Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Super Nanny Phenomenon

In case some of you do not know, there is a show on ABC right now called Super Nanny, wherre a British nanny named Jo Frost comes to help struggling parents get control of the reins of their children. As I watch this show each week, I continue to be shocked and appalled at the severity of the children's behavior. I often ask myself, "How can two people allow their children to get so out of control?" It is so easy these days with the pressures of work and the world outside of the home. It is absolutely incredible to see just how much control the children have over the parents! The episode last night featured a family with three children, two twin girls and a boy. One of the twin girls slapped and spit all over her poor mother and she also pointed at her mother as if trying to scold her for putting this little girl in the "naughty corner". Don't you just love the sound of that. " Hey Joe go sit in the naughty chair for four minutes and think about what you did when you peed on your brother". Every week I seem to make mental notes about how I will not allow my children to act, but I am sure that they will act out of sorts sometimes, that is just the nature of kids. Be blessed today.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Bridal Showers

Today was a whirlwind in the Cunningham home. There were no two hour Sunday afternoon naps for any of us this afternoon. My mom was one of the hostesses for a bridal shower honoring Anslee Craig which took place at our house. So, in typical Cunningham fashion, the early afternoon was spent quickly tidying up before the inevitable onslaught of company arrived. As is usual for me, I was quite impressed that my mom could get everything so beautiful so fast! I always enjoy attending bridal showers because, to me, there always seems to be an air of abundant hope and infectious joy for the bride-to-be and her long-awaited groom. Bridal showers symbolize the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and hope of an everlasting union between two people that are committed to one another and most importantly, to the Lord. These times of celebration also serve to renew my hope, that in the not too distant future, the earnest prayer and desire of a Godly, passionately devoted, humble partner, friend, and bridegroom will come to fruition in my own life. It is so funny whenever I attend the weddings and showers of friends my own age because I think I could be up in front of God and a community of people making a covenant of lifelong love and committment to my own Heaven sent gift of grace. Lord Jesus, I thank you and praise you for the gift of weddings. I praise you for the invention and intention of the marriage relationship. My prayer for Josh and Anslee is that you will be the focal point of their union as one and that you will charge them to be focused on everything that is good and worthy of you. May they forever grow deeper into love for one another and you, but may they also always enjoy one anothers' individuality and uniqueness. Be blessed.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Friends and Hotel Rwanda

This weekend I was invited to go to Midland with Jordan Wesley, Meredith Rothschild, Katrina Weatherly, Jordan Swim, and Kevin Porter to visit Jordan W's dad and stepmom. It was a very relaxing weekend. Jordan's dad lives on a golf course, so as you might imagine, it was really rough! The weekend was also highlighted by delicious steaks and a pool. One of the things we decided to do was to watch Hotel Rwanda with Meredith because she had to critique the film for a class. I had heard that this was a must-see movie and so I had pretty high expectations. Hotel Rwanda was incredible although it wasn't as graphic as I expected it to be. This tale was one portrayed with such humility, I was deeply moved by the main character, Paul, because of his devotion to his wife and children and the Tutsi population. He literally saved thousands of people and their families. I was very impressed with this movie and I would encourage everyone to go see it. Be blessed.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Unexpected Affirmations

God has been busy this semester. I have asked him to make my spirit sensitive to the leading og the Spirit and he has lavishly delivered as usual. One way that God has blessed my journey of faith is by affirming me with the gift of some new friendships. These unexpected blessings have served as holy kisses from my God. It is like he is saying to me, "I see you and I love you Lauren." "Let me open up my storehouses of joy and lavish you with gifts of grace." I have been blessed by an incredible group of young women to pray with each week, these women have enriched my walk with the Lord in a way that is inexplicable. I have been challenged, affirmed, and cherished by the communion I have shared with these precious disciples. I hope that the relationships that have begun this semester will continue to be strengthened and grown in the years to come. It is such an incredible thing to know that God is intimately and passionately concerned about the joys of my journey. He sings his delight over me daily and I am so unworthy! Father God, I praise you and I thank you for the unexpected affirmations you have placed in my life the last few months. My prayer is that I may be an encouragement and blessing in the lives that you have blessed me with, may I strive to love and serve in ways that would bring a smile to your face and a smile to their hearts. You have abundantly lavished me with gifts that I do not deserve, but I am so thankful for. I surrender them back to you and I ask that you may be glorifed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Spring's Awakening

