Listening to Abba: 2016

This Really Happened at Winn Dixie!


While putting my groceries in the back of the car, a lady tried to pull into the empty parking space beside me.

"Ma'am, " she spoke to me from her open car window, "am I going to make it?"

I turned to survey the situation, "No ma'am, you're not. You're about to hit that car. " I warned.

"Oh dear, " she lamented, "I don't have reverse in this car."

I took stock of her vehicle. Oh my! Only in Alabama! Let me tell you, this car was held together with duct tape and chains! I'm not kidding. It looked like she drove it off the scrap yard. See for yourself:


She got out of her car and tried to push it backwards to avoid rear-ending the other car.

My mind scrambled, "Oh dear, she needs help and I have a bad back; I can't help her. Or, can I? What am I to do?" I threw up a prayer to God and helped her push the car, very mindful that my first back injury occurred when I was pushing a car. Eek!

We pushed it just enough to avoid collision - (I even had to help her turn the steering wheel because she also had no power steering).

She safely parked in another space and I returned to put the remaining groceries in my car. As i did, I prayed, "Papa, please provide a better car for this woman."

"Give her the orange car." God whispered.

"Yes!" my heart jumped at the idea. The "orange car" was the Preacher's old Dodge Neon that we've been trying to sell for a few dollars or find a needy recipient. God landed Doris right in our laps.

Closing the hatch, I walked toward her. She was moving toward me as well.

"I wanted to tell you thank you," she said with appreciation. "Most people don't take the time to help."

"No problem," I returned, "And, I think I may have a car for you."

"Really, how much?"

"Not sure, let me check with the owner, and I'll get back with you."

We exchanged phone numbers and went on our merry way.

The Preacher was more than happy to give the orange car to Doris when I shared the story with him. So the next morning we carried it out to her and transferred the title into her name. Can I just say that we HAD SO MUCH FUN doing this?!



We discovered that Doris lived in a little RV in a park not far from us. Doris met us with her neighbor Ricky. So the four of us, the Preacher, Doris, Ricky and I stood in front of her beat-up-duct-taped-chained car and fellowshipped a bit. We all celebrated how God had orchestrated the events. Lots of hugs and thank you's and giving God the glory. 

When we drove away, Doris had her purse on her arm, keys in hand, and was ready to take a test drive in the orange car. The old Honda was being retired at the ripe old age of 400+K. Oh happy day!


Me with Doris and Ricky, Picture courtesy of the Preacher.
I love it when God shows up in the routine of life and whispers in our spirit to follow His lead. Listening to Abba on a regular basis helped prepare me for that moment. I'm so grateful. There is nothing more satisfying than participating in what God is up to in this world.

And, drum roll please, no back pain!



©Kinsey Oglesby, September 5, 2016

Please share with me what God has been doing in your life!

Kisses for Bobbie: A story of a Daughter's Love

I wanted my mom to love and cherish me. To teach me how to dress, wear makeup, choose friends, show hospitality, and find a mate. To hold me when the world was harsh, to comfort me when my dreams were shattered, to listen with rapt attention to my ideas and prattle.  To be proud of me for starring in the school play, to slip me notes in my lunch.  To crawl in bed with me and giggle, tell me stories, hold me tight, and kiss my eyes closed. She never did.


It was difficult for mom to raise five children.  Kind words, encouragement, and praise were seldom spoken. Disparaging remarks and criticism were more the norm.  Mom scared me; I never felt emotionally safe with her.  Most of my childhood was spent flying under the radar, avoiding the fray.  As I grew older, my wounds became the breeding ground for resentment and bitterness.  By the time I left home, I wanted to walk away and never look back. 

But God.

God taught me a better way;  the way of love.  Mercifully, He would not let me walk away. He would not let bitterness and resentment define me. It took years of messy work to uproot those enemies. He helped me see the deep pain in my mother’s soul that prevented her from receiving and expressing love.  She was gripped with fear and anxiety and inner sufferings of her own.  God graced my heart with compassion and forgiveness.  He helped me to let go of my expectations and to treat mom with respect and dignity.  But He didn’t stop there. He taught me to love her in the ways I longed to be loved.


Long story short, when mom was no longer able to live independently, the Preacher and I took up residence with her.  For years we watched both her mind and body decay.  She was utterly dependent on us for every need.

Not only did she need us to watch over her, but mom’s body needed attention. Touching my mom was uncharted territory; the thought of it made my stomach queasy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love touch; it’s one of my love languages.  But touching my mom?  That was a different story.  There was no familiarity and no emotional connection; caring for her body took me to a whole other level.  I had to cut her nails, clean her nose, irrigate her ears, wash her hair, change her diaper, bandage her wounds and do all manner of stuff too personal to write here.  Our loving Father used this experience to close the gap on love. I did all these things dutifully and kindly. 
Mom, aka"Bobbie"

But God. 


