Sunday, June 26, 2016

We are so Precious to God.....

"10 Just then a hand touched me and lifted me, still trembling, to my hands and knees. 11 And the man said to me, “Daniel, you are very precious to God, so listen carefully to what I have to say to you. Stand up, for I have been sent to you.” When he said this to me, I stood up, still trembling.
12 Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer. 13 But for twenty-one days the spirit prince[c] of the kingdom of Persia blocked my way. Then Michael, one of the archangels,[d] came to help me, and I left him there with the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia." Daniel 10:10-13, NLT

In all the years I have read and studied my Bible, one of my favorite Bible stories has always been Daniel in the lion's den--and another was the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abnego in the fiery furnace. Beyond that, I knew the book of Daniel was about the end times, but I never paid much attention about those parts of the book.
Recently, though, in Sunday School, we have been doing Priscilla Shirer's new Bible Study, The Armor of God. The first lesson is all about understanding the importance of prayer as our first piece of armor and how we are already IN the heavenly realms. (If you need a new Bible Study, I highly recommend this one. It's fantastic.)
As I was doing my Bible reading this week, I was in the book of Daniel and I discovered that I have not given enough credit to the whole book. I "discovered" Daniel 9:23: "23 The moment you began praying, a command was given. And now I am here to tell you what it was, for you are very precious to God." (NLT) Even though I have read my Bible through a number of times throughout my life, it was as if I was reading this passage for the very first time. And it really struck me with a Holy Spirit power how Gabriel told Daniel that a command was given THE MOMENT Daniel began praying--and that Daniel was VERY PRECIOUS to God.
Do you see that? THE MOMENT Daniel began praying, God was answering his prayer. THE MOMENT Daniel began praying, God dispatched Gabriel to go to Daniel to minister to him and to explain the vision Daniel had seen. Daniel was so VERY PRECIOUS to God that THE MOMENT he began praying, God was hearing, listening, at the ready to respond.
Wow. I saw in awe of this passage and read it and re-read it probably a hundred times over the next several days. I shared it with my ladies in Sunday School and they seemed as much in awe of it as I was.
Then throughout the following days, I read Daniel 10 and I came to the passage above. Again, the angel Gabriel was sent to minister to Daniel THE FIRST DAY Daniel began praying to God. Of course, after getting excited over Daniel 9, I sat up straighter and paid more careful attention to the passage as a whole.
Notice carefully, though, that in spite of the fact that God sent Gabriel THE FIRST DAY Daniel began praying, it took him 21 days to get to Daniel. Do you see why?
That's the part that really struck me. Stay with me here.
As Gabriel was on his way to Daniel, he was blocked the "spirit of Persia." Now, whether you believe me or not, it is my understanding that this "spirit of Persia" is Satan, or at least one of Satan's minions. The "enemy" (Satan) kept the angel Gabriel from getting to Daniel for 21 days even though he had begun his journey to Daniel THE FIRST DAY Daniel had prayed to God! According to one source, the number 21 in the Bible represents "the great wickedness of rebellion and sin."  
Even the angels of God are subject to the enemy's determination to destroy our relationship with our Savior. 
Twenty-one days. That's almost a month. It's 3 weeks. In earthly terms, that's a LONG time. Or, it can be. 
But what I really want us to notice here is the fact that AS SOON AS Daniel began praying, God sent Gabriel to him, but Gabriel was detained. Daniel was considered "precious to God."
Do you realize that WE are considered PRECIOUS TO GOD, too?! Do you realize that THE MOMENT we begin praying, God sends His angels to minister to us?! Do you realize, though, that like Gabriel going to Daniel, the angels sent to us are also blocked by the enemy and/or his minions?! Do you understand that God RESPONDS TO OUR PRAYERS IMMEDIATELY? But the enemy knows that God answering our prayers is one way that we grow in our relationship with Him, so He does everything in his power to keep the angels of God from getting to us?!
So while we're on earth in our human bodies, crying and moaning and despairing of ever receiving a response from God, maybe, just maybe, God began answering our prayers THE MOMENT we began praying! 
We are Precious to God.
The Moment we begin praying to Him, He moves to answer.
God is a God who has given us free will which means that we must Pray as a way of letting Him know that we Receive Him--the gift of His Son--before He moves. But the MOMENT we begin praying, He is at the ready to respond!
The enemy is going to do everything he can to keep us from having a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. 
So the next time you pray and you don't receive an answer in the timeline you feel is appropriate, just remind the enemy that no matter how long he blocks God's angels from getting to you, you will WAIT because God answered your prayers the MOMENT you began praying. It is the enemy who keeps that answer from getting to us.
God HEARS and ANSWERS our prayers AS SOON AS we begin Praying, but we must begin praying first.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

