I did not make it to church this morning because I chose some physical rest after a late evening with my mom in the emergency room. Thanks be to God she is ok. I chose to complete my Bible study homework to reflect on this day of Sabbath rest. As I was working on it, it speaks of King Uzziah and the prophet Isaiah and how Uzziah was Isaiah’s hero. This question is posed-
“Have you ever lost a hero? If so, who was it and why was he or she a hero to you?”
Now I recently lost my Daddy and in so many ways he was a hero to me. However this question posed made me truly sit and think quietly and interestingly enough the man that came to mind, I was just talking about with my husband yesterday. I concluded that discussion with “I want to be like Vince.”
Vince Lucadou was a hero. I am not sure of every aspect of his life, but if someone told me that he scaled a building to save a kid, I wouldn’t be surprised. That was just the kind of character this man had. Let me tell you about my hero Vince Lucadou.
This tall man with dark hair , brown eyes that were caring, but could be as serious as he was witty. His stature is one that I imagine as a football player in his youth turned teddy bear. I met him at church for the first time in a prayer team meeting.
I just joined prayer team in a large sized church. I loved praying and was hoping to connect to others who loved the same. Vince was one of the first few I had met. Oh, Vince could pray. His prayers were with a firm certainty that was wrapped in love and set ablaze with passion. He loved praying.
Vince also loved praising. Many a time I would witness him in worship at a usual church service or even special praise and worship services . Vince worshipped with his heart, mind , soul , hands , voice and all of his being fully engaged in praising our Great God. I can still envision him with his uplifted hands singing out the words to the song ‘The Great I Am”.
I would learn Vince was part of a motorcycle ministry and a prison ministry. He would go and share the gospel and lead the Walk to Emmaus at the prison. He always loved to share the great things God was doing in prison. It is amazing how our God can free captives even though they may remain incarcerated and serving their secular penance. With repentant hearts they can be as free as the apostle Paul was in prison. Vince knew this. He wanted all of them to know it and he was there for any who would receive it.
I would learn Vince was a general manager of a Randall’s store. He heard I needed some empty boxes to create and activity for my daughter’s Minecraft themed birthday party I was hosting at home (back before any Minecraft items were marketed). Vince loaded up his truck on his day off and delivered several empty boxes to our home. He talked to my husband and myself but made a point to offer special attention to the birthday girl. He offered her a prayer blessing and then gave her a gift card. She could not believe this guy she barely knew from church was so very kind. That is just who Vince was.
Vince served on our church’s food pantry. He would minister to several people in our surrounding communities. As they would come and get their physical needs met, he would share a prayer and the gospel with any opportunity.
My mom was widowed in 2014 and she would not only benefit from the food the pantry provided she would tell me about this guy Vince who she discovered knew Steve (my stepfather) from the hardware store. Apparently Vince would go to Circle S, a locally owned mom and pop hardware store where my stepdad worked over 20 years. Vince knew my stepdad from there and how kind Steve was and how he loved to serve. So you can imagine how my widowed mom who humbly had to get assistance at the food pantry when meeting this man that was gracious, joyful, prayed for her and then found out he knew her husband, well this made her so happy. Vince and all the staff at the food pantry made my mom feel loved and appreciated, but this connection with Vince and Steve made mom feel even more comfort.
Vince always wrote encouraging replies on my Facebook page and long after the Lord shifted me to another church he stayed connected to me in this way.
When my Uncle Lynn died, my prayer was what I pray for anyone I lose. I pray they know and are at peace with Jesus. My Uncle Lynn spent time in and out of prison. He did not always choose well. In the last of his years apart from alcohol he straightened up mostly. Apparently there was a “preacher man” that would come to visit him at least monthly and sometimes more often.
I showed up for my Uncle Lynn’s funeral at the Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Houston. Apparently this preacher man was coming to deliver the message at my Uncle’s service . I learned my Uncle Lynn would hear the preacher man coming to his house and shout out “hide the beer , here comes the preacher man!” . The “preacher man” was Vince Lucadou. Vince met my uncle at least through the food pantry (and possibly at some point in prison ministry). He explained to my Uncle Lynn that he didn’t care about the beer and that didn’t need to hide it from him. He told Lynn the only one he needed to worry about any issues he had with that beer was God and well we can’t hide anything from him . Well that “Preacher Man” Vince gave me the sweetest gift when he shared at my Uncle Lynn’s funeral that after many visits eventually my Uncle Lynn professed his faith in Jesus.
