Tuesday, May 17, 2011

RE Pilgrimage

Each morning I get a daily devotional from our friends in Ventura CA, Rex and Sherry Holt. Occasionally Sherry writes the devotional. Yesterday's was especially good and I'm reposting it here. I wrote Rex and Sherry and told Sherry that this settles it, she should write a book, and I said a book of her writings might rival Oswald Chambers' My Utmost... . I really mean that.

Sherry and Rex have a wonderful testimony that continues to work out even today as they are pastoring. I'm so grateful to call them my friends. They are true modern saints living out their beliefs in a fantastic way.
Sherry's Facebook Pic

Written by Sherry Holt on AWAKEN:
One of my favorite Bible verses is Psalm 84:5 "Blessed is the man whose strength is in You, Whose heart is set on pilgrimage.”

Rex and I have moved a number of times and at each new location, our lives have been enriched greatly. This verse represents people we love at all the various places that we have called home.

Our home in Togo was in an African neighborhood on a dirt street. Our house had been built by Europeans and was a mansion compared to the homes around us. We had given our female neighbors the invitation to fill their water basins from the faucet in our yard. The neighborhood children were a constant presence in the yard too. They had given me a name, which I had gladly accepted. The name they called me was, "Snoopy-bayno.” In the Eve language, it means "the mother of Snoopy" and you probably guessed that Snoopy was our dog. We wanted to give our dog an humble American name. He had originally been the heir to the Poodle owned by the French Ambassador to the neighboring country of Benin. Friends from Benin had surprised us with this gift.

While in Togo, I had a dear friend named Julienne Makany who had moved there from Brazzaville, in the Congo. I still consider her one of my dearest friends on earth. Julienne and her husband Levi were 2nd generation believers. They had 7 children. We communicated in French, which was neither her mother tongue nor mine, but it certainly did not hinder us from becoming "forever friends.” She knew how much I wanted a baby and it hurt her deeply because that prayer had not been answered.

One night she was leaving our house and for her very first time heard the children refer to me as Snoopy-bayno. It greatly grieved her. She rushed home, and knelt by her bed, extremely frustrated. A serious prayer conversation began between my friend and her Lord. She questioned God, "How long are you going to allow my friend to be called the mother of a dog!" That night she began to labor in prayer for me to have a baby.

After our son John was born, she came every morning to help me bathe him as an act of gratitude for answered prayer. She said, "I never want another prayer burden like that. You know there are some things that only come about by much prayer and fasting!"

I cried when Rex said he felt we were called to Africa, and I cried even more after our goodbyes to our families at the Memphis Airport as we were leaving. My husband led the way, and we two pilgrims made our home in that faraway land. I am so grateful that God chose us for this great blessing. Julienne Makany and so many other precious saints became our family--our sisters and brothers.

Now you know why I love that verse, "...whose heart is set on pilgrimage."

From a pilgrim formerly known as Snoopy-bayno,


Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Yesterday we had a great day of working, eating, and singing around the piano at my Mom's house. I and several others of my family enjoyed the day as we celebrated my Mom.

This morning one of my daily devotionals by Richard Rohr was about the maternal face of God. Very apropro for this day of honoring our Mom's. Thought I would share:

One of the things that led me into male spirituality was that most people have experienced their God image by experiencing the image of their mother. They experienced unconditional love not through the image of a man, but through the image of their mother. I realized how wounded the father relationship is with so many people.

For much of the human race, the mother is the one who parts the veil for us. She gives us that experience of grounding, of intimacy, of tenderness, of safety that most of us associate with our image of God. However, many people operate from a toxic and negative image of God. Nothing wonderful is ever going to happen as long as that is true. Early growth in spirituality is often about healing that inner image, whether male or female.

Most of us know that God is beyond gender. When we look at the Book of Genesis, we see that the first thing God is looking for is quite simply "images."

Genesis 1:26-27: Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them."

God is not looking for servants, for slaves or for people who are going to pass loyalty tests. God is just looking for images–"images and likenesses" of who God is. God divided this one whole image and likeness into what we call masculine and feminine. Whoever God is, God is profoundly and essentially what it means to be male and female. We have to find and to trust the feminine face of God and the masculine face of God. Both are true and both are necessary for a full relationship with God. Up to now, we have strongly relied upon the masculine.

