May 30, 2013

Giving Back: West, Texas

***Update-- I started the following post a few weeks ago before the tragedy that occurred just north of us in Norman, OK.   I finished it today with both towns still heavy in my heart.  

    About 2 weeks ago, a fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas caught fire and exploded. The quaint little town of merely 2,800 residents lost 14 of their own. Beyond the lives lost, homes, schools, churches, and business were destroyed. People were displaced out of their homes, but also the water supply of most of the town was shut off due to contamination.
    West is about 60 miles south of Dallas, and roughly 85 miles south of where we live in Frisco. It's known to many of us post college folks as the 'Czech Town'. Anyone making a road trip on southbound I35 towards Austin or to float the river, has stopped in West to enjoy a tasty treat from one of many of it's Czech bakeries. Michael also happens to have family in the town. So we decided to rally up some of our blessings and make a trip down to visit and bless others.
     In just a couple of days, from our neighbors and preschool, we collected this entire truckload of supplies as well as a few hundred dollars in gift cards! The good news is that the residents didn't need much food. Food and meals were coming in from other sources. The bad news is that every single thing was contaminated so people needed cleaning supplies that were water-free.

We woke up early on a Saturday morning and loaded up all 3 Caney boys in the back seat and headed South with our loot.  Earlier during the week I had connected with Michael's aunt & cousin who were working in the heart of the relief. They told me that the main support location- the fairgrounds in West, had run out of room to store donated supplies and that only money was needed. The news was saying the same thing. I already had a wagon load full of stuff that had come in, I couldn't not go, right? So I prayed about it and did a little research. I thought, surely, in a town like that, and here in the Bible belt, one of the first places people will go for help will be churches. So I just typed 'church West, Tx' into Maps on my phone. Number one on the list was the First Baptist Church of West, Texas. I called and spoke with a man who worked there and told him I had a truck of supplies and no where to take them. He told me, "Yes, we can take them! We are feeding people but also giving them a place to shower." 

We pulled into West just after lunch time. There was a fireman's funeral going on at that exact time. It didn't take long to find the FBC. When we arrived, this is what we saw. I had no idea the southern baptist convention had their own disaster relief team! How amazing is that!! They had sent people from all over Texas to help out. People were serving meals, cleaning, unloading supplies and every single person had so much joy in their service. They were genuinely happy to be there. God loves it when we serve faithfully and without heaviness in our hearts. 

And this is the one that really got me......

When I saw this sign, I just was so humbled. From this suburban mom living a posh life, God really gave me a good sense of reality that day and just how blessed I am. I could not imagine having to leave my house to shower or wash clothes. I can't fathom dragging all 3 Caney boys across town just to get cleaned up. And this is what these precious people were doing. 

There were trucks of food as well as outdoor kitchens where volunteers were cooking the food. 

The boys helped unload the truck!

After unloading our supplies and chatting with some volunteers, we headed outside of town to visit family. We drove under this. 

So sobering. There was a funeral procession coming right after us towards the cemetary to bury one of the fallen firemen. As we drove on down the road, there were paulbearers on horses lined up along the road and cemetery gate. I just kept thinking, "What if that had been MY husband?" How could I even fathom such a loss?

With all the devastation that our country has faced over the past few weeks- first the Boston marathon bombing, then the West explosion, and now just last week-- the tornado in Moore, OK, so many of us are looking for awswers. Why, God, why? The hardest question to answer as a believer is "Why would God allow such tragedy to happen. What kind of God allows children and firemen to die and allows murderers and rapists and such to live and carry on?" 

Friends, I wish I knew. I wish I had an answer. In the West explosion, while as terrible as it was, actually going in to the town, I have never seen so much service and collaboration. God provided meals, water, showers, and laundry. God provided Himself. People were crying out, praying for help and He arrived. It may not be in the exact package they asked for, but he arrived.  God likes to show off in that way! He doesn't always work things out the way we ask, he works it out His way. We will never truly know the exact reason for every terrible things that has happened to us until we meet our Father one day. Only He knows. He allows us poverty, destruction, terror, and tragedy. He doesn't create those trenches. He is all powerful. But He only makes good. However, he doesn't always keep us from falling in those deep trenches. It is when we are at the bottom of them, and on our knees, that we realize only He can get us out. And that is His grand plan folks. It's all for His glory. How many people down in West and now up in Moore are praising God for what they still have? How many people are learning to lean on a Savior because they have seen the handy work of his angels in the form of kindnmess and provision? We will never know. But He knows, friends. He knows it all. 