As Spring has made its entrance, I have been reminded of so many simple pleasures I have been blessed with. Some of the most cherished simple pleaures I enjoy are being around beloved friends, intercessing on behalf of others, the regal majesty of a sunset, reading a great novel, loving on our Yorkie, and writing. I have also been reminded of the beauty of God's creation. Spring has a way of teaching me anew, that every day is a gift. We are to enjoy it passionately, basking in its uniqueness, glory, and splendor. Each Spring, my senses are tantalized by the heady fragrance of a flower, the sound of birds making melody, the sight of a clear unencumbered blue sky, and the touch of the wind playing with my hair. Thank you Lord for the arrival of Spring and for the sense of renewal that it ushers into our lives. My prayer is that I will enjoy each new day with a renewed fervor and passion. Open my eyes and heart to recognize your innumerable blessings and new opportunities that you place in my path. Renew the eyes of my spirit to recognize the leading of your Holy Spirit, and his tender whisperings. I pray that you use this blessed season to help me to reclaim the sweetness of your promises. Sew my spirit to unreservedly welcome the cultivating and pruning of my heart. Have your way Lord. I am yours. Continue to emblazen your signature on all of who and what I am becoming.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sacred Moments

This has been a week filled with incredible sacred moments in the presence of the Lord. I have spent three days basking in his holiness and in the comfort of his throneroom. I don't know about you, but I find something sacredly sweet about being able to bow completely surrendered to the foot of the cross. I have felt an uncomprehensible sense of freedom as I have brought my desires and dreams to an incredibly sufficient Creator. Through the gift of silence and surrender, the Lord has been able to minister to me in a way that has been divinely intimate and soul-satisfying. I have been reminded of Jesus's command in Matthew that He be our daily bread. The last couple of days I have been able to feast upon his goodness, mercy, grace, and truth. It is incredible to know with all certainty that I am His child, I am an heir to everything that is of God. How did I get to be so blessed?! These precious times of communion with my Savior have served as reminders that God is continually taking my spirit deeper and higher into his character. I have been able to give my heart unreservedly to the Lover of my Soul and I have complete confidence that it will continue to yearn and thirst for the things God has in store. My prayer for myself as well as whoever may wander to this blog is that we will always be willing to be shaped and molded more closely into the image of Christ Jesus. Be blessed as you look for ways to commune with the Maker of all things good.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Hungering for Holiness

Throughout the last couple of weeks and days, my heart has been hungry. I am not speaking of a physical hunger. The hunger I am addressing is one that goes way beyond the physical realm. The Lord has revealed anew, a deep yearning within my spirit, to journey further into the inner courts of his holiness and blessing. I long to be taken deeper and higher into his majesty, his delight, and his splendor. My hearts' yearning is to be consumed with his favor and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I am so sick of living within my own comfort zone. This has been a place of complacency and mediocrity. I long to walk out on faith and to be shaped into a disciple that trys to empower those within my realm of influence to be ready to walk down any road God opens up to them. I long to show people that our Savior is a very dynamic, charasmatic, radical presence. He is not going to be found in "safe" places. The road Jesus calls his disciples to pioneer is one filled with opportunities to grow and to be stretched by the places and the people he calls us to. I am fascinated that in the days of his ministry, Christ was not satisfied to partially teach or to partially heal. He fully restored them unto redemption and hope. I pray that this is a message that my life proclaims with passion to a world that is searching. The journey that I have had with my Savior has been the most fulfilling, rich experirnce of my life. Being willing to follow the leading of a faithful, ever-present Father is something that has given my life meaning and purpose. My prayer today is that we all might ask the Lord to show us ways that we might sep out of the boat and to radically follow wherever He leads us. Be blessed today,

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Call to Prayer

If I might, I would ask that you be in prayer this week for three specific requests. The first one is the continued improvement and healing of Jon Westin Bennett. The doctors, as well as Wes, Terrie, and JW are hopeful he will be well enough to return to Abilene most likely the middle of this week. Isn't God good?! The second prayer request is regarding Kerri Lane, who was just diagnosed with melanoma on her abdomen. She is scheduled to meet with doctors tomorrow at M.D. Anderson in Houston to explore surgical options. Today in the ladies class I am a part of, we had the honor of surronding Kerri and laying our hands on her as we together, along with the groanings of the Holy Spirit, petitioned the Lord's help on her behalf. I was absolutely blown away by Kerri's victorious attitude, and furthermore, her desire to not miss any divine appointments God might put in her path. Please pray that God's will is done in this situation and that He alone will be glorified through its outcome. The final prayer request is for the continued progress and healing of Jonathan Shaub, a member of the Otter Creek Church of Christ in Nashville. I became aware of Jonathan's situation through reading Brandon Scott Thomas's blog. This young man has been on my heart ever since. I do not know him personally, but through the comments on his blog at kievster.blogspot.com, I know that he is a very powerful missionary in the Kingdom of Christ. Jonathan was walking out of his apartment in New York City and was hit by a car. He has been in the hospital ever since. Please pray that Jonathan would continue to find joy in each day and that the Lord would continue to bring healing and mercy to him. The Shaubs are an incredible testimony of God's love and grace. My faith has been grown and encouraged by the way they have walked each step of their incredible journey of healing for Jonathan. Thank you for joining with me as we bring these cherished servants to the foot of the cross. Be blessed today as you trust in Him.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