Adapted from The Maternal Face of God.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Every day I receive a devotional from Radical Grace (Richard Rohr's Web site). I relate very
much to his posts and devotionals. The fact that he is a Catholic Father is amazing. Growing up as a Baptist, I was taught that Catholics are wrong and we should never even visit their churches. That makes my learning from Rohr a special treat, overcoming denominational labels and being open to truth from all sources. This one was extra special, worthy of posting and sharing.


Enlightenment (John 8:12) cannot be manufactured, manipulated, or delivered on demand. It is always given from another. Wisdom is not a do-it-yourself project. The Spirit blows where it pleases, and for those of us on the journey, all we can do is listen for the lessons and remain open. Jesus called this faith.

All we can really do is ask for the grace to be open and willing enough to recognize the secret doorways God opens for us. The door is almost always some form of suffering—physical, relational, emotional, intellectual, or structural. I define suffering as what happens to you whenever you are not in control.

Enlightenment is not about knowing as much as it is about unknowing; it is not so much learning as unlearning. It is about surrendering and letting go rather than achieving and possessing. It’s more about entering the mystery than arriving at a mental certitude.

Enlightenment is all gratuitous grace, and the only reasonable response is a grateful heart and the acknowledgment that, always, there is more to the mystery.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Real Change

Every day I receive a devotional e-mail from Richard Rohr, a Catholic leader. He has one of the best understandings of grace that resonates with me. Today's devotional really speaks to me. Thought I would share:

We operate with the assumption that giving people new ideas changes people. It doesn’t. Believing ideas is, in fact, a way of not having to change in any significant way, especially if you can argue about them. Ideas become defenses.

If you have the right words, you are considered an orthodox and law-abiding Christian. We burned people at the stake for not having the right words, but never to my knowledge for failing to love or forgive, or to care for the poor. Religion has had a love affair with words and correct ideas, whereas Jesus loved people, who are always imperfect.

You do not have to substantially change to think some new ideas. You always have to change to love and forgive ordinary people. We love any religion that asks us to change other people. We avoid any religion that keeps telling us to change.

Does this speak to you like it does to me? I read this and realized I've already learned this without knowing I've already learned it. I read one time that when we really learn is when we hear something that we've already learned in our life but we haven't verbalized it. We hear someone say it aloud and we say YES!!

Sometimes we think that's where we learned it, but as I experienced here, I read this and thought I already know this. I love the way this is written. It expresses truth as I've learned it and experienced it.
Not that I continually practice it, but I KNOW it, I really know it!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Lens of Grace vs The Lens of Law

Rex Holt, a friend of ours and a former staff member, writes a daily devotional. Recently, he wrote on law vs. grace and truth. I copied that devotional and pasted it here. He compared how we see life through lenses as our physical eyes see our world through lenses perfected individually for our eyes. Interesting comparison. Here's his devotional:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' ") And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
(John 1:14-17 ESV)

My right eye is stronger than my left eye. I know because I just tested it reading a scripture plaque about 10 feet from where I am sitting. I also know because the glasses I am wearing were fitted by an optometrist who placed this heavy looking machine before my eyes and kept changing lens asking which is clearer, this or this? He kept using all kinds of lens, some stronger some weaker, until he had the perfect blend for my eyes. So the glasses I wear are fitted uniquely for me. Now I never stop to think which eye is better I just see and the two eyes working with the two lens give me good vision for which I am grateful.

All of us see life through different kinds of lens. When the lens are right we see accurately and images are sharper, more distinct, with brilliant and beautiful colors.

John is saying that we need new lens to replace the old bulky, hazy, foggy lens of the law. These new lens are grace and truth. Notice which comes first. Grace. Grace is the totally undeserved, unmerited, favor and acceptance of God. It is the unending, unwavering, unconditional, unexplainable love of God for me, just as I am. Jesus loves me. Jesus died for me. Not me perfect but me messed up, fouled up and broken up. This is the kind of grace that says, "I am crazy about you and nothing can make me change my mind. I am not leaving you and nothing you can do will stop me from loving you...just as you are."

