February 18, 2015

What the Orange Jumpsuits Reminded Me Of.

Am I ready?

     I am not much of a news watcher. But I definitely watch enough to have seen the pictures of the 21 Christians who were slain on the Libyan beach by ISIS. The image of the men in orange jumpsuits lined up on their knees will always stay with me. Each day I have been leaning into God with that image close to mind. We are a nation of fixers...so in my mind I would wonder what "we" as a nation could have done to prevent this, or what "we" should do to make sure it never happens again, that is what the news is asking for sure. Putting blame. Media helps with this doesn't it? I am not going to list here but you can probably think of all sorts of blame being tossed around right now.

     I had felt a stirring in my spirit for several days. Was I going to hate the men who beheaded the Christians. I wondered to myself...what would Jesus do? I want to do what Jesus would do...and then I realized we know exactly what Jesus would have done. He would have asked forgiveness for those that persecute, Jesus words from the dangerous cross that the evil men hate..."Father, forgive them they know not what they do." He would have loved.

     The government has a job to do to protect it's citizens in the USA. So I am not talking about government stance or action here. I am talking about me. My heart. In difficult times Satan loves nothing more than to turn people of peace into people of hate. We might not have been on that beach that day, but Satan is sure going to take every advantage..travel to and fro across the earth to try to infect us with fear, hatred and bitterness because of that beach. It would be a righteous hate, right? We have every right to hate them because of what they did? No. As easy as it is to be pulled into this way of thinking there is a more difficult road of love that Christians are called to. It is NOT for the faint of heart.

     So I felt like God said to my heart, it is time to gird your loins, get ready, dive deeper into me because you do not possess the supernatural love that it will take to fight the infestation of hate that can come of this. I can not control any government, I can not control ISIS but I can submit my heart to The Way of the Cross. The men that died last weekend and the many men, women and children that have died for their faith through the centuries chose Jesus. They chose His way.
     I don't think I am expected to like the persecutors, but I am expected to not give my heart to bitterness or hate. I am called to revisit Ephesians 10 and prepare for my own personal battle to keep my heart right before God. I must stand and be aware that fear can seep in almost unseen, but the feelings it brings are not.

     I know I can't do this on most any subject without God: What fruits of the Spirit have I mastered that I can do on my own without God's supernatural power flowing through the Spirit to me?

None. If I am seeking God with all my heart these do flow naturally out of me. Some more readily than others. If I am not seeking God and thinking that I can be kind or full of God's peace without fully relying on Him for these things...I am desperately and wholeheartedly wrong.

Am I ready? 

I am ready only if I am fully relied upon God. That picture of those 21 Christians, 21 souls that were murdered will remind me what it costs to be a servant of Jesus. If it is not costing me anything then I need to give that some thought and prayer and start asking some pretty tough questions.

Questions I ask myself:
Do I really trust God? The answer to this for me is...never enough. So I pray each day..."Father, I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief."

Have I given into fear, hate or bitterness....if so, ask God for forgiveness and send those evil spirits away. I would say this: "In the name of Jesus, the spirit of hate, must leave and go where Jesus sends it, Father fill me with fruit of your Spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and self-control." See Paul in scripture for his example in casting out spirits. One does not need to be possessed by evil to be oppressed by evil.

Am I actively pursuing a relationship with God? Going to church on Sundays doesn't really count in this question. Yes, it is a good thing. But you would not develop a deep relationship with a friend or spouse in the middle of a church building with lots of people around. This is one on one time. Me and God.

Am I being silent before God?
Am I so scattered with busyness or thoughts that I can not even focus on God? Does it seem like God is distant? I can keep God at arms length by never stopping to be silent before Him. This is where the transformation of my heart is at it's greatest with God.

Prayer is such a gift. Praying for our enemies, praying to love those that hurt us or our family or friends, praying for the strength to make it through a storm of difficulties, praying for the light of Jesus to shine through you. Praying for the increase of the fruit of the Spirit. Praying to be released from _______.

Choose Love.


November 15, 2014

Staying in the Room with Difference

Thanks to a friend, Amy, my friend Denise and I found out about a presentation called the Jim and Casper show that was brought to Abilene by Hardin Simmons University.

I had never heard of Jim and Casper before.
So who is Jim? He is a Seattle pastor that isn't fond of "religion". He is about practicing faith and love through Christ.

