October 17, 2013

Jesus is more than enough.

I have been waiting for words to come that need to be written down; written down so I can think through what God is doing in my heart and others. Phrases have been swirling in my head since last night.

God's word and love and truth is breath to me. I know what it means in my heart to believe. In the words of Peter to Jesus in the Gospel of John when Jesus asks Peter if he and the other disciples are going to leave along with the others because his teaching is hard, Peter responds to Jesus...we have no where else to go. That is how I feel about Christ and the Father. I know what I believe, I know what I feel, I know what it is to be lost and then to be found. I know how dark darkness is, to be separated from God. There is no where else for me now than to be with God.

But sometimes when I am using inadequate words to share Jesus and His immeasurable love and gifts to those who believe I feel like I don't know if I am even worthy to share the weight of His message. I know that God just calls me to show up and be willing, "be it to me as You will," "your servant is listening," and He does the rest. But, this inadequate vessel has been shocked into tears a couple of times lately by God's power and I just want to fall on the floor with my face to the ground, really it is all I can do, that can be my only response.

Recently, I was in a class where the peace of Christ was discussed. In this class their was someone, who in the world's eyes might have no peace due to her situation, but with Christ, she has peace. As I was posing the question, "do you think you can find peace through Jesus?" The weight of those words fell on me like bricks. The questions railed over me as I was waiting for her to think through her answer,..."is Jesus enough? are these words I am saying real? This road is so difficult for her, do I really believe that Jesus can bring peace?" The answers are yes, but sometimes I feel like I can just be non-challant when sharing Jesus, but when speaking to someone who so desperately needs Him and knows it, it seemed as though we were transported to holy ground. Will this young woman and so many like her, including myself, be changed and have hope and peace that passes all understanding? Her answer was yes, she did believe that Jesus was enough.

Jesus is more than enough. {face down on the ground}.

June 06, 2013

The Summer of Preparations

Last summer was the summer of love at our house http://tammymarcelain.blogspot.com/2012/05/2012-summer-of-love.html. Loving God, others and ourselves through purposefully spending time with God and serving through volunteer work. When my kids were little it was easier to have a routine. Now that they are all teenagers with different schedules, flexibility is the key to a happy routine and mama.

Here we are at the beginning of summer and I am thinking about balancing television, reading, video games, and how to bring some productivity and intentional quiet time with God into my teenagers days.

This summer is the "summer of preparation to be an adult." My "plan" is to teach my teenagers how to take care of a home from top to bottom. I have printed out some housekeeping lists and plan to work with them on taking care of a home in a more full way than just vacuuming or emptying the dishwasher. Then a fun addition is how to make some staple meals. I am going to let each of them pick two meals that are budget friendly and have them make them for us a couple of times through the summer so they will have 2 meals they can make easily.

Some of my resources on cleaning come from a site that uses flylady. I love flylady cleaning methods so am excited to integrate her into our routine.

And not only learning to take care of their home and meals, but their hearts through quiet time, study and prayer with God.

Preparations for when they spread their wings and fly the nest...in just a couple of years.

May 27, 2013

Robert Alton Gililland, Sr. Love, Love and Love.

Those beautiful poetic words that my Grandfather would speak, his beautiful thoughts, his gratefulness, his love are no longer in living and breathing form, but in their place stand memories; memories that do not do my Gran's presence justice, however, they simply must do.

My Gran passed on at 12:45am on Tuesday, May 21st. Our last memory of him communicating to us would be Sunday morning when my sister, Becky and I had gone over to see him. My sister and her family had arrived in Abilene at about 4am that Sunday. We headed over at around 8:30am to check on him. He was SO glad to see her, and was so glad that they had made it in safely. Becky and I each took one of his hands and he would kiss our hands repeatedly and then ask Becky questions about her and her family.

We left briefly to go home and gather our families and then we headed back to have worship with Gran at about 1pm. He wasn't interacting much, but his breathing still seemed normal at that time. My cousin's family, aunt and uncle, my family and Becky's family stood and sat around my Grandfather's bed and worshiped with him. Several of the great-grandchildren stood by his bedside reading scriptures they chose, speaking loudly so he could hear. We sang his favorite song twice, "How Great Thou Art." It was just this last Christmas when our large family group was together that my grandfather requested that we all sing this song. This Sunday during the song he lifted his arms and moved them as though he was directing us. Then came time to take communion and I asked him if he would like to take the bread and he nodded, I put a piece of cracker in his mouth and he chewed it up. Then I asked him if he wanted the grape juice and he nodded so I put a straw into the grape juice for him to drink, it took him about 5 tries but he was able to get a good sip. Shortly after that we gathered around his bed and laid our hands on him and prayed over him. When we left late that afternoon he was sleeping and we assumed that when we came back in the morning he would be ready for conversation again.

