Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I Dreamed a Dream....

...of taking my children to see the musical production of Les Miserables.

Our kids love music. They have been immersed in it all of their lives. All genres. All through the days, weeks, months and years of their youthful existence.

My oldest son was such a fan of Phantom of the Opera, that he would sit mesmerized in front of our laptop watching the iTunes Visualizer across the screen as the soundtrack played.

He was two.

Our kids also love their parent's "dates" and always want to know where we go and what we do while we are out. Our last date was to see the movie version of Les Miserables. When we got back, they wanted to know all about it, and when they could see and hear it.

So, we hopped on the computer and showed them some photos from the movie explaining the main cast of characters and the story line. This led to playing the soundtrack on Spotify for many days on end, buying an abridged version of Victor Hugo's novel, and even renting a special version of the musical that aired on PBS a few years ago.

They were entranced.

When I saw that the musical tour was coming through California and stopping in Sacramento in June, I dreamed the dream of taking the older kids to see it. However, life happened and bills happened and by the time I got around to seriously looking at the ticket prices, I was bummed out.

But then...

My mother-in-law needed help making a delivery from her store up in the mountains by where we live. She wanted to hire my husband to help. So, we spent a day or two finding friends and family who would be willing to help us by taking a kid or two (I had already paid for a 2-day conference out of town) so that he could take the extra job.

A fabulous family at church came through as well as my husband's brother and sister-in-law, and the delivery was on.

Flush with extra money in hand, I went to the website to get the tickets and found that our preferred day and seats were not available. Nervously, I checked our other available date and saw that there were 5 seats available, but when I added them to my cart, $55 worth of "fees" got tacked on -- making the tickets out of our price range.

So, I put on my thinking cap. Who did I know in Sacramento?

The answer was....not really that many people. However, a Facebook friend came to mind, so I jotted off a quick FB message and explained the situation, apologized for the cheekiness of my request, but humbly asked if there was any way getting tickets the box office in downtown Sacramento was possible.

She responded within the hour and said $55 in fees was ridiculous and oh yeah, her husband works downtown and she would see what she could do.

I should add here that although we are FB friends, I have never met this amazing woman in person. I was also asking her to shell out money on faith that I would be true to my word to pay her back asap via Paypal.

So, now you have the full sense of my audacity.

We had a lazy morning today and I didn't get around to checking my email until around lunch time and there it email from my friend from Sacramento with an attachment -- it was a photo of 5 tickets. Her champ of a husband had bought the tickets already. Today.

As I looked at the amount -- the ticket price I was hoping for plus a modest $3 facility fee (take that $55 fee!!!), I went over and picked up the money that Rylie had brought home from his mom and counted it out...only to find that I was short $3.

So I looked over to the left and sitting right there...a $3 check from a friend.

Total amount needed for Les Miserables tickets in my hand.

I replied with an effusive thank you message for her and her hubby and then sent that Paypal transfer asap.

And then I marveled.

Yes....that's what I did.

You see...this is just another of maaaannnny instances when I have felt the warm hand of God's grace on my back reassuring me that he's got everything under control.

I had asked him to provide a way for us offer an amazing experience to our children, and He did.

In a BIG way.
  • He orchestrated a delivery needed, and thus an extra set of hands needed.
  • He gave us amazing friends and family who love us enough to take our munchkins to make some extra money in tough economic times.
  • He worked through a friend that I've never met to procure the tickets at a price that we could afford (The idea that they would inconvenience themselves for my family is still blowing my mind.)
  • The tickets for the right price (exact right price) and the right day were available on the day we needed them to be.
So, the next time I'm tempted to wonder if God truly cares about the "little things" or is powerful enough to orchestrate things for my favor, I will know the answer.

"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." - Ephesians 3:20

Monday, March 11, 2013

Chosen for His Glory

I had the privilege of attending a conference this past weekend called Current for Women. The premise of the entire event was to create an intimate atmosphere that would provide a safe and dedicated place to worship and hear from God. They made this happen by putting a lot of effort into the lighting, the music, and highlighting all the senses.