I learned also at my Uncle’s funeral that Vince is married to the cousin of my Aunt Christi (who was married to my Uncle Stevie and is my cousin Kayla’s mom).
One man impacted the life of my stepfather Steve Quebedeaux as a customer of a hardware store; my mother Kathy Quebedeaux as a widow receiving assistance from a food pantry; my Uncle Lynn from the food pantry and prison ministry; my Aunt Christi Hicks as family; my daughter Kyra Huckaby as a fellow church member and a general manager of Randall’s that had some boxes to give; my husband by being a friend to his wife and kind to his daughter and a fellow church member; and me as a fellow prayer warrior, recklessly abandoned worshipper of God at Stonebridge Church in The Woodlands and as an encourager and prayer warrior on Facebook.
Look at how one man impacted a lot of people in a single family and he was unaware we were all connected.
Everything Vince did, he brought Jesus with him. He shared Jesus through his life and work and words, and posture and leisure time. Vince loved the Lord His God with all his heart, mind, body, and strength. He carried the good news to countless people. There is no telling how great was his impact. God knows and Vince knows now.
What we see ” through a glass, darkly;” Vince sees face to face and what we know in part he knows as he is known.
When I found out Vince had contracted COVID and was very sick. I flooded the throne of heaven with prayers of certainty that our God could most definitely answer and raise Vince up in that earthly tent. However, our God who is good, whose plan is perfect, knew it was time for his good and faithful servant to come home. I know without a doubt as sure as I breathe now that Vince heard , “Well done!”
Vince, Preacher Man…..you are my hero and if I can live my faith out with the reckless abandon in every aspect of my life as you did, then I will have a life fully lived.
Two recent events led me to feel as I imagine Noah must have when the dove returned with the olive branch.
The first moment was the day I heard Fr. Stan announce we are able to go back to sipping from the common communion cup (a couple of weeks ago) I was moved to tears and overwhelmed with elation.
The second time was today.
Today I had training on our Woodlands campus. I walked into our hospital- no checkpoints… without a mask and went upstairs for training in person with many of my smiling colleagues whose whole faces I could see. It’s been two years.
It has been two long years.
Working the pandemic has been quite an experience. In the beginning so much was unknown and fluid. We were all so uncertain and honestly scared. We witnessed the illness in all levels of severity. We had a front row seat to its impact and all the loss. Working all the surges exhausted, yet determined to fight through the fatigue because you wanted to help just one more person. Pushing aside your own grief for another day so you could help, knowing when it was all said and done it would be worth it.
Today in our training we paused to reflect on the past two years in our organization. I imagine it was like soldiers debriefing after a war. It was then I realized with my personal grief from losing Dad and all the other challenges I had not even begun to process what has transpired for me professionally these past two years.
As we reflected we talked about what we learned and the good we could take from it all. We talked about healing. Taking the good and learning from it all to move forward, that is where we can find the healing.
Drinking from the common cup. Walking the hospital lobby unmasked and sitting at a table next to my colleagues. These were my olive leaves.
Signs of life. The water has receded. It’s okay to come out.
Covid did not disappear suddenly because we proclaimed it, but now we have layers of protection and treatment options. Just this week we have a slight uptick after a massive decrease and an all time low (thanks be to God!!!). I was able to assess my patient virtually and then send an oral prescription to the pharmacy that will help their bodies overcome the virus. After sending 2 of those in a row, I was awestruck at how far we have come and messaged one of my virtual care partners…. ‘How amazing is this?’ We are excited to be at this point.
So it wasn’t a flood as God has kept his faithful covenant with Noah. But this global pandemic has been an exile of sorts. May we take all the good we have learned and NOT forget it. May we remember to never take life for granted. And when the next big challenge comes our way, may we remember we are survivors and we are most victorious when we come together.
This Holy Week has been a journey from a triumphant entry into a city to the temple, the mountains, an upper room, a garden, a praetorium, to a cross, and a tomb sealed with a stone. We have the privilege of living in a post resurrection world. We knew on Friday, that Sunday was coming. His disciples (our predecessors) however, did not.
I try on Holy Saturday to spend some time imagining what it was like for them. I try to imagine how they must have felt, what they must have done, what they must have thought. I do this because it has become my tradition to consider this whole week with Christ , so that Sunday’s bells and hallelujahs are even sweeter and louder. I do this because I do not want to take for granted the true miracle of the resurrection and the hope it is for us all.
