Saturday, April 18, 2009

Haiku for Nina

...Haiku for Nina...

There was a girl
Prettier than anyone
Her name was Nina

Beautiful girl
Her face radiates
Brighter than all

Really creative
Much smarter than you and me
She is so gifted

Beautiful Nina
She makes me so happy
And makes me smile

She is my friend
I loved her from the start
I love her always

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

the wheels on the car go round and round...

It was finally here: Monday. It was the day I was leaving to Destin, FL for some vacation time with the ladies! I could hardly stand it! A few of the girls went down earlier that day, but Kelly and I were going to go that afternoon because of some previous engagements. We got on the road around 2:30pm in the car rental and we were headed on our way. Kelly rented the car, so I was only allowed to be passenger…which was torture! I did do a good job of reading the miles till turn on the GPS…I am a pro at it! We got through Tennessee, Birmingham, AL and almost in Montgomery, AL when it was about 7pm and it was time to make a quick stop for dinner and gas. We stopped at the Chik-fil-a in Prattville, AL…it was like an episode of Cheers because everyone knew each other. They couldn’t get to their table without stopping 4 tables of acquaintances. Kelly and I joked about listening in to their names and going up to them and pretending that we knew them just to through them off a little. It was a twilight zone moment!

We left and headed toward the interstate and stopped at the first and last gas station on that side of the median. It was a Raceway. I can’t say that I’ve ever been to a Raceway before. We fueled up and got some treats for the road. One of the treats inspired us to break out in song…Give me a break, Give me a break, Break me off a piece of that Kit Kat Bar…which Kelly ended with the comment “and now the Christ Church Choir knows what its been missing out on!” Seriously funny stuff!

We are on the interstate for about a mile of two when I hear a not so desirable sound. I asked Kelly about it and she thought it was the road because after all the roads in Alabama are not that wonderful to begin with. It didn’t settle well with me though. I looked over to the dashboard and it indicated that there was low air pressure in one of the tires. I pointed it out to Kelly and we agreed that pulling off on the next exit was a good idea. We turned into the first gas station and pulled up to the air dispenser machine thingy only to find an ‘out of order’ scribbled sign attached. Kelly turned the car around so that we could find another gas station and a man comes toward the car and lets us know that we have a flat time. Kelly rolls down the window and explains that the air dispenser is out of order and that we are going to the next gas station. He notifies us that he is a mechanic and would be willing to change the tire for us. Kelly and I look at each other and say "okay." Kelly gets on the phone with Avis Roadside Assistance and they instruct her to go to the Montgomery Airport where the Avis rental place is located. The mechanic man seriously changed the tire in less than 10 minutes…I mean…who does that? Apparently the man that helped us! Spare tire was on and the man was tipped and we programmed the GPS to take us to the Montgomery Airport which was only 2 exits done the interstate.

Within a few minutes we were at the Montgomery Airport. It was like ghost town when we walked in. No one to be found that was not an employee. I could probably count on my two hands the amount of people in the whole airport! No baggage at the baggage claim. No lost travelers. Just the security guards and car rental employees. We walk up to the Avis Car Rental kiosk to find no one there. Kelly walked over to Budget Car Rental kiosk and found the Avis man. The Avis man reminded me of the facial features of Mr. Rogers with a neon highlighter yellow comb-over hair-do. The first thing he said to us while walking over to the Avis counter is “I really hate when my break gets interrupted” with a non-expressive facial appearance. Really? Did he just say that? I remember not knowing how to respond as I considered how empty the airport was and assumed that the general flow of people is not all that extreme….So, I politely responded with “Yeah, because you probably need a break from all of the sitting around doing nothing!” Okay, so I did NOT respond like that, but I can guarantee you that went through my mind…but I don’t know…it could have been really busy all day. Well, Kelly tells him about the flat tire and that Roadside Assistance instructed us to come here. He proceeds to explain to us that the particular Avis that we were at was a privately owned Avis and not a Corporate Avis…which I didn’t really care about until he said that they had no corporate cars left at their location. They did earlier that day, he continued to explain, but not now. I didn’t feel the need to explain that I don’t feel any better knowing that they did earlier and don’t now, so I let that go. He told us that the nearest corporate Avis would be in Dothan, AL and we could go there. I looked at him with complete and utter confusion. Surely there is something far less drastic solution. He looked at us with his stone cold face and offered: “It just hurts my heart for you girls. It just hurts my heart.” No expression. This man could win a Poker contest because you would never know if he was bluffing…seriously no facial expression to indicate any emotion!

