This Second Sunday of Advent we light the candle symbolizing peace. Peace – calmness, stillness, tranquility May you steal away some quiet moments to sit in stillness and reflect on peace. I, Shelly struggled with sitting still. I do still, but by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit’s work of transformation that is ongoing in my life , I have learned how to. But truly, I will tell you I am not sure I learned it really, but I opened myself up to receive it. One morning, it was a Saturday, my daughter was still young and I was still in those early days as a nurse practitioner where the learning curve was high and working in family practice was demanding and exhausting. Keeping up with a toddler was demanding and exhausting. I loved both(obviously the toddler more) but I was spent. In fact, financially for my family the NP part was necessary. So depleted on this Saturday morning I miraculously had a few moments to myself. I remember the echo of the scripture, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10). I had heard it. I had read it. I had heard others preach it and advise it. I didn’t know how to do it. I sat at my breakfast table that Saturday morning and cried out to the Lord, “Lord, what is still?? And how do I be it????”. That morning was the first, but not the last when I was embraced with this calmness. This feeling of stillness and serenity, this way my soul felt that was beyond understanding. It descended upon me like a warm mist and seemed to envelop me like the softest, gentlest cashmere. Later that morning I was moved to pen a poem and from that morning much transpired in my spiritual journey. But for the sake of this Sunday, this moment we are just going to pause at that warm embrace of the gentle , calmness that soothed my weary , exhausted body, mind and soul.
That peace I cannot give but He does. Ask Him for it. Then open yourself up to receive it!
I am awoken early this first of December morn. There is much in my heart and on my mind. Frustrations from injustices heaped upon me and others. A dear family grappling with a diagnosis we prayed against. Everything in my being wants to “fix it” or seek out someone or something that can. And yet this morning, the day after I lament to those close to me that I have not supped enough with the Lord in solitude as I know he has bid me to do, I am stirred from a deep sleep.
I reach for my phone as I often do, but no senseless scrolling this time. No there is a deep peace in this still, dark morning. My soul yearns for the Word and in the digital format at my fingertips, I am led to Isaiah. In Isaiah this message seems to bounce of the screen into my very marrow.
Stop trusting in humans -.
Myself- I promise I am quite aware of my own folly and shortcomings. Despite this I often spring to action to solve any problem placed before me or those I assess from afar seeking to solve them. For it is my nature and profession to assess, diagnose, and treat problems. Yet even that skill gets only so far in my own efforts. All the study and research and experience is empty apart from the Lord’s anointing of my call to serve others in medicine or even in my gift of exhortation.
In supervisors/leaders- The work place persons who seem to have control over my life and my team’s life due to their position are not the final authority. When the conflict began months ago, the Lord told me the battle is His. I am reminded again, ‘Don’t trust humans with even your professional life.’ They have mere breath in their nostrils. The one who placed the stars in the sky, who put in place that vast ocean, who hung that moon in just the right place , yes that same one who knitted me together in my mother’s womb and gave me the breath in my nostrils and my lungs, that One is where to place my trust even with these complex challenges. The battle is His. In my strength I get weary, because I am helpless due to their position. In His strength nothing is impossible.
A diagnosis handed by a series of tests from humans does not get the last word. I have personally been privileged to witness many odds defied. I need to remain in prayer , but trust and believe in healing. I know medical diagnoses are not the final word.
Approval addiction- I struggle with the desire for my friends, family, peers, even church family to approve of me. People pleasing and approval addiction is real and a life long thorn I shall contend with because I want to be liked, approved and thought of as a joy giver and peace bringer. I should still work in the gifts of exhortation granted me to bring peace and joy, but in conjunction with His will. “Who are you trying to please God or man?”
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
In this early contemplative advent morning I am reminded my faith is not in humans. My faith is not in myself. My faith is not even in my faith. All of these come up short. My faith is in the living God, Jesus Christ, the Son of Man, our Emanuel – God with us. In Christ alone – all other ground is sinking sand.