My Daddy

When you were growing up, did you ever realize just how very much your parents LOVED you? As a kid, I didn't. My parents were my parents. They did what I assumed all parents did: provided food and shelter, gave us comfort, took us on vacations, made us spend time with our grandparents, helped with our homework, and so on and so forth. I mean, they were my Parents. I didn't have conscious expectations because my parents were simply always THERE--as I thought all parents were. I knew I was loved, but I had no idea the depth of that love.

My dad worked second shift most of my early growing up days, but he made it a point to come to school functions, volleyball games (even though I NEVER got to play), my Bible Drill competitions, and other various "important" activities for my brother and I. When I got in trouble for not completing an assignment at school, I remember my Dad sitting down with me at the kitchen table to help me with my homework--something he never did because he worked second shift. (I have no idea how he managed to be there unless it was a weekend or he had taken time off work. I've never thought to ask him.) The first thing Dad made me do was put my name, date, and the class and assignment information at the top of the page. I don't remember much more about that study session, but I do know that I made good grades throughout the rest of my education and to this day, I still date and label EVERYTHING and I encourage my son and my students to do the same.

I don't think I was a bad kid. I lived to please, so I was not in trouble all that often. When I was, though, punishment was swift and severe. One time in particular, my cousin and I had talked and giggled all through church in spite of the fact that I knew better and my dad had given me "the look" several times throughout the service. When we got home, Dad took both my cousin and I out to the barn where he proceeded to paddle me in front of my cousin. I have NEVER misbehaved in church since! (This was NOT child abuse. It was a clear, just punishment for a wrong I had committed.) 

It wasn't too long after that incident when Dad actually quit spanking me. It makes me smile to remember how he would pull me into a room, away from my brother, and lecture me about what I had done wrong and why I was being punished. Then he would tell me to bend over and proceed to hit the bottom of his shoe! I was warned NOT to tell my brother and to be sure I cried so Kenny (my brother) would believe I had been spanked! Believe me, crying was NOT difficult!!! LOL! 

My Dad was always so very loving that when the punishments came, I knew I had deserved them and that he was truly punishing me because he loved me. The very first Bible verse I had ever learned was, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1, KJV). I took that lesson very seriously. I wanted to do what was right, so I always tried to be a good girl. I think I was--mostly. My dad rewarded us often with compliments and other things that I tried never to take for granted. A trip to McDonald's was a real treat! As was a visit to Baskin Robbins! Dad was never too terribly demonstrative with his love and affection, but it was always clear to me that he loved me.

One thing I loved doing with my dad was watch certain tv shows and movies. I started watching James Bond movies at such a young age, I feel as if I have always been a Bond fan. I even wanted to grow up to be a Bond girl! I always loved watching football with my dad and brother, too. They loved it, so I loved it. I became a fan of Barbra Streisand because my dad loved her. Dad loved country music, especially Hee Haw and Roger Miller; I became a fan of those as well. Dad had these Roger Miller records and whenever I was home alone (which wasn't too terribly often), I would put on one of those records, play it as loud as I dared, and sang along at the top of my lungs! Dad also enjoyed the comedy of Jose Jimenez. I listened to his record so much, I not only had it practically memorized, but even 40 years later, I will quote Jose!

Mom and Dad both were my very first teachers. They taught VBS or Children's Church and they always did things (activities) that were fun and quite memorable. I still remember many of their lessons and, more than that, I model my teaching style after them. My friends and I always loved it when it was my parents' turn to teach class. 

One thing my dad did when I was little that made me feel extra-special was he took me with him on a trip to Florida to visit his parents. It was something like a 12-hour trip and, according to him, I talked to him THE WHOLE WAY THERE! Apparently I felt it was my "job" to help keep him awake while he drove. That trip made me feel as if my dad loved me just a little bit better than he did my [perfect] brother and I reveled in the feeling. Yes, I'll go so far as to say I glowed in his love.