(There are those two words again). 

He spoke to me one day about mom.  “She’s my princess, my darling Bobbie.  Thank you for caring for her.  I love her so much and I can’t wait until she is here with me.  Until then Kinsey, let her know how much I love her. Be me with skin on.”   Whoa.  When He exposed His heart toward my mom I was floored.  I saw her in a new light; she was one of God’s greatest treasures.

God flipped a switch in me. The next day I went into her room with an awareness that I was entering sacred territory.  God’s princess was lying in the bed, His beloved “Bobbie.”   I bent down and smothered my mom’s face and neck with kisses.  That day my touch went from holy duty to holy relating.  The healing in my soul was complete.  Praise God.

Since then, I’ve lost count of the kisses and tender touches I’ve given mom.  But it wasn’t me, it was the God of the universe loving on His princess.  I was just the vessel.

In my life I’ve made a lot of mistakes, wounded many people, and failed to love.  But there is this one little place in my soul – where love won out. And if I don’t get anything else right I can revel in the transformation of my heart towards my mother.

Mom went to Jesus a few days ago.  I had one hand on her head, brushing back her hair, and one hand over her chest feeling it rise and fall.  Her breath became shallower and shallower, the rise and fall became barely noticeable.  Then it stopped. She left this earth while I was touching her and entered into heaven where Jesus was waiting with “Kisses for Bobbie.”
Mother's Day 2016


When I die don’t cry for me
In my Father’s arms I’ll be
The wounds this world left on my soul
Will all be healed and I’ll be whole.

It don’t matter where they bury me
I’ll be home and I’ll be free
It don’t matter where I lay
All my tears be washed away.



I love  you Mom!  I can hardly wait for us to look in each other's eyes and love deeply, purely, and completely from a place of perfect holiness.


Postlude:

Mom did love us; she just didn’t know how to express it.  We have found some of her prayer journals in which she desperately sought God’s transformation of her tongue and heart. She matured into a very generous woman who sponsored countless orphans through Compassion international, and other good works for God.  Additionally, she was a gracious and loving MeeMaw to her grandchildren.

Broken people can be used by God.  In fact, it’s the only kind of people He uses!  Like me, Mom got it right in some areas, and not so good in others.  It seems contradictory, but that’s how it is when God is in the process of cleaning up our messy hearts and lives.  Some things won’t be fixed until glory.  Until then, we need to give each other’s imperfections wide berth.  God is transforming us all in His own time and way.  One day we will all live in holy love.


©Kinsey Oglesby, Soul Care Coach, Writer, Speaker

Laura's story . . . I knew God loved the world, but did He love me specifically?



I never believed that God’s love targeted me specifically;
it was more like God blanketed the earth with a generic
kind of love.  I didn’t feel worthy of His personal affection.

Things are very different now.  After participating
in the Listening to Abba group I have found God’s
love to be very personal and specific for me.

Kinsey showed how God has been actively and
passionately pursuing us throughout history in order
to draw us into an intimate relationship with Himself.
She led us into His presence and helped us learn
how to ask God questions and listen for His response.

I was blown away by how He spoke to me.  God spoke in words of tender love and reassurance, offering comfort, peace, release, and joy. I learned that what I thought was His voice before, was not actually His voice at all.  God doesn’t speak in condemnation and judgment; Christ took care of all that on the cross. Of course He convicts and corrects, but it’s always cloaked in love and mercy.  I guess that shouldn’t surprise me so much, after all God is love!

This experience has opened me up to possibilities of relating to God in ways I never imagined.  My almost non-existent prayer life has been turned upside down.  I look forward to our time together now.  I am more aware of His presence throughout the day and my ear is tuned to hear His voice.  I love it when He surprises me with a song or word that I wasn’t expecting.  He is love!

I’m so thankful that God showed me a new way of relating to Him.  Now I look forward to a going deeper and enjoying a vibrant relationship with my Heavenly Father, my Abba.

 Laura Fortney, Greenville, SC

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Where is Your Time Best Spent? What Scripture Says . . .

So the Twelve called a meeting of all the believers. They said, “We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program. And so, brothers, select seven men who are well respected and are full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will give them this responsibility. Then we apostles can spend our time in prayer and teaching the word. Acts 6: 2-4 NIV


The early church was growing in leaps and bounds.  New believers were selling their properties, pooling their money, taking care of the poor, feeding the widows and more.  It was waaay too much for the twelve apostles to keep up with.  So they called a church meeting and said, “Look, we don’t need to be spending our time running a food program, we need to be focusing our energies on prayer and teaching of the word. Let’s choose some Godly men to take over this ministry to the widows.” 


