Thursday, August 22, 2013

#YesToGod With A Bucket Of Snacks

Hello friends,

As I have been involved in the Proverb31 Online Bible Study and reading the book, “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God”, I tend to look at the big events, or the times that are major turning points in my life, when I have said #YesToGod. However, Melissa and Nicki, our OBS leaders, reminded us that we can say #yestogod in small ways daily. At first I feel like I was overlooking those small yeses, but as I asked God for direction for this blog He has begun to show several of those small yeses. I’d like to share one specific event, that I feel was a simple #yestogod, and the way my obedience turned into overwhelming blessings for me.

A little more than 2 years ago there was a fire at one of the cement plants in town. Four men were badly burned and taken to area hospitals, one by ambulance, the other 3 by helicopter. Because we live in a fairly small town, and tight-knit community, the word spread quickly about the accident. There were posts all over Facebook. So when I read that one of my friends and former co-workers knew one of the men, I immediately began to pray.

A few days later I was on a site for our church, and noticed that the family of Brent, the same man I had been praying for, had been attending our church. Wow! I already had felt great compassion for this wife and their children, but now…now it was personal! These were people in my congregation! I felt God tugging at my heart. I began to follow Brent’s progress on Caring Bridge. Caring Bridge is a website for patients (with long-term illnesses etc.) and their families to keep the rest of the world updated on the patient’s progress. I felt God leading me to do more. I read, not only about what Brent was going through, but the fact that his wife, Jenice (pronounced like Denise but with a J), was sitting at the hospital all day. She was allowed to go in and see him like once every 2 or 3 hours for 30 minutes, due to the fact that he was in the Intensive Care Burn Unit. God helped me remember a time in my family when we had to spend a lot of time at the hospital. He reminded me that some of the best things to have around were snacks and bottled water. If we didn’t have those we had to buy them and hospital vending machines get expensive. So I said #YesToGod and presented an idea to our HomeGroup for everyone to donate snack items and I would take them to the hospital for the families to share.

The day I drove to the hospital in Dallas, I must admit, I was quite nervous. You see I had never actually met Jenice, or the other wives. In fact the only thing Jenice knew of me were comments saying that I was praying for them on Caring Bridge. I had never seen her either. So I was directed to the waiting room for the burn unit. I walked in carrying a huge bucket overflowing with snack items and bottles of water. I asked for Jenice and she stood up. I introduced myself and told her what I had brought and why. She then introduced me to the wife of one of the other men. Her name is Pei. We all hugged and we talked. They caught me up on the progress of each man. Including the fact that the man who was brought in by ambulance had been able to go home. What a praise and a blessing! The other 3 however were still very critical.

Over the next couple of months I made 2 or 3 more visits, but spoke with the wives at least once a week, while their husbands and the third man made (I never have gotten to meet them) miraculous strides in healing. By the end of the summer, all three were home from the hospital, and returning for physical therapy on an outpatient basis.

Since then I have remained friend with Jenice and Pei. They have each had ups and downs through this journey. Their husbands are continuing to recover. I believe from a simple #YesToGod He has changed my life, by adding friends and experiences I never would have had if I had not said “Yes”.

This whole experience reminds me of this verse.

Matthew 25:35(ESV)
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,

Living in Grace,

Saturday, August 17, 2013

College #Say What?

Hello all!!!

In our Online Bible Study, we were asked to share a #SayWhat? moment. For my friends, that are not part of the Proverbs 31 OBS, let me tell you what a #SayWhat? moment is. It is one of those times when God tells you to do something and you think Say What? or you ask God are you really asking me to do THAT? It's probably something completely out of your comfort zone, or something you think is impossible for you to do. Let me give you a couple of examples. I've known many missionaries to up and leave their families and what they know, to serve God in a foreign country.  I'm sure when God first told them that He wanted them to be missionaries to a far-away land they probably said "Say What?"  I also know more than one family who has adopted orphans from China, Russia, and Haiti, after their biological children were almost grown, because God told them to. Now don't you think they probably had some Say What? moments along the way? I image they did, but when it was all said and done, I know for a fact, that the children they adopted have brought them great joy and tremendous blessings they would have never received had they ignored the voice of God. Also there are souls that would not be joining us in heaven had these parents not listened to God's calling! WOW!!!