This Holy Saturday this quote from C.S. Lewis kept coming to mind. While I don’t know exactly how Peter, James, John and the other disciples felt that dark Saturday, I know very well what it was like when I lived in my own darkness. I write so far removed from that time that it seems as far away to me as the Saturday we were all rescued.
Lewis is right, any part of us that is resurrected has to die. I can tell you many things in me that have died. Some quickly and some painstakingly slow. This death was necessary before new life could spring forth.
What has died in me : People pleasing, approval addiction, codependency, shame, nightmares from past trauma, a critical spirit that was born from insecurity, lies, fear, false identity, brokenness from my parents divorce, pride, anger from betrayal, unforgiveness, bitterness, envy, greed, comfort eating, mistrust , fear to speak the truth and stand up for what is right, excess worry, the inability to sit still.
Resurrection is bringing death to life.
I was dead in my sin. I was so sin sick, I didn’t even realize how bad it had gotten until I was so deep in the pit that there was no crawling out. I was in a toxic, abusive relationship. I had made poor decisions. I was failing out of college because I invested all of me into a relationship where the receiving person did not truly love me back because he did not know how.
The physical and emotional pain from that relationship damaged any esteem I had. I found myself in a downward spiral. I was telling lies to avoid getting in trouble. I became so good at telling lies I began to believe them and repeated some of the insignificant falsehoods long after the relationship had ended. I had made my own bad decisions before this unhealthy relationship, so I do not cast blame on him or make excuse. I was in a bad situation, but I reacted poorly. In fact the relationship ended after 4.5 years and I still made poor choices.
The truth is this: when I was a 10 year old little girl I knew who Jesus was and I professed my trust and belief in him. I knew he was my Savior. What I did not know was who I am in him.
So here I am in a pit that is dark, cold and I am wading in my own sin. The guilt and shame of my own actions and reactions. I was pretty low. In addition to that I was in the middle of my LVN program and hanging on for dear life to remain in the program because I had to work full time which was looked down upon. I had an unstable living environment and my finances were a constant challenge. Life was hard situationally when I found myself in this pit.
So in the midst of this a friend of mine looks at me and says, “You need to go to church with Josh tonight.”
I scoffed at him, ” You don’t even go to church. You are not even sure what you believe. Who are you to tell me to go to church?”
I don’t recall his reply. I was frustrated, but what he suggested was something I just couldn’t get out of my head. Something in my spirit was stirred and unsettled. I still believed, but I hadn’t been to church in years. So I found myself that evening driving my moped to my friend Josh’s church.
They were having a revival that week. There was a guest pastor. We opened up singing. Then it was time for the message So I am sitting there with this built up anxious expectation in my spirit. I clung to every word the pastor was saying. I don’t recall the message, but I remember very clearly what happened afterwards.
The preacher no sooner let the altar call invitation slip out of his mouth and this people pleasing , worried about what other people think, usually too shy to go up to altar girl bolted down that aisle like there was a fire to tend to. I kneeled at the altar and prayed. People laid hands on me and prayed. I don’t even remember the prayers, but I remember the feeling of being there but not. At one point I opened my mouth and did not understand the words I was saying. (That part I used to be nervous to share and tell others, because oh she is one of those. I mean what would people think about this sensible person ). You know what, if I am going to tell you what happened you might as well know that was the honest to God truth. I had never experienced anything like it before or since. But I was speaking words I didn’t know while I prayed and other people prayed.
At some point I just knew it was time to get up and go back to my seat. I did. At that time I noticed others were receiving prayers too. We sang. The service ended. I drove away on my moped and the only way I can explain it was I felt lighter. It was as if someone had lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders. As I drove home I couldn’t help but notice the grass was greener, the sky seemed more blue and whatever heavy feelings and presence that been lingering over me was gone.
That was a turning point in my life. I pressed in and finished nursing school. Things began to improve. I made better choices and tried to surround myself with more positive people. There were slip ups along the way, but this was definitely one of a handful of turning points in the life of one Shelly Lynette Curtis.
There were several more turning points which included my marriage, becoming a mom, becoming a Nurse Practitioner, getting baptized as an adult, and the Lord using an opportunity of a failed business to get my attention and grow me exponentially in my faith by discipling me through people he placed all around me when I wasn’t looking.
So this 48 year old Jesus girl who has been married 22 years to a man who loves the Lord with a 17 year old daughter who loves the Lord and is surrounded by so many clergy and beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ has come a long way from that pit.