Kelly got on the phone with Avis and I chatted with Mr. Avis man. I asked him if Avis would rent a car from one of the 2 car rental companies on either side of their counter in order to compensate. His reply was priceless! He said, “well, you would think that would be the moral thing for them to do, but I can’t say for sure if they would.” First of all, moral thing! Ha! Second of all, he wasn’t offering it from the privately owned Avis, he was putting it back on corporate Avis! Wow! At about this time Kelly came over while on her cell phone with Avis and they asked if they could speak with Mr. Avis man. They both walked off while on the cell phone so I thought I would just take a little stroll because after all we had been just sitting for a few hours. Within 2 or 3 minutes, a very handsome man walks through the doors and to the Avis counter. When I see that he realizes that no one is at the counter I explained that Mr. Avis man was assisting my friend. We chat for a moment and I explain what the ordeal was. He said that he was returning a car and it could possibly be a corporate car since he was coming in from out of town. We immediately interrupted Mr. Avis man and explained that my handsome G.I. Joe new found friend was returning a car. G.I. Joe drove in from Jackson, Mississippi, but that the plate on the car was from Texas. Mr. Avis man checked the information of the car on the computer and voila! it was a corporate car. Mr. Avis man made another incredible statement at that moment, he said “well, it’s a corporate car, but all our service team have left for the day and no one would be able to clean it. They don’t come in till the morning.” Stunned and slightly confused we explained that it really didn’t matter to us since we’ll be returning it to Avis in Florida the next day. As long as it had gas and four tires we would be more than okay with it. Mr. Avis man and Kelly went to go check it out. As they went to do a walk around I chatted with G.I. Joe and he went on to explain that he here from Germany, but he sounded like my dear friend Martin O from Nigeria. He kinda’ looked like Martin too just a little broader/bigger. He told me that he had tried to return the car at 0200…me being ever so bright, thought about that for a second and realized that meant 2am! He tried to return the corporate car to the privately owned Podunk Avis at 2am, but to his dismay it was closed. Now he didn’t mention the details of the rest of his day, but I still can’t figure out why he would return the car at 8pm after being there at 2am. I would have assumed that if you can’t return it at 2am that you would return it sometime that morning after 8am and not 8pm. I really don’t care to figure it out because G. I. Joe angel came just in time to provide Kelly and I with a car. At that point I couldn’t hold back and I just had to let them all know that this was not coincidence and this is what my God does! He provides! My God cares about me and takes care of me! Budget lady grinned at me and I know that she was tracking with me. G.I. Joe and Budget lady got to hear how awesome my God is as we waited on Mr. Avis man. I don't really know how G.I. Joe left because I didn't see another person with him or see him get into another car (Stairway to Heaven anyone?).

Mr. Avis man and Kelly finally got back in and he finally said the most truthful and meaningful thing all night, he said “someone must really like you.” To which I whole heartedly explained that it was my God! His poker face did not show me if it was resonating with him, but I’m praying that it rocked his world! As he and Kelly finished the final paperwork Budget lady told me that if Mr. Avis man couldn’t do anything for us that she was going to get on the phone and help us out! How awesome is that!?!? She was so kind. She went on to say that we brought her some excitement tonight and that the last hour of her shift wasn’t going to be that bad.

Kelly and I loaded up the new corporate Avis rental car with our luggage, programmed the GPS back to Destin and hit the road again. As soon as we got on the interstate I looked at the clock and realized that the whole incident (starting from the flat to getting back on the road after the airport stop) did not take us more than an hour to an hour fifteen minutes! I could hardly believe how smooth that whole process turned out to be.

I don’t remember being afraid, worried, nervous, anxious, or panicked at any time during the little hiccup in the trip! In fact, Kelly may not feel the same way as me, but I was glad that it happened. It was so encouraging to me to see my God so evidently at work! What a blessing! My God is so great and so awesome. It’s funny to think about how something that could have been so dreadful turned out to be such a blessing and encounter with my God! It was a great way to start my vacation. I pray that the event was a blessing to Mr. Avis man, G.I. Joe angel, Budget lady, Kelly and anyone else that was part of (or reads about) the adventure! I pray that God would pour out a special blessing on everyone that was obedient to the Holy Spirit to act as they did!

Got to love it!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

when you have nothing good to say... it's been a while...and i wanted to write a bit while i was on vacation, but i made the very smart choice to not bring my laptop with that i'm back i'm goin to try to catch up a forgive me if i post a few things in a row...

At my job every Monday we start our day with a staff devotional. All the staff gathers together in the conference room and each week a different staff delivers their prepared devotion and we take a moment to give praise reports and make prayer requests know. We pray in unitey. It's really an awesome opportunity for us as a staff. The only thing is that every few months its your turn to be the one to do devotions! Ha! For most of the staff its nerve wrecking...but i don't remember ever hearing one that was poorly done...we're mostly girls (with exception of a few) that don't like talking in front of groups of people. Well, the last Monday in March was my turn. I actually thought it was supposed to have been the week before, so i was ready a week in advance...but that also meant i had to wait another week before i led devotions. :)

I knew that God had told me what i needed to speak on...and it was something that He was teaching me about. The awesome part about it was that the week before led up to what I was going to speak about...God is pretty nifty like that. If i was to title it it would be The Power of Testimony. God has really been speaking to me about this and reminding me the importance of it. So, I thought I would post some of my notes from the devotion to share with you. A lot of this comes from Bill Johnson's book Strengthening Yourself In the Lord and from my friend Clint Thomas....and of course my Jesus and His Word! Hopefully it resonates with you. If you have a testimony I would love to hear type it up and pass it along!

