose not to even leave the house for church because they assume it’s just the same to watch online. We have isolated ourselves & each other into some technological prison & it’s destroying our families & our lives, whether folks are aware or not.
  • Peace: Not being berated 24-7 with info finds the mind time to rest. Or mine at least. Not sure about you, but my mind scrolling through a news feed bounces between 70 different emotions & topics in a 10 minute increment. I cannot process this stuff that quickly. Nor can you. I can go from crying over a father with cancer/daughter wedding video, to a delicious recipe, to a fear driven news story, to a race fueled or Christian persecution article which spews me to anger, to eye rolling over complaining or selfies, or inspiration over a blog post….. it’s.just.too.much.and.we.are.on.overload. We need to understand the reason being still & choosing peace is so important is because we function less at the level we were created too, when we are on mach mental speeds. That understanding is why we should be unplugging from all of this crap & clearing our minds for the peace & the stillness we were created to experience. Society 25yrs ago, even 15yrs ago, did not have the issues we or our kids have today. A large part of this mess & this stress & striving, in my opinion, is social networking & online overload. If there is ever one thing I am so proud to never have been in existence in my teen & early adulthood, is FB. I am also extremely proud that FB has not become a tool of addiction for my own teenager. But, I will admit, I fear a large battle once my 4yr old enters the elementary age & where she is aware of a society who cannot function without their gadgets. Yes elementary, say it with me & sigh & shudder & hang your heads….. elementary school. This again is my opinion, however, to me, children have NO business with FB/IG/Twitter/ or anything else accounts for ‘communication & social aspects’. When they’re own parents or the parents of friends, or other adults in their lives are throwing things into the world’s view online every day with no filter or concern, what message does this send to the children they’re ‘friends’ with? This is not necessary. It just really isn’t. And when somehow a pedophile or a bully jumps into their immature paths, we find ourselves confused. Have we as a society not just opened the door & said, hey come on in & contribute to the demoralizing of our future generations? There is no peace for our kids, our minds, when we have this much garbage being dumped into our cerebral paths every day. I will be honest, and maybe it’s just ME, but since unplugging from my FB page, I am 95% less po’d & frustrated each day. I am absolutely clueless to some things going on out there & I am absolutely thrilled to be this way. The less I know, the less I need to know. Bottom line.
  • Earth Still Rotates: Believe it or not, I deleted my page & life went on. For me & my 700ish ‘friends’. Shocking yes, I know. All of the things & people that were attached to FB were still accessible once the page was down. News, blogs, fan sites, ministry related things:: all there. Except my Timehop app & I will admit I am mildly devastated not being alerted to what my 5 years ago self was doing at this very moment. Which ironically, was probably griping about how much I couldn’t stand FB. #irony. But, again if I want to know if something is going on, I will get in touch & ask or research it. The last 6 people I’ve asked about FB & have I missed any announcements, prayer requests, or things that I should know? The answers are the same: “no. nothing. it sucks & it’s still the same complaining, irritating mess it’s always been.”  Alrighty then, back to the point, that even though I feel dis-attached, I am in fact exactly where me & my nerves need to be. #chillzone
  • Who Stays In Touch: This is the kicker. It’s to be expected, but I think it’s one large reason people keep at the page every day. The fear once the page ends, so will their internet social life. That no one will be around. They won’t know what to do with themselves if they aren’t connected. And I can’t say I didn’t think of that to some degree before pulling mine down. Having a lot of friends & family spread all over the U.S. I didn’t know how we’d keep in such easy constant touch. However, I gave options for that as I didn’t go full internet rogue or anything. You could  follow me on IG, Twitter or my blog. Many did, many didn’t, many text, many don’t, many email, many don’t….. pulling the core of your daily communication, even with offering backup contact alternatives, definitely weeds out the devoted to your life, from the undevoted. I truly think this is an awesome thing, not a sad one. It shows you the truth in the online costumes people wear & the dressed up characters masquerading around like they truly care about how your day is going or what you ate for a snack. We all say we like truth. We enjoy reality. We like up front attitudes. Until we actually have to be truthful/real/up front with ourselves & how people really feel about us. Often in those times an individual will see who or what they actually live for when they completely pull themselves from the devices & the people they’ve spent years informing about their daily lives & details.

 

I know it sounds totally ignorant & I have laughed several times over taking time to type a blog about leaving FB & why, but it seems every person I speak to has the same gripe list, but continues to stay on there, justifying hiding other people’s irritating info from their timelines instead of removing the individual or themselves from each others points of contact. It may save respect them by not deleting them, but where is the respect for our own personal space?  I am just not sure why we are tolerating this for ourselves & allowing something so ridiculous to rob us, rob God, rob our families, of so much important time that will be of such value to us when we don’t have very much of it left one day. Look at what a difference people could make in one day or one week by removing at least one internet account from their lives. Posting things on social sites isn’t action & it isn’t activism, but physically plugging into the things we promote or say we stand for will change communities & the lives of others for the long haul.

I know for me when pulling this page down, I went to God & asked Him to reveal some things about me personally. Where am I finding my value? Am I searching for applause or attention from people? Is my worth attached to how many “likes” I receive after saying or posting up? Am I separated from self so He can be more or am I unknowingly seeking to glorify me? I could list all day.

The main thing that God said to me in return was take it down & you’ll see the truth after the action, not before. You’ll truly see if you live to give me the glory or if deep down you’re seeking the applause. If I want you on a platform to represent me, then I will open the doors & place you there. Return to simplicity, that’s where you’ll find my heart; in the whispers, not the clanging & clamoring of the world. Guess what? God was right.

I said that eventually I would create another page, a page more ministry & inspirational geared. I suppose they call that a fan page. I however, am not someone who needs fans & that too makes me burst out in laughter. If God prompts me to do it I will. Maybe He will tomorrow, maybe He will next month, maybe never…. I really don’t know. I guess a part me feels delivered from the weight of all that unhappiness & I feel like if you’ve been delivered from something, why turn around & go backwards, pick up another form of that poison & re-place it in your life? Seems insane.

I guess whoever took the time to comb over this knows where to find me if need be. You can always scroll down to the bottom of this blog & subscribe by email. That way you receive blog posts from me in real time. I also have my IG & Twitter account links on the side of this blog, unless you’re reading on your cell & I believe the links are at the bottom—making it easy to just click & follow me still::: that’s in the event you miss the thousands of pics of the kids & the fam.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope you find some time to personally challenge yourself to step away from the noise. Praying peace for you my friends!