Loving long

Today is February 8th, 2012. Today I leaned hard into grace & you know know what? There was enough for me today. God’s good like that, always giving more than I need though maybe not in the ways I expect for that “more than enough” to look like.

Tomorrow is February 9th & my Papa’s 57th birthday. I love him with all my heart & this year more than others I am pained to not spend the day celebrating with him. On his birthday last year his dad, my Grandpa Carroll went into a hospice home to live out his last week of life. A life stuffed full of stories,  full of adventure and cut too short.

My dad’s been dreading tomorrow, dreading his first birthday without his father, dreading the memories. I’ve been calling him everyday for about two weeks, sent him a card & a present, even mailed him a box of homemade cookies but none of those things can ease the pain of  living without one whom you so love.

He told me over a tearful skype date tonight that so much of the pain he is feeling today  is due to regret & guilt of things undone, unsaid, & too little time spent.

Oh the deep wound of regret.

We ended our call with no ending. No solution to the pain, no medication. And as I went through the motions of helping my Southern Lady prepare for the night, all I could see was my Grandfather in her face, behind the oxygen tubes & in the tired & sometimes fearful eyes. And my heart yearned to give more to ease her pain, longing for more time to ease his. To sit by his chair, stroke the thin skin on his hand & just be with him again.

There’s not enough time on this side of eternity, not enough time to LOVE. To love as long, as hard & as deeply as people deserve. And as I pondered that painfully tonight I heard a whisper in my soul,  “there’s only ‘not enough time’ for now. ”

So I called my dad back to remind him to lift up his eyes to the Lamb that was slain. My Grandfather loved the Lord & though now we do not see him & now we wait long to be reunited, my daddy doesn’t have to live in pain that his time to love his father is over forever.  Though now we wait. Now we ache. But only for now, only for a moment. We as the living, those who were dead & have been brought to life, we never ever have to stop loving & being loved. We get to love for forever & be loved for forever.

We get to love long & never stop. Life abundantly, overflowing for forever. Thank you Jesus for all of your love, for all that you bought us. We love you Forever.



The Most Beautiful Smile

Today I’m thankful for the wonders of technology. That’s saying something, because a handful of years ago I tried to forbid electronics from my home. Seriously. My sister went through quite the battle to bring her TV into the house when she moved from Arizona. We’re all thankful that phase is over.

But today I sat in a little prayer room in DC with the IHOP-KC webstream on the big screen in the corner as my friends led the prayer meeting praying for a Revival in the teens of that city. From half-way across the country I could enter into the same prayer meeting, see their faces & hear their voices & sing the choruses & cry & pray for the teens who hold my heart. And I was really thankful for that big screen, & for live webstreaming.

This afternoon I received a text message from a friend who has been ministering in South Africa. She’s been out of the country for almost 3 weeks & I have deeply felt her absence in my life. Though I can’t see her & the distance between us is still, well about 1,066 miles……exactly……. knowing that I could call or message her was a huge relief to my heart. And I was thankful for the glory of cellular telephones, & for text messaging.

Tonight I had a skype date with my Daddy. While sitting in my office I could look into his face & grieve with him. He unpluggled the computer, walked across the room & there in the bed was my sweet Grandpa. I was able to talk to him & tell him I loved him & look into his gentle face. The constant pain medicine is keeping him almost completely unresponsive, but I broke through.

It was unbelievable. I can charm my way through almost any situation but tonight was the first time I’ve charmed my way through medicated stupor. He lay still, breathing heavily. The family said he could hear but for all I could see I was pouring my heart out to a sleeping old man, until the ‘conversation’ ended,

‘Grandpa you have the most beautiful smile in the whole world’

& everyone in the room began to laugh as a gentle smile spread across his face. What a miracle, that I could share that moment with them from so far away.  And I’m really thankful for laptop computers & for skype. And really thankful for the faithfulness of the Lord & His constant kindness to us.


Dear Friends,

Tomorrow is my Daddy’s 56th birthday. It is also the day that his father, Carroll Styles, the man I am named after will begin to receive Hospice care. My parents were surprised by a phone call today informing them that my grandfather’s health has been declining rapidly, forcing him into immediate Hospice.

He has been on oxygen for as long as I can remember, chained to a tank, struggling to speak & has lived years longer than doctors predicted due to severe Emphysema & continuous virus’s & infections.

My grandfather is dearly loved by all; the most gentle man I have ever known & at this time *I am certain to not have the finances for a trip home if he were to pass suddenly, a fact that is difficult for me but would be more difficult for my father. Please pray for my father, my grandmother & my family during this time. I thank God that my grandfather loves Jesus & wait with anticipation for the day when I will see him strong and whole for the first time. Pray that his passing from death into life will be swift & painless. Thank you.

He will shepherd me.

The last week…. scratch that, the last few months ….. scratch that. The last few years have been a whirlwind 🙂

Today I hosted a yard/bake sale to raise funds for ATC scholarships. We’ve received so many emails from so many teens across the world in serious situations who are desperate for a touch from God and wanting to come to camp this summer. Our pain is that we can not afford to just “let” them all come, but we want to do whatever we can – thus the fundraiser.

It was thrown together last-minute, but MANY people brought items over in the last 24 hours, enough that my living room was PACKED! I was blessed and excited and ready to go for this morning…. until no one came to help.

There are broken places of my heart that I forget about until moments like that. Suddenly the old wound begins to ache with deep, consuming pain and it seems like nothing that I do will make it stop.

By the grace of the Lord I was able to get everything set up, and one of the new teenagers came for awhile, allowing me to leave and put up signs in the neighborhood. A few people came and some money was raised and I was exceedingly thankful. 5 hours later, hot and emotionally spent I began to pack up and an hour later looked at my yard and realized it was all done. But I did have 5 breakdowns today, complete with sobbing and phone calls to both of my parents.

Tonight I felt the real pain of living 3 hours away from my daddy, and having a car that has been broken for months, leaving me no way to get to him. And I felt the pain of living in a community where I don’t have a direct “pastor” over my life to turn to in season like the one I am currently fighting through.

Our A/C has been off for the last 2 weeks for one silly reason: the filter was filthy and we couldn’t find one that fit. The internet finally helped us to locate a store in the area that carried the right brand, but not having a car that works ….. well let’s just say that not having a car at your disposal makes the simplest of things very, very hard. This evening we bought the correct filters but had the same problem trying to get them in. The old furnace was put together in an odd way leaving a strange space that causes the filter to buckle and keeps it from sliding all the way in. After fighting to the point of tears I began to pray over the furnace. Yup, I’m one of those.

After 5 minutes of tearfully committing our house and the furnace to the Lord I saw a picture in my mind of an ‘L’ shaped ruler, long and skinny & made of metal and instantly knew where it was in the garage. That is nearly impossible because we can’t see where anything is in the garage. But I went upstairs and sure enough it was exactly where I’d seen it. Taking a deep breath I slid the tool inside the furnace, using it as a guide to keep the filter straight and you know what? It worked.

Circling the house to close all of the windows my heart began to sing Grace Kim’s song, “He will lead me to springs of living water, He will shepherd me.”

And it’s true. The spirit of the Living God literally dwells inside of me, and He wants to help me. He is a good counselor, a good friend, and a good Shepherd. He cares about me getting a filter into my furnace so that we can finally have a relief from the heat, and He cares about my daily life.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Help wake each morning believing that Psalm 23 is true Papa.