MInistry of Music

I often wonder what my life would be like if music were not a part of this world. For as long as I can remember, the gift of music has been an integral part of who I am. As I stop and think, I remember fondly, getting up on the window seat in my bedroom when I was about 5 or 6 and joyfully belting out whatever song was in my head or on the radio. I have always been one to catch onto the lyrics of a song very quickly, usually after the first time I hear something new and unfamiliar. Whenever I climb into the front seat of the car with my parents or my brother, my first reaction is to push the power button and turn up the volume. I think God created something within me that thrives off the gift and ministry of music. There are times that I yearn and thirst for its power to come and wash over me. God knew that his followers would need a unique and powerful avenue to freely express feelings that could not be formed into mere syllables. In my own life, music is used as an incredible agent to usher me into my communion times with the Lord. It seems to bring a somewhat tangible sense that I am in the divine presence of Christ and that I have an audience with the King and legions of angels. Music's ministry on my journey of faith is not limited to my times of communion with the Lord. I have felt the gentleness and authenticity of its healing through times of tragedy, doubt, disorientation, and confusion. This awesome gift ordained by God's hand has also seemed to allow me to ride on its wings as I have entered many seasons of joy, contentment, and satisfaction. I do have a few stipulations that guide my selection of music, so that it will cause me to grow and to be refined into the image of Christ. It is not at all my intention to imply that if a person listens to Country, R&B, or any other genre of music, they are bad. It is my desire to constantly be devoted to words and images that promote and honor things of God. I have learned over the years that what seeps into your mouth will gradually worm its way into the spirt and heart. Some of my stipulations include purchasing music that will uplift my spirit, bring a message of encouragement and hope, and music that will equip me to serve others more effectively. Some artists that have ministered to my spirit throughout all of its seasons have been Michael W. Smith, Third Day, Zoe, Phillips, Craig, & Dean, Twila Paris, Sarah Lynn Grubb, 4Him, Shane&Shane and many others. Music has left an indelible mark on me that I will be eternally thankful for. May God speak to your heart through the gift and ministry of music today.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Remembering Brody

The last couple of weeks my heart has held a new kind of grief for Bret, Jennifer, Taylor, and Brock Bourland. You see, as is customary this time of year, Brody's cherished Cedar Creek Little League held Opening Ceremonies. I can connect with the Bourlands' love of little league baseball because my family and I spent four years running the concession stand at Key City. The memories of the ballpark are some I will not soon forget. There is something precious about watching young men enjoy America's pastime. There is also nothing in this world like enjoying a Ballpark burger. One snapshot from Brody's funeral that I will carry with me forever is that his teammates who were at the funeral were dressed in their Cedar Creek uniforms to honor his love of baseball. I, like so many others at Highland, wish I had known this precious sixth grade boy who exemplified the character of Christ in every aspect of his life. My dad, Rob, had the opportunity to get to know him because he taught in the sixth and seventh grade boys class on Wednesday nights in the summer. His life will never be the same as a result of the influence of Brody Bourland. I have asked my dad the last couple of weeks if he could identify what made Brody special. He did not have to think for long! Brody exemplified humility, mercy, gentleness, authenticity, and joy in everything he was a part of. God was cultivating Brody's spirit to become an oak of righeousness. The Spirit of the Living God was overflowing from Brody's life. It seemed to touch everything he was a part of--in his family, his friendships, and every other activity he participated in. Brody has taught me how to be a more effective disciple. He has taught me how to look past outward appearances and into the heart of both people and situations. I will be eternally grateful to him. Father, I praise you for giving Brody Bret Bourland life, thank you for using his short eleven years to produce such abundant fruit. I praise you for using his death in a way that has brought a church together in a way that she will never be the same. I know that you had to have an annointed assignment for him in Heaven because I know that he could have been used powerfully on earth to proclaim and to display your glory in so many lives and in so many ways. Brody, you will never ever be forgotten. I know for a fact that I am not over your loss. Thank you for showing the world, through your life, that God's signature was on your heart.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Anticipating Summer

