Ozark Christian College–Thankful Thursday

ozark

Well, oh my. I simply wrote the title to this post and found myself with a gigantic lump in my throat and something resembling moisture building in my eyes. When I think of all Ozark Christian College means to me, my family and SO MANY OTHERS, I am completely overwhelmed. Rather than being speechless, I find myself with story after story after story swirling around in my mind of the ways God has been at work through this small Bible college tucked away in the southernmost corner of Missouri.

Ozark Christian College can be found in the now infamous city of Joplin, MO. We have been blessed to have both of our sons attend there. One has graduated and one will graduate in May. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to share there by speaking to the young women of their campus on several occasions. In fact, am heading that way today. We have been blessed to house camp teams, professors and missionaries from Ozark in our home. We are blessed that their current president, Matt Proctor, is from our hometown and we are proud to call his parents not only mentors, but friends.

Ozark Christian College is a place where truth is taught, community is real, leaders are developed and Acts 1:8 is being lived out every day. It is a place where one can continually witness sacrifice, commitment, grace, growth, and generosity. It is a place where professors are teachers, friends, coaches, mentors and living examples of the gospel.

Ozark Christian College is a place where “Just One” can make a difference. It is a place where students and faculty are answering the call to serve Christ in their backyards and the backyards of the nations. Ozark Christian College is a place of transformation. It is a place we are thankful for every day. The video below shares glimpses into the differences being made in lives at Ozark Christian College. Oh yeah! And that football player turned soccer player near the beginning–that’s my kid, and this Thursday I’m thankful to be visiting him and our friends at OCC. (Jerky and cookie bars on their way!)

We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together. . . .Not Ever

It was an amazing experience! I just spent the weekend with Taylor Swift! We sang her new song together over and over and over! And over and over and over. Okay, well, maybe I wasn’t really with Taylor Swift. But it sure did seem like it.

Because I was with some of the greatest jr high students in the world singing Taylor Swift’s new song, “We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together,” pretty much across the entire state of Missouri (from corner to corner) and back again.

We left Thursday afternoon for the GetAway conference at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO. It was a fabulous weekend! The worship band, Axios, (a great group of guys you should definitely have on your radar) did a beyond excellent job of leading us in worship. They also went out of their way to connect with each and every one of the 900+ students they could, plus they are good friends with one of our sons! Our speaker, Dusty Frizzell, used his gifts of humor, speaking and great life stories, added them to God’s even greater stories helping students recognize their need for Him and their part in His plan. Our group was also blessed to spend a day volunteering at the Watered Gardens shelter in downtown Joplin, hang out with some amazing college students, eat some Chick Fil A (most for the very first time) and get in a quick trip to an Orange Leaf (also a first). Boom! Gotta love the Jr Hi church trip experiences!

But, back to Taylor. Back to the song.

We sang it with the windows up. We blasted it with the windows down. We sang it in an Arby’s parking lot. We sang it to the boys van. We sang this song (and a couple of others) a zillion times—did I mention we had over 14 hours on the road—so, yeah, uh huh, we had a lot of time to sing.

And the more we sang that song the more I was convinced that it could become one our new anthems. You see, the girls and I had a great “God moment” when we talked about how Taylor’s attitude towards, well towards, perhaps, someone who used to be one of the someone’s who used to be a part of her life, could and even should be our attitude towards sin and temptation. We talked about how there comes a point in our life when we know that there are habits, attitudes, thoughts and actions in our life that need to go. But we flirt with them, go back to them, believe their false promises, and completely exhaust ourselves staying with something that is just wrong for us. We need to know that to really be free; we need to take some serious breakin’ up action.

We need to draw a clear line, and we need to be ready to say, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.” We need to say to gossip, backstabbing, dishonesty, insecurity, doubt, fear, you name it, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.” We need to recognize that temptation will “go talk to your friends, talk to my friends, talk to me,” but that we are strong enough to respond with a passionate, “But we are never, ever, ever getting back together.”

If we sang that line in our hearts until it was part of our heart, the truth of the truth that we are dead to sin and alive in Christ would begin to define all that we do.

Taylor is right. The back and forth is just exhausting. As we talked, the girls and I decided that when we are tempted to go back to an old habit or sin, we would remember this weekend, we would remember that song, and we would remember that because of Christ we are made for more. We would say good bye to those sinful habits . . . because we are ready to say with confidence, “We are never, ever, ever getting back together.”

“Not ever!”

Stuff From My Car

In a couple of hours I will be speaking on the campus of Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO, giving a late night devotional talk to a small group of some of the greatest young women around–the women who reside on the second floor of Dennis Hall! I have a great love for these girls! Earlier this year, I had the privilege of speaking to their entire dorm, but tonight we have chosen to take things to a slightly more personal level, and “tonight’s gonna be a good night. Yeah, tonight’s gonna be a good, good night.”