Who is Casper? He is an atheist who was sought after by Jim to travel to different congregations through out the States with Jim. With Casper's perceptions and thoughts as an atheist Jim was able to see church through the eyes of the "other." Other not being a bad connotation, but just someone other than a Christian who doesn't know the church speak, theological references,...

Their talk wasn't long. Maybe 30 minutes.

The main point of Jim's presentation, which was basically an informal conversation with Casper and the audience, was how valuable it is for everyone, but especially for Christians to learn to stay in the room with difference. Not that we need to agree with difference, but that there is value in just listening, conversation, finding commonness with another.

This staying in the room with difference could even be practiced in two short weeks when families from far and wide come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Here are some points I wrote down:

"We don't need the 'other' to be the enemy."

How to learn to stay in the room with difference- 
Practicing Otherliness: -Being unusually interested in others. (Out-listen people) 
Practice staying in the room with difference. (Don't break up with people) 
Stop comparing my best with another's worst. 

Some basics for us Christians to be aware of that could be a problem:
Certainty has replaced faith. To me this means that our firmness of belief can be used as something that can wound people. Jim spoke of being humane with other humans. 

Fixed ideology can be destructive.
A fundamentalist is someone who is mad and mean, not helpful. (side note: a fundamentalist does not necessarily limit itself to Christianity, it could be an atheist or politician...who is mad, mean and not helpful. However, as Jesus followers we are called to not be mean, mad and we are commanded to be helpful)
A test for yourself in this is are you building people up or tearing them down while living out your faith.

I was blessed through this conversation.

The other for me is generally not the sinner (as I am one, like Paul I am one of the worst), the homosexual, the poor, the homeless. Maybe there was a time that the fear of the unknown brought fear into the equation, and in those times I saw that fear was my driving force so I would serve the population that seemed unknown to me. I knew that I needed to look into the eyes, hold hands, give hugs, speak words of kindness and life to those that I did not know. God did not change them, but me. The one that needed the change.
Satan uses our fear against us and against our witness for Christ.
For me the other is the fundamentalist, the proof texters, the one's who looks are filled with arrows if you don't believe the way they do. So my challenge is to stay in the room with the differences and find commonness in life with those that make me uncomfortable.
Jim asked Casper to share with us how we should go about trying to "save" the lost. Casper shared that it is much easier to believe in God than to believe in the Bible when you don't believe in either. So it is not helpful to throw verses at people. It is helpful to live life alongside others so through our love and kindness we could be a witness to what a life looks life when following Christ.

It is love that saves.

I know many years ago before I came to know Christ that scripture pelted at me had no effect. But I can surely tell you the names and still see the faces of those who loved me in my mess. Just loved me, mess and all. It was the love of Christ that drew me in, and He used the kindness of His followers to melt my frozen heart.

Here is a link to Jim and Casper's first book: http://www.amazon.com/Jim-Casper-Church-Conversation-Well-Meaning/dp/141435858X
Their second book is called "Saving Casper." I haven't read either but have ordered used copies from Amazon and I anticipate reading them both.

I pray that we can practice staying in the room with difference and that when others see us they see kindness, love and interest in their lives. They are the children of God as we are.

January 23, 2014

No Master's...How about a Butter Braid Pastry instead?

What's with all the frozen storage inquiry? Why did I go to Iowa in the middle of winter?

The last four months have been somewhat cryptic if you are a friend of mine on Facebook. But, as of today I am the proud mama to a new company called RED BIRD FUNDRAISING.

I am an exclusive dealer for this part of Texas for Butter Braid Pastry. My territory has just over 500,000 people in it. So Abilene is my hub but I will travel a couple of hours in each direction to reach it's borders. What is a Butter Braid Pastry? You can click over here to see some up close and personal pictures...www.butterbraid.com

And can I say I am excited? Because I am,...really excited.

My weeks will be filled with baking Butter Braid Pastries and delivering these yummy braided and filled loaves to schools, non-profits, day cares,...you name it, if they do fundraisers they are going to get a free Butter Braid Pastry from me, and then helping the organization with their fundraisers. This is a full-time business that is perfect for me. I will be my own boss with lots of oversight from the makers of Butter Braid Pastry. I will have a job that will help people, help themselves. I get to visit with new people every day. It really is a dream come true for me. I have for years been keeping my open for a niche market that was needed in Abilene and thanks be to God I have found it.

