A Hero Not Fallen, but Raised Up

Vince Lucadou, my raised hero
April 23,1960-Jan 25, 2021

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.

Ex tenebris, lux

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.

-Switchfoot

O Death, Where is your sting?

Today is my Uncle Steven Carl Hicks’ first heavenly birthday. He entered eternal rest Aug.28, 2021.

Today in church we sang these words from an opening song
“Christ is risen from the dead
We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake!
Come and rise up from the grave
Oh death! Where is your sting?
Oh hell! Where is your victory?”

As I sang tears streamed down my face as I both grieved my Uncle’s death and rejoiced in the truth of this song. In these tears I had simultaneously much needed pent up grief released and yes also joy.

Later during the service we sang the hymn, “Come Thou Fount”

The tears constantly flowed as I sang the words of this hymn we sang at my Grandma Arlene’s memorial. You see it was at this very memorial Unc stood up before his family and proclaimed fervently the truth that is proclaimed in that hymn. He knew this truth. It transformed him. His life changed dramatically and he yearned for all of his family to have this same hope and joy.

So today it felt as if Uncle Stevie, and Grandma (Memaw) , my two faith giants were smiling from heaven while I sang out through tears and sometimes choked through this resounding truth:

“Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace

Come my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless days

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee

Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
Here’s my heart
Oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above”

And as if God through His tender, comforting Holy Spirit reached into the recesses of my grieving heart and said, “I know it hurts sweet Shelly and I am here.”

Sideline

I’ve been coasting

Half awake, half asleep

Space ghosting

Thought I was okay

Cause I still believed

Life’s been quaking

Illness, disease, death

Heart breaking

But I saw the sun

Behind every cloud

If I’m not fully awake

I’m not fully alive

There are times to sleep

Times to retreat

Times to heal and hide

But that time can’t last

Forever

Gotta get back in the light

Time to step forward

Back into the sunshine

If you’re sleeping

You’re not leading

Time to get back into the fight

You’re no longer bleeding

the scars won’t fade

But that pain that made them

Will be the impetus

To take on the charge

Now let’s charge that hill

Stake that claim

Lives are at stake

This is not a game

Victory is won

But you gotta step into it

Now who you gonna bring along with you

Cause this journey is yours

But it’s not meant to walk alone

And every beat of your heart is calling you home

So wake up

Start walking

Speak up

Start talking

You have a lot of fight left

You have lot of work to do

Gotta finish this race

Gotta see it through

Fighting

People are fighting

Fighting for life

Fighting about

when it begins

who gets to decide

The fate of the unborn life

People are fighting

Fighting for their life

Fighting to breathe because of a disease

While others

Are fighting for the strength to go another day despite overwhelming despair

And others still

fight the odds and obstacles to bring new life into the world

People are fighting

Fighting to sustain life of those in their charge

Fighting with medication, ventilation

and all the tools and knowledge we can employ

Fighting….

For life

To begin

To stay

To end

To never have existed

What are we really fight for?

Who are we really fighting for?

I thought it was for you

Maybe it was for me

When is it time to fight

When is time to just be

Life

Breath

Life

Death

What are we fighting for?

Lamentations for Daddy

I miss you today

But I miss you every day

Since you went away

But sometimes my mind

In preservation thinks you are fine

Just at home where we last spoke

Before the phone call when my heart broke

Though many events unfolded that morn

Somehow my soul knew you were on your way HOME

Not the temporary place we are passing through

But the eternal home with the Maker and the Saints

Though I miss you today

And every minute to come

I could never selfishly call you back from home

You are free , fully healed and at peace

So for now I will treasure the lessons and memories

And keep missing you each moment

And some moments I cry

But I also rejoice in hope

Because soon we will reunite in the blink of an eye