Thank you Lord for awakening me to sup with you this morning as you know it is my heart’s desire to do so though my flesh often fails. Thank you for this word of discipline, for I know, Lord, you correct the ones you love (Hebrews 12:6). Lord I pray that those of us who are in you may walk in your light, your path, and your will. Help us not to look to trust man, but to trust you alone. For you are our Maker and Redeemer. Lord bless this advent season so that I and all my brothers and sisters who seek your face may hear from you so that we may sow the seeds that we may reap a bountiful harvest for Your Kingdom. Lord let your Kingdom come in my heart and let your will be done , not mine. Let my life be a living sacrifice for you and your people all for your glory, our loving, Holy, merciful , Great God. It is in the atoning blood of the lamb of God I have access so it is in His precious name, Jesus the Christ I pray.
Today my only child heads out the door to begin her senior year. The last 12 years truly have flown by. It is surreal that we are here!! How did we fast forward through learning to walk, to putting monkeys (stuffed) in the microwave (toy kitchen) to gnome, fairy and Barbie adventures to her last year of high school. We had fun getting stuck in ice cream trucks (Snow Buddies), building Legos, Littlest Pet Shop parties, Mario Bros adventures and races. She went from learning to read, to write in cursive, to many doodles and scribbles and now art in full manga style among other images. She went from playing piano by ear since she was young to self taught ukulele then acoustic and electric guitar. She went from trips to Chuck E Cheese to the Game Preserve and movie nights with friends. She started dressing up as princesses, fairies, and lady bugs and continues to dress up, but now as more complex cosplay characters for comic cons and anime fests. She started her theater debut as a Dalmatian and has continued on to portray a Greek goddess, a Constable, a nurse, and a cranky businessman. There have been so many fun adventures and memories that the volumes would exceed Tolstoy’s great work. Thank you Lord for each moment of joy and for each trial and triumph.
I have so much joyful expectation for her. I have prayed and will pray even more fervently that she know who she is in Christ Jesus. I pray she takes all the gifts and talents the Lord has bestowed upon her and continues to grow in them so she may serve His Kingdom well by utilizing these gifts to bring light to a broken, weary world.
After she and my husband who teaches at her school both left for the morning, I sat sipping on my coffee and picked up my bible. I turned toward the Psalms and opened up to Psalm 27. I read it aloud.
I got to to these verses and I choked through tears . Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. There are two reasons this verse choked me up. First it echoes the plea found in Psalm 25: 4-5 which Kyra chose as her verse when she was baptized at age 8. Second, because of my oppressors -she has a story to tell that is her own but it involves some bullying in middle school and some challenges with depression and anxiety. Add to that some physical challenges that began to manifest in middle school mildly that were exacerbated and fully flared up after a virus last year. The oppressors of physical, mental, and spiritual torment come after us all in different ways. I watched the past couple of years my child take on some challenges, I am not sure I could have endured so well when I was her age. And then the next verses make a praying , pleading mother’s heart burst with hope and joy invincible and expectation that greater things are yet to come. I remain confident of this : I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. She will be healed and flourish like a seed planted by a stream. What the enemy has meant for evil against my sweet precious girl, God will use for good.
I pray for her delivery from anxiety, depression and the illness that afflicts her body. I pray for her soul wounds to heal. I pray for her to rise out of the ashes and soar. I know our God is good and has great plans for her. So I am holding fast to that promise here, now in the land of the living.
The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.
I want her to learn and grow in her studies this year. I want her to continue to be equipped to take on the world . I want her to develop skills and nurture her God given talents . When she was confirmed Bishop alluded to her God given talents and prayed she would use them for God’s Kingdom.
“Mom, ” she said inquisitively. “Did Bishop say the same thing to everyone confirmed today? ”
“No , he prayed a unique prayer for each of you, ” I replied.
“Mom, Bishop does not know about my art and music, does he?”
“No, Kyra, but the Holy Spirit does and Bishop is very in tune with the Holy Spirit.”
I share this with my readers, but it is more a reminder to myself that the Holy Spirit knows and guides her. Our Lord has a plan for her and it is GOOD!
You see her name, Kyra means light or Lord. She is and has been my light from the Lord. I know he does not intend her light for me alone but for the world as she reflects his light. I pray he continues to shine his Light in and through her that she may reflect this light and shine into a dark world that craves light and hope.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
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.
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.