I got an anxious feeling Monday morning when I woke up. I headed right over there and he was unresponsive (or sleeping) as the late afternoon before, but he hadn't been dosed any pain medication in over 12 hours. His breathing was more labored. My sister, aunt, uncle and I got busy texting and calling family to let them know what was happening. His Hospice aide was there when I arrived and she had given Gran a good bath. She told us to be sure to dose Gran his pain meds on a regular basis as he would not be able to tell us he was in pain. I knew when I saw Gran that morning that I wouldn't leave his side again. We all just camped out there with him holding his hands, kissing his hands, singing, playing his hymn cd's. My brother Rob caught a flight out of Phoenix and made it in at about 11pm. My sister, Tiffany, hopped in her car to make the 12 hour drive.

All that were there took turns sitting by his side and holding his hand. We would wet his lips and mouth with the mouth sponges that Hospice brought. We kept his hair combed and looking his dapper self. My brother, Rob, made it in to see my Grandfather. My husband, Rob, had picked him up at the airport. Before hubby Rob went on back home my cousin's David and Michael and my siblings, Rob, Becky and I gathered around his bed and prayed over my Gran again. Within about a half an hour of that prayer my Gran's breathing was beginning to slow down and before we knew it there were no more breaths. My cousins went to the other side of the house to get their mom and dad who had retired a couple of hours before to get some rest before my uncle's 7am dialysis appointment. Phil and Sue said their goodbyes and my Gran went on to Glory.

It was quite surreal.

The man who to all of us was larger than life, he really was our true north on earth, our earthly guiding presence was gone. He shone Jesus so bright in his life, it will be difficult to go on without him here with us. The grand patriarch has met up with our grand matriarch in heaven.

My Gran was a wonderful example of love to us. He loved fully. In my cousin, David's words at the memorial service, my Gran's love was "Fun, Pure and Holy."

I am remembering the mornings I would go over and give him his morning medicine and I would have his pills in my hand and he would take my hand and hold it. He would tell me that my hands were beautiful, soft and gentle, and how much he loved my hands that helped him. The last two months were a sacred gift to me. I think I saw my Gran every day but one in the last two months of his life. Most days I saw him more than once. I knew that his time was coming to an end, but had hoped selfishly that I had lots more mornings of his smile as I walked in the door. I wish I would have taken a picture of that first morning smile. Although selflessly I am so glad that He saw Jesus face to face, he is in no more pain, and is with my Nana again. He sought the Lord every day on this earth, now there is no more seeking, his journey is complete.

Thanks be to God.

May 09, 2013

Poetry of Life. My Grandfather.

In about 3 hours I will have finished my last final for the semester. Glad to have summer ahead. Lots has been poured into our family's life over the last 6 weeks or so. Each day is a reminder that all is gift. I have found myself in a place of using the margins of my life, and thanks to the flexibility of my family, lots of the daily space to tend to my Grandfather who was released on Hospice after being in the hospital for a couple of weeks.

Each day God reminds me that life is sacred and that no second to be taken for granted. My Gran has lived a lovely life of almost 93 years, and lots of his body is still strong, so he is by no means about to die today or tomorrow, but his journey has become one of needing other's help to make it through the day.

My days have as of late been spent either up in the hospital with him, and in the last couple of weeks learning what his needs are through the day now that he is at home. I would say that it is in these moments of grace that I feel like God is so very present. He is in the struggles of figuring out how all of my Gran's needs will be met, He is in the bright morning sunlight when I say my first good morning to my sweet Grandfather. He is in the voice of my Grandfather who is so grateful and thankful for his life that he has no cross word or complaint to utter even in this time of transition and sometimes confusion. His countenance reminds me of the saying, "It is not until the sponge is squeezed that one see's what is really on the inside." Watching my Gran's generosity and thankfulness during this time has been humbling. He misses that strong body of his, but he is thankful that he has been blessed with what he has at this moment.

He uses such words that we don't hear much any more, many that sound like they are from days long ago. His words and adjectives are lovely, it is as though poetry has taken root in him.

