Archives for posts with tag: God

BenjaminStarSometimes, when the lighting is just right, I can’t help but grab my camera. And when Benjamin plugged in the tree top star to test it, I knew I wanted to freeze the beautiful image on film.

Seconds later he pulled the light bulb and its cord away from the star and began swinging them from left to right.

Can you keep your body really still and swing the light in a full circle, I asked… all the while snapping pictures.

BenjaminLight1

BenjaminLight2Miraculously the camera-shy boy obliged, and we all ooohed and aaaahed when we saw the results. By leaving the camera’s shutter open a bit longer and staying still, we captured the path of the light.

Staying open.

Staying still.

There’s something to that.

“… the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining.” — 1 John 2:8

Mama and Marketta

With a name like Marketta, you’re bound to have nicknames. That is, unless you have a mama like mine.

Growing up there were countless people who tried to shorten my name but each person was corrected – firmly – by Mama. She named me Marketta, she’d say, and that’s exactly what she wanted me to be called.

At times it was a little frustrating, and even a tad embarrassing when I was a teenager, but on this one point Mama was unmovable. I had no choice but to go along with it.

Somewhere along the way, I guess I succumbed to the brainwashing because I started to get irritated when people said my name was too difficult to pronounce or when they’d ask if I had a nickname that was easier to remember.

“You can call me Marketta,” I’d hear myself say firmly. And then I started to get it, how this really wasn’t a battle over nicknames. I got a glimpse of what Mama had been trying to teach me: Not to budge on who I am.

Life has a way of knocking us down and trying to slap labels on our foreheads. If we listen to some people, we can start to believe we’re failures or we’re lazy – that we’re not contributing anything of meaning and that we’re not worth remembering, no matter how short our names are.

It’s one of the biggest lies in the universe, this idea that we’re defined by what naysayers think of us or by what they want to call us. Still, sometimes I fall for it. That is, until I remember who I am and whom I serve.

I believe in a God who literally filled the depths of the oceans and placed each star precisely in the sky, a God whose power and compassion I can’t even begin to describe. And in my mind, it’s that awe-inspiring God who says we’re loved, forgiven and cherished. I can’t help but give his opinion a little more weight than what the average person thinks.

He says we’re worth remembering. In fact, we’re worth it all.

He even says it firmly. And I believe him.

Sisters: Marketta, Jaquita and Kathy

For me, church is not just a building or even a group of people who worship and serve together – it’s something that happens.

As a kid I went to a rustic church camp tucked away in the hills of Arkansas. When my youth group first started going there, the cabins didn’t have air conditioning and you needed to wear rubber-soled flip flops in the shower to avoid a slight shock.

The centerpiece of the camp was the chapel and it had only a dirt floor and a tin roof. No walls. No frills. One night, it started to storm. Rain came down in sheets and slammed into the tin roof, making it almost impossible to hear anything else. Within minutes of the start of service water ran down the aisles and formed puddles among the uncomfortable pews.

But just when it seemed worthless to stay and try to listen, a man stood to sing the old Southern hymn “When the Roll is Called up Yonder.” It was as if he had swallowed a microphone. His deep voice carried from the front of that soaked little chapel all the way to the back, and as the words from the song washed over the congregation, things began to change. Teenagers started standing and thanking God for the changes they had seen in their lives, for the times he had helped them through rough spots and for the love he shared with them.  Gratitude and grace entered the room and there, amid the mud and the rain, church happened –creating a moment that God might want to be part of, something sacred, powerful and unforgettable.

I’ve been back many times to that little chapel that now has a cement floor and a new roof. I’ve spent time in the opulence and beauty of the Vatican. I’ve had thoughtful conversations with groups of friends, and I’ve stood alone in my modest kitchen with just the buzzing of the refrigerator. In all of those places I’ve had extraordinary moments when I’ve felt close to God and faith has come alive for me.

Hopefully I’ll have many more moments like that, wherever God would like to meet me.

I love hearing why people love God. Won’t you send us your own video to share?

Listen as my friend Nathaniel Ferguson talks about the comfort he finds in God…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0c0v_O6PHIE

In many ways I am a modern woman.

I work outside the home, and my husband stays home with the boys. I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I have an iPad.

And yet I, Marketta Gregory, listen to Southern Gospel music. Think old-fashioned hymns. Think fiddles and piano players who wear cowboy boots. That is the music of my childhood, the kind I grew up singing every Sunday and Wednesday. The kind you usually associate with people 20 years older than me.

I just can’t help myself, and now that I’ve found “Southern Gospel radio” and “traditional country hymns” on Pandora, my boys have to listen to twangy songs the whole time I’m doing dishes. I think I’ve caught the teenager cringing but the 4-year-old will sometimes sing with me: Like a tree planted by the water, we shall not be moved…

It may be different than what they’re used to, but it helps me work with a more joyful, peaceful attitude and that’s something everyone in the house appreciates.

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