I was dead in my transgressions, wasting away in guilt, shame, lies, and fear. I was barely keeping my head above water.
He rescued me from myself. He saved me, but he did not stop at my salvation. He surrounded me with people that would encourage me. He gave me a purpose. He has led me in the path of righteousness by discipling me through various ways and thanks be to God I will never be the same!
He has allowed me to cross over from the path of death and destruction to life. He called me by my name and told me I was His own. He restored me. He restored my academic integrity. I went from a 1.68 GPA at Sam Houston to graduating with my BSN at UT Houston with a 4.0. He gave me a career where I could use my caregiving nature to take care of others and support my family and do well financially. He restored my sexual integrity with a healthy God honoring marriage. Despite having an abortion as a young adult, he allowed me to have a healthy child and be a mom. Her name means light or Lord. She is my light from the Lord because she is a constant living reminder of His mercy.
So I mean it when I say there is nothing the Lord cannot breathe new life into.
I am glad that from death, with our God whom nothing is impossible, new life is found.
I found out the day I lost myself, is the day that I found God.
Sometimes I feel Peter is in the Bible just for me. I really identify with Peter most often. Any other fellow Peters out there? His impulsivity is fueled by his passion. He is well meaning but when he is quick to speak or act at times, he comes up short. I am thankful that God used Peter and the Peters of this world for great things.
Holy Week wasn’t always something I observed. It began when I came to the Anglican Church several years ago. My former tradition was more of a Protestant Evangelical background. We did not follow the church seasons , so we did not follow Holy Week. Easter Sunday was always a huge celebration, but we did not walk out the week with Christ. So the first time I observed a Maundy Thursday service, I was in awe.
On Maundy Thursday there is a foot washing. Our Priests reflect the same humility and servant leadership that Jesus exemplified when he washed the feet of his disciples. This is carried out in our Anglican Church as the rector invites 12 members of the congregation to come to the front pews. Six persons will sit on each side and two priests will each choose a side and wash 6 set of feet.
I watched the first year as my husband and 11 others came forward. I watched our priests wash and dry 24 feet. I was blown away by the humility. The rest of the service is powerful as well, but I will save that for another day. For now let’s talk more about this foot washing business.
So it is my second Maundy Thursday service to attend. Father Stan calls for volunteers from the congregation. I felt a nudge to go. This was the internal dialogue:
Nudge: Go up there and get your feet washed
Me: No, thank you. I will save that place for someone else. I wouldn’t want to take a spot that was intended for them.
Nudge: there are still several places
Me: *looks around for people to see if more are making their way forward* No I am sure others are just waiting to see. Besides I would rather do the foot washing then dare have my priest wash my feet.
Nudge: Shelly, go forward and have your feet washed
Me: That’s ok, someone else needs to more than me
Nudge: Shelly, you think you are being humble, but refusing to be served is a type of pride. Now go up front and let your priest wash your feet.
Me: *slowly nervously walk up and grab a place. Sit quietly fumbling to remove my shoes hoping my feet don’t smell because I am sure in my nervousness they are sweating now*
The priests are making their way through each parishioner.
The priest gets close.
‘Lord, forgive my pride. Sorry I was too embarrassed, too prideful, too worried what others thought to come up here. Lord wash all of me so I can serve you well. ‘
Oh , Peter, Peter I so get you!
I truly thought I was being humble by not going up to have my feet washed. Little did I know that pride comes in various forms. There is the obvious kind exhibited by self importance, arrogance, or a haughty nature. Then there is the kind that is quieter and more subtle. It disguises itself in selflessness.
I learned through a study of David written by Beth Moore when examining King Saul that one can be giving and selfless, but still self-centered. As a recovering people pleaser mind was consumed with constant worry of what others thought.
I had a family member explain “you are not self-centered, you are giving and kind.”That is what I thought, but I was because my thoughts were always on me- what did people think of me, what did they think of what I said or did. It would leave me paralyzed at times.
Through that “David”self study I realized I was a people pleaser like Saul and my people pleasing was holding me back from all God had wanted for me. God also revealed to me in that study that there was a King David inside of me and he wanted to wake up that part of me. He wanted to nurture it and grow it. He had plans for me. What I didn’t know then that I know now was that he had some giants he needed me to face too.
So how does one recover from being self-centered in thought, people-pleasing in nature, and worried about approval of others? God taught me he wanted me to be centered on him.