His words will sign off this post today,
"I have no words to explain the amount of love that I have inside of me. It is though I am so full of love there are no words great enough to express how I feel."  my Gran (Bob G.)

For his words and love I am ever so grateful. May not one moment be overlooked.
Here is an old pic of my Gran in the center. 

February 09, 2013

The Nuts and Bolts - JOIN US for Marriage on Lent

The Nuts and Bolts -

I will fight for your marriage in prayer.

Longer rant of the statement above can be found...here.

I would love for you to join me in praying for the marriages of our friends, family, church family and others you might run into (and our own marriages). You could do this in your own manner, however, I will list here some things that might be helpful.

1. Make a list of who you know would be blessed by prayers for their marriage. Pray to God and ask Him to reveal others you might pray for. Put your list somewhere that you will see it every day. Add new names to your list as they come up.

2. Start praying. Lent begins on Wednesday, February 13th. Let's pray for 40 days. On Resurrection Sunday not only will we rejoice that we follow a Living God, we can rejoice that He has heard our prayers and through faith trust that some miracles either seen or unseen have been done in hearts. Prayers of God's people never fall on deaf ears. God is often times just waiting for us to ask, He never pushes His way in.

That's it!!

Some ideas of what to pray for:

Pray for the couples to be aware of Ephesians 6:10-20. Pray for humble hearts willing to kick pride to the curb. Pray for forgiving hearts. Pray for the Fruit of the Spirit to infiltrate their hearts. Pray for them to turn to God in prayer. Pray for them to desire to know God's word and to act on it in faith. Pray for unbelief to be gone. Pray for the children involved. Pray for hope. Pray for hard hearts to be softened. Pray for repentant hearts. Pray for love to be felt, seen and spoken. Pray for a mighty work of the Holy Spirit....please add to this list in the comments below.

I typed out a list of scriptures today and I just deleted them ; ) Ha! I will not be deterred. I will type them out again...but maybe you might help all of us by giving us a scripture or two that you think would be a blessing to pray over couples. Please add your scriptures in the comments....*Update to this comment, I am excited that there will be numerous guest posts through Lent that will bless us with scriptures, prayers and thoughts. Thank you, God for your provision in this area!

Marriage on Lent

Will you join me for praying for marriages during our 40 days of Lent.  It doesn't matter if you haven't participated in Lent before or if you are a seasoned veteran. Let's use this common time to bless God's people by calling out to God on their behalf.

Do you hear the people sing? 
Singing a song of angry men?
It is the music of a people
Who will not be slaves again!
When the beating of your heart
Echoes the beating of the drums
There is a life about to start
When tomorrow comes!
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Then join in the fight.
(Les Mis)

Who of us has recently seen Les Mis at the theaters and were ready to wave a flag and join the fight of the oppressed? They had been overlooked long enough. They were ready to fight for their freedom from oppression no matter what the cost. As I am pursuing my education and planning to apply for the MFT Program at ACU in the Fall of 2014, I have been asked for a while what I would like to do with my degree? Would my primary practice be in marriage therapy? For the first several years I had said, "No, unless God has a different plan for me." I have learned to never say no and leave it at that. I always want to be joined with God and what He is doing. Well it seems as though God's plan for me involves fighting for marriages, but not waiting for my Masters to do it. And I am wanting to join HIS crusade to fight for His people's hearts. I bet some of you out there are too. 

I go to a church of hundreds of people, and every week I learn of another couple or more whose marriages have hit a wall. I think that most marriages hit a wall. The decision is whether that wall will destroy the marriage or if the couple will fight to keep their marriage whole, or in many cases bring wholeness for the first time. Some have plenty of fight left in them, some are worn out and even to get out of bed and take care of their kids is difficult. How can we help them? How can we help ourselves? We can be people of prayer for them. We can pray bold prayers over them. We can fight for them when they can't fight for themselves. A dear friend of mine once said to a common friend, "I will fight for your marriage," and she did. Through prayer and unwavering support to both the husband and wife.