How did I find this company? Out of desperation. Our fundraising options in Abilene are somewhat limited. I am not going to belittle the options at all, there is a place for all types. However, as a parent I was frustrated that my boys were unable to sell 1 item this year and it was not for lack of trying. It had to do with timing, and an item that once you have 1 you don't need any more. If you aren't the first school to get this item then your quite out of luck. I was feeling frustrated because I had two chorus trips to pay for fully. We had all tried our best with the fundraiser because it was going to make a difference of how much cold hard cash I had to cough up 2 weeks before Christmas time. No deal.

That same day my sister-in-law who lives in Arizona posted that my niece's dance company was doing a fundraiser and the amazing Butter Braid Pastries were back. Within a half an hour her feed blew up with all sorts of orders, and raves. "We have been waiting for this." Well I don't know about you but there are a couple of fundraisers that go on that I anticipate, but generally they have the words, "thin mint" in them. I was intrigued. I kept on checking back and the orders grew, and the excitement over the Butter Braid Pastry grew. So I decided then and there...I am getting this information and passing it on to my kids school.

 But, there wasn't a dealer for this area.


I couldn't get the whole Butter Braid Dealer thing out of my head. It was with me when I went to sleep at night, and with me in the morning when I woke up.
I sent an inquiry about the dealership. They emailed me back. I sent another email. They emailed me back.

About 3 weeks into this 4 month process of acquiring a dealership I had some serious decisions to make. I had already applied for my Master's program at ACU in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program. I had been envisioning myself a therapist for 3 straight years. However, along with those thoughts there was always a back door. I always knew I was committed to get a Masters if it would be the right thing for not only myself but my family. I would take a fresh look at everyone's schedules and what their needs were this year and then pray A LOT and seek God's guidance on it. There was never peace. This program is particularly time consuming. No peace. To top that all off in our Bible Class at church two men were facilitating an Andy Stanley 6 week series on margins - margins in time, margins in money, margins in emotional life, margins in work, margins in relationships. One of the facilitators was a therapist and he spoke openly about how difficult it was for him to have margins in his life as far as time and work. When you are a therapist - people need you. Rob and I were in marriage therapy a couple of years ago and our therapist needed to skip a week because of a court case he was testifying in and I was panicked. How could he take a week off? I quickly envisioned me wanting to take a 2 week vacation with my husband and thought about all the people who would be let down because of it. Then I thought about my friend who recently became a grandma and was spending two weeks with her daughter and son in law to help as they were adjusting to new sleep schedules. I will be the first to tell you that God has got it all figured out and He does not need me to think the world weighs on my shoulders, but I also know myself well enough that it would be difficult for me to not be at my clients beck and call. Being a therapist all of a sudden began to feel very heavy. I do love to encourage people, I love to help people see and seek God in their walk, I love to see people with expectation, knowing that they are valued and loved. I wanted joy and I didn't want to have to climb out from a day of really difficult listening to find that each night. I wanted to come home and tell my husband about my day and all that happened, I couldn't do that.

I wanted something different. So God gave my lots of clarity. He has opened every door with this business. He has made it clear in every way that this has His blessing. I flew to Iowa last week for my final interview to be a Butter Braid Pastry dealer. In May I will finish school for good and walk across that stage as one happy camper. I will have accomplished just what I set out to. I learned more about myself and determination and worthiness than I ever dreamed I would. School was a true gift to me, not a minute wasted. And as of the end of February, Lord willing and if all goes as expected my pallet of Butter Braid Pastries will be in 5 chest freezers and I will be working full-time as a dealer for Butter Braid Pastry and be my boss in my Red Bird Fundraising company. I had worked out my schedule for school to be doable to also work full time.

So...that's my story and I am sticking with it. If you are someone who runs a fundraiser, has a kid who is going on a mission trip and needs to raise funds, knows of someone who might need a fundraiser. I am your gal!! Thanks to you all for your amazing support!

Did I mention they serve 11, (For my family about 6 or 7, we always have some left over), they come frozen, when you are ready to make one you set them out to rise at night and in the morning you put a sweet yeast pastry in your oven that makes your whole house smell divine, you frost it with the frosting that comes with...and serve. I will have 5 flavors. The price point is $14 each and if you are doing the fundraising you earn $6 per pastry...that's amazing!!

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.