I could stop right there, but I haven't shared my story...As I was thinking about this, the very first Say What? that came to mind happened almost 30 years ago. I shoved it aside, thinking, "God, that happened so long ago, no one wants to hear about that."  Yet every time I thought about this blog, that SayWhat? moment is what came up. So when I sat down to write, and that same story was the ONLY one on my mind I knew it was the one I HAD to tell! So sit back as I get to share, and even reminisce about being a young girl in love!  :)

It was May 1984 and I was about to graduate from Putnam City West High School in Oklahoma City, OK. I was as happy as a girl could be! I had been dating Cecil, a young man from my church, since October 3rd, 1981. We were totally in love and planning on getting married the following summer. You see our relationship was so much more than just 2 teenagers in love. We started out as babies in the same church nursery. As I grew up Cecil was always there, at church.

The Kindergarten and 1st grade Sunday School
 Class at Hudson Avenue Baptist Church
 approximately 1970. Cecil and I
 are standing next to each other,
 in front of the teachers. I am the only girl
 standing and he is to the left of me.

This is a close-up of the same picture.
 As you can see Cecil and I
 are standing next to each other.
 He was in 1st grade. I was in Kindergarten.

 We never attended school together but we always went to church together. Except one short stent, when my dad's job moved us to Lawton, OK. When we moved back to OKC, we went right back to the same church. God kept us together all along the way. Even when a new church ( or mission as we called it) was started in Edmond, OK. Cecil's family began attending there and so did my family. Believe me, our families did NOT attend because the other was there! Each family was doing what God ask them to do. I love being able to look back and see how God orchestrated the whole thing! As Cecil and I became teenagers we saw the value in getting to know each other and becoming friends. We were best friends, even before we started dating. We went through some horrible things together, the death of a member of our youth group, best friends moving away, the death of my grandmother and many other life changing moments. We went through some great celebrations too! Our mission was formed into a self-supporting church! We were charter members. We helped build the first church building! I remember when some of Cecil's nieces and nephews were born, and Cecil was there to celebrate with my family when my brother was born, almost 17 years after me! Crazy huh?!? Yes, there were other friends, but we were constant in each other’s lives. Always able to count on each other during the good and the bad. Once we came to the point that we knew we were in love and could tell each other, we knew there was no turning back, EVER!

So, I graduated High School with plans of attending college right there in town. Actually in Edmond, the very town that Cecil lived and worked in. How perfect could that be? Here was the deal, all my friends had already done the prep work to go the college they wanted to, but I hadn't. What was wrong with me? Well... I was getting to go to England, Ireland, and Scotland in July of '84, I was doing a lot of planning for that...but that wasn't it. There began to be a nagging in my heart that I wasn't supposed to go to the college in Edmond. God was saying, "Angie, I want you to go to IBC (The Independent Baptist College) in Dallas, TX."  At first I didn't even Say What? I out right said NO! That is NOT what you're saying! But that voice got a little louder and more persistent until I did, "Say What? God, Surely you are not asking me to move 200 miles away from my family and especially asking me to move 200 miles away from Cecil. To go to some Bible College that has less than 1,000 students to take Bible Classes for a year? Really? God, I can't do that! I can't drive in Dallas! I don't know anybody...ok, I might know one person...but God, my family is going to think I'm crazy when I tell them that YOU want me to do this!" I am telling you ALL of those thoughts went through my head! Satan really had me thinking that my family and Cecil would laugh at me and think I was crazy for doing something that God wanted me to do. I grew up in a Christian home! My momma lead me to Jesus! My daddy was the song leader at church and a great Christian daddy! They understood what it was like for God to ask them to do something and to step out in faith! But Satan can have you thinking crazy things! Honestly, I don't remember when I told them, whether it was before I went to England or after. I'm thinking it must have been before, because I remember having a peaceful trip. But when I told them, all of them, even Cecil they all said " If this is what God wants from you, then you have to do it!" What a burden lifted, to know that my family and my future husband supported me!

I believe it was the 2nd Sunday in August 1984, right after Sunday morning services we headed to Dallas.  My mom, dad, younger sister (then about to start her Junior year in HS), my baby brother (then about 23 months old), all got in one car, packed with as much of my stuff as they could carry.  The other car on its way to Dallas was a little '79 Nova whose trunk was about to explode and the driver couldn’t see out the back window for all the clothes hanging on the rack across the back seat. But that didn't seem to matter much, because I spent most of the 4 hour drive crying and repeating, "I don't want to do this...but I need to, because this is what God wants me to do. I can't do this...but I have to do what God has called me to do."  While Cecil would say "I know honey, It's going to be ok." It was the hardest decision I had ever made! So with great fear, but great confidence in God, we pulled in to the parking lot of the dorms of the Independent Baptist College in Dallas, TX.

My Family the evening we arrived at IBC. Left to Right, Me, My mom (Beckie), My Dad (Bill, in back), My sister (Becky) and my little brother (Billy, in front)

That evening began an unbelievable adventure in my life! I had NO idea what God was about to do that would forever change the path of my life, and it was all due to one decision, one act of obedience towards God, and for this 18 year old girl, it was RADICAL OBEDIENCE!!!