When we receive grace we also receive truth. They are inseparable twins. Grace allows us to see the truth about God and the truth about ourselves. Grace and truth go together like a horse and carriage, love and marriage, peas and carrots...you get the point.

Grace will change the way you see life. When grace gets a grip on you then all of life changes... you are more joyful, playful, winsome and loving. You come alive–fully alive and you face life with courage and faith.

Are you seeing life through the lens of law or the lens of grace and truth?

It's amazing how what lens we look through determines what we see and how we see it and subsequently how we think and then what we believe and do.

Thoughts to ponder.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homeless Wisdom

Each day I read in my e-mail In Box a devotional by Richard Rohr. Today's was this:

Less than a block from where I used to live in downtown Albuquerque, there is a sidewalk where the homeless often sit against the wall to catch the winter sun. Once I saw fresh graffiti chalked clearly on the pavement in front of the homeless. It said, "I watch how foolishly man guards his nothing–thereby keeping us out. Truly God is hated here." (I returned to copy the quote exactly because it felt both prophetic and poetic at the same time.)

I can only imagine what kind of life experience enabled some person to write in such a cutting but truthful way. I understood anew why Jesus seemed to think that the expelled ones had a head start in understanding his message. Usually they have been expelled from what was unreal anyway–the imperial systems of culture, which always create those who are "in" and those who are "out," victors and victims.

In God's reign "everything belongs," even the broken and poor parts. Until we have admitted this in our own soul, we will usually perpetuate exclusionary systems and dualistic thinking in the outer world of politics and class, and sometimes even in the church.

Adapted from Everything Belongs, p. 16

Interesting thought and something to ponder as the New Year approaches.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Saturday November 20 we traveled to Fort Worth TX to attend and participate in Anabel Gillham's memorial service at Southcliff Baptist Church.

Paul was one of three ministers who spoke. To end the service a video was played of Anabel giving her testimony that I've heard many times of how God used her son Mason to show His love for her. We all then stood and sang Jesus Loves Me. There was not a dry eye in the house.
Very meaningful.

I tried to find that video somewhere online but couldn't. What I did find was the printed testimony. I copied and pasted it here:

But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!"

Mace could sing one song with great gusto -- just one: Jesus Loves Me.
Jesus loves me, this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong.

He would throw his head back and hold on to that first "Yes" in the chorus as long as he could, and then he would get tickled and almost fall out of his chair.

Sometimes -- when I think back on those days that seem so long ago -- I can still hear him giggle. How special that memory is to me. . .

I never doubted for a moment that Jesus loved our profoundly retarded little boy. It didn't matter that he would never sit with the kids in the back of the church and, on a certain special night, walk down the aisle, take the pastor by the hand, and invite Jesus into his heart. It was entirely irrelevant that he could not quote a single verse of Scripture, that he would never be able to reason or to comprehend God's love, that he would never be a dad -- I knew that Jesus loved Mason.

What I could not comprehend, what I could not accept, was that Jesus could love Mason's mother, Anabel. I believed that in order for anyone to accept me, to love me, I had to perform for them. My standard for getting love was performance-based, so I performed constantly, perfectly. And I was convinced that if anyone ever really got to know me, he or she wouldn't like me.

Mace could never have performed for anyone's love . . . but oh, how we loved him. His condition eventually deteriorated to such a degree -- and so rapidly -- that we had to institutionalize him when he was very young, so we enrolled him in the Enid State School for Mentally Handicapped Children.

We drove regularly the 120 miles to see him, but on this particular weekend he was at home for a visit. He had been with us since Thursday evening, and it was now Saturday afternoon. As soon as the dinner dishes were done, I would gather his things together and take him back to his house. I had done this many times before, but today God had something in mind that would change my life forever.

As I was washing the dishes, Mason was sitting in his chair watching me, or at least he was looking at me. That's when it began -- spinning emotions, tumbling stomach, the familiar sickening thoughts of separation and defeat: In just a little while, I'm going to start packing Mason's toys and his clothes, and take him away again. I can't do that. I simply cannot do it. I stopped washing dishes and got down on my knees in front of Mace. I took his dirty little hands in mine and tried desperately to reach him.

"Mason, I love you. I love you. If only you could understand how much I love you."

He just stared. He couldn't understand; he didn't comprehend. I stood up and started washing dishes again, but that didn't last long. This sense of urgency, almost panic, came over me, and once more I dried my hands and knelt in front of my precious little boy.

"My dear Mason, if only you could say to me, 'I love you, Mother.' I need that, Mace."

I stood up to the sink again. More dishes, more washing, more crying. But now thoughts, foreign to my way of thinking, began filtering into my conscious awareness.

I believe God spoke to me that day, and this is what He said:
"Anabel, you don't look at your son and turn away in disgust because he's sitting there with saliva drooling out of his mouth; you don't shake your head, repulsed because he has dinner all over his shirt or because he's sitting in a dirty, smelly diaper when he ought to be able to take care of himself. Anabel, you don't reject Mason because all the dreams you had for him have been destroyed. You don't reject him because he doesn't perform for you. You love him, Anabel, just because he is yours. Mason doesn't willfully reject your love, but you willfully reject Mine. I love you, Anabel, not because you're neat or attractive, not because you do things well, not because you perform for Me -- I love you just because you're Mine."

Incredible! Unbelievable!

I had struggled for so many years, hating my performance patterns and yet living to perform, driven to perform, searching out the praise of people and thirsting for the love of God that I thought could come only to those who performed well enough to merit it. Yet God had just shown me that He loved me in spite of anything and everything, and He had shown me in a way that I could understand -- through my dear, sweet Mason.

Do you understand? You don't have to do anything for Him; you don't have to be something for Him. You can know that there is Someone who loves you not because of the way you do or don't look, or because of the talents you do or don't have. All you have to do is accept it: He loves you just because you are His.

* * *

Well, that's not the end of Mason's story. It wasn't long after that Sunday with him that Bill, our son Preston, and I went to visit him in Enid. We held his hand, stroked his hair, and talked to him. And then we prayed. God, by Your grace we've lived victoriously and have used Mace's little life and influence for Your glory . . . but we feel that he has suffered enough and that all the influence for Christ that can be realized from his life has pretty well been exhausted. God, if it be Your will, we ask that you take him to be with You.

We kissed Mason goodbye and headed home. It was the very next morning when the school called to say that Mason had "unexpectedly passed away during the night" -- and we knew that he had slipped away to be with Jesus.

The Far East Broadcasting Company in Cheju, Korea, received a letter from Bill a short time later: " . . . there was some insurance money. It belongs to God. We pass it along to FEBC for use in the China-Cheju Island project. . . ."

Mason's gift helped build a transmitter building for the 250,000-watt radio signal that now beams the gospel of Christ to China, Russia, and Japan. And it is because of Mason that people will continue to learn of Jesus, of His saving grace . . . and of the fact that He loves us just because we are His.

Yes, Jesus loves me . . .
Yes, Jesus loves me . . .

It was great to visit with Pres and Diane, Will and Kelly, and Wade and his wife and three children. We had not seen Will and Wade since our days at Southcliff. We sat at the dinner table with Will and Kelly and Will kept us all entertained and laughing. I told him I see a lot of his Dad in him.

It was pretty sad to see Bill Gillham. He's in a wheel chair and very bent over. He did know Paul and chuckled and responded to him. Bill is in Renaissance, a care facility in FW, and is taken care of and very loved by his family.

It's very sad to see this vibrant couple who affected so many lives through their ministry grow older and lose their health and now Anabel's gone. But there was much appreciation and love shown at the service. I sat with Mazie and Bill and it seems that Mazie was probably Anabel's closest friend. I introduced them years ago. Mazie was on the program to lead in prayer but she had to decline. She was sure she wouldn't be able to get through it.

We saw a lot of friends from long ago as we do every time we go back to Southcliff. It's hard to believe we left there 28 years ago. It was thirty years ago that the Gillham's moved to Fort Worth to be in Southcliff. Lots of memories!

So, Good-by Annabel. See ya later...