Everyone liked the idea so they selected seven men, laid hands on them, and commissioned them to run the food ministry to the widows.  The apostles were then free to use their primary giftings of prayer and teaching the word.


Was the food program beneath the apostles?


Absolutely not.  I imagine a little old lady cupping the face of Peter and in a quivering voice say, “Thank you. thank you.. I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from.”  Then a playful Peter kisses her on the cheek and calls out, “Hey Matthais, give this woman an extra slice of babka!” *  

The apostles were overjoyed to let God’s love flow from them to the widows.  But as the food distribution grew larger and larger it began to eat away at their time; time that was better spent in prayer and teaching.  Better spent, not because it was more important, but because it was where their strengths and giftings lay.  They could best serve God’s purposes using their unique gifts. 

Was the ministry to the widows secondary?


Absolutely not.  Consider how carefully and prayerfully seven men were selected.  They had to be well respected, full of the Holy Spirit, and wise.  Sounds like a tall order just to serve food, right?  But it was more than serving up food, it was serving up God’s love to the poor and needy.   “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Gal. 5:14 NIV 

Both ministries were important; both required God’s Spirit, wisdom, and integrity.  The issue for the apostles is where they could best serve the church, and the conclusion was to serve in the area where they were most gifted.  That’s where they should spend their primary time and energies.  The whole church agreed on this and it freed the apostles to do what they did best.

As I reflected on this passage this morning, I asked God, “What are my giftings?  Where is my time best spent.?” To which He replied, “Relating, teaching, coaching, writing, praying, and leading.”  I wrote these words on my blackboard.  They will serve as a guide for how I order my days, how I make decisions, and how I spend my time.

What about you?  
  • What are your gifts?  
  • Where is your time best spent?  
  • How does your life live in concert with your unique giftings?  
  • What keeps you from operating in your gifts?


Leave me a comment, I'd love to hear your response. Kinsey@listeningtoabba.com

Use this post as a devotional in your small group.  



*Babka is a a loaf-shaped coffee cake made with sweet yeast dough to which raisins, chocolate, or nuts may be added. Yum.  Okay, I confess I had to google “Jewish desserts” to come up with that.  Are you impressed?





I Never Felt Good Enough



 “I’m so ordinary, I can’t stand it” I wrote in my journal.  With utter contempt, I weighed, measured, and found myself wanting.  Insert a deep soul sigh.

I had to be extraordinary.    No area of my life escaped my compulsion to excel - parenting, ministry, work, marriage, home, health, weight, and more. It was exhausting trying to keep up with myself, and was draining my family and friends.  Whenever I came close to my ambiguous goal, I unconsciously raised the bar. Mercy!

No matter what I did, it was never good enough.  Never. I was unaware that the real problem resided deeper - an unmet longing to feel loved, valued, and significant

Then my life fell apart - I mean a real come-apart!  My marriage crumbled, my children left home, I faced health issues and financial losses out the wa-zoo. My once model family and life evaporated, leaving me feeling embarrassed and humiliated. I crumbled into a miserable and broken heap at the foot of the cross. “Help me Jesus!” I cried, “I’ve made such a mess of things!”

And He answered -but not how I thought.  He scooped me up and lavishly loved me.  He didn’t cast stones, didn’t chastise, or turn His back away in disgust.  He loved me; deeply, tenderly, and mercifully.  He tended my soul wounds.

His gentle love enabled me to take an honest look at myself.  I really wasn’t good enough.  Never would be.  But it was okay.  It was gloriously okay because Jesus stood in my place.  He was “good enough” for me!  God was not concerned with my performance; He didn’t need me to impress Him.  He adored me “as is.”  What a relief!  I could be broken.  I could be ordinary.  Oh happy day!

I found the sweet, intoxicating, and unconditional love of the Savior and it changed everything.  My whole life is lived through a different grid now.  I live out of love instead of for love.  I’m free to accept my shortcomings and free to accept other’s shortcomings too.  My family is relieved – they are finally off the hook to make me look good.  Let happy dancing ensue.

I return to God, again and again with the same heart questions, “Am I loveable?”  The answer is always a resounding, “Yes, my darling, I cherish you.”  He never gets tired of reassuring me.  He actually created this vacuum in my heart; it was never intended to be filled by anything or anyone other than Him.

Now, from the safety of God’s love, I can see my strengths and weaknesses more objectively.  It’s okay that I don’t have someone else’s body, lifestyle, personality, or gifts. From the shelter of His love I know that I hold a valuable place in the body of Christ , even if it is never recognized by others.  My very being makes God happy.  Who knew?

Oh that every woman would encounter the Savior’s sweet and exhilarating love.  It awaits us all. And it’s all because of Jesus.