Sunday, August 15, 2010


God is in the details. I have heard it often, and I do believe it. Last night, I was talking with some friends about coincidence--or rather--the lack of coincidence. I truly believe that everything that might be considered a coincidence is actually orchestrated by God to reveal his mercy and his glory.

For example, when my family gathers at my parents' house for big "lake" weekends, we are often privileged to see a bald eagle or two flying overhead. There are a couple of bald eagles that nest near mom & dad's house, so it is not so surprising that one might occasionally make an appearance. However, in the nearly 9 years since my brother, Randy, was lost to the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, the appearance of one of the eagles has taken on special significance. Boiled down, though, the sight of that bald eagle is a reminder to my family that God has neither forgotten us nor forsaken us. Though we miss Randy all of the time, his absence is felt most profoundly at those family gatherings. At those times, Randy would be a boat-driver, water-ski teacher, and all around good uncle, son, husband, brother, dad, and friend. He was ALWAYS at the lake to have a good time with his family. If there was fun to be had, he was in. For the past nine years, I don't think I'm alone in wondering how life would be different if Randy were still alive. It is hard to fathom, as the years since 9/11 have shaped who we are, what we consider important, and how we love. When that bald eagle flies, I think we take a moment to pause on how the passing years have shaped us, and how God has used real tragedy to mold us and shape us into loving him, and each other, more. I can't speak for the rest of my family, but an eagle's appearance also causes me to pause to consider God's mercies on us during that horrible time, and in the years that have passed since then. Do I think it's a coincidence that an eagle flies when we're together? Clearly not.

Another example, then I'll get to my point, I promise. My brother-in-law, Brent, died a few years back. It was horrible. Lots of lives were, and still are, affected by his passing. My sister, Judy, once told me a story of how she finds quarters when there is something she is really concerned about, or just can't figure out. The odd thing about quarters, though, is that Brent collected them. As she would worry and pray, and she'd find a quarter, she started to realize she was not alone in her fear or her anxiety. Now, to be clear, I don't think Brent had left quarters around just for Judy to find. I also don't think God put quarters in Judy's path to freak her out. I DO think that God put Judy on a path to solving problems, and those quarters were just good reminders that she was not alone, in spite of the circumstances she was in. Oh, yes, God is in those kinds of details.

This brings me to my point. Today was a sweet day. I've been involved in a church plant here in my hometown for a couple of years. We have met in homes, prayed, and trusted the Lord to build his church here. We have prayed for this city, that God would make clear that we were in the right place to do his work. As the reality of having worship here in my hometown grew nearer, we also worked on the details, things like, where would we worship? who would be in charge of music? of the nursery? how would we be intentional about welcoming folks we did not already know? and on and on. Well, this morning was it...our first service (technically, a practice. We wanted a few weeks to work out any hiccups). We each had a job, a part to play in setting up for worship. We were ready, or so we thought. As we got nearer and nearer to the beginning of worship time, I kept seeing more and more people. How could it be that almost everyone I'd met in a two-year journey to becoming a "real" church was present? There were people I'd met years ago, and more who were newer to the church. There were even a few strangers thrown in the mix for good measure. With four weeks to go before the "public" launch of our church, this first morning was shaping up nicely.

God was in that room, heard our confession, our prayers, our song, and, I pray, our worship of the one who made it all possible. During the sermon, my friend leaned up to me with something underlined in his bulletin. "I counted sixty-three folks," he said, then leaned back. I smiled, because I got it. He leaned forward a few minutes later and asked, "You see why that's a big deal, right? Look." David was preaching from Psalm 63.

Do I think there's something special in that number? Not normally. Do I see God using the details in this--and every--day to reveal who he is to us? Absolutely.

PS-I talk about my church a lot. If you want to know more about it than my random drivel, go here.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Amy and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

So, this week was pretty cruddy. I feel like the bad news just kept rolling in. There is so much tragedy and hurt in this world and I feel like sometimes it can overwhelm me. By Thursday, I felt like I just wanted to stay in bed instead of facing the day. Alas, that was not meant to be. I managed to make it through the day on Thursday, but I knew I needed an attitude adjustment to get through Friday.

As I got ready for the day on Friday, I tried to think in terms of "this could be worse." I realized that a year ago I felt like crap, doing a dose of chemotherapy in Houston. I could NOT have a job. I could NOT be able to pay my bills. I could STILL be doing chemo. Praise God that none of those things are happening.

While driving to work, I had a little conversation with God. Thanks for the sun (it's a hundred degrees), thanks for the green grass (man, it's work to mow that). So, I started over. God, thanks for your Son who is my satisfaction. Thank you for giving me a reprieve from pursuing my own perfection, thank You that He is my perfection. Lord, let me be a mirror--even if I'm a warped, beat-up, sliver of a mirror--let me be a mirror of your glory to others. Thank you for your provision, your grace, and for loving me when I am unlovable, which feels like most of the time lately.

It's amazing, that grace. It took my crabby attitude, my weak & mealy heart, and turned me to face the day as a reflection of a good, kind, loving God. I managed to express my appreciation to one of my teachers today. I got to share dinner with friends, followed by ice cream in the park. I laughed much. I was surprised by friends in town from New York. I cried tears of grief for suffering friends and I cried tears of pure joy. I know a Father who knows me, who understands my suffering, who knows the darkness of my heart, and who loves me endlessly and with joyful abandon. Hallelujah!