Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The God of second chances

(This is my last post on this blog.  Go to our new family blog for future posts or read about our love story that Loree's been writing at www.brianandloree.blogspot.com ) 
He is the God of second chances; of redemption.  He is faithful.  “I once was lost but now I’m found and now my lifesong sings.  I once was blind but now I see and now my lifesong sings.  I once was dead but now I live.  Now my life to you I give. Hallelujah!”  Song lyrics by Casting Crowns
We are lost without Him. If we only give God the opportunity, with our lives...everything, He is all that He claims to be.  Loree has made such a wonderful account of our God story.  Even then, we only scratch the surface on just how good God is and all of His mysterious ways.  
Over a year ago a new thought unexpectedly overtook my heart.  A desire growing in me to have two more kids.  I was a single dad with four boys...why on earth would I have such a notion burning in me?  I shared this feeling will many (who thought I had lost my mind!!!) then tucked it away in my heart and thought of it no more.  
A couple months before the wedding the thought resurfaced in my mind as if God wanted to remind me who had been at work in our hearts from the beginning...preparing the way.  I would soon be blessed with two beautiful children to love as my own.  
“A page is turned in this life, He’s making her his wife and there is no secret to the source of this much life.  When the grace that falls like rain is washing them again. Just a chance to somehow rise above this land.
Where the God of second chance will pick them up and he’ll let them dance.  Through a world that is not kind and all this time, they’re sharing with the one that holds them up when they come undone.  Beneath the storm, beneath the sun and once again, here you stand.  Your day has come.” A Page is Turned by Bebo Norman
It's what He does isn't it?  Holds us up when we fall apart.  Picks us up and sets us on our feet.  Then we dance.  Grace, God's grace.

I would not ever be able to fully describe just how miraculously God worked through our lives to bring us to where we are today.  Some things I will just cherish in my heart. His grace...is sooooo good.  I don’t feel like I deserve second chances, but He gives them anyway. 
He was down right showing off by bringing Loree to me.  (He’s God after all and that’s just fine with me!)  She is beyond an exceptional woman.  Her character in Christ makes it easier for me to be the husband and leader God calls me to be.  She has such a fun easygoing heart with the same love of dancing as myself which includes dance movies :)  (Step Up 3 was pretty rockin’ for us!)
I don’t know your story.  I’m sure it has/had its own set of difficulties and heartache, but there is one thing we have in common.  Our God, our Redeemer, our Healer, our Comforter, our God of second chances.  “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7  
Let go and let God.
Jesus is very fond of you and so am I,

Friday, October 1, 2010

One and the Same

Our stories were one and the same. We talked after class each week because our stories were so similar and she would ask me about things like making the transition from private school to public.  Mostly we talked about God, continually it seemed.  His provision, grace, compassion and love for us.  
I gave her a copy of my latest read, “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan knowing where her heart was and how much she would drink in the depth of the book’s message.  She was quickly becoming my best friend, I “agape” (friendship) loved her dearly already. I even wrote her an inscription on the book.  “Loree, My sister in Christ whom I dearly love.  Having grasped the depths of God’s love to be endless and now residing in a place where it permeates the very fabric of life, enjoy the ride!  I hope this book builds in you more than just a love for the written word.  May it give you a thirst to know all His ways revealed through the Spirit and penned on the pages of many books in service to Christ. Love in Him, Brian”  (permission to post inscription from Loree :)
She devoured the book in no time flat, which is amazing in of itself, because she doesn’t claim to be a reader.  I received a phone call from her mid week because we weren’t hanging out yet at this point so all of our long conversations took place after Sunday school and we had only recently swapped numbers and began texting encouraging messages to each other.  This one phone conversation moved her from being a good friend to confidant and comrade in arms for God.  It went something like this, “Brian, I finished the book.  It was great!  I feel like I’ve gone crazy though.  I think people will think I’m crazy.  You know I love people, always have and I care for them deeply.  But now I really LOVE people.  I feel like I want to sell my house and everything and just love God and love people.  Am I crazy?  Do you think I’m crazy?”  Wow! 
I was smiling ear to ear.  Here was a friend who has gone through the fire, just as I have and she understands the full measure of His love.  “Welcome to the party Loree!  I believe this is truly the abundant life God speaks about for us.”  In that moment we knew we shared something very special in spirit.  Somewhere along the way in our friendship she even verbalized this truth.  “I feel like my spirit is drawn toward yours.” I heartily agreed!!!
One of my fondest memories early in our friendship is when I invited her and her kids and another family to join me making pottery with the boys.  We all had such a great time painting then we went to McDonald’s down the road for ice cream.  It was that evening, while watching her gather all the kids around her on the concrete outside of McD’s to play “bear hunt,” that I got a first glimpse of what a wonderful mother she is.  The kids all come alive around her because she has such a joyful and fun filled heart.  I remember thinking to myself even then, “Wow, she’s great...just gets right in there! What a woman!” 