For the next 9 months I lived in a "dorm" with 3 other girls.  Actually, we lived in a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom apartment. It really wasn't too bad for 4 single girls in college. We had a small living room, kitchen and dinette too.  We even had walk-in closets, and everything was fully furnished for us. When I moved in, I had never met the girls that were to become 3 of my very best friends. In fact, the one I shared a room with, her name is Areletta, to this day is someone I consider one of my closest friends. I had no idea what God was setting up for me before I got there, but I soon discovered that there were at least 3 girls also at the college who I had known from church camp.  There was something unique about this college and that was, it was a mission project of the Trinity Temple Baptist Church. Trinity Temple oversaw its daily function, but many other churches financially supported it. While I attended IBC I also attended Trinity Temple. There were many members of the church whom I had also known from church camp, or for one reason or another had met before. God blessed me in 2 very special ways when he sent me to Dallas. Honestly, I probably didn't appreciate them the way I do now. The pastor of Trinity Temple had been my pastor in OKC from the time I was born, until I was 10. So I already knew him, his wife and his daughter, Rebecca, who happened to be my age and attending IBC also. In fact Rebecca was also in the church nursery with Cecil and I. She ended up being one of my bridesmaids in my wedding. The other special blessing was the fact that Cecil's older brother, Tiger and his wife Anne and (at the time) their only child, Rachel lived only a few miles from me. Tiger was also attending IBC.

Even though I had many friends around and I made many new friends, I was terribly homesick. I tried not to show it too much, because I knew it was much worse for Cecil. He wasn't experiencing all the new things I was. He wasn't swamped with assignments and working a new job. He was simply going to work and going home each day, or going to my parents’ house after work, because he missed me so much. Well, we made it through September and almost through October when Cecil's brother called him... You see in 1984 the housing market was booming and Tiger was making a living hanging wallpaper in new houses all over the metroplex. He had more work than he could handle. So that call was to ask Cecil to come to Dallas and go to work hanging wallpaper with his brother. Wow!!! This was our chance to be back together!!! But when we talked about it, we both agreed we didn't want him moving to Dallas if it wasn't what God wanted for him. Do you know how hard it is to make that sort of decision, when it is what you want so bad. But we both prayed, and truly felt a peace from God. So, in November of 1984 Cecil moved to Dallas. He lived with his brother and sister-in-law until May of 1985, when he got a job with Sewell Village Cadillac and was able to get an apartment for us.

Then, just as we had planned, we were married July 19, 1985, in Edmond, OK. After our honeymoon, we came back to Dallas. We have lived in the metroplex ever since.

Our Wedding Day
July 19, 1985

There is one thing I know for sure. That is had I not followed God almost 30 years ago in radical obedience, even after my #SayWhat? moment, I would not be where I am today.

I want to share one verse of scripture that was a favorite of mine back when I was 18 and going through these SayWhat times, and I still love it today!

Psalm 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

My Family-Clockwise starting with me,
Colton my middle child-23,
Hunter my oldest-24,
Stephanie my youngest-20,
Cecil my husband of 28 years!

Living in Grace,


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Loving Completely

Hello Fellow OBSers' and all my other friends,
For those who don't know, OBSers are the Online Bible Studiers' that have joined me in an online Bible study. We are going through the Book "What Happens When Women Say Yes to God" by Lysa Terkeurst. We are working on Chapter 1. If you are interested in joining us go to Proverbs31 Ministries OBS.
Now that I got that out of the way. Hi! I'm Angie. This is my 2nd OBS and I'm already loving it! God is truly speaking to me. So let's get to it!
Our memory verse this week is Deuteronomy 6:5. I like to make the memory verse all pretty and decorate it to reflect what the verse means to me. I print it on card stock or regular paper and glue it on an index card. Here is my interpretation of this weeks' verse in art form (by the way I used PrintMaster to design it I am NOT artistically inclined).

