Monday, March 28, 2011

“Jill of All Worries—Master of None”

I’m very competitive. If I’m in a class, I like to make an A. Wait—I don’t only want an A, but I want my PERCENTAGE to be higher than anyone else’s in the class—or maybe higher than any student that professor has ever taught. You get the idea. So, it’s only natural that I strive to be the best worrier I know. That’s tongue-in-cheek, of course. But you might think it to be true if you could peek at my worry-list.

Right now I have a specific little worry. It may be solved/gone by this afternoon. It may not. But I’m focused on it this morning. It’s getting a lot of my attention so far today (and last night, and a few days before that).

But I do not DESIRE to be really good at worrying. I desire to conquer the grip that worry often has on my life. So, once again, I have opened my notebook to the passages I have read many times (and have shared with many others) with a fresh commitment to “practice what I preach” about turning over my fear and worries to God. This file is called “My Fear Passages.” It includes these passages:

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. Psalm 56:3

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

You will keep in perfect peace Him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. – Isaiah 26:3 (NIV)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."- Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)

…God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” – Hebrews 13:5b-6 (NIV)

“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. – Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will direct your paths. - Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. - Psalm 46:1-2 (NIV 2011)

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. - Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV 2011)

Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. As for me, I call to God, and the LORD saves me. - Psalm 55:5, 16, (NIV 2011)

So, these verses have been on my heart and in my prayers. This morning, in a conversation with my sister, totally unrelated to this issue, she made a statement regarding her career direction right now. But her statement stayed in my mind after our phone conversation, as I applied it to my own state of worry. She said, “This [a direction related to her career] was not part of my master plan.” Then she quickly followed with, “…but I’M NOT THE MASTER.”

That’s what I need to remember. I pulled out this verse from my “Fear Passages” list for focus today:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

…Because I don’t really want to be the “master of worries.” I want to remember that I know and can trust the MASTER of all things in my life.

UPDATE: While typing the previous paragraph of this blog piece, I received a phone call that ends the worry about this particular issue. Thank You, Lord. Now, may I remember today’s “lesson” for the many more opportunities I will no doubt have to put it into practice.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Debut Concert

~Photos Courtesy of 323 Photography by Jen Peterson~
We were thrilled to attend the Debut Concert of Last Ones First, at RiverOaks Church. There was no admission charge, but tshirts and CDs were sold and donations were accepted for Mark and Tory's upcoming mission trip to Nicaragua. The music was wonderful, and Conner did a fantastic job with keys, percussion, and many vocal contributions.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Conner's Quartet at District Contest

This is Conner's first year to be in a school choir, so this was great experience for him, to compete at districts. He is also currently taking guitar lessons. He plays keyboard for the youth band at church. He also plays keyboard/percussion and sings background vocals in his dad's band, "Last Ones First."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Turning Point in My Family History

Today, March 4, 2011, marks the 55th anniversary of a significant event in my personal family history. On that date, my father acknowledged and accepted God’s call to become a preacher. He was almost 30. I was almost 9, the oldest of four (later to become five). His decision on that date was even more dramatic against the backdrop of his life to that point: he had started drinking in high school, and after entering the Army Air Corps in World War II, had become a “hopeless alcoholic” (his words).

studio pix 1954 bef Daddy's decision
Our family in 1954, before Daddy's decision
I remember with sadness (and still some tears) those early days of my childhood with an alcoholic father. But I also remember the day, shortly after February 29, 1956, when he came into the kitchen and said to his three daughters and baby son, “How would you kids like to have a preacher for a daddy?” A preacher? Are you kidding? No longer the embarrassing taunts from neighbors’ kids about how they were not allowed to play with us because of our father’s condition (often passed out)? “Yes! I would love it!" I remember answering. I never complained about, and was always thankful for, being a “preacher’s kid.” I had been something else, and I knew the miracle that had happened in our lives.

Daddy had made the choice to turn his life over to God, a poignant story I’ll save for another time, a few days before March 4 (on February 29, 1956). At that time, he had promised God that if He would take away from him the desire to drink, he would do anything God asked. God asked for his service in the ministry.

1956 at helena a few mos aft Daddy's decision
Our family in Summer 1956
So, Daddy and Mother, and us four kids moved to Arkadelphia, Arkansas, later that same year, for Daddy to attend Ouachita Baptist College, to prepare for ministry. He began preaching wherever he could find the opportunity, and became pastor of his first church while still in college, in August 1956.  Daddy graduated from college in three years, with a major in New Testament Greek and straight A’s on his transcript.

 mother and daddy at jessieville church in 59 daddy's preaching at jessieville 59
From Daddy comes my love of learning

My two sisters and I began singing, first in two-part harmony and then shortly thereafter in three-part harmony, and we sang “special music” a lot of times when Daddy preached. Thus began the important role of music in our lives, that continues to this day, in my siblings and our children and grandchildren.

Other than how my young little life changed dramatically on March 4, 1956, how was that date a turning point in my personal history? Because Daddy followed God’s call to be a preacher, when he finished college, he began looking for a church to pastor in Missouri, where he could continue his studies at a seminary. The church that called Daddy to be their pastor was Pleasant Hill Baptist Church, Jefferson City, Missouri.

Pleasant Hill Baptist Church where I met Russell 6-29-1959 600 dpi
Pleasant Hill Baptist Church
In that little church there was a wonderful family named Ford. They had four children as well: three boys and a girl. Daddy’s first day as pastor there was June 28, 1959. That evening, after church, I staked my territory (remember, I had two sisters). “The oldest Ford boy is mine,” I said. That was the day I met and fell in love with that stinkin’ cute Russell Ford (he was 14; I was 12). (My sister next to me later fell in love with another of the Ford boys, David, and they got married three years after us.)

Russ feb 14 1960 after soph homecoming
The love of my life, 1960
So, because Daddy turned his life over to God, accepted God’s call to be a preacher, followed God’s call to college, to his first pastorate, and then to Pleasant Hill Baptist Church in Missouri, I met the man God had ordained for me. And because of that, we have had a wonderful marriage for 45 years so far, two absolutely wonderful children (Mark and Sharida), and our four wonderful grandchildren (Tory and Conner, Alyssa and Dawson). And how will the story continue? Only God knows. For one thing, Daddy has a grandson in the ministry and a great-grandson who has already accepted God's call to ministry, not to mention other direct descendants and family members who serve God with their entire lives. But, even though we cannot know all the ways the story will continue through the generations, the origin of the story will never change.

I am a thankful child of God—a thankful daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother. I’m thankful that God called Daddy. I’m thankful that Daddy was willing to answer. I’m thankful that God allowed me to personally witness the awesome miracle of a changed life. And I’m thankful that the changed life affected history from his time forward. That’s the way it works.

One thing about growing older, you know—you have the special perspective of looking back and actually seeing how God “works all things together.”

Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”