Lots of echo's have led me to this place where I am ready to start beating the drums. 
1. Being a child of divorce that knocked my feet out from under me and eventually played into to my own demons of addiction during my late teens and early adulthood.
2. Not wanting to settle for less than what God had in store for my own marriage.
3. The knowledge of my Family Studies classes that have made it very plain that children of divorce are more likely to flounder, maybe not all right away, but with a term called the "sleeper effect" statistics show that a huge percentage of children of divorce will have issues once they hit the age where they start developing intimate (not necessarily sexual, but often times children of divorce are sexually active earlier).
Here are some basic facts -
Children from fatherless homes are:
15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
4.6 times more likely to commit suicide
• 6.6 times more likely to become teenaged mothers
• 24.3 times more likely to run away
• 15.3 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
• 6.3 times more likely to be in a state-operated institutions
• 10.8 times more likely to commit rape
• 6.6 times more likely to drop out of school
• 15.3 times more likely to end up in prison while a teenager
• 73% of adolescent murderers come from mother only homes

stats from: http://fathersunite.org/statistics_on_fatherlessnes.html

It is important to not allow the false pictures that media creates lessen our understanding of the destructive repercussions of divorce.

Do we fight for marriages just for the kids? Wow! To give our children a legacy of a stable 2 parent home is worth fighting for. However, NO, that is not the only reason. The rate of divorce stats vary but basically about 35-40% of first marriages end up in divorce, that jumps to 50% on second marriage and 74% on third marriages. If we don't do the hard work in the marriage we are in, the problems we have will most likely show up again in later marriages. The biggest reason for me to continually work to have a marriage that blesses is that I will not let the devil's schemes decide my life for me when I have a God who is greater and more powerful, who speaks of love and forgiveness, who gave me His Holy Spirit that indwells in me to guide me in good and bad times.

SO why are divorce rates out of control? It's a Spiritual Battle. Ephesians 6:10-18 lays it out VERY plainly.

The Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

When one spouse looks at another and doesn't want to be married anymore is that a natural growing apart? Or is it a culmination of devil's schemes that we have allowed to become places of sin or strongholds? I would say it is a scheme. When a husband or wife falls in love with a coworker is it something that just happened, or have they lined up with the devil's scheme? I would say it's a scheme. When p*rn*gr*phy on the computer or wherever it comes from takes it's hold on a man or woman's heart and becomes an addiction is it just something that popped up on the screen and they had no choice to look? Or did they choose the scheme? I think they chose the scheme.

All of these places of sin are CHOICES that married people are faced with most days if they wake up. There are always ways for us to give into our own selfishness, to look too long at another person who is not our spouse, to just click to a site that seems to give relief but is a road paved to brokenness. We can not blame the devil for making us do anything, but we can credit him for having a part in trying to lure us- and he knows our weakness better than we do, but the choice to pounce is ours. Our God is greater than the devil's schemes. We can pursue HIM and transformation takes place in our desires. What we desire eventually will line up with what God desires for us.

God tells us clearly in scripture that he will ALWAYS give us a place to escape temptation so as not to sin.  

To me the key to not being duped into the devil's schemes is to be AWARE that it is a scheme. Years ago I participated in a Bible Study by Beth Moore, called, When Godly People do Ungodly Things. I can't recommend that study enough for men and women, even if you don't do the whole study and just get the cd's to play in your car to hear her lessons (at Lifeway) on this it would bless your life. But there is a visual I took away from that study that changed the way I looked at temptation and sin. She gave an example of a football field and each time someone sins the devil does a happy dance in the end zone. You have played into his hands and you have been tricked by the father of lies and he laughs at you and celebrates your weakness. The game is not over, but, just the vision of my sin allowing the devil to gloat and celebrate my weakness was enough for me to dig my heels in deep and take a stand against sin in my life. 

The last words in the study are from Micah 7:8 - 
 "Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise, though I sit in darkness the Lord will be my light."

So what can we do? Our weapons are not hate, nor ugly words, nor condemnation. Our weapons are AWARENESS, PRAYER, AND SCRIPTURE. Our words and hearts will call out to God to save His people, make them aware of the devil's schemes, bring about repentant hearts, transform marriages to places of grace where healing and forgiveness are welcomed. 

Is there a world you long to see? Will you join the crusade? We have 40 days of Lent that will begin on Wednesday, February 13th. On the day before Valentine's Day will you join me in 40 days of prayer for our brothers and sisters, for our family members and neighbors, for those that sit next to us at church, or maybe they serve us our coffee at Starbucks? Can we get angry because we along with our friends are being duped by our selfish desires and the father of lies? Will you fight the fight for the oppressed? I am ready to fight with praying words, with scriptures prayed, with groups or alone, I will pray for 40 days.