When it was time to go to college, my parents made sure that I had that opportunity. I had wanted to go to a Bible College. Yes, in part to get my "MRS" degree, but I also honestly wanted a Biblically-based college education. Because my brother was only a year older and had chosen East Carolina University, to save money (and I'm sure a whole host of other reasons), my parents made me go there, too. I was crushed. My dad told me, though, that if I gave ECU one year, then at the end of that year, we would re-evaluate and decide about a Bible College then. Of course I readily agreed. (Note: once I started at ECU, I never thought about leaving or Bible college again--until I started dating a man who planned to go to Bible college.)

When I first got married, I thought I understood Love. I was so very much in love with my new
husband. He was so excited to be married and begin living my life with the man I had chosen to spend the rest of my life with. My dad gave me away and, in spite of the fact that I adored my parents, I was ready to move on--to move out. My new husband and I moved a few months later to Missouri (we live in NC) where we lived for the next three and a half years while my husband went to Bible College. 

Out of all our family, only one of my husband's 12 siblings came to visit us while we were in Missouri--with his family. All of my family came to visit, especially my parents. We lived there back when it cost a lot of money to make long-distance phone calls, so I didn't get to talk to my parents but maybe once a week. When my husband wanted to stay in Missouri for a few years after he graduated, my mom and dad helped him see what a bad idea that was by getting their pastor at the time to have my husband go home to be their pastor for a month while he (their regular pastor) went on a month-long vacation. I started packing the day I put my husband on the airplane! He called within a week to tell me that he thought we needed to go ahead and move back home even if it meant living with my parents until he got his first pastorate. My mom and dad were the ones who came to help us move back to NC. The only ones. We could not have moved as we did if they had not come. 

My mom and dad have always been my solid rock. I always knew I could rely on and depend on them, no matter what, But it wasn't until we lost our precious James Isaac that I TRULY understood the depth of my parents' love for me--my dad's in particular.

We had seen on the ultrasound that our worst fear was true and had made the decision to go ahead and induce my labor. My doctor asked if there was anyone we needed to call. I told him that yes, I needed to call my mom and dad. (My husband's parents had both passed by this time.) My doctor told us to go ahead and use the office phone in spite of the fact that it was a long-distance call. I don't think they ever charged us for that phone call.

I dialed the number and when my dad answered in his customary cheery, "Praise the Lord, Kinseys!" I said, "Daddy? Oh, daddy?"

That was all I said. But my Daddy KNEW. He immediately asked me if James was there and to hand him the phone. My husband proceeded to tell my dad what was going on while I wept. 

Several hours later, Mom and Dad finally arrived. We live four hours apart, so they came as quickly as they could. They hugged me as best they could considering I was in a hospital bed hooked up to tubes and wires and such. I noticed a nasty bruise around my mom's wrist. When I asked her what had happened, she told me that when she had gotten home from work, she was rushing around like a chicken with her head cut off in anticipation of getting supper ready, so my dad couldn't get a word in edge-wise. To get her attention, he grabbed her wrist, leaving the bruise.

The only time in my whole life I have ever known my dad to hurt anyone.

A number of years later, I was in the hospital again. This time it was because I had severely infected diverticulitis. As I've shared previously, I was literally at death's door. Dad came to see me and to get my son to take back home with him for Thanksgiving. I am told that by the time my dad got home after visiting with me, he himself had health issues that took several months to resolve--as a direct result of stress and worry.

I'd always known I was loved by both my parents. That was never a question. What I didn't know--truly understand--was the depth of their love for me. It shames me to say that I have often taken them and their love for me for granted. My dad has been THE example of what a true Daddy is. He has shown me by his love for me the love of my Heavenly Father and has taught me that because of his love for me, I am Special and Important--even when I don't feel special or important.

It is a shame that so many of us don't appreciate the love our parents have for us until we are older and/or have children of our own. I know this isn't everyone, but I'm sure I'm not the only one. I wish I could say that I have always been aware of the depth of their love for me, but the sad truth is that it wasn't until that moment when my Daddy KNEW when all I was able to say were three words that the full impact of his love for me hit me.