I have been looking forward to this conference for many months. My beautifully gifted friend, Sarah, has been an integral part of the ministry team for these events. She is a wonderful and talented artist and she spends the entire time painting a huge masterpiece that is divinely-inspired. She has been raving about Current for a few years and has encouraged me to come. So, I already had an idea of what was in store. But of course, I really had no idea.....

I think my enthusiasm about this opportunity was a bit infectious, and I was happy to find myself with three other kindreds in a car headed down to Visalia last Friday evening. While driving down to the conference, all of us shared a word that described what we were hoping for over the two days. Mine was "Refresh."

I have just been tired in pretty much every aspect of my life. I had this sense that I was coming close to the edge of exhaustion. But, more than anything, I had this overwhelming need to be refreshed in my spirit and be recharged for the coming weeks and months.

So, on Friday night, I was eager to participate in many of the stations available designed to provide a place to read an excerpt and either journal, pray or do some type of activity designed to help us go deeper and go further in our walk with the Lord.

I especially enjoyed one about tears that was very thought-provoking for me ("Tears = Liquid Prayer"). And of course, I had to do the Mosaic Station about Brokenness and how we let God take those broken pieces and create something new and beautiful. They had me at the top quote by Ann Voskamp.

Getting to create my own mosaic on a big canvas was the icing on the cake. Mine is pictured at the top of this blog and I knew that it was to be called, "Trials Turned to Gold," because if I know anything at all, I know that God has miraculously turned the worst trials and pain of my life into gold.

However, I gave the Foot Washing station a wide berth. But as the night went on, I just knew that I was supposed to go and do it, but really resisted the idea of being served by having my feet washed.

So when I finally broke down and walked over to it, the sweet lady told me to read the beautiful sign in front of me and choose a word.

As my gaze graced the beautifully painted sign (another Sarah masterpiece), I saw "Refreshed", and I cried.

Needless to say, I continued to cry throughout the process of washing my mommy-weary feet, and as she prayed a beautiful prayer over me with this theme.

"You will stand strengthened by the nourishment of the Word, Water and breath of life. In the depths of your spirit I pray you have the eternal refreshing of the Spirit of God flow through you whenever you look to Jesus."

Lesson learned....when God tells you to do something...even if it's something you really don't want to do it. Because He knows what we need and we don't. Not always. Maybe not usually.

The rest of the conference was amazing. But, truly, at this point, I was full! And yes, I was feeling pretty refreshed at this point. So, the rest was just more...and more...and more!

The theme was "Chosen," and God really orchestrated some amazing moments for dear friends of mine who came with me and were blown away when the first video story (one of many) started to play about a local family who had adopted a child. It could have not been more perfect for them....they intend to adopt children some day...and maybe soon.

Yet, it was profound for the rest of us too.

Do you know the freedom that comes when you understand that you are a beloved daughter (or son)-- not a slave or a robot -- that you have been lovingly and purposeful adopted?

Hearing the verse, Romans 8:15 was like a soothing balm:

"For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, 'Abba Father!'"

And I felt that same lightening bolt when our speaker, Jill, shared the simple truth that while there can be accidental conception, there is never an accidental adoption. Adoption is always with full intent and purpose.

The cherry on top was when the worship team continued to play and sing and my kindreds and I stayed behind to just soak it in. The song selection was incredible. At first, I had to laugh about 3 songs into it because it was so tailor-made for one of my beauties. I called it "Suzanne's Playlist".

But then I got walloped by Kari Jobe's, "You Are For Me," and my day was never the same. I couldn't hold back the tears when they sang:

"I know that you are for me, I know that you are for me, I know that you are for me...even in my weakness,
I know that you have come now,even if to write upon my heart,to remind me of who You Are..."

Because I realized that this is what I had been feeling all along....



Worn Out

A Disappointment

But that line..."even in my weakness"....(and dare I say, especially in my weakness)...destroyed a good way. And shined a light on why I so desperately wanted to

He chose me?


He did choose me, and I'm still trying to wrap my very human-sized brain around that universally-big notion.

"And having chosen them, he called them to come to him. And having called them, he gave them right standing with himself. And having given them right standing, he gave them his glory."
- Romans 8:30 (NLT)