I don't know about you, but I am very eager for the arrival of Summer. This particular season invites a certain spontaneity and slow pace into my life that I seem to let slip during all the other seasons. I am ready for Rangers baseball games, Cajun Cones, and leisurely barbeques with friends and family. A little "surprise" excursion sounds really good right about now! My plan this summer is to relish the things that I truly cherish. Some of those things include enjoying the majesty of a sunset, getting sucked into a Francine Rivers novel, and going to lots of movies. I am very ready to put books and deadlines aside for three months to intentionally enjoy each day and surprise the Lord sends my way. My prayer for myself and all of you is that the Summer will provide the time to commune with the Lord in ways that are refreshing and new. One thing that God has really shown me this semester is not to be afraid of entering into His presence. A majority of my time is spent not wanting to sit in silence to truly listen to God. I think it is because I am afraid of what he will ask of me and of the ways he will ask me to grow. Let's face it, maturity is scary and uncertain. I pray that we remember that God longs to know us intimately and completely. God's desire is to grow us in discipleship. My prayer is that we would not shy away from these incredibly rich times of refinement. Let us take hold of the Master's hand and allow him to take us deeper and higher into his holiness. May you know the peace of Christ today.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Passing of the Pope

As you might imagine, I have been glued to CNN and ABC as John Paul II has lived out the final days and hours of his journey on earth. I have been incredibly humbled at the breadth of his legacy given to Catholicism. The message that I have recieved from John Paul has been one of humility, mercy, authenticity, compassion, and peace. As a fellow follower of Christ, I am thankful for the way that he trusted in the will of God. He encouraged the Catholic church to perservere in times of trial. I believe he knew that the refinement of one's character is one goal of being a child of God. My prayer in the days to come is that God would bless Rome and the Vatican as they show their respect, through times of mourning. Father, I praise you for allowing the Catholic church, and the world in a sense, to be led by a man who was a friend and champion of those who knew poverty and oppression. I thank you for allowing him to be a gentle and kind leader. I pray that as a result of the death of John Paul, there will be a revival of trust and belief in Jesus Christ. I ask that you remember the those that claim alligence to Catholicism as they mourn, please also pray for the upcoming Conclave that will gather in Rome to elect a new leader. May you know the height, depth, and breadth of the love of Christ today.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Glory of God

Today, as I walked into Chapel, I expected Praise Day, our Friday staple on the ACU campus. I was blessed to join the entire student body as we sang old familiar hyms. After about three songs, Dean Barnard approached the podium and announced that Max Lucado was going to share about some new service opportunities that are being implemented in Western San Antonio. Boy, was I blessed and challenged by his very timely message. His topic was the glory of God. Max remided us that we are not here for our own comfort, but we are here to proclaim God's glory. He also shared that God in his sovereignty, can use each of us whether in health or sickness, to help make His glory known. My prayer is that with each moment that I am given will be used to show the world the glory of my God. Be blessed today

The Gift of Community

After almost twelve years on this journey toward Heaven and further into the heart of God, I think I finally realize why community was so important to Jesus--in his personal life and in his ministry. Times surrounded by close friends and family and other familiar people are sacred and should be cherished. Jesus knew that his followers would need this type of relationship if their journey was to be fruitful. He knew that we would need to rely on the prayers and strength of others when we could not find it within ourselves. In my own life, there is quite a large group of this community. I call these cherished friends "my people". Some of these people I have asked for fervently and others have been sweet affirmations from the hand of God. Two of the most cherished members of this group have been my parents and grandparents. They have ever so gently modeled the character of Jesus and I will take that with me forever. Others in this community include the families in my small group, the Etters, the Bennetts, the Zellers, Jayma Savage, Squeaky Walker, Maria White, Kirsta Leeds and many others. Even though it seems that these two small words could not encompass my love for each one of you, I say thank you. Thank you for teaching and showing me, through the gift of your lives, what real discipleship looks like. Thank you for giving me a hunger for truth, thank you for teaching me to pray and to intercede on behalf of others, thank you for teaching me to serve. Most importantly, thank you for giving me the gift of Jesus, thank you for teaching me to hold fast to his promises. Thank you for the assurance that God's signature is on my heart forever. My journey with my Savior is what it is because of each of you and so many others. I love you and I treasure the relationships we share.