Is there a world you long to see? Let's change it a precious gift from God....PRAYER.

I will be posting some specific scriptures if you think that would be helpful. I would also love to get a group of people together to pray, or be prayed for during this process. I would encourage you to do the same.

The disclaimer - one reason I think that people (including myself) are hesitant to talk about divorce is that it is SO prevalent. The last thing we want to do is hurt our loved ones by speaking to this subject when they have been divorced. God is a God of redemption, and thankfully we live by grace if we are walking in Him. However, we can't be silent to fight the fight for those who need us because we are afraid to hurt someone's feelings. I pray that God will work in those broken places and that those who have been hurt by divorce will not take a post like this as a place of condemnation for themselves, but that they come from a place of knowing how much it hurts and would join in the fight so that others might be spared from the pain of broken covenants. We are all in this together.

January 14, 2013

God heals the broken bird.

Lots of emotions stirring in my heart this week and last. I took a short course last week before the official semester began. The class was called Parenting and Family Skills. The class was excellent, I learned a lot. The Family Studies classes I have taken have all been exceptional, however, I have sometimes seen myself on the pages of what I am studying.

Last week one of the topics of study was parenting styles. Each person in the class was asked to choose the type of parenting style they were reared under and then get with the group of others in the same parenting style, discuss quickly what this parenting style looked like in real life, from the perspective of actions and words of the parents and then how that affected us as children. Then make a presentation to the class as to what these looked like in their home. There were 6 choices. I must have looked over the descriptions of the parents 5 or 6 times and not found what I would have chosen as their parenting style, so then I looked at the descriptions of the child reared under that style and with tears in my eyes as I read through the list found myself immediately.

1. Prolonged separation/distance from parent.
2. Absense of something.
3. Does not feel important.
4. May not recognize the nature of difficulties.
5. Suffer from loneliness yet keep people at a distance.
6. Lacks feeling of identity, "Who am I."
7. May become performance oriented; doing.
8. Unable to attach; comes to exploit others.
9. Demonstrates lack of conscience/guilt.
10. Drift in and out of relationships.
11. Unrealistic standard for parent.
12. Wants to be "mothered."
13. Overvalues sex.

Not all of the above described me, however, enough that I knew that was the group that I belonged to. As I looked at that list over and over, I remembered that teenager and young adult. I remembered the way her mind worked. I remembered that she felt alone. I remembered that she thought if she accomplished enough or worked hard enough that she would realize a sense of self. I remembered how she could move for the umpteenth time with her family and how she wouldn't let herself miss her old friends. I remembered her using people for what they brought to her life. I remember her making choices that were wrong and not feeling any guilt over them. If she didn't look out for herself, no one else would.

I sat in class and thought to myself, I look back at that girl as though I know her,  I can see her face, I can feel her desperation and darkness, I can feel her fear of quiet, I can feel her pain but she is a distant memory, the darkness has been filled with the Light.

Where did she go? How does one go from being unable to attach, guiltless and empty person to someone who is full of God's love for herself and others. It is God. How did God create in me a new heart? How did he mend what was broken? How did he instill love and kindness? How did he help me be able to believe in myself and in others?

I would have to say that God has worked in me a miracle. It was His word that transformed me. I did not know 12 years ago when I took my first Beth Moore Bible study that not only would I developed a feverish love for God's word, nor did I know that I would find myself healed through hours of Bible study, the homework for the studies, prayer and listening to Beth among others share how God had worked in their lives.

I have prayed for God to help me love. I have prayed for God to help me be merciful. I have prayed for God to fill me with His strength. I have prayed for God to be where I get my identity from. He has been gracious to me. 20 years have gone by since that broken little bird, who had no where to go, was lifted by God to a new place and a new home. 20 years of taking one crevice in her heart at a time and gently filling it with His truth to not only mend, but to recreate. The fingertip of God through His spirit has held my heart in his warm embrace to grow me into someone who still has much growing to do, but I can now love, I can now have faith, I can now have hope. It has been an amazing 20 years. To God be the glory.

I often times wish that I didn't feel so deeply when the past is scratched. However, if I did not feel the painful twinges, my immense gratitude to God for His mercy and for the lessons I have learned along the way might not be so full. The dance that God and I have experienced together is worth all I have experienced, may one step never go to waste.

He is my beloved, and in Him I am a new creation. God keep me close. In the old hymn...May I never outlive my love for Thee.