(more to come)

Monday, September 20, 2010

In the Beginning

From my perspective, it’s the love story of a lifetime; unexpected, overwhelming, amazing.  It’s a story about rising from the ashes of brokenness, of surrendering everything to God, then amazing blessings.  It’s hard to put into words a timely and descriptive account that does justice to the Author of it all.  Really, it’s two love stories intertwined.  God’s abundant redemptive love for us.  A love that fills us up and makes us whole.  It’s also a love that overflows from our own lives; spills over and becomes shared with others...and in this story, especially between two people.
It’s in a moment of full surrender and contentment that His best work is done.  “Lord, if it’s just you, me and the kids the rest of my life...it’s blessings all the way!”  Sincere words spoken from my heart that I would soon hear echoed from a new friend.  This is where a new chapter, a new story begins.
God had put on my heart, at that time, to teach a Bible study class on a Beth Moore book of all things.  What guy does that?  More importantly, what person ignores God’s leading...only a fool.  Well, I didn’t want to be a fool, even if I might have looked silly teaching from material that had been branded for a “women’s study,”  but also it’s me...since when did I care?  I think God made me just a little bit quirky and with a touch of rebel.  Thank goodness because it led to a series of events only God could have orchestrated.
I went to talk to the minister in charge of Bible studies about teaching the class.  It had been years since I last taught and I was out of the loop.  As I pulled up to the church I had an overwhelming sensation that, for some reason, I would be discouraged to teach this material in a Sunday school setting....interesting, but silly.  It gets more bizarre though.  The thought that kept coming to mind was, “tell him this is from Me, God, and if you offer the class, the right people will show up.”  Ok, so I’m having some kind of a movie moment here, “if you build it they will come”.  Sounds familiar, but I’m not used to having God drop a message on me in this manner.  Perhaps it’s just my wild imagination!
Once in the his office, I spent a fair amount of time explaining how I came to the place where teaching a Beth Moore study in Sunday School was what I was prepared to do. “I’m not sure this is the right setting for you” I was told. It was said in a helpful sincere tone, but seriously? I really couldn’t believe what I was hearing.  Could this really be playing out?  All I could do was smile and kind of chuckle.  Then I realized that wasn’t the appropriate response for what was being communicated to me, especially with the perplexed look on his face. So I did the only reasonable thing I could think of to do at this point.  I passed along the message from God.  
 “Who am I to mess with the leading of the Holy Spirit” he responds.  Huh, what do you know?!  With that, the class began.
Those who showed up for the study know as well as I do that God literally brought us together.  It was inspiring to see how God was moving through our little class and just down the road from my church was another church where a wonderful lady was looking for a Bible study to attend.  Through the social grapevine she heard about the class, didn’t have a clue who was teaching or what it was about, only that she should give it a try.  She showed up for class one Sunday morning and it was the beginning of what would become a truly amazing friendship.
(Next entry) Our stories were one and the same...