So on this Father's Day, when I say that I LOVE and appreciate my Daddy and that he is THE GREATEST Daddy in the world, I say it from the deepest part of my heart and soul with every fiber of my being......because my Daddy loved me first.

I love you, Daddy. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

I AM Defined by.....

Every so often, I hear about or read a story of someone who has overcome insurmountable obstacles to achieve his/her dream in life. Quite often, these folks say, very explicitly, that they do not want to be defined by the difficulties in their lives or the obstacles they have had to overcome. This one has cancer but doesn’t want her cancer to define who she is. That one has a skin disease and loudly proclaims that her skin disease does not define her.

I get where these folks are coming from. I really do. No one thing ever defines anyone. We are all defined by so much more than one event, or one physical aspect, or one outburst, or one moment, and so on and so forth. These things become very much a part of who we are, though, and to many people around us, make us THAT person.

For example, many of you have watched the wonderful video with Candace Payne putting on the Chewbacca mask and expressing her sheer joy. As we continue to hear about Candace, more often than not, she is referred to as the “Chewbacca Mom.” While it is her video that has made her famous, I am sure that Ms. Payne will agree with the fact that she is so much more than the “Chewbacca Mom.” I see from her website that she is a musician—the worship leader at her church. She is a teacher. Mom. Wife. And the list goes on.

I have often found myself agreeing with the statements of how
such-and-such does not and will not define me. But as I have lain here, desperately trying to fall asleep, I have been praying. And the Holy Spirit has revealed to me that I AM defined by the such-and-suches in my life. I am who I am—who I am becoming—because of everything I have been through, everything I love, everything I don’t like, those I associate with, and so on.

Without the specifics of my life, I would not be the Polly Anna I am. I AM defined by my child losses. I AM defined by the health issues I have struggled with. I am defined by these things and so much more…..

I am Polly Anna [Kinsey] Watson…..
            Mommy to James Isaac (stillborn March 17, 1999)
            Mommy to Panya Ruth (miscarried November 10, 1999)
            Mommy to Samuel Josiah (born May 1, 2001)
            Mommy to Anna Rose (miscarried November 22, 2005)
            Wife of James Allen
            Sister of Katie Kinsey Walston
            Sister of Kenneth E. Kinsey, Jr.
            Daughter of Ken and Posy Kinsey
            Lover of pandas
            Lover of movies

            Lover of pandas
            Sunday School teacher
            Pastor’s Wife
            One who is loud
            One who laughs
            One who cries
            One who has been at death’s door
            One who has watched angels battle demons of death for my very life
And so much more…….

Everything I do, everything I have done, everything I have experienced/been through in my life, all my loves, all my likes, everyone I come into contact with…..they all work together to make me ME. No one thing defines Polly Anna. They ALL define Polly Anna. As much as I believe that I wear my heart on my sleeve and that what you see is what you get, there are many people in my life who have no idea some of the things I have been through or many of the things I have felt or experienced over the years. It’s not that I keep these things secret; it’s simply that there isn’t anything for you to SEE when you look at me that shows all the things that define me.

I know that many people see a woman who [almost] always has a smile on her face and who always responds to “How are you?” with a loud, joyful, “Peachy!” Many people who look at me see a woman who has become quite large. (OK. I’m fat.) Many people see someone who is often overly enthusiastic.

But not everyone sees or knows that I battle depression—that I’ve battled it most of my adult life. I’ve only been on medication for it in recent years, though.

Not everyone sees that in spite of my attempts to CHOOSE JOY on a daily basis, I still grieve the loss of 3 babies. I always will. Pieces of my heart were buried with each baby.

Not everyone sees or knows that quite often when I get silly, I am fighting a sadness that is attempting to wash over me like a comfortable blanket.

You may be my friend on Facebook and read my daily Joy posts (The PollyAnna JOY Plan), but you may not know that I do them in a desperate attempt to find the positives in my life rather than focusing on and feeling the sadness and pain.

So no, I am not defined by JUST my child losses or JUST my health issues or JUST the fact that I am a teacher…. ALL work together to make me ME. I am not perfect. But in my imperfections, I am the perfect Polly Anna I can possibly be. Love me or hate me, I am so much more than……and so are you.