Proverbs 18:21 (NIV)
The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

A lot of times when we hear this verse we are quickly reminded about the negative that we speak or the power of death in our words. In fact, many of the sermons we hear that reference this verse usually speak of the trouble or pain that we cause with our words. We are told how bad gossip is and how it tears people down...which is all true. Yet there is so much more to the verse.

Today I want to focus on the power of life that we have in our words…specifically the power of testimony. We know that we can do a lot of damage with our words, but if we could learn to shift our focus off of the negative and focus on the positive we would begin to see less of that negative in our lives. Isn't it odd that people who say "I will never become like that person" ov er and over are the ones that are most likely to turn out like that person they didn't want to become? When we place our focus on something that's what we are causing to become reality. What if we shifted the focus off of thinking about what we didn't want to become to what we did want to become? I wonder how our attitudes would change.

Many times when we hear the word testimony we think of our salvation experience and though it is clearly a testimony it is not our only testimony.

A testimony is a written or spoken record of anything that God has done. When we declare what God has done, power is released to make that testimony happen again in the lives of those who hear it.

Testimonies serve for many reasons including:

1.) Testimonies of God connect generations to His promises.

In the Old Testament under the Law of Moses the people of Israel had to rehearse the testimony on a daily basis and teach it to their children. Their entire social and family life was built on the repetition of testimony (Duet 6). They didn't have the printed Word. They memorized the Torah by the age of 13.

They also built memorial stones and altars (Joshua 4).

Psalm 78:4-7 says:
We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

As long as they remembered what God has said and done and stepped out in faith with His strategies, they won supernatural victories. But when they stopped keeping the testimony, their faith for the miraculous diminished, as so do their obedience to His commands.

And it wasn't only in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament. In Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith chapter, it gives account to those who have gone before us. Throughout the New Testament, there is constant repetition of the miracles Jesus and the disciples had done. Paul recounts it in his sermons and many are saved.

2.) Testimonies reveal God’s nature. They reveal to us who He is. Failing to keep the testimony not only makes us forget who God is, but who we are.

Our expectation of God is what determines our level of faith. Our lowered expectation keeps us from recognizing and stepping into opportunities to see the miraculous.

When we speak our testimony, we speak life into us, others, situations and circumstances. We remind ourselves and others who God is. We declare who He is and it allows for Him to be that in others.

Our testimony helps build faith in others and they begin to believe that if God can do that for you then He can do that for them. It causes people to see past their own selves.

We should be establishing a culture of testimony in our personal lives, in our homes, and our families and friends.

We should be building memorials that remind us of what God has done and consider them regularly.

A couple weeks ago I had to give a testimony at a service on Thursday night. I was asked a couple days in advance and I immediately said yes. Later that day I was kinda regretting saying yes already. I felt as if my testimony had already been shared several times and most people had already heard it...Clint usually doesn't give me more than 2 minutes notice so maybe it was because I actually had time to think about it that i was being hesitant. I settled in my heart that moment that I was not going to back out and I was goin to give my testimony. I prayed about it and got some thoughts together, but really didn't spend too much time thinking about it. Then on Thursday morning I was doing phone relief for our receptionist who was out that day and I had the first two hour shift of the day. I had my book in my purse and since i was limited to the amount of work i was able to do from the receptions desk I pulled out my book to read. The chpater just so happened to be on the Power of Testimony. As I'm reading the following qoute lept off the page: "We rob people of their encounters with Him when we forget that the testimony matters to God." I was in complete awe of how amazing God was to speak to me through this book to remind me why I do give my testimony. It was a sweet reminder from my Daddy. It told me that He cared and knew what I was thinking. I'm pretty sure the author had no idea that I would have questioned giving my testimony that week and then going to read that chapter on the day i was going to give a testimony...but God knew! He graced me with the ressurance that He cared and that it mattered to Him. WOW! He's such a sweet and amazing God!

We should challenge ourselves to make memorials and to speak testimonies of what God is doing in our lives. We should tell others about the awesome things God is doing our lives to encourage and uplift them.

After the devotional throughout the week i heard so many awesome and miraculous testimonies of how God was moving in their lives. It was like being on a high when I heard these incredible accounts! I loved hearing them! I would love to hear some of yours as well. I know that I need some parting of the red sea in my life and if it takes speaking it into existence by recounting when God parted the red know I'm gonna do it! Keep your testimony alive today. Remember what He's done for you and share it! It's going to make a difference in someone's life!