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
So I continued that Bible study and began another one. I fell in love with Christian music. I listened to sermons on the radio from several different pastors on the way to and from work. All I could think about was Jesus.
It was like when you first fall in love and you want to be with that person all the time. When you can’t you want to talk to them. When you can’t do that you want to talk about them to everyone. I found myself a hopeless mess that was head over heels in love with a Savior that took me out of a pit and placed my feet on solid ground. I thought about the Lord. I talked about the Lord. God bless a couple of my friends who knew me back when that contacted me at the time, because I inadvertently beat them over the head with it. I was in love, being transformed.
God placed people around me that would nurture me. He had me move across the street and next door to pastors. My brother became a pastor. The friends I met across the street , the patients in my exam room, the main pharmacy we sent prescriptions to …they all loved Jesus. It was like he saw I was a mess and needed discipleship and he just lovingly surrounded me and hugged me until I fell deeply in love, finally with an understanding that he loved me back. In fact he loved me first.
It was in and through that experience that I learned to listen to his voice, especially through his word in the Bible and learned about those nudges from the Holy Spirit. It was that understanding that placed me on the front pew of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church in Spring, Texas with my nervously sweaty and likely smelly feet as I sat humbled and laid down my pride to allow my priest to wash my feet. So I could allow my true love, my Savior Jesus to keep transforming me and making me new.
[For I am]… confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus
Even now as I use this passion of writing to share my reflection of Maundy Thursday, Peter, and overcoming pride… this witness , this retelling of my story has taken me from a place of complacency in the relative recent past to return to my first love of Jesus. As I typed it out for you I relived the elation and exuberance of my days of exponential growth in my faith as the Lord discipled me. The good news is he is not done with me, as I noted above. And with the rekindled passion, fervor and butterfly in your stomach feeling from my love of my sweet Jesus I will move forward in this Holy Week.
I will walk with my precious Jesus through some wonderful and some trying times. Then I will accompany him , but only as far as the foot of that cross that he bore for me, because I could not bear it. At the foot of that cross I will remember not only my first love , but my first moment of faith when as a 10 year old little girl when even though I didn’t understand it all… I knew that I knew that I knew that this perfect man, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God died on a cross for me and my sins. And I will wait …. So it can sink in deep …..and the resurrection Sunday bells and “Hallelujahs” will resound all the sweeter, louder, and deeper because I walked with my Jesus, my Savior and alas my Lord through this week.
As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
Luke 19: 29-31
This prelude to Jesus’triumphant entry into the city kicks off the week that Christ followers call Holy Week. This week in the life of Jesus of Nazareth will unfold with a series of events that lead to his death by crucifixion. Jesus the Messiah will walk out this week in continued obedience to His Father’s will. He would fulfill prophecy and man would be reconciled to God. For this has been the plan all along.
This very moment of instruction to Jesus’ followers was part of fulfilling the plan God had laid forth.
We know Jesus was not received by all as Messiah, because he did not come and do as they expected. However, Jesus came not to fulfill the desires or expectations of the people. He came to fulfill the will of His Father who sent him . He came not to overthrow Rome, but for a greater purpose. He came to defeat sin and death for all, even the people who would reject him.
I want to pause for a moment in the story and consider the God of the universe, Maker of the heavens and the earth subjects himself to the limits of the human flesh. He is a God who needs no thing. He is Maker of all. However, he made a plan and a promise and he used some material things to fulfill that plan.
So the Lord needs a ride into town. He needs it to be a colt to fulfill prophecy. And make note this King of Glory comes riding in on the day of his triumphant, glorious entry to the people not on a large stallion or strong mare, but a colt. God enters in to our world humble and gentle on a colt.
Our Lord does not need anything, but He is a Creator who loves his creation. He knows we need him. We needed a rescue from ourselves . We needed a plan so we could see and understand it. We needed a promise so we could see its fulfilment unfold so that we could understand, take hold of, and believe it in order to receive what it means.
The Lord did not need a triumphant entry, but he was about to walk to the cross. He was about to be beaten, and mocked and nailed to a cross. The Creator of the Universe did not need this passion week, but we did and do. And for love he was willing to do it, because on the third day he rose again according to the scriptures. He rose and dwelt among man. He defeated sin and death and showed us. He let Thomas touch the wounds so that he might see and believe. He promised blessed are those who believe though they do not see .
He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of the Father. He will come again. This time not on a colt but on the clouds. He is coming soon. The Lord does not need us, but he wants us. He wants you as his own.