And so I leave you with this. The FBC had it posted on their marquee. Fabulous news. There is nothing bigger than Him. 

May 1, 2013

{Unconventional} Marriage Secrets Day 10

    First of all, we want to say how much we have enjoyed blogging together. It was never really something we intended. I came up with this marriage series idea while were in Vegas a couple weeks ago. I always let Michael read anything I write before I hit 'publish' to check for left out words, theological soundness, etc. I never had thought about him co-writing with me, but the Lord works things out for His good, right?  Having a male perspective has given perspective to my mostly female audience as well as gained some male readers. We have received so many emails, texts, Facebook messages, and face to face conversations regarding how much everyone loves reading our story. I say this in NO way at all to toot our own horns, but to say that it is clear the Lord has called us and desires to use us.

{Unconventional} Marriage Secret #1: Don't Go To Bed Alone

This sounds so simple and mindless right? But let's dissect this. Look back at Secrets 2-10:

2. Keep IT Sacred
3. Just Do IT
4. Secrets Don't Make Friends
5. Pray- Together & Apart
6. Ask For Help
7. Have Your Own 'Things'
8. Honor Your Temple
9. Don't Yo Momma
10. Break Your Molds

  I really believe that if you just go to bed togther at the same time as often as you can, most of the above 'secrets' can be accomplished. In the eight years we have been married, other than one of us traveling, I can count maybe 10 times that one of us has gone to bed without the other. Monthly, I go to Bunco with my girlfriends. It's usually around 10 or so when i come home. Even if he's sleepy, Michael stays out on the couch until I get home safe and we can go to bed together. I am not the biggest sports fan in the world and come fall, he loves to stay up and watch Monday night football. This bores me to no end. But rather than go and do my own thing, I sit on the couch with him. I fall asleep there on the couch because to me, it's better to fall asleep on the couch next to him than fall asleep in bed alone.

I feel like, if both of us are making a point to go to bed at the same time, even if we are not being physically intimate, it keeps 'us' sacred and connected. While we may have a ton of craziness that drags us apart during the day, it's the one thing that we come together for every night, and I can always count on that.

  Something about your bed, your marriage bed, makes you both vulnerable. It puts each of you on the same playing field whether it be praying together or sharing secrets. The Bible tells us "it is not good that man should be alone." (Gen 2:18) So then God created Eve. God could have just made Adam, right? He could've chosen for Adam to be alone. But no, he made Eve. He created her, from Adam, to be his helper. Not his clone or his twin, but his helper. In His sovereingty He could have also chosen to make just Eve. Or he could've created both of them, but never put them together in the garden. God wants us to be with our mate, to be close to them. This is my own theoligical interpretation----; God removed a rib from Adam, and from that he formed Eve. We know that to be true based on Genesis 2:21. So my thoughts are: Why the rib? Why not the femur because it's the strongest bone? Why not the pelvis because it is the center for childbearing? The ribs encase and protect __________? Yes! The heart! The ribs protect the heart!!!!

They protect that which gives us physical life and breath. The heart is at the center of everything. It's because of Jesus we are given a new heart in Salvation. And, through the Holy Spirit,  we have a new heart that lives, beats, and breaths for God. And God created us ladies-- Eve--- to protect this in our man. By being with our Adam, we are protecting his heart- his life. How special is that? 

So I guess it's my turn one last time to chime in here. I don't think about a blog entry before I write it. It's based on Becca's heart and what she is feeling. When I contribute, it's based only on how her post inspires and impresses me. 

I agree with all she said. Until now, I had never thought about the heart/rib thing. I'll do some additional study, but it begs a question for sure. 

It's interesting how this plays out for us. We are not saying don't go to bed mad. We are not even saying don't go to bed alone. We are just saying to keep it sacred and stay connected. In our marriage, this works. If I stay up late without Becca, my heart can wander. I have a dark and sinful heart. I get lonely. I can get lustful. Having Becca near me enables me to guard my heart. 

We stay on a similar schedule. Sometimes I fall asleep in her lap and she wakes me up for bed. Other times I wake her up for bed. Either way, we are together. I cannot imagine saying "well... I'm going to bed" and going to bed alone. It's funny now that I think about it. We just don't do it. I think it's our way of stating commitment to each other. 

So here's the question: How are you showing your commitment? How are you guarding your heart? Men, are you giving your wife space and permission to lead beside you?