Thursday, July 26, 2012

Joe Knows I Am....

I was eating lunch at Wahoo's on South Congress in Austin 
when I had to step outside so I could hear and take a call from Paige.
I sat down in an Adirondack chair next to a man 
with no shoes, a stack of children's books in his lap
and a small worn photo book.

You know me...
Little Miss Curious...
I had to meet him.

Hi, I am Gina.

I am Joe.

You like children's books?

I sell them.
People on the streets like to buy them from me.
I like this book right here.
You can put your family pictures in it.

Do you have a family?

I did.

Joe, are you homeless?

I am.

I'm sorry.

Don't be.
I live down there with some friends.
It's my home.
I had a nice life.
Life brought me here.

I teach school to some children who live in nice houses.
I have a brother with the most amazing house I've ever seen.
I lived in a really nice house before I divorced.
...You know what Joe?
I've realized that you can have a house and still be homeless.

He agreed.
I asked him if he knew God.
He said yes.
I asked him what he knew about God.
He said,
God is I Am.
That's all I need to know.
He is I Am.

I really wanted to hear more about his story,
his life, his understanding of God.

I had to wonder what events in his life
brought him to describe God as such.
He didn't go into detail.
He didn't give me any theological references.
He didn't supply any anecdotes,
theories or personal experiences...
no religious upbringing to support his claim...
Just a simple,
He is I Am.

What has been his journey?
What path led him to the streets of Austin...
without a job, house or family....?

The idea that I might fail and lose everything
has tried to 
and haunt me.
I fathom the possibility of
and shame....

But my mind goes back to Joe and his words...
He is I Am.
And he spoke it with such certainty.

I never really thought about or
understood exactly the meaning of 
I Am....
Sounded like something was missing...

The only thing missing was my ability
to allow God to be my Everything.

When possessions
and relationships
are lost,
you find peace in
God being enough...
or maybe some of us have to
be left with little or nothing to make room for Him.

I don't know...
but I know Joe Knows I Am...
and I am 100% certain that
I will meet Joe again one day...
and that small photo book will not
be large enough to contain all the
pictures of our new family...

I am...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

oh church...what am I gonna do with you...?

Hebrews 10:25
Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together...
Or as the Message version words it:
Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping TOGETHER, as some do, but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.

Have I become an "As Some Do"?
Am I one of them?

Me & Church...
I was in church at 2 weeks old and rarely missed thereafter.
I once prayed to have a fever so I could stay home and watch
Charlie's Angels like all the cool girls.
They were going to hell but they had so much to talk about the next day at school...
I went to Sunday School, then church, home for the afternoon,
then Bible classes at 5:00, evening worship at 6:00.
Wednesday prayer meetings,
once a month Youth Rallies on Saturdays...
Throw in a couple of week long revivals per year...
I had my church quota met.
This was normal until the age of 18 when I left for college.

Church On My Own...
My first college crush was a godly young man who led Young Life.
He loved Jesus.
He was 20 different kinds of adorable.
He could sing and play the guitar. *swoon.
He heard I was a preacher's daughter and
I'm guessing he thought this meant I was a good girl and a good match for him.
Sorry Bobby.
I visited churches while in college so I could tell my parents I had gone.
But it was still  duty instead of  desire.

Church & Marriage.
All American White Baptist Boy.
We went to baptist churches and lived a baptist life.
1st, 2nd and 4th verse in the hymn books.
around 2001 we incorporated some praise and worship to the angst of the founders.
We called it Contemporary, they called it Rock & Roll.
By 2004 we had the lyrics, all fancy on an LSD projector.
Hit the chorus of How Great is Our God and we wonder who will stand first.
It's like the wave at a baseball game...
one at a time popping off the pews...
before you know it we are all standing.
You didn't want to be the only one sitting.
Look at us go.
someone sings a special.
everyone claps.
Highlighter in hand. Stay focused.
Wonder where we will eat lunch.
Hope the other churches didn't get out first and we will have to wait...
I'm starving.
Smile, wave, it was great to see you....

Church & Divorce
I didn't go back to the church I had attended faithfully
for 15 years.
X got the church.
And honestly,
he can have it.
I left the marriage.
They were there to console the one left.
I didn't fit anymore.
It's unfortunate, but sin exposed did not go well with our church pew upholstery.
I was scarlet red and the pews were baby blue...
Not the best combination.
Church is for pretty people.
I'd never felt uglier.

I attend, in an inconsistent effort,
a church 37 miles from my house.
No one knows me.
I'm not the preacher's kid...
or the X of anyone...
I'm just anonymously blending in.
Not contributing.
Just attending.
I know better.
My prayer is that God will use me.
Take the gifts He's given me and show me how to give back...
I can't sing.
How I wish I could.
I can, however, share my story in hopes that someone else
feeling what it feels like to fail can find some hope...
I can tell my story of Grace.
I know it well...
The story that took me from obligations, comfortable pews,
a glass castle, and a pretty life of fitting in,
to where I am today...
free to stay home and watch Charlie's Angels, but finally realizing
nothing on TV compares to real worship...

I like church...

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