Brazos del Dios

Today was literally a dream come true. Seriously. Last Thanksgiving when I was finishing “Same Kind of Different As Me”, I looked at Pete and said . . . “I am soooo going to Rocky Top Ranch one day”. Pete replied, “Carm, there’s not a doubt in my mind that you will.” Well guess what . . . I did today!!!

Ron owns a ranch west of Ft. Worth called Rocky Top. It sits on top of a mountain above the Brazos River. Ron & Deborah spent many years coming here with their children. The view is absolutely gorgeous and the feel of the ranch is that of a peaceful retreat. When no one is talking the silence is deafening. The ranch house itself is gorgeous and was built to look old. Ron shared a story that when the cabinet guy was putting in the kitchen cabinets, Ron asked him to “beat them with a hammer to make them look old and worn”. The carpenter said, “Mr. Hall with all due respect – I just can’t do that to my craft.” So Ron jumped in his truck and went and beat the cabinets himself!

A ways from the house is the cemetary that Ron & Denver built for Miss Debbie. Around the grave is a wrought iron fence with an archway that reads “Brazos del Dios” meaning “the arms of God.” Nearby is a leaning tree and a flat rock. This was Deborah’s favorite spot on the ranch. She felt the leaning tree and the flat rock made a natural gazebo. I sat on this rock with Ron today and stared at Deborah’s headstone. I said to Ron, “how is it that one life can cause someone to fly from Florida to come and see a glimpse of a life of someone whom I’ve never met? Could you ever imagine when Deborah died that you’d be sitting here with a complete stranger totally moved by her life?” Only God and Deborah’s obedience could orchestrate such a thing. I’m sure if someone told Deborah the impact that she would have for YEARS to come regarding homelessness and selflessness, she wouldn’t have been able to wrap her brain around it. Let her be an example of the impact and influence of one person.I can’t even begin to imagine the pain that Ron, Regan, Carson and Denver have felt. A pain I hope I don’t know anytime soon. But . . . knowing Deborah through Ron & Denver, I believe if God gave her an option to do it another way, I don’t know that she would have. Just in our listening area alone, look at the number of people who have been impacted by her story . . . and in turn are reaching out to our homeless brothers & sisters. We’ll never know how far reaching til we’re on the otherside of this life.

I believe Deborah was probably a lot like Paul. She counted it a joy to share in His sufferings, so that God may be glorified.

“. . . if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.”
1 Peter 2:20.

She is . . . after all . . . now in the arms of God.

Houston, We have a Problem . . .

Not really. Landed in Houston today with my friend, Patina, and it’s the only title I could think of. However, I think the road system in Houston is a problem. Not only is Houston really spread out, it’s also the most confusing place that I’ve ever driven. But . . . we do have TomTom and that is comforting.

We caught up with my sister in broadcasting, Susan O’Donnell at KSBJ in Houston. Susan is one of my favorite people. She does mornings at KSBJ and conincidentally Dave worked with Susan in Houston for about 4 years. Casting was in concert tonight at the Toyota Center. I must confess it was nice to see a show and not be working!!!

We went to a Mexican restaurant called Pappasitos. Can I just say that they have the best con queso dip that I’ve ever had in my life!! So good that I might go back to Houston just for that!!

The Summer Cruise II . . . We're Not Who We Were

Most mornings on my drive to work, my prayer starts like this: “God, thank you for my life. Thank you for this radio ministry and thank you for letting me be a part of it!” Seriously. And after this past week, my prayer is even more heartfelt.

Last week (July 16-20) our morning show, The Morning Cruise, “cruised” our listening area broadcasting LIVE from 10 different locations in 5 days. Actually the broadcasts are simply a means to hang out with our listeners. We hug them. They hug us. We take pictures. (Lots of pictures!) We hear their stories. They tell us how The JOY FM has been a significant part of their lives, or how that certain song was played at just the right time. We call it The Summer Cruise, but simply put, it’s a family reunion!

Added to this year’s Cruise was Brandon Heath. Brandon is a national recording artist. He is a Christian. And if I was accurately describing him I would say that he is a servant-hearted follower of Jesus. Brandon’s debut album, Don’t Get Comfortable has already produced two radio singles, “Our God Reigns” and “I’m Not Who I Was”. The latter is currently #1 on the Contemporary Christian (CCM) charts. To say that this song has spoken to hearts across the country is a gross understatement. “I’m Not Who I Was” speaks to who we are before Christ, and who we are after Christ. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”

“I’m Not Who I Was” is intensely personal for Brandon. While he protects the identity of the person he’s writing about in the song, (and no, it’s not an old girlfriend! J) he willing confesses that he had some un-forgiveness in his heart. Before Christ. The music video to this song is simple, yet powerful. Folks are holding whiteboards and written on them are who they were before Christ and who they are after receiving Christ. We did our own version of the music video with our listeners on The Summer Cruise. For example, one listener wrote “Bartender”. The next board stated “Bible Teacher”! Other examples were more inward: Angry to Controlled; Depressed to Joyful.

As listeners were sharing their one-word/phrase testimonies for the video, I was struck by what a sense of community I felt. I was overwhelmed by the honesty and confidence that I saw. The scripture hit me afresh. We ARE new creatures. We’re all in this together and the transforming power of Jesus is something so much bigger than we can even comprehend. Addictions are broken. Relationships are restored. Hurts can be healed.

At one stop in particular . . . in and around the organized chaos . . . I happened to glance over and I saw Brandon singing to a young, blind boy leaned over the tray of his wheelchair. No bright lights, no big stage. Just an artist singing to his audience of one. O.K.,maybe 2. No doubt God was smiling.

The Summer Cruise II. 10 towns. 5 days . . . we’re not who we were 6 days prior.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekgp3OGTztw]

He rejoices over me with singing!

Wanted to take a minute and share some thoughts from this past weekend with Chonda. Wow.

Without question, she was “vintage Chonda” and hysterically funny. However, that was only the first half of the night. Right before intermission, she told us that when we came back she was going to be sharing some things with us that had no punch line. And it absolutely did not. As most are aware, Chonda has been dealing with depression for the last 18 months. But quickly her depression led to total despair. She was candid, raw, and transparent when she pulled back the curtain to her “real” life as a preacher’s kid. A preacher that lived vastly 2 different lives.

There really are no words to tell you how powerful and spirit-filled the evening was. For those of you that were there, you can attest to that summary. Of course mixed in to her testimony was all the humor that one would expect. Chonda was hospitalized this past January against her wishes, but this was a decision by her husband and brother made to protect Chonda . . . from Chonda. It was while she was in the hospital (and after a Build a Bear visit to the mall with 30 other psychiatric patients!) that she had her turning point with God. Let’s just say there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. You were laughing and crying at the same time! She stayed with women all 3 nights and prayed with them in the altar to almost midnight. She called it having “group”.

God Bless Chonda! Truly. I am a forever fan. Not because she is a comedienne, tho she is a terrific one, but because she is following Jesus with reckless abandon. She mentioned last night that we may be witnessing the end of her career because of her honesty. I disagree. This is the beginning.

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