Although I’m writing this now, I won’t post until after I speak. Then there can be that element of surpise (maybe even for me), and I will still have time to process my thoughts one more time before they come out of my mouth–something I probably should do a little more often!! During my drive down to Joplin I was thinking about the things I felt that God was leading me to share with them. Things I wished someone would have said to me. Things that, if I had a daughter, I would want said to her–again and again and again–from someone other than her mother. Things that would sink down deep into her heart for all of her days. Things she would one day share with someone else’s daughter.

The last time I shared with the girls here, we talked about our baggage and our luggage–y’know that stuff we carry around instead of laying it down–and the importance of leaving it with the greatest baggage handler of all times–Jesus. As I thought about how we would move on in our journey tonight, I noticed in my car several things I was carrying with me that would help us to connect to things I wanted to say and maybe lighten the serious tone of the things we would be talking about. Things like:

A Worldless Book Cross Bracelet–This bracelet was made for me by a woman in our church. The beads reflect the light when I drive (at least on sunny days) and are anchored by a cross. As I looked up at that bracelet today, I know I want to remind them that we need to reflect The Light and that our security comes from being anchored in Christ and what He did on the cross.

Chapstick–Cherry to be exact! Oh yeah! We need to have coverage over our lips at all times. What comes through those babies comes directly from what is being stored up in our hearts. So if we are going to take care to have soft lips, we better take care to have a pure heart softened by the truth and love of God.

A Beanie Baby Bumble Bee–We will be taking a minute or two to talk about purity–like in matters involving the birds and the . . . .yeah, you guessed it. . .bees! But also in matters of the heart, the eyes, the ears, and as so many Pinterest Pinners put it, “my style.” There is a reason the guy from Cake wants a girl in a short skirt. . . .and we need to talk about that.

A Beanie Baby Lady Bug–Around here we don’t just have lady bugs, we have those annoying imposters, the Japanese beetles. They look like lady bugs, but they don’t act like lady bugs. They come in swarms, they take over everything around them and they stink. (I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this!) They may look cute, but they are not. A stinky disposition is something we need to mature out of because even if you try to cover it up, it doesn’t take long before people see the truth and want to stomp you out.

A Business Ccard and Hospital ID Badge–When we recognize our security is in Christ, and as we mature in Him, our identity becomes secure. Not only will we know who we are, but so will others, and our security will allow us clearance into their lives in order to help them know the One who can heal and help them.

An iphone–These little guy reminds us to keep listening to God. If we don’t we will become ruled by emotions, circustmances and reactions rather than truth and God’s direction. We need to be really careful what we’re takin in or we will be taken in by whatever comes our way.

Emory Board–This little tool helps us realize that our devotion to God will take some shaping up. There are some rough places we all need to let him smooth out, and even though it may hurt we won’t give up, give in, or give out. We will be women who keep our commitments, keep our promises, and keep our faith no matter what our emotions or insecurities may want to do. WAIT! What insecurities? There are being gently filed away and that baggage has been left with Jesus!

LOL!! I just wrote so much, all of which will probably take you longer to read than for me to say, but at the heart of all this stuff is the realization that through the years He has brought me to the place where I am seeking and seeing God in all things. Some of those things are so simple, like objects in my car, and others are so complex, like the giving and taking of life or the complexities of a solar system.

The things in my car helped to remind me of lessons I want to pass on to the women traveling the roads behind me–things like purity, maturity and security.

Proverbs 4:23-25 says:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips. Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you. Make level paths for your feet and take only the ways that are firm. Do not swerve to the right or the left and keep your feet from evil.”

WE WILL NOW PAUSE FOR SOME COLLEGE GIRL CHOCOLATE EATING AND FUN TIME
This morning:
Last night these girls and I talked about our need for real purity in our lives, and the need to grow up, put away our fears, put our trust in God and gain control over those emotions that keep us from completely devoting ourselves to Christ.

As we talked about the virtues held in this Scripture, we talked about the lies in the promises we read on our Dove Chocolate wrappers, how Smokey Robinson may “Second That Emotion,” but we want to “second that devotion.” Strangely enough, we finished up chatting about Peyton Manning! This simple, yet extraordinary man, and the integrity and example he has shown, but not just as a quarterback. His life reminded us how great the need is for men, and women, to live lives that set that example, and we prayed to be or to become women of purity, maturity and security, ruled by devotion rather than emotion, living out Christ’s example whever the journey takes us.

And it was a good, good night!