At the end of Chapter 1 Lysa asked these questions:
Read Deuteronomy 6:5
           How can you love God with all your heart?
           How can you love God with all your soul?
           How can you love God with all your strength?
Well, I gave my answers and went on about my business. The next day I read the verse again and began to work on making my cute little index card. That's when it began to bug me. Not how can I love God in those 3 ways but do I really know what that verse is saying to ME. So I began verse mapping. Now I don't know how you verse map, but I read the verse several times, pray over it and ask God to show me what He wants me to learn about it. Then I start looking at each word, kind of like the video shows us. Now, before I actually go through my thought process, I want you to understand, what you got out of this verse and what I got out of this verse may be 2 VERY different things. Let me just say, sometimes I can be an "out of the box" thinker. :)
Let's begin by looking at the first 3 words, "You shall love". Oops I better tell you, I use the ESV translation, so if it's a little different than yours that could be why. So, "You shall love", well this is pretty obvious the first word is YOU, that's me, so I'm going to replace you with my name  "Angie shall love". It makes it more personal doesn't it? "Shall love" that is the verb of the sentence. Ok, I chose to break it down into 2 pieces shall and love. Let's look at shall first. What do you think of when you think of the word shall? I think of the future. Now you may not, because it can also mean "will", like this is what you WILL do, like a command. Well I happen to think this particular "shall" is a combination of the 2. So it's like saying "Angie, this is what you will do now and will continue to do in the future until otherwise notified". Isn't that how God's covenants with the Israelites worked. Until He made another covenant with them, this one was in effect. Here's the deal with this covenant, WE HAVE NEVER BEEN NOTIFIED OTHERWISE! So, as far as God is concerned and as far as we should be concerned it is STILL IN EFFECT!

This is Petey, my baby, since all my children are grown.
Now to the second part of the verb, love. Love can be a tricky word for us. We love our husbands or boyfriends, we love our children, we love our church, we love our dog (ok I really do LOVE my dog, he's like one of my children!!!), we love our car, we love the Texas Rangers, and we love the OU SOONERS!!! Do I love my husband the same way I love my dog? Really!? I DON'T think so!!!.......He'll be glad to hear that.......We actually have to move on to the bottom of the verse to get to the way we are supposed to love, but you can be sure it's not how you love your favorite sports team or your car or even your pet. OUCH! Probably not even with the unconditional love we have for our spouses and children.
So far this verse is telling me (or you can put your name in place of mine, if you'd like), "Angie love forever...". Looks like we need to move on to find out who I'm supposed to love and how I'm supposed to love them.
This is the whole reason I dove into this verse. You may think I'm crazy and that's ok, I probably am. I looked at this next phrase and thought, "I've seen this phrase a hundred times, but I'm not sure I understand what it's saying, "the Lord your God". That has always sounded redundant to me. If so, why would we use that phrase? Let me explain why it sounds redundant to me. My name is Angela Rene' Pettijohn, but I go by the nickname Angie. Let's say that my husband introduces me to someone and says, " I would like for you to meet Angela my Angie. That makes absolutely no sense! He didn't tell them WHO I was to him he just told them my name, TWICE. How is the person my husband is talking to supposed to know our relationship, what we mean to each other? Unless he tells them, by giving me a title. So when he introduces me he says this is  Mrs. Pettijohn or this is my wife Angie . Keeping that in mind, I began to research both words "Lord" and "God" separately. Webster defines lord (low case "l") as "one having power and authority over others". However, in John Gill's Exposition of the Bible, he talks of Lord (capital “L”) as being The King, The Ruler The Lawgiver. So Lord is actually His title. Then when I looked at God. I found from Webster, that they define God as "the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe". That may be "technically" correct, but it is SO impersonal, and God is SO PERSONAL!!! He is my creator. He is my father. He is my provider. I could go on and on, but this is what we conclude, "the Lord our God" means The King our Father or The King our Creator. Express it however you want, but I think you understand. That gives me chills to think the Ruler of this universe is my Father, my Creator and He is saying to me,  "Angie, love me forever, till the end of time."  Let that wash over you. Just meditate on that for a minute.  I'm so blown away that the King of the World, Creator of all things wants me, insignificant to the billions of people in the world, just an average person, He wants...NO, He expects me to LOVE Him till the end of time!!!
Now that you've had a minute to let that soak in, we'll move on to the last 3 phrases, “with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” When I think of loving with my heart I think of my affection, my affection is built on thoughts so I look at my heart as my mind and thought processes. To love with my soul is to love with that part of me that is not physical. It is my being, my essence, or spirit. Finally to love with my might or as some versions say my strength, is to love with my body. Look at what I just said… I have said that this verse describes us loving with our mind, spirit and body. That is the whole makeup of who we are. So what that tells me that God wants us to love Him fully completely with our total self! I should be completely in love with my God unable to get enough of HIM!!! Do I love Him that way?
Let’s put this verse together the way I’ve described it.
Angie (  place your name here  ) forever love your King and Creator with all that is in your mind and with your whole spirit and essence and with all the strength that is in your body!
It just doesn’t seem enough! They are just words. My prayer is that my life truly reflects the love I have for my King and